Sunday, October 29, 2017

Making The Most Of Halloween

As I've said before, Halloween is not as celebrated in Costa Rica as it is in the States, but every year it becomes more and more recognized.  And more places not only decorate for the occasion but host events to mark the day as well.

We were fortunate again to participate in the Fantasy Day Halloween event at Lincoln Plaza mall this year. Similar to the event last year, they had a costume contest, free activities for the kids like a moon-bounce, face painting and free cotton candy.  However, this year's event was even better.  We were able to walk freely around the mall and trick or treat at a bunch of participating stores and it was so much fun. The kids got a ton of candy and a taste of what it would be like to ToT back home.  It was also a bit nostalgic for me because it truly did remind me of when my oldest was younger and we would take him to the Prudential Center Pru Boo Halloween event in Boston. 

Best part was the kids had a blast and we were able to do something special for Halloween again this year.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

So Much Shopping

To say I love to shop is a bit of an understatement.  I mean, I literally could shop all day.  Well, maybe not an entire day but pretty much shopping for me can take hours.  It's like a marathon where I think I must hit as many stores in a certain amount of time.  It's just so much fun.  Plus it gets even better when I shop clearance sales.  Bargain hunting gives me such a high, when I know I am saving money while I shop.

So far, as it stands, this being October 22, I have completed my Christmas shopping for my 4 year old.  I also pretty much bought all the stocking stuffers for my older kids, minus about 3 items for my 17 year old.  I think that is pretty damn good seeing as I still have just over 2 months until Christmas.  Shop 'till you drop?  Yes, I could do that. 

I went to about 4 different toy stores, 3 department stores, and a few Dollar Tree type stores for all my loot and I got a great deal on pretty much all the gifts I got.  I feel so good right now, like I've accomplished some great feat.  I feel ready for the holiday season.  I still have more shopping ahead of me but I know I can get it all done before time runs out.  Christmas will not sneak up on me this year and I won't be stressed out searching for last minute gifts.  I will be prepared, ready to conquer my list.

I have to say, it does help not having an enormous list to get through.  My kids will not be getting an extravagant amount of gifts nor will I be spending an enormous amount of money on said gifts.  A few gifts under the tree to unwrap, about 6 or so.  And then about 10 stocking stuffer gifts per child.  I set a budget of about $200 this year for each of my 4 children, which gives me an overall budget of $800 total for all their gifts this Christmas.  I think that's a reasonable amount to spend on the kids.  It is about double what I've spent the last couple of years but we all know the saying, as the kids get older their gifts tend to get more expensive so I am bracing myself for that. 

I have their lists and have been shopping around to get the best deals so I can stay on budget.  Now, saying that, the budget is all relative.  I would love very much to come in under budget if at all possible but I could more than likely go over.  I won't beat myself up if that happens.  As long as I know I got the best deals for the gifts I bought, that will make me happy.  Plus, seeing my kids reaction to the presents on Christmas is what it's all about and makes it all worth while. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

No Time For Breakfast

You know when you're so busy, you don't even have time to sit for even 5 minutes to have a quick breakfast?  That was me on Thursday.  The entire week had me feeling like I could not catch my breath but Thursday took the cake. 

I usually don't EAT breakfast in the mornings.  Just a steaming cup of hot chocolate (3 packages mixed with water to be exact), will do me good for breakfast most days.  However, Thursday, all I managed to eat for breakfast was half of a banana that I shared with my 4 year old.  I didn't even find the time to sit down to eat it.  I literally wolfed it down while rushing to my car in the supermarket parking lot.  Yeah, classy!

The week was a busy one, but a really interesting one too.  Tuesday and Wednesday, I was a judge at the Regional English Festival.  The event started at 7:30, which meant I had to be up and dressed by 6:45 am.  Can you tell I'm not much of a morning person.  I can get up, but to have to get READY that early?  Me no like!

Thursday I was a presenter at the kids school for the Cultural Day celebration.  I did a presentation in front of the entire school assembly style on my homeland of Jamaica.  Since Culture Day is celebrating different cultures, I had to inform a group of students about Jamaican culture and history.  Having very little knowledge on that subject matter myself, I had to do a bit of research which meant I had homework I had to do.  That kept me busy most of Wednesday night, until I finally called it quits at around 12am.  And of course, I was up at 6am on Thursday, where I had to drop the kids at school, rush my 4 year to playgroup and then rush back to the kids school for my presentation.

If I felt out of breath, it's because I was going about 3 miles a minute trying to get it all done in a short amount of time.  I could have done most of the project a day or so earlier but seeing as my brain refused to shut down at the beginning of the week, I ended up with a massive headache Tuesday night, rendering me useless.

On top of having to do all my other duties as a mom and housewife, I was also running around shopping for Christmas.  But it's Friday now and as quickly as the week came, it's over.  And so is my super hectic week.  I have to admit though, that it was all worth it.  I had a very good week and gained a lot by having given my time to a few good events.  As for tomorrow, I will sleep in and take a lazy day. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Getting Organized For Christmas

Now that I don't have any more birthdays to celebrate, I can now start planning for the upcoming and fast approaching holiday season.  Yes, it is that time of year again when we have to start thinking about Christmas: gifts, traditions and budget.

I like to get a head start of the season for many reasons.  Reason number one, I have 4 children I have to buy presents for.  Reason number 2, we are a large family with one income so we don't have a big budget or a lot of extra cash for the holidays; that means lots of planning and preparedness is key to make our dollar stretch.  And reason number 3, I like to enjoy the season and not be stressed so planning ahead and having a game plan for how I want the season to go helps with that.

This year, we're keeping our traditions the same, just changing up the budget a little bit.  I like to keep Christmas simple and I try not to go overboard but as the kids get older, I realize budgets tend to grow as the gifts they want tend to be a little more on the expensive side.  So this year in anticipation of that, I have increased the budget to $200 per child.  Making a budget and getting an early start on the season not only keeps me accountable and helps me keep track of how much I'm spending, but it also prevents me from over spending.  It is very important for me to stick to an overall budget while making sure that I keep the gifts at an even number for each child.

So I went through my gift stash to take stock of what I have on hand and what I need to buy.  I made a list of gift ideas for the kids and I have the kids' gift wish list as well, to give me a better idea of the gifts they are asking for and really wanting for Christmas.  Having this list will keep me on track and help me keep track of what I am buying and what I have already bought so I don't overbuy, which goes back to not overspending.

I find this time of year so much fun,  What with Halloween and Thanksgiving around the corner, there is so much to look forward to before we hit the yuletide season smack in the face.  And if I plan to enjoy every minute of the holidays, It's always a good idea to have a plan.  Now, plans don't always go as planned, but just a relative idea of what I want to get done and how I want to get things done is enough to keep me sane this season.

Along with a budget in mind and my list, I have also started shopping and stashing away a few gift items.  It is never too early to start shopping for Christmas and just the rush of knowing that I have gotten a head start is enough to make me want to stay organized and keep on top of my plans for the holidays.  With September now behind us and October almost coming to a close, I look forward to all the shopping sprees and holiday activities in my future.