Friday, November 14, 2014

Almost there!!!

Do you spy that Physics book in the lower left hand corner of ths photo? Yes, I took physics, and once I hand in my last homework assignments I'll have passed with an A!!! I can't believe it!! That's the third straight class I've taken this year. Holy cow I cant wait for this one to be done!!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Default Parent

Motherhood is my choice.

I try not to compare apples with oranges, or my life with others, but every now and then I read articles that I try to relate to, often about parenting. And let me be plain about this, the majority of literature about parenting assumes there are dual heads in the household. This article is one of many that imply just such.

I was reading the article and found this segment which I could relate to:

'Mum, mum, mum, mommy, mom, mom, mama, mommy, mom. All. Day. Long. I handle the needs of all three of our kids: activity sign-ups, transportation logistics, doctor & dentist appointments, friend and boy issues, hurt feelings, school fundraisers, gift buying, haircuts, clothes shopping, and thank you note writing, which, incidentally, is the work of the devil. I also manage the organization of drawers between seasons to see what fits. This is a crap job that only the default parent even knows exists.'
Default parents know the names of their kids' teachers, all of them. They fill out endless forms, including the 20-page legal document necessary to play a sport at school, requiring a blood oath not to sue when your kids gets concussions, because they are going to get concussions. They listen to long, boring, intricate stories about gym games that make no sense. They spell words, constantly. They know how much wrapping paper there is in the house. The default parent doesn't have her own calendar, but one with everyone's events on it that makes her head hurt when she looks at it. They know a notary. They buy poster board in 10-packs. They've worked tirelessly to form a bond with the school receptionists. They know their kids' sizes, including shoes, dammit.'

But.....then this happened:
'And by the way, this blog is in no way a competition between husband and wife for who has it worse. My husband is the default earner, the default lawn mower and the default spider killer, which all come with equal stress and dissatisfaction that he is welcome to blog about. He's also incredibly helpful and an awesome husband and parent. But, in my defense, the lawn and spiders don't say "mommy" a hundred times a day, and his boss doesn't come on vacation with him. Just sayin'. And he'd be the first to admit that I got the short end of the stick. His face hurts when I rattle off only the few things I manage. So, he helps a lot. But, in terms of logistics and administrative duties, he's the back-up parent.'

My thoughts? Being a single parent means you are the default parent on everything. I dont delve in to my personal life much here but will say that my son and I function without the presence of the other half. There are no visits, no Christmas cards, no child support....he's gone. He's not dead, he is intentionally absent in our lives of his own volition. It's hard sometimes because not only am I the default parent but I'm the default earner and default mower of the lawn.

I hear so many dual household people complain though, to my married friends who have similar views as to this mother, I would ask why you dont require your other half to participate more equally to share what you feel is such a burden? If I'm ever lucky enough to meet someone again in my life I know communication will be the key. Things in my first marriage which didn't work could have been avoided if only we were better communicators. Sadly we never got to the point of wedded bliss with play dates, multiple children, and cookouts in the backyard and walks in the park. No, the things I envisioned my life to be are drastically different from what I imagined they would be when I said 'I do', and drastically different from when my now ex husband and I decided to have a child together. For a single parent who is truly single and on their own being the default everything seems unfair at times, but what would be more unfair is for me to launch that state of burden on my child.

So where does that leave a defaulted defaulter such as myself? In the grown up chair. I wont back out of my son's life, I wont participate less, and I wont stop working my job or doing things I like. I see parents who are no longer together and one usually defaults while the other forgets they have a family. Coming from a home that suffered divorce I can say now as an adult that children remember who was there and what you did with them, they also understand when one parent is not around as much as they could be, when the other parent doesnt know the details of their goings on, and when the parent even more so as a back up, if even that, doesnt seem to care about what's going on with their own child's life.

I wish I could reach out to all the 'back up' parents and tell them not to remain in the back up position because their children will see it in time. Similarly if you're the default parent and resent it instead of bask in it for the years when your children need you the most, your children may sense your resentment, tiredness, and dismay at being a parent.

My hope is that when my son grows up he will know that Mommy did a lot for him and with him and tried to make things as seamless as possible because I wanted him to have the best most complete life and childhood as possible. That I wanted to enrich him as a human being with things I found important and I could only do that by being in his life and knowing what was going on. I would never call myself a 'default' I am a parent because I choose to be. Being a parent is an option, and for all those who complain about it....I would have to ask what you think that says about you?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fun in the Kitchen

I was watching a cooking show one day and saw the host put blue food dye in scrambled eggs to eggs. It dawned on me, why not have more fun with our food? And this my friend is the result. My favorite color plus whipped cream and those seasonal sprinkles I always mean to use were finally put to use in time for the appropriate holiday. My son was thrilled, and I was too. A little blue and red and bam you get purple! What a great way to let your littles get involved and learn something new! They tasted great too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Making my to do list a to done list

 This is Gary. Gary's 77 years young and runs his own lawn care service in my neighborhood.

Slowly but surely I'm making my to do list a to done my English correct? ;)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt in.....October

This weekend I stayed in bed a little late and my son watched cartoons and played with toys....he came in my room and told me he was ready for our Easter egg hunt. I went in to the living room and he had a Disney Christmas carol DVD in and instructed me to pick a basket for our hunt. I chose the felt Halloween pumpkin...and off we went. He hid eggs in the kitchen, living room, bathroom, and his bedroom. It was possibly one of the sweetest things he's ever done, and the look of joy on his face as he watched me pick up eggs made my day. 

He even put rewards in the eggs from pennies to finger puppets. I'm so impressed by my son. He's got such a big heart!!

Sunday, October 12, 2014


 After moving the large rock pile off the driveway a few weeks ago I was on the hunt for more rocks and found someone giving them away a town over on Craigslist. The yield was amazing! 

The rocks were large which filled the buckets quickly, and clean, which meant they could be put directly in to the landscaping.
The load solidly covered a roughly 4 by 5 foot section. It doesn't look like a big feat, but moving rocks is a lot of labor.  

My goal is to retrieve more rocks from the house that's giving them away and have the rocks reach the end of the screened in porch section. It feels great to finally start to see things shape up!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My yard.....I have no idea what I'm doing

This is how it started.

This is how it is now. 

What am I doing?? I'm trying to write this post and I'm laughing at myself. My mother has only visited my house once, she lives out of state, and over the phone with her every week I tell her all the things I'm doing and she says, I thought you bought the house because you liked the yard and it had great curb appeal?? So why am I changing everything?

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Path Less Taken

'Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.'
-Robert Frost

A path just off one of the parking lots at my local college where I take classes.

After two months of going at break neck speeds, I sat down and evaluated things this weekend. I always feel accomplished when things are done well and done right. However, I seem to lack the ability to slow down. Small things catch me off guard. My son dressed himself in a pair of shorts, he walked in front of me and for the first time they were a few inches above his knee. When did that happen?

I've seen it before, tired parents and children over scheduled to a point of unhappiness. This weekend I decided we are going to downsize for a while. I dont want to be a work horse. I want to be a mom. It's time to find the balance and pick the path I want instead of letting life steer itself. 

Until this class is done my new focus will be on doing less to enjoy more time with my son. We're going to take a break from gymnastics and the gym. This will leave us with more money in our pocket and another night at home during the week. When my class is done and I'm alleviated of hiring a baby sitter I'll be able to more easily manage gymnastics one night a week and the cost. So until December, we're putting things on hold. It's hard to stop the train. I'm not sure if other moms feel this way, but what's worse some people never assess things to see they need a break.

More time at home. This is what we need right now.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Goals so far this year

This past December I wrote down some rather lofty yet obtainable goals for myself ...

Goals for this year:
1. Finish three more classes.
2. Teach my son how to read & write.
3. Re-roof the house. 
4. Finish landscaping the front yard.

My progress is pretty on track. So let's review. 

1. Finish three more classes.
This past Tuesday I finished my second class for the year. I earned an A. This is why you haven't seen many updates from me for a while.     
Have a I mentioned math is difficult for me? I'm proud I persevered and worked hard. What I have learned will be the foundations for success in my next class, Physics, which starts this Thursday. 

2. Teach my son how to read & write. 

Thanks to the wonderful teachers at my son's pre school he is a first phase reader with some awe inspiring hand writing for a five year old. My little man also starts Kindergarten on Monday, I'm already crying about it, but I'm sure his skills will sky rocket from here. 

3. Re-roof the house. 

Done, paid in full, love it, never have to look at the ceiling and wonder what's going to happen when it rains. It feels so good to be done. 

4. Finish landscaping the front yard. 

Here's one for you.....I ripped out everything in the front yard, put down black weed paper, realized I needed to redo the roof, and then due to all the wood repair I needed the underside of the roof repainted, the paint helps to preserve the woods life especially here in Florida with a climate that has such high humidity. 

Now here's the tricky part, open wood underneath the very very large screened in lanai that goes up to the midline of the roof. I'm an semi adventurous DIY girl, but me on a ladder with a paint sprayer....well, I'm going to leave this to the professionals.

I often think of things in sequential order of what makes the most sense. The sequential order to getting my front yard re-landscaped goes like this....have the underside of the exterior showing roof painted, have the house painted - I cant even describe the non color my house is, it's not white, it's not yellow, it's not's like mauve/grey/white, It'll be a deep grey with white accents and butter yellow shutters when it's done, lay out and plant plants, lay out low voltage lighting along the front of the house, put down river rock, take long break from all projects on the house for a year, this is getting expensive. 

The most expensive and prohibitive part is painting the underside of the roof, because I like to pay for things in cash I'm waiting.I hope to have the house and roof painted around Christmas, this gives me lots of time to plot and plan out my garden space in the front yard. It may throw goal #4 into next year, but that's ok with me. I'd rather do things right than haphazardly.

School preview day in about 4 hours....time for bed!

Monday, July 7, 2014

My budget friendly home tour

Hi I'm Ashley, and I am happy to share a tour of my home today on Blissful and Domestic. I am a single mother to a wonderful little boy Trevor. We moved to South West Florida about four years ago just the two of us and have made this place home. In May of last year I purchased my first home as a single woman and mother. I have been able to provide the things we need on a budget, and want to share with you the stories behind how I have been able to decorate my home with second hand and reused materials for a fraction of the cost of new.

About two years ago we lived in a very nice gated apartment community, and the rent was going to be higher than a mortgage for something twice the size. I knew it was time to buy.  I went through the approval process and started looking. I saw this house online and thought....too small. Then I drove by and fell in love with the big porch, stunning gable, and post card stamp front yard. It took about six months but finally, finally, it was ours!

When you pull in to the drive way the first thing you see are these guys. Yep! We're in Florida.

The house was built in 1963 and still has the charm of an old Florida home from that time. I love older things from the 50's and 60's, so this house has me written all over it.

When opening the front door you're greeted by the kitchen.

The kitchen is an open galley with lots of counter and storage space with an open concept to the living room. I was lucky because the previous home owners had redone the kitchen before selling. The best advice my Realtor gave me was to move in and sit on everything for a bit. Dont go in and change everything the first week, he said, sit on it for a bit. So I did, and my wallet is very happy about it! 

I also have a wonderful view of my bougainvillea bushes and honey suckle bush from this window where I wash dishes. 

My 'bougies'

When you turn your back to the kitchen you see the open concept part of the room which is the living space and dining area. 

I'm working on paint colors still. 

This table was a gift from a dear friend and old neighbor Bobbi. She and her fiance moved in together and realizing they had two tables she offered me one. We had been eating on the floor, really, I would put a blanket down and we would eat as if we were having a picnic. It wasn't elegant but I'm proud we made things work, and was very happy to accept this table. 

When I originally received the table the chairs had this interesting fabric on I borrowed a staple gun from a friend and bought a great remnant from a craft store and got to work. The end result was perfect and well within our budget. The remnant was about 4 dollars.



The living area initially felt awkward to me, but this was mostly because my furniture didn't fit the space when we first moved in. I've been able to change things a bit and it has a better flow now.



I snagged this mint green sectional from Craigslist for 300 dollars and moved it for free with a friend who has a truck. I've looked time and again at furniture store ads and see the same couches retail for about a thousand dollars. With two cats and a 5 year old, I dont see the purpose in buying new items that show wear easily or spending full price on them.

My old brown couches I gave away for free on Craigslist as opposed to paying for large item waste removal from the city. It was nice to see them go.

One of the best pieces in my living room is this old tv hutch. I was able to get it for free from Craigslist and painted the front panels to give it a fresh look. It hides my big old tv and fits perfectly on the small wall in the room. One of my favorite things about this piece is that I can put away the clutter and relax without staring at a tv. 

BEFORE                                    AFTER

On top of the tv hutch I have a collection of owls I bought on clearance for less than 20 dollars toward the end of Fall. Most frugal people know, if you see something wait. It will go on clearance!! Imagine a grey wall behind them, one will look great with the contrast of color. The little looking glass owl has a space for candles, I use a flickering LED light. It's great to put on when the lights are dim. The charm is in the detail.

This photo was taken around Easter, hence the eggs.

 When we moved in to the house there were these great black metal curtain rods that match and are fully functional. I kept these and bought curtains on clearance, with a coupon, and used some store merchandise credit from a Christmas return. All in all I paid about 80 dollars for 6 panels, and I love them!! I get asked where I bought them a lot, they were bought from JC Penney about a year ago.

I also bought some great throw pillows for the couches from Kohls. I was able to use a gift card from my sister to make them free after sales, coupon codes, and free shipping. Maximizing discounts on items really helps stretch your dollar and even the dollars on gift cards. There are two more pillows that aren't pictured here. 

One of the neat parts of my house is the lanai, and these curious doors....I didn't open these until a few months ago, with my luck I thought, the second you open those doors they'll fall off the hinges. But one night when vacuuming I found out they're pocket doors! Yes, pocket glass sliding doors to the patio!!! No builder would ever put these in a house now a days. I love them!! This house really has more character than I can express. This is perfect for entertaining and creates an open flow from the living room to the patio. 

Thanks Giving on the patio with family and friends before I attempted opening the pocket doors.

George and Lucy, the previous occupants even left me this table and chair set. To be honest, they were really generous with the things they left in the house, I was also smart enough to keep them and enjoy them instead of throwing away and buying new. I would tell anyone who is starting out or entering a newer and larger space to accept gifts from friends even if they're not exactly your taste. In time you will be able to upgrade everything when it's convenient for you. Be patient.

Back to the living room...

Our coffee table I bought the first year I moved to Florida for $150 dollars at Goodwill. I know, crazy right? But this is the neatest coffee table I've ever seen. It's made of real wood and the book ends open up with drawers for books and such. 

The titles of the books on my table are Ivanhoe, The Odyssey, and Vanity Fair. It weighs about 200 lbs and takes 2 to 3 adults to lift! It's one of the higher cost items in my home and I'd probably buy it again, it's a great conversation piece and extremely unique.

On to my little man's room and the first thing I want to tell you about is the bedroom set. This bed with a slide was given to us by my friend Niki. She was pregnant with her youngest at the time over a year ago and decided to get a bunk bed for her older two kids. One day she asked me if my son had a bed, I said yes. She goes, a twin? I said a toddler bed. The rest is history...

My friend Kim delivered the frame, my coworker and friend Robert and I loaded and moved the dresser and mattress on a lunch break, my friend Jennifer and I put it together, and my son and I picked out new knobs. Let's just say, I could never have bought this bed set for my son and the generosity of my friends is what made it all come together. Their kindness brings tears to my eyes.

This picture is in our old apartment the first night my son slept in his bed. He was so excited!  

The curtains in the little man's room were made new again from an old set we had from our apartment. It had been almost three years since I bought them and couldn't find the same set at the store or online. So I lowered the rods, cut them in half, and hemmed those bad boys! 
You can read a post about it here.



This tv was a gift from a neighbor at our old apartment complex. Our neighbor Britney moved out and asked if we'd like this. I decided to take it knowing Trevor would have his own bedroom at our new house. We dont have cable but I let him watch old VHS tapes at night sometimes when he's going to bed.

Our VHS collection was mostly given to us by my friend and co-worker Joe whose children are my age. He generously gave us his Disney collection, a tv vcr combo, and vcr all of which we've put to good use. This is the media collection in my son's room.

My son has the master which includes a bath room. This entire bathroom set was given to us by someone we met who had just downsized to a smaller home. She said she had a bathroom for her grand kids in her old house but now had less bathrooms and wouldn't use the set. She offered it to us and  my son accepted before I could say anything.

This is something I would have put off buying, but with the kindness of others we were able to have this decorated at no cost to us.

We initially met this woman because she was giving away pink crinum lily bulbs on Craigslist.

It seems everything in my home has a story....the main theme is I rarely pay full price for things anymore. If there is something I want, someone else wanted it too and is now trying to sell it for a loss or even give it away. This is a great savings over buying new. And that's the moral of my story.......I cant afford to buy new, but I've still managed to provide everything we need and for that I'm thankful.

Thank you for visiting my home today!