Marriage roles

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It’s funny how an article I read days, or even longer ago, will pop back into my mind when it relates to my life in some way, when it has found its place.

See:  http://simplemarriage.net/know-your-role-live-by-it-and-redefine-it-as-needed/

My husband and I have what we call a traditional marriage in the modern sense–he is the handyman, and the primary breadwinner; I work part-time, feed the baby (solids and liquids, but he helps with the bottle feeding), bathe her, and read to her (he’s read to her on occasion, but he’s not a reader himself), though we are split on household chores.  He does the deeper, once-a-week type cleaning while I take care of the laundry and dishes.  Because he works more outside the home than I do, I not only believe this is fair, but I am happy and comfortable with this arrangement.

We both like to do the grocery shopping, as we both cook (though not lately, because it’s summer, and because he’s been working more and I work in a restaurant).  This is one of my weakest areas because I hate the dirty dishes that come with the territory, so it is something I want to work on.  I want my daughter to see me cooking, and cooking with whole foods (breadmaking will probably be the one thing I’ll never really get in to).  I don’t bother cooking seafood (because it’s so expensive, and I would cry if I had to throw it away), I don’t know how to grill (grilling is my husband’s thing, baking, with the exception of bread, is mine), and my husband is a better fryer (and all around cook) than I am, so I leave that to him.  He’s good with the grease and the outdoors, I’m good with casseroles and the indoors.

As far as the interior decorating goes, my husband loves my taste, and I have the freedom to decorate our home any way I please.  I can make any room look feminine, without looking too frilly.

Anything concerning outside our four walls, including our car, he takes care of.  He pumps the gas, and is always the driver.  I only drive myself when he isn’t with me.

I pay our online bills, and he takes care of any that have to be paid in person.  I am in charge of printing coupons (clipping is so 1990’s) and keeping up with sales and deals, and he does the negotiating.  I stay abreast of the free 8X10 photograph enlargement offers at Walgreens, and I reminded my husband (whose birthday it was today) to get his free birthday sub at Firehouse.

Neither of us, prior to marrying, discussed our marriage roles, though we both knew that whoever made the most money would be the one working, while the other worked part-time or stayed at home.  If, by the time I finish school, I will be making more money, then there will be not so much a role reversal, but a shift.  Whether or not the man should be the breadwinner is the only thing we’re not traditional about.

Like my friend Mandy, I think it’s important to “know our role”, which can sometimes alter or change.  How we determine what our roles are, I think, come down to whatever is best for the family.  It just makes sense that my husband is the picture-hanger, not because I don’t want to do it, but because he’s better at it.  It makes sense that I’m the one who sings to our baby and teaches her new songs, because I sing better than my husband (who I sit next to on my deaf side in church).  That’s not to say we should allow our weaknesses to remain weaknesses, but for now, this works for us.  Meanwhile, I’ll be trying at least one new recipe a week, if I can just stop forgetting to remember that was a New Year’s resolution.

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The Millionaires’ Club

I am a fan of Dave Ramsey.  Most of his advice I agree with, but just because he’s a millionaire, doesn’t mean that if we disagree on something, that makes us wrong (even if we’re not millionaires…yet).  He recently published a piece on millionaires that I found too cherry-picked:  http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/recognize-a-millionaire.

First on the list is Hilary Swank, who clips coupons.  I don’t clip coupons out of the newspaper, I print them off the computer.  It costs you either way, whether you factor in the price of the newspaper or the ink and paper one uses to print.  I prefer the convenience of the latter.  Hilary Swank doesn’t think of herself as wealthy (as the article claims), but just because she doesn’t think she is doesn’t mean than she’s not.  I don’t see how this mindset has factored into her being (and remaining) wealthy, because there are plenty of people who are filthy rich and know it, and they stay rich.  I do think clipping coupons (and sometimes, not buying something at all) isn’t a way to get rich, but rather a way to get a good deal and save money.  I use coupons, but I end up spending what I’m saving on something else.  I just get more bang for my buck.

I think Dave Ramsey is under the false impression that a lot of people spend money to impress people they don’t like.  I admit, I like having a nice house to have friends over, but I also like having nice things for my own pleasure.  I enjoy decorating my home and making it a place that is comfortable and functional.  The main thing for me is keeping it clutter-free.

Next on Dave’s list is Dave Cheriton, a Google investor.  This guy is a billionaire.  He saves half of all his restaurant meals for the next day.  One could say, why eat in restaurants at all?  Why not just brown bag it?  I’ve heard that most restaurant meals (when you factor in appetizers, free bread and the dessert) would feed a family of four in most third world countries, but if I did what Mr. Cheriton did, the food wouldn’t taste as good the second time and I’d still be hungry upon leaving the restaurant.  This just seems like the equivalent of a millionaire not upsizing his fast food order every time.

However, I do think Warren Buffet was worth mentioning.  He lives in the same, paid-for home he bought fifty years ago.  If my husband and I didn’t have to pay for housing, we’d be sittin’ in butter.

Now this segues into one of the few things I disagree with Dave Ramsey about.  I don’t think it’s necessary to rent until you can buy a home outright (especially if you don’t make the kind of money most of his callers do).  After all, the rent my husband and I are paying is paying for our landlady’s mortgage.  That’s like paying interest right there.  What’s more, when you rent, your landlord can raise your rent every year, but if you had a fixed house payment, there wouldn’t be that worry.  I hear all this claptrap about don’t buy homes you can’t afford (one might have been able to afford it when they bought it), but you still have to live somewhere, and sometimes mortgage payments are cheaper than rent payments.  I do think, if possible, one should save up to buy a house, but for us working class folks, that might take us twenty years, and in twenty years of mortgaging, we might be able to have a paid-for house, because what we used to pay in rent, we apply to the mortgage.

My husband and I live in a rental house, and after just one year, we’re going to have to move, because our landlady can’t afford to stay in the house she’s in (talk about the sins of the landlords trickling down to the second generation of tenants).  I don’t understand why anyone would want to have two house payments.  That is no way to live!

Now the bit about Mitt Romney (I don’t care how you feel about him–this is not a political blog) shopping for blue light specials on golf clubs at K-Mart, that’s great.  Why spend more for something you can get for less?  However, the man does own several homes, but that was after he became a millionaire, so that brings me full circle to the title of my post.  Some thrifty habits one keeps, even after they become millionaires, but as for owning several homes, unless he got a really sweet deal on them, I think that sort of dwarfs the money he saved on the golf clubs.  I just think if I ever became that rich, I’d prefer to put spend my money on vacations and classes–experiences rather than things.  Of course, one can have a pretty nice experience in a vacation home.

Musings on log cabin stories, stay-at-home momhood, and the art of regifting

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They say (and by they, I mean certain political pundits) that anymore, a candidate needs a “log cabin story” to relate to the voters.  I don’t believe one has to have been born in poverty get elected.  Let’s face it, even if they sprung from humble beginnings, most of them don’t relate to the common people anymore by the time they reach the higher echelons of office (they are not public servants–our taxpayer dollars serve them).

I love it when new words (I like shelfie) or phrases are coined, though I have to say, my favorite thus far is still “Bush derangement syndrome”.

I do loathe the term “mommy blogger,” though.  Stay-at-home moms are already maligned by modern society, but at the same time, I don’t believe having and raising five children is not a qualification to be elected President.  One of my favorite things that Greg Gutfeld has every said is that women are equal to men, but different.  Women don’t have to be like men to be equal to them.

I would actually prefer my husband to expect dinner every night upon coming home from work, just so I felt I was earning my keep.  When I don’t bring home a paycheck, it is hard for me to feel I am contributing to the family, even though I take care of all my daughter’s needs when he is away, and sit up later to take care of her when he is trying to sleep, so he can go in to work rested.

I feel like if he expected more, I’d be more motivated to try new recipes, but he’s happy with a peanut butter sandwich and beer.  I admit, I hate cleaning, so I try to keep everything as clean as possible all the time because that’s just less big cleaning I’ll have to do later.  I try to make as little mess as possible when I cook.  I am an anti-hoarder because I don’t want to have to worry about sorting through a bunch of junk later.  I try not to own too much stuff (no more bath towels or plates unless one breaks or we can’t use it anymore) because the more stuff you have, the more there is to clean.

I am a huge regifter, and have never bought a Christmas present for my husband’s family’s Dirty Santa parties (there’s a shrimp deveiner that’s been regifted for the past twenty-five years).  I used to collect scented candles and have far more than I could ever use, so I’ve been regifting those for the past few years.

Rather than spend money on such a thing, buy a gift for a child on the Salvation Army Angel tree.  So much money is wasted on gift-giving when people buy whatever they want for themselves throughout the year.  I’ve always found that food gifts and any handmade items are the most appreciated.  Even a phone call or a handwritten letter can be a gift.

The Lost Arts of Homemaking

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Brian Breadwinner, Sarah Homemaker–a natural falling into place, some would say.  As a stay-at-home mom (the only reason being I was laid off), I struggle with feelings of inadequacy.  I am a good cook (I keep fresh baked goods made for my husband, who loves his sweet treats), I keep a clean (but not sterile) and tidy home (I put myself on a cleaning schedule about a month ago to help me remember what needs to be done and how often to do it), and take care of my daughter’s needs.  This is quite an accomplishment, coming from a mother who had a career as a postal clerk/letter carrier (I don’t know what they call them these days) in the Navy, who cleaned house maybe once a year and whose only claim to cooking was goulash (which I’d always thought odd, considering we aren’t Hungarian).  I’m also good with coupons, but what I save, I end up spending on something else.  One of my biggest accomplishments was having a year’s supply of laundry detergent to last us our first year of marriage.

When I married my husband, I was over 30, I had everything we needed to fill a house, with the exception of a dinette set, which we got for free at our church rummage sale.  I had been purchasing and putting linens and dishes and such away for years, and those items, combined with furniture I’d inherited from my grandparents, we didn’t have to buy anything for our house save for a few trash cans.  I try to keep this in mind whenever I feel I’m not contributing monetarily to the household.

I was LDS (Mormon) for several years, and being a stay-at-home wife and mother is highly regarded.  However, to me, that means not just taking care of your children, but teaching them, not just cooking, but preparing meals with fresh ingredients (I’ll be making all my own baby food), and keeping the household running smooth.

To take it a step further, it’s good to know what are becoming (in my opinion) the lost arts of homemaking:  sewing, quilting, and canning, for examples.  I’ll admit, I’ll probably never know how to do at least two of those things.  However, I have become quite good in the art department.  Pinterest has piqued my interest in learning how become more crafty (in a different way than I already am).  I’ve gotten into photography and framing projects, and have considered taking a sketching class at the local community college.  I realize those arts aren’t as domestic, but I’m seeking to broaden my horizons.

I want to work outside the home because I’m not this amazing homemaker; I feel this need to make up for my lack of domestic deity status by bringing home a portion of the bacon.  Even if my husband made more than enough for me to stay-at-home, I’d still want to bring in an income.  I just need to be not only good, but successful at something besides being a wife and mom, even though I know that is still the most important job in the world.  If I didn’t do my job at home, then any success outside the home wouldn’t matter; but because I do strive to be a good wife and mother, then whatever success that comes outside the home will be icing on the cake.

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(The quilt pictures are courtesy of my friend, Gina Maddox, who makes them.
More of her work can be found on http://gulfcoastquilting.wordpress.com/)

Moving the Goal Posts

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So I spent my New Year’s watching the “Twilight Zone” marathon on the Sci-Fi channel.  I didn’t make black-eyed peas (I prefer field peas, even though I don’t know what the difference is).  I have also since decided that coming up with a healthy menu I will stick to isn’t easy.  No matter how hard I’ve tried, I just don’t like cold cereal (or bananas, for that matter, or fruit much in general), though I don’t relish the thought of eating eggs everyday.  I have also decided that unless a dessert has chocolate in it, I may as well save my calories.

My breakfast of choice growing up was a chocolate milk and a brownie.  Every morning, before my dad dropped me off at Pensacola Christian School, we’d stop by Delchamps and I’d get just that.  Let’s just say that my stories, “A Cafeteria Thanksgiving” and “A Trashcan Christmas”, were inspired by my family–the gift that keeps on giving (when it comes to my writing).  My dad burned everything and the only thing my mother knew how to cook was goulash (which was interesting, as we weren’t even Hungarian).

I read somewhere than men are more successful at losing weight because they just give up stuff altogether, rather than trying to find substitutions.  See, I am already thinking about making almond flour brownies to last for a week’s worth of breakfasts.  However, Diet Coke is still a no-go for me.

We are getting back on track with our spending (mainly, because we don’t have it to spend, which, in turn, is helping clean out our fridge, freezer and pantry).  Since Apple Market doesn’t offer their $5 off $50 or $10 off $75 dollar coupons, which Publix accepted, we don’t feel bound to spend at least that much whenever we go to the store.  I much prefer to buy as I need, and stock up on the staples when they’re on sale.  Less food goes to waste that way.

We’re slowly getting back on track with a lot of things; our tax refund will help us get there quicker.  Sometimes you just need a shot in the arm (pardon the cliché) to get ahead.  I know I need a plasectomy (as Dave Ramsey calls it), but I’m not ready to give up my Kohl’s and Target card.

Not yet.