Since the birth of our littlest in November, one thing that has saved a huge amount of fuss and faff is online grocery shopping. Trailing around a large shop with a little one and a two year old never seems like the most fun activity, and it takes such a long time to get round these gargantuan food meccas that by the time you've finished you feel like collapsing into a dark room for a couple of hours.Anyway.Online grocery shopping is nothing new, but what is new to us is a site that helps us to compare the cost of the food in our shopping trolley with all of the major stores: Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Waitrose. Various supermarket TV ads will have you believe the food in their 'average household basket' is the cheapest around. However, look closely at the basket and you might well see things that you would never dream of buying yourself (I never like the taste of cat food, for instance).This site (mysupermarket.com) lets you do your regular online shop from your regular supermarket, and tots up how much the equivalent basket would be in the other stores. Then, you just pick your store and place your order.Very simple, and easy to use. For our last two online shops, Waitrose (yes, Waitrose!) have come back the cheapest, further bolstered by their policy free delivery for orders over £50. Each time, the comparison has saved us at least £10. What's more, you can receive a small sum from Topcashback.co.uk on every online shop. Not bad!
It's fallen on mammasaver's honoured shoulders this week to host the Totally Money weekly personal finance blog carnival.Top picks from this week are included below, and if you wish to read all of this week's submissions, please click on the 'read more' tab.mammasaver's top picks:Your Finances Simpfilied writes about his own experience of a massive $1000 budgeting mistake (yikes!), and how to avoid it. Heard of setting a 'zero budget' before? Head over to his post to find out what it is and how to
do it. A simple and flexible spending plan
instead of an old fashioned budget?
Now that sounds right up my street.Daisy at AddVodka.com
has an excellent post about tricking yourself into not spending
money - a different approach than sticking to a specific budget, and practical advice about avoiding situations where you find yourself spending money.
Now, someone find this girl a new pair of trainers soon...Ashley at Money Talks sets out her summer entertainment for her children in Phoenix, Arizona. Not able to simply send her children out to play due to the heat, she needs to think of cheap, interesting things for her children to do inside. The secret is 'inside' another building it seems... not your own house. A wise woman indeed.Useful for those of us who live in wetter climes, too. Hang on, was that a bit of blue sky I can see? Nope, just a post a post it note on a window.
Ah well.Enjoy the rest of the posts, and hop over to Totally Money for more information about this personal finance blog carnival.
Do you ever have a period of a few weeks in your life where your body seems to trip into one problem after the other?
The past few weeks have been one of those.
- A nasty cold
- A possible cracked rib/bad rib sprain (ooch)
- The Mother of all sinus infections
Not exactly perilous, but a right pain in the neck (and ear, nose and throat). Thankfully, my swollen hamster-face has started to deflate, and has allowed me to open my jaw wide enough to slot in pizza.
Food other than soup is to be celebrated under such circumstances.
The surprising pizza is from Iceland - discovered on the way home from the doctor's today. For a mere £2, their Mediterranean Stonebaked Pizza has a wealth of rather lovely, expensive ingredients - courgette, spinach and decent quality peppers.
Not bad for a store sometimes associated with frozen food of dubious quality....
I have been tagged by the lovely mummyplum and aworkingmum to complete the following tag, started by mother.wife.me.
It's a opportunity for women to give their personal perspective and experience on modern motherhood.
The rules are as follows:
Without further ado, here is my contribution:Did you work before becoming a mum?Yes - since leaving university, I worked for a large cancer charity and then as an English teacher. I very much enjoy teaching, and look forward to returning to work when we're ready. What is your current situation?I look after our little boy full time. I hesitate to say 'Stay at Home Mum' as it can lead to negative assumptions
- Post the Rules
- Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you
- Leave a comment on MotherWifeMe so we can keep track of the meme
- Tag three people and link them on your blog
- Let them know you tagged them
- Tweet loudly about taking part using #amothersworkmeme
. I am very lucky that I have a supportive partner who feels the same way as I do about being the primary carer for our little boy. Without his support, our lives would be very differentSoon after he was born, I knew that I didn't want anyone else to take care of our son, no matter how lovely or well qualified.I also felt that the extra money that I would earn wouldn't be worth the additional stress that would be brought into our home. No matter how organised, slick and efficient my marking and lesson plans would be, I knew I would resent the time taken away from my son and the impact that would have on our family.Money has been very tight over the past two years, but as I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed, nor how much our little boy has changed in that time, I am certain we made the right decision for our family. Although I do miss being in a wordly, busy adult environment, I know that I would miss my son more. I know I can return to work, whereas I can't return to our son's childhood.Freestyle - a chance to get across your own point of view on the subject.Last year, I was called for Jury Service. As our son was not in childcare (and being breastfed), I appealed to be excused. The courts advised that I'd need official proof of my status as a full time carer for my son. However, as he's not disabled (nor elderly), I cannot be classed as a carer. I was told by the Department of Work and Pensions that as a full time mother, 'you're not a carer.' Ouch.I remember this when I'm changing nappies, feeding, up at 2am...On a serious note, it worries me that full time parents have no official status under the Department of Work and Pension guidelines. Officially, in the eyes of our government, full time parents are doing, well, nothing.
It has been a little quiet on the mamma blog of late, due to our little lad of 22 months breaking his collar bone.
One almighty crash in on the bathroom tiles resulted in tears and snotters (from both of us) and a drive in an ambulance to our fair city's Children's Hospital.
One bumped head and broken clavicle later, things have been a little busy in the mammasaver household to say the least.
Not wishing to be without his mum for any real time at all, our routines have gone out the window and have been replaced with:
Needless to say, time to do anything other than the bare minimum housework has vanished faster than you can say 'clavicle.'
- cuddling to sleep. Sounds nice, but takes over an hour each night.
- only mummy being allowed to do things (such as dress him, lift him in and out of high chairs).
- a rather nervous little lad who is a bit worried about what might happen if I'm away for more than 10minutes.
What we did discover though, is the most unfortunate use for muslin squares yet. As our little boy is so small, slings are difficult to use.
However, a trusty muslin square is an excellent toddler sling subsitute, and doesn't fray in the wash.
Now hang on, was that really 10minutes? Better go...
I have been tagged by the lovely Kateonthinice
to complete the following questions, in part to reflect on Mothers' Day.
Without any further ado, here goes!Describe Motherhood in three words.
Utterly wonderful, exhausting.Does your experience differ from your mother’s? How?
It does a great deal. My parents moved to Scotland from England when they married, and so brought up my sister and me without nearby family support. I really would be lost without Granny and Grandpa 'backup.'
Also, my mother had to fit into a new country and environment, whereas I've been lucky enough to muddle through early motherhood in familiar surroundings. My father worked very long, unpredictable hours, and I don't know how mum managed to keep everything going.
Plans could be (and often were) changed at the very last minute, which must have taken a great deal of strength of mind to cope with. Mr mammasaver on the other hand, works predictable hours. Thank heaven.What’s the hardest thing about being a mum?The tiredness
. Our little boy is nearly two, and hasn't slept beyond 5am. In fact, if we get to 3am, we're doing well. The tiredness makes it hard to function well, meaning that I feel terribly guilty if I can't give our little boy all of the attention he deserves.
On the other hand, you can find yourself dancing to the White Stripes at 5.30 in the morning, which can't be a bad start to the day,
What’s the best thing?
Like Kate, it's got to be the love and the closeness it brings. His little 'concentrating face' comes second.
How has it changed you?
Oh, what a question. It has made me more forgetful, more fearful for everyone's safety, physically stronger, emotionally more wobbly, less able to join in adult conversation easily.
Most of all, my focus in life has shifted completely, rather like a kaleidoscope. I'm still trying to figure out how the other parts fall into place.
What do you hope for your children?
I'd like our little lad to be happy, and really that's it. I wouldn't want him to feel any pressure to do or be anything other than what would make him happy.
What do you fear for them?
What makes it all worthwhile?
The cuddles, the kisses and just being with the little tyke every day. Knowing that I'm his mum (still haven't got over that one).
As I was a little slow on the mother's day tag uptake, I shan't pass this one on. Unless of course, I remember to next year (yeah, right).
You may have noticed a lack of posts about Christmas money saving on mammasaver. The thing is, I don't do anything especially thrifty at Christmas time - just stick to a budget. It's hard to write much more than that.
I tackle Christmas shopping in the usual thrifty shopping manner - comparing prices, using Topcashback.com and generally taking a sharp intake of breath when I look at our bank account.
Truth be told, I'm woefully disorganised
at Christmas time. I may buy presents in advance, but utterly forget that I have to wrap them and send them on time.
Christmas cards are a problem too - my brain seems to go into meltdown at the prospect of writing them. I'm sure to forget (and offend) someone, will probably write the wrong address, spell names incorrectly and become subsumed in a pile of cards and envelopes with little more than a terrible mood and self loathing to help me escape the situation.
Consequently, very few Christmas cards are written, and some presents are sent at The Very Last Minute.
As for Christmas decorations, I should really be championing the hand made variety. However, as I am not enough of a perfectionist to give them a proper go, I am mostly underwhelmed by my attempts and head off to the pound shop instead.
However, there are some fantastic handmade sites out there
, if you do fancy making your own. Somehese are:Redtedart
- frighteningly good, creative decorations with good instructions.Glasgow Mummy
- dig about for some simple and very effective home made decorations. Also, this woman's weightloss is INCREDIBLE. As are her thighs.It's all Fiddle Fart
- funny, effective and easy decorating tips for Christmas time.
As for the festive season, and you're trapped in the house due to bad weather, Housewivesincorporated
is very good for cheap, utterly mesmerising activities for babies and toddlers.
As for next year, I will most definitely kick myself into shape by then. Honest.
This week presented me with a dilemma.
Paying for our shopping in the local Co-op, little lad playing with a can of chickpeas, our lovely Usual Cashier innocently asked:
"Have you taken him to see Santa yet?"
Looking a little bewildered, "no." I replied, packing peppers uneasily into my backpack. It just hadn't occured to me to do it. Just as at Halloween, it hadn't occured to me to dress him in anything at all (other than his clothes, that is).
What's more, I really hadn't got round to anything even vaguely Christmassy yet. Not even a card has been written.
Our Usual Cashier perservered:
Enter the Jolly Security Guard, out of nowhere:
"You haven't been showing him photos of Santa?"
The person behind me in the queue added::
"Has his GRANNY not taken him to see Santa?"
Dear lord. Bad Mother of the Festive Period Award, 2011 has been thrust in my direction. Halloween, and now this. What's next? Hannuka harassment?
Wben on earth do you start to introduce children to Santa? Can I hide from him forever? Is it only a matter of time before he sleathely creeps down the chimney of little lad's consciousness?
How do you, or did you introduce your children to all things festive? Comments and advice are gratefully received!
Trudging along wet pavements this week, a podgy little hand in mine, a thought struck me.
"A Christmas treat, little lad! Why not? Let's go for a Posh Coffee."
Two girls in their mid twenties dodged around us, all hair, heels and handbags. The kind of girls to whom our 'Posh Coffee' would be a weekly occurance. Little lad gave an approving splash in a puddle, and so we set off to the newest, most glamorous cafe in town.
Sitting amongst the slate, dimly lit brickwork and endless lists of organic food, we made a more than plausible impression of a mother and son born to such expensive coffee drinking.
Babycinno and Chai Latte duly ordered, we began our (one way) coffee shop discussion:
"Yes, that does look like a nee-naw darling, but I think it could be a van with special light. What noise does a big van make? VVVVVVVVRRRRRRRRRRRRM? You're quite right, darling. Well done."
At this point, the two girls with hair, heels and handbags blew into the cafe, shaking off the rain from their cream coats. Hastily choosing their seats, they sat down at the table next to ours. Right next to ours, that is, barely than a chair's space between us.
It became quickly apparent that the girls were having One of Those Conversations - important, heartfelt, private. Why on earth did they choose to sit next to us? Sweet lord.
"I think you've done so well in leaving him." said the first girl. "You did everything you could."
A very private conversation that I should really not be a party to. Should I have moved? Plucked up little lad and placed ourselves in a different spot? Frankly, I was transfixed.
Consequently, little lad and I were accidentally included in this very personal conversation.
"I did - I really did." replied the second girl. "I just don't know what to do about the bank account. It's my money too."
"Yes, Mr Giraffe does have a bottom. We all have bottoms." I responded.
Things were beginning to get more than a little embarrassing already.
"It all started when he found those photos of me and the other guys."
"YES! I'm sure Mr Giraffe would love some milk - how kind you are."
The girls had barely sat down and already I was frantically gulping down my utterly organic and (rather hot) Chai Latte. As anyone with a small child will tell you, trying to leave anywhere quickly is near impossible.
"Do you think he's already started seeing her?" asked the first girl.
"Sorry - thanks for your help. Tricky going anywhere with a giraffe, isn't it?" I responded, taking Mr Giraffe from the second girl.
We left, after no more than ten minutes in our Posh Cafe. That's what happens when I abandon thrift - a swift slap of social embarrassment, a burnt tongue and a considerably lighter pocket.
That's me told.
There I was, innocently examining the goodies in the reduced section of Co-op this week. Cut price chicken - kerching! A rare treat indeed (chicken is normally outwith the bounds of our budget).
Reduced Rolo yoghurts? I don't mind if I do, thank you very much.
There I was, the very essence of Grooving Frugality, a spring in my step and yellow reduced stickers in my basket. That was until Co-operative Radio began playing the new Westlife single.
As I'm married to a Sligo man, I am banned from taking the mick out of Westlife. "They are good lads. They look after their mums." I bet they do.
However, when it comes to choosing songs, by jimminy they don't half get it wrong sometimes. Clutching onto my cutprice chicken, I began a little snigger at the lyrics:
"You're the light in the daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaark,"
"You're the seat in the paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaark..."
Am I, Shane? Am I really? To think that anyone could come and park their bottom on me is not such a compliment, surely. It continued:
"You're the ligheethouse, you're the ligheethouse to me..."
I'm sure that's all well and good, but what woman in her right mind wants to be compared to a looming, shapeless, object, visited by men starved of female company? Why do they sound like they're being goosed, mid sentence? By this time the full on giggles had erupted.
"You're the port in a storm.."
Oh please. Any port in a storm, is it, Shane? You sure know how to make a girl feel special.
Wiping the tears from my eyes, I had a few concerned looks from fellow shoppers. I adopted a look of 'it's just so moving' as I couldn't possibly have explained the mascara running down my face without losing the power of speech.
It may be one of the worst songs ever written, but it provided me with a laugh that I would gladly have paid good money for. At least as much for cut price Rolo Yoghurts.
This post was brought to you as part of Kateonthinice's Grooving Mums blog hop.
This week, Kate wanted us to indulge in a little laughter therapy, so thank you Westlife for providing the goods for this week's hop.
Did you know that Kate will be featured on Netmums shortly, as a guest blogger. Keep an eye out for her - she's helping more and more women find their groove every day.