Sims 4: 100 Baby Challenge

I finally jumped on the bandwagon with the Sims 100 Baby Challenge. I started my matriarch in Magnolia Promenade, and built up a nice little 3bd 2ba home for her to start in. I named my matriarch Brynn Godfrey, using the randomizer. For traits, I chose Active, Self-Assuredand Family-Oriented. I chose a Family aspiration.  And after giving her a computer, I had her write a bunch of books.

Her first child is Lana Godfrey, fathered by J Huntington III. She has an Outgoing trait, and her childhood aspiration is Rampunctious Scamp. As of this post, she is a B-student in school, maxed out on Responsibility, and doing well with Manners and Empathy.

Brynn’s second child is Jocelyn Godfrey, fathered by Sean Hamrick. She has an Angelic trait, and at the time of this writing is currently a toddler working on her skills.

Current child count: 2

Here’s a link to the rules of the challenge, if any of you want to join me!

Winter for Debt — Snowball or Avalanche?

I think by now most people have heard about Dave Ramsey’s ‘debt snowball’ pay-off method. If you haven’t, I’ll sum it up quick: you pay minimum payments on all your debts, as you likely already do, but then you take any excess money you have and put it towards your smallest debt. Once that debt is paid off, you do the same with your next smallest, and so on until you pay off your debts completely. Sounds satisfying, right? But does it make the biggest impact in debt?

The answer: sometimes. But most of the time, the ‘debt avalanche’ method saves you more money. And if you need to save all the money you can, and can trust yourself to stay motivated, this method might be better for you.

If you haven’t heard of the ‘debt avalanche’ method, it’s basically the same as the snowball, but you tackle the highest interest rates first. Not as satisfying, as you can’t see the results quite as quickly, but you tend to pay less interest over a very similar amount of time.

If you’re like me, that knowledge alone is enough to sell you on the avalanche method. But, here’s the part you need to ask yourself, and don’t lie to yourself:

Can I stick to my pay-off goals over several months, possibly even years, if I’m not seeing results?

Dave Ramsey is right, motivation is a major key to paying off debt. It’s hard to stay focused on something if you aren’t seeing results, and I know I have trouble with this sometimes. Just like with weight loss goals, most people prefer fad diets, losing weight quickly and effortlessly. That’s NOT the best way to lose weight, but most people have trouble sticking to the harder ways. So if you need to use the snowball method just to stay motivated, that might be worth paying more in the long run.

If you’re undecided, and need a calculator to break down the differences in these two methods for your specific situation, here’s a handy tool I found:

Debt Snowball & Avalanche Payoff Calculator

I hope this helps you as much as it helps me! Feel free to comment on here with tips for others to stay motivated, or share your own plan or experience with either method (or another method you used).

Photic Sneeze Reflex

The photic sneeze reflex, or ‘sun sneeze’, is still not very well documented these days. My favorite explanation of it comes from ScienceAlert:

 

“…these Sun-related sneezes might occur thanks to ‘parasympathetic generalisation’: a process that occurs when one part of the parasympathetic nervous system – such as the pupil of the eye – is excited by a stimulus and happens to activate other parts of the system as well – such as the membranes in the nose.”

 

Since it hasn’t been linked to anything potentially dangerous or life-threatening, no one has bothered putting tons of money into studying it, yet. It’s really more of an annoyance, for those of us who ‘suffer’ from it. My dad and brother both get it from certain things, but it seems to vary in sensitivity, and the specific triggers. For instance, my brother used to sneeze every time he walked into sunlight, whereas I’d only sneeze for super bright sunlight. I used to tease that he must be allergic to sunlight. Both of us sneeze from strong peppermint. My brother sneezes from hoppy beer (I don’t drink beer, so I’m not sure if I get that too). I forget what my dad sneezes from, I think he only sneezes from peppermint. But me? Oh boy. Add dark chocolate and red wine to the list.

For some reason, I love to ‘explain’ these sneezes to friends and family by simply stating what the trigger was. Especially the ones who don’t have the reflex. They just can’t even imagine what it feels like to eat dark chocolate, get that tickling sensation, and have to give yourself a moment to recover (or to sneeze, depending on how much was eaten). And then you’re free of the sneeze reflex — until a few minutes have passed since the last bit of dark chocolate. At least, that’s my experience.

Here’s the list of my ‘photic sneeze reflex’ triggers:

  • bright sunlight
  • strong peppermint
  • dark chocolate
  • red wine

What’s your trigger?

The Ultimate (Dairy) Sacrifice

If you’re a parent, you already know that parenting requires a lot of sacrifices. Usually, that means money, sleep, a clean house, gym time, whatever. Sometimes it means moving to a safer neighborhood, eating healthier, quitting your job and becoming a stay-at-home-parent. And sometimes, it requires the ultimate sacrifice — elimination diets.

Ok, yes, I’m being facetious. But seriously, it’s hard! I’m so thankful that (so far) it seems to just be dairy, and not nuts or wheat or anything else, because it’s hard enough to eliminate dairy from your diet, especially when pizza is was a weekly indulgence. I tried a dairy-free pizza last weekend and, while it wasn’t terrible, I wasn’t a big fan. The vegan cheese was super sticky, and I’m not sure how often I’ll bother eating pizza if all vegan cheeses are like that.

And why am I giving up dairy, you ask? Oh, because we finally determined what may have been causing our daughter’s eczema. She’s almost 11 months old now, and has been getting solids for a few months now, slowly in case of reactions. She’d had a few contact rashes after certain foods, but we couldn’t find the common denominator. Two weeks ago, she had another contact rash, so I called my mom to find out what she’d eaten last. Turned out, she had eaten a few tiny bits of my dad’s ice cream shortly before I showed up. Sure enough, I looked back at all the other foods she’d had reactions to, and all of them had dairy. And since some of the dairy proteins make their way into breastmilk, that was probably the cause of her eczema.

It’s now been almost 2 weeks, which means my milk should be completely dairy-free soon, and now it’ll be about 2 weeks until it gets cleared out of my baby’s system. I haven’t noticed any eczema recently, so we’ll just have to keep watching to see if there’s anything else we should be eliminating. And if we’re lucky, she’ll outgrow this allergy in time, and she won’t have to live her life without experiencing the amazingness of non-vegan-cheese pizza. Although, if she has to not ever eat normal pizza again, at least she doesn’t already know how wonderful it is.

New House — New Garden — New Life

My husband and I bought a house last month. We were lucky enough to find a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house that we could afford, with a 3-car garage and a quarter acre lot (with a fenced backyard!). It’s a bit of a drive to get to work, but worth it. Gives me an excuse to get an audiobooks subscription. Currently listening to The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss (first time listening to it, but I’ve read the book before already). I have to say, the narration by Nick Podehl is amazing. I’m currently doing the free trial with audiobooks.com, but I might switch to Audible since it’s compatible with my Amazon Echo.

But enough about audiobooks. I want to talk about my new house!

We haven’t finished unpacking, so a lot of our stuff is still in our garage, but we’re both to the point where we just want to throw things away. So that might be my project this weekend. The first week was dedicated to painting, second and third weeks were dedicated to moving and buying things, fourth and fifth weeks were gardening.

Our garden looks pretty good so far, except that I desperately need to get the weed whacker in there. Unfortunately, the dogs have been trying to help with the gardening by digging around the a/c unit and the shed.. We have a burrower, so I’m sure their intentions are just to catch the animal, but they’re destroying the ground. Of course, the dogs can’t take all the blame now that I know for a fact that there’s a burrower there, but the dogs certainly aren’t helping matters.

Other than the gardening and unpacking, and just plain getting used to living on our own with a baby (as opposed to living with my parents for the last year and a half), I’ve also started to work on setting up the gallery wall. I know I’m missing some picture frames, so I’m hesitant to put the final nails in, but I’ve got everything hanging on pushpins in the meantime. If you ever need to hang things temporarily to figure out where to place them, pushpins are amazing for that. If not for the fact that the pushpins stick out too far, I’d just leave everything hanging on pushpins instead of bothering with nails or screws.

Anyways, that’s my update for today. If you have any audiobook suggestions, or tips for the garden or the digging dogs, please feel free to comment!

Rebating — The ‘Couponing’ of the App World

I’m sure by now we’ve all heard about how amazing couponing can be if you put in a little time and effort, scouring the internet and your newspaper ads, clipping coupons and buying only during major sales and whatnot. I know some people who have bought hundreds of dollars worth of groceries, and only paid $10-20. I have the utmost respect for those people; price matching, coupon clipping, sales, and whatnot, take a lot of time and patience.

But — I just don’t have that kind of time OR patience. Maybe in a few years, but at that point I think I’d rather use my free time reading. That’s where rebating comes in. I don’t even know if this is an actual term or not, but I’ll go ahead and use it anyways. To me, it’s the junior version of couponing. It won’t cut my grocery bill as much as couponing could, but it helps. And yes, this post does contain a couple referral links that I would love for you to use, but I promise I’m only referring them because I actually like to use them!

1. ibotta(earned $87.95 as of 10/02/17)

ibotta has been great for me so far. You choose the type of shopping you’re doing, and which store, and it shows the possible rebates you can redeem. They all require some sort of advertising to unlock the rebate, but they’re pretty simple. Sometimes it just shows a video ad, sometimes you take a simple quiz or poll, once in a while they give you a recipe that uses the product you’re trying to unlock the rebate for. Not difficult, and other than the unlocking, there are no other ads that I’ve seen. Nothing randomly pops up right as you’re about to click on something else, so no worries there. And once in a while, they have rebates that involve teamwork — so if you have a friend who is active, you can potentially earn even more money when you redeem.

Click here to sign up for ibotta (referral link)

2. ebates.com(earned $78.20 as of 10/02/17)

I’m still pretty new at this one, but I love being able to earn money by shopping online as normal. This one uses sessions and/or cookies to track when you order something through a certain site. You need to use the specific links and windows (so be careful with opening new tabs). I installed the ebates extension for Chrome so I can click the button anytime before checkout, then there’s no confusion with it. Plus, it shows you if there are any coupons available, which is helpful for saving even more money. I haven’t earned enough to cash out yet, and haven’t gotten my $10 gift card in the mail yet, but I’ve read that that can take a while. Regardless, I’ve been happy with the process so far, haven’t had any issues yet.

Update: The gift card took a while, but it did come as promised. And I’ve cashed out numerous times now, though I’ve also forgotten to activate the ebates cookie many times as well!

Click here to sign up for ebates (referral link)

3. Wal-Mart Savings Catcher(earned $60.06 as of 10/02/17)

This one is a hit-or-miss, and only applicable if you shop at Wal-Mart. It’s basically just a rewards program, but it still counts in my mind. So the premise for this one is: you shop at Wal-Mart, then scan your receipts (within 7 days) and the app will compare purchase prices to competitors advertised prices, and rebate you the difference. Except in this case, your rebate is in the form of store credit (or ‘bluebird’, which I’ve never looked into, so I can’t say anything about it). It’s slow-going, but I think it’s still worth checking out. It’s integrated into the Wal-Mart app, though you can enter your receipt number on the web site if you don’t want to use the app on your phone.

Click here to sign up for Savings Catcher

4. Target Cartwheel(saved $383.04 as of 10/02/17)

This one is the second easiest way to save money that I’ve found, though it’s the one that most people already use. With this app, you simply look through the available offers, and select the ones you think you might use. You have a limited number of spots available at a time, but you can unlock more spots as you go. You can also deselect any of them to make room for new ones anytime you want to. There will usually be a couple 50% off offers available, but most of them will be 20% off or less, so just be sure to check back once in a while. You can search for specific brands or types of offers, or just scroll through the whole list of all offers (I sort them by discount, with 50% offers at the top).

The best thing about Cartwheel? It’s instantaneous, and discounts directly at checkout, not through rebates. So it doesn’t technically belong on my list here, but it’s still great for saving money without getting too crazy.

Click here to sign up for Cartwheel