Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Now that it's no longer Mother's Day...

People tell me how great of a mother I am surprisingly often, given the fact that I'm not really as great a mother as everyone seems to think.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not neglecting my children.  They don't go without meals, clean clothes, or proper medical care.  But one thing's for certain: they do go without a lot of things, because of me.

I see children at the playground, going on walks, or riding their bikes with their parents and I often think about how much I would love to do those things.  But just the thought of what it would take to get all 3 kids presentable, somewhat behaved, and on bicycles is exhausting.  It's so much easier to let them get their outside time in the backyard, where they're fenced in and I don't have to worry about one escaping while I'm chasing another; and if they throw a tantrum - there's nobody there to judge me for it.

My oldest comes home every few weeks with a flier about the activities they're going to be having at school in the upcoming weeks, but we've never once gone.  She excitedly tells me about art shows, music groups, and book fairs that I know we aren't going to attend.  Again, it's not that I don't want to, really.  I'd love to pack her up and go.  But dragging along a 2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old?  where there will be children's precious artwork, instruments, or books? 

None of my children are involved in any kind of organized activities, despite them asking.  I struggle to commit to a single event, let alone a steady stream of commitments.  I tell myself that when the kids are older we'll get involved, but how much will they have missed already? 

I know a lot of this has to do with our schedules.  With my husband working nights on a bi-weekly schedule, it's difficult to do anything during the day.  And even those activities that are evenings, are either scheduled just as he's needing to leave for work, or tend to be weekly commitments, and our schedule simply doesn't allow for that.

One of the saddest phrases my oldest daughter has taken to saying is "I don't mind."  She uses these three words to preface every question she has about an activity she'd like to join in, or a special treat she's like to have.  She's grown so accustomed to my explanations of why we can't do things that she prefaces every question with "I don't mind" so I know she won't be too disappointed when I tell her no. 

Despite the fact that my children seem very happy with their lives, I am painfully aware of all my shortcomings as their mother.  I hope they know that I will always give them my best, even if it's not always enough.  And I hope some day they can forgive me for all the things they went without because of me.


Friday, May 9, 2014


So, there's this website called swagbucks.  It's awesome.  I've used it on an off for a couple years and without really trying, I legitimately earned several gift cards.  In the last few months alone, I've earned about $50 in Amazon gift cards.  I know, it sounds like a scam.  But I promise you it's not. Please use this swagbucks link, or copy and paste this into your browser:  swagbucks.com/refer/NikkiHoag  I'm sure you've figured out by now that I'll get some referral swagbucks if you use my link.  But this is good news for you too, because if you use that link, and enter "FreeGiftCards" on the sign up page, you'll start off with an additional 50 swagbucks right out the door!

How it works:
You use the website to do your normal daily activities, like searching the web, playing games, clipping coupons, etc and some of the activities you do will reward you with swagbucks.

When you've got enough swagbucks for the reward you want, you simply cash them in and get your reward in a few days.

Things you can do on their site:
Search the web.  The search engine is powered by google, and you'll receive the same search results as you would if you searched there.  Not all searching will reward you with swagbucks, but periodically, you'll get a nice little reward!

Clip coupons.  Each coupon you redeem at the store will earn you 10 swagbucks.  So you'll save money at the store, AND earn swagbucks, double win.

Play games.  Kill time playing a variety of games and you could be rewarded.  The games are free to play, and a few swagbucks will be awarded after a few plays.  OR, you could enter game tournaments which cost a few swagbucks to enter, but could multiply your swagbucks winnings if you play well.

Take surveys.  Surveys can reward you generously for your time if you're interested in taking them.

Watch videos.  All kinds of videos from fashion and food to home and health.  Earn a few swagbucks after you watch a handful of videos.

Rewards you can earn:
Gift cards.  These gift cards can range from $5 - $500 for anything from amazon.com, walmart, or target, to much more grand things like hotels, airlines, and cruise ships!

If you're into risk taking, you can also use your swagbucks to enter swagstakes for a chance to win all kinds of amazing prizes including cash, electronics, or gift cards.

Happy Swagging,

P.S. check out This post I did about easy ways to increase your Swagbucks earning without devoting a lot of time or spending any money.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Photo Book

Click here to view this photo book larger

I'm not doing some kind of advertising for shutterfly here or anything.  But I had a coupon and some wedding pictures I needed to do something with, so this is it.  I should be getting it in the mail tomorrow (pretty darn quick considering I ordered the week before mother's day).  Can't wait to see how my digital pages come out in print.