5 Tips For Car Shopping With a Toddler

We had to get rid of my beloved SUV last weekend.  I adored this car and was so sad to see it go (I may or may not have cried while leaving the dealership!)   This was totally unexpected as we just took the car in to be inspected —  here in PA you have to have your car inspected every year in order to legally drive it.

Being the organized, on-top-of-it mom that I am, the car was already a month overdue for inspection so it was critical that we got those new stickers on there!  Fast forward to the end of the inspection… a $3300 price tag!  Gulp! I was thinking $500 max so I just about fell off my chair at work when Kevin called to tell me the bad news.

We had the car for four years and every year we put a couple thousand into it, on top of a car payment.  I just couldn’t do it anymore and we needed something that was safe and reliable for the baby.  So we picked the car up at the service station and walked over to the sales side.  No luck in negotiating and we were totally unprepared for this so poor Lily was a little out of control and we had nothing to calm her down.

By day two and the third dealership, we had this car shopping with a toddler down pat!  Here are my top 5 tips for car shopping with a toddler:

1.  Do your homework before you go!  I think this seems like common sense for some, but honestly the other cars we bought, we walked into the dealership, gave a price point and let them point us in the right direction.  This time it was such a smooth transaction because we knew exactly what we wanted and exactly how much we were willing to pay.

2.  Bring Snacks!  Although most dealerships have some sort of vending machines and complimentary water bottles, it is so much easier to talk with the finance people when your child is happily stuffing goldfish in her face.  And if you have a chatterbox like Lily, it’s a nice break from her trying to make her comments on the car as well!

3.  Bring toys and/or books!  I always have a few toys stuffed in our diaper bag, but I really blew it the last time.  Luckily our dealership had a whole kids section with books, coloring books and crayons and puzzles.  It was really great, but this is the only place I have ever been where they had something like this.  Most places will only give you a blank piece of paper and a pen (and a nasty look for not being prepared to entertain your child!)

4.  Remember the time it will take at the dealer and plan accordingly.  I always seem to forget it takes a million hours to buy a car and that sometimes that throws your kid’s schedule off.  Not only did we forget to feed Lily dinner one night (oops) but we also were there past her bedtime.  Please learn from me, trying to sign your loan papers an hour after your kid’s normal bedtime while she wails in the background is not quite the car buying experience you want to have!  Parents of the year right here!

5.  Bring someone to help!!!  This was seriously our life saver.  We didn’t have the option to leave Lily at home with anyone, but we do have some awesome friends who love cars and were helping us make our decision.  After we looked at the car, they entertained Lily while we talked with the sales guy and test drove the car.  It made focusing on the car really easy instead of having to talk over our toddler.  It also helped us avoid agreeing to something we weren’t 100% comfortable with just to move things along faster.

All in all we had a great car buying experience and we chose to stay with the same SUV we had, just the newer model.  Hopefully we won’t have to car shop for a long time — also meaning we won’t have toddlers next time we go!

Here she is in all her glory — our new little Nisssan Murano SL.

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Truth: I’m a people pleaser

I am very inwardly hard on myself.  I don’t let it show, it’s all internal, but I am constantly comparing myself to others and measuring my success against those around me.  That’s not a good thing at all, and I feel like that is something I got from my mom.  I hope I don’t pass that along to Lily.  I am very aware of my flaws and my weaknesses, but last night my eyes were opened to one of my biggest weaknesses and probably one of the reasons I am not as successful as I could be (not in my career, just in my life in general!)

Last night we went to the Picture People to get family portraits done.  We go there a lot, we are portrait club members and I love getting Lily’s picture taken because she’s so stinking cute (not that I’m biased or anything!)  Last night we went specifically for family pictures.  I really wanted to get a nice picture of the four of us: me, Kevin, Lily and, of course, Comet, our dog!  We all wore jeans and a white top and comet wore his tan fur so we all kind of matched.  It was great and Comet didn’t even poop on the floor!

I really wanted a good picture of just Lily and Comet, but that didn’t happen.  Comet had a hard time sitting still if he wasn’t on my lap and Lily had a hard time not chasing him around!  We got some cute candid shots, but honestly nothing I would have bought.

I wanted to get some pictures of just Lily also so I brought along another cute outfit and was all ready for our session.  After we finished all of the family and dog pictures the photographer said “ok that’s it” and the session was abruptly over.  I am a pretty roll with the punches kind of girl, so I said ok, even though I really wanted Lily’s pictures in the other outfit!   It is what it is and I didn’t buy the outfit special for pictures so I didn’t think it was the end of the world.

As we were picking photos, we got a large framed trilogy for free, another photo sheet for free and a bundled package for $8.  I picked everything until our free photo sheet.  Truthfully I was having a hard time deciding because I didn’t love any of the pictures that were left, but there were some better than others.  The photographer immediately pulled up his favorite and edited it and made it black and white and told me that’s the one we should pick.  I said OK and we got 2 5×7 prints.

When we got in the car we looked at the pictures again and I told Kevin I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get the other outfit and that I don’t love the photo sheet I picked.  That’s when my husband looked at me and simply stated, “you need to stop letting people make decisions for you.  You always do that and you’re decisions are great, you just need to listen to yourself.”

Wow.  Number one, Kevin very rarely speaks up, and number two, he was totally right!  I constantly let other people make decisions for me because I don’t want to hurt anyone else’s feelings and I have a seriously hard time saying NO.  What an eye opener!!  I have always had a hard time saying no, but I didn’t realize how much it affects my life!

I’m going to work harder to drive the direction of my own life, but I’m not going to lie, this is going to be hard.  I am so programmed to do what others want just to not make waves that I’m sure there will be a lot of uncomfortable  moments in my near future!

So how does one say “no”?  Any tips are great!!

Valentine’s Day

I have never been a lover of Valentine’s Day.  To me it was always such a Hallmark holiday where you can never get good reservations and if you don’t get flowers delivered to your office, everyone else feels sorry for you.  In fact, a girl at work got such a gorgeous arrangement of flowers and set them on the table, I was sure I was at a wedding reception.  Seriously, they looked like a centerpiece!

No flowers at my desk this year, they just aren’t in our budget.  But that is seriously OK.  Truth be told, we probably wouldn’t even acknowledge the holiday if it wasn’t the day we met… 7 years ago!  We usually try to do something little on this day just to remember how lucky we are that we met and turned our conversation into a beautiful life together, but nothing to write home about!

This year was a little different since we had Lily.  She was old enough to “celebrate” with us but not really old enough to understand what was going on.  I had such high hopes of being mom-of-the-year and making a heart-shaped cake, decorating the house, cooking a big dinner and having a movie night, complete with sleeping bags on the floor and a nice bottle of wine for the adults.

Valentine’s Day Fail for me!  Turns out I’m not mom-of-the-year this year.  We had a rotisserie chicken Kevin picked up at Giant Eagle and I threw together some side dishes, there was no cake or decorations, except for the wreath I had already made for the front door, and no wine because I didn’t have time to stop and get some and didn’t want to take Lily into the Liquor store with me.  Oh and that awesome floor bed I was going to make so we could all snuggle together?  Comet pooped on the floor when I got home, and although I cleaned it up, bleached the floor and then swiffered, I still didn’t want to lay on the floor!  Something about dog poop just really turns me off!

We did watch a movie together on the couch.  We picked the Princess and the Frog, which is one of my favorite Disney movies!  I love the message it sends that you have to work hard for what you get, and I like the music.  It’s just a good movie!  It would have been perfect except that Kevin fell asleep about five minutes into it and just as Lily started to drift off (I thought she would pass out after about half an hour since we were letting her stay up late), Comet jumped on the couch and got her all wound up and she was awake for the whole movie.

When the movie was over, Kevin woke up and took Lily up to bed and I thought we could watch something else since it was early, but he ended up falling back to sleep right away so I went to bed.  Good thing because Lily peed through her diaper, all of her clothes and the sheets at about 1 am and was then up until 4.  We hung out and watched Cinderella on the couch before she finally passed out again and I got about 4 hours of sleep total that night.

Did I mention I am not a lover of Valentine’s Day?  This is precisely why!

My Journey to FAT

This is something I don’t talk about very often, it’s like the elephant in the room.  I know I’m fat, you can clearly see I’m fat, but if I just don’t admit to it, it isn’t happening, right?

Wrong.  So very wrong.

I didn’t always struggle with my weight.  In fact, I was in great shape and really tiny until I went to college.  I gained the Freshman 25 and sadly, I couldn’t even blame the partying.  I could only blame my crappy eating, crazy insomnia and Wendy’s for letting me eat great, even late (not to mention Eat N Park and Perkins).  I was a cheerleader in high school and since the dancing and crazy practice schedule was “fun” for me, I never felt like I worked out and I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain a pound.

Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to drink pop and we very rarely had junk food in the house (except chips and dip) so I never thought twice about snacking on grapes or apples and being perfectly content.  When I went to school, pop became my life and to this day I am super addicted to Pepsi!  It’s probably the worst thing I have ever done because I am having the worst time in the world giving it up!  My mom was naturally super skinny and ate like a horse so I had no reason to believe I would ever gain weight like I did.

I don’t even think I realized how much weight I had gained until I moved to Florida, and no one living in Florida should be fat because it is HOT there, especially in the summer!  My mom, however, reminded me I was getting fatter and fatter everyday.  She blamed my ex-boyfriend and although I defended him like a momma bear defends her cubs, she was totally correct.  The ex loved to eat, and eat well, and while I totally enjoyed going out to dinner all the time and eating like a Princess all over the world, it really took a toll on my body.  Add on top of that a completely sedentary lifestyle of watching movies because, lets face it, fat people don’t want to do exercise!

When I started dating my husband, he was extremely active and loved to play tennis and take walks and go to the gym.  But he wasn’t strong enough to will me into it and I started to change him into the cycle of tv and eating.  His saving grace was that he walked a mile to work each way from where he parks on the South Side so he still got exercise.  I can say we were much more active when we lived in Florida because we were always walking around Disney or doing something outside since the weather was always amazing, but still not enough to make a difference.

Add all of that together with an emergency c-section and you can just say my body is shot.  Not shot for good, just shot for now.  This year I have really committed to getting back to “me.”  Now that Lily is on a good routine and I have the evenings to myself, I can really focus on the things I need to be focused on… housework, working and ME.  I don’t just want to get in shape to look good, I want to feel good, have energy and be healthy so I can teach Lily good foundations of healthy eating and exercise!

Enter Beachbody and T-25.  I was reluctant to spend all that money, but honestly, the gym isn’t convenient with a toddler and I don’t want to take her from daycare to put her in another daycare while I work out.  That’s not fair, there’s no “mommy time” for us on the weekdays, and I am totally full of excuses so I can talk myself out of going to the gym anytime!  So I did it.  Actually, Kev and I are doing it together.  It’s only day 5 but already I feel a difference and I feel good about myself for working out again!  2014 is the year of Meagan, beginning with running a half marathon and ending with my goal weight with tons of hard work and dedication in between.  Join me on my journey and please feel free to leave any tips!