Quick Post

I am happy Wednesday is over.  The weather was rainy and gloomy all day.  Changes in the weather always affect how the students behave, and it’s not normally for the best.  I know I was cranky and tired all day too, which doesn’t help.

On the positive side of things, dinner was fabulous tonight!  I made BBQ pulled pork sandwiches for the first time, and we enjoyed them quite a bit.  I also have lots of leftovers that I can pull out for a quick and easy meal down the road.

I honestly don’t have much to say (mainly because my brain is fried), so I will keep you entertained with a photo of Bandit:

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This guy was actually a big part of why I am so tired today.  He wanted to sleep under the covers with me last night, but couldn’t decide how to get comfy.  He was up and down and turning and all kinds of moving around.  It was not conducive to a good night’s sleep at all.

I suppose I should get working on my school stuff for tomorrow.  Always lots to do!

How was your Wednesday?

Good Day

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There are not many days that I come home from work and just feel good.  Today was one of those days.  I felt like a rock star at work (which also is not a common occurrence), my house is still clean, we had a home-cooked meal for dinner, things are just going well.  I know that it will not always feel like this, so I am trying to soak it in as long as possible.

Today at school was hectic with starting new small groups, being videotaped for a language arts program I am doing (which I just started yesterday), having a college student come observe, and just all the regular goings-on of a 2nd grade classroom.

One thing that made today awesome was getting a Thank You card from the parent of one of my students.  My job is rather thankless from day to day, and teachers are often taken for granted.  I am not complaining, as I love my job and wouldn’t change it, but I am just stating a fact.  I have been working closely with this child and the parent simply reached out with a handwritten note expressing her thanks for this.  I pinned it up behind my desk so I could see it daily.  It really just warmed my heart and made me feel like I am actually making a difference.

The college student who came to observe today was very nice and had many sweet things to say about what she saw and observed in our classroom.  I really love working with future teachers and getting them excited about their careers!

I know that everything just came together at the right time to make today feel so good.  It wasn’t just one thing, and I know that it can change in an instant.  I know that I won’t get compliments every day.  And I know I won’t get thank you notes every day.  But I need to remember that even on those tough days in the classroom, my job matters.  I am making a difference.

Well, I have about an hour and a half until I am headed to bed.  I have a few things to get done for school tomorrow, and I know that an easy way to start my day off right is to be prepared!

Did you have a good day?

Menu Plan Monday

Better late than never!  This is going to be a very brief post!  I have about half an hour until I want to go to bed, and I still want to get one more school thing done.  I have been super productive this evening, and I think it’s thanks to my new daily schedule pages!  They do take a while to fill out each week, but I find it is so very worth it!

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Here is what we are serving up at Chez Confessions this week:

Sunday, September 14: Grilled chicken teriyaki with rice and grilled asparagus

Monday, September 15: Tacos and corn on the cob

Tuesday, September 16: Sesame chicken, rice, asparagus (First time making this, so hopefully it turns out well)

Wednesday, September 17: BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, raw veggies (carrots, cucumbers, celery)

Thursday, September 18: Out (Hubs is getting a recalled part fixed on his car at 5:15.  We will be in town, so we figured we can have a family dinner out)

Friday, September 19: Pasta Toss, Steamed green beans, bread

Saturday, September 20: Grilled chicken kabobs and rice

Just looking at those dates makes me wonder where September has gone!  We are already halfway through, and although each day has been slowly creeping by, I can’t believe it is already so far gone!  This seems to be how every month goes.  I just can’t seem to get a grasp on how quickly time flies!

Well, I am off to finish some school work!  I hope you have had a productive Monday!

What is on your menu this week?  Trying anything new?

Hello?

Is anyone out there still?  I know things have been hit or miss lately (or for the past 6 months or so), but I think I am finally back to a normal schedule for our life… at least until the beginning of October when Hubs changes shifts again.

Life has still been chugging along.  I have been overwhelmed, super-stressed, and on the edge… so pretty much the same as always.  Work has been a big part of those feelings.  I love the grade I am teaching now, and I love my class.  But no matter how long you have been teaching, the beginning of the year just seems like so much work.  And by the time it comes around each year, you have forgotten how much work it really is.  I try to get to school an hour early so I can prep for that day.  I also stay late one day a week so I can continue to work on things for the upcoming week.  I think that now that we are getting into a normal routine at school, things will start calming down again.

I have also been struggling with getting in a routine and feeling under control at home.  Hubs has been awesome and has been helping out a lot.  No matter what, though, I just haven’t been able to get on top of things.  I feel like I am treading water, just trying not to drown.

This weekend I have started trying to make more of a schedule for my days.  I have been very productive since I have done this.  Here is a peek at what it looks like:

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I found these pages many moons ago on iheartorganizing.blogspot.com.  At the time they were free (I don’t know if they still are or not), and I made a lot of copies (the originals are pretty and colored).  Basically this is the entire week, broken down into 30 minute chunks of time.  It goes from 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM each day.  I do edit mine so that the week starts with Saturday… That way my entire weekend is on one page (the page is actually Sunday through Saturday, but I wanted my weekend clumped together).

This weekend has gone pretty well.  I was behind my schedule on Saturday, but ahead of my schedule today.  A few things don’t get done, but this way I can see what all I do get done! I highlight as I accomplish something.  That way, I can look back at my day and see that I was productive.  I also like the visual reminder that each thing I have planned is really just for 30 minutes.  For instance, I hate doing dishes in the evening, but if I look at my page and see that it is just written in one slot, that means it is just 30 minutes.  I tell myself that if I get it done before the 30 minutes is over, then the rest of that block of time is mine.  This evening I had about 25 extra minutes, so I was able to catch up on a show with Hubs.

One thing I did make sure to add in there is time to blog every evening.  I put it in as a 30 minute activity each evening.  Hopefully this will get me back on track.  I really do miss blogging.

Well, my 30 minutes this evening is almost up.  I have an hour to work on school stuff before bed.  I got a lot done already this afternoon, but there is always school work to be done.

What do you do to keep yourself organized and on task?

September Goals

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I have usually been pretty good about setting monthly goals.  Unfortunately I have not done so since about February.  If you have been a reader for a while, you know that while I set many goals, I do not usually meet them.  This ends up in a lot of guilt on my part and really being hard on myself (something I do quite frequently, and I realize it is a very bad habit.)

I have tried many different ways of setting goals and just can’t come up with anything to stick.  I can’t just not set goals.  I feel that by setting goals, I am challenging myself to become the best me possible.  There are a number of things that I am not happy about with myself, and I know if I keep at it, I will build positive habits that will take over the negative ones.

I have been struggling in about every aspect of my life and feeling like I am not good enough:  Not a good enough mom, wife, teacher, photographer, friend, etc.  Again, I know I am very hard on myself, but that seems to be the worst habit of all that I just can’t break.  I think what makes it the worst is that I constantly compare myself to others.  I constantly think that other people have everything figured out, and I am the only one who is struggling.  I tell myself this is not true, but I just can’t escape it.

For the month of September, I am going to focus on positivity and balance in my life.  I have never focused on these two things, I think if I spend a whole month doing so, it will help my outlook on life.

My two main goals for September are

1) No negative self-talk.  This is going to be HARD for me.  Every time I get frustrated, look in the mirror, look around at the messy  house, look at my super messy desk, think about my stagnant to-do list I start in on the negative self-talk.  I know that this is one of my greatest challenges I have ever tried, but I think it’s going to help!

2) Find time for me and savor it.  Right now this is very difficult with Hubs and I on opposite schedules.  I do not have much time away from the little one, even when I am home.  I want to make a list of one thing I want to do every day just for me.  This isn’t going to include blogging, the budget, cooking, etc.  These are things just for me.  With the cooler weather coming, I am hoping to take advantage of enjoying my evenings outside once Miss C goes to bed.
I also want to begin the habit of savoring life.  I want to take it in and become in tune with my senses.  No phone next to me during this time.  I go through so many things in my day without really thinking about them.  I fly through things that I even enjoy and don’t truly take them in.  I want to change this.
This goal is just for me.

I think these two goals will be very difficult to complete, but I like to think I am up for the task.

I will have typical goals each week, but I am going to save that for a different post.  Today is the first day of September, and I am not sure what I am going to do for myself this evening.  I think it may involve a cup of hot tea and some time on the deck with my journal.  That sounds absolutely heavenly.

What are your goals for this month?

Saturday Cents

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So, it’s been an entire week since I blogged.  We just started school with kiddos this past week, and I always forget how exhausted I am at the beginning of the school year.  This is what my day looks like once I am done at work:

3:35- Leave school as soon as my contract time is over
4:00- Get home (this is only for Wed, Thurs, and Fri.  When I pick up Miss C from my mom on Mon and Tues, I don’t get home until 4:45)
4:00 (or 4:45 on Mon and Tues)-5:00: Play with Miss C, let dogs out, try to relax a bit
5:00- Start dinner (unless I have a crockpot meal… Then I get extra play time!)
5:30- Eat dinner (This is about when Hubs comes home on Mon and Tues)
6:00- Take off table, play with Miss C
6:30- Bathe Miss C (If she doesn’t need a bath, then we just keep playing)
6:45- Help Miss C clean up her toys in the living room
7:00- Bedtime for Miss C
7:00-8:00- Clean kitchen from dinner, do any work for school, spend a few minutes with Hubs
8:00- Get in bed/Read
8:30- Lights out

Not much time to blog or do much of anything.  My evenings seem to fly by most of the time.  It takes all my energy to just keep my eyes open.  I am lucky that Hubs helps out a lot, either keeping Miss C busy while I try to clean off the table or he will help clean the kitchen on his days off.  As far as other chores, such as laundry, other cleaning, errands, etc., they all wait until weekends usually.  Hubs will do a load of laundry here and there if he needs something for work that is not clean, but it is usually just saved for my days off.

Today has already been a busy day, too.  It started when I woke up around 6:00.  I finished my menu plan, grocery list, clipping coupons, etc.  I also had to make a disc and envelope for a client.  7:00 Miss C wakes up.  I get her fed, changed, clothes on.  At about 8:00 we get the dogs pinned up in the bedroom and load up the car.  I headed into town to drop off the disc for my client.  We finally got to the grocery store a few minutes before 9:00.  Shopping always takes a long time, and today I wrote down all the prices as I shopped to make sure I stayed under budget (I did!).  We got home around 10:15 and then unloaded all the groceries and got them put away.  We played for a bit, then I started lunch.  We ate lunch, played for a bit, and at about 12:00, Miss C was put down for her nap.  I hung out a load of clothes to dry and am now finally blogging!  Whew!  I still have a million things on my to-do list, but I felt I needed to take care of my neglected blog before I move on to them.

I have a quick recap of my grocery trip this morning.  I did not save as much as normal (only 13% instead of my usual 20%), as I did not have many coupons for what I needed.  Here is how it turned out:

Budgeted: $130 + $10 for meds
Total: $131.76

Here are some of my best deals:

Chili’s Frozen Meal
Original Price: $3.99
On sale: $3.00
e-Coupon: -$3.00
Total Spent: $0
Total Saved: $3.99

Freschetta Frozen Pizza
Original Price: $5.49
On sale: $4.99
e-Coupon: -$1.00
Total Spent: $3.99
Total Saved: $1.50

Yoplait Greek Yogurt (x5)
Original Price: $1.27 ($6.35)
On Sale: $1.00 ($5.00)
e-Coupon: Buy 1, Get 1 Free (only valid one time): -$1.00
Total Spent: $4.00
Total Saved: $2.35

Motts Applesauce To Go (x3)
Original Price: $2.69 ($8.07)
Sale Price: $2.29 ($6.87)
e-Coupon: -0.80 (-$2.40)
Total Spent: $1.49 ($4.47)
Total Saved: $1.20 ($3.60)

Comfort Brand 2T-3T Training Pants (Pkg of 26)
Original Price: $6.99
On Clearance: $3.49
Total Saved: $3.50

I have a few other items that were good buys due to rebates that I get by using the Checkout 51 app.  Here are those items:

Bananas
Original Price: $0.90
Checkout 51 Rebate: $0.25
Total cost: $0.65

Frozen Super Pretzels (x2)
Original Price: $3.49 ($6.98)
Coupons: -$0.50 x 2 (-$1.00)
Checkout 51 Rebate: $1.00
Total Cost: $4.98

Glade Jar Candle
Original Price: $3.49
Sale Price: $3.29
Coupon: -$0.55
Checkout 51 Rebate: $0.50
Total Cost: $2.24

My Checkout 51 account balance is at $13.55.  I get to cash out at $20!  I am getting so close, and I make sure I only buy things that I normally buy.  I am not sure what I will use the $20 for once we get it.  I think we may just stick it in savings at this point, since we don’t have anything that we desperately need right now.  I know $20 doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is always nice to get a little bit of extra money!

Did you find any great deals this week?

Saturday Cents

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Before I get into this post, I would just like to mention how expensive groceries seem to have gotten over the past year or so.  I increased our grocery budget this week and still went over by about $20.  We did have quite a few toiletries that we had to buy this week, but I still didn’t think I was going to go over the budget.  (I also spent $10.98 for items for my classroom.)  Oh well… hopefully next week we can stay under budget.

I did shop sales and used coupons, but it didn’t help enough.  Between sales and coupons I saved $41.32, which ended up being 22% of my total.  My total balance was $153.07.  I had budgeted $130 for the week.  I just hope we don’t need anything else during the week, as we don’t have any extra cash for groceries at this point, and I really want to get out of the habit of using our debit card.

Here are some of the big deals I got this week:

Multigrain Cheerios
Original Price: $5.19
Sale Price: $3.50
Coupon: -$1.00
Total Spent: $2.50
Total Saved: $2.69

Gillette Antiperspirant (x3)
Original Price: $2.49 ($7.47)
Coupons: -$0.75 (-$2.25)
Total Spent: $5.22
Total Saved: $2.25

Motts Applesauce (x3)
Original Price: $2.69 ($8.07)
Sale Price: $2.29 ($6.87)
Coupons: -$0.80 (-$2.40)
Total Spent: $1.49 ($4.47)
Total Saved: $3.60

Tyson Frozen Chicken Breasts (3 lb bag)
Original Price: $12.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Coupon: -$1.75
Total Spent: $7.24
Total Saved: $5.75

Kroger Brand Frozen Chicken Tenders (3 lb bag)
Original Price: $11.99
Sale Price: $8.99
Coupon: -$1.45
Total Spent: $7.54
Total Saved: $4.45

Yoplait Yogurt
Original Price: $0.60
Sale Price: $0.50
Coupon: -$0.50
Total Spent: $0!
Total Saved: $0.60

So there ya have it!  I also saved about $9.50 on ground beef and a roast.  The roasts are on sale this week, and I will split mine in two in order to get two meals out of it.  There were also some other good sales on items we get often (string cheese, pasta, etc.)

This summer was tough on the budget (due to a complete lack of discipline on my side), and I haven’t updated my sidebars lately at all.  I hope to get back into the swing of things and get our savings back up to where I will feel more comfortable.  Hopefully we can stick to the budget and live frugally for the rest of the year.  It will be tough, but it will be nice to get things back in order.

How did your budget fare over the summer?

Back to School

I headed back to school this week!  Our students don’t start until Monday, so they still got to enjoy their summer break this past week.  This week we had two days of meetings and two days to work in our classrooms.  Also last night we had a Meet the Teacher night, which means I got to meet most of my 2nd graders.  Meeting my students just got me even more excited about this upcoming year!

Since I moved to 2nd grade, I got to move my classroom.  I have never been in the same classroom for more than 2 years, so moving classrooms is nothing new to me.  I enjoy reorganizing as well as setting up everything each year, so it has been a fun process.

Without further ado, here are pictures!

wpid-20140814_153653.jpgThis is standing in the doorway and looking immediately to the left.  I love my classroom library area, and most of my students who came in the room love the soccer ball chair (which I got from my sister)!

wpid-20140814_153656.jpgHere is straight in from the doorway.  I am going to have some reward charts on the cupboard doors, so that is why they are empty right now.  In the far back corner is my small group table.

wpid-20140814_153702.jpgHere is the other back corner.  All the way back there is my teacher desk.  I also have a table back there with my document camera, printer, phone, and speakers.

wpid-20140814_153708.jpgHere is the front of the room!  There isn’t too much to say about it.  The bulletin board will eventually be used for some vocabulary items to go along with a new program I am piloting.

wpid-20140814_153712.jpgAnd here is back to the doorway and the soccer ball chair.

I love how clean and new the classroom feels right now.  I know that by the end of the school year it will be well-worn and tired feeling, so I will enjoy the newness for as long as it lasts.

Being back at work has been great!  I am so excited about the school year, and even Hubs has mentioned that my demeanor has changed since being back.  I know this year will be great, both because of the students, my fellow 2nd grade teachers, and all of the wonderful people at my school.

It’s All Relative

Many of us have heard the Albert Eistein quote:

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.”

I have heard this quote and pushed it to the back of my mind.  Yes it makes sense, and I am well aware of how quickly time goes when you are doing things you enjoy.  But what about how slowly time seems to go when you are struggling or going through things that are more difficult than fun?

I am learning that the toddler years are not my favorite.  My squishy, sweet baby girl is turning into a tantruming toddler.  Most of her tantrums are based around food right now.  It doesn’t help that she does not have her language skills developed, so therefore she cannot tell me what she wants to eat.  For now I guess a lot of times at what to give her for snack, and when I guess wrong, we have a meltdown.  I try to be stern and just tell her to eat the snack I have given her, but then I realize that if she could talk and tell me what she wanted, then I wouldn’t give her the wrong thing on purpose and tell her to eat it.  She is unable to communicate effectively with me, and it causes a lot of stress and tension between us.

This summer was a completely different summer than last year.  More playing, less napping.  More giggles and fun, less snuggles.  More tantrums, less go with the flow.  I know this is just what toddlers do.  Everything I know about early childhood development runs through my head.  I know she has so many new feelings happening and no way to communicate them besides crying or smiling/laughing.  I know that I do not need to punish for the behavior of not being able to communicate with me…

But man did I want to just sit her in her crib, and give us both the chance to have a good, long cry.  Her lack of language skills has been a very tough challenge so far.  She is progressing and has made tremendous growth this summer, but the frustration for both of us is still there.

I had heard a quote a while back, (and I believe Hubs had also mentioned it to me at one point) and it could not be a more accurate description of the summer I have had…

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Every day that we struggled this summer, every day that we had a tantrum, every day that we couldn’t communicate, every day that I felt I wasn’t doing a good job… Those days crept by as slow as possible.  I counted down until Hubs came home from work, and I had some relief.  Those days had early bedtimes.  Those days had tears from us both.  Those days were ones I wanted to wash away from my mind.  Those days were long.  Sadly, those summer days are over.

When my mom came to pick up Miss C yesterday morning as I went back to work, we both mentioned how it did not feel as though two months had gone by.  It felt as though it had only be a few weeks.  The days which seemed to never end have now ended, and looking back the summer seems short. I would be lying though if I didn’t say I was excited to be among my peers yesterday at work.  I was excited to be around adult conversation.  I was excited to have time by myself, both in the car rides to and from work and also in my classroom.

But I would also be lying if I said I didn’t get teary Monday as Miss C snuggled with me while we watched Mickey and I played with her hair.  I would be lying if I didn’t say how much my heart ached as I put her to bed on Monday night knowing that I would leave her to go to work the next morning.  I would be lying if I didn’t say that I now have a lump in my throat writing about this, because I know our summer has passed.

I know that these moments are fleeting.  I know that next summer she will be talking and be a completely different toddler.  I know that she loves her time with her Meme and at home one on one with her daddy.  I know being away from me while I am at work is good for her, as she is very clingy.  I also know that I am a better mother because I get to leave and go to work.  I am refreshed now after one day at work.  I can enjoy my days with my daughter again.  They don’t feel as long and daunting anymore.  I never thought I would want to be a working mother, but I feel as though I am a better mother because of it.  This summer beat me down mentally and emotionally to a really dark and ugly place.  Luckily I had Hubs, my family, and wonderful friends who offered support.  Without the light of work at the end of the tunnel, I don’t know if I could have made it.

Going through the days of summer was a long and tough battle.  Now that we are on the other side of it, I see how truly short and wonderful it was, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Clothing Confessions

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So, I mentioned that I may have spent quite a bit of money on clothes in the past week or so.  I wasn’t kidding.  I think for the number of items I got, I didn’t actually spend that much.  I will see what you think.

The first place I went was a resale store called Ditto.  I had a full stamp card, which entitled me to $20 off. And I sold back two tops for $6.00.  They were also having a sale where you buy one tank top, get one 50% off.  (I think it went for all tops, because 2 of my non-tank top shirts ended up being 50% off as well). I ended up spending $10.31 at this store, and this is what I got:

1 tank top ($4)
1 tank top (Originally $2, but 50% off, so $1)
1 sweater ($12)
3/4 sleeve shirt ($10)
3/4 sleeve shirt (Originally $8, but 50% off, so $4)
1 long-sleeved shirt (Originally $8, but 50% off, so $4)

The total before my $20 for my stamp card and $6 for selling back clothes came to $35.00.  After tax I paid just a little over $10!  Not too bad!

The next store I went to was Plato’s Closet.  This is also a resale store, so prices are pretty low.  My stamp card wasn’t completely full, and there weren’t any really great sales, so I paid “full price” for their items, which ends up being much lower than if I would have bought them new at the mall.  I ended up paying $60.87.  Here is what I got:

1 short dress ($5.00)
1 belt ($6.00)
1 pair of black leggings ($4.00)
1 pair of charcoal grey leggings ($5.00)
1 short dress ($7.00)
1 black maxi skirt ($9.00)
1 striped tank top ($4.00)
1 striped cardigan ($8.00)
1 long sleeved top ($8.00)

Now, if you notice, I have not bought any new pants, which is really what I needed at this point.  The two stores I went into just didn’t have any selection of work trousers.  Because of that I ended up going to a 3rd store: Ross.  This store isn’t a resale store, but they have newer fashions that are marked down from department store prices.  I ended up spending quite a bit of money here, but a chunk of it went to a new pair of tennis shoes for Hubs.  If I take that out of the equation, I ended up spending $67.86 on clothing for myself.  Here is what I got there:

1 top/sweater set ($13.99)
1 dressy sleeveless shirt (Originally $14.99, on sale for $9.99)
1 black and white striped top ($7.99)
1 pair of black trousers (Originally $12.99, on sale for $8.99)
1 pair of black trousers ($12.99)
1 long sleeved blue and grey striped top (Originally $6.99, on sale for $4.99)
1 long sleeved pink top (Originally $4.99, on sale for $3.39)

One thing to note is that almost all of the tops that I bought during my trips can be paired with a number of different pants: trousers, skirts, jeans, etc.  This makes them much more versatile.  I am able to create more than just 1 look from each top.

For a grand total of $139.04 I bought 22 items!  That comes to an average of $6.32 an item.  I think I am ready for fall!  I am already well stocked for winter, so I don’t foresee me buying any new clothes for about a year.  I am hoping to add a line item in our budget for clothing.  I know Hubs is in need of some new items, and come next fall, I would rather have a large sum saved up instead of having to dip into savings.

I do feel guilty about buying myself clothes, but in all honesty most of my fall clothes are ones that I got when I first started teaching (I am starting my 8th year this year).  I have a stack of clothes that I will be donating to Goodwill in order to clean out my closet and really get rid of those items I just don’t wear.  (This is one good thing about Hubs wearing a uniform to work.  We don’t have to worry about buying him new work clothes, too.)

The next big shopping trip I have planned is in September.  I will be going to the consignment sale to get winter items for Miss C.  I don’t think I will spend as much as I have in the past, as I have quite a few 2T items already stocked up in the basement.  I have a lovely friend who has handed down many clothes to us, which makes life much easier (and less expensive).

When was the last time you bought yourself some new clothes?  Do you have to buy clothes for work or do you have a uniform that you wear?