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Archive for June, 2013

So close!!

June 22nd, 2013 at 03:05 pm

July's mortgage payment just hit and the loan balance is now: 64,050.20.

Yes, I'm thrilled it went down about $800 but it's frustrating because it's so close to being under $64,000.

What is it about getting balance just a little but below the higher number that makes it so much more satisfying?
I'm going to have to figure out a way to send a little bit more money to the principal this month. Somehow!!

You'll never believe how crazy this week has been!

June 13th, 2013 at 09:30 am

I'm still recovering from a very busy, tiresome but amazing weekend.

On the family front, we had a few days slip where no one got any chores done, but it's to be expected when you are on the go, I suppose.

Friday, Dh and I went on a date to see a band and go to our friend's 40th birthday party.

Saturday, DS 1 had a sleepover, and the rest of us when to our friend's house for another birthday party, and stayed out way too late. DS2 was exhausted!

Then Sunday, we went to family fun day at the park and did archery and fishing with the kids.

Here is where it gets crazy!!

Monday, was ladies' night with my two best girlfriends. We went to see a solo show for one of our favorite rock stars. It was in an amazingly small venue, and there were maybe 100 people there. It was so great. We're used to seeing him in giant stadium shows. But this time, we were maybe 10 feet from the stage, and it was just as good if not better of a show!

Here is the kicker. We actually got to meet him, get an autograph, and get a photo with him. He was very nice and gracious. So yeah, we're all still high on that experience, the "I can't believe I got to meet..."

My one friend is still so excited. Nothing like that has ever happened to her before and I thought she was going to pass out talking to him, she was so excited. That made it even better, at least for me, to see her so happy.

Here was our close-up view:


Now, I'm trying to catch up with work (as always).

I filed my last story of the gig I've given up, so I am officially finished. it's still scary to give up money, even though I know it's totally worth it!

I'm still waiting to see what my olife will be like without that, with kids in summer camp occasionally, and a giant summer project to finish by Aug. 1. By fall, I'm hoping I might actually have time to work on the many many many personal and household projects that have been on hold for the past three years.

Update on Phase 1 of fixing family life

June 6th, 2013 at 06:56 am

Well, phase one of fixing family life seems to be working smoothly, but it's only been a few days.

The kids seem to love the chore cards, and are always angling to do their jobs so they can put the cards in the basket and earn their daily "peanut".

The unintended consequence has been that we as parents need to be more on top of things and put more effort into helping them do jobs such as reading every day (in addition to bedtime), and doing their "school" work.

So yes, it's forced us to be more disciplined in making sure we're doing what we want the kids to be doing every day.

The parent jobs have also gone well. Something extra has been cleaned every day! And in some cases, I've thought, "Well, I already have the cleaner out, I might as well do this part over here..." so really, more is getting cleaned.

Hubby said it takes effort, but he can see how it would make things better in the long run. He also said he can tell already that the house is cleaner.

I will likely add some extra chore cards for the weekend, like having the kids pick up their rooms and maybe vacuum their own rug. I'm trying to keep the daily list short, as they are only 3 and 5 and have short attention spans.

So yes, success.

****
On the reigning in the money side, I decided to give Mint.com a go, so I spent most of the afternoon putting in our financial data. I could see how you could spend a lot of time on that site! Hopefully, I can tweak it enough to make it useful. We'll see.

****
I had more thoughts on the freelance work. I actually had a freak out moment about giving up the regular gig, wondering if maybe I wouldn't have enough work. Silly me. It's a real fear as a freelancer, but then again, I have a million other personal and fiction projects I would rather be doing. They might not pay up front, but it's what I'd rather be doing for a living.

Repairing my family, work, and kids life, part 1

June 3rd, 2013 at 07:52 am

I guess this is part two to my last desperate post about managing home, work, and children!

I have given it some thought and realized we need some "foundation repair." We need to have certain basic systems in place to make our lives easier and less frustrating.

I designed a magnetic menu board/chart for me. I wrote all of the common main courses, fruits, veggies, snacks, and starches we eat on heavy cardstock, laminated them, and slapped a magnet on the back. I will be using them to put together our weekly food menu, so worrying about what we are going to be eating every night at 4 p.m. will hopefully go away. The menu will go up Sunday afternoon, before I do the weekly shop.

In fall, I will add lunches to the list. Right now it's just snacks and dinners, because that is when the kids are home. In fall, my oldest will be in a.m. kindergarten and home for lunch every day, so we will add that in once we are in the groove. Here is a pic:



Next up is all of the daily household tasks. I obviously can't keep the house up all by myself, and I'm tired of living in filth. I created a "daily jobs" list not just for the kids, but for me and DH as well.

The kids chart contains the things they are expected to do everyday: schoolwork, cleaning up their toys, brushing teeth, putting their laundry down the chute, putting their dishes in the sink after meals, etc. I tried to keep it light given their ages. The goal is to not have to keep nagging and yelling at them to do these things every day.

If they do all of their jobs each day, they earn a "peanut" (a cartoon peanut used for a bulletin board), and when they earn 20 peanuts they get to do something special, like go bowling or putt putt with the parents. I'm fine tuning this part. We'll see how it goes.

Here is a pic of the kid's chart:



The adults also have daily jobs. I had to sell Dh on this because he said he is "100 percent utilized" which at first made me mad. If he's 100 percent utilized just from playing with the kids for 2 hours and working, I am running at a deficit every day! Anyway, he was more into it when I showed him the plan.

I'm hoping that if we can get into a routine wherein there isn't as much nagging,and we all know what is expected of us, that will help ease some tension around here and we can fix bigger problems.

Anyway, in addition to the laundry and dishes we both do, we each have one extra 10-minute clean-up job every day. Things like pulling out the toaster and coffee maker and wiping the counter underneath, or cleaning the inside and outside of the microwave, washing the windows in one room. Cumulatively, doing these small 10-minute tasks every day will result in a much cleaner and better looking house, without setting aside a large chunk of time to just clean (which never happens!).

In reality, the two of us doing 10 minutes extra cleaning each day amounts to 2 hours and 20 minutes of extra cleaning each week. That is nothing to sneeze at. I made and laminated 10 minute job cards, magnetized them. Each day, we pick the chore we will do and hang it on the fridge. When it's done, it goes to the bottom of the stack. We'll see how it works!

I'm determined to make changes now, while the kids are still young and pliable. As y'all mentioned and I feel, things need to change now or nothing will get better. Once the foundation issues are fixed, I can move on to bigger problems.

***Part two coming soon***

In two weeks, I will be finished with the last of my low-paid weekly freelance gigs. After that, I will see how the dust settles and what my new weekly schedule looks and feels like work-wise.

I have given some thought to some of your suggestions to limit the number of projects I take on. It looks like I've averaged 12 projects/ articles a month this year, with basically 12 hours a week of childcare. Eek. No wonder I'm losing my mind.

Once this weekly gig is gone, that will be 4-5 less each month. I am committed to a minimum of 6 or 7 each month otherwise, plus I have a large summer project that I have to complete before Aug. 1.

After I see how my schedule looks without the second weekly gig, I can see how I might schedule time for my own personal projects like my novel, etc.

Of course, this will once again change in fall, when my oldest is in school every day (even if it's only 3 hours).

And, see if I can get us on a nightly summer schedule. wherein hubby takes the kids after dinner, I take a run at the park, etc.

We'll see. Stay tuned guys. Your advice was invaluable, now it's just a question of putting it into action!