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Archive for August, 2013

freelance check to mortgage--- hazzah!

August 31st, 2013 at 01:42 pm

Well, the horrible summer project has a silver lining. Just used the check --$2500-- to pay down the mortgage and we have finally made it under $60,000!!!

New balance is $59,786.57. It feels so good. I can't wait to pay this sucker off!!

Settling in to the new routine

August 30th, 2013 at 02:44 pm

Hi guys. You know I've had lots of work-life conflicts recently and it's taken a lot of hard decisions and serious thinking about what life should be to muster any sort of conclusion.

I'm finally reaping the fruits of my labors. The decision to let go of some stressful, low-paying regular projects has been great in many ways. I don't regret it.

I'm settling into the new routine. I just got my oldest in kindergarten last week. (it's only 3 hours a day. Seriously?). My youngest is in preschool, and he's actually in school longer than DS1. Unfortunately, it's not the same three hours. DH1 starts an hour earlier, so once they are all dropped off, I have a little less than two hours each day to do what I need to do.

I have determined that my ideal daily routine includes
1. exercise/ physical labor
2. paid work
3. creative and creation work (things like gardening, canning, sewing, creative writing)

I am trying to squeeze much of that into the time kids are in school. DH has helped me "extend" the two hour window.

I walked the oldest to kindergarten, then I take a walk/run for about an hour. DH takes the youngest to preschool during this time. It's added another hour to my day, and helped me knock No.1 on the list.

When I get home, I do my paid work first.

I have done some "creation" work. Lately it's consisted mostly of canning items from the garden for winter. I've made lots of tomato sauce and lots of peach jam, and next week I'm going to try my hand at canning pears and apple juice/sauce. It's a nice work flow.

The boys did go to their grandparent's for a week last month, and during that time I got to work non-stop on the final draft of my novel. it went great-- finished 45 percent of it, edited and ready to go. (It's written, it just needs serious editing and checks for continuity).

Unfortunately, now that the boys are back, I haven't had the time or energy to work on it any more. I have to figure out a way to make it happen.

The great news is that my horrible summer project is filed and finished, and I got paid for it yesterday, so I sent all of it --$2500-- to the mortgage principal. It should take a chunk out of it. I'm hoping enough to get us close to under $60,000. I'm waiting for it to post just to be sure.

So the life change has all been positive.

The only downside is I'm used to always having those freelance checks coming in, and now that they aren't the money in the checking account is more worrisome and challenging.

We haven't quite adjusted our spending to reflect my reduced income. I'm hoping I can spend some time in fall managing that part of our lives.

Xmas shopping already...

August 18th, 2013 at 02:34 pm

It feels weird to say I've started Christmas shopping.
I always say "oh, I wish i'd grab X for X when I had the chance," or, sometimes I know what I want to get someone but can't find it when it's time.

I'm trying to solve those problems. I buy a lot of vintage gifts for people, so shopping way ahead gives me plenty of time to find the right piece.

This week, I bought two vintage 1950s bracelets for my friends teen daughters. (They like fashion...), and a mint pair of leather cowgirl boots for my bff. She will love them.

I am also shopping using my point on amazon, for "free" christmas gifts. I bought my youngest son some godzilla/ultraman monster toys because that is what he is really into now. For my sister, I got the veggie steamer pot she's been wanting forever. For no out of pocket. I could get used to that!

Work dilemma. Need advice!

August 7th, 2013 at 02:58 pm

I just got a call from a wire service I do work for occasionally, asking if I want to cover a trial between Aug 19 and labor day.

Normally, I say yes to this gig all the time, because they pay is awesome: 50 an hour including drive time.

But this time around, I'm not sure. The trial is 3 hours each way drive. And I'll have to be there either 3 or 6 days between aug 19 and labor day. Other than the first day, we do not know which of the other days I will have to be there, and likely won't until the night before. (you never know how trials will go, that is why.)

This is also the week my Kindergartener only has one day of school-- his orientation. And we don't even know which of those days yet until we get a letter from the school.

The next week will be his firs tin kindergarten and he only goes for three hours each day. I'd have to rely on my husband to stop working to take the children so I could be at a courthouse a 6 hour roud trip drive away on a moments notice.

This project could mean 2,000 to 4,000 for my family. I'd REALLY like to have the money, but with all the uncertaintly about which days I'd have to be there -- which makes childcare very difficult to plan-- and it being my son's first week at kindergarten at a new school.

I really am not sure i want to do it. The idea of it is making my head spin, but I'm having money guilt.

What should I do??

New pace of life

August 6th, 2013 at 04:24 pm

Now that I'm entering the "slow down" phase in my freelancing life, I'm thinking about what kind of life I want to live, and what kind of things I do and don't want to do everyday.

Obviously, parenting the kids and making a productive life for them is no. 1, but there will be a few brief hours (less than 3) every weekday when they are in school, and with my new freelance schedule, only one or two of those will need to be dedicated to work.

It'll will be a nice change from the three years of break-neck parenting and full steam ahead freelancing. All the constant deadlines and stress wore me down.

So, now what?

I've been thinking.

I'm happier and more balanced when each day has a range of activities. As in, not just sitting in front of the computer. Working. I like days where I get to work for a little bit, work in the garden doing something physical, do something creative like work on the house or some piece of art, and get to exercise, whether it's a run around the park or quiet yoga.

The question is, can I do all of those things each day? Maybe. Or at least I hope so.

For instance, yesterday. I wrote an article while the kids were in a two hour literacy class. Then we went swimming, DH and I shoveled gravel for the patio we are attempting to build, I made dinner, cleaned up, got the kids to bed, then diced, steamed, and canned some fresh tomatoes.

It was a tiring but very productive day, and I wasn't bored because the activities were varied.

Today, I took the kids to preschool, finished and filed yesterday's article, made two loaves of zucchini bread, then took a 40 minute walk in the sunshine.

I also want to do more scratch cooking and try to grow and harvest salad greens farther into the winter. But that is another story.

I was thinking the ideal structure to my day would involve little bits of these things every day or as the pace ebbs and flows

1.Paid work
2.Creative work and projects (novels, painting, etc.)
3.Exercise of some sort
4.Creation work, by which I mean cooking, gardening, baking, etc.


What do you guys think? Is balance possible? How do you manage to do what you need to do and make a nice life for your family even with competing demands?

I'm free!!!! Almost?

August 4th, 2013 at 12:12 am

Phew. I made it to august first. I turned in my giant project and feel like a weight has been lifted.

Well, of course, one of the 20 companies I was writing about dropped out a day before deadline and our scheduled interview, but we have a replacement.

I have to write one more story for it to be officially finished. But hey, worrying about one story instead of 19? Not so terrible!

***

My "new" life will really start to settle in this coming week, but I'm already seeing glimpses.

For instance, my mom comes up on Tuesday afternoons to watch the kids so I can work. Usually I have to shuffle off to the basement office immediately and begin war dialing sources and typing until my fingers bleed. (maybe not so dramatic, but hey).

But THIS Tuesday, the boys are taking grandma out to lunch and for a treat at our favorite bakery, then she wants to go see them get their school haircuts, so we're all going to do that. Then, hubby and I are going out to dinner and a movie.

Sounds so much more awesome than the pressure of deadlines.

I also feel great because under this project, and my life the past two years, a lot of things have been pushed to the back burner. As soon as the project was filed, I managed to knock some things off the to do list.

like, sort the clothes the kids have outgrown, hit some yard sales for bigger sizes, sort out their toys and the garage, then take my sweet time dropping all of that stuff off to their respective charities. And, posting a few higher value items on craigslist.

I also baked two loaves of zucchini bread today.

I might even have the energy tonight to repaint my living room. (paint is already purchased).

Time is such a luxury.

***
Speaking of luxury, I had kind of a sobering experience at the thrift store today. I was looking for pajamas for my youngest, who just hulk smashed out of his.

there were a lot of families back to school shopping. Probably more out of need than my just being cheap and liking a deal.

There was one dad with his 8 year old son, who I watched as he grew more and more distressed while trying to find a decent pair of used shoes for his son. He had already said he wanted his son to at least look nice at school, which was touching. I totally get it, but as nothing was quite right, I watched him grow more and more agitated until he started yelling at his son for basically typical distracted boy behavior.

Anyway, it made me sad and humble. I told Dh that I'm grateful we don;t have to worry about if we can afford new shoes for our sons. Our problems, really, are middle class problems. Puts things in perspective.

***
In other news, the mortgage payment hit today, and we're under $63,000. feels great! Only about 6k more to go to reach the goal for this year.