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Archive for January, 2017

Off to a decent start...

January 12th, 2017 at 07:09 pm

Nothing much to report. Which I suppose is good?

We're almost done with the second week of our $400 week for everything but bills budget. It seems to be going well!

It's almost refreshing in a way to have limits. It makes me more mindful, and it keeps extraneous stuff and purchases from entering the house.

We do have some CC debt to pay off from December, the month of crazy and Christmas wherein we always overspend, but with the budget, it should be gone by the end of the month, before I incur any interest charges.

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I'm back on the wagon and nearly finished the the second novel in my Salt Creek series. Phew! I'm learning to write faster and better drafts.

It took me about six months to write book 1, then about five more years to edit it and revise it 5 more times. (In my defense, I had work and two fresh babies.)

Book two, I started in October, and it will likely be finished next week. (First draft, that is). The revisions will likely go more smoothly, as my first draft is a much more coherent story. I guess you do learn by doing!

I also downloaded a writing productivity app called 5,000 Words per hour. It's free. It really does work. It's basically a stop watch. You write in sprints, to see how many words you can get down on paper in X amount of time. It certainly has helped me focus, and made me feel less guilty getting out of my chair to do other things before my 2,000 word count goal was met.

So yay for free productivity apps!

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The only bad part about writing more is I'm not getting as much exercise! Boy, my fitbit is like "what happened??"

Writing more= sitting more. Boo. I'm sure all of your in the fitbit challenges with me will cut me some slack, right? Wink

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I'm back on Swagbucks, and have already banked about $40 in Amazon cards. I had some old points lurking there, I made a purchase through their portal (stuff I was going to buy at the store anyway), and did some videos,polls, and earned some search points.

So, yeah. It's a lot of time and work, but that's basically free money. Once my CC rewards hit, I might actually be able to buy a new record player on Amazon for free!

I have so many great albums that didn't make it to CD or digital music, and I've missed listening to them since the record player doesn't work. (Been repaired twice. Didn't last. Boo.)

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I'm also planning to do the mini 52-week savings challenge. In my piggybank. For next December's Xmas money. I haven't started yet. I know I know,but I will download the chart today and use the spare change in my purse to keep up. I swear. I will. Wink


SA FitBit Group last call!

January 4th, 2017 at 07:32 pm

I'm taking the SA fitbit group private tomorrow so join now if you want in!

https://www.fitbit.com/group/2356S9

OMG. I'm boring! Boring! Boring!

January 3rd, 2017 at 04:31 am

Welp. It happened. It snuck up on me. Today I realized I am a boring parent. Geesh. No wonder my kids are bored! I'm bored out of my skull! How could I not be boring???

How did I get boring?

I've long had this feeling of malaise about motherhood. I love my kids more than anything, don't get me wrong, and I dutifully do homework, PTA, take them to and participate in enrichment/sports, read to them (lots), and occasionally take them on trips.

But, when we're wiling around the house most days, I'm bored out of my mind. I feel confined to the house because they aren't old enough to be home alone.

It's kind of this terrible sensation of
1. feeling like life 'out there' is passing me by, and
2. Wanting to be part of it,but taking the kids places is such drama. They complain, they never want to do the same thing, they want to leave the minute we get there. etc.

Anyway. Long story short. I either don't go places, or I go without them and leave them home with hubby. (We take turns.)

I'm writing this assuming I am not the only mom who has felt like this or been through it. But also because something changed in me today.

It's like something clicked. I don't know if it's permanent, but it's something. Before I talk about the click, let me back up.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how children learn skills and learn how to be grown ups, and I keep coming back to the idea of the apprenticeship. Kids learn about being grown up by watching grown ups around them. Watching us build, fix, work garden, socialize with our friends. etc.

And then I think.Huh.They're learning to be bored by watching me be bored. They're learning to stay home because children as a hassle. What a crappy life lesson.

I also think a lot about what kind of experiences I'd like them to be exposed to, and what kind of things I'd like to show them in the world. And I think well, someday, I'll.... Then it doesn't come because, you know, they complain a lot and are hard to manage when we're out. It's HARD to take them into the world. So we don't go out into it.

Okay. Back to the click. We've been out of school since Dec. 20. OMG. That is so long. We're out of the 'usual' kid stuff we always do. We've had playdates at our house, and they're bored of that. We've done everything we 'usually' do: Christmas, trampoline park, Chuck E Cheese, eating out, etc.

So, this morning, I called up another mom in the same predicament and declared we were all going roller skating. I'm tired of the same old, I like roller skating, the boys have never done it, so let's do it.

I didn't tell my boys what we were doing until we were in the parking lot, because I knew they'd complain. And of course, all they did was whine when we got there. Then I flat out said. "No whining. All I ask is you have an open mind and try it, and if you don't like it, we won't come back again." They agreed ( I was surprised).

So... Background. I played roller derby. I can run, jump, and karate kick on skates, and I love it. It's my fav thing. But I haven't gone for 5 years, because the kids would never go.

We're at the place. We've all got skates on, and within 10 minutes it was a disaster. The boys kept falling. They couldn't seem to put my lessons into action. They were mad, and sat on the sidelines, huffing about wanting to go home. I felt terrible. I felt that feeling of "Why did I bother? Why did I waste the money? Why can't I ever do anything fun?" That I often have when the boys fall apart at some activity.

Then the click. I told them "Fine. Stay right here and I'm going to skate around for a bit."

So they stayed. They pouted. And pouted. Then something happened. The oldest stopped pouting and tried again. And again. Without my intervention. And after a few more rounds he almost got it. He was so close. Sure, the youngest laid down in protest and refused to talk/walk/skate/laugh, but hey, you can't win them all. At least he stayed put and didn't wander off. Apparently, I just have to put wheels on their feet to keep them still. That's a win.

After I skated for a while, I gave the youngest $5 worth of tokens for the arcade and he went off. And I skated some more. Enough to work up a tiny bit of sweat. And, while I could have skated all day, at that point 30-45 minutes was a coup.

After we were in the car, the oldest meekly said he'd be willing to go with me and try it again. Hazzah! Success!

Pardon the long rant. I bring it up because I think the boredom of my daily life is killing me, and I'm sure a lot of people feel the same.

I've always been an on-the-go cultural/experience/travel kind of girl, and that died when I had kids. I've been trying for a long time to figure out how to add it back in with children, and my answer to always go without them is limiting for both me (timewise) and them (missing out on cultural things).

As part of my new year, I'm determined to turn it around for us. I must remind my children to keep an open mind, and I must remind myself the price of staying home because they get a little complainy when going out, is missing out and being bored.

I'm declaring it. No more boring mom. No more boring kids. It's time for some culture, darn it. And it's time to kiss the comfort zone goodbye.

On that note. I'm taking one or both children to free day at the art museum this Sunday. And, I signed the oldest up for his first ski lesson and ski day. (He's 8. It's cub scout day, so deep discount.) He's nervous, but he'll be a natural. I know it.

I've declared it. Death to boredom!

(UPDATE: I forgot to tell you we're also FOOD boring. My oldest is soo picky, we pretty much have to eat burgers every time we eat out, And I'm not much of a Betty Crocker, so I have a limited menu of items I make at home. So yes. Earlier this week, my youngest declared we were going to Indian for lunch (yay!). My biggest had a fit, but we went anyway. He ate white rice and a mango lassi. I tried not to 'nag' him about food, but still. It's disappointing. He's missing out on so much good food. But no more burgers! Death to food boredom!)

Phew! We made it to 2017!

January 1st, 2017 at 07:53 pm

I love the New Year's feeling. Finally, the stress and go-go of the Thanksgiving to Christmas season is finished and I can take time to get my/our lives back in order!

Our plan for New Years is similar to other years.

-Live on a cash weekly budget. $400/week for everything but bills.

When we stick to this, it improves our financial lives immensely. It's usually me who falls off track when I get busy or stressed out about the kids. So, fingers crossed, here we go again!

-Save money from every paycheck. (401k set to max out ($18,000) as usual. $500 every two weeks to savings, $288 every two weeks to property taxes, $200/month per kid to the 529.) My freelance checks go to my IRA.

-Give more. We set up our monthly contributions for charities in 2017, and we went from 2 a month to five a month. We'll see how this goes!

Our non financial and more life-quality goals include:

-Try new independently-owned bakeries and donut shops. The boys love seeking these out and it's a fun, not too expensive treat/adventure.

-Eat quality food, like meat from the local farm family, veggies from our garden and from our farmer's market, organic when possible, minimally processed as much as possible, etc. To this end, I am thinking of thrifting a bread machine to try to make my own. Some friends have one and love it, and I see the darn things everywhere for cheap!

For me:

-I'm ready to dress well. I've kind of let that part of me go since the kids but I'm ready to have a decent wardrobe. I'm not talking ridiculous designer duds. I mean a well-chosen, useful, mix n match minimalist wardrobe where everything is in good repair and fits.

I'll be doing a closet purge, and be on the lookout for useful items. I'm also going to read some books at the library about dressing for your body, etc. for ideas!

My goal is also to become a professional fiction author this year. Like CJ, I plan to self publish my first novel or two this year. The timeline I had planned is in question now, because I'm a finalist in two Romance Writers of America contests and as part of entering, agreed the books were not published. SO, I have to wait until that's all over. A good problem to have, I suppose.

Speaking of books, this time of year I usually dust off and re-read some of my favorite go-to books to get inspired not only for a more meaningful and frugal life, but also for my spring garden (Seeds are ordered already!)

These books are:

"The Freedom Manifesto" by Tom Hodgkinson. This is kind of a weird little book I picked up on a lark from Barnes and Noble ten years ago. And I love it. It's a very unusual personal finance -kind of- book.

"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. I can't tell you how many times I've read this. It helps on an intentional living front, on garden inspiration, on clean eating. All of it. And of course it's beautifully written.

"The Good Life." BY Scott and Helen Nearing. Technically a homesteading book, I like it for lots of reasons. Frugality, intentional living, garden plans, being resourceful, etc.

So, let the fun of 2017 begin!!