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Friday, May 31, 2013

Do You Have Plans This Weekend?

The week has gone by quickly and my children are with their Daddy, as they are just about every Friday night.  The house feels extra quiet and it can be lonely to think of hours without activity.  I learned early in my single mom life that I didn't enjoy being home alone for long. 

Initially, I would spend hours walking the mall, but not having funds to actually purchase something made that get tiring quickly.  In decent weather, I have spent hours walking our local trails.  Then I got smart and began making plans with friends.  Sometimes we walk trails, sometimes we go out to eat, sometimes we just hang out.  This has been another gift of these single years...investing in friendships. 

So, if you find you dread that time when the children are elsewhere - plan ahead to fill the void.  Take care of yourself and enjoy others!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Just a Few Updates

Hi.  Our summer break has officially started with pool passes and a daily sitter.   The children have yet to sleep past 6:30 am...even though I've been keeping them up later.  But I've gained two hours each day without the commute to various schools - I'm already appreciating that!

I believe that our mouse has exited the house.  No evidence since last week sometime.

Sometimes I wish we getting married on June 20 instead of July 20.  I'm looking forward to living as a family.  Other times I get anxious thinking about moving and blending and being a large(r) family. There will be a learning curve for all of us.  But I'm very excited for the challenge!

My children have sunburns.  They are currently obsessed with Netflix and pretzels. 

I had a banner weekend where we celebrated Mr. Wonderful's birthday with the complete family at the Japanese Steakhouse and enjoyed strawberry shortcake.  We took a lovely walk downtown on the unusually cool evening with pleasant company and conversation.  I purchased new shoes, got a new phone and got to eat at Chuy's all on the same day!  Wow!

Today, we have family portraits and I'm addressing invitations.  My idea of a modern romantic summer wedding is coming together and I can already tell that I will wish for more time with my family and friends. 

My heart is full today, thank you, Lord!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Something About Summer...

There is a more relaxed vibe even though much of life's real responsibilities remain.  It feels like there is a little more space for possibility, a little more time for connecting and a the days actually are longer allowing more light to shine into our lives.  Beginning the weekend, knowing it will extend into Monday is just breeds relaxation!

I will be doing some cleaning, some crafting, some planning, some bonding and some partying.  It is Mr. Wonderful has a birthday and we're taking the whole family to a Japanese Steakhouse.  I'm hoping to make it up to the Mountains, also.  Large chunks of unscheduled time is a treasure!

I hope you have a beautiful weekend.  Will you be working? Relaxing?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Let's Talk About Income

Dave Ramsey says our most powerful wealth-building tool is our income.  My opinion is that my most powerful wealth building tool is my ability to connect with others, because to me - relationships are what make a rich life.  But, I understand that financially, income matters. 

Mothers all know that time is precious and that each moment spent earning a dollar is usually a moment spent away from our little ones.  So it behooves us to maximize our income during the hours we choose to work.  I describe my current work schedule as having "Mommy Hours," and I feel incredibly lucky to have some flexibility.  I get paid hourly, but get to be home after school.

When paid hourly, every time you are unable to work, you are losing income.  Sick days (for me or my children), field trips, vacations, etc. mean less income.  Because such circumstances are simply part of life, I have to plan to miss at least the equivalent of one day each month.  One year, we had a whole week of snow days!  That cut my income by almost 30% that February.  When this happens, just give yourself grace and accept that it will take a little while to catch up.  Whether you pull from an emergency fund or rely on credit, do what you must to keep the lights on, the children fed and the house payment up to date.

In my pre-child days, I earned a healthy salary.  I enjoyed the predictable income and measureable increases.  Today, as an hourly employee, I notice the variables in the workdays each month, sick days and other unpredictable events that affect my paycheck.  At first, I would become fearful and panic when I was missing the chance to work so I had to adjust my expectations: I won't be able to work every hour available.  I purposefully budget assuming there will be missed time each month and then enjoy the 'extra' if it turns out that I'm able to be present the whole time. 

It just another way that you can eliminate stress by allowing yourself to be less than perfect. 

On the other hand, getting paid hourly might mean that you have the freedom to accept a second part time job, free lance work, temporary hire, etc.  Flexible schedules and applicable skills will let you fill in gaps when times demand. 

Maximize your earning potential but give yourself the freedom to live the real life you desire.  Saying yes to more work means saying no to time with your children.  Finding the balance that works for you is crucial.

Do you have any tips for maximizing earning potential?  Does your income vary monthly?  What do you do to prepare for sick days?  I'd love to hear how others survive.

How I learned about money.

Zero Dollar Budgeting.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Disturbing Update...

I regret to admit the mouse has not left building.  I truly thought one of my children was eating chips in the kitchen last night and was horrified to learn the mouse discovered the sour cream & chive Lays!  This is awful!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mousketeering is Not For Me

I have an immense love for clear countertops.  Last week I randomly decided that the paper towel holder didn't really need to sit on TOP of the counter, and I placed it under the sink - easily within reach if needed but making more clear space.  Yay!

Stay Outside Little Mice!
The next morning, I was horrified to see that a critter had shredded much of that paper towel roll and it revealed that there was a mouse in the house.  Horror!  Years ago, in another state, I had a mouse problem...but they never ventured out of the attic.  So I haven't had to deal with this issue on my own.

I handled it the most mature way by donning latex gloves, tossing the (almost new) roll of paper towels, cleaning the under sink area, closing the cabinet doors and pretending I never saw what I knew was true.  Denial.  It haunts me.  I walked away from that cabinet and didn't intend to return.

Two days later, I heard a bit of rustle in a baggie of leftover cereal on the countertop.  That's right, there was something making a sound on the countertop which was no longer clear and clean, but cluttered with school papers and leftovers.  I heard it, but I didn't have time to investigate just then.  Books, bedtime, snuggles and nightlights were calling.  Later, as I was finally getting to the daily clearing of those counters...I was once again confronted with undeniable evidence that there was a mouse in the house.  And she had made several deposits on my unclear counter.  My kitchen counter!

I just knew she was stalking me at night.  She had probably used the shredding of my paper towels to line her nest which was now brimming with eager micelings ready to infiltrate every closet, cabinet, cubby and corner of our house.  I didn't sleep well and the next morning my first second stop was at Target where I purchased Tomcat bricks.  I put out the poison.  Lots of it, all around the kitchen cabinets, counters and floor. 

The children go to their father and I will abandon the kitchen for several days. Mr. Wonderful suggested live traps...I was not amused. 

Update: It took several days, but there has been no mouse sighting in exactly two days.  I no longer hesitate as I open the cabinet doors and I am not afraid to cook in the kitchen.  I'm sorry little mouse mama, my nest is for me and mine - You can build elsewhere!