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Old hobby revisited

April 25th, 2016 at 06:04 pm

The girls and I spent this weekend at home, just relaxing. We walked to a local park to get some sunshine and extra steps, it felt great to be outdoors.

This weekend my youngest was asking to see the baby books. Shamefully, her book stopped at like 18 months! That is right around the time when our photos started going digital. I vow to get the scrapbook updated! I plan to take some step towards updating the scrapbooks every week. Yesterday I went through vacay pictures on my laptop for 2013 and 2014. I submitted my order to Walgreens online, and with a coupon, I was able to get at least 20 photos for $5. I gave the pictures to my daughter. Next weekend we will go to Michaels and pick out some themed paper and/or stickers so we can complete the pages for her book. Besides, scrapbooking can be very relaxing, and helps you keep your mind in the moment .

Calculating my short-term savings, I have enough to pay cash for one course this summer. However I still have several weeks before tuition is duie in full, so I can still round up enough cash to pay for my courses. I want to be finished with these puppies!

Fun weekend

April 17th, 2016 at 05:19 pm

We were blessed with some beautiful weather this weekend so I made sure we got out to enjoy it. On Saturday we went to a local state park with the dog and went on one of their wilderness trails. I loved the different elevations and peeks of water in the form of little streams and waterfalls. It was good for my brain to take in the different scenery.

Today I took my youngest to Georgetown Cupcake, from the TLC show. It was our first time there. We had to wait in a short line outside of the shop, so I'm glad we picked a nice day for it. This little trip cost $27 for a half dozen fancy cupcakes and some coffee drinks. Plus $11 for parking. Sigh. Still, we enjoyed it, and it was pretty much a "try it and done" sort of thing. I can't afford to go back just for the fun of it! In case you are wondering we enjoyed the cupcakes, and my daughter got a kick out of being there.

I let my oldest daughter sleep in since she got home late from her school trip to Nashville, she had a wonderful time. In the afternoon the kids and I went to the gym (yes, after eating cupcakes!), and then came back home to take the dog on a sunny walk. A nice day overall.

We all have a regular week ahead of us, with school and a few appointments afterschool here and there. I have an interview with an company Thursday for part-time summer employment, related to my post grad program. This could lead to a great job opportunity when I become board certified. It's nice to have options...

Time to catch up on everyone's blogs, have a great week!

April snapshot

April 7th, 2016 at 05:30 pm

I've reconciled my accounts for April thus far, and updated my sidebars. I'm finishing up my final two classes this summer. The courses are accelerated and I will be on summer vacation so I will have more time for the classwork. I will be working some, but only part time. Right now I'm saving up to cover the tuition that is due in mid-May, I don't want to take it out of my longer-term savings. I am looking forward to a time when I'm not cash-flowing tuition. Almost there!

Next week my oldest daughter heads out on her spring trip for her choral group to Nashville. I'm so excited for them, it should be an amazing time! She has some money set aside for spending, as I made the trip payments, with her help with some fundraising.

After classes are done I'm going to take a closer look at my income/savings/living expenses since I won't have to factor in tuition expenses. For the next year or so the living expenses are pretty much fixed (give or take little tweaks here and there). After my eldest graduates I will have more options on where I work and live.

Overall, I can't complain. My children are happy here and doing well in school. I have a job I love where I am making a difference in some lives. I like the people I spend time with daily. I'll figure the other stuff out as time goes on.

I'll try to get on with a more exciting update soon!

Finally time for a monthly update

March 18th, 2016 at 09:22 pm

Where the heck has March gone?! I made it to Spring Break, so now I can catch up on my blog, housework, schoolwork, etc. And of course enjoy vacation next week!

The $300 bonus was deposited into my Bank of America checking account this week, this bonus was an incentive to open an account. This money will go towards my last few classes.

This week I also received a $75 gift card to Amazon. This was an incentive for joining our teachers' union. I join yearly anyway, so this was a nice bonus. I will probably use this gift card on presents.

I bumped up my monthly "longer term" savings an extra $100/month. I figured I would increase it now because I can, I can always drop it later on if I need to. This will just get me closer to my goals.

Tomorrow we will head to the mall. The kids have gift cards to use on Spring clothes for the trip. After shopping I will get cheesecake for everyone at the Cheesecake Factory because I have a gift card.

This week I will also finish updating my resume. I will not be "board eligible" until December, but I want to start networking now. I will be attending an annual convention next month and that will be a great place to meet potential employers.

I think that's it for the finance updates, I hope everyone on the board is doing well!

February wrap-up

February 29th, 2016 at 05:27 pm

This month flew by, I did not have much time to spend on blog updates. Low-spend February: I still have my rainy day funds and I kept the money in savings as well. Though to be honest, this was because I received a tax refund and so used a bit of that for spending!
So I don't have a truly accurate savings amount for the month.

March budget is all set up. I have to be extra careful with it because the girls and I will be going away for 4 glorious days during Spring Break! The more I save now, the more we'll have for our vacation.

In the meantime, we have school keeping us busy. My oldest is starting to get interested in her college plans, so it's fun to talk about with her finally. For a while there she did not want to talk about life after high school at all!

Low spend and career update

February 7th, 2016 at 07:33 am

I'm one week into my low-spend month, and I haven't dipped into Rainy Day funds to pay any expenses that have popped up. I'm building up my Rainy Day fund by covering those expenses from my "spending" category this month.

Already my additional schooling is paying off. I've been approached by admin to take over a specialist's position in the building during her maternity leave! They are very confident I can do the job, more confident than I am at this point! In fact, they confided that the specialist is choosing not to return to that position next year and they would like me to consider taking the position permanently.

I take it as a huge compliment that they want me for this position. I will accept it for the remainder of this year, but not make any decisions for next year just yet. It will be excellent experience for me as I will be eligible to sit for the board in December and the more experience I have in the field, the better. Once I pass the board, though, and finish that school year I will most likely not return to teaching. As much as I love teaching, I can make a lot more money outside of public school once I become board certified.

Ready for February low-spend

January 31st, 2016 at 05:55 pm

My budget is all set up for February, and all of the money has been transferred to the appropriate accounts. I set my budget slightly lower than we typically use for the month. So not only will I save a little extra this month from shaving a bit off of the expenses budget, but I should also be able to keep the rest of my money in the rainy day categories to build.

Yesterday my kids and I met up with a group of friends at a nearby ski resort. I had a good time with everyone and it was a nice afternoon with the kids. The money was already set aside for that trip, always a nice feeling.

Today I spent extra time in the kitchen, prepping things for the week and making lunches for tomorrow. It got warm out today so the snow continues to melt. We return to school tomorrow, with a 2 hour delay so that the sun is up when the kids are walking and waiting for the bus. Many of the walking paths and bus stops are still obstructed, so students may end up walking on the streets to get to school or to wait for the buses. I didn't realize that our district has 40,000 walkers, that is a lot of students to look out for!

This week I will be busy getting my head back into "work space". I will also be completing my last week of one of my mandatory education courses. I plan to do my taxes as well,realistically probably not until the weekend.

12 days total home from school

January 29th, 2016 at 07:10 am

Including the weekends, by the time we return to classes Monday we will have been off from school due to the blizzard for 12 DAYS. If only I could have predicted the future, I could have found something really amazing to do for 12 days! As it turns out, I got ahead on my courses, worked out, took naps, got my house completely unpacked, and played in the snow, cooked, and hung out with my kids. I was bored at times but felt that when I kept up a routine of some sorts I was able to get a lot done. I will have lots and lots of paperwork to keep me busy when I return to the classroom, I didn't have my work computer home with me because I wasn't expecting to be off school that first day.

I got paid today, now I am just organizing the budget, quite the feat when you get paid just once a month, and the money gets split into 3 accounts. I did it that way to take advantage of the BOA offer for $300 to open a checking account. In a couple more months I will close one of the accounts and make my money more streamlined again.

Thrift-o-Rama (if I am saying that correctly!) mentioned a low-spend February on her blog. I like the idea of a set amount of cash for the spending for the month. I sort of do that now, with my Ynab budget, but I think I need to be more diligent on this, since I keep running out of cash in those accounts and pulling from my rainy day funds. If I can stick to a low-spend February (a short month, too!) then that will give me a bit of breathing room to "catch up" my rainy day fund.

I have a snow tubing trip to attend with the kids tomorrow, I'm pretty excited about it, I've never been. I have never been one to play in the snow (I like warm weather!), but this year I discovered snow pants. The kids have always had them for when they went skiing with their dad, but I never bothered. Snow pants, a good scarf and gloves really do keep you dry and warm, so you can stay outside a lot longer. Duh.

Snow Day #5, meal planning

January 27th, 2016 at 05:04 am

Once the sidewalks and bus stops get cleared the kids will be back in school. Our school district is huge so there is a lot of area that needs to be cleared for safety.

Yesterday I created a table of 30 meals that we typically make and laminated it. Out of these meals I create a weekly menu, and then jot down the grocery list next to the menu. After I choose the meal I cross it off the table for the month. The meals look kind of boring, now that I see it on paper, but it is what it is. I am realistic enough to admit that I am not going to be fixing hard core meals during the week. If it has protein and a veggie I am good. The kids both are able to cook, too, so once a week they are responsible for prepping dinner.

I am starting a running list of other meals that we decide we like, and I will add them to the table. This will hopefully make weekly menu creation simpler.

Today I will be picking up groceries for the week so I will find out if this system works...

Snow Day #4

January 26th, 2016 at 02:28 am

I have shoveled all there is to shovel. Well, there are the sidewalks on the corner of the neighborhood. But the sidewalks are untouchable right now because the plow trucks shove the snow onto the curbs and sidewalks, creating actual mountains. When there is somewhere for all of that snow to go then I can help clear the sidewalks.

I broke down 5 small boxes of "keepsake/hold onto" stuff that was in my closet. I threw some of the stuff out after deciding it wasn't worth holding onto, and some of the stuff I combined with other things. I have a much roomier closet now.

Today I will venture out to the nearby area. My gym is now open and is only 2 minutes away. It will give me a feel for what the roads are looking like.

I have avoided thinking about a "5 year plan" because things were so up in the air, but really, I need to be working towards "something". Otherwise I will continue to feel like a ping pong ball, just going wherever. So in addition to the organizing, exercising, and homework, I have been drafting ideas in my head, about what is important for my family and me.

No leaving the house, no eating out :)

January 23rd, 2016 at 08:52 am

One plus of being snowed in is that I cannot be tempted to eat out instead of eat what is in my kitchen. Eating out has always been a temptation for me, I'm kind of lazy!

I don't know how much snow has fallen so far (taking a break from local news today), but it is a lot. I am safely tucked in my home with my family, with plenty to eat, and electricity. I have been cleaning, cooking, doing homework, and, starting this morning, shoveling. I just had to shovel the front of my garage and front door. It is still snowing but I figured I would shovel throughout the day so it does not turn into one big ice pile. The kids have to do the next round!

I will go over my budget in a bit, and try to update some of by goals.

The Nicotine analysis

January 22nd, 2016 at 07:16 am

Looking at my brainstorm PIC/NIC analysis on the behavior of chewing tobacco vs. drinking water, you can see that the negatives of chewing tobacco far outweigh the one positive: relief from the nicotine craving. This means that the relief from the nicotine craving must be very powerful, instantly gratifying, and certain. That is why it seems so tough to beat an addiction. You have all of those negative consequences under chewing, but that one positive consequence trumps the negatives. Notice under “certain/uncertain”, the health consequences are “uncertain”. This is because you personally may not have a behavior history in which a health consequence has occurred. You may have a 99% chance of developing mouth cancer, but it is not “certain” because you do not have a behavior history to vouch for this.

On the other end, drinking water instead of chewing has lots of positive consequences, but you do have one powerful negative “feeling” consequence. The one negative is that waiting out a craving is very uncomfortable, may not happen instantly, and therefore is uncertain (meaning, you don’t have a strong history of obtaining nicotine relief from drinking water). You probably will overcome the craving, but that experience isn’t built up yet, so that relief isn’t considered “certain”, unlike chewing tobacco, which has always been “certain” to bring you nicotine relief.

If you just don’t chew, quit cold turkey, then you will get all of the benefits of quitting, eventually, but that also goes against a long history of reinforcement from chewing, which is why it is so tough.

In this situation one can look at the table and acknowledge that yes, the cravings are strong, but if you consistently choose an alternative behavior then the chewing behavior will become weaker as the new behavior becomes stronger. Focus on the new replacement behavior, and make that as rewarding as possible. Bob’s been successful with nicotine gum because the craving is relieved fairly quickly, unlike drinking water in my example. The longer he has success with nicotine gum, the weaker the chewing tobacco behavior will become. OR, you can focus on the antecedent, or what happens before the behavior. You can arrange the environment in ways that will make chewing tobacco less rewarding: avoid typical chewing places (for instance the garage?), a different setting with friends for a while… OR, you can focus on the consequences to make them stronger, more immediate, and certain. Someone suggested finding a use for the saved money, and that is a great way to increase the immediacy of the consequence. Start seeing that money right away, consistently, and that consequence will become more reinforcing.

Thanks for hearing me out, guys. I was really inspired by Bob’s quitting experience and found this material connected for me. It’s all about overcoming the immediate gratification, but so often the “right” thing to do feels like the “wrong” thing, which is why we often fall back to old behaviors of overeating, slacking off, or spending money. But we are smarter than that! 

Forming better habits, or behaviors

January 21st, 2016 at 05:28 pm

I read Bob's blog, where he mentioned that he was quitting tobacco and I was inspired to share some information that I learned about in one of my classes. You all may not know this about me because I try to keep some information vague online, but I am a huge behavior nerd. (That's a clue for my post grad program!).

In the field of behavior analysis, under the subfield of organization behavior management, PIC/NIC Analysis was developed to help analyze behavior consequences in order to help figure out why people do what they do, even if they know better. P/N (positive/negative consequences), I/F (immediate/future consequences aka delay of gratification), and C/U (certainty/uncertainty of receiving consequences). Basically, people will behave more consistently when consequences are PIC/NIC because in the past that behavior resulted in consequences more quickly. An example I found was regarding recycling. We all know it is important to recycle/reuse bags, and we know how bad plastic bags are for the environment. So why do people still choose to use plastic bags over reusable bags? Take a look below, if I can attach the picture correctly!

Heward,W. and Kimball,J. (2013). Sustaining Sustainability with Clueless Contingencies. Sustain, 28, 4-15.

Basically, doing the right thing feels more like work, and the consequences for doing the right thing (getting your reusable bags from the car), are far in the future. People naturally gravitate towards what behavior has given them a desired consequence immediately versus a consequence that "may" happen in the future.

Anyway, I thought that this analysis was interesting because I can place any of my unhelpful behaviors into the chart and acknowledge why I am making the choices that I make. Then I can decide for myself if the behavior is worth changing, even if I have to possibly delay gratification. I can also determine how to rearrange my environment and consequences in order to make the desired behavior either easier to achieve or more rewarding.

I can totally see how this analysis is useful in dieting and in staying within a budget!

The cold weather has found us

January 19th, 2016 at 06:26 pm

After enjoying an unseasonably mild November and December, the weather turned frigid yesterday. And windy. Oh well, weather is something I can't really complain about, as I can't do anything about it except move, and that's on me! I did appreciate every day of mild temps that we had, though.

I'm really enjoying the new place. It is much smaller than our previous house, but still roomy enough for the family. I love my master bedroom. It is so cozy! And I really love the kids' floor, with their loft area. We watched a movie there the other night, all snuggled up on their bean bag chairs.

The downside to the house is the temperature. During the day I set the house temperature to 71-72. The 2nd floor is very comfortable, and the 3rd floor is almost toasty. But the first floor is chilly. We are ground level, with no crawl space or basement or anything, so it makes sense that the first level is the coldest. Any suggestions on leveling out the heat in the house? I'm sure in the summer I will have the same issue with uneven A/C temps as well. So far I have closed off a few vents on the 3rd floor. I used a space heater downstairs on the weekend while I was down there working but I don't want to use it with the kids, I'm afraid it will get forgotten.

The move is complete!

January 17th, 2016 at 05:16 am

Fortunately the move went off without a hitch. It was actually the best move experience I've had yet. One move that I remember not fondly was the one that I had to manage by myself bc my then husband was still overseas. One of the movers was trying to flirt with me the entire day, and gave me his phone number when he left, very creepy. I was scared to go to sleep that night. Another move I had to listen to the movers whine and complain because I had "too much stuff". Yeah, that is why I was paying movers to move it.

I found that these movers were quick and professional, and the final payment was fair and close to the estimate. I will write them a good review for sure. The truck was unpacked by the time the kids arrived home from school.

The first night in her room was pretty overwhelming for my oldest daughter. She has ADD and the sight of all of those boxes to unpack, she just didn't know where to start. I helped her get started, though, and now her room is looking more like her room.

Today I will be able to cook meals and try to get back to normal: cooking, laundry, studying, the gym. DW has been here for the move, helping to unpack. Organizing and getting stuff done is a strong point of hers, and it comes in handy when moving. The tension between us has dissipated so we can get stuff done. I still don't know what I want for us in the future, so the space and time alone will be helpful for me, for us both.

Monday funday...sure

January 11th, 2016 at 01:40 pm

Work went smoothly today. I wasn't feeling super great emotionally, but it was good for me to be around my friends and focus on the students.

It feels like I have had a tension headache since, well, December. I know it is because of my situation, and that will be remedied soon enough. I've never had headaches that actually made my scalp hurt, so this is new for me. It's the same sensation/pain you feel when your hair gets pulled. Not a good feeling.

SO moved into her place today. The kids and I move Friday. The house is very quiet, but that's ok. I'll get used to it. It's just going to take time to adjust to the different living situation. I have to face the pain in order to move beyond it. Avoiding the pain has just dragged it out.

Financially, all deposits and things have been paid, so all I have to do is pick up the key Thursday. I have budgeted the new household expenses and I won't have to lower any of my retirement savings, at least not yet. The kids can continue their extracurricular activities and school trips, and we can even manage a small vacation during Spring Break. So it could have been much worse. We are ok. I am taking good care of my kids.

I will remember my affirmation: My needs are always met and my income is abundant.

January Life Updates

January 9th, 2016 at 03:00 am

We got to check out the condo yesterday for the walkthrough inspection. The kids picked out their rooms. It's not as big of a place as we have had in the past, but I think they will like it. I love the set up. The kid bedrooms are on the third floor, with a little loft area outside of their rooms, and a bathroom, so it is like their own space. My bedroom is on the second floor right under them, with a bathroom and laundry closet as well. The first floor houses the garage, kitchen, living/dining, and powder room.

I'm excited about what the changes will bring. The last few years have been so crappy emotionally, I'm ready for a new focus. I want to focus on spending time with my girls, finishing up my education, and staying on track with my goals. I want to get back to what I value.

I think that SO checked out emotionally soon after the official marriage, so she was just into herself. I was so focused on making things better, on "fixing" things, that it just made things worse. Now that I'm admitting it is time to let things go, I feel lighter.

The only lingering question is, what's next? SO wants to act like we are still married, just living separately, and she'll spend weekends hanging out with us and stop in during the week when I have class to help with the girls. That sounds dandy. It may be the ideal solution, so your significant other doesn't drive you crazy over the years. But in reality, I'm hurt. I'm hurt that we couldn't work things out while we were together, but she is all about doing this part-time.

By seeing how she reacted soon after we made our marriage official, and how she just focused on herself and disengaged from the family, I don't feel like "dating" her right now.

Welcome 2016!

January 2nd, 2016 at 05:42 am

I ended up having a fabulous New Years Eve. I went to a party hosted by a woman I met through a hiking group. There were several other members there that I knew from participation in some of the events, so I felt comfortable enough. I met a lot of other people there, who were all out just enjoying the night together. It was just what I needed.

So my new year started on a positive note. Changes are ahead, but it is okay. I am learning something from all of this.

Yesterday I took the girls to the mall so they could do some shopping with their gift cards. (It still warms my heart to watch them go off together. I'm glad that they are sisters, I always wanted a sister!). While they shopped together I did some browsing of my own. I didn't need to buy anything and didn't find anything I wanted badly, so I focused on getting in my steps.

Last night I researched my diet needs. My jeans are getting tight again, but I can probably attribute that to holiday drinking. I have my target calorie range, and my target protein/fat/carb ratios. It is higher than it has been in the past, so maybe I can actually stay under the max calories. Now I just need to be diligent about tracking everything. No way around that until I naturally start to stay in that range with my food choices.

Today I plan to get ahead on some homework, do a bit more packing, and work out.

Final few days

December 30th, 2015 at 03:15 am

Since we are downsizing in order to stay in the same neighborhood, we went ahead and sold a bunch of stuff on Craigslist. A sectional ($350), Ikea chair ($50), spare fridge ($100), bed ($80), and Ikea kitchen island and chair ($300). Looks like a bunch of spare furniture, but this house had a full basement and it was set up like a small apartment. The cash will go towards mover expenses. Friends have offered to help move, but honestly, I don't want to put anyone through that! Gone are the days of fold-up furniture, our stuff is heavy!

The kids and I will be leaving today to visit family a few hours away. We will be celebrating New Years with them since the kids wanted to stay home for Christmas. It will be a nice break from the obligations of the move.

I have worked out twice this week and hope to work out at least once more while out of town. It helps me stay sane! I am used to going to morning workout classes 4-5 time a week. I can't seem to wake up naturally to attend my 5 am class while I am on break!

I miss the routine of my work week. I have to admit that I am one of those people who do better with a routine. There, I said it. I like short vacations to break it up, but for the most part I operate better staying with the flow. I guess most people do.

I am looking forward to a fresh start in the new place. Not to mention lower utility bills, as the new place is smaller.

2016 goals and changes ahead

December 28th, 2015 at 04:31 am

I've finally had a free moment to sit down and think about the upcoming year.

First of all, the landlord will not be renewing our lease because she has received orders back to the area and will be moving back in her home. Ugh. We were notified this shortly after all of the Christmas decorations went up. We've done our best to keep things "normal" for the kids for the holidays, despite the fact that we have been spending all of our free moments packing, purging, and scouring the internet for appropriate rentals. It has not been a super exciting holiday season.

Secondly, DW and I will be getting separate places when we move. Things have been really tough the last couple years (coincidentally when we officially married), and we feel like we are just running in circles with each other. We love each other, but cannot seem to get along, even though we have been to counseling. Instead of repeating the same behavior over and over again, which is indeed making me crazy, we are going to physically separate. Start with a clean slate, and just go from there. We will be seeing a counselor during the time apart to help us navigate.

DW will be paying a large chunk of our rental, so I can still take care of everything I need to financially. I've found a place a few blocks away so the kids can still take the same bus, attend the same school, etc. I just want to take the focus off of my relationship problems for a bit and enjoy my family.

Financial goals are very simple this year, given the changes that have developed. I'll be satisfied with meeting those goals.

I've missed everyone! Rambler alert...

December 20th, 2015 at 05:56 am

I had to go back and catch up with everyone over the past few weeks. Seems like I've missed a bunch of changes, and I hate that. Birthdays, sad family news, and sweet times too. I don't "know" you all, but then again, I do!

I have finished my fall semester. The class was super intense, but I have learned so much from it. My practicum was also very challenging because my supervisor really pushed me. I had lots of programs to write, data to collect, and research articles to read. All to make me a better analyst. And of course I love this stuff, so it wasn't torture, just difficult getting myself started on the work. Plus she really wants me to work for her company, so that says a lot about her opinion of me.

The next semester has already started for me. I have 2 classes to take for maintaining my teaching credentials. That is separate from the post grad program. So when these 2 classes are finished I can go back to the certificate program and finish that up.

My personal relationship is still shaky, it needs a new foundation. I'm not ready to make any decisions there. I just wish I could go back to when things were great, I couldn't imagine any couple being more in love than us.

But that's life, right? We don't live in a vacuum, we impact one another, connections grow, some break, some get all tangled up. But we are all still held together, with a Oneness. I envision a busy little planet, all of our drama and stuff going on. All of the emotions involved. Death, birth, religion, change. But we are held together with a membrane, so now one falls out. I swear I am not drinking, I can't get the words out just right! If I was an artist I could draw the little planet with activity, and then draw the Spirit holding us all together. We are all in this together. We are not alone.

Enjoy the season, everyone!

December already

December 6th, 2015 at 04:36 am

We only have a few short weeks before winter break, unbelievable! I would be more excited but I have a lot of stuff due for my 2 classes that I have been working on. Once I turn everything in I can start getting excited!

I have been having a good time with the kid. My oldest had super grades this semester and, as promised, I let her get her hair dyed pink. The stylist is very skilled at coloring and she added purple hues to give the color some depth. I have to admit, it looks beautiful! If you can't have pink hair when you're 16, when can you do it?!

I treated the youngest to some Christmas nail art because she has been so responsible this school year as well and brought home fabulous grades as well.

Last night I continued with present wrapping. I can mail out the last of my out of town presents tomorrow.

My youngest created her own advent calendar using Pinterest for inspiration. Each night we pick a puffball that has an short activity attached to it. Last night the activity to was to pick names and surprise that person with a "gift" that you already owned. It was cute to see what the girls "picked out" for each other. The oldest gave the youngest half a pack of gum because she knew her sister loved that flavor. The youngest gave the oldest an earbud case that was missing the earbuds because she figured her sister could store her earbuds in it. I don't know why, but it was very heartwarming!

Within the next month or two I will need to throw all my extra cash onto the credit card. I used it for larger purchases, tuition, pink hair, etc. And stay on budget with the rest of my money. I've been doing a lot of "Whamming" to the Gift category in my YNAB budget! I keep finding little things!

Pushing onward

November 12th, 2015 at 06:01 pm

I just need a day or two to catch up with my life, that's all! I have a few projects for my coursework that can use some more attention, and I've found it is easier to work on those projects when I have larger chunks of time. A good weekend of homework time and I should be in a good spot.

I have been saving as much as I can to put myself in a better position for the future, but much of my extra cash has been diverted to school recently. I should only have a few part-time semesters left. When I complete this program I know that I can secure a position that will improve my financial picture. I just have to push forward with the plan.

In the meantime, I can always pick up part-time hours if it turns out that I need to bring in more money. I just don't want to unless I have to, because, well, I'm tired. My brain is tired from being "on" all day long. My body is tired from being on the move all day. When I get home to my own children it is refreshing to spend time with them. Of course, now that they are older they aren't too interested in spending time with me but at least we all enjoy a meal together and hang out a little before or after dinner. But the option to get more hours is there if it turns out I need them.

Nothing has been said out loud, but the writing is on the wall. I am trying to make smart choices for my kids and me.

My mom is back in the hospital, too, another infection. The doctors have this one under control, but I may be making another trip out there for Thanksgiving. I was planning on spending the long weekend at home, but we'll see.


November 6th, 2015 at 03:07 am

I called in sick yesterday, I got hit with some sort of bug the afternoon before. Fortunately I'm feeling much better this morning. I guess all the cells in my body had to duke it out with the germs and that's what left me so yucky feeling and tired, like I had been hit by a truck!

My budget is still intact for the month. It seems eating out may spill over, but if I could somehow contain those expenses I would be in great shape. Otherwise I have to take from other categories, which is fine, but I want to build those up.

I've been feeling rather drawn to the junk food lately and I don't want that to become a habit. It might be the time of the month that is increasing these junk food cravings, or perhaps just stress in general that makes the fat/sugar/salt combo so appealing these days.

I need to fix the junk food habit the same way that I started the a.m. work out habit. I set my alarm and when I woke up I functioned sort of like a robot- my body moved to get dressed, I washed my face, made a cup of coffee. I didn't explore the thoughts in my head that that were arguing with me to stay in bed, I could do it later, yadayada. When I got to the gym then my mind could start working but this time I was high-fiving my brain for doing what I needed to do!

The mind is interesting, and sometimes I just need to shut mine off so that the easier/ instant gratification behaviors don't overpower the more effortful/long term beneficial behaviors.

Lots of "to do's" got done today

November 3rd, 2015 at 06:44 pm

I was able to register for the mandatory class I need for my license. Now I just need to pay the bill, it is due by the end of December. It means I will delay the completion of my certificate program by a semester, but that's ok, since I need this course to stay employed next year.

I checked off a bunch of little homework assignments as well. I'm up to date on my class, now I just need to keep it all together!

Tonight for dinner we had leftovers. We don't end up cooking more than 3 or 4 times a week it seems, we are able to stretch our meals. Not only does that save money on food, it saves time. The kids usually don't say anything about leftovers, assuming they liked the meal the first time around.

I browsed some Christmas activities in the area to plan ahead for possible ticket purchases. I wanted to see A Christmas Carol in Ford Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated, but the kids were kind of lukewarm about it. When I asked if they wanted to do the Holiday Zoo Lights again, they both responded "yes". I'm fine with that. Tickets for the weekend performances started at like $70 each. Zoo Lights is FREE. We all had a great time there last year.

I'm mentally putting my relationship woes on the backburner, just for now. Ruminating does no one any good. We have an appointment to see a counselor next week, so we have agreed not to make any decisions without exploring that resource, and to just call a truce in the meantime.

I'm looking forward to a time when I'm not juggling so many balls in the air. I don't like so many deadlines and concerns, but I know that this busy time is only temporary, it won't be forever.

The budget, the Good and the Bad

November 3rd, 2015 at 03:37 am

The BUDGET: Yesterday I had car maintenance and registration renewal, when all was said and done I spent about $467. Half of that was already in the car maintenance category, the other half I pulled from other "rainy day funds". Not fun to see those categories dwindle down, but at least the money was there. And I have a well running vehicle with shiny new brakes! (I'm assuming they are shiny, it's not like I can see them or anything...)

Today I have to register and pay for two classes that I need to take in order to get my full endorsement in adapted curriculum. I had an endorsement in "general special ed" curriculum, but when I took this position I needed the other endorsement. I haven't gotten the final total for those two classes yet, I will know by the end of the day. I do get a discount on the classes because I'm currently teaching, but the county went away with tuition reimbursement a few years ago.

In the summer I can hop back into my certificate program, I'm very close to finishing.

The GOOD: My children are flourishing in school, thankfully. They got to spend the Halloween weekend hanging out with their dad and they had a super fun time. The girls have been getting along better with each other lately I've noticed. They are getting older, but every "kid stage" seems to have something special to enjoy as a parent!

The BAD: Things are kind of sucky on the relationship front. I'm a fixer by nature and historically I try to make relationships work, even when they have obviously hit the end. Maybe I was avoiding the shame of "failure", or possibly I was avoiding the pain of a breakup. But I have come to realize that not everything broken is meant to be fixed, I guess I can leave it at that. I suppose some of these life lessons I should have learned earlier, but I feel stronger now that I a finally learning.

Productive Monday

October 26th, 2015 at 04:06 pm

Today was pretty good. I made it to my early morning gym class, had a busy day at school, and then went to the gym with my kids after school. After dinner I checked off a few things on my homework "to do" list. Now I'm settling down to review the budget and clean out my email.
I mailed out a $6 rebate, and this afternoon I received a check for $6 from a rebate I sent out a few months ago! That will go in my local savings account emergency fund.
My November budget is laid out and ready to go, just waiting on my paycheck on the 30th. It looks like I may need to hold off on classes in the Spring. I need to take a course to maintain my teaching license instead. Besides, this will give me more time to save up for the tuition. Sigh, after I'm all done with my program it will be time for my daughter to start college!

Finally feels like Fall!

October 25th, 2015 at 04:34 am

(Not a budget related post, I'll deal with that later!) Many houses on this street have put out decorations and lights, it makes it fun to walk at night. We have done our part to decorate as well, my kids are old enough that they took care of the outside decorating and had a lot of fun doing it. We have also enjoyed making some fall goodies like pumpkin cake and caramel covered apples.

The weather has been beautiful lately, and the trees have turned colors. Activities in school have a festive theme to them, even though they are not directly related to Halloween. In my class, for example, I teach a unit on bones in October. One of my favorites!

I guess I'm just feeling grateful for these nicer moments in life. Things have been pretty heavy lately and I realized this weekend that there is still a lot of lightness out there, if that makes any sense at all.

October update

October 8th, 2015 at 03:35 am

Work is finally settling down, the workload is just now at a more manageable pace. My coursework is still current, I have been very careful to keep up with it, or else this house of cards will quickly tumble!

My own kids have been doing great in school thus far. I am so proud of them. School has always been a struggle for her, she has always resisted the work. But she has all A's right now! My youngest has all A's as well, and she has been keeping herself organized and on schedule very independently!

My savings is still on hold. All of the extra money goes in an account for tuition, which I empty when I pay for the next semester. I should be done with all of this over the summer. I'm excited about using that money on other things, like my savings!

I may put Spring semester on hold, it depends on how some life events pan out.

I will be visiting my mom this weekend with the kids. My mom had an extensive surgery, then developed a very serious infection and had to be admitted back into the hospital. So now she's in rehab... the nursing home kind! (The kids got a kick out of saying grandma's in rehab!) Weekends away usually mean more spending on eating out and fuel. I will just adjust the rest of my budget to account for that.

Cold or allergies?

September 21st, 2015 at 04:02 pm

The kids have been back just 2 weeks, and the stuffy nose has struck. It might be allergies, because it is that time of the year as well. Does anyone know how to tell the difference?

Over the weekend I mostly did homework and cooked a bit. I feel so much better now that I am all caught up with my classes. I think I will be devoting most of my weekends to homework from now on, but the feeling of being free during the week is priceless.

Of course, I had minimal spending with my "boring" weekend in the books. I picked up some snacks for my classroom from the dollar store and DW did our usual weekly grocery shopping.

I am eagerly awaiting payday. I only get paid once a month, 10 months a year. Plus I was an assistant last year so I took a big pay cut, this year I am back in my own classroom so I will have my regular salary.

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