Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thinking ....

I have this idea running around in my mind. It's sort of a crazy idea and it might not be entirely practical, but interestingly enough, my husband is supportive of this crazy idea. Which might actually be bad because it encourages me further. LOL!

I'd like to move. Move away from here - because, well I don't think living here sits well with me anymore. I mean, I do love living here because I have a lot of family around me and I do love my family. And I love being close to them. But I don't know - something about the suburbs is just feeling less and less comfortable to me. We don't have much land. My dh works his ass off, and actually brings in a decent pay check, but it doesn't go very far out here. We have been talking about him possibly getting a new job, and if he's going to get a new job, doesn't seem like a good time to completely uproot our family and move half-way across the country?

And I think I know where I would like to move, but I (and the kids) haven't spent much time there so before we decide to settle there, I want to have an extended visit out there. So I am honestly considering sometime next winter (November/Decemberish) to pack up the children and stay out there for about 6-8 weeks. This would all happen with the hopes that my husband could get time off of work and stay with us over Christmas/New Year.

Yes, it will be quite lonely without him there. The kids will either love it or hate it, or probably start out loving it and then grow to hate it. And it means I will be a single parent for that time, although we do know someone out there and I'm sure I can get a few breaks.

But it leaves me with questions ... where does one live when they only plan to be there for 6-8 weeks? I can't imagine the 4 of us staying in a hotel room, (plus wouldn't that be expensive)? But if rent a house/apartment, then there is the need to pay for 2 households and can we really afford that? I'll need to have the ability to cook - because we certainly can't afford (with money or our health) to eat out all the time? And how do I know what to bring with and what to not bring with? How many pieces of clothing, how many pots and pans, how many books, how many toys, how many movies, etc, etc. And the how the heck will I entertain myself and 2 kids for that time? Well, okay, that's part of the reason I want to do this - to find out about the area, to discover what is there (or not there) before we decide to make this sort of decision.

And these questions fill my mind. And although if we did do something like this
it would be 10-11 months away, I'm really assuming I can't just make arrangements a few days before I want to leave. But I just don't know where to start. I'm going to have really spend a while thinking about all of this and really deciding if in fact this is something I really want to do because when I see a plan on paper, it looks really hard. Of course, maybe it will end up being easy. And that would be a sign that it was all meant to be ... right?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Crazy or Adventurous?

Well, we are either crazy or adventurous! Earlier this week we booked train tickets going from Chicago to Boston - at which point we will then rent a car and drive to New Hampshire, spend the night, and head over to Maine!

For most of the trip, Little Man and I will be in a little sleeper room and hubby and girls have regular seats. I imagine though, aside from bribing getting him to sleep, that wild boy will be busy exploring the train and the sites that surround us. Or hopefully there will be some empty seats and we will be able to spend some time with the rest of the family during that first part of the trip.

I personally can NOT wait. I think it will be fun and exciting, albeit a bit stressful as well. We did ask the girls if they could pick, would they fly to vacation or take a train to vacation and both of them immediately said train! Now that those tickets are booked, I am getting more excited about this vacation!

I have to admit, at first, I was quite hesitant about it all ... I was really thinking we couldn't afford it (although, my in-laws are very graciously paying for our transportation out there and also for the cabin we will all share while we are there), that we really needed to stay home and that 2008 would be the year for extreme penny pinching to eliminate as much debt as possible. Not to mention in the next 13 months we have: 3 weddings to go to - 2 are out of town and 1 has both my daughters as flower girls (which also means 3 bridal showers), several baby showers, 3 or 4 graduation parties. And that's all we know about now. It's only January! And I feel like there will be a lot of travel and lots of money to spend. I also feel like I should be getting a job somewhere, but seriously, how can I get employment and expect to keep the job when I know that I will have to request so much time off? Ugh.
But I am starting to feel much better about it all. Of course dh's raise helps alleviate some of that worry. But there are still some worries there. And I will definitely be looking to get some work at some point this year, but I might have to be a bit more creative about it.
And of course, I was right about watching every penny we spend, but of course for about the first half the year it will be to fund traveling and then for the second half it will be for debt repayment. But I am feeling much better about how the year will play out. And I can't wait for all of these great things to happen now!

(would it be too nerdy to admit I am already starting packing lists and picking which knitting projects to bring on the train as well?!)

6 weird things ...

Smoov tagged me earlier to tell you 6 weird things about me. Although you might learn 6 things about me, I'm afraid what you'll really learn is how boring I am LOL!

"THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the "6 weird things about you." People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you are tagged" in their comments and tell them to read your blog."

1. I recently decided I want to live on and work a (very) small farm. Which is funny because my parents are farmers and growing up all I could think was I don't want to be a farmer LOL!

2. I hated school, until high school. Not much made sense before then and all of a sudden in 8th grade, things finally clicked. And now I love school. And I love learning things. I have a feeling I will be back at school again someday, but now isn't that time.

3. Mostly because of the above, I feel that academics really can be delayed until later in childhood - which is pretty contrary to what I see going on around me. But since I homeschool, I can do what I want with my kids and we are very relaxed with structure and formal education with them right now - they are young. They learn more through reading books they've picked from the library, playing games and using those pretend situations to "solve" things, and what not. More than one person has voiced concern about our path (but surprising a few people have actually agreed with it!)

4. ALL I wanted to be when I was growing up was a school teacher. Once I got my degree - all I didn't want to be was a teacher. (homeschooling doesn't count because I don't have a boss LOL). When I have to pick a career, I will be taking some time to explore more options and really wish I had done this while I was still in school some time. Oh well. Good thing we are allowed to go to college for more than one degree! LOL

5. I take everything very literally. Which means I'm easy to trick and often don't get sarcasm. My mom says I was like this even at a quite young age. Apparently, I haven't been able to outgrow it?

6. I hate going to parties/gatherings/etc and having to talk to people. Just hate it. And get very nervous about it, which usually means I spit out kind of stupid things. Ugh. Have I mentioned I hate it? Because I really hate it.

So there you go, 6 weird things about me ... but I'm not sure I'm not all that weird ... but maybe you'll think otherwise!
I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you read this and want to play, please do - and leave me a comment so I can come read it! =)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Not much to say ...

I am feeling really sick. The kind of really sick that makes you just want to rest and relax and not do anything at all.

So since I have nothing to say at all, you must click this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/
The library of congress is putting pictures up at flicker and I think it is SOO neat. There are some incredible photos there. I haven't looked at it much, but what I have seen is so awesome ... really, go look!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Answered Prayer!

Oh we got fabulous news tonight
My husband got a raise!! It's not a "end to all of our problems" kind of raise but it's a "yes, we can actually breath again and not have to worry how we will pay it all because now we can and there will be a tiny bit actually left over" kind of raise.
We weren't even expecting it - and certainly not today. He called to tell me that he was late because he had his review. My heart lept. And he said "Can't talk now, see you when you get home" because, well he was calling from work.
Between the time of that call I just prayed, please be 20 dollars a week, please be 20 dollars a week (his company is hurting a bit right now so ANY raise is a blessing and I didn't want to aim too high here folks). But yes, it is even a bit more than $20.00 a week!
I am so excited.

The cost of our insurance rates increased this year, so his first paycheck of the year was actually less than the last one of 07. That was depressing. His raise will take us back to the original pay, plus some.

Ugh. I am SO happy about this.

Of course, I still don't think he is being paid what he deserves - but I'm not sure I will ever think they are paying him what he deserves LOL! ;-)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Checking in!

I am here. I am alive.

I have had an interesting month to say the least. I think I began the month depressed, feeling very much like doing absolutely nothing. I am doing much better right now. And it feels good to be out of that period. But I admit, I also feel like I need to cut back, do fewer things (but do those few things better than I have been). I like to do a million things, but I believe part of what happened was I had TOO much to do, too many places to be, just too much on my plate.

  • I closed my etsy store (maybe temporarily but maybe forever)
  • I limited activities and places to go to with the kids (this is definitely temporary but I needed to do this)
  • I have bowed out of some internet groups and similar on-line things I had participated in.
  • I have realized my family does not need 5 star dinners each night (which I've never been good at but I always plan these grand meals and then feel guilty when they don't happen. I plan simple, easy, but mostly healthy meals. I can do that without feeling like I'm rushing or being pulled in too many directions or getting frustrated if it doesn't happen. It's easy to substitute spaghetti for another simple meal that didn't happen that day.

I think this will be good for me.

I am trying to focus on:
  • keeping the house clean (I've never been good at it, but not I have time to focus on it!)
  • the children's schooling (which got a little lost with the holiday rush)
  • budgeting and saving money (because well, this year will be EXTREMELY tight financially. Every cent I can save is a HUGE help to the family)
  • learning to enjoy life more. I am too anxious. I need to relax. I need to unwind. I need to laugh more and enjoy more. I need to focus on the good and not only the bad.
  • being healthy

And so, those are my goals for a while. And those will be where my focus is for a while. I truly hope I can get a better handle on all of this - I don't want to be perfect. In fact, I already know I won't be perfect, but I want to be better.

So far in this new year I have almost completely cut out sugar from my diet. I am truly proud of myself because of this. Beyond proud. I won't tell you how I lived before January 1 - but it includes multiple cans of soda, lots of cookies, candy, snacks, and other crap. Aside from a few slips (which truly have been IMO minor) I have had no sugar each day - aside from one can of coke. Okay, so maybe not the best, but it's my favorite and I figured if I gave up everything I would be dooming myself to fail. But I am serious about this - I haven't eaten bread. Well actually I have given up wheat, dairy, gluten, peanuts, and all fruit. (mostly I am having yeast issues and I needed to cut ALL sugar, even those from healthy sources). This is interesting. I am essentially on the same diet as my 5 year old so I can really see things from her perspective. It's not that bad, although sometimes the cravings are SOOO bad! Although she does get fruit and I don't limit the sugar because most things that are safe for her have very little in them anyway and she's already given up soo much food.
I have been doing this for 7 days now. I still get a bit of craving, but they have tapered way off. I will not lie - the first night I woke up at about 4 am with one fo the worst headaches ever and my first thought was to get a can of coke, a cookie, some cake and then eat candy! My body did not appreciate the withdrawal like that.
I do not plan to stay on this diet forever. I believe in February I will start to bring back the wheat and dairy and sugar (it's in most breads people!) but I hope that I will have reset my palate enough to trust myself to eat it in moderation and get my sugar from my fruits and non-junk food items. We'll see how the yeast stuff is going though, because I can't bring it back until that is going better.

I have also started a gratitude journal (on paper with a real pen). I think this is good. My goal is to write just one thing each day that I am grateful for. Nothing fancy, just simple and nice and easy. Right now I am trying to take the "bad" parts and turn them into something to be grateful about. An example - Friday my husband had to work late. I was quite unhappy about it. But on Friday I wrote “Today I am grateful for my husband’s job – even though he is coming home late tonight – it is his job that pays our bills, houses us, clothes us, and feeds us. And we are lucky to that we do not have to worry about unemployment at this time”
I think this will be good for me. It will force me to think positively, if only for the five minutes I spend writing in it.

I believe I am starting 2008 off on a good foot. I hope I can keep this good footing for the entire year. I am still scared to death about how we will afford to survive this year (of course it doesn't help we are taking a vacation in July even though we technically shouldn't - but it's too see family. Important family and since tomorrow is promised to no one, we are getting really good at justifying the expense even though I still have no freaking clue how in the heck we will pay for it.) But I also think it is the right thing to take this trip and I am hoping something will happen.

Maybe my husband will actually get the raise I think he is due soon. Maybe his company will do so well this quarter that there will be a bonus. Maybe I will get another part-time job. Maybe I will get so good at saving money on groceries I can cut out grocery budget in half (so far this week I have cut it 75%!) and we can save money that way. Maybe we will get a tax return that we can stick into savings and label it vacation. Maybe my husband can sell his side business! Maybe winter will end early and we won't be paying a high as bill for as many months as we should. Lots of maybes are still floating out there. Lots of options to help cut spending (although just a little bit in a lot of categories, but it still all helps!). And I would like to think that at least a few of them will manage to happen to help us out. And I am trying to remain optimistic in this sense. And who really knows ... even the time to vacation (7 months!) so much can happen! And between now and December - again, so much can happen! We are not anywhere near where we were 12 months ago. We are in completely different spot than we were 6 months ago! So I try to remain hopeful about it all.

I'd like to think that as strongly as I feel taking this trip is the right thing to do, that something will happen to help us pay for it. Of course, I'm not sitting back waiting for money to fall from the sky, but you know, I just think that it will all come together in the end, so I am trying to not worry about it too much. Of course January is hard because the insurance deductibles reset, it's been cold so the gas bill will be high, gas prices have gone up, and all that jazz. My only comfort is that we did not overspend Christmas. We stayed within our budget. And when the credit card bill came in (with the holiday spending on it) we paid it without flinching. We simply have to transfer the Christmas funds from the savings account to the checking account. We also have been saving every month for car insurance and life insurance - both due this month. And again, it felt SO good to not have to worry about them. To just pay the bill and transfer the money over from savings.

For having the foresight to do that brings me so much joy (and we've never done that before, but the Financial Peace classes we took, talked about this very thing and I'm so glad we got it). This has to be one of the first times we haven't had to scramble to pay these yearly/twice yearly bills. That feels so incredibly wonderful to me.

Anyway, I have rambled so much tonight. I apologize for that, but there was so much on my mind, so much to share, so much to talk about it to get in this blog!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

a new year

Well a new year is coming - and very soon!
I am having a difficult time deciding if I am excited or very nervous about this. I believe the next year will bring a lot of new things in our life. I am honestly not looking forward to many of these changes. I want to be happy about all of these changes. I want to view them as exciting new adventures. I am trying. I hope that I can feel this way and soon.
we'll see what the future holds though!

For now, I wish everyone a healthy and happy 2008!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I hope that each and everyone one of you are having a fabulous Christmas time with your family/friends/loved ones =)

Enjoy this wonderful time of year!

And ... of course, I wish you a grand 2008! That it is a year filled with much happiness, good health and lots of fun times! =)