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Archive for September, 2016

September Savings

September 30th, 2016 at 04:18 pm

Received $40 bank interest for the month of September.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $41 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $6 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$6 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash
+$ 900 to IRAs

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
-220 school expenses
-188 Medical Expenses
-110 Large Purchase**
-90 Dentist
-40 Took kids/friends to fancy pool

**MM was going to reimburse us partially for a shared electronic purchase. I think we just forgot in the chaos. I'll check with MH on this.

Edit to add: MM reimbursed us $55 for large purchase

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July Flashback:

In August we really need to get moving on some home improvements. I know I am procrastinating because I don't wanna. *sigh*

August Flashback:

No movement on this. I can't imagine readying for contractors in my current state. Though we have lost MH's free summer time to deal with this, work is really slow for me this time of year and I can handle it. I need to at least start getting some quotes in September.

September Update:

No progress on this front because life is chaos right now. I don't see how/when until things settle down a bit.

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MH is back at work. He got a nice raise but is working less hours. It almost evens out, though making a little bit less.

For this month I am just putting his paychecks (3 weeks) towards replenishing our checkbook for vacation expenditures & gymnastic spending.

Next month he will put his 401k back to 50%. He's pre-ordered a VR system, which will take all of his income in October. November income will pay for the hotel on my birthday. I guess that except for the 50% 401k thing, we are just splurging his income most the rest of the year. (We have cash for these things, but we are also working on saving up for some big expenditures, so it will be nice to just cash flow our big splurges).

Until I typed this out, I thought we had maybe gotten used to the extra cash flow and were over-spending a bit. In the end, I was $750 short in the checkbook, after MH being off work for 3 months, which is easily explained by $250 vacation overage plus about $500 of gymnastic spending. Now I just feel silly. We have enough float in the checkbook so I was just kind of muddling through in the interim. I had forgotten that I hadn't otherwise planned for the gymnastic expenses.

I was expecting that MH's income would cover the kids' extra-curriculars. In the past we've covered with other windfalls or they just haven't been significant expenses. I can't say they were a big financial priority. But now we are in a better place to afford this type stuff. I think a lot of it will be moot given the kids' school changes for this year and next. So any bigger expenses will probably be rather temporary. For the next calendar year I can plan ahead better.

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Overall, I'd say that this month was chaotic. Probably too much stress spending.

More fun spending is planned for October. MH and I are going to Tahoe this weekend, and next week we are taking the kids to Monterey. (Instead of the usual big October break that we usually take advantage off, the kids have only one day off together. {Which is why we moved our DC trip up to June}. Though technically MM is skipping his math class so that we can go to Monterey during the week).

Planning Something Fun

September 18th, 2016 at 10:34 pm

I hadn't really thought much about it, but I think it's probably pretty official that we are not going to do a National Park trip this year. I had wanted to see how our home repairs would price out first, but I didn't count on my child falling apart. (If we went on a trip it was going to be without the kids, but I don't think DL would go for that right now).

It's fine. I already had a good feeling that we would push that off to next year. It just popped into my head and I am thinking, "no way in heck!" We have absolutely nothing travel planned for next year, or any future years, so I am sure we will plan a nice National Park trip next year. Just MH & I. I don't know what order, but we want to do Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Bryce/Zion and Yellowstone. That will probably keep us busy for the next 3-4 years. If we do anything with the kids it would probably just be renting a beach house or a lake house for the week, or a small road trip. It would not be a priority or wish of mine to fly anywhere.

As for my birthday, I mentioned wanting to do a weekend away near San Francisco. MH did discuss with his mom, but her timeshare did not come through on this either. !!

That kind of got pushed aside in the craziness of the last couple of weeks, but today I booked a hotel. About $500 for 2 nights (*choke choke*). But it's my 40th birthday and I wanted to splurge a bit. (It's just extra painful since we already spent thousands above our travel budget this year, and we rarely pay anything for hotels. I had to take some time to talk myself into it).

We got a beach front hotel near San Francisco.

I want to spend the day in SF doing a hike and eating at one of my favorite restaurants.

I expect that the beach will be much nicer by our hotel and we will probably drive down the coast a bit and just enjoy the food and scenery.

Blogaversary Post

September 17th, 2016 at 05:48 pm

I can't believe I have been on SA for 10 years!

I am so grateful for such a supportive community. Glad to still be here 10 years later.

When I started this blog my spouse was unable to find *any* work and we were kind of having an "oh crap" moment. Is just nothing we ever expected or planned for. (That he couldn't even find a job flipping burgers... What the heck!?) We've always been very frugal and big savers, but that just forced us to try harder. It's some irony that I think it put us on a better financial path than we ever would have been otherwise.

When we both worked full-time, before kids, we had a huge savings rate. I think early on my blog was just mourning the loss of that. In the end, we are now getting back to where we were financially before kids. Income and saving rate is about the same.

Oh, and re-reading earlier entries, I was really focused on how little we were adding to our savings. I can see there was confusion in what I was putting out there. We never stopped saving for retirement or anything like that. In fact, our net worth was quite large. I was just really focused on our SAVINGS. Like our rainy day savings and liquidity. Because that is all we were really struggling with, with the loss of income. I think it came across that I thought that was the most important. It was really the least important, which is why it was what we struggled with. Everything important was given much higher priority, like funding retirement or staying out of debt.

I do think one thing I've become better at is looking at the bigger picture more than the smaller picture. I think I had a small picture focus of one area I was concerned with, when I started this blog. But over time I have stepped back and have managed the bigger picture more. I don't know when I would have made that shift otherwise, so I am grateful for the opportunity to have done that while still so young.

In 2006, our two BIG financial goals (already accomplished) had been to get into a house and to be able to stay home with our kids. We just didn't have much on our horizon after that. We had knocked a lot of big financial goals out while still very young, and didn't really have any other goals. Since joining SA we've since switched focus to retirement. If there's nothing else we are saving for, then I guess that is the next step! Our retirement plans have also been heavily influenced by watching our parents retire (during the past few years). In both cases, they worked far longer and saved far more than they needed to. Though they all retired young. & so we are taking that into consideration when formulating our own retirement plans. (& it's not *just* that. My family tends to be extreme on the savings side. As are many of my clients. I probably see a little too much of people WAY over-preparing and not taking care of their own health and not enjoying life as much as they should).

I suppose that will be our focus for the next decade. Since I do enjoy my work, it's not a retirement goal so much as a "financial independence" goal. We just want to have the financial freedom to choose if we want to work or not. & I suppose that goal is also influenced by our parents struggling so much to find work in their 50s.

We just happen to be on track to hit $1 Mil when our kids should be finishing up college. I am not comfortable dropping down from full-time work until I have a really clear picture of college plans. So I think it works out that those two goals will be hit around the same time. ($1 Mil should be plenty for us to retire on).

I've not factored cash gifts (from parents) or dh working in any of that. So... It is possible I would be willing to drop down to part-time sooner. But things never seem to go as planned and the "prepare for the worst" part of me just thinks it's good to have the mindset that I will be working full-time for another decade.

I expect that by 50 we will be financially independent. At that point we will just have to regroup. I am not planning to shift to part-time work the day I turn 50 or on the day my kid graduates college. But I think that is just the point in time where we will be running the retirement numbers and fine tuning the final plan. Retirement has been our only substantial financial goal since our kids were born, but in our 20s it was just so far away and nebulous. I think we are allowing that at age 50 it should be a lot more clear and turning into a much shorter term goal.

We also have to decide where on earth we want to live. We know we want to downsize and move. That's all we know. I suppose it depends where our kids and parents are at that time. It's important for us to be near family. I expect the "where" to impact our working/retirement plans in our 50s. We are very open to moving back towards the Bay Area. When our kids are grown, would just be a completely different animal than trying to live there when just starting out. Plus, we are considering some middle ground like moving only half way back. If we downsized into a small condo, which is our preference anyway, it shouldn't be any more expensive. Who knows in another decade, but just thinking along those lines.

As an aside, I know it's not popular to retire in an expensive region. Especially a more expensive region. Or *the* most expensive region. But our parents have retired very well with very little in expenses, and I know we can do very well. It's the last place I would ever rent or hire out care (like daycare or nursing home care $$$$$). But for our needs and spending, I am not phased. We will have to adjust our housing expectations, but we've already done that. (We didn't grow up with any housing expectations, so it's not a big mind shift for us).

When I turn 40 the end of this year, that may be a shift I do with this blog: The 10 year count down to financial independence...

Other than trying to save up as much as possible, the next 10 years seem pretty nebulous. I don't know that I know much of anything. I expect a lot of change. We've been really boring and stable since having kids, but when I look beyond their high school years we are pretty much open to anything. We don't know where we are going to live. Our kids aren't on any set college path yet. My job is very finite. MH still has no idea what he wants to do when he grows up. I have *no idea* where we will be in 10 years. I'd just like to be on very solid financial ground, and if we achieve that then the rest doesn't matter. The rest is whatever we want it to be.

Here is to the next 10 years!

Quick Update

September 15th, 2016 at 01:52 pm

September has definitely not been my month. It's just been one bad thing after another. I wouldn't even know where to begin.

Regardless of everything else, it's been very high stress because Drama Llama(11) is having a really rough time. There is definitely an element of mental health issues and I suspect these are just the first steps down a very long road.

For now, every thing about our "fairly easy" child is very difficult. I've never had to micromanage his homework before. (I mean, like we never help him at all or pay any attention to that because he is very responsible). He's never had problem sleeping in his own bed before. We've never had any problems leaving him for a date or whatever. Honestly, it's very deja vu to the baby years. Just tons of work and really no idea what we are doing. But figuring it as we go along. Very "one day at a time".

Given family history, none of this is a surprise. I just have no frame of reference of getting help so young, because in the past was so taboo and/or most in my family are too stubborn to get any help. (e.g. My mom got help in her 40s). I think some of it is that he isn't a stubborn type (thank goodness!) and some of it is we've always talked very openly about these things with our kids. We wouldn't want them to hold in feelings of wanting to harm themselves. He is very open to any help that we can get him.

For now, just surviving.

Credit Card Rewards Update

September 11th, 2016 at 04:57 pm

2016 TALLY:

$208 Cash (Barclay Card, Moi)
$250 Gift Cards (AmEx Green, Moi)
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$458 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*


Other Rewards:

**Various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31.

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I have not gotten the $250 rewards yet, but the pickings were pretty slim on that reward card and not much I really want. Which is why we decided to pass up the $500 reward offer that we recently got from AmEx.

I had done my due diligence and checked that there were useful gift cards, but I guess the info I checked was old and they changed their offerings. This seems to be in conjunction with AmEx offering a batch of larger rewards. So they made the rewards crappier but have been offering a lot more of them.

Plus, they are being really slow to let me redeem the rewards. So I haven't even been able to order my gift cards yet. I will probably just pick up some big chain restaurant gift cards. We can get use out of those, but it will probably take us a long time to get through them.

I think I am eligible again for a Citi $500 cash bonus, so I will keep an eye out for that.

This & That

September 5th, 2016 at 06:19 pm

Not doing anything exciting this weekend. I live in the house of Grump, right now. HA! MH is clearly getting stressed about going back to work. DL is okay, but we are walking on eggshells around him. I think my mood is okay but I am still stuck mostly off my feet. So we are all out of sorts on some level.

{MM is off at a sleepover, hopefully having more fun than the rest of us!}

We usually stay home on holiday weekends and avoid the crowds. But feel a little extra housebound right now.

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**Still figuring out the ropes of the new school. Weird after having both our kids in only one school for the past 8 years. They've often been in different locations, but always the same school.

I get the impression that this school leans more towards just supplying school supplies. But I've been asked for $20 for lab supplies/art supplies and $13 so that DL can write in/keep his math workbook. Oh, and $20 for a PE uniform (that he can maybe wear for a few years). {I had asked an 8th grade parent about sizing and she told me her 8th grader's first uniform was still too big. So I guess that they last}.

I have no idea what other expenses will trickle in.

**I saw that the Phantom of the Opera will be playing in our city next spring. We will try, but I doubt my kids will enjoy. DL seems way more into "being in" the theater versus "watching" the theater. Will see. If they don't enjoy this, I will give up for a while. MH and I can afford to go to twice as many musicals if we ditch the kids, so I can't say that I am that upset about it. Big Grin

But I first saw Phantom around DL's age and thought that it was pretty incredible. I guess I Want to give that experience to my kids.

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We are working on figuring out some vacations

**For our anniversary this month, we usually go to Napa since it's the only place we can generally get more last minute (free MIL timeshare). Well... We failed. MIL was able to get us a hotel in Tahoe instead. I look forward to the change and I think that part is all good. BUT, they didn't have a condo/kitchen so we will probably have to eat out mostly. Not the super cheap getaway that we are used to.

I suppose we can eat dinner before we drive up there and bring breakfast. So maybe we only go out for one lunch and one dinner? I suppose it's not a big deal. We'd go up Friday night and come home Sunday morning.

**I've finally figured out what I want to do for my 40th birthday. Kind of anything I want to do (National Parks/outdoors) is not really doable in winter. So I finally settled on just staying close to home. Rather than driving really far, I just want to keep it close. (I mean, I am sure San Diego is quite lovely in December, but it's a 7-hour drive). So... I settled on San Francisco! Thinking more to the southern tip of the city where the coast is beautiful and there are some lovely hikes, plus one of my favorite restaurants. We just don't make the time to go there like ever, so that is what I settled on. Would love to stay along the coast somewhere south of the city. I don't want to do the "hills" and "traffic" part of it all. Focusing more on the outdoors and the hiking.

MH still has to see if we can get a free timeshare stay. But since we mostly struck out this year and his mom was being difficult about it, I've already looked up some options. Thankfully it wasn't as expensive as I was envisioning. Will work it out, however it works out.

Stop Getting Mad at Your Kids for Wanting Stuff

September 5th, 2016 at 02:24 pm

I suppose that minimalism and sound financials can be closely related. I've been focusing more on the minimalism side of things over time.

For me, it started when I had my children. I was clearing out one room in our house for our second child and something about the nesting instinct put me in purge mode. I had my children in my 20s, so it's been since our 20s that we've been scaling down and not trying to accumulate more stuff. I don't know that we had bought a lot at that point but we sure had a lot of crap. 10+ years later and I am still digging through the crap. I can't even imagine what this is like if you spend your 30s and 40s (and 50s and 60s) accumulating the crap.

Since this all happened around the time we had kids, we have always been very 1-in and 1-out with their belongings. I think both of us would just feel too overwhelmed if we didn't stay very on top of it. When baby stuff was done it immediately left the house. Outgrown clothes are sifted out regularly.

I don't think we were quite there yet, when our second child was born. But at some point in our 30s, maybe amid all the de-cluttering, my MH and I both decided that we missed condo living. It was so much simpler and lower maintenance. What had been a lack of options in our youth (due to crazy expensive housing) eventually turned into our ideal. We personally really value our personal space and are fine with raising our kids in our current house. But the second they are grown we do plan to downsize. For the two of us, we just don't need this much space. & since we got to that point, we've been cognizant of not expanding and buying more stuff. While most Americans seem to be in an endless "more more more" mode, we are more in a "less less less" mode.

Anyway, every once in a while I come across a really great article that makes one think, and I decided to finally add a "minimalism" category to this blog. So I kind of wanted to do an overview of where we are at with that. & I should have done this a long time ago. & I thought of another article that I read recently, that I will share below.

We still have way too much stuff and I am still in the de-clutter stage. I think part of the problem for me is that I don't like to spend a lot of my time managing and organizing and cleaning my "stuff". The whole point in not having so much stuff in the first place is so that I don't have to expend energy on "stuff". & so putting all the effort and time that I need to de-clutter is just not happening for me. But we aren't planning to move for another decade and we are at a place already where we wouldn't have to get rid of anything to transition to some place like our first condo (which was half the size of our current home). I'd like to just be "moving ready" when we move, but I have a lot of time. I know we could fit into our future dream home today, but I also don't want to be sorting out junk and deciding what to keep when we move. I want that part to be done before we move again. So that is what I am working on.

My goal for the here and now is to go through all of my belongings and to pare down to what I truly want/use/need. I may be getting close. It could maybe even happen this year? Fall is when I usually get into de-clutter mode. When the weather cools and I get stuck inside more. From there, I really need to work on MH. He likes to accumulate and collect things. Like movies or video games. I am totally fine with that. I know not everyone wants to be able to carry the vast majority of their belongings in like one suitcase. I am resigned to the collections (& he does actually use them and enjoy them, which is a lot of it). But what drives me crazy is the boxes that have just been sitting around since we moved in 15 years ago. I just really want to have my own crap in order before I start leaning on him. I think my slow de-clutter is also good because the more I de-clutter the more my MH seems to subconsciously want to keep up. So he's been taking the initiative to also slowly work through his things.

Some day we will get there. I know it will probably also be a LOT easier without kids and that I may be able to more easily make our next home more of a stuff-less haven. I am resigned to a little extra chaos in the interim.

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Here is another excellent article that I came across recently:

http://www.becomingminimalist.com/target/

Parents, Stop Getting Mad at Your Kids for Wanting Stuff at Target

"So I get it, our kids have stuff. Probably too much. But I think, as parents, we too often put the blame for this reality on the wrong person.

Our kids do have lots of toys and clothes and video games and crafts. But let’s remember, they aren’t the ones with the steady paychecks and they didn’t organize their last birthday party.

If there are too many toys in your playroom, you put them there—or, at the very least, you allowed them to stay.

Even worse, often times, our kids are simply following our lead. When the average American home contains 300,000 items, how upset can we really get that our kids own 238 toys? And when 33% of us can’t fit both cars in our double-garages, how unreasonable is it to assume our child will fill their art and craft drawer to overflowing?

In a society that encourages consumerism at every turn, what else should we expect? Our children are only following our lead."

"But we ought to remember that our children are watching us closely. Whether we like it or not, they are soaking up values from us as parents about how to live, how to work, how to achieve significance… and how to spend money. And if we are constantly desiring things we don’t need, why would we expect anything else from our kids?

Maybe we should stop getting mad at them for wanting things at Target… and start questioning if we really needed to be there in the first place."


I thought this was interesting in terms how it comes up sometimes with other parents how "amazing" it is that we can so no to our kids. ???

But it's not even that we can say no. They really don't even ask.

I think some of it is that we very rarely even take our kids into stores. My spouse and I would help each other enough that we wouldn't see the point in dragging our kids along to all our errands. When I do take them to a store like Target, they don't ask for stuff. IT could be the very consistent boundaries that we set early on. Like saying no to every little whim. & giving them allowances and allowing them to make their own purchase decisions. They've always been able to buy whatever their little heart desires. But they think about it a little more carefully when their resources are more finite.

I know it's no surprise that kids mimic their parents or what they see, but I am taken aback by how financially sensible my kids are. I mean, they are only 11 & 13. I couldn't even get 13yo to buy one souvenir on our last trip (with money that Grandma had slipped him).

I'd think that we are mostly raising them the same way that we were raised. But I think there's two key difference in my own childhood. My parents said no a lot. They said it too much. If someone gave me $30 for souvenirs, I expect I would have spent it in under a minute. I felt deprived. They wouldn't let me spend my own money even on something they thought was too frivolous. We let our kids make those mistakes when they were like 5 or 6, and they have learned and moved on. I also grew up in a culture of shopping. My parents didn't have a lot and they didn't buy me a lot. They weren't huge shoppers. BUT... Shopping was something we did all the time. My mom certainly took me along on all of her shopping errands. My dad would take me shopping on the weekends (generally music stores). I think it was good from a standpoint of learning to manage money. But compared to how we live in the here and now, it was a *lot* of shopping. Maybe these days we do a lot of it online and the kids just don't see it. I don't remember if I have ever taken my kids out just to browse around and buy things. I don't think we have *ever* done that?

Oh, and the average 10yo owns 238 toys? ???????? My MH is a collector and he likes to collect video games, books, and board games. I think I'd be hard pressed to come up with 238 x 2 of those items (& technically a lot of those are for us adults too). My 10yo outgrew "toys" a while ago. So MH's collections would be the bulk of his toys. But I'll have to go count later. I am curious. (I really wouldn't be surprised if we could come up with 238 if we counted every junky party favor type toy that my kids still have. I expect that they have WAY less, but let's see... They are probably due for another purge anyway. A charity is coming by tomorrow so maybe we will do a count and see if they are ready to let go of anything they didn't want to let go of last year).

Edited to add: I couldn't even get up to 100 toys between my two kids, and they do have a lot of junk. They are doing a purge of outgrown toys.

P.S. Are there any minimalist blogs that you follow? OR anything as to managing time as well? The two that I really adored have both been retired. I need to find some more inspiration.

The Benefit of Less Stuff

September 5th, 2016 at 12:58 am

Saw a really great article about minimalism.

https://thebalancedlifeonline.com/how-getting-rid-of-my-stuf...

"I was that student in school who stays up all night studying and gets a C. That’s how I felt about my life. I was trying so hard! I felt little satisfaction, little joy, and every day was a battle for my time that I didn’t want to wake up for.

I asked other moms, friends, and people I respected if this was normal, how they managed their homes and kids, and if they felt like they enjoyed it. What I was met with was a resounding “oh yeah, I remember those days! That’s motherhood. It’ll be okay and you’ll get through it.”

"After another particularly difficult day, I reflected on how I’d yelled, how I’d been the mom I never wanted to be, and how I was counting how many hours I had of peace and quiet before morning came and I had to start over."

"In that moment, I had had enough. I decided I wasn’t going to let this be my life, and this overwhelm and depression wasn’t going to rule me any longer."

"I went into the playroom – the room that was the bane of my existence. This was a room full of colorful bins, each bin full of toys. There were toys on the floor, in chests, in boxes, toys everywhere. I would send my kids in here to play and they would come out less than ten minutes later complaining of boredom. This room was pointless, and I’d had enough.

I started working through the room, making piles – keep, trash, donate. I got rid of every single toy that I felt wasn’t benefitting my kids. If it didn’t cause them to engage in constructive or imaginary play, it wasn’t staying in this house because it wasn’t worth the work it caused me. If I was going to clean up it was going to be the things that added to our lives; it was going to be only the things we needed and the things we truly loved.

When I was finished, all that remained were trains and tracks, a couple of dress up costumes, books, and blocks. The trunk of my car was overstuffed with toys to take to Goodwill, my playroom was purged, and I immediately felt lighter.

The next day my kids ran downstairs for breakfast, and as usual, I sent them into their playroom to play, curious to see if meltdowns would ensue because of what I’d done with their toys. They walked in, looked around, said something along the lines of “Hey! It’s nice and clean, Mommy! Hey! There’s my trains!” and happily started playing.

I was shocked. I stepped out of the room, poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat on the couch. To my surprise, my kids played in that room that day for three hours. Three hours! It wasn’t just that day either. They continued to want to be in their playroom for long amounts of time from then on. They started going outside more often, making up stories and scenarios together, playing tag, and creating art. It was as if I had unclogged their God-given gift of imagination when I got rid of their toys. "


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I'm personally in a space where I just don't understand the average American existence. I remember being surprised by how other people's houses always looked like toy stores erupted in their homes. (I mean, to the point of ridiculous). I'd strive for the complete opposite.

I still remember a childless friend complimenting us once on not having piles of toys in our main living area. That our house hadn't been over-run by children.

I think there are several factors. Our parents didn't love us with "toys" and "stuff". With space at a huge premium (growing up in San Francisco), it would never occur to me to have a whole room dedicated to toys. !!

It was never any conscious decision to have less stuff in order to make life easier. It was more just that we didn't understand all the stuff.

But I keep coming across blogs and articles that articulate some of our experiences. I suppose it's possible that our kids were less bored and more creative because we weren't drowning them in toys.

I thought this tied in well with the article I posted in my last blog post.

& read the entire article if you can. It was really interesting.

Making Space

September 3rd, 2016 at 05:11 pm

MMM had a really great article (several weeks ago). It sums up our life philosophy pretty well.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/07/13/making-space-for-b...

"While others will buy an unlimited annual ski pass and ride the mountains every weekend, I’ll get a four-pack and make a single weeklong trip with my friends. Others will buy a cottage and split their time between two houses, I’m happy with one. While others will start with a cat, then have a kid, then adopt a dog, then another dog, then create second, third, and fourth kids, I’m feeling plenty busy with just my boy.

None of this is done with money in mind – it is done out of a desire for balance, free time, and a safety margin in life. By keeping our non-negotiable commitments to only 50% of our time, we leave the other 50% open for growth, self-development, and an ability to work much harder to deal with the black swan events that life inevitably serves up. While others might imagine we’re missing out on life by not stacking it up with more activities, I feel we’re allowing ourselves just the right amount of space to actually live it. And of course, the side effect this has on the money side has been very large as well."


I've been wanting to share this anyway, but couldn't help but think of this in light of the week we just had. (See last post). If my spouse has to quit his job to deal with personal stuff, then it's done. We wouldn't even think twice about it. As is, we leave enough time and space to deal with life. I doubt that quitting his job would even be necessary.

& as an aside, I think people have varying degrees of tolerance for chaos. I know my tolerance is very low. Thus I will probably never choose to have more than 2 kids. But I wanted to bring up because I think the analysis can be over-simplified a bit. MMM speaks to having only one kid. I honestly don't know if I have the personality to just have one kid. Having two kids doesn't particularly cost a lot more than having one kid (certainly not twice as much) and having two kids close in age, they mostly entertain each other. I've often felt that it's easier to have two kids than one. I am sure it depends on the age, but certainly at the age my kids are now. & yeah, I know people with many kids who are happy and in their element. Don't take MMM's comments too literally. You have to work out what works for you.

Make the time and the space for whatever it is that is most important to you.

Falling Into Place, Falling to Pieces

September 3rd, 2016 at 03:01 pm

MH got his work schedule sorted out. They are working around whatever he needs. I am not surprised, but just feel better that it's all nailed down.

The final pieces (of crazy school year 16/17) are falling into place.

We've had many discussions as to pros/cons of different strategies for school drop off and pick up, and other scheduling matters, so I am glad we aren't back to square one. We were presuming a lot about his work hours in the process.

I still have to figure out what I am going to do with DL's late start Wednesdays. But I think we will play some of that by ear. I *can* drop him off early those days at school. & maybe once he makes more friends that is what he will prefer. Just hang out with his friends before school? But for now, I think I can oblige the weird start time.

MH is going to handle Wednesday minimum days for MM. It might be the most sensible otherwise to just find him a ride. But we don't want to deal with any more flakey carpools. I think it's also for the best that MH gets a (very short) break on Wednesdays.

Drama Llama started at the new school. I am not sure yet of all of the after school music options. But I guess some of the high school classes are open to the middle schoolers as an extra period, since the high school goes for an hour longer. (Their school day is long because they require a lot of art electives). So DL was offered to take a beginning orchestra class, for free, since it was a high school class. Sweet!! In the end we decided against it though. He was feeling overwhelmed and I know it was a lot of extra driving for MH, who can otherwise pick him up on the way home from the high school. So... We let that go. The opportunity will still be there in the future. That & many other opportunities. It just wasn't right for the here and now. But we had a lot of back and forth before we came to a decision on that.

--------------------------------------------------

Other than that, this week has been trying. Drama Llama(11) had a very rough week.

I never expected him to have anything but an easy transition and to love the new school. I think that mostly this is true and things are going well.

But, I've been really concerned about his mental health this week. The back story on that is that mental illness runs in my family and I've always been a little concerned about DL. Maybe hyper vigilant given my family history. That said, the only feedback I've ever gotten over the years is that I over-worry. We've been complimented many times (by teachers or other parents) about how emotionally mature he is, which always throws us off. He seemed to be mellowing with age and I started to reason that *anyone* would seem emotional compared to the three of us. Maybe I wasn't being fair to him. Everything is relative and he otherwise lives in the house of Stoic.

But... with all the change and the stress, he had a mental breakdown this week. Between MH and I, I think we were able to work through it. But it's clear to me that this is not *normal*. I expect that his teen years might be very trying. *sigh*

Anyway, one of the selling points of sending him to school with a bunch of artsy teenagers is that I've heard really good things about their counseling services. (I remember thinking that we may really need the help in the future). I didn't expect to use it like the first week of school! But, it's there. We are going to start with that. I presume they would have a better idea if we should seek out further medical help or not.

I don't know much at this point. Given past history, he may shrug this off and may not have another episode like this for many years. I don't know. Or maybe we will just have to be very gentle with him for a while. He's maybe never gone through such a big change before. I am just a little more concerned now about how he will manage the hormones of teenagerhood.

Next week is a short week and I am optimistic that it will go well. Especially now that we know how he is feeling and we are being very gentle with him. Will see... (What seemed to snap him out of it was giving himself permission to be much more gentle on himself. He is being more gentle on himself as to his feelings and as to both his school workload. It's okay to feel stressed and overwhelmed and it's okay to blow off your homework when you can't mentally function).