Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Big (and Little) Changes

We're in the midst of some large changes around here. First we've added to our family. After Roskva (our German Shepherd mix) passed away this summer we made plans to get another dog when we were ready. So we ended up deciding on a puppy. I won't lie. I have some regret. I have always rescued animals that were really in need rather than just go out and get a puppy, plus puppies are a good deal of work. But she's part of our family now. She's a blue heeler and he name is Alkina.

The kids (mainly Foxgirl) talked me into a cat. I had sworn off cats. But here we are again. She's a good cat. A family found her by out in the woods at a state park while on a hike. She was friendly and pretty clean, they suspect that she was dumped, because she seemed to socialized to have been feral. She's comfortable with the dogs and kids and has no accidents, so I can't complain. She also likes to crawl up onto my chest and purr the loudest purr ever. It's like having a small furry motor snuggled up against my collar bone. So maybe cats aren't all bad.  Her name is Persia.   

The third big change around here is just beginning. When we bought this property 5 years ago, we knew going in that the house itself wasn't really as large as we wanted. At the time we had 3 kids and the house had 3 bedrooms, one of which is barely large enough for a bed. It also had an attached garage that had the laundry area included so we converted that into a multi-use room of sorts. It now serves as the laundry room/master bedroom/office. The whole shebang is around 1000 sq foot. But we love the property. We've got 11 level acres about 1/3 of it is wooded. An old barn, a decent sized detached garage and a lovely garden with a gazebo and koi pond out back. It's closer to the road than ideal, but being wooded on both sides and across the road, it still has a private feel. So our plan from the get-go was to save up for an expansion. Not being keen on debt, we paid this house off within the first two years. Since then we've been putting what we would have put toward a mortgage into savings for the expansion. We finally felt like we have enough, so we are moving forward. We've met with a contractor on two occasions. We've whittled the plan down to what's most important and are in the process of getting our ducks in a row now. We want to be sure we have all the cash we need. Some things are more than we had hoped. But we are wiggling funds around to see what all we can do.
Our house as it was when we bought it.

I will be sharing progress (and the inevitable set backs) as we go.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Taking Back New Year

Lately I hear so much grumbling and mocking of the very concept of New Year's resolutions. The arguments are reasonable enough. Many resolutions fail within a few days. If you truly want to make a change, you don't need to wait for some magical day on the calendar. And besides, vowing to get in shape, or get out of debt is just … so … cliché.

I have my own arguments for the long practiced act of making promises to one's self at the dawn of a new year. First of all, there is something to be said of symbolism. There is unquestionably something inspiring about giving yourself a fresh start as the year begins anew. You feel more positive, and at least for a moment, you think maybe you can take over the world, or at least, tackle some of your own demons.

So here I am, once more. At the beginning of a year, having bid adieu to all of last years disappointments and personal failings. And once more, I find myself thinking; maybe, just maybe, this is my chance to get it right, and do some things I've never done before. Here we go again!

My New Year's Resolutions of 2015

  1. I will get comfortable enough with power tools to use them on my own.
  2. I will wear my fitbit and use it.
  3. I will run (walk, jog) at least one 5K.
  4. I will create a new budget and keep to it.
  5. I will write more.
  6. I will read more.
  7. I will get out more with my children.
  8. I will begin this house expansion.
  9. I will learn how to program.
  10. I will get more organized.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thankful Thanksgiving is Over

I'm thankful to see the back of Thanksgiving this year, and not for the reasons so often touted.  I don't think it's awful to get together with family.  I actual love that part.  I love being with my loved ones, seeing my kids get to hang out with their cousins, eating a ridiculously large and indulgent meal, and I don't even care that the origins of the holiday are not what we were led to believe when, as innocent 2nd graders, our teachers dressed us in paper pilgrim hats and feathered headbands.  For all its imperfections, I think Thanksgiving is a beautiful time.

What's gotten under my skin is the constant one-upmanship of smugness. 

This is what my Facebook feed has been like for weeks:

Smug1: "Black Friday is the worst.  So materialistic and people will beat each over the head with the legs of their first born to get a good deal on an iPad.  

Smug2: "I can't believe stores are making people work on Thanksgiving! Why should corporate greed keep people from spending time with their families? I'm boycotting."

Smug3: "Some people want to work on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  It's the only way they can afford to give their kids anything but shoe laces and old oranges for Christmas."

Smug4: "Some people are working because they have no choice and their children won't get to see them until after the new year. They are low wage earners being exploited by "TarBuyMart"

Smug5: "Why is everyone bitching?  Nurses, Drs, plumbers, etc have to work no matter what day it is and no one complains about that?

Smug6: "Can you believe people get into fights and trample each other on Black Friday?  I'd never."

Smug7: "Check your privilege.  If you don't understand those who wait in the freezing cold for 12 hrs so you can risk being trampled for a $100 TV then you obviously are an elitist."

Smug8: "I can't afford to go shopping on Black Friday or any other day.  We are so poor, my kids have never even seen a TV.  I'm only online because the library has free internet connection. " 

I get it.  You know what?  I have my own opinions on the subject.  Some are open-minded and some are more judgmental.  Just like everyone else.  The world isn't black and white.  We aren't all either dirt poor or one percenters.  Most of us know struggle.  We know what it is to need/want a good deal.  What it's like to want or need to work on a holiday.  People need to chill.  The world is changing.  Some for the better, some for the worst.  Personally, I'm not ready to see Thanksgiving turn into nothing more than the beginning of Black Friday.   That's me.  If you disagree, then whatever. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Attention Divided

I signed up to do NaBloPoMo this month (blogging every day of November).  Then I missed the very first day, because I couldn't figure out how to get my laptop online at my in-laws house.  I think it's already obvious I'm not going to manage every single day this month.  But that's no excuse not to do my best, right?

I also signed up for NaNoWriMo.  I'm about 1500 words behind at the moment.  But it's loads of fun, so I'm not worried.  Even if I don't manage to complete it by the end of the month, I'm glad I have started it.  I've never tried to write a book before.  I've always wanted to write, and I've always convinced myself that I should because I'm not experienced, or educated.  Same reason I talk myself out of doing almost anything.  Time to quit using insecurity as an excuse to not try.  So I'm jumping in with both feet.  The two older girls will be joining me.  They've both already started their stories as well. 

I'm also doing the 3 classes online, including the creative writing course, which is the one I'm most enthusiastic about.  I'm trying really hard to be excited about computer programming and statistics.  Hopefully, the better I understand what I'm doing, the more enthusiastic I'll be.  I haven't given up yet. 

Thankfully, Halloween is over.  So I should have a bit more time freed up. Of course, The Holidays are on their way.  I'll just ignore those for the time being. 

I'm hoping this will be a big month for growth.  I've spent years in a rut waiting for the circumstances around me to change into something that I felt would allow me to move forward.  But if I wait much longer, I fear my whole life will pass me by.  And while I don't think I'm a bad person, I'm not sure this is all I want to be either.