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Letting go of our stuff

June 12, 2014

We are cleaning house. After living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment for three years, we went on a square-footage spree when we moved and are now the occupants of a three-bedroom, three-level house. There are entire rooms that have only one purpose. And there are rooms that we don’t use enough to justify having them. This is not a house we would buy, but it has been a nice change from the cramped quarters we used to inhabit out of necessity. But having the luxury of choice means that we also feel we have the duty to carefully evaluate those choices. We are reassessing our priorities, and making adjustments accordingly.

We will be credit card debt-free around the time our lease is up, and we’ve decided that our next big financial goal is to save for a down payment. Starting to consider buying property means we are asking ourselves what sort of place we’d want to buy. We really like our neighborhood, but it feels like an entire house is, well, too much house for our little family of three. And multi-level living is sort of terrible. Whatever I need is always on a different floor. Always. I wish I could say this has improved my fitness, but it’s mostly just increased my annoyance.

So, we are more than likely going to move in the fall to a smaller, cheaper place. And I hate moving, so that’s a pretty good indication of my resolve when it comes to working aggressively towards this next goal. But, this decision presents a few challenges. Read more…

Bye-bye, bedtime

June 10, 2014

I think we are weaning. I have been in a little funk lately because I was rejected from two jobs in the past two weeks. I wasn’t even that attached to them, but it still sucks to be told “no.” So, valiant hubby that he is, Darien offered to give me a break from the bedtime routine for a whole week. After one day, I am already planning my renegotiation strategy when this little experiment is over. Seriously, this is the best freedom ever.

Last night, instead of doing the bath, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading stories, nursing, and laying in the dark hoping for him to fall asleep before I do, I listened to some live music downtown while enjoying a malt.

Tonight, I am drinking a glass of wine at a local eatery, blogging.

But it occurred to me that Alban hasn’t nursed since Sunday night. It remains to be seen whether he’ll remember to ask for milk in the mornings the rest of the week, but we could be in the final hours of our nursing relationship. He typically only nurses once or twice a day, if at all any more. This really could be the end, and I am so OK with that.

How YNAB changes your friendships

May 29, 2014
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I went on a brief, but much needed solo trip last weekend to visit my cousin in Chicago. I was also lucky to be able to see her husband and mom, as well as one of my college roommates. As it happens, I have made them all YNAB converts. Well, my aunt is via my cousin, so I’ll give her credit for that one. When I returned home, I realized that we were able to have all kinds of conversations about money because we each have this wonderful new awareness about what it’s doing, and how we’re using it. We have different priorities and different amounts in our respective bank accounts, but we were able to have delightfully frank discussions about how we’ve dealt with life’s financial curveballs without what I sense is the typical way one must deal with a friend’s revelation to you that they’ve had to deal with an unexpected expense: pity / chagrin / worry. None of us are helpless anymore. We have goals and plans to achieve them. An unexpected expense just gets cycles into the YNAB method, and the money gets moved around to where it needs to be. It doesn’t break the budget, the budget just adjusts to the new priority. This is a whole new world of openness and healthy dialogue, folks. I highly recommend it.

Chicago was beautiful, btw. I highly recommend it, too.

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ER

May 29, 2014

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Alban fell off my lap yesterday afternoon. He was eating a snack, and then he was on his back, having given his head a good whack. Now, I think I’m a fairly relaxed parent. I don’t tend to overreact. He cried for a bit, and then ate a little more. But then he fell asleep in my arms, which never happens. I googled “head injury,” and it was sort of like when you google “pregnancy symptoms” and they are all also symptoms of PMS. How are you supposed to know if a toddler is slurring his words? So after consulting with our doctor’s office, which was closed already, we headed to the emergency room. He didn’t wake up when I put him in the car seat, which also never happens. He slept all the way to the Metro, where I picked up Darien, who had left work early so I didn’t have to do this alone. Alban woke up briefly, then fell back asleep, which also never happens. So I was a little concerned about the sleeping even though he didn’t have any other symptoms of head trauma.

After a little waiting we went to triage, then went back to the waiting room, which was pleasant and had fish. Then we were sent to a room, where there was nothing but medical equipment, and had to wait there for way longer. I’m pretty sure we were triaged to the bottom of the list. By the time the doctor saw us, I’m pretty sure everyone there, including us, was wondering why we were still there because Alban was literally jumping and running around. He got checked out in the quickest exam even, and we got the OK to leave.

It was a relief that he was fine, but I feel like there should be a handy infographic for calm parents for When to Lose Your Shit. Seriously, the nurse who answered the phone at the doc’s office was like, “Um, you should probably go to the emergency room. For, you know, peace of mind.” Hello, that’s why I called you. To advise. And when I called my doctor’s office to see if they could assess this sort of thing they sounded all, “Why aren’t you already halfway to the ER by now.” Can we please revise the head injury symptoms to include vomiting at the tippy top? We were asked three times whether he’d vomited. Had I known that was pretty much the main thing to worry about, I would have stayed at home and just kept an eye on him.

So Alban is fine. He ate pasta and cake last night, and didn’t go to sleep until 11pm because of his 1.5 hour nap at 5 o’clock. This will be a neat family story in a little while. Right?

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Things I love about 23 months

January 10, 2014

Alban will be two at the end of the month. These are some of my favorite things about him right now.

  • The way he is equally obsessed by blueberries and o’s.
  • He has the most adorable roar when you ask him what sound a lion or tiger makes.
  • How he systematically lines up his toy cars and trucks.
  • When he wants to build “more tower.”
  • How he covers his eyes when you play peek-a-boo with him. But you’re doing the peeking.
  • How much he loves books.
  • His determination and perseverance.
  • His climbing skills.
  • Watching his thought process as he figures something out.
  • They way he observes new situations with reserve, but not fear.
  • His laugh.
  • His obvious joy at seeing his grandparents.
  • His curiosity about animals.
  • The way he hugs with his arms, but mostly his head.
  • His sense of humor.
  • Hearing him count.
  • The fact that, to temper all the “no no no” I hear, he now has a very winning “oh yeah!”

This is me on a budget

May 2, 2013

April was hard, people. We started using a budget. To be more precise, we started using You Need A Budget (YNAB). It’s not that we didn’t have a system before, but it was incomplete. It was passive and reactive. We tracked everything in some financial software, and used a spreadsheet to forecast and plan bill payments. But our expenses were never really examined until after they occurred (if at all), at which point you cannot do anything about them. And many time purchases were made based on the bank balance, not what we could actually afford after all our obligations had been met.

And here’s the really dirty secret: we acquired so much credit card debt after starting the business from scratch that I started to tune it out as a method of self-preservation. I became immune to the expanding negative balances because I had to in order to keep the business open. My husband says that to be an entrepreneur you have to be a die-hard optimist. You have to believe you will succeed. And so I did. We also operated on the idea that we would eventually earn our way out of debt, not knowing when, or if, that would ever happen. The debt weighed on me. I had to spend many days each month figuring out what to pay, when. It is like a puzzle, which is all very thrilling when it works out and I can pay everyone on time, including ourselves, but harrowing when I can’t make the numbers work.

As someone who grew up thinking that carrying a credit card balance was a terrible thing, I had a lot of guilt about doing just that. And resentment that we needed to. I had amazing credit for many years because of my good spending habits. Although I believed that the debt was temporary, and 100% worth it in order to have the business and the life we want, it still felt shameful every time I truly faced it. So I avoided the confrontation as much as possible.

Read more…

Half Birthday

August 1, 2012

The Olympics has Alban on the edge of his seat

It was Alban’s half birthday yesterday! It is both hard to believe that he has been here only six months, and that it has already been six months. He is getting to be great fun. He can now sit up pretty well on his own, though he is still placed on a pallet of safety for those unexpected launches and wobbly topples. He smiles a lot, and has started to laugh. His dexterity and hand-eye coordination are improving. He can reach for a toy and pick it up with purpose. He can pick up a toy and put it directly in his mouth. He has a favorite song, and he starts to smile as soon as he hears the first phrase. He continues to vocalize.

Read more…

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