Thursday, March 31, 2011

Puttering along..

I thought it was time for an update, although I don't have much of anything interesting to share. It seems pointless to continually post that school and work are going fine and that I'm very busy with them and my family. Basically, that's what it all boils down to.

My first semester of school will end in about 2 and a half weeks. That's extremely exciting! After that I'll get a couple weeks off from school before the second semester starts in the beginning of May. It's hard to believe that soon I'll have officially completed four college classes. I did get my schedule for next semester. I'm taking English, Sociology, Medical Terminology, and a transcriptioning class. I'm a bit anxious as I'm slightly worried they might be difficult classes. But I think at least the medical terminology class will be interesting and fun. We'll see.

I don't really have a whole lot to say about work. They're keeping me busy. I'm getting around 25 hours a week, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it sure feels like a lot. I suppose that's because I haven't really worked much in the past eight years, and getting back into it has its ups and downs. I do like working, I like the people I work with, and for the most part I enjoy the job itself. The hard part is gearing up to get ready for work. It's not so easy with five kids. I don't want to pay for child care costs, so I've been having my father-in-law watch the kids for me. The problem is he's getting up there in age and his health isn't so great. He's not capable of doing a lot of things. Thankfully my oldest child is nearly 14 (but not mature enough to watch his siblings alone) so grandpa has some help. But the kids give him a hard time sometimes and of course I have to be sure everything is ready before I can leave for work. This usually means I have to make dinner before I leave so it's ready for the kids.
My most recent problem has been that my job is now scheduling me for some day shifts. They appreciate the work I do and really want me on their busy lunch shifts. I appreciate the vote of confidence, but having a day time sitter is a struggle sometimes. I am not comfortable leaving my father-in-law alone with a 3 and 4 year old all day without the older children around to help get snacks, drinks, and clean up minor messes. As I said, grandpa is a bit older and I don't want to put too much stress on him. I do have a friend who is willing to watch my kids for these day shifts, but she's not always available. She's got her own life and her own kids and has another on the way. She hasn't charged me for the few times she has watched my kids in the past, which I do appreciate. However.. this coming week I'm scheduled for two day shifts and they happen to be on days that this friend is not available. They're also 8 hour shifts so I can't expect my father-in-law to babysit on these days.. that's a very long day for him to be alone with my kids! I just don't have enough back up plans for circumstances like this, and it gets a little stressful.

Thus far I've been handling these stressful moments well enough. I continue to look for back up babysitters for situations like this, and thankfully have found one for this coming week's shifts. However the stress of trying to find adequate child care which is affordable takes its toll. Now I understand what all those working moms have been going through! It's not easy at all. I don't want to limit my availability or cut back on my hours because I need and want the money.. but I wonder if I'll be able to continue going through this stress every week of ensuring I have child care and ensuring the kids are taken care of before I get ready to leave for work. Then there's the added stress of coming home to discover they didn't behave for whoever was watching them, or they made a huge mess, or some other ridiculous thing. It's enough to make a mom nuts!

Then of course I'm already starting to feel guilty about this upcoming summer. I know our summer fun is going to be limited with my school and work schedules. I know I can take some of my school work with me to playgrounds or the pool or wherever we feel like going.. but my classes are online and I usually need an internet connection to get my work done, and there is no wi-fi at the playground or the pool. Then on nights or days when I'm scheduled to work the kids are basically stuck indoors because of our living situation. We have no backyard and we're too close to a busy road. I don't let them play outside here.. I take them elsewhere to get their fresh air and exercise. Grandpa can't take them places for reasons I've already mentioned. My back up babysitters can't take them places either and none of my friends live in areas that are any better than my own. The whole point of what I'm doing is to give us a better life.. but I'm feeling really guilty about the sacrifices being made by everyone in the meantime.

So I certainly give credit to moms who've been doing this all along. I can't say forsure who has it harder.. working moms or moms who stay at home. Both deserve a whole lot of credit for what they do!
Oh, and dads do too!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Overcoming Fear

I've been seeing a lot of posts about fear lately. A couple days ago I saw this post on Facebook by Simply Positive:

"Don't let fear take over & paralyze you. Store it, learn from it, cultivate it, CHALLENGE it, gather it into a "powerball within your core". Then mentally USE IT to PUSH you into action! Let it inspire/motivate a positive change OR a leap of faith! Fear can be a big set-back OR a "fierce motivator" . Eat it up. USE IT to propel you towards something positive! YOU ARE a fighter & you CAN do it! :) SP"

I didn't think much of it at the time. I don't feel as if there is a lot of fear in my life.

Then I saw a blog post today posted by Bob Harper, trainer for The Biggest Loser

This is basically his thoughts on last night's (March 8, 2011) episode of The Biggest Loser. He is focusing on two contestants who are letting fear hold them back from their weight loss goals. Both contestants have previously been in car accidents and were told by doctors that they couldn't do certain things. One was told she'd never be able to walk again, the other gave up her volleyball career due to the accident. Now, years after these accidents, these two girls are extremely over weight and have looked to The Biggest Loser to help them. Bob and his partner Jillian Michaels are trying to show these girls, and all the other morbidly obese contestants that they are capable of doing anything. If your mind tells your body to do it, your body will do it. There's no question!

While watching The Biggest Loser, you see this fear all the time, even in contestants who've not been in an accident. When you weigh 200 or 300 pounds, you think "I can't run a minute let alone a mile". Then Bob and Jillian throw these contestants on a treadmill and say "Do It! No excuses." Surprisingly, the contestants are capable of doing it.

Fear is all in your mind. It can be a motivator or a hindrance, it all depends on how you use it. Most people let fear control them by saying "I can't do that." If you believe you can't, then you won't. If you believe you can, you will.

So I did a little thinking about this. Where is fear holding me back? Where can I use these lessons?

What dawned on me was that fear actually is holding me back.. or at least it was. How many years did I spend sitting here on my butt, miserable about my situation, but choosing to do nothing about it? I had a million excuses for each of my problems. I don't have time, I don't have the finances, I have five kids.

Then something happened. My misery over my situation overcame my fear. I became fed up with being over 200 pounds, so I found the motivation to pursue a weight loss journey. I found the means to join a gym for a low membership fee, and the time to go to the gym daily. In six months I lost about 80 pounds. Then I got fed up with my financial situation. My excuse has always been that I cannot afford child care in order to have a job, and I did not have an education to get a good job. This was fear holding me back. These excuses came from my fear. However my motivation to change my situation overcame the fear. Here I am now, enrolled in school and working part time. Yesterday I opened a savings account. We've gone over a month without overdrawing our checking account, and four days after payday we still have $200 in our account (typically by now we'd be overdrawn).

Where is fear holding you back? What areas of your life do you want to change, but are afraid to? What excuses are you making for yourself because of this fear?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

When life messes up your plans..

Our finances have been so great lately, and I'm still so proud of us for not being tempted to spend every last dime of cash we have. We found out that hubby's car needed another expensive repair, about $500, and we were capable of saving that money. Today he went to get that repair, and that's when we discovered he needs yet another $500 repair! (This is not a mechanic trying to dig more money out of us, this mechanic is a childhood friend of my husband's and usually give us an amazing deal on any work we get done by him and he only tells us to replace what is absolutely necessary, so I totally trust him when he tells us we need to replace or repair something.)

We do not have this additional $500 right now, so this repair is just going to have to wait.

The bigger problem is our hot water heater. It's been acting up this week, the water isn't getting hot, and it's running out within a few minutes. I can't even get through washing up a few dishes before suddenly my water is cold. Hubby has been attempting a few cheap repairs, and none of them worked. He discovered today that the hot water heater is basically full of muck. We do have well water here, and it's not the most clean well water on the planet. The well water has already killed a few of my coffee makers, and even killed a Brita faucet filter. So hubby assumes that years of collecting junk inside the water heater has finally killed that too, and it's not surprising. This hot water heater was here before we moved in two years ago, so we have no idea how old it is or if it had ever been drained before.

The unfortunate part is, even though we rent our land, we do technically own our trailer, so these types of repairs are our responsibility.

Thankfully we do have enough money on hand to replace the hot water heater, which is actually a bit of a miracle. Normally we're flat broke. Normally our bank account is over drawn, our savings account has a zero balance, and we rarely have any cash on hand at all. This time, we still had a little bit in our checking account left over from the car repair, we have a little in our savings account, and I still have all the money from my paychecks that I've been saving up because I've still yet to be able to open a savings account of my own. So, using what's left in the checking account along with some of what I've saved, hubby is purchasing a new hot water heater.

I am thankful we had the money for it. I can't imagine what we'd be going through if we didn't have that money. However, I'm still very upset that life had to mess up my plans! I've said time and time again that I planned on using my paychecks to save up a little nest egg, and pay off some debts to straighten out our credit report so that hopefully within a couple years we can apply for a mortgage loan and own our own home. Now, the money I was going to use to get that started is being used on replacing a hot water heater which is just going to be killed again by our nasty well water. It's certainly a little disappointing. Even my husband was reluctant to take the money I'd been attempting to save. But what choice do we have? My twins haven't been able to shower all week due to our lack of hot water, and I've been washing dishes in cold water.

So, this has been a pretty big set back.

On top of these large expenses, I also have a couple of smaller things I may need to use my money on. My kittens are getting to that age where I need to start thinking about getting them fixed. I've already made the appointment for my male cat to be neutered at a low cost clinic, and I'm on the waiting list to get the female spayed at the same clinic. Depending on our bills, I may have to use some of my money to get these procedures paid for, but this is important to me, so I'm willing to do that.

Also, I'm hoping to be able to register my three older children for a resident camp this summer through my local YMCA. I received the brochure a few days ago, and I love the idea, and I think the kids will too. I am already a member of the YMCA, and qualify for subsidized payments due to our low income for a family of our size. So I have to apply to see if I can get the camp fees subsidized as well (they might pay up to half of the fee for camp). To do this I need a $50 deposit, then of course I'll have to come up with the rest of the payment to get the kids into camp. Again, this is something that I feel is important so I'm willing to use my money to pay for this if we cannot take it from hubby's paychecks.

Ultimately I would love nothing more than to use each of my paychecks for nothing but saving and paying debts, however I need to keep in mind that the primary reason for me working is to give us a better life and to be better capable of affording necessities as well as small luxuries. Ultimately, that's exactly what I'm doing.