Tuesday, January 24, 2012

moneymoneymoneymoooooney! MO-NEY!



Raph has a very keen interest in money. I don't know if its just his age when they start to really understand the concept of money or its just him. He understands Daddy works so that he can make money to buy the things we need etc but it goes further with him. He's very interested in making, saving and spending money.

We gave the boys an allowance for a while but it kind of tapered off. No real decision not to give it but just weeks go by and you forget. They ask but its a Tuesday and not a pay day and then they forget about it for a while. I have a problem with follow through. Anyway, I made Spend/Save/Give banks for them. They know about charity and help with donations we make. They understand we should save up for something instead of buying a bunch of random little things but for Raph its more than that. Colin, he just bounces around but has no concept of it really. He's just too little and working on counting.


Raph asked me where poor people lived yesterday. He understands have's and have not's. I explained that most people live in houses or apartments but they just might be smaller, not as nice and with more people in them. Then he said, "Oh. I thought maybe they were just wandering around looking for food." I explained that some people are homeless but there are shelters that they can use if they need a place to stay and food banks to for food.

He seems to really grasp that we are fortunate to have the things we have and that we should give to people who do not. We regularly donate food to our church's food pantry. If someone comes by collecting goods (Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts etc) we donate things. He sees me buy extra of certain types of things that are good for donations. We give extra clothes and furniture and household things to Goodwill. He sees this and participates. I think that is a valuable teaching moment. Maybe if you see generosity you will be more generous.

He is still 7 so he does have a healthy habit of asking for things but sometimes he takes a few steps back to see the bigger picture. At school they are having a lesson on money, jobs, production, consumers and budgeting. Did I mention how much I love his school? Anyway, he brought home papers yesterday that were columns of things they had to decide if they were "wants" or "needs". That is something that is hard to grasp when you are little. Their wants feel like needs most of the time. Then he had another paper that was a budget. Yes, a budget. Showed his income and expenses etc. They have a field trip today to a children's museum. They will all have jobs, earn income, cash their checks and buy things.

Being that its Raph he put a lot of thought into his job choice. They had to list their first, second and third job choices. He knew that he's number 14 on the list in his class so he probably wouldn't get his first choice. He wrote down his first choice in the second choice position. Smart boy got the job he wanted. Know what it was? A banker. He's so excited because today he brought his wallet to school for when he cashes his paycheck. He cannot wait to be a bank teller and give people their money. Field trips are always fun but I don't think he's been this excited for any other trip in the past 3 years.

I swear this boy will earn his first million before he's 25. When Borders was closing Mike took him to look for a book. It was in the final days of their liquidation so they didn't have the book they were looking for and went to Barnes and Noble down the road. Later that week Raph was talking to me in the car about Borders closing. He went on about how it was sad that the bookstore was closing and he thought it was because lots of people read books on their computers. True, I think this is a huge part of Borders closing, plus Amazon sells millions of books. But he took it a step further saying it was sad that Borders closed but ended up being really good for Barnes and Noble. Now everyone looking for a book will go down the street to Barnes and Noble and that would generate more income for that business. That's pretty heavy economics for a 7 year old right?

Not only that but I think he may be a marketing genius. He talks to me about my business and comes up with ideas on how to sell more "hair pretties". He told me his friend has a little sister who's cute. Maybe I could give them one and then people will see hers, like it and ask where she got it. Then maybe give the mom some of my cards as well to hand out. See! He gets advertising and marketing. He also told me I might want to consider throwing in a free flower clip with every order of a fascinator. Without the terminology he knows about how to generate rebound sales. Or a discount if they buy more than one etc.

Honestly, I might have to hire all of my kids to help. Colin is great with design. He made up a few flower clips before my first craft show. 2 out of 3 of them sold. Heidi wears the other one and gets lots of compliments. Then, Heidi is obviously good for advertising and now Raph can work on the marketing end of things. Mike bank rolls the whole operation so its truly a family business in every sense of the word!

This was another of his money making ideas. He and Colin were hosting and animal cage fight. They were selling tickets and taking bets. Yep, that's right. He was pretending to be a booky. I'm telling you this boy is genius! He was even talking about odds on each animal!

And, because its me and I can barely complete a thought I am finishing this post a few days later. Raph LOVED his field trip and said the only thing he didn't like about his job was when 25 kids came all at once with their pay checks and wanted them cashed at the same time. But, lucky for him, his supervisor said it was his turn for a break. Know what that little bugger did? He turned to the kids with their checks and said, "Sorry, I'm on break. I can't help you." BAAHAHHAaAahhahaa Spoken like a true union worker.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Balance


Its been over a month since my last post. I'm having a problem currently with "balance". As you know I'm a restless stay-at-home-mom. I can't just be. I have to do. Its not entirely bad because my entire world doesn't revolve around my kids, just most of it. I'm just not very good at finding the appropriate balance. I juggle things and drop things and forget things and neglect things. There are a few main points I need to get right.

*Daily kid duties: This is the general grind that I have down fairly well. Get them up dressed, off to school. Lunches made or fed, sports practice, homework, bathing, etc. The only problem with this is that one sick or crabby kid can derail this well oiled machine and put us all in a tizzy.

*Housework: This is just all drudgery that has to be done. The laundry bin always has clothes in it. I can wash, sort and put away all of it and then magically be half full in an instant. In general my house is pretty neat but its not clean. And even if I did wash the floors daily they would still just get dirty instantly. Its so defeating to clean. It really is. Plus Heidi might be quiet for a few minutes and you find her putting an entire tube of toothpaste on the wall. Yes, she has done that multiple times recently. Its FUN! Or I have the problem where I start something only to leave it half finished and then it hangs over my head. Might as well not start if you can't finish right? Then there is the financial end of everything. I do all of it and that's a job in and of itself.

*Business : I do have my own business to run, so I have to find time to create, market and ship the products. This can take as little or as much time as I want but I get frustrated when life makes it impossible. I would like to spend more time on it but said time is very limited. I resent the part of my life that doesn't let me get *away* to work. I've tried to set aside time on a regular basis to work on it but its difficult b/c then something else slides. I have time in the afternoon while Heidi sleeps but Colin is home not sleeping. What usually happens is that he plays some computer games or watches TV. He helps me sometimes but that makes my work harder at the same time and less productive. I feel guilty b/c I'm torn and he's neglected etc etc etc. Vicious cycle, no?

*Exercise: I've been putting an honest effort into getting regular, good exercise into my schedule. I go to the Y semi-regularly but I need more than just 30 min on the AMT and a little strength training. I recently ordered a set of DVDs. I've failed in the past with DVDs for home exercise but I think this one is different b/c its finite. Don't laugh...well, laugh if you must its ok. I laugh at myself as well. I ordered the Brazil Butt Lift. Whatever, I need to tone my ass and this does the job! I also started running again. After a 15 year break (I ruined my legs in high school and quit running. Just taking a hard step hurt my shins for years so no need to run). I figure I had healed enough so I could run again. I did just fine for the first few weeks, then I stepped on the tread mill last week and that old pain was back on the first step. I have friend who is a physical therapist along with her husband. She treats MS patients and he works with runners and athletes. He met me at the Y, creeped and watched me run. Turns out I have bad form and some weak muscles. I took my shoes off and ran with him and he showed me how to step...more prancy less banging. Voila! No pain at all. Amazing right? And, mock my butt lift DVDs but they are strengthening the muscles I lack in my hips that contribute to my pain. So, now I can start out very slowly (he said no more than 1/2 mile at a time) while I develop a new set of muscles and train myself to run differently. I will get stronger and be able to work myself back up to the distance I was already running and beyond. Plus I will have a nice tight ass and abs from the DVDs!

*Meal planning and groceries: This is always a struggle for me. I want to save as much money as I can yet buy good quality food. Plus our kids have various food allergies and are a general pain in the ass to feed. Mike and I are following the diet plans with our workout routines which is good but requires lots of high quality food. Good, but again expensive. In addition to the regular food stuff we are really making a concerted effort to have our kids eat as normally as possible. Seems stupid but its not. When your first born has numerous food allergies they learn to eat very differently. You can't just feed a baby a little of whatever you are having. It all has to be special and separate. Then even though he has outgrown his allergies (save peanuts) he's spent 7 years NOT eating certain things. He has real food phobias and rightly so. Then there is the trickle down effect when Colin came along with no allergies. "How come Raph gets X and I have to eat Y?" Then you have a third kid with even more restricted allergies and it all goes to hell. So. I'm left with 3 kids eating 3 different things plus I get bored with food and try new recipes all the time so Mike and I have something different? I don't think so. We've been gradually forcing the issue and there are less and less complaints and tantrums about food. You eat what I give you or you can have breakfast tomorrow. Eat everything and you can have whatever you want afterwards. Dessert is occasional. Anyway, its going well and hopefully if Heidi ever outgrows wheat we can actually eat out as a family. Crazy right?



*Kid time: You know, quality time with my children and discipline the other side of the pendulum. It seems that half the time, when you aren't super involved in anything they are busy with their own thing and when you are busy they are up your butt. Like dinner. Dear children STOP IT! Do you want to eat dinner?? Then there are the times when you have a little down time but you have 8 million things to do but really you should just spend it with your kids. Its hard b/c you still have to pay bills and make dinner and whatnot. Not to mention discipline is a lot of work. If you want well mannered kids who aren't overly self involved it takes some real effort. Sometimes you just don't even care anymore b/c you are tired of the fight. But, I will have you know I have one kid (Raph) who regularly says "Yes Ma'am." or "No Ma'am." Woohoo! The other two are a work in progress.

*Husband time: We are married and a couple. We've been together for 15 years but sometimes life is such that you are kind of like two moons orbiting the same planet. You wave hello now and then but you are always moving in different directions. This week has been like that and this morning I started my quest for a sitter. (BTW, WHY are good sitters so hard to find and never available on a whim?) I told Mike I was getting a sitter for Saturday and he asked where we were going. Don't know, don't care. Out. We can't swing the regular Saturday date night but we try to go out once a month or so. Sometimes its more and sometimes its less. I just feel the need for it now. Time to focus on each other not what needs to be done.


*Friends and Hobbies: I have friends. I'd like to keep them. I'd like to make new friends even. I had someone bring up a dinner club with them and some other people. I loved the idea and yet I was immediately filled with dread. That would require feeding MY children. Pickiness aside, eating the wrong thing can have serious medical consequences for Heidi. Raph obviously can't have peanuts but that's easy enough to avoid and most people are cautious when you tell them. So, for now, dinner clubs are out. Just too hard. But on a smaller scale it can work! I like BBQ season b/c the kids can play outside and the grown ups hang out on the deck while the food cooks. Winter sucks.

I have hobbies too. I like photography. I take lots and lots of pictures. I'd like to take more and I'd like to edit them more. I downloaded a free trial of Lightroom and I'm in love. Now I just have to justify coughing up the money for the paid version of my own. I have a hard time paying for stuff like that when it could buy a lot of groceries. I have a stupid number of started or yet to be started scrapbooks. As with most people in the digital era I have thousands of pictures on file but few printed. Why is it just so hard to print them?? And along those lines I have lots of decorating ideas for our house. But they, like my pictures, remain ideas. The expense and time just seems daunting. But those ideas hang over my head as does everything else that is unfinished or never started.

I have a blog. I have ideas for it but when can I write? Even this post took about 5 attempts to finish. Its hard for me when I can't sit down and finish something so why start??

This is what is on my mind. How do you balance all of that in a way that is good for everyone involved. I feel like I'm stretched very thin and a sneeze might knock everything over. I could do ONE thing really well but if I have to do all of it? Its all done in a half hazard way that isn't very good yet I don't know what I can take out and still be whole.

As my friend Erin stated recently, its all just a bunch of first-world, middle-class sob stories. It feels good to get it out though. Oh and today while Heidi napped Colin did the Brazil Butt Lift with me. He's going to have a toned bootie and abs too!