Making it

It’s pretty easy to crop out the mess or edit the words to spin the story into a fairytale, especially on social media. When you don’t have time for people to come over, the chances are low that anyone will know what it’s really like inside your house, or even your life. My life is so busy right now that I’d guess very few people actually know what’s going on. Almost every day I’m battling a new “fire” at work and I usually haven’t fully fixed the last one yet. It’s emotionally and physically draining. One day a few weeks ago, I sat outside in the quiet and just watched the sky. The fighting and crying inside was shut out and I wasn’t responsible for anything for those blissful 10 minutes. After putting in 30 something hours in three days, I was done and the week was only half over. The days are long and the years are short. I get that. When you feel like you’re in an awful version of Groundhog’s Day, it’s not very reassuring. It’s super hard without an end in sight.

It’s hard to say the same things to your children day-after-day when you don’t feel like they get it. Constantly teaching them not to fight, to share things, to not yell, and to use words when they get mad. It’s exhausting. I’m sure it’s exhausting to be inside a 2-year-old body also, but it doesn’t look like he’s exhausted. It looks like he has endless energy. It looks like he’s a runner when we’re in public places, has endless lung capacity, only has one volume {LOUD!}, and does everything we don’t want him to do. I look at my newly turned 5-year-old and see that it does go fast, but then I wonder how the years will go the second time around. Because this time we’re dealing with all kinds of things that we didn’t have to “handle” the first time. And for the sake of sleep, please stop waking up so early! Not only does he need more sleep, but so do the rest of us.

If you ask me how it’s going and my response is anything but “good,” know that I’m surviving by taking it one day at a time. They may not be glorious days, but I’m making it through the best way I can. Some days that means trying to yell over them so they will listen and other days that means running away to the deck for some quiet. Oh yeah, and some days it means coffee.

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Creating a Will and Power of Attorney

For some unknown reason {life being crazy}, I wrote this post in the beginning of 2014 and never posted it. I suppose it’s fitting since we talking about doing it for two years and it took me a year to post it…

After two years of talking about it, we finally signed our Will and Power of Attorney. We went to our lawyer to do our Will and Power of Attorney documents. We decided to go to him even though there are plenty of forms online. It’s an uncomfortable conversation and thing to do, so we decided to work with a professional to ensure we did everything the right way and we thought everything through.

Steps in getting your Will done:
First, we had a face-to-face meeting to have our lawyer go over the standard Will and Power of Attorney. We answered his questions and made decisions so he could draft up the documents.

    • Who will have custody of the children? Who has financial responsibility (if it’s not the same person)? What happens to the money – does it go into a trust? At what age do children get their share of money? How do you split up shares of money between children?
  1. Before he drafted the documents, we each had conversations with individuals who we wanted to be on the Will or Power of Attorney. (We each have our own Power of Attorney that falls back onto our respective parents if the spouse is not able to act as Power of Attorney.)
  2. Review the documents for questions or changes.
  3. Go into the office and sign them in front of a witness.
  4. Purchase a safety deposit box.
  5. Put the Will in the safety deposit box.
  6. Put the Power of Attorney documents in our Legacy notebook. (Step 6b. Create a Legacy notebook.)*

We’re still working on items five and six. We may need to set a goal for ourselves given our history between steps three and four. 🙂

*What’s a Legacy notebook? It’s a central location for all the important stuff. For example, we have legacy folders for each of our children. This includes doctor phone numbers, medical records, etc. What we haven’t done yet is create a legacy folder for our family. Essentially, this is all the information that someone will need if something were to happen to the spouse who handles all of the finances and mortgage, etc., or if something happens to both of us. These folders should help others run our house and family. Something we didn’t know before, the Power of Attorney document goes in our home, where someone can access it quickly and easily. In a critical situation, you don’t want someone to wait for bank hours to get into a safety deposit box.

What’s next?

After we put all of our documents in their designated safe places, we need to update our electronic records. We need to update our human resource files to reflect the secondary beneficiary. We will update it to be the trust name. So, the primary is our spouse and secondary is our trust. Because we have the trust set up, it will ensure that money is handled in the manner we decided. We also need to update our life insurance policy for a secondary beneficiary and also our IRA profiles. Essentially, we need to update everything to reflect the trust as a secondary beneficiary so everything points to the Will as the dictating piece. Instead of each system reflecting something different. I assume this information can be found online, but this has proven to be one of the biggest reasons why choosing a professional was the right thing for us. We’re in unknown waters now and don’t know how everything works for (or against) each other.

It was hard reading that first draft of our Will and Power of Attorney. No one wants to think about the unexpected turns life can take, but I feel a huge sense of relief knowing that there’s a plan. If the unexpected does happen, I can live every day until then knowing what will happen with my children and family. It’s not a fun thing to consider, but it is so very important.

My final note: I am in no way an expert (and obviously not a professional!) on this matter. This is my experience as I understand it based on our situation. If anything, hopefully it brings up some questions about how or what you need to consider. And gives you enough information to seek out a professional. I know it’s easy to do things with the Internet, but it’s not always the best way to handle legal matters. Pay a professional to know their job and to take care of you!

5 Reasons Why Falling off the Budget Wagon Sucks

It’s no secret that Dave Ramsey lives in my house. Even if we don’t have a budget set for the month, he’s still in these four walls. Here’s the thing about not having a monthly budget, he’s here in a not fun way. I know it’s a reflection of his principles and our belief in them that causes the guilt, but man, the guilt. I’m too afraid to look back to the last month that we actually made a budget, but I’m pretty sure it’s been a good six months. Here’s the thing, some months (most?) it worked in our favor. Meaning, we didn’t spend more than we would have wanted to. That doesn’t mean we don’t still feel guilty.

  1. Guilt. Even when you don’t spend too much money, you still feel guilty that you spent any because it wasn’t accounted for and tracked. I think, for the most part, when we don’t create a budget we get in each other’s heads and go into extreme savings mode. We assume that since we aren’t tracking the money, then we don’t have it to spend. Which in turn makes more guilt when you do spend money. Money that you probably have to spend. But, you don’t know that because you didn’t create a monthly budget. You see where I’m going with this?! When you live like no one else, you can’t turn it on and off. You have to commit and be diligent.
  2. Miss goals. We’ve missed some family & financial goals over the past few months. The irony is that it’s not because we spent the money. It’s because we weren’t focused on our monies or goals. We could have started projects sooner, but we were in this self-inflicted feeling of not having any money. We didn’t realize that our savings had reached the point of moving forward with the project. When we got antsy to move on projects, then we had to spend extra time going over every dollar and figuring out if we really could start. Just because we saw the money, didn’t mean we hadn’t missed something else over the past few months. It wasn’t a complete setback, but it still took a lot of time and mental willingness to move forward.
  3. Inaccurate spend. There have been a few changes to our normally line items over the past few months. For instance, we’ve spent the past six weeks carpooling and are driving a shorter distance. We have absolutely no idea what our gasoline budget is for the month. One, because we aren’t sure what an accurate amount was when we stopped budgeting. And, we didn’t do a budget last month so we have to do some research on spend last month to predict this month. Again, time wasted. Another item is our grocery spend. We’ve been buying most of our groceries out of the organic section and with it being summer we’re going through a lot more fruit. This is another item that has been ongoing for quite a while and we don’t know where it’s at. Each monthly budget is based on the past month and then things coming up this month. We can’t accurately plan without knowing how these line items have shifted. More time wasted.
  4. Failed savings. We said this winter that we needed to start Quinten’s college savings fund. It’s July and we haven’t done it yet. Nor have we investigated to see if we’re doing the same thing as we do for Maximus. It’s one of those unchecked items that continues to linger in the background. Adding to the guilt in item one. We rarely move money from one savings account to something else, so even though we’ve been saving money that could be for his college, we haven’t been. We work under the philosophy that the accounts stay as they are and money doesn’t getting taken out of them. If we want something new, we add it to the goal list and save up for it. Or, we look at our monthly spend and add it to the current or next month. {This philosophy is probably what makes us end those non-budgeted months with more in savings than we thought!}

As you can see, we’re spending July getting back on track. We’ve put our Excel budget spreadsheet on hold and are testing out a new budget app that we put our monthly budget into and then track our spend. So far we like it. It helps us see what we have left to spend on each line item and I enjoy seeing the pie charts of categories. July is always a tough month because of summer life and Maximus’ birthday. We know it’s coming, but that unexpected extra spend always gets us. Like, how much should we really spend?? We’re 4 1/2 years into this financial journey and we still have a hard time staying focused. I can tell this is going to be a lifelong journey!

What are your tricks to staying focused on your budget?

Our little boys of summer

The little boys of Leger Lane, like children everywhere, love the outdoors. When Maximus was 18-months old he used to sit at the sliding glass door and cry because it was winter and he couldn’t go outside. Quinten, at 2 1/2, is almost always out on the deck when it’s raining. Their love has no bounds.

Chasing a caterpillar into hiding

Chasing a caterpillar into hiding

EVERYONE in the house was excited once the weather got warmer this spring. Everyone. There are only so many toys you can play with in the house and chances are high that you will fight over a toy with your brother. Or maybe that’s just our house? 😉

Our favorite summer activities:

  • Play in the backyard – dig in the dirt and move dirt from one spot to the next
  • Play in the sprinkler
  • Go to the pool
  • Go to the park
  • Go for walks – ok, not Maximus’ favorite, but the rest of us like it!
  • Play baseball – not a surprise if you know my family! 🙂

Bryan and I have a shared favorite activity this summer – riding our bikes! It’s a little difficult to find time to ride together, but I’m excited that he shares my love of riding! I’d also put softball on my favorites list. It’s always been one of my favorites, but this year I’m having a lot more fun and enjoying it more than usual.

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Lunchtime ride

Maximus put together a Summer Fun list, which I dictated. Later, he made me add go on a Vacation to China. “Have we been to China?” “No, we went to Minnesota.” “Oh yah, put that on the list, too.” Apparently Bryan’s work trips to China are nothing but fun and also the only place to buy Cars t-shirts. #priorities

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2015 Summer Fun

We’ve gotten a good start on our Summer Fun list and are about half done, minus the China vacation. We’ve spent more hours outside than inside. We’ve missed bath night more times than I can count. Or rather, we’ve gone more nights without a bath than the number of times they’ve been clean this summer. The boys have gotten into a routine of wearing their clothes to bed {and don’t always put fresh clothes on the next day}. They fight bedtime because it’s very much still light out when they go to bed. And they wake up far earlier than anyone should because the sun comes out nice and early. We’re loving summer hard and giving it our all. Dirt under our fingernails, sand in our hair, new freckles on our faces, farmer tans on little arms, and skinned knees are the proof. We’re unanimously voting for 12 months of summer!

Setting yourself up to succeed at work and home

Some days it’s really hard to leave work behind at the end of the day. I’ve put together some of my tricks to walking away without feeling guilty about it. Because let’s be honest, some days you leave work and feel guilty about not getting something specific done or just more done in general. You leave wondering what you even accomplished that day. And some days you’re blessed with the gift of productivity and it’s really easy to leave the office. So here are the things that I’m trying to do to make it easier to leave at the end of the day.

WHAT I DO DURING THE DAY

  • Plan your day. As often as my schedule allows, I start the morning by looking at the things I have to get done and map out my day to make it a reality.
  • Be realistic about what you can get done in a day. I’ve failed a lot. It’s usually when I map out my day minute-by-minute. At one time I thought the definition of productive was having every minute assigned. I added in break times to run to the bathroom or get a snack. However, I quickly learned that a phone call, email, or drop-in can get you off track real fast. And then I felt like I had failed in my tasks for the day. Allow those unknowns to “disrupt” your day.
  • Take a break. Sometimes you need to refocus your brain on something non-work related to get back on track. Go talk to a friend. Walk around your office. Step outside for a few minutes.
  • Leave the office for lunch. On my really stressful days, I leave for lunch. When it’s nice out, I eat my lunch outside and soak up some vitamin D.
  • Give yourself a cutoff time. If you’re like me, the end of the workday is a guide and can easily be ignored. Follow your cutoff rules and you’ll start your night feeling successful about doing one thing. You may feel guilty about not getting something done, but it’s better about not getting it done and not following your cutoff time.

WHAT I DO AT NIGHT

  • Be realistic about what you can or can’t do that evening. I learned that bringing work home when I don’t have time to do it, only makes me feel more guilty and ruins my start to the next day.
  • Set limits to working at night or on the weekend. Sometimes you can’t help it, but don’t get into the routine of working every night. It’s hard to break. It also changes your attitude during the workday. Instead of “get it done now” you think, “I can always do it tonight.”
  • Be present at home. Play with your family or get your home life things done. It makes you feel better and helps you take a breath of something outside of work. In the end, making it easier to get back into work the next day.
  • Be active. I’ve found that a walk with my family can make me forget about all my stress or worries from the day.
  • Eat a healthy meal. The act of cooking or eating something healthy helps me reset my mind. {Because sometimes my husband makes the meals.}
  • Know yourself. Some nights, after the kids go to bed, I need to just be on the couch cruising social media. It’s a waste of a “productive” night, but I don’t let my brain get worked up about it. Sometimes I need the simple act of nothing to recharge.
  • Get more sleep. After a particularly stressful day or week, I go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
  • Get your work done! If you have to work at night, be quick and efficient. I’ve had a number of night working that has kept me up until midnight and then make me unmotivated the next day. Get in and out, no procrastinating!

Relaxing mother-son time

It’s hard to get the right work-life balance. Set yourself up for success so you can leave work with a guilt-free conscious.

Are you for or against breakfast for supper?

Every couple comes to this point in their relationship as father and mother. It happened tonight. The calendar said leftovers and Maximus didn’t want any of them. He just wanted fruit and watermelon (isn’t that fruit?) and a smoothie. He didn’t want meatloaf, chicken fajitas, or hamburger. So we told him he needed to eat something with protein. Peanut butter taco? NO. A cheese stick hot dog? NO. I know, basically four course meals, but we already cooked meals the past few days. That’s the purpose of leftover night. No cooking!

And here’s where you pick a side. You’re either cereal for supper is ok or you’re not. I don’t know that you can convert someone either. It’s a pretty solid line that’s hard to cross.

Here’s the thing, I think I’m right. Breakfast food can be eaten for supper. It’s totally legit. 😃A couple weeks ago Quinten and I had scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches for supper. I loved having pancakes for supper when I was growing up. I know I had them in college, but I’m afraid we haven’t exposed the boys to that awesomeness. And I think it’s because 50% of the adults here don’t think it’s ok to have breakfast for supper.

Maximus, “Can I have cereal?”
Me, “Sure.”
Maximus, “Can you get me the superhero cereal?”
Bryan, “You’re not having cereal for supper. Pick something else.”

And that’s where our opinions differ. I guess I’ll be making some breakfast meals for supper on the nights Bryan is gone. After all, every child should experience pancakes for supper.

Which side of the line are you on? Breakfast ANY Time of the Day or No Way It’s Only for BREAKFAST!

Socks. Lots and lots of socks. 

When I used to get baby and toddler socks, I thought they were so cute. Our most recent gift was a bunch of crew cut mustaches. MUSTACHES! As if my two-year-old could possibly exist without mustache socks. seriously. I don’t even care that the colors don’t match his outfits. They make the outfit. 

Socks. Small socks. They have become my thing. That House Thing that drives me a little nutty. Thankfully, Wrigley could care less about socks. That’s good for our budget and my sanity. 

These little socks are everywhere. Every room I walk into, I see socks. Sometimes next to their mate, but usually strung about hanging out with other misfits. It’s maddening. These socks that are never clearly labeled clean or dirty

People say dryers eat socks. I don’t believe it. My house eats the socks. More specifically, my small children feed their socks to my house. And then they whine and plead for an adult to go get them socks from their room. Quinten is obviously the worst. Having a toddler is a lot like living with royalty until you can teach them to use those little legs and hands to do it themselves. 

Where my socks? Go get them. Get my socks. 

It’s a super cold May day and I’m feeling extra bitter about it. If it wasn’t so cold out, they wouldn’t require socks. If it was nice out, I could put them in boxes! Forever. 

These adorable little sport socks that are inside out and in all the wrong places. Never where we need them to be and probably worn for days at a time. These small socks that are in constant need to be picked up, washed, sorted, matched, and put away. Only to be flung around the house before they make it onto little feet or tossed aside after coming in the house. 

  

These socks.