Thursday, January 27, 2011

I want money, lots and lots of money...

Another snow day here. Another avenue I'm going down looking at things in my life.
Today's task? Looking at the balance of money coming into the house, and money going out.

We do not live a life of luxury in many regards, but we don't do without, either.
We have good jobs, god salaries, but... SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!!!

My bi-weekly pay cheque covers the following of our expenses:
-- mortgage
-- childcare
-- 1 of 2 vehicle payments
-- gas for SUV
-- School expenses (lunch $, etc)
-- milk
-- my massage/chiro fees
-- my line of credit which "paid" for my Masters degree

My pay also has our medical and dental benefits taken off of it.

That leaves DH to pay for with his pay cheque:
-- groceries
-- second vehicle payment
-- insurances
-- yard maintenance fees (snow removal, etc)
-- power
-- phone
-- internet
-- his own gas

These are just the daily / weekly / monthly expenses.

It's expensive to live in Canada!

So, after this exercise in depression, would I like to win the lottery? Hell, yeah!
But the sad part is, to win $1 million wouldn't be enough for both of us to quit our jobs, as once was the way not so long ago!

But to be truthful, to win $100,000 would be more than enough for us.

Does anyone have really good budgeting ideas?
How do you make ends meet? Or can you?
How do single parent or single income families do it?

I wanna be a millionaire, so freaking' bad....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I'm Ready to Pull My Hair Out

No, really! I am. In fact at just about any given moment during the day, I am ready to pull my hair out. Actually it's just one strand. One bumpy strand that I've discovered out of a few.

I "play", "pull", "tug" at my hair. It drives many people crazy -- my mother, husband, some co-workers, some students,sometimes even my daughter. But they don't get it.

This hair pulling I do is my vice. It's my relaxation, my stress reducer, my pastime. I do it most often when I'm driving.

It all started when I was in my early teens; I'm not sure how it started, but I was always one of habits (nail biting, picking at my skin, etc). I think I was about 14 or 15 when I went with my mother to her hairdresser for a trim of my hair and she asked me what I was doing. I had a patch about the size of a quarter that was pretty near bald on the top of my head. (It still is afavourite hair pulling spot. That and the left side of my head just above my ear.) I didn't even realize I had pulled until there was a bald spot. My mother started freaking out,
"See, I told you! Stop pulling your hair!"
(she wasn't too supportive or discreet about it; that's just her way.) I don't think I stopped. I think I may have simply stopped pulling out many hairs from that one spot.

Then, I remember in grade 12 a group of friends did a science fair project on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). One of the parts of OCD they highlighted was something called trichotillomania. Wow. Did I see myself in that aspect of their project! After that, I noticed that more and more people would mention this "disorder" to me. As I changed hairdressers throughout the years, each would bring it up when they noticed me in the sitting area waiting for my appointment.
To add to my confirmation, my sister was once diagnosed with mild OCD (her's has to do with cleaning. Wish I could have gotten a bit of that...). Hhhmmmm.... maybe there was a reason for this thing I do...

So, anyway. It's called trochotillomania. I can pull a piece of hair 3 times while saying the word. LOL I don't think I need to be medicated or anything for it. It's part of me. If it bothers you, then don't watch me do it. (I've said that a thousand times in my life.)
Enjoy this part of my impulsive self ;)

FYI: More information about hair pulling, especially in children, can be found at: Kids

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How Twitter Is Making Me a Better Mom...

Sounds strange, doesn't it? How could "all that time" I spend on twitter -- between my blackberry, my iPad, computer -- make me a better mom?

Most people I know don't really get Twitter. They can't figure it out, see its point or purpose; but for me, twitter has really opened my eyes. In twitter I've found a large, vast network of moms who are looking to try and balance life just like me. Some of them are self-employed, some are stay-at-home moms, and some are otherwise employed, like me. What unites us is we all have our "moments" when we need to vent, and bitch, and simply get something off our chests.  But that's not our only 140 characters.

In my twitter feed, I'm constantly reminded of little things that make the mom/parenting job important. Because of twitter, I now bake more (a little more, but it's a start). It's something I'm enjoying. I'm sharing the experience with my daughter, and the whole family gets to eat the rewards! Moms like @caffeinated_mom, @theamberness, and others are always posting their tasty creations. This had me thinking: if they can juggle their time to do this, why can't I? I simply got off my arse and gave it a try!

Moms like @acraftymom and @somekindofmom are teachers like me. We can bounce ideas off of one another, seek each other for support. This means less "shop talk" with my hubby, which allows me to focus my energies at home on other topics.

Throughout my twitter feed each day I see so many tweets of the various activities children are in. Everything from Family and Speed Skating, to dance, gymnastics, and even robotics. While I search for finding a way to balance working, driving great distances and encouraging my children (mainly DD at this stage) to be involved in extracurricular activities, I'm intrigued to try a little harder to get DD to try a few more options.

My tweeps also afford me many links and quick ideas to use as a mom. From organizing ideas, to decor ideas, tips for reading with my children, app suggestions, craft ideas, etc, etc. it never ceases to amaze me what I can learn each day on here. Every day I can find something new to try with my children, or something new to help with managing my home. My favorites list just keeps growing and growing.

Then there's the blog posts. Wow -- the wealth of perspective and experience in those blog posts. I've laughed and cried while reading some of those posts by the many people I follow. Some have made me realize how fortunate I am to live where I live, have the family I've got, the health I've got. Others have made me green with envy in all sorts of ways. Talking about stopping to relfect; stoping and smelling the roses! But, at the end of the day, when I'm logging off and setting my head down on my pillow, I can always glance back and think,

"Thanks, tweeps... you've made my day in some way once again today."

Friday, January 14, 2011

When a teacher inservice resonates more from the parent point of view

This week I attended a provincial professional development session on science in the elementary classroom. While the whole day was spent looking at the ways that science can be integrated effectively into the curriculum, one topic stood out for me:

The facilitator told us, the teachers, to give science homework every night .
15 minutes.
Every night.

What was this homework?

Look up at the night sky; look at the stars. Question. Discuss.
Look at the sun setting or rising. Question. Discuss.
Go for a walk. Pick up leaves, twigs, rocks, dirt, worms. Question. Discuss.
Throw a ball in the air. Watch it fall back down to the ground. Question. Discuss.
Play with the water in the tub. Use different size bottles. Question. Discuss.

How simple is that homework? How often do we, as parents (and as teachers), forget to value the simple things in life. Even more importantly, in today's world, children tend to look to the internet, or TV, or video games for the answers to any questions they have... if they even question.

The greatest scientists, explorers, inventors all had insatiable wonder. They played, made mistakes, wondered, questioned, and questioned, and questioned.

Try to find the inner scientist in your child. It doesn't take much to foster, but it can quickly fade away...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The ever popular "Snow Day"

My husband swears that as part of my education in becoming a teacher I became a meteorologist. While I disagree wholeheartedly, I can tell you that I've sat glued in front of the Weather Network's forecasts in giddy anticipation of the tight isobars and the red weather warnings going across the top of my tv screen. As a student -- way back when -- the anticipation of a snow day meant one thing: playing for the whole day outside! (It did not mean sleeping in.) Then, as I got older -- junior/senior high age -- it meant days of comfy jammies and reading, reading, reading, all day long.

Enter now into my professional life. Before I had children of my own, a snow day meant sleeping in, lounging around watching the tv I never get to watch and usually planning some lessons or doing some correcting. Oftentimes, it meant a huge scoff prepared for my hubby for supper that evening, maybe even with some baking thrown in for good measure.

Much like today, Kids and teachers alike would banter and rally together for that possible day off. I was a music teacher not too long ago; I created and taught my students a snow dance and song to help bring on snow days. The usual traditions of wearing pjs inside out to bed, putting mittens, ice, any number of things, under one's pillow didn't seem to be enough for us all. We did the snow dance, too. It caught on, because, ironically, it worked for one whole school year. Whenever the students and I would do it, we'd get the next day off. Embarrassingly, it has spread to several other schools with its popularity. LOL

Another snow day tradition was started by a friend of mine. Whenever a storm day would happen, he always found that the weather would clear by noon, and he'd be off to Walmart... which his grandmother called "The Woolco" (Walmart is located in the former Woolco's location). Thus, he started putting a Woolco symbol as his Facebook profile picture on the eve of a storm. His colleagues have found solace in his "flag" and so he "raises the Woolco flag" in hopes of storm days. It's fun.

A recent news program spoke of schools NOT closing due to inclement weather. The discussion had to do with students missing too much class time and the option of simply allowing buses not to operate on these days. Whomever gets to school, learns. THose who do not get theere, well... til tomorrow, I guess. We discussed this in the staffroom over lunch one day. There were some interesting points:
a) 100% of the students at our school are bussed. What would happen in that scenario?
b) If RCMP / police are urging people to stay off the roads and teachers are required to head out on those roads to report to school, that's 10,000 people in our area on the road, some of whom are traveling long distances on likely unploughed roads (been there, done that MANY times)
c) If only 2 of a normal class of 20 showed up on these non-snow days, what kind of constuctive learning / teaching would take place? WOuldn't it be a "wasted day" anyway?
d) What would happen if there was an accident on the way to school? Ultimately it IS the parents' decision whether or not to send their child to school, but could the transport to school for a teacher be considered something under Occupational Health and Safety?

There are many angles, many sides to the debate.
As a mom and a teacher, I'm still going to hold on to the hope for the snow day. The thoughts of having a day to play in the snow with my kids for the whole day sounds just right to me! Heck, when I was on mat leave with my daughter, I still got giddy with hearing of a snow day. I can't shake that feeling, sorry!

Happy Snow Day, to you!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A happy place

backyard view on a snowy day
I'm sitting here at the big dining room table (in the room we call "the porch") with a big mug of King Cole tea, a KitKat Chunky, and silence. Outside I can see the snow really coming down; finally making this place look like a winter wonderland (one of the ways I love it the most).
The 5 year old is outside making snow angels on the deck and shoveling all at once (it is possible!). She's patiently waiting for Daddy to emerge from the garage to build a snowman and then go for a trek in the woods with the walkie talkies! The little man is in his crib for a nap.

This moment, right now, is my happy place. I have others: going for a mosquito free walk on a summer's evening with the ipod and a camera; a long drive with a Tim Horton's coffee and my camera ready to snap anything that may seem the remote bit odd or interesting; standing at the back of a hall in the backwoods of Cape Breton listening to a fiddler really drive'er on some tunes (well, and dancing a square set to those tunes); being at my husband's childhood home looking up at the night sky which always seems to have that little extra touch of magic for some reason; seeing the lightbulbs go off for students in my class when they've found something particularly frustrating; sitting at the edge of my seat in the third period of a really good, rough, nail-biter hockey game (that one just came to mind compliments of the Little Man in his crib hollering "hockey!" -- go to sleep, mister)...

My happy places don't consist of much. They're not something money can buy; they are moments . They don't usually last long, but they are mine.

Cheers to you and your happy place...

Monday, January 3, 2011

Letters to old and new friends...

So, a new year should warrant some wonderful, insightful new post, right?
Pfft. I'm drawing a blank.

So instead I'll impart some random reflections on 2010 & thoughts on the year ahead.

Dear 2010:
You were gut-wrenchingly hard emotionally at times. You kicked my profession ass, sent me spirally down roads I didn't know were there. While I hated the journey you took me on, I'm now grateful as I've found a renewed love for teaching. So, in the most awkward, backwards, still eating at my heart way -- thank you.

You had my little boy turn 1, my daughter start school. While I don't appreciate you necessitating those milestones, again, I thank you. The smiles, memories, laughs and challenges have been second to none. Thank you.

I learned a lot from you this year. Professionally, personally... in so many ways. It was probably the first time I can really look back on a year and say thank you and shake my head all at once.

Dear 2011:
You're unknown to me. I look forward to embracing what you have in store for me and my family. I'm a wiser, more considerate, more thankful person than the one who started last year. I'm ready.

I'm not one to resolve to much. But I will let you know that I will make some smaller changes to the day-to-day operations of my life. That is all. These minor changes will likely evolve, change and be fluid themselves. That's how I roll now!

So, 2011... nice to meet you. Please be kind. Bring me smiles and laughter, patience and endurance. I'm sure we'll be good friends.