In between overdoing it

Archive for May, 2015

Summer, Sunshine, the Smell of Flowers and a Hammock

hammock2Here is an update to my “Crappy Situation” post. I went with a locally owned company called Scoop De Doo and I am so overjoyed with the results. For the first time in about a year, I was able to comfortably sit in my backyard and not worry about stepping in a “landmine.”

We got out the hammock and enjoyed the past two evenings …outside. Instead of watching TV indoors. I can not say how happy I am about the decision to outsource. The amount of time and hassle it has saved me and the joy of more space has been wonderful.

Let me just add that another awesome bi-product of this experiment is that I have not turned the TV on all weekend. Yes, I’m sad to admit that I am one of those mom who will, on occasion, use Disney channel as a momentary babysitter so I can do the dishes, cook dinner and take a shower.

But my kids have been happily playing and reading during the day, in between our outings. At night we have been able to spend quality time outside, playing and laughing together. We are creating summer memories and if I had never done this I would never have had the time or want to be outside. I think outsourcing will become a weapon in my battle to find balance. And as always, it will have to be used in moderation.

(No one was compensated for this post I am just really happy with the service)

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Graduation Cake #2

vpk graduation 2015 059 This cake was created for a musically inclined graduate, who likes the color purple. Hope she enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed making it.

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On the way to play

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “On the Way.”My daughter on her way to the top!!

The best in-between moments are those found in play

The best in-between moments are those found in play

Back to Budget Basics

budget2

Where is my money going? I have no idea anymore, but it’s going. That’s bad…very bad. Moderation in spending is definitely an area I want to address. Steven Drucker said “What gets measured, gets managed.” So I figure the first place to start is with my weak budgeting skills.

After my first child, I was following the Dave Ramsey baby steps and was having a decent amount of success. I learning a lot from his program. However, once I had my second child, moved, and started a new position with a new schedule all that changed. I could not longer keep up with tracking and entering information into a budget. I could barely keep up with the laundry. (There it is again, the laundry monster.) So five years and many expenses later I strive to find balance in this area. I yearn to learn back the skill of spending in moderation, so I can do more saving. money3

From what I have discovered, there are three major ways to organize a budget:

1) Written Ledger : Growing up my dad kept all his financial allocations and banking info in a black and white composition book. In this ledger style, sometimes old school is the best school. It’s easy to carry with you. Low in cost (just the cost of a notebook and a pencil), and simple to keep up with. No bells and whistles, but not susceptible to on-line viruses or power-outages. However, this option seems a little to low-tech for me. I don’t want to start from scratch. I’m looking for a little more guidance.

2) Envelopes : This was the Dave Ramsey way, and quite frankly it works for most people. You put a specified amount for a category of spending and when it’s gone… It’s gone. It defiantly teaches how to limit spending and choice your purchases wisely. This plan worked for me five years ago. But now, well, I never have cash on hand. I rarely make it to the bank and I don’t use ATM. This ends up creating more hassle and work to get to the bank, so I never keep the right amount in the envelope to start with. It just didn’t work for my situation and this time in my life.

3) Spreadsheets: This might work great for those into getting really technical about tracking their spending, but this method might requires a more involved software purchase then I am willing to make right now. Although, I have seen downloadable PDF versions. For some reason, however, going through the trouble of filling in and printing out a spreadsheet does not appeal to me. I just imagine all the waste of paper and time in organization.

So this leads me to a third and best option (I think) free, online budgeting. There are several different services available However, which one is best to meet the needs of a busy working mother with a layman view of accounting and finance? In the coming months I will test out and review four on-line programs, Mint.com, Everydollar.com, Budgettracker.com, and BudgetSimple.com .

budgetI will test out one per month and give a weekly summery of the good and bad from my perspective. Hopefully, this will be a benefit to others and help my get back on track with my budgeting. If you have used these programs leave me a comment, let me know what you think?

Graduation in the School of Life

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Many people believed that spring is a time of growth and change. I see summer as that time. Both my children have birthdays in summer. During summer they have the unscheduled freedom of independent learning and play. This is when I notice the most growth in them, physically and emotionally.

This is also the time that one school year ends (May/June) and another begins (August down here, which is technically still summer.) The transition from grade to grade begins and ends with it’s own set of changes. This year in particular we have a lot of graduations to participate in, pre-school, middle school high school, college.

This got me thinking the idea of graduating doesn’t have to be a formal event. Each person has phases of learning in life from which the graduate. We learn, grow and then graduate to the next level of learning and growth.

To graduate literally means to move up, move on, to leave where you were, be it schooling, a job, or location, and move to the next level. I think the same can be said for a graduation of emotions. Sometimes you have been on a path (or in a rut) for so long you don’t recognize that it’s time to move up, to challenge yourself.

pathThen one day that path ends. That journey is complete. You learned your needed lessons for that experience and it’s time to move on, to move up, to graduate. This time of year with all the thought of school graduation, it is also a time to reflect on your own life and ask yourself, “What areas of my life do I feel I’m ready to graduate from?”

Thin Mint Cookie Pudding Popsicle

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Last summer while cruising Pinterest, I became obsessed with the amazing incarnations available in homemade Popsicle. The creativity and variety that people came up with was astounding. These summery “sicles” were colorful and could be made with less sugar and additives then any packaged brands. Plus, they took very little time to prepare. The hardest part was waiting for them to freeze. This year I tried my had at creating my own.

It starts with your basic pudding pop recipe

4 cups milk

2 – 1 oz package of instant pudding

To this I crushed up some Thin Mint cookies I had in my freezer. I have also done this with Oreo cookies and they tasted awesome.  Mix the cookie bits into the pudding and pour into molds. That’s it. Just freeze and enjoy for a perfect summer treat.

Here is my Popsicle inspiration board on Pinterest

A “Crappy” Situation

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Here’s the warning on this post. It is not very pretty. In fact it’s kinda crappy…

Dog Crappy

This weekend, my kids wanted to play in our backyard. Actually, my son begged to play baseball in the yard. I shamefully had to tell him no. Not because it was to hot. Not because I was tired. I had not done my duty…(get it dooody??) and picked up after the dogs.

What does this have to do balance and moderation. Well, I’m glad you asked! In trying to balance house cleaning, cooking, working full-time ect..some things have to go. (Get it go….???) One of those things was maintaining the yard.

My son’s request made me feel pressured to add the yard work back into my already overloaded to-do list. Feeling guilty and lazy, like I was depriving my little boy of cherished, childhood memories in his backyard. I wrestled with the thought of fitting yard work in, knowing if I did I would be rushed, resentful and not in a “lets play baseball” kinda mood.

Then I thought back to a podcast I had heard from Chalene Johnson, ( Love her!) where she introduced the idea of outsourcing her laundry. (Laundry is also a reoccurring theme in my life) Like a lightbuld hovering over my head, I thought “Hey, I can do that with the dog poo!”

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Outsourcing could be the key to a more happy, balanced and productive life. After a few internet searches for local vendors I found the price was surprisingly affordable running about $10 per week, and about $13 every other week, so I could stay within my budget. (More on this June 1). I think that the time I would win back and being able to use my yard again would make this a great investment.

So begins another experiment in balance and moderation. Hopefully, this will work out and get me out of a pretty “crappy” situation. I’ll let you know. ( Sorry about the 3rd grade bathroom humor, I just couldn’t help myself.)

To hear Chalene’s Podcast go to http://www.chalenejohnson.com/podcasts/a-day-in-the-life-of-me/

In Between Moderation

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