Financial

Well…back to the real world now; where things aren’t always easy and time keeps marching on anyway. I’ve already posted my physical goals and what work will look like in 2018. I’ve talked about finances some, but need to make some concrete goals to reach.

I will list each goal and when I want to complete it by. I will have little (seemingly easy to attain) goals and a couple that are way out there…as we all know that it is not us that controls how things go!

February 15: $500 baby Emergency fund
March 30: Pay off parenting time expeditor ($267.55)
June 30: $1000 Emergency Fund
December 31: $5000 emergency fund.

Considering $5000 is more than one third of what I brought home all of 2017 (including child support) that’s a HUGE number. I also know that God wants me to succeed, He wants my boys to have security even more than I do.

Yesterday, after listening to lesson two in Financial Peace University and hearing how kids the ages of my boys should start to take some responsibility with finances so they can begin to see how it really works.

It talks about giving them a commission instead of an allowance; meaning it is tied to whatever their job is.

This was easy for me.

For my younger son, who loves hockey and hates practice; his job from now on will be to not complain about attending hockey practice. Each day he goes willingly, he earns $1.00. When I explained this to him, he said goalie practice should be $2.00. Goalie practice is very difficult for him as this is his first year playing in net and he does not do well emotionally when he is not the best at something the first minute he tries it. I agreed, $2.00 for goalie practice. He will also get a $0.50 bonus for any day he goes to open hockey. His skating needs to improve, and only being on the ice will do that.

For my older son, his job is getting all his school work in on time and taking responsibility to show me the online report every day (no report, no money). He will earn $1.00 for every day that he has no missing assignments and nothing the other days that he either forgets to show me or has stuff missing. His available bonus will be $2.00 any day he goes without playing any games on the xbox.

I’m also considering adding bonuses for doing chores without arguments or reminders. I don’t usually get many arguments, but I have to remind them constantly. If I tie their responsibility to their income, that might change their tune a little bit.

My older son is ready to open a checking account and I’m excited for him. I believe he will be the saver of the two…but that little one might surprise me.

I told them that pay day will be every other Sunday. I’ll have to make a calendar to track their earnings between pay periods…their own time cards I guess you could call it.

For this money, it will come out of the money I make babysitting. I babysit two boys in the mornings before school (they take the bus from my house) and I get paid $25/week. Earnings from the last two weeks have gone straight into the $500 emergency fund.

So what will they do with their money…they will give, save, spend. They will be expected to give a portion (and I will give guidance towards tithing, but allow it to come from their hearts so they become grateful givers). As the older one will be opening up a checking account, he will have the opportunity to save money there. They younger one, I’ll likely employ the envelope system with him (give, save, spend envelopes).

For the remainder of this school year, I’m not sure that I will expect them to pay for any of their needs. From this point forward (after their first payday) they will have to spend their own money on any concessions at the arena or bowling alley. This is where the little one will go broke. I’ll add skate sharpening, and things of that nature. For now, I just want them to get used to taking responsibility to having a little bit of money.

We will have a saving discussion about maybe a waterpark day or trampoline park…something to that effect. I want to give them small attainable goals at first…so when they start thinking Disney World…they know it’s going to take some time and effort.

I’m guessing I won’t have to pay out more than $30 every two weeks so will use the leftover babysitting money to build up the payday fund. I’m so excited for these kids and their futures.

First PAYDAY will be January 28.

Dear Father in Heaven

I know how much You love your children, when I think about how much I love mine, it blows my mind that You love us even more than that…so much more.
Thank You for this opportunity to lead by example to teach these boys about finances and money management.
Help me to show grace when they need it most and to teach them to come to You when they are frustrated with the discipline of money management.
Lord, give my boys the heart of grateful givers as they have seen how amazing those gifts have been in our lives.
Continue to use me as a light in the world…

Amen

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Thankful Thursday

While my boys go round and round about who gets in the shower first, I thought it would be a great time to just be thankful.

We drove down to Minneapolis yesterday and checked into our hotel which is directly across the street from the Mall of America. Immediately, the youngest was undressed and ready to go to the pool. The older one was busy setting up the xbox I had allowed them to bring.

So I go to supervise the little one and the older one (with strict orders that the xbox was brought for a specific purpose) decided to hang out in the room and read for a little while in peace.

While at poolside, I ordered pizza for supper and relaxed.

It wasn’t long after, Katie showed up at our room. Her and I were off to US Bank Stadium to go inline skating around the main concourse.

OMG

SO MUCH FUN

I skated for about 2 hours straight and her for three full hours. I knew going in that I couldn’t do the full time; and I didn’t care…the experience and the time with Katie was so worth it!

Of course we wore our “Cancer can Kiss My Skates” shirts and stopped at Target to buy pants because I couldn’t find mine when I left home.

Well, God was smiling on us OBVIOUSLY because we walked in and saw these pants that not only compliment our shirts nicely, they also have POCKETS for our cell phones!! SO COOL!

During the time we were skating, the boys had instructions to NOT kill each other, and no fighting over the xbox. I knew they could easily keep busy with games and movies for the couple hours I was gone…that was the ONLY reason I allowed them to bring it with us.

I DID NOT bring them on this vacation to sit in front of the xbox for three days…that’s for sure!

Today we are going to experience a virtual reality arcade, an indoor go kart track, and an hour of laser tag. Tomorrow is the Science Museum.

Father,

When I think of how full my heart is for my children, I cannot fathom how much greater Your love for us is. This is all I have to compare it to though…and it’s an amazing love. As I watch them be filled with peace and love and gratitude, it fills my heart.

It brings me such joy to give them gifts of time and memories. How much more joy must You have at each answered prayer?

It’s times like this that I am reminded to ask the Big Ask prayers. To ask for the earthly impossible…because everything is possible through You.

This trip is a reminder of that…without prayer, and without complete faith in You, we could not have made this trip.

I thank You over and over again for growing my faith over the last six years. I kept telling people it was worth it…every time they questioned how I could stay so positive, I only replied that I can enjoy the journey or be miserable…but I still had to go on the trip.

Lord, continue to rain your love onto us as we enjoy our time together. We have all worked very hard to get her and are so very thankful for every minute of this adventure!

Amen

I Shouldn’t Have Waited

On Thanksgiving Day, I had so many thoughts of all that I am thankful for that I wanted to post about. I knew I had to spread The Good News about how I see God work in my life. There were so many amazing thoughts in my head as I spent the day in restoring rest.

Then Thursday turned in to Friday.

I ran to the store to buy milk and ran into a friend and her kids. Her son plays hockey with mine and her baby is just an adorable little munchkin who is always quick to tell me, “I’m not a baby, I’m a big boy.”

I knew her dad had to return to the doctor after talking with them at last week’s hockey game so I asked about it. He is a two time cancer survivor whom had just recently finished his second round of treatment along with a bone marrow transplant.

You know that moment before your life changes…it was right before I asked.

“Well, we got some not good news this morning.”

Fuck

So he goes back to the doctor again this week (6 hours away from home) to figure out what the next course of action is. My friend is scared, her older son is devastated (him and Grandpa have always been very close).

I told her that all I can do is pray…because I don’t even know what else to do.

Then I got a text confirming a fear I’ve had for a few weeks. Another guy I know (although not well, I’ve known him for about 10 years) his brain cancer is back. Stage four glioblastoma.

So, of course I don’t do myself any favors by looking it up. Median survival, 15-18 months. Only 20% of patients area alive after one year.

I’ve been praying for his family…and my friend’s family.

I still want to post about all that I am thankful for…just at a more appropriate time. Today is not that time.

Today I am praying about not killing anybody at work…the last week before my Zoladex shot is beyond hell. It’s like PMS on steroids. I never dealt with PMS before cancer, I was pretty lucky.

Not anymore.

About a week before my shot is due, something will alert me to the shift in my mood; being short with the kids, something trivial causing an explosion…then I will check the calendar and take a deep breath…because it is just the beginning of Hell Week. College frat boys got nothing on me!

I can’t fall asleep at night, I don’t want to get up in the morning. I have no desire to do anything (I even skipped my morning skate today and last Wednesday). Ya, you read that right…I skipped an opportunity to be on the ice…twice.

I get my shot at 2:30 today and then because the weather is so awesome I may even go for an inline skate; whoda thunk we’d be able to skate at the end of November? I think Halloween Day was my last inline skate. Would have been cool to skate on ice and pavement in the same day. Today is not that day.

So I will get up and go to work, I even considered calling in sick today to avoid any potential issues, I’m just not myself and I hate it. Twice last week I nearly quit my job. I saw a co-worker yesterday and she asked if I was ready to go back to work tomorrow after a four day weekend and I told her, “No, I hate my job.” She said that made her sad.

I also hate that it’s four unpaid days (no stat holidays in this country). Ya, I know we’re going to be okay, yes I know God will provide for our needs.

You know what though?

I want more than just our basic needs. I want to pay the light bill AND take my kid for a hot chocolate. I want an emergency fund so that I don’t have to rely on others when my vehicle finally decides it’s done.

And I hate that.

I hate feeling like I want more. I hate to think that I somehow sound ungrateful for all that has been provided for us. I’m not. I am truly thankful to be where we are. I also know that even a few hundred dollars every month would make a huge difference in our comfort level. I could own more than one pair of jeans for work, I would not beat myself up for driving 3 hours (one way) to watch my son play hockey on his dad’s weekend. I wouldn’t cringe at the thought of the fees for archery (although only $40…that’s almost a tank of gas).

I had a great idea for Christmas for the boys and now I don’t think I can pull it off.

Instead of buying gifts this year, I was going to plan a getaway. It wouldn’t cost much more than what I would spend on gifts, and the memories would be way better than any gift I could buy them.

We even received an unexpected monetary gift in the mail last week. Well, between travel for hockey this month and other unexpected expenses, that was swallowed up like a snake eats a frog…like it was gone before I even realized it.

Add on the fact that my December 15 paycheck will be smaller than normal, and I’m right back to counting pennies in time to pay rent for January.

This is where that ‘cushion fund’ would come in handy. If I had a couple months of expenses saved up, and the security that I had the money on hand, I could let go of the stress.

So, instead. My kids will be on the local ‘Giving Tree’ and somebody will pick the “Boy – age 10” and “Boy – age 13” off and bless them, again.

I thought I had it all figured out.

Turns out God’s plans and my plans are not always the same.

Heavenly Father,

I am so thankful for the blessings bestowed upon myself and my boys. I do understand how blessed we are and how good we have it.

I miss how things were when I didn’t have to worry about money. I want to have that again. God, I ask for abundant resources to not only meet our needs but to also exceed them.

Amen

It Is Time

The decision to take action is never an easy one when it comes to family situations. I have allowed a family member of my ex-husband to belittle me and vilify me in front of my children long enough with no results when he has taken actions to stop it.

I trust that he has tried to address the situation with the family member on several occasions. This person just has no filter when it comes to their hate for me. Unfortunately they cannot understand that the hate that spews in my direction only goes straight through the boys first. As much as this person would like for it to be not true; they are 50% my children.

Hating their mother is hating a piece of them. A huge part of them. I think that is part of the issue, when people see them and hear them, it is hard to not see and hear me.

Last night I lost my ever-lovin’-mind when I heard what I heard. I called my ex-husband and screamed at him for a good five minutes. I screamed at my boys…

Ya, that’s going to help…not.

As I calmed down I told them I was hurt by those words and that they should never have to have my back when they are with their dad. They should be kids. They know this person is wrong, they know it’s inappropriate for them to be bombarded with the hate aimed at me.

They also know they are just kids.

And she is their grandmother.

I have prayed for so long for this woman. I have prayed for my own heart to soften towards her whenever I feel the hate rise. If she died tomorrow, I would be sad for my boys…and so happy that she is out of their lives.

That is how much hurt lies between us.

I have killed her with kindness at every turn. She cannot even look me in the eye. If she sees the boys and I out and about, she will do her best to not be seen. If they happen to see her before she can slip away; she cannot even greet me.

How much self loathing must she have to be so filled with such vileness. Can she not make eye contact because she is scared of what she will see? Will she catch a glimpse of the compassion I have for her? Will she see that I don’t truly hate her; that her opinion of me doesn’t matter? Will she catch a glimpse of the boys so in love with their mom that it is palpable wherever we go? What does she get out of hating so furiously?

I don’t know…I just know that when her arrows are shot at me, they hurt and I lash out. I feel the need to defend myself…fight or flight. My brain knows this solves nothing and only adds to the stress my children feel.

So where is the balance?

Today I sent a proposal off to our parenting time expeditor (ordered by the courts as we have 50/50 custody and can rarely agree on anything). I am proposing that all of her time with the boys be supervised.

I made it clear to the boys last night I don’t want to take her out of their life, only put a stop to them being in the middle.

Lord,

I ask for grace for my behaviour last night. It was less than stellar. My passion for these boys and their wellbeing is my priority. Remind me that hurt people, hurt people…and I don’t want to be one of them.
As my ex-husband and the expeditor read over my proposal today, soften their hearts to hear only my true concerns.
Jesus, be with this woman. I know life has not been easy on her and her ways are learned. Help her to be the grandmother my children need and desire in their life.
Help me continue to be gracious and fill me with mercy towards her.
I know Your plan includes lessons from this, help me see past the immediate nature of this and live in Your light.

Amen

Sick, Not Real Sick

I woke up in the middle of the night and called into work. I was fevered, stuffed up and my body was aching. Yay for flu season, right?

Guess who hasn’t bothered to get her flu shot yet?

Anyway, now I’m laying in bed and I was thinking about how nice it will be when the boys get home from school. My older boy is the best caregiver in the world. At his very core is compassion and service. My younger one is a Mama’s boy…he would be the one to bring extra blankets, to fluff my pillows; while his brother would bring soup and care for the younger boy.

Then it hit me…

I don’t want them to see me sick. Even if it’s just a flu or a bad cold. I can picture my older boy’s agony to see his mama sick again. I don’t want that fear to ever enter his brain.

I don’t want the younger one to not be just a little boy, wanting Mom to take care of him in spite of her ailments.

Sure, their compassion is a life lesson that many will never learn. It will serve them well for years to come. I know the adversity they have faced through cancer have been wonderful lessons in faith, love, service, mercy, and grace.

They are always quick with grace when I am not well.

So where does this mom-guilt fit? It’s not like I ASKED for cancer, not like I planned to be sick today when they returned home for the week. I know it is the enemy who is working to break me down.

Screw him.

I’m taking care of me today. I’m just going to be allowed to be sick. I am going to let my boys care for me and allow my expectations to be NIL for myself this evening.

Just this once, I’m looking forward to my baby boy making me his favorite chicken noodle soup, to the older boy to be the man of the house…just this once…

And just this once, I won’t feel guilty. I won’t feel like a bad mom. I won’t beat myself up.

Dearest Father,
I ask for mercy that this illness be taken from my body today. I thank You for being louder than the enemy and that I know I am still worthy of love when I am sick.
Lord, Your love surrounds our home. Please Father, do not let fear enter here when they boys come home and see me so ill. Remind them in the deepest creases of their beings that You have beaten cancer for us and that the flu has nothing on You.
Amen

I Don’t Wanna

I don’t wanna write today that Beth Caldwell passed away last night. I don’t want to write that her husband held her as she died. I don’t want to write that her children were with her as she took her last breath.

But it happened and my heart sank.

I had a feeling yesterday was going to be the day. I even stopped at Katie’s and said I wanted to find out from her…she has been following Beth’s story as well. Really though, I didn’t want to hear it from anybody. I didn’t want to face it.

I think back to something I wrote on my CaringBridge while I was sick…it was about my own mortality. I was writing about the dreams I have for my kids and all I wish for them to know, and be, and accomplish. I wrote that for them to be the people they are meant to be may actually mean I have to not be here and how hard of a reality that was.

That is Beth’s family’s reality. That her death is a part of God’s plan for who her children become. Will they also be advocates for the unheard and unseen? Will they champion her cause…their cause.

As I fell asleep last night, I prayed for The Hubs, The Boy, and The Girl; the nicknames she used on her blog for her family. I prayed for their peace; for God’s grace and mercy to cover them.

And then I cried; for me.

Today, my heart hurts; and I’m just going to let it. I’m going to let it be hurt and heal…it seems to know the routine. Today I am also going to just be held…by God.

This weekend it’s just me and the little one home. Big Brother is going deer hunting with Dad and won’t be home until Sunday evening. I have a feeling it will be a lot of open hockey and chilling. His birthday is in a few weeks and we have to make a plan for that. My “non-viable pregnancy” (when I first got pregnant), my “Inevitable abortion” (at 12 weeks 2 days gestation with I had a partial abruption with ruptured membranes), my preemie…he’s gonna be ten this year.

Lord,

I am so grateful that my baby’s story is a yearly reminder that You perform miracles all around us and people love to hear his story. We love to share it. I am so thankful for all you have provided.
As I get through today and the weekend with Beth’s family on my heart, I ask for comfort for them. I ask that you give them the space, time, and opportunity to feel Your love.
And God, thank you for holding my close and keeping me secure.

Amen

Transition Day

Yesterday we experienced our first difficult transition day of the school year. I am thankful to have had a few weeks reprieve to get into the school year. With any luck, this is a one-time thing.

It was a busy day (as most of ours tend to be). He had hockey almost immediately after school and it was his first time on the ice this season. I was a forgetful Mom and I did not give him a snack after school. He needs a snack on a normal day, never mind going to hockey practice before supper.

While at hockey he felt like he was not good enough, and was confused by some of the new drills. As all kids do, he thought he was the only one struggling.

After practice, he was taking off his skates and one of the coaches asked what grade he was in. When I told him fourth grade, he commented that he’s a big kid. He complimented my son on how well he did out there and I shared that he felt like he did not perform very well.

I could have kissed both coaches, “Aww man, it’s your first time on skates this year. You looked like you were actually trying out there. I guarantee that you worked a lot harder than many of those kids. Those kids who weren’t trying, you improved today way more than they will all year because they don’t think they have to try. Isn’t your mom the coach that says you have to get good before you get fast? Trust me, being fast means nothing at this age.”

I got the obligatory eye roll when he mentioned that his mom might actually know a thing or two on the ice…LOL

But my boy calmed down.

When we came home, his dad was waiting to pick him up…and the attitude returned. I won’t share the entire scenario, just that he ended up not going to his dad’s last night. He stayed home with me.

After some cuddle time watching a movie and eating supper, he sat down and did all his homework with no arguments, had a bedtime snack while we finished the movie and went to bed like a champ.

He thanked me this morning for, “…having my back…” and I assured him that I would…every time.

Lord,

I thank you for giving that young boy a heart of a warrior and the fight of a lion. As he learns himself, help him feel encouraged to fight for justice. Continue to give him the courage to keep speaking out. As he learns how to manage his words and put feelings into action, surround him with an army of love and acceptance.
Continue to give my boy the strength he needs, and me the patience to get through it all.

Amen