Oh, the Possibilities!

Isn’t it funny how one minute life can just be cruising along, staying pretty much the same, and then all of a sudden a bunch of changes seem to be pending all at once? Nothing definite, just a rumor here, some people talking over there, an idea suggested there. And suddenly the brain starts whirring, taking in all the possible changes and how they’ll affect everything.

Nothing has been decided anywhere — just snippets of conversation that, were they to come to pass, could have lasting consequences. But it just makes me wonder.

I’m not afraid of change unless the change is truly a negative one. In some ways I crave change, as I often get bored if things remain stagnant too long. And I love to come up with new ideas, new plans, new solutions. They’re new challenges, and I do love a good challenge. And, since I can often think of many different points of view on any given issue, I can explore different scenarios and figure out what I would do. I thrive on that.

So, with all these hypotheticals and generalizations, what can I share? Well, Kevin will likely be losing his second job in the near future, which puts us in a tricky situation financially. But I have signed up to be an Usborne Books representative, which may help supplement whatever he finds, or even replace it. Kevin may be joining me in that endeavor, though he hasn’t decided yet. If he doesn’t, he’ll likely be looking for a job similar to what he has now, provided he can find one.

Another potentially big change? It was suggested to us that we might want to consider becoming foster parents. The stipend provided by the state would certainly help us financially, but more importantly we could make a difference in a child’s (or children’s) life. Kevin and I are still discussing it, and we haven’t made any decisions, though when I mentioned the possibility to Avery he was excited at the idea of more kids to play with. It’s a big decision though — and one that would mean a lot of time and effort into getting our home ready (though most of the required effort needs to be done anyway, since it involves cleaning and organizing).

Those are the changes most likely to actually occur, though others have been tossed around in conversation. Right now I’m simply processing and digesting each potential change, exploring resolutions, determining plans if each one were to pass. I like to be prepared so I’m not completely thrown off guard. But it’s not always easy, especially changes that involve money. Bills still have to be paid! But change can be a good thing. And I’ll do my best to make sure that it is.

The Trouble with Avery

We’ve been struggling with Avery’s behavior for a while now. No discipline method we’ve tried seems to work, and it can get very frustrating at times. I discussed the concerns with his pediatrician, who suggested we have him talk to a therapist. The therapist could evaluate and work with him and make suggestions on how to proceed. Through research before his appointments with his therapist, and discussions with the therapist, we’ve come to the conclusion he very likely has ADHD. We’re getting him set up with a specialist to have him evaluated so we can proceed accordingly.

Even if he has ADHD, I’m not one to just jump right into the medicine “solution.” I don’t believe it’s always necessary, and I don’t want him to have to be dependent on a drug if he doesn’t have to be. I’m hoping we can find other techniques and solutions that will help him. I’m not opposed to medication; I just don’t want that to be what we automatically turn to. I found a book in the library, which I subsequently purchased, that is all about helping kids with ADHD without using medication. I started reading it, and it seems like it will be useful. I guess only time will tell.

In the meantime we’ve had some struggles. Having an explanation for why he behaves the way he does doesn’t make things easier — in some ways it makes it harder, because there are things I strongly suspect he just can’t stop himself from doing, at least not yet. I’m hoping with the right tools he’ll be able to control himself a little more, focus a little more, and behave a little better. He’s a good kid inside; we just want him to show who he really is, not who he acts like.

With any child I know finding the right discipline tactic can be tricky, and with extra challenges added, that task becomes even trickier. But I’m trying. I already know yelling doesn’t work (though it’s so easy to fall back to that in times of stress and frustration). Time outs and taking things away sometimes work — but sometimes they don’t faze him. Ignoring him sometimes works — sometimes not. Talking it out sometimes works — sometimes he just seems to tune me out.

Last night I tried a little bit of a different tactic. We had had a particularly difficult day, and, while Avery is a very smart kid, sometimes I don’t think even he understands why he does what he does, or acts how he does. He hasn’t been sleeping well, which makes the problem even worse. And when he misbehaves over and over in a short period of time, we get frustrated, which means we often resort to yelling — which, as I mentioned above, doesn’t work. It just gets everybody even more frustrated. So I decided to simplify things and try to connect with him on an emotional level.

I talked with Avery about good days and bad days, about how at the end of the day when I look back at what happened, I remember the good stuff that happened and the bad stuff that happened. If the good stuff outweighs the bad stuff, it was a good day. Good days make Mommy happy. If the bad stuff outweighs the good stuff, it was a bad day. Bad days make Mommy sad. We talked about how that day had gone, and I asked Avery what kind of day it had been. He said without prompting that it had been a bad day. We discussed some things that were good, and some things that were bad. He really seemed to understand, and I’m hoping we can use this reference point to get him to view individual actions and their overall impression. It’s worth a shot, anyway.

I love my little boy more than anything. I know he’s a good, sweet boy. He loves us, loves his sister. Most of the time he’s more than willing to help me if I ask him. He’s quick to giggle, and smart as a whip. If we can just get rid of the destructive behavior, I think he would be even happier, more successful, and more confident. And that’s really all I want.

Refilling the Glass

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you view the glass as half full or half empty? I once read a meme somewhere that advised that these aren’t the only two options — the glass is refillable. I love that. Not only is it an optimistic view of looking at the world, but it can be very motivating, too. If you’re dragging, looking at the world negatively, refill your glass.

I have to do that on a somewhat regular basis. As with anyone else, I fall victim to bouts of stress and depression. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing anything, especially if I convince myself it wouldn’t do much good or it can be put off without consequence. But if I let myself remain a victim, I feel even worse. I kick myself for not doing what I should have done. I feel more lethargic and lazy — possibly even more stressed or depressed. Being sick these last few days I’ve definitely felt myself slipping down that slope a bit.

But it’s not how I want to live, and it certainly won’t get me closer to my goals. So instead, I take a deep breath and push myself a little. I refill my glass, and in doing so give myself more energy, more motivation. I feel better, more optimistic. I’m more productive, which in turn keeps me motivated and more inclined to be productive in the future.

This week I’ve had to push myself on more than one occasion, and it’s always worked out. I blogged about it last time — how even though I had a cold, I wasn’t letting it stop me from staying on track. I’ve been pretty successful the last couple of days, too, despite still dragging from my cold. Sure, I’ve been tired, but I haven’t let it stop me.

I am of the mind that we can each take charge of our own lives and create the lives we want. It’s what led to my original blog, and what guides me each day, each week, each month. If you’re unhappy with something, change it. If you want something, go get it. So if you let yourself get sucked into negative thinking, snap yourself out of it. The more you do it, the easier it will get.

Sick But Successful

While some things are at least mostly in your control — sleep, food, water, as I indicated in my previous post — some things aren’t — like getting sick. Yes, I’m sick. It’s just a cold, but it stinks big time.

I must say, though, that I’m pretty proud of myself. Yesterday, despite being sick and tired, I got about 90% of the things in my planner done. The only thing that didn’t get done was the dishes — and let’s be honest, sometimes those don’t get done even if I’m feeling fine. So the kitchen is a bit of a mess, but I hope to tackle that this morning, and all will go back to normal. Hopefully this cold will pass quickly, and how I feel will go back to normal, too.

It’s nice to see the plan working, though. I feel I was quite productive yesterday. I hope to check off most, if not all, of my items today, too. And tomorrow. Each day that I complete my plans is a day I’m closer to some of my goals. I wonder if I should start one of those calendars where you mark off each day you’ve been successful? The idea is that you mark each day, and start a streak. The more time that passes, the longer the streak gets, and the more likely you’ll stay on track. You don’t want to break the streak. It may not be a bad idea. I do like goals. And checking things off. Perhaps I shall.

Speaking of goals, what are my goals? If you look way back to my post at the beginning of the year, I detailed my goals quite specifically. And they were quite ambitious. A couple I’ve checked off already (resume family fun days, create a regular routine, continue using cash and rolling coin); a couple I have no hope of checking off ($1000 in an emergency fund by the end of the year? I’ll be lucky if I have Avery’s tuition for December in time). My goals have been adjusted and tweaked and added to and subtracted from. These days I’m keeping things simple. By the end of the year I hope to:

  • Have all of my websites up and running with enough content to make them useful and traffic-worthy. These websites are:
    • www.freefamilyfuninCT.com (this site is essentially done, though I do add new events every week. I hope to add more additional content, though, and I already have some ideas on what to add.)
    • www.alifeyouwant.com (I have a ton of posts to re-post, since I lost the original site due to my poor planning. I also want to add resources and tools and other such things, in addition to general posts.)
    • www.allaboutthemoney.info (This is a general money site I’m creating, with a target audience of those who are struggling with money and are living paycheck-to-paycheck, and those who may just be starting out and don’t know anything about money beyond income and bills. I have several articles written, but a lot more to write.)
    • www.yourgiftfinders.com (This is my gift-giving website, full of ideas on what to give different recipients on different occasions. It also has the most potential to be income-generating, as I plan on selling items through it, as well. I have several articles written that need to be posted, and more I plan on writing. I also need to tweak the “store” part of it.)
  • Clean my house — at least to the point that I’m not climbing over things and seeing miscellaneous clutter every time I look around.
  • Bring in enough income to pay all our bills each month, without having to use credit cards or “skip a payment” on our loans, preferably with a cushion so I don’t panic come January (or any month thereafter).

I’m still trying to make steps toward the other goals I set, but I’m trying to be realistic with my current resources. And some goals depend on other goals — for example, I need to clean my basement before I can start my exercise routine because I currently have no room to move, nevermind exercise. But, as with everything, they’re a work in progress. As long as I’m making progress I’ll be happy. And if I stick to my plan, I’ll make tons of progress. Let’s make it happen!

What are some of your goals? How do you keep track of your progress?

It’s the little things

It’s amazing how much little things can affect us: sleep, water, food. These things are obviously necessary to survive, but tweaking them even just a little bit can have drastic effects.

Sleep

This weekend was a little rough, primarily because Avery did not seem to want to let me sleep. He woke me up multiple times a night to restart his story CD. He listens to stories to fall asleep, and when he wakes up in the middle of the night he wants the stories back on so he can fall back to sleep. I have no problem with this (though I wish he was sleeping through the night rather than waking up). The problem is that the CD player is well within reach at the base of his bed, and he is more than capable of starting the CD again on his own. Yet this weekend he found it necessary to wake me up to start it. I told him in no uncertain terms that this was unacceptable.

Having my sleep disturbed — and having his sleep disturbed — caused both of us to be a little tired, and Avery more than a little cranky and irritable. Avery does not do well when he hasn’t slept enough, and that makes all of us rather miserable. To make matters worse, even taking a nap yesterday didn’t seem to help. And it put a damper on the entire day.

The good news is that I had a decent night’s sleep last night, and I can only guess that Avery did, as well. Though I heard the stories going this morning when I woke (meaning he had to turn them on again shortly beforehand), I’m hoping this was the only time he woke up. Fingers are crossed, because today is a school day, and I definitely don’t want him tired and cranky!

With a good night’s sleep under my belt, though, I can at least stay mostly on track for my own tasks.

Water

When I wrote this blog long ago, I often touted the benefits of drinking enough water, and I kept insisting I was going to work on drinking more. Yet with all my talk about it, I still seem to not drink enough. And I’m sure that contributes to the lethargic feeling I get somewhat regularly. Perhaps if I drank enough I would feel more energized. I’ve often heard that drinking enough water has a ton of positive side effects: gives you more energy, keeps everything running smoothly, even helps with weight loss. Since I’m struggling in all 3 areas, perhaps it’s time to set goals once again.

Food

I know I’m a carb and sugar nut. And I know this is not good for me. Yet over the past few months, as I’ve been paying more attention to myself, my body, and my needs, I’ve definitely noticed on a regular basis how this has affected me. The “sugar crash” effect that I never thought used to happen to me happens all the time. When I suddenly feel tired and drained, I can almost always link it to a sugary snack I had not that long before. And it happens with alarming regularity.

I’ve talked before about cutting back on unhealthy snacks, yet I seem to have slipped back into bad habits. I’m sure this is at least part of the reason my waistline has increased this year. So it’s time to tweak my diet again. It’s time to eat more of the good stuff — fruits and veggies, proteins — and less of the carbs and sugars. Money can make this difficult, but I know I can make it work. It just takes a little planning and finagling, and I’ve got plenty of time for that, right?

Put It All Together

With these 3 forces working together, it’s easy to see why I was drained yesterday and nearly fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon. I was able to pull myself together once I got up and started doing things again, but I can’t let this happen all the time. I’ve got to keep my body running efficiently. I need to stay healthy. Plus, how else am I going to tackle my crazy schedule?

The good news is that, to an extent, the changes I need to make are within my control. I am in charge of what enters my body, and, as a result, how what I consume affects me. As long as the kids cooperate I have control over my sleep, as well. I just need to make sure I go to bed at a decent time and wake up at a corresponding time that gives me the sleep I need.

Once I’ve got these 3 factors in check, it’s time to tackle the other part of the puzzle that is sorely lacking: exercise. You’d think that running around after 2 young children, plus the number of times I’m going up and down stairs to take care of their seemingly endless needs, that I would be in fine physical form. But that is, sadly, not the case. For now, though, I’ve got my hands full. I’ll tackle exercise soon. Really. I promise.

How do you make sure your body is running efficiently?

Figuring Me Out

Sometimes I wish I was the kind of person who was happy just doing one thing. Sometimes I wish I was satisfied working a day job, coming home, taking care of the kids and house, then just relaxing and watching TV. Sometimes I wish I could turn off the part of my brain that is constantly turning every issue or interest into a project that requires immediate attention or I might explode. But then I realize how boring that would be, for me at least. Perhaps if I were wired that way I would be happy. But I’m not!

That means I’ve had to get used to my brain running a million miles a minute pretty much all the time. I have to quickly weigh pros and cons of project ideas, and determine what’s actually worth my time (and what I might be able to squeeze time in for!). And, sadly, I’ve had to get used to turning myself down, to forcing myself to acknowledge that I just don’t have the resources right now to do everything I want to do. Maybe someday, I’ll tell myself. But unfortunately not right now.

If I’m able to stick to my schedule at least most of the time, then I should be able to finish up some of my current projects by the end of the year. I have several websites in the works, and a couple of them, once they have all the articles I want to write on them, will require little maintenance once set up. That means the time I currently have scheduled to work on them can be devoted to other projects. And I’m sure it won’t be hard to fill the time!

The author of a blog I used to read said that he carried around a small notebook with him at all times. This notebook was to scribble down ideas, notes, thoughts, tidbits of information he came across — anything he encountered on a daily basis that he didn’t want to forget. It kept all that information out of his brain and onto paper, so he didn’t get so overwhelmed. On a regular basis he would go through the notebook and enter the scribbles into his computer, into lists he compiled that separated these thoughts into categories. Quick “to do” items would get taken care of, and projects and ideas were added to their appropriate lists. Information was delegated to an appropriate location.

I’ve decided to carry a small notebook around with me, as well. I tried it for a couple of days, and it did help. Ideas I came up with, information I came across, it all went into the notebook. I just have to get used to it! I’m so used to cramming information into my brain that learning to take a moment to write it down takes some getting used to. But I think once it becomes habit it will be very useful. Not only will it keep me from getting overwhelmed, but it will also ensure I don’t forget those brilliant project ideas that pop up periodically. And if I keep a list of project ideas, then when I finish up a couple of projects, I’ll have ideas waiting to fill up the time.

Over the past few months I’ve been consciously making an effort to figure myself out and determine the techniques and ways of life that work best for me. I want to be true to myself, and help myself be the best person I can be. Between coming up with a regular schedule, figuring out how much sleep I really need, analyzing how my brain works, and finding ways to make me work most efficiently, I know I can really be happy and live the life I want. And any little techniques and breakthroughs I find can help me get there.

How do you get through the day? Are there any “life hacks” that you couldn’t live without?

The Elusive Dollar

I have tons of projects going on. And I am confident that, once everything is up and running and I’ve got traffic going to my sites and such, I’ll be bringing in a decent amount of income. The problem? Getting everything up and running and attracting traffic is going to take time and a bit of work. And we need the money now.

The Problem

Despite working diligently to bring in income, we’re still struggling. Avery’s preschool tuition has gone up this year, thanks to the fact that he’s going full days now instead of just afternoons. And, of course, all of our regular bills — including the mountain of debt — still has to be paid, too. In addition, Avery has started seeing a therapist to help with his behavioral issues. We’re pretty sure he has ADHD, and that will require evaluations and additional appointments and meetings with specialists that all cost money, too.

With these added expenses, we need additional income, yet we’re at a loss as to how to close the gap. Kevin is already working two jobs (with a third coming up in October when he starts up at the Haunted Graveyard again), and I have to take care of the kids and household in addition to my day job. What else can we do?

The Options

For starters I’ve been trying to sell stuff. I did surprisingly well selling some jewelry at a pawn shop. I’m participating in a kids’ tag sale taking placing at the end of this month, which I hope will be successful. And I’m starting to put both personal and business items on eBay again. Posting on eBay is definitely one of my weekly projects, but it can be very hit or miss as to whether items will sell or not.

I also decided to try a site I keep hearing about to help with my many projects. While costs for my projects are low, they do take quite a bit of time. So I started a Patreon account to try and attract “patrons” who are interested in sponsoring my endeavors on a monthly basis. No hits so far, but it’s a new account, so perhaps soon.

Steady, reliable income is still out of reach, though. I’ve been brainstorming frantically but have yet to come up with any ideas. I could scrounge up a few hours a week to do a work-from-home job if I had to, but the options out there are less than appealing. The bulk seem to be customer service, and I definitely do not want to do customer service again. The times I’ve looked into transcription didn’t yield any results. Survey sites or sites like Mechanical Turk don’t pay much and don’t seem to be worth the time (unless I was spending my free time zoning out to TV or something, which I’m not). The times I’ve written articles for profit-sharing sites have not yielded much, either.

I’ve thought about blogging for money. There are sites that link people who are looking for blog posts with people who are willing to write said blog posts, and the result is income. But unless the posts needed are on topics I’m already familiar with, research and writing could be time consuming.

Once I have the money for the starter kit (yet another expense, but one that could pay for itself), I hope to become a representative for Usborne Books. It is direct sales, but there’s the possibility of selling to libraries and schools, which is the part that appeals to me the most. While I have nothing against home parties and catalog sales, they can be difficult and unreliable, and I’m not a salesperson by nature. I can handle libraries and schools, though, and I know Avery would love to visit different libraries with me. Still, I have to wait for the starter kit.

The Solution

I’m still working this part out. For now I’m stretching our money as far as it can go. I’m juggling bills and going to the bank multiple times a week as we have the cash to cover the bills due. I’ll keep posting things on eBay and hoping ads on my sites bring in something. And I’ll try to scrounge up a few bucks for the Usborne starter kit. Eventually something will pay off, right?

We’re making ends meet for now. I just want to make sure it stays that way!

Do you have any ideas on how to bring in extra money? What do you do when money is tight?