Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Hills

TR thinks we live in the hills.  We're in the foothills.  We're not at the bottom but we're not at the top. She's been to the homes of her friends and know they live far in the hills, but I don't think she knows that the higher in the hills you live, the more money it costs.

She recognizes poverty but she doesn't recognize the difference in "middle class".  It's interesting listening to my kids make assessments and opinions about things. One day QT told me that some people could be too rich.  He said people who are too rich, wear lots of stuff.  He considers us to be middle and just right.

 I didn't explain that lots of times the poor who wear lots of stuff and sometimes the rich look homeless.

QT started his track season so life has been busy.   His 3rd track meet was in Arizona and we had a blast. We drove and stopped in Bakersfield and saw the kids godmother, we spent the night in San Bernardino County with one of Mr. A's cousins and then got up and drove the final 4 hours to Phoenix.

Once in Phoenix, we visited Mr. A's uncle and aunt.  By total coincidence my cousin who lives in Atlanta was in town visiting my cousin who lives in Phoenix so we went to dinner.  On Sunday my cousins came to Mr. A's aunts house, and Mr. A's 1st cousin who lives in Tuscon brought his 3 kids and wife.

We realized that we had traveled to Arizona for a mini-family reunion! It was great and I'm grateful for track.

I've also been working our with a group of track moms. While the kids are training, we work out.  My body is starting to shape up. I'll be beach ready this summer. Although we probably won't get to a beach.  We're heading to Georgia this summer and won't be near water, but it's good to look good even while fully dressed.  We'll also be in the desert part of southern California but there will be a pool.

Homeschool is going great! Homeschooling has been a great choice for our family and for the kids. They are learning a lot and I am very pleased with the people they are developing into. People who work with our kids while we aren't around keep telling us that we need to teach parenting classes.  I take that as a compliment, not as a suggestion that we teach parenting classes.

A stereotype  exists of homeschools kid being introverted and lacking social skills.  That stereotype exists but my kids are very social, not at all shy, and they enjoy speaking to people of all ages. They are good communicators.  They are like Mr A., so I think its either genetics or just observation.

I imagine homeschool kids who are introverts are like their parents.

We're at a track meet, so I'm signing off! Have a great day!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Work

As I self-employed person I do not have any managing my work on my time. I have to self-regulate or I end up in disaster.

I have people who work for me and I don't manage them.  I give them assignments and expect it to be done well. I'm accepting the reality that everyone is not designed to manage themselves and it's frustrating. I will do the work myself before I take time to micro-manage a person.

Mr. A says a leader inspires the team and removes obstacles to allow them to work to their highest ability.  I'm not good at inspiring people because I'm working. Perhaps if I was a person that had staff and didn't have to do any of the work, I could work on leadership.

I'm grateful for the people who desire to be excellent. They inspire me to be better and do more.

I realize that the way we homeschool we are raising our kids to self-regulate their own work. We don't stand over them and ensure they are getting work done. They know what is expected and they strive to be excellent in what they produce.

I've decided to write  a pamphlet. I wrote a little tonight.  If I commit to writing a little every night, eventually I will finish and on nights when the mood hits, I will write more.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 Spending Plan

This week I took two checks to the bank and felt like doing a little bit of shopping. I went to a pastry shop to pick up some French Macaroons. They were $1.95 each and I bought $23 dollars worth. Then I went to Cost Plus World Market and purchased Torani and some sugary carbonated beverages for the kids.  I looked at some cloth napkins and tableware and remembered my financial goals and put those items down.

These little $20 purchases add up. I want the stuff, but I don't need it. I need to use what I have and not purchase things that are easily affordable, because the more little things I buy, the less I have to purchase the big things I really want. Big things like a house or maybe even the ability to build a house.

When I look at houses online and see that a decent (3-4 bedrooms in a neighborhood where gun battles are not the norm) homes are a million+,  I feel like I should just decorate our house and be satisfied. I have to keep speaking positively to myself and knowing our goal is achievable if we focus on our goals.

Last week I did a 2016 spending plan and reviewed utility bills, etc. Upon initial review of the completed document, I became discouraged because our living expenses are a huge chunk of our earnings.  I asked Mr. A to contact cable/internet to see if we could get a reduction in price on those bills.  I decided to limit my water usage to night when the rates are lower.  Those seemingly little things that add up to a lot.

The next day I looked at our spending plan again and realized this month we'll be able to save nearly 50% of our earnings. That sounds great, but our earnings are not consistent each month, but based on what we've earned (though yet unpaid) in recent months, we should be able to save 50% or more for the next few months.

Our expenses are still too high for my liking but we don't have many options we're willing to do. We're not currently willing to move to a low cost of living area.  We don't want to live in a cookie cutter neighborhood or house, and it costs more to have a craftsman home.  We want to live in the city and close to things. It's hard enough driving 10 miles to our various activities and traffic in the Bay Area has gotten so horrific that living close in helps quality of life.

One day I'll put some budgets up here.  I've read other blogs and people get offended when people with seemingly high incomes post about financial struggles. I figure if I spend some time posting about how expensive it is, people will feel my struggle when I post budget stuff.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 Goals

This year I've decided to clear $200,000.  This is going to require that I remain organized and focused. I will likely have to spend the year, working at least 5 days a week and not procrastinating.

We need a 4 bedroom house and that is going to cost.  My goal is to get organized enough this year to earn $200k and increase the next year.  Taxes trap us in the middle.  At a certain income, we're losing money but working more.  I think $200k is an amount that has high taxes, more work but allows us to afford to pay for the stuff more money will require us to spend.

My first order of business is to organize. My assistant is returning to help me organize.

I am committing myself to putting dates and events on my calendar and working a minimum of 3 hours per day.  The main reason my income is limited is because I work  2-3 days a week.  I'm going to change that.

I've made a chart with my money goals. The chart indicates that we've earned $33k for January. That money was earned in Nov and December but will be paid in January and will go on our 2016 taxes so I'm including it in January earnings.  I won 4-5 hearings in 2015, each one should be a minimum of $20k. One hearing was 2 days another was 10 days and the others were in between those number of days. Getting to my goal amount is doable.  I'm excited to see what can be accomplished with focus, organization and daily work.

I mainly want us to get a huge chunk of money and fund a house with views, that has enough bedrooms, living space, yard space, office space and then we can go back to working like we like living life more than work.  We're even willing to get a fixer upper.


Monday, December 28, 2015

'Tis the Season

TR has had cornrows since before Thanksgiving.  I finally finished removing them and tonight we pre-conditioned, washed and conditioned ( her hair. She didn't want to go to bed with damp hair so I used the  hair dryer and then I decided to flat iron the bottom section to see the length while straight.

She was quite pleased with the length. I suspect if we are consistent with her hair care regime, she could hit her goal of waist length hair, by the summer.


Tonight's photos.
 The last length check was in October 2015 and she had twists.
 The last time her hair was straightened was January 2015, so I added that to attempt to compare.
January 2015
December 28, 2015




I think the December length was at 7. I did a dusting of her ends.

I will make a hair appointment soon to get her hair put in twists or braids.  Braids make life easier and I prefer little girl hair styles on little girls.

The NEW YEAR

In 2015 we settled and won a number of cases at hearing. We are scheduled to enter 2016 with enough to pay a year's worth of bills. I'm excited about that. I want to use the extra funds to expand the businesses.

I feel like I'm at my peak earning years so I want to earn a lot before I hit the decline.  I also want to set up a business so my kids will have a means to earn if they need a job.

I'll probably make a 2016 to do list.  Writing things down is powerful.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Homeschooling Fun

Yesterday we completed 5 months of homeschool with both kids! We're taking a break along with other kids, although we'll likely still do some schoolwork.  The kids are excited about their Christmas break but I think I might be more excited than they are.

We have 2 weeks without gymnastics, art, track, speech, Spanish and Girl Scouts.  2 weeks to relax, and refresh and to plan. 2 weeks of not having to drop a kid off at a certain time. 2 weeks of freedom to roam without time constraints or to stay home and relax.

HomeSchool Goals

As a homeschooling family, I want to give my kids a full and well-rounded education.  I keep my ears open for learning opportunities.  I'm considering purchasing the Logic of English and spend time on the kids spelling.  

I told QT to write a story and his concern was that he wouldn't be able to spell the words. That tells me we need to work on spelling.  The Logic of English (LOE) also has cursive writing instruction. The kids have taught themselves to write in cursive, and the LOE says cursive is more natural for kids.  I'm inclined to believe that claim, since both kids prefer to write cursive.

Mr A always says a good leader/manager removes the barriers and obstacles to allow the team member(s) to perform at their highest ability.  

If spelling is QT's barrier, then its my job to give him the tools to feel competent and confident.  QT is 5.10, and is a fluent reader of age 1st-2nd grade material.  It hadn't occurred to me that he might question his ability to spell.  He knows his phonograms but we have to develop his confidence in using them. TR used to write stories and she would ask me how to spell certain words and I would help her sound them out, but she never didn't want to write due to spelling concerns.

I'm excited!  

HOMESCHOOL MAKES ME BETTER

The buck stops here.  If our kids have or don't have a skill, it is an indication of our parenting and our work as educators.  We don't have a teacher to place our expectations upon. The responsibility is on us.

Homeschooling has to make me better because the best way to teach is by example.  I'm currently working to teach TR organizational skills. I have to organize and be the example and a more organized me, is a better me.

In most things I have to reteach or teach myself, before I can teach the kids.  They see me learning, making mistakes and trying again.  

I'm glad Mr A and I have the will, the determination and the confidence to educate our own kids. I grow with them.



Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Bay

Every weekend that we go to the Farmer's Market TR fills out the form to win a basket of produce.  Today (Saturday) TR won the basket!!  Fortunately I had only gotten eggs, 1 bunch of kale, apple cider and a few apples.  I usually spend about $100 on fruits and vegetables.  Today I spent under $30.  I'm excited to get creative in the kitchen this week!


TR ate a few grapes and said that victory tastes sweet and free food tastes amazing.
The A family has been busy but we've been enjoying ourselves. QT is busy with track and I enjoy seeing him out on the field and having conversations with 5-7 year old boys.  He is naturally competitive. Since both of my kids are competitive, I'm beginning to think ether Mr. A or myself are competitive.   Perhaps competitiveness is a trait that is hard to see in yourself or maybe it looks different for older people.  My career is about winning and losing so perhaps I'm still a competitor.

TR is enjoying gymnastics. She qualified for the State Meet this year and got 3rd place on floor.  I'm glad that she found a sport she loves.  At 14 or so months old, a month after she began walking, she climbed on our couch and walked across the back like it was a beam.  

I was nervous but I remained calm because I didn't want her to pick up on my fear and fall. When she was done, I picked her up and smiled.  I called Mr. A and told him what happened and told him we needed to put her in gymnastics so she could use the balance beam.

I didn't know baby gymnastics existed! Not long afterwards Mr. A went to Babys R Us and saw a baby gym in the same lot. He went and signed up for a trial class, and called me to tell me. I was excited and when we went TR was in her element. 

When she was 3, I enrolled her in ballet and took her out of gymnastics. after a couple of months she told me she wanted to go back to gymnastics.  I reenrolled her that next session and she has been doing gymnastics non stop since.   People often ask me how I knew to put her in gymnastics so early and I tell them the balance beam story.

HOME SCHOOL

I enjoy homeschool.  When shopping for schools, we toured elite private schools and the schools I liked gave the kids freedom, independence and an ability to practice self-discipline.  Those tours made me realize how a school environment can be.   We're able to offer those values in homeschool. My top goal for homeschooling is to allow my kids to be creative, develop skills that allow them to take ownership of their education and be confident in their ability to conquer challenges and learn from failures.  With TR I see her entrepreneurial and creative spirit.  She isn't afraid of trying something new.  She believes she can do whatever she puts her mind to. That is powerful!  QT is great with money.  I appreciate his ability to plan ahead and manage money.  If he wants to be an entrepreneur his financial skills will be of great benefit.