Monday, September 5, 2016

The Cost to Live

As our income increases I am realizing how very expensive it is to live in the Bay.  I am also realizing how great God is because He has taken great care of us, no matter our income.

In L.A., we were building our business and Mr. A was the primary income earner.  My earnings typically paid our nanny.   Back then the nanny was a lifestyle perk,  it allowed the kids to get out and mingle with other kids, build relationships and have fun and it gave me time to relax. Now I realize the nanny also gave me an opportunity to build the foundation of a business that can fund our life in the overly-costly Bay area and now employ 5 people (with 2 being Mr A and myself).

Beyond the cost of housing, utilities are a drain.  We cancelled cable because its a luxury we learned we could do without.  Our cable box kept breaking and AT&T would send new ones that would also pause while we watched t.v. and would not allow any t.v. viewing.  After more than a month of broken cable receivers we realized the kids were satisfied watching Netflix.

In the Bay there are many opportunities for exposure for kids but most of these things cost.  Gymnastics is an expensive sport and has gotten more expensive because TR is on the elite track.  We also like to stay at hotels close to the meet, when she has a morning meet more than 20 miles away.

QT is doing club track and apparently the club we chose is the most expensive in the Bay.  His team has at least two travel meets a year, to Southern California and Phoenix, so that is travel expenses.  The team is set to have meets 2 hours away so we will stay in hotels for those as well.

QT is now in football and that is an expense for  team fees and gear.

QT has found a love for tennis.  Fortunately my father is funding that but we have to prepare to fund it in the future.  QT's tennis lessons are over $100 for a hour lesson.  He is scheduled for lessons once a week.

This summer was costly because the kids did multiple camps that cost between $400 and $700 per week, plus we took a few trips.

The cost of living is stressful.  I don't believe moving would be a solution unless we moved and kept working in California.  I don't want to do that because hearings and trials would take me away from my kids.

We're continuing to increase our income and to me that is increasing my frustrating.  We would have to make probably $30k a month after taxes to be comfy.   With the economy the way it is I feel a duty to save at 1/2 of what we earn because I know that rainy day is in the horizon.  I feel like I should be able to relax some but I continue to realize I need to work even harder to move out of what feels like lower middle class in the Bay.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Homeschool Excitement

I'm very excited about our 2016-2017 school year.  The excitement is probably akin to what a kid feels knowing a trip to Disney is on the calendar.

We're going to do vision boards as an ongoing project.  "And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. Habakkuk 2:2"

QT became very confident in his reading last school year, so now our possibilities are huge.  He was able to read well last year but we felt that we should allow him time to feel confident in his reading ability.  We did lots of reading aloud last year, as well as reading to him and we watched him bloom.  He even gained confidence as a writer and his written stories grew longer and more detailed.

Now that we have passed the learning to read phase we can delve deep into our subjects.
I'm also excited that we can continue where we stopped in June.  We aren't focused on grade level. We focus on mastery.

  I'm eager to pick up on our writing skills.  I have no idea what the future is, and though it appears fewer people are writing well,  I'm determined to teach my kids how to write well!   In my profession I have to write all of the time and I have to think about it.  I want formal writing natural for my kids and that will take practice!  I  like the writing ideas shared in this educator's blog.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Many moons ago...........

I realized when my kids were babies that I wanted my kids to have a certain type of summer experience.   Mr. A's L.A. West Point Alum were members of country clubs and had cabanas at beach clubs.  We would go to the Beach clubs and I could look across and see the crowded public beach littered with people.  People were free to walk on the beach in front of the beach club but most wouldn't because it was a long walk.

It was nice to go to the beach and relax and have a nice posh bathroom nearby if a bathroom was needed. It was nice to have comfy chairs available and ready for use and the quiet, restful beach area.  It's been hard for me to go back to a public beach since that time. 

Anty_way, this summer has been busy but it has also been what my summer dreams for my kids were made of.

QT was still in track season when the school year ended.  His season was very successful. He dominated every meet among his age group. 

He did a one week sports camp and did different sports like, basketball, soccer, rugby, swimming lessons,and dance. The day after QT finished up his last meet of the season, my mom, QT and myself hopped on a train to New Orleans.  We got a sleeper car which QT loved! I enjoyed it too!  All dining car meals were included so the sleeper car is a money saver.  Train meals are pricey.  We spent the night with my L.A. cousin who moved to New Orleans and bought a cute home.




The next morning we took a greyhound bus to Atlanta. The greyhound bus wasn't part of my dreams, but the train to Atlanta was 5 days vs. a 2 day train to New Orleans and 8 hour bus ride from there to Atlanta.

We had great fun in Georgia spending time with family.  My cousins in Georgia have all boys so QT thoroughly enjoyed 5 days of playing rough and talking about boy stuff.



 A few days after our return the A family headed to Temecula for TR's gymnastics camp. 



We rented a house in Temecula Valley Wine Country.  TR had a great time and on our last night Mr. A invited her teammates and their moms over for pizza and a pool party.


Renting a house in Temecula made life a lot easier.  Last year we spent the entire camp in a hotel and hotel life is hard with 2 kids.  After Temecula we went to Legoland in Carlsbad for more fun.  I love Legoland, and the kids are the perfect age to fully enjoy it.  We stayed at the Legoland Resort which made things even easier.  I was also able to wash clothes at the Temecula house, so we didn't have to overpack and it was nice arriving at Legoland with a suitcase full of freshly laundered clothes.

When we returned from Legoland, QT started football.  Mr. A is the president of his football league so he is there and QT loves knowing and saying "my father is president".

After that first week of football, my father paid for QT to attend tennis camp at the fancy smancy Claremont Club. The coaches and my father say that QT is a natural at tennis. QT has amazing hand-eye coordination. When he was a few months old,  and I put him at the dinner table he began throwing spoons at TR. The spoons kept hitting her in the head. After the third time it happened I realized his throwing was not a coincidence. He was aiming and hitting his target.  I went to IKEA and got plastic kid utensils so he wouldn't put her eyes out.




QT also has a natural left backhand.  So far my little guy has been great at every sport.  He took a gymnastics class at the gym TR did camp at and the coaches said it's a waste that he isn't taking gymnastics.  He dominates in his age  group in track.  TR is also good at the sports she attempts but she focuses on gymnastics so she doesn't get to do as much as QT.

TR took tennis lessons on her days off from gymnastics.  I think she enjoyed the swimming more than the tennis, but she did enjoy the tennis.

Our homeschool year resumed this past Wednesday.  The kids excel academically as well as athletically, so they love school as much as they love sports. They are also looking forward to going back to art.  I had to stop art for the summer.  I needed a break from so much driving. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

It's That Time Again.........

.........time to get summer plans finalized.

One of the mom's at track mentioned that her son doesn't like camp and was acting out as he neared the end of the school year, because he doesn't want to go to camp but knows he has to.

The little boy spent a few days with us during Easter break. His mom dropped him off in the morning and in the afternoon we all went to track practice where and his mom would get him from there. The kids had a great time, so I asked if he could spend a week during summer with us.  While he was here TR and QT didn't argue and it was nice having a third child to give my kids a break from each other.

TR is doing two camps this summer, one 5 day camp and one 4 day camp and QT is doing 1- 5 day camp. We're scheduled to take a trip to Georgia and a couple of trips to southern California.

Summer is quite busy, so I plan to squeeze in a bit of rest between the activity.

I'm looking forward to not working (much) during the summer.  I am going to enjoy not having phone calls and deadlines and hopefully I will be able to get rid of some of the paper  that is consuming my life and home.

 TR's hair is back in twists and I plan to make standing appointments because its too hard to find the time if I don't pre-schedule hair appointments. I'm getting my hair twisted next week and I look forward to going to So. Cal and being cute.

Being cute in the bay is sort of useless.

I think I'll make a list of summer goals.  Time goes so quickly and when I write down a list of activities we make time to get them done and I remember to plan for those activities.

My end of summer goal is D.C. to go to the new museum but that may not happen.  If it doesn't happen in 2016, we'll suit for 2017 when the kids have a break from their sports.

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.