Friday, October 28, 2016

Getting Out of Debt Step 1

I am sure you have heard of Dave Ramsey. If you haven't, it is time to look him up. Being a homeschool mom is hard. Living off of one income is hard. Working from home part time to make sure that I can help supplement my husband's income is hard. Not being able to make any headway on our debt and living paycheck to paycheck is hard. So we decided to make a change.

A couple of years ago we started reading Dave Ramsey's books. We did our budget and stuck to it pretty well. Seems like every time we would get ahead, something would come up and we would get behind again. It has been like playing catch up for the past 2 years. I finally decided that I was just sick of it. I get that stressed out feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I sit down to do the bills. We cut out our cable a few years ago, and really the only thing left to cut is our car payments. We had 2 payments totaling almost $650 a month. That is a lot of money to pay for two cars! Something had to change.

I thought long and hard about what to do. I decided the best bet was to sell my mini van. My husband was up for selling his car, but we bought his more recently than mine and were upside down in it, so mine had to go. We finally had gotten to the point where we could sell the car outright, but if we went to a dealer they would give us $2000 less than payoff. So the decision was made and we listed it for sale. Luckily it sold within a week! Bad news was that DMV is ridiculous here. I called to ask how to do it with registration and such because I need to get the title from the lien holder. The first person I spoke with told me "you cannot sell your car to a private party because it has a lien." I told her that is ridiculous and I wanted to speak to somebody else. So I did and they told me that I have to get the title before I can sell it. Well I can't get the title until I pay it off and I can't pay it off until I get the money from the buyer! Talk about a Catch 22!

We found a way around it. I am still not sure if it is how we are supposed to do it, but we met at his bank, he transferred the money to my account, I paid the total over the phone and got an email confirmation that I sent to the buyer, then we did a bill of sale at the bank and got it notarized. The buyer still has my license plates until I get the title which can be up to 3 weeks! Ridiculous! And the car is insured on both of our insurances.

So then came the hunt for a car. With my husband's long hours and later nights, it is really tough considering going with one car for long. So we spent all day Monday selling the car, all day Tuesday finding a new car and co-op, and PE, and Wednesday we had a field trip and then had to go buy a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee that we found.

Here is where more adventures started! I paid the guy for the Jeep, went straight to DMV to get plates because my buyer still has mine, then I drove it home. I got home, pulled in the driveway and saw smoke. I thought it was my rear brake was ON FIRE! I freaked out, ran to the house to find the door locked. I was banging on the door because my mother in law and the kids were there, but they were out back. I ran back to the car to get my keys, got inside, got water, went back outside and the fire was out. I threw water on it anyway because it was still smoking. My bright 7 year old asked me why I didn't just use the hose that is out front....good question!

So I took it to Firestone because they are the closest to me. They called me Thursday morning to give me a quote. I had them check the entire Jeep out and the only thing wrong was the back brakes. The entire rear brake system needed replaced. Firestone also said my front rotors and brakes should be done and quoted me almost $1300!  We bought the Jeep for $2350 so I was a little uncomfortable paying that much for brakes.  So we called my husbands friend from a long time ago who owns a shop and took it there instead. We got the rear brakes done and it didn't need the front done at all for $450. I think that is a lot more reasonable! Grammie has been a great sport driving us around all week, and then her drivers side window broke and won't roll up! So we drove around with plastic on the window for 2 days. She is getting it fixed tomorrow and I finally got the Jeep back today! I love it and am so glad we made the decision to get rid of the mini van and get an older vehicle. And the relief that comes with not having a $353 payment a month is enough to make me never want to buy a car with a payment again!

Are you trying to get debt free?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

My Charlotte Mason Adventure Part 1

I have been homeschooling for 2 years, this is my 3rd. I am not sure I can really count Kindergarten because we mostly built relationships and got a feel for the homeschooling community around here. So this could be considered my 2nd year homeschooling and I have a 2nd grader and a Pre-K 4 year old.

We have been doing Math U See and The Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading. We filled in where we could with other random subjects but it wasn't something I had plans or a curriculum for. I decided that my son was bored with Math U See. Working from home part time as a virtual assistant, taking care of the home, the kids activities, and painting doesn't leave me much time to create daily activities to help make math more fun. I decided to switch my curriculum. I went up to our local Homeschool store here, Moore's Expressions, and the lovely ladies up there showed me some options and we narrowed it down to Singapore. He took the placement test and there was a lot on it that we hadn't covered and he figured it out just with the different format. So I decided this was a winner. I haven't received it yet, but it is on its way here!

So this got me I really making our homeschool all I can? I came up with a resounding NO. I am that person that plans for the worst. In this case, the worst would be the boys having to go to public school because of some unforeseen circumstance and needing to be able to fit in and understand what is going on.

I had an Ah Ha moment and realized I was holding us back from doing what we really could be doing. We are doing a fantastic nature study based on the Charlotte Mason way called Exploring Nature With Children . I really like it because it gives you an outline of topics by season and the option to expand on them if you want to. We have started nature journaling and I realized that this was the only day out of the week that went really well. We did it together, enjoyed each other's company (mostly), and had time to explore what we wanted without any outside stressers such as what chores we had to do, what was for dinner, etc. I know my problems don't melt away with a nature study, but just getting out and enjoying our time together changed the whole dynamic of our day.

I have a friend who follows Charlotte Mason and I talked to her about this. She recommended I check out Ambleside Online's free Charlotte Mason curriculum. I did and I am in love. I purchased A Charlotte Mason Education (affiliate link) and More Charlotte Mason Education (affiliate link) and I am still reading through them, but they are a great guide on how to get started with Charlotte Mason. If you love books, love nature, and trust that your kids don't need to read Twaddle to understand, this is for you

As I am just getting started, I have downloaded all of my books, reserved them at the library if I couldn't find a free copy, and created my schedule for this coming week. I am very excited and can't wait to try it all out! Do you use Charlotte Mason's ideas? What do you think?

There are affiliate links in this post for your convenience.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Planning My Time

I have been feeling very out of sorts lately. Lately, as in ever since we started our school year back up and all of our activities. This year my oldest is in 2nd grade and my youngest is pre-k. It is the first year with both of them being involved and I was determined to be prepared. Well that didn't work out of course because I planned out 3 weeks in advance and I have all but threw it all out the window.

I find myself sitting back and thinking "this is not what I want our homeschool to be" a lot. I know I am the only one who can change it, but I have been feeling so overwhelmed and lost lately that I can't even figure out who has clean socks, let alone how I can better our school. I kept wondering and wondering why I felt like I did. Imagine taking neatly filed papers and literally throwing them all into the air. That moment when you look up and see everything flying every which way and you don't know how you will get it all back together. That is the feeling I have had every day.

So because of this feeling I have not wanted to leave the house, but have had to of course. I have had zero motivation to do anything because really, where do you start?

Then I had a playdate with a friend. I think it was more a playdate for us than for the kids because we both didn't stop talking the entire time about the things that were bugging us and she knew exactly what was wrong with me. She asked me one question: How is your chore and laundry schedule going? I said: What schedule?? As soon as summer hit it went out the window.

So this was my AHA moment. I have never in my life had a plan on when to do chores or laundry. I have to say this is one thing hubby really dislikes because I am a clutterer. I am really trying to get out of the clutterness, but it is easier said than done for sure! Last year this same friend sat me down and helped me create a schedule. Not only for chores, but for laundry and every day things. I have never ever used a planner. I am getting much better because I have one that I use daily for work and it makes my life so much easier! And I am creating my new one for my school activities, chore schedule, and laundry.

I have been so overwhelmed just thinking about how much stuff I have to do, and worrying about when and if it will ever get done. A couple week ago I just had to have proof of progress because cleaning the house is like brushing my teeth with oreos and the success is immediately replaced with the feeling that I have to do it again then next day. So I painted the kitchen. This is a task that has needed to be done since we moved in 4 years ago! I had been waiting and waiting to find the perfect "light" color because everybody I talked to said I need a light color in the kitchen, especially since I have black cabinets. Well I never found the color. I went into my garage and perused my many many gallons of Oops paint and came across a tera cotta type color. My sister said it wouldn't look right, my friend wasn't a fan, but I said screw it and threw caution to the wind! When it was done, I looked around and was so happy I just made the decision and did it. I love the color, my sister loves the color, and so does my friend. And of course hubby likes it so that is a bonus!

How do you keep your stuff in order and not get overwhelmed? Does it seem like a never ending battle?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Overwhelmed Sometimes

Do you ever look around your house and think "Wow, how did it get so messy? What have we been doing all day?" I do pretty much every day and I get very stressed out about it. I am not at all a neat freak, but my husband totally is. If he had his way everything would be clean every day.

I have tried. I have tried chore lists, I have tried timers, I have tried everything but I just can't keep up with the house. By the time the kids go to bed at 830, I have to work. I work from home so I sit at the computer from about 830-1030 every night. How else am I going to get my 15 hours a week in? With homeschooling and being around the kids 24/7, there isn't any other time. So I use what I have. Sometimes I get 1 hour in the middle of the day where the kids go to quiet time. Sometimes they are quiet, sometimes they are not. So if I play all of my cards right and everything falls where it should I can get 3 hours a day so that I don't have to work on the weekends. Sometimes that doesn't work out.

So where oh where am I supposed to find the time to clean the house every day? I know ideally I need to get rid of more things. The less stuff I have, the less I have to clean. It seems like the kids keep producing more stuff. Constantly. Today I had a slight breaking point... We have 2 living rooms. One is designated as the School/Playroom. Yesterday was one of those rare days that the boys were playing so well together all day that I didn't want to interrupt them at all and left them to it. Throughout the day they destroyed the room. They cleaned it up 3 separate times and it was fairly clean. I have spent a lot of time in that room trying to devise the best plan for storage of everything and every toy has a home. In my eyes there is no reason any toys should not be put where they belong when cleaning up.

Here is where I reached my point. I walked into the room with grand plans of activities we were going to do for school, including a Revolutionary War reenactment including throwing cannon balls (snowballs) at each other. I walk in and I get completely deflated. There are toys all over the floor again and the table is a mess. They hadn't even been awake an hour yet and it looked trashed. So I pulled them both aside and told them I am setting the timer and they had 20 minutes to clean the mess up and put everything where it goes. Whatever is not picked up at the end of those 20 minutes goes into the trash.

This is where my 7 year old Z decides he needs to take charge. What I mean by that is he decided he needed to boss his little brother around and tell him to get to work. K didn't like that at all and decided he wouldn't do anything at all to help. With 3 minutes left on the time I gave them another warning. I also took K aside and told him I understand that he is upset about being bossed around, but if his items were not picked up by the time the timer went off, they would go in the trash.

Timer went off and there was surprisingly little on the floor. K lost 2 things and Z none...until I looked at the cabinet where all of the toys are stored. There were legos and other toys shoved in crevices and stacked on top of the bins they belonged in. I threw them all away. Everything that was not in its home. The kids screamed and cried and threw fits.

This is where my book Siblings Without Rivalry is helping me so far. I stepped back and explained that there is no reason I should spend all of my time and effort organizing their toys so they can find them if they aren't willing to at least put them where they go. K continued his fit, but Z said he needed to go upstairs to calm down. Surprisingly he came down with the ipad and a meditation ready to go. He asked if we can all do it together to calm down. This was definitely a proud mommy moment that what I have been working to teach him, to find a way to cope with his anger and frustrations, is actually working! We all did the meditation and felt better.  They still aren't getting the toys back though!

What things have happened lately at your home?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Been a Little Crazy Around Here

I know it has been awhile since I have written anything of substance, but after I decided to change my blog to focus more on my art I decided I wouldn't write anything. I have been feeling a pull lately that is urging me to get back into writing, one way or another, so I figured here is as good a place as any!

A lot has happened in the past year or so. I think my last blog post was about why I decided to homeschool. Well an update is that it is still working out. There are days where I want to kick and scream and threaten to send them to public school if they don't get their acts together, but then there are days like this where big brother is teaching little brother and they are playing and getting along great.
We hatched baby chicks for a lesson over last winter and we fell in love so we decided to keep them. Then 4 out of 5 ended up being roosters so we had to take them back to the farm. So then we had a lone chicken. Our farmer friend gave us 2 more chicks to give her friends. Then we decided to try hatching some more and we actually hatched quite a bit of chickens and then some quails for him. This last time was pretty rough because we got 20 eggs and only 1 hatched out of all of them. We are keeping her as long as she isn't a he! And we purchased 2 more babies so we can have the amount of eggs we need when they all start laying. This was an adventure I never thought I would embark on, but it has been fun and the boys are learning so much from it.

My oldest is in 2nd grade now and my youngest is pre-k. I was very nervous last year about if I was doing enough, if I covered enough topics, if if if.... The test was quickly approaching and I was scared. I was scared that he would fail and it would tear him up. I was scared he would fail and it would tear me up and we would have to quit homeschooling. Well, we survived. It was 64 pages of a test that he, as a first grader, mostly had to read himself. It was a trying week full of tears and frustrations for both of us. But when we got his scores back he passed with flying colors. I didn't realize how insufficient I felt until he passed the test and all of those feelings went away. I didn't feel like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and that I was somehow failing him. Luckily I was way wrong.

So this year we are taking a more relaxed and fun approach to school, especially since the little one is joining in. Some days we just have workbook pages, but others we don't have any. We are incorporating a nature study once a week and following a curriculum which is super easy to follow and not strict at all. Today we build a ping pong ball roller coaster out of straws. Unfortunately I did most of the work because I don't quite trust the kids with a glue gun, but it was fun, and they got to help decide how the track would be built and helped remedy any track problems we came across. All in all I think it was a good day.

We have been dealing with some behavior issues lately. The 2 big ones are talking back from the older one, and hitting from the little one. I checked out the book Siblings without Rivalry and so far I tried some of the tips today and they are working. I am also planning on binge watching Super Nanny! That is all for tonight. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

My Recent Creations!

If you see something you like, it might still be available! Visit my Facebook page at and follow me on Instagram at Leah Inspired.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Home Sweet Home

I made this sign for my best friend. It was a gift for her boyfriend. I was asked to do an anchor and somehow incorporate yin-yang signs without making it noticeable. He loved it!