Friday, July 21, 2017

Finances on a Friday

Our daughter cried when we told her we wouldn't be able to go to PEI this summer.

It hadn't even been on our radar, but apparently it had be on her little barely-five-year-old mind. She looks at our photo books constantly and loves seeing the happy pictures of vacations past.

She must have been looking at the book from a couple of summers ago, when we went on our one-and-only family vacation to PEI for three (or was it four?) nights of camping by the ocean.

She cried when she brought up PEI and I had to tell her it wasn't happening.

She cried, and so did I.

Right there in the accountant's parking lot.


Nope, this isn't the light "Happy Friday" post that so many bloggers reserve for the TGIF-iest of days.

Talking about money is hard.

Harder than it should be.

Harder than it NEEDS to be.


We have been struggling lately because of Reasons and those Reasons were the yucky beyond-our-control kind of Reasons.

(Those are the worst, aren't they?)

Financial worries have ruined a lot of days for us, mainly me, lately. I have had dark, terrible days when it seems like nothing will ever be OK again. I have let the worry consume me.

We are not out of the woods yet, but today we made some decisions that have me feeling a little lighter inside. 

I'm grateful for the caring professionals who have helped us figure things out. I'm also grateful to have a partner who is equally determined and disciplined (mostly, unless the dream of a truck is involved) when it comes to Being Responsible With Money.


Money is hard, but in the end it really is JUST MONEY. 

You're likely never going to be an ideal financial situation, or maybe you are, but it will kill you slowly if you let it fog up your mind.

Sometimes you pay things you don't want to pay, but it's for the best.

You take money from an account you really don't want to take it from, but it's for the best.

It's all digital "money" organized into different digital folders in your online banking profile, and just because it doesn't look the way you envisioned it doesn't mean it's "wrong."

Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and realize you are -- as difficult as it feels -- on the right path, and that it's just going to take MORE time and MORE discipline to get where you need to be.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Why schoolwork is saving our summer vacation

One of the most fun summer activities at our house isn’t swimming in the inflatable pool, playing on the new monkey bars or having water fights with the neighbours.

It’s a daily spelling test.

It all started exactly one week into summer vacation. The kids were staying up much later than usual because of the summertime backyard merriment. Dinner was served later because everyone was playing happily with friends and then bedtime was delayed because everyone had gathered in the yards to chat and watch the dogs run around.

The much later bedtime meant everyone was too tired for our nightly reading practice with our soon-to-be Grade 2 student. After a full week without him reading to us, I knew we had to change things up. If nighttime could no longer be reading time, then I’d move it to the morning when everyone’s fresh and awake.

Then I decided to go even further. After all, I reasoned, his reading’s good but his writing and spelling could use work. What if I changed the kids’ summer morning routine from lazing in front of the iPad to a casual form of, dare I say it, homeschooling?

I announced the change that evening.

“When you wake up in the morning, no iPad or TV — or any screens,” I added. “Instead, you’re going to read one long book (or two short books) to your sister and then we’re going to do some writing or spelling or math together. Fun, right?”

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene ...

Monday, July 17, 2017

A sneaky way to remake a $3 footstool

Footstools are apparently the unsung heroes of the thrifted furniture world. They’re cheap, quick to make over and I can’t get enough of them.

My obsession started when I tucked a low footstool under my desk a few months ago. I couldn’t believe how much more comfortable I felt with my knees slightly raised. I felt like one of those happy 90-degree-sitting stick figures in an occupational therapy brochure on workplace health.

I marvelled over that secondhand footstool and asked my thrift-savvy mama to keep her eyes peeled for more of them.

I redid one for our daughter’s bedroompainting the legs gold and covering the top with fluffy white faux fur — but then she delivered one that had me stumped.

The price was right — three dollars — but it the foam was severely dented on one side, like the previous owner’s feet had stuck to a single position for years or even decades. If I was going to redo it, it was going to need a life-saving foam transfusion — stat!

After a couple of coats of white paint on the wooden legs (Casement by Fusion Mineral Paint), it was time to fatten up the footstool’s cushion.

I had two squares of foam leftover from another project (remember those extra-long window seat cushions?) but neither was large enough to cover the top of the footstool.

I didn’t want to be wasteful, so this is where I got a little daring and decided to see if math would be my friend (for the first time ever) ...

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home ... 

Continue reading in my weekly DIY column, My Handmade Home ... 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Indoor solutions for ‘Mom, I’m bored!’

As much as I remind my children, “only boring people get bored,” they still complain of boredom — especially during the summer when they don’t have school, their usual activities are on hiatus and many of their friends are away at their cottages.

If it were up to my kids, they’d happily watch television (or YouTube videos, in my daughter’s case) until their eyeballs melted. While I do think a bit of extra screen time is OK during the summer — after all, it’s their vacation — it’s still only a small portion of the day. And those summer days? They can be looooooong.

We spend a lot of time outside in the summer, (A LOT) but there are also times when I need to keep the kids entertained inside — and without me — since I work from home.

So here are 13 ways I’ve answered the moans of, “I’m bored,” and I plan on using every single one of them this summer.

1. “Put on a performance.” 

Our dress-up clothes don’t get a lot of use anymore, so I’ll tell them to find costumes and put together a play for me. We also have a kid-friendly keyboard and microphone, so maybe there will be a concert as part of the performance.

2. “Make a circuit.” 

Our son’s been talking about circuits ever since the Discovery Centre re-opened. Every time I Google how to make our own, I get icky flashbacks to Grade 6 science. But I’m determined to get the basics this summer — battery, light bulb, bulb holder, insulated wires — and see if we can make it work.

Continue reading my other 11 ideas in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene ...