Saturday, July 20, 2013
In case you don't know this about me... I am a planner. I love plans. I love checklists. I love marking things off all neat and tidy. I also have a very strange love of amortization tables and seeing things paid off. I don't like debt, but house debt is a necessary evil if you are going to invest in rental properties. I have spent a HUGE amount of time over the last couple of months pouring over our finances and moving towards expanding our rental business. I am a bit OCD when it comes to these things. Even if I have worked through the numbers once or twice, I must do it again and again to be sure I did it correctly. At the beginning of this year, I pulled a notebook off my bookshelf. It was a partly used notebook - well because we homeschool and notebooks get used randomly, but not always finished. As much as I love my iPad, I have a need to actually write my budgets down on paper. I flipped to the back of this notebook and found several pages of Timmy's handwriting. It was his Apologia Biology homework from a decade ago. These things stop me in my tracks. I always am aware he is gone from this world. Occasionally, little things pop up and it feels like I have been kicked in the gut and at the same time I feel joy because it is proof that he was, indeed, HERE! Where am I going... don't you love how I ramble? So, at the very front of this notebook I began my typical monthly budgets. We use our credit card for nearly everything and while it is online - again, I feel the need to actually write down the purchases and make sure we are in line with out budget. Yes - I have Quicken. I do it there too, but not daily. Yes, I said I was OCD, remember? Recently, I decided to do a much larger business plan. One that projected the next 5 to 10 years. I broke out the amortization tables (yes, I am a nerd). I figured one scenario and then another. At the end, I felt satisfied. I had done the homework. I had built in several emergency plans. I was at peace with our decision to move on and purchase more properties. Then this life event happened... my newest granddaughter in love was born last week. And I really, really want to go down and just hold her. I want to talk baby talk to her and tell her that Mama Kari loves her to the moon and back. But I have these plans and they are written in a notebook. They say that realistically, I should rent these properties as soon as we close, save for a bit and then head to Florida. Disclaimer - I fully believe you should live within your means. For me there is living within our means and then living within a very strict set of sometimes INSANE means that I set up. Seeing the baby isn't really the problem with the budget. The other part of my insanity is that I think if we go to one place, then surely we should go to another. If we are driving to Tampa Bay, then why not go further and drive to the Florida Keys? Sebastian has never been and we haven't been in 10 years. Coincidentally, about the same amount of time as when Timmy wrote those answers in this notebook that is sitting here staring at me. We took the whole family to the Keys in August of 2003. We had plans to take Timmy snorkeling for the first time. Then Tim got a kidney stone and he had to get him home for surgery. The snorkeling got canceled and I remember very clearly telling Timmy that we would plan for another time. Well, that time never came. We never were able to make it back down to the Keys. When you lose your child, you have so many regrets. Silly little things and big, important things. So, I was sitting here looking at the page on the left that holds our long term goals for the next 5 to 10 years and on the page next to it - my son's biology homework. I was thinking that we don't know how long we have on this side. We don't know what the future holds. We do know there is a sweet baby girl in Florida that we have never met. And we do know that we could make amazing memories with our kids in the Keys. So, here I sit wondering... do we stick with the plans or occasionally throw them clear out the window (with caution, of course!)?
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
So, I know I don't blog as often as I would like. There is always something else to keep me busy, but blog posts still roll around my mind. Today, the topic of FEAR came to me. I have written about my fears here before. This is a bit different. It is not just about fear, but how fear is a motivator. It can either motivate you to act or motivate you to stay the same. There are a lot of big decisions going on in the Clayton household these days. My anxiety level is at a high. That is not all bad. Actually, most of it is not bad at all. I was thinking about how many times in my life that fear has kept me from doing what I needed or wanted to do. I think back to being really little and being afraid of riding amusement rides. To this day, they terrify me and I have tried to conquer that fear. Ain't happening. Then I think about how I was afraid to even talk to a boy, much less walk up to his door and ring the doorbell of a boy I did not know. But, somehow, I did just that. On the other side of that door was the boy I would someday marry. I didn't let fear stand in my way. When I was 25, we were ready to buy our first house. It terrified me! I ran numbers and wrote out budgets on backs of envelopes for weeks. I was just so nervous about making such a big decision. When we decided to homeschool, my right eye twitched for months!!! I kid you not, from May till August, my eye had a whole life of its own. I was sure I would mess my kid up and ruin his life. Finally, of all things, a bumper sticker gave me peace on that. I had been considering the Waldorf method for my curriculum. I had all but decided to enroll him in 5th grade, when there was a bumper sticker in front of me that said, "Education from the inside out." ~Waldorf homeschooling. I took it as my sign to go forward. Not long after 9/11, something happened with my job. It was being merged with another department. I had been working the same job, happily, for 8 years. I loved my job! I remember my boss, Bill, calling me into his office to tell me the news. I was a basketcase. The thing is... he was calm and understanding. He told me that he had a different job for me. It was a full time job that was an in office job, but he was going to take that position and turn it into a part-time telecommuting position custom tailored for me. How great was that? It was perfect, but I was stressed. I was afraid. He gave me a book and told me to read it. It was Who Moved My Cheese? It was a corny little book, but it made a lot of sense. It is so strange how there are little pieces of your life that form you. Just chance moments, impromptu conversations, random life. They shape you and transform you into a different you - hopefully smarter, stronger and better than before. So, today, I am on the other side of some decisions I was putting off because of fear. I am realizing that I still fall to the same old bad habits of letting the unknown control me to a certain extent. I would like to say that I have gotten a whole lot better at dealing with my "cheese" being moved, but I would be lying. I am, however, moving forward - pushing the fears back - making educated decisions and always looking up.
Friday, April 19, 2013
This was her classroom of choice on a warm January day.
I have been puttering around my house this week. Cleaning a bit, decluttering a bit, taking a minute here and there to really look at some old school work, some old pictures, some of the past. We are getting ready to go on vacation and we were just finishing up the last bits of school. Savannah was sort of a ninth grader this year - I say that because I am taking high school as a journey rather than a sprint. We are in no big hurry to push her out the door and into adulthood. So... we are learning rather than checking the boxes. That may happen to be finished in just 3 more years or it may very well take 4. She started school a year early and I feel like we have the freedom to pursue gymnastics, travel, field trips and many other things before she grows her wings and flies away. Mind you - I have a rule... my children can fly and plant their roots no farther than two hours drive time away. I think we made some huge progress in writing this year. This is her second year of using Institute in Excellence in Writing. I'm so happy with the results. Wish I had bought it years ago for Timmy, but you live and you learn. I don't assign literature to her because if she finds a book she likes - she finishes it in a day or two. I think if I made her break it down and read a couple chapters at a time - it would kill her love of reading. I know she understands and processes what she is reading because she "feels" the book much in the way I am when I read a book. Math - oh how I dislike you - I decided that the definition of insanity was to keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. With that - I put aside the algebra and I bought the ENTIRE set of Life of Fred. Now some of that is way, way too below her skills. I figured it was best to read a whole series though and I wanted to read it with Sebastian. So far - she is enjoying Fred's take on life and mathematics. I ordered Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Finance for teens. We are gonna work our way through Fred and this... and then back to algebra. I remembered that this is one of the reasons I homeschooled - to take the winding road and curvy path that is the best way for my child.
This was one of his favorite projects this year - making a life size body with body parts.
Sebastian is finishing his 2nd grade year. I see the most progress with him because when they are younger - you see the huge jumps in skills. He is less writing phobic, but I won't say I have cured him of his phobia. I fear that may take many, many years. It is not that he doesn't know the answer or isn't learning... it's just that he does NOT in any way, shape or form want to pick up a pencil and actually write it on paper. I have learned some things about him this year - what works and what doesn't. I started with some very creative lapbooks and unit studies. Getting him to write out the answers in each book took every little ounce of my patience. After Christmas - I decided that I was just not going to take this route anymore. I changed over to Story of the World for history and geography. I didn't require him to write the answers - just answer them back to me. I order tons of the suggested reading from the activity guide. He loves the mapwork and each day I tell him to choose a book to read. He will sit and read for a very long time without a single complaint. He loves his workbooks because they are very defined. He knows what is expected and laid out for him. So - moving on into third grade - we are gonna go with Mr. Q science and the worksheets, more Story of the World and several different workbook based programs to round out language arts. We are gonna keep on printing for at least half of the year before we move to cursive. I am toying with doing a couple days of school a week on summer break to break it up a little more during the next year. Not really sure where we are headed on that, but it will come to me eventually. Oh and after I wrote this - he finished his math for the year. He was dancing GANGNAM STYLE all around the house. I told him to sit down and finish his math. He replied, "I AM DONE!!!" and continued to dance all through the house. Silly boy!
So, here I am - 14 years of my life - homeschooling. I started for Timmy. My motivation was that I was so tired of asking him what he did wrong at school that day. Did he have a negative note? Then it turned into letting him learn to be his own person. To explore who he wanted to be. Now it has evolved to my two other children. Who do they want to be? What trek should we take? I still have about 10 more years on this adventure. Looking forward to it.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
since then. I cannot believe it has been 20 years. I mean, I feel like in many ways it has been 20 years. When I look at the card just hanging there every day - I never really thought about it being 20 years. I can't even remember my exact reasons for liking this card so much. I guess because it just fit.
"God gives us dreams a size too big so you can grow into them."
When I was 21, I had been married for close to 3 years. Timmy had just turned 4 years old. I was in college and had a full time job. We lived in the converted in-law apartment attached to my parents' house. We wanted to buy a house and start our "real life". I had so many things I wanted to do. Finish school, buy a house, have babies, take vacations, make memories. It all seemed so far off - so big - so much to work towards. In 20 years - I have finished school. I have bought a house or actually 7 houses including my parents' house that had that in-law apartment where my house dreams were just beginning. I have had 2 more babies and taken more vacations that I can begin to count. And memories... I have an ocean full of them. And, yet, if my mom had given me that card today - it would still apply.
"God gives us dreams a size too big so you can grow into them."
I still want to buy houses. I still want babies - not my own, but lots of grandbabies and nieces and nephews. I love to think about vacations. And memories... I think this drives me the most. I want to make as many wonderful memories as I can.
My birthday is hard for me. I don't love celebrating it because my sweet boy will never have another earthly birthday. It is hard to explain, but it is a feeling, an aching feeling. My head and even part of my heart tells me that God left me here for some purpose. I believe to be a mama to my kids. To be the other half of my husband. To be a good friend, daughter, sister, aunt and other mother to many. But I still have not great feelings about celebrating another birthday. And then there is this...
"God gives us dreams a size too big so you can grow into them."
Twenty years later and I still believe this to be true... I am gonna leave it on my fridge - for maybe another 20 years and see where I am then...
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Here is our economics lesson for the day... Savannah and I wanted chocolate milkshakes. Now I could have just went to McD's, but it has been an expensive month going to be followed by 2 more expensive months in the Clayton household. We are teaching our kids to budget and live within their means. We run our month from the 5th of the month till the 4th of the next month because we use our credit card for everything and that is how the cycle runs. We still have a few more days to go with an out of town competition coming up tomorrow. So... when the kids wanted ice cream... I had 3 choices:
1. Be mean and just say NO!
2. Run to McD's (so nice of them to just build one right down the street) and order us up some ice cream.
3. Run to Walmart, buy some French Vanilla ice cream to make our own.
The first option costs us nothing... but we have been sick and food has not been our friend. Both Savannah and I thought ice cream sounded good to eat and that says a lot since we have barely eaten in a couple days.
The second option was to buy shakes at McD's. McD's being way cheaper than the Sonic option across the street will still run you about $2 a shake - could be slightly more or less depending on location. So - $6 for 3 shakes.
The third option - buy ice cream at Walmart - $2.97 for a half gallon of French Vanilla. We already had milk and chocolate syrup. We used maybe half of the half gallon (that's a tongue twister!). So, about $1.50 in ice cream and maybe if we were going to be on the pricey side for milk and chocolate - 50 cents for that stuff. So, we are up to $2 for 3 milkshakes.
Here's the economics lesson... we could have spent $6 or we could have spent $2. The taste was basically the same. It took a bit more work, but heck... I needed to pull that blender out of the cabinet to find that I had not one, but two blenders. Then I asked why I had 2 blenders and Savannah reminded me that one was Timmy's. He bought a blender while were at Disney for mixed drinks and then just left it in my van. Yes, he was funny that way and that made me smile - so I'm glad I got a happy memory to go with digging out the blender. So... all in all... this is a no brainer here - it was a good idea to make our own milk shakes and hopefully some day - my kids will get that when they are at the end of the money and there is still some month left to go - they can make milk shakes and all will still be well with the world.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Monday, January 07, 2013
From our garden back in 2009
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Back in the summer of 2010, I ordered the Creative Memories Scrapbooking software. Honestly, at the the time, I was not even remotely thinking clearly. I just remember seeing it had went on sale from my friend, Michelle. The next thing I knew - I had ordered it. It is funny what I do remember from that summer because it is like seeing tiny snippets of a movie in my mind. I remember the post or email or something saying the software was on sale for that month only. I remember thinking I should get that. I don't remember why now. I guess I was thinking I was going to make sure all of my memories were put into book. Maybe I thought since I couldn't remember what I was doing at any given moment - I had better start getting our pictures and memories into books. Well... truth be told - I opened that software exactly once in the last 2.5 years. And that was last December when I needed to make a matching collage photo of Timmy to match the ones I had purchased for my kids from Picture Innovations. Well, a year has gone by. I got sucked into this bleepity bleep groupon deal for a Snapfish photo album. I was thinking I could put a book together of our many families trip to Disney. That way - I could gift the book to the other families. Hmmm... this sounds easy, doesn't it. It has been anything, but easy. I have worked on uploading the bleepity bleep photos, then I worked on finding a theme I liked and then I worked on finding some Disney clip art and ugh... all that to HATE the first two pages. I hate them because I - in a distant time and place - used to create beautiful layered pages. I love the look of layers and dimension and this snapfish is just so darned flat. Did I mention that looking at scrapping stuff took me on a whole other sidetracked journey of reading about Project Life scrapping? I like the concept, but again - hate the less layered look. After a very frustrating evening saying bleepity bleep A LOT, I decided to open my Creative Memories software. Oh my goodness!!!! Oh my goodness!!!! There are beautiful templates right there. They are one dimensional, but they look layered. I can move them and mat them and change them and OH MY GOODNESS!!! It has been on my computer for 2.5 years. It is right there! Now, I don't know how this book is going to look yet. My thinking is I will create the pages and this time - upload them to snapfish since I already paid for the groupon. It is really crazy how my brain has worked in these last couple of years. I did things, bought things, forgot things, remembered things only to forget them again. I hope 2013 brings a little more clarity to my brain. I also hope that this book is amazing and years and years from now - we will all smile when we look at that once in a lifetime trip to Disney with our very best friends.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Talking to Savannah about her chocolate advent calendar because she asked
when Christmas was while we were watching tv tonight.
Me - Why don't you know what day it is? You have an advent calendar.
Her - Dude! I ate like 13 chocolates in one day because I got so behind!
Me - Why do I buy you chocolate advent calendars?!
Her - Because I love the chocolate!
Me - That's it! I'm not buying you anymore chocolate advent calendars! I will just
get you a bag of chocolate!
Her - That would be a whole lot cheaper.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
Taken December 13, 2009
Thursday, December 13, 2012
ER. My dad would drive us around to see other people's lights and they were beautiful. Especially if you went to what we called the "rich" neighborhoods. If there was snow, he would drive like a crazy man and we would laugh like crazy! We would circle back to drive past our house to see if our lights were turned on. If they were on - it meant Santa had come to visit. If not, it meant we did another tour around another neighborhood. Eventually, we would drive by our house and those lights would be on. That single strand of lights shone more bright than any of the other houses I might have seen that night. They were magnificent in my child eyes! We would pile out of the car and run for the door. Once we were inside, we would see 4 neat stacks of gifts - 1 stack for each child. It was a magical feeling. One that I am so thankful I had the joy of having, not once, but many times throughout my childhood. I wish I had a picture of those lights hanging from our porch, but those were not the days of Facebook and smartphone cameras. We just took pictures with our memories and hoped we would never forget. My life was so uncomplicated back then. My biggest worry was did Santa really know that I wanted another baby doll for Christmas? I hope and pray that I am giving my kids that kind of childhood. The kind where excitement and happiness fills their Christmas. I hope more than anything that some day they will tell their children about their favorite Christmas memories. I know that these memories helped make me who I am and they will never leave me.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
I read back through my blog and I can't believe I have forgotten many of the things I wrote about back then. I wish I had kept up with my blog, but like so many things - the past is in the past. I want to scrapbook and blog and lose 10 lbs. I have many wants, but right now I want to remember how much fun I have with my girl. You know when you homeschool - you are TOGETHER a lot!!! I mean A LOT!!! I have said this before - I am selfish. I am selfish because I would be so very sad if I didn't see her beautiful face so much throughout each and every day. Now - don't get me wrong - we have our moments. Lord knows that hormones flair and we get on each other's nerves. But that is not the norm. Normally, we chat about everything and anything and all the stuff that falls in between. She tells me about Tumblr and I show her silly pictures on Facebook. She plays me some of her screamo music and I plead with her that she really would prefer a Country Music Festival. Right now - we spend a little while every night watching Supernatural. Randomly throughout the day, one of us will make some goofy off the wall comment about Sam or Dean. The other night - we literally said the same exact thing while watching Supernatural. Somebody said something about letting the people go and we BOTH raised our hand up and said, "Let my people go!" Oh my goodness - we laughed so hard! She is so much like me in so many ways and all at the same time completely her own person. She has so many qualities that are nothing like me and so wonderful. I would have never attempted to put up Christmas lights on the outside of the house when I was 14, but she set her mind to it and pulled it off. I don't know if I realize so much more how quickly these years pass by or what, but I feel like I embrace it more than I did when Timmy was a teenager. I guess I didn't see that he would eventually grow up and move out. With her I see the future - not clearly - but the blurred picture of how time rolls along. I know before too long, she will probably have a job and a boyfriend and our Supernatural (or whatever the show will be then) will only come sporadically. I love this child of mine. I love the time we are sharing and I wish I could bottle it up and keep it. I know I can't, but that sure doesn't make me want it any less.
Monday, December 03, 2012
I sat down to update my facebook status after one of our more busy than normal weekends. Right as I clicked on my fb page - I thought - this is the thing you used to blog about before you had a facebook. You know the stories I used to write down so my kids could read them some day... So - here I am writing a blog post instead of a fb post. December has rolled in busy and full of stuff this year. Friday (okay, so it was the last day of November) we had art and science followed by gymnastics followed by game night for the teens. Did I mention game night was 45 minutes away? My friends and I did the shuffle kids from here to there dance that we have grown to do with great ease. We make it look easy - never mind that when I tell my mom who took who where and when that I make her dizzy. We arrived home from game night a bit after 11pm. Then it was time to pack the gymnastics bag and my bag and lay the clothes out all to be ready to leave for a gymnastics competition by 7:15 in the STINKING MORNING!!! The next morning we all assemble with our girls - braided hair glittering, shiny pink warm-ups and a few smiles to go around. We parents and grandparents settle onto the bleacher for the next 8 hours of gymnastics competition. We share snacks and stories and laughter. In between that we wonder if we will ever get feeling back in our behinds from these dang bleacher seats. We finally shuffle home around dinner time. That brings us to today where we gather once AGAIN at gymnastics to decorate a float for the Christmas light parade. Okay, I didn't do any decorating. I got there late because my lovely daughter had mud on her only comfortable walking shoes and we had to wash and dry them. We still got there in time though. We load up our girls in adorable matching hoodies and send them off to be in the parade. After a quick stop to pick up 2 dozen Krispy Kreme, I head over to watch the parade with friends that are more like family to me. We eat donuts and we go back to that familiar talking and laughing we shared the day before. While our girls are on the float in the parade, our boys are playing "football" with a rolled up jacket. Finally, we see the first float coming our way. We gather to watch are our Barefoot Gymnastics girls go by. In a blink, they pass us! Just like that! We finish the parade, gather our girls and walk back to the cars. Say our goodbyes and finally head home. It has been a LONG and BUSY weekend for us... many of us. I am tired and my heel spurs are SCREAMING! My jammies are calling and all I can think about is getting comfy on my couch. When I finally curl up with my sweet girl sitting next to me - I look over at her and I think - this is just a season. Before I know it - it will change. The crazy gymnastics stuff and driving from here to there and everywhere - it will move on. It always does. It is just one of those seasons. I send a silent thank you up to God for the busy, crazy weekend. For stupid felt penguins crafts that don't GLUE together, for snap circuit projects that weren't quite recorded on an experiment sheet, for filling my van with not only my daughter, but my dear friends' daughters and rushing them off to gymnastics practice, for cutting silly strips of fabric for hair bows the night before competition, for driving out to BFE so our kids can get to know other homeschoolers, for Starbucks with friends while we wait on those kids to finish game night, for friendly faces that cheer all of our children on at competition, for Christmas light floats that show off our priceless children, for Krispy Kreme donuts and good friends to share them with, and for life - crazy, wonderful life. Yep - I am tired and my heel spurs are screaming, but I would not change it. I would not give up one moment of this. Life comes at us in seasons, they seem like they are forever at the time, but really before we know it - we move on to the next... right now we are in Barefoot Season!
Friday, August 24, 2012
So, this very strange phenomenon occurs each time Tim and I go out of town... something at one of our rental houses breaks or something else goes wrong with a tenant. Seriously, it seems like every. single. time. I am trying to enjoy my
gluttony meal at Golden Corral - my cell phone rings. I say, "Hello?" Then there is a tenant on other end saying something like, "Blah, blah, blah, broken fridge, blah, blah, blah, my wife left me and we are moving out early, blah, blah, blah." Then my gluttony meal somehow loses its appeal and I begin putting out whatever fire needs tending to. Tonight, I am ready to leave on a family vacation in the morning to Washington DC. Somewhere in the back of my mind - I am thinking - what can go wrong this week - while we are away. Maybe we can sneak this one trip in without our appliances or tenants being none the wiser. Then it happened. I was scanning the channels and I saw the weather channel with the "hurricane cone" and you guessed it... it could go right to Tampa Bay. I guess I have been under a rock because I didn't even know this storm was out there. Now it is *only* a tropical storm at the moment. But I have to wonder... if I am going out of town will some cosmic energy churn that tropical storm into a hurricane and send it right towards my Florida rental property? Let's hope not... I don't have any immediate plans to go to Golden Corral at any time during this trip. Maybe if I expand my dining horizons - it will break the curse - and this storm will fall apart long before it gets near Florida. I can hope right? Or, maybe, I should just leave my cell phone in my van when we head into a restaurant.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
An Inch of Gray - and it reminded me of something I have been wanting to write about because I just don't want to forget it. Sebastian does this thing when he is happy. He skips! I have stood back at Walt Disney World and seen him skip off to the line with Savannah. I have caught him skipping as he goes from one activity to the next at Kid Kamp. I smiled as he skipped his way down to the beach when we were there in May. I have never been able to catch him with my camera because it is sporadic and never really planned. He reminds me of Tigger! You know how Tigger hops everywhere because he is full of joy! It does this amazing thing with my heart when I see him skipping around. It takes a bit of the pain I am feeling and it pushes it far, far away and gives me this amazing feeling of love and happiness. All from something as simple as watching him skip from place to place!