Monday, January 17, 2011

Laughing out loud

I recognize that humour is completely subjective and some things I find funny, others won't get at all.  What makes some people laugh, makes me angry.  But I have always had a sense of humour about myself and have been quick to laugh when a good joke is told at my expense.

For example: I was married before I  met the love of my life.  It was a bad marriage from start to ugly finish and I should never have married the guy.  But and I did and it has made me richer in a lot of ways.

The joke here was made by one of my very best friends.  I was separated from husband #1, shacked up with soon-to-be-husband #2 and pregnant with our first child.  Essentially, my good friend pointed out, I was married to one man, living with another and pregnant with a bastard child - all that was missing was the trailer.

I still laugh out loud at that one.

The legacy of my first husband was that he had me believe I was, among other things, a lousy cook.  Of all the hurtful things he said and did, this was the one that really stung, especially when criticism was delivered after I had worked hard to make dinner.

"How do you expect to ever be able to take care of a baby when you can hardly take care of us?"


Now that I truly am a stay-at-home mom I have had time to prove to myself that I am an awesome cook and baker.  True, some of my more daring experiments don't always work out.  My current husband has learned that if you don't like something I made, tell me.  It won't hurt my feelings, and if you pretend to like it, I am going to make it again.

On the weekend, I made a chicken pot pie that I had to hide so hubby would not eat the whole thing.  And he kept telling me how good it was, so many times in fact, that I was almost embarrassed.  The boys  loved it too which, as anyone with kids will agree, is the true test.

My kids always tell me that no one makes chocolate chip cookies as good as I do and they gobble up my tomato sauce that is loaded with pureed veggies they don't even know are there.

So even though I still have pangs of pain, the joke is on hubby #1.  I found my niche and my happiness and a family that is grateful.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Feeling stripped down

For the first time in 20 years, I was without a vehicle today. It was a strange feeling this morning when I opened the kitchen blinds and no vehicle was sitting in the driveway. Hubby had some business to take care of that required him to fly to Edmonton and the $70 cab fare to the airport was just too hard to swallow. So we decided that it would be prudent for him to take the car. He suggested we drive him there in the morning, but losing an hour and a half of sleep and waking the boys at 4:30 am to save myself from a 15 minute walk is just stupid. Today, my cheapness won out over my laziness. That is a war no-one wants to see.

I was a bit stressed out about the walk to school for two reasons.

1) My boys could whine and moan the whole way there, stressing me out even further.
2) I wasn't sure how my knee would handle the uphill climb on the way home.

Make that three reasons: 3) I could moan and whine the whole way there.

Well, the fates smiled on me today. First, the boys completely understood that we did not have a vehicle today and were actually - wait for it - co-operative. It had started to snow and it was nice to watch the boys trying to catch snow flakes on their tongues. And my knee did not squeak once on the way home. Success!

What really made me feel naked today was the absence of my blackberry - hubby had that too. Naturally, since today is Monday, it did not take long for the voicemail to fill up. I thought I would be completely lost without it. I was completely surprised to discover that not only did I not miss it, I actually had a day without disruptions.

I had time to get a large chunk of work done.

I had time to have a picnic with my youngest on the kitchen island.

I had to time to let him whoop my a$$ in Wii.

I had time to think about what a great day it has been without that little tyrant buzzing incessantly in my pocket.

And I enjoyed walking to and from school today. Thankfully one of my neighbours helped me out by picking up my youngest after kindergarten. I think this would have been a different post if I had walked to and from school six times today.

I suppose this is what it is going to be like for our leaner, greener year. I'm not loving it yet, but I'm also not looking for solace in a bag of Doritos.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A leaner, greener 2011

I have a renewed energy going into 2011. Since 2010 ended with such a pffft, I had no choice but to look ahead with a positive attitude.

To start off, on November 1st, my wonderful husband was outsourced from his job. It was an unbelievable blow to our family, since we had planned to retire from the company with a very well-padded rrsp and loads of stocks to pass on to our sons. In one afternoon, that little dreamy bubble was burst. To his credit, my husband immediately started working the phones to find new employment. After almost 2 months, he found something, but it is far from his dream job. The work will not be challenging to him and the compensation is well below what we have become accustomed to.

Leave it to a 6-year-old to find the wisdom to assess the situation: "Well, if this new job means less toys and more daddy, then I think that's a good thing." BAWL.... Of course, our 5-year-old was more practical: "I want more daddy and more toys!" Bless them.

So we have had some adjusting to do. We have been looking long and hard at our finances, which have always been somewhat of a mess. We met with our bank and re-negotiated our mortgage. Huge savings there. We are cancelling all the frivolities in our life - and the cable is the first to go. We hardly ever watch TV. Our lives and schedules just don't mix with TV listings, so we always stream the shows we like to watch over the internet. That will save us $780 per year.

When I actually sat down to make my case with my husband, I had all my numbers ready.
  • If we had to rent every episode of the top 3 shows we like, the average cost per season would be $20.00 per show, or $60 per year. I told him if we rented every episode of every Star Trek franchise (of which there were 5) it would still cost less than $700. SOLD
  • We hardly every watch TV through the week. On the weekends, we might watch for 5 hours over the course of Saturday and Sunday. If I had to estimate, I would say we watch 10 hours of TV per week. With cable, we are paying almost $20 per week (or $2 per hour) to surf channels. Our internet surfing is costing us about $12 per week (or $0.34 per hour). SOLD
In December, I started going back to the gym. After two visits, I tore the ligaments in my left knee and I was really suffering a lot of pain. The doctor told me I had to switch to non-impact exercise like an exercise bike or aquafit. GAAAAA. I have never loved aquafit, and the class times at the Y don't work for me anyways. We have a bike in the basement that is just sitting there waiting for some love. And the Y increased their monthly rates this year, so it just seems appropriate that I cancel.

Truth be told, I did not really need an excuse to cancel the Y membership. While I feel crappy about not going to the gym, I feel great about the money we will be saving.

And then I started having chest pains. The cardiologist says there is nothing wrong with my heart and I most likely experienced either a) anxiety (ya think?) or b) severe reflux from not eating properly (as in yes, I skipped breakfast again). Still, the non-heart attack was scary as hell and really made me realize I am not ready to die. I have to see my kids grow up and I have to get some life insurance.

So now January is here. We made no resolutions this year, but we are trying to trim our budget, our bodies and our carbon footprint.

We are down to one car and we are going to see how sustainable that is for our family. Digital Shoebox contracts and invoices are now completely paperless. We have tossed the junk food from the pantry. If hubby can work mostly from home, we can both walk the kids to school and plan physical activity we can do together (get your mind out of the gutter...but that would be fun too!).

2011 is going to be a lot of fun for us. I love knowing that we will be bonding more as a family. I am also getting back into my writing and getting my house in order. The boys now have their own space in the basement and I have my main floor back. I am completely stepping out of my comfort zone and trying to go without some luxuries. Vacations will be put on the back burner as will our plans to buy a vacation property. I am okay with all of it. This family has never been without the things we need and we can certainly live without some of the things we want.