Decision Fatigue and the Sundress

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There’s a thing called decision fatigue (pdf download of an interesting journal article on self-control and decision making). Basically, after you make a bunch of decisions, the quality of your decisions decreases until, eventually, you’re making full-on stupid decisions.

Decision fatigue is one of the things that keeps poor people poor. You’re under this pile of bricks and each one has something written on it. This one over here says, “food” and this one over here says, “feed the kids” and this one says, “Gas bill” and this one over here says, “do something to maintain your marriage” and that one over there says, “save money” and there’s one right next to my face that says, “buy a sundress for your friend’s graduation party” or “just get fast food for dinner” or “spend time with the kids” or “check the homework and sign the homework planner” and “go to the gym” and “make a salad” and it’s like all the decisions forever are all etched into these bricks and it’s YOUR responsibility to lift every one and put it in order. Sure, the first bricks are easy to put where they need to be. “Get the kids to school” and “feed them a healthy breakfast” make the cut. “Do the dishes” happens but it’s a little tougher and by the time  you’ve gotten to “make a healthy dinner for the family” your  muscles are downright shaky any you’re starting to question if you can, in fact, keep this wall from toppling down on you. No matter how you feel the bricks – and the choices – keep piling up.

Decision fatigue changes that from, “stack all the bricks in order of what is most important and do it every day and don’t veer from it” to, “oh look a sundress wouldn’t it be nice to have something cute for a change”

Moving the bricks is drudgery. It’s the same thing, every day. Check the bank account. Make sure there are no surprises. (move the brick, move the brick) and it’s true that forming habits of checking the accounts and making sure things are paid and knowing my bills by heart is all helpful with not using so much thought on these things but it’s not a perfect system.

I dream of having enough money to just let everything auto-draft right out of my checking account. To just know there’s enough in there and we can cover it all. It would be like having a magical brick machine that moved the bricks off of me and put them … somewhere else where I don’t see them and only have to check in once a month to make sure everything has happened as planned.

I’ve spent so many years with “No” as my default answer. years NOT spending money and NOT shopping and NOT getting nice things for myself, my husband, and my children. Sometimes I berate myself for it because how silly to be tired from NOT doing things. Instead of the store I can hang out at home. Instead of the movies we can just play a game at the kitchen table. Instead of a museum you guys can just go to the park. How can I complain when I have all thse other alternate choices, I should consider myself lucky!

When they are things you really want to do (or normal things only you and the other poors can’t do) they wear down your decision fatigue. Not doing something is as much a decision as doing something when it’s an active choice.

Let’s be honest with one another. I’m totally buying a sundress. Decision fatigue is like an old volcano and it needs a sacrifice in order to stay quiet. I’ll do my best to not completely kill the budget by amiing for an at/under pricepoint of $35.00 so, obviously, it’s not going to be a fancy, designer sundress but if I seriously have to go to the thrift store one more time? Just…no. (I don’t know what your thrift store looks like but the plus section in my thrift store is like the eighth circle of hell.) I consider it a compromise even as part of my brain will – I’m sure – consider it a failure and lack of willpower.

So this is how it is. I stack the bricks and I move the bricks and I keep track of them as I build a wall every month and make sure the whole thing doesn’t topple on me and crush me and, every once in a while, I say fuck it and buy a sundress.

When was the last time  you gave in to decision fatigue and just bought something that wasn’t in your budget?

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Bikes and Buddies and Community and Thankfulness

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Charity: Giving something to someone. No expectation of a return.

Community: Giving something to someone. May be paid in beer or soda. No expectation of a return. Knowledge that if you need a hand that person is there for you like you were there for them.

We watched our daughter riding her friend’s bike and knew something had to be done. Not because my daughters asked for bikes or complained they did not have them. They never complained about anything, really, except the turn-taking-game-choosing unfairness of life that plagues all children with siblings. As parents, we watch them and want things for them. The want is the small, dark, and forever gnawing at the bright parts of your heart. It feeds on your love and your happiness to whisper in the middle of the night, “You’re not good enough. This time it really mattered and you botched it.”

I’ve had a little bike-monster gnawing at me for a long time now. My girls have scooters and have been able to (mostly) keep up with the neighborhood kids. They haven’t seemed particularly sad or depressed or angry they don’t have bikes. I wasn’t even sure they wanted them in any kind of active way until I saw MIddle Sister on her friend’s bike riding like she had been forever. I was both thrilled for her and felt the little monster take on new strength, telling me how awful I was for not doing the right thing and providing my kids better transportation options.

Logic kept asking, “Where will they go on the bikes?” “You know only one can ride a bike so far, yes?” “Won’t you worry more if she has the ability to go farther away?”

The little monster ignored the cries of Logic and kept on gnawing. Every bite piercing with not-good-enough pain. The message taking little chunks of the light with every bite. Chewing away my fear along with my happiness.

This is a town where people will help out a friend for a case of beer if you can swing it and the company if you can’t. It might be our pre-existing relationships helping us along but, even without those, his skills are valued and so he trades them – and beer –  for car repairs and help moving things. Friendships are the kind I only dreamed about growing up where a community of people help one another and everyone feels they have someone to turn to in a time of need. Friendships based on mutual respect.

So this is how we ended up with two bmx bikes and a 22” bike one of the girls can grow into that need a little bit of work and (even without a little bit of work) are rideable.

These are the moments that quiet the little monster.

The moments that make you feel like you belong.

Times where, for just a moment, you feel optimism and hope and even forget how rare those feelings are.

I’ve spent so many years on the outside looking in. Looking in on social circles I didn’t know how to join. Looking in on parties I didn’t know how to attend. Looking and wanting and wishing and feeling so lonely while being so grateful for the few true, close friends I do have because without them I would have been truly adrift.

But now we have community. That means things like bikes made to take a beating because that’s what’s going to happen to them. If one of the kids forgets to use the kickstand and drops the bike on the ground to excitedly join her friends? I won’t cry for the paint job or the frame or the cost of that bike that just hit gravel without a second thought. There will be time to teach her to treat her bike with care and respect but this summer she will just get to enjoy the trip and have fun when she gets to her destination.

I just happen to be raising girls who happen to prefer trees and skinned knees and sliding into first base. If they loved tea parties I would have different opinions on what they need because all loves are good loves for children to have. I think it’s my job as a mother to help them have what they need to enjoy the things they love.

Bikes and trees and softball-skinned knees, that’s what little girls are made of.

For now.

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How We Spent It! (4/15/15)

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I’m so excited Mr. Brickie is back at work. It’s day two and we heard that he is going to be working another day or two and then they’ll be off until the stone gets in. It’s been ordered but, well, shit happens.

I have this tagged with the unemployment graphic because he’s only been at work one day (not including today) so he’s technically not working even though…well…you’ll see in a minute. Next week I’ll use the regular graphic again. (Like you care. This is a classic case of overexplaining. Don’t do that.)

Here’s a weird thing about being a union bricklayer. When they tell him he’s off and they’ll call him when the stone is in we are not sure if he is supposed to take another job if they call. We are still waiting on the call from the foreman from last season who wrote a recommendation letter for Mr. Brickie and wants him on his job. When this job called Mr. Brickie hesitated for a split second but he knows that the goal is to get working and keep working so he (almost) immediately said yes to this job. There is no waiting for the other company.

But…if they call during the time that he is off….I’m not sure what protocol is. I’ll let you know when we find out. Maybe that’s only curious and interesting to me. If it is, my apologies.

The last two weeks instead of unemployment Mr. Brickie was working on a side job. So we actually have a grip of cash to spend on this fabulous How We Spent It Wednesday!

$1,612.42 Total In The Bank Account
– $495.12 Car Payment (total owed $5,907)
– $100.00 Capital One CC
– $440.00 Geico (6 month auto payment)
– $117.30 Amazon Visa
– $200.00 Living Expenses
– $260.00 Rent Savings Account
————
= $0.00 ←- boom! zero based budget success!

If there is money left from the $200 by next week (sometimes there is) I just put it toward a bill and then leave $200 for the next week. If he only works two or three days this week he won’t make but a few hundred dollars next Wednesday when he gets the check. I may put that back into the emergency fund instead of paying more things down. It depends.

At this point it feels like it doesn’t matter how the money is allocated, as long as our focus does not falter and things get paid off. Once he starts working on the regular, however, I think this is all going to get cleaned up so fast and then I can dump money into savings for back-to-school and Christmas and Birthdays and Car Insurance and Renters Insurance and *gasp* maybe even a Vacation Fund (get the fainting chair!)

But mostly a good emergency fund. That’s always the first priority. Well, mostly. I probably should have done more replenishing of the emergency fund today because, as you can see, I replenished zero of the emergency fund.

He still has about another week of work left on the side job (I know, since I’m doing budget/finance blogging I’m supposed to call it a “hustle” but hustle is what gets you a gig, it’s not the gig itself so it kind of drives me nuts in a “words mean things” way.) so when he’s off waiting for the stone to come in for the next part of the job he will have something to do to keep generating income. Since he is union and an apprentice his side gigs are not bricklaying gigs. Just general labor.

Things are looking pretty stable. I hope it continues in this vein. (I almost said vain just to mess with people right after saying “words mean things” like I’m totally pedantic.)

Scentsy MLM Update (longer than usual – you have been warned)

I’m breaking even! It’s all I really wanted so I’m happy. I even achieved some kind of award level. It’s the lowest one possible because believe-you-me I’m not talking incessantly about this on facebook and I’m not hitting people up in the grocery store. NOPE^100

Super Winning MLM Moment: This week, I told someone, “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to take care of your Scentsy needs anymore. I hope you have a great week!” I’m not nearly desperate enough to put up with people’s mess. My not-messy people know who they are because they get good samples and no pressure. <3

I’m not trying to grow this into anything other than a self-sustaining habit. Also, my house smells freaking amazing. I tossed a scent pak in each of our cars and they smell good now, too. (My kids picked Paradise Punch for their room and it smells exactly like tropical punch kool aid and they love it. I just stuffed the scent pak in the back of a stuffed animal with a zipper. I’m not going to have liquid wax in a kid’s room. Sure it’s non-toxic, but who wants to clean that if it spills??)

If you have questions about scents or warmers or whatever you know you can always ask me. If you don’t? Let’s pretend this part of the post never happened. As usual.

Want to make your house smell awesome? Yeah. That’s a link. Don’t get mad, there was a whole header warning you this was about to happen.

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Guess Where Mr. Brickie Is?

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Where’s Mr. Brickie?

He’s not here…..is he there?

He’s not over in a chair. He’s not still asleep in bed with a pillow on his head.

Where could he be? What could he be doing? Is he hiding in the hall?

HE’S AT A WORK SITE MAKING MONEY Y’ALL

Not, “At a side job.” Not, “Doing a family member a favor.” Not, “Painting something.”

At a bricklayer work site doing bricklayer things. WITH BRICKS. (…and maybe stone)

We found out yesterday, including the all-important address, but I still didn’t want to say anything because I get tired of saying THIS IS IT and it turns out the “this” is, in fact, “not it” and I slink back to my hole where the lying liars go after they’ve lied. Plus, after last year saying, “any week now” lasted through the end of June and I felt like it was a record player skipping back over and over.

But he’s THERE at the SITE right NOW so NO TAKESIE BACKSIES they have to keep him. He’s like a stray puppy and they are kind hearted children. I also filed unemployment certification Monday for the two prior weeks so we are about to have a serious influx of cash by the end of the month. Tomorrow unemployment goes through and then next Wednesday the new job paychecks start and there is still time to get two more before the end of the month.

I have a list here somwhere of target savings goals for birthdays, Christmas, back to school (FOR THREE KIDS OH YEAH) and insurance. Basically I need to save $200 from each paycheck in addition to replenishing the emergency fund and the $260/mo. I put into the rent fund. I’m not sure if it will be enough but starting so early in the season, we COULD – if things go well – have an extra $2200 for those categories before June 28 when he started work last season.

The only weird thing? He’s working with a different company than he did last season. We were so sure he’d go back to that company – and I’m sure they’re still going to call him – but you have to go with the job that’s offered to you. This is a company he hasn’t worked for before but one of the BAs at the union called him for the gig. If you know anyone that’s going to become part of a union, please tell them how important the meetings are. Mr. Brickie never sees anyone from his class at the meetings and rarely sees early-on apprentices. They don’t see the value, because they don’t understand networking. People want Mr. Brickie to succeed because they know him and showing up to the meetings and talking to people is how he got to know them.

Sure he lerned it from watching me back in the business ownership days where I would go to networking events all the time and meet new people, but he is taking it to a whole new level.

The season has started!! Let’s see how much different things are at the end of this season, shall we? I can’t wait to get started!

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Our Very First Super Simple Budget

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The first time we made a budget it didn’t look anything like the one we have today. It was a list of all our bills, expenses, and income on a piece of paper I tore out of a spiral notebook.

==================================================================

Our Budget (Month) (Year)

Name of bill $xx.xx (Date Due)
Name of bill $xx.xx (Date Due)
Name of bill $xx.xx (Date Due)
————————-
Total bills $xxx.xx

How much do I think we spend on gas? $xxx.xx
How much do I think we spend on food? $xxx.xx
How much do I think we spend on eating out? $xx.xx
—————————–
Total Expenses $xxx.xx

Income $xxxx.xx

Income
– Expenses
– Bills
————-
= $xxx.xx ← amount to put toward debt. (If this number is negative you have to reduce an expense, double-check your bills to see if you can cancel something like cable, or look at making some extra cash on the side to make up the difference.)

===================================================================

That’s it. That was the whole budget. When we first wrote it out it was dark, because it was the first day we realized we didn’t make enough money to pay our bills. We were short about a hundred bucks but that was before we added in gas money to get to work.

My biggest problem in the early days was forgetting something was due and “overpaying” a bill because I was excited we had extra money that turned out not be extra.

No one is impressed by my very first budget and it looks so simple it never convinces anyone to just sit down and write everything on a piece of paper. So I’ll never be a guru helping others to budget because it’s too easy. Well, it looks too easy. Like “eat a little less, move a little more” is too easy for people working on nutrition. I’m guilty of that one, for sure! “There has to be more to it. There has to be.” It’s the same thing with the budget! “There has to be more to it!” people say.

There isn’t. Sure, it gets a little more complicated when you have to track how much gas you use in a month, but not that much. (I recommend looking at your debit statement or credit statement to figure this out, it’s much easier than holding on to receipts for a month. How much do we spend eating out? (That’s the royal “we” … my family eats out once a month and it always costs $35 give or take a couple dollars.) The regular monthly expenses are tough, but rounding is your friend. Once you know how much-ish you spend a month on living you can make a real budget you won’t go over.

It took me almost a year to stop making “bonus” payments into credit cards or trying to pre-pay principal on a car note. That’s how it is, though. Whatever your bad habit is? You’ll discover it by writing down your budget and following it for a few months.

I’ve tried online budgeting systems but they’re too complicated for me. I hate the idea of pretend-hiding my money and living on last month’s money. I want to know where all my pennies are. Something pretty? Don’t need it. I keep my budget on a Google Spreadsheet so I can edit it on my phone and so my husband can check it out whenever he wants.

We don’t have regular budget meetings as a couple because he would rather I take care of everything. It works because he is also NOT a spender. He doesn’t come home all, “Oh, by the way I went shopping and spent money on stuff.” Basically, he gets to ignore the budget because he doesn’t do stuff to mess up my budget.

He isn’t working yet this season but he might have a side job lined up. If he does that would cover topping up the emergency fund, topping up the rent savings, and paying our auto insurance for the next six months. We will have to see how everything shakes out. When we don’t know how things are going to shake out I make a plan for each possible outcome because it’s a simple change of the budget once you’ve got the basic habit down.

Have any questions about budgeting? Let me know. Do you remember doing your first budget?

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After the Rain Comes the Morning

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These grey days make me feel comforted. Sunshine screams, “Get outside and do something right now!” While the overcast day says, “Hey girl. You have errands? That’s cool. Let’s do those. Eventually, though, there’s going to be tea and a good book.”

Yes, overcast day, yes there will.

I was up most of the night. Something about the pouring rain wouldn’t let me sleep. It was one of those lucky no-sleep nights where you are comfortable under your blanket on your pillows. Unable to sleep but able to enjoy the comfort and let the mind wander. My mind always wonders about finances with an occasional break to worry about my girls in school. Right now, however, there’s not much in the finance sector to worry about. Our bills are what they are and our plan is what it is. There is enough coming in to tread water and his work status is “any day now.” My goal for the beginning of the season is always to just try and relax and let things happen how they are going to happen.

As it happens, by the time the alarm went off it pulled me out of a deep, comfortable sleep I didn’t know I had fallen into. Curled up on my right side, I unburrow my left arm and try to turn over as little as possible to hit the snooze button on the phone that sits on the endtable at my back. That same claw-hand “pat pat pat” looking for the phone blindly is familiar and helps remind me that I can’t oversleep because the kids need to catch the bus.

I go through the girls’ backpacks and am reminded again that I am not mom enough to be an awesome pubic school mom. There are so many papers and one of my kids has homework because she got a B on her speed math so she has to do five practice sheets. She tells me in her perky, awake in the morning voice, “Soon we will get sheets for practice if we get anything lower than an A+” and I remember how easy school used to be and wonder if higher standards will translate into better performance in college like so many hope for. I realize I do not even have the capacity to care because I have not yet had a cup of coffee.

They are dressed and the five-step “ready for school” process I printed and stuck on the wall when they were in Kindergarden and 1st grade is still serving them well in 3rd and 4th grade. I wonder how many years it will be before they can get themselves ready without my help. I feel like having more than one makes it more difficult because they distract one another almost constantly as they brush hair, get dressed, brush teeth, pack a snack, and have breakfast. Not necessarily in that order their morning comes together in a predictible and calm way.

The piles of paper include report cards I don’t particularly want to look at and fliers for this night and that night and hope to see you for something and picture day. I take a few precious morning minutes to look up the last day of school because I don’t know how much more of this I can take. A new school with a new approach is difficult for parents, too, especially when the new school is more involved. I just want a break from colored in reading days and logs and math papers. I want to break free and get on the train and take the kids to a museum this summer and remind them that fun can be had while learning. All the while I’m thinking about how ungrateful I am because this school is so good and has such high standards and that is not something I would ever want to give up. Summer is so close already (only 42 more school days) it can’t be a bad thing to look forward to. Right?

Nights with not enough sleep turn into days where the weariness of moving creeps up on me and reminds me it is not done with me yet. Like jet lag, it is hidden and lasts longer than you think it should. I usually feel like I made the transition better than anyone could have expected. I mean, really, I transitioned like a pro to the new town and know people and there are such good people here it felt easy. I just want to take a week and lay on a beach somewhere in a magic land where I can lay on a beach all day without getting a horrible sunburn (of course) and just relax.

Want to come with me? We can all relax together and just breathe for a while and let ourselves catch up to ourselves.

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A Weird Drawback of Renting

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There is a sign in front of my house.

It’s one of those cheap jobs with the wire poles you stick in the ground. Usually they advertise for a Sherriff or City Councilman or Governor. This cheap throwaway says, “Happy Easter! He is risen!” (Upon taking and editing a picture I realize I have the sign slogan reversed but honestly it just doesn’t matter.)

I don’t have a problem with the sentiment. I find it strange that it’s right in my line of sight when I look out my living room window because I rent and so the lawn sign is not mine but it sort of is because it’s there in “my” yard.

We don’t know who put it up (we know who didn’t!) and now that it’s the day after Easter I find myself wondering if it is going to add to the stuff that lives in our yard. We came to look at this apartment in November and when we came there were these adorable Halloween adornments on the front porch. On one side of the door an oversized glittery pumpkin and on the other was a little witch on a stick. Adorable yard ornamentation that made me feel like whoever lived here cared about being part of a community. Someone who liked to show spirit.

I took it as a very good omen that this was the right apartment for us.

Now, the He is Risen sign reminds me the pumpkin and the witch are still on the porch, rotting in that sad way decorations do after being left out the entirety of a long, cold midwestern winter. Discolored. The witch’s broom broken, reminding us all that if you stay too long and don’t take care you may never leave where you are at for warmer climates.

What, I wonder, is the appropriate amount of time before I can take the sign in the yard to someplace that is not my line of sight. I do not want to touch someone else’s things, I’m very mindful of not messing with someone else’s stuff, but there is also no reason for our yard to become the island of misfit holiday decorations and slogans, either.

Not to mention the now-months-old knit cap that has been on the porch.

Is it appropriate for me to take cleaning up the yard into my own hands, or am I doing something bad to someone’s property? Is there a timeline on this? Is it worse to get rid of the easter sign than it is to get rid of the halloween decorations because of the obvious religious implications? Where does one dispose of a four-foot wide once-glittery orange pumpkin lawn ornament?

These aren’t problems people who own a home face. This is strictly renter territory.

It’s very confusing.

NOTE TO MY LANDLORD WHO MAY BE READING BUT LET’S PRETEND YOU AREN’T, OKAY?
Don’t worry. I’m not going to do anything to cause trouble.

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A Good Enough Easter Morning

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It’s 2am and the baskets are almost put together. I glance at Mr. Brickie and he catches my gaze and we both sigh as if on cue. We are not sure this is going to be enough.

Making good financial decisions means accepting the risk of disappointing your kids. Last year we got them scooters from craigslist but this year the scooters are going strong and there were no good bikes on Craigslist. We walked through the aisles of the Dollar Store looking for things that were the Venn Diagram match between $1 and “Not too Cheap” and came up with bunny face sunglasses, headbands with bunny ears, paddle balls, and inflatable easter … things.

About 1am I was blowing up the rabbit and the ears wouldn’t inflate. I blew harder. At one point I had one of those late-night epiphanies along the lines of, “Trying harder doesn’t always fix things.” Which led me to plug the bunny and start squeezing it around the ear area. I felt like I was in a fun house version of every medical show on television.

“Will he make it?”

“I don’t know…I just…don’t…know…”

Finally the ears give and start to fill. I’m relieved to be finished blowing this up, knowing it is the visual “oomph” piece of these little dollar store baskets with candy they love but not a whole lot of it and feel something on my face.

Like a tiny breeze.

A tiny breeze whispering failure on my cheek. I see the tiny hole and ask Mr. B for packing tape because I will be damned if this thing isn’t inflated for Easter morning. I blow and plug and quickly slide my finger where my tongue was so I don’t have to wait for him to tape the thing to get the chemical plastic taste out of my mouth and he gets it and I sigh – for the hundredth time – and feel a moment of relief.

Then I realize the duck is deflating. I realize that the dollar store is not the place to buy inflatables but it’s too late for that now. The duck’s plug won’t stay plugged. It’s a size issue, or something. I have Mr. B get a bigger piece of packing tape so we can just tape the whole thing down.

I have never used so much packing tape at Easter.

I wonder if my kids will be disappointed. If they will question how little they are getting compared to other years. If they will somehow notice and will this be the reason they stop believing in the Easter Bunny (if they still do, I think we have the 5yo still and the other two won’t ruin it for her and that’s all I care about) and if they do does that mean I failed at Easter?

All of this is communicated in the sigh my husband and I exchange. We are exhausted. Defeated by another holiday we were unable to properly save or plan for. Then, he lights up and I look at him with pure confusion. “What?” I say.

I just remembered I picked something up last week.

It’s the one Skylander figure they are missing to complete the game we bought them at Christmas. The character wasn’t available at Christmas and has been sold out consistently since its release. He saw one and bought it.

So, in addition to their dollar store easter goodies (and little gold Lindt bunnies, which are a tradition) when they walk into the game room the morning they will see a shared gift for all three of them that was $15. As a group gift it is still a fairly good deal. He almost bought them all XBox gift cards but I talked him down from that ledge.

We both want to give our children so much more.

Snuggled in bed, I say with my last breath before sleep descends upon me, “I hope it’s enough.” He responds, “I’m sure it is.” I let the words do their job.

We are jolted awake at the first light of morning by screams and shouts of joy. The children are thrilled with their baskets and declare it to be the best Easter ever. They jump on our bed to hug us and tell us how wonderful their toys and candy are. We laugh with them and kiss them and drift back to sleep as they go compare baskets and eat chocolate for breakfast.

An unknown amount of time later (but probably not long) the kids run into our bedroom screeching with joy. “We got the final Skylander! The Easter Bunny brought us the final Skylander!” I crack my eye open (the one not still in the pillow) and see the look on my 10 year old’s face that is a combination of joy and secret knowing. This one knows we are the Easter Bunny, but she’s not going to give it away. Thank goodness.

The younger two go on about how cool Easter is and the oldest chimes in because she agrees Easter is very cool and can enjoy these moments freely, without slyness, because enjoyment does not have secrets attached. She is back to being a little girl, giddy for chocolate and video games.

I drag my not-enough-sleep body out of bed and look at the small baskets not even full and realize that they don’t keep score. They don’t measure this basket against the basket of ‘11 or ‘14 … there is only this basket in the here and now and they appreciate it with open hearts just as much as they did when they got scooters or whatever else we have gotten them in past baskets they do not remember.

As I watch them play Skylanders from the kitchen as my water takes too long to boil in the teakettle I am filled with a sense of peace and love and so much gratitude for what I have.

I no longer feel bad for not giving my children more. What we have given them is good enough.

For now.

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No Money = No Posts

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While things have been happening here at the Decki Ranch, no money has been coming in beyond waiting for next week’s next unemployment payment.

That means posts start to get spaced a bit because I have, like, nothing ot talk about in terms of finance.

I did transfer over $300 from the emergency fund to put toward the credit card so our auto-payments won’t run the card over limit.

I will be breaking out the just-paid-off Amazon.com card to buy softball equipment for the girls. (pants, backpacks, sliding shorts, face masks, etc.) because as much as I would love to have faith that Mr. Brickie will start work next week I thought he was going to start this week and now I’m a little gun-shy and being super-cautious. We even have a location (if not an exact address) of where he will be working. It’s really going to happen, I just don’t want to bet my emergency fund on “any day now” because that seems less-than-smart.

Today is the girls’ last day of school before Spring Break.

Softball starts somewhere near the first week of April. I am scared to look at the practice roster. Three girls on three teams is starting to seem like a huge mistake, but like I teach my kids…you signed up for it, you finish it. So no matter how wonky it is, I’m doing it.

I’m having trouble keeping my mind right. There are one too many things in my brain trying to vie for attention.

I hope you are all had a great week. I’ll try to think of something cool and interesting to post about this weekend.

Next Wednesday is April Fool’s Day. I totally got the kids last year with the “Have a glass of kool aid oh wait that’s jello with a straw in it!” gag. I’m planning what to do this year. I like pranks that are funny and lighthearted. If you have a favorite, let me know. I’m totally going to go to Pinterest, too, because I remember they had a wealth of info about April Fool’s tricks and pranks.

Scentsy Stuff Update Part

I’m making samples to send out today for those of you that requested. Making samples is fun. I just need a better way to mail them. Like, a tiny box instead of a big envelope. On the bright side, with snow on the ground today I’m pretty confident I don’t have to switch to felt just yet. I hope my samples don’t melt all over someone’s mail. I also have a catalog request so I’m mailing that out today, too. The usual getting things done admin stuff. :) (Scentsy Website Link)

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May the Luck of the Irish be with…who?

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So. The Luck of the Irish isn’t a compliment. Now you know. It means something in between a, “That guy is so dumb only luck keeps him alive.” and “If it wasn’t for bad luck, he’d have no luck at all.” Depending on your context. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it’s a good time to use it but if you keep those two goalpost definitions in mind, trust me, you’ll know the next time a situation comes up that it’s good for. (It happens more often than you’d think.)

I’m here for you guys. Really, I am. If nothing else now you can use it as a sneaky insult like the southern ladies do with, “Bless her heart…”

I’m a very lucky person. Sure, I’ve had a few things happen along the way that weren’t bad luck, but let’s look at the good luck that’s happened over the years.

Three gifted children with remarkable social skills? Luck. You cannot plan that. People can try and be all, “Genetics, consistent parenting, blah blah…” but nope, you don’t’ know what’s going to work and even if you interview the whole family back to the grandparents you can’t know how those genes are going to mix with yours. Plus environmental factors. You just can’t factor everything in. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

My husband finding a job with a pension and excellent health insurance? Luck. Sure, I asked every human being I met for years what they did for a living, what requirements were needed to get the job and if the person loved their job. I did. Sure, Mr. Brickie met a millwright and after the application and testing he thought, “Hey, I should apply to all the union jobs in cook county!” But the bricklaying training course opening when it did, him finding jobs….all luck.

Finding our current apartment. You guys….seriously…..this apartment is amazing. It has felt like home since the first night I slept here. Plus it has a basement with a washer/dryer. I have a three-bedroom apartment with a basement. I … I’ve never felt more lucky than when I take a moment and think about where I live. It’s seriously got to be at least a thousand square feet not including the basement. We get a $25/mo. discount if we pay three months or more in advance and when I paid the nine months with our tax return? He knocked an extra $25 off. So I’m paying $747.22 a month through November.

This TOWN. Okay, last night was kind of stressful because I was going to the YMCA (in town!) and since it was Dairy Queen free small cone night traffic was blocked between where I was and where I needed to be. I had to detour around and backtrack and I was ten minutes late to class (which you know had me just wanting to go home because being late makes me panic) but I pushed through and this morning I have aching muscles and a good feeling to show for it. The people here are, on the whole, very kind and open. We meet with the girls softball coaches this week and I couldn’t be more excited! Then we will attend SpringFest on Friday where the kids will enjoy bounce houses and all kinds of stuff. There is so much going on in this town that it’s easy to keep the kids doing stuff.

Sure, I could choose to nitpick everything but today I’m talking about luck so nitpicking isn’t what I’m about. I’m not going to tone down these lucky good things and I’m not going to put any disclaimers on them. They are what they are and we are, truly, very lucky.

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