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Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail - a local tradition on this hike

Fun with Friends!

We had SO MUCH FUN with friends today. This has been the best days of summer so far and I hope there are many more like it to come!

Summer has been a bit slow starting for us we’ve been having a hard time finding a good groove. It seems that we keep missing friends, or they’re away, or we’re committed to something else.

Today I think we found our groove.  I sent a friend a text last week asking if she wanted to go for a hike up a local hill that’s very kid friendly and hit the beach afterwards.

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail - a local tradition on this hike

Retiring our beloved teapot on the trail – a local tradition on this hike

Last summer we went hiking and/or to the beach with her and her kids at least once a week, but life changes and thus far this summer we just haven’t been able to swing it.

Today we had the joy of hiking with her and her kids in the morning. It was a “short” hike but so good for our kids to all be together again. (The distance isn’t far but when you have three littles walking and one being carried time and distance don’t necessarily correspond.)

E falls in the middle of her two littles and LOVES her older daughter – like idol status. She was SO excited to get to run alongside her friend and try to keep up. Plus she had a new backpack that she’s breaking in for a hiking trip later in the summer with Daddy.  L slept or coo’d happily in the baby carrier all the way and all the littles did great.

 

E and her friend

E and her friend

After our hike we all headed to the beach to meet another friend and her kids for the afternoon.  Between the three of us there were eight kids at the beach. Everyone played well together and it was one of those days that you’re loathe to see end. Seriously none of us wanted to pack up and go home.

E made a major accomplishment today, she figured out the basic technique of swimming. This is HUGE for her. While she’s never been shy about the splash pad, pools and especially beaches make her VERY nervous. She’s been in the same FIRST level at swimming lessons ALL WINTER. She loves going but is timid and rarely lets go of her instructor.

We’ve been at the beach two other times so far this summer, the first she didn’t go in past her knees. Then she was holding my hand and SCREAMING (I forced her in to wash the sand off before leaving. I know I’m a horrible mother).

Last week when we were there as a family she wouldn’t go in unless one of us was holding her, and refused to go further than chest deep water. She did eventually relax and at least enjoy it.

I didn’t expect her to embrace swimming so soon after the last two trips. I figured we were in for another summer of playing in the and by the shore in ankle deep water (this is FINE with me, I just want her to be safe and comfortable around water not necessarily an all star swimmer).

Today right away she wanted me to take her in.

SWIMMING! I know it's shallow but I promise she wasn't pushing off the bottom :)

SWIMMING! I know it’s shallow but I promise she wasn’t pushing off the bottom 🙂

Maybe it was seeing her friends jumping off the dock and swimming around on their own. Maybe it’s the crazy heat wave we’ve been having. Maybe it’s the frequency of swimming right now (lessons once a week and at least one trip a week to the beach) or a combination of the three. Who knows.

If I know anything about my girl it’s that she’ll DO IT when SHE wants to. Not one second before and no time later than she decides is ok either.

Today she actually held my shoulders and let me swim her out to the end of the dock. She also let me hold her in the swimming position in shallow water. I was impressed just by those things.

It’s like it just clicked for her. All of a sudden she understood how she should be positioned and how she needed to move her arms and legs. I had to go in to shore to feed L, but she still wanted to swim. So in knee deep water she figured it out. SO FUN.

It was so fun to watch because she would swim the length of the swimming area in knee deep water, then get out, run back to where she started and do it again. It never occurred to her that she could turn around and swim back.

She repeated the cycle for about an hour and a half and I had to pry her out of the water to go home. She was so proud of herself, and I am a proud mama tonight too. I love that kid!

Best things ever today: her contagious giggles as she RAN down the hiking trail after her friends, and the equally elated giggling that came with figuring out how to swim.

We ended our day today by taking Curtis to the garden we’ve been “keeping” at a friends place. – I say this very loosely because I have a hard time growing grass in our yard, and tonight I realized that I can no longer distinguish some of the weeds from the plants that are supposed to be there – oops.

It was a perfect summer’s day.  After so much fun with friends, I’m sad to see this day end. It was jam packed with hiking, swimming, gardening, playing and visiting yet it didn’t feel crazy rushed or busy.  This is exactly what summer days should be. To top it off, my house is pretty clean – we haven’t been here all day!

Hope you had a great day too, and that there are many more sunny summer days to come 🙂

E & Her run bike, Christmas 2011

Childhood Joy

I’m not sure about you but I don’t remember learning to ride a bike, I do however remember my first bike. It was a red and white bike with training wheels and a big banana seat – full on 80’s style. I LOVED that bike. LOVED.

 

Me & my first bike, April 7 1986, I was 4 years old

Me & my first bike, April 7 1986, I was 4 years old

We’re a bike family. Curtis is certifiably insane when it comes to bikes. He rides like I run – a lot, in large amounts, for long distances – like from Lincoln Beach OR home to Chilliwack BC. I also really enjoy riding my road bike though I’m not as passionate about it as he is.

 

E is bike obsessed. If Curtis is doing bike maintenance she has either her tricycle or her run bike out there and is washing/fixing/working on bikes right along side him.

 

E & Her run bike, Christmas 2011

E & Her run bike, Christmas 2011

She asks every morning to watch bike races on Curtis’ iPad. She could pick Jens Voigt out of a crowd and has been able to pronounce Ryder Hesjedal properly for almost two years now. You probably don’t know who those people are – they’re pro cyclists, like Tour De France kind of guys. And YES we will be watching the tour when it starts next week.

E & her Tricycle Christmas morning 2012

E & her Tricycle Christmas morning 2012

 

We gave her a Run Bike for Christmas when she was 14 months old. Jointly  from us and my parents she got a Tricycle last year. We talked about buying her a pedal bike for Christmas this year but she wasn’t quite ready for it and we decided it wouldn’t be fair to give her something she couldn’t ride quite yet. We did promise a pedal bike this summer though, and the day has come!

 

Love at first sight!

Love at first sight!

Curtis went out and picked up her new pedal bike on Tuesday afternoon. She’s been very clear that she wants a purple bike so with that in mind he went to a local bike shop and picked up a purple bike. He also had them remove the training wheels (though he did bring them home) since she’s done so well with her run bike.

 

The squeals of childish joy at the sight of that bike were worth a million dollars. I don’t know that I have enjoyed anything quite so much in a long time. She caught on to the two wheeler after about 45 mins with Curtis running along behind. The only thing that slowed her down was her intense laughter.

Shear joy. There is no other way to describe it. She was laughing the laughter of pure childhood joy. That deep down thrilled I’m awesome and I’m loving it laugh that only a little kid can laugh. The elation on her face was amazing.

 

I don’t remember learning to ride my bike when I was little but watching her learn on Tuesday night is something I will always remember – and cherish. I felt the joy bubbling out of a place deep in my soul and had that big goofy childish grin that starts to make your face hurt on my own face as I watched her catch on. I’m not sure of the last time the enjoyment of learning a new skill made me feel that way. I can tell you that after watching her learn this week I am excited to feel it again!

Very proud new bike owner

Very proud new bike owner

2014 Reading List

Not the most exciting post, but I’ve been tracking my reading this year and have added a page to the site to do so. If you’re curious to know what books are or have been sitting on my bedside table then check it out.

Who wouldn't want to spend their days with this face?

Redefining Value

I’ve been struggling lately with my definition of value. Specifically with my personal economic value. It seems I need to work on redefining value in relation to myself.

 

Love this little face

Love this little face

 

 

Curtis and I do a lot of dreaming. We look forward to the things we would someday like to do. It keeps us going, and helps us to stay on track heading towards our goals. Something we often talk about is what I want to “do.”

 

For some reason I feel like I should be contributing financially to the bottom line in our home. I feel like I’m not adding value to our home if I’m not earning some form of income. I toss around a lot of ideas about things that I could do to earn SOME form of income.

 

The thing is I don’t really WANT to do a lot of the things we’ve talked about. When it comes right down to it ten years from now I want to be doing exactly what I’m doing now. Loving on our kids. Caring for them daily, taking them to school, the park, swimming, and whatever else it may be that they are interested in.

 

Baby Giggles

Baby Giggles

 

My life today is exactly what I want it to be, and how I want it to remain. (If my kids could stay little that would be awesome too but that really is dreaming!)

 

So WHY this feeling that if I am not earning MONEY that I am not valuable? The things I do in our home and with our kids are valuable. They have eternal meaning, and a lasting impact on our family.

 

Today after leaving Curtis here with the kids for most of the day he told me how much he appreciates what I do. He graciously acknowledged how much work it is to take care of our little loves for the day.  He told me it was just as hard or harder than what he does day to day earning an income.

 

Without coming out and saying it he told me he valued me (and he didn’t even realize it)!

 

Wardrobe Consultation

Wardrobe Consultation – no you cannot wear your Tinker Bell costume tonight

 

I am fortunate enough to be able to stay home with our family full time which is a blessing a lot of people don’t have. I have never felt undervalued by Curtis, he always appreciates the role I play in our home. He accepts my failures and we laugh our way through many of my oopses.  Again WHY do I feel such a need to earn an income?

 

We do have some big financial goals, buying a new house, going on a holiday, saving for the kids college educations etc. There has definitely been more than one occasion that I feel frustrated at the pace of our progress so maybe that’s it.

 

 

Who wouldn't want to spend their days with this face?

Who wouldn’t want to spend their days with this face?

 

I think it’s more the response I often get when asked what I “do”. Maybe you know how it goes:

Stranger: So what do you “do”?,

me: Oh, I stay home with my kids

Stranger:  awkwardly withdraws from conversation while summing me up as some uneducated frumpy housewife – THANKS

I need to start responding with: I’m the Director of Operations at McHale Inc. my responsibilities include, sanitation, bookings, time management, sleep specialist, event planning, interventions, overseeing leisure activities, nutritional planning and arbitration, wardrobe consultation, K9 activities, and financial management.”

 

Event Planning

Event Planning – splash park!

Maybe then I won’t be dismissed as the ominous “housewife” – you know that all encompassing title that you’re given under “occupation” on government forms – and just about every other form that you fill out anywhere.

 

Sleep Specialist

Sleep Specialist – transferring from carseat to couch undisturbed

 

I also like the line where you fill in your income: 0

 

I love what I do. I love my kids, and my man. I love being able to play, cuddle, kiss owies, read stories, tuck in, discipline, encourage and celebrate the three people that are most important to me EVERY DAY. You know what, sometimes it’s really easy. Sometimes it’s really hard. Either way what I do here on a day to day basis IS VALUABLE.

 

Bookings - Preschool end of year celebration

Bookings – Preschool end of year celebration

 

I need to remind myself of that. I also need to let it go when I feel dismissed by some stranger in the grocery store because I don’t have a “job”. So what?! I  love what I “do”. Not many people are lucky enough to be able to say that!

 

What about you do you love what you do? I genuinely hope so.

First Half Marathon – Whoohoo!

May 25/14 I finally accomplished a huge goal of mine, I participated in my first half marathon!

 

Run For Water 1/2 Marathon 2014 time 2:02:24

Run For Water 1/2 Marathon 2014 time 2:02:24

This has been a huge goal for me for the last 3 years, and for various reasons it hasn’t happened – it’s been the elusive unicorn of my fitness goals for THREE YEARS! You know what they say, third time’s a charm! I was NOT going to be denied again.

 

I picked out my race – the Run for Water Half Marathon WELL in advance (like last May when I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to run it then because I was pregnant).

 

I chose this race for a few reasons – it’s close to home, they run an awesome family event with activities etc. for your kids/family to participate in while they wait, and it’s known to be a pretty good course. Plus you get a snazzy long sleeved technical running shirt if you register early – who can say no to that!

 

Over the last few years 15-20K has become a typical distance for my long run once a week, so despite not running during my pregnancy I hoped I had enough base fitness to at least work up to the distance by race day and finish the race.

 

In December when I was 8 months pregnant I sat down and looked at the best and worst case scenarios for weeks of training time to see if I actually thought I could do it considering my late January due date. I thought I could even if I didn’t start running until late March, or early April, so I made it known that I wanted my race registration for Christmas. Really, I was 8 months Pregnant at Christmas, what do I need – clothes, no, baby stuff, no thank you, this was something for me!

 

In early March my midwives cleared me to run again – L was 5 weeks old and I had been chomping at the bit for a couple weeks already. So March 6, I laced up my shoes and went out for a very leisurely 5K it was slow but it felt SO good to be out.

 

I am lucky to have a Man that values fitness like I do so he accommodated my running needs like a champ. He quit work early some nights to make sure I got out for my runs, helped me fit them into my schedule, took care of the kids so I didn’t have to push the stroller, and gave L bottles while I was out for my long runs. Without him cheering me on  from the sidelines I would not have accomplished this goal. I would probably still be sitting on the couch.

 

So, Sunday May 25/14, I crossed the finish line of my first official half marathon 2hours, 2 mins, and 24 seconds (2:02:24) after I started. My goal had been anything under 2:10 so I was very happy. It felt harder than I wanted it to, but I pushed hard, and was happy just to accomplish the goal – infact I cried a little as I started the run on Sunday morning because I knew I would accomplish my goal that day :). I can always run another and shoot for a better time.

 

Have you accomplished a big goal recently? I’d love to hear about it!

 

The Calm

Welcome Baby Lorelei

I am thrilled to announce that on Jan 27 2014 we welcomed Lorelei Nevaeha McHale into our family. She was 7lbs 9oz, born at 3:21 in the afternoon.  She is a joy and a treasure and we are so happy to have her.

The Process - she'll be here soon!

The Process – she’ll be here soon!

Rather than bore you with the details of her birth I thought I’d share a few pics caught by our friend and amazing birth photographer Jenn Foik. I have to admit that I was a bit unsure about having a birth photographer come, however because I delivered E quickly we missed all the good photo ops at her birth – we left the camera in the car and didn’t have time to get it – we didn’t want to miss out again.

LOVE her!

LOVE her!

There are also a number of shots that we just wouldn’t get if we didn’t have someone else there clicking happily away – things like Curtis cutting the cord, or holding the baby for the first time. Having Jenn there to document our life allowed us both to just be present. It’s one of the best decisions we’ve made. The pictures she took are stunning, it brings tears to my eyes to look at them, they are so beautiful it hurts. I can’t thank her enough for the service she provided us!

Getting to know her

Getting to know her

I also want to thank our awesome midwives, Cheryl Mount, and her student Erin Liang from Chilliwack Midwifery. The care they provided in both pre and postnatal visits was amazing and it made this process so much easier. I loved having them available to call for advice or information between appointments knowing that they would always take the time to give me the answers I needed.

Meeting Daddy

Meeting Daddy

I’ll leave you with my absolute favourite shot, there really aren’t words to express the emotion that Jenn captured in this picture. I want to print it on a huge canvas and hang it in my room.

The Calm

The Calm

 

All photos are courtesy of Jennifer Foik Photography

 

 

Can't stop loving this kid!

Adding Tools to my Toolbox

I’ve recently been reading “You Can’t Make Me [But I Can Be Persuaded]” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias.  It’s a parenting book that will hopefully fill my Mommy tool box with useful tools to help this strong willed Momma lovingly guide my strong willed daughter through this thing called life while highlighting and bringing out the positive aspects of both of our personalities.

If I’ve said this once I’ve said it 100 times; E and I are two people cut from the same cloth. She is a 3 year old version of me. Our strong wills battle against each other on a daily basis. I often find the two of us locked into the same battles over and over again. My will against hers. The problem is that I am the parent here. I’m supposed to be the mature one in this relationship and yet I regularly find that my 3 year old gets the better of me.

I hear myself speaking to her, issuing commands, and rather unsuccessfully trying to “negotiate” and I think to myself “no wonder she doesn’t want to capitulate, I wouldn’t either.” I regularly find myself fearing that I am going to shred any hope of ever having a relationship with my daughter to tiny little irreparable pieces before she even enters school. I want to avoid this with all my heart.

What do I long for? Well, I long for a slightly less co-dependent Lorelai & Rory relationship. I want a closeness with her – and any other kids that come along – that is secure. I want her to know she can come to me no matter what. I want her to know she is unconditionally loved. Period. My question has been HOW? This kid gets the better of me on a regular basis and I lose my cool. HOW.

Enter my current book choice. I generally hate “labels” like “Strong Willed Child.” I think they have such negative connotations. I don’t view E’s strong will (or my own) as a negative trait. This stubborn streak that is firmly implanted in her is exactly what will someday make her a tenacious, competent, intelligent adult that knows what she wants AND how to go about accomplishing the goal. I do not want to crush that in her. I do want to help her guide it and learn to use this personality trait as positively as possible.

Can't stop loving this kid!

Can’t stop loving this kid!

As I’ve been reading (and I’m only half way through) I have been able to put SO many little things into practice that have already made my days easier. One of the things that has struck me most (and that I have been working through for a while even before starting in on this book) is how much I need to work on MYSELF. This isn’t all about molding E into an awesome little person. It’s also about molding her Mommy into an adult that can pick her battles. Be gracious, firm, loving, patient, and kind. I need to be a better person for her. I need to be able to move past my own desire to stick to my guns (sometimes) in order to help E learn to channel her own strong will into something useful.

So much of parenting is about the parent. How I react, how I respond, how I understand my child. Being able to put her first and me second. Choosing my battles wisely, allowing that outfit that makes my skin crawl slide because it makes her feel like a princess. I have to resist my own urge to push certain issues to the death so that she knows that when I do press an issue it’s really time to listen. I need to choose my battles wisely. I need to ask myself more often; if a month from now, six months, a year, five years, ten years from now does this issue I’m fighting over today really matter? If the answer is no then why am I fighting it?

One thing this book is hammering home is that my approach is everything. Deep down I knew this. I’ve been struggling with it for a while just not really sure of how to change it. What reading this book has done so far is give me some of the tools I need to do something about it. It’s been showing me how to best approach a topic and garner the best possible outcome, all the while understanding that these techniques aren’t always going to work, and sometimes we will have to do things the hard way.

Something else that has also been significant to me is that her response and willingness to comply with me is directly related to how much she values her relationship with me. It all comes back to relationship. Which is what I want so desperately to preserve with her.

So is this one book going to give me all the answers? No. So much of this process is trial and error. Figuring out what works for me and what works for her. What garners a good response and what is ineffective, while understanding that what works once may not work every time. One book, ten books, or a hundred books are not going to unlock all the secrets to parenting without ever butting heads with your child. That said, anything that makes this process a little bit easier is welcome!

Is this book going to have a significant impact on the way that I parent YES. It already has. I can already tell you that E and I have had much easier days since I started reading. I knew that I needed to make some changes in the way I was parenting I just wasn’t sure how. Now I have a few more tools that are helping my days run more smoothly.  I feel a bit more capable of navigating a day with my little one. I don’t feel like every task is a struggle, and I am enjoying it. I still have a long way to go, and will always be working on learning to do things better but today I would say that we are making progress!

2014 Goals

If 2013 was a year of change for us, then 2014 is even more so. We are excited to be imminently expecting the arrival of our second child in late January and I can’t wait to see what’s in-store for us this year especially since it’s kicking off with such a bang.

I’ve set goals a little differently this year in hopes of accomplishing a few more of them, and rounding things out a little bit more so that life is a bit more balanced. Again my thinking here is that I will hopefully have a better chance of success with more of my goals.

Another thing I’ve tried to do is set a deadline and/or come up with an action plan for each goal again to try and help myself succeed.

Professional Goals

  • Continue to work for Curtis 2 mornings/week after the baby arrives (or at least 2 x 2 1/2 hour chunks of time /week)
  • Provide regular accountability for his business goals – we’re still working out whether this will be monthly or quarterly, but we are making it a priority!
  • Read Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership

Personal Goals

I’ve been told numerous times by multiple people this year that I don’t take enough time for myself. This message hit home hardest when my Mom recently asked a few pointed questions about the time I am taking for myself and came right out and said I was starving myself of personal time. It was one of those days when we’d been struggling around here and I called her after E was in bed crying because I felt like such a failure. Her kind encouragement, and gentle reminders of the things she did for herself while we were growing up were eye opening for me. She also helped me to see more clearly that if I am not refueling myself then I won’t be able to pour into my family and friends the way that I would want to. So, here we go;

  • Go away with friends 1 weekend this year
  • Loose baby weight by June 2014
  • Run 1/2 Marathon – I am registered for the Run For Water in Abbotsford BC on May 25/2014. This goal has been my Unicorn for a couple of years now so this IS happening this year.
  • Run the Round The Lake trail race in Cultus Lake in October this year (as long as it doesn’t fall on E’s B-day, then we’ll see)
  • Run a 5K charity race in December (like the Santa Shuffle)
  • Continue to Run 5-10K 2-3x/week Oct-Dec 2014 (these are the months that I get lazy!)
  • Do 1 Strength work out/week
  • Spend 1 night/month out FOR ME (I’ve already done this in January, I was at the movies with some friends this week, so we are off to a good start!)
  • Revisit goals monthly – w/ Curtis as possible
  • Make 1 post per week on this blog

Parenting Goals

I know that all parents struggle with their kids along the way, but I want to be the BEST parent that I can be to my kids. I want them to know that they are the most amazing things I’ve done EVER and that they are unconditionally loved and cherished. I want to build a relationship with them that they VALUE deeply. There are a lot of days right now that I fail with E and I want to change that. That means I need to make a concentrated effort to bring about change in this area of my life and so here are my goals:

  • Give E 1/2 hour of my undivided attention every day
  • Attend 1 parenting seminar or class on setting boundaries and effective discipline – or something of the sort. I need a few more tools in my tool box.
  • Read 2 parenting books (I am already reading “You Can’t Make Me [but I can be persuaded]” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias, so far it is very eye opening)
  • Work continually on responding more kindly and having more patience – these are things I often struggle with. I hear myself speak and then think “Well that wasn’t very loving”. I MUST IMPROVE THIS! I have put some gentle reminders by the kitchen sink to help me keep this in mind.

Marriage

Having an awesome marriage takes work. I have a great man, I love him dearly and don’t know how I would ever survive without him. I also think we have an awesome marriage but why not work at making it better? I certainly don’t want to wake up in 10 years and question who this person next to me is. We’ve watched too many quality marriages crumble over the last few years to be naieve enough to assume that we can just sail through without effort. Having a quality marriage is a lot of work, but I know it’s worthwhile so I want to invest in it and make sure that our marriage continues to thrive.

  • Go on 1 date/ month after March – even if it’s free (we’ve averaged about 3-4 a year since having kids so one a month would be a big step up).
  • Go away ALONE for 1 weekend by Nov 2014 (we spent our first night home alone since having E in December so again, if we can do this it’s huge for us).
  • Read 1 marriage/relationship building book that will help us grow. Right now I’m thinking of re-reading the 5 Love Languages as I found it monumentally helpful a few years back, but my book choice may change.

Financial

Family finance has been a huge thing for us over the past couple of years and it’s still extremely important. We had a number of big “set backs” in 2013 as we worked towards building an emergency fund of 6 months worth of income and so we are still working towards this goal.

  • Complete our 6 month emergency fund – hopefully by June but at the very least by the end of the year.
  • Read Rabbi Lapin’s Thou Shall Prosper – by March
  • Read Total Money Makeover in January – This is becoming an annual thing and I think it’s a great way to start the year. It reminds us of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. Also, we are once again running a small group at our church based on the book starting in February.

So there you have it. This and a few more things that I have chosen not to share publicly will be what I use as my compass to guide my decisions this year. Will I accomplish all of them? No. Is my life better for trying? YES. If we strive for nothing we will hit it every time. If we strive for something then we have moved the needle regardless of whether we achieve the goal or not. Setting goals for our life last year made 2013 a stellar year. I can only anticipate that 2014 will be better. Why not try to make it the best one yet?

 

 

2013 Goals – The final installment

I thought it would be good to recap my 2013 goals before posting my 2014 goals and let you know what I accomplished in 2013.

As I may have mentioned before this is the FIRST time that my hubby and I have actually set goals for the year. Not resolutions, because they are easily forgotten, but goals that we’ve revisited often all year round to guide our decisions and help us keep our eye on the big picture.

I also took the “go big or go home” stance on goals. There were a few thrown in there that I thought I could reach easily to give me that quick feeling of success, however a lot of my goals were things that I thought would be out of reach. My theory – borrowed from Dan Miller at 48 Days to the work you love pod cast –  is that if I set the bar high, but only make it half way I’ve still significantly improved on where I was so I am still successful even if I don’t meet the goal.

Some of these I touched on in an earlier post so I won’t go into them too much, but others I just kind of left behind and I’ll fill you in on the details.

You can check out my original post on goals from last January here

1. Double my income

That didn’t happen, as mentioned in an earlier post when I decided to leave my full time job, I pretty much kissed this one goodbye. That said my Hubby managed to more than double his business’ income this year which is a score for both of us and in some ways accomplishes my goal too!

2. Pay off the car by March 1/13 – Check, one month early, got this one done in February.

3, 4, & 5. Run 10K, 1/2 marathon, & full marathon race – these all went out the window when we found out that we were expecting our second child. At that point due to minor complications in my pregnancy I had to stop running. This has been hard for me because I LOVE to run, but I’m looking forward to running again soon!

6 & 7. List & sell our current home, AND hopefully buy a new larger home with a smaller mortgage.

2013 brought with it many challenges for us on the home front and while I desperately want to sell our current home and move into a place that has more space and better accommodates our growing family for a number of reasons this did not happen in 2013, and I doubt that it will happen in 2014 either. Who knows. We’ve unfortunately run into many snags in our plan here most of which have been financial. Our current home is a town house and is part of a Strata (ie we pay a monthly condo fee and there is a condo association that takes care of the building). What a pain. My ultimate advice NEVER buy into a Strata unless you want to basically pool your money with every other owner in the building, keeping in mind that they may not all agree on how to spend those hard earned dollars.

This year there have been a number of medium to large repairs needed within our Strata which has meant that on top of our regular monthly fees we’ve paid out large lump sums to the organization a couple of times.  I anticipate at least one more such payment in 2014. I know that if we owned a house we could have had to pay the entire sum for the repairs all on our own but the likely hood of all the things that have come up this year happening to a single detached residence are slim.

On top of the additional expenses we’ve paid out to our Strata we’ve replaced the Washer, Stove, Microwave, and just this week the dishwasher, along with a large number of small household appliances (stereo, DVD player, Digital SLR Camera and numerous others) and a couple of not so minor car repairs. All of these things come down to age, most of the household items were 10+ years old (the stove we were told was 20+ and I have the same suspicion about the dishwasher). A lot of the smaller items were wedding gifts, or we purchased them second hand a number of years ago. They just all chose to go at once.

On the upside, the new appliances will make the place a lot more appealing when we go to sell, on the downside, when I sat down a couple weeks ago (before the diswasher died on New Years Eve) and added up what we’d spent on “emergency” repairs/replacements to our home, the number was fast approaching $10,000 in 2013. Needless to say the funds to sell/move/add to a down payment on the next place just aren’t there right now and I don’t know when they will be. So we’re waiting. The upside – the mortgage is cheap here!

I have to add a side note here – THANK GOD we became debt free in February of 2013! Although we haven’t been able to add much to our savings, we’ve been able to pay cash for EVERYTHING. If we’d had all these experiences in such close succession even a year ago there would have come a point where they would merely have added to our debt load rather than slowing down our plan. Whew!

8. The reading list.

Well, I really didn’t succeed here, and it is a little bit shameful. I have to say that my list was probably quite ambitious as I have only in the last year or so developed my enjoyment of reading for personal growth, and my list was very finance/business heavy so it wasn’t the most well rounded selection of books.

I managed to get through/make a good dent in 4 of the 13 books on the list. I have definitely read more that 13 books this year. Some fiction, some for personal growth, however it wasn’t as many of the ones that I initially thought I would read as I had hoped – things changed. The point here was more to help myself grow as a person than read specific books and I think that I at least succeeded in that.

All that said 2013 was an awesome year in the McHale household I have no regrets, and look forward to all that 2014 has to bring with huge anticipation. We celebrated some great milestones here and have really benefited from the changes that we’ve worked so hard to bring about in our lives over the last year. Without these goals, and those of my hubby we would still be sitting in about the same position as we were in 2012 and I LOVE living a goal driven life – it gives us a target to aim at! I have set goals again for 2014 and will hopefully be posting them next week for all to see. We’ll see how much more growth we can bring about around here.

 

Dollars

To Work or Not to Work? The Financial Perspective

Last week I talked about the personal side of our decision for me to leave my full-time job and become a stay-at-home parent. Today I’m going to shed some light on the financial side of the decision.

I know I mentioned this last week but I just want to be clear that it was the combination of the personal and financial factors that created the perfect equation for me to stay home. Had my personal life felt a little bit more balanced I would have made a different decision. Likewise if the financial balance had been a little bit different I may also have made a different decision.

Our initial plan was for me to generate at least some part-time income. When I left my full-time job I was partway through taking my personal trainers course.  Unfortunately the timing of that opportunity just wasn’t good and it didn’t really work out, but it was a great learning experience.

Now I am helping out in my Hubby’s home based business while our daughter is at preschool and honestly I find that more fulfilling. (I actually wrote a series of posts for his blog last week about what it’s like to be married to an entrepreneur you can check it out here.) By taking over some of the day-to-day tasks he would otherwise have to keep up with I have been able to free up more profitable time in his day. So while I don’t necessarily earn a direct income it does have a significant affect on the bottom line in our household. Plus we know a few things about ourselves: We LOVE to work together, we make a GREAT team, and I LOVE business growth and development so for us it works really well.

Now onto the meat of the discussion.

As I’ve mentioned before when I finally gave my notice at my previous job it wasn’t something I did lightly (I actually cried while I was talking to the owners). I had been employed there for 8 years and my employers and co-workers had become like family to me. I was working in a job that I was great at and I generally enjoyed it. BUT our family was suffering and I felt stressed out all the time as I tried unsuccessfully to balance my  work and home life.

I’ve also chronicled along the way we have been on a financial journey over the last couple years to get thing shaped up around here and to plan for our futures. After paying off our debts we started to evaluate what it was really COSTING us for me to work. We started looking at what the cost vs. savings would be if I came home full time. Once we added it all up – vehicle costs, daycare costs, lost work time for my husband, family stress, etc.I was really contributing very little to the bottom line. (Please don’t read this as a complaint about my wage, I was fairly paid, but life costs money and these were things we were seriously looking at.)

The cost of me working looked something like this:

  • Gas $400-500/month depending on season/prices
  • Car ins $200/month
  • Vehicle maintenance $75-100/month (if you break down our annual spending to a monthly number)
  • Car Payment $400/month (this number went away because we PAID IT OFF!)
  • Daycare $700/month – for 4 days/week b/c I worked Saturdays and my Hubby had E then.

When you add those things up and subtract them from my monthly earnings the remaining balance really wasn’t much. It was actually little enough that my husband looked at it and said that if he could re-claim the 1-2 hours a day of office time he lost between picking our daughter up from daycare and me getting home from work he could make up my monthly disposable income in a week. Yup, one week.

I understand that not all of those numbers went away with me staying home (obviously we still own a car so need gas/insurance/maintenance) but they now look a little more like this:

  • Gas $150-175/month (and sometimes less)
  • Insurance $120/month
  • Vehicle Maintenance $25-50/month (because we literally have 1/4 of the services in a year to worry about)
  • Daycare $0

I know, it’s a pretty startling difference isn’t it! From $1375 – $1500 (not counting the car payment) going out to keep me at work, vs. $295-$345 for me to be home. We cut more than $1000 from our monthly expenses by keeping me home. CRAZY.

Realistically it wasn’t just the numbers, and I would never suggest you make this type of decision solely based on the finances of the equation.

Lost work time for my Hubby was also a big factor in the financial side of the decision. We literally could not find a daycare that was open late enough for me to do the drop off AND pick up. I dropped E off at 8 everyday (meaning I left home between 7:30 & 7:45) and he picked her up around 4:30. I got home around 6. When we started honestly evaluating his lost time everyday he was loosing 1-2 hours per day and really only spending about 6-6.5 hours in his office. As I mentioned above having him in the office for a full 8 hours a day made a big difference in what he could earn, and my wage simply didn’t compete with his.

We also had to consider that by having me leave my full-time position we were loosing our extended medical benefits (things like prescriptions, dental, chiropractic, physio, pretty much anything that isn’t a direct trip to the Dr. or Hospital). And should we choose to have more kids (which lone & behold I was knocked up 2 months later) we were walking away from the option of cashing in on Canada’s awesome Maternity Leave benefits.

After considering all of these things in our financial equation and putting it together with the personal aspect of the decision it was still clear to us that it was time for me to come home.  After consulting with a trusted outside source to make sure we weren’t making a rash or short sighted decision we pulled the trigger.

Now you ask, do I miss working? Truthfully, No. Not. At. All.

This was surprising for me because I found my job fulfilling. I thought I would really miss it. As it turns out I feel like our life is so much more balanced. There have been some growing pains in the process, but life around here is better for it. I would make the same decision again today if I had to do it over.

 

Photo Credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/spine/214759009/”>rick</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>