Money Diary

Recently I’ve discovered the a new site targeted towards my age group, Refinery29, and their “Money Diaries” section. Basically, you spend a week in the life of someone, tracking their spending and peeking into their daily lives. I’ve been pouring over these fascinating stories, and decided to do my own. Now that we’ve purchased a house, we really need to watch our pennies more than usual, with so many projects large and small we can now work on instead of ignoring when we were renters.

I started on Monday, but to keep these posts bearable I’ll post one a day. This will also “trick” me into writing more!

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Morning dog walk view, a block from my house

Day One: Monday
5:30am: My son returned home from his trip to visit family with his grandparents back East yesterday, so I add gently waking him up to the morning routine. I walk the dog around our new to me neighborhood (we just moved in to our newly purchased home on the street my husband grew up on). While my husband, not a morning person, readies himself and the kid for the day, I feed the dog, make coffee with the Keurig, turn off the sprinklers (we’ve been enduring a weird heat wave for the past week in the PNW) pack myself a new mix of peanut butter, honey and Greek yogurt with an apple and Irish cheddar cheese for lunch. I hand a bowl of cut fruit to the kid as I try a new breakfast: two eggs, cheese, and sausage crumbles in a mug, cooked in the microwave. By 7am we’re out the door, dropping the kid off at daycare on our way to work together (we work for the same company and we’re saving about $200 a month by carpooling).
12:15pm: I like to take late lunches, since my boss doesn’t micro manage me at all. Today I’m snagging face time with one of the site managers I support, while he juggles phone calls and an audit, so he buys me lunch at the small cafe in our building. I make myself a hefty sandwich and snag some chips, chowing down while watching him cover for three of his people (one on maternity leave, one recovering from surgery, and one on PTO).
2:45pm: It’s the beginning of the month, so most of our bills are due! We are still jugging clearing out our formal rental house and getting settled in our newer and larger house, so we’re paying utilities for two places and that’s a crunch. A majority of our bills are on auto pay as most larger companies offer a discount if you do, so I pay what isn’t, including our power/water bill (supplied by our small town’s co-op utility company) of $103, and garbage disposal ($47 every three months). I also forward our mail via USPS’s online service, $2. $152
5:30pm: Home, after picking up the kid. I let the dog out while the kid changes for his swim lessons, we grouse about the heat while discussing dinner (my husband is 90% the household cook as I only do breakfast foods), and unpack one of a zillion boxes we still have to go through. We’re off to swim lessons by 5:45, and while our son swims we sit in the SUV with the AC blasting and discuss life, the universe, and everything.
6:45pm: Home, tired, hot, and anything but hungry. I whip up sandwiches for myself and the kid, husband makes scrambled eggs that he tosses after tasting the bad milk he used to make them, then makes a second batch. The kid is overtired from jetleg and his first day back at daycare in over two weeks, so we’re all tucked in bed by 9pm.
Daily total: $152

 

Namesake

Lately it feels as if I’m paralleling my namesake, Jamethiel, more than ever, in terms of the level of crazy this year has held.

(For those who don’t know, I’m named for the main character in a beautiful, convoluted, complicated, epic fantasy series The Chronicles of the Kencyrath. The author makes George RR Martin seem a speed writer; my mother first picked up the series as a young girl, and now that I’m raising my son the series still isn’t finished).

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Life is unusually charmed; husband newly hitched, house pretty much ours (signing all the things next week!), a job that suits me pay and temperament wise, steady riding and weight creeping off, no broken bones on the kid yet this year. I’m not yet 30, and in the space of a season I’ve hit a ton of the major life milestones. Marriage, house, career job…I’ve already covered the kid part, though I need to rededicated myself to the raising v. keeping alive and in clean clothes mode we’ve been in as the school year draws to a close.

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But as my namesake does, I must test things, push and prod and question the limits. It’s not a wonder then, that I’ve embraced, made my internal peace and found a smart direction for that testing part of my nature. As I’ve settled ever more seriously into the domestic bliss or at least settled happiness life I’m carving out with my boys, I seek just a piece of release and fun and crazy, those questing things I gave up for Kade when most of my peers were out doing the weird, the stupid or the ill advised.

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That I’m juggling both at once-settled happiness and pushing the details-perhaps suits me more than it should. There are the inevitable doubts, fears, questions and cautions, but so long as I embrace the fun and not the rest of it, I should hope it provides the stress relief I seek, not the drama or complications.

I’m referring, of course, to endurance riding. (You thought I meant gambling or skydiving or something didn’t you?) This was supposed to be my year for my first 50 mile ride; I’ve paid dues to both PNER & AERC; I’ve ridden at least four times a month since January. I’ve got my camping and riding gear organized to the nines, and can toss stuff in the truck and be ready to take off in a half hour flat, kid and dog included!

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Between the new job being temp to hire (no paid vacation time) and buying the house, both my ability to take Friday’s off and the funds for rides has evaporated. My focus is shifting; from endurance as a “get it done now!” activity to horse riding as stress relief, at least until next season. Moving, painting, setting up a pantry,  epoxy for the garage floor, dog door, cleaning out the rental, all the other little projects to make this house into our house will take any spare cent and mental space for the immediate future.

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This is both a little disappointing and also freeing, as was my earlier revelation that horse camping without the endurance ride part is relaxing. Endurance is about miles, yes, but also the details, from tack fit to how many miles to training gaps. Now that my day job and personal life is jam packed and an actual endurance season is off the table, I have more time to use those detail oriented skills on setting myself up better for endurance, rather than “just” chugging through conditioning miles.

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I can focus on riding a good horse, relaxing either in a group of friends or just me, the horse and the dog. I’m building a solid relationship with Ray, who pushes me just enough to be a better rider, while leaving me happy when I’ve put him up with an extra treat for his efforts.  There will always be tack fit, gear and other things to futz with. There’s also other things I can try closer to home, like cattle sorting or Competitive Mounted Orienteering, wine or poker rides.

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“An hour spent in the saddle is never wasted.”

 

We went full nautical!

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For a chunk of last year I had to dust off my single mom parenting skills, as Tom traveled extensively for work and kicked butt all along the way. Customers and internal employees alike sang his praises, and rightfully so. His employer (now mine too, though totally different departments!) rewarded our family with a hefty bonus around Christmas. We jointly decided to aim for experience over tangible possessions, which found us on the rented sailboat Ibis in Victoria, British Columbia over the holiday weekend.

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All future family trips must now reach this super high set bar! Last year’s trip to Legoland was really for the kid; it was fun, but the entire point of that trip was a happy kid. This trip was for all of us (plus the friends that officially witnessed our wedding!) I can’t recommend the ship or her Captain highly enough (Blackfish Sailing Adventures for those of you interested!)

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Captain Gary is first and foremost an educator, so we spent the day actually sailing ourselves around under his close eye and detailed stories. We started the day in the thick of the start of a long running yacht race, complete with Canadian Navy cannons booming the start to each heat. The rest of the day was spent between 5-30 degrees tilt, tacking hither and yawn, steering around massive container ships, watching the tale tells on the sails, eating a delicious lunch with Timbits and Nanaimo bars at anchor, and unable wipe the grins off our faces for days.

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Tom wants to buy a ship of his own now! I told him he should probably really learn to sail first, maybe? Oh, and there’s this pesky thing called a house we’re buying currently, plus I dream of a truck and trailer of my own someday. Suffice to say, there will be more sailing in our future!

sailboat5That’s the Captain holding onto our kid, you can tell he’s done this for a long time!

We did more things in Victoria, we were there for four days (one day on the water) but the sailing was unquestionably the high point! There’s something in being subject to sea and the winds, working with your ship, the physicality and focus required which is similar in many ways to endurance. The horses will always be my first love, but for a shared family activity I’m not sure much could beat a clear day on the water.

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Riding Keeps Me Sane

So much has happened in the last month it’s crazy to even try to type it out.

A quick & dirty review:

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I went on the first camping trip of the season, over to Sisters and rode three times in two days, all on Ray. By the end of the trip, I was riding Ray bareback three miles while Cyrus chugged along behind.

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I left my state job, after a bare six months (fresh out of trial service in good standing meant I was permanent with the state, so leaving was a big jump!)

I got freakin’ married! Three weeks in and we still don’t have our rings due to ordering them so late; I haven’t changed my name on anything official yet due to our upcoming trip to Canada; and yet, things feel subtly different but we’re still…us.

I started a new job at which my name proceeded me. I left my state job to work for an old manager at a different company, and everyone here has mentioned how well my boss has spoken of me and how excited he is to have me on board. It’s temp to hire so not ideal, but the pay is so much higher, the career path so much easier to see, and I get to kick ass doing what I do best; assisting a safety group to be the best, most efficient and well organized team in the biz. That I can now carpool with my new husband since we work for the same company is just another added bonus.

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But, with change comes stress, and I’ve never been accused of managing change in the most mature way possible. For the month of April I lost almost 10 pounds due to basically not eating or sleeping overmuch. I’m not kidding! We went out with a big bunch of friends to Fuddrucker’s and I ate maybe a quarter of my meal.  I only ate one piece of pizza at a friend’s house, yo. When has anyone known me to eat less than two pieces, no matter how sucky the pizza? I mean, pizza, c’mon.

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The trip to Sisters and then my next ride on Ray, a solo jaunt to our normal stomping grounds that we can access straight from the barn has worked wonders for keeping my head screwed on straight. I went 7 miles with Cyrus trailing along, almost on a loose rein the entire way. Ray did try to pull a few wimpy “Can I go back to the barn” half turns, but sticking to him at Sisters gave me the calmer confidence I needed to deal with these without getting worked up over them, and we had a fantastic ride. I’d ask him to trot or canter at the speed I asked for, then we’d stop, eat and wait for Cyrus to catch up. I was once again alone in the woods with a very good horse, a very happy muddy dog and sunshine.

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My new job is ten times the amount of responsibility and people I effect, but I don’t have to listen for Code Greens or wonder if a friendly hello will tip off a patient. I can put my headphones on and chug through my day, hip deep in some of the things I nerd out over. My friends are coming down this weekend to pick up Ray & I so I can play tour guide at one of the best spots for conditioning and trail rides nearby, and I can’t wait for the heat wave and miles under sturdy hooves (please don’t lose any shoes between now & Sunday Raymond!)

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Mrs. Morse

I started today single, and ended as a Mrs.

What does one say about ones wedding day, especially one whipped up in two weeks and held in a judge’s chambers on his lunch break?

I know two main things: our family and friends are rockstars all, for whom we are deeply and abiding grateful, and I love my new husband, the same but different as I did this morning.

I’m sure I will have new words as the shock and joy quiets, as we take our first steps in this old and weird and brand new tradition, but for now the sun shining on our day full of love is enough, and more than enough.

Joy

I write this with joy in my heart. A tired joy, comfortable and welcome. I set everything aside yesterday and played hooky from work (using up leave time) to spend the day sans phone and any responsibilities with my son.

I can get too caught up in my goals, keeping the house clean, walking the dog, paying bills and all the rest of it and forget to enjoy the whip smart, silly kid I’m raising. I know a good chunk of the rest of the world can’t just turn things off for a day, but I can only live my life.

We spent the day in our swim gear at the Winds N Waves Waterpark, and it was quite simply one of our best days in a long stretch, and badly needed. We swam in the vortex pool, flew yelling down the water slides and relaxed in the crowded hot tub. Never once did I have to raise my voice or an eyebrow; we just hung out and enjoyed each other, only giggles, no cross words or chores.

On the drive home we were both quiet, sipping our Dutch Bros drinks and trying not to fall asleep. I was happy, and so was Kade. I was happy, without reservation or worry or anxiety.

I hadn’t realized how big the weight I’d been carrying as a result of my job in the psychiatric hospital has been. Now that I’m leaving, I can finally take a deep breath. Not only have I turned in my two weeks notice, but the job I’m going to is a complete 180 from the hospital. I’m supporting my old boss and doing the work I’m discovering I’m best at, logistics and organizing and making things smooth and straight forward. It’s a relief to be working for someone who thinks I kick ass, instead of those who hate the change I bring.

Joy is also tasty homemade food with best friends, hitting up the nickel arcade and super tasty ice cream to announce and celebrate our upcoming elopement.

Life is rainy but good!

Easy like Sunday morning

Say what you will about Facebook and their questionable business practices, today I’m thankful for the ability to connect with a wide range of people.

This weekend has been full of spending money and giggling like a little girl, but it’s not Jokker’s fault this time. In response to my last post, a friend suggested I contact a boxer breeder she knew of who had an older dog looking for a new home (a million thanks Ann!)

Based on the cat’s still roundly pissy yowling whenever Cyrus gets too close (he isn’t scared, just mad he’s not an only furry animal in the house now) it may be too early to declare total victory on the dog acquisition front, but in only a day we’ve made adorable headway.

Cyrus is the same age as Kade, coming six years old, already a distinguished gentleman with impeccable manners and a tendency for carrying stuffies around in his mouth. He’s a super cuddler with a soft mouth and needing a soft place to land (he prefers the couch to the super highly rated dog bed I found on Amazon). Kade is already smitten, Tom is being won over by Cyrus doing his best to ignore said pissy cat, and strangers stop and they comment on his handsomeness on our walks.

I know there are a lot of heavy, terrible things racketing around the world these past few weeks, and I’ve given what blood and help I can. In our little corner of the world, our hearts are quietly full, and I’ve made at least one little boy tremendously happy. Coupled with a heavy headed snoring dog, tasty coffee, Tom home from South Korea and a new job to start at tomorrow, life is pretty excellent!

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If you hate being spammed by lots of happy dog and kid photos, or wish to ignore my search for the perfect dog, or point out that there are more important things to be focusing on these days….that last may be true, but today all I can focus on is trying to make life a little better for my own corner of the world, and raising my son to be a helper.

A few years ago, I had the joy of being able to foster several boxers until they were adopted, and when Tom and I moved into together we made the agreement to wait to adopt a dog until we a.) Had a house with a yard and B.) Were fairly job solvent (as much as can be in this crazy world).

Help me bring this scene back to my world!

We’ve been renting our current house for a year, just signed a lease for another and gained landlord approval, and I was finally able to work my way up to a permanent job with the State! I’ve been on several careful shopping sprees to father supplies, lectured the kid on the rules and responsibilities of the dog (and planned matching kid and dog Halloween costumes, what else but Pokemon?). The only thing we lack….Is a dog!

So, internet, Facebook friends, and other awesome peoples, please help us keep a look out for our perfect dog! Since we both work full time, have a giant white cat, and this will mostly be a kid companion, we are looking for an adult house trained dog, preferably a boxer as I can’t resist a wiggle butt! We do have applications into several local rescues, but this is spreading the net even wider.

Thank you all, and go snorgle your fuzzies or wiggly kids or teddy bears!

Escape the smoke

After the topsy turvey summer we’ve had, neither of us could face a crazy holiday weekend of travel, even for horse training. So I skipped a farm visit, and today my little family of three (minus His Royal Fuzzy Whiteness Wilson) mosied over them that hills to the beach.

This lazy day of wandering was exactly what we all needed, quiet time together and an escape from the awful heat and wildfire smoke filling the Willamette valley again today.

We hit Lincoln City, which was reliably packed, enjoyed a nice lunch at McMenamin’s, and found perfect high winds and few people (although still enough kids for Kade to play with) at Bob Straub State Park in Pacific City.

Tom had a blast flying his high tech kites in the wind, busting a steady 15-23mph, and being that special kind of puzzled only engineers get when he couldn’t figure out why I kept crashing the kite. (Hint: you work the kite lines the exact opposite way from reins, which I’ve spent the better part of my life learning and teaching!)

The large pack of kids digging energetically in the sand taught Kade how to find shrimp; we took turns burying each other in the sand; hit pause for a snuggle break to warm up my zero body fat kid; wrote a little of the stress into my journal; and relaxed, watching Kade play, Tom fly kites, on a beautiful sunny windy smoke free beach. I managed (barely) not to cry, out of gratefulness that we live where we can safely steal a day like this, peaceful and together and happy, far from the stresses and strains and sadness of the world for awhile.

Yesterday

The song I’m turning to most recently to keep my spirits up is “Yesterday”, from Imagine Dragons. It has just the right combo of upbeat musicals and slightly somber vocals that matches where I am about now.

Here’s to my future

Here’s to my yesterday

Here’s to change

Oh, here’s to my yesterday

No tomorrow without a yesterday

Here’s to my future

Goodbye to yesterday

I’ve had close to twenty interviews for various administrative positions in the last few months, and exactly zero offers. My cover letter and resume are impressive enough to get into the room, but not enough to reach the final offer. As one can imagine, it sucks large to know I can do a kick-ass job, but not be able to convince people of that.

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On the other hand, training is picking up. I spent a weekend in heaven, riding no less than four different horses, and working with riders and their horses in six different riding lessons. I spent two full days on horseback or in the barn, helping horses or their riders with various issues, strength building, saddle fit, and helping people be more comfortable with their horses. I found a better bit for a young mustang; reminded a beautiful palomino that standing is preferable to being bugged about moving; saw a smile bloom on a rider who finally found a comfortable trot out of his large Quarter Horse gelding.

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I made a joke to Tom that clearly, the universe is trying to tell me something…but we all know how unreliable the universe can be. Building a business is hard, let alone a horse based business, in these times when fewer and fewer have the money and time for such a money and time intensive animal. Pesky adult things like insurance, regular non-equine bills, and a child starting up with sports and swim lessons and whatever else he’ll grow to be interested in to find money for also need to be accounted for.

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I have a decent base to start from, however. A supportive partner with a solid, decent job; a happy go lucky kid; a lifetime of experience with varied horse pursuits and training philosophies, from Pony Club to working draft horses to kid’s camps. I have a good handle on my own strengths and holes as a rider and horse person (don’t ask me much about nutrition, ask a vet!) I have a much better sense of business, of organization, of customer relations than fresh faced college me ever could.

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The path forward isn’t clear, and rejections sting, but I’ll keep plugging along at it until something gives. A steady paycheck has something to be said for it, although being home to send Kade off to school and pick him up is a large draw for me right now, just being available when he needs us. I have the feeling first grade is going to be a bit tougher than kindergarten was for the short blonde dude, so I’m really hoping/planning for the time we can bring a dog home to give him a friend, a playmate, a warm shoulder to lean on when the parents just can’t understand. Wilson is a very good cat, but he’s still a cat, and I’m a firm believer in the right kid/dog combo. Plus, it’s hard to sleep in or give into laziness with a talkative dog that really needed a walk an hour ago singing in your ear at 5am…though it’ll be interesting to see if “dog needing to pee” or “cat DEMANDING to be fed NOW” wakes us up first!

 

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