Saturday, February 28, 2009

Well I Tried

I set a goal to post at least 16 times in the month of February but this is only my 15th post. At least I came close and February is a short month. This month I posted, on average, every other day. I want to do even better in March, even though I'm getting busier every day as we move closer to Pesach.

Speaking of goals, I really haven't been keeping up with either setting or achieving much in the way of goals since the beginning of this year. I know I set a few goals for 2009, but I'm talking about shorter term, more manageable goals. I haven't even been keeping up with the microgoals toward my long term goals recently.

That's kind of sad. I'm just not sure I'll be able to do much better until after Pesach, say mid-April or even May. Right now I think I'll be pleased if I just keep on taking baby steps towards getting ready for Pesach, whether that means cleaning something, buying things, planning, etc.

On Friday I actually spent $10 on 10 new terry tea towels that I'll begin using at Pesach. It's not that the price was so good (it's always $10 for 10 at this particular place) but the selection of patterns varies constantly and it's hard to find 2 different patterns I like at one time that are appropriate for assigning to meat and milk. I got 5 towels with a bluish flower on them and 5 others with green olives and olive branches. The blue ones will be for dairy; the green will be for meat.

Then tonight, after Shabbos ended, I got started on clearing out the bathroom before the reno starts. I've had 3 boxes sitting in the (unusable) tub ever since we moved in. Two of them were packed by the restoration company a couple of years ago, the other I was actually using at our last place. Whenever I've needed something I had to go poking through the lot to find it. I went through all three boxes tonight and got it down to one box! There were some things in the restoration company boxes I've been missing and wanted to keep but a lot of other things were simply too old. Dried up or totally separated nail polish, old tooth brushes, very old liquid soap, etc. All those went into a garbage bag. There were some good finds though. I have enough brand new (still sealed in their packaging) toothbrushes to use for Pesach. And I found a never-used powder eye shadow I got at MAC, plus my new brushes (still in their case). There was also a pink rubber ducky DC was happy to see.

I'm feeling the urge to make some goals for the month of March, but I think I'm going to sleep on it.

100th Day of School

Friday was the 100th Day of School for Dear Child! On Thursday the kindergarten class baked cookies at school. On Friday they went from class to class, singing a song about the 100th day and handing out cookies to all the rest of the kids. They had crowns to wear and necklaces made with one hundred cereal Os.

The class also had an assignment to carry out at home. They had to count out one hundred small items, put them in a Ziplock and bring them in. DC brought Trix cereal. Some of the other kids brought cotton swabs, dry pasta, you name it.

Now, this whole 100th day of school thing is new to me. We certainly didn't have it back in the Dark Ages, when I went to school. My adult kids never had it. But I saw a book in the Scholastic handout recently that was about the 100th day of school, so it can't just be her class.

Anyway, it was fun. And she got to bring enough cookies home for us each to have one!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rough Day at Work

Computers. You've gotta love them, except when you want to toss them off the top of the building! I left work last night just before 10:30 pm. Both computers were working perfectly. I shut them down and went home. This morning I got a call from my co-worker who gets in about an hour before me, saying her computer won't turn on.

Just wonderful. Pretty much everything sits on her computer. Our database, all our Office files, my Outlook files, you name it. Someone came to pick it up and we got a call a while later to say that it wasn't the power supply, it was the motherboard. Oh joy.

So I dug out my old ginormous box from under my table and hooked it up. They brought back her box and installed the hard drive in the old PC. Then I got my IT Manager from Head Office to help us get everything up and running (repathing, renaming, copying stuff from here to there). It only took us until about 2 pm to be fully functional again. Thank goodness we saved my old box when I got the new, tiny desktop.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How Can it be Wednesday Again?

I feel like everything around me is going faster than normal and I'm in slow motion. I can't believe how fast time is flying by. The good news is, Son-in-Law's dad is due to arrive on Sunday for a week to do our bathroom reno. The bad news is, I am so not ready.

I made a beautiful Pesach cleaning plan that even took the bathroom reno into consideration. The thing with the plan is that you actually have to do all the things you write down in order for it to work. Amazing but true.

Today should have been the first day of my 3rd week of cleaning, beginning to work on the part of the kitchen that is right by the bathroom door, clearing the foyer, etc. I have a number of things to do in order to be able to lay tile in these areas. Instead, I'm still somewhere in the middle of week one, going through boxes of clothes that were stacked in Dear Child's room. I keep washing, folding, putting away, bagging for donation, etc. but I'm not finished with all the clothes in her room yet. It's not that there are so many (5 or 6 boxes), it's that I'm only getting through maybe one load per day. And I'm not doing something every day.

Well, I'm doing plenty, but just not plenty of cleaning and organizing. Today I drove DC to school, worked for 4.5 hours, went to the bank, came home, washed a load, had maybe 20 minutes to myself, got the little girls, drove with them to pick up DC, went to gymnastics for an hour, drove with everybody to pick up Eldest Daughter and stopped at Safeway on the way home. I had dinner and some computer time (less than an hour), went back to work and came home after 10:30 pm. The clean load is sitting in a basket at the foot of my bed.

This past week was supposed to be the master bedroom. It. Didn't. Get. Touched. I'm not making things easy for myself by putting things off. It still all has to get done and I'm getting a little too old and a lot too tired to be pulling a series of all-nighters.

The problem is that I need at least 2 or 3 hours of cleaning and organizing time per day and I can't do it. I often don't have the time because I really can't get much done with the 2 little girls down here and I'm also very tired. I can't work for an hour or 2 or 3 straight just because I don't have other committments for that period of time. When my big kids were little I used to do an amazing amount, plus they were expected to pitch in. I remember scrubbing ceilings and the window tracks. I don't have the strength for that sort of thing now. Luckily, I don't have anybody currently at home who feels the need to put greasy hand prints on the ceiling in their bedroom!

So, what am I going to do? Well, I have to get ready for the bathroom reno. I have to start on my week 3 list tomorrow. The reno starts Monday. I have until then to clear out the bathroom, clear the area in the kitchen around the bathroom and clear the foyer. I just have no clue where most of the things that are currently in those areas are going to go. I'll have one day where I'll be laying floor tile and the next day where I have to grout it, maybe Wednesday and Thursday, depending on how the guys progress. Then I have a wardrobe to assemble and place in the foyer, the secretary desk to move in from the playroom and some other furniture to move. Once the bathroom is done there are 3 boxes of stuff to go into the medicine cabinet and the drawers of the vanity. Or not. Most of it isn't kosher for Passover and therefore has to be boxed up and sold for the duration of the holiday. If I put it all in the drawers I'd have to tape them shut and sell the contents. I'll have to think about that. I also need to go through those boxes and decide how much of the contents to keep when you consider that they've been boxed since we moved in last year at this time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stupid Tax

No, I'm not talking about doing my income taxes (although I should get cracking on that fairly soon). I've been charged another round of "Stupidity Tax". I realized that I didn't have enough money to pay both the overdue portion of my cell bill and half of the amount I intended to pay on my MasterCard.

There were clever things I could have done. I could have paid half towards each bill. I could have paid the amount I intended on my cell and then just put $15 or so on the credit card. I could have paid the credit card and left the cell bill for a week or so. But I didn't. I stuck my head in the sand and, as a direct result, went overlimit on my credit card for the first time ever.

So, how much is the tax on stupidity this week? $29. I went overlimit by $12.84 and incurred a charge of $29. If I had paid $15 on the card I wouldn't have gone over! Adding insult to injury, I didn't go over because I bought something. I haven't used the card since I put the fuel oil on it in December and I paid it down by the amount I was charging beforehand. No, this was all purely interest. Because, you know, I have so much extra money that I don't know what to do with it all, so I like to give the nice people at MasterCard at least $90 per month. (Excuse me while I wipe off the excess sarcasm that oozed out all over the computer.)

So, do you know what my minimum payment is this month? $41.84. That is the exact amount by which I'm overlimit. So, if I just blindly paid the minimum payment what would happen? I'd get charged another $90 or so in interest, I'd go overlimit again and they could charge me another $29! That means I need to pay at least $150 before the due date of March 12th in order to be sure that I'm not going to go over again.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Part 3 Parnassah (or How am I Going to Pay for That?)

And now, the answer to the $64,000 question: How am I going to pay for that? (How many of you even remember the $64,000 Question? That goes back quite some time.)

The intelligent way to pay for the extra expenses associated with holidays like Purim and Pesach (fill in your own holidays folks, you all have them) would be to divide up what you typically spend and put away 1/12 of it every month. Then, when the time came, the money would be sitting there in the bank. No nail-biting. No juggling. No running up credit cards.

Well, I am intelligent, the test results all say so; I just don't seem to be very smart. I haven't put away money for expenses in advance for years now. Guess what? I'm 6 and a half weeks away from Pesach and I have no money saved up. So what am I going to do, especially when you consider that the only 2 credit cards we have that allow you to charge things like food are maxed?

For starters I've already arranged to start paying for Dog in advance, so that I'll have made 2 payments before he ever goes away. Plus, I'm counting on the fact that I'm getting 3 paycheques in the month of April and I have a little extra coming in for some other work I've done recently (and some more that I will be doing over the next month or two).

The other thing is that I always overbuy for Pesach. I'm not going to stop that. We don't buy anything once Pesach starts. That means if I don't buy enough we have some seriously grumpy, hungry individuals roaming the house (me included!). I'd much rather buy too much and then incorporate what's left into my menus over the next week or two after Pesach than run short. The fact is, I do always have some food left over. Plus, there's always some food that gets boxed up and sold with the everyday dishes, etc. for the duration of Pesach. Afterwards, I can use it up too.

We eat a lot during Passover, far too much in fact. That means we'll probably welcome an austere week immediately after. All in all, after spending huge amounts of money on food from mid March to early April, we'll probably spend a little less than normal for the rest of the month.

I also hope that I can start to put away even a portion of what we need on a monthly basis in preparation for next year. To really cover it I'd have to save a little over $100 per month and I don't see that happening at the moment until I have all the bills under control and make some serious progress on one or both credit cards. But if I even saved half of that it would cover half our expenses next year and it would be a real help.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The 3 P's Part 2

As I was saying before I fell asleep a couple of nights ago, Purim is a lot of fun. And it can be done fairly inexpensively, but it often ends up costing at least somewhat more.

Costumes are easy. Keep a bin for costume type clothes, whether you hit the stores for leftover costumes on November 1st, check out Value Village (I once got a Pakistani silk suit for $7 that I wore a 2 or 3 times for Purim), or just toss in bits and pieces of adult clothes that would make a jazzy kid costume. Of course you could go all out and rent a really fancy costume from a costume supply place, but there's no need.

Giving charity to 2 people isn't optional, but you don't have to give a fortune. I usually give $18 each these days because the numerical equivalent of "chai" (life) is 18, but when I was a single parent with 3 school-age kids I sometimes gave $10 apiece.

Then there's mishloach manot, the gifts of food. At it's most basic the mitzvah is fulfilled with 2 types of food given to one person. But you also usually want to reciprocate and give a basket or bag to everyone who gives to you. And 2 items of food looks pretty skimpy, so you toss in a few nuts and a couple of candies to go with the cookies and the cake and pretty soon you've spent at least $20 on food. Plus most people try to package the food attractively and that also costs money. I've often bought brown lunch bags and drawn on them with coloured scented markers as an inexpensive packaging alternative.

This year I'm faced with the school fundraiser. For $5 per household you can send to as many people as you like. The school (read: a group of mothers) puts together boxes and baskets and volunteer drivers deliver them for you on Purim day. If up to x many people send to one family they get a small box, if more people send to them they get something bigger, and so on up to a few really big baskets that usually go to the rabbis. I'm sure each small box costs the school less than $5 to put together, so it's a great fundraiser for the school.

I went online and made a tentative list, totalled it up and found it would cost $75. Plus I'm already committed to buying a dozen cookies from another organization for $20 (also a fundraiser, and one I've supported for several years). Now, $75 is more than I would spend on the bags and contents if I packed them myself. I use the cookies in the bags, but would probably spend about another $30 on everything else I'd need (including a few extra cookies because a dozen isn't enough). So the convenience cost of doing it through the school is about $45. I still haven't decided what I'm going to do.

A month after Purim comes Passover, the 8 day festival that commemorates the story of the Exodus from Egypt. We eat matzo (kind of like a large flat cracker, made of flour and water and baked very quickly in a very hot oven) to remember how we left Egypt in a hurry and didn't have time for our bread to rise. That, in and of itself, wouldn't be too difficult.

But we also get rid of all our bread, pasta, cereals, cookies, etc. that contain flour made of any of the 5 grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt). The pots and pans and dishes that we use throughout the year get put away and out come new sets of everything that get used just over 1 week per year. The whole house is cleaned to get rid of every crumb that may be hiding in a pocket, under a sofa cushion or on the floor. The kitchen gets very special treatment. It's intense.

We have 2 seders, special meals where we read the story of the Exodus and discuss it. I host the seders for our family because we're the only ones that really keep kosher and we normally have 14 people before we even get around to inviting any guests (and usually we have a few of those as well). The food bills at Pesach are horrendous. We only use very special dairy products, supervised from the time of milking. We eat a lot of meat during 4 full festival days plus Shabbat and a couple of semi-festival days. Normally we only eat meat on Shabbat. We go through a lot of wine and grape juice because you each have to have 4 cups at each seder, plus there's kiddush on all the other festive meals, which you say over a cup of wine. We have a lot more people over than we do the rest of the year. It all adds up.

I figure I usually spend about $1,000 on Pesach food and related products plus about another $400 to board Dog for 10 days. He can't eat his usual food if he stays home and I don't think his tummy would do too well on matzo and tunafish (some of the human tummies have issues after a few days of matzo). Besides he loves where he goes. The dogs aren't crated or in a kennel. They have the run of the house, dog beds in the family's bedroom, go hiking through the woods for a couple of hours a day, can eat a gourmet raw food diet, play outside with the other boarding dogs and the 3 family dogs on their fenced acreage and just generally have a riot. I'm surprised he ever wants to come home. And I know there are places that charge as much or more but keep the dogs in wire and concrete kennels and runs and feed them Dog Chow. At best, I might save $5 per day. Believe me, it's not worth it.

But how do we pay for it all? That will be the subject of Part 3, Parnassah.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Purim, Pesach and Parnassah

Purim, Passover and a livelihood might have been easier for some readers to understand, but I just had to go for the alliteration.

It's 3 weeks until Purim and another 4 weeks after that is the beginning of Passover (Pesach). I mentioned writing a plan and starting to "clean" but what is it with this time of year? Why so busy and frantic? Why is it so expensive?

Well, this could easily morph into at least a couple of posts, so let's look at Purim first.

Purim is actually a pretty fun holiday, other than fasting the day prior. It's when we read the Book of Esther, about how Queen Esther and her uncle, Mordechai, saved the Jews of Persia from extermination at the hands of the wicked Haman. This is our kids' turn to dress up in costumes and eat lots of chocolate, candy and cookies.

During the day (from before sunrise, usually somewhere around 3 am) we fast. After it's fully dark we read the megillah (the Book of Esther written on a scroll) and break our fast. The next day we go back to shul and hear the megillah again. Then we send mishloach manot, packages containing different types of food to our friends. You have to send to at least one person but most people have a fairly lengthy list. You give charity to two people and sit down towards the end of the afternoon to a festive meal. This is one holiday that doesn't come with restrictions on things like driving or cooking or taking pictures which makes some aspects easier but can also make it more hectic.

(Edit at 6:42 am: I was going to write more, but I fell asleep! I have to get up now so you'll just have to wait for Part 2.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Walking Again

After not going for several weeks because of bad weather, illness, etc. I went to shul today for the second week in a row. Even better, Hubby and Dear Child also made it. There was a big lunch today, in honour of a friend's son's recent marriage, and several of DC's classmates who normally go elsewhere were at our shul today. She was very happy and split her time between us and playing with her friends after the main part of the lunch.

Then she ended up going to a nearby friend's place with several of the other girls and playing until Shabbos was over. Even better, she let me walk home and didn't insist that I stay with her! I got time to read my Tanya and take a little nap before Shabbos ended and it was time to pick her up. I'm actually happy I walked the hour or so home because I really need the exercise. I've gained another 3 pounds and I know it's a combination of too much junk and far less walking than I'm used to. I'm hoping the weather cooperates for the next while and that I can keep getting to shul on a regular basis. One of my goals has been to lose 10 pounds and that's never going to happen if I stay home and sleep half of every Sabbath away! Plus I really miss it when I don't go.

Eldest Daughter is away again until Thursday so I'm going to bed early because I have to get up when my son-in-law leaves for work to look after the little girls. I hope I'll get a chance to get started tomorrow on the Passover cleaning I planned out the other day. Right now I'm halfway through the first week and I'm already behind. Not a particularly auspicious beginning.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Too Busy to Blog?

When I don't write, either in my journal or on my blog one of two things is usually happening. I'm busy or I'm tired. Or both. And I've figured out over the years that when I start getting busy and tired all the time I'm usually overwhelmed in some way.

Sometimes I'm busy at work or with taking care of the kids. Sometimes I'm sick and still trying to push through to the other side. Sometimes I'm stressed about money. Sometimes I've taken on too many things at once.

Right now it's all of the above. I'm in the middle of a very busy time at work. My Eldest Daughter is going to be out of town for the next several days, so I'm going to have the kids more than usual. I've been fighting something for weeks that has me coughing off and on and makes me hoarse. Since one of the kids was diagnosed with croup last week, it's probably laryngitis (the adult version of croup). I have 2 evening classes and I'm finding Hebrew verbs pretty difficult. Passover is now only 8 weeks away and it's time to start cleaning for it. And I have no money to pay some of my regular bills because we threw everything we had at the Home Depot bill. I keep getting good paycheques (all those extra hours I'm putting in) but it doesn't help when half of it goes to get me out of overdraft every payday. Then the pre-authorized stuff comes out and I'm back to zero so I go back into overdraft for food and gas.

Listen, I knew that February was going to be very tight for money. And I know I'm always really busy at this time of year between work and trying to clean for Passover. I'm hoping that I can just hold on for the next 3 weeks or so and that things will get a little better then. At least I sat down the other night and planned out the cleaning. All I have to do now is follow the plan.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Birthday Parties and Pink Eye

They don't go together. Birthday parties and pink eye, that is. Tomorrow was supposed to be my granddaughter's 4th birthday party with a whole bunch of kiddies and fancy party stuff but her little sister has pink eye. Since it's highly contagious among young kids that pretty well decimated the guest list.

Actually, my other granddaughter also has pink eye. No, not the birthday girl, my son's daughter. They not only don't live with us, they haven't seen us for a few weeks. So go figure.

That leaves us with a bunch of party food and only related grownups coming. We're going to push the main part of the party off to next month when both of the other girls have their birthdays. We'll celebrate all 3 of them together with the kids and games. In the meantime I baked her a cake anyway tonight after Shabbos and Eldest Daughter will decorate it in the morning. I know it won't be as much fun as she was expecting but she'll have a cake, cards and presents with half a dozen or so grownups.

Of course, first thing in the morning I'm going to be ... going to work! Yes, even though it's Sunday because I didn't finish everything on Friday. I came very close but that only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Since the project is needed for tomorrow I'm going in to finish it as soon as the building opens. Fun, fun, fun. Then I'll come home for the party (or unparty, as it were).

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Singing a Different Tune Today

Yesterday I expressed satisfaction about the things I'd managed to accomplish. Today, not so much. I worked all day and that's probably about as much satisfaction as I'm going to get. My hours are still pretty hefty so I'll probably have another good cheque mid-month.

But I didn't finish the work I needed to get done today. There's only tomorrow left to complete it and I cannot stay past quarter to two (because school lets out at 2 pm on Fridays). There's still quite a bit to do. I'm not sure how that's going to turn out and I'm a little apprehensive.

When I left work and picked up Dear Child today we went straight home. Normally I go to the kosher deli on Thursday afternoon and try to get all the things I need for Shabbos dinner. That way, if they don't have something, I at least have the possibility of coming back on Friday to get it. When I put off shopping until after 2 pm on Friday on a day when Shabbos comes in before 5 pm I'm in big trouble if I'm missing something essential.

This evening I accomplished nothing beyond eating dinner, if one can call that an accomplishment. Getting a load of laundry done would have been nice. There's certainly no time to do laundry tomorrow. But my brains seem to have turned to mush. I didn't even think about it until I started getting changed for bed.

I'm far too distracted to cope with entering the past couple of days worth of spending and Hubby told me he tried to update his passbook at the ATM and it got eaten. I've had that happen before but I'm nothing if not tenacious. I got my book out again. How? Needle nose pliers. I reached into that little slot, got ahold of a corner and just kept tugging until it coughed it up.

But Hubby just gave up. So now he has to go into the branch and ask for a printout because once they open up the machine any books or cards just get shredded apparently.

As a result of all the above, I'm not singing quite the same tune today as yesterday. And, speaking of singing, I'm frustrated because I have a Billy Joel song stuck in my head and I can't get it out!

You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for
Turn out the light
Don't try to save me
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Won't Wait Now?

Today was It Won't Wait Wednesday and it was payday. What items did I knock off my list today?

First of all, I updated my passbook and took out $160 in cash, all of which went to my Eldest Daughter. I gave ED $20 to replace a gift Dear Child gave to one of her classmates this past weekend and the rest was to repay the money I borrowed from her yesterday when it looked like I might be in danger of going over on my chequing account. Everything worked out perfectly and she was happy to have the money back so fast.

I worked intensively on a project for work that needs to be completed tomorrow, had a meeting about some other work I'm going to do on the side, did all the usual chauffeuring, bought DC a Webkinz that I've owed her as a reward for about a week, bought my granddaughter a birthday present she'd specifically requested and bought about $96 worth of groceries. What with sale prices and a couple of coupons on the packages the cost was about $12 cheaper than the items would have been at full price. I'm happy about that, but it would have been even better if I'd had the money a day earlier and had gotten an additional 10% off for Safeway's monthly Customer Appreciation Day. I'd say "Maybe next month" but February is a short month, so payday falls out again the day after Customer Appreciation Day. Too bad. I've made a point the past few months of doing a big shop then and it's really a help.

Anyway, I did a lot today and I actually got a head start yesterday by going with DC to the Health Unit for shots. She needed a booster that they get in kindergarten and was very anxious about it so I said I'd go too and have a flu shot. They didn't do a clinic at my community centre this year apparently and I'd been putting off arranging it. Not a good idea considering that I have asthma and have had pneumonia twice in the last dozen or so years (once even after having had the pneumococcal vaccine).

There's a couple of bills I still need to pay and I have some updating to do in Excel but I'm pleased with what I accomplished today.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sleep? What's That?

I'm chronically sleep-deprived but last night was tough. I finally got to sleep a little after 2 am.

Then my Eldest Daughter came down with her older daughter around 3 or 3:30 am. The 4 yo was warm and sounded croupy and we talked a bit about what to do. In the end she gave her a dose of Children's Advil and put her to bed with her, propped up with pillows. If she'd gotten worse my daughter and son-in-law would have taken her to Children's. This way, at least, they all got some more sleep. I know from experience none of them would have slept at the hospital and I would probably have ended up with the baby for the rest of the night. And, really, my granddaughter wasn't sick enough for that. She sounded bad but her mood and energy levels were normal. If she'd been sick enough to have to go in she'd have been much more lethargic.

I got back to sleep. My Hubby was up and woke me up coming back into the bedroom. I got back to sleep again. Then I just clicked on at 6 am. At 6:15 am I gave up and got up half an hour early.

I was out of the house by 8 am, walking the dog. I left to take Dear Child to school 15 minutes later and worked all day. Then I accompanied DC to a play date when I picked her up at school at 4 pm.

I went to a class at 8 pm, then went back to the office until the building closed at 10:30 pm. I'm so tired that I don't even feel tired. But I'm going to bed anyway.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Catching Up

I've been doing a lot of catching up recently. I've been catching up on sleep, on what some of my friends who live elsewhere are doing and on recording my expenses in Excel. I've even done some catching up on my Nach studies. (All those are good things.)

I've also been reading and commenting on other blogs. Unfortunately, that all means that I've been shortchanging my own blog to a certain extent. I wrote a paltry 8 posts in the month of January, which I find absolutely shocking. My general intent is to write 5 or 6 posts per week. Last month I averaged 2 per week.

I want to get back on track, really I do. I just find it hard with working 3 evenings per week, taking 2 classes, looking after the girls and trying to keep on top of our finances. I'm going to try to do better in February, but that's not a goal. How's this? My goal for February is to write a minimum of 16 posts.

And now my goal is to get to sleep before 2 am so I'll be able to get up when my alarm goes off at 6:45 am!