Monthly Archives: February 2017

Working Mom to SAHM… And Back Again

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When I was a kid, the one thing I never expected about being an adult is how many different lives you can lead all within the same life.  Parenthood, it turns out, is one event that can be a life-shifter.

I worked in an educational sales field before being a mom, and never expected that I would want to stay home full time as a parent.  I wrote about our transition to a single income here.  The days spent reading nursery rhymes on the couch and playing “Dinosaur Train” in the driveway were unforgettable and such a blessing.

I wondered if I would ever go back to work, and if I did, how hard would it be to transition back?  It turned out that the hours spent reading with my daughter were the foundation to my return to work.  We read books about American Girl characters, classics like The Wind in the Willows, and many, many dinosaur books.

My husband and I are not willing to give up having me home in summers, so that has limited my work choices.  When my daughter was in 1st grade, I started back to work at her school as a substitute cafeteria worker.  This was hard, physical work, but it gave me experience interacting with all kinds of children.  I met amazing, hard working, ladies who worked at the cafeteria and then went to work at other physically demanding, low paying jobs.

Taking a very entry-level job in a school was my starting point for other school opportunities that didn’t involve lifting 25 pounds of mashed potatoes.  I got to know the principal which allowed me to step into a reading paraprofessional position.   I have found that to increase your wage in these part-time positions, you have to be willing to move around a little and try other school districts.  Each position increased my hourly rate and gave me more experience.

This fall I was looking on the teachers’ job positing website to read about a position a friend was applying for, and I happened upon the holy grail for me… a school library position.  I silently showed it to my husband and he was fully unboard.  It was 3 miles from home, paid about 20% more, and had benefits like paid holidays.

I got a call back for an interview quickly, but it was a strange interview and I didn’t think I had a chance.  At the end, I handed them a list of the 50 or so kids’ fiction books I read in 2016.  

I got the job.  I think the knowledge of kid lit was the clincher.

So, I am happily at a school library every day, home before the bus drops DD off, and making enough that I get matching retirement benefits and an opportunity to contribute to a 403b which I definitely am taking advantage of.

It felt like a long road back, but every job I took contributed to the next job.  As soon as I got the library job I emailed my cafeteria boss and thanked her for my time there…without that job I would have never have landed the other ones.

My advice to a parent choosing to stay home with small children is to do it if your finances and heart are telling you to.  You may find that being home gives you new skills and interests that take you in a career direction you would never have anticipated ūüďö!
 

 

 

 

 

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It Started Frugal . . .

RetroLaceHeartValentineGraphicsFairyThe week started out frugal. ¬†I had a “Secret Valentine” at work (like Secret Santa) and I made her Cupid Crunch (popcorn and pretzels coated in Wilton confectionary coating with added pink M n M’s and sprinkles for bling). ¬†I also gave her stargazer lilies in a vase from Goodwill which I swear was leaded crystal. ¬†I got it for .49 during a “yellow ticket happy hour” of sorts.

We also had a breakfast social at work and I made my Irish soda bread, which is delicious and uses ingredients I have on hand.

We ate at home and used a lot of pantry items.

How was your Valentine’s Day? ¬†I made “black magic” cupcakes, which is one of those famous recipes that I believe originated with Hershey’s cocoa. ¬†My husband picked up our traditional heart-shaped pizza from a local restaurant.

Each week we have a set amount of money we can spend, and when we don’t spend it all, we like to allocate it to savings or other budget areas we are focusing on. ¬†Today we went to Target. ¬†Need I say more? ¬†I think we had 10.00 left at the end of the week. ¬†Much of what we purchased at Target was organic frozen meals which Mr. Saver takes for lunch. ¬†Fortunately, we don’t get to Target very often which minimizes the damage.

At this time we are pretty set budget-wise for kid summer activities.  Our main budget focus is saving for family vacation and overall savings.

 

 

Involuntary Simplicity?

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Mr. Saver Pays a Visit to the Food Truck

How would you feel about avocados being a rare seasonal treat?  Would your trip to Chipotle be complete without that glob of guac on top?  On my mind this week are thoughts about how changes in national (US) policy might affect my family.

Deportation of migrant workers, many of whom have falsified work papers (I didn’t know they were fake!), would immediately affect the prices of fresh food, most of which comes from California’s Central Valley. ¬†Farmers hope their existing work force could be legalized, or that temporary work visas might be available to agricultural workers. ¬†These low paying jobs are back-breaking and difficult to fill with US citizens, who can go work easier jobs for 10.00 an hour. ¬†(For more background on this, read this article.). Crops need to be picked when they need to be picked and if labor is deported, millions of dollars of crops would be lost.

Rising fresh food prices could necessitate home gardens, canning, and buying local/seasonal. ¬†Kind of a throwback to the ’40s ¬†— before strawberries were available fresh year round.

The other piece of the food price puzzle is whether the government places trade restrictions and taxes on imported goods (say to pay for building a big wall), and importing fresh food like avocados and strawberries from places like Mexico quickly becomes cost-prohibitive.

Honestly, if the US sufficiently aggravates other countries, they may not buy goods from our farmers, who are barely hanging on as it is.  This could drive up subsidies which we pay for as taxpayers.

Changes in the cost of items can happen rapidly, as we have experienced occasionally with lettuce, citrus, and recently avocados due to things like weather and labor strikes.   What would your diet and budget look like if food prices increased?  Do you have a means to take advantage of food in season through canning or freezing?

Personally, I’m not ready to start stockpiling 5 pound cans of green beans, but it does get my mind turning about gardening and what we might grow that we will use and won’t be eaten by rabbits. ¬†I have canned jam but never anything for food preservation; I do think this is a useful skill to have.

Do you think the scenarios above are possible? ¬†Probable? ¬† Canadian friends… where do you get your fresh produce from?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimalist Motivation 

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-4-22-45-pmWell, hello! ¬†I thought I would put fingers to iPad after a long hiatus because I’ve been thinking about my “saver” roots after watching an interesting documentary on Netflix called “Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things.”

I’ve been enjoying it on the treadmill at night. ¬†The premise is that we have one shot at this life, as far as we know, and spending it acquiring, tending, and shopping for things is not a very satisfying way to spend our days here. ¬†The show also brings in some KonMari ideas… it’s not that one needs to have nothing, but what we do have should bring joy and function to our daily lives.

The movie is relevant to me because I seem to have less and less time to tend to our house and belongings, so having less and being able to find things seems appealing.¬† I would love to know that my closet and my daughter’s only contains clothes we will wear and enjoy wearing.

We both went through our closets this weekend … nothing as extensive as Marie Kondo’s method of touching everything you own … but it feels good to pass along what we can and to be able to find what we need.¬† Trust me, more work is needed!¬† I choose to look at this as ‘baby steps when I can’ rather than a massive project tearing apart the house.¬† My work schedule and kid schedule just doesn’t allow for something like that right now.

Today I need to jot down what we are taking to Goodwill for tax purposes (one of my least favorite jobs!) and I will drop them off tomorrow when I run DD to dance class.

Have you seen this documentary?  Do any parts of minimalism feel relevant to you?