Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Bank of Peculiar (or finances for kids)

My son was recently tossed into the real world of money; a sort of sink or swim scenario. He and his dad *love* thrifting. They especially adore vintage clothing. But they've found that in order to support their habit they must sell some of what they buy (i.e. mama put the kibosh on spending family money that was, say, slated to pay the mortgage.)

So the boy delved into Ebay and now also has his own Etsy shop. I *love* this. He's learning photography, writing, negotiating and financial management. Talk about real world schooling.

This week he wanted to make a purchase. Thus he took money from his bank account bringing the balance below that magical twenty-five dollar mark.

Mama warned him. Mama said there would be penalties -- maintenance fees and what not. The boy, in his wisdom, assured Mama he would put the money back in a few short days and the bank would be fine with that. Mama tried to explain that banks are not benevolent entities; they are money making machines that will "getcha" at every opportunity (sad but oh so true).

And Mama was right. The boy was hit with a maintenance fee and a subsequent overdraft fee. Needless to say he was not pleased. I withheld the "I told you so" and he learned a good life lesson.

Now I got to thinking. The girls really ought to be learning money management as well. I'm not sure they're ready for the big time and the big bad banks. But they are ready to begin nonetheless. So we opened checking accounts at the Bank of Peculiar; complete with checkbooks and registers. The checks were created on photoshop and contain graphics to appeal to their individual tastes. As you can see Little is a die hard Scooby Doo fan. We may take it one step further and sew our own checkbook covers (stay tuned).

Little had some of her own money and made an initial deposit. Middle had no cash but was thrilled to discover the tooth fairy now had direct deposit capabilities. When the girls want something (say frozen yogurt after school) they will fill out a check. Mama or Papa will pay for the actual item and the amount will be withdrawn from their account.

We are creating a list of household jobs that will be available should the children want to earn additional income. Their "salary" will be deposited into their accounts.

We discussed that, for now, The Bank of Peculiar is a kind and loving bank. However, there may be fees in the future -- say for printing checks or low balances. We also discussed that high balance accounts may be able to earn interest. I want this to be a realistic learning experience; both good and bad. But in the beginning I am simply hoping to peak their interest. So far so good.


Monday, March 28, 2011

This is my year.

I am sitting here all alone. Yes. Again. Only now it's daytime. This alone is normal. Only it isn't.

This is my year; the year I've been counting down to for ages. The year all three of my children would be in school all day. Finally time for me. Time to craft, to exercise, to learn an instrument and to sleep.

This is my year. But rather than do the things above I am wishing my babies were home. This morning I did not want to send them out of the house. I wanted to learn piano with Little. I wanted to help Middle start a writing project and I wanted to help the boy list items on Ebay. I wanted to let them sleep in and I wanted to feed them a wholesome breakfast. Instead I woke them and shoved them out the door.

Today I read a poignant essay about a boy who died at twenty. What if that were my son? All those years sending him to school when he could have been at home.

This is not to say I don't believe in education. I do. Strongly. But why have we contrived a society that so easily places our children under the care of others? Could not some of that education take place at home? Clearly it can. Thus the homeschooling revolution.

I wonder would I? Could I? If you'd asked me a year ago about homeschooling I'd have replied No Way, No How!

Now I'm not so sure. I've got grand plans for the summer. It's going to be my testing ground. From there we'll see how it goes.

In the meantime I'm sitting here, tears running down my cheeks, wishing my babies were home.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I am amazing and so are you.

Alright. So I'm writing this post in advance. Mostly because a) I have to work tomorrow and b) Mr. Peculiar would kill me if I told you was home alone tonight.

Yes, that's right. Home alone. Okay, well not really alone as there are two dogs, three cats, six chickens and I don't know how many fish in my presence. But you get the gist.

This is a rare occasion for me. I'm accustomed to being alone during the day. But night? That's a whole different story.

You see the Mister and the Boy went to the valley to retrieve the girls. And me? I stayed behind to bring home the bacon. You got it -- I had to work.

Now I left the house this morning with a cup of coffee and no other plans for nourishment. This was a tad myopic as I had a twelve hour shift ahead of me. Were I, perhaps, a touch more organized I might have considered food a vital part of my day.

But no. I elected to wing it. As such breakfast was a stale doughnut. And lunch? Multigrain chips with salsa (we're just going to pretend this is a healthy and well balanced meal).

And of course I had no dinner plans. What? No dinner plans on a Saturday night? Sad but oh so true.

I was lucky enough to finish my records before the next doctor came on shift. In my remaining half hour I jumped on the net. By happenstance I came across this amazing recipe. And I thought I can do that. Now let me tell you *that* sure beats the frozen broccoli and cheese I was previously contemplating.

On the way home I stopped by the store -- picked up a tomato, some goat cheese and greens. And a cheapo bottle of wine to boot.

Because you know what? It may be just me. It may be just me, alone, in scrubs covered in who knows what kind of organic material (ahem, enough said). But I deserve it. I deserve to eat well. To treat myself as if I matter. Because I do. I matter. And so do you.

So the next time you are thinking of selling yourself short think again. And treat yourself like the amazing and wonderful person that you are.


PS -- Serendipity. While puttering about the kitchen I discovered we had one, ONE, espresso chocolate chip cupcake in a jar sitting oh so alone. Did I eat it? You know I did.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Boy

The boy and his fishing spear

My son is fourteen, almost fifteen. I don't talk about him much in this space. He's older and more often than not off galavanting with his peers. Gaggles of teenagers don't much like camera toting mamas two steps behind.

But this week has been different. It's spring break. The girls are visiting my folks and the boy stayed home. Most of his friends are gone -- off to San Francisco and other exotic places. Thus he's been hangin' with me. It has been nothing short of lovely.

This morning, at the boy's request, we got up early and went to an estate sale. He bought a set of bull horns (as in horns of a bull) that just crack me up. I came home with several treasures which I am falling in love with. I'd best list them soon before they end up as permanent parts of this clutter home decor.

Anyway back to the boy. This afternoon his friend came over and they built a fire in the chiminea. Their original plan was to catch a quail and roast it. Can you tell they are totally into Survivor Man?

Quail are fast little buggers and there were none to be caught. Were the boys defeated? No. Their plan simply morphed. They carved fishing spears and, as I type, are at the river spearing dinner.

It will be okay if said dinner never arrives. You see I have store bought fish waiting in the fridge. When the boys tire and finally come inside we'll cook together -- fish and chips.

I have to tell you. It warms my heart to see him out there. Active. Exploring. Thinking. Doing. Such a beautiful use of time.

I wish all days could be like today.


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Things I'm loving today:
  • The boy's outfit; a mama knit hat, thrifted pendleton flannel and blue jeans
  • The smell of a campfire in my backyard (makes me feel like I'm on vacation)
  • Exciting vintage finds; fans and suitcases and jars -- oh my!
  • Teaching the boy to cook (hopefully he'll leave this house with a modicum of culinary finesse)
  • The sun streaming in through the back window after a day of snow flurries
  • Fantasies about a potential summer road trip, trailer in tow
  • And, finally, sitting in my chair with a delectably warm computer on my lap and a cat on the arm rest. Ah! This is the life!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Up for the Count

I woke to the rhythmic ding Ding DING, ding Ding DING, ding Ding DING of the intercom. Someone was at the front door. I sat up -- dazed and confused. I was at work and had been catching a cat nap on the futon in the office. It was 5:00 am.

The overnight technician answered the door and started intake paperwork. I wiped drool off my face, stumbled to the bathroom and brushed my hair. The results were questionable at best. Though I'd hoped for stellar and erudite I had to settle for tolerably competent. And, given the hour, even that was dubious.

Our patient was a spastic rat terrier who woke his owners with a deluge of diarrhea; bloody diarrhea no less. Not what anyone wants to be greeted with in the wee hours of the morning.

Now we see quite a bit of bloody diarrhea in these parts*. Thus we are fairly nonchalant about the such things. I have to remind myself this is scary for people. They are not here to disrupt my sleep (well okay -- they are but it's not their primary impetus). No, they are here because they are worried and, quite frankly, terrified about their pet's condition. Certainly if my human children presented with similar signs I'd be a basket case and barrelling through the doors of our local ER.

Despite his illness our patient was bright and chipper. We were able to treat him as an out-patient and send him on his way. Hopefully his people, now educated about his condition, left with a touch less worry in their hearts.

After discharging Fido (name changed to protect confidentiality) I surveyed my surroundings; a strip mall parking lot with a dental office and street sweeper in the distance; not exactly a five-star view. But beyond the concrete was the rising sun and clouds, fluffy and golden, radiantly reflecting the light. It seems there were advantages to waking early.

By that time it was six am. Rather than being down for the count I was up for the count; meaning I had (have) a long day ahead of me. I had charts to finish, insurance forms to fill out and a patient to discharge. After that my primary task was (is) to stay awake.

You see I will be working the day shift this weekend. This means I have to switch from night owl to passably human over the next two days.

It is spring break. Though my girls are visiting Grandma and Grandpa the boy is home. As is Mr. Peculiar. This week he worked Sunday through Wednesday, has today, Thursday, off and works again tomorrow. As per our moniker we hold peculiar hours. The boys want me to go thrifting with them. I think I will. After all I have to do something to stay awake.

Now you have been given fair warning. If any wackado items appear in the shop you may turn me in to Regretsy. I will steadfastly blame any and all oddities on a lack of sleep.

Thank you for stopping by and have a joyful day.


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* Bloody diarrhea has many causes from pancreatitis to parvoviral enteritis to hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. It always warrants a trip to your local veterinarian.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Out on a limb

So when I was a teenager I went to a retreat. Something akin to Marriage Encounter for youngsters (and no I wasn't married but my parents were and still are). Realistically it was a weekend for parents to relish sans children. My parents were nudists. And scientists. Seriously. Who knew what happened when we kids weren't around. Either a lot of sex or some earnest fun analyzing punch cards.

The retreat was all woo woo and a bunch of cr*p and stuff I simply didn't buy into (like gag me with a spoon). Then came the last day. The day when our parents came to pick us up. The day when we had to stand in front of an audience and talk about what our parents, our lives, meant to us. The day I bawled and blubbered in front of 100+ people. The day I realized -- yes -- I have feelings. These people in my life have meaning (despite their penchant for boobies and the pascal computer language). And, for lack of a better term, I was (and am) a sap.

Fast forward, I don't know, twenty-plus years. I am still a sap. I believe in human possibility. I believe in optimism. I believe in you and me and this world as a whole. And, yes, I believe in boobies -- after all they've nourished my three children.

I also believe we can band together. I believe it will work out for the best. I believe all my life experiences have meaning and importance (even that two week stent wrapping candles despite my four-year-degree). Simply put I believe.

Am I a sap? Oh yeah. Am I human? You betcha. Do I believe? Yes. Emphatically yes. I believe in you and me and this place and this time. I believe in little girls in tutus on skateboards. I believe in middle-aged women taking hip hop. I believe in brawny men with a penchant for vintage clothing. I believe in the kinetic energy of the teenager.

I believe all of our faults combined do not equal the goodness that swells just below the surface. I believe we, this world, can do this.

And that, tonight, is what I have to say.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Solace in the Ordinary

I visited SouleMama's blog today and was blessed with a wonderful reminder. There is great solace in the ordinary. This I know but oft forget.

I've been feeling small and helpless. Wanting to do more for our world. Wanting to reach out, act and make a difference. I've donated money. I've marched through the house turning out lights. I've lectured my brood about energy and waste. Yet it doesn't feel enough. I want to go to Japan and help -- provide veterinary care or move debris or simply reach out and hug those in need.

But the reality of the situation is I am here. My family needs me. The laundry awaits. The dishes are piling up. The dogs continue to shed and a thorough vacuuming is in order. These tasks also hold meaning. This life, my life, no matter how small, is important and warrants tending.

So I am seeking solace in the ordinary. I am washing dishes and letting the warm water run over my hands and pour into my soul. I am doing laundry and burying my nose in the softness and heat. I am knitting wash clothes with vintage needles and feeling a deep connection with women of the past. I am collecting eggs and marveling at my chickens and the wonders of this world. I am appreciating these moments with a full and open heart; these points in time that are everything and always will be everything.

This is not to say I've forgetten our friends across the sea. Far from it. I pledge to do what I can. But I am also turning inward and focusing on what is before me. Now if I could *just* figure out what's for dinner ...

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Things I'm loving today:

  • William Carlos Williams and his beautiful simple poetry
  • Late winter rain that signals spring's arrival
  • The delectable smell of clothes fresh from the dryer
  • Fresh laid eggs still warm to the touch
  • A quiet house in which to gather my thoughts
  • After school baking with my daughters
  • The serene comforts of knitting (I hope to have knitting through any and all disasters).
  • An upcoming book club with wonderful thoughtful women
  • And the thought of crafty new environmentally friendly projects on the horizon

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Every little bit ...

I am sitting in awe of the earth and our world. Earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand. Nuclear plants overheating. Venerable churches collapsing. These places top my travel bucket list. It feels strange knowing they've been damaged. Their residents have been damaged. People have died. My heart goes out to all affected.

And here I sit in my cozy home. My bed awaits. I am fed and clothed and sheltered. I am so lucky. It is yet another reminder of the fragility of our world. A reminder to appreciate each and every little thing in each and every day.

I want to reach out. To hug and console with the human touch. Alas I can not. But I can help. We can help.

As such 10% of my March Etsy sales will be donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. It is the least I can do for this wonderful world that has given me so much.

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Forgive me for not posting earlier. I have been waylaid by family and minor illness and world events. Congratulations to the fifth commenter, Jennifer, for winning last week's giveaway.

And thank you for all your wonderful heartfelt comments. I *love* all the connections afforded by the internet. It truly warms my heart!

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And, finally, a list I've not been keeping up on but really ought to continue ...

Things I'm loving today:
  • Gorgeous fluffy white Simpson clouds blooming in the sky.
  • A night at work with Middle by my side (now she has a better appreciation for what Mommy does all night).
  • A spectacular wonderful amazing package from my wonderful spectacular amazing friend Anita. How beautiful is it that someone I've never met in person could know me so well?!!
  • A great book sent by my lovely friend Shelley. I can't wait to delve in.
  • Being on Etsy's Front Page twice (twice) in one day (thanks Treasury Tree Teamies!!)
  • Knitting -- dish clothes and a top secret project for a special friend.
  • Waiting with greedy anticipation to see what color of eggs my new chickens will lay.
  • And You. All you folks on the blogosphere who bring me such joy and hope and love.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

On Money, Gratefulness and a Spring Giveaway (Because of You)

I am working on my relationship with money. It's easy to say there is not enough or I can't afford that or there is no way I will ever pay off my student loan, business loan/second mortgage or mounting credit card debt let alone take a vacation or do something fun and frivolous.

The economy has been *ahem* challenging at best and though the recession is officially over we've yet to see an uptick in my field (veterinary medicine). The simple fact of the matter is people are choosing not to spend money on their pets (at least not yet). My income has consequently dropped year after year. This has been a four-year negative spiral; each year I bring in less money than the year before. 2010 being no exception.

So what's a momma to do? In my case it means tapping in to that right-sided gray matter and opening a vintage shop. And let me tell you. This little shop has made all the difference between us being okay and us flat out floundering.

So I thank you. YOU the people who read this blog and visit my shop and chat on Facebook and spread the word. You who give me moral support, a shoulder to lean on and an outlet to express myself.


But YOU have done so much more than give me a financial and emotional bridge. You enabled me to give my all to save a sweet stray kitty. You allowed me to make a Kiva loan to a lovely lady in Guatemala. And today, thanks to you, I am supporting my local radio station.

You see -- money has a beautiful flow. When you support me I can, in turn, support others. Though I believe in karma the simple truth of the matter is it feels so good to give and to nurture. And I have YOU to thank for the ability to do just that.

Now because you have given me so much I want to give something back -- the lovely spring nest pictured above. This nest is deceptively simple but contains hidden meaning:
  • First know you can create something from nothing; this nest was born from discarded burlap and wool.
  • Second know beauty is everywhere (even in that bag of rice you dragged home from Costco).
  • Third know Spring follows Winter; ergo you can and will bloom year after year.
  • And finally, know there is always enough. This bears repeating. There. Is. Always. Enough.
To enter this giveaway do nothing more than comment below. Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you should your name be drawn. Comments for the giveaway will close Wednesday the 9th at 6:00 pm (pst).

Again I say thank you; to each and every one of you.

With all my heart. XO.