Productive Things

My free time needs to be dedicated to income-producing activities and chores. So when I tried to do one of the former but couldn’t, I had to go to the latter, which in this today’s case is taxes.

My list of income-producing activities is short.

  • day job
  • side job
  • writing
  • second side job which hasn’t coalesced into actual income yet

My list of chores is…longer.

  • feed the kids
  • do the laundry
  • do the dishes
  • do the taxes
  • try to make a budget
  • try to stick to the budget
  • do the shopping
  • don’t completely lose my shit

That last one is getting harder and harder.

I did (almost) finish the taxes, though. I got hung up on the last step, but I should be able to wrap it up tomorrow.

Tomorrow. Which hopefully will not include a meltdown on my part.

Do not completely lose my shit.

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Flippin’ the Fishies

We had fish sticks last night, and because you have to turn them halfway through and I was being silly, we now have a phrase my son feels is somewhat inappropriate.

I still think it’s cute, though.

Photo by Gregor Moser on Unsplash

Meal Planning

I am lousy at coupons and worse at meal planning. Our house has a very, “Well, what are you in the mood for?” vibe going on.

Well, that’s got to stop because I have to start sorting out coupons and budgeting and stupid money things. (They’re not stupid. I’m just frustrated. I shouldn’t do that. I’ll try better next time.)

I am sure I could go find a website to teach me how to plan meals (which translates to making a shopping list, the way I’m thinking about it). I could get myself a spreadsheet and add some dates and some meal columns and try that out, I guess. Instead, I think I’ll try to think about our week and what people tend to eat when. Maybe most of that’s impulse eating (I’m not the only one who tries to shove my feelings down with food), but maybe that will become clear when I go through it, too.

So let’s see…

Breakfast

The kids really like Pop Tarts. That’s not great for them. We have cereal, but nobody can decide what they really like, and we usually end up with tons of food nobody eats until I finally give up and start chowing down on it as an evening snack. As evening snacks go, it’s not bad. Stale (even with the giant plastic pitchers designed to prevent that exact situation), but not bad.

My son, having run out of Pop Tarts this morning ate toast. My daughter didn’t think she had time for toast, so I made her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Making the PB&J, I kind of felt like I should pre-assemble a lot of those, so they’re easy to get at through the week. In fact, I probably should do exactly that, for reasons I suspect I’ll get to during the Lunch review.

My husband likes Pop Tarts as well, but he’ll eat cereal with much less resistance than the kids offer up. He likes to eat straight from the box, so I’m not sure if prepping sandwich bags with cereal would help him or not. We should probably have that conversation at some point. I mean, he’s an adult, and he can make his own breakfast, of course, but I want to make things easy for everyone, especially me.

My breakfasts lately have been cold oatmeal with raisins, cranberry raisins, and dates. I prep them on Sunday night, measuring out a cup of oatmeal and then not so much measuring the dried fruit, and then again measuring a cup of vanilla unsweetened almond milk. I put five of them in the fridge, and then I can just easily grab one to take to work in the morning. This week, I remembered all five. Last week I think I forgot one or two. Or maybe didn’t make them until Monday night? I don’t remember well.

So I should find a Pop Tart alternative everyone will enjoy. Maybe waffles? My husband made and froze pancakes once, but I’m not sure if the kids ate them after. But then again, frozen pancakes are just as “time-consuming” for my daughter as toast would be, unless I made it for her, or woke her up earlier.

Thoughts to consider.

Lunch

My lunch this last week has been slapping together a ham and cheese sandwich in the morning with mustard and mayonnaise. It’s been delicious, and it’s one of those things that’s hard to prep in advance. I could do it the night before, but my evenings are usually busy with other things.

The kids make their lunch for school each day, except Friday (except my daughter who still packs). It’s usually cinnamon applesauce, yogurt, pudding, an Uncrustables sandwich (PB&J prep would come in handy here), and a snack of some kind. This week the snack was just sandwich cookies that I had one of the kids help put in snack bags to make up for the fact that I wasn’t going to buy those lunch pack snacks this week. You know, the overpriced ones with dinky portions? Also, they take a water bottle.

We go through a lot of water bottles in my house. My son will refill his for the entire week, but my daughter doesn’t like the tap water. I need to get a filter (shit, for my Keurig) for the water pitcher we have sitting on the counter, and then maybe we could limit those to lunches. It’s not that water bottles are expensive, but I loathe putting all that plastic out there, even in recycling.

My husband will sometimes have a sandwich but has historically eaten out quite a bit. I’m not throwing shade – I’ve done that, too, but now it has to change. I’m guessing both of us can live on cold meat sandwiches for a couple of years. Maybe switch it up with PB&J here and there.

Dinner

Ugh, this is the hard one. So my husband isn’t comfortable cooking. He’s got a few things he can do well, and he’s slowly branching out, and he’s doing a great job. Whereas I merely don’t like it. I can do it, but I don’t like it. We have (again, historically) eaten a lot of heat-and-eat meals in our house: frozen pizza, pizza rolls, taquitos (the kids hate those right now), bagel bits (see a theme, here?), chicken patties, chicken tenderloin, chicken fingers, fish sticks (daughter won’t eat them – PB&J to the rescue), spaghetti, eggs, ham dinner (daughter hates the ham), and my famous Meat, Cheese, and Apples. Nobody likes casserole, only my husband and I like lasagna, and other things are hit-and-miss.

So dinners are hard.

I did take a survey in the family of who likes what, and the results were not encouraging. Now there is a line of thought that folks should eat what I make and like it, and I like that line of thought. I support it. But it’s hard when food is made and only one person will eat it. Repeat casserole sucks when it repeats for five days.

After further examination (and starting this post at 9 a.m. and finishing it up at 6:20 p.m.), I think I might go back to the stupid spreadsheet and the stupid chart, because dinners are stupid.

I’ll do better tomorrow.

Upcoming

“Okay, here’s the situation…”

I’m going to have some financial-oriented content to post soon, a series of articles about debt and my experience with it. I thought about starting a whole new blog for it, but let’s face it: I start new blogs and then run out of things to say and then they die. I don’t need another online space to get abandoned right now.

So I’ll put the articles I want to write here under the Monies category, which has been previously used for income and expenses. I’m not doing those because I don’t have writing income to speak of (and because last year depression got in the way of continuing that content).

It’ll be kind of personal stuff because that’s my level of experience. It’ll be kind of personal stuff because when I can find personal stories like mine, it’s so incredibly helpful and cathartic. I want more of those stories out there. I want to personally reinforce to myself what I’ve learned. I want to share so if someone else stops by and is right now where I was 10 years ago, they could maybe avoid some of my mistakes.

That’s what’s coming up. Just thought I’d warn you.

Time to Play?

There should always be time to play.

If I could line up all the little blips when I’m distracted by the TV or mindlessly surfing the Internet or checking to see if I’m going to get paid on that job this week, then it feels like it would be easier to find my time to play.

If I could wake up when I want and get straight to work, then it feels like it would be easier to find my time to play.

It’s hard to remember when my mind is constantly one place that there are things I could also be doing.

Stupid stress.

and by play, i mean write.

Cows. I like cows.

I don’t know why I like cows. I grew up next to a cattle farm, though.

Did you know a cow can drown in just an inch or two of water? I learned that when I was a kid, staring at the giant, bloated body of a dead cow that had done just that.

So cows aren’t always especially smart.

And they aren’t always cute. They get snotty, and they lick their nose with their tongues. Because they can, I guess? I don’t know.

But sometimes they’re cute. Sometimes they’re like giant puppies, dancing and positively frolicking with each other.

They also make a good meal. I will never be a good vegetarian because I really enjoy steak and hamburger.

At the beginning of May, our family celebrates Happy Cow Day. It conflicts a little bit with Star Wars Day, but we make it work. We celebrate Happy Cow Day because cows give us meat, milk, love, and more cows.

I don’t know where I was going with this, and I don’t care. No conclusions here, just typing while I finish this episode of Grey’s Anatomy so I can start typing for money. 🙂

Moving

Moved. Let’s just use all the forms, shall we?

Here’s the deal – and I really don’t know how much is too much, so I’m just going to put this all out there, okay? The deal is that I have entered a debt management plan, and there are things we need, and things that I need but can make due without. Website hosting, since I’m able to export all my blog posts, is something I can do without. I dumped a bunch of domains, too.

And now I’m here!

nivwords.wordpress.com

The domain will redirect here until it expires, and I forget when that is. I don’t have much of an audience anyway, so I don’t expect it to be a large problem.

I’m not blogging much, or writing at all, because of said debt management plan. All my attention right now is going into trying to set up a budget (which is time-consuming and hard) and bring in extra money with things that pay a little quicker than fiction. I don’t think that will last forever, though. I’m hoping to get back to writing in the next few months. Maybe when summer starts.

Photo by Marek Szturc on Unsplash

Y writer no writing?

I am alive! It was a close thing, let me tell you.

And it’s not over.

But the terrifying thing on Monday did not kill me. This is the good news. The bad news is that the terrifying thing pointed out that maybe I cannot make writing a full-time gig this year.

There’s a certain amount of relief in saying that, you know?

My free time, of which I have a small amount, will now primarily be taken up by things that can bring income into my pockets. With the stress that’s been swirling around lately, that’s not writing. It could be, but it’s not right now. Maybe once I cool down a bit. When my mind clears.

(The saying that is plastered on my writing laptop, that waiting for inspiration to write is like standing at the airport waiting for a train tickles the back of my brain, a painful suggestion that maybe I should be trying to write anyway.)

In the meantime, I will be cleaning other people’s homes on a part-time basis. I will also be typing for money. I’ll get better at both with practice, as one does who is willing to learn. I hope it will be enough, and then I still get to see my family.

Ultimately, I remind myself that our family is generally healthy, and as long as we have each other, everything will be okay. It might suck, but it will be okay.

That is the status of things. Happy March.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash