Mommy Confession: I need a mom tribe

mom-tribeA friend posted another blogger’s post about finding a mom tribe, and it really resonated with me–and numerous others judging by the comments her share received.  You see, I didn’t realize how isolating being a mom can be, nor did I realize how much I would wish for my own mom tribe.

With the birth of BK, our social calendar completely changed.  I didn’t think it would; I underestimated my desire to keep the baby on schedule and to actually get some sleep at night!

Even now when the children are 5 & 3 and their grandparents keep them overnight, my social life is far from what is was pre-children.  Sure, we take the opportunity to get together with friends who don’t have children, but I’m ready to go home and go to bed by 10:00 now!  After 5 years of motherhood, I just want to catch up on some of that sleep those darling Keller Kids have cost me!

For some reason, I also thought that motherhood would instantly unite me with other mothers of children the same age as my children.  I envisioned play dates with several other moms and their children; the children happily playing or crafting away while the we moms sat back, chatted, and proudly watched our little people.  Somehow, that hasn’t been my reality.  For this, I mostly blame my job.  You see, the mom groups in the area that I’ve looked at joining meet during the week–while I’m at work.  So, no magic mom tribe happening there.

Ultimately, I think my lack of mom tribe is my own fault.  I’ve let the treadmill of life get in the way:  we work and run a few errands during the week, and I clean and try to catch up with the household items like a mad lady on the weekends.  Friendships take work, and I’ve completely failed at reaching out to other moms and arranging events.

Some might be wondering what exactly a mom tribe is.  Shoot, I guess I’m kind of wondering that, too, since I don’t actually belong to one!  To me, it’s a group of friends who can bounce parenting ideas off of one another, feel safe that their personal discussions won’t turn into gossip, and who can just get together and have fun!  Ladies who drop by and don’t care that your coffee table is dusty and fingerprint smeared.  Ladies whose children can be just as wild as my own!

I have friends, obviously, but I’ve let those bonds weaken.  That’s on me.  I used to be the planner, and I’ve not been planning too many social events lately.

Of course, I have Mr. Keller, but husbands aren’t really meant to be best friends.  They’re husbands:  a relationship with its own level of emotional intimacy.

I’m developing a plan of attack!  I’m setting up lunch dates with friends.  I’m going to put myself out there and talk to more moms at my children’s events.  I am going to start making more effort, and I sure hope it pays off!  If you feel like me, know that I’m cheering you on, too!  Shoot, if you feel the same way I do, let me know!  We could do lunch or set up a play date with kids!

October Financial Check

Can you believe that we are already 3/4 of the way through the year? I don’t know know about you, but in my mind, May was yesterday.

In light of it being 3/4 of the way through the year, I thought we might as well do an update on finances. Maybe one day, I’ll really lay it all out and be totally transparent, but I’m not sure that I will ever be that brave. I’d rather you not know some of my deepest, darkest financial secrets like the fact that I spend way too much eating out at really exciting places… like McDonald’s (Remember, I have a 3 year old and a 5 year old).

Financial Check

Taking Financial Accountability seriously makes cents!

Because I’m just not that brave, we’re only going to lay out our savings.

Our savings Year to Date:
1. Mortgage Principle Reduction: $21,134
2. 529 Plan savings: $2,800
3. IRA: $11,000
4. Savings Account (-11,414) — Boo!
5. 401(k) $25,585 –this includes company match & YTD returns
6. Mr. Keller’s work retirement: $3,600
…… For a grand total of: $52,705!

That’s not too shabby! I’m not going to tell you what our savings percentage is, but it’s not too bad. I could wish that our savings account hadn’t actually decreased over the year, but we had to fund those IRAs somehow.

By sharing this information, I’m trying to encourage everyone to start saving. I’m shocked every time I read how few Americans could come up with $1,000 in an emergency. To be honest, I don’t believe it. I think we underestimate our abilities. How many of you are buying unnecessary crap? I know I am!!

I’m also sharing this financial check is so that you can hold us accountable. I want to have F* You money, and the only way to do that is to save diligently.

One thing that has helped us with our savings rate immensely is to pay off all of our debt. We are debt free except for the house, and you cannot imagine how much money that has freed up on a monthly basis!

I used to have no issue with taking advantage of those 0% credit offers, but today, I smile and say “no, but thank you!” You see, even though those offers technically put us ahead (we were making money on the back of inflation), it was keeping us poor. We were overspending, and we were causing our future selves to pay for our mistakes. Why should future Sarah have to pay for Current Sarah’s shopping habit?

Join us at the end of the year for another financial check!

Homework in Kindergarten?!

Homework in kindergartenHomework in kindergarten?!  Every night?  I mean, really, it’s kindergarten!  Should BK really have to sit in class all day and then do homework when he gets home?  There is just something wrong with the way kindergarten is taught today.

BK already dislikes school.  When asked, he will say that it’s just too much learning!  My little guy is a very conscientious, diligent student, but spending most of the day stuck at a desk is just not what BK wants to do.  Shoot!  I can’t even get him to sit at dinner time!  He spends most of dinner standing next to his chair.

I don’t know how anyone else feels, but it truly seems as though the schools have sucked all of the joy out of attending class.  There is, as BK says, “too much learning.”  Just walk into a kindergarten classroom today, and you will see what I mean.

When I attended kindergarten 25 years ago, there were play areas.  Now, when I look at BK’s classroom, I cannot identify any play areas.  Yet, children at that age learn best through play!  In fact, there is hard evidence that children learn best through play and not in an academic setting.

Yet, BK was expected to enter kindergarten knowing his alphabet, how to write, recognize letters, days of the week, months, and how to count to 100.  I learned those things in kindergarten!  Actually, truth be told, I learned them in first grade.  Some of us are slower than others.

When I attending kindergarten, we learned 1 letter each week.  It was fun!  BK finishes up the unit on the alphabet this week.  They started school 1 month ago.

I worry that we are either going to burn out our children or turn them into little robots who struggle with how to think for themselves.  I could already see some of that as I went through school.  So many of my peers were unable to truly think for themselves.  Sure, we could spit back facts and data, but many didn’t truly understand what it was that was being taught.

I don’t know what to do.  Do we refuse to do the homework?  Then, BK won’t get a sticker, and stickers are important to 5 year olds.  Do we do the homework, but only under protest?  That seems dangerous.  Right now, we simply sit down and do the homework each evening.  BK generally has a positive attitude about it, and we provide him with lots of praise.  We do not mention our annoyance with the fact that the homework even exists, because I don’t want to create a bad attitude in BK.

It is my very strongly held opinion that homework in kindergarten is wrong.  In fact, the entire emphasis upon academics in kindergarten is wrong.  Children at this age learn through play.  They learn through socializing.  They weren’t made to sit still for hours.

Finding Common Ground

Mr. Keller and I don’t have a whole lot in common:

  1.  He’s an extrovert; I’m an introvert
  2. He loves to farm; I find the farm equipment a little intimidating
  3. I work a desk job; he enjoys his outside job
  4. I have a master’s degree and professional license; he has an associate’s degree
  5. I love spreadsheets & budgeting; he does not
  6. He is patient and a great father; I struggle daily with maintaining my calm
  7. He’s the last one to leave a party; I just want to be at home in my pajamas

You get the point.  The list is a thousand times longer than that.  We are different people, and sometimes we struggle to understand one another.  At this point, we’re used to one another; we know what to expect, but that doesn’t make our differences go away.perfect-couples

We have to find common ground.  For Mr. Keller and I, that means semi-regular date nights, and allowing ourselves the opportunity to concentrate on just one another.

We recently purchased Chicago Bears season tickets.  Although they certainly were not inexpensive, they were really easy to rationalize.  First, we both love football so it gives us an opportunity to connect over something that we have in common.  Second, it’s a nearly 3 hour drive to the stadium.  That’s 6 hours round trip where we are actually together in one space without any little ones to interrupt.

We went to our first game this past Sunday, and it was a success!  First, we managed to get there without killing one another.  He was driving, and I was navigating (or trying to, anyway).  At first, Mr. Keller was completely uninterested in my suggestions on directions, and then, when he needed to listen to directions, I was pretty uninterested in providing them!  Actually, the drive was fine.  We hit very little traffic until we were nearly at the stadium.  We took one wrong turn, but it wasn’t really wrong.  It was just a little early, and we had no issues finding our destination.  It was the giant stadium that every other car was trying to get to.

Mr. Keller and I didn’t have any earth shattering conversations.  They weren’t necessary.  We simply enjoyed one another’s company.  We talked about the upcoming game, our fantasy football teams, and our NFL game picks (unfortunately, after totally dominating the last season, I’m not doing so well in either fantasy or game picks–hopefully, I can pull out of my slump!).  The conversation topics were light, but they reflected where we are at right now.  We’re both pretty content with life, and neither of us have any great concerns.  We’re on the same page where it counts.

To really top off a great day, the Chicago Bears even won!  They defeated the Detroit Lions, and earned their first win of the season (there’s a reason that the season tickets were affordable…).

Here’s to more Sundays in the future spent together!

BK and Kindergarten

BK has completed his first full week of kindergarten.  Honestly, it’s been challenging for all of us.  This kid does not like change, and he wants us all to know it.

The first day of kindergarten started off pretty well.  First, the kids actually get to take a little bit longer to get ready in the morning as BK gets on the bus about 30 minutes later than I used to drop them off at daycare.  I found myself able to get a lot more done in the mornings, and the kids are much more awake.

kindergartenWe must have all been a little bit excited and anxious for kindergarten!  I had BK and MK ready for school and outside waiting for the bus a good 20 minutes before it was due.  I wanted to be sure we got plenty of good pictures, and I knew that the bus would probably be running a little early on that first day.  It worked out fine!  I was able to get several good pictures of both of the kids, we listened to Pandora radio on my phone, and we just enjoyed the nice weather.

When the bus pulled up, BK was ready!  He had his book bag on, gave MK and I a hug, and he resolutely climbed the stairs.  In our house, he’s such a big boy, but he looked so tiny climbing on to that bus!  It made MK and I both a little sad to watch him go.kindergarten

Nevertheless, MK and I climbed into my car to continue our day.  She teared up a little bit when I took her into daycare without BK, and we talked about how it was okay to miss BK, but she was a big girl now.  She could do this on her own.  She gave a little sniff, a nod of her head, and then a tiny smile.  She liked being called a big girl!

I was anxious to get home at the end of the day to see my new kindergartener.  He, it turns out, was equally anxious to get home.  He was not too happy.  First, he didn’t have enough time to eat all of his lunch at school.  He had eaten hot lunch that day, but he informed me that he would only do cold lunch now.  Then, he told me that I forgot to pack an afternoon snack for him.  I didn’t even know I was supposed to do that!  The night before, at kindergarten orientation, we were given a huge stack of papers and few instructions.  On the last page of those papers, I found where it said we should pack a healthy snack.  Oops.

BK’s next complaint was about his lack of friends.  I knew that part would be hard for him, but I reminded him that school has just started.  He will make friends.  BK also complained about the bus.  He told me, “I thought it would be fun.  It’s not.”  I’m not sure what he imagined, but I guess reality didn’t align with his imagination.  Honestly, it was a little bit heart breaking.kindergarten

Since that first day, we’ve successfully packed lunch and a snack every day.  BK has also made two friends in his class, found several people that he knows on the bus, and found a couple of kids he knows from daycare in other kindergarten classes.  He’s still asking if he can go to daycare instead of kindergarten every day.

Poor BK is just not good at change.