Mommy Confession #5!

Oookay… here it goes:  Mommy Confession #5!  My kids didn’t bathe for a week!  In my defense, last week was incredibly busy; we had an activity that kept us out late every night.  Sure, we could have bathed them in the morning, but let’s get real here!  They were tired!  They needed that extra twenty minutes of sleep!  To be even more honest, I needed those extra 20 minutes of quiet time to wake up just as much as they needed the sleep.

Mommy Confession

Decorating the Christmas tree at Grandma’s house

My kids may or may not have been the smelly kids at their day care (I didn’t notice an odor), but it’s all a trade off.  If I had stuck with our routine and normal schedule, they would have only spent a handful of hours with my siblings who were vising from Texas.  They hadn’t seen their uncle and aunt in months so I stick by my decision.  Slightly dirty children was clearly the better choice in this situation!

Parenting and life are all about trade offs.  We try to squeeze in every minute and every activity that we can, but there are truly only so many hours in the day.  Parents must constantly try to balance work, activities, relationships, house work, and more.  Every evening I feel as though I have to pick between playing with the Keller Kids and doing chores like the dishes.  Unfortunately, doing the dishes usually wins.  One of these days, I’m going to get a dishwasher…

Balancing parenthood and work can also be challenging (I think that’s a post for another day!), and, really, I can’t imagine how many more trade offs we will have to make as the Keller Kids get older and become involved in extracurricular activities.

Mommy Confession

Opening Early Christmas Presents from their uncle and aunt

Finding the right balance is obviously the key.  Choosing to visit with family while still making sure that the Keller Kids get enough sleep was a decision that I made over requiring the Keller Kids to bathe every two days.  Really, it’s not even a very significant trade off.  The Keller Kids got a little dirty, but they were able to build memories that will turn into a family legacy.  Future balancing acts will undoubtedly be a little bit more challenging!

I often think back to my own childhood, and I don’t know how my parents did it!  First, I’m a twin, and I have a younger sibling who is quite a bit younger.  As a result, my parents were constantly pulled in different directions!  We were all three very involved in extracurricular activities, and, of course, they were rarely in the same locations.  Yet, I remember a parent at nearly every one of my activities.  I had a home cooked meal almost every night, our home was well-kept, and all of our basic needs were met.  I sure hope Mr. Keller and I can pull off that same feat!

One last mommy confession today:  this mommy is very worried about balancing work, motherhood, and house hold chores as the Keller Kids get older!!

Plan to Eat Sale

It’s been a while since I posted a blog! I’ll catch up with everyone later and let you know about my great holiday weekend, but I wanted to notify everyone very quickly about the sale at Plan to Eat. Through today, you can subscribe for 50% off!  You can get an annual subscription today for just $19.50!  (Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with this website and receive nothing for promoting their sale.  I just really like it!).

Plan to Eat

Ditch the Cook Book! Switch to an online recipe database called PlanToEat.com

Plan to Eat is an online database for meal planning. You can upload your own recipes or grab some from major websites such as allrecipes.com. Then, you can create a meal planner by just dragging and dropping your recipes into the planner. It sounds simple, and it is! The biggest pain as a new user is just getting all of recipes in the database that you plan to use. After that, it couldn’t get any easier!

What makes Plan to Eat fun? I love the way the recipes pull into the planner. When you pull up the planner to see what you’re supposed to be cooking that night, the recipe is linked along with any pictures. It’s simple and easy! Plus, like I mentioned earlier, the Plan to Eat will work with most of the major recipe websites! You can tour the website’s capabilities here.  I also love that the website was created by a husband and wife team.  They haven’t sold out to a larger corporation, and today, the website is a team of just 4 people!  There are no ads, they do not auto renew your account, and you can always export your recipes even after your subscription expires!

I plan to sign up for my subscription today! I had done a 30 day free trial a while back, and I really liked it. I just couldn’t stomach paying $39 a year for the service. I assumed that I would continue planning meals on my own and just use a planner template I had downloaded for free from Microsoft. I was wrong. My meal planning went down the tubes! Turns out, planning my meals using the boring old Excel template I had downloaded just wasn’t as easy or as fun!

Give Plan to Eat a try!  You may find yourselves loving it as much as I do.  At the minimum, I’m sure that it will save you more than $20 over the next 12 months as will find yourselves eating out less often!

Happy (Belated) Halloween!

Happy (Belated) Halloween! The Keller Kids had a great Halloween, and they definitely kept Mr. Keller and I busy!

Friday, the Keller Kids could not have been more excited to go to daycare! Each of the classrooms at the daycare were having a Halloween parade and party. In fact, BK and MK were so excited to get to daycare that were a good 15 minutes late getting there that morning. Not because they were dragging their feet as is usually the cause, but because their excitement made them very difficult to actually herd out the door!

Wonderfully, Mr. Keller, my mom, and I were all able to attend the children’s celebration at their daycare, too! It was precious watching the kids parading around in their costumes! My favorites had to have been the littlest ones. Their costumes tended to be very snuggly looking!

Happy (Belated) Halloween!

BK and his fellow TMNT

Happy (Belated) Halloween!

BK enjoying his Halloween parade

Happy Belated Halloween!

MK the Dragonfly

After the Halloween party, we headed over to my mom’s house for dinner.  They just put their home on the market so check it out if you would like… or not.  To be honest, I’m not too thrilled that they’re moving away!  I enjoy my time with my mom too much to wish for it to be lessened with an out of state move.

MK enjoying time with her grandma

MK enjoying time with her grandma

After dinner, my mom and her husband, Jim, loaded the kids down with their Halloween treats.  The kids enjoyed the fruit roll ups, popcorn balls, cookies, Peeps, and sucker on the relatively short ride home.  I’m still shocked by two things:  1.  I didn’t suspect that they could get into the treats and unwrap them on their own and 2.  the kids actually slept after all of that sugar!

Happy Belated Halloween

MK loved her blue ring pop

Halloween dawned dreary and chilly the next morning.  Typical Illinois Halloween!  On the plus side, it was only chilly and not downright cold!  Mr. Keller and BK ran out early that morning to pick up the hog we had butchered, and MK and I met them a little bit later at the Keller Farm.  We all headed up a little bit further North to meet baby Lincoln!  Lincoln is one of the newest members of my husband’s extended family (there’s been quite a baby boom, as I referenced here!).  Unfortunately, I had the sniffles, and though I suspect it was mostly allergies, I wasn’t positive enough to actually get very close to the baby.

MK, Lincoln, and his mommy

MK, Lincoln, and his mommy

MK, on the other hand, was all over it!  She has quite the nurturing soul, and she could not have been more excited to meet Baby Lincoln!  BK, on the other hand, was not interested in Lincoln in the slightest.  He was much more interested in the toys that his very generous older cousin had gotten out to entertain BK.  BK was firmly occupied in the world of tractors, cars, trains, and motorcycles until we had to head home a couple of hours later.

We hurried home in order to get the Keller Kids decked out for Halloween!  BK was pretty excited as he remembered all the goodies he received last year when he went Trick or Treating.  MK didn’t seem to remember last year’s Trick or Treating (she was only 1, after all!), and was not nearly as excited; however, she was pretty thrilled to have her dragonfly wings back on.  We visited a few family members and friends in our town before we headed over to my dad’s neighborhood.  We always Trick or Treat there with the kids as it’s just the right size for them, and there are many participating houses.  It’s only a few blocks, and it is comprised of mostly older homes occupied by either older people or young families.  The people tend to be very generous and also seem to really enjoy the children.  Honestly, the kids had a great Halloween!

MK was exhausted and had a little too much sugar!

MK was exhausted and had a little too much sugar!

Sunday was a very different kind of day.  The kids were over tired from their last couple of days, and were, frankly, crabby.  MK also had some stomach trouble which meant that Mr. Keller and I ended up staying home rather than meeting up with some good friends for dinner.  The cows were also misbehaving as we found them sleeping on the wrong side of the barn when Mr. Keller went in to feed them.  Luckily, the cows felt a little bit more cooperative than the Keller Kids, and they headed over to the appropriate side of the barn upon being prompted.

Hopefully everyone had a successful and safe Halloween! Happy (Belated) Halloween!

The Best People!

Celebrating

Celebrating the best people!

I have the best people in my life!  This is just a short note to thank the wonderful people in my life who have reached out to me or helped me in the last week.  As mentioned in a prior post, I turned 30 this past week.  I wasn’t sure what to expect or how I would handle it, but, honestly, it was great!  So many people called, texted, sent cards, and posted on Facebook.  I felt really loved!  On top of that, I was the lucky recipient of 4 birthday dinners!  I mean, how blessed can a girl get?  Oh, wait, I forgot to mention that I even received hand drawn birthday cards from the Keller Kids in the mail!  So cute!

This past week was even crazier than all of that.  I had been tasked with some pretty nasty analysis at work so work was feeling pretty stressful.  I also started to get a cold.  In fact, today I am just plain ill.  Stuffy and miserable.  Even though Mr. Keller isn’t feeling so well himself, he kept the kids with him at the farm yesterday, and he took them to his mom this afternoon.  They were exhausted (exhausting?) this morning, so I can’t imagine that they were as much fun as usual for Grandma.

I really cannot thank everyone enough for all of the birthday wishes and help this past week!  I really do have the best people in my life.  There’s so much more and so many more people I should mention, but I need to get to bed and rest.  Thank you!

Caterpillar’s Announcement

Caterpillar’s announcement yesterday was extremely jarring.  They announced they would trim 4,000-5,000 jobs by the end of this year with a total of 10,000 jobs to be cut by 2017/2018, primarily in the United States.  With average U.S. family size being 2.54 people, this means that 25,400 people will be directly impacted by this announcement, but the true impact is even larger than that.  Not to be melodramatic, but large employee reductions like this mean less money will be spent in our communities by Caterpillar workers, less taxes generated, fewer donations made, and the list goes on.

Financial IndependenceCaterpillar’s announcement may be reminiscent of the one in 2009, but in reality it’s quite different.  In 2009, Caterpillar was facing pressures due to lowered sales expectations, and, of course, the larger issue of the global recession.  Additionally, Caterpillar had a weak balance sheet–not enough cash and too much debt, but those troubles were short lived.  Caterpillar successfully turned around their balance sheet, maintained their credit rating, and saw record sales in 2012.

Today, Caterpillar is in previously unchartered territory for the company; they are predicting a fourth year of decreased sales.  Never in Caterpillar’s 90 year history (including the Great Depression) has Caterpillar faced four years of decreased sales.  Normally, when one market segment is down (Mining, for example), another segment (Energy and Transportation, perhaps) picks up the slack.  Some segments create more profit for Caterpillar than others which can cause the EPS to move cyclically, but, generally sales moved upward.  Now, all segments are down and facing additional headwinds.  There’s certainly no end in sight to low oil prices, global political uncertainty has halted many global construction projects, the U.S. continues to refuse to fund a long term transportation bill to repair the U.S.’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, and mining companies are not replacing machines that would normally have long ago been replaced.  Of course, Caterpillar also faces troubles of it’s own making.  The purchase of Chinese company Siwei has proven disastrous, and the purchase of mining machinery maker Bucyrus was at the minimum badly timed.

With no end in sight to the global and political headwinds, and no chance that the company will reach it’s goal of $100 billion of sales by 2020, Caterpillar is restructuring.  Not only are people being laid off, factories are being closed.  Several have already been announced and it’s been announced that up to 20 production facilities may be closed or consolidated by the end of the restructuring.  Clearly, Caterpillar is showing that it believes that increased sales are not coming soon, and when sales do start to increase, it will take time to reach the levels seen in 2012.

My Reaction as an Employee

It’s hard to put into words the turmoil that Caterpillar’s announcement causes for employees.  We have been told that the bulk of the employee cuts will be management and salaried employees in SG&A (Selling, General & administrative–areas such as accounting, marketing, human resources, and legal).  Work areas will see employees leave and not be replaced.  This puts additional burdens on the employees left in those areas while they wrestle with their own emotions and lowered morale.

In all honesty, Caterpillar leadership has made every attempt to communicate and be highly visible since making the announcement yesterday.  In fact, during my group’s all employee meeting our group president, Ed Rapp, and the CEO, Doug Oberhelman, came to speak.  Both looked haggard and worn out.  They were no happier with their announcements than we were, but they were united in that it had to be done.  No longer were they confidently predicting that mining sales would start to come back by the end of 2016.  That might have been the most frightening part of the day.

This is the 3rd downturn that I have seen in my 8 year career with Caterpillar.  So far, I have made it through, and, of course, I pray that continues to be the case.  Yet, how can I pray that to keep my job when that means that someone else could lose theirs?  No, I think the best prayers are for global and political stability and a growing global GDP.  As corny as it sounds, if I had one wish it may just be world peace.

If nothing else, Caterpillar’s announcement further drives home the need to reach financial independence.  It is untenable to me to know that my employment status is beyond my control.  Although my performance reviews have been quite high and my performance valued, I could lose my job due to market pressures making my position obsolete.  I have no desire to quit working in the near term, but I do wish to ensure that my family is taken care of should I be  unable to maintain my current level of employment.  I think this is something with which most people can identify.