Change

People say the only constant in life is change. Change is normal. Accept it. Embrace it. It’s a cycle of life, but sometimes it knocks you off your feet and carries you into a life you would never have imagined for yourself. That is what happened to me. Now a little over three years after this change I speak of–I’m finally putting my fingers to the keypad and writing. Funny that I say ‘me’ like I was the only one involved in this big life change. In reality it was myself, my ex and our children–not to mention the family who supports us even to this day. This post is definitely long over due. I have wanted to begin writing again, but I’ve felt that my experiences were to painful for me to be able to share openly. I was only inspired to write this after I heard a commercial on the radio speaking about domestic violence month. Realizing that maybe writing this post could help someone else as much as it could help me is the reason I’m typing these words. I still can’t write the details publicly, but if you feel compelled to email me you are more than welcome to.

Three years and three months ago my family was residing in a disguised nightmare. Everything seemed ok. I tried to pretend that everything was ok, but in reality it was all falling apart. The only real peace I get from thinking back on it all is that Journey and Faith were seemingly unaffected by it all. They were fed, nurtured and thrived in a situation that wasn’t ideal. Not a fairy tale at all.

Three years and three months ago the girls and I flew back to Colorado in a flurry of tears, hugs, and heartbreak. I packed three suitcases; one big one full of clothes (for 2 weeks), one small one with some of the girls favorite toys, and one more with miscellaneous items. Without any identification except a black-eye, I boarded us on a Southwest flight back to my native state. Arriving was bitter-sweet. I was happy to be home, but the prideful side of me felt like a failure. Like a dog with its tail between its legs. I had left with so much potential–I was starting a family with a man I loved, we were living in a beautiful house, I was a stay-at-home Mom  enjoying the gorgeous California weather and then in a flash it was gone.

With the help of my best friend I made the decision to stay in Colorado and to not rush back into a life that was not there. I chose to do what was right for me. It’s still hard for me to do that because so much of my early twenties I spent thinking about what was right for everyone else. I pushed my wants and needs to the back burner. Now that I’m in the forefront life is much more confusing. What is it that I wanted? Love, family, stability, happiness? How can I get those things? Will they ever come? I still have trouble realizing that all of those things still have a place, but not in the mold that I have imagined. Coping with this change, I’m not the same young woman who began this blog with her best friend so many years ago. I look back at past posts and feel tears come to my eyes. I’m even more sad that I let this blog suffer in the process. Sharing my journey through motherhood was therapeutic, fun and the perfect way to chronicle the lives of my two daughters.

They are the real reason that I made the decision to leave and not go back. Rebuilding our lives here, alone, has been so very hard. We have had support from a variety of community resources, friends and family.  Unfortunately, we have experienced homelessness and have lived in a domestic violence shelter for two months and in transitional housing for 10 months until we were able to attain an apartment.

Transitioning from a stay-at-home mom to a single working mother has been hard. I have had to play double duty when it comes to household duties and raising the girls. I find myself becoming envious of mothers who can stay home with their children, but don’t want to. It is a dream to be able to spend time with your children. I’m at least lucky enough to work in the same school that the girls attend, but our nights are busy and I feel stretched thin at times. I worry that I’m not giving Journey and Faith all that I could. I feel guilty for wanting time for myself. I feel like a failure (again) for not being able to provide the family I envisioned for my children. They don’t deserve to live in a single parent home. They don’t deserve to only see their Dad 3 months out of the year.

What keeps me moving forward is knowing that they do deserve a healthy loving life.

I deserve a healthy loving life.

This is only the tip of the iceberg! I have so many more thoughts, but I will save them for another time (and this time I won’t wait three years to share them). I welcome comments and I look forward to putting the Mommy back in Mommy Lounge.

Shop on your seat and not your feet!

My new motto is “shop on my feet and not my seat!”It is almost impossible to get any shopping done in an actual store these days. My girl’s patience and attention span lasts about 15 minutes before all craziness breaks loose! Faith almost always wants me to hold her. If we even venture in Target then I know I am doomed to torture in the toy aisle and coerced into a few games of hide and seek. The only place I can spend over 30 minutes shopping at is the grocery store. That is because their tantrums and minds are too busy being occupied with stolen fruit, lollipops and half eaten bags of goldfish crackers.  I can’t possibly become a 15 minute speed shopper so I have done what any smart Mom would do. Adapt. I have become an online shopper!

I absolutely love online shopping!! Now that the holidays are getting closer –I will most likely do 80% of my holiday shopping online. Plus online shopping offers my three favorite words; faster, cheaper, and better! There are just too many perks to take advantage of…

(Source: Ezine Articles)

Instant Gratification

Since we’re conditioned to want instant gratification in every aspect in our lives, we expect our purchases instantly, too. Instead of spending time traveling, looking for parking and finding the store you’d like to shop in before closing time, the internet is available at all times. You can shop at your convenience, any time, anywhere, no matter what.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Online shopping allows you to browse through endless possibilities, and even offers merchandise that’s unavailable in stores. If you’re searching for a niche product that may not be distributed locally, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for on the internet. What’s even more useful is the ability to compare items, similar or not, online. You can search through multiple stores at the same time, comparing material quality, sizes and pricing simultaneously.

Moreover, the internet compiles results from thousands of resources, so you’re guaranteed a larger selection that’s more likely to have what you’re looking for. Consider what you pay for a shirt found only at your local mall. By searching for the same or similar shirt online, you may be able to purchase the shirt directly from its manufacturer or from an outlet-type store. The in-stock online sellers often have additional sizes, so you never have to scramble to find the last item in your size.

A Hassle-Free Experience

Shopping via the internet eliminates the need to sift through a store’s products with potential buys like pants, shirts, belts and shoes all slung over one arm. Online shopping also eliminates the catchy, yet irritating music, as well as the hundreds, if not thousands, of other like-minded individuals who seem to have decided to shop on the same day.

Customer Service, Guaranteed

Say ‘goodbye’ to the days when you stood in line waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more for a store clerk to finally check out your items. Online shopping transactions occur instantly-saving you time to get your other errands done! Additionally, unlike a store, online shopping has friendly customer service representatives available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you with locating, purchasing and shipping your merchandise.

Keeping Money in Your Pocket

Finding time to go shopping often requires cutting down in other areas of your life in order to get to the stores. And we all know that time equals money. With the rising costs of gas prices, it’s a no-brainer why online shopping is better. Not only do you have to pay for your items, you also have to pay to get there, twice. Your orders are shipped directly to your home or place for business, saving you time and money, without requiring you to leave your home. Many companies also offer great coupon codes too!

Recordkeeping and Deductions

As you may remember, I recently partnered up with Making Work at Home Work as a blogger.


Recordkeeping and Deductions
By Mary Byers
Author, Speaker Mary Byer’s created this program after the release of her book, Making Work at Home Work: Successfully growing a business and a family under one roof, to help other Work at Home Moms (WAHM) conquer some of the struggles that she herself has been through. Mary says, “I feel really privileged that I was able to write this book. I wrote it with Work at Home Moms in mind. There are so many unique challenges about working at home that only another work-at-homer can understand!” I would like to encourage you to explore their website for some great advice and some much-needed encouragement. If you would like to become a Making Work at Home Work blogger, go here.Mary Byers is the author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof. You can learn more about making work at home work by subscribing to Mary’s free blog at www.makingworkathomework.com.

The number one rule for moms who work at home is this: Do not mingle your personal and business finances. Open a separate checking account for your business. And, if necessary, secure a separate credit card so that you can keep your personal and business-related expenses separate. Deposit all of your income in the checking account. Pay all of your expenses out of the checking account. When you do, at the end of the year you’ll have an accurate record of income and expenses.

Check with your bank before your open your checking account. They may require proof that you’ve filed a “Doing Business As” form with your local or county government. Your banker may also be able to alert you to other regulations specific to your area.

I personally believe it’s essential to stay on top of your business’ finances on a monthly basis. Though it’s not my favorite chore, I use a simple software program to track income and spending. I can compare this year’s figures to last year’s to find out how I’m doing comparatively as well as monitor my year-to-date performance. There are many easy-to- use software programs on the market (such as Quicken and Quick Books) that make it possible for business owners to track and access their financial data.

In addition to inputting my financial data, I take time to organize my expense receipts each month. It takes less than a half hour to file them but doing so insure that my end-of-year tax preparation will run smoothly. Plus, I’ll have necessary proof if I’m ever audited.

Once your record keeping is in order, you should take the time to learn what’s allowable as an expense deduction for you as a self-employed individual. The more you deduct, the less your profit. The less your profit, the less you pay in taxes. The less you pay in taxes, the more you keep for yourself.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, “To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your field of business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate and helpful for your business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary.”

The challenge in determining what’s deductible is that it differs based on your occupation. Day care providers can write off the cost of toys they buy for their charges and a computer game designer can deduct the cost of purchasing competing games for review and critique.

If you’re interested in learning more about deductible expenses, consider picking up a copy of June’s Walker’s Self-Employed Tax Solutions. It’s an excellent resource, as is June’s website at www.junewalkeronline.com. Her blog is worth subscribing to if you’re interested in learning how to keep more of what you make.

Of course, if you’re uncertain as to whether something is deductible, check with your personal tax advisor. And if you don’t have one, get one. I personally waited too long to do this and wish I would have done it sooner.

Here’s how to make the most of your deductions:
Know what’s deductible. Take the time to learn what’s deductible. You may be surprised by what you can write off. For example, authors and playwrights may deduct the cost of the plays and movies they see if they are doing so to better learn the craft of plot, story and character. If you conduct business on the way to or from your family vacation, you may be able to write off a portion of your travel expenses.

If in doubt, ask. This is where a tax reference book or good accountant comes in. While it may be easier not to ask, doing so may well cost you money that would be better placed in your retirement account or a child’s college fund.

Realize that small deductions add up. My bank is 5.6 miles away. With the current IRS standard mileage deduction of 50.5 cents per mile, every trip to the bank for a business related transaction results in a deduction of $2.83 (50.5 cents x 5.6 miles). Last year alone my mileage deduction totaled $1,971. (I record each trip in a mileage log in order to provide documentation for the IRS.) Remember, deductions decrease taxable income, and lower taxable income means paying less tax.

Keep your receipts. Develop a simple record keeping system that’s easy to use. You’ll need to keep your records for seven years after the relevant tax return is filed. (Though the receipts only need to be kept temporarily, you should keep your tax returns forever.)

If you need help developing a working system, get it. Though recordkeeping and taxes can be both tedious and boring, they represent an area in which solo-preneurs can make a huge difference in the bottom line. You owe it to yourself and your family to excel in this area. If you’re intimidated or uncertain in this regard, make a commitment to learn what you need to know–starting today.


Planning and Budgeting a Family Summer Vacation

Planning and budgeting are definitely the keywords to having a successful family summer vacation. During times when money has been tight it can be hard to wrap my mind around actually being able to take a vacation. We are lucky enough to have family to visit that live a few steps away from the beach…and to actually live close to the beach ourselves.

Taking drives up the coast and stopping anywhere that we want to explore a new beach or just drive has been the closest thing to a vacation that we have had lately. Our last trip up the coast was to Santa Barbara which is one of the towns that Brett and I just adore! It is so beautiful and relaxing. Even if we don’t stay the night–a day trip is all the fix we need to make us feel like we “got away.”

I remember as a child we would take road trips to destinations thousands of miles away. We took a plane maybe once or twice–it was always by car. As a child I never thought about the planning and the saving that my parents had to do in order for us to have a great summer vacation.

Since budgeting and planning are both one of my weaknesses I decided to search for some ways to learn how to budget for a vacation (in case we get to take one!). What I found was an excellent article that covers everything you need to know about vacation budgeting. My family and I have sacrificed a lot and we deserve to take a vacation. Vacations are times to rejuvenate, relax and enjoy each other without the distractions of every day life.

It all starts with deciding what you really want and planning for savings…

What I really want is at least three days where my family and I can enjoy each other. My ideal vacation would be camping in a lodge near a lake. For my in-laws 40th anniversary we stayed at Cypress Springs Lake in Texas and I loved it! The planning part should be done at least 6-8 months in advance. We probable wouldn’t need to worry about plane tickets because we live driving distance away from national parks.

I found this helpful planning chart on a credit counseling site. It covers all the expenses of a great family vacation; transportation, lodging, food, and activities. This was a perfect find because I need things laid out in an orderly way.

The most important thing about taking a family vacation is not going into debt over it or slacking on other monetary responsibilities in order to travel. It was really interesting that I found this information on a credit counseling website because I have actually used credit counseling before, but never thought about using them for tips on planning a vacation. It makes sense though because when you are free of debt it makes it a whole lot easier to budget and plan with a clear mind.

Hopefully, my family and I will be able to take a vacation really soon. But for now we will just enjoy the amazingly free beaches that we are blessed to live near. Take our walks through the wildlife preserve and continue to take our drives up (or down) the coast.

I would love to hear some of the ways that you save money or plan for a family vacation that doesn’t “break the bank”!

Kalisha

In Memory of Sterling

Journey, Daddy, and Sterling

Journey, Daddy, and Sterling

April ’00-May ’09

Sterling Beck aka Bubba,Turtle, Love of our lives!…

Yesterday we sent our 10-year-old Great Dane, Sterling, to Doggy Heaven. We found out Easter weekend that he was in the late stages of stomach and liver cancer. The vet suggested that we put him down immediately and that he only had five days to live.

I began to explain to Journey and Faith that Sterling was very old and sick (he had become very skinny and would barely eat) and that we needed to help Sterling get to Doggy Heaven. Days after our talk I started to notice Journey and Faith giving Sterling extra hugs and attention. dsc08605

It has always been a rule that he wasn’t allowed in the playroom or the girl’s bedroom. Selfish on my part because I didn’t want to clean dog hair from two more rooms in the house. But towards the end there were times when he laid in their room and I didn’t stop him. I just wanted him to rest and be comfortable where ever he wanted. One day Journey came to me and said that Sterling’s feet were cold and she covered him up. When I saw this I was so touched!

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There were only two times when Sterling broke my “no-going-in-the-girl’s-room-rule”, when Journey was a baby and another time when Faith was born. He refused to leave and even growled at me, which he never done before. Each time there were reports of tremors and an earthquake on the news. We couldn’t believe it!

He was more than just a dog. He was my Brett’s life-saver. Our protector. Journey and Faith’s playmate and my teacher. Sterling showed so much patience, strength, understanding, and always showed unconditional love.

Sterling had always had a big appetite; even after wolfing down his dog food he would always sit and wait for someone to share their dinner with him. That was one of the first reasons we knew something was wrong because he just stopped eating as regularly, but whenever Journey had a cookie to share he wouldn’t turn it down.He always enjoyed cookies, doughnuts, popsicles, and his all time favorite was pizza crusts!

sterling-and-journeyHe was always admired everywhere he went, mostly being mistaken for a huge Dalmatian or a small pony. Sterling loved to play hide and seek, ran like a stallion, and was always gentle. He never picked a fight with other dogs, unless he felt they were a threat to us. He loved small dogs and children so much that I feel he never knew just how big he was.

Saying Good-bye to Sterling was hard. When Journey and Faith gave him hugs and kisses Brett saw that Sterling had begun to cry. It made him too emotional and he had to leave the room. I looked Sterling in the eye and told him that I always loved him, that he had a been an amazing dog and we would see him again someday.

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Our family will always miss Sterling, but we know he will always be in our hearts. The house feels really quiet now, even with two crazy girl’s running around. We miss the sound of his bark and the clickity-clack of his feet. We miss him, but I feel comforted knowing that his suffering is over. I imagine that Sterling is healthy, happy, and young again; running and chasing after frogs and squirrels in the creek where he grew up.

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We will always love you Sterling! This is for you…

We had pizza and it felt so weird to not have Sterling to give the crust to. :-(

We had pizza and it felt so weird to not have Sterling to give the crust to. 😦

Always in our hearts! Love, Kalisha, Brett, Journey and Faith

Help Save a Baby!

I want you to read about and participate in the “I Saved A Baby’s Skin Today” Skin Cancer Awareness Month Campaign! I am so excited for May to begin because my goal is wrangle all of the bloggers I know (and the one’s you know!) to make this a huge success for UV Skinz and all of the lucky babies out there who have the chance to receive a FREE Baby UV Swim Shirt!

Read on to find out the scoop!…

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, UV Skinz is promoting awareness of sun protection and skin cancer prevention by donating up to 3000 Baby Skinz swim shirts; UV Skinz will ship a free Baby Skinz swim shirt with every order placed in May.
“The intent is for customers to ‘pay it forward,’” says Rhonda Sparks. “We hope clients will donate the Baby Skinz to a charitable cause of their choice such as a women’s shelter, YMCA or even a neighbor in need. We want to get as many children covered as we can and with each donation, we hope to raise the level of awareness that much more.” Each May shipment will contain a free UV Baby Skinz along with a flyer encouraging customers to pass along the Baby Skinz to a chosen cause. UV Skinz was able to give away about 1,850 swim shirts for the May 2008 Skin Cancer Awareness promotion. The company’s goal this year is to nearly double that as supplies allow.
Babies under age six months should not be in the sun at all. Most pediatricians recommend no direct sunlight exposure for infants within the first few years. However, most infants older than six months regularly spend some time outdoors, even if just for walks in a stroller, and should be sun protected from head to toe. Protecting babies’ skin, regardless of the season, is essential to good skin health and safe sun exposure into adulthood.

The National Cancer Institute reports that many common cancer rates are falling, but melanoma rates within the U.S. continue to grow at an alarming rate. Sparks implores parents to cover their children to prevent them from becoming the one in five Americans who will develop skin cancer. “I am doing all that I can to protect my children from suffering the same fate their Father suffered when we lost him to melanoma. I hope our Baby Skinz donation program will prevent more families from being impacted by this devastating disease.”

An important part of skin cancer prevention is creating awareness. Creating awareness is all about saving our children’s lives in the future. Over 90% of skin cancers are preventable with the right education and awareness. We need you to help us spread the word about Skin Cancer Awareness Month and the “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today” UV Skinz blog campaign!

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As a blogger and an influential part of the blog o’ sphere…How can you help spread the word?

  • Blog about the “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today” campaign.You can see the full press release here. Feel free to include links to UV Skinz, the press release and/or UV Skinz blog! Remember the campaign starts May 1st.
  • Once you’ve posted come back to the UV Skinz blog and add your url link to our Mr. Linky–Let the blog o’sphere know you support Skin Cancer Awareness!
  • Add our button and/or banner to your blog! Let everyone know you support this campaign and encourage others to do the same!
  • Follow UV Skinz on Twitter and join in on the discussion by following the progress of “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today” campaign with twitter hashtag #UVSKINZ (Remember to use a “z” and not an “s”)
  • The official “I Saved a Baby’s Skin Today!” Post will be live May 1st!
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What can I do if I don’t have a blog?
  • Print out the official “I Saved A Baby’s Skin Today” Button and post it to your bulletin board at your home, home-office, or work.
  • Follow UV Skinz on Twitter!

So, what’s in it for you?!

Besides the warm feeling you get by helping to save a baby from potential skin cancer, UV Skinz is giving all bloggers a special discount code to use at our online store! At checkout enter the code: MOMBLOGS15 and  SAVE 15% through August 31, 2009 (as long as you are a participating blogger it doesn’t matter if you aren’t a Mom )

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Disturbing Satisfaction!

A special treat from Daddy…

dsc08624 The other day Brett brought a couple of those lollipops with the bug inside for Journey and Faith. Gross! I protested, but he said it was harmless and lucky for Journey she was awake when he brought them home. Faith wasn’t awake and doesn’t know she even got one of these nasty things! (BTW, nobody mention it!)

As you can see in the picture the sucker has a baby scorpion inside (minus the stinger)!

I let Journey have the rest of her lollipop while Faith was napping. She got some kind of disturbing satisfaction from trying to get me to take a lick, and then an even “bigger lick”  and  she basically tried to shove the lollipop down my throat! YUCK! It even has the nerve to taste like sweet strawberries too.

dsc08622Yes. That is the look of disturbing satisfaction. And the exact look she had when she ruthlessly forced the lollipop into my mouth!

Luckily, I wasn’t scarred by the incident, but I have this great black mail picture! HA! Mommy loves you, Journey!