Wednesday, October 16, 2013

This Week in Homebuilding...

We're still firmly entrenched in "hurry up and wait" mode, but we can finally at least see the end of the...trench. I was going to say tunnel, but that is a mixed metaphor, which is apparently my thing. So we're ambling along down this...trench...looking for, um, the part where we the digging stopped and it slopes back up to ground level and I think that's the point where we're all moved into the house and settled.

We are nowhere near that. But we can make it out if we squint. Through our binoculars. Which are standard-issue in trenches, I think.


This week I began emailing the contractors on our mediumlist so I can whittle it down into a shortlist. People in trenches love whittling. It passes the time. I've heard back from several who were able to eliminate themselves because they don't build in the areas we're looking at, or they only do $350,000+ homes, which is NOT us. There have also been a few that do fit our needs, at least on the surface, and have made it to the shortlist.

On a whim, I also Googled "be your own contractor". *snort* Nahgunna happen.

It's tedious. It brings about more questions that I didn't think of. I'm terrified that the budget we have carefully settled on is going to be inadequate and we won't be able to build next year, or ever. I'm overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices we will be faced with, the headache of making sure everything is right, the worry that stuff isn't being done as well as we were told it would be or with the materials we expected and I won't know the difference until my house starts hemorrhaging energy or my roof need replaced in five years. I'm having daymares about being in this tiny, claustrophobia-inducing, project-riddled house for another five years. I'm scared we'll give up and end up settling for just building in a development on a half acre, or giving up on building all together because it's so incredibly overwhelming.

This process is terrifying.

But it's progress. It's a step toward our dream and I'm trying to enjoy it, even though it's stressful. We're hoping to begin actually talking to builders in person in February, though I am making no guarantees. Right now I wish I could just get my mind off of it. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Things I Do Not Care For: Homeschool Edition

I really like homeschooling. I do. It's an entire lifestyle, a community, and I'm glad every day that we have chosen it.

However. Like all communities, it comes with its rude neighbors, shady businesses, and dogs barking way into the night. Let's talk about some of those things in the homeschool community.

Things I Do Not Care For: Homeschool Edition

Dads as "principals"

Oh, HELL, naw. Nothing. NOTHING. NOTHING sends me fleeing from a blog or website faster than seeing a homeschool mom refer to her husband as The Principal. I absolutely hate this. I mean, okay, I can laugh when she makes a tongue-in-cheek reference to sleeping with the principal, because that's kind of funny when the dad has only been cast as the principal for the purpose of the joke.

But this is not so in many homeschool families. I believe every family is different and blah blah blah. But damn, I find this so demeaning. It's sexist and it diminishes the role of the mother to subordinate rather than equal partner. Sure, I do most of the formal "teaching" in our house, but Husband and I make many of the administrative decisions together, and the rest mostly actually fall to me because I am the one in those homeschool trenches every day.

Husband certainly imparts his skills and knowledge to our kids whenever he can, too. But like I said, we are equal partners in this house, and while I consciously try not to judge other people's family setups, this husband/principal crap really pisses in my proverbial Cheerios.

The labeling wars

I have never seen more, abbreviated labels in my life. Everyone's super-special kid has twelve disorders coupled with seventeen various gifted labels. It is not uncommon to see a homeschool parent talk about their "DS, 12, PKD/ESPN/ADHD/OPP/ICP/TTYL/LYLAS with giftedness in LMNOP/G6/PBS" or some shit.

I'm not saying all the various disorders and learning abilities/disabilities don't exist. I'm also not saying that these kids don't have these various things. What I am saying is that it kills me to see how snippy moms can get, trying to outdo each other with the labels. There is legitimate competition to see whose kid is a more delicate (but also more brilliant!) flower. I roll my eyes daily. It goes well beyond discussion about special needs or learning and devolves right into competition/virtual hair flipping, and it's maddening.

The over-achieving, hyper-stressed Mom

You know her. She is on that committee. She can organize and supply that bakesale. She knows all those people who are Very Important. She is pretty in a whimsical, thrown-together-but-somehow-still-cute way. And oh, yeah—she's a huge, snippy, passive-aggressive bitch.

I thought I left her behind when we left the public school, but I was wrong. She is alive in the homeschool community and she is THRIVING. She plans all the outings and activities and co-ops and answers every question in a clipped, bothered tone on any and all of the fifteen online groups/boards she runs. She rolls her eyes and rushes around, screaming about how busy she is and that's why she has NO TIME for your shenanigans, yet she cannot stop her compulsive need to volunteer for every, tiny thing that crops up.

The thing about her is, she is actually not a bitch at heart. She is also not like the Annoyingly Perfect Mom because she is not chipper or perfectly put together. She is stressed and grumpy because she cannot say no, because she is a perfectionist to a fault, and because she genuinely wants to be more helpful than humanly possible.

So yeah. She drives me insane, but she's also misunderstood. It's due to her own actions, yeah, but still. You know if you need anything, OAHSM will jump over a semi truck to help you. She'll be frazzled and irritable and brash, but she will help. So while she is one of the most maddening, confusing, illogical people you've ever met, you know she means well and you simply thank her while biting your tongue and then shaking your head in private. She's a mess, but she's good people. And aren't most of us?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Frugal Halloween? Maybe?

Remember when Husband and I did the No Spend Challenge back in June? And remember how we spent? Okay, not much. We actually did REALLY well, I think. But here we are, settled in to a new school year, our vacation and most of the birthdays we celebrate behind us, and a brand new home on the horizon. So we've decided that it's time for another No Spend Month.

This time we're going to take it on in October. It won't be easy, since our anniversary and Halloween are in October, we are attending a wedding, and we have a family tradition of visiting a pumpkin patch. So what we've decided to do is budget a certain amount for each of those things and stick to it. Halloween candy is insanely expensive, so I gave myself a $20 budget and bought as much decent candy as possible at Kroger and I am going to worry less about making sure I have enough for every kid who might knock. Once it's gone, I'll turn out the lights and be done with it. Sorry, latecomers.

We're also doing a zero-budget costume challenge. Bug is going to wear a hand-me-down costume from a friend. Bear will have to create her costume out of things we either already have, or that she can borrow. It's going to require some creativity, but I think that's a GOOD thing. She is going to be a Minecraft Endergirl, so it's a fairly simple costume, anyway. Purple hair, black and purple clothes. Easy stuff.


Before we begun, I tallied up all of the "extra" spending we did in July, August, and September and came up with an average per-paycheck total. That amount will go towards our ALMOST PAID OFF credit card balance and our down payment savings fund during each of the three pay periods we have this month. I was both excited and nervous to see the number, but I think it was good to be faced with it. It's so easy to justify all those little purchases, but it can very easily get out of hand. And at this point I'd much rather sink that cash into a beautiful piece of land than an over-priced, calorie-laden cup of coffee.

Are you ready for this? I was not. We're spending about $250 per pay period (that's every two weeks) on "extras". YIKES. That's going out to eat, random little Amazon and Ebay purchases, alcohol, Starbucks, etc. So roughly $500 PER MONTH. That is sobering. But on the upside, that's $750 we'll be putting toward more useful things this month (three pay checks!), and we can use this buffer month to discuss a better way to budget for fun extras without spending thoughtlessly.

If you haven't done it before, consider logging into your online banking account and tallying up all the extraneous spending. We don't use our credit cards at this point, so I didn't have to take those into account, but if you do, make sure to include those purchases in your tally. It's a painful reality, but a good one to face.