Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Savvy Shopping

Give me a few days off from my routine, the opportunity to do nothing, and I'll absolutely take advantage of it. Just getting back into the groove again.
We had a lovely Thanksgiving with my family down at my sister's house. Hope you all did, too!

My big news: at last, I have an iPhone! My work allowed me to upgrade from a Blackberry to an iPhone, and I spent a lot of the holiday weekend playing. One of the first apps I downloaded: Savvy. Particularly at this time of year, this app will come in handy.

Basically, this free app can save you money in 3 different ways:
  1. My Buys. Scan a pic of the bar code of your purchase from a participating store.  If the item goes on sale within that store's stated time frame, you'll receive an alert from Savvy with instructions on how to redeem the difference.
  2. Deal Maker. Scan a pic of the bar code of an item you want, but not at that price, and tell Savvy how much you're willing to pay. If the item goes on sale for that price, Savvy will alert you.
  3. Watch List. Scan a pic of the bar code of an item you want, but not at that price. Savvy will tell you if it goes on sale at all. 
 Currently, there are about 40 stores participating, and of course, Savvy hopes to keep that list growing.

And now, disclosure time: Savvy fed me brunch and gave me cash to try out the Savvy app. (At the time, I didn't have an iPhone, and they were kind enough to allow us to extend an invite to a non-blogger friend, who was also impressed with the app.) Oh, and they gave me a Savvy iPhone cover, which I am totally using! I have not received further compensation, and all opinions are my own.

And the best news? You don't actually need an iPhone or Droid (Droid app coming soon) in order to take advantage of what Savvy has to offer. You can also manually enter the bar code at the Savvy website. 

Please keep in mind, Savvy is still in Beta, so you may encounter a few glitches here and there, but I'm sure those savvy (and sweet) folks will work any issues out promptly.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day

This song, particularly this version starring the fabulous Donna McKechnie, always makes me and the girls smile.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm Both Involved and a Slacker

Twice in two days, I was complimented by people on my successful efforts to get the girls admitted in their current schools. Just a few days later, I felt like a total slacker mom.

Riley informed me she had to do a project. Just the word alone makes me cringe and groan. She had to make an Egyptian pyramid. Oh, joy.

I know some parents love these kinds of things. I'm totally not one of them.

With Sylvia, it was easier. She's got that artistic ability to make something out of nothing. Riley, on the other hand, wants everything just so, and cannot think of worthy alternatives if/when things don't work out that way.

And as I wrote that, it occurred to me how odd this is. Riley is such a great problem solver in every other area. She's also a great student. I guess she inherited my "hate school projects" gene.

Eventually, and admittedly after much attitude on my part, Riley was able to finish her project, both without my having to shop for supplies, and without my having to help.

I have also been a slacker mom when it comes to parent meetings at Sylvia's school. Like I haven't been to anything. I totally would've gone to Back to School Night, had I not had tech rehearsal that night. I've been available time-wise to attend everything else...and haven't.

In my mind, I spend 3 hours on the road in my commitment to my daughters' education. In my mind, as it is, we're not going to get home until close to 7 and we have to eat, and there's still homework to do, and what are the girls going to do while I'm at the meeting. In my mind, the time I could spend at a parents meeting is time I could actually spend with both my daughters, and I choose my daughters.

While I was involved on the PTA board at Riley's old school, and on the parent committee of their after-school program last year, neither of those commitments felt as much like sacrifice. I'm quite certain that was because our weekdays weren't as long as they are now.

I realize my slack may color some people's perceptions of me as a mother, including their teachers. But I'm okay with that. Well, not okay necessarily, but I don't seem to care enough to change it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Surviving Tween/Teen Daughter Tantrums

A couple of years ago, when Sylvia was 12, sucked. Her mood swings were completely unpredictable and she was far too big for time-outs. I've never considered myself a patient person, and I was fairly convinced that I'd used it all up to survive her toddler years. I was at a loss.

I wrote a desperate email to sweatpantsmom, begging for survival tips. If you've read her posts (or lucky enough to know her, as I am), you won't be surprised that her response was thoughtful, funny and chock-full of empathy for my situation. Just the validation was helpful.

She mentioned something about finding her "Zen," her peaceful place in those moments where your hormonal daughter is pushing all of your buttons.

My previous methods for finding my Zen place during Sylvia's toddler years were no longer effective. Consequences weren't working, even trying to lock myself in the bathroom wasn't working. I would try so very hard not to respond, but she could see that she was close to breaking me and sometimes, she did.

After the email exchange, I felt rejuvenated enough to try something new.

The next time Sylvia got out of control, instead of trying to order her to her room or leave the room myself, I would think of something that needs to be done in the room. (And hey, something always needs to be done.) I would wash the dishes, sort the mail, dust, anything that was an accomplishment of sorts that didn't require thought.

That productive act would allow me to be distracted and also feel okay about myself. Sylvia would continue to taunt me for a while, but when she could see she was no longer getting to me, in frustration, she would go to her room. After she'd calmed down, she would come back and apologize to me, and it would be over.

I've never known telling someone to "calm down" to be effective in actually calming anyone. Telling Sylvia to calm down didn't help; telling myself to calm down wouldn't help. I think the reason this method works for me is that it's not trying to dissipate that energy, but instead, use that energy proactively. And no matter how small, it's hard to feel angry or frustrated when you've just accomplished something!

To be clear, Sylvia is not a horrible child by any means. With a little distance, I knew that she was just overwhelmed. It was partly hormonal, but mostly, just being a 7th grader - the worst grade we've had so far. And part of the gig is that she knows she can pretty much do anything, and I'll still love her. I've created that safe haven for her, sometimes to my own detriment. Still, that's who I am as a parent.

I remember being on the other side, too. I remember feeling like things that seem trivial now did indeed feel like the end of the world back then. As I said in my post to my mom, I took full advantage of her unconditional love as well.

This is just what it means to parent a tween/teen daughter. (I can't speak for the other gender.)

I was talking to a friend of mind about this tactic, and it occurred to me, I don't think I wrote about this back then. As Riley will be 12 and in 7th grade next year, I could use the reminder!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Giving Up

The girls started a conversation in the car the other day about their dad. It started with Riley asking how I told them we were getting a divorce. Somehow, that morphed into a talk about how they're dealing with things today.

Riley started by saying she hated her dad, but I told her, she really doesn't. She's angry at him, and rightly so, but she doesn't hate him. She clarified that she has moments that she hates him. She said she hates it when he breaks his promises. Fair enough.

Sylvia said what she really hates is when people tell her she can't give up on him. We talked about how they just don't get it. That even if she tries to explain it to them, they will never fully understand what it's been like and how many times he's disappointed her. That for her, giving up is actually a huge step in the right direction. She's protecting herself from further disappointment by not setting herself up for it.

This is not to say that she wouldn't be happy for him if he did change his life around. But we talked about how he would need to prove it first, that words just aren't enough. And how she can't count on it, because all the evidence so far has shown that he can't.

I know most people wouldn't quite understand giving up on a parent, but at some point, we all face that our parents are just people. They see me as just a person. They recognize that while they've lost a dad growing up, I lost a partner and a co-parent. When they talk about how much they've been hurt by him, they know I get it because I was, too. Part of humanizing parents is recognizing our weaknesses, our mistakes. They've had to endure all his mistakes, and it's easier for them to do so when they see him as just a person.

We even talked about the fact that he's not evil or anything. He just can't quite do it, he just can't be a grown-up that lives up to his responsibilities. I can totally understand Sylvia's frustration at those who tell her not to give up, when giving up is the only way we can really cope with it.

We played a little of the "what if" game. If he did turn his life around, they would love it. If he could be a real parent, they would embrace that. But, they also said, he could never make up for the time he's lost. He would still never know them the way that he could have had he been around the last few years. I told them, that's his loss. But I know it's theirs, too.

I can't change any of it and of course, it hurts to know how much they've hurt. But I also can't help but feel so proud of them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekend Reading

I finally posted somewhere else! At MomsLA, my post is on the lack of control we have as parents.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Smart Financial Tips

Okay, so stupid vs smart isn't necessarily the most accurate way to describe them, but it keeps it simple at least.

And I'm sorry that I don't remember exactly where I read/heard what, but at least the advice stuck!

The Budget is not set in stone. Actually, I think I heard this in another area entirely. I remember hearing the U.S. Constitution described as a living, breathing document, but somehow, I also took it to heart in terms of my budgeting. I'm always taking line items off my spreadsheet, adding new ones, messing with the numbers. For instance, I thought with the increase in our commute, I would be spending $40 a week on gas when I'd previously been spending $40 every two weeks. Well, the reality of it is I'm spending about $80 a week on gas. This is not an area where I can presently cut back; it is what it is. Other numbers have to change, and my budget now accurately reflects that.

Using the Triangle. Again, I didn't first learn this as financial advice, but I remember learning about the Triangle, where you can have two of the following: cost, time, or quality, but you cannot have all three. I think about that in terms of spending. It may be cheaper to buy produce at a Farmer's Market, but the hours don't generally mesh with my schedule. An item could be on sale, but is it worth it even then? For each line item in my budget, I try to assess its true worth beyond the dollar amount.

Splurge sensibly. I splurge on little things, like buying songs we want on iTunes, and going to lunch with friends. Anything over $20, however, takes a lot more consideration. As Suze recommends, I try to look into the future and determine if I'll regret it. Like this laptop on which I'm currently writing this post. True, I could've used that $$ towards paying down credit card debt, but I have not regretted this purchase. It's come in very handy for keeping the family peace. Over this past year, even this past week, there have been dozens of things I've considered, but haven't purchased. I don't regret those decisions, either. I generally don't actually spend the money the first time I've thought about it, but go back to it 3 or 4 times before hitting that "add to cart" button.

Shop online. You always get the benefit of the time factor, so the only things left are quality and cost. There's no pressure of salespeople or signs dramatizing the urgency of the discount. You don't have to settle, but can keep looking for exactly what you want. You can bookmark it and come back later if it doesn't fit in your budget right now. Even if that sales price goes away, you can look for the item on other sites for that price when you're ready to buy. And hey, if it ends up being a purchase you regret, it's so much easier to just fill out the return info and ship it back then find the time to go wait in a customer service line. (And the receipt is always easier for me to locate in my email than in my purse.)

First retirement, then your children's future. Since I basically started over 8 years ago, the very basics of Maslow's chart needed to be met first. After we were settled, it was time to start thinking about the future. I, of course, started hyperventilating at the thought of paying for college. But I've been told by colleagues and experts that it's like the airlines tell you: first, put the mask on yourself, and then the children. So right now, I'm maxing my 401k, trying to build savings and decrease debt before I can think about what I can do for them. While of course we hope for scholarships, realistically what will most likely happen is that they'll take out some student loans, and I'll subsidize their living costs.

People first, then money, then things. No secret where I got this Suze Orman mantra. I've covered "People first" into the ground already. While I may not have the latest tech gadgets, my bills are always paid on time. It's kind of like another way of saying, it's all about balance.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Faking It

When author Martha Beck is Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic, she is a full-time graduate student at Harvard. She talks about the persona, Fang, she developed in order to feel like she "fit in."

It reminded me of a conversation I had with my AP English teacher my senior year.

I had been in Honors or Advanced classes for nearly everything (except Math) from junior high, but I still didn't think of myself as smart. I may have made it into these classes, but I always assumed that I was the stupidest person in the room. (Is stupidest a real word? See, a smart person would know that already!)

As we got closer to the AP test date, I started to get really nervous that this would be the day that I was found out.

I went to my teacher to see if she thought maybe I should skip it altogether. I tried to explain to her that I didn't really belong in this class, and I didn't want my bad score to poorly reflect on her.

She said to me, "but you're here. You're in this class. Of course you belong here; otherwise, you wouldn't be here."

It was one of those light bulb moments for me. It had never occurred to me before that it wasn't by accident that I ended up in this class.

I passed the AP test. I didn't get the highest score in the class, but I passed. Turns out, I hadn't been faking it all those years after all.

I ran into her at a reunion some...years later. I told her how much that conversation meant to me, and thanked her for it. Turns out the conversation had stuck with her, too, and she said she repeated it often to students when they too were doubting themselves.

I told my parents about that conversation. My dad told me, "everybody feels that way." That, too, was a revelation. Was it possible that I wasn't the only one who wondered if I belonged there?

Beck has a similar moment in the book, so I am confident that it's not just me and my dad!

This post was inspired by the book Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic, which I received for free as a contributor to From Left to Write. I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions expressed are completely my own...but others might feel the same way! Since Amazon un-fired me as an associate (it's a California thing, not a personal thing), if you buy the book using this link, it will generate a small referral fee for me. Very small.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Beautiful Mom

I can never apologize enough to you for all the things I didn't appreciate when I was growing up. I never understood, of course, until becoming a mother myself.

I can never thank you enough for all the support you've given me my entire life. You always allowed me to pursue my dreams, regardless of what it cost you.

I can't take back the times when I screwed up and hurt you, whether directly or indirectly. I can see now you were only looking out for me. I can see now that you were usually right when you thought I was making a mistake. I can't take them back; I can only say that I did learn from them.

I can't take any of it back, but I also know that no matter what, you were always there for me and you always will be. Thank you for teaching me about unconditional love by giving it.

Happy birthday, Mom. I love you forever.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stupid Financial Tips

Quick budgeting update: I shared in my Shine article on budgeting that I always round up to the nearest dollar what I spend. This really really helps when you've hit financial lows because then when you balance it against what the bank/credit union says you have (keeping in mind, of course, any outstanding payments that haven't been deducted yet), you just might find you have more than you think! I needed to use this, and found almost $200! Woo hoo!!

I realize this still doesn't make me an expert, but there is some so-called expert advice I've read (often more than once) that I could do with never reading again:

Skip the morning latte. I already do, thanks. Yes, I love Starbucks, but I'm rarely actually there. I make my coffee at home. And if I do go to Starbucks, I buy a grande drip which, with my reusable cup that I have with me at all times, costs me less than $2. Leave me and my coffee alone. It is not a budget-breaker.

Do your own mani/pedi. The last time I had a mani/pedi was 5 years ago and it was a birthday gift from a friend.

Bring your lunch from home. Okay, first of all, stop assuming that those of us looking for financial advice are stupid. Do you think this is a new concept that no one has ever thought of before?!? Most people that are willing to do this already are. And those of us that aren't? There are a variety of reasons. For some of us (like single, working moms), this is an excellent way to hang out with friends that doesn't involve hiring a babysitter. For others, it's an opportunity to network. For the record, I do go home for lunch a couple of times a week, sometimes I go for very inexpensive lunches, and yes, sometimes they're not so cheap. But this one is not so much a budget-breaker for me as an area for cutting back if/when the budget has gone topsy-turvy. But mostly, what bothers me about this particular piece of advice is the complete lack of originality.

"Never" or "always" anything. From "never pay full price for anything" to "always pay your credit card balance in full," the idea of always or never is usually not very realistic, and sets us up to think of ourselves as failures if/when the time comes that we break a so-called cardinal rule. To make it worse, we usually break these rules when something bad has happened; health issues, a lay-off or pay cut, divorce, car problems, etc. Financial advice should contain some room for the unexpected...and usually un-welcome stuff of life.

Cut back on _____. Whether it's cable, eating out or whatever the author found particularly useful for them does not make it necessarily so for the reader. Again, it's the assumption that we're stupid; that we haven't actually looked at where our money is going. We also each have our own priorities. We either already canceled HBO or we feel the cost is worth it. What I found to be much more useful was looking at my actual spending every week, every month, and finding which items I resented. Then, it became easier to cut back in areas that I personally felt were wasteful.

And thus begins a more positive look on what financial advice was actually helpful. More to come...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Education and Everything Else

Having said that, education can't be the number one priority all the time.

There are times when I've been the polar opposite of a Tiger Mom, and have let it slide when the girls don't get their homework done.

On Back to School Night (which also happened to be her birthday), Riley still had one assignment to complete, but I let her go to bed anyway. I thought about what would most likely happen if I tried to push her to finish it. She was already cranky and tired; it would've just been a battle and in that state, she can't do her best work. Sure enough, she figured out when to get it done the next day, when she was refreshed and alert, and it all worked out just fine.

I've also stopped being the homework enforcer almost entirely with Sylvia. While I still make sure she has quiet space and limit other distractions, unless she asks for my help, I don't get involved much more than that. I know that there have been times where she's turned in homework late, and the natural consequences of a lower grade are enough. These are not my grades, after all, but hers. She's in high school now, and her education is her responsibility.

In addition to education, it's almost my job to prepare them for the rest of their lives. We talk about money often, and they're welcome to look at my budget spreadsheets anytime. (So far, only Riley has taken advantage of that.) I've told Sylvia that watching every episode of Suze Orman her senior year will be a requirement. (That's not to say that Suze's a god or anything, but her program offers a variety of topics that can be used as a starting point for more in-depth financial discussions.)

It's also a family effort to balance school and work with everything else in our daily lives. They recognize as much as I do when our schedule has gotten out of control, and share in my goal of attempting to keep Sundays drive-free days. They have a few household duties, and little by little, we add more. Getting together with family and friends is also a priority. Of course, there are always movies or events we miss, but we talk about why it was probably best that we did.

Riley in particular talks about which things are "more important." Sometimes, we disagree. They know I'll usually hear them out, but they also know that I always maintain my veto power.

Education is important. But it isn't everything.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On Education Today...and Tomorrow

There are times when I'm sick and tired of making the girls' education the priority. I see the state of the job situation, I see the high cost of student loans with no guaranty, and sometimes I have to ask myself, why am I pushing this so hard? Just like I don't believe that the old American dream that being married with 2.5 children and living in a mortgaged home is the way to go for everybody, why is it so important for me that my daughters go to college?

I had a great email exchange with someone that reminded me that the state of the world today isn't necessarily how it will be 10 years from now. I heard about the bill Obama's introducing regarding student loan debt. I'm not necessarily convinced that will solve anything (nor that it will even pass), but it reminded me that indeed, things can and will change. Not necessarily for the better, but there's nothing more inevitable than change.

I also remembered something else. School is the hardest thing I've ever done. It was also the most fun I ever had, and the most accomplished I ever felt.

In school, expectations are clear, deadlines are set, and for the most part, you get back almost exactly what you put into it. Some teachers may be tougher than others, but once you have a grade, that's it; you're done. And at the end of it, you get a pretty diploma to frame.

At work, if there's a change in regime, there will most likely be a change in policy or process...usually, without any prior notice. At work, deadlines change constantly. You could work tirelessly on a project only to have it completely scrapped and all that work was for nothing. You could have a great day at work, but then screw up the very next day, and feel like there's more time and attention to everything you did wrong, and no time and attention to everything you got right. You're reviewed on an annual basis, but you know that all anyone remembers is what you did the week you got reviewed. There is no end, or at least, you hope there's no end!

The diploma, the report cards, aren't the end-all, be-all, but they are much more than that to me now. They remind me of my AP English teacher, who convinced me that I actually did belong in an AP class. They remind me of that great Communications class where we talked through how our weaknesses were our strengths overused. They remind me of that silly poem I wrote to represent what I'd learned in Listening & Lit. The friends I had, the laughter we shared, and that one time that my friend and I cried over how grateful we were to our parents who had sacrificed so much for us. And yes, the times I didn't do so well, which I can now acknowledge were entirely my fault. (I mean, come on, I skipped Biology almost once a week! Was I really going to get better than a C in that class?)

The expectations may have been clear, but that doesn't mean school was easy. Preparing for tests wasn't always fun, writing the papers didn't always come easily, and staying alert during the lectures could sometimes be the hardest part. I'd get nervous every time a test grade or paper was about to be passed out.

Work, for all its problems, is easy, comparatively. Very few of us are actually curing cancer or working as rocket scientists and for most of us, the hardest part is enduring the monotony of it! Another day, another dollar, we say. Another day, another agreement. It looks almost exactly like the one I did yesterday except it's not so I have to go through this one just like I went through the last one. And will have to go through the next one. I actually love my job, and feel like it does at least challenge and engage me, but it's not particularly hard. There are fewer opportunities in any job to try completely new things like one does in school.

I value my education not just for what I learned, or even for what it allowed me to accomplish. I value the educational process, and want my girls to value it as well. Because they will miss it. Even if they're not always so sure about that. So yes, in this regard, I will continue to believe that their education should remain a priority for all of us. They may not ever thank me, but they will look back on these days fondly.

P.S. (because I'm big on P.S.ing posts these days), there will be a Part 2 to this post. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stuff I Don't Miss

So both of my girls added another number to their ages in the past week. If I were a better mom, I suppose I'd be crying about how they're growing up too fast. But I'm not. Instead, I'm counting the things I don't miss about having babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, or elementary schoolers anymore:

  • Halloween parades, Holiday pageants, etc. Part of this is purely practical. I don't have to worry about taking time off work to attend these events, I was always bored more often at these events than entertained (because of course, all I really cared about was when my kid(s) walked or performed), and I don't have to worry about buying/making party favors/foods for such events. 
  • No longer needing a stroller/baby seat/car seat. When we went to Disneyland, I updated my FB status that I so don't miss trying to wheel a stroller through the throngs anymore. I also don't miss heaving the baby seat from the car to the grocery cart, or checking a car seat on airplanes. I still hold my girls' hands when we cross a street, or even a driveway, but it's nice not to be wishing for extra limbs anymore.
  • Grocery shopping with the under 10 set. One of the first blogs I ever read was the e-Bay listing from the mom who was selling trading cards that her child added to the conveyer belt without her knowledge. While I only have 2 to her 6, I could still relate all too well! I totally celebrated whenever the opportunity arose that I could shop without my "helpers." What's interesting is, I actually like to have them with me again. It's nice talking to them, and it's nice that they're actually of the age where they can help when I remember while checking out that I forgot the pesto sauce and they can go grab it for me!
  • Trying to throw unforgettable, but fairly cheap and easy, birthday parties. Again, making me a Scrooge for bday celebrations, I used to do the trips to Disneyland plus the birthday party plus the birthday meal. Too, too much. 
  • Playing the Tooth Fairy and Santa. I still do to a certain extent, but if I forget to place the money under the pillow, I can just hand it to Riley the next day. I still put From Santa on one major gift to each and fill up the stocking, but I was never crazy about fictional characters getting all the credit, anyway. I like getting the hugs and thank yous, thankyouverymuch. 
  • The Tantrums. Oh, the tantrums. And Sylvia (sorry, hon) was a champion tantrum-thrower. And it's all my fault, really. I was also famous for my tantrums as a child. Well, Mom, I have been sufficiently paid back, and now we just wait and see if/when Sylvia will get her due! 
  • Being able to watch non-family programming. I like being able to watch the news in the morning without worrying what little ears might hear. For one thing, I like to see what time it really is (because I set all the clocks about 9 minutes ahead) and also, just in case something major happened. I also like that the girls and I can enjoy some of the same programming on prime time. And they might not love (or get) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart quite as much as I do, but hey, they can always leave the room.
  • The Noise. Our house is usually peaceful these days. Without the tantrums, with separate rooms and separate space, our house isn't nearly as chaotic as it used to be. We may crank up the music sometimes, but our usual form of communication is at acceptable decibels again. We actually talk. We laugh a lot, but they can also appreciate that sometimes, Mommy wants to be alone for a while. I can tell them, "I'm writing" and they don't freak out. During homework time, I read. It's all very civilized. 
Oh, I'm sure the time will come where I'm weepy and miss the chaos, the noise, but for now, I appreciate my girls for exactly who they are today. Not entirely grown up yet, but not entirely needy (and noisy) anymore, either. 

P.S. How could I forget this one great perk? Sylvia's finally tall enough to reach into the top-loading clothes washer in our apartment building! Help with the laundry is a fabulous thing!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Budgeting Update: People First

As if it wasn't enough that I spent $1200 on car repairs, that expenditure took place just a couple of paychecks from the girls' birthdays. Oh, did I mention it was also right around my sister's birthday, my nephew's birthday and my mother's birthday? There were also Halloween costumes to buy, and birthday meals.

Before anyone mentions that it's not the price tag of the present counts, believe me, that was completely taken into consideration. Sales, discounts, points to cash in, I kept the costs down as low as I possibly could. I skimped in other areas, of course, and still came up short. (Not every budgeting update can be a success story!)

There was this moment where I was thinking about it, okay, stressing about it, and understood Suze Orman's phrase, "people first" on another level. These are my people. These people are my everything. I've been okay with it ever since.

Of course, I'm still trying to cut corners and make up the difference as best as I can, but I'm not beating myself up over it. The resources are finite and can only be stretched so far, but I will always put my people first.