Friday, January 31, 2014

Down With AT&T


My title might be a little heavy-handed, but hear me out.  I've been with AT&T for my cell service since before I had a rhyming name.  Before kids.  Back when it was Cell One and then Cingular and now AT&T.  Last Monday we changed carriers.  It felt a little like I was making the decision to leave an unhealthy relationship.  There was some guilt and nostalgia but mostly relief.

Our lives have changed.  We are about to embark on a new era with 4 mobile phones all requiring unlimited voice / text and some data.  We all need smart phones.  Before judging us for being spoiling suburbanites, let me clarify our reasoning:

Our kids have a walk to the middle school that is about 3/4 of a mile each way.  I believe that it helps clear their head, build relationships, foster independence, and instill healthy habits to walk everyday.  I only drive them when the windchill is below zero, every once in awhile when we are running a bit late in the morning, or if I need to leave the house at the same time as them.  With that said, I feel more comfortable if my kids have a phone with them for the walk.  It allows them to check in and see if they can go to a friend's house rather than straight home.  It gives them an option if there is an emergency or if they are feeling unsafe/sick. 

When my son graduated 5th grade, we got him a $10 a month non-smart flip phone.  The kid never had it with him.  He would forget or it would be lost in a couch cushion or uncharged. Finally, at the end of 6th grade, my husband and I reassessed the situation.  We decided to buy him his first smart phone and pay the monthly fee under these conditions:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Android Mom


Some of you are going to gasp, feel betrayed, and possibly call me a traitor (others will be agnostic about my decision and some may even support it) but I am prepared and braced for the scrutiny.  Recently, there has been a lot of hard decision making (including piles of research and spreadsheets) resulting in challenging life changes.  We added a Sam's Club membership to our Costco lifestyle. I'm no longer driving my dear Odyssey but a Mazda 5 (mostly a financial decision because our minivan suffered an untimely departure and all we can afford is a mini mini van), and now I gave my beloved iPhone to my daughter and became an Android Mom (my husband says that there is a joke in there somewhere but I don't get it and I am quite sure that I don't want to).

I've had an iPhone for years.  If I were to guess, I would say at least 7.  My sister got one and then I kinda wanted one too and then after I got it, I was totally hooked.  I felt like I had the world at my finger tips.  My own personal Inspector Gadget.  I talked countless friends and family members into getting an iPhone (regretfully sometimes even shaming or scoffing them into it) and we would all laugh and talk about our apps.  Siri was my friend.

You can easily research elsewhere about the concrete differences between the smart phones:  Battery life, megapixels, size, weight.  What I am going to give you is the mom perspective.  A very Non-Technical Review:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

39

Yesterday I turned 39.  I've rarely had an issue with age or growing older.  Most years, I truly feel like it was better and more fulfilling than the last.  24 was a little rough.  I was out of college but still didn't know what direction I was going.  I had youthful dreams that needed to die but they didn't go down without one heck of a fight.  The first couple of times one truly faces reality is rough (and often heartbreaking). I'm not melancholy about 39, but the closing of a decade is certainly a time to re-prioritize.  I've never been the kind of person who is okay with just surviving.  If I find myself in that situation, were I am merely treading water and not actively becoming a better person, a more loving wife, a stronger parent, a greater influence for good, I start to feel trapped and caged and impotent.  

Over these past couple of years, what it means to have a fulfilling life has changed and grown and developed.  For so long, it was just generically "happiness" but I'm realizing that happiness is really just the bi-product of a truly fulfilling life.  Happiness isn't about circumstances, it is a constant choice, a lovely result, but not the core.  I've come to realize that a clean house makes me happy.  That said, it is the hard work and the diligence to become master over consumerism that really makes me happy; the external ramification being a clean house.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Air-Duct Cleaning

Yesterday the arteries of our home were cleaned out, and I mean really cleaned out; like basically an angioplasty of our air-ducts.

Recently, we got a new furnace.  The previous furnace was so old that my husband was quite confident that if we opened up the avocado green casing we would discover two cave men rubbing sticks together.  It was helicopter loud, smelled nasty, and very very un-efficient (I realize it should be inefficient, but in this case I want to make it clear that this is actually the exact opposite of efficiency).  We nursed this poor furnace for years and then one Friday in January, I came home from work, the kids were doing their homework; I said, "OMG!  Aren't you guys freezing!?  What is with the heat?!  Did you leave a door open?!"  Being that they are my kids (read earlier blog about them never being cold), they said they didn't notice.  It wasn't even 55 in the house.  Our faithful little cavemen had officially quit for good.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Credit Karma: a Review

I'm no Dave Ramsey, but I will admit, I kinda like paying bills.  Now this "like", is akin to taking out the garbage or organizing the garage or gardening or perfectly folded laundry or house cleaning or meal planning.  I don't relish paying bills like reading a book on the back patio with a summer breeze on my face and a cool drink in my hand, but I do love the results:  a balanced spreadsheet and a solid but realistic financial budget.  I like the harmony that only comes from reconciled living within our means and still being simply, comfortably, and peacefully happy (if I'm honest, probably even happier than if we had unlimited funds).

Please don't get the wrong idea, we aren't the greatest with money ever: