Eriana has been asking for siblings lately. It’s really been getting to me. I think it’s getting to me because I don’t want to be done having kids. But I think we are. So when Eriana says thing like, “When I get bigger I will have a baby brother” while telling me about the new baby brother of one of her classmates, I feel sad, and guilty, and incomplete.
So as with all of my big life problems, I took to Twitter for advice. Here’s the gist of what I learned:
- The majority of only children loved being only children.
- Only children reported good relationships with their parents.
- Only children reported understanding from a young age understanding that they get more (both attention and material items) as a result of being an only.
- Most parents of only children went through the phase where their kids asked for siblings, but the kids grew out of it.
- My friends who are only children are kind, compassionate, friendly, unspoiled, and well-adjusted, and most have good relationships with their parents (which, of course, is not to say that adults with siblings don’t have good relationships with their parents. Let’s not get over-sensitive here).
- Adult only children largely longed for siblings when something big happened, such as a loss in the family, a big move, etc.
- Only children who longed for siblings during rough times would not use that ~1% of longing as a basis to choose whether they, as parents, have more than one child.
- Several of my only children friends opted to have only children because they loved it so much.
Things I knew already, but it was nice to have reiterated:
- Eriana’s longing for a sibling can go in a pro column if we need a pro column, but should not be the whole pro column, as she is a child and doesn’t get to make those decisions.
- Just having a sibling does not mean that your child will get along with that sibling, and have the relationship you hope they will.
- Having just one child does not harm your child in any way, shape, or form.
- It’s a lot more likely that Eriana will have her college paid for if we don’t have any more kids (and with the ridiculous number I’m looking at paying back in student loans, that’s something I really want to give to her).
- It’s a lot easier to travel with just one kid.
Things that make me sad:
- If something happens to Jim and/or me later in life Eriana won’t have a sibling to help shoulder the burden.
- Eriana will never have a sibling who is also her best friend.
- Eriana will have to find people outside of the family (like her therapist and friends) to complain to about her crazy parents instead of people who understand from experience.
Even though Eriana is the one that brought up this topic (her and that jackass kid at school who talks about his new baby brother all the time), I think the realization that we are probably never going to be able to afford to adopt, and that we are truly never going to try again to have a biological child is hitting me harder than I thought it would. I mean, I’m SUPER happy with my family, and I love my child more than life itself. She will always be more than enough for me. It’s just really hard to reconcile that I don’t get to have two babies like I thought I would. So. Unless someone pays for an adoption in full, like, now, it would seem that we’re done.
Were you okay being done when you were done? How did you reconcile any lingering feelings or guilt? Did your kid(s) ever ask for more babies?
Guys. The Internet is so cool. I’m sure, if you’re reading this blog, you understand that, but think about it.
Where are you? I’m in my living room, outside of Portland, OR. You’re not here, reading over my shoulder (are you? That would be creepy), but you can read the words I’ve written. Immediately after I publish them.
Today I worked on some spreadsheets for tax stuff and shared the document with Jim. He can open that document on any of his devices.
I sent messages, tweeted at people, and posted pictures, and you guys could see them! Right away!
I paid bills, viewed documents, saved stuff to my computer to use later, and sent emails.
I have been using the Internet for… a long time. Since before I could use it at home and had to go to the library to check email. So about 15 years? Almost half my life? But today it was like a REVELATION of how amazing the Internet is.
Of course, I told Jim of my revelation, and he just looked at me like, “Yes. And?” He said, “That’s why I do what I do.” Whatever, Geek.
Coolest thing that happened today from the Internet? I took Sakana to the airport to fly to Colorado where my friend Kate, someone I knew in high school and reconnected with on, you guessed it, the Internet, was going to pick her up and welcome her into her own family.
Picture from @katewelsh’s Instagram.
Y’all, what a blessing.
Man, I love the Internet.
What’s the coolest thing that happened on your Internet today?
M asked on Twitter yesterday:
“What is a “normal” weekly grocery budget (and for how many people)?”
We have gone back and forth on our budget for weekly and regular expenses. It took a (very) long while to formulate a good plan and budget. But I’m pretty set these days, and I thought I’d share it here. I’m sure you’ll skip this post if you aren’t interested.
Our weekly grocery/household items budget is ~$150, which is $600 per month. This includes:
- food for six meals (that will include leftovers for lunch)
- snacks for adults
- toddler snacks
- alcohol for the week
- dog food, cat food, cat litter
- toiletries, makeup
- cleaning supplies
We have a separate budget for eating out, which we do minimally, but regularly.
To some of you this budget may seem high, and to some of you it may seem low. It’s what works for us. We spend a significant amount on food, but we eat good food. We eat healthy, I make most things myself (rarely frozen or canned), and I cook at least six nights per week. We eat leftovers, we rarely throw out food. Once we have a larger apartment we will have room for our deep freeze, and I’m super looking forward to being able to double or triple meals for freezing. I know I will be able to cut back a bit by buying some in bulk.
An example of a regular meal:
Cheeseburger Salad! (The brown stuff on top is a homemade dressing.) Recipe derived from Home Sweet Sarah‘s Instagram account, a.k.a. where I get many new meal ideas.
Example of a weekly menu:
- Emily’s Taquitos with black beans
- Sweet-Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
- Warm Asparagus, Gorgonzola & Steak Salad over Spinach
- Pioneer Woman’s Sloppy Joes with sweet potato fries
- Korean Beef Bowls
- Naan Pizza and Buffalo Chicken Thighs (every Friday since Eriana started asking for pizza every night)
- Dinner Out
I plan meals every Sunday afternoon, and plan our grocery list against ingredients needed for meals, plus extra stuff we need or like to keep on hand (example: snacks for Eriana, cheese snacks to keep at work for if Jim and I get hungry so we don’t buy lots of food, coffee, etc.).
After I have a plan I go grocery shopping. Usually I go to Target first, because sometimes the meats I need have random $1 or $3 off coupons on weekends, then I go to Trader Joe’s. Anything I can’t get at those two places I head to Fred Meyer (a super store not unlike a Super Walmart or Super Target in that you can buy anything there) later in the week.
I post my meals on a special Google calendar to share with friends and glean ideas. I usually cook one new meal a week, two if I’m feeling adventurous. I get my new meal ideas from my friends’ calendars, Pinterest, and Instagram. Lucky for me a lot of my friends also love food, so they post pictures of meals a lot.
That’s… about it. Sorry I suck at being brief.
How do you plan your meals? Do you have a strict budget, or are you pretty lenient?
When we moved here from Oklahoma we talked to no less than eight apartment complexes, trying to find somewhere we could live with all four of our pets. We found one. The one in which we currently reside, obviously. We went from a 4br house in about 1750 sq ft and a yard in which to turn out dogs, to about 980 sq ft and 2br, with no option of turning out crazy dogs. (Two bedrooms isn’t necessarily the issue, although we’d definitely like to have more space and not have to have half of our stuff in a storage unit, plus some room for guests to stay.) It’s really cramped here, y’all. In addition, it’s way out in the ‘burbs, and we want to be closer to the city, and it’s also kind of, um, ghetto here. So we’ve been hoping to move, but after looking for more space in our price range, we came to the terrible realization that we would not be able to keep all four of our pets.
We LOVE our pets. All of them. We brought Sakana back with us from Japan. Rubeus worked as a therapy animal when we were reeling and healing. Raisele is ridiculous but we love her anyway, and the way she and Eriana love each other is something fierce and beautiful to watch. And Zaya, well, she completed our furry family.
So we had to make the hardest decision ever, and figure out whether to move to a place where our family would be happier, or stay in a crappy apartment with our whole family intact. Ultimately, making sure the humans are happy won out. Our next task was to figure out who to rehome. Eriana loves all of our pets, but has a super close connection to the dogs. Plus the dogs love her, whereas the cats are just tolerant of her. So dogs won out. The apartment complex where we hope to move only allows 2 pets. That meant rehoming both cats.
We were lucky enough to find a home for Zaya right away. Jim’s sister and her boyfriend live outside of Detroit and had been hoping to get a second cat. Last Friday I dropped Zaya off with American Airlines cargo and she jetted off to live with R & J in Michigan.
It’s proving a harder task to find a home for Sakana. My dad said he would take her, but we aren’t sure how his little dog will react to it, and if it doesn’t go well we don’t know what would happen. It’s probably okay that it’s taking awhile to find a home for her. I managed to not cry when it came to Zaya (although narrowly), but Sakana has been mine for more than six years.
So what I’m saying is that it has been a super hard choice to have to make, and we are not taking it lightly. I love our pets so very much, you guys. I love them. But… ultimately making the humans happy is more important to us than staying in a place where we aren’t happy with the size, location, and safety afforded us just so we can keep our pets, especially when we are able to find good homes for our highly adaptable cats.
Not that (m)any of you are judging us, but y’all, I just feel like I had to explain that it has been super difficult.
Related: if anyone in the PDX/SEA-TAC areas or surrounding by a few hours wants a cat or knows someone who wants a cat, we have a lovely and wonderful one who needs a good home. I’m happy to give you details and pictures via email (tara AT ourlittlegeekling.com), or just comment here and I’ll reply via email (providing, of course, that you submit your email address when you comment).
A few days ago Jennie asked on Twitter:
If you could choose to do anything for a living, what would you do?
— Jennie Canzoneri (@shelikespurple) February 1, 2014
And I answered: College professor or corporate trainer.
I’m still unsure if I’d like to go back to school for my PhD. If I do that, I’m determined to be a college professor. If I want to stay in the private sector, though, and my already RIDICULOUS student loans have me leaning that direction, I am thinking corporate training and development is what I’d like to do. I never thought about that as a career, until I was job searching and asked a lovely friend with an HR background for help with my resume and job search. She mentioned she thought I’d be great at that, and it hit me that I might.
Shortly after that I went to a meeting for the local chapter of ATSD, and talked to people who work in training and development at a number of companies around here. One guy said that a good way to get into training and development is to work in a call center. Lucky me, the first job I got offered was in just that. So now, a month into my job, I’m hopeful that someday I can reach my (newish) goals. It’s not exactly International Relations or Library and Information Studies, but it is a way to utilize the people skills my degree in IR helped me to develop, and for me to be organized and work with people in a helpful way, as was my goal with working in LIS. Plus I would get to teach and train people, so it’s sort of along the lines of teaching adults in higher ed. But they might pay more attention since they’ll be getting paid to be there. Also, I always really liked writing continuity and training stuff in my past jobs. Sometimes I did it for fun!
Anyway, we’ll see what happens. At this point I need to work at my job for a while, network appropriately, prove myself a good worker to those managers and other higher-ups who are interested in that sort of thing, and then look to the future.
I like my job just fine, but I am not interested in it being my job forever. To each their own, right? It may be just the job someone wants long-term, but that someone isn’t me. I’m interested in reaching my goals. I’m interested in contributing more to my family financially than my current position will allow me to. I’m interested in utilizing my education in my career. I’m interested in having a career, and I don’t think my current job is my long-term career.
Angling for a career as a cute professional puzzle-putter-together.
What are your hopes and dreams?
So now that we have two incomes, it’s time to buckle down on our finances. Here’s our (loose) plan:
- Snowball our debts, excepting our house in Oklahoma and our student loans (for now). We have a plan now, and our debt has an end in sight. We will put more focus on student loans and the house (if still owned) when the other debts are paid.
- Save a specified amount of money each month.
- Save weekly into a special account for gift-giving, travel, special costs, etc., graduating the number each week (like this, except we increased the numbers a bit this year).
- Stick to our budget. We made a budget that outlines most of our finances, but still gives us a little wiggle room in case we have emergencies.
- Our primary concerns are concerning unnecessary spending, such as too much dining out, too much Starbucks, too many daily t-shirts, too much on-sale jewelry, etc.
It won’t be easy, for sure, but I know we can do it. We have before!
Of course, getting Eriana into a good private school that won’t make us go broke will be quite difficult. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there (which, HA, will be sooner than we think, since she only has three years left at Montessori!). The hope is that by then I’ll be making a bigger salary and we’ll be able to handle it. Because, Y’ALL. Private school is expensive.
Almost one year old, playing with Jim’s wallet.
And here’s a more recent one, just because she’s cute. Out for brunch with Daddy last weekend while I worked. Spending money on Daddy dates.
(What a way to make a living!)
I got a job.
(Did I not tell you that? Oh, sorry. Whatevs. I got a job. At Jim’s company, actually. But we don’t work together. He’s up on the third floor with the fancy people.) (He hates that joke.)
So I’m working for a logistics company. I just started my third week. I am working in the call center, which is, basically, a lot of talking to people on the phone. I call companies and talk to their employees, ask for information, collect information, and then my company monitors it. It’s fine. I’m learning a lot. I’m getting some good information about the business world. I’m learning how to communicate effectively with adults again. I’m getting over my phone phobia in an instant immersion-type of way.
Plus at least once a day I get to see my sweet husband and usually I get to give him a hug or a kiss or both. (Lucky for me we only have one key to my car and one car seat.)
Right now my schedule is fairly normal-business-hours, and it’s worked out that Jim takes Eriana to school, and I pick her up. I joined a gym and I’ve been able to workout before work, so it’s been good! The future plan is for me work SUPER early, and then workout after work, and then pick Eriana up at a more reasonable hour. (I say reasonable, but really she’s fine. She’s at school for less than eight hours per day, and the limit is nine at her school. Plus it’s not too bad for a kid with two working parents. I know a lot of kids are at school for an entire workday because their parents’ schedules aren’t flexible. Jim’s is super flexible: as long as he gets his work done and works reasonably close to 40 hours per week (usually it’s many more than that), he can come and go when he needs to, or even work from home. Since I won’t have vacation/sick time for a little while and things are a little more structured in a call center environment, it’s nice that Jim’s schedule can be flexible when mine can’t, in case our kid needs to stay home or something.)
My coworkers are nice, and my team leads/managers are really helpful and kind. My schedule is super structured, and that’s taking more time that I thought it would to get used to, but seeing as how I haven’t worked in an office for about 2.5 years, and I was a SAHM and/or grad student during that time which doesn’t take any clocking in or out and allows for going to the bathroom, getting coffee, or tweeting whenever I feel like it, it’s really no surprise that it’s taking some getting used to.
But! It’s a job.
Things I learned when job hunting:
- It sucks.
- You have to know someone.
- Some money is better than no money, so don’t worry about your price so much, especially if you’re not coming in with a lot of experience.
- Education doesn’t count as experience, even if it should.
- It’s hard to find a job in your field, and it makes for a really narrow scope.
- Business casual means very different things from employer to employer.
- Tattoos aren’t a problem in Portland. At all.
- Working with your husband can be fun (although I wouldn’t want to work *with* him, because I have a feeling he’s a hardass as a boss).
- Keep an open mind.
Soon I’ll write a post about how exhausting it is to be a working mom. But I’m too tired right now.
Smile really pretty for me. (That’s her tongue on her top teeth, she doesn’t have enormous gums.)
Here’s a link to all of my books for this year! I made it to (and then I passed) my goal!
(Since I write these from the bottom up they may not make sense if I read several books in a series or reference something later in a review. Perhaps I should switch them around? Let me know if this bugs you?)
I finished my reading goal! Last quarter. I had some real duds in 2013, but I’m glad I was able to make it to my goal among everything else that happened (grad school, cross country move, toddler, etc.).
67. Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles #1) by Colin Meloy. This book was lovely. And the artwork was incredible. The story takes place in the woods outside of Portland, which is super near where we live. A beautiful book. A YA book, though, so a series I’ll probably wait to finish until Eriana is bigger and we can read it together.
66. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. I read this for a book club I was in, and I liked it! Good imagination. ZOMBIES. I liked the mix of government, military, civilian, and people from all over the world.
64. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R. R. Martin. I won this book in a giveaway from Ginger, and it was SO good, y’all. SO GOOD. I was thrilled and enthralled. It was hard to keep every character straight, but I got it by the end. I’ll be excited to read more in the series.
63. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. I wanted SO MUCH to love this book. I liked it okay, but I didn’t love it. Lauren Graham (a.k.a. Lorelai Gilmore/Sarah Braverman, in case you aren’t sure of her *real* name) said on her Nerdist podcast that she had sold it as a series on the CW network, and I do love me some teen tv shows, so I’ll be excited to see that. The book was alright, y’all. The editing was spotty, and the story was a little iffy, but it was okay.
62. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Rainbow Rowell is so great. I still want her to be my best friend. This book was lovely. Just lovely. Fangirl is still my favorite of hers, but this book really hit me in a good place.
61. Lost and Found by Chris van Hakes. Oh, guys. OH GUYS. My excellent and awesome friend wrote this book. MY FRIEND WROTE A BOOK. And it’s GRRRREEEEAT. Like Tony the Tiger great. Go buy it. Support her. Read it.
59. Stargirl #1 by Jerry Spinelli. This book was recommended by a friend and I’m SO glad she told me about it. So great. I listened to the audio book, which was read by John Ritter (sad), but it was a great great book about love and identity. I’m not sure if I’ll read the rest of the series right away, but it’s a good series to add to my queue.
58. The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time by Jeff Deck and Benjamin D. Herson. This book. It’s hilariously awesome. Every grammar-nerd’s dream come true. A little slow at times, but it’s also a story about true life and that lags sometimes.
So last year I didn’t actually complete all of my goals. That’s okay! They’re goals, not musts. I’d still like to do better in 2014!
This year I want to:
- Read 75 books
- Find a church
- Run a half marathon
- Fulfill our realistic financial goals for the year (it’s good to be realistic)
- Go away for a weekend with Jim
- Spend a family weekend in Seattle or Vancouver
- Go to The Blathering
- Work out at least half of each month
- Do well at my job
- Find a new, hopefully slightly larger, home in the fall (probably – sooner if we can’t extend our lease)
- Make the most of my time with my favorite weirdos
2013! Let’s recap this bi…zness!(As always, shamelessly copied from Linda at All & Sundry. Though this year I went back to the beginning to capture all of the questions that have fallen off over the years.)
1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Moved to Oregon. Listed a house. Became a landlord.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Some of them! Some were based on the idea that we would still be in Oklahoma, and moving changed a lot! I did: read 50+ books; got Jim a really fun present for his 30th, but we didn’t do anything for his birthday; I finished my (second) graduate degree!; Eriana started at Montessori; spent most weekends with my family, doing fun things together; ate more real foods and less crap; potty trained Eriana; went to The Blathering; worked out fairly regularly, most months; spent a LOT of time with my loves.
I did not: read my Bible more; apply/get into a doctoral program – decided to pursue other things for awhile; run a half marathon; pay off our credit card debt or Jim’s student loans; go on family vacation for our 10th anniversary (we had just moved!).
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Some LOVELY friends in Oklahoma had beautiful babies while we were still living there, including one of my favorite friends, who I’ve known since first grade. Some other Okie ladies were pregnant when we left and have since had babies, and several online friends had babies. But no one who I know here has had any. Although one of my local friends is pregnant! Looking forward to squeezing a sweet baby next summer!
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thank the heavens.
5. What countries did you visit?
South Carolina? No, none. No countries other than the one of which I’m a citizen. I only travelled to Oregon and back to Oklahoma, to Washington a few times from Oregon, and to North/South Carolina this year.
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
A waist sans muffin top.
7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 29 – the day we moved to Oregon. July 26 – our 10th wedding anniversary.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Not completely losing my mind during our move (although it was close).
9. What was your biggest failure?
Not keeping up with working out as well as I’d hoped.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
11. What was the best thing you bought?
My iPhone, I think. I love it.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Jim’s. That man deserves sainthood.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
People who called themselves Christians but made it EXTREMELY difficult for people to believe in God by the hypocrisy, anger, fearmongering, and lies they spread about the love of Christ, the bible, and the world.
14. Where did most of your money go?
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Moving to Oregon. Eriana being so awesome. Getting to be married to Jim day after day.
16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Hm. The cups song from Pitch Perfect? Man, that song was overdone, huh? Just let Anna Kendrick do her thing, y’all!
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier.
b) thinner or fatter? Fatter.
c) richer or poorer? Poorer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Christmas was at home with my loves. And it rocked my socks off.
21. Did you fall in love in 2013?
With Oregon, yes. Gosh, I love it here.
22. How many one-night stands?
Let’s see… carry the two, multiply by… 3… zero.
23. What was your favorite TV program?
Toss up here. I watched and loved Charmed and of COURSE I adored Doctor Who, and how can you leave out the end of The Office, or the amazingness of Parks and Rec? There was a lot of good this year.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t think so? Not directly? I hate a lot of things that happened, and the way people caused them, but not people. There’s no sense in that.
25. What was the best book you read?
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Good LORD. Loved it.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Podcasts? Not music. But I discovered how awesome podcasts are.
27. What did you want and get?
Out of Oklahoma.
28. What did you want and not get?
A buyer for our house in Oklahoma.
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Pitch Perfect. I know it was a 2012 movie, but I didn’t see it till 2013, and I loved it.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 31! Jim baked me a cake and I spent the evening with my loves.
31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Mom grad student. (Comfy, presentable for going out in public but still a little messy.)
33. What kept you sane?
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Hmmmm. Chris Hardwick? Maybe not in a crush-type fancy, though. I did a lot of googling of him after listening to so many Nerdist podcasts.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Same-sex marriage. Women’s rights. Equal for those.
36. Who did you miss?
Some members of my family. My Oklahoma friends.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
Lindsay! (I already “knew” Rhiannon and HJ before I moved to Oregon, or there would be a three-way tie.) I am so damn thankful to have met Lindsay and Neil. Eriana plays well with their daughter, Jim and Neil talk about geek stuff and beer, and Lindsay is just a great person and friend. I’m so looking forward to getting to know them even more!
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
Home is where the heart is. (SHUT UP I KNOW IT’S CHEESY.) Seriously. We’ve had to make a lot of adjustments moving here, both financially and at home and with our time, but it’s all been worth it. Oregon is where we are at home. And you know that cheesy country song “Love Grows Best in Little Houses”? It’s kinda true. (At least for people. Our animals drive me BATTY in such a small house.) I love Jim and Eriana more than ever.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“We had a great day! It was a super way to spend some time together!”
Fresh Beat Band’s “Great Day”! Shut it. It’s a good lyric. And a good message.
Previous years’ questionnaires: