Creating a food budget is not easy stuff

Trying to watch my youngest son play a Kinect game is frustrating as heck. He just wants to move around and bounce and completely does not understand the mechanics of the game at all. He doesn’t understand when I tell him he needs to move over, or to throw a ball with one hand and hit with the other. FRUSTRATION! And I’m not even the one playing the game with him!

Well, on to other news. The positive is that VIPKID approved my appeal and I can start teaching classes again. I still think I’m going to wait out the rest of the month and I think when I start again I’m only going to work Friday and Saturday nights. Those are China’s Saturday and Sunday mornings. I won’t be able to spend that time with Jesse and the boys, but it gives me all the rest of the week and I won’t have to get up early. It’s been so nice having evenings with Jesse after the boys are down for the night. We’ve been exercising and watching TV.

I looked around online and found a place for us to refi Jesse’s personal student loans and it’s almost a 2.5% drop in APR! I figure we can take that money and put it toward groceries and then any extra money I get throughout the month from online sales or notary services I can put toward paying down the credit card. What that means is *technically* I don’t have to work and we can still survive! Of course, I’d like to contribute financially as well, but we won’t go hungry if I have a short month. Huzzah!

I’ve been meal planning this past week and it’s been very successful. To date this week we’ve had steak and broccoli, taco salad, meatballs and spaghetti squash, and last night we had parmesan crusted tilapia, shrimp, and roasted cauliflower. Today was leftovers and tomorrow is brined baked chicken thighs and green beans.

With meal planning I can try to get the most out of the vegetables because I’m actually purchasing what I need for the week. I went shopping a couple days ago to purchase what I’d need for the week and it was $20 for the veggies. $20 for VEGETABLES! Eating healthy is expensive. Then again, it will last us the week so when you break it down per meal it’s probably not that bad.

We are lucky enough that we have a lot of different proteins in the freezer (and more coming that’s been pre-paid) that really it’s just fruits and veggies, and then the off type of thing like cheese or toilet paper. So in reality we could probably get by on under $100 a month for groceries. That is the plan, at least. I’ve never really had to budget for food before. It’s a new experience.

First post of the new year, 2018 edition

It has been a rough and busy couple of months, culminating into a hard last week of the year. As you know, I left eBay in September and was working a side job at VIPKID teaching English to Chinese kids. It was nice because I could work a couple hours in the mornings before the kids got up, but it SUCKED because I had to be up at 3am five days a week and I am a girl who loves her sleep.

The last week of December I was having a bunch of heartbeat irregularities. Enough that I had a doctor appointment to start the ball rolling to get an echo or angio to get to the root of the problem. I’ve had heartbeat weirdness since before college so the symptoms were nothing new but ever since I had cardiac arrest after Leo’s birth I’ve been more paranoid than ever.

At the appointment they did an EKG and everything looked fine, as it always does. She reviewed the echo from two years ago and my heart looked healthy at that time so it stood to reason that it was still healthy now…¬† We got the paperwork started for me to wear a Holter monitor for a month. It’s basically a small EKG that can be taken with you, small enough to fit in your pocket.

The holidays typically entice me to eat more poorly than usual and this year was no different. On December 26th I got up at 3am to teach classes and I felt ok. Not great, but ok. Around 5:30am I suddenly felt AWFUL. My heart was beating way off from the normal rhythm, blood rushed from my head and I felt like I was going to pass out. I called out to Jesse and told him I felt really wrong. I was totally freaked out. I had turned off my camera in the middle of a class and had Jesse close by while I finished it out.

I still didn’t feel right after that class and I was really freaking out so I decided to call an ambulance and have them come get me. During the ride over to the hospital they were like, your heart looks good, no issues here, BP looks good, too. I felt an episode coming on an alerted them and sure enough, the machine showed oddities. I felt scared but vindicated. They said I was throwing PVCs (premature¬†ventricular contractions) and that generally they were benign and just felt really scary. My BP also dropped a number of times during the ride over.

Once in the ER, though, everything stabilized and they let me go a few hours later. Mom and Jesse picked me up. I felt poorly the rest of the day but not nearly as bad as I had that morning.

Jim had just had a cardiac episode a few weeks earlier and has been dealing with heart issues for years, so we talked about supplements that could help, like magnesium, calcium, hawthorne berries, and bromelain. I started taking supplements that day (I had calcium and magnesium but had to buy the others). I also cut way back on sugar because for me carbs trigger heart palpitations, I already knew that. I also did some research and found carbs are a trigger for most people already prone to PVCs.

I had “no showed” to my last teaching class that morning and decided to cancel the rest of my scheduled classes. I just wanted to relax and focus on me. I decided to take off January from working. Getting up at 3am and going to bed by 9pm was causing its own kind of stress and I wanted to be stress free as much as possible. I got a notification from VIPKID that my contract was under review due to poor parent feedback (which is crap as I had a 4.95 rating out of 5) and cancellations. A few days later I got another email that my contract had been terminated. I have since sent an appeal. It’s not that I want to get up at 3am but I’d like to have the option, you know?

It’s been about a week of supplements and rest and I feel a million times better! I really do think the supplements have been the root benefit of helping. From what I’ve read, the body uses magnesium to help regulate the electrical impulses in the body and specifically to help regulate the heartbeat. It plays a part in breaking down sugars as well so the more sugar you intake the more magnesium is used up in that process and cannot be useful elsewhere.

I’ve decided to forgo the Holter monitor at this point. If PVCs truly are not life-threatening (and all signs point that is the case) and it seems like my symptoms are managed by diet and supplements, I should be fine.

I’m a little worried about how we’re going to supplement for that income I’ve lost, but we’ll manage somehow. I started a notary company Ultimate Notary Utah, LLC in October and I had three mortgage signings in December. If I can do at least six signings over the course of the month, we should be fine. So I guess I really just need to market the company this year. Wish me luck!

Not your typical 9-to-5

It’s been a little less than a month of no longer working for eBay. Some days it still feels like this is just a holiday and I’ve got to go back to work in a couple days. Another part of me is starting to feel like this is the new normal.

I get up at 4am every day to teach classes for VIPKID. I open my schedule from 5am through 8am but usually I just have classes that are booked from 5am-7am. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Classes are 25 mins each. The kids are pretty cute for the most part and eager to learn. Of course, I also get kids who clearly don’t want to be there. Or, I don’t know, maybe they had a hard day or are tired, but I don’t enjoy those kids nearly as much.

And really, I hate getting up that early. I felt like by not having a typical 9-5 job I’d have more time with Jesse and the boys, and I do get to be with Leo all day and Ez after school, but I generally go to bed right after we put the boys down, so around 8:30 or so. It doesn’t leave a lot of “us” time with Jesse.

I passed my notary exam and am in the process of getting that all sorted. I just heard back that they officially granted my commission so now I have to go get another paper notarized and then email that to a company to produce my stamp and then I can start notarizing things! I am also going to take a certified agent training course so I can branch out. Technically I don’t need further certification to do mortgage loan closings (in my state, other states are different about the rules) but I’d like to have more of a background before I jump in. I’m hoping I can start to make enough where I don’t need to do the online teaching. I don’t mind teaching the classes themselves, it’s just the early hours are killers to me! Theoretically if I could do 10 signings in one month that would be enough.

I’ve also looked into some things like photo site inspectors where you are literally contracted to just take photos of sites/locations and upload them back to the person who contracted you. Usually it’s for insurance stuff and sometimes it’s more involved but otherwise it could be somewhat lucrative for a little side work. Of course I’m driving around my van which is a gas hog. If I ever started getting full time with the mobile notary stuff I’d probably want to get a more fuel efficient car. I don’t know if that means I’d get a little Nissan Versa and Jesse would get a motorcycle to ride in the fair weather seasons or what. I will also probably need to invest in a better printer, as in a dual-tray laser printer that auto feeds from both a regular size and legal letter size tray.

I legally created my business name of Ultimate Notary Utah LLC and leased a couple domains. I am trying to figure out if it will be easier to just build a little website by hand or use a premade template. I’ve used premade in the past and the whole drag/drop thing is pretty easy but a notary website probably won’t have too much information on it so I may try my hand at designing the whole thing. We’ll see.

I was sick for a week when I had a cold and lost my voice. All in all it was fairly mild aside from losing my voice. Jesse came down with it next and it seems to have hit him fairly hard, poor guy. The kids are holding strong so far.

I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately. My no-knead bread turned out well and the molasses ginger cookies were amazeballs. The lemon bars were awful, simply awful. I don’t know if it’s how I made them (I did use lemon juice from a bottle that had been open for awhile) or the recipe itself. I made great lemon bars a few months ago but couldn’t recall which recipe I used. I made stellar cinnamon rolls, that recipe was a keeper. I made Jesse a lemon blueberry cake with lemon cream cheese frosting that turned out pretty well. It was a little dense and next time I will use fresh blueberries instead of frozen (or at least much fresher frozen berries) because there wasn’t much blueberry flavor. Currently I’m working on a sourdough bread. I’ve been nurturing the sourdough starter for over a week and this morning started the bread process. I’ll probably finish the bread either tonight or tomorrow morning. *fingers crossed*

We’ve been looking at puppies again. I know, I know. Some of them are so frickin’ cute and now would be an appropriate time to get one, what with me being home all day. I keep going back and forth. I am still working with Benny on things like walking nicely on a leash and the basics like sit and down. He knows sit and down but unless I have treats isn’t inclined to perform immediately. I started to use a front-clip harness that Dad and Dani gave us and it’s been working quite well for leash work.

I keep thinking of all these things I’d do differently with a puppy. Mainly leash skills early on as well as a lot of feet work. Trimming Benny’s nails is a nightmare. I’m retroactively working on his feet work. It’s a LONG process and nowhere near the finish line. He is really receptive to canned tuna (as opposed to regular training treats) and I hope that if I work on his feet often enough he will develop good feelings about it because it will remind him of eating tuna.

Ezra has recently discovered he likes canned tuna. He randomly asked for some as a snack the other night and proclaimed it was delicious! I always forget about the canned tuna and chicken we have. I have those pickled red onions that would be superb in a tuna salad. Must try that some time.



A lot can change in one month

I now work from home. Yes, you read that correctly. I no longer work for eBay. It feels totally great and unreal at that same time. I’d worked there for over eight years and even though it’s been three days I still feel like I’m going back to work tomorrow. I suspect it will take some time to get used to it.

That’s not to say I’m no longer working. I work part time for VIPkid where I teach English in the wee morning hours online to Chinese kids about to turn in for the night. It’s kind of brutal in that I have to get up 4am to be showered and ready for my 5am starting classes, but it means that I have the rest of the day to be home with the kiddos.

Leo no longer goes to daycare while we figure out what the finances look like over the course of a month. The tricky thing is, my income is not static. My pay depends on how many classes I book over the course of a month. So some months I might bring in $400, some may be over $1k. I would like to get regular students so I could depend on that income, but so far there haven’t been any repeats, just new kids. I am hoping that I will be able to bring in enough so that Leo can go to daycare at least two days a week. I think the social aspect was really beneficial to him for the few weeks that he went. And honestly it’d be great to have a couple days to myself where I could focus on other things, like writing, making soap, or shopping for things to resell.

I had been thinking awhile now of trying to find other work. I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing but the catalyst really was when Leo was sick for a couple days. I had to stay home with him and in our department there was only enough PTO assigned for 16 hours a week. On both days I was out I wasn’t able to schedule PTO early because one person on the team had scheduled 8 hours and one person had scheduled one hour! So even though there were seven hours available, I needed 8 and because there wasn’t “enough” time available, I had to take an occurrence for those days. At this time in life, Leo seems to get sick pretty often. I need the flexibility to be able to stay home with him (or Ezra) when he needs me.

Monday was my first official day not working at eBay. It was good timing, really, because Ezra had a fever that day and had to stay home from school.

I think I’m also going to look into becoming a notary. When we signed the papers for our house refinance, we were able to have a mobile notary come to us and she made it sound like she brought in a fair amount of income for limited work. Looking into it, it seems like it could also be a good fit for me. Wish me luck!