If I had a Million Dollars .... it still wouldn''t be enough!

A million dollars sounds like so much money, especially to my kids, but in reality if I won a million dollars it wouldn't be a win fall. My kids brought up the "if I won a million dollars" fantasy the other day and I started to think, what if I won a million dollars?

Once I paid off my house, set aside some money for the kids education, and took a family vacation there wouldn't be anything left.

That is just depressing. So if I won a million dollars I'd move to Mexico or the Caribbean and live off the cash.... financial planning be damned. When I started working in the financial planning industry in 1995 a million dollar retirement savings plan provided a decent retirement. Not today though, today you're house better be paid off before you retire, you need at least a million and have a couple rental properties or a small business to bring in cash too.

I have a few more decades before I need to think about retirement, by then how much money will be enough to retire in comfort? If I had a million dollars.... I'd be comfortable but not rich.

Recurring Nightmare ... Missing Daughter

I keep having a nightmare that my daughter is missing. I felt the absolute grief and emptiness while I searched for her. Every time I pictured her face I'd lose all sanity and an intense emptiness would envelope me, all I wanted was my baby girl. A little girl I'll never see again, even awake, because like every parent, I've lost my baby to time.

She is older and wants more freedom, freedom to walk to a friends house, freedom to ride her bike in the cul de sac out front, walk with her older brother to school. I utilize a walkie talkie to ensure I am with her at all times but even this isn't enough to quench my fears. When she walks to a friends house, all of a block away, I talk with her. I ask her if she sees strangers, I ask her if there are any cars, I ask her to describe either if she sees them. I instruct her to look around and identify any dangers she can and then help her steer clear of them. The great thing about the walkie talkie is that the volume on her end is so loud that everyone can hear what I'm saying to her. A stranger that is being described to someone may feel a little weird, but at least I know the description of the person she just passed.

When kids are small we keep a tight leash on them but as they grow the leash gets tight and they need more length or it will eventually break. Thanks to technology it easier to keep the leash tight but give it more slack at the same time.

My parents think I'm nuts sometimes, giving my kids technology that they deem as unnecessary, that is until they see the advantages. First it was the DVD player in the car.... why in the world would my kids need to watch tv in the car.... Oh I don't know maybe because I would drive 6 hours plus to visit them with the kids on my own. It's a lot safer to drive when they aren't bugging the hell out of you.

The next unnecessary item for my kids... a cell phone. At the moment the walkie talkies work because I am always in range. However, when I go back to work that won't always be the case and I can talk to them as they go to childcare facilities or if I'm running a little late and they have to go home on their own. (My son is babysitting age).

I'll never get my baby girl back. I miss constant cuddles, hugs, and kisses but I am enjoying the new relationship that is building between my daughter and myself. I know that the nightmares aren't real but I still wake up in a sweat longing for my baby.

Renovation Frustration - Storage Needed!

I have this space in my dining room, most homes built in the 80's and 90's do, I want to convert the spot for a buffet into storage space. The issue - my tight budget... I have no money, being unemployed kinda has that effect on a wallet. It's frustrating because the cost of built ins is so high, I'm probably looking at a couple thousand dollars just for the supplies.

The other frustrating part is figuring out what I want in this space. Do I want it to be complete storage or do I want countertop space or should it be bookshelves with doors? Are there bookcases that are 2 feet deep? Can I get away with white MDF or should I look for paintable shelving or prestained? Does MDF come in espresso or black brown?

I guess I'll have to go hang out at Home Depot or Rona to figure it out, another day shot.

Once its done it'll be great because I can start unpacking all my crafts and books but until then it's frustrating to live with an idea that I won't see finished for a long time. I've never been the most patient of people.

The Emerson GM522 Karaoke Machine - Reviewed

I am getting really fed up with the lack of quality in products we've purchased lately. So I thought hey I'm gonna write about the ones that suck and the ones that rock -- this way you can hopefully put your money to better use then we did.

The first item up is the Karaoke machine I bought my daughter for Christmas on ebay. I usually don't buy stuff online because it costs way more by the time you pay for shipping and customs but I wanted the latest Karaoke machine and I couldn't get it at the local Toys R Us here in Canada. I didn't pay full price but I didn't pay much less either, I was short on time and didn't need the extra hassles of waiting out bids that end up near the price anyway. By the time it went through customs and was delivered I had to add another 50% of the cost to the machine. Turns out the ebay seller just drop ships it from Kmart.... lesson one, drive across the border its cheaper.

The first issue ... the microphone that comes with it doesn't work very well.... you have to almost swallow it for your voice to come through. We had a professional quality mic already so I didn't worry to much about the crappy mic.

The next issue ... it worked good for about a month then all the CDs started skipping and whiting out the screen and the lyrics kept writing over themselves. Now it skips all the time and barely can play one bar without skipping. My daughter isn't dancing around and when it started was sitting in front of the machine reading the lyrics as she sang them. I watched her today and she just stood there reading the lyrics and the machine kept skipping the CD. I changed CDs a number of times but it didn't matter - it is definitely the machine and not the CD.

She loves playing with it so much I have to get it fixed somehow. I'm going to try calling Emerson and see what their client service says. Failing that - I don't know what to do, any suggestions?

Punishing my Son for What Friends Do

Kids can be mean, the playground is a tough place for a lot of kids. I am trying to teach my kids how to pick "good friends," and sometimes that means punishing them for their bad choices. When my son was young there was one incident where his friend was throwing rocks at a house while my son stood and watched. When our neighbour informed us of this transgression I quickly grounded my son for a week, his friend was not punished. Try explaining how that is fair to a little boy.

No matter what we do though he continues to stand by and watch as friends make stupid decisions or bully other kids. He knows its wrong, he feels bad when we talk about it, but he does nothing to remove himself from the situation, he doesn`t correct his friends or stand up for others. He just stands there and does nothing. Not the action I am looking for.

What he doesn`t understand and refuses to believe is that his friends will stop what they are doing if he leaves the area, if they are the types of kids to be friends with. If not then find new friends. It`s not like his friends are bullies or criminal, they just get wound up sometimes as boys do and don`t think about what they are doing at the time.

My son has picked some really great kids to be friends with and they sometimes feed off each others energy and the next thing you know someone has done something stupid. For 11 year olds stupid can be as innocent as running over a neighbours lawn or not making a new kid feel welcome. What I want is to ensure is that if my son knows what is going on is wrong or stupid to walk away, not to be involved. However at the time he doesn`t think, he gets wound up by their energy and cuts through private property or hurts a new friend`s feelings. It happens, I just want him to realize that their are consequences when he does it.

Birthday Party for an 11 year old Boy - Last Minute Showdown

My son`s birthday was the day after my daughter`s birthday party so when her friends were picked up that morning we were off again. Thankfully he wanted to go dirt biking with dad so that just left my daughter and I to go find his present. Easier said then done, my kids have way too much stuff and trying to find them something that they will like, they need, and won`t clutter up the house was impossible. We were at the malls all day long and I forgot to pick up the cake. What kind of mother forgets to pick up the birthday cake? So at 9:00pm we were pulling into Dairy Queen to get the cake. Day one down, day two.......

I don`t know how I made it through day two. We had six 11 year old boys to entertain and keep busy. I had no idea what to do until a few hours before everyone arrived, thankfully the dollar store isn`t too far away. I planned on a scavenger hunt, followed by a friendly game of capture the flag, and if there was time a game of search and destroy.

Before the kids arrived I drove all over the neighbourhood tying balloons to signs, trees, fire hydrants, whatever I could without getting yelled at. I drew a letter on each balloon and made notes of some smaller landmarks. When I got home I started typing up the scavenger hunt lists, one list was letters with blank lines for them to fill in - what is the balloon lettered ___ tied to? The next list was a list of small items I wanted them to find, a rock, a dandelion, a yellow leaf, a piece of garbage that type of thing. The last list was a series of questions about what was located at certain addresses or intersections.

I divided the kids into 2 teams of 3 and each boy was given a clipboard with a list. They were to work as a team to find the items and answers to all three lists. Each team set out to do there best. While they were out I raced around with more balloons tying them to items and discovered someone had popped some of my balloons so I had to replace them as well. As soon as I got home I set up the food table so they could have a snack before the next round.

The teams were assigned a colour - Blue and Red. I used helium to blow up blue and red balloons and tied them to 4 liter milk jugs filled with water for the home bases. I used blue and red 8x10 pieces of felt for the flags and attached them to broom handles for the flags. I sent them off to the back 40 (the school field) to play a game of capture the flag until dinner was cooked.

My husband cooked hot dogs while I refilled the food table and I tallied up the points from the scavenger hunt. The blue team won and their prize was to eat first and get first pick of the goody bag prizes. I had bought various $5.00 DVD and $10.00 Video games from Wal Mart for them to choose from - Next year I need to buy more variety I ended up with more kids and not enough DVDs. As soon as they finished this they were off to play in the creek.

Once everyone had been picked up and things calmed down I realized that we totally forgot all about the birthday cake. Oh well, more for me I guess, not like my but really needs the extra calories. I should have planned the parties better but with so much going on I did the best I could. Sometimes though, these parties are the best - but next year I`ll start setting up sooner so I`m not running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to make the deadline.

A Birthday Party for 6 Screaming Girls - My Daughter`s 8th Birthday

I can`t believe my daughter just turned 8!!! Thankfully her birthday party turned out to be a blast considering the lack of planning that went into it. The last 3 weeks have included, painting our new house, moving, my parents coming for a visit, Easter dinner with my extended family, my daughter`s family birthday, my son`s family birthday, my daughter`s birthday party, my son`s birthday party, extensive job interviews, and a full time course starting. Due to all the hoopla going on in my life I didn`t plan the birthday party, but it still came together beautifully.

Four little 8 year old girls arrived right on time, making the head count 5. They were so excited and started chasing my son around the house, so I sent them outside to run around the perimeter of the house as many times as they could. While they did this I blew up balloons with helium, cut up fruit and melted Nutella in the chocolate fountain. They loved this idea!!! Everything got covered in Nutella..... which was a huge issue because one guest was arriving later -- she has a peanut allergy!!! So I had to clean everything up with extra soap, so after they cleaned themselves up the girls went upstairs to play.

After I finished cleaning up I collected all the kid`s craft stuff I could find in the boxes of unopened toys. I set up a craft area in the dining room and all 6 girls came in to make 3 crafts, including their goody bags, a necklace, and a card. As they worked on these projects I got my husband on the bar b que to make hot dogs. Little girls make short time of eating!!! So while I cleaned up, yet again, I sent them to play upstairs and figured out what to do next.

As soon as I was done I grabbed the Hullabalo game for them to play. This game has been a party favorite since her 4th birthday, a life saver for me as it gives me time to take a breath and figure out what to do next. Time for Cake!!!! I used to make cakes, buy cakes and all the kids did was eat the icing and there was always leftover cake on their plates to be thrown out. Until, I discovered that if I made a jello cake and bought a Dairy Queen ice cream cake there would be no left overs on the plates - the kids lick their plates clean.

Earlier that day, I skipped out of class early and went shopping for the food because I was picking up my friend`s kids from the school until she could get home from work. After she picked them up my daughter and I bolted for Dairy Queen to pick out an ice cream cake. She had to pick it herself, if you knew my daughter you`d know that she has to have what she wants and no substitute will suffice.

So after cake was served and devoured I found the CD case and the CD player -- Time for dancing to Hannah Montana. I had a couple small clip boards and the girls took turns judging each dance. This gave me time to clean up and get their goody bags ready.

I don`t like to give out goody bags filled with candy and useless little token toys so I buy toys, dolls, or games that are on clearance at Wal Mart. For $5.00 I can put together a fantastic goody bag!!!! Each bag contained one bag of Eggies, a fruit roll up, their crafts, a helium filled balloon and a Hannah Montana board game.

Three girls were picked up that evening, two were staying for a sleep over. I let them continue dancing and playing while I tidied up then it was time to get ready for bed. I carried up our smaller TV and DVD player with a handful of DVDs I could find in the boxes located in the garage waiting to be unpacked. I got them settled in my daughter`s bedroom watching Daddy Daycare and then I went to bed.

I would have slept like a rock except my husband kept waking me up to tell me the girls were still awake and I needed to check on them. You should know my sweet husband was downstairs watching a movie with my son while I was conked out upstairs. I think it was just before midnight when the girls finally fell asleep and they didn`t wake up until morning..... which was my son`s birthday and I had to start the whole process all over again!!!!!

Working Mom's - What do YOU do for Childcare?

Lately I have been interviewing for different positions and the main issue I have is childcare. In the past when I worked, outside of the home, my husband worked from home and took care of the kids. I could work long hours and travel for extended periods of time because I knew my kids were in good hands. I am not so lucky this time round, my husband works 10 hour days 4 days a week outside the home. So I have to figure out what to do with the kids.

As you know I just moved into a new area and know very few people. There isn't a daycare in our neighbourhood and I don't want care outside the neighbourhood. After school for me isn't an issue, 1 day my husband is home, 2 days my mother in law can come by and 2 days I'll hire a teenager for a few hours. It's the mornings that are the issue. My kids are not morning kids and I can't rely on them to get themselves to school.

My dad thinks I should look for something that is part time, not so career oriented, just a job. I guess I could for the next few years and then look for something more career oriented in a few years. That way I spend more time at home with my kids and can get more done around the house. I wonder how much Indigo pays?

Some businesses in the world need to realize that childcare is so important to ensuring success because when you don't have to worry about your kids you can focus on your work. When you focus on your work you can produce better results and increase profitability. Those company's that understand this are hard to get into because they have such loyal long term employees.

What I'll need in terms of childcare will depend on where I land a position and the hours I have to be away from home. I know that there is something out there for a hard working focused individual such as myself that will offer the flexibility I need for my family. Patience and staying on course is the key......

Everything is Finally Working Out

Ever find yourself in a situation where nothing is working out. Every time you try to do something an obstacle pops up, things fall apart, or nothing comes together? That was 2009 for my family. We couldn't catch a break and I was just trying to keep things from falling apart all together. The problem with these times in our lives is sometimes we can't see the bigger picture and when we finally emerge from the chaos we find hindsight to be 20/20.

I am looking out my office window while I type this, across the street is the house we had purchased last summer but the deal fell through resulting in more uncertainty for our kids. I remember the day we signed the offer, we were settling for a house that would work kind of for our family, not a house we really wanted. At the time we saw the house I'm sitting in now and wished it was for sale within our price range. Funny how life works, 4 months later on the way home from Christmas at my parent's place we purchased that very place.

It wasn't convenient to rent across town for 6 months and it meant a lot of packing of boxes but in the end it was worth the wait. The uncertainty had my husband second guessing the decision to relocate to the Lower Mainland BC. I was unhappy, lonely and bored.

Now, life is good again and although we are exhausted we are happy. We have put in a lot of work, painting, cleaning, tearing down fences, pressure washing, scrubbing mildew off siding, and unpacking. We feel fortunate every time my kids walk to school, their friends stop by, they go biking, or play in the creek out back. The kids are finally happy and that is worth its weight in gold!


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