01 October 2011

On being flexible...

Last week, Kayci went to the annual Cubs cheer clinic.  It's a fun afternoon when elementary school kiddos get to work with the Cub cheerleaders and learn several cheers and a dance, and then they perform at a football game.  Well, last night was the football game.  Kayci was stoked--she knew the cheers, she knew the dance, and she'd done it all before, so she was really comfortable with us dropping her off at the fieldhouse with the other kids.  She did such a great job, too!  For some reason we didn't take any cameras, but just believe me, she looked so cute out there and she didn't miss a beat. I was so proud of her, and just in awe of how much more coordinated than I am she is!

And then...when she came up into the stands, it was obvious she was miffed.  Beyond miffed.  Not talking to us, not taking any compliments, not having any of it miffed.  As it turns out, there was a mix-up down on the field.  We noticed that Kayci was in the back of the group when she was in the front of the group last week, but we didn't think anything of it--if anything, we were grateful because we could see her better.  Oh, but she was MIFFED.  The thing is, when she finally did talk about it, she wasn't upset because she wasn't front and center--she was upset because she was expecting to be one place and ended up in another.  She is so articulate once she calms down, and I'm always interested in hearing what's on her mind.  Last night?   She said, "it's just hard for me when I think things are going to be one way and then they turn out a different way."

Wow.  How many of us, as grown-ups, feel the same way?  (My hand's up.)  This was a great teachable moment, and I reminded her of all the times I've given slinkies to my team as "happies."  Of course she remembers, because she usually scores one.  I told her why I give out slinkies:  as a reminder to "be flexible."  And how when we're flexible, we can bend with the situation and make it work...without breaking.  But when we won't bend, it just hurts...and sometimes, we can break.

image:  Amazon

I don't know if she walked away feeling any better, but I woke up with this on my mind this morning.  You see, yesterday I had a very, very long meeting with our CPA.  It turns out, Daddyboy and I were so focused on paying off our debt, we didn't pay our estimated taxes as we should have.  So, it's gotta get paid, and it's time to pay up.  Only, we don't have enough in our tax account so now we're going to have to find some money...and money, quite frankly, is already plenty tight around here.  

Driving home yesterday, I just wanted to cry--it doesn't matter that we knew that it was coming, and that it's our own fault--I'm just so tired of worrying about money.  Wah.  But the truth of it is, we are incredibly blessed.  Our budget each month is just exactly enough to cover what we need and allows us to do fun stuff as a family. And it allows us to give freely, which is very important to me.  When I'm not being the "I want more!!!!" brat, I understand all of this and I am so grateful because I know it's God's math that makes it all work, because if it was just my math, we'd be broke 2 days after payday.  (You know it's true.)  

So, once again, it's time for me to bend.  Here I thought we'd pay off our debt and have *all* that money to save for a house, catch up on things we've been wanting to buy, etc.  Nope--exit my highest paying job.  Okay, so we reevaluated, and it's working.  Phew.  But now it's time to "give to Caesar what is Caesar's..." and it's time to bend again.  We'll find the money--it'll be the money we usually take our fall weekend trips with, James' freelance money, a big chunk of our Christmas money, etc.  I'm even thinking of a part-time job, but that's last resort.  We'll find it.  It'll hurt, because we wanted to DO and BUY with that money.  But, we screwed up--and this whole tax thing has been a monkey on our back since I left the classroom.  Every year we pay, every year it hurts.  But this is the end of it, because we've found a wonderful CPA (one of Dave Ramsey's ELPs if you speak FPU) who has really been helpful in holding up a mirror and letting us see where we can make better choices.  She's made a huge difference in the way we do things, just since April.  I haven't talked about this with many people, but the whole getting our taxes in order 12 months a year thing has been the last piece of the financial puzzle that we needed to work on.  It was one area where I was still doing the, "if I don't think about it..." thing that got us into debt and kept us there for so long.  It's kind of ironic that in focusing so much on paying off one debt we essentially created another debt to ourselves and the IRS, no?  Maybe I'll laugh when it's paid off, right?

It's gauche to talk about money, I know.  Now you know the truth:  we are not rolling in it here in the little green house, and we struggle to make good choices with what comes our way each month.  But, we're working on it.  And I know from talking to LOTS of my friends that some of you struggle, too, and have made the same exact mistakes we have.  That's why I talk about money here on my blog--because if you're not in control of yours, I hope this will help you get in control of yours.  And if you have any tips for me, please, for the love, tell me!  :)  

And now, it's time for me to go celebrate October with my family--I could say this every season and I probably do, but I love, love fall!  The kids have been looking at pumpkins and skeletons and stuff in the stores, and I've been telling them--when it's October, we'll decorate.  So, this morning we're going to try making pumpkin pancakes and then we're going to start decorating for fall.  What a great weekend to be home!    

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