Getting Ready for the Holidays

As you can tell, I have been quite busy with the little one who will be turning one in a week.  He is very active and the total opposite of how my daughter was at his age.  So, I have been receiving catalogs and advertisement mailings with all sorts of holiday-inspired themes.  I am already getting into the spirit and becoming reminiscent of what made the holidays special for me as a child.  Now, with two children, it is important to immediately keep my head on straight and start a budget that I will stick to.  The season can speed by so fast, and we can be taken up in all the holiday movies, sales, smells, and food that when the new year rolls around, we are trying to find out where all of our money went.  I have become quite thrifty lately and want to make sure that I do not owe anything from the holidays in the new year.  In order to do this as a single parent, sole provider, and self-proclaimed “starving-artist”, I have come up with a few pointers for myself.  I will probably add to this list as the season starts to swing into high-gear but, for now you can use any of these tips yourself, too.

1.  Create a budget; include in your budget how much you will spend on family, friends, and your children.

2.  Create a budget for yourself.  Remember that you may want to get your hair and nails done, pick out a special outfit or two and treat yourself to a couple of holiday movies or festivities (alcohol may be included).  Take all of this into account.

3.  Do not feel as though you have to get your children so many gifts.  I found that some years, I bought gifts for my daughter in addition to what she wanted because I liked them.  She has only played with one consistently out of all of her gifts from last year.  

4.  Remember that as your child gets older, their toys and ‘wants’ get more expensive.  My daughter can pick out two gifts this year with a maximum of $200.  She doesn’t know the max because sometimes she  picks below it.  My son is only one so he will get two toys also because, he rather bang on the walls anyway.

5.  Decorations cost money.  Go to the Dollar Store, Five and Below, or Home Goods.  Do not go crazy.  You may want a different theme next year.

6.  Just say “No!”  There will be a lot of events and sales and friends asking you to this and that.  Just say no.  I want to buy my first home within the next couple of years so, I have a bigger focus and that is paying off my debt and not creating any new debt and duh…saving!

7.  Remember what this time is really about.  Go for walks with the kids.  Bundle them up and walk around the block.  If you live a place where the weather is great all year around, even better.  Read to them, sing songs to them.  Stay indoors and make it a movie night.  There are plenty of options that do no require you to spend a fortune.

It’s hard out there and I figure any corners that can be cut should.  As a single parent, I can get down sometimes on myself because there are things that I simply cannot afford to give my kids but, then I ask myself “Is it something that they need?”  If the answer is no, then I focus on what they DO need and that is love and attention.  Give that and have a great holiday.

The Advantages of a “Like Community”

artKnot Group

If you are the only creative type in your close friendship group and need a support system to bounce ideas off of or to keep you in the game, then meetup.com may be able to provide some new contacts to aide you.  I found meetup.com about four years ago and it was life changing.  Any interest or hobby that you have, there is a group that has been formed to accommodate and motivate you.  The only challenge is finding one in your immediate area.  The main page asks for you to enter your zip code and then from there you can search by keywords such as “author, poets, bikers, wine enthusiasts, religion, etc.”

Sometimes we need to create a community of like-minded and in this case like-interested individuals as ourselves. It can open doors to new opportunities and experiences that can lead to advancements in your life that you never imagined.  Take a look here at http://www.meetup.com/.

 


Movies and Life

Image

This past weekend I decided to take my 10 year-old daughter to see the movie Mirror Mirror.  Since, I have had my son, it has been hard to spend quality time with just my daughter.  She has been such a good sport about it, that I had to reward her.  So, all weekend long we did things together like walk around the neighborhood (she rode her bike), chill at the bookstore (she had to get Hunger Games because the movie is coming out and Liam is “sooooo cuuute”), cook-out ( I burnt the first batch of jerk chicken), and go to the movies.  I really enjoy any time that I get to spend with my daughter because she loves mommy’s attention and I love learning more and more about the person she is developing into.

So, onto the movie.  Julia Roberts was phenomenal in her role as the wicked step-mother in Mirror Mirror.  The “Snow White”was a beautiful actress whom was appropriately cast for the role.  I think the thing that I appreciated most about the movie was the lesson learned or should I say taught to my daughter.  The lesson is that everyone has strength within and we are our only hindrance.  Sometimes environment and circumstances prohibit an accurate portrayal of our inner strength but, it is there waiting to be tapped into.  And sometimes the limitations are just within our minds.  This lesson hit home for me, because sometimes I do not accept freelance assignments or even try for them because I feel that I may disappoint myself or the business/person that I would work for.  I have since, changed this mindset and recognize my many talents and go after any opportunity that I may qualify for.

We started off with face painting in the lobby of the theatre and ended up enjoying a movie with great casting, excellent creativity, awesome graphics,humor that appealed to both myself and my 10 year old daughter, and a lesson learned for the both of us.  All-in-all it was a terrific weekend.

List Maker

I am a professional list maker.  I even have a list yourself book that helps with self-discovery as if my childhood and adult diaries and journals didn’t serve that purpose.  I have a ton of notebooks and notepads lying around my house, inserted into my work-bag or handbag containing numerous lists.  There is the grocery list, the bills-to-pay list, the to-do list, the books-to-read list, the change my life list, the list of great ideas and the next big invention list.  Some things have been checked off but, a lot haven’t and I am not deterred.  It is interesting to look back on lists that I created years ago to see how many things I have actually accomplished.  And even though there are things that have not been checked off as of yet, I am still making and updating lists.  On one of my most recent lists I pledged to post more.  I realized that writing in and of itself is therapeutic for me.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the details of things that the task appears daunting and nothing ever gets done because I have postponed the hefty task until a later date (usually “when I have more time,” ha ha ha).

My recommendation for those of you writers who have experienced these droughts and your emotions have been in the toilet, I can only offer you one simple piece of advice and that is to Write!  It feels good to post or write in my notebook and share with others.  And once I write, no matter what it is about, I find that my creative juices begin to flow.  As a single mama, time seems to move so fast with all of my to-do’s.  I just want to be able to say that each day, at some point, I wrote something important to me and that my children can look back to learn from.  Write on!!!

She’s Come Undone

 

      I can tell you honestly that Wally Lamb is a phenomenal writer.  He has perfected the craft of bringing characters to life so that the reader can relateand empathize with them.  I have taught characterization to my students on many occasions and if they weren’t middle schoolers, I would tell them to read one of Wally Lamb’s books for the best example out there.

Anyway, it has been awhile since my last post and I have been working on getting a routine down now that I am the parent of TWO children.  I can say that I have my good days and my bad days.  There is some thingsthat I have learned in the past couple of months since I last wrote and that is that I want to eat healthier and train my children to do the same and stress less.  Stress is an energy zapper and can lead to all kinds of physical ailments not to mention writer’s block.  But, I have recommitted to my poetry anthology and added the new task of children’s books.  At first, I considered it “not-my-thing,” but, then I wanted more options for great books to read to my son.  So, why not create that option for myself?

My focus is on building my brand and making a decision in regards to my career choice.  I am an educator and love education itself but, I love small groups and at-risk groups.  I will be looking for opportunities to serve children in that capacity.

The Ideal Home Office

So, I have been home for a little over 2 months and I have been writing for the Examiner and doing other little assignments along with taking care of a 2 month and eleven year old.  It has been busy, busy, busy.  My office is anywhere from the living room to the dining room.  I may be surfing freelance opportunities while nursing the baby and waiting on hold to speak with a representative from one of my many bills to get them to extend my payment due date.  This is the reality of the day in the life of a single writer mama.

My must-haves are my Vera Bradley agenda, red pen, black gel ink pen, pencil, notebook, calculator, fee chart, laptop, iPad, sticky notes, cell phone, house phone, folders, and assortment of paper clips and binder clips.  Oh yeah and baby wipes, a few diapers, pacifier, and burp cloth.

My ideal office would have a door attached to it and I would have a nanny to assist me with childcare.  I would have multiple items bought from The Container Store to help organize my countless files, notes, pens, pencils, and other office items.  I would have a Mac desktop computer along with a wall calendar and a name plate as a constant reminder that I am a professional writer even though I am at home and don’t have countless published books out there. Inspiring art work would adorn my walls and my business cards would sit prominently on my mirrored desk.  My awesome ergonomic fuchsia chair would keep me comfortable during my long hours of work and research.  Is there anything that I am missing?  Send a comment if there is something I should add.

Still Pressing Forward

Well, I’m back.  My spirit has been renewed for the new year and I have been writing more since the beginning of January.  I would like to post to this blog more often.  Actually, I will post to this blog more often.  I am also working on the other assignments that I mentioned in my last conversation here on Singlewritermama.

Trying to get a schedule down has been a little difficult because infants don’t really “do schedules”.  But, it’s okay.  I am learning what times are good times to complete certain assignments and tasks and what times are better for just blogging and working on my novel.  I have determined that although I am a night owl, I should only look for freelance assignments and submit to the examiner.com in the morning or early afternoon.  At night, I am more creative and cannot be bogged down with technical items.  That is the time that I should post here and work on my poetry and novel or anything creative.  I just have to learn my flow.

My son has been a constant reminder that life is steady moving on and I need to continue on the path to my dreams.  I have recently joined a writing group and feel so good about my new friends.  I know that they will inspire me as they have already done in the first meeting and hopefully, I can inspire them.  Stay tuned for my home office set-up current and future.  Maybe, I can help someone out there who is just getting started like myself.

The New Addition

I now have a new addition to my family and his name is Justin.  He is the most beautiful baby boy that I have ever laid eyes on and I am not being biased.  Watching him while he is asleep or while he nurses, makes me want to work even harder to launch my freelance/consulting business.  I have already used vistaprint, which I think is a great start, to publish a website, secure a logo, and print business cards.  Now, I am focused on creating brochures, registering the business name, and creating a curriculum guide for my writing workshops.

It is very important that I do two things, and they are:

1.  Stay motivated

2.  Complete one task before I move on to the next one.  ( I am good for starting something and not completing it because I have so many good ideas and work on too many at one time)

So, I have looked at my calendar and created a rough draft schedule for the curriculum project and completion of the brochure before I move on to finishing my poetry book and youth center project.  There is so much that I want to accomplish in this lifetime and even if things do not work out just the way that I want them to, I can at least say that I tried.  So many people can’t even say that.  My motivation is within myself and each time I look at my kids.  OMG!  I just said ‘Kids’.  I have more than one now and it is surreal.

Anyway, I have my good days and my bad days and I am sure that you do, too.  Be sure to consistently pep yourself up.  I read self-help books, complete devotionals, and have a subscription to a blog that you may be interested in.  It is TDL and all musings are usually right on time.  You can check it out at :  http://thedailylove.com/

If you like it, add yourself to the email list.

Figuring out WordPress

Okay, for the past two days I have been trying to set up this blog and trying to make it appear the way that I want it; I am not succeeding.  In between this time I have been applying to about 20 freelance gigs and praying for the best.  I see now that the applying to the gigs is a lot easier than setting up this blog.  I will need to make a trip to Barnes & Noble or meet with a WordPress expert.  It is a shame because I am the type of person who can usually figure something out in a reasonable amount of time.  I just want my home page to be listed first and not have the term category archives at the top.  I would like to post to each individual page but, I realize that it is more trouble than it’s worth right now.  I will attack that obstacle at a much later date; I just want to keep posting and sharing.

So, onto other matters.  I’m getting really nervous about this new bundle of joy that will be joining my mini-family very soon.  He has been moving in there all day and usually he is not this active.  I guess it is a good thing because his movements remind me that I want to be with him and my daughter as much as possible.  This requires me to buckle down and put my business plan into action.  I have finally ordered business cards and secured a website, tomorrow I will set that up.  I think that the corner I felt I was backed into is making me push harder.  This single writer mama is on a mission and I will not quit until one of my dreams come to fruition.

In the meantime, I will keep you up to date.  I’m sure you want to know all about my struggles and laugh out loud experiences.  Chat with you soon!

Back in the Swing of Things!!!

Well, I’m in my new place and I have finally unpacked; it took two weeks.  I have been enjoying the school year so far but, the amount of homework my daughter has each night is a little daunting.  I still have pictures to hang but, my main concern is trying to show her attention and keep reminding her that she is still important even though her little brother will be here in less than a month.  It had been her and I for the past ten years so, this is definitely new for the both of us.  She is trying out for cheerleading and I hope she makes it, even though truth be told, my child lacks rhythm.  Writing that hurts just as much as saying it since, dancing is my thing!

In trying to pursue activities with her before the baby comes, I have registered us for an MS (multiple sclerosis) event where she will be able to go on hay rides, pumpkin smash, etc.  She doesn’t know it yet, and I will keep it a surprise just in case I go into labor before the event occurs and can’t take her.  I believe that it is important to include your child in the events surrounding a new baby and answer any questions that they may have.  This soothes and squelches any fears of being “left out”.

Anyway, I will keep you guys up to date in regards to how cheerleading try-outs go.  Keep your fingers crossed.