Hi! It’s been a while.
We made it through the end of the year, and now we’re already in the middle of January.
In a lot of ways, it was a good year for us. We continued on our early retirement journey, and our net worth is up. I started some new volunteer gigs, explored gardening, and we had plenty of vacation time.
Emotionally, though, 2017 was kind of stressful. In addition to the general blah’s I’ve been feeling due to the political climate (I don’t think it’s any secret that I lean liberal, though Jon doesn’t), there were several things going on in the extended family that added stress and concern about those loved ones.
Those aren’t my stories, though, so while it added to my stress, those stories are not mine to share. Which, of course, makes it harder for me to deal with the stress. Sharing allows me to get perspective, good advice, and a sense of releasing the issue to the universe. In these cases, though, I can’t follow that path.
A Brief Word on my State of Mind and Blogging
I intended to take 2 weeks off in December and then come back at the first of January ready to go.
I did take two weeks off…and then some more.
I didn’t blog. Didn’t comment, or tweet, or take (many) photos for Instagram. I barely went on the internet.
Some of that was because I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s struck down with a cold. I curled up in my chair next to a box of Kleenex, watched movies, and reread one of my favorite book series.
And then I was back at work for my three and a half month tax prep gig, And it was cold in the house, and particularly in my unheated office.
So until early this week, I’d pretty much decided to bag the blog. Better bloggers than me have dropped along the way, and I miss many of the ones I’ve enjoyed over the last couple of years. I’m not sure that I’m writing particularly useful stuff lately, and I’m not nearly as focused on money as I used to be.
Early this week, though, I got a little encouragement on Twitter to keep going, even if I’m not writing about money. (Thanks in particular to Revanche and Abigail.) They’ve convinced me to keep sharing my stories for now, even if I’m just sharing what’s going on with us. After their encouragement, I took advantage of a much warmer office and hopped on the computer.
I’m not sure what my blogging schedule will be over the next couple of months. I’m not going to commit to every Tuesday right now. But I’ll keep plugging along for a while longer, and at least give you the update on how December went for the Jividens.
I stayed in the Christmas spirit pretty well this year. My series of pictures worked pretty well to remind me of good memories and fuzzy feelings. We had plenty of treats, Christmas movies, seasonal libations, and driving around looking at lights nights.
Christmas Eve, we decided to just do a Sunday morning service and skip the evening trip to church. Having that option this year made the day a lot more relaxing…we had all afternoon with nowhere to go or be. We came home early and did our Jolabokaflod celebration (sans alcohol, since I was taking cold meds.) Curling up under blankets and reading made for an outstanding way to settle down for the annual Christmas Eve visit of the big man.
Christmas morning, was the usual…see what Santa brought, then a trip to my dad’s, then a drive back to the inlaws for the evening.
So we had a good time. Plus, you know, good stuff.
I shopped early this year and found some pretty amazing presents for Jon and Little Bit, particularly on Amazon’s Cyber Monday week sales. Jon, in particular, got some awesome unexpected presents: an instant pot (he uses our slow cooker all the time,) a weather station (he’s kind of obsessed with weather), a body camera, and a 4 pack of Dragon’s Milk, his favorite beer.
Little Bit got toys, clothes, a new scooter from Santa and a new bike from her grandparents. Her favorite things appear to be these LOL surprise dolls that were so popular this year. They’re small enough to fit in her pockets, so she carries them everywhere. It’s funny because they were afterthoughts in my shopping.
We also gave her a 4-month subscription to Roblox Builder’s Club. She’s been begging us for Robux since she started playing the game. Being on Builder’s club gives her a few every day, but also means she can design and sell in-game items for more Robux. If she wants the subscription past April, she’ll have to pay for it herself, but in the meantime, she’s been enjoying having a few more in-game bennies.
And me? In addition to a shiny new box of Kleenex, I got a new car battery when my old one died in the school parking lot.
Also, truffles and Burt’s Bees lip balm.
In fairness, I didn’t need much. I got most of the things I wanted (a new Fitbit and a new Kindle) for my birthday in November, which didn’t leave me with many things to tell people I wanted. And I really did want a new car battery, truffles, and Burt’s Bees lip balm, so I was happy.
Little Bit spent two and a half weeks in school and two and a half out, thanks to her November track out.
We got way off our normal schedule.
We slept late. She played on her computer. We took her to the trampoline park and to see The Last Jedi.
She also helped me make my Christmas treats to give family members. We did the whole “iced sugar cookies” thing this year and she had a blast with that, but she also helped make fudge and chocolate chip cookies. As usual, we went shopping for things she could give Jon for Christmas and birthday, and she helped with the present wrapping this year.
Mostly, though, we just had downtime. We let her get up when she wanted, do what she wanted, and gave her the chance to be bored. And while I watched way too many YouTube videos about Game Theories and Creepy Pastas, I think the whole “we are just gonna have downtime” thing was exactly what we all needed to wrap up the month.
The To Do List
My goals for the year were to:
- Live Healthier
- Increase Financial Health
- Improve the Blog
- Do Good Things
- Get Rid of Excess Stuff
They haven’t changed.
Big fail, especially toward the end of the month when it was super cold and I was sick.
Look, I know “there is no bad weather, just bad clothes.” But consecutive days when it doesn’t break freezing are rare around here, and we had a bunch of them. I sat. and drowsed. And while I tended to eat kind of lightly, I also had plenty of Christmassy treats.
I need to do better this month.
Increase Financial Health
I took and passed one of the certification tests last month, so I should make a little more at my seasonal job this year. While there were a few training classes in December, the job itself kicked off January 2, and I’ll be working through tax season.
However, I really dropped the ball during the second half of the month on my expense tracking. I went about 3 weeks without entering I don’t think that’s terrible or insurmountable, it’s the longest time I’ve let it go since I started tracking in October 2015. Now, I have a big stack of receipts to enter and I’m sure that some cash expenses will just get left off entirely.
Improve the Blog
Do Good Things
The month began with the school book fair, and I volunteered several days for it. I helped Kindergarten and First Grade students write down wish lists, straightened shelves, helped kids find book prices, and ran a register. All things I’m very familiar with doing, thanks to 17 years in the book business.
I’ve arranged my schedule most weeks to have Thursday mornings off, so I’ll be able to keep running the school store and shelving books in the library once a week. And I’ll keep doing my church stuff.
Get Rid of Excess Stuff
We donated so much stuff to our local charity shop last year they sent us a Christmas card. And we passed down some more bulky toddler toys to my youngest nephew as part of his Christmas presents.
While we gave a lot of items away over the course of the year, though, we still have way too much stuff in our house. My guess is that we brought in at least as many new items last year as we got rid of. We need to do a better job of freeing up room, but at least we don’t seem worse off than when we started our decluttering project.
Wrapping Up December 2017…and Moving Forward
So there’s our month.
Along the way, Jon celebrated a birthday, and Little Bit got to ring in the new year with her first James Bond film (Doctor No, of course. She made it til 11:35 New Year’s Eve before saying “Actually, Mom, I think I just want to go to bed now.”)
Jon also repaired the brakes on his car so it would pass inspection (about $40 for parts), and fixed the dryer when it died ($15 for parts). Let’s just say we had a few reminders that life is much cheaper when you have the ability, availability, and patience to do your own repairs. Because if he hadn’t, I’m sure we would have been out at least $600 between his car, my car, and the dryer.
So maybe we do have a few articles left between us. Or maybe we’ll just kind of let you know what’s going on with us. I don’t know. But we aren’t signing off yet, and we’ll see you in 2018.
How did December 2017 turn out for you?