October 13, 2015

5 Reasons I Give My Kids Allowance

Whether or not to give kids an allowance for doing chores is one of those personal parenting choices.

Perhaps not quite as controversial as circumcision, breast or bottle feeding, or free range vs. helicoptering. But still a personal/family choice.

I've had the discussion with my mom friends and I've seen it debated online. Everyone seems to land pretty firmly on one side or the other, for or against.

Those who do NOT give allowance typically say it is because they feel their kids should have to contribute to the household they live in. They live there and should have to help maintain the home just because it's the right thing to do. They also point out birthday and holiday gifts of cash, feeling that is enough of their own money.

I don't disagree with those things but, like it so often does, my opinion falls more in the middle, somewhere between yes and no. I do pay my kids for some of the chores they do, and I'll tell you why.

1. Reward - I reward myself when I feel like I deserve it, why not my kids?

2. Empowerment - So my kids can make some of their own purchasing choices.

3. Money Management - How are kids supposed to learn how to handle, save, budget and shop for things when they don't have any of their own money?

4. I didn't have children in order to have them do all the chores. I felt like my step-mother looked at me as her personal housekeeper when I was a kid. While of course kids should clean up after themselves, and learn how to clean a house, I just don't think they should have to do more than their fair share simply because you have the power to make them do so. I'm not saying those who don't pay allowance are doing that, it's just something that carried with me from my childhood; that I didn't want my kids to feel like that's all they're good for.

5. Kids don't have any other way to earn money. I keep track of the chores my kids do on our wall calendar throughout the month. They can see the check marks accumulate, I tally them up at the end of the month and then I pay them at the beginning of the next month. Each task is worth one dollar.

While I do dole out a little cash to my kids, I only give them an allowance for the things they do that contribute to the entire household. I do not pay them to clean their own rooms and I do not pay my teen to do her own laundry (nor my son to help with his).

As far as simply being a nice, helpful person goes, there are still plenty of opportunities in any given day to ask my kids to go fetch something for me or their dad, to help with dinner, or to go get the mail, for which they don't earn money.

Like most things, I just don't see it as a black and white/right or wrong issue. This is the way I came up with for our family, and I think it works for us.

Where do you fall on this topic? Do you pay your kids an allowance?

October 7, 2015

Go Fund Us!

At my husband's behest, I set up a GoFundMe campaign last night.

I titled it "Hall Home Help" because we need to do some things around our house. And I enjoy alliteration.

We're going down this path because we tried applying for home equity loans/lines of credit but were summarily denied by three different banks.

September 28, 2015

You Know, Like Groundhog Day

In September of 2014, infection was discovered in my husband's chest (where it was cracked open for bypass surgery four years earlier). He underwent a debridement and was left with an open wound 18 cm long.

For the next eight months, we did everything we could to heal that wound without surgery. We eventually caved and Mark had a plastic surgeon perform a muscle flap procedure, after which he spent a month in a rehab facility with strict sternal precautions.

A month after returning home, two small abscesses formed on Mark's chest. He went to the ER and was admitted to the hospital for several days due to infection. He came home on both IV antibiotics and an anti-fungal.

Just as those two small wounds were THISCLOSE to healed, another abscess formed right in the middle of his chest. A CT scan was done and Mark was referred back to a cardiothoracic surgeon.

September 22, 2015

Blogging Existentialism

For the entire last year it has been difficult for me to get my stuff out here. To write.

To share my life with whoever is interested.

This bothers me so much. I remember, like, four years ago, as I was getting all gung-ho about blogging, that I would often come across other bloggers who were complaining of writer's block and time constraints or whathaveyou thinking, "that'll never be me. I never seem to have a shortage of things to write about and the words just flow....".

Yet here I am.

I want so badly to be able to write for other sites, to lend my perspective where appropriate, to a wider audience, and maybe even be paid for it (is that OK to say?). But if I can't even manage to maintain my personal blog any more than once a week -- for myself -- how am I supposed to write for anyone else?

*scratches head.

I ask myself, do I simply need to practice better time management? Because I am a stay-at-home mom to school-age kids. I should have plenty of time to write, right? Sure, but then there's my husband who, besides 12 hours a week at dialysis treatments, is also home full time.

But he's an adult who doesn't need supervision like kids do, you might think. Actually, that's not the case, because he is a friggin' mess and needs lots of help, and also really appreciates my time and attention.

Now, I don't mean this to sound condescending AT ALL (I promise), but really, caring for Mark is not much different than caring for a small child. And since it's akin, this also means I don't have help with household things from my spouse. I am responsible for EVERYTHING in our family.

And then. Because of the things there are to DO, and the things there are to FEEL and THINK about, my brain gets pretty fried, and I find myself wanting to sit my ass down to zone out on some show or movie instead of pushing my mind to string words together that might be worth reading.

No, I'm not perfect at time management; I tend to procrastinate. I could always be better, but I still don't think that's my biggest problem.

On one hand I'm trying to balance all the things I need and want to do. Whether laundry, writing, dishes, crocheting or administering IV medication, and feeling like I have to do all those things, plus spend time with my family and resenting this, that or the other thing.

To the other hand where I know my time with both my kids and husband (for different reasons) is finite, so I should just chill and be in the moments....

Of course.

But not wanting to drop the ball on any one thing because it's ALL important to me!

Then I wonder: should I quit blogging? Should it just not be a priority for me right now? But, but...NO! I NEED this in order to GET THROUGH my life. I think if I gave this up, I -- ME -- could very well be swallowed up.

It's all so goddamn complicated, and frustrating.

I've always been so Zen about blogging. I don't force any part of it. From what and when I write to social media reach and interaction. I remind myself of this and think, "OK then, just continue to be Zen about it. So you don't post as often as you used to. It's fine."

But then -- like I mentioned at the beginning of this little peek into my brain -- I also remember how much MORE I would love to do with writing online and how I don't want to lose what I've built and that I want to keep this as part of my life in order to still have it when everyone leaves me.

And round and round and round I go.

Does it still count when I can't do as much as I'd like to? Do I come off as a flaky blogger when so many things I've read on the subject tell me to "be consistent"? For how long will have to choke down my disappointment (in myself) when I hear of a fellow blogger who has reached a certain milestone in a year of blogging when I haven't been able to in five?

Will I EVER get to pursue the same sorts of opportunities I see other bloggers pursuing?

What if I'm simply not good enough?

Final question: Will I one day be sitting here with oodles of time on my hands, wondering where my family went, admonishing myself for being so impatient?

(Did you know one could think quite so deeply about blogging?)

September 10, 2015

I Can Handle It

There's this thing I've noticed that people are wont to do when interacting with people like Mark and I as someone who is ill and his wife/caregiver.

They often water down their problems for us. People say things like:
  • It's nothing like what you deal with.
  • It's so small compared to your struggles.
  • I don't want to add to your stress.

OK so, yeah, we have struggles, and yeah, along with chronic illness comes chronic stress. I'm not going to deny that.

But we both still want to be in real, give and take relationships with our friends and family. We want others to share their lives with us.

September 1, 2015

Being a SAHM is Actually Easier

I think it is, in fact, easier to be a stay-at-home mom than a working mom.

There, I said it. Someone needed to, because really.

I can say this because I have been a SAHM for 12 years, since my firstborn, my daughter, was three years old (I worked part-time before we relocated from CA to WA). I had my son two and a half years later.

In that time I watched many an Oprah or Dr. Phil or The View, listening to discussions of work/life balance, tips on time management for busy moms, how to lose the baby weight, and and and...

I have read countless articles and blog posts on the topic of the so-called "Mommy Wars" (even written one or two myself), about how staying home with your kids isn't a real job, but if you work outside the home you're selfish.

I am SO OVER it. The finger-pointing and judgments.

Let's just look at it logically, shall we?

August 19, 2015

A Spousal Caregiver's Battle Cry

You know how last week I said I don't want to talk about it? 'It' being chronic illness and caregiving.

Looking back, at least three other posts I've written since May have shown my struggle with this, both the actual circumstances and talking about them.
  1. I Don't Think I'm Doing it Right
  2. I Can't Blog...I Haz the Life
  3. An Awful, Negative and Ranty Post
After reading last week's lame attempt at expressing myself, another spousal caregiver felt compelled to write to me on his own blog. In his letter, Paul was able to put into words ALL THE THINGS I have been mostly blocked from spilling myself.

I sat at the kitchen table, phone in my hand, slack-jawed, as I read Paul's letter. Tears sprang to my eyes as each and every sentence echoed and validated my own thoughts and feelings.

August 13, 2015

I Don't Want to Talk About It

I've been having a problem lately.

I can't seem to -- or don't want to -- talk about things.

Or, for the purposes of my blog, write about them.

I am referring to my thoughts, feelings, struggles, resolutions, and etcetera regarding my husband's health problems and being his primary caregiver.

It's my biggest issue in life and I don't really want to talk about it.

I don't know if anyone has noticed.

The last couple of posts I've written that have to do with chronic illness and caregiving aren't entirely clear. Even my awful, negative, ranty post -- as honest as it was -- still skirted around some things.