Road to Being Debt Free…

Jason and I have been in debt our entire relationship.  Before we got married Jason had credit card debt.  We both had student loans.  And then we made the decision to move to Lethbridge so he could attend university.  This brought huge buckets of student loans.

We have always struggled financially.  We have always had debt.  We have always been battling this debt beast that seemed to never give an inch.  But indeed we slowly made progress.  We paid off the mountains of student loans.  And we then had the credit cards.

Credit cards are devious little things.  You always intend to pay it off right away but something always happens.  And so they slowly just fill up.

Finally I said enough is enough.  No more.  We made a serious plan and undertook the big task of paying all of this off.

We could easily have continued making payments each month and slowly chipping away at it, but I want to buy a home.  And I want to have no debts when I do it.

With Jason being constantly behind in pay for 8 consecutive months we knew we needed to tighten our belts and dive into this.

So, that is exactly what we did.  We tightened our belts.  We cut kids activities and other frivolous expenses like cable.  And we managed to hang in through it all.  We even saved some.

But we knew we needed to dig deeper to get through this.  So we sat down as a family and set a goal.  No more debt by the end of June.

It was a very lofty goal and meant even more sacrifices.  But the whole family was on board.  It also was dependant on our son getting approved for disability with his ADHD combo and ODD.

After 3 months however, his disability paperwork is still pending and being processed.  And everything I’ve read says even once the paperwork is approved it could take another 6 months to fill out the additional paperwork and see any money.

Last pay day Jason got 3 pay checks.  He was finally caught up.  That meant that most of his back pay could go to debt. (But we have to keep some aside because we know he won’t be paid at the end of the month).

Then last week Jason won the 50/50 draw at the Hitmen game.  And finally yesterday we got a letter in the mail stating that we had this credit on the child supplement thing from 2012 taxes and they’d sent us $300 in the mail and when they determined that we didn’t owe them any money they would send the rest.

Ironically Jason and I had been discussing where to tithe our winnings from the 50/50.  And I was bummed because we would still be short to pay off these debts completely.  And it felt like we had nothing to show for all of this sacrifice and even for the awesome win!

But, that letter from the government  changed everything.  That is the missing amount we are short to be debt free.  In fact after we tithe on the 50/50 and we tithe on that, I suspect it will be within dollars of what we need to be debt free.

Unfortunately most of the money isn’t in our hands yet.  We know it’s coming and we just have to wait it out.  But the thing is, we know it’s coming.  And we know that within the next month or so we will be debt free.

Then we can focus on saving and getting a house.  We could have taken all this money and gotten a house, but then we would still have these debts to pay.  So we are just waiting.  One step at a time.

Thankfully these last steps have been a full out run.  Our goal had been to be in a home before the end of summer.  But that isn’t going to happen.  But when we get in a home we will do so with a healthy down payment and we won’t have to worry about the budget so much.

And with Jason’s job being so touch and go and unstable it will be awesome to get rid of this debt and allow us to live on that much less.

So for now, I have to be content to wait on the money to come and just be happy knowing that in the next 2 to 8 weeks we will hopefully receive it all and be able to be debt free.

And incidentally that will leave any monies we get (assuming Keilan’s disability comes through eventually) from Keilan’s disability to go to a down payment on a house.  So really we are doing pretty good now.

Now let’s just hope Jason doesn’t lose his job….but even if he does we are in the best possible place to deal with it…

Learning How My Highly Distracted Child Thinks…

Recently I read an article written by an adult writing about his personal experience living with ADHD.  It gave me great insight into how my son thinks.

This guy describes having ADHD like being covered in sticky notes.  Every time something comes by all of his attention  is diverted to that.  He can’t control it.

It made me take another think about our son.  A couple weeks ago he got lost in the mall…again.  He frequently gets separated from us in stores.  He won’t stay with me in a store.  He has to stop and look at things and won’t come and by the time he comes we are gone.  And although we told him where we were going he didn’t hear because he was focused on what he was looking at.

I realized he isn’t being bad.  He isn’t being disobedient.  He isn’t being defiant.  He honestly is just doing what his brain is telling him.

It reminds me of the dog in the movie Up.  Every time a squirrel came by the dog was immediately focused on that.

My son is like that.

I have to try to remove all the distractions before we home school.  I have to teach one subject at a time.  So we will teach 5 science lessons in one sitting.  Or 5 social studies lessons at one sitting.  Changing subjects is too distracting for him.  It makes us accomplish much less!

The article made me rethink how I handle him.  But it doesn’t make raising him any easier.

I am anxious now all the time when I am with him around people I know.  His behaviour is unexpected and sometimes quite embarrassing to me.  So, I just avoid taking him to situations where I am known.

I just don’t need the judgement of others on my parenting.  I frankly judge myself enough.  And I often deal with him too harshly in these situations because of my embarrassment.

I am not excusing his behaviour.  I am not ignoring it either.  I am in fact working very hard every single day to teach him better ways to react and new ways to think.  But it just doesn’t come easily to him.  He isn’t a bad kid.  He is a highly distracted kid who knows what he wants and how he wants it.  He is a kid with low impulse control.

With time I’m sure it will continue to improve.  But, for now, I try to find excuses to avoid all contact between him and people I know.  It just is overwhelming to me.  The idea of being judged and him being judged and escalating situations all because he just is socially developmentally delayed….

So I am trying to be more patient with myself and him.  And yes, I’m still avoiding others because it keeps my stress down to do so.

Your kids don’t get mine.  And my simple solution may seem like an unfair one to your child.  Children want what they want and compromise doesn’t often come easily.  And my child requires constant compromise for peace.  It’s just a difficult mix….

So if you think I’m avoiding you, I probably am.  Don’t take it personally.

Getting Cursive Done…

This week I’m squeezing a week’s worth of home schooling into 3 days.  This way Keilan can have a 5 day Easter break.

In order to do this, we have to work really hard the first 3 days of the week.

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Monday went well.  We got all of our science done.  And we did everything I’d planned for us to do.  The idea was Tuesday would be almost as full and Wednesday would be a light day.  Then we would have Thursday and Friday and Monday completely off.

Tuesday started off manageable, bit not great.  And it just got worse.  I tried bribing with chocolate.  No go.  I scolded.  I reasoned.  Then I stopped at the first park.  I simply asked if wanted to play here.  And I waited for the first page of cursive to be completed.

Then I stopped at the second park.  We completed page 2 and started page 3 of cursive.  And then we explored this new to us park.  I explained that we would complete page 3 before we left the street.

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I also explained that our 3 pages of cursive today and 2 tomorrow had now become 5 today because I didn’t want the drama tomorrow.

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But that means all we have to do when we get home is practice piano.

Yesterday we did health and math and we already did French and history and 2 English lessons today.

Tomorrow I think we will work ahead in science and do next week’s lessons and complete the study on plants.  That will mean we can start our final study…animals after that.

A Helping Hand… Rejected

Twice in the past week my offers of help have been rejected. I know I really shouldn’t take it personally, but I do.

Last Thursday I had just dropped a load of students off at their school.  After I left the school, a block away, I saw a man who looked like he could use some assistance.

This guy was dressed in his grubbies. And frankly I wouldn’t have been surprised if he was homeless, although I’m not sure he was.  He had a large 4 wheel utility cart and he had it piled high with all sorts of stuff.  It seemed like some of it was perhaps vehicle parts.  And he had tied a tarp over the top.  He had run wire along the sides to hold things on the shelf as he pushed the cart, I suppose.  There was even a microwave in there.

Anyway, I happened to be driving by and his cart had completely tipped on its side.  He was in the middle of the street.  It was a residential street so not very busy.  However, his cart was literally in the middle of the street.  No vehicle would be able to get by him on either side.

So, I stopped the bus and my son and I got out to help him.  I approached him and and asked “excuse me sir, would you like some help?” He growled back and I didn’t quite catch what he said.  So I repeated myself.  And then he turned around and hollered at me that since I was a bus driver he guessed he needed to repeat himself.  And he said he didn’t need any help and to leave.  So Keilan and I did.

I don’t know how long he blocked the road.  But I suspect he was hiding something.  Regardless my son saw that we stop and help when we can.  And that’s all I can hope to model to him.

The second was yesterday.  We had offered to help a friend get rid of some furniture.  He is moving and not taking it with him.  We have a large van that can haul it.  So we listed the living room set on Kijiji for free for $20 for gas for delivery.  A gal responds.  My first clue should have been when she was asking me if I was a Christian and if the owner of the couches was a Christian.   She asked me all sorts of seemingly odd questions.  At the end of the weird conversation she said she wanted the furniture.  We drive 25 minutes to deliver it to her.  Jason had a feeling she wouldn’t want it so he made sure she and her sister saw it and wanted it before we unloaded the van.

We first took in the overstuffed chair.  Then unloaded the couches.  Then she told us they couldn’t take it because their religion didn’t allow pets.  I asked if they had a vacuum cleaner as the dog hair along the bottom would easily remove with a vacuum.  After all that we ended up removing the chair and reloading the van.  A real pain.

In the end though we were able to find a lovely lady who was very eager and grateful to get he furniture.  We brought our shop vac and gave it all a quick vacuum.  And the dog hair was easily all removed.  It felt great to give it someone who needed and wanted it.

So I guess the moral of the story is we can’t help everyone and not everyone wants to be helped.  But I shouldn’t get discouraged by that and stop helping.  I just have to keep on helping where and when I can.

The New Bribery Plan… I Mean “Reward” or “Incentive…”

Last week, out of sheer desperation, I came up with yet another incentive plan for Keilan to complete his home schooling.

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These plans, no matter how amazing, never last for too long.  He bores or tires of them and they lose their effectiveness.  Apparently this is quite common for kids with ADHD.

Kids with ADHD need immediate incentive.  Long term incentive plans often don’t work.  It is just too hard for them to stay engaged with no immediate incentive coming.  They bore of the stickers and the goal of reaching 30 and getting whatever amazing reward it is.

Frankly, I find it tiring and frustrating.  For Keilan he has difficulties staying focused on a long term goal and if he messes up once and the goal is further delayed it’s very difficult to get him back on track.

At school they used to use weekly rewards.  You know, if you collect such and such all week then you can get such and such.  Keilan never responded well to these.  They also tried giving him play money to spend later.  Also didn’t work because he wants to save it and never spends it.

So, when I found Keilan 9 writing assignments behind, a few weeks ago, I knew I needed to make a new plan.

So back to the drawing board I went.  His time I’ve put into practice all I’ve read and learned about ADHD and Keilan.  And I’m hoping it’ll be moderately successful.

I consulted with Keilan.  I showed him my plan and he liked it.  And I got his help in setting it up too.

In short, we came up with a bunch of ideas that Keilan  would like for rewards.  It was actually 21 different rewards.  I wrote each one on a piece of paper 3x.  Keilan and i cut he’s out and folded them up small and placed them in a ziploc bag.

The plan is that everyday that Keilan completes a certain  amount of school work he gets to draw a prize from the bag.

Yesterday he drew “trip to the Science Center.”

So, I explained what work he had to do ahead to make that happen.  He did it….this morning as we approached the Science Center.  Nevertheless, he completed it.  So, here we are.

Most of the rewards don’t cost me anything.  We have a Science Center pass and a zoo pass.  And most of the rewards are ones of time and attention.

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Already I see some problems with this plan.  Yesterday he said to me that he didn’t have to finish his work because he could just finish it tomorrow and get a prize then.  So, knowing it’s a daily deal may have the benefit of the immediate reward but the detriment of the knowledge tomorrow he can get it too.

He knows all the rewards, and he likes them.  That should be on my side.  And with only 3 of most of them in the draw it hopefully will take out the boredom and keep it interesting.  However, his mathematical mind will likely be keeping track of how many of what prize he’s gotten already.  This could help the excitement in the beginning but it could hamper it towards the end…especially if the prizes left aren’t his favorites.

I know this will likely be a plan I can only use effectively for a while.  But I hope it will at least get us through the remaining school year!

As for today…he’s pretty happy to be at the Science Center…and I’m happy to have a few minutes to myself.  The minutes are pretty rare now….as anyone reading my blog can see by the distinct drop in blog posts!

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