I’m Back…

By on June 26, 2017

So to say the least, it has been awhile. In the last year I have taught my first graduate class, or any class, since I taught ELL classes in South Korea in 2004. It was part side hustle and part “Am I ready to move to a new career?”.  I really enjoyed teaching the career class to future counselors so much that I decided to explore teaching full time at counselor education programs.

For those who don’t know, counselor education programs are graduate programs which train counselors for mental health, higher education, or school counseling positions. I limited my search to certain locations that met living criteria for my family: location, size of community, not too far from family, etc. Fast forward October to June: 12 applications, 6 phone interviews, and 2 on-campus interviews….say hello to a new job at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. I really took the changing our default to heart and decided to uproot my entire family.

  (more…)


An Escaped Cat and Other Moving Adventures

By on June 8, 2017

I’m writing this in our new town in Kentucky! We moved last Friday and are settling in little by little. No Internet is set up at the new casa yet, so I had to come to a coffee shop to use their WiFi. (I’m not complaining…Mr. COD took Jr and Mini to a park and I’m soaking up the tranquility!) 

Bonus points if you can identify this coffee shop!

MOVING HELPERS

I still need to be rather quick with this, but wanted to update y’all on our progress. We left our home in Illinois on June 1st and closed on the new house in Kentucky on the 2nd. We utilized tons of help from friends, family, and neighbors throughout the process. My mom made the trip to our place three times in the final month in IL, and having her there for a couple of days at a time allowed me some precious packing, painting, and errand time. The last day in Illinois, I had three different local friends come over to entertain the boys at staggered times throughout the day. They were awesome, allowing me to continue packing, cleaning, going out for more storage bins, and all that fun stuff that accompanies a move. 

My amazing sister-in-law and her family showed up the night before the move. They had to drive four-plus hours from their home in Iowa to help us pack the truck, then do the entire long 7-8 hour trip to Kentucky the next day. They and their two kids were SUCH a huge blessing during the move! Ty, my nephew, mowed the lawn at the old house so it would look nicer for prospective buyers. Trista, my niece, kept an eye on the little guys for much of the time. Everyone pitched in to carry boxes, load up the monster moving truck, and finish up all those last-minute tasks we forget about until it’s time to go. 

We had (naively) hoped to be on the road by 10 AM, and of course we weren’t ready until 1:30 in the afternoon. Mr. COD and my brother-in-law, Jimmy, were especially beat from doing the bulk of the physical lifting and loading for hours on end. Then, we began getting the three felines into their carriers for the long trip. Sadie and Sasha went with minimal complaint, but then Kimchi was another story. 

AN ESCAPED CAT

Kimchi, cat number three, decided to pull a Houdini on us at the final loading time. We COULD NOT FIND HER. Keep in mind, our house was nearly completely empty by this point (except three or four furniture items we just couldn’t quite fit in the vehicles and can do without until the house sells). So you would think that finding one cat in a virtually empty house would be a pretty simple task. NOPE. She had just disappeared. 

Long story short, we had to leave without her. I know, I know! It sounds absolutely terrible. But we were already way behind schedule, were going to lose an hour on the drive, and had to close on our new house at 10 the following morning. So, we told ourselves that she must have gotten out during the moving hullaballoo, she still had all her claws, and she’d survive on her own. I texted our pet-loving neighbor two doors down to alert her to keep an eye out for our cat, and we set out on our way. Along the way, she called Mr. COD and I to let us know that escaped cat Kimchi was fine, but still IN the house! Fortunately, they got in using our old backup key hidden outdoors and brought her to live in their basement temporarily. (We’ll have to go back and retrieve the little escape artist in the next few weeks.) 

VARIOUS CRITTERS

Several large bugs and creatures showed up in the moving process. During our final walk-through of the house before closing, we found two dead birds. A third one appeared later on, when we moved the piano that came with the house. (Yay! Free piano!)

I encountered a nice wolf spider in the downstairs shower. Then, while fixing the A/C, my brother-in-law and Mr. COD met a spider they claim was four times that size! Ewwww. SOOO GLAD that I did not have to witness the thing! Jimmy had nightmares and trouble sleeping that night because of it. Teresa, my SIL, refused to go downstairs after she heard about it. 

Since then, no enormous insects have made their appearance. We do have a lot of dead bugs in the windows and corners, since the house was sitting empty for three months before we moved in. Now, the only bugs we’re really hanging out with are the variety that Junior and Mini COD are collecting on the porch and in the yard. They’re having a blast. 

inspecting lightning bugs with cousin Trista

Space to roam!

BIG PURCHASES

Unfortunately, a new house tends to require a few purchases. This one did not come equipped with a washer and dryer, so that was high on our list to get in there as soon as possible. We’d hoped to find a used one in the area, but nothing showed up, so to Lowe’s we went. In addition to the washer/dryer set, we pretty much had to get a big ol’ tractor-like mower for our ginormous yard. It’s about 1.25 acres and quite sloped, so a bigger mower is paramount. We found a marked-down one that Mr. COD approved of at Lowe’s. All three big items will be delivered next week! 

shopping helpers

Internet will cost quite a bit more as we’re somewhat rural now. We’ve definitely been missing our unlimited internet since getting into the house. We do have quite a few movies downloaded on Mr. COD’s laptop, so we’ve watched a movie a day during downtime. However, the plus side is that the boys have adjusted to less screen time. They have so much more space to run around now, both in the house and outdoors, so they’re not getting nearly as bored as they used to. 

Enjoying the playground in town!

I hope to update more on the blog once we have Internet again! What are you all up to this summer?

 

House Hunting in Kentucky

By on May 26, 2017

Oh, you guys! I am woefully behind in blogging these days, so I apologize (to myself as much as to you). Life has been a whirlwind of change, leaving little time or energy for writing, unfortunately. However, things are going swimmingly, so I cannot complain one little bit! 

Today, I thought I’d jump back into the blog with the story of our house hunting and buying in our new town. Everything is happening incredibly fast, but we also have been talking and dreaming about this move for years, so in a way, it’s been a long time coming. 

Mr. COD interviewed at Eastern Kentucky University on March 28-29th. He was offered the position (unofficially) on April 7, then officially on April 10. The following weekend was Easter, and at first we thought it would be too soon to think about housing. However, as we drove to visit some friends on that Friday, the more we talked, the more we realized we didn’t want to wait. Hence, on Easter Sunday, we loaded the kids into our van and drove south! 

COD HOUSE WISH LIST

  • At least two bathrooms. Our current home has just one, and it’s adequate most of the time, but anytime we have company, things become a little stressful. You just don’t want to have any issues when there’s only one bathroom, so a backup is desirable.
  • A more spacious house. We’re tired of every room in the house feeling too small. We don’t care about filling up every room with beautiful furniture or tons of stuff; we simply want room to breathe and not be tripping over each other all the time. Plus, since we’re moving further from all of our family, it’s important to us that we have ample room for guests to stay comfortably. We’d hate for our parents or siblings to feel they have to pay for a hotel room every time they visit.
  • Great outdoor space. With two small boys, our dream is for them to have plenty of adventures in our own back yard! Plus, we’re now extremely close to neighbors on all sides, and while those neighbors are fortunately wonderful, we’re ready for a lot more room between our house and any others.
  • Proximity to the university and the rest of town. Mr. COD’s drive to work is currently about thirty minutes, and while that’s not terrible, a shorter commute sounds great. Less driving time means more time for doing anything else! Working out, house and lawn chores, fun with the family are all better options than driving to work.  Plus, it saves moolah on gasoline!
  • Move-in ready, with some willingness to do small cosmetic changes over time. We’re not opposed to some DIY improvements such as painting and eventual appliance upgrades, but major foundational and structural issues were what we wanted to avoid. 

Mr. COD emailed a realtor for more information and managed to arrange for house showings on Monday, April 17. We’d already started browsing homes on Zillow and other sites and had a pretty good idea of what we wanted. 

Our appointment with the realtor wasn’t until afternoon, but being impatient, we just had to drive around in the morning and take a peek at a couple of houses we liked online. One of them was a stately old place in a beautiful neighborhood. Quiet, little traffic, yet just minutes from downtown. The yard sloped to give a beautiful view of nearby farms. 

We also took a gander at a home further out away from town. It was on a wooded lot and boasted a lovely screened-in porch in the backyard. Our first impressions were that it was pretty, but a bit too removed from town and neighbors, and we would prefer a place like the other one, where meeting people and plugging into community would be fairly easy. 

Our realtor turned out to be incredibly helpful and friendly, and we just loved working with her. After viewing half a dozen homes that Monday, we were 90% sure of which home we wanted. The in-town home we had originally liked best was a big fat NO after seeing the inside! It was a foreclosure, which didn’t necessarily rule it out for us, but it had extensive water damage, and the rooms were overall too small. Too much work to get it up to our standards! 

Anyway, we returned to our Red Roof Inn that evening worn out and fairly certain we wanted the country house. Though it was not perfect, it filled all of our must-have criteria. Plus, seeing the weird layout and required fixes at the foreclosure made it easy to focus back on the country house. 

It was during our dinner that night (we picked up pizza from the top-rated pizza joint in the area) that our realtor called to inform us that our #1 choice had just gotten an offer. WHAT?! Of course, that would be our luck. The house had been on the market for three months at that point, but the day we came to see it, somebody finally made an offer. 

We told our realtor we were close to making an offer and asked her to do what she could. She got the owners to wait and give us 24 hours before accepting the first offer. (We hadn’t even met with a bank to get financing set up, and planned to do that the next morning.) We spent the rest of that night anxious and worrying that we would lose the house. Meanwhile, Super Realtor was arranging additional showings for the next morning, before the bank meeting. We tried to remember that this one house was not the ONLY house we might ever like. 

TUESDAY

We looked at five or six more homes that morning. The boys, again, were troopers, amazing us with their patience in driving around, walking through houses, over and over. Nothing stood out this time, except for an incredible property further out in the country. It was beautiful and the surroundings were beautiful, but it also seemed to possess some risky structural flaws and damages. Plus, it was already out of our comfortable price range, so adding unknown repair costs was unappealing. 

Mr. COD had to meet with the banker, where he remembered he had frozen his credit (a recommendation by Clark Howard for security), so un-freezing it took a few extra minutes. I took the kids to a playground to burn off some energy, and we picked Mr. COD up after his meeting. Financing was in place! 

Next, we still had a couple more houses to see, sort of to make us really sure we wanted to put in an offer on the first country house. One was completely turnkey, with redone kitchen and bath and everything very nice, except for the loud highway noise audible from the backyard. Another had a funky layout and wasn’t a terrible house, but the location was awful. Right on a busy corner, with nearly zero yard space. It was after seeing this house that we were certain of our choice: the first country house (the first one we drove past before the realtor even got us in). 

Super Realtor went to her office to draw up the offer as we waited in our hotel room and put cartoons on for the boys. We agreed to go in at full asking price because we figured the other offer must have been low for them to wait on our offer at all. She called us around 3 PM to go to her office and sign everything. (Yikes! We were cutting it so close to get done by 5!) 

Fortunately, signing all of the offer papers was really easy. We didn’t even sign paper copies, just did it all digitally and quickly. We were armed against misbehaving children with a purse stocked with M’n’Ms and Mr. COD’s phone with downloaded movies. The boys didn’t go too wild in the office, but when they got antsy, we pulled out Angry Birds on the phone so we could finalize all the paperwork.  Everything was submitted by about 4 PM, just in time, so we breathed sighs of relief and waited. 

Junior and Mini COD watching Angry Birds in the realtor’s office

As another thank-you to the boys for putting up with all the house hunting shenanigans, we got them ice cream and cones to eat in our room. It wasn’t long before Super Realtor called back with the good news that we GOT THE HOUSE! 
I could hardly believe it. What a crazy couple of days! Just eight days after accepting a new job, we bought a new house! 

Little helpers

Now, of course, we still need to sell our current home…it’s been on the market about a week and is getting quite a few showings. Let’s hope we can celebrate its sale very soon as well. Fortunately, we have funds available and therefore aren’t relying on the house sale to purchase the new one. If we were, we’d be stuck renting a smaller place for awhile.

We should close on our new place in one week! It’s all moving so quickly, and we are super excited! 

Our future home’s screened-in porch and wooded view


A New Job For Mr. COD!

By on April 25, 2017

A new job! Yep, IT’S HAPPENING! Mr. COD has accepted a university teaching job! He’ll be joining the counselor education department of the grad school. The CODs are headin’ south, baby!  (more…)


FOMO And Our One-Year Blogiversary

By on April 14, 2017

FOMO can be a total goal-killer. That Fear Of Missing Out can cause us to buy stuff we didn’t want until we saw someone else had it. It can make us join groups and organizations even when we’re already stretched too thin. We joke about it at our church, that FOMO is what drives people to uber-participation. Overall, it has power to convince us do things we don’t really want to do. (more…)


The Death of Shopping

By on April 7, 2017

Shopping used to be entertaining. A relaxing activity. A harmless pastime. 

Except…Um…It was never harmless. 

Shopping used to numb my wounds. It made me feel like a grown-up (ironically, since I would spend money I didn’t really have, being in debt as I was). Meandering store aisles offered a cure for boredom. Shopping was a way to make myself feel better, whatever was going on. 

Students sassing back in class? A new outfit will cheer me up and help me look forward to tomorrow despite the hoodlums. 

Envious of friends getting married and having babies while I’m still single? Go buy some Twizzlers and jellybeans to scarf down in front of the TV. 

Nothing to do on Saturday afternoon? Wander the aisles of Target. You don’t need to need anything, you’ll find 817 things you didn’t even know you wanted!

A NEW MINDSET

My recent Kohl’s visit opened my eyes to how my shopping mindset has changed. 

Where I used to cross that threshold and be instantly transported into a veritable Promised Land, I now walked in purposefully. Only to spend the $20 Kohl’s cash we had earned when Mr. COD unexpectedly needed to buy a new suit for interviews. I intended to spend as little as possible, targeting that $20 mark. 

Where I used to go to Kohl’s to fill up empty time, I yearned to use up the accumulated rewards cash as quickly as possible and get out. Part of that change is due to small kids in my house; I always feel hurried to get back home on the rare occasions I get out. A smidgen of mom guilt I need to release somehow.

Where I used to be thrilled each time I received a new coupon to use at my fave store (those 30% off ones were pretty sweet), I now receive multiple offers via email daily and use them rarely, if at all. I think I purchase from Kohl’s maybe two or three times a year now, always when I need my running shoes replaced. I get the same brand and style every time and avoid the stress of trying on and debating what to choose. This is especially helpful as I need custom orthotics, which I know will fit my good ol’ standby sneaks. 

Where I once would spend 100 bucks or more, so pumped to walk out with a huge bag o’goodies, I now am a more thoughtful consumer. Even if all seven of the new shirts I bought were $7 or less due to discounts, did I actually need those new shirts? Or would I now have too many choices of what to wear, making it tougher to decide? Would I end up tossing them out a few months later due to poor quality or my capricious style whims? 

Walking around Kohl’s that day felt so foreign to me. I would have just ordered something online, but was loath to pay extra for shipping, thus, to the actual store I went. I knew I wanted a digital food thermometer because Junior COD had recently broken ours, so I made a beeline for that section. 

I found the one I wanted and grabbed some socks to use up the rest of our Kohl’s cash (it went a little bit over, but socks are always disappearing). Yeah, I know stores only offer those promos to get us back in to buy more, but at least I ended up with a necessity! Not a super exciting shopping trip, but it was just what we needed.

REASONS FOR THE CHANGED ATTITUDE (WHY HAS SHOPPING LOST ITS MAGIC?)

  1. I no longer have a job, so our household income is (duh) a lot less now. 
  2. I think of stuff my kids need more than the stuff I want. (Not always, but I’m getting there.)
  3. If we move in a few months or a year, I want to pack up as little as possible to take with us. Less shopping=less to pack and organize! 
  4. I am trying to adopt more of a “use what I have” mentality versus a “buy more” mentality.
  5. I continue to learn and relearn that just because an item is supposedly a “deal” doesn’t make it a good deal for me. 
  6. With two kids, chances to shop alone are rare, and shopping with them in tow is a chore, not fun.
  7. So many are suffering or needy in this world, and I’d rather be more able to give generously than spoil myself. 

      What’s your relationship with shopping? Have you always loved or hated it, or has your perspective changed  over time?


      Frugality Report: March

      By on March 31, 2017

      I’m not big on sharing full budget reports or anything like that here, but I do like to sum up some ways we’ve been frugal or failed in frugality each month. Perhaps our successes will spark an idea for you or our frugality foibles will encourage you. Hence, I bring you the March Frugality Report!

      Less-frugal stuff in March:

      A trip to a kids’ museum near Mrs. COD’s hometown wasn’t free. Only five buckaroos a person, though, so we were happy to pay. It brightened up one of two dreary, cold days of spring break!

      A fair amount of eating out. Nothing super expensive, but we did spend a bit there. At least we got free babysitting from the grandparents again! 
      Frugal Wins this month:

      $5 hiking boots for me courtesy of VarageSale! I love them already, and they were barely worn when I got them. 

      I ended up not running a race in my hometown that I’d been planning on. My knees were acting up, so I decided to forego the run. A bummer, since a bunch of old friends were running, but since I hadn’t yet signed up, no money was lost! 

      Free vanilla soft-serve cones at Dairy Queen! March 20th, I happened to come across an ad for their free ice cream day, so after some park time with the boys, we walked over to DQ. 

      I exercised restraint in book-purchasing this month. I’ve managed to hold back on buying a certain book I’ve been itching to get my hands on since before it was released. I was tempted again, but frugality prevailed! Maybe I’ll get lucky if I ask around among friends if I can borrow a copy. Also, I checked out Liturgy of the Ordinary from our local library. Written by Tish Harrison Warren, it’s all about the everyday occurrences that present opportunities for knowing God. Things like losing your keys, sitting in traffic, and making your bed can become spiritual experiences. I love, love, love this book, so much I nearly bought it for myself. It sometimes is a joy to mark up a real book with footnotes and underlining, and I kind of longed for that again.  However, it’s perfectly adequate to check it out again from the good ol’ library! 

      No wild St. Patty’s Day frivolity here. I made green cupcakes with the boys that day (although Junior COD tried to talk me into buying some at the store the day before). We waited until two days later to purchase some corned beef at a significant discount. 

      Our second job-interview trip included a stop at Mrs. COD’s parents’ house, which meant free lodging and a chance to visit with them. Plus, the college footed the bill for fuel expenses and one night near campus! Junior COD was so anxious to see Grandma again on the return trip that he convinced us to drive back right after the interview. So he saved us another night in a hotel–yay! 

      We’d love to hear about your own quest for frugality this month! How have you been saving money (or splurging)?


      Frugality Report: February

      By on February 28, 2017

      Awesome frugality or not, February has been a good time for us. I’m doing more freelance writing, Mr. COD is busy interviewing, we enjoyed a frugal birthday for our two-year-old, and our weather here in IL has been freaking INCREDIBLE. 

      Here are some of our frugal highlights for this month!

      • No Valentine’s Day gifts or dinner out. In typical COD fashion, we kept it low-key. I baked my heart cookies the weekend beforehand, which we enjoyed for several days (and had plenty extra to take to church). I did get a kick out of seeing the multitude of guys purchasing flowers, balloons, and candy the night before!
      • I finally went to a children’s resale shop that is literally two blocks from our house. I happened to end up there on a sale day when all clothing was $1! Wahoo! That sale scored us a bunch of stuff for Junior COD, which was great since we’re starting to run out of hand-me-downs as he grows bigger. I found two sets of swim trunks and rash guards, several shirts, a pair of pants, and some really nice sneakers for him, all for $13.50. Only the shoes were “full” price, which was $4. Much better than $15-20 or more, which is not uncommon for kids’ shoes. 
      • I refreshed my pasta-making skills a couple of times, and my technique is improving!
      •     
      • Last week I also took on (for the first time) Mrs. Picky Pincher’s homemade tortilla recipe, which was a big win! It’s a super-duper easy recipe to follow. If you want to check out her new e-book, that’s where I found this recipe (plus a ton more recipes and a detailed four-week meal plan): 
      • Slash Your Grocery Bills In 28 Days: Eat like royalty on a shoestring budget

        Tasty tortillas!

      • Mini COD’s birthday festivities were fun, but also mellow, as we’d hoped! On the actual birthday, we grilled out for lunch on our deck (never thought we’d do that for a February birthday in the Midwest). I made his cake from a boxed mix because I had one in the pantry and just wasn’t in the mood to make it from scratch. His PJ Masks figures became the cake toppers instead of getting wrapped up, and they’re perfect little toys for him. We didn’t have a party, just the four of us at home, a few presents, and cake, and it was just right. Since we’re both homebodies and slightly lazy when it comes to celebrating, and he’s too little to care, it was perfect for us! 

        that’s about as fancy as my decorating gets!

      • A trip to the children’s museum was a big hit one Saturday. It does have an admission fee, but since we squeaked in there before Mini’s second birthday, he got in for free! Woohoo!
      • The nicest weekend weather led us to Madison and the Henry Vilas Zoo, which is totally free! We met Mr. COD’s sister and her family for the day and the boys were ecstatic to hang with their cousins and aunt and uncle. It was so gorgeous out that we ate a lovely picnic by the lake as well. Super frugal fun!  

        not sure what exhibit this was…

      • Our Madison picnic view…an icy lake on a 65° day!


        the view of the zoo from the adjacent park

       

      Frugality Fails:

      • Groceries got waaaay out of hand this month, which is a bummer after we kicked some grocery budget butt during Uber Frugal January. We got lazy and got back into old habits like going to the market four days in a row. That’s what happens when we don’t plan meals and shopping! Over $500 in the shortest month of the year = dang it!
      • Along the same lines, we ate out quite a bit. Honestly, though, we’re not sorry. We found an awesome new sitter the boys love, and dating your spouse is important! Once those kiddos are grown up, it’ll be just Mr. COD and me again, so we gotta stay connected. 
      • Too many gifts for Mini COD! We gave him two resale shop board games, which were cheap, but he’s still not ready to play them. He liked the other toys we ended up buying, but a week later, they’re already largely forgotten. Plus (and this is the worst part), Junior COD was definitely watching, so he’s been sharing his birthday wish list for the past week. Whoops. We may have set too high a precedent for him that will make it harder to stay frugal and limited when he turns 4. Plus, that’s not for another three months…sigh…

      How about you guys? Any big frugal wins or flops this month? Hey, at least if we failed, it can’t be as big a gaffe as that one on Oscar night…


      Debt Payoff Story at Budgeting in The Fun Stuff!

      By on February 23, 2017

      Howdy, default changers! Today I’m excited to share my first post with Crystal’s blog, Budgeting in The Fun Stuff. Crystal is an inspiring woman who took the courageous leap several years ago to become a full-time entrepreneur through blogging and other side hustles. No longer stuck in a dead-end job, she’s changed her default to design a whole new life, which is awesome! 

      My article for today, How I Paid Off $20,000 Of Debt And Quit My Job In 7 Months explores our debt-free journey and how it’s changed our lives for the better. Here’s a snippet for ya:

      If you’ve ever tuned in to a Dave Ramsey radio show, you know how often he disparages a normal life. “Normal” to him means putting spontaneous purchases on a credit card, taking out enormous student loans, buying cars you can’t afford, and rationalizing every single stupid financial decision you make day after day.

      Let’s put the cards out on the table: I used to be that kind of normal.

      Head on over to Budgeting in The Fun Stuff for the full post

      Fun stuff for us lately: wildly warm February weather at a local playground


      Freelance Baby Steps

      By on February 21, 2017

      As you know if you’re a repeat reader of Changing Our Default, I’m a former teacher building a new part-time freelance career. It’s by no means an easy endeavor, but I’m having a ton of fun with the process.  

      Ah, my idealistic high-school senior scholarship essay! Note the emphasis on writing… I loved it then and now😀

      CURRENT EFFORTS

      I wrote every day in January (a minimum of 500 words daily), which helped get me more momentum for the blog and my freelance goals. February has been trickier; I know I’ve skipped a few days of writing due to lack of motivation and plain old fatigue.  

      I joined a Facebook group called Earn More Writing, led by Holly Porter Johnson. Besides teaching how to make money writing on a freelance basis, she often shares job leads with the group. Finding work is probably the toughest aspect of freelancing, for me, so I appreciate the leads to no end! That’s given me several potential blogs to write for, and I’ve just submitted my first staff writing piece for one of these, a personal finance blog! (This will be my first PAID blogging gig. Score one for Mrs. COD!)

      Another win so far in 2017 was the youth devotional magazine that chose four of my meditations for publication in their last round of submissions. These are also paid, so I have now officially earned my first $100 of the new year! Boy, I better watch out come tax time next spring, haha😉. 

      TIME: THE EVER-PRESENT STRUGGLE TO FIND MORE

      Of course, it is not easy fitting in a freelance business in addition to a full-time parenting job. I actually feel as if I had more time available to work on my writing passion when I was still teaching. I could sit at my desk over lunchtime or stay after school, writing or pitching clients. Of course I rarely did so when I had the opportunity. Being out of a paying job has had this strange effect on me, lighting a fire under me to MAKE THIS WRITING LIFE HAPPEN. If I could build this freelance business over the next two years into something substantial… man, that’d be amazing!

      Carving out time to write can be a tall order…

      At home, Junior and Mini COD are much more demanding bosses than my principal or students ever were, requiring my utmost attention ALL. DAY. LONG. I don’t even get bathroom breaks now. They follow me everywhere.
      Some days it is all I can do to keep the kids fed and busy all day, so I flop into bed the moment they’re finally asleep. They don’t really nap, so there goes the brilliant idea of writing while they catch a snooze. Working from my phone or tablet is OK at times, but the boys are little screen gremlins who can sense whenever I have YouTube at my fingertips and will steal my device. The phone is super handy, though; I often tap out first thoughts and drafts on it so I don’t forget ideas. I allow myself some slack once or twice a week by giving them my iPad, so I can work in relative peace for an hour or so. 

      Obviously, the bulk of my freelance writing and researching of jobs (and blogging) must take place at night after the boys are asleep. Some nights it takes two hours for Mr. COD and I to get them both to give it up for the day, so we are pretty wiped out afterwards. 

      It’s tough, but pushing myself is essential in this game. I have to write during that quiet evening time nearly every day IF I want to accomplish anything. Mr. COD has been busy with job applications lately, so he doesn’t mind keeping it quiet and peaceful. (Who am I kidding? Any parent of toddlers is thrilled to get a whole hour of peace and quiet!) 

      Some nights I find myself staying up scandalously late (we’re talking 11:30, midnight here) since that’s the only way to get my thoughts flowing and polished. Mr. COD is out long before me, so I can fully concentrate on my work. I cannot expect to make any decent strides in my writing career without sacrificing some other things, namely, sleep! 

      OTHER FREELANCE AVENUES

      While writing is my primary focus, I’m also exploring a few other areas in freelancing. Proofreading is of interest. I met with a friend who is a romance writer to discuss some of the tasks she and her author friends need done. They’ve used beta readers to check up on the story and plotlines, another editor to create a character Bible listing all pertinent traits and connections within their books, plus copy editors and proofreaders. 

      Since I enjoy editing and proofreading but have no professional experience, I’m going to offer my services to these friends for free in exchange for the experience and (I hope) positive feedback. If that practice and networking help get me in the door, that’ll be another fun side hustle to pursue!

      THE DREAM

      Giving up sleep, putting in tons of hours that might lead nowhere, slogging it out writing for free or for pennies a word. Why would all of this appeal so much to me? 

      Because I LOVE IT. I do. I absolutely love writing. I love the work and the stress of the blank page and the hours of solitude. Writing is what fills my soul. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. When I’m exhausted from arguing with a three-year-old (hint: grown-ups can’t win those debates) or cooking or tripping over dinosaur toys, I still long to get to my writing. It’s my craft, it’s my passion, it’s me. 

      Stay tuned for further updates on my freelancing escapades! If you’re a side-hustler, what’s your field and how’s it going? Let’s cheer each other on in the comments!