Six reasons I didn’t get my post done for today

I even had a topic for today’s blog, but I just ran out of time to actually write it. Here are some of the reasons why…

PTA FestivalTubs of Fun

I am in the midst of organizing our biggest PTA fundraiser of the year – a four-hour long spring festival.

Employee Search

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I’ve been searching through a mountain of resumes trying to weed out the horrible ones so my husband can find an new office assistant.

Cold

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I’ve had a cold since last Thursday. When I am not napping, I have been doing all those other things.

PTA Budget

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It is the time of year for each PTA to propose a budget for next year. As treasurer, I am in charge of the one for the middle school, but then again as president (and former treasurer) for the elementary, I had a lot to do on for the elementary school PTA budget too.

Robotics Competition Volunteer

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I spent all day Saturday at a Robotics competition my daughter was competing in. They needed volunteers and since I don’t seem to know how to say no….

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Yep, gotta make sure the kids get that stuff done and off to violin lessons for Jase.

The A-to-Z challenge is up next month so I will have to save my intended topic for after that.

Teaching our kids to not spend more money than they have

Not all children get an allowance but one of the reasons we began giving Jase and Lexie one is to teach them about money. They need to learn about saving and not spending more than you have/make. Each week, they get a small amount put on their FamZoo debt card.

While they do not get paid for general chores such as keeping their room clean, putting away laundry, or emptying the dishwasher, we do offer them other opportunities to earn additional money such as mowing the grass or working at my husband’s law firm.

Jase is good about knowing how much he has in his account and carefully considering a purchase beforehand. He likes keeping a larger amount of money on hand and often is willing to do extra work for more money.

Lexie on the other hand is the “I have money, I should spend it” type person. Almost as soon as she gets her allowance on Saturday, she wants to spend it. We had to set a requirement that she keep at least $5 in her account or I am sure it would often be at zero. Especially with her, I want her to learn at a young age to live within her means and to always keep some savings on hand.

This past summer, I sat the kids down and we went over household expenses and why you need to have money in savings. Lexie is a dog-lover so pointing out that she might need money to pay for an emergency with her favorite pooch did have an impact. But, at the age of 10, it is hard to imagine those type of worries when all she wants to do is buy something to make her happy now.

And that impulse is where she went wrong in February. The good thing about the debt card is that once they buy something at the store or on Xbox, the money is immediately withdrawn. They cannot spend more than they have in their account. It will simply decline the purchase.

But when purchasing on iTunes, we have Family Sharing set up so that if one of us purchases an app, we all can download it and not have to buy it again. That worked well when the kids bought games they both wanted to play. The problem is to do have the Family Share, we can only list one credit card on the account. So, when Lexie purchases something, it doesn’t automatically get withdrawn from her account. She must tell me about the purchase, and I take the money out of her account. So, the accuracy of her FamZoo account is reliant on her telling me about her purchases in a timely manner.

One day in February, Lexie had $21 in her account. In a buying spree of purchasing in-app items, she ended up spending $26. Problem one is that she spent more than she had. Problem two was she didn’t tell me about the purchases. Two days later, she went on another spending spree and bought $30 worth of stuff.

Now, she did tell us about the last purchase – sort of. She came in saying she bought two thing that were each $4.99 and then casually mentioned that earlier she had bought a few other things. She made it sound like she spent about $20 worth of stuff. When I looked up her purchases, I realized she had spent WAY over what she had. Even if she had checked her account before she made her purchases (which she didn’t, she had been going off her memory of what was in her account), in both instances she shouldn’t have spent the amounts she did.

I immediately suspended her FamZoo debt card. But that only would stop her from making a purchase on Xbox or at a store. It wouldn’t stop her from buying stuff from the iTunes store when she was on her iPad, so I took away her App store. She could no longer even download free apps.

So, after many discussions about spending and her doing extra work – even going into my husband’s work for a full Sunday afternoon – she paid back what she had spent. And after two weeks or so, I unlocked her account which had about $13 in it.

Now can I say that she learned her lesson? I don’t know. We will have to see if she makes that mistake again. We have warned her that there will be stiffer penalties if she does that again. But I can say that she has not changed her spending ways. Within a few days, she had her account down to the $5 minimum required balance. But at least this time, she came to me BEFORE she made any of her purchases to make sure it was okay to do so.

Hopefully, over time this lesson will sink in before it is something more important like rent or food that she needs to buy that she can’t because she has spent all of her money on other things.

My #AtoZChallenge topic for this year

This year is the 10th anniversary of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and my sixth year doing the challenge.

For those of you, who haven’t heard about it, the A to Z challenge is a challenge for bloggers to post every day in April (except Sundays). Every day (Monday through Saturday) is matched with a letter of the alphabet. On the first day, you write about a topic that begins with A, the next day B and so on.

Now the organizers suggest you come up with a theme to help you get through the challenge. The first year, I didn’t pick a theme. The next year, I did a theme of TV shows followed by characters in 2016, antagonists in 2017 and last year it was songs about magic.

The key is to pick something that you will be able to find something for each letter. There are some hard letters – Q, X and Z in particular.

As a fantasy author, I like to connect my topics to something related to writing (characters/antagonists) or fantasy (magic). This year, I have chosen to write about character flaws. It doesn’t matter if you are writing about your hero or the villain – every character needs a flaw or two (or three or more). So, from being bossy to greedy to vain, I will cover flaws your character might have.

Those of you who want to know more about the challenge or to sign up, click here. And you can look for my A to Z challenge posts about Character Flaws beginning April 1st.

Requiring my kids stick with a club or sport but not that they do one

The other day, Lexie called me from the school before her robotics club met. She announced she wanted to quit. This was two weeks before their competition in which she is one of 10 students chosen to compete. I told her no and sent her on to her meeting.

Our rule has always been that once our kids start a sport or activity, they are required to finish out that session, season or semester. In this case, I knew Lexie’s desire to quit might be due to a disagreement she had with her teammates, though on a few other occasions she had mentioned not liking Robotics.

Part of the reason she was in the club was I had encouraged – okay she would say insisted – that she join an activity this school year. I don’t typically require my kids do a sport or activity, but as this is her last year of elementary school, I wanted her involved in some group. The previous year she had been in choir but didn’t like it enough to do it this year.

So, I guess the question is should you require your kids to do a sport or activity? Jase recently was filling out an application for the National Junior Honors Society. They don’t just look for good grades but also consider how much volunteering and extracurricular activities you have done, And while in the past I have encouraged Jase to join a school group if he found one that interested him, he hadn’t done much in middle school and felt a little inadequate about his lack of involvement in activities, even though he was able to list orchestra and karate.

So back to the question at hand. There are always stories of successful people that praise their parents for making them stick with an activity whether it be drum lessons or Girl Scouts. Sometimes parents do know best and can see the benefits that a child, who would rather stay home and play video games, cannot see.

With sports, there is the added benefit of the physical activity. I know my own kids probably don’t get enough exercise. A sport would be an easy way to ensure that. Lexie has done gymnastics and Jase has done karate and soccer.

Team sports offer many benefits. It can build confidence, teach social skills and establish longer term healthy lifestyle habits. Studies have shown that kids who play sports are less likely to be overweight, abuse drugs or alcohol in later years or to perform badly in school.

But my kids are not that interested in playing sports. I’ve let them try different ones – always with the caveat that they finish out the season. Some parents push their kids into sports because they did them in their youth or because they feel that is what the child should be doing or perhaps because their kid is naturally good at it.

And while there is nothing wrong with encouraging a kid to get involved in something that might scare them a bit or takes them away from playing video games, parents shouldn’t force kids to do a sport that they truly do not like. If you want to require a sport or some physical activity, be flexible enough to allow your child to explore what might interest them. If they don’t like team sports, they might be interested in swimming, golf, tennis or martial arts. There are plenty of sports that can help develop great skills and keep children active without the pressure of a team environment.

But some kids just don’t excel at sports. And while I want my kids to be active, I have not required they do a sport. To ensure that all their time isn’t spent playing video games, I encourage them to look at camps in the summer and the activities offered through school. If they show an interest in something not offered at the school, we look into activities or classes outside of school. And when they do pick something, I do require them to follow through with that activity through the season, set of lessons/classes or semester. So for now, Lexie is sticking with Robotics, at least through the competition which is this weekend. As for next year, I don’t think she will want to return to Robotics, but she will be at the middle school and have a whole new group of clubs and organizations to consider joining.

How long does it take to write a novel?

Many aspiring authors might wonder how long it will take them to write that novel they have running around in their head. That could depend on quite a few things.

It will depend on how well you have your novel planned. If you have already developed the characters and have a solid outline, it will take you less time than if you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type writer who has very little planned in advance.

How long it takes to write a novel, depends on the type of novel you are writing. A romance set in your hometown will take less planning than a sci-fi thriller set on another world. If you need to do research or build whole worlds you will need to do more work before you can begin writing.

Let’s say that all this is already done, and you are ready to write. How long it will take will depend on how much time you have to write. If you squeeze in your writing time here and there, you may only get an hour or so done a day. If you don’t have kids or a job and can write all day long, you will of course get done much faster.

And of course, the length of the novel – 70,000 words verses 150,000 words – will make a difference in how long it takes to write your novel.

If you want to write a 70,000-word novel and can write 1,000 words in an hour, it is going to take 70 hours to write a rough draft – and this doesn’t include any thinking time. Personally, I find it hard to write 1000 words of my novel in an hour. I can whip out a 500-word blog in less than an hour but for some reason it always takes me longer when I am working on my book. Perhaps it is because I am not writing to meet a goal as some other authors do. Some authors write just for the sake of writing that first draft and then discard a lot of it when they work on their second draft. I have the habit of writing and editing at the same time so it of course is going to take me longer to write.

But back to the example of a 70,000 word novel. Let’s play with several scenarios.

Example #1:

You write one hour a day, 5 days a week. If you are writing 1,000 words a day, you would be done with your first draft in 14 weeks (or 3 ½ months).

Example #2:

You write here and there but certainly not 1,000 words a day. Maybe you only average 600 words a day. It will take you 117 days to write your book. If you are able to do that daily, it will take 17 weeks (a little over 4 months). Obviously, if you aren’t able to write daily it would take you even longer.

Example #3:

You write 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. This is your only job. If you can crank out 1,000 words an hour, you would be done with your first draft would be done in less than 2 weeks! But if you aren’t churning out 8,000 words a day (whether it takes you longer to formulate your ideas or you get distracted by social media or YouTube), you may be doing half that amount in a day. You are still done with your novel in just a month.

As you can see, every author will have different writing circumstances. You will hear stories of novels that were written in very short times while others can take years and years to write. You may hear about famous authors who crank out novels on a regular basis or read that some Indie authors can get one done in three months while others will say it takes about a year. It all depends on too many variables – genre, experience, length of novel, and of course how many hours a day the writer is working.

So, don’t compare yourself to others. Write your way – whether that is daily for hours on end or a bit here and there. You will get there at your own rate. And remember, you can’t publish a novel if you don’t write.