Author Archives: Darcy Cronin

About Darcy Cronin

I'm a Mother/Coach/Blogger/Business Adventurer from Portland OR. My family consists of my Hubby of 12 years, our 8yo Kieran, 5yo Makenna, and 1yo Teagan. I love dreaming about a better future, and making it happen.

Feeling Under Water

Underwater worldOur home is no longer truly “under water,” but the irony is that now I feel like it is. (See my previous Vent Tunnel).

We bought our home in June 2008, just a month before the market completely crashed. At the time we simply felt lucky that we were able to sell our starter home for such a profit. We bought for $195k, which was the median price in Portland back in 2004, and we sold for $265k. We felt like we put a lot of sweat equity into the yard and some cash into making it much energy efficient, but it was still a sweet return on investment.

We poured every penny of profit into our next home, which we bought for $422k at the height of the bubble. Even though it wasn’t a bargain, we felt very lucky to have managed the move when we did. Some of our neighbors who listed just after us had their homes sit on the market all summer never to sell, and two years later we saw a very similar house around the corner from our old place on the market for $190k. Boy am I glad we’re past those times.

In December 2010, just over a year after moving in, we decided to refinance, which required an appraisal. It came in very low, $372k, a full $50k below what we bought our place for. At the time we took this news in stride, simply feeling grateful for just owning (or rather being able to buy) our home during such unsteady financial times . We also didn’t plan on moving in the foreseeable future, so it didn’t feel like a problem as long as we were happy in our home and able to pay the mortgage.

In the years since, I’ve been glad to see the market improve but honestly haven’t given much thought to the value of our home. Yet, after going house shopping for Miel in early fall, we started seriously considering moving, even to the point of finding a four bedroom place near Irving Park that we felt would be perfect us. So, we started taking steps to list our place, but were stopped in our tracks.

We were honestly shocked when our Realtor informed us that our house should be listed for $450k (which still feels very conservative). Yet, the comparative market value is really hard run since there aren’t many home like ours so close-in (and the fact that there are still plenty of fixers in our neighborhood doesn’t help). Zillow puts our place at $497k, and we frankly feel it’s worth that.

It’s not the estimated of our home that makes me suddenly feel under water, it’s the fact that in order for us to keep our current mortgage we could only afford a place for around $430k, when had been hoping to buy for about $650k. Plus, we just put on a new roof for $10k and our other repairs and upgrades at least total that much. So, that’s why the idea of putting our place on the market for $450 feels like a slap in the face.

After a month, I’m finally able to move past this feeling of defeat (it didn’t help that after paying several thousand trying to make our basement dry, it flooded worse than ever with the rains…ugh). Now I’m feeling reinspired, and ready to get to work on some improvements that will in fact improve our home’s value.

Has your home ever been under water?

How did you get past that sinking feeling? 

Darcy

My First $75 Speaking Gig

$75 check for my first paid speaking gig!

$75 check for my first paid speaking gig!

Last week I had my first $75 speaking gig. I shared an introduction to Simplicity Parenting with a fantastic group of parents from Tillamook Cooperative Preschool. Receiving a check written out to Darcy’s Utopia felt like a big deal, regardless of the amount. With all my training and prep, I feel like I’ve more than earned it.

I’ve never told anyone, but from an early age I felt a premonition that someday I would become a professional public speaker. As a freshman I entered a speech contest, and I think that year I placed third sharing why I thought that organic labeling should become mainstream. I ended doing better in debate than solo, but both obviously require speaking. In college, I was passionate about climate change and joined a speaker’s bureau where I gave several talks on college campuses. I found that the more that I shared my personal story, the better my talks would go, and even though I could explain the science of global warming, it was my passion for stopping it that shone through and compelled others to care.

Yet, in my first job out of college I had a dreadful experience of stuttering my way through a press conference with complete cotton mouth. I was mortified, and it’s taken me years to truly get over that deer-in-the-headlights feeling.

My presentation for Tillamook Preschool went well, and it felt like suuuuchh a long time a-coming. The parents were receptive and engaged, and several gave me genuine thank yous following my talk. With just an hour, I barely managed to skim the surface of SP, but I’m hopeful that I planted some seeds for a few families.

Speaking of seeds, that’s been my business mantra as I’ve taken actions holding hope that my seeds would someday sprout. Thanks how change works, it takes action and patience. My invitation to speak first came from an outreach email that I sent the school last spring, which also resulted in my first coaching client.

With my first true speaking gig under my belt, I’m ready to continue to hone my skills. I’ll give Toastmasters a try, and see where things go…just the idea of getting paid to speak makes me smile. Getting paid for your passion is what the new economy should be about.

Darcy

My Financial Vent Tunnel

I haven’t been blogging lately, and I know that it’s in part because I’ve been frustrated by our finances. There are a combination of factors, none of which ease the stress. I naturally wish that everything was ideal, and the disconnect between my desires and reality is getting under my skin. I realize that it’s time start using this blog to vent as well as to dream.

One of the clever tools I use in my Mama Bliss Coaching is to create a “Vent Tunnel” where you create a safe space to simply rant about whatever is bothering you. So, here it goes:

  1. After writing a lovely little article about being a “Budget Believer” for Metro Parent, I haven’t managed to update my own budget. I had the best of intentions when I wrote the article to rebuild our budget. Initially I waited because I knew that our August vacation budget didn’t reflect our real budget, but then September flew by and now October is half over. I’m feeling a tiny bit better after I just spent the last hour taking the first stab at it. But I’ve been feeling like a major fraud though, and I know it’s going to take diligence to heed my own sage advice…
  2. We’ve spent too much money on our 1904 Victorian. When I left my City paycheck, we agreed that we couldn’t afford to take on major home improvements. But the winter storms left of with a small leak in our roof, and it was old enough that a patch job didn’t feel sufficient. Then, despite us trying multiple different fixes over the years, our basement has continued to leak with each major rain storm. It’s made it impossible for us to make it into a livable family space. So, we committed once again to spend more money to at least make it dry. There’s more to this story, but I think I need a whole post to vent on it…
  3. In the process of Miel searching for her new Portland home, I ended up touring lots of beautiful places in nearby Irvington. Our kids transferred into Irvington School, but we have to walk them “across the tracks” of MLK to get there (the italics are for Kevin, who loves to use this phrase, but it makes me cringe). We’ve been truly happy in our home for the past six years, and there are still so many things that I love about our place. Yet, the location has felt awkward ever since the kids started in school. Aside from a long walk, it’s the fact that there’s only one set of boys for them to have impromptu play dates with. Makenna, and soon Teagan, have no one within a reasonably nearby radius to play with. I know that it sounds ludicrous and probably very privileged to want to move homes for social reasons, but Kevin and I would love to have more community friends too. There are other factors too, like that we could really use some more guest space, and I’ve had a goal of hosting exchange students when the kids are a bit older, but that can’t happen our current home. More of a story on this too…
  4. I need a part-time nanny. Teagan is very close to toddling around on her own. I spent a lot of time off during the summer, and I knew that my windows of available work time were getting shorter and shorter. Plus, with ramping up my coaching, I need to have truly uninterrupted appointment times available. I was planning to hire someone in September, but then with Miel moving out, we decided to share a nanny and are hopefully close to doing so. But there is also the obvious need to afford the nanny. Thankfully, we’re finally starting to earn from our investment in the beach cabins. Yet, I had been doing coaching alone, it would have continued to feel like a chicken/egg syndrome of needing the kid-free time in order to work, but needing the income to afford the care.
  5. We’re in serious need of a Money Honey talk, but I feel like since I’ve been “off work” our money conversations end up being all about how I spend too much money. Yes, I did go on a spending binge back in the spring, but I’ve kept my spending in check for the past six months. Yet, I feel like Kevin is constantly “accusing” me of spending on things that are within our budget, and worse than that is the feeling like I’m not contributing financially to our household and am therefore undeserving. I am sooooo ready to start making some real cash, and I know that my desire to earn is linked to my sense of self worth. I’m tired of feeling like I can’t fully live the life I want.

It feels great to get this off my chest, even though I still need to dig deeper and share more on many aspects. While I know that I’m opening myself up to criticism, I would rather share our full story than unpersonal finance tips.

What does your “Vent Tunnel” look like?

Darcy

Becoming A Mama Bliss Coach

This quote captures the essence of creating Mama Bliss and sharing your passion with your family and beyond...

This quote captures why/how creating Mama Bliss for ourselves inspires our children and beyond.

I can hardly believe that I haven’t written about becoming a Mama Bliss Coach on this blog (I was honestly too busy with coaching school/practice). In June I completed a 12-week course that taught me all about becoming a life coach. The training reinforced the path I’ve been on as a Simplicity Parenting Coach (check out my debut interview with OMamas). It also taught me specific new coaching tools to work with Mamas on their path to creating more bliss. Mama Bliss Coaching delves into four personal areas of your life:

  • Self-care
  • Simplicity
  • Values
  • Creativity

I like to think of them as a hierarchy of needs, only it’s all about creating your unique version of Mama Bliss. Creating genuine Mama Bliss is about going deep within to get honest with yourself to ask where you are your life now, and where you want your family be…and then bridging that gap. Asking yourself who you are now, and who you know you can become. It’s a delicate balance of dealing with the chaos of your daily life, and persistently working toward your longer term vision. Finding ways to cherish the moment, express yourself creatively and discover what truly brings you bliss.

It’s about not getting trapped in the modern day “Busy Mama Syndrome” of doing everything for everyone else but yourself…since that gerbil wheel will only take you so far really. It’s about creating a clear vision of what you most desire and finding ways to fulfill your purpose. While I talk all about “Mamas,” it’s really about your whole self who happens to be a Mama.

Mama Bliss Coaching is a collaborative process where we work together to look at the areas of your life that currently cause you stress and gradually bring more and more bliss into your life. It’s a process, not a magic pill. But let me tell you, once you’ve begun the path toward Mama Bliss, it’s hard to turn back to the grind.

Now that I’ve found my calling, my work brings me joy. Rather than feeling like work, I’ve felt elated after each and every coaching session. Yes, I’ve felt overwhelmed at times by the amount of effort it takes to launch a business and keep my family running, I have a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that I am ready, willing and able to serve fellow mamas on their own paths of professional and personal self-discovery. I’ve attracted some amazing working professionals as clients, and am excited about supporting them as they reach their higher vision for themselves and their families.

Lastly, I want to share two exciting updates.

One, my very first podcast interview with my coaching school teacher, Ms. Kathy Stowell from Bliss Beyond Naptime. I feel eternally grateful to have found this coaching program when I did (last winter I was feeling pretty disappointed by the fact that leading Simplicity Parenting classes was just not the right model for the clients I want to reach…plus that I wanted to help transform the whole mama, not just the “parenting mama”). And thank you to my inspiring cohort of fellow Mama Bliss Coaches, a truly inspiring and impressive bunch of colleagues.

Second, I’ve just posted info about my very first Mama Bliss Beach Retreat, November 14-16. I’ve been hyping this up in my mind for sooooo long, envisioning the whole beautiful experience and can hardly wait to make this part of my dream come true…hopefully with you!

Wishing you Mama Bliss!

Darcy

Cloth Diapering System…3rd Time’s a Charm!

Cloth diapers are not as difficult as our society makes it out to be. Sure, disposable diapers can be convenient, and I use them myself about 10-15% of the time. But once you’ve set up a convenient system, using cloth only really adds a load of laundry every 5-7 days. With all the laundry my family requires, I hardly notice the extra effort.

There is a bit of a learning curve to get a system that works for you. Using cloth diapers has become a lost art and parents need to find resources in order to demystify things. 


I was actually talked out of using cloth with my Big Guy, by a friend who works in the environmental field. I ended up using G-Diapers as a middle ground, but had mixed results. Here’s my Diaper Duty story for #1 and #2. 


Now that Miel has recently had her first child in June, I’ve been asked to reflect once again on my diapering experience.


Here are the three steps to setting up a diapering system:

  1. Start cloth diapers at about 12 pounds (which obviously depends on baby’s size)
  2. Buy a mix of “all-in-one” diapers for mostly night time and wraps for the days
  3. You need a few more supplies to set up your system (see list below)

1. This third time around using cloth diapers has felt like second nature. I started when Sweetie had grown out of of size 1 disposables, at about 12 pounds. Almost all of my diapers are made to grow with her and can expand with snaps. Starting at just after the newborn stage will save you money on diapers that you would only use for a month. Plus, it also gives you a chance to settle into parenthood with the new little person you’ve just created. 

2. In an effort find the “right diaper” I ended up buying several different brands. This made it more complicated than necessary, since each diaper has it’s own nuances. Take my advice, and just buy the one brand that works, I really like the
Thirsties Duo Wrap and BumGenius works great too. 

3. You’ll need more than just cloth diapers. The good news is that some of the items you can repurpose once you are done diapering. Here’s my list:

  • Air tight 5 Gallon Eco Bucket with a lid
  • Two smaller Airtight Containers With a Handle (I used these to transport diapers to/from daycare, but at home they are handy to have for changing diapers on different floors)
  • Flushable BioLiners diaper liners make dumping poop much easier. You don’t need to start using until you introduce solids and their poop firms up. These were a game changer for cloth diapering! (It is doable to go without, but it sure is messier…)
  • Oxygen bleach and essential oils to add to wash loads
  • A dedicated laundry basket for fresh diapers

Once you have your supplies set up, the system is really easy…catching your toddler for a diaper change is the real challenge! 

What does your diaper system consist of?

Darcy