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.

Energy of Money Homework

It’s been another busy family month for us, but I’ve been trying to stay on top of our finances.  I’m three quarters through a really well written and engaging book:  The Energy of Money: A Spiritual Guide to Financial and Personal Fulfillment .

The author is a psychologist who was duped into a pyramid scam, and randomly contacted by the press to find out “why would someone invest in such a get-rich-quick scam?!” She outed herself publicly as one of the scam victims, saying “It was greed.” Suddenly everyone was coming to her with money related issues/baggage. She soon realized that the taboo subject of money pervades everyones’ lives, and people need help getting to the root of their own personal hang-ups. So, she started a course called You and Money, fast forward 15 years and thousands of participants, and that’s her hands on research for writing the book.

Nemeth goes in depth into 12 principles, and I’m on the part about identifying where you are leaking money. While I’ve been much better in the past year, I know I still have room for improvement. She’s also given me a new perspective on listening to my own internal justifications or rationalizations for spending money. So I’m looking forward to the insights I might gain from doing two of her challenges:

  1. Physically write down every thing you spend money on and note the method (cash/debit/card/check)
  2. Balance our “check book” to the penny (even though I’m keeping better tabs now, I still can’t claimed that our family finances are balanced to the penny!)

The Energy of Money is far more practical than new-agey.  But the book is right up my alley, because I would admittedly much rather a spiritual/self help than a personal finance book! (See Geography of Bliss and Infinite Possibilities) I’ll give you a full review when I’m done reading.

Have you read the book or taken the You and Money course?
I’d love to hear your experience!

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Kids Learn On Transit

I always focus on the environmental and economic benefits when  I’ve talked about our avid bus riding family, and it is true that we save a lot of money this way. But I haven’t mentioned the many learning/social perks we experience on our daily bus/MAX adventures.

I used to call people I met on transit my “bus/train friends”, but with a family I’ve taken to calling them our “bus community.”  As any parent knows, kids are great icebreakers. People are always ready to strike up a conversation if you have a child in tow.   When our Big Guy was a baby, I called the women who would coo over him his harem. Now Girly has her own group of friends she loves to wave and say hello to…the high school boys really love the attention 😉

No matter which bus we catch, we almost always cross paths with someone we “know”. Last week I met several regulars who we hadn’t seen in a while who mentioned how big the kids are getting. If I get on the bus without one of the kids people will ask if someone sick, and I’ve even been approached while waiting by myself with people asking where the kids are!

But beyond the social aspects, there are lots of other lessons.

Bussing teaches kids geography – our kids know our neighborhood and city from riding transit. They don’t go from one curb to another in a bubble, but know the street names that the bus drivers call out. He showed his Auntie the whole way to his school on the and led her to the post office too!

Taking transit helps kids experience the environment – kids love seeing the world anew each day, and ours just love crossing the river each sunrise and sunset. Girly waves emphatically as she calls out “wa wa”. They also get to experience all the weather of the seasons…we love dry weeks like this one!

Exercise – we all get a little exercise from riding the bus. We only have a 2-3 block walk, but from small kids and parents with lots to tote, this is enough to feel like a trek. Plus, you’ll often see me running with Girly on my hip to catch the next bus…she giggles hysterically every time too 🙂

You may think it’s a stretch, but taking transit can teach early reading and math skills. Big Guy knows all the bus names and numbers, loves reading the countdown until the comes…”only four minutes Mommy!!” I have no doubt that as his time telling skills get better, he’ll be figuring out what time need to catch the bus on time – talk about real life problem solving.

There are occasions of unsavory urban activities on the bus, but I’ve never felt unsafe. In fact, the closest was when a belligerent woman was having a hard time staying in her seat and other rider quickly came to aide to make sure she didn’t come any closer. And earlier this winter the front porch of an abandoned house at our bus stop temporarily became a defacto shelter, but it was really just another teachable moment. I love the fact that they see people from all cultures and socio-economic classes, they are all part of our community.

While we haven’t gone car free, I really appreciated this article about how  transit is good for kids . I knew that I was making the right choice when we happened to be in stuck in a car in traffic, and our Big Guy spotted some buses and shouted “Mommy there would be a lot more cars with those buses! They take away all the pollution!” That’s an important lesson at any age.

Now you may be thinking, sure bussing is fun for kids, but how does Mom/Dad manage it? My mantra is snacks – must have lots of snacks, plus water, and a cloth handkerchief. Sometimes we bring books or toys, but typically we just talk, sing songs, and enjoy each other’s company. I’ll take cuddling with my kids any day over driving downtown!

Riding the bus is a priceless routine for our family.

Lastly, here’s another perspective from my favorite transit mom blogger called “The sane person’s guide to bringing kids on public transit.”

Do you ride the bus with your kids?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Sound Roots Birthday Party

Our once little guy, Kieran Adams turns 5 today!
Happy Birthday Big Guy!!

We celebrated the kids’ birthdays at Sounds Roots, but before I share more about the celebration, there’s a bit of a back story.

It happens that five kids have birthdays within two weeks of each other in his class. I should have known it, but it turned out that three parties were planned for the same day! After considering my options, I ended up calling one of the other mothers to see if she was open to joining forces for a combined party. Thankfully, she said that she had thought about asking earlier, and they were happy to celebrate together.

We shared expenses and hosting duties. I brought snacks (pirate booties, Barbara’s cheese puffs, pretzels, raisins and yogurt covered raisins). I also brought our supply of reusable plates, cups, and silverware.  The extra bonus was that she is way better at cupcakes than I am, and the kids loved the chocolate on chocolate with sprinkles! She also brought coffee for the adults, which was much appreciated.

But it was the music that was the highlight for everyone! 

We had Mo Phillips, and he’s just the guy you want for a rockin’ party. He really does a great job of getting to know his audience, and engaging the kids in whatever they are into. He takes all the crazy kid energy and turns it into music. They have lots of tambourines, shakers, and hand drums for the kids to play themselves too. He sets up a couple of microphones for the kids to sing along with, and our Big Guy belted out “The Yellow Submarine” a couple of times. Then, after getting them buzzed on sugar, they opened up their adjacent blue room. There the kids could jam on electric guitars, keyboards and a big drum set. Fair warning – it can get pretty loud, but the cacophony is worth seeing them all live out their young rock star dreams! 

Quick low down on the cost – $150 for 2 hour rental, after 8 kids each extra is $13.

Like last year, we did a book exchange – which is a great way to avoid the chaos and clutter of presents. If you’re in b-day party research, I wrote more about celebrating a “green” birthday last year. 

Next year I hope to make some reusable party napkins too!

How do you celebrate your kid’s birthday?
How much do you spend?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

WaterSense Toilet upgrade

This past Sunday, Hubby and I spent the day buying and installing a new toilet for our upstairs bath. We weren’t planning on investing in such a home improvement just yet, but we were forced into it. 

When EcoMaids came for their first cleaning, they found a slow leak outside the toilet…who knows how long it had been dripping! We attempted to fix it, and thought we had…until a few months later they returned to find the leak was back…apparently none of us pay much attention to the space behind our toilet! But then last week EcoMaids returned to find the leak dripping even faster! We were tired of trying to trouble shoot ourselves, and since our toilet was an old water hog, we didn’t feel it was even worth calling a plumber.

So, the only question was, which toilet should we buy?

We new that we wanted a WaterSense certified toilet (they are actually third party tested). But I got some advice from my friends in the Portland Water Bureau’s conservation group. I know they can’t endorse any particular brand or company, but they suggested A-Boy Plumbing, and mentioned Toto among the top rated brands. (Since purchasing/posting I found a NW Renovation article on choosing a toilet by the owner of A-Boy). I also asked if there was any other feature I should look for in a dual flush toilet. I was a little surprised to learn that dual flush toilet may not necessarily be that much more efficient than the new High Efficiency Toilets. But it made sense to me that initial research is showing the when you average out the .8/1.6 flush with a 1.28 gallon single flush, it’s pretty much a wash. 

This was happy news, since we didn’t really want to spent a ton on a toilet. There was really cheap (under $150) dual flush model, but once we started talking with the sales woman about what you get for your money, we opted for an affordable higher end toilet. Later I spoke with a friend, and she told me about a retched toilet nightmare that wasn’t fully enameled, so I’m already glad about your choice to avoid the plumber/plunger at all cost!

We chose the Toto Eco-Drake. Lucky for us the round bowl cost less, and this was all our bathroom could fit. We were instantly sold on the  slow self-closing, non-pinching model,  given that our old toilet seat was a heavy one that would crash regularly. This will be ideal for young kids!  It cost us $267, including the SoftClose seat and the $3 wax ring.  

Our real savings came from installing the toilet ourselves.  Our research showed that Lowe’s would charge you $198.  Neither Hubby or I are very mechanical, but it was really straight forward. We watch a 4 min how-to video, and followed the basic directions. It took until around an hour, and we even managed to finish the job with Girly giggling on top of us while tightening the tank to the bowl!  It feels really good to get the project done at almost half the initial price.

But we will also see long term savings in our water/sewer bill, and this  Toilet Fact Sheet estimates that in Portland the savings for a family of four could be $300 a year…just like our insulation, it makes me wish we had done this sustainable home improvement sooner.

Also, in case all you need is to fix your toilet, here are some helpful how-to videos.

Have you invested in a High Efficiency Toilet yet?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.