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The Year I Aged 10 Years

August 16th, 2018 at 06:04 pm

Yesterday a car blew a tire and careened across like 5 lanes of freeway, right in front of me. By some miracle no cars were hit and they managed to keep control and steer the car to the shoulder. This is like the third time I've seen a car do this during this year. I remember like -0- times ever before that.

This year is going to be the death of me!

Heart Attack #2 was when MM(15) Was at gymnastics and MH called me sounding panicked and asking about the emergency room. I am just waiting for him to break his head, so I had a little heart attack. In the end, he broke his toe before class really started. He said he just jumped up onto the tumble track, hit his toe on some ledge, and broke it. You don't know how relieved I was to hear it was just his toe. In the end, no one was in the emergency room and they took him right away.

He did actually need it reset, and I think this probably worked out for the best that we rushed him to ER. It would have been easy to presume he could wait until morning. Or maybe another Doctor wouldn't have felt an X-ray was necessary. We've already maxed out our deductible, so I feel *shrugs* about it financially. I had kept my crutches specifically for him.

This is my complete daredevil child. He is also completely charmed and this is his first bone break. I can't believe he wasn't even tumbling when he got hurt. Phew!

About 5 minutes after that my parents called me because they were worried about family friend. He fell and wasn't found for several days. This was a couple of months ago. He just got home from rehab on Saturday and we got him settled; he lives an hour away from all of us (half way between my parents and us). Anyway, no one had heard from him for a couple of days and my parents were feeling all sorts of guilt about things they didn't do to help him. (They didn't charge his phone and remembered they should have left it more within his reach. Stuff like that). In the end, he was okay. Phew!! But my nerves were pretty shot by this point.

It's not any one thing this year. It's the constant emotional roller coaster and barrage of bad news. The work situation wouldn't be half as bad if everyone was actually healthy and well and not all out on bereavement and everything. It's just so heavy and emotionally exhausting.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On the work front...

The work front is so complicated. Interestingly, anyone close to the situation has encouraged me to stay and Hindsight 20/20 I think it was best to stick out through at least half the year. It makes it harder to know when to just give up, because I have stuck out a lot of weirdness that I don't know I personally would have on my own. MH and my parents, being really close to the situation, actually have mostly encouraged me to stay. It's only in the last week that my family has done a complete 180. I think things are just getting too weird and my stress level is too high without "twin" in the picture. But it does make it easier without everyone I really trust and everyone close to the situation more encouraging me to stick it out. (Their 180 is partially my stress level, but is also due to new developments and red flags).

I always knew I would never stay when "old employer" retired. I am just very picky and knew I would have to find employment on my own terms. I was envisioning something more like longer hours and a different management style. I never in a million years imagined this mess.

I figured the blame at work was more a 50/50 type situation. "Old employer" is not at full mental capacity and that is surely creating some problems. But all I have ever seen is "red flags" about new company. I know that "new boss" is pretty new to her company and I get the sense she has no idea what she is doing. Her communication skills are clearly lacking.

In the end, "old employer" wife pulled me aside and talked to me on Monday? It's really good because I didn't have to mentally prepare for the "deep talk" but already mostly knew what I wanted to stay. It was like halfway giving my notice, I guess. Should make the real thing easier. Anyway, wife wanted to sway me to stay but this talk ended up with the polar opposite result. They are in the middle of some legal action. This was the missing puzzle piece that makes other tidbits make a lot more sense. & I now feel more that the blame is more along the lines of 0/100. When I kind of felt like a pawn last week and it's a game to everyone, I had no idea how much "old employer" was just reacting to a bad situation. I don't blame any of their actions at this point. Some of what I thought was morally questionable I now think was necessary given the situation.

I appreciate the heads up. I really would have been fine offering to train new hires, if I was still unemployed when they ever got around to it. Now? I will never accept employment from "new employer" again, no matter how minor or part-time or temporary. Have to just walk away.

{It's probably the best I never got to much work updates on this blog because I now that I know it's a total legal mess that really changes things. I may just delete all these work posts at some point, and glad I never got around to sharing much detail. This means that I just have to stay cryptic}.

So I got the "deep talk" out of the way. Next time if the "firm" talk. I think I mostly showed my hand so I don't expect it to be a difficult talk.

I secured one more paycheck, so I am feeling pretty good. If I give 2-weeks notice on Friday I mostly secure the second paycheck I wanted to secure.

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I don't think I got to this yet. I can't keep track of all the insanity.

We got a new receptionist finally. "Useless employee" frantically trained her Tuesday. (5 weekdays training lost due to some stupidity I can't decipher. Is the same one they told "nevermind" to, one full week ago).

I think it's a miracle she hasn't quit yet. (She seems to be a saint).

Back to School

August 13th, 2018 at 05:36 am

Final vacation tally ended up being right about $2,000. I've already paid off all the charges. I usually enjoy the float a wee bit more, but paid everything off while trying to figure out next job steps. The extra $2,000 balance would have just stressed me out, and I wanted a clearer idea of where our cash stood. I needed to pay off the (travel) reward credit card anyway.

Our road trip was 2300 miles. 8 days, 7 nights.



After that, kids went back to school. I would say we have done about nothing for that. Last night I frantically signed forms very late. I passed everything else off to MH. Absolutely nothing has been purchased. It sounds like the kids don't really need anything. DL is Year #3 at his school and MM is year #2. School before that provided all supplies in exchange for $25 every year. So we did buy a lot of supplies the last two years as they transitioned to new schools. No one needs new PE clothes or anything like that, this year.

DL has two music classes and a free period this year. I think the break will be good for him.

MM attends the polar opposite school and has to take an extra class in to get in his one elective/art class (needs an art class for college prep?) We were relieved to find out the first day of school that he got the art class. So that we don't have to figure it out later or scramble for summer school one year. Phew! He is taking a 0 period class so that he can squeeze in the extra class. The timing is good for me. As I am considering a longer than 10-minute commute, or an employer who may not be super flexible, etc. I told him I thought the timing worked out pretty well, even when discussing this many months ago. It really frees me up. He starts school at 7am every single day. Next year he will be driving himself.

This is all well and good unless I end up in a job situation where I can't take him to school. In that case, MH will murder me. Big Grin (He is a night owl and I am an early bird). MM(15) is an early bird so this is no big deal to him.

The Well Timed Vacation

August 4th, 2018 at 05:41 am



I don't know if I have ever been happier to get the heck out of dodge. Big Grin

Just checking in. Will be driving home today.

I questioned our sanity doing a road trip in a small car because DL(13) has had a rough time on the mental health front. Which translates into super moody and not talking a lot of the time. Anyway, it hasn't been all sunshine and roses, but he has enjoyed our road trip 1,000 times more than I would have imagined. So maybe this is just what he needed.

I think I was envisioning a more frugal road trip. We probably squeaked by ($1,500 budget) with $500 in hotel expenses, $200 in gas, and about $800 in food spending. But we did do a few expensive museums (or, adds up with 4 people, even if not expensive). & it will be about $250 to board our cat so long (dropped him off a day early and will pick him up tomorrow, just to allow for extra time and also their hours).

The hotels were only so expensive because our last two nights were on the coast. We had to scramble to even find a room. What was left was beautiful but more than I'd spend otherwise.

One funny thing about this trip. Well, two. The first entire day was cancelled due to wildfires. Not funny funny. But our last attempted road trip was mostly cancelled due to government shutdown. So it was a little deja vu on day #1. & given the year it's been I thought this might just be a total disaster. I was really wary like what the hell are we doing?! We should stay home... #2 funny funny is on average once per day our food orders have been wrong so we keep getting tons of free food (keeping the food we didn't order and also being given more food to compensate). It's kind of hilarious. It keeps the teen boys happy and is probably why we've barely touched our road trip snacks.

As to canceled day #1, we had to cut out a couple of things due to time regardless, and so we may just make a day trip of it at some point in the future.

Highlights of our trip: Crater Lake (actually could see it on Day #2, but was hazy). AMAZING. I put it as #3 in the most amazing views I have ever seen, even with the haze. MH wants to go back and do it right on a clear day. Mt. St. Helens (which really awed my moody DL). Olympic National Forest. Except for Seattle we mostly stuck to the great outdoors.

Audiobooks?

July 25th, 2018 at 06:48 pm

We are gearing up for our Pacific Northwest road trip.

The first 4 nights of hotels added up to $561, or exactly the amount of our credit card reward! (I did not plan that, whatsoever). Crazy!

I wanted to ask if anyone has any audiobook suggestions. (Or podcasts).

I am open to anything. But my kids are probably pretty picky. (They are book snobs, would be bored out of their mind as to anything geared at kids). Non-fiction might be better.

(For any frame of reference, the picky kid's favorite author is Brandon Sanderson. Which might be what we end up with because my family is frustrated I never read any of his books. It just sounds like a huge commitment. So they will trap me in a car and make me listen to it! Which is fine, but I might want something a little lighter to break it up. Maybe we can compromise with that).

We hadn't really thought about it, and we realize it's going to be harder than in the past to find something we all agree on.

I think the rest of us are pretty open to whatever. So we might get some new ideas we wouldn't have otherwise.

TIA!

Horrible Week

July 22nd, 2018 at 09:11 am

We were blindsided last week when we learned that MH has a second brain tumor. My first impression is that the odds of this happening are extremely low. & I'd say he has a pretty rare health diagnosis with just the one. Lucky him! We are anxious every year as we monitor tumor growth on tumor #1. I can't say it ever occurred to us that they would find something new.

For the short run, it was good news as could be I guess. Tumor #1 didn't grow. We will consider that a win.

Tumor #2 seems to be of little concern. But it's one more thing to worry about. I don't remember what kind of Doctor MH has at the moment. He was the cyber knife Doctor. I just call them brain doctors. But cyber knife/brain Doctor was going to consult with some neurosurgeons. We are waiting to hear back. He's been so dismissive that we will probably get another opinion. We have a million questions. (Silver lining: He isn't too concerned?)

If that's not enough bad news for one week...

My co-worker told me she gave her notice around 5pm on Friday. I am beside myself with this news. Frown

She was the one who was optimistic about the whole thing and talked me off the ledge. In the end, I think it just comes down to commute. From what she told me about the job, I am surprised she took it.

Awesome Admin left right after tax season. She was very conflicted about quitting, but she lowered her commute by about 1/2 hour (if not more) and her husband was going back to school and she needed to get a job with her degree. It took her 5 seconds to find a job. I am definitely not concerned about finding *a* job.

This co-worker (leaving now) is my "twin". I think we are just very similar in personality, experience, work style, etc. Everyone always confuses us though we look nothing like each other. I've been blessed to work with her for 15-ish years.

That said, she was part-time and never quite put in the effort/hours I did. She went full-time for 5 years to get her kid through college but never really got into the full-time mentality. For this reason, I am rather shocked she took a FT position at a very high hours firm. ??? We only talked about it for a few minutes, so maybe we will talk about it more next week. It's right by her home and her current commute sucks, so that honestly might be most of it. (Beyond that, she wasn't even looking for a job. They matched her current salary). It could be she just took it as an opportunity to shorten her commute and to get the heck out of here. Maybe she is hoping to turn it into a part-time position eventually.

It's back to the drawing board for me. She left me in a HORRIBLE position. I don't blame her and it's not her fault. I really never thought she would leave before me (or without giving me more of a heads up). UGH!

Silver lining? It sounds like this other firm is interested in hiring me and willing to pay very well. For now, it's a longer commute and more hours so I am not interested at all. But, I welcome that she is willing to test the waters. If she is really happy there, I would consider it. I don't think I would seriously consider this other job until after tax season. When I told MH about this other job he said they sounded a little desperate. Um, yeah, they are a CPA firm. Of course they are desperate. They promised her the moon. Will see what they actually give her.

Before all this she had talked me off the ledge and we had kind of agreed to stick it out one more tax season. I would say that my "old employer" has bent over backwards to take care of his employees, and it would help him a LOT if we stuck it out one more tax season. My loyalty does not go beyond that. (& I don't know if it even goes that far. But I am trying).

I think the problem is that this is more my ideal job so it's a higher bar for me. The only feedback I've gotten is that my salary is very high and most likely won't be matched (looking at job postings and talking to recruiters). & I mean when it comes to matching my current work hours and job duties. Yeah, I am not surprised my co-worker got a salary match for a management position with crazy hours. Not apples to apples.

Where does this leave me? I don't know. I think a lot of clients will leave, and so I don't really know how to gauge the futility of staying for one more tax season. Clients will leave regardless. Clients are leaving regardless. (If they are leaving, then work hours will be reasonable). Honestly, maybe she saved our jobs. I just don't know.

I don't have a commute (nothing I'd call a commute), so all I am looking at is longer commute, more traffic, lower pay, etc.

The pressure on me is tremendous. MH told me "that place will fall apart if you leave." It's true. I think it would have fallen apart anyway (if just I left). But with both of us gone...

I think I am going to give it a minute. We are going on vacation in a couple of weeks, so I won't do anything until I get back. But it's time to seriously job hunt and see what else is out there.

It will be interesting to see how "new employer" responds to all this. They are completely MIA and I know nothing more than I last posted on the subject. While searching jobs (about a month ago) I did notice they are hiring a management position (to replace "old employer"). That is going to be make or break for my job. My expectations are low. (My expectations are low if they will react at all to the latest news and also as to the quality of any new hire).

Will see...

For now, I think I am willing to take a significant pay cut just to jump off the sinking ship. Until Friday, I felt like I should just keep the good pay/PTO/flexibility (for 9 more months, or as long as possible). Now I don't know if this job is worth any of that. So if I get offered a job that looks good but pays 20% less tomorrow, I think I'd probably take it. I have a job in mind that is close to home. I think I will finally pull the trigger on applying.

Edited to add: It's not cancer (MH's tumors). Thank Goodness! (Hence, the very unexpected new tumor. But I guess I could have clarified). & trust me, brain tumors SUCK and are deadly (if you don't treat them). But, cancer is just another can of worms.

& please no unsolicited medical advice. I don't even know where to begin with that, so... please don't.

July 16

July 17th, 2018 at 08:10 pm

July 16
$81 Groceries
$12 Indian Grocer
$50 Sushi (birthday) lunch
$18 Amazon
Dinner: Chicken Satay

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Not much to report for Monday. MH took the kids out for their birthday sushi lunch.

MH did the grocery shopping for the week.

MH picked up some Amazon Prime Day deals (some power strips and charging cables that we needed).

MM(15) did hand me $40 cash to deposit into his bank account. $20 from in-laws. $20 he just found in his bag (???). It might have been $20 I gave him for something or other (or I wonder if my dad gave it to him for spending money on their river trip). But, whatever. Finders Keepers. He did also receive $20 from his great-grandfather. His cash balance is up to $1,250 and he is due for a study visit (medical study that pays well) so he will probably get up to $1,500 soon.

If DL received any cash, he hasn't told me. I am sure he got the same $20 from MIL, and he does have a $20 check from the great-grandfather.

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One In, One Out

I did choose a shirt to pull out of my closet. It was one I bought for a couple of dollars last year (patriotic). When I pulled it out to wear it around July 4th it was too itchy. (It seems that clothing is getting more soft over time, so this feels like sandpaper). Anyway, I should have just thrown it in the donation pile at that time. But I made sure to do so when I brought home my new shirt. & I did offer it to the kids first, but no one wanted it.

I put MM's old shoes in the trash today.

July 15, Crazy Errand Day

July 17th, 2018 at 06:34 am

July 15
$10 Gymnastics
$ 2 Target
$50 Birthday Dinner
$22 shoes (will probably return)
$28 Kohls
$22 Groceries
$47 Fuel (minivan)
Dinner: ~out~

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Sunday was pretty exhausting. I am starting to regain some strength and probably was overly ambitious on the chore front. By 5pm I was pretty much done and ready to go to bed. I am sure the heat didn't help.

It was MM's birthday. He had his gymnastics class and he was thrilled because it ran long (extra 1/2 hour).

I got a lot of errands in. I was going to take DL shoe shopping but he was in a mood and refused to go. which was probably for the best, because he would have freaked if he knew we'd be waiting 1.5 hours for his brother. His feet are roughly the same size as mine, so I shoe shopped for him.

There is some expensive shoe store right by gymnastics and Target, but they have good clearance prices. So I perused over there. I checked the size 12s and would bring MM back if there was anything I thought he might like, but the pickings were slim. I found a $20 pair of flip flops for DL. DL told me at some point plain black was fine, but I have yet to find anything. Until today. With tax, spent $22.

Ran to Payless because DL is perfectly happy with his tennis/every day shoes but they are falling apart. Was just going to buy the next size up. All the shoes in his size were all mostly brown/black and they had few tennis shoes anyway. Wondering how big they make that particular shoe since it does look more "little kid", but he's up to size 9. Anyway, it's best he tries them on. MH said he would take him shoe shopping this week. It's been a battle (to get him to go to the store to try on shoes), so I will let MH fight that battle.

I drove past Target on my way back to pick up MM and thought I'd get him an icee. I sometimes do that, but usually we share a small. I thought, I will surprise him with a large icee. Wouldn't you know, they were out of everything but small? *sigh* (I did get him the small. Was better than nothing, and he told me it was refreshing).

At this point I am only about 1/2 way done with errands. I took MM to Kohls after his class. They have an abundance of extra wide shoes in stock and I had some gift cards (I got for the purpose of buying the kids shoes). I actually found a cheaper pair of flip flops for DL and MM found a pair also. (They both have sad flip slops that are too small. Mostly they just refuse to go shopping). Those were $15 each. I grabbed a shirt from the men's section. (It just caught my eye when we walked by, and was on sale for $10). MM found a pair of tennis shoes for $55. His shoes were 12 months old, which isn't bad for a growing boy/man. In the end, that was all $28 cash (after gift cards), which I Was pleased with.

MM was telling me how the kids at school like to brag about how expensive their shoes are and how many they have. He just thinks it's dumb. He's telling me from an, "I don't understand people" standpoint. Welcome to the club. (This is a teenager who didn't want anything for his birthday. He's really extreme in the other direction).

After that we went to the grocery store to get fuel and groceries. I had a '50-cent off per gallon' coupon from MH's big grocery run the prior weekend.

We stopped by the grocery store because I wanted to pick up some eggs. I was going to make deviled eggs for the kids, but ended up being too exhausted in the end. I don't even remember what else we got. MM wanted some string cheese and I picked up some deli meat. Probably some other odds and ends.

MM chose Mongolian BBQ for his birthday dinner.

Though we spent a lot of money this weekend, I am overall pleased with the spending. I think in most cases we got more than we paid for.

I think I mentioned before, neither kid wanted to do a birthday party. They both just chose lots of eating out, instead. I think we got off easy!

July 14, Long Day

July 17th, 2018 at 06:05 am

July 14
$32 Fuel
$18 Water Park (parking/locker)
$ 4 @7-11 (snack)
$30 Birthday Gift
Dinner: leftovers

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Saturday was a long day. We decided to pick up the kids because I wanted to visit the water park in our parents' city. (It is significantly nicer than the one here, as I recalled). Plus, the weather was *perfect*. 20-30 degrees cooler than our July weather.

I guess I should say, original plan was for the in-laws to bring the kids to us. But it was better for us to just switch that around.

We tried to get there at opening, but failed. We got a late start and had to pick up the kids first. The water park looked crazy crowded but in the end most the lines were pretty short. We stayed 2 hours, as planned. I think that worked out pretty well, even though we missed the first/less crowded hour. DL was in a mood and didn't talk to us the entire time. But anyway, given all of the above, I think it went as well as could be. I got enough slides in to feel like I got my money's worth.

Did I mention that it was the month of birthday? MH wanted to get his mom a birthday present, so got her a gift card. He tried to consult me, but my family isn't much into birthdays. I balked at $40, accordingly. So he went with $30. (Usually his sister takes the lead and they go in together. Or we plan ahead and have free gift cards).

Before that, we did fill up the gas sipper with gas (we have a cheapie gas station by our home). We did end up driving 250 miles round trip.

After the water park we had lunch with the in-laws. MIL made lunch for us.

After that, everyone was pretty tired and ready to go home, but we wanted to see my parents for at least an hour. Usually MH handles the drive home (which is often much later; he is the night owl) but he was wiped. I was also pretty wiped, but I probably had slept more the night before. Anyway, I was fine with driving as long as we got home before dark. I also needed some caffeine and calories to stay awake, so I did a stop at 7-11. I don't remember the last time I did that, but was worth being more alert for the drive home.

We probably left the house around 8am and got home around 8pm.

Credit Card Rewards Update

July 15th, 2018 at 07:50 am

2018 TALLY:

$561 Gift Cards (Capital One Venture, Moi)
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$561 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*

**In addition, various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31.

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POST FROM 2017:


***CAVEAT - I absolutely do not recommend utilizing credit card rewards in this manner, unless you are in full control of your credit card spending. We treat our credit cards like debit cards; only charging if we have the cash on hand already. We've never paid a cent of late fees or interest.***

At this point in my life I just pay the balances off the end of every month so that we go into each new month with -$0- credit card debt. This is really simple because there is no remembering bills or due dates or any of that. I just go in and pay them all the last day of every month. I have set all my credit cards to close for the month around the 28th of the month, so that the statement is closed by the last day of every month and every charge for the month has been posted. (I can just voluntarily pre-pay any charges that didn't make it on the statement for the last week of the month). From an accounting standpoint, anything else would drive me crazy, maybe especially since we do have so many credit cards that we use every month for rewards. This way, I just don't have to really keep track of anything and I know they will always be paid several weeks before due date. This also keeps all of our charges on a monthly cycle, which lines up with our monthly paychecks and my monthly accounting.

I expect 2018 to be more like 2016, but you never know. I don't feel like we need to put as much emphasis on the credit card rewards with MH working and with interest rates (on our savings) increasing. We really relied on these to boost our income and to stretch our dollars further when MH was home with the kids. I also have something like $1,000 unused gift cards laying around, which is about $1,000 more than usual. (In the past we mostly redeemed cash back, but those are harder to come by and it seems it was mostly gift cards and travel rewards for this year).


I figured I'd post that as a reminder and/or to fill in newer readers.

I think I probably would have mostly passed (on one-time bonuses) this year given all my employment upheaval. Life has been CRAZY this year and I am being ultra protective of my credit score since I work in the financial industry. It's always been like 800+, but I just don't feel like it's the year to open 5 new credit cards in my name. Might raise some eyebrows during any employment consideration. (& I am probably just being overly cautious, but that is how I roll). & I did open 4 cards in MH's name last year so I am giving him a break. But anyway, this travel reward was easy and too good do pass up with our travel plans.

I needed to spend $3,000 to earn $560, have already done so:

$2,082 Medical bills/insurance
$ 621 Auto Insurance
$ 275 Professional Dues
$ 13 Misc.
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$3,000 Spending
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I didn't plan it that way. I would have just pre-paid a couple of months of health insurance to hit the $3k spend. Super easy and takes me just a few minutes to earn rewards. But in this case I just happened to receive a pile of bills right after I applied for the card.

It's been long enough that I was not thinking. I would have just pre-paid the $13 (difference) to my medical insurance but I forgot (and would be a pain to make a separate $13 payment). I instead just used the card for some online shopping that I was doing regardless, to get up to the $3,000 spend. I wasn't thinking that means they won't bill me until the items ship. So it wasn't the smartest way to rack up immediate rewards, but I guess waiting another day or two doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.

Gift Card Balances July 2018

July 15th, 2018 at 07:47 am

Just tracking my gift cards. Not *all* credit card rewards, but most of them are.


GIFTS:
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$ 20 x4 Target


MOVIES:
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$25 Regal?


RESTAURANTS:
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$25 Red Lobster


RETAIL:
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$100 Staples ($50x2)**School supplies next summer?**
$200 Home Depot ($50x4) **need taller ladder**


Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards.

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I still have 4 of 5 Target gift cards (to use as gifts). We may tap one or two of those for school supplies.

Yesterday I found a movie gift card. ??? I have no idea where it came from. It's in some sort of packaging so I don't think it has been used. (It may be that it's been used already. Will see...)

I expect to use up some of the Staples cards in the next month for school supplies.

It's on MH's infinite chore list to buy a taller ladder with the Home Depot gift cards.

Friday the 13th

July 15th, 2018 at 07:25 am

July 13
-No Spend-
Dinner: leftovers

Phew! Thankfully Friday the 13th was peaceful. It was one heck of a week. The black cloud/crazy insanity seemed to let up for maybe a month at work but then returned. It was just one thing after another this past week. My co-worker's wife finally had her brain tumor removed (LONG Story), my "old employer" had a bad fall, and we had a crazy driver fly through our parking lot and hit a fence. Just a typical week in the year 2018. Seriously!

MH did take our newer car in for a couple of recall repairs. I honestly don't remember ever doing this before. I think we have just been lucky. For some reason I was thinking this was the first car we ever brought the dealer brand directly from the dealer, and that they probably had better records. No idea why I was thinking that because after thinking about it, we bought our prior two cars from their respective dealerships. Duh. I think we were close to pulling the trigger on completely different make cars, so I just forgot. We've only ever bought used cars. Other than these 3 new-ish cars, all the rest of our cars were bought 10+ years old from private parties. I think that explains most of our lack of recalls over the years. (It's only 10 of 25 driving years that we've had newer vehicles).

Anyway, we had one recall and MH tried to make an appointment and they were super annoying. Like he had to get on some mail list and they couldn't fit it in for 4 months!? I don't know. We've only found dealerships to be super irritating. I avoid if at all possible. So MH just got pissed off and gave up. I think the second recall notice was more important. I don't know all the details, but he was able to schedule ASAP.

So, he took care of that Friday. In the end, the timing worked pretty well for us. We are going on a 2000 mile road trip next month and I hadn't thought too much about it. I'd like to think I would have double checked the tires and so on. But in the end, the dealership said we need to urgently replace all tires and some brakes. Anyway, I totally take this with a grain of salt and definitely will not get the work done at the dealership ($$$$$). But I did look up the tires and they are near the end of their warranty. The only work we've ever done on this (5 year old) car is to replace tires, so I think it's reasonable it needs brake work. MH will take care of that with our mechanic this week.

The public TV station that MH volunteers for usually has a really nice appreciation dinner every spring, but they skipped it this year. In the end, MH was mailed tickets to the fair and a free parking pass. I'd probably just give them away (nothing appeals about going to the crowded fair during the hottest weeks of the year. UGH!) But this works out pretty well. Our water park is inside the fairgrounds, which is just annoying. With our season passes we have free fair entry (which you need to get into the water park during the fair), and we also have a lot of free passes to bring friends. BUT, the fair is for the next two weeks, and after that the kids are back at school. MM wanted to invite a few friends on a weekday but it just wasn't going to work. It was going to be super crowded and annoying, and we'd have to pay to get them into the fairgrounds. But I told him we now have two fair passes and a free parking pass so go crazy.

The kids were still with grandparents and MH was working on a movie set until the wee hours (volunteering), so I had a very quiet evening to myself.

July 11-12, This & That

July 13th, 2018 at 11:35 am

Feeling caught up now...

July 11
$10 Lunch
$10 Gymnastics class
$26 Target (Groceries)
$66 Hanes
Dinner:Tortellini

July 12
$1 Donut
Dinner: leftovers

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Thursday (12th) was a pretty quiet day. I treated myself to a donut for breakfast. MH met his parents half way (about 60 miles) and dropped off the kids. They wanted to do spend some time with them and celebrate their birthdays.

Wednesday was a bit busier and spendier.

I went out to lunch with one of my co-workers.

MM(15) had gymnastics class. He missed all the other (July) classes due to birthday festivities and other plans, but he usually tries to go twice per week.

MH took him over to his class and grabbed some groceries at Target while he waited for him.

I got my travel reward credit card and charged it up. I was telling MH I was short $13 (I had medical bills and insurance bills to easily get to the bonus). Anyway, DUH. I usually prepay some health insurance ahead (to get these bigger spend bonuses) but just didn't have to this time. I would have pre-paid $13 (adding onto the July payment) if I had thought of it. In the end, I had noticed some holes in my socks and did some shopping on Hanes.com. I will have to check the last time I bought socks/underwear. (I don't remember off the top of my head). They had some big sale and free shipping and so I picked up a couple of other items, in addition to ordering new underwear. I just threw it on the travel card to be done with the reward.

{I will have to do a separate credit card reward post later}.

Oh, and I remembered to check the men's socks for pricing differences. In this case, the pricing was the same either way.

Edited to add: I didn't note buying any socks since 2015. I am not sure how accurate that info is. I can see that being a small enough purchase to not really bother with (going out of my way to correctly categorize).

July 10

July 13th, 2018 at 10:40 am

July 10
$75 Medical
$35 Fuel
$15 Groceries (forgot tomato sauce!)
$9 Walgreens (Groceries)
Dinner: Burritos

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Paid $75 for a medical appointment today. We will definitely max out our deductible this year (which we usually do anyway; my husband has an ongoing medical issue). But this year seems to be my year to rack up medical bills. I've had three ultrasounds already and probably will have two more in the next month. (I'd say 3 entirely different medical reasons, though two may be related). It's just been one of those years.

My test results were good (PHEW!) and was a huge relief, but I have another ultrasound scheduled to follow up and to be on the safe side.

MH was supposed to have his annual MRI this week but it was rescheduled. What I expected to be a high-stress medical week ended up being low-stress. Phew!

I took the 'gas sipper' to my medical appointment but the car was about out of gas. I stopped at a really cheap gas station neat the hospital and near my work. That worked out well.

I stopped by Walgreens for a soda afterwards and picked up granola bars on sale. This is my office breakfast/snack stash.

MH planned to make an "ingredients already on hand" kind of dinner, but didn't realize until the last minute that we had no tomato sauce. Ice cream was on sale, so he stocked up on that too. (I just took care of dinner. Is an old family recipe I can make in my sleep, so wasn't phased with dinner being thrown at me as I walked in the door. Otherwise I may have preferred to turn around and go to the store for him instead).

MH attended a free acting seminar. This is some group at a local for-profit college. They have some really useful film making programs and so on. In this case, he thought the seminar could be relevant to screenwriting and the speaker was DL's teacher from the art school. He's very involved in the local film making community and MH was figuring it wasn't the worst thing to get more face time with this person.

July 9, Two Teenagers!

July 13th, 2018 at 09:28 am

July 9
$7 Game
$26 Lunch (Deli + Bakery)
$61 Dinner (Indian Cafe)
Dinner: ~Out~

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

MH found a Game Stop? gift card and picked up a VR game. (I believe this was a birthday gift to MM one full year ago and that we gave him the cash value in exchange for the card). Just a coincidence that MH happened to find or remember about it this week.

My youngest turned 13! Ack!

I think it's pretty certain at this point that MM(15) is the easiest kid on the planet and is never going to be much of a *teenager*. His brother will make up for it. He's been very *teenager* already for two years. Wink

DL(13) didn't want to do anything for his birthday but eat out a lot. MH took the kids out to their favorite deli and stopped by the bakery next door ($2 for 5 pastries?).

For dinner we took him to his favorite Indian Cafe. We were all very happy to have an excuse to eat there. MH left some huge tip that was way out of character. Is not a restaurant (with servers). He told me he wants them to stay in business. Yeah, because handing them a $10 bill twice a year will keep them in business. Wink It's just funny because it was so out of character. & it added significantly to our spending on this day, so is worth noting.

I need to remember to get DL(13) set up with a checking account. There is no rush except that I can automate his allowance when we get this set up. I am very happy about this because it makes our lives simpler.

Edited to add: In the end, DL grew 5 inches this past year. I was surprised. His brother did the same from age 12-13. That is just crazy!

July 8

July 13th, 2018 at 09:26 am

I've been jotting down spending, which is good because I am behind... I will do a few posts today to catch up.

July 8
$33 Groceries
Dinner: Indian Chicken Makhani (crockpot)

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

Not much to report for Sunday.

MH did some grocery shopping and picked up some treats for DL (his birthday is Monday). Because he seemed to have a few dinners already planned and the kids will be gone half the week, I joked that he didn't need to get (more) groceries this week. Right? ... He actually said that might be the case. So might even out a bit from the monster grocery run last weekend. It is what it is. This is the only full month the kids will mostly be home. We usually get more of a reprieve with school lunches. Last month MM was fed for like half the month while he was gone. School starts pretty early in August. So it's mostly this month that I need to feed two teen boys *all month* from the grocery budget.

We watched Titanic, which felt like it took all day. (It did, between that and catching up on the Unspooled podcast). There aren't too many LONG movies, thankfully. I did remember to watch this one in our home movie theater. I usually don't like to utilize and rather just watch a movie on our comfy couch. But since this is more intellectual movie watching than "just for fun" movie watching, I guess I want to get the full experience. I told MH to remind me in the future (as we go through the Top 100 movie list), because I will never remember. Unless it's something epic. It was definitely the right choice to watch Titanic on the big screen with the premium sound.

Next: 2001 Space Odyssey

July 7, Mostly Quiet

July 9th, 2018 at 12:31 pm

July 7
$28 Groceries
Dinner: Sloppy Joes

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

In the morning MM volunteered at the animal shelter. It's been more than a year but I've actually never made it out to the library over there before. It's a long drive to the shelter and not worth driving home in between, but usually can find some errands to run. Anyway, today I was able to sit in the car and listen to podcasts and read for about an hour until the library opened. But it was too hot to sit in the car (for 2 full hours) and I had nothing else to do. I went to the library and it was packed! I swear I saw like 30 people in there. But no one was sitting in the cushy chairs they had (about 6 that I saw?) so I sat and read (my library ebook) for a while. The library is only about 2 miles from the shelter, so it's just perfect.

It's nice to see so many people utilizing the library.

On the way home I picked up some groceries. I noticed we were out of milk yesterday, and I wanted to pick up a few other things. I planned to pick up a pound of meat, but it was on sale if you buy more in bulk so I just bought 3 pounds. Same for the pasta I bought.

So... I get home and there is already milk in the fridge. Ack! No idea where it came from. Even worse, I accidentally bought the brand milk. (I don't buy milk very much). I was so focused on getting the correct fat content, that I forgot to look at the price (they all look the same to me). So that was a fail. (MH told me he would make some pudding, and I did use some of the milk to whip up some more pasta, so maybe we will get through it).

The kids were off at a birthday party and MH was working on a movie shoot (it's all volunteer but they do get fed well). So they were all taken care of for dinner. I didn't see much food in the fridge so decided to just make some sloppy joes (old family recipe). It will be nice to have some leftovers.

For the birthday party, it was rather last minute but I had already stocked up on Target gift cards when they were on sale around Christmas time. MM also picked up some food treat for his friend, while we were at the grocery store.

This is DL's best friend who shares the same birthday. I think this is some of why DL is kind of "meh" on the birthday front. Other people's houses/parties are always more fun. Wink

In the end the kids ended up staying at their friend's house overnight (which didn't surprise me at all). So it was a very quiet night in my house.

July 5 & 6, Feeling Blah

July 9th, 2018 at 12:29 pm

July 5
$8 Groceries
$12 Indian Grocer
Dinner: Fiesta Chicken Burritos (crockpot)

July 6
$2 Lunch out
$40 Games (4 Party Packs)
Dinner: Cheeseburger Pasta

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

For lunch Thursday, I was feeling kind of ill and nothing sounded good, so just picked up a sandwich at the grocery store. In the end, I didn't like it much. While there I picked up some other groceries (fresh baked bread). I guess MH also picked up some groceries for some meal he hasn't made yet. (Our grocery store is high end and has very fresh food, but the sandwich was a strange bread and they barely put any mayo on it. It was just very dry and not jiving with me).

I ate out again Friday, same deal. The only thing that sounded good to me was a BK burger, and I had to drive about 10 miles (home) to find a decent BK. It was just a bad week. (I spent far more on gas than I did on the burger).

Friday night was DL's night to choose/cook dinner. Cheeseburger Pasta (sort of a casserole) is his favorite meal.

MH participates in some game night group and one time they did some electronic games. I remember MH telling me about it, where you put it up on the big screen somehow, but then everyone can participate with their phones. Anyway, he saw some deal Friday, $40 for something like 20 games. So we tried out the games last night and we had a blast. In this case, he bought them for the playstation and we were able to play along with our cell phones. I am guessing we will end up with just a few favorites, but it's nice to be able to try such a wide variety of games. & because my husband is a bit of a game collector (board games), I told him I appreciated the electronic/non-clutter version.

July 3-4, Pink Tax

July 7th, 2018 at 07:34 am

July 3
$10 pet license renewal
Dinner: Thai chicken

It was MM's night to make dinner. The kids love their dinner nights because they get to choose what to make.

I do have to take my cat to the vet to get his shots updated (usually around $20). I suppose I may have a deadline with the license renewal, but was already planning to update his shots so that we can board him while we do our road trip.

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July 4
$35 Birthday Gifts for MM
Dinner: Steak & Baked Potatoes

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

I mentioned in a recent post that MM didn't want anything for his birthday.

We had played bananagrams at SIL's house and MM seemed to be way into it. So I thought that would at least give him something to open on his birthday. The gift is not necessary, but we have quite a game stash and it wouldn't hurt to add that one to the collection.

In the end, MH also picked up a signed CD from MM's favorite band. They will sign it if you pre-order, something like that. Was another $20. (We won't get it for a couple of months, but can tell him that it is coming).

We did nothing for the holiday, but the kids went to a friend's house where there was a fireworks extravaganza. Definitely not anything I would spend my money on (I think setting off fireworks in our climate/region is completely dumb and insane, but it's what people do. So the kids' youth will be full of pyromania. We are happy to sit it out now that they are old enough to go off on their own. In addition, MH is hard of hearing so he just does not enjoy on any level).

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I saw this video the other day and it was amazing:

https://www.facebook.com/dearalyne/videos/194488441235252/

I've not paid too much attention to the "pink tax" talks because I don't even buy most female products to begin with.

Well, this video starts talking about razors. I've never bought the female razors because I just didn't like them. I don't know if price factored. Maybe. (I made this decision like 20 years ago, so I don't remember). & I do sometimes buy men's clothing. I have more man-sized feet, if nothing else.

Anyway, I watched the video and it blew my mind. I really need to start thinking more carefully about everything I buy. I don't even like pink! So why would I pay a premium to buy something pink? I told MH that I was embarrassed that I recently bought a big old thing of pink shaving cream. I feel somewhat *shrugs* about it because was a luxury I never purchased during our one-income years (just used soap or shampoo) and the one large bottle of shaving cream will probably last me something like 5 years. Wink I will survive for paying that few extra dollars. I can see that I should probably stop buying girly foo foo deoderant. I just think it's good to be mindful and will think more carefully through these things as I make future purchases.

July 2

July 7th, 2018 at 07:21 am

July 2
$6 lunch
$27 birthday gift (DL)
$60 Flea meds
$173 groceries
Dinner: Crockpot Chili

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

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Not a frugal day, whatsoever. MH and MM did go to a free movie screening.

**I've been eating out lunch more with co-workers, which I mostly had not done since one-income years. I think mostly they used to eat at the same place every day and it was expensive. I'd maybe go once in a blue moon. Now they mostly eat junk food (??) after that place shut down? (I probably feel the opposite now, that I don't want to eat junk).

Anyway, with all the upheaval at work, there have been a lot of lunches out. On the flip side, my one lunch buddy has been busy and MH has been busy so I am just moving my lunch dollars over to be more work focused. I mostly join them for $2 tacos on Tuesday. But my co-worker had been gone on a long trip and I wanted to hear all about it yesterday.

**I did also order some flea meds online. That's a new thing. I've never battled fleas with indoor pets before. *sigh*

When I got home, the fridge was pretty bare, so I presumed MH did a light grocery run. HA! $173 is probably the biggest grocery run I have ever seen. I have no idea what he stocked up on. But this is the one full month the kids are home and I am sure he stocked up on food and bought some extra food/treats.

**MH also picked up a birthday gift for DL. He has been asking for a pull up bar.

Usually it seems we don't plan much for the kids' birthdays and then something more extravagant always seems to come up last minute.

Will see... For now, we have about 5 days until birthday #1 and both kids are saying they don't want anything and they don't want to do anything for their birthdays. Both their birthdays are next week.

In the end, DL did ask for a pull up bar specifically. MH never wants anything and so we usually aim more for experiences for him. I have been thinking that we will take him rock climbing. He LOVES climbing and maybe it's time we get him some more opportunities on that front. At the least, will take him once, but might think about getting him more of a membership or into classes.

MM = Monkey Monkey. It's just not been a priority to-date, but I can't imagine anything he would want more than more opportunities to do some sort of rock climbing.

**I've got DL's passport in hand already. It only took 2 weeks. I had been dreading that chore, but in the end our city had opened up a new passport center (since the last time we needed passports) that is open 6 days per week. Phew!

I did not get MM's passport renewed, because if we can wait until he is 16 then he won't have to renew in person after that.

**I haven't done any credit card rewards (one-time bonuses) this year because it's been so much chaos.

In the end, we are planning a very simple/frugal road trip for the end of this month. It's only in the last week or so, as it seems to be coming together, that I thought I should try to get the cost down with rewards. I'd be more inclined to save that for a bigger and more expensive trip, but am realizing I am not planning any big/expensive trips in the foreseeable future. & who knows if this reward will even be around in another few years? So, might as well take advantage.

We used the Capital One Venture card for our Europe trip last year, and that seems to be the best bet for a road trip. Will have $500 of our hotel expenses paid for. So I made sure to apply for that card on Monday and should receive it any day. The other reason I chose this card is because it will work with the more last minute plans.

July 1

July 2nd, 2018 at 06:06 pm

July 1
$10 Parking @ Water Park
$0 Movies
$0 Library books
Dinner: Parmesan Pasta & Mediterranean Salad

Note: Just tracking spending. Not attempting to cut expenses or to be uber frugal.

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For whatever reason, was thinking of tracking spending this month (er, sharing in the blogs. I always track spending). Life has been crazed and I don't even remember why I was thinking that, except for maybe a bit of a reset.

I didn't even realize it was UFM month. I guess that is extra motivation.

{I don't generally participate in UFM and don't want to upset our delicate balance. But the way I participate is by sharing our spending. I will put some kind of disclaimer on my posts}.

I am also putting these in the "one-income" category since MH doesn't work during the summer months.

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I had bought premium season passes to our local water park around the time of Black Friday. About 50% off current prices.

The catch is that we had to process our season passes at this location, and ideally before the Fair starts. (I personally bought my season pass more for another location).

So we took care of that yesterday. It was a pretty horrible trip for us adults (especially because I wasn't feeling well and it was crazy hot). But, the kids had fun. (We maybe stood in lines for an hour, and then the kids spent an hour on the slides. It wasn't that crowded but they were just that inefficient. Security was slow. Season passes were slow. Ugh). I could see MH being more moody about the whole thing, since he is the one who will be taking the kids on weekdays and generally doesn't do *sun*, but he seemed impressed with how cheap the passes were. (The way to his heart is through a good deal?).

I also ended up getting a free meal while we were there. MH got me something because I was so miserable, and we thought it might help. So we went through all the coupons we got (x4) and I chose whatever was cheap. (I mean, it's all junkie food I wasn't that enthralled with to begin with). In the end, they refused to let MH pay. HA! Told him he had some kind of meal card. He argued with them a bit, but then figured he doesn't know what the heck I bought. I told him 100% I did not buy or get any meal cards. So he decided to go check with customer service and see what the heck. Because if our meals were really supposed to be free then he was getting the kids some free food.

I guess it's early in the season. Everything was just kind of very slow and was chaos. In the end, we were not supposed to get a free meal. Wink The free food put us in a better mood though.

After that, I slept for several hours. I just hadn't been feeling well, and have some other medical issues in addition to having some kind of bug yesterday.

When I woke up, I was craving some pasta recipe I saw online earlier. We had everything on hand (though our fridge was mostly bare otherwise). I asked MH what he was planning to make for dinner, and it was actually something similar. He was fine with me taking over dinner. Everyone liked it. I didn't have a quick/easy creamy pasta dish before. Now I have one:

https://damndelicious.net/2014/10/11/one-pot-garlic-parmesan...

Other than that, I've been reading. I might have to finish my library (ebook) tonight. It's due back any second.

We watched the French Connection last night. That one was pretty weird. Every movie we watch leads to like 5 more movies to watch. Anyway, MH told me I had to watch the commentary track. I think he bought this one at the used store ($0 cash out of pocket ~ used his credit). We didn't realize until after that it was based on a true story. Anyway, there are not enough hours in the day and I have had to let it all go. But maybe I can squeeze in this one commentary. Especially because I got like a 10 day break from the movies and I have Wednesday off work.

Titanic is next on the list, which is one of my favorite movies. Probably one of the very few I have actually seen.

I want to do a more general update too. Will see... I think overall less chaos this week. Except for my medical stuff, everything is kind of calm right now. (Knock on wood).

Ugh!

June 27th, 2018 at 06:17 am



We did our annual family camp trip last week (3 nights). It was DIVINE.

Since then... Ugh!

These are the words I wrote a couple of posts ago:
I feel like NOTHING is going to be easy about this year. *sigh*

Was emotionally exhausted between work mess/health issues/kid's mental health, etc.

That said, I guess stuff on the work front had leveled out a bit. & in particular the, "everyone is dying/seriously ill" stuff. We maybe had a quiet month.

Anyway, I came home to learn:

--My mom had fallen and had to call 9-1-1.

My dad is leaving all the month of July. Which is common (for him to be constantly traveling) but I feel odds are higher that I may have a freakout this time and may drive 100 miles at some point to make sure my mom is okay.

--My sister's health issues seem to be catching up to her.

--Long-term neighbor's 50yo daughter has terminal cancer and just a few months to live. Her 80-something parents are taking care of her in the meantime. Seemed very backwards. (Parents' neighbors ~ she was my babysitter).

--Family friend (who is a total mess) was rushed to the ER in an ambulance, due to chest pains. (He's been a complete mess, regardless. Is dying of cancer. Just more crap for him to deal with).

Oh, and it never really occurred to me anything worse could happen at work, but it did... *sigh* Returned to horrible news. Have to be cryptic for now, but trust me, was horrible. (Is more medical/black cloud stuff, though is of course affecting work situation).

I actually started to type up this post with that info. Little did I know how much worse it could get...

Since then:

MH went to LA over the weekend (which was the silver lining in all this. He has a lot of interest in his script and submitted to one movie studio. You can't submit without a referral, so will consider this a win).

We need some GOOD news!

Supposedly many others were interested and he may get other referrals in the future.

Anyway, DL has been so moody that I just decided to take him out of town this past weekend to distract him. (His mental health bottomed out with MM gone a few weeks ago, and he gets the same way when MH is gone). In the end, the weather was horribly hot and I felt my parents needed me (and their city is much cooler, weather-wise), so the reasons seem to compound. We did have a nice weekend.

--While at my parents' house, their neighbor with cancer passed suddenly.

--Monday night my mom called me to say family friend (the one rushed to the hospital last week) had fallen and no one had found him for FOUR days. HORRIBLE. He is okay, and doing well as can be considering.

--Tuesday night I Was driving home from work and someone slammed into me on the freeway. ??? I didn't see them until about a couple of seconds before they hit me. Logically, they were just hitting cars for kicks. I don't know. Or they were just driving crazy recklessly.

{I was driving full speed on the freeway and absolutely no one was in front of me. Like 5 lanes, so plenty of room to go around. They hit me so squarely it seems to be no accident}.

I didn't really have time to process, but they took off, which is probably for the best. (I can't say I would have pulled over to exchange info in that situation. I probably should have been scared out of my mind, but I didn't have time to be scared before they took off).

The whole thing was traumatic and horrible, but given the week we have had, I can keep it in perspective. If that's my "once every couple of decades" car accident, then I got off lucky.

I edited this down because of the situation. But the short version is that the other vehicle left a perfectly clear license plate imprint on my bumper, so the CHP took a report and documented the evidence. (I thought being in a big city and having no details or witnesses, that I'd probably have to filed an online report. But given the "hit and run" aspect, I called the police first, and by then had figured out I had a license plate imprint).

My first car was rear ended many many times, in my teens/20s, usually when I was not in the car. So it's a similar situation. I don't have full insurance because the vehicle is pretty old and worthless (Same as my car back then). But the damage is probably just cosmetic. Even if I can track down insurance information for the offender, I have to take care of it myself (most likely). Which has never been any big deal the many times I did this with cooperative parties. But in this case, not really sure what I am getting into and how it works. I will get the police report (will take some weeks) and check with my insurance company, etc. But I am guessing I have to take care of filing a claim with the other insurance, if they even have insurance. I am guessing we won't fix the bumper. But our mechanic also does body work and we will make sure it's safe and just cosmetic damage.

So that was my week post vacation... *sigh*

Grammar Question

June 17th, 2018 at 08:56 am

I know this is completely random, but there are a lot of writers around here. Big Grin

Is this correct grammar?

The unlikely duo pursues their only lead.

MH got a note that this should be:
The unlikely duo pursue their only lead.

I am his unofficial editor, but looking this up is giving me a headache (especially because I only have a few minutes). I think that probably sounds right, but no one giving him notes is a grammar expert by any means. (I am more of a human spell checker).

TIA!

More Movies

June 16th, 2018 at 11:17 am

Trying to blog more, and miserably failing. I am trying to break this one down into two blog posts to break it up a bit.

MH, MM and I went to a free movie screening last week.

MH got a free pass to Ocean's 8. We missed the free screening but plan to go today.

I have to go through the Wizard of Oz again. No idea when, but maybe will have time while MH is gone next weekend. I was trying to make a pierogi recipe and it took much longer than I expected and I more half listened to the movie. I realize I need to sit down and really watch the movie. I overall LOVED it though.

I've never baked much when it comes to (homemade) dough. I actually had MH pause the movie a couple of times so that I could look up dough making on Youtube. I thought, "How did we survive before the internet?" I guess I'd be asking someone's mom to help me. I have done a wee bit of dough/baking before but is usually quite a mess. In this case I started with, "What was I thinking!?" & ended up with round pierogie dough and some confidence. Phew! I never did end up making any home made pizza dough, and so I am putting that next on my list. I also have a samosa recipe that looked way too involved, but the first thing I thought was I could totally do a samosa. After doing the pierogis. Same idea, different fillings.

Oh, and I did need a cookie cutter for this recipe. I decided just to measure the cups we already have, and I had the right size. That was my frugal victory. I love a useful kitchen tool, but try to avoid single-taskers if at all possible. I was determined to find something around the house; it didn't take long. I had some plastic cups with 5" openings, that were perfect for cutting dough into round shapes.

Yesterday we watched Swing Time. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. I liked it.

The theme from these early movies seems to be how poorly the female lead actresses were treated. Ugh!

Next on the (Top 100) List: The French Connection. (Watching along with a Podcast, but they are not going in order). I get a movie reprieve for the next 10 days or so. With MH gone next weekend, we probably won't watch that one until the following week.

One other thing we do on the entertainment front is try to see more lesser known/up-and-coming acts. Not only is it a lot cheaper, but is also always a much better experience. For example, MH saw the Lumineers open up for one of our favorite artists at a little restaurant. This was right before they hit it big. I think I missed the first time they headlined locally, but MH took me (to a small club) the second time they came around and they were already clearly very frustrated by how crowded the venue was. They wanted to come out into the audience, and tried, but it just wasn't working well. I can not even fathom seeing them in a large stadium or how they must feel about that!

So anyway, though I took DL to the Symphony recently and it was absolutely *amazing*, it was also quite expensive. I don't know why I haven't been paying too much attention to it, but the art museum (we are members) has concerts for $8. I guess one of the performances caught my eye. For reference, the tickets are $10 or $12 to see anything at DL's art school. I just paid $10 per head just to see his spring vocal performance (which was totally amazing; talk about up-and-coming talent). But it just hit me that seeing some of these art museum concerts is cheaper than a student concert! I need to pay more attention in the future.

Edited to add: Don't waste your money on Ocean's 8. Glad we didn't pay for that one.

Exhausted...

June 10th, 2018 at 08:57 am

I feel like NOTHING is going to be easy about this year. *sigh*

MM(15) is always charmed, and his 8-day river rafting trip went GREAT! They did an expensive tour (he went with my dad) and they had a blast.


That said, DL(13) had already been pretty moody in recent weeks and was very stressed about finals. He pretty much completely fell apart with his brother being gone AND finals. UGH! I am hoping things settle down a bit now that school is done for summer and his brother is back. (So far so good...). He had otherwise gone 18 months without any episodes.

On top of all that, I have some medical issues. We are just watching things and seeing what to do next. (I don't think anything major, but who knows). Just female stuff, or mostly TMI. But this is just adding to my emotional exhaustion of late.

Work is as weird as it ever was. I don't really know anything more than my last post on the subject. *sigh* I've been very much in 9-5 mode, especially with endless doctor appointments and so on.

MH is done with work for summer. Phew! I can't even fathom him working full-time right now. That is very much on the back burner, for now. Original plan for him to work part-time another 12 months? We are back to that. {Back in January: 18 months + completely job uncertainty, I wasn't so sure about}. But knowing that I at least have a job, and that we are only facing 12 more months on our original timeline... Is all good. He's been working the equivalent of full-time lately anyway, and it's been pretty traumatic on our household. (Maybe working 35+ hours at job +12 hours on movie set. Sometimes more, so I guess it's just been a lot).

On Friday the kids were whisked off to some last minute party. We were both completely exhausted, as we settled back into some sort of normalcy. DL had his last final Thursday, and MM came home that day. Anyway, I wanted to just go out and have a nice dinner. My expectations were low on a Friday night. But I still have tons of gift cards we never used. So we went to Seasons 52 and just completely pigged out. I ordered Prosecco. We ordered several appetizers. The restaurant can be hit or miss, but was *so good* on Friday. The waiter even commented we must like the food because we completely cleared our plates. I don't know how often we splurge on dinners like that and it's kind of "meh". I mean, it's not often. But I think it's that much more disappointing when you have saved up a very long time for a treat. I guess I should say that more often than not, these things end up being kind of "meh". So we really enjoyed having such an amazing meal. I had a $50 gift card, so we ate like a $100 meal with that. $50 out of pocket. Made it easier to splurge.

So I mentioned in my last post that we were watching the Top 100 movies (AFI) along with a new podcast called 'Unspooled'. I was really skeptical about my long-term participation. We watched Citizen Kane (#1) and that was okay. Certainly very relevant in this day and age. But I was dreading the second movie (#100), Ben Hur. It's almost 4 hours long! Anyway, in the end, I surprisingly enjoyed it. I don't even know if I can tell you why. I just wasn't bored at all though I expected it to be quite boring. The plot was predictable and the acting was "meh", but I guess it was just all so grand. There was certainly some incredible highlights, like the boat/slave scenes and the Chariot race. I guess every movie race ever pulls from that one race. & I also noticed the music sounded a heck of a lot like Star Wars. Star Wars is clearly very much inspired by Ben Hur. The downside to all the discussions is that you want to watch like 5 more movies for every one movie you see. Since I've committed to watch one classic movie every week, will just have to let it go. There are only so many hours in a day! But I can tell you that I think I will enjoy this more than I thought I would. Citizen Kane was a little harder to get through. But Ben Hur was entertaining and really opened my eyes to how much it influenced future cinema. (After watching Ben Hur, 1959 version, I'd be interested to see the earlier silent version which everyone mostly says is better, and the more recent version ~ 2016? Also, Life of Brian might be fun to watch again, as it was mentioned how much it pulls from Ben Hur. & on and on and on).

Today we watch the Wizard of Oz. This will be one of the very few (Top 100) movies that I have seen before. It's on Amazon Prime right now.

I guess if there is a theme to this year, it's going to be "culture", for my household. I do think I will be attending the Symphony more this year. I received an incredible deal on the last musical we went to because I had liked the event or page on Facebook. So I made sure to "like" every musical production I was interested in this year. Will see... & now we are doing this movie project.

So far, most of these movies we are borrowing from the library. (Er, we borrowed Citizen Kane from in-laws' cable, but I guess the library was an option for that one). MH is usually pretty picky about film format, but he likes the DVD option because they do come with a lot of extras usually. We didn't watch any extras after the 4-hour movie. Wink

Upcoming Vacations

May 30th, 2018 at 09:14 am

**I mentioned in my last post that I am taking a staycation of sorts this week. I guess since everyone else in my house has so much fun stuff planned (later), and I am long overdue for a break, I am just focusing on some small splurges this week. I picked up a few treats at the grocery store. I will probably go out to lunch today, etc.

**On Monday we dropped MM(14) off with my parents. He is going on a long river rafting trip with my dad.

He finished school last week. He usually has school well into June. So they might have gone on this trip last year, but when I pointed out how much earlier he gets out this year (public high school), they decided to wait. Is already pushing it as far as crazy hot weather in the Grand Canyon, but May beats June or July.

We spent $200 getting supplies for the trip, as I expected. & some of the items, like sunglasses and swim trunks, he can use beyond just the one trip. He's otherwise roughly the same size as MH. That makes it easier to buy higher end sporting gear, if I know we might use it again in the future. Mostly, he just needed proper shoes and some high quality rain gear. He needed a sweatshirt for this trip and I just gave him one of mine.

**MH just booked a June trip to LA to try and get a script sold. He was able to get a free timeshare stay (even though it was rather last minute) and will just drive, so is just a small blip on my financial radar.

**DL(13) is cashing in his raincheck for his 10th birthday trip. MIL took all her grandkids "anywhere in the world" on their 10th birthday. DL decided he was only 10 and wasn't interested. MH's family has been very melodramatic about this. OMG. I am just like, "He's 10." Or, "He's 11." I was quite sure he would come around with a little age and maturity. & trust me, we've told him not to pass up an opportunity like this. But MIL is one of those people that pushes and pushes and pushes, which usually has the complete opposite effect on people. So I was trying to buffer that as much as possible, because otherwise he would never go.

In the end, maybe because he is a bit older, he choose the most exotic destination of all the kids: Finland. They are planning for that trip in the fall. He's just always wanted to live there. & we've probably told him 100 times to use this opportunity to see if he actually likes it there. It's in the past few months that he has decided that he is ready.

I just dug out passports over the weekend because MM was was flying to Arizona. (He's a minor, but he looks 20. I figured it was best to have some proper ID on him). The kids' passports (just) expired and of course we have to renew in person. UGH! It was the most painful experience last time. I will just renew them both together (again), and then we never have to do that again.

Time Off

May 29th, 2018 at 09:04 am

With MH being so busy, I am completely exhausted. What a month!

I have this week off, but haven't had any time to process that. So, I feel rather "meh" about it. Work was surprisingly quiet last week, which I guess is some of it. Almost any other week this year I probably would have been in more, "Get me out of here" mode. I planned this as just a mental health break. Is unpaid time off (spurred by change in business ownership).

Anyway, we shipped MM off yesterday, for his river rafting trip with my dad. We spent most of yesterday stuck in a horrible traffic jam. UGH.

I am also kind of bummed that everyone in my house is so busy. But I decided to go to the coastline by myself for one or two days this week. That sounds DIVINE! I have no idea what I will end up doing, but I am jotting down notes to drag MH with me on some weekend when he is done with work for the summer. (I've crossed off a couple of things I'd rather wait for MH to do).

I am starting to think I may just go to San Francisco for the day. At the least, will go to the beach and my favorite restaurant (in SF). Which by itself is probably all I need. But while there, I am thinking about going to the zoo or the art museum. Is just going to depend on my mood that day. I am definitely just going to wing it.

The other thing I realized I need to make sure to make time for is some pool/sun time. Is really my only goal for today. I am going to get some gas (cheap/small gas station; will go while it's not busy). I am going to buy some groceries (we need a few things and MH didn't have time, but I also want to buy some treats. It will be a very small grocery run). I will check gas buddy because it just depends on the day which gas station is cheaper. I think the grocery store may be the same price (gas) today, and in that case might as well not drive around so much.

It's going to be pretty hot today, so I won't go to the pool until late afternoon.

That's about it for my plans today. As I get more into vacation mode, I will probably look up some books to check out from the library (I would love any recommendations) and I may work on my knitting. All of the above is usually stuff I have/make time for. I am viewing this week as a chance to hit the reset button. This year has just not been very "balanced" with us both being so busy/stressed on the work front.

Oh, and I forgot one more thing. MH mentioned some podcast (Unspooled) where they watch and discuss the AFI's Top 100 movies. A lot of classics that he has never seen. I told him in theory that sounds nice, but I am never able to keep up with all the movies he watches. & I don't generally like what a time suck movies are. (I am not a movie person, and he is THE movie person. I do like movies. But I am just generally good with like once per month, whereas MH will watch a movie every single day). But... it's summer and whatever, I can give it a go. So we are going to watch #1 Citizen Kane tonight. I think we decided that we will watch the movies together and just do the podcasts on our own time. He wants to keep up and watch one movie every week. Will see... I am not very optimistic about my long-term participation.

I'll ask him later how he acquired Citizen Kane. I don't remember. But I wouldn't be surprised if he owns like half the movies already. & we are generally able to watch movies for free because he has credits to rent (through Amazon/Vudu, etc.). & for more difficult movies to find, I know he's bought used and sold back in the past. So, as we go along I will try to remember to share how we participate frugally.

Edited to add: Most these movies are at our library.

FUN STUFF

April 15th, 2018 at 09:32 am

I did two posts of work updates. I am ready to look forward and to talk about something else!

I kind of have no idea where we stand financially. We are definitely in "too busy to spend money" mode and in the usual "hoarding money" zone that we start every year off with. Usually MH's work is more slow in the spring but he's been busy.

Anyway, I usually eat out a bit more during my busy work season. Not a ton, but I figure if I go out one day per week it's covered by OT. Except in this case I am working more hours than ever but I am not getting compensated for the extra time. So that is the part I don't really know and am not sure of. I guess next weekend I can sort out April and see where we are at. I told MH that I don't think I have been spending any more money than usual, but it's just I am not entirely sure how to pay for the "Stress spending." If it will come out of his paycheck, or savings, or what.

In addition, I have been indulging in some bigger splurges. Definitely a feeling of "I deserve this," after months of working so hard. In this case, we don't have any vacation plans, and so might start tapping the vacation fund. It would be our "normal" to use it for treats that we can't otherwise justify, or more staycation-y type stuff. Our traveling the last few years has been unusual for us.

Splurges:

--I got front row seats to the symphony in a couple of weekends. Just DL and I are going. That was crazy expensive. If we have a great time and want to go back again in the future, we don't have to sit so close next time. Definitely a special treat.

--Robogames (robot battles) is in a couple of weekends. This is my absolutely favorite thing. It is SO FUN! So I am very excited about that. I thought we'd bring some friends and this might get expensive (if we are covering driving, lunch, dinner, tickets). But it looks like it will just be the four of us. Regardless, it will be pricey but I will pull from vacation budget or MH's paycheck. Is probably only $100 for tickets, but last time we bought some beer and food there, and we will probably want to go out for a meal or two that day.

--I got tix to see the Beach Boys in September at an awesome venue. There is a winery in the Bay Area that I've seen some great concerts at. It's maybe been 5+ years (10 years?) since we have seen any shows there. The lineup hasn't been that exciting the last couple of years that we checked. This year!? OMG! So many good shows. MH was "meh" on all the weeknight shows. Having no idea what is going on with my job, I agreed we should just stick to weekends. This left Steve Martin/Martin Short (which sold out in like 5 seconds) and the Beach Boys. I am glad I was able to get the Beach Boy tickets for the whole family.

I've also got piles of dining out gift cards to get through. Was thinking that DL and I might go to P.F. Chang's before the symphony.

I still owe my dad his birthday dinner at Benihana. We had plans in January, but the restaurant shut down that day and canceled our reservation due to "technical difficulties." Seriously! Maybe we can try again during the next few weeks. (I have gift cards for this).

It's good to have some fun stuff to look forward to.

Gift Card Balances February 2018

February 25th, 2018 at 12:17 pm

Just tracking my gift cards. Not *all* credit card rewards, but most of them are.


GIFTS:
------
$ 20 x5 Target


MOVIES:
--------

RESTAURANTS:
------------
$25 Red Lobster


RETAIL:
---------
$100 Staples ($50x2)**School supplies next summer?**
$200 Home Depot ($50x4) **need taller ladder**
$75 Kohls ($50 + $25) **to replace kids' shoes?**


Note: Edited over time to remove used gift cards.

Spending, Taxes

February 2nd, 2018 at 05:42 am

**MH saw some noise cancelling headphones on Amazon for 90% off. He figured what the heck. In the end I guess it was a pricing mistake because they canceled the order.

**MH is still looking for the right blu ray player for the TV we bought 9 months ago. In the end he saw another "too good to be true" deal for $25. I guess this was at Walmart. In the store it didn't show the advertised price (85% off) and they seemed to think he was crazy when he inquired, but it rang up for $25.

He hadn't picked one up before because he was being crazy picky. I got the sense this had everything he wanted, but maybe also willing to settle a bit in the interim because nothing to lose at that price. In the end, it seemed to have some problems and they were out of stock by then (couldn't exchange) but he diagnosed that he needed a better cable and it seems fine now.

So I thought he was 0 for 2, but maybe this one will work out. He is going to give it some time.

**My cell phone is almost 4 years old and I was targeting all along to replace this spring (at the 4 year mark). Given work uncertainty, I asked MH yesterday to keep an eye out. I told him I probably rather get used to a new phone before I am more seriously job searching. & I'd rather buy a phone while I have a (high paying) job. So he will start looking around for me.

My phone is mostly fine but has admittedly been wonky for about 18 months. It is not secure as I am sure it is no longer receiving updates, so that is my main concern. It turns off randomly at times (but I don't use enough for it to matter). MH saved it from a "black screen of death" about a year ago. I know his tech skills have helped me to keep it the 4 years that everyone else seems to think is crazy and impossible. But even MH has been nagging me a bit as he knows I no longer receive security updates. I was dead set on 4 years because I had paid $400 for it. I can be okay with 3 years and 10 months.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I usually file taxes early, before I have tax forms. Because I don't need the tax forms. But I peruse the tax forms as they come in and make sure they agree to my records.

In the end, my mortgage company reported that I paid more interest than I did. ??? It's the only tax form mistake I ever recall catching. I double checked their website and their monthly interest amounts (2017) matched mine, so I will ignore the tax form. It was in my favor so I won't worry about it. If it went the other way I would make sure that they correct it.

I plan to file taxes today. Our software at work hadn't been updated yet. I talked to the person in charge of that yesterday and she seemed confused, but we finally decided she was out Friday and hadn't followed up on our weekly updates. (They should get done regardless, but she usually makes sure that they are done). She got it updated ASAP when she realized we couldn't file *any* tax returns yet. It was a hectic day/week, so will just press the "send" button when I get to work today. I knew I had all sorts of tax forms in the mail (in route or sitting in mail box) and figured I better check those first.

I did well with harvesting tax gains for kids. I always strategically harvest tax gains at 0% tax rate. But this year I squeaked by with harvesting tax gains and not even having to file a tax return for them. I don't know how realistic that goal is as their investments grow, but works for now.

The Next Phase

January 27th, 2018 at 12:43 pm

We did end up eating lunch at the culinary school.

$30 for all that (salmon, shrimp, and steak sandwich), plus dessert.



I was surprised they were open (so early in the semester). Any other time we've gone is just like any restaurant. But it was so obviously their first day for this group of students. They all looked like deer in headlights. The second appetizer we tried to order was burned so they couldn't serve it. It added some layer of fun/amusement to the whole thing, but the food was still GREAT! We were the only ones there. Ha! I would absolutely go back on their first day, though it's all a little more smooth after that. (In the past it's been hard to get reservations; it does fill up).

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, it's time for me to figure out the next phase. Things at work aren't good and the writing is on the wall. My employer is *amazing* but I always knew this day would come because is a small employer of retirement age.

While I am planning for the worst case, I did initially feel like I may have some more months of job security. MH and I had decided to take our time and to be choosy. We will both be looking for work. In an ideal world, we would have had one more year! Until MM(14) is driving and the kids are more independent. (At that point MH was going to look for full-time work anyway). But I honestly never expected to have this job for so long. I am thankful that I did have it for this long, because this was really the ideal job as to raising kids. I was paid a full-time/high level salary to really work what is considered more part-time hours in my industry. At this point my kids are mostly grown. (At the least, daycare is no longer a concern at all).

I initially thought I would have more time and we decided to take this time to be choosy. Was expecting some measure of job stability through April. As of Friday, feeling more turmoil about the whole thing. I am hoping to have more clarity soon. But I have already reached out to a recruiter and identified a "dream job" of sorts that I doubt will pay very well but otherwise fits all my bullet points. I like the idea of interviewing for such an exciting job opportunity while I am in a strong negotiating position. It would be more of a stepping stone. I think we both kind of have nowhere to go but up. For MH in particular. But for me, if I step down a bit, it would be thinking to more long-term opportunities and growth.

The local economy has been pretty horrible most the years we have lived here. I am happy to say I have NEVER seen so many jobs. It's completely absurd. So though I feel some amount of post traumatic stress from MH's last layoff (2001) and MH's long-term unemployment, I do recognize that this is a completely different situation. The job outlook is good for both of us.

Financially I feel surprisingly *shrugs* about this. I suppose this is our WHY. We don't live below our means just because we like to feel deprived or whatever. Wink The way we dealt with MH's unemployment was absolutely priceless. We did not sweat at all the first 3+ years. We *shrugged* and ended up being some of the best times of our life. MH was home with me during my maternity leaves; those are some of my fondest memories. We are in a similar position now, except with substantially more assets. Money worries aren't on my mind whatsoever at this moment in time.

The only non-negotiable I have is that I want to get DL(12) through high school here (5.5 more years). That's it. His school is phenomenal. While the economy was down, I always knew I could mega commute to the Bay Area (more jobs with higher pay). Or we could sell our home and live off the proceeds for several years. Neither of these options were ideal, but it helped me to sleep well at night. I guess having my pick of jobs that may pay slightly less sounds kind of like a dream in comparison. & I am not set on that route. I am open to anything. Just to be clear. I may push myself to secure a higher paying/higher stress job with the idea that I only need to do this until MH gets some better career footing.

Financially I am *shrugs* but emotionally I am a bit of a wreck. I am mourning the loss of my job. It's been such a big part of my life for so long. Most the employees have been there longer than I have. Plus, what else in my life have I ever done for 16 years?? Holy cow! I am actually somewhat excited about the next phase and future opportunities, but I just notice it feels like dealing with a death. I am sure that part will take some time to work through.

Current plan:

This weekend I am getting a haircut (is overdue), do our taxes (while I have access to work software), updating my resume, etc.

We turned off MH's 401k contributions and will be hoarding cash like crazy.

If I go MIA for a bit, my work is CRAZED and I have a list of chores a mile long re: job searching.


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