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Archive for August, 2008

Free Karate

August 31st, 2008 at 07:10 am

BM is very active and we were thinking of letting him try baseball last year and whimped out. We decided to enjoy our last few months free of schedules and such. Since he was to start kindergarten this month.

Anyway, I knew soccer was a fall sport and I did look into it, but sign ups were ages ago. Egads.

I should put the baseball/softball dates on the calendar, and soccer - as a reminder to be a little more on the ball. (unintended pun).

For the best, he seems overwhelmed with school. I discussed with dh and we decided no new activities for the year. It's only K, but it is all day and they have PE, art and even spanish. I think he has enough to occupy him. Best of all, all that is "free."

BUT I did pick up the community center catalog on a whim, while at aerobics yesterday morning. (My $2.50 aerobic/yoga class. I can't imagine life without that gem. LOVE the community center).

I had already perused it online, and didn't expect much. Will probably keep it financially low key the rest of the year and such. & considering our talks of giving BM a break.

BUT as I flipped through, dh did mention that BM has talked much about going to his karate class.

We dropped it because it was moved from evening to 4:30; a terrible time. But it was "only" $7.50 per class and was just AWESOME. He LOVED it. Now it fits in rather well as an after-school activity. So we can reconsider it.

So we decided to sign him up yesterday. The $30/month would not make or break us.

I was also pleased when I hurriedly signed up online, before month-end when it becomes an infinitely more complicated sign-up process, I was so pleased to see that they dropped all service charges for online registration. IT was only $2-$3 per class but it just annoyed me to no end.

So instead I was charged a flat $30, and life is good.

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No, not exactly free.

BUT my parents called me with an interesting proposition yesterday. They wanted to add on to our Verizon family plan. They pay $50/month for some ancient/bare bones Verizon plan and we pay $80/month for some newer Verizon family plan. We've had it forever and shop around every couple of years, but recently upgraded to a modern plan from our ancient one. It's nice to actually have minutes.

I primarily use my phone for emergencies and to talk to my spouse (free) and to KIT with out parents ("free" long distance). The rest of our family as well.

But I have gone over my minutes a few times talking to my mom WAY too much. I don't believe my parents had the benefit of talking to anyone in Verizon free since they have such an old plan. We could maybe just be misinformed...

Anyway, it only cost $20/month to add their 2 lines, and it turns out we could have different area codes, and I guess really we don't even have to be family. I am LOVING this.

We will split the bill in half, which means our bill will probably go down from $80/month to $50/month. Big Grin

What a nice little surprise.

& that pretty much covers BM's karate passion, for a while.

The best part was I was trying to talk my folks into coming up for a visit, and they decided to come up last minute to get our phones set up. So they came up yesterday and we had a delightful visit. Now I just have to get used to calling my mom on her cell.

We decided to stick with our 700-minute plan since we mostly call each other anyway. My parents did not have free roaming or long distance, or any minutes for that matter, so this is quite an upgrade for them, for the same price they were paying. Anyway, I will monitor our usage and we'll give it a whirl. I don't expect we will have to upgrade our minutes, but I guess we should test it all out before I get too excited... We'll see how the month goes.

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Anyway, MIL is still very excited to pay for piano lessons for BM, but I think it is all way too much for right now. I think ideally I should have been teaching him more when he was younger. He was so bored with reading so early on (he had SUCH a letter obsession as a baby he knew the entire alphabet at 18 months and could read well enough at 2.5) I considered teaching him to read music as a way to challenge him. I figured he was certainly ready and maybe it would REALLY Stick to learn at age 4. But I was lazy and never really got around to it.

At this point he is so busy at school, it's like, what's the hurry. What's another 6 months. But with MIL's promise to foot the bill, we will get around to it while he is 5, I am sure. I started piano lessons at 6 so I know the world will not end if we wait a year... More age, maturity, and patience is probably preferred.

I think it is important for the kids to learn music, and not so sure the public schools will come through like they did for us, in these times. BUT I also don't expect BM to be much of a musician. LM is clearly the musical one. So we'll see. I have the feeling LM will fare more with music lessons and band practices, and that BM will be rather sporty. Which is interesting since no one in our family has ANY interest in sports, but we will brave those waters for our child. Wink

LM has NO interest in letters and reading, even at 3, but he already composes his own music. So the differences in their brains is CLEAR.

I assume he has no interest in sports like the rest of us, but that is probably a pretty broad assumption for now. Having a big brother to look up to changes the playing field, as it were. He may be more interested in keeping up with big bro than seriously considering his own wants. Or maybe he will genuinely be sporty too... I just don't see it, for now.

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Well, it's the lifestyle I have been dreading. Kindergarten! School! Schedules!

It really hasn't started out so bad.

BM had friday off, and monday off of course.

There doesn't seem to be much rushing with a 8:30 start time (& a 2-minute-drive to the school).

& for now, this is the start time through 5th grade. I am rather pleased with it all.

It IS an adjustment consulting the calendar when it comes to appointments and such. & I am sure it will SUCK when it comes to vacations. I just realized BM has the most time off the beginning of April (2 weeks) and the last 2 weeks of december (rather standard). The bummer thing is those are my BUSIEST times at work. So I don't know. The only time he really seems to have off that works as far as vacation, is July/August. What a crappy/busy time to travel...

About my only gripe for now.

Awesome News/ ??? News

August 29th, 2008 at 10:41 am

BM had his first fillings today.

#1 Awesome news - he took it like a PRO. Dh said he was totally fine. I called him afterwards and asked if he was scared. He just laughed and said no. "Why would I be scared?" Yup, that's my kid.

His boldness has calmed down a bit with age, thank goodness, but is a great asset in a time like this. (When he is older I am afraid he will be a sky diver though. !! It has its pluses and minuses).

It's funny because LM is the epitome of caution - so raising a daredevil and raising Mr. Cautious is just kind of a funny comparison, at times. I keep thinking thank goodness BM is the one with the cavities. Simply because he can handle it.

So that is AWESOME news.

Also, they only thought half of the 8 molar cavities would need filling, but wouldn't know for sure until they got in there.

True to their estimation, he only needed one filling today. The other one they drilled a bit to smooth it out, but was all it needed.

Yay!!!!!!

One down, 3 to go in that regard. I hope all the rest turn out the same - pretty much what they had told me.

He also has 3 front teeth to fill. So still a long ways to go, regardless... They want to do it in 4 more visits. I can only hope all the other visits go so well. But this was definitely a positive start to the whole process.

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The other interesting news that I am not sure how to classify is that the kids' daycare is selling their house. Frown

I just don't know what to think. They said they don't plan to move far but want to downsize their HUGE yard. I am trying to brace myself for the possibility they move farther out. I don't know what we'll do. They are "family." I can not imagine sending my kid elsewhere. I am not sure we would. I wanted LM to have the same awesome experience that BM did.

I did notice a daycare (new) on the street behind ours so it could be something to look into. But I don't like the idea at all. I am happy with where we have been sending our kids for the last 2 years. !!!

I had a few thoughts.

Thoughts one and two, it may take a long while to sell and be a rather moot point, or they might not be able to sell at all... & I mean, if it takes a year, I think we will be ready to move on at that point anyway.

Third thought was they could move closer or even be more convenient.

But farther out, I just don't know. It's already a bit out of the way.

I guess it is a little too soon to get worked up about. But we'll see...

We will probably have much to think about if the move comes to fruition.

For now I guess I won't worry about it. Could be months if not years... In this market.

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Thank goodness for the long weekend. Just one of those weeks where I NEED it. Big Grin

I think I mentioned already - weekend plans to swim, go to the park, and maybe go for a hike. Attempting no-spend. We'll see.

Stress is Decreasing a Bit

August 28th, 2008 at 07:38 am

I stayed a little late at work yesterday to prepare some rebates. I had thought the due dates were not clear when I realized one was to be postmarked yesterday! So I went to the post office. Gah.

Mailed $90 in rebates, cell phone and computer related - will help the bottom line.

Looking at the credit card bill and feeling better able to tackle it, though we maybe weren't the best this month. We could have saved another $100-$200 through extreme diligence. We can try again next month. We'll be boring homebodies; I think we will survive.

Trying to spend no gas through the rest of the month - $100 under budget as is. Phew!

If we had bought no clothing or stayed in from our fancy dinner out we would have another $150 to spare. Then again, I am not sure my boss would appreciate my worn clothing for one more month. But we have September to redo and save some cash. (& October & November as well - living some lean months).

Anyway, today was the first day I wasn't stressed about it all. & I have dh to thank. He has REALLY come through. This is the man I remember.

Today the credit card sits at $3k and we have no plans but for a few groceries this weekend. We'll see, but I think we can have a no-spend week otherwise. (Credit card closes Wednesday so we have a full week left to be very frugie).

$3,000 August credit card bill
- 400 airfare reimbursement from mom
- 1400 budget
- 200 ebay sales (dh)
- 100 focus group (dh)
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$ 900 Shortfall

Really, all of it is the new computer. Or $800 computer & $100 fridge repair, I guess.

I don't mind pulling $300 from savings, for the full fridge repair. What that is for.

So I guess $900 - $300 = $600 to contend with - all computer.

I expect a $250 rewards check (Credit card) in a month. We got it WAY early with all this stuff. & about $100 in rebates.

So in the end leaves us with $250 shortfall in the long run.

I guess pulling out $250 from savings for a brand new computer is not a huge deal in the end. Why I am starting to feel better as I tally the numbers.

Plus, at this rate, dh will easily make $250 next month. I think I will even ask him to try to hit that goal.

Reminds me, it isn't done yet. The kids both have doctor appointments and BM starts his dental fillings this week as well. The medical stuff is covered by the medical fund; not a prob.

BUT dental, I don't know. I made some appointments in October because he has so many Fridays off. As long as it doesn't hurt to wait another month, I think it will be nice to spread the costs out a bit.

I also have around $1k in the medical fund to take care of the first 6 fillings or so (there may only be 7).

There is a very slight chance I won't have to drain my mid-term savings below $3k. VERY slight. I won't hold my breath...

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Oh yeah, I thought I was getting better at editing myself around people terrible with money. But now, I don't think so. LOL. I have just been less annoyed of late and thought I was getting better.

But I ran into someone yesterday who is totally broke, having a new baby, and not sure if they can afford all the new crib and changing tables and such.

I am thinking to myself, "Why are you buying NEW?????? Why are you buying a changing table?" Certainly not the first thing on my list if I Were broke. (& this is their second child - they should know how useless some of those expensive baby things are).

I just find it ironic when we weren't broke we bought secondhand stuff and skipped a lot of the nonsense.

I guess it's not ironic. It's why we tend to not be broke.

But you know, you just want to shake these people.

Instead I didn't say anything. I've learned to not say anything. It wouldn't have gone over well. So I guess I edited myself, but boy I did have to gripe about it.

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The only other thing I can think of coming up is HAlloween. The kids have 2 very nice outfits which I will probably put up on ebay. We will use the cash to buy something else. So I am pleased with that. I don't think halloween will cost us anything in that regard.

This year the kids are huge on spiderman. They want to be Spiderman and IceMan. In fact, LM generally insists he is IceMan anymore.

I don't even know who IceMan is. LOL. They've moved into decidedly more BOY territory.

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Oh yeah, the ticket talk reminded me. There is no parking on the street in front of the school (& the parking lot is terribly tiny. It used to be the back parking lot for the middle school - it's a charter school without a permanent location - we just make do with what we can get).

Anyway, dh asked if I had just parked there and I asked him if he was crazy. The government is looking for money and the last thing I need is a ticket. I can walk a few blocks. Which I only did the first couple of days while I gaged the traffic. Drop off is working out okay.

Anyway, yesterday there was someone out there issuing tickets and wouldn't you know a number of people stopped (& got out of their cars!!!!) anyway.

I don't know what people are thinking...

The city must be loving this windfall. !

& my kids keep asking, "How come no one follows the rules?" We have a new playground being built and there were people taking their toddlers in there with exposed metals and NO ground covering. It was totally insane. & the kids want to go in and you have to explain those people are stupid and no you can not go play in the extremely dangerous/unfinished playground. People have just lost their minds or something... IT's been months and I know they are sick of seeing everyone else play in the playground. & everyone else park on the street while we walk. etc., etc., etc.

Staycation

August 27th, 2008 at 07:21 am

I think reality has sit in with dh - I think he has decided not to go to the Bay this weekend.

Anyway, I read my fellow local blogger maismom said she was thinking "staycation" for the 3-day-weekend.

I certainly have the same plans.

I guess this is where I feel blessed to have a flexible job (something I really wouldn't have any other way).

I notice more and more over the years how the masses pile up their cars on 3-day-weekends and head out.

Sounds absolutely horrific to me - the traffic and crowds. We try to limit our vacations to 3-day-weekends that aren't 3-day-weekends for everyone. Or maybe just shortened weekends - avoiding the crowds.

So, as usual, I have no Labor Day plans. I think it is a great time to stay home. Big Grin Perhaps BBQ and do so stuff local. But no, would not be one to go camping or head out of town for the weekend. Blech.

The state fair is going on, but in past years we weren't impressed and as we are pinching pennies it is not something we are planning.

I think this is the last weekend the pool is open so we will hit the pool, maybe 3 times, and we may visit Fairytale Town (a few minutes drive - which will probably be empty anyway). & there will mostly be hanging out at home. Not much else I rather do. Though it may be a good time for a local hike - depends on the weather. That is something to think on.

I am planning on taking the week of Thanksgiving off which isn't terribly exciting, but is also not a huge travel time on that M-T, or the weekend before (on the roads). So we will have to think on how we may take advantage of that time. BM will be out of school. I was also thinking of taking a couple of Fridays off in December - we will probably do some traveling then. Monterey and/or San Francisco, with or without kids.

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Reminds me, as much as I don't do crowded 3-day weekends, I am also not a fan of traffic. Ugh!

I don't know what it was Monday but it was TRAFFIC everywhere. It really sucked. No doubt contributed to my grumpy mood. Seems to have been an isolated incident. I wonder if school was starting back or what, for many people. It just seemed everywhere I went...

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Anyway, I am officially sick but it is very mild. Dh said he thinks he got it too. The kids would never slow down to let us know - I should probably look in their throats to see if they are suffering the same fate.

It's 7am and BM is still asleep. That boy is whooped. (The kids delight at waking up before 6am, usually. It's strangely quiet at this 7am hour).

I still didn't get any sleep because at 1am LM let out a scream in his sleep. I think him? I don't know - the kids have it out for me. It's been that way every night lately. I was awaken by weird noises the other night just to find them fast asleep.

LM I give kudos too - he is usually too fearful to get up and potty on his own so he just whimpers or calls us quietly. I hear it all though - dh just sleeps through. So last night I awoke at 2am (the witching hour lately) to a door slam. Not only had LM gotten up by himself, but he closed (slammed) the door so the light wouldn't bother anyone. Probably at the request of dh. Which is fine, except it was a bit loud. BM and dh were none the wiser. I would not say I am a light sleeper, but no, I can not sleep like the dead like those two. Gah. & when it comes to the kids - yeah - I hear everything. It's a mom thing. Dh, bless him, was always great with the kids when they were infants, night shift and such. BUT sometimes it wasn't helpful because I would often wake up just BEFORE the kids did or often I would hear them and he wouldn't. Which only helps so much. If you're wide awake anyway, and your spouse is snoring away through the screams, might as well get up. Wink The last few nights were very deja vu in that regard.

I figured LM would need help anyway so up I was, last night.

I can't help but wonder if I got a night of uninterrupted sleep, if my sore throat may go away. *sigh*

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The kids have doctor checkups this week, and BM has his first dental fillings. Ugh. What a $$$$$ week it is. Though dh and I did joke we would get billed for these doctor appointments in a year. Not too much to stress over. They are maddening. The bills trickle in slower than molasses. I think it has been over 6 months since our ambulance adventure with BM and still no bill for the ambulance? It's maddening to me to have no idea how much it cost. The only plus is it may cost 0 because BM may use his entire deductible in the interim. & if we don't use ours, we may come out ahead. Imagine that?

Yeah, not holding my breath. But wishing and hoping, all the same. Could really use a lot of that medical savings for dental bills.

Hey they plus side is this is good for our taxes. My tax bill is going down by the second. OF course even that isn't terribly exciting at a 15% tax rate. For every $1k we spend on dental bills, we save $150? I guess it's like a built-in 15% discount.

Our medical deductions may be more than the max HSA anyway. Not what I would have wished, but yeah, we're not going the HSA route this year. For sure. At best we could have put $3k away, instead we will probably get to deduct $5k in expenses. (portion over 7.5% of our income - lucky us. Our medical expenses & premiums (including dental) run 15% gross income. I am just trying to look at the bright side). I am most definitely getting a tax refund - overwithheld by a few hundred, at this rate.

Grumpy Monkeys

August 26th, 2008 at 07:40 am

Gah, what a night. Everyone is so grumpy. LOL.

BM had his first full day of Kinder, and I am afraid it whooped him.

A long time napper I didn't expect it to really matter as he has outgrown naps for a few months. & we have been pushing bed time earlier and earlier, inch by inch, in preparation.

But he had a fit I guess yesterday afternoon and feel asleep amidst it all. & he was REALLY grumpy when he woke up (When I got home).

He eventually snapped out of it when we played an hour long game of "Hide the Wombat."

LOL.

LM just has the funniest stuffed wombat toy (funny looking but cute) and the kids just giggled like loons as we took turns hiding it. Doesn't take much to amuse them. Wink Of course, mommy put the wombat in the silliest of places so they loved that.

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Anyway, LM was up from about 2am-4am last night. I have NO IDEA what his deal was. HE woke up and said he wet his pants, but he hadn't and then he just would not sleep. Around 4am dh coaxed him back to sleep I gave up.

So I am just exhausted between those 2.

I jinxed myself though. Some stuff been going around and from being sick constantly, we have suddenly not been sick for a LONG while. I mentioned to dh like 2 days ago, knocking on wood and knowing I shouldn't think it, much less say it aloud.

Wouldn't you know, I have a sore throat now? Bah!

Jinxed!

& the kids behavior has been so odd I am worried they are feeling a little under the weather too.

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Dh was invited to a red egg and ginger party this weekend in the Bay Area.

http://chinesefood.about.com/library/weekly/aa012303a.htm

Sure, sounds fun, but do we need to spend any more money this month? We kind of fought about that last night. I told him hell no. But you know, I am a softie and if he REALLY wants to go.

I know, sometimes it is hard to believe that my dh is really the most frugal saver I know. It doesn't shine through very much in recent years. $800 on a computer, $300 in fridge repairs, and a potential $2k dental bill, all in ONE month, and he can't understand why one little trip to the Bay Area is a little excessive.

I was rethinking because the gas will only be $30. I can raise $30 from Craigslist before the weekend perhaps. BUT he should probably bring a gift. & that right there makes a $50 trip with money we simply don't have (& that being cheap!).

Oh yeah, and he wants to spend $20 on poker too.

I am afraid there will be other parties.

To think we almost made it a whole month without a long car trip. We'll see...

The sucker in me knows he doesn't get out much and I hate to say no. But egads, why does it have to be so expensive?

So yeah, we're all just grumpy.

Thoughts on Relocation...

August 25th, 2008 at 12:52 pm

I thought my renter friends were moving to Oregon to pay cash for their houses and/or enjoy significantly lower costs of living.

I overlooked that they were doing it the American way. What they really wanted was a giant asset to borrow six figures against.

I mentioned more people seem to be moving back to the state, as prices lower, just as I expected.

But I just learned why some are resistant to the idea. One friend just mentioned "because I can not afford to sell my house."

I read that to mean, "I put 0% down and/or borrowed large sums against it.

Oh my. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind. You'd think I'd learn by now.

This person has a Cali job so they can't blame lower wages for not helping their SIGNIFICANTLY decreased cost of living.

No wonder so many people look at our young faces and big house and tsk tsk behind our back. It's the American way. They obviously have not paid close attention to our old cars. I can't imagine what they imagine we have been financing. Even dh's computer/video fancies cost little more than $1k/year. Nowhere near the realm of borrowing six figures for...

But yeah, the old fashioned way of buying a house - it doesn't occur to anyone we went that route. Put 20% down, pay down a 30-year note, and after 9 years or so you have some decent equity (we've paid off 30%, and even better the principal payments are increasing greatly now). While everyone is complaining that the sky is falling we are looking at our average 3% annual real estate returns and wondering where exactly the sky is falling.

Anyway, mostly I am annoyed by myself for being completely shocked by that comment. I will never *get* the masses.

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Reminds me though, if you were curious at all. We have been here about 6.5 years in our cheaper cost of living safe haven.

Before when people asked me where I Was from, I Was confused. Where am I from? You mean my real and true home or the place where I Was able to get a steal on my dream house, and where I now live, work and raise my kids? I am not really from here.

But it happened.

Just a few weeks ago someone asked me and the kids where we were from. "Sacramento" just rolled off my tongue.

It took a little over 6 years, but it's HOME now.

I realized to I have spent a greater part of my adult life here. Just about anyway. Maybe that's the tipping point. 18-24 San Jose. 25-32 Sacramento.

I haven't even griped much about the weather this year. I am adjusting...

& anyway, it's official. Dh lived in the same home from age 0-23 or so. Which may be a little extreme. But I lived in the same home from age 4-18. We both wanted to settle before our kids start school.

So now that BM is in school, I feel like we are stuck in a sense. We don't want to pick up and move. I think it is pretty official that we would like to stay put the next 15 years or so, until the kids are done with school.

We're boring that way. Wink

I guess while everyone is panicking too I am thinking it is nice my kids may afford to live in the area as adults after all. I think that is the greatest travesty where my parents live. We'll probably inherit millions in real estate. But really, we just wanted to live our adult lives where we grew up, without being slaves to mortgages/rents. I Feel lucky we only had to move 2 hours away. But I'd give up the millions to be able to drop in on my parents any time. *sigh* & I was sad it was looking the same for our kids. I had no idea where they would live. So honestly, I would love it if prices settled down for the long term. Not planning on going anywhere. That is for sure...

But yeah, I have as many friends here now as I used to back home. I know the lay of the land. I know short cuts when the freeway is backed up. I understand the local lingo. It took a few years, but I think I am feeling rather comfy here. Big Grin Which is good since I think we will be here a while.

IT wasn't long here before we realized we would probably never move back home (no matter what). Life is way simpler here. BUT it still took a while to get into that comfort zone. To appreciate the area for more than the affordability.

Yay!

August 24th, 2008 at 07:41 am

We struck gold. Yay! Dh has been driving 10 miles+ to the post office. We live in the big city but no post office close AT ALL.

Anyway, they just opened a full service (domestic anyway) USPS in the Raley's grocery store. A mile away at most.

So not only is it REALLY close, but now we combine grocery shopping and USPS runs. Big Grin Will help the business bottom line - woohoo.

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I calculated if we buy lunch every Friday for BM it will cost about $40 for the entire year $2/lunch and LOTS of Fridays off.

So I think that seems fair.

I am ready to prepay the whole year, but not sure if I can.

They have it set up so you can pay online and I was never given a student # so can't sign up. Just one more thing to figure out - will call the school Monday.

I guess we should wait and see the menus too.

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Yesterday I went to aerobics and worked a couple of hours. I did some online shopping for some much needed things.

In the afternoon we played some video games and Mario, and we all went swimming. I was going to take BM for a bit of a workout, but LM decided last minute he wanted to go.

Next weekend is the last weekend the pool is open. Silly since much of September should be pleasant swimming weather. It is even worse they do not open until end of May. (March, April and May can have some pretty pleasant days).

BM is a pro, I hope he doesn't forget all he has learned. But LM also did great in the water. He was happy to scoot around with floaties on his arms. Usually he just clings to me like glue so it was impressive. Too bad all this will be forgotten by next summer! I am making a mental note to help him practice dunking his head in the bath tub and get his comfort up with that. If he gets more comfortable I may sign him up for private swim lessons next year. I decided these were really the frugal way to go. Though more expensive up front, it just took one session to get BM proficient in the water, whereas he didn't learn much in the group class that cost 1/3. Not sure he would have got to this level in 3 sessions there, so I think we came out ahead.

I hesitate to pressure LM too soon. It is a fine line between traumatizing him and helping him. I was the same way, but even so I can't say where the line is. This year he was too young for it all. But his newfound comfort in the water gives me hope next year he may be ready to become a serious swimmer.

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Today I would like to go to the gym and get a haircut. I need to return one thing at Kohls, phew. Get that bill down. One thing did not fit after all. All in the same shopping center though so will knock all that out in one trip.

Not much else planned. Dh is working on a family wedding video. Oh yes, he got XP working on his computer finally. Crisis Averted. He has 2 operating systems on his computer - the XP is just for editing. But knock on wood, all seems well so far. No more talks of upgrading $600 software right now. PHEW.

I did sign all the school paperwork and this is a charter school heavy on parental involvement. I figure I wouldn't mind being treasurer at some point down the road. Anyway, in the paperwork, they very smartly asked what our families talents/professions were. So I threw in the whole CPA and video editing thing. I thought it was great they asked up front and know we both may be able to contribute to the school in those areas. For now I am signing up for clerical work and dh is signing up for in-classroom volunteering.

I keep wanting to volunteer in other capacities because I like to mix it up. If I am going to sit at a desk all day I have often figured I'd prefer to do something entirely different for volunteer work. Which is one reason I have hesitated on finding a cause for now.

There is very much to this. I am happiest when I am doing many varied activities. I think I would be happy as a clam if I had 2 completely opposite jobs (I thrived in college with the various classes and jobs. My schedule was insane but I absolutely thrived with all the variety).

BUT, truth be told, as I look down the list of opportunities at the school, all I want to do is the treasurer kinds of functions or clerical work. I am not big with kids and much of the rest doesn't appeal to me. So be it! I imagine all this stuff is very different than my usual work anyway, in some regards.

It's kind of funny because dh and I were completely opposite. He just loves kids and wants to take the opportunity to get to know the teachers and principal and all that. He is still considering a teaching career and wants to take the opportunity to network and see how it really is on the inside.

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I think dh is trying to butter me up. On the menu for the week:

*Baked Potatoes stuffed with yummies (I forget the official name, but that about covers it. He made this recipe a few weeks back and I could eat that every day. YUM!!!! cheese, bacon and all that is bad for you).

*Burritos - Not exciting but I have been craving them

*Citrus chicken - A fave we haven't had in a while.

I don't know what else, but I expect to gain a few pounds. Wink

Reminds me, we cut up the melon we got from the farm yesterday and OMG. BEST melon I have ever had. We have melon out our ears. I couldn't even eat that much because it was so sweet.

You know I have my own pepsi addiction. I was going to have a bit of pepsi after dinner, and I just didn't even crave it after that. I told dh I wasn't sure of all that sugar pumping through my veins - VERY sweet. This from the pepsi addict! But was good. I said something like, "This tastes like candy." & the kids looked at me like I was crazy. "Of course this is candy!" They devoured way more than they should and I was surprised when they went to sleep well enough. All that sugar. I guess fruit sugar is different from processed sugar.

It just doesn't seem right to have all that sugar. Wink But I was very impressed with the grapes from the farm, and little frame of reference for some of the other produce. But I give the melons an A+. In this case was Galia Melon.

The preschool is loving me - I think I will take a load of melon slices on Monday. The thing was huge.

Weekend Update

August 23rd, 2008 at 06:48 am



Hey, I treated myself to something yesterday. I felt a little guilty since it is such a bad month but I honestly can't remember the last time I bought myself something. At least a few months.

So for $20 (50% off retail, which I would never pay by the way) I got the cutest monkey robe.

This is not it, but close.

It's so funny because my favorite color is black. I remember my mom thought I was going through some goth phase as a teen and figured I would grow out of it. She is disappointed I never did. I have always hated pastels and the color pink.

BUT, now that I live with 3 boys, I think the testosterone is too much. I think it is getting to me. For whatever reason I *almost* bought a pink sleeping bag this summer. I was like, "Where did that come from?" I actually really liked it.

So yesterday I saw the monkey robe and couldn't resist. I think almost liked it in pink.

Anyway, I spent $100 with that but got a few things I REALLY needed for work. Pants and bras which are impossible to find. I still need to hit the thrift shop for a couple of other things. I didn't expect to find my brand of pants there, but they were, and I don't think I will need them hemmed. Phew. Usually pants are too small or to long, and I feel so average. What is there for us average folk?

So yeah, it wasn't the best time to drop $100 but I don't think I have really bought any work clothes this year. It was time. My pants are really comfortable (2 pair that I mostly wear) but they are fading. *sigh* I figured I could drop $40 on some new pants.

Oh yeah, that was my free $10 Kohls run. Wink Couldn't find the free underwear I planned. But I have been looking everywhere for those pants. I didn't remember seeing them at Kohls before. So I was rather relieved to see them.

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Anyway, I am considering doing another 0%balance transfer.

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/archives/2008/08/5-apy-12-month-c...

If I could get 5%, would be worth it.

When I originally took on 3 balance transfers last year, I expected to do it just temporarily until all of them expired. We were trying to bulk up our emergency fund and had much making up to do.

Anyway, I expected to be in much better straits now, but with how everything has been going this month, I figure we could use an extra $500 or so over the next year. So I am thinking about it again.

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Reminds me, dh got another deal of a game system and like 14 games, for $50. So things are looking up. He expects to make $150-$300 on everything. His last ebay batch sold about double what he expected, and his current one already has some higher bids than he expected (with 3 days left?)

I tell you, it's a fickle business. He had a few that didn't sell so well, and lately we are on fire. I don't know if we are attracting more buyers as we are becoming more serious sellers. Considering I have my 15 feedbacks as a seller, I wouldn't think it mattered. But the first couple of batches didn't necessarily sell as much as he expected, and for whatever reason now they are selling way better than expected.

Plus last time we sold 6 items to 3 people. People tend to buy games in bulk so it REALLY makes it easy on the shipping side.

He has been doing priority shipping which few sellers do. Maybe that's our edge. I just don't know!

Maybe next round will suck. But for now we are on a good streak. I feel like our luck is turning around.

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

Reminds me, the focus group company called me for a 1 hour gig for $80. That is the best rate they have ever offered us. It's usually like $40/hour.

I didn't qualify but I am on the backup list. Crossing my fingers someone flakes out. Wink

A YUMMY recipe

August 22nd, 2008 at 01:23 pm

Before I get too blabby, I forgot to share a recipe we tried last night. YUM! Dh improvised on the orzo because we didn't have dill, and it ended up kind of blah. But the chicken was SO good. He improvised on that one a bit as well. We generally cook with frozen chicken strips, and that seemed to work well enough. It was just a great flavor.

http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/lemon-roasted-chicken-wi...

Dh actually found this recipe when finding something to do with our arugula, and avoiding a trip to the store.

Anyway, the salad sucked. Blech. But the chicken was good. IT was a quick/easy meal as well.

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Well, we survived the first week of school.

It just hit me that we will have to be better prepared next week. Since next week we switch to full days and have to pack lunch.

I was thinking it may be reasonable to have him buy lunch on Fridays. It's only $2, they have almost every other Friday off, and gives us parents a break. Not the most frugal thing ever, but probably a nice treat. IT will only be $4/month in most months.

I am actually not a terribly organized person overall. I am in many regards. But in many regards I am not.

So I am feeling like I have to get more organized. I think we may move to preparing lunches the night before. & we need a laundry system since BM has white clothes to wash (I try to avoid white) and the more laundry we do the less clothes we have to buy, etc. So we need to work on a laundry and lunch system. I can just see waking up Monday with no clothes to wear and forgetting lunch in our haste. I guess it is an adjustment for all of us.

I guess when I want to be organized,
I can be. But I haven't put much thought into all this. I think I better think about it all...

BTW, I am going to spend my weekend filling out paperwork. Fun fun!

Not much to report

August 22nd, 2008 at 07:17 am

There just isn't much to report here.

Dh was going to set up a dual boot on his computer so he can use Adobe Premiere with XP on his new system (which is Vista and uncompatible with Premiere).

So yet to hear how it went...

He's stressing me out with he needs to replace this $600 software (this is the student/super discounted price).

So he compromised there and he actually has been making mad sales on ebay.

I have $200 in my checking towards his computer, he will sell another $100 (up now) and expects $300 or so with what he has to sell on hand (a Wii and some other things).

Anyway, $400 will suffice to lower my stress level, and he is almost there. We have about $100 in rebates to submit as well. Means I really only have to come up with $300 (& can almost squeeze that out of the budget). Phew.

I do hope he works out his video editing software issues. I understand why he wants to use his new system to edit. IT's much faster!!!!

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I paid $3.60 gas the other day. Was with my 25 cent grocery coupon anyway.

I think we are almost boycotting Safeway. No more gas coupons, no more bulk items. In the end we are doing most of our shopping at Raley's/Bel Air. You ask how we keep our grocery costs down? Just shop the fanciest story. (Really the best sales and deals. We primarily shopped there anyway, before, but Safeway is getting rather useless in comparison, as they drop all their bulk items, raise their prices, and decrease their packaging. Some is them, some is just the brands they carry. I can only guess Raley's has a enough high end sales to support not raising prices on the low end. Safeway doesn't have that luxury. Too bad because it is easier to lose customers than to win them back).

Raleys still offers 25 cent off per gallon, gas coupons. You see why we are shopping there. !!!!

Safeway has 3 cents - big whoop. Plus their food cost more anyway.

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Anyway, work has been busy so I have been throwing myself into my work.

Our satellite sucks, so I haven't been watching so much TV. Dh was griping about switching to cable but I told him personally I just enjoyed watching less TV. (Though I have been tending to miss more of my favorite show. The DVR is just CLUNKY. We REALLY miss TIVO. Dh said it best when he said it was sad that we prefer our 10-year-old TIVO with like 30 hours to this thing which is s'posed to be the "best" and holds something like 1000 hours. That's great except it is organized so terribly, you can't watch any live TV, and you can't find your shows. It has many many issues and so we are kind of peeved. I am personally though happy just to watch less TV. Dh doesn't really agree though. Wink )

Anyway, I was peeved dh hasn't even unplugged the TIVO. But we may drop satellite and go back to cable, though it is more expensive. *sigh* We miss our super old, single tuner TIVO. Waaaaaahhhhhhh. (Which is just one more thing to worry about financially if we go that route - we need to upgrade it one of these days - preferably a new HD TIVO).

I do admit I like watching whatever I want upstairs on the second tuner, with satellite. BUT I guess that is more my perk than dh's. & we can get a dual tuner TIVO.

Anyway, with school and work and everything I have been a little busy. But it's a good busy.

Dh is in a mood. Just no one messes with his computer to TV. LOL. So I know this is all stupid stuff that will work out, but he is driving me a little nuts. These are his "babies." & nothing is working any more. Aaargh!

It's a Mom Thing...

August 21st, 2008 at 07:37 am

BM started school yesterday. Big Grin

I was quite convinced I wouldn't cry. I don't even think I cried when he started preschool (which was WAY more traumatic). So I figured I would be fine. Everyone told me I would cry. "I doubt it," I thought. I tend to be an emotional person, but I just wasn't feeling it.

So we walked to school yesterday and just as we approached the school, I CRIED. LOL.

I think I cried all the way home. Dh was like, "What's the big deal?"

I told him it was rather subconscious, I think he's just growing up. Of course I am excited for him too. I realized then it's a MOM thing.

It just reminded me though that my dad cried when he walked me down the aisle at my wedding. I had never seen him cry in my life, and he didn't expect to cry. But he just lost it.

So on the way home I thought to that just as a similar thing. & then I started crying that I didn't want him to get married and dh thought I lost my mind. It's just like, today he starts Kindergarten, tomorrow he moves out and gets married, you know? Waaaaaaaa.

It wasn't the best analogy for the moment - made me more sad. LOL.

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Anyway, I think we walked to the school 10 times this week so I am getting some exercise. This will be good for us. I think I will park as close as I can and walk him in the morning. Their parking lot is small and a nightmare. I may change my mind when it gets colder.

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They collected something like $20 for supplies and they just keep them in a plastic case at school that they can bring home every day if they like. The Kindergarten is all day and rather intense so they don't have homework. Phew. But I just like the way they did things. I assume they were able to buy everything in bulk and if we paid more than we would have otherwise, I consider it a school donation.

I am glad not to run around looking for supplies.

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I am having a bit of a rough time at work, as mentioned, and I am afraid it has made ma negative nelly.

I just didn't have anything nice to say last night. I had to gripe about a couple of people and then I had to gripe about something else. & I am just like, what is with me? LOL. Just unlike me. I realize negativity spreads. Ugh.

So I am working on my attitude today. Wink It's just funny because I know very clearly my griping is not productive, but I don't know, I am just in a mood.

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Reminds me, it is happening. I couldn't help but look at housing prices and wonder if the oodles of people I know who fled the state, would return. If nothing else I am not too down on long-term housing prices knowing SO MANY people who would move back if prices were reasonable. Scfr is another example. Suddenly California is attractive because it is a little more affordable. That's the good for the area.

Anyway, one of the people I hit it off with the most since moving here, is moving back!!!!!!!!!!! Yay! (She moved to ORegon shortly after we met. The story of my life. Everyone I hit it off with flees. No one understands that Sacramento is MY Oregon. They look at us weird like why don't we move too. Already been there, done that. Moving to cheaper lands...)

I am honestly surprised more of them aren't. Sure they can afford a monster sized house, but lots of complaint about the weather and distance from family. I think more will follow suit.

I had kind of wondered about this and I am starting to see it.

I don't know anyone moving back here who owned real estate and sold at the peak here. I wouldn't be surprised if those people consider it. I know quite a few people who sold at the peak and left the area. That is precisely why the market crashed. Everyone fled.

Maybe history will repeat itself. I wouldn't rule it out honestly. It's just a crazy cycle.



Wormies for dinner

August 19th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Yesterday was kind of nice.

We kind of worked through some stuff at work.

Until next time anyway...

I feel like I am making progress (knock on wood).

When I got home last night I decided to make squirmy wormies for dinner.

Actually, we subscribe to Taste of Home cooking mags (2). The Simple & Delicious or whatever (they keep changing the name) has a lot of GREAT stuff for Halloween, as usual.

Anyway, one was squirmy wormy sandwhiches.

We have an old family "recipe" of "BEanies and Weenies" which is basically cut up hot dogs, pork & beans, and some ketchup and brown sugar.

Anyway, so this was rather similar but a little more fancy.

Cut hot dogs in to 4 pieces lengthwise.

Saute in oil.

This part was the best part. They got kind of crisp and curled up like worms (eeewwww). So they tasted really good and looked kind of gross.

The sauce was ketchup, brown sugar, worchestire sauce, and spicy brown mustard. Since all I had was plain mustard, I used that and tossed in some pepper seasoning, like I always do. We like our food spicy. Big Grin

It tasted a lot like BBQ. The kids just had a ball eating their worms.

(Luckily they didn't look enough like worms to gross me out. We tried some recipe a while back with ramen noodles and the kids pointed out how wormy they looked - in the recipe. Ugh, I could never eat that recipe again. LOL).

Anyway, we only used a 1/2 package of hot dogs and I Was going to halve the recipe, but I decided to make all the sauce and cook it up with beans on the side.

Served with some sour dough bread. Wouldn't have been my first thought, but the kids asked, and it was actually pretty good. We like to dip bread in the sauce.

Anyway, I don't get terribly creative in the kitchen usually. I am a recipe follower, through and through. But, had fun winging it a bit. I think this will be our new Beanie and Weenie recipe. It was yum. We could probably even cut the worms in half after they are cooked, to make it more casserole-y and easier to eat with a fork. But last night I just let the kids eat with their fingers - they had a blast.

This was quite an upgrade from the usual beanie/weenie recipe.

Credit Card Doings...

August 19th, 2008 at 07:11 am

My old credit card company (I keep the card for backup) called to ask me about suspicious activity. A $150 foreign purchase in early July.

I said it was most definitely fraudulent, and they sent me new cards. They told me it was all taken care of.

So I get a bill in the mail last week. UGH! I just hate dealing with this stuff.

So I luckily kept the fraud department direct line and called them back.

"We couldn't discharge the debt because it hadn't been cleared yet."

Something along those lines.

Whatevah!

Then maybe you should have told me as much instead of telling me I didn't need to do anything further and that it was all taken care of.

So I get this form in the mail yesterday. I have to return it today to clear it up.

Seriously?

I am this close to shutting down the card. I am sure I could fight my way through it, even if I didn't receive it until tomorrow or something, but they just piss me off. It has to be so freaking complicated.

I will fax it when I get to work and mail a copy to be sure. Take that!

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I checked my credit score and a good month after paying off another card, my score is only up 8 points. Borrowing oodles of money and having a terrible ratio for like a year has apparently done little to my score. I show score of 770 with one Bureau and 795 with another one.

As such, with the way things have been going, would I do another 0% balance transfer?

YOU BET!

It was easy easy easy money. I was a little wary at the time, but a good 18 months or so later, I would say it has really paid off.

So why haven't I run out and applied???

Because I was earning mostly 4% - 6% interest on all my balance transfers. I can't say where I will find that.

It could be tempting to take out a Countrywide CD or something like that, but I don't want to mess with FDIC and all that on something I don't have cash in the bank to cover otherwise.

I think I will sit on the sidelines and close all of these cards now that we are done.

I will keep the WAMU one because they keep sending me new cards and I still get free FICO scores (it is well over a year). I just assume my "year" resets with each new card. I haven't activated any of them, but I can get my FICO score monthly. IT's kind of nice.

But will close the other ones and I may jump back in the game if I can find favorable interest rates.

If interest rates improve I may apply for a new card in the interim. Citi had a lot of good deals, I don't know if they still exist. But I paid no fees and 0% interest for the transfers. I think I paid a $75 fee for WAMU. Was still worth it.

Settling Down

August 18th, 2008 at 03:20 pm

Today settled down a bit. I can breathe.

Tomorrow will be crazy with school starting and all. Tomorrow is Orientation. I mostly come and go from work when I please, but I figured if I was going to have a permanent 8:45-5:00 schedule, or something of the sorts, I should send an FYI to my boss.

It struck me as odd that we don't get all that info until the day before school starts. I mean I know what time school starts. But I read at one time the kids could not be more than 10 minutes early.

Looks like they loosened it up last year - 15 minutes early. Though I think there was a misprint/typo that you could drop off the kids at 7:45. I think they meant if you had the school daycare. School starts at 8:30.

So for now I am not quite sure when I can drop the kids off. I find out tomorrow.

Mostly it looks like I can drop him off at 8:15 for pre-school recess. I am thinking I Will adjust my work schedule to 8:30 - 5:00 then. It works. 5:30 is fine in the summer, but in the winter months when it gets dark I don't like to be the last one out. We'll work it out. I rarely take much of a lunch break anyway - rather get home early.

It sounds more fair to start with recess if you want the kids not to be late, but not too early. I don't think they had morning recess in the past.

I personally look forward to the kids being so close to home. Preschool is a bit of a trek. Though I maybe have 2 more years of that trek, with LM. But this is a step in the right direction. Big Grin IT will take me almost as long to get to preschool as it will to get to the school. So it's no huge difference to me. Now school is 15 minutes away from my work instead of 10. But being one minute from the house, as opposed to 20 minutes, is divine.

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Dh made a killing on Ebay. I hope this gives him a kick in the butt, and it REALLY helps me.

He bought a Gamecube and 13 games (in good condition) for about $55. He just sold 6 games for $100. He has a bunch left to sell, and the game system is worth an easy $40-$50 alone.

Not that these deals are easy to find, but it pays to keep an eye out.

He'll probably easily sell everything for $250. Probably even more. BEst thing is I don't think he wants to KEEP anything from this batch. Big Grin

This will go a long way to fund his new computer. Phew!!!

Reminds me, he got his new computer up and running and the old hard drive is just fine. Extra PHEW for that too. Nothing terrible important on the hard drive (anal about backing up and keeping important/personal data off the computers. Pictures are backed up and sent to our parents often. Those aren't even kept on any computers - just an external drive with our Quicken/financial data). But, dh's e-mail address book and most of our recent e-mails were on that drive, and dh was able to retrieve all that.

We could have lived without, but it is nice we didn't lose any data.

A VERY nice weekend...

August 18th, 2008 at 06:49 am

Saturday was a tough day for me, but yesterday made up for it. Was VERY nice.

**Dh made the meal he learned in his cooking class. It wasn't necessarily Indian restaurant stuff, but it was delish. Different, but good.

We had Minted Basmati Rice Pulao with baby potatoes, spicy caulifower with braised tomato, gingered chickpea salad, and date & raisin chutney.

He was also going to make pistachio fudge, but changed his mind at the last minute. Just difficult/time consuming.

I figured the kids wouldn't eat anything. The rice came out way too spicy.

The chicpea salad had a strange test but the kids didn't care. They LOVED it. They just love chickpeas, and the strange taste didn't deter them. I like it, just thought it would be much for them.

Veggies - I will eat any veggie cooked Indian style. Didn't have a lot of spice - but was just GOOD. Unlike plain veggies. Wink

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Oh, and we have been trying some Greek meals and buying pitas at the store. & well, they just SUCK. So anyway, we have something VERY exciting. A NEW Indian grocery store in our neighborhood. Dh went to check it out and was skeptical if they would have naan, but he tried. They did, in the freezer section. & it was actually REALLY good. Screw the pitas, we're switching to naan.

Anyway, dh is trying to learn homestyle Indian cooking, but I will probably go by the store and pick up some sauces. I am in heaven. Just give me the sauce - can smother it on everything. Wink

I hope they can stay in business. The businesses around here seem to open and then close down before you can blink. *sigh*

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This week we are getting grapes, tomatoes, melon, arugula, pears, cherry tomatoes, peaches and peppers, from the farm. I am very pleased.

Seems a lot less veggies. But I found a couple of very interesting recipes for arugula.

The preschool LOVES cherry tomatoes so I will pass those off to them.

Dh may make some salsa with the tomatoes. I am sure he will find something. & the peppers, we'll find something. We love peppers.

I think my body is in shock. My diet has been significantly more varied lately. Getting better on the fruits and veggies.

We have SO MUCH food too. I wondered if dh was going overboard on trying recipes for all these veggies from last time, and trying this Indian feast, etc., etc. But we have only spent $300 on groceries this month and we have food through next week (PLENTY!!!!!!!). So I feel like we have been eating like kings, eating better, and our grocery bill is somehow lower. It's just weird. I can't explain it.

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Yesterday I playes MArio KArt and Mario PArty for the first time. That's actually what we spent the morning doing. They got me hooked now. I had avoided it, but it was really fun. Best of all, all the stuff (controllers, games, mic, etc.) were essentially free. Thanks to dh.

LM was better than I - he's had some practice I can see. LOL.

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We took the kids swimming before lunch. LM is actually getting a little brave in the water.

& the kids wanted to go to the track in the evening. So they just had a blast. BM decided the track is more fun than the pool. They are just weird like that.

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Oh yeah, and we even practiced bike riding with BM. Dh took off his training wheels and we were running back and forth in front of the house.

OMG, dh tired out quickly so I offered to help.

I almost died. What a workout. I told dh if I made a pass or 2 with BM every night I would lose some weight, for sure. What an insane workout. It was more holding him up and running then anything. Once he gets more balance of his own, should be better. I got a little too winded though. Dh too.

Anyway, he did well.

This is LM. He was trying his tricycle and he kept stomping his feet and having a fit when it was difficult. & lots of screaming and crying. That is so totally LM. HE is only 3 but he has always been rather stubborn and impatient.

This is BM. HE was giggling like a loon the entire time. He didn't care how hard it was, he was just having the time of his life.

But yeah, BM did rather well. I have no idea how long it will take for him to get it down. But seeing his friends ride their bikes, we figured it was time.

We actually went on a hike last weekend that was a popular bike path in the area. So I told BM I would take him there when he gets solid on his bike. I don't have a bike, but I will find one. I used to do much bike riding with my dad. He may even have a spare bike I can borrow/have. Or we may peruse Craigslist and get some bikes. Dh is not into biking, so I figure it is something we can do. & the weather is getting nicer anyway (less hot)...

I've always been kind of dissapointed with the flat lands of Sacramento. BAck home we would bike into the hills, was just SO fun. But we could bike from our front door to a variety of interesting landscapes. Here, it is just flat. But the more hikes we seek out the more bike spots we find. It is a bit of a pain to have to drive to them all, but I feel better this is a hobby I can revisit with the kids when they are older. I like hill riding. You bust your butt to get to the top, and then you coast all the way down. What a high. You get all that working out endorphins with the joy of "flying" down the hill. So it is something I miss.

Which reminds me I can always take BM on some of those bike rides back in San Jose too. So exciting! In a couple of years...

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Anyway, with the way August has been going, we are VERY broke. I have no complaints though. I think we have found plenty "free" activities to keep us busy. Wink

More Busy

August 17th, 2008 at 08:32 am

**Worked much of yesterday. Making up some time for last week and next week (first day of Kinder and everything!!!)

Ms. Difficult is KILLING me. I went in to catch up and I ended up perusing want ads. Plenty of jobs out there (I always say I could find a job in a day - just such a CPA shortage). BUT I really like this one. I LOVE everything but Ms. Difficult. *sigh* Much to mull over and work out. She has always been difficult, but this year is just on a new level. Ugh.

Definitely need a chat with my boss Monday. His reaction will determine how I feel. I am sure it will be fine. He has always taken my side/worked with me. But I am tired of running to him all the same and defending myself. IT gets old...

Taking today off. Exhausted. Don't plan to do much.

**DH & BM went to a free movie night in the park last night. Sounded like they had fun. Free movie, free popcorn, etc.

**I went to aerobics before work yesterday. I need to hit the gym and work out my frustration a bit I guess. IT helps.

**Dh gave me $300 to deposit. He also has one Wii left. I will probably get $100 off ebay this month (maybe more). So he came up with half the computer cost.

I told him to keep $100 - we need more money. (Go buy and sell!). He just wanted to give me the cash. I said, I have cash. I would rather you keep $100 and earn more. So we still have cash at the end of the year...

Anyway, he told me he was planning to take a break because buying and selling is risky and stressful with all the pressure.

I told him I clearly would prefer he kept buying and selling then have all the cash up front. So he said he will work on it.

Shoot me now.

I figured he'd at least be making more money. I am thinking I just can't rely on him financially at all. It's just maddening sometimes. I understand where he is coming from. He is a FULL-TIME dad, and I appreciate that, and all he does to keep our bills low. BUT to go make a bunch of money last month and say he can't do it now, under the pressure? Ugh. Just shoot me now.

He really did assume though I needed all the cash. I assured him I didn't need it, and to just try to tun around a few smaller things. Every bit helps. He is keeping $100. & if he sells the other Wii he can turn around another one... Or give me that cash as well.

August just gets better, doesn't it? This is just the month from hell for me. Everything just sucks.

Feels good to let it out. Big Grin

**My baby starts Kindergarten in 3 days. Oh my Goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think it will hit dh much harder than me. But I can't believe how fast he is growing up.

**Someone I met on aol in the early 90s looked me up on Facebook. Oh my. LOL. I didn't even remember my screenname. It's kind of creepy. It just struck me about what you do on the internet can haunt you for years to come. Scary. Seemed like a nice enough guy. Sounded Vaguely familiar (the name). What a weird blast from the past.

I wonder if in 15 years, people from pfadvice will be looking me up and saying, "Remember me?" & I'll say, "I don't remember anything." LOL. Kind of how I feel about the whole thing. I was really into the whole aol penpal thing but none left much of a lasting impression. Apparently I left a lasting impression with someone.

That's the long and the short of it. May take a bit of an internet break with all the craziness of next week. You never know, but if I am not too posty just know I am very busy at work and jumping head first into this whole public school thing. Just a lot going on.

Busy Busy Busy

August 15th, 2008 at 01:33 pm

It's been way too busy to catch up around here.

So I hope everyone is doing well. Big Grin

I have been researching dental insurance options and they all suck.

It might not be the worst time to keep an eye out for orthodontia options. But I did pull out some of the plans we have available to us, thinking my mind may change with recent events.

Nah, they all suck. They are expensive, they don't cover anything, and they don't cover any of the trusted dentists that are so hard to find. Etc., etc., etc.

It's just maddening.

It's one of those things I mostly chalk up to being useless if you have cash. When I run the numbers, none of it makes any sense. I thought it would make more sense considering my child had a mouthful of cavities. But it makes even less sense. So I could pay $1k/year for them to only cover $1k, and only reimburse 20% of the costs anyway (which would never add up to $1k). !!!

But I did mention how last time my dentist apologetically handed me a quote for $200/each for X-rays, next time. If we think we can swing it...

Yeah, I think we will survive.

I know, I know 99% of the people out there are completely broke or something.

For us, self insurance is still the obvious choice. Though I am wondering where those great dental plans are? Where do you have to work to get those? How great are they really? Inquiring minds want to know. If my spouse needs to work at a specific company for the orthodontia years, let me know. Seriously!

Of course all my friends here pity me. They get paid 50% (of what I do) by the state and yes they do have STELLAR benefits. But they just don't get I rather have the CASH. IT covers the private benefits (& lack of benefits) and then some. Of course now is not a time to brag about working for the state of California. What a mess... So I think I will survive.

But yeah, I wonder how many people run the numbers. I am just way too "big picture" to get caught up in the small picture of things.

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

As far as potential $1k-$3k dental bills, we will tap the medical fund as much as we can, and pray we don't hit our medical deductible this year. We've spent about $1k (of $3k max), but have some routine appointments coming up and still no ambulance bill. Their slowness helps in this situation. But it would figure if it came now and drained our deductible. It's still so up in the air - no idea what it will be even.

We also have $3k set aside for more longer term expenses. Hoping not to tap too much of it. We'll see.

I wanted to save $5k per year in that fund (for work around the house and next car purchases, orthodontia in the future, etc.). BUT we have some catching up to do. Since we started with $0 in that fund this year, after getting our efund up to snuff last year.

Boy, we will just have MORE catching up to do.

OF course, times like this we always throw out the words, "second job." I think we are quite unusual that it seems like the norm is to kind of hit rock bottom (read, be in tons of debt) before considering how to dig out.

I just get nervous when all of our future plans don't add up.

I know we can buy a decent car for $1k if anything happened to dh's car and all that. But the house needs some work. We need to save up cash for an outside paint job (The builder did a crappy job and the HOA has much sway over enforcing repainting. Though I notice no one has taken the initiative to paint - I think everyone is too broke. Every house on the block needs it - sad to say). WE also need to replace our fence. Surprised none of our neighbors have approached us. Our line of action is to figure it out if they approach us, but to save the cash in the meantime. Crappy builder fence. House is 7 years old. I think our neighbors are waiting for the wind to blow it down. Likely this winter - it just gets so windy. Blew down some portions last winter, both adjoining neighbors. We've just been lucky to this point. Surprised it lasted this long honestly. But part of the point is to get a nice fence and not go cheap, anyway. So, saving pennies.

Anyway, throw in we have really no savings after all this (outside the efund which I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. These are not emergencies). & dh's car is getting pretty darn old.

Yeah, I am ready to wave the red flag.

Another job?

I don't know. As usual we have excuses. BM is starting school, and tax season (soon to follow) is always a terrible time. My dh has applied for a million minimum wage seasonal christmas jobs in the past, to no avail. Something like that would help immensely. But they apparently don't want educated workers in those kinds of jobs. It's always been frustrating to me, we picked those jobs up by the handful in college, but these days they won't give us the time of day. I don't expect this year to be any better, with the economy.

I saw UPS jobs for $400/month take-home with benefits (15 hours/week) BUT dh can make as much on Craigslist/ebay anyway. I think we will continue that route, enjoy having a child out of preschool, and see if we can work our way ahead.

In the meantime we'll have a lean rest of the year and I will consider diverting any/all raises to cash, instead of retirement, until we get on better footing.

Other times I wonder if I just panic too much anyway. But I much rather panic now then when I Was broke, all the same.

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

Oh well, as far as living lean, here it goes.

I took BM swimming after work yesterday and he is doing REALLY well. I was quite surprised. Was a very nice "free" evening.

Glad he hasn't forgotten all we learn. The pool closes after Memorial Day weekend so only 2-3 more weekends to enjoy. (Kind of silly how little it is open - but we have grandma's pool to practice in a bit for September).

My nieces birthday is TODAY!! But no invite, so I think we may have a San Jose-free month. Some gas savings, phew.

The CSA we joined has a farm tour in a couple of weekends, but I think we will skip this round. There's always next time. Would be a lot of gas.

Dh got 2 free movie tickets in some trade, so we may have a date in September. Skipping this month. Will be cheap, for sure, when we go.

BM was invited camping with Grandpa. Last weekend August. I bowed out because I camped near here once in 100+ degree weather and no, you couldn't pay me to do that again. MISERABLE. As soon as my dad said, "Not too far from Sacramento" and "August" - I said, "No Thanks!!" He tried to tell me there was a lake. I Said - "Didn't help last time." LOL.

But dh may end up going with them after all. We'll see. Not sure there will be any expenses there. We paid for my dad's Yosemite trip, so he may cover any expenses. Not sure if there are any/much.

But this weekend, no plans. Will hit FairyTale Town perhaps (free with membership) and maybe the local parks and maybe the pool. But that is how our next couple of weekends look.

We also have quite a pile for Craigslist. IF only my other stuff would sell. One thing at a time...

All I sold was my lava lamp. Yeesh. Relisting with lower prices today. I do admit, I started high. But I got so much interest in one stroller I hung tight to $20. Didn't pay off. Will take $15 next time I am offered.

Lots of flakes this round too. I mean I think 5 people e-mailed me they would take it for $20. Just frustrating.

I am throwing quite a pile into the Goodwill/Freecycle pile. I thought I'd try to sell first. It's just so hit and miss sometimes. Now is not the time to sell weird stuff.

Trying to sell:

*Baby room decor (will sell with lower prices I am sure)
*Strollers

I don't even remember what else.

Next batch is a booster seat for the dinner table and LOTS of baby proof stuff. IT came up because I spotted baby spoons yesterday. I mentioned we didn't need those (freecycle probably) and dh said we didn't need any of our baby proofing. True. We have some we never installed.

I think we are making progress. The clutter seems to be decreasing a tad.

When the weather cools down I really want to hit the garage. We have some furniture in there, for one. We don't have a ton of stuff in there (We park both cars in it), and no overhead storage or anything, but I've got the de-clutter bug. I just want to clean it out!!!

I'll Elaborate Later...

August 14th, 2008 at 01:15 pm

I don't think of August as a crazed month. At all. But August 2008 is just CRAZY.

So, here's a rundown of yesterday.

*****Dental quote of $2500 to fill 11 cavities for BM.

Yes, ELEVEN.

Worst part of it? 2 molars in each quadrant (where is teeth are so close together - both teeth touching have cavities). Plus some on his top front teeth. MEans FIVE visits.

& as somewhat naturalists I am not terribly pleased he needs to get injected with novacaine or whatever, FIVE times. Egads.

He just turned FIVE a couple of weeks back.

Cause - dh's genes. I blame him. Grrrrrrrr.

Of course, as such, would not be a fan of knocking him out. But part of you wonders if that would be better. I know, probably not. But just, poor kid.

Hopefully flossing will prevent future cavities. The kid could not eat any better.

The plus on all this? There are some pluses. Charged for consult but free x-rays. (Phew). Were very nice. The plus is Dr. said we caught early. There is a fine line between cavity and root canal in children - their enamel is just so thin. He was scaring the hell out of me. I am grateful for my dentist catching them. They didn't tell me anything my trusted dentist didn't already, really. My dentist said his mouth was full of cavities and the course of action was fillings. They agreed.

Other plus is they guess only 7 cavities. But quoted me 11. His teeth are so close together (which is the cause of the cavities) that they can't really tell if they will need to fill them all, until they start drilling the worse ones and looking at the neighboring teeth at that point.

Ugh.

So final cost will be in the range of $1k - $3k (they may find more, though at least that is doubtful). & even if they only fill 7 now, there are a few of his more long-term molars to keep an eye on.

His 2 front bottom teeth. Clearly on the way out, from his x-rays. They are like the only ones with NO cavities. Figures...

***Chuck E Cheese!!! The Chuck E Cheese by our house is horrid and run down and we avoid it like the plague.

BUT the kids really wanted to go. For BM's birthday - that was his choice.

We finally got around to it last night. Feeling bad for his dental plight and all.

Coupon for a large 2-topping pizza, 4 sodas, and 50 tokens, for $24.99.

!!

The place was empty on a week night (no doubt with the economy as well). & it was clean. Nothing was broken. They even had new stuff.

No way!!

So we actually had a pleasant time and could see going back.

We also had a coupon for 100 tokens for $15. I Could see going back for that. Skip the food. Though we were surprised though the pizza wasn't really that bad, we just expected it to be worse. But yeah, we can skip the food next time. Still a great place to go.

I know, last thing BM needed was that soda...

Of course, I see why they do it that way. Try to get you to buy more food and more tokens and all that. We didn't spend a penny over $25.

The kids won some cheap prizes, and we went on our merry way.

With the coupons I could see going back monthly. Entertainment these days hardly gets cheaper/better than that.

I am so relieved they fixed the place up a bit.

***CEC was over by Mervyn's so I stopped by because I REALLY need new pants. I mean, they are fading and they have these professional pants that fit so well.

I went over and couldn't find the pants, but found a gorgeous dress for $25. I was on the fence, but when a dress fits (rare) I buy it.

I can't decide if it is appropriate for work. Will work for casual/night out kind of thing. I likey.

I made a mental note of some stuff I need but just couldn't find anything. I need to hit a thrift shop. I really haven't bought much in the way of clothes this year.

You could argue if I could justify this purchase. We have much to save for this month. But, well, it was a nice treat. Big Grin

I was thinking maybe I could look online for the pants. *sigh*

Tops are easy to find, which I guess is good, to easily spice up a wardrobe. But pants and dresses are my arch-nemesis or something. Bah. I've just been avoiding it... Just one more thing I NEED.

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

Anyway, as far as the dentist... We have the cash and we will survive. It just really took the wind out of my sails yesterday. Not something I would have predicted in a million years. That my child has 11 cavities. Ugh!

Tidbits

August 13th, 2008 at 07:47 am

*Received a $10 off at Kohls in the mail - no strings attached. LOVE these. Though they usually have the intended effect - buy more than I would anyway.

I am thinking of buying underwear. Something I needed. Now it will be free. Big Grin

I can't say I will be able to resist the clothes... Could always use clothes... Wink But I will try.

If I am lucky my mom will send me her $10 too. (She did last time).

*I was VERY stressed looking at the credit card once I subtracted out the new computer purchase and airfare to Denver. As I voiced my stress out loud to dh and thought about it it seemed there was a good $300 void there. He asked me if I had considered the fridge repair. Doh.

Nope, forgot. That makes much more sense. Leaves about $600 for gas and groceries and ideally nothing else, for the rest of the month. Almost half way through the month and enough food to feed the army, and no long driving plans. !!!! We'll see. The less we spend of the $600 left, the less we will have to pull out of savings for all this other stuff.

I wouldn't get too excited. BM has a dental consult today. For all his cavities. Ugh. My savings is vanishing before my eyes with all this stuff. Nope, didn't budget for numerous cavities for a 4-year-old. Likewise, my dentist was nice enough to take him (he is CHEAP) but now we have to have a consult with the ped. At least I already have one we had a good experience with (with LM). Reminds me I need to take my checkbook so we can get 10% cash discount. !! That's something. So consult today and fillings to come... Kind of double charged in a sense since we already did a consult. But that's how it works out. I think we will switch the kids to the ped dentist. The ped dentist is local - that is good. My dentist just wants nothing to do with kids. But we tried... I realize now if he is just going to send them to the ped when anything is wrong, we just have to make that leap.

*Dh's computer stands at $700 today. We'll see. He is building it himself and so though I am not sure this is cheapest in the end (original quote was more like $300 from him) I think he is getting 10 times the computer he expected so figured might as well get what he wants and what will last and be useful for a long while. & hopefully won't die in 4 years.

BM is really enjoying watching the whole thing - he loves figuring out how things work, so this is just fascinating to him.

I'll ask dh what he thinks the whole system would retail for, for comparison. I can't say he is saving much, but that he sees much advantage to a self built machine.

In the past he pushed this method for cost savings, but can't say I am convinced this round. Wink

ETA: Dh assured me his system would be $1k brand new, and of lesser quality. We are up to about $775, or $700 after rebates. So I guess there is cost savings there. We'll see when all is said and done. The last $75 was unexpected - needed a new power supply after all. (I imagine there could be more unexpected purchases as he works on it).

I am still frustrated this is not the top dog computer. That one will need to be upgraded one of these days as well - more for his work. But things are not where he wants them to be right now - he wants blu-ray for one - on his computer. So holding out.

We usually only upgrade that computer and hand down the rest. IF we replace it every 5-10 years, it's just not a big expense for everyone in the house to have a computer. Our *system* is just way *off* since the NEWEST computer bit the dust. *sigh* Now "top dog" is like 6 years old and "second-tier" will be brand new. & one hand-me-down computer bit the dust. We have just never had a computer completely die before. I am still quite annoyed about the whole thing! Though obviously we will survive. The kids still have a computer, "ancient computer" and dh will probably hand down "top dog" in a couple of years.

*Dh has a $100 focus group today. Yay! He'll probably cough up another $200-$300 for the computer and the rest can probably be covered from this month's budget. If we're lucky we won't have to touch savings for the computer. Phew. Lm will be at school and I will lunch with BM and take him to the dentist. Just works out. Tempted to drop him off at preschool, but just want that $100 to be PURE profit! I can take a couple of hours off work instead.

*Send my in-laws good vibes/prayers. Dh's grandma owns a vacation home in the Sierras, and after something like 50 years, Allstate suddenly dropped her. So as of October or something she has no insurance on the home. She is meeting with a new insurance agent today to see if they will take her on. (They are dropping fire coverage to all homeowners in the area).

I mentioned in a post earlier I was rather loyal to my insurance company (mostly because they always have been the cheapest. But I don't feel it's worth it to jump ship for a very few dollars). But this is a wonderful reminder of how not loyal the insurance companies are to you. BAH to Allstate. (Not my company or I would probably drop them in protest).

Anyway, they dropped by for dinner last night on their way to the house for a couple of days.

*As far as my retirement accounts go, they are holding steady. I keep saying I am lucky in that I am young enough I just don't have that much to lose. I seem to be adding money in as fast as it goes down, so the balance is rather steady. I've already been through worse so I know this is just the game. (2001 was right off the bat for me - out of college - and we lost some money we will never recover - tech stocks). So this round is faring much better. Just dollar cost averaging in, and I know when the economy improves, my balances will rise.

I was talking to my dad last night about the economy and such and he admitted the same. He said he was putting so much in that his balances were holding steady. (Even as he probably nears the million mark).

I had never thought that much about it. Though I am quite sure it will be harder to stomach the market gyrations at those levels, I hadn't thought as much that with time we will probably contribute more. So if nothing else, less likely to slide backwards.

My dad is probably putting $40k/year into savings. But then again, they have gotten a lot of inheritances and stuff lately, so probably much more. They seem to be doing well enough.

My dad admitted last night he would consider retiring if not for healthcare. He is 57.

I think I will send him the private insurance rates for our insurance. They really aren't horrid. Not for someone in their position. Plus, my dad is one of those types who will never stop working.

I do know he is holding out for some vesting in his start up, and maybe even they will get bought out and make it big. So I know he is holding out for some of that as well. But I was kind of surprised to hear his analysis. It's not cheap, but would get him through to medicare age. They have the money. I just wonder if he had even priced it.

We have always been privately insured so I never entirely understood COBRA (when it is more expensive than better/private insurance) and loyalty to employment for measly benefits. I think just so few people even shop around. The primary reason I have never taken employment benefits is they sucked and were more expensive. The same held true when I worked for a giant int'l corporation and now that I work for the small mom/pop.

So I was rather surprised when my dad told me the only thing holding him back from retirement was health benefits. I wonder if I could convince him otherwise. (Truth is he will probably consult enough on the side to cover insurance and then some, anyway).

*My boss is flying back today and I will stop being the top of the totem pole.

Thank Goodness!!!!! LOL.

I know today is not over, but aside from the alarm going off, the week has been rather calm. Knock on wood. I will be glad to shed this role though and actually have some time to get my real work done.

Tonight my boss will be back on alarm duty - so phew.



The Last Week of Freedom

August 12th, 2008 at 07:11 am

So, schools these days just keep you longer and you come out learning less, huh?

I read yesterday that the traditional track schools started yesterday.

HUH???

We have a lot of year-round school tracks in our district, so not many started. But I was amazed that my kid could have easily started school yesterday.

Anyway, I wondered if they got out way early or something, so I checked the calendar and summer is only 2 months. (Looks rather year-round to me).

Holy cow.

I think it is the one thing that annoys me about the shift to a 2-income-family society. Most parents love this. I HATE it. Who wants to go to school 10 months out of the year? Blech.

& all day school for the Kinders, etc.

Anyway, our school does not start until next week. Though they largely follow the same schedule (lots of vacations and days off so summer break is rather short).

So we are enjoying the last week of FREEDOM. Since having kids we really just haven't had much of a schedule.

All that changes next week. Ugh!

For one, I don't remember the last time I set an alarm clock. My job is largely flexible. The kids' school is largely flexible. I mean it's not a school; it's daycare. As long as we pay we can bring them whenever we want.

So this whole getting to school at 8:30 sharp thing (& being organized to pack a lunch, etc.) is going to be rather weird.

I pack my lunch for work, but I usually just grab something on my way out the door. I think I will have to be a little more organized too. So all that is ready and we make it out the door in time, every day.

I almost laugh to myself because I am a VERY on the ball person. Growing up I certainly was. I would never be one to worry about running late, etc. But we have really settled into a very relaxed way of life. So yeah, it will take some adjusting. We will have to be organized because no way I want to be a crazed mom running out the door every day. Wink

We've also been discussing who has BM drop off duty. During non-tax-season I will probably drop him off and go into the office a little later. But during tax season I would prefer to get to work earlier. We'll see. The boys will get lots of walking done. He'll mostly walk except when I drop him off on the way to work.

All that being said, I was home alone with BM Sunday and he was bouncing off the walls. He's been out of preschool a few weeks, and I think he has had enough. He is certainly one kid who is VERY ready. So that is the good. I am excited for him and don't expect much trauma and tears. LM has really enjoyed going to preschool without BM so I even expect him to take it rather well. (Though he is a bit jealous and wants to go to K too. We'll see how the first few days go. I hear the little ones take it hard, and he is an emotional one).

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

Anyway, in other news, I can finally praise the new cell phone law. July 1 a new law went into effect in Cali - no cell phones as a driver unless using a hands-free device.

We have griped much about it. The comedians have made fun of how much more dangerous it is to hook up a hands-free device while driving or how texting is still quite legal while driving.

I think the whole thing is rather ridiculous really. Because apparently you can drive with one hand unless you are talking on a cell phone. It's just rather narrow and kind of silly. All other distractions just 100% legal.

Though the headset thing I don't mind so much, it's just when you are driving and you get a call and so you set it on speaker on your lap, and it falls under your feet. You know, stuff like that. So I have been grumbling how my driving is maybe 10 times dangerous. (I will give you I try to avoid the phone in the car now - which I guess is the true point of the law).

Anyway, no more grumbling from me.

Yesterday I was driving and talking to my mom yesterday, when I came upon my exit. It is another freeway and sometimes gets really crowded. I just wasn't in the mood to fight my way over - too many cars, so I just went on to the next exit. It's rare I do this, but I do.

I wish more people would do this!

So I was driving along when I looked to my left and saw a bright purple car. My mom has a purple car. I REALLY noticed it because it was purple, otherwise can't say I would take any notice.

At that point, purple car decides they want to take the exit I am passing up and they start swerving into my car. They aren't even really past me AT ALL. I was just stunned. I pretty much swerved and slammed on the breaks all at once and I watched as they zoomed across the white lines onto their exit. I glance in my rearview mirror and no one is behind me at all. Thank God. (Can't say if anyone had swerved around us, I Was too focused on the idiot purple car).

So anyway, I am not a confrontational person at all but I was just FUMING. I laid on the horn and gave the car the evilest eye I could muster. Lady didn't even look like she had a clue I was honking at her. Just toodled along without a glance. If she looked at me I might have giver her the finger.

Anyway, after all that, I gave my mom the run down and she said, "Aren't you glad you had both hands on the wheel?"

I thought about it and said, "Yeah. You're right. If not I think I would have hit her. I mean, she would have hit me. We would have hit each other." Or I was thinking I probably would have swerved anyway but I was on the verge of losing control of the car. VERY scary.

So no more complaints from me.

I feel very lucky the idiot in the purple car did not slam into me yesterday. I had LM and she was plowing right into our side of the car. About the closest call I remember in a long time.

I tell you if the car wasn't purple though, I think there would have been accident. It just really caught my eye so I saw the second she started to come into my lane. I Was thinking, "What on earth is she doing?" & it wasn't until she went off onto the other freeway I realized she had to risk life and limb not to miss her exit. Whereas I had decided a mile back to not even bother with it.

Yeesh!!!!!!!

My mom even asked if I was in the subcompact. I'm like, um, no I am in the MINIVAN. She was totally blind or something.

So yeah, I know my dh is not pleased, but I told him I wasn't going to gripe anymore. He lost his griping partner on that issue. Wink

I do feel really lucky that my car is in one piece still. Phew. & us people too. I think since everything has been falling apart I was kind of thinking, "Thank goodness my car is still in one piece." But we were traveling around 65mph, so who knows what could have happened. I guess I should feel lucky that LM and I are both in one piece too.

Wind Up Car

August 11th, 2008 at 09:51 am

http://dvice.com/archives/2008/03/windup_key_for.php



Teehee. Saw one of these on the road today.

I had to do a double take.

Stumbled Upon a Very Nice Evening

August 10th, 2008 at 08:30 am

We were toying with the idea of trying our favorite Indian Restaurant (AGAIN - failed 3 times already) and taking advantage of only paying for one child for childcare.

Anyway, on the flip side, this month is crazy and I felt like we had about $0 to spare on something so decadent.

Anyway, was scared to go since the first 3 times ended in a broken down car, closed daycare, and closed restaurant. Dare we try again? Not sure our cars needed that jinx. Like enough hasn't fallen apart this month. Wink

Right or wrong, we decided to go but to just take BM with us. We could eat but skip the childcare. (Though earlier we had told him he could go play and that would have only been $8-$16. We probably made the backwards choice! Should have dropped him off to play, and stayed home).

Anyway, we took him and though he does fine in most restaurants, we did feel rather out of place in such a place of fine dining. We went a little on the early side as such, but I was acutely aware of his inability to sit still.

He did well enough. But probably not something I would do very soon again. Glad we only had one kid. The 2 to well enough in a loud, noisy place, but maybe not so much in a quiet, elegant place.

The restaurant had changed ownership and we were sorely disappointed, $50 later.

We usually can only justify the splurge once or twice a year - and we usually spend $50 for the 2 of us - so it wasn't horrid considering BM ate a fair amount (& leftovers as well).

Anyway, the plus from the whole thing is I doubt we will return. We have a decent Indian cafe now, much closer to home, and so, no, don't think we will return for the overpriced so-so food.

What a bummer though!

We may brave their lunch buffet on another occasion and see what we think. A new addition. (I assume a bit more on the affordable side). But beyond that, we just did not have a good experience. All of the sides were good, but the main dishes flopped.

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

Anyway, this restaurant is downtown and while there everyone was talking about "Second Saturday." Had heard about it but have never partook. Many art galleries are open for the evening, for free, and I guess the music scene is exploding along with that (had not heard much about the music). So on our way out the hostess asked if we were downtown for Second Saturday. "Um, no," we said as we walked out the door. But hearing the music in the distance we decided it was a look see to see if anyone else had a kids in tow. (Didn't think it was particularly a family event - more a grown up thing). So we ended up having a very pleasant walk. The grounds by the State Capitol are just beautiful - I always take advantage of a walk there, and we followed the sound to some of the live bands playing.

It was REALLY crowded and saw a lot of dressed up adults, and wasn't quite sure where we would go anyway, so we turned around and walked back to the car. But we had a pleasant walk and exposed BM to a little culture. It was also nice just looking at the Victorians and old architecture. As much as I have explained how partial I am to new construction, as far as our home, I can't say I enjoy the cookie cutter look of suburbia. For whatever reason, just really enjoyed the walk downtown. (Plus we found the secret, if willing to walk a few blocks - plenty of free parking).

& yes, the weather was divine. Just so perfect for an August night (usually would be much hotter). So we just had a very pleasant walk.

Dh and I made a mental note to return downtown on some other second saturday and check out the art galleries. Would be a very pleasant date night.

Read an article today as well how the music scene was exploding along with the art walk. So that is something WE would really enjoy. (More into music than art, but both are enjoyable). I just had no idea.

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

When we got home last night I realized we had not turned the air on all day.

An August day with no A/C?????

No Way!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was short lived. It was hot upstairs so I opened the windows to cool off the upstairs. Worked better in the front than the back.

I fell asleep with the fan on and window open, but dh closed the window. So when I woke up I was melting. It was like 2am and the fan was on. I wondered how much energy we were really saving since the fan had been on 4 hours (Assumed dh would have turned it off when I fell asleep). Plus, it was still a million degrees. So I flipped on the A/c for a good half hour and cooled off.

I think, since I am unwilling to leave the windows open all night (just too unsafe) that the A/C probably is the best bet. We usually flip it on for like half hour before bed and it keeps it cool enough for the night.

I was trying to be more energy conscious, but I think my plan backfired.

It was one of those days where it didn't start to swelter inside until it had completely cooled outside and we were able to prolong the A/C until bedtime. So if we can work on that, it's something.

The house itself usually stays cool enough that we generally don't flip on the A/C until dinner time. When you start cooking you suddenly notice how hot it is getting. So we flip it on downstairs for a couple of hours. Then before bed we flip it on upstairs for a good half hour to cool it off. As the air cools off outside it usually stays comfortable through the night. Except for really horrible nights where sometimes I flip in the air when I wake up melting at 2am. I think last night was that night simply because we had not turned on the air at all. It was a rather cool night otherwise.

When everyone wonders why we don't have $500 summer electric bills, that is why. Because the AC runs only a couple of hours a day. The house keeps cool through many other means besides the air, for sure. It's rare that there is a day/week so hot that we have to crank the A/C on for hours at a time.

Tidbits...

August 8th, 2008 at 08:58 pm

We just haven't been getting out much for whatever reason.

Can't blame the weather - the weather has been nice. This is the first summer since we have lived here that I don't hate every day. Dh was just telling me today I am just getting used to it. True, getting used to it, but only 2 weeks over 100 degrees is some new record if you ask me. I think the weather has been more average this summer (local average). But it has been terribly hot the last few years.

Our electric bill shows it too. Down, down, down.

& July was actually rather pleasant!!!!!

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

We went out to the track (BM ran a few laps - like a kid on Christmas day) and stopped by the park. It was actually rather cold. !!

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

After all that running BM Was starved when we got home, but he hadn't eaten much dinner and so dh told him that was it. We don't make our kids eat what they don't like, but if they don't eat dinner they get little else (why they are good eaters overall).

So dh had lectured BM when he didn't eat his dinner, but he was ravenous of course later.

I looked in the fridge and decided I would cave for some of the fresh veggies we had.

I pulled out the lemon cucumbers. Had never tried them but heard they were good.

Divine!!!!

We cut them up, salted them, and I actually liked them.

There is something to this fresh food thing, for sure.

We devoured our 2 lemon cucumbers rather quickly, so we hit the peaches. I am also not a huge peach fan, but these are good.

The pears are long gone.

We still got some eggplant, squash, peppers and cucumbers.

We should have sliced up the peppers and added them to our potatoes the other night. !

Anyway, so far so good. If nothing else, getting me to try and commit to some new foods. Variety in the diet...

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

Today was a sad day. I sold my lava lamp. Frown

Actually, it's my first Craigslist sell all month (yeesh!!!). But I s'posedly have 2 people coming over tomorrow to look at a couple of things.

Anyway, I bought it when I Was a teen and has gathered dust mostly since. I decided to be rid of it since it is kind of a fire hazard anyway. (& never gets used. But makes me nervous to use it, all the same).

Some guy picked it up in a motorcycle. "Good Luck with That," I thought. LOL. Wonder if it made it in one piece.

Dh sold a game system today. Was offered $15 less than the "higher" price he posted (we always start high and see what we can get). But also gave him 2 movie tickets. Yay!

(Probably would have taken the offer regardless. But was a nice touch).

He has been offered some really weird trades though. Just desparate cashless people. (Desparate for Wiis and such). But this was a good trade.

LM is with grandma for a couple of days and so we figure we might take advantage of paying much less for a babysitter, and having a free movie to watch.

If only there were any we wanted to see (can't see a new release with these tix - only catch).

Oh yes, and BTW, HATED Dark Knight. So not sure I want to waste another 2 hours of my life. Wink Wasted 2 hours last weekend.

Blah.

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

We haven't really firmed up any plans for the weekend. But I will probably go to aerobics in the a.m. tomorrow.

There is a fundraiser tomorrow morning as well because some nearby playground has been burned down to the ground twice (rebuilt once). They are having a pancake breakfast we will try to make (if not, will just donate).

What is wrong with people??????

Glad the residents aren't putting up with it. Rebuild rebuild rebuild (& hopefully cameras installed this time). Never been to the playground, don't know where it is. Am just PEEVED.

For lunch we have a BBQ to go for BM's new school.

Dh figured we'd take a date in the afternoon since we'd only have to pay for 1 at childcare. We may just enjoy peace and quiet at home. Maybe a free movie.

I hadn't thought much about it but just occurred to me we should go on a hike since we don't have LM. !! Just been in such a penny pinching mode (As everything falls apart around us) to think much about leisure. But we will try to go on a hike on Sunday. But for the gas, it shouldn't really cost much. (Not that gas is cheap!).

Then dh has to drive and pick up LM.

We have been doing the half way thing and no gas cash this round. Which is kind of a bummer because I honestly rather not be driving the kids all over tarnation - and the weekends is generally MY time with them. But whatever. Dh was running a bit late today when his mom called and said she was running even later. So he said he just slowed down and drove 55-60 with the trucks (drafting a bit) all the way to drop off LM at noon.

His car usually gets about 40mpg on these big freeway trips so not sure why he'd bother, but hey, kudos for him.

He peeved me last time we drove from San Jose. It just seemed to be taking forever and I didn't realize until the end he was driving on the slower end. Speed limit is 70mph. & I didn't want to spend another 20 minutes on the road I didn't have to. Wink But when I am not in the car - kudos I guess.

Most people would say I am extremely patient. But no, I do not have the patience to drive 1-2 hours at 55-60. No way!!! Big Grin Not much of a speeder, but when the speed limit is 70, I ain't going 65. For sure.

I also would probably see my life flash before my eyes (with the crazy drivers). I didn't quite understand until dh mentioned he just drove with the trucks. I was thinking, "How do you drive 55 and not get killed?"

Which is its own issue. In his little subcompact, I honestly try to stay the hell away from the semis. They are rather intimidating. I prefer to be in another lane.

But if it works for him...

We argued semantics because he said he wasn't drafting because he stayed back. But as I recall, the benefits of drafting were still there, even if you hung back a bit. I figured if he was in the "truck" lane, he got some pretty decent gas mileage. We'll see!

(Just wanted to clarify he wasn't tailgating trucks. Wink )

The Good and the Bad

August 8th, 2008 at 08:05 am

The credit card is already up to $1200 and it is only the 5th day of the fiscal month.

!!!!!

Just charged $200 for old medical expenses, $300 for the fridge repair, and $300 for computer parts.

Oh yes, and $400 for airfare (to be reimbursed). I forgot about that - is something.

Anyway, I guess the good is we haven't bought anything else. !!

Only $27 of groceries are showing through. (Have bought some gas and groceries since - just hasn't recorded yet).

It's going to be a LONG month.

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

However, dh got called in for a $100 focus group next week. !!!!!

Yay!!!!!!!!!

$50/hour - is not half bad.

It's during the day, but we'll make it work. Even daycare would make it worthwhile.

Now that I think about it, LM will be at daycare and BM is at an age he can sit quietly while I work. Just bring his games - so I may try something like that. & it is also during the lunch hour.

Anyway, dh said he had about $300 cash he was willing to give up from his used game "business." Would give him some cash to keep.

& now this $100.

So he's come up with $400 for the computer.

I don't think he will spend more than $700. So $300 from the budget, at most.

He's bought a few parts with some rebates as well. So hopefully when the rebates come, we can replenish savings a bit.

I may drain my mid-term savings to $2500. Kind of sucks, but could be SO much worse.

Also, we will hit our $250 credit card reward much sooner. We have been racking up more rewards with shifting so much of our medical expenses to the card (with the HDHP).

So that is kind of nice too.

IT's not the greatest year thus far, and I feel like we have a lot of catching up to do.

But I can't help but think as I read the forums AND talk to people around me in foreclosure-ville that there is not much to stress about here. With no debt and a decent amount of savings, this is a small blip we will move past quickly.

I don't say it to brag. I say it to be motivating to those who are struggling. It can be much better. Save, save, save those pennies! & knock those ugly debts on their heads! You can do it!

I could feel sorry for myself and my move backwards, but it is hard to get too upset looking around me. That is for sure.

This Week is a Wee Bit Crazy...

August 7th, 2008 at 07:30 am

Last night around 9pm (thankfully it was only 9pm), the alarm went off at my office.

Which is just fine and dandy, except EVERYONE is on vacation and I am the highest one on the totem pole. (How sad!!!!).

So they call me and say alarm is ringing and police have been notified. Great.

It took about 15-20 minutes to pack up the fam and get over there. (Terrible area, would never go alone, and never thought I would get called - I am so low on the list).

The police never showed up and I wonder if they had even called. Or if they had checked the place and left. The alarm had been reset remotely it appeared, by the company.

So I expected a little more excitement.

But was relieved not to see any damage, etc. !!! I checked the place the best I could in the dark. All the important rooms were locked and secured. No obvious broken windows (though it was too dark to really check out the back - I didn't have a key for the back, etc. anyway - doh).

But the alarm was on and everything looked fine. We returned home and I prayed we didn't get another call. Big Grin

My boss lives a few blocks from the place so I told dh I had never heard anyone mention answering a false alarm, etc. BUT my boss maybe has answered a few and not made a big deal about it.

It bugs me that I have no idea what set it off, though I believe in the past people and animals on the roof have set it off. That's all I can hope - that something was on the roof.

There's a lot of transients in the area that have broken in a few times, so I just kind of expected something like that - broken windows and such.

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

Anyway, last night dh was on a cooking spree.

We made eggplant curry soup. YUM. When I got home the garage smelled like curry. LOL. It was strong...

http://www.farmfreshtoyou.com/recipes/eggplantsoup-9810.shtml

Not for the faint of heart. (VERY spicy).

Dh also made chicken strips, more for leftovers I guess - ?

& finally, bacon-cheddar-stuffed-potatoes.

Yum!

Don't have the recipe handy, but they were going to have a bake potato bar on the last day of camp and I was so bummed we missed it because LM fell ill and we decided to leave early in the morning. So dh told me he would make it up to me.

Indeed he did. I am sure it was a million calories but it was so good. It was actually a mostly microwave recipe. But SO good.

My body is probably in shock - all those fruits and veggies? It's in shock.

We'll see how much I can keep it up I guess.

Not much else exciting to report.

I was thinking of coming home at lunch today and going to aerobics class tonight.

I have really been terrible on the workout front, eating front, etc. So I have much to work on.

Mostly I am just hoping nothing else falls apart or goes crazy this week. A little too much excitement for my taste.

$500 & CSA

August 6th, 2008 at 07:20 am

The latest quote to replace dh's computer: $500.

We'll see...

He did run to Fry's last night and picked up a Processor on sale. He grabbed it though he didn't know much about it - was a good deal. Figure he could return it if need be.

Anyway, looked it up and it was a little higher up than he had been planning to buy (Same price) BUT the reviews said the plus was that it was a low-energy usage component. Big Grin

Maybe we'll save electricity too!

Will have lucked into that one...

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

Dh also said the funniest thing to me yesterday. He said, "I don't think there's hardly anything else I want."

I kind of laughed at him and teased him, which he didn't like. But whatevah. I am not convinced.

The thing about dh is it is true - he doesn't really have many material possessions. BUT the stuff he happens to like is technology. Which is ever changing and improving.

So in the same breath he did tell me he wanted to get a HD camera.

So yeah, he has everything he wants, but he wants to upgrade everything too.

Not entirely convinced. Wink

But I'd be happy for him to prove me wrong!

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

Well, I actually signed up for a CSA - buying directly from a "local" farm. I say "local," because for all the farms in our backyard (we can literally walk to a few), the only CSA programs I found were a couple of hours away.

But this one delivers to our front door, and today is our first delivery.

Also, they have quite a few farm tours throughout the year, which I know the kids would LOVE.

It's not the best deal ever, but it is certainly not a cost-saving move. It is to try something new and to improve our diet. It will be $29 per delivery for about 10 pounds organic fruits/veggies per delivery.

So we are starting every other week to give it a whirl.

They have a package that is more fruit which I think would fit us more, but dh wanted to get the even fruit/veggie mix. We'll see... We can always change to the fruit if we find we don't use it enough.

Today we should get tomatoes, eggplant, grapes, squash, peaches, cucumbers, pears and peppers.

We don't eat a lot of eggplant or squash (or peaches for that matter). So we will have to try some new recipes. But I am all in. I will be eating some peaches this week, for sure.

I am terrible with eating fruits/veggies but I hear the stuff straight from the farm is just so divine. I will make an effort. Whatever dh cooks up with the eggplant or squash, I will eat.

Financially we are essentially trading in our diaper service for fresh produce service. The part of our budget that is more of an ecological statement, I guess. The part that says we will pay a little more to leave diapers out of the landfill or to support a local farm. (& yeah, the convenience is nice too).

Murphy is Not Welcome Here...

August 5th, 2008 at 07:10 am

Bah!!!!!

Hey, are you all sending me thoughts, prayer, vibes or whatever for my new car?

I think you may be, because everything else is falling apart. I always notice when something good happens, something bad happens, the yin and the yang.

So that is what I am holding out hope for. LOL.

Is it worth winning maybe one of the $1k prizes if I have to shell out $1k in repairs this week? Maybe not. Bah.

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

It started Saturday. I thought our HDTV was broken (barely a year new). I am QUITE relieved to say it was the TV station (CNBC and MSNBC). But holy cow, I almost had a heart attack. I was drifting off to sleep watching CNBC (Suze of course) when I noticed a missing square on the TV screen. I knew it was bigger than a pixel and seemed kind of odd, but the worst was running through my mind.

Changed the channel and looked at older episodes of Suze, and it was gone.

I told dh later and he knew exactly what I Was talking about. Said MSNBC had given him the same heart attack just the other day. But it was definitely not on our end. Phew!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, so, phew, saved by the bell.

But Sunday, dh got some ice cream out of the freezer and it was mushy. Freezer broken!

We ended up just calling Sears out. They tried to sell some extended warranty thing for $250 and I just rolled my eyes. The freezer was cutting in and out, I was sure it was probably something simple.

Anyway, dh was in a panic and I told him just to chill out and call Sears. Yeesh. He was convinced we needed a new fridge!

Wouldn't you know, it cost $250 to fix. Buggers. But it was just the filter had never been cleaned. They recommended once every 3 months and showed dh how to clean it. I think once a year will suffice. (It took over 6 years to give out). A fuse had also blown, so it was more than just the filter.

The guy tried to sell another extended warranty thing to dh. Dh said no and the guy said, "Yeah, I wouldn't bother. Kenmores never have problems."

Well, duh.

So my PSA of the day is clean the filter on your fridge...

(Also cost us a freezer full of food - luckily really not much in there. Some chicken butter, and veggies. & ice cream that was almost gone anyway).

Anyway, we were coming into our super frugal no-spend August, because the last few months have just been a little too spendy. & this is how it starts. !!!

All of this would be fine except dh calls me later and I don't hear anything. I tried to call back and he didn't answer. I wonder if the kids are playing with his cell phone or what. Or if he was in some terrible accident trying to reach me (I assume the worst of course).

What is going on??????????

I finally reach him and he is grumbling that his blue tooth is no longer working on his phone. (He realizes as he is trying to call me).

Okay, no biggie. He just bought it and he can take it back. But annoying all the same.

But the reason he called me is because his computer DIED. Dead as a doornail.

Ugh!

I am cursing myself for jinxing it. It is the computer we leave on most of the day and I Was quite adamant in the forums that we have never had a computer die on us. (We never have, we still have the computers we used in college - for the kids to use and other uses). But we have replaced the power supplies a million times, so I would much rather leave the computer on than turn it on and off too much. Personally.

Oh yeah, was that the jinx of the century. This computer is about 4 years old I would guess? One of our newer ones, for sure.

Dh bought a power supply because it wouldn't even start, and that is the usual repair - have done it a few times on our other computers.

BUT that wasn't it. He had told me when I got home it was fine unless it was the motherboard.

HE eventually diagnosed it as the motherboard. UGh!

Of course, he first postulated he could rebuild another computer for a mere $200 since he wasn't quite ready to upgrade all the other parts. He built this one. But then he remembers he needs buy an OS. Okay, maybe $350, For a new notherboard/processor and Windown Vista or whatever.

Last I heard he may spend $600. We'll see...

Of course, I looked at the bright side. I know he has been chomping at the bit to upgrade his big editing system. So I said, just upgrade it and move your old one down here. It's the logical choice. & he says, no, he's not ready to upgrade.

Whatever. Will save me six figures then. LOL. (It's all I hear about - I need a new computer!!!! But given the opportunity, no he doesn't want one. I don't understand).

Anyway, I know it's a PITA and has thwarted all my Craigslist selling indefinitely because that computer had my e-mail and Craigslist postings and pictures, etc. I feel jinxed on the Craigslist side. I knew I should have used one of my other e-mails. Bah! I had some interested e-mails that are lost in space. At least future ones will get through.

& yes, though it will be a huge PITA for dh to fix and all, he was just going on and on last night.

Seriously, we have 3 other up and running computers. I think he will survive. I kind of roll my eyes on some level. At least it wasn't our only working computer.

Anyway, Murphy has done a job over here, but it's hard to get too worked up. Dh has been making some decent side money, and for the first time since like 2005, I actually have a savings fund for this kind of stuff. I would prefer to move forward at a faster clip, to make up for lost time. But I have about $3200 in there now. Plenty to fix the fridge and replace a computer. We haven't really had anything give up on use since we had kids and cut our income way down. All I can think of is out washer which was 30years+ old anyway. So I think if this was one month sooner I'd be a bit more panicked. But I know we've had quite a lucky streak all the same.

I just hope Murphy is done for this round. Wink

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

Oh, the only other thing around here is I am not sure I shared the monster fight I had with dh. He actually hung up on me on the phone. LOL. Yeah, I Can laugh about it now. I honestly think that was a first.

He went to deposit the kids' birthday money in our account (as we always do) so we could transfer it (electronic transfer) into their mutual funds. This was like a month ago.

Anyway, dh called me to tell me they wouldn't take the checks ("third party") and that he was going to open accounts for them. I started griping that was ridiculous since they would charge fees and give miserable interest and I didn't like the idea. I just wanted to put it in their mutual fund.

Anyway, dh got all pissed like I didn't think he knew what he was doing and he hung up on me. !!!!!!!!!!

We talked it out but I realized there are certain things we will NEVER discuss again. I brought up his wonderful bank account with the crazy minimium and how he kept getting $50 fees for dropping under the minimum. He still to this day is annoyed we have a 0% checking account, and I roll my eyes at his 0.5% checking account that needed a $1 minimum and was routinely hit with $50 fees. So I brought that up and that was the hot button that caused him to hang up on me.

Yeah, something I will never mention again. Yeesh! (But I am right - you understand!!!)

Dh also tells me he is annoyed I locked up all the kids' money for college.

Huh? I told him it was in a UGMA mutual fund where it would actually GROW, but they could use it for whatever the hell they want. That's the point.

So, oh boy, we obviously have some communication issues. I guess he thought it was all locked up in a college fund. We rather see eye to eye on that one since neither of us spent much at all for college. But for whatever reason since I call it a "college fund" he thinks it can only be used for college. More just a term I use for their long-term savings. At this point, yeah, most of it is for college. What else are they going to need it for in the next few years????? But if they want to use it on a car or house, whatever. That's why I didn't put it in a 529.

So, there is a point to this story.

We tried to open these savings accounts for the kids multiple times and each time have had a brick wall. We need to bring x,y, and z. Oy vey. IT's easier to get a passport.

so dh made the trek yesterday for another attempt, BM in tow (thought he may enjoy the process).

Anyway, so dh called to tell me that the deed was done, and I log online to look at all those lovely accounts. After our fight dh had assured us there was NO FEES. Whatsoever. I said, yeah, they'll stick you somehow. & dh thought I was insulting him. I told him I would never argue with him over TV setup so why is he arguing with me in my area of expertise? LOL.

So I log on yesterday and their accounts have $44 instead of $45.

Dh failed to mention the fee they stuck him with. LOL.

So I am like, um, was there a $1 fee? He's like, "Yeah, yeah, I don't want to talk about it."

LOL.

It was just funny.

I was right, but I Can live with $1. It is a CU after all. The bank would be much worse.

But this is the point I tried to make to dh all along.

The nice thing is now we can transfer the money to our account, and then into their mutual fund.

Hallelujah. What a lot of PITA for that. Geez. But it's all set up now, the fee is paid, and life moves on. (Doesn't seem to be any other fees so we'll survive).

I don't care if BM wants to keep some money in there, but I think LM hardly needs $44. (He's 3 - what is he going to buy?) So I will try to convince dh to let me transfer that to his mutual fund. We still have some talking to do about it all.

But yeah, about the biggest fight we ever had - & what a stupid fight it was.

Send me Vibes!

August 4th, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Big Grin

I asked earlier (I got the idea from Paulette, as far as new job vibes). To send me vibes for a contest.

My CU is having a 75th Anniversary contest and they have about 160 prizes. (10 being brand new cars!)

Their was one entry allowed per person. (But multiple per household - yay). So though I think 2 new cars would be even better, I don't exactly want to be greedy either. Though maybe dh can win a lesser prize too.

LOL.

Anyway, send me those vibes. The drawing is tomorrow.

I keep telling dh I am gonna win a car and he keeps rolling his eyes.

I just don't think I will ever enter a contest with such good odds again.

I had to submit a crossword puzzle, and it was a little hard. I can't imagine that many people bothered - it was a rather short time frame for the contest.

I mean, what were there, 1000 entries?

We'll see. Maybe I am way off!

The prizes of $1000 IRAs or $100 gift certificates aren't half bad either. I just want to win something/anything.

But hey, send me vibes for a car. Big Grin

Challenge Moolah

August 4th, 2008 at 06:48 am

2008 $20 challenge:

$3,512.00 - 7/1

100.00 - ROTH Contributions - August
77.00 - July Interest
------------------
$3,689.00 - Balance 8/1
------------------

People and their Cars...

August 3rd, 2008 at 08:12 am

One thing that has always struck me about my parents is that they have never spent much on cars.

2 exceptions.

They bought a brand new Toyota in 1981 or so. They've never bought a brand new car, before or since, but I don't think they regret it at all either. I ended up buying it from them when I was a teen and retired it when the engine gave out in 1999. The car got well enough use. (Almost 20 years. I would have driven it longer if it hadn't of just DIED one day. Well over 200k miles).

AND, my mom bought some really fancy car around 1997.

It was a car that was $50k brand new, but she found one a couple of years old for $20k.

Anyway, these were the car splurges my parents did over the years - one for each (the Toyota was my dads).

There's no other reason so obvious why they have been able to save so much over the years. They have never really spent much on cars. (I doubt any of their other cars cost more than $10k and they tend to drive them for a couple of decades).

So my mom tells me yesterday that she ran into a neighbor and my mom said, "Nice car!" I forgot what make she said it was, but something fancy.

They guy says, "Yeah, but it's OLD! It's an '05."

Pfffffffttttttt!!!!

Telling my family that an '05 is an OLD car? Puh-leeze.

My mom said, "Well my car (fancy as it is, mind you) is a 1995."

My mom said his jaw just dropped.

"Wow!!!"

Almost in a good way, like "I can't believe your nice car is 13 years old."

It actually looks rather modern.

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

Of course, I notice this really in particular as a young person. You don't know how many people who have told me about their piece of crap 2000 or 2005 cars while I was driving a car from 1992.

I just roll my eyes.

Since we have 2 relatively new cars I haven't gotten it so much lately. (2001 & 2005 - might as well be brand spanking new to me).

But I am starting to notice this with the 2001 Ford. We have got about 90k miles on the Ford, and it seems like everyone I know is hitting 100k miles and freaking out. Time to buy a new car!!!!!

I'm just like thinking, are they kidding? This car is such a BABY to us.

Not planning on willingly trading up any time soon. No thanks. 5 more years at the least! (The car cost us a whopping $7888 in 2002. & it gets such stellar gas mileage it is going up in value all of a sudden. I wrote it off as worthless, suddenly it is worth $4k? So bizarre. Talk about a deal on a car. One of our better purchases, yes).

The 2005? I have 10 more years in mind (at the least). Since it is the newest car, by far, I have ever owned, I would have never thought of it as old. Wink

I guess this is a warning that the old car comments are coming for the 2000 decade of cars. Yeesh. IT was kind of nice for a while not having all my friends insult me so indirectly. (So whoa is me with their "old" cars, while my car was a decade older).

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

Reminds me of another funny car story.

My in-laws have an old Geo MEtro (1990 or something??????) that their niece gave to them when she retired it. I have no idea what the story is on that - just know they ended up with it (though had never seen them drive it - they already have 2 cars).

Maybe they are saving it as a gift for BM some day or something. Seriously. They are kind of weird like that. LOL. (Whereas I'd sell it and invest the proceeds so I could buy a nicer car in 11 years when he turns 16. They are the types to save something for 16 years, yes).

I am kind of kidding, but as I said it, I start to wonder. LOL.

Anyway, I guess FIL has taken to driving it a bit more with gas prices (I didn't even know it still run!)

So some random guy asked him if he would trade his little old Geo Metro (teeny-tiny car) for his SUV. LOL. He was total serious - gave him an offer in the parking lot.

Honestly, it probably would have been a good trade. I am sure the SUV was worth far more than the car. Could have sold it perhaps?

Will never know I guess. Wink

It is just amazing to me. How many people I know who wouldn't get caught dead in anything but a SUV? Now reduced to such desperation.

Kind of sad really.

But yeah, not really feeling very sorry for them either. Hehe. It's nice to see some sanity return to the masses. Then again I still can't believe people are going so extreme. (It really is the desperation). From the SUVs to public transit. & little Geo Metros. I never would have guessed it. So bizarre.

& it is extra bizarre to have so many people who thought we were just cheap suddenly jealous of our little Ford subcompact. LOL. People are just so weird.


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