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Archive for June, 2010

Lunch Update

June 30th, 2010 at 01:30 pm

I hadn't updated lately, but I have only been eating in, per usual.

In fact, I only ate out once (lunch date with dh) which is not necessarily good. Means I have been anti-social. Then again, have been on vacation and eating "out" too much nights and weekends. So, probably works out.

We haven't initiated much eating out, but camp meant LOTS of food, we were invited to 2 dinners, a couple of BBQs, and as I always say, my waistline is always in line with how much I Eat out. It doesn't matter if I get salad with dressing on the side, when I eat outside the home, I end up with more inches and pounds.

I believe I worked 20 days, in June, and only bought one meal. 20 days would be easy peasy, but I squeezed in a lunch date with dh while the kids were still in school. Lunch dates will resume in August. I neglected my other 2 lunch buddies this month.

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TODAY...

Ate apple sauce and mixed nuts for breakfast. Leftover sloppy joes and salad, for lunch. Someone brought in cupcakes, so will probably be my snack. Big Grin

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Not much to report. Dh is beginning his 6 full weeks home with the kids. I could tell they were driving him a little crazy yesterday. The heat didn't help. Well, they were definitely cooped up. I told them it would be cooler today so asked daddy to take them to the park, or to the pool. Wink

That said, I was feeling lazy, so appeased BM with Yahtzee and scrabble the last couple of nights. (The 100F+ days didn't help). Tonight should be considerably cooler so many the park or pool will be an evening activity.

Oh yes - BM's summer camp got cancelled. No surprise. They actually offered to transfer him to another park, but it wasn't appealing without being right down the street. I told dh it was up to him, but he passed. He'd have to drive him, but would be stuck with him bouncing off the walls, too. Wink

I went to Walgreens on the way home the other day to grab a Graduation card, for a relative of sorts. I couldn't find any. Geez. I walked out with a lunch box for LM. Thankfully, Mr. Picky loved it.

I saw Hanes was having a great sale, but I am not quite sure what we need. I need to get organized this weekend and figure out what the kids need for their school wardrobes. I think BM still has all the shorts he wore for Kinder, and those could go to LM. (HE still wears them because he grows up more than out). Which means I may just need some XS shorts. Or I need to find some with elastic waistbands. (They have belts, but the shorts/pants can run pretty wide and useless).

BM probably needs some bigger shirts too. I could probably hand ALL his clothes to LM and just start over. Ugh.

The school has a clothes closet that I usually just leave for the less well off. BUT, this year I may be able to donate some stuff, so feel less guilty trading for some bigger sizes. We may try that.

They have a dress code to "help the poor." You know how I feel about that, from prior posts. I am not sure why the "poor" want to buy a second set of clothes for their kids. I sure as hell spend as little as possible on the "second bland wardrobe." IT helps to know they really aren't that picky, so I don't have to shop for hours or spend a fortune on getting the correct colors, etc. Will be much easier picking out a backpack this round. Will respect the "no character" rules (that no one else seems to respect), but I am not going to freak out if I can't find a plainer than plain child's backpack for under $20. If a character backpack is on sale $5, I may ignore the rules entirely.

They sent me a catalog, for the Kindergartener, for the expensive store they want us to buy our clothes at. I rolled my eyes and threw it in the recycle bin. Thankd Goodness for Hanes. I can get most the stuff for $5 apiece. Not sure where I will get shorts. It just occured to me LM we need more bland shoes too. Rolleyes He's got light up character shoes from Payless and all. The plain shoes are always more exensive too...

Learned Something; Controlling the Beast

June 29th, 2010 at 10:58 am

Learned something interesting.

What do you call the @ symbol used in e-mail addresses?
http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/explain/docs/atsymbol.asp

There really is no name for it, but "at." So I feel like less of an idiot trying to figure out what that symbol is called.

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For the short summer, dh signed up for a free trial of Netflix. Now that we have the internet/HD TV.

Netflix - their streaming service sounds really awesome.

We currently have Blockbuster online. The blu rays do not cost more (huge plus, to dh). Their shipping is lightning fast, we get free game rentals (in-store) and the store exchanges, and free in-store rental coupons, are uber convenient.

Oh, and dh can't stand to wait for new releases. Blockbuster makes them available immediately - Netflix has to wait a week or something? Do I have that right?

Clearly, Blockbuster is the better service. BUT they don't do streaming.

SO, I am worried dh will want BOTH. That said, he may just get a more bare bones Blockbuster subscription and the barest bones netflix one. It's probably not horrible. I suppose he could also just go back to in-person renting at BB, occasionally, if it is cheaper than a full subscription.

Though he did tell me he may want to subscribe to HBO for a few months next year. It's hard to tame the beast. You would never imagine how patient his nature is when you talk to him about stuff. He couldn't possibly wait until it came out on DVD. Rolleyes

Anyway, I can only hope the netflix sucks. Wink But, he figured it would be good to subscribe with the kids home for the summer. For now, he is just trying it out, and we will go from there.

I will be pushing to choose just one service - of course. If it were just me - I'd probably take the streaming. I could care less about the rest.

Good Busy

June 28th, 2010 at 03:45 pm

Busy, busy, busy.

Good busy.

The weekend flew by. I worked a bit (as to not obliterate my vacation time). Made it to aerobics (lots of stretching, some yoga, always VERY relaxing). Squeezed in a hair cut (chopped pretty short - thank goodness), and took LM swimming.

I had planned to take the kids to San Jose over the weekend. Dh had a volunteer shift, late Saturday. BUT, then BM really wanted to go to a birthday party. Camping was tiring, and I felt rather eh about the whole thing. Tried to talk dh into a small trip next weekend, instead. He didn't want to go anywhere next weekend. Then, got invited to a graduation party in San Jose. (Rather last minute, really). I still wasn't convinced, but the 100+ degree forecast swayed me.

We ditched the heat for a forecasted 86-degree day or so. As usual, the heat followed us. Last time we planned a day out of town (mind you, a hotter inland area), it was like 10 degrees more than predicted. Yesterday, Sacramento was 101, exactly as predicted, but we decided to spend a day in San Jose, mostly outside, nowhere with any AC, and it got up to 95 degrees. Ugh!!

We took the kids to a zoo that recently re-opened. We ate there and baked quite a bit, and then took our smelly/sweaty selved over to the party. Thankfully, it was in a much better shady area. They had an indoor area, but there was the whole no AC thing. Blech.

The only reason I survived was I chopped off piles of hair, Saturday. Thus, the "thank goodness" for that! They never cut my hair as short as I ask, and it had gotten quite long. BUT, this stylist was overly aggressive. Which was actually kind of refreshing. I paid $9.99 with my coupon, paid a generous tip, and am definitely ready for summer. Big Grin I would have been so uncomfortable otherwise. I just have so much hair. Piling it on top of my head just makes me bake, in comparison.

We ate well and the kids swam. If I really thought it would be that hot, I would have brought my swimsuit.

We had time to see my parents for a bit, which means we got home really late. But we saw like the entire family and had fun, so was a good use of our 8 hours there. 4 hours in the car. We rarely make it a day trip, but the kids are so used to the drive, was no biggie. They are pros. Dh and I always get good talks in on the long drives.

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This week is preschool graduation, blood drive (I haven't made it in 9 months, but hear July 4th is a big blood needing time - accidents I suppose). Fourth of July festivities.

I can't believe I have 5 or 6 weeks to get LM all squared away for Kindergarten (need to buy a backpack and some clothes? lunch box?). I still need to reserve a vehicle for our Denver trip.

Never boring!

Graduation Gift

June 28th, 2010 at 11:12 am

Looked this up because remembered it had been discussed:

http://www.savingadvice.com/forums/general-discussion/46626-...

Not what I Wanted to see, particularly since giftee lives in insane high cost area. I used to live there - I know people are accustomed to bigger gifts.

So, though $50 or $100 would be more appropriate, she is going to have to live with $30. Dh wanted to give $20. I told him I felt we should give more. In fact, offered $25 as compromise. But he preferred a round number, even if it meant more.

The funny thing? She is an adult (later)adoptee who belongs to a cousin our age. If you gave me 5 more years, maybe I could swing a nicer gift. Just kind of hit me that "aunts" tend to be a little older when their nieces and nephews graduate high school. But, at age 33, all the other kids in the family are ages 0 - 7. As such, I don't think they expect much from us. Phew! I will have lots more time to prepare for the rest. This was kind of like, "What the heck? Graduated from high school? When did that happen???"

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

June 28th, 2010 at 08:17 am

I love these little father/son articles:

Isaac Learns the Meaning of Penny-Wise

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB127759276673110965.html

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I've personally ridden the Greyhound to save money. Not half way across the country. I'd do it again, (particularly if broke), but do remember a particularly uncomfortable bus ride from Tennessee to New JErsey. Much of the trip we had extra seats to ourselves and we were quite comfortable, but for the overnight stretch we ended up in a packed bus with unsavory characters. Not only that, but they were very large and I couldn't sit with my friends. We got separated and I got sandwhiched between a bunch of extra tall characters (legs, everywhere. Not so much girth).

Taking the bus from New York to Boston, was quite pelasant, in comparison. They even showed a movie. But both these trips involved more airfare than bus fare. Phew! I think I would too take from the experience that anything more than 12 hours requires a train or a plane ride, if I had the money! For my TN to NJ ride, can't say I had any money. So it was okay. Wink

The Day has Arrived!

June 26th, 2010 at 11:56 am

No more preschool!

Eh. It actually isn't that exciting...

Since, LM has been on the waitlist forever for more hours at his current preschool. 18 months exactly - well, nevermind about that. The $150/month is no small beans, but I also have a one-time $1200 flood insurance increase, this year (due December). It will be more exciting next year, I suppose.

(At some point we were paying $300+ per month, which was when I was more excited about this day arriving).

That said, I am glad to be done. The place was nice enough - nothing would compare to their last preschool. BUT, there was another dad in LM's class who has a fatal disease, and I just got an e-mail that the young father who died in our community (5 month battle with cancer), was also a parent at said school. I didn't even know.

Oy vey. Is it something in the water?

I am happy to disassociate myself from the place. They are nice enough, but I could do without all the dire disease. She's probably glad to be rid of all of us too - it must have been a heavy year for the school.

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Oh, it is pretty nice to have one less monthly bill. What have we got left?

Gradener, mortgage, health insurance? electric bill, county utilities and Surewest. Is that it? We charge everything else. (These are the only ones we can't charge. Or too many hoops to jump through to do so). Makes bill pay day very simple. Big Grin

Lots to Catch Up on

June 25th, 2010 at 01:42 pm

**So, camp was great, as always. This time we had our niece, and LM was more open to the little kid activities (he refused to do most of them last year and freaked out a bit). Thus, we actually had a LOT of free time, since he would go off with the other little kids. Very relaxing! Big Grin

All we heard was that the water was too cold and swift to go anywhere near the rivers. I figured the lake wouldn't be much better (temperature wise), so we didn't take swim suits over there. Which was also relaxing (since I am the only one who will go in the water to keep a close eye on the kids). That said, the kids just jumped in the water with their clothes on. Rolleyes I had to tell BM that "chest deep" was not "sticking in your feet." Wink But they got diverted to sand castle making, and I did get a nap in, on the beach!

One of my goals this year was to read 12 books. I love reading, but never make time for it, it seems. As of June, my book number is a big fat 0! But, I did read 200 pages at camp. Dh has all sorts of "kid books," laying around the house. I grabbed The Golden Compass, which is, interesting... 200 pages to go.

I have been wanting to re-read A Wrinkle in Time, and dh tells me to read the Spiderwick Chronicles, too. I figure I will start there. I can still read 12 books - I am a fast reader. Especially if I do the others - which are much smaller books - to start. I presume I can finish my firt book of the year during the upcoming 3-day weekend.

Dh highly recommends some series he is reading currently, but it is about a million pages. I am worried I will get discouraged. Wonder if I should read that when the kids are out of the house or something... I just don't want to get sucked into something so time consuming.

Camp was more of the same, as far as last year. Not much new. LM decided he really liked hiking, though. I don't remember how or why we talked him onto a short hike. BM usually LOVES hiking, but had no interest at all. So the next night at dinner, LM tells me, "I think I can go for a hike by myself." Mind you, he is 4 years old. Oy vey. So we had a little talk about how dangerous that was. But he was all excited to go for a hike with a partner, then.

We haven't done a lot of hiking with him not being much up to it, but I suppose that tide is turning. (BM will go on any hike - the more treacherous the better - since he was 3).

It would just figure if BM no longer sees the allure in hiking. But, will have to try and do some more hikes now, see if we can all get on the same page.

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**Dh had 2 free tickets to see Toy Story, so we went out to see it last night. I really liked it, but wished they had more of some of the new characters. I think the Prickly Pants guy had like 2 lines. From the previews and all the hype you'd figure he was some main character.

I think this is the 5th time that dh told me the "3D was useless." I said, "So why would we pay for 3D again?"

I don't get it. He said, "we won't." But I think that's what he said last time. I didn't even know it was a 3D movie, until he handed me the 3D glasses.

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**I've been in a generous mood, I suppose.

Well, not entirely. I bought a zoo membership (a San Jose zoo just re-opened after being closed quite a while. I can't stand our local zoo, so we take a membership elsewhere). That just happens to be tax-deductible though it is more of an entertainment expense.

As far as camping, MIL insisted on paying for us. I didn't argue. It's been a year... While there, they were asking for money for improvements. I told dh I was probably just going to donate $100 since we hadn't paid a dime. I'd be open to donating more, if it hadn't been such a year. We mostly had the $700 for it. But, maybe next year we will donate $500 or something.

In addition, I read a touching newspaper article a couple of weeks back, about foster kids and such who were accepted into great colleges, but had no personal belongings for the dorm rooms, etc. They were asking for money for the kids to go "dorm room" shopping. IT spoke to me. My dad went through college with no support (for the most part) and whereas the standard reply to my own college experience was, "Your parents don't support you? They aren't footing your college? You pay your own rent??? You WORK???" I knew far better than that. I knew I had far more support than a lot of college students have - even if it wasn't much financial support. I was always appreciative of the hand-me-downs and the emotional support. The money my parents did give me for college. Who cared about the rest? I could handle it on my own. Reading the article I remember when I rented my first apartment and my mom bought me a couple of items for my new room.

The least I could do was donate to such a great cause.

A Debt Debate...

June 25th, 2010 at 11:27 am

I just thought this was interesting.

I saw this discussion a while ago:

http://gracefulretirement.blogspot.com/2010/02/are-we-failin...

It was in reference to the "Blogging Away Debt" blog which was featured here in the past. (Maybe still is, but haven't seen it in a while).

She wanted to delay her debt repayments to go on a very pricey trip to Europe with her family.

So, today I saw this post:

http://www.bloggingawaydebt.com/2010/06/financial-waffling/

I just wanted to gag reading all the comments on the post.

The jist of it being: "You only live once - do it do it do it!"

Having been debt free (except mortgage) my entire life, I just can't take the side of said blogger. Being debt free buys you tremendous freedom and opportunity. I don't buy that putting off that freedom for a trip that "can't wait one year," makes any financial sense. A little patience means you can have your cake and eat it too. I am pretty much agreement with most of the commenters on the first blog post I linked. (& as they allude to - there is MUCH more to the story, like unsteady employment).

That said, I don't think one trip will necessarily make or break them. I don't think it's 100% black and white. These comments run extreme both ways, but not much middle ground.

IT doesn't really matter what I think. I didn't share this debate last time, because she seemed to have been beat up enough by the blogosphere. I just had to gag when I saw 20 comments cheering her on today, with no dissent.

I suppose I find it interesting how different of a mindset people can have on the same subject.

I just don't think it is so black and white. I have personally given up many expensive travel opportunities, with little regrets. I don't think any were "once in a lifetime," in nature. & it doesn't mean I have never made my passions a priority. In fact, traveling is not much of a passion of mine.

If traveling is her passion, or this is truly, "once in a lifetime," so be it. I just find myself a little skeptical. You do only live once, but it doesn't mean you should live recklessly and give in to every whim.

Back from Camp

June 24th, 2010 at 07:19 am

Not sure how it is in another areas, but a lot of the cities in Northern California run "family camps." They own campgrounds around Yosemite or Tahoe, or elsewhere I suppose, and hold camps in the summer with lots of activities and very reasonable room and board. (You can attend any camp you wish, but is discounted if you are a resident of the city it belongs to).

This was our third year in a row. We had no choice this year since the San Jose camp was shut down due to some structural issues and water quality issues. Which is fine - the amenities at Sacramento camp are WAY better. HOT showers, and nice little cabins. Anyway, we kind of travel with San Jose relatives, so we have gone to both camps (dh went to SJ camp as a child).

We went with our parents and our niece.

We had a great time, and more on all of that later.

But, we were lucky we didn't get snowed out. They had these pictures up from just a few weeks ago. Up to a couple of weeks ago they still had 4-5 feet of snow hanging around. They were very busy clearing it all out in time, and the kids got lots of snow play.

These pictures were on their website, from end of May:





I'll show pictures later of how it was when we were there - you will see how busy they must have been, clearing out the snow! There were just a couple of snow piles remaining by the time we arrived.

Someone would say, "I guess we came a lot later last year." Um yeah, July 1? Yes, we came so much later last time. Rolleyes The snow was a wee bit unusual, but there had been some big storms in May.

Anyway, they cleared most of it out in time for camp. We had to contend with a lot of mud though!

In the end, the weather was divine. If not for the cabins, we might have really FROZE. Weather was still hitting in the high 30s overnight. Thankfully we had good shelter. The days were beautiful, sunny and warm. Even the beach ended up being a nice 80-degreed day. I have lots of pictures of the kids playing in snow piles in their shorts and flip flops - hehe.

At home I set the thermostat to 87, for the cat, in case of freak heat wave. I am extra careful about that after a friends' house got up to 100 degrees in an unexpected heat wave, while they were on vacation. It killed their fish. SO, I always set the air, and this was the first summer it looked like it didn't kick on at all while we were gone. The house was 80 degrees upon our return.


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ETA: I am linking an old post about family camp since I got so many questions last year - answers some questions...

http://monkeymama.savingadvice.com/2009/07/06/questions-answ...

Random Updates

June 20th, 2010 at 07:20 am

**Dh's stars must be aligned on the friendship front, lately. He had his grade school reunion last night, and one of his old friends is a "stay at home dad" who lives a couple of blocks from us. (Keep in mind, we live 110 miles away from said grade school, but then again it's not the first "neighbor who used to be a neighbor." Happens all the time in our affordable mecca - our neighborhood attracts Bay Area types. Our next door neighbor grew up down the street from dh, for example).

**Looking at the weather for our impending camping trip, and am glad we are staying in cabins. Night time lows in the 30s? Yeesh. Not necessarily prepared for that. Looking on the bright side - don't think we will need mosquito spray.

We will just have to do more active things, to keep warm. Looks like one of the days will be warm enough for the beach, but too far ahead to tell. I won't hold my breath!

**Yesterday I ran to the grocery store. Frozen mango orange juice was all on sale for 99 cents. I bought 2 more (and then found one in the freezer) for smoothies. I generally just grab what is on sale, and that is the best kind anyway. But, none of the fruit was on sale. I thought I had some strawberries already, so grabbed blueberries and peaches.

We have so many cherries left from the farm, that I should probably freeze some of those too.

I cut up and froze some browning bananas.

We picked out a tub of strawberry banana yogurt.

I didn't get frozen mangos so I couldn't use my recipe:

Thin/sweet (juice) version:

8 oz peach yogurt
1/2 can mango-orange concentrate
8 oz water
1 cup frozen mango pieces
handful of ice cubes

Thick/less sweet version:

8 oz peach yogurt
1/2 can mango-orange concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup frozen mango pieces
1 frozen banana (peel and chop before freezing)

I suppose I forgot the peach yogurt, too.

SO, we tried this:
some strawberry banana yogurt
1/2 can mango-orange concentrate
some milk
some water
4 frozen peach slices
1 frozen banana (peel and chop before freezing)

I was pretty tempted to throw in some blueberries, but didn't want to go overboard. In the end, they probably would have been good. The kids told me it was the "best smoothie ever." It wasn't near as sweet as it can usually get with the mango orange. I think peach/mangos does better to bring out the awesome flavor of the mango orange juice, but this worked quite well for that we had.

Oh, I also let the kids get watermelon juice. Maybe we will try to do watermelon smoothies today. I probably should have gotten some plain or vanilla yogurt for that.

**I supppose it is Father's Day. Dh is the clever/thoughtful gift giving type. I am not. I let him buy a new monitor (already got it) and forgot today was the big day. I could have the kids make a list of why they love their daddy - something like that. He is not home since he went to the Bay Area for his reunion. He won't have to know I FORGOT. I suppose that is good - we have a crazy/busy day otherwise. Some last minute kid cuteness will have to do.

**I have been catching "Til Debt Do us Part," show that everyone has been talking about. I had never noticed it before (current episodes first aired in 2005???).

Two observations:

-I think I have come to understand the "Head in the Sand" types a bit and have an extra understanding how frustrating that could be. I don't know - I don't think I could do it. It just hit me one day watching that show - how nice it must be to not have a care in the world - let someone else worry about all that. A terrible thing to do as a person (in a marriage), but I can see the draw. Especially if your partner lets you get away with that! Anyway, I suppose this may be the first show of this type that really focuses on the financial dynamics of married couples. Kind of fascinating.

-The money jars. It always strikes me that their "cut it to the bone/get out of debt" budget strongly resembles our budget. Usually something in the $1k range for variable expenses like food, transportation, eating out, etc. Not that we follow is strictly, but we generally go $800 for food and gas, $150 misc, and maybe $300-ish per month for a few other variable items. We are not trying to get out of debt, but are trying to not get into debt, and also would like to be able to retire some day. Big Grin

Bought Skates!

June 19th, 2010 at 01:02 pm

So, I had been perusing used options (very open to them), but I have unusual-sized feet. So basically, if I were a size 6 womens, I'd have my pick of Craigslist. (I literally saw at least 10 pairs for sale?)

Of course, I was no where near giving up. I've only been skate shopping a few days! BUT, while perusing skates I did find brand new ones for $30 (on sale, at amazon). I couldn't resist. They were 40% off, and rated very highly.

A good deal. Now I only have to go to the rink 15 times to breakeven.

My parents agreed to buy BM some skates, for his B-Day in a few weeks. I didn't see any for sale, and next month I will probably run him by the used sports shop. It's one thing to spend $30 on a pair of skates I intend to keep forever. As far as BM, he may outgrow them in 5 minutes, BUT at least LM can use them too. I am just buying BM skates, and LM will have endless hand-me-downs if we stick with it. I do hope it is easier to find his size used. Looks unlikely, but will see! Even though it won't be my money, I will still try to get the best deal.

I did get Men's skates, for my big feet. Works out, since I liked the colors better anyway.

Brrrrrrrrrr...

June 19th, 2010 at 09:28 am

"It's not that cold but the wind is COLD."

My work hosted a dinner last night at a nice restaurant, on the patio. Someone mentioned that they had heaters, and someone else laughed and made fun of them a bit, actually. Having been trying to go to the park in the evenings, I told them, "It's been chilly at night."

That said, I didn't think ahead, and ended up being pretty cold (they had put the heaters away for our hot summers - of course). IT was probably a perfect 65 degrees or so, but there was a very chilly wind.

I suppose it's so unusual, that I just thought it was a freak thing.

Driving home from aerobics this morning, I was pondering what to do today with the kids (outside chores). I thought, "We should go swimming in the afternoon." I got out to fill my gas tank and was met with a very chilly wind. "Um, nevermind!" I suppose we will stay indoors.

I looked at the weather and there wasn't even a day over 90 degrees predicted for the next 10 days - which is absurd. IF May was a record, for no 90+ degreed days, then June will be quite a record, too.

Of course, our camping trip is approaching, and I am not very excited about how cold it is going to be. Bah. We will have fun - but definitely no swimming or sun bathing. With the recent storms, we hear there is patches of snow on the ground, and the water is unusually/dangerously cold.

Something in the middle would be nice. I appreciate not sweltering yet, this year, BUT freezing my butt off at 9am and 7pm isn't what I would sign up for. Big Grin I suppose I should just keep a jacket in my car until this craziness passes - it is kind of nice. I would have planned our trip for later in the summer, but other than that it is kind of nice (when prepared).

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Anyway, I am going to cook breakfast and we will probably do chores today.

Dh has plans, so I Was thinking of taking the kids to the store and making smoothies (I need to pick up some stuff to make dinner, too). I know, I see the blue skies outside, it's June, and I can't get it into my head that it is COLD. LOL. I keep making hot weather plans!!

Well, I am freezing some bananas, in case it warms up.

Lunch Updates

June 18th, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Lunch In: 13
Lunch Out: 1

Friday
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Breakfast - granola bar, cherries
Lunch - Frozen pizza
snacks - TBD


Thursday
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Breakfast - apple sauce, sourdough walnut bread (yum!)
Lunch - Frozen pizza
snacks - nuts, banana

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So, dh got these frozen pizzas on sale. I tried one yesterday and it was so good, I wanted to eat the other one today. Bad bad bad. While my frozen chicken nuggets are all natural, these pizzas are full of preservatives and "no no"s. Which I really don't care about once in a while, but why I am beating myself up a bit about it today - two days in a row and all. Oh well!

I need to remember to clear out the fridge today - I brought some leftover I never ate (will go bad soon, if not already), and I have cherries in the fridge still, etc.

Work provided the sourdough bread, and some lunch meats and cheese for a meeting - which I am sure I snacked on the last couple of days. Not sure I have ever had sourdough walnut bread before, but it is delish!

LOCAL Frugal Activities - Sacramento/California

June 17th, 2010 at 01:20 pm

Great idea for a post! You never know who is lurking, or who will google and find your blog (even if a lot of other SA bloggers don't live near me).

So, I decided to copy HouseHappy and do a similar type blog post.

I will try to make my list from least expensive to most expensive, mostly thinking of things to do for a family of 4 (which is my own experience).

**Go for a walk or a bike ride. Pack up food and make it a picnic.

-One of the many parks in the area (playgrounds, basketball hoops, tennis courts, open space, trails, wildlife viewing, etc.).
-State Capitol/Old Sacramento/Downtown
-Anywhere along river trail. American River bike trail is 32 miles long - longest bike path in U.S., I believe. Easily accessible. Trail spans from downtown (close to us) to Lake Natoma, to the east...
-Lake Natoma (free parking, swimming, biking, hiking, GORGEOUS).

There is almost always enough wind to fly a kite, too. Lots of kite flying with the kids...

{picture credit: http://kstreetgallery.com/Tuthill_limited_editions.html }









**Davis Farmers Market, "Picnic in the Park"

Wednesday evenings, 7 months out of the year. Free live performances and water feature for kids. Bring a picnic and have a great free night. Or shop the market and order food from vendors (usually local restauarants - GREAT food).



**Free/discounted arts/museums

I wouldn't even know where to begin as far as free/discounted concerts and plays for youth, as well as free/discounted art museum admissions throughout the year, etc.

**Rite Aid ice cream, 99 cent scoops, in the old Thrifty locations. All I Can say is, "YUM!" I do not want to go out for any other type of ice cream - there's is the best, and cheapest, too.

**See a Ballgame

Discounted field seating area, and Value nights with $1 hot dogs and $1 ice cream - minor league baseball

**Local Parks & Rec

Tons of activities and camps, for adults and kids, at very low prices. (i.e. there is a summer camp at the park for $15/week - under $1 per hour for grade school kids. We have taken swimming lessons, karate classes, toddler time, workouts/yoga, etc. My aerobics class is $2.50 per hour.)

**Fairytale Town

$55 per year for family membership

IT's a little zoo and park that the kids LOVE. We go there at least every other weekend when the weather is nice - definitely get our money's worth. (It's like $4 to get in, otherwise, per person).

Last time we went they were shearing sheep and handing out free juice.

**Railroad Museum

$60 annually, for family membership. Play area for kids (Thomas the Train tables), and free historic train rides, plus 2 guests outside family, any time, with membership. Plus, the museum is really cool. It's like a giant warehouse with several retired historic trains to explore.



**Discovery Museum

This is a real little and low priced science museum. The kids always LOVE it. We have seemingly unlimited free tickets for this place too (usually from school).

**Aerospace Museum

This is a new gem that we just found. Haven't even been there yet. They have a really cool Star Trek display, at the moment, kids 5 & under are free, and BM has gotten some free tickets at school, too.

**Roller Skating

Family skate - $10 for up to 6 people

**Bowling

$1 games, Sunday mornings and some weekday afternoons

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

Of course, day/weekend trips would include:

San Francisco (1 hour) - hiking, beaches, good/low cost zoo, lots to look at.
Monterey/Carmel (3 hours) - beaches, hiking
Yosemite (4 hours) - hiking, camping
Tahoe (2 hours) - hiking, rent a cabin with others, rent a boat with others, winter snowball fights/sledding/tubing
Reno (2 hours) - gambling for adults, cheap food and hotels
Northern Coast (I haven't traveled up north much, but hear it is gorgeous)
Disneyland/LA (6 hours)
Vegas (10 hours)

Which reminds me, Washington/Oregon is not a far drive, either. Very scenic.

I know that Disney doesn't jump out as terribly frugal. But, being able to drive there in 6 hours, cuts travel costs considerably. We can do Disney with a very minimal budget. (Vegas is similar. Can drive - airfare and room can usually be found dirt cheap).

On the cheap end of the spectrum is camping, camping, camping. There is a campground about 1/2 hour from us that is very low cost and great for some real star gazing away from the city lights. There are great/affordable public campgrounds all over the state.

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

For us, personally, the family owns a cabin half way between us and Tahoe. We also have a community pool with our HOA. SO, we can squeeze a lot of "free" activity out of these perks. We are planning a weekend at the cabin in July, with the cost being very minimal.

Definitely Buying Skates!

June 17th, 2010 at 09:00 am

The sad truth is I just donated some roller blades that I bought about 15 years ago.

I could never get into them. I could NEVER figure out how to slow down or stop.

Of course, I tossed them a few months ago, and now we are becoming skating regulars. I held onto them 15 years, just to toss them when I could probably use the rink to practice up - maybe even take some lessons.

But, maybe it is for the best. I look forward to buying some good old fashioned quads.

Anyway...

We went to family skate night last night. BM and I would be $12 (including rentals). $16 since LM joined us for a bit. ($8/$10 if we had our own skates).

We had a BLAST! The empty Sunday session had been nice to get our bearings, but was not near as fun as a good old fashioned family skate session.

All of our skating had improved dramatically since last time. LM was a little easier to cart around the rink (though I tripped on him once - not pretty). BM was a whiz, and I started to feel 10 times more comfortable on the skates, myself. It's coming back to me.

(As far as BM, he was walking/running at 9 months, and seems to master any new balancing act at lightning speed - skating no exception. IT probably helps that he is not cautious in the least - LM being the polar opposite).

You would not believe how packed the rink was. I would say it was "just right." IT wasn't too crowded to enjoy, but I Was impressed how well the rink was doing on a weeknight. Wow.

I can buy a pair of skates for around $50 (1 month allowance for me), so I will just buy some next month. Probably online.

BM's birthday is coming up so will suggest my parents may want to get him skates. If not, we can buy some. Seemed fitting thought since my dad is the rink rat. I don't think he has skated much since we've grown, but we used to go skating all the time. He is so excited to skate with the kids now.

I often think that I am quite cautious and boring, but then there is dh, who refuses to do anything like skiing or skating. Oh well, for now I Can look on the bright side that it makes the activity much cheaper. BUT, for the long run, we have got to get him onto some skates. Wink

Lunch & Such

June 16th, 2010 at 11:46 am

Lunch Tally...

Lunch In: 11
Lunch Out: 1

Wednesday
---------
Breakfast - cookie, soda
Lunch - salad, BBQ
snacks - TBD

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

Boss brought in cookies. They will last a few more days...

Going to the school for a BBQ at noon. Kids will be released for summer, after the feast.

Told the kids we could go skating tonight, to celebrate.

Unfortunately, I don't have any vacation time to spare, so am stuck at work after BBQ, until 5:00. Oh well! (I could make up time later, but we are leaving for vacation and all that jazz. So, will suffer through).

Last year I had the day off and we went to the water park. This year, too much time off for sick people, precludes that.

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

It's nice for things to let up on my family (maybe?), but the news is still pretty depressing, of late.

There was a Month 9 *miscarriage* in the extended family. *sigh* I seem to know too many people who have gone through this. (I suppose the appropriate term is stillborn - for any baby lost after 20 weeks).

The boy missing in Oregon is a "friend of a friend." I can't open Facebook without being reminded a family is missing their 7-year-old child.

Maybe it's just all too much, but yesterday I read in a community blog that a young father had just passed after a 5 month battle with cancer. I looked at the picture of his young face and little kids, (though I didn't know them from Adam), and just broke down. It just struck me as so tragic, and yet maybe a little too close to home. (As it was exactly 5 months ago we found out 100% dh did not have cancer. So, we were celebrating while another family was broken terrible news the other way).

Of course, the blogs have been filled with their own tragedies, lately.

I always hug & love my husband and kids, but extra hugs & love lately.

Lunch Update...

June 15th, 2010 at 08:55 am

Current Tally:

Lunch In: 10
Lunch Out: 1

Tuesday
---------
Breakfast - apple sauce, mixed nuts, water
Lunch - tuna + cheese (@ home, per LM's request. Dh doesn't do tuna!), soda, farm picked cherries
snacks - cookie provided by work

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

Yesterday:

Lunch In: 9
Lunch Out: 1

Monday
---------
Breakfast - apple sauce, water
Lunch - salad, soda
snacks - peanut m&ms

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

Yesterday I brought in a ton of food (some freezer stuff, some dressing, etc., etc.). I actually wasn't very hungry and didn't eat much at all yesterday.

Dh picked me up 2 cases of 8-oz. sodas, so I brought that in today. I think I am good for June!

I need to work on the eating out. I thought dh and I would have a date "in" today, but forgot he is working a shift at Scholastic.

I do need to get together with a client for lunch. I always eat in - I need to work on some eating out (social).

I am also meeting a friend tomorrow after work, so I think it's less likely I will meet my goal of eating out 4 times this month.

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

The last few days have been spendy. I ordered some new sunglasses, signed BM up for "summer camp," and reserved a hotel room in Denver (pre-paid).

We have 2 huge coupons so asked dh to get the oil changed in both vehicles (we go once every 6 months - mine is due and his is due in a month - but worth it one month early for the discount).

I need a haircut - has been 5 or 6 months. My massive amounts of hair are driving me nuts with this heat - chop chop chop.

The funny thing is I wanted to get my hair chopped before our camping trip (not sure when I will have time???) BUT just heard there is still snow on the ground. Maybe I will be glad to have the hair. The unusually cold winter/spring means a cool camping trip, I am sure.

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

Dh "worked" all day Saturday and used his Scholastic voucher to bring home a giant box of books yesterday. Probably no need to buy any kid gifts for the rest of the year. (More than books - some toys, games, etc.)

Maybe just Temporary

June 14th, 2010 at 06:14 pm

So, our new super grocery whatever Target just opened.

Dh went to check it out. He said he noticed that the very few things he buys at Safeway were a better deal there. So, he is very happy! (Probably shops primarily at Bel Air, secondarily at Target (generic cereal, cat food, laundry detergent, etc.) and Safeway when he has to. Hehe). So, narrowing it back down to 2 stores, is good. Though I think it is good to go in all the stores once in a blue moon. Safeway used to have much better pricing on bulk things - just all phased out since the recession has hit. As such, it's easy to see that things change rapidly, and your best bet is to keep your options open.

(I still find it funny how many people assume Bel Air is some expensive store when it's like the cheapest store around, as far as we can tell. But yes, it is super nice too, as the name hints. Win-win).

This is probably temporary, but they don't have scales? I asked him to pick up some bananas, if the price wasn't bad. (He bought some last night and didn't know we had already devoured them - LOL. Gone in 12 hours?). Anyway, he said he grabbed a bunch of the biggest bananas he could find, because they were "19 cents per banana." We were talking about how odd that was, until I said, "They must not have scales at the checkout lines." I then googled it to see if that was standard. Not at all... So, lord knows when we will get scales. As long as they have big produce, could be deals to be found. The bananas were not a bad deal at all! Big Grin I suppose if things are picked over, and only small fruits and veggies left - not so good. This whole thing makes me curious about the rest of the pricing. Maybe they just found it easier to price the bananas that way - I am not sure. (I since found that banana price is common in Targets in California. Saw 19 cents per banana at some other ones. Maybe they have scales, after all).

Food & Friends

June 11th, 2010 at 06:38 pm

**Dh wasn't planning to make dinner (we've got oodles of leftovers), and I remembered I still have some red-potatoes left. I made this recipe a week or so ago - was simple, but delish!

Roasted Potatoes with Thyme & Garlic

http://southernfood.about.com/od/bakedroastedpotatoes/r/r903...

They even re-heated decently. So, decided to whip up for tonight. Heck, I could go for these for a main course.

**Dh bought his "Father's Day" monitor. It's like, HUGE! He is happy though. (Me too - it is nice to get rid of old monstrosity. The screen is huge, but it takes up WAY LESS space than our ancient monitor.) One down, two to go?. I am hoping for some energy savings...

**Not always, but sometimes the kids are really great at making like minded friends with like minded parents. I mentioned that dh really hit it off with LM's little girlfriend's dad. SO, today LM (& all of us) were invited to go pick cherries on their family farm. This meant a bit of a drive, and some good old fashioned fun. BM and I were stuck with work and school. But, the other boys had a blast. Dh got to meet the missus, and said we would all be getting together soon.

Actually, the only other person I can think of, we were friends first, and our kids are like bosom buddies. I suppose it goes both ways. But, friendships like this seem to happen about once every 5+ years, with our anti-social tendencies. So, this could be interesting.

We got some fresh picked cherries and radishes out of the deal. BM brought home garlic from the school garden, today. It was a bountiful day.

**That said, we have quite the social calendar this weekend. I am going to a friends' sales party (I know I know - I probably shouldn't go, and am considering it more a playdate. I literally don't expect to buy anything - and don't expect that will be hard. To not waste my money on crap. Big Grin ).

Actually, the main reason I said yes, was since I can only stay an hour anyway. I can cut out before it gets obnoxious.

**Feeling guilty that our neighbor has yet to ask us to babysit in return (the whole babysitting swap thing was her idea), I invited them over for dinner. They haven't decided yet. I haven't thought ahead to what we will cook if they say yes.

**Tomorrow is the annual community BBQ - I suppose it is put on by the HOA. We will get an afternoon of free food and waterslides/bouncy houses for the kids.

& that makes for an unusually social 3 days or so.

Ah, but CHEAP. But for a grocery run, don't foresee particularly spending anything.

**It doesn't stop there. I've got a work dinner next week, dh has a reunion, and then we are doing the family camp thing in Tahoe (which is a very social thing).

I am going to be exhausted once June is over! But, I can't say it is boring!

**Seems like everyone is done with school this week. Facebook was filled with preschool/kinder/1st grade graduation pictures... BM has another week and LM "graduates" preschool on the last day of June.

It just hit me that I will have a Kindergartener in exactly 2 months. Oy vey! Will be here before we know it. What's more crazy? Having a second grader, or a Kindergartener? *sigh* The end of an era... A hard one, but a GOOD one!

**The kids' party RSVPs are rolling in. So far it seems their best friends are planning to come, while the bajillion other people in their classes haven't responded. I can only hope it stays that way; that I don't have to double the size of the party, but that all their favorite friends show up. Will see!

Lunch Update

June 11th, 2010 at 11:48 am

Current Tally:

Lunch In: 8
Lunch Out: 1

Friday
---------
Breakfast - apple sauce, water
Lunch - salad, chicken nuggets, soda
snacks - TBD

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

Today I brought in a salad for lunch. Grabbed some chicken nuggets (from freezer) for some protein.

Dh bought some frozen pizzas on sale, so I brought them in today, to store in the freezer.

I will have to run to the store to stock up on soda. I think I have one more can left. I have settled on the 8-oz cans. Regular cans are just way too much, and I can't control myself with the 2 liters. So it's my little treat. This weekend, I will to stock up for the rest of the month.

Anyway, back to the salad. I made up a big lettuce, red cabbage, carrot salad. This one didn't keep so well in the fridge - not the lettuce anyway. Last night, I shredded more cabbage and carrots, and stored that in a bowl in the fridge. I tore off some lettuce from the remaining head of lettuce, for dinner last night, and lunch today. That seems to be working well. I also keep chopped green onions separate, to sprinkle on top.

SO, today I went for lettuce, cabbage, carrots, green onions, and some spinach dh had leftover from cooking.

I actually didn't bring any dressing - thought I may find some in the fridge (like fast food salad dressing). I found some but wasn't sure how old it was so, took a bit of someone's "Creamy Cesear" dressing. Okay, now I am hooked! I will buy my own to keep in the fridge. I justified it because I have BBQ sauce and all sorts of stuff I don't care if people use sparingly (will take forever for me to get through, alone). So, it was a good way to find a new flavor. Yummy! I will find out whose dressing it is and make sure they know they can have my BBQ sauce, or salad dressing, any time. Wink

I sometimes bring things in little plastic tupperware type containers (dressing or sauce). But, lately, more and more, I just bring in a big bottle and keep it at work - it's easier that way. Less to pack and deal with. Though I don't want to be too much of a fridge hog, either... So, BBQ sauce and salad dressing, + a couple of cold sodas, is probably good.

Updates of All Kinds

June 10th, 2010 at 07:01 am

Current Tally:

Lunch In: 7
Lunch Out: 1

Thursday
---------
Breakfast - apple sauce, cake (brought in by someone else!)
Lunch - Chinese/Japanese/sushi Buffet (lunch date!)
snacks - bread, banana

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

**Yesterday was really nice. The public TV station had their annual volunteer appreciation dinner, which is always really nice. However, it usually gets pretty long-winded on the awards and stuff. Last night they set up a photo booth with silly props (we took some hilarious photos), some blackjack tables, and Beatles rockband. We kind of walked in and said, "This is interesting." But, we arrived a little late, had time to eat, mingle, and play. & they did a good job doing the rewards in a little more compact time frame. Made for a more fun evening than usual. (Though no complaints - they ALWAYS do a good job).

I, won a t-shirt!!! I probably hadn't bought a t-shirt in 15 years, and had been trying to replace some older ones. So, I put all my raffle tickets in the t-shirt pile, which no one else really wanted. Score!

All that sad, dh's hearing has become more trying, with time. I think initially he has seen it as no biggie. But last night I had to keep directing him to people who were trying to address him. I said, "If I weren't with you, people would think you were RELALY rude!" He's got a learning curve ahead of him. He really just hasn't done many social situations like that. I know he will adjust...

While it was nice he sat with his good ear to me, this meant he couldn't hear anyone else who was talking to him. Next time I should probably take the "bad ear" side.

With the neighbor insisting to take the kids, it was a nice FREE night! Big Grin

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

**In other news, we got our Denver airline tickets. I've never not had time off approved, BUT felt it was prudent to check with the boss before I bought tickets. Anyway, got approval when I asked, but when I went online to book the tickets, prices had gone up a bit. $16 per ticket (which adds up fast with 4 of us!!). I considered the 11pm arrival (original price), but decided to just go with the higher tickets. I think it is MUCH preferable to get home at 8pm on a Sunday night. We can probably bum a ride home at that hour, anyway. & allows some leeway for delays and such. 11pm was just pushing it too much. (I am also used to avoiding late flights like that because the main airport we usually fly out of has a curfew. Nothing like a delay that means you can't fly home until the next day!). I did have to tell myself - "At least there isn't a curfew!" But, it was still hard to justify. If I am spending a bajillion dollars, what's another $64??? Big Grin

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

**I did something crazy. I actually bought glasses online. (After wondering if everyone is out of their minds). Actually, my goal was to buy a nice pair, in -person, and to order some online, and compare.

That said, I hadn't gotten around to buying proper glasses, while I had gotten around to ordering some online glasses.

My experience was hit and miss, but I think I am an online glasses convert...

Before I made the purchase, I scrutinized the reviews and looked up any advice I could. I was still skeptical, but gave it a whirl.

The awesome tips I read were how to measure my PD (dh helped me) and how to measure your existing pair of glasses as a starting point (never would have thought of that!!). That was excellent advice.

I have been resistant, because I have had my current pair of glasses for 6 years, and was last told I didn't need a new prescription after 4 years. (i did get one though). I also got a really nice high quality pair of glasses. To wear every day for 6 years, what am I going to complain about. I'd rather pay for some real quality.

BUT, I left my optometry appointment with the impression that I was heading into "new every 2" year glasses route. This made me a lot more open to try these online glasses.

Anyway, I dutifully measured my glasses and looked for something as similar as possible.



Sure, you could find really cheap glasses for $8, but I Wasn't overly impressed with those. These looked closest to what I already owned. "We shall see!"

They were $19 plus $5 or so for anti-reflective coating (which I read mixed things about the quality).

I then ordered another frame (maybe $10?) and paid about $10 for anti-reflective coating and a dark sunglass lenses.

Shipping was $4.95, so my total was about $50.

Fast forward a few weeks, and my glasses finally arrived. My prescription had changed so much, that it was rather obvious when I put on my new glasses that they were eons above my old pair. I could still due the "buy in person and compare quality" test, but overall, for my purposes, I think I am good. I suppose it was good I was lazy!

The quality of the pair of glasses were GREAT. They actually were extremely similar to my old pair, which had cost something like $250 (or was the retail, anyway).

They fit great, and no complaints...

I only have 2 minor complaints. The little diamond on the side looks REALLY cheap. Much nicer in the picture. But, not a biggie unless you look up close.

I can see what people mean about the anti-reflective coating. It's not terrible, by any means, but it is noticeable. If I look in the mirror, the glasses can look a little green. I notice green/rainbow out of the corners of my eyes at time. Nothing I can't live with to save $100-$200. Not as bad as many of the reviews alluded to.

Now, onto the sunglasses. I did buy a plastic pair, since I don't wear sunglasses very often. Didn't mind going cheaper.

Bad bad bad purchase! I tried to go for similar measurements, but was a very different frame shape. For one, it looks terrible on me. Secondly, they look cheaper/more slapped together than my kids' toy sunglasses.

I am not overly impressed in that area. I do have a pair of sunglasses lying around somewhere that I really like. SO, I may try again and go with the measurements/shape from that pair. My other alternative is just to go kind of boring and get a second pair of the same glasses, with sun shades. That would be the cheapest solution. I know I would like them at least. But it does defeat some of the purpose of online glasses - how you can buy a few cute pair of sunglasses real cheap. Eh.

I will probably just go that route, because I wasn't impressed with the plastic shades, that is for sure. It's like you could see all the glue around the lens. The metal ones just looked much higher quality (& I hope this means that they are!!)

Anyway, I have been wearing my new glasses a few days. I wanted to give them some time before I shared the results!

I suppose, if I am happy to wear the same style of glasses forever (which I probably am), then I found a very affordable eyeglass solution. I suppose I could go try on frames in the store, and carry measuring tape, as another alternative. Big Grin For now, I just welcome the chance to save money.

Lunch Update

June 9th, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Current Tally:

Lunch In: 7
Lunch Out: 0

Wednesday
---------
Breakfast - apple sauce
Lunch - Salad, pizza (leftovers)
snacks - TBD

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

Yes - leftover pizza counts. It was take and bake ($5.99???). It's our "go to meal" when we have guests over.

I am not particularly craving a meal out or anything, but dh and I decided we better get out tomorrow. His free days are dwindling, with school out next week. So, tomorrow we are going out for sushi/buffet.

If we think about it, we should take advantage next Tuesday, too. BM's last day of school is on Wednesday!

We could totally meet at home or pack a lunch and meet somewhere, but eating out is as rare as getting a date. I look forward to eating out, and just paying for two of us.

(That said, we have a dinner date this week and one next week. Very unusual!) Maybe we will just eat in next Tueday. Probably don't need all that restuarant food. But, I still look forward to tomorrow... Tomorrow is just the 2 of us!!

Summer Activities

June 8th, 2010 at 11:39 am

Current Tally:

Lunch In: 6
Lunch Out: 0

Tuesday
---------
Breakfast - apple sauce, granola bar
Lunch - Tuna with cheese
snacks - banana, dried cranberries, cheerios

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

We were spoiled the last 2 years by a reasonable private swim instructor at our pool. Cheap, GREAT, and so convenient!!!

BM is completely fine. HE could maybe learn/improve with group swim classes. HE doesn't really need anything at this point.

Poor LM. Though he can be very timid, he is VERY gung ho with the pool. No fear, but any swim skill he had was forgotten. (Last year, he went from fearful to little fish, in just 4 days).

I was going to probably just sign up the kids for group city lessons. But was thinking about it today. I kept telling everyone the private lessons were really more effective, so cheaper in the end any way. If you only have to take one week of classes every summer, to become a sufficient swimmer...

SO, I decided to look what is around.

Interestingly, a client of ours, offers year round indoor pool lessons.

It's $150 for 5 lessons (I think it was $100 for 4 lessons, with our other instructor).

It's a bit out of the way, but being indoors is a big plus. I remember melting outside, last time BM took group lessons in July.

So, now I just have to sell dh.

I think LM needs enough learning that it will be worth a week of private lessons.

OF course, while there, it's probably worth it just to sign BM up, too. Might be his last year of instruction. I am sure LM will learn faster this year, and maybe could be his last year too - if he practices all summer.

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

There is also a dirt cheap summer camp at the park down the street, that BM really wants to go to. We were wary last year, with the heat in summer. (I suppose it is cheap because it is outdoors??). BUT, heard great things about it.

They might not have enough people this year, so decided to go ahead and sign up. Will aim for 2 weeks at $30. It equates to less than $1 per hour. Kind of hard to beat. I suppose it's not a huge loss if it gets 100+ degrees and we decide to keep him home some days, too. Dh and I are still not sold that outside is the best place to be in the summer. But we aren't from here, either. The kids are used to it I suppose.

Broke (TV) Housewives

June 8th, 2010 at 09:12 am

4 Out Of 5 Real Housewives Of Atlanta Are Actually Broke

http://jezebel.com/5110249/4-out-of-5-real-housewives-of-atl...

Will The “Real Housewives Of Orange County” Suffer Now That Everyone’s Broke?

http://www.thefrisky.com/post/246-will-the-real-housewives-o...

Of course, this one is the doozy:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/37572292/ns/today-entertainmen...

"According to court documents filed on October 29, 2009, the two are $8,709,831.34 in debt and claim a yearly income of only $79,000. They also receive $120,000 a year in “assistance” from family."

If you've seen the show, they are the most extravagant of the extravagant. Holy Crap!!!

(Half of that $79k income is from the show!!!)

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

I share, because we all have seen how unreal TV can be. In sitcoms, blue collar families are often shown to live in upper class homes or seem to afford upper middle lifestyles. There are a slew of articles on that subject.

But then you enter the "real" rich people of the world. & in the end it's just fake fake fake.

I had a strong feeling all along.

I can't find it anywhere, but the first episode of "Real Housewives of OC" started with a statistic that the median household income in this community was something like $500k. I don't remember what the figure was, but it sure as hell wasn't $1 mil +. It might have been $200k or $300k.

Meanwhile, the whole show is about people who clearly are living $1 million + annual lifestyles.

I know the masses are generally clueless. $200k sounds like the riches of the rich - you could afford anything, right? Well, I live in the cheapest area of the state of California, and have many clients who make in the $200k-$500k range. None of them could afford these lavish lifestyles. Buy a house, pay your incomes taxes, and you can do well (don't get me wrong), but you ain't dropping thousands of dollars here and there like it's nothing, either. IF you live in SF or LA, pfffft. Housing costs are insane - income taxes are high.

I was so caught up in the middle class income figures they tried to pass off as "wealthy elite," that I hadn't even thought too long and hard about how much debt these people must be in.

WOW!!!

Poor naive dh told me that this was a good opportunity for these women to get real, on TV.

Pffffft.

I told him that they would just find more rich/successful men. Wink That is definitely the pattern for most of them.

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

On the flip side, maybe it is all very real. A relative of mine married into some money. The family does have real money, but the part she married into was on the verge of bankruptcy and foreclosure. They'd fit in real well on these TV shows.

Lunch Update

June 7th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Current Tally:

Lunch In: 5
Lunch Out: 0

Monday
---------
Breakfast - cheese, water (lost track of time)
Lunch - salad, chicken nuggets, soda
snacks - cake, on the boss!

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

Today I packed a salad, some cheese, and a big cup for water. + Banana and a granola bar (in case I had run out). Still lots of food stored around the office.

I mostly skipped breakfast, which wasn't planned. I realized when the hunger hit around noon. Not good!

I made a big salad yesterday - chopped lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, shredded carrots, and chopped green onions. I had cut up some radishes, but BM ate them all yesterday! As long as there is space in the fridge, the home made salad is working our splendidly. (Dh is into those prepackaged salads, but they are too drenched in dressing for my taste). Obviously, chopping up our own veggies is much cheaper, and it has been keeping well in the fridge. I just toss it in a large bowl and keep a wet paper towel on top to keep it moist. Top with some plastic wrap, and the last cabbage salad kept a good week. We eat through it fast, anyway.

What I forgot is some pepperoncinis. A local buffet place keeps slicing them up and keeping them in the salad bar. O.M.G. I love them, but had never seem them sliced up like that. I keep forgetting them for the salad - adds so much flavor.

I have been more into the salad thing with the bigger food processor. All the shredding makes for tasty/easy salads.

Maybe next week we can do spinach and sunflower seeds. It's easy to mix it up.

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Yesterday I worked out pretty hard. I figure today may be a decent night for a walk to the park, after work. (Though it may be on the hot side).

We had been wanting to get a basketball, and I spotted them on sale at Walgreens yesterday. So, I got one and if we luck out with an empty basketball court, we can try it out tonight.

Ooooh, I also spotted pistachios on sale. I ran in for some "needs," and came out with pistachios and a basketball.

The basketball felt "meant to be." I wouldn't have even thought to look there - we had just been talking about getting one the night before.

Good Weekend

June 6th, 2010 at 07:03 pm

Ah, what a weekend. Strangely I feel refreshed... Busy, but not too busy, somehow.

**Kids were bouncing off the walls so sent them outside the last couple of mornings. We don't do that enough. Was a HOT weekend, but was so nice and cool in the mornings.

**Annual International Festival for BM's school. It's like the most culturally diverse school district in the country (maybe 2nd). Needless, to say, they put on one hell of an International Festival every year. We took $40, and only spent $20. We ate quite a feast, the 4 of us. A great deal for some good home made cooking, of all wonderful kinds.

The only long lines were for the sno cones. Lord, was it HOT!!! We were buying drinks every few minutes it seemed. We saw that line, and had to buy more tickets for the sno cones. Decided to leave and get frozen yogurt. I can just donate more to the school later - wasn't worth the line! Or the heat stroke...

**Kids had a playdate today. Actually, LM has a girlfriend. It looked very serious though he is keeping his options open. LOL. They were just cracking me up. (He's 4 - and a bit of a player).

Their old preschool was all working parents in a neighborhood by my work. I felt bad that it was difficult to cultivate any relationships. That said, 1.5 years at a local preschool hasn't really developed much. Until this sudden love affair the last month of school. Kind of funny, BUT dh and her dad really hit it off. SO, I feel less guilty that he can maybe maintain this relationship. (Not too guilty since he will obviously start the world of neighborhood school, next week).

It was interesting because one of the first things he told us was that "his wife makes the money." He is out of work and dh and him really hit it off and that is awesome. It seems to be the area. Our 2 closest neighbors are the same way - though only talked more openly about it recently (didn't necessarily realize the wives were the main breadwinners). It's not even that we gravitate towards these people, but our kids gravitate towards their kids. Though, I suppose we can relate with them.

Of course, the guy was very nice and open and one of the first things he told us was they were considering walking away from their house. It was kind of an ackward thing, until he starts asking us what WE are going to do.

"Um, we're fine?" Dh and I talked about it when he left. I said we may be the first young parents he's met in the area, who aren't in that situation. The WAY underwater situation.

I suppose that explains why he felt very open about it - walked in and thought we were in the WAY underwater club too.

I've known the thoughts were there, but just the first person to blurt it out like that - LOL.

**All that excitement this weekend, and I finally made it a point to take the kids roller skating. Something I had been meaning to. That was about $20. If we stick with it, we can manage costs with family night, buying skates, season passes and stuff. Today was kind of exploratory to check the place out.

BM is a natural. He has no fear and was flying around the rink by the end of the session. LM didn't do half bad. We may be able to work in family night a couple of days a month. Might do lessons this summer - very reasonable.

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Often, weekends like this leave me exhausted. Ironically, I just feel refreshed.

The heat is killing me (came on suddenly), but we will adjust! It's just average weather - we've been spoiled by the unusual cool.

Yup, we flipped on the air. Just before bed Friday. Saturday when we got home at 6, because I felt like I was going to melt after being in the heat a couple of hours. Today we ran the air most of the day since we had guests. Welcome, summer!

$250 Rewards Check

June 5th, 2010 at 09:53 am

**I just redeemed another $250 Chase Freedom cash reward. It's the third one I have redeemed since they started phasing it out. So basically, the third one I didn't really expect! Big Grin

**I just got news that our flood insurance premiums will not increase for 2011 & 2012, after all. I should look into the details. Since we renew in December. Could this mean that I could lapse coverage a couple of weeks, and skip the whole increased premium, altogether?

Probably not worth it, or doable. BUT, definitely worth looking into.

So, it will be up this year, but that's it. Until someone changes their mind anyway. It's all politics. This was pretty unexpected news, though. Phew!!

**My neighbor offered to swap babysitting and we took her up on it.

Unexpected "free" babysitter for our dinner this week - just worked that out with her. Even better, I offered to watch their kids anytime this weekend, but they are busy. Not sure when we will have to return the favor.

"Free" is in quotes. Dh and I mostly decided we rather never go out, or rather pay our hard earned money for a babysitter, then have to watch other people's kids. Dh is good with kids, but that's his full-time job anyway. I am fine with my own kids, but other kids scare me. That sums it up pretty well. LOL.

BUT, aged 5 or 6 is the age where we send them over to their friends' houses, and vice versa. The supervision/stress level goes way down at that age. I admit that is very different, because you just send the neighbor kids home if they start to drive you crazy.

BUT, the idea didn't make me cringe. So, will give it a whirl.

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**It's good I ran out of money to buy invitations at the end of May. I picked up the "15 provided invitations" for the kids' party earlier in the week.

They were great, with a map to the place, and a liability release to sign. (One of the things I liked was not having to walk into a party and sign a release. Whoops! Guess I was supposed to sign one?). That said, it will be nice to read and sign ahead of time.

SO, the 15 invitations were perfect for LM's preschool and their few combined friends. I filled one out for BM and made 25 photocopies for his classmates (& for a few friends not in his class).

Invitations, check. My work is done.

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Almost forgot, I am suppose to be making cupcakes for a school festival today. Better get baking!

Random Updates

June 4th, 2010 at 01:50 pm

**Geez, this week flew by!!

**Good news. Our flood insurance will only be full rate (or bigger rate? maybe not even full?) for one year. We will save $1k-ish in both 2011 and 2012. Don't ask - it's all political. I think they flip coins to determind the flood map. Actually, I think the builders paid off whoever to make it a 200-year-flood zone. (Yeah, right!!!!). Powerful/wealthy residents hit back with the 10-year-flood zone thing so repairs would be a priority. Truth is probably somewhere in the middle. This is the overly simplistic version, anyway.

All I know is that for the short term, it is good for the pocketbook!

A lot of preschool money (50% of it) was being diverted to flood insurance. So, now I am very happy!!! We can divert it to other savings. Since LM will be out of preschool for 6 months this year, it all goes to the flood insurance. But next year will be nice to have some extra cash flow.

**Our impromptu Colorado trip is taking shape. Found some decent flights/deals. Think we may go for 3 days in August, to see my Grandma.

There goes $1k!

I actually googled Motel 6 real quick in the area, and saw $39.99/night. Grandma can provide food. But for the airfare, it will be a modest trip.

**As the year progresses, I feel that our Hawaii trip is becoming much more modest. That said, I don't think it really matters either way. My fondest memories of Hawaii are of hiking, boogie boarding, and snorkeling. We will do all that low cost stuff - exploring the island by car and foot and sea, etc., etc. I think we can have a really nice trip, even if all we can really afford is a basic car rental and some food.

Part of you thinks, "Free trip! splurge splurge splurge." The other side thinks, "It's hardly free if you would have never gone otherwise, and the thought of a car rental and food for a week stresses you out!"

So I am fondly thinking of past Hawaii trips, and how I still vacation like an 18-year-old. & how, if it ain't broke, why fix it? Vacationing like a broke college student has always proved to be fun. & I know dh and I - we deplore wasting our money on fleeting things. Good memories don't have to cost a lot of money. I think we will find plenty to do in "paradise" for a week. & odds are, we will feel more content when we return, that way. I know us too well.

As the purse strings tighten, probably for the best.

Friday Lunch Update

June 4th, 2010 at 09:44 am

Current Tally:

Lunch In: 4
Lunch Out: 0

Friday
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Breakfast - string cheese, roasted potatoes (leftovers), apple sauce, water
Lunch - burrito (leftovers), soda
snacks - dried cranberries, water

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Today was not a "run out the door" kind of day!

Made BM lunch, and took some time to assemble a burrito for my own lunch.

I spotted some potatoes still in the fridge and thought that would be a good breakfast (before they went bad). Gave the kids watermelon from Monday, for breakfast. Figured we better eat that too! Where did the week go???

It's funny because dh said we were running out of food, like last weekend. I talked him into getting stuff for burritos and spaghetti. Cheap with lots of leftovers. Our month "closed" yesterday and I asked if he was going to the store today. He wasn't planning on it, and we haven't even made the spaghetti yet. Glad I talked him into a small grocery run to get through the last week!

Lunch Update

June 3rd, 2010 at 09:07 am

Current Tally:

Lunch In: 3
Lunch Out: 0

Thursday
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Breakfast - dried cranberries, granola bar, water
Lunch - burrito, rice, water
snacks - banana, water

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Today I grabbed a banana, a large cup, and a bag of dried cranberries, on my way out the door.

Was pondering what to eat as the pantry is getting low. Then I noticed the big bag of dried cranberries that I think a relative gave us in January. I checked the "sell by" date and since it said July '10 - figured we better get eating them.

I also brought a banana to eat around 5:00 - before I hit the gym.

For lunch, I figured dh and I should do a lunch date. BUT, no money for lunch. Today is the close of our fiscal month. So, we decided to meet at home for lunch. Not sure what I will eat - probably leftover burritos. Or a sandwhich.

Anyway, works out. I could be extra lazy and pack my gym clothes at lunch then.

I was wide awake at 5:45am, but only spent about 30 seconds grabbing food for work. On another day, I may have packed a really nice lunch with all that time!


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