Stormy stormy stormy.
So, I walked out of work at 4pm, and all I Saw was blue skies?
I was GIDDY. Grabbed the kids and took them on a bike ride to the park. Knew it would be WET, but we played frisbee. & got quite muddy, yes. Funny thing, is we are often the only ones out for a walk, or at the park, etc. But the place was actually pretty crowded. I was shocked anyone else was out. Blue skies and sun - but a wet mess all the same.
LM did awesome on his bike - rode all the way by himself - navigating the curb to street a little better...
Then it hit me it was almost Daylight Savings. I LOVE Daylight Savings. I think it is the only way I can REALLY function as a working mom. I can come home and get hours of play time in the fresh air. In the summers we go swimming after dinner, etc. (Because it's too hot before dinner).
& then I remembered that Daylight Savings comes super early these days. The day? March 14! Woohoo!
Dh and the kids even cleaned up the house a bit while I worked all day. They must WANT something. Kissing up for the TV, I suppose. That also lightened my mood, quite a bit.
Dh HATES Daylight Savings. I understand the principle behind it is kind of stupid. Especially the early Daylight Savings. BUT, wish he would just be happy for me. & if I come home and take the kids to the park every night - he should be happy for himself, too.
I suppose we don't get many storms here. OR maybe it's the El Nino. But the skies have just been AMAZING. Maybe you will think, "Hasn't this girl ever seen a storm?"
Pictures from when we snuck a bike ride between storms, last weekend:
& though I don't make it a habit to snap pictures while driving, the sky was just amazing the other night on my drive home.
After snapping the last one, I walked into walgreens for a few minutes, and the blue skies were gone when I walked out. Blink, and you miss it, it seems.
Of course, according to Facebook, there were also quite a few "Double Rainbow" sightings. I missed those!
Anyway, I suppose I should hope for some blue skies along with that Daylight Savings...
Archive for February, 2010
Stormy stormy stormy.
Keeping an eye on the credit card bill...
It's not a tight budget month, not at all. Quite the contrary. So, trying to squeeze out the $400+ cost of LM's new mattress, out of the budget, without touching savings. Which would go a long way towards "crazy TV purchase of 2010." Dh is now set on a $1500 model. Oy vey. (I did convince him to "wait a few weeks." Which means, I might not need to touch savings for that either - if I can earn any decent overtime).
I find it hard to balance the "prepare for the worst" with the "chill out and enjoy" when it comes to this TV. I think because it's the only thing dh splurges "recklessly" on. Maybe because it is something I would never buy. I was looking at our savings and thinking maybe it wasn't a biggie. But then again, we haven't had a great time lately as far as Murphy - and there is certainly a lot more that can go wrong. But in the end, maybe I should just chill out.
On the flip side, my large purchases are always pushed back into eternity, while he gets constant instant gratification. While I am the one working my butt off for a paycheck. Yes, I told him how I felt about that. I told him my fears for the future and my stress at always putting my needs aside, for his. It is certainly a communication thing. I don't feel my needs are as pressing, and so they just stay in the back of my mind, while he is very vocal about these things. So I spilled my guts and it is what it is.
He told me he envisioned working again in 2 years. I don't really want to push him to work anytime soon. Kinder will be a large transition for us all. I don't think LM will take to it all quite as easy as BM. (Though by 1st grade, I am sure he will be okay with after school care, on occasion, if need be - I think all day Kinder will be enough of an adjustment for this year). BUT, I certainly feel more economic pressure this year than I have in a long while, and appreciate dh being on board. We discussed that he would probably focus on volunteer opportunities once LM starts school in August. He has looked for jobs this last decade - and had applied for MANY. Before the economy had gone bad. Though our cost of living is cheap, and my wage is good, employment has been hard (impossible?) for him to find since moving here (whether it be in his field or a minimum wage job - either has been very elusive - I can't imagine how hard it would be now to find anything). BUT, he wants to put more face time at the public TV station (more weekday time with employees, anyway) and we both had thought that volunteering more at Scholastic (more time to) could possibly lead to a warehouse job there. I don't want him to focus too much on menial jobs, BUT he feels he needs SOMETHING on his resume, and references, etc. Volunteering will certainly yield references, at the least. He had talked to the TV station about jobs many years ago - they just didn't have anything part-time. Now, he probably has to wait out the economy a bit.
The other thing about the TV station is he has met so many people in the film industry, anyway. Another good angle - could get a lead at another job. But the thing about the TV station is it would be his "dream job" in a sense. Maybe not 100% - but it is for a good cause, deals with his favorite subject (TV) and the commute would be stellar (about a mile each way!). He worries about the income, but as long as we don't divorce (no plans to) the income would be just fine as a second income. We got ample life/disability insurance to cover my wage if something happened to me. I thing being happy is worth more than pushing for the big bucks. The thing is my dh is also great at working from the bottom up. Like he won't be running the place in a decade anyway... That's how he has been at any job - started out low and worked his way to the top very rapidly. He just doesn't look good on paper! I am quite confident he can get a decent wage if he just puts the effort into what he loves. The thing is he doesn't need a ridiculously high wage to support his family - as long as I am making the big bucks doing what I love. $20k income sounds DIVINE to me, about now! But I know he can work up to $40k-$50k income, easy. Pursuing what he loves... Which is plenty for us to live on, anyway.
Even if he scores a minimum wage job, the money would be great as a second income, and could mean paying cash for some college training. References and something to put on a resume, are all good outcomes too. I think for once, he has a really good plan. He has just been floundering since graduating college, for the most part. Mostly because he feels he has to do something he hates for big bucks. Volunteering, is a move in quite a different direction. But he has had a chance to show off his smarts and work ethics to some good employers, in the process. That's how he needs to get his foot in the door.
Come to think of it, Scholastic is a good commute too - it's not any farther than a mile, either. It's not like he will have large commuting costs. Another perk!
Economic forces? In this economy, my pay is not keeping up with medical costs. (We were blessed it had kept up - the last decade - with skyrocketing costs).
Our plan originally, was to get some modest second job with good benefits. BUT, with the events of the last year, I have decided two things. 1 - We want to keep our HMO, if at all possible. No longer willing to settle for less, to save a few bucks. 2 - Considering my parents' melodrama more than our own - I no longer think relying on an employer for benefits is anything more than short-term thinking. Lose your job, get a pre-existing condition = be screwed. Nevermind that.
We have a rather sudden mindshift that our private insurance is worth keeping, indefinitely. A second low paying job would easily cover it - so it's not a huge biggie. (Not going to go bankrupt over it or anything).
The other economic force at play is losing my retirement benefits. Though I expected a temporary reduction in this economy, and a permanent reduction, in the future, I thought I had a little more time, all the same. I had been trying to bulk up other savings in the meantime - but really needed at least another year to get there!
The combination of both these factors mean quite the storm. (Committing 20% of my income to our health, for the long run, and losing 10% of my compensation - ouch).
I suppose on the health insurance - at least we have gotten our money's worth. Would be different to pay a bazillion and never use it.
Anyway, I got the preschool bill yesterday, and there was mention of spring break in April.
It hit me that we only have to pay this dang bill for about 3 more months. Holy cow!!! I should have been counting down the months.
It's very hard to believe that both kids will be in elementary school come late summer. & that dh is talking about returning to the workforce, now that it won't cost an arm and a leg. (& also because the kids wouldn't even notice if he was working).
The preschool savings is nothing huge, but will be about $150/month. Phew! Enough to make a substantial difference to our savings, all the same.
I can just hardly believe it. Where is the time going?
I was evaluating my overtime and deciding how much I could realistically work the next 6 weeks. I think I will just throw myself into my work. (Dh is doing great this week!). I can't believe that is only 6 more weeks of tax season, as well. The time will FLY - it has been so hectic. That's the thing - I work my butt off this time of year - but the time FLIES and the rest of the year is so slow and leisurely, really. Anyway, I am putting a big weekend in and work, and so should get to it!
Just in my inbox:
"California refunds could be delayed (02-24-10)
The state budget crisis is not yet fixed, and the state's cash flow is dismal. It's too early to tell, but you can't rule out the State Controller delaying income tax refunds or issuing IOUs if California lawmakers don't resolve the budget crisis.
The rumblings are starting later than last year, though. & it is still only speculation, at this point.
As for me, I am not owed a refund. In fact, paid in the minimum I had to - just for this reason. But, figured I'd pass along since I have seen the questions around here - about state refunds this year.
Feeling relieved today. Took the kids for dental cleanings. BM seems extremely cavity prone. So, basically, I hold my breath every time we go to the dentist. Not only for BM, but wondering if LM will develop the same cavity-proneness.
It turns out BM did not have any cavities, and the plaque they had been monitoring had desisted, so no X-rays next time either. (Not sure I agree with this - give the boy X Rays! Beats a surprise of an army of cavities festering all year). But, was all good news, yes.
However, his baby teeth had been falling out, out of order, and as a preventitive measure, they did want to pull a tooth, in an effort to get the teeth growing in the right place. I exclaimed it was already loose, as of a few days - more for BM's sake. I have had teeth removed - baby teeth are easy - and loose ones must be easier. Dentist thought I was fighting her and said, "well, if it come out on its own in a couple weeks." Pfffft. That is not going to happen. Told her I was just glad it was already loose - we will come in for the extraction.
Full price is $200. 10% cash discount. 25% off that for tax deduction. In the end $135 for a little prevention, is no biggie. Not that I really think it will matter. The kids inherited my teeth - so we are screwed. I have been saving for orthodnotia since before they were even born.
I suppose this is why a tooth extraction doesn't bother me as much. Those are given, with my genes!
I couldn't fit another dentist appointment in BM's or my schedule for another 2 weeks. (To be fair - trying to work around school more than anything!) Lord I hope dh is up to taking him next time. He should feel mighty fine by then.
Found out my friend's child has a benign brain tumor. THey have been spending the last couple of weeks ruling out cancer. I feel extra grateful we didn't have to go down that route. (They have been meeting with oncologists and getting biopsies in the time frame we were already interviewing surgeons - dh's tumor was so obviously not cancerous).
But yeah, it's like there is something in the water. Yeesh.
As for us, I can't believe we may be putting this chapter behind us, in just a few days. Dh went out for a hair trim yesterday, and his hair is back to all one length. Can still see the scar, but it will be covered up completely in no time. (If he had darker hair - it would probably no longer be visible). His next MRI is in a few days. Hopefully, his final MRI!
**Got to go on a bike ride Sunday. First bike ride of the year! Unfortunately, probably too wet and cold, for a while now, to do again soon. But, it was nice. Extra nice since no one else was out and about. VERY peaceful.
LM is also getting better on his bike. Will be SO nice when LM can ride his bike to school and we can ride bikes to pick up the kids, etc. For now, he still struggles with curb to street/street to curb. BUT was able to ride with him around the block, which was a great improvement. Nice not to run after him all the way - nice to ride alongside. The bike was a bit big for him when we got it, but he grew plenty over the winter - so he is doing better on it. PRobably should raise the seats on both the kids' bikes.
Of course, though dh has been happy with his ancient bike (found in his parents' garage) I think he may be next in line for a "new" bike, soon. Probably new, since Craigslist has had such slim pickings...
**BM went back to school this week, and so commences "crazy." The last couple of days have been okay. By the time I have made him luch and everything, I haven't made it to school early to use the daycare. Maybe later this week. (I can drop him off 1/2 hour early for free - which is what I have been doing). We still have about 15 hours prepaid. Wondering if we will even use it, this year. Though I could really stand to get to work earlier, the truth is I was the one who slept in today. I have been running myself ragged taking care of my family on top of the craziness at work.
**Finally broke out the food processor that we got for dh's birthday. It arrived on the day of his surgery, and has sat in a box, since!
So far, impressed with it. We made some hummus (YUM) and I used it to slice some onions for dinner.
Anyway, dh seems pleased. So that is good. & I have got a chance to try it our - more than usual - since I am the chef in the house, for now.
**We got a hospital bill yesterday. I was scared to look, but it was a whopping $100 for lab work the day before dh's surgery.
The bills will probably dribble in, for eternity. This is just the beginning. But they seem extraordinarily slow on anything over $500. (I'm talking, YEARS). Of course they sent us a bill for lab work - pfffft. & here I am holding my breath for $100-ish bills. Gah.
I told myself that I would take today off. Something I haven't gotten in many weeks...
Then I remember:
1 - We were going to buy an apple tree - and plant it!
2 - I have some spots to clean off the carpet (procrastination has already been done there)
3 - I was going to make dinner
4 - I was going to go to work for a few hours
& on and on and on...
In the end, decided to skip work.
Though maybe we will do morning chores and call it a day. I am also thinking of putting off the apple tree purchase another year. February is the month to plant it. This year is just way too crazy though. We haven't removed the stump on our old tree (though small and may be simple). & I really rather do that when dh can help. I don't mind the work - I have issues with the SPIDERS. This is why I do not do yard work!
All that said, today should be pretty low key, compared to the rest of the week, and I have gotten some time with the kids.
Yesterday I took them to Chuck E Cheese hell - for a birthday party.
You may recall that my kids had their party there. BUT, it was a WEEK NIGHT. It was a very pleasant experience.
We went to a party there one weekend a year or 2 ago, and I would describe it as hell. There was nothing redeeming about it. So, I promised to take them yesterday - hoping to get in and out as fast as possible. It was worse than I remembered. This time was an actual "reserved and "official" party. They churn them out like a factory. They cram you in like sardines. & then they kick you out to make room for the next batch.
Who in their right mind would do this to their poor children?
The best part? We had to buy our own tokens.
Because they wanted us to wait a half hour.
Anyway, I had thought ahead and brought some "just in case." From home. Really did not expect to need them. Thank goodness! Saved me cash or making my kids stand around and do nothing for a 1/2 hour.
I came home and told dh he could take them next time. This monkey mama is never going to Chuck E Cheese on a weekend. Again. Ever.
When we got home, the weather was gorgeous and the kids were quite upset we left early. I let them play outside though. We put air in the bike tires and LM practiced on the scooter. (We are convinced BM learned how to balance on his bike by learning to balance on his scooter). So, was encouraging very timid LM to TRY the scooter. He runs hot/cold on the bike, but was open to it yesterday.
Today, I need to get air in my tires (they've been sitting in the garage all winter) and BM and I may go for a ride. Though it is a bit cold for my taste. But, it's getting better. It's either that or the gym, for me, today. I haven't gotten to the gym or anything, all week.
Last night I went grocery shopping with BM. I am not sure I have ever bought so many groceries, in my life! I was telling him how I have never shopped for a whole family before. Strange territory. The timing was good. The place was pretty empty (6pm-ish Saturday).
I had quite a list and called dh about 10 times for directions. (Which ones? Where are they???). But I luckily scored quite a few sale items, and hope I did semi well. Dh is the grocery MASTER.
Since my total was $120, I wasn't feeling thrilled, but dh assured me that I did good. He skimmed the receipt and oohed and aaahed over some of the sales I had scored. I suppose I did okay. BM told me even daddy never buys so much food at once. LOL. Though I do not think this is true.
I did score a quarter off per gallon for my vehicle - haven't had one since dh has been out of commission. Have to spend $100 for that holy grail coupon. Usually dh plans the groceries just so, so we never pay full price for the van's gas.
I had to stock up on a lot of stuff, like tuna and yogurt. Bread, juice, salad.
The menu for the next week (or 2):
**Texas Burgers and seasoned corn (new recipe to try)
**Spaghetti and meat + garlic bread (easy and makes lots of leftovers)
**Burritos (easy and makes lots of leftovers).
**Hummus (we need to try the new food processor - haven't opened it yet).
I also bought some eggs, and would like to make an egg salad. Haven't chosen a recipe yet.
We still have about 4 frozen meals in our fridge, as well. SO, this should carry us through the end of the month. & then some...
Anyway, it feels good to have a PLAN. It's been so hectic and I have been waiting for the weekend to plan some meals, etc. I picked meals I could easily cook after work, but dh said he may be up to helping too. He probably is. He helped us fill tires yesterday and stuff like that. He seems totally fine as long as he doesn't leave the house. Which is awesome that he is feeling as good as he is!
I snapped my own pictures of spring:
Though, looks like the cold is returning - I ran the heat a bit last night. & the forecast calls for endless rain again.
It was nice to glimpse spring for a bit...
ETA: Sun came out, its warm, and the little boys and I did a lot of bike riding today. Yay!
**Filed our taxes. Phew! When my $800 Fed refund arrives, I will send it over to the state. Won't bother waiting until 4/15, like usual. Just want it done!
Still have to fund $1080 into a new regular IRA. Goodie goodie - maybe will do when the refund arrives. A chore for March. Don't want to wait too last minute...
**I do admit that all my early bird clients are the ones with the big refunds. They can't wait! Though the refunds have been absurd ($5k-$15k).
I admit a twinge of jealousy.
Then I knocked myself back to reality. I transfer $1200 to my savings every payday. I could let the IRS hold that money for me all year, and forego the 2% interest on my savings account. Sometimes it is easy to be jealous when you focus on a small piece of the pie. The big picture is I'll take my money now, thanks!
**Kids are home and we are back to self sufficiency. Feels kind of good. Though definitely, exhausting!
Though I know most of my friends (SAHM/working mom/every mom) thinks my boss chains me to my desk and my dh never lifts a finger - I am definitely experiencing this reality right now. All I can say is, it sucks! Biggest sacrifice? "Me Time"? Um, no. QUALITY time with my KIDS. I am hoping to spare some time with them this Sunday.
All the same, I can hang for 2 more months. Until work settles down. & I can be thankful that this is only a temporary reality!
It's not just that dh is laid up, or that work is crazy. IT's the combo of the 2!
**Dh is doing pretty good. He is doing good at home, and is doing more than I expect. (He refuses to send the kids to daycare, and I caught him doing dishes last night). He has also cooked a bit. BUT, he is still pretty exhausted when it comes to driving and going out.
I think next week will be good. He will walk BM home from school (if he feels up to it) and will drive a short drive to pick up LM from school (if he feels up to it). I think a regular schedule will help build up his strength. HE did both of these with his mom already, so I know he is up to it.
He does fine with the kids, though MUCH easier with BM in school all day - next week should be better. LEss refereeing, with only one child. & LM is the type who can play quietly for 8 hours. So, he will be fine.
For the long run, I Expect I will be doing a lot of driving, grocery shopping, and errands. Though I guess in 2 more weeks time, he may build a lot of strength. It has still only been 4 weeks.
**A week from Monday is his next MRI and follow up. I can hardly believe it! Right around the corner. Crossing our fingers for some good news. No follow up radiation, would be the best news.
I did some shopping last night. All I need is the internet to do financial damage. Credit card info - memorized!
Anyway, to make a long story short, we tried to hit a few mattress sales this weekend, and failed. I suppose, in this day and age, the true deals are online. (It probably doesn't help that 10,000 small businesses closed in our county, in 2009). You know - those hole in the wall places are impossible to find any more. Our favorite furniture discounter is long gone, etc.
I would like to see and feel a mattress before I buy it. But I haven't seen anything halfway decent for under $1k. I don't think my standards are that high either - just looking for a Twin mattress for my youngest. With the "best sales of the year" winding down, I started looking online, out of frustration.
I struck gold with Overstock.com
$1200-ish mattresses on sale for $450-ish. Big name brands. $2.95 shipping. Unexpected perk - no sales tax. (Though technically, California can come after us for the sales tax - might as well report it - but I have a year to pay that). I also found a $10-off coupon. I stared at the total in disbelief before I clicked "finalize purchase."
So, that whole thing isn't over. Will see when it arrives. BUT, the mattress had excellent reviews, as did Overstock for their mattress selling/shipping. Well, okay then. At this point, I am desparate!
There were a couple of catches. BEsides not getting to see and feel it. (& I suppose if I wasn't so sick of the mattress stores, I could have gone out and looked for one in person, to see, before I committed). Anyway, the mattress did only have a 5-year warranty. Which, actually surprised me. Because we saw some really cheap crap with 3-year-warranties. This mattress appeared to be much higher quality. Anyway, with out eldest, our philosophy was to buy him a "forever" bed. (He actually just has my old "forever" mattress). The thing is, he is a rambuctious boy, and I think we are lucky he hasn't broken it yet!!
So, yeah, I am totally happy, with current cashflow, to go a little cheaper. Maybe LM will get his *forever bed* in a few more years... I am still assuming he gets at least 10 years out of this mattress, all the same.
The other thing is that I know we will just buy a platform bed of some type, eventually. I really just wanted the mattress. But this one came with the boxspring.
I think it works out, because dh has been really against throwing the mattress on the floor. I really wanted to buy a mattress LAST year and to buy a bed this year. With the box spring, maybe he won't freak out too much about LM not sleeping on a REAL bed. Will look more bed-like?
That being said, since we are no longer shopping "forever bed," I am sure we will find something quite frugal in the next few months. I suppose we will shop for a bed and desk set. But if what we want is on the pricey side, we can wait another year or so to get him an actual bed frame.
I suppose we can sell the old toddler bed for $50. That is how much we paid for it used - though it came with a crappy mattress that we switched out for our nice crib mattress.
Good mattresses are so important! So I am crossing my fingers that I didn't make a terrible purchase.
I shopped around but only bought him a mattress pad, last night. Amazon? Ours is pretty sad (has holes and everything) and found one for $20-ish, so replaced it too.
Will take him shopping for some bedding, though I know we can make do with that too, for now. I REALLY liked a comforter set online for $99. A little pricey for my taste, but maybe I should just get it - since the mattress was a steal. Will wait and see if the mattress is good, and will consider it. (Or wait and see if it goes on sale???) Mattress should arrive in 1-6 weeks!
I also bought a nice pair of workout shoes at Zappos. It's the only place I can find shoes that fit. Without spending DAYS roaming the stores. I had picked this month to buy since it is a long put off purchase. HAd been waiting for a slow month. Not that this month is ending up a low spend month, but the mattress will come from savings (for much less than I expected), and I've still got room in the budget for shoes. If they fit well, I will immediately buy a second pair. I replace them so slowly, every time I find a good pair, the go out of production buy the time I want to buy them again. I hate that! I have been shoe hoarding of late. It's a perk to having more wiggle room in the budget. Phew! It may be YEARS before I have to shoe shop again.