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Quick Update

September 15th, 2016 at 06:52 am

September has definitely not been my month. It's just been one bad thing after another. I wouldn't even know where to begin.

Regardless of everything else, it's been very high stress because Drama Llama(11) is having a really rough time. There is definitely an element of mental health issues and I suspect these are just the first steps down a very long road.

For now, every thing about our "fairly easy" child is very difficult. I've never had to micromanage his homework before. (I mean, like we never help him at all or pay any attention to that because he is very responsible). He's never had problem sleeping in his own bed before. We've never had any problems leaving him for a date or whatever. Honestly, it's very deja vu to the baby years. Just tons of work and really no idea what we are doing. But figuring it as we go along. Very "one day at a time".

Given family history, none of this is a surprise. I just have no frame of reference of getting help so young, because in the past was so taboo and/or most in my family are too stubborn to get any help. (e.g. My mom got help in her 40s). I think some of it is that he isn't a stubborn type (thank goodness!) and some of it is we've always talked very openly about these things with our kids. We wouldn't want them to hold in feelings of wanting to harm themselves. He is very open to any help that we can get him.

For now, just surviving.

Triple Dip & This & That

September 29th, 2013 at 06:36 am

**Dh got his *triple drip* credit card and the points are already showing up for us. Wahoo! Citi - because Citi really really wants him.

I charged $1,000 to our health insurer a few days ago (which included maybe $100 for next month) and I just logged in to check the charge. The statement had closed and the points were there. Dh has to call and redeem for a check to our mortgage company. I read you can just deposit these checks to your bank - and our primary checking account is also with our mortgage holder. Nothing to lose with just trying to deposit it.

**Closed some old credit union accounts - got all our money moved around.

**Dh finally returned his old (broken) phone to Sprint. I figured he might get something. He got $10.

Reminds me, no 4G yet. Dh called to complain again (our credits ran out) and they acted like he had to call back next month. I just sent him the bill that showed that we paid full price for *last* month. So he knows when he calls back to ask for at least 2 months of credit. {I think they saw the other $10 credit and that might have confused them}. The short story is they have been telling us for 18 months that we will get 4G "any second." In the meantime, we barely get even like 1/10 their advertised speeds. It's horrid. They gave us "40% off" the last 4 months and basically said they will do that until we get 4G. But that we would have to check back after 4 months. I have been snowflaking those credits to the mortgage, and will continue to do so when the credits materialize again.

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We acheived a low-spend month on the discretionary spending this month. I can't believe it's already the 29th!! It's been very "tax season" like. Working working working, earning, earning, earning - certainly no time to spend any money.

I was just peeking and we spent $136 on gas this month, and $500 on groceries. & we are done for this month. $500 is right on budget, but included a huge food stock up for our road trip (next month). So, I am pleased with that. Going under this month (stocking up ahead) buys us a little more wiggle room for next month. & November will be another easy month to scale back. Short month, and I will be working tons. We usually budget $300 for gas, but that is usually a worse case month and the only place we really have any room for misc. spending. Still, we probably usually spend around $200. Obviously the carpool is working out well and helping. We are probably driving more than last year (for school) but not a lot.

That said, everything else has completely gone to heck. Still is. It never ends this year. So I can't really boast a true "low-spend" month. Just relieved we were cheap enough to buy us some wiggle room.

We also splurged this week on a night out. It was our 13 year wedding anniversary, and we had a great night out!! A new restaurant in our neighborhood was *divine* and overall pretty reasonable, but we ended up spending way more on daycare than planned. So, a $70 night out. Which I don't think either of us would have particularly planned. But, we got saved by the bell. Grandma sent us a $70 check for our anniversary. Very nice!! Big Grin So I am definitely glad we splurged. That date always seem to be charmed for us.

We'd have probably just gone out to lunch, but we had a free hour of childcare, and if we didn't use the place we would lose our registration. Which I was fine with, but dh really wanted to go out and figured it wouldn't hurt to keep our registration there. (Though we mostly have not used the drop-in place for 2 years). We both weren't thinking - only one of the kids had a free hour - and dh had also told them they could eat there (which cost more). So, ugh. Turned into an expensive night!

Oh, but the kids need all sorts of dental work. The extra tooth that LM has and we were told is "no problem" for the last 5 or so years? *This week* an extra permanent tooth showed up on his x-rays. Oy vey!! (I don't know how rare or common that is - but they never told us that was a possibility - seems rare talking to others who had extra baby teeth. They just so confidently told us all along not to worry about it). BM also has some problems. Lots of tooth pulling, and just crossing my fingers that is all. *sigh*

Anyway, so how is that for mixed money news? It's all good and bad and seems to even out in the middle.

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I didn't finish or publish this post yesterday so have more to add:

**I got a Free $10 coupon from Kohls ($10 minimum purchase) after griping I haven't gotten one in *forever.* Yay!!

**Will not be able to redeem any rewards to ROTH this month because have not been using that card at all. Our credit union is giving us 2% back for another month (& rather support the credit union and use a visa).

But, earned $40 in the CU visa (gets redeemed in January) We usually barely use the card and the rewards don't usually amount to a ton - so the "once a year redemption" is usually not a big deal. At least they ran this promotion at the end of the year...

I was able to redeem $25 on our American Express (added it to next mortgage payment).

**If I add $165-ish to our next mortgage payment, we will dip below $190k. The mortgage has been of extreme low priority because this year has been so crazy expensive (home repairs mostly). BUT, I think I can scrounge up $165 for that psychological milestone.

More Purging

September 23rd, 2013 at 09:03 pm

**They switched our recycle pickup back to "every other week". Trash pickup is every week. We barely ever have anything in our trash can, and every other week is fine for the recycles. But, everyone keeps going on and on and on about hor horrible this schedule is and they have to throw away so much recyleables. OR that there is not enough room for their trash and recycle any more.

We have four in our household (plus a pet) and we paid for the smallest bins. You got me! IT just makes me wonder what on earth people are buying and how wasteful they are being. ??? {Of course everyone is dirt broke, but have not embraced the idea of less consumption}.

**I noticed a kids' toy in the purge pile and asked dh if I had missed it last time. (Everything else is to be sold, or was already donated). He told me that he just had pulled it from one of the kids' rooms. I looked up the most recent charity pickup bag I had, and it was for today, so I set it out. It was a fairly large toy. Dh also mentioned he had a box of books, and this charity takes books. So, phew! (He had taken them probably more than once on "used book sales" rounds - just the crap that no one wants). I wouldn't be surprised if they toss some of these books, but will let them make that decision. Some of them should be useful for the charity.

I actually found another couple of out-dated toys and added them to the pile. So it was a nice and unexpected purge.

**I found a few activity books and forgotten reading books in one of the kids' rooms. I am sure there are infinitely more laying around. I put them all in a pile for our road trip. We will have to go through and narrow them down.

I have also printed out some activities. For example, a US Map with an image of every state license plate. Seems to be up-to-date, so will be interesting and educational for the kids to keep an eye out for license plates. I printed out some plexers (because they love those) and am going to make my own silly "I Spy" list - I found some funny ideas and just wanted to make my own. It probably won't be very fancy looking, but it will entertain.

Lord knows dh has the electronics covered. Will have podcasts and books on tape and video games and yadda yadda, also. I think we will be good.

As to not be a complete fuddy duddy, I ordered a couple of treats for the kids. Amazon. I will admit probably could have done without, but I was looking up "frugal" travel ideas and got sucked in on some purchases. Probably not the kind of frugal I was expecting. But, whatever. One thing I bought was window markers, which the kids didn't seem that excited about - maybe that will entertain ME. I need something to. I can't drive the whole way. (I usually like to mostly drive, but I think this will be a bit much - for like 10 days of driving). Another interesting suggestion I saw was pipe cleaners. Not messy at all, but the kids can make things with them. I LOVED that idea. & while on Amazon I saw a $7 game that looked perfect. Not that we don't have enough games, but something new and different to mix it up a bit.

**I am just trying to spend an hour or two every weekend working on the planning stages for this trip. Then it doesn't feel overwhelming or like a lot of work, but I feel like we probably got everything fairly well organized. Dh was going to pick up snacks and food for the car. I am in charge of water and drinks. (Since he doesn't do soda or juice - figured I'd better pick that stuff up if I want the rest of us to be happy).

Today I picked up the kids after work, so I took them to Walgreens to pick up some gallon water hugs (could use the man power). I have two jugs from when the water pipe broke in our house and we bought 3 more today. I am thinking more for emergency purposes. Honestly, we should probably always keep a jug in the car.

**Oh, and while decluttering a bit, dh threw some boxes in the van. We have a recycle dumpster at work, which comes in handy at times. The house is looking much nicer. I really only de-cluttered cabinets and so on - but the thing is so much stuff has been laying around the house waiting to be purged. & now it is all gone! Aaaaaahhhhhh...

**Dh tried a tip he heard a while back - tried to renew my vehicle registration at AAA, to receive new registration immediately. I did not want to renew before our trip, because didn't want anything important in the mail while we are gone. So he told me he could just get it for me. He could not execute this transaction since they only took cash or checks. He will go back next week. It is "on the way" for him on Mondays.

This will be my 12th check to write this year. Oy vey!!! I am trying to go checkless, and am mostly succeeding. It's all the unusual stuff that gets me.

Some Interesting Articles

September 19th, 2013 at 06:27 am

I came across a few random interesting articles the last couple of days.

How the Traditional “Rules” of Frugal Living Often Vastly Undervalue Time

[url]http://www.thesimpledollar.com/how-the-traditional-rules-of-frugal-living-often-vastly-undervalue-time/[/url]

This article I did not like at all, but was worth sharing. To me, this is the *perception* of frugality. I have always found it ironic that being frugal buys us infinitely more time. So, my real experience is generally very opposite of the perception.

The main example in this article is car buying. & mentions that buying a clunker means buying a $2,000 car every 30,000 miles. & then goes on what a PITA it is to buy a car. Seriously!?!

Reality: I've owned some clunkers and we have only bought used cars, but we on average keep our cars far longer than any non-frugal type. I did pay $1,000 once for a car I drove for 7 years. You could argue I got lucky, but we paid just under $8,000 for dh's car (almost new), are 12 years in, and will easily keep for 20 years. If it is not totaled, we will keep it for 20 years.

I've watched everyone I know who snidely told me, "I buy new so it lasts longer" replace their cars once or twice in that time. Plus, they can never actually afford to keep their cars in good repair. So, in the end, not only are we buying less cars, but they seem to be more reliable and in better working order. I think almost everyone I know had no A/C in their car during a brutal summer with a very small kid or baby. Honestly, I would be concerned about the physical safety of that situation. But, you know, I am the cheap one! Rolleyes

So, yeah, I just happened to randomly come across this article and had to comment.

I know a lot of frugal people, and even a lot of *extreme frugal* types, and none of them are buying a car every 30,000 miles. That is just dumb. This is maybe what you do when you have no other choice. If you are frugal, you are saving your pennies to buy a better car next time. {The vast majority of frugal types that I know buy one car - used or new - every 15 or 20 years. We bough old clunkers when we were 16, and then saved up to buy replacement cars that lasted much longer. The "clunker" concept is for when just starting out. It is not a long-term car plan. Likewise, the point is to buy a reliable car that just maybe isn't very pretty. Not sure we have ever owned a true clunker. Just some older and less pretty cars - very reliable though!}.

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Subsidizing Spouses

[url]http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/16/subsidizing-spouses/?_r=0[/url]

I just came across this economics blogger and found her articles very interesting.

"Our public policies contradict one another, stigmatizing unmarried parents who lack paid employment as lazy bums (and enforcing stiff paid work requirements) but subsidizing married persons who specialize in family care, especially if they are married to high earners."

Read her articles and the comments, and just a lot to think about. I am glad I stumbled across this writer.

I think this is also another case of perception versus reality - when it comes to the part of the article that I quoted. Lord knows many people have never had anything nice to say about the idea of either someone like my mom or my husband staying home with the kids. But, at the end of the day, there are significant benefits to this type arrangement. & we are well aware of the benefits that we are reaping. Lord knows perceptions never seem to have anything to do with the reality, in this case.

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Why So Many People Fail at Becoming Debt Free

[url]http://www.frugalrules.com/people-fail-becoming-debt-free/[/url]

Anyone concerned about becoming debt-free should read this article.

" Lack of Vision

This is likely one of the most important parts of a successful journey to living debt free. Whereas a good understanding of your debt will motivate you through fear, a good vision of your life without debt will motivate you through excitement."


Maybe some of the rest of this article are more obvious things to ponder. But, this last point is really key.

& this kind of goes back to the first article. It's kind of hard to have the vision if you equate being debt-free with pain and sacrifice. I think you've got to be really focused on the up-side. Otherwise, why would you even bother??

Fiscal Doings

October 8th, 2012 at 07:04 am

**I redeemed a $50 credit card reward to my ROTH.

**I received a $7.80 settlement from ATT. I expected it to be more. But I am pleased with the extra money.

I found the $7.80 here, probably about 4-5 months ago:

[url]http://www.mymoneyblog.com/database-for-searching-class-action-settlements.html[/url]

I will have to go through it again - see if there is anything new.

**Today I will get my 10/1 paycheck. I will pay off the Chase reward card, fund the ROTH, and savings is a wash - I have about $3k for savings, but need $3k for vacation, dental, and medical bills.

**I did really well with the time change and fast pace of vacation. BUT, it all hit my like a ton of bricks yesterday. I pretty much slept *all day.* I feel asleep for 3-4 hours mid-day and all I kept dreaming was how tired and thirsty I was. Yeesh. Guess I was a little dehydrated. Slept another 9 hours last night, so feel back on schedule.

**There was some 100-degree heat while we were on vacation, but I suppose the nights were at least cool enough to offset that. It was actually comfortable when we got home. I worried when my folks came up to deliver a spare key and told me the house was only 78 degrees. I thought later that maybe someone had left the A/C on - that is just what it is automatically set to. So I fretted about that a bit, and was surprised that the A/C was *off* when we came home. Phew.

Anyway, we were running the AC heavy and hard right until we left (extremely unusual for this time of year) and so I am relieved to see more normal temps in the forecast. October is usually an easy no-heat/-no-air month. So, will hope for that. If we were home last week, we night have used some October A/C.

**I also just read that gas was at a record high. I *think* our cars are mostly gassed up and we don't have a big driving trip for two more weekends. Guess I won't be driving home for lunch much this month.

Color career Test

February 26th, 2011 at 06:58 am

Um, this was freaky!

career color Test

[url]http://www.careerpath.com/career-tests/color-test/[/url]

From picking my favorite and least favorite colors, it told me this:

Best Occupational Category
You're an ORGANIZER

Keywords
Self-Control, Practical, Self-Contained, Orderly, Systematic, Precise, and Accurate

These conservative appearing, plotting-types enjoy organizing, data systems, accounting, detail, and accuracy. They often enjoy mathematics and data management activities such as accounting and investment management. Persistence and patience allows them to do detailed paperwork, operate office machines, write business reports, and make charts and graphs.

ORGANIZER CAREERS
Suggested careers are Administrator, Secretary, Printer, Paralegal, Building Inspector, Bank Cashier, Private Secretary, Statistician, Operations Manager, Financial Analyst, Bookkeeper, Medical Records Technician, Developer of Business or Computer Systems, Clerical Worker, Proofreader, Accountant, Administrative Assistant, Banker, Certified Public Accountant, Credit Manager, Store Salesperson, Actuary, Dental Assistant, Business Education Teacher, Food Service Manager, IRS Agent, Budget Analyst, and Underwriter.

ORGANIZER WORKPLACES
Your very careful, conscientious, conservative nature gives others the confidence to trust you with handling money and material possessions. Structured organizations that have well-ordered chains of command work best for you.

Suggested Organizer workplaces are large corporations, business offices, financial lending institutions, banks, insurance companies, accounting firms, and quality control and inspection departments.

Summer Murphy

August 13th, 2009 at 05:26 pm

**Murphy REALLY likes to visit us in the summer. Last year is looking preferable though - maybe $1500 all told.

WE are already up to $3k in car repairs (maybe a bit more) when dh calls me today to report his AC is not working in his car. SERIOUSLY? I know it could be something cheap to fix, and in fact he called me later to tell me he turned it off for a while and back on, and it worked for a bit. But still!!

The van is going to the shop Monday, it's s'posed to be 100 degrees - and that's our only vehicle??? I told dh it might work out - the car was so hot the other day I am not sure I could have driven it but the A/C cooled down the steering wheel rapidly. So I figure if we have to store it in the garage all day and he comes to pick me up after work, we may survive. The difficult part is driving a car on a hot, windless day, that's been sitting in the sun all day. Not much shade here. Could invest in a visor shade thing though...

I can look at the bright side - at least we are at the tail end of summer. Though September can be brutal hot. I think we will probably just take it in though, once the van is all fixed up. That's what our cash is for. But if we want to nurse our wounds a bit and put it off, sounds like it may be workable.

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As a frugal antecdote/side story, I remember I was on a local message board a few years back where I learned that the masses believe old cars cost more money (repairs) than new cars. They all said quite a few nasty things about old cars, and I always defended my old car. Anyway, so everyone had a 5-year or newer car pretty much, and I Remember one summer absolutely NO ONE on the entire message board had air conditioning except ME!!!!! My little $800, 12-year-old Saturn with 150k+ miles, yes. Never had an A/C problem with that car or any older car I owned the decade prior.

I just always thought that was pretty ironic. It was the summer of no AC.

So when dh tells me this - I say of course the AC doesn't work - now we have a newer car! Wait - the car is 8 years old. When did that happen? HEll, at 100k or so miles, it is one of the newest vehicles we have ever owned. I just don't get the feeling that they "make them like they used to" in many regards. I know more modern ACs have stricter environmental standards too.

Aw, hoping for us, it is just something simple like low on freon or something. I can hope? Reminds me, dh needs new tires too. We keep forgetting to look them over, but they have hit 50k miles of use - I am quite sure we should replace them before summer is out.

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I haven't been very bloggy. Expenses aside, just been very content. We made a lot of progress this year, and so can breathe a little.

WE had many years where money wasn't an object, and I just want to get back to it. IDeally, I think finances should be in the background. I don't want to obsess about it all the time. & my obbsession level has decreased dramatically this year. Phew.

For me, it's a bit of a balancing act. I don't want to obsess over my finances - just want to have long-term goals and keep an eye on things. BUT I love the subject, obviously, and so don't mind obsessing about the topic of finances.

Anyway, I Feel like worrying, stressing, focusing too much on finances has been my mode for a couple of years. & I would like to tone it down a bit. I have, and it's been NICE!

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Today the kids' accounts both hit the magic $3k mark. BM literally has $3k in his account - and a few cents to spare.

If the market starts off up tomorrow, I will execute trades for both of them to get into some more aggressive funds. I was just going to stick them in the Total Stock Market Index and go from there. I guess I should research a few funds before I trade. Hmmmmmm. A Target fund is also an interesting idea (since too little money to spread around much at this point). But was thinking of just going for the market index, and getting back into Star (balanced fund) next year with next year's birthday gift money, to get some more balance. Will be a while before I can spread out into more funds, but I think it's a nice start.

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I've been contemplating cash though I probably shouldn't. Not like I have much. We may get to stay above $20k, but depends what Murphy throws at us. A chunk of that is in my ROTH, as is.

But I have been considering a cutoff of when to cross over from cold hard cash to maybe some bond funds, etc. Either $30k or $40k, is what I Am thinking now. Depends. I read an article the other day about how great it is to invest in bonds vs. cash, and I wasn't very much convinced. Author bragged of returns no better than my own cash/CD returns of the last 3 years. But certainly took on more risk in bonds. So not sold there. Talked about mid-term bonds as well, which I Was also not sold on (prices fall when interest rates rise -and interest rates are so LOW). Though maybe we should just start dollar-cost-averaging into bond funds when we get to that point. Anyway, author was talking about some Vanguard funds, and I looked and the average maturity on these funds were more like 2 years. I assumed "mid-term" was a longer time frame. So yeah - I am starting to get more convinced.

Bonds just overall, scare me. I don't completely understand them. So I am wary. I am not in any individual bond funds at current, though I have some balanced funds (which have bonds and bond funds, etc.). But the bonds I had in 2000 definitely saved my portfolio in 2001-2002. I have just been wary to buy in with such low interest rates.

Well, I've got some time to study up on bond funds - that is for sure. For cash I might no need for over 5 years - I think I would be foolish not to invest a "little" more aggressively.

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I can't decide if work is slow or crazy. I think it's in the middle. The slow or crazy just depends on the day. But I feel stressed by approaching deadlines.

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This weekend isn't shaping up to be too cheap.

Dh drove LM to the Bay Area today - grandma wanted him for a few days. Gas $$$$

Dh has friends coming over this weekend who want to go out to dinner. We were invited to a BBQ and we offered to bring a lot of food. Plus it is a bit of a drive.

So it's shaping up to be a little busy and a little more pricey than the $0 we wanted to spend. That's life I guess!!!!

Here is to a really lazy, no spend, rest of August. After Sunday!

Picnic Sunday

May 5th, 2008 at 07:48 am

I got the fam out to a hike yesterday. IT was another new one (as most of them are; we haven't been up to much hiking since moving out here).

I had heard great things about this lake - it is some kind of government park and they keep cows and horses and goats there (the animals we saw). The lake is home to the biggest geese I have ever seen. Biggest and Loudest. Egads!

They also had a nice playground.

Yesterday was s'posed to be 80 degrees and was a bit on the warm side for this place. Not a ton of shade. Though unlike last weekend, there was at least a small breeze.

Anyway, so we checked it out and liked it much. We ate a picnic lunch (which the kids LOVE - LOVE picnics).

We then set off on a hike that started along the creek that bordered the park.

I forgot that I had read to bring a change of shoes. The geese poop was pretty bad, but the trail is apparently a very popular house trail. So the kids just had to announce the horse poop they saw every couple of feet. LOL.

We saw some kind of white crane, some brilliant bluebirds, and I spotted a lizard. Also, lots of butterflies. Some fish in the creek. We also saw some yellow-billed magpies. I think they are magnificent and had not realized until recently that this is one of their only habitats. I think they only live one other place in the world. Anyway, they have been hit hard by West Nile. I have not even seen one in a couple of years. It was nice to see they haven't gone entirely extinct, though I guess there is great danger of that with the West Nile virus.

Anyway, so the walk along the shady creek path wasn't so bad but we looped back around all the corrals on the unshaded side of the park. Poor animals?

Dh mentioned it wasn't such a nice hike without the shade. I said well, next time we could just turn around and go back the way we came. Doh. IT was actually kind of nice. The kids love creeks of course. Though I made a mental note that maybe we should avoid popular horse trails in the future. The last hike we did was a horse trail, but not a well used one, so it wasn't so bad. LOL.

I am kind of disappointed we have moved so rapidly to summer weather here though. YEsterday was okay but I wouldn't go there on a day that was any hotter.

There are plenty of amazing hikes we have in mind 1-2 hours away. With gas prices though I don't know how much we will be able to do. But I expect in the summer to try some coastal hikes and maybe stuff closer to San Francisco (NICE summer weather - stays rather cool by the shore. Will be divine to get away from the 100-degree-heat here).

Yesterday I also worked on cleaning house, and by the time we got home from the park I was absolutely exhausted. No need to go the gym - I got plenty work out yesterday. Full body workout.

Of course the kids wanted to go back to the track AGAIN. They ran 3 laps Saturday night. Dh and I were too exhausted. We said how about a night off from the track. YEesh.

LM also had an unfortunate incident with his imaginary friend. LOL. BM has always been good at telling jokes and getting a rise out of people. But LM has not been into that so much. So yesterday he told me he had gotten into a fight with his little friend. Which was an interesting turn of events, since life is usually so rosy for them. So I asked him a few questions about it. I brought it up at dinner to dh, wondering if he had heard. Then BM asks LM, "did you do something to wormy first?" Kind of like, let's be honest here. (Yes his best friend is wormy the worm. Don't ask. LOL). So LM gets a mischevious look in his face and exclaims, well, yeah, "I ATE him!" & he starts laughing this evil laugh. Dh and I were kind of appalled actually. I mean seriously, this is his best friend, he talks about him 24/7. But if he wanted to get a rise out of us - OMG - that worked. Just SO out of left field. BM also looked horrified - he kept saying, "You are joking, right?" LM was rather vague. But later he told me Wormy was out on a date, so I think Wormy is okay. Phew.

Kids!