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Archive for February, 2012

Oh, I don't know

February 26th, 2012 at 07:00 pm

(sigh) I am left alone to my own devices, my children are out and about and I'm in hormone-induced "frazzled" as my mother referred to me. My sense of humor has abandoned me (maybe the emotional havoc from the previous week has caught up with me, despite my best efforts to move on.) This is the first month on fertility drugs and I have forgotten how nuts it can make me. Oh, joy.

We had the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Dinner last night, a fun time was had by all. Cost $25 for a evening of dinner and entertainment for the entire family. The theme was Olympics, and my oldest son won 2nd Place in the cake decorating contest (he designed a ski hill made with the top of the big top cupcake set and a Playmobil skier on it). He won a $10 gift certificate to our town (to be used at local vendors). Youngest son came in 2nd place in the Pinewood Derby so he got a trophy.

DH and I had a discussion about our future. He's not cut out for corporate America and is seriously going to pursue the diaconite program in the Catholic Church, ultimately becoming a Deacon (think the closest thing to a priest that a married man can become). It is a five year program and full-time employment pays about $10k less than what he presently makes. We're also getting our act together about International adoption, paperwork and homestudy stuff. I don't think it would be so overwhelming if I wasn't whacked out right now.

Money-wise, still on auto-pilot. Anticipating $3000 funds to be applied to savings/debt after March's three paycheck and three rent collections. We've got a weekend away planned for Friday (taking the kids out of school and heading up to the indoor water park in Wisconsin, where my daughters happen to have a competition on Saturday) so it should be leisurely. The room and competition fees are paid for. I've budgeted $250 for wateprark entrance fees, dinner Friday, gas there and back and lunch on Saturday.

The weekly spending is also inline. I spent $107 at Aldi's for groceries for the week including all cleaning/household/and cake decorating supplies. DH is doing a high protein limited carb diet and I've been happy to see that it shouldn't really break the budget.

That is all I know right now.

TGIF

February 24th, 2012 at 02:46 pm


Seems to me that we're settling into a calmer time here. Less TV, less chaos, less talking about the ongoings of other families Smile More quality time with siblings and parents. Re-embracing the gift of family.

Money is auto-pilot, bills paid. Took care of things and planned the budget for March which has the additional paycheck in it. Looks like I'll be able to tackle the annual prepaid tuition payments with those funds and that will leave the remainder of 2012 to take care of: $2500 to savings, $3000 last debt eradication, $4000 property tax on rental property.

My older daughter "shadowed" at the High School Choice B (earlier posts talk about this) which I happen to be a graduate of. It is a smaller school than Choice A by several hundred. She had a good experience and I think is more open-minded about the opportunities it might present to her. We are going to see the school's Spring Musical there in March and she seemed happy about that, the whole family going.

My grandmother is planning on coming for my daughter's 8th Grade Graduation. I am happy about that, she's 92 and lives in Southern CA and is in good health. It is easier for her to come to visit than getting my crew out there.

Just odd rambles I see as I reread my post. Hope everyone has a great day.

Thursday, and peace

February 23rd, 2012 at 02:29 pm


The new philosophy in the house: To be kind and peaceful in our actions and behavior. No mean words about others and being helpful and nice. Purposeful and deliberate. Non-complicated and organized.

It was nice to shut the door to the drama of the past few days. I am hoping to help my daughter by reminding her that she has cast a wide net of friends and she has plans to socialize on Friday with two other friends outside of the circle. At this point, I am definitely setting and maintaining boundaries, and I was surprised that I am over the disappointment in my friend's behavior. When I was asked if I was really ultimately surprised, I had to say no. Writing on the wall, enough said.

We've limited TV use in the house. Rather than sit and watch TV, we've got the art supplies out and in easy reach. We've got a jigsaw puzzle going on the dining room table. I've pulled out some fun books to read with each of my boys and hope to make it more than these three during Lent, but my goal is starting out modest.

We've started digging through and cleaning out stuff. DH is no longer a 220 pound man so he parted with lots of old things yesterday. I've tackled all the piles in my room (I'm a secret piler - queen of organized chaos Smile ). It is feeling good to be free of this stuff. Why were we keeping it in the first place?

Next week I am motivated to take my lamps to the other consignment store, and post pictures of my other item (the rosewood opium daybed) that I desperately want to get rid of. I've got an Rx to transfer for the $25 off of $50 grocery bill coupon to get (will help to defray Easter dinner cost with those). I think I've broken through the desire to be a coupon clipping queen. I didn't bother to match up coupons with sale ads this week at all, though I did peruse through the coupons and took only a few I know I'll spend.

Well, enough for now. Hope that everyone has a good day. Smile

It will be a $5 Little Cesar's Pizza Tonight for dinner, thank you!

February 22nd, 2012 at 06:09 pm

Thank you for lending support to my post of yesterday. It is obvious that I don't do well with unprovoked confrontations. I wish I could say that there was less drama, younger daughter was upset by what friend's mother is saying to parent of another friend. Oldest son said that younger sister of friend (middle child for my "friend") made him feel uncomfortable in class by saying on more than one occasion "your sister made my sister cry." OK ... my message after all of this was "Everyone has an opinion, whether right or wrong. Let's go have a snack and watch a movie."

At this point it would serve no purpose to let my kids see how much this woman rattled my chain. I did talk to my "inner circle" about this, my brother and best friend. My brother's advice: Ignore. Those who want to manipulate with disorganization and changing the rules of the game want attention. Ignore her! My best friend's advice: Aw, she's just nuts. Give *M* a hug and tell her we'll go out soon for ice cream. Lesson learned here: My inner circle has my back, despite the issues of the moment they face. They've got my back.

I saw my "friend" at Mass today (Ash Wednesday) and she left before Mass was over. When I got home I saw her husband called from his cell phone and didn't leave a message. I am officially done with this, done talking about it and am giving no more audience to nonsense. Our Lenten journey as a family has begun and I'll happily move along, saying a prayer for the family. If my daughter wants to socialize in a week or two, that is fine. I do feel that her daughter will be hurt the most by a falling out with my daughter. But I don't trust her mother to accurately portray what I said to her. Enough!

And since it is Lent, and we're meat-free today, it will be Little Cesar's cheese pizza party pack for dinner tonight! Fish sticks and tater tots on Friday.

Thanks again for the support. I feel like this is a place I can come and share some things and get some general support, even though non-financial. Smile

Why bring the $5 pizza into it anyway? Or When grown-up friendship goes awry

February 21st, 2012 at 06:43 pm


This is a rant with the only financial aspect being a $5 pizza. But it might amuse you, or you could offer insight.

Our social network at this point is mostly the parochial school that our kids attend and the volunteer activities that we are involved in at the parish we worship at. I'm not outwardly social, but I do have a circle of friends that I'm generally happy with, unitl yesterday.

One of the people I regard as my closest of those friends through me for a loop yesterday. She is apparently having issues with her daughter (7th grade) who hero-worships my 7th grader. My daughter is happy to be middle of the road, not a Queen Wannabe. She's happily the least popular of the populars or the most popular of the unpopulars. It doesn't bother her and she has quite a few friends that she floats between.

Apparently my friend is *tired* of listening to the way things are at my house. I *let* my then 7th Grader skip Field Day last year and do something else (in her opinion, ditching isn't OK). She didn't like that I *let* my daughters wear strapless dresses to the Father-Daughter Dance at school (they were modest and tasteful, looked beautiful, and wore appropriate shrugs at the event). I *let* my daughters see "Twilight: Breaking Dawn." Get-togethers with friends at my house can last hours and hours. I will accomodate last minute requests for sleepovers. At my house, you won't be bothered by younger siblings, etc. etc.

OK, I don't usually comment on what goes on in other people's houses, though I have my own ideas. My children are regarded as kind and polite and most family's at the school have 2.5 kids, we double that. My friend is a control-freak who is a helicopter parents and the things she has shared with me about other people's kids have me feeling that her daughter will have no boundaries and it is no wonder she's turning out sneaky and manipulative. The mother's behavior has forced the daughter to have a very jaded view of her. The parents fight. There's been some domestic issues involving becoming physical. Leave me out of it. I don't want to sit down with your child. Get a real therapist. I hung up my hat a long time ago.

The worst blow came when she said, "My child is OK eating Little Ceasar's pizza at your house. Why is it that at my house they have to eat Home Run Inn pizzas which set me back $50 for two?"

I know my child well enough to know that she'd never express any sentiment other than politeness, and I feel bad that I actually said, "My child had an issue with what you were feeding her?" Maybe too incredulously,

My friend said, "No it is my child. She's just not happy with anything."

My husband was accused of being too enthusiastic about life. My daughter was accused of snubbing this grown-up friend, though she back-pedaled a bit when I said, "You mean my daughter has been disrespectful for over a year and you haven't told me." and then I was insightful enough to say, "You've said that *M* has said that don't like (my daughter). Could that have been communicated to (my daughter) somehow and she is responding to that situation?"

I had to say that while they can still socialize, I think there should be clear limits on the amount of time spent (to address my so-called friends concerned about lots of time spent at my house) together, my daughter won't be called, I also said that I don't want my daughter communicating about things that I say to her with the other girl, and vice versa. I said that she (my friend) should encourage her daughter to have other friends outside of my daughter because it doesn't appear to be healthy for anyone involved.

And I wanted to candidly say, "I keep my household running on $100 a week. That is food, paper, cleaning products, pet food, fresh produce, dairy, meat, etc.). And if I don't feel like feeding everyone tuna and noodle casserole when friends are over, I will buy the party pack at Little Cesar's for $16 which will get me two pizzas, breadsticks sauce and a 2L of soda."

Leave me alone.

Steal of the Year

February 19th, 2012 at 11:47 pm


Not much on the money front, everything is on auto-pilot. Tenant paid her rent. Taking care of extraneous list items as stated. Feeling somewhat better. No school tomorrow - looking forward to quiet day with hike at the Morton Arboretum and then picture appointment for older daughter at JCP.

I happened to have a bit of time to kill (15 minutes) before picking the kids up on Thursday (had no school on Friday). I stopped at our local hospital's resale store. I found this item: (it is exactly the same)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-1930-Mahogany-Bowfront-Breakfront-China-Cabinet-/360310577095?pt=Antiques_Furniture&hash=item53e42f17c7

It was marked $175. I pined away for it on Friday (in between all the running around, etc). DH is pretty amenable to a lot of things, but I did want him to take a look at it. We went on Saturday morning at around 10:20 (after a 9:00 AM basketball game). DH liked it and it was 1/2 off day. I bought it for .... drum roll ... $94.50 ($87.50 + tax). I am SO excited. We pick it up midweek.

Definitely the bargain of the year!

Friday

February 17th, 2012 at 08:38 pm


1) Older daughter is skiing at Wilmot Mountain on the IL/WI border. Thankfully they make their own snow as it is 47 degrees here. Cost for this: $53. Didn't have to buy anything, made due with what we have.
2) Younger daughter is out at her friend's house. We hosted her sleepover last night with two friends. I'm under the weather and she and her friend made me breakfast in bed and cleaned my house. Smile
3) Thankfully my boys rediscovered Pet Pet Park, an online game place and they've managed to keep themselves occupied.
4) I wish my cold would go away. I feel baaaad.
5) My best friend's refrigerator broke and she's in a boot from a foot injury and I couldn't take her appliance shopping today. We went out for breakfast and I took her shopping to Walgreen's for toilet paper and Kleenex. I caught her cold.
6) Pay day today. Everything is on autopilot.
7) DH picks up rent today.
8) Nothing much more than that to report.

Back to Normal and Hitting those Little Targets

February 16th, 2012 at 02:34 pm


OK, it is with relief and a happy sigh that I can say that things appear to be on the right track for all. My daughter is no longer lamenting about the disappointment of the rejection letter from Choice A. I've found her on the computer (the only one is in the family room) looking at Choice B's website and she and her best friend (who will be attending Choice A) have spent more time together than usual. I think once they figure out that their friendship will remain intact despite going to different schools, things will be better.

My brother got an offer for part-time law work at his old firm. They'll cover his malpractice insurance and give him $x per month with the understanding that when something solid comes along they will give him a reference. No gap in his employment history. A recruiter had him rework his resume and there are other pokers in the fire. The silver lining in all this is the new girlfriend (who I've met and like immensely) appears to like him for who he is and not the trappings of what he should be. She was happy that he cooked dinner for her at his house. I think that he (my brother) is learning some valuable lessons about life and love throughout this time.

My best friend has had some major job drama despite this being her last week at the present job. She had an injury and has HR and Workman's Comp involved. Her supervisor manipulated the Oc Health doc's recommendations and put her on light duty (she lifts/is an OT in a hospital). Anyhow I've spent a lot of time listening to her and helping her rework emails and things to various people about her situation. All it takes it to threaten to get a lawyer involved and things change up. I don't advocate that in all situations, but the little phrase "upon advise of my counsel" (she did ask if brother would get involved. Probably not).

OK, now for hitting those little targets. Tomorrow is payday and rent collection so I will have $1,000 extraneous funds to take care of the following: (first amount is what I need to pay, second amount is what I will pay, third amount is remaining balance to carry over to March's funds)

CUB SCOUT CAMP: $160 - $160 - $0
HS TUITION DEPOSIT: $350 - $350 - $0
IRA CONTRIBUTION: $500 - $200 - $300
PRESENT TUITION BALANCE: $703 - $301.50 - $401.50

My Ira Contribution must be paid by 4/16, and the present tuition balance is due by 3/31.

So progress is being made slowly and surely tackling these extraneous expenses, though I am much better able to predict and budget for them now.

Another day, another way

February 15th, 2012 at 05:17 pm


We're over the initial drama of *E* not getting into School A. Turns out she wasn't *the* only one not to gain admittance. (Previous post spelled it out: 504 applicants for 330 spots, of which 75% are legacy - you are guarnateed a spot if you've got a sibling, parent or grandparent as alumni). Turns out there were there at least eight. Her guraduating class is small with only 34 kids.

Our drama is over and done right now. She's off to the other parochial school which incidentally all it took was a phone call and the mention of my name as an alumni. My registration check fell out of the envelope for my first trip there yesterday. Most likely providence, because when I drove the check there I found out that my gym teacher is now the Vice Principal and she winked and said how great it was to have me back (read that as: daughter is in). I got a tour of the school. Back in the office after I ran into the parents of one of the twin girls who didn't get in (other twin did), so that was very nice to see though our girls aren't the greatest of friends. And turns out that my Homecoming Date Junior Year is now the Econ teacher and recognized me. Small world and interesting timing.

We pulled out my old yearbook and I suppose that my blank slate of not commenting on where daughter wanted to go lead her to believe I didn't particularly like the school. Well, a little bit of my entusiasm went a long way with her. It is a smaller school with only 180 students per year and it offers soccer and LaCross and has a great art studio. Older daughter now might not be so quick to stay, get a good GPA and leave. Smile And they offer lots of nice things that could meet the needs of our family's diverse range of students: AP math and science for the really bright 2nd child, and inhouse academic support for those challenged (I have a dyslexic and dysgraphic in my mix, too).

When I graduated, tuition was $1,200 a year. Now it is a whopping $9,175, though my daughter will most likely be bringing $6,000 in scholarships and grants with her.

So, it is looking better here. I think we're over the hump over the despair about the "no thank you we can't offer you a spot". And as the Amdissions Director at School A did say, there isn't any reason why *E* can't get a diploma from School A. Her uncle can most likely get her in as a name, rather than a number like she is now.

Random Number vs Specific Name

February 14th, 2012 at 04:47 pm

My oldest daughter took the admisisons test for a highly ranked parochial school in my state (one of the best). There were 504 students vying for 330 spots, of which 75% were legacy (essentially meaning you go to the head of the line if you have a sibling, parent or grandparent alum). Daughter suffers from test anxiety despite being a solid mostly A, few B student. She studied for about a month and knew that it was highly competitive. She did not get in. Oh, the heart-ache of the child. I talked to the Admissions Director first thing yesterday to find out that she was nothing more than a number. The number on the test that scored in the band of "we need to see other evidence of academic success", but due to the limited number of spots availble, she was not wait-listed and granted a "no thank you". I should add that my brother is a graduate success story of this high school and once his name is linked with her name and she is more than a number, she will most likely gain admittance. So much so that the Admissions Director said "Tell your daughter there isn't anything to prevent her from getting a diploma from *****." and we ended it with "We'll talk." But that is at quarter end or semester end of freshman year. Daughter must be content with that.

So, after talking to the Admissions Director at her desired school, I give a call over to the other paochial school, where I am an alumni and she has legacy. They tell me not to worry, get her paperwork over and in, and she's theirs. Daughter isn't keen on this, but her scholarship will have to travel with her and she'll have to be diligent.

The two things required for this (1) a spot at first place desired school (which people do actually leave because of the rigorous academics), and (2) a solid GPA. Add to that patience from the mother to help her daughter navigate this stressful time.

I overheard her saying to her friend on the phone last night, "It will be nice when they look at me as a name, not a number."

I told this to my brother and he laughed and said, "I know how she feels. At this point I am nothing more than a piece of paper applying for one spot along with a gazillion more. It would be nice to be a name."

So the lesson learned from this: it helps to have a back-up plan (in this case a mother who can give you legacy to the place you plan on landing momentarily before you take flight.) and the journey to a high and solid GPA begins.

The first $ in this endeavor was the $30 application fee to runner-up school. And it would be nice if they did away with legacy and let each person be evaluated on their own merits. But then again, I think someone once said it isn't what you know, but who you know.

I hear you knockin, but you can't come in, and I'd like a Vicodin with that

February 10th, 2012 at 02:13 pm


Another Friday! This year just seems to be zipping right along as we pass the monumental mile markers for my 8th grader!

Today is the Valentine's Day Dance at school. They've spent the last semester learning how to dance. The tango, cha-cha, samba, waltz, and swing. They get to put their newly acquired skills to the test and attend the dance in the school hall (aka lunchroom). My taller-than-average girl hemmed and hawed about which shoes to wear because heels would put certain young men who haven't reached their growth spurt at eye level with her chest. I suggested she take both flats and heels and worry about it later.

I'm pleased to say that I returned to a place of organization last night by 8:30 PM. Gown ironed (also cap and gown pictures today for daughter), all notes written for pick up and going homes, ski registration and picture order filled out, all unifroms laid out for the rest of the kids, etc.

I've closed the door to the complaint department. I realize that my brother and best friend are on hard times. Employment isn't easily come by when you're a divorce attorney and during these economic times, divorce is on the decline. And best friend who has a new job lined up so she can leave the bad job isn't sure she wants to go to the new job (after reading about pay and caseload and etc.) and she wants to file a HEPA violation with her boss. Don't really know much more than that because I don't wanna be bogged down with more than my own stuff. I'm finally feeling better after a night of early bed (and I resorted to a Vicodin to help knock me out), I know not really prudent, but I didn't have any other sleep aids and was desperate for the zz's.

So that is it, in a nutshell. I've spent some money recently, not a lot, but some: $6 for fish tank, $5.50 for mascara, $20 OOP for pricy make-up for daughter, $24 for a curling iron type aparatus (a "you curl"), and $10 for son whose going to the new Star Wars 3-D movie opening today. Add on $68 for a ski trip ($10 refundable), $15 for class pictures of graduates (didn't pay first time around), and $20 for pizza card for lunch for one child.

Hope everyone has a great Friday!

Stop the world, I need to go to Walmart (again)

February 9th, 2012 at 02:17 pm


In all honesty, this hasn't been the bestest of weeks at my house. I'm usually pretty happy here and things run smoothly (aside from the usual hiccups) and then ... voila ... a bad day and it is a trainwreck.

I have to laugh that it is only Thursday because Tuesday and Wednesday were really long. Had a sick child on Monday, lost my sleep and concentration, and am fighting a cold. So I'm not at my optimal level. Homework has been really hard, and my challenged child has struggled more than usual. Apparently just past his frustration level. My mother (a retired teacher) did most of the homework with him at the library yesterday, so I was spared. Younger daughter who crossed the bridge to womanhood last month, is once again in the PMS/MS stage - all frought with anxiety and emotions and tizzies. (From my professional days, I'd say she's full-blown borderline with the "I hate you, don't leave me!" mentality. UGH! Oldest child is riding high on the wave of life, she's got fun stuff on the horizon (Valentine's Day Dance, Father-Daughter Dance, Ski Trip, Modeling Audition) and it seem that her ray of sunlight is annoying the less happy here. Not a good dynamic.

So I need to go to Walmart because that is where oldest daughter located the desired item (a Conair you curl). And we need another fish bowl for the goldfish that the boys won at the Fun Fair (they won coupons for the fish and we don't actually have them yet). And I have to find two-sided fashion tape for the strapless dresses for the Father Daughter Dance. And I have to get creative for the mask-making that the girls want to do since there is a Mardi Gras theme to Saturday nite's dance.

MONEY-WISE, since this is a Financial ForumvSmile and not my own private Idaho in the blogosphere, our refund was deposited yesterday. Nice to see a fat balance on the EF account, but sadly it will be goind to prepay our property taxes, but that will be a big one crossed off the TO PAY list.

I might come in 10% over the projected spending of $185 for two-weeks of groceries, but not by much. I've got the menu planned and have most of the items for the meals, with the exception of a few holes of staples.

Well, off to do laundry (the mountain has accumulated after three days off) and start being productive. I should add this morning started off on a very decent note, and I only hope it continued on the ride to school (I'll have to talk to DH soon). Then it is off to my favorite place in the world ... Walmart! And yesterday my checker-outer happened to have a long beard that was braided (had a very tiny rubberband at the end of it). Embarrassment

Breaking out the cards to shamelessly exploit my child

February 8th, 2012 at 01:24 am

Or so it feels ... Both of my girls are beauties. The older one in an unconventional way (think runway model) and the younger one is more a pagent girl.

Older daugher turned 14 in November. She's 5'7", 90 pounds, willowy thin and has posture to boot (she's been an Irish dancer since 5). She has been called to an open audition on the 18th. Her pictures are amatuer and not professional comp sheets, but at this point, it's fine.

I broke out the Macy's gift card to buy her some decent make-up (Urban Decay) for $13 OOP. We also bought a Homecoming type dress for $30 at JCP (used gift card for that as well). She has the casual jeans and shirt look and also the skirt/blazer look, but was lacking in the party look.

To see her in make up and heels (putting her at 5'10") I'm feeling a bit bad that I'm actually considering exploiting her to get some money to put away for college. To put the younger one in pagents seems a bit less tawdry.

Well, enough of this. It will be interesting to see what/if anything actually comes of this. And I'm getting my eyebrows waxed tomorrow for the first time. Daughter (who had it done in the summer) assures me that it will be fine. My mother is treating. Who thought that eyebrow waxing would ever be a gift on my horizon.

Woe is me ... double-whammy

February 7th, 2012 at 02:03 pm

Insomnia + the inept "evil" math teacher = rough 18 hours for my son and me.

How did I forget about this teacher? She's the one that made life difficult for my oldest daughter (now in 8th grade) when she was in 4th and 5th grade. I have given birth to two concrete thinkers who struggle with non-tangible concepts. Throw on top of it these are my two with perfectionistic tendencies.

Son has some difficulties and academic challenges despite a high IQ. The concept of algebra and inequalities is difficult for him. Then throw in the fact that these are in word problem form. And even if you can answer them, they want to know what strategy was employed to come up with the answer. I appreciate higher-level thinking, but not when foist on a 4th grader.

Round One was 45 minutes yesterday. Happy kid melted into a tantrum, clearly frustrated that I didn't do it the exact way his teacher did it on the board. We calmed down enough to get 1-3 done but "to show work" we had several scratch papers. Round Two was a solid ten minutes when I tried to convince him it was OK if I rewrote the work neatly (he is dysgrafic and frustration at the level it was would produce nothing legible.) I sent the email explaining my rationale for rewriting the work.

Everyone sleeps at night, but I took a nap afternoon because I was bone tired after being up all night with the sick kid who was home yesterday. I watched Stephen King's Thinner before bed, which totally messed with my head and gave me an entire night of dream weirdness.

I barely had enough energy to get up and make breakfast and lunch (I see here the clear benefit of organization here and have no one to blame but myself). And oh yes, younger daughter needs a dress for the Father Daughter Dance THIS Saturday and can we go to the mall today after school? This requires me writing five notes to five teachers saying my kids won't take the bus. And I managed to get the gym shorts wrong, so the youngest had to take black soccer shorts instead of gym shorts and was told by his older brother than he'd get a detention (they don't do that to 1st graders). So I've got one crying child and then the oldest son doesn't want to go to school tos ee *that* teacher, what is she going to say to him? etc, etc.

I see why my one friend homeschools her child with anxiety, though her child has some major general issues and mine has minor specific ones. I should say this was after our school wouldn't allow the 3rd grader to switch teachers and our dear principal suggested medication(!) (Hard to believe for me since she's been so accomodating and helpful with my child) Oh, my I'm sure there are life lessons to be learned in all of this, but I'm not sure what they are.


Thanks for the chance to ramble. I think I'm going back to bed though I shouldn't have plowed through the caffeine. Frown

Do you believe no one wanted

February 6th, 2012 at 11:15 pm


to buy my fine lamps? (Link here, and might I add that there is actually a pair of these)

http://www.theperfectthing.net/pr-oriental-bird-lamps-6427/

My Saddam Huessein mirror sold for $300, and I am the recipient of 1/2 of that. $150 ahead than where I started.

DH is going to reclaim the lamps and pick up the check tomorrow. Any takers here?

Actually they're headed to the consignment store in the other upscale suburb four over from this one.

I should add these were items that were gifted to me, and they were widows and orphans after not finding a place in biological father's mansion.

Birthday Budget: Over by $10.50

February 6th, 2012 at 02:35 pm


Younger duaghter had a budget of $150 for her celebration. That is the going rate for celebrations at our house (and if you're under budget, you get the difference).

Admission for 6 swimmers and 1 spectator to the indoor water park for 6 hours: $130

Little Ceasar's Family Party Park before leaving: $16.00

Carry out at Panda Express (orange chicken) after returning: $14.50

I didn't factor my admission ($10.00). Also the Little Cesar's was dinner for the rest of the family that didn't go with us. I've been stockpiling snacks as they were on sale and I had coupons. I supplemented the orange chicken from Panda Express with my own white rice and two boxes of frozen egg rolls which came from the grocery budget. All in all, it was a grand time, and in leiu of gifts my daughter asked for donations she'll make to the Humane Society. She raised $45, plus her best friends also went in on a gift card to her favorite clothing store ($15).

It was a nice weekend, but busy. The School Fun Fair was Saturday (spent $30 for tickets for the boys which came from the Entertainment Category), and we contributed three cakes to the Cake Walk (from the grocery category). Also had two basketball games and a pizza party.

Hope everyone is off to a good start of the week!

TGIF and Party Day!

February 3rd, 2012 at 01:52 pm


We're a bit off on celebrating birthdays this year, but younger daughter (who turned 13 on 12/22) is finally getting her party. Five friends to an indoor water park a few suburbs over ($120) and Chinese food for dinner and a sleep over are on the books. I grocery shopped yesterday with due dilligence and coupons and feel that I should be able to stay within my parameters. The compromise over the Chinese food was this: I make the rice and home and buy fortune cookies and egg rolls (frozen). I'll pick up the orange chicken from Panda Express to defray total carry out cost. We'll have cake and ice cream and minimal snacks. Donuts and hot chocolate for breakfast. The kids usually get a $150 budget for birthday celebrations so this should be on budget too.

Payday and rent receivable day also. With money on autopilot, I sort of feel like all I'm doing is playing connect the dots for the monthly money snapshot. Older daughter has a ski trip coming up and Graduation pictures, though I'll probably opt for just the class photo and then take her to Penney's or Sears for reasonable packages/prices.

Update of those less fiscal who I am concerned about: BF had major crisis yesterday when she thought she was being paid for workmans' comp claim for the next week, but the workmans' comp representative called to say that the boss and MD in Occupational Health reviewed her situation and decided they could accomodate her. The nature of her injury is a possible stress fracture which will never show up on x-rays, so essentially the extent of the injury is based on self report. Apparently they are doubting her credibity given a spotty call-in sick record and she's already been written up. UPDATE: She had a phone interview through an agency for a maternity position in the school. Pay is decent and they'd like her to start on 2/13. Negative that she is dwelling on: It is only a 13-week assignment. I really had nothing more to contribute to the conversation, and just hope she makes some wise decisions. If she stays in her present situation, she forfeits the right to complain about anything to me.

Brother is doing OK. He's no longer wanted in the office and is being paid through the 29th. He has a second vehicle (a '92 Corvette that my father gave to him). He'll be giving back the company car which has 90,000 miles on it and needs a transmission (wise move). With it almost March, he will be able to use the Corvette as his primary mode of transportation. So he had a new battery and tire put on it yesterday. He seemed OK with the repair bill of $300. He's putting out resumes and just yesterday put out the email that he's ending his affiliation with the firm. We talked about his insurance on the car and house and I thought that maybe he could do better on his monthly premium, so maybe in his spare time he'll do some calling around. I gave him a bag of groceries, mostly rice/cereal/and pasta. He laughed heartily and gave a big thanks. It is nice to help out when one can.

Hope everyone has a great day!

You can't jump from the fire if you don't have a net to catch you.

February 2nd, 2012 at 09:25 pm


That was the profound piece of wisdom I passed on today to my best friend, not sure where I heard that little gem. I had to resort to tough love and really tell her how it is (as I see it based on the information she has provided me).

You know enough about her from my posts: single, no dependents, never married, condo owner, employed in a very hireable field, ADD causes her to make in the moment decision with little regard to long-term consequences, lots of debt, student debt she's not paying on, she's 45, etc.

Her present situation is she is employed in the health field and is well compensated. She works at our local hospital. She injured herself one week ago and was placed on disability/workmans comp, becuase there was concern it was a stress fracture. Stress fractures can't easily be determined, so she thought she was cleared for another week at home. This was after seeing the PT and reporting back to the MD in Occupational Health. Apparently the way the MD who never touched her foot worded his report (something about alternating between sitting and standing) the Workmans' Comp people and her direct boss (whom has already written her up for excessive absences) have decided she CAN work and SHOULD be at work. She (BF) is crazy mad, threatening to "quit right now."

I had to say that IF she had an EF of three months living expsenses, and a budget, and was prudent, maybe she could do it. Since she doesn't have another job lined up (though she is looking) she should just suck it up and go to work today like they expected. She didn't like what I had to say, and said, "Yes, I know. Yes, I know. I *should* have somthing to fall back on." She was mad at me, clearly, for not supporting her plot to quit on the spot. I can't do that.

Lesson: It is best to have a plan. And an EF.

The End.

Shameful confession about grocery spending

February 2nd, 2012 at 02:44 pm

Yesterday I alluded to my overblown spending in my grocery/household/pet category. I lump them all together into "consumables" and while I've tried to track specific categories in the past (dairy/produce/etc) I've gotten quickly bored by such scrutiny, now I simply try to operate in those parameters.

Shameful confession: I spent $629 on that category. This is everyone (7 people, one dog, one turtle and toad, two parrots, and a fish). If I'm prudent I can do it on just under $100 a week (Aldi's plus a supplemental trip to Trader Joes). On average if I'm casual it is $125, but $157 a week, usually never! I did save $162.89 in coupons, buying mostly unnecessary "reasonably priced" snack items and other things. I can't even say that we ate more red meat or splurged on shrimp or wine or other items I consider budget busters.

I had this small goal of tracking my spending to see which option presented the most economical spending option:
(1) Several big-chain stores (where I live Jewel/Dominicks/CVS or Walgreens) where I diligently matched circular ads to coupons and planned my menu around those items.
(2) One or two large trips in a month to Sam's Club stocking up on majorly used items and supplementing with small trips weekly to a closer store.
(3) By good old stand-by of Aldi's. Using my own menu plan and price list and shopping once a week.

Clearly the option 1 isn't really the way to go for me. Spending too much time looking through ads and coupons and then driving too many places for "one day only deals" (like $5 pizzas on Fridays from Dominicks).

My goal for February: To get back down to $115 per week. Tomorrow starts the official "February Spending Cycle" at my house with DH's paycheck. I am doing one last run to Dominick's for the upcoming week's groceries and I plan to spend $50 after a $25 coupon. I've got a detailed plan down to snacks and breakfast foods and lunch items.

After that, it is a return to Aldi's for me for the remainder of the month.

My last thrilling haul of coupon use ended yesterday when I spent $14 after a coupon savings of $22. What did I buy? Bic mechanical pencils (2), feminine hygiene product (1), six Protein bars for DH, four cans of Pringles, two boxes of Fiber One cereal, three bags of Kraft Homestyle Mac and Cheese (to share with soon to be unemployed brother), and a 12-pack of toilet paper. Took me 70 minutes to accomplish the above, stopping at five different stores (I used ECB and Walgreen's rebate dollars) and one store offered 5 double coupons (up to $1) and I had 8. The thrill of that haul will have to carry me through to awhile.

Time to dust off my binder of recipes and go back to scratch. What do my kids love more for breakfast? A bowl of cereal and milk or my homemade apple muffins? The muffins. Which is cheaper for a family my size? The muffins. Which is probably healthire for my family? The muffins. And when they get tired of muffins, there is the old standy of chocolate chip waffles. I'm misguided by the thrill of buying that box of cereal for $1.34. Who really ultimately cares?

If you're still following, thanks for following me on my mulling over my poor money management in the consumables department. Smile

Lost my long post :( Quick Recap

February 1st, 2012 at 03:43 pm

Wow, hard to believe it is February already! Yesterday's 60 degree weather had me thinking Easter should be right around the corner! One year ago today Chicago was in the middle of the blizzard that dumped 13" of snow in a 24-hour period. Today it is warm and overcast.

January's finances were on autopilot. I was not pleased with how I managed (or didn't) the grocery budget. I feel that my budgeted amount is reasonable, but I blew it by spending money on items that weren't necessarily needed but I had coupons for. I must break hold of the allure of couponing.

Feb Goal: Stay within grocery budget!! "How?" you ask, given how much you spent last month? Menu plan and price list from Aldi's. That's it. Skip the circulars and coupons and the drama of that for the month of Feb. Plug pulled! I'm fine on dog food and personal care items, so that should give a bit of breathing room. Also transfer two Rxs from Osco to Dominick's to take advantage of their $25 off of $50 coupons.

I am pleased with the amount that we didn't spend on extraneous things. There were expenses for the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby Cars, but we used 50% off coupons at Michaels. For clothing I spent just uunder $20 buying DS jeans and DH a shirt at the resale store, and buying younger daughter's swimsuit on clearance at Kohl's for $10.

Passive Income Challenge: Presently at $350 with another $81.33 coming in February.

Still waiting on federal tax refund direct deposit. Turbo Tax said 2/1 was the deposit date, with the IRS website saying 2/7. Please, give me my money back! Smile

Gift card challenge: January I ended up redeeming points for a $10 Target Card and we got the $50 Prepaid Visa from switching our energy provider (I forgot about that so it was a nice suprise).

Financial concerns: DH is contemplating a change of career of sorts which would represent less income and I'm wondering what our long-term financial moves should be. Sell rental property and become virtually mortgage-free now? Downsize to a smaller house in the near future? Lots of things to think about and mull over. I have also found it necessary to have some boundaries in listening to other people about their money concerns because it has a sort of residual negative affect on me, causing me to worry needlessly about my own situation. Best friend is now on short-term disabilty (but I fear it is laziness that it keeping her in her present situation) and brother's situation isn't really looking up given lack of severence, lack of interest in the resumes he's putting out, and lack of things like reliable transportation and health insurance. Me oh my!

Off to catch up on others' blogs now!