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Archive for April, 2012

Happy Day and Rambles

April 26th, 2012 at 01:24 pm


Happy for no particular reason, except that life is good. All children accompanied their father to "Take Your Child To Work Day" at the major office supply store's HQ that employs DH. DH took the Steak N Shake coupon and said he'd figure out the cheapest way to do it (Big pat on his back!), as we're going away next weekend (Fri-Sat) for our 8th grader's participation in the State Science Fair (where I happen to be a judge-I sometimes forget that I do have the benefit of higher education Smile which makes me qualified to judge "Behavioral Science" categories).

DH mentioned that there is rumor again that the future of his company is uncertain. I no longer quickly cave into that place of fear and quaking (How will we live? What will we do?), because I have a plan. And in the event that something like that were to happen, DH would most likely pursue the direction that he really wants to go.

I'm going shopping today with my mom for blinds for my kitchen. We've been without them for several years and I keep saying I'd like to buy some, but my money(which is limited) always goes for something else. This is my Mother's Day gift. DH measured and I'm looking forward to sprucing up the house. Nothing major, just a few things to make it spring-y and summer-y. (Read that as: color)

Tomorrow I'll be restocking the consumables (groceries and gas). Today will be another NSD.

Hope everyone has a good day!

Yesterday's spending

April 25th, 2012 at 02:24 pm


was nil, so another NSD.

Funny how I've slipped into the mindset that this is the norm, or at least the goal.

Today's spending:
$12.02 in gas (pay day is Friday and fumes won't work for DH's car, though I told him next time to take mine, which has gas because I've been mostly housebound).

I'm anticipating $15 in groceries (cereal is on sale at Walgreens and I need sugar and frozen veggies).

Tomorrow should be a NSD. Friday: Spend-fest (gas for both cars, shopping for daughter's Confirmation Celebration (paper products/decorations) and groceries.

Other than that, not much news. Sickling returned to school for the first day this week and I'm hoping he makes it through the entire day. He's been averaging 12+ hours of sleep battling this sinus-infection-turned-worst-ear-infection. Now that he's feeling better we get to start him on nasal spray. Joy.

Schlepping along ...

April 24th, 2012 at 01:43 pm


Sickling is home yet again today. He was complaining of ear pain yesterday moreso than the day prior, and there was discharge in his ear, so I'm thinking perforated ear drum. Older daughter experienced that, so we'll deifnitely keep the follow-up appointment next week. Anyhow, sickling slept through the night and is still sleeping. This means that I am housebound today, too.

Spent $9 yesterday. This was for a digital photo of older daughter being confirmed. The parish hired a professional photographer who got pictures of the Confirmandi with the Bishop and their sponsors. We definitely lucked out with a successful photo. Well worth the $9. Smile We're having our Confirmation celebration (a small luncheon) on Saturday and we're breaking out the chocolate fountain.

The Confirmation was a beautiful service, but very long with 100 Confirmandi. We only had four tickets and ended up bringing younger daughter with us. Sickling and his cohort stayed home with Grandpa. My mother (sponsor) commented how articulate daughter was when the Bishop asked her about her Confirmation name. Daughter is very shy and quiet and deflects any public attention. She apparently had a nice chat with the Bishop about the admirable traits of St. Isabella of Portugal. Smile

Money-wise, don't see much spending the remainder of the week. I will need to purchase lunch meat and cereal and make the $24.00 trumpet payment, but other than that ... not much on the short-term horizon.

Monday Musings

April 23rd, 2012 at 12:48 pm


Or "The Lost Weekend" ...

1st Grade son was home sick on Thursday. He complained of jaw pain and has molars coming in on that side. Friday night into Saturday, NO sleep, chronic severe pain. Sat AM pediatrician says glaringly to me, "This is one of the worst ear infections I've seen. It is REALLY bad. He must have an incredibly high threshhold for pain." Talk about making me feel like the most neglectful mother in the world. I sputtered somthing about no fever and molars. Anyhow, took me a minute to realize the totality of the situation (aka I'm not a bad mother) and get the RX and get out of there.

The result of this has been: $5 for Little Cesar's pizza because I was too tired to cook, $5 at Family Video for two new main stream movies, and $5 at CVS for Ibuprofin and monkey's favorite candy bar.

He's home again today after *yet* another night of interrupted sleep. I know the line up of the Disney Channel from about 1:30 - 3:45 AM. Everyone else is off for their day and I'm going back to bed.

Daughter's Confirmation is tonight at 7:00. Our celebration is Saturday. Hopefully I'll be caught up on sleep by then.

Went to the Mother-Daughter Luncheon at Church yesterday. Very nice time indeed, good conversation between the three generations. This is sponsored by the CCW which nominated my daughter for the scholarship which she was a recipient of. She is a shy girl, but managed well when our pastor came up and congratulated her. (He wrote a wonderful letter of recommendation for another scholarship we're waiting on and commented on her "quiet nature is in harmony with her helper's heart" Smile ) And at the end of the Luncheon the President of the CCW announced she was the recipient and she did well with applause and said an audible "thank you" with a big smile. Cost for tickets: $40 (though OOP was $20 - my mom paid for half).

Spent rougly $130 on groceries/household on Friday. Higher than I wanted to, but I was low on things like dog shampoo and ear wash, poop bags, and bird food. Gas was lower becase I'm driving less.

Happy Monday all!

And the answer to the question is:

April 19th, 2012 at 01:04 pm


Yes. This what the letter reads:

Dear *D*,

CONGRATULATIONS! On behalf of the JDCCW and the Bishop Blanchette Scholarship Monitoring Committee, it is an honor and privilege to inform you that you have been selected as one of the 2012 BBSF Scholarship recipients. This year's award is for $3,000.

(The next paragraphs state that there will be the awards presentation at our Parish's Pastoral Center on May 17th. The Bishop that is confirming my daughter on 4/23 will also be presiding. All family and friends are warmly invited to attend this happy occasion. A reception will be following. My daughter is invited to be a gift bearer at the Mass. The check will be sent to the school in August.)

We wish you a succesfful year in your endeavors in high school. We would enjoy hearing from you some time during the year sot hat we know how you are doing.

Sincerely,

Chairman

***************************************************

The scholarship is double the amount that was previously stated. This means that at March's Luncheon of the CCW members of our parish, members were very generous. This reminds me that even small $15 donations when pooled together, add up and can make a big difference.

This has reduced the tuition bill from $9K to $6K. My daughter has applied for another scholarship for $20K, five for each for years of tuition. There are 27 of those, and we think that based on her academic strengths, our (DH and I) volunteer commitment to the Catholic faith, and our financial needs, she's probably a strong candidate for one of those too.

So for all the worrying that I have done in the past, I should really remind myself that it all does work out in the end. My faith tells me that. But my daughter also pointed out that faith doesn't always need to be in God, though for most it is. She had a great discussion with me about "Faith in Humanity" and she wrote a beautiful essay about it for school. It was inspired by the Holocaust reading that they're doing for 8th grade.

So, anyhow, the blessing train definitely stopped at my house yesterday. Big Grin

Could it be that this is

April 18th, 2012 at 08:38 pm


notification of a scholarship?

My daughter (who isn't here) has received in the mail an envelope hand-addressed to her (full name). It is from our diocese's CCW and she was the nominee from our parish for a scholarship for parochial high school (based on financial need and academic strength).

I really hope she is the/a recipient. It is $1,500 towards a hefty tuition price.

I really wish she were here right now to open it. The suspense is killing me! LOL! Well, I'll hope it is good financial news! She's a great child and a great student and ...

I'll let you know what the answer to the question is!

Mid-Week Update

April 18th, 2012 at 01:20 pm

The last day that money was spent at my house was last Friday. Today is scheduled spending for a trash sticker (in our community, the garbage truck only picks up refuse that is "tagged") and avocados; I know, really exciting, huh?! It's the last day of the buy one, get one free sale at Dominick's for the avocados, so I'll get a few of those.

My 92 year old grandma IS coming from California for my older daughter's 8th grade graduation. The graduation is 6/2. My grandma will be here to see the kids' Spring Sing (our school's most ambitious musical production of the year) and also my girls' dance studio's school competition. The weather will be nice and we've got the low-key "fun" things to do (tram ride at the Arboretum, lunching out, having Gma watch us bowl). This also means that our trip to California can move to next June (more time to save!)

My brother has gone from part-time to full-time employment, with benefits, at the firm he worked at prior to joining the one he was ousted from. This means with a clearn conscience I can hit him up for the $40 that he owes me. Smile

Spent some time yesterday planning the grocery spending for the remainder of this two-week period. Looks like it will pay to do some multiple-stop shopping (CVS has razors on sale that will also yield ECB, Walgreens has a few items, and Dominck's sale also has some regularly eaten items for my house on sale and I've got coupons). So it all looks fine (meaning I predict no "over spending" this go-around).

Hope all are having a good week! Off to catch up on the blogs. Smile

The thrill continues ...

April 17th, 2012 at 01:08 pm


That is the thrill of NSDs continues. It was a No Spend weekend (first ever possibly?) Yesterday was also a NSD, as today will be.

Spent a lot on Friday, gas into both cars and a major grocery shopping trip. Also spent $20 for the kids to go rollerskating (had coupons and brought some skates).

Not much new on any front. With a bit of planning, I'm staying ahead of things. The biggest thing I had looming (creating the registration forms for my parish's youth summer programs), I finished on Sunday. Now I'm forcing myself daily to take care of one small task associated with the volunteer work. And I'm becoming better organized for the volunteer work that we (DH and I) do but are at stand stills.

Well, that's it for the Tuesday check-in. And tomorrow's planned spending should be no more than $10 (two trash stickers and six avocados - last day of the buy one, get one free sale)!

For the first time in eons ...

April 15th, 2012 at 11:24 pm


it was a NSW (weekend)!

Yesterday, soccer games and library DVDs were the free entertainment.

Today, geocaching with a good family friend!

Wa-hoo!

So glad that yesterday is over!

April 13th, 2012 at 01:42 pm


What a day it was, yesterday.

Older daughter went to the optometrist (my mother's) to see about contact lenses. I have a strong gag reflex which makes dental work difficult. My daughter has a strong blink reflex which makes eye work difficult. Her Rxs are different in each eye, and the Dr. put the wrong contact in the wrong eye, which was dilated and she had blurry vision. He then passed my daughter quickly off to a less than proficient "lens tech" who ultimately had to removed my daughter's lenses for her, due to her blink reflex, sqeamishness, watering eyes and blurry vision. Daughter will go back again and work with a different technician. I'm not a lens wearer so I'm of no help. My mother wears lenses, so she gave my duaghter an impromptu lesson demonstrating with her own lenses. The stress of that excursion left both of us exhausted.

DD then had to move on to the first day of the Clinic for the dance team tryouts for high school. She ended up getting her period (sorry if that is TMI) and wasn't feeling well. She's not proficient in one-handed cartwheels, toe-touches, or splits, so she's rethinking whether or not she'll return. Can't say that I blame her, because with the schedule and commitment to the Dance Team she'd have to cut back on Irish Dance, and I don't know if I see that happening. On a happy note, DD did well enough on the Spanish Proficiency Test to be placed in Spanish II in the Fall. I loved Spanish and my kids had the Usborne Into to Spanish book when they were little, so I suppose I'll be reviewing conjugation with DD this summer to keep her skills current.

Cub Scouts wrapped up last night with the graduation of the Tigers to Wolfs (DH is the leader) and then some recognition for our Webelo I (of which I'm co-leader). I was feeling a bit miffed at my co-leader who has fallen off the face of the earth, leaving me to sort of flounder. Come to find out that her son has been having debilitating migraines for months now and they haven't determined the cause, nor can they have successful management of the symptoms. Lesson to self: Sometimes, L, there is more to the picture than you know. Do what you can, realize it's enough.

Payday and rental property income coming in today. Outgoing:
Com Ed Electric Bill: $85.00
Nicor Gas Bill: $61 (Budget plan amount)
Student Loan Payment: $38.50

I'm grocery shopping today and paying for our summer membership to a pool one suburb over (savings of $180 over last year's membership at a pool at a different local suburb). Will be $324 (I have $200 and $124 coming from extraneous budgeted category).

Then it's a roller skating afternoon (taking several kids plus friends) and then both girls will be at sleepovers.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Ready to eat, coming late to the table. Am I dressed OK?

April 12th, 2012 at 01:34 pm


I'm late to join the daily tracking expenses, partially because I was shamed by own lack of self-control and over-spending for the pay period ending today. But I'm ready to join in, tracking the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Spending for 4/11:

$21.63 - Play It Again Sports, soccer cleats and shin guards. Used.

$10.64 - Clothing, $4.83 for swimsuit NWT at resale shop, $5.81 nightgown on clearance at Target for 80% off.

$14.02 - Walmart for groceries to get thru til Fri (milk/2 L of soda/Gatorade/one can dog food and treats/box of cereal/cupcakes for lunches)

$3.37 - Utilies: Trash sticker

Total Spent: $49.66
Remaining balance in checkbook: $.38 (Not really, but my credit card payment is scheduled to leave the account tomorrow, and I am in the black after the payment, with only $.38.)

Strategy to combat this lack of impulse control and poor planning: CASH ONLY THIS WEEK!

We're OK with at least some gas in the cars, so it won't be what we usually spend to fill up on payday. I'll be using the last $25 off of $50 coupon at Dominick's for transferring an RX. I plan on stocking up on chicken breasts/tilaia/ground beef (though not sure how far $50 will go). Note to self: Read fine print on coupon - I know it doesn't apply to dairy. Meal planning here is key, and not according to sale ads/coupons for the next two weeks. At least here I'll be forced to be accountable.

My esteem has taken a small beating lately, due to my own self-comparisons. I am by no stetch a flashy/blingy individual. DS said to me two weeks ago in a sad sort of way, "Gee, Mom, you don't have a lot of clothes, do you? M's mom did lunch duty every day for a month and didn't wear the same thing twice." Then when I was at the grocery store yesterday, the clerk at the customer service desk where I was buying my trash sticker lowered her voice and said, "Me, too. I have the same sweater and have been wearing it for twenty years!!"

I was lucky enough to have four big bags of hand-me-downs from my brother's girlfriend, access was offered in a very nice way so I felt that I wasn't exactly a charity case. My husband is recipient to my brother's stuff and has been for eons. Anyhow, this girlfriend that he is quite serious about, is my size and has similar taste and style, so I was able to find a nice pair of leather boots (real leather, I might add), a large black leather handbag and wallet (that I promptly moved into), three dresses (one red and black that I'll wear to my daughter's Confirmation, and the other two are black), a dressy top, a pair of capris and a pair of jeans (though it is taking some time to get used to "low rise" clothing).

You'd think that in my early 40s I be over this sort of thing. Apparently not.

Spending fast? Yes. Spending fast? Defiitely

April 10th, 2012 at 01:41 pm

I usually tend to underestimate and overspend when it comes closer to the holiday events that we are hosting (Christmas, Easter, etc). This year I had the bestest of intentions to "remain in budget". I did fairly well the two week spending period just prior to this one, using free haircut coupons for the boys, good grocery savings stacking coupons with sale prices, etc. But this go around (that end on Thursday), I sort of lost control of the spending, and sadly, on noting frivolous.

The first question refers to the alarming rate that I spent money. Was I "spending fast"? YES. I was derailed mostly by groceries. Seemed to me I was always running to the store to pick up a few items (all on sale with coupons of course), but the cupboards were always sort of odd and empty. I'd buy for three days, but by the second day end, it was looking scarce again. Odd. I finally had to go to Walmart and stock up on regular items (cereal, pasta, yogurt and cheese, a few snacks, frozen chicken tenderloins, etc.) I also shopped with DH that trip and he needed a new pair of work out shorts (as he's shrinking, not really shrinking, but doing a low-carb diet and is down about another 15 pounds).

As far as Easter basket items, I was carefully compiling a list of things that people said they needed/liked/wanted. For my girls it was things like a make up mirror (which I bought at Bed Bath and Beyond and ued a $5 off coupon), the new Clearasil soap pump ($3 off coupon), some products from Bath & Body Works (spent $24, after $6 savings), some make up items (all purchased on sale). I bought oldest son the Harry Potter Lego Bus and used a $20 gift card. The younger guys were already purchased (Lego items on sale after Christmas). I refrained from any stuffed bunnies, plastic items, etc. So while I spent the same amount that I usually do, it seemed to go much farther. I spent $2 on wrapping paper at the Dollar Tree, so everyone got a wrapped gift from the Bunny plus their basket of candy.

I also underestimated on the amount of gas we are spending, grossly underestimated. Frown Consequentially, my driving will be very limited for the next two week period.

So, the second question is: Will you be participating in a "spending fast" for the next two week period starting 4/13? An astounding yes. I will only be purchasing consumables as in groceries and gas. The sole point of this exercise will be to use the excess (saved amount) to start the following two week period (4/27) with fully funded budget categories for the time period following.

Oh, this is sort of the equivalent to the "carb crash" that DH and stepdad had after Easter brunch. The last item that I need to purchase tomorrow are new soccer cleats for oldest son. We'll go to Play It Again Sports and I'm planning on spending $15.

Also, since grocery shopping was my major budget drain, I'm allowing myself a once weekly shopping trip to Walmart and Aldi's. Our Walmart has a limited selection of fresh fruit and veggies - thus Aldi's. I will be skipping the sale ads altogether. I won't be worrying about coupon savings for the next two week period. I'll also be making snacks from scratch (chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, rice crispie treats, apple muffins) and will try to limit dryer use. To think that I lived EIGHT MONTHS without a dryer. I'm so used to just tossing the clothes fromt he washer into the dryer, I certainly can find a happy middle to non-use versus over-use.

Alright, I got all the money stuff out of my mind. Wish me luck as I fast!

Good Friday not so Good :(

April 6th, 2012 at 09:35 pm


Older daughter is trying out for the high school dance team later on this month and is concerned she isn't as flexible as she should or could be. This means daily stretching exercises and things. Younger daughter is flexible to boot and was showing off some odd tricks yesterday, weird body contortionist type things involving laying on her back, balling up into a little shape and putting her knees on the ground next to her ear. I can describe it in no other ways, it is just odd.

Fast forward to this morning: Younger daughter is laying in bed crying and sceaming that she can't move her neck. An hour after ibuprofin and heating pads we were able to get her to a more sitting position. After another two hours we were able to get her down stairs. She had an appointment at the doctor at 1:00 PM. The pediatrician rule out meningitis, and anything skeletal. However, when she had daughter move her head from left to right, daughter did, but then said she didn't feel well, her ears started to ring, her vision blurred, and she fainted because of the pain. Based on that they did five x-rays which showed no injury, just muscle spasms. So after 1.5 hours, daughter is on a muscle relaxer and drinking Gatorade. Frown

Our plans for today were to go down to the Shedd Aquairum and the Lincoln Park Convervatory. I must remind myself that neither of those are going anywhere and warmer weather is right around the corner. Gratitude for my blessings, as CJ stated. I am thankful that my child didn't seriously injur herself. I am glad that DH was home to stay with everyone else while I took daughter to the doc. I am thankful that my parents were at the store and got the Gatorade that I forgot. I am thankful that DH took the remaining kids rollerskating for "fun" and I can catch up on my sleep. Stress has a wretched way of making me very tired. My blood pressure went through the roof with the fainting spell.

Tomorrow we're heading to an Easter Egg Hunt in the morning, then coloring our own eggs, and then Easter Vigil at 8:00 PM, a new tradition for us. My kids can sit through a 2 hour Latin Mass, so I think that the Easter Vigil, which is a lenghty service with seven readings, will be just fine.

Sunday: Brunch at my house (ham, cornbread casserole, green bean casserole, jello, rolls, mashed potatoes) and the traditional viewing of "The Easter Parade" one of my all-time favorite movies.

A Happy Easter to all of my Christian friends. A Happy Spring Weekend to all of my friends of other persuasions. I am blessed to be part of this community.

What was the point?

April 3rd, 2012 at 01:13 pm


Of sending the children to school for three days, sandwiched in between Spring Break and Easter Break? (Being we're Catholic and Holy Week is impotant, our kids have off Thursday-Monday). We quickly lapsed into a summer routine of sleeping in (an average wake up time of 9:15-9:45 was the norm). And on top of it, it's a busy week with some planning meeting for me for VBS and DH is wrapping up the Tiger Scout activities. Looking at the calendar we are entering that final phase of frenzied activities through school year end: Band Concert, Spring Musical VIP Show, Confirmation, trip to State for Science Fair, daughter's 8th grade outings to the White Sox game and Great America, and finally Graduation. Whoosh, I'm tired looking at it.

Time to get back into the saddle of organization! Right? Well, I'd better get myself busy. I'm presently disorganized, I suppose it had to do with really slipping into "summer mode". I did haul away six huge bags of stuff (closets and drawers were cleaned out) and sadly there is WAY MORE TO GO! Three big bags went to Amvets drop off center at Walmart and three were hand-me-downs to a friend's family. I suppose I've been bit by the Spring Cleaning bug, too.

Off to be productive! Moneywise, it is all on autopilot. Practicing restraint in spending options. Was very thrilled to find milk for $1.78 a gallon at Walmart (about $1 less than anywhere else). Gas is still too high, so I'm driving less.

Oldest son saved enough money to buy an iPod. He's in 4th grade and a diligent saver. Smile Now that he is starting over again in the savings department, he is pondering what his next big purchase will be. Last year he saved the $150 to buy Harry Potter's Hogwarts Lego version. Now the $180 for the iPod. Who know what is next.

Daughter had the consult for invisalign. She's a candidate as her dental issues aren't that severe and her metal allergy precludes her from conventional wires in her mouth. The cost: $4,500 for 9 months worth of work. I have to check around because I think we can do it for less that that. And of course if I signed yesterday AND paid, I'd get a 5% reduction if paid in full. Smile

Possibly planning big trip to California this summer if my grandmother doesn't come to visit. She thought she might be here for my daughter's Graduation. Then she thought she might not really want to come. At 92 she can change her mind; but I do want to see her, so it looks like I'll (and my group) be going out there. Time to start seeing what I can sell and rounding up the piddly funds to get a big vacation fund in place. Smile

Now I'm really off to find my productivity!