Home > Archive: February, 2012

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.


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)

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!


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.

The cost of education 30 years ago

February 15th, 2012 at 01:09 am

My parochial high school cost $1,200 when I attended it. My oldest child is heading there this fall and the annual tuition is $9,175. I should add here that we won't be paying that much. My children have received grants of $500 to $1K each annually, and this child will most likely a $20K scholarship to cover $5K per year.

There was an interesting chain of events today that made for a change of attitude. I've been careful to be a blank slate when it comes to this child's choice of where she'd like to attend high school. I feel that maybe my lack of enthusiasm for my alma mater (not that I had that much enthusiasm because I didn't learn to like school til college) painted an air of disapproval about it.

Her 1st choice for school was high competitive, 504 students vying for 330 positions of which 75% were legacy (if you have a parent, grandparent or sibling who are alumni you get a go to the front of the line ticket). So this is her fallback. Because she has legacy from me at school *M* I had to get the paperwork in ASAP. My registration fee check fell out of the trifolded papers when I put it in the envelope and dropped it off.

I found my check two hours later and headed back to the school early afternoon. The secretary had the paperwork and read my maiden name very loudly. Her husband who was paritally deaf restated my maiden name very loudly wanted to know if I'm from a prominent family of builders (which I am). My old gym teacher is now the Vice Principal and she heard the name, came and gave me a big hug, and gave me a tour of the new additions and all the wonderful things which changed over 30 years. As we're heading back to the office I see the parents of one of my daughter's classmates who will probably be attending this school too. While we're there talking this man walks out and I recognize he was my Homecoming Date junior year. He recognized me too and said "I think you were my date to Homecoming." I had to laugh and say, "I think I was your date."

I clued my daughter in to the events with lots of laughs, we pulled out my yearbooks and looked at those. She found out that she wasn't the only one who didn't get into School A, and now there are a few more potential people headed to School B. She then said to me, "Well, it might be nice to go to a smaller school. Maybe." (180 versus 330)

I had to tell her that wherever she want to go is fine, but she might want to keep an open mind about it. And low and behold, they offer AP Math and Science classes which offer college credit for the child right behind her, and they offer academic support services in school for students with learning difficulties (I have one with dyslexia and dysgraphia). Maybe this might be the place for all of them?

Interesting what a change in attitude can do. And it is interesting to also see what the cost is now, a 1/4 of a century later.

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.