The last few weeks about once every three times I turn my computer on it says there is no hard drive. I mentioned it to my tech support (husband) and made a mental note to back up some important 'stuff'. Of course you know how well mental notes work on me!
Actually I wasn't that bad I asked him how to go about it, and he said umm no DVD burner? will take forever on CD...(and I didn't point out my CD burner hasn't worked in years).
So instead I took my pictures folder and copied it over to my second hard drive...might not be perfect, but at least they are in two places. (yes I have two, he bought himself a new one several years ago, and I got his old plus mine - still only adds up to 40Gigs though)
I got my husband to agree to a rule that I am sticking to...no new computer parts until the car is paid off... AT the time I thought going 4 years between computer upgrades wouldn't be that hard....I forgot how often we use them! (old habit was a couple hundred spent on something new, hard drives or video cards or something about every 2 years)
Archive for January, 2008
The last few weeks about once every three times I turn my computer on it says there is no hard drive. I mentioned it to my tech support (husband) and made a mental note to back up some important 'stuff'. Of course you know how well mental notes work on me!
Mine sort of is...but I think I have low standards...Discussing Games nights here, a friend was surprised that we are ready for any Friday, and frequently get guests on supposed 'off Fridays'.
We don't mind, any time we can play games and hang out with grown ups for free is cool with us.
Now truth to tell if you object to dust, sorry the kids are the only ones who dust, and not very well. or if you mind that the floor will be swept after I say hello, well it needs done after every meal, and dinner was just finished (and snack time is soon, so if you weren't here we cheat and do it after both...)
Or if you object to the stack of Christmas boxes on one chair in the living room..well I can't reach where they belong anymore (husbands stuff in my way) so umm sit on one of the other chairs please. If any of that bothers you, then no we are not company ready.
I would rather have company than feel worked up into needing a perfect house every time someone came over...just do give me 15 minutes of warning so I can make the kids clean up their mess and fill the dishwasher.
If you were going to treat to pizza for 11 people, how much would you expect to pay? thats 4 adults, 4 teens and 3 of my kids....Wait take out my kids, they got free book it pizza....So I guess it was only 8.
Total cost was actually $27...I really expected more.
Not to often I get surprised with a lower cost than expected
Of course you have to increase the days food cost, we try to take funish food to snack on while there...mostly because my family eats constantly... and it annoys me to be eating while others turn up their noses...
So WW. ritz, some fancy cheese, and summer sausage was the junk of the week.
Now I just have to figure out what to bring this week...the girls wanted to make more of the valentine 'bugs' (pipe cleaners wrapped around tubes of bubbles..attach googly eyes and paper wings..) So we will have to go this Sunday.
So in the hunt for my sons math book, (ordered on ebay, being shipped today I hope) I went through the list of all the programs I knew of and thought about what would be best for him to learn with. And while I picked Saxon for him, I do NOT want Saxon for my daughter..she needs pretty flowers and fun graphics on her work...she is younger still. Plus she really is in about the middle of the year for math, and stuck...improving on old skills, but not progressing forward.
I don't know why, but my next attempt to move her will be with a 'new book' It worked on GMC (though I hadn't planned it that way.) So my memory of options came up with Abecka or Horizons..two programs I recall having lots of pretty pictures on each work page (and being a bit umm easier). Fluff and filler may not be educational, but it is fun for kids.
Unfortunately no one on ebay is selling either...and I really don't want to pay full price...
Bringing up the idea..it is WAY cheaper for a kid to know more! GMCs math is cheaper merely because it is an older grade...one that I can find Abecka and Horizons in! But I can't find JCs level... Just like clothing, the stuff in your kids size is never the stuff on sale!
My kids all have 'morning chores'...And the goal is to have them done by 10am including breakfast, and getting ready for the day (yeah so we aren't in much of a hurry..it is good to home school)
Anyway, the amount of work would take an adult less than 20 minutes plus eating and showering..make it an hour. (Gmc usually starts around 8am)
They on the other hand have a HUGE problem getting done lately. I started offering a reward for completing work, a star for each day they both get done, and a special surprise for 3 days of stars. Well JC got a star each and every day. GMC on the other hand only made it twice.
So I decided JC deserves a reward, she didn't pout when she noticed her brother talking to himself and not working, but I could see the disappointed look. She had to have been thinking "I worked hard and I don't get anything because he wont."
Now I actually have to come up with the reward! Today we picked Dave and Busters, we need to go to the grocery store which is right beside it sortof. So 'us girls' will head off to the fun arcade, and the boys will go grocery shopping.
She happens to have money, so the treat is me taking her, the money for the arcade comes from her own stash Though I think I will put some in ING for her just remove it from the 'spendable total'..that way I can hear less "can I buy that pink thing?" Half the time it is a totally useless item for a kid, like a pink car air freshener or something, she just wants to spend on pink! ugh.
I thought I was set on math worksheets for my oldest, but now it turns out the Singapore math book is written in..for the most essential fraction section!
Now I have to scramble to find something for him to do, he needs review of division, and multiplication (3 digit) and fraction work.
I am looking into finding a saxon math book on ebay, I think at this level they are hardback reusable books.
Did I mention phooey?
I was cold yesterday, so I thought I would walk out to the mailbox..to remind myself it could be worse, I could be without a house!
In the mail was a gas bill, perfect timing (gas heat) I figured I could look at the bill suffer some sticker shock at the price and be thankful for a warm sweater.
Instead I found a bill of 67.66 Now no it isn't cheap, but compared to previous years of 80 dollar gas bills in January, it was nice. I peeked at the graph to see how we compared 'thermwise' to last year. 55 last year and only 42 this year! Wow I thought pretty nifty. The average temp (also info on the bill) was 50 degrees last year and 47 this year, so life was colder and we still spent less!
Then I caught the 'days' entry, last January was a bill for 39 days, this year only 31 (I have no idea why they bill such odd cycles)
Phooey, now I have to do the math to see if we are really spending less. Errr let me go get my math brain son....
Last year... 55therms/39 days = 1.41th/dy
This year... 42 therms/31 days = 1.35th/dy
So a smidgen less this year than last. Nothing to write home about really.
Read any pregnancy book and you are likely to get a hint at some of the costs. Aside from the medical care, there are clothing costs and usually some mention of extra food is made.
Unfortunately that is missing a large chunk of change every pregnant woman has to dish out, for things we don't like to mention.
First the most non acceptable topic, Bathroom breaks. Sure we joke about having to go 10 or more times in the morning alone, but does anyone point out the vast amounts of TP one goes through when visiting the John every half hour? So you think TP is fairly inexpensive... but then you are buying for 3-5 trips a day, not 10-20! Quadruple your TP expense for about 1 year (you will need to visit more after birth too, until your pelvic floor muscles recover..if they do.)
Then on to food. Everyone knows a pregnant woman needs to eat more, though surprisingly only about 300 calories more. But those 300 calories somewhere in the later months will have to be split into two or more meals, due to a cramped stomach! This means a major increase in dishes, one set washed for breakfast, one for second breakfast, one for elevensies, one for lunch, one for afternoon snack, one for afternoon tea, one for dinner, and one for second dinner, oh and of course the midnight snack. Going from 4 meals of dishes a day to 9 is almost double the dishes, needing water and soap paid for to keep them clean. (or a lot of take out)
Add to all that food the frequent, nausea and loss of food, and you have one major amount of cleaning to be done.
Then there is lost work time..not just in paid work, though many women work for pay every day of pregnancy, even making up time spent at Drs. Somewhere else in life some tasks are skipped. Maybe it is those dishes- leaving crusted on food for to long leads to more water needed to clean it. Or it could be filing- risking some bill going missing and unpaid. Or for most women the most common tasks ignored is..the spouse. Sorry Hunny we are busy with a baby and all the other tasks of life. - possibly leading up to marital distress, and that is the most expensive risk of pregnancy!
Men if you are reading, take heart, she wont be pregnant forever, so go buy some extra TP, wash the dishes, ask her what chore would most help, and you just might be bumped up her priority list. If she isn't too sick...
I have cute kids if I do say so myself (and I do, frequently)
The latest from GMC came just after some torrential rain started Friday night. He mentioned it was really raining a lot. I replied yep, it does that. He suggested "Maybe God decided the drought was over"
On the one hand, Sooo cute. On the other hand he falls into the classic problem in a drought, one good rain and folks thing they can stop conserving.
JC had a cute line this morning. I was making oatmeal and happened to place it on the table before stirring in the brown sugar and cinnamon. "Oatmeal is all white?" in that why are we eating white food tone. You see with all the attempts to teach my kids that whole grains are better I fall into mentioning 'white flour' as evil all to often. So now she wants to know why I think Oatmeal is good for them when it is pasty white!
I noticed this morning that if I get one more oatmeal eater, I am going to have to learn to cook the stuff on the stove! microwave directions are not recommended for more than one serving, and my bowl is too small for more than 2. (one adult, three small kids, who are also eating fruit and nuts...)
Being a computer geek family we always want to play games for kids and adults. Being an education minded homeschooling family, we try to find educational games to fill that desire. (at least for the kids)
Over the years I have learned a thing or two about the two 'big name' computer games. I thought I would share, for anyone interested in buying one or the other. Don't go suing me if your game differs, I am just a mom.
Reader Rabbit generally has a simple plot with basic skills covered in the course of a mission. At 3rd grade RR becomes 'Clue Finders'. The same company makes both, just the characters on the screen change (and the missions require more work).
Todays versions 'auto level' quite well, meaning if your kid answers right enough times in a row, the difficulty of questions will bump up. Most of the time the questions get harder...rarely more computer skill is needed. Older versions required more 'game skills'. But as I buy newer and newer versions I find my kids can handle the mouse clicks all by themselves. Since I buy games for younger kids this is VERY important. RR/CF games also offer an option to change levels yourself, so if I know my kid is good at a subject I can bump him up immediately. Newer versions will record if your child has tried a level and had difficulty with it.
The skills covered for each 'grade' seem about on par with what I would teach for a grade. (They also match up to many text books such as Singapore math, or Abecka reading) Level one being a bit too easy, and level 4 being a bit challenging. Perfect for a kid who is excelling in one area, but rusty in another.
On a non educational note, RR/CF games tend to have different voices for different games...unless you have listened to the same voice encourage your kid to click something for 30 minutes straight you have no idea how wonderful it is to hear a different voice! The graphics on the other hand seem generations behind adult games. Total game play varies, with the 'lower grades' having less. We have not beat a game in less than 2 hours, and one took closer to 10 or 15. (multiple sessions of course) My kids who do not get to play console games, don't seem to mind the graphics, and will replay the games to beat them on harder levels.
We are a RR/CF family, we own one for every level my kids are on (3 kids 3 different games of course)
Jump start seems to have too many 'arcade' skills necessary to beat a game. One game required 'skateboarding' down a street to move from one area to another. Unfortunately younger children still look at the arrow keys before knowing if they will go up or down! The graphics to match these fancy arcade games are only a step or two down from adult games...often looking like a cheap console game, instead of a ancient scroll game. The most recent JS game I found was a 'world' where the walking is 'dynamic' meaning your character moves and the screen 'flows' as opposed to older style screens that had the character move one frame at a time. Pretty, but harder to control for a younger child.
Jump start used to have harder skill sets, nice if you don't want your 5 year old playing 6th grade games. But I am not certain of that any more. The last game we bought was a first grade game, and it still has nothing challenging for my daughter. (she is smart, but not that smart)
JS games have a different system of leveling, most of the time the arcade skill gets harder not the educational questions. Since I want the kids to answer without my bias, I hate having to be the one in charge of the mouse.
The most recent JS game we tried was a the JS world, where winning a race is part of completing the mission. I of course had to race for my 4 year old. While she didn't mind, I do! I fail to understand the importance of a first grader racing. No not racing to answer math first, just racing to move your character from point A to point B faster than the computer. Nothing against racing games, but I see no need to force my 4 year old to figure them out! (I do know many 4 year olds who can race quite well, I also know more who cannot)
JS games also tend to have the same voice through out the game that reminds you you are playing (I hate computer 'are you there' reminders!)
The levels are often static, meaning not only that I cannot change them for my children. But also in order to beat the game you must be able to perform ALL the skills. While I am all for requiring children to know a certain skill set before graduation, I do not hold playing a game to the same standards. So long as a kid can perform on level one, they aught to be able to win (and if they can't you have the wrong grade - or too many arcade skills needed)
JS games would be better for a family of 'console gamers'. If your kid can beat x-box racing games, they will prolly want the better graphics of JS, and enjoy the arcade side trips.
My husband woke me up last night to tell me it was snowing... I think he expected me to go see it .
When my youngest woke me to use the potty (being pregnant I had to use it as well) we peeked behind the curtains to see a blanket of white outside.
Of course while I was still trying to fall back asleep, it started to rain...there ends the pretty snow.
This being Charlotte, a city in the mostly south, snow doesn't last, if anything it turns into an ice storm, which I believe they are predicting a one this Saturday...wouldn't you know it just in time for the cub scout field trip...one of two GMC needs to obtain his Tiger badge...
Oh well, it was pretty at 2am.
You know that game I let JC buy? Well first, it is pathetically easy, I mean my mostly normal 2 year old could play if I handled the mouse for him! (don't get me wrong he is smart, but nothing to write a novel on.)
The game begins with skills such as asking her to gather 2 bugs, or crash icebergs with 5 objects (or the number 5). Or put shoes on 4 bears!!!! how is that a skill for a first grader?
I might have a bit umm pushy standards, but please!
Then there is NO way for me to change the skill level! I cannot tell it to jump ahead to at least larger numbers or adding, it doesn't have a level setting option for most games, and the one that did made it rain on her boat...but still only hunting numbers less than 5.
AND they want her to subscribe to get more levels...I would guess that by level 12 she would be doing real challenging work, but I have no intentions of spending $8 for 10 months to find out!
I don't know if I should take the game back and trade for second grade, or if I should get rid of it completely...the controls are similar to a console game, the graphics are pretty nifty, and the variety of games is nice (claims 40, I have seen 10, all too easy)..she likes being able to choose her own character, but I do NOT like her wasting time on reviewing skills her little brother needs to know...maybe I should keep it for him....
I am SOOO glad GMC couldn't afford his grade level game...
I needed some info before I could proceed with a cubscout task...I sent an email or two, spoke in person, and today (the deadline day) I found the lovely info in my inbox...You know, I really was looking forward to an easy day, no work, no stress, a bit of goofing off, some surfing 'in the name of finances'. But now I have actual work to do...people, if you are going to procrastinate, do so long enough to let me off the hook
At BJ's a cool new jump start computer game caught my sons eye...I didn't want him to get it (seemed too easy for him) and was relieved to discover it cost $17...he didn't quite have enough. His sister on the other hand...she had plenty for her grade version and snatched it up. GMC found a different Carmen game for only $8.
Now I am sitting here with two new computer games wondering if those kids will ever run out of money! They already put a little more than %20 in savings and about %10 for church...now we are just at the 'wasting money' phase...I don't mind them wasting their own money...if it weren't for the fact that I have to store the stuff they buy (or toss it when it breaks)
We read a story about Heifer international from a magazine the other day and the kids really want to buy an animal.
I did some online checking and it seems that aside from being a bit uninformative as to just who gets your money (it may not even go to geese, but it will go to animals and training in the countries listed) It seems like a decent charity with a decent mission.
So I think I am going to let the kids buy a flock of geese with their leftover Christmas money.
I am a natural procrastinator, even though I know I prefer a short todo list, and I feel better when things are done on time, or early..but I still naturally tend to procrastinate. Curing myself of this terrible habit is on my todo list.
For now I have my good days and my bad days.
Today is a bad day, I have several nursery and cub scout tasks that I am flat out avoiding...mainly because I am not sure the best course.
I find that if I know how to do something, or at least mostly how, I don't mind doing it. But when I am in a quandary (I always liked that word) I am never sure where to start, so I just don't start at all.
Prolly silly, but true.
So I decided to take the vinegar plunge for cleaning. I discovered I hated the smell. SO I added a smidgen of oil, I now had oily floors. Then I tried lemon, I had sticky floors. So I hit on soap. Dish soap. It still smells like vinegar, with a hint of umm soap.
anyway, it works, the floors and such are clean, I can let the kids clean without worry of strange chemicals, until one fateful day.
I ran out of vinegar, really you can go thru that stuff quite fast when you use it to clean most things most days. So I went back to bleach. The first day I used bleach three nails on one hand cracked split and tore, and two on the other! Plus my excema went from annoying to painful.
I managed to get more vinegar today, and I hope my hands will recover soon.
I think vinegar has more benefits than price for cleaning!
Right now our heat is set at 61, but living in the south, the house is actually 67.
Now I am comfortable...in jeans socks two shirts (though the top one has a ton of holes..really I am just wearing it cause I want long sleeves, but the maternity clothes are all short or no sleeves.)
Now 5 years ago pregnant with my first I was cold at anything less than 73...I preferred 75. (non pregnant I was cold at 75). So I took to calling myself 'cold blooded'. Not due to being mean (though I am not nice) or to really thinking I was missing the oh so important thyroid (err is it your thyroid?) that keeps one warm. Just that my natural temp was 96.8 (rather than typical human 98.6) and it showed is my preferred room temp.
Now I go to my friends houses in winter and sweat! Even the relatively frugal ones with houses at 71!
I have always said the human body is incredibly adaptable, but now I have proof in myself. Ia m comfortable in much colder temps than I used to be (don't worry, I am still comfortable in much hotter temps)
Just what is that 10K going to pay for? I do want a person with some experience just in case of some odd mishap, cord around the neck, or breech baby or something...but I don't need cable tv...
What I want-and need, is a competent trained person to catch the kid, stitch me up, and be capable of emergency issues should they arise....hopefully a bit more competent than reading the 'what to do if the baby arrives before the ambulance' section of the book.
Oh and I want someone else to clean up the err mess...not the baby I would gladly do that bath (or let my husband), just the bed, and placenta. That I would rather not have to deal with right after delivery. Though this one I could do without.
Why can I not get that for less than 10K?
I am not even asking for someone to talk me thru wanting to push early (three kids, been there done that, at 8cm I will want to push). Not that I would mind, but that kind of help isn't offered in the 10K.
Nor am I asking for someone to figure out a way to avoid the tearing that happens with each kid (3 kids, all three tore at the same spot) - not that I would mind the help, but that isn't offered for the 10K.
I can handle the sleep, the shower, the food, and the nursing (though I highly recommend praying for a competent nurse your first time, let her move you around to get you and baby latched on right, learn from her, don't mind the contact, it is worth it for the health of your baby)
I just don't want to have to decide between delivering the kid alone, or paying 10K...that choice is unfair. How can it help to force women to choose between ridiculously high debt or going alone? (or breaking the law and hoping that a back door midwife is not a quack..with no legal records to look up)
Well in my own little mind I do, not that I have the cure, just the real problem.
Drs charge extra for checking out issues...like headaches, or rashes...now I know that my headache is just a headache, I think, and my rash is just a rash..prolly. I mean I haven't gone to school for it or anything, but seems to me, if it was a problem there would be some sign...no sense looking for zebras, when horses are more prevalent.
So I am not going to the Dr..because if I went for an annual checkup (to check what? I already know what I weigh, how tall I am and what my BP is, 106/68 this time - and if you want to get personal, the bod looks the same weather you poke it or not as last time, so don't)
So back on topic, should I go for this annual checkup...I will consider asking about that niggling problem, maybe it is a headache, or maybe it is a rash, or some sort of odd pain that keeps reoccurring, or maybe it is my annoying trouble with blood sugar.
But if I do ask, I will be billed for a sick visit - even if the doc spends the same amount of time with me as if we joked about the kids instead of mentioned that niggling detail....but I am not really sick, I just want the guy with 8 years plus education to tell me what I already know, that it is no big deal, or the
This seems a bit out of place in a finance blog, but well it was on my mind.
I hate the nearest mall, Concord Mills. it is large, with many essentially duplicate stores, but, I never knew that. Because it is clustraphobic! The mall is one story, thin corridors which are always full of keosks or vibrating chairs or something. It has crappy bathrooms most of which contain at least one broken sink or toilet or empty paper dispenser.
Now I have nothing against one story, or kiosks, one of my favorite stops pre-kids was an incense kiosk (at a different mall). I have a problem with cramming thousands of people in a space that seems more suited to fit hundreds, and throwing a bazillion kiosks so close together that you simply turn around at one to touch the knick-knacks at another.
On the other hand I have fond memories of the mall in PA, Ross park mall (it has since changed, if you live there, know it is not what I remember as a kid) big, new, bathrooms while they had a line at the holiday season, worked, and they were designed so the line waited out of the path of folks washing hands and getting out.
Ross park was two story, and the kiosks had room between them. there was a wonderful openness to the eating areas, of course there were tons of folks eating during peak seasons, but you didn't feel like you were looking at a school lunchroom with tons of folks crammed in as closely as possible, you were looking at spacious tables and lots of packages, with plenty of light to see them by.
So should you ever become rich enough to afford to design your own mall, aim for huge open spaces with TONS of light, large bathrooms designed for a in and out flow of people, and don't try to cram too many tables in the eating areas.
I posted regarding 'finding money' about what I did when I lived in my car..and then this morning I just got back from getting a root canal done, paid totally out of pocket. With no crimp in the food or gas budget....Christmas did not suffer for my dental work. I had money to use as I needed.
Now don't get me wrong the money could be much better used to pay down the car, or some other nice finance option. But the amazing thing is, in just about 10 years, I have gone from living in my car, to living in my own home. And I don't even drive!
Some of the difference is due making more money (though my husband does all of that) but a larger part of the difference is caring more about 'grown up life'. Back then I was single-ish smoked, drank aplenty, and while I had no delusions of living forever, I didn't care one bit if I did or not.
Now I still have no delusions, but I do care, I want to live and live healthy for my kids and husband. I care about not taking to many risks, not ruining my own health, and well even if sleeping in the car isn't so bad, it is no way to raise a kid (or 3.5 of them).
10 years ago, money came in, and money went out...I really don't know how much, so long as I paid the car payment and ate relatively frequently, I didn't save up money. Mostly I made sure there was gas for the car, ciggs to smoke, and caffeine of some form. Any leftover was spent any old way I felt like (mostly on food).
Life then wasn't all bad, I learned a few things, like cold is easier to sleep in than hot... And how to look like you are primping even if you don't wear makeup just so you can wait out the other person to brush teeth in the restroom.
I also broadened my horizons about food during that time, I was never the bird eater, and with no way to cook or store food, I became the 'are you going to finish that?' friend. I discovered I liked food a smidgen spicy, fries even with pepper, pizza with sausage, calamari, stuffed mushrooms, crab legs, most any kind of wine or hard liquor, though still not beer, and I still don't like fried eggs, or really hot foods.
I learned a few things about the kindness of strangers, and not much about mean ones...a rather blessed time I am sure.
In a way I learned a bit about how much simple things are really a luxury, from hot daily showers to closets, to the ability to sleep fully horizontal. While I wouldn't wish that situation on anyone, I do hope to help my children see how blessed they are to have such luxuries... and I hope, that while I go call another dentist for more out of pocket work, I never to lose sight of how amazing the 'cheaper gifts' of life are...that I can go grab multiple blankets to keep warm, or that I can head off to the fridge and drink another glass of milk, or not, it will still be there fresh and ready in an hour or ten.
I actually hesitated about letting the kids try because I was afraid GMC would be able to stay up till midnight!
But it turns out they were all asleep by 11pm. JC and UE were on top of me, GMC was on the floor right beside me.
I decided to go with watching movies at bedtime, and insisted they all lay down. mostly.
So snuggled in Pjs and with clean teeth we watched a veggie tales movie, then channel flipped finding some lion nature show, and of course the music of the countdown shows.
Course it made for an interesting skill of my husband to try and move over 3.5 kids to give me a new years kiss, but boy were they cute .
It isn't like we need to be awake at any particular time today, though we will have some effort in getting them all the rest they need to catch up. A good nap and a few nights proper bed time should have them back on track. (One more great thing about not having daycare, or school or anything to set our schedule for us)