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Archive for December, 2007

Mommy can I buy you this?

December 31st, 2007 at 12:13 pm

This is an actual conversation I had with my son.

GMC: (holding up some sort of sugar concoction shaped like some TV character) "Mommy can I buy you this?"

Me: "No, it is shaped sugar and prolly tastes like crap, but thanks"

GMC: (holding up a marshmallow snowman with sparkle sugar decoration) "Can I buy you this?"

ME: "No, honey why do you want to buy me this stuff?"

GMC: "But it is spice thing"...(he thought the snow man would be like a spice gum drop, which he knows I do like)

Me: "No actually it is marshmallow (pointing to words on package), But very cool remembering I like spice drops. Now why do you want to buy me something?"

GMC: "I just want to get you and Daddy some junk food."

Me: "Ok how about I help you out, Would you like me to tell you what kind of junk food I would eat?"

GMC: "YES"

Me: "Here, I love peanut butter and chocolate, you can buy me this ornament and I will get junk food and an ornament for the tree. And you can get Daddy the MnM kind"

Now on the one hand, I have an adorable son who wanted to buy me something. Very proud of him.

On the other hand,I still don't know why he picked junk food to treat us with, nor do I know why he felt like doing it in the first place.

Not to mention the kid can read, but didn't bother to do so at all! I am still not sure he knows what he bought me.

So far birth costs about 3000

December 29th, 2007 at 11:17 am

so long as you skip the hospital, and hospitals do not want you calling them to find out their portion of the bill.

Remind me again why I am not going with a home midwife? Right because they are illegal in NC so I cannot find one that is certified, tested, has a legal file on them to show weather they have a good or bad past record. I have to just take a shot in the dark and trust that a woman willing to break the law to help me deliver my kid, knows what she is doing.

Tell me again how these laws are protecting me? How can it possibly be safer to force a service underground?

On a side note, finances are so good due to well responsibility and some decent planning that if the delivery was only 3000 we could swing it, clear out the EF, but currently doable... it is the hospital portion that is the trouble. That and the unwillingness of Drs and hospitals to let me cut out all the medical stuff I don't want. (like a stay in the hospital..I can't rest in a hospital)

So what shall I do in 2008?

December 28th, 2007 at 09:20 am

At the end of the year I read tons of articles on new years resolutions, and well being the tortoise I am, I kinda don't get it.

I do have goals, I just don't start them at any particular time, and like a lowly tortoise I work on them piecemeal.

Not that I haven't tried to jump on the whole bandwagon of new year new goals (big or small) just that I never succeeded. And I think I am finally ready to admit that.

Having denied the new year goal system, I am now ready to put down in print a few of my current goals Smile (that just happen to coincide with the year 2008)

But I have no intentions of waiting till January 1st to start on any of them! In fact all were started on earlier (some last month, some yesterday, some last week)

1. Have enough money in savings to pay for this baby's birth. (due June -been working on this by not paying extra to the car anymore)

2. Pay off the car, this will be revisited depending on just how expensive the baby is. Which reminds me, I need to call around and get quotes for delivery.

3. Be more organized!

$. eat healthier!

I couldn't resist adding the same health and life goals as half the world. I do have some concrete ideas though.

For organization, I need to work on accomplishing tasks for Cub scouts, and the church nursery schedule in a more timely manner, and keeping track of what I did/who I asked. So I set up an excel sheet that can keep track of who is willing to work, who has worked, and who I asked to work. I think I need to add when I asked, so if no reply is found in a certain time I can ask someone else to do it.

For cub scouts, I need to set a specific time and list what I need done..I am trying to figure out a way to get some of the administrative pestering on an excel sheet so I know what I need/have done..but so far not sure how.

I also had some trouble with Christmas cards this year and managed to make a list of addresses that if I can find it next year I can print on sticker paper cut apart and use quickly. Hopefully redoing some of the changed addresses and updating the list this year will help next Christmas. (no I can't use labels, the printer is always off kilter, more stress than cutting a flat sheet of stickers)

On healthy eating, I want to up the portion of vegetables and fruit, I have finally gotten to a point where almost all meals have one or the other, now I want to up the amounts...As well as working on snacks being less junk more healthy..adding an apple to a spoon of peanut butter, or oranges to my chocolate.

I know I know...but I well, don't know.

December 27th, 2007 at 09:05 am

The things I know or could take a test on, I must not really know, because I don't act on them. For example, I know I should eat more fruits and vegetables, I was raised Irish meat and potatoes, or at least the potatoes. So adding a veggie is not to hard, but to remove any of the meat or potato? Now that is tough! But I know the portions are a bit upside down. Just try telling my brain when it is craving 'something good'. I certainly never crave veggies!

This idea was sparked by a health and fitness magazine, sorry I don't get any money mags, too boring... But I think the idea translates into many areas.

Since this is a finance forum, I guess we should talk about financial things we 'know', but don't follow.

For example I know that I could save on the grocery bill by buying more of whats on sale, and less of what I am craving. I even know that veggies, and beans cost less than meat..and provide protein needed. But I don't do it.

I bet in a given day I could read tons of notes about finance and say plenty of "I knew that' yet if I looked at my actual budget/finance plan, how much of those tips would I use?

A quiet, wonderful Christmas..until midnight

December 26th, 2007 at 07:13 am

Yesterday was wonderful...My early bird woke up at about 7am..asking to climb up with a stocking, we talked her into waiting for her brother thankfully. About 8:15 GMC came in and we had to wake up UE. Hey it's Christmas! I wanted to do stockings too.

Of course there was plenty of playing with the gifts, some art, some computer games and breakfast, model building, lego building, lunch, glue 'stickers' made, a nap, stories read, a movie finished, steak dinner, and a few games played.

In all that fun (and I do mean fun) we never even thought about calling family. I know we are anti social, but..well we were busy, with our family.

After the kids were in bed, we watched the extended scenes and deleted scenes, and documentaries that came with the special edition of Serenity. and then we talked about Christmas, and kids, and us, and talked some more. Really we aught to have gone to bed, but around about midnight there we were sitting on the couch talking and the doorbell rang!

A bit of confused swearing (sorry, we really are working on that bad habit) We checked to find the brother standing at the door in the rain, looking mighty agitated at having to be there.

It seems MIL called a few times to talk...6 and was quite certain something terrible had happened seeing as how we didn't answer the phone. This is not a rare thing, I have a cell phone, but I am not always accessible. It is on buzz so that I don't get interrupted during nap time, or feel pressured to rush out from helping kids in the potty. (UE still needs lots of help). Though having the poor guy come out at midnight on Christmas is rare. As in never before happened. I felt so bad for him, but fortunately we all decided we were in a laughing mood. Well not the MIL.

Having no commitment to go anywhere or see anyone we all stayed in PJs all day. Which means Daddy never put his phone in his pocket. And I left mine in my backpack from Church the night before. Now normally I can hear my phone buzz when the backpack is in the room. This time, UE had managed to put it on silent mode so there was nothing to hear.

I am sorry we scared her, I just wish she would relax. And I imagine BIL does too!

The gifts were a hit...at least for the kids

December 24th, 2007 at 09:34 am

Either that or they were good actors.

Yesterday after church, and the kids Christmas pageant, we headed to the Bro-in laws to trade gifts.

The one niece was very 'ooooh cool' about her gift, the other played with hers right away. And the boys played with their laser game most of the evening. They tried to run downstairs to test it out before we even gave them the second present!

Hopefully the 31st and the 2nd my husband will take them in pairs to the arcade, to use up the second half of their gift. (we have done that for birthdays and they seem to really enjoy it)

Unfortunately we are not sure if the parents liked what they got at all. I really am so ready to not give to adults at all. I would be more than happy with a no gift obligation or reception from the adults. I might try to talk my husband into at least testing the waters on that for next year...

I admit it I am a tortoise, not a hare.

December 22nd, 2007 at 10:33 am

Yesterday my husband was discussing a friends from resolution to not eat any processed sugar (or drink it). While I heartily agree in such a wonderful goal. I wonder at how long he will be able to keep up a no consumption resolution.

I myself have spent the past 7 years working toward less and less refined sugars, less high fructose corn syrup and less white flour, both in purchased and homemade products. Did you catch that 7 year part? I am a terrible dieter a terrible person for change. Now that might seem strange to many who have known me, I have changed my eating habits, my sleeping habits, my spending habits, cooking, cleaning, even my teaching habits. But I took a LOOOOONG time to do it all.

I didn't overnight go from diet Mt Dew drinking, sugar hyper, all night partying DINK, to a water chugging, whole wheat eating, 'typical' sleeping, frugal non working mom.

It took me about 18 years to formulate all my 'bad' habits (and a few good ones) and I think my slow tortoise change of almost reversing some in 7 years is pretty good.

I often wonder about folk with dramatic resolutions. Do they work? Can you stick to them? And if so, please don't expect me to! Not all folk can handle overnight change.

The 'Santa' myth, fantasy is fine, deception is not

December 21st, 2007 at 08:21 am

I find the 'Santa story' to be cute, I like watching old Christmas specials, I like hearing different stories of how 'Santa' got started. We read "the night before Christmas" every year with the kids. The kids have a Santa hat and regularly grab and old pillow throw it over their shoulder like a sac and 'play Santa'.

BUT at no point have I lied to them, I do not deceive them into thinking he is real, I do not suggest Santa brings the presents that I lovingly picked out, and carefully wrapped for them. Nor do I center my holiday traditions around him. At no point do I interfere with their imagination, nor do I try to alter reality. Imagination is a wonderful thing, but it is NOT reality. At an age where children are learning the difference between fact and fantasy, I do not hold back one fantasy as reality.

Which leaves me having two kids old enough to talk and understand others are convinced Santa is real, not understanding how they could be so ... dense. Which is putting my sons opinion of them mildly.

How on earth can anyone truly believe that Santa is real? The answer is deception by mom, dad and others, the only way an intelligent child would believe in Santa is due to deliberate and constant deception by trusted adults. Without nearly everyone a child encounters perpetuating the story, Children would fast discover he is just that, a nice fantasy story.

But many parents feel compelled not only to hide their own part in choosing gifts but also to find inventive ways to keep them believing. Leaving boot prints for a kid with baking soda might make for a cute face on a 2 or 4 year old, but is that cute face worth having a 12 year old that is afraid to admit he knows the truth, for fear you wont give him anything? Does our gift giving have to be tied to belief in a fantasy?

Now I know plenty of parents do drop the fantasy when the toddlers and very young grow out of it. But I also know many who fear visiting my house at Christmas time...with there 8, 10, 12, 14, or even 16 year olds! (BTW my children are under strict orders not to argue religion.. including the religion of Santa, so you can visit, we wont try to talk you out of it)

Why force a cute story about how being different can be an advantage, by trying to convince kids that one little red nose can light the way on a stormy night? Why twist the idea of a kind fellow with a giving heart, one worth emulating, by refusing to admit to the children who most look up to you to learn how to act in the world, that you yourself give freely?

What is so wrong about learning from stories without trying to make them real? Elmo is a puppet, controlled by more than one person, Dora is a drawing, who's words and actions are designed by a team. Santa is a story, retold and retold in many ways, with many lessons. Why can't we appreciate the lesson of freely giving without having to lie to children?

The last 2 gifts

December 21st, 2007 at 07:31 am

We generally keep our eye out for Christmas gifts all year long, but this year. Maybe due to less shopping in general, or just bad luck. We were short many gifts come Thanksgiving. Add to that a bad couple of weeks due to new pregnancy and you have us in a last minute crunch.

We went out two weeks ago and bought over half of what we needed in one trip, then we struggled thru the next few gifts. Last night we left at around 2pm to find the remaining 4 gifts. At 7pm after finding two we gave up and went home, UGH!

Today on his way home from work my husband is stopping to hopefully pick up a gift for our nephew (he has a plan, just needs to find it in the right price) Leaving us with just one more gift to get... For UE, you would think the hardest gifts would be for extended family! But nope, we are struggling on a gift for UE. We always have trouble with the youngest.

On a positive side last night my son picked out a gift for his sister and Daddy and wanted to find a specific item for his little bro (plastic bugs) And I got some traditional junk food for my husbands stocking. Plus he bought himself a slinky. His sister found one item for Daddy, but nothing for either brother. Seeing as they are young and it is late I just don't think the gifts will be bought.

We might go out again tomorrow to try one last time.

The 'big' gas bills are starting

December 20th, 2007 at 09:02 am

Every year we have really really low gas bills until December, then they climb and January February are terrible. But with all the changes we are making/have made every year they are slightly less terrible than last.

Apparently in 30 days last December we used 36 therms. This December we used 34 therms in 32 days, both months had an average temp of 50. So we used a smidgen less in a smidgen more days. That is better than using more!

I love those little graphs the gas bill has showing usage over the last year, but I almost wish I could get a usage graph for multiple years. I know we payed more when we first moved in, before all the cost savings went into place (I know that from the checking account records that I do keep) but I don't know by how much, and looking at a smidgen drop isn't as cool as if I could look at the huge difference from 2002 to now.

Let ING do the work, and save a smidgen

December 19th, 2007 at 09:15 am

We live with an HOA, for us it means a pool pass in summer, for them it means they get to waste money reminding me I have a terrible lawn.

Every December we get a booklet of 5 payment slips scheduled for the first of the month Jan - May. Now at first I tried to send in one a month on time..but well, truth is I am the least organized person I know, I hate clutter and disorganization, but I am not any good at it. Leaving me hating myself Smile

A friend suggested I pay the full amount for the year in January and then forget it for a year, at the worst I would only pay one late fee! While I kinda thought that would be wasting my money letting them earn interest on it before it was due, but I also thought, given my organization disabilities, it would be better for us. So off went several yearly checks in early January.

Well this year I have my little book in hand, and my secret weapon...INg, I can schedule a payment right now for Jan, Feb, Mar, April, and May..and leave the money sitting in my savings account (or use excess OT) earning interest instead of paying early!

I love ING Smile

The chicken was GOOD!

December 18th, 2007 at 08:56 am

Last night we had my mother and father in law over to celebrate Christmas..I made BBQ chicken, and it was good! I actually liked it, I usually complain that the chicken is too dry...and I usually ruin some part of it anyway. Though no one else complains the way I do when I cook! Thankfully they have manners.

This time I loved the chicken, not to dry, not to overpowering BBQ either. The only trouble, out of 8 pieces of chicken, the one I served my mother in law was still pink in the middle! ACK. The rest were done, this s why I hate cooking bone in chicken unless it is a roast...the pieces are never uniform in size so you either dry out the little ones or don't cook the big ones, or just plain ruin them all!

Fortunalty it was just the one piece.

I like OT but this is rediculous!

December 17th, 2007 at 09:15 am

Thursday my husband started his on call rotation, I knew we were in for Overtime, but I had no idea what the holidays at a store were like.

He is a computer guy, he keeps servers running and helps trouble shoot registers, printers, desktops and the like.

Well Thrusday he has to be in the office at 5am...and didn't get home till 5pm, at which point he proceeded to be back on his computer for most of the evening, and had a scheduled 'reboot' or whatever at 8pm.

Then on Saturday he had to wake up at 3am to do some more remote stuff from home, then drive in for a 5am call, and didn't come home again till 5pm...at which time he immediately ran to his laptop and began fixing yet another problem...he came to bed at 1AM! that is 20 hours of work!

Don't get the idea Sunday was easy, he was up and on the laptop at 7am, and still there at 8:30 (when our church service starts) he had a short break to drop us off at Sunday school and was back online again! UGH! (this morning I don't know when he got up, but he was gone at 6:30 am, and I doubt he will be home before 5pm)

Don't get me wrong, the money is going to come in handy with Christmas and a root canal this month...but 20 hours in one day?

Please as a favor to all who are serving you at Christmas time DON"T SHOP! Or at least know the harried person serving you may very well have been working for over 12 hours...along with plenty of support staff behind the scenes. All so we can buy last minute gifts! (self included I still need about 6 things)

Things I wish I had known when I was house hunting

December 15th, 2007 at 09:21 am

Well first one thing I did partly know.

1/2. Don't use the whole loan offered! We were offered twice the loan we used for this house, and even this one had us scrimping and barely managing until my husbands last raise! If we had taken the full loan and bought a bigger house, we would be in deep trouble still!

Ok Now on to what I failed to do right.

1. Even if you plan on homeschooling the school district might be important. I forgot two important things...the kids who are in the nearby schools are also the kids who are around at non school hours (or not, in our case I hardly ever see a child under 13 except on weekends..daycare of course) the other that my kids may one day want to test out the schools, and I will not allow them in the Charlotte/Meck system...there are daily reports of guns, knives, lock downs, drugs..I left the city of Pgh I don't need to go back to that. so check your schools even if you don't have kids.

2. The shape of the street makes a difference, if you have kids My kids like to ride bikes, but they can't on our street at all, it is curved, but the most often used street next to the entrance (and yes we live at the back!) The curves lower the visibility, but not the speed of drivers. If I had known I would have aimed for a house further down the road where it is a cul-de-sac, and rarely used by thru traffic (or turnarounds)

3. Hills don't mow, but homeowner's associations want them done. Our back yard is a gentle slope for about 15 feet, then it is a steep drop down to the lower path. I couldn't mow it if I wanted to myself, yet the HOA thinks I should hire someone to take care of it..personally not living in times needing a clear 'killing zone' I see no reason to stop the natural vegetation from taking over (there is now a tree taller than me halfway down, should help keep the dirt from eroding better than grass)

4. Speaking of HOAs, they like manicured lawns! I might still live here had I thought of that, I do like the pool within walking distance. But at least I might have started with a better commitment to the lawn...or an earlier commitment to getting registered as a nature lawn.

5. Your cute kid will grow..and wont like kiddie walls If I was interested in repainting or re-wallpapering this would be no big deal, but I am Lazy. Once was enough. Not to mention the time. So now I am stuck with a blue room the exact shade that will clash with my sons bedspread. Fortunately we moved him to the blank room and put my girl in there, purple and this shade of blue look fine, though she is unhappy with the walls. The next time I do a room for kids I will pick very neutral colors, something that cannot clash no matter what decorations or blankets my kids pick! (actually the paint was done after we bought the house, but many folk paint first, so I figured it fit here)

6. The whole house prolly wont be (nearly) perfect, but the most important room should be I looked at several houses that were ok, many had great layouts for living rooms or dining rooms, or kids rooms. Many had amazing closets. The house I picked I didn't know it at the time, but it had the most important room perfect (or nearly so) The kitchen. For me the kitchen has to have room for all the kids to 'help' me cook and room for all to eat (with nice easy clean floors!) For someone else the requirements might be different. My Grandma for example designed her kitchen to have only enough room for herself, and not to much moving between stove fridge and sink. Many others find the living room or bedroom or those closets more important. Of course I would love all the rooms perfect, but for that I would have to hire an architect!