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Archive for August, 2008

Easy Come...Easy Go...Laying Low

August 22nd, 2008 at 08:31 am

Boy, the last paycheck just shot of our house, between bills and back to school, coupled with no OT. Hmm, I think we start to enjoy that OT too much, then forget it's not always there.

Oh well, this is where the 'laying low' comes in. There isn't anything we need, and nothing to spend on that is worthy of touching the savings.

We're sort of restless with these last days of summer break. So far, we've headed to the beach every day for the last two weeks. It's been absolutely gorgeous for this late in August. Usually, the 'dog days' have arrived, along with the pea soup green scum. Definitely, soaking up as much summer as possible - we're about due for a true MN winter here in a few short months.

We hit the library earlier this week, and I've actually found some books to pique my interest. I've gone through three so far. I love reading, but if it doesn't grab this tired mom's attention fairly quick, I fall asleep. (Of course, the reading of late is not improving the said mom's tiredness...but it's still summer break.) Oh, and I picked up some dvds - Zorba the Greek (I haven't seen it since I was a kid, but I remember my mom loving it- it may be a hoot, or not.) Also Snakes on a Plane - missed that one the first time around, though from what I hear it's a lot of snakes popping up everywhere (hope I didn't give away the story!)

I've been doing great with using up some of the newly discovered frozen foods at the bottom of my recently cleaned freezer. Lots of crockpot use lately. I even used a lasagne recipe twice that was so delicious and easy, I may not return to my oven recipe. I know Boo and some others here have mentioned this site - crockpot365.blogspot.com - it has lots of great recipes and fun commentary on the author's commitment to using her crockpot every day for a year.

I do have to meet my husband later at the DMV to renew our driver's licenses - both our birthdays are coming up. I'm looking about as good as it gets...

Enjoy your Friday!!

Now... a word from my employer...

August 13th, 2008 at 02:06 pm

Got my job assignment for the coming school year - pretty much the same as last year. I'll be working most of my hours with sp.ed. preschoolers and some with elementary and intermediate school sp. ed. students. How fast this summer has gone...

My position is under a union contract, which expired over a year ago (before I took this position.) I still don't feel like I know all of the issues. My own personal situation was greatly improved by taking this position, though I try to be sympathetic to what others who've been around longer are saying.

Since we've worked over a year without a contract, you can tell it's not the most confrontational group around. We have a union meeting next Monday, and I'm so hoping all has been settled - ha - I'm not so confrontational myself!

I know one of the little schemes that was mentioned at the end of the last school year is one that I don't favor. Part of the issue has to do with what is paid toward family coverage for health insurance by the school. To force the union's position on it, they proposed having the 5 FTE paraprofessionals (one of them is me) not decline our insurance option (as we all happen to do) and take out a single coverage for ourselves - paid for by the district. I'm sure we aren't doing anything wrong, but it sure doesn't feel very right either, PLUS I hardly need more things to keep track of medical-wise. We'll see how it goes... (I'm not sure how long a union contract is for, but gosh, I hope that by the time this one does get settled, it isn't time for another contract!)


While I plan to enjoy every moment left to the summer break, I am starting to feel a little excited for the new school year. It's so fun to see how the kids have grown and what new things they can do. One boy, in particular, was starting to use a walker last year, and was going to do some intense therapy over the summer - I can hardly wait to chase him around. Two of my little buddies that I worked with daily are off to Kindergarten and it'll be so fun to see them in the halls. That's the key - think of the kids, not the politics!

Better get back to those moments of fleeting summer! Take care!

Cleaned the Freezers...

August 12th, 2008 at 06:49 am

...and dinner's in the crockpot.

On Sunday, I cleaned out the chest freezer and the one on the kitchen frig. I also had to defrost our older model chest freezer. It wasn't too full, so it seemed like a good time for the job. I pulled its plug, and sorted its contents, getting rid of the insanely old. We propped a fan to blow into the chest, and it was defrosted in a couple of hours.

A side note - I always kind of know what I have purchased and put into the freezer. But then, my inlaws clean out their freezers, and pass along their castoffs. We eat what doesn't look too old and frostbitten, but unfortunately, most of the food should have been thrown. To my inlaws though, someone should get to use it, even if they can't, and no one else should. Oh well, we're just that extra step to the garbage sometimes- what the inlaws don't know, doesn't hurt them!

A side note to the side note - the inlaws do this with 'things' too. I cringe when I hear they are cleaning out the corners in their house. They invite our girls to help, which is great, but then they send home lots of 'too good to throw' things. That's another long story... They mean well, and we do respect that a lot, and deal with it all (things and food) accordingly.

Anyway, back to my clean freezers. They look wonderful, if I may say so myself. I also wrote a quick tally of what are in them, and making plans for meals, so I don't pass along too old frozen food to my children - you know,once they move out and are on their own and all. (Boy, didn't know how much planning went into keeping insanely old frozen food! I should really give my inlaws credit in ths feat.)

Yesterday, I put a close to too old beef roast in the crockpot, and cooked it until shreddable for sandwiches. Today, with a bit of cooler, rainier weather, I'm putting on my favorite crockpot minestrone.

I'm relishing my clean freezer time - once the kids start rummaging around in there, well, it never lasts too long, does it?!

Take care!

This, That and Everything...

August 1st, 2008 at 08:22 am

Not much happening lately. After a little time of spending - final payment on a Washington DC trip for the 8th grader, a sports registration fee, some school supplies sale shopping, etc. - we're in a blessed quiet time money-wise.

We've been heading to the beach nearly every day (storing up these warm, sunny days for the long winter!) The girls and I have been making great use of the various close-by libraries. They are all part of our county system, but each has its own personality (plus they are near where we do errands, so no extra gas expense.) I should add that all of the libraries are wonderfully air conditioned, and we are not at our house...so a nice break on some of hot,muggy days.

We're getting ready for a week of camping up north along the North Shore of Lake Superior. My husband and I and our two youngest will head out early with the tent and gear. My second girl and a friend will head up later after work, with everything that doesn't fit in the minivan. My oldest won't be along for the first time - she's on a road trip with a friend and her mom on their way down to Florida. I'm a tad nostalgic for the old days of cramming everyone and everything into our old conversion van. Bit by bit, I grow up too with my girls - ha! This is an annual trip for us, so it's relaxing and fun.

We had a little rain yesterday morning, but I still could hang out on the line before noon. The dewpoint was so high, it took til well after dinner time to dry.

After a concerted effort to reduce some of our utility costs, we've had some successes. The water/sewer bill came in at $30 less than last quarter, which ends up being about a 10% reduction - not great, but at least down. The electric bill went up a little, though, due to rate increases, warm weather and fan usage. I got a call about a week ago from the natural gas company, stating in an automated message that the rates will be going up about 50% over last year. We got the bill, and sure enough they did. The past year we've been paying $84 a month, and we're scheduled to start paying $129. In all the years we've been on this program, they've estimated our usage higher than what it is and re-estimate our bill in February....may it be so this year! It seems our saving efforts just go to maintaining our status quo, and that's better than not!

Take care!