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Wending my way through the weekend

September 30th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

My husband and I have a wedding to attend next weekend. At this point in my life, I live in jeans and tops/sweaters, and I've been doing Weight Watchers successfully. What dressier outfits I have are too baggy and/or seriously out-of-date. Since I'm mid-way to my final weight yet, I didn't want to spend too much. I lucked out at Target though. I ended up buying a darling fitted black dress and a cocoon sweater for a coverup - perfect for cheap!

Next weekend also, my oldest and her boyfriend are heading south to visit his parents in southern MN, then they'll stop at our place on Sunday on the way back north. Usually we would take them out to eat, but we'll host a bbq here instead. It'll be more relaxed, as well as better priced.

We're keeping the spending reigned in as our two youngest are heading to Italy next spring for their band trip, and my husband and I will be joining them! It still seems a little unreal yet....but so exciting! We got the girls their passports this summer, and husband and I will later this month. Italy vs. spending frivolously - a very easy choice Smile

Scrutiny on the groceries - did pretty well. My husband likes to tag along, and is slowly understanding the budgeted amount IS what we're spending. I do better shopping alone, but I like it when he comes along, so it's a work in progress. I just try to spend that much less on the weeks when it's just me!

Not eating out is going good. Also reigned in the coffee/ hot chocolate treats - even the cheaper versions at the local Holiday gas station. As the weather started to cool - warm beverages seem such a fine treat, but we have travel mugs and the makings at home - we can do it!

Tough week emotionally at work.....a graduate from our school district was killed. He was with a couple of friends, when an suv pulled up and a group of people got out. While trying to protect the two girls he was with, he was punched once and fell back and sustained a fatal head injury. He was only 20. A 17 yr old was charged with his murder, and the attorneys want him tried as an adult. So senseless and tragic... he graduated the year between my two oldest, and well, it hits a bit close to home.

On the agenda for today - I'll take a look at finances and make an online payment to oldest's school. And will see what else needs to get sent out this week.

Will putter around outside - put away a few more garden items (pots, stakes) and pull the chairs into the garage (not too deep, as we still use them for backyard campfires.) Still lots of green tomatoes - will they turn red in time?? Crazy tomato year...

I washed and line-dried another duvet yesterday, as well as regular laundry.

Need to go through the bathroom cupboard, as it's driving me crazy with its disorderliness!

And bake - I need to bake...some for us and the girls' lunches and some to send back with oldest next weekend. Pumpkin bread for sure and maybe chocolate chip cookies (or bars, if it gets late.)

I also need to get out for a nice, long walk. I did one yesterday morning at the local county park, and it couldn't have been more perfect. So definitely planning another one today - maybe through a nearby old-growth forest. It has been a beautiful autumn here!

Enjoy your Sunday - take care!!

September speeds along....

September 23rd, 2012 at 03:25 pm

Our school schedule is up and running, and somehow entering into our fourth week. We've added two 6th graders to the crew in my classroom (no one went on to the high school this fall.) We're busy, but all are settling into their routine pretty well. (And how busy is reflected in my Saturday morning weigh-ins - I've lost 7.5 lbs over the last three weeks! I do walk daily outside of work, but I did that before school started back up...but any way it's happening, I'm happy!)

My oldest is in her senior year of college. We were thinking she'd get to graduate a semester early in Dec, but one class was not available until spring term, so she spread out the credits between the terms to receive maximum scholarship and grants. One of her instructors for her art history minor asked her to join a group she is taking to study in Italy for the May term - they'd make an exception for her minor. I told her to look into what funds are available for that, and she did, and there are. We'll run the numbers and decide before the Feb deadline. It sounds like such a wonderful opportunity! Her major is in psychology, but she really loves art history. I should encourage her to look into what it would take to double major, since there's a cap on the cost over a certain number of credits - she may be close enough to make it feasible. And who knows, maybe having two majors will help in the end for acquiring a post-school career Smile

Speaking of careers, my second daughter is really enjoying her new career at the spa/salon she went to after graduating cosmetology school. She's continues to prepay her few loans that are in the grace period, while she's still here at home. She's looking ahead to moving out into her own place, but she's biding her time and building up her money reserve. We used to joke in her younger years that the depositing of her paychecks in the bank was only a formality as they were immediately dispersed to stores at the mall. But she has grown up and listened, learned and, more importantly, acts on her financial goals and plans - very, very proud of her!

My third daughter is a senior in high school this year. We've been spending the last couple weekends photographing her in various locales for her senior pictures. Then she needs to decide which one goes into the yearbook. Over the summer we visited her first choice of community college. There's another one she'll check out nearer the downtown area of the Twin Cities that is an easy straight shot in by bus. Her first choice is a nice school, but does have some major parking issues, and the nearest bus connection is nearly to the school. Some upcoming decisions soon - free application week is in Nov.

My youngest is a sophomore already! She took her driver's permit exam and passed. Yesterday, we finally had a chance to get her in the car - by the fourth, you'd think it would be less terrifying Smile She did well after getting a few right turns under her belt and a feel for the gas and the brakes.

Husband is doing well too Smile His branch boss was let go recently, as the company reduces its mid-level management. The guy who took over manages branches here in our metro area and Rapid City SD, with the install/service areas they encompass. We're hoping for this to be a positive thing rather than a worrying thing. His line of work is in security/fire systems (he does commercial and industrial, but the company does homes too,) and this industry is still feeling the backlash of hard times and budget line reductions. My husband has been keeping stealth feelers out, just in case...and we keep our budget in line as usual.

I was looking back over some of my early blog entries, and was reminded of some of what we did during the leaner times. Sometimes I get into an automatic mode that I forget or ignore taking a closer look at what we spend money on.

First up...groceries. My groceries category encompasses a lot - our food, health and beauty, household items, pet needs, and even small clothing and school needs (blacks shoes for band concert, poster board, etc.) I should probably just call it my Target category, because that's pretty much where I shop. I'd like to look a little closer at what I'm spending and try to reduce it a little, as I think we can do better than we have. The cupboards are replenished after the summer "eat down". I'm slowly stocking up on items for the upcoming season of baking, but we're pretty stocked up household-wise, so it's a good time to hone it down.

We keep a running list on the frig of what we need, and I check in with the family before I go. I don't use a lot of coupons (not available), but what I have is always clipped to the list. My grocery list is on one of those long shop list pads, with a bull clip magnet. I flip up the bottom and write the meal list on the back. I always keep soup, frozen pizza, mac and cheese, etc on hand for crazy times or too tired days. I like eating out, but not wasting it in a frazzle or due to laziness.

With its cooler temps and school's schedule, September has me in a CrockPot mood! Last night, I tried a new soup recipe - Pizza Soup - excellent (and smelled wonderful all day.) Scalloped potatoes and ham for tonight. I do love fall!

Speaking of fall - I've been taking the most amazing walks on the paths at the nearby county park. Forget going north for the leaves this year - it's gorgeous here in the metro right now! Did I mention I love fall?!!

Enjoy your weekend...take care!

There is something about August....

August 7th, 2011 at 03:01 pm

...for students and those who work with a school calendar, that makes a person crazy and lazy all at once!

I'm finding that I'll have big bouts of frenzied got-to-do-before-school-starts work sessions intermingled with oh-forget-it-all-and-go-to-the-lake carefree times. August at its finest....

My oldest was home for the past week, and it went fast, but was fun. We spent many afternoons in the lake, which was perfect for the hot, humid weather we had. We explored the Mpls Farmer's Market, and bought wonderful food for the week. We have a teeny local one, but it's fun to run into the city once in a while. We also explored the Uptown area while in town, and I showed the girls a few favorite places, including the fun Majors and Quinn Bookstore (a booklover's heaven.) We saw a movie (Cowboys and Aliens - daddy's choice) and had a shopping/lunching girls day (mostly window shopping, but definitely the girls' choice.) The girls used their season passes to Valleyfair Amusement Park. We cooked and grilled, played board games and watched some favorite dvds. We took oldest back on Friday, so she'd have a couple days before going back to work. We met up with the boyfriend and ate out before driving home. They may head our way in a couple weekends for a long weekend visit, and if they don't, we'll probably go up one more time before school starts up (we all go back after Labor day.)

Next weekend we are hosting a bbq for my husband's family. His aunt and uncle are visiting from Michigan, and his dad and sister and family are coming (not yet sure if his brother and family are - communication isn't the family's biggest asset.)

With company at our house in the next two weekends, we switched from decluttering to cleaning mode. Between kicking back in the lake and being outside every possible moment, there comes a time when you realize you've really let the house go! Actually we're pretty good with the regular stuff like meals and dishes and laundry and bathrooms, but it's the "projects" we're in the midst of that mess us up! We really mean to finish the project, and so leave it out. But with the incentive of company coming, the projects are being finished or put away for later, and the house is put to rights.

Current projects that are to be completed in time for this weekend's company - refinishing the dining room table top. I refinished it when I got the table, which I realized was seven years ago! It held up well, but was needing a good sprucing up. I knew I didn't want to be doing it in the last two weeks before school and with some predicted perfect weather, this week is it! May also do a dresser we've had in the living room, but not a high priority.

Another project is the flower gardens again... The weather has created a bumper crop for weeds! My cherry tomato is producing about one or two little tomatoes a day (note to self - plant several more of these next year.) The big tomatoes are starting to come in (think they're Big Girls) and used some in a taco salad last night. Boy, if all of the tomatoes on that plant go at the same time, well, I'll have to freeze some I guess!

Today, I'll put a couple of coats on the table, grocery shop, and organize one last shelf of the cabinet of the school supplies. From previous times, we're still supplied. I had about $42 in MaxPerks rewards from OfficeMax, so I bought more printer ink and the mechanical pencils the girls prefer (still have plenty of my preferred wooden ones.) Maybe there will still be time for the lake later this afternoon :-)

Have a great weekend!

I want Spring now!

May 2nd, 2011 at 02:37 am

I feel less than ambitious with our current weather. I even made chili yesterday, as it's been cool enough! I was able to hang out one load of laundry, and managed to not lose anything to the wind. Today, it's clouds, wind and cold (as in furnace turned on once more...)

On the financial front, my husband got a little raise - about 2%. We decided to up the amount to his 401k by 2%, as the increase will do more good there than the tiny bit it adds to our pockets. After reading online that others were seeing good things happening to funds recently, I took a look at the 401k fund, and found that the gain for the month of April equaled the gain of the previous three months together. Good, good good!

What was it with April?? As others here have mentioned, I too forgot to mail out the monthly payoff for our Target Card, though I caught it before the due date. So I tried out, and don't laugh, the pay online feature of the account (I know, quite the daring soul, aren't I?!!) I was very amazed at how simple and easy it was to pay this way, and may continue to do so to save postage and fraught at mailing it on time (and it's the actual mailing only, as I always write out the bills as I get them.) Trudging along, I may yet get up to speed in this century :-)

Not a lot else going on - being a bit more mindful of certain aspects of the budget have been helpful in building up the coffers (boy, I'm full of revolutionary ideas today!) Particularly, eating out has been reduced (good for budget and health.) Even though we're eating more meals at home, I'm spending less at the store (I think I'm getting better at quantities needed for less family members eating - oldest at college and second daughter working evenings and eats at work.) I'm improving on using up the bits and leftovers, though there are weeks that seem to be leftovers for half of the days! Still need a little tweaking on recipe quantity and freezing.

The next few months are focused on getting as much into the savings as possible. We can pay my oldest's summer tuition from our budget, and then, as much as possible, cover the next year tuition for both girls. Summer is usually a low spend time for us - we swim, bike and visit libraries and free/low cost places around the Twin Cities area. We have some camping trips planned, but the sites are reserved and prepaid, and other costs are generally covered from the budget (the SD trip will be a little more - mostly for gas, but some sightseeing too, but not too expensive.) Some upcoming expenses are my second girl's graduation party in early June, and my third girl is considering a season of cheerleading, with practice starting in June also. Challenges, but not insurmountable...

That's all for now! Take care!!

How fast April is going....

April 18th, 2011 at 06:54 pm

What a busy time lately, but so much accomplished!

I came home today at mid-day from work. My youngest was sick and stayed home from school, and she's old enough to be home alone. She has some health concerns that make her particularly susceptible to dehydration and fainting, and she knows to keep the fluids going, but I got worried at a call from her mid-morning, and arranged for a sub at work. Now I can see that she's getting fluids and electrolytes, and she's doing better (and I feel better about it all too.)

Our old house has tiny closet space, so my clothes rotate in and out of the closet per season. I recently washed up my winter sweaters to store (in underbed boxes) and pulled out my lighter weight clothes. In doing so, I culled, from both sets of clothing, the tired and the worn and the just plain not-for-me-anymore items. There is still plenty of clothes to choose from :-) The girls went through their closets and drawers also, and pulled and passed down items. What wasn't snatched up, was bagged up for donation. Later today, I'll go through the house and seek out some household items ready to be donated. Spring cleaning!

Last weekend, I managed to get a haircut in, as I was getting very shaggy. Meanwhile, at home, my husband was setting up to take down a dying tree. The youngest two girls were around to help too. We hooked up my dad's old trailer to our old station wagon, ready to haul the branches, as they were cut, to the city compost. (Much easier cleanup, keeping up as we went. We did some trimming about three years back, and what a huge job to clean up after the branches were all down.) My third girl is newly licensed as of last week, so she was excited to get to drive the Olds and trailer, back and forth, with me along for the ride. My husband still has about a 5-6 ft section to cut log-size, but he ran out of steam by the end. The section is between ours and the neighbor's driveways, so it's fine to work on as he can after work this week. Still need to split and stack to dry what we hauled to the back yard. I'm sad to see the tree go, as it offered a bit of shade in the late afternoon, but it was coming down limb by dead limb. A few backyard campfires in that wood!

My new clothesline is up and ready to try out today. It's not the warmest day, but there's a breeze, so I'm game to try.

Speaking of weather, snow is supposed to come again - will it ever, ever end??

Yesterday, my husband and I shopped for groceries and made a return to a store. Later I went to the library with my third girl. So we're busy, but it's a good busy!!

Forms, forms...

April 10th, 2011 at 12:25 pm

...and more forms! We had to provide documentation for financial aid for both the oldest girls. When we had some questions on how to fill out one of the forms for my second girl, I was able to ask some questions about the process, and why we were chosen to do it. The documentation isn't related to any particular aid offered, or to be offered, to the girls. The schools are required to do a certain number of audits so as to show that the fafsa matches the tax forms and w-2s etc. And it was only by chance that we had to do it for both girls. Oh well, I'm not worried as it all matches up number-wise, and I hadn't yet filed away the tax documents so it was all handy.

Later in the morning, my husband and I headed to Home Depot to order four more storm windows. We ordered two last fall to replace two that were broken. The long story short is that our house has ancient,cheap and difficult-functioning storms. Last summer, two of the windows crashed close leaving the glass broken. We compared the cost of fixing to replacing the whole storm with ones that work, and we ended up buying two storms that are wonderful to use. Yesterday we ordered four more for the windows we most often open and close per rain over the summer. Only ten more to go! We had cashed out some rewards on our visa over the winter and used the giftcards toward the purchase. We also got a new mailbox, as the current one is in a precarious state, disintegrating bit by bit.

We also called for some estimates on gravel for the driveway, and what a range of prices! We settled on one place, and have to do a re-measure (my husband and second girl did a measure, resulting in two very different cubic yardages - 25 & 33, but as I like to point out, math uses exact figures that should result in one cubic yardage...this is absolutely why I do anything number-wise at my house Smile

While my husband cleaned out the gutters and changed the oil, filters and serpentine belt on my minivan, my third daughter and I cleared off the perennial borders. It's always a gamble on when to do it, but the weather was so gorgeous, and it had been dry for several days, with winds to dry the ground nicely. The lilies and peonies and iris all have tips up. The weeds were already growing well in the bed along the driveway. The beds all look wonderful now after an afternoon of putzing in them.

Today's highlights include grocery shopping and getting a new clothesline. Branches came down over the winter, snapping my old clothesline. Can't live without my clothesline in the warm months! Not sure why I enjoy hanging out the clothes, but I do.

Can you tell spring has sprung here finally? Today, we're supposed to warm up into the 70s! I'll take it!! Enjoy your weekend...take care!

Where have all my entries gone...

January 22nd, 2011 at 02:34 pm

...even my old standby highlight and copy wasn't keeping them safe. Well, maybe I was just too wordy!

So short and sweet-

Oldest back to college and new room is working out. Got her bill for 2nd term with an increased state grant amount - surprised, but will take it!

My new job is a blast! I moved over to our middle school, and a very different experience than early childhood, but I'm loving it. Same special ed needs, just taller kids!

We're on the search for a new range. We replaced the washer, dryer, and dishwasher in Oct. I guess the range too is feeling its use and age. (This is what we get for buying all of our appliances all at once eons ago!) Luckily we've been skimming along using the burners and crockpot and microwave, so as to do some comparison shopping. My husband is very handy, but when we priced the part needed for the repair and figured in the age and wear of the appliance, it made sense to find a good sale. (Fingers crossed for our hard working frig - we need a couple more years and then we could downsize a little too.)

As many here have mentioned, I too am awaiting the tax forms to do our taxes and fafsa (for two girls this year!) Soon enough we'll have an idea of what to expect to pay for next year with two in higher educational pursuits - it's like you want know, but you don't want to know :-) I just keep throwing money into the savings in anticipation of what it might be. We didn't have the means earlier on, but learn from me - you'll be so thankful for any dollars saved ahead. The pay-as-you-go method is hair-raising!

Ok, getting a little wordy at the end, but I'll try it, and hopefully it'll publish! Take care!!

Enjoying the Lazy Days of Summer

July 29th, 2010 at 02:11 pm

Not a lot happening at my house, which is not a bad thing.

My mom-in-law is moving forward slowly in her recovery of her surgeries. She's still too weak to do the chemo yet, and after yesterday's visit to a wound specialist, we're hopeful for her ileostomy site to improve. Along with my parent's lost battles with mesothelioma and Alzheimer's Disease, I'm adding what my mom-in-law is going through now with colon cancer to the list of things I never, ever want to have happen to me or anyone. The body is very strong and resilient, but so fragile too.

My dad-in-law uses a walker, so I've been getting them to appointments, running errands, and helping him at the house (mom-in-law is in a nursing home for her after-care.) Luckily, I'm off for the summer, though the time is whizzing by quickly.

Otherwise, we've been pretty low-key at our house. The weather has been good for hanging out the laundry. The heat/humidity has been upping the fan usage a lot, which my electric bills have been reflecting. We haven't resorted to putting in the window ac units, as it's been such extremes in temps this summer, and it's a pain to put in the units and take them out, with our old "once they're open, they're open til it snows" windows. (Yes, we do need windows, but replacing them is like starting a teeny snowball rolling from the top of a very tall snow-covered hill...we're living with them for the time being as we navigate through the college years of the girls!) As it turns out, we're going through a very wonderful few days of weather at the moment, and enjoying it greatly!

My husband got a new toy, which I turned out loving. We got a cheap water smoker grill at Home Depot. We chose the electric one for the ease of use, and darn if isn't an outdoor equivalent to my beloved indoor slow cooker! We fill the two racks with marinated chicken breasts and leg quarters and put a couple pieces of hickory wood at the bottom, put water into the tray, and it's good to go. We've been feasting on chicken all week. I put a turkey breast on last weekend - no marinade or anything, just the water and hickory pieces - and put it on to smoke - it was lovely. The trick will be to watch for meat sales.

We've been making a huge effort to eat at home after the fast food/ordering in increased at the end of the school year followed by all the family medical crises. Between the grilling, crock potting, and lots of main-dish salads, we're are eating both cheaply and well.

Otherwise, our activities have been inexpensive. We've been swimming at the two lakes near us a lot. We've been going to the library once or twice a week for loads of books, magazines and dvds. We have five county libraries within 10-12 miles of us, all on the way to other errands, so we vary where we go. Walking, biking, backyard badminton - we're an easy crowd here! The only thing we haven't gotten to do much of is our camping. Our day's has been eaten up by medical, and then my husband's oncall at work has been a bit high (grumble, grumble,) but there is still August...or next year, if need be. Some years are like this...

Couldn't resist a few back-to-school supply purchases, even though I am so not ready to go back yet! I had some MaxPerks rewards ($40) from OfficeMax to use up and I made my start on the computer ink for at home and for my oldest at college. I also did my first coupon thingy at Walgreens. I happened to be near one during one of the medical appts, and was able to get the girls some spiral notebooks, pocket folders and pens for pretty cheap. The staff had to help me find all the coupons I needed, and there wasn't a limit on amount purchased (except for the pens.) It was a good deal, but a bit of a pain to pull everything together to get the deal, plus it's not a store that's in my regular path. I'm happy to have gotten the deal, but give me my pretty much low everyday, as I hate shopping, prices at Target :-)

That's all for now...Enjoy your day!

Taxes & Tires & Tidbits - oh my!

February 8th, 2009 at 03:43 am

The taxes are done! I e-filed my oldest's federal and will mail out her state - both with refunds. I also changed her withholdings. I used TurboTax for the first time (I'm a long hold-out with the paper and pencil!)and e-filed our federal - we get a refund of all of $50. The state taxes is a 'oh my, how did this happen??' We owe $674, which include a $17 penalty for being over $500. Not much has changed from last year, but somehow we ended owing this much. Will be submitting new w4s on Monday for sure.

Well, we upped our percent going to my husband's 401k - we're at the max. I'm hoping this is, and will be, a good move, but as it is said, we're in it for the long term (so please, please turn yourself around, market!) I'm a public employee and my retirement fund is a prescribed employer/employee amount, so no more there I can do. Next is to check into a Roth IRA.

It's been one of those weekends where things want to join together in falling apart. A couple nights ago, we were doing our nightly shuffle of the cars so everyone is parked in the right order to get out of the driveway in the morning (yes, we look crazy and yes, the neighbors think it's hilarious.) When my husband pulled our Olds into the driveway, he heard a sudden hiss, and one of the tires went flat. A puncture in the sidewall of one of the new tires we had just bought in May. Poo... My husband took it off, and brought it to the tire store. Not salvagable, so another $80 for a new one.

Today we were finishing up the last load of laundry, and my husband commented on how long the last load was taking to dry. He went to check on it, when he found it was wet and cold, not a good sign. Luckily he's a handy sort and after dismantling the machine, he did a little check online for a schematic and found that it was a heat sensor fuse that had blown. We'll have to wait for the Sears Parts store to open (we'll check, but I'm thinking it's not open on Sunday) but the part is about $15, which isn't too bad.

My husband is thinking that work is starting to look more relaxing that these 'restful' weekends.

I'm thinking there are forces out there trying to part us with our money. Always!

In other news...we got the official letter saying that our mortgage has been satisfied and officially payed off. We'll still need to get the copies of the record from the county when it becomes available. I guess my category of "I owe,I owe..." is now "I don't!"

And oh my...the best news of all is that my oldest got an acceptance to her first choice of college. (This is what spurred me on to accept what my taxes were saying and just get a move on in filing!) On to the FAFSA - oh yay...

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Another update....

February 1st, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Make that a quarterly one! (Computer issues to blame, and lack of time always!)

Lots of news at our house...

The best is that my brothers and I received and divvied up some money from a trust - not a lot, but enough to help out. After MUCH deliberation over how best to make use of the dollars, this is what we did. (It was kind of funny that during the same time period, BA asked the question in his blog about how to spend a sum of money - I read with great interest!)

My household is officially debt-free! We just paid the mortgage off this month, so it doesn't seem real quite yet. Writing the check for the payoff amount at the bank to get the cashier's check was a wow though!

Then after much research and analyzing (years before the advent of our money event, and after) we purchased with cash a new-to-us 2004 Honda Odyssey, with intent to keep until it no longer runs. This upgrades our failing fleet a bit - maybe to one not failing and well, let's not talk about the rest! (This wasn't an investment by any means, but gosh it's nice to have a newer car and hopefully less of those failing features common among the rest of our fleet!)

The balance of the money is sitting for now. We never had much of an EF, so now we do. Right now, both my husband and my jobs seem to be stable (though in this day that hardly means a sure thing.) And the whole car repair and medical costs events of the past few years surely could have been alleviated by having a decent EF - lesson learned!

We are looking into increasing/maximizing our retirement dollars. I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about 401k, IRAs, etc. How easily my decisions would have been made not all that long ago... I think I know what I want to do, just want to make sure.

Other news...

We've had a tough winter so far, car-wise. My second daughter hit some black ice and smooshed the front corner on a guard rail - luckily no injuries or other cars hit, and no damage to the rail (I found out the state will send a bill - yikes!) My husband replaced the headlight assembly and snipped the dragging part of the bumper - our formerly 'best' car looks quite wonderful, as you can imagine, but it's drivable.

My oldest was driving to work on New Year's Day, and when passing a walker and dog on a snow/ice covered road, ended up spinning around until hitting the rear against a tree on the opposite side of the road. An ambulance was called because she was bleeding from the back of her head (prob from hitting the seat belt housing) and for a possible neck injury. My husband and I arrived just ahead of the ambulance. I rode with my oldest, and my husband oversaw the towing of her Suburu, which was a goner. After some x-rays, a few staples, my daughter came home with aching head and spirits (she worked long and hard to buy her first car.) Her staples are out, and she's making due with the 91 Olds Custom Cruiser, aka the land yacht.

Granted, this winter's ice and snow has been quite the hands-on learning experience for my girls, when the recent past years have been so warm and lacking in snow. But can anyone really blame me for not allowing ANY of my daughters to drive my new Honda??

There's so much more to catch up on - my grocery successes, my utility bill challenges... not to mention taxes, college apps for the oldest, FAFSA, etc. A tad overwhelmed - that's me! This entry is quite long enough though, and the making of dinner awaits. Take care!

Catching up

October 2nd, 2008 at 11:57 pm

The expenses have been settling down finally, though I did just write one more check for a field trip for my oldest. Back to getting my checks regular, and getting the savings built up again.

It's been a beautiful fall, but the last few days were very cool. The temps have been hovering in the upper 30s at night. With the windows closed up, and the extra blankets on the beds, we haven't had to turn on the heat yet, though I was tempted last night as it inched to 61. I open the blinds in the morning to let in the sun, and close them at night to keep out the cold. We're hoping to hold off the heat until at least the 15th (later would be great!)

With a few extra activities this week to work around, the crockpot has been getting quite the use. I generally use it 1-2 times a week, but so far have used it straight since Monday. I planned ahead, and have been able to vary the menu a bit, so no protests yet. After a day of working, and then running kids around, I am really enjoying the convenience. And no fast food!

I have to drive daily to the main school campus in the next town over. Three afternoons a week, I head over to the school building just a street behind where I live. So MWF, I eat my lunch at home (leftovers!)and bring my lunch the other two days. Then I head over to the school via my bike. Will enjoy this as long as it lasts - lots of predictions for a very cold, very snowy winter ahead - oh yay! Before I head into the classroom, I ride the bus with one of our more fragile students, who has frequent seizures (I keep an eye on her, and can administer her meds if needed.) The bus driver is a nice retired guy, who recently lost his wife to cancer. He has apple trees that are having a bumper year, and offered me some. He gave me two full grocery bags of them, and we are making great use of them.

The computer is needed, so time to get off. Take care!

A bit chatty today....

September 6th, 2008 at 11:01 pm

We all survived the first week of school! I did manage to keep on top of all of the papers (my homework as it's called) and the checkwriting (why do I ever think I'm done with just the supplies and shoes!) All fees and forms are complete - my girls are now free to attend school, just us parents are broke!

I used the crockpot twice last week, as there were curriculum nights and activities. It all has to start at once, I guess. All other meals were at home too. Grocery-shopped this morning, and kept to budget.

Because I started back to work too, I was again using the dryer for the daily load of laundry. Today was beautiful, though, so my clotheslines are filled.

My brother, his wife and four kids from Anchorage are coming for a visit in a week. Actually they started driving on the 1st and may have arrived up north in MN today - they have plans to hike the Superior Trail before heading down to us next Saturday. They homeschool their kids, so have the flexibility, but the week they'll be here is kind of a crunch week for us, with something going on each afternoon or evening. I'm doing my best to pare all that I can... and at least there will be the two weekends. I'm planning out some large-crowd, kid-friendly meals - chili, tacos, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, etc. With my nearby brother and his wife, there will be 14 of us around the table, into the living room, and on the floor. We'll be cozy, and I'm looking forward to it all!

On the spending front - I purchased a new digital camera last weekend. I went in with a particular camera in mind, but was flexible enough to spend $20 more to get double the megapixels and 2x more optical zoom. Actually, I'm totally amazed at what I spent on this new one and all of its features compared to its few-generations-ago predecessor (my old camera was four years old, and very well-used - it was a great camera while it lasted in and out of my hands!) I loved my old Canon, and really love my new one (720IS)! I took some gorgeous senior pictures of my oldest last weekend at a nearby historical house and grounds. It's where the local Proex goes for their outdoor senior photo sessions. All I can say is that this new camera made ME look like I knew what I was doing, as well as making my daughter look as beautiful as ever. Plus the camera was cheaper than the Proex portrait session I was pricing, which was the lowest of the senior picture gamut around here. Thanks to all who encouraged me to do so after my previous senior picture mention a few entries back!

Still cleaning up a bit around here - we should look pretty presentable by the time our company arrives next week. The teacher that I work with at school gave me the prettiest tub of yellow mums for a 'late birthday/welcome back to school/oh my, what a caseload this year' gift. It looks wonderful on my front step, but the nearby summer flowers are looking really sad and past prime. Kind of want to get some more mums.... but it'll pass because I don't have time to go get some (being busy works in my favor often - no time to shop!) Oh well, I guess that's what fall is all about here in the upper midwest. If they get too bad, those summer flowers are compost!

Dinner will be grilled tonight - chicken and peppers for fajitas. Enjoy your weekend!!

Cleaned the Freezers...

August 12th, 2008 at 01:49 pm

...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 03:22 pm

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!

Money In...Money Out...Money Saved

July 18th, 2008 at 01:03 pm

I got a check on Tuesday, and my husband got his yesterday. Oh, the ways to spend them!

After the deluge of recent medical, things have settled down - finally! In a bit I'll head to the grocery for our two week shopping.

I do have a Target list, and a pack of girls who want to come along. They have been informed that if something isn't on my utilitarian list, they have their own money to spend.

Upcoming spending to keep in mind...

We head up for our annual camping up in Duluth and along the North Shore of Lake Superior in early August. We don't spend a lot, and it's probably a wash for what we would spend at home. But gas prices are up, plus we like to eat out a couple meals, as a break from the hot dogs and hamburger over the campfire.

My third girl is a returning cheerleader, and the fee is due mid-August. So far no mention of an extra camp (and fee) - this is good!

Then there is school shopping - hiss, boo! It seems like summer has barely started... Actually, only the two youngest have supply lists, and the older two just need basic supplies for high school. Bags and backpacks are in good shape. My youngest will need athletic shoes, though her feet keep growing fast, so nice but cheap is in order. She'll also need some jeans. They all enjoy going to a favorite thrift store, and of course to Plato's Closet. We don't buy too much up front, as it's still warm at school. A nice outfit each usually to start. School pictures are the first day at the high school.

Speaking of pictures...I started pricing some senior photo sessions for my oldest. There is quite the price range, though I can't imagine paying some of those top figures (someone must though.)

Enough thinking of ways to spend. There will be still enough to send a few hundred over to savings. It's nice to get it all together to do all three...earn, spend, keep.

Take care!

More Medical Spending

July 15th, 2008 at 01:30 pm

I took my two youngest girls to the eye dr yesterday. The 13 yr old got her first pair of glasses last year, and a had significant change at this exam. So she picked out a new pair. My youngest checked out fine in her exam, and no glasses necessary. On Wednesday, my husband has his appointment. He's only needed to get cheapie reading glasses, and we think they'll suffice still. (Will keep our fingers crossed though.)

Which brings me to our HSA... This is our first year using one, and I'm finding that my conservative use estimates done in November 2007 are severely underestimated, and it's only July. Part of the problem is that with insurance changes each year, it's hard to estimate exactly how insurance will cover the charges.

For example, as I mentioned above, my 13 yr old got a pair of glasses a year ago at our cost of about $250. This year we paid $60. Another example is how a prescription was filled for my oldest. She needed to take 60mg in the morning and 80mg in the evening of the same medication. In 2007, one script was written, stating the above directions. The mail order pharmacy filled it as one prescription with 20mg capsules, with the directions stating the number of pills to take in the morning and evening. The first time using a new mail order pharmacy this year, the pharmacists filled it as two prescriptions, and accordingly charged it as two (very expensive) prescriptions. Pooh!

Then I came across a reference to Target having 3 mon for $10 prescriptions (I knew Walmart did, but there isn't one convenient to us.) Sure enough, I found three of my families meds were on the list. I mail order these at $25 each, but for $10 at Target, it's worth it to switch. I always check out where it will cheapest to fill our prescriptions at the beginning of the year, whether we have an insurance change or not. But I'm finding that that may not be often enough. Am I the only one feeling like I need to be constantly checking on all of our insurances - medical, vision, dental? I wish it wasn't so hands on all the time ... I mean really, I have other things in my life that need attending to - our finances, the girls, definitely the dust bunnies taking over my house!

Take Care!

Oh, the excitement...

September 3rd, 2007 at 09:22 pm

Not a lot happening this weekend - just working at the odds and ends that are endlessly on the to-do list.

We helped out my inlaws around their house. My husband and I are starting to see a need to schedule a bit more time over there to keep things up better, as their health keeps limiting them more and more. All I know is that I had visions of my mom's house and the endless stuff she and my dad had collected. It took me a long time to clear out things from her house when she entered the nursing home, and the long-term storage ruined so much of it. My inlaws have organized their stuff into an endless sea of plastic storage boxes, tucked into corners everywhere. They're finding out that their three kids and families are just not really wanting any of it. The stuff has meaning to them, but not to their kids. It's kind of sad. Oh well, it helps motivate my husband and I in limiting what we think we should store away (a small house also helps with this.)

I went with my oldest and youngest to visit my mom. She's doing well, though conversation is a bit confusing as usual. We were joined by a talkative gentleman who managed to share his life up to the point where he and his wife had their six daughters. He was interupted to go to dinner, but I'm sure I'll hear about the second half (or more - he's 93) of his life. My mom enjoys the company of men, so she mostly giggled, laughed and made the occasional odd comment throughout his story. I always leave there with a smile.

I baked some vanilla chip cranberry bars and used up the rest of the package of chips into some chocolate vanilla chip cookies. After the obligatory 'testing of the recipes' by my family who came out of the woodwork, I bagged up and hid the treats in the freezer for the lunches this week.

Over the summer I had talked to the girls about our use of bottled water for the lunches. They were all willing to carry reusable bottles - yay! The environmental reasons spoke to them more, while I was definitely hearing the monetarial ones as well. Either way, it's all good!

To-do list odds and ends that got crossed off include my husband and girls washing both the vans in the driveway. I cut my husband's hair with the clippers (on the patio - you'd think we were doing this only to embarass our kids!) My husband turned his time sheet in online with 30 hours OT from last week (he was out of town two times, and gets drive time.) I sprayed the new athletic shoes with Camp-dry, so dew, rain and snow wreak less havok on those new shoes. Starting to go over a new budget with my husband so that there is no mindlessly expanding the spending to fit the pay increase. Otherwise, we're all getting ready for school's start tomorrow.

Happy Labor Day...take care!

How to keep busy, without really trying...

July 3rd, 2007 at 12:35 am

I'm off from work this week, which is nice, as there seems to be many little things to keep busy with.

Last Friday, I called into my bank's automated system to find out the amounts of my and my husband's paychecks. Mine was surprisingly low for all the sub hours I put in the last two weeks of school. I called the school's payroll person, and oops, some of my hours hadn't been put through. Grumble, grumble. Luckily, she was able to contact who she needed to verify I did work, and a check was issued today. All's well, that ends well - but I'm keeping a keen eye on them.

We've been trying out a new medicine for my oldest for the last few months, and her doctor thinks we're ready to send out for mail-order. It's for a three-month period, but much cheaper for us, as it's only available as a namebrand. My oldest takes it twice a day, with the morning pill a lesser mg than the evening. When I looked over the prescription at home, the dr wrote it to look like we needed two separate prescriptions, which would double the costs of this expensive drug. I called up the mail-order pharmacy, and asked them about this. At first, I was told, it would be filled as two scripts. I pointed out that if they were the same mg, the dr would have just wrote the pill amount as double, and it would be one script. I asked that if I had the dr write the total dosage for the day, with instructions on the how much for morning and evening, would that work? The woman put me on hold to check, and she said to do that. Now, I know from dealing with a number of insurance companies through the years, that this may or may not work, as calls don't always guarantee what you get. But given the drug's cost (plus it's not the only medicine we pay for each month,) it's worth it to give it a shot. I called up the dr, and she rewrote the prescription. Tomorrow, I'll send it in with a check for the single script amount, and then we'll see...

In other news, my second passed her written drivers exam, and she has her permit now. My 'clutching the passenger door handle' muscles are still in good shape, as it wasn't all that long ago they were in use for her older sister.

My oldest turned 17 yesterday. She picked out a place to eat, and we had cake at home. Her birthday marks the end of 'birthday season' - the 6 weeks/3 birthdays time of year. 'Til next year...

Still have more of life's details for tomorrow...take care!

Not Sure Why...

May 23rd, 2007 at 05:34 pm

...but I'm getting some breaks lately, moneywise.

As I blogged previously, my two middle girls made the high school dance and cheerleading teams, with their related noteworthy costs. It's not that I don't have the funds, but as it were, two weeks ago these activities weren't even a thought that ever crossed my mind, or my girls'. For my second girl, she saw the notice for tryouts, and thought it over and wanted to try. It was a long shot (it really was, spoken here by a very loving mom, though not to her!) She worked so hard, and gave it her best, and it paid off with a place on the team. She also showed us, the moneykeepers, that she was serious and willing to try something new. With my third girl, we knew she was interested in cheerleading, but this is the first time they've opened the high school squad down to 7th grade, which she'll be in the fall. So here we are funding two high school sports, all of a sudden.

But, as it turns out, Someone is watching over us (and don't we need that!) I had just added up the totals on the two sports, and we could cover it from savings, though giving it a good hit that would be difficult to rebuild any time soon. So I get the call yesterday about working the extended school year with the primary program, and I'm officially hired (I did know this was coming.) It's not a lot of hours, only four mornings for five weeks in June and July, but enough to help out with summer fun, camping and the beginning of school year expenses. Then I got another call yesterday about subbing at the intermediate school for the last two weeks of the school year, due to a medical leave (didn't have a clue this was coming.) I am able to take this job, because I just finished up my last day at the preschool yesterday. The savings will be back to where it should be, and cover the summer and school stuff. I'm feeling very blessed and lucky lately.

Other streams of money of late include - my husband did some side electrical work, and was paid $100. I got a refund check on our older van from State Farm, plus the recent bill came to being $50 less than 6 months ago (well, it IS getting to be almost ancient.) (I'll ignore, for now, that adding my oldest as a driver will negate that savings...but I'll enjoy the moment until the new, revised bill arrives.) I also received some very nice gift cards for Target, a local nursery, and the coffee shop in my town from my preschoolers and families. I also received a "Forever Bloom" hydrangea, which I wanted so dearly to get this year, but left at the nursery due to cost. My self-control was rewarded, and I love that the plant will remind me of a very dear family. Okay, I have to say it again - I really feel very, very blessed and lucky. I'm a realist and know it won't last forever, but I'll enjoy the blessings, and my hydrangea for many years, as it can withstand our MN winters!

'Tis enough of the gushing...take care! May money blessings be headed to you all!!

Mishmash

May 20th, 2007 at 01:50 pm

On Friday, we found out that second daughter made the high school dance team, and that third daughter made the high school cheerleading team. I have enough dollars set aside to cover the athletic fees, luckily. I think the calendar got a bit busier, but both are surprised and very excited (the rest of us too.)

I spent time on Saturday morning running errands - bread outlet, bank, Target and pet store.

I had to make a return to Target, and pick up a giftcard for a birthday party my second was going to in the evening. My oldest was along, and needed some underthings. It was so far, so good until.... I made the lethal mistake of venturing down one more aisle. So a new bike seat leaped into my cart, and was pleading to come home. ( A little background - I have an ancient bike I picked up at a garage sale years and years ago, but the seat leaves me numb after more than a ride around the block. I usually take walks, but the younger girls have been wanting me to go on bike rides with them, which have been painful and short. In the last few weeks I've mentioned maybe getting a new bike for me...then this nice, padded mountain bike seat called to me! My third daughter said my 'old-fashioned' bike looked much better, and my youngest was excited to go on a bike ride with me last evening. I was thrilled to not have a numb lower half. Actually it was the opposite - I could feel some very underused muscles! The seat cost far less than a new bike, so procrastination was a good thing.)

Earlier in the afternoon, I spent cleaning out the Ford conversion van for next week's camping trip. We thought it would be easier to get the camp gear all packed into the van this weekend, leaving only the food and clothes to add before we leave on Friday after school. I'm hoping it's warm and sunny next weekend!

This morning I baked rhubarb muffins. They smelled wonderful, and the girls all woke up asking for some. I'll wrap some up for next week's lunches too. I'm planning to bake a bit more this week to take camping.

Today' plans include church, a visit to my mom, finish packing up the van, and to just relax! Oh, and a bike ride!

Enjoy your weekend...take care!

A day to keep us out of trouble...

April 29th, 2007 at 01:14 am

Two loads of laundry on the line today. More raking out garden areas (I think I'm done!) Oldest daughter is in her last weekend of lifeguarding training. Picked up second daughter from a birthday sleepover. Then grandpa and grandma picked up the youngest three to have them help pull out and wash their deck furniture.

And what did husband and I do with NO kids? Well, we took the electronics and used motor oil to the county recycling center - oh yeah! We did have abundant time to talk, as it seemed everyone else in the county had cleaned out their garages too. The lines were very long, but the staff were pleasant, and some were even funny. My husband was extremely thrilled to be asked if he wanted to keep his five gallon motor oil tanks - he had been trying to gather enough one gallon plastic containers to transfer the oil. The guys working there were kindred spirits to what my husband holds dear, and said they'd dump the oil and give back the containers. We offered to pull ahead, but they said no. I slunked down in the seat, avoiding all eye contact with those in the many cars behind us. My husband was enjoying a great conversation with the other workers. Maybe the guys needed a break... Oh well, the deed is done!

I pulled out the pots and other garden decor, though still too early for anything but pansies. It was in the 70s, and tomorrow is supposed to get into the 80s, but as it is only April, and I can't go crazy yet. Dinner was on the grill tonight - hot dogs and brats. Everyone was hungry from all the work earlier in the day.

We also got the minivan back. We had a boot replaced (he showed us the axle he took out) and a new exhaust system installed. Only $200 - much better than what I imagined.

Because it's supposed to be so warm tomorrow, I'm baking some cookies tonight for my youngest's year-end church choir concert tomorrow night. I'm kind of tired, but it will be best to get it done. Then a nice long bath...aah!

Better get to it...take care!

The Good, the Bad and the Dull

April 25th, 2007 at 11:54 pm

Not much happening here. Still going strong with the laundry out on the line. All meals are at or from home - even though after working the whole day yesterday, with an hour at home for homework and dinner, and before heading out to work again...I WAS sorely tempted to do a fast food run. We opted to eat what you want, as long as you can fix it yourself. By no means a stellar meal, but it worked in keeping us away from the fast food, and it definitely worked for tired me. Tonight I made pizza, before evening church activities.

Only one more week of the evening Kindergarten classes. I know many of the kids and families, so it's been a lot of fun to see them so excited for Kindergarten. But the long days get to be VERY long! The checks will be welcome too.

Tomorrow the minivan finally gets repaired. I'm anxious to get it done, and find out how much it will be. Fingers and toes crossed that it will be less than more.

Need to still call for a vet appointment and some grooming for the dog. Along with the tulips, lilacs and rhubarb, spring blooms abundant bills!

Have a nice evening...take care!

How to Dismantle an Atomic Couch

April 22nd, 2007 at 03:58 pm

(tongue in cheek!)

1 - Keep the first couch you bought as a married couple long enough to REALLY get your money's worth. (Ok, 22 years may be the extreme boundary of 'long enough'...)

2 - Haul the sad thing out to your garage to allow some time to think through your options of disposal, and oh yeah...become a secret low-rent mouse housing complex. (There are few options, but this step only takes a year...)

3 - Upon last week's discovery of the rampant use of said mouse housing, an order is decreed stating emphatically that the couch MUST be removed from the premises. Teeny, tiny fire lights under husband. (I am fanning frantically from the sidelines, wishing my fan was bigger, as the couch has come into being fully ATOMIC...)

4 - In order to SAVE MONEY, a decision is made to dismantle the atomic couch. (What happened to just calling the garbage hauler??!)

5 - With a mat knife, cut shred by shred, what's left of the cover and padding into small pieces. Watch out for the flinging dried up, dead mice and the belching dust of 23 years. Bag up the pieces and throw away. (Don't cough up a lung...)

6 - Move on to the power tool portion of this project! Husband is now really getting into this project. (This is a great time to question the sanity of what husband is doing, pointing out that emergency room visits are quite costly!) The revving up of the power tool makes hearing extremely difficult. The Sawzall carves away at the wood and cardboard(!) frame, which is carried away to the backyard campfire ring. The dozen metal springs head to the recycling center.

7 - Whew! No more atomic couch, all fingers intact, no bloody gashes, no money out. Slightly amazed at the dismantling feat, and that such a flimsy couch lasted so darn long!

8 - Do NOT attempt this at home, unless the seduction of saving money, plus the use of power tools, really grabs hold of you. Then you may proceed at your own risk, hopefully with someone nearby who will question the SANITY of it all!!

Wrangling Wednesday

April 18th, 2007 at 07:00 pm

The minivan's windshield looks great, as it should for the cost. Laundry is on the line again. Dinner will be homemade pizza.

Today, third daughter has Girl Scouts after school, during which I'll pick up oldest to do some practicing on her parallel parking (test is on Friday.) Second daughter will head home on the bus, and be there for youngest after she gets done with school. Then we eat a quick dinner, before the girls head over to the church at their various times for choir and confirmation. In between, all need to do homework. Wednesdays are tiring!

Mentally tabulating the upcoming, not usual, expenses - ugh! The dog needs to go in for her annual vet visit and grooming - I'll check to see if there are any heartworm pills leftover from last season, as they aren't cheap. The lifeguarding class my oldest is signed up for this weekend and next is paid for already, but there will be a class fee for the book and resusitation mask - off the top of my head, I think it's $60. The driver's licenses if oldest passes - maybe $35(I know it should be when, but remember I mentioned above her parallel parking!) The van's repair - I'm thinking $600, but it may be less (hope so!) Well, this should get us through April...we have the money, but it's just not the most fun way to spend, though very typical. Enough whining!

Enjoy your day...take care!

Dollars out and dollars saved

April 17th, 2007 at 01:34 pm

Today, we'll have the windshield replaced on our minivan. There was a crack across the bottom, and my oldest takes her driver's exam on Friday. We called around to six places, and the first five were near $300. Having only liability insurance in place for this vehicle, I was amazed at how much this was going to cost us. I'm glad I kept on calling, because the last estimate came in at $235, with a guarantee. Still a lot, but better at least.

I also hung out another load of laundry this morning. It's a bit breezy, though cloudy. I haven't heard any mention of rain...but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can take it down when I stop at home for lunch.

Better head off to work...take care!

A Monday in Spring...

April 16th, 2007 at 07:07 pm

Laundry on the line again! Maybe, just maybe, spring is here.

My husband headed out of town to Rapid City - that area used to be installed from Denver, but now it's out of the Twin Cities. I don't enjoy when he has to work out of town, but he'll put in a lot of overtime, which we can use. Such a baby I am, I know - and he's due back on Friday.

Yesterday's shopping turned out well - while second daughter and friend were at the mall, I got my returns taken care of at Target, and stuck to my list of purchases, even with three daughters in tow. Third daughter needed to go to Blick Art store for a drawing pad and three watercolour pencils, all of which happened to be on sale (or maybe perpetually on sale, with that store.) Then first, third and youngest daughters and I headed to Barnes and Noble, the most dangerous of stores to go. But it turned out fine, with only oldest and youngest making purchases. With the third's birthday dollars for the art store purchase and oldest's wages and youngest's Christmas(!) money for the bookstore, my only layout was at Target, which was planned for. Whew!

I see the girls making their dollars count. My oldest wanted a book on drawing the human body. The selection at the art store was fairly expensive, and even more so at B&N, until she found a nice one in their reduced area. I also see them think ahead about purchases, decidng if they really want something, and whether it's worth the money. This is good!

Tonight's dinner is my youngest's requested mac and cheese (the 25 cent generic box kind) and leftover hot dogs we grilled outside yesterday. Arg! A nice salad with beans and cheese and lots and lots of vegies will hopefully nudge the nutritional value of this meal upward a little. (See, this is what happens when my husband leaves!)

Enjoy the day...take care!

The first time this year ...

April 14th, 2007 at 10:52 pm

...for hanging the laundry outside! It warmed to the 50s, and there was a gentle breeze, so I thought I'd give it a try. My fingers were a bit cold by the end of hanging, but it was a beautiful day to be outside. Oh, and the clothes did dry, eventually. Spring is here!

I also worked on the garage. All I can say is that we manage to be packrats over the winter. The garage is much neater, plus, as I alluded to above, it was a great day to be outside.

Enjoy the weekend...take care!

Work, bills and snow - oh my!

April 11th, 2007 at 12:11 am

Got stopped in the hall at school this afternoon, and was asked if I wanted to to sub in special ed tomorrow. Of course! The end-of-year rush to use up personal days is starting, and I'm happy to help out. This week also starts our kindergarten connection classes for next fall's incoming kindergarten class. Many extra hours for my next few paychecks - yay!

I'm also considering doing the extended school year again over the summer (June into July.) I really enjoyed working with the middle and high schoolers last summer. This summer I would have to choose between preschool/elementary or the ms/hs again - I know I would enjoy either. I've already decided to not do the kindergarten prep classes in August. It's the only month we can do some longer camping trips, and I really just want some time off with the girls before we all head back to school (spoilt, I know, and lucky too.)

Otherwise, I received three medical/dental bills in the mail today. Only one was correct! How much time I spend on the phone with billing departments - arg! Of course I do, because it's my dollars they want. I do keep good records and notes, but it's a hassle nonetheless.

It's just begun snowing...again. Where is spring this year??

Oh well, going out for a walk anyway, then a bath, some sleepytime tea and more time with a book by Chris Bohjalian (called Idyll Banter) that I picked up at the library. Did I mention that the girls are done with their homework? The day will end pleasantly...take care!

We're ready...

April 7th, 2007 at 09:51 pm

...for Easter. My family and I cleaned the house, the groceries are bought and ready, and the Easter Bunny is ready to deliver treats for tomorrow morning.

On the money front - we received our federal refund, direct deposited and 24 days earlier. All of the funds are being transferred to savings. I bought groceries yesterday, and even with hosting the Easter dinner, the amount was within the normal amount for two weeks. With the windchills of late at zero, the heat is on, but with more hours of daylight and the sun shining, the heat only goes on at night. (With a teaser day last week with temps in the 80s, and then this week's barely to 30 with windchills nonetheless - well, spring is being way too fickle!)

Still to come...we're still awaiting for our repair guy to get all the parts he needs for our minivan. Repairs includes replacing a 'boot' and the exhaust system, and a general checkover. I'm hoping for under $500.

My oldest is scheduled to take her driver's exam in a couple of weeks. She's relentlessly looking for her own car. There's quite the spectrum of vehicles in her price range, so we'll see what comes of this search. She's filling out paperwork for post secondary enrollment options for next fall, and is applying for coursework at a community college. She'll need a dependable car for that commute, but we have a few months to look. The above mentioned repair guy works as parts manager at a car dealership, and can keep an eye out for us too. Patience is a hard thing, though much easier as you get older!

Of course, my patience is being highly tested...my second daughter turns 15 next month. "Mom! Did you sign me up yet for driver's classroom training?!!" Sighing heavily, "Yes, yes." Here we go again!!

Happy Easter & take care!!

Rain, rain, go away...

March 30th, 2007 at 08:22 pm

I've lost count of how many days it's been raining in a row, and it's supposed to continue through Sunday, at least. Muddy dog and bored girls, who can't get outside to play and bike ride. All I can say is, it's getting old.

Our appliances are being troublesome lately. My husband just replaced a part that broke on the washer earlier in the week, and all was well...until yesterday, when I went to put the laundry into the dryer, and it was all soaking wet, again. So he fixed the washer, again, and all was well, again...until, I put the spun laundry into the dryer. The dryer didn't want to work. Boy, I could hardly wait to tell my husband. I did, and he fixed it, and again all was well in our laundry world. Husband went to bed, before anything else broke down. Whew!

Pretty low-key weekend ahead - two of the girls head out to sleepovers, pizza at the inlaws' tomorrow night, Palm Sunday and the youth fundraiser pancake breakfast at our church (my two middle girls work it, the rest will attend), my oldest works both Sat and Sun afternoons cashiering at her drug store job, and a visit to my mom. Well, relatively low-key... Take care!!


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