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Archive for January, 2009

Free Stamp

January 15th, 2009 at 02:04 am

I was second in line at the post office a few days ago behind a man with four large boxes asking too many questions. There were at least four people behind me. There are two windows in this post office but the one was "closed."

Before long, an older man appeared in the "closed" window and asked if anyone just needed to "pick something up." I said "I just need one stamp." He said "Ok."

I walked to the window and withdrew a five dollar bill from my purse. Upon seeing the five the man asked me "Is that all you have?" I said "Yea, I'm sorry." He said "Don't worry about it, I'll take care of the stamp." I thanked him over and over and walked out of the post office with a smile on my face! I have never had a free stamp before!

Hope everyone has a good night, I'm off to work.

Bad weather

January 14th, 2009 at 06:09 pm

The girls are getting out of school early today because of the snow. M. is on his way to get them now.

I hate snow and cold weather! I can handle a little snow and cold temps but by the end of January I am ready for spring...and this is only the middle of the month!

I have to work tonight...boo...and I should be sleeping but I slept all night so here I am.

This looks to be a definite no spend day due to the weather!

Raise

January 13th, 2009 at 11:25 am

My husband and I were talking last night and he made a comment that we shouldn't count on him getting any sort of raise this year and definitely not much of a bonus...(btw, his bonus that last two years has been 30k)

Then, in the same breath he asked if he thought we could get all our credit cards paid in full by the end of the year. What world is he living in? Dr. Seuss land?

I told him there is no way in hell that we would be able to pay off all our cards without a good bonus. Then I asked him if his company was having trouble and he said, "no, not at all." Then why no bonus? "Well, in this economy everyone is being conservative." That got me thinking, even though a business is doing well could they use the recession as an excuse to withold compensation for their employees?

I told him he should at least get a small raise...even I got a raise in October and I work for a very stingy company!

I hope he is wrong and he gets at least a sizeable chunk of his bonus...I think he probably will get half but we'll see!

I have nothing planned except to sleep today after I take the girls to school. I have to cancel the ortho appt. becaue it is finals week and I don't want C. missing any of her classes...she is on the verge of having straight A's this nine weeks and last nine weeks she missed straight A's by having a 92% in Science. At her school an A is 93% or above. I've got my fingers crossed!

This time of year my town looks drab and ugly, brown slush snakes through the streets and left over Christmas decorations feel hollow and tacky. I would love to move sometimes to somewhere warmer without brown slush. C. would too. I told her good grades will help her escape this ugliness. She agrees.

My routine

January 12th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

...is starting to return. The funeral is over. My dad is returning to Arizona and the holidays and New Years Party are a distant memory.

This past month was hectic and overwhelming!

I took a personal day the end of this week so I will have a 4 day weekend and we are still thinking about driving to Pittsburgh to the IKEA store. The thing is, I really don't have the cash to buy much of anything so I probably shouldn't even go...the temptation will be overwhelming.

Even tonight I am tempted to get pizza. The house is relatively clean, the dishes are washed and the last thing I want to do is cook or make any sort of mess. I might have to break down and go to Pizza Hut. Sometimes there are needs of the soul and tonight takeout pizza is my need.

I paid the mortgage today and balanced the checkbook. I spent about 200.00 more than I had budgeted for for this month because of all the running around but at least it was cash spent and not credit. Still, I am looking forward to February and March when I will see my debt take a huge hit in the form of a paid off car and paid off braces!!

I CANNOT WAIT!

Well, I know I shouldn't financially but I think we're going to have not homemade pizza tonight.

Weekend Update

January 11th, 2009 at 01:01 am

I ended up in the emergency room at 4am today. It seems I have a bad gallbladder. Fun. So now I have to see my family physician next week and then probably see a surgeon.

This totally screws up my year. I will postpone this surgery as long as possible because I don't want to lose my vacation time. So I am hoping and praying I can wait until Summer to have it but we'll see. Might not be able to which means I might be taking all my vacation time in a few weeks. Boo.

I feel great today and I slept almost 12 hours (7a-7p) because of the drugs they gave me in the emergency dept. I have to go back to work tomorrow so hopefully I will be able to sleep tonight!

I need to mail my mortgage on Monday! It's been a rough week though...glad it's over.

January 8th

January 8th, 2009 at 05:03 pm

I was suddenly feeling crafty so I redecorated a bland white shade. I used things I had in the house so it was 100% free. I cut out panels of red and white toile and blue and white toile and hot glued them in large vertical sections. To properly delineate the panels I glued bright raspberry pink shiny ribbon from the top of the shade to the bottom.

It looks custom made and actually very expensive...like something I would find in a high end boutique!

It took me about 1 hour and there was no sewing involved. I am inspired now and will probably be on the lookout for old lampshades at thrift stores/garage sales.

My living room feels so fresh and it is such a touch of whimsy! I love the hot pink mixed with the red toile.

I think I am ready to buy fabric for my living room curtains. They will probably be creamy yellow accented with the red/white or blue/white toile and a little hint of pink and green. (Not too much pink , I don't want it too feminine for poor M.)

I don't have my camera or I would upload pics. The base of the lamp is silver.

The couches I found at Ikea online are tan and will go with anything. If I had the money I would buy those couches but I will wait until I can pay in cash! That's going to be awhile...sigh

But it made me feel good to know that I really don't have to spend a fortune to decorate my space. Curtains are my next goal and after that I will recover the pillows. These are easy and inexpensive projects that will make a huge impact in my space.

Now, if I can somehow persuade M. to repaint our living room...

Made my decision...probably

January 8th, 2009 at 02:24 pm

After talking and talking and more scrutinizing of the budget I (or we?) have made the decision that come the end of May I will be cutting back at work and getting a prn nursing job to supplement my income if needed.

I will be reducing my hours from 32 per week to 24. That is a 32 hour per month decrease. It sounds scary but once we looked at the (mostly emotional) benefits of me staying at home more it made a lot of sense.

Now, that doesn't mean I won't work more...I will. Which probably sounds funny considering I am cutting back. Well, I am though. I will no longer HAVE to work certain days. I will have the flexibility to choose what other days I want to work. If we are having a busy stressful week I can forgo an extra day now and then.

The best part is that I no longer have to do that 4 day in a row night shift nightmare!!!

I am excited just for that reason! Are there cons? Of course. I will be giving up two nights a pay period on my favorite unit and when I pick up prn it will probably be on one of the outside units.

We have decided to wait until the end of May because by then the car and braces, along with 2 credit cards will be gone. I also plan on calculating my budget based upon my new three day week with any extra income going to credit cards.

I think it will make for a good summer. I will have more time with my family and with C. at 15 years old there are only so many more summers left before she goes to college!

______________________________________

In other news, I am feeling better though not near 100%. My throat is still sore and I am just physically exhausted. I lost weight though! I'm not sure how much but I put on a fresh pair of jeans yesterday out of the dryer and they were loose! Just water weight but it makes me feel good!

Today is the first day I don't have any hint of a fever! Now, if all this congestion could just disappear...

I love the physician who gave me this hydrocodone cough syrup. It helped me sleep! I don't plan on taking any doses today because it knocks me out but wow, that stuff worked! I can see why people can get addicted.

After I pick up the girls from school we are headed to Kohl's so I can get something to wear to the funeral tomorrow. I have two nice pair of black trousers and one is too small and the other too big. I may be getting something for C. and E. too...we'll see. They can wear tan dress pants to the calling hours but I want them to have a skirt for the funeral. I don't know why...just seems appropriate.

I'll let you know how much we spent, I would like to keep it below $100.

Kind of a no spend week

January 7th, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Yes, that is what we are having around here. We had so much food left from the party (which M.'s company paid for!) that we have been eating 100% free since Saturday.

The only money that has been spent is:
23.00 Dr./medicine (5.00 copay, 18.00 medicine)
24.00 lunch money
15.00 to pay balance owed to Dr.
5.00 for vaseline and kleenexes

total: 67.00
ok, not really a no spend week but still pretty cheap. Since M. works from home and I have been ill all week we have had no need to get gas. I figure we can hold out about one more day and then it will be time to get some groceries.

By the way, our party on Saturday cost a total of 400.00. We paid for 100.00 and M.'s company paid for 300.00!

At the end of every year M.'s boss (CEO) tells M. to take his family out to eat. Well, this has kind of evolved into us throwing a party for our family and friends instead of spending money on a one time restaurant meal for 4 people. J. (the boss) is amazing. I'm pretty sure he pays for it out of his own pocket.

J. has done so many great things for us over the years I couldn't even begin to name them. And he is the type of rich person who doesn't look rich or act it either. Maybe that's the reason he can afford to be so generous!

Don't you just love people you know put on a show? E. has a friend whose parents are huge image people. She always has a new SUV and he drives a used BMW. The clothes and hair are impeccable and everything is Coach or some other expensive brand. I have no idea how they manage it because they probably make less than what we do.

Normally I would say maybe they have no debts but I have heard this woman make the comment about living paycheck to paycheck and worrying about credit cards. That is stunning to me. And I am a credit/debt shopaholic mess so for that to stun me is something!

I am pretty sure her purse she normally carries around cost at least 400.00 and trust me it is the real thing.

sigh.

I have to watch myself. Sometimes when I see people living like that I think, "well, why can't I enjoy a life like that too?"

I guess that kind of thinking has gotten me into this mess. Well, that and spending tens of thousands of dollars on C.'s dancing since age 3.

And that's a WHOLE other drama which I am glad is OVER! Love dance but hate competition. I wish I could have seen earlier how toxic it can be. I suppose many will say, "but it's how you handle it as a parent." Well I suppose so but there is something intrinsically twisted about judging a 7 year old in a sequined outfit tap dancing.

I don't have trouble with a 7 year old on stage but I have trouble when she is given a score by "judges." Also, I think it is just a HUGE money making scheme. All the entry fees, etc... And we dealt with Dance Masters most of the time which according to a lot of people, is one of the better competition outfits around.

But anyway, I am rambling. I don't mean to put down people who do dance competitions...we did it for years and C. has some amazing memories. I just think for me personally that the younger ones shouldn't be competing. When you are a teenager yes but I have seen SO many girls pushed and pushed and pushed. Wrong.

I guess hindsight is 20/20 huh?

Back from the Dr.

January 6th, 2009 at 09:16 pm

Well, I'm back to my couch. Visited my physician and he thinks I probably have the flu. He said if I don't start improving significantly in two days that I might have a secondary infection and will need an antibiotic.

He gave me the narcotic cough syrup that allowed me to take a nap without waking up every 15 min. to cough which I swear I did last night!

Had to spend money today but not too much. My copay is only 5.00 and the medicine was pretty cheap. I also bought more kleenex and vaseline for my nose!

So that is my grand update for the day. Not too exciting! At least I don't have pneumonia...yet!

Really Sick

January 6th, 2009 at 02:36 pm

I am so sick. I will be going to the Dr. in one hour. I can't breathe, my nose is stuffed, I have a terrible burning cough and I am wheezing. I have a fever.

Started getting sick on Saturday and I thought by now I should be getting better but I am a lot worse. A lot.

I blame my husband for giving me this dreaded virus? or bacteria? I don't know, I think I may be developing a secondary infection which is bacterial in origin. But then again it might just be the flu. I might come home with an antibiotic but I am going to ask for Codeine/guaifenesin for this horrible burning cough.

I can't stand being sick!!! I have so many things I need to do around the house and I can hardly move other than to sit on this couch.

At least yesterday I could breathe through my mouth. Now that is hard because of my lungs.

Well, sorry for this rambling complaining post. I had to "get this off my chest." haha. terrible joke.

Questions and sad news

January 5th, 2009 at 01:03 pm

I found out yesterday my paternal grandmother died. On my father's birthday...which was December 31st. The way I found out was through reading our local paper...well, actually my grandma read the paper and called me.

Now, I am not a cold hearted person at all but I am finding it hard to feel like someone should feel when their grandmother dies. I hardly knew her. Not that I didn't want to, but I never got the chance. My father has lived in Arizona most of my life and the grandma has mostly lived in Arizona, Florida and now Ohio the last several years.

My father has not been a stellar person. I saw him erratically growing up and he would always promise me all these fantastic things then not come through. But I am ok with that I think. He would always send the obligatory Christmas and Birthday presents and occasionally fly me out to visit but that was the extent of our relationship. He left when I was six and I saw him again at ages: 7, 12, 17, 19, 20, 22, 28, 32. That's it.

One time he moved to Texas for a couple years and he didn't tell me and his number was out of service so for months I didn't know if he was dead or alive!

But enough of that.

I am upset that he didn't call me right away. Even the next day would have been fine but 5 days? Plus, she was in a nursing home less than an hour away and I could have taken the girls to see her because they had only met her once. But of course I am not privy to any of that information.

The other part that gets me is that in the obituary it has listed that she had 11 grandchildren...she had twelve because I have a half sister who was completely ignored worse than me. But who knows, I may be that forgotten granddaughter.

Oh, and another line stated, "She loved spending time with her grandchildren." Really? That is news to me!

Ok, I should stop now. Sorry, I just feel angry and hurt.

But my dad ended up calling late last night. I didn't tell him I knew until after he told me. He didn't find that surprising. M. thinks someone called him and reminded him it might be a good idea to let his daughter know but I don't think so. No one has his number except my grandma and I know she didn't do that.

I am hurt because my dad didn't think to let me know she was that ill and then when she died waited a week to tell me. Having to find out your grandma died through the local paper is kind of surreal.

The same thing happened when my grandpa died and I ended up not attending the funeral because M. was out of town and I felt too scared to go by myself.

But this time we are going to the calling hours and the funeral. They are on Thursday and Friday and are an hour away so we are going to be there!

____________________________________

Ok, now I need to abruptly change the subject in case anyone is still reading this lengthy dissertation. Again, I hope I don't sound cold but it is hard to be in mourning for someone you hardly know.

Someone told me that since DH doesn't have an office he works at and his office is at our house in a spare bedroom that would could somehow deduct that from our taxes. Is this true?

There literally is no office for him to work at. He travels to job sites but the only office is in Israel. So can we deduct that space somehow that is 100% dedicated to his job? Also, what about his car? He gets reimbursed mileage but he drives it all over the country when he doesn't fly.

If someone more intelligent than me could answer that would be greatly appreciated.

Should I work less to earn more?

January 4th, 2009 at 08:51 pm

Well my grand notion that we would be getting a large tax refund has imploded. Thanks to my incompetance regarding tax law I was completely off. Sad.

It looks like we may break even or possibly even owe. This is painful!

The problem? We made too much money. So that basically means all that work I do is getting eaten up in taxes. It means that four day stretch of living on 4 or (if I'm lucky) 5 hours of sleep daily is worth very little. The stress is not worth it.

Now, by me saying we make too much is not to imply we are rich. We are not. We are buried in too much debt and we both love to spend money...hence the debt. However, we have made great strides these past few months to change our spending habits and reduce our debt. Could we make it with me working 3 days a week instead of four?

Yes.

Would we have less money to play with? Absolutely!

But, I hate the idea of working to just pay taxes. If I can spend more time at home with my kids then that is what I will do.

I have also wondered about investing more and if that would make a difference...I'm not sure it would.

I don't plan on cutting back just yet, if I do it will be late spring/early summer. I mentioned it to M. but we need to talk about it in more detail before arriving at a decision. The good thing about being a nurse is that I can easily pick up extra time if I need to.

Well, we had our big party last night and had to contend with three bad drunks. One threw up on our front porch and the other mooned everybody. I don'tlike to drink so I was completely sober. M. drank a little but wasn't drunk. It was a pretty good time I guess.

I am very sick today. Aches, pain, stuffy nose, fever and sore throat. Even tylenol and Ibuprofen is helping just barely. I am wearing a Breathe Right strip on my nose around the clock.

I just watched the Cavs lose by two points! The first game I watch all season and they lose! BOO!

Work Evaluation

January 2nd, 2009 at 11:42 pm

As I was scrambling to leave work a few minutes early today to get C. to her Dr. appt. my supervisor stopped by and asked if I could come to her office after I was done so she could give me my evaluation. I swear I just had an evaluation a few months ago but I guess it's been a year!

Well, I went to her office and read through my evaluation. It was all good and I was rated excellent on quality of work, job knowledge, creativity and cooperating/getting along with co-workers.

My area of improvement? Supervisory skills. I already knew this. In fact, I have posted about this before. According to my evaluation I need to be more "assertive" in dealing with nursing assistants and not let them "overstep" me.

I couldn't agree more but seeing that other people recognize this in me is a little hard to take. I guess it makes me feel really ineffective as a "leader."

I am going to work on this. I have to get over this idea that I need to be friends with everyone. That just can't happen all the time.

So, that was the evaluation. On the positive side the other comments were "very good" and "very caring." Not too shabby.

I guess I can breathe a sigh of relief...my job appears to be safe!

Clutter update

January 2nd, 2009 at 08:35 am

We worked hard today on our clutter problem. In the kitchen I organized one cupboard using baskets to store our medications/vitamins in. I probably threw out more bottles than I kept.

We also cleaned the stove top and wiped down all the cabinets. M. shampooed the carpets in E.'s room, the living room and the den.

Tomorrow we will attack our bedroom. We will be moving all the furniture to sweep and shampoo the carpet.

My spending has been out of control due to buying pizza and cleaning supplies...along with paying my cousin 45.00 to help me. But it was totally worth it.

She is a college student and is always in desperate need for money so if I was going to pay someone to help me clean at least it was to someone I love!

Clutter

January 1st, 2009 at 02:02 pm

As the name of my blog suggests, I am on a journey, a quest, hike, a lazy "meander" and sometimes a sweaty stumble to achieve simplicity in my life. A road block on this trip is the clutter that consumes my life.

I have lived as a frantic consumer for too long and my house reflects this. I feel burdened by my "stuff." Yet for some reason I can't seem to let go of it. Clutter builds around me in heaps and piles and it chokes my mind...inhibits my expression.

I need to make a greater effort to get rid of it.

I have expanded my three ring binder beyond the realm of bills and haphazard menus and shopping lists to contain distinct sections related to getting my life in order.

I have calendars I printed for FREE off different websites and that list daily, monthly, yearly cleaning/home organization goals. I feel like this is the most effort I have ever given to free myself of the excessive "stuff" in my life.

This is all related to finance I believe because with greater clarity comes the ability to discern the superfluous from the necessary.

Thus begins my journey to declutter my life.

Happy New Year!!!

January 1st, 2009 at 08:16 am

Just a quick check in to wish everyone a blessed, prosperous, 2009. My hope is to be content with what I have and achieve simplicity and balance in my life.

I have been busy working and also having fun the last day or two!