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COBRA and BS (College)

August 18th, 2016 at 02:13 am

I really wanted to title it COBRA BS, but no. I found out how much the COBRA is going to cost us. It's not as high as the $2500 we originally thought, but it is still $2230.17 a month. We're going to have to see if we can't find something cheaper.

All we really need is catostrophic coverage. It is cheaper to pay out of pocket for all our medical stuff than to pay that kind of money for insurance. We'd go without if I wasn't afraid something big might happen. Or that the government would steal our tax refund as punishment.

DH will start investigating when he gets home on Monday. Right after he goes down to apply for unemployment. There's got to be something else that isn't going to drain our resources like that. Unemployment won't even come close to covering the cost of that. Considering how much he has paid into Unemployment over the years, he really ought to be getting more than he will be, but that's not how it really works.

Mom said we can completely suspend our loan payments to her until DH finds a new job. So that will help. It's not something I like at all, but we've got to make our savings last as long as possible. Unless company b comes in with a last minute offer, we are operating on the idea of Sunday being DH's last day of work.

We are also looking at DH starting his BS in Electrical Engineering. There are times when 20 years of experience, a strong recommendation from parent company, and two AS's still don't count as much as a BS in the hiring process. Of course ultimately, BS with only a few years of experience washes out and then DH gets hired, because book learning is never the same as real life on the job experience, but some HR people only want what looks good on paper (book learning) and always have to learn the hard way. Especially with this one guy who keeps getting hired over DH over the years and yet in the end DH is the one who ends up with the job when this guy can't handle it.

With college we'd go through our savings even faster, but in the long run it will help us so much for him to have that that I think we have to do it. If he does full time it would be $10,800 a year. We are looking at half time, though, as hopefully he'll be working at something, so $5,400. He'd do it completely online. We think all or most of his credits should transfer and he'll be able to just start at 3rd year, but he'll have to have a transcript review done, which of course costs money, too.

I won't take out loans. I'm not going down that road. Both kids have said they would get jobs to contribute. Can you believe that? I don't want it to come to that, though. Especially with my daughter, who is fragile in both health and mental health and has her next year of college paid for.

I have been trying to think of things I can do, though it is hard with my disabilities. I can't work a job where I'd be on my feet all day like when I was a cook without severe pain and with me being out of the workforce for 20 years, I'm not sure any of my bookkeeping or office skills would be current. My jobs were summer farm work, babysitting, Visiting Nurse chore worker, cook, tutor (but in outdated things like Word Perfect and DOS and Peachtree and Ten-Key calculator and old Data Entry systems), and receptionist/bookkeeper. Most of that I can't do anymore because of my physical limitations. I am broken and obsolete.

So hopefully DH finds something. Something in the $5000 a month take home range with semi-decent medical insurance so we can keep paying Mom and I can keep up with the out of pocket physical therapy that keeps me walking and gardening and taking care of our mini-farm. We can survive on less, but without the PT life would be miserable for me. And without being able to pay Mom back, it wouldn't be roses, either.

If he can find that until he can find something better, we will be just fine. I keep hoping for a last minute miracle, but I really do not think we are going to get one.

Not Much Going on and a Military Question

May 27th, 2016 at 06:05 am

It's been a slow couple of days. I went to Water Zumba on Wednesday, took today off from exercise, and will go to water aerobics tomorrow. I really wish they had the Zumba three times per week.

The Integrated Chemistry and Physics curriculum seems to be going well so far. The other stuff hasn't arrived yet. I think we will be able to finish off the Money Management course in 12 days if the online program doesn't malfunction again.

I haven't been spending the last few days. Tomorrow is payday so there will be a few bills paid and a trip to the grocery store. I also have physical therapy tomorrow so there will be money spent for that.

I know there are a couple of military families on here and I have a question. If the spouse in the military dies and the family is living in base housing, how long would the family have before they had to vacate the house?

I'm a Great Aunt Again for the Fifth Time and Other Stuff

May 21st, 2016 at 06:25 am

My niece, the one who is only a year older than my daughter, gave birth to a baby girl last night and named her Braelynn Alice. I like the combination of a very modern name with an old-fashioned name. I did much the same with my daughter's name. She was 8 lbs 5 oz and 20.5 inches long. I've been to see her twice and got to hold her today. She has masses of black hair and I think her eyes are brown. Baby eye color often changes, though.

I can't even imagine having a baby at 20 years old. I know women used to do it all the time, but I felt so young when I was 20, not at all ready to be as grown up as having a child makes you need to be. But I think she will be a fantastic mother. She has such a nurturing instinct and she has always loved babies (which I did not).

I didn't go to the pool for 2 days as I really overdid it and then I gave myself a massive bruise on one shoulder. I got back there today. I have decided not to do anymore back to back classes. One a day, every other day until I can build up my muscles, then I can consider going more days a week. But I don't think I will try back to back classes again any time soon.

DH got a confirmation on the overtime so that will be nice. I had to order new curriculum for my son. The program he's been using, which is online, is down all the time or glitches, and earlier this week, it erased all of the progress he has made in his English class. It's just gone. And half of the history lessons he's done vanished, too. He's going to finish his money management class and then I'm pulling the plug on that curriculum. If I'm paying $100 a month, I expect it to work all the time.

His first new books arrived yesterday. It is an integrated chemistry and applied physics course and is two full credits. The local high school would consider this two year's worth of science as they give .5 credit per semester. He is really excited about it and is already working on it. I think it is set up very well. And it's all offline, so no website to go down.

I also ordered Washington state history, World history, and Algebra 1 from Hooked on Schoolhouse, which is an interactive CD-ROM based program. DS has been struggling with Geometry, so we are going to go back and do Algebra 1 again first. He missed a lot of school when he took Algebra as a Freshman and he had a bad teacher who couldn't keep the class under control, which made it hard for him to focus. He's good at math when he has the foundation in place, so we are going back to make that foundation stronger.

I got Hooked on Schoolhouse French, too. Again, all interactive CD-ROM stuff with worksheets to print out.

I also ordered a 6th grade spelling book because his spelling is really bad, so we're going back to drill. They don't seem to make high school spelling books, so I figure we'll do 6th, 7nth, and 8th and that will give him plenty of practice.

I got him a tenth grade Vocabulary and a 9th grade writing. His essay writing is not very good and he needs practice in the fundamentals. He will do a tenth grade literature course at the same time, skipping the stuff he already did in the online English course that vanished on him, which was mostly Shakespeare and poetry.

He should be able to test through some of the World History fast since he's taken a semester's worth of it and start about halfway through. The WA state one is not very long, so he'll zip through that.

Once he gets through all of that, we'll get 11th grade curriculum, mostly from the same place we got the science curriculum. Except for French which will stay with Hooked on Schoolhouse.

I spent about $600 on curriculum, but it'll average out over the next several months, instead of paying $100 a month. It'll be paid for with some of the overtime money.

Odds and Ends

May 11th, 2016 at 01:05 am

I sent for a $15 check from Pinecone. I have not been doing swagbucks in a while and I don't do it consistently anymore. I should get back to it, I could use the gift cards, but most of the time when I think about it, it's more of an "eh," sort of thought. I used to have it running in the back ground a lot, but that was before they stopped letting you disable the sound for the whole session and you had to disable it on each video instead. That's more of annoyance than I wanted to deal with. I haven't done it in a few months so maybe that's changed, but I really can't be bothered at the moment.

My son will be doing his standardized testing on the 19th, but he has to do a practice test on the 12th (only a half hour). And it really irritates me that everything is on East coast time, so there are no afternoon sessions on the West Coast. DS is not a morning person.

And he will have to do the testing on my laptop because it is the only one that can handle their system requirements for the testing browser, which means I won't have access to my computer for several hours on the 19th. Grr. I am also irritated that there is no time built into the testing schedule for lunch. They get two fifteen minute breaks in 6 hours of testing. I guess the bright side of doing the testing at home is that he can have food right there with him.

I can use my old laptop, but it is so slow, and I can't do video editing on it since the software on it doesn't play well with the forced Windows 10 upgrade.

I guess I can spend the day writing. I should anyway, but I hate having to use the old laptop as the replacement cord doesn't fit snugly and falls out, and the battery in it is so bad it only holds a 30 minute charge. Maybe I'll duct tape it for the day.

We have two rabbits due to kindle. One was due two days ago and the other was due yesterday. The one that was due yesterday is pulling fur, but otherwise no kits yet.

The garden is roaring along. I have harvested chives, oregano, kale, chard, pak choi, sorrel, and 3 types of lettuces already. I saw a head the size of a softball on one of the Romaescu broccoli's yesterday so maybe by next week we'll be eating that, too. I can already tell it is going to be a ridiculously good garden year.

Almost everything is planted. I have to wait a bit longer for putting cantaloupe in the ground. I've also got a couple of sweet potatoes in jars of water that I'll be putting out in large containers just to see if they will do anything. They both have lots of leaves on them and one has lots of roots, the other only has 2 roots. This isn't sweet potato country, but since this summer is shaping up to be like last summer I thought I'd give it a whirl. If nothing else it has a pretty flower.

We still don't know anything about DH's job or the contract. I'm starting to wonder if they'll make the announcement before the old contract runs out in June. We're already 1/3 of the way through May so it is starting to seem more and more likely that those are the intentions. Frustration, they name is Lucky Robin.

The stress is getting to me. I am stress eating and I did a little stress spending, too. Although that's not so bad. I bought $120 worth of new clothes, but only paid $40 for it, since I had that many points in my rewards program. I needed new tops as all of my old ones were too big and another summer nightgown as most of my summer nightgowns show a little too much on top and with a sixteen year old boy in the house I was having to wear a t-shirt over them which defeats the purpose of a lightweight nightgown.

I also bought two sun dresses, one for me and one for my daughter. I am really happy with all of the tops, too, because they are my colors. So many times in the past I have been forced to buy pastel things if I wanted clothes that fit, but this year they have some strong teals and turquoises going on as well as magenta and deep purple. All that's missing is jewel tones.

I'm going to weed out the tops that are way too big now. Even my favorite ones. I've already done it with my jeans and sweats. Fortunately my other dresses can just be belted in more so they'll last at least another summer.

Not much else going on. I've got a lovely herbed chicken roasting with potatoes and a relatively open evening to binge watch Girl Meets World on Netflix. Which is so good, if you ever loved Cory and Topanga and Boy Meets World, once you get past the first cheesy episode.

Stuff and Other Stuff

November 11th, 2015 at 06:43 am

As exhausted as I am, and as sick as I still am, I am doing better on the antibiotics. Better enough to have cooked for the past 7 days. A week without takeout feels like a major milestone at this point. Now granted, some of the meals were pretty simple, just heating up food I'd previously frozen, like lasagna, or homemade TV dinners, but even so, no money wasted on takeout.

I have so much to do still, though. I need to clean up the garden beds I haven't gotten to yet. I've got rabbits due to kindle this coming weekend, but I've prepared their nesting boxes and given them to them, so now it's just a wait for it thing. I need to get their trays changed though. I did half of them on Sunday and need to get the other half done tomorrow. DS doesn't have school so we should be able to do it pretty quickly.

I finally made it through 3 hampers of laundry today, 4 loads of which were towels, and 2 loads of which were clothes. I think we have too many towels, but I guess it was good when I was too sick to do the laundry. I have one load of clothes and sheets left to do for me and then there is another hamper full of DH's stuff, but he won't be home until the 18th, so that can slide if needed.

I will have to drag myself to the store tomorrow as we are out of milk and I have a small list of other things to pick up. Then I have to pick up a prescription. I haven't gone out since Friday, so it'll be nice to get out of the house. Cabin fever, I think. I may go to water aerobics if I can drag myself out of bed in the morning. No school so I don't have to. Haven't done water aerobics since Tuesday of last week. I miss it, but it's hard when you have brain fog from an illness to move in the mornings.

We may be pulling DS from school and homeschooling again. I've found a good program that is heavily video based which he needs. He still hasn't recovered all of what he lost with the concussion several years ago, so lots of reading is just hard on him. But this combines words on the screen being read aloud and he just does so much better that way. He learns very well from hearing or hands on work and he can still memorize easily, but his reading is so slow. It's been over 3 years so I'm not sure he'll ever get that back.

He's just been so sick this school year he has missed more days than he's gone. By a lot. School is making him sick with all its sick kids and germs and then he comes home and gets me and his sister sick and I think for all our sakes it may be the right thing to do. He also complains that his math teacher can't keep control of the class so it is hard for him to concentrate. Math is usually his best subject and he enjoys it, but he just can't focus.

We'll make the decision one way or the other by the end of the week. The program is $100 a month, but I think that is worth it for our health and his ability to go at his own pace. I know he'll race through some things and go slow on others, but he'll be allowed to, unlike in public school. He'll also be able to take AP classes if he wants to, which are only offered before school currently at his high school.

Once he turns 16 in March he can join me and his sister at water aerobics, too, so he can get his PE credits that way. Or do the home school PE program at the gym. There is one.

It's a lot to take on homeschooling again, but I think this program will be far less hands on for me than the one we did before. I'll likely only have to baby-sit him through English. And we'll get a transcript from it so if he ends up going back his senior year to get a diploma things will transfer. Although I think he might be able to get a diploma through this program, too. I don't remember for sure as I have looked at a lot of curricula this week.

It would be nice not to have to be a slave to the school schedule anymore. Better all around for all of us.

Expenses, School Concert, Work News, and T-Day

November 27th, 2014 at 03:00 am

Yesterday I spent $166.22 to buy my son dress shoes and socks for his concert. I was very irritated that the teacher was insisting on dress shoes when I think that black tennis shoes would have been perfectly fine and definitely indistinguishable from the audience. But not having the proper attire counts against their grades. Ugh.

Unfortunately when your kid has a size 15 foot, you pretty much have to take what they have and you have to go somewhere expensive to even find a shoe size over 13. We went to a men's suit store. It was either that or Red Wings, which is more expensive. They are nice shoes and hopefully he can wear them for a while before outgrowing them. He is only 14 and since his father has a size 16 foot I can't be sure his feet won't still grow. I am sure when he does outgrow them they will be nice enough to recoop the cost a bit on e-bay, since he will only wear them to concerts.

I was also irritated that she required dark socks as well. All of my son's socks are white. The shoe and sock requirement did not come out until Monday. At the beginning of the school year all that it said was required was black pants and a dress shirt for boys and a skirt and blouse or a dress for girls. They have choir robes they wear over that anyway, so not sure why the shirt even matters, but whatever. We had plenty of time for and bought in early October.

If I had known about the shoes we could have bought online and saved some money, but there wasn't time. It was just really irritating to have an unexpected expense. Fortunately my daughter has both black flats and black boots so her footwear was covered.

The concert was okay, but it was very disorganized. The auditorium is too small for the sound system, or else the guy on the sound board just thinks that louder is better. The choirs were very good, except the poor girl who choked during her solo, as were the orchestras.

The jazz band was flat on one song and another song was the worst arrangement of Eleanor Rigby I have ever heard. Their 2nd song was really good, though, and the saxophone and trombone solos were wonderful. The percussion band was so overwhelmed by the loudness of the drums you couldn't hear the xylophones or the triangle at all. The drums seriously did not need a microphone. And the band instructor didn't know how to speak into a microphone, but had plenty to say. I've nicknamed him Mr. Mumbles.

Man, I'm grumpy. I'm still not over my illness. I think being out last night disrupted my routine and screwed with my circadian rhythm because I kept waking up all night last night. Which does not help anything ever.

I sold 2 dozen duck eggs today and so put $10 into the feed money jar. I've also given away 5 dozen eggs this week. 2 to my physical therapist, 2 to the chiropractor and one to my in-laws. Now I am down to just 18 duck eggs and 3.5 dozen chicken eggs. We will be making a couple pound cakes so that will use up a lot.

I found out from DH that he is going to be called back in early, on December 31st. So we have gone from 5 weeks with no pay to just 22 days with no pay. Way, way better, we won't have to touch the Emergency Fund at all, and I don't think we will need to touch the Christmas bonus either to cover the time off. That takes so much pressure off me right now. And it means I will definitely hit my $10K by the end of the year in the EF! We also don't have to be quite so tight with Christmas, thank goodness.

Tomorrow should be a much better day than today. A nice low-key Thanksgiving with the organic turkey we raised and butchered ourselves, potatoes we raised ourselves, green beans we raised ourselves, and homemade stuffing from homemade bread and homemade pie. It's a very self-sufficient meal and that feels really neat.

December Planning

October 10th, 2014 at 02:45 pm

I found out last night that instead of having to take 4 weeks of unpaid time off in December, DH is going to have to take 5 weeks of unpaid time off going into the new year. I'm pretty sure we won't be able to handle this without dipping into the Emergency Fund.

DH is going to try to get a little overtime, but they have not really been forthcoming with it this year, so we certainly can't rely on that.

We have plenty of vegetables and fruits canned and meat frozen, so we could get by without having to buy too much in the way of groceries in December. Mostly just things like milk and lettuce and oranges. Between our five laying ducks and our four laying hens we have plenty of eggs.

I am a little concerned about Christmas, though. We don't buy for many people anymore, but I still need to come up with about $500 for it.

I hate not being prepared for things, but when they jacked up the portion of medical insurance we have to pay this year the paychecks really took a hit. It wouldn't have been so bad with a lower deductible, but $5000 out of pocket is a lot on top of that. We've got 3 people on medications that are quite expensive so we'll be slapped with that again when January hits, since the don't cover prescriptions until the deductible is hit.

With the end of those tax breaks a couple years back, DH is effectively bringing home about $1200 less every month than he was when he first started working for this company. And they decided they wouldn't be giving raises out this year after all. It frustrates me. Especially since we can't rely on the Christmas bonus to make up the shortfall of no pay for five weeks. We used to be able to save for this, but this year has just been one thing after another.

We have decided to start DH on his bachelors degree. Since there isn't really any place he can go right now to get a higher income, this is the most sensible move. We'll have to pay $100 to have his transcripts reviewed from his A.S. in Electrical Engineering, and then the first class he will take will cost $800. We may dip into the Emergency Fund for that, too. I know it's not a true emergency, but it'll get us to the tax refund time and then we can pay for the schooling out of that and some how or another start setting some money aside as well. How? I don't know yet. It's something we will have to figure out.

Long Morning

August 29th, 2014 at 06:25 pm

Today was a very long morning. I spent it at the high school getting my daughter's schedule changed. It took some doing as the bull dog on the front counter was all, "We don't switch classes because of teachers," and I was, "Well, you better, as this woman is not teaching my child ever again." Finally got in to talk to the counselor and explained how Mrs. Z acted and was the main reason my daughter dropped out of school last year rather than go back and deal with this piece of work and how the woman was instrumental in many aspects of her nervous breakdown.

We never even thought it would be an issue, because this teacher previously only taught home ec, child psychology, interior design, and health, none of which my daughter was taking. But this year she is for some reason teaching English. And plus, we had put in her file that that woman was to never be her teacher again.

Anyway, the counselor, who is new this year (the one who knew the history of the situation retired last year), was sympathetic to her cause and changed her schedule right around. Since she only needs one English credit to graduate, we dropped the one English class entirely and changed the other one to British Literature.

So now my daughter has two free periods first semester, which is actually a good thing, because of the skull fracture that happened August 2. She will only have Algebra 2, which she is repeating as she got a D in it and Chemistry, which she is also repeating from her junior year as she failed the 2nd semester, as her hard classes. She did well first semester, so that will be more of a review for her, but things devolved for the second semester (which was when issues with Mrs. Z began, as well as anxiety attacks and depression that she was told over and over by this teacher don't really exist). Her other two classes will be ceramics and choir.

DD has been on anti-anxiety pills and anti-depressants for several months now and things are going much, much better for her, but she still wouldn't have been able to handle having that woman as a teacher again. And I don't want her anywhere near any of my kids, anyway.

So it was a very stressful way to start the day, but hopefully the stressful part is over. I go to physical therapy in an hour and then hopefully I will have time to get my pickles canned this afternoon.

Last night I picked a dozen tomatoes, another very large zucchini, a red jalapeno, 2 cucumbers, 2 plums, and some green beans. Earlier this week I also picked 2 more zucchini, 3 cucumbers, a broccoli Romanescu, and some green beans. I've earned back the money I spent on the garden now, so anything from here on out is where I start actually saving money by having a garden. Probably tomorrow I will need to pick 2 more zucchini, some kale, and another broccoli Romanescu.

I read that you can grow garlic in gutters, so once everything dies off in the gutters at the end of the season, I will fertilize and top off the dirt in one of them and then around November I will plant garlic cloves 4 inches apart. We do better with garlic if we plant in the fall. Same with onions, but I don't have the space for that. That way I should have a decent crop of garlic next summer and also some lovely scapes.

Here's an update on some of the garden stuff around here and some of the animals. I'll do other gardens later in the week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dwBuVvstvc

School Clothes Shopping

August 23rd, 2014 at 05:48 am

We went school clothes shopping today. I am exhausted. And I only went to two places. My husband took the kids shoe shopping by himself and they each got a pair of tennis shoes. I had physical therapy. Afterwards we went to Joe's Garden and got a bunch of produce that I'll be putting up.

Then we went to Good Will. My daughter found 2 blouses, a pair of pants, and a belt, and my son found 2 t-shirts, 1 pair of jeans (Calvin Kleins shockingly) and 2 button down shirts (he is so preppy) that looked like they had never been worn. I found 4 blue bowls just like the set we've broken most of and my husband found a metal pirate ship that was gorgeous. It was such an impulse buy, but at $8 I really didn't feel like saying no. He does so much and asks for very little.

After that we went to Kmart and did the bulk of their clothes shopping. We'll still need to find more jeans for my son, they only had one pair in his size that fit right, and they'll both need sweats when they show up in the stores, but otherwise we got everything we needed except winter jackets. We spent around $500 on clothes and $62 on shoes. Ugh. My son had basically grown too tall for all of his clothes, though. He would have needed them even if we were still homeschooling, though I would have spread the purchases out more.

By the time we finish buying school supplies, lunch boxes, backpacks, ASB cards and year books, we'll probably have spent $1000. Double ugh.

One Thing I Didn't Miss About School...

August 4th, 2014 at 08:08 am

...was all the fees. With one kid starting as a freshman and one kid going back to complete her senior year I get to pay twice the fees. So far it is going to cost $80 for two ASB cards and $100 for two year books. If we wait until second semester to buy the year books it will be $130.

But starting off with $180 before even buying school supplies and clothes annoys me greatly. Maybe I will just do the ASB cards to start and see if I can postpone the yearbooks until next month.

I won't be doing school photos. Too expensive, no choices, and if they turn out bad there's no recourse unless the kid had his eyes shut. I'd rather take them to the mall were you get several choices to choose from if I want photos like that.

Not looking forward to packing sandwiches again or having to pay for deli meat. Still, in my physical condition, I just cannot homeschool this year, so it is what it is. /vent

I am So Worn Out

June 19th, 2014 at 02:34 am

I feel like half my entries these days are some variation on the theme of me being exhausted. I really, really am. I've got a nasty spring cold and it is dragging me down. I am ready to be done with it.

We are almost done on the online homeschooling front. My son has one 4 paragraph comparison and contrast essay left to do for literature and then we send all the assessments off to the state. We've already gotten his report card and he made honor roll again.

I spent two hours down at the high school today. After more or less taking the semester off after having a nervous breakdown my daughter is going back to school next year. She is doing well on the medications and is really excited to be going back and getting her life back on track.

My son is also going to be starting high school in the fall so he is all signed up now. I really, really hope it works out for both of them, because I don't honestly think I could handle another year of homeschooling. The exhaustion it causes is just really getting to me. It's like I have to have my brain on all the time and some days I just want to shut it down and go on autopilot.

Things are chugging along otherwise. The gardens are growing well and I will harvest my first lettuce leaves tomorrow. I have 7 tomatoes growing and five bell peppers. In another week I can start planting in the hay bales. The green beans have taken off and most of the sprouts are up.

I am going to make some carrot seed tape and get it planted hopefully this weekend. I am just doing Little Finger carrots which don't take too terribly long to grow.

Not too much going on on the financial front. I did have to buy 2 bales of hay and 2 bags of feed. I need to budget for a big rabbit feed buy this payday, ten fifty pound bags. We will call down to the feed mill and make sure they have the 17% protein feed available before we drive down. I think the 21% is just too high for the little kits.

I have done really well on sticking to my menu plan this week. I have been really tempted to eat out, but it is not a good idea when I am sick or I will want to do it every day.

I am not looking forward to this weekend. We have to put in an appearance at my niece's graduation party, which I don't want to go to, but since I couldn't go to the graduation due to it being held in a stadium that is not really handicapped accessible, and DH couldn't go since he was in Alaska, we need to.

Then we have to butcher rabbits and chickens. We can't put it off any longer and we need the cage space. I hope I get some sleep tonight and tomorrow night so I will be in better health to deal with all this.

DH and I have decided to drop the selling price on the house $10K. I just want it gone. We need to meet with the realtors and make an adjustment to the paperwork in order to do so.

DD has her follow up doctor's appointment tomorrow. She is doing really well on the new medication so I think we can cancel the appointment with the sleep doctor now.

Getting Ready to Pay Tuition

February 18th, 2014 at 08:46 am

I transferred money from my College/Tuition Fund to my regular checking account at the CU. It was $1170. So that will arrive on Thursday and we can then make the payment and start the process of getting DD enrolled at the online high school. Our choices were pay up front the $1170 or make a down payment of $45 and make monthly payments, but then the total would be $1445.

We will actually get some of the $1170 back when we see how many of her credits transfer. Most of them should as she was halfway through her senior year and was only a week or two into the second semester. Our out of pocket will likely be around $690, so we should get $480 of the payment back. It is just the fastest and easiest way to do things without having to pay interest at some point.

Currently this leaves $930 in the College/Tuition Fund. Fortunately this is the only payment we have to make until she starts college. The whole four year program is covered by the $1170, which is why we will be getting money back. Since all text books are online and everything is graded by computer is an extremely reasonable rate for an accredited school.

Since she plans to go on and do their accredited college program afterwards for her A.S., we can look forward to much more reasonable college costs as well. I believe it is $1040 a semester for college and that includes the texts. After that she would have to transfer to a brick and mortar university, so I don't know how much it will be, if she decides to go on. But we can save meanwhile.

This is going to be interesting. I just want to get her through high school with her mental health intact and have a diploma in her hands within a reasonable amount of time. That is my priority. The rest will happen when it happens.

Long Day with Good Food at the End

November 14th, 2013 at 03:02 am

I am glad I didn't get around to making the baked potato soup last night. I was definitely in need of comfort food tonight. And it turned out beautifully:



I had to make the roux twice, though. The first time I wasn't paying attention and didn't even look at the flour DD had brought up, just dumped it in. Well, there was a dead miller moth in it. Fortunately that was the end of a bag of flour. Unfortunately, I ,had to throw out 2/3 of a cup of butter. Ouch. With butter so expensive these days, losing over a stick of it does not feel good.

How is it possible to have such a long day on such a short day? Well, I suppose having to deal with DD's evil teacher is probably why it felt so long. I totally see what DD means. The woman is a master manipulator and it was one of the first things I called her on. Let's just say woman got schooled, hard. And we got the assignments that DD should have got in the first place.

I have to say the counselor and person from admin were top rate. Neither could understand why DD hadn't been given her assignments in the first place. Teacher really was falling all over herself. The VP wasn't there. No reason given, she was supposed to be. Oh, well. Evil teacher is now on notice that her crap won't fly with us. I do wish DH could have been there. I think his physical stature alone would have cowed her even if he is the kindest, most gentle soul, but I managed all on my own at my little 5 foot 5 inches to put her in her place. It did take a lot out of me though.

Today was a no spend day, but tomorrow won't be. I really should go to the store tonight, but I am just too tired. I know I will regret not having caffeine in the morning, but I will stop at the store after taking DD to school.

Public School is Expensive

October 2nd, 2013 at 10:14 pm

This week has been ridiculous with expenses coming out of the school. DD came home with an order form for cap and gown for graduation on Monday, saying something about an $80 deposit that had to be in the next day and that the total would be $226. I kind of went through the roof (not at her or anything), but $226 for a flimsy robe and cardboard hat? Umm, yeah, no.

Fortunately on further investigation, the $226 packet included a whole bunch of crap that had nothing whatsoever to do with what was required. Things like graduation t-shirt, graduation hoody, graduation key chain, 50 announcements with two sets of envelopes, tissues, name cards, and class ring. They were selling it as a package. Um, yeah, no.

In the very back of the order packet, was a different order sheet and on it, you could buy the actual necessities for graduation, which were the cap/gown/tassel/stole for $53.50. And you could order just 25 announcements with just one set of envelopes. No need for inner and outer envelopes, special inner and outer seals, tissues, return address labels, etc. 25 announcements and envelopes was $30. Still way too much, and we don't need 25 announcements, we only need 15, but that was the least I could go.

So a total of $83.50 plus $8.95 handling fee and 7.8% sales tax, ended up with us paying $99.66, although I'm not sure if it was actually legal for them to tax the handling fee. Still $99.66 beats $226 by a mile and we saved $126.34 just because I thoroughly read through the packet. I wonder how many parents don't? I charged it to the AMEX and will pay it off on payday.

School needs to give more than 1 day's notice though. And then yesterday DD comes home with a class t-shirt order form that was due, guess when, today. I have gotten her a class t-shirt every year of high school, so I managed to eek out the $14.50 for that, as well, from the $48 left in checking until Friday. I don't mind buying these things, I just want a week's notice so I can put it in the budget, you know?

I've also come to the conclusion that the ASB needs to change its name to BYD for bleed you dry as that is what they seem to try to do in the beginning of the school year.

Got a Refund and a Laugh

September 20th, 2013 at 06:59 am

This was totally unexpected, but at the beginning of the school year my daughter rented a special calculator from the school for her math class. It was $10 for the year and since the special calculator would cost close to $100, we felt renting it was the wiser option. Well, we just got a refund check in the mail for that $10. The note enclosed said, "Do to the Districts desire to reduce/eliminate all course fees, we are refunding your students $10 calculator rental fee. If lost, the replacement fee is $100."

After I finished laughing over the school district's inability to spell or punctuate correctly, I was quite pleased. But they really should have people proofread their documents before they mail them out. Spellcheck will not notice if you use "do" or "due" incorrectly, but I certainly will. And I will also notice when you write students, but mean student's and Districts when you mean District's. Also, district's should not be capitalized. It is not listing a specific district. Honestly, four errors in a two sentence note?

Since it is signed by the principal, I am thinking about correcting the note in red felt tip pen and mailing it back to him. Okay, he probably never saw it at all, but seriously, what a bad example that sets. It's almost worth the cost of the stamp to do so. Almost. Maybe I'll email.

It does mildly irritate me that the check is made out to my husband. Since I am the one who wrote out and signed the original check it should have been refunded in my name, not his. Not that it matters in my case, I can deposit it without his signature into our account, but what if they had sent the refund to the wrong parent when the parents don't live together? Not a smart move.

The $10 will be headed to the Emergency Fund tomorrow when I deposit the Allstate refund and the coin jar money.

Payday Post

September 7th, 2013 at 06:02 am

Today was payday. Everything has been paid. Nothing is due until the 21st and after that nothing will be do until the 1st. DH ended up doing all his overtime work in five days time, so it won't be a full week of overtime, but five days is still pretty nice. I'll be able to put $1000 to the EF next week, but will have to rethink the other things I was thinking of distributing the extra money to.

We've gotten a lot of food this week. Not take out, but prepared food from the store deli. I've been out of it with my constant headache and mild nausea. Getting hit in the head with that pitchfork handle on Monday morning did me no favors. I have had no inclination to cook and with DH doing the overtime work at home, neither did he.

I'll try to get my act together this weekend. DH leaves on Monday and I can't keep letting the money fritter away when I could be cooking.

Anyway, the distribution of things today comes from a combination of this payday and last and is as follows:

$757.82 Van loan (plus extra)
__90.00 Physical Therapy
__58.00 School photos
_168.00 Storage
1000.00 Loan to Mom
_400.00 Utilities to Mom
__41.88 Life Insurance Me
__45.30 Life Insurance DH
__47.17 House Insurance (Old House)
__66.65 Car Insurance
__27.28 Electric (Old House)
__72.56 Internet
__50.22 Phone (Old House)
__55.25 Garbage
__19.00 Dues (Old House)
_225.00 Chiropractic Monthly Family Plan
_227.66 Laptop Payoff (from Laptop Fund)
_100.00 Property Tax Fund
_100.00 Vacation Fund
_100.00 Appliance Fund
_100.00 College Fund
__41.16 Security System (Old House)
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$3792.95 Paid Out

We also bought gas and groceries and spent around $500. We are all stocked up on staples and aside from some vegetables and lids for canning and some milk I shouldn't need to go to the store or a farm again for a week.

Back to School Clothes Shopping

September 2nd, 2013 at 11:51 pm

I took DD shopping for back to school clothes. Fortunately she had a lot of t-shirts she got as presents for her birthday last month, including one that will work for PE, so we didn't even have to look at those. I hate shopping for clothes. I'd sooner go to the dentist and you all know how much I hate going to the dentist. But except for a pair of dress flats we are done. She will have to purchase her own accessories, scarves, and hats this year (I am not talking about scarves and hats for winter, but the fun kind).

The damage was $322.75. For that we purchased:

2 pairs of men's boxers (she wears under her skirts)
2 sports bras for PE
2 pairs of trousers
2 pairs of sweats (1 for PE)
8 pairs of underwear
1 sweater (light weight, fall type, 3/4 sleeves)
2 pairs of boot cut jeans
2 sweatshirts
1 denim vest
2 skirts
1 pair of tennis shoes for PE
12 pairs of socks (2 pairs for PE)
3 long-sleeved button down shirts

She has several dressy blouses from last year and the year before that are still in nice shape, 3 skirts, 1 dress, 2 pairs of boots (one faux leather, one faux suede), and 2 pairs of pants.

I am glad DS doesn't need to go shopping for new clothes. He doesn't care much since we are homeschooling anyway. He will be happy in his silky basketball shorts, t-shirts and polo shirts until late November and then we will get him some sweats and jeans and socks. He won't wear them before it gets cold. Currently his tennis shoes from last spring still fit, but who knows for how much longer as he has grown so fast.

Not the Payday Post

May 17th, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Today is payday, but I won't get to the payday post until later.

Part of my son's homeschool requirements is that he take a test every fall and spring to see that he's on track for his grade level. This is different from the MSP testing he did last week. He did this back in April.

Anyway, scores came out today and his math was 850 points above the state average. Our state average is above the national average, but I don't know by how much. He's very analytical and that part of his brain doesn't seem to have been damaged last June. He's a 7nth grader and this score puts him on the math level of an average 10nth grader.

His reading skills were about where I expected them to be. High in vocabulary and non-fiction comprehension and lower in fiction and long passage reading. This is directly related to his head injury and where the brain damage occurred. Vocabulary and non-fiction are again the areas where analytical thinking comes in, while fiction is where creative thinking comes in. Long passages he still loses a bit of focus on.

There were also some issues with the test itself glitching. It's one of those tests where it adapts itself to how you're doing. If it is too easy for you and you answer all the questions it gets harder. If it is too hard, it gets easier. Well, it kept going back and forth and what should have been an hour long test ended up being a three hour test. So towards the end there I know he was just kind of wildly guessing to try to get it to finish. I'm not overly worried about it being a little low.

He wants to be in a field that uses math heavily when he grows up so fiction comprehension isn't really going to come into much play as a real life skill. Still, we'll work on that and spelling this summer. There is no spelling curriculum in middle school be it public school or homeschool, which I think is really stupid. So I'll have him log on to Spelling City and play it through out the summer.

All in all it's been a pretty successful homeschool year, though. I look forward to getting his MSP results back. They track a little more realistically when it comes to reading and writing.

Odds and Ends

May 9th, 2013 at 12:09 am

There is not too much going on in my little corner of the world right now. My son is doing MSP testing so there isn't even much going on with homeschooling this week.

We are awaiting the birth of Piper's new kits. It is day 28 in her pregnancy and they usually give birth between day 28 and day 32, so it's all up in the air which day she'll have them. She has made her nest but as of this morning has not pulled any fur yet, so I don't think it's going to be today. Since rabbits are born without fur, the doe pulls the fur off her underside to cover them with before she gives birth so it is the sign to watch for. Not only does that give them fur to be covered with, it clears the way for easier nursing for the kits.

Fortunately it will be cool the next few days. It was 80 on Monday which is not a good temperature for any rabbit, let alone a pregnant one.

I've managed to pull a few weeds, but the garden has not come any further than that. Now the DH is home, we should be able to get some work done and get things going.

Not much in the way of spending money this week, except yesterday and today I got DS Mcdonalds on the way to testing just because it was easier and more convenient that early in the morning. So $6 bucks each day and will likely do that for the next two days of testing.

He's done great so far, but the writing portion starts tomorrow so that may be more difficult for him. He would be great doing it orally, but MSP doesn't allow for that.

I'm way behind on reading the blogs here again. Hopefully everyone is doing well and having a nice spring this week.

Emergency Fund, Monthly Goals, and Whining About Standardized Testing

May 2nd, 2013 at 05:17 am

Okay, so yesterday I deposited $50.25 to the EF, and then today I shifted a bit of money around and deposited $29.24, and I also got my interest from Capitol One 360 of $2.03 today. This brings the new amount in the [/b]Emergency Fund[/b] to $3496.32. My goal for May is $3685. So I have $188.68 to go.

Tomorrow will be the regular ten dollar auto deposit and Friday I will put in $100. Since there are 5 Thursdays this month, I will have four more $10 deposits. So that is $150 and that leaves me with $38.68 to scrape up this month. That should be doable. I might even be able to hit $3700, but we'll see how things go this month. It's only an extra $15, but you never now how things will be towards the end of the month.

I would really like to get the mortgage under $12K this month. I should be able to do that, barely, since I will make a payment on the 3rd and then a payment on the 31st. The 31st will be June's payment, but it's still a psychological hit to know that in theory I'll be under $12K by month's end.

I picked up a piece of salmon today on impulse when I was getting milk, so I will be inserting it into the menu plan tomorrow and bumping the stir-fry to next week since I forgot to buy broccoli and cauliflower anyway. I'll pick some up on Saturday so we can have it as planned with Sunday dinner and then the leftovers can go into the stir-fry on Monday.

Today is the 3rd day I have stuck to my meal plan and avoided eating out or takeaway. Four days to go. I might make it a two week challenge. My stomach has stopped hurting with the end of the non-homecooked meals. It always does. I don't know why I do that to myself.

We have MSP testing starting on Monday. Rolleyes I really wish we didn't have to do it. It's not even in our city and it's at nine in the morning. Which means getting DS up before DD goes to school, which DD hates because she is low energy in the morning and DS is bouncing off the walls energy. I don't particularly appreciate having him up at seven, either. Low energy Mama that early in the morning.

And I know that despite his energy, DS will not test well in the morning. Freaking standardized state tests. He'd have to do it in public school, too. I just find it to be a useless waste of time. As I did when I was a kid and had to waste my own time on the Iowa test.

Well, it is 7nth grade. That is one of the banner years, like 10nth grade. But all those tests do is measure how well a kid takes a test. And when you've got an auditory and kinesthetic learner, a written test is the absolute worst judge anyway. He always gets above average though, so I guess I should just quit my griping and deal with it. Except driving to another town 4 days in a row is not my idea of a great way to spend my time, especially since there is no waiting area for the parents and the public library doesn't open until ten. Fortunately I will only have to do it on Tuesday. DH will do it on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I'm just glad he'll be home for most of it.

Remodel is Almost Done

April 18th, 2013 at 07:48 am

Okay, I know I keep saying I will believe it when I see it, but so far the remodelers have only given vague end times. Months, not weeks. Well, today they gave us a date. They think they will finish on April 20th. Once they are done we can make the appointment to have the new carpeting put down. The other flooring is already in, but we are carpeting the bedrooms and the living room. I wasn't originally sure about that choice, but because the floors get so very cold in the winter out there, we decided it would be the better option.

So I guess maybe it's time for me to start holding my breath. As soon as the carpet goes in we can put it on the market. One step closer. I just hope it sells fast and for a reasonable amount of money.

Some new farms have come on the market recently, anywhere between two and six acres and some of them are quite good deals. Also there is one house on six acres that is mostly wooded land, which I normally wouldn't look twice at, but it is selling for $164,900, which means we could afford to clear some land and build a rabbit shed, a chicken coop, and a pole barn.

DH made me look at a couple of farms that we cannot possibly afford, just because they were pretty. Ten acres and over 5000 square feet of living space. Oh, they were gorgeous homes. One was actually a retreat (like for businesses, had a couple of conference areas and everything). That one was $1,345,000! It was a working farm and a business, but wow. Pricey. The other was $896,000. It was so beautiful and it had the kitchen of my dreams.

But no way. We will not spend more than $375,000 for for five acres and I much prefer something under $300,000. Well, I prefer under $250,000 but I have to be reasonable. I told DH to stop showing me things I could never have. Not that I actually want that much living space anyway. The maintenance would be ridiculous. Not to mention the taxes.

The best part of the ones we found though were that they were in a different school district, so DS could have a fresh start going back to public school. I'd like him to go for 8th grade, but I flat out will not homeschool for high school. There would be no chance of the child who assaulted him being in school with him, nor the other bully that kept telling all the other kids that he was lying about his food allergies to get attention. Of course his new school won't be bully free, but to at least not start out as a victim would be nice.

Still, our house has to sell before we can even think about buying, so no counting our chickens before they are hatched. But I am more hopeful now than I have been in a long time, that we will actually finally be able to put it on the market soon.

Babbling About My Day

February 1st, 2013 at 06:40 am

The new chicken fencing is up so the chickens have a whole new "pasture" to range in that is all grass and no mud. A good time was had by all. However, they are trying to get into the compost bins. My opinion is let them. They'll scratch it up and turn it over and then we can shovel it back into the bins and close them back up.

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We got everything in under the wire for homeschooling this month. I was a little worried since both DS and I had the flu virus for a good ten days this month. But we did get caught up. Now I just need to worry about getting him through his regular lessons tomorrow and then the weekend is here and I am going to sleep.

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I met with the new doctor today and I have to say I like him a good bit. He listens well. Didn't have the physical today as he wanted to talk about some of the other problems I've been having, the dizziness, the tremors, the tingling, the dizziness, the exhaustion, the insomnia, the dizziness...

And he wants me to go for a sleep study, because he is expecting that my chronic exhaustion/insomnia situation may actually be sleep apnea. Oh, joy. So I have to call them tommorrow and make an appointment.

I also was given a mammagram paper and I need to call and set that up. I've never had one. I should have had one at 35 since my mother is a breast cancer survivor, but I had so much else going on in my health the past seven to eight year it never happened.

I also have to go over to the lab who did the blood work for my last doctor and get a copy of it sent to my new doctor, since that lab is not part of their computerized sharing system.

He also wants me to order a device for taking blood pressure at home. Fun. It's going to be an expensive next couple of months, I can tell.

Anyway, so new doctor man wants to get to the root of most of these things before I come back in 2 weeks.

So in writing down my surgeries, it came out to 11, 7 of which have been in the last decade. Geesh. No wonder I can't get well. My body is determined to kill me.

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Anyway, there was no money out today though my kids were despereate for me to get burgers, or Hawaiian Barbecue, or KFC and I totally would not. I came home and I made spaghetti and meatballs, which I think was technically tomorrow's meal, but close enough.

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I still have $120 left in my checkbook and payday is tomorrow, albeit the two day paycheck.

Yegads, the Withdrawal!

January 16th, 2013 at 06:32 am

I don't think I realized how many times a day I check in here before I suddenly couldn't. Five minutes here, five minutes there, a good hour in the afternoon or evening. So happy the site is up and running again.

I have made good use of my time researching meat rabbits and meat chickens, pens, hutches, and tractors (not the diesel kind, the movable pens with built in coops) and getting an idea of what the expense will be and the minimum size property we'll want to purchase when we are ready to move. I know we are probably two years out from raising either right now, but the more I know, the more feasible it'll be to actually do it.

There has been nothing financial to worry about this week. I'm just waiting for Friday to make another payment to BoA and another payment to the dentist for my crown.

Homeschooling is going well this week despite DS being sick with the flu. He's been hovering around 100 degrees with his fever and generally miserable. I am understanding the math faster than he is, which never happens. We're doing a reduced schedule for him at the moment, as he isn't up for a full class load, but he wants to not fall behind on the harder things to catch up on, namely math and science. We are a couple weeks ahead on history and a few days ahead on literature so as long as we get chair time in by the end of the month we're fine.

Queen got a bath today. She's been hanging low to the ground when she walks and that's usually a sign of a partly blocked vent (and it was) which can lead to getting egg bound which can lead to death. Always so much fun to break it up, but she perked up after she was dry again.

The two leghorns went over the fence to the nice neighbor lady's house, who sometimes invites them over when she's working in her garden, but she was away all day today and so her dogs were in the fenced back yard instead of the house. Oh, my gosh, I have never seen the leghorns fly before, but Ecru got going so fast she was over the neighbor's fence and across the yard and over the fence into the chicken pen in one go like a little white bullet. That's about 40 feet.

Everything I've read says they can't fly more than 15 feet, but that girl zipped like a bat out of hades, so I guess they can if their lives are in danger. I have never seen a chicken with her wings pumping so fast before, not even the time Curious got her tail feathers clipped by the same dog. Ecru was hilarious, but only because she didn't get hurt. A chicken with a dog bite is no laughing matter.

Eggshell only made it over the neighbor's fence and into our yard in one go, but she was right off the ground again and airborn a few seconds later. They do learn eventually to check for dogs first. It just takes some of them longer than the others. I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere for people getting into and out of debt, but I'm too tired to figure it out.

I did get a $5 gift card from Swagbucks for Amazon yesterday, and I got another survey from ACOP, so that'll be $3 eventually.

Payments Hit and Homeschool Stuff

January 4th, 2013 at 08:01 pm

The BoA payment I made yesterday posted. DH's hotel for his trip up, travel food, and our gym membership hit today, so the new balance is up a bit from what I said yesterday to $5,610.74.

The mortgage payment posted this morning. I made a payment of $570. Of that $68.51 went to interest and the rest to principal. The new mortgage balance is $14,446.84. My goal for February is to bring that under $14K. I am trying to pay off $500 worth of principal each month right now. I will reassess my mortgage goals after the credit card debt is paid off and I know what is going on with paychecks with the new tax laws.

Homeschool went okay yesterday, it just took forever. Although I understood the math right away (totally new concept to me) it took DS longer to cotton on to it. We are doing rays and angles and line segments, and defining whether the measured angle pairs are complimentary or supplementary or neither. The lesson ended up taking 90 minutes instead of the usual hour.

Then history took a lot longer than usual. Sometimes the curriculum splits stuff up in really stupid ways. Wednesday's history only took a half an hour while yesterday's took 90 minutes. If they divided it up better it would come to an hour a day. One day you are reading 3 pages in the history book and the next day you are reading two chapters.

It wouldn't be so bad, but we started The Secret Garden yesterday. Normally literature lessons consist of one short story or 3 or 4 poems that are read and then questions are answered about plot and character development or in the case of poems, analyzed. But when he needs to do actual books, which happens twice a semester, they divide it into ten lessons, no matter how long the book is. So he ends up reading 30 to 40 pages a day for that which wouldn't take too long, except it is using regional dialect.

Now I personally hate dialect in books. It's a pet peeve of mine. It's overdone and it makes things difficult to read. It's enough to say, hey, these people are from Yorkshire, they talk a little different and maybe give a bit of the flavor of it, but not pound the reader over the head with it. On top of that it also is using old-fashioned language so things like thyself instead of yourself are used. But when you use dialect, it's thysen instead of theyself, or youn'un instead of young one. Then a ton of questions afterwards so literature is ending up taking way, way too long.

Now all that would be fine in high school, but this is 7nth grade. We were already at 5 hours for the day with only those 3 subjects. Add on top of that grammar and usage, vocabulary, composition and either art or science, plus 20 minutes a day for PE and we were at around 8 hours and school is only supposed to take 5 and a half hours per day. We were both cranky by the time we finished.

I ended up reserving the unabridged book on CD. I'm going to allow DS to read along with the CD instead so that he isn't struggling with dialect and old-fashioned language and we can get through it faster. Fortunately the library had it in so I can just go down and pick it up today.

Hopefully today will go better. We haven't started yet as DS didn't sleep last night and I let him sleep in. I think he's coming down with what DD has. *sighs* Me, too, maybe as I didn't sleep all that well either. Well, I was well for a whole week. That's better than nothing.

Self-Indulgent Politicians Break the Future

January 3rd, 2013 at 06:53 am

All of them. I'm not picking sides.

I do not like the hit we are going to be taking with the end of the payroll tax holiday. I'm estimating $500 a month on a normal month. Probably $750 this month due to the extra week of pay. I may come up short paying off the BoA VISA this month. I am still going to try to squeeze it out, because gosh, darn it, I want it gone, but any breathing room the extra week of pay gave us is gone. Your gubmint dollars at work.

I am just very, very glad we have spent the last few years buckling down hard and paying down our debt with a vengeance and that we are used to living on less than half our income. And if it is that bad for us with a good middle class income, I can't even imagine how hard this is going to slam those who are barely scraping by. Well, hello there Great Depression 2. I'm not an alarmist by nature but I don't see us coming out of this for a long time. I worry about what the world will be like when my kids are adults.

I am starting to think about putting the whole buying a new house thing on hold for a few more years. Well, I've been thinking it for the last few months, but this may just be the final nail in the coffin. It's going to take longer to build up an emergency fund with $500 a month missing from DH's paycheck. It's certainly going to make saving for and cash flowing college harder than I thought. And Mom isn't getting any younger. With two mini-strokes to her name already I really worry more about leaving her on her own.

It's even crossed my mind to cancel or postpone Disneyland. I'm not going to, but I think this is going to be the last vacation of consequence for a few years. I'm just really glad that we'll have a full kitchen in the condo.

It's possible DH might pick up another week in February. If he did I could bank that and it would go a long way towards making up the shortfall for the rest of the year.

I am worried about my knee. It has been swollen and painful since Christmas and it's started clicking. I am going to try to get a hold of the doctor tomorrow now that the holidays are over. I am hoping it is just needing to be drained of fluid. I do not want cortizone. I also do not want to end up having knee surgery again and having yet another medical debt to pay off.

Okay, I know I sound negative and down, but I am actually in a surprisingly good mood today despite everything. This has been more of a getting it out of my system rant. DS was pretty easy on me with his first day of homeschooling since the holidays ended. And I am totally understanding the math today, so go me. I thought I was going to struggle the whole year, but I think that this unit at least will be easy.

Garden Round Up, Ducks, and a Little Money Out

October 18th, 2012 at 01:19 am

After 4 days of rain, today was a lovely, sunny day. You can still feel the chill in the air, despite the brightness. Most of the day lingered around 50, but it finally climbed up to 55 for a few hours. I've been watching the forecast closely and it looks like I'll get one more week out of my garden if they are correct. After that nighttime temps will be in the high 30's and I don't think much of anything will like that, except maybe the broccoli. Not quite freezing temps, but not veggie friendly, either, especially to the tomatoes.

Today's harvest was pretty small, as you can see:



Just 2 green beans and that was the last of it. Well, there are still blossoms, but I doubt they'll have time to grow into beans. There are 3 bunches of green onions still growing.

There is a bunch of heirloom broccoli coming on. I will be able to harvest one in about 3 days, I think. This one is as big as my fist:



All the other ones are smaller. There's not too much for color left in the garden, although the blueberry bushes are a brilliant red since their leaves have turned. And there are these brilliant orange lanterns everywhere:



Today's egg count was six chicken and 3 duck. Henrietta and Goldielocks, two of the Auracanas got out today. I've never seen them out before. Also out were Queen (of course, never met a fence that could hold her), Curious, and Pipsqueak (who is now, by the way, the 3rd largest chicken we own). A crow went after Henrietta today. Not to attack her, just to warn her off something the crow was eating. If it had been Queen she would have chased the crow off.

We've decided not to put in a light for the time being as they are keeping up with our needs just fine. We really don't need 15 eggs a day.

The ducks have been really happy with the rain lately. There are lots of puddles for them to grub in.



That is Patches with the green head and wonky wing, our only male. Next to him is Noisy. She is starting to get white feathers. Apparently Cayuga ducks turn white by the time they are four or something like that. Miz Len Tao is there behind Patches and all you can see of Lady Henry Inigo Montoya is her backside sticking out. Obviously the ducks were named well before we knew which ones were girls. But Lady and Miz never responded to their names anyway.

On the financial front, I gave DD $10 to buy a ticket to the Homecoming Dance. She was asked by a boy (her first date!) but I feel better having her pay her own way so there are no expectations. She is really excited. I am really nervous. When did I get old enough to have a daughter who was of dating age?

Payday Distribution

October 13th, 2012 at 12:27 am

Today was payday and for once I am not slacking on getting my post up for bills paid. I have enough sustainable, organic beef, chicken and pork in the freezer that I think we can skip going to the ranch this month altogether and just go the second week in November. I've also got some other things in the freezer that need to get eaten, some fish, rice, and miscellaneous items that could round out some meals, but not quite be meals in and of themselves.

Here's what came out of this week's paycheck:

$1000.00 Loan to Mom
_1700.00 Bank of America VISA
___10.00 School class t-shirt for DD
__100.00 Freezer Fund
___25.00 Garbabe (holding tank)
__105.00 Pantec
__100.00 Vacation Fund
___17.00 HoA Dues (holding tank)
__100.00 Property Tax (holding tank)
___25.00 Kids' Allowances
__100.00 propane (holding tank)
__100.00 MacBook Fund
__100.00 Christmas Fund
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$3482.00

Under $16K

October 11th, 2012 at 07:48 am

The mortgage posted to the account today and we are officially under $16K left to pay it off. $15,805.41 is the exact total. Over 80% of the payment goes to principal now. Of course we will probably sell it before it is paid off, but I still like watching it roll back past each $1000.

Speaking of things that roll, our car just hit 11,500 miles and we've had it for 16 months. Which averages out to 718.75 per month, but honestly the bulk of it was put on during our summer driving vacation in 2011, driving back and forth to Virginia Mason for tests, the surgery, more tests, follow ups and more follow ups. In an average month I'll probably drive 300 miles. In a non-average month, like when we go to the zoo or the science center it might be closer to 500, but those months are rare. When we lived out in the country we were easily driving 15,000 miles a year. We drive so much less in town.

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DH is home safely now. Looks like he might only need to work one extra week around Christmas and not two. His alternate piped up wanting some extra hours, too. So they decided to split it. It'll still be a nice amount of extra money, just not as much as we were expecting. I'm not counting on it for anything anyway. I know better than that.

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I slept pretty well last night, but I guess my body is making up for that tonight by keeping me up hacking. And it was so darn hot in the house I opened the window, but I only got to air it out a little before PePe went for a stroll and marked his territory. The skunk comes through at least once a week and always, it seems, when I am too hot and need to open the window, the stinker.

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DD went to school today and seems to be feeling much, much better, which gives me hope that in a couple of days I will be, too. DS is not as sick as me yet, but he held off on showing symptoms longer, so he's probably just a few days behind me.

We managed to do math, vocabulary, grammer, usage and mechanics, and literature before I had to stop and die for a while. DH stepped in and did science and history. Hopefully he can do that for the rest of the week while I try to get better.

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I cancelled my physical therapy today on account of how I feel, so that saved my $90 for the week. I've rescheduled for Monday, though. Hopefully I won't be contagious by then.

Chickens Don't Care if You Get the Flu...

October 9th, 2012 at 03:23 am

...or five prescriptions later... Well, okay probably not the actual flu, just Super Bad Sinues: The Sequel. And one of the meds is for sleep, because with the super cough (codeine cough syrup, I love you) I haven't been doing much of that. At least everything was generic and I only shelled out $17.81 for all five. Nice.

As for the chickens, well, we have had several escape artists as of late. They are determined to be free range all of the time, and not just part-time. But holes have now been patched in the fence, the gate has been fixed, and wire has been placed higher. Only two of them, Curious and Georgie, got out today. They are the lightest, smallest birds. They fly the easiest and the furthest and we will likely never be able to keep them in. Despite Georgie getting her tail feathers clipped by the neighbor's dog not too long ago, she is still determined to range, though she is sticking to the yard.

I suppose I won't complain too much about Curious and Georgie, since they are the two best egg layers in the bunch. Still, it's not like they have a small enclosure. I have seen yards that are not as big as their huge pen. But the grass is always greener and the bugs are always bigger and the slugs are always...sluggier on the other side of the fence. Well, thank goodness for patient neighbors who are charmed by them and like the free eggs they get slipped now and then.

We have been letting the ducks out a little bit to free range during the day when doing garden work, but they don't really seem to like being out. They like the fenced area and they like their miniature pond and they absolutely do not like the neighbor's dogs. They are too fat to fly and never try to escape, although Lady Henry Inigo Montoya does go off away from the other three quite a bit. She has very little tolerance for Patches and his romantic overtures.

Egg production is starting to slow down as the days get shorter. Well, the 3 female ducks are still laying pretty consistently, but we are only getting about five chicken eggs a day from twelve hens. We are thinking about putting in a light, but 8 eggs a day is fine for our needs and we will probably only do so if it slacks off to a lot less than that.

The garden is still plugging along, but the days are getting cooler. The forecast is looking in the lower 60's for the rest of the week, with rain on Friday. I can't remember the last time it really rained, June maybe, and we are in for a stormy weekend. The nights are still staying above 50 so the tomatoes are still going. Not sure how much longer I can expect that. There are tons of green ones just starting to turn color. I guess if I need to I can pick them and wrap them in newspaper and let them ripen inside. Not a big fan of green tomatoes or I'd just dehydrate them.

I have five ripe tomatoes sitting on my table that I need to figure out something to do with. Maybe I'll make chili this week. In the crockpot so I don't have to put out any effort. Or I suppose I could can a single pint. Just in a smaller pan, not my full-size canner.

I did up what I think is the last of the prunes and they are on a tray in the freezer. There might be a few more, but I'll need DH at the top of a ladder to tell me if there are anymore on the tree and he won't be home until Wednesday. I am too short to reach, but I think I still see a few up there. I was right and ended up with about 8 quart bags full (or will do when the rest of these get packed into the last bag).

I'm still getting a couple handfuls of green beans every three days or so. There are a couple of yellow zucchini struggling along and I may get two more cucumbers before the weather turns. I should be able to harvest another broccoli by week's end.

I really need to do up a meal plan for the week. I am kind of doing the whatever is easiest route right now, but that way leads to overspending. Dinner tonight was scrambled egg sandwiches and stir-fried green beans. Simple, easy, not too much effort.

DD is going to try to go to school tomorrow after being out sick for a while. Ugh. 7 a.m. Even the chickens don't get up that early right now. DS felt good enough to do all of his lessons today, though he is still feeling yucky. The nice thing about homeschooling is he is able to sleep in when he doesn't feel well and it's okay if we don't finish lessons until 7 p.m. I am not, nor ever will be a fan of Algebra, but it's really not fun when your brain feels like it is full of snot. Still, we beat it (the algebra, not the snot).

Gift Card and Survey Money

September 28th, 2012 at 12:19 am

I had enough points today to cash out at Swagbucks for another $5 gift card for Amazon. I'm waiting for one to show up any day now and then this one will show up in a week. Right now I've got $25 in gift cards in the account and have received a total of $35 from them. I wish I hadn't let DS do the ordering when he ordered his book because he accidentally wiped out that first $10 of gift cards I was saving, but there's no use crying over spilled milk. It's building up again and it looks like I might be doing about $25 a month worth of gift cards from them. If anyone is interested in doing Swagbucks who is not signed up, there is a referal link in my sidebar. I spend maybe 10 minutes a day on them, so $25 a month feels like a decent return for it. This is all earmarked towards my daughter's MacBook fund.

I should be able to cash out at American Consumer Opinion Panel soon. It should have been today, but it's still sitting there pending. That will be a $14 check when it's finally available. I like them a lot compared to other companies, even if they don't have a referral system. They have good surveys, but it is hit or miss sometimes on whether or not I qualify. I tend to go through a month or two where I qualify for everything and then it'll be a dry spell where I qualify for nothing. Oh, well. Every little bit helps. It's earmarked for the freezer fund.

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Homeschool went great today. It's the smoothest day yet and we were able to get everything accomplished in four hours. I know not every day will go like this, but it goes a long way towards making me think we're going to be just fine.

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I feel a lot better today. My ear still hurts but it is now a dull ache instead of raw, open fire. And my throat only hurts when I swallow and not all the time. I am still coughing, but that's better, too. Now if I could get a full, good night of sleep I think I will be well and truly on my way to getting over this thing.

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We got 12 chicken eggs and 3 duck eggs today. That means every single female bird laid an egg today. I'm not sure that has ever happened before. Pretty cool. We gave my in-laws 3 dozen eggs yesterday and I will take a couple dozen in when I go to see the woman who works on my leg and the receptionist who works at the office there.

I think I'm going to have to make a quiche and a frittata and another meatloaf this week. These all make great lunches and breakfasts, something easy to warm up without stopping to cook while doing homeschool or for DD to take to school.

As soon as I feel good enough I am going to do some serious baking and use up some of the duck eggs. I'd like to make a batch of soft pretzels and a batch of cinnamon rolls for the freezer as well as saving out a few of each to eat now. I'll also make a batch of cloverleaf rolls to eat instead of bread, since it uses eggs and my bread doesn't.

I might even make some egg noodles. And a couple batches of peanut butter cookies, since I have two cups of natural fresh peanut butter in the fridge. But that's definitely next week. Maybe some of it on Sunday. We'll see. I just want a stockpile of baked goods in the freezer for when I get sick again. I've managed bread and pizza dough this week and that's it. Makes me feel like I'm slacking, but I'm not going to push myself when I feel so icky. Not worth it.


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