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Update III: May Spending

June 17th, 2015 at 07:06 am

I have been waiting to post because I have pictures to share and the site has been having issues.
Finally, here it is. Smile


We celebrated DS' 5th birthday with a party at a local park. This park has pony rides, train rides and a bouncy house on the weekends. It was a big hit. We invited 24 kids and had 17 attend. Smile

It was race car themed.
I saw this cute idea to put yellow lines on black tablecloths so they looked like a road. Dollar store plastic tablecloths and a roll of yellow tape = easy.

I set out snack food so everyone could just graze as they wanted since the kids were on the move all over the park.
Including a make-your-own trail mix set-up that I named "Nuts and Bolts".
Carrots & celery sticks with hummus I called "Dipsticks". Big Grin

I baked the cupcakes and my sister decorated them into this cute pull-apart cake.
(The road is shaped into a 5.)



Total spent for the picnic area rental, activity passes, food and decor came to $278.
We had a lot of leftover food. In fact we are still munching on trail mix goodies.

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My birthday was celebrated with a semi-surprise trip to Vegas.



**Bellagio fountain

I say semi because my parents knew my BFF had invited us to join her and her hubby for a weekend trip, but we had declined due to cost. So my parents surprised me by paying for our hotel and tickets to the Cirque show "O" I've been wanting to see for years.
I made the reservations and we paid for transportation and food.

Our airfare was $69/pp/each way with Southwest.
(My mom just told me about $39 fare to Vegas in August!)

We had two vouchers for BOGO 1/2 priced to the hotel's buffet. To save money we'd have a large breakfast and that would keep us going until dinner.

We bought passes for the bus that runs up and down the strip (The Deuce) for $16.
DH picked up a new ball cap at the M&M store that ended up being 50% off, so we paid $12.
We bought my sister a souvenir ($9) because she was watching our house and kids.
We each had $50 to gamble with.
Airport parking was $42.
Our total spent was $562.



**Mirage volcano & Venetian canals

Save $100 with Ting! Great Grad (or Dad) Gift!

May 31st, 2015 at 01:49 pm

I have been using Ting mobile service for almost three years now. Can't say enough about how much I've loved the *big* money savings from Ting. Or the excellent Ting customer service!

For our DD's 8th grade graduation gift we are upgrading her phone to a Samsung SG3. It is a refurbished one we purchased from the Ting store.

Her current phone was a refurb from the Ting store and it has served her well these last two years.
I really like that we can buy used and save some big money - since most teens are going to abuse their phone right away anyway - *almost* new is good enough. Smile

So, if you are looking for a sensible grad gift, or maybe Father's Day gift, check out Ting right now and save $100 smack-a-roos! Big Grin

Details directly from Ting:

From now until 11:59pm ET on June 8, the Ting Refer a Friend program is offering you $100 to try Ting mobile phone service. If you sign up and activate a phone, I'll also receive a $50 credit.
Once you join Ting, you'll be able to refer your friends too.

https://zlibcgmej.ting.com

That's my unique referral URL and the key to this offer. Click it or copy & paste.
You must use this to receive $100 off select phones in the Ting shop or a $100 service credit if you bring your own phone to Ting.

Speaking of which, the phone you already own will probably work with Ting. Go to the Ting compatibility checker to find out for sure.



Ting mobile, Ting money saving offer, Ting coupon code, Ting save $100, Ting refer a friend $100, Ting promotion, limited time, link to save $100 on Ting mobile

DS is FIVE! (and Five Years Blogging Here)

May 5th, 2015 at 11:26 am

Today our DS turns five years old! Wow, has the time flown!

We are going to have a party this weekend in one of the city parks. We haven't had a big party for any of his birthdays, so he is very excited. Smile

DH is doing well. I'll update more later.

I missed my blogoversary which was a week ago - Five years certainly goes by fast.
I have been too busy at work and at home to make time for any well thought posts. (Right now I'm at work on hold waiting to place an order for medications.)

Thank you to all my SA friends here for reading and supporting me. It is a pleasure to visit here and share about our lives - financial & otherwise.
Smile

Catching Up - Been Busy with Bedroom Makeover!!

February 12th, 2015 at 02:18 pm

The past few weeks have been so busy for me. Any time I had for the computer was spent updating Quicken, paying bills, shopping for said bedroom or checking email. I did stop in here at SA to read blogs, but I was too tired or pressed for time to post anything.

The project has been clearing out DS's bedroom.
It started with needing to get him a new bed.
He has been sleeping in his crib - converted to toddler daybed, and he is getting too big for that. So I spent a chunk of time shopping for bedroom furniture. After some debate we decided to go the bunk bed route to give us an extra bed for guests. (Visitors currently have the choice of couch or cot.)

I had been searching Craigslist every few days since before Christmas. Saw a few serviceable beds and a whole lot of beds I didn't want. Some beds I saw in stores were so flimsy I was afraid to climb up on them. And some beds I liked were nearly $1800!
Anyway, it was a process. I ended up buying a sturdy bed from a local chain store that cost more than a flimsy bed, but half the price of the Pottery Barn bed that it looks exactly like.
I asked for an early President's Day weekend discount. That saved me the sales tax.
And asked for a discount on the matching chest dresser, which they gave me $50 off. That made me happy I was pushy and asked for a discount.

BUT, before I could have this lovely new big-boy bunk bed delivered I wanted to clean up DS's room.
That morphed into painting a wall yellow (his choice), touching up paint on the other walls, FINALLY painting the room doors, FINALLY painting and installing baseboard and door trim.
I've been doing a lot of painting... darn yellow wall took three coats before it looked right!

But the mess and aching back have been worth it - I am so pleased that one room in my house is 100% trimmed out and clean! Big Grin

The baseboards especially are my favorite. DH's too. We are actually chomping at the bit to do the hallway which has un-painted, un-calked baseboard right now.

I have been using gift cards from the Southwest bonus to purchase the new bedding for the room. That has meant more of my time spent shopping online for just the right things. Smile

There is a light at the end of the tunnel.. the bunk bed is being assembled by the deliveryman right now as I type this!!

New Insurance & My Trip to the ER

January 7th, 2015 at 07:33 am

Last month I changed the coverage the kids and I had to DH's plan through work. This amounted to a $23/month savings. And, one deductible to meet as a family, rather than two when we had two separate plans. The other change was moving from PPO coverage to HMO coverage. We have used doctors from both "sides" over the years, so I am comfortable with the care we will get.

Yesterday afternoon DS fell on the playground and split his chin open. About an inch long cut. Frown
I thought I might be able to use some surgical glue at work to close it. But, there was too much tension and it looked like it would just pull apart. Unfortunately, pediatrics doesn't suture and all facial lacerations get sent to the ER.

90 minutes, five sutures and $250 later and DS nearly good as new. Smile

How's your 2015 starting out?

Halloween 2014

November 1st, 2014 at 02:16 pm



DH and I carved our pumpkins with stencils. DD free-handed her *LOVE* carving.

Spending for Halloween was low this year.

DS was a pirate. We bought a foam hat at a craft store that my sister's hubby glued into a classic three pointed hat. Then I cut the bottoms of an old pair of his sweat pants and he wore a striped shirt of mine. Total costume cost under $4!

DD dressed as a band member of Five Seconds of Summer (new teen boy band). We bought a tshirt from Amazon that she can wear anytime. Total costume cost under $20.


$23 - Costumes
$12 - Pumpkins
$ 8 - Candy
$ 8 - Decor Items
$ 2 - 24ct Glow Bracelets

Rain. HELOC News. Spending.

September 26th, 2014 at 09:46 pm

We had a little rain early Thursday morning and again this evening. The weather has been very mild for weeks and the rain didn't change that - still mild. Plus the rain makes everything smell so nice and fresh and we can certainly use the moisture.


Our loan officer from the CU left me a voicemail that she was completing the documents today. DH and I will sign early next week and the money will be available by next Friday.
DH has contacted several roofing contractors. Some have come to the house already, but we don't have any written estmates yet. We want to get moving on the roof ASAP.


Re: Spending.

DH's side work profits were used to get the truck's water pump replaced (finally), two new tires and a few other odds & ends replaced (wipers, filters, etc.)
$1451 in auto parts and repair

It is the start of a new 4H year.
Yearly membership dues and two pre-purchase tickets for the large fundraising dinner came to $71.

DD is in the Honor band at school this year. Band camp weekend for $135.

I bought a Groupon for the Pilates studio I used last year for $89/eight classes.

I went kayaking last weekend with a girlfriend. $55 for the all day, 11 mile trip down the river. It was beautiful and relaxing, but....

My back was so tight after kayaking that the following day I had a spasm and threw my lower back "out". Had to see a chiropractor yesterday to pop everything back in place. (Primarily the left side of my pelvis.) I haven't used a chiropractor in over 13 years, but I really needed help.
$45 and worth every penny!

Everything (including $900 to debt payoff!) was paid using side money. WooHoo! Keep it coming! Big Grin

DD's Honey Harvest

September 6th, 2014 at 04:34 pm

As I've previously posted we have a bee hive in our backyard. This is a 4H project that our DD participates in.

This year her hive produced enough excess honey she could harvest it.

The whole process is so fascinating. It is amazing to learn how bees "operate", the proper way to work with bees and the steps to harvest honey.

After you pull out frames of capped honey from the hive boxes you cut the wax caps off with a Hot Knife (electric knife that gets hot and cuts/melts the wax). Then you load the extractor.

This is the Extractor in our kitchen (you can see some of the wax caps on the top of the strainer).




The local beekeeping club allows 4H members to borrow the club owned electric extractor at no charge.
It works by flinging the honey out with centrifugal force.

Frames loaded inside the extractor.



Frames spinning.



Honey!
DD filled jars after letting the honey drain from the extractor into the bucket for about 30 hours.



Almost two gallons of honey collected.



Most of these jars will be given as gifts.
A few might be sold - DD's project leader has customers willing to buy local honey for $20/pint.

DD's Birthday

July 26th, 2014 at 12:46 pm

DD turned 13 this past week.
She is waiting until school starts to have a party with friends. It will be a BBQ at one of the nearby parks.

DH, DS and I took her to fondue dinner on her "real birthday" and spent $120. We also gave her a birthday card with a $15 gc enclosed for music downloads. DS made her a bead necklace at preschool that he gave her - it was so sweet. Smile

I can't believe our girl is a teenager now.

Post Fourth of July Post

July 6th, 2014 at 09:53 am

We had a busy week here. DH and I decided we would host a BBQ for a few families. I think it has been three years since we invited more than just our family over for a meal - ha!

DD was away all week at 4H camp (which was the BEST ever! Big Grin)
DH and I had to pick up her chores as well as work on getting the house and yard ship-shape. I also had to pick her up from camp Friday midday. So we worked on party preparation a little bit every day of the week. I squeezed shopping for food and supplies on Tuesday afternoon - my half day of work.
We made it a potluck, so that saved some money. I didn't feel embarrassed about asking and everyone was happy to bring something.

Party supplies were:
$ 2 - red plastic tablecloth
$ 3 - blue star paper dinner plates
$ 2 - blue napkins
$ 3 - plastic cups
$ 3 - plastic shot cups
$ 1 - glow-n-the-dark bracelets
$16 - kiddy pool
$ 3 - sidewalk chalk
The last two items are for DS to use all summer. If we are gentle the pool should make it for next summer too.
Total: $33

As far as food goes I wanted to make kabobs. We have never made them before even though I have wanted to many times. I bought 36 boneless/skinless chicken thighs at $2.50/lb. I used fresh zucchini out of our garden on the skewers also.

Food spending:
$23 - chicken thighs
$14 - Kabob produce (bell peppers, onions & pineapple)
$38 - (2) six packs of beer, (2) bottles champagne, (2) bottles sparkling juice
$ 3 - bamboo skewers
$16 - Avocados for guacamole
$ 2 - Tortilla chips
$16 - Huge watermelon
$ 3 - Whole Pineapple
$ 8 - Strawberries & Raspberries
$ 6 - Ice
$ 3 - lime jello
Almost all the fruit/veggies were organic.
Total: $132

The kabobs were a hit. Smile
I even had a few extras that I threw in the freezer - maybe dinner next weekend?

DH crafted a watermelon "basket" filled with the fruit. I should have taken a picture (I think he did) it looked great.

His guacamole was a huge hit as usual.

I had the idea to make jello shots. I saw this really cute idea to make red, white & blue layered jello cups. Well that gave me the idea to make jello shots. And then the idea to make Margarita jello shots.
(Let me say I have only had jello shots once before and I have never made them.)
They turned out really good! I will make them again as they were such a fun little adult item to have. Smile

DH and DD hit the fireworks stand and bought $25 in fireworks.

We all watched our city's fireworks from our house. It is nice to not have to drive anywhere.

It was a really enjoyable party. I would like to do it more often than once every few years. It's one of those things where you keep asking "Why am I doing all this?" and then you have such a good time you feel like "I am so glad we did this!" Smile

Fair Time!

July 1st, 2014 at 04:37 pm

We enjoyed our local county fair last week.
A close friend has a vehicle pass that allows her to drive in/out of the fairgrounds without paying any fees. She has been taking my family into the fair for FREE the past several years. This year the kids and I went to the fair three times!

The very nice thing about this fair is that the admission also covers all rides, so once you are inside you don't have to pay anything extra for rides or concerts. We did spend some money on fair food the evening we went all together as a family. We didn't go crazy, but did spend close to $40.
All in all spending $40 for all the time at the fair was easy to swallow.

I entered the table setting class again this year.
I chose to decorate for the fair theme which was celebrating the fair's 75th diamond anniversary.



I won First place for my class. Smile
Didn't win Best of Show this year (shucks).

I also entered a novelty planting class with this jam jar..



It won a First place too. Smile

And I entered a hanging basket (one of two that I made for our backyard).
Made up of purple basil, supertunias, alyssum and blue lobelia.




And I won First in that class too. Smile

I won $35 in prize money.


DD entered four canning projects.
(They're on those shelves somewhere..)



She won three First Places and one Second.
She also entered two baking entries.
Low-Fat Lemon Bars and Mini Cheesecakes.
Second Place for the bars and First for the cheesecakes. The cheesecakes also ranked Fourth in the "Make it with Dairy" class - a class where you have to use three or more dairy products in the recipe.

I will have to post her cheesecake recipe soon - they were so delicious!

She ended with $21 in prize money.

We entered a small preschool art project for DS - his first fair entry. He won a First (they all do in that age class) and received a check for $3.

I told my mom that I should enter a ton of preschool art for him next year BECAUSE it's a 200% return - you pay $1 to enter and are guaranteed a $3 check. Big Grin

Hot Weekend & Other Stuff

June 8th, 2014 at 05:12 pm

Having a heat wave this weekend.
Today it got to a high of 94F.

DD has two friends staying over the weekend. I think they were all up until 3am last night. They were pretty quiet so I'm not sure exactly when they fell asleep.

DH took DS and the three girls to one of the city pools (very near the house) for the afternoon. That left me home alone to work on laundry and housework. (Oh Joy - lol - actually I like it better when I can be alone to get things done)

-----
Received an alert that someone used our Ting referral code. Yay!
We've had a couple the past few months. Big Grin
Thank you to all of you who have used my link!

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This past week some of DD's bees swarmed.
That means because the colony is doing well they outgrew the hive, so some of the bees volunteer to "move out" and make a new hive somewhere else.

As a beekeeper you try to stay ahead of the bees growth by adding additional boxes to the hive for them to fill. We had an empty box ready, but hadn't added it. Just wasn't thinking about it with all the busy end-of-the-school-year stuff going. Little bummed about that.

If we find the bees nearby DD and her project leaders might be able to recapture the bees and start a second hive. *fingers crossed*

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Big battle episode tonight on Game of Thrones - Can't wait!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday everyone.

Final Days of School

June 3rd, 2014 at 11:09 pm

This is the last week of school.
DS will go to some summer sessions of preschool, but not with the regular teachers or program.
DD will be *free* of any schedules except for 4H camp and possibly a four week musical theater day camp.

The past few mornings I have had a really hard time getting going - we are all ready for a more relaxed "summer schedule".
I can get about 20 more minutes in bed or hanging around the house because I won't have to drive DD to school. Smile

Phone interview is on Thursday.
I plan to ask several questions since the job posting was so vague.

I told my co-worker if I don't get this job I will plan to leave current job next year when DS finishes his preschool year. It is hard to make changes, but I think it needs to happen. At the very least applying for this job has got my mind more accepting of change.

Scholarship Money

May 19th, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Good news for us - had a letter today from DS's preschool that we will be receiving $1k in tuition assistance for next school year. Tuition is broken down into 10 monthly installments, so that is $100/month savings! Big Grin

We also received a check from DD's 4H club for $50 toward her week at 4H camp this summer.
The camp is a deal at $245 for six days/five nights of sleep-away camp with all meals and activities.
The $50 "scholarship" brings the cost to under $200. Smile

Charged $71 to the Propel AmEx today for a tank of gas. It was $3.95/gallon at Costco.


Recent Visit to the Goat Dairy & Fair Entries

May 15th, 2014 at 08:14 pm

Mother's Day we ventured out to a local goat dairy. They do an "open farm" one weekend in May and again in June each year. I have posted about our previous trips - we always have a fun time.
And I get to buy some very excellent cheese at a reduced price! Smile

While there you can pet the kid goats, brush the big gals, climb a straw stack, milk a goat, try as many samples of yogurt, cheese and ice cream as you want and there is face painting and live music too. There isn't a charge to visit, but I spent $22 on three types of cheese and a yogurt tub.

(Tried twice to upload a picture, but the site is acting goofy, so??)


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This afternoon we turned in our entry forms for the local fair. It was $12 for all our entry fees.

I signed up for the table setting section again, a hanging basket I will plant soon and a creative small planting using a jam jar.

DD signed up to enter four canned items (two jams, a jelly & an apricot syrup) and she is going to enter mini cheesecakes and lemon bars in the junior baking category.

And this year DS is going to take in a piece of his "art". Not sure if it will be a painting or what yet. I just entered it as "preschool art".

Entering in the fair is fun!
All the fairs I have entered give free or reduced admission tickets to people who enter, so you could save money by entering. And there are usually many types of things you can enter from sewing to web design; cooking to gardening.

Do you enter anything in your fair?
If not, will you check into it this year?
Smile

Tuition Assistance for Preschool

March 28th, 2014 at 11:16 am

The wonderful preschool DS goes to has a scholarship program. I was a bit on the fence about applying.. Paperwork to fill out, tax returns to copy and a $27 application fee. I had pretty much decided not to apply.

I know it seems silly that here I am blogging on SA and I WASN'T going to apply. It seems silly to me now that I really think on it. The reason is that I don't look at our family as a family in *need* and I don't want to take from a family that truly has *need*.

(Have you ever found yourself stepping aside for others; assuming someone has a greater need than yourself?)

The front office lady, EL, swayed me to going for it when she told me these two things.
First, there is a pool of money and some years it doesn't all get used. (Um.. What?!)
Second, our part as parents is to apply; not decide if we qualify for anything or not. That is the job of the tuition company the application goes to.

When she put it in that perspective I thought "why not?" EL was very encouraging about applying. (I hope that hints at a favorable outcome!)

Last night I filled out the application. The most difficult questions was "How much can you pay toward tuition?". If I put too small of an amount am I trying to get more than I need? If I put too high, then am I shorting the possible assistance payment? I settled on $5k less than full tuition - that would be a huge savings.

This morning I made copies of the W2s and tax returns. I just put the packet in the outgoing mail here at work.

Any help would make a difference to the budget next year.

Health Insurance Hassle

March 16th, 2014 at 10:17 am

Been meaning to share that my boss decided to end our group plan at work. His family is eligible to get coverage through his wife's work. Her employer will pay 50%, so he figures they will save money going that route.
*Shrug* We'll see. The % her employer pays is dependent on how many units she teaches each semester, so that might make a big difference.

The good thing is the boss wants to continue paying for my insurance. The bad part is *how* he is going to pay since I am now getting an individual plan. He is discussing with his accountant. One option is bonuses with additional funds added to cover the tax I will have to pay.

The other not-so-great part is that he decided he would cover only up to $300/mo. If the plan I chose was more I'd have to pay the difference. SO what he is paying isn't getting me the same level of coverage I've had.

What is good is that I might "make" money. I opted to go with the same plan that I picked for the kids - which is a bit on the lower end of Bronze. The total for us three is $517/month. Because I opted to go with a "cheaper" plan there will be *extra* money and that will offset the additional we've been paying for DD & DS.

$18/mo of that is "mandatory" dental, but we have dental coverage so I need to discuss with our agent (when things quiet down) if we can drop that.

The hassle has been spending a week trying to get a straight answer about how much the boss would be willing/able to pay. (Still no answer about *HOW* the money will come.) Then shopping and comparing plans for me only to come to the conclusion that I should just go cheap. Then making a new application for me and the kids after I just went through all this a few weeks back for the kids. (Now their previous policy will cancel and this one will start up.)

I am a bit nervous that I'll need to depend on my boss to pay me this additional money each month (you all remember money is a big issue for him). Yes, he has been responsible for paying the premiums in the past, but that was when his family was concerned...

It is all just Hassle..

Stupid Mistake...

February 20th, 2014 at 09:30 pm

DD needed four fillings and two sealants.
We found out she had the cavities in early December at her routine cleaning appointment. With everything going on (action packed December) I thought it would be easier to wait until January/February to make the appointments for the fillings.

*palm to forehead*

That was so dumb! And the kicker is I *know* better. I *know* how to make dental insurance work for you. AND I didn't even realize I screwed up until after DD's fillings appointment.

Our insurance is an incentive plan. They pay 100% up to $1k for routine dental needs. This means we just maxed out DD's dental benefits for this year.
AND we'll have to pay about $100 out of pocket.

We barely used any benefits in 2013, so if I would have just found *a* day in December to do some of the work we wouldn't be paying anything.

Can't believe I so totally dropped the ball on this!
Crap! (& the other four letter words too!)

$8k Friday!

February 17th, 2014 at 09:43 pm

Friday we had a wonderful flow of money into our checking account. Big Grin

First, our state and federal tax refunds were direct deposited.
This is the first time I have done direct deposit - it was uber fast. I e-filed with FreeTaxUSA on February 6th and the deposits were pending in our account on February 13th.

Second, I deposited the check for our horse trailer sale.

Third, I deposited mine and DH's payday checks.

All together it came to just over $8k!

Makes a girl a bit giddy to have all that deposited into her account at one time. Big Grin

Yeah, it is all spoken for.. but I enjoyed the giant checking account balance all weekend. Tomorrow I will split it up.

Highlights are:
$4300 - Roof Savings
$1000 - EF
$ 550 - Tree Removal Savings
$ 255 - Payoff a CC

I have decided to send B's hubby (who changed the trailer tire) $40 extra when I mail the horse board check on March 1st. It will be an unexpected and welcome surprise I think. Smile

------
As far as sickness goes..

As of Sunday, DS's daycare lady (GrandmaB) was still in the hospital. On a positive, she is doing better. I did talk to her by phone for a minute after I was briefed by her daughter on everything. She has pneumonia and also a urinary tract infection. Thankfully no heart related problems. She might even be back home at this point.

DS is pretty much feeling 100%. Every once in awhile he has a nagging little cough.

I am getting better (MUCH better than I felt on Saturday) still a bit of stuffy nose. I also have a cough that makes it sound as if I'm a lifelong smoker (I'm not at all!).

DH started feeling sick Sunday afternoon. He was in bed by 7pm tonight.

*Fingers Crossed* DD doesn't get it - so far she is fine.

Our Daycare Lady is Very Sick :(

February 13th, 2014 at 08:19 pm

Our daycare lady, GrandmaB, is very sick, so sick she is in the hospital! Frown
The doctors at first thought she had bronchitis. Now they also think she is having heart failure with congestion/fluid accumulation from that.
We are very worried about her!!

That meant I stayed home again today.
Thursday we only work for a half day, so I didn't miss much.

It was good for me to stay home anyway because now I am sick with the cold DS is recovering from. Phooey!

DS and I did venture out to drop DD at school. Then we drove to the next town up to care for the elderly cat I see twice weekly and leave flowers and a card for GrandmaB with her daughter.

Tomorrow I will go to work and DS will go to preschool. Next week we will need to find someone to watch DS Wednesday and Thursday. Depending on what exactly is going on we might need someone for the next several weeks... Frown

DS Sick

February 11th, 2014 at 04:21 pm

DS seemed to be feeling fine and then he spiked a fever while he was down for a nap Sunday.

This is very scary for us because last year he had a seizure when his fever spiked.

It seems likely that he might have had a fever seizure while in his room for nap. I didn't see it, but he seemed "off" when I came in to see why he was crying. DH and I cooled him with a washcloth and dosed him up with meds and he was better.

He is doing okay now. Has a low grade fever (still giving Advil/Tylenol), little runny nose and a cough.

Monday I stayed home in the morning and DH came home early so I worked in the afternoon.

Today I stayed home.

Then our daycare lady, GB, called me and she won't be able to watch him tomorrow because she is sick.
She sounded terrible. Frown

So now I'm taking tomorrow off from work. It is fine - extra fine actually because it is slow at work.

I will take Wednesday as a paid sick day; otherwise my paycheck is going to look pretty sad.

----
In other news:
I had a call on our horse trailer this morning.
She is headed out to the ranch now to see it. Sounds like a sure thing.. still keep your fingers crossed though..

Soggy Weekend Doings

February 8th, 2014 at 03:55 pm

We are getting a super good, soaking, rain storm this weekend. It is so wonderful to hear the rain on the roof and watch the creek by the house fill up.

I did venture out this morning to take DS to a birthday party for one of his preschool buddies. On the way there we drove past two separate accidents. Solo spin-outs.. people going too fast with standing water on the highway.

DS enjoyed the party and we gifted a small toy truck that I had bought on sale months ago and tucked away. It was nice to not have to go shopping and the toy cost $4.

DH offered to go to the grocery store today. Big Grin
He likes to spend the time hanging out with DS. I was thrilled with having the option to take a break from going out. I did write up a big list for him. DD left with them to visit a friend, so I have the house to myself. Watching some 'Downton Abbey' without interruption.

Warm, Dry Weather. Cash Mondays.

January 21st, 2014 at 04:23 pm

It is a lovely 70F day again. The news folks are starting to refer to the month as JUNEuary. To be honest, there are days in June that are not this nice. We need rain badly - it is so dry! I just hand-watered the back yard lawn because it needed *something*.

DS has a slight cold and just was complaining that his right ear was hurting. I gave him some Advil and a pudding cup. Hopefully we can get him to feel better soon!

Last Monday and yesterday I made the "standard" $80 for the care of the old cat.
$160 Two weeks.
-$20 DD needed PE sweats. She kept the change for school lunch.
-$20 Cash for my wallet.
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$120 deposited to checking

Total YTD side work: $180

Paying More for Health Insurance

January 18th, 2014 at 05:27 pm

I wish, wish, wish, wish that the government wouldn't always take a good idea and f*ck it every which way so that it ends up being a near worthless pile of crap!
Health care should be easy to get, effective and inexpensive for everyone..period.

Anyway, moving on..
Both DH and I are lucky enough to have 100% employer paid health insurance that covers us. I also have a very good dental plan that covers the entire family. I am very thankful for all this.
We have to purchase insurance for the children privately because adding them to either my or DH's plan costs so much. (I have NEVER understood WHY this is?!)

We worked with an insurance agent again to help us chose coverage. I HIGHLY recommend using an agent - It doesn't cost you anything and they are extremely knowledgeable (at least ours was).

Here is a portion of the spreadsheet he provided to compare monthly premiums, deductibles and total annual costs (best and worst).




I'll get to the point here.. we are now paying $258/month for insurance, an increase of $76/month more. Same amount of coverage, but a new plan from a different company - had to change because the old plan doesn't even exist anymore.

We are not eligible for any premium assistance/pre-paid tax credit on the kid's policies because DH and I have "affordable" employee sponsored plans.

It hurts the pocketbook and I'll be neglecting other things I'd rather throw money at.
Somehow I will come up with a way to cover this added outflow.
What about other families?

Good Morning! Recent Spending.

January 13th, 2014 at 07:13 am

Sunrise from the backyard.



DD had her annual eye exam, $64. She needed new glasses and frames. (I glued her frames several times in the past several months. No option to reuse those!)
She ended up liking a pair at Lenscrafters again. She also really wanted to get the new ones right away and LC made them for her in an hour. They give 50% for children 12 and under, so I told DD this is likely the last year we will go there. We paid $249.50.

She is going to a weekend 4H leadership convention in a few weeks. It is pretty large; delegates from clubs in all the northern California counties. I am excited for her to have these types of opportunities. The total cost for the weekend was $140. (Paid half months ago when we turned in her application.)

Last Monday I earned my usual $80 for administering fluids to an elderly kitty. I gave DD $20 for her afterschool bus fare for the month.

Side work Total: $60

Vacation, then Christmas, now nearly New Year.. Oh My!

December 28th, 2013 at 09:59 pm

Our trip was great!
Really my only complaint was that it was 75F-80F (terrible, hu?) and made the Disney parks a bit more crowded than we were used to. (We always plan to go at "non-peak" times to save money and avoid the crowds. We usually wait 15 minutes or less on the really popular rides and less than 5 minutes for everything else.)
I shouldn't complain, even waiting twice as long as we're used to is better than a lot of people deal with.

It was so enjoyable to watch DS's enjoyment.
This is him on the Toy Story ride which he kept referring to as the "yellow glasses ride".


I used a hotel we hadn't stayed in before. While the hotel was nice and the beds very comfy it was too much of a walk to get into the parks. We walked back and forth twice each day in order to take an afternoon nap, so it was a lot of walking.

Yes, there is a circulating bus/shuttle, but I didn't want to pay the extra money, plus you have to wait for it to pick up and drop off. I prefer to walk, although this time it meant some seriously sore feet by day end.

We did pretty well with food spending. Snacks in the car and hotel room. Eating out *only* twice daily was easy to manage.
We ate at the Rainforest Cafe for $12. I had $100 gift card (credit card reward) that almost covered the "splurg-y" meal.
A character breakfast included with our package at n/c was a great treat.
I had my special treat in Disney - a Monte Cristo - that was filling enough for two meals.
We also ate at the Mexican restaurant in Frontier Land which I have found to be nearly the same cost as Mexican food anywhere else. You can also get free soda refills there. That meant my DH bought a soda with six trips for refills. Big Grin

We rented a car. A 2013 Ford Focus.
It was good for us. I had calculated that we would be about even driving our own gas guzzling car vs. renting a fuel saving car. Additionally, no wear and tear on our aging vehicle (we drove 1370 miles).
With the costs tabulated we saved a little money by renting the car! Smile

Here it is in Las Vegas at the Excalibur - where we stayed.



We splurged on the Tournament of Kings dinner show. It's where you eat with your hands while watching knights battle. I had seen a similar show while in high school so knew what to expect (good for a three-year-old!).
My family really enjoyed the show. As predicted DS was glued to the action. Big Grin

DH and I hit the blackjack tables both nights, but alas, didn't win big. We have found that we can play blackjack for hours on very little money all while drinking *free* beer. Smile

Vacation Spending:
$1414 Disney package (4 nights/(4) 4-day hopper tickets/pkg extras)
$310 Food
$200 Cash for gambling/souvenirs/misc.
$181 Rental car
$159 Dinner show
$146 Gas
$ 94 Vegas hotel (2 nights @ $29+taxes/resort fees)

DH's boss gave us DH's $500 Christmas bonus early so we could apply it to the trip if we wanted.
(I used the Sapphire for almost everything and will use the bonus money toward the bill next month.)

Both DH and I used paid vacation time, so no lost income.
We saved a few bucks in daycare costs.
My dad stayed at our house so we didn't pay anything for house/pet care. As a big plus, my dad totally spruced up the front and backyard - mowed, raked, swept.. That was nice!

This trip was our Christmas gift to each other. Tiring, but good family time and some funny memories made. I'll tell you it was nice - no shopping, no wrapping, no extra crap!

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Christmas was comfortable and low-key.
Santa brought a $25 dump truck set for DS.
Santa used Amazon credit (from selling back the EMT textbooks) for DH and DD's gifts. They cost $0.
Stocking stuffers included personal care products and trip souvenirs.

I got coffee and chocolate from almost everyone. Smile
My boss gave me a nice, crisp $100.

Only my parents were here with us (Yay! no drama!).
I made a nice ham dinner, roasted carrots, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, rolls, pie.

This year I feel like I figured out the best way to warm a ham without drying it out!
I used a roasting bag and set the oven for 275F.
About 10 minutes/lb.
Nice and warm throughout - no dry slices!

I bought a 10lb ham for the extra leftovers. I froze the ham bone for later use and a dinner's worth of slices for a future meal.

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Kids are visiting the in-laws until tomorrow. DH and I have been basking in the quiet laziness the last 48 hours.

Next week will be pretty easy. Work one and a half days, then another paid day off. Big Grin
Then.. WOW.. 2014!

$0.99 Teacher Gifts & "Needy" Children

December 7th, 2013 at 02:30 pm

The one item that I have had my DH pick up for me on Black Friday the past few years has been the $0.99 poinsettias from Home Depot.

This year I used them as gifts for DD's teachers.
She was embarrassed to carry a bunch of plants to school yesterday morning. I told her to get over it!
She doesn't think anyone gives teacher gifts now in middle school - it's not "cool". I told her it is important to recognize the efforts of teachers and appreciate them. (My mom is a teacher, so maybe I feel more strongly than most.) And all DD's teachers seem really on top of things and good.

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DS's preschool had a "giving tree" for a local community school that serves special needs, at risk and low income children. Last week I chose two disadvantaged children to buy gifts for. My first pass through the names/wishes made me cry - very sad situations - homeless, parents in jail, etc.. Gift wishes were very simple; books, art supplies, dolls, Transformers..

I picked siblings - a nine year old brother (NERF stuff) and six year old sister (American Girl type doll & Mickey ears).

I purchased their wish list items with the Sapphire card and spent $97 total. We will get the gifts wrapped up this weekend so I can deliver them to DS's school on Monday.

Working on getting lots done before our big trip! Big Grin

Christmas Cards Look Cute

November 20th, 2013 at 10:19 pm

Okay, first I got to look through our pictures again when I picked them up yesterday afternoon. And, actually, I didn't look *that* bad in the family shots. Embarrassment (Thank you for the supportive comments there.)
I feel better about them. Not so good that I will be getting a print for the wall, but I do have a small print and did use one of them on our card.

I whipped our cards up online using Costco again this year. The hardest part is choosing which template I like best. I end up making two or three cards and then choose between them.
I think this is the sixth year I have made the cards there.

Made them early this year so that I could take advantage of their $5 off coupon that ended today. This really works well - I can address them next Sunday while I watch football and mail them out Monday 12/2.

$9.99 for 50 cards and envelopes.



Happy Halloween! + What We Spent On It

October 31st, 2013 at 02:23 pm

Here are our pumpkins we carved last night.



This year we were pretty lazy in regards to Halloween. We didn't pull out the "fancy" pumpkin carving stencils or anything else. Usually DD and DH decorate the yard with fake webs, some tombstones, strobe light etc.. It just didn't come together this year - other time commitments and lack of motivation.

As far as spending I'm sure we are on the low end of the American average again this year. Smile

$15 - Three pumpkins
$12 - Candy
$34 - Costumes for both DD and DS

DS had a party at his preschool this morning with games and crafts. The school asks that costumes be plants, animals or insects. No monsters, superheroes, princesses, etc.. It does make the celebration feel so much less commercialized and materialistic, which I appreciate.



I saw some wonderful animal costumes - lions, tigers, a hippo, some mice, a sheep...
A darling little redheaded girl as a ladybug. Big Grin
A boy dressed as an oak tree with fall leaves and acorns.

There is a costume "lending library" where you can donate costumes to it or borrow from it. I love that idea. Too bad there wasn't a boy appropriate costume in the box when I checked last week.

I am sure we will donate DS's elephant costume to the school.
Pretty sure it will be too small for next year - darn it.

Tonight we are having dinner with friends early in the evening then T or T their neighborhood. Our contribution to dinner is roasted baby carrots and fresh, organic grapes. Super easy for me - Yay!

May everyone get Treats instead of Tricks tonight!
BOO-HAA-HAA-HAA!! Big Grin

Went to the Beach this Morning

October 26th, 2013 at 03:40 pm



We have been enjoying a mild October so far.
It has been cold at night - mid 30s to low 40s, but the days have been sunny and warm. It is 75F right now.

This might be the last mild weekend for awhile so the kids and I headed out to the beach. Once again I was feeling pretty lucky we live so close to the Pacific Ocean. It takes us about 35 minutes to drive out and the road is a nice trip. Pastoral - cows, sheep, horses.

On our last trip we purchased a twelve month county park pass, so the only cost today was a bit of fuel for the Pathfinder.


Cleo at the beach this morning.
She is a big girl now! Smile


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