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Archive for September, 2005

Chiming in with the sick

September 28th, 2005 at 04:46 am

And then I held a baby today. What was I thinking?

Geez.

I've been sickish since Wednesday. So has everyone in my office. Either my boss's cold was particularly bad our there is something going on in our office. We're all exhausted and distracted. Not good. I was so tired today, I ended up walking to get a soda. I was all but falling asleep at my desk. I was so determined not to do it until next month, but ...

I saw some adorable kittens today and wanted so badly to take one home. But DH has said "no more cats until that one dies". She's only 10, so that'll be 10 years or so (knock on wood). Maybe I can wear him down over time.

We're still house hunting. We saw one today that was a possible. It needs new floors and the kitchen and bathrooms need major updating. I'd also like to get rid of a couple of walls which make the living areas feel small (there's a living room to the front as you walk in the door, then to the left is the kitchen and left from there - so 2 left turns - is the dining room. It would be so nice to get rid of those walls and have an open floor plan. But we wouldn't be able to afford that.

We're supposed to have 5-10 scheduled for Sunday. I will have to take major notes and DH will have to take a lot of pics so we can remember each one. I'm hoping we'll find the right house this time. I hope to keep all the monthly mortgage payments (including taxes and insurance) to right at what we spend now.

Feeling "blah"

September 24th, 2005 at 05:37 am

I'm running a low grade fever for the 2nd day. Not good. My allergies are acting up and I'm so hoping this is not turning into a sinus infection. So far the only symptom is fever and slightly stuffy - no pain, no discharge. I'm using my flonase though.

I haven't spent any money the last 2 days. I filled up on gas Wednesday and today it is up 30 cents from that. No telling what it will be tomorrow after the hurricane hits.

The house we made an offer on is definitely off the market. DH and I went through a list and picked out 10 we want our realtor to schedule a walk-through. We'll see if there's anything we like out there. We found some pretty good deals, so if the house is in any kind of shape, it would be worth making an offer.

I came home to a house full of ants. We suspect they might be fire ants. They jump on you and bite like fire if you walk by. When I say full, it isn't really full, but there are hundreds of them. We can't figure out what they are going to. They seem to be coming up through the floor in our bedroom (aren't we lucky?). So we treated with cinnamon for tonight (it upsets their sense of smell and being able to follow the trail they lay down) and tomorrow we'll look for a non-toxic treatment.

We have 3 different kinds of ants in our house now. Big ones in the kitchen (they are so not aggressive, they act like cockroaches, only out at night). I suspect they might be carpenter ants, but I'm not sure. Little black ants in the cat's room (built in patio). They eat her food and are coming up through cracks in the floor. They are mostly not agressive. They've not bitten me. And now these little red ants.

We have a cat and small kids, we can't use toxic treatments and I won't use pesticides. Especially when I'm sick. It's so frustrating. Tomorrow will be spent pulling out pieces of furniture and vaccuuming and hoping we find what they are after. And the kids have been told, again, no eating or drinking (other than water) outside of the dining room. Interestingly enough, the ants aren't in the dining room where there are crumbs. Go figure.

Okay, still house hunting

September 22nd, 2005 at 02:02 am

It appears that the seller of the house we liked lost her job. So they've pulled the house off the market for now. Our agent is still going to submit our offer with the option of them leasing from us until mid December. Maybe that will work.

Meanwhile, I've got him looking at the other houses on our list. He said that one house has been on the market for almost 2 years, so that may be a no go, we'll have to see what it looks like.

I'm watching this hurricane carefully. Right now, we're out of the cone and the governor did not suggest we evacuate. Sometimes I wonder if he even knows we exist way down here. If the computer models are correct, we are one of the safest areas of Texas, we'll have flooding and some wind, but nothing like the rest of Texas (except the far west).

I worry about the people who were evacuated from New Orleans to Houston. This means another evacuation. This time it appears that the evacuation is being handled well, but still. It must be so frustrating, they're just now beginning to find their family members and get families together again and now we're separating them again.

I suspect that I will miss my cousin's wedding next week. If the hurricane hits with as a category 4 or higher, DH will be sent to work incident command. It will mean lots of extra money (which will help with househunting) but I hate that it will mean other people's misery.

Made an offer

September 21st, 2005 at 05:02 am

So we made an offer on one of the houses. Not full price, we'll see if they're motivated and what they'll deal. We'll probably need to put $5-10k into the house to get it fixed up. It's in good shape but there are some cosmetic things I want to deal with (the bathroom is pink - the sink, the tub and the toilet, plus all the tile). I'd love to bring my clawfoot tub down here, but it's 13 hours away and DH really wants to wait until he knows we'll be settled some place. This is the tub from his childhood home, so I understand not wanting to just leave it, but having it in a storage building isn't the best idea (of course, it sat outside for 3 years, sooo...).

If our offer is accepted our house payment should be the same or less than our rent payment. What a great deal (that's including taxes and insurance).

We went out to eat tonight. I've got to get this under control but I really, really wanted that cheeseburger and dr pepper. It wouldn't have been so bad except we treated the boys by buying a smoothie and a milkshake. I guess we'll have to break out the blender and make smoothies at home.

I'm working hard to resist the urge to hit the vending machine at work. I went yesterday and that machine pisses me off so much. If it is out of your soda, there is no light to let you know. You find out when you put your money in and then it won't give it back. You have to buy something.

We'll be tightening the belts a little bit more the next few weeks. We had to write checks for earnest money and option on the house. And we need to pay car insurance, AAA. Rent and school tuition are also going to be due soon. This will be easy to cover with DH's paycheck and I have money in other accounts. I need to close out those accounts and get the funds here so I can use them for renovations/closing costs.

I'm about ready to fire our realtor

September 19th, 2005 at 05:01 am

My realtor is pissing me off. He told me "I'm about to run out of homes in your price range". So we come home and look at the MLS and there are 2 dozen homes that are within our guidelines. I think what he meant was "I want you to increase your price range and it isn't worth my time to show you homes under $80k". One home is even in our neighborhood and looks nice from the outside (his further explanation was that the homes that were left were in bad neighborhoods).

We did see one house that looks nice. It wouldn't need a lot of work - the cabinets need replaced/repainted, they're bright yellow. But it is priced low enough we could actually do that. The floors look great, minimal carpet. The walls are painted really nicely and fit within our tastes.

Of course, then we went out to eat. Geez, I've got to get this under control. Another $20 for eating out. We're so over budget for eating out, it's not even funny. DH doesn't get it, he says we have the money (and we do) so why not enjoy it. Ummm, because we want to buy a house and might need to make two house payments for a couple of months, plus we need to have money for downpayment and closing costs. I just get tired of saying we need to not eat out and being told I'm too controlling.

We had fun after we ate though. We went back to the house we liked the best and walked the neighborhood. There is a park about 5 blocks away and the school is right next to the park. So, I can walk them to school in the morning, walk home, drive to work (which is not that far away and I can probably even bike one day/week) then after work drive home and walk to get them and walk them home, and play at the play ground before we go home. The hours of the school are just longer enough than their current school.

We let the kids play on the playground for a while. They had a great time and I even got up and played with them some. I'm wondering if swinging is a good workout. It seems like it could work abs, arms and legs, but I'm not sure.

Anyway. I sent the list of MLS numbers to our realtor to have him look into them. One is even his own listing so he'd get the full 6% of it. If none of them workout, this other home would be a decent choice.

Went to the birthday party

September 18th, 2005 at 04:05 am

It was at the bowling alley and I forgot to make sure DS had socks. DH wasn't answering his phone, but luckily a mother had had to run home for a minute so her DH called and she brought socks. If that had failed, I would have ran home to get DS socks, it's only 5 minutes away. DS had a great time and I'm glad we went. Only 9 other kids showed up, 3 of whom were siblings of the bday boy. They invited 16 kids and only 8 showed up.

I got hit up for $1.00 for the game room but I knew it was coming so I planned for it. DS bowled a great game - 93 and he barely used the bumpers at all. Before long he'll be ready for the bumpers to come down. I guess we need to take him more often. Maybe we can set it up with his friend, we get along with his parents.

Got the cable bill today. DH made a change last month and they charged us for a partial month. Umm, we didn't receive a credit for the partial month we had paid on the other service. This is why I hate paying in advance, you always get charged extra on the end that you aren't supposed to be charged. This is all in DH's name so I can't call to fix it and he won't call. He says "It's just $8 and they won't give it back anyway". Men!

We also got his cc bill. There were a lot of charges I knew about but hadn't known the total. So I updated spending for August and part of September. Okay. August was an expensive month. Not the most expensive but still. And september isn't shaping up any better. But maybe we're mostly done with the travel. I hope so. It's killing our budget. I need to start budgeting for it, but I want to get the debt paid off first. For now it's lumped into the misc. category and that category is waaaay over budget.

More house hunting

September 17th, 2005 at 05:15 am

Okay, there are some weird houses on the market and they all want top dollar. Umm, no, it's not happening. I'm not paying $120k for a house that is 1) hard to get to, 2) on septic, 3) has a bedroom that can only be accessed by going through another bedroom and then through a bathroom (so if someone is in the bathroom, tough, or if they forget to unlock the door, oh well, you're not getting out).

Then we had a school party. Okay, so they decided to assign groups of food by letter of your name. This would be fine if it was rotated around some, but those of us who had names from G-L had to bring a main dish. Enough to feed our family plus 8 other people. We have only been in this school for one semester and now this semester. So maybe, just maybe, there will be more dinners. But we didn't see any last semester. This is not spreading the cost around. Luckily, we had a bunch of hotdogs from the party that didn't happen. DH cut them up and mixed them with barbecue sauce and some spices. I think they went over well. We didn't bring much home.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a bday party for a kid in DS1's class. I haven't RSVP'ed (we just got the invitations Wednesday). I'm debating this. DS says he doesn't really play with this child and I feel bad to go and cost the mother a minimum of $5.50 (she's having this the same place we had his bday party so I know the cost). BUT, as DH says, this may be the catalyst for getting them to play together and I would hate it if my kid's party wasn't well attended. I just feel like she only invited him because he's in the class and she invited everyone. Hmmm. I'll probably call in the morning and go. We bought a bunch of gifts some time ago (DH loves to bargain hunt and always hits the sales at Target and gets great gifts for 75-90% off) so the gift is fairly easy to do.

I stood in my closet today and took forever to find something to wear. I haven't bought new clothes in a long while. And it seems that most of my shirts have grease stains on them. It's so frustrating. DH says "go buy something new". But I can't do that because I do have clothes, they're just starting to show some wear. I think I can figure them out, it just takes some effort. I need to get some go-jo, I'm told that works well for grease and chocolate stains (yeah, ben & jerry's stains like you wouldn't believe).

House hunting

September 16th, 2005 at 05:37 am

So the realtor called the minute I walked in the door (actually it wasn't fully open yet). We set up an appt to look at 2 houses. I think we need to stress the lower end of our budget, he's going to push us to go for more than we really want.

One house was okay, lots and lots of closets. Decent kitchen. BUT, it had gawd-awful ceramic tile and kitchen counters and was on the high side of our range (actually it is listed for a couple thousand over our top price but he thinks they will be flexible).

The second house was bizarre. We couldn't find the doorbell. Okay, no biggie, the owner's at work and said to just go on in. We walk in and immediately to your right is a door with a deadbolt and a doorbell. To the left is the door to the garage. Down the hall is french doors to the kitchen (on the right) and on the left a long narrow room with a door to the covered patio. So we go through the door with the deadbolt and now we're in the main house. Master bedroom to the right, kitchen and living area to the left with a hall leading to the other rooms. So we look around and figure out that the house apparently had a breezeway connecting the garage and the house which they built in. Okay. But the brick is the ugliest yellow-ish color (or to me and DH anyway, no offense if it's your favorite color). I've never seen such a bizarre house. We would consider it (the price is right) but the brick is so ugly that it would be a lot of work to work on converting it into a place we would like.

We didn't spend any money today. Yay us! I made the bank deposit and it was a lot (birthdays). My new monthly pay will be about $124 extra (extra half hour/day) so that's exciting. I can't wait to see what dh's payraise and benefit change will do for his check.

Hot weather

September 15th, 2005 at 04:35 am

I swear, everytime the temps drop below 95 they jump back up to almost 100. It's hot, hot, hot. But, at least this means we won't have to heat so much this winter (last winter we only turned the heater on once here).

We met with the realtor today. I think maybe it will work out. He's got a good idea of what we want. DH seems to like him okay and they seem very open to our not liking carpet at all. I told them that if they get someone who wants to sell their house but has crappy carpet, to let us know before they replace the carpet. If the house "feels" right, I'd buy it and just tear it out and no one has to waste the money and materials on new carpet. I'm so afraid we'll find the "perfect" house but it will have brand new carpet and I'll feel obligated to keep it because it is new. And I hate carpet soooo much.

It was a last minute meeting and took a while so we didn't feel like cooking at home (I'm sure the heat didn't help) so we thought we'd go to our favorite diner (which is very inexpensive), but of course they had just closed. So instead we went to chinese buffet. $28!!! OUCH!!!

DH found out he got a 4% raise. We'll see that on the next check. His health insurance premiums also went down and we dropped me from the dental coverage (I just don't use it and it is so difficult to use, we have to travel 2 hours to a covered dentist). I figure that with all the changes we'll get something like $150 extra in the monthly check, possibly more. Plus, with me upping my hours, I should clear something like $75-100/month.

The mail brought a travel reimbursement check. Just in time for me to take it to the bank with my paycheck tomorrow (which will be my first full paycheck since I started my longer hours). Between bday money and travel reimbursement, this month has been a great money month.

Wahhh, the house has a sale pending already

September 14th, 2005 at 01:21 am

Geez that was fast. The realtor didn't return my call, so I don't know what to do. I guess I'll just tell DH to find one.

I had to buy gas today. The good news is that my mileage was slightly up, the bad news is that it's still just at 21.5. The other good news is that it has been 26 days since I filled up (I think) but the bad news is that it was over $22, and that wasn't even for a full tank. That was 8.5 gallons on a 12 (I think) gallon tank.

DH stopped for groceries. Since my no-spend day was already "ruined" I ended up down at the vending machine for a dr pepper. I know that you can get sodas cheaper at the grocery store (it's .65 for a 12oz can at the machine) but I also know that I will spend less if I go to a machine and have to walk a couple of blocks to get it. Of course, I also found out that while *I* had a no spend day y'day, DH went gift shopping at a couple of sales and spent some money. It's money well spent since everything was on deep clearance and they're perfect gifts, but ...

OH well, tomorrow's another day.

House maybe? (I forgot to put this in my first entry)

September 13th, 2005 at 03:45 am

There is a cute house just down the street that is in our price range (I'd like them to come down about $5k, but ...). We need to schedule an appointment to look at it and see what we think, but it's close to the boys' friends, close to the public school they'll probably attend next year and it looks really nice. Plus, it's close to our current house so we won't have to rent a moving truck (can't you see us moving by carrying boxes down the street, lol).

So, my job tomorrow is schedule an appt with a realtor and get that whole process started. We're preapproved for a large enough mortgage to handle this house and have money left over.

We also went for a nice walk tonight (which is how we found out the price of the house). I earned my ice cream tonight, but chose not to eat it, opting for popcorn instead.

Count me in the no-spend group

September 13th, 2005 at 03:40 am

Plus we got money in the mail. Money for DH and I for our bdays (last month) and for DS's bday. His was cash so he ran and stuck it in his bottle. Ours was a check so it's put up with the other checks for when I get paid on Thursday (I try to only go to the bank 2x/month).

I'm having issues with the boys' school. Apparently they never got the birth certs last year (I don't know why, I had them with me) and now I can't find them anywhere. I will request new ones from OK, but it will take a couple of weeks. They insist they need them tomorrow or the kids are kicked out. And then what? It's not like I can keep them out of school (I don't homeschool and won't, I don't have the personality), I'll be arrested. They also want their SS cards and DH says "absolutely not". I don't know why they need them, I've never heard that requirement before. I find it pretty interesting because last I checked you didn't need a SS card for a child, most people only do it because that's the only way to claim them on your taxes. DH has really dug in his heels on this one and I don't know what we're going to do. I can't work unless they are in this school (the public school doesn't have an all day kindy) and even if I quit and we moved them to public school, the require the SS card too. DH causes me more stress than anything else in my life.

Birthday!

September 12th, 2005 at 04:04 am

So today was DS1's bday. 7 years old. That doesn't seem possible somehow. I'm not sure where the time went.

We had planned to go to the beach or the zoo today, but he decided he'd rather stay home and play with his new toys and go out to eat tonight. About 4:00 his friend's mom called and invited us all over to swim at their condo at 6:00. So I did a quick leg shave and we went out to eat. It would have been better to have everything ready and go eat and then straight to swimming since we had to drive right past their condo to come home, but they keep places down here COLD inside and my cute board shorts would not have worked for me in the restaurant and my other swim bottoms don't work under clothes (cute little sash which camoflauges my troublesome belly).

And then when we got there they went and bought pizza. I felt so bad, but my little hoover child was still able to eat a slice of pizza and I ate 2 breadsticks. Papa John's makes the best garlic butter dipping sauce. It is sooo bad for you, but sooo good.

We were there for almost 2 hours and I think we swam for a little over an hour. I spent quite a bit of time moving in the water, so I got some exercise to work off my apple pie ala mode from eating out (buffet so I didn't pay extra).

With tip we paid $20.65 to eat out. Bringing our total to almost $42 for the weekend. That's not good. I try to only eat out one day/week but Friday ended up being exhausting and neither dh nor I could even think about cooking. We teased ds1 about using his bday money for the meal - he got $165 total. Geez. I never got that kind of money as a kid.

I've been tweaking with my financial spreadsheet again. This time it was adding a category of total expenses for the entire time I've been tracking and total income. For the last 4 months we have $5000 more in than out (this does not include money that is paid to cc's - pretty much all that has come in instead of going out has been sent to cc). This is for 3.5 months. It includes bday money (ours and kids). I still need to add some expenses - probably about $500 in gas, hotel, etc. I need to get DH's cc statement to get a current figure. But I'm impressed. That tells me that given a few months we can save up enough for a good downpayment. Now we just need to find the right house.

BzzAgent

September 11th, 2005 at 03:57 am

Wow, thanks to whoever it was who mentioned BzzAgent. So far I've gotten *9* pocketpaks of listerine breathstrips (I won't use these, though, they have artificial sweeteners in them and I don't "do" AS). And today, just in time for DS's bday I got 4 packages of 4 AA batteries, a tshirt and 2 drawstring backpack bags. I finally feel comfortable recommending them to others.

Today's bday party was a tad bit expensive - about $75 total (not completely sure as all the kids hit us up for quarters for the game room, I should have planned for what to do while waiting for the stragglers, I know that a party starting at 1:00 will actually start at 1:30). We did bumper bowling and had 9 kids show up. DS got some great stuff, $20 cash, a new outfit and some cool toys. And he's got 3 cards and a gift to open tomorrow (his actual bday) from DH's family (my mom already gave him his present). To add to the cost, we had planned to have the party in the park and had already bought sodas and snacks (which we couldn't use at the bowling alley). We'll use them eventually, but it's not really in our eating plan to have them around, but I didn't add them to the total.

Now the kids are finally asleep. Too hyped up on sugar and soda. The soda was part of the package, as was a neat bowling pin painted with the date, his age and his name. DH got some great pics, too.

For DS's first time bowling he did great! He came in 2nd both games and never stepped over the line. He even picked up a spare. Of course, not having to worry about gutter balls helped.

Life may be settling down

September 10th, 2005 at 04:17 am

So we went to Dallas last weekend. The hotel was comped because we'd had a bad experience before. This one was much better.

We were visiting family, so most of our meals were covered. Sunday we went to Ikea and ate there. That was all we bought, but my 5yo decided he HAD to have a spatula/turner. Stopped at a Ben & Jerry's dipshop and had ice cream. Got overcharged, so I had to go back for a refund. Then we went to my aunt's. She and my mom had just gotten back from a close-out sale at oneida and my uncle insisted they go back to get some new silverware for my aunt. DH and I went with them (I wanted to spend SOME time with my mother, after all, we drove 9 hours to get there). Finally bought the 5yo his spatula - for less than $5, a nice one that should last until he is old enough to move out.

I haven't finished gathering the receipts, but I think with gas, the hotel for the first night (we stopped in Austin on the way up there) and food we spent about $250. Which hurts, but it could have been worse. My mom gave us $50 for gas money (I had no idea how much it was, she walked up and put it in my pocket and I didn't want to pull it out to see what it was).

This week hasn't been too bad. I broke down and went to the vending machine for dr pepper twice this week - $1.30 total. I didn't do it once in all of August, but now it's twice in one week. I suck. I need to get my bottles washed so I can take my iced tea to work.

This weekend is the 7yos bday (he will be 7). We had planned a small party in the park, my 2 boys, the kids down the street and 2 kids from school (so 6 total). But it rained and it rained and it rained. And there's a 50% of rain tomorrow. The park is flooded, standing water. So that's out. I instituted backup plan, called the local bowling alley and set up a bday party there. It will be about $60 ($5.25/child, 10 child minimum + tax). AND we had to scramble to invite 4 more kids. I know 3 are coming, not sure about the 4th. I guess we didn't HAVE to invite 4 more, but we were paying for it anyway, so ...

DH stopped and found some cool air dart thingies for $1 each, so he bought 10 of those for party favors and cupcakes from Sam's (yes, I can cook, but it's too hot to heat the house with the inefficient oven). I figure we might pay for another game of bowling for each child (that's $2.75) but other than that, our expenses are done. I hate inviting people at the last minute because I know now they're looking for a gift. I wish I could say "no gifts" but that would be hard for DS to understand. I want him to offer to donate to the hurricane victims, but he's not getting that. He threw a fit that DH might go to Baton Rouge to help with things (his job offered him the chance to go for double time pay).

Life is in flux right now. We have no idea if DH will go to Baton Rouge. We're moving forward with the plan to buy a house, but no idea from there. I don't want to spend more than $90k and dh asks "what the difference between 90k and 100k?". He pisses me off with stuff like that - it's always "it's just $20/month". Which isn't fair of me since I spend $0.65 for a $0.25 can of soda.


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