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Archive for March, 2006

Terri Schaivo

March 31st, 2006 at 06:27 pm

One year ago today, Terri Schaivo died.

One year ago Tuesday, I started working at my job. We still have clients tell us "I don't want to be like that" and we do a lot of Directives to Physicians.

This is such a simple document. And it doesn't have to be "right to die" as some call it. This document is about spelling out your wishes and it can be written however you like.

If you don't want to do the document - then at least have the conversation with your family. Make sure they are fully aware of your wishes. I've always known what my mom would like. My mom would like for assisted suicide to be available, she's even asked me to promise to allow her to drown herself in the tub if she gets like my grandma. When I was 12, I watched my mom and dad have to make the decision to allow my brother's body to die (he had no brain stem function).

My mom and dad are fully aware and supportive of my decision not to be kept alive through artificial means unless there is a very good chance (realistically) that I will recover. So is my husband.

I know it's a hard conversation to have, but you have to do it. Even if your decision is to be kept alive as long as possible, you have to tell your family.

You have to spend money to make money?

March 30th, 2006 at 09:02 pm

Is this true?

I know our $20 challenge is about making money without spending much, but can we do it without spending anything? With using only what we have already?

This is where I'm getting hung up.
DH loves to teach. His working on weekends has been giving talks. They're part of his job, so he can't get paid for them, but it's something he likes and is good at. He wants to be an adjunct professor, but can't without a grad degree. This sucks.

I'm thinking that right now the only thing I could do that wouldn't require spending money is growing produce. And even then, I'd have to pay market fees to sell at the farmers' market (but I'm going to volunteer for their committee, so I'll see if I can get space for free or discounted).

DH also wants me to develop a market gardening talk. The only way our farmers' market is going to take off is to get small, "backyard", gardeners. The large scale operations are locked into contracts with wholesalers. And truthfully, the average backyard garden can produce enough produce to allow you to have a small retail stand. If we could get enough growers, and get them to branch out from tomatoes and peppers and go for diversity, we could have a great market. But people need to be taught.

Did I mention I suck at public speaking? That the thought of even calling in to a radio show leaves me in tears and shaking? Yeah.

Theatrical Marketing

March 29th, 2006 at 07:02 pm

I mentioned the cool displays at Whole Foods in an entry a week or so ago.

I now have a pic to show:

That's the fish section. Doesn't that look cool? It was even better in person. It really looked like they were jumping out of a stream.

Home Haircut Day

March 29th, 2006 at 06:59 pm

My boys were looking really ragged, so it was time to cut their hair.

We have really gotten our money's worth out of our clippers and scissors. Right now, we pretty much just use the clippers with a length guide and then trim the edges with scissors. I've actually practiced cutting with scissors, but the boys were too full of energy for that today.

Free plant(s)

March 28th, 2006 at 09:38 pm

DH worked again on Sunday. He came home with 2 gorgeous cut orchid stems. One pink, one white. They are marvelous.

Then, he went back out and came in with a beautiful blue and white pot planted with a pothos. This poor plant seriously needs to be planted in a bigger pot OR I'm thinking of dividing it and making 2 (or more) plants out of it. I have the gorgeous pot it's in and another gorgeous large square pot that I've been dying to plant since I got it (1.5 years ago).

(pic from http://www.plantmann.com/pages/pdeviliv.html)

Pothos is supposed to be extremely good at filtering impurities from the air. And it grows quickly.

The only issue will be keeping my cat from digging in it. The best tip for that is barrier methods. Plastic plates or aluminum foil work very well. They aren't the most attractive, but it does keep the cat from using it as a cat box.

Combining Sales and Coupons (or how I got paid a penny to take something from th

March 28th, 2006 at 09:28 pm

Seriously. I was in our local grocery. They had these cooking sauces that DH has been wanting to try. They're made fresh and packaged, but not to store long term. So there were several packages reduced for quick sale. They were reduced to $0.99. Next to them was a pad of in-store coupons for $1.00 off.

I was fully prepared for them to tell me I couldn't use the coupon for the reduced price item. And that was fine, I would have understood. But they just ran it through.

So, free cooking sauce (which DH LOVES) and an extra penny.

Of course, this means we are about $50 over our grocery budget for the month. Which means we spent $2.82 per day for each member of the family. That doesn't include eating out, though. I need to add a couple of dinners out, but that adds another $80 for the month.

DH had to work today

March 25th, 2006 at 05:17 pm

and he'll have to work tomorrow.

It's part of his job and he's salaried, so there's no extra pay for this.

BUT, he brought home tshirts for us, caps for the kids and 7 coupons for free blizzards (small) from dairy queen. I think we may have to use some next week. There's one that can be on our way home (I just have to take a different route).

The tshirts have a nice design, but they put it on the back. I HATE that. If there's a pretty design, I want to be able to see it and see people's reactions to it. If it's on my back, I can't see either.

No interest checking account?

March 25th, 2006 at 01:51 pm

My checking account is no fee, but also no interest.

In the beginning, I was more concerned with bouncing checks than I was with not earning interest, so all the money went into the checking account and stayed there.

After a year, I'm not fairly comfortable with the ease of transferring money from savings to checking online. I've not encountered any real problems (I have found, though, that they do maintenance at midnight which is my normal banking hour).

So, my new goal is to keep as much in savings as possible and only move it to checking when I know money will be coming out. Now, since several of my bills are automatic withdrawal, I make sure to keep a minimum of $400 in there and bump it up to $600-700 when I know to expect a withdrawal.

I know interest rates are low and this won't make much difference, but I'm messing with it anyway, why not make some money off of it, right?

Attorney Fees

March 24th, 2006 at 07:26 pm

What are you paying for when you go to an attorney? His work or his knowledge.

We had a client come in today for advice on how to get her late husband's name off the deed of their house. It's been too long to probate (in TX you have to probate within 4 years of death) and there wasn't really an estate anyway.

The KNOWLEDGE my boss has is extensive. He's the smartest attorney I've ever worked with.

So, he knows exactly what she needs. She needs a document called an Affidavit of Heirship. He sends me in to get the information for the document while he takes care of an emergency client (I swear, we don't do criminal law, what is up with the clients with their "emergencies"?).

I take the information, go back to my desk, and 20 minutes later, it's done. I let my boss read it through, then sit on it for a couple of hours. I called her back and told her it was ready to pick up.

For that? We get $250. I'd say it took at total of 50 minutes (including the conference with her).

And the sad thing? If she had gone to another attorney she would have been charged at least $500.

So what are our clients paying for?

Gossip Day at work

March 23rd, 2006 at 09:08 pm

One of our workers has been out sick, she was back today, so she and I walked to the soda machine to have a gab session (it's down the block). $0.65 frivolous spending.

At my office, the ladies are supposed to take a turn during the week manning the phones and taking payments during lunch. At no time am I supposed to be alone in the building (safety issue).

Yesterday it was the sick co-workers day. Now if anyone else is gone a day and didn't make arrangements, she's always the one to stay. So, you'd think one of the other ladies would say "Oh, she's out sick, I'm sure she didn't think to ask someone to stay" or that they'd at least notice that everyone was leaving. Yeah right, that'd require them to be less than selfish.

So, they all went to lunch. Not a big deal, there were 2 other people in the office with me (we have 2 other attorneys who rent space and they have staff) plus one of our staff attorneys was still there (the boss's wife). So the attorney looked around and didn't see anyone. She wanted to go to lunch. She asked me if anyone else was there and I named the two people, so she went to lunch. Well, those 2 people were just late taking lunch, they left.

In all, I was probably only alone in the office 15 minutes and I don't feel particularly unsafe there, but it was frustrating. I'm really far behind and if no one is there, I'm constantly interrupted to answer the phone and take payments. I don't mind doing either thing and I often do them during lunch because I know it's hard for one person to do it all.

So, I unloaded on my sick coworker. She was LIVID. I have a feeling she went to the boss to let him know. I won't do it because there are enough hard feelings towards me. Besides, I suspect the wife probably told him. He was a little out of sorts today.

Frugal Family Fun night

March 22nd, 2006 at 09:28 pm

Tonight it was Jenga. This is really fun with 5 and 7 year old boys. They're actually pretty good. We got up to 28 "stories", which I think it pretty good with 2 high energy kids.

DS1 and I also practiced a couple of yoga asanas. I practice until I can do a harder balance pose and then challenge him to try. He doesn't know they're yoga asanas, for him it's just a challenging move.

supporting site: Consolidate Student Loan

Still 1.5 weeks in the month?

March 22nd, 2006 at 09:16 pm

DH went to the grocery store today for turkey and milk. He hasn't given me the receipt, which means he probably bought more than that, so I'm sure we're over our grocery budget.

I know the gas is over the budget. 2 10-12 hour round trips will do that. We were under last month, though, so I hope it will balance out.

We got our AmEx card. It came with an offer for a free balance transfer with a lower rate than our low rate (I don't remember the rate right now). We have to pay it off in 6 months (which is the plan). It will save us about $40 in interest. The best thing it will do is give us a goal and keep us on track.

On one of my boards we started a new thread - 100 ways to save $1. I figured out how much it costs to run my dryer (given our high cost of electricity) and realized each load is almost $1. OUCH! That means we REALLY have to get that clothesline up. We've never had to do one from scratch, though, so I know that's what's holding dh up. Our posthole diggers broke - so I'll have to figure out someone we can borrow them from. Maybe the people across the alley who took our dryer and our wheelbarrow would have a set?

Oh No!!!

March 22nd, 2006 at 07:01 pm

DH just told me there's a Sam's near where we will go on vacation. This can't be too bad, right? We'll be flying so it's not like they can buy out the store, right?

I guess it's worth going to check out Sam's in another country, but eeek! I hope their pizza is the same, things will be so different for the kids that going to their favorite store and it not have the same food will be too much.

Working from home

March 21st, 2006 at 08:19 pm

I'm doing something I swore I'd never do.

I'm bringing home work. I've had a lot of work this month. It's reflected in my billings, but that doesn't give me an excuse to slide.

I've had to go back to work with the kids twice this month and 3 times I've brought work from home.

I hate this. But, I'm on the computer at home anyway. It isn't that much more effort. But it's still a pain.

In many ways I wonder if I'm setting myself up to need to do it more often. If I accomplish more, will they give me more? Right now I'm working with the assumption that this is just an extremely busy time and it will get better. But, I will reevaluate that assumption as time goes on.

The one good thing about working at home? I can actually start something and finish it without interruptions. I feel like I'm constantly running at work but having to switch gears in a millisecond so that our clients don't feel the pressure.

Lawn mowing today

March 21st, 2006 at 05:59 pm

I have this mower:

I had it when we had the half acre lot and I have to say, this smaller lot? Much better. Also, this grass? (buffalo grass) Is soooo much better than bermudagrass.

It didn't take long. The biggest problem is that our ash tree is shedding little branches (DON'T TOP YOUR TREES, they'll shed branches constantly) and those little sticks get caught between the cutting edge and the blade. ARGGHH!!!

The cool thing about a reel mower? You can mow the lawn without picking up your water houses. If it doesn't get between the blade and cutting edge, it won't get cut. Of course, that's a bad thing too - if the weeds get too tall, the mower will push them over and they won't get into the cutting space.

I played the wimp. "I'm too tired to go to the grocery store, isn't there something we can eat here?" Don't tell DH, but I'm not really that tired. We did have stuff to eat, the only issue is DS2's lunch tomorrow, we're out of turkey, but he can take peanut butter.

A little help from my friends

March 20th, 2006 at 09:09 pm

Yesterday I noticed that my ash tree has webworms.

(image from http://www.realgreenlawns.com/austin_tx_texas/webwormsx.htm)

Today I noticed there were wasps hovering around the web. Being the curious person I am, I decided to go check out what they were doing.

It appeared they were looking for a way into the webs. So, I grabbed a stick and poked at the web a little.

It didn't take long. In minutes, there was a wasp crawling in the hole I had made. Boy those caterpillars were scrambling to fix their web.

That wasp walked around trying to grab caterpillars. They were dropping to the ground (where they will most likely die or be eaten by birds) and finally it grabbed one. It quickly stung the caterpillar 3-4 times (it was really fast, it looked like a muscle spasm) then bit it a few times and rolled it up. Then it grabbed it and flew off with it.

YAY!! In a few minutes, that wasp killed several webworms (which aren't that harmful in reality, just extremely unsightly) and I suspect it will be back. I'm pretty sure it was taking the caterpillar back to stuff in its nest to feed its developing larvae.

THIS is why I don't kill wasps. Wasps are predators of harmful insects. I do watch to be sure they aren't building nests in areas where we will disturb them. But if they're building a nest in a far corner of my eave - why mess with it?

Less than helpful was my neighbor's boyfriend. He decided my 3 inch grass needed to be weedeated and cut down my vine. The vine that dh and I had been carefully weeding around (it really was obvious). His excuse "I didn't know when you were going to cut the grass". It was 3 inches high. It was just now time to even consider cutting it. It's our yard! Stay off. Oh and his other excuse "I didn't see it". Yeah, I spoke with the previous owner and she told me you did the same thing last year. So, you just hate vines, right? You can't keep yourself off of other people's property? What?

I'd better not catch him spraying anything on my yard. We are organic and plan to stay that way.

Showmanship as marketing

March 20th, 2006 at 08:12 pm

We went to Whole Foods this weekend, the flagship store in Austin.

This is an amazing store. Organic and natural foods of every possible kind. Just beyond cool.

But the coolest thing is the staging they do. Their fish cooler? Wow! They had the fish posed like they were swimming and jumping in the ice - some were sideways, but diagonally, some were head out, some were tail out. Of course, some fish is frozen somewhat curved rather than flat, and they worked with it. All the fish department employees were dressed in full length waders.

The bread department has all their bread available as samples. And their bread is all artisan quality.

They have an olive bar. I didn't know there were so many kinds of olives.

Now, food isn't really my thing. But it is DH's. So I'm just thrilled we got out of there with spending only $71. DH did, though, take a few pictures.

First day of spring

March 20th, 2006 at 05:38 pm

It's a great day. Warm, hot even - 88F. Nothing much changed, spring doesn't exactly "spring" here. The flowers were already in bloom.

I spent today working on practicing drawing and getting ready for my website. Of course, I still know nothing about web design, but that's okay. There are several steps to my idea and all will require development.

Website Update

March 19th, 2006 at 09:15 pm

I'm still working on the planning stages. DH went from being reticent about putting his photos on it to being somewhat excited about it.

So, now I have to get it up and running. Of course, dh is now talking about the lenses he needs to get better pictures.

For instance, he wants a polarizing lens before we go on vacation this summer. Now, I've seen the difference and I know this lens will make his photos much more professional and that without it, his photos will look just like everyone else's vacation photos. But, it's a minimum $500. And he's never sold a single photo.

I found a kids' magazine which looks perfect to help me develop my ideas for my kids. I want them to have a section on the website, but up until now, it's just been vague ideas.

Now, I "just" need to learn to do website design - LOL. I have a copy of dreamweaver somewhere, but I don't know anything about it. Eek. This is the kind of thing I hate.

Travelling again

March 19th, 2006 at 06:40 pm

We drove to Waco to pick up our boys. It was a more expensive trip than it had to be - dh decided we HAD to stay overnight, so there was the hotel bill.

Then, we went to Costco. They had a coupon on a 4 man tent. He really wants to start taking the kids camping and our tent is a very small 2 man tent. I was going to buy myself a skirt (there was a coupon) but I decided I didn't like it, there were a lot of raw edges and loose strings.

But we also stopped at Whole Foods. It's March 19 and we have $20 left in the grocery budget for the month. We shouldn't need much but I know he's going to go beyond the budget.

The good thing is that we didn't eat out much. He promised me Taco Bueno for Saturday but we didn't make it all the way into Waco and then couldn't find one that is supposed to exist in Georgetown. So, another 6 months without Bueno (yes, he's in the doghouse). So at that point I just didn't care. Eat? Whatever, I'll just be hungry. So we used a coupon and had a milkshake at Ben & Jerry's. Then we went on to Costco and had supper there.

Today we had b'fast at the hotel and then just bought snacks at whole foods for lunch.

Frivolous spending

March 17th, 2006 at 10:15 pm

Well, one of my coworkers beat me to the treating, so I'll have to find another day.

But, I bought a soda for the receptionist. One of these days the office helper is going to let me buy her soda.

I'm so glad to be done with the full time days. It was necessary and it helped a lot, I am almost fully caught up. But I'm exhausted and ready to go back to being able to veg in the afternoons and just relax with the kids. To get a little time to let my brain think about something other than foreclosures, probate and wills. And now it's business organizations. I've created 6 in the last 6 weeks and have one more to do (well, and 2 of the 6 still need some paperwork prepared).

But, I managed to earn one full day off and 2/3 of a day off. This will come in very handy. I think I'll work another full time day on 3/31, the kids are out of school and dh has comp time to stay home with them. That will get me the rest of my 2nd day off.

Real Estate Tip

March 17th, 2006 at 07:29 pm

It's not your house until the deed is recorded. I don't care what kind of agreement you think you have, it isn't your house.

So, don't go fixing up the house - even if you have the keys and they were sent to you.

Especially if you don't even have a contract.

I STP this actually happened. One of our clients is getting appointed executor of an estate. A local flew up (our client is out of state) and made an offer on the residence. Neither of them tell the same story, but what it comes down to is that there was never a contract and no money exchanged hands.

The local got keys somewhere (that isn't clear) and has actually gone into the house and done work. He says over $3500 worth of work.

Our client tells us it looks awful. Half-assed, cheap materials, etc. So he's thinking he's going to have to spend money to undo all this guy did.

Oye. So anyway - it isn't your house until the deed is recorded.

Treating co-workers

March 16th, 2006 at 08:52 pm

I think during lunch tomorrow I'm going to run to the grocery store and buy a treat. I'm not sure what, but clearly I'm not going to bake. Something green I think.

I think I can keep it to less than $5, so it shouldn't be too much of a splurge and I think it will help with the politics.

I think working fulltime this week has helped too. I'll do it again in June when the kids are gone for "Camp Grandma". That time, though, I'll do it for extra money. Comp time is great and needed, but I don't need as much as I'd earn in a month (7 days).

Treat Night

March 16th, 2006 at 08:28 pm

This is our last free night before the kids come home, so we used our Chili's gift card and went out. We got burgers and fries. I've been wanting a burger for 2 weeks and for whatever reason, it's not worked out.

I still have $9.30 on my gift card, so it's not bad. We tipped really well tonight - probably because it was a gift card. I think it was about 30% of the before tax amount. We ended up with free chips and salsa (I don't know what that was about, he just walked out with them, looked around and then said "want some chips?") and a free drink (another thing I didn't understand but if you're offering free, I'll take it), so probably if you took those things off, our tip wasn't that great.

But, now I'm paying for that burger. Gassy tummy. I think it was the onions. Or maybe it was that I haven't had a burger in so long and even though I only at half my burger, that's more meat than I've eaten in a meal in a LOOOOONNNNNG time.


March 15th, 2006 at 10:33 pm

So, my kids are on Spring Break and visiting family in Oklahoma (all kids should get to spend time on a farm, right?). While they are there, I'm working full time to get caught up and to bank some comp time.

I have to admit, it's exhausting working full time. It's exhausting being home with 2 kids, but it's a different kind of exhausting.

Couple that with my innate issues with change and I am one tired little girl. I ended up taking a 2.5 hour nap after dinner. I feel MUCH better.

But, because I was so exhausted today, I decided I needed a soda. And because I know there are "issues" with me at work today, I offered to buy for others - only one took me up on it. So, $1.30 in frivolous spending.

I also drove to the bank and the library at lunch today. Generally I would walk to the library and go to the bank only on my way home (slightly out of the way, but not much). But the bank closes at 5:00, so if I wanted to get my check in the bank, I had to do it at lunch. I had several pinecone checks that I'd been holding onto for a while (it was part of the transition between houses), checks from MIL for our costco trip, etc so I wanted to get those in the bank.

Bad diet day

March 14th, 2006 at 08:54 pm

One of the women at work (our "girl" office help) brought a cake to work today. Holy crap, that was the best cake I have ever tasted! So NOW I really have to take something. I'm thinking something special on St Pat's day.

On the bright side, though, when I weighed this weekend I found out I'd lost 13 lbs since the beginning of the year. Not bad considering I have cheated on my diet, a lot! I'm about 5-10 lbs from goal (my true goal is 5 lbs lower than my "realistic" goal).

Tomorrow will be a library day. I just have to decide if I want to go during lunch hour or try to convince dh to walk with me. It was cold (well, not really, low 70s) and kept acting like it was going to rain (it never did).

Freaky thing while shopping

March 13th, 2006 at 05:00 pm

I've ordered from coldwater creek 2x in my life. Both at different addresses. When I bought yesterday, she asked me my name and zipcode and told me my new address.


I'd say that's almost stalk-ish feeling. They didn't have my correct email address though, which is odd because I get email from them every day.

I'm getting a raise

March 13th, 2006 at 04:47 pm

It isn't much at all - something like $0.38/hr, but I'll take it.

I also had a talk with them about working extra time. They offered to pay me an hourly rate for that, but I asked for comp time for now. I need both time and money, but I need time more than money right now. It seems like I have to make so many decisions simply based upon whether I have time off or not.

So, now, for every 3 days I work full time, I get one free day off - YAY!!!

Okay, so this weekend I was the spender

March 12th, 2006 at 09:28 pm

First I bought a book. I NEVER buy books, but the library doesn't have this one and it's from 2004 so I'm fairly sure they won't get it.

THEN, we went to costco and I bought 2 new blouses. I needed some long-sleeved blouses for work (even more so as summer comes, I swear during summer they keep the office at 65) so it wasn't a stupid expense, so much as one that probably could have waited.

Then, we went to an outlet mall. We are wanting some of those polycarbonate glasses (or I want them, DH doesn't so much). Our glasses are from 1996 and we're down to 3 or 4. We live on tile, so if a glass is dropped, it will shatter. DH, on the other hand, doesn't really like the polycarbonate cups, sooo we are searching for ones he will like.

While there, he drug me into the coldwater creek outlet. I love coldwater creek, so I didn't have to be drug too hard. They had a rack of skirts for $10, so I ended up with 2. They will match the new blouses I bought and some of my other clothes, so they are good additions to my wardrobe.

Frugal crafting

March 10th, 2006 at 09:26 pm

I had to have my light at work worked on. It flat wasn't working.

I came in today and found my trash can full of electrical wire. I ignored it at first, but then I was throwing some stuff away and noticed it was pretty copper wire under the plastic coating. So I snagged it. It's a lot. I just stripped a section and OMS it is pretty. And it bends perfectly.

I was planning on buying so copper wire and now I don't have to! Yay!


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