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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.

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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.

Naptime

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.

Eek!

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!

C

Birthday party

March 10th, 2006 at 08:28 pm

Birthday party for the kids tonight. It was fun. We walked out with a couple of little toys - no candy! and a free meal for all of us. Plus the boys got to play lots of games and I got to visit with other moms.

Can't beat that.

We dove into our gift box and pulled out the perfect gift for this little boy. I really appreciate that I have a husband who likes to shop (even when I complain about the fact that he can't go anywhere without spending money) and finds these great deals. It was a gift that probably looks like it cost $20-40 and probably cost about $10.

Money tension at work

March 10th, 2006 at 12:03 pm

So today we ordered McDonalds. It started with one woman saying she would pay for McGriddles (which I don't like), so I pulled out the only money I had - a $5 - and asked them to get me a hashbrown.

Well, it was a short day for me today. So by the time they got back with the breakfast it was almost time for me to leave. I asked about my change and was told "we're working on it". I asked about it again and was told "oh, someone else is doing that". Then I *HAD* to go so I figured out who had the change and handed her a note to just put my change in my drawer. She gave me a nasty look and said "I have no idea what you mean."

Okay, look, I'm not paying $5 for a McDonald's hashbrown.

I picked up the kids and remembered something I hadn't gotten to, so we went back to the office to take care of that fax. While there, I tried to tell the woman what I meant and she didn't believe me. "You did what? I don't have time for this, if you want your money, here just take this $5."

So, now I'm made to look like a cheapskate just because I wanted my change. I know the office politics and I know they are now there talking about how cheap I am.

It's time to do some baking and take something in.

Peeling paint

March 9th, 2006 at 09:43 pm

Well, not peeling exactly, just not holding onto the wall so if something touches it or scrapes it, it pulls off.

We just moved in. We painted in December. We didn't buy the cheapest paint.

I'm so frustrated. My walls look several years old and I've been exceptionally careful.

I guess I need to take photos of the spots, grab my receipts and go back to home depot and find out what remedies I have.

We spent way too much on paint to be having to touch it up less than 4 months later.

Short day tomorrow

March 9th, 2006 at 09:35 pm

My kids get out of school at 10:30 tomorrow. I hate short days.

DH is going to be nice and take the kids to school so I can go into work early, since I'll have to leave at 10:15.

I'm going to make a copy of some notes, email a few sample wills to myself and then come home and try to knock out the wills I have. I think I have 6 wills that need to be done, and a few of them are from 2-3 weeks ago. It's just been so crazy at work.

Next week is spring break and my kids are going to go to grandma's house. So, I'll up my hours to full time (I really have to talk to them about doing comp time) and I just hope that will be enough to get me on top of everything.

My inbox truly overflows. I did go through it today and pulled out some things that are fairly simple - things that will take 5-10 minutes tops and made a quick note on them. I hope our office helper can pick up some of them and run with it.

But so much of my time today was spent organizing files for two contested probate hearings tomorrow. And then we had a client come in for a power of attorney and my boss wanted me to do it today.

THEN, (it just piles up) I got a note that there needs to be nothing on my floor when I leave tomorrow because the carpet is going to be cleaned at the same time one of the other workers brought a box over and said "hey, I think this is some stuff you can use, it's the forms files from your predecessor". I agree, it's good stuff, but without floor space, where am I supposed to put it? And, can't you see I'm pulling my hair out trying to get stuff done? Can't it wait until next week? Apparently not. I grabbed a sharpie, labeled it and then took it to the file room. I told the file lady that I'd get it next week but I needed it stored for now.

Ideally, I'd like for all those forms to be scanned and logged and be available to everyone.

Legal Documents

March 9th, 2006 at 07:43 pm

So, I'm transferring my domain registration. This is not a secret.

I got the email from the registrar with their agreement. I went to print it out and my DH acted like I was too anal for words. Rolling his eyes, etc.

But really, who doesn't read a contract? And if you don't, how do you know what kinds of charges you will face later?

This man drives me nuts. I'm trying to set up an amortization schedule for his car and I can't get it to work out. I don't have the interest rate but I have 4 months of statements. So, I've been looking at those and trying to figure the interest rate from them and it isn't working. So, he brings in his book and says "well, the last payment in July 2008." "Yes, dear, I know that was the scheduled maturity date, but we paid extra" "well, just work back, it doesn't matter".

It doesn't matter? They could be charging him tons more interest than in his agreement and it doesn't matter?!!?? Seriously, how can he be so cavalier about it? Especially since what they are doing makes absolutely no sense at all.

"Well they charge what they charge and it isn't like there is anything we can do about it." There is lots we can do about it. If they are breaking the contract, I can file a lawsuit. I can sue for damages, etc. We have legal remedies. We aren't helpless here.

ARGH!!!!!

Shopping AGAIN

March 8th, 2006 at 09:22 pm

Okay, so he did okay. We needed fire ant bait (organic) because just getting the mail is turning into an obstacle course. So he bought that. We also needed toothpaste, I'm one step away from getting the pliers (which is fine for me, but the kids can't really handle it).

Then, because our first aid kit seems to have disappeared, he bought band aids. If we find the first aid kit, fine, bandaids seem to last forever (I know for a fact I have bandaids that are almost 12 years old and still stick).

And then he bought sunflower seeds. We have a lot of birds. Part of me thinks this is wonderful, but part of me thinks "I already can't sleep at night because they are sooo loud". I'll enjoy the seed though, it's soo much fun watching birds at a feeder, and maybe this will help keep our lizards safe.

He spent a little less than $30 today, so it wasn't that bad. But I'm seeing our spending get awfully high already and we're only a week into the month.

So far, the grocery and "other" category total $225 for the month. OUCH! AND that doesn't include the $300 or so for dh's new tires.

This too shall pass, this too shall pass.

Eeeekkkk!!! A snake!

March 8th, 2006 at 07:08 pm

I got up last night for no real reason and found a snake in my house.

Now, it wasn't a big snake. Really, it was smaller than a lot of earthworms. At first glance it might have been a worm but it moved like a snake (that S slide). I finally managed to catch it with a piece of paper and a tupperware container.

At that point I KNEW it wasn't a worm. I could see eyes. Worms don't have eyes.

So, yeah, that messed with my sleep. I'm in bed thinking "that was a baby, I wonder if mama is nearby".

The man must be kept out of the stores

March 7th, 2006 at 07:01 pm

My dh. God love him. He means well. But he just can't help himself.

We discuss our goals. How if we work to pay off debt, we can have all the cc debt paid by summer. How the best way to do that is to not buy things that we don't absolutely have to have right now.

So he went to Sam's today. Not because we really needed anything, but because he was in the town with one. He asked "do we need anything?" "I can't think of anything".

So he spends $100. He bought a trash can. Now we haven't had a kitchen trash can, well, ever. And it was something we wanted, but not something we HAD to have right now.

I had some frivolous spending as well. 65 cents on a soda. Mine doesn't seem so bad. (Yeah, I was going to give up soda for lent, but I'm not Catholic so it just didn't "take" for me).

Update on my website

March 6th, 2006 at 10:21 pm

Siteturn insists they've updated my information and removed the lock. Whois doesn't show the update (which they said was done on Friday), but I'll give it until tomorrow.

Now, I need to get serious about planning my writing. I know I want more of a nature journal with the information about temps, etc than a standard blog.

I need to figure out how to load blog software on my site and then customize it for what I want. So, I'm going to have to learn webdesign. Fun.

Anyone have any good book recommendations for website design? I know it will be good to learn this, it's an important skill to have and it will allow me to use the websites we own (we have 2 others) more efficiently. DH's idea was for me to take a class, but this is the kind of thing that I have to learn as it is relevant, not something I learn in the abstract and then try to apply later. I know my brain, and technology just doesn't "stick" unless I'm doing it.

Cars!

March 6th, 2006 at 07:41 pm

DH had to get new tires for his car. This is the first set he's bought, so it's not like they weren't due. But $300 for 4 tires, ouch!

I started thinking about my car. It's 8 years old now and probably not much longer for this world. So, it is time to start thinking about it's replacement. We are still paying on DH's car, so it's not like we can just absorb another car payment.

Now, IF my car lasts another 2 years until his car is paid off, no big deal. BUT ...

So, I started thinking. With the kids going to a new school next year (5-6 blocks away), we won't need 2 cars. I can get to work (1.75 miles away) on a scooter and save on gas. I don't have to drive on busy roads to get to work (there is one crossing over 2 busy roads - weird interchange) but it has lights, so it isn't a big deal.

It isn't worth it to go buy it now, but it will be worth considering if my car conks out before dh's car is paid off. We still have his truck if I need the car for some reason (he could drive his truck and I could take the car). Of course, it's even older than my car and probably just as much on its last legs as my car. In a pinch, he could drive the scooter to work, but he pretty much has to drive on major highways.


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