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July 17th, 2008 at 01:41 pm

This is mostly for Merch...proof of your point! Check it out. I don't know if it's legit, but kind of freaky.


Going Green

July 12th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

I'm motivated to make changes for the better in our household after seeing our electric bill go down. I've been turning off the switch of our surge protectors for both TVs before we leave the house. I usually keep them off until the little one wakes up, and even then, I only need to turn on one, if that. I'm also working on a few other things that are goals for us to turn into habit:

1) use cloth napkins (I bought 12 at Bed Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon that cost us $2.40--that's 12 cents per napkin!)

2) stop buying paper towels

3) recycle anything that can be recycled and drop off at our nearest recycling center (we do not have pick-up service here in Chicago yet)

4) start composting

5) stop buying products with phlalates

6) start using only natural substances (i.e. baking soda, lemons, vinegar, etc.) for cleaning

7) continue to unplug/turn off electronics not in use

8) start air drying laundry

This is a start. Perhaps a little lofty, but good none the less.

I want to have a garage sale this summer. I need to work on accumulating things to be sold. That's a goal for this week!

Today, I'm going to grill salmon on a cedar plank, grill corn on the cob and am making a blueberry cobbler. Woo hoo! Thank you fruit store! Gotta love summer...


July 9th, 2008 at 06:16 am

Last month, our electric bill was $30 cheaper than normal. I couldn't figure out why and thought it was a mistake that would be corrected this month. So when I checked our June bill yesterday, I noticed that even with fans going constantly, it was still almost $30 below normal. I have been unplugging some of the kitchen appliances when not in use as a course of habit lately, but that could not possibly cut $30 off of an electric bill.

Then I had a revelation. There is a lot of cancer in my family and I stopped using the microwave after reading some things about it changing the atomic composition of our food (as that is how the microwave works--something with particles moving, etc). Call me crazy, but hey, I prefer the taste of oven heated food now anyway. The chemistry teacher at school asked if anyone had microwaves to spare for an experiment she was doing. I gladly lent mine and told her not to worry about returning it right away as we never use it. I forgot to bring it home. It has not been plugged in our kitchen for two months now, if not more. We never used it, so it wasn't useage causing the high charges, it was that darn microwave clock! $30 per month for a darn microwave clock!

Mama Drama

July 8th, 2008 at 06:37 am

I need a little non-financial advice (what else is new). This time it deals with my mother-in-law...in relation to my husband.

My husband is quite a bit older than me. His mother is 84. For five years, she has been "plagued" by these little flying bugs she considers parasites, in her apartment. She claims they are brought in by the Koreans in her building and they they are the Korean Red Mite, which is not visible, and yet she can see them flying in her apartment. For years, she has been giving herself enemas, putting toxic substances all over her body, to get rid of them. She has seen many doctors, all who have diagnosed her with senile dimentia. I suggested over and over again that perhaps she was ill with something else and her symptoms were for an illness she refused to be tested for (she refused to have a pap smear or colonoscopy).

On a particular night last summer, she was so panicked in the middle of the night that she called 911 about the bugs. They promptly sent over two representatives from Catholic Charities who convinced her to check herself into the hospital to have her evaluated. She was not checked in to see a doctor, but was placed in the mental ward of the hospital. When my husband and his brother showed up at the hospital and saw where she was placed, they promptly told the staff they were taking her out. Nothing was done.

Last year, she began finding blood in her urine. She was diagnosed with bladder cancer. She has refused treatment and believes the Lord and the cranberry pomegranate juice she drinks will heal her.

Not ONE of her sons (she has 3) does anything about this. The topic is avoided, never discussed. In response to her having lost about 100 pounds in the past year, my husband will make comments like "I hate old age" rather than "I wish she would go in for cancer treatment." Granted, she is 84. If she wants to die, that's her perogative. But they're all in denial. It is so frustrating and it ticks me off everytime we have some family get together or some drama takes place where his mother calls the house in a panic. They all just claim, "oh, she's just being mama."

It gets worse. She for years has also refused to have cataract surgery claiming that she could possibly lose her sight. I told my husband that she will definitely lose her sight if she does not have the surgery. She has since lost her ability to really see, but is still reluctant to have the surgery citing that she could lose her sight. No one does anything, yet we are forced to continue dealing with the drama?

She has been at every hospital in Chicago and claims they all have done her wrong or will kill her. She believes Cook County hospital is the last hope for her--Cook County hospital is for those who have no insurance, people wait for HOURS there just to get treated and end up with things like MRSA (not that I'm knocking the hospital, I'm just saying). She is on social security and medicaid, but believes these places are all for just taking her money.

It gets worse. My husband and his brothers are kind of, I don't know how to say this, enabled (?) The brother that lives here in Chicago has not worked for about ten years and has lived off of the refurbished computers he sells. He lives in a YMCA and is always trying to scrape together money. His mother is always pitying him and gives him money. Recently, she has begun to give him money for his rent as the price of computers has come down so much, people don't want to purchase refurbished computers anymore. She claims she has no money to buy things she needs when she's giving all of her money away.

It is absolutely none of my business, and yet it affects my life tremendously. Everytime I try to discuss the issue with my husband or ask how she's doing, he clams up and doesn't want to discuss it. I know I have no right to get involved, but isn't that what husbands and wives do? Give eachother advice? Tell the other spouse where they see something going awry? I'm not naggy about it and I really try to be as nice and sweet, yet I just end up seeming subversive due to my walking on eggshell demeanor about it. Do I keep my mouth shut? Do I continue down the same path? I don't know...

on the frontline of life

July 3rd, 2008 at 06:21 am

Life keeps ticking, ticking along. I've had some setbacks in terms of my tracking our spending, etc. We've been overspending the past few weeks. This tends to happen when I'm off of school. It's almost cheaper to work!

I am very angry with the federal government. They have created this labrynth of a system for the teacher forgiveness program so it's as if no one can actually apply for it. Sigh. I'm going to have to begin making payments on that loan. I'm almost thinking that it may be better for me to begin snowballing that debt first to get it down to a number where I can apply for a forbearance. But then again, that would be rather imprudent as it has a lower interest rate.

I took a vacation with my parents and siblings to Wisconsin. It was lovely and nice to see that many family members have begun to change spending habits. We ate in most of the time (it was in a condo setting with a kitchen--we grilled and cooked). Before leaving, I stocked up the kitchen for my stepdaughters because they were to stay for an extended period--Mom going out of town. Mom did not go out of town, thus, kitchen is stocked. I will not need to do much grocery shopping this weekend. Small trip to Costco and the fruit store for some bananas, apples and berries.

The weather is lovely. We have yet to put in the window air conditioners. I'm hoping that we can put that off as long as possible. I dread a higher electric bill.

On the running front, I did the 2.5 miles last week and have only done 1.25 so far this week. I need to work hard at getting into a better routine! I'm also happy to say that although I did not stick 100% to my routine over the mini vacation, I did not go over a normal calorie count for myself. Now I'm back to the reduced calorie diet and am going to fight hard to stick to it.

Life is good, but I need to reflect on and stick to my goals. Happy 4th of July all! Hope you have a fabulous holiday with family and friends!

on the move

June 25th, 2008 at 04:49 am

I used to be an avid long distance runner. It is the exercise of choice for me. In high school, I ran long distance in track and cross country. Ran about 30-40 miles per week. Loved it. In college, I never stopped running, but had periods of busyness, etc. What I did stop doing consistently was weight training. Bad news. I injured my knee and when I visited my doctor she told me that I shouldn't be running anyway--it's a terrible sport for one's body. Hmph. Tell that to a runner.

It was disheartening. It took awhile for my knee to heal and when it did, it really didn't. Got a full time job, got married, had a child. Now, I'm 30 pounds heavier and after visiting a sports medicine doctor, physical therapy, orthotics...I know i have runners knee AND flat feet.

I purchased a pair of saucony progrid for $40 at DSW last Friday and am on the move again. I ran Sunday and yesterday for a total of 2.5 miles. I am slow like a turtle and feel the entire weight of my body as I run. My goal has always been to complete a marathon. I have a long way to go, but hopefully, without injury, I'll do it.

Sooooo....the plan is to run about 3-4 this week and up it a mile per week. I also want to integrate strength training and/or yoga on the days I do not run. My knees feel good (orthotics and new shoes). I'm going to add a ticker to signify that goal. Keep me honest Smile

No post in awhile

June 24th, 2008 at 05:42 am

Well, I just haven't felt like gabbing. It's strange how I go in stages of needing to talk about things and sometimes go into "just can't talk about it" mode. I've paid off some debt (prosper loan is gone) and lost some weight. I confirmed that I can qualify for a forbearance (not a deferrment because I have no loans taken out before 1993--who came up with THAT one?) so I will not have to pay anything on the fed student loans YET. I cannot claim both the title I school and teacher shortage area for loan forgiveness, thus, I will have to pay something back. I am putting my fed loans into forebearance for two years until I can file for the teacher shortage with is $17,500. Then, I will have to pay back what is left. Along the way I will most likely pay the interest so I don't have that compounded as well (paying back $3000 will be much better in the long run instead of $3000 plus a lot of interest).

Private student loans are due in July. I have setup automatic deductions from the checking account so we get that .25% interest rate reduction.

I also had a long awaited conversation with my principal. I shared the sped department's distaste with what went on this year and our feeling of a lack of support, etc. He responded very well. If nothing pans out in the way of another job, I think I can handle one more year there. Then it'll be easier for me to leave (we stay with an advisory until they graduate and mine graduates next June).

It's summer vaca and I'm looking forward to going through and gathering items for two categories 1) trash 2) sell. Then, I'm going to orchestrate a garage sale in the burbs are my parents' house. I'm hoping to walk away with some money that I can throw towards the debt.

My husband and I have toyed with the idea of purchasing a condo when our lease is up. I know everyone will gasp at the idea, but rent has skyrocketed and for us to pay for a 3 bedroom apartment (I have two stepdaughters who visit every weekend, so we need all 3), we would pay less for our own condo especially with the market going down down down. We can always borrow a downpayment from my parents, if need be, and pay them back. I just don't want to end up paying $2000 in rent when I can pay $1,200 on a mortgage. Sigh.

In other news

June 8th, 2008 at 08:52 am

Well, I went to the job interview at the school in a terrible neighborhood. I arrived early, which was a tad nice because I was able to observe activities in the office. At 1:45 (bell rang), teachers trickled in the office to clock out and thus leave. To me it's a bad sign when teachers leave right after the bell--it means the day was rough and oh man do I need to get oughta here! Interview went well and I have been offered the job. I am not sure, however, that I want to make a move to another troubled school. It was reconstituted about five years ago with a new principal last year. Enrollment, according to the school report card, looks to be going down, so the school may be nearing its closing. No aid in a cross categorical special education classroom.

I told the principal that it's early and I'd still like to look around. She agreed. I'm nervous about staying at my current school. The special ed department is in upheaval as three of five sped teachers are leaving (four if I go). Our principal gives carte blanche to every department except ours--for some reason he believes he must have a hand in how our department is run. I don't want to stay for any more of that. I feel like it could ruin my career, or even worse, my self-esteem.

In other news, I'm trying out the sparkpeople meal plans instead of creating my own. The grocery list you can print out was HUGE and I got nervous that it would cost too much money so I headed to Aldi for the first time in years. Holy cow batman! What have I been doing all this time? I spent $40 for 3/4 of the items on my list! Then it was onto the fruit/veggie store where I purchased lots of yummy healthy things. I spent the most at Costco, but that was because my husband needed nicotine gum. I would like to encourage him to slow down on his chewing, but I don't want to be a nag and I prefer his chewing to our smoking. I also had a $20 gift card to BP so that took a chunk off of our expenditure for gas. Best part was that in planning the trip, we only drove about 7 miles which is excellent. Yay for strategic spending. There will be no midweek shopping trips as everything we need is in our kitchen. Life is good.

So I started my meal plan today. We'll see how it goes. I had oatmeal, raspberries and a glass of milk. I feel pretty full, which was my initial worry--will the plan be enough food for me. It is hotter than heck here in Chi-town. We bought three fans so we don't have to take down our window air conditioners yet. Do you think using fans is easier on the electric bill? I hope I'm right on that one.


June 4th, 2008 at 01:19 pm

During the past few months, I've apparently gained a bit of weight (more like a truckload). I was reading wisebread.com this afternoon and saw stickK.com where you pledge money if you don't reach your goals. If you do reach your goal, you get your money back. If you don't reach your goal, you can choose where the money should go. I have chosen the anti-charity route for psychological purposes. I NEED to lose weight! Here's the link to my profile. You can check up on me all you'd like (you're all like family now anyway):


Poke me, prod me, but please help me from giving money to the NRA (my apologies if you have a membership).

Job search woes

June 1st, 2008 at 05:41 am

I went to that lovely job fair yesterday. It was one great big cattle call. I had two really bad interactions with two schools when the question arose "So what happened at your last school?" Then I realized I put "June 2008" on my resume instead of "present" as to when that employment ended (which it hasn't ended). It was so embarassing and I realized that the reason I'm leaving is going to be a sticky issue. You can't go to another school and say "that school/principal sucks" and saying "it just isn't home to me" or "I don't like the co-teaching model" just doesn't work. Sigh. Now I'm all anxious and nervous. Some districts have these lovely online applications where you have to give references. I haven't spoken to anyone from my first school in AGES and don't even know if I have a valid phone number for anyone. The principal also retired and I have no idea where she is. Sigh. I'm totally anxious now. The thought of going back to my current school for another year is killing me.

I do have a job interview Monday, though. It's at a school in a really bad neighborhood and it's self-contained LD/ED. I know this means rough times, especially in the school culture in general. I'm scared of making a move to a school and it being a bad situation, then having to stay for awhile...or worse, being asked to leave.


My spirits are in the pooper. I also have to take a half day tomorrow to go to the interview which means less in the next paycheck. What's a girl to do?

Feeling a case of the yuckies

May 30th, 2008 at 02:15 pm

Rough day at work. Earlier today, our principal rather unprofessionally and thoughtlessly made an announcement that hurt many in my department. It is yet another sign of what he thinks about special education in general. The seniors are enjoying all of their wonderful senior activities. It makes me sad that I don't want to come back next year; I would love to graduate my advisory (they are 2009s) and enjoy that wonderful last year with them. Alas, this work environment is toxic and I just don't think I can do that to myself.

I've come to the understanding that regardless of many things, my principal will be allowed to continue his inept and arrogant way of running this school. It's a shame, but I know I'll find a better place to use my teaching talents and will forget about this experience. We will all continue ticking independent of one another.

Have you ever experienced the look someone gives you when they feel that you are beneath them? I get that look quite often at this school and from many of the staff. I don't particularly consider myself homely--in fact, I was regarded as rather pretty in my youth. There is one teacher in particular who gives me this pity stare every time she sees me. It is just absolutely the most awful thing.

On another note, one week until I get paid which shall retire a bit more debt. Three weeks until bonus time which will mean the retiring of our prosper loan. If we get the extra $1000 bonus for 3 points gain on PLAN scores, which I'm hoping we do (but am not holding my breath) I will put a bit into savings and may also splurge on new running shoes. I've had my current ones for three years (no, I'm not in the habit of running--I'm rather out of shape and am in dire need of a good run). Last year I didn't buy new ones because I promised myself that I'd only buy new ones if I started running again. That did not work as motivation, so perhaps it'll work in the reverse.

fed student loans

May 26th, 2008 at 06:01 am

I think I've pieced together enough to understand that I can have $5000 forgive now (because I've taught for five years in title I schools) and I can have the rest forgiven in a year and a half when I finish five years of teaching sped. I can also get a deferment for teaching in a shortage area for up to 36 months, which means I won't have to pay back a thing. Woo Hoo! I'm going to have to make my phone calls and confirm all of it, but it's all good. Yay! Yay! Yay! It's a good day.

Debt update

May 23rd, 2008 at 06:51 am

Today my final payment to HFC will hit and that loan will be closed out. This is very exciting. I decided to take off the federal student loan from my debt total. I've looked into the teacher loan forgiveness program. I qualify to have $5,000 taken off now and in a year and a half the rest will cancel. Psychologically I think it's better to look at the smaller total, you know? It'll feel really good when all of the consumer debt is paid and I just have car/student loan left.

I'm pretty bummed that I've got to save the money that would have gone towards car over the summer, but hey, at least I've gotten realistic. I may not be able to pay off the car until January now. My hopes lie in that a) I'll be making a bit more money in a union school b) they'll have an afterschool program I can do which'll earn a few extra hundred per month to go towards car. I'm going to a job fair next Saturday, so please keep your fingers crossed that something good comes of it.

I get so excited about payday--not to have the money to spend but to have the money to payoff debt. The day when we can put all of that extra money towards saving and when the Veterans' Association of Illinois calls, I'll feel like "sure, I'll give ya lots to help those soldiers!" (They called and I only gave them $15. Makes me feel just awful.)

Happy Memorial Day weekend all! Enjoy some sun, family and fun!

New Kids on the Block

May 16th, 2008 at 06:12 am

The New Kids on the Block are on the today show. I find that hilarious. Twenty years ago I was in love with Joey. How time flies!

I've got a surprise morning off. The freshmen and sophomores are taking an assessment and I ended up not having to proctor. Woo hoo! But I was asked to do detention and I'm going in this afternoon to get that extra money. It's a great feeling to not NEED that money, but to want it to put towards the debt.

I think I've decided to just stick with excel for my budgeting. I adjust and adjust and adjust and plan and plan and plan using it and it just works best. As the pay date gets closer, I'm able to hone in on how I'll allocate money.

The other day I realized that if I decide to take a new teaching position (which I most certainly will), I won't be paid for the month of August and will most likely not be paid until sometime mid September for the first time. Thus, instead of hammering the car debt I'll have to save that money for that time period. We can definitely cut expenses during that time period, however, we'll need a bit as a cushion just in case. That idea of not being paid would have left me in a panic last year. YESSS!!! Financial planning nirvana!

I'm paying off the HFC personal loan next Friday. I can wait to pay rent until the June 6th pay date, which allows me to save a chunk on interest.

Hugs, hope and happiness to all. And happy Friday! Smile

This time last year...

May 13th, 2008 at 04:13 am

I was knee deep in online payday loans dated back to January to get over that Christmas overspending. I had no credit and no prospects of anything good and blew blew blew tax refund and bonus and bye bye money. Took out prosper loans and HFC loans to get out of payday mess, proceeded to make a hot mess of my finances.

One year later, careful planning is on the scene and we survived Christmas GASP without going completely into debt. May make goals early and am seeing more follow through with my plans. What a difference a year makes. All bills are paid and life is good.

Now, if only I would get off my fat, lazy dair-e-aire to go get myself a better, less spastic, environmentally friendly to the self job. I can do it! Yes I can!

National Train Day

May 10th, 2008 at 11:02 am

We went to Union Station this morning for National Train Day (The little man is a serious train enthusiast. He has almost every "L" stop on the red and blue lines memorized) Everything was free! Free! Free! Free! He got a train whistle, tons of train themed coloring books, crayons, a bound travel journal, airplane balloon,t-shirt, national train day poster, chocolate samples, conductors hats. We had free train rides, a free tour of an amtrak train WITH free samples of their food, face painting. Needless to say, it was a fantastic, fun-filled morning--all free...except the bus ride. I did, however, purchase a print of a train signed in person by the artist. I guess this guy paints trains for a living and does these amazing works. The actual painting I liked was going for $450, so I bought the print instead for $27. He signed it "Happy Railroading Joseph." I'm going to frame it and add it to my son's train themed room decor. It was a tad expensive, but a nice memento for my son. It's of the California Zephyr (if anyone's a train enthusiast). You can check out his work at www.trainpaintings.com

Yay for fun, free and beautiful Saturdays!

rage against the machine and inserting expletives

May 9th, 2008 at 03:38 pm

I am so P.O.'d right now. I can barely even know where to begin. I don't think I've mentioned, but I have two stepdaughters, 16 and 13. They come over every Friday. I get off work on Fridays at 1 and usually clean the house during that time. Before I left for work, my husband informed me that his ex had called earlier in the week and informed him that the girls wouldn't be coming this Friday. He said he would text his eldest daughter, then text me. I got no text, assumed they weren't coming and proceeded to lay in bed for four hours while nursing my cold. I get a phone call at 5PM from the 16 year old asking whether she should come straight to our house or meet her dad at her mom's house. WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First of all, why is a 16 year old calling at 5PM when she gets out of school at 2:45????? With no one knowing her whereabouts? Hell-freakin-o! We live in Chicago, in the middle of some record breaking violent period. You can't just run rampant and decide when YOU want to come home or call!

OK, not to mention the fact that this last minute BS really ticks me off. I am so tired of the inconsiderate way that those girls and their mother just drop events on us as if we have nothing better to do than cater to their every whim.

My husband just does whatever, but it really incenses me. I didn't sign up for this!

It runs a lot deeper than this. I am a very strong, "you eat what I put in front of you or you don't eat at all" mom. The 13 year old has been allowed for years to pick and choose what she wants to eat. In fact, she's had brown sugar, that's right, brown sugar, added to just about every veggie to get her to eat it. Last week, I made spaghetti squash with butter and cheese in addition to broccoli and barbecued chicken. She refused to eat the spaghetti squash, but wanted to go ahead and eat her treat. I told her (as I was arguing with my four year old about eating HIS spaghetti squash) that if she wanted to eat her treat, she had to eat the squash. I said, "I can't have this battle with your brother if I don't follow through with you too." She went to speak to her father about it. He was ticked at me, but held ground that evening. The next day, I drive her to choir, of course, and she calls to ask if she can hang out with a friend. Fine with me. She calls her sister and tells her to grab the treat I had deprived her of the previous day and put it in her bag. I told her sister to tell her it'd be here for her next week. My husband said, "Give my daughter her treat." WTF?!?!?! I'm good enough to clean this house, deal with last minute plans, drop everything for them, but I mean Jack squat, right?

So I'm already nursing my anger from last week and this happens. I am so PPPPPPPPOOOOOOOO'd. I can't handle it!!!!!!!! And I have a cold!!!! So I can't just say, "That's it! I'm going to my parents house!" With their cancer treatments and my father's already infected surgical openings, they'd be sure to get sicker than me. GRRRRRRR......

Thanks for listening. I just wish I could've thrown some expletives in there.

Getting Wiser?

May 9th, 2008 at 04:15 am

I got PAID today! Got our regular checks, stimulus and the extra money for the "didn't do my homework" club. I paid all the usual suspects, but also wrote out a check for $945 to HFC to start working on that nasty personal loan at 30%. I figured it out and I am going to save a LOT of money in interest by paying it off before anything else. Thanks, Suze Orman!

I also paid off the balance of our Chase credit card, which is being used to pay bills, groceries and gas. It racks up points, so I just make sure to pay it off in full every month. It's good practice for me in using credit wisely and it'll keep my honest about purchases. It's a lot easier to see how much you're spending when it's a building balance rather than depleting ones checking account. We had to buy new tires for the car last month, so that made that bill larger.

Ahhh, well. Life is good!

It's like groundhog's day!

May 7th, 2008 at 03:05 am

We think the election MIGHT be over, but then the groundhog sees his shadow and we've got six more weeks of pandering, whining and false promises....yeesh...

As promised...

May 6th, 2008 at 04:52 pm

Here is a picture of our mother's day gift extravaganza. Wouldn't you love to get one of these bad boys?

auto loan

May 4th, 2008 at 06:17 am

Just checked my autoloan balance and am very excited to say that I'm almost at the $10,000 mark. We took out a loan for $21,000, so with interest, was going to pan out to be $25,000. This is very exciting. By the time we're ready to start hammering it, the balance should be under $10,000 and we should have it paid off by November!!! And that's without me teaching summer school!!! (OMG...really yummy looking tacos on channel 5 right now.)

I find myself getting really excited about payday--not because we lack money (which is how it used to be), but because I get really excited about paying off the debt and seeing those numbers go down. I had a few setbacks there with over ordering flowers, etc., but the good news is that my budgeting saved us from financial ruin and we got through that period just fine.

What I need to do is start reading up on investing. I asked for advice on the forums and sounded like a total a$$. I am very unknowledgeable about it all and the best defense is to read, read, read. Any suggestions on good literature to learn about investing? I'm all ears Smile

Happy Sunday, all. OH! and mother's day gifts: I went to Joanne Fabrics yesterday and let the little man pick out a craft to make for his three Nanas. He decided to paint birdhouses. It comes out to about $7 per birdhouse and I'm sure will be much more appreciated than anything expensive. I will post pictures once the creations are finished, but we're kind of painting them in stages (in otherwords, the little one finishes up, but then decides he'd like to add more). It's all good; alls fun in the name of creativity!

windfall and stimulus

May 3rd, 2008 at 05:55 am

I am so very excited. Our principal let us know during our team meeting that we will be getting an extra $1000 in our next check for doing the after school "you didn't do your homework" thing we've done all year. This puts me on track to do a LOT, especially if the government pulls through and I get my stimulus next Friday (by the way, I'll have y'all know that I was totally disappointed--what was the point of sending that money out early if we're all not going to get our money early? whatever...)

My goal of paying off the personal loans and consumer credit crap will be met at the end of June. I will then start hitting that car. My student loans are coming due in July, so I'll make the minimum payments on those. I've chosen the car because it really bugs me that I took out a five year loan. She already has almost 50,000 miles on her and I want to own her flat out NOW! Still pondering summer school, which would put us at paying off the car early.

I hope that if we can pay it off before January that we'll have a nice relaxing Christmas by taking a tiny break from the debt snowball to pay for everything in cash--without going into over withdrawn mode in the checking account like we usually do every year (I've been so bad. I see the error of my ways).

So next week, I'm paying off the remaining balance on our car insurance and renter's insurance which will put us insurance payment free until August, at which time I'll be able to buy the policy in full (yay!) instead of paying in installments for the first time EVER.

I decided to try and get a Chase credit card with rewards so I can start learning how to use it to pay bills and pay it in full every month so we can utilize the rewards. I was pleased when we got a $3,200 credit limit, which is a surprise as my credit has been quite poor for years now. We're charging and paying it off in full. It feels great. Plus, for every so many thousand you spend, you have the opportunity for cash back. My plan is to get a couple hundred back by the end of the year using it for routine bills, etc. It's also allowed me to set up automatic billing for many of our bills. I still keep track of how much we've budgeted for gas and food when we're shopping and I have to use the debit card at Costco still.

No blogging in awhile, but I've been in a total funk. It's all good. The weather is getting better and I'm getting back on track Smile I hope you all are enjoying a beautiful Saturday.

on the home front

April 21st, 2008 at 04:33 am

I had a weekend full of normalcy. It was truly great. Saturday morning I took the litle man to his soccer class. He had a great time and was very competitive. The last soccer class I got him into he was a tad lackluster and disinterested. I give it to maturity. I'm thinking about what classes I'd like to get him into this summer. I want him to be active!

Kohls was having a sale and I told my husband I planned on buying new sheets for the beds as we haven't bought new sheets...EVER! I've always used sheets given as a gift. I also planned on buying new pillows, but ended up buying a new quilt and blanket too. Upon his confirmation that the quilt and blanket were excessive, I returned them. I am quite happy with what I got. 300 thread count martex sheets for $22.50. My stepdaughters were very excited. It's comfy and good.

Upon my return home, my stepdaughters and I worked on some spring cleaning. The kids at school have ACT and Prairie State testing on Wednesday and Thursday this week, so I think I'll try to come home one of those days and work on cleaning. The other day I'm hoping to get the oil changed on the car and have it checked up--routine maintenance kinds of things.

Next Saturday I have a career fair to attend (barring my school's being there). I can't wait to hand the office of specialized services my resume. I should get a lot of phone calls from that. My special ed certificate is in high demand and I'm hoping to be able to be more choosy about where I end up. Maybe I'll even get some calls about summer school. If I do, then I'll think about teaching this summer. That extra money could really hammer some of this debt.

Friday afternoon I worked on applying to consolidate the private student loans. Only two companies offer fixed interest rates, but I'm wondering if it's better to go variable? My credit is still not good enough to get the lowest rate, so with a variable rate will it eventually go down? Or am I risking too much if interest rates go crazy sky high? I'm not planning on stretching them out the entire twenty years or whatever. I want them paid off, but I'd also like to get the best interest rate possible. In terms of the federal ones, many companies are no longer doing consolidations. I'm going to need some help weighing my options. Fire away with advice! I still have to get all the information regarding the teacher loan forgiveness program. I've taught four years of special ed, but at different schools so I'm not sure how that works. It could erase the federal ones almost completely.

Eight more weeks until summer break. Can I make it?

getting back to base

April 17th, 2008 at 06:11 am

I sent the rental deposit yesterday to the bride via FedEx. She sent a much nicer e-mail thanking me for helping to make her wedding day beautiful. I had felt the original e-mail could have been a response to not getting her deposit back and am glad for my nature of not being confrontational. Alls well that ends well. I will continue to plug along in my business venture, but a tad bit wiser this time.

I have continued to e-mail and phone my birth mother. Things are going well and I've calmed WAY down. I'm just taking it one step at a time, but am very at peace. I feel so blessed that she contacted me! It's like a great gift from God!

My father had surgery yesterday. He is doing very well. I also enjoyed the day with my mother in the waiting room. Life is good!

So I'm back on the bandwagon of organizing stuff. My emotions have stabilized and I'm much more clearheaded and motivated. Maybe I'll skip swimming today and we'll go home so Mommy can clean. Hmmmm....

I'm having trouble posting the pictures (yes, I've tried) because the files are too large, but I'm not computer savvy enough to shrink the file size? I don't have photo editing software either. When I figure the dog-gone thing out, I'll post em. I've also thought about putting up a specific page somewhere so you can see them....now that's the ticket! Maybe you can view them later today! The lightbulb is on!

Lastly, I love you guys. You keep me honest, down to earth and you sure as heck are helping TONS with my finances. Keep on with that great advice!

So I'll talk about it...finally

April 15th, 2008 at 10:01 am

The wedding. Yes, the wedding. It was totally hectic and I was rather nervous. I was so exhausted I couldn't put together my thoughts about it...until now. Got a snippy e-mail from the bride. Sigh. So here goes:

Things I did well: I was on time with everything. I stayed for the wedding, set up and took down things at the church with VERY little time in between (she got married at this church that had like four weddings that day, less than an hour between each), I did a beautiful job on the bouquets, etc. etc.

Things that did not go well: I made this rose sphere (that she wanted) for the flower girl that fell apart (from the oasis foam). That was bad news. Then, she wanted these centerpieces on three foot tall vases. They became rather top-heavy when the centerpiece was put on it. One of the vases broke--I had only ordered twelve and she had twelve tables. Therefore, I had no choice but to put one of the centerpieces in a different vase (this was while I was setting up for the reception). Also, I had trouble with the lilies opening (it's interesting, because the following day, I had an abundance of open lilies--dag nabbit!) so I improvised as best I could (which is what most florists do anyway if something goes wrong--it stipulates that in the contract). I had this fear of the centerpieces toppling over during the dinner. She did not mention this in her e-mail, but she may just be trying to be nice. Who knows.

To me, it was a learning experience, you know? I won't do those three foot tall centerpieces anymore. I can say with honesty that it doesn't work well. And I can also honestly suggest fake flowers for a rose sphere OR an alternative for the flower girl.

My mother has suggested I do flowers for funerals instead. I kinda think that's a good alternative given that brides are unbelievably demanding and people don't really pay attention to the flowers at funerals.

The thing is, the florist for the wedding afterwards just simply dropped the flowers off in the vestibule and went on his or her merry way. I was there, supportive and made sure everyone had their flowers. Sigh. But that doesn't mean a hill of beans, does it. Whateva. I'll get over it after a cigarette and a glass of wine tonight.

I took very few pictures. I'm so upset over the experience that I don't even know if I want to post them. Again, I'll chalk it up to learning. Sorry this is so lengthy.

Between the break-in, the wedding and now the birth mother, I have been rather emotionally overwhelmed and have fallen off my wagon of getting myself together--financially, physically, mentally. It's going to take some time for me to get back up and running again. I think I may get that prescription for the antidepressant filled Smile I need a little help right now.

pretty unbelievable

April 14th, 2008 at 04:29 am

I now have this amazing sense of peace about my entire life. It is so fulfilling. She has had a beautiful life and I'm really happy for her. I never wanted anything less. She was 15 when she had me, so I always knew it was not a good situation and that was fine with me. She has loved me all my life although separated and I immediately felt all of the unconditional love of a mother from her.

One thing I absolutely have to check up on is there is a hereditary disease she's been suffering from. Graves disease and multiple endocrine neoplasia (both dealing with the glands). I'm going to get checked as soon as I can. It's weird, but a co-worker is always telling me to have my thyroid checked and I never go and do it. Apparently she's right on the money with that one!

In financial news, I have been transfering money from checking to savings after using coupons and preferred store savings. I look at the total at the bottom of the receipt of savings and then do the transfer. So far, including the automatic $25 transfered monthly, I have $68.34. Total savings tracked thus far is $42.84. Woo hoo! I love having various savings accounts. It's like I can have separate purposes for each of them. Once the emergency fund is at $1000, I will lessen the monthly amount put into it. I still want it to grow, but I want to be able to put as much towards debt as possible. I can't wait for the stimulus package. It's going to put quite a significant dent in that debt.

Flowers, yes. I must post pictures Smile Sorry, I'm just emerging from my catatonia. I've been totally zoned out for three weeks now. My father is having surgery Wednesday, so I'm sure the lack of normalcy in my life will continue.

NOT about anything financial

April 12th, 2008 at 07:44 am

I haven't really slept well. She e-mailed pictures yesterday and it is eerie--we are carbon copies of eachother. I'm going to see her today. This whole thing is just mind-boggling, phenomenal. I can't think about anything else and I surely can't focus. I can't think about the budget or paying bills. I can't get up the energy to clean the house. I feel like I'm going crazy. I can't tell my "adoptive" mother about this; it would kill her. I spoke to my sister this morning and I was so detached. It was totally weird. It was like I was faking the conversation. How do I live in two different worlds like this right now? DH is so supportive. I am really blessed. I need to breath. It turns out that she (birth mom) has a very rare, extremely hereditary disease that is passed down through female generations. Shock after shock after shock after shock....

state of shock

April 10th, 2008 at 07:36 pm

All went well with wedding. I do have tales to tell, however, have not felt like writing while trying to get back to normalcy.

I do want to share the crazy thing that happened to me tonight: out of the blue, my birth mother contacted me. I'm in a state of complete shock. It is so exciting. I can't believe there are people out there that look like me! More to follow...too shocked to share more.

welcome to hell

April 4th, 2008 at 03:53 am

I think it's partially just nerves, but I'm really anxious about getting everything done. This is the last time you'll hear from me until Sunday I'm sure. I've got 6 centerpiece kinda done (gotta add the silver flyaway thingies and flameless tea candles, but so far so good). I've got to go to work, but the good news is that we get out at 1 on Fridays. So I'm trying to count hours. The hardest part are these centerpieces, which is why I'm doing them first. Bouts, corsages, bouquets are "la la la la" easy and fun. If I don't make it through this alive, BA, will you take over the biz? Laughing....sweet Jesus...

Haven't felt like writing

April 2nd, 2008 at 11:26 am

So I've been stressed and too anxious to write here lately. Floral job kinda sent me in a panic (after I came down from last week's craziness). Monday I had a heart attack when I learned that our local wholesaler HAD placed my order and my account was all set up. I was like "aaaahhhhh." I'll have over 1000 roses in my apartment as of tomorrow. It's ok. It gives me a bit of breathing room in case anything goes wrong AND I spoke with our senior council chair who is going to have a spring flower sale Tuesday. I may get that money back after all.

Wish me luck. I'll be up all night processing roses (stripping thorns, cutting, putting in water). Tomorrow I'll be working on corsages and boutonnieres, pieces for the church. Friday and Saturday are going to be hell. I may not get any sleep.

I thought I was coming down with something yesterday, so I decided to drink this Total Living stuff that my MIL bought for my husband. He's been raving that it's helping his eczema. It tastes AWFUL. I gagged and almost didn't finish it. However, low and behold, I feel better. Sigh. I'm going to drink more when I get home. The directions say you can add a small piece of fruit. How small is small do you think? An entire cateloupe? Laughing...yes, it really tastes bad. Sigh, what we do for health purposes.

Yesterday I bought four frozen pizzas (buy one get one free), two containers of pasta sauce (buy one get one free), box of pasta, four cans of progresso (or is it progressive?) soup, breadsticks, crackers and it all came to $30. I was thoroughly disappointed. $2.69 for a can of soup? Absolutely absurd...But, I won't have to cook anything complicated this week. I can't and I didn't want to resort to eating out lots of nastiness and spending money.

I can't wait until it's Sunday Smile

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