Monday, August 31, 2009

New Month - New Lease on Life?

September 1st starts in a few short hours. I love the first of the month because it feels like I can start fresh. Fresh with my no gluten/no dairy/no peanut/no soy/no pineapple/no asparagus/no cranberry/no garlic/probably forgetting a few more "no's" diet. And September 1st starts the money blog. Again, I'm so thrilled about that. There's so many financial things I want to talk about and learn more about.

I guess the first of the month feels like confession. Come on, I'm Catholic. Gotta have church analogies. I'm starting with a clean slate. Let's hope I can make it past noon without falling off the wagon!

September is a great month in particular because it's the start of autumn. It seems like everyone I know likes fall the best. I'm in good company on this. The smell of pumpkin pie, the bite in the air, candy corn (ha ha, no gluten, me can eat!), Halloween, more darkness........ oh how I love autumn, let me count the ways.

AND... September 1st is the 2 year anniversary of when we started to try for a baby! And since Julia is 15 months in a few days, you do the math! :)

1 day to go

I'm so excited for the money blog to start. Do you know how long it's been since I've been to CNN Money? I used to be truly addicted to that website as well as the MSN Money message boards. Having a kid does change your priorities, and now I direct all my energy into Julia's eating. Not so healthy. So I'm starting this in an effort to redirect my energy to what I used to love doing.

What are my goals? To get back into this money stuff. I have a Master's degree in it, and I feel like I've lost a lot of knowledge.

I don't make much money. Neither does hubby. Together we make a decent amount. We try to live simply, enjoy simple pleasures (like cable TV and eating out once in a while), and save as much as possible for the future. Someday we'd like to own a house on the water. Someday we'll likely be contributing to take care of S's parents. Someday we'd like to pay for Julia's college education. Someday we'd like to take a trip to Europe ALONE. Someday we'd like to retire because we're ready. Money is the currency we need to get to those goals.

What I'm NOT: I'm not an expert. I'm not one of those people who's going to make her own clothes to save $10. I'm also not going to do much thrift store shopping. I'm not going to live on saltines and tuna fish. I'm not going to solely use public transportation. I'm not going to grow my own food.

I admire people who can do the above to save money. Particularly the public transportation one.

What I am: Average person who'd like to save more money so that she can have more money for the future (compound interest, anyone?). I struggle just like everyone else and sometimes have a hard time delineating between wants and needs.

Living on less has so many benefits. You have more breathing room in the budget, which alleviates stress. You save more. And you get used to spending less in future years, which means you need to accumulate less before you retire.

I'm going to use this blog to discuss my personal and joint spending (hubby can do whatever he wants with his personal account). As well as whine about weight loss and what my child doesn't eat. I'm just going to try to have more money entries.

Come along for the ride!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Friend Makin' Monday: 20 Questions

Check out Amber's blog and participate in Friend Makin' Monday!

1. Do you cook every night?
Nope! My version of cooking is dumping cans into pots and heating the pot. :)

2. What kind of laundry detergent do you use & why?
Most of the name brand detergents smell so heavy, and I'm allergic to all the perfumes. So I tend to stick with lower grade brands and add Oxyclean.

3. Do you do laundry every day or loads at a time?
Usually Friday night, Sunday night, and one night during the week. Probably 5 loads a week is our average.

4. How often do you eat out per week?
It varies. S and I might meet for lunch, we may pick up a pizza. Probably 1.5 is our average.

5. Where do you usually eat out?
Pizza Hut, Applebee's, Stanley's

6. What is your favorite retail store?
Target (except the stupid online Target that takes 3 years to ship out anything) and grocery stores

7. What's your favorite thing to drink?
Water, OJ, milkshake

8. Do you take vitamins? What kind?
Vitamin D - 2000 iu
Fish oil
Should be taking multivitamin, but gosh my body hates iron.

9. What percentage of the household chores to you do?
I dunno. We split the dishes, I do the laundry, we both pick up stuff.

10. Do your children do chores? {Or will they, did they, etc}
I so wish! Couldn't she mow the lawn or something???

11. Do you go to church?

12. Do you have a housework schedule?

13. Do you keep a working budget?
In my head

14. What do you do at night as a family?
Dinner (as much as we can with a 1 year old), playtime

15. How do you prepare yourself for a new week?
I like to start out the week with clean clothes, but that's about as organized as I get.

16. What do your mornings look like?
Make bottles & sippy cup for daycare, take shower, get Julia ready, try to get her to eat her first breakfast, take her to daycare, go to work.

17. What time do you get up in the mornings?
6:16am or earlier

18. What time do you go to bed at night?
Not very predictable. If I take a nap (i.e., the weekends), I go to bed late (12-1am). On a normal night, probably by 10pm.

19. How do you manage all of the paperwork that floods into your household? {bills, school work, magazines, ads, etc}
I'm very much a proponent of staying on top of it and paying things right away and tossing as much as possible. I put things that need to be filed into a pile to file later.

20. How do you keep your household organized? {calendars, charts, etc}
Oh dear, my calendar is in my head, and I don't have any charts. I suppose if S was motivated by stickers and Julia was old enough to understand the concept, we might have one. As much as people think I'm Type A, I actually have some very Type B parts to me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Question of the day

If money were no object, how would you live your life? What would you do all day? What parts of your life would change? What would you do differently?

In this situation, money would give you such a sense of security that you could do whatever you wanted. That would be quite a feeling. I'd love to go back to school. There's nothing like holding a college catalog (can you hold them anymore or are they all online now?) and reading abbreviated syllabi of all the courses the college offers. I'd love to go to school all day. And eat in the dining hall. Oh, how I love dining hall food! All you can eat carbs that you don't have to make. Heaven, absolute heaven.

I'd like to think I wouldn't change my life very much, but I know I would. New fancy house, buy a completely impractical sports car, get a housekeeper, get a gardener for the fancy new house, get a chef if I can't get that college dining hall plan. Give S's parents a paid for house. Take a trip to Scotland. Probably only work part-time.

The charity I'd develop would give college scholarships to deserving kids. And I'd also like to start a non-profit that educates kids and teenagers about the importance of financial awareness. I think a lot of people start the debt spiral so early and accept it as something that is inevitable when in actuality it isn't.

Oh, and I'd get season passes to several different theaters in the area. I love to go see plays! And then go out for a fancy, butter-laden dinner! In my perfect, money-full world, I could eat dairy and gluten.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Icky Week

Long time no blog.  It's been a cruddy week for all of us.  Sick, lots of doctor appointments to go around, lots of mucus, lots of coughing/wheezing, need I say more?  Julia's ickies are starting to really interfere with her liquid intake, which doubly sucks.
When you're having a cruddy week, the smallest things that go wrong start to push you over the edge.  At least that's how it goes with me.  Some days a padded room really does sound blissful.  I could sleep, no one is screaming in my ear for any number of reasons, and my food would get delivered.  I can handle that.  If I got my own padded room, I wouldn't have to associate with any of the other nutjobs.  The next book I am reading is about a person who infiltrated several mental health facilities and the person's observations.  Maybe I should sign up for that job.  Sounds interesting.
Here is what Julia ate in the way of solids on Wednesday.  I told Leigh Ann I'd write it down after I saw Waylon's big ol' plate of food that he usually scarfs down.  Now I really think Julia doesn't eat a lot.  Maybe she does, and I'm just delusional.
Breakfast: 2 little pieces of hot dog
Snack: Biscuit with jam - refused
Daycare tried an hour later with snack (bless them!): 1/2 hotdog (75 cal)
Lunch: tablespoon mixed fruit (25 cal), tablespoon mixed veggies (15 cal), 2 ounces of mac & cheese (60 cal) 
Snack at doctor's: 3 Teddy grahams & 2 goldfish (20 cal)
Dinner: 1/2 fruit bar (70 cal), few bites of pizza (30 cal?)
Second dinner:  1 grape, 1 oz Gerber meal (1/6 of a container, 25 cal)
Actually, this was an AWESOME solids day for her!  She got to about 300 calories.  She ate 13 oz of formula (400 cal) and 4 oz of her vitamin juice + half & half (80 cal).  So for the day she might have taken in about 800 calories total. 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Night Ickies

Last Sunday night Julia was whining/crying/restless all night. Her only "good" stretch of sleep was between 2am-4am. Needless to say, it wasn't a great start to the week for any of us. When you're in a deficit sleep mode at the beginning of the week, it seems like you're starting the work week screwed.

This Sunday night Julia's had 2 puking episodes in the past hour. Ugh! Not only do I not handle puke well, but we worry a little extra because she's so little. I worry she's going to get dehydrated more easily. And I worry what the cause is. She doesn't feel particularly warm. Did something not sit well in her tummy? She hasn't really eaten anything unusual. Ugh, I can tell that this night won't be going well. Another icky Sunday night to set us all up poorly for the week ahead.

How do people with lots of kids do it? It seems like Julia is puking every month to six weeks. If you had multiple kids, it would seem you'd be nursing pukey kids quite frequently, assuming Julia's toddler puke frequency is in the "normal" range. That doesn't include fevers, teething, general disgruntledness, and all the other reasons a kid would be up during the night.

My husband is a saint to be the Official Puke Cleaner Upper.

Speaking of digestive systems, Julia ate raisins at 8am, and she pooped whole raisins at 2pm. I thought that was kind of an impressive feat for her digestive system.

Let the digestive system talk be done, and let's hope her system gets back on track. And quickly. Neither of us want to stay home with a pukey kid tomorrow.

Farewell, Ali!

For over a year, Alimentum (a baby formula made by Similac that is very pricey, very smelly, and very staining) has been the main source of nutrition for Julia. It's special because it has broken down milk proteins for babies with an intolerance to milk. She screamed while feeding - every method and option of feeding - for most of the duration of her life, but with Alimentum she screamed "a little bit less." Therefore, we stuck with it.

I bought my last supply (off eBay, where the stuff is a little bit cheaper) back in March. I had intended that to get her to her first birthday in June. Since she doesn't eat a lot & we started transitioning her to Gentlease successfully (YES!), it's only now that we're almost out of Alimentum. Once she was on 100% Gentlease without symptoms back in early July, we started adding a bit of Alimentum back in to start getting rid of it. Now our bottle concoction is a bit confusing. In fact, if someone other than us makes the bottles, they get a special bottle "recipe." It goes something like this: 2 oz apple juice, 4.5 oz water, 1-2 scoops Alimentum, 3-4 scoops Gentlease (don't use the same scoop!) to total 5 scoops of formula total, 1 scoop Duocal, 3/4 packet Simply Thick, stir with fork til mixed, then shake. The reason it's 1-2 scoops Alimentum is that I vary it slightly to try to make sure Julia doesn't get used to it one way because it could be hard to wean her off it when the Alimentum is gone. Then she'll be used to slight formula variations, at least that's how I justify it in my head.

I must say that I always screw up the bottle at the same part. I added my scoops of Alimentum (1....2....), and then I am not consistent about how I start counting the Gentlease. Sometimes I start with 3, sometimes I start with 1. And then I always get confused about how many scoops are in the bottle and how many more I need to add. At 2am or when tired, the scoop counting gets even more challenging. I know I've screwed it up quite a few times, and I tend to err on the side of more formula scoops than less.

As I'm hitting the bottom of the tin of Alimentum, I'm a bit sad about saying goodbye to it. Of course, making bottles will be a lot easier since I won't have to go through that daunting task of recounting :) . And after a few weeks on 100% Gentlease, we can start experimenting with adding whole milk to her bottles an ounce at a time. The end of the Alimentum era means that we're making another step toward toddlerhood.

Disclosures before I get lectured: Yes, I breastfed for several weeks. I was planning on a year, but it didn't work out. Yes, I know "breast is best" and all that. At the time I switched, I was told that formula would be better for her given all her latching, tongue, reflux, and intolerance issues. Yes, I know you can start giving kids whole milk when they turn 1. With her milk protein intolerance and being underweight, every doctor and therapist she's seen said to keep her on formula at least til she's 15 months (Sept. 4th).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Online Abandonment

Dear Target Online Head Marketing Dude,

I ordered crap on August 7th. You have still not sent me the crap I ordered. Have you heard of online abandonment of virtual shopping carts? Oh, so you think you got me because I already paid. Ha ha, sucker, you still haven't charged my card because you haven't shipped it yet. Are you ever going to ship it? Are you contracting with slave labor to make the crap I ordered? Is that why it's taking so long? You have 2 days to ship my crap, or I'm cancelling the order. I'm starting a new financial diet September 1, and I will have to report to the ether about my purchases if you don't ship it before then. And you certainly don't want the ether to know what I bought. Okay, it's not THAT bad, but it certainly qualifies as "not necessary." What kind of store operates with such slow shipping? Don't you get a bazillion e-mails from people like me who just want their crap? Oh, and I'm attaching an article on why you should care about online abandonment since you're, like, in charge of these types of things.

----> Ship crap more quickly, or your sales will suffer even more!

NEW YORK -- Penny-pinching Americans are getting cold feet at the checkout -- thinking twice about spending and ditching items before they're rung up.

They're leaving sweaters in the dress department, dumping cookies near the grocery cashier and waiting until the last minute to weigh wants versus needs. Online, shoppers are abandoning their virtual carts as they search for better deals.

People "want to be in the act of shopping, but they don't want to be in the act of buying," said Joel Bines, a director at AlixPartners, a turnaround consultant.

It means more lost sales for stores at a time when there are already fewer customers because of the recession. For bricks-and-mortar shops already working with fewer staff, it also means more work because orphaned items have to be restocked.

Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but Burt P. Flickinger III, a retail consultant, estimates that in 25 percent of shoppers' trips to the store, they're ditching at least one item. In the recession of the early 1990s, it was 15 to 20 percent. In good times, it's more like 10 percent.

Ashley Nichols Guttuso of Midlothian, Va., dumped a red cardigan last week at the counter at the local Limited store after she found out she couldn't use a $15 store coupon on the $15 sweater.

Guttuso says she could have afforded it, but she has focused on necessities since losing her job as a copywriter for Circuit City in January, as the chain was preparing to go out of business.

"I went in there thinking I could get something for free," said the 27-year-old. "I couldn't rationalize it -- even spending $15 to $20. I am watching everything now."

Besides abandoning goods while standing in line, they're paying close attention once checkout begins. They ask cashiers to provide a total while they're still scanning items to see where they stand, or to have necessities like health care basics scanned first, said Dan Fishback, chief executive of DemandTec Inc., a retail technology company. When they hit their limit, they forgo what's left in the basket.

Lower credit limits are also contributing to the abandonment. Shoppers say credit card transactions are being denied if they go over their limit just a bit, said Ben Woosley, director of marketing and consumer research at In the past, issuers would often approve purchases up to 10 percent over the limit.

Web stores are taking a variety of steps to get consumers to complete purchases. They include sending e-mails to remind customers about abandoned items, simplifying the online checkout process and offering extra discounts to lasso would-be quitters.

Web retailers have always grappled with high abandonment rates because of confusion and technology glitches. Plus shoppers are less invested in the process because they didn't have to drive anywhere. But even online stores say orphaning has escalated.

Internet research company Forrester Research estimates as much as 59 percent of online purchases are being dumped during checkout. Those rates had ranged from 47 percent to 53 percent in the past six years, according to industry surveys.

The Container Store, which sells storage items, has seen its online abandonment rate rise to 68 percent. The company has launched an e-mail campaign to remind shoppers of their abandoned purchases and a service that lets shoppers pick up online purchases at the store to avoid shipping costs.

And has cut its abandonment rate to 49 percent from 56 percent by reducing the steps in the checkout process and sending out e-mail reminders, online marketing manager Shea Beck said.

Online shoppers are scrutinizing extra charges that wouldn't have slowed them down in a better economy, right up to clicking the "place order" button.

Eric Younan, 35, of Farmington Hills, Mich., who said he had never quit during the checkout process, has abandoned online shopping carts four times in recent weeks because he discovered extra charges late in the game.

"Two years ago, a $10 handling charge wouldn't have fazed me, but now I would just drop it," said Younan, a publicist. "Back then, I had more disposable income, and my time was worth money."

(This version CORRECTS the spelling of Guttuso's last name in one instance.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Starting Fresh

Every day I start the day thinking that it's a new day, and I will abide by my no gluten, no dairy, no pineapple, no cranberry, no banana, no garlic, no asparagus, no egg diet. Plus, I start the day with the best of intentions to stay within my Weight Watchers points. And I proceed to fail. Usually by 11am I have fallen on my tuckus, succumbing to dairy, gluten and already exceeding my points for the day.

I want to succeed. I eat one bad thing, which sets off the first domino in a cascading trail. I seriously need to be in sequestered fat camp with portioned meals until I get over the withdrawal effects to anything tasty.

Today I was craving beef tacos at Taco Time. I pictured them, corn shell with beef, lettuce, cheese, and that token piece of tomato on top. They are pure heaven. I ordered 3 of them although I know I could eat about 8 of them. Those are 15 points right there for lunch, and then I had breakfast, a bazillion snacks, two dinners, and four desserts. Yes, 4 desserts! Costco-sized chocolate muffin, 2 packs of gushers, bag of movie theater popcorn, and two glasses of chocolate milk. I need help. That's practically 2,000 calories for dessert. Ugh, I'm hanging my head in shame.

See? It's no wonder I can't lose weight & keep having my health ailments.

Tomorrow morning is weigh-in, and then hopefully I can really start fresh. I know it's highly improbable for me to stay away from all those foods I can't eat. It turns out (for some very odd reason) that I have an easier time staying away from gluten than from dairy. That's good because I have a stronger reaction to gluten than to dairy anyway. So if I can be relatively hard core about staying away from gluten, minimizing my dairy intake, and perhaps stay somewhat within the vicinity of my WW point allocation, I'll be doing great.

So tomorrow morning I'm starting fresh with a firm goal. Let's take this one day at a time, isn't that what Overeaters Anonymous would preach?

Annoying Husbands

I ♥ this blog:

It's all in good fun. It even seems like her husband is stoked that he's the sole recipient of her blog posts. He probably even does stuff purposely now just to see if it makes it into the blog.

I couldn't do a whole blog on my annoying husband. The number one reason is that I'm far more annoying than him. And number two, after 9+ years of marriage, my list of his annoying traits is rather short.

1) His very loud jaw while chewing. If he's eating anything that requires a lot of chewing, there must be background noise or it's like nails on a chalkboard. He doesn't know this, but my mother's slurping of wet food is far worse on my ears than his chewing. When my mom slurps her soup very, very loudly, I want to scream, "Don't you know how rude that is! You're not in Japan, for God's sake!" Yes, I get overly annoyed by chewing/slurping. Mouth food noises are highly irritating to me.

2) His incessant rambling. He really is a talkative guy occasionally. He's the talkative one; I'm the quiet one. And I'm sure he gets bored because I don't talk much, so he tries to get me to talk...usually with inane conversation. Then I don't take the bait, and he ups the ante with bad jokes. Rolling my eyes and sighing don't shut him up, so he goes back to rambling. After 9 years, he realizes he's doing this, so he usually says, "I'll shut up now." Sometimes (okay, most of the time) I just like peace and quiet. And incessant rambling isn't so charming to hear.

3) He clears his throat quite frequently. I shouldn't say much about this area since I have been coughing for 3 weeks straight. When the throat clearing gets annoying, I usually start imitating him, and then he gets the hint.

And that's all, folks. By far, my husband is one of the least annoying people around. 3 small annoying habits. I have at least 10 huge annoying habits and 22 small annoying habits.

May I add one more that just came to mind? 4) Beavis and Butthead impressions. Not too frequently, but occasionally he'll do them. Far less than any other guy I know.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gotta love neighbors

I took over the baby shower present for the neighbor's daughter-in-law this evening. She kept gushing about how I wasn't supposed to get anything for her. Hmmm...then why did you give me an invitation with where she's registered? (It was a pretty invitation.) S actually has tae kwon do testing during the baby shower, and I told her that. Then she said that she wanted me to bring Julia to the shower. And I think, "Come to a baby shower for someone who I've never met with my spastic daughter?" The neighbor got to see Julia this evening, so all was good. She had someone paint her living room. She said he's a wonderful painter. She highly recommends him. Then she goes on to say that he's Ukrainian and forgot to show up for 3 days, so it took a little longer than expected. Ummm... if the dude didn't show up for 3 days, then I certainly wouldn't recommend him. But that's just anal retentive me.

Side note: this neighbor is the former hippie. I still think she and her husband partake in the lifestyle. No one can be that spacey without the aid of some sort of psychotropic.

Anyway, that task is done.

I keep coughing up green stuff and coughing in general. It's been over 2 weeks. I've been telling S that I probably have whooping cough. He isn't as entertained by the thought as I am. It's likely some sort of respiratory infection. I went through all of my extra antibiotics that have been laying around the house, so I suppose I have to go to the doctor if the cough and green stuff keep occurring.

Today was very lazy. It included a wonderful 3 hour nap. 3 hour naps are utter bliss, long enough to be almost completely recharged. The downside is that I'm wide awake at 11pm.

I'm not much of a fan of Conan O'Brien. I like Leno far more. At least his new show will be on at 10pm, and I'll have a greater likelihood of seeing it.

I wore my Winthrop Eagles t-shirt. Not sure what the Winthrop Eagles are. There is a city (okay, small town) in Washington called Winthrop. Is that what it is referring to? I bought the t-shirt because it was $2 and a nice shade of red. Don't you love my buying criteria? Yeah, I once got confronted by someone in the grocery store for wearing a Michigan sweatshirt. By coincidence it was on game day of UW vs. Michigan. I had no idea, I was cold and I like navy blue. So I got confronted about my love of Michigan and what a traitor I was.

I shall attempt to go to sleep now. Probably won't happen, but staying up til 2am is going to completely throw me off.

My girl crush

I have fallen in love with a lady's blog. It's likely a girl crush of sorts. She makes me laugh, cry, appreciate the whimsy of it all, and various sorts of emotions all in the same post.

Her boyfriend is going through cancer and starting chemotherapy, yet her posts are full of hope and life. And she's smart too. I like smart girls.

Here's her latest post

And her blog site:

Wounds and putzing

Yesterday I was talking on the phone and decided to see if the plums on the plum tree were ripe. Put on my sandals and fell down the stairs. Okay, "stairs" is a bit of an overstatement. Two steps is more accurate. Down I fall, but of course I protected the most important thing: the iPhone. My legs are quite icky looking. Lots of bloody wounds, particularly on the right leg. I am such a klutzy idiot. I cannot talk on the phone and descend "stairs" at the same time.

This morning I decided to send a few things out. I don't know about you, but I dread the whole packaging and USPS process. Being klutzy and an idiot, I feel like I spend two hours doing something that should take 10 minutes. I have to retrieve some stuff, find appropriate boxes/envelopes, pack them up, and address them. Then take them to the post office. Not horribly difficult in theory. Yet I struggle to find the stuff I'm trying to send, comb the garage for appropriately-sized boxes, fight with the packing tape, lose the packing tape argument with the packing tape, try to find an alternate method, haul it all to the post office, have the post office lecture me on my alternate packing tape method, and blah blah blah. Two hours later, I relish that the task is done, but I lament just how long the whole thing took.

I bought Julia her first doll today. Well, she had a plush baby doll. But after this weekend when Julia stole another child's doll, I decided she deserves her own doll. Like the type of doll with a plastic face. Also got her a pop-up toy since she doesn't have any. And then a little doggie that walks and barks. She's fascinated by doggies.

Vent of the Day

I ordered clothes from Target on August 7th. It says the estimated shipping date is August 28 - September 10.

Why oh why oh why?

If you have the clothes in stock (and it says they do), why does it take this long to ship? My theory on the epic ship date is that some of the clothes are in one warehouse, and some are in another. Then they ground ship half the order to the other warehouse before they send it out. That's somewhat plausible.

Every other clothing website seems to ship things much more quickly. I do love Target, but waiting a month for a box of clothes is ridiculous!

I would run my business differently. Speaking of that, I totally wish I had a skill that I could sell, like something creative or something technical. It would fun to start my own business and work on marketing, distribution, operations. I was always so good at that stuff in school, but I don't have any business with which to practice on.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer Fun Is Coming to an End

Tomorrow is my last day off this summer. I find "summer" an interesting season. I never really liked it. Not a fan of heat, even as a young'un, I lamented that summer was a license to frolic outside. Summer is usually associated with no school, but I liked school as a kid. It was a bummer not to go to school every day. Suffice it to say, I've never bonded with the summer season.

I was raised by my mother, and as I stated in a previous blog, I had some questionable babysitters as a kid. In the summer of '86 (so I was 8 years old), I made a deal with my mother that I'd stay home by myself during the summer. She'd save money since she wouldn't have to pay a babysitter, and I wouldn't have to deal with a babysitter. Honestly, it was a pretty groovy deal given the crazy folks she'd leave me with. The downside to this arrangement was that I would be home by myself all day. I love to read (even to this day), so I'd read tons of books and go to the library at least once a week. I had a TI-99 (one of the first video game systems, kind of like an Atari but more "educational"), and I'd play that frequently. So my summers as a kid were spent reading and playing video games. Bor-ing. But it certainly was better than crazy babysitters, so I was fine with it.

The real highlight of every summer was visiting my dad, uncle, and grandparents in Pennsylvania. Two weeks of bliss! I got to be a kid and do fun stuff, like riding bikes and playing board games and playing badminton and playing with my friends and eating a box of popsicles a day and going to the best amusement park ever: Kennywood. Every summer there was at least one huge thunderstorm while I was there, and I would love the thunder, lightning, and sheets of rain. There were some bad parts to each visit: grandma going in and out of the hospital, family fights between my dad and any of the other family members, that kind of stuff. Overall, though, spending two weeks in Pennsylvania every summer was the highlight of the summer every year.

Since three of the four members of my family in Pennsylvania are dead now, there's really no reason to go back in the summer anymore. I have gone back to see my uncle a couple of times, but that doesn't necessarily have to be in the summer.

What shall I do on my last day off for the summer? Deliver my present for the baby shower where I don't know the guest of honor, clean, a few errands. If I could blink and transport myself to Kennywood, I certainly would like to go there. Ride all the rides and get me some french fries at Potato Patch!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hoping for the sleep fairy

Julia slept from 2am - 4am last night. The rest of the time it was a hybrid of whining/crying/being restless. We're pretty sure a molar is coming in since she also has a fever. Please, please, please let her (and us) sleep well tonight. Not only is it cruddy for everyone when we all get poor sleep, it's a horrible way to start out the week.

I just found out Walgreens is having a special today Monday only. If you order 25 photo prints online, use coupon code PENNY to get the whole order for 25 cents (or a penny a print). Fabulous deal! I've been spending the better part of an hour uploading my pictures to take advantage of this deal.

I often leave comments on other people's blogs, but I rarely check back to see if the person commented back. Sorry! I will try and get better about this.

I should hit the hay in case Someone Shall Be Nameless is up in an hour. (I doped her up pretty well before bed, but you never know how long it will last.)

Weird Invitation

I was just invited to my neighbor's daughter-in-law's baby shower. Ummm, I haven't even met the daughter-in-law. Not that I'm really opposed to going to a baby shower, but I haven't even MET her! The neighbor is putting on the shower for her daughter-in-law.

My thought is to get a small gift for this person I've never met and take it over before the shower and not attend. It seems like it's a family baby shower, and since I don't know anyone but my neighbor, I'd feel really out of place.

So what is the protocol for going to baby showers where you don't know the guest of honor or any of the guests but the host?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rules of the Money Blog

The Money Log will start in September. I thought I should set out the guidelines of what will be logged so there's not confusion on my part. And if anyone else wanted to do it as well, it would get them thinking of the rules they want to use.

Rule 1: Every expenditure of money from my personal or the joint account must be logged and itemized, including routine expenditures such as utilities and grocery store purchases.

Rule 2: Even if the purchase is put on a credit card, it must be logged.

Rule 3: Cash transactions are dissuaded since it's easier to "forget" to log.

Rule 4: Expenditures must be logged into the blog at least once a week.

Rule 5: Cost savings, coupons, strategies for minimizing the cost outlay must be considered before the purchase.

I'll add to this list as other considerations come up.

Friday, August 14, 2009

These Daycares of our Lives

To recap past editions of this daycare soap opera, I repeatedly give the toddler teacher instructions on Julia's feeding, complete with a therapist report in writing that backs up the need for bottles still. And the toddler teacher does whatever she wants, including giving Julia water all day and feeding her when I give special instructions that she has a medical procedure that day and can't be fed.

I find another daycare that will take her. I submit my nice resignation letter, and then the daycare director says that the toddler teacher hasn't been sharing any of this information with her.

For the past day, I've been in continuous contact with the daycare director. She now understands our feeding issues. She has gotten in touch with their consulting nurse. She's made a food log. And she has moved the toddler teacher to a different room and moved the 2-year old teacher in with the 1-year olds.

This wasn't my intent - to move the staff all around. My intent was for Julia to be fed by bottle if she can't drink enough by cup. The therapist wants a more comprehensive food log. Some of the time it isn't even noted if she ate any of her snack or lunch on her daily report as it is now.

The 1-year old teacher will be with the 2-year olds, and the 2-year old teacher will be with the 1-year olds starting Monday. All because of this fiasco.

I don't know how the specifics played out. Not sure if the director unilaterally decided, or if the 1-year old teacher was given the option. I'm just bummed I screwed up the work lives of 2 people. I don't want to be The Most Hated Daycare Parent. I want my kid to be fed per the therapist plan. The toddler teacher was struggling with it. Granted, she does have a lot on her plate.

Bad Mother!

I've been reading this book called Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman (don't you like the name Ayelet? I want that name.). It's a humorous look at how "bad" we all feel with our mommy guilt, and it points out that mothers are held to these unrealistic expectations of perfection while men are considered "good" fathers if they just show up. And men are practically nominated for sainthood if they change diapers once in a while.

True, true, and true.

I don't know about all of you, but I've felt like a Bad Mother from when Julia was like, oh, a minute old. I feel guilty about a zillion things, mothering included. Catholic guilt, anyone?

Let's recap the biggest bad mothering sins that I can recall:

- Bad Mother for having an elective C-section, despite doctor threatening that Julia had an 85% of brain damage if I tried it naturally. He thought she'd be 10 pounds (ended up only 8 pounds).

- Screaming, oh the screaming. I knew babies cried, but inconsolable shrieking for hours was new to me. After a day, I was tired of it. After a week, I wanted to jump off a bridge. I know, something was bugging her, and she couldn't help it. Not being able to console the shrieking made me feel horrible. Bad mother.

- Breastfeeding didn't work out. According to lactation, I was starving her. So I pumped and pumped and pumped, and I got 16 oz maximum a day with 9 pumps. They said I was still starving her. Bad Mother for starving her. Change to formula, and I'm a Bad Mother for formula feeding. Can't win.

- At her 6 week check-up, I tell the pediatrician she's extremely fussy and does not eat well. I'm told, "All babies are fussy" and that she's gaining weight. I'm a Bad Mother for not being able to see that she's normal. My problem is that I'm a Bad Mother who doesn't appreciate this miracle.

- I wanted to go back to work soon after having her because I couldn't handle the non-stop screaming. As difficult as work can be, there's no one screaming in my ear for 10 hours straight at work. Bad Mother, I didn't enjoy being a stay-at-home mother.

- Once she's not screaming for 10 hours a day (at 5 months old), she starts getting below the 10th percentile for weight. Then I start getting chastised by the pediatrician about her weight and not feeding her enough. I'm a Bad Mother for not feeding her more, despite already bringing up the fact to him that I've observed she won't eat much.

At that point, changed pediatricians. Couldn't stand that man.

- Lots of doctor visits with specialists then ensue. They ask how long these issues have been going on. I say since she was born. They look at me like why did you wait this long, then? Well, I was told by my stupid pediatrician that I was imagining things. Bad Mother, you need to trust your instincts.


I have a whole buttload of mothering transgressions and guilt. Probably more than my fair share. The author and I shared many of the same frustrations that you always feel like you could have and should have done more. No matter what you do, it's wrong. You can't live up to the impossible expectations of perfection that the fictional June Cleaver has set up for us.

Good read overall. I couldn't stomach the chapter on Rocketship though. I don't think I could have done that.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is it 2009 or 1999?

Who Wants To Be a Millionaire is back on? Really pushing the revival of the prime-time game show. Not that I necessarily mind, but wasn't it canceled for a reason several years ago?

The problem with a "nice" letter...

is that you get this response. What do I do now?

"It is not an issue for us to work with Julia’s needs, all of her accommodations can be met. I was unaware that she was on and IFSP. However I completely understand.

Please know she a part of our family and you will always have a place here if you choose to stay or come back.

We will miss you all so much."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Breaking up is hard to do, part 2

Hello ____,

We will be withdrawing Julia at the end of August. We really appreciate all that you and the staff did for Julia for these past 8 months. We always knew she was well taken care of.

The reason we're withdrawing her is that she has received an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for feeding, and her feeding therapist that she now sees weekly has made several recommendations. 1) Julia remain on bottles for several more months since she isn't as adept as she should be with the cup yet. 2) Itemized food and quantity daily log 3) oral exercises at most meals.

We know __________________ has already been accommodating enough to continue bottles on a temporary basis. Unfortunately, it looks like Julia will be on bottles for the foreseeable future and will need more notetaking and personal attention at meals than can be given. We found a daycare who can accommodate Julia's eating issues on a longer-term basis.

It is with great sadness that we leave ____________. Julia has truly enjoyed her teachers and her playmates. She has grown very attached to the older kids who play with her as well. We aren't looking forward to transitioning her elsewhere but know that getting her eating difficulties (particularly with liquids) straightened out as early as possible will help her in the long run.

We hope to come back to ________________ once she gets over these eating hurdles and is eating like a normal child.

Thank you,

Those testers must be smoking crack

I went to JC Penney today because I got a handy little coupon in the mail. And I had the day off. And I was going to be in the area. All that combined means I had to go to JC Penney. Wish there was one closer though. I got 3 t-shirts for Julia (NOT onesies), a 5-pack of black socks for me, black work pants, and a cute shirt all for $27 after coupon.

I have to buy some jeans for Julia. She seems to be in 18 month now as far as height goes. Her 12 month jeans are looking like capris or maybe even bermuda shorts. The problem with 18 month jeans is they are made for an 18 month old belly, not Julia's. So then I may have to use a belt. Can you even buy belts for toddlers? There is a belt with her khakis, maybe I can use that one. I do like her in jeans because they hide the dirt and food stains better than pink pants.

Also need to get her some sort of riding toy. She's obsessed with the ones at daycare. Maybe there will be a yard sale around here. Like a little car she can be like Fred Flintstone on.

I did not get to cleaning out my closet today. It's a big ol nasty project that I'm avoiding. Also off tomorrow. That's my big project of the day.

Not sure I like my new camera all that much. Maybe I'm becoming a camera snob. Just read a Consumer Reports that rated my new camera as excellent. It also says that it takes 450 shots before recharging the battery. I've taken about that many shots with it, but I've changed batteries about 10 times. Those camera testers are smoking crack, I tell ya. They must NEVER use the flash, stick to standard mode, and - heck - even then I probably would have changed the batteries 7-8 times!

Paper Waster

Merrill Lynch is such a paper waster. My lovely husband has $7 (yes, $7) in a retirement account through Merrill Lynch. He had thought he rolled over the whole balance years ago, but somehow a few months ago $7 appeared in the account that he thought was closed. Maybe it had to do with the buyout of Merrill Lynch and ML stock? Oh, who knows.

Anyway, he has $7 in this stupid account. And he proceeds to get 26 page statements from Merrill Lynch. 26 stupid pages to tell you that you have $7. Sheer brilliance.

I love, love, love, love, love, love my 401(k) statements. They are 1 page (front and back). So easy, color coded. Merrill Lynch? 26 pages and you can't even figure out how you got $7 magically appearing in your account.

Yes, I'm going through years of paperwork/filing right now. And ML ticks me off so much that I have to rant about them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jinxing Myself, Onesies & Ringtones

I mentioned something to my lovely husband a few days ago, and he said it would make a great blog entry.  I honestly don't think it will, but I'll give it a try anyway.


I am really hoping several things around our house will break.  Why?  Because then I have a reason to get new ones.  I'm way too practical to just buy something new for the heck of it.  So instead I'm hexing what I've got.


Here's my far-from-complete list of what I'm waiting on to break.  I just KNOW I'm jinxing myself, and all of this stuff will break at the same exact time. 


Refrigerator:  This goes waaaaay back.  My lovely husband was in charge of measuring how wide the fridge space was when we bought the house.  He told me a measurement.  At the time we had wanted a side-by-side fridge, so I had to find a side-by-side that fit.  It turns out Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless mis-measured, and we ended up with this extremely narrow side-by-side in this huge space.  While I never cease to forget to remind S of the mismeasurement, my main beef with the fridge is that I really don't like side-by-sides.  The fridge is narrow, the freezer is narrow.  Whenever either is open, Julia's poking her little head in to look at the food she won't eat.  You can't fit a pizza into the fridge OR the freezer.  It's just stupid.  The ice maker is also crappy.  Now I want a french door fridge with the freezer on the bottom.  Seems much more practical since you can actually fit things more than 12 inches wide into either the fridge or the freezer. 


Furnace:  I want A/C in the house.  It's reasonably cheap to add A/C if you're already replacing the furnace anyway. 


Washer & dryer:  I want the front loading kind.  Seems like you can wash more in one load.  And who doesn't want to see my torn undies going through the spin cycle??  Now that's a sight for sore eyes!


Bed:  Can the bed just fall apart one day?  I want a king size bed.


I want, I want, I want.  Sheesh.  And I was going to do a money saving blog.  How in the heck is that going to happen when I'm in the mood to spend on all these big ticket items?  Needless consumerism.  I chastise myself at the exact time I lust after a new fridge, bed, furnace and washer & dryer.



Onesies have their place.  Summer, namely.  It is socially acceptable to put a baby in a onesie on a hot day.  Or if the baby is a newborn.  Newborns just belong in onesies.


Now that Julia is older and hot days are hopefully coming to an end, I'm getting more and more fed up with onesies.  I DON'T LIKE THEM, Sam I am.  Why does everyone make onesies?  Julia has so very few shirts.  Most of the shirts she has used to be dresses.  I like non-onesie shirts on Julia.  I'm not sure I understand the allure of the snap crotch for the over 6 month old - 2 year old set.  


Is the sole intention of onesies to curb shirts from riding up?  Is that the origin of this ongoing onesie phenomenon?  Julia's shirts don't really ride up.  Occasionally she'll pull up her shirt to push on her belly button, but that's kind of cute. 


I do love that the dresses can become shirts.  That helps immensely. 





I think I'm 16.  "Summer Love" by JT is my ring tone for my husband. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Well, that sucks

Sometimes people make the decisions they need to for themselves, and I don't begrudge them that. I'll just be sad to see her go. Blah!

It's finally raining in Seattle! So nice to hear the pitter patter of little rain droplets.

Gotta get some motivation to clean out that closet.

Craigslist inquirees are sometimes kind of weird. My thought is that the buyer should pick things up at the seller's house. Weird person 50 miles away wants me to drive to meet her 30 miles away in order to sell something for $20? I can't believe people have the audacity to even ask. I try to be polite, but I'm not even going to dignify that a response.

I think we're going to make the daycare switch. Daycare pissed me off one too many times. And we took Julia to the new daycare, and she interacted with kids and played some. That sealed the deal.

What does one do when an ear infection doesn't go away after three rounds of antibiotics?

My husband takes his blog very seriously.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Online Clothes Shopping: Take 2

I just got done watching The Uninvited. How I love psychological thrillers. You know one of the characters is flipping nuts, but you're not quite sure who it is til the end. They do make it hard to go to sleep though.

My first online shopping experience was a few months ago. I had started back at work but didn't have many clothes to wear to work. My pre-pregnancy clothes didn't quite fit right, my maternity clothes were depressing to wear. I finally bit the bullet and bought some clothes at a great online sale. There were some sizing problems. I bought things too big, like way too big. The other not-so-great part was that I was complimented by the person who bedazzles her clothes. Yeah, a compliment is a compliment. But when the only compliment you get is from the bedazzler lady, you might want to rethink things. There were a few salvageable pieces, so it wasn't all bad.

There was a great online sale this weekend, so I bought some stuff. Different store, different sizing, a lot of the stuff is for Julia as well. I got her stuff for next summer. And I got myself some stuff too. I can't wait to get the box.

This all leads me to my closet. It's a closet jampacked with clothes, but I don't wear much of the stuff at all. It seems like I purge my closet fairly frequently. I purged it last while on maternity leave, and the only clothes I bought since was that box from my first online clothes shopping experience and some new underwear. There's stacks and stacks of stuff that I don't wear, so it makes sense to give it away and start over with plenty of basics that I actually WEAR.

That shall be my project on my days off this week. Simplify the closet.

And now for politics

S has started a blog, and I know he would appreciate readers.
It will mostly be a political blog, which isn't my favorite topic to blog about, but I'll try in order to stay within S's theme.

Most of you know I'm liberal. My in-laws think I'm Socialist. I'm not sure I deserve that adjective. I do have occasional conservative blips (i.e., I'm obsessed with personal responsibility), and I don't always agree with the Democrats on every issue.

Anyway, you're not going to hear me complain about paying taxes. I think in the United States we pay some of the lowest taxes in the world (correct me if I'm wrong, S). And in return, we don't get as many government services as some other countries if you count their generous maternity policies, universal health care, etc. I'm not going to debate universal health care, but for the most part I'm a proponent of it. If that means I'm a Socialist, so be it.

I like to think of all the things we as Americans get for the taxes we pay: roads, libraries!, public education, fire/police/ambulance, Medicare, Social Security, city/county/state workers, buses. It's all good stuff. So I don't complain.

Government workers get a bad rap. It's like people think they don't do their fair share or work minimally, or at least that's the sentiment I hear.

With all this stuff with Julia, we've tapped the early intervention services from the county. By far, these people have been the most helpful people we have encountered in our Julia medical path. Not only do they have their act together, but they're proactive. Our family resource coordinator is amazing, seemingly going above and beyond any expectation I'd have. Their therapists even come to your house. Wowsers! I don't know about you, but I've never had any medical professional come to my house before.

Seeing our tax money funding these types of programs makes me feel proud to be a Democrat and a taxpayer.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

My previously secret hope

May I share a secret desire? I would love to be a Blog of Note. I think most of the Blogs of Note are wonderful, and it would tickle me pink to be bestowed with the honor. Fact is, though, I can't write. Another fact is that most Blogs of Note have tons of pictures. I don't. Even another fact is that most Blogs of Note have tons of followers. I don't. The cold hard reality is that I have no hope of becoming a Blog of Note unless I learn to write better, add lots of pictures, and have lots of followers.

Hmmmpppph. I guess it's kind of like high school. I always wanted to be popular (didn't everyone?). But when you thought about it intellectually, being popular was a lot of pressure. You could only socialize with specific people (other popular people), you had to wear the right clothes, you only had the choice of a narrow field of extracurricular activities. (Really, were any of the popular kids at your school in the chess club?) To be popular you had to give up a lot of freedoms.

Being unpopular like me was freeing of sorts. I could wear what I wanted, talk to whom I wanted, do what I wanted.

If I extend the analogy, not being a Blog of Note means I have much more blog freedom.

But I still have that wisp of envy when I read the new Blog of Note. Inside that apathetic exterior, I am still the girl who's yearning to be popular.

My Occupation: Parking Lot Watcher

I often tell people my occupation is parking lot watcher. While it's not technically true, I take great joy in the job of being the parking lot watcher.

Did I ever say that I had a major in psychology and a minor in sociology? Observing people fascinates me. There is so much you can learn about people without interacting with them. The type of car they drive, the way they walk, the people they choose to interact with with, who they go to lunch with, how many times they leave the building during the day, what's in their car, seeing if they arrive to work on time, where they park, etc.

For everyone who parks in my line of sight, I have a rough psychological profile of. Do I sound creepy? Yeah, I'm kind of creepy. S tells me I'd be a great FBI profiler. And I probably would be. But I think the FBI makes you pass physical tests. Sit-ups and shooting tests do not appeal to me. Hence, my life of a desk job with a side job as a parking lot watcher.

I'd probably also make a good businessperson. Gosh, I can be ruthless. If I had more ambition, Sam Walton would have some major competition. I often think of people from my work who I'd take with me if I started my own business. There are some good people there. I wouldn't take too many people. Maybe 10 people or so. While I'm doing monotonous work activities, I keep refining my list of people I'd take and where I'd put them. Like there's a person I know who reads this blog that I'd put in HR. She'd be awesome in HR. Now if I could come up with what business I'd open and a business plan.... Plus I'd have to entice the good people to come with me. Money. Cold hard cash makes the world go round.

My in-laws asked S what I do this week. I suppose for the past 9 years they haven't cared to know. What's even more pathetic is that they only asked S last year what he did. Kinda funny, huh? At least I'm amused by it. Maybe it's because his brother is a police officer and his sister works for an airline. Maybe those jobs are easier to understand. S and I don't have jobs that can be as easily understood.

I kinda wish he would have told them parking lot watcher and bathroom air freshener sniffer outter. :)

Friday, August 7, 2009


Do you know that you can add music to your blog? Very cool. But whenever I go to a blog with music, I don't like the experience. I thought perhaps I could do the lullaby version of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" on my blog. It's just the melody. That would be the atmosphere I'd want to create. Then I nixed it because probably everyone else dislikes blog music just like I do.

I am still obsessed with Pink's "Sober." I love that song. I totally want to use it for my ringtone but, knowing me, I'd take my phone to a meeting and forget to turn it off. Then all my coworkers would think I'm an alcoholic if it started ringing. If you haven't heard it and want to, here it is:

Maybe I associate it with my 1am brownie high.

For what it's worth, I've never had a drug or alcohol problem. Really.

My second favorite song is Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." No, really, I don't have a drug or alcohol problem. Repeat: You don't need to enroll me in AA. "Gin and Juice" would be an awesome song turned into a lullaby - slow it down, no words, and just melody. Awesome, truly awesome. Somehow I don't think Snoop would let that happen though.

Rolling down the street smoking endo, sipping on gin and juice, laaiiiiid back

The memories of that song. Being a teenager, wearing my flannel (because it was Seattle in 1993), hanging out with savory and unsavory characters. 1993 = B.E. = Before E-mail. How did life exist before e-mail? :)

I've never seen an episode of American Idol. How un-American am I?

Gosh it's quiet

The in-laws left a few hours ago, and it's weird to have the house so quiet. The TV isn't on at deafening levels. No one's yelling at the TV. No one's reading books to me. No one is repeating the same thing they've already told me 12 times. No one's saying, "She just wants to wet her whistle." No one's asking if they can get me something to eat.

I like it, but it's ... weird.

And it's weird to be able to watch any channel I want to.

I sold the pack n play. Woot woot! $50 + I can get out of bed without hitting it. I'm not getting any hits for the other baby crap I have. But for some reason Graco playpens sell like hotcakes on Craigslist. Just passing that tip to any of the other moms.

My laptop has seen better days. As in, the AC adapter won't charge the battery, so my laptop only works if it's plugged in. I suppose that part is workable, but it also has "issues." Namely that it got some nasty virus that I still think is affecting it. It's slowwwwww. As in, I can't download anything and be on the Internet at the same time. I bought it in January of 2006. So it is approaching its 4th birthday. I guess come September I'll look for a new one. And September is when I was going to watch my money more.

I find it interesting that people in the South say PO-leese, and people in the North say po-LEESE for police.

The Mortgage Thing

Okay, this mortgage thing. We bought our house in 1999. Back in 1999, real estate wasn't terribly expensive in this area. As in, if both of us worked full-time just out of college, we could afford a decent house. So that was a positive.

Another positive is that I got a tidy sum of money from my mother. The whole boring explanation is that when my grandfather died, my mom and aunt sold his house, and they got something like $15,000 for it in 1982. My mom and aunt put that money in the stock market with me as the beneficiary with the intention of that being my college fund. It grew nicely during the years it was invested, and I never really used a whole lot of it for college (I skipped the first two years of college due to Running Start, and for the other 3 years I was in college, I lived pretty cheaply and went to an in-state school). She gave me what was left in the fund, so we had a nice downpayment. As a side note, this was actually awesome timing because the stock market kind of went in the crapper in 2000. Sell high.

Even with real estate not being that expensive at the time and having a nice downpayment, we had a mortgage. $975.23 was our monthly payment. Oh, the things I remember. It was probably only about 3 months into our homeowner experience that I amortized out our mortgage (the things I do for fun at the age of 21). And I realized that for every $500 we paid extra on our mortgage, we'd save something like 3 mortgage payments or something like $2,500 in interest. This was back in our extra lean days. We didn't have cable or cell phones, and we were buying a few sets of miniblinds (new houses don't come with window coverings) each paycheck.

Slowly we'd start to pay more and more extra each month. It was straight pennypinching and using any raises that came to us to pay even more off. And in 2004 (after 5 years of owning our house), we paid off the house. Toward the end, we probably emptied our savings account more than we should have, but our goal was to not have any debt. We accomplished it. It's got to be one of the most gratifying we ever did. We had a goal, we both bought into the goal, and we both worked for it. With perserverance, we got it.

Getting a new, bigger house is a constant lure for both of us. We like houses. We like space. We like plush carpet. We like interesting floor plans. But giving up our mortgage-free life would be soooo painful.

There is an article out there that mentions us. If you Google in quotation marks my first full name and hubby's first name plus our last name, you'll find it. If you need to know hubby's first name, it's on Facebook. So Google:

"_________ and __________ ___________"

Memo to world: If you're ever in an article that makes its way to the Internet, you might want to give your family a heads up.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Approximate spending

I just got a lecture from the in-laws about what to look for in a contractor. Ummm, yeah, I successfully navigated a bathroom remodel and a flooring job. It took 50 interviews to find the appropriate fit, but I got it done. I learned a lot from the experience, and I now think of myself as moderately good at picking contractors. However, I still got the lecture. Have I said my mother's main redeeming quality? She treated me like an adult even when I was 10. The downside was that I had to meet exceedingly high expectations, but the upside was that I was rarely treated like a "kid."

I need to put a lot of this baby/kid stuff on Craigslist. Seriously, this playpen has been used for about an hour total and is taking up a considerable amount of square footage. Then there's the infant bath, the play table, the sling, the infant gym, the bouncy seat, and other assorted crap. Don't even think of telling me I'm going to need it for my next kid. If I do indeed get knocked up, it will be my penance to have to re-buy all this crap over again (except for the playpen, which had absolutely even no use even with the bassinet - Julia hated it).

Still looking into something. It's something that's so seemingly ridiculous that I haven't even told my darling husband. And if I can't utter it to him coherently, I shouldn't ramble about it on here.

I'm thinking of starting the money blog in September. It will be weird to put all our expenses out there (and I might get overruled by Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless).

I've been told by the in-laws that S and I aren't really married due to how we arrange our finances. I just roll my eyes. No, we don't have that one marriage pot o' money. We have separate checking accounts and separate savings accounts, and our paychecks are deposited into our respective checking accounts. Then we each transfer equal amounts to our joint checking account each month to cover joint expenses. Then we have a joint savings account. So we have 6 accounts + Julia's savings. 7 bank accounts in total. Plus all our credit cards: S credit cards, my credit cards, joint credit cards.

This is all explanation to say that I don't even look at S's 2 bank accounts and his credit cards. I am the keeper of the joint accounts and my accounts. If I were to take up this exercise, I would continue as is. S could spend how he likes with his own personal accounts. Not that he really spends a lot, but it gives him the freedom.

Here's a rough outline of our expenses:
- No mortgage (that's a blog posting in and of itself), but our property taxes are roughly $3,800 a year
- Daycare is our highest monthly expense. $750 currently in the toddler room. If we switch daycares, it will go up to $1,000.
- About $400 a month in food.
- Utilities: $260ish every two months for water/electric/sewage/trash, $38/mo for cable TV, $325/year for cable internet, $125/mo for phone (eeek but we wanted those iPhones), natural gas varies from $30-$125 depending on the month. Average is about $400/mo for all utilities.
- Cars: fairly new so relatively little maintenance thus far, insurance of $1,400 a year, gas costs of about $150/month.
- Medical: Oh Miss J and all your medical costs. Maybe $100/mo for her.
- The catch-all of "everything else" is starting to creep up each month. I want to get a better handle of that and the grocery/entertainment bills. It seems like we spend $500 or so each month that's not related to any of the above areas. I want to start being more accountable. And frugal. I think I am fairly frugal compared to the average American, yet I'm finding myself more willing to lay down $30 on something frivolous than I was a few years ago.

*** I finally bought some new underwear. Target is having a sale this week. $2/pair. I bought 9 pairs. Boy shorts. Yes, I totally wanted bikinis but none to be found. I have yet to wear the boy shorts.

Stuck in the Teens

Julia was born fairly large, and she gained really well while breastfeeding. (Memo to the world: Don't stop breastfeeding even if your child screams while eating. Your child will likely scream while eating formula but will gain even more slowly.)

At 6 weeks old (July 17, 2008) she weighed 10 pounds, 3 ounces.

On July 25, 2009, she weighed 19 lbs, 5 ounces.

For over a stinking YEAR she has weighed in the teens!!! It's not like I'm going to face her forward in her car seat when she turns 20 pounds. That's not why I'm anxious for her to get to 20 pounds. I simply want that first digit to change to 2 for the novelty of it all. 2_, doesn't it sound so much more "heavy" than 1_?

I think I've figured out what I want this blog to concentrate on once we get Miss J on the eating track. I want to itemize everything I spend and cut as many corners as possible. A money-saving blog. I'm sure there are tons of them out there, but might as well add mine to the mix.

I've got to get better at this blog socializing thing. Most of the people that come here I know, which is great. But there's this huge network of blog folks that I'm not sure how to infiltrate. I guess I need to first find a money blog, follow that one, then stalk their followers. Right? Is that how it all works?

For now the money blog is a 2010 theme in progress. Of course I'll interject gripes about work bathroom air fresheners and Mother In-Law's obsession with reducing tupperware sizes as leftovers get eaten. And of course I'll lament my toddler who likely won't eat very well. I can never stick to one theme very well, but I thought it would mix things up and help me be more conscientious about fiscal matters. And being a financial planner in education as well as life experience, I could pratter on about IRAs and 401(k)'s until everyone's eyes glaze over. My nerdiness will flow through in all its glory.

Fat Camp and Skinny Camp

Most of the time I think it's humorous that Julia and I have opposite problems. I love to eat, and Julia hates to eat. Eh, I suppose we balance each other out in a yin and yang sort of way, but I end up focusing on how different we are. Could this really be my child?

I should have been sent to fat camp. Honestly, I feel like the poster child for fat camp due to binge eating, sneaking food, and horrible mood swings related to food. The only thing that saved me was that I haven't ever been terribly overweight. I'm overweight, definitely, but unless I'm surrounded by models, I don't think most people would say I'm "fat" on sight alone. I'm more on the higher side of normal, or "slightly chunky," or "curvy." The boobs help.

So I just got done raiding the brownies. Brownies are a no no in my gluten/soy/milk/peanut-free diet, and they're also pretty much a no no on Weight Watchers. Yet I still ate them. I enjoyed eating them when no one else was around (the rest of the house is asleep). It's like some extra special activity that I like to do all by myself because most people don't "get" why eating brownies at 1am is incredibly wonderful. If you have a similar (warped) relationship with food, you'll understand. If you don't, be glad you don't.

It goes without saying that I'm probably not sticking to my "not eat anything" diet or even my Weight Watchers diet very well. I have good days and bad days. I can't ever seem to get many good days in a row because I feel so darn deprived that I eat brownies at 1am like someone who needs to be enrolled at fat camp. I need to fix the protein problem. I eat a breakfast of produce, and then I take produce to work. I like apples and oranges as much as the next person, but just eating produce is really affecting my mood and cravings. I don't feel full and start lusting after manicotti and beef stew while at my desk. I hate beef, and I'm craving beef stew! That's a huge clue that I'm protein and iron deficient. I've got to pre-cook meat for work or even take cans of beans to work. Then I can have something filling and full of vitamins.

Switching gears to skinny camp. Miss J got her early intervention report today. Last week she was evaluated in 5 areas: cognitive, motor skills, social skills, adaptive skills, and speech. As we expected, she didn't do so well in adaptive skills, which includes feeding. She also didn't do that great in speech, although she wasn't technically far enough behind to qualify.

It's been a bumpy road with her feeding. We have struggled with this since she was born. I kept saying something was wrong although I couldn't pinpoint it other than she didn't eat much and didn't "enjoy" eating. It's a day to day struggle that most people can't identify with. Sure, kids don't like specific foods, but we struggle at every meal every day. It's exhausting. And the remedy for kids who don't eat is to feed them even more often. We typically have 4-5 bottle feedings a day (most of which are a fight) plus 6 solid feedings a day (most of which are a fight). About half of those feedings end up with 0 or 1 bite and/or liquid refusal. There's plenty of screaming on her part, and lots of frustration on our part. It comes down to the fact that we know she's underweight due to her poor food intake. There's nothing biologically wrong with her (that we know of, we've done a lot of tests but not all of them). When she was born, there was likely something biologically wrong with her that she outgrew, and now we have to undo the poor coping mechanisms and start from scratch. It's not like one day something's going to click, and she's going to magically start eating. It's going to take a lonnnnnng time.

So what's in store with Miss J? Weekly therapy starting on Monday. A therapist will be coming to our house to work with Miss J on feeding and speech since they're so related. We'll hopefully learn more tips to get her to eat.

It's encouraging to know she's finally getting help. It's been months and months of doctor appointments where we express frustration with her low weight, and we're told stupid (i.e., common sense but entirely impractical given the situation) things, like she needs to drink at least 27 ounces of formula and 2 jars of baby food in a day. If we could get her to take 27 ounces of formula and 2 jars of baby food, we wouldn't be here right now! We can only get her to take 14 ounces, and we only accomplish that by feeding her when she's asleep. YOU try to get 27 ounces into her and when you accomplish that, tell us what you did. Surprisingly no one ever took us up on it! :)

There's got to be some happy balance between our separate skinny and fat camp issues, and hopefully we can both work on finding it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Waiting for an Epiphany

1. What time did you get up this morning?
4:17am to check on Miss J and then went back to bed

2. How do you like your steak?
Not at all - no steak here

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Funny People on Saturday. It was okay but started meandering in the notorious Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow way. But S and I compromised - he wanted to see Harry Potter, and I wanted to see a slasher movie.

4. What is your favorite TV show?
Gilmore Girls

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Scottish castle

6. What did you have for breakfast?
Baked potatoes

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
Anything I can't have due to wheat and dairy - namely, Mexican and Italian

8. What foods do you dislike?
Korean food

9. Favorite Place to Eat?

10. Favorite dressing?

11. What kind of vehicle do you drive?
Mazda wagon

12. What are your favorite clothes?
The kind that magically take 20 pounds off

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?
1/2 empty...gosh, don't you read my cynical, depressing blog that's all in black????

15. Where would you want to retire?
I'm a simple girl. Bellingham.

16. Favorite time of day?
twilight, closely followed by 2am

17. Where were you born?

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?
ice skating

19. Who do you think will not tag you back?

20. Person you expect to tag you back first?

21. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?

22. Bird watcher?
Heck no. The only birds I watch are the vicious crows, and that's only because I don't want to die.

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?

24. Do you have any pets?

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?
My husband may, may, may start a blog. It's an act of Congress and is still being deliberated in his head. Right now he's trying to name his maybe blog.

26. What did you want to be when you were little?
Many things, but most notably a cheerleader.

27. What is your best childhood memory?
Playing games

28. Are you a cat or dog person?

29. Are you married?

30. Always wear your seat belt?

31. Been skinnydipping?

32. Any pet peeves?
So many pet peeves, so little time

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings?
pineapple and cheese, neither of which I can have

34. Favorite Flower?

35. Favorite ice cream?
Dreyer's Take the Cake

36. Favorite fast food restaurant?
Probably Wendy's which has the Frosty which I can't have

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test?

38. From whom did you get your last email?
Viagra/Cialis spam

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?
Went to the store on a whim, I'm wild and crazy like that, it's how I roll. :)

41. Like your job?

42. Broccoli?

43. What was your favorite vacation?
As in destination, Scotland. As in company, anywhere with my husband.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with?
My husband

45. What are you listening to right now?

46. What is your favorite color?
pink and purple and black

47. How many tattoos do you have?

48. How many are you tagging for this quiz?

49. What time did you finish this quiz?
9:12 pm (I skipped to the next question 1st)

50. Coffee Drinker?

Breaking up is hard to do

Julia’s current daycare is lacking in the area of getting Julia to drink. Her current teacher isn’t the best, and she’s not very accommodating to Julia’s drinking issues. Typically Julia eats solid foods okay at daycare. Not phenomenal, but good enough that she blends in with the other kids. Despite us preparing her bottle and sippy cup ahead of time, sometimes she only drinks water all day. When I ask, the teacher says she forgot to give her the sippy cup, or Julia refused the sippy cup, or it was hot, and they gave all the kids water, or she went on break during the meal & she doesn’t know what happened. Every day I repeat myself, “Please give Julia the sippy cup I provided at all meals, and please try to give her a bottle around 10am and 2pm.” And when I pick her up, I’m usually saddened to see an ounce or two out of the bottle and a tiny bit out of the cup. Or none of it touched. That’s when I get really angry.

I have found a place that I like that has an opening in September and has dealt with feeding issues before & would still feed Julia a bottle. YAY! Both S and I like it. And, as a bonus, they have a real “curriculum.” I say “curriculum” because it’s toddlers, after all. It’s not like I’m expecting her to recite War and Peace just yet.

We have to decide within the next 2 weeks what we’re going to do. Honestly, it’s mind-numbing. I can’t figure out what to do. When I get this conflicted, I usually say to go with my gut. But my gut doesn’t know what to do either.

Point 1: Julia doesn’t transition well. Moving her would throw her for a loop. If she stays in the current daycare, she wouldn’t go through that.

Point 2: New Daycare is better versed at feeding (or so the center director says). I know that Julia will only do want she willingly wants to do. I do know that she likes water a heckuva lot more than her bottle or sippy cup, so she will almost always pick that over what I brought her to drink. I do think that New Daycare will be more likely to follow my instructions. And my instructions aren’t terribly complicated – give her the sippy cup at meals, and offer her a bottle at 2 approximate times. I think if Current Daycare followed my instructions, Julia would eat the same amount at either New or Current Daycare.

Point 3: New Daycare has a better “curriculum.” Current Daycare has a set schedule throughout the day: outside play 2 times, story time, circle time (whatever that is), art time, free play, nap, meals, snacks. But there really isn’t a “curriculum.” Then I wonder if a “curriculum” for 1 year olds was generated by New Daycare to suck up to parents. Dontcha love how my cynical mind works?

Point 4: Most of the caregivers and other kids at Current Daycare really do like Julia. The morning infant teachers were wonderful. Even Courtney (the afternoon infant teacher) and Julia have a passable relationship now. The older girls come by and dote on Julia. I feel like most people have a good understanding of Julia – except for her current teacher. But maybe I haven’t given them enough time to bond. They’re starting their 3rd month together.

Point 5: Julia would transition out of her current room at 18-19 months. That’s 4-5 more months. She does like the next teacher up a lot more. I love when her current teacher team teachers with that teacher since it seems like the other teacher gives Jessica some tips on how to handle Julia.

I am seriously conflicted. So is S. I would be heartbroken to withdraw her. Most of the people there really do care about her. When she has a big doctor appointment, numerous people ask me how it went. When she had a good food day in the infant room, it was big news throughout the whole daycare, “Julia ate a whole jar of food!!!!” The older kids greet her in the hall. Then there’s the 8-year old teaching assistant who lugs Julia around.

I guess that brings me to why I liked the current daycare. While they are licensed and are essentially a child care “center,” you get the feeling that it’s more like a home setting. They aren’t unduly rigid about most things, except for the ratios and health standards. Those are the things I want them to be rigid about. Other things don’t concern me as much as long as Julia is well taken care of (i.e., happy and belly full and not afflicted by some contagious daycare plague).

S has already talked with the center director. That was when he was told that Julia was the most difficult baby – to – toddler transition in the past several years. At the time, the director said they would continue to give her bottles.

I’m so not good at this. Do we have another “talk” with the center director? (If so, I vote that S has it because he’s the far more stable of the two of us). I was thinking maybe just outright saying that we know Julia’s feeding is challenging, and we can go to a different daycare if they would like. Leave it up to them. Of course, I’d be heartbroken if they think Julia would be a better fit elsewhere, but at least it gives them the option. If we decide to change daycares, should we state our reason to Current Daycare, or should we just give proper notification?
We need to decide by August 14. That gives us 2 weeks notice at Current Daycare and is within the New Daycare’s window of enrollment. The in-laws are here this week, so that only leaves next week at the Current Daycare to decide.

I thought writing this would give me some enlightenment. I do seem to defend Current Daycare more than I would have thought. I have to be careful that it’s not my preference for no change that is fueling it.

Open to any thoughts.