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Archive for May, 2016

Memorial Day and Other Things

May 31st, 2016 at 12:45 am

Strangely, in our family we didn't have anyone who served in the armed forces during war (at least not anyone that I knew). Somehow the timing of war or other circumstances intervened.

But... I still think about people on Memorial Day who lost loved ones or who suffered during war.

Here is my family's story:

- My father was an officer in the Navy between Korea and Vietnam. He still has his hat and his ensign whistle, and great stories about being on the ship.

- My grandfather's brother enlisted in WWI even though he was in Canada and they were neutral. I didn't know him, but my grandfather talked about how he watched his brother's dog while his brother was in Europe. That brother did come home, but died before I was born; since he had no children, I have his medal.

- My grandparents emigrated to the US from Canada, and came down on the train on the West Coast the night they bombed Pearl Harbor. My grandfather had rheumatic fever when he was young, so he couldn't serve in WWII. He worked at the post exchange, and my grandmother wrote down POW messages from Japan and the Phillipines and sent word to the POW's families via penny postcards. I have the postcards and letters the families sent back, and I treasure them; they make me cry every time I read them! Some people hadn't heard that their relatives were alive until my grandmother sent those postcards!

- My father-in-law was a young boy during the Blitz in London. His mother didn't send him to the country where it was safer because she wanted him to stay with her. His stories are pretty scary, but he ended up making it through the war! He's 87 now!

I feel like my family was so lucky, and I am very grateful!

Update: Soccer Team and Sister-in-Law

May 28th, 2016 at 09:22 pm

I didn't expect to have updates so soon!

Soccer - we got an email last night, and they are keeping my daughter's team together! At the club we are already with! I didn't expect them to be so accommodating to us, but I think that without doing this, they wouldn't have a 2004 team (not enough players). So what will happen is that F and her teammates who were born in 2005 will "play up" on the 2004 team; the coaches all feel very comfortable with this since the girls have already played U12 teams (girls born in 2004 and 2003). They think the girls are at a skill level equal to their 2004 teammates. And the 2005 girls that came to our tryouts will have a team as well; in fact, all of the girls that tried out will be on that team, so more girls get to play. F was so happy!

Sister-in-Law - D and I were discussing this situation this morning and I had a brainstorm: we will still be in the UK, we just can't change hotels and flip our plans around (partly because D's mum is right near Stansted Airport and that's where we fly out from on Friday). We would lose money and also have to drive back and forth across the country an additional time. So I suggested offering to D's sister that she could come to D's mum's to see us (it means her driving there, but just once and back). D checked with their mum (we needed to check because his mum sometimes has a strained relationship with her daughter) and she said that would be fine. I don't know if his sister will go for this option, but at least we've offered it.

And.... I am in the office making money on a weekend while F is at the 5th grade girls party - so I'd better get to work!

Little Stressful Things

May 27th, 2016 at 09:50 pm

Last day of school today!

But there is a lot of other stuff on my mind currently. Lots of little annoyances; nothing that bad.

- I did not get the Senior Center project I applied for. Which would be fine, except the way they scored it was super frustrating. I lost by 2 points, which I'm fine with. But three scorers scored me first and one scored me third. The person who won was scored second by those same three scorers, and the last person put them first. In other words, one person controlled who got the project. Even though the other three all wanted me to do the project, this one person gave me such a low score that I missed it by two points. Frustrating. I think that State Procurement law says that they are supposed to award by rank instead of points, but I'm not sure. I won't protest, but I've called the head of County Procurement just to have a discussion.

- D's sister emailed him to say that she can't meet us on the Monday we come to the UK and wants us to rearrange all of our plans. We have hotels paid for (non-refundable) and tickets to the Harry Potter Studios; we have flights to Croatia and a place to stay there (deposit paid). We are coming 10,000 miles, and we checked with her when we made plans back in December (and double checked!), and she confirmed, before we paid for anything. D was going to email her back to say "Sorry, no." He hasn't done it yet, because he says she's just gone to Cornwall and doesn't have internet. So we won't hear her freakout until Tuesday. We leave in less than a month.

- Select soccer tryouts were last Tuesday night. Due to the Birth Year split our 5th grade team was cut in half (half 2004 players, half 2005). This was sad, but would have been fine if the other girls trying out for each team would have been select soccer players. This is Select Soccer which means you have to be at a certain level since we play competitively in a league in Albuquerque. I talked to a really nice mom, and she told me that her daughter and the other new girls don't know positions, how to pass (and she said none of them pass because each of them just wants to score) or any strategy. They don't know what volleying is; they were kicking with their toes. They had to take out our 2005 girls out of play just to evaluate the others because our girls were passing all around them and none of them could get the ball. Our girls walked away from the tryouts and several of them were crying. I was trying to tell them that these other girls will learn, and they can lead, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that in any other city, these girls wouldn't make the team. Remember - this is Select Soccer. It's not rec soccer, and we don't give participation trophies.

Then on Wednesday I talked to my friend whose husband is the 2004 coach and whose daughter is a 2004. They don't have enough players in that age group to even field a team; we realized that there just aren't enough players in our smallish city to field a girls' Select team every year. We don't think just having enough girls is acceptable; they need to actually be Select players. She and I just wanted to keep our old team together. Our 2005 girls would be playing up; it's a little worrying since F is the youngest on the team. I want to make sure she isn't penalized for that. But with our coaches, I think it'll be ok.

Well... the coaches agreed, and they went to our Club this afternoon to discuss keeping our old team together, grandfathering them in. I am waiting to hear what the Club decides.

- D applied for a job. I think it'd be great for him, and I know he wants it. I'm so tense about it.

- We are paving the rest of our driveway, and so we haven't parked our cars in the garage for a week. This is also making me tense. We live on a hill, and I've lugged groceries, school lunch box, sets of plans and everything else up the hill. I can't wait until they're done! It does look really, really nice. It's expensive. It adds value to the house. I'm beginning to sound a little crazy!

- I think my friend H (Bad Money Man!) is getting divorced. This is the one who was fired from his job. Poor H!!! I feel so sad for him.

TENSE. That is the key word for today. None of these things are very bad. Everything will be resolved. I am so grateful that these are the things I'm stressing about and not worse situations.

I will check back in with you when some of these things are resolved!

What I'm Up to This Week

May 24th, 2016 at 02:03 am

Eating:
M - hamburgers and coleslaw
T - something from the freezer and salad
W - tuna melts and broccoli
T - mexican eggs and crash potatoes
F - penne and red sauce and courgettes

Spending:
- too much on treats for F's birthday at school! It's not her birthday yet, but the summer birthdays all go the last week of school. She wanted ice cream sandwiches, and it's in the budget.

Watching:
Kirsty and Phil's Love it or List It on Channel 4's iplayer. Have you seen it? One of my favorite shows, partly because of the way Kirsty transforms people's homes on a budget. I read that the American version of this show didn't do such a good job and the renovation work was shoddy, but I think Kirsty does a great job.

Waiting:
- for school to get out for the summer! Tomorrow is select soccer tryouts, Thursday evening I meet with the Board of my new client and Friday is a half day.

Wondering:
- what frugal thing we can do on Memorial Day. Most of our friends are going away for the weekend. I guess we could have a barbeque potluck with anyone is left.

Organizing:
- summer and winter clothing. F has grown like crazy! She's 11 and she's up to the middle of my forehead now. There are a lot of clothes to donate to goodwill or maybe sell (several things are probably better to sell on Craigslist or our local facebook buy/sell group). I need to reorganize the soccer clothes, too. Although the season is over, F has two soccer camps this summer, and our team may play La Liga in the summer. I need to figure out a slightly better system. I will share a photo when I'm done! Something where socks are separated from jerseys, and jerseys are separated from shorts.

Snowflakes and Travel

May 18th, 2016 at 07:56 pm

Thinking about tuition... I found out this week that tuition for 7th grade is almost $2,000 LESS than I thought. Wow. I am speechless and so happy. Even if it goes up a little, we'll still be ok. I revised my spreadsheet and we will be ok into Autumn 2017.

The plan, of course, is to pay off our mortgage by then. That way we can afford school AND put more toward retirement.

I got paid by the gym on Monday, so that was another $80 snowflake toward the mortgage.

And although we're traveling to see D's family this summer, next summer is going to be super frugal in order to pay off that mortgage... I've decided in 2017 we're going to see the wonderful things in our own state (aside from the ones that are close to home where we've already taken F like Bandelier, Tent Rocks, etc). I've been all over the place, but not with F. She's old enough now to appreciate some of the great culture that we have here, and to be ok on long driving trips! We'll bring the tent and all our camping stuff.

Here are a few things on the list:
- Chaco Canyon
- White Sands
- Carlsbad Caverns
- Three Rivers Petroglyphs

It's been at least 10 years since D and I have been to any of those! I can't wait to share those places with F.

One Way to avoid Shopping!

May 15th, 2016 at 11:39 pm

I am supposed to go to the grocery store... It's 5 pm on Sunday, and we got back from F's soccer tournament (they came in 2nd - yay!) about an hour ago. But I can't go... it's raining SO hard! Hail, hard, splatty rain. Lightning. Ugh.

I really need to buy food for the week, and I have to work hard all next week, so not sure when I'll have time to go during the week.

I am resigned to not going today, though. I usually shop at two stores, and I'll have to figure out a time to get to each one during the week. Maybe just before or after school pick-up since there's no soccer practice this week?

Boom! More lightning.

We are going to eat out of the pantry for a few days. I am mentally trying to think of what we are lacking that is crucial, and I can't really think of anything big.

The meal plan for this week is:
Tonight - something from the freezer and a salad
Pad Thai - I just need shrimp for this
Pasta Carbonara - need bacon and eggs
Enchiladas - need sauce, more corn tortillas, beans

I can't remember the rest.. but it did just stop raining for a minute - maybe I'll try to go!

End of School Year THINGS!

May 11th, 2016 at 08:00 pm

I can't believe when this week is over there are only 2 weeks left of school!

Here are the end-of-school things on my mind:
- tomorrow's Advisory group lunch - F signed up to do Potatoes Dauphinoise, which means I have to stop by the store on the way to pick her up. Need to leave in a few minutes.
- Friday field trip - I wasn't going to drive, but no one else volunteered, so the old standby drivers (me and my friend A!) stepped up
- Soccer tournament this weekend - so all day both days at the fields; need to have things on hand to make sandwiches.
- Soccer coach coming to stay with us on Sunday! Need to figure out a frugal but nice menu for the week
- Field Day next Friday at F's school - I promised I'd cut up watermelon right after morning drop off; I am ok with volunteering because it's a free way to give back.
- That evening is my friend's retirement party - he's totally hysterical! And his wife is funny and amazing, too! And our daughters are friends! Can't wait!
- That next Saturday both D and I are volunteering at the soccer complex for their fundraiser. It'll be fun! Later that day is our team's end of the season party.
- F's birthday! We are doing a party with her three best friends - maybe taking them somewhere, but I'm trying to keep it low-key
- Then the following weekend we'll have an informal get-together with her soccer team at the park for her birthday
- We are doing a project at the house to get ready for her birthday present...

Shhh! This is a secret! We are putting up a basketball hoop for F's birthday, and she doesn't know! She loves basketball, and we're always driving to the park. We have to remove the gravel in front of our garage and pave that over, too, to gain that extra hard surface. This is a project that we've been meaning to do for a long time (since we paved over the other part of the driveway and couldn't afford the rest). It's not cheap, but it will drastically improve the house. And we gain a ton of extra flat space to play (on our very sloped lot!). This is the kind of project that won't be as big of a deal when our mortgage is paid off.

I can't wait to play basketball with F in the evenings without driving to the park and finding out the hoops are already being used.

Another Mortgage Principal Payment

May 9th, 2016 at 10:15 pm

I know all of the tellers at my bank... and they know that I'm the one who pays down principal on the mortgage at least two times a month. They're all really nice... when the mortgage is paid off, I'm going to miss them!

So I brought in another $367.76 to pay down principal.

We owe $34,356.46
The house is worth about $600k, so this feels really good
If we don't pay down any more principal, we will pay off the house in March 2019
F starts high school in September 2017
If we keep paying off principal with just amounts budgeted, we will have it paid off in March 2018
If we pay off a big chunk or keep paying off more each month than we budget (please, please let this be a good year for my business) we will have it paid off in September 2017

I need to get real about selling some stuff that I have no idea why I'm holding onto. It's mostly been inertia and weather. It's too cold right now to drag things out of the garage (I have an old vintage bike that I need to clean and photograph). And I have some (I think) hideous figurines that I'm not sure how to sell. Also some silver jewelry. I should just DO IT!

Crazy Mother's Day (but it was great anyway)

May 9th, 2016 at 02:27 am

Oh my gosh, what a mother's day visit... my parents came out from CA for Grand-friends Day at F's school, and it just happened to be Mother's Day, too.

It was sort of a difficult visit. My mom was nervous, and she's still experiencing pain that she did when we went to LA in March, so she wasn't in the best mood. Nervous and cranky. Nervous, cranky and judgmental.

My mom said she had a wonderful time, though. So I'm thankful for that.

They ended up arranging for a different flight and leaving a day early. I'm not taking it personally. They have to attend a memorial service on Monday, and my mom wanted to make sure she could go home and rest a little first. They had a 7:30 flight out, but they left our house at 3 (but this may be because we don't have television; my mom asked what was on, and when D explained that we don't have cable, she gasped and then said that it was ok, she'd play a game on her phone. She didn't want to go on a walk, she didn't want to go anywhere, she didn't want to do anything except watch TV and we don't have TV. D said we had lots of shows on the internet to watch, but she wanted to flip around the channels, and because we don't have TV, we don't have channels).

After my parents left, we went to the park and played basketball (a game F made up that she and I love) because, after all, it's still Mother's Day and I'm a mother, right? I get to do something with my daughter that we love! We went to Whole Foods and got nice olives and some ice cream, and we had cheese and crackers and olives for dinner (my favorite!) with mint chocolate chip for dessert.

I am still processing the visit. I did a bunch of cartoons (did you know I draw silly cartoons?) to try to figure things out. I read somewhere about this woman who draws cartoons about anxiety, and I thought that it is definitely my medium. I am going to confess now that in my cartoon, my mother is a gorilla with curly hair, and I am a sheep and F is an adorable little piglet. She loves pigs. So there you go.

A sample:
F (adorable piglet) asks "Didn't you have dance moves when you were young?"
Curly haired gorillas says "No, I was too poor."

OK, you probably guessed that was actual dialog from a discussion about the dab - a dance move which F was trying to explain to my parents who saw it during a Grand-friends Day performance; it still cracks me up.

And, oh - it was a very frugal Mother's Day! Even at Whole Foods, you can't spend too much on olives and ice cream!

A New Recipe and Things on My Mind

May 4th, 2016 at 02:00 am

Just made this:
http://www.popsugar.com/food/Gwyneth-Paltrow-Carbonara-Recipe-41083033

Best new recipe I've made in a long time, and inexpensive (half a packet of turkey bacon = $2, pasta = $1, three eggs = 60c, some parmesan = 40c).

I had tried another pasta carbonara recipe and this was a lot better.

It was good that I made this comfort food tonight. D's dad fell about a month ago in his apartment, was in hospital, and is now in a rehab facility. Social services decided he could go back to his apartment, even though D's family thought he'd be going into residential care. His dad can't walk, and often can't get out of bed. They were looking at all sorts of places near D's sister. But it seems like the residential care places are mostly full of people with dementia, and D's dad is 87 but no dementia at all! He'd be miserable there. D was super upset; it's hard being so far away (we are in the US, but D's family is in the UK). Anyway, social services is going to have someone come out three times a day to help him out of bed, help him bathe, get him back in bed. And he'll get meals. I think D is now ok with the idea.

The only thing I said is that the apartment he's in now isn't suitable. He needs to be on the first floor not second since he has mobility issues, and he needs to be in the same town as D's sister not 2 hours away.

We have a hotel room booked where he lives now and another booked where D's sister lives. So we'll see what happens...

Other news: F is on a school camping trip (the first since her anxiety last fall). She was really excited about the trip, and I am really excited for her! I hope she's having a ton of fun! She spied the graham crackers in the teacher's truck, and she and her friends were excited for s'mores, too! I spent the evening cleaning weird parts of the house that don't get cleaned as often (top of pantry shelves, etc) and spackling things and tightening hinges.

My parents come to visit on Thursday afternoon... do you do those "handyman" things before your family comes to visit?

It Pays to Call

May 3rd, 2016 at 02:59 pm

Just did my checkbook reconciliation for work, and - yikes! - there was a service charge on there!

I have overdraft protection for my business checking and there is about $26,000 in the savings that the overdraft draws from so I was surprised. I could have just let it go; it's just $5, right? But I called my bank, and they explained that the overdraft draws in increments of $100 and I have to keep a minimum of $300 in my account, so I dipped below the minimum amount.

The woman said there was nothing she could do, so I asked if there was someone that could do something because in my mind this isn't really overdraft protection. She connected me to a supervisor, who said she was increasing my increment to $500 to cover the minimum and then some. And she was returning my $5.

The call was only 5 minutes and I was doing work during some of it (while I was on hold). I realize some people don't think $5 is worth it, but I solved a future problem as well, so I'm pretty happy.