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Archive for May, 2017

Huge Grocery Bill- what happened?

May 28th, 2017 at 01:09 am

Not sure why our grocery bill was so big this week! I didn't buy much last week, so that's part of it, but still.

Other anomaly this week was that we had friends over this evening... so I bought things I wouldn't normally buy like sparking lemonade, an artichoke dip, sour cream for dip, etc. How much do you usually budget for get-togethers like this? According to receipts I spent about $28 and D got beer and wine last night which was $14.

Also - I'm making chicken queso casserole this week which will feed us for a couple of days.

And it's memorial day so I wanted to bbq something - I bought chicken and veggies to do kebabs.

We buy a lot of veggies and fruit; do you follow the 5 a day plan?
I think we are more than 5 a day.

Looking at the receipt, I also had to stock up on a couple of staples: res wine vinegar ($2), almond butter for D ($7!) and vanilla (also $7 but lasts 6 months).

A lot of this will take us into next week, so that's good, and there was leftover food from the party.

The rest of the meal plan:
Sunday - pasta with peas and turkey bacon
Monday - bbq chicken/courgettes/red onion/red pepper kebabs, corn on the cob
Tuesday - bad breath pasta (spinach, olives, capers, balsamic)
Wednesday - chicken queso casserole with kale chips on the side
Thursday - tostadas with refried beans, lettuce, salsa, sour cream and roasted broccoli
Friday - graduation dinner out!
Saturday - party and we don't have to bring anything!

Update on End of School Trip and Lots of Spending

May 26th, 2017 at 11:02 pm

Hi everyone... thought I'd give a quick update on F's end of the school year trip. Well, it didn't go well. Her anxiety was triggered by two things: she scraped her leg and was in a river and freaked herself out about it getting infected (but didn't ask the teachers for polysporin) and at camp, they used a communal washbasin which she declared completely unhygienic and then freaked out that she was going to get some awful disease from it. So there you go, her anxieties in a nutshell (oh, that and a fear of unhealthy foods and habits like too much screen time; it's a health thing).

She called me hysterical, and I had to pick her up. I wanted to go, pop in, calm her down, get a nearby hotel and see if I could get her to stay. The teachers felt the same, but the person at the camp (not part of the school) said that F would be compromising the "group continuity" if I came and went, or if she came and went. (By the way, these kids have been together for 6 years, so to me that is group continuity, and plus they all know F and her anxiety. It's not a secret, and the kids are all super supportive).

Plus, she was promised an alternative to one particularly scary part of the experience (walking 30' in the air in a slot canyon by pushing on either side) and the camp person said that there wouldn't be an alternative. I was asked to take her and not return.

So, step one was to calm F down, and explain that just getting in that van and driving 3 hours was an accomplishment given her fears, and spending the night was an accomplishment. She kept saying "you're not mad at me?" and said she felt like the adults all hated her and just wanted her to go.

Step two was to give her an alternative experience and not punish her for trying this trip, but reward her. I mean, she could have refused to go at all, but she tried so hard!

I took her to a hike at this crazy volcano and ice cave, then out to lunch (if you are ever in Grants, NM, which you won't be, this place is awesome). We got a hotel, and stayed the night and went to Acoma Pueblo the next day where we met the nicest Australians on our tour, and then to the Sandia Tram in Albuquerque where we went on another hike. None of this was super cheap, but it was worth it, and the money was in the vacation fund. We are not doing a big trip this year, so this mother-daughter thing was so worth it.

Now, back home, and I am just hoping that this doesn't break her confidence.

So, step 3 is to have a better plan for the upcoming Fall trip at her new school.
- I am thinking an opt-in configuration rather than opt-out. So instead of the "pick me up!" phone call, I will plan on picking her up unless she calls to say "I can stay." That was she will know that she only has to get to a certain point.
- Even if I go pick her up at the designated time, I want to work out with the school advisor that it could be a 10 minute hello and she can stay after we talk for a few minutes. Just seeing me for a few minutes and knowing I'm not hours away may be enough for her to stay.
- Work out that there is one person, not several, who help her if she is having a panic attack.
- Talk to her advisor and the middle school head and work out all the details ahead of time.
- If she is promised an alternative, they need to stick to that promise.
- Discussion with the advisor and middle school head about anxiety and that this isn't just an overprotected kid; we may ask the psychologist she saw last year for a letter.

Honestly, I think my wonderful daughter should be praised up and down for how she manages this. She is a straight-A student and an amazing athlete. She doesn't have social anxiety or school anxiety or public speaking anxiety. No one can even tell there's an issue. She meditates and has great techniques for managing her anxiety. But this was pushing her waaaaay past her comfort zone, and she still wanted to do the trip! So kudos to her!

The Next Couple of Days

May 20th, 2017 at 09:46 pm

Packing for F's school trip next week. It's a 3-night overnight which is hard for both her and me, but packing actually helps, because this way we know she'll be prepared. It's a control thing.

She is borrowing some of my things so that we don't have to buy anything except for a new notebook to write in. We'll go to Office Depot today. We have some little partly used notebooks, but I thought that for minimal cost it will be something nice and new to have that she can pick out herself.

She is taking my wool socks, my long underwear and a pair of my shoes (we share shoes, but I think soon her foot will be bigger than mine). D's headlamp. My sleeping bag (zero degree bag!).

While she is at the camp, I will be doing a lot of cleaning. Free. And watching Doctor Who (behind three episodes). Free. And working hard so that I can finish my work and have time when she's at home this summer to go to the pool a lot. Free.

Goal is no spending while she's away. I am saving so that we can go to a fancy dinner for her graduation from 6th grade.

I got an email from the school, and talked to the mom of one of F's classmates who has an older child who went on this trip 3 years ago, and they said they'll be sending email updates. One of the four teachers has been texting me to see how F is doing and said she'll text me. Another of the four teachers had a long talk with F and she felt better afterward.

I told him about the meditation app we use (it's called Calm and we do 7 days to calming anxiety over and over, not just for 7 days). Free, by the way.

Most of the kids just don't seem to care about going away, but as many of you know, F has some anxiety issues, and this trip pushes all of her buttons (separation from me, not knowing every last detail, not being completely in control).

On the flip side, she has no anxiety about school, public speaking or tests or anything like that. She just did a beautiful presentation with two friends on gender stereotypes. It was fun and engaging and all three girls were equally poised and prepared. The dad of a girl who was in another group (they, ironically, did stress/depression/anxiety) said that clearly F's group was the best. But they were really into the topic and spent a ton of time on it.

Also, not anxious about friendships stuff. We just went to see the 7th/8th grade musical (yes, free!) over at the school she's going to next year. And she saw a bunch of kids she knows in the audience and on stage. That's the advantage of a small town.

Next stop: the library which is open until 6 pm to pick up a book F read about. Free!!!

Update on All Sorts of Stuff

May 5th, 2017 at 10:48 pm

Our Coach: left today to stay with another family. I think this is the last coach we're hosting. I am sending the sheets through the wash twice (they smell like perfume!) and airing out the duvet. F didn't connect with this coach (she was kind of negative) and the smell-thing is just too hard for me. Even though we explained weeks before she arrived that she couldn't use perfume or scented products, she did anyway, and probably thought I wouldn't notice. I felt really ill one evening, and it's just not worth it.

Dinner Tonight: General Tso's chicken, rice, Chinese cabbage - a Chinese Fakeaway!

D's New Job: will start on June 5. In the meantime he gets to talk with HR about benefits. I've never worked for a big organization like this myself, so the idea of HR is pretty exciting to me. We will be putting aside an extra $140/month for gasoline, but I know he can carpool at least once a week.

Mortgage Principal: Got $65 for a craigslist sale yesterday and $64 from the gym today. We now owe $8722. Someone said "Oh, you should just pay it off now." That is a super weird thing to say - if we had an extra $8722 we would definitely put it toward mortgage principal!

Dog Fence: We need to fence in a small area for our dog. That is one of the things we'll do when D starts getting paychecks from the new job. But for right now it'll have to wait. Priorities. But I will submit the fence plan to our homeowner's association next week so that we can start when we're ready.

Soccer Tournament: A game at 9 and the next one at 2. What do you do for 3 hours between games? We may go to Albuquerque and get spring rolls. And then Sunday: game at 9, and maybe game at 2 (they'll need to win one of the other three games to earn a fourth game). There's no time to shop for food this weekend. Or clean. So I just vacuumed half the house and cleaned the birdcage, and put in a load of laundry. I'll clean the bathroom tonight.

Meal Plan for this Week:
- Chinese dinner
- tostadas
- ‚Äčlemon crumbed fish, rice, veg
- mexican eggs
- chicken in crockpot
- sausage pasta
- freezer with salad (basketball night)
- grilled cheese, tomato soup

Big News - Husband's New Job!

May 4th, 2017 at 03:21 pm

Oh my gosh - so excited! D applied for a job with the best employer in our state last year, but it's a government entity and moves at a glacial pace. Then they paused the hiring process. But a month ago they called him again and said that they were going to put the job back out and they wanted him to apply. His current work situation is fine (not great), but there has always been the background threat that it might close (several reasons). And his coworker who he really liked just got a new job about 2 weeks ago.

Anyway, the new employer called yesterday to tell him he got the job, and the salary is... $34,000 more than he's making now. I am not kidding. We are stunned.

Here's the brand new financial situation:
Me: $45,000 per year (perks are my business pays for health insurance and our celphones and home internet; I am self-employed so flexible hours)
D: $88,000 per year (perks are he gets health insurance and we get subsidized health insurance, a lot more vacation time, 401k with matching. What will cost more: gas to get there, maybe some clothes since it's a less casual environment).

Here is the debt that we need to deal with:
- $2680 that we owe back to ourselves for the tax bill we had on April 15 (we are paying ourselves back bit by bit)
- $2119 estimated taxes due June 15 (ugh - but my business will give a distribution for some of it since it's because of business profit last year)
- $8850 left on mortgage
- $?? - need to build a dog fence for our dog - not sure how much this will cost
- We have enough money to make the September school payment, but not enough to pay the October payment (short by $500) - but now we can cover this until our mortgage is paid off!