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Archive for November, 2007

whirlwind week ahead

November 20th, 2007 at 06:50 pm

Just getting over a stomach bug - the worst! Luckily (I guess), this one was relatively short lived - about 8 hours. It hit me last night when DH and I were on our way out for a nice dinner and shopping afterward. I barely touched dinner, then stayed in the car while he shopped - a big disappoint for me, as we were supposed to be looking for a new ring for me at an Irish import shop (I "misplaced" my engagement ring and wedding band over the summer - still convinced that they will turn up somewhere, as I took them off often around the house due to my eczema, which made my hands swell - he's buying me a simple band for my bday/Christmas that I can wear on my right hand when my other rings turn up). Anyway, I could not even stay in the shop for more than a minute without feeling like I was going to be ill. I briefly thought it could be pregnancy-related nausea (which I have never had), but getting sick later in the night with some other symptoms (which I won't go into here) convinced me that it was either a stomach bug or food poisoning. To make a long story short (I know, too late), I seem to be over it already. But now I want to go shopping!
I'm looking forward to the hustle and bustle of the next few days. Tomorrow I have to take the cat to the vet, go grocery shopping, then meet some girlfriends to bake pies. I'll be helping one friend, who is clueless in the kitchen, bake a pumpkin pie. I told her that the only thing I didn't have was evaporated milk and asked her if she could get it - she asked me if it was in the dairy aisle, or if it came powdered? I see I have to start from the beginning with her!
Our Thanksgiving plans are for dinner #1 at my brother and SILs hew house (built behind ours), then dinner #2 at my MIL's house in Binghamton. We're staying over there, then my family is meeting us in Binghamton on Friday morning to take off for NYC, our early Christmas present from my folks. We'll stay over in Tarrytown, then take the train to the city on Saturday to see the Rockettes and show the kids the city for the first time (reminder: we live on a farm in a town of 2000 - can you say culture shock?). Sat. night we're driving back late into the night, then meeting for a late lunch on Sunday at my SIL's house to celebrate my MIL's birthday. Whew. It will be busy, but I already know I'm going to love every minute of it. Somewhere along the way, we have to break the news of our pregnancy to our parents and siblings - still wondering how to share the news!!

I have to make some changes

November 14th, 2007 at 04:42 pm

I spent the better part of the day going over insurance and investment stuff with my parents and brother. My brother had a consultation with someone from one of the big insurance companies and was confused about what, if anything, he should buy. I *think* we managed to steer him from the whole life, although he was still skeptical about putting $20/mo. into term life for 20 years and "getting nothing" back. Ah well. You can lead a horse to water...
Anyway, I got out some of my paperwork to review with him and found that I could stand to revise some of my insurance too. Right now I have:
Term insurance for me: 3x my salary (roughly $66k given my PT salary). $50k on DH (the max I could get at the time - he couldn't get anything through his job as he was a student), and $4k on my kids (I know, morbid and unecessary, but it costs less than $1/mo). I pay $5.20 per pay period, which comes out to $135.20/annually. I can't up mine any with my current company since I can only ever get 3x my salary, but I did review the newer literature and found out that I can get $100k on DH. Unless he can get something better with his new job, I think I'll make the change now that he actually has income to replace. I can't see it being a substantial raise in price - but we certainly can spare a few more dollars per month given our low rates.
Then I started to look over my car insurance policy. Anyone know how to figure out when it's time to drop collision? We have it on both cars right now, a 2005 Sentra (we'll keep collission on this one) and a 2000 Windstar (it can probably go on this one). It would save $164/yr. off our policy of about $1300. I also want to look into raising our liability limits. I *think* we have 100/300 right now, but I have heard that you really should have more. I guess you can't be too careful these days. Lastly, I'm overdue for my defensive driving course. Rats. I hate taking that thing. The good news is that I get a cheap class through my union - $18 will save me 10% for 3 years. I guess it's a no brainer.

leftovers

November 13th, 2007 at 06:10 pm

Here are a few quick ideas to make new meals from leftovers (BA, are you listening??? We WILL get you cooking!).
1st meal: baked ham (really easy, since they come precooked - just boil and/or bake in the oven).
2nd meals: scalloped potatoes and ham, ham and cheese omelettes, ham sandwiches for an easy lunch.
Finale: ham and bean soup, made with the bone and a bit of leftover ham.

1st meal: Roast chicken (you can even cheat and get the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store - it's actually pretty cost effective, although I do like to roast my own with butter, garlic, rosemary, and sage)
2nd meals: chicken salad sandwiches (add mayo, walnuts, grapes, apples, celery, cheese), chicken fajitas or enchiladas, chicken cacciatore (peppers, onions, tomato sauce)
Finale: What else? Chicken noodle soup (with the bones to make broth, then strain and add leftover chicken, celery, carrots, onion, noodles)

1st meal: TURKEY!!!!!!!!
2nd meals: turkey sandwiches, turkey divan, turkey pasta.
FInale: turkey noodle soup (could you guess?)

1st meal: meatloaf
2nd meals: fried meatloaf sandwiches with cheese and bacon
finale: crumble meatloaf into a soup (add tomatoes or tomato sauce, water, pasta, Italian herbs, and veggies such as zucchini, peas, potatoes, celery, onion, carrots, etc).

1st meal: roast beef
2nd meal: roast beef hash (cubed and fry leftover beef, potatoes, carrots), cold or hot roast beef sandwiches (make gravy or use store-bought for hot beef), shread and season for fajitas or tacos.
Finale: Make soup.

Got it? Of course, you can always just reprise the 1st meal for an encore too. Just thought I would contribute a few new ideas for meals that don't require a lot of new recipes. Once you get the basics down, you can make substitutions depending on what you have on hand (that's how this weekend's meatloaf soup, and the inspiration for this post, came about).

the news

November 12th, 2007 at 06:37 pm

Took another prego test this morning...just to be sure! I know it's silly since you cannot get a false positive, but the lines were so faint on the previous tests that I just couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong (I thought I had heard in the past about "false" pregnancies). Anyway, the line was darker this morning, plus I'm starting to feel a few little symptoms, so I'm much happier today Smile We have to figure out how to break the news to our families in the next few weeks.
DH went out the other day without telling me and bought a $60 coffeepot. Last year, he received a Bunn for Christmas from his mother, who has loved her Bunns for 20 years. It was supposed to last him for 20 years, but it started brewing slower and slower...till it took 45 minutes to brew a pot when it was supposed to take 3. Anyway, he decided on a whim that it could not be fixed and bought a new pot. I looked up the cleaning instructions online in 2 minutes when I saw the new pot (already unpacked and brewing, of course - unreturneable!). He grudgingly cleaned the Bunn and it works GREAT. Grrr. I was a little miffed, but I got over it - it's astounding how different our attitudes can be toward money in just a year. Last year, $60 would have set us back. Now it's just a mistake. We are going to give the new pot to my brother and SIL who just moved into their new house that they built behind ours. They need one.
Speaking of money, on the flip side of that comment, it's also funny how your spending changes when you don't need to worry about money so much. We definitely have been more lax lately (Hi-def DVD player!!). I have been paying off the cc every month, but there hasn't been a month in a while where we haven't had to pay it. In other words, we are still using it too much! I don't like owing money on cc, even when I know it will be paid. So, once the balance is gone, we are back to using it only for gas and Internet purchases. Luckily, I have already figured out where the money for Christmas is coming from (reimbursements from my health care savings and dependent care savings accounts), so no gifts will be going on the ccs. I also am terribly behind on my budgets (3 or 4 months). I am going to try to get to that tomorrow.
I decided not to try for the new position at work - it would have required going full-time, which I am just not ready for, esp. with impending pregnancy. I'm going to stick it out at my job for another nine months, then hopefully be able to take some significant time off (a few years, even) if DH finds a permanent teaching position by then. If not, I'll have to stay on, as his job will not make enough to support us (unless we can get our student loans paid off by then). So much to think about.

It's a blue line!!!

November 8th, 2007 at 07:15 pm

on the prego test. Still quite faint, but it's definitely there Smile There is a baby on board, folks. DH is over the moon...I don't remember him being quite this giddy with the first two. I'm not sure I can take nine months of him!! We're already having fun talking names. I think we have the girl name down (the middle name for sure - Elizabeth - a family name on his side), but we have a long way to go to settle on a boy name. We're not telling anyone (well, besides anyone who reads this!) for a few more weeks - just want to make sure everything is fine. My midwife does not want to see me until I am 8 weeks, so I have another month before I go in. I do have a dilemma - I love my midwife. I really like her so much better than the OB/GYN I used the first time around - but she no longer delivers at our local hospital. Plus, she just moved to a new office 45 minutes away (she used to be 15). Given the frequency that I will need to see her (once monthly, then twice monthly, then weekly), I'm not sure I'm up to making all those trips. The alternative? I don't know if there are even any other local midwives. Plus, the reason she left the local hospital is because it's basically a sub-par hospital (although I had a wonderful birth experience there). If I follow her to her new hospital (my third hospital for my third baby), I don't think my pediatrician will travel to see the baby either. Luckily, I have some time to get this sorted out Smile
One other note about spending: I usually don't give Christmas spending much thought ahead of time, but this year I've got a great plan. I enrolled in the flex spending account at work for 2007 and just realized that I had yet to submit for any money back. In addition, I got a $500 credit for the dependent care account. I am going to submit for both reimbursement, which will be $740, and put it directly into a separate account to be used only for holiday spending. I don't remember the exact amount, but I think we budgeted around $800 for Christmas last year. This should nicely cover the spending Smile

How I...save on my kids' birthday parties

November 4th, 2007 at 10:00 am

(thanks to Amder's blog for inspiring this!)
1. Don't have a party. I had only small family parties for my children's first two birthdays with a homemade dinner and cake (grandparents, a few aunts and uncles). My kids didn't have friends at age 1 - I did. I didn't see a need to invite my friends to my kids' birthday parties, thus obligating them to provide more gifts that my kids didn't need. I don't think any of them were offended by the ommission! When my son turned three and had a few friends from pre-school, we finally had a "friend" party for him because he had friends to invite. We still kept costs down by doing the following:
2. Keep the location free. Ds1's parties have both been at free, public playgrounds with picnic tables. We supplied sheet pizza and homemade cake. The kids can run around to their heart's content. There are no rides, games, or toys that need to be paid for (which means no whining for more). For ds2, who turns 3 this year, we are choosing a hands-on science museum since he has a December birthday. We are purchasing a family membership for $75, which will allow us to go to not only this musuem, but two more in our area, free all year. We will be able to bring two guests with us each time we go. One of our guests also has a family membership, so they do not need to pay. We will bring the other two children in as our guests. We will pay only for any adult who wants to join us (grandparents).
3. Make the food yourself, if possible. We don't follow this all the time - picking up a sheet pizza is vastly easier, plus not terribly expensive. But I have never bought a store-bought cake for my kids' birthdays. I enjoy the process of making and decorating it for them. I have also made plain cupcakes in the past and brought icing and sprinkles for the kids to decorate themselves - it was a big hit. The kids had fun and the activity took up some time to give them a break from running around.
4. Skip the goodie bags, or hit the dollar store. I'm not a huge fan of the toys and candy that usually come in goodie bags, but I still do provide them (I guess because I feel obligated? When did this become mandatory?). Anyway, the dollar store has a lot of little trinkets that kids enjoy. I have done coloring books with a box of crayons in the past, or hair ties for girls and Spiderman Pez dispensers for the boys. The girls had their hair ties in before the party was even over Smile
5. Limit the guests. I never understood a three year old having 20 kids at their party! Or the concept of inviting an entire classroom of kids, some of whom your child is not even friends with. Am I going to hurt someone's feelings at some point by not inviting their kid? Well, probably. But it's my kid's party, and they can invite who they want. And I am NOT going to be responsible for 20 five year olds. My kid's parties have about 5 kids, mostly cousins at that age. It's very manageable and not too overwhelming for the kids. All the kids know and like each other - no one is left out.
6. Limit the decorations. My kids have not been mad at me yet for lack of decorations. I think the most I have done is a handful of balloons at their parties. Honestly, they are too busy running around having fun to care. If you want to decorate, get a bag of balloons and a roll of streamers at the dollar store. Skip the themed parties (matching plates, cups, napkins, etc.) and get plain paper goods. Reuse your plastic silverware (my mom has a few buckets that have been around since I was a kid - I'm surprised because I have never seen anyone else save and reuse these. We have at least one big party per year, but rarely have to replenish our plastic silverware).
7. Have the kids entertain themselves. Due to my kids' ages (2 and 4), they really have not needed to be entertained yet at a party (the playground is entertainment enough). But, when they do get older, I can plan activities such as treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, sprinklers, swimming, etc. that are free. Kids are marvelous at making their own fun. Skip the clowns, oversized bouncy houses (ok, these are a lot of fun, but expensive!), characters, etc.
8. Skip it altogether. I haven't done this yet, but I can see the appeal in giving your child a choice between a party and, say, a trip to a favorite park or movie. He or she might opt for a quieter, family outing rather than a party, saving you some cash AND stress.

Sick again

November 3rd, 2007 at 06:02 pm

We've been fighting the runny noses and coughs in our household for about a week. First it was ds2...then ds1...now me. I'm trying desperately to keep it from spreading to the other three adults here, esp. my dad, who's 73 and takes a bit longer to recover from anything respiratory-related. Meaning, my hands (alreday eczema affected) are completely chapped from frequent, frequent washing! It will be worth it if we can keep this thing contained. The bad news is that ds2 was just diagnosed with walking pneumonia, which has a 1-3 week incubation period - so we were all exposed before we knew it. I'm definitely feeling it now. I had my dad listen to my lungs with his stethoscope (he's no doctor, but he is a farmer - good enough for me Smile) and he thought they sounded clear - but if I don't feel better tomorrow, I'm getting myself to Urgent Care to be checked out. I have the most severe sore throat and am SO tired.
But the exciting news (maybe) - tomorrow morning I am taking a home prego test. I'm not late yet, but for my past two pregnancies, I was able to test positive before I was actually late. I figured tomorrow might be the earliest that I can get a good reading. I really, really hope I have some good news tomorrow. It would, at least, explain the exhaustion!

How I ...

November 1st, 2007 at 08:34 am

Am I allowed to reference a past post for this contest???


http://jodi.savingadvice.com/2007/10/27/how-to-costume-four-...