Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Set up a separate account where you can accrue money in a timely, budgeted manner for those large premiums that hit you once, or twice a year. The advent of safe, electronically linked accounts makes it easier than ever to open a savings separate from your checking where you can arrange regularly scheduled withdrawals and deposits without a minimum balance, and often with a decent interest rate. ING Direct is a workhorse for our family, giving me the ability to set aside insurance premiums, yearly membership fees, subscription renewals, and so forth. Getting the funds out of my checking insures that I don't inadvertently spend what isn't really mine! And you can add up to two linked ATM accounts, perfect for a His and Hers miscellaneous. Now, Christopher and I know exactly how much money we can spend on our own frivolities, while also resting assured that the big premium due at the end of the month is safely tucked away, in full. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I am nesting... although what I am doing looks closer to a crazed woman forgetting to take her green pill, and trying to act normal without it! Something in me clicked about 3 weeks ago, and I don't know if anyone, myself included, is going to survive.
So far I have painted two bedrooms, settled on final themes for the boys' room, the master bedroom, and getting closer to a decision in the girls' room. I purchased the much anticipated large area rug for my living room, and awkwardly unrolled it by myself (because I wasn't willing to wait an hour until my husband got home). I dragged Christopher to Home Depot, where we special ordered the mirrored closet doors for our bedroom, and when I got home I got the idea of going back to purchase, and install, bi-fold louvered closet doors for the kids' rooms. I am planning on checking into them this weekend. I have the girls' bedroom to paint (pale pink, with stripes on one wall), pictures to take (black and white of the kids) and frame, the schedule to make for everyone watching the kids while I am in the hospital, care to arrange, and transportation to finalize. I have a vinnette pictured for the end of my bed, and now I just need to find the perfect, slightly distressed, black ladder-back chair to complete it. My kitchen is nearly finished, with a carpenter coming today to install the two missing drawers absent since escrow. I will need to paint them, but that's minor! I have vines I purchased which need to be planted, weeds which need to be pulled, indoor plants which need to be hung, outdoor plants which need to be pruned. The baby clothes need washing, moses basket trimmed, layette purchased, hospital bag packed, toenails painted, hair cut, and allergy appointments managed for several of the kids. My auto-pay bills need to be confirmed, and any necessary hand-paid bills must be arranged so they don't fall due while I am in the hospital, or during my immediate recovery at home. I want to wash the slipcovers on my couch and chair, do a thorough linen change for the entire house, scrub the bathrooms, and mop my entire home (hardwood floors). I have clothes to finish sorting, packing, and stacking, at least 2 trips to the Salvation Army in the works, a television to offload, and one AWANA trophy that desperately needs a home other than my mantle.
I don't think this is unreasonable. I think that may be an unreasonable thing to think.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
When Christopher and I were first married we had a mouse in our house. Yikes! He stuck around long enough that we named him, Reepicheep. My husband, being the strong, masculine, leader of our home, wanted to purchase the standard "they haven't made a better one" mousetrap but I, being the delicate and sensitive blushing bride, wished a far more humane option. Christopher, much to his chagrin, purchased Glue Boards which advertised the safe capture of mice, giving the option of release back into the wilds. Perfect!
We set the board up in our cupboard, and the next day I found a mouse conveniently stuck to it. I was elated, although a little surprised at the obvious state of desperation Reepicheep was in. I read the instructions for the safe release of this harmless creature. I had to use mineral oil to slide the mouse off the super-sticky board, and into a container. I followed each step, and soon had a slathered-in-oil mouse frantically cheeping in a bucket on my countertop. But then it happened... that mouse JUMPED! I had no idea mice could jump, let alone roughly the height of the Eiffel Tower. But up he went, and splat into the sink he landed. I acted quickly, turning the bucket upside down onto the squirming fur-ball in the bottom of my sink. Now all I had to do was figure out a way to slide a board under the bucket and all would be set. Except I hadn't counted on the drain, and precisely the instant I realized the possible hazard of that mouse-hole looking opening - PLOP, down went the mouse into my drain. Great.
So, I did what any independent, newly married, domestic goddess would do. I called my husband (who worked 45 minuted away) and cried out, "What am I doing to do now?" I explained everything, even making it clear that I had used a flashlight and running water to try and entice the mouse to jump out of his hole, but all to no avail. As much as I wanted a humane capture and release of this innocent animal, I certainly wasn't daft enough to stick my hand into the drain to try and grab the mouse by force. After all, mice bit and carried disease!
"There is only one thing you can do, Trisha. Turn on the garbage disposal." WHAT! I was incredulous. He wanted me to grind this poor thing to smithereens. I flatly refused, telling him there was no way I could be that heartless and cruel. At that profound statement I rounded the corner in my tiny apartment only to see steam billowing out of the kitchen sink. AHHHH! I had inadvertently turned the hot water on, rather than the cold, and was now surely searing Reepicheep to death. "Christopher, I am scalding it to death!" Again, the cold and determined voice of my husband rang loud and clear, "Trisha, turn on the disposal, now." I squealed, I fretted, I stood immobilized while the hot water kept gushing into the drain until finally I shouted, "Fine!" I flipped the switched, ran shrieking out of the kitchen and sobbed into the phone, "Are you happy? I did it." Christopher calmly told me to make sure I poured bleach down the drain before declaring his love, and a pressing meeting he had scheduled. We have dealt with a few mice since then, but my willingness to see them exterminated quickly has given me the proper perspective for the, "they haven't made a better one" mousetrap.
Recently we found signs of a mouse in our new home, and Christopher dutifully set a trap in our garage. The following day all the bait was gone, but the trap was intact. Humph. We tried again, and again, but each morning we found an empty trap with no mouse. How on earth were they getting the bait without triggering the trap? We were stumped, and a little irritated. The single mouse turned into two, and their boldness was becoming increasingly annoying. We finally caught one after setting the trigger to ultra-sensitive. But a few more days of empty traps were wearing on our nerves when last night the second mouse practically ran over Christopher's foot while he stood at our sink. We put the kids to bed, rebaited our trap, barely hinged the spring, and set it in the middle of our kitchen floor before we sat down to watch a movie. Not ten minutes later we heard the decidedly lethal snap of the trap doing its job. Yes! We sat back, and prepared to finish our movie in smug exultation when, not 15 minutes later, a mouse peeped out from under the chair in our living room!
This was war.
Christopher grabbed a fresh trap, baited it and set it up along the baseboard of our living room. We flushed the mouse from his hiding place under the chair and trapped him in the corner behind the entertainment armoire. We turned the movie back on, to lure the little brute into a sense of security, and proceeded to stare at the trap. Sure enough within five minutes that beast was nibbling at our prepared morsel. We were holding our breath, waiting for the trap to spring. But it didn't budge. We sat mesmerized as that horrid little thing ate through all our bait not once, but twice! That was it. I was done.
"Get out the vacuum!" I declared. I grabbed a hunk of cheese off the block, stuffed it into the hose of my vacuum, laid the opening next to the armoire and sat, finger poised on the trigger while Christopher made sure the rascal didn't escape around the other side. We sat. We waited. Then suddenly out he popped, and scurried right past the hose until something caught his nose. He stopped. He sniffed in the air. He made his way back to the hose opening, and took a cautious step into the tube. Another. Still another, until all but his tail was lost in the tube and... WHAM, I threw the switch and head the satisfying thunk as the mouse was sucked through the hose, and into the vacuum bag! Christopher and I were jubilant, yelling congratulations and slapping high-fives. It wasn't until several moments later that the hilarity of my history with standard mouse-trapping and killing techniques was truly appreciated. Who says they haven't made a better mousetrap? Garbage disposals and vacuum cleaners seem pretty cutting edge to me.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
There are at least as many theories about grocery shopping on a budget as there are grocery stores. Dozens of books line the shelves guaranteeing easy, instant savings of thousands if you only use their proven approach to meal preparation. I am sure much of what they say is true. And I also know that I don't have the time to clip coupons, sort coupons, remember coupons, use coupons, and manage my grocery shopping around specialized coupon days. I have a family to feed.
Then I learned about something remarkable called, loss leaders. These charming little sales are used by grocery stores to lure you into their business in the hopes that you will ultimately spend more money than if you were to never enter their building. Pretty good guess. And for most people it probably does the trick. But, if you are an informed buyer, like I am about to make you, then you can take full advantage of sales where the store actually loses money on the deal, keep the extra cash you are saving, and come away with meal plans to boot! Here's how it works:
The mid-week circulars you get in your mail from local grocery stores have a plethora of "bargains" printed on their pages. However, the front and back pages are loss leaders, sales the store is losing money on. The front page is usually given to meats, the back to fresh veggies and fruits. Rather than premeditating a meal plan for the week, trying to find and fit coupons into that preexisting meal plan, and then shopping to fulfill it you can actually save more time and money beginning with the loss leaders.
Check the 2 or 3 circulars you receive, and note what meat looks the most appealing for the least amount of expense. This isn't always chicken! Beautiful cuts of red meat can be had for pennies if you keep your eyes peeled. Once you have decided on the meat you can breeze through your recipe book for a couple of different meals which include that cut. For instance, pot roast is on sale and you decide to make pot roast by itself one night, shepherd's pie one night, and finally sloppy joes for another meal. Turning to the back page you see what fruits and veggies are on sale. This is great because it often means you are eating what is fresh, in season, and most nutritious. Think outside of corn, potatoes, and carrots. Broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, fresh green beans, spinach and others have wonderful tastes, and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Fruit is a great desert item, and carries a significantly better nutritional punch than typical ice creams or candies. Cantaloupe, peaches, apricots, melons, plums, oranges, and different kinds of apples can be sliced fresh for an easy tossed fruit salad, baked for a warm surprise, or served on top of cottage cheese.
Regardless of how you chose to utilize the loss leaders, I encourage you to use them. Taking advantage of sales that don't require the coupon overhead is a great way to save money and time!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Leah has a few friends. One is Ariel. Sally is another. Hotspotch is a third. Ariel plays only when she is not nearing death either as a result of disciplinary action taken against her using the penal code for lying to Leah or, some fatal wound she incurred while going about her business-as-usual. Sally doesn't say much, since she is usually in Leah's tummy awaiting birth. And Hotspotch doesn't like Caleb, so the two can't play much because Leah has some, albeit fickle, familial loyalty. Take, for example, the following conversation overheard between Caleb and Leah in reference to Hotspotch.
Hotspotch doesn't like you Caleb. I don't play with him very much because he could beat you out.
Leah, Hotspotch couldn't beat me out.
Yep, he could Caleb.
Because he is big. And he doesn't like you.
But I don't like Hotspotch.
No, Caleb. Really! You are just plain 5, and I am just plain 4, but Hotspotch isn't even regular 6 he is real 6, and he can beat you out.
*gives an exasperated sigh* Leah! It isn't "beat you out" it's "beat you up." And Hotspotch can't even touch me, because I have so much real army gear that I could totally win.
Word must have reached Hotspotch about Caleb's covert-ops training (gear), because he has taken to cover leaving only Leah to defend his "real 6" prowess.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Backup. One of life's little lessons that you learn only when your computer has crashed, and taken your life with it! Take the time to backup. Take the time to do it, again. Take the time to do it on a separate drive. Take the time to make a hard copy off your computer. Take the time. Backup.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
We have accepted a biblical worldview as our paradigm for life. This means that our goal is to base all of our beliefs, as well as all our actions, on the truths taught in the bible. We work hard to train our children to understand that we do not simply choose, arbitrarily, the rules which govern our home. Our hope is that by explaining to them that we answer to a higher calling they can learn to appreciate the reasons behind our decisions, and not just submit begrudgingly. Occasionally this has a rather comedic side - like when our children decide to throw a little bible at us for their disobedience. Tonight was a great example!
Caleb was struggling with diligence. He was lolligagging, dilly-dallying, and generally shirking his responsibilities by simply wasting time. After a rather stern series of discussions, some unpleasant consequences, and a final opportunity to prove himself, he was once again working to follow through with his chore in a timely manner. He came across a single hairband that belonged in the girls' room, and proceeded to leave his current duty to put it away. This action should have taken all of 30 seconds, since our house is roughly the size of a matchbox, and the hairband only needed to be placed on top of the girls' dresser. Nearly 4 full minutes later Caleb sauntered back to his original duty.
Son, that should not have taken you that much time. What took you so long?
I was taking my time.
Caleb, I have explained to you multiple times this evening that you need to work on your diligence. When I tell you to do something you should do it quickly, efficiently, and with a good attitude.
Well, the bible says we should take our time.
Really? Where does it say that?
I don't know. But it should.
I chuckled to myself! The conversation could have been between me and God - trying to rationalize any number of behaviors, habits, or desires that are unbiblical but to which I continue to stubbornly hold.
And he [Jesus] said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Thursday, March 05, 2009
The following will make little sense to you if you have not first read my blog entry: And Now... A Word From Our Sponsor.
My mom thought that Gaviscon would get a kick out of hearing from one of their satisfied customers, and so emailed the link to the above-mentioned blog entry. She received the following reply a short while later.
We have received your e-mail regarding Gaviscon® antacid.
It's always a pleasure to hear from a satisfied customer and we're glad to hear that you are enjoying such good results from using our product.
We think it's a great product as well and it's good to know that it's working so well for you. We appreciate your taking the time to contact us and will pass along your communication to some of the other people who are on the Gaviscon® team. We all love messages like yours!
The blog from the link, indicated that your daugter was trying to gag down on Tums. We would like to personally address her concerns. So please have her call one of our Representatives at the number listed below.
She can reach us toll-free at 1-800-897-7535 weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. When she calls, please have her refer to the Case ID number below and have the product in hand. We appreciate your taking the time to contact us.
GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare
I was intrigued, to say the least, by the fact that they obviously read my blog, and were interested in following up with my Tums ordeal. Was I being chosen to be a new spokeswoman? Were they going to ask if they could reimburse me in order to use my testimony? I figured I was easily on my way to independent wealth.
I called, and after the initial frustration of being on hold for 15 minutes, being disconnected during a transfer, and then waiting an additional 1o minutes to get back to a human I was finally explaining to the GlaxoSmithKline representative the reason for my call.
Yes, we are concerned with your struggle to "gag down Tums." We want to make sure you are okay.
Oh. Ummm, well, yes I am fine.
Because we don't want anyone gagging down their antacid. Was their a particular problem you were facing?
Uhh, a particular problem? I just don't like them.
So they were causing you to gag?
Do you know what a blog is?
Well, I write a blog about my life and my family. I sometimes use the entries to make funny anecdotes. I wrote this blog in the style of an old TV commercial, and was using figurative language to express my distaste for Tums. I don't like the texture, the taste, and I don't find the job they do sufficient enough to warrant sacrificing these unpleasantries.
So, it is the taste you just don't like?
Right. I mean, I am not trying to swallow them whole or anything!
Okay. I am glad to hear that.
*laughing* Oh goodness, no! I just made an exaggerated statement to communicate my thoughts more clearly. I am surprised that you are so concerned about my dislike for Tums. I wouldn't have thought a company would care so much about someone's thoughts regarding a competitive product. Unless... do you make Tums as well?
Yes, we do.
Ahhh! That explains all of this! I couldn't figure out why, more than my glowing report of Gaviscon, the email was so intent on my disappointment with Tums. Well, let me thank you for your concern but, I know how to eat them. I am not trying to swallow 10 of them whole. I simply do not like the taste, and do not find them very successful in managing my pregnancy induced heartburn.
And with that we ended our conversation, with me barely controlling my laughter until I hung up the phone. Apparently, had I been more interested in gleaning untold amounts of wealth as a Gaviscon spokesman, I should have done a bit more research on the company, including the many other products they no doubt manufacture. Perhaps I should have used Rolaids as my nemesis. But then that would not have been true, since I have no idea if Rolaids is effective on my heartburn or not. Although I get the feeling advertising agencies, and indeed manufacturing companies themselves are not always interested in the truth.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Vertical storage is a divine gift. It just takes a little thought reordering to put it to practical use! I have come to believe mightily in getting things off of horizontal surfaces as much as possible. The temptation to stack, the collection of dust, and the ongoing need to create more horizontal (read table, desk, bookshelf) space is never ending. The solution? Hang it on the wall.
Hooks (for those of you who have been with me for a while know my already obsessive passion for hooks) are an incredible invention. Keys, towels, purses, jackets, backscratchers, backpacks, bathrobes, and aprons are a start for what can be managed with hooks. Towel bars take up a lot more space, and require you to fold your towels in order to utilize the space for more than one bath towel. Hooks allow your towels to dry without being folded, and you can hang several in the space it would take to position one towel bar. And don't just think of standard hooks, but dual sided screws make using cute drawer pulls another option for this space saving technique.
Baskets are another useful device, especially when hung - and not just for decoration. Incoming mail can be dropped in a basket hung by the office door rather than collecting in a heaping stack on the kitchen counter. Another basket hung on the wall above your desk can hold sorted bills awaiting payment. A large basket hung on the wall in the bathroom can covertly hide hair dyers, curling irons, and brushes, freeing up drawer space. Baskets come in more than just woven woods, including canvas and metal.
Lastly, shelves (a nod to horizontal space) can be hung on the wall in specific locations where a few containers are needed without an entire bookshelf. A small shelf hung right inside the front door can be a home for wallet and change that's' above the reach of little fingers. A floating glass shelf can show off a ceramic, house a collection of small knick-knacks, or hold a bud vase with a sprig of seasonal blooms without cluttering your coffee table!
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Today Christopher and I celebrate 12 years of marriage. It has been an exciting ride! The Lord has blessed us with 6 beautiful children, and a 7th coming in just under two months. Together, we worked hard to purchase our 1st home (which will be ours after 355 more payments *wink*). We have learned things about one another (Christopher likes mariachi music, no joke!), and have grown to appreciate the things that are different in our tastes (I'm a homebody). We have worked through some difficult times, seen next to nothing in our checking account, lost loved ones, and travelled some bitter months when we couldn't seem to speak the same language regardless of the topic! However, we are still madly in love with one another, and continually marvel that it really wasn't just yesterday that we took our vows. God has been gracious to us, giving us the opportunity to embrace our romance through thick and thin; and the din of children's voices arguing over who is going to surprise us more with their version of anniversary bliss.