Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reading Challenge: What I Read in August

2016 Reading Challenge

1.  A book published this year
2.  A book you should have read in school, but didn't
3.  A  book you have been meaning to read
4.  A book with an interesting cover
5.  A book you own but haven't read
6.  A book that received bad reviews
7.  A book with water on the cover
8.  A book in a genre you have never read
9.  A favorite book from your childhood
10.  A book by an author you have never read before
11.  A book that deals with an issue close to your heart
12.  A book "everyone" has read but you
13.  A book about the decade you were born in
14.  A book based on a true story
15.  A book set in the summer
16.  A book set in a country you wish to visit
17.  A Young Adult best seller
18.  A book that's longer than 500 pages
19.  A book that makes you smarter
20.  A book you can finish in a day
21.  RA NY Times best seller
22.  A book about a culture with which you are unfamiliar
23.  A book with an apocalyptic theme
24. A book set during Christmas time
25.  A funny book
26.  A book with a one word title
27.  A popular author's first book
28.  A cookbook
29.  A book by someone with the same first name as you
30.   A book of your choosing

Not much reading happened in August.  Maybe it was all the fun we were having?  Or all the driving I was doing for the Guppies?  Whatever the reason, I read only one book in August.  But, at least it was a good one!  =)

26.  A book with a one word title
Revival by Stephen King
Jamie Morton is a six year old boy living in a very small town in Maine when Reverend Jacobs, his wife, and son move to town to become the new minister.  Everyone loves the new minister until his wife and son are killed in a tragic accident and the grieving Jacobs delivers "The Terrible Sermon" on the Thanksgiving after his family dies.  The town decides to banish him but Jamie never forgot the last sermon his beloved reverend ever made.  In what appears to be a twist of fate, a heroin addicted mid thirty year old Jaime meets up with the reverend again at a travelling carnival of all places.  Reverend Jacobs, who had always been obsessed with electricity, has a side show going there but, when he discovers Jaime's drug addiction, claims he can "cure" him through the use of "secret electricity".  And, much to Jaime's disbelief, it works but at what cost? And how far will Reverend Jacobs take his obsession with this secret electricity?  And, what rips in reality is he making in the process?
It's no secret that I am a fan of Stephen King.  But, while he can spin an amazing story, I am well aware that sometimes his endings can be quite flat or underwhelming.  However, this book doesn't disappoint and the ending is actually very well written and slightly terrifying!  It was a solid five out of five stars and one of my favorite King books to date.

Burned Out...

I have debated whether or not to write this post all day today. 

In the end...

Here I am.

Life is messy.

And, I am nowhere near perfect.

But, I am going to be honest....

I don't have it in me to tally my August groceries.  I have a decent idea of what was spent and it was way over target.

So, yes, another month screwed up.  I don't think I have reached goal (or very close to goal) since I started this blog - which is extremely depressing at the moment.

I know I need to re-evaluate everything budget wise.  I even know what I have to do to get closer to my budget goals.  It's just in the execution I get lost.

A whole new month begins tomorrow and the guppies are back in school.  Perfect time for me to (yet again) re-focus.

After all, I have to just keep trying to get it right.

For today though, I'm going to sit here and lick my wounds a bit longer.

And rally tomorrow in full force!

One of these days I'll get it right.

It just isn't today.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Closing the Books on August....

I'm starting to "close the books" for some of August's budget so to speak and wanted to start with my "successes" because....Whoa!  That grocery total isn't going to be pretty and I'm putting that off until tomorrow!  LOL

For now, let's talk success!

Pet Supplies: $150

So, if you remember my post back towards the beginning of the month, I decided to allocate $150 towards pet supplies - one large chocolate lab, one ferret, and one elderly bunny.  I had spent $74.49 previously and had a few more things to buy.  Was I able to stay under budget?  YES!

I spent only an additional $36.09 for:

Another bag of food from Mom & Pop feed store around the corner

Another bag of dog food - sadly I can't use the kind I had the coupons for anymore.  Even though it was by the same brand/company, this recipe was making my dog's digestive track wonky.  Sorry but saving $4 bucks on a bag and then having your dog get sick in the middle of the night and barf all over the place isn't saving anything in my book.  I bought a bag of the old stuff and within a day my pup was back to her old self!

Under budget by:  $39.42!!!

I'll be keeping this in mind looking forward to September's budget and may make some adjustments.  Of course, I never did have to buy the bunny more hay (yet) so I'll have to give this line item some thought.

BUT....I'm so happy to be able to record a success!!!!

Health, Bath, & Beauty:  $125

If you recall, I also posted about buying myself some hair color from CVS that G1 and her BFF applied for me.  The total cost was $13.80 and left me with $111.20 for the month.  Let's see how I did!

To be completely upfront however, let me say that I pushed back all the vitamins we needed and that's something I need to take care of at the beginning of September now that some of these are almost or completely out.  Again, I will have to possibly adjust the budget for next month.  We will see.

Okay now to what additional money I spent...

Body Shop:  $30***
*** I can't find the receipt!  I think I may have thrown it out because the only Body Shop receipt I have is G1's!  It's killing me here but I KNOW I spent less than $30 BUT I can't remember how much less.  (((sigh)))***
Here's what we got there:
1 bottle of facial wash
1 bottle of facial toner
3 single (trial) sized face masks - I remember these were 3/$5

Ulta:  $38.26
2 large bottle of Joico color infused conditioner
1 large bottle of Joico color infused shampoo
While these may seem extremely pricey for shampoo & conditioner, they really work very well in keeping the red color in G1's dyed hair!  In the end, it helped extend time between her trips to the salon so I consider it still a "frugal" buy.

Under budget by:  $64.54!!!

So, just for today, I will be happy in the fact that I rocked these two categories!  And, if I am up for it, I'll tackle my receipts and add up the nasty truth on the groceries tomorrow!  Haha!

Have a great Tuesday!!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Surviving the First Day and A Weird Question....

It appears we all survived the first day back to school!  I got a brief rundown from both Guppies....G1 filled me in a bit before she went to take a nap - readjusting to the school schedule is hard work LOL!  G2's rundown was brief too but, considering she had a bunch of close friends here after school with her, they were all talking at once and I got more of an overall view of a freshman's first day of high school!    I'm bound to find out more over dinner tonight.

Speaking of which... I took a short cut and grabbed us a rotisserie chicken and will just make the sides.  Not very frugal I know but still better than takeout, right?

You see, I have been up since 5:30 this morning - very early for me considering I went to bed at 11pm!  First I made Papa and the Guppies a special treat for breakfast - Nun's Puffs.  It's not a fancy breakfast but it is time consuming!  Then, after driving BOTH guppies to the SAME school (Yay for that!), I came back and went on a cleaning rampage....Well the best rampage I could do while being careful with my back that is!  While I am definitely NOT a neat freak, having the house in a bit better order makes me feel calmer....which is ALWAYS a great thing!

While the Gupps haven't had all their classes yet since it's the first day of a rotating schedule, dribs and drabs of supplies lists are coming in.  G2 handed hers over to me when she walked in the door and I was able to take care of two classes with what I have here in the house already!  SCORE ONE FOR MOM!  Unfortunately, the math teacher is requiring a specific Texas Instruments calculator in an update version/generation.  I priced it out on Amazon and the best I could find (for the lowest version the teacher would "accept" the students using) was $88! I'm definitely not thrilled about this BUT I am hopeful that G2 will get more use of the calculator as I believe she may end up taking more advanced math classes than her older sister has (even though math isn't either of their strong point).

G1 will hand her forms over to me after dinner and I can hopefully fulfill most of her teachers' requirements by shopping at home.

My "plan" for this week is to try to stay on top of the parts of the house I already took care of and to tackle some more of my "problem" areas...bedroom closets anyone?

Now, onto the potentially weird question....I'm just wondering if I am the *only* person who does this sort of thing....

When Guppy 2 asked to have her friends over, I thought it was going to be the "usual" set...until she texted me at lunch to say two new people were included in the group coming over.  Well, I ramped up my cleaning in the areas the kids would be most likely in!  And, I did it because of the two  people coming who have never been here before!

So, do YOU guys have levels of "clean' for certain people to come over?  Like for both girls' BFF's, my level is low because they are considered family.  Seriously, my house could look ransacked and I would say "Come on in!" if they were at my door.  Then I have a "second tier" of people who can come over if the house is a little messy/cluttered.  And, then there is the "Hell No Way!" tier of people who can't see my place unless I hire Merry Maids (which I don't by the way) to come clean it up first!

Am I alone with this?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Recent Freebies!

I haven't posted any freebies in awhile because it seems I had hit a "dry spell" - other than the Costco trip from my parents at the beginning of August obviously.

Anyway, here are a few things that have come my way this week....

*Papa brought home two delicious vegetarian sandwiches that were leftover from one of his lunch meetings at work.

*My mom picked up my medications from the pharmacy and decided to pay for it which kept $7.67 in my pocket.

*Also my mom bought us dinner Friday night so I wouldn't have to attempt to cook with my back!  The take out dinner came to a little under $30.

*  The Freebie Fairy dropped off a goodie bag to my house yesterday with the following:

a loaf of bread - I can't tell you what kind because the writing on the bag is another language!  I really should try Google translate to see what it is!  But I can tell you that it's yummy!
a "bridesmaid" coffee mug - consignment shop bound
a fleece blanket - G1 grabbed it since G2 grabbed the last one she gave us like this but in a different color
a Michael Korrs watch still in the box! - possibly consignment bound but maybe Ebay instead  I haven't decided yet.

And, that's it for now!  Going to try to enjoy the last day of summer vacation with the Guppies the best I can!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

ER Update and Farm Market Finds Today....

So, yesterday was definitely NOT a good day!  But, I have to say that 95% of the people I came in contact with at the emergency room were great!  Was this partially because Papa was wearing his hospital badge and they tend to take good care of their own people first? Honestly, probably but I can't say for absolute sure.

Anyway, they were initially worried about sciatica, slipped disc, and kidney stones.  All of these things were thankfully ruled out.  It appears that I just pulled a muscle very badly.  The doctors think that, since I had some mild back pain that started on Sunday and progressed until Wednesday night, the muscles were weakened already.  Then Thursday night, when I twisted weird, the weakened muscles couldn't take the strain.

They decided to give me a low dose injection of Torridol to see if it helped - it did slightly although it made me sleepy. And also called in prescriptions for lidocaine patches (numbs the back muscles) and low dose Valium which helps the muscles relax and would let me sleep through the night.  They also told me to try to stay as mobile as possible - although today (since I was feeling a bit better) I am pretty sure I overdid it.

I do feel like I need to share the one thing that did irk me about the emergency room....

But, first, I need to say that I am NOT a person who likes to draw attention to myself.  And, since having MS, I try to look as "normal" as possible and haven't gotten things like my handicap pass yet because I don't feel like I am at that stage.  I say this because, when Papa dropped me off at the ER entrance and had to go park the car,  I faced one of my worst MS fears and took the wheelchair offered to me.  I seriously could hardly move!  Never mind attempting to walk anywhere - it was hard enough to get myself into to the car to get to the hospital!
So, Papa wheels me into the ER and into the check in queue and needs to run to park the car.  The wheelchair didn't have the big wheels on the side so I couldn't try to move it.  I was essentially stuck there.  The woman checking people in called over to me when it was my turn and asked me if I could walk.  I told her there wasn't any way I could.  She kinda sighed and came over to get me.  I have to admit, I was slightly humiliated but what could I do?
She started taking my basic information and asked what happened etc.  I stayed pleasant and thought maybe I was just more sensitive about the whole sighing thing because of my own wheelchair hang up.  But then, get this, she looks me up and down and asks...
"Well, if you can't walk, how did you get dressed?"
So, I looked her right in the eye and told her the truth....I slept in my clothes from yesterday.
She looked me up and down one more time and said "Well, fair enough I guess."
This really irked me later on when I was talking to Papa because he told me that the number one "symptom" that drug seekers come in with is back pain.  I had to laugh too though.  If you knew me in real life, you would totally understand because I cannot handle hardly at all.  When I was in labor I didn't want an epidural so the doctor gave me a small shot of Demerol and Papa and the hospital staff had a grand old time laughing at me because of how loopy it made me.  They actually turned to Papa and said "Well, your wife never tried recreational drugs, did she?"  (And nope I never touched a single one in my life!) 
I am fairly sure the original person checking me in that I was there trying to score some narcotics!  And honestly, out of those 30 low dose valium which the prescription says to take twice per day, I will probably use four or five in TOTAL!  The rest will sit in my linen closet until doomsday.

Anyway I am home and hopefully on the mend....although they do want me to check in with my primary doctor in a few weeks to see how things are going.  Fine.  I can do that.

Which brings me to the farmers market....

We needed milk and yogurt for Papa and, while he would have waited until next week, I didn't want him to have to do that.  Plus, we had to scrap our original plans for the day (drive to Vermont to take a hike and have lunch) so I didn't want to sit around feeling sorry for myself if I didn't have to!  Haha!

We arrived at the market on the later side (11 am) so some things were already sold out but here's what we were able to get:

Dairy Lady:  $13
1 bottle of whole milk
1 pint of blueberry yogurt
1 pint of raspberry yogurt

City Seed Bakery:  $3.75
1 baguette

Buttonwood Farms:  $12
1 large bunch of beets with greens attached
1 small box of shitake mushrooms
1 medium box of green beans

Total Spent Today:  $27.75*

*I have been to the grocery store too and will have to add those numbers up in another post this week to close out August's groceries.

Anyway, off to the heating pad for awhile!

Hope everyone is having an awesome weekend!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Heigh Ho! Heigh Ho! Off to the ER I Go!

Hey guys!  Remember when I said last night that my back felt better?  About an hour after I posted that, I did something funky to it!  I twisted weird and felt a pull all the way down my left side and...that was the end of that!
After a sleepless night with no relief from the heating pad, I am on my way to the ER where papa works
It can only get better from here right?
Be back online when I can....

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Getting Guppy 1 on the Right Track and My $15.20 Piece of Heaven

So, as I think I have mentioned previously, my two girls are the only grandchildren on my side of the family.  As such, they have grown up....okay, I admit it....pretty spoiled - mostly by my parents but I guess, when compared to other kids their age, by us too.

Guppy 1 is going to be 18 in a few short months (!) and is really thinking about doing a "gap year".  And, because of this and many other reasons, it is high time she start to learn a little about finding bargains while shopping!  It's something I should have started doing long ago with her but better late than never!  Plus, I think she is finally at the level where she is more receptive to this thought process.

The past two days have been spent scouring three separate malls with her.  While she didn't get a lot in the way of clothing, she did get a few pieces to carry her through until I take her again when the cooler weather becomes more of a reality than it is now - the first day of school is Monday and the high is predicted to be 90 degrees!  Definitely not jean and sweater weather!

Here's the awesome thing that happened to make me think she really is getting the idea about looking for the best deals...

She loooooves makeup so of course we had to hit Ulta, The Body Shop, & Sephora.  But she really tried to scope out the deals and I'm pretty proud of how well she did!

At Ulta she got over $140 worth of product for under $60!  And, she had a $25 gift card so her out of pocket portion was something like $33!  And, the first thing she did when we got out of the store was to text her very frugal BFF!  She was able to get a free high end eye shadow (retail price $20) thanks to an email I received for a birthday freebie promotion.  Then she was able to purchase $21.50 in Ulta line cosmetics (she picked things she needed anyway) to receive a pouch filled with something like $88 worth of free products!  Go Kiddo!

Then, while at the Body Shop, we were able to stock up on her favorite facial line for 40% off - win for my budget line on these items!  And, then, while talking with the associate, we realized that I didn't receive my $10 birthday freebie there so...G1 had her eye on this special face mask (priced at $38 and NOT part of the 40% sale!) so, the associate worked her magic using my birthday promo money and some other promotional % off on my store card and G1 walked out of the store with her face mask for a mere $14.25 (her money)! 

At Sephora, she decided to only buy the one thing she needed using part of her $50 gift card and decided to "save" the rest of the card for another day....Something I don't think I have ***EVER*** seen her do!

To say that she was very excited over all this would be putting it mildly!  And, for me - someone who literally would go to the mall every weekend at her age with my mom's credit card in my hand - I am pretty damn hopeful that I am "breaking the cycle" with which I grew up!

As for my piece of heaven....

Yesterday I went to Target and bought myself a heating pad.  I didn't go for the top of the line controls up the whazoo one.  I just went with a solid quality brand name.  Total came to $15.20 after I used the $5 Target card Papa got from one of the vendors during his last business trip.  While I originally felt guilty buying it, that feeling is long gone!  haha!  I went to sleep with it on (it has automatic shut off after two hours) and then turned it back on for an hour this morning....What a difference it made in my pain level!  While my back isn't perfect, I can walk around without being hunched over like a little old lady!  I'll do it again for the next few nights and see what happens.  Of course my nurse mom still would like to see my get a Lyme's titer....I'll reevaluate the idea come next week.

So, there you have it folks!

Have a good night!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Off to the Mall Soon....And Buying a Heating Pad!

Guppy 2 got off bright and early this morning for her Great Adventure (2 day!) trip with the BFF and BFF's lovely aunt - who has always loved my daughter and treated her like another niece!  They won't be back until late tomorrow night so it's just Guppy 1, the animals, and me during the daytime.

After going through all the girls' clothing,  I have a semi-decent idea of their current needs.  With the limited amount of money I have currently, I am addressing those needs only.  We will continue to have mini shopping trips during the upcoming months to replenish fall/winter things since my experience with my girls shows that when I buy everything now they either:
1.  "forget" they had the items in their closets/drawers
2.  decide they no longer like the style/color/cut/etc of the items purchased
My hope is that shopping this way will help the girls become more thoughtful in their purchases.

I took G2 briefly on Monday afternoon.  She decided she only needed another pair of shorts and found four new summer style shirts she liked.  Total cost for her was under $75 - thanks to an American Eagle gift card she had left.  When G2 is done shopping, she's done shopping.  I couldn't even cajole the girl into stepping foot into a shoe store on Monday.  (She could use another pair of sneakers and a pair of cheaper flats.)  But, in the end, I let it go for now.

Today, I am taking G1.  She is in pretty desperate need of more tops to get her through the first couple of warmer months of school.  She then tends to layer these shirts with flannels when it gets cold or even wears them under sweatshirts.  Also, I would like to check the shoe store for her as well since she needs new sneakers too....although something tells me she will be drawn to the new fall boots like a moth to a flame!  haha!

And, since I am taking her to a mall with an adjoining Target, I will be stopping in to buy myself a new heating pad!  My back pain is getting worse (although thankfully my neuro is fairly sure it isn't MS related) and the hot water bottle G1 made me last night seemed to help a bit.  My nurse mom thinks I need a Lyme's titer - which probably isn't a bad idea since I spend so much time hiking in the woods.  A call to my regular doc may be in order....But I think I will try to just talk to him on the phone and see if he will order the bloodwork for me without my having to come into the office - I'm trying to avoid a $35 co-pay here!

Anyway, Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Good News!

Very excited to be able to say that my new MRI showed...


Truly, after being off my medications for nine months - I took the time and counted, I feel like I dodged a bullet.  Papa and I are so relieved!

Now, onto the task of deciding which new medication to try....

The neurologist sent us home with  packets for the three oral drugs out there since I would ***really*** like to not have to do injections anymore.  There is a lot of information to read and process before deciding but thankfully we have until the 13th of September to do it!  (My next appointment)

I know I have said this before, but I LOVE my doctor!  When I mentioned the possibility of insurance giving us a hard time with choosing an oral over a (cheaper) injectable, he told us not to worry.  He will make sure I get the medication I prefer.  As he put it,  he's "up for a fight".

Seriously, between him and Papa, I know that I am in good hands.

Now, fingers crossed that G2 had a nice day at freshmen orientation!

Busy Day Today!

Guppy 2 and I are up very early this morning while Guppy 1 gets to sleep in...Lucky girl!

Guppy 2 is wide awake because she has Freshman orientation at the high school from 8am to 1pm!  (EEK!  Where did the time go by?!?!)  The school has the freshmen come in early to meet with upper classmen, get their class schedule, and try to figure out the lay of the land.  The freshmen will also get their new chrome books since apparently the district has decided to continue with embracing the technological age and ditching more of the pen and paper route.  (Maybe this will mean less in the way of binder/notebook buying for her?  Only time will tell I guess since this is only the second year that incoming freshmen get chrome books!)

As for me, well today is the day I go to my neurologist to get my MRI results.  I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm nervous because, I mean I already know what's wrong with me right?  I guess I would say that I am more anxious because we need to possibly explore a new MS therapy/drug - none of which are perfect and each has its own set of side effects.  And, then after we weigh the options and choose which we want me to try, I have to see if insurance will even approve it!  You see, a lot of insurance companies want you to try the lowest common denominator injectable drugs (Rebif and Avonex) because they have been on the market longest and tend to be the cheapest.  BUT I do NOT like these drugs side effects because it will greatly interfere with my quality of life....I mean, seriously, who wants to feel like they have the flu for two or three days every single week?!?!

Anyway, I'm off and I'll try to post again later today after my doctor visit....which in case I didn't mention is a block away from the hospital where Papa works so thankfully he will be joining me at my appointment!

Have a nice morning all!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Daybook: August 22, 2016

Picture of the beautiful sunflowers that Papa bought me on Saturday

Jumping on the Daybook Bandwagon today....

Outside my window....  The sun is shining and there are a LOT of walkers, bikers, and runners hustling about.

I'm thinking....  that I have a zillion things to do before school starts for the girls and need to write a list to keep myself organized.  Also, maybe I'll see if G2 wants to hit the mall today for a few things since her schedule is kind of packed for the rest of the week. 

I'm thankful for...  having decent healthcare coverage again.  I go to my neurologist tomorrow for my MRI results and to re-start meds to hopefully keep the MS from progressing much.  Also, I have been having lower back pain for the past two days and will possibly need to have this checked out.  Things I wouldn't be able to do if not for good healthcare coverage again.

I'm wearing....  what seems to be my "summer uniform" these past few months - black t-shirt and olive green shorts.

I'm hearing...  the A/C going and G2 & her BFF laughing watching TV.

I'm hoping...  My back pain goes away!!!

I'm creating...  I just finished my September monthly spread & the first week of September in my Happy Planner using only my old scrapbooking supplies instead of buying new stickers, washi, etc.

I'm reading...  Revival by Stephen King when I can sneak a few minutes in here and there.  This has been another difficult month to find time to read.

I'm cooking...  I need to make either banana bread or banana muffins with the overly ripe bananas sitting on my counter.

And, I guess that's it!  Pretty boring here.

How are things in your world?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

School Supplies: Shopping At Home First....

You know all those great back to school sales that places like Target, Walmart, and even Staples has right before school starts?  And, how if you shop early and smart you can get your children's school supplies for almost nothing?

Yeah, well we don't get to take advantage of those savings for the most part.


Because our school teachers are extremely picky you see...

For example, Teacher X wants you to have a 2 1/2 inch binder...not 2 inch and not 3 inch.  Exactly what they substitutions allowed.  And, Teacher Y needs you to have a 1/2 inch binder with exactly three dividers inside filled with college ruled paper.  And, Teacher Z.... well, you get the drift.

Oh, and guess what?

You don't find this out until after the school year starts...

But, it gets even better...

Most of the teachers will actually give your kids a GRADE for compliance to their specifications.

Maybe all school systems do this?  I don't know but it irks me that ours does.


I have finally gotten (semi) smart and decided to take stock in what we still have leftover from previous years and what we have isn't too shabby!

I don't have to buy any highlighters, pens, or pencils.  I have two full reams of loose leaf paper still in their packaging.  I unearthed a tab divider kit still unopened as well.  And, two black "book sox" since the old school way of using paper grocery bags doesn't cut it anymore in our school system.

Also, G1's binders from last year are in pretty stellar condition because they primarily stayed home as the teacher assigned systems  didn't work for her learning style.  (But still had to be purchased for the compliance grades since some of the teachers assign grades equivalent to test scores for this.)  So, I have five binders of various sizes that G1 is more than willing to reuse (each has a bunch of clean notebook paper in them too!) and, if the binders don't coincide with G1's classes, then I plan on passing them on to G2 if they work within her teachers' guidelines.

In past years I would "feel bad" about reusing this kind of stuff but not anymore.

The Guppies are on board as well since I have a specific dollar amount set aside for school supplies and the beginning of back to school clothes - I plan on spending a little each month on more clothing as the cooler weather comes and the need arises.  They know the less I need to spend on supplies equals the MORE I can spend on clothing  and "fun" stuff.

I think slowly but surely we are all starting to "get it".

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Farmers Market Finds

Beautiful day for the farmers market!  Here's what we ended up buying:

Smyth Dairy:  $16
1 bottle of whole milk
1 bottle of heavy cream
1 pint of cherry yogurt
1 pint of blueberry yogurt

SoNo Bakery:  $7
2 Monkey Bread muffins for G1

Buttonwood Farms:  $4
1 bunch of French green beans

The Soup Girl:  $10
1 pint of watermelon gazpacho
1 pint of cucumber dill soup

*****Extra Surprise for Me!*****
Papa bought me a bouquet of sunflowers!  My favorite!

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Busy Bee!

I have no idea where the days are going right now!  Even when I am home with "nothing" to do, I turn around from breakfast and it's time to make dinner! 

I am expecting that this is probably going to continue until the beginning of September so bear with me since my postings may be a bit spotty until then.

My *hope* is to write a bit on Sunday and also try to organize some of the things I want to post about but, we will be how that goes....

Hope everyone is having a great end of Summer!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Update:Toxic/Difficut People Edition

Warning...I'll try not to rant too much but read at your own risk!  Haha!

As I was thinking about all the updates I need to post, I came across a bit of a theme so I decided to lump the following three things together.  All are energy drains that seriously need to be cut out of our lives...some temporarily and some permanent.

My Brother In Law

He had his "hearing" at the hospital and, as predicted, he was removed from the liver donation list.  He is not eligible for at least six months, if he can maintain sobriety.  Papa, his mom, and his sister were all there with him for moral support.  But, BiL was told that the law is the law - if you get caught with alcohol in your system, you cannot receive a liver.  Papa asked if that included family donation.  The doctor (thankfully) said yes.  They will not risk ANY life for someone caught drinking.  So, at this point, Papa is absolved (both in his own eyes and his family) from any guilt whatsoever.  Papa can't legally swoop in and save the day.
BiL is now living with my MiL (she's home from the hospital).  I'm sure he is going stir crazy there since there are far too many people and animals living in that house already.  I'm very concerned that he wants to come live up here with us.  He tried inviting himself on the Great Adventure trip G2 is taking with her BFF (when he thought I was going to be bringing them).  Papa explained the situation so bullet dodged there.  I talked to Papa last evening and told him, point blank, that I was not equipped to handle him living here and the Guppies would be pissed off if he ended up living on our couch.  It just can't happen.  And, I really don't want to be mean, but if BiL got one little toe inside our house, it would be over and he wouldn't want to leave.  It's not that our house is anything special because it's not.  It's just less crazy than my MiL's.
While my heart truly is broken about my BiL's situation and life, I am not willing to put my family at risk in any way, shape, or form.

G1's Vocal Coach

I wrote a few weeks back how he blew us off and really cut G1's time in order to schmooze a bigger money maker family.  Well, the following week, we ended up not being able to keep her lesson due to schedule conflicts (I was on my own while Papa was away on business).  Then, the NEXT week, he decided he needed a "vacation" from the six week drama/vocal club he did at his studio.  So, yesterday was our first lesson for August.
Anyway, on Monday, he messaged me asking to have G1 switch her time slot for the Fall schedule.  And, on top of everything else that has been happening - short lessons, no homework, no direction, not teaching her the style she wants to learn -  G1 blew a gasket.   Apparently, there is a new girl that started coming to the studio that wants G1's slot!  She started in July and is more of a money maker in that she will be doing more than "just" vocals.  So, yup, all done.
I messaged him back yesterday and told him that August will be our last month at his studio.  Of course I gave me some wishy washy excuse of G1's plans to work a lot for money towards her gap/travel year.  While that is partially true, I didn't address everything that I should have.  Ms. Sandie, I feel you shaking your head at me!  LOL   At the end of the message, I did say that I hope these last few weeks could be productive ones....hoping that he would read between the lines a bit.
His reply to me was pretty much "Okay.  She'll be missed.  Onto the next."
Whatever since we all just want it to be over at this point.
G1 comes out of lessons last night and was beyond frustrated.  Know why? Because NOW he decided he would teach her what she really wanted to learn.  SAY WHAT?  He still cut her time by five minutes (lessons are only 30 minutes) but, he literally said to her last night that he wanted to stop doing "operatic" scales with her. 
Seriously, what the heck is going on there?
My younger daughter said that maybe he wants to try to keep G1 and show her that he would work with her on what she wants.  I would love to believe that but I doubt it.  He has more or less said in the past that there are always more students to take a leaving student's position. 
Did the last line of my message make a difference and he realized that I called him out about how the past few months have been going?
Or, the most likely scenario...
He doesn't want us to leave and bad mouth his studio.
Whatever it is, I hope it continues because it would be nice to finally get a little bit of our money's worth out of these final lessons.

My Sister in Law

(As in MY brother's wife)

I am just tired of having to always be the one to "play" nice.  To be blunt, the woman is bat shit crazy.  Like psychotic, bipolar, delusional, and a hypochondriac.  No joke!
She and I have polar opposite views of the world to say the least as well.
And, seriously what thirty year old woman thinks she deserves a birthday MONTH?  Yes, she also has a "Feed Me and Tell Me I'm Pretty" complex.
I found out from MY mother that she was talking about ME to HER!  And, that she was unfollowing me on social media because of "my views of things".  Okay, first of all you are talking to MY mom sweetheart.  Who would have the nerve to bash someone's kid to their face?  Second of all, I am aggravated because I was instructed to NOT delete her from any of my social media becaue it would be the nice thing to do.  Really?
It has been semi-tolerable up to this point because they live six hours away. 
Now they are planning on moving back to my parents' town which isn't enough distance for my taste.

I care so much because I really don't want to have them over for holidays any longer - they would come down for Christmas which I usually host.   At this point, I  cannot even look at her - lots of backstory not worth taking the time to write her.  I am thinking about telling my parents that we will come see them on Christmas Eve day and then just have Christmas by ourselves....which would be sheer bliss!  My hope is to try to talk Papa into letting us see his family just on Christmas Eve day as well.
Keep your fingers crossed for me!   HAHA

Okay, rant over.  Now I can focus more energy over the next few days writing about good stuff!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Squeezing the Last Bit of Summer....

I've been a bit absent here this week as the Guppies and I try to squeeze out the last bit of summer fun that we can!  They go back to school on the 29th so there is a bit of a mad dash going on around here lately!  And we haven't even started doing any of the dreaded school shopping....Luckily it's still pretty hot here so I can space that out as the cooler weather comes...eventually.

Tomorrow I should mostly be around the house - FINALLY!  That is after I run to the town hall and then back down to my local AAA to renew my license.

So, hopefully tomorrow I can start catching everyone up on what's been happening in my world!  And there is some stuff to catch up on!

Hope everyone is having a great week and enjoying the last days of summer!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Off to Tackle Kingda Ka and Saving a Huge Chunk of Change!

The above picture is Kingda Ka...A well known (and scary!) rollercoaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey!  See the big tower looking thing at the end of the picture?  That's where I think the rollercoaster climbs and descends and supposedly is tall enough that the Statue of Liberty and her torch can fit under it! Oh, and to get up that big incline?  It goes from 0 to 128 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds!

So, of course it's on everyone's Summer Bucket List!

G2, her BFF, and BFF's "Auntie" will be going later this week or next week.  And, Auntie's treat so that's very helpful!  Thank you Auntie!!!

That leaves me to take G1 and her BFF.

Day admission prices for amusement parks are pretty steep and this one isn't any different...
Seventy seven bucks and change!

But, a quick trip to my local AAA office and literally less than one hour of my time - including the round trip drive - cut my costs considerably!

Total price for all three tickets....


which works out to be just $43.15 per ticket!

And an over $100 savings!

This is a planned summer expense and I love that I have even more wiggle room now to put towards "linner" or to tuck away into savings.

Wish me luck getting us there and getting off this ride alive!


Great way to spend a Monday!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Paintball Means No Farmer's Market Today and A Question....

This is the second week in a row that we didn't get to the Farmer's Market!

Today didn't happen because G2 and friends needed to be driven to a paintball birthday party - yup you read that right! - for 10am and Papa didn't want to head to the market alone.

I guess the silver lining of not going is that it keeps more of the little grocery money left in my pocket.  But, I feel bad because Papa loves his yogurt from Smyth's Dairy - he usually has it for breakfast three plus times per week!  He said he will be fine with the "regular" yogurt that G1 and I like. 

I am not 100% sure about what's going on tomorrow morning but, as I am writing this, I just remembered we aren't going to be able to go next Saturday to go either!

Hmmmm.....I'll have to talk to Papa about what we should do later.  Hey, Ms. Sandie!  If you are reading this, just a little heads up I *may* be texting you later for directions to your farmer's market!  LOL

Back to the paintball deal....

I was very iffy about letting G2 go.  There were 15 kids in total and only 4 of them were girls.  They had to wear long pants and sweatshirts in 95 degree heat  AND it was over THREE hours long!  Obviously (from the above paragraphs) I let her go.  And, thankfully she came home relatively unscathed - unlike her BFF who has a knee that is bruised to bits!  G2 thought it was an okay time but not okay enough to try again - unless possibly in cooler weather and that's a huge possibly.  G2 says she much prefers laser tag - Yeah, I would too!

Here's something that is bugging me though (and maybe it's because I feel cranky/tired from our exploring yesterday which I will write a post about in the next few days).  So, here's the scenario and please, guys, tell me what you honestly think if it was your kid in this scenario....

So, this was a birthday party for G2's BFF's boyfriend.  I'm going to add that his father is a doctor and his mom a midwife - because they are known to be extremely well off.  (The birthday boy had made a comment while I was driving him in my car about G2 being "poor" awhile back.) 
Anyway, G2 was instructed to bring $20 with her to help pay for "things".  The best answer I could get out of her after the fact was the kids had to help pay for extra paintballs, the pizza, and tipping the pizza  delivery person.  So, factoring out the birthday boy and his brother, that's 13 kids that had to each bring $20 to cover a birthday party!
It seems bizarre to me....
When G2 had her amusement park birthday party, the kids paid for incidentals (like games or the skycoaster ride) and most of them brought a little cash for lunch, BUT I paid for everything else because I felt it was my place to do so since we invited these kids to a birthday party. And, remember this was an overnight party so I also paid for dinner, breakfast, the cabin, etc.
I (half-jokingly) told Papa this afternoon that maybe this is the reason why we don't have as much money as some of the other families in town....because we pay for everything and I am constantly driving everyone else's kids around.
Anyway, having to bring money to a birthday party just irked me quite a bit.  G2 shrugged it off and took it out of the allowance money I gave her for the rest of the summer.
What do you guys think about asking these kids to bring money to help pay for extra paintballs, pizza, and tipping the delivery person?
Am I just being cranky?  (which could very possibly me I know this! LOL)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Spendy Spendy Thursday!!!

Whoa!  Yesterday a LOT of cash flowed out of our house!  Most (but not all) were already planned purchases and bill paying but still my checking account and debit cards got workouts!

Here's what was spent (not including the scheduled bills):

Car Services:  $162.91 (Budgeted $75)

Papa's car needed its "fancy" oil so I gave him the $30 needed to buy a 5 quart container - which is a cheaper deal than buying each quart individually.  I guess he had researched information on his car and found that this make/model goes through about one quart every 600 - 700 miles.  He will call the dealer and make an appointment to ensure nothing else is going on however.  If the mechanics DO find something else, no worries because it should be covered by our warranty.

My car was in desperate need of an oil change so I headed out this morning (with $5 coupon in hand!).  Cost should have been $34.98.  However.... upon the garage's usual inspections, the mechanic found that our serpentine belt was woefully dry rotting and cracked in a million places.  We have never changed this belt in all the time and 250K miles we have had the car!  And, since I have a trip to Massachusetts planned today and one to New Jersey next week, I decided it was more frugal to replace it now than get stranded on the side of some road waiting for AAA.  The belt and its installation was an additional 89.99 to my oil change bill.

Pet Supplies:  $74.49  (Budgeted $150)

I had to go to three different stores on Thursday to get this done!

First stop, the local grocery store to pick up:
Rabbit food
2 (3.75lb) small bags of dog food (I had $4 coupons off each bag since it's a newer product!)

Then, a larger name pet store:
Ferret food

Finally, my local Mom & Pop pet/feed store:
Cage cleaner for the ferret
Bedding for the rabbit

I opted not to get any more hay for the rabbit yet since we still have a good 1/2 bag.  While at the Mom & Pop, I asked about getting our brand of ferret food through them instead of the bigger named store.  They are more than happy to help and it will cost me slightly less per same sized bag -and that's before factoring in gas and time!  So yay!

Grocery Store:  $121.30  (Budgeted $200 for rest of August)

I took a slightly larger chunk out of my budget than I originally planned on yesterday.  So, I will be keeping a close eye on the remaining $$$.  Again, we are fairly stocked up so I would like to try to make it at least another 10 days before heading back to the grocery store....Saturday Farmer's Market is not included in that ten day fast however!
Here's what was purchased:

6 pack of soft hoagie style rolls
6 pack of corn muffins
2 packages of English muffins
1 large tub of Stoneyfield vanilla yogurt
1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese
1 bag of flour tortillas
1/3 lb of Boar's Head deli hard salami
1/3 lb of Boar's Head deli Honey Maple Turkey
1 lb of store brand American cheese
1 box of mini ice cream sandwiches
1 box of "drumstick" style ice cream cones
1 (12 oz) bag of frozen raspberries
1 small box of pizza rolls
2 boxes of frozen pierogi
1 large bag of frozen French fries
2 Friendly's ice cream sundae cups
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 cans of kidney beans
1 can of chopped chili peppers
1 jar of pineapple salsa
1 large box of store brand Rice Krispies
3 12pks of diet coke products (I have a major addiction to diet coke, I know!)
10 Ice Sparkling water drinks
5 bottles of diet Snapple
1 bag of peanut butter cookie mix
1 box of store brand "Ritz"
1 bottle of squeeze style Welch's grape jelly
1 bag of lime tortilla chips
1 bag of reg corn tortilla chips
1 bag of tortilla chip "strips"
2 packages of Goldfish crackers
1 bag of store brand marshmallows
1 box of frozen hashbrowns
1 lb of store brand bacon
1 package of Perdue chicken nuggets (special request from G2)
1 lb of sweet potatoes
1 (16oz) jar of fresh salsa
3lb bag of onions
1 (8oz) package of mushrooms

Health, Bath, & Beauty: $13.80   (Budgeted $125)

So, I bought two boxes of hair color for myself - a far more frugal endeavor than my original hair appointment!  Guppy 1 and her BFF wanted to color my hair for me and, honestly, were more meticulous and did a much better job than I would have done if left to my own devices.
I am continuing to hold off on purchasing any more facial or body soap for the moment.  I just cannot justify it when I have so many small bars for both lying around my linen closet.
I will be buying some of the needed vitamins this weekend so I'm not jumping for joy about being under this budget quite yet!


That's where my spendy Thursday left me!

But at least most of it was budgeted for!

How about you?  Have any of you found yourselves doing a good deal of spending this week?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What We Did Yesterday....

Wadsworth Falls

I was MIA yesterday because Guppy 1 and I decided to go on a little adventure despite the iffy weather.  (Guppy 2 had slept over her BFF's house and they were making dinner for their boyfriends....BFF's mom is a SAINT to let those girls tear up her kitchen!  HAHA)

First "stop" on our adventure was a drive by G1's new favorite YouTuber's house.  She was excited to find out he lived in Connecticut and was curious about where he lived.  A very simple google search brought up his address so we decided to take a little 45 minute drive for a little "looksee".  Seriously all we did was drive down the road and I let her snap a picture with her IPhone out the window.   LOL

Our second stop was to one of my favorite little coffee shops in Durham.  We had a nice lunch of very filling (and GIANT!) crepes and drinks for $19 while we waited to see if the pouring rain that had started would clear up.

The rain stopped so we decided to risk our third scheduled "stop" to the above picture.  It took us forever to find an actual entrance/parking lot to Wadsworth Falls State Park!  Siri kept giving me crazy bringing me into neighborhoods and telling me to "prepare to park my car and walk to my destination".  It was very strange.  However, we did finally find an actual entrance but as we were standing looking at the bulletin board park map, a couple came up to us (soaked from being stuck in the rain) and told us which trail would get us to the falls BUT we could drive our car almost right up to them too.  We decided to take the hike, which was nice but ended up leading us out to a road we had to walk down - obviously the one the couple told us about.  Truthfully the falls were nice but it was by far the strangest, most disjointed state park I have ever visited anywhere!

In trying to find our way home via backroads, G1 and I spotted our last but very UNscheduled stop - an abandoned building.  G1 is very interested in "urban exploration" and taking photos of decaying buildings.  I seem to have caught her enthusiasm - especially since I love reading up on the history of old/defunct buildings.  Since the building was open, we decided to go on a quick little exploration...

We found out once we returned home and did a quick internet search that this building was once part of a larger "school" campus.  Most of the other buildings have been torn down I guess but, this "school" was started in the late 1800's as a place for "troubled" girls.  It later morphed into more of a girls juvenile detention facility and then finally became co-ed back in second half of the 1900's. (I think that's what my research said)  Sadly, there was a LOT of abuse that occurred and the state finally closed the facility down in 2003 after the suicide of a 15 year old girl revealed how badly the school was meeting the emotional/psychological/medical needs of its "students". 
I plan on doing more research on the school and trying to figure out what the building we were in was used for specifically.  I will say that, considering it has been closed down since 2003, the place was virtually untouched by vandals and in pretty pristine condition for an abandoned building.

So, that was our adventure yesterday.

For the cost of 1/3 tank of gas and our $19 lunch, I would say it was a fairly frugal day!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Keeping on Track Moneywise....

Even as we worry and are sad regarding my brother in law, life is still moving on here and I have to do my best to keep things on track!

Sunday was a really productive day around the house!  I was a cleaning machine I tell you!  Funny thing is that, after I clean an area, I get very possessive over it and have been quite the dictator about those areas staying clean!  HAHA!  I do see the light at the end of the tunnel now though and I'm pretty excited about getting a new schedule together once school starts again.

Although I haven't posted a menu plan (yet), I have been sticking to making only food that is here in the house.  And, I am extremely happy to report that, so far, my grocery costs in August have been a grand total of...


That is going to change at the end of this week since I do have a growing list of items we are low on. But, I plan on being very careful and deliberate with the groceries this month.  I am determined to stay with my budget and not squander the generous trip to Costco from my parents earlier this month.

I have also been waiting to spend any money in the Pet and Health/Vitamin budgets as well - which has helped tremendously since I received another coupon for Vitamin World for $5 off since August is my birthday month!

I cancelled my hair appointment for Thursday since it would have cost upwards of $300 for cut and color.  I originally justified this expense because I haven't had my hair cut OR colored in almost one year but, after writing out the August budget, I decided to nix it.  Too many expenses associated with the whole back to school deal - supplies and BOTH guppies need new clothes/shoes.  So, I opted to let  G1 cut the dead ends of my hair - she did a pretty decent job too! - and decided that was good enough since I have been wearing my hair long anyway.  As for the gray, well I guess I will try a good old fashioned box of color from the drugstore!  LOL  G1 said she would help me do it so that's helpful.

And, I guess that's it for updates.  The Guppies are making me lose my train of thought by coming in and asking me a million questions right now and I have to get ready to take G2 and friends to a local state park to go hiking.  They are going on one trail and I'll probably stay and hike another.

Hope everyone has a nice Tuesday!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Broken Hearted

My original post for today was going to be all about how much work I accomplished around the house yesterday and then I was going to do my weekly menu plan....

But, as of early this afternoon my heart is no longer in it.

Part of me feels like this isn't MY story to tell....

But, then part of me feels like it is because it partially affect us too.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for awhile now knows the struggle my brother in law is having with alcohol addiction.  Currently his liver AND kidneys are failing.  He had been very close to receiving a liver about a month ago but just far enough away to not get it.

Now, he is probably never going to get one.

A few days ago, he was readmitted into the local hospital closest to him for some pain/weakness in his legs....

And guess what?

They discovered he has been drinking again. 

He told Papa today that it was "only one drink" but one drink - heck one SIP - is too many for an alcoholic!  Especially one that is being monitored for a liver transplant.

I don't have all the details yet as Papa told me during his lunch break.  BUT, I believe the best possible scenario is that the clock resets and he has to go six months forward without having another drink before he can be reconsidered for the transplant list.

With the current state of his health, I think six months will be longer than he lasts.

Papa is obviously devastated. 

And, I am heartbroken as well.  This is not the same man that Papa introduced me to all those years ago.  He is trapped somewhere in a body that is being ravaged by a horrid and unyielding disease.  His marriage is all but lost and he is unemployable.  His life is in shambles, his body is shutting down, and I think he just doesn't have any fight left in him.

Mostly, my heartaches for his children - ages 17, 14, and 12.  His youngest (our nephew) is my favorite and I worry the most about what he will do without my brother in law around.

I am upset for my beautiful husband who has found something he cannot "fix".  He is in the process of coming to terms with the fact that he will in all likely hood be burying both his mother and younger brother within a short period of time from now.

If anyone you know and love is battling with addiction, please do whatever you have to in order to admit them into a respected rehab program.  Don't take no for an answer.

I wish my brother in law's hand  had been forced and someone had gotten him into one long ago when there was still a chance for recovery.

Now recovery is a million too many miles away.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday Musings...

Totally wish this could be me today!

Welcome to the mish-mosh that is my brain today!

It's an absolutely gorgeous Sunday outside my world but we are scrapping our Castle Craig hiking plans because a) I still am completely sunburned - especially my face  and b)there is too much work to do around the house today!

However, as I am doing all the housework (and possibly helping Papa with the yard), here are the things floating around my mind....

1.  Friday's post by SAM over at Sam, Coffee, Money, & Thyme about how she handles abundance.  If you don't follow her blog, go check it out.  Like Sam, I tend to keep a handle on things MUCH better when there is, time, items, etc.  So, thanks to Sam, I am rolling some ideas around in my head regarding self-imposed limits to help make life easier.  I'll let you guys know if/when I come up with some good ones that could possibly work for me.

2.  I am thinking about "my book" a lot again.  I cannot wait to get into a schedule once the guppies are back at school!  I know there are people out there who think that I am dropping the ball regarding this and I should just sit down and finish writing.  And, I definitely DO need to start setting time aside....BUT that's not how my creative side of  my brain is just sit down and complete it.  I need a trigger for lack of a better term.  And, last night, while walking with Papa I got one.  I have been stalled with my book because it seems the name I picked for my main character has become very popular over the course of the last few years for YA books.  But, it's been hard for me to wrap my head around changing the name - it's kind of like changing the names of your children.  LOL  Last night, Papa and I walked by a graveyard and I swear the moon was shining down on the one particular grave - thus lighting up the person's name.  And, just like that, inspiration struck!  Haha!

3.  Menu Planning for this week!  But first I need to think about....

4.  Our schedules for the week!  G1's BFF isn't working much this week so they want to get together and see what else they can accomplish off their summer bucket lists.  I have to check in with G2 -who seems to have plans every single day this summer!  And, I have to check with Papa to see what his schedule looks like for the upcoming week.

5.  Getting into my neuro to get the MRI results.  I am not all that nervous about it but I want to get things moving with my medication again.  And, I'm not sure how much back and forth there will be with our new insurance company since most of them want MS patients to try the lowest (aka cheapest) drug first.  And, the cheapest drug also has the most side effects and lowest efficacy overall.

6.  Finishing the rest of August's budget.  I have a newer household planner with a budgeting section that I am trying out this month.  It does help me feel more in control but it's not completed yet so I need to finish that soon.

And, I guess that is most of what I'll be thinking about as I launder, fold, iron, sweep, cook, and clean my way through Sunday!