So much for BlogHer '10

It just figures.  Not two minutes after I hit “publish” on that last post where I mentioned wanting being determined to go to BlogHer next year, I saw an ad in my sidebar from BlogHer ads saying, “Hey!  Sign up for next year, yo!”

NEXT year??  Already??

Surely this was a joke.  But no… I clicked through and saw next year’s venue had been selected, revealed, hotel announced and registration was open.  PEOPLE ALREADY HAD THEIR TICKETS.  I kid you not.

And in the span of two seconds I was both thrilled and excited that the city chosen for BlogHer ’10 is New York and devastated because I do not have $200 to buy conference tickets right now.  And, considering our Disney Extravaganza here in a week and change, I probably won’t have it for at least another month either.

It’s one of those moments that I feel incredibly frustrated that our society is built on, for and by people who use credit cards.  Particularly when travel is involved, people just EXPECT you to use a credit card.  Don’t have the money in your account right now?  No big, just put it on credit and pay it off when you do.  Piece of cake!

And then there’s me.  I have to save the money.  I have to budget.  Make sacrifices.  Plan.  And I was planning to buy tickets after Christmas, when they normally go on sale and when we have no looming need to buy gifts any longer.  It works out well.

But ho no.  Not THIS year!  This year the tickets are on sale now!  And I’m scared half to death that they’ll be all sold out by the time I scrape together enough dough to go.

GAH.

So maybe I won’t be going to BlogHer ’10.  Which is going to make me feel VERY cranky indeed.  Partially because it’s BlogHer and I love BlogHer.  And partially because it’s New York City and I’ve been dying to go back there.  Pretty much ever since two minutes after we left it back in 2002.   I had grand plans to find roommates (you can fit four in a room, right??), scour for cheap airfare, paint my toes, pack up my iPhone and knitting and just GO.

So I’m hoping.. praying that there will be tickets left to purchase here in a few months (again, probably after Christmas… dang those presents anyhow!) and that I will be able to go.

My Own Money

I need my own money.

Like many stay at home moms, I rely on my husband’s income.  And it can be hard to budget things on only one income.  Especially when that paycheck only comes once a month.  And often, I don’t feel comfortable staking a claim on any of that money for things for myself.  Things like haircuts, clothes or anything else that isn’t an absolute necessity.  And let’s not forget hosting for this-here blog.  Speaking of such things, hosting will be due within a week and, as always, I will feel guilty at the measly $9.95 it costs to keep this place afloat.

I would love to make some of my own money.  I make a small (very small) amount off the BlogHerAds.  But even that I never feel as though it’s my “own” as it often gets used for things like groceries or gas.  Which, don’t get me wrong, I would far rather have gas in the car or food in the pantry as opposed to a new pair of shoes.  But sometimes it would be nice to have a little pool of money somewhere that I could save up and use for myself.  Even if that means buying things for the kids or as gifts.  It’s money I could spend without feeling the GUILT.

I hardly know what that feels like.  I don’t think I’ve ever really had money that I could just spend on whatever I wanted without feeling guilty.  A lot of people get to experience that in their early 20’s.  I never did, because I got married right away and then pregnant right after that and money has ALWAYS been an issue.  Even in college when I worked all summer long in an office job (making pretty decent money, by the way), it wasn’t money I could spend.  I remember when my best friends used their money they earned to go to Disneyland together and I couldn’t go because I had to do other things with my money.  I had to pay my parents back for a stupid mistake I had made when I got my first credit card.  And whatever didn’t go towards that had to do towards buying books at school or helping to pay for my dorm room or somesuch.

Even as a kid, I never really had an excess of money.  I got an allowance when I was younger, but I never seemed to get or have as much as my friends.  I can remember many times my friends would want to go to a movie and I would have to say that I couldn’t because I didn’t have enough money.  They would tell me to ask my parents for the money.  RIGHT.   Because that would have TOTALLY worked.  snort.  Shoot, I remember I would get nervous when teachers would assign projects in school that would require purchasing supplies like posterboard or whatever.  Because I didn’t have the money and I didn’t want to have to ask my parents for it.  Because I always thought they would say no, so why bother?  Now, I’m sure that for school they would have obliged.  But my young self didn’t really consider that.

I still can’t bring myself to ask for money.  Even from my own husband.  And a lot of that is because I know the money isn’t really there right now.  Asking would do nothing, so why bother?

I need to make my own.  That would probably help, right?  But how?  The blog design business is over and done with.  I would love to find something I could do here at home.  But what?  I’m afraid the only answer is working outside the home and right now with the two little ones, that’s not really feasible.  I don’t want to go to work only to have my entire paycheck get eaten up by day care costs.  That’s so not worth it, in more ways than one.  I’m not looking to make a fortune here.  But a little jingle in my pocket sure would be nice.  And maybe then I wouldn’t feel so devalued and useless, eh?

Feel free to skip this one

I know how much you all love to hear me whine and moan and kvetch about money (or rather, the lack thereof), but I always feel so much better when I unload these things off my heart and mind.  The blog is my clearinghouse for all my neurotic issues, after all.  So I’m going to whine and moan and kvetch a little bit.  Feel free to skip this post and I promise to have something far more interesting to you all soon.

I hope.

Anyhow, it’s December and we knew what we were doing at the start of the month when we decided how to spend the budget.  We wanted to have a nice Christmas.  For the kids, mostly, but for us too.  Last year was so slim in the present department.  And yes, we made it work, but we promised ourselves that this year would be different.

And for the most part, it has been.  I mean, at least this year we sort of had a CHOICE.  Of course, I think a few things slipped through the cracks and here we find ourselves, barely halfway through the month and the budget is screaming at the strain.  There are a few issues that are causing me particular stress:

  • Shipping presents.  I mentioned this already, of course.  I’m really worried about not having shipped my parents package yet.  I really don’t know what to do about this one.  I have to follow Kile’s lead here.  But my skin is crawling with the need to get that present sent out.
  • We weren’t able to get presents for everyone we would have liked to, this year.  Yes, we did the gift bags for our siblings but, as you’ve seen, even that has put strain on us for the shipping of them.  And whenever I get a gift from someone I have not been able to send a gift to, I feel about this high.
  • Simple grocery items.  Surely, we will get some of these things soon, but I don’t know how and that is what stresses me out.  We need bread.  And milk.  BASIC things.  And baby food, since Evie has proven herself to be something of a tank in the eating department and has already handily blown through the stash of jarred food I got her at the beginning of the month.  It’s easy to forget that she’s not like Liam!
  • The tan van.  Ohhh… the tan van.  It needs to be registered.  And we refuse to drive it unregistered.  This is one of the things we had a choice about at the start of the month.  And we chose Christmas over registering the tan van.  The white van works well enough and it’s only for a few weeks.  Still, I miss my van.  It’s a LOT nicer than the white van (and don’t let me forget, there’s a post forthcoming about the disparity between these vans out in public).
  • My doctor appointment.  The doctor’s office called this evening while I was outside keeping Kile company as he shoveled the driveway.  I didn’t return the call, as I imagined the shop had already closed up for the day.  But I have little doubt that they have gotten my lab results from Friday’s lab work and want me to come in and see the doctor.  And then, and only then, will they give me a new prescription.  The prescription wouldn’t be so hard to swing since everywhere you go anymore flaunts their $4 prescriptions.  But the office copay is probably out of the budget.  Which means I can’t go in until after the holidays.  Which means…. more weeks without meds.  Say it with me: SIGH.

I shouldn’t let these money issues bother me so much.  I shouldn’t let them keep me up at night.  I should just go with the flow and let it roll off my back.  I absolutely HATE worrying.  So why do I do it so much?  Cuz I’m a PUTZ, that’s why.

If I have one thing to hope for in the New Year, it’s that these financial concerns will become fewer and further between.  Can I get an amen?

Monday Hate List – Now With Pictures!

I don’t generally condone of the word “hate” because it has such strong connotations, but in this case, I think Monday deserves it.  How dare it force us out of the lull that is the weekend and make us be productive and stuff!  So here’s what I’m hating today:

  1. That we’re about out of groceries here in the house, but yet the budget gave out last week sometime.  Hmm.
  2. Little dogs that desperately try to curl themselves up on my legs in an effort to stay warm and give me leg cramps.
  3. iCarly, the Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, the Naked Brothers Band, Drake and Josh and any of those retarded Disney/Nick shows that my son seems to really, really love right now.
  4. Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends and pretty much the entire Noggin morning lineup these days.
  5. I pretty much hate money in general right now, but mostly the lack of it.
  6. That my parents’ gift STILL hasn’t been mailed off and now I’m worried that it’ll even get there before Christmas and that gives me STRESS.  STRESS STRESS STRESS!
  7. Not that I have a van to drive it to the post office anyhow.  (still not registered but whatever)
  8. Which means I need to rely on Kile to do it.
  9. Which means I’m not holding my breath.
  10. Stupid, nagging, caffeine-withdrawal headache.  I need a Rockstar.

So now that I got that out of the way, here are some pictures I cleaned off the camera this morning.

A boy and his cup The rarely-captured feral blue-eyed boy.

Mirthful Eyes The cup is a staple in virtually all photos of this child.

Snowflake Pin A nifty snowflake pin given to me by a good friend for my birthday.  It is officially Evie’s Most Favorite Thing EVER.

Blob Bag My first knitting project, my “practice blob” that I decided to turn into a bag this weekend.  GO ME.

Brr Does this look cold?  Cuz it is.

Wee Snowy Tree Little tree.  Snow.  Nuff said.

First Snowy Day Sure looks like a Monday morning to me, how about you?  I’m SO glad Harry takes the school bus now.

White Van in White Kile’s van (aka: our only legal mode of transportation these days).  And snow.  Have fun driving to work, Kile!

Buggin' me

We’ve got nearly one week of December under our belts and so far I’m not impressed.  See, December is usually my most favorite of all the months.  There’s my birthday, Christmas and New Years.  There’s colder temperatures and snow.  There’s festive music and lots of holiday candy.  What isn’t to love (don’t answer that)? 

So far, December has left me underwhelmed.  

  • We have a budget crunch that is causing all sorts of stress and drama. Worrying about crap like this does not do wonders for ones Christmas spirit.
  • Harry’s school is cheesing me off too.  They have a “Holiday Shop” every year, staffed by the PTA, where kids can go and spend a couple bucks on presents for their family.  We sent Harry on Monday with $20.  All week long, he’s told us the shop is closed during recess, the only time he really has to go to it, since he takes the bus after school.  So Kile drove him to school this morning so they could be there when this thing theoretically “opened”.  Turns out?  They’ve been having a hard time staffing it so it’s only been open after school.  Yep, when Harry has to take the bus home.  Kile is planning to take off work early on Monday and pick him up so he can go to the Holiday Shop at long, long last.  In the meantime, I think this is awfully prejudiced against the poor kids who have to take the bus.   Boo! 
  • Harry put his iPod in the wash.  Yep, the one we JUST got him for his birthday.  The one that we got to replace the mp3 player that he put in the wash several months ago.  
  • What the HECK.  It’s like constantly 55 degrees during the day here.  And that’s the forcast for the next week as well.  This is NOT Christmas weather.  I better see some snow and SOON, damnit. 

So what’s cheesing you off this week?

Stuff we need

You know what sucks about having a “Stuff we need” list in December?  Because December is a “Stuff we want” month.  And it’s not always “we” but “they” (if it were “we”, then it wouldn’t be such a conflict, would it?).  Everything gets tied up in buying and doing and making and preparing for other people.  And then crap hits the fan, as it often likes to do, and suddenly you find yourself in a budget crunch. 

Or maybe that’s just us. 

Here’s a short list of the things we NEED right now: 

  • A new tire for Kile’s van.  Oh yeah.  It’s totally flat.
  • Van registration for my van.  Yeah, that’d be handy if we ever wanted to drive anywhere. 
  • Shipping for gift bags for our families. 

Then there’s the list of things we need, but can (and have) put off:

  • New glass for our sliding glass door.  Yeah, still haven’t gotten that replaced. 
  • New glass for the two windows upstairs that are also broken.  SIGH. 
  • New fence in the back for the fence that blew down LAST SPRING. 
  • (Nevermind that the backyard remains UNLANDSCAPED *cough*)

And I’m sure sometime this month we’ll need: 

  • Groceries
  • Gas
  • Medication (again… *cough*)
  • Doctor Appointment copay

Oy.  Normally (I have to pause and laugh here because WHEN is anything ever NORMAL around here??), we would only have to worry about the “sometime this month” category.  But we’re unlucky/negligent/poor sorts that get to enjoy the other two categories.  And this is all while Kile gets paid ONCE a month (so yeah, that ship has sailed already) and we don’t use credit cards.  Sooooo…. yeah.  

Doesn’t this all sound marvelous?   This is usually when Kile will say something to the effect of “this is just a bad month” and I will have to remind him that last month was “just a bad month” too.  I swear, I hear that so much that it doesn’t even mean anything anymore.  What the heck does a “good month” look like?  And is there any chance of getting one anytime soon?  Please? 

As a subnote:  no one has sent me their address for Christmas cards yet.  I feel so rejected.  FINE, if you don’t want my uber-fancy Christmas cards, you don’t have to have one.  I’ll just go over to the corner and eat some worms.  

Making a list, checking it twice

In the next several days, we’re going to be doing the bulk of our shopping for the next month.  That’s generally what we do EVERY month, but this month is singularly interesting because of Christmas.  And the fact that Black Friday is in two days.  So… yeah.  My brain has been a mess of ads and websites and lists and… well you can see how this would drive a person batty, can’t you?

Tonight we’re doing grocery shopping.  Maybe not ALL of it, since we will have limited time tonight to get it done and we don’t want to be out all night with the kids.  I don’t know when we’d finish it though, so we’ll see.  That leaves Black Friday.

We’ve been fleshing out what we want to get the kids and each other and I think we have a good idea of what we want to get and how much we want to spend.  It’s going to be tight this year, but then, it’s tight every year.  The initial game plan is that Kile is going to get up at the butt-crack of dawn on Friday and hit the stores.  I will stay home and sleep in with the kids.  He’ll come back, have a nap, have some breakfast, whatever and we’ll go back out in the afternoon when things are less “hairy”.

I’ve been looking though and I see that a lot of stores are going to be having the same sale online come Friday so now I think I might try to snag some of the things off our list online, help ease things up on Kile some.  Some stores are having their Black Friday sale starting at 1am EST on Friday or thereabouts.  That equates to 10pm here on Thursday. There’s a few I’d have to set an alarm for and get up in the middle of the night but if I can just wear my jammies and go right back to sleep afterward, then why not??

Gotta love online shopping.

So what’s your game plan for holiday shopping?  Are you hoping to do a lot of it online, like I am?  Do you know what you’re getting your kids?  Does holiday shopping stress you out as much as it does me?  Because, holy hell, I feel like I need a drink already.

A little of this, a little of that

My left hand is KILLING me today.  Most specifically, it’s my middle and ring finger are the sorest, but it extends all the way down the hand to the wrist.  UGH.  I can’t find my wrist brace either, to stabilize it.  I know this is because of the knitting and I’m afraid I shouldn’t knit today just to give the hand a chance to recover.  This makes me pretty sad, actually.  My little shapeless monstrosity is taking a sort of… life.  And I’d like to “finish” it.  Whatever “it” is.  Maybe my hand will feel better later.  Or maybe I could take some ibuprofen to dull it.  What would you all do?  Am I that big a wimp that my stupid hand muscles can’t even take some simple knitting??

***

We keep missing “How I Met Your Mother”.  It’s right when I’m putting Evie to sleep and Kile is playing Halo… It’s usually 8:30 before at least I make it downstairs (9pm for Kile).  You think I’d learn and just go ahead and set the DVR to record it already.  But our DVR sorta sucks rocks and I hate having to set up any sort of series recording because the stupid thing is completely unable to differentiate between repeats and new programs.  Drives me CRAZY.  (The plus side is that our ability to access OnDemand suddenly resurfaced last night.  Suh-WEET!)

***

Kile is getting paid crazy early this month.  His deposit will go in tonight.  Which is great for the whole Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping thing.  But on the flip side of that is that it’ll be that much harder to make the money stretch the entirety of December, since he only gets paid once a month.  I expect to be scraping the bottom of the barrell come Christmas time.  And, can I just say, I HATE ONLY GETTING PAID ONCE A MONTH.  It is a friggin’ joke, I tell ya.  

***

Speaking of shopping, we have big shopping plans for this weekend.  Not only do we need to buy all our groceries for the month (whimper), but we’re going to do a lot of Christmas shopping too.  And yes, a good portion of that could possibly taking place on Black Friday.  GULP.  I’ve been familiarizing myself with the Black Friday 2008 webpage, checking out the deals on things we know we want to get.  But tell me this:  Why is Toy’s R Us the only store that has a play kitchen on sale on Friday?  That’s just not right.  

Anyhow, it’s entirely possible that I will get eaten alive by crowds.  Pray for me. 

***

We’re going to finish decorating the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving day.  Won’t that be fun?  While food is cooking in the oven, we’ll all put together the trimmings.  The tree is up, mostly so that Liam will become accustomed to it.  So far, so good, he seems to barely notice it now.  Still, I’m not going to be putting too many ornaments down low where he can get to them.  I’m not STUPID, you know. 

***

You all seemed to really enjoy the prehistoric photos I put up last night.  Perhaps I’ll have to go dig up some other gems to scan for “posterity” (and not at all for “humor”, oh no!).  In the meantime, check out my “Way Back Machine” set on Flickr cuz there’s some lovliness there too.

Christmas Craft Jamboree

Let’s just forget for a minute that I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, mmkay?  The fact is, this year I would like to do some homemade Christmas gifts for our extended family and friends.  I originally got the idea from this post from LeahPeah last year.

I’d like to do a giftbasket for Christmas this year, filled with handmade goodies.  Not all of the goodies need to be handmade by ME, per se, but that would certainly help cut the costs.  The only thing is… unless I want to do an exact duplicate of LeahPeah’s basket, I need some ideas.  And I’m not coming up with any.  My ideas are all shot.

So that’s where you fine folks come in.  I need ideas of stuff I can make.  Keep in mind the whole “no crafty bone in my body” thing.  Links would be must appreciated (I need detailed tutorials with pictures, yo!).  And, in the absense of something I can make, send me links to fabulous things off Etsy or the like.  What would YOU like to get in a homemade gift basket?  Bonus points to you if you’ve done this sort of gift before and can tell me what you included.

I’d love to see some fabulous participation on this one.  Help me out and maybe get some awesome ideas for yourself while you’re at it.  The economy may be circling the drain, but that doesn’t mean Christmas has to suck this year, right?

Being Cheapskates: We're finally in style!

With the economy circling the drain these days, everyone has had to find ways to cut back, to scrimp pennies and reduce the amount of credit they use.  Which makes Kile and I think, “Wow, we’re finally ahead of the crowd on something!”

We haven’t used credit for much of, well, anything besides our home and vehicles since before we were married.  I was one of those kids who got sucked in by the credit card companies my first semester away at college and then I racked up a huge (at least, it was huge for me back then) debt that I couldn’t pay.  My parents found out, paid it off and then I had to pay them off (which SUCKED because not only did I not have the opportunity to rebuild my credit, but I got about $35 a week off a $300+ paycheck during my summer vacations).  So my credit sorta sucked to begin with.  As did Kile’s.  So we learned then not to rely on credit.

Basically?  If we don’t have the money in our checking account, we don’t buy it.

It’s been hard, especially when we see so many other people over the years who have thrown caution to the wind and purchased whatever and whenever they pleased.  There’ve been a lot of things we’ve wanted that we’ve had to put off or plain not get altogether.  And when we see the Smith’s down the street be able to get big screen TV’s, new vehicles, fancy electronics, etc and so forth, it has caused us to feel a little jealous.  Not enough that we wanted to put those purchase on credit though.  That’s the key.

It sorta sucks when it comes to things like needing to replace a mattress (ahem) or fix a fence or something, but we have always made it work.  We do a LOT of window shopping.  We’ll go out on the weekend and go to a lot of different stores, but it’s mostly just to browse and get out of the house.  We rarely buy things outside of groceries or gas.  We don’t even eat out very much anymore (however, hot dogs at Sam’s Club are fabulous for a cheap, quick lunch at $1.50 for a hot dog and ginormous soda!).

The upshot here is that now when things are looking so grim, we don’t really have to change our budget because we’ve been trying to save money all along.  PLUS, we just paid off our van so we don’t have a car payment anymore.  That’s a good chunk of change each month.

I don’t want to make it sound like I think we’ve got all the right answers.  Believe me, we don’t.  But on the other hand it’s comforting to no longer be the lone pennypinchers in a sea of spendthrifts.