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.

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Step Back

I’m sure you’ve all noticed that over the last several months, my blog has taken somewhat of a backseat in my life.  This has been about a year in the making, it seems.  Ever since Evie was born, I started cloth diapering and then knitting, well… my mind has been focused elsewhere.

I want to make something clear:  I am not quitting the blog.  I’ll probably always have a blog, at least for as long as it is feasible in my life.  Having this sort of outlet is essential to me, I think.

But at the same time, I’ve definitely taken a step back from the marketing of my blog.  I’ve decided that it’s really not for me.  Making a brand out of this blog or my name or whatever, just doesn’t interest me at this stage in the game.  Besides, I never was very good at it.  I don’t have a head for business matters like that.  And I’m not near aggressive enough to make it successful.

I’ve decided that, for now, I’m just happy with my blog as it is right now and if it makes me $50 a month or $0, that’s fine with me.  Anything above and beyond the pure satisfaction of writing my posts and putting them out there is just icing on the cake.

No pressure.  Pure joy.  That sounds like a nice place to be at, yes?

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!

Target is trying to take my money (and Whole Foods makes awesome cupcakes)

That title right there pretty much sums up my weekend.  Well.   Sorta. 

We stopped by Target while we were out (after going to Ben Franklin Crafts and drooling over all the yarn-y goodness) (well, I drooled while the others waited patiently for me to stop drooling).  I wanted to get some diaper ointment for Evie (she has a rather persistant rash on her legs, where the diapers sit) and we wanted to bum around and look at stuff.  

My love for Target is amazing to me.  In fact, I dare say that the more I shop at Target, the less I like Walmart.  And the more I shop at Walmart, the more I like Target.   See how they’re connected there?  I’m convinced that Target needs to open a Super Target here in Reno.   I heard somewhere that one of the only companies that is doing well in this awful economy is Walmart because so many people are having to shop there.  It stands to reason then, doesn’t it, that Target could make good money by expanding their empire?  After all, Walmart Supercenters do better than regular Walmarts.  So wouldn’t Super Targets do better than regular Targets?  

I know I, for one, would shop at Super Target RELIGIOUSLY.  I love everything there.  Our Target, while not Super, is Great (as in it’s a Target “Greatland”) and has a limited selection of groceries.  And there just about hasn’t been a time that we’ve stopped in there that we haven’t been majorly tempted by some of the loveliness that is the Market Pantry and Archer Farms brands.  Kile is especially partial to their roasted almonds.  

So it was that Saturday night we wandered through the aisles of Target, gazing fondly at the wonderful, wonderful products on the shelves.  There was so much that we wanted to take home with us.  It’s the same every time we shop there.  There just isn’t enough money in the world.  That store is a friggin’ miracle.  So… Target?  Would you consider giving us a Super?  PLEASE?  I beg you.  I need a Super Target.  

After that stop, we had to go by Whole Foods.  It’s in the neighborhood and Kile has a major Whole Foods addiction.  And for the last several months, I’ve been salivating all over the goodies behind the bakery counter.  In particular, the cupcakes.  They are always themed appropriately for the season and look so good.  I told Kile that I’d like to have one of those cupcakes instead of a birthday cake this year.  Well, since my birthday is Friday and Kile didn’t think he’d have a chance to get down to Whole Foods again before my birthday, he suggested we get the cupcakes on Saturday night.  

Like I was going to argue with THAT!

Whole Foods CupcakeSee that?  It’s a Christmas wreath!  AWESOME. 

Happy Birthday to Me!Happy (Early) Birthday to me!!! 

Ornament CupcakeHarry was disappointed that the ornament cupcake he picked out wasn’t chocolate like mine so we switched.  Because, truth be told, I actually kinda prefer white cake.  Shh!  Don’t tell chocolate!

Holy Frosting, Batman!Would you look at all that FROSTING??  Interestingly enough, it wasn’t so sore-toothed sweet as a lot of buttercream frosting tends to be.  Very rich, yes, and very yummy.  And the cake was TO DIE FOR.  But as you can see, I had to cut it in half and eat the rest the next night because it was SO MUCH. 

Some of you may think I’m silly for getting so excited over a cupcake but BELIEVE ME, I have a major thing for cupcakes and I’ve been wanting one of these for SO LONG.  I’ve earned the right to wax a little poetic.  

YUM. 

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.  

Temperatures

I was reading a post over at Lost a Sock yesterday where she talked about how warm she liked to keep their house.  And, I swear to you, my jaw about hit the floor.   There are actually lots of people, apparently, who keep their thermostats at 74 degrees.  Or higher!  I think I would probably burst into spontaneous flame if we had our thermostat set at that for more than about, oh, 30 minutes.  

And I realized that there are people who are just plain intolerant to cold.  Much like I am intolerant to heat.  I hate hate hate being hot.  HATE IT.  I have an actual adverse physical reaction to being too warm.  Seriously!  The worst is getting into a car on a sunny but slightly cool day and it’s already warm in the car from the sun coming through the windows but then they turn the heater on?  ZOMG.  My skin crawls and I feel an overwhelming urge to PANT, I kid you not.  I cannot stand being warm.  Why I don’t just migrate to the Arctic Circle, I have no idea.  

We are misers around these parts and have been long before the current financial crisis ever hit.  I guess it’s just lucky that I like to be on the cool side anyhow.  During the winter, we have our thermostat set to 62 or so during the day.  I bump it up if I need to, like when we get a storm and it’s cooler outside than usual.  Generally, the house keeps it’s heat pretty well since the majority of the windows face the south side of the house and if the sun is shining, that goes a long way to keeping the place warm.  The thermostat goes up to 68 for a couple hours first thing in the morning to warm up the house and then again in the evening.  At night, we set it back to 58.  Because if there’s one thing I hate, it’s when the heater runs while I’m sleeping.  Even unconsciously, while I’m sleeping, I will toss and turn and wake up and sweat.  It’s awful. 

I generally wear my fleecy pajamas, slippers and a cozy robe during the day.  Sometimes I put a blanket on my lap when I’m watching TV.  The little kids too wear fleecy, cozy jammies during the winter months and when we dress for the cold, well, it works in the house too.  We’re not the sorts to wear shorts and t-shirts during the winter months.  If it’s 30 degrees outside, I figure I should be wearing a sweater.  It’s not worth the heating bill just to be able to wear a t-shirt when at home.  

I like it cold when I sleep so I can wear cozy pajamas and snuggle under a down comforter and flannel sheets.  The boys both wear cozy pajamas and snuggle under a pile of covers.  They haven’t complained about it and both have their favorite blankets.  I always make sure Evie is wearing warm pajamas and even then she gets tucked under a double-width fleece blanket.  Her room, like ours, faces the north side of the house so it’s cooler than the rest of the house.  As such, we’ve put a space heater in her room and we ran it last night to great success.  She stayed warm and cozy all night long.  I’ve already mentioned that I like it cool when I sleep and we even have the ceiling fan running on low in our room at night so that things don’t get too stagnant.  

So tell me this: Are we crazy?  I promise, if you ever came to visit we would bump up the heat for you.  But in the meantime, we sure do enjoy the comparatively small heating bills!  What do you keep your thermostat at?  And aren’t electronic thermostats just THE BOMB?  Makes life SO much simpler. 

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In other, completely unrelated news, I have a new review up over on ye olde review blogge.  PBN saw fit enough to send my nine year old a Wii game to review and I think it’s safe to say that he thought it was the coolest thing to ever come in our mail EVER.  What can I say?  The boy likes video games.  So yeah.  Go check it out.

How much will YOU save?

I found this link and had to go check it out.  Isn’t technology fabulous?  I love that I can actually physically SEE how much money I would save on my taxes under Obama versus McCain.  I save money either way but isn’t almost twice as much twice as good?  That’s what I thought. You know you want to go find out how much money you’ll save too, don’t you?  Go give it a whirl!

In other news, I hope to go vote this week, as a part of early voting.  You know, since I don’t expect to be changing my mind anytime soon.  Heh.