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Archive for July, 2011

Sleepover!

July 29th, 2011 at 09:10 pm

I got off early today (well, off at 2pm after working 8 hours..but earlier than my normal 5pm on Fridays.) I picked up my grandson (7) and we are having a sleep over. When I got home, the box of Littlest Pet shop stuff that I bought on Ebay had arrived. The pets and accessories will be split between two granddaughters for the birthdays at the beginning of Sept. There is way more than I expected. I bought it all for $84...and there is probably $300 worth of stuff here.

I knew Id done good when my grandson got so excited over all of it saying over and over how lucky his cousins are! He played with everything all afternoon!Houses, accessories, pets...the girls will love it. And it is all in good condition.

On the night of August 12-13, the Perseid Meteor shower will be most visible. It is a Friday night, so I am planning a BIG sleepover, bbq-potluck with the family...I even rented a jump house for the kids. I watched this event last year and it was really cool. I think it is most visible in the northern states...not sure. But the meteors are already starting to show. Leaving my house at 4:30 a couple mornings this week, when I looked up I saw a couple of them. They look like shooting stars with long tails..and a little brighter. Fun, freebie from Mother Nature.

I splurged on myself this afternoon and bought one of those pads to put my laptop on when it is on my lap. Not having one was getting so hot and uncomfortable. I spent $24.99 and got a nice one - boy what a difference. I had tried using books, towels, a box, etc...nothing worked quite right...so with the hotter weather, I decided to just buy something made for the purpose, and it is so nice!

Very grateful the weekend is here. I am so looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. Smile

Twelve Hour Days

July 26th, 2011 at 08:42 pm

My day started before 5am...and I didnt get off until almost 5:30pm...wowza. After 9 hours, I had to attend a 3 hour meeting and keep the minutes- hard to do when you are so tired and your brain is drained. (If I wasnt salary, I think I would be a little more excited about it.) And, I get to do it again on Thursday. The good news is that I can make it a short day tomorrow. Smile I have to say, I kinda like starting really early...and having so much time at the end of the day when I get off after 8-9 hours. (12 is just too many)

Im not sure what my days will look like on Friday and Monday. My assistant is off because she is getting married Saturday...together, we tag team supporting the CEO, so if she is not there, I should be- even if I start at 5am. Then I have jury duty on Tues-Thurs. Obviously, I need to figure out this crazy schedule.

While I would like an opportunity to serve on a jury, showing up is pretty much a waste of time. In my job, I work closely with law enforcement and am friends with many of them...defenders tend to disqualify me quickly for some reason. But I will go and see what happens.

I am starting to catch up a little financially now that DS sold his business and I am not needing to subsidize. He was able to pay me back the $600 I loaned him a couple of weeks ago, which will go back into the Christmas account.

Ds will leave on Sunday for interviews in Central-Northern California next week. I have zero doubt he will be hired. He is staying in the same business, and will make a great employee. I am so sad to know he is going, but am very proud and supportive of his decision and brave choice to do so. His wife and babies will stay up here until the first of the year- just to make sure he is certain this is what is best for his family. For that reason, I know I will see them often at least until after Christmas.

Ok...time to get to bed. 4am will come mighty early.





Job Seekers Beware

July 23rd, 2011 at 08:47 am

I work for a credit union and often see scams that are trends occuring with our members.

There is an old scam resurfacing big time that job seekers (js) need to AVOID.

The scam starts by the js reading and responding to an ad on craigslist, a job website, or receiving an unsolicited email about 'Mystery Shopping'. The correspondence back and forth can look very legit. THe js stands to earn good money, simply by 'shopping' at local stores and completing evaluations on the store. AND..the js will get paid up front!! (sound good so far?)

The instructions and a check arrive fed ex (occasionally, it will come in the mail..but this is rare as the scammers dont want to waste any time and give the js an opportunity to talk to others and learn they are being scammed.) The check is always for much more than the js stands to make, so the js is instructed to keep their pay plus any expenses and return the extra via western union or wire transfer. THIS IS THE SCAM. The check looks VERY legitimate..but they are ALWAYS fraudulent. Once the money is sent back, the js will be out when that check is returned. The checks sometimes take weeks to come back depending on how the scammer created the check. The js will be liable to the bank for all money lost.

Over the years I have seen MANY versions of this scam. People trying to sell their vehicles or other big ticket item, Bed and Breakfast owners, etc. The scammer offers to buy the item or service and sends MORE than needed to cover the purchase, then asks to have the extra sent back via western union or wire transfer. SELLER BEWARE!

Unfortunately for the job seekers and the sellers, usually they are tempted to take these offers because they really need the money and they end up in worse financial shape than they started.

If you ever receive a check (or know anyone who does)and are asked to send money back..(these scammers are tricky and will move onto a new twist when folks stop responding to this one)...ASK your credit union or bank teller if it sounds legitimate. They are trained to catch these scams and will help you with determining what to do.

The old saying is so true...If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Stay financially safe! Dont let a seemingly good deal over-ride your better judgement.

DS sold his business today

July 22nd, 2011 at 09:30 pm

My son sold the business this morning. Bittersweet. Now he can get a job with benefits and a regular paycheck/schedule (hopefully) We reflected back last night...if the economy hadnt tanked, he would have done very well. In his third year he made almost $100k in sales...and had a three year growth of 15-20%. This year was on track for less than $60k. Not enough to support the expenses and his family. I am proud of him for making this tough call.

I finished up my first week with the temp hours (4:45am to 1:30pm)....getting up that early is new for me, but I LOVE getting off so early. I was able to get so much more done at work having the time in the morning before my staff showed up...and then got so much more done at home having so much of the day left. I am tempted to work this routine into some sort of on-going schedule!!

The only thing I havent really focused on yet is my goal of retiring in 10 years- but I will. Smile That is still a very exciting thought and something I intend to plan out and prepare for! My job offers a great 401k plan, which I am participating in. My employer contributes 8% so long as I contribute at least 5%. While the economy was so depressed, they considered doing away with this benefit. THANKFULLY, that never had to happen!

August and September are very busy birthday months for me. 9 birthdays in all. Two of my grandaughters want Littlest Petshop stuff. I checked them out on Amazon and they seem ridiculously expensive. Having so many birthdays, I HAVE to stick to a budget, which unfortunately does NOT afford many of the Petshop items for either GD. So...I checked on Ebay...and found 4 houses, over 100 pets, and about 100 extra pieces...gently used for $84. (Less than the cost of the houses alone...) And since I budget $40 per grandchild birthday, this fit in nicely with my budget.

My job gets vendor gifts at Christmas..and I always ask for the leftover gift baskets...so I have a couple of nice, big ones. I will use those to 'stage' the stash of petshop items for each girl. At 4 and 6- and the way weve raised them, they will be thrilled and probably will never notice that they arent NEW. I will post pictures when I get them all ready.

Welcome weekend! No big plans, but really looking forward to sleeping in a little tomorrow!!

New (temp) schedule at work

July 19th, 2011 at 09:19 pm

One of my roles at my job is to direct facilities maintenance and construction. We are about to remodel an office and build another one. In order to continue to serve our members, the work will need to primarily occur before and after our business hours. Starting tomorrow and for the next few weeks, my day starts at 4:30am. Or, when I am taking the late shift, my day wont start until noon and end at 9pm. (e-stinkin- gads) In a way it is a good thing, as I will have a few hours of uninterrupted work time each morning or evening...AND on the days I work early, I will be getting off at about 2pm.

Tonight, DD1 and I visited Kohls. She had 30% off. I found a great sale for kids clothes...t-shirts and shorts on sale for $2.20 each. My DD2 recently became a foster parent to two beautiful little ones.
The little girl is 2 1/2 and the little boy is 5 months old. The mother is only 18 and was in a very abusive situation- but was also not doing well caring for the babies. THe little boy has a flat head from being left in his car seat day and night (literally). Poor little guy also had no leg muscles as he was not held up or ever put in a bouncer. VERY sad situation. Anyways, we scored at kohls using the 30% off. I got both of the foster children 4 shirts and a pair of shorts for only $15!! I also picked up a baby shower gift for a co-worker.

FINALLY, my garden has truly taken off. The plants all look happy and are growing like crazy. There are lots of signs of veggies to come!!

Well, I suppose I better get some sleep. I have a feeling 4:15 is going to come mighty quickly once I close my eyes!!



I have a financial focus-

July 18th, 2011 at 06:41 pm

We had a wonderful time camping this weekend. The campsite was only $16 per night and it is right on the river. Last night we had much of the campground to ourselves. I remember just a few years ago when, during the summer, the campground stayed almost full. A sign of the hard economic times that even $16 per night is too much for some...well, that plus the additional higher cost of gas to get there I suppose.

There was even a music festival going on in the area, so when we walked to the little ice cream shop we were able to listen to live bands while enjoying our cones. ($5) Music- free.

I talked to the hub about a BHAG goal I have been pondering, which is to retire in 10 years at 60. He is supportive of the idea..but I have some serious financial work to do to achieve this. I have some debt to pay off...and I have to build savings. We currently own two homes. One has equity; the other newer home, has lost significant value and is about $30k under the value I paid for it. However, it is in a very desireable location, so when home values turn around, I know this will recoup some of the loss. The question is, do I hold and wait....or not. A huge caveat is that I got the loan through my current employer. They sold it, but I will have to find out if it will affect my job if we decide to short-sale.

I intend to start doing plenty of homework on this new goal. Just thinking about retiring in the future is exciting. My hub is 7 years younger than I am, so he plans to work at least 10-14 more years, which will get us to my social security/medicare age ( if either is still around by then). Having stayed home for a couple of years to care for parents a few years ago, I KNOW I can live frugally and within our means....no matter what 'our means' is..

Suddenly, I have a clearer financial focus than I have had in a long time. Smile Funny how BHAGs do that.

BHAG= Big, Hairy, Audacious, Goal!!

Turning the page on this chapter....

July 14th, 2011 at 08:58 pm

My son has found a buyer for his business. I have to agree with him that it is time to sell. Of course my gut wrenches at the thought of selling for pennies on the dollar that Ive sunk into the business...but it is what it is. A very expensive learning experience. They will need any money they get out of it to move and re-establish. The silver lining for me will be that they will become self-sufficient as a family and the hole will be plugged for the sinking business- which will save me about $1000 a month. sigh. A bittersweet decision for sure.

I just watered the gardnen and see that I have a couple of ears of corn starting. Smile Everything else is taking off- I am still hoping the garden will pay off. Last year, my zucchini was mass producing...this year...nothing yet. I see some progress on the newer plantings...but I think the colder, wetter weather this year has definately affected production.

I took Monday the 18th off. The hub and I are going back to the beautiful campground on the river this weekend and catching the music festival there. It should be a nice, relaxing weekend!! I went to the grocery store tonight and bought steak, hamburger and hot dogs for the weekend...plus all the extras and even peanuts for the squirrels. Now to pack the clothes, etc. Im excited to get back up there.

I cant believe I will have been back at my job 5 years in a few months...at which point I will start earning a few more days of vacation-- almost 6 weeks per year. I am not one to accumulate tons of extra time on the books. I do keep two weeks banked for emergencies, but otherwise I use my PTO. I already have the two weeks banked...so next year I will take six weeks worth of time off. I reworked the budget to afford extra $$ for that time. Now to start planning what to do!

Ok. Time to pack...got a fun weekend to prepare for!!

Cant wait to camp again!

July 10th, 2011 at 04:51 pm

The hub and I took a drive up to the campground we like to see if the camp host would let us reserve a good spot for next weekend. They DID! Next weekend there will be a big music festival within walking distance (within a mile) by the campground, so we anticipated the campground would fill up. Now, just waiting for this week to go by! The temprature between here where we live, and the campground, is about 15-20 degrees cooler- this makes it SO NICE during these hot summer days!

Tonight we are bbqing some steaks we got on sale...and having taters and grilled corn on the cob. Smile Should be a fun evening.

Family....sometimes its complicated.

July 9th, 2011 at 07:32 pm

Life seems to have a way of opening doors for us to exercise our character. I will try to keep this long story short...

I divorced my ex-husband over 20 years ago. My ex, who was the youngest of four brothers, was adopted to a distant family member when he was three and raised as an only child. While the ex and I were married, he met his oldest brother 'Jimmy'. After my divorce, I got to know Jimmy better as he kept in contact to know my children, his only neices and nephew. The brothers (my ex and Jimmy) never established much of a relationship and later basically disowned each other. The other two brothers have sadly died.

Jimmy's health is deteriorating, and so he moved this week to Oregon, to be near his only remaining 'family' which is me, my kids and grandbabies. I have promised to look out for him and to be here to help as he needs.

Tonight, Jimmy came over for a bbq with us- all the kids and grandbabies came. Jimmy beamed to be with 'family' finally. Of course we welcome him with open arms...I just have to smile at how this life story has played out. And I am glad that fate brought Jimmy into my kids lives. Since my brother died before marrying- and my ex was basically an only child....my kids would have never known an uncle or aunt...but because of Jimmy, they are blessed with that relationship. And Jimmy has no family left....so he loves me and the kids as his family.

We kept the bbq cheap...just on sale hamburger, buns and DD1 brought some pasta salad...the whole night cost about $20 for 14 of us. It was a nice way to welcome 'Uncle Jimmy' home...and just like that, our 'immediate' family grew by one more. Smile



UFO...(UGO, actually) in my garden

July 8th, 2011 at 09:01 pm

I have an unidentified growing vegetable (plant) in my garden...it grew last year and I basically ignored it. This year, I put a little plant food on it and it is thriving. Considering it is obviously a perinneal, Im thinking collard green...but Im not sure. I think I will take a leaf to the grange and ask to have it identified. Hate to see a good edible plant go to waste.

The hub and I are planning to return to the river campsite next weekend for a couple of days. The campground is hosting a music festival with about 15 bands over a three day period. We will buy tickets for one day...and then just enjoy the river the other day or two. The one day tickets are $20 and the campsite is $16 per night. So for both of us, the weekend will cost $72 plus gas to get there.

The hub heard that they are starting to hire again up on the slope in Alaska, so he is applying. He loved the routine of working 4 weeks on, two weeks off...and so he is really hoping to get rehired. I have mixed feelings about this, but ultimately, if it is what he really wants, I will support it.

Last night, a group of us took my friend, who recently lost her son, to dinner. She is struggling to understand how she is supposed to go on without him. I tried to just listen...and offer support. Everyone else left and she and I stayed until the restaurant closed- I just let her talk and tried to reassure her that she did the absolute best she could have done for him. Sadly, the 'what if Id done it different' thoughts are creeping in for her. It was so terribly sad- as she did everything she possibly could have done for him. sigh.

My corn is thriving, I have sunflowers growing, and the rest of the garden looks good...so I am hopeful we will have fresh homegrown veggies soon!!

Super glad the weekend is here. Plan to enjoy every second!

Welcome Summer...finally...

July 6th, 2011 at 08:44 pm

We have had a consecutive week of sunshine, and the weather is in the 90's, so I am thinking summer may have arrived. This is good news on a few fronts.

First, my poor garden has been slow to take off, but this past weeks sun has kicked it into gear at last. The plants are green and vibrant and I have a few veggies starting to pop on the vines. Smile

Second, with the sun, comes the pests....so my son has been busy and self-sufficient for a couple of weeks, which means I am able to get back on track with my budget. This is exciting, because it has been months since I have not had to supplement the business. I have put a good deal of effort into my budget, paying bills and allowing for all the other things like vacations, birthdays, christmas, etc. Getting to stick to it and still have $ left for savings is NICE.

I am so busy at work. I am training an intern, losing one of me key employees on Friday. Thankfully I have hired her replacement...although he wont start until August 8th. I am NOT looking forward to this next 4 weeks juggling the vacated position and training this intern and then training the new guy. In the meantime, I have several construction projects to cooredinate, and an assistant getting married on Jul 30 and....well, just OMG.

Weekends will be very welcome and important to sanity this summer. THANK GOODNESS I didnt take any summer courses!!!

Tomorrow night a few of us are taking my friend, who just lost her son last month to cancer, to dinner. Again, I think of what she is going through and my problems are so small. My perspective is easily adjusted because of this.



Camping

July 5th, 2011 at 08:04 pm

I thought I would share this past weekends camping fun with everyone. It was such a nice weekend. We spent three days on the river...$16 dollars a nite + cheap but wonderful camp food = good, inexpensive yet unforgetable memories. Such fun. We plan to do this many more times. This campground is about an hour from our home.

We camped here...it was gorgeous!



This is a trail we took to do some site seeing nearby...


My grandaughter caught her first fish...


My grandson and I collected bags of pinecones and tossed them into the river. We counted One...two...free...and threw them in. I estimate 30 pinecones had a new water home that day. He needed a nap later...


Later, the babies went home with mom and dad...and we enjoyed quiet time. The hub fished, and I watched the sunset with a glass of wine...