Monday, December 28, 2009

The Crack in the Ceiling

Well, if it isn't one thing, it's another.  We suddenly had a big, scary crack open up in the ceiling in our Dear Child's room on Shabbos.  My Eldest Daughter's kitchen is directly above and it turns out that water has been leaking from the sink under the base cabinets and I guess the floor is giving way.  Did I say scary?  Very, very scary. The fridge is right beside the cabinets in question and one of our first moves was to Move. The. Fridge.  Because, you know, it isn't heavy or anything.  Luckily a friend's non-Jewish boyfriend and his dad happened to come over and moved it for us.

The fridge is now in ED's living room, which isn't great but it's a lot better than having it in DC's bedroom!  If we hadn't moved it, that would have been a distinct possibility.  Considering that it would have landed at least partially on the bed I'm wondering if we should be bentching gomel!  (This is a short prayer said in shul thanking G-d for having been saved from a life-threatening situation.)  Dear Child was sleeping in there when the crack developed and I was also in there for part of the night because she had a bad dream and I snuggled her back to sleep.  Of course, I didn't see it then because it was dark but it was apparent first thing in the morning.

My son-in-law came back from his parents' place with the girls late Saturday night (the original plan had been to drive back today) and we've done a bunch of preparatory work.  DC's room has been emptied except for her dresser (far enough from the damaged area), one kitchen cabinet has been removed and the flooring pulled up.  Next, S-in-L plans to open up DC's ceiling to assess the damage from below and determine how far the problem goes.  Not that it really matters.  The next cabinet to come out is the sink cabinet and then there a couple of small ones and a large corner cupboard.  It only makes sense to take them all out because they'll never be able to match them.  That means they're going to be doing dishes in the bathroom for a while.

The lucky thing is that IKEA is apparently having a Kitchen Event starting January 4th.  (I'm not sure why they're doing that, as they just had one for the whole month of November, but let's not look a gift horse in the mouth.)  The kids can't even really afford to do an IKEA kitchen right now (plus new sink, faucet, counter, etc.) with the baby due in a few weeks but this is work that can't be put off in any way.

Once the floor and subfloor are repaired and we're sure everything is safe they can replace the cabinets.  Oh yes, and install his parents' gift to them -- a new dishwasher!  And we can fix the ceiling in DC's room.  Maybe we'll finally get around to replacing her light fixture with the one we bought ages ago.  I'm also seriously thinking about ripping up the nasty carpet in her room and putting in Dri-Core and a wood floor.  I mean, everything is out of there.  When else are we going to do it?  I still have some materials left over from when I did the living room, but I'd need some more at least.  It won't cost a fortune because I'm pretty sure the room is less than 100 square feet.  We'll see.  I do want to get the room back in order fairly soon though.  Right now she's sleeping with one or the other of us and her "stuff" is all over the living room and kitchen.

The really frustrating thing is that this is happening just after my daughter and S-in-L finished redoing their girls' bedroom because the roof had been leaking and there was water damage to the ceiling and wall.  It seems like there is always money to be spent somewhere (and big money at that!).  They can't really afford it much better than we can.  As for me, the only money I'll spend is on flooring if I decide to redo the floor.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Friday and the Very Bad Car Day

For some reason I thought I had posted about this, but I obviously didn't.  Sleep deprivation will do that to you, I guess.

We've been having problems on and off with the car, often at night or when it's very cold.  You insert the key in the ignition and...nothing.  Maybe a click, maybe an attempt at turning over, maybe not.  It didn't always happen after the car had been sitting for a long time.  Sometimes you could be in the midst of a series of brief stops and the car could work fine repeatedly and then just not work.  We figured it was one of 4 things:
1. a battery problem, including a dead cell
2. an alternator problem
3. the starter solenoid, or
4. an intermittent electrical system problem

We were trying to arrange to get it in somewhere to be looked at (and had actually booked an appointment for the middle of the day on Tuesday, which I just this second realized needs to be cancelled) but it died on us early Friday morning, parked on a major street a couple of blocks from home.

BCAA came and jumped it and my son-in-law got it home while I took everyone to work and school in the van instead.  Then it stopped again at the house and couldn't be restarted.  BCAA had to come back to take it to a shop to be worked on.  The dealership that I'd made the appointment with was too far away but they took it to another place that was quite close.  Interestingly, they didn't tow it but showed up with a flatbed truck and loaded it onto there.

The small shop it went to replaced the battery and some clamps that attach the battery to the car.  It turns out that the battery was oozing sulphuric acid and the positive terminal was corroded through.  The final bill was $238, less than a third of what it would have been for a new alternator.  That's something to be thankful for at least.

Of course, all of this took most of the day and caused endless stress on the shortest Shabbos of the year.  We did get it back before Shabbos, but we were cutting it pretty fine.   I never got to Safeway since I didn't have a vehicle and that meant we were out of a couple of things we really needed.  Milk, for instance.

I can hear someone saying, "But you drove the van".  Well, yes.  But my son-in-law needed that back when preschool let out at 11:30 am.  That's when he took his 2 girls and drove them to Hope.  His folks live up north and met him there because they're taking the girls for 10 days or so.  So I didn't have a vehicle and my Hubby had to borrow the van from work to pick me up so we could play musical cars when the thing was finally ready.

In all of this mess Dear Child ended up not going to school for the last day before winter break, mostly because I had no way to know if I would be able to pick her up!  However, I had to go to her school anyway in the morning because I had all the notes for all the teachers and all the gifts for them for Hanukkah/winter break and they had to be given to them that day.  Then Dear Child hung out with her big sister, who had a dentist appointment at the mall while I worked and waited for the saga of the car to unfold.

It was a horrible day and I was very tempted to take the car and have it crushed into a large paperweight but I resisted the temptation and am now able to drive again.  This makes over $2,800 in repairs these past few months, $2,000 a year ago and 3 pairs of rear tires (roughly $600) in the past 8 or 10 months (due to the bent axle).  Actually, the final pair of tires (winter ones) are supposed to be bought tomorrow so we can put the other winter tires on too.  Then we'll be able to drive to the house at some point during winter break.  We hope.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spending My Hanukkah Money

I got $100 for Hanukkah this year; $50 in cash and a $50 Chapters card.  After Shabbos was over I went out to Chapters and spent it all!  Well, technically, I have about $9 left because I bought Thank You cards for my Hubby and I don't think that should come out of my present money!

What did I get for all that money?  Mostly I spent $42 on a book that I've been wanting to buy for about 30 years!  It's a book by John Seymour titled The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It and it has pretty much everything you might ever want to know how to do in it.  Want to plan a 1 acre or 5 acre farm?  Want to keep bees?  Make mead?  Set up a cowshed or dairy?  Make wine?  Spin wool?  Thatch a roof?  It's all in this heavily illustrated book.

I read it years and years ago and it's been in the back of my mind ever since we started talking about our retirement plans.  It was the single best purchase I could have made with my gift card!  I also bought a paperback and the latest copy of The English Garden magazine, which I buy every time I see a new issue.  Because I spent $50 I was able to buy a lovely soft off-white blanket for myself for $25.  My Eldest Daughter got this same blanket in dark grey earlier and I fell in love with it immediately.  It just feels so warm and soft, perfect for sitting on the sofa and reading a book.

I got my Starbucks card from Bankrupt Betty at Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy in the mail Thursday or Friday so I stopped for a decaf white mocha once I paid for my books.  (The Chapters I went to has a Starbucks at one end.)  Mmm, mmm good!  Thanks!

So ends Hanukkah this year....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Little Math

I mentioned paying down money on my credit card in two ways in my last post.  I haven't yet started making the direct payments I listed as a goal but here's an update on the regular monthly payments I'm already making.  I (aim to) pay $90 every 2 weeks and last month I was charged $87.36 in interest.  So I lowered my credit card debt by a total of $92.64 last month.  The previous month I only made one of the 2 payments because I was juggling a lot of other bills and was trying to get current on everything.  I paid $88.19 in interest and therefore my $90 in payments lowered my debt by a whopping $1.81 that month. So I was charged $0.83 less in interest this month than in November.

In January I'll be charged less interest than I was this month and so on.  So, when I say that I'll pay down $1,080 in regular credit card payments, that means just one of my $90 payments each month will reduce my debt by that amount.  My other payment each month goes mostly towards interest at this point but a couple of dollars of that are going towards reducing the debt too and that amount is rising by close to a dollar per month.  I'm definitely no math whiz and won't even take a crack at figuring out what the interest charge will be a month from now (and therefore the difference between the $90 paid and the interest charged), but lets ballpark the difference at $3.50.  Then, in February, it would be around $4.50, in March around $5.50 and so on up to $14.50 in December of next year.  It will be more than that because of the way compounding works, but I'm trying to keep it simple.  Add all those small amounts together and I get $113 extra in debt reduction over what I budgeted for in my goals!

It gets even better.  I overlooked the fact that I pay every 2 weeks, not twice a month.  That means there are 2 extra payments per year or another $180 that I'll be automatically paying down that I didn't even think about when I first wrote out my goals!  That's almost another $300 I'll pay down without even doing anything different.  And, when I start making those extra payments of $50 every two weeks, that will bring down my balance even faster, meaning even smaller interest charges every month than I had figured on!  I love to see compound interest working in my favour for a change.  And what I had originally dismissed from my calculations as an almost immaterial amount will snowflake gradually into a serious amount of money by the end of next year!

Of course, all this is contingent on making the payments as planned and not charging anything new (or paying it off within the month, which would have a minimal effect on the interest charged).  But just running these numbers, rough as they are, makes me feel so good!  I really can make significant progress in reducing my debt!  I'm going to get out of debt as soon as possible and buy my little piece of land (and then pay it off before we hit retirement age).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Goals for 2010

Okay, so here are my financial goals for 2010, with a few goals for our rural house and my fitness thrown in.  There are a lot more goals here than last year but many of them should be relatively easy to carry out.  For instance, I already wrote and sent in all the post-dated cheques for that $1,500 of debt and the $1,080 in regular credit card payments will happen if I just pay $90 every 2 weeks.  In fact it will be more than that but I don't know exactly how much more.  Last month I paid just over $88 in interest, so there's about an extra $2 that I'm paying down, plus the interest I'm charged goes down every month as my balance declines.

Just before I start listing goals I wanted to share that I logged onto my credit card website the other day to see if my most recent payment had posted and if the statement was available.  It wasn't, but I got a shock when I looked at my available credit.  I guess starting to pay $90 every 2 weeks has had an effect.  My credit limit has just been increased by $3,000!  You keep hearing about the opposite happening these days.  People are complaining that their credit limit has been cut or that their interest rates have increased.  Well, not only has my credit limit increased, but I've noticed over the past several months that my interest rate actually declined at least twice!

Financial Goals

  1. Pay down $1,300 directly in credit card debt. Pay down $1,500 in other debt. Pay down $1,080 in regular credit card payments. Total: $3,880. Round up to $3,900. 
  2. Open a TFSA and put $1,300 into it.
  3. Put a minimum of $520 into the Emergency Fund.
  4. Put a minimum of $520 into my RRSP.
  5. Keep putting money into my set aside accounts, rural credit union account, etc.
  6. Keep current on all my bills.
  7. Come up with $3,000 for Dear Child’s dental surgery.
  8. Pay off both Home Depot payment plans on time.

Rural House Goals
  1. Plan out and create a garden in the front of the house (south west side of driveway area). 
  2. Plant lavender border. 
  3. Go to house 2x per month in summer. 
  4. Finish new floor in master bedroom.

Physical Goals

  1.  Get weight down to 120.
  2. Walk for at least a half hour per day (or use elliptical for same length of time).

Okay, so there are my goals.  How about yours?


Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah started Friday night, which meant that we had to light Hanukkah candles before Shabbos candles.  That's always pretty tough when Shabbos comes in so early and we get to do it again next Shabbos because that's the beginning of the last day of Hanukkah.

We lit and gave Dear Child a present: new hat, scarf & mittens set.  She got candy gelt and real gelt.  This year we're doing the $1 the first night, $2 the second night (and so on) thing.  It adds up to $36 per child at the end and the girls are all very excited by the money.  I have DC's present for the end of Hanukkah but, other than pencils with pictures of dreidles on them and a Hanukkah lotto game that everybody will be able to play, we aren't giving her presents this year.  She's hardly deprived however.  She went to a Hanukkah party with my Eldest Daughter and the girls after Shabbos and came home with earrings, nail stickers, candy, a wallet and a Barbie doll!  Tomorrow night is our family party and she'll be getting a gift from her grandparents and each of her siblings.

Tomorrow is a very busy day.  We're going to a Hanukkah party in the morning and then I'll be making lots and lots and lots of latkes in preparation for our party.  It may sound crazy to also go to a party in the morning but, as Eldest Daughter pointed out, if they play hard there for an hour or so we can bring them home and two of them will nap for sure, with DC also possibly napping (though she doesn't normally).  We know there will be bouncy castles (along with crafts, face painting, etc.), so it's a good plan.

In addition to latkes with sour cream or applesauce we're having salmon, cole slaw, raw veggies, a fruit plate and jelly doughnuts.  Amazing as it may seem, the fruit plate is necessary because there are a few people who don't like doughnuts!  I personally can't imagine not liking them but to each their own.  You have a piece of canteloupe; I'll happily eat your jelly doughnut.

To all of you who celebrate Hanukkah, may you have a wonderful holiday filled with light and family and fun times.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Won't Wait Thursday?

Yeah, that's not so great with the alliteration but I didn't really accomplish that much yesterday.  I ended up going out unexpectedly in the evening and then fell asleep in front of the computer after I got home.

It was payday yesterday so I have money to pay some bills.  I've paid my cell bill in full (and it wasn't due until December 24th)!  I also paid CapitalOne and Home Depot the amounts I'm putting towards them every pay period.  I went to the bank and took out $144 in Loonies as Hanukkah gelt to give the girls!  My purse is now a deadly weapon because it's so darn heavy.  I've bought a present for my son's roomie (the name I drew in our gift exchange) and told my Hubby what to buy the person whose name he got.

I went to the deli and got food for Shabbos and put $20 worth of gas into the car.  I've been buying gas at PetroCan and using their points card (and gave Hubby a secondary points card a month or two ago, along with instructions to only buy gas there).  We've got almost enough points (assuming they haven't raised it again) to buy a gas card that gives us $0.05 off our next 200 litres of gas.  Prior to this I used Shell in order to get Air Miles but getting cash off gas purchases has become a higher priority.

I also logged onto ING and set up my credit union account as a linked external account and wrote the void cheque I have to send in to complete the process.  Once they have that in their possession my automatic transfers of $10 per week into the Emergency Fund will restart.  And then I wrote a series of post-dated cheques for another (non-credit card) debt we have.  We'd run through the previous series of cheques and I had had to order cheques from the credit union in order to be able to write these.

I'm pretty darn proud of myself!  I think I accomplished a lot today both in getting prepared for Hanukkah (which starts tomorrow night!) and in working towards financial goals.  I'll try to finish getting my 2010 goals into shape to be posted after Shabbos or on Sunday (even though Sunday is when we're having our family party).

I'll get out of debt and be able to buy my land yet!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Preparing to Create Goals

When I was looking back at my goals for 2009 the other day I wondered why I hadn't succeeded with them.  I've been thinking about that quite a bit ever since and I came up with a couple of thoughts.

The first thought is not original in the least.  I think about this every time it happens, then develop amnesia until the next time I end up majorly off track with my goals.  I forgot about them.  On the face of it, that sounds pretty darn dumb doesn't it?  I forgot that I planned to pay down 1/3 of my total indebtedness?  I forgot to keep current with my bills?  But it happens to me all the time.  I set a goal.  Sometimes I even plan out how to get to the goal.  I start off well.  Then I forget.  It's like falling asleep, waking up and not being able to recall the dream you just had.  Over the years I've come to realize that this zoning out or forgetting is a form of resistance.  What I haven't figured out is why I have such strong resistance to so many types of positive changes (because I'm not just talking about financial issues here).  And why do I forget instead of just rebelling?  Is it a way to be passive-aggressive with myself?

My second thought was more practical.  I need a way (or ways) to help me stay focused on the goal so that I will work toward it and continue to do so until I achieve it.  What will kep me headed in the right direction?  Accountability strikes me as a likely possibility.  Really?  Knowing I'd have to admit failure here on the blog didn't help me keep up with my goals this year, did it?  So maybe I have to be accountable on a more regular basis, like monthly or weekly, or even twice a week.  If I know that every Sunday and Wednesday I have to address how I'm doing maybe I'll actually stay on task.  Setting monthly goals is also an idea, but monthly goals that relate to the overall ones directly instead of additional random goals.

In the end, what got me fired up enough to write this post was going online and looking up a property I had considered earlier this year.  It was smaller than I wanted but in the right price range and I might have done something about it if I'd been able to easily access the money we have tied up in my Eldest Daughter's house.  I didn't because they weren't in a position to refinance and take out that chunk of equity now that my daughter will be going off on maternity leave in the New Year.  In fact, they won't be able to do that until she goes back to work at the end of her year-long leave.  They can't make the ratios while she's only getting 57% of her usual salary.  So I know that my dream is kind of on hold for a year.  And this property isn't on the market currently.  I don't think it sold; I think it was just taken off because there wasn't enough interest in it.

Anyway, I'm using it as a bit of a focal point.  I looked up what the mortgage on it would be and then got serious about figuring out how to pay down some of our debt because I also need to come up with another $4,000 to $5,000 over what I can eventually access.  I looked at how fast I could just put it aside versus paying down debt and then saving, versus doing both at once.  Once I pay off my credit card debt I can take that money and add it to the mortgage payments.  Basically, it looks like I can do this in 18 months to 3 years and then pay off a 25 year mortgage in 5 years.  In the end, I've decided that doing both at once provides me with psychological benefits so that's what I'm planning to do.

Now, I realize I don't have this piece of land and that it may not be available once I reach the point where I'm ready to move on it.  But there have been a few pieces of land in that same price range over the past year so I'm willing to trust that there will be another one if this particular property isn't available.  At least, once I pay down debt and save up that money I'll be prepared to jump on something when it comes up.  Otherwise, the best deal in the world could come around and I wouldn't be in a position to accept it.

I'm still working on refining my goals a bit.  I'll put them up soon, along with how I'm planning to keep myself accountable.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Check Out Mrs. Money's Giveaway!

Okay, one of these years when I have something I can give away I'd like have my own contest.  In the meantime, I just found out about the one Mrs. Money is having over on the Ultimate Money Blog!  You can enter but this is one I really want to win!  She makes her own lavender soap.  How great is that?  One of these days I'd like to make soap with my lavender (as well as tea, cookies, bath bombs and herbes du Provence).  For now I'd like to be able to try hers and the dish cloths look really good too.

Go check the contest out!  And thanks to Mrs. Accountability for letting me know about it.

Working Up to Setting More Goals

Okay, how can I create a list of goals for 2010 when I haven't dealt with the whole issue of my goals for 2009 yet?  You see, I made a very short goal list for 2009 and Haven't. Completed. A. Single. One.  Of course, it's only the beginning of December and I did clue into this back in October.  I even came up with a bit of a plan then.  I started implementing that but then I never quite finished.

So I feel like the preliminary step is to work the plan that pertains to the current goals before I write up some fancy list of things I'd like to do next year.  Make sense?

Let's see.  Where am I?  My basic steps to take were:

1. Set aside $106 for Home Depot every payday until the beginning of January when the first lump sum comes due.
2. Start depositing $5/week into my ING Emergency Fund.
3. Set up a set aside account and put $10/week into it.
4. Get current on my bills and pay my grown daughter back the $100 she lent me.

And here's what I've done:

1. Done.  Except that I had originally intended on putting the money into ING and then transferring it just before the due date.  In the end I've been paying Home Depot that money every payday.  Now I don't have to remember to transfer the money out of ING a few days before I want to make the payment.  The outstanding amount will just be gone by the time I need it to be gone.
2. Haven't done it yet because I haven't had even $5/week to spare up until now.  In December I plan to start this up again, starting with my next payday (this coming Wednesday).
3. Haven't done it for the same reason as above.  Instead of a set aside account I think I'm going to try just depositing it to my rural credit union account, since that's where all my rural bills come out of and because I really never touch that account except for that purpose.
4.  I think I've gotten current on all the major bills and paid my daughter back $60.  Yes, I still owe her $40.

Next, I'll take care of #2 and #3 on Wednesday.  And I'll be paying my daughter $40.  After that I can start thinking about what to do next year.  One thing, though.  I need some way to keep myself accountable or I'll get 3/4 of the way through the year again without achieving any of my goals.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Miscellaneous Day Here at the Blog

Wow, has it really been over a week since I posted?  I've been commenting here and there on other people's blogs but I keep falling asleep about the time I usually start writing my own posts.  I also had a flareup of a chronic back problem on Tuesday.  I ended up taking a T3 around 11 pm, which meant there was definitely no blogging that night!  I'm the sort of person that, if drowsiness is a possible side effect of a drug, I'll be out cold.  It was still acting up in the morning, so I took 2 Advil at that point.  Luckily, it's better now.

I do have a variety of things to mention.  First of all, another one of my comments was featured in this week's Monday Mailbag on The Simple Dollar!

I've won a Starbucks card from Betty at Bouncing Back from Bankruptcy and I'm thrilled about that!  I can already taste my decaf white chocolate mocha with extra whip!

And I commented on Give Me Back My Five Bucks that Krystal should do one of her December Goals (to come up with her goals for 2010) as one of her famous challenges since all of us PF bloggers are probably planning a similar post sometime between now and New Years.  She said it was a great idea and that the post would go up soon but the post that appeared was her 2010 goals!  Now she's off to Vegas and I'm not sure if she's planning to do a challenge post or if I should do one.  I certainly can't post my goals for next year yet because I'm still working on them.

The next little while is going to be very busy.  I have lots of evenings coming up with parties or other events I need to attend.  I don't normally go out much in the evenings, unless I have to go back to the office or occasionally to attend a class for an hour or so, once a week.  And, a couple of times when I'm not going out, I'll be babysitting my granddaughters because Eldest Daughter also has parties to go to.

We have to seriously think about whether we're going to go to the house during winter break but we have to co-ordinate dates with ED, S-in-L and the girls too.  They'll be away or off part of the time but there are also days when people have to work.  Plus, going is contingent on getting 2 new winter tires because winter tires (and carrying chains) is mandatory through the Hope-Princeton all winter.  I'm still not quite sure how all the money is working out.  We did get the fuel oil delivered yesterday and I paid them via telephone banking this morning, once I'd confirmed the exact amount.  So, that's a relief.  I've also called and left a message for my next-door neighbour, asking him to check to make sure the furnace is going on.  If we had already run dry the reset button has to be hit in order to get the furnace running again.  And it would probably also mean another clogged sensor (with the gunk from the bottom of the tank) and another furnace servicing.  I really hope it's okay but I'm trying to focus on the fact that we have a year's supply of fuel oil now.  If we have to service the furnace I'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Actually, in the last couple of days I've started to worry about the car again.  It's been making a kind of groaning noise when you back out of a parking spot and it's progressed to sometimes making a noise as you start or stop.  It sort of sounds like a transmission issue and I'm so not dying to have to drop more money on the car at this point.  I'm still pretty touchy about the $2,600 or so we've spent over the past couple of months.  Son-in-Law will probably take it in to the place he goes to one of the days that he drives it next week.

Too tired to write any more now.  Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How to Spend Money

What's that you say?  You don't have any problem spending money?  Well, neither do I.  Sometimes I spend it intelligently; sometimes not so much.

Today was a good day, moneywise.  I got paid and promptly turned around and paid a whole bunch of bills.  I paid my cell, water, internet and IKEA in full and am totally current on those.  The IKEA card is closed now because they switched providers and I haven't filled out another application.  I paid $90 to MasterCard, which covers the interest with a dollar and change left over and I'll keep paying them $90 every payday.  (My big problem with them has been that I've only been paying once a month when money has been tight and, at that rate, I should have the card paid off in 500 years or so!)  And I paid Home Depot $106, right on track to have the first of two purchase plans paid off just before it comes due at the beginning of January.

There's a few things that come out automatically, either as pre-authorized charges or as post-dated cheques and the money is in place for all but one of those.  My hubby will have to transfer money into my old bank account when he gets paid at the end of the month and that will cover the service charges and that pre-authorized payment.

Then I went out after everybody got home and bought $50 worth of groceries to last us until Monday and $25 worth of gas.  I'm pretty much broke again but it feels really good to have taken care of all the important things.  I feel today was a success.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Debit Card Woes

My debit card was skimmed the other day and the credit union called me to tell me they were mailing me a new card.  If I needed one faster I could go in to my branch for a temporary one.  Friday was such a short day that I didn't have time to go in and they were closed for the remainder of the weekend by the time Shabbos was over.

This kind of messed me up in a couple of ways.  First, I was supposed to transfer some money from that credit union to the one in the Interior that I pay bills for the house out of.  No card, no way to withdraw cash (and I wanted cash rather than a cheque because I think the hold comes off faster for cash than a cheque).  Second, I couldn't get any groceries, even essential ones without a card.

Anyway, I went in today.  They gave me a new card, a copy of my statement for the past month (no money missing, Thank G-d), I withdrew money from my city credit union, deposited cash and a small cheque (really small, like about $13) into the rural credit union, then went to the grocery store on my way home from work.  I only bought the bare necessities: a protein drink, sour cream, a minestrone soup mix, a box of 6 year old approved cereal, a bag of chips and a bag of cookies (the last two for use in Dear Child's lunches this week).

We had latkes with sour cream for dinner and tomorrow will be minestrone soup.  I'm falling asleep at the keyboard, so that's all for now.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Still Trying to Fix the Blog Feed!

So far, I've asked for help from Google and haven't heard anything useful.  The only response was from someone else who is having a similar problem and also wants to contact someone at Google but couldn't figure out how!

I tried deleting the feedburner feed and redoing it, then deleting my subscription at Google Reader and resubscribing.  It showed me the same thing as before and said that I hadn't yet subscribed, did I want to?  I clicked on "List" (which shows the list of posts instead of the posts themselves) and FINALLY my 2 latest posts appeared at the top and showed as unread.  However, I have no clue how to get rid of those 25 or 30 posts that aren't mine and no way to be sure that more of those fake posts won't appear!

In other words, I still need help!  I can't just contact the person whose blog is attached to mine because when you try to open it you see a home page for a few seconds then get redirected to something called blogpop that says the domain name expired back in October.  Yet all those spammy posts were from as recently as November 15th.  I'm so confused and frustrated.

Sooner or later I'll actually get back to blogging about personal finance and my life.  Depending on how crazy things are around here (my Eldest Daughter is out of town again for a week) it may not be until Wednesday, which will also be payday.  I'm very grateful that this will be a normal cheque but I still probably have more things to pay than money!  The biggest thing I'm worried about right now is the fuel oil situation at the house (and how I'll pay for it, of course).  I was down to 7 or 8 inches of fuel in the tank the last time we were there and it's been pretty cold at night ever since.  Even though the heat there is set at 10 Celsius (and I shrinkwrapped the drafty window) I know the heat has been on a lot.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Insurance Chat

Yesterday wasn't payday, so I didn't have any money to throw at bills.  I'm just hanging on and waiting for next Wednesday.

Today after work, Hubby and I went to meet with someone at our Life Insurance company.  They called him and asked for the meeting and it's good to go occasionally because he also has RRSP stuff with them.  So the big reason for the meeting was that this guy wanted to sell us on switching from term to permanent.

Yeah.  My premiums only change every 20 years.  I'm very happy with the $32 I'm paying per month, thanks.  Not so interested in changing to a $141 premium, especially since I'd have to live to be 76 just to get my premiums back.  Here's a tip: buy term, invest the difference!

It's even better (ha, ha) for My Husband the Smoker!  His premiums go up every 10 years, but even at the point where his term premium would go up to around $200 switching to permanent would double that!  That's insane.  We don't have that kind of money to spend and, if we did, I'd far rather put it into an RRSP so we could enjoy our retirement a little more.

It was nice to get a printout of the RRSPs though, with their interest rates and when they mature.  The rates are actually very competitive, so that's good.

And the other item he talked about was critical illness insurance.  Now, that's something that might possibly make sense for Hubby, depending on how much it costs.  At least there it doesn't count against you if you smoke.  Strange, but true.  He gave us some material on it.  I'll look it over and see if it's worthwhile or not.  This isn't medical insurance, we pay our $108 MSP premium every month and that covers all medical expenses.  This is a lump sum payment if you're diagnosed (and survive for the specified time period!) with one of the illnesses on their list (things like coma, dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis, etc.).  Presumably it's because then you or a family member taking care of you can't work and this gives you money to live on.  Apparently cancer is the big one they pay out on the most and Hubby has a 1 in 2 chance of dying of cancer.  I could hope all this might push him towards quitting (again) but I didn't see any sign of that so far.

Anyway, as far as I can see, the whole reason for this meeting is that the guys at the insurance company aren't making enough money and wanted to see if they could open up a whole new commission for themselves.  I've read that the commissions on permanent insurance are great for the agent who sells you the policy.  No thanks.  I have other uses for my money right now.  They include paying bills and buying food.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Okay, I'm having some trouble with my blog, specifically with the feed.  I set it up through Feedburner about a year ago and I think it's been wonky since then although I didn't realize it for quite some time.  People have complained that they couldn't see any more recent posts than what must have been the last one I did before I set up Feedburner.  I had noticed that when I commented on sites that have Comment Luv enabled it always pointed to that same old post.

Finally I spent a bunch of time playing around with it last night and it looked as though I had it working.  It was a pretty basic error.  I wasn't pointing it at the right URL, which was supposed to be the one Feedburner specified.  I fixed that and it looked fine.  Better still, all my posts appeared in Google Reader.  I went to bed happy.

Sigh.  Then today I tried to comment on a post made by someone who uses Comment Luv.  It pulled up a post okay, but it wasn't my post!  It refers back to a blog called Beckhans Blog and worse, when I clicked on the link it redirected me from there to something that I think was called Blogpop.  It all looked really spammy and I couldn't figure out what was going on.  Now, a reader has informed me that this (bleep) is showing up in Google Reader along with all my missing posts.  I checked and, yes it is.  It's what shows up first and, if you scroll past it all, you finally get to my stuff.

I'm definitely in over my head here.  I don't know what's wrong and I'm looking for advice from my fellow bloggers.  Has my feed been hacked somehow?  Did I set it up wrong?  How can I get rid of this junk so it doesn't appear with either Google Reader or Comment Luv?  At least the spammy posts don't appear when I just open my blog directly!  But I'm really, really frustrated and I can't seem to find an answer.

Hence, my cry for help.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Won't Wait Wednesday, Remembrance Day Edition

Today was Remembrance Day.  It was nice to have a day off in the middle of the week but it's serious business as to why we have the day off in the first place.  I hope you took time today to think about the brave men and women who have fought on your behalf through the years.  Here's a link to last year's Remembrance Day post.

Today was also Wednesday and payday, although it was a pretty sad cheque.  I really hated taking that time off being sick because I knew it was going to hurt all over again come payday.  And it did.  The money came into my account.  I logged on, paid as many of my bills as I could and I'm broke again.  If I'd had a full paycheque I'd have been okay.  I mean, it wouldn't have been tremendous but it would have been enough to get by on until my next cheque.  As it is, we'll just have to see how things go over the next 2 weeks.

I'm really pleased that I'm getting all the bills under control again.  I'm really frustrated that this cycle keeps repeating.  I think it's important that I keep picking myself up and starting over.  I mean, it would be great if I could finally figure out why I keep finding myself back in the same place pretty much every year but at least I don't give up.

I haven't posted in the past couple of days because I've been really tired but I was pleasantly surprised to see that Trent quoted a comment of mine in his Monday Mailbag.  It was about being PC (or not) and was the part of the post this week that was clearly intended to generate a lot of comments.  And it did.

I'm tired again so I'm heading for bed.  Sorry if this post sounds disjointed.  I'm still not 100% and I spent a couple of hours out with my Eldest Daughter today, buying baseboards, a rug and some smaller items.  I think it just wore me out.  Oh, if that wasn't clear, I didn't buy stuff.  She did.  I drove and carried things.  My big luxury today was getting a 2 piece covered butter dish at IKEA.  It was discontinued and cost a whole $1.50.  I love it because it's just the right size for the sticks of butter we use.  We always keep a stick out so it's soft and I really like having a cover for it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm Recovering, So it Must be Time to Overdo

This was another typically crazy Sunday.  I spent about 6 and a half hours laying a laminate floor (including putting down underlay) in my granddaughters' bedroom with my Eldest Daughter.  Hubby took Dear Child and the older of the 2 girls to the movies, which kept them out of our hair.  The "baby" on the other hand was at home and we tried to keep her occupied with videos and dressing up.  There were still a lot of interruptions and she managed to put off her nap for literally hours.  What we wouldn't have done for a typical day where she sleeps soundly for 2 1/2 hours right after lunch!

However, we did almost finish, except for the last row where about half a dozen boards need to be ripped.  We felt 8:30 pm was a little late to be using the power saws outside.  I think we can probably finish up tomorrow after everybody is done with work and school.  If not, we're all off on Wednesday for Remembrance Day.  There's still a new heat register to buy and the baseboards to buy and install.  Luckily they have a nailer that takes both staples and brads.  Equally luckily, I don't have to pay for any of this because it's not my part of the house.

Afterwards I sat down to look at my bills and my bank balances again.  Yes, I had to pay some more bills and still have more to pay.  I have money for some of the remaining ones, but not all, and it's not going to get any better on my payday because I'll be getting just over half a cheque.  Darn being sick anyway!  Once I update my bank book and transfer some more money to the credit union I'll be able to finish paying as many bills as possible.

I'm mostly recovered from the flu now, although I'm still coughing and having some difficulties breathing.  And I'm tired a lot.  By the end of this afternoon I could barely get off the floor to go cut boards and I got kind of shaky but I made it.  Oh yeah.  Remember when I said maybe I'd lose some weight?  I dropped 6 pounds and ended up at 125 (my goal is 120) and I've only gained back one pound since I started eating normally again and getting better hydrated.  I bet my upcoming book, entitled "The H1N1 Diet" will be a best-seller!  No calorie counting, no exercise and you can lose five pounds a week.  What a deal!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Well, I have to say I was surprised to read this excerpt from an email ING sent me on Friday.

"We recently conducted a Twitter survey asking parents what they were least prepared to discuss with their children: sex, drugs, or finances. We heard it straight from Savers – ‘finances' was the hardest to cover with their little ones."

Really?  People would rather talk to their kids about sex or drugs than talk about money?  I mean, it's just money.  You have to deal with money all the time, every day.  If you're going to work you're earning money.  If it's payday you have money.  If you're going to the grocery store you're spending money.  Kids see you doing this stuff all the time, constantly interacting with money.  They're there with you when you're at the ATM or when you swipe your debit card at the gas station.  They see you write the cheque for their school pictures.  Presumably they don't see you in intimate situations or see you turning down people on Granville Street offering to sell you drugs (please G-d)!

So, how can it be easier to talk to your kids about sex?  They don't want to have to entertain the possibility that this is something you've ever done (well, except that once in order to have them, and once for each of their siblings).  And, as for drugs, well whatever they've read on the Internet must be more accurate than what their folks know about drugs, right?

But money is something they know you handle every day.  How terrifying can it be to say "Well, let's look through the Scholastic flier and pick out some books.  I can afford $10 this time.  Do you want the Dora book and the book about ladybugs, or do you want the princess book with the beads you can make bracelets with?  No, you have to choose because the princess one costs $9.99 all by itself."?

Or how about, "I wish we could go to Disneyland, but we don't have the money.  If that's what we all want to do this summer maybe we could start saving for it now, but that might mean we can't pay for swimming lessons this spring."?

Or even, "I know you want a lot of things for the holidays but why don't you make a list of the things you want the most and I'll let your grandparents and Aunty Sue know too.  Just remember, you won't necessarily get all of the things on the list because we only have so much money to spend."?

I mean, how scary was that?  How tough is it to ask your teenager if the benefits at their first job include a pension fund and to suggest that they open an RRSP?

This is almost like the people who say they're most afraid of public speaking, more so than of fire or jumping off a cliff.  Sorry.  My mind's just boggling right now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thinking About Hanukkah

I was reading Abby's post about Xmas and started to post a long comment.  Then I realized the best way to do justice to it would be as a post of my own.

So, what's the deal with Hanukkah?  It isn't really a major holiday in the religious sense, although it seems to be becoming bigger all the time as a lot of Jewish parents try to counter the influence of Xmas, which always falls out within 2 or 3 weeks of Hanukkah.  Religiously, it doesn't rank up there with holidays like Passover or Sukkot.  They're all 8 days long but none of the days of Hanukkah is a Yom Tov (a holiday with restrictions similar to Shabbos).  Of course, there's always a Shabbos during Hanukkah (duh, considering that it's 8 days long) but Pesach and Sukkot have a Shabbos too, in addition to 2 Yom Tov days at the beginning and the end.  Those holidays are also freakishly expensive, just for food.

Hanukkah, on the other hand, is pretty easy foodwise.  I buy 10 lbs of potatoes, some applesauce, some sour cream and a couple of dozen sufganiyot [jelly donuts] and I'm good to go.  Everybody comes over for latkes and sufganiyot one night, we have dreidels [4 sided tops, used in a game] and chocolate gelt [coins].  We all light Hanukkah candles, sing a couple of songs and open a few presents.

Ah, presents.  So, how is Hanukkah different from Xmas then?  First of all, people generally only give to their kids, not to all their friends, relatives, service people, etc.  Second, a lot of folks don't give gifts.  They give gelt, the metal kind as opposed to the chocolate.  Some give a dollar a night, others $1 on the first night, $2 on the second and so on.  Sound expensive?  Doing it the second way adds up to $36 per child and multiples of 18 are all significant because 18 is the numerical equivalent of chai [life].

When my big kids were little I used to give actual gifts, but I usually held it to under $5 for all but the first and last nights.  I'd give about a $10 gift the first night and finish up with one around $20.  Even that is a maximum of $60 per child.  How many people spend that little for Xmas?  I see folks lining up with Playstations and skateboards and CDs and giant Lego sets and Barbie Dream Houses, ad infinitum.  And the kids don't get one big gift, they get a bunch of fairly big ones.  My nightly gifts were more like cool stocking stuffers.  I think it's more fun to get it spread out over 8 nights though, than to get them all at once.

What do we do now, when there are 3 adult kids, 2 partners, a roomie, 1 little kid and 3 grandkids?  Well, we don't really give to the grown ones.  We do a modified gift giving where every adult (including me and Hubby) picks a name and gets that person something because the kids like to do that.  The adult kids each give a gift to their little sister and we started off giving her and the grandkids a gift per night, but it's getting difficult.  First of all, the number of grandchildren (Thank G-d) keeps increasing.  We're up to 3, with a 4th expected early next year.  Second, they all have a ridiculous amount of stuff already.  Third, prices keep going up.  You just can't get the same kind of things for $5 now that you could 20 years ago.  And I'm not crazy about going to the dollar store to buy a bunch of cheap junk just so they each get something every night.  I don't want to give them a piece of plastic that will break tomorrow or just be clutter in a bin somewhere.  I like giving them things I know they'll like and actually use or play with.

A year or two ago we started giving the grandkids less, maybe 3 or 4 or 5 gifts.  Combined with what their folks were giving them, they still had at least one gift to open per night.  Dear Child has continued to get nightly ones from us.

What's going to happen this year?  I don't really know yet, but I think it's time to sit down and figure it out.  I'm probably looking at somewhere between $200 and $300 all told if we do things as usual, and then Dear Child's birthday rolls around at the beginning of January.  And that will be another $200 or so, including the party.  Let's see.  I don't really have an extra $500, so it could be interesting.  There's just over 5 weeks until Hanukkah and I get paid 3 times before then.  I don't think I'll have an extra $100 to put away off each cheque, given that I'm already putting away $106 from each one to pay Home Depot at the end of December.  I'll have to do what I can and see where that leaves me.  I have a $5 certificate from Best Buy and I should check my Ipsos account to see if I have enough points for a reward card from somewhere useful.  I'll plan to write a followup post when I get things figured out a little more.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Still Sick

Well, we had a quiet day at home today with only a brief foray to go to the bank (still moving money from A to B and back again to make sure everything that's coming out is covered).  Came back wobbly and shaking.

Dear Child managed cereal, oatmeal and soup today.  I had tonic water with my Tamiflu.  For dinner I got really daring and had tea and toast.  It stayed down, although I did have a few bad moments about an hour after eating.

We're definitely still staying home tomorrow as DC has to be temperature-free for at least 24 hours before she can go back to school.  Hubby will have to go by the school tomorrow to hand in the picture order because it's due.  I learned my lesson today.  I'm not going anywhere until I'm able to eat properly.  I don't want to be worrying that I'm going to pass out when I stand up.  It's just that I had to make the deposit in person, at a teller, in order for it to go in right away.

And Eldest Daughter has declared us to be "in quarantine".  Her kids aren't allowed down, we don't go up (not up to climbing narrow, twisty stairs anyway) and she talks to me on her cell.  She has things planned out for the duration of the week with the little girls and school, etc.  All I can say is "Good luck".  If the girls don't get it from us they're likely to pick it up at school where lots of kids are already away.  I understand that she wants to minimize the risk, of course.  And frankly, neither of us feels up to seeing anybody at this point anyway so it really doesn't matter.

I'm reading blogs and playing computer games when my eyes and head aren't bothering me.  I always use my laptop in bed anyway.  And DC has been watching TV and sleeping.  I guess it's one way of not spending money.  And maybe I'll lose some of that 10 pounds I've been trying to get rid of (though I'm not holding my breath on that).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Flu Comes Home

Well, it's official. Dear Child and I have the flu. Today was pretty rough. I took our temps around 3:30 pm. Dear Child was 103.7F and I was 100.2F. I found a clinic near our house that was open and called to find out if we could get in. They said there was a 2 or 2.5 hour wait and aked if someone could come in and sign us up. Then we could turn up closer to the time we'd actually be seen. So Hubby took our Care Cards and did that. Then we all went back about 6 and were seen between 6:30 and 7 pm.

The good news is that DC's chest is clear and the doc feels she will recover okay on her own without anything. He gave me Tamiflu (which I picked up totally free at London Drugs, as one course of Tamiflu is completely covered by the provincial government) and I've started taking it.

Of course, it didn't stay down more than an hour or so. I'd been avoiding drinking (yes, I know that puts me at risk of dehydration) because I knew how close I was to throwing up and that drinking would tip me over. DC, again, is doing better than I am because she's been able to take sips of water every 5 or 10 minutes through the day. She even had a little soup for dinner. Me, I'm warily sipping Tonic Water (my standby when I have the flu as it stays down better than anything else) but I'm not at all sure how things are going to go.

Right now, the only thing that's clear is that she's not going to school and I'm not going to work for the next few days. Not sure what Eldest Daughter decided about tomorrow. Understandably, she's not too keen on her 2 catching this, not to mention that she's expecting too and should be careful. She thought it was all a lot of media hype. Not sure if she feels differently now that it's hitting closer to home. I haven't felt well enough to talk to her more than momentarily a couple of times today.

I really, really wish I'd been able to get my H1N1 shot. Giving a doctor 80 doses is just ridiculous and I'm willing to bet that some people who didn't fit the earliest set of criteria managed to get the shot, because most doctors were only discouraging others from line jumping, not preventing it. If I end up in the hospital I'm going to be royally ticked off.

How does this affect me from a PF viewpoint? Well, I'm not fulltime so I don't get sick days. If I don't go to work I don't get paid for those hours. Just what I need at this point.

'Tis the Get Sick

Dear Child came home from school on Friday complaining that she felt warm and achy and had a headache.  She's been just a little warm since then and pretty much herself, only a little toned down.  We had a quiet Shabbos, just stayed home, napped a lot and hung out on my bed.  I read her a whole bunch of Curious George stories and we played some games.  She didn't hang out upstairs at all today.

Tonight I let her go out with her big sister and the girls to a party for a couple of hours and she came back fine but then got hotter.  I know.  I'm probably a bad mother but she begged and Eldest Daughter didn't have a problem with taking her.  I feel guilty now though.  She also started coughing since she came home.  I gave her some Advil and she's asleep but sounding a little hoarse.  She's also giggling like a maniac in her sleep!  I want to know what she's dreaming about because it must be pretty darn funny!  It's been going on for several minutes.

I'm also coughing and feeling a little hoarse but otherwise I feel fine (bli ayin hara, no evil eye).  I just hope we're not coming down with Anything, if you know what I mean (pooh, pooh, pooh).  I still haven't had my H1N1 shot and now they're talking all over the news about how the lineups are huge and there isn't as much vaccine to go around as there was supposed to be.  I'm very frustrated that they didn't have it when I went in the 2nd day it was available.  I'm a high risk person.  I'm supposed to be able to get it.

Anyway, we'll see how things develop over Sunday.  Who knows if we're all going to be going to work & school on Monday or not at this point?  I just keep washing my hands but that's probably not a huge help considering all Dear Child wants to do is curl up and snuggle with me!  I should go and take my FloVent though.  It's supposed to reduce the inflammation in my lungs but it takes several days to really work.  Then I have to rinse out my mouth and gargle because it makes you susceptible to thrush.  Yeah, that would be fun.  Not!

PS Did you turn back your clocks tonight?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Slow Progress

Well, I'm still plugging along slowly. I didn't post for Won't Wait Wednesday yesterday because I fell asleep. Woke up about 4 am and turned the computer off, then went back to sleep.

It was payday yesterday but all my money (and then some) is already earmarked for bills, etc. I did go grocery shopping but I made sure I ate dinner first! I spent just over $106 on food for the week, $20 on gas and about $23 on my prescriptions. Again, that $23 wasn't in the original budget for this pay period. Yet another thing to mess with my house of cards.

Today, I took money from my main account and moved it to my other credit union account and my old bank account for various things that are coming out, as well as lent Hubby $20 for a day. I'm supposed to get it back (along with another $80 he needed previously) tomorrow afternoon.

I won't be able to do too much more until after the 7th when I'll have another $400 to play with. And I do hope Green Shield hurries up with that cheque for $127 for the dental. I'll be paying a couple of bills with that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Tooth Fairy Hates Me

Yes, I really think the Tooth Fairy has it in for me. I went to the dentist yesterday to have my teeth cleaned. I had put it off twice due to scheduling conflicts and didn't want to put it off again even though I didn't have any money. After all, today is payday and I figured I'd give them a cheque dated for today and then I'd have to juggle somewhere else on the bills.

It usually costs me about $50 to $60 for a cleaning. This time, because I'd put it off, they had to do more scaling, etc. I pretty much had a heart attack when the girl at the front desk asked for $159! Uh, that's 3 times what I usually pay. Unfortunately, there was nothing to do but pay it. My hubby's extended medical/dental plan will reimburse us $127 of that, but it will take a couple of weeks to arrive. I'm already looking at about a $500 shortfall without that extra cost and extra time.

Plus, I went to the doctor for my H1N1 shot and to talk to her about how my asthma has suddenly flared up out of the blue. I've had 2 attacks in 2 days when I normally have 2 or 3 attacks per year! And, even then, it's usually something like cleaning for Pesach that triggers it with dust and strong cleaners and exertion. The first time I was just playing with Dear Child on the bed, trying to tickle her while she held my hand. The second was when I carried the baby into the house from the car because she was asleep. I do both those things all the time without a problem.

So, I ended up getting the seasonal shot instead (because they were only given 80 doses for people with underlying conditions and those were *gone* by the time I got there) and a prescription for Ventolin and a temporary cortico-steroid called Flovent. I couldn't fill them yesterday because I didn't have any money. Today I'll find out how much they'll set me back. Again, the extended covers a lot of the cost but there will be some outlay. At least they deduct the plan amount and I only pay the difference. The problem is that I wasn't planning on needing prescriptions when I made my list of bills that Must Be Paid. And I still have to find time to go back to the doctor when they get more of the H1N1 vaccine in. At least it's free. Well, except for the time I lose at work, of course.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Broke and Feeling Down

I'm in a holding pattern again. I'm broke and just waiting for Wednesday when I'll get paid again. At that point I'll be moving money around like crazy, arranging for everything that comes out pre-authorized from one account or another. Then I'll be broke again until my Hubby gets some money and transfers some of it over to me.

Then I'll pay more bills and be broke again. I'm too old for this. I really want to get out of debt but it's hard when things keep falling apart all around me (teeth, pipes, kitchen cabinets, the car, etc.).

When I don't sit around obsessing about money and paying as many bills as possible every time I get my hands on some cash I get into trouble. I buy more food than I expected and don't have enough to pay one or more bills. That's bad, although existing on ramen, eggs on toast, grilled cheese sandwiches and the like isn't great either. Sometimes you just need to buy something crazy. Like a small caesar salad at work, or prepared cookie dough to bake with the little girls. Or a pack of 3 juice boxes for Dear Child to take to school instead of her usual water (which she almost never drinks).

It's raining and grey. I'm waking up in the dark and, as soon as we change the clocks I'll be going home in the dark. I had an asthma attack today (and I almost never have them anymore). What can I say? I'm getting depressed and the financial situation is really getting to me. I think it's SAD season already.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

But She's Coming to Our House Tonight

The tooth fairy, that is. Yeah, I know. Yesterday's post was titled "The Tooth Fairy is NOT our Friend". So, what happened?

I got a call in the middle of the morning from the school saying that Dear Child was fine but she'd lost a crown. As it happened, I was out of the office when I found out and I happened to be in the building where her dentist is located. I went and asked them if she should come in and they said "Yes!". I went back to work, finished some reports, picked up the 2 little girls from preschool, picked DC up from school and took them all to the dentist.

First of all, that's not my favourite thing to do. I just didn't have a choice. And they didn't run too rampant while DC was in the chair and I was talking to the dentist. He said that it had come out cleanly (all the roots having dissolved) and that it wasn't going to alter our plan. That was good news. My fear had been that he'd want to move the surgery up and I'd have to try to come up with $3,000 out of nowhere in a matter of weeks instead of months. The bad news was that I had to pay another $18.48 today that I really didn't have to spare.

I took DC back to school afterwards so she could have her hot lunch (a hot dog on a whole wheat bun, a bag of chips and a bottle of water). I went home for about an hour and a half with the girls and then had to go back to pick her up when school was over. I felt like I spent my entire day in the car (not to mention putting kids into carseats and taking them out).

I'm relieved that I don't have to come up with the money for the surgery any faster. I'm still concerned about how much I have to come up with in a short timeframe ($1,600 for Home Depot by early February and $3,000 for the surgery by about March). The other issue is that we're paying out a lot of money for her teeth and we've spent almost as much recently for the car. That money would have made a really big dent in our already pre-existing debt but it has to go on new stuff instead. That's really frustrating.

Anyway, back to the Tooth Fairy. DC went to sleep with her tooth (in the cute little "tooth box" necklace that her school hands out) under the pillow. She had been all over the place with suggestions for how much the Tooth Fairy should leave, ranging from 5 cents to $100!!! Hubby and I turned out our pockets and came up with a toonie and 2 loonies. I don't think $4 is too bad for a crowned tooth. After all, it's damaged.

The Tooth Fairy is NOT our Friend

Bright and early this morning I had to take Dear Child to the dentist. Today cost me very little, an hour of my time and about $18. Unfortunately, the real bill is coming soon.

As folks who've been reading for a while know, I have 4 kids. Three of them are adults, the youngest is nearly 7. Children 2 and 3 have your average teeth. A few cavities over the years, a little ortho for one of them, some wisdom teeth extracted, but nothing out of the ordinary. Child 1 and Child 2 on the other hand, are giant dental money pits. All four have been raised basically the same. I nursed each of them extensively, including at night. They started solids around 6 months, they've all eaten their fair share of junk. None of them was particularly OCD about sticking a toothbrush in their mouths after every meal when they were little but none of them ran screaming at the sight of a toothbrush either.

Child 1 (a boy), first developed little brown spots all over his baby teeth at about age 2. We'd go to the pediatric dentist, he'd fill them. Six months later, there would be decay around the fillings. We'd put in bigger ones. They'd decay again and there wouldn't be enough tooth left to fill, so we'd crown it. One of them decayed under the crown and formed a nasty abcess. That tooth had to be pulled and a space maintainer put in because he lost it about 6 years early.

This was 30 years ago and people mostly thought we were insane. "They're just baby teeth." "They're going to fall out anyway." "Why would you pay all that money for a toddler's teeth?" Those were examples of the kinds of questions and comments we got. He also ground his teeth so badly that he could be heard in the living room all the way from his bedroom upstairs. I bought a silicone sports mold for him that took care of that, although that was the one place I cheaped out. I could have paid a few hundred dollars for one "custom-made" by the dentist. Instead I shelled out about $20 for a sports one, stuck it in hot water then had Number 1 Son bite it. Voila, instant "custom-made" mouth guard. It worked like a charm.

He's had continual problems with his teeth as a teen and as a young adult. Over the past couple of years he's had most of them extracted and has a full upper and partial lower plate.

Dear Child (Child 4) also developed brown spots as a toddler and it progressed to "apple core" front teeth as we didn't have a dental plan intitially, although we were doing cleanings, etc. She went from a regular pediatric dentist to a specialist one once I sold my condo and we put about $5k worth of work into her mouth at that point. Ten silver crowns, 2 white ones under anaesthetic in a special facility. Now, her 6 year molars are mostly in and starting to show decay (at least one came with a "factory installed" cavity, which is not unheard of because the decay goes down from the existing teeth to the buds below the gumline). One of her silver crowns is sideways in her mouth because the roots are resorbing into her jaw and, of course, it's one she shouldn't lose until she's 12 so she's going to need a space maintainer there when it either falls out or is pulled.

We had a panoramic x-ray done 3 to 6 months ago and can see that the first 8 permanent incisors are moving into position although she hasn't lost any baby teeth yet (2 are slightly wiggly). We can also see that the new teeth are about half again as wide as the current ones. That's a problem. There isn't room for them. If they try to come into the space they'll have, they will all be crooked and the ortho will be getting involved pretty soon. (I, myself, had orthodontics twice. Once as a teen. Once as an adult. Plus had 4 bicuspids and 4 wisdom teeth extracted. Plus had jaw surgery. I know this road. It's neither fun nor cheap.)

So, what's the plan? Well, we're trying to wait another 3 months for the molars to come in a little more fully. Then the dentist says we need to do surgery again. Pull 8 to 12 of the front teeth so the new 8 front ones will have room to come in straight. Pull the one that's half out and put in a space maintainer that attaches to the molar (why it has to come in more). Then pray.

All in all, it will cost us about $3,000 because the cost of the facility and (I believe) the anaesthetic aren't covered and there's only partial coverage on some of the rest (50% to 80%). Ain't that fun? I know I'm just all warm and fuzzy about it right now.

First there's the little problem of all that money, which we don't have at the moment. Second, that's really major to take half her teeth out at once. Her speech is going to be impaired as well as her ability to eat solid food. I'm worried she'll have that caved-in look around the mouth typical of old grannies who don't wear their "teeth". And I know there will be a rough few weeks recovering while her gums are all soft and sore. But I also know that this is the best chance she's going to get for the teeth to come in straight. And, as the dentist pointed out, if we only did part of it we'd just have to go back and do more in 6 months or so. It would end up costing more in the end and she's already nervous about a second surgery, let alone a third one. Besides, it's best to minimize the number of times a person has to undergo a general anaesthetic.

So, it looks like this is what's in our future. We may have 6 months, but that's probably the maximum timeframe. I'm just glad individual picture day was this Monday! I can't imagine that she'll be smiling for a long time after all the extractions.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Falling Short of My Goals

Time seems to be getting away from me. Tomorrow is Friday (well, technically it's already Friday but I haven't been to bed yet, so it doesn't count). Where did the rest of the week go? And how did it get to be the middle of October so fast? The year will be over before I know it and I don't feel like I've accomplished too much.

I set very few financial goals for myself at the end of 2008 and I haven't really looked back at them. Let's see how I'm doing. Just to refresh everybody's memory they were:

1. Pay down a minimum of $6,000 of debt in 2009.
2. Have at least $1,000 in an emergency fund by the end of 2009.
3. Establish an account for "Set Asides" (otherwise known as a Freedom or Escrow Account).
4. Get current and stay current with all the monthly bills.

Have I done any of them?

1. We paid off about $1,800 in debt at Home Depot but have charged about $1,600 more since then. Of course, I had put in a limitation that new debt for the house renos didn't count and about $600 is for our bathroom reno, with the balance for our storage shed. The credit cards are still close to being maxed, if not maxed. Am I going to have a big chunk of money come in with which to pay down debt? No, I had that a couple of months ago and then we had to sink close to $2,500 into the car instead.
2. I have about $130 in my EF right now and I stopped the automatic transfer a few months ago because I was going to switch the bank it was coming out of. Only I never started it up again from the new account.
3. I haven't done a thing about a setaside account.
4. I'm working on getting current again but I was 2 to 3 months behind on most bills as recently as 2 weeks ago.

Clearly, it's not going too well. And I don't know how much I can accomplish in the next 2.5 months. I have to try something though. What actions can I take now?
1. The most important at the moment is having the money in place to pay Home Depot when the 2 payment plans come due. The first one is for $528.44 and is due January 1st. I literally have $0.69 in the Home Depot fund right now. I have 5 paydays between now and the end of the year. I obviously need to transfer $106 each paycheque in order to have enough. Wow. I don't have the date for the other one in front of me right now, so we'll leave that for another time.
2. I have to start up the automated weekly transfers into my ING account from my credit union. I don't think I can go back to $12 per week just at the moment but I think $5 is workable. At least it will be something. And when I'm done with Home Depot I can increase it.
3. I have to set up at least one set-aside account and put money into it once a month. I think it should be for property taxes and that I should deposit $10/month. (Yes, my property taxes for my rural place really are that low.)
4. I have to pay a couple more bills to get current (or closer to current). And I have to pay my Eldest Daughter back the $100 she fronted me for gas money for the trip last Monday. That $100 also gave us enough for a week's worth of gas for the van.

That's 4 simple steps for me to take to get back on track.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It's Been a Busy Week

Today was my fave kind of Wednesday: Payday!

It's been a really busy week. Last weekend was the 2 holiday days that finish off Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Simchat Torah is when we rejoice with the Torah. We finish the cycle of the year's reading with the end of Devarim [Deuteronomy] and begin again with Bereshit [Genesis]. At Simchat Torah there's singing & dancing with the Torah, a lot of l'chaims [toasts] and it's always fun. Dear Child had a great time dancing with 2 of her school friends. They were all over the place, dancing in a circle or a line with hands on each other's shoulders, on both the men's and women's sides. She also went outside with her Abba when they took the Torah out and danced it around the major intersection just outside the shul doors.

Sunday night, as soon as the holiday was over, we took down the sukkah (in the dark) and loaded it into the van. We got everything together and headed out for our rural home. It was late when we got there and it was pretty cold because we keep the thermostat at 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) when we're not at the house. We cranked it up and got to bed pretty late but DC and I were still up by 8:30 am Monday morning.

We did a lot in one day. I weeded all over, pruned my lavender, did laundry, shrinkwrapped DC's and the spare bedroom windows and put together one of two IKEA bookshelves. Hubby did the lawn, watered and took out 2 dead cedars. We loaded everything up and drove home again, arriving just before midnight. It was one busy day.

Anyway, back to today. Did I manage to accomplish as much today financially as I did physically on Monday? Well, not exactly. I did a lot of food-related things though.

First of all, I somehow didn't get the form for hot lunch. It was due this morning so I had to go into the school office and fill out the form and pay for it. After school Dear Child and I went grocery shopping. We got pretty much enough food for meals for everyday for 10 days or more and half a salmon, which is 2 Shabbos meals (but I don't usually use it even 2 weeks in a row, let alone serve it twice on the same Shabbos). So, I have at least one more Shabbos meal to figure out before Friday afternoon but that's not too bad.

We got breakfast cereal and oatmeal, snacks for DC's lunch for over a week and some paper goods. Actually, I spent $10 on facial tissue. Does that sound like a lot of money, just so we can blow our noses? At Safeway one box usually costs about $4. Now, that's a lot. Today, they had bundles of 6 for $9.97. That's only $1.66 each. But it gets better. The bundles were Buy One, Get One Free. I ended up with 12, count 'em, twelve boxes for only $0.83 each! All in all, I spent about $200 on food and household products but that included a couple of pricy items, like a big jar of decaf coffee, that will last much longer than 2 weeks.

On the way home I put $40 worth of gas into the car, which was almost empty. It didn't fill it totally but it's now over 3/4 full. I still have a couple of bills to pay over the next day or so but it's good to know that I won't be running out of food or gas anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Return of Won't Wait Wednesday

Today is Wednesday. What does that mean? Well, it must be Won't Wait Wednesday! That's right. The day I'm supposed to be taking care of some unfinished business. I haven't done a Won't Wait Wednesday post for a few weeks, not quite sure why. Well, maybe because for a while the only business we were taking care of was the car and I was tired of talking about that. So, what have I done today?

Here was my To Do List:

1. Pay MasterCard
2. Pay cell bill
3. Pay IKEA
4. Go through the fridge and toss anything that looks like it might talk to me
5. Finish a load of essential laundry
6. Get some groceries

I had a little glitch in that my Hubby transferred money to the account I no longer use (because it's at the same bank that he uses) and I didn't get out in time to my bank. I could put cash in at the ATM but I wouldn't be able to access it for at least a couple of days! Not really a good plan. But, my old bank has MasterCard set up as a bill payment so I decided to pay the credit card from there and my IKEA bill from the credit union (because I already had the money for MasterCard in there). There isn't enough left for the cell phone bill there though and it's not set up at the old bank so I'll wait on paying that until I can deposit money when the credit union is open tomorrow.

Are you confused yet?

I got the laundry finished and I cleaned out the fridge though! And I'm on my way out the door to get some groceries. You know, little things like milk, cream, protein drink and root beer. Hmmm. That's all stuff to drink. Maybe I'm thirsty and that's why I can only think of liquid items. Anyway, I'm heading out before my get up and go gets up and goes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Sukkot Reflections

The first two holiday days of Sukkot are over, as is the first intermediate day. We've been blessed so far with lovely weather. It's a little cool, especially at night or first thing in the morning, but I really enjoy eating in the sukkah. I just bundle up a little.

My Hubby took 3 days off and is enjoying spending time with Dear Child, who is off school until next Tuesday. And Dear Child's social life has never been more active. Her teacher had the class over this afternoon to her sukkah for a little party, she's going tonight to the centre for dinner and a movie with her big sister and 2 nieces, and she's having a pajama party/movie night with her best girlfriend on Thursday (although she's not actually sleeping over).

Part of the fun she's having this year is the joy of eating in as many sukkahs as possible. With what's planned, she'll eat in 3 other sukkahs, besides our own. Plus, Eldest Daughter and her family all ate with us tonight (Monday night). The past 2 years we've spent all or most of Sukkot at our rural home. We love that too, but it's a different feeling. We're the only Jews for miles, so she never even sees another sukkah. And we invite all the neighbours for an afternoon sukkah party and have our next door neighbours over for dinner in the sukkah, but it's all about educating them. Yes, we're those funny people who eat in that strange tent with bamboo on the roof for a week, but it's okay, we don't bite....

This is the difference between living in a community and starting one of your own. When there are lots of other people doing the same thing it's a lot of fun and you feel like you're part of something. When you're the pioneers it can be lonely. For a child, sometimes it's nice to see that all your friends do the same thing (and at the same time, just how different each family's sukkah can be).

The difference for me is that I'm working all the intermediate days this year. I love having those days off at the house, getting the garden ready for winter, doing little tasks in the house. For some reason, it usually includes putting furniture together at some point. I even like that!

Right now I have 2 bookshelves at the house that need to be assembled. One is for books and will go in our bedroom. The other is for display in the dining room. I've taken a lot of the memorabilia from the various trips I took as a child there and I'm looking forward to setting things up on the shelves! These are things like a wooden and woven palm outrigger canoe from Fiji or aboriginal print mats from my parents' trip to Australia, or a huge beautiful shell. I don't even remember half the things that are wrapped up in those boxes and I'm looking forward to seeing them again after quite a few years. All the things come with great memories of the trips we took but I'm one of those people who really needs to see and touch them in order to truly remember.

For me, this nesting that I do at the house in the fall is a wonderful way to unwind. I miss that I'm not getting the chance to do that this year. I'll go back after Sukkot to take the sukkah back to the house and do a quick once-over of house and yard, but it won't be the same. It'll be rushed and busy, with me trying to cram as much as possible into a day.

I'm telling myself that the advantages are that I won't be falling behind at a busy time at work and that DC can socialize with her friends in their sukkahs, but I have to be honest. I'm missing the quiet time at my own house.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Racing to the Next Holiday

Yom Kippur is over and Sukkot is on the way! Okay, a fast day isn't generally very expensive but Rosh Hashana was and Sukkot will be too.

At least we have our very own top quality 8 x 10 foot sukkah. It cost us about $800 three years ago and should last us for at least 20 years. We've had at least 4 or 5 sukkahs over the years and none has lasted more than 5 years (some less, or had to have major parts replaced within a year or 2). This is the first nylon body on a metal frame kind though. The others have been wood based with plywood, 2 x 4s, lattice, clear tarps, etc. I'm sure I've spent more than $800 total on all the previous incarnations.

So we have the sukkah (and it comes with a bamboo mat skach or roof covering). We do need to buy longer 2 x 4s this year to go across the top. The ones we bought in the Okanagan a couple of years ago were just a few inches too short to fit in the holders that go on top and we've had to lay them creatively (on the diagonal, etc.) in order for them to hold the skach up but we've also had them crash down in a wind or while unrolling the skach and have a couple of serious chunks out of our big table as a result. At least we didn't have chunks out of anybody's head! This year we'll get 10' ones to lay across the 8' sides, so they'll extend nicely.

What else do we need? More wine! I still have some of the wine I bought before Rosh Hashana, but I think we need a couple more bottles. And food. We want to have another family dinner, since we're staying in town this year, and that means feeding 14 people again. Even if I go for veggie lasagne, it'll probably cost at least $30. It's a lot cheaper than brisket though! And at least a bottle of Crown Royal. Plus there are 4 holiday days (8 meals), not just one big family one. I have to have what to serve for those other meals too. Plus the everyday food needs to be warm, stick to your ribs type stuff as the weather is getting colder and we only eat in the sukkah (yes, even when it rains!).

If the weather is decent tomorrow, we'll try to put the sukkah up except for the skach. I don't know though; it rained today. It has to be fully up by Friday at the latest because the holiday starts Friday at sundown. Oh yes, and we need a table too as our usual one is sitting in my dining room in the Okanagan! My Eldest Daughter said there was one at her work we could probably borrow. We have to check that out. And chairs. Damn, I should have brought the folding chairs when I brought the sukkah. Again, we have 6 of them at the other house! And the electric heater is there too along with the outdoor timer. Sigh. I brought the little LED light string though...

I've ordered our Lulav and Etrog and it will be in sometime this week. I don't know what else I need, but I'm sure I've forgotten some other things!

It's late and I have to get up early to get people to work and school, so I'm just going to go. If you don't know what a sukkah is or about the holiday of Sukkot, check the labels for all the previous posts about Sukkot. I know I had links there. I'm just too brain-dead post fast to look them all up again right now and I really should be trying to get to sleep.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Good Health for the New Year

Just wanted to get in a quick post before Shabbos to say that I've been working on some things that pertain to my health. I had been to the doctor a little while ago and finally finished the various tests I was supposed to have. They only call you in if there's a problem and I haven't gotten a call, but I should go in again anyway. I want a referral to a dermatologist for a couple of moles that I can't see well and that should probably come off (since it's hard to see in between one's own shoulder blades).

I've been going to the physio now for about 6 or 8 weeks and my shoulder is much improved. If I'm still doing well at my next appointment in a couple of weeks then I'm done with that, although I'll keep wearing the core shorts and sitting on my little round thingy that makes me sit straight. I paid for them, so I'd better keep using them! Now, I just have to put the paperwork in for the reimbursement for the cost of the physio sessions themselves.

And, today I signed up for a free month at the gym here at work because I want to see if I can actually force myself to just go downstairs and use the treadmill for 20 minutes or so every day or two. I get half off for working here but I had given up our family membership earlier because we weren't using it and it was costing about $45 per month. If I don't keep it up there's no point in taking on even a single membership for myself but, if I do get in the flow of it, it's a little cheaper (about $30).

First of all, my health is important. Second, I'm still wanting to lose about 10 pounds and my weight just isn't budging (other than the normal 1 to 2 pound variance I see over the course of the month). It's a new (Jewish) year. It's a good time to take charge of my health and I'm trying not to bite off more than I can chew.

Are you doing anything now to improve your health? Even for non-Jewish readers, the kids are back to school and it's a good time to make some changes!

Days of Awe

Hooray! Blogger likes me today. It let me in.

This month is just speeding past. Sunday night is the beginning of the 25+ hour fast of Yom Kippur. No food. No water. Walking to services (in non-leather shoes). An entire prayer book to read out loud in that length of time. Lots of standing. Lots of reflection. It's a very challenging day.

For some reason, all the spiritual stuff I'd been breezing along with for so long seemed to sputter and falter at some point a few months ago. I don't have any event to tie it to, nothing to point to, no place to lay blame (other than with myself).

I've done a fair bit of thinking intellectually in the recent past, figuring out what I should do, setting some smaller goals for myself, but nothing has really rekindled my passion. Even Rosh Hashana didn't do it.

Then, last night, I went to a talk for women. I received a new insight into certain things, nothing earthshattering, just novel. I haven't burst into flame, but I keep thinking about what I heard. I think that's a good starting point. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shana Tova

I won't be posting again before Rosh Hashana, nor during the holiday, so don't expect to see me posting before Sunday night at the very earliest. I just wanted to give a quick update.

The car is still in progress. We may get it back tomorrow. If not, we'll have to pick it up on Monday. No biggie. It's not like we'll be driving it on the weekend!

I have everything I need for the cooking tomorrow but was out for an hour or more with my Eldest Daughter this evening, so didn't really get the kitchen ready.

I have to do some banking tomorrow morning (if I don't want to bounce a cheque I wrote on the account I don't use regularly anymore) and I have to work until noon. But nobody is going to school, so I don't have to get anybody else anywhere. That makes it easier for me to get to work early in the morning.

Going to bed now. Shana Tova to everybody!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Black Hole aka The Car

I am fed up to the teeth with cars and car repairs. Hubby took the car in to have the bushings done and ended up going to a different place than at first (one that had been recommended though) and there's both good news and bad news.

The good news is that this place will do the bushings and tie rod for less than we were first quoted. Much less, like half the original quote. The bad news is that the bushing repair is the least of our worries. This place actually *looked* at the car obviously (unlike every other place we've been to for the past year it appears), because they figured out what's wrong with it and told us why it's been going through rear tires at a rapid pace.

The. Back. Axle. Is. Bent.

Yes, bent. They asked if we'd been in an accident. Uh, no. They showed Hubby the damage and he says it's pretty clear. Too bad we don't know what caused it. The only thing I can think of is the time last winter when we bottomed out badly in the alley about a block from our house during that bad snow. It took me several hours to dig the car out because it was actually wedged onto that icy snow so badly that the wheels weren't quite touching the ground (like by a fraction of an inch). Maybe we bent the axle when we bottomed out?

Regardless, now we know what the problem is and the solution is clear. It's not going to get better unless we replace the axle so that's what we're doing. It won't be ready until some time tomorrow and we're getting a "good" price on the work but it's still going to cost $1,000!

I've mostly finished hyperventilating (although we'll see if I manage to sleep through the night or wake up with an anxiety attack). What's really crazy is that I was looking back through my own blog archives to see what my menu was for last Rosh Hashana and I realized that it was at this very time last year that the water pump problem manifested. That repair ended up costing us $2,000! What is it about this time of year? This is also when both the fire and the flood happened in the condo I used to own.

As for Rosh Hashana, I got paid today and went grocery shopping. When the dust cleared I'd spent $300 and I have food for the holiday this weekend plus another 4 or 5 meals. Actually, $50 of that is a payment for food I charged 6 months ago at Pesach, so it's not quite as bad as it sounds but I still don't have enough money to pay all my bills, let alone do anything much extra. I'm very pleased that this is a 3 paycheque month. If it wasn't, I'd be in big trouble.

What did I get? Round challahs, salmon and a brisket. I was pretty dead on with my cost estimate too. The brisket cost just over $57. Half a salmon was just over $20. I got the items for the various simanim too (carrots, dates, pomegranate, squash, etc.) and all the disposable table items for the meal, as well as some everyday food needs, things for Dear Child's breakfasts and lunches, etc. And some junk. Hey, I've been waiting a very long time for the full size Oreo cookies to be kosher and they were all labeled with the OU dairy today! I bought a package of them, but they were on sale too. But I figure the healthy stuff, like the cheese sticks, cream cheese and yogurt balance the cookies out.

I have to get the kitchen ready tomorrow and we're closing the office at noon on Friday so I'll be cooking then. Luckily, Eldest Daughter will also be home so I won't be cooking with kidlets underfoot. Candlelighting is at 7 pm so I should have enough time to get it all done....

Before I close, I'd just like to say something to each one of my readers. If I've upset you this year, hurt your feelings in any way or whatever, I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Have a happy and healthy year full of all good things!

Payday and Rosh Hashana are Coming

I should be in bed. It's technically Wednesday already because it's so late, but here I am reading blogs and writing a post.

I went to physio this morning and feel better now after all that physical work and driving on Sunday. I still haven't done the first thing about Rosh Hashana and the meal I'm supposed to be having for 13 or 14 family members. My paycheque will be in the bank in the morning and I'll have to do the shopping tomorrow afternoon, preferably after my Eldest Daughter gets off work and can have the little girls. I find grocery shopping with all of them traumatic enough at Safeway. The thought of having them running around the deli while I pick out salmon and a brisket is enough to give me an anxiety attack.

We're also kind of celebrating Hubby's birthday, which we would have done last weekend if a) I hadn't been away and b) it hadn't been a week before a big family dinner anyway. He said he'd like to have steak but realized it was unrealistic (at about $16 per steak, I'd say so!) and we settled on brisket instead. At least a small brisket shouldn't set me back more than $60 or $70. That's pretty insane but still better than $200 or more for steak for over a dozen people. We'll have the simanim too, of course, but I have to think about side dishes as well. At least I have the wine on hand, including 2 bottles of sparkling Moscato wine (all the better to toast the New Year and Hubby's milestone birthday with). And I have to bake a cake. And come up with a parve frosting, since all the readymade ones are dairy.

Plus, did I ever mention that one of my upper kitchen cabinets fell apart some time ago? Hubby opened the cupboard door and the door and side of the cabinet as well as the bottom fell apart in his hands! As a result, my kitchen is more cluttered than usual. I have cans and packages stacked on the already too-small meat counter and more items in a box on the kitchen floor. Given the timeline we've had for our bathroom reno, I'm not holding my breath for getting the kitchen done any time soon. For one thing, if I put in one cabinet (I'm going for IKEA) then I have to replace the other 2 cabinets beside the ruined one that are still holding together but are that super-ugly 1980's almond melamine with an oak strip at the top. All in all, it will be about $500 for 4 cupboards (adding one over the fridge to hold all the cereal and other breakfast treats) and about $80 for a new range hood.

No, that's not happening before Rosh Hashana. But that means I have a mess out that I can't really put away. We'll have to see how it all works out. I could stay up all night, figuring out what to buy but I should probably just post this now and go to bed.