Thursday, June 25, 2009

Payday and New Glasses

Today was payday Wednesday. What did I accomplish?

Well, for starters, let's look at a couple of things that didn't make it into my previous post. When I went to our rural house this past weekend I got to catch up on 6 or 7 months of mail! Fun. I really don't get a lot of mail there. There's my monthly statement from my credit union there, but I can check that online. And there's a bunch of stuff from the guy who is the MLA for that constituency, some of which is interesting to read because it brings up issues that are local to that area (things I don't see on TV or read in the paper in the city) but it's all just FYI stuff.

Then there's the "boil water advisory" from the local water system. I wasn't around for that, or the rescinding of same, but reading it (there's at least one at some point every year) reminds me of why I use bottled water. Okay, that and looking at yellow water with stuff swirling around in it when I take water from the tap.

But the most important mail that arrived in my absence was from the government: my property assessment, my property tax assessment and my rural garbage bill. I paid my property taxes a couple of months late last year and somehow never got around to paying the garbage bill. This year it's been rolled over onto my property taxes, which are due July 2nd. My assessment was interesting. The value of the property went up last year by a few grand but I'm paying property taxes this year based on the previous year's lower value. This has to do with the whole real estate decline and the economy. For this year, they're looking at both years and just charging based on whichever was the lowest year. That's fine with me!

The garbage bill bugs me. I'm rarely there. We put out garbage or recycling there maybe 6 or 8 times per year, but I have to pay for weekly pickup because there's no provision for pay-as-you-go. Last year it was about $120, or $10 per month. Since I'm behind on last year's payment I now owe about $133, what with penalties and interest. This year's bill is $165 or $13.75 per month. It's already due, but it has to be paid by the end of August or there's a penalty. The tax bill, including last year's garbage bill, has to be paid by July 2nd or there's a penalty on that.

So, how am I going to pay these? My original "plan" was to put money away for this every month. That hasn't happened on a regular basis although I have some money. I also got a very nice bonus, in that a cheque from Terasen was sitting at the house, waiting for me. Remember how I was getting billed for gas last year even though I couldn't possibly use it? Well, I had successfully argued the bill and it was eventually reversed. However, I'd already paid over $60 in gas bills initially. The cheque (which luckily wasn't stale dated yet) was a refund for all that! The night that I went into town I popped that money into my rural credit union account along with the BC Benefit cheque I regularly direct into there. Now I have to remember to transfer money into there from ING to pay the balance owing on the property taxes. I'm going to be out there from July 1st to 5th, so I'll go into town on the 2nd and pay my taxes in person on their due date.

As for this year's garbage bill, I'm going to have to come up with money for it by the end of August and I'll probably wait until close to that point to pay it. Okay, so that catches me up on the rural finances. Let's get to payday!

I worked slightly fewer hours than usual this pay period and my cheque reflected that. However, I also got a cheque for a side project I'd taken on. My regular cheque will cover the usual end of the month/beginning of the month bills. The extra cheque means that I'm finally getting my new glasses!

I went for an eye exam this afternoon and Dear Child helped me select my new frames at Lenscrafters! If I had simple vision problems and a mild correction I'd have my new glasses by now but, alas, I have to wait 10 days. I have astigmatism, am severely near-sighted, have also become far-sighted in my old age and have corneal issues. However, the lenses were currently 50% off, so my expensive lenses now cost what normal lenses usually cost. And I wouldn't look at frames that cost over $200. That limited me quite a bit, since I also can't wear the kind that has a plastic bridge. The little nose piece has to be adjustable because the bridge of my nose is quite narrow and, even with high index lightweight lenses, they're fairly heavy. Glasses with a molded plastic bridge continually fall down my nose and I'm perpetually pushing them up.

The total cost of the glasses was just under $450, including tax, and the eye exam was $95. We have a glasses clause in our extended medical through Hubby's work that pays $150 toward glasses every couple of years. I'm not sure if the eye exam is also covered or not, but it was worth it to me to have it today. I couldn't get into my opthamologist until mid-September and I've already been putting up with these broken glasses for 3 whole months. I'm tired of them falling off when I bend my head and I'll really feel safer driving when I replace them!

My cell bill is due, but I need to call them and make them explain $25 odd in extra charges (minutes that were billed at .35 per minute). Since almost all my calls involve my Fab Five or whatever they call it, I can't imagine how I have calls that exceed my basic number of minutes. The one thing I liked better about Fido (okay, there had to be *something* good about them) was that every single call was listed on the bill, in or out, with the number of seconds and how much, if anything, I was charged for it. What I may do is just pay the regular amount owing, plus my .70 in long distance charges and then dispute the balance. But, at least, I'll be mostly current.

So that's it. I spent a huge amount of money on myself today and, yes Abby, I feel guilty! But we are supposed to get $150 of it back and I haven't had new glasses in at least 5 years and maybe as long as 8 years. I know I needed them, but it would have been nice to pay down debt instead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

And They Say You Can't Go Home Again....

There are definitely times when I think it would be useful if I could clone myself! As I mentioned in my last post, I've been incredibly busy. My lunch with my Executive Director ended up being postponed to this week because we didn't have time last Thursday!

I did go to the doctor and the news was all good. She said all my blood work was normal. I'm not anemic and my thyroid was normal. The stress test results were normal too (meaning that I didn't have any kind of problematic heartbeats during or right after the test and that my heart rate slowed back down afterwards within the appropriate time frame). She feels that I'm not getting enough exercise and told me to do a half hour per day, every day. I'm trying, but it's not always working out that way. I think it will take a while to get in the habit and to manage to fit it around everything else.

Dear Child had her Kindergarten Graduation (which was very cute) and only has 2 days left of school. Tomorrow is a field trip and Thursday they pack all their stuff up to bring home and get their report cards.

My summer schedule is going to be insane. Mondays generally home with all 4 girls. Yes, four. This summer my oldest granddaughter is joining us, as her mother is working Thursday to Monday (and my Number One Son works Monday to Friday). Tuesday and Wednesday my daughter-in-law is off and has all the girls. The catch is that my son-in-law (the one we share a house with) has to take our 3 with him at 7 am and drop them off with her on his way to work! This should be, um, interesting considering that I spend about half an hour on average from 7 to 7:30 am talking to Dear Child, stroking her, tickling her, anything that will wake her up (while not putting her into a grumpy mood). Then we normally leave at 8 am. She moves fairly fast once she's awake but she's very hard to wake up (her father's daughter). There is No Way I want to get up at 6 am and start trying to wake her. I have a hunch she may be going in the van in her nightie with food she can eat in the car! Thursday and Friday are my son-in-law's days off and he gets all 4 girls here.

So, on the surface, it looks like I'm getting a break over the summer because I'm only responsible for one day per week instead of the current 3. However, my 4 year old granddaughter is registered for 2 or 3 weeks of summer camp (and the baby is registered for a week, as of today!). The older camp kids eat lunch there and finish at 1 or 1:30 pm; the littles finish at 11:30 am. That means on Tuesday and Wednesday I can only work until 11:30, go downstairs, pick up Boo Boo, hang out in the building until the older group finishes, pick the 4 yo up too and head home. Meanwhile, my own child will be happily playing with her niece, half an hour or so from home. Mondays should be even more fun. I'll be doing multiple pickup and hanging out at the centre for at least 1.5 hours with the older girls too. And I still haven't decided if I'm going to try to put DC in camp for a week too! The best part of that is that it would be an Orthodox kids camp instead of the community centre one, so it's in a different place and I don't know if it has the same pick up time ('cuz you know I'm good with being in 2 places at one time, see cloning comment above). I've been putting it off because I haven't checked with all her friends' mothers to see if their girls are going and which weeks, etc.

Anyway, to get back to what happened over the past few days, Dear Child complained of an upset tummy on the morning of her graduation and threw up in the car on the way to school. Into a plastic Safeway bag. The kid gets brownie points for not getting anything on her Shabbos clothes because they were all supposed to be dressed up for the graduation. I ended up taking her to my office for a couple of hours and we just took her to school in time for the event itself (I talked to the teachers and that was the decision as we didn't know if she was sick or just nervous and we didn't want her to miss the graduation).

After the graduation party I took DC home, we threw things in the car and I headed off on a 4.5 hour drive with a kid who had already been car sick once that day! Yes, I gave her Gravol and she had a fresh bag handy! Baruch Hashem [thank G-d], things went well and we arrived without incident and in enough time that I accomplished about 2.5 hours of intensive yard work before Shabbos. It was the first time in about 7 months that we've been to the house, so not too surprising that there was a lot to do!

Shabbos we just hung out, went for a long walk with Dog (who is in 7th heaven whenever we go to the house) and she played some with the kids next door. And yes, I did warn the mother that she might be sick. While she felt fine (no aches or pains, no fever, no further queasiness) she did develop the runs intermittently on Shabbos and Sunday. When she had to go, she really had to go. Within about 30 seconds. I was terrified of putting her in the car Sunday afternoon for the long car ride back to the city because I wouldn't even be able to pull over to the side of the road in that kind of time frame.

I did about another 4 hours of yard work on Sunday, some by hand and a lot with my neighbour's heavy duty weed whacker that you hold with 2 hands and swing kind of like a scythe, while holding down a button on the side and squeezing the trigger all at once. Do you think that was what the doc had in mind when she talked to me about exercise? By the time I finished I was in serious pain from my back, arms and right hand. When I say "finished", I mean I did all I could do but had to leave one of the side yards for next time. I ended up talking to Hubby and Eldest Daughter on the phone and the decision was to stay over Sunday night and come back some time on Monday. She worked something out for her girls and we just stayed and relaxed. I left a voice mail at work and that was that.

I took DC into town Sunday evening to buy a couple of things from the store, including a small pack of pullups for her to wear to bed and in the car, just as an insurance policy. She still had 2 more bouts, one about 11:30 pm Sunday, the other at 6:30 am on Monday, so it was a smart thing to do, although she's been out of that sort of thing for ages. We stayed until 4 pm Monday, then headed back and she's been fine. Whew!

My son-in-law took today off to do some work on their van so I worked the whole day and went back for some more time this evening. Now I'm not short any hours, even though I didn't work Monday. I'm really tired though and I'm covered in giant, itchy mosquito bites. At least 32 at last count. I don't think they liked me cutting the grass. Either that, or I just taste really good to them. So, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow is payday and Wednesday, so we'll see just what I can accomplish.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Busy, Busy Week

Things have been crazy busy and they're continuing in that vein. Busy at work, with Dear Child's school as it draws to a close, with family, with fundraising and with preparing to go to the house this weekend for the first time in over six months!

I was short parent participation hours so I've been doing things like thank you cards for the teachers, buying food for various events and so on.

And I haven't been sleeping particularly well.

Tomorrow and Friday are the capstones of the week. Tomorrow, among other things, I need to ferry everybody around, work most of the day, go for lunch with my Executive Director (who is leaving), go to the doctor for my test results (finally), go to the school for an assembly and a BBQ, and possibly get together with my oldest son.

Friday I'm only working a couple of hours, instead of all day. Dear Child graduates from Kindergarten in the middle of the day and then she and I are going to go to our rural home for the first time in over six months! Hubby has other obligations, so it should be interesting.

I have to arrive there with enough time before Shabbos that I can mow at least the front yard (and preferably all of it) because I got a phone call earlier this week, complaining about the appearance of my yard. One of my neighbours is trying to sell and it seems the jungle is putting buyers off! Since I can't do yard work on the Sabbath, I need to arrive with a few hours to spare on Friday so I can make it look decent before their next open house.

I'm going to make a bit of a list of what else needs to be done once I get there because DC and I are going back for a few days from Canada Day on. That's really when I'll be able to do a couple of things as well as kick back and have some fun with DC! We can go swimming in the lake and take Dog for walks up into the hills. I also have 2 properties I want to look at.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Money In, Money Out

Yesterday was payday. What did I do? I paid a bunch of bills. First, I paid the tab I run at the cafe in the building where I work, then I paid the bottled water company, MasterCard and the cable company for my internet. That last one was a biggie, 3 months worth of service.

As I wrote yesterday, my account had gotten kicked off the pre-authorized payment plan and then I didn't get a bill until a couple of weeks ago (immediately followed by a second bill). Now it's taken care of and I have it listed as a bill on my credit union account so I can pay it easily. I think I'll leave it like this for a while rather than getting back onto PAP on my "new" account. (Yes, I know I've had this credit union account for about 6 months now but it's still pretty new to me!)

I paid $40 yesterday for 3 tunics, 2 long-sleeved shirts, a gym skort and 2 sweatshirts (with school logo)! That was a killer deal. Buying used is good! Today after school I took Dear Child to the official uniform store (45 minutes drive from the school) and bought 2 short-sleeved shirts for hot weather, a gym tshirt (with logo), 5 pairs of knee socks (4 navy, 1 white) and 4 pair of navy tights. I got 10% off the purchase price of everything this week (why I bought them now) and still paid just over $100!

Just think if I'd had to buy everything there! It would have cost close to $300, but I spent less than 1/2 that.

I brought DC home to her father and went grocery shopping at the deli and Superstore. I spent about $100 on food and had a bit of a disaster in the store. I was buying my Bolthouse Protein Drink that I have for breakfast and it was at a really good price. I took 2 bottles and the next 2 bottles behind them just kind of jumped off the shelf (which I think must have been slanted), hit the floor and exploded all over me! I was wearing flip flops and a long denim skirt and I was a mess. I was squishing protein drink between my toes and was sticky wet with the drink up to my knees and all inside my skirt. Yuck! They let me go in the back where they keep the produce and wash up at a sink with paper towels. Then I got to the checkout and couldn't find my cell phone with all my debit cards tucked into the case! Luckily it had fallen out of my purse in the car rather than somewhere in the store, but it was a pain and I was verging on a panic attack. I was just terrified that I'd lost it when I got doused.

Anyway, I'm off to bed. It's Sports Day at school tomorrow and I have to make sure DC is ready for it with a bunch of extra things, including sunscreen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Getting Ready for Payday

Well, I'm still having problems with Blogger but I'm still fighting through it so I can post.

Tomorrow is payday and Wednesday, so my plan is to take care of a bunch of bills and then see how much money is left! Somehow my internet account (which was on pre-authorized payments) got messed up a couple of months ago and I finally got, not one but two, bills in the past week or 10 days so I've got to get that straightened out. I'm just debating whether to try to get the pre-authorized stuff switched over to my credit union account or whether I should just add them as a bill on the system and pay them manually.

To compound my financial issues, I seem to have misplaced my chequebook for the credit union account! I had it in my wallet (with the chequebooks for the other 2 accounts) but it's not there now. It's also not in my purse or in a stack of things I had taken out of my purse. I have another chequebook somewhere (they sent 2) but I think it's packed away in one of the boxes of paper I put away at Passover. Sigh.

It's also time to buy uniforms for Dear Child for school this fall but I'm getting at least some of them second-hand. The school resells used uniforms at a very low price and I'll see what the ones they have in her size are like tomorrow. I'll still have to buy a few other items, including socks and tights. She needs 2 new pair of shoes too, one for inside wear and the other for outside wear, but I'll definitely wait until some time in August to get those to make sure they fit properly. I'll also need to buy her at least a couple of new skirts for after school and Sunday because her current ones are starting to get short. Most of her tops are still fine though.

All told, her school stuff should cost a lot less this year than it did last year and that makes me happy. Uniforms rule! Even if I bought new uniforms they'd cost a little less than I spent last year on regular clothes. By buying used I'll save a lot. And she's not at an age yet where wearing a used uniform will be the end of the world.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Belated Blog Anniversary and Catch Up Time

Okay, my current working theory is that Blogger is sentient and has a really twisted sense of humor (a la "Mike" in Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress)!

I finally went to the Blogger help forums and posted about the problem I've been having getting into Blogger for the past couple of weeks and read about a couple of similar problems others have had. Before posting my help question I spent at least 10 minutes trying to access the text box and had no luck. I came back here after posting my query in order to try a couple of things that were suggested to other people and, hey presto, I can type! Whatever. I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. If it acts up again I'll try the suggestions at that point, although my gut feeling is that they may be pure chance. After all, I've done various things in the past that I initially thought "fixed" the problem. It's just that no one thing works all the time.

Anyway, this whole mess meant that I missed my very own first blog anniversary!

I've also been a little less pushy about resolving the problem than I would have been otherwise because Real Life has been very intense during this period. I've had my annual big event (a fundraising dinner for about 350 people) and 2 people I'm connected to have died from cancer within about a week of each other. Both were women who died in midlife, one in her 40s, the other in her late 50s. One was the adult daughter of a friend of mine who left teenage kids. The other was a longtime single parent and grandparent who was a close friend of mine since the time when we were both single mothers raising our teens.

I'm really hoping Blogger will co-operate and I'll be able to continue posting in the future. I definitely appreciate Kelly's offer to help me get going on Wordpress but I'm going to try to stick this out for a while longer before I make the decision to have to go through the learning curve entailed in switching over. I have a lot of feelings rolling around inside right now and I just want to be able to come on here and write a post without adding to the drama in my life.

On a financial note, I've been working hard to get current once again on all my bills (post Passover) and, while I'm not there yet, I've made a fair bit of progress. I also spent some time the other evening setting up bill payments on my new bank account and shut down the automatic weekly transfer from my old chequing account to ING. I'll start it up again from my new account after my next payday. We're still waiting for my Hubby's income tax refund and I still need to find my RRSP information slips in order to be able to send my taxes in. If I don't find them soon, I'll have to ask for copies.

Oh, yes. Last but definitely not least, I haven't heard from the doctor about my various test results. Now that the dinner is over I want to call for an appointment.

Here's hoping I can post again soon!