Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The very best girl

Here is my girl, all sweetness and light last Friday.  She took a can of beans to school and got to dress up like a book character.  She said she has a Frozen book, so she can be Elsa.  She especially loves Elsa because she has superpowers and rules a country.  The movie ends with her banishing bad men right and left, and getting to treat her friends and family with generosity.  The sneakers are her new favorite shoes, even if she doesn't like how they look with princess clothes. 

She's been extra sniffley lately, and stayed home today with some post nasal drip issues.  Cody said she was very happy and sweet throughout the day.  I came home to some very detailed Lego and Calico Critter worlds.  There was some loud singing in the shower.  Her allergies get worse as she gets older, the crazy weather changes don't help anyone's sinuses, and sometimes you just catch every cold that comes along when you start school.  Still, she's been a sweetheart about it most of the time.  So gracious and curious and always ready to be in charge.  I guess that's how you can tell the queens from the princesses. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

No-spend adventure: Week 3

Week 3: $72.24 at Kroger.  I don't know why it costs so much, but it did.  There were some over-the-counter meds and....clearly some other things. 

Cody refueled his car and that cost $15.50, and added air to my tire again for $1.  It already looks low, so he'll probably have to set up an appointment about that soon. 

Money in the emergency fund: still nothing.

But!  We paid the registration fee for Evelyn's school a whooping 5 months early just because we wanted to.  And we'll be fine to take the car in.  Cody needs to go to the dentist (actually, we all need to go to the dentist pretty soon), and that's not going to be an emergency either.

Because when you have money in your account, not everything outside of bills-as-usual is an emergency.  Thrilling!

I felt so good about it that we went out for Wendy's for lunch today.  Cody donated blood and Evelyn went to watch.  I went in case Evelyn didn't want to watch.  But he'd already explained to her how it would work and we talked about it some more this morning.  The Red Cross people were super nice, Cody's a model blood donor, and Evelyn was super interested.  I wouldn't go so far to describe as a fun family outing, but she enjoyed meeting new people and feels pretty important knowing all the stuff she knows about blood donation now.  She says she'd like to try it sometime when she's bigger, and can sit still long enough.

She generally wants to do whatever it is we do.  Here she is doing yoga with Cody.  In 20 years, she plans to take my job.

After she and Cody ate snacks and split a bottled sweet tea, we asked him if he wanted to go to eat with us at our favorite restaurant.  I've been wanting fast food a lot here lately, and there was a Wendy's nearby.  It cost $10.69, and they got my order wrong.  Still a fabulous lunch.  I love Wendy's.

I need to switch some clothes into the dryer, and don't feel like doing math, so I'm not going to tally up what we've spent this week and this month altogether.  It's more than I wanted to spend, but it's not too terrible.  I was surprised at how little this has affected our usual spending, but we don't go out much in the winter and maybe we've got a better handle on our expenses than I thought.   

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lent things

I'm never super clear on what a good way to observe Lent as a Protestant, but I am fairly certain telling Cody "Happy Lent Day!" last Wednesday was not the way you normally kick off the season.  I figure as long as I'm respectful (except for when I'm talking to my husband. Let's be real), it should be fine.  I'm going through my things, but somewhat differently than last year. 

Over the weekend, Evelyn was taking every single item out of her toy box and setting it aside or playing with it or moving it to somewhere else.  Sometimes she would announce that she didn't like a toy or book and I would ask "Do you want to donate it or give it to your cousins?"  I do this a lot, and it's a good way to determine if she's just being fussy--because then she'll whine "Nooooo!"--or if she really has moved on from something.  She pulled out a little Iron Man doll and said she didn't want it anymore.  So I asked the same question I'd probably asked her 5 times that day and lo, she felt like sharing.

What's more, she was pumped.  Did she want to donate her toy?  [delighted gasp] Yes, yes, yes!  We could take it to Savers!  Someone who likes Iron Man would be so excited!  They would spend their money to take this home!  The Iron Man baby doll would go somewhere where it could be played with all the time!

A tiny two-year-old.  Probably the last time I saw her play with this?

She probably spent more time getting excited about how much someone would be excited with this future thrift store find than she ever spent playing with the doll.  I'm not even upset.  We love shopping at second-hand stores because bargains are great, and I think it's a good way to understand donating.  Dropping off things you don't use isn't the same as throwing them out.  I have to keep reminding myself.  Evelyn, though, has a few toys and pajamas that she passionately loves--LOVES--that we've picked up at Savers or Goodwill.  I have some clothes and a really great coat that I love that I've bought secondhand.  As silly as it sounds, I have a paper towel holder that I bought for $2 that makes me happy every time I see it.  I'm too lazy to take a picture and put it here, but trust me when I say that I like it a lot and it feels like a very nice fit for our home.  Still, whenever I drop things off I feel a little twinge of doubt and I have to wonder if someone will like what I have to offer.

Evelyn, however, is very confident in her ideas.  She knows how excited she is when she convinces me to buy a Spiderman shirt or a book.  She assumes that everyone is as excited to get something new to them as she is.  And why not?  She's passed toys and books on to her cousins and received a lot of gracious thanks because sharing is a Big Deal.  She felt like the biggest girl in the world when she (finally, after a couple of years!) outgrew some clothes and gave them to a little friend.  Giving your things to other people can be pretty exciting!  I was a couple of days into casting off things I didn't want when I got my little reminder.  So now each day I try to throw out something no one needs, but I also try to look for something I have that someone would enjoy more.  Thinking about rounding up things to be given away rather than thinking about junk that needs to be gotten rid off makes a big difference in my attitude, and that's always nice.  I'm sure there's something meaningful I wanted to say, but this has taken too long and I'm sleepy.

Evelyn, to her credit, has set aside a few baby toys for Calvin in the past week or so.  And her school is doing a food drive.  I'm not entirely thrilled with how they're going about explaining it (at least not to younger kids. It's enough to say that sometimes people need help getting groceries and leave it at that), but I'm glad it's something they have.  This week they're calling for canned goods.  Evelyn immediately knew she wanted to donate a can of Bush's Baked Beans.  She always has to refer to them with the brand name.  It's her very favorite canned good.   She was beyond thrilled to take her can to school yesterday AND discover that one of her teachers also likes porknbeans.  She just felt really certain that she nailed this donation thing with her amazing offering.

Background: on lazy nights, usually once a month or so, we have mac'n'cheese and pork'n'beans for dinner.  Dessert is usually apples or something equally easy.  It's been a favorite of mine and Cody's for forever, and now Evelyn thinks it's a great treat.

She has yet to realize that now we're out of Bush's Baked Beans, and if she gets a craving I probably won't buy more because we have plenty of other good food to enjoy and if she gets cranky about it I'll remind her that she donated her beans to some other family and that will probably make her happy all over again.  Basically, that's how I want to approach my giving: super excited to share something that someone else will be excited to receive.  I've got a lot of chances to try it out between now and Easter.

Monday, February 15, 2016

No-Spend Adventure: Week 2

Another week of trying to not spend money has come and gone.  Spoiler alert, we spent money.  Here's where it went:

$11.26 at Target will get you two boxes of Valentines and some sugar hearts to go on top of your cupcakes.  Both the Valentines and the cupcakes were a beautiful success.

$4.04 will get you more frosting (Tip: you need 2 cans of frosting to cover 24 cupcakes.) and a donation to the food bank.  If I was a betting woman, though, I'd wager that Cody spent a little something extra on a bottle of sweet tea for himself. Why does he lie about these small expenses?  Why do they make me furious?  Why would anyone pay for sweet tea?  I'll never know the answers to any of these mysteries.  All I know is that the Arkansas Food Bank Network has little cards you can give to your Kroger cashier for them to scan and it will donate some extra money, and I never seen Cody donate money to anything unprompted, ever. 

$1 to air up my tires.  One tire is already low again and probably needs to be patched (again?).

$3.82 is a gallon of milk at Walgreens that we probably could have skipped because Evelyn is getting over another cold and doesn't need the extra dairy in her belly.

$15 for more gas for Cody's car.  He drives in a lot of stop-and-go traffic, but I'll never believe his car is as fuel-efficient as mine even if it's supposed to get better mileage.  It doesn't.  I hate that car. It's just a very stupid car. 

Total: $35.12.  Life can be pretty cheap when you're not buying groceries.

Total for the month: $142.14

Money in the emergency fund: $0

Fun fact: Cody went in for a regular physical. He paid his co-pay, we'll be billed for some bloodwork, and he filled some prescriptions. He'll also go back for a follow-up visit for something that will most likely turn out to be nothing but still has to be checked. Evelyn went to the doctor for what turned out to be a regular cold, and Cody had to refill some of her maintenance medication prescriptions.  Then we had to buy a bunch of regular over-the-counter medications for all three of us (winter is so awesome. It is my very favorite time of year) yesterday.  Our Amazon prime membership automatically renewed.  Our laptop runs so slowly that this post has taken nearly an hour to write just because everything freezes up, I have to mash certain keys repeatedly because they stick, and uploading pictures is an undertaking that requires so much time and emotional energy that I think I'll actually be happy when this thing inevitably bursts into flames.

And Cody is scheduled for something like 12 hours this week.

So.  No money is going into the emergency fund.  Again.

But.  We're not really having any emergencies.  There's money in the account because we're not spending much on anything else.  We're feeling pretty prepared for the upcoming expenses (possibly a new air purifier for our room, and new filters for the one in Evelyn's room, along with some school fundraising things, and some fees to apply for the next school year), and we're able to take care of the ones that have come along.  Cody worked a lot of extra hours over the holiday season, and that gave us some padding against disaster.

And to focus on the bright side, here's what we didn't pay for:
-Some car repairs, apparently.  Cody took his car in for some work (stupid, junkity car) last month and that was what used up the last of our emergency fund.  Some cracked something or anothers were repaired, levels were topped off, etc.  The price was lower than we expected, which made sense when he got a call from the shop last week saying that they'd had some accounting issues and wanted to know what he paid.  It turns out we'd been underbilled by $400 supposedly.  I say "supposedly" because none of this seems real and part of me wonders if I dreamed it. But okay, fine. You tracked your costs but didn't charge them. Since the error was their fault, we didn't have to pay.  Again, I have paid for PLENTY of people's errors on bills before but okay.  Cool?  I feel like a bill is coming.  But I always feel like a surprise bill is coming, because one usually is.  Typing all this out is making me more paranoid about money than usual, so let's move on to cuter things:

Like that.  I crocheted a cover for a tissue box and that was Evelyn's Valentine's box.  She helped me sew on one of the studs.  There were other Lego-themed mailboxes in her class, but she was pretty proud of hers and let everyone know that I had made it.  Also, we may now be the kind of people who have tissue box covers which is kind of fun and fancy.  I usually roll my eyes over things like this, but it's fun and Evelyn loves Legos.  The best things in life usually aren't entirely free, but stuff like this proves they can be had pretty inexpensively.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

No-Spend Adventure: Week 1

This picture has nothing to do with anything, but I took it last week and wanted you to see these cuties.

We're doing a no-spend month again!  It's been a while since we've tried this (I don't remember the last time we tried to do this for a whole month, but I remember we had to buy diapers. So it's been a while), but I wanted to do a month-long spending fast.  February's a short month, and it's a nice break before all the birthdays of March and April.  We're back to $0 with our emergency fund, and I'd like to build it back up. 

Regular bills, medical things, and gifts don't count. I usually try to base our weekly spending on this family's, with around $70 a week for groceries and gas.  We spent a little more than that this week, and that was with a teeny bit of grocery stockpiling beforehand (I've been doing most of our grocery shopping lately and I tend to stock up on basics that are on sale).

Week 1: $107.02

Gas: $26 to fill both our tanks, which is actually pretty great
Groceries: $66.24 at Kroger and $9.78 at Whole Foods (my knitting group meets there and so I either buy dinner there or do a little grocery shopping after seeing friends.  They have good apples!)
Other: $3 in overdue library fees

So we spent more than I wanted on groceries, but we have crackers and coffee for the rest of the month.  We also bought vegetable oil and cake mix and icing for Evelyn's Valentine's Day party at school. We probably could have done without some of the snack foods, but it's nice to have some of these things to pack in her lunch box.  Next week's grocery bill will be a lot lower because we have all the Cheez-its, oatmeal, and bell peppers we need.  (We like our staples.)

What we didn't spend money on:
-Haircuts. Cody bought a new trimmer (I honestly don't remember if it was this week or not! I'm not going to look it up) and I cut his hair.  Then he trimmed my undercut.
-Um, love?  I don't know.  We watched some library DVDs and Evelyn is still very heavily invested in Barbies/baby dolls/Calico Critters with a bit of coloring and reading on the side.  We can usually keep ourselves pretty entertained.

Monday, February 8, 2016

An anniversary post for Mom

Mom's been cancer-free for 13 years.

That's nearly the length of time of Dallas.  That's longer than we've known our husbands.  It's even more than the ages of her three grandkids combined.

It's a good long time.

I gave her a pair of handknitted socks.  She looked a little surprised, because I've done a lot of complaining about how much I dislike knitting socks in the past--both online and out loud.  But I've found a recipe I like, and she's easy to knit for in a few important ways.  First of all, this is a big anniversary and we like to celebrate it in a pretty big way.  How better than with thousands of small stitches?  (Okay, so my dad always takes her to dinner some place nice and sometimes the siblings send flowers. Those are good ways to celebrate as well.)

Also, she's a cold person who loves presents.  The minute I give her something I knitted she has to stop everything and try it on, rearrange it, check herself out in the mirror, get the washing instructions, etc.  She's a crafter's dream gift recipient.When Evelyn told her I crocheted her some socks, Mom corrected her with "They're knitted" at the very same time I did.  The next day she made sure to point at her feet during church and whisper "I'm wearing my socks!"

Lastly, she's my size.  Socks can be a tricky thing to make for someone, especially if you want them to be a surprise.  Our feet are pretty similar, so it was easy for me to try them on at important intervals.  This detail isn't the most important, but it's worth mentioning. 

So.  Another year of Mom.  A big gift like that calls for a big gift.  Or one as small as some Size 6(ish) socks.  Really whatever she wants.  I'll be happy to make it.  Happy anniversary, Mom. I love you! 

(We should maybe take a picture of just the two of us some time, because this is the most recent one I could find.)