Wednesday, December 17, 2008
This upcoming year the budget will be the top of the list. And, really, is it any wonder? The economy is in the toilet and doesn't seem to slowing down as it heads for the sewers. Job markets are unstable, house values are declining, and retirements have been knocked flat. We as a society have gone too long thinking that more is better. And credit is like having free money.
maybe because things are so bad, I've been watching the Suze Orman show some lately. I really enjoy her frank comments and her no nonsense attitude. So, with the budget for next year in mind, I've decided to check out some of her books. I'd like us to not only have a budget but to become fiscally secure and strong. I don't want us to worry again about job losses or house values. It means things will be tight, I'm sure. And there will be lots of "no we can't buy that" in our house. But that's ok. Jeff and I will be better off and Grayson will learn that there are more important things than more "stuff". Wish us luck.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Why? Hmm, perhaps it's the anticipation of what the box holds. The unexpected surprise. Or perhaps it's just the sheer fun of opening a box, even when it's something you ordered yourself. Likely though it stems from my past career.
I worked in advertising before having Grayson. I was a Senior Media Planner and Buyer. And to the average Joe, that means nothing. In real people language - I'm the one who decided how the ad budget was spent. As you can imagine, sales reps want you on their side. They want to be "friends". They want the money! Visits from sales reps used to mean you would get some little trinket with their magazine/newspaper/website/tv channel logo on it. But at Christmas? Oh at Christmas the boxes would come. Not from everyone mind you. But enough would come that others in the ad agency would start making frequent trips to the media department in search of chocolates, cookies, and such. And food wasn't all you got. I have in my house a silver Tiffany picture frame (blessedly not engraved!). I received wine, turkeys (yes, as in more than one), gift certificates, and spa bath stuff.
The last few years I worked, the free goodies were less and less. Ad revenue was not as high and budgets were just not there for lots of holiday goodies to any but the biggest of spenders. My agency still received cookies and candies, just not in the same quantity. And I think all the years in advertising spoiled me at the holidays. I became accustomed to the boxes. I don't miss advertising. And I don't' truly miss the boxes. But it sure is cool when you get one! I hope you get at least one this year!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
So what's my solution? Drinks tonight with a girlfriend. I'll vent there. I've already vented to another mom and that helped too. All I will say is this:
Moms don't need to be lectured too. We have it hard enough. We already worry that we aren't doing the best we could. We know that we make mistakes. But we trust that our children know we love them and would do anything for them. There. Not much of a blog. I'm sorry. But oddly enough, I feel better. For all you moms out there - WAY TO GO!! Keep up the hard work!!
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Which makes me wonder - where are the squirrels? For years, we have lamented the little holes the squirrels dug, hiding their food for the winter. Our cat would sit for hours at the front of the house, twitching his tail and making these weird noises. Not so this year. Really. In the last week, I've seen two. That's all two. Are we facing a harsh winter? Did the squirrels get scared away? Let me know what you think!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I knew it was coming. And I thought this would be his answer. But still it's a little unnerving. I mean, it's one more confirmation you're getting older. I don't mind the idea of not having a period anymore. Really, who would? But, why is a different story.
I came home and told Jeff the news. He took it like a typical man (meaning his only comment was "OK") until I told him this could last up to 10 years. Then he just looked at me. He has been on the receiving end of the mood swings and crankiness a lot lately. He just looked at me a LONG time. I think he was dazed. His next comment - what can I (meaning me not him) do for it? Answer - low dose birth control pills.
I don't really want to do that. I don't know why. I enjoy the freedom of not having to remember taking it. (For those who don't know, Jeff was snipped three years ago.) And the savings is nice too. But after this weekend, I think I'll have to go on it. I really was a *itch to both Grayson and Jeff. Jeff is one thing, but Grayson can't understand all this. And he shouldn't have to.
So, I can't believe I wrote this. Southern ladies don't talk about these things in public. But, then I thought, I don't know who's reading this. And the ones I do know about, I'd tell anyway! Something to look forward to ladies!
Monday, October 6, 2008
That's what this bathroom renovation is. The money pit. I don't know if you ever saw the movie but I feel like I'm living that right now.
We thought, after getting the tile down and the light fixture moved, that we were coasting toward easy street. Who was I kidding? It never works like that. We McMullans (my maiden name) are notorious for having stuff go horribly wrong.
This weekend we decided to install the cabinet and vanity. We measured where the pipes were in the wall so that we could drill the holes in the cabinet. And, yep, here's where the problem starts. The water pipes are perfectly lined up with the drawers in the cabinet. Meaning we would never be able to get the water shut off in an emergency. Why don't we just take the drawers out if such an emergency would happen, you ask? Because we can't figure out how to get the drawers out. Seriously. I know it shouldn't be hard. But after 45 minutes of working with the drawers, they won't come out. So, see, that's a problem. Because you just know that you aren't going to have 45 minutes to fiddle with drawers if there's a water break.
So then we thought, why not just put a hole between the open space under the sink and the drawers. We could simply reach through and turn off the pipes that way if necessary. The problem there is that there is a support board there. A 2 inch board. And, I'm not so keen on messing up something that helps it stay stable.
The only solution we could come up with was to have a plumber come and move the pipes over a few inches. I know, I know. The cost! But, what else can we do? Seriously, if you know something, share it with me!! We need a plumber anyway to put in the shower/tub fixtures so we'll have him do it all at once.
Now, one more kicker. The vanity top. The one I loved. It was marble and oh so elegant. Not happening. We have taken the top back three times now due to cracks. We discovered that this weekend too. After returning the third one, we agreed that we aren't meant to have marble. We found one in granite we like At Home Depot. And it's cheaper. So that's sweet. But still - the marble was just gorgeous. But if it was so susceptible to getting chips in the padded box, can you imagine what a five year old could do to it?
The tile floor is laid and looks great. Wasn't hard to do, just time consuming. Spreading the grout was a little harder but not much. Again, just took a while and the cleanup was more physically strenuous than I thought it would be. (Who knew you would need to scrub the tiles three times, hard, to get the residue off?!)
After the floor was laid, Jeff and I thought the best thing to do next would be to sand the areas of the wall that were dinged in the gutting process. We also decided to move the light fixture box so it would be centered on the vanity. Yes, you read correctly. The light box was not centered over the vanity in the first place. Now, you may recall from a previous post that the original light fixture was glued to the wall. We discovered a month ago, after patching the sheetrock from the glue, that the box wasn't centered when we hung up our new fixture. See, the original light was one of those hollywood globe lights that are standard contractor grade and it never showed up. The new fixture made it very apparant.
My husband is very handy. He went to Lowes and found all the stuff he needed to move the box. It was supposed to be as simple as adding a piece of wood to the 2x4 and then attaching the box to that. The box only needed to move over about 2 inches. Well, get this. The original box was never attached to the 2x4. It was simply pushed into the sheetrock. Yep. That's right. The box was attached to NOTHING!! I kid you not. Who does this kind of crappy work?>! Once again, a 30 minute job became a 2 hour job.
Monday, September 22, 2008
We are very careful about both the amount of TV and the type of programs we let Grayson watch. Not just because we believe everything we read but because, well, it's not really needed to have a fulfilled childhood. I believe that creativity isn't sparked by watching the TV. But I also know that there are, in my oh so humble opinion, times when it is justified in this house. Grayson knows he can watch a short show before nap and bedtime. Contrary to any media reports out there, this settles my child down. It's part of his routine and he knows sleep is next. He also watches sometimes when I'm sick or need to get something done and can't with him around my feet. You know what else? I also know that I watched TV growing up and I turned out just fine.
So, what does he watch? Well, a lot of PBS. Sid the Science Kid, Zula Patrol, Jakers, and Cyberchase are some of his favorites. He also loves Scooby Doo. Come on! What kid doesn't love Scooby Doo>!? Heck I still like it!
Here's how I know that it isn't all bad though. Today, coming home from a birthday party, my son decides to tell me all about the moon. Why we can only see one side. How the other side is in the dark and why. And more. And he had it all right!! Now, Jeff and I didn't tell him this stuff. This is straight from watching Zula Patrol! Not only did it entertain him, but he learned something!! How cool is that?! So, all TV is not bad. And it isn't all equal. But most of all - I'm doing something right. :)
Monday, September 15, 2008
He did a great job! I was really impressed. And humbled. We went .8 mile. He was tired at the end but not so much that he didn't want to do it again. So, today, we went again. This time we ran just shy of a mile. He needs to walk a little more than Jeff and I but that's ok with me. I think it's great he wants to exercise. Along the way, he makes us work a little harder too!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Yesterday he wanted us to smell his feet. He finds our looks and exclamations hysterical when we get a whiff. I asked him why he thought his feet stank. His response? "There must be some kind of natural environment that makes my feet stinky." I kid you not. It cracked me up so much I wrote it down right away. Seriously?! What 5 year old talks OR thinks like that? You know you'd laugh too! Heck, I'm smiling now. My little erudite son.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
My in laws live in San Angelo, which is on the west side of TX. It takes us almost a day to travel. Because there are few flights into San Angelo, we typically fly into Austin and then drive the rest of the way. By the time it's done, all three of us are just pooped. Jeff's parents are in their 80s so it is very important that we make the time for Grayson to see them. This trip was a little harder for me than usual since my uncle passed away two days prior.
I don't come from a large family. And usually that's ok. But we've had two deaths now in the last year and we're getting smaller. I loved my uncle very much but there was no way I could make the memorial. My husband's family needed to take precedence. On top of which, the death wasn't unexpected. He had been sick for a few years now and his health had been failing. I know he's in a better place but it's still hard losing a loved one. I pray that my mom and aunt found strength and comfort this past weekend.
There really isn't anything to report about San Angelo. Seriously. Nothing. And we've never had much chance to see Austin either. This time, though, we did get a chance to see the bats emerge from Congress Avenue Bridge. Usually the bats leave the bridge at dusk. Not this time. Sometimes they leave later if the insects aren't plentiful enough (come to my house - we have LOTS!). This was one of those nights apparently. Jeff couldn't really see anything since it was quite dark. Grayson and I barely made out the bats leaving. Kind of anti climatic. But at least we've done it. I don't have any pictures because, well, it was too dark!! So, here's a link at what we should have seen. :)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
We talked for such a long time last night and it was so nice! In high school we were like sisters. We were into so many things. Most need to stay between us! ;) (I don't want to think about Grayson and high school right now!) I had forgotten some of what we did but we talked and laughed and it felt great. And, we found out that we have some similarities even now in life. How great is that?!
I have made a conscious decision that we are going to keep in touch. I hate that we lost touch in the first place. We live in such a mobile society now that it becomes difficult to maintain friendships without that conscious effort. She now lives in Columbia SC where all of my relatives are!! Her daughter is in Rock Hill where my parents are! What a small, small world. Here's looking to seeing her soon! :)
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
At noon, the team was called together and the president announced the layoffs. Are you ready for this? He then took them to lunch. At lunch he told them that the company would give them a call when they get "back on their feet". Riiight. Like the employees are going to jump to work there again.
It gets better. Because the company is small, they can cancel health insurance immediately. Which they did. We found out today, after MANY calls, that Jeff can maintain insurance by paying the premium to the company. And there is a grace period before the premium is due. We should receive a letter very soon on this. We'll have to do this for the short term. Jeff can't be uninsured. Not a good thing. But, the premium is higher than being self insured (we know from past experiences).
Here's what I don't understand. How can you possibly hire when your financial income is so dire? Is your head stuck up somewhere it doesn't shine? Are you simply ignorant of the most basic of money management? Do you balance your checkbook? Seriously? It's not rocket science. You need money to hire people. If your long term financial is not strong enough, then you don't hire. That, to me, is the most basic tenement of owning a business.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I know, I know. I'm embarrassed. But I can't help myself. I never watched 90210. I don't get People Magazine (although I do peruse it at doctor offices, etc). I rarely watch Access Hollywood or Entertainment Tonight. So how could I have possibly found this? Summer TV. That's how. There's really nothing on in the summer. And as I was flipping channels, there it was. The first episode no less. I stopped and watched. Really there was nothing else on. I had a book to read but sometimes you need the mindless blob that is the TV.
Here's what I discovered. I like her and her husband. I could be her friend. Sure they're flawed. But aren't we all? She works hard to earn money. She also spends money like no one else I know. Of course, she's used to a certain lifestyle. Her daddy was WEALTHY. Not just a tiny bit wealthy but seriously loaded. She doesn't spend like you might think she would but it's still a lot. She and Dean clearly love each other. One of her best friends is gay. She is adored by "my gays" (her words). She and her mom have a bad relationship. Did you know she only got approximately $800,000 from her dad's $500 million estate? Her mom kept the rest. Isn't that nice?! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tori_Spelling)
OK, I have now aired my dirty laundry. What I'm willing to admit to, at any rate. You didn't think we Southern girls shared everything? Honey, we may talk a lot but we don't tell 75% of what we know.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
This week though he told me he loves me more than God loves me. Now we all know that just isn't so. But in his world it's possible. As my mom put it, I'm his universe. Which is nice. My heart swells that he loves me so much. The downside though is that I get no personal space. None. Potty time? He's with me, talking. Shower? Yep, he has something to tell me that can't wait then too. On the phone? Are you kidding - that's when he REALLY has to talk to me.
I know that one day I won't be the universe. And he won't be as openly affectionate. I'll probably hear the refrain of "Mooom! You're embarrassing me!!" So for now, I'll grin through the constant touching and cuddling and talking. Because, one day, I'll miss this more than I can imagine.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
We have been paying one of those general home warranties for the last few years knowing that a lot of the big ticket items are 12 years old. And it has come in handy many times. Each year we have either broken even or come ahead. We would never have guessed though that the new unit would need work before the 12 year old one! Luckily, the problem was covered under warranty so we were only out $50.
The bad news is that the repairman told me that we probably have a slow leak somewhere. And, with the rising costs of HVACs, warranty plans like ours are finding more and more loopholes to get out of paying for new units. He recommended we get on a maintenance plan with someone. The repair and charge will easily get us through the rest of the year and, hopefully, all of next summer too. Then, when something does happen, we will have maintenance records to prove we have been taking care of the house.
We haven't been the best with regular maintenance on the units. We've done them, just not the recommended twice a year. We've had other things take priority. Now though this will take priority. Fun huh?
Sunday, August 3, 2008
So why didn't I go to SW this time? Good question. I was hopeful? Well, never again. Seriously. Never. The paint didn't want to adhere. It's a new can (well a month old). Should not be a problem. The crown molding was already primed. After three - 3- coats, the crown molding is painted and looking good!
Now, to tackle the ceiling paint touch ups, caulk, get the light fixture centered on the wall....This bathroom has some seriously bad karma!!
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Will I go this year then? No. We just don't need anything. Not really. And the only thing I can think to buy for the future are more shoes for Grayson. His shoe size hasn't changed yet but it's been 6 months. It will happen soon. However, I'll do it online. He likes the running shoe he has now. I'll just order one size larger.
I'd like some more shoes myself. But, I won't join the masses this weekend. I love shoes and can think of several more I want but it isn't an actual need. And, while I'd love to spend the money on shoes for me, I really want us to go to DC this fall more. I want us to have a family vacation. Just the three of us. Something that Grayson can remember years later.
So to all you tax-free shopping fiends - be safe, have fun, and find good deals!!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Back in April, our hot water heater burst. From the top. In the middle of the night. Did I mention is sits in the attic? The result was significant damage to the ceiling in the guest bathroom. We had already put a "remodel" of this bath on our to-do list. We just weren't ready to pull the trigger yet. But that's ok. We can work with it. After getting the ceiling fixed, we bought paint, crown molding, ceramic tiles, a new mirror, new light fixture and new accessories. Piece of cake. Hah!
We've painted, hung the molding, put the new accessories up, hung the mirror and were ready to change the light fixture. (We'll do the tile in a month or so.) Shouldn't take that long. We're handy people. Friends have seen all the work we've done and know we aren't afraid to tackle much. How bad can this be, right?
Well, pretty bad. When Jeff went to take the fixture off the wall we discovered the previous owners or builders SUPER GLUED one corner of the fixture. Is that normal? Super glue? Didn't use a toggle screw on that side. Oh no, why do it the right way when you can just glue the thing to the wall. I can't even begin to tell you how mad I was and still am. The idiocy of some people continues to astound me. It's not hard to do things the right way. Really.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
This morning Grayson and I were brushing our teeth. Since we are in the middle of remodeling the guest bath (another post needed there!), he is in the master bathroom with me. There he finds a partially used tube of Crest Junior. This was left by my brother's family when they visited in June. (Someone is always leaving something at someone's house in my family!) We haven't bought Crest Junior yet - I've been purchasing the toddler Oral B toothpaste (cooler packaging to me). Grayson wants to know where his toothpaste is. I tell him to just use the Crest Junior. It's early still, I have a thousand things on my mind, and, really, does it matter?! His response? "Mommy, it's not ours." I reply it's ok. Uncle Christian won't mind. They don't need it now. We can use it. Grayson says "We have to give it back. We can't keep something that isn't ours." My heart swelled. And my mind was amazed. My child has been listening to all the things we try to teach him! And he gets it!! Mind you it's over a tube of toothpaste, but who cares?!
You want your children to do the right thing. So, Christian and Stephanie, while I'm not mailing the toothpaste back, Grayson and I agreed we would bring you a new tube when we see y'all next. I have too. He's right. It's not ours. :)
Monday, July 28, 2008
Last week my son had vacation bible school (VBS). I was supposed to relax, enjoy myself, my husband says. I had errands galore to do. Finally, on Wednesday, I found an hour to sit back and relax. At least that was the plan. I went upstairs to the master bath and turned on the lights. A loud pop and a stream of smoke came pouring out of the light fixture. I panicked. The light it came from was burned out. Had been for two weeks. So the pop sound wasn't the bulb breaking. And the smoke? There was enough that I thought "this is so not good". I called 911. I politely told them that it was most likely nothing but would they please send a fireman to check it out. You don't want your house to burn down after all.
In less than five minutes there were two fire trucks, two fire chiefs, an ambulance and a news crew at my house. All of which arrived with sirens blaring and lights flashing. Really? Did we need all this? I mean, an ambulance?! A news crew?! Yikes!! And, wouldn't you know, it's a lovely day, low humidity, so people are out walking. Well not anymore. They are standing across the street watching. Out come the firemen in all their gear. Up the stairs they go. No smoke now. Just a lingering electrical burnt smell. So they take the fixture off and look behind the wall with some special camera. Luckily, no fire, no heat, behind the walls. So, where did the smoke and smell come from?
One of the chiefs tells me that it is likely the fixture itself is faulty. I did the right thing calling them. And, until the lights are replaced, the breaker should stay off. But, why so many people here, I ask. Turns out it is standard operating procedure for our fire department. The news crew? They were passed by the fire trucks and decided to follow. Oh lucky me.
Is the light replaced yet? No, but they are down so the breaker is back on. Did we make the news? No thank goodness. Can you imagine? I shiver thinking about it. But, I did the right thing calling. After calling my husband at work, he wanted to know why I didn't tape it? He thought it would be cool to see - all the fire trucks at our house. He's not southern. He wouldn't understand you just don't do those things.