Friday, November 29, 2013

My stomach hurts

It is all about the house. Yes, the house. It is always the house. We are at a point now that we are trying to decide if we should renovate or move. There are so many things to weigh. The renovation estimates are so much more than we bargained for. Do we scale back or go for it? What we would like to go for is not even what we hoped to do. Selling is a stressful thought, and we also need to save for a year or two for that down payment. There are so many unknowns with selling. So we can't sell right now. Will we be able to sell this house? Will we find what we want? What will the market do in the meantime?

How can we renovate now? Well we have tapped into the new home improvement loans that are being offered for people just like us that have no equity but good credit and a decent income. We almost will have enough to do a second floor addition. It will add two bedrooms and a bathroom. The kitchen will have to wait. The stress is unreal. I am so sick of waiting. I want to have a bigger house now. I know it will not be a giant house, but it will be a little bigger. Do we go upstairs with the kids and have one of them come back down when they get bigger or will they be okay going upstairs without us. Am I impatient and impulsive? I know the answer to that. When I compare to other people I know I feel like we are making this the starter home that other people are leaving for four bedrooms colonials. I don't want the four bedroom colonial or the overpriced raised ranch that we often see. I want an extra room to have friends over. I want toys off my first floor. I want someone else to make this decision for us. We have talked about it for years, but now that we actually may be able to do something we feel a huge amount of pressure. Will we be saddled with loans and still hate the house? I don't know what to do.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cutting the grocery bill to buy a house

Yeah, we think we might actually have to save for a bit and just sell this house. The jury's out, but I guess that is how people do things:) Whatever happens we will figure it out.

Regardless of what we decide to do we will need a lot of money. This is why I am trying to slash my grocery budget without letting us go hungry. Since August 17th I have spent $311.40. My original goal for the month was $600.00. That includes household supplies. School is getting back in session, so we are both working and will need lunches each day. I cooked and froze a bunch of things a week and a half ago. I can tell you that frozen things come in really handy, but you can get sick of things quickly. This week my goal is to create some meals with what I have and leave what is left of the frozen meals until next week. So far this week we had

Chicken enchiladas (freezer) Sweet and sour (chicken)-fresh recipes from ingredients on hand Chili-made with some precooked frozen beef

Tonight I am making chicken fried rice with cooked chicken that is defrosting and left over rice from the sweet and sour chicken.

So I guess I am still using items from the freezer, but there are some fully prepared meals are still in there. I have dinners through the end of next week sketched out. Can I really stay under $600.00 until September 17th. I don't know. After consulting blogs I like I thought $600.00 was way too much to spend, but after I saw what I have spent in ten days I was thinking, YIKES! However, I did buy a lot of back up with what I have spent. For example, I have enough cereal to get us through October. I know, some people that are extremely frugal don't buy cereal, but my kids really like Cheerios, so I just buy it on sale. I also have plenty of pasta and enough snacks for school lunches. I really would like to come in under $500.00.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Needs and Wants

We got a number from the realtor. It is depressing, but it is the information that we need to make some decisions. I have a few more phone calls to make tomorrow, but the numbers have shown us a lot. We will figure it out. At the end of the day I would like a moderate house and have more money to save and spend. I don't need a gigantic house. Renovating this house, even on a small scale, would be a good way to make some changes, give us more room, but still not be in debt for thirty more years. We just refinanced to a fifteen year mortgage. We really don't want to be in debt into our seventies. Even a twenty year mortgage would take us into our sixties. Fifteen years feels good. We would be debt free while we were both still working full time. It would give us time to save and bank a lot and help both kids with college. That is really important to me. It is just about scraping up enough to actually do a renovation. A full third floor renovation is really pricey. We aren't sure we can get the money. A moderate renovation gives us two bedrooms and a full bath upstairs, which would essentially become the kids floor. We would stay in our small bedroom. We would open the wall between the kitchen and living area and repaint. The current bedroom that the kids use would become a den. It would still be smallish, but I think that is okay. I am too old to try to keep up with the rest of the world. Being happy in a moderate house is more important than being unhappy in a mansion.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

No more coffee :(

Well, no more stopping to grab coffee. I finished my last gift card today. Part of the stay on budget plan includes me not grabbing coffee on the way home. That delicious coffee really adds up. Also, I should be drinking water instead of coffee.

Today was another day that I prepared dinner from my freezer stash of meatballs and a box of pasta. My pledge to stop all take out is really in full gear. I am looking around the kitchen trying to figure out the minimum I can spend this weekend. We will need milk, fruit, and a few basic items. We are almost out of dishwasher soap. We are already out of trash bags, but I am waiting it out with a shopping bag in there. It isn't that I can't stop to get trash bags, but I know I could easily spend $40.00. It is so so easy. Trying to think of something quick and easy for tomorrow. I think grilling would be good. Maybe I will try to make some homemade hamburger rolls. I read about them a lot, and they sound so good. Plus we are both back to work next week. I want the sitter to have enough basics to feed the kids every day. I got a giant deal on snacks including crackers and cookies. I scored a variety of seven containers for $9.00. I was really happy, and immediately ran everything to the basement so it would not get eaten before school was in full gear.

Don't know yet what the house could list for, but we could possibly get into a program that would allow us to buy a house for 2.5 percent down. Depending on what the house could go for we may be able to scrape and save and make a choice soon. No more coffee.

Saving $40,000

I sort of made up this figure. It could actually be more, or maybe less but I doubt it. This is what I think we could need to sell our house. We are waiting to see what the realtor thinks he can list the house for. He's pretty conservative, so it should not get our hopes up. Between paying the realtor and coming up with a down payment for a new house I am freaking out. Houses in our town are pretty ridiculous just because so many people live here their entire lives. I like it here, but it is just an average town with expensive houses. It also has a small inventory.

My point, as my brain swirls with activity, is how the heck do we save $40,000, if that is in fact what we need. That will take us years. We could literally live here for three or four more years while we pay down the mortgage and bank every penny.

Glad I did not get my nails done this weekend.

The most frustrating thing is that with our current income we could certainly swing a high mortgage payment. We are paying one now.

Monday, August 19, 2013

How to save lots of money

No, this post is not about how to save money, it is more about the overwhelming idea that it seems really hard to save the money we will probably need to sell and buy a new house or renovate. They both seem pretty expensive and overwhelming right now.

On a happy note I did make dinner tonight. I am so proud of myself. I grilled pizzas and they were fabulous. I am taking a vow not to eat out at all this week. All cooking for this family. Save money, save money, save money.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Working, cooking, and houses

So I got the job that I wanted. This week I have to set up a new classroom and attend orientation. Next week I have three days of professional development. I am excited, but I feel anxious too. Last year I was in the same building, teaching the same grade, but I took over another classroom and used what was there. This year I am setting up my own classroom and just sorted through my own materials that have been in storage for almost seven years. They are in my car ready to go.

The anticipation of working full-time is making me a stressed out lunatic. I spent the whole morning cooking and freezing meals in preparation for not being able to make dinner after a long day of work. Last year we ate a ridiculous amount of take-out. Not only did not not help my waist line, but it cost us way too much money. I really need to reign in our food budget. So I have already created a monthly budget that I plan to stick to or stay under. It will include menu planning and careful shopping because we finally are both working full-time and it is time to save some money and figure out what to do about the house.

Oh the house, the house, I do love the house. It is cute and tiny, and tiny, and tiny. It is four rooms, yes I said four rooms. It is under 800 square feet. Our goal at this point is figure out if selling or renovating is our best options. Renovating seems quite expensive, but selling isn't cheap either. So now that we are both working full-time and have two decent salaries coming in, we need to buckle down and save some money because no matter what we decide to do one thing is certain. We will need money.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why am I lazy?

My anxiety is back and forth. I just raced through some cardio and it felt so much better. This week's goal is cardio every day. I tend to do it when I need it, but when I feel great I blow it off. I think if I were more consistent the anxiety would disappear. I would consider my anxiety mild, but really aggravating. I can't imagine what a full blown anxiety condition must feel like. I really get lazy when I feel good, because when I feel good I can't imagine feeling lousy. When I feel lousy it is hard to picture feeling good.

Now that I will be going back to work because I did get the job I need to set some goals. This week's goals include daily cardio, more water some water, ice coffee isn't the only beverage, and a better diet. Good luck to me.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Interviews, trash lasagna and Richard Simmons

Like the title? It makes you wonder what I am thinking. One is that the interview that could make or break my career is in just a few hours. That is stressful. With the idea that I could be working I have been doing a frantic childcare search and find ways to make the fall fluid and calm for all of us.

The lasagna is a bad story. I love cooking and reading cookbooks. It is really one of my favorite things to be in my kitchen (no matter how small). Sometimes I feel like I could have been Liv Walton cooking and preparing food all day. I attempted to create this new lasagna recipe that I got from a reputable crock pot book. My crock pot is new, which may be the problem. Bottom line is at the end of the cooking time the sausage was still raw. I even added an additional hour plus on high. Still gross. So disappointed. All that work to make dinner that we could have eaten twice and we still ended up ordering a pizza.

After I trashed the lasagna I decided I needed to get some exercise. (Yes, I did throw it out. Raw sausage is unsettling. After fighting with it to cook I knew I could not eat that lasagna without worrying about getting sick.)I have been taking the time to do various workouts we have, and we have a lot! Well last night my bad mood and I decided to try Richard Simmons Sweating to the Oldies. Yes I own this, and yes it is a tape, and yes it is from 1988. What can I say, I am not twenty five. It is virtually impossible to stay in a bad mood if you are working out with Richard Simmons. You can't. If you are dancing and doing his routine as he sings, never mind that the video is totally 80's. It actually is a great workout and got me over the lasagna disaster. Not over it enough for hubby to make jokes. The recipe I attempted is on the front cover of the cookbook. He started to crack a joke. I told him I was not ready for that. He asked when I would be ready. That's marriage for you. At least he bought the pizza.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

So many thoughts.......

When I go to write a post I have so many thoughts to share that I just can't get them straight. If I were to actually post more often I could focus my posts more. My personality is more like feast or famine so I have five different post ideas in my head right now, but I will probably go a month before writing again.

I have a few thoughts that I hope to share without being all over the place. Actually I don't think it is possible to not be all over the place, but I will try. Right now everyone is sleeping. It is 6:43 a.m. The kids have been so busy this summer. We had company yesterday and they were playing with their cousin for hours. They both went to bed late so hopefully I will have some more quiet time to focus and get ready for my day.

This morning started with my allergies. Wretched allergies would be the best way to describe them. Dust, pollen, wine, general breathing. Each day begins with a runny nose, and we ran out of Allegra. Also, I need to go an allergist while there is still time this summer. Have I actually called? Of course not.

My anxiety is about a five and a half or six out of ten. I am convinced it changes throughout the month and is very connected to my hormones. It is usually at its worst during PMS. I typically feel my best at the beginning of each cycle. What do I agonize over? Everything. My mind is a constant tornado of thoughts, worry, guilt, questions. At 41 I have begun to realize that a lot of it is my personality. Sometimes I let those little thoughts, worries, and obsessions, float around my head. I just live and get through. I have learned and continue to work on just letting them be there without getting too stuck on them. My allergies and I decided to sneak out of bed and do a little yoga routine. Nothing strenuous, just a very short morning yoga video (yes video)that stretches the body and awakens the mind. It was a good start to the day, and shockingly enough no one woke up to help me. I envisioned a four year old voice saying "Hi Mama" but he is still dreaming. Whew! So my quick yoga routine was helpful to wake me up. Here I am typing and I haven't even had coffee. I bought this set about ten years ago. I used to do it before work sometimes. What I really need to do today is blow through some cardio. My diet and exercise plan has not gone that well. I could whine, but life's too short. At this point I care more about health than being thin. I know there can be a connection, but overall I would prefer to be someone who worked out regularly and ate well and wore a size 12 as opposed to someone who was skinny but not healthy. For the record I don't wear a size 12, but I would be strutting my stuff if I did. The cardio workout is what helps blast that anxiety out. I promise I will do stuff, but then when I feel good it is so easy to put it off. I promise today that I will get in a cardio based workout. Now I need to start a new post.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The most random blog......

I was just reading through some old blog posts, and I have what I would call the most random blog ever. Work, cooking, not cooking, it is a potpourri of thoughts. We just took a fun mini vacation. I am trying to complete a summer schedule. I was able to actually purge some things from the house today and make the same dinner for everyone. No, not "everyone" ate it, but I will keep trying.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Schedules and me

I need one plain and simple. Me without a schedule is a one way ticket to depression city. I am not mocking depression; I am serious. If I don't have a schedule I get weird and off. Working full time, as hard and as challenging as it was, gave me a schedule. It was sometimes crazy, but it is what I need. If I am as lucky to work full time in the fall (we don't know quite yet) I need to get my meals in order because we ate way too much take out this year. It was really bad, and it has negatively affected my waist line.

What I need,want, and will have is a schedule for the summer. It will include working on the house every day to declutter and clean. It should include exercise and eating well to get into better shape. There is no excuse right now not to be able to make a healthy dinner. I have the time. There will be play time with the kids, which will include swimming in our town pool. Seeing friends I haven't seen in months and reading for enjoyment, which I had little time to do this year and really missed. It would be good to add spend some time with my spouse alone without children. Also my final schedule idea is to write something every day. Even if it is to just to recap my schedule.

Summer time..........

Here we are. It's summer time. This is my first summer that I am not working (outside of my house). I have always worked during the summer since we became parents. The first summer was a summer school program, followed by summer number two that included the same program and waitressing on the weekend. That was a really grouchy summer. Every summer since I did my same old waitressing gig. It wasn't full time, but I always had to figure out the cookouts and parties that we were invited to because that was when I worked. Also if you ever worked nights you probably know that "I have to work tonight mantra" that haunts you during the day when you know you have to go to work.

Since I went back to teaching this past year we decided it would be nice to not work during the summer. Parenting is plenty of work, so it isn't like I am sitting under a cabana all day. We have some house projects planned and a mini vacation to take. Yes, we are both off over the summer. I won't get into the "teachers get a lot of time off" comments that people make. We do have some great family time that I really appreciate, but it isn't why either one of us went into teaching. It also wasn't supposed to be part of this post so I will get one with it.

My six year old is enrolled in a few weeks of summer camp. It takes place right behind one of our town pools. Our town has fantastic activities that are really inexpensive. For the first time this year I bought summer swim passes for the family for our town pool. I had my four year old in the pool with me and in the distance we can see my six year old playing at camp. She looked so happy. My four year old was splashing around the pool showing me how he can jog in the water. Seriously he loved jogging in the water. His beaming face and bright blue eyes looked so happy just swimming with his mom. It reminded me how much we love our children. How we would do anything for them. Going back to work full time this year was a huge transition. My days were so busy that I did not worry much about my kids, but now that it is summer I realize how much I missed them and know how much I love them. Thank you summer time for giving me this time with my children. I will not take you for granted.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pantry challenge here I come

Yes, February for us will be an eat from the pantry and freezer sort of month. I am going to try to use as much as possible and not get too much take out. Last month we spent sort of a lot on take out. Now that I am working full time it is really hard to get dinner on the table. Yeah, whatever, I was sort of lazy before that too. Anyway, the point is that I want to save money, and we spend tons on groceries. It is just a way of life. However, I think that anyone can cut back. It isn't really even my opinion. There are many people that have blogs and books showing us that we don't have to spend millions on groceries. Now there are must haves and we have them. We need fresh fruit and we need it weekly. Milk is also a staple in our house. Bread is pretty popular too. I was making my own bread over vacation and might be able to do that in February, but right now I am buying bread. I find the best price I can on the most natural bread. So here is my pledge to myself. Make an inventory of what I have and try to plan some meals. This weekend I will get our essentials and anything that is really well priced. Dinner will be strictly what we have in the freezer or pantry. This should be fun.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Death is the hard part about life

Recently I attended a memorial service for my aunt's brother. He died suddenly this weekend leaving behind his parents, three teenagers, and four siblings. Watching family members struggling with emotions and trying to cope with such a loss is heartbreaking. How do you tell someone you are sorry that their son is gone? As my sister said the other day "there are no words". There are no words that can take away the grief and pain that comes when we lose someone we love so much. There are many things we think of when someone dies. What is there after death? Is there anything? I envy people that have total faith that there is something after this life. Those that know that dying is like being born again. I want to have that kind of faith, but truthfully I worry that there is nothing. It scares me that one day you are gone and that is it. All that is left is loved ones left to share your memories, but you will never talk again, or wake up again, or make another cup of coffee.

Besides thinking about our own inevitable death, we worry about losing others. The hardest part last night was watching his parents. It goes beyond anything I could ever imagine. Ten years ago this month I lost my best friend. She was thirty. It was the most devastating time in my life. At that time I had not had children yet, but still I knew that no matter how painful it was to lose her, my pain could never compare to that of her parents or only sister. For years I thought of her and them every single day. I cried a lot for many years after she died. I still think of her daily. She floats in and out of my head. I hear songs on the radio that we listened to in college and I convince myself it is her way of saying hello. Maybe that is my way of hoping that there is something after this. Something that speaks to me through a radio playing songs that we listened to repeatedly like college girls do. Dancing in a beat up Malibu, smoking cigarettes and singing off key, playing the same songs again and again. Those songs speak to me when I hear them. They come through in my car and I feel like my friend is there saying hello, or I miss you, or it is okay to move on. It is so hard to move on when you lose someone. In the past ten years since my friend has been gone I bought a house, got married, and had two kids. My life is nothing like it was. I often feel guilty about moving on. Guilty that I am here and she is gone. Guilty that I have a family and she could not. Sad when I snuggle my face against my own children, knowing how much I love them and can't imagine anything ever happening. Knowing that I will be gone someday, but my children will go on, the world will go on and maybe I can come back and say hi through a song.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I shopped again

Today I spent $109.00 at the store. I felt like I got a lot for my money. The only nonfood items totaled $5.00 (paper towels and trash bags). I had done a tentative meal plan, but when I got home was feeling so tired. Working all week is crazy. Each day flies by as I get out with the kids, drop them both off, get to work. My day is over quickly, and I need quick meals to throw together when I get home.

I bought a package of chicken and a large package of ground beef. I had elaborate plans that included freezing meatballs and meatloaf. I decided I deserved a bit of relaxing watching mindless television. I managed to pull together a skillet chicken pot pie that bakes in the oven with biscuits on it. It has fresh veggies and no canned gravy. It is a rich, but delicious dish all ready for me to get home Monday, make some biscuits and throw it in the oven. Monday is done. My large package of ground beef became a large pan of cooked ground beef. I froze two freezer bags of cooked ground beef for quick throw together dinners and turned the rest into chili. Some we are going to eat when I finish this post; I was able to freeze half of the chili. Freezing half a meal is good, not only because I can get another meal out of it, but we also eat less because I haven't put it all out.

We will see what the week brings