Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Dave Ramsey experience. so far.

You all know I am a personal finance junkie. I am definitely what Dave calls the "nerd" in our marriage. I like making the budget and crunching the numbers. I read Dave's book Financial Peace Revisited in late 2010.I agree with all of his methods for getting out of debt and building wealth. When the opportunity to take Financial Peace University at a church 2 blocks from my house, I jumped at it. The cost of the course :$50. The fee included the envelope system, about a dozen Cd's(audio versions of the DVDs we watched in class)in a leather case, the book:Financial Peace, and the workbook used in class. Some hosts charge up to $150 for the course so this was certainly a bargain. Members of the host church went for free.
I will not go through each class or the 7 baby steps he teaches here. But if you are interested you can learn more here. I will tell you that I was a little nervous not knowing who was teaching the class or who my peers would be.  The coordinator is an alum of Financial Peace University  who guides you through the workbook. Our coordinator was someone who went to my high school.My classmates were a variety of sweet people:an older couple close to retirement age who weren't sure how they would retire, newlyweds, a struggling single mom on disability, and another couple in a similar situation as ours. What is our situation? We my friends, we are people who make a good living and are not accountable for our spending. We throw our money away while people who make less than us live the life we should be living. We don't use credit cards but have no savings outside of our 401k. Loss of income would financially disable us.
We took about 60 days to get through baby step 1,$1000 in savings. Devin sold a car trailer from his racing days and pushed us into baby step 2,dumping debt. I said we don't do credit cards. Neither of us has had a credit card in about 10 years.BUT I did get one last Christmas when both kids wanted Nintendo ds game consoles. I got a Wal-mart credit card. I used it in December and then again in May to buy a gift card for a family whose home caught fire. I paid the balance in full when I received my statement but I knew that card had to go. So in week 2 of class I cut that sucker up. Wal-mart immediately invited me back with a higher limit. No thanks. Misty-1, retail giant-0.
The best part of his plan for us is the debt snowball. You list all your debts from smallest to largest. Make the minimum payments on everything but the smallest. You work extra, sell stuff, and cut your budget to throw a ton of money at that debt until it is gone. Then you add the amount you were paying on debt 1 to debt number two, continuing the cycle until you are debt free. To not have credit cards we sure have a lot of debt. I was afraid to make the list,fearful of how much my student loans would add up to and if my husband would still love me after seeing how much I owe. Most of the balances are small but the consolidation I did through Sallie Mae is huge thanks to two semesters at a private school.Other than my student loans we have a couple small medical bills and one vehicle payment. The software said we can be debt free by 2013.I can soooo live with that.
I am counting the Wal-mart card as debt one of our snowball payoff. The second was a monthly $66 payment for our fridge that we financed at no interest about 6 months ago at a local home owned furniture and appliance store.  So 2 debts down.Woo-hoo. Not touching our baby emergency fund has been less sunshiney. Why do we spend all of our money? I guess 10 years of reckless spending is a hard habit to break. I will be working diligently  to pump that account back up so we can keep our snowball rolling.
I have worked hard to resolve some unnecessary expenses. Our electric bill was scheduled to draft 10 days early so I called the company to see if something fishy was going on. It wasn't but while she had me on the line the rep cut our rate from 14 cents per KWH to 9 cents; that ended up saving us $110 last month. I stopped our dish network service because they would not give me the new customer rate,which makes no sense because a loyal customer should be valued more than a new one. That's $75 a month. I bought the kids 4 pairs of pants at a consignment store (that I will NOT share the name of because I get $150 jeans there for $25 and don't want anyone else to beat me to 'em) for $31. I have just generally started questioning wants vs needs. Some DR enthusiasts literally eat beans and rice and avoid vacations during baby step two. While I respect their choice, I have not chosen that route. Mostly because I don't want my kids to think they are poor.

Now for some shocking numbers:
  • our monthly debt payments excluding the mortgage:$1329.88
  • our monthly payments(utilities, memberships,etc):$551.05
(these are just bills. does not include flexpenses like fuel, food, clothing, or travel)

The moral of the story is this-if we didn't have debt we could choose to work about 5 months a year and live a very comfortable life. That is what financial peace is about...FREEDOM!

Anybody else ready to put a stake in the ground and say they are DONE with debt?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Soda Smackdown

Over the last 18 months I have created this nice pocket of fat on my stomach and lower back. You can call me Betty.  I am aware that  much of our bodies composition is determined by what we eat(I think it's between 80 and 90%, the remaining part is determined by exercise and genetics). I wish I could just kill it on the treadmill but dietary changes must be made if I want to ever see my abs again.

And no I don't want to hear how tiny I am in comparison to anyone else. This is about MY health and vanity. I wanna take action before I have to replace my wardrobe!

I love soda. It is all I drink. I even look forward to it. Man they are delicious. And the burn. Ah. I love the burn.  I also drink sweet tea at work when my morning Sonic drink becomes watered down.But they are full of sugar and apparently my metabolism has slowed down. I tried to cut back once and was crying by 1:45.True story. I called my aunt next door and she brought me a DP. Don't judge me, it's not heroin. I am only addicted to it like it's heroin.

Drum roll please...........I am cutting out sodas for 10 days to see if the aforementioned pooch takes notice.What do people drink besides soda and sweet tea and water? Also, I probably get most of my energy from the caffeine so I need advice on other ways to maintain my energy level.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

San Antonio Vacation and Associated spending

I know most of you, my sweet readers, are not personal finance blog readers so here is the deal. PF bloggers post their spending and analyse it on their site so this is my attempt at being a real PF blogger.

Our vacation spending looked something like this:
  • food-$280.17
  • hotel-$275.58
  • parking-$32.00
  • activities-$268.43
  • gas-$85.00
  • shopping-$217.21
Food- Would I have liked to spend less on food?Yes,of course. But I did plan on eating out every meal and me being me, I looked forward to it very much. I was disappointed because our hotel did not have a mini fridge in the room so leftovers were not an option. Also I hate shopping before a trip and packing a cooler- I mean it's a vacation. Let's eat some delicious food. Next time I'll probably book a room with a fridge and microwave just so there is less waste. But I stand by eating out as one of my favorite passtimes.Some of our meals included the hard rock, the hotel restaurant, and the Oasis. The kids ate free at the hotel so that was a huge savings-you just can't see the savings because we turned our savings into desert.The Oasis is a little whole in the wall Devin found with the Garmin and we ate breakfast there twice. It was cheap and authentic and we will be back.

Hotel-I had done tons of research to find us a reasonable rate on the riverwalk and finally was able to book El Tropicano for $111.00 a night. It was a nice hotel in a great location. The kids really liked staying somewhere "fancy". The pool lights changed color at night which they enjoyed very much. It was worth the extra to see how much they enjoyed the little luxuries, but I will probably hit up La Quinta for our next outing.

Parking-I hate paying for parking. It just doesn't make sense to small towners like myself. Paying for parking is about as gratifying purchase as hemorrhoid creme. You need it and usually don't have other options but what are you really getting for that money. I did call ahead and ask that our hotel discount our parking and they graciously agreed to let us park for half price. We walked everywhere once we arrived so we didn't have to pay to park anywhere else.

Activities-Ughhh. I cannot justify all of this category. We paid $100 to do three adventures at Ripleys. STUPID. Adventure 1-Guinness Museum, fun for the whole family. Adventure 2-Haunted adventure, stupid and not appropriate for our ubersheltered offspring. Adventure 3-Tomb Rider, a short carnival ride. I should have known better. I had gone on the website beforehand. One hundred dollars worth of shame on me. It would have cost $53 per adult to go into the wax museum. Are these people nuts?  Obviously I am for giving them my hard earned money. Fiesta Texas tickets were purchased a while back for $136 at our local mall. The lines there we short and we enjoyed both parks. That's a lie. I thought the water park water was really nasty but whatever it washed off. Also included in this expense was the riverboat tour for $33. We all had fun except for little man who was hot and zoned out for most of the tour.

Gas-I had been sitting on a hundred dollar bill for a few weeks and sent Devin to get us a Wal-mart gas card the night before. We filled up before we left and stopped once on the way home and ended up with a quarter of tank when we parked at home.  Not too bad for a V8 engine. I am sure all that walking contributed to savings in this area.

Shopping-I need to EVER go out of town without making shopping part of the fun. This category includes Alamo souvenirs($32.32), souvenir pictures from Ripley's($21.52) and four convenience store stops($38.01). Fourteen dollars worth of the convenience store purchases was EmergenC. We had to buy the souvenir photo at Ripley's because the boys pic came out awesome.It looked like a still from an action film the way they were holding their laser guns. I didn't have the heart to tell my daughter that her covering her ears while I closed my eyes was a less than precious moment so we bought both. My son had been looking forward to going to the Disney store as he was in desperate need of more Phineas and Ferb gear. He found an Agent P that converts into Perry and makes sounds. I am pretty sure I told him that would come out of his own money, but at this point I don't remember who paid.

He also needed some Toms shoes to start school. Did I mention this was tax free weekend? The weekend our family usually stays wholed-up at home for the purpose of safety. We went to Whole Foods first. They didn't have kids sizes and referred us to some other natureish place who didn't have his size in the design he wanted. They referred us to a third location; again, they were out of his size. The husband was sick and also sick of Garmin sending him on  this footwear quest. Our last possible store was Neiman Marcus. They did not have the design we picked out online but my boy liked the camo shoe with the orange sole. Sold. Notsofast. Did you know Neimanns doesn't take mastercard(my debit card). "Our accepted tender is Amex,NM card, or check," the quiet saleslady informed me, as if I had a third eye. So I wrote a check, judged their company, and left with our treasure. The daughter had a 40% off coupon for Justice so she and I ran in and spent $104 in about 20 minutes getting her some tops for school. 

Anybody else take a long weekend that cost a zillion dollars?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Trade work

Disclaimer:If you are able and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to earn your degree-DO IT. The numbers don't lie-Education increases income. If you want to go to school and need a degree to make your aspirations a reality-it is possible. That just wasn't my path...

As much as I would have loved to have earned my bachelor's degree, Murphy's law and life choices have left me with a ton of student loan debt and no degree. I used to obsess about and a feel "less than" until about 6 months ago when I just got this huge feeling of peace about my place in life and in this world. There is a saying,"the world needs an a** for every chair." It's intended to make service workers feel better about their chosen occupation, but as I age and grow in my chosen field I finally "get it". I value the young lady who serves me my sonic drink each morning so that I can go dispense meds to a banker and the cycle goes on and we all need each other.

I am a superb pharmacy technician.If there was a pharm tech rodeo-believe I would have all the buckles. My point,aside from glorifying my skill set is this-you can make good money and have a good life without a college education if you work hard and make good choices at appropriate points in your journey.

The secret is finding a TRADE. There are tons of jobs out there that have great hours,flexibility, and pay for those who commit to the industry. Here are a few:
  • Pharmacy technician
  • Automotive technician
  • hair stylist
  • dental assistant
  • plumber
  • electrician
  • restaurant manager
  • retail manager
  • bookkeeper
  • computer technician

Some of these examples are from personal experience and others are from Internet research.

The key to making money at these jobs is being....wait for it......awesome. For every hairstylist I know who is banking-I know a dozen who struggle because they have not built a clientele or put in the hours to build their business. The service industry is full of broke job hoppers chasing money when they could have showed a little loyalty and perseverance and been valued at job A.

An entrepreneurial spirit doesn't hurt either. A plumber who has a reputation for honesty and quality can stop turning wrenches and push paper by the time he is 35 if he makes the right moves at the right time.

My Story
I chose not to return to college the semester after my mom passed away. I was eighteen and frickin lost. I got a retail job based on my killer work ethic at the fast food place I worked in high school. I quickly moved up to an assistant manager position  until the company went bankrupt while I was out on maternity leave at the ripe age of 20! I was desperate for any work I could find to get out of the unemployment line and took a job at a factory,scratch that, sweat shop so that I could afford to buy a birthday gift for my baby daddy(who by the way, just brought me a piece of peanut butter toast-I'm much too excited about this blog and my blood sugar dropped!). My daughter was 4 weeks old when I took this job and my first day was excruciating. It was a sitting job and my body had not recovered from child birth.There was no a/c and everyone else spoke Spanish and ignored me completely. It hurt my little feelings so I took a break, called my ever spoiling father and asked if I quit, would he please make my truck payment next month. He agreed and I left without telling anyone. I have done this twice in my life. The other time was after my 5 hour shift at Burger King when I was 15. My friend Angela came to pick me up. I told the rest of the crew,"look!", pointed to the corner and ran out the back door. I promise when I work anywhere for more than a day I am a quality, dedicated employee.

So I was once again unemployed. I applied everywhere and got several calls for interviews. My ex-step mom said I should apply at Wal-mart Pharmacy. Her sister,whom I had never met, put in a good word for me. I got the interview and met with the person who is still my boss 10 years later.  I got the call and started my work there as a cashier on October 22,2001. I went to orientation at 9 and left at 4. I had to get to the courthouse in time to get married that same day! I was a stellar cashier. I was a speedy, problem solving, customer service wizard. Five months later in March one of the technicians was let go. My boss looks at me and says,"do you wanna be a tech?". I heard,"would you like a $4 per hour raise?" Um yes please. There were two other cashiers who had worked there longer, but I was a much better worker than them. Don't ever think your supervisors are oblivious to your strengths and commitment. I paid the $150 dollar test fee and signed up for the soonest test date. Everyone thought it was too soon and that I would not be prepared but I just saw dollar signs and prayed,alot. I passed,duh.
I worked at Wal-mart for 6 1/2 years after that. I grew up at that job. My mentors there were amazing men and women who I still keep in touch with and love dearly. When my dad died, they brought be a stock pile of Dr. pepper and more fried chicken than my fridge could hold. One manager drove to my house just to give me a hug.

I was courted by a competitor for about three years before I ultimately decided it was my time to move on. My dad taught me not to chase money and greener grass. The Lord's timing is so much better than our own. Had I left the first time I got the itch, I would have not been fully vested in my retirement account there and not gotten to open the pharmacy where I am currently employed. I paid my dues at this company, helped recruit my former boss and could not be happier with my career. My current job description:data entry-new patients, prescriptions, insurance. Troubleshooting-insurance billing issues, sales analysis,recalls.Production-checking typing, filling prescriptions, compounding.Customer service-answering phones, ringing up sales.

Anybody have any other secretly awesome jobs(that don't require a bachelor's degree)  to add to the list?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

30 and spoiled rotten

There have been so many blog worthy events lately that I've had no time to blog.  I do need to give a shout out to all my peeps for making my 30th birthday so special and memorable. I failed to take pics on my camera and don't know how to get the photos on my phone onto blogger so I'm just gonna bulletin point the heck outta this one(as Tina would say) and hope you all get the point of this post: I am 30 and people love me.
  •  Charlotte-lunch at whataburger plus her traditional gift to me-fancy towels(this year 1-orange and 1-brown)Reese's cup inspired.
  • Amy-homemade peanut butter cup pie+sonic gift card!
  • J-brizown,Sierra,Terri, Vickie, and Michele- Reese's eggs, dr pepper, custom cook book
  • Terri-sonic dp
  • Michele-hugest Reese's cups ever. She made a wrapper out of an orange pillow case, lined 2 pie pans with black tissue and filled them with peanut butter chocolate cupcakes+sonic dp
  • Dollie, Tina, and Carson-mini red cooler filled with magazines, dp, Reese's, beef jerkey and lottery tickets
  • Christy- I have no idea, but I cannot wait til it comes in the mail!!!
I had planned this whole profound look back on my life but nonsmoker Misty has a hard time being on the computer for this long so I leave you with this. I was born and 30 years later alot of people who I love gave me sweet treats. Love to you all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My NBA playoff bracket 2011

Here are my picks. It's a nice combination of wishful thinking and logic in terms of teams I favor and teams that have been undenyably solid this year.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eat from home Challenge mid-point update

Our family is at the halfway point of out eat from home challenge and it has been virtually painless. Yay!! With the exception of a peach snowcone purchased by my husband(what was he thinking? I think he forgot), we have not eaten or drank out since April 1st. That is a huge accomlishment for us.
My observations thus far:
  • less trash by at least 50%=just in time for earth day!
  • more dirty dishes
  • +$200 saved, I actually saw the balance on Monday and was shocked to see that we had $200 more than what we usually have at this point in the month
  • I may have lost some belly fat from the somewhat healthier food
  • Sonic hasn't called yet to see if I am alive-which is a little insulting considering how much money I spend there.
I can't believe how easy it has been. It's like I made up my mind and a switch flipped in my brain.Confession: Knowing that I have that extra cash makes it easier to spend in other areas-like art supplies! This defeats the purpose so I may have to have a NO SPEND MONTH  or just deposit our eating out budget directly in to savings on a certain day of each month. I don't want to be deprived of take out treats and have no stack-o-cash to show for it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Eat from home challenge-the rules!

April is here and you know what that means....My Eat from Home Challenge mentioned in my March blog.
The rules are as follows:
  1. no take out
  2. no deli prepared grocery items(This will eliminate the Kroger chicken and sides loophole that already entered my mind)
  3. no eating from the sandwich shop at my work
  4. no Sonic drinks on my way to work
  5. no dining in at sit-down restaurants
I did not start until Saturday because we were out of town on Friday and I knew we would be eating out(turns out we had Arby's for lunch and that was it).  But still that means I have to add a day onto the end of the month. So our family will be living by these rules until May 2nd. At that point we will be used to eating from home and hopefully have broken our take-out habit.

My first temptation was a dinner with two great friends who I rarely see on Saturday evening. I joined them for a short visit but did not order a dish for myself. Misty-1, eating out monster-0!

Anyone brave enough to join me in this challenge?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

living in a material world

I wish this post was about my love for labels and my need to buy expensive handbags and jeans, but that was all squelched 10 years ago when I had my first child. It is so easy to spoil kids these days. We have tried to keep it in check from the get go. We don't buy toys unless it's a holiday and clothes are bought on an as-needed basis. Even still with our daughter being the first grandchild on either side combined with 2 friends who think our children are theirs to spoil, it can be difficult to keep our little angels from becoming little spoiled devils.
I was raised not to ask for things. My dad made good money when I was young but I had shoes from payless and clothes from Sears. When I started working I could buy the labels my teenage heart desired. My parents were both raised poor , plus they were older and very conservative so they just couldn't justify paying for the nikes I thought I needed to fit in. I buy my kids name brand shoes probably just because of this. And truth is they aren't even old enough to care.
It is really important to me that THINGS don't become important to them. And after this year's Christmas I realized they were loosing the appreciation they once had. Mostly my 6 year old son. He has always been hyper appreciative. He would thank you for lunch or a hug as if he had never had them. It was his most endearing quality. But I noticed gifts would get broken within days of being opened and he began constantly asking for things. Where did we go wrong? We literally never buy them anything!

And so when they started asking for an Xbox 360 with a Kinect, I knew this was our chance to teach them the value of things,that they cost money and money had to be earned. Also that in life we give up things to get things because otherwise we are owned by things.
I told them we would purge our home of all "extras" and have a yard sale. Also we would sell our Wii because we don't need 2 gaming systems. My kids have never kept their rooms clean and I take complete responsibility for that. I don't live that way myself and have not instilled that in them(that will be addressed in a future imaginary blog where I start keeping a neat house). My hope was that getting rid of our excess would help them keep their rooms in order.
So I went through our room and all the common rooms and they helped me in their rooms. My son set a goal for himself to get rid of 100 items. He actually easily had 120 items. Not to be out done, my daughter set her goal at 120 items and ended up with 130. YAY. 250 toys we would never have to pick up again. I sold her Barbie items including a year old $150 rv on facebook for $50. It was heart wrenching. She is only 9 and completely over barbies. But they went to a good home and will hopefully be enjoyed. That left us $250 shy of our $300 goal. We earned $148 at our yard sale and sold our Wii for $125. So this weekend I purchased their gaming system with money that they had had earned and given things up for.
I hope this is a step towards raising them to appreciate things and not be owned my them.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Celtics trip 2011

One of my goals this year was to see the Celtics play. One of my other goals was to save money, therefore we had to see them when they were in Texas. I bought the tickets(cheap seats) and planned to leave work early the day of the game. My husband and I never exchange gifts at Christmas so we wanted to take a shopping trip as well. We have been booked every weekend since then so we decided to stay out of town overnight and go shopping with what we would have spent on gifts. I ordered a green baseball style shirt from our local tshirt shop to iron my design on. I bought Devin and green hanes shirt and we both created iron-on with our custom designs. Mine said'"I'm built like this."(pounds chest) Kevin Garnett. That is a quote from my favorite celtic from his days in Minnesota with the Timberwolves. Celtics great Bill Russell asked him about his intensity and drive and he said,"I'm built like this." I found it very profound. Devin put a quote from Pulp Fiction and inserted a photo of KG in Samuel L. Jackson's role. Our shirts looked great and we ordered green NBA sweatbands to match.

I put off booking a room because I was waiting for the best deal. We usually spend alot to stay out of town with the kids. You know, we try to stay in a good area and have to pay for 4 people so it can get costly. When it's just us we usually are just there to sleep so we stay someplace cheap and The day before we left I was thinking how nice a private hot tub would be for my husband's ailing back. He has been in pain for about a month now and he really deserved some relief. So I was ready to spend the extra money for that luxury. Problem was these types of rooms really aren't advertised. None of the online search engines let me plug "in-room hot tub" into the criteria. Luckily with help from a couple of friends who are familiar with the area I was able to book a "honeymoon suite" at a major chain discount hotel . The concept of a honeymoon sweet is hilarious to me because we are so not those people. We don't even celebrate Valentine's day in any romantic way. When we got there I had a good laugh at the heart shaped hot tub(with mirrors all around and even above it!). But Devin ended up fitting 3 good soaks in our short time there so it was very worth it.

We arrived about an hour before the game and immediately enjoyed the camaraderie between all of our friends in green. After we found our seats we grabbed some pizza and soda, and saw the funniest/creepiest looking guy in his late twenties or early thirties. He was thin with a goatee and wore a tie, a pea type coat, and a fedora. The sleeves on his coat where shoved up to his elbow and he sooo looked like a detective from an old movie.We both noticed him and commented on his creep factor. Guess who was sitting in the seat next to Devin......creepy guy! He turned out to be a very interesting and nice guy. Plus he was a Celtic fan! To my right there were 3 middle aged Hispanic women who were lusting over the Spurs for most of the game.

I was so excited to pick out each player and coach. "I am looking at Ray Allen." It's always crazy when you get see someone you admire in person-even if it's from way up high, I still laid eyes on Doc Rivers. So cool. All the fans were well behaved except when Devin told one Celtics fan that yelling "18 banners" was too far. Sorry bro, I was really excited.The score was tied up at the half.For those of you who don't follow the NBA-the Spur have lead their conference all year and are a very solid team. We(the Celtics) have lead our conference up until about a week ago. So it was a competitive game. We usually beat playoff contending teams and lose to the nobodys. This game was no different. WE WON! And thank goodness because that would have been quite the walk of shame in our custom shirts.
We walked out of the arena on top of the world. The camaraderie was out of the closet at this point and high fives between strangers were in order. I heard music from the band they had advertised during the game. We headed toward the good time on a whim. It was totally unlike us but I am soooo glad we stayed. This cover band,Blue Finger Disco, was amazing. I love a good cover band. I mean what's better than knowing all the songs at a concert. They rocked the Blackeyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Kid Rock, Michael Jackson and many other artists' songs. We hung out near the stage singing and dancing and occasionally mingling with our new green cult. It was the most fun time ever. We took a cab back to our suite and hit up the hot tub. Then Devin was hungry and insisted on leaving after midnight to go get the Burger King he spends his life jonesing for.  I tried to convince him to just wait for breakfast but the man was hungry. This isn't my story to tell but I will tell you this:he ended up driving through a military check point AND not having a delicious grilled treat.

This guy did one armed push ups while singing for a considerable amount of time!

Friday morning we drove to the Round Rock outlets to shop. I found jeans at the FIRST store we went to. You ladies know how difficult the search for jeans can be and I was really hard up for some new denim since that is what I wear to work and I haven't shopped for jeans in 3 years. We were not browsing as we both had specific list building for this trip for sometime. I needed jeans, a white button down, several belts, comfy black non-tennis shoes, and sunglasses. I got jeans at Tommy Hilfiger, a white top at NY&co, 2 belts at gap, and sunglasses at Fossil. SCORE. Devin needed a certain color fitness clothes and some new khaki shorts since he has lost so much weight. We found every thing he needed at the nike store for a great price. We picked up clothes for the kiddos at childrens place and got gifts for the family who kept them so we could go on this trip. It was so nice to find everything we needed and to not go off the list. We stayed way under our shopping budget so as soon as we got home I ordered the Tom's shoes I have been eyeing-the gold glitters.
The Celtics were great. The band was great. The shopping was a success. We need those days away from everything like oxygen and now are glad to be back to our kids, jobs, and life in general.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

epic shopping trip #2+eat from home challenge

I mentioned on facebook about 6 weeks ago that I was going shopping for a months worth of groceries because I hate making the menu and list, gathering the coupons, loading the cart, checking out, unloading the cart,  unloading the truck, and unloading the bags. That's right, I hate all of it. Those groceries have finally run out. Well not run out. We still have steaks, chicken cutlets and pork chops, but it is still time to shop again. I spent $360 that day and have gone to the bread store once, pick up milk once and veggies once for a grand total of $400.  It has been great not having to mess with shopping! 

This month I am upping the ante. My goal is not to eat out or pick up take out AT ALL. This goal is super ambitious. I LOVE to eat out. I will get a hankering for something like Skillet's pancakes or a burger from Studebaker's and cannot rest until that need is met. It will be super challenging but I am committed to seeing how this little experiment effects our life and how much money we save.
A lot of people have asked me how I planned for a month and it honestly wasn't that difficult. We always make our grocery list based on meals. Then  we just make sure we have all the ingredients on the list. Now I print a calender for the month and on weekdays put whats for supper that night. Weekends are harder because we are all home for 3 meals. We usually eat a late breakfast, then snack around and have supper.

Here's a helpful tip: Assign each day a theme.
For Example
  • Monday-Italian
  • Tuesday-cold food
  • Wednesday-leftovers
  • Thursday-Mexican
  • Friday-American
Then I just quickly list meals in that category on the calendar.
Example:There are 4 Tuesdays in April
  1. tuna wraps
  2. sandwiches
  3. grilled chicken salad
  4. tuna sandwiches
I am putting this on the web to help me be accountable.I haven't told my husband yet but he prefers to eat at home so I am sure he will be supportive. I am estimating that I eat out about 5 times a week including weekends and that we spend about $400 a month eating out. How often do you/your family eat out?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

wet paint

This post has been a long time coming and promises to be a long read. Bare with me, as I want to share ALL of this experience with you. If you can't handle all the text, just enjoy the photos and lie to me when I ask if you enjoyed my blog.I decided to redo my cabints after a visit to my cousin Les' house. He is always in the midst of some sort of home improvement. I asked a few questions about his cabinet painting experience and decided mine need an update in a bad way! So two days later I hit up the home depot in search of the perfect color. I knew I wanted a brown hue. I was going for the feel of wood but had no intention of staining these old cabinets. They just are not worth the time sanding and refinishing would have required. While on my 30 minute lunch break,I chose a color called leather from their behr premium collection. Chosing a color proved to be very difficult. I ultimately held my top 3 choices next to a true red and chose the one that looked best. MISTAKE. I got out of my truck at work and had the worst case of buyers remorse ever. I knew I had chosen the wrong color. Too much of an orange undertone to be used in such a large area. PANIC. I really didn't wanna pay $33 again for the another color. Was $33 enough  money to make me live in a hideous kitchen? Thankfully we will never know. My sweet new friend, Marilyn, told me they would gladly exchange for the correct color even though it was my mistake. I even called back to make sure she knew my paint lid clearly read "not returnable". Plug-I love Home Depot. They are so helpfuil and welcoming to this new home improver.I chose chocolate swirl for the cabinets.

I took all the doors off  and got started by cleaning, sanding and painting the actual cabinets. This was only my second time to paint. ever. We painted Cameron's room "tink pink" shortly after buying our house 4 years ago.  That took about 3 evenings just working on it when I got home from work and wasn't running the kids around. Throughout the process personal hygiene has been at an all time low. I bathed and washed my hair and thats about it for the last 2 weeks. I thought the kids could parttake by painting the insides of the cabinets, turns out I'm a little too anal and controlling for that sort of family fun. Devin was knee deep in Les Mills Body Pump training so his only contribution was pulling the fridge out from the wall.  Next I painted the doors. Then I chose edgy red,also a behr paint with primer built in. My friend Christy had an awful experience with this paint but I didn't have any issues. I love red and have wanted to paint over the gosh awful off red streaking paint job that was in our dining room when we bought the house. Painting the door and those 2 walls was pretty uneventful. The area above my cabinets was a challenge. I wanted to paint over the wall paper in case we didn't like the red. I figured it would be easier to pull the wall paper down than to try to cover such a vibrant hue. Straight out of the box I had problems with the Frogtape brand paint tape. It would not stick and was very difficult to apply.  Then the wallpaper bubbled. I have left it up there for now. We plan on taking the panels out completely and making shelves above the cabinet.I had to use primer to cover the awful wallpaper. I chose a pint size can of basketry colored paint for the least prominent wall of the kitchen and did all the trim in chocolate swirl. Trim was a little tricky as we have popcorn ceilings. I know everyone hates popcorn ceilings but I don't really mind ours. But the painters tape would not stick so I made another trip to the store for a handy edging tool. It was well worth every cent of the $3 I paid. I ran out of the terrible frogtape at about 11pm one night so I pilaged our shed and found the scotch painters tape from left over from Cameron's room. It had been sitting in a locker under our carport for 3 years and worked perfectly. High five Scotch. Two thumbs down Frogtape! The only good that came out of the frogtape was that the hubs really like the way it looked with the colorscheme so I ended up buying lime colored accents for the kitchen and dining area.  Knobs were another difficult decision. I wanted the $4 glass ones and still think they would have looked great but I just couldn't pay $100 for knobs for a $50 paint job. I regressed to my trademark gold, but remember this is my family's kitchen and ended up getting a great deal on a brushed silver bucket of knobs for $34.I had a really hard time finding a curtain or valance to cover my kitchen's eyesore:the window that is too high to see out of and looking into our beautiful.....carport. I settled on a $9 panel curtain from wal-mart and my darling friends Charlotte helped me hem it to the correct size. Next I wanted to paint the zen tree design I envisioned but could find nowhere.The final image is not exactly what I would have chosen:the dark and twisty girl inside me wanted leafless winter branches but I am happy with the design we made. It's not too sunshiny I hope.My pal Jamie suggested making a freezer paper stencil. Cameron helped me draw the image and my friends Shelly and Bubba let me use their lighted drawing table(used for drawing tattoo images) to exacto cut my stencil. Devin helped me paint the curtain and it was a great final touch to our fab new kitchen.

Total spent:$236.16
This successful project brought to you by:Les,Tiffany,Charlotte,Shelly, Bubba, Marilynn, Jamie, Scotch paint tape, and the Home Depot.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

New look for my kitchen?

I wanted to find a kitchen with a similar color scheme to what I am going for because I couldn't decide how the dark cabinets with red walls would work. So here is and image of my pallet. The cabinets will be a chocolate brown, no stained. Otherwise the wall to cabinet ratio is pretty on. So give me some feedback before I hit up the paint store tomorrow.......

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My thoughts in the Celtics trades...Bad move Danny boy

I am ever so upset right now about something that impacts my life in NO REAL WAY. So I will vent here and move forward.
Today the Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Semi Erden (I am in no mood to google check the spelling of these names so just roll with me),Marquice Daniels, and Luke something.
KP-Danny said Shaq plays better with our starters. News flash my friend:he is old,older than the big three who are seasoned to say the least. We won a championship with KP, we lost a championship when he went out in the finals. He is a heck of a lot younger than Shaq and could have produced for this team for seasons to come. Shaq's days are numbered.The apparent justification is that KP was gonna leave anyway because an extension could not be agreed upon. They should have kept him, got another ring, and let the cards fall where they may. Our vets and the fans deserve that much.
Nate-He's a showboater and takes poor shots when he should pass and never really understood the cadence of the this team. Good ridden and I wish him the best.
Semi- Has been productive during his minutes this season,if you aren't gonna give someone a chance why bring them to our team to begin with.
Marquice- He's hard on the eyes but gels well and plays his role off the bench. He has played a role in many wins this season.
Luke- I like this kid but we have been fortunate enough not to need much from him so I cannot argue either way in his case.Well yes I can- same thing as Erden, why bring them in and not give them a shot at success.

Our Vets are no more pleased with this decision than I am. KP cried and is moving his family as we speak.

I hope I am wrong and we bring home banner 18 but logic(something obviously missing from the Boston front office) tells me my Big 3 and the best coach in the league will miss out on getting another championship before the time comes to hang up those legendary jerseys. Literal tear.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thank me for not smoking

A hundred years ago in 1999 during my first semester of college I smoked my first cigarette. My best friend smoked socially but I was never interested and did not understand the appeal. I cannot really tell you what got into me that day but I can tell you I had just eaten dinner in the dining hall and all my smoker pals were in between the high rises partaking in a nicotine treat and I joined in for some reason. A few weeks later they sat me down for an intervention and showed me how to actually inhale. It was a good time. Smoking was like an accesory. A trend. NOT SOMETHING I INTENDED TO DO AS AN ADULT. My friend and I would come home and go drive around so we could smoke. Eventually my dad found out a pulled the ash tray out of my truck in disgust. I quit twice. But here I am 11 years later, 29 years old still a smoker. I am like a nicotine after school special. And let me be honest-it is a drug. I'm sure all drugs are fun at first. It really is awful once you need a substance. Imagine being hungry but knowing that eating is wrong. Having an itch and a 5 fingernails you cannot scratch it with. That's the closest I can get to expaining my addiction experience. I quit by using chantix in 2009 from January 26 through April 28 and the most stressful workday of my life knocked me off the wagon.
I finally decided to quit randomly on a Wednesday(my dad's birthday) after seeing a smoker's lungs from the bodies exibit compared to that of a nonsmoker. No smoker had ever complained to me about lung or chest pain, but my lungs hurt often. And I feel constant fatigue. Now it doesn't make much sense to continue doing that to myself so that day I finished my pack without fanfair and intended to be done. Then as part of the closing of the chapter I went outside to pick up some empty packs and clean up my smoking area. Dog-gone-it. I found a pack from the day before with 3 more cigarettes in it. And like any addict I smoked those suckers. I woke up the next day and drove straight to work. I did not stop and get cigarettes. And thus-I stopped smoking. I prayed for this for my entire adult life and continue to pray that God will keep me strong.  Other than praying away the withdrawals and cravings I also eat sunflower seat to satisfy the oral fixation.
I realize most of you understand the advantages of my quitting but humor me while I list them.
  • become a better role model
  • feel better
  • look better
  • save cash
  • enjoy more free time
Obviously I do not wanna raise smokers and do not want my kids' friends to put me in the trashy smoker mom box. That's gross. Also my lungs don't hurt anymore and I already have more athletic endurance. Those smoker lines around my mouth will surely fade over time as will the yellow on my teeth. It's logical that receiving more oxygen is great for all my body systems including skin and hair. In the interest of honesty I will confess to spending about $5 per day on a pack of cigarettes. That is $150 per month. Now I get to save or BLOW that money. It's my "I stopped smoking fund." Timewise, I was smoking for about 140 minutes a day.

Now for what I will miss:
  • the thrill of the first puff of the day, after work, after a meal-yum
  • smoking while talking on the phone-one of my fave pass times
  • getting out of this house with these loud heathens for 7 minutes at a time
  • not eating everything I can reach
  • the social smoking with my two best smoker pals
I do love it. I feel like I am speaking of my mistress. It was time to end that relationship and move on. This major life change has opened some doors already. I have been spending my time organizing my kitchen(it's better than way since nonsmoker Misty eats. A lot.). I find it easier to spend that $150 per month on me. I would never have done that before. Ever. The biggest adjustment is falling asleep. It's really hard. I probably don't require as much sleep now but when I lay down I just lay there for hours. Hopefully that will subside sooner than later.I am on day 23 and am told that it takes 21 days to form a habit.

And so you're welcome.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I have tried not to make this blog all about my life as a mom. I don't view myself as just someone's mom. While it is a huge accomplishment to have kept them alive and out of juvy for this long, it is not where my ENTIRE identity lies. That said. MY KIDS ACTIVITIES HAVE TAKEN OVER MY LIFE. I am pretty sure my inner circle is sick of hearing about it so here I sit venting on the world wide web.

I just read 2 articles in 2 different women's magazines about knowing how and when to say "no". I doubt there has ever been an article of this sort in a men's magazine! My kids certainly do not get everything they want but apparently extracurriculars are my weakness. They are are at ages where they are still finding their niches. I want to offer them a little bit of it all. I would hate to think they could have excelled or enjoyed something if only I had given them the opportunity. This theory has produced chaos that looks something like this.

  • Every other Sunday 3-4:30 Girl Scouts
  • Monday Dance 6-7,Boy Scouts 6:30-7:30
  • Tuesday Son's Basketball Practice 5:30-6:30,Every 4th BS Pack meeting 6:30-7:30, Pips performance 6:30
  • Wednesday Pips 3:30-5:00
  • Thursday Daughter Basketball 6:30-7:30
  • Friday Son Basketball 5:30-6:30
  • Saturday 3 Basketball games 9-2
As I type this it doesn't look that bad but I co-lead  girl scouts and assist the basketball coach for daughter's team. I am ashamed of myself for getting into this situation. The next 6 weeks will be trying while we finish basketball and cookie sales. It is the perfect storm for the nervous breakdown I have been plotting since my daughter's birth 9 1/2 years ago.

It all kind of snowballed into the current schedule.This is our first(and last) year of girl scouting. No one at the parent meeting would volunteer so my friend and I volunteered. SUCKERS.Cameron is on her 4th year of dance. We chose dance in kindergarten as her first activity because it's fun and noncompetitive. We lucked into a very skilled instructor who doesn't taking the art too seriously. Last year the teacher didn't offer classes in our area which was good because my little ballerina was a little burned out. But we are back at the same studio and Cameron enjoys dance so much.  It is also our first year on boy scouts and aside from the schedule conflicts it causes it is really not much of a pain even though they meet weekly throughout the school year. My husband takes him when he is not out of town for training.This is my son's second year of PIPS and it's not too bad because they stay after school and just have to be picked up at 5. Having his practice uniform clean every week is not so easy. The performances cause a huge conflict with his bball practice and pack meetings.This is his first year in basketball. Cameron has played bball for 3 years and it is my favorite of all our stuff. I love to go and yell like an idiot at the games. Plus it is inexpensive and only lasts for 6 weeks.

Aside from these activities we have tried gymnastics for both. They liked it but it is really expensive and they wanted to try other things. My son did t-ball last year and it was a big fat dud. We have avoided doing soccer even though they both ask every year. Last year we were 4H members but never had time to put a project together.

If you have children you know that leaving the house to go do ANYTHING is like getting a bill passed through congress. You have to make sure everyone has matching socks(lol) and the necessary accoutrement for whatever activity is on the agenda. Add in an unoccupied sibling and you have to gather the book, video game, or homework they will need to be stimulated during brother or sister's activity.No matter what you bring it really only keeps them out of your hair for about 15 minutes.

Next year per a family agreement, we will be dropping pips and girl scouts. So that means a maximum total of 4 things at a time and that will only be in January and February:basketball for both+dance+boy scouts.Sigh. I have learned that being overbooked just makes me wish my life away. Right now I am wishing for March when I can spend some time at home without my mind racing, thinking about everything I should be doing or can do tomorrow. Until then-like a true addict-I am just taking it one day at a time....

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pill Head Review

I just finished reading a book my former Jane magazine editor Joshua Lyon. Pill Head is a nonfictional account of his addiction to prescription painkillers. He also interjects the stories of several other addicts throughout as well as his research on the topic and interviews with experts. I happened upon this book at the public library. It was right up my ally because of the line of work I do and my love for nonfiction. I just love a memoir.

I immediately loved his writing style a knew it would be a two day, don't do anything unnecessary until I'm finished book. If you ever read Jane magazine you know what I had gotten myself into as far a adult imagery and themes. I bought the magazine once back when I had time for fashion, but could not read it because the language was way too liberal for my taste. Once I got two pages in and read about his career there I braced myself for 270 pages of questionable morality. Consider this your disclaimer.

He went right into the onset of his addiction. He was assigned to research online pharmacies. There was an epidemic of closed door Internet pharmacies who worked with irresponsible prescribers to dole out narcotics to our pill obsessed nation. This was in the early 2000's. I remember the ads all over magazines, TV, and the Internet. He easily got registered with one of the pharmacies and was prescribed some benzos and Vicodin. The only question the doctor had when he called was, "how many?".  When he received the Vicodin he immediately took 3 tablets. Then he went into the "bubble" he would remain in for years. Instant addiction. He discusses the warm feeling that overcame his body upon his first experience with pain killers. Americans are addicted to all types of medications but his focus is painkillers. He recalls that he liked them because contrary to the hangover effects of alcohol and cocaine, he would feel absolutely fine when he came down from his "bubble". He speaks of isolation and how taking the pills made him feel socially comfortable. Apparently in his world drug use is rampant and binge drinking and doing acid or cocaine socially is just par for the course. He was functionally addicted. He maintained employment and relationships throughout his drug abuse. His tolerance became so high that when his appendix ruptured and they attached the morphine drip, the opiate did not even touch the pain.

He describes his experience "scoring" pills on the street and networking to keep a steady supply after the government cracked down on the Internet pharmacy industry. I didn't know benzos(xanax for example) are just currency for painkiller addicts. They are prescribed legit scripts for benzos and then upchange the tablets for painkillers with other addicts who prefer benzos. The author describes going the the DEA in Washington D.C. to research the policies and what is being done to help addicts and generally prevent addiction.Prescription drug abuse in the new meth in most parts of our country. He talks about the stigma that street drugs have and the safety abusers feel using something manufactured in a legit setting and given by a physician. Ultimately he completes rehab and continues to work on his sobriety.

My Take
With the work I do, I see and speak with prescription drug addicts on a daily basis. It just comes with the territory. We have the time to monitor patients and refuse to give refills before they are due. I concede that there is only so much we can do. The will of an addict is strong. In this book I learned about prescription monitoring programs which are a valuable tool for health care providers. They are mandated by state government and operating in about 30 states. They track controlled substances prescriptions and provide a history for doctors and pharmacies. It is within the HIPAA laws because everyone who has access to the information has the right based on the HIPAA act anyway.This is a responsible health care providers dream. Sometimes we have to call eight pharmacies to make sure a known abuser has not received the given drug we are dispensing within a reasonable time frame. I contacted the administer of the Texas program and learned that our program is not online yet which was disappointing because this resource will be so valuable when we can access it.The last thing I want is my name on a prescription that kills someone or ends up on the streets in the hands of a reckless teenager.

He discussed detox and medicines that help fend off opiate receptors in the brain. This was probably the most interesting and new information I learned from the book. Based on his research, he endorses Suboxone. He also brought to light an issue that I had never considered that is not exclusive to rx addiction. When these addicts are being treated prescribers are giving them drugs "off the label". This means prescribing the medicine to treat something it is not FDA approved to treat. Just like aspirin relieves pain but also can assist your cardiac system, some prescription drugs have duel uses. However if the FDA has not approved the drug for the alternative purpose, the outcome can be adverse. This had never occurred to me because I rarely know what the drugs I dispense are treating. Often I learned anti psychotics are used to treat mood and depression. Or sleep medication used for anxiety.

The most off putting issue for me was his resistance of God in the rehabilitation process.It was a non issue to him and isn't really addressed at length. I guess I am used to living in a world of believers and he was raised in a world of nonbelievers. It makes sense now when I think about how easy it would be to go down a self destructive path if not for our faith. I mean this guy talks about doing cocaine with the casualty of drinking a soda.He lacked the foundation to make good choices about his health and soul. He also experienced those feeling of loneliness because he did not have the comfort of knowing there was something more than this life.  I have a feeling people who believe in God or even another spiritual ententity are much easier to rehabilitate. He mentions being sexually abused two times but does not speak about it very specifically or even relate it to his addiction. I hope that he will resolve these issues as he gets further into the 12 steps.

Final review: Good read, very educational. (even if there were parts that made me blush and pray no one was reading over my shoulder)