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Archive for December, 2014

Merry Christmas

December 25th, 2014 at 12:53 am

Half the celebrations are done, but we went to Mass and gift exchanged with my family. Tomorrow we host the meal and people come dressed in comfy clothes. From mine to yours. Happy holidays (we've got an extra this year) Smile


Merry Christmas!!

December 24th, 2014 at 03:56 pm


Wishing all my SA family a very Merry Christmas! I am thankful to be part of this little corner of the world where I am cheered on, propped up, and propelled forward.

This has been a year of uncertainty, and while our situation now has certainty, I am looking forward to embracing the future.

Thank you all. And Merry Christmas!!

Yes, I have it. And I don't want it ...

December 23rd, 2014 at 02:34 am


Well, today was a wash. Some things got done, the most important being a celebration for younger daughter's birthday that is today. Dinner ended up being orange chicken and egg rolls from Panda Express, and store-bought cupcakes from Jewel.

With some of us under the weather last night, we had Grandma over to watch "Saving Mr. Banks" and tonight birthday girl wants to watch "Frozen". This will be my first time watching it, and I feel rather thrilled to be joining a club of sorts. I know the songs, but other than that ... not much.

Tomorrow's to do list is short, and I should be able to accomplish it in a prolonged energy burst of 45 minutes or so.

I've medicated myself with daytime flu and cold stuff and it works for about 2.5 hours - not the four.

Confession: My family didn't send out Christmas cards this year. I might aim for New Years if I can pull something together picture-wise. Older daughter put together Elves of us at OM. I feel a bit saddened by it, having concluded that run now being OD. And an OM store in my area is closing. Well, we're ushering in a new era. Lots of changes on the horizon.

I'm tired of thinking of it. So I am off. To watch "Frozen" and most likely fall asleep.

Hope all is well with all of you, and you are finding Christmas cheer.

Alas, I think I've got it ...

December 22nd, 2014 at 03:53 pm


we had our flu shots back in October, but I've got the aches and pains, a raw throat, and a sinus headache. And it I have a million things to do today.

It is one daughter's birthday and I'd like to pull something together for a little celebration. And I've got to take care of delivering the signed paperwork to the council office for the cub scout charter.

Oh, I had hoped this wouldn't happen ... and I might of jinxed myself ... no on to cry to cause my mom is still down ...

Slightly overwhelmed, but it will be fine ... I think ...

December 21st, 2014 at 03:49 pm


My mom is pretty sick with something and is heading to the urgent care clinic. I hope antibiotics make a difference, she's been down for four days.

My 94-year grandmother is convinced she will get sick if she eats anything in a house with germs. Not good since she lost 12 pounds over the past several months (reason why she's staying between my mom in IL and uncle in CA). I don't there is much I can do to combat that thinking, except for maybe bringing take-out? A sack of burgers from White Castle or Arbys?

We're braving the mall for shopping for our Advent Buddies. We're trying to work this around watching the Bears game. And they decided to bench Cutler after some mega-deal; had an interesting convo about mismanagement of funds in that decision.

My mother can't host Christmas Eve being sick with a small house. My brother just hosted a family dinner last night and I've got Christmas Day. I left a message for my brother that I'll do Christmas Eve AFTER Mass. Before won't work for me since DH is working. And I'm going to make a pan of baked ziti, buy a bottle of two or wine, green salad and garlic bread. And I'm not using my China. I'll buy holiday Chinet.

It feels a bit overwhelmed, but in managing my own brood, I've concluded that other people take their cues from someone. If I am calm and insist that this isn't a big deal, it isn't. Right?

My best friend is also having some relational issues with her new boyfriend. Oh, their romance is fine, but he's the parent of five children, one seriously ill - like residing a residential psychiatric clinic. If best friend thinks its bad now, I had to tell her just wait until this poor girl is reintegrated in the changing fabric of her family. Makes me a bit tired, but I listened and talked for 1 hour and 45 minutes last night.

Ok, time to adjust the game plan and make it all work.

Phew ...

I am so nosey! What's your Christmas menu look like?

December 19th, 2014 at 06:25 pm


I spent some time today looking at recipes for Christmas Brunch/Lunch/Dinner which I regularly host. This year for a group of 15 plus one or two. I've moved up the meal from 4 to 12:30 and this is what I am serving:

1) Spiral cut ham
2) Hashbrown potato casserole
3) Green bean casserole
4) Cornbread casserole
5) Raspberry/pineapple jello mold
6) Cinnamon roll casserole
7) Peppermint bark (that I make every Christmas morning with older daughter - tradition going on year 4)
8) Cranberry orange muffins

My MIL brings a shrimp salad, my mother brings bread pudding, and my brother brings wine. I don't know if his fiancée will bring anything, but that will be gravy.

Spending has been willy-nilly all over the board and I got bored tracking. I am starting today because this is the last payday in December. It was $135 short and I believe that is the 401K that I upped to 6% but thought it was being taken after 1/16 (suspended due to switch over, but apparently not really suspended).

I spent $133 at Aldi's on groceries for the week plus Christmas dinner. $17 was a ham and $4 was on a Secret Santa gift that younger daughter forgot about (a set of snowman mugs). I also filled up the gas tank for $40. This weekend and upcoming week we are eating light (lots of salad/sandwiches/and soup in the crockpot).

So, you've had a glimpse at what I'll be serving. How 'bout you?!

Found my Christmas Cheer

December 17th, 2014 at 06:24 pm


Really hadn't gone very far, just needed to look for it. I had a two hour window of time to myself, after returning from my leg of driving this AM.

I managed to get a load of laundry folded and put away, plus another one washed. Loaded the dishwasher and straightened up the general mess. And I put on Christmas music and the tree lights.

And since I picked older daughter up after a morning of finals, we stopped by my mom's for a snack with Grandma - starbucks hot chocolate and Trader Joe mint chocolate star cookies. And daughter and I then went past the grade school to see the little brothers at lunch and some other teachers. Daughter was a very good big buddy to several little girls over the years at the school and they all sort of clamored to see her. And then we stopped by to see the staff at the parish center (two of our favorites). I got some cookies and an annual cookbook.

Now I have time for a nap before picking up younger daughter. And dinner is leftovers.

So, the crash of the morning wave has passed. And I'm going to start working on Christmas dinner menu and meal plan. All good.

'Tis the season to be jolly ...

December 17th, 2014 at 02:27 pm


But not at my house this morning. No smooth sailing like usual - rather a tsunami.

Sick people hacking and coughing. Tired and cranky people who have to go to school and have finals. And forgotten paperwork and other, other stuff.

And the fickleness of people who change their minds. (Not in my house directly, but someone else's house) and volunteer work that isn't going well (for either husband or myself).

And ... sorry to vent ... and dump ... I'd better go and look for my Christmas Cheer because it went missing.

Just inconsequential stuff in the grand scheme ...

December 12th, 2014 at 02:38 pm


but mentionable nonetheless ...

1) Sold electric skillet (NIB) for $25. I posted it on a group in FB that one of my friends happens to belong to, and she's taking it. Smile

2) Mailed in rebate for $5 on a car engine product

3) Did well with no prepackaged snacks for the week; did quite a bit of baking using mostly from the stocked pantry, but need more vanilla and chips (chocolate and peanut butter)

4) My 94 year old grandmother arrived from California yesterday (to blustery IL). She's still spry, mentally alert and good spirits. Living with my uncle and aunt was a bit too constrictive (with hovering). She's moved in with my mom and stepdad. I went over with oldest son and we decorated with streamers (his idea). Looking forward to quality time as a family.

5) Fun weekend ahead! Caroling at the retirement home tonight with the Cub Scouts, tomorrow wrapping party with the kids followed by "Christmas Story" and lunch at Buca di Bepos, and then Sunday is the birthday party for the girls (nov/dec birthdays).

6) Money is leaving in small controlled portions.

Fuel Efficiency - What a concept!

December 11th, 2014 at 01:51 pm


I've come to conclusion that in order to function best, I was ignoring simple things like: knowing when I'm most productive during the day, have a to do list of everything doesn't mean that it all needs to be done, there are capable people who live in my household, and there are family members who can help out. Same concept with money: knowing what needs to be done, what you want to be done, and what needs to happen based on those.

I've had several days of productivity: all involving a list and also delegating to the kids. Confession: I used to care what my gift-wrapped packages looked like. Maybe not to the point of color-coordinated gift wrap and bows, but something close. This year on Saturday morning we are having a gift wrapping party and the kids are wrapping the grandparents/extended family gifts. AND we're using up the gift wrap stash of oddities. I already replenished the tape, got the scissors and we'll crank the Christmas CD.

And in years' past we've spent a lot of money on one particular outing, at Drury Lane to see "A Christmas Carol" and do a brunch with Santa. This year, for a change and to save some money, we're going to a local theatre's production of "A Christmas Story" and then doing a luncheon at Buca di Bepos. We've got a coupon and gift card and my parents are coming, so they'll most likely pick up the tab for the remainder.

So sometimes changing up the plan does allow for maximum efficiency. And far less stress. I have a list of 18 items to do/buy on my list today. At least half will easily be done, and I'm off to deal with the most time pressing right now.

BTW, I am inspired by my organized friend, who I send a whole-hearted "thank you" to!! You make it look all so simple. I've always had a way of making things more complicated. I feel like I've been my own worst enemy and hurdle. And with that realization it is easier to forge (happily) ahead.

Closing the Chapter on the Italian

December 10th, 2014 at 07:39 pm


Anyone recall the foreign exchange student we (briefly) hosted from Italy? Back in August at the beginning of the school year? The one that lasted four weeks. And ultimately requested a transfer because we were too chaotic of a household (we really weren't tolerant of underage smoking - albeit outside, or underage drinking - albeit at other high schoolers' houses (but poor unsmart girl posted to Instagram), and then the matter of the 20+ year old boyfriend who was coming from Italy and she expected him to either 1) be able to stay at my home, or 2) that she be able to stay with him at a hotel?

She ended up going to another family who was far stricter than we were. She had to adhere to a 10:30 curfew (we were at least midnight), and she was expected to attend Mass at least weekly, and the host family told her that she couldn't date the senior wrestler (she ultimately broke up with the Italian boyfriend to date Americans) more than once on the weekend. There was a huge argument between the foreign exchange student's parents who essentially challenged the authority of the host parents, drama, drama, drama.

Anyhow, turns out she requested a return to us twice. And she was sorry she left in the first place. Nonsense. Anyhow, I learned about the second request to return to us from the principal.

We are receiving a stipend payment in the amount of $400 (of the $1600) to be credited to our tuition account. So we close the chapter on the Italian who is going home on the 20th. My, what a crazy ride it *could* have been!!

December Goals

December 8th, 2014 at 04:54 pm


OK. To "think" like a goal-oriented person, here are the money plans for December's remaining funds. I am still hashing out the relationships between money plans/goals. They are inter-related in my mind. Does money plan = budget?

1) To make January's mortgage payment by month's end
(Guaranteed $ in: $2,000 + Probably $ in: $1,450)

2) To make additional $200 contributions to annuity

3) Remainder of Christmas in cash

4) Additional $500 to savings


Rudderless

December 8th, 2014 at 02:21 pm

The goals update posts make me a bit sad. I would like to have been a member of the "I've set a goal and accomplished it" Club. But, alas, another failed year. I imagine that having been in "OMG, we're gonna be unemployed and when what ... ??" mode zapped a lot of energy when all I wanted to do was survive.

Well, that has passed and DH has secure employment. So, we move onto the next step. Right?

[Insert Tangent]

I was a big fan of the band The Lemonheads in the 90s. One of my favorite songs was Rudderless, and I am humming it now to myself - especially the refrain "I'm like a ship without a rudder ... a ship without a rudder ..."

[Tangent over]

So it is time to come up with some plans that are concrete. Sort of overwhelmed by it. But definitely having a motivation to start small and end big.

ETA: First small step (proactive)

1) Just increased 401K contribution for DH from 2% to 6%. We had decreased it pending unemployment. 6% is the cap of employer-matching. Due to the switching over of systems from the merger, this will go into effect the paycheck of 1/16/15, but at least it is in place.

2) Discussed with our friendly tax man the adoption credit briefly. Save receipts is what I was told. Smile

Santa Shopping Complete and Making Progress

December 6th, 2014 at 10:49 pm


Firstly, thanks for the responses to yesterday's dump post. If I could have found anything therapeutic with a "silent scream" I would have. It was nice to vent. And it was nice to have DH sort of laugh when I shared most of my gripes (even including MIL). His favorite go to saying is: "Others should weed their own gardens before worrying about my dandelions. But then again, I could be harvesting those leaves for wine!" Smile

On to regularly scheduled post:

The kids are getting one item from Santa this year. One thing that they really wanted. Here is the list:

1) Pair of headphones - beats by Dr. Dre - got a great deal on groupon for $142 (could have spent $199)
2) Nintendo 3DS XL - got for $169 at Target when on sale and used additional coupons (could have spent $199)
3) One Sphero RC with cover - $129 (not sure what I could have spent)
4) One Nikon Coolpix camera - spent $184.xx on Thanksgiving (could have spent $300 and got free photo card)
5) One Michael Korrs large carryall bag - paid $150, could have spent $230 if I believe the price that TJ Maxx says other stores would have charged me.

DH and I are giving them a small basket filled with trinkets and doodads; Hershey kisses, pair of socks, pair of mittens, and then one item at the $25. So far I have spent $20 on a game for the Nintendo, will use the data card that came with camera, a $15 bottle of perfume from Juicy Couture, and a Marvel hero character watch.

DH is getting the Magic Bullet (that I used $50 Kohls cash, and then paid OOP $19) and a sweater I found a zippered pullover at Sam's Club for $14.81.

I'm feeling very happy with what I've spent (cash for most of it, except camera and Michael Korrs bag - trying for those Chase Sapphire Reward Points). I know that these are things that will be appreciated an used, and there won't be a pile of things that held interest for 14 minutes and then that was it.

How are you doing with your shopping?

Our most priceless Christmas item is ...

December 2nd, 2014 at 02:17 pm

straw, or hay.

I was giving some thought to sentimental things handed down through generations. The only thing we have is a baggy full of hay.

I should add that this is valued by all of my children and is a staple in our Nativity set.

This is hay that my great-grandmother brought with her when she left the village in the old country (Hungary). It was 1922, and she was 22 years old and she was joining her husband in Chicago. She was travelling alone with her two year old (my grandmother) and six month old daughters. Though her husband worked extra long and hard so he could send enough money for her to not to have to travel third-class steerage, so she had her own private room.

Anyhow, she decided to bring some hay from her homeland with her. It lived in her drawer for many years and I don't know when it managed to make its way to a manger, but it has.

And every year we reverently put it out with the sheep and oxen. And we remember the grandma who came to America.

I share this only because it seems like such the opposite of a friend's family who is fighting about
"Grandma's Lladro Nativity" set - because it can't exactly be split up, and no one trusts each other enough to share and let it travel throughout the family members from year-to-year.