Wednesday, July 31, 2013

And What A Weekend It Was!

My 25 Year Class Reunion was last weekend. I had such a fabulous time! A lot of the people there, I've been able to catch up with on facebook and subsequent girls nights out (and girls and guys nights out, too!). It was so fun though to have so many people that at one time meant a great deal to me in one place! I loved laughing at the old jokes and old memories. And made some new ones too!

The weekend didn't end up being the budget buster I was expecting --- splitting food, sharing rides and such helped out a great deal. Even if it had though -- -it would have been worth it!

The picture above was taken at LightRails -- its a very recent art light installation in a 1931 underpass connecting two areas of Birmingham that are both going through an Urban Revitalization. It was right around the corner from where we were, so a stop off at it was a MUST. I borrowed the hula hoop from the very young couple behind me --- who I'm sure were thinking we were terribly ancient to be out there posing for pics and borrowing hula hoops from random strangers!

Oh, and apparently I am now TERRIBLE at the Hula Hoop! Its okay though, it was fun to make an idiot of myself!

Friday, July 26, 2013

It Has Been 25 Years....

I graduated from high school in 1988..... it really does not seem like that long. This weekend we have our 25 Year Class Reunion. This one won't be as big or as formal as our 20th was, or our 30th will be. We are holding rather informal events this year, Friday and Saturday nights. I'm really looking forward to it. As a result of the 20th reunion, and facebook, I've rekindled some old friendships and made some new ones with people I wasn't particularly friendly with back in the day. I'm glad I am now.

Some of the people I've become friends with live in town, and some out of town, and in the past few years we've gone through a lot together --- graduations, divorces, debt journeys, job losses, moves, even a few grandchildren have been added to the mix (but I still consider myself too young to be a grandparent -- even if some of my friends are -- ha!). Several of those that live out of town are making the journey "home" for it. I can't wait to see them!

I'll have to be careful this weekend as all events will involve places where spending can get out of control. No sense in going crazy and putting too much additional strain on the budget. Still, I'm excited about the weekend --- looks to be a fun one! Any good plans for your weekend?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I Have to Wonder....

Last night, right before I went to bed I heard the sad news of the death of a former school mate. This particular guy had been two years ahead of me in school, but was one of those people everybody knew. Outgoing, athletic, popular back in the day. Swiftly following the news of his passing, came the cause, suicide. Sadly, this is not the first suicide out of this particular group of guys I went to school with. Another one did the same thing about a year ago.

I just can't quite wrap my head around it. It makes me sad. I won't say that I was every extremely close to him, but we were friendly and I always enjoyed being around him back then. He was so damn funny! Just one of those people that seemed to have no pretensions whatsoever. I'd seen him many times during the past 25 years as his sister was a neighbor of mine and we each had a child at the same school. I always enjoyed seeing him and doing the catch-up thing.

It occurred to me this morning that we are now at midlife I suppose. Maybe sometimes things just get overwhelming and there seems like no way out and people just can't deal with their lives not being the way they pictured. I don't know, I'm just speculating. Or thinking out loud. But as I watched the outpouring of grief and sorrow on facebook from the people he knew, silly memories, fun memories, poignant ones, I had to wonder if someone would do this if they realized just how much people cared. How very heartsick the loss of this funny outgoing man makes others. I have to wonder if something might have changed, if only he knew.

So, I'm going to promise myself to be sure I tell people when they pop in my head unexpectedly and the memory makes me smile. I want people to know that they matter to me. I'm going to do a better job of that going forward.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Well, Hello There Murphy!

As many of you know, my car is 13 years old. It's a 2000 RAV4, and beyond the scheduled maintenance stuff (oil changes, brakes, alternator, batteries) it has been relatively trouble free. The only really big issue I had with it was when a tree fell on it..... and I can't really blame the car for that!But it is 13 --- and as such, problems are bound to start happening. And they have.

Yesterday, when I pulled up to the house, I went to raise the drivers side window. Nothing. Nada. It didn't budge more than a couple centimeters and then stopped. Completely. It wouldn't go. Crap. More rain was coming. I don't even have a driveway, much less a garage to park the in. I tried it again. Another centimeter at most. So, instead of getting out of the car, I put it back in gear, and headed straight to my mechanic. His immediate reaction was "Damn. This isn't going to be cheap." I asked how much and he said that it would run about $250, as the motor is likely shot and the door would have to be opened up so I might want to think about it. But in the meantime, we'd at least get the window up so it wouldn't rain into the car or tempt someone to helping themselves to my stereo. So, after letting the motor reset several times and him guiding it up, we got the window up and secure. He then put a big piece of black duct tape (or whatever kind of tape mechanics use) over the controls so I wouldn't accidentally roll it back down.

Now, I'm certain that most people can live without their windows working. I am not one of those people. For around town driving, I generally have my windows down, even in the summer with the AC blasting. To and from work, the windows down, AC going and music blaring is a good psychological transition for me from home to work and vice versa.

I am not happy about this latest development. Not at all. So, coming off a month that featured paying off my debt, the Princess's birthday, increased vet costs...... now I need to get a repair done. Joy joy joy. The only silver lining I see to this is that it will keep me out of drive through lanes!

Hello Murphy..... would love to see you go back right now to wherever it is you came from. Ugh.

Monday, July 22, 2013

She's A Huntress

Thing 2 is a Weimaraner. Weims were originally bred to be hunting dogs. While Thing 2 has never had any formal training, I've seen this aspect of her many times. She stalks squirrels and birds, snakes and lizards, bumblebees and mice. On our walks she crouches down when she sees a cat to assess the situation.... then tries to go after it. I have to pay special attention and hold the leash securely on every walk as she see those as an opportunity to go after critters. Fortunately, she has never caught one.... until now.

Last night, between rainstorms, I let Thing 1 and Thing 2 out to do their business. Thing 1 did his thing and came right back up the stairs. Thing 2, however, got interested in something along the fence. I know that means there's likely a critter, so I started calling to her. She started in my direction, but then abruptly turned back an jumped into the rosemary bush in the corner. I called her again and she came running. But she had something in her mouth. YIKES! I yelled at her to drop it, and she obliged... right at the base of the stairs. There was enough light for me to see what it was. A POSSUM. An honest to goodness baby possum. I squealed again. And she just looks at me with her tail wagging... and the possum skitters under the stairs.

My neighbor poked his head out of his kitchen window to see if everything was okay because he heard my squeals. Everything was okay now, except the possum was between me and Thing 2, and I didn't want her to go after it again and get bit, nor did I want to get bit! So he called her over to the fence, giving me a chance to go down the other set of stairs to direct her up those. I got her inside and checked for bites and blood --- of which there were none.

I went back outside a bit later with a flashlight to see if it was still under the stairs, but I couldn't find any sign of it. Thing 2 is up to date on her shots, so I'm not overly concerned, but I will give the vet a call this morning just to be on the safe side.

So, that was my Sunday night adventure! How was YOUR weekend?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Princess!!!!!

Today the Princess turns 19. In Alabama, that means she is legally an adult. She can now sign her own contracts and stuff like that. Of course she doesn't have any contracts to sign. The main thing we had to do was close out her minor savings account at one bank and put that money into her savings account at another bank (her minor account was going to change over to a regular account with a fee if we didn't).

 Our festivities will be pretty low-key. Last night she had a group of friends over to hang out. I was going to pick up a cake for her, she had mentioned wanting a cookie cake, but at $33 from the Great American Cookie Company, that was just not going to happen!

However, I went by Sam's on my lunch break. I was going to pick up a small cake because I just did not have time to make one myself. And there in the bakery section, was a double decker cookie cake for $16.48! I looked at the other cakes and they were about $15, so for about $1.50 more, I could get her exactly what she wanted --- and a double decker to boot --- for about half the price of the Cookie Company single layer. So, obviously I got her exactly what she wanted -- and she was tickled pink!

Today will consist of getting our hair done, followed by a trip to the movies to see Monsters University (we are both Disney hounds), and then going out to dinner at a yet to be decided Italian restaurant. Her favorite Italian place closed down last year, so we aren't sure yet. The dinner and movie order may be switched depending on how long the hair takes, how hungry we are and showtimes.

So, that's our day ---- although I get to start it off with cutting the grass before the temp reaches the 8th level of Hades.

Y'all have a fabulous day!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Guess What?!?!!?!? I'm Debt Free!!!!!

This week, I paid of the remaining $1600 and change to my last credit card. It is done. Finished. Finito. The End. I am completely out of debt. I am so excited about this! After years of struggling and not being sure I could get it done -- and missing my original payoff goal of April 2012, it is finally done. I paid my standard $500 per month, then used most of my regular savings account balance to wipe the rest out.

It kind of feels weird... as in what do I do now? One of my friends told me that I should do something big and fun to celebrate! That sounds great, but blowing a ton of money just seems wrong. I thought about it long and hard, and I think my celebration will be to get my and the Princess's hair professionally cut and colored and our eyebrows done. This may seem silly, buts its been years and years since I had my hair totally professionally done. My haircuts have consisted of quick trips into Super Cuts and my grays have been covered by at home kits. Given that I have a 25 year class reunion coming up.... well, vanity thy name is Sass! It also rewards the Princess --- as she has been on board with the getting out of debt thing. I think it is probably a LOT easier to get out of debt when all household members are on board.

And don't worry, while a "pro" will be doing my hair, I won't be paying Salon prices for it. A friend of mine does hair, and she's REALLY good at what she does, and she's offered to come to the house at a discounted rate to do it. Hooray for frugal indulgences!!!!

So, the next step is where to go from here. While it would be GREAT to be able to adjust my standard of living a bit, its just not possible. My car is 13 years old --- and while it is doing great right now, I know its just a matter of time before it is not so great. Then there is the Princess's college -- that is going to take some serious bites out of my bank balances. And then maybe one day, a home I actually own. All of these things combined mean that $500/month I was paying towards credit card debt needs to get banked. So no lifestyle inflation for me. Darn it.

Putting that $500/month into savings will help me restore my savings levels in just about 2 months. So, here I go.... debt free, but not out of the woods yet! Wish me luck!

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Quick Trip

Due to being sick earlier this week, I kept the grocery shopping to the minimum. Canned dog food (that was needed) and just a few deals. Still, I managed to save quite a bit thanks to the addition of just a few coupons in addition to the sale prices. I've been going with the Publix canned food because reading the labels, they actually have meat as the first ingredient, and surprisingly, most brands do not. So, here is what I picked up:

6 Cans Publix Dog Food
1 Publix Salad Dressing (Penny Item!)
4 Crystal Light
1 Hormel Mashed Potatoes -- not a great deal, but hey, I can cheat a bit when I don't feel good!

Spent: $14.88
Saved: $12.49 or 46%

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Feeling Like Crap

I feel awful. I truly do. I've had a sore throat off and on for a week, but yesterday I started getting more symptoms. I'll spare you the "ick" of that, but I'm going to the doctor today. I made the appointment late yesterday afternoon because I could tell that I wasn't going to just "get over it". And I was right.

I've already notified my supervisor that I won't be in today. I feel terrible about that since I just took a vacation day last Friday to have a four day weekend. Oh well, I bet they don't want my ick around there.

Staying home for me is always hard. Staying home sick I mean --- I always see the hundreds of things I need to do and usually I do some of them. I'm going to try not to do that today. Try being the operative word. Wish me luck.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A New Bed For Thing 1

I noticed yesterday that Thing 1 wanted to be wherever his people were. Problem is, he's gotten to where he can't jump up on the couch or the chairs to make himself comfy. I'd noticed this over the past few weeks, but hadn't done anything about it. Now, with only however long remaining, I want him to be comfortable wherever he is, but I also don't want to drag his bed from room to room to room to room. That's just not practical.

So, I thought I'd get him a couple of additional beds to have in various rooms in the house so that he can be comforable wherever he is. I looked at a couple stores and online. At a minimum price of $20 each, those were going to get costly quick! So I nixed that idea. Instead, I dug out some old pillows that for some reason I hadn't thrown out yet. And then I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up some fleece. A few snips, and some knots tied... and voila! A new bed for Thing 1.

I've only done one so far, but will finish up the others tomorrow. So for less than the cost of ONE brand new pup bed, I'll have four. Now, if only HE would be suitably impressed. So far, he's like "Meh." -- contrary mutt!

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Heart Hurts

This morning I posted that I was bracing for a big vet bill --- It didn't end up being as much as I thought. Only $183. While that was a relief, the rest of the visit wasn't.....

I was worried that something was bad wrong with Thing 1, I thought I was prepared for it. After all, he IS 13 years old. He's no longer a young pup. Turns out, I was right about something being wrong. And I was totally wrong about being prepared for it.

Thing 1 has lymphoma. And there's no real course of treatment for him. I could spend thousands of dollars and it MIGHT buy him a few additional months. But there's no guarantee of that. And there's no guarantee he would have a decent quality of life if he were to have those extra months. The best we can hope for it to have a few months with him relatively pain free and happy.

I brought him home and told the Princess after she woke up. We both cried and held him close. And loved on him. And made him pizza for lunch. At this point, I don't think people food can hurt. (Don't worry, won't go overboard).

The vet gave me Prednisone to give him and told me to pick up some Pepcid because it can be harsh on his tummy. Other than that, we can just spoil him rotten. And pray. Pray for his comfort and happiness in these final months.  Pray for the wisdom and guidance to know when the right time is to make a very hard decision. Pray to know what's best for him, and not just what's best for us just because we're not ready to lose him yet.

Bracing for the Vet Bill

I hope you all had a fantastic 4th. Ours was pretty low key. The Princess worked most of the day. Then we went to the mall to check out a 75% clearance sale to see about filling in some of her wardrobe -- no luck there. Oh well. Afterwards, we went to the restaurant where she works to eat dinner. (I guess she couldn't get enough earlier in the day).

Actually though, they were set up a bit differently last night --- they had a band on the patio and were packed. It was quite cool to watch all of the wait staff make a point to come up and talk to us and to meet "Mom". Everyone said such nice things about her and the manager sent us cheese dip and guacamole free. It was a really nice time. I over-tipped our waiter, but he was really fantastic and apparently one of the Princess's favorite co-workers.

We came home and after chilling out a bit, walked outside to watch the fireworks. We are very close to where they shoot them off --- but trees tend to block them some. Not sure if the trees grew a lot in the last year or if they were shooting them lower because of all the rain, but our view wasn't fabulous. However it was nice to see some of them and then just walk back in the house to call it a night. No fighting traffic!

Anyway..... I am taking a vaycay day today. I had planned to sleep in, but Thing 1 is worrying me. His appetite is still way down. Even with the wet food -- which he will at least eat. He's gotten pretty skinny everywhere except his belly. That seems to pooch a lot. More than usual. So, I'm going to take him in and see what's going on. He's an old pup, so I know his health is likely waning, but I'm really not quite ready to let him go. I know today will probably involve a lot of tests. Sigh. I hope I will still be able to stay on track for paying everything off, but gotta take care of my pup.

I will say that I am a tad embarrassed to take him in there so filthy. We've had a LOT of rain the past few days. That means his normally white fur is more brown than white from going outside. Oh well, I'm sure this isn't the first pup they've seen after several days of rain!

How about y'all? Anyone else taking a day off today?