Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ready for the New Year!

Things are looking up even more, financially, for 2015.  Several areas tie into each other for some of the longer term goals.

1) A look at zillow for an estimate of our current real estate value turned into a very nice surprise. The value is finally up, percentage wise. Where I kept hearing values were rising in our area, but it wasn't being reflected in the last year or two, whenever I would look on zillow.

We are now within less than $20,000 of what we owe, and my strong guess is that this value on zillow does not reflect all the upgrades we have done inside and out. The fencing alone should bring it up a nice chunk, plus the remodels of the bathrooms, new wood laminate flooring in kitchen, laundry and one bedroom, as well as new stainless appliances in the kitchen. Plus my boss, who has bought and sold a some rental properties in the past couple of years, as well as helped her daughter through a home purchase, said that zillow seems to be lower than houses end up selling for, so she said our value probably is higher than what is showing online.

I would say we are probably are or are very close to being out of water and as long as house values continue to rise at a normal rate (not like the crazy years), combined with our amount going to principle each month/year, we should be out of the water and on dry land in the near future.  At least then we will have some option if we wanted to move. If we can keep out the drug dealers/buyers it's actually a very nice area and we have a very nice piece of property.

We are starting year 9 of a 20 year mortgage, which is also a plus, in my book. Even though our payments are higher, I went with a 20 year mortgage instead of the conventional 30 year. We are almost half way there now and that is a good feeling. It will be paid by the time I'm 62 and I plan to work a few more years after that we will have a nice chunk each month to add to retirement, with no house payment.

I'm not sure where some reader(s) got the idea that because I have mentioned that we are underwater it means we are behind on our payments. We have had mortgage payments since we got married 30 years ago and have never even been late on one payment in our life. In my "logical" way of thinking an underwater house is only bad if you plan to sell. Otherwise the market will come back (just like the stock market and my 401k) around, as well as we keep adding equity back into it with every payment. We also want to do one more small remodel job - re-do the kitchen countertops with something new and updated and have the walls redone (like our bathrooms) so I can paint them. I am hoping to be able to get that done this next summer. We shouldn't have to spend much on landscaping, other than to maintain it and the annual flowers I plant.

The past 2-3 years we have pretty much put all our extra money back into this house, to get things fixed and updated that were neglected for many years, while DH was struggling to build his business and we were broke and then when he got sick and couldn't work and we were broke. We had our house, garage and shed painted, added fencing, lots of landscaping, new flooring in several rooms, as well as semi-remodels/upgrades in both bathrooms. There really isn't anything wrong with our house now, other than the regular maintenance that has to be done to keep a house in working order, but that is costly too.  Except for the fencing, house/garage/shed painting and the bathrooms, everything else was all DIY.

2) Salary raise(s)
At this point I know I have a $250 per month raise in the income from my side job. That was a 33% raise! Not bad, not bad :-)  I don't know yet what/if my raise will be on my regular full time job, I just know that reviews will be done in January.  Based on all the previous raises, I am assuming/hoping it will be at a minimum of $200 per month. It's hard to say, because I got a raise in summer of 2013 that was $6,000 a year and 6 months later (last January) got another $3.000 a year. I was not expecting that raise, at all. So, I am low-estimating it and hoping for that.

We will still have our 10% of salary bonus plan in effect for 2015. If we meet our goals (we have never NOT met them in the years we have had bonus incentive plans in effect) I will also get another 10% of my annual salary in a bonus. I am looking at potentially grossing close to $100,000 next year.  When I started my job 9 years ago I was making $50k a year (and before that I was making only $39k a year)

No matter what I will be increasing my 401k by at least $100 per month, or more, depending on what I find out at my review.

3) DS owes us a good chunk of money for the vehicle he has and another piece of equipment he had with him (but sold out from under us and kept/spent the money). Not sure at this point if we will ever see the money, he was supposed to start making monthly payments (even if it's just $50-$100) but we haven't seen anything yet. So, if he gets his act together at some point, we might start seeing a little extra money coming our way every so often.

4) The charges I put on my care credit card for dental last year and a couple of other purchases we put on credit, with 6-12 months no interest will all be paid in February. I've been making equal monthly payments (not minimum payments) so that they will be zero'd out by the dates the promotions expire. That all has been totaled about $350 a month and after February, I won't have that amount going out anymore. I needed the dental work, so the credit option was a great way for me to do it and get it taken care of, as well as helped rebuild my credit. I do have some more dental work to be done in 2015, but my benefits should cover most of it and I am setting aside money in my FSA account for the rest.

5) Savings currently sits at a bit over $5,000, which is starting to feel like a "safer" place to be. IF. for some reason, I lost my job, I also have about $5,000 (after taxes) in unused vacation time on the books. I do not touch this vacation. I saved it up to keep as a reserve for job loss or sickness. I earn about 4 1/2 weeks a year, so earn plenty to let this extra time sit on the books and not use it.

6) 401k - currently is at about $40,000. Not a lot for our age, but we sure got a late start at it. Our matching and profit sharing will be funded for 2014 in the next few months and will add another $3500 to it, as well as my regular contributions.

So there you have it - pretty much our financial picture for the upcoming year in a nutshell. Let's hope there are no surprises (hahahaha!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Got woke up at 5:40 this morning to such a loud BOOM! I thought some neighbor's house had just exploded or something.  Well, close enough! The drug raid on the house behind us had just started. Police lights everywhere. We could hear police dogs barking and then over a loud speaker someone kept repeating "This is the County Sherrif. We have a search warrant. Come outside the house. We have a search warrant".


It's been over a year, but one of the drug dealing houses finally busted. We don't know what quantities they were able to discover but according to county jail records online both "boys" (I call them that even though they are mid to late 20's now) were arrested. The older one with 3 charges: Unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, felon possessing a firearm, and felony domestic violence court order violation. (we didn't even know he was staying there again, the police had told us awhile back his mom put a no contact order on him). The other brother got charged with possession of meth and drug paraphernalia.  The older one already has a felony record. The other one has a police record too, but I'm not sure if it's felony related. I SOOO was wishing the mom would get arrested too. It's her house and she knows full well what has been going on all these years.  She's just as guilty in my book.

There were actually 2 booms and apparently they are called "flash bangs" that the SWAT guys use right before they go in to disorient people. Even over the few hours the police were at the house people were still driving down the street to buy their drugs! They'd see all the police cars and back out down the street. Fifteen minutes after it all started (so it wasn't even 6am yet) someone comes down our street in a mini-van and gets those scumbag neighbor kids out of their house and leaves (their dad had already left for work). They probably thought they were going to be next.

I hope those boys are in jail for a long time, since this is a repeat offense. I know the justice system isn't in our favor for that to happen, but at least for now they are both in jail. It will be interesting to see what happens with the drug dealers at the end of our street. They are either going to be scared and back off or look at it as more opportunity to pick up all the drug buyers from the other place that now need a place to buy.

The week before Christmas the good deputy, who is now back in our area, got busy one night and made some arrests of cars coming from this house. Meth, heroin, stolen handgun, prescription pills...Said two of them squawked like parrots of who/where they got the drugs. Then last Monday the undercover narcotics detective called us and told us they got the warrant and would be doing the bust sometime soon. 

Our good neighbor just pulled in from work, honking his horn as he went by in celebration :-)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Well, I tried

Pinterest Fail!

My favorite coffee creamer with my morning (and only) cup of joe is Coffee Mate French Vanilla liquid coffee creamer. I've seen a couple of pins/recipes of making your own creamer that supposedly tastes just like it. So, I had a can of sweetened condensed milk left over (because decided I needed a pumpkin pie like I needed a hole in the head) and decided to give it a try. I had just finished my container of the real stuff the day before and had cleaned it out and all ready for my homemade version.'s not the same, darn! Not really at all. It wasn't terrible, but nothing special. I was going to use it up anyway and woke up to make my cup of coffee this morning and decided to use the good stuff and just throw out the fake version. I figure hey, I only drink one cup a day. It's one of my favorite times of the day and I deserve it to taste like I really like it! So, I poured the $1 or so homemade version down the drain.

At least I gave it a try and didn't lose much in the process. It might have been wonderful, you just never know.  If I can't have my Starbucks white chocolate mocha every day (more like twice a month, haha) I at least want my cup to taste like my 2nd choice.

What have been  your Pinterest fails - or successes?

Friday, December 26, 2014

It's a wrap

It was a pretty quiet Christmas with pretty much just the 3 of us. The Three Muskateers, as DH says.  We open our presents on Christmas eve night and then our stocking stuffers on Christmas morning. Since we were going to my mom's for dinner on Christmas Day (another quiet event, with just her and my uncle) I made our turkey dinner on Christmas Eve. DD and I played some games, Scrabble and Cribbage, while we waited for the turkey to bake.  DH has never been big on playing games, so he kept himself entertained on his computer and watching tv.

Dinner was yummy, if I do say so myself, and we enjoyed the meal and some laughs with each other. Early evening we opened our presents. Since it's just the 3 of us, we took turns opening our gifts. We were all very happy with everything we received - even the ugly sweater they got me (on purpose)! About a month ago DD and I were shopping in Kohl's and walked by this display of sweaters, all with "stuff" embroidered on them. I walked by and said "I can't believe people really want to wear those". Fast forward to last week and DH and DD shopping at Kohl's, with DD trying to help DH pick out stuff. He gets a few things and as they are walking to the checkout he sees those sweaters and stops at one and says "that is cute" and DD was like "NO, just no" and explained that I hated those. So then he said "well, I'm getting it for her". I guess he thought I would open it and say I hated it, but of course I was polite (LOL) and said, "oh....this is cute". Then they burst out laughing and I didn't know what the heck (I had forgotten about the ugly sweater conversation DD and I had had). We all had a good belly laugh over a $12 sweater - that was originally $50! Yikes!

A week or so ago DH and I bought a new coffee and end table as our big gift to each other. They are a beautiful dark wood, that matches our tv stand/cabinet. (We took the legs off the old oak tables and DD is keeping it all stored under her bed and will take them when she gets her own place) Then we got each other smaller gifts to open. I got him some new blades for his table saw, a car charger for his iphone and a new lightweight jacket. He got me a t-shirt, sweater, candles coasters and a soap pump and toothbrush holder to match our new bathroom decor.

DD is a great shopper and got me lots of nice things. A new set of canisters in red (just what I have been wanting! After 30 years I am tired of my old canister set), a beautiful gold with diamond accents necklace and earring set, pajamas, and a cute spoon holder and trivet for the kitchen. We got her a new suitcase, which she didn't have on her list but ended up being her favorite gift :-). From Etsy I got her a knit slouchy hat and an infinity scarf. Also earrings, slippers and a throw blanket.

Yesterday I made blueberry muffins for breakfast and then we opened our stockings (which are always overflowed with stuff that doesn't even fit in them!). Santa brought me a new set of pots and pans! Very nice replacement to my very old set of mismatched, worn out pots and pans. A Starbucks gift card, and more chocolate than I can eat in a year.  I always put scratch off lottery tickets in their stockings. DD is usually pretty lucky with them, but out of all the tickets only one $2 winner this year.  When I was going to hide the stocking stuffers in one of my hiding spots the other day, I found 2 stocking stuffers from last year that I forgot about!

Around noon I called our neighbor to tell him we were heading over to drop off his Christmas cookies we always give him and he said he was just about to call DH and see what he was doing (he knows our Christmas day is usually pretty low key) because he was going to bring over his 2 rifles that he put together himself, so they spent an hour or so looking at those and talking.  He even brought us gifts! A gun magazine (clip?) for DH and nice little flashlights for DD and I. Then we went over to my mom's for dinner with her and my uncle. I think we were all doing our best this year, knowing our son wants nothing to do with us as his family, but sitting there and having my mom answer her cell phone and it's my son calling to wish her a Merry Christmas, but wants nothing to do with us, while she sits there in the same room as us chatting away with him like nothing in the world is wrong. Then she hangs up and is just happy happy happy while are sitting there about to cry. At that point I wanted nothing more than to just leave and go home, but we stayed polite, ate our dinner and went home. Sigh..........

On a good note, I honestly don't think we could have a more perfect daughter with a more perfect life. She now has a guy she has been on a few dates with since she got home on this break and seriously, he couldn't be more perfect for her. He is older (was a school friend of our son) at 24 years old (she is 19, going on 30), has a very good job with one of the largest companies in our area, and is also going back to school to finish his Bachelor's degree so he can get into management. He's sweet, friendly, very outgoing, kinda nerdy, but in a totally cute way.  They went out to a late movie last night.  I am so happy for her.

I have next week off work, too. Just plan to mostly relax, but also in the plans are to clean out DH's bedroom and box up all his stuff and just put into storage. I brought several boxes home from work last week. I'm going to use the room as my office. It will be hard to go through all his stuff (or mess, I should say) but I am excited to have a whole room to myself as an office. Furnishing and decorating it like I want will have to be slow process (I don't want to spend money on that right now) but no rush. There's a twin bed, dresser and night stand as well a a very big oak L-shaped desk (that was a hand me down from my parents years ago) that I will probably eventually sell all on Craigslist and get a new desk and a futon couch for the room. Hopefully, I can find a used desk I like from Craigslist. I will just have to keep watching and looking.  That is how DH found his great cherrywood desk set for like $200.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What's wi-fi?

Oh gee! My mom has been saying for the past year she wants a laptop or a tablet, so she can look at her emails and Facebook while she is at her boyfriends (or at his vacation cabin) or even just sitting in her recliner at home. I have tried to explain to her that using it at his house (or even her own) she will need to know the login password info to the wi-fi of wherever she is. I knew she didn't quite understand and was thinking I meant the password to her email :)

But, she called DD the other day and asked her to go with her to buy an ipad mini (like DD and I have). I told DD to make sure she didn't buy the more expensive one that uses data (I knew she wouldn't want to buy a monthly data plan) and just the one (like we have) that can access wi-fi, where available.

So, of course I get a text yesterday from DD as soon as they are back at mom's house. "Do you know Grandma's wi-fi password?"  LOL. Oh goodness!  Who is her internet carrier? "Umm...she doesn't know".  Ask her who she pays her internet bill to...."oh, ok it's the phone company".

I had no idea how to figure this out, but I did some googling on my end, called DD back and asked her to find the model of the modem. Finally found a link on the phone company's webite on how to get into the router administration and find the password.  Gave DD the instructions and Voila! Her ipad mini now had internet access.  DD was trying to show her how to access some of her favorite things using apps, rather than trying to go through the Safari web browser. She just kept saying "oh, I don't need to do that right now". I know she won't figure it out and using the apps are what make the ipad such a better experience.  DD showed her how to access her email, but not before I got another text "do you know Grandma's AOL password?" LOL  As a matter of fact I do! - I wrote it down on my password list the last time I had to go through getting her set back up on AOL, when she lost her password and I knew she wouldn't remember it the next time she needed it.

And then she's going to get down to her boyfriends tomorrow and they will have no clue what his wi-fi password is..........:)  We'll be over at her house for Christmas day, so I'll make sure to get her set up with all her favorite stuff on it.  I know she'll enjoy it much more if she can access her email and Facebook using the apps, rather than the web browser.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A nice thing

A couple of days ago I saw a news story about a local teenage girl trying to raise some money for a local charity.  What they were looking to use that money for is something the company I work for sells. I told my boss about it and between us and one of our customers we are now supplying the charity with what they need, at no charge! So awesome. That made my day :-) 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What's my obligation post bankruptcy?

An anonymous commenter posted a good food for thought question to me last night, regarding my post yesterday where I said that I was letting DH spend up to $1500 for the gun components to put together a rifle he has been wanting to have and also learn how to assemble.

Instead of spending your money on "stuff", have you ever considered going back to make amends to the people and businesses that were affected when you declared bankruptcy and didn't pay what you rightfully owed them?

What do you all think? I'd imagine there are lots of different views on this, though I doubt many who have gone through a bankruptcy would feel too much differently then me. Do I spend the next 16 years, until I (hopefully get to) retire, trying to pay off two large pieces of construction equipment (one that originally cost over $200k and another that was almost $200k) that were discharged in our bankruptcy?

Do people in general, who have gone through bankruptcy, need to then spend the rest of their life and money paying back what was discharged?

I guess this would be my response to Anonymous:

If we are supposed to go back and pay then I'm not sure what the point of going through filing and being discharged in bankruptcy was. My understanding and view is that it is a fresh start in life. Did we want DH to get sick and the economy crash at the same time and lose his business and half our income? Nope. But I also know that the 2 finance companies were able to recoup quite a bit of the money by selling the equipment they repossessed. Both companies repossessed equipment that even though 4-7 years old, was in like new condition, due to how my DH cares for "stuff" and they did get top dollar for them.

We don't smoke, drink, go out or take vacations. We stay home and hang out with our two dogs and try to keep our 26 year old manufactured home from falling apart. I'm sorry that our purchase of "stuff" offends you, but in my finances it is a good investment of my money. $1500 for something that will be worth $2500-$3000 once DH puts some time into it. That's a much better return on my money than what it's getting sitting in savings or than I've gotten on my 401k. It's something we will own and have equity in...and spending $1500 a year for an asset and DH to have some hobby fun is ok in my book. 

Between my 2 bonus's I grossed $8250 and spending 18% of that money on an asset that will be worth more than we spent and hold it's value isn't too dumb of decision. A dumb decision would have been to go blow $1500 on clothes and tv's and a vacation, where we would have had nothing for the money. We are staying out of debt and paying cash for our purchases (other than the few things I have charged to no interest promotions, in order to try and rebuild our credit ratings) and hopefully by the time I have to retire we will be able to support ourselves and not be a burden on society.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Big Spender

Oh boy! I went all out and splurged big time with my bonus money!!! Are you ready for this?? I'm sure you are just on the edge of your seat wondering what I bought!

Four Christmas chair pads for $1 each from the Dollar Store!  Wooohooo!  Aren't they cute,    though? :)

The Christmas bedding I ordered a couple of weeks ago arrived. I'm not so thrilled with the duvet cover. It's a big small for king size. More like Queen, in my estimation. My comforter has to squish in it and barely hangs over the edge of the bed ( pulled it from the other side so it looks in this pic like it comes down the sides more than it really does) , so not quite the "look" I had envisioned my Christmas sleigh bed to be :(.  I do LOVE the sherpa throw blanket I got for the end of the bed. Perfect size and sooo soft and warm. I'll make do with the duvet cover - it came from England (ebay purchase) and not worth the cost to send back.

I do want to find a couple of Christmas throw pillows to add, but I'll look for those on clearance after Christmas.

And for those of you wondering - I did tell DH about the bonus. I debated all the way home from work but decided to share in this and see what happens! I know he has gotten much better the past several years about spending and when he does spend he now tries to find deals or buy used. I walked in the house and as soon as he was done with his rant about the neighbor drug dealers and the cops, I handed him my check. His eyes got a bit big and he was like "wow!".  I can tell that in a way it also kind of makes him feel bad......because he can't contribute to our family like that. He gave me a hug and said good job, you earned it, and I gave him a hug and told him he helped earn it too by supporting my job and doing all the home stuff I can't do.

On Saturday I decided to tell him he could use some of the money to get a gun safe that he has wanted/needed for over a year, as long as it was in the $1000-$1500 range. I said the rest is going into savings. He said what he really wanted was to get the rest of the parts to finish a rifle he is putting together himself. He bought the lower part (I had forgotten about this) a year ago, but hasn't done anything to get the rest of the parts. He figures he'll end up with 2 things - he'll have learned how to put together a rifle and he'll have another gun.  I think all this will come in the $1000 range, maybe $1500, so if that's what he wants to do with it, that is ok with me.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The college girl is home

or maybe should be titled "Lessons learned the first quarter of college"

1.  She doesn't need the mid-level meal plan she signed up for. The lowest level will be adequate. She has like 67 meals left that she didn't use and ended up even guest comping meals this last week of classes for some friends that ran out of meals.

She always eats breakfast, but having 8am classes each morning, she didn't want to go to the cafeteria, so she would have cereal or oatmeal in her room. Sometimes she ate lunch at the cafeteria, but she didn't have much time between classes and it was always so crowded. So, about the only meals she ate there on a regular basis was dinner.  The microwave and fridge/freezer they have in their room has been adequate to have some meals from, too. One night she even went to the big kitchen in their dorm and made a bunch of quesadillas for herself and others.

2. She likes her private space more than she realized. Only having a brother and not having to share a bedroom growing up, it has been an adjustment learning to live with a roommate. While she really likes her roommate, she likes her own space even more :)

She's trying to decide what to do for next year.  She can live off campus if she wants and is considering trying to find an apartment to rent with another person, so then she at least has a bedroom to go off to study and sleep in.

3. She missed home (and her momma) more than she thought she would. She made 3 trips home. The first one a couple weeks after school started, then over Veteran's Day long weekend and then at Thanksgiving. Now she is home until Jan 5th. She was packed and ready to go, finished her last final at 4pm yesterday and was in her car and heading home by 4:15 :-)

4. It's easy to spend money to do stuff with friends. She found she was spending more money to go out and do stuff (dinner out, a movie, bowling, etc) than she thought she would. A couple of times she decided to pass on the activities, because it wasn't something she really cared to do one way or the other and didn't want to spend the money on it. (Even though I give her $100 a month specifically to have extra to go out and "do stuff")

Other than that, I think it was all pretty much what she expected. She loves the university and the town. Her classes are tough (since she's already in the upper level classes) but she got A's and B's. She's starting to have some guy friends from her dorm, but so far nothing in the "dating" interest. She has apparently been texting/messaging quite a bit with a guy her brother went to high school with. I guess after she started school he sent her a message asking how she liked college.  He lives in our town and has a good job with a big company in our metro area and is going back to school next month to get his degree (while working). I had met him once about a year and a half ago and thought he was such a friendly young guy. So then I asked her if they are texting so much why aren't they going out while she is at home on break and she said "ya, he mentioned about getting together....but Mom, he's like 24!" I was like " you are like 19 going on 30, so no big deal".

She also just heard from a guy she dated when she was 15 (that she had known since she was a little kid). They are meeting up halfway (he lives over an hour away) to have dinner tonight. Now this was a nice boy! I've known him since he was 8 years old and he is still as sweet as ever.

Just glad to have her home and I am enjoying the time with her.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The first credit card

DD has been approved for her very first credit card! Yay!  Eeek!  She has tried a couple of times over the past year (after she turned 18) to apply for a couple of store cards (Target and Kohls) but got denied due to no credit history.  While she was home over Thanksgiving she got an offer in the mail from Discover geared toward college students, so she decided to go online and apply and was approved. She now has a card with a $500 limit and earns cash back.

I think she will be very responsible with it. We've talked about it enough for her to know she needs to pay it off in full every month, if she uses it, and wants to avoid paying the high interest like the plague. I think it will be a good money management lesson for her. The card came in the mail last week, while she was at school, but she got home last night and activated it and walks out into the living room and says "let's go shopping, I have a credit card to charge up!.......oh wait? that's not what I'm supposed to do?!"  Smart aleck!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Another good news Monday

My boss tries her best to keep me out of the loop on surprises, but since I have to take care of the bank accounts and the money needed to be transferred around, etc to cover stuff, she usually has to tell me.

We are getting our 10% of annual salary bonus on Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's $7500 to me and after the dang 25% federal tax on bonus and then social security taxes, I will end up with $5051.  I am so happy to be getting this bonus.  No plans for it yet, other than just sticking it in savings for the time being.

With that bonus on top of my regular salary and my side job I will have grossed almost $93,000 this year.  Not bad for a one income family, in my book :-)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ho Ho Ho.....with a Bah Humbug feeling

                                                   Can you believe it is only

I decorated last weekend.  It's a good thing I did it before the latest crappola with my son, otherwise I probably wouldn't have much been in the mood to get it done. I took this picture yesterday, so now it's only 18 more days!

                    Here's my attempt at a Christmas-y Home

                                               (complete with my thumb in the picture!)

I'm waiting on a red and white snowflake duvet cover I ordered from Ebay, as well as a Sherpa throw blanket to put on the end of the bed. I will need a few Christmas-y pillows and pillow cases, too.  Hopefully it all will get shipped before Christmas so I can use it this year, but if not, I'll have it to start using next year.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

I'm finally a cool kid

I finally made the plunge and got iphones for myself and DH! The kids have them and say they wouldn't have anything else. I have gotten by for the past several years with a cheapo "un-smart" phone and a pay as you go plan. It has literally only cost me less than $100 a year for a card to fill it up with minutes. Until last year DH had an old no frills phone that he had from when he was in business, but I was still was paying $50 a month for pretty much nothing for it - limited calls and texts and no data.

I got him a smart phone on my carrier last year, saving about $12 a month over the plan he had, plus he now had data and unlimited texting.  I had hoped the $50 phone would suffice for his low cell phone needs. But the phone was a piece of junk. So, a few months later I bought him a "better" cell phone through same carrier. Phone was a bit better but service, as far as accessing our home camera security system, while away from home, was still pretty bad.  Slow to load, or wouldn't load at all.  While DD, sitting across from us at the restaurant, could access it no problem from her iphone.

So, with the new iphone 6 coming out and the iphone 5's being pretty cheap now, I decided to just do it!  We added ourselves to DD's plan and turned it into a family plan, which will now save her about $5 a month. The phones were basically free. I paid $99 up front for each of them (with a 2 year contract) but for switching over our phone numbers from another carrier we are getting a $150 bill credit for each phone, so that will also cover the phone cost and the activation fees and sales tax.

I knew I could do the extra $80 a month, I just haven't wanted to. But, I'm also tired of trying to go somewhere with DH and him getting frustrated because he can't check in on our house and feel safer about leaving.  Plus, now that I'll be making an extra $250 a month on my side job, it's really no problem to cover the extra.

The day after Black Friday DD and I went into the cell phone store and I did it. I bought two iphone 5s's, got our numbers switched over and came home and told DH here's an early Christmas present. I have had my ipad mini for almost a year and am addicted to that thing.  This phone is just like a "mini ipad mini" LOL.  And I must admit......I did like pulling up to the drive-up  window of our favorite little burger stand on my way home from work yesterday and look at facebook while I was sitting there waiting for my order :-)  My old pay as you go plan didn't have data.

Friday, December 5, 2014

A long parental whine

Monday's good news day quickly turned into a really crappy day/week so far.  We just cannot get it together with my son. It's been a shaky, somewhat ok contact the past 6 months, mostly initiated on our end. He could go weeks without even a text saying hello, updating us on what he's been doing.  We did see him for a week in October (mostly at our insistence that he come here and take care of some responsibilities he had). It seemed to go well, though after he left it was almost a month before we heard from him again. I have a feeling it was just a smiling face he put on while here and not sincere, just to get through the week here.  The part that didn't go well while he was here - with our vehicle we let him take over a year ago - was DH found a pot pipe in it. He of course blamed it on his friend. Says he smokes but that DS only tried it once last summer. Sure..........

But, DH remained very calm about it all (in the past he would have blown up). We of course told him how unhappy we were to find this and I also looked up the possession of paraphernalia laws in the state he is currently living in. $500 fine and up to 6 months in jail, if caught. Not to mention he was driving the 1000 miles here without a front license plate (good reason to get pulled over).  Why? because when he was in Canada he went into a ditch to avoid hitting a moose and wrecked the SUV on both ends. He didn't bother to mention that to us. (even though we bought the vehicle and owned it, we did transfer it to his name last winter, because he was refusing to leave Canada and we didn't want the liability, so technically he now owns it). He had told us before he had auto insurance, but didn't have an answer as to then why didn't he use it to repair the car? Of course he didn't have insurance. While here we suggested he go over to the Vehicle licensing and get new plates, it would cost him around $30. He did do that and also renewed his tabs for a year, even though they weren't due until next March. Wow, he finally took the initiative on something.

He is 23 years old now. For the past 2 years he has been staying with others, as a guest in their homes, for several month stints. He works odd jobs, for cash, so he has no health insurance.  Currently he is doing some construction type jobs at times. He could easily get hurt and will have no L&I available, if he does.

Before he left at the end of October we sat him down and tried to impart some life wisdom into him (again). Get a full time job, get one that hires you as an employee, withholds taxes and has benefits. Makes life much easier. We also told him he owes us $8500. We paid $5000 for the vehicle we let him take, but he did put $1000 in good winter tires on it, so we said he owes us $4000 for that and $4500 for the trailer he sold out from under us (that of course we had also originally paid for, at much more than that amount). I told him he needed to figure out a payment schedule and let me know. I didn't really care how much, just that it needed to happen every month. He finally told me last week he would have a big chunk of it to us in a few weeks......

Monday DH calls him up to chat about some stuff related to all the race equipment. We have always told DS that even though we paid for it all, we feel we all own this and he has a say in what happens to it. DH did first ask if he had time to talk. DS sounded a bit grumpy and said he was on the phone with his sister trying to help her with her malfunctioning laptop. DH brings up the topic he called about and DS gets all defensive and says I told you before to just sell it all and tried to twist something dh had said. Anyhow, even though DH remained calm and didn't get mad or yell, the conversation went downhill from there. DH told him how he feels about these stupid odd jobs he's doing and still living off of others for room and board. Told him he feels he is so much more capable that what he has been doing. DS then angrily asked if I felt that way too, and DH said, "you'll have to ask her".  DH told him - we are only trying to help you.

DH mentioned that DS's 2 year degree will end up obsolete and his reply was "you always have your degree".  Well, technically yes, in the real working world? Nope. Other than a short part time stint working IT while he was getting his degree, he has done nothing with it, since he got it 2 1/2 years ago. You don't work the field = employers who don't value your degree the longer time goes by.

Then DS hung up on him. I have tried to call him 4 times since Monday night. He won't answer or return my messages. DH sent him an email night before last. No response.So, we are apparently right back to where we were last January-May. My guess at this point - with his moodiness (he was never like this in his first 21 years) - is related to drugs and or alcohol (one of his new odd jobs recently has even been in a bar). And since he's 23 and not living under our roof, let alone that he is 1000 miles away, I guess he's going to have to figure it out himself.  Just seems such waste for such a smart person.

I look at his friends and others his age and see young adults going somewhere in life. They didn't all go to college, but they all have full time, steady jobs. One just bought his first house over the summer. The two friends that haven't done anything with their lives, is the one (who supposedly owns the pot pipe) who has been with my son(until a few weeks ago), since last spring - doing the same thing as him. The other kid lives at home, has never had a job and has zero ambition.

Son has no ambition, no drive, just wants to float along and see what happens. Doesn't seem to care about anything anymore, especially his family.  Mentally/emotionally he is acting like a 15 or 16 year old. I could almost go along with his lifestyle if he spent a bit of time interacting with us on a regular basis. Like I've told him many times - it's not that hard to spend 10 minutes once or twice a week calling/messaging/or emailing. It appears he still has quite a bit of contact with his ex-girlfriend (he saw her quite a bit when he was here that week) and I'll bet he finds time to message with her everyday. If it's important to you, you find the time. Simple as that.  But when you are avoiding others it usually because you either have something to hide or are guilty of doing something wrong.

It's hard listening to others say he'll come around, he'll figure it out.  Doesn't make what we are going through right now any easier, I can tell you that.  It sure is making it hard to get into the Christmas spirit and find the joy in life.

Monday, December 1, 2014

What a great start to Monday!

This is turning into a wonderful start to the day/week/month/year!!

I sent my side job my monthly invoice. I got an email back from the owner saying to also give myself a $500 Christmas bonus. Then I got an email saying be sure to gross it up, so it's $500 net of taxes. Then I got an email saying that starting in January to start paying myself a flat $1000 a month. I bill hourly, but it's always around $700-$750 a month. So, nice raise!! Then I got a very nice email saying they would be hard to replace me, so if I ever have plans to stop, let him know lots in advance, please. I emailed back that I have NO plans whatsoever to stop this side job. It works perfect for me. That gave me a nice piece of mind that I'll have this job for quite awhile down the road (it's already been 5 years). When I started doing it I figured it might last 2-3 years and eventually, as they grew, they'd want an in-house accountant/bookkeeper.  Glad this is working out on both ends, for more time to come!

Friday, November 21, 2014

From Fair to Good

I just checked my Credit Karma credit score. In the 4 years since our bankruptcy was finalized, my credit score is now over 700.  703 to be exact. I am finally out of the Fair category on in the Good category. It's been a long slow road to get there. 

I use the credit cards I have (except I haven't used the Shell gas one in quite awhile - the station upped their prices and it's been running 10 cents a gallon higher than other places I can get it) but pay them off in full when I use them. I do carry a balance on my Lowe's and CareCredit cards, but those are at interest free promotions and I make monthly payments so that they will for sure be paid off by the time the promotion is up.  Same thing with a PayPalCredit (formerly BillMeLater) but that doesn't report to the credit bureaus.

The Lowe's and PayPalCredit will both be paid off in full in February. That will add back $300 a month to my budget. One of the CareCredit charges (dental work) will be paid off in February, also. The remaining charge (my last big dental work over the summer) was 18 months no interest, so I have until Feb of 2016 to pay that off.  That's all I will have left after February and that payment will just be $40 a month.  I used Lowes for a power tool when DH was building the arbors. The PayPalCredit was for some of our bath remodel and buying a couple of 50# bags of casoron for our large graveled front area of our property. (that stuff is expensive!). I wouldn't have used the credit and made payments if they all hadn't been on no interest promotions. I felt it better to be able to use those promotions and spread out my payments, rather than using up most all of my savings.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sign up time

It's that wonderful, anticipated time of year..No, not Thankgiving and Christmas....time to re-enroll for crappy, expensive health insurance! Oh Joy!  My current carrier wants to up my monthly premiums by $15 a month.  So, I did some checking to compare the other plans available. I found two that were the same amount as I am paying now, but office visits are a $20 copay, rather than all of it going to the (high) deductibe and basically paying out of pocket for the visit. But in doing the "find a doctor" searches DH's doctor wasn't coming up on the plans.  Kind of surprised, as these are good insurance companies that most doctors in our area have all always taken. (Blue Cross/Blue Shield).

I was on our doctor's website, to get their phone number, to call and inquire about what insurance plans they take and found a page on their website explaining it. They take these 2 insurance companies for plans purchased outside of the exchange, only. Whew...I am purchasing outside of the exchange. The only reason to go through the exchange would be to get a subsidy and I don't qualify for that. Otherwise the prices for the plans are exactly the same, except lots of doctors won't take the plans purchased through the exchange, I am noticing.

I applied today for a plan that is the same as I paid per month this year and will offer $20 office visit copays. DH averages about 2 visits per year, lately. So this year I basically paid out of pocket for his 2 visits, totaling about $250.  DD hasn't needed to go to a doctor in years, but she would like to make a visit (or however many it will take) to check out her toenails on her big toes. They are so thick (always have been) but seem to be getting worse.  I will get her in for an appointment right after the first of the year with my doctor. If she needs a follow up visit she can come home some weekend and just go to the walk in clinic (same office), I guess.

Plus, this health insurance company takes credit/debit card payments, so I can start putting the monthly premium on my PayPal debit card and earning 1% cash back, which will be $4.76 a month. Every little bit helps, right?

Speaking of my PayPal debit card - I posted last Friday about the fraudulent charges that I found on there. I called back this morning to verify that I was getting credited back the $100 and $25 charges. I already had and didn't realize it. I just was having trouble reviewing my activity on the account and didn't catch that they had been credited. The guy I talked to was SO nice and helpful. So was the first guy I talked with last week. I cannot complain one bit about their customer service. It has been top notch and quick to take care of the issue.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

It's cold out!

Brrrr - it's been cold here. Night times in the teens and 20's and daytime in the 40's. But, pretty blue skies.  Yesterday we did some yard maintenance. Got the fuchsia bush pruned down to the ground. Amazing how it grows so huge every spring/summer. DH tried to trim some overgrown shrubs and just kept getting frustrated with the little gas trimmer he has. It rarely wants to start and if it does it only runs for 20 seconds. So he was cussing and swearing at it and I asked him where he even got it in the first place, because it's not like him to have crappy stuff.  Apparently it's something his dad gave him years ago (probably because it didn't work right) and DH has fought it every time he has tried to use it (which isn't very often). Finally, I said, just throw it away! So he tried to pull the starter a bunch more times and finally walked over to the garbage can and threw it away. Just like his dad to take crappy care of stuff and then wonder why it doesn't work.

Later, after he had used the leaf blower, mowed them up with the lawnmower, etc., he came back in the house and said "I couldn't throw it out" I think I need these gas lines and this little filter". LOL. So, I'll make a trip to the auto parts store today and see if I can find what he needs. I looked at the prices of new ones - they are pricey! $300 on up. Hopefully his fix will work.

Today we are waiting for the Comcast repair guy to come. Our phone isn't working right. It rings on our end, we answer it and no one is there and on the callers end it's going straight to our voicemail. Plus when we make calls it cuts in and out and you can't hear all the other person is saying.  I called them on Wednesday to report it. They said they were to try and fix it on the backend first and if not they'd have to send out a tech. Of course when they called to tell me they needed to schedule an appointment, it went to voicemail. I tried to call back right after (Friday evening) and called the # that was left in the voicemail and then was told I had to be transferred to another department that handled phone service and I was on hold forever. I finally hung up and tried to call back and was told the wait was an hour and a half to talk with customer service. So, I tried back yesterday, when the wait was only 10 minutes, and finally got to talk to someone to schedule the appointment. we'll be able to answer all the spam phone calls we get, which are 95% of the time our phone rings.

Friday, November 14, 2014

What a shame

It's sad that we live in a world where a person has to check their bank account or credit card every single day to make sure fraud charges aren't going through.  Recently the company credit card, where I work, got hacked, by some gaming company. This is about the 3rd time on this card in the past year. My mom said she recently got hacked, again it was some gaming company. I was just thinking the other day that I'm surprised nothing has happened on my PayPal debit card.  Well, I logged in today and sure enough there were 2 unauthorized charges pending. One for $100 and one for $25. Both to a gaming company. They were similar names, but not quite the same and not the same gaming company names that hit my mom's or work's cards.

So, now those are flagged and will get denied when they go through (they are in pending status, so I guess Paypal can't do anything until it "completes", which is usually the next day) and my card has been canceled and a new one on the way. I have to wait a week or so for the new card to get here, plus I have things set up to pay with this current card #, so I'll have to check to make sure nothing tries to go though between now and getting my new card #.  And then go change all my payment accounts. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

I remind my DD all the time to be checking her bank account online every day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Crabby Wednesday

I had a nice 5 days with DD. I also took Monday and Tuesday off work.  We enjoyed shopping, a lunch with my mom, and dinner out with DH (all celebrations for her birthday). She will be home again in 2 weeks for the Thanksgiving weekend, then 10 days back at school and home for a few weeks at Christmas break.

She had dropped her car off at a friends shop on her way home and I picked her up after work last Thursday. It took us 3 hours to get home - 83 miles! We left about 1:30 yesterday afternoon to take her back to our friends shop to get her car. (He only charged her $60 and did a bunch of fixes on it!) We hadn't planned on DH coming, nor did we even want him to come, but he did :-(.  Of course it was hours and hours of having to listen to him complain about traffic, etc.  I had hoped traffic would be a bit lighter, since some people had the day off, but it wasn't. There was a big wind storm, so trees were down in lots of areas, which we hit on the way up there and had to detour, so that added an extra 45 minutes or so. It took us over 2 hours to get home (better than the 3 hours it took DD and I, I guess :/).  Traffic around here is beyond ridiculous, so now I have to listen to DH piss and moan that he can't stand living here, etc. We need to move, etc. I need to find a job in some small town, etc. Problem is - all the places he wants to move to (medium/small towns) have almost the same cost of living as where we are now (which is strange), but salaries are way less.  There's no way I'm giving up a $75k a year job (with potential bonus's) for a $50-$60k a year job and have almost the same housing costs.

It's all a moot point anyway - we still have negative equity in our house and couldn't sell it to move even if I wanted to.  It just gets tiring listening to him complain about it and then act like it's all my fault.  And I'm tired of him acting like I am stupid - when in reality it's him with all the stupid ideas and notions. Like our home phone is acting weird - people call and it rings, but on their end goes straight to voicemail. But not every call does this. I took his cell phone off his charger to try and call our home phone as a test to see if it went to voice mail. It did, but my cell phone didn't. Our neighbor tried to call us 4 times this morning and went to voice mail. So, he flips out that I took his (rarely ever used) cell phone off the charger before it was fully charged! OMG! Taking it off the charger will set the charge and it won't fully charge anymore. I'm like not anymore. Years ago batteries were like that, but not anymore. Oh no, I'm wrong, stop always disagreeing with him, blah blah.  Finally I just said fine, no problem, I'll never lay a finger on your cell phone again, but just so you know for your own personal use, here is a link to where it explains modern cellphone batteries are all lithium and you don't have to fully charge them, if you don't want to or can't sometimes. Geez - it's not 1990 anymore and I am not stupid.

Then he suggests that maybe our  neighbor has his phone "blocked" and if we don't accept blocked calls it's going to voicemail. I said, no, that's not it. First if he was blocked, his number wouldn't show on our caller ID and second....but before I could make my second point he's flipping out that I don't know what I am talking about. Anyhow, my second point is that our phone setting isn't set to block anonymous calls. And I'm right on both points, anyway.  I called Comcast and they are trying to figure it out from their end, before sending out a tech. The Comcast phone assistance lady tried to call twice and it rang on my end and went to voice mail on her end. Hopefully they will figure it out soon, because our phone quality is cutting in and out on many calls, too.

On a good note, we finally saw both of our little barn kitties today. We weren't even sure if they are around anymore. The food doesn't get eaten very quickly and I don't know if our indoor/outdoor cat eats it too. I know he goes up in their little hut we built in the wood shed, so he probably eats out of their bowls too.

We finally got a call back from the new Lieutenant over at the sheriff's office. He basically acted like they can't do anything about our neighborhood drug problem! Give me a break. He said probably the best they will be able to do is increase the patroling, try to make some arrests, and that will probably quiet the drug activity down....for a bit, but they'll just start up again. He said he'll look into it and get back to us in a week. He said if the county had drug laws like the city did, they'd have them busted easily, but since we are out in the county, they don't have as many avenues to get the busts as the city cops do. I guess the city cops can get search warrants and probable cause easier than the county can.

I just need a break from DH! Ready to go back to work at the office tomorrow, LOL.

Monday, November 10, 2014

To FSA or not to FSA

I go through this every year this time. Most years I haven't bothered with it. It's too hard to estimate what my out of pocket medical expenses might be for a year in advance. So, of course I always way underestimate, but if I ever had money left in there to loose, I (mentally!) would lose it! Granted, now there is a new rule that some can be carried forward to the next year.  But, it's a confusing amount! You decipher an excerpt  from the email we got from our benefits coordinator:

The 2014 health FSA plan has a carryover feature which allows you to rollover up to $500 of unused health FSA funds to the following plan year (2015).  If you have a balance of less than $200 remaining in your 2014 health FSA plan this will be forfeited at the end of the plan year and not carried over due to administration costs.   Unused health FSA funds in the excess of $500 remaining in the account after the end of the plan year will also be forfeited.   Unused Dependent Care funds will also be forfeited at December 31, 2014.   

Confusing much? So, what I get is that if I have $199 or less left in my account I loose it all. If I have between $200 and $499, I get to roll it all over and if there is any amount over $500, I lose that amount. Ok, let's make sure we can plan that one out. Dumb. I don't have any left in my FSA this year (thanks to all the dental work) but I can tell you that if I had ended up with $199 left, I'd be a bit bent out of shape that if I had had one more dollar left, I'd have the money to roll over.

With our one income and tax breaks with DD in college, my tax rate isn't super high, but I at least save about 12% in taxes, which means I saved about $160 this year by using the FSA. Is it worth the hassle? They have made it easier, with the debit card, but half of the things I charged to it required me to find my receipt, scan it, and email in a copy to verify the charge.  My conservative estimate for 2015 would be about $1600.  I guess, I'll probably do it again this year. I know I am going to have some more dental work that will probably exceed my benefit limit, along with I will probably make another eye doctor visit near the end of next year and most likely need new glasses/prescription.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Electricity hog

We've had 2 months of electricity bills since DD has been gone. Our October bill was 18% less than the previous year and the bill I just got today was 23% less than last years bill. Our monthly billings vary in the amount of days in the billing cycles, sometimes it's 30, sometimes its 28 and sometimes it's 35. I thought maybe the difference from the previous year was different amounts of days, but each billing cycle had the same amount of days as the previous year.  So, I'll take the $26 in lower electricity bill this month!  What a little electricity hog she must be. LOL

She is home for a long weekend, through Tuesday, so I am very happy :-)  Not for sure what all our plans are. Some birthday celebrating, some shopping and a little visit to the cemetery abbey to leave some flowers for my grandparents at the little niche their ashes are in.

It was not a fun trip to pick her up! She has her car, but it's been having some more problems, so she decided to drop it off at our friends shop (the one who did all her engine work). So I left work at 2:30 yesterday afternoon to drive to his shop which is about halfway between her school and my work (the opposite direction of my house). It took me an hour and 15 minutes to go the 45 miles to his shop to meet up with her. It then took us almost 3 hours to drive the 84 miles back home! And that was even getting to use the car pool lane. Just beyond ridiculous.  Worth it to see her and have her home, though.  And we know her car is in good hands, with someone we totally trust to fix it right and not charge her an arm and a leg.

I'm working from home today and this afternoon is an appointment to get our hair trimmed and then get the grocery shopping done.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Birthday shopping

I got out early yesterday morning (well, by 9:30) to go do some shopping for DD's upcoming 19th birthday.  She'll be home next weekend, for a long weekend, and I don't want to take away time from her to go shopping then.  She gave me a few ideas.  I ordered the keyboard she wants for her ipad mini and a little crocheted coffee mug "cozy" from Etsy.  I had $15 in Amazon credits from Swagbucks, so the keyboard was $12 and the mug cozy was less than $10 with shipping. The other thing she wanted was a throw blanket, something like the woven/loose knitted style one I have in my bedroom for naps. I've looked at 3 stores and so far no luck. Everything is those soft microfiber type material.  Guess I'll have to look online and see if I can find one for Christmas.

Instead I got her a lightweight hooded jacket in black from Kohl's. She mentioned she wanted a new ring. Nothing fancy or expensive, but in size 5, rather than her usual purchase of size 6. Well, 5 is a lot harder to find. I found a few rings at Kohl's in size 5, but didn't like any of them.

So, I just kept looking around and found this necklace ~

Ok, I didn't pay $250! But it was on sale and another 15% off, so I paid $85 for it.

I'm not sure if I have mentioned our "owl issue" yet. Since about a month before she left for school we both started seeing owls everywhere. It was happening to both of us. Every time she or I looked on Pinterest, owls would pop up. Every trip to a store we'd see something with an owl on it. Now that Christmas decorations are out, I'm even seeing owl Christmas things! I don't ever recall seeing owl Christmas stuff before.  Apparently owls symbolize a big change is coming in life. We say it's a message from Great Grandma, saying she is watching over us :-)

My grandparents collected owls. DD doesn't remember Great-grandpa, but she was really close to Great Grandma, who passed away a little over a year ago. So, I decided to get her this cute owl necklace. Do you know how many owl things I saw on my shopping trip this morning? An owl coffee mug at BB&B, a sweater with on owl on it at Ross, then an owl necklace at Kohl's (not the above). I was going to get the first necklace. It was only $25 and cute, but then I saw this one and it's so much more dainty and feminine (and better quality).

I went over my $100 budget for her birthday.  I spent $155 total, but I did also get $20 in Kohl's cash back, so $135 really.  I can live with that.

I was gone a couple of hours and glad to get back home. Usually traffic doesn't get bad on Saturdays until after 10:30am or so, but it was already bad. I had run out of the little filters I use in my Keurig adapter, so it wouldn't brew. I really wanted some coffee and I still had a few dollars left on a Starbucks gift card and decided to go through the one that has a drivethru on my way to BB&B. The car line was so long, so I decided to to in. Long wait there and I asked for a tall white mocha. Usually they ask if you want whip and if they don't ask they assume you want it, since I didn't say no whip. Didn't get whip and it also just tasted terrible :/  Then when I was trying to leave Ross an elderly lady had a cart full of bags. The carts have this tall pole sticking up on them and the pole was too tall to go out the door. The security guy said, "oh mam, the carts won't fit thru the doors". But she just kept trying, blocking the doors, and I'm standing behind her wanting to get out! Finally, she figured out it wasn't going to work and moved out of the way.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Our neighborhood drug scene

Yesterday was a short day at work. We surpassed our monthly sales goal (getting sooo close to our annual goal and possible bonus!) that the owners let us shut down 2 hours early. Woohoo!

DH and I been spending the time trying to get some resolve for our excessive traffic to the house at the end our our private road for 3 houses.  It is now the end of the month and our camera recorded over 800 instances of people coming to this house - either in vehicles, on bikes or walking. Just in one month! All stay only minutes and leave.  Several cars go in and out numerous times a day, stay minutes, leave for 10-15 minutes and come back. Repeat over and over.  Several of these cars visit both the house on our street and then go to the drug house behind us.

We do everything we can think of and that is suggested by the police.  We report all the activity to the county drug tip online reporting almost daily. When the activity gets us on overload and it's 2 am or they are racing up and down our private little street, we call the non-emergency dispatch line to report it (I'd say on average a couple times a week). We have installed a security camera system. We have installed more (expensive LED) lighting on our garage that is near the street. We have put up signs around the neighborhood to call the police on all the suspicious activity, etc.

Surprisingly the summer wasn't quite so bad - not that is was good, but it wasn't crazy excessive. Not so, the past couple of months. The house has traffic to and from it non-stop now - averaging 30+ a day and 1000 a month. It seemed to coincide with the kids starting school again and the youngest (approx 16) who now attends an "alternative" high school for 2 1/2 hours each morning, when he goes. It also coincided with the return of the 19 year old son at the exact same time. I know he is a huge reason of the increased traffic, added on to the 16 year old son now getting involved and all the lowlife's he hangs out with at his new alternative high school.

Just the past few weeks there has been a camouflaged painted pick up that goes in and out on average 12-15 times a day. He comes in for a few minutes, leaves for 10-15, same old story. DH had a hunch this morning so he drove over to the alternative high school. Sure enough this pick up, along with several other cars we see go in and out all the time, is parked in the school lot. And sure enough, after they get out at 10:30 this morning (they have to go to school a whole 2 1/2 hours a day!) the pick up has been in and out of here a bunch of times.
DH called and spoke with the security person at the school, just making them aware that our neighbor kid and driver of this truck our is in our neighborhood most likely selling drugs, etc.

Week before last DH went over in person to the sheriff precinct to talk with the new lieutenant. He wasn't available, but the next day a Sargent called back and said they were aware of the neighborhood issue, but offered no resolve and we've heard nothing back since he got to hear our story/complaints.

We called in suspicious activity 3 times between  yesterday afternoon and 2 am this morning. Not once did a deputy come.  One car didn't have a front license plate, one no tail lights. Certainly cause to stop them.

He wrote another letter (it's been since last winter) to our county district councilman, asking for help and I wrote one more LONG report to the drug tip line. I said we are fed up beyond our patience with this, nothing is being done and it's been a year now.

DH called our power company yesterday and we will spend $250 to have them come and put another street light up on our street.

My good neighbor (who mostly buries his head in the sand and lets us do all the work to stop it) called this morning to suggest writing the councilman. I repeated more than once that HE also needs to write. That it coming from 2 neighbors will have much more impact to get help. He also offered to pay for half of the street light, but we said no. He paid for the one that is between our properties and didn't let us chip in (several years ago). He also said that he plans to put up a security camera at this light pole, something else to make them aware we are fed up. Only problem there is its not a wireless camera and he said he has to dig a trench back to run the knowing him it will never get done. He is the biggest procrastinator I know!

1000 incidents of traffic to this one house a month is beyond ridiculous! Even the last deputy DH talked to on the phone said if the narcotics unit was working it they'd have it taken care of in a week or two.
So, we are really hoping the councilman can put some pressure on the sheriff's office to get this place worked and busted. I told DH if they ever finally bust these people and there are some arrests I'm letting off fireworks to celebrate.  These people just need to go away.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stop poking me!

I had my annual physical this morning, so I had fasted and was hungry! No issues or concerns. Apparently gynecological exams are now on a 3 year basis, so I am good on that until next year.  I lost 4 pounds from last year (yay!). Got my flu shot, so there was the first poke.  Now that I am over 50, a colonoscopy was recommended to be done sometime before I am 60..... I think I'll wait a bit doesn't sound very appealing.....I'll schedule my mammogram for next month and be done with that. Then it was time to draw blood. I always have one arm that never works, but can never remember which one it is to tell them.  Then I remembered how awful it was last year when they tried to draw blood! I had 2 pokes in one arm, one in the other and 2 in my hand. 

Well, this visit to the blood lab chair was proving to be no different. She could not find a good vein in either arm (at least she didn't try poking) and decided to do my hand, but that wasn't working either. She got a little blood in one vial (and needed to fill 3) and stopped because it was coming out too slow and was starting to puff up. Then she asked for help from the other guy. Well, as I have experienced in the past, it really does depend on who does it. Right away he found a vein in my right arm and had her use the smallest butterfly and within a minute it was done.

DD has been sick since yesterday. Sounds like the flu. Started with a sore throat and then vomiting. It's so hard to be 130 miles away and have her be sick. I know she just wanted to be home and in her own bed.  She is feeling a bit better this morning and I told her to get some plain crackers (which surprisingly, she already had some) and gatorade. Her roommate is going to bring her some gatorade when she is done with classes this morning.  Poor thing, she is so rarely sick and I know she felt miserable yesterday and last night.  She hates being sick and had to reschedule her appointment to discuss her major application with the department head and an informational meeting last night about the major. She did email someone this morning about it to ask if there was any way she could get the information that was presented and that sounds like it will happen.

We are having a potluck lunch at work tomorrow, so I have signed up to bring my yummy 4 cheese and bacon mac & cheese.  I am so going to pig out on all the food tomorrow :-)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Target deal

I got myself to Target today to get in on the last day of the buy $15 in personal care products and get a $5 gift card back. DH uses SpeedStick deordorant and I also had buy one get one free coupons. I purchased 4, got 2 free and a $5 gift card! $7.98 for 4 sticks of deodorant and a $5 gift card. Good deal in my book.

I was also there to pick up some Dawn dish soap for DH (car/parts washing) and there was a deal for a $5 gift card if you bought Dawn and Cascade dishwasher tabs, so since I needed the Dawn anyway and can certainly use the dishwasher tabs, I got those and another $5 gift card.

No problems using coupons there the last couple of times I have been there. I make sure that crabby cashier isn't there (she hasn't been) and picked the line both times of the super sweet and friendly cashier who is there most times :-)

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's a Dog Day :)

We have 2 dogs.  Or I should say 2 dogs have us. One is a yellow lab mix. A big 88 pound sweet, lazy couch potato. He fits right in with our lazy, couch potato lifestyle. A little over 2 years ago we decided to get a second dog. We wanted another lab mix, thinking we'd have another sweet and mellow dog. DS wanted a chocolate type lab, but we ended up with a black lab mix. It was someone nearby who advertised the puppies on Craigslist as non-registered purebred lab. The lady said her lab had puppies with their neighbor's black lab. We just paid a $100 for the pup, but the "purebred" was of no big concern one way or the other and we didn't really think he probably was anyway.

We brought home this little guy:
Over the next couple of months, as he grew, anyone who saw him (vet's, etc) thought he must have some Newfoundland in him. His paws were huge and his ears were getting shaggy fur.  As he grew up he grew into this beautiful animal:

Certainly not a purebred black lab, LOL. (not that we ever thought he was). And not big and bulky like a Newfie. He's got a big bushy tail and long sleek fur. One day I was looking at some picture of dogs and came across a "Flat Coated Retriever". They look exactly like our dog! And the description of this breed of dogs personality fits our pooch to a T.

He is very sweet, but he is NOT a lazy couch potato. He is lively and energetic and needs lots of activity to burn off his energy. Thankfully we have over an acre of land and he can run and chase balls, squirrels, etc, until he is tired out. The personality of Flat Coated Retrievers is that of a "Peter Pan". They just don't really grow up. Wooo doggie! that is our dog! He is almost 2 1/2 years old now and just a fun loving dog. One of his nicknames is "Fun Bobby" ("Friends" fans will recognize the name). The breed website says they "retain these qualities as well as his youthfully good-humored outlook on life into old age".

Even though we are not active folks, this dog fits into our lives. He makes us laugh, he makes us get out of the house several times a day to throw him one of his dozens of tennis balls around the place. As long as he is exercised at least a couple of times a day he is well mannered and stays out of trouble. And, fortunately with DH home all the time and me home all but 3 days a week, he gets lots of the attention he needs. He would definitely not be the type of dog you could leave alone all day while you are at work. He would go crazy with boredom.

He is also a very good alarm dog, and while not aggressive at all, he has a very loud scary bark. Last night was a good example. He sleeps out in the living room, either on the floor next to the couch, or on the couch. At 2 am he lets out a single loud bark. DH gets up to look out the window (as druggies are always walking past our house at all hours of the night) and he starts barking more, so DH lets both dogs outside for a minute. It must have been nothing serious as they came right back in. Fun Bobby comes to my side of the bed (he's tall and his nose is level with my head on my pillow) and pokes his head into my neck, so I give him a snuggle and say "good dog". He then proceeds to climb up next to me, so I skooch over, give him some snuggles and belly rubs, thinking he'll stay just a few minutes and leave, like is his usual M.O. But he falls asleep next to me with his head on my pillow. After about an hour of this I am hot and can't move, so I tell him to get down. He does and takes 2 steps and starts to crawl back up near the foot of the bed. I say ok, thinking he'll sleep at the end of the bed. As I turn myself over and lay back down he plops down right next to me and we end up just like we were before I kicked him out of bed, only we just switched sides!  Ah well, I let him stay. He never sleeps with us, so figured he must have really wanted to for some reason.