Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Late Christmas present number 2

Well, as I've already posted, "A" more than made up for missing several of the past Christmas presents, Birthday presents, etc... by buying me an hour or two of maid service a couple of weeks ago. This week came present number two.... a wireless network.

During November "a"s dad asked me if there was something that was on my list of items I'd like to get "a" but maybe thought it was too expensive or more than I wanted to spend, and he'd either get it for him or we could go in together on it. The minute he said that, all I could think (but thankfully kept from saying) was "mommy needs a new wireless network at home"! Routers aren't the most expensive things out there, but given I had a working wired network, and way too many expenses on my hand, plus outstanding debt, etc... etc... I couldn't justify spending the money on a router even though I dreamed of taking advantage of my wireless work laptop being wireless.

The router arrived today, and "A" and I struggled and struggled with it. We could get the laptop and his hard-wired pc to recognize the network and speak to each other, BUT, neither of us could access the internet. I was thinking there was some configuration number/address/password that I shouldn't have thrown away that I would need to get the modem to recognize the router, "A" was convinced it was a setting within the router that wasn't quite right. After he messed with it for about twenty minutes, I took over... reset everything back to default; then I went in and put the security back on it right away (would you believe there are a dozen wireless networks that I can find from my apartment?... not very strong, and smartly password protected, but wow... with that many wireless networks, I didn't want to leave ours without password protection for long)... then I spent a good thirty minutes waiting on hold for the help desk. During the wait, the aweful music would periodically get broken by a not-so-helpful voice asking us if we were having issues with internet connectivity and to reboot the modem. "A" was insisting that if they guy came on and told us to reboot that he was going to hang up the phone on me. But, techies that we both are, we didn't reboot the modem... guess what we needed to do to get it to work? reboot the modem - LOL! Guess we were just being too stubborn. Good news is that that's all it took.

I am now sitting at the far end of the apartment, sitting on the bed, cuddling with "a" before he finally crashes for the night... and blogging.... from my bed.... how cool is this???

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Not having to wait until April

Well, "A" called in and found out that he doesn't have to wait until April. He basically called the county and found out that all he has to do is pay off his fines (which his boss is lending him the $1000 that will take), get his SR-22 (which he hasn't gotten the quote on), and pay $200 to get his license back and take the tests. He's hoping to have the license by Friday and go car shopping with me this weekend. He doesn't qualify at his bank, but that doesn't mean he can't get a loan at a dealership... he wants me to co-sign... the only thing he doesn't get is that even worse than no credit is really, really bad credit. I'm making payments on all my debts but because over five of my creditors each think they want a payment of around $500-$600 each every month, that's not working. Good news is that I've gotten my expenses down to a point where I can afford to pay $1600 a month towards my debt, bad news is thta about $1100 of that is currently going towards the creditor who decided to get a garnishment and the other $500 is going towards my car payment. I borrower a couple hundred dollars from Adam so I can make minimal payments to my other creditors, which only p*sses them off, but eh, I'm trying.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"A" - still working!

He's making decent money (although barely above minimum wage, with the hours... it's adding up!). He LOVES his work. He has a lot of authority and is given the freedom to do things himself without being monitored constantly. His boss is starting to teach him how to "understand" the sales and register reports to understand the system better and catch thieves (which there's been two fired already). His boss now has a new 'task' - he wants to buy "A" a car (and then deduct payments from his paycheck)... so that he can give rides to employees struggling to get into work and from store to store to cover other employees who call in sick, etc. Now, he's not even eligible to try to get his license back until April - and I'm SERIOUSLY against having the temptation of having a vehicle before he can drive it legally. But, other than that, it's a good offer. And I can't imagine there are many who work at a gas station that get offered this.

On the good news front - he's dating older women (older than him by a few years even?) and he's paid $700 towards his fines. He's not out of debt by any means, but he's at least working on it now, which is the first time in a year. AND he makes enough money to have some cash in his pocket. He's feeling pretty good about it all... I'm still the nervous nelly. I'm trying to help him see the reason he needs to get debt free and maybe savings while he's got no living expenses so that if something happens again, he's got a little cushion. That said, my cushion has gone so far away, it's not even funny. I'm still going to be garnished from my pay check for at least another three months (we're talking about a third my take home pay) - so thankfully I've got a tax refund coming. Issue is that I can't afford groceries without "A"s help... but hey, so be it. If I have to borrow money from him, I have to. It's not like I won't be able to get back on my feet either. And thankfully the timing is right, we're not both at the bottom at the same time, huh?

Taking it day by day

The last couple of weeks have been really rough, and I've been taking it very slowly and just one day at a time. Two weeks ago "a" was sick, the following Monday I missed work as I was feverish and in and out of things all day. Tuesday (btw this is the week of the layoffs...) I had to work from home as "a" took a turn for the worse... ended up with a sinus infection and taking meds...

Wednesday I only worked until about 11:30 as I had a dentist appt for a root canal (of all things). Thursday there was an ice storm. Friday I was finally back in the office to hear the layoff new... btw although my fever was gone, the cold wasn't.... I've only been squeaking my way through the days with a rough voice, sore throat, sinus pain & pressure... etc. It stunk. Spent the weekend pretty laid back... but the following week... although free of all the "stuff" that fills my day, I've come home every day after work and just crashing. I've been grumpy and moody (pms) besides the tired and sick... just miserable. I spent the whole day yesterday in bed and it felt SO GOOD! Today, I'm not doing anything amazing, but getting out of bed and blogging and washing a load of clothes feels a little like a small miracle given how I have been feeling. Thankfully, I'm finally feeling like I'm going to get over this cold after all.

Yesterday my period finally started and I spent the entire time struggling and spent most of my day with a heating pad. I'm finally going at the end of the week to see what options I have. My last gyno pretty much threw out any option other than hysterectomy including ovaries... but since I can't do HRT, I am SO not ready for instant menopause. Maybe in the past I couldn't even think about it as an option... however, as things keep getting worse and worse... I'm starting to think about it. Just not sure that I can handle it, but then again... here I am suffering anyway about two weeks out of every month not including the PMS ... and sooner or later I am going to go through menopause too... do I really want to endure what I'm enduring and still go through menopause without HRT? I am at least open to now thinking about it.

Given that my problems are EXTREME bleeding - like I can only wear overnights now, and I have to change them every three hours(thank you warfarin); EXTREME cramping (thank you endometriosis AND fibroids)... I can't take midol nor anything with ibuprofen in it (thanks again warfarin)... add to it getting LONG periods about twice a month... and I pretty much am in hell. But, it doesn't stop there, oh, no. Of course not. I get serious diahrea every single time I get my period. It starts a day or two before my period, and continues through my entire period... (no wonder I'm iron deficient and etc...) and now? Now, I also get serious nausea with it. Yes, that means I'm in the bathroom more than any other room of my house now. I can barely keep anything down, AND everything I eat exits one way or the other about ten minutes after I eat.

It's been getting worse and worse... but to be honest, considering everything else I've been going through - it was low on my list of complaints for a long time. Now that my health is starting to behave itself and I am now able to function, I now have the "capacity" to do something about this. I used to take birth control pills to avoid having my cycle every 14 days... but those are out; as are HRT with my clotting risks... there are some other procedures that might help with the bleeding, but most of them won't help with endometriosis... and just from my web searches so far, it seems a lot of the non-surgical treatments for it are also not advised if you are at risk for clotting.... yeah. But, who knows, maybe my gynecologist will be up on the latest of late options and can come up with a good solution. I can only hope.

Friday, January 18, 2008

On the work front

I've just survived a LARGE reduction in staff on the project I'm on. Although the company does seem to be faring well with the housing foreclosure nightmare and economic downturn... they do have to (understandably) reduce some of the big spending around advancing future development to a point. The project is by no means cancelled, but the budget has been dramatically reduced. They are now working through the re-prioritizing of what can we now deliver by when given reduced staff and funds.

Our department of only eight lost only one, and a correlating department did lose at least three out of the five (bigger loss!), but layoffs done there's another big change a-foot.

My division is being eliminated and sections of the teams are being absorbed into other departments and corporations. Good news is I still get to keep my job, with the majority of my great co-workers and awesome boss. Bad news is that this will be the fourth company paying my salary doing the EXACT same work for the EXACT same project within three years ... initially I was a contractor, then I was hired by one corporate entity within the large financial conglomerate.... but since I was only on "loan" out of my department... I got transfered to the division that now no longer exists... which was under a different corporate entity. Now, the division absorbing our section of the work is going to a third corporate entity... still same Employer "in effect"; same pay; benefits; job title; so only a little is going to change, but, eh, I still have a job. I'm certainly not complaining as much as just wondering how all of this looks over the long run for "longevity".... starting to feel like the unwanted step-child - you know? LOL!

Few enough bragging moments

OK, as you know, my opportunities to brag about "A" are few and far between. Things have been going well, although, as unfortunately almost always... I tend to "just wait for the breaking point" where I expect it to end.

Remember the suggestion of a cleaning crew coming in? I did talk with "A" about the fact that unless we pick up after ourselves, they really weren't going to help. And I suggested that he at least wait and give me time to get the living room picked up enough for them to come in and do half the apartment.

Well, he did more than one better than that. He picked up the living room enough that they could come in and clean. And he had them come in to clean so he could suprise me this evening. I walked in just as they were gathering up their tools after cleaning half my apartment. SUPRISE! And not the nasty kind of suprise he usually gives me. Stress free suprise even. Pretty exciting!

In addition, he shopped around on-line and found a wireless router as I had told him my "mommy wants a wireless network" hint before Christmas. I feel guilty letting him pay for both, but that doesn't mean I'm ready to tell him not to. I'm going to enjoy it for this weekend. And it's SO nice to come home to even a half-clean apartment.

So, continuing my project of de-cluttering, and keeping things up, we are truly making real progress in the apartment at the long-term "keeping it clean" process that I want to make a normal part of our life.

Issue is that ideally I would also have my Roomba repaired and maybe buy a scooba to help out with the automation of the process. Right? I'm not going to hint at the scooba for Christmas, maybe that could be next year's Christmas present to myself. We'll see.

In the meantime, consider "A" in my brag book officially --- for at least a week! LOL!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Now,it's working for Phil, can it work for me?

A personal trainer has helped Phil tremendously... I can't afford a personal trainer... or can I? ... Here's a web-site with a "virtual personal trainer"... the COOL thing is it comes with a heart rate monitor (with that estimated calorie counter thingee that sounds sooo cool). YES, I'm such a nerd.

I think the cost of the whole program with my $30 FlyLady discount is probably cheaper than the heart rate monitor alone. Just don't know that it's worth my precious few spending bucks when I've tightened by money belt so much to deal with financial issues. So, I'm going to sit and think on it for - a month, maybe two.

http://www.momentumfs.com/

But, honey, cleaning ladies only clean!

OK, my son has only fallen down on one part of the bargain he gets by living with free room and board... he isn't helping with cleaning the house. Admittedly, he's working a ton of hours (over 60 this week alone); and with the odd hours, he can't very well clean when he gets home at 1:00 am. He's also picked up what I consider a nasty habit... but hard to discourage when he's so damn lucky. I think my mother is looking over his shoulder and he's inherited her winning streak. He's playing pull tab lottery tickets. He's won over $50 over what he's paid each and every day... first day he won around $58, next day about $75, next day about $120, and today another $100. Since he was playing on his own in the store he works in... and although he's doing it very legit... I've told him he should make the policy that someone else does the cash payouts for him so that no one can every come back and accuse him of cheating the system or pulling a fast one.

So, between that and the last check, he's got enough to pay towards his debt and have "money to play with". Problem is that he's going to keep gambling since he's winning, and it's terribly easy for him to get 'addicted' to anything. But, how can you argue with him when he spends $5-$10 and wins over $100?

But, that said, he's decided he's going to give me a "present" to make up for all the times he hasn't bought me Christmas and Birthday presents -- which is pretty much ever since my mother stopped buying them on his behalf to give to me... and he wants to hire a cleaning service. What he doesn't get is that cleaning services to not pick up or organize the clutter in your house. When we clean 90% of our time is spent putting shit away! And that's not what a cleaning service does. So... I've talked to him about my "flying" and I'm bargaining for 15 minutes of his day once a day to "tackle" as much as we can in a given room... not to clean it, but to get the shit that doesn't belong in that room tackled. We did the dining room today. And the one thing that HAS to stay for now is his computer, as I don't have my desk cleaned up enough to put it there... and haven't tackled the 'what to do' with the burnt mother board and case. If things go as planned, long-term, I'll buy myself a laptop or at least get my old laptop back from the people he had lent it to ... as it was tecnically only a loaner... we'll see, I'm sure they don't want to give it up.

But, we did manage to finish the dining room together in under our 15 minutes. It will probably take two go's at the living room, so two days from now, we'll have finished enough that we could have the cleaning crew at least hit the kitchen, dining room & living room. Save the two bedrooms and two bathrooms for their next trip. Issue is that honestly, cleaning isn't a pain if you don't have to deal with the clutter. So, that's my goal. De-clutter and keep it that way doing it the flylady way, then if someone were to do the first-pass cleaning (though honestly, money would probably be better spent with carpet cleaners)... then my new "process of cleaning" should maintain it! Here's HOPING!

Not sure if we'll still do the cleaning people, but, I do know they won't touch the place until it's pickedup... so at least now, it's out... and then the real question is if it's really going to be needed? Not that I'm turning away a free cleaning service completely... I still think it's awesome idea. I just want to make sure that we don't just pick a bunch of stuff up and stick it somewhere only to have it come drown us again... you know?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nasty virus

Well "a" was out for the count all weekend, then I was down and out on Monday, but "a" seemed to be feeling better. All good, right?

Ah, no. Last night he was up and down all night long and his "ear hurt" and his "stomach hurt" and he didn't sleep at all. Thankfully, I felt fine last night and this morning, so we ran off to the Doctor's. They tested him for strep throat, gave antibiotics for the sinus infection that was hurting his ears (?!?), and told me to push the fluids and the tylenol.

I ate some dinner at 12:30, by 1:00 I was ready to either attach myself to the toilet or pass out, anything rather than stay vertical. I drank a ton of water and laid down, and by 2:00 I felt fine again?... I just hope I stay "fine"... poor "a" has been so miserable, he's been sleeping off and on all day... still not up and playing with his toys and barely eating anything. You know if he's not up to eating pizza, he's SICK. poor baby.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What to do?

My beloved roomba has died... "a" picked him up to show me something, and then dropped him. And he snapped the front wheel assembly. I'm thinking a memorial service would be nice. iRobot no longer sells parts for this model (he's an older model, but worked so well)... and I did find parts online, but it's $50 not including tax nor shipping for the new wheel, and I can buy a new one with warranty for $99. So it just doesn't seem fair to spend that much to repair my little pride & joy. I have to admit, I'm almost tempted to eat nothing but mac & cheese (you have NO idea how much I hate that stuff) for a month, if it meant I could have my buddy back. I tried using superglue to fix him up, but the wheel wouldn't quite "snap" into place... by the time I applied enough pressure to try to get it "snapped" in, it fell apart again. I tried to run him without the wheel, but he just gets "lost" on only two wheels.

It's just so sad to hear him chirp his little "help me" song every couple of minutes whenever he tips over to the side missing the wheel. I'm afraid I'm just going to have to put him out of his misery.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Unending Piles of Laundry

OK - so this weekend's plan is to get about $40 in quarters and do laundry all day today and tomorrow! Yikes! It's not the end of the world, but it sure seems like it! But, I am committed to knocking down the mountain of laundry that's been sitting around smelly for far, far too long. About a year ago, we went through several blankets a week/sheet sets, etc... and I had extra stored, so I just pulled the extra out. And left the rest sitting. First it was piled in my bedroom... I decided to move it out to the dining room so I couldn't ignore it. But, I could, to a point. But the point has come! I am the laundry Queen and I will defeat the mountainous pile of laundry.

Friday, January 11, 2008

De-cluttering

Well, in my flying lessons, they've got some helpful advice... you can't manage nor organize nor clean around clutter. So clutter has to go.

Every time I try to tackle a lot of clutter or to clean up big messes... I have to "work myself up to the task" -- set aside a lot of time, etc.

BUT, that's not the Flylady way... they do de-cluttering 15 minutes a day throughout the month. They pick one room at a time, they start at the entrance of the room and work their way around the room clock-wise. They don't let you skip the "hard parts", just tackle the "bigger parts" in small pieces... 15 minutes at a time. The key here, is you get rid of the "toss" pile immediately. AND get rid of the "put somewhere else" pile quickly... AND get rid of the "Give away" pile immediately. Since I've been on again, off again using the free cycle site... that's actually been really helpful. So far I've gotten rid of: three large boxes of children's toys, a winter coat I've moved five times and haven't worn for twelve years, a camera tripod I used when I was selling on eBay but don't need anymore, an old stack system stereo, about twenty pounds of legos, and so forth.... YAHOO! Plus I feel really good putting these things to good use.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

FLYing (well, a FLYbaby, anyway)


Believe me? it's SHINY!

www.flylady.net

p.s., Ignore the fishy, poor guy is in intensive care, hopefully the medicine from the store will clear up his infection.... poor baby.

It's Saturday

And although I know I worked on Monday (at home), it still felt like a deliciously short work week. I could really dig working 3 days, 2 days off, working 3 days!

Anyway, "a" is watching cartoons in my bedroom, I'm spending a lot of time procastinating on my chores by checking emails, reading blogs, etc. And "A" is asleep on the couch. He, is still working 10-12 hour days, but no longer overnights. The system he "corrected" has been implemented in all of the other stores in town. As trainer for the Des Moines area, if there are any new hires, they have to work their first shifts in his store so he can train them. And 'lo and behold, he's been promoted again. He is now store manager at his store, too! Can you believe it?

I'm nervous, the first time something goes wrong I don't want him throwing in the towel... but so far, really awesome!

Oh, and he decided that it was really stupid having a work schedule that didn't correlate to the payweek... so he created a new schedule that allowed him to put down each employees hours AND also have them track their actuals.... AND, he added a signature spot so that the one sheet does the work of three from their existing system. The division manager made copies and passed them out to every store. Makes "A" happy which makes me happy.

Work is going well, we still have work to do, but it's much quieter, no need for overtime any more... although it's a bit tense. Everyone knows that there are possibilities of lay offs, but not a lot of talking about it, almost as if we can ignore it and it'll go away. I LOVE working for Stacy and Cecille, but I know Stacy's already been offered a chance to go somewhere else if something happens... I'd hate to have anything happen to our group. We all get along really well and it's so nice when you can find a group to work with that you can really feel comfortable with.

On the home front. I'm trying something new. This is the end of week one of my "FLYing Lessons"... Basically I found a web site that promises to teach you "cleaning" habits that will de-clutter and clean your house up AND keep it that way... that last part is what always gets me. I have no problem cleaning house, it's the fact that I think I try to over do it, get certain rooms completely spotless before moving onto the next target... and by the time I've reached, say, room 3, room 1 has started to get messy... by the time I'm done with room 3, room 1 is a disaster, so it feels like a never ending cycle. Then something happens, either I get sick, or fed up, or something... and I stop cleaning for a few days... and the entire house becomes a sty.

So, here we are, at the end of week one. Not one room is spotless... but then again, I'm starting with baby steps. According to the web site, your place didn't become a disaster overnight and you can't develop new habits overnight. They seem to have a lot of good, common sense advice and tactics. And it can't hurt. They tell you not to skip ahead or read ahead... which is a bit of a challenge, I must admit. But it's all good. Plus they are full of fun "silly" phrases, which I'm picking up quite fast in spite of myself.

So, progress? LOL - I have the shiniest sink I've ever seen! LOL... that's it... it's been seven days, and I can claim a really, really shiny sink! Why? Because Day 1's task was to "Shine the Sink"... end every day, they have you repeat the previous day task (although albeit, it's easy once it's already clean), and add one more habit. Other habits include reading their emails (hopeless ploy), laying out clothes for tomorrow, wearing your "lace up shoes" all day, etc. It's a free program, and it's not like I'm not trying to clean something everynight after work anyway... it's just that it feels silly to keep cleaning the sink when it's so clean already... when other items need attention to. I'm still trying to do other things and not ONLY what they direct, but, well, like I said, not a lot gained yet! So, clean, my house is NOT... but, I'm not giving up yet, as I am challenging myself to continue this program for three months. If I still don't have any gain, then, eh, what do I have to lose, except for the shine on my sink???? LOL

Now, so as not to overdo things... I'm waiting a couple weeks before exposing "a" to a brand new idea that's supposed to help with little kids keeping their rooms tidy and neat and picking up and putting away toys. I'm so excited. It's the house fairy... apparently Santa Claus has a sister, and she visits the homes of little ones to "inspect" their rooms. For $10 you get 20 'videos' for the little one to watch to start their "belief" where the house fairy introduces herself, teaches them how to pick up, etc. Free website to post pictures of "clean rooms", items to print out from the house fairy, and emails to help keep it going. THEN, if the house fairy pays a little visit and the room isn't super clean, then the only way you know she's been there, is she leaves a little fairy dust (craft glitter)... but, if she's pleased with how clean the room is, well, she likes to leave special treats as a reward (with the tell-tale fairy dust) so you know it's from her. Honestly, "a" does a really good job of cleaning up, when he's MADE to, which is quite an effort and a lot of cajoling or hollering behind it. Once he decides to clean up, he does it well, and with a smile. But, I HATE having to "MAKE" him do it, so, half the time I end up doing it myself. Terrible, I know... It's his room and now that he's getting older he should be able to pick up his toys! So, another week or two into the FLYing Routine and I'm going to introduce this program. The nice part isn't as much the bribing, as it is that it's not ME that's criticizing that his room isn't clean enough, it's the House Fairy... she's the "mean one"... not me. I know, my bad, but hey, I've been the big, bad, mean mommy for 19 years now.... I'm taking the short-cut that's probably going to burn me later and spoil my child. But, there are enough times I have to tell him no, I'd like to find a few times when I can teach lessons and not be mean about it or come off as being mean, anyway.

I'm posting another pic or two up on the knitting blog... I've got a finished baby blanket and another hat finished to go with one of the scarves. Most of these were Christmas presents, still have a few "extras" left over that I think I'll be either donating to Goodwill, or freecycle, or I'll save them till next winter and donate them then.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Starting a knitting blog

OK, I promised pictures... and I am delivering. But I figure since I'm no where near done playing with yarn and since it'll probably bore my one and only reader... I figured I'd start a new blog just for my knitting blog.

http://pennywiseknits.blogspot.com/