I took my truck in the other day for some routine maintenance. Oil change, tire rotation, the usual.
When I dropped it off I mentioned to the service desk that I had noticed that the trim around the back wheel well seemed a bit loose and asked if they could retighten that. No problem. So I sit down to wait.
A half hour later the mechanic comes out.
Mr.Mechanic: “Can we give you a ride home? We’re going to need the truck for at least another 2-3 hours.”
Me: “2-3 hours? I thought the service was only going to take an hour?”
Mr.Mechanic: “Oh, yeah, that part we’re almost done. It’s fixing the trim that’s going to take a few hours.”
Me: “Really?? Isn’t it just tightening a screw or something?”
Mr.Mechanic: “No, it’s held on with double sided tape, so we need to carefully remove it then take all the old tape off. We need to make sure we get all the old adhesive from the tape or the new tape won’t stick properly.”
Me: “I’m sorry, I thought you just said ‘tape’.”
Mr.Mechanic: “Yeah, double sided tape.”
Me: “So… what you’re telling me is that my seventy thousand dollar truck is held together with… TAPE?!?”
Mr.Mechanic: “Ummm… yeah. But it’s double sided tape.”
Me: “Right. My seventy thousand dollar truck is held together with double sided tape…. Exactly how expensive is this tape anyway?”
Me: “Never mind. I’ll bring it back in another day for you to tape it back together. In the meantime I’m going to go buy some 3M stock.”
My poor, poor neglected blog.
I needed to step away from social media for a while to focus on real life for a bit. I didn’t put a big announcement on here, or make a big deal about it, simply because I didn’t know when I would be back (if ever).
Now that V is in school full time (Grade 1! OMG! How did that happen??), I finally feel like I can breathe, regroup, and look back and the chaos that has been this year.
This year started off with my autoimmune disease going from ‘inflamed’, like it has been for years, to ‘oh shit’.
What’s that? You didn’t know I had an autoimmune disease? Huh… I guess I forgot to mention it on here. It’s something I’ve had all my life and so I don’t tend to think about it much. The other reason I don’t tend to mention it, is because most people don’t know this condition is actually an autoimmune disorder rather than a skin condition.
It’s a little thing called Psoriasis. For most people, it’s just minor patches of dry flaky skin that can be treated with cream. For a small number of people (smiles and waves), it becomes a full blown inflammatory condition.
I made the hard decision to start taking a drug called Methotrexate. It’s normally used as a cancer drug and has a list of potential side effects a mile long. For me, though, it has been a great decision. I do experience a few of the side effects on occasion still, after being on it for 6 months now (like nausea and fatigue), but they’re manageable and worth the results. My psoriasis is under control, as is the inflammation that was taking over my body and joints. I have more energy, I’ve been able to come off a lot of my other medications (like some of my blood pressure pills) and I just feel better. I’m kind of kicking myself for not doing this years ago.
To take my mind off all my side effects when I first started taking methotrexate, Bil decided to cheer me up by buying me a new truck this spring.
Yay for diesel engines! (Oh, and husband’s that spoil me rotten!!)
My new truck is big and shiny and does a good job of pulling our 5th wheel. Also, it has a backup camera so I can actually park the damn thing. I love it a lot.
I was especially glad we had it when we managed to evacuate our home and survive what’s being called “The Worst Natural Disaster in Canadian History” this summer.
We live in a small town called High River that was almost completely destroyed by flood waters in June. It was a surreal experience, seeing people being rescued off roofs by helicopter, and being brought out of their homes by giant combines and other heavy equipment (yay for living in a farming community!).
For two weeks we lived at my parents place, not sure if we would have a home to go back to. But we lucked out. The flood waters stopped at the end of our little cul-de-sac. We escaped with no damage (other than having to get rid of our fridges and deep freeze that had been sitting without power for two weeks *gag*).
Most of our friends were not so lucky. They either sustained tremendous damage to their basements (imagine coming home to find water and sludge contaminated with sewer backup that’s been sitting in your house for two weeks *double gag*), or their homes were ‘coded red’, meaning they were no longer fit for human habitation.
The town has come together, though, and slowly people are rebuilding their homes and lives. Experiencing this has been an incredible testament to the strength of character some people possess.
After coming home and settling back in after the flood, we figured the worst was over. Until Mother Nature (that bitch), decided to hit us with a massive hail storm that damaged my new truck (*sob*) and the roof of our house. The good news is that it’s all repairable for the low price of an insurance deductible, which we will gladly pay.
Which brings us to now…
V is settling into Grade 1 after a bit of a rocky start. She’s enjoying her class and looks forward to school each day, which is all I can ask for.
It’s been an interesting year, to say the least. And now that some sort of normal has returned, maybe I can return here.
All my life I have been one of those people that others turn to when things go wrong.
Something not working? See if Jenn can fix it.
Having an issue with someone? See if Jenn will deal with it.
Life falling down around you in tiny itty-bitty pieces? Bring it to Jenn to put back together.
And I don’t mind, for the most part.
I like being able to help. I am a problem solver by nature.
But sometimes it can be an isolating experience.
People go off and leave you holding everything and a roll of duct tape because they assume that you’ve got this.
Or people are suffocating with their attention when they need something. But as soon as they are back on track they disappear into the ether.
And while I’m happy that they’re happy… I does make me wonder why I was the one they turned to. Was it because they knew I’d listen? Offer advice? Do what I could to help?
Or was it because they consider me a friend who has their back.
But if I’m such a great friend… when do these same people start asking how I’m doing?
Because that’s the interesting thing… they never do.
The people who do take the time to ask (and care about the answers) are never the people who expect me to drop everything and fix their lives.
Maybe it’s because those people who want their lives fixed for them are too self absorbed to look beyond what they are experiencing in the moment. I don’t honestly know.
All I know is, if you vanish into thin air,when you finally reappear, don’t expect me to still be standing in the same place.
Friendship has become a word that is lightly bandied around. Connected on twitter? Friend. Added on Facebook? Definitely a friend. Someone you have coffee with once in a blue moon? Well then, of course they’re a friend.
As I get older, though, I find that word much more precious and use it more selectively.
Friends are those people who take the time to understand who I am. This isn’t something that happens in one conversation, or even 10. There are people who have known me for years, and yet really don’t know a thing about me.
Oh sure, lots of people think they know me. But those are the people who scratch the surface of who I am and are content to leave it at that.
And I can’t say I fault them for that.
I am an intense personality.
I live my life with purpose.
I am passionate about the things I believe in and the people I care about.
I am direct in my thoughts, words, deeds.
All that can be a lot for people to take in. Intimidating, even.
So, for them, there is ‘JennLite’. The happy-go-lucky, no cares, no worries, superficial version of me.
But is that me? No.
And if that’s the me you know?
Then you don’t know me at all.
Back to school and back to blogging. I feel like I can be excited about writing again.
I decided to take the summer off to just enjoy the sun, hanging with V, and take time to recharge. It was something I needed. Time to reflect and just….be.
But lots has happened since June.
So here’s a 3mth update:
In June we were worried about V getting for an aide for school this fall. She was doing really well and if she scored too high on her assessments she wouldn’t qualify for that assistance, even though we still knew she needed it to some degree. Turns out we didn’t need to worry. She only scored 5th percentile or below in all her testing. Her fine motor scored less than 1st percentile because of severe behaviour issues during the testing.
Those test results were a bit of a sucker punch. We had watched her improve so much through the year. But we didn’t take into account the growth and improvement that is natural and expected of a kid her age. So, when you factor that in, she’s still sitting about a year behind in her skill set.
Except for reading and computer skills. Those are off the chart. The school has asked for permission to test her reading again when school starts to get a gauge of them. Last fall at the age of 4 she was reading at a solid grade 2 level. They think her level now that she’s 5 is closer to a high grade 3/4 level. Which scares the hell out of me. I was an early reader too, but she’s way beyond where I was at her age.
At least we don’t have any worries about her alphabet skills going into kindergarten.
July was project month. Which including building this behemoth in the backyard.
We started off trying to build it ourselves, with the help of some friends.
Then we got real and called in the experts (aka: My dad and a couple of his buddies).
Without them, I can safely say that swing set would still be a work in progress.
We’re very glad we bought this though. It has an angled ladder with a handle, which allow’s V to climb up on her own. (she can’t manage the more vertical ladders that are on many slides at playgrounds). And having swings in our backyard has really allowed her to work on her core strength and balance. Yay for play that acts as therapy!
We also got her a new wooden playhouse because her old plastic one was too small for her (can we say major growth spurt?). Bil and I built that one ourselves. I won’t show you pictures, though, because it’s a wee bit crooked. I blame warped boards for that. It has nothing to do with our complete and utter lack of building skills.
August was an awesome month. We paid off all our debt (except for the mortgage)!! YAY!!!!
That was an amazing feeling…. for the whole week it lasted.
Because then we went out and bought this:
But we’re super happy to have bought this. We got an awesome end-of-summer deal on it and we’ll have it paid off by the spring.
It means we can actually take camping TRIPS with V, rather than short excursions close to home. This allows us the flexibility of making her meds while we’re on the road and also give us the security of having a power source in case we need to use her nebulizer.
We’re already saving up for a camping trip out to Vancouver Island next summer. Can’t wait to show V the ocean!
And that brings us to September!
School starts tomorrow!! (Me, excited? Naaaaaah)
V has her aide from last year back again, which we’re thrilled about. And now we just wait and see how she handles the first day back!
Hope you all had a fabulous summer too!
One of the reasons I wrote my last post about our experiences with money woes is because of a conversation I was having the other day with my friend Melissa. We were talking about how attitudes towards money have changed from generations before.
So many people we know have been in, or are still stuck in, that money pit. Drowning in debt with no idea how on earth to get out of it.
That is the last thing we want for our kids.
We’ve started already trying to teach Vista about money.
One of the most simple things we’ve done is given V a piggy bank. But when we give her spare change and her first question is always ‘well what can I buy with this’. The answer? ‘Nothing….unless you put it in your piggy bank with your other coins and then you can save up to buy something that you would really like to have.’
So into the piggy bank goes the coins.
But that wasn’t enough. How else could we teach her about earning money? She really doesn’t have the interest in doing chores for reward yet…that’s just not a motivator for her. Then before Christmas when we were sorting through her toys we came across an answer.
Many of her toys were in great condition. So we gave her the option as we went through every toy: Keep, Sell, or Donate. She could keep it and continue to play with it. She could donate it. Or we could try and sell it through facebook/kijiji/craigslist and she could keep any money that was made.
This turned out to be a great incentive for her to get rid of toys she no longer used without a fight. Bonus.
So she has been steadily socking away her money in her piggy bank for the past year. Last month we finally got around to rolling all the coins. When we started rolling we told her she could put half in the bank to save and take half and go to the toy store and buy whatever she wanted.
Well, turns out my kid has been hoarding money. She started pulling out coins from all sorts of containers she had tucked away in her room. Once we hit $200 in coins we nixed the spending half idea and told her she could have $25. And from now on she can buy her own treat from the ice cream truck in the summer.
The trip to the toy store was a money lesson itself. She would pick out something and we would talk about if she had enough money for that item or if it would allow her to have money left over for something else.
But I’ve still been looking for other ideas for how to teach her money management.
Melissa shared with me that one thing they do with her daughter is allow her to work towards earning Webkins stuffed animals. The Webkins have an online app where kids can input a number off the tag of their stuffed animal that allows them to play with and buy things for a virtual animal. But if they want to buy something and don’t have the money they have to do things in the virtual world to earn it.
I thought this was a great way to teach our little geeks.
Another one we found is the iPad app ‘Learning Money with Leo’ (available on iTunes). It’s a Canadian money app put out by Royal Bank that teaches money concepts through games. Kids go through the games (like coin matching, spot the difference, mazes, sorting) and earn reward coins which can then be used to buy stickers from a ‘sticker store’ to create a picture in a virtual sticker book. Want more stickers… earn more coins.
I love that it’s a Canadian app too, so the money pictures and denominations are all Canadian currency.
I wasn’t sure what V would think of this sort of app for learning money, but she actually quite enjoyed it. And this morning when I was buying groceries she was even able to identify the bills I was using, so that impressed me.
So here’s your opportunity to teach your kids about money by winning a $50 RBC VISA gift card from the kind folks at Royal Bank.
All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me how you teach your kids about using money responsibly and/or what are you lessons are you going to pass onto your kids to keep them from falling into the money pit .
The fine print:
- Contest is only open to Canadians (sorry US friends)
- This contest is also running on other blogs. You can enter on multiple blogs, but you can only win one gift card.
- Contest will close on April 18th at 8pm MST.
Disclosure – I am participating in the RBC Learning Money With Leo program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of RBC Royal Bank. I received compensation as a thank you for participating and for sharing my honest opinion. The opinions on this blog are my own.
I’ve always said I’m not one for setting goals. Probably because I hate the thought that there might be a chance I might not accomplishing that goal. (fear of failure much?)
Well, this year Bil and I set a solid goal for ourselves. It’s one we’ve been working on for a while, but we had never really put a timeline to it. Until now.
By December 2013 we will eliminate all debt other than our mortgage and have at least 2 months worth of salary in savings.
That means no more credit card debt. No more car loan payments. Nothing other than a monthly mortgage payment.
Only a few years ago, we were one of those people who lived paycheck to paycheck. We had to prioritize bills because there never seemed to be enough money to pay them all. And worse, it seemed like we had no money and nothing to show for it. We couldn’t understand it. We had a good income, so what was the problem?
It was scary. And the thought of dealing with our money issues made me feel physically ill.
We finally woke up and realized that continuing to do the same thing month to month was obviously not working for us. Duh.
We had to alter how we spent, budgeted, and just generally thought about money. I’m not going to lie… it was really tough at first. But we can see the results and it is such an amazing feeling.
Our first step was to sit down and figure out exactly what we were spending our money on. So for a few months we simply tracked every single dollar we spent in an Excel spreadsheet. And at the end of those months we looked at where all our money was going.
To say it was an eye opening experience was putting it mildly. It wasn’t the bills or big spending that was the issue. It was the $5 here and there and the bank fees for every transaction that were killing us.
The first big change we made was to create (and attempt to stick to) a budget. The key to a good budget, though, is to make it an achievable budget. Rather than just plucking random numbers out of thin air, we looked at our current spending. How much a month did we spend on groceries. How much was going towards gas. What was the average utilities /phone /gas /cable bill. These became the basis for our budget.
Then we looked at personal spending. YIKES. Yeah, that definitely needed a lot of work. So we budgeted an allowance for each of us. We each got a set amount of money each paycheck to do with what we wanted. If I wanted to go for coffee, it came out of my allowance. If Bil wanted to eat out for lunch instead of bringing his lunch to work, it came out of his allowance. If we wanted to buy something completely frivolous…you guessed it… allowance.
This budget was our first step to clawing our way out of this money pit we were in.
As the months went on, I tweaked the budget so it worked for us. I now do the budget every paycheck, but I also budget a few months out. It allows me to play with numbers and see how if we make a purchase now the ripple effect of spending that money is felt for months afterwards. That’s not to say we never buy anything anymore. We just do it when we can afford it, rather than when we want it, now.
But we realized that just budgeting wasn’t enough. It was still too easy to overspend. You want something? Just take out the magic bank card and get it.
So we now do the envelope system.
Every paycheck we pay all the bills for that pay period online. Then anything that we would normally use our debit card for is budgeted and calculated and that money is taken out in cash. We have an envelope for our grocery money, one for gas, another for the ‘pet’ fund to cover their food/vet/grooming expenses. And we each get our allowances in cash. Once the money is gone, there’s no more spending.
It takes a lot more planning (for example, before you leave the house you have to think ‘do I need to get gas for the car’ and grab the money from the gas envelope if you do). But it also makes you MUCH more conscious of your spending.
When I want to buy something and I can look in my wallet and say ‘oh, I only have $20 left to last me another week,’ I might decide that I don’t really need to buy that item after all.
Any money that we might have left over at the end of the pay period from our grocery or gas money is put in our ‘bonus’ jar. We use that money if we want to order a pizza or go out for dinner. It’s our guilt free splurge money. So we have an extra incentive to watch our spending.
The third thing we changed about how we managed our money was how we paid off our debt. Rather than giving a piece of the pie to everywhere we owed, we started using the ‘Snowball method’.
Simply put, you do minimum payments on everything except your smallest debt. Don’t focus on interest rates. Just look at the total amount owed.
Put the most money you can on the smallest debt and pay it off. Then you can take that money and apply it toward the next smallest debt. Each time you pay off a debt you have more money to pay off the next debt because you have the chunk of money plus the monthly payments you were putting on the previously paid off debt.
Making those 3 changes (budgeting, envelope system, and snowball payments) has taken us from barely getting by to always having money in the bank. It also allowed us to buy all the gifts this past Christmas with cash. No more Christmas debt in January! Woohoo!
The biggest bonus? We never fight about money because money is no longer an issue.
It’s also brought us that much closer to being completely debt free … well, other than our mortgage but that will be the next goal we set.
We spent yesterday celebrating Zombie Jesus Day with my family. Vista and her cousin had fun eating copious amounts of chocolate and then screaming like banshees as they ran around the house.
My grandmother was also down visiting. Luckily she’s half deaf so she can just turn off her hearing aides so she doesn’t have to listen to the kids. I’m looking forward to that day.
My grandmother, nephew and Vista. V would be the one with
fake tattoos on her face and hands and trying out the
‘duck lip’ look. Please send help when she’s a teen.
It’s always entertaining having dinner with my family. The evening is always filled with ribbing and jokes at each others expenses. I come by the snark naturally, as evidenced by this conversation…
Dad: Why is it so hot in here?
Mom: It’s not.
Dad: Yes it is. Did you turn the furnace up or something?
Me: I don’t find it hot. I think it’s just fine.
Dad: No… it’s hot in here.
Mom: Are you having hot flashes or something? Maybe you’re going through ‘man-opause’.
Me: *on the floor laughing while my dad glares at both of us*
That right there is love, people.
I’m hopped up on cold meds and my brain is not cooperating when it comes to working so here’s a summary of my life right now (and if it’s rambling and incoherent – please see the ‘cold meds’ part of this rambling and incoherent sentence).
Also, if you’ve eaten any time in the past hour, you may not want to read this because apparently my life borders on the gross and disgusting lately. (WTF universe?)
- V’s asthma appointment went well. They don’t think she has tracheomalacia (yay). But they do think her asthma is causing mucus plugs in her lungs which cause the massive prolonged coughing fits she has. Solution: sit in a bathroom with the shower on cool (not warm, because that might irritate her asthma) to emulate a nebulizer. Now…wouldn’t it make sense to just give us a nebulizer with some saline solution, if that’s the case? But no… go waste water by leaving the shower running for half an hour while you try to keep a kid entertained in there while you sit on the floor without the iPad because, well iPads and water vapor don’t mix. I understand the doctors up here in Canada are anti-nebulizers…. but really? REALLY? So now we are going to try to circumvent the system by ordering a kids nebby from the States and having it shipped up here… if we can find one that’s reasonably priced and will ship to the back waters of Canada.
- After dropping off the half dozen prescriptions from the asthma doc at the pharmacy and picking them up we discovered after giving V one of the chewable meds that they had given us a different kind. I didn’t even look at it closely. I just popped it out of the foil and handed it to her because the box looked the same. Turns out it was orange flavored (bad) instead of strawberry flavored (good). And why was it orange flavored? Because on closer inspection it turns out that the gave us 10mg adult dose pills instead of the 4mg child dose that V is supposed to get. And we gave it to her. And then my head exploded. I wish I could say this is the first time this has happened. But it’s not. We even tried changing pharmacies in the past because it happened way too often at our old one. Why do pharmacies keep trying to over dose my child on her meds? Like she’s not on enough meds to fuck up her system as it is? You have to help by giving her double and triple doses? GAH. And people wonder why we are hyper-vigilant parents. Because shit like this happens the moment we let our guard down. So now I’m waiting for a call back from the pharmacy manager so I can chew them a new one.
- Somewhere along the line I’ve picked up another upper respiratory infection. I think this is the fourth or fifth one this winter (yes, I know it’s technically spring now. Until I see flowers blooming and green grass, it’s winter). I have resisted going to the doctor because I hate being on antibiotics (might come from having anaphylactic allergies to several of them). This one might make me cave and go crawling to urgent care. I hate admitting defeat.
- And because my life isn’t gross enough, I spent yesterday at the vet with one of our dogs to discover he had ripped off the top part of his lower eyelid. How does that even happen?!? *gag* Vet says it should heal over, but he’s on anti-itinflamitories and a cream for his eye for the next week. And we have to keep an eye (*snort*) on it. They gave me a cone-of-shame to put on him so he didn’t paw at it or rub his face on things. Luckily I have The Best Dog Ever and he’s not bothering it at all. He probably just took one look at that cone and went “awwwww hell no”. Maybe he’s smarter than I give him credit for.
Other random thoughts of late:
- I really need to find a spell check for my computer that includes medical terms. I hate it when my computer tells me they’re wrong, has no suggestions for the correct spelling, and then when I check them, they’re actually right. I think I’m going to create a spell checker for special needs parents.
- I do not get the fascination with mustaches, fake mustache pictures, and mustaches on a stick. Do. Not. Get. It…. at all. Am I missing something? Is there some secret mustache society that rules the world? That’s it, isn’t it. It’s not the aliens we have to be afraid of, it’s those mustaches. I always knew Tom Selleck was trouble.
- I also don’t get this new trend of tattoos that look like the skin is peeled back and you can see the muscles underneath. Makes me want to dry heave. If I wanted to see that, I’d work in a morgue.
- More and more of my friends are getting involved in these ‘home party’ based businesses. I’m happy for them, but really, they’re all MLM’s (multi-level marketing) of one sort or another. Then I got to thinking… isn’t drug dealing just a glorified MLM scheme, really? The people at the top make the most money and the farther down the chain you are the less you make. So you have to get more people buying your product so you can make more money and turn some of them into sellers for you so you can move up the chain. *BOOM* I’m pretty sure there’s more money in drugs than in these Mom-based businesses, though. Unless your a Mom-based business who sells drugs – then you’re laughing. Just don’t get involved with a DEA agent. We all know how that turned out for Mary-Louise Parker. (I kid… we all know drugs are bad; say no to drugs; etc. blah blah blah, but I still don’t recommend dating DEA agents… just to be on the safe side).
We have been trying, in vain, to potty train Vista for going on a year now.
To say she’s not on board with it is putting it mildly.
Some days she does great. But we have to be constantly on her, reminding her to go to the bathroom.
And then the arguments start.
Bil was doing the bedtime routine and part of that is getting her to use the toilet before getting her pj’s on.
He took off her diaper (which was dry – yay) and told her to go pee on the potty.
Bil: “Vista, just go pee on the potty.”
V: “No. I don’t have to go pee.”
Bil: “Well, just TRY.”
V: *starts sobbing* “No, because I peed in my diaper…”
Bil: “What? No you didn’t. It was dry. Now go pee on the potty.”
V: *still sobbing* “Then what was that pssssssss sound?”
Bil: *completely bewildered* “What pssssss sound?”
V: “The pssssss sound…. It was the sound of me peeing in my diaper” *cue a fresh round of sobs*
(the kid needs an Academy Award. She can make herself cry at the drop of a hat)
Bil: “Vista…. you did not pee in your diaper. It was dry. Now GO. PEE. ON. THE. POTTY.”
V: “Then what was that psssssss sound? It was….”
Bil: “No! There was no pssssss sound. Your diaper was dry. GO PEE!”
V: “But I don’t have to pee. I peed in my diaper!”
Bil: “You. Did. NOT. Pee. In. Your Diaper. It was dry. If you peed in it, then what happened to the pee? Did it just vanish?”
V: “Yes! It vanished! …… Wait…What’s ‘vanished’ mean?
Meanwhile, I’m sitting in the living room listening to this go down. By the end I think I was laughing so hard I just about peed myself. Hmmmmm…Perhaps I’m not the best person to be trying to potty train my kid after all.