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Friday of last week Thomas and I got into the car to go to the bank, but first we had to search the whole car for the GPS. Then we got in and started backwards, coming to an ugly abrupt stop when the open back car door (his side) hit the edge of the garage. The door is ruined and will have to be replaced. We managed to jam it shut, but it's bent badly enough I'm worried about rain getting in. I have a $1000 deductible on stuff like that, and it'll probably be about that much. Maybe more. If it's a lot more than my deductible, I'll turn it in and let StateFarm pay, but whichever way, it'll cost me the thousand. so there went the "extra" (Ha!) money I was going to spend at a friend moving sale. I really had my eye on her practically new front-loading washer/dryer combo and matching pedestals.
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A short, homemade video using pennies to help you visualize the US government's budget.
http://www.wimp.com/budgetcuts/
Really cool.
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Woo hoo!

Something came of that first pre-bid meeting I went to!  We have a job here in Madison county as a sub for APAC's Birmingham office! It's a small job, ~$12K, gross, of course, out of which come supplies, travel, and three people's wages, not me.  But APAC is a big company, and if they like us, it could mean more contracts!

So Monday, I have to go get L.I.Smith & Assoc. a business license for Madison Co.

A nice way to end the week. And a good reason to have lots of fun at this weekend's camp-out with the Dayton Underground Grotto (DUG), who are coming down to be hosted
by the Huntsville Grotto
at Tumbling Rock Cave preserve.  Several people and my husband, Mark, are already out today doing a cave.  But tomorrow, we are going to do a "pit?" called Valhalla, which is strictly vertical, and open air, so I'll be playing with them.

Anyone waiting on Beta stuff, I'm working on some now, but if you don't get it by 5 p.m. my time (CDT, currently Greenwich -5) then you aren't getting it before Monday.

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There is nothing more demoralizing than a small but adequate income.
Edmund Wilson
US critic (1895 - 1972)

Doggy Day

Jun. 6th, 2009 01:17 pm
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Yes, I just spent 2 hours and $400 at the vet this morning.  I hate walk in clinic, but this is how they punish flakes (like me) who miss their scheduled appointments. 

Katy has to go back Monday and have  a lump under her arm aspirated.  Probably fatty cyst, but just close enough to lymph glands that we need to be sure.  We tried to do it in the office today, but she was very sensitive about it.  Another reason to be at least slightly alarmed.  Of course, since she'll be under, they can go ahead and clean her teeth and cut her nails really good.  Other than the cyst, she's great, maybe 5-10 pounds overweight, out of the 111lbs.  But perky, good heart and lungs, bright eyes, shiny coat, negative on the heartworms.

Rusty is quite well, thank you, and beautiful teeth.  Same all round perky and shiny as Katy; he might also lose a pound or two.

ETA:  Katy's lump is in fact a fatty cyst.  nothing to worry about.
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Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. -- P.J. O'Rourke
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My boys are both Bouncing for Autism this month.

It's a joint fund-raising venture between the Autism Society of America, and the franchise chain, Pump It Up. 

The kids get pledges, and get to bounce to earn them.  Half of the money goes to the National ASA, and half stays right here locally.  It's a shameless fundraiser, but if you're curious, it's also a chance to check out two big pieces of my life, pictures included.  And if you choose to sponsor one or the other of them, that's sublime.


The boys' pages:

www.autism-society.org/goto/Thomas

www.autism-society.org/goto/Shelby


Bureaucracy

Feb. 3rd, 2009 10:37 am
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Oh yes, absolutely.  The way to let a foster parent know that her child has been taken off medicaid is to wait until said child needs meds, and leave the telling to Walgreen's.  And then have to scramble around to come up with some alternative besides making the foster parent pay the $600 and wait the usual 3 months for reimbursement.

One more example of how well our government handles all those tax dollars we're donating to take care of the less fortunate

I am glad to give to the organizations who do it right,  Who run their organizations efficiently, who really do care about their clients, who are actually there, 24/7.  Who are made up of real people willing (and who have the authority) to take responsibility and make decisions, on the spot if necessary.

The Catholic Church and Catholic Charities

Other local churches with food pantries, thrift stores that also give clothing to those in need, and tutoring ministries.

The Red Cross (which not only gets my money, but blood from everyone in the family too)

The Salvation Army (these folks are practically first responders in big disasters)

St. Jude's Hospital (check out< http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=LoveCuresCancer&view=videos> which has videos of a few young  celebrities, including our own lovely Kyle Schmid, speaking for fund raising for St. Jude)

Those are my biggies right now, and I give generously, as I urge each of you to do, to your abilities. 

But I resent every dollar I give to our fat, lazy, debt-ridden, corrupt, inefficient, rude and just plain stupid government 'programs'.



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I was hanging out with some mommies at the resource center today, and we were all whining about our kids, and how much they cost, and blah blah.  I'm the only one who has drivers in that crowd, but every one of them is within two years of having teenage drivers, too.  So I told them I'd just paid the insurance on the car that Mat drives, and mentioned the amount.  One of them said, "That's a whole 'nother house payment!"  I'd never thought about it that way, but actually it was a little more than my house payment.  And I pay that TWICE a year!  And that's just Mat.  I don't want to think about Thomas too.

So those of you who don't have teenagers yet, make your plans now. 

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What was I thinking?!?!  Revised:

When I get a little money,

I buy books.

Then I buy chocolate.

Then if there's any money left, I buy food and clothing.


The Budget

Dec. 1st, 2008 04:52 pm
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(stolen from a tote at Barnes & Noble)

If I get a little money, I buy books.

If there's any left,

I buy food and clothing.

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Okay, someone finally just set me off today.  Not for any particular reason, except that I'm sick and irritable, and likely to be downright honest when I don't have the energy I normally put into biting my tongue and smiling and letting people say whatever they want about politics, no matter what.

I will admit that our choices for President are woeful.  but.  I will not vote for anyone going around spouting shit around about wanting to spread the wealth.  Or taxes being patriotic.  Bull shit. 

And I don't care that someone claims he's going to share my "wealth" in order to "narrow the gap" between the shameless, evil rich {which apparently means anyone who's worked hard enough their whole life long to have been able to have more than two nickles to rub together}, and the more noble poor. {which means WHOM, exactly?}  That's supposed to be laudable.

It's laudable if he's going to do it by helping the poor to better their situation. Not so much if he intends to "narrow the gap" by taking from me.

And even tho I can't afford to send my boys to college without the excellent scholarships they got, and we consider ourselves just average middle class, because we can just afford to live in (with a mortgage which we made sure we could actually afford before we got) a house in the mid-price range in AL (which would be the price of a shed in California), Obama's economics places us in his evil rich category. He might not like the socialist/communist label, but that's what he's proposing.

So, just like I'd like the government to keep its damn laws off my body, I'd like it to keep its damn laws and programs off my stuff, too.

If I want to help others, I do so by my choice. MINE. I give money to The Church, which is excellently efficient in its work around the globe, or to a worthy cause, like Habitat or the Red Cross (which also gets my blood every 8 weeks) or I'll take in a foster child, or do volunteer work with the Autism society or at the library. But letting some government bureaucrat get ahold of my money because he claims he's going to do good with it? Come on, how naive would I have to be?


buget woes

Oct. 10th, 2008 10:37 pm
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I got all the money I need . . . so long as I die before Monday.   —Sue Margolis
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Turned out to just be mostly long and boring.  (Should have made Min pick me up on her way to DragonCon. *g*) 

Mark left Friday morning for "Pupfest" --a caving/camping outing every Labor Day instituted by a caver named, you guessed it, "Pup".  It's a big thing, peole come from 3 or 4 states, and one flew in from Canada. And he didn't get back until late Monday, and I just missed him horribly.   More than I anticipated.  We're usually just fine for a few days apart (remember I spent a good deal of the summer in TN), but this time, even tho Thomas was here, I just felt lonely.  Maybe it was the last straw for too many days spent apart this summer.  Appearantly, he missed me too, because the highlight of the holiday was Monday night, just the two of us.

And I didn't just sit around all weekend.  I was busy doing "fun" stuff, it just wasn't distracting enough.

On Saturday, Thomas got me up fairly early for a Saturday.  I'd mumbled something the day before about bookstore.... So we spent the day doing the "girlfriend" thing (if your girlfriend is a geek).  Best Buy, Hobby Lobby, Barnes & Noble, The Fret Shop (they sell violins, etc.). 

And in the middle somewhere, we ate out at a little restaurant called the "Wild Flour Bistro" which was not what I was expecting, and way more expensive than I was expecting, but what the heck.  I thought it would be a little specialty cafe, maybe feature bread products, or not, sort of like The Atlanta Bread Company, but not a chain.  But it was very fancy, real table cloths, hovering waiters, and entrees like 'Rack of Lamb.'  We both had Prime Rib au jus (the special) and desserts. He had Keylime cheesecake, and I had a hot fudge and Grand Marnier sundae with pecans, real whipped cream, and a cherry.  I had both the house red wine (forgot the name) with dinner, and coffee with dessert.  Both were excellent.  you can tell oodles about a restaurant by the coffee.  And the bathroom was spotless.  I may get Mark to dress up and go with me sometimes.  

Thomas was embarrassed about being under-dressed, but I assured him that the restaurant experience just wasn't what it used to be, and most people would be causally dressed. And it was very early, so we were one of the first 2 parties there.  (I was "business casual" but he was just khakis and a Tee.) Not long after a group of four walked in with their shorts and tees, looking like they'd come straight from the yardwork.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not as much of a snob as that sounds.  I just come from a time when going to a restaurant was a treat, a special occasion, worth getting cleaned up for, not just something that happened 4 days a week because no on has time to cook.  And if you were going to (knowingly) pay those kinds of prices, dressing for the occasion makes it just that much more special, and worth the money.

And Sunday my older son graced us with his presence because he needed me to go to the phone store with him to get a replacement for the phone he'd broken.  I was glad to see him, and find out about classes this fall, etc.  I just wish he came for more reasons than need.  We all miss him.  And Rhiannon manages to find time to visit with her family.  It's difficult to watch him struggle with things that I could show him the easy way for, if he'd just ask.  And yes, I have to wait until he asks.  Remember how well you listened to all that unsolicited advice your parents gave you?  No matter how many times or how I say it, I can't convince him that independent does not mean the same thing as alone.  Far from it.  Knowing when and how to ask for help is a key part of achieving maturity. 

Mat spent a good amount of time complaining about money, and lack there of.   Which I'm NOT helping him with, since he's in financial straits because made a series of bad decisions that he'd been warned were not going to turn out well, and still insisted on. Ever since he was able to talk, my method of discipline was "natural consequences" because, turns out, that's Life's main teaching tool, as well.  I'm not going to just throw him to the wolves, and he knows that.  He knows that if it gets THAT bad, he can come to me.  Or he could come to me now with a reasoned arguement or proposal for loan or raise in allowance.  But I am not going to offer that.  And he knows that he created his mess, and that his parents, like the future "Real World," expect him to figure it out as best as he can.

Anyway, since he was talking budget shortfalls and all, Thomas says, "Oh mom! We need to help him save money by taking him out to a restaurant for dinner tonight."  That Thomas, he'll do Anything for a meal out.  I gave him the eye, because Mat and I both knew that Thomas cared nothing about Mat's money problem, except that it would be useful to help him get to go out the second night in a row.  I really didn't care, so I told Mat to ask Rhiannon and come up with a restaurant, since she has dietary restrictions (gluten free) and they're both vegetarian.  We ended up at Applebee's.  It was good, and fun.  And if you're there and don't know what to get, Applebee's makes an excellent onion soup.

But the highlight was Mark coming home.  As I was not falling asleep Saturday night, I actually considered going with him next year.  Yes, I'm actually contemplating camping.  I must love him more than I thought.  But I am NEVER repeat NEVER going into a cave without being sedated to the point of unconsciousness.  I will NEVER love Anyone that much!


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People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money you can have a key made. -- Joan Rivers
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Money is a terrible master, but an excellent servant.

--Phineas
Taylor Barnum

A good day

Apr. 28th, 2008 08:34 pm
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I'm just settling down for the evening with a glass of wine. It's been a good day today. I got lots done, and about 90% of actually done were actually on the list, and I got at least 80% of the list done.

Yep, feeling sorta self righteous.

Went to a really good class on Advocacy. Learned about the state government, etc. It was given by an advocacy group called Voices for Alabama Children.

Begged for some money today, for the ASA Teacher Appreciation Dinner from an as yet not to be named source. I've got a better than 50% chance, I think. If they come through, I'll name names.

And I even managed to get a supper on the table, with Mark's help, and we had a family dinner. And I got him some socks and underwear done. So he's a happy camper.
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I finally broke down and told Mark last night, because I couldn't stand it, (it's awful when your husband is on of your best friends, and you're used to doing your complaining and thinking with him) and it really pissed him off.  He said, "You know, after Katrina, we gave away that car that was worth more than that [not a lot more, it was prob worth about $2000] to that young girl from Louisiana, and I thought nothing of it.  But she REALLY needed the car, and was in bad circumstances, and we really wanted to get down to two cars instead of three for insurance purposes.  We didn't have to sell the clarinet, and she didn't have to have it."  And I agree.  So, I think I'm just going to tell the story around too. She told it the first time in front of at least 4 other people, so it's not like I'll be complaining behind her back.  Let our peers decide how they feel about it.
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I sold a clarinet to an acquaintance.  we are in the same home school cover, and have known each other 2-3 years.  She was talking about her son wanting to learn the clarinet, and buying one, etc.  I told her that my husband still had his clarinet from high school or college and was never going to play it again, and we'd be willing to sell it.  So I asked her how much were the ones she'd been looking at, etc, and told my hubby.  I suggested $100 and he said, aw, just get $50, it's so old, it's probably not worth any more than that.  So we sell it.  All well and god, I'm glad to have one less useless thing in the closet.

Then, yesterday, the woman I sold it to thanked me for the clarinet (after someone else thanked me for some books I'd given her).  I said, "No need to thank me for that, you paid for it." 

She said, "Not enough. -- The man who cleaned it up for us told us that the mouthpiece alone is probably worth $165 dollars.  He said your husband took excellent care of it and it's really wood.  Most are plastic now.  He said it's probably worth $1500."  I was a little stunned.  I just muttered something about Mark always taking care of things, and kind of moved on toward the class as she's saying, "well, at least you got it out of your house."

And that's true.  And that was my aim.  And I should let it go.  But it just bugs me a little.  I couldn't have done that to someone I know.  if I'd bought a valuable thing from a "friend" (or anyone I was going to have to run into regularly) and it turned out to be worth 300 times what I paid for it, I'd have to go back and even that up some.   At the very least, (say I really needed whatever it was, a coat, or food for my children say, and couldn't afford to pay more for it) I'd at least have the decency not to GLOAT to the person I took advantage of!  And we're talking musical instrument, and a woman who well could have afforded to pay fair value for it.  I'm sure she's quite proud of herself for getting a bargain. I just wish she'd never told me.
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Okay, here's a little trivia, looking at my monthly card bill.  This will be about 99% of what we spend in a month, excluding mortgage, car payments, and church offerings

There were 125 transactions.

92% are less than $100.

Of those 8% over the magic line:
one is a one-time oral surgeon cost, 
3 are college costs related,
one is the monthly cable/phone/internet bill,
2 are groceries
3 are Christmas related.

More than half of the transactions are less than $20.
23% are actually less than $5 !  (yes folks, almost a quarter of the time when I use my card it is less than $5) Cash?  What's that?

14% are at BurgerKing  (most for less than $5.  I can identify 10 of them as being either one or two Dr. Peppers in the drive thru)
34% are at Restaurants in general, mostly fast food.
Throw in supermarkets, and that makes a total of
42% of the transactions involved with food.

Now, I'll just need to actually nail down the dollar amounts as percentages, and I'll be on my way to that BUDGET I resolved to make.  I'm going to be really peeved to find out that a measurable amount of my food budget is King-sized Dr. Pepper at BK.

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