Saturday, July 25, 2009

How are you cutting back?

Around here we are trying to cut back financially as our skills allow. Here are some of the ways we are economizing.

I am giving the boys haircuts at home. They have survived. Sometimes I trim hubby between haircuts.

We are cooking more at home. Cheaper meals. Beans and rice. Lots of veggies. Soups.

I am jazzing up lunches for my fussy boys. Sandwiches are boring. The same sandwich cooked on my knock off George Foreman grill is a fancy panini. Whatever, it works.

We (okay, mostly hubby) are fixing things. My clothesline broke. My car needs work. The kids managed to rip the metal on a cabinet door hinge. These things take more time than money to remedy.

We use the clothesline and drying racks (even though the indoor racks are considered tacky). If and when I get a deck or porch, the drying racks will likely reside there most of the time.

We gathered wild blackberries to make jam when time allows.

We are watching my parent's pear trees in anticipation of free windfall pears to can.

We will use homemade jams for teacher gifts, etc.

We have cut down on the number of gifts we give. We have some friends that we don't exchange with, but spend time with around the holidays. It's a relief and a chance to catch up and enjoy each other!

We are slowly building a permanent mini-orchard. It does cost money, but it will save in the long run. We put in two blueberry bushes this year. This fall, if money allows, we will add some grapes or muscadines. We can dig up and move the wild blackberries (ouch!) to make a thicket where we can cultivate them. These plants are perennial and won't need to be replaced for years if they are cared for.

We are composting food scraps. We'll feed the compost to our blueberries and roses this year. We'll use it for additional plants as we can.

We're going to save the rose hips from our roses (they are organically grown) to supplement vitamin C during the fall and winter. Rose hip tea is lovely and very good when you have a cold (or to prevent one).

We are recycling school supplies instead of blindly buying new.

No new school clothes (except for DS12 who has changed sizes). We try and treat clothing gently so it doesn't wear out. Not always easy with boys. Stain removal is key!

I can knit and crochet so I can make some gifts. I can make some hats and scarves in school colors to sell. I can make blankets and throws. I need another blanket for my bed this winter. I can make one from scrap yarn and put it under the duvet so if it doesn't match--who cares?

I completed a quilt top and I can quilt it over the winter when it won't be so hot to have it in my lap. I can keep it or give as a gift.

Please comment and share your ideas!

The Economy

Let's face it, the economy is most unpleasant right now. I guess I felt like I needed to acknowledge that here because it is like the big white elephant in the room all the time. I guess I try to be relatively upbeat here, but the truth is, everyone I know is feeling the pinch.

I realize that it's not just here in the U.S. but all around the industrialized world from hearing the news and reading blogs from various countries. Everyone is scaling back or trying to--or being forced to.

I have friends that are looking for jobs and having a rough time because there is so much competition for even entry level positions. And there are seldom jobs available, it would seem, that aren't entry level.

To make things worse, prices went up last summer due to the increase in transportation costs when gasoline fuel prices skyrocketed, but most prices haven't come down to their pre-fuel cost problem levels. Actually, on some things, prices are continually easing upward while incomes are definitely not.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the situation is dire at all. Our local theater seems to be doing a decent business and restaurants still abound in this area. My fear is that people seem to be denying the problem and going deeply into debt. Or, perhaps, they are just holding on to the same old habits that were aquired in better times. Who knows.

I enjoy eating out and we did more of it than usual immediately after my surgery, but we do make sure to eat real meals at home. Our idea of eating out is probably much less expensive than most. Our meals at home are usually on the cheaper side also.

I worry sometimes about the economy and what the future holds. My brother graduates from his trade school in September as a mechanic. Will he be able to find a decent job with insurance? Will he be able to find anything in his field at all?

Hubby is in a stable field and is unlikely to lose his job, but it's not unheard of for a company to have real problems in a poor economy. I teach at a private school. In this economy, are people going to be able to pay tuition? Will our numbers decrease? We took pay cuts last year. Will we take them this year? Larger ones perhaps?

My goal is to be prepared for whatever happens. To work toward being able to provide for more of our needs ourselves. To make things. To do things. To fix things. To be creatively frugal.

At least on this quest, I might be too busy to worry!

End of an Era

It just really hit me as DS11 and I went through the list of recommended school supplies for his grade and decided what we had that was going to be re-used this year. He is going to be in (gulp!) MIDDLE SCHOOL!

No more kids in elementary school at all. This is even going to be DS12's last year of middle school and then, well, you know. I can't even begin to face that idea.

No more babies. No more little guys.


Back to School Is Approaching!

Yep. It's official. School starts Tuesday for me and the following Monday for my boys. So, this weekend, it became imperative to get rid of that summer "shaggy" look and get haircuts. We had been getting hair cuts at a local barber shop because it is significantly cheaper there (and post surgery, I wasn't up to it), but hubby thought that the last two haircuts really didn't look so hot. So, I went back to doing it myself and I have got to admit that I think they both turned out looking very nice.

I am so very old school! I like hair neatly above the collar and over the ears. Definitely never hanging in the eyes. Other than that, I don't care too much. Hubby wanted DS12's hair longer in the crown but shorter everywhere else and DS11's hair to be significantly shorter around the edges but very long on the crown (he gets a rooster top-knot in his sleep) so that it will lay down.

I did find that I need to upgrade my tools if I am going to continue this (and with the present economy, it seems prudent). My clippers are really worn out and getting dull and starting to pull hair. My scissors could stand sharpening, but I don't know if cheap scissors will stand up to sharpening. Even my comb is missing lots of teeth! But, I do know that investing in quality tools and really taking care of them will save more money in the long run. Initially, I got cheaper things because I needed to see if I was capable of doing a decent haircut on wiggly boys. I also use it on myself to keep what is left of my hair from peeking out of my wigs. My tools have more than paid for themselves just with using them on myself, so I have been pleased and every haircut that I have given the boys is just a bonus.

Feels good to be a little independent of the "system" and able to do a few things for myself.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whew! Testing is over

DS12 had to go to Scottish Rite Hospital for some tests. Fortunately, the results were very good and extremely encouraging. I can't tell you the emotions that a mom goes through when her kid has a problem that can't easily be fixed.

But, long story short, I am absolutely thrilled with the hospital staff. They were kind, compassionate, professional, in short a joy to be around. And that is saying quite a lot when the only time that I have ever experienced this staff is during a very emotional and stressful time in my life. I am truly impressed with them.

And grateful to them!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The clock is ticking....

for back to school. I have one more week of summer before reporting for pre-planning at the school. The boys have two. Wow.

This summer has been both very short and interminably long at the same time. Unfortunately with my surgery and injury, it has seemed like days take months. But, in spending time with the kids (and the guilt of not being able to do a whole lot with them) it has seemed far too short.

Today, hubby and I begin taking senior photos for the class of 2010. We've done an individual session, but today is the first day where we will see 4 or so back to back. So we are getting underway!

It's always exciting to see the kids all excited to be starting their senior year. It's such a time of hope and plans for the future. Sigh. Oh, to be young!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dentist and Orthodontist

Yesterday was the big trip to the dentist for the boys. They both managed to get out without cavities (thank goodness). They do need sealants applied on their 6 year molars for now and on the 12 year molars when they finish descending.

I know that the sealants will save lots of problems (like I have with my soft teeth) later. But, it is horrendously expensive, especially for those of us who don't have dental insurance. Sigh.

Today, we spent the morning with a local orthodontist who is wonderful. Ironically, the child with the prettier teeth (DS12) needs more braces and will wear them longer to correct his problems. DS11 has mangled, crowded, obviously crooked teeth and he will need much less correction ultimately. Go figure.

So, we parents made a tough choice. We start DS11 in August because he is so self-conscious about his smile that we want him to go first. DS12 isn't concerned at all and we can bump him back to December to help cash flow.

I could have bought a new to me van for what I will be spending on braces and appliances. I guess my ghetto-mobile will have to limp along for another two years, if that is even possible. Big sigh.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July!!!

As we in America celebrate the founding of our nation, it's a good time for everyone to reflect on their national history. There is so much of the nuance of history that is being lost to these generations that have been spoon-fed a media diet of predigested materials.

The founding fathers and the courage of so many are the antithesis of the MTV quick shock mentality.

Better yet, while you are pondering and appreciating our shared history, share it with a kid or two and help them know why it is important to you. It doesn't cost anything, but it just may change everything.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A shiner!

As the mom of two boys, the occasional black eye is something to be expected. This time, it is the result of DS12 and a friend swimming into each other accidentally in the friend's pool.

It was a hoot and nobody was seriously hurt. The friend told DS12 that it made him look "tough." That was enough to make the bruising and swelling a prized "war wound."

Stitches are out

The stitches are out! Yay! Although my foot looks suspiciously like a "franken-foot," I am so glad that the worst of it is over. It was really nasty looking when they first unwrapped it. What I mistook for a nasty tangle of stitches was actually scabbed over incision. Shockingly, I only had 3 stitches and they came out really easily.

After washing and scraping oodles of dead skin off of the franken-foot, it looked much better. Okay, I did paint my toenails out of sheer vanity--it's really the only vanity that I still cling to. Covering up the nasty toenails that bear the scars of numerous injuries and former fungus infections is a public service in my book.

I am still wearing a surgical boot in lieu of shoes, but as sensitive as my foot is, that is probably for the best. After swimming at a friend's pool yesterday, I can really feel all of my foot muscles waking up and complaining after being neglected for 3 weeks.

So, I am doing my little foot exercises. It's not all that bad, but it seems so weenie to do them and have it be such a big deal. And it FEELS like a very big deal to be doing such a small thing.