30 December 2009

2009 Wrap Up

Well, another year is wrapping up, and it's time for another update on my progress. I did this last year (see the post here on the Year of Frugal Living blog) and it's great to have a record of my accomplishments. So, here I go:
  • I paid off another 7.6 percent of my debt, for a total of 26%, or more than 1/4.
  • I dealt with missed child support, a missing ex husband, and had the guts to take him back to court for all of it.
  • I experienced quite a few achievements at work, including getting an award in front of the whole college!
  • I gave my children chores and have begun giving my 5 year old an allowance to start teaching him to save for things he wants
  • I made my grandmother's pirogi recipe with the kids (one of my 2009 resolutions)
  • I travelled without the kids without having a nervous breakdown
  • I went on a date
  • I remodeled my living room fireplace

2009 has been the year of living- actually doing the things I have always wanted to do without being too scared or talking myself out of it. It's been a fantastic feeling to really be living my life, and I hope to continue to do it in 2010!

29 December 2009

Foolproof Cleaning Method

Get motivated to purge in 3 easy steps!

Step one: Turn on tv

Step two: Tune tv to A&E's Show Hoarders

Step three: Get totally grossed out and begin throwing away your stuff

I have watched this show twice since I've been home on vacation, and each time I've thrown out a huge bag of stuff immediately afterwards. It is gross. And everytime I watch it, I look around at the piles of crap in my house and I think "OMG, this is how it starts." And I start tossing stuff.

I am not a super neat person, despite being a librarian. :D I have the tendency to save things because I might need them, or I feel guilty throwing them away. This is ridiculous, especially in a 1100 square foot house. I was just going through the "sippy cup shelf" and there are baby bottles in there, the ones they recalled because of BPA. So even if I DID have another baby, which would take a miracle at this point, I wouldn't even use them anyway!

So yes, if you have the tendency to save things, watch this show. It works!

22 December 2009

letters and sodas

It’s not the holidays. I swear. It’s just that… I think I’ve been watching too many romantic comedies on USA. Or maybe it’s the full day workshop I attended with someone who I was dating and, while I fully acknowledge that things wouldn’t have worked out, is still a pretty nice guy. But whatever it is, I feel like maybe I’m ready to start dating a bit. I don’t quite know how to go about this, because I’m 31 and I don’t hang out at bars and I don’t really go anywhere other than work and the grocery store.


So another, semi embarrassing 2010 resolution is to put myself back out there, even if it means utter embarrassment. I might even get to see a movie or something eventually, right?

20 December 2009

what's gonna work?

The funny thing about trying out new things is sometimes it makes your life easier, but the initial trying seems so time consuming and requiring of effort that it's too hard to do it.

Like, for example, making small children pick up their toys before bed. I'll admit it, I have been doing it all these years because, well, because I was too tired to make them do it and it was easier just to do it myself. But since we're starting chores and one of my resolutions is to clean less, I started making them pick up the messes they made over the course of the day before we get ready for bed. I stayed with them and helped and we all did it together, and everyone felt really happy and proud when the house looked nice before they went to sleep.

As Mr5 was getting ready to go to sleep, I was laying in his bed with him "talking about things" (as he calls it) and I said "Thanks for helping me clean up today. It was really great that we all did it together and it didn't take very long and look how clean the house is now! It was great teamwork." And he says "Yeah, it was teamwork! Just like the Wonder Pets."

Yup! Just like em. :)

18 December 2009


I recently read this article in Business Week called “How Adults Achieve Happiness. It’s an interesting article because it, In some ways, tells you what you already know, but need to hear anyway. Basically, it comes down to this:

Lots of tv watching/ web surfing = not happy

Lots of exercise = happy

Lots of cleaning = not happy (yay!!)

Lots of friends = happy (yay again!)

It also draws a direct correlation between happiness at work and happiness at home.

I like this article because it is in many ways what I’ve tried to accomplish over the last 2 ½ years (wow, has it really been that long?) since my ex moved out. And I have to say, each of them require work. It’s easy to watch tv, or get sucked into the web for a few hours. It’s easy to not exercise. It’s easy to not call friends, although it’s also easy to not clean, at least it is for me. :)

So, in light of the upcoming new year, and this interesting perspective on happiness, here are my 2010 goals:

1. Make time to exercise!!! We have a gym at my work. I have a membership. I have never gone, because I don’t make the time. This year, I will schedule in gym time just as firmly as I schedule a meeting or a doctor’s appointment. Barring serious illness, it cannot be missed. I’ll shoot for twice a week to start.

2. 2. Spend less time watching tv! This has been happening naturally since my tivo stopped working, and since I’ve been reading more. Keep it up.

3. 3. Spend less time cleaning- the method for this one is brilliant- my children are getting chores. End of story. :D

4. 4. Spend more time with friends- this one is easy, but with the cold and snow already here, will take an extra effort in the winter. I’m close with my core group of friends, but have fallen out of touch with others, and have recently made contact with a long lost friend, who I want to invite over for dinner soon.

What are your goals?

17 December 2009

It can't be

A week before Christmas? Oh, that is not good. I have lost my list and my motivation to shop and most likely, the positive balance in my checking account.

14 December 2009


I’ve been busily painting, cleaning, getting rid of things, and hanging up panels to cover the ugly wall air conditioner (photos to come). And yesterday, I even went couch shopping!


When I graduated college, I moved into a 3 month sublet in Providence, Rhode Island with a handful of furniture. Since I’d be there for 3 months, I never really bothered decorating or buying much. Then after that, I moved into a bedroom of an already furnished apartment, so same thing. After that, another sublet, this time in Prescott, Arizona, so I didn’t even have furniture- just a duffel bag the size of a kayak to hold all my stuff (I can fit in that duffel bag! It’s amazing). After that, moved back home with my parents, and then I finally got an apartment here in Connecticut with the person who I’d go on to marry.


Except we had no money, so we never bought any furniture or did any decorating. My parents gave us a couch and my ex had a kitchen table. I taped Sonic Youth and French movie posters to the walls, and we sat around smoking cigarettes and drinking beer and never once cared about fixing the place up. And it was an awful place- the garage of a ranch that had been converted into a loft apartment. It was in many ways illegal and even more ways ugly. I actually can’t believe we ever even lived there.


Then we moved again, this time to a nice apartment with cathedral ceilings and a balcony. But now I had a 4 month old and wasn’t working, so no new furniture. Couldn’t paint, because it was a rental. So again, same ugly couch, a new hand me down kichen table, and a cabinet for the tv that we bought off some guy on the street for 25 bucks. At least this time we bought a few paintings to hang on the wall from IKEA, except I’m pretty sure we charged them and I’m probably still paying for them if you were to trace it back.


Finally we moved to the house I live in now, except 3 weeks after we moved the shit hit the fan and my ex became my ex. Then I REALLY didn’t have any money and I inherited even more hand me downs- a tv wall unit, a desk, a pink recliner. I taped the kids coloring pages to the walls, and shoved boxes of things under the beds. I could barely breathe, barely pay for food, never mind make the place my own.


So here I am, the first time in my life fixing up a place so that it’s MINE. I’ve never shopped for a couch before, never bought a piece of furniture from a place other than a tag sale or Goodwill. Never painted trim or hung up curtains. It’s just incredible to be able to make decisions about my own space. I feel like I can finally make it my own, and that’s amazing.


11 December 2009

In the Groove

For some reason, I am super productive lately! I've been painting, Christmas shopping, cleaning, reading real novels (really!) and just feeling really energetic, even after the kids go to bed.

I just finished the second coat on the fireplace and it looks awesome. Tomorrow I'll do the trim, and then I'm getting my Christmas tree. I can't believe I am actually close to finishing this project!

Sorry for all the excitement, but things don't usually go so well for me! I even got an award at work yesterday! :)

07 December 2009

primer, new lamp, and cat

Check it out! Awesome, right? My mom came over and we primed the area. Then I chose a paint color (a medium gray) and we went to Ikea and got the panels to hang over the air conditioner. My mom and dad are both coming over Tuesday to hang the panels and the new curtains I got for by the couch. I'm so excited!

This project is frugal because my mom is paying for the supplies as a Christmas present. And the cat is pretty confused by it all.

03 December 2009


Here's the fireplace, paneling, and random bookshelf set-up:
Here's the rest of the wall (note the end of the paneling on the right):
See? Bad, huh?

1/4 of the way there (and painting day!)

If you came over from the Year of Frugal Living blog, then you know I've been trying to pay off debt for a while now. As of today, I reached the 25% mark! Hooray! I had wanted to be at 40% by the end of 2009, but with my ex disappearing for 2 months, that just didn't work out. But I'm still ahead of where I was at the end of 2008 (I think 18%) so I'm still moving forward. This is cause for celebration- which I'm doing by priming the fireplace! My mom's on her way so I better stop fooling around on the computer and start getting ready...

02 December 2009

not what I'm supposed to be doing...

My mom is coming over tomorrow night with paint chips and Sunday we're going to IKEA. When I get home tonight I plan to take pictures of the "before" so that I can share and ask for some advice.

After 31 years of bitching that I don't have anything that I like and my house doesn't reflect my own style, the big question then becomes "what IS my own style?" Once, I took one of those "what is your style personality?" quizzes on hgtv.com and it said "eclectic" which I think means "too inconsistent to label". On that particular show (which I can't remember the name of right now) it says to pick 5 of your favorite things in your house, so that's what I'm going to do tonight, and see if that tells me anything other than "none of these things go together'.

01 December 2009

let the daydreaming begin...

Now I'm wrapped up in the world of interior design. Should the panels be a bright color? What will go on the mantle? How will I choose things that reflect me and that I love and will also look cool and not like a dorm room?

It's so exciting. In the meanwhile, I found this cool blog about a mom who does this type of thing. Well. http://www.designmom.com/

Back to my lunch break IKEA shopping...

30 November 2009

Divine Design

I just spent the last hour with my mom, staring at my ugly living room and trying to figure out wth to do with it all.

It boils down to a few major problems:
  • it is entirely (and I mean 100%) filled with hand me downs from the early 90's at the NEWEST
  • there is a large, wood paneled fireplace area on one end, not centered on the wall (wtf?)
  • there is a giant air conditioner stuck in the side of the wall, even though I have central air (again, wtf?)
  • there are toys, more toys, and then some more toys EVERYWHERE.

We came up with a plan. It's a phased plan, which I learned about at work. That means there is a phase one that is cheap and phase two that we may never have the money/resources to achieve, but here's hoping.

The Phase One plan is to:

  1. Paint large wood paneled fire place to match the walls (cream) and trim (white)
  2. Purchase and hang a screen over the air conditioner
  3. Get a new corner desk to fill up the area next to the fireplace and make it look less off-center

Phase Two is something like get new couch, get new entertainment unit, win lottery, boob job, marry Brad Pitt. We'll see.

In the end, we felt good about it all, but my mom did claim she's emailing the Divine Design chick to beg her to come here.

29 November 2009

how on earth do I have a 5 year old...

My oldest turned 5 on Friday. We spent the day with their dad, which as you can imagine, makes me the best mom on the planet.

It actually wasn't that bad. It's not like I don't like to talk to him, I just can't live with him. But he kept excusing himself to go smoke cigarettes, and each time he was gone I explained to the kids how cigarettes make your lungs black and you get sick from them and maybe die. So, they may grow up with panic disorders about their father (and grandmother) dying, but at least they won't smoke.

So now he's 5, and he's decided that he no longer wants me to call him by his nickname (which we've ALWAYS called him) but by his full name. The sheer idea of this makes me want to cry. I mean, it makes sense, he is certainly more of a full name type of kid, but still. At 5? Can't this wait till high school? It's heartbreaking.

On the other hand, now he's big enough for cool toys, so we spent the day yesterday playing star wars and legos and playmobil dragons. Plus, Mr3 informed me that he was never going to move out and he was going to live with me forever in the basement and sometimes he'd go to the grocery store. So now I have that to look forward to- I sort of picture him like the guy in "I Love You Man," hanging out in his man cave, smoking pot and playing air bass to Rush. Gotta love these kids...

26 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I usually blow off sentimental holidays as being too mushy or something, but I have to admit being a mother has sort of forced me to take myself a little less seriously and enjoy the warmth of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And in that vein, I'm thankful for
  • my children
  • having a roof over my head and food to eat
  • my friends and family
  • my job
  • finding my voice through the Year of Frugal Living blog and continuing it here
  • having a sense of humor when all of the above go terribly, terribly awry!

Happy Thanksgiving!

01 November 2009

Every day is a new beginning

I'm watching the Biggest Loser right now. This season, there are some really messed up people among the contestants. Two of them are particularly heartbreaking to me- one, Abby, the mom who lost her whole family (husband, 5 year old daughter and newborn son) in a car accident. The other is Shay, the woman who's mother was a heroin addict. Obviously, the mom is heartbreaking- especially to a mom of two like me. Every time she talks about her kids, I just cry and cry. I can't even imagine what she went through. And for the other woman, after everything I went through with my ex and keeping my kids safe from his addiction, I just think of what could have happened had I not been strong enough to get us away from him.

Life is scary. Bad shit happens every day. People who don't deserve to suffer suffer a LOT. They don't always get saved, they don't always have another parent who will be DAMNED if they let anything happen to their kids. And people like my ex drive drunk or speed or whatever and kill other families. It's enough to make you want to stay in your house and never leave.

Except you can't. I'm not a religious person, I don't think there's a better place waiting for us. I think this life is the chance we have to be happy, to love, and to make this world a better place. I don't want my life to be bad or sad or terrible because of other people's crap. And I want my children to grow up knowing that they are loved and safe and have the chance to make their own happiness. And so I do my best every day- if I'm tired or sad or upset, I talk to my kids about feelings and how to deal with them. I don't sugar coat things, but I don't let them forget that they are safe and loved. And I really feel that every day is a new beginning, a new chance to be happy and have relationships with others and to love and be loved. At the end of the day, you can only change yourself and how you deal with how others affect you.

The village that I talk about- it's about having those loving relationships with people who make you happy and challenge you and who you love. It's about making your life the best you can, and not letting the bad things break you. At the end of the day, I feel at peace with everything I've been through, and I hope that I make others lives happier.

30 October 2009

I think I need a teepee

Yesterday I was insanely stressed out. There was too much to do and not enough time to do it in- kids needed to be delivered to two different places, Halloween costumes needed to be worn with changes of clothes brought, garbage and recycling needed to be taken out, and I needed to be at work at 7:45 for a class. Then, I got it all done, and I felt awesome. I'm awesome! I can handle everything!

Except this morning I had practically nothing to do. Kids were coming with me to school (they go to the preschool on our campus), costumes were in the bag, no lunches needed because they are going to the babysitter's at lunch time so McDs on the way could be had... should have been a breeze, right?

But no. Mr3 would NOT leave me alone. He wanted me to carry him everywhere, and since I donated blood yesterday, I didn't really want to pick him up (my arm looks gross- like blood will squirt out of the hole if I flex my muscle). Then he didn't want to get dressed, then he wanted a cheese stick even though he had a bowl of colby jack and crackers right in front of him, then he kept pushing me while I was trying to brush my teeth... I ended up roaming aimlessly around the house trying to find a place to get away from him. Just for ONE minute- just enough to drink a few swigs of coffee without getting shoved and spilling it.

I eventually got them dressed and in the car and delivered to school and now I'm at work and everything is fine, but I hate mornings like this. It all started because Max just wanted me to play with him, and I can't really PLAY with him in the morning. I ended up playing this "i'm a hamster in the pet store and you buy me" game with him while I was making breakfast, but that's what set him off. And I feel bad! But what can I really do? It's time to get up, get dressed, eat, get ready.

It's just frustrating and it sucks.

27 October 2009

Early to bed

Everyone's making fun of me about my "new bedtime" but all I have to say is:


Getting 8 hours of sleep is not a joke, it really has changed my life. I'm waking up happier, I have WAY more energy which means I have been exercising more, I haven't been as hungry for carbs and things (so I've lost a few pounds) and my house is really clean.

I was very skeptical of how a single, working mom could go to bed so early and still get things done and have any time to relax. But for some reason, my extra energy during the day is helping me stay on top of cleaning, so that there's not a lot to do after the kids go to bed, just about 30 min of picking up, doing dishes, etc (during which time I talk on the phone to catch up with friends). Then it's only about 8 pm, and I get some reading material, get ready for bed, and watch tv or read until I go to sleep. It is really rather amazing.

I was going to do it for a week... but now I think I might extend it indefinitely!

25 October 2009

it's 9:12 am...

and the groceries are here and put away (the kids LOVED it), the dishwasher is emptied, the laundry is done (enough), the house is picked up, and the kids are at their dad's.

I think I'll exercise, clean the bathtub and take a shower. And then I'm off for a grown up adventure of reading at a coffee shop and visiting a museum. I'm so excited.

24 October 2009

Saving Sunday

Sundays are pretty much the only day I can really count on my ex to spend time with the kids, so they end up being the one day I can actually count on getting things done. Lately I've been feeling like I waste my whole day Sunday doing house things like cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping. A few weeks ago, I went out to have lunch with a friend and left a little early, where I headed down to a local college town where there are tons of awesome bookstores, museums, coffee shops, etc. It was the best day I had had in ages because my whole day was about being a grown up and doing things I like to do, rather than vacuuming and washing dishes.

Ever since then, I've been doing all I can to get the weekly chores done throughout the week so that I can have Sunday to myself. I've been doing a load or two of laundry after work, cleaning up before bed every night instead of leaving things for the weekend, and basically keeping on top of things. I know this probably sounds obvious, but with a 12 hour day of work plus mom duties each day, I was not that motivated to do it before.

Then today, in a stroke of genius, I finally ordered Peapod (a delivery service from our local grocery store) to be delivered tomorrow between 6 and 8 am. I am psyched! When the kids get picked up at 9, the grocery shopping will already be done. I cannot even believe how easy it really was.

I know that this service isn't particularly frugal (they charge a delivery fee, although this time I had a coupon that covered it) but in the grand scheme of things, it seems to be worth it. And I'm really looking forward to a lovely day tomorrow- if the weather is decent, I'm planning on going to an art museum that has free admission. I can't wait.

23 October 2009

Mrs., Ms. or Miss: Addressing Modern Women

Mrs., Ms. or Miss: Addressing Modern Women

This is an interesting article about women's names and identities. A few of my Facebook friends have commented on it. I personally use Ms. but am not offended by Miss or Mrs., and I didn't change my last name back to my maiden name when I got divorced.

I think that the author makes a point when she points out that our maiden names are actually our father's names, so either way we didn't really "choose" them. I love the idea of people choosing their own last names when they get married, but that's not always popular with extended families. What do you think?

21 October 2009

the other 40 hour job

As anyone with a full time job, two preschoolers, and some semblance of a social life might be, I am always exhausted. And this past week was no exception, except now I am also sick (thanks to the previously mentioned job and preschoolers). I started feeling sick last Monday, and another Monday rolled around and I still wasn't feeling much better. And so I decided that I needed to take a drastic step and put myself on a sleep diet.

Only this diet was the fattening-up kind, the kind you do before a wrestling match or you are going to be slaughtered for Thanksgiving dinner (okay, neither of those are practical similes, but you get the point).

Anyway, I've been attempting to get 8 hours of sleep per night. Last night I got into bed at 8:15 with the J Crew catalog and a copy of Self, turned on the Biggest Loser, and promptly fell asleep. I woke up this morning at 5 am. This is significant because I woke up- I wasn't woken up by an alarm clock, the cat, a three year old who has to pee, a four year old who wants to snuggle. And I really feel better today. It's amazing.

19 October 2009

The email purge links

Here's what I'm using to get rid of my massive (like MASSIVE) email backlog:

Now to figure out how to replicate this in my home... I'm thinking giant plastic bins might be the way to start... imagine putting ALL the toys in the living room in a giant plastic bin, and then dealing with them in small doses? Isn't that what they do on that show Clean Sweep? I think I need to have that show come to my house.

17 October 2009

The Purge

I don't know if it's fall, or a phase or what, but I've been feeling the need to get rid of things and start fresh lately. My mom has been helping me tackle my house, which is a massive toy pit. Actually, it's a tiny 1000 sq ft toy pit. There's no room for anything, and the layouts of the rooms make it even harder. There's tons of dead space and too much going on where I actually need to walk... Anyway, not only this, but I also tried one of those inbox-zero email time savor tricks. It seems good so far but we'll see how long it lasts. It would be great to not spend 3 hours a day staring at email.

Too bad I can't move my house into a backlog folder... or maybe I could... hmmmm...

14 October 2009

on being single with children

My "new life" definitely has its pros and cons. For example, sometimes its hard to have to be the adult who does ALL the adult things in the house- I take care of the kids, I work, I make the lunches, I wash the clothes, I pay the bills, I take out the trash, I kill the spiders, etc. Not only that, but I have to be the tough one, the disciplinarian, the one who says no. I hate this sometimes, because I want to be the fun parent. I would like to say "Wait til your father gets home" once in a while.

It's very emotionally draining to always have to follow through on what I say, even if that means spending 30 minutes making a 4 year old stay in time out, or not going somewhere fun because I said that we wouldn't go if they didn't listen or stop fighting or whatever it is that they are doing.

That being said, there are 2 nights and one day a week that I don't have to cook dinner, and I can watch tv or relax or read or take a nap or do whatever I want. This is awesome.

But my favorite part of being a single mom? Watching every single stupid show that I love to watch (Project Runway, the Hills, America's Next Top Model, etc) and never, ever having to watch another creepy Law and Order or show about monster trucks.

I may never date again.

12 October 2009

A day at the farm

Today was the annual school field trip to the farm, always a fascinating and yet macabre adventure. There's just something about standing in front of a 400 lb pig while a woman sticks Velcro-backed drawings of bacon and spareribs to a wood cutout silhouette of a pig that makes me want to die a little. Not to mention the fact that soon the pig is apparently leaving them to "go to another farm," which one can only assume looks like that barn in the movie Twister with all the knives in it.

And to add insult to injury, we came home and had ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch. And to think I was a vegetarian for 13 years.

11 October 2009

it's about that time

So, I started a new blog. It's called "Building Villages" and it's about my life moving on from the divorce and all of the upheaval that has come with it.

Basically, I love writing this, and I miss having a lot to say, but honestly, I just don't have that much to share anymore. I'm VERY slowly paying things off, but this is going to take a while. My ex still isn't giving me what he's supposed to, and there are only so many times I can right about that. I need to move on, and part of that is to move on from here, too. So, I started a new place where I can write about more than just finance- I can write about life and my kids and my job and all kinds of fun stuff. I am pretty excited about it. I hope you come over and check it out. It's kind of pretty, too- this blog was always sort of ugly, I have to admit!

Anyway, here it is: http://buildingvillages.blogspot.com/

See you there!

real life

I've been blogging for nearly two years now, when I started a blog called "The Year of Frugal Living." Twenty two months later, I've pretty much run out of things to say about Frugal Living and how my ex husband never pays his child support, and I'm pretty sure everyone else is tired of hearing about it. I'm not making fast progress, not enough to keep writing every day about it (although I'm still working on the debt paydown- I may move the ticker over to this blog).

But I don't want to stop blogging, so I started a new blog, sort of about my life, and sort of about the reconstruction of my happiness after the divorce and all of that. I've talked about building villages before, and it's something I think is fascinating and real. It also gives me an excuse to talk about my real life- my kids, my job, fun stuff. I'm excited.

So, if you're coming over from the YOFL, thanks for sticking with me, and if you're new, thanks for coming. You get to be in the village, too.

26 September 2009

Trucking through

I haven't been doing anything really special to either spend less or pay off more, mostly because I'm at a point where I don't feel that there is much left to do. My ex still hasn't been giving me anything towards our debt, which means that I'm way behind in paying down that balance transfer card. I just keep reminding myself that there are a few good things on the horizon, and hopefully things will get better.

One thing that isn't actually different but FEELS different is that I'm not really getting upset when he doesn't give me anything for the debt. Yes, I'm marking it down, and yes, I plan to take him back to court again if I don't start seeing something from him by the end of the year, but instead of being physically sick over it, I'm sort of just... okay. I feel fine, unaffected. I even bought myself a game for the Nintendo DS I got for my birthday last year, and I feel pretty good about it.

However, I do have to tell you that Target is clearancing everything out of the store right now, and I have every intention of heading there tomorrow for some stocking up on things. That pocketbook thing to carry my work stuff that I was lusting over a few weeks ago is 30% off, and so are lots of things like sheets and bookshelves and stuff. Two years ago I found mattress covers for twin beds for 9 bucks that have served me well since, so I'm hoping for some things like that. And there are always birthday and Christmas presents to start keeping an eye out for. So I'll certainly update tomorrow on any amazing deals.

Life goes on. It always will. The trick is to move forward to the good stuff without getting held back by the bad. It's not always easy, but this is the one and only life we get, and I for one don't want it to be less than fantastic because of other people.

19 September 2009

Between now and then

I found out yesterday that in December I'll be getting a nice chunk of change. My yearly wage increase was delayed because of the state budget, and so in December I'll be getting my raise- retroactive to the Spring! Also, I submitted for reimbursement for my work trip to Chicago and that should come through in December. So even though right now I feel broke and stretched to the bone, at least there is something to look forward to.

So in the meanwhile, I need to figure out how to deal with that money, so I don't blow it all on Christmas presents or celebratory shopping trips. I don't know what the total amount will be, so here's what I think I will do:

  • The reimbursement for travel will go right to the credit card. I may need to use that money for my next conference, so if I do I will just charge it with the same card and kind of roll that money over.
  • The raise and lump sum payment will "top off" whatever I'm short on for Christmas presents (plan for that is still forthcoming). The remainder will go to replenish the emergency savings account, and what ever is left will go to the credit card with the zero interest rate.

Not exciting, but sound. And the work trip in January will tie me over in the travel lust department!

16 September 2009


I have a wicked head cold. My face feels numb! I think my body finally relaxed after the court date. So far things have been fine, except I'm still totally pissed and disappointed in my ex's parents thinking I wasn't being straightforward about money. Grrr.

Need to go to bed.

14 September 2009

Back from court

I'm home. It went pretty well, things started off rough with lots of arguing on his part, but I kept my cool (except for the fire red cheeks I'm sure I had) and stood my ground and told the truth, and when all was said and done, he realized that he really did owe me money.

The mediator said that I could go forward with the drug testing, but since he has supervised visitation, and since I can refuse him visitation if I think he's high, there really wasn't any point. But, interestingly enough, he refused to do it anyway, and the mediator said "your refusal tells me you are still using drugs." I had to laugh (not out loud!) at that. Of course it does.

So in the end, he agreed to pay me back that money within 6 months, and I showed him that I will stand up for myself. We had a nice talk afterwards about getting along and communicating, and I think this was very good. I'm also so, so glad it's over.

Thank you for all of your support, it really means a lot to me.

13 September 2009

Holding him accountable

I did something really scary. I went down to the courthouse a few weeks ago, and filed a motion of contempt for the missing debt payments, the missed visitations, and the drug use. And now the court date is tomorrow and I'm freaking out. like FREAKING OUT. He's mad at me for this, his parents are mad at me (or at least I think so, since they are being weird and cold and not helpful when I ask them if they have any idea why he's not paying me), and I'm scared.

I'm also representing myself, since I couldn't afford the lawyer. So I have a big stack of bank statements, credit card statements, and a huge excel file that shows how much he paid each week and how much he owes me.

The court time is 9:30 (EST) tomorrow so I'll update afterwards, but if you read this, please keep me in your thoughts/prayers/wishes tomorrow. I'm scared and I know it will help to know people are behind me on this.


05 September 2009


You'll never guess what happened!

The ex shorted me 50% of his weekly money. I know, shocker. And then, to add insult to injury, he asked me proof that I've been paying the bills. This is hilarious because a) of course I've been paying them and b) when I added everything up I realized that he actually owes me 6000 dollars. Yeah.

The reason he's doing this is because I finally got fed up a few weeks ago and I filed a motion of contempt to have him held accountable for his missed support, missed visitations, and to have him drug tested by the courts. And he's MAD. So what.

After I got off the phone with him, I felt defeated. Maybe I should just file bankruptcy. Then I won't be dependant on him any more. Maybe then I could actually be happy and enjoy my life. I don't know. I decided to wait until the court date (9/14) to see what happens. Then I'll make a decision.

30 August 2009

First Day of School

Tomorrow is the first day of school for both my kids! Kindergarten for Mr 4 and Preschool for Mr 3.

I'm heading to Target to buy them snacks for school. Yes, I know this is a risk. Yes, I know I realllllly want/need a new pocketbook. Yes, I know they have the one I want at Target. But I'm going there anyway. My will is strong. Or maybe it will be on sale. :)

I ripped out a few of those "cute lunches" articles from Parents and Better Homes and Gardens and I'm bringing them for ideas. I'm also going to look for more little boxes for their lunch foods, instead of using individually wrapped things. We recently went to a museum where they showed two lunches, one with all reusable things and one with all packaged stuff and I asked them which one looked like their lunches, and they picked the reusable one. It was cool! Plus, this month in preschool they are learning about reusing and recycling.

I'm so excited!

22 August 2009

The balance transfer challenge

If you haven't already noticed this about me, I'm highly competitive. Everything is a challenge. So when I saw that the balance transfer went through, I quickly calculated how much I will need to pay each month to have that whole balance paid off in 12 months, and the race is on. I'm pumped!

I am taking my kids for new school shoes today. I have been a quality over quantity kids' shoe buyer from the beginning, a concept I strongly believe is achievable because I have boys. So each fall, spring and summer they get one pair of shoes from Stride Rite, who always seems to size them big enough to fit and last the months that follow. I packed a lunch so we can stay at the mall until lunch and play in the play area, which is healthier and will save us money.

Now if I could only leave these kids home, it would be a great day. :D

18 August 2009

Check me out!

I’m posting this via email! Part of the reason that my posts have become much more infrequent lately is that I used to post from my Blackberry but I hate typing on the iPhone so I haven’t been doing it. Then I realized that Blogger allows you to post via email, and I’m trying it out. So far, so good!


I started the book, but I’m not in it enough to post yet, so there is still plenty of time to find a copy! I go through books slowly because I don’t have a lot of time to read.


I transferred the balance on that credit card and then yesterday I increased my allowances on my taxes so that my paycheck will get larger. I have until August 2010 with this zero balance transfer and I plan on using that as a deadline to pay that card off. In the past I have transferred balances and then paid off high interest debt while the other amount remained at zero percent. I’m switching this up because now it feels like a race or a challenge to pay it off before the interest rate skyrockets, plus then I won’t have to deal with transferring the balance again, which costs me in fees. I feel confident because I’m so dedicated to paying this off, so I wouldn’t recommend this unless you think you can either pay off the balance or find another good rate to transfer to when the offer expires.


16 August 2009

Introducing the Year of Frugal Living Book Club!

That's right! Now you can read along with me and discuss books that have to do with money, food, life and everything in between. And you'll even get to discuss them with a real librarian! (Not that I run book clubs in real life or anything... )

This is how it's going to work- I have selected Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal Vegetable Miracle" for the first book, after that if others would like to suggest titles I think that would be great. The best place to get the book is your local library- use this search to find out where you can score one locally if you're not already a library user.

Anyway, every couple of days I'll post the title of one of the chapters and then everyone can comment on it with our thoughts, so that if you haven't read that far yet it won't be a spoiler for you.

I hope this is something that people are interested in! I'm excited.

A quick observation

I am a label reader at the grocery store, and I have noticed that often times the store brands actually have less bad additives (high fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutomate, etc) in them than the name brands. For example, Lenders bagels have corn syrup, but the store brand doesn't, Gorton's fish sticks have MSG, but the store brand doesn't and Target brand fruit loops don't have corn syrup either. And the store brand is obviously cheaper!

15 August 2009

Breaking away

I just got back from a little vacation to a friend's house (the same friend that invited us away last summer) and found out that my ex took off again while I was gone, but he's back already.

In the 12 hours or so between finding out he was missing and getting a call from him that he was back, I did a lot of thinking about my life and what I want and need to do to be happy. What I came up with is this:
I need to live my life as if he did not exist. I need to worry about myself and
my kids. I deserve to be happy.

I tried to take an extra job to make some more money but right now it doesn't look like that is going to work out. I have decided to change the allowances in my taxes to give me more money per paycheck, mainly because I have already paid in what I owed last year, and I'll be taking both kids as dependants for 2009 since my ex owes me child support (that's what the divorce agreement says). I found a balance transfer that looks like a good opportunity, and I am starting to think about having a tag sale, even though I really don't want to. I also plan on pursuing a class in the Spring instead, or maybe doing some other extra work that one of my bosses mentioned to me.

In the meanwhile, I'm going to restructure my budget to reflect this goal of not depending on my ex. That way, when he DOES give me child support money each week, it will go directly to debt. I don't think I make enough to cover all my bills by myself, but I do think I can come close if I increase my income with the tax thing and decrease my debt payment by doing the balance transfer and then quickly paying off my car (which should free up 250$ a month to put towards credit cards).

I think this will give me a real emotional boost.

04 August 2009

Michael Pollan on Cooking

In this week's New York Times Magazine, Michael Pollan (one of my all time favorite writers) talks about cooking:

Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch
Published: August 2, 2009
How American cooking became a spectator sport, and what we lost along the way.
*Just a few words from me on this:

When people cut their budget, one of the first things that
gets cut is groceries. Not only does this end up being
time consuming (all the coupon cutting, flyer scouring,
driving to the cheapest store) but it negatively impacts
the quality of the food you buy. I've talked about this
before, but the food you eat is the fuel that helps you
work hard, play hard and feel good. Not only that, but a
good diet is a good investment in your health. So, visit the farmer's market, check out a cookbook from the library,
and go for it.

03 August 2009

the moral of the story

I have a confession- I nearly gave up.

With the disappearance of my ex husband came the disappearance of most of my child support, and no stop to my bills. And I had to travel for work, which means putting out my own money and waiting a LONG time to be reimbursed, and also a birthday party or two and, to be honest, a summer filled with fun and money spent.

And so in all this lack of income and money spent was a sense of failure. Like I was undoing everything I had done, and it was never going to get better. I looked up bankruptcy, but decided against it. I thought about asking for a loan, but didn't. I ignored my bills because I didn't want to see how bad it was, and even bounced a check.

At the last minute, though, I didn't give up. And what I think the secret is is never, ever give up. So you screw up? Get back on track the next morning. It's never worth giving up.

I *might* be teaching a class this fall, and that will bring in some extra money. If I do it, I'm hoping to pay off an entire credit card with the money. Then I can start working on paying off my car- something I have never done before! I have never really owned anything. I will be really proud when I send in that last payment!

26 July 2009

holy smokes!

Just to show how powerful automatic savings plans are, I just checked the balance of my retirement account yesterday after avoiding it since the stock market tanked. It's three times as big! I did a quadruple take! Who knew?! :)

This reminded me that it's almost time to set up my automatic Christmas savings account. If you didn't read this blog last year, in August I set up an automatic savings withdrawl from my regular checking to my ING savings account. Every payday. money would be automatically transferred. This worked well because a) it was automatic, b) it coincided with my annual raise so I didn't notice the difference and c) at Christmas time I had cash to spend, rather than charge anything.

25 July 2009

good news all around

I'm a year older, and a year wiser! I had a birthday, and that was awesome. I took this whole week of from work and we've been daytripping it all over the state of CT.

My ex has been giving me money each week (almost) and that is more than I was getting from his parents when he was gone, so I'm in better shape. I decided to take the extra money I have from him this month and refund my emergency savings account, which I had to use when he took off. So it will be a relief when that is back in place.

After that happens, I'm back to paying things off. I think I am getting my yearly raise in 3 weeks, so I'll have a little extra coming in to offset expenses.

And even though my tomatoes look terrible, I have a couple of peppers on their way!

21 July 2009

5 hours.

That's how long the tv stayed off.

That night was a breeze- I actually loved it. Next morning, I woke up, realized I needed to take a shower, and on it went. The No Impact Man has one kid and two parents- I'm outnumbered here. I need something to subdue my children so I can shower/go to the bathroom/clean. It's unfortunate, but true.

Things are good, though! We went to Boston, which was awesome. Stayed with a friend, used our museum pass to get into the Children's Museum, picnicked in the park and took the T. Lots of fun, and only cost gas money, $5 for the T, and some food.

Yesterday we went to another children's museum (pass again!) and swimming at a lake. Again, just gas money and $5 to park at the lifeguard-staffed swimming area. Good times!

And finally, in my most frugal achievement yet, my 3 year old appears to have finally conquered the potty. We're diaper free, for the first time since November 2004! I'm happy, but also sad. No more baby stuff... I guess it's good but I certainly wasn't one of those people who said "I am SO DONE having kids!" I always wanted one more. I guess time will tell!

Oh, and one more thing- look what I grew!!

17 July 2009

the no impact man and the tv

I am fortunate enough to write book reviews, and I was even more fortunate this month to review the book written by Colin Beavan, the guy who writes the blog No Impact Man (it's on my blogroll).

I won't get into the review, because it's not going to be published for another 6 weeks, but I will say that at one point, they give away their tv.

What happens is two things- all of a sudden, they have lots more free time. Time to read, time to play with their daughter uninterrupted, time to have some (ahem) marital relations. (Not that I hope or plan to do that again- like, ever- but you may want to. Someone's got to, I guess.)

In addition, they stop wanting to buy so many things, because they aren't watching commercials.

Today was my last day of work before a week's vacation, which means I will be home with the kids for the next 9 days. It occurred to me that this might be a fun time to try out this whole "no-tv" thing. So when we got home tonight, I just didn't turn it on. I suggested they play on our screened in porch, or their rooms, and they chose and ran off. Then after dinner they chose to play a computer game (does that count as tv?) and never once seemed to notice that the tv was off the whole time.

On a totally unrelated note, my cat Piper brought us her first dead mouse tonight. We all sort of stared at it for 5 minutes, and then I dustpanned it into a plastic bag and we threw it in the garbage can outside. Yes, all three of us. It was quite the family bonding moment. The kids hugged Piper when we came in and congratulated her on her hard work. I secretly skeeved.

Sooooo.... we'll see how the morning goes. That's really our big "tv" time anyway. But I have a hot date with a book and a bowl of ice cream tonight instead.

16 July 2009

As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting. I can't really speak to why, other than to give a laundry list of excuses- lack of motivation on paying things off once my ex stopped paying me child support, being really busy, going on a business trip, a general failure of my garden (due to terrible weather and being really busy)... you get the picture. But then someone posted that they missed reading my posts, and it reminded me of how much this blog really means to me. So here I am.

Like I said, nothing has been paid down. In fact, I have accrued some new debt, mainly because of the child support issue. I've been paying my bills, but sort of blindly, which is never a good idea. So perhaps posting tonight will help fix that. I need it fixed, and now that he's back, maybe things will get back to "normal." (Whatever that means!)

I tried dating someone, and that didn't work out. Which sucks, because all I learned from it is that I have become incredibly clearheaded about who I am and what I want in my life, and has also reaffirmed that it's difficult at 30 to find someone who is equally as clearheaded and isn't already married, engaged, or seriously dating someone. And while that sucks, I guess it's not a terrible thing. I'm lucky to have a wonderful family, fantastic friends, and a career I love and feel passionately about. Right now, I think that's enough. I feel open to meeting a good person who can support me for who I am, I just don't know if that person will come along anytime soon. Maybe this blog will become the Year of Frugal Dating.

So, here I am. I'm sorry for leaving you. I hope to keep coming back, and any positive encouragement is appreciated. :)


18 June 2009

to be heard

I don't know about where you live, but here in New England it's been raining for a month. Without exaggeration. 

The grocery store project has failed in it's first test, which is ease of use. I logged in to Peapod, added a few items, and scheduled a time for my groceries to be delivered the next day. I didn't confirm because I needed a few more things, and before I knew it, the deadline to confirm had passed. I have not had time to return to the site since. In the meanwhile, I went to the grocery store and still forgot a couple of things, including cat food. I am completely out of cat food and stuck at work with no time to get to the store and home. I fear for what the cats are doing to my stuff.

Can I just say how completely and totally overwhelmed I am? My younger son's 3rd birthday party is Saturday and I'm totally unprepared for both the party and the rain that is predicted to ruin it. My ex is moving back in with his parents tomorrow and they've brought out a barrel full of crazy to celebrate the occasion. The babysitter (who is related to them) is fighting with them over MY kids, and its making me insane. 

My house is a freaking mess ALWAYS and I never have enough time to clean it. I'm overwhelmed at work and unhappy in general and this morning I just felt like I could imagine myself trapped in this glass box and just banging, banging on the walls to get out, to be heard. 

Did I mention I have a cold? :)

Serenity now! 

12 June 2009

I swear all I ever buy is groceries

It's been a while since I've really bought anything. I did get the new phone, but that was more out of necessity than desire- I still miss my old phone and wish it hadn't broken. But other than that, I have been INSANELY busy with work and personal commitments and have had less nights without the kids to even think about shopping, which i guess is probably a good thing.

Correction- I have been shopping a hundred times, and spent a ton of money. Too bad all of it was on food.

When I read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, I became interested in spending more money on quality food, because it's so important for your physical well-being and sense of fulfillment (nothing depresses me more than the sensation of thinking I can't afford food. Nothing). And I have, and it's been nice. But what I haven't mastered yet is working out menus so that I buy the right things, in the right quantities and at the right times so that things don't spoil before I get the chance to eat them.

So I'm thinking about perhaps using an online menu planner, and trying out Peapod. (If you don't know what that is, it's an online grocery service provided by my local grocery store chain.) That way I can do my planning/shopping on my lunch break at work, and spend more time doing the things I want to be doing.

So, here are my goals for starting this:

  1. Take an inventory of what I have in the house.
  2. Find an online meal planner to help me organize this.
  3. Start researching Peapod discounts and coupons.
  4. Try it out for 2 weeks and do a cost/time analysis.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Also, I started taking guitar lessons! They are free for me because I work at a college. How cool is that???

06 June 2009


I haven't quite adjusted to my new budget, and I accidentally overdrew my checking account. I sort of knew it was coming, I was avoiding checking my balance for the days beforehand, which is never a good thing. Luckily I got paid the next day, so it wasn't disastrous, but it certainly didn't feel good.

My ex is in rehab now, I guess (I haven't heard from him at all). Other than that, we're good- very. very busy at work, and getting ready for my younger son's 3rd birthday party.

31 May 2009

I'm not relieved

My ex is back. He was in jail! And the woman he was dating, the reason he was IN jail, bailed him out! Gee, thanks. Just what we all wanted.

Part of me wants to call her and tell her off for that. Seriously. I'm considering it.

He says he's going to a rehab facility tomorrow, and I hope he does, but I'll believe it when I see it. There's still 24 hours between now and then, and a lot can happen in 24 hours. How many seasons has 24 been on? ;)

In the meanwhile, the kids are doing okay, I'm angry but okay, and we're chugging along. On the bright side, my garden looks beeee-u-ti-ful. Love it.

25 May 2009

oh, if only every day could be like today

I gauge the success of my days by how dirty we are. If the kids are dirty and sticky, and I smell like dirt, then it's been a wonderful day.

It's been a wonderful day.

We woke up and had breakfast on the screened in porch, and then went for a walk. A coworker gave me his son's outgrown bike and my ex's dad came over and filled the tires and got them adjusted for the boys to ride. We chalked and swung on the swings and played tag. We listened to bluegrass on Pandora and ate lunch outside in the backyard.

And the garden! Oh, it's so pretty. It's almost done- the right side of the path is completely finished. Look how cute it is:

(from left to right: sugar snap peas, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and basil, chinese leeks)

Cute, right?

24 May 2009

making my village

I had a really interesting conversation with a professor at work on Friday. He was saying how he'd decided to leave the college and move on, and how he'd developed this nomadic lifestyle of saving up like 50,000 dollars, taking a job somewhere interesting (he'd just come from Hawaii), living off his savings until he got settled in, build the savings back up while he worked, and move on (he was planning on heading to Spain next). He said that, at his age (mid 50's) he didn't expect to be unmarried, childless, and living place to place like he was, and for a while people sort of felt bad for him, and he felt bad for himself too. But now, he was the envy of all his friends! (And me!)

So we started talking about families and marriage and single parents and communities and he said something about single moms that kind of bugged me, something about how it wasn't natural for them to be alone. I explained to him about how I've done my best to create an extended family for my children by staying close with both sets of grandparents, and by having cousins and friends over as much as possible. I told him about my Thursday night ladies' night (if I haven't ever mentioned it, my girlfriends come over every Thursday for dinner, drinks and tv) and my cookouts and how my kids are close and comfortable with an extended "family" of people who care about them. And I told him I thought this was just as good as having a husband.

And you know what he said? He said, "Just as good? It's better." He went on to say how many married people are isolated in their marriage, how they don't spend time with friends and their relationship revolves around their children. He felt, and I can see why this would be true, that this model of the family: one dad, one mom, 2.5 kids, evolved as people moved out of villages and into suburbs, where there is no town square, no central spot for congregation, no connection with the community you live in. You know that expression "it takes a village to raise a child"? Some families have lost their village, if that makes sense.

And for me, I may have lost my husband, my partner, but I reconstructed my village. And villagers, since many of you read this, I love you.

21 May 2009

not giving up

I woke up yesterday with a new lease on life. After the previous evening's misery, I was shocked at how different I felt the next day. Then I found out why- it was of the hormonal variety. Oops. I need to check my calendar before I make any rash life decisions. It just goes to show you, you should always sleep on it.

Anyway, I'm not giving up just yet. I'm shuffling my priorities, going back to the Dave Ramsey "Pay off the smallest balance first" plan. I figured it out yesterday, and out of my 4 debts (3 credit cards and one car loan), I can have the car and one cc paid off in a year. One caveat- I need to defer my student loans to do this.

I have decided that this is the best option for me right now because my student loans are not going anywhere. They are massive, I'm making NO dent in them right now with the payment I AM making monthly, and even if I did file for bankruptcy, they wouldn't qualify as dissolvable debt (I checked). Plus, student loans don't affect your credit like credit cards, and putting them in deferment won't hurt your credit like missing a credit card payment.

Basically, for the small impact on my balance, I will pay off more in credit card debt, pay off my car, and retain my good credit score. This might be a last ditch effort, but I think it sounds like a smart one.

19 May 2009

the jealousy

Thanks to facebook, I now know every detail of the lives of pretty much everyone I've ever met, gone to high school with, etc. In many ways, this is a good thing. But it's also caused me to realize something: if there is such a thing as a "normal life," I'm really not living it.

Basically, everyone I went to high school with went to college, got a job, met a someone, got engaged and had things like engagement parties and wedding showers (I know this because there is photographic evidence to back it up), got married, bought houses, got pregnant, etc. There seems to be no end to the cute, smiling wedding photos, the baby announcements, the mentions of things like "girls weekend" and sailing trips, buying houses, calling plumbers, etc. Normal things that 30 year olds do, or are starting to do.

Now of course I realize that this is not a realistic portrayal of everyone's whole life, it's not like they are posting all the bad parts, but seriously, these people seem happy.

Me? I married a drug addict, had two babies with him while living in crappy apartments and then got divorced. No engagement party, no house. No girls weekend. No boat. No Pottery Barn Baby bedding. And it's fine, right? It's fine. I'm fine with it. I made my decisions, I have two beautiful children, I got a master's degree somewhere between the eloping and baby number 2, and I have a great job that I'm good at and have enjoyed some success (I was in a national magazine this month!).

But truth be told, I'm jealous. With my ex not paying child support, my debt payoff goal has been pushed back by years. YEARS. I've even been wondering if filing for bankruptcy is my best option. I'll probably never be able to buy a house, or not for a long time. And buying your first house at 40 or something is depressing. I'm working my butt off to fix things, to stay afloat, and I know I'm doing right by my kids, but what am I doing for me? I'm essentially working my butt off to make up for a bad decision I made when I was 24 years old. I've wasted more than half my 20s and now probably all my 30s because I was too afraid to admit that I knew I was making a mistake. I had no idea.

It's hard to admit that you feel jipped by life, when you know it could always be worse. I could be homeless. Heck, I could still be married to him. Something could have happened to my kids. Something could have happened to me. But it still doesn't make me feel better when I see those "my hubby hung up the baby's shelves tonight!" status updates. I'm just being honest, I guess.

18 May 2009

Balance Transfers

I'm considering transferring some balances, to help lower my interest rates. I've been getting some of those "3.9% until 2011" offers and that's lower than I'm paying for most of my debt, so I have to work out how that will be most effective. In addition, my ex's parents are helping me (although only about half of what he was giving me) and they are giving me money monthly, instead of weekly, so I'm thinking about just paying off some debt in a big chunk, rather than weekly bits like I was doing before. It all requires some math and some time and concentration to figure out, which I don't really have much of at the moment.

It's really hard to figure out what to do since I have no idea what the future holds. My ex is still MIA, so I have no idea when he'll come back, if ever. I'm incredibly stressed about it, and angry too. And sad for my kids. I just don't understand how anyone could do this to any child, and I certainly don't understand how he could do this to our children. So I'm just trying to keep it together for them, keep them in their schedules and have family around a lot. I mean, what else can I really do?

11 May 2009

Garden Update 5/11/09

Here's how things are looking:
(from left to right- peas, lettuce, marigolds)
spinach, broccoli, beets

that's spinach, in the middle. I thought it was a weed at first!

strawberries, the same ones I had last year- they came back.

my seedlings- the pumpkins look great!


08 May 2009

how I saved 40 dollars a month by buying an iphone

First of all, let me say that I'm working things out financially. I think I'll be okay, and if I'm not, I'll figure it out. I always do, right?

So anyway, the phone. I have a smartphone. It is sort of the thing that keeps me together. I take notes for work in it, put my grocery lists in there, get directions when I get lost (which is often). So when my phone died a few days ago, I had a crisis of conscience- do I replace the smartphone with another smartphone, or buy something cheap, or go without?

So I called my service provider, talked to them about my phone bill, cable, internet, and then my cell. After all that talking, they knocked 5$ off my phone bill, took a 5$ "insurance" charge off that I highly doubt I agreed to, and informed me that the data plan for the phone I want was $30 dollars less than the one I have (why, I have no idea). So just like that, I saved $40 a MONTH off my bill, all by breaking my cell phone! By the way, that's 480$ a year. Seriously!

So no matter how financially savvy you are (or think you are), there are always negotiations to be made. And no matter how screwed you think you are (or really are), there's very rarely NO WAY out. It just takes some faith, some creativity, and a little congeniality to boot.

06 May 2009

the party's over, but not in a good way

I'm screwed.

I can't afford to pay my bills. My inlaws offered to help me, but even that isn't enough.


I'm running all the options through my head- what if I cancel the cell phone, the cable, the long distance... transfer a credit card balance... put my student loan in forebearance... I have no idea. I really have no idea.

04 May 2009

Invitation to the Pity Party

I'm so, so bummed out.

Basically, my ex doesn't seem to care that he's left us high and dry. So now I don't know what I will do about my bills. Basically, if it weren't for the debt he left us with, we'd be okay. I make a decent amount of money, and I live cheaply. But I have this mountain of debt to pay off, and I can't do it by myself.

I can file for the back child support, but he doesn't have a job, and it hasn't been that long (a little over 2 weeks).

I can ask his parents for a loan, but who knows when I could pay it back.

I could file for bankruptcy, or sue him (maybe, I don't even know for sure).

Or I can just sit here and cry, which is what I'm doing.

03 May 2009


Is there a way to get them to not be leggy without a grow light? The big guys in the foreground are sugar pumpkins, followed by peas, carrots, sunflowers and watermelons.

02 May 2009

on the bright side

My garden is doing GREAT! I have the following things actively growing IN the garden- potatoes, lettuce, sugar snap peas, spinach, beets and broccoli. Plus, I have a seed tray going with some very healthy looking pumpkins, watermelon, shelling peas, carrots and sunflowers.

The ex is still on the lamb, but he's been heard from so I know what he's doing. Still no word on how I'm expected to pay my bills, but I'm hoping for a miracle.

I don't really know what to say. I mean, obviously I'm pissed, but at the same time, I barely care what happens to him. I'm really only pissed on behalf of the kids, and because of the money. What he does is really beyond my realm of care.

27 April 2009

26 April 2009

What's been going on

You may have noticed I haven't been posting. Well, here's what's going on.

My ex took off. No one has seen or heard from him in a week. His parents are fairly sure he's at the house of the girl he was dating over the winter, because they pulled his phone records and he called her right before he disappeared. They went over there and her kid (3 years old!) answered the door and said he was there, but he wouldn't come to the door.

He's missed three visitations and one child support payment. I'm really not sure what I'm going to do without child support. I'm planning on calling the lawyer this week to see what my options are.

I'm left with a mixed bag of emotions. Part of me is livid. He blew off his kids, his responsibilities, left me to handle it all- the kids' questions, the childcare, the bills. The other part of me is relieved. I hate him. I think we would be better off if he never came back.

I don't know what to do/think/feel.

However, as all moms (and some dads, too, I know) do, I've just kept going. I've been keeping the kids busy playing, working in the garden, giving them extra love.

Here are a few pictures of what we've been working on:

Project Clothesline is back in full effect, thanks to unseasonably warm weather in New England:

We've begun gardening, planting peas...

lettuce, spinach, beets and potatoes.

I guess it could be worse. Sigh.

15 April 2009

a big, fat mess

I've been sort of losing it for the last couple of months. I'll admit it. I think that I took the whole actually being divorced thing harder than I thought, because I feel like it all started around then. Basically, I gained like 15 pounds, starting feeling really crappy all the time, and blew all my savings on a combination of paying my taxes, buying gifts for everyone I know, and going out to eat a million times, which probably contributed to the weight gain.

I actually owe more than I did last month. This hasn't happened since I started this in January 2008. I feel like the people must feel on the Biggest Loser, when you know they know they f*ed up, but for some reason they are still shocked and saddened when the scale reads +2 and everyone gasps and cries.

Did you gasp and cry? I did when I paid my bills this week.

I don't feel like I have any answers right now. I'm going to sleep on it, but no "I can do this!!" from me tonight. It would have been my 6th wedding anniversary today, and I think that I'm sad. Who'd a thunk it.

14 April 2009

yesssss (fist pump)

the peas are growing. they've sprouted! it's begun!

(sorry for the bad photo quality, cell phone)

11 April 2009

so yeah

I did end up owing, and I did end up with a refund on my state taxes, but it's not quite enough to cover what I owe federal. Luckily it's only about 300 dollars difference, which I have in savings and can cover without issue. I guess that happened because they took out taxes as if I was married, but I had to file as a single person because we got divorced before Dec 31st (this was news to me).

I'm still kind of glad I underpaid because that money has been earning me interest and saving me from paying interest all year, rather than loaning it to the government interest free. In fact, I think I'll underpay again this year, because I think I can handle paying taxes instead of getting a refund.

So, that's done! And I never have to file with my ex again. Whew.

tax day

I put off doing my taxes until now because I'm fairly sure I'll be paying this year. I didn't have a lot taken out because I didn't want my ex to get any of my refund like he did last year, plus, I figured I'd use the money to pay off debt and worry about owing when the time comes.

I do think I might get a refund for state taxes, though, so I'm hoping it will even out. Worst case scenario, I use my savings to pay my taxes and then build up my savings again.

I am going to the accountant (at noon) that we've always gone to, and I'm going with my ex, so that he can see if filing together works out better (we can choose because we were married for like 350 of the 365 days of 2008). I'll let you know how it goes!

10 April 2009


I have been anxiously awaiting the sprouting of the peas, to the point where I've been checking on them from the window with binoculars. (dork!) Today I was outside digging things up and moving the walkway (and breaking one of the stepping stones in the process) and I couldn't take it anymore. I dug one up! It was swollen and a small root was starting to stick out. A few more weeks and some good, warm rain and we'll be in business.

I checked the Skippy's Vegetable Garden blog on my blogroll for pea info (she's amazing) and it seems like that's pretty typical, as was the digging up of a seed, so I guess it's normal! I just can't wait. Last year I planted like 6 seeds because I got in late and didn't use any inoculant. This year I planted three rows! I'm dying to eat those sugar snap peas!