13 September 2018

Payday! (Almost!)

The start of the school year is not only like an actual new year, it feels as expensive as Christmas - but with money due sooner and no warning! Course, it doesn't make a lot of sense to say it's 'with no warning' - fall comes at the same time each year, I should be ready for it... Working for the schools, though, means I've reached the end of my summer savings. Yay for payday tomorrow!

What I'm 'Thinking out Loud' this Thursday is that tomorrow is payday, and I've got a list of stuff waiting for money!

Birthday gift
We're going to a 'destination' birthday party this weekend at Great Wolf Lodge, so we certainly need to get a birthday gift for the wonderful one-year-old.

Great Wolf Lodge
Luckily, we paid for our reservation a couple weeks ago, but in looking at their website, it looks like my kids will need a wand or something for some scavenger hunt? If you've been, please clue me in: what's really necessary for the kids? I know I'll be bringing a book or two, and planning a few dollars for tropical drinks in the water park.

My daughter started middle school this year, so pictures were before school started (so they can get their id cards ASAP) and yearbook orders are cheapest (read: $45) before the end of  September.

Stitch Fix
My son got his first kid's Stitch Fix box! And I extended our return date til tomorrow's payday. Luckily for me, they sent me a ridiculous pair of joggers I'd only let him wear as PJs, and some jeans with a button and zipper (gasp - unacceptable to him! LOL). So I think I'll only end up buying about half of the ten items...

Birthday party
My son's birthday party is later this month, so I've got some work to do for that too! I ordered some great invitations based on his favorite tv show - Gravity Falls - from Etsy, but now I need to print and mail them, for starters. Then I still need to browse for some more stuff for party games and cupcakes. Wish me luck on all this!

I've also got a box of three dinners coming from Hello Fresh next week, that the charge comes out for tomorrow.

School lunch accounts
The best thing about middle school, it turns out, is the cafeteria. Pizza, pretzels, slushies, fro-yo - EVERYDAY!! I'm teaching her to watch her expenses by depositing a set amount for each day, but that means, you know, money. Hahaha... and the boy-child needs to eat too, even if less of it is at school.

The rest
Once I've got most of that in place, I'll still need our regular groceries, toiletries, and other cleaning/personal care/etc that we need all the time.

Oh, and of course I want to start setting money aside for the actual holidays, so I can still have some walking around money from each check between now and then and not need to panic in mid-December. I'll all work out - I'm grateful to be back at work!

11 September 2018

Books - August 2018

My reading habits were pretty solid in August. I also got some more books to review, so I'm done picking my own for a while. In August, I finished two books that I really wanted to read on my own (rounding out the Madd Addam trilogy by Margaret Atwood) and two books that were published on September 1, for review.

The first book I finished in August was The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. This was the second book in the MaddAddam trilogy. I finished Oryx & Crake (the first book in the trilogy) in July.

All three books were about some of the same events, from different perspectives. The first one ended with a bit of a cliffhanger, that really isn't addressed again til the viewpoint of the third book.

I love dystopian fiction (or as Margaret Atwood calls it, speculative fiction), and Margaret Atwood is a phenomenally imaginative story-teller. Of course I loved both The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam (my second book read in August, and the third in the trilogy). I would recommend the trilogy to fans of Margaret Atwood's fiction, or dystopian fiction in general.

The third book I finished in August was All This I Will Give to You by Dolores Redondo. This is a big book, and I became very engrossed in the characters and the mystery they were trying to solve.

Manuel's husband of more than a decade dies miles from where he's supposed to be, and when Manuel goes to identify the body, he finds the family his husband's mother, siblings, in-laws, and lots of drama. Instead of getting closure and moving on, Manuel has a lot of questions he wants answers to first. Check out my full review on Books I Think You Should Read.

The last book I finished in August was I Will Never Leave You by S.M. Thayer. While it was labeled as a thriller, I enjoyed it more as a light read. I found the characters quirky and amusing, but not very relatable.

A super rich woman finds out her husband has a girlfriend and a baby on the way. The girlfriend is hoping to turn her life completely around with the rich new man in her life, and the wife is hoping to eliminate the girlfriend and finally have the baby of her dreams. What a convoluted situation! My full review is on Books I Think You Should Read.

As you know, September is back to school and work for me, but I'm really trying to continue carving out a little 'me' time for reading. I've got one book read and reviewed so far, and hopefully I'll make progress on a few more. Wish me luck!

06 September 2018

Trying to get back in my groove...

Work and back to school have been kicking my tushie! Yesterday I was a zombie all afternoon, but a good night's sleep last night has made me feel a ton better.

While checking around on some blogging friends, I found Ann, who today is participating with Thinking Out Loud Thursday and Thankful Thursday. They both sounded like a good idea to me!

What I'm thinking out loud about, as the school year starts for this lunch room employee, is parents actually recognizing the importance of being 100% truthful about food allergies.

I know that sounds sort of odd, but I've encountered a few kids who had allergy alerts on their lunch accounts (which will stop me from selling anything containing the stated allergen to the child), but then removed it at a later date. What's up with that? The only real reason I can think of is that it was a sensitivity, not a true allergy, and the child has matured to the point that they can choose their level of exposure. Unfortunately, most parents want it to be something where they just tell the lunch lady it's all good - there are actually official procedures to change something as serious as a food allergy on a child's account.

I'm so grateful not to deal with any food allergies in my personal life, but it really annoys me that some parents seem to use an 'allergy' as an excuse to monitor their child, when there are truly life-threatening allergies that must be taken seriously. The importance of the correct response to a real allergy is so serious, and I hate seeing it diluted when a parent changes their mind about an allergy periodically. Allergies can be life and death, and that's how we treat them in the kitchen.

And in an interesting twist, today I'm thankful for a job where I feel valued and appreciated. I love the kids I work with daily, and I'm even lucky enough to have great co-workers at both locations where I work. It all makes waking up at 6am til halfway through June a little bit better.

31 August 2018

10 Random Things for Friday

  1. School again, already?? I have three days left of vacation - and we plan on making the most of it!
  2. And in the midst of all this chaos, I'll also start planning lil man's birthday party. His birthday is October 1. We picked out the invites today. I figure I can wait a couple weeks to find some games and a cake on Pinterest. He loves the show Gravity Falls and wants it as the theme for an at home birthday party. With a cotton candy machine.
  3. I've tried a few boxes of Hello Fresh and enjoyed it, but tonight I'm making my first Home Chef meal. I'm deciding between the Steak & Corn Burrito Bowl or the Steak Bourguignon. Hubby is on his way out of town, so I'll ask him which one he wants less (cuz he's missing dinner tonight!).
  4. This is also the time of year that my flowers start suffering. Life gets so busy, I don't make time to mellow on the porch and water them like I do in spring and the lazy middle of summer.
  5. After ZOOMING through two books when I was home alone a couple weekends ago, I keep looking guiltily at the one that I'm not picking up at every free second. It's like I've used up my sitting-still-reading energy. Hahaha...
  6. The kids have a friend over today, and they keep dragging me to their 'competition' zones or bringing me pictures so I can judge all their stuffed animal pageants. I tried giving them each a prize for a different category, but that wasn't cutting it today. I have to pick a WINNER each time. They've promised me there will be no hurt feelings, and so far they've followed through....
  7. I'm looking forward to revitalizing my aquarium soon. I think the black-hair algae is gone, so now I just need to clean the slime off the sides again and I can add in more rocks and fish. Which both take money. C'mon, payday!
  8. That picture is a real rose by my front porch. I received four rose bushes as part of a promotion last year, and these beauties still bloom beautifully all summer long! I love em!
  9. I'm still secretly anxious that I won't recognize the kids in the lunch room next week, and they'll all get their feelings hurt when I have to ask their name to ring up their breakfasts. Ugh. I know I'll love being back once I get there, but I hate being nervous now.
  10. What's your favorite thing about fall, or going back to school? They seem almost the same to me...

30 August 2018

Happy September (Almost...)

There's something about September and back to school that feels more like a 'new year' than new years does to me, ya know?

This is the week I'm thinking about needing a new calendar to handle all of the new school year dates (through JUNE of next year, people!). And I'm sure I'll give in and get my next Erin Condren planner before October ends.

I also start setting new goals and planning how to meet them in September (and beyond). I'm going to drink more water, go to bed on time before I have to get up so early for work, and eat breakfast before work each morning. And I'll save part of my paychecks so the winter holidays don't sneak up on me like the end of summer and beginning of fall did.

I've got a son who will frequently need to head into my work with me before going to school (sorry, dude!) because my daughter will catch the bus before I even need to leave for work (which means she can't help her lil brother get on the bus in the morning). We've all got big changes for next week. Although some may think we should be using this week to prep andn practice for the reality of next week, instead we're just worrying about it now and we'll dive in with both feet next week.

It feels like we have a lot less changes to process for moving from 2018 to 2019, but moving to the 2018-2019 school year warrants more preparedness. Honestly, I even felt this way in those few years between finishing school for myself and getting kids into the educational system. My 17+ years of schooling gave me habits that are hard to break!

I think the newness is secretly part of why fall is my favorite season. I do love getting back to the structure of it all, probably as much as the crisp air and Halloween.

What's your favorite part of fall? I know it's less noticeable with a life not revolving around kids, but it's still hard to miss completely.

20 August 2018

Things I've Learned while Home Alone

Yes, for the first time in recent (and not-sorecent) memory, I'm home alone. Hubby left the middle of last week for a car race 14 hours away over the weekend (he'll be back tonight or tomorrow), and I dropped the kids off a couple hours away with my parents for a camping trip. So I'm with just the fish (that's one fish, for anyone keeping count).

I've learned a few things while I'm home alone, both about myself and about my surroundings.

I don't actually scream when I'm startled/scared. I first realized this years ago, when I lived alone, but I wasn't sure if it was still accurate. Usually, if I encounter a spider or snake - both of which I've encountered during this solitary time at home - I call for someone to take care of it. Or at the very least, organize a posse, like having the kids watch it while I go for killing implements.
For my spider exposure this weekend, it was a small (thankfully) wolf spider that was running across the open foyer floor. I merely uttered, "Oh!" and turned to get toilet paper and raise the toilet seat. He appeared to have failed the swimming lessons, so I flushed him.
The snake was outside, and did inspire me to change my route. For the first one, I mean. The first snake was under the deck, and I chose to go the long way around. The second snake was slithering through the grass and seemed decidedly more afraid of me than I was of him. So we went our separate ways.

I am no longer a late sleeper. I thought it was the kids waking me at 7, 7:30 or 8 (I realize this is sleeping in for some people, but not us). Each morning I was alone, the sun woke me around 7. What a disappointment.

I am truly a homebody. Even the idea of better food has not lured me from the house. Or does that just mean I'm too cheap to spend money on food for myself? Either way, the result is the same. Other than a quick errand to mail some things that had to go out and pick up prescriptions, I've been home. I've eaten several Stouffer's frozen pizzas, a chicken pot pie, fish sticks and tator tots, and leftover soup from dinner last week.

Syrup never goes away. Ever. I've washed the counters in the kitchen each time I've cooked. Out of habit, I've cleaned up after myself after every meal. And yet two days in, I leaned against the counter above the dishwasher, and my hand encountered a sticky spot. There's no confusing a syrupy, sticky spot with anything else. I've washed that counter several times, and yet the syrup continues to thwart my efforts.

Overall, I know myself and my surroundings pretty well. I am pretty good company for myself. I enjoy a little time to myself, even if I do waste it cleaning things. I have watched a couple Netflix movies that I doubt the rest of my family would appreciate, but I kind of miss them too. I've focused on finding the bright side of my peace and solitude before they start coming back tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday.

17 August 2018

10 Random Things for Friday

  1. It's been forever since I posted!! First I went on the week unexpected vacation to New York, and then when I got back the blog was all wonkity. I fixed the first wonkity, and then there was a new wonkity :O Thank goodness for blogging friends who know stuff and can make magic happen.
  2. School is indeed starting again. I go in to work next week to open the kitchen, then a meeting and a delivery the week after that, and then the kids come back the week after that. I'm not looking forward to getting up early again, but I remember I didn't hate my job, so there's that.
  3. I got Tieks!! I've been wanting to try them for years, and finally ordered a pair with my check from working the elections a couple weeks ago. I tried them on and walked around the house a few times, but I wasn't thrilled. So I submitted for an exchange. They sent me the next size up, and I need to send a new pair back within two weeks. I LOVE the new, sized-up shoes. They just came in, and they're on my feet. I'm a happy girl. Now how to save up for my next pair....I think I'd like to try some patents next.
  4. Speaking of products I'm really happy with, have you seen Holly Aiken bags? I first saw them in her actual studio in Raleigh. Once I got a job, I ordered one last December. It's vinyl with like seatbelt strapping for the trip and strap. My December purse still looks the same as it did out of the box - I LOVE it!! 
  5. I grew my fingernails out all summer. They looked amazing. And I kept them polished with this fabulous Essie Gel Polish. These unicorn tears seriously lasted for like a week with no chipping. And then last week, as the school emails started arriving, I broke two nails. Broke them down low. They hurt, and they were the sign that it was time to cut my nails. So I'm back to stubby-ville. Good bye summer, I'm going back to work.
  6. So what am I missing in these last few minutes of summer? We've already scheduled our Cedar Point trip in a couple weeks, because that's a must for us. And a neighbor scheduled another beach day, which is good because I think we only went to the beach once this summer from home (we did go on our New York vacation too).
  7. I'm also upping my book review game again. I've got a few more I'm reviewing for a fellow blogger, including two with a publication date of September 1. So I've been spending a bit of extra time reading to wrap up the summer. Which I really enjoy.
  8. I also started doing counted cross-stitch again while on our vacation. I still love the meticulousness of it (that's seriously a word?!), but my vision is not so cooperative. I need really good lighting to be able to see and count those little squares. I haven't checked the craft store yet, but I bet there's a floor lamp that can help spotlight where I need it. 
  9. My hair is at that terrible in-between length. Hubby likes long hair, but I get easily annoyed by it. I like to grow it out til I can just put it in an easy bun every day. It's almost there again. I hate when the summer humidity makes it all frizz into a halo around my head. A little more length will help me keep it restrained.
  10. Ten already? I'm very happy to share that my son is again obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. He spent most of last school year loving Super Mario instead, but over the last month or so he has brought all of his trains and tracks up from the basement. He says Thomas is again his favorite.