Monday, December 29, 2008

...

I've had some trouble the last few days thinking of what to write. I was lucky to have some time the day after Christmas to write a few posts and schedule them...and I guess it was a good thing I did...or my blog would have been rather blank the last few days...

I haven't been much in the mood to post. I found out on Saturday that a good friend of mine's husband committed suicide. I can't go in to all the details out of respect for privacy (not that you would know who they are...but...just in case), but it made me realize how little we sometimes know people and the things they are struggling with in life.

This friend was always very private, and I respected that...in part because I am also very private. I think that is why we always got a long pretty well. We knew we cared what the other was going through, but we never pushed for information, just let each other tell it when we felt like it. I would hardly say we were "close" in the sense that I'd call her when I was in need or vice versa, but I do know that if I ever did call that she would be there for me. We just sort of understood each other, and though we did not "hang out," took an interest in each other's lives and what each was going through.

She is a strong woman. I've found out that she is even stronger then I really knew. She has been through a lot already. In the past, I often admired her for her strength and perseverance. But to be faced with something you weren't prepared for. Didn't have a plan for. She has two young children, whom are now going to be without a father.

I talk a lot about grief in my posts, in part because I am still dealing with my own. In the past, I've said that my dad's death helped me to relate to others who were experiencing grief and loss. I'm starting to think I may have been wrong. I can relate/share my experiences with those who lose a parent. I can understand in a way, and know that nothing I say will make it better and that continuing to hear "It will get better," "He's in a better place," and "I know it hurts," can make you want to scream. But I find myself at a loss with what to say to her. I want to call her and let her know that I am thinking of her, and I'm here for her if she needs someone...for even the smallest of things. But...I'm too chicken. And I don't know why. Is it the fact that I'm scared to hear her voice...to hear pain...to not know what to say after I tell her I'm thinking of her? Is it that I feel my words, no matter what I say, will be small and insignificant to what she is facing? That I will trip and stumble, as I try to get out something meaningful...because I'm more a writer then a talker?

It has been three days since this all happened, and I was one of the first to know. But yet, I am probably one of the last to say anything. I've found myself poised to call, and then don't. At the very least, I want to write her a letter...something I am so much better at doing. But, I don't want her to think I didn't care enough to call.

More later.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Recap

I will admit, and you could probably tell from my earlier posts, that I was not really in the holiday mood this year. I was struggling with a lot, and trying hard to feel Christmasy, but it wasn't really happening. I was unsure how B and I were going to spend Christmas, and it was my first Christmas spent away from my family.

We spent Christmas Eve with B's family, and ate a wonderful meal (his mom is the best cook) and spent a lot of time laughing and catching up. We opened presents, and watched as our nephew opened tons...as the only little one in the group, he gets spoiled! He got a lot of Thomas the Train toys, and after the presents were all opened, we spent some time playing with them.
After a while, we were all full, and tired, and decided it was time to go home. B and I got a few pictures in front of his mom's tree before we left (we didn't end up putting our own up this year). This is one of them.When we got home, B was excited to open presents. He couldn't wait until Christmas morning. :) So, we opened presents. Here he is opening a present.
I am really good at keeping presents a secret, so he didn't know what he was getting for the most part. He tried VERY hard to keep my presents a secret, but my mom kind of gave them away. I wasn't exactly sure I knew what he got me, but I had a few guesses, and one of them turned out to be right. He actually got my grandmother's paintings framed for me. My grandmother passed away last April...I really miss her...I actually used to spend Christmas with her rather then the rest of my family so she didn't have to be alone on Christmas. She was an artist, and a very good one at that. Over the years she painted some lovely paintings, and I was lucky enough to have a few. I always intended to get them framed, but hadn't gotten around to it. I mentioned to B a few times that we should get it done and put them up in the new house, and he did it for my present. I think it was one of the best presents he could have gotten me. :)

We spent Christmas at the farm...slept in, ate cinnamon roles for breakfast and then went out to do some chores. We spent a lot of time with the animals (here's our Chief)

and then came inside and laid around. We watched a movie, and just spent time together. We hadn't had a whole day to spend together in at least a month, and I really enjoyed it.

So, maybe it wasn't the traditional Christmas, but it was a good Christmas. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday Savings!

Well, here it is, my last Saturday Savings post for the month of December. I'll be reviewing my efforts this month after I show you how my shopping trips fared.

I went to CVS early in the week this time, the earliest I've ever gone, Sunday morning when they opened because I wanted to hit the super sale. I was really excited about the Arm and Hammer cleaner pretty much being a freebie. I was sorely disappointed though, as both CVS' in our town were sold out. Apparently, they hadn't had the cleaner for a month or so. Grr. They were sold out of a few items, but between the two stores, I think I did pretty well. I had to really rework my scenarios on the spot, but I did so without having to spend too much out of pocket. Here is what I got:

For all those items, I spent $4.03 Oop. I saved $51.12. Can't be too disappointed with that. I also earned over $24 in ECBs when I used $20. So, In all, I came out on top I think. I'm hopeful they will have the Arm and Hammer cleaner on sale again in the not too distant future. I'd like to stock up on it!

At Walmart I bought:

for $5.21. I saved $8.24. I was glad to be able to use some of my coupons before they expired on good candy deals (yay after Christmas sales!).

And finally at Kroger I got:

for $47.74. I saved $22.06. Obviously I didn't save as much this week as I did other weeks. There are a few reasons. The first is that there was not much on sale this week that corresponded with other good deals. The second is that we didn't NEED a lot of items this week. I decided, that since I still had room in our budget, that I would buy items that I typically buy in order to stock up on them (such as the pizza...we normally eat one a week, so I buy one every week, but now we have three stocked in our freezer...that is over $3 saved for the next three weeks). Hopefully, that will help me to stay within/under budget in the coming weeks.

So, my total for the week is $56.98. In total, I saved $81.42. I don't think I can complain about that!

At the beginning of the month, I set a goal of keeping within a $300 grocery budget. This was the first month I have ever budgeted for groceries, but do know in the past that I was spending over $100 a week on groceries (not keeping track of sales or couponing). I came in well under my budget, spending only $227.13 in all this month. I saved a total of $250.55!!!

Next month, I am going to lower my budget to $250. My goal is to eventually spend $200 and under, and while I spent less then $250 this month, I am still working on things, and would like to give myself a bit of leeway still. I think I can cut back on some of the cleaning supplies (although I find it hard when I am finding things for free or next to free) , and since we are well stocked up on meat, I probably won't have to buy as much, which should help keep the grocery bill lower.

Happy shopping everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dear Mr. Weatherman,

Hi. It's me, Wolf. I was just writing to remind you that it is winter time...you know, a time when it is supposed to be cold, and there is supposed to be snow and the ground is supposed to be frozen. Now I know in the past, I have not always been the biggest fan of Winter, and have actually asked for warmer weather to come more quickly and for it not to be so cold my nose hair freezes. But, I can't help but wonder why this year you have decided to overwhelm us with rain.

There has been so much rain this last month that our yard can't handle anymore water and has puddles everywhere. It is muddy everywhere! We had to get more gravel put down on the driveway, and the dogs have been tearing up the lawn...and the horses the pasture. We actually have to wipe the dogs feet every time they come in the house, or else they track mud all the way up the stairs! I'm actually worried we might have a flood in December and that would be something!

Is it to much to ask Mr. Weatherman, to let the ground freeze, as it is supposed to do in winter? To stop with the 50-60 degree weather that is supposed to start in March, and let the ground soak up all this precipitation? I would really appreciate it as B and I have a lot of stuff we'd like to do...and this rain and mud is not making it very easy.

Thank you so much,

Wolf

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

We truly hope you have a wonderful day.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Maggie

This is our kitten Maggie. She is about 7 months old right now...but she doesn't look it at all. She is quite small. B and I sort of inherited her when we moved in to our house last May...the barn cats had kittens and we probably found her and her siblings when they were about a week old, if that. We had to put Maggie and her siblings on a foster mom because their mom was not human friendly. Our hope was to adopt them out to new homes, and for that to happen, we needed them to be friendly and raised with human contact (somehow, none of them got adopted out...figures, right?). Maggie is a special little kitty. Very loving, and always wants to be on people if she can. She just can't seem to get enough attention. One of the quirky things about her is that she will just plop down in the middle of the floor and sleep. Doesn't matter if she is in the midst of everything, if that is where she wants to be, that is where she will sleep, and you have to go around her.

As a baby, Maggie always had a grouchy look on her face. Made me laugh. She was almost impossible to litter box train. The last of all the kittens...she was probably a month behind them. She loved to go to the bathroom anywhere near the litter box, and would hop right out of the litter box if you put her in it...only to walk a few steps and poop on the floor.

When all the other kittens got sick (as seemed to happen a lot...maybe since they were born barn kittens?), Maggie somehow stayed healthy, until the last wave of cold hit. She was hit the worst of all of them. We finally knocked it out of her with meds, but it came back again...and it seems we just can't get it to go away. She has had almost non-stop runs since she was young, and despite numerous trips to the vet, they can't tell us what is wrong, or what will fix it. She has the sneezes, and is very thin. After some research, I have decided to try my own experiment, and I am hoping that it will work.

I have moved Maggie upstairs, to our bathroom...separated from the other cats (we don't allow them in our bedroom/bathroom typically...we'd probably never get any sleep!). I figure our downstairs is too cold for her to get healthy...her body just isn't fat enough to keep her warm (and we don't run the heat downstairs unless we are down there...until we figure out a more affordable way to heat the area...which means it is quite cold most places in the house with the exception of our bedroom/bathroom at the moment), I have started her on the cold meds AGAIN, and am feeding her dry tuna, which I hope will fatten her up and take care of the runs, which can be from so many things (I read on many sites that it can be from so many underlying problems...I'm hoping getting rid of the cold will banish the runs...or maybe the change in diet?). So, I'm giving it a week, and will reevaluate after that.

I'll keep you all updated, but would love to hear if you have any suggestions as well, if you've ever had this problem with a kitty before!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yay, and a little sharing

Well, as of 5:00pm last Friday, I am officially jobless. There is a part of me that is not happy about that...I would like to be bringing in some money, but the larger part of me is glad I no longer have to go to that dreadful place. I will miss the kids. But I will not miss the owners who were not that nice, and felt it was appropriate to cut my hours among other things just because I didn't feel the job was right for me and gave two months notice (I would have been better off giving two weeks notice, would have had more hours then). Pretty much every single one of my co-workers there complained about them daily, and none of them are really happy in their jobs either. They just can't leave...so they stay in a job that does not make them happy. So, I continue my mission to find a job that I can look forward to doing...and will most likely be substituting until then (if I can figure out how to get the dang application).

The last few nights, I have been having a horrible time trying to sleep. I have been dead tired. And I mean that. My eyelids are heavy and my body exhausted, but my mind races and my heart does too. I don't know what is wrong with me. I spend about an hour to an hour and a half in bed before I finally get up because I can't stand lying in bed tossing and turning when I can at least be doing something else. Not to mention, I don't always like where my mind goes when I have unlimited time to think. So, I get up, do some stuff, feel sooo exhausted there is no way I can't fall asleep, and go to bed. But I make myself get up early anyway because I don't want to get in the habit of sleeping in. So, I'm not getting much sleep. I have an inkling what is wrong...but I'll share that at a later point.

With my bit of spare time, I've been going through some stuff. I went through a box today of my dad's papers for the farm to try and get rid of stuff I'd no longer need. I came across this:


Please click on the picture to enlarge it so you can read it. He pretty much dictated this to a family friend before he passed away. I think it says a lot about him, and about why my love for the farm was always so strong. I also think it is very fitting for the season considering Christmas trees are in a lot of people's homes right now.

Hope the last few days before Christmas aren't too stressful for everyone!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

7 Random Facts

Kristen at Something About Nothin tagged me a while back to share 7 Random Facts about myself, and I figured I better get around to it before it's too late! :)

Sooo, here goes:

1) I got a teddy bear when I was about 7-8 and I still have him today. He has traveled all over the world with me...Germany, Russia, Hawaii...and he has is...worn enough to show it. His name is Ted E. Bear. E is for Edward.
2) I have a tendency to end up with black animals. I will admit I like black animals, but I haven't always planned it that way. I currently have 3 black cats and 6 black dogs. It is likely that 2 of our horses will end up black as well. I guess it is good I like them though because it seems they are the least likely to get adopted (I guess people think they are mean?).
3) I went to George Mason University for my undergrad...I don't know if I would go back. I hated living in such a huge city. I do not like to sit in traffic.
4) When I was little I used to stare at the moon when we would travel and hope to go there one day. I'd still love to go.
5) One of my life goals is to hike the Appalachian Trail...maybe one day...
6) I am terrible with all types of glasses. My glasses are always scratched and the frames bent. I only get sunglasses from the dollar store because I don't want to pay to break glasses anymore.
7) I took swimming lessons when I was young, and the place I was at really wanted me to be on the swim team. I probably would have done it, except I skated at the time, and the two didn't mix (or at least that is what my coach said).

I'm supposed to tag 7 more people, but I'm just going to let you do it yourself if you want!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Savings!

Time for the weekly grocery shopping post. I didn't do as well today as I would have liked. Bargains were scarce this week...perhaps because this coming week will have REALLY good sales because it is the holiday week (I know CVS will be having a nice sale tomorrow and Monday). Good news is that I did get to return the deodorant that I made a mistake on last week, so that makes me happy.

Ok, at CVS, I got the following:

for .62. Gotta love tax. I saved $7.39. I earned $4.00 in ECBs after spending only $2.59. Nice thing is that I have $19.98 in ECBs for the huge sale that starts tomorrow. It will be interesting to see what I can find...I still have a hard time buying anything that B and I won't really use. Although we sure have a huge stock of toothpaste now. Hard not to keep buying it when they give you $2.00 in ECBs and you can get the toothpaste for $1.49. I'm able to get it so low by using the coupon found here (and you can print a never ending supply!).

At Walmart I got the following:
for $9.29. I saved $3.75 Of course, the water never helps. I probably could have done without the cleaners, but I needed toilet bowl cleaner and I had a coupon about to expire. And the Resolve is something we use around the house often, and my last coupon for that was about to expire. So, I decided to use them.

Finally, at Kroger I got the following:


for $48.22. I saved $36.58. One thing I was not happy about is the e-coupon I uploaded to my card for the Goody Ouchless didn't work. I lost a dollar there. I got the Cottonelle again for free plus an additional $.50, and there was such a good deal on Chicken that I had to buy more. We should be good on meat for at least the next two weeks, so that will help me stay low on my budget/get more things (as it typically takes up about 30-40% of my budget). I want to know when apples became so expensive?!? $2.29/lb! Good thing I love my husband, or I might not have gotten them. Not a fan of paying so much.

My total for today was $58.13. Not too far over my goal of getting down to $50 a week. But I am still well within my $300 budget for the month. My total savings was $47.72. I almost saved as much as I spent, but not quite. I'm still doing much better then I was!

Happy shopping and let's hope next week brings some great deals (even if there are no coupon inserts in this week's Sunday paper!).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Year in Review

I'm having one of those nights where I am nowhere near tired...and I can't think of what to do with myself. I'd love to start another book, but the ones I can find, are not satisfactory...I started one and couldn't get past the first few pages (very unlike me). Maybe I need a reading break as I return to a world that is not Twilight.

Maybe I should clean since we will be having a dinner guest tomorrow. I prefer to save that for the morning though. So, I guess, I will write my year in review post. A lot of stuff happened this year and my life continues to...make me wonder...is that the right word? I'm not sure. This will probably be long... Anyway, here goes:

January/February - I list these two months together because they were much a blur to me. A hazy time of pain and sadness and I find it hard to distinguish between what happened during what month. A spent these two months in a bout of depression that was scary and very difficult for me to handle. I knew I had been sad and been dealing with many overwhelming things in my life (agreeing to the sale of my beloved farm, working my last time at the lot in December, our contract on the perfect house falling through, and facing a loss of the passion I once felt for my job due to a lack of support during a very rough three months in which students falsely accused me of targeting them in order to get out of suspension - it didn't work at first, but I found out in December that the suspension got overturned by an administrator who never felt it necessary to talk to me and get my side of the story...imagine how it felt to someone who loved her job and always worked hard to do the right thing...) but I did not want to admit to myself that I was depressed and needed help. I spent several weeks sad, on edge, trapped in my head, unable to sleep and barely eating. When all was said and done, I had lost 15 pounds. I knew what was wrong, but to admit it was very hard. I have seen my mom struggle with being bi-polar for much of my life, and I didn't want that to be me. I finally went to the doctor though, and she put me on some medication. The first stuff I tried made me worse...I felt sick to my stomach all the time, my heart would race, and in general it didn't make me feel good. So, I tried something else, and eventually things started to look up. It was a difficult time. I was very glad for people like K, who took care of me and helped me get back on my feet.

March - I turned 26 (yikes, not a fan of birthdays...I liked being in my early 20s!), and B and I finally went under contract on a house. K and I traveled to Atlanta for a conference, and had a lot of fun together, as we always do. It was at this time that I became firm in my decision that I would not return to my job after the end of the school year in June (couldn't anyway if I bought a house, I had to live on-campus to have my job) and while I was glad to have made the decision, it was also sad to commit to leave a field I had spent 7 years of my life doing. It was the absolute right decision for me though, and I've never thought otherwise.

April - After a lot of discussion, B and I decided to add a high-content wolfdog pup to our family. We have both always loved wolves, B has had a mid-content wolfdog for the past 5 years...there is something about them that have always just drawn me to them... So, we traveled 6 hours round trip to pick up Titan, a pup who was 1 generation away from a full wolf. He became the light of our days...a loving little bugger who was always into something. We committed ourselves fully to making sure he was raised the right way...socialized a lot, and experiencing new things. He loved to howl with me. :) Although he took a lot of work, we were dedicated to raising him right (and he fell in love with my chow-mix Jasmine). Shortly after we got him, my grandmother passed away on April 11th. My grandmother was my last remaining grandparent and she passed away at the age of 95. I last saw her on Christmas, as I made the decision not to go see her when she started to fail, for fear of that being my last memory of her...I am still haunted by my memories of my dad's final days, and of my other grandmother's...and although I wish I could have seen her one more time, I'm hoping this decision proves to have been the right one. My grandmother was an amazing woman. She loved her children and grandchildren passionately...and she had the most amazing laugh. I miss her terribly.

May - May brought an onslaught of emotions and experiences. On May 8th, Titan escaped his enclosure and ran out on the road. He was hit by a car...it was dreadful. We believe he was hit during the time we were looking for him. I had never had a pet die that way...I couldn't stop sobbing. I still miss that little booger even though it has been over 6 months. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about him or to even look at his picture. B lost a buddy when Titan passed away...they had a special bond. The day after Titan passed away, I had to go on a White Water Rafting trip as an chaperone. It was difficult to go...but it was a good escape. I had never been white water rafting before, and I absolutely loved it. I was cold the entire time. :) When I returned from the trip, B and I went back up to get another wolf pup...B had told the breeder what had happened, and he offered us another one as he felt it was the only way we would heal...how could we resist when we had wanted a wolf pup so badly? So, we went back up and ended up with Kaos, who is even higher content then Titan was. He is not Titan. But he is our baby. We love him dearly, and we have learned a lot with him. I cannot begin to tell you the joy he has brought us. That same week B and I closed on our house, and got engaged. :) May 16th! It felt so amazing to finally have a place of my own. And to know that someone loved me enough to actually put up with all my craziness and want to marry me!

June - June brought the end of the school year, the end of my job, and moving. It was the month in which I said goodbye to many friends as they moved to different areas, and realized I would no longer be a part of an amazing group of people (my wonderful staff...even though I did not like my job, I loved my staff). It brought a visit from my mom (almost two weeks...that was not easy!), and an insane amount of wedding planning. It brought fishing, and grass mowing and many of my animals together. All the dogs and cats were finally in one place...

July - B's birthday was in July, we spent it at a friend's wedding. We also adopted some horses for the farm, as well as a few goats. We continued our wedding planning...I made the invitations and sent them out. I had my bridal shower back in Delaware, and K flew out to be there with me. It was the first time I had to spend a significant amount of time with many of my family in several years...and so it was a challenge. But I got through. I also binged on books in July. I read an insane amount as I got used to my free time and not having my days planned out. I did however, struggle with what to do with myself and had no motivation to get anything done. I think I just needed a break after a tough year. I also decided to go off my medication in July...I wanted to try and handle things on my own...I don't particularly like anti-depressants...I do not like the way they make you feel. And I felt that since I was no longer stuck in a job I disliked, and was further away from the sadness I had felt in January, that it was time. It seems to have been the right decision.

August - I honestly don't remember much of August. I do believe we started catfishing in August. I'm not the biggest fan. :) I also started this blog in August. My hope in starting the blog was that I would find my love for writing again. I'm still trying to find it. Although I find it somewhat easy to post about my life...I want to WRITE. I want to write stories and compose pieces and I want people to love them and want to read them. I'm still hopeful that I'll get over the writer's block. We also got another wolfdog pup in August. We wanted a friend for Kaos...so we ended up with Cynder. We got Cynder when she was about 6 months...not the ideal time to get a wolfdog if they haven't been appropriately socialized, and she wasn't. In addition, she escaped from us not once (we never thought we'd see her again...it was within the first 24 hours we had her) but twice. We spent several weeks in August trying to catch her, and being very frustrated. It was trying on us emotionally. But we did finally catch her. She is still skittish and scared, but we are still working with her. She has warmed up to me more then B, and I wish we had warmer weather right now so I could spend more time in the kennel with her. I also got thrown from one of the horses in August and wound up with some pretty serious injuries. Twisted my ankle (it still hurts), jammed my back (still going to the chiropractor in hope it will go back to normal), and scraped my arm up. I have a nice scar...and this was all a month before the wedding!

September - Well, hmm. September. :) We spent most of September cleaning up the yard and gardens preparing for our wedding. We got married on September 20th. It was a beautiful day. It defines my September really. I did, however, start teaching a class again with the new school year and also started a new job at a daycare in September...I decided it was time to get out of the house...and I love kids, so I thought it would be perfect. Haha...I was wrong...

October - October was probably one of the most calm months of the year for me. I was saddened by the fact that Teddy, the horse we were fostering was picked up and taken to a new home. On the other hand, B and I made a trip up to the farm and picked up the last of the animals that were up there. So I finally had all of them together. I no longer have to worry about whether they are ok...they are here, and I can go and check on them whenever I want! :)

November - I gave my two MONTHS notice that I was quitting my job on November 1st. The result was that my hours were cut back...in half. I should have given two weeks notice for all that was worth... I decided that working at the daycare was not the place for me. Although I loved the kids, the people I work for are...not the best...and it is an extremely frustrating environment. I continue to look for something new...something that I will look forward to doing...that I am passionate about...that I feel is right for me. It has not been easy. I spent a lot of the month under the weather with a dreaded cold. It SUCKED. The end of the quarter came, and even though I was suprised at the attitudes of my students, I'll probably teach it again next year if I can. B and I celebrated our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple, and it was nice. :) I also started couponing and have become quite addicted...

December - This month has been rather bland. I'm not the biggest fan of holiday shopping, and always had an excuse not to do it before because I was selling trees. Now, I am trying to make it through my first December not being at the lot. It has been both nice (not to have to be outside in the cold and rain) and sad (I miss the people and the smell of the trees). I'm looking forward to my first Christmas in this house with B and spending it with his family. I'm looking forward to the new traditions. I'm looking forward to my last day of work (Friday!) and a short break before I begin substituting.

I guess as I look back on this last year...so much happened. I felt a lot of pain, a lot of hopelessness and also, a lot of joy. This year was a year of change for me. I hope it is not wrong to feel that I hope next year is calmer? I don't want to look back at next year and see so many sad things that happened. Although I struggle some with where life is taking me, I feel that I am also beginning to grow in better ways. I'm starting to move on from things that have haunted me...even though they do sometimes come back and hit me worse. I'm trying to look for the positive things in life, to enjoy them and to enjoy what I have. I have a wonderful, loving husband, a beautiful house and all my furbabies. I have good friends and for the time being, a pretty stable life. I know that not a lot of people have that. I am grateful for what I have.

Here's to hoping that 2009 brings some exciting adventures, and hopefully a new, right job to my life. But mostly, to hoping that my family and friends stay safe and happy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Twilight

Ok, ok. So, I finally gave in to the whole Twilight phenomenon. I must admit that I went for a LONG time without ever hearing about Twilight or even knowing it was some extremely popular series. I found out about it mostly through Facebook when I got a flair board and I saw all these "Team Edward," "Team Jacob," and "Twlight!" buttons. I asked my friend what it was and she told me it was some young adult vampire romance type thing. Not my typical cup of tea, so I never thought about it again.

Now, I must admit that the bloggy world seems to be full of Twilight-ers. It seems a lot of the people I read loved it and were counting down the days until the movie came out. I asked another friend if he thought I should give it a read and he told me no...that he had heard it was poorly written and didn't have a lot of depth. But around the same time the movie came out, and B wanted to go see it because he loves vampire movies.

I was NOT impressed with the movie. I didn't like the changes made to how we have defined vampires for forever pretty much...and I just felt it lacked a lot of plot and explanation. B was disappointed at the lack of vampire action (guess we should have done more research into it), and on a whole we were both underwhelmed. But, I decided since I had seen the movie, I'd get the book to see if it was any better (and really, we all know that typically books are better then their movie counterparts).

So, I read Twilight. It was definitely better then the movie. But in my opinion, it wasn't AMAZING and didn't capture me the way some books have (you know when you absolutely cannot put the book down at all, and you feel sad when you are done because you have grown so attached to the characters?). I was disappointed with aspects of the book...the editing was atrocious, and there were many parts that were just plain confusing. But, I decided since I started the books, I might as well finish the series.

With each new book, I felt as if the writing got better, even though the editing it seems, did not. I was disappointed that in all, the series covered just about 2 years. I felt it could have been longer, and how much bad stuff can really happen to one girl in that short span of time? I don't understand all the Team Jacob and Team Edward people out there...I felt as if there was never a competition...we always knew where Bella stood...but maybe that is because I had the luxury of reading all of the books at once (and I did read them pretty fast if you think about it...).

Overall, I am glad I read the books. Would I read them again? Probably not...there just isn't anything there that makes me want to go back...everything was wrapped up and so straightforward...it isn't like the Harry Potter series (which I have read numerous times) where every time a new book came out, it answered mysteries from the first book (some of which you didn't even know were mysteries!) so that you could go back and look at the earlier books with a new light.

It seems, as I have done a little online reading about the series, that Stephenie Meyer got a lot of flack for Breaking Dawn. I laugh at that. Was it the perfect book? No. Nothing in the world ever ends as easily as she made it end. But it was her series, her characters, and she wanted them to go a certain way and that is her right. I guess I don't get people who would attack someone for not writing a story the way they wanted it written...if that is the case, write your own dang series. Maybe it is that the series had so many young readers, and they didn't understand the changes and growth the main character went through. Who knows? But still no reason to trash an author.

It wasn't a bad series. I'm glad I read it. I love entering new worlds and meeting new characters. And now I am left wondering what my next book will be since the Twilight series was a part of my life over the last 20 days.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday Savings!

And here is my weekly update on my shopping trips.

I was pretty happy with my trips today. Although CVS didn't have a few of the items I wanted, so that messed up my trip a bit, and left me with less ECBs then I wanted to have. And, I made a boo-boo with an item I was going to send in for a rebate. Turns out I bought the right product, but it didn't have the "Try Me Free" rebate sticker on it. Sigh. Anyway, here are the updates:

At CVS, I bought:
for $.64! And I saved $20.06. This picture is missing a Powerade and one FastBreak as I gave them to B before I drove home. :) I used $15 in ECBs today, and I was planning on earning that many back...but they were out of two of the items I needed, so I had to buy a few fillers, and not to mention, the wrapping paper didn't get me any ECBs. In total though, I earned back $9.59 in ECBs. I'll just have to be more careful next week, as I would like to stay around $20 in ECBs and right now I have $16.57. Hopefully they'll have what I want next week! (It would probably help if I went earlier in the week...)

At Walmart, I bought:

for $11.34. I saved $3.00. However, I will be getting $2.00 back on the cleaner. So, that in essence means I actually saved $5.00. And if I had been paying attention with the deodorant, I would have been getting another $4.94 back. I wonder if WalMart will take the deodorant back? :)

My last stop, Kroger I purchased:

for $55.52, and I saved $50.59!! I got several freebies and items that gave me overage today such as the Sure deodorant, the Cottonelle, the Goodie Ouchless and the Sour Cream. I love freebies. :)

So, despite the fact I made a bit of a mistake with the deodorant (and who knows, maybe I'll try and take it back...) I still saved more then I spent. I spent $67.50 and saved $75.65. I went over the $50 I've been trying to hit each week, but a large part of that is because I purchased Pepsi at Kroger because it was 4/10...that is a rarity around here, and now I won't have to purchase Pepsi for at least another month or so! I am still well within the $300 I have set aside for groceries this month, so I'm pleased with this week.

Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Tree Lot


Every year for the past 30-some years my family sold our own Christmas trees on a little lot in Delaware. My dad would spend a week to two weeks up at the farm in the end of November, cutting trees and then bailing them, loading them, driving the 6 hours to Delaware, and unloading them in to trailers at the lot. He was very proud of the freshness of our trees. We were told that some of our trees lasted until Easter (we have to give credit to the people who were keeping these trees too...they must have known exactly what to do!), and we had customers who came every single year.

Helping people find their tree was always an interesting experience. Some people were picky, others were not. Some you could show a tree and that was it. Some you could show a tree, and another and another and another...and another...and guess what? They went back to the first tree they looked at. Others still, would not like anything we had out, and would ask us to look for a tree back in the trailer. Almost every time we had to pull a tree out of the trailer, the person would take it. I always wondered why that was. Did they think it was fresher? They always said it was because we were good at finding exactly what they wanted. But I'm not too sure of that. :)

I loved the way the lot smelled. Nothing beats the smell of fresh Christmas trees in my mind. There are a lot of people nowadays who ask the age old question...should I buy a fake tree or stick with a real tree? I can never argue for a fake tree (goes against my principle!) but I just couldn't see not having the smell of a fresh evergreen at Christmas time. Not only that, but did you know that Christmas trees use more Carbon Dioxide as they grow then regular trees do? So, cutting and re-planting is actually good for the environment...even though a lot of people use the argument that cutting live trees is bad for the environment (it is NOT true).

After my dad passed away, I took over the lot. I ran it myself for 4 years. Long-time customers were surprised that I remembered the trees they always wanted, but I had watched my dad closely the year before (the only year I worked with him the whole month of December), and I am lucky I have a nearly photographic memory. If I didn't know what they wanted, I made sure to take notes so I'd remember the next year. It wasn't always easy running the lot. It could be cold, wet on rainy days, or even boring standing outside for 10-12 hours a day. But I loved the people. I loved finding them the perfect tree, and felt pride at how much they loved our trees. I loved making wreaths for them and hearing their stories about previous trees or why they had loved coming to the lot and talking to my dad. Some said they would never buy a tree elsewhere, and made sure every year it was the same family selling. I loved that the kids would remember Jasmine and ask me where she was because they wanted to play with her.


There was a changing of hands when my dad passed away...a very unexpected one. His death was a shock...he had seemed so healthy and wasn't sick the last time they bought their tree. A lot of our customers cried when they found out he had passed away...they cared about him. But they came to care about me. They had heard stories about me for many years from my dad, and because of that, they felt they knew me. They were happy I continued to sell trees. It was a tradition in their family to come to our lot, just as it was a tradition in mine to sell trees.

This is my first year not being at the lot. Last year was my last. I didn't have the guts to tell our customers we wouldn't be back, even though I knew, because I didn't want to see the sadness on their faces. It was a difficult year for me at tree time last year. I cried a lot after we shut down, knowing I wouldn't see any of those people again. I cried thinking that I probably hadn't sold the best tree to some people, even though that was the tree they wanted...and hated it was the last tree they would get from us, and I cried thinking about the fact that they would show up this year and wonder where we had gone. It was out of my hands though, and no matter how badly I wanted to continue to sell trees...there was no way I could, as our farm was being sold (not by my choice...long story).

It has been a bit of a struggle for me not to be at the lot in Delaware this year. I feel quite a bit of loss. My mom has called me several times to let me know that people have called asking where we were. And it makes me sad.

There is the part of me that knows, that this is probably for the best. I have moved on in my life...I am married now, and spending 6 weeks away from B to sell trees, just isn't really feasible. With our new house and responsibilities, it would also have been very hard to continue my responsibilities at the tree farm had I been able... But, that doesn't always make it any easier. The other part says I could still do it, I would find a way. That part feels it is so ingrained in who I am...that it feels wrong to not be there. It tells me if I had really wanted it...I would have done it. And it hurts.

This year will be the first year in my 26 years that I will have a Christmas tree that is not one of my families. It will be the first time I will go somewhere and pick one out with my husband. The start of something new at the end of something else.

Monday, December 8, 2008

They make me laugh :)

I cooked lunch for the hunters last week, and while they cleaned up most of their plates/meal, they did leave a few items on the table. I went down to the kitchen shortly after they left and found our baby Smoke on the kitchen table. She was on a used paper plate. You can see the spoon that still has jelly on it right beside her. I often wonder what they are thinking sometimes when they find a place to sit. This would definitely not have been my first choice!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday Savings!

Ok, I was bad and didn't do a Saturday Savings post last week. But, I didn't get back from my shopping trip until kinda late and I also bought more then normal because we had visitors so I didn't want to post about it. I didn't do very well last week, although still better then I would have done if I hadn't started paying attention to sales, coupons, etc. One thing I did find success at was CVS, where I bought 2 Colgate toothpastes, deodorant and a package of Twizzlers for $.11! That was exciting. :)

Ok, on to this week. I went to CVS first...not expecting to find much in way of deals because I hadn't seen anything in the paper this week that seemed good. I looked for one item that was supposed to have a peelie on it, and when I found it, no peelie. So, I left. I'm hoping next week will bring some better deals. I have over $22 in ECBs to use! :)

My next stop was Walmart, where I bought this:

for a grand total of $4.62! Had I not bought the $3.48 water, it would have been only a about a dollar. I saved $6.72! Now, if only in the future I can find coupons for Aquafina water...every week I pay more then I want to for it...

My last stop was Kroger. I bought this:

for $45.17. And I saved $39.04! I was quite excited to have saved so much because I was not impressed with Krogers deals this week. Nor have I been happy that there have been like zero coupons in the last 2 Sunday papers. I'm crossing my fingers for some better deals next week. However, I still felt like I did relatively well with my purchases...I even bought a few treats for the dogs (had B1G1 coupons and two $1 off coupons) that I wouldn't normally buy.

I think this week's shopping trip was very successful. I spent $49.79 total on all my groceries for the week (under $50!!! Think I can keep that up?) and saved $45.76. Saved almost as much as I spent again!

I have decided on a grocery budget of $300 for the month. I would eventually like to cut it to $200, but I would like to give myself a little time to work that low since I am still new to the couponing and bargaining and used to spend over $400 a month. I don't want to set myself up to fail!

Hope your shopping trips are a success!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Baby it's Cold Outside...

How do I know it is cold? This is the view from our bedroom window:



Not even technically "winter" yet, and already our pond is freezing over, and collecting snow on top of it to boot! It's on days like these that I want to stay snuggled up in bed with a warm cup of tea and never step foot outside.

Hopefully, you are staying warm wherever you are!

(And yes, I'm already eagerly awaiting the warm weather...I for one, am not a fan of the cold...I love LONG days and no layers of clothing!)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Traditions

As it is the holiday season, one of the things I've been thinking about lately is traditions. Traditions feel and seem so important. But how do I start traditions within my own new family?

Growing up, we did not have many holiday traditions. For a few years of my youth, my mom would take out Christmas decorations such as her Department 56 village, and I loved setting it up. My sister and I also had the annual Christmas card picture posing to look forward to. We actually hated the day my mom took the Christmas picture because it would mean standing in the same position for at least an hour while she tried to get us in the right pose. But looking back on those pictures now, I see how creative she was and how original a lot of those pictures were. We also loved decorating the Christmas tree, and every year we looked forward to unwrapping the different decorations, and trying to find our favorite ones. One of my favorite parts of Christmas morning was opening my stocking, as it was often hidden and my sister and I had to find it. Once we found it, that was the one thing we were allowed to open when my parents weren't with us. So, we often opened them together...very early in the morning. But other then those few things, we didn't do much. And after we found out about Santa Claus, and got involved in skating, and my mom went back to work...we didn't decorate at all. In fact, even the picture Christmas cards stopped. And for a time, so even, did the Christmas tree (which made no sense...since we sold Christmas trees). The only thing that stayed constant was that we would spend Christmas with the family, always going up to my dad's brother's house.

Right now, I am finding myself in an entirely new place in life. This is the first year of my life that the family is not selling trees...which means I actually have to go out looking for a tree...but also that I can decorate my own place for once. The first year I will not be home in Delaware for the month of December, or even for Christmas for that matter. It is the first year that I actually have a house to decorate, and the first year I will spend with my husband...as our own little family.

So what traditions to I want to try and start? What traditions would I eventually like my children to look forward to every holiday season? Every Christmas morning?

I am actually having trouble thinking of many. I do not know what kinds of things to start. I DO know that there are a few that have taken hold of me in one way or another...I have no idea how. I LOVE having Pillsbury cinnamon rolls for breakfast on holiday mornings. Thanksgiving and Christmas especially. They taste yummy, and aren't so filling that you ruin your holiday dinner. I've continued to make them as we've had our first holidays together. I want to decorate the house at some point...probably not too much this year, as we don't have many decorations, but in coming years after we have time to hit sales. I want to go Christmas tree hunting every year on the same weekend, and have fun ornaments to put on our tree. I want to have fun, homemade Christmas picture cards...not the ones that get made at Walmart or other photo places. But ones I put together at home, like my mom and dad and even my grandfather did. But other then that...I can't think of anything else. It is something I will continue to think about this year and in the coming years...and that I hope B contributes to as well. I'd love to carry on traditions that were prevalent in his family.

What traditions did you have in your family during the holiday season that you always looked forward to? I've seen so many as I've blogged...I'd love to know how they got started, and why you love those traditions. What new ones did you start when you began a family of your own? I'd love to hear your stories, as I begin to look for my own.

P.S. We have by the way, at least continued with picture Christmas cards. I do not have the time or ability to put together the kind I would like this year due to many factors, but we did our own. It represents me and B quite well...we love each other and one of the reason we love each other is our ability to be goofy and make each other laugh... :) So, here it is:


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Merry SITSmas!


Happy Holidays! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season filled with happiness and time with family and friends! I hope you make many new happy and lasting memories in the new year, just as I have been able to do in the past year. Wolf :)

The pictures are of our Christmas tree last year, and of my favorite memories from this year...our wedding. :)

This post is a part of the SITSmas, found on a wonderful site called SITS. They are hosting SITSmas today and giving away a $200 gift card to Target! So, you should go there and visit! And create a SITSmas post of your own!

I'd like to take a moment to mention a few of the wonderful blogs I've found through SITS...

Beautifully Imperfect - she is insightful, thoughtful and has a wonderful way of writing
YaYa Stuff - Funny and straightforward, I love reading what she has to say!
Grocery Mama - Helped start me on my couponing and frugal ways...
FROGGITY - Just plain fun!
Project Mommyhood - I love her writing and thoughts on life

Monday, December 1, 2008

SITS-mas!

Tomorrow is Merry SITSmas, hosted by the lovely ladies over at SITS!

As a part of the blogathon that is SITSmas, they are giving away prizes every hour, including a grand prize of $200 in the form of a Target gift card!

You should participate. And, visit SITS!

Friday, November 28, 2008

What I am Thankful For...

As I have been reading blogs the last few days...or weeks really...I have noticed the common theme of thankfulness coming up as people prepare for Thanksgiving. I guess that makes sense, considering Thanksgiving is a time for people to think about and remember the things they are thankful for. Thanksgiving was never really a big holiday in my family...my dad was typically working and my mom sometimes had to work too. When I was younger, there were a few years my sister and I went to the Outer Banks with my aunt, uncle and cousins for Thanksgiving...but that stopped when my skating took off. After that, I never really went anywhere until I started dating my ex, and celebrating Thanksgiving with his family. After we broke up, and my dad passed away, I stopped Thanksgiving all together. Some of this had to do with the fact that we set up the tree lot on Thanksgiving, some of it had to do with the fact that I felt I had nowhere to go.

I will admit, that the last few years of my life, I have not felt that thankful. I've focused a lot on the bad things that have happened...and sometimes wallowed in my pity. I've felt bitter and angry and held on to things that happened as I was growing up, that happened recently, and that continue to happen...some of these things I've talked about on this blog already, and others maybe one day I will be brave enough to share. The point is though, that I've allowed my pessimistic side to show and take over. I don't really know when this happened. But it has really taken over...to the point where sometimes I just think that there is no way a good thing will happen, and am not surprised when the bad thing ends up happening. Perhaps it is the expecting the bad thing that makes it happen. I don't know.

There is a huge part of me that misses the happy-go-lucky person I once was. I miss the confidence and the feeling that things would go my way. I wonder where she went and how she disappeared. I truly don't know why I let her go so far away, and I don't know how to get her back. I miss that person. B thinks I need to start thinking about the good things that have happened rather then focusing on the bad. I tend to think he is right (don't tell him that though! :)) but have a hard time getting there. One of the ways I am going to start, is by listing five things I am thankful for as it is Thanksgiving (or thereabouts...this post has taken me a bit to finish).

So, here goes:

1) I am thankful for B. He is an amazing man...I talk about him a lot on here, but have never really given you an idea of who he is...one day, hopefully. But, he has supported me and loved me through difficult times and struggles, and loves me even though I am nowhere near perfect, or good at cleaning. :) Seriously though, I can be a frustrating individual at times. I'm stubborn, and ridiculously set in my ways, and am trying to figure out my place in life. And this guy decided that despite those things, he wanted to spend forever with me anyway. He loves me very well and I am incredibly thankful for the one person in life that loves me despite all my flaws.

2) I am incredibly thankful for my friends K and Neil. I miss them terribly since they both moved away last summer, and I am not the best person at keeping in touch with people, even when they are my best friends. But, I know that if I need them they will be there for me in a heartbeat and with sound advice and ears.

3) I am thankful for my beautiful house and property that allows me to have all my animals close to me. For so many years I lived away from my animals...my animals are one of my biggest passions...and it was incredibly difficult for me. Now, they are all here. Finally. After 4 years. I can look out my bedroom windows in the morning and on one side I see my horses, and I can look out the other side and see our pond and the rest of our horses. It is a beautiful sight. I can hear our wolves howling at night, and can walk outside to play with my dogs. The dogs can run and enjoy themselves. My animals help me in so many ways and I love them all for different reasons...but mostly for their unconditional devotion and love. They are such amazing companions.

4) I am thankful that B and I are able to live ok without two solid incomes for a little while while I find a job that has some meaning to me. While I loved my last job...things happened and I also had to live on-campus, which I no longer wanted to do. I am thankful I was able to leave (so I could experience number 3) and have time to find something else that will be a suitable fit and not stress me out as much as my last job. I know that not everyone out there has that privilege and I am grateful for what we have.

5) Although I may not always be so positive, I am thankful for my life. B shared the following story with me the day before Thanksgiving...and I think it puts things in perspective. And it really made me think. This little guy did pass away...and you can find more stories about him on YouTube, etc.



I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and time with your family. I am thankful for my bloggy friends as well!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm a Slacker

Seriously. I haven't been updating my blog well at all the last few weeks. In all honesty, I have been a bit busy... Not only was I sick with the dreaded cold for over 3 weeks, but I had to grade papers (and I was VERY behind since I was sick) and I also picked up some more hours at work. After this week though...my life will become a little more boring.

Why is that? Well...I mentioned a little while ago that I had quit my job. I gave my bosses two months notice. In reality, I wanted to quit then and there (as we all know how much I really love this job....), but I know during December they are short staffed, and I didn't feel it would be right to do so. So I decided to stick it out until right before Christmas. Well, it seems I didn't have to do that. We got the schedule for December, and my hours have been cut in half. Some weeks, more then half. I feel as if I am being punished for quitting. Some days, I don't go in until 3:00pm and work until 5:00pm. What is the point of that? There really is no point. In fact, it takes me 25 minutes to drive in to work. I feel like it is a waste of gas and my time. But, I am too nice to go in and tell them that it is BS and I shouldn't even bother. Not only did they cut my hours back, but they took me out of the one room where I knew all the kids and moved me to a different one where I don't know any of the kids. I guess I can say without a doubt that I made the right decision in quitting. I just wish now that I had the balls to tell them that unless I have more hours, I don't want to come back after Thanksgiving. I guess I'm not really sure what kind of people feel it is ok to cut a person's hours back without telling them...and also think it is feasible for people to come in in the middle of the afternoon for such a short time. I quit because it was not the right job for me...I wasn't happy...it was a pain in the behind...and the people I worked for were not too pleasant. But I guess the right thing to do would have been to stay right? Not give them notice?

Who knows. I can't say I'm not happy for a little free time. I just don't like feeling like I'm wasting my time, which is what I will be doing several days over the next month as I drive for an hour...to work two. Ugh.

Anyway, hopefully, I'll have some more time and motivation to post now that I'll be home more...and not coming home exhausted and in need of just plain old me time!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Savings!

Here is how the shopping trip went this week...not as amazing as last week (how could it be when last week was Kroger's MEGA-sale?), but I am still happy with how I did. I saved more then I typically would, and if I had been paying better attention (I'll explain in a second), I would have been much closer to my $50 grocery goal then I was.

Ok, to start, I was lucky enough to come across a blog that mentioned a $4 off Purina cat food coupon and a $2 off Goody Ouchless hair tie coupon. The blog mentioned that if you went to Walmart, the items would be free or close to free. Turns out my Walmart is a little more pricey then hers, but still, I got the following items:


for a total of $4.66! I saved $12.00. And, to make things better, I have a mail in rebate on the chapstick, so I actually I spent $2.12. B and I typically get our catfood bulk because we have so many cats to feed, but how can you resist 3.5lbs of catfood for $.78? And I'm really happy about the hairties, because I am using my last one...I lost the rest that I had in our move.

CVS this week had a lot of interesting deals. I am trying not to spend over $20 out of pocket (oop) at CVS each week, although I made an exception this week because of the opportunity to earn ECBs. I see a lot of people buying things that they don't need at CVS just because it gives them an opportunity to make equal or more in ECBs...but I don't want things I can't eventually use. So, I might have a more difficult time mastering the ECB program then I thought...but this is only my second week, so I'm giving it time! Ok, I bought:

for a total of $22.93. I saved...$31.30 through coupons and use of my ECBs from last week and my first stop this week (I didn't buy enough batteries the first stop to get the ECB bonus...so I went back today...pictured and talked about though is my ENTIRE CVS purchase for the week...and it turns out it was a good thing I didn't buy enough, I used my ECBs from the first stop to pay for most of my purchase on the second stop!). Are these items necessities? No. But, they are things that B and I will use eventually and it doesn't hurt to have them. I now have $20 in ECBs...which means in reality, I only paid $2.93 I guess. Although, in reality, the ECBs don't count since I'll be talking about how I saved using them next week! Confusing...

My last stop was of course, Kroger. I bought all of this:


for $71.26. And saved $56.28. Sooo....I spent more then I saved. BUT. I'm not disappointed. I'm still much lower then my old $100 orso a week. And, some of it was my own stupidity. I bought the wrong size pumpkin because I wasn't paying attention...which makes a big difference actually...as purchasing the wrong size cost me $3.00. I paid $2.00 a can rather then $.50... I also bought Ritz when they weren't on sale and I only had a coupon...and I probably didn't need to buy the Oscar Mayer bacon that was BOGO after I found the $.99 bacon (manager's special...love those tags since I don't care since I just freeze anyway!), but I decided to get it because bacon is not BOGO very often and I've NEVER seen the $.99 bacon before...and I look for it (and technically, I saved another $10 by buying the manager's special bacon...it just doesn't show up as savings when you get rung up)! I was excited to get both the Cottonelle and the Duncan Hines cake for free though. I love free stuff!

So all in all, this week I spent $98.85 (less then last week!!!) and saved $99.58! I still saved more then I spent! Whoo!

Let me know if you find any deals...and I strongly encourage you to check out my frequently visited blogs...they are where I find most of the deals and coupons (in addition to the ones I clip from the Sunday paper), as well as ideas of how to combine all offers to get the lowest price! Good Luck!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Grief

Lately, I've been thinking about my dad a lot. Not the happy memory thinking, but the "man I miss him so much that it pains me" thinking. Sometimes I am surprised that four years later (I can't believe it is four years later...), I still grieve for him just as much. Not in the same ways that I used to grieve...where I would cry and be mad...but just the sad how I wish I could pick up the phone and hear his voice grieving. The, every time I think of him it still brings tears to my eyes grieving. I often wonder how long this grieving will continue.

It is probably the season. This is the time of year my dad loved so much. It was tree time. He got to spend a month outside, selling the trees he worked so hard to raise, and talk to the customers that came to buy them...many of them buying them year after year. He was so proud of those trees. I was proud to continue selling them, and as I have mentioned before, am struggling with the fact this is the first year I will not be. I am trying to let it go though.

When my dad passed away, I lost an amazing friend. I was a definite "daddy's girl." I sure didn't know that all the time. We had our ups and downs as I was growing up and sometimes I thought I hated him because he expected so much from me or imposed such strict guidelines on me as I was growing up. I can of course, look back on those days now and be thankful for what he did...it is because of him that I have a firm work ethic and firm morals.

My dad had a great smile and laugh. I miss hearing him laugh. His laugh filled a room and was contagious, and when he smiled, you couldn't help but smile back. He worked hard for his family...even when he knew he was at the end, he wanted to make sure we would be ok when he was gone.

When my dad first found out he had cancer, a wise man told me to make sure I told him everything I needed to tell him. That I should be grateful I had the opportunity to let my dad know how much I cared about him, etc. I struggled with that idea. I felt like telling my dad the things I felt bad about... like how I treated him once at a competition we were at when I was struggling through so many things in my life...how much I loved him and appreciated all he did for us... meant that I was giving up on him. That I believed he wasn't going to beat it. And so, I never told him. I waited until he couldn't respond, until I have no idea whether he actually heard what I said. And that bothered me. I wanted him to know. I know the first thing people will want to say is, don't worry he knew. I'm not saying he didn't know I loved him. Or that I went through the growing pains that all teenagers went through. But to have said it would have taken a huge burden off my chest... that way I would know that he knew for sure that I understood my past mistakes.

The hardest thing for me is not being able to pick up the phone to call him and get his advice. Especially as I go through new things and sometimes struggle to find my footing in life. My dad always had the best advice...even when I didn't like it. He had so many life experiences and he knew something about everything. I was only fortunate enough to learn a tiny bit of what he had taught himself over the years. You see, I thought I was going to have many years to learn what he knew. I miss calling and just saying hi. I miss his excitement. Really, I miss everything.

Grief sucks.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sick

I am, much to my chagrin, still sick. Last Monday, after taking the day off work, I thought I felt soooo much better. I still had a bit of a cough and runny nose, but that was ok. On Friday though, I started to feel it again. My runny nose has gotten worse, I can't sleep (so I'm EXHAUSTED right now), and my throat is a little sore. I wanted to get things done around the house today and all I've been able to do is lay around in bed. Here's to hoping that none of you have had the dreaded bug that has laid me up for over two weeks now...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Savings!!!

Not too long ago, I posted about my attempts to save and become more frugal. I was actually quite frustrated at what I was feeling was not a very successful venture. Since that post, I have been doing more research, reading more blogs, and trying even harder to understand what it is I need to do to save money. I've signed up for several couponing websites and put in for several coupons to be sent to me. I can't say I have become anywhere near an expert. But, I believe I am gaining a greater understanding, and today, I went out and tried my hand at the local Kroger store. Yes, I stuck with Kroger...mostly because they were having a MEGA-sale...buy 10 participating items, and you get $5.00 off. I saw people posting about their savings all over the place and had to try. I was determined to only buy items I had coupons for, and was having a difficult time figuring out where to get some of the coupons people had talked about until I came across this blog. She laid everything out, and included where to get some of the online coupons, and bam, I had tons of new coupons and ideas of what I could include in my shopping list. Also, reading her blog let me know that I could use my e-coupons (ones added to my card) in addition to my paper coupons, which offered even greater savings.

I must admit I was extremely excited (and somewhat nervous) about my shopping trip today. In addition to Kroger, I was going to try my hand at CVS with their Extra Care Bucks today and also try and get some good deals at Walmart. I couldn't sleep last night thinking about it (I'm weird). And I actually had to go in to Kroger and run through to make sure I understood what I was doing once, before I purchased all my items. Ha.

Ok, on to the good stuff. Here is what I bought and my savings.

I'll start with Walmart (have to save the best for last you know!! Building anticipation!) I got all these items:

for a grand total of $23.12! That may seem like a lot (the kitty litter did me in...I can't find any great deals on kitty litter...especially not the kind we like...and had to settle for the fact that I at least had a $1.00 of coupon) but let me tell you my savings... $17.00!! My favorite coupon from this trip was for the Scrubbing Bubbles shower cleaner. It was $13.48 at Walmart (must cheaper then Kroger's $25.00 price) and I had a $10.00 coupon that I got offline.

I then went to CVS, where I am brand new at the Extra Care Bucks (ECB). From what I understand, you have to participate in this for a little bit and put some money OOP in the beginning in order to start getting good savings, so I am going to give it about a month to see if it is truly as amazing as it sounds (with people getting $50some worth of groceries for $1, I hope I can figure it out...). I got this (don't mind the already eaten candy bar, I was hungry after shopping for 3 hours this afternoon/morning):


for a grand total of $16.41. Not awful. Pepsi is expensive now adays... But, I saved $13.84 after coupons and because everything I bought was on sale. After my purchase had earned $5 in ECBs. So, I technically got everything for $11.41... Next time I go in, I'll have $5 to use to purchase more items that will earn me ECBs. I am taking this one slow and steady...

And finally, my Kroger trip! I purchased all of this (excluding the kitten):


for a grand total of $74.67! That is 52 items right there! And guess what I saved? $99.23!!! I saved more then I spent! That is an absolute first right there! I probably would have spent even less if I had purchased only items I had coupons for or were on sale, but I had to give in and purchase a few items that there were no coupons for... I made sure the meat was manager's special (savings there were not included in the final total, but on the pork chops alone, I saved close to $5), and the water, well, B and I like the flavored Aquafina, so I made an exception. I'm really excited to have saved so much. Had I actually had more faith in myself, and more time after I figured out what I was doing, I would have purchased more and probably been able to save even better. But I'm not going to complain.

In all today, I spent a total of $114.20 (and $10.11 for gas, which I got for $1.69 a gallon! Who would have thought I'd see the day when it was that low again!). I saved $130.07 (and probably about $1.80 on my gas purchase). So I saved more then I spent!! Although, I was quite tuckered from my trip and forgot to get the ink for my printer... :)

My goal is still to spend no more then $50 in a week total for everything. I am proud of the fact that in all, my bill came to about as much as I was typically spending at Kroger alone in a week. I'll get it down eventually (especially now that I have discovered the art of stockpiling...), but realize it is going to take some additional work, especially since Kroger's doesn't run MEGA-sales every week.

I'm going to keep trying and keep posting about my efforts. Hopefully you all have some luck with sales too!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

All Done...

Well, I am officially done teaching my class for the year. Every year I say I won't ever teach it again because it can be so frustrating...but...I always end up going back. All I have left to do is grade the rest of the papers they turned in (which is going to take me a bit because I got behind when I got sick) and turn in the grades.

I mentioned before that I am surprised by what 18-year olds are doing nowadays, and I continue to be. I guess I must be becoming the old fart I never wanted to be. I always thought that the fact I was young looking, not really THAT old and surrounded by college students meant that I was in tune...but my experiences as a child and teenager were much different then the average person, and in reality, I was probably never in tune (I was such a goody-goody!).

It frustrates me to see that this is our future, and I hope they change. It also scares me for if I have kids. I don't want them to be druggies or drink a lot or have sex when they are in middle school. It amazes me how quickly things can change in our world and how accepted things can become that were once so Taboo. Sometimes it makes me just want to stay in my own little piece of the world and shelter myself...so I'm not so shocked.

With the end of the class I was hoping for more free time. Traditionally, around this time, I would be getting ready for a six-week break...where I would spend the majority of the time selling Christmas trees. I am not doing that for the first time this year, which is sad and I'm not sure how I am going to handle it yet. The free time I was hoping for will most likely not come, as I will likely pick up more hours at work (I'm hoping to know my schedule soon...is it wrong to hope I don't pick up more hours?). There is just so much else I want to do. I want to get the house unpacked and the rooms finished. I want to work with the little horses to get them used to loading in to the trailer and unloading. I want to sit with the wolf pups and I want to read some books. I want to find a job that I actually like...so that maybe then I won't mind spending half my day there.

Mostly I want to understand what the heck I'm supposed to be doing with my life!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dear Mr Police Trooper,

Thank you for ruining my day today. $109 is not easy to come by you know, and could pay for many NECESSARY items like food and gas. Thank you for pulling me over, when yes I might have been going somewhat faster then I should have been going, but had zoned out while chewing on my Twizzler, instead of the person who was driving much faster then I was (yes, I saw him pass me not too long before you pulled me over). Thank you for not taking in to consideration my perfect driving record when deciding to give me a ticket, or the fact you falsely accused me of having a bottle of alcohol in my car.

Thank you for making me think that next time I feel crappy, I should just stay home and in bed. And next time my hubby is home sick and I just want to stay home with him, that that is what I should do.

Does it give you joy to charge people outrageous fines in an already poor economy? Ponder that Mr. Police Trooper, while sitting in your cruiser eating your donuts. Some of us actually have to get off our butts to make a living.

Yours Truly,

Wolf

Dear Diary...

As I was cleaning last night, I came across my first diary. You know, the ones with the my diary lock that you really can open no matter what? I got this diary when I was 8...and never finished it...even though I wrote in it until I was 14 on and off. My problem was probably that I had several other diaries/journals and I never knew which one I should be writing in... :) Reading back on these entries made me laugh, as did seeing how my writing style changed over the years. I laugh when I think about what I thought was important to write about, or even how I thought I had to act "cool" when writing in a diary. Ah, the days when I had no clue about life...

I thought I would share an entry with you all. This is from the first year I had the diary, and pretty much every entry from this period of time was the same...I was 8, and I apparently couldn't spell.

Wensday, Aug 6, 1990

Dear Diary,

Today I went to
my cusins Lauren
We are spending
The night at her
house. Her pet
Nekki is hear and
she is a cat.
I love Lauren
and Nekki. Well
my cousen calling
me to go to bed,
Love,
Wolf

Monday, November 10, 2008

A New Blog

Just wanted to let you all know that I have started another blog (Don't worry this one will still be going!) to document me and B's every day life with our amazing wolf dogs. So, if you want to take a look, just go here!

That was rough...

I obviously haven't posted much the last week. I have been beyond sick. Today is the first day I feel somewhat normal, and even that is not that great. The cold I have had has got to be the worst cold I've had in a long time...it's hung on for a week and a half so far... A few things that have happened I haven't been able to post about:

1) Two of our horses got gelded. Talk about an experience. I never thought I'd watch or see something like that. I'd hate to be them.
2) I had to cancel my class last week. Twice. Because of my cold. I have never in the four years that I have been teaching canceled a class. Yeah, I felt like crud.
3) I slept over 35 hours this weekend. It was heaven. But I got nothing done.
4) I called off work on Thursday, only to be made to feel guilty. I go in to work on Friday because I know it will be hard to cover my shift, and receive two messages on my cell phone from work (I don't get cell service at my house) about how they need someone to cover people that have called off...one being from Thursday asking me to work longer hours on Friday. All I could think was "do they not realize how sick I am?" And then I was thanked for coming in on Friday. I would think it to be a bad thing that I came in and could possibly infect the kids, but what do I know?
5) I have officially quit my job, effective January 1. I wish it was effective before then. I really don't think taking this job was the right decision in my life. It is good to get out of the house, but bad to feel as though my talents and smarts are being put to waste and are certainly not appreciated. Funny how that doesn't happen when I'm a stay-at-home-wife though....
6) I survived the busyness of advising time despite being sick. Advising is the only reason I didn't call off work more last week. I had no time to make up those appointments.
7) Only one more week left of teaching my class! Yay! But that doesn't mean more freedom, because it is possible that I will be taking on more hours over the next month... Boo!
8) I find myself wishing more and more that I had more time to do all the things in my life that I would like to try. I don't get why life has to be so overcome with ridiculous things.
9) I'm not a fan of the colder weather. I miss being able to go outside without a coat and without my fingers freezing.

I'm hopeful I'll be able to post more this week now that it seems I may be getting better (I'm crossing my fingers!).
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