The other day I decided that after about two years of waking up extra early to walk the dog, Sean was overdue for a break on that chore. So I passed it on to Evan. All I expected was for him to wake up at seven AM and take the dog out for five minutes or so so he could relieve himself. Easy enough, and Sean would still handle the rest of the dog care.
Evan seems to have decided, on his own, that walking the dog at seven is fine, BUT he wants to do more. So now each morning I hear the door thud as Evan and Bear go out and return, then the sound of rattling dog food into the dog dish, and water being put in the bowl. In addition, Evan has been walking the dog throughout the day, and brushing his coat. Sean is still handling the walks after dark, as Evan gets a little bit creeped out in the pitch black back yard, and who can blame him?
Sean is actually a little bit disconcerted by Evan taking over the lion's share of the dog care. So he is negotiating with Evan so that he will still walk the dog a few times a day. But, as I told Sean, you don't have to walk the dog just when he needs to relieve himself, I'm sure that Bear would love going out for a run a couple of times a day, or a romp in the yard.
I am very very proud of Evan for deciding to do more work than was asked of him. I'm also proud of Sean that he doesn't want to give up the dog's care entirely to Evan.
The kids really love that dog. We all do. He's this utterly stupid and adorable and sweet pooch, and I bless the day that he followed the boys and their granddaddy home from their walk together. The mutt just FITS our family like an old perfect work boot.
The last dog I had was Cana, and she was a sweetie until she ended up left outside in a back yard all the time with minimal human contact. Her hunter instincts took over and she killed a pet bunny and my cat, Violet. I wish to God I could have taken Violet to Texas with me instead of having to leave her with those people. She'd be alive today. I also wish he hadn't just taken the dog, knowing she would end up banished to a kennel in the yard when she was very imprinted on human beings and needed a lot of loving contact. Neglect, pure and simple, killed Cana, Violet, and little N's pet rabbit. What a shame.
Speaking of neglect, I need to make a vet appointment for a heartworm screening for Bear. We ran out of his heartworm meds two months ago and they won't resubscribe without a screening first. We were too broke to refill them on time. This time, I am going to ask for a double supply, and when we open the second pack I will go down and pick up a refill, so that we always have one unopened pack around.
Which segues this post into my next topic, moolah.
The whole "have an unopened pack of heartworm pills" thing has its roots in how we've been handling the money this past three months or so.
When we got our income tax refund, I sent my landlord an extra two months rent, right off the top of the refund. This was because in summertime, Sam's income from the school is cut just about in half, and there have been too many summers where we would not have eaten without having to resort to the food banks. Going to those really bugs both Sam and I a lot, but if the kids need to eat, then the kids need to eat, you know? Anyways..
So I paid some rent in advance, and each month since then, I've been paying half rent on the first and having them take the rest out of what is on account. This means we can do things like pay our electric and water and phone and natural gas bill AND buy food, hallelujah can you say amen?
Additionally, we bought an upright freezer, because sales are great for stocking up, and because our local market often has a lot of excellent meat marked down 50-75% off original prices because it has to be used or frozen within the next day or it will go bad. Just a few weeks ago, for example, we bought over $100 worth of meat for a grand total of $32. I lvoe my freezer, have I mentioned that? We got some roasts, ground beef, some very very nice steaks, and some chicken. All in the freezer. The ground beef we cook up before we freeze it, and freeze in one pound portions for making spaghetti, cheeseburger macaroni, sloppy joes, etc. Makes it much easier to cook a quick meal when you don't feel like cooking. (This "pre-cook as much as possible in standard portion sizes" deal has saved us a BUTTLOAD of money because now there's no excuse to go out and eat unless it's a special occasion such as a birthday.)
The freezer is a Godsend. I buy frozen veggies when they're on sale for ten packages for ten bucks. Currently we have about 30 packs of all sorts of veggies. Up until we had the freezer we always bought canned. Fresh didn't seem to get used before it spoiled, and we didn't have the freezer space for frozen. Now we have great variety in veggies, and they taste so damn much better than canned stuff.
When we bought the freezer we stocked it up with chicken and beef, pork and veggies, frozen waffles and pancakes, a couple of tubs of ice cream, popsicles, you name it, we jammed it in there. We've been using and rotating the stock ever since we bought it, except this last six weeks or so with money so tight. This is when a big freezer is a true blessing, because we know when the money situation gets better (mid-September, when the student loan stuff goes through), and can just empty the freezer out and refill it when the disbursement comes in. We even keep two to three gallons of milk in there. But we don't use all that much milk, except for drinking straight. For chocolate milk, cereal, or cooking, we use a mix of three quarts of powdered milk and one can of evaporated milk. It's a small bit cheaper, but more to the point, we always have milk to drink because we aren't using it for stuff where you can barely taste the milk, and we always have a box of powdered and some cans of evaporated around.
And now we're doing AngelFood, which I told y'all about a couple of weeks back. We placed this month's order yesterday, instead of buying three boxes we only bought two this month because money is tight and we're not hurting for food, but basically we want to get into the habit of placing our order. After the summer money crunch is over we'll be doing three, possibly four boxes a month, depending on what's in it each month. For example, if there's ribs that month, we probably won't buy much, because two pounds of ribs equals about half an ounce of meat (Okay, I exaggerate. Maybe a quarter ounce?) and that is not enough to feed a family, even if you get multiple packages of them. And we don't barbecue, we have no grill.
So that's food and rent.
I have finally mastered getting down to the town hall each month before the 15th and paying my water bill - this is important as there's a $20 late fee, and with my water bill averaging about $45 a month, a $20 late fee is one hell of a high interest rate to pay for screwing up. Each month I am paying $15 more than the bill actually is. This is my Christmas money crunch ace in the hole. It means that come November and December, I will have enough on account there to skip paying the bill those two months.
We switched our electric bill over to averaged billing. This means that each month my bill will be $179. In winter this will be a fair bit more than we would pay with regular billing, but in summer a HUGE amount of money not going out all at once.This being Texas, the air conditioners have to stay on 24 hours a day, and that gets very costly. I'm also trying to pay a little bit extra on that each month. That came in handy last month, before we switched to averaged billing. Our actual bill was $275ish, but I only had to send them $190 and change.
Same with the gas and the phone. I round those up to the next ten dollars. Even if the gas bill is $40.23, I send $50. Then if we have a shortfall some month due to whatever reason, we can send less, or occasionally nothing at all, without it affecting either our good payment history or our general finances.
Seriously we have only two serious expenditures that are impossible to plan for. Gasoline because it is fluctuating so wildly any more, and dental work, of which I need several thousand dollars. It is time to have my teeth pulled and get dentures. I am sick of hurting all the time, and of chronic halitosis. But that will have to wait until income tax refund time, unfortunately. HOWEVER, my friend Cat just had her teeth done, and has turned me on to a dentist in Fort Worth who will pull them all AND do the dentures for about $2000, give or take $500 if any teeth need to be surgically removed. I reckon I'll be losing a bit of weight after the teeth come out. Catherine lost almost 40 pounds because eating hurt too damn much, even on mass quantities of pain killers. Maybe not the happiest way to lose weight, but whatever works. She also managed to quit smoking because she hurt too much to do any sort of mouth suction not required for survival, such as drinking water. May I have such "side-effects" from getting my own teeth yanked.
I'm rambling this morning. :)
We went out and got the boys some school clothes right after they got home from Sam's folks' back in June. Did the Goodwill and Denton Thrift thing, so they'll be properly dressed for school. Got them new tennis shoes, too. Grab it when we have the money, before we piss it away on frivolity. (Is that even a word?) All they need is the school supplies. We flat out cannot afford to buy most of the stuff on those lists currently, but we have all of the basics already, because of homeschooling. Single subject notebooks, binders, binder paper, pencils, pens. Their backpacks are pretty beat up and will need replacing ASAP, and there's other stuff like map pencils, calculators, etc that they will be needing. My friend Ginger sent me a nice check to buy school supplies with for them, and that should cover most of what we need. The boys are bugged that they won't be getting all brand new binders and all that, and have to use last year's stuff, but something tells me that they will survive.. but.. can ANYBODY tell me why the hell each boy is required to bring in two boxes of ziplock bags and four boxes of Kleenex? All I can think is the school is dealing weed and needs the baggies to weigh the herb out into, and that the teachers sniff too much cocaine and suffer chronic runny noses! ;)
I have to get down to H&R Block sometime soon and get Sam's back taxes for 2006 filed. We'll be getting a hefty refund on that, even though they're late, and even though he only earned about $4,000 that year, thanks to Earned Income Credit. AND we have 2005 to file, too. Woowoo.
And when those monies come through, I'm paying our rent up at least six months in advance, sending the electric company at least six months worth of billing as well, so that I can be on half rent and half electric for a year solid.. and if there's dough left, then we will pay the phone and natural gas up, and the water as well. And restock the freezer.. although we may sell this one and buy a bigger one first.
And buy the boys more clothes, as they have the bare minimum, and new tires for the car, as they're leaky and old.
And.. one frivolous item, if there's money left after all the life necessities: A new laptop for the boys, and one for me. The boys computer takes up almost half of my living room right now, and that makes me crazy. A laptop means it can be tucked away when not in use. And the laptop I want? http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8950735&type=product&id=1215819844506 - it's small enough to fit in my PURSE, but grunty enough to do what I need.. and I'll need one of these, too: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8755224&type=product&id=1202649958335 - but this is only if we have the money left after the essentials.
For the boys, we're looking at: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8878832&type=product&id=1210379318661 and three of the portable drives like mine, in different colors so they each have their data safe from being screwed up when their brothers play mini-sysadmin and screw the machine up and it needs a full reformat.
Enough already Jenn, you talk too much!