Friday, January 22, 2010

Birthday and nightmares

Ah, what a week it's been. Well, let’s start at the beginning as that's the best place to start.
On Sunday I signed up for Gamefly two week free trial. I should have waited as Monday is a holiday and no mail will be delivered but I wanted to make sure that the ball got rolling. I really like the idea of Gamefly, for about what half a game costs a month ($22) I can have 2 games at a time unlimited number a month. This way I don't get stuck with a crappy game, or one that I finish in a week. Well so far I'm mixed on my opinion of them, they games didn't come till yesterday (Thursday) from Pittsburgh. Seems to me it shouldn't take so long to come from a place where I can drive in less than 5 hours.

For the majority of what is about a week now I've been suffering (and that's the word too) from nightmares and insomnia. My sleep schedule is messed up as it is, usually split between a 3-4 hour nap in the morning and a 2-3 hour nap in the evening, so collapsing in bed was never a problem before, but lately I have had no luck getting deep restful sleep. I don't know what the culprit to my plight is, but I need to find a way to restore balance before I go insane. Someone I knew from long ago said to stop watching the news before bed (she hasn't kept close enough tabs to know my odd sleep schedule or that we don't have TV in our house) and I could see that all the bad news in the world could easily give people nightmares. One reason I'm very glad we have purged that from our household. Another shocking revelation on the TV front came to me yesterday. I found that the school my daughter goes to has been showing TV to the kids at lunch time. That makes me REALLY mad! I guess they show them "Dragontales", a PBS show, but I didn't have any say as to what was selected, how it's presented, and I don't know if they are showing it on or off air, which determines whether they see commercials. And that is a BIG deal. At Christmas time my daughter was excited about things that SHE wanted. A shark tooth necklace, robot bugs, etc, not what commercial society determined she SHOULD want. And I've seen a big difference in how she acts and how some of her friends act. The starkest example is how nuts some of these kids are going over zhu zhu pets. A small stuffed hamster pet that retails for under $10 was going for upwards of $80 on eBay around the holidays because they were scarce and kids were told they NEEDED them by commercial society. Honestly, they look like something out of a happy meal toy to me. Sorry, that's my little rant on commercial society and how it's force fed to our children.

My youngest started swim class today and she LOVES it :) She's also very good at it, must me all the love for bath time. She is performing at the next level up in many aspects and listening to the instructor and showing absolutely no fear. I'm very proud of her.

And finally it was my lovely wife's birthday this week! It's her last year as a twenty something (She posted it herself so I figure I'm safe posting it too). I feel bad that funds are tight this year and I couldn't do all I wanted to show her how special she is to me, but we still will have fun this weekend when I'm off work. It sounds corny and trite, but I'm reminded when it comes to gift giving events that one of the corner stones of Buddhism states that desire is the source of all suffering and cessation of that desire is the path to enlightenment. I never thought I’d be one to subscribe to that (I really like getting presents) but last Christmas was one of the "leanest" Christmas (as far as presents go) I've had and I enjoyed it the most I think because I didn’t want much so I wasn't disappointed when I didn't get it. I'll try to keep that frame of mind when it comes to my birthday in a month, but there a number of things I have my eye on (most of them are work related NEEDS though i.e. new boots) so wish me luck.


Monday, January 11, 2010


Ugh, a dirty word to most, and a sensitive subject to nearly all I know is their finances.
Seems there is never enough to go around and make everyone happy, so in this New Year I am going to try my best to see what can be done to make me and my family a little happier and hopefully I can share some tips to everyone else.
Well first off there's this zero budget thing that seems to be going around. It's where you account for where all of you money goes. It's really simple Income-Expenses=0 You're probably saying the thing I said when I first read it too, well it seems my expenses outweigh my income. Well, unfortunately that's something that needs fixed before we can move onto step two. Take a look at your dining out bill. I know that's a vice for our family. A meal at someplace as cheap as a drive though fast food place (name withheld to protect the innocent) can cost as much as $20 for a family of four, easily. Take a similar meal, chicken strips for this example, and cook it at home. I used two chicken breasts ($3) shake and bake to flavor it up a bit ($.89) and make mashed potatoes ($2) and broccoli ($3). That adds up to under $10, the servings were MUCH bigger, the kids loved it and I know the food was a much better quality, and NOT FRIED. I know it takes time to cook food and home and who has it right? Well I've turned food prep time into playtime w/ the kids. They love dumping stuff, stirring stuff, getting dressed up in aprons, and helping. They let me do the steps that require sharp knives and handling hot food or pots and pans, but there's still lots to do and I get to spend time w/ my family.
Where was I after that lengthy side track...o yes, step two to making finances healthier. Becoming debt free! Sounds like a dream doesn't it? Well if you can make you zero budget a little heavier on the income side it's not. Check out {Simple Mom}'s article for how this works. But it amounts to focusing on one debt item at a time and burning it down to nothing before moving on to the next one. Burn down that credit card? That’s an extra $40 a month to throw at the next bill. Pay off the car? That's almost $300 in our case! Just think when u get all your bills paid's like a second job's worth of income that was there all along.
I know my finances get in the way of my peacefulness. I worry about them, fight about it, and so much more. If I can find the path to financial freedom (and it really does seem like freedom) then I can't imagine how much simpler life could be.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wow! been a while

It's been quite some time since I've had the opportunity to blog, or had something I considered to be "blogworthy."  I guess I'm much more comfortable with the micro-blogging of twitter and facebook, but will try to contribute more here.
Well it's a new year and like so many others, I reflect on the past year and see where I came up lacking and what I want to change. 
1. I am going to try to cut out soda completly.  Water is a much more natural, healthy alternative and it doesn't have the unpleasant side effect of taking away your teeth and adding insulation to your middle.
2. Do some kind of stretch/workout for 30min, 4 days a week.  This is a minimum.  I'm tired of being sore in a bad way.
3. Become more selfless.  For the longest time I've felt that if i don't look out for my needs, no one will.  I must begin to trust in others that if I help them find enjoyment they will reciprocate.
4. Become financially healthy.  Found a great debt free plan on my wife's blog about how to attack debt.  Something about snowball and paying off smaller debts so you don't have to contend w/ monthly payments.  i'll post a link when i find one.

I have made lots of progress on being less materialistic I feel.  I have tried to trim down on my "OOOO I GOTTA have that" feelings and been content with what I have.  I've really started to enjoy my little 2 min meditation sessions (before the kids smack me with foam swords or bombard me with snack requests).  And I've come to the conclusion that even though my goal to become financially healthy is a priority, it's not something to get UBER stressed about.  I can't make money appear out of thin air, so there is no purpose getting my knickers in a knot!

Here's to 2010, I hope it's peaceful and enlightening


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