Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Packing packing packing

Today is packing day. Fortunately for me, I have very, very little to do with the process. As in, nothing.

My job is to sit here and look pretty. I'm obviously very good at it.

I started out this packing experience by circulating the apartment and writing extra things on the boxes. For example, when the box in Dave's room was labeled "bedding" but 99 percent of the bedding was still IN the room and NOT in the box, I went ahead and put a note on there about what was actually in it.

I've since given up on this and tucked myself onto the couch. There are five packers in here and it is not a big place. I was just getting in the way. Plus during that time of walking hither and thither and writing things, I noticed that they were doing a pretty stellar job and the labels were accurate-ish, so I'm just going to leave them alone.

Plus it's really cold in here (my blankie is in a box somewhere) and this laptop is keeping me warm.

Oh and p.s. I'm bumming a neighbor's internet to bring you this post.

My blood pressure is significantly lower at the moment thanks to what appears to be the competence of these packers. I was concerned that they wouldn't pack my food or anything liquid (for example, my giant stock pile of shampoo and lotion that I got mostly for free and don't want to part with) and that I would have tote it across the country myself.

But ahaha! They said they'd pack it no problemo!

In fact, the only thing they said they wouldn't pack is bleach. And since I already got rid of my cleaning supplies (they were mostly empty and I LOVE shopping for cleaning supplies), there's no problem there.

In other, unrelated news, if you want to see something really REALLY melt-your-heart adorable, check out this picture of Abigail's kiddo with his face on his bear's butt. SO CUTE.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Heart Attack

In a recent, epic frugal fail I caved and impulse bought a portable DVD player from a store, not on discount.

It was an urgent matter. I hadn't planned ahead enough to buy one online on the cheap and we were getting on a bus for a long trip to Canada in t-minus three days. There was no way I was going that far with Dave without Elmo and his entertaining friends to keep us all company. No way at all.

About $200 later we had a nice DVD player from Best Buy, plus the warranty Luke insisted on getting. I'm not big on the warranties because I feel like they are a big waste of money. I also know, however, that we break stuff and by "we" I mean "I." Warranties can be a good idea.

Enter yesterday, when we installed the DVD player into the car and turned it on to make sure David would, indeed, by entertained by it for hours on end during our Really Long Roadtrip To Georgia.

.... and that was the moment I saw that the DVD player LCD screen is cracked. Like majorly cracked.

Now obviously I'm thinking the extra money on the warranty was a good idea. But I was also absolutely furious. How could this happen? We JUST bought the stupid thing and have only used it a hand full of times! HOW could I have allowed it to be in a place where it got a little smashed (or something)?

... so I was mad. I was mad at the DVD player. I was mad at Best Buy into tricking us into spending so much money and then having a good reason for it in the end. I was mad at Luke (because he happened to be there). I was mad at myself.

It's going to take several weeks for the thing to get fixed, so we're just going to live with it broken on the trip because Dave isn't picky about Elmo having cracks in him and there is NO WAY I am leaving this state without that thing securely in our car. No way at all.

If I was really a frugal person I would make sure and take care of our stuff. ... that way we wouldn't break our DVD player after a month or have to replace the pots we got for our wedding already because the teflon is peeling because we bang them together and Some People (ahem) use metal silverware in them.

I feel like such a moron

In other, more excellent news, I got a call from the housing office on Benning this morning (where we are moving) and they have housing available for us -- and not just housing available, but the housing we WANT. Woohooo!!! Talk about a relief.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

See Ya Later, Brain Cells!

Like I mentioned earlier, we are hiring a cleaning lady to come and clean what I imagine to be our already fairly clean apartment before we move but after our stuff is gone. I imagine it be already clean because I refuse to admit that I have lived here for two years without once dusting all of the base boards. Even now I will deny it ... even though I know it is a lie because I just saw the dust behind the bookshelves.

This nice cleaning lady is going to charge $30 an hour for her and one other presumably nice lady to scrub. During our conversation about what happens during a "move out clean" she mentioned that the reason she brings said companion is that, while person number one spends as long as an hour cleaning the oven, person number two can clean the bathroom.

.... that's right, an hour.

You know me -- I'm not into spending more money than I have to. And even though this fact is going to edge me away from "thrifty" and waaaay towards "cheap" in your mind, I'm going to tell you anyway: we are cleaning the oven before she gets here.

And by "we," I mean "Luke."

I probably shouldn't let him be doing that since I'm pretty sure his trip to the 'Stan has left a few brain cells short as it is. Even though he's the one with his head in the oven, the fumes have permeated the entire premises (except for David's room.. which is closed ... and he is sleeping. I think) and now I, too, have had a healthy (sarcasm!) share of the fumes as well.

It's intense.

But the oven is sooooo shiny! And now little cleaning lady doesn't have to even open it. Or the scrub the stove top, for that matter. Ahhaha! Less time she will spend here! And less money I have to pay in the process.

This just in from Luke: "Uuuuugh. I'll be OK. It's only brain cells."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Can I Just Throw it Out?

"Where the mother of crap did all this stuff come from!?"

That is how I'm feeling as I'm cleaning out closets, labeling tupperware containers of food and thinking about all the laundry I'm going to do Tuesday before The Packers come and put all of my stuff in boxes.

Truth be known it's not the packing that is wigging me out, it's the unpacking I know I'm going to be doing in (hopefully) not too long. That is the day that I will shake my fist in the air and say "a pox on you packers, for putting pans with pants!"

How in the world did I end up with so much stuff anyway? Why do I need so many clothes? Can't Dave just play with pots for the rest of his life instead of this pile of toys? And for the LOVE how did I get so much PYREX!?

(I actually know the answer to the pyrex question. When Abigail had her "yard sale" out of the back of her car before she moved the first time she TRICKED me into taking a bunch of pyrex she didn't want. And now I have a lot. Like enough to bring 17 dishes to potluck ... that might be an exaggeration).

My solution to the (currently imagined) drama of unpacking what will certainly be an incredibly unorganized pile of who knows what is to just throw everything out before the movers come. This is quite obviously not the frugal answer since at some point I will think "if I only had One More Pyrex dish ..." and then go out and buy one to replace the ones I, in a fit of packing rage, threw away.

The things that are really in danger in this scenario are the things that do not belong to me at all. Example: the truly giant bronze buffalo given to Luke yesterday as a going away gift by the battalion. ... that we did not order. ... and do not want ... and is twice as big as the one everyone else ordered/got. I imagine myself unpacking it in Georgia while what I'm really looking for is the shower curtain and hurling it out the window in a fit of frustration. It won't be pretty ... not to mention it will probably seriously injure whoever it lands upon.

Another example: goad stick. What, you ask, is a goad stick? It is a stick used to poke animals until they move. When Luke came home from Afghanistan he brought a homemade one with him, complete with a bullet attached to the end. It's lovely. And I hate it.

I don't hate it because of what it is. I hate it because I imagine myself unpacking it and figuring out somewhere to put it while all I really want to do is go to sleep (I perpetually imagine myself exhausted from this whole process).

So where does frugal living meet with me not going crazy?? Is it OK to throw out EVERYTHING ... no. But how do I maintain my sanity?!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This Moment Brought to You By ...

You can thank David for this blogging moment. It is 7:45 a.m. and, in some sort of miracle, he is still asleep. This is particularly a miracle since, for the last several days, he has been waking up increasingly early. Saturday it was 6:45 a.m. Sunday it was 6:30 a.m. Yesterday it was 5:45 a.m.

Maybe he's making up for lost time. Or maybe he's caught his dad's head cold. I'm going to choose to believe the former.

Regardless, it has left me with a spare moment which I will choose to use for blogging instead of, say, working. Because life is all about choices.

We have a mere eight days left before the packers show up and put of all of our stuff into boxes. I'm officially at the point of no longer caring how my house looks or how clean it is because first they will pick up my stuff for me (organize, no -- pick up, yes) and then, after they are done, a woman is coming to clean the apartment. My motivation to clean the shower is also entirely gone. Fabulous.

It didn't take me much debate to decide on paying someone to come clean instead of doing a move out clean myself. I'm going to be stressed enough next week after all is said and done. If it's a matter of priorities, frugal time and using my last moments here in Tacoma the best way I know how, cleaning does not make the list at all. I think paying someone to clean for you is a tremendous waste of money under most normal circumstances. This, however, is a far cry from "normal." At this point I don't even care how much it costs.

So in a week we'll load all of the stuff the packers refuse to pack that I Must Keep (read: those bottles of lotion I insisted on getting during that Walgreens deal that I now have not used but refuse to part with), plus clothes and toys and DVDs for David (I anticipate that during this trip I will official rule our new portable DVD player the Best Purchase Ever) into our car and be on our way. We'll be driving through Wyoming, South Dakota and a bunch of other places I've never been that Luke claims are amazing and staying in mostly normal hotels.

I say "mostly normal" because Luke really wants to stay in a po-dunk town in Wyoming in between two normal sized towns. And this place only has highly sketchy motels .. and by "highly sketchy" I mean "potentially terrifying."

For example, check out this place. What's up with the random clothes pinned on the wall? Seriously.

So far the only good part about staying there that I can see is that it's cheap. So win for that.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not Dead, Just Busy

At some point blogging becomes like cleaning the fridge: the longer you don't do it, the more you think that it can wait and that it really would be silly to bother with it now. Unfortunately, the longer you wait the harder it is to get started at all.

And so here I am, almost two months later. Greetings.

My hiatus corresponds almost directly with the day I started a new job that is taking up every single minute of my spare time. Sure, I still whittle away untold minutes on Facebook trying to see who from college has gained the most weight (as IF you don't do that too). But most of my time is spent at four pursuits, and not necessarily in this order:

1. Taking care of my family (includes quality time, cooking, cleaning, etc.)
2. Bible study/church
3. Working out (have done two triathlons since last writing and have a half marathon Saturday!)
4. Working

I rarely spend time with friends anymore. And I frequently don't even make time for one of the things I enjoy the most -- coupons!

This is actually a good thing. Being so busy challenges me to be frugal not only with my time, but even more so with my money. I don't have the extra minutes to scan the web for freebies, so that means I have to be particularly good about paying close attention while I shop.

It also means that I have to be more careful not to give in to the temptation to to take shortcuts at home -- you know, like just not turning off the lights because it's a hassle or buying prepared food because it's easier. Being busy should not be an excuse to spend more money -- it should be a call to reexamine my priorities (again!), decide where I can achieve savings and good stewardship and note where shortcuts give me the most returns (does the time saved outweigh the extra cost?).

Fall tends to be a busy season for everyone, not just me. Maybe this is a good time to do a little exercise to reexamine your priorities and your spending habits. Do they match up?