Welcome to the family Ode!

I am feeling much better about myself these days. I am sorry to have left such a dreary, negative post up for so long. The past three weeks have been action packed.

Three weeks ago today, I was rear-ended. After work the hubby met Elliott and I for dinner. And after dinner, Elliott wanted to ride home with his Dad. The freeway was packed from commuter traffic ( we went to an early dinner and were done around 5:45pm), so I decided to take side streets home and Jeff followed me. Jeff drives faster than I do, and he ended up passing me before the lanes merged into one. We both stopped at a light to turn right, and he went, and I waited for on coming traffic to turn. As I eased out into the intersection to prepare for my turn, the gal behind me slammed into me.
We both pulled over, exchanged info professionally and politely, and went on our way. Neither of us was hurt and both of our vehicles were drivable. I have never been in an auto accident, or had so much as a ticket so I had no idea what was in store for me regarding insurance, etc. But, since my car was banged up badly, I filed a claim. The other gals insurance took 100% liability and cut me a check for $3200.
After doing some research and talking with several people and body shops–we decided to sell my car ‘as is’ and buy another vehicle. The timing for all of this was perfect since our Credit Union approved us for an auto loan on line and they were having a used car auto event that next week. I did some looking around at dealers, CarMax, Autotrader, etc. and then we went to the event. I was set on a Toyota Highlander that I found on line, but we walked out with a Honda Odyssey. Which was my husbands suggestion and preference.
It took a few weeks to get used to the fact that I now drive a mini-van, so after getting over the initial stigma I can say with confidence that I love the vehicle. It has all of the bells and whistles that we need for our growing family, and it gets the same gas mileage as my VW. I think that it actually makes me a safer driver too. I feel more parental and more responsible when I am driving the mini-van-therefore I drive slower and more cautiously.
The best part is that I put the VW up for sale on Friday, and sold it Sunday afternoon! I was saddened to see it go, since we have been together for 6 years. But, it went to a good home and the gal who bought it needed a car ASAP as she was in a car accident that totaled her car.
From a budgeting perspective we have no business adding a car payment to our tally. However, we put all of the insurance payout and the VW’s sale towards Ode (my new car’s name) and hope to pay it off as soon as possible. Neither of us like to have debt and work hard to payoff loans ASAP.
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Budgeting for #2

I am a planner, I like to be prepared and I like to know what to expect.  All of this is sometimes to my detriment and the tragic loss of spontaneity and the sudden joy it can bring.

So, since discovering I was pregnant last Saturday (yippee!!!), I have been running through the list of things that will be changing with the arrival of a second child.  I have also been thinking about our budget and how we can survive with 2 children on one income.  Not to mention the challenges of 4 people in our 1000 square foot house, with 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom.  
I have been collecting unemployment since I lost my job in November.  I have been looking for a job, but suspect that my resume must be tainted or marked with a scarlet letter.  Since I graduated from college, I have only worked with mortgage banks, both large and small.  My last position was with a Mortgage Banking Software company and while not a bank or lender, I suspect prospective employers don’t see the difference.  And for the record–not a single call back on my resume to date.  
My point is that I have only a few months of unemployment remaining, and then we are limited to one income.  I have posted many times about the long term cuts we have been making to household expenses.  But, we are going to have to make many more cuts in the near future or I would need to get a job.  
Our household expenses are pretty bare bones–mortgage, utilities, groceries, insurance, gas. But, there are still some areas that could use some trimming.  There are the (too) occasional family dinners out (usually at about $40-60 each).   There is my husbands love of IPA that can not be stopped ($10 per 6 pack!!!).   I occasionally meet former co-workers or friends for lunch ($10). Hubby and I usually go to our local coffee house on the weekends for a fancy latte and a pastry, and a milk for the tot ($10 each morning).  That is just to name a few of the monthly incidentals. that we feel we somehow have earned.  
So, my question to you Internet is–how do you wean yourself off of these luxuries without feeling deprived and somehow like you deserve these things, even though you don’t have the long term budget for them?  It feels like I am on a diet all over again.  You know the feeling–as soon as you start a diet, you start feeling like you are missing out.  You are hungry even after you have finished your meal.  Will these things just naturally take care of themselves, as we add another member to our household?
And moreover, for those with more than one child–what should I expect as far as expenses? Diapers and Co-payments I know.  But, what else?  

Virtual Valentines Day

As you all know, we are on a tight budget since I was laid off in November.  We don’t typically celebrate these types of holidays with gifts or lavishness anyhow, but this year we decided on a very different kind of celebration.

We decided to exchange virtual gifts.  So, we would still shop just like we were really buying the other person something special, but money wasn’t an issue.  We would put it together with the same excitement of a real gift, and we would exchange them on V day.
My gift to my hubby was a new macbook, with pro-tools on it.  He liked it.
My hubby’s gift to me was this:

Happy Valentine’s 

Day 2009

To my wife  –

As we have decided to give virtual gifts this year, I have created you an electronic document that lists all of your gifts in sequential order.  Enjoy.

1.        Breakfast with Matthew – I thought it would be nice to have Matthew McConaughey make you breakfast since you like him and he would be fun to have breakfast with.

2.    Then, you would be escorted by limousine to Coronado for a spa treatment. FUN and UBER relaxing.

3.       Then, you would come back to the house and we would head out for a walk through Torrey Pines State Park with Elliott and Whiskey.  Since it’s virtual, dogs are now allowed at the State Park.  J

4.    We would probably be hungry.  Good thing…  because Colin Melloy will be at our house fixing lunch for you.  After lunch, you get a private acoustic performance in the living room and a kiss on the cheek from your “other” boyfriend.

5.       Then… it’s off to a $1000 shopping spree at Fashion Valley.  Elliott and I will follow you around in a shopping cart while you go crazy!

6.       I hope you worked up an appetite, because we are going to Bombay for dinner.  MMMM…  Delicious Dizzy Noo Shak!

7.       And when all is said and done… we put Elliott down and you get to snuggle up to me for some sweet lovin’ (pictures too graphic to post)!  What a great Valentine’s Day.  You must certainly love me!  Happy Virtual Valentines.  

       Now, is my husband awesome or what? 

        



America’s Finest City

Dear City of San Diego (aka America’s Finest City),

I know that we are in a nationwide and perhaps even a worldwide recession.  I am also aware that the city’s income/revenue is down and tourist traffic is down.  I also know that you have had to layoff hundreds (thousands?) of valuable employees and that the city is facing a major budget shortfall.  I am also aware that our school lunch program is at risk because of the larger problems our state is having.  
While I am not unreasonable…I have to ask where the roads and public works projects rank on the list?  I value school lunches far more than our roads, but I have a larger more selfish problem right now, so indulge me.  
You see, I just spent $1300 on car repairs that all involved wear and tear related to the poor conditions of our roads.  Since I feel bitter (and a variety of other feelings not appropriate for this blog) about this, I feel the need to assign the blame to someone else.  And, lets face it–you are as good as anyone.
So, I ask you humbly, please make the repair of roads, potholes, freeways, and highways more of a priority.  Oh, and thank you for recently installing ramps at the corners of our streets.  
Sincerely,
Darwinsgirl

Bye bye housekeeper, hello backache

As I posted earlier, I am spoiled.  Well, make that was spoiled.  This week we decided to suspend the services of our wonderful housekeeper of 5 years, at least until I find a job or we make more money.  I know that most readers of this blog likely clean their own house.  But, let me have this moment to grieve the loss as well as absorb the fact that I am now the housekeeper.

We have whittled the budget down almost as far as it can go.  The only *extra’s* are netflix and XM radio-for a total monthly amount of $22.  I am extremely impressed with our ability to go from an extravagant lifestyle where we once had a $500 monthly spending allowance for entertainment (ahh, the good ole days!!!) down to one income and no revolving debt. 
**Sniffle**

Optimism

Again, this morning I was feeling pretty down about being laid off. I ran through my mental Rolodex of who I could call that would listen to me complain, again. While it still stings, it comes as no surprise that most people don’t want to listen to me rant, whine, and wallow in self pity. Hurph.

I was lucky enough to talk with a friend who gave me some much needed optimistic advice. She reminded me of all the times I called her regarding my job, of the many conversations we had about me quiting work to stay home and be a full time mom…etc., etc., etc.

I acknowledged that it was true, I wasn’t always 100% happy with my former job. (But, I wanted to be in control of the decision!!!) She reminded me again, that I was getting paid to be unemployed. And while not a whopping sum of money–I didn’t have to put up with clients or my formers bosses to get it. Its freeeeeeeeee–and all I have to do is look for work. Which, mind you doesn’t take too long since 1) there aren’t many jobs out there given the new recession news 2) there are fewer employers looking for part time employees 3) there are close to nill part time jobs that pay anywhere close to my salary requirements that would make it worth giving up unemployment pay 4) there aren’t any jobs that are part time, with my salary, that would benefit from my skill set since the mortgage market is totally locked up by the lack of credit.

This was further evidenced today by my phone interview with the Unemployment Office. Apparently my file was flagged because they thought I was trying to get paid for full time benefits, and only look for part time work. Her words were something like–How much do you make per hour? And, how many hours did you work? Hmm, most full time employees don’t get paid that much. Uh huh, yes, you might need to lower your salary requirements a bit to get a job in this market.

Thanks for the reality check. I needed someone to knock me off my high horse today. I had only just remounted earlier that morning. Yes, you have a great day too.

The Magic 8 Ball says…

I consulted the Magic 8 Ball today, and it said ‘all signs point to yes’. Well, it was correct. I got laid off today. Really no surprise given the market.

The good part is that I had time to prepare myself. Wen my boss emailed me asking me to clear my schedule 30 minutes before my work day ends…I kinda got a hollow/sick feelings in my stomach. Then, when I voiced my concerns over the email to my co-workers they disclosed that a Fedex came on Friday from our HR company with my name in the subject line. They were going to put it on my desk, then decided to let my boss know. Both bosses work off site, so one came into the office to retrieve it. Again, not a certainty, but more evidence.

Then I logged into our HR website, and lo and behold–my final paycheck was posted with my vacation time paid out with a pay date of today. See what happens when you lay off your skilled workers! They forget to hit the “hide” button on people’s final paycheck and instead disclose the fact that I am getting the ax…

So, during the day while I should have been nervously working…I was instead packing my boxes, clearing out any personal emails, backing up my contacts to a flash drive, and surfing the EDD website to find out how to file unemployment.

When my boss arrived to deliver the news-one look around my office and he knew that I knew. We had a casual banter about the emptiness of my office, he asked how I knew. i asked a few questions about why they decided on me, would I be reeligable, and the like. Then, I said goodbye to my co-workers and went home to my family.

I don’t mind so much getting the boot (there is the normal drain on your ego and self worth)–I have certainly had to make and carry out these kinds of difficult decisions time and again over the years. I do wonder why it was me and not someone else. But, the suckiest part is that the economy is so bad, that the likelihood of me getting another job, with my salary range, part time, and close to home is slim to none. Not to mention doing something I really loved.

The other part that bites is that since I graduated from college I have worked in the mortgage industry. I have had a part in all aspects from docs, funding, post-closing, processing, secondary, underwriting, escrow, to mortgage banking software to management of all departments. I don’t really know another industry. So, finding a job in another field will be a big change after 10 years in this line of work.

The good part for us is that we have been slowly making lifestyle changes to slim down our monthly budget. We are in a better position than we were a few years ago. But, no one is ready to loose all of their income (there is unemployment insurance of course!).

I plan on taking until the beginning of the year off (while still searching for a job passively). At the start of 2009 I should have a new resume and a formalized game plan for how to tackle the next phase in my life. Wish me well!

Co-op and Budget updates

I haven’t ventured out to the food co-op yet. I suck.

But, I decided to only shop at TJ’s and Whole Foods and skip the grocery store all together–for good. I feel way better about our food choices already.

I also made the decision to not buy any beauty products with parabens in the ingredient list. Its the small things, right? One decision at a time.

I managed to also eliminate another monthly debt from our expense list–the Gym. I didn’t go that often, Elliott hated the daycare center, and it was $45 a month. Plus, whatever I did at the gym I could certainly do at home. And, if I wanted to attend a class I could just pony up the $10 and go.

I also changed our netflix subscription from 3 to 1 at a time. Not a huge cost savings, but every bit counts when your working towards being a full time mom.

Loose ends

I have been thinking about my sporadic posting patterns, and feel bad for not tying up some long overdue loose ends. So this post is a random smattering of unfinished business.

1. When Elliott was 5 weeks or so old, I was still experiencing extreme pain while nursing. I went to a LC and she diagnosed me with Raynaud’s phenomenon. I followed up with my Midwife, who gave me meds to try. I took them for 1 day, and stopped due to other symptoms worse than the nipple pain. Over time, the condition and Elliott’s latch improved until the pain no longer occurred. A fluke, the weather, whatever–It is gone for now, and he is still happily nursing several times a day. Our only issue these days is that each time a tooth breaks the surface (he is working on 8), it takes him a week or so to adjust his latch to the new tooth. The result is my nipples get sore for a while, and then once he figures it out–viola-no more pain.

2. We tried CSA from Seabreeze Farms here in San Diego, and weren’t overwhelmed. The cost was high ($67 every two weeks), but we were willing to pay for locally grown, organic produce. But, the consistency and quality wasn’t good either–some fruit was rotten, items were missing or not substituted, and they left the bag smack-dab in the middle of our sun laden (and not terribly secure) porch. So, I cancelled with this farm. I am going to try a few of the other ones as well. I will keep you posted on that.

3. Hubby and I were toying with the possibility of me not working. We were testing out the budget to see if it would accommodate our lifestyle on one income. And while we could manage with one income–it would come at a cost to our happiness as a family. We wouldn’t have any money left over, even with major lifestyle adjustments–and during our trial 2 month run–that left us feeling more stressed than work does. In addition to that, I think that Elliott likes daycare. He comes home happy, he looks happy while he is there, his schedule is the same at home or in daycare, and he gets to socialize with other children his age. Lastly, I don’t know that I have the patience to be home full time. I enjoy working on many levels, and I receive fulfilment from it. Plus, once the kids were in school I would likely want to go back to work, and re-entering the workforce would be difficult at best, after 5 plus years off.

4. The family challenge is going as expected for me. I have lost 5 pounds so far–which is about 3.5% of my body weight. You do the math.

5. I read the book that was suggested in this posts comments–I found it very moving. I also felt empowered by the honesty and courage that the authors exhibited. I have been trying to be more forthcoming and honest with myself as a result. Thanks for the suggestion!

6. Homemade household products have not yet happened. While I want to do this–I haven’t found the motivation yet! I am slowly (again) moving out products that contain known carcinogens, and (again) considering an organic household. With the abandonment of being a SAHM, we can afford this route again. I am constantly torn between saving money by looking for products that offer the same quality as similar, but more expensive options and organic, environmentally sound products that cost more. The saga continues. I have not purchased any new household cleaners, and we are slowly slimming down out pickins. I have been researching uses for Castile Soap–and bought a large bottle of Castile Soap in the hopes of transitioning some products out and it in. If you have any suggestions or unique uses-please let me know!

7. Of the 5 pregnant women I know–2 have had their babies, and 3 are still pregnant. We had the honor of meeting one of the new babies this past weekend. With the exception of being exhausted ALL the time, newborns are awesome and retrospectively — easy! I was WAY too anxious and over protective, and know that with #2 (whenever that happens), I will be very different and more confident.