Somehow, my finances have spiraled out of control.

Back in 2009, I was a budget champ.  Actually, it was more-so that I was cheap as all hell.  Same thing in my book.

I was working a full time job and waitress-ing one night a week (for my spending cash).  When I found out I was pregnant, I started waitress-ing three nights a week.  I knew I needed to save as much as possible.

I was able to pay off all my debts and put a large amount into savings.  I worked both jobs until I was 36 weeks pregnant, and then left the restaurant.  At 38 weeks, I was laid off from my full time job.  I was lucky that my severance pay and maternity leave (yes, I was still paid maternity leave since I had HJ during the severance payout…oh thank God!) gave me 12 weeks of paid time off while I job hunted.

You know what’s easy?  Job hunting while 9 months pregnant.  And phone interviews with a newborn.

During my pregnancy and maternity leave, I never spent an extra cent.  I was so nervous about where the next pay check was coming from, I was afraid to do anything with money.

Somehow, in the past 2 years, that sense of cheap-ness has worn off.  I realized I spend money like I am making 5 times my salary.

My new years resolution was to start a budget.  I decided the first month, I would track all my spending to see where I was f-ing up at.  I downloaded a (free) budget app that allowed me to enter stuff in and categorize it.

The app worked great until my checking account dwindled and I decided I didn’t want to see the numbers turn red (showing a negative balance), so I stopped inputting my purchases.  Because if I can’t see it, it didn’t happen, right?  Not so much.

The next step I figured was to get my tax money back and pay off all my debts.  You know the ones I worked so hard to pay off when I was prego?  Whoops.  Actually, it wasn’t awful…I had a card that I had purchased my appliances for the new house on, and then my new couches…BUT THEY WERE INTEREST FREE…so that makes it almost free, right?

By the time I had paid that debt off, I was 3 months into the year, and still no budget in place.  Then, I had a few unexpected purchases come up and suddenly, I have 2 credit cards with fairly large balances.  I don’t even have an answer for how it happened.  But the balances total close to $2,400.  ermygawd.  I have no explanation for that.

The thing is…I don’t feel like I splurge.  I couldn’t tell you the last time I spent a lot of money for myself.  I think my problem is I live like everyone I am with.  My friends want to go out to dinner?  Heck yes we will go!  Kids signing up for some class?  Heck yes we should do it!  That, and I have GREAT taste…you know champagne taste on a beer budget.  Yeah, I can try and tell myself the Michael Kors handbag is an investment…

Which, seriously , it is my favorite handbag ever!

Now that I have rambled off over 500 words on my ridiculous habits, I can hear you asking what the frick my point is.  I have one.

July 1, the new SingleMama and HJ household is taking over.  Since my first 3 attempts at following a budget did not work, I figured I would let you all know.  Make myself accountable.

You know  in the book Confessions of a Shopaholic, how the main character goes and buys things for her new “cheap” lifestyle?  That is how I normally work.  Seriously, 2 months ago, I fixed up my bike to reduce my costs of having a gym membership…I spent $75 on my bike $100 on a trailer for HJ…and I never even had a gym membership…oy vey!

I went through my payslip (after 2 years of working here, I figured it was time to check it out), and looked at all my “set” expenses…including credit card bills, phone, insurance, etc. and figured out how much I have per week to spend.  That weekly amount includes groceries and gas.  I figured to make this work, the first few weeks I am going to the ATM and taking that amount out.  Then heading to the grocery store.  After the shopping trip, I should have a good idea on how much I have for the rest of the week.  If any is left over after the week, that can go into a “rainy day fund”.  I can use that however…a fun purchase of sorts.

I will keep you all updated on my progress.  At the bottom of my posts I will let you know how much “under” or “over” I am on the current week.  This way if I am failing miserably, hopefully someone can give me motivation.  or a winning lotto ticket.

**This post is not sponsored, I just REALLY liked working with the company!**

For a while now, I have envisioned certain art work in my hallway at home.  I wanted a canvas with HJ’s 1 year and 2 year pictures.  But not just pictures, I also wanted it to capture his personality.

With the help of a co-worker, I created these:

Then, I scoured the web searching for an inexpensive canvas.  I quickly learned that *inexpensive* and *canvas* do not go together.

UNTIL I received my daily email from Groupon.  One day, they were offering discounted photo canvases.  I jumped on that.  I purchased a 16×20 canvas for $45, marked down from $112.  And then I bought another.

I submitted the photos and anxiously awaited the arrival.

While pulling into the house after a crazy day at work, I saw the large box on my doorstep.  EEKS!  I quickly turned on Curious George to help distract my little monkey and tore into the box.

And then, I started whining.  One of the words was wrapped around the edges.  I cursed to myself that I knew it was too good of a deal to turn out how I pictured.  Then, I took my rage to the phone and called Canvas On Demand.

Instead of being put on hold and waiting for WAY to long, they asked for me to input my number and said someone would call back shortly.  I LOVE not being put on hold.  My anger started to diminish.

Within 5 minutes, someone called me back.  I told her what happened.  She said, “Oh, we should have caught that before!  Just change the placement of the word and we will send you a new one.”

Just like that.

I asked how I should send back the original canvas.  She told me just to keep it.  She also pointed out that my other order appeared to be the same, so they would send out a new one of the Age 2 picture as well.

Wow.

I even told her the first canvases were not awful…just part of one word was cut off.  It still looked ok.  She said to pass it on to the grandparents.

I submitted the new pictures, and she personally emailed me back to say they looked great.

Seriously, I love great customer service.

Here is how they look in the newly painted hallway:

Look at that CUTEY PATOOTIE!

Continuing on my hallway kick, I changed this:

To this:

I love that it looks brighter!  All it took was a little can of white spray paint.  Although, I also managed to spray paint my hand…including a ring…whoops.

The newly painted frames wall should get additions.  I really want to add more “stuff” to that wall.  It looks a little bare.  The next thing I want up there involves cross stitching, so if you know anyone who can cross stitch, let me know (wow, 25 year old Kristin never envisioned 30 year old Kristin saying such words).

My master plan involves adding a new “HJ Canvas” every year.  I definitely plan on using Canvas On Demand after the great customer service I experienced.  Let’s just hope Groupon offers the deal again!

You have heard my rants about child support.  I have never received the full amount.  Not once.  Typically, I receive enough so that the child support office does not get the deadbeat in trouble with the law (about $50-100 a month).  Since his employer starting withholding income (OMG, I had to laugh typing that), I have received even less.

Along came April…I received nothing.  I waited until May 5th to call in and point out the fact that I had not received a dime.  Naturally, they were shocked and surprised.  I guess they don’t actually watch the cases to see whats going on.  Goes to show that parents need to be proactive about this stuff.

His “work” (laughing again…) said that he had chosen not to work the previous month due to vacation, so that is why there was no check sent.

Finally, a month where deadbeat did not comply with the rules set before him.  He went 2 years doing the bare minimum to not get in trouble.  And it finally got him.  Right?

Well, I think so at least.

After a few phone calls, it appears the Child Support Office sent a certified letter stating if he did not pay at least $100 within 30 days,  his license would be suspended.

He did not comply.

I don’t know if he thinks he is smarter than the system or just that dumb.  The letter he received stated that he would lose his Iowa Driver’s License.  I confirmed that even though he doesn’t live in Iowa, any driver’s license would be suspended.  As would any other licenses he may have (he has other licenses’ due to work).

I was then informed that the case is being turned over to an Interstate Case since he is so delinquent.  My case worker told me this would help them move quicker in doing things like having him held in contempt of court.

Unlike the time I found out his income would be withheld, I am not hopeful that this means I will receive any money.  I am just hopeful he might finally be held accountable. But really, I have learned that hoping for anything in this situation is just another way to be disappointed.

Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking about my career.  Most of these thoughts involve me going back to college.  Being a single mom, going back to complete my Master’s has me looking at scholarships and grant programs.

I have heard that many grant and scholarships experience a low application pool (fear of rejection??) so the hardest part is filling out the application.  Then, it is like free money, right?

What are your experiences in going back to school with kids in tow?  Any experiences with scholarships?

This past weekend, HJ and I went to visit my sister’s family to help celebrate my nephew’s 5th birthday.  My nephew, E, had a pool party bash on Friday afternoon (my camera broke on Friday, so no pictures…but my genius bro-in-law fixed it later that night!).  HJ and E were running around having a blast at the party.  HJ had his favorite things, cake, E, Aunt J, mom, and pizza.  To him, life gets no better.

Saturday morning, we woke up and decide to hit the zoo early, before the 90 degrees and humidity set in.

And there’s your glasses shot…

We got to do all sorts of fun things like ride ponies

 

And feed birds

We also saw lions that were sleeping

And, HJ’s favorite part, ride a choo-choo

That night, we went out to eat at a place called Sneaky Pete’s in Le Clair.  It overlooks the Mississippi, so we saw lots of boats (and even another choo-choo).

The restaurant lets you go up to a salad bar before dinner is served.  Aunt J, HJ and myself walked up to grab our plates.  HJ was tugging on me and hugging my legs while I was balancing two plates of lettuce and veggies.  Suddenly, I felt a breeze on my lower back.  I was wearing the sundress pictured above, so there should be no breezes on my back.  This is when i realize HJ is holding my dress up to about my waist level.

I can’t get him to let go.  My underwear is being exposed to the entire restaurant.

He is laughing.

I fall to the ground while laughing and freaking out, you know, not drawing attention to myself at all.

My sister is laughing so hard she is crying.

I look around and a table right behind the salad bar is cracking up.

HJ thinks it is hilarious and continues to try to pull my dress up.

I finally get HJ to stop and look around to see who is staring at me.  The one table is still cracking up.  They say something about having 2 grand-kids and knowing how they are.
It doesn’t make it any less embarrassing.

Luckily, I don’t think too many tables noticed, but STILL!

 

I have never had glasses.  Never need contacts.  I clearly remember taking the eye test in grade school and always having ridiculously good vision…like 16/20.  I could read signs WAY before anyone else…which is clearly an important skill.

Then I turned 30.

After realizing that the computer screen is always blurry and getting tension headache after tension headache at work, I threw up the white flag.  I surrendered to the eye doctor.

My thoughts on the eye doctor?  Remember this scene from friends?

Yup, that’s how I feel.

But I went.  And sure enough, I no longer had perfect vision.  Also, he dilated my eyes, which led to me looking like I was stoned while standing in line at panchero’s next to a cop, and then at a few business meetings.  I don’t think I closed the deal at the meetings, and the cop was pondering arresting me.

So now I have glasses.

I remember in 7th grade when my BFF had to get glasses.  She was so concerned she was going to turn into instant geek.  That people would call her 4-eyes.  And everyone would de-friend her (for the record, still a BFF, so I didn’t de-friend her).  And she survived. And she even got braces the same year, at least I don’t have to get those again.   And that was Junior High…so I can get through this right?

My parents told me they make me look smart.  Apparently I look dumb without them.  HJ thinks they should not be on.  And calls them “TO BIG!”.

Maybe at some point I will upload a picture.  But for now, I fear junior high kids calling me 4-eyes and chasing me.  Let me come to terms with it first.

 

My bathroom is not very large.  The towels and washcloths are all stored in the linen closet out in the hall.  This has proven to be problematic more than once.  While getting out of the shower, I realize I forgot to grab a towel.  Then, I have to run through the house naked, while splashing water everywhere.

Last week when this happened, I had a different approach.  I yelled for HJ, and naturally he ignored me.  Then I said, “HJ can you help mommy?” 

The kid loves helping.  In no time he had sprinted through the house while yelling “suuuuure mommy!”

He came to the bathroom and stared at me.  “HJ, can you get mommy a towel?”   He said “uh-huh” and handed me a kleenex.  Well crap, that didn’t go as planned.

“Hey HJ, can you go the linen closet and get me a towel?”

He responded with a blank stare.

“You know that door next to your bedroom?  It is closed.  Can you go open it and grab a towel?”

He sprinted off to the hall.  I heard the door open.  I figured he would come in holding a washcloth or a hot wheel (yes, hot wheels are in the linen closet.  They have taken over the whole house.).  But he surprised me when he ran back in holding a towel and smiling with excitement.  We both started cheering and jumping up and down.

“YEAH!  You did it!  You can follow directions!  Mommy is so proud!  Oh such a big boy!”

He was shouting along, “Me did it!  Me did it!”

He is growing up too fast.

I am a bad blogger.

You see, it started with a one week break.

Then, it became so nice outside.

HJ and have been enjoying nice weather, lovely neighbors and amazing family.

Also, work became busy.  Hectic almost.  Lots of traveling and getting home late.  That leads to a tired mama.

So, I am sorry.

But really, no one questioned my whereabouts…so I am not even sure you all noticed I was gone.

Hopefully I can get caught up on some of my blog reads.  I feel as though I lost connections with friends.  You know, friends I have never actually met but know WAY too much about their lives?  Yeah, I miss them.

Hopefully, I am back.