Monthly Financial Update

Debt Balances as of the End of October 2011:

  1. *Credit Card Transfer: $0
  2. Vegas Rental Property:  $103,177.03
  3. Ohio Rental Property: $167,070.74

Total Debt: $270,247.77

This is a difference of -$569.22 owed since last month.

*The credit card transfer used to be our second mortgage for the Ohio rental. Back when the rental was still our primary residence.

Breakdown of Regular Payments:

  1. Vegas Rental Mortgage: $647.00
  2. Ohio Rental Mortgage: $1653.87

Total Monthly Payments: $2,300.87

($1,731.65 of those payments went toward interest alone.)

Since all of our debt is now for rental properties, our monthly debt payments are now directly tied to whether or not we have tenants in those properties.

Speaking of tenants, we had one move out just last month. From the Vegas house. Just as we reached a snowball milestone. *sigh* You win some, you lose some.

At least we can cash-flow that house. We just don’t like it.

And we’re having all kinds of headaches with the Ohio house and a roof replacement from a storm that hit five months ago. Five months ago.

In so many ways I think, how has it only been five months since we left Ohio? And in others… well. This roofing issue (a bunch of he-said she-said between our tenant and the roofing contractor) is making me feel like we’re trying to crack an egg on the moon with our eyes closed. And if that doesn’t make any sense and leaves you scratching your head then you sort of know how we feel.

Suffice to say, long-distance landlording is not for the faint of heart. (Where have I heard that before?) And this heart has had about all it can take.

We Did Look Into Selling Our Vegas House

I have contacted realtors in the Vegas house the last two times we had tenants move out. When the one realtor called me back this time, he greeted me with, “How pissed are you going to be when I tell you the numbers?”

I like that guy.

The property value of our Vegas house has plummeted even further than the number I sort of had in the back of my head when I contemplated just putting the house on the market instead of in the rental pool even if it meant selling at a loss just to be done with the whole dang thing.

But when I thought “loss,” I was thinking along the lines of $20,000 — not $35,000 and some change.

The problem is not so much that they’re not getting the offers: the problems come with the financing. According to this realtor, houses like ours are getting offers of $80,000 or even higher (the number I had in my mind) but the appraisals are coming in at $65,000 or less. Foreclosures and sales from the courthouse steps still inundate the market. As he put it, “You could buy one of these things with a credit card.” (Think $30,000 homes.)

Oh, and just when you thought the news couldn’t get less cheery, he regaled me with the latest criminal activity to sweep the Vegas Valley. Apparently, setting up shop in abandoned, foreclosed homes wasn’t enough — now people are renting out these empty homes to unsuspecting tenants as well. And you thought the degradation of American society couldn’t go any lower…

I hope you’re all still trekking along with your own debt snowball (or networth build-up!). Don’t forget to link to the post itself and not just your blog. As always, if you’re reading this by email, you’ll need to click through to view the links and to add your own.


Punny Halloween Costumes

Costumes really aren’t our thang, if you know what I mean. We’re like the scrooges of Halloween. But when we got a neighborhood invitation to a family-friendly Halloween party I decided we should at least try to play along and not be fuddy-duddies. But what to do? We don’t exactly store a collection of costumes in a closet from which to select.

Enter the Punny Costume.

I remembered the idea from a friend whose husband once attended a work party dressed as a Royal Flush: he put a crown on his head and carried around a toilet plunger.

Or maybe that’s what he considered but opted for the, er, non-potty focus as the King of Hearts instead. I can’t recall for sure. (Same idea, just plaster paper hearts on your body.)

I googled for a few more ideas:

  • Fashion a hat or a whole costume as a salt shaker and carry a fake (and preferably bloody) knife or something similar: Assault With a Deadly Weapon. (You could pair this as a couple with a Battery.)
  • Take a bunch of smarties and attach them to your bum: Smart-a$$.
  • Wear a slip and hang a placard (or attach a sign) saying, “Freud”: Freudian Slip.
Well I ain’t wearing no slip and this is supposed to be family friendly, so I stormed my brain for more ideas and sent out a facebook call as well with an emphasis on *simple*, and the ideas kept coming.
  • Wear a suit with a sign that says, “Law”: Lawsuit.
  • Write/paint “book” across your face: Facebook.
  • Draw a picture of a quarter and hang it on your back: Quarterback.
  • Wear a toga decorated with croutons and Romaine lettuce: Caesar Salad.
  • Wear a crown and decorate yourself with names of baseball fields: King/Queen of Diamonds. (And you’d be such a card to boot.)
  • Family members dress in different shades of green: Mixed Greens.
  • Decorate yourself with small cereal boxes, shredded and torn up: Serial Killer.
  • Write or tape numbers all over your clothes: Someone You Can Count On.
  • Decorate yourself with pictures of chicks: Chick Magnet.

 What We Wore

If I’d gotten the number idea before the party I probably would have chosen that one for the *obvious* factor along with the ease of implementation. As it was, I went with…

What? You can’t tell? Yea. If I’d spent more than five minutes on it before rushing out the door it might have helped. Let me give you a closer look. With labels.

Still not sure? *sigh*

I was Under the Weather, people! Sheesh. Tough crowd.

Don’t feel bad: when I told one person at the party that I was Under the Weather, she touched my arm with such compassion and told me so sincerely that she was sorry, I was sort of sorry I had to tell her it was a pun.

Actually, a few people at the party did get it, which was impressive considering the poor quality of the weather conditions [da-da dum] and the sheer volume of wild banshees running around our feet. If I were to do this pun again, I would print out better quality pictures of different weather conditions and have them dangle a bit from the hat.

John’s trying to act out his pun… a takeoff from Smart-a$$, but more family- (and sitting-) friendly…

A closer look:

Just as simple as (but definitely an improvement over) the idea he had of putting a plastic blob of fake poop on his head…

(I’ll let you figure that one out.)

(Luckily, we didn’t have any.)

(Fake poop, that is.)

We even got Conner to play along!

Just don’t expect him to smile about it. It was quite a serious matter, the Exodus and all those Egyptian soldiers dying and all. You know.

Olivia elected not to be a pun (though it was a fun educational moment explaining what one is) even though her ready-made costume as a witch is totally screaming to be one…

Hang a few bags of sand on her and you’ve got yourself a Sandwich.

Peter’s little 6yo mind can’t yet grasp the subtleties of punnery (although he did like the idea of going as a Holy Ghost) (wearing a sheet with a bunch of holes cut out) and was quite content to go with Batman for, yes, the third year in a row. (And judging by the pant creep, the last.)

And Batman is quite simply… Batman. At least, I’m all punned-out. I got nothing.

How about you? Any more punny ideas for costumes out there? Do share! (Warning: it’s addicting.)

(Oh, and the cost of not being fuddy-duddies? $0.00. If you consider — as I do — that the smarties contribute to the trick-or-treating stash needed for the herd of military brats we fully expect to ring our doorbell come tomorrow evening.)

Why We’re Homeschooling: Some Thoughts as a New Homeschooling Mom

I’ve decided to start my own little mini-series on “Why We’re Homeschooling” based on personal experiences and motivations that led my family to our decision to pull our children from traditional public schools. Considering the dearth of posts around here these last months, I have no idea how often I’ll be posting on this topic. But the job I took on when I started homeschooling my children is a big reason my priorities have shifted away from this blog, which I miss terribly. So pardon me while I use you to air my thoughts and beliefs on what led me to this decision while also attempting to keep myself motivated to stay the course through our trials and errors. 
I also whole-heartedly believe that homeschooling in this country is a huge financial consideration — for the family itself, yes, but also for society at large. We all pay taxes that fund our public schools whether or not we have children in those schools, or children at all. The quality of education that our children receive, for better or worse, directly influences the future of our country and the opportunities that will be available to future generations. It would behoove every citizen of this country to pay attention to the (two million and counting) homeshoolers of today and the myriad of reasons and ways they do so.

Some Thoughts as a New Homeschooling Mom

I have learned that when people ask me in casual conversation, “Why did you decide to homeschool?” that I need to be very diplomatic with how I frame my answer.

Our neighborhood here in California is rather unique, even for military family communities, because it is so incredibly transient. Most — and yes, I mean most — military families are in Monterey for an 18-month assignment. The ebb and flow of families moving in and out of this (mostly) military neighborhood ties in with the schedules of the two main schools the military spouses are attending. When we moved in this summer, no fewer than two other families within spitting distance moved in at the same time, and a handful more within shouting. Moving vans are a regular sighting around here.

So. Meeting new moms and finding myself in casual conversations with people I have just met is almost a daily occurrence unless I were to lock myself in a closet and refuse to come out. (Which has been tempting on more than one occasion believe me you.)

“What made you decide to homeschool?” is such a loaded question that I’ve sometimes turned it around by replying, “Why, have you thought about doing it yourself?” Which invariably leads to the response, “Oh, I could never homeschool,” to which I reply, “I know, two years ago I said the same thing.”

And then they usually don’t know what to say so we stand there in awkward silence for a moment or two until we move on to other topics, or to other people…

But sometimes they do go on to ask, “So what made you change your mind?” And I try to gauge why they’re asking. Very often they go on to answer their own question with a laugh, “Did you find out you were moving to California and figure out how bad the schools were?” Which is, yes, a part of it. But difficult for me to say when your children are going to those same schools unless you point it out first.

If they stand there and continue to look me in the eye and wait expectantly for a thoughtful answer, I’ve taken to bringing it back to me and my family by answering, truthfully, that “The reason was actually quite different for each of my children.”

Some people might say they homeschool strictly for academic reasons. Some for spiritual. Many for a combination of the two, and I would generally fall in that camp. Although I would argue that the two, truly, cannot be separated.

Why do you want your child to receive an excellent academic education? Why do you want your child to be grounded spiritually and to ultimately know and pursue and develop their purpose?

What if you did everything you possibly could to ensure that your child had access to the best academic instruction, the most encouraging learning environment, and all the freedom you could afford for your child to explore their interests and passions… and your son went on to drop out of college and move back home while he “figured out what he wanted to do”? Or your daughter decided to get married and devote her talents to her family and raising her children despite those excellent SAT scores and that college degree that cost so much money? Would you rest assured that they were seeking God’s purpose for their lives? Or that they were frittering away their potential or taking the easy way out?

I’ve often heard the comment (as recently as yesterday, in fact), “Oh, you’re so brave for homeschooling.” But I’m not. I’m tired and I’m working hard to figure out how to do this and will never stop trying to do this as best I can so long as we’re doing it at all. How is that different from parents whose kids attend public school? None of the homeschooling parents I have met proclaim to have all the answers. Or if they do then another child of theirs comes along and changes all the questions. I would say, though, that mainly? All of us are willing to look for answers in places that can’t always be found in traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

Homeschooling doesn’t guarantee your child will have the best education no more than going to church guarantees your child will develop a personal relationship with their Lord and Savior and grow into a kind and loving adult. Public (or any other) school doesn’t grant you a waiver from working hard to ensure your child receives a good education so you can focus solely on their spiritual guidance. (Likewise, enrolling your child in a private Christian school doesn’t mean you can wash your hands of both, though sadly, I know families who seem to think so.)

My kids are 16, 8 and 6, and they all attended public school (in various states and even countries) until last year. And I can personally attest that there’s a reason that the best public schools are the ones with the most parental involvement. Sending your kids off to school is not exactly a walk in the park — unless you’re “brave” and can rest assured that the professionals have it all covered. Even then, your child will come home with homework that you may or may not understand; a thousand permission slips to sign or otherwise make decisions about; and requests from the school for your much-needed time and money and talent. And once your child reaches middle school and above you both are adjusting to working with several different teachers and teaching methods, homework guidelines, projects, and grading systems… and those are just some of the many academic considerations.

I find it very difficult to pigeon-hole an answer to why I decided to start homeschooling my three children — yes, “Even the high schooler??” But in future posts I will attempt to articulate reasons for that choice. And because I wasn’t kidding earlier that some of the exact reasons differ for each child, I’ll probably talk about one child at a time. So for those of you with the burning question, “Why did you decide to start homeschooling your high schooler??” when high school is often the time long-term homeschoolers stop homeschooling, rest assured, I’ll attempt to answer that question. It may surprise some of you.

I started homeschooling my three children in the Fall of 2011 when they were entering the 10th, third, and first grades. We had just moved the summer before to northern California from Ohio, where we lived for four years and our children attended the public schools where they experienced many fine teachers and excellent professionals in the public education system. 
For what it’s worth, I was educated in the public school system in Kansas all through high school and received an undergraduate degree from a private four-year college in Iowa. 

Monthly Financial Update! (better late than never)

Debt Balances as of the End of September 2011:

  1. *Credit Card Transfer: $93.40
  2. Vegas Rental Property:  $103,446.49
  3. Ohio Rental Property: $167,277.10

Total Debt: $270,816.99

This is a difference of -$10,380.62 owed since last month.

*The credit card transfer used to be our second mortgage for the Ohio rental. Back when the rental was still our primary residence.

Breakdown of Regular Payments:

  1. Credit Card Transfer: $0 due –> $9.999.99 paid
  2. Vegas Rental Mortgage: $647.00
  3. Ohio Rental Mortgage: $1641.58

Total Monthly Payments: $12,288.57

You May Have Noticed Something…

We are SO CLOSE to paying off the credit card slash second mortgage! In fact, if I’d had my act together, we would have paid if off completely and once and for all. However. I totally dropped the ball on the end of the original (12-month) balance transfer offer of 0% which expired in the middle of September and not at the end as I was kind of sort of thinking without actually digging up the original offer (because it couldn’t just be spelled out on the account details online) and confirming … and you guessed it.

Interest kicked in.

That would be the $93.40 up there. Uh-huh.

And not just any interest; they coded the transfer as a “cash advance” and not as a regular purchase. Zouchers.

So I called in to ask for a “courtesy reversal of interest fees” and neglected to remember that it’s just my husband’s name on this account and not mine (because I know how to sign into his stuff better than he does, I always belatedly remember these things actually matter to official financial types) so the guy wouldn’t/couldn’t help me even though I sweet-talked him with my nicest sugary voice and seriously I’m good at that, people and it almost worked so well that I felt bad for the guy when he came back on after “talking to his superiors” who reminded him how taboo it was to be speaking to someone about an account whose name was not on it and I assured the guy that if anyone ever asked me I would tell them he never mentioned a number or any other gosh-darned detail about the account that I hadn’t told him first. Poor thing, he was so nervous.

Then it took another two-three days before John could call in and I could sit there and wait to take the phone after he gave permission so that I could go over my pathetic I Dropped the Ball Story once again (because it usually works better if you acknowledge upfront that you screwed up and you’re asking them for a favor) (I hate that I know this) and I got half the charges waived. I really think I could have asked for a manager and raised a big stink and pretended to cry and maybe gotten the whole lot of it credited back, but a big part of me felt like this really was my fault and hadn’t I spent enough time and energy on it already.

This is why debt sucks, people: it saps away your very life force.

We were able to pay off our credit card/second mortgage debt because I slashed our emergency savings down to nothing ala Dave Ramsey style. The only reason we’d had that amount in savings to begin with — and hadn’t paid off this debt months ago — was because we moved this summer with all the expenses involved and I was waiting for the financial dust to settle. I just waited a few days too long, that’s all.

And now this Financial / Debt Update is way later than usual and I do hope you all have managed better than I in posting yours. If you posted an update on your blog, please add your link below! I do love to check in on you all, and I hope you all do the same with each other. Don’t forget that if you’re reading this via email to click on through to the site itself to view the links.

(And please remember to copy the url link to the actual post of your financial update — not just to the blog/website in general. Otherwise your link will be deleted!)


The Cost of a Teen Turning Sweet Sixteen. (and a muse on the driving age in the U.S.)

This is my son preening after one of many victory rides.

Goal Accomplished!

He’s become rather obsessed with cycling since we moved to Monterey, and he cajoles his dad into long rides (think 20-30+ miles) up and down the coast as often as possible — at least once a week, though he’d go out more if he had his druthers (and not these pesky academics to attend to) (or a dad with a meddling J.O.B. which is the reason we’re living in this amazing place to begin with). (You like all my dangling prepositions?)

Now, it’s not like Conner’s never ridden his bike before we lived here. But in Ohio it was used as a form of transportation to and from his friend’s house less than a mile away, and like many, many places in the U.S.A., biking around Centerville just wasn’t something people did very often for recreation or just to get from Point A to Point B. Not very many pedestrian-friendly zones. Oh, and the weather pretty much stinks for several months a year.

Not so in Monterey!

Biking Weather All Year-Round!

Conner recently turned 16, and it’s funny: everyone kept making comments about how “now there’s going to be another driver on the road!” and asking if he’s gotten his Learner’s Permit yet.

Conner driving has been nary a topic of conversation around here: all he wants to do is ride his bike.

I do believe he needs to earn his driver’s license soon and get plenty of hours behind the wheel with a parent beside him. Lordy knows I don’t want him leaving this home someday and try to learn the life skill of driving on his own.

But it could be argued that there’s no reason to hurry, and so we’re not. He’s quite busy with academics right now as it is. And long bike rides. So we’ll see… I know he’s reached the minimum age in California for a permit, but other than that I still need to research what’s required before we can let him behind the wheel and practice the basic mechanics in remote stretches of nearby Ft. Ord. Lord knows I don’t want him flat out on these roads by our home fresh out of the barrel.

How old were you when you started to drive?

I was 14. Yes, you read that right: FOURTEEN. I grew up in Kansas, people, rural roads and wheat fields and all that. Except I lived in town. A small one compared to most, but a real, bona fide town with roads and stoplights and everything.

This Fiesta actually looks nicer than the version I remember driving.

I also learned to drive using a stick-shift, because it was what we had. It was a hunk of junk and to this date I have never driven anything else so difficult and persnickety. My friends and I used to joke and call it the Flintstone Mobile because it had “built-in ventilation” (aka cracks in the exterior) and sometimes practically required me to get out and push. It liked to stall at every stop (I learned to alternately pump the gas and clutch and brake just so) and leaked transmission fluid like a sieve and the tires constantly needed air and all it had was a.m. radio which we blared, loudly. And just forget about AC (which would have just leaked out the cracks anyway). Everything since has been a dream to drive in comparison.

It seemed like I had to drive because my parents both worked and it was the only way I could get to school and my activities I wanted to do and my various jobs that I worked. People just didn’t ride their bikes for these things. Or walk. It would be very strange to see people just walking around in my hometown unless it’s for exercise. If they actually want to go somewhere they get in their car.

All that to say I think there’s an argument that the need for Conner to drive when he’s sixteen is a cultural one and not a real need at all. Many countries (such as in Europe) grant drivers’ licences much later with much, much more cost and difficulty attached to the process. (Think a thousand-plus dollars and several months-worth of testing.)

That being said, this is the culture we live in, and despite Monterey being rather dense and pedestrian-friendly compared to most places in the U.S., we aren’t going to live here forever. It would be prudent for Conner to earn his license sooner rather than later.

Just not today. Because for his birthday, we got him this:

And because his dad argued that he would no longer be able to keep up with his son if he didn’t upgrade as well, we got two.

Two Motobecane Grand Record Road Bikes: $1,199.98.

These aren’t exactly Lance Armstrong-worthy, but they’re serious enough for now.

And yes, we paid cash. Specifically, we used the credit card, then immediately turned around and paid it off.

And yes and yes, Conner was very pleased – and surprised. “I didn’t think I’d be getting anything like this for a while.”

Oh, and don’t forget these:

Conner is always asking for more food. And while this junk doesn’t exactly qualify, his siblings have learned the way to their brother’s teenage heart is through his stomach. You might say it was a Sweet Sixteen in every sense of the word.

Monthly Financial Update! And some musings, too.

I harbor no illusions that you all are waiting on pins and needles for my next post. Or that you even notice if I’m posting or not. But I miss you guys, I really do. I miss this blog. When I do get on I don’t even recognize the updates and I have to fumble my way around and the whole place feels like someone came in my house when I wasn’t home and rearranged my furniture. sniff. 

If thoughts could be posts your inbox would be inundated by now. Or your facebook feed. Or twitter. Or your google reader. (Does anyone still use that?) Or whatever method you use to follow your bloggies.

Alas, I actually have to get on here and type, and think coherently, and write accordingly, with no interruption, for at least five minutes. In a row. 

So many things pulling me in so many directions right now. And it seems that blogging, for me at least, is like not replying to an email from a friend right away. And then so much time goes by you feel like you should write a really good email. Which takes more time so it takes even longer for you to sit down and do it. Then when you finally do, with good intentions, you write a bit, then you get interrupted and it gets sent to your drafts. Where it languishes. And then…

You get the idea.

But enough already.


Debt Balances as of the End of July 2011:

  1. *Credit Card Transfer: $9,999.99
  2. Vegas Rental Property:  $103,715.28
  3. Ohio Rental Property: $167,482.34

Total Debt: $281,197.61

This is a difference of $7,638.50 owed since last month.

*The credit card transfer used to be our second mortgage for the Ohio rental. Back when the rental was still our primary residence.

Breakdown of Regular Payments:

  1. Credit Card Transfer: $0 due –> $7,166.24 paid
  2. Vegas Rental Mortgage: $647.00
  3. Ohio Rental Mortgage: $1641.58

Total Monthly Payments: $9,454.82

So many things in my life are in disarray right now, and finances aren’t excluded. Waaaaay back when we found out when we were moving, I stopped our debt snowball and focused on bulking up savings, to the tune of some $20,000. gulp.

That sounds like a lot to just have lying around, at least to me. And I’m okay now telling you how much we had because we no longer have it so all you creepies out there won’t go stalking my children with plans of kidnapping and demanding exactly $20,000 for their safe return because you know I have it.

There, now you know where I draw the line on blabbing about my finances on the internet. I’ll talk debt all day long. But don’t ask me how much cash I have. I’ll assume you’re plotting to kidnap my children.

So $20,000 sounds like a lot of liquid cash to have. Yea for us! That is… until you remember that we still owed about that amount on our final non-mortgage debt.

(A debt that used to be the 2nd mortgage on our home in Ohio. A home that is now yet another rental property.) (So our mortgage debt is actually all on rental properties now. Properties that used to be our homes.) (Does that still make it mortgage debt?) (Follow?)

It was really, really hard to let that $20,000 go. I wanted to keep it, man. But it wasn’t really ours. Not so long as we’re in debt.

But I couldn’t let the whole thing go and pay the whole thing off yet because we’re still waiting for the dust to settle on the work for replacing our roof on our Ohio rental. That’s another post, but suffice to say for now that Hail Hath No Fury like a random tornado touching down in Centerville, Ohio.

(I can tell you the name of the Dayton suburb we were living in now that we’re no longer living there, heh-heh.)

So I picked a random amount to pay off a big chunk of it while keeping aside enough to weather the storm, so to speak, while the insurance claim gets all sorted out. Oy, vey. Can you say Property Insurance Claim? Ever done one? Not fun. Especially when you’re in the middle of a move.

Links to More Bloggie Financial Updates! 

Don’t forget if you’re reading this on email you’ll need to click over to the actual site to view the links. Please go and comment and encourage each other on these financial journeys we’re on!

And for your updates — don’t forget to link to the update post itself, not just to your blog. Otherwise your link will be deleted!

Happy Number Crunching!

Ye gods, I must be crazy.

Not just one rabbit, but two.

Oh, and two guinea pigs as well.

The cost of acquiring them was FREE: animals; cages; accessories; food pellets to start; everything. Another military family moving on. The animals needed a home, and we have a little girl who’s been wanting a pet rabbit for a very, very long time… He just came with a few friends, that’s all.

Never mind the jokes,

“Hey, rabbit stew!”

“This might be the solution to the rising cost of groceries.”

“At least now we won’t have to wait for the meat to thaw.”

Hardy-har-har. But at least one thing around here is thinking they look like a ready-made snack…

Aw, poor Huckster. In your dreams, you little tiger.

Time will tell how much the general upkeep will cost us. The previous owners gave me some great tips such as where to acquire free hay as opposed to buying it in bundles from a pet store. I’m wishing we had kept more packing paper than we did from the move, for lining their cages. (Who actually gets a newspaper anymore?)

More than financial cost will be the time cost of daily and weekly upkeep. Ye gods, what was I thinking? But yes, “Pet Care” will be a part of our homeschooling “curriculum.” And one little girl, at least, is very excited about that.

Wild Banshees and Mama Bears.

We’ve been in this house now for three weeks and one day. It’s beginning to feel like home. But lawdy, it’s a mess. We have too much stuff. But that’s another post.

We’re gradually developing a new kind of normal in a neighborhood ripe with wild banshees. Close your eyes and stab your finger outside in any direction and when you open them you’ll find yourself pointing at any number of one or two half-a-dozen children, all ten and under, mostly boys, all within shouting distance. Sometimes even within whispering, if you don’t watch your step.

Living near so many other children is a mixed bag, for sure. I’m gradually getting a feel for some of them, and they’re gradually getting a feel for each other. At least three other families within rock-throwing distance moved in just weeks before us. You might say this is a transitional neighborhood.

I knew we were taking a chance by living in military housing, in such close quarters to multiple families all in the same stage of life of moving around and raising children and coming from goodness knows where. Having lots of kids nearby for your kids to play with can be good, and it can be bad.

For the most part, things are working out. Although just today Peter stomped into the house and yelled, “I have had it with that kid!” Keeping in mind he’s talking about a 5yo next door that he’s known for all of three weeks.

Aside from being so, so very tired that he ended up falling asleep in his room where he was sent after stomping around and kicking his shoe across the room (narrowly missing a drink sitting next to this laptop) we’ve had some other adjustments to living in the Land of Children Plenty, prompting me to quickly write out some rules for Peter and tape them to the front door. (And no, we still don’t have our printer hooked up.) (Although at this rate, I may just tattoo them to his eyeballs.)



1) Do not leave the yard without asking.

2) Do not leave the house without asking.

3) Do not cross the street without asking.

4) Look both ways before crossing the street.

And yes, I realize that he would need to ask to leave the house before asking to leave the yard. This was done impromptu-like, people. Plus, I wrote them in the order as Peter remembered them, so often had I been telling him these things, repeatedly, to no avail. “I just keep forgetting!”

One more very important rule that still needs to be added:

“Never, EVER, go into someone else’s home without asking your mom first.”

This one is for Peter and Olivia, much to my surprise: very out of character for her. But why the emphasis on “your”?

“But his mom said it was okay!”

After I explained that their mom is not in charge of my children and nor do I read minds or have x-ray vision that allows me to see through walls, I attempted to explain to my children why moms worry when they look outside and their children are no longer there. It’s difficult, that one, when you’re still a bit freaked out and wanting to drive the point home without scaring your children. As it was, I almost had Olivia in tears. I think my uber gentleness upset her more than if I’d used my normal mommy voice.

So many instant playmates is great, it really is. Except when it isn’t. We didn’t come from a neighborhood with so many children they seem to leak from the walls, so it’s been a bit of a shock as well. I admit it will be a bit of a relief when the local school starts and we develop our own routine of homeschooling. And I have to chuckle when I think about concerns that people have for homeschoolers and their “socialization.” I, for one, wouldn’t mind a little less of it for a bit.

Monthly Financial Update! (And yes, I’m still here!)

We’ve moved! And are still settling in. And while I haven’t exactly been jumping on the blogging bandwagon, I do have a couple posts in draft and have even tried to publish one, but wordpress was giving me all kinds of grief so I gave up. I’ve got enough going on trying to settle into a new home without dealing with techie-blog drama.

And see? It’s worked itself out now, without any help from me. All I had to do was walk away and give it some time. If only my house would sort itself out that way…

I won’t go and make all kinds of promises of future blog posts: I’ll just surprise you. However, the numbers keep crunching, whether we like it or not.

Without further ado:

Debt Balances as of the End of July 2011:

  1. *Credit Card Transfer: $17,166.23
  2. Vegas Rental Property:  $103,983.40
  3. Ohio Rental Property: $167,686.48

Total Debt: $288,836.11

*The credit card transfer used to be our second mortgage for the Ohio rental.

Breakdown of Regular Payments:

  1. Credit Card Transfer: $0 due –> $1,850.09 paid
  2. Vegas Rental Mortgage: $647.00
  3. Ohio Rental Mortgage: $1641.58

Total Monthly Payments: $4,138.67

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t been keeping up with tracking our finances. I’m two months behind. Two. Months. 

I will catch up. I. will.

I will catch up I will catch up I will catch up…

Now come on over and link up your financial updates! Or just tell us your numbers in a comment. If I can take the time to crunch ours with a gazillion settling-in projects pulling me in twice as many directions after moving across this great country of ours, you can crunch yours, too!

Don’t forget if you’re reading this on email you’ll need to click over to the actual site to view the links. Please go and comment and encourage each other on these financial journeys we’re on!

Happy Number Crunching!


Monthly Financial Update! And yet again we become reluctant landlords.

Living in limbo does not good accounting keep. Or something. I’ve gotten so confused with my numbers of what the balances were when. The main thing is we did pay down some debt beyond the minimum payments. And that’s a good thing.

Debt Balances as of the End of May 2011:

  1. Credit Card Transfer: $19,016.32
  2. Vegas Rental Property:  $104,250.85
  3. Ohio Rental Property: $167,889.52

Total Debt: $291,156.69

This is a difference of –$4,737.72 in principle from the $295,894.41 owed in primary and rental mortgage debt* at the end of May.

*The credit card transfer used to be our second mortgage for the Ohio rental.

Breakdown of Regular Payments:

  1. First Mortgage: $1641.58
  2. Credit Card Transfer #1: $0 due –> $2,934.18 paid
  3. Rental Property: $647.00

Total Monthly Payments: $5,222.76

We’ve had a wonderful visit with family in Kansas and are (getting) ready to pack up (again) and head out tomorrow. California or bust!

And John got to fly out and join us here for a few days! And will be driving with us the rest of the way!

You have no idea how huge this is. Or maybe you do, I don’t know. I’m just glad he’s here.

In the meantime, traveling does not (for me) good blogging well bode. Or something. I am so far behind on things we’ve been spending money on; things we haven’t; ways we’ve saved; ways we haven’t.

As exampled:

  1. We’re getting a new roof on our house in Ohio. Can you say hail?
  2. We are reluctant landlords once again! You may have noticed the change up above…
  3. We’re living in base housing in California, for (almost) the first time ever. (Unless you count three months in stairwell housing when we were still newleyweds.) (You Army peeps know what I’m talking about.)
  4. Did you know that the cost of living in Northern California is quite expensive?
  5. We’re quite certain we went over our household goods [HHG] weight allowance for this move [PCS]. FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.
  6. I’m sensing some purging in my future.
  7. AND I’m getting ready to start homeschooling my children. YES, ALL THREE. (Even the high schooler) (Go ahead and shake your head)
  8. And much, much more.

Hope you all are enjoying a wonderful Independence Day! Now go and link up! (And those of you who normally link up but didn’t last month? I’ve got my eye on you…)

Don’t forget if you’re reading this on email you’ll need to click over to the actual site to view the links. Please go and comment and encourage each other on these financial journeys we’re on!

Happy Number Crunching!