Thursday, March 31, 2016

Something else

Because I don't want to just write about my grandfather and all that depressing business every day, I'm going to write about something else.  Debt, and making it disappear.  I sure know how to pick interesting subjects, no???

Yes, folks, this is your latest installment of Bluemoon's Debt Banishment Plan!

Just sent another chunk of money to one of my two remaining credit cards.  It took the balance below $1K and this is so weirdly thrilling to me.  I am SO CLOSE to being debt free that I can taste it!  By the end of April, doing things conservatively, I would have my debt down to $310.  Seriously. THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS.  My original debt be gone date was May 15th, but honestly?  I think I could probably make it happen by April 30 if I really want to!  I can definitely be a little more thrifty so I have a smidge more money to send the way of a credit card.

April 15th will be exciting for me because I will pay off the worst credit card I had, the one that had a maxed out balance of $7000 a year ago.  Yes, $7K on just one card.  I know, I know.  But I'm not ashamed to admit it anymore since that balance is down to under $600 right now!  It will be GONE April 15 and then I will just have the one card with the lowest interest rate and a totally reasonable balance to pay off on the next check or two.  It feels AHH-MAY-ZING.

Even on my May 15th check I will be able to take a chunk of money and put it into savings because the remaining debt I may have will be so low that I'll still have money left.  I've got such big plans for this momentous day of freedom, be it April 30 or May 15.  I'm going to do a happy dance, then find out how to increase my retirement contributions from their current piddly amount and then increase my life insurance policy.  That's what we call adulting!!  ;-)

These things have been very important to my grandfather recently.  He is trying to make sure that we all have these things in place, and I'm so glad that I'll be able to rectify the places I'm lacking very soon.  I'll get those things in order and then re-evaluate my budget to determine how much I want to go into savings on each paycheck.  I cannot wait to see that account grow!  I didn't have a savings at all until the last year or two.  I have been very lucky to receive very generous bonuses from my employer that have helped to give me a small savings cushion.  It has been nice to have, but it will be even better to have a real, growing savings account instead of one that gets an influx of money each January and then nothing thereafter.  ;-)  I've felt guilty in the last couple of years particularly for not putting money into savings each month, but ultimately I decided that it was more important to pay off the debt than to focus on saving.  I had my small cushion of money saved, but I've been all about sending my extra bucks to those evil creditors who like to charge all that interest!

Beyond this, I will also set a date on my calendar for about 2 months from when my debt is gone to do a real, true credit score check-up.  I know it may not be fully updated at that point,but it should be a good enough indicator.  I am insanely proud of myself for this effort in the last year.  I am still astonished at how far I've come and how quickly.  It was a slow process in many ways, and it's definitely faster to accrue debt than to pay it off, but I've been surprised to find how addictive it can be to pay the debt off.  The more you pay off, the faster it decreases, and it's such a nice thing to witness!

I'm so ready to close that chapter of my life and move forward.  I'm ready to be that adult who puts money into savings each paycheck, uses a credit card and pays it off monthly to maintain a good credit score, contributes smartly to a 401K and has a great credit score and ability to make good financial choices.  I'm THISCLOSE.  :-)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ups and Downs

So my visit home was as good as can be expected.  Things are what they are - my grandfather is in hospice.  He's lost a ton of weight.  He barely eats. He has good days and bad.  He's getting a lot of morphine to help with his breathing, sleeping pills every night, and has had both a hallucination the other week and a paranoid episode Friday night.  His mind is pretty sharp most of the time, but it's hard to understand him at times because his mouth is so dry that it's hard to talk.

I'm really glad I got to see him and spend time with him. I saw both good visits and bad visits during my brief stay.  I got to hear some more of his stories, see him laugh, hear him tell jokes.  Those things are a gift.  The rest is hard.  He's skin and bones basically.  He can't move without assistance.

I get daily updates from my family on how he's doing.  It's hard, too.  Monday, not good.  Tuesday, good.  Today, not great.

It's hard to not be there.  It's hard to be there.  I wake up every day afraid that I'll have a message with bad news.  My mom has already told me that she will wait until morning to call me if anything happens because a middle of the night call wouldn't do me any good.  I couldn't get there any faster.

In the meantime I'm here, doing all the normal things I can.  Monday was awful.  I camped out in my office with the door closed all day.  I was short tempered and sad and cried multiple times behind closed doors.  Yesterday was marginally better.  Today the same, marginally better again.  I'm trying to focus on the things I have going on here while continuing to get the updates from the family.  I'm trying to not play the guessing game of how long he'll be around.

One day we were there he really thought he was going to die that day and kept telling us that.  That day, when pressed by my mom, the hospice nurse speculated he had a few days to a week.  Later that weekend when he was doing better my mom decided that she felt he had longer than that.

My mom tends to spin things more positively when the day is not terrible.  I trust her version of things less than those of my brothers.  Oh yeah, I'm talking to the self-imposed exile brother via LinkedIn, pretty much solely about my grandfather.  The past is the past right now as far as I'm concerned, and I'm just glad he's been visiting my grandfather.

Today both brothers ended up there at the same time.  One brother gave me his take (Grandfather not feeling great.  Hadn't eaten anything again yet that day.  Had medicine for breathing, hard to hear when he talks, but he was clear headed.)  Other brother supposed to also update me, but we'll see. Mom will go tonight and will also update.  So many updates.  So much information that just jerks you in one direction only to jerk you in another a few hours later.  I both want and dread the updates. The bad updates are really upsetting, and the "good" updates feel so fleeting and like they are just the calm before the storm.

This weekend my grandfather told my brother and I that he hoped he went quickly.  He actually said, "I hope I go like this" and snapped his fingers weakly.  I hope he does, too, whenever it happens.  His body is tired, he's ready to go be with my grandma.  He's ready.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Read All About It

Today is my Thursday.  I leave (real) Thursday afternoon for Omaha until Sunday.  I'm going to see my grandfather, and I have to be honest...I'm dreading it.  I spoke with my brother yesterday and things sound pretty grim.  I guess he had some hallucination on Thursday, and beyond that, he's barely eating and is under 100 lbs.  He told my mom the other day that he's ready to go be with my grandma, and he's told others that he's tired and ready to go.  My mom reminded him that I would be there Thursday and my uncle and aunt (his son) would be here April 9.  He said he would rather us not see him this way and instead remember him as a healthier version of himself.  It's ridiculously sad and I have been warned by both my mom and brother of how different he looks even since Christmas.

Work is a drag this week.  I'm not super focused and there's just too much going on.  BF and I had a big, stupid fight on Sunday and it really screwed over my Monday.  We talked some last night (started out unproductive, ended on a slightly better note), but we have some things to work out in the coming days.  I think that situation is just exacerbated by everything going on with my grandfather, and also next week is the anniversary of BF's dad's death.  On top of that, my GYN called today and I had yet another abnormal PAP test.  I have to go in for my one millionth (approximately) colposcopy next Wednesday because of the low grade cells that pop every time almost.  Life is just really hard sometimes.

I'm not getting enough sleep, which isn't helping.  In the middle of the BF drama last night I went and had my first session with my new trainer since my other one left.  Nice guy, but not the same.  I will likely do as planned and finish out my last session Monday and then wrap up the personal training and go forward on my own.  He had me doing push ups (which I LOATHE) and kettle bell swings (which were actually not bad).  I was dying, though.  Inadequate sleep, almost nothing to eat all day, emotionally drained.  Not ideal.

I am really going to try to get to bed earlier tonight.  We'll see if I'm successful.  I just want to go home and hang out with my cats (integration of new boy with the existing two is going very well) and J.  It's hard to have any issues with BF going on right now because I need him right now.  He's available to me, but I'm a little standoffish because of the argument and it's going to take some time for me to feel normal again.  It's hard to focus on dealing with that on top of everything else, and I honestly think the time away in Omaha will be a good thing.  I have no time to get any clarity on anything here, there's just too much swirling in my brain.

The irony of all of this is that stress, lack of sleep, poor diet are all things that can contribute to my abnormal test results, while those same results often trigger more of those reactions.  It's a challenge to remember to take care of myself when I just feel like sleeping.  Woke up with a migraine and am not surprised after all the crying, tiredness and inadequate eating of yesterday.  Sigh.

I need an escape.  I haven't read a book that really intrigued me in months.  I'm half reading two books right now that are both meh to me.  The first is "Fates and Furies", which I really wanted to love.  It's OK, but I don't ever look forward to reading it.  I want to finish it, but I've legitimately been reading it off and on (mostly off) for over a month and I'm not making a ton of progress.  The other is "Yes Please" by Amy Poehler, which is a mixed bag.  Some of the chapters are pretty enjoyable, while the ones that chronicle her improv days (over and over, in detail) are skim worthy to me after the first such section.  It's not proven to be a laugh out loud book for me at all yet either.

Does anyone have any recommendations for books that you found incredibly engrossing, awesome, don't want to put it down lately?  I need something to focus on that actually gets my interest, especially since I have some flights coming up.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ring like on your finger

As I've mentioned, BF and I have been discussing engagement and marriage more and more often recently.  We've had a few separate conversations about the ring, initially sparked by my ex-H's purchase of an insanely expensive ring for his fiancee.  I assured BF I did NOT want something crazy like that and he said "That's good to know!!!" and we both had a chuckle over it.

We've discussed the idea of me picking out my own ring, though I still feel a bit disappointed at that notion.  Yes, it means I definitely get something I like, but it does take away the surprise element. We've also talked about going to look at rings so he gets an idea of what I like and my ring size, as well as him just getting help on a ring from either my mom, my gf, A or J.  J has offered to let me show her some ideas of what I would like and to assist BF when the time comes.

Herein lies my question.  I definitely do not want BF breaking the bank on a ring.  I feel a bit older and wiser this time around and know that I'd rather invest money into a house or a vacation or something that we can both enjoy.  When I got married to ex-H, he bought me a ring set that was way more expensive than we could afford.  It was beautiful, but beyond our means.  Now I'm in a much better situation financially, but I still don't want to go overboard.  I have pretty simple tastes.  I loved my old engagement ring, but the band I had to get was matched to the engagement ring and thusly had a row of diamonds on it.  OK, but I wanted just a plain platinum band and ALWAYS felt that the wedding band was too much for my tastes.

So, when it comes to engagement rings, how do I decide what price range to focus in on?  I will fully disclose that I'm definitely keeping it under $2K, and really am thinking more in the $1K-$1500 range.  This definitely limits me in many ways.  I'm bound to end up with a smaller diamond, a lower end diamond. much do I care?  I've had friends chide me when I say that I'd be fine with a $1K ring, and one who said, "As long as he doesn't buy it at Kay Jewelers or something".  Again, I didn't really get that.  Yes, Kay is a chain jewelry store with super cheesy commercials and a jingle that makes me want to poke my eyes out.  But the jewelry is pretty (for the most part).

I've done my research and the jewelry at places like Kay is definitely not as high of quality.  Lower clarity and color on the diamonds, all that jazz.  I'm here to ask the questions:

Will I even notice that much?

Does it matter?

If I'm OK with a simple $1K engagement ring from Kay Jewelers or Bluenile or wherever, does it really matter what anyone else thinks?  Is there a real, solid reason that I should avoid this price range or these sellers or anything else?

I feel a burden in picking things out myself because I am definitely setting the expectation financially with my ideas, and I don't want to come across greedy or materialistic, because I'm not!  I'm 37 years old, but I will fully admit that when I look at a simple, cheap e-ring (some I've liked are $800 or something), I really like some of them, but then I have that moment..

The diamond is really small (half a carat or less)...will people think BF is cheap or that we're poor?  I really rather loathe that little part of me, but I admit it's there.  I have the part of me that says, "I like what I like, who cares!" and then the smaller, but still there part that worries about what it will say to everyone else.

For the record, I'm not being that nutter girl off looking at engagement rings before engagement is even on the table.  This is something I've discussed with BF and he's encouraged the idea of letting him or others know what I would like, so this is a sane and reasonable discussion to be having.  ;-)

Any thoughts, specific or generalized, on the subject would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

I cried more than once yesterday, and other random musings

Jeez louise, I am a ball of hormones this week.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you I cried probably three different times yesterday, and teared up again just now when writing a thank you message to my now former trainer.  Oh, how lovely it is to be a cliched girl.  :-D

Life is good.  Truly.  :-)  I am a pretty happy Bluemoon right now!  Spring is lurking and I'm loving it.  Even the cooler days are better than winter, so I'll take it.  I love occasional days for light jackets, open windows and walks around the neighborhood or over lunch.  It just makes everything seem brighter and happier.

I'm madly in love with the newly adopted cat.  R is a big ball of love and cuddles.  He is so sweet and I'm so glad we were able to give him a good home.  His owner was sick and had to give up her three cats, including R.  She brought some of his old toys and his food bowl to the woman who was going to foster him (but never had the chance since he got adopted so quickly).  That woman contacted us to see if we wanted those things and we said definitely.  I think it will be nice for him to have some things from his previous home.  She said the owner was so torn about having to give them up and doing this made her feel better.  I'm happy to do what I can to help his past life live on in our home.

I can't wait to introduce him to our other cats.  Everyone is so curious about one another.  We're trying to switch out beds and blankets to familiarize everyone with all the smells and giving treats on either side of the door to create a positive association with one another.  One of our cats has spent most of her free time since we got R sitting vigil outside the door, and they've taken to occasionally pawing at each other under that space, or sniffing at one another through that crevice.  I'm taking that as a positive!

Beyond that, my trainer is officially done being my trainer.  He originally planned to finish out the month with me, as he recently moved and his schedule was just no longer permitting of the PT job in addition to his regular job.  However, I found out last night that he got laid off last week (the week AFTER he just bought a new house with his wife and three kids), and I was so sad for him!  He filed for unemployment while he job hunts, but working part time at the gym only hurt him on that front, so he stopped our sessions after last night.  We worked with the gym's new trainer shadowing us and he will take over next week for my remaining sessions.  I doubt I'll renew after that, but I guess we'll see how it goes.  New trainer is nice, but I'm not sure I'll ever find anyone as positive, encouraging and lovely as the other.  He was such an amazing motivator.

In other news, a couple of weekends ago marked one year since I moved in with BF.  Craziness!  I came home that Friday night to a BEAUTIFUL bouquet of tulips (my favorite!) and a card from both BF and J.  It was such a nice surprise and made me feel so loved.  This past weekend we went out for appetizers before our firepit dinner of turkey sausages on a stick and s'mores.  ;-)  While out to eat the subject of engagement came up, and I was surprised how gamely BF entertained the convo with J. She was listing off meaningful places he could propose, and he was even joining in.  We joked about going looking for rings, and J volunteered to get an idea of what I liked and my size so that when the time comes, she can help him pick.

I had joked the previous week that we needed to get married by mid-April since my ex-H is getting re-married then.  I'm still weirded out by the notion that once that happens there will be another person with his last name.  I kept my married last name because I identified with it more personally and professionally, but have always said I'll change it when I re-marry.  BF said that if we did that I'd lose out on the time of being engaged, and that he wanted the proposal to be special for me.  I reminded him that I don't need anything crazy or complicated and that the most important thing for me was to be with him.

Yesterday he face-timed with his family to show them the new kitty (it was his telework day), and apparently his sister and mom were asking him when we were going to get engaged and when we would get married.  He told me about this when I got home and I asked why they were suddenly asking...was it because we adopted a "kid"?  :-p  He said no, they were just asking and assured him that they wouldn't say anything to me about the convo.  He told them that it was nothing we hadn't already discussed, LOL.

I reminded him that it's just the thing people do, asking about things like this after a certain point of time.  He's previously expressed the sentiment that these kinds of things make it seem like we've been dating for an eternity and that he's slow to propose.  I assured him that's not the case and that he's fine (at this point, HA!).  I do think he's been caught off guard with how much it's come up lately, and not only from J.

In many ways I think it's a good thing for him to be reminded that we have, in fact, been together long enough to merit engagement.  We have been together for over two years, we've lived together for a year, we just adopted a pet together to add to our menagerie, his kid loves me.  She told him again this weekend that her friends and family keep asking when we are going to get married and that they all want us to get married, including her mom and her mom's mom (whom they live with).  J told me this weekend that her grandma really likes me even though we've only met once.  I'm sure she likes that J likes me so much, and that I've probably balanced things out in some ways  when it comes to BF and his dynamic with J's mom.  I really get along with her and it makes things so easy! Anyway, it will happen when the time is right, but ultimately it feels really good to know that everyone in our lives supports it so much!

What else, what else?  A week from Thursday I leave for Omaha.  I have to say I'm looking forward to the trip home.  I'm a little nervous about seeing my grandfather, as I know he's deteriorated a fair amount since I was home for Christmas, but it will be good for me to see him.  I'm also looking forward to seeing the rest of my family in a non-holiday, non-crazed situation.  The next visit will be in May for the family reunion and that trip is always a whirlwind!  I'm bummed I'll miss out on the R bonding and integration time, though.

J is planning to spend most of her spring break next week with us.  We're going to start the cat integration this weekend, and continue it into next week.  Hopefully a week of supervised time together will lead to everything being good to go the following week for them to all be left alone together!  I'm also glad J will be around to keep BF company for awhile while I'm in Omaha.

One last item of note....I made a large credit card payment Friday (tax refund) and am making another one today (pay day!). After those two payments, the higher interest credit card will be down under $1K, which is AMAZING.  That means that card will be fully gone and paid off by April 15th and I'll be down to the last card, which has a super low interest rate and a really reasonable balance. I am getting so excited about the notion of being debt-free the closer it gets!  I can almost taste the sweet freedom of ZERO CREDIT CARD DEBT!!!  I am going to be doing the biggest blogger happy dance on that day.  :-)

Time to wrap up this novel of a post.  Happy tuesday to all!  :-)

Monday, March 14, 2016

March Madness

No, this post isn't about college basketball.  ;-)  To me, the best part of March Madness is the special All Personnel lunch we have to mark the occasion and the special Happy Minute (weekly end of Friday pizza and beer event) where they give us margaritas one time a year!  

March has generally been a little bit crazy, though, so it seemed fitting.  I ended up buying a plane ticket home for March 24-27.  My grandfather was doing very poorly and it just seemed like a good idea.  He's doing better, but it's still not a bad thing to see everyone another time before May.  The ticket was pretty reasonable and it's a direct flight thanks to Southwest Airlines.  I'm going on this trip solo, but BF will still be joining for the family reunion visit in May.

Beyond that, we somehow got suckered/conned/emotionally manipulated into adopting a THIRD cat. I'm not a crazy cat lady....right???  :-)  BF and J were very excited about this notion, and I got caught up in the wave.  The new cat came from a rescue and is 8 years old.  He's currently hanging on his own in the spare bedroom for the time being, as per the recommendation of the rescue folks.  I'm not sure how long that will last, but it's what we're doing for the time being.  The cats are all getting used to each other's smells by hanging out near either side of the door, plus by smelling the others on us. Hopefully the transition will go well!

I have a big training session I'm conducting tomorrow at work for the rollout of some departmental changes, so that should be interesting as always.  It's for all four offices.  Looking forward to getting that over with and getting people used to all the changes after.  

Weekend was very busy with all the cat stuff on Saturday and Sunday.  Then I got a wicked migraine late in the afternoon on Sunday and it basically wiped out the rest of my day.  It's mostly a painful blur, but I didn't get anything done that I wanted to...laundry, my usual sunday home manicure, miscellaneous house stuff.  I went to bed very early and slept in the room with the new cat.  Glad I had the early bedtime since he woke me at 4.  :-o  Yawn.

I am NOT a fan of Daylight Saving Time in the mornings, but I do appreciate the lighter later evenings.  That part is a perk.

I'm going to go heat up some soup for lunch and zone out for the rest of my lunch break!