2016: mapping our year and some personal goals

Our 2016 financial goals are pretty normal. How about some personal goals this year? Setting quarterly goals last year was a good format, even if I missed the target on several of them. This year, I’m taking a different approach to the goals because, as it turns out, I don’t need motivation to work more or harder but I do need some motivation to do things that are just good for me.

In that vein, these won’t be assigned specific dates since they’re more fluid.


I have missed reading so much. 2015 was not my year for reading books. It was my year for reading comics on the phone app, but only once in a while, when breastfeeding or so tired I couldn’t sleep. This year, I have a stack of books on my shelf, by my bedside, and a subscription to Marvel Unlimited. Now the real problem is if I have some time and accessible books, I will read til the dawn breaks.


We have firmly decided to tackle travel, and flying, this year with LB. Thanks to all your reassurances, I understand that mostly it won’t be a huge world-ending thing but we do have to take a few outlier things into account: my uncertain, but certainly limited, energy levels; overall travel costs; balancing the time off with our work and vacation time.

We’ve got a late summer Hawaii visit on the books, along with a spring visit to the packed-to-the-gills Emerald City Comic Con. I’d dearly like head to New York and soak in the wonders of the Hamilton musical while visiting with dear friends we haven’t seen in ages.  Even my addled mind admits that’s probably too much to manage this year though, because you start with New York and find yourself adding on New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia/DC because how do you go cross country and miss this friend, or that friend?

If we do Maui and the Big Island, I’d love some food and adventure recommendations!

Keep on truckin’

On foot, that is. Even with the ten thousand virii bearing down for weeks, courtesy of my darling child, Seamus and I have averaged 1.5 – 2 walks a day. That’s up from our 1 walk per day average before, so we are going to keep that up this year. I’m experimenting with stretches and other living room exercises, in search of a new routine that’s comfortable enough to make regular but still pushes me a bit.

We’re going to try a Pooch to 5K training plan together but it’s already obvious that the subject most in need of physical conditioning isn’t Sir Pooch. *cough*

Create a thing

Whether it’s the writing project, or some other thing, make something. I’m leaving this one open-ended.

Learn a thing

Philosophically, I’m a growth mindset person but in practice, I’ve noticed a dramatic tendency to a fixed mindset. Over the years, my professional proficiency has grown the point that I’m learning new facts but not new skills, not from scratch. This isn’t great for the brain, so it’s time to force myself out of my comfort zone and get frustrated.

What are you up to this year?

Email this to someoneShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestCare to share?

Just a little (link) love: honey badger Houdini edition



About the book publishing process

Jamaila on developing an authorial presence

This article argues that the best time to excel is in the morning. While I do love having a long way until noon on my early days, and I get a lot done, I save the work that requires the most willpower and focus for last in my day because that’s when I’ve always performed best on those tasks.

Academia and the myriad ways the hiring practices suck

More and more reasons to have savings

How about let’s make money on Valentine’s Day instead of spending it!


Kelly on neutrals: I love neutrals!

I love fresh-baked bread. Thanks to Linda for the recipe link!

It could be worse. We could be in Gondor.

Why you remember ships and droids from Star Wars


Spiritual molestation at Chik-Fil-A. There are actually some good comments: Gotta agree with Karen. You shouldn’t make prayer a required payment for the basic necessities of living. That’s not how people should come to faith—the horse dragged to water. A better, more Christ-like thing would be to give him the food and then ask if he would like to pray with them. Show the compassion of your faith, and then leave the door open.

I’m not prone to drinking excessively but honestly, skipping alcohol for the entirety of pregnancy wasn’t hard in light of even the slightest possibility of fetal alcohol syndrome. (again, we’re talking about my luck with medical history, it’s hardly a gamble when anything that can go wrong does) Plus it didn’t play well with my system anyway.

The Bronze Age Egtved Girl

Everything I read about the Zika virus’s spread is pretty alarming

How to learn about things on Twitter

Kansas Senate Imposes Strict Dress Code for Women: Sen. Mitch Holmes’ 11-point code of conduct does not include any restrictions on men, who he said needed no instruction on how to look professional, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. I guess the Senator thinks men are all so weak and distractable that the onus is once again put on women to spare the poor men from having to focus and be professional themselves.

How can humans be so horrible and cruel as to let their dog get this filthy, matted, and even freeze to death? Every time I have a bit of hope for us, I see stuff like this.

Escape artist

Email this to someoneShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestCare to share?

The misadventures of LB and Seamus: damn those raisins!

It goes without saying that I feel like an idiot. But I’m saying it anyway: I feel like an idiot. So let’s hope this doesn’t become a series.

In the six months since LB has dabbled in non-milk foods, ze has been liberal in hir intentional and unintentional sharing with Seamus. Not once, not even when ze has offered his own treats to him, has he ever taken anything from hir without explicit permission from me. I know this because I keep a close eye on them both. Seamus has been nothing but an angel toward his grabby, unempathetic, sometimes grubby sibling. An angel that stays nearby, but sets boundaries so that ze is slowly learning from our prompting, scolding, and swoop in for the occasional rescue that he likes to be close, he likes to be petted gently, but he does not like to be grabbed, twisted or licked. Ze still licks him. There’s nothing can be done about that. But still, I watch them. It’s irresponsible to take his patience for granted and ze is not nearly old enough to be trusted to respect his boundaries without guidance.

Naturally, that means that the one day that I take them both for a really long walk and playtime, the one time my brain checks out when we’re in sight of home, LB chucks hir snack bread over hir shoulder and Seamus snags it. He never does that. Ever. But in the split second I had to tell him NO and DROP IT, which he would have done, my brain failed us both and I didn’t. So he gulped it down and then my brain started whirring again.


That was raisin bread. Usually ze eats all the raisins first before gnawing at the crust but this time ze chucked half the slice, which ze hasn’t ever done, before chewing on it. Crap.

Raisins can be deadly for dogs.

Some dogs can eat grapes with reckless abandon. Some dogs can eat grapes, experience kidney failure, and die. Raisins are worse. You need as little as half a raisin for a 300 lb dog and if that dog is susceptible? It can be really bad.

Seamus is a big boy but he’s no 300 lbs and I couldn’t be certain that the bread had been de-raisined. I called the vet to be sure of the facts above and they confirmed: most possible ingested toxic things, if just a bite or less, they’d just suggest we induce vomiting (or they would) and watching overnight. Raisins are Bad News.

Of course, this happens right at LB’s naptime. Since we haven’t replaced his car yet, PiC had taken the car to work and we were carless so I couldn’t race them both to the vet, naptime or no. We’d run out of hydrogen peroxide so I couldn’t induce vomiting unless…

I strap a tired and angry LB into the stroller and raced down the street. Huffing and heaving, we rattle to the nearest store to grab the first bottle of peroxide we could find, pay for it and run back. Wishing with all my might that I were in better shape, and for that idiot catclling from his car to choke on his own spit and pass out, we mad-dash all the way back home. Intrigued by the commotion, LB’s grumbles have faded to an interested chirp, but once we pass the threshold, ze was bound and determined to be involved. Ze quick-crawls after us as Seamus is sent to the bathroom. Quickly, pop a bottle of milk into warming water, then run to the bathroom to measure out a tablespoon and pulling it into the syringe that … was too small. ARGH. Find another or…. Time was ticking, the longer I took, the more likely he would digest that raisin and his kidneys could start shutting down. They say you’ve got two hours, but you’ve really got to get that stuff out ASAP.

I risk a run to the closet to dig out the bigger syringes and SMASH. Of course. Of course LB wanted to know what I was working on and dashed the measuring cup of peroxide off the counter. I should have remembered that ze could reach it now. KIDS.

No matter, I have more. But forget that larger syringe, I’ll just refill this one. Five times. The syringe was only 3 ml, I needed 13. Drat and damn. With each syringe-full, he’s grumpier and more foamy. It helps none at all that LB’s extremely curious, first climbing up my side trying to help with the syringe, then sitting on his back legs to get a better view. His misery is such that he doesn’t even try to move away. The full tablespoon down his gullet, he tucks his head under his back paws, almost pointedly turning his back on me.

Apologetically, I scoop LB up and plop hir on the cushion with the milk, then sit next to Seamus petting him while spreading out the newspapers for the pending regurgitation. In almost no time, ze tossed the bottle aside and comes looking for us so that’s my cue to put hir in bed, all protests and wails.

Ten minutes later, nothing but yowls from LB.

This time, I find the 12 ml syringe. Another two tablespoons, down the hatch. More foam, and with it, an almost satisfying heaving that I was sure would do the trick. Being a hero, he just swallows and swallows and swallows until the urge passes. Fraggit! I text PiC that he may have to leave work early and take over at home so I could take Seamus in for a real induction.

Ten minutes later, still nothing.

One last time.

Seamus is really out of patience with me but down the hatch it goes. And I encourage him to just let it out. Just don’t fight it. And there it is! A lake of foam and food spreads on the newspapers. Never has poking through a pile of vomit been such a relief.

Amid the foam, the carrot chunks and the kibble, I found our culprit. One half raisin.

Elation wars with a sinking stomach. Another call to the vet confirms we still should have him in for treatment. PiC texts that he’s on his way and by 4:30, this saga started at 2, Seamus and I are loaded up and rolling out of the garage. I’m packing a book, a bottle of water, and a phone that’s running out of juice. Of course it is. But with plenty of deep breathing and careful navigating, we arrive safely at our destination.

Social Time! Seamus’s ears say.

No, I’m sorry, not really.

The vet confirms that if it were her pup, she wouldn’t go so far as the “gold standard” of 48 hours in hospital with IV fluids, the next step down should be plenty since it was half a raisin and we retrieved it.

He happily runs off to be poked, poked again, and dosed with activated charcoal.

His kidneys, according to the labwork, seem to be ok, and they’ll want to see him back in 3 days to confirm they are still fine. 72 hours, they say, til we’re out of the woods. $250 today, and another $75 later this week, if he’s fine. Small price to pay, I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, but from now on, wheat bread for walks!

We get home at 6 and still manage to get dinner on the table by 7, and by 8:30, I finally get to sit down at the computer to get my work done. What a day!

Email this to someoneShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestCare to share?

Net Worth & Life Report: January 2016


Change from Dec 2015: 0.6% decrease
0.6% decrease from last month


I use Swagbucks. Here’s a handy tutorial if you’d like to join and earn. And any purchases you make going through my Amazon links keep the blog lights on!

We made it through the holidays intact in most ways, despite running on empty and for that, I’m grateful. Like a giant nerd, I’ve decided to change our financial reporting for the new year. Presenting money news: Konami Cheat Code-style!

It’s a clean slate as far as percentages go, whatever this month’s net worth is will be the number I compare each coming month to.

Up: A friend told me that I inspired her to start saving and investing because my #1GoodMoneyThing hashtag made it seem simple and not intimidating! That made my entire month.

Up: I negotiated a huge discount on my hosting fees for 3 years, thanks to Donna for the kick in the pants post. This added a year to my already paid service cycle, and netted a refund of $120. Since this blogging venture isn’t exactly raking in the moolah, that lowers the cost of entry so that I can cover the cost of a hobby.

Down: The market’s doing its chacha on AXP’s head, making me second-guess my latest buy. (Go figure, my next possible buy seems to be doing just fine, heading straight up.) Also our retirement accounts took a big hit, they’re the reason we’re down 0.5% this month from the end of December.

Down: The car insurance and registrations for the remaining two cars came due this month. That’s about $1000, alongside the other installment of the property taxes, just oh, $3000. *ow*

Left: We’re a one-car family right now. The savings from not spending on the insurance or registration is a temporary miser’s reaction. Big picture, PiC’s stressing that he won’t be able to find a replacement for a reasonable amount of money by the time we need it. He’s been spending hours on this every day. What a monumental pain.

Right: My hopes of a cheap (though Euro-luxe) replacement have been dashed. All the actual contenders that meet most of our needs are in the $12,000-$14,000 range. Big fat sigh. We are waiting as long as we can, though, making do with the one car is ok as long as we don’t have to all four of us go somewhere.

Left: I was setting up auto-pay with one of our merchants and stopped dead in my (online) tracks. How ridiculous it is that they want us to set up direct withdrawal on their site authorizing “ANY AMOUNT”? Literally it doesn’t allow you to specify the amounts that you’re authorizing, they want you to approve a blank check. Monthly.

They have fallen off their sweet aunt Betty’s rocker and suffered head injuries because nope and nope. I’ll log in and make the payment myself every month because nobody gets free rein with our checking account.

Right: We did transfer some money out of savings to fatten up our anemic cash checking account, I’m not proud of that. I’m so unproud, in fact, I had to go back and check all transfers in and out to make sure I didn’t undo very much good work. (We didn’t.) Of the $11,000 extraordinary transfers into savings (extraordinary meaning the savings I “stole” from our checking when it was flush over 18 months that we didn’t need for cash flow, so it wasn’t the usual scheduled 25% savings deposit), only $4000 came back out to cover expenses.

(Only. Hahaha…)

A: Our side money was deposited right into savings though. Small steps back in the right direction!

B: Tax time tax time! It’s almost tax time! I keep a spreadsheet throughout the year in preparation for each tax season because I hate having to hunt down all our paperwork. I want it funneled into one place as it comes in, none of those shoeboxes full of receipts and forms for me thank you very much. Tax season always starts in January for me and this year is no different. I’ve also started up the spreadsheet for Tax Year 2016 since I’m already paying things like car registrations that will be tax deductible next year. Go on, call me a nerd.


We spent much of the month battling one virus after another which meant even regular duties like getting ourselves fed and clearing up around here seem to take on extraordinary efforts.

That I managed to cook consistently for several meals deserves a few weak hurrahs: roast pork shoulder, barley and vegetable soup, pasta sauce from scratch for the pasta night that never was. We had quite a few soup from the box and sandwich nights, and happily ate up the soon to expire Immaculate biscuits from the can that we found at Costco. PiC failed to check their expiration date when he bought them so of course we had 2.5 weeks to consume 30 biscuits. Gee, so rough!


I still managed to keep ahead of work by putting in late hours at night (Even later hours, more accurately.)


As I pick through my closet and weed out the sad, the threadbare, and most things over 10 years old, I couldn’t resist a couple clearance sweaters from Nordstrom as replacements. I’m still spending judiciously at Nordstrom using gift cards I bought at a discount 4 years ago! It’ll be a sad day when that money runs out.


Our walks are awesome quiet time to mull over random thoughts and chase them down to their lairs where I feast upon the cracked bones and marrow… Wait what am I talking about? Ideas! I have ideas! Geesh.

That’s about the state of my brain so, of course, I keep starting drafts and lack the brainspace to finish those thoughts coherently.

Email this to someoneShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestCare to share?