Tuesday, December 16, 2014

10 things that bring me joy this time of year (in no particular order)

10. Christmas lights
9. iced German gingerbread cookies
8. Wrapping gifts
7. Decorated Christmas trees
6. my sister's peanut brittle
5. Giving
4. Going home
3. my children's excitement
2. Christmas carols (the old-timey ones)
1. My family

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Money Money Money

I've made no secret that it's been a tough year for us financially.  Things are starting to look up which is wonderful but there are also things that are worrying/bothering me.

Gas prices are going down and there are warnings that the interest rates will soon begin to rise.  They are also predicting corrections in the house markets and ever-increasing household debt amount Canadians.  G and I are fortunate that we only have mortgage debt and that a fall in housing valuation will not hurt us as we have no plans to sell in the near future and that even with a severe devaluation our house would still bring in more than we owe on it, but this is not so for all or even possibly most Canadians.  Which worries me because we do not live in a bubble.

Which leads me to investments.  As the economy worsens, so likely does our investment portfolio.  We are pretty cautious investors and we do have a diversified portfolio and one which we are comfortable leaving as is for many years so presumably it will perform well over the long run despite occasional ups and downs, but there are no guarantees so we need to watch our money.  G's been self-employed for decades and I stayed home with the kids for 12 years.  This means our Canadian Pension Plan payments when we retire won't be much if anything at all.  So it's up to us to secure our own future which means being careful and sensible now.

And that's difficult.  Not just because I want to spend money on my own family, but also because there are so many people I would like to help.  We do donate regularly to two charities and G is good with that.  He will support occasionally being charitable here and there but for the most part, he doesn't feel the desire to help others as much as I do.  Which is probably a good thing.

The fact is that despite our situation, we do have major upcoming expenses to consider such as paying off our mortgage, putting the girls through school, doing some needed renovations on the house and, as previously mentioned, retiring some day.  These are his priorities and these are things I definitely want too.  So I need to embrace these things and be more moderate in my desire to save people.  That's not to say I can't be generous here and there, but I do need to learn to temper the desire to give with the reasoning that our own future comes first.

And this can be a bitter pill sometimes.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dear Rogers Wireless

I am writing to complain.  Not that your fees are too high (but c'mon they totally are!) not that your service area is too limited and not that I was charged for services I didn't use and wasn't warned about.  No.  I'm complaining because your outdated call management service is dangerous, negligent and practically useless.

Some man called my daughter's phone and yelled at her today.  He told her to stop calling or he would call the police on her.  She tried to explain that he had the wrong number but he just kept yelling at her.  She was shaken to say the least.

So we decided to block his number which we tried to do through you.  Rogers, let me first say that your customer service people were fantastic and I am not complaining about them at all.  The first guy I talked to on the phone set us up with call management for Sarah's phone right away.  He even gave it to us for free explaining that he had a 16 year old daughter who'd had a bad breakup and so he knew how a parent felt when their teenaged daughter was getting unwanted phone calls.

He emailed me the step-by-step instructions of how to add someone to block the call.  So we signed in, went to call management and while the majority of the page loaded, the option to add a number to block did not.  So I called again and spoke to a lovely woman who tried valiantly to help me or add the number to the block list for me.  She could do neither and instead emailed me the step by step instructions again.  Pointless I'm afraid. 

She did recommend that I try the online help option which I then did (I will confess that by this time I was very distraught and had dampened more than a few tissues with tears of frustration and trepidation.)  I explained the long story to the online help guy who informed me that he could not add the number for me and that your system only worked if you were using Windows 8 or earlier.

Rogers what rock are you living under?  No Firefox? No Chrome? No version of Explorer that isn't over 2 years outdated.  Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?!?!?!?!

Thank goodness I was at the office and some of the computers there hadn't been used in a good long time because it took trying 7 different computers before we found one still running that outdated web browser.  And you know what Rogers?  the whole time we were using it Explorer urged us to update our browser because Explorer 8 was so freaking old and outdated.  The. Whole. Time.

What kind of company would offer a service that can't even be used by anyone who's turned their computer on in the last 6 months?  How can you have not updated this to run with multiple and up-to-date browsers?  How are women and parents ever going to feel that even the most basic of protection is in place for them to block harassment from undesired and potentially dangerous callers when the best your customer service can give us is "sorry, it only works with Windows 8 or earlier."

Shame on you Rogers.  Shame on you for letting us down.  You have some serious work to do because Windows 8 only? not nearly good enough.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Christmas Shopping

I'm done Christmas shopping for my girls.  95% of their gifts are here and wrapped in a pile upstairs ready to be transported to Ottawa.  The annual Family Calendar that I create and give out every year has been ordered, printed and received.  I have a niece and nephew left to buy for, I am just waiting for their wish lists to go up.  I have informed my family members that we are only buying for the children from now on.  I may pick up stocking stuffers here and there if they catch my eye but for the most part I am done.

This is not particularly newsworthy as I have a longstanding love of Christmas and hatred for being near malls in December.  I don't like driving in the dark and it's dark here rather early these days.  I don't like parking at the best of times but overflowing parking lots with aggressive drivers is a nightmare to me.  I don't like waiting in lines to buy things at the best of times but doing so dressed in warm winter outerwear with a horde of panicked, tired and disgruntled shoppers is not my idea of fun.

So I shop online and I shop early so that 1) I know I have the money to pay it off and 2) I know that what I ordered will get here in plenty of time.

Another reason I shop mostly online is because the things that my children want aren't usually the type of products you find at the local mall.  Chloe is into Futurama and The Simpsons.  Both shows put out their plastic figures years ago so the only reliable place to find them is on eBay from collectors.  Sarah loves the Walking Dead so again, ordering online is an easy way to find all the characters and graphic novels she wants. 

Also both girls wanted archery supplies (bow/arrow/quiver) this year so we priced them out and some stuff was cheaper at Bass Pro while other stuff was more reasonable through Amazon. 

Some argue that I miss the big sales this way but honestly, it's worth it to me to get it done and get it done early - especially since the things my kids want aren't usually available at Target or Wal-Mart.  And I look out for sales regularly so I promise you I haven't paid full-price for everything.

So now I can just sit back and wait for the last few items to trickle in.  There's a lot going on in my life right now so I'm o.k. with that.  I still love Christmas.  I know from years past that I will still pick up some things here and there for stockings and such.  But mostly I'm calm and content and I know that my kids will love their gifts this year.

Ho Ho Ho.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sad Day

I got some bad news yesterday. Nine of the people I used to work with were let go.  Another two will be let go at year end.  Even worse, my wonderful friend's son has been diagnosed with Cancer.  It's very treatable with a good prognosis but still -- Cancer.  He's just a bit younger than Sarah.

So I was feeling down yesterday and sad.  But then I was reminded that it was another friend's birthday today.  A friend who almost died last year due to liver failure.  She got a new liver just in time and while she still struggles, she is alive to celebrate another year with her loving husband and 3 beautiful children.

Not saying one cancels out the others but it's good to be reminded of the little miracles every now and again.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Why Does It Just Seem So Damn Hard?

I love my husband.  He loves me.  We have two beautiful, intelligent daughters with no real health issues.  We work hard and we manage our money well.  We live in a great country and we have supportive loving extended families.

So why is it still so damn hard?

Why do I feel like things just keep breaking? like I will never get a handle on things? like none of our projects ever get finished (which they don't)? like nothing I do will ever be good enough and that we will forever be struggling to get back to where we once were?

There was a time when there wasn't half finished projects all over my house.  There was a time when I felt sexual excitement and desire.  There was a time when I was proud of our home.  There was a time when I didn't feel like I was constantly failing my children.  There was a time when I had energy and optimism and knew my place was firmly grounded in the centre of the universe.

Maybe it's being overweight?  Maybe it's being older?  Maybe it's the fact that there has been a ladder in my dining room and a table saw in my kitchen for months.  Maybe it's that now that the kids are older I can't control all their decisions?  Maybe it's just that I'm a working mom now and the million and one things I used to get done during daylight hours now just never seem to get accomplished.

I'm tired.  I'm sad.  I'm frustrated and I'm angry.  And today I'm just feeling overwhelmed by it all.

Maybe it's just that today really sucks.  Or P.M.S.

I just don't understand why it feels like a losing battle when I have everything going my way.  And I know I should thank my lucky stars that my husband and I have a great marriage and I should get on my knees and bless the Heavens every night that my children are happy and healthy and that I don't have clue what true hopelessness really is living in this country with a healthy bank balance and both of us employed...

Which just makes me feel worse because it makes it even more difficult to explain why today it just feels so damn hard.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I'm sorry

I wrote something hurtful about you a few years ago on this blog. I deleted it but not before you read it. I had forgotten that I ever wrote it when I gave you this link and was horrified when I saw that you'd found that particular post. 

Truth is I was still hurt and angry when I wrote it even though many years had passed and I was happy with how things turned out in the end. But yeah still hurt about how it ended. 

When you left you took my lover away yes, but I also lost my best friend and while I forgave the first, it took a lot longer to forgive the second.  

So I wrote that stupid post where I said something hurtful that wasn't even true and then when I had moved on and wanted to invite you back into my life in some small way, I inadvertently led you straight to the words that would ensure you never would. And I'm sorry Jim because I would have liked my friend back. 

I know you'll never read this but since I put the bad thing out there for the whole world to see, seems only fair to come clean about my being a big jerk to everyone as well. 

I'm sorry. You were perfect and I was a jerk. 

I wish you nothing but happiness. 

Julie