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Birthday Party

October 18th, 2012 at 11:32 am

We are usually pretty low key about Daisy's birthday. We have a family dinner (includes some extended family), cake, ice cream and presents. Daisy likes to decorate cakes and usually decorates her own each year. That's about the extent of it. But this year was a big number birthday - Daisy has entered the teenage years. She wanted to have a Star Wars themed-party, and so we did. She drew up a guest list and we invited everyone on it. I thought, we're less than two weeks away from party date – we'll probably get about half of our guests. We had over 20 guests, not including adults who stayed. The only two invitees that didn't come now live in another state.

This can't really be a post about how to do a Star Wars party on a budget, because I spent way too much money on it. But we had fun, and I learned some things that could help me in the future.

The internet is full of Star Wars party ideas, and we borrowed a few. One idea, not specific to Star Wars parties, was to focus party decorations on a wall behind the table where most of the food will be placed. We covered the wall with black paper and attached glow-in-the-dark stars to it. I made a banner, using a Star Wars font, that said "Happy Birthday Daisy". We also decorated ceilings with black streamers and silver balloons. The limited, yet focused, decorations worked well.

The kids (mostly girls, plus a couple of younger boys) came dressed in costume. That provided excitement for this particular event. We played three party games – two were Star Wars themed. One is the game where you get a Star Wars character name taped to your back and you have to figure out who that character is. The other was a Death Star piñata (soccer ball piñata painted gray – we attempted to make a piñata but it was a failure. I did several piñatas in my youth but I must have lost my touch). Dinner followed activities. Our dinner was a make-your-own burrito bar ("Greedo Burritos") and lime punch ("Yoda Soda"), and some cut up vegetables. Then cake and presents, and that was the party.

What I learned:
I used the "Ellen's Kitchen" website to calculate how much food to make. When do I ever cook for 30? But I added too much extra to Ellen's excellent calculations. Running out at the last minute, and overbuying, really sunk my budget.

Start earlier – much, much earlier. I think our original piñata would have worked if we’d started on it earlier. The balloon I bought to make the piñata center cost $10. (Yes, it’s a rubber balloon – but it's huge – I think 36” in diameter if you blow it up all the way. Special purchase at the party store.) That $10 was basically wasted.

If the party is huge, enlist help in advance. Some of the adults who stayed helped out - a lot - maybe even too much. But it's more pleasant to help out a lot if you know in advance you are going to do that. I did not ask for any specific help from Mr. H, but he did dishes after dinner and vacuumed after everyone left.

In order to keep myself out of financial denial, I wrote down all expenses on a spreadsheet. It wasn't pretty but I'm glad I did it. If I had a spending plan first, expenses would probably have come in under the budgeted amount.

Something I already knew:
We can host a lot of people in our house (1200 sq ft) if we can use the back yard and everyone is kept busy with engaging activities.

Our party was basically pretty simple – party games, food and presents. Oh, and costumes. With fun guests and a good theme, I think it was a good party.

Petunia in a Flower Garden

October 16th, 2012 at 08:47 pm

Wow, it's been a while since I've been here.

I've come to the realization that, despite all my efforts, Mr. H and I are unlikely to ever be on the same page regarding finances, or a lot of other things. When we got married I believed that we had much more common ground than we actually do. I had hopes for many years that we would eventually come together on things, in a way we could both live happily with. Now, after almost 20 years, I think it's unreasonable to keep thinking that. I've spent the last six months developing a sense of peace about this. It's a thin peace, but still it's peace.

I'm in a denomination that discourages divorce, and I've had the opportunity to observe a number of marriages over the course of many years. Some people have great marriages that are sources of joy and pleasure for them and some have difficult marriages that create lives of patient endurance. It's a comfort, really. My situation isn't all that different from many women (and men).

We are still together, and likely will continue so (divorce is expensive!). . . but it's a different kind of together than I worked so hard for, for so many years. Frankly, I don't think anyone would get married and hope they would have a life like ours. But it is what it is, and I've decided to put more of my energy into things that will be fruitful, instead of trying to influence a situation that will not.

As such, I'm going to rename my blog to Petunia in a Flower Garden. . . . when I figure out how to do that. The French onion soup was helpful, but I'm moving on emotionally.

Daisy continues to grow, and our financial situation continues to be stable. We aren't rolling in cash, but we've weathered the current economy pretty well so far. I've kind of checked out of our finances for the last year and a half or so - now it's time to check back in.

I have achieved none of the goals I have on my side bar. . . still there's two and half months left in the year. Probably some time to make some progress on them. . . or rewrite them entirely.

A Walk through the Neighborhood

September 25th, 2010 at 06:52 am

Daisy and I went walking through the neighborhood the other afternoon. I noticed that there are quite a few houses for sale in our neighborhood. Generally that’s not a surprise; we live in a “starter home” kind of area. The surprise was how many homes were for sale. Daisy and I like to look at houses, and it gives me a chance to pass on information about houses and finances in a low-key setting. After looking at some of the flyers she asked about square footage, forced air and carports. I brought up the general prices of houses in our neighborhood and that we don’t share how much money we make or how much our house costs with others.

While walking we picked up three flyers.

House #1 must be an estate sale. “Grandma’s house” they called it. House is small and needs updates.

We drove by House #2 a few days ago and noticed it was for sale. At the time I commented to Mr. H that it must be a foreclosure since the grass wasn’t mowed. Sure enough, it is bank owned. Unless it needs a lot of structural fixing it’s a good deal.

House #3 is on our block. It has been for sale a long time. I checked Zillow when I got home. It’s been for sale for about 450 days.

Mr H looked at the flyers when we got home. He commented that all of these houses need work. I guess it’s a statement on the times.



Daisy's Yellow Boots

September 13th, 2010 at 09:02 pm

Daisy's feet have grown past girl's sizes and into women's sizes. This opens up new possibilities in shoe acquisitions. We typically purchase new a pair of Merrells for every day wear. Dress shoes and other shoes frequently come as hand-me-downs or from the Goodwill.

Daisy and I went estate sale shopping on Saturday and she found a pair of short, bright yellow rubber boots. When we went to pay we found out they were half off - we paid 25 cents for them. Score!! Daisy was thrilled with them as only a "tweenage" girl can be thrilled, and the ladies taking our money were equally thrilled. They mentioned how happy their mother would be that the boots would go to someone who clearly loved them.

Most of the estate sales we go to aren't hosted by the family of the person who died. It seemed our purchase might have brought some pleasure to a grieving family.

Missed Opportunity

February 12th, 2010 at 02:22 pm

Twice weekly I sit on a bench in a hallway, waiting while Daisy takes a dance class. The bench is quite long - room for many parents - it sits like an old church pew. Earlier this week while I sat waiting a child came by with his mom. "Hey, look, there's money!" he exclaimed as he looked under the opposite end of the bench from me.

I tried to watch without staring as he pulled the change from under the bench. . . two pennies and a nickel. He and his mom had quite a discussion about his keeping the money, and after asking me if it was mine (I was the only person sitting on the bench at the time) she convinced him that he could keep it.

After he left I thought, I'm looking under the bench the next time I come to dance.

********

I chose not to take the "job" I was offered in November - I just didn't feel comfortable with the group. A friend of mine left her one day per week job and was going to recommend me for it, but that didn't work out either.

My pursuit of goals fizzled out at the end of last year, and hasn't really picked up this year. I have hard time emotionally during December, and it usually continues through mid-February. Additionally, a family member died right before Christmas.

Mr H's coworker retired; Mr. H is likely to get some kind of a raise. I believe he and his boss are negotiating it this month.

I listed an item on Craig's list only moments ago. I tried selling homeschool materials on Craig's list a few times but didn't get any takers.

Still feeling like I need to get my head together!

Hot Dog Bun French Toast

August 10th, 2008 at 06:25 am

We went camping last week. We always have a great time - what's not to like about climbing trees, playing in the creek, riding bikes and hanging out by the fire? Mr H camped as a child and I camped with the scouts, and Daisy loves to go camping.

Usually we have some extra food at the end of our trip, and I create some leftover concoction for our dinner when we get home. After packing up the car, then unpacking at home, doing laundry and washing the camp dishes I'm really not up for a great deal of cooking. I'm getting better about estimating the amount of food for our trips though, and we didn't have a whole lot left over this time.

After we'd completed some of the chores Mr H and I were sitting at the table next to the food box. We had four hotdog buns left and somehow they'd gotten under a package of something else and were about half the height of their former selves. Mr H got a good laugh out of them, but I suggested hot dog bun french toast for breakfast the next morning.

That's what we ended up having for dinner last night - hot dog bun french toast. We even had Daisy do most of the cooking of it, furthering her life skills education. We combined this with leftover bacon and ham from our trip, and topped the toast with jam (we're out of syrup).

And Mr H gets extra credit. When we were discussing our dinner plans I suggested going out, and he said "No, I think we should make something from what we have on hand." Usually in this scenario we end up going out.

Update and School

August 9th, 2008 at 04:28 pm

After not achieving my previous goal, I've decided to set new goals. They are on the sidebar. I expect to do some work on them next week (Daisy will be at day camp), then not do much until September. (As a sidenote, DH and I had an interesting discussion involving Dave Ramsey's budget form. I'll try to post about that next week.)

Big changes are coming to the Onion Patch in September: After a lifetime of being homeschooled, Daisy is going to "away" school. She will be attending a small private school starting in September. When I say "small" I mean "small". There are three teachers, all of whom we've known since before Daisy was born, and about 30 students.

This school has an academic focus and offers no extracurricular activities. Tuition is very reasonable; the teachers see their jobs as a ministry and the school runs on a shoe-string budget. When I visited the school made me think of a one-room school house. The students work at their own pace. Daisy is acquainted with about half of the students.

Daisy has been homeschooled up to now and this will bring some real changes to the onion patch. She's very excited about it but will have to get up every morning. . . early. The school is some distance and we will be sharing carpooling with another family and one of the school's teachers. The other family has several children, the oldest of whom has been at the school about seven years.

I've been asked if I plan to get a job with Daisy gone all day. I've thought about it. . . but if I do work at paid employment it would have to be very flexible. I would want to have this job work around my family and not the other way around. It takes time and energy to develop and maintain family relationships. When I worked at my corporate job it seemed to take all that I had and there wasn't much left for my personal life. And I do remember my own childhood. . . my parents both worked full time and had some personal problems, and were not available to help me with the frequently difficult task of growing up. I want things to be better for my daughter.

We will be going to a social event at the school this week. I've set a goal to meet all the parents of the other students there. . . no small task for an introvert.

Preview Performance

July 10th, 2008 at 08:10 am

I guess blogging will be at a minimum this summer - we are busy doing summer things, and if Daisy is not occupied she is reading over my shoulder!

A friend of Daisy's is in a local production of a musical. The friend's mom gave me ticket information. I quickly went from "great" to "hyperventilating". The tickets were $32 for adults, $12 for kids. Fortunately for us, the same mom passed along information about a "preview performance". She said it was like a final dress rehearsal. There was a cost - $10 per ticket. Whew!

I had not heard of a "preview performance" before, and in the future I may look into it more for things like this. We went to the performance last night. It was excellent! Well worth the $10 ticket price.

We were out late and Daisy didn't make it to bed until after 11. She's sleeping in and can't read over my shoulder while I write this entry.

Abridged Version

June 9th, 2008 at 03:02 pm

I suppose some people drop off on their blogs because they don't have much to say. I have plenty to write about, but a bunch of Real Life stuff to take care of and so have had no time for blogging.

The abridged version, with more detailed entries to follow:

* We went out of town for Memorial Day weekend, plus one extra day. We are keeping busy with end-of-the-school-year stuff.
* DH finished the Dave Ramsey book.
* DH has decided to replace his 1992 full-sized truck with a 2004 Honda Civic. He did all the leg work (insurance quotes, talked w/mechanics, worked with sellers) plus he's figured out how to pay for it. I'm shocked. Go DH!
* We are looking at Away School (as opposed to Home School) for Daisy next year.
* DH used Quicken to create an expense report for the last year. Neither one of us are really sure what to do with it, but he is interested in some kind of a budget.
* We still ran a deficit in Checkbook Number One in May. Despite my attempts to pin our money issues on DH, I'm definitely the culprit on this one.

Daisy Makes Change

April 17th, 2008 at 04:58 am

I believe that one of my jobs in life is to teach Daisy about money. I have not developed a plan about this yet, but I try to take advantage of "teachable moments."

Daisy is a typical eight year old girl. She's very creative and balks a bit at routine. She'll tell you she doesn't like math in that dramatic way that only an eight year old girl can do. Nevertheless, partly due to diligence in teaching and partly due to the math program we use, Daisy has a pretty good foundation in math.

Yesterday Daisy and I went to Starbucks. The total of our drinks and snacks came to $7.19. As I was pulling out the cash Daisy said, "You can give her eight dollars." The cashier heard what she said, took my eight dollars and asked Daisy how much change I should get back.

Daisy thought, and the cashier waited patiently.

"90. . . no that's not right. . . 81 cents."

"Keep it up and you'll be a good cashier," said the cashier.

That's my girl! I can see the irony in teaching her to figure out correct change and teaching her undesirable spending habits simultaneously. . . but at least she can make change.