Sunday, July 29, 2012

Paying Bills Makes Me Feel Alive

Very recently (like, one week ago), my husband and I decided that maybe he should handle paying bills for awhile. Today, I crumbled and scheduled our bill payments for the beginning of the months and planned our payments for our student loans.

I don't know what it is. Bills, on the one hand, make me sad. I don't like paying away money each month. But it's not hard to understand that they are a requirement if I want the lights to stay on and if I want to be able to blog from the comfort of my a/c-cooled, internet-capable home.

So since bills have to be paid, I like to view them as a puzzle, based around what we need to pay each month and what we'd like to get each month. Sometimes, it's a stressful puzzle when unexpected needs suddenly mount up. Sometimes, it's really enjoyable because through hard work and careful planning, we make up for those unexpected needs.

Also, I should probably mention that I keep a spreadsheet with all the payment information. It might be said that I enjoy spreadsheets. One time, I made a spreadsheet designed to show the value of various pizza brands and sizes per square inch. (We ended up buying a 30" pizza and that was our lunch and dinner for a week. Value is not always glamorous).

With a baby on the way, though, each month brings us closer to having financial responsibility for another human being and budgeting doesn't seem fun, but scary. Getting close to - or going over - our goals, whether weekly, monthly or yearly, is stressful in a way that it never has been before.

I cried one time because although I had budgeted for a bill, I had forgotten to actually pay it. It wasn't late at this point. I just didn't pay it on the time schedule that I usually stuck to, and I had been so excited to see our bank account staying at a high number - until I realized that number was due to a distinct lack of paying a bill.

So last week, my husband suggested that perhaps he should take care of the bills for awhile. Being that I can see how ridiculous it is to cry over a bill that did not break our budget and was not late and did not incur any late fees, I agreed.

But then I started to wonder. How would I know when to enter items on the spreadsheet? I know my husband wouldn't be worried about it, but I really like having data to analyze. I love being able to say with confidence what we spent at the grocery store each month.

And I mean, yeah, I was stressed about the partially forgotten bill from the other week, but that was a week ago, and I was more stressed wondering which payments my husband would choose to schedule when and from which accounts and then I wouldn't know which card to use to pay for groceries and I needed to buy groceries today so... I crumbled and paid our bills and well, it felt great.

I might be addicted to managing finances.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Being pregnant in Florida in the summer pretty much sucks

The other day, our power was knocked out when yet another neighbor's tree fell on the lines across the street and even though it was the evening and our house was staying roughly around 80 degrees, I was so blasted uncomfortable. Frustrating!

So instead of being hyper aware of food cravings, I've actually had a location craving since then. I desperately wish that I could be up in Michigan, vacationing on Lake Superior. You might know how when you have a craving for a certain kind of food, nothing else seems like it will make do? That's what this feels like. I find myself fantasizing about getting into the car and starting to drive and then magically being there.

I remember the summer Smiley and I got married, we went up to Michigan with my family for our "honeymoon." The weather was a little chilly a couple of the days and of course Lake Superior was extra cold, but I recall it being nice.

Mostly, I recall people complaining about the humidity. At the time, I'd been living in Florida for just over half a year. I was honestly surprised by how much of a difference it made for me. I felt like I could actually breathe the air outside in Michigan. That I could walk outside and not instantly hate life.


Sorry, I just had to go glance at a few pictures of the snowbanks that pile up during the winter. I was about to lose my mind or something.

But the idea of going vacation up in Michigan for a few weeks right now? That sounds absolutely wonderful.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I know it's cliche, but it happened

Today I had to get a bit of dental work done. My teeth have long let me know that they'd prefer to be cavity riddled and sensitive despite my efforts to keep them happy with brushing and flossing. So, I had two fillings today, on teeth 30 and 31 (or whatever the last two numbers are).

Everyone knows that these days, (thankfully), fillings are done with a lot of novacaine. And novacaine is great; I love it. Don't get me wrong. I will gladly take a pinch of pain to the mouth to avoid the pain of drilling later. But the side effects!

For those of you who have not had to get multiple fillings, well, first off, I'm jealous. More importantly, you might not know that there's this nerve in the back of your mouth and dentists aim for it when they need to numb the bottom back of your mouth. It is a good thing when they get it, but it does mean that half of your face will feel numb. I kept checking to make sure my glasses hadn't fallen off my face because I was numb up to my ear.

I can't stress enough how much of a good thing it is to be numb during dental work. But then, afterwards, that's when it seems like less of a good thing.

Like when you go with your husband to Kohls afterwards to see if any good maternity clothes are on clearance. And when he tells you to go ahead and go upstairs because he's going to grab a new wallet and meet you there. And so you go upstairs and decide to get a drink. But because half your mouth is still numb, specifically the half that is closest to the water spigot on the drinking fountain, getting a drink of water becomes an exercise in futility. And because your mouth is half numb, you can't swallow the water properly and you can't spit it out, and it ends up coming out of your nose, which is somewhat painful.

The somewhat painful sensation of water coming out of your nose might make you cough, which might make a nearby employee come over to make sure that you are alright. And then you might try to assure her that you are fine, only to find that the novacaine is wearing off just enough to make forming words next to impossible. And so you try to cough to cover up the fact that you sound like you're slightly mentally incapacitated. And then realize that coughing more is not going to get the employee to think you're alright, so you try to cough and talk at the same time so the employee will think that you are merely choking on water that went down the wrong pipe instead of thinking that you are unable to form words or drink water.

Thankfully, I think it kind of worked. The employee kind of glanced at me, and then at my pregnant form and then there was a sort of mental shrug in her eyes. I smiled, hoping that both corners of my mouth were working enough to convince her that I wasn't also a victim of a stroke, and casually hurried into the bathroom to continue coughing.

I'm doing much better now, hours later. My dear husband even drove me to DQ for ice cream, at my insistence. And the dentist said there's only a small chance that I'll need a root canal on my back tooth in the future.


I just want to take a moment to insist that I do, in fact, brush my teeth at least twice a day and floss almost daily. I have a package of floss in my purse to facilitate this. I drink orange juice with calcium since I don't like milk and eat yogurt and cottage cheese. I am unsure why my teeth hate me.

And that's the story of how at least two Kohls employees think that a somewhat "special" pregnant individual visited their store today.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Almost a Year!

Well it's taken me almost a year, but according to my stats page, I have gotten just over 2,000 hits to my blog. While that's a heck of a lot more hits than "zero," I won't pretend to think I'm on my way to total blogger legitimacy yet.

But soon. Maybe.

As you might recall, I predicted my lack of internet fame with AMAZING accuracy. Let's go back and check out if what was holding me back last year is still holding me back!

Ok, let's check out reason number one. Dani from the past writes:

1. I am absolutely horrible at staying up late. I mean, I often go to bed around 10 each night, except on special occasions, and then I go to sleep as late as 11! I think there is a connection between being a night owl and having the creativity needed to be a famous blogger. I sadly do not seem to have this connection.

Dani from the future says:

My bedtime is one of the most consistent elements in my entire life. I still go to bed around 10 each night, so I have not yet developed that "night owl" element that I seem to think is holding me back. However, there is hope! I will soon (well, in about two months) have a potentially constantly-squalling little spawn to help shake up my bedtime routine in a way that is practically guaranteed to make me expel creativity from all of my pores!

Sounds good. Dani from the past has another reason why I am not famous. Let's check it out:

2. I am good at many things but not excellent at one thing. Famous bloggers? They got there because they can do something (or a couple somethings) really dang well. I can sew a little; I can write and draw a little; I can take care of animals reasonably well; I can bake a tasty cake - but I don't excel at any of these, so while I'm sure I can offer a tip or two, I don't have the expertise to really shine amidst those who do.

Dani from the future says:

Yeah, still true. In the past year, I think the only thing I've truly excelled at is being pregnant. According to the internet and other trusted sources, I think I'm doing pretty dang good on the "not being a sick, throwing-up hormonal mess for nine months" front. However, I'm not sure how this is a marketable skill besides sparing my husband from having to deal with large quantities of puke.

Oh wait, past Dani has something else to say:

2.1 (As a counter point - I do excel at one thing: writing really, really long sentences because I'm a huge fan of semi colons and I hate using periods. But I'm not sure that there's an audience for people who like writing really long sentences for fun.)

Hm. Well. I mean, I do still like really long sentences. But I'm still pretty sure there's no audience for that. Tell me more, past Dani!

3. I don't have a good camera. Famous bloggers tend to have pictures on their blog. I'm either going to have to learn to draw better or find a new cheap camera, because my current one only takes clear pictures at noon with all of the lights on and even then, preferably with the object I want to take a picture of on fire.

Oh boy. Not only have I stopped drawing pictures almost completely for my blog, I've actually received a camera - as a gift all the way back during CHRISTMAS - and I don't think I've used it to post a picture yet. Well, this is awkward, because this is the one point that I have actively done worse in. Definitely not a recipe for internet success.

I do have a new excuse though! My computer, which my dad kindly built for me in the dinosaur ages (about the time I went to college, I believe), is beginning to show its age. When I try to draw in photoshop, my computer often protests. For example, I'll try to draw a curved line. Photoshop will disagree that I want to draw a curved line, and it will "fix" my drawing by rending that line as a straight line across the page. So there's that.

Well, rest assured Past Dani, I am working hard (sometimes) to continue my journey towards internet fame. Who knows? If I work hard enough, I might even get three thousand hits by next year! And then the sky's the limit!

Or maybe not. I mean, I heard it's hard to breathe up in those higher altitudes. We'll see.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sometimes we discover things

The other week, our power went out.

I had chatted with my sister in law about her bridesmaids dresses for awhile and had gone over to my computer to read the internet for a bit before Smiley got home from work. There was no warning about this power outage - no brief flickers, no flashes, nothing. Just one moment I was reading a somewhat interesting article about how dogs in a household can help babies develop a better immune system and then -


You know how you don't realize just how many things make noises in houses these days until they all stop at once? That silence was always eerie to me growing up and it still is today. Our computer room was completely silent, and dark. The normal, constant hum of running fans was gone and I swear I couldn't tell if my first thought was in my mind or if I had spoken it out loud because it seemed so loud and intrusive.

I wasn't thinking anything exciting. I was thinking - and hoping - that somehow a breaker had simply tripped and all I had to do was go into the garage and turn it back on. I kind of knew it wasn't that though, and as I grabbed our flashlight, I started wondering what else could have knocked off our power.

After all, it wasn't raining and hadn't rained during the afternoon. There were some storms predicted for later in the evening but they hadn't hit yet. Despite the abundance of electronics in our house, we weren't using more than usual. I couldn't think of anything else.

It was no surprise to see that the breaker box in the garage was fine. I texted my husband to let him know the power was out and decided to check outside.

Awhile back, Smiley and I had returned from a trip to IL only to find a tree branch had come down by our house, ripping the power lines down with it. More recently, we had gotten rid of six trees that were most likely to hit our house, but in the back of my mind, I knew the lines were down again.

And they were.

Now, thankfully, they weren't down at our house. You know how occasionally you can go outside and see something and wonder - was that always there? I wondered, were those power lines always dangling in the street?

I walked to the edge of our driveway and saw a pine branch down and partially into the road a few houses down the way. In the other direction, I saw the power lines ripped from the pole and dangling there in the street. It looked like we were one of the lucky six or so houses affected.

There was certainly a relief to see the power lines down; sure our power was out, but it was out because of a physical reason that the power company could fix basically in front of our house. It meant that there was no hazy response about the power being down in an area for a bit for unknown reasons.

I called the incident in to the power company just as Smiley was getting home from work.

"They said they'd probably send someone down here in about 15 minutes or so," I told him.

We watched the road for a few moments, watching as cars went by and tentatively slowed down to swerve around the wires. We heard our neighbor turn on his generator next door.

Smiley shrugged, going inside to change into a t-shirt and shorts. "I guess I might as well mow the lawn then."

I changed out my sandals for socks and gym shoes and joined him in the backyard, helping out by removing large sticks from the yard and putting them in our burn pit.

The mosquitoes in the backyard were ridiculous. I found myself wishing I had a horse tail so that I could be constantly swishing it to rid my back of all the pesky bugs. Every time I stood still for more than five seconds, I could feel a mosquito land. So, I might not have been the most helpful of stick gatherers - instead, I kept going around to the front of the house to see if the power company had arrived yet.

Eventually, Smiley finished mowing the yard and came into the garage.

"Did you see the skeleton in our yard?" he asked me.

I pictured a toy skeleton set, trashed, blown on to our property. I hadn't seen any sort of skeleton. I told Smiley as much.

"Yeah, in the back corner of the property. I think it's a cat."

Well, I guess I couldn't call this day anything but interesting. I followed him back into the yard, going to the far corner of our property. Nothing jumped out to me at first, but then he pointed to a small area and as I got closer, I saw what was unmistakeably bones.

Small bones, a small skeleton - but definitely not a toy.

"See it looks like it has a tail or something," Smiley was saying as I looked for a stick to poke the skeleton with because everyone knows that's how you handle skeletons in your backyard.

"No, it doesn't look right," I said, as I used a large stick that I had obviously missed in my stick gathering duties to push aside some of the pine straw and dirt that partially covered the skeleton. "It looks like -"

Now, I'm not an expert in any sort of bone identification. I've never sat down and thought to myself, gosh, wouldn't it be fun to look at skeletons of small animals so that later in life I can identify them! No, I was not even semi-pro in skeleton identification.

Luckily, this skeleton had a beak.

"I think it's a chicken," I said finally.

The bones were picked clean and I didn't know if that meant I should be more worried that something was out there that might try to eat our little, chicken sized dogs or that the bones had been there for long enough to be only bones and somehow I had missed them for weeks.

"I wonder if it was one of those roosters," Smiley said.

We listened in silence and did nothing further with the bones.

I'm honestly still pretty sure they're just hanging out in our yard, perhaps with the spirit of an angry chicken or rooster attached.

I just have no clue what one does when one finds a very, very dead chicken in their backyard. They never covered this in our closing, despite all the paperwork we went through. And I'm positive our insurance policy doesn't lean one way or another on the matter. It seems cruel to bag the bones and ask our neighbors if they are missing a chicken.

It seems gross to pick them up.

Well, we went to our garage and Smiley patched some holes in our driveway while I watched the repairmen from the city come and fix the power lines. Eventually the mosquitoes became more than overwhelming and we went inside and sat in the dark, chatting about this and that and waiting for the telltale hum of electronics to start up again.

We were only without power for about two and a half hours that night, thankfully, and it wasn't terribly hot out that evening. Also, who knows when we would have found out about that darned dead chicken if it hadn't been for that darned dead pine branch falling on a power line. Funny how life is so connected like that. Or something.

Friday, July 6, 2012

In Which I Tell My Husband What Labor Might Be Like

My third trimester began this week on Monday, so it's kind of getting to the point where I have to acknowledge that at some point in the now not-too-distant future, a baby will be theoretically setting off the chain reaction of hormones in my body needed to start labor.

I asked Smiley if he's prepared himself for my labor.

Of course, he looks at me with that constant grin on his face. "Well, yeah, I'll be there for you," he says.

I made a face back at him. "Well let me give you an overview of what to expect."

We're sitting at our computers in our aptly named computer room. He's in between rounds of Tribes Ascension and I'm stalling before I go to the kitchen to make something to eat.

"There's basically three stages to labor according to the internet," I said. I knew I had to keep it short and simple. "In the first stage, I'll maybe have noticeable contractions but theoretically be able to walk and talk through them without too much pain. Then there's the second stage, which I guess is active labor. It'll be harder to deal with contractions and there might be angry words on my part.

"Finally, the third stage is transition. If I understand what I've read correctly, at this point I will be in quite a bit of pain, angry, and possibly delirious depending on whether or not I get to eat or drink anything during labor. Your job will be to pat me on the head and tell me I'm doing a good job and my job will be to rip your arm off for touching me. As I understand it, the arm gets replaced some time after the delivery of the baby."

So as any casual observer can see, my husband and I are fully set to handle this childbirth thing.

But I'll admit to still being a little nervous.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth! Don't blow things up that shouldn't be blown up!

Granted, I know - some people have varying definitions on what should and should not be blown up.

I think that lately I have started to experience the "nesting" instincts that pregnant women occasionally get. If you saw my house, which is just as unorganized as usual, you might be curious as to what exactly I think "nesting" means.

I think it means how I wiped down some folding chairs that we are taking to a BBQ tonight and then decided I needed to wipe down our grill outside - despite the fact that our grill is staying put and no one is going to see the darn thing any time soon.

I think it means how I couldn't stand the way the xbox cords were lying on the ground and I had to neatly bunch them together - and then wipe down the xbox from any dust.

Actually, that's pretty much the crux of the instinct right there. My wonderful sister-in-law roommate bought those clorox disinfecting wipes and it's been an upward battle not to use them all to wipe down everything. Or maybe they're just addictive? That's completely a possibility, right?

Anyhow, it is the fourth and there are BBQs to get to. I'm going to do my best to not bring those clorox wipes, because I hear it can be considered rude to start trying to clean someone else's house without permission.

But I want to bring them, so that I can wipe down our car interior on the drive over.

And because grilling can be messy. They might appreciate the extra clean supplies! It's like a...hostess gift. Yeah.