Apr. 8th, 2009

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Life is busy as it always is.  E is doing well - the frustrating tween that he is!  Goes from being the loving, perfect child to the grumpy, work hiding adolescent.  Sometimes at the speed of light.  Oh what we have to look forward to!

Work is going well.  I am enjoying my classes but I can not believe we are so close to the end of the school year.  Our new principal this year has been great.  She has been a good balance of friendliness (with both students and staff) and strickness.  We are getting a lot done around the school that has needed to be done for a while - things like changing the locks so you don't need a hundred keys to get around, painting the walls, cleaning, updating the lighting - all things that had been neglected over the years because the school had been slated to be rebuilt.  With the budget situation who knows when - or if - that will happen so we are finally catching up on standard maintenance.  I think it really helps morale.  Especially since morale has really been affected by the fact that they are making us change to a 7 period day next year - and the teachers have to teach 6 out of 7.  This actually violates our contract, but since Florida is a right to work state we really can't do anything about it.  Next year will be interesting to say the least.

At home finances have been difficult.  My pay was cut this year, our insurance and health costs were raised, and they raised the interest rates on the two credit cards we have a balance on to outraegous rates which were making it impossible to pay on the principal.  This has meant things have slowly gotten more and more behind.  I spent much of my spring break on the phone and on the computer trying to balance our finances so we could actually keep up.  As of today it looks like I have, but it is still going to be tight.  I got the two credit card companies to lower the interest rates and stop the over limit fees (the high rates had caused the balances to go over limit - which made them reduce the limit making it worse.)  This has been able to put us at a more reasonable payment that will actually work on the balance as well.  I managed to scrape up money to pay off the smaller cards so they are gone.  And I worked a deal with the Mortgage company to catch us up (Yeah for the Obama plan!) so we don't risk foreclosure.  I also got the cable company to reduce the bill a little by pointing out the deal their competitor is offereing.  And I am talking to the cell phone company about reducing our plan.  Now if I can just stay on top of it.  Right now the husband and I both are doing whatever extra we can to bring in a few extra bucks since we are barely making enought to cover the bills.  I am still a bit worried about the summer...

Add to that the Japan trip.  We had hoped for the whole family to go, but it is going to be hard to pull off even me going.  (and I have to go for it to happen at all.)  Even though I am splitting my flight cost up amoungst the students who are going (which bothers me to do - but it is standard practice for the chaperone) there are still personal expenses associated with going that it is going to be difficult to cover.  And I am really disappointed that it does not look like E can come, I had really hoped to take him.  I am still working on it though so we will see.  The husband is very disappointed about not going as well.

On the more positive front, I am still very excited about getting the James Madison fellowship!  I have not heard from USF yet about getting accepted, but I know their committee had not met yet.  It would be nice to get started on this as it is the one way I can increase my salary - especially since they are talking no increase again next year and potentially a cut.  I have also found out that this makes me one of only two people in our county who have received this fellowship (the other being the man I team teach with.)  Pretty cool!

Am still trying to pull off getting the windows done on the house.  I know that sounds kind of insane considering the money issues, but we have a $5,000 grant from the state that is use-it-or-lose-it and it really would make sense to try to do it.  Doing this should also drastically reduce our electric bill (which normally runs in the $250 range) since the windows would be energy efficient as well as hurricane rated.  And there is now a new tax credit for doing this that we could take advantage of on next years taxes.  We are getting a large amount back in taxes again (yeah adoption credit!) that will cover most of it.  Even though that would help with expenses right now what I am trying to pull off is to get the windows done, apply for the grant and then use the $5,000 to get us through the summer when I don't get paid.  I am currently working with a window company that is having the husband do a website for them - we are trying to work out a trade deal that will hopefully help to get the price down to a workable level.  If I can make it all work it will definitely be the best thing in the long run.

Speaking of the summer, am working on various ways to make money during it.  I will be doing the AP reading again which pays $1,600 - but I dont' get it right away.  I also have th opportunity to do some curriculum work at $300 a week for two weeks.  Not a huge amount but every bit helps.  And I plan on working with our photographer when I can again which make some extra cash.  Still looking for other things I can do though if anyone hears of anything.  Especially things I can pull off without putting E into a sumemr camp since those costs would eat up what I make.  And I am still trying to figure out a way to pull off Pennsic.  I have a job secured with the newspaper which would help with the expenses.  And as far as vacations go it is a cheap one.  But still not sure I can pull it off at all.  But I am going to try!  A family vacation would help the home morale!

Am still managing to pull off SCA stuff.  As far as hobbies go we can get off pretty cheap with this one of late.  Even though I have needed to make garb lately we have so much fabric on hand that it does not cost me anything at this point.  Same thing for my other craft supplies.  It can be helpful to be a pack rat.  And even though event costs have gone up it is still one of the cheapest forms of entertainment for the whole family.  Cost us $50 for the last kingdom event (since E is 12 he is still free) plus gas and food.  We now bring our own groceries and make sandwiches at the event so that is not a lot of money - and we bring the husbands car which is really good on gas mileage.  So not too bad.  We have cut out most other entertainment stuff - we don't do movies anymore.  The one luxury has been NetFlix.  And I have not given up Starbucks yet - please don't make me give up my Starbucks!!!  :)

So, those are the updates for now.  I keep trying to post more often, but it just does not seem to work for me.  So who knows when I will update again!  But rest assured that I am alive and kicking.

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