Monday, October 27, 2008

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back Equals One Great Leap Forward*

(patience, we'll get to it.)


I noticed I hadn't paid a utility bill I thought I had--and I owed this month, last month, and the month before. Turned out I had paid the wrong company! So, I sat down and figured out how much money I would have between now and the next pay cheque if I paid it and all the other bills which come due between now and then.

I'm ashamed to say, this is the first time in my life I have ever really done this! I will be doing this from now on--on a schedule in accord with my husband's pay cheques. I feel a spreadsheet a'comin' on.


I went to a second hand store I have always loathed and hated (Value Village) and found my daughter a winter jacket (with hood) in her favourite colours (pink and purple, shudder) and coordinating snow pants. Cost: $15.00. I was absolutely thrilled!

Then, we went to Wally World to buy underwear. I probably spent 15 minutes talking her out of underwear that had "pictures" on it (priced at 9 for $10)so I could buy her 12 pairs for $6.00. I found some with butterflies, so she accepted them.


The washing machine quit. Well, not entirely. Actually, it simply stopped agitating. Of course it did! I almost laughed at the inevitable timeliness of it.

We did a ton of research on the Internet last night--pulled the agitator out of the machine (with ropes and a 1x2 and all sorts of groans, grunts and drama)--and we diagnosed our problem--as it turns out, correctly! The agitator coupling--or the plastic bit which connects the agitator to the gizmo/gear which actually does the agitating was completelyl worn on the inside where it attaches to the gear/gizmo.

How much does this vital bit of plastic cost? $7.55. The husband bought it this morning and had to buy a new bolt to go with it. Total cost: $10.00


Two weeks ago, my husband's Skilsaw stopped working. Just up and quit. He says to me, "You can get me a Skilsaw for Christmas and you know, I'd really like one of those with the base."

Last week, we looked through a few fliers. They are way more than we really want to pay right now.

Late, late last night my one and only says to me: "Hey, look up Skilsaws."

It could just be another $10.00 repair!

*No references to Communism intended.

PS. The first load of clothes I washed came out cleaner than I've seen our clothes in a long, long time.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I never knew...

My emotions are all out of whack these days. Angry words fly out of my mouth before I even know I'm angry. If I feel sad, I'm sobbing uncontrollably within minutes. The only thing I'm not experiencing to extreme is joy--and I don't want to think about that, or I'll start crying again. Sheesh.

It's dangerous, though. My usual "coping Strategy" for emotion is to smoke. (Surprise!) I was feeling the urge very strongly this morning...and realised that what was upsetting me would not go away if I had a cigarette. To boost that thought, I did a little reading. I'm shocked.

I learned a few things about smoking I never "knew" before.

  • Cigarettes are one of the few consumer products that aren't regulated. I knew this--it just hasn't ever struck me before as a rather dangerous thing.

  • Nicotine acts as a vasoconstrictor, meaning it decreases the diameter of your blood vessels and makes it more difficult for blood to flow throughout the body; nicotine also contributes to increased arterial plaque buildup. This forces the heart to work harder and can lead to higher blood pressure and heart attack. More obvious effects of nicotine are cold or clammy hands and feet. Although the heart works harder to pump blood through narrow blood vessels, it isn’t strong enough to get enough blood to the hands and feet to keep them warm.
    Hooray! I'm looking forward to having warmer hands and feet!

  • Carbon Monoxide mechanism of action:
    Every single cell in the body requires oxygen to stay alive. Normally, red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body by attaching it to a molecule called hemoglobin. Think of this as a lock and key process… When oxygen (the key) attaches into hemoglobin (the lock), everything is good. Your muscles work efficiently and your body is happy. However, when you smoke, carbon monoxide attaches itself to hemoglobin in place of oxygen and is carried throughout the body. As a result, you start to feel tired, sluggish, and short of breath since your brain, muscles, and lungs are not getting enough oxygen. Eventually the carbon monoxide falls off or the red blood cells are replaced; however, more carbon monoxide enters the body through continued smoking.
    I really do feel more energetic. And it has come as a complete surprise. Last night I was looking up exercises on the net. I feel more "alive" too--even though my concentration has been utterly shot these past few days!

It's funny. I feel like I've lost ten pounds. I actually got on the scales to check--and I was perplexed to note that I've actually gained (about 3, nothing to worry about). But now that I know this about the CO, it makes sense to me.

This morning, I walked briskly--two times! Once on the way to Church and once on the way back. I have no idea how many years it has been since I've walked briskly. It was really cold out there--especially with the wind. I didn't even realise how fast I was walking until my daughter started lagging behind after walking with me for only five minutes!

I have always blamed my colds hands and feet on my weight. I have always blamed my shortness of breath on my weight, too. (After all, it only came upon me after exertion. If I didn't move, I was fine!) I have always blamed my sluggishness on my lack of sleep.

It's funny--knowing all this is great--but it doesn't relieve me from having to fight the battle of my urge to smoke. Strange. It's like the cravings have a life of their own completely separate from my brain or will. I just have to hold out one minute longer than the craving.




Keep praying, if you do. Thanks.

Added Later--
My Mom came over today. I went to give her a hug--and had to back away. Ugh. The smell! (She's a smoker).
My husband has not complained about the smell ever...not once in eleven years. I'm beginning to think he's "smelling-impaired." Man, I wish I still was.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

3 Days Quit

The QuitNet gadget stats this morning:

  • 3 Days, 12 hours, 50 minutes 16 seconds smoke free

  • 88 cigarettes not smoked

  • $33.66 and 16 hours of my life saved.

Strangely, I don't actually feel all that different--could be the combination of the meds and the patch. The urges are passing, but I'm still fighting the first and last smoke of the day, and the one after every meal.

This is progress!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Longest Day

This is from Quitnet--I used the dog's name for a username!
Isn't that neat?
I love it.
Though this day really can't be over too soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Today is my son's 11th Birthday. He'll get all sorts of great presents he wants--and when the stress of the day is over, I'll give him another present tomorrow. He won't think it exciting. In fact, he probably won't even notice it. And it won't be his gift exclusively, either.

Yep, I'm going on the patch!

Cigarettes now cost about $96 for a carton of 8 packs. I smoke(d) a pack a day. That's $360.00/month.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Another Duh Moment...

We're working on creating a budget--and I've set an amount for spending on food.

I'm trying to keep to that--even though I blew 2/3rds of the food budget before I'd read up on Dave Ramsey, reacquainted myself with Ms. Hunt, etc...

Last night I had to go out for dog food and a couple of other things.

For the first time in YEARS, I looked at the receipt when I got home.

There it was: $30.85 for the bag of dog food and $17.85 for a six pack of paper towels. In both cases, I had simply grabbed the wrong package.

So, I took them back to the store again. With tax, I was refunded $50.52

You know what I bought, then?
Tiny baking M&M's to decorate my son's upcoming Birthday cake.
A small bulk food bag of chocolate almonds.
A big brick of cheese.
Two 750g containers of yogurt.
6 Paper towels
dog food
a package of 12 buns
Grand Total: $41.19

It's always a good idea to check the receipt. (Duh.) I don't even want to think about what I may have missed over the years.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Not chortling, anymore....

The furnace has been something of a wake-up call for me.

Let's just say, I now fully understand what the husband means when he says, "We can't afford it, we have debt."

In the past, I read Mary Hunt. Last weekend, I read Dave Ramsey. They say essentially the same thing. It's so reassuring. I like Ramsey's plan over Mary's only because Ramsey wisely advises doing things one step at a time. Perhaps I mis-read Ms. Hunt, but when I tried her program in the past, I tried to implement everything at once--it was slow going and very fragile. Something came up, I forget what (probably a repair on an old truck we no longer own) and de-railed everything until we are at the point we are at today.

We are very lucky--the husband has always insisted we not use the credit card for anything except "emergencies." We can pay that off in full by the next statement date. The bugaboo, is, of course, our line of credit (wherein 100% of our debt--of all kinds) resides. It's a Home Equity loan --so it's actually piddly in comparison to the "value" of our home--but it isn't "piddly" with respect to my husband's annual income. If nothing else, this economic crises has wakened me to the precariousness of taking on debt someone else thinks you can afford.

Nu uh. Not anymore.
We get to decide--and so we're taking control.

Wish us luck.
(We've already had our first tiff.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy to Report

I took the boy and the dog for a brisk twenty minute walk today, before supper. I converted a crock pot recipe so I could stick it in the oven (and warm up the kitchen) and we headed out.

He talked the whole way about his bionicles. I just let it go over my head.

I've made up a weekly checklist--for me--based on Bob Green's Best Life plan. I re-read phase one last night and it struck me again how sensible it is.

I want to tread very carefully with the boy. There are a lot of bad eating habits to change.

and hey,


Wednesday, October 8, 2008


What an ugly, ugly word.

An adult is obese if his BMI is 30 or greater.
BMI = Body Mass Index.
There's a handy dandy calculator here.
My BMI is 33.9

Food is much to difficult to think about, right now. Instead, even though it is cold, even though winter is coming, even though going outside is tough, I want to focus on physical activity.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adults need 150 minutes a week of moderately intense excercise (such as a brisk walk). That's three 10 minute walks, 5 days a week. They also encourage muscle work twice a week. Personally, I think it's crucial. I just may devise a simple stretching and muscle toning regime. I wonder what resistence bands cost?

And children need one hour a day! This includes all kinds, though. Muscle resistence, bone strengthenng and aerobic activity. Yikes.

My poor kids. I don't give them that much time. My daughter will grab her bike and ride up and down the alley--but my son? When I send him outside, he grabs a book to read. He's even tried that on family walks! According to the numbrs at the CDC site, he's in the 97th percentile for boys his age and height with respect to his weight. Yes. He's heavier than 97% of his fellows. I really need to stop being in denial about the child I used to refer to as my "Biafra boy."

What am I going to do?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The most appalling book

has me utterly fascinated. I'm drawn into this morass of emotion, of unbelievable highs and suicidal lows: the diary of a food addict.

She keeps mentioning a checklist: a list of things to do to "become thin." I'm wondering if such an approach might work for me. It certainly does for school--I make up a chart with all of our subjects each week and type in our lessons for each day of the week. It makes school as "pick up and go" as possible and it really works.

What would go on a diet checklist?

Food groups.
In fact, now that I think of it, Weight Watchers was sort of a checklist for me. So many breads a day, so many fruits, a number of vegetables. Once you know your portion sizes--you can eat whatever you "want"--and as long as you keep to the checklist--and write down what you eat, you won't go overboard.

I am not a believer in calorie restricted diets. In fact, I've often idly wondered what it would be like to eat the calories required at my "ideal" weight--that way I'd never have to adjust. And it could only be called a "diet" in the way the word is really intended--an eating plan or regimen.

Of course, the unknown and extremely influential factor here is exercise. It's ironic. The more one weighs, the harder it is to move. The more weight one loses, the faster one can lose it. Based on a weight loss of a total of one pound a week (which would mean about 75 weeks for me--what's that--a year and a half?) I'd expect to see next to no movement on the scales for the first few months, then a lot of weight loss, then a plateauing as I reach the goal.

What a strange way to envision weight loss!
And wholly uninspiring.

The Forecast

We'll be fine.

The furnace will be installed Firday. We can make it until then, even though we drop into the negative numbers for the first time this week. We had a wonderfully warm spell all of last week, but it has turned.

Yesterday, (Mon)
High: 13 C, 55 F
Low: 5 C, 41 F
It was gorgeous: golden and sunny. We even had Bible study outside. It was only cold when the wind blew up. My daughter wrapped herself in a blanket. "Just like camping."

Today (Tues)
High: 15 C, 59 F
Low: 3 C, 39.2 F

High: 8 C, 46.4 F
Low, 5 C, 41 F

High: 9 C, 48.2 F
Low: -4 C, 24.8 F

High: 7 C, 44.6 F
Low: -5 C, 23 F

High: 10 C, 50 F
Low: -5C, 23F

But who cares! We should be warm and toasty by then!

We've decided on a Lennox, 92.0 % efficiency with the variable speed DC motor. 7,000 btu.

It was either that or a Kenmore. The Lennox was a bit more expensive, but 1) I actually figured out how to look up stock recommendations on Google finance (Wende, aren't you proud?) and just liked the look of Lennox better. 2) The husband was a bit concerned that with the Kenmore, it wasn't entirely clear who would be manufacturing the furnace. And 3), service from the folk selling us the Lennox seemed to be top notch. They're local (no 1-800 number to a "call centre") and they have a live person taking their calls. Apparently, we get bumped up in the proirity sequence for service, too, for having purchased out furnace from them.

Cost: $6,000. The furnace itself is only about 1/2, though. The installers have to cut two separate holes into my basement walls for air exchange, intake and exhaust, install a pump and small tube to "exhaust" the water the furnace will produce (and cut into out sewer stack for it to drain). They have to re-line our chimney (less exhaust means we need a smaller channel inside it) and cap it. And then, of course, because new efficient models are smaller, they need to fit sheet metal around our current ducting.

And yes, apparently they can do all this in one day. Friday. None too soon.

Friday, October 3, 2008

For All You Writers Out There....

This is, of course, targeted at kids.
But I thought that it might be of interest to you to know there are free novel writing workbooks.

If you want them.

If you think you can even write a novel that way.

If you think it might just be fun to give it a whirl.

I recommend the elementary one, actually. It's just more fun to call the antagonist a "villian."

By the by, if you feel yo have 50,000 words (good or bad) fighting to get out in the month of November, there's some sort of contest or challenge thingy.
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