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Being A Good Neighbor vs Being a Bully

One of the great things about blogging is that you get to vent.   Today, I’m venting.  It’s better than talking to myself for 30 minutes and still being angry.

Pretend that you are sleeping and your outside dogs start barking non-stop at 11pm.  When you go to check on them, you notice that they are barking at a woman in your neighbor’s back yard that is fiddling with their back door.  You suspect foul play.  Here are a few scenarios, let me know in the comments which one sounds like the best way to handle the situation…

Stranger Danger

Possible Ways to Handle an Unknown Person at Your Neighbor’s House

A)  Call the police.  They can handle it.

B)  Call your neighbor and see if she was expecting anyone.

C)  Ask the stranger who she is and why she is fiddling with the back door.  Verify her response by calling your neighbor’s cell phone.  Then give your dogs some treats to keep them quiet and go back to bed.

D)  Wait until the unknown woman is inside your neighbor’s home.  Then walk to the front yard, see a car you don’t recognize with a young male driver, and ask the driver who he is and who the woman is.  Blow off his reply that he drove the woman to the house since she is their hired pet sitter.  Also blow off that he politely suggested that he should ask the pet sitter for any info since he just drove and doesn’t have any contact info himself.  Finally give up and find the strange woman in the house.  Ask the woman who she is and why she is at the house at 11pm.  Then get visibly angry when she lets you know that she’s a pet sitter who was letting the pups in for the night at an agreed upon late hour so that they wouldn’t have to hold their bladders longer than necessary.  Call her unprofessional and threaten to call the police, but then ignore her suggestion that you should so that she could show the police the contract.  She won’t show you the contract since she isn’t authorized to share that with you.  Stomp away and call the home owner and verify that she did indeed hire a pet sitter.  THEN, come back and tell the pet sitter yet again that she is unprofessional and should keep in mind your dogs, your sleep schedule, and that she should stop looking so suspicious.  Stomp away.  The next week, get the contact information for that same pet sitting service from your neighbor.  Two weeks later, your wife will call them and ask them to pet sit for you over Christmas.

If You Chose…

If you chose A, B, or C, yay!!!  Calling the police, calling your neighbor, or just figuring out what is happening are all great ways to get your questions answered and to protect your neighbor’s home.  If you answered D, then I would never pet sit for you and be flabbergasted that you would even call and ask.

The Situation

As you may have surmised, option D happened.  While I was in Dallas, Mandy handled a pet sitting job in the neighborhood near us.  She had met the family in advance since we knew that she would be covering the job.  The dogs were to be let out in the morning and brought into the house at night.  Mandy followed our plan and her boyfriend, our other roommate H, drove her to the home at night and waited in the car.  The next door neighbor incident happened the very first night.

No Bullies

Mandy called me to let me know what happened and I was dumbfounded.  I completely understand wanting to know what a stranger is up to, but I don’t understand why he kept harassing Mandy after he understood and verified what was going on.  Mandy changed her schedule to come at 9pm instead of 11pm for the rest of the week, but that did lead to one potty accident that I really think could have been avoided.

My Thoughts

But I will be honest, I was not frustrated because of the potty accident.  I was frustrated because the neighbor could have been polite or at least apologetic after he verified everything.  Instead, he decided to stay on the offensive and ended up berating Mandy until she called me while she was jittery and nearly crying.

I really couldn’t believe it when his wife called me late last week and asked if I could pet sit for their outside dogs.  She was explaining that the dogs could be aggressive if they didn’t know me and was planning on introducing me to them, but that is when I interrupted her and asked if her husband was the one that harassed Mandy even after he knew what was going on.  She said that he was just trying to figure out why she was fiddling with the door and why she didn’t know the home owner’s name.  I replied that he could have gone about figuring out the whole situation without being rude and bullying a lady until she cried.  I also mentioned that my pet sitter had all of the home owner’s info when he asked, but that her driver had explained that he wasn’t privy to that info since he was just driving and staying in the car.  I stated that we would never work for someone who would handle the situation in the way he handled it and hung up.

I then called the original client just to let them know why they may be receiving an irate call from their neighbor.  I was actually surprised that our client was pleased that her home was watched so well and didn’t seem to have a problem with the way her neighbor handled Mandy at all.  Wow.  Either she doesn’t know how long after the facts were clear that he continued to berate Mandy, or maybe I should just avoid that whole street.

Mean People

Bullying behavior should never be appreciated or encouraged.  It’s not just a good lesson for children.  And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I generally like working with animals more than people.

Sick Sucks

I cannot get over a stupid cough!  I have had drainage issues down my throat for about a week now, and this silly cough is just getting annoying!

Medicines

I have tried a few meds now.  Tussin, off brand cold and flu pills, off brand Sudafed, allergy pills, off brand Mucinex, off brand Nyquil, and cough drops have been my main stuff so far.  Obviously, not at the same time.  ;-)  I’m just happy that Dollar Tree has most of this stuff for $1 each since I’ve been running out of my extra over the last few days.

I feel like I’m better except then I have a coughing fit and lose the positivity.

What Works for You?

So, what is your go-to for drainage and coughing?  Am I missing a miracle drug or home remedy?  Please share!

PS  This post ended up being short because I fell asleep while writing it at 11pm at night, LOL.

 

Whew! That Was Quite a Week!!!

I have a lot to catch you all up on!  It’s not extremely finance-related, but it’s a bunch none-the-less.

Board Game Geek Convention 2014

The Board Game Geek Convention is an annual board gaming extravaganza in Dallas, TX.  I usually spend the time socializing and playing social games like Reverse Charades.  This year, I volunteered to be on Team Geek for the first time.  From November 18-23, I was supposed to be volunteering a grand total of around 16-20 hours.  I ended up volunteering about 35 hours.  Oops.  But it was fun and I’d do it again.  I got to know some amazing people, was Cat Woman yet again for a day or two, and generally had an amazing time.  Since we shared our hotel room, it ended up costing us about $600 total:

  • My husband’s ticket – $85
  • Hotel – $350
  • Gas – $25
  • Food – $150
  • Total = $610

Friends Thanksgiving

We got back from BGG Con on November 23, and then got ready to host Friends Thanksgiving November 26.  This was my husband’s third year of inviting some friends over the day before Thanksgiving for a feast and general, stress-free hangout time.  Mr. BFS cooks absolutely everything except the sweet potatoes (that’s me, lol):

  • A 23-Pound Turkey
  • Sausage Cornbread Dressing
  • 5 Pounds of Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes (I’ve cut back the butter and brown sugar about 25-35%)
  • Steamed Broccoli
  • Butternut Squash
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Green Beans
  • Peas
  • Corn Bread
  • Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
  • 2 Apple Pies
  • Total Paid for Groceries = $105

Family

We saw both sides of our family last week too.  I made more sweet potatoes for my in-laws’ Thanksgiving for Thursday, and my family stopped by after cutting down their Christmas tree on Black Friday.  On Saturday, I watched my little sister’s first 3D sonogram live through a streaming site.  How cool is it that she’s in Austin and I got to see everything in Houston at the same time?!  Here are some creepy yet super cool pictures of my upcoming nephew…I should be an Aunt in about 3 months…

Okay, so these pictures remind me of aliens, but it's amazingly cool that my sister is growing a little person inside of her!

Okay, so these pictures remind me of aliens, but it’s amazingly cool that my sister is growing a little person inside of her!

Pet Sitting (and the Lack of Internet)

I also may have mentioned in passing that I was pet sitting at someone else’s home from November 15 through this morning, December 1. Well, minus the time we were at BGG Con in Dallas.  Anyway, it went great, but their internet stopped working for me around Thanksgiving, so I’ve been working mainly from my phone for the last few days.  It’s nice to be back online.

Like I said, whew!!!  Hope your last two weeks were awesome but maybe less busy!

Do You Prioritize Sleep?

Over the last 4.5 years of blogging, a bunch of you have asked about how I keep up with it all.  My responses have all boiled down to making and following lists and many nights with about 5-6 hours of sleep.  Well, I’m getting a little older every day just like you.  It may be time for me to admit that I need to prioritize sleep.

The Power of Sleep

If I get 7+ hours of sleep, I don’t feel like I need a nap right after lunch.  That mid-afternoon sluggishness just disappears.  It feels like my head is clearer, I can accomplish more in less time, and I can stay perky pretty much all day.  When I get 5 hours or less of sleep in a night, I feel like a sloth on and off all day, my lack of productivity turns me into a whiny grouch, and I have fallen asleep at my laptop before…

Tired

Tricks to Sleep

The first step for me was to consciously acknowledge that I need more sleep.  Then I had to mentally place sleep time before other things in my daily priority list.  Here are some tricks that I am using to carve out at least 7 hours a night (usually 2am through 9am):

  • I have an 11pm alarm to remind me to start wrapping up my evening.
  • I try not to eat after 11pm (3 hours before bed) since I can’t fall asleep well if I’m full.
  • I make a list of everything bouncing around in my head so it’ll be there for me in the morning.
  • If I am exhausted at 1am and still haven’t finished all that I need to do, I pick the most important task left and go to sleep when it’s done.  I then play catchup in the morning.
  • If I have random bursts of energy during the day, I ride them out and relish the productivity.
  • If I just feel blah, I force myself to do all of the daily minimums plus at least 1 bonus item from my lists.
  • If my sleep is interrupted, I allow myself to sleep later if I don’t have a pet sitting job scheduled or take that much of a nap after my morning jobs.
  • When I am ready to go to bed, I lower the temperature for the night since I sleep better when I can stay cool all night long.
  • If I can’t fall asleep, I try thinking of a recent dream.  That seems to help me fade off faster.
  • When I’m too excited to sleep, I think of dream situations like winning $10,000,000 and what I would do first.  That seems to help me fade off too.
  • Last resort, I do a shot of rum.  I’ve only had to do this about 3 times in the last 5 years.  It works but I rather not depend on any drug or sleep aid, even small doses of alcohol, LOL.

What tips or tricks help you sleep?  I’ve heard that meditation can do wonders – I think that is similar to what I’m accomplishing with day dreaming.  But let me know if it’s significantly different.  :-)

 

 

Balancing Money, Fun, Work, and the Rest of Life

This past July was my 3 year mark for going self-employed.  I was just thinking of how I’ve been balancing life since I took that leap.

Balance

Money

Our self-employed income has been a roller-coaster, but we’ve spent the last 3 years bringing in more than we did when we worked for “classic” jobs.  At our highest-paid point pre-2011, we were making about $80,000 a year before taxes.  Now we bring in about $100,000-$120,000 a year.  It’s not triple or anything, but it’s totally stellar for us since we enjoy it more than our jobs before.  That is our only goal.

We figured out early on that self-employment income was less stable than we appreciate, so we branched out a bit since 2011.  My husband has been officiating varsity and sub-varsity football and softball for years.  Our friends rent out a room from us too.  In 2012, we bought our new house and started renting out our first one.  I also published my first eBook about making money through blogging.  In 2013, we paid off the rental home.  I then published my less popular eBook about budgeting, lol.  Early this year, 2014, I started a professional pet sitting business and have been busy with dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and snakes since then.

In short, we have online income, rental income, sports officiating for a big chunk of the year, and a pet sitting business.  Diversification is the key to stressing less.  More work, but less stress.  Weird, right?

Work and Fun

I haven’t ever been a person to forget the good things in life.  Even in my busiest 100+ hour work weeks, I made sure to set an evening or two aside for dinners with friends or family events.  My personal priorities lead me to work to live, not live to work.

But it can get difficult since our online work comes in waves and pet sitting can be light to OMG heavy depending on the week.  My “normal” day (including most weekends) includes at least 6 hours online and another 2-3 a day with pet sitting.  During the busiest weeks, that becomes 6-10 hours online and 5-6 hours with pet sitting.  It really fluctuates.

My husband’s sports officiating usually spans from September through November and January through April, which means he only has time for himself during those months when he isn’t spending that evening reffing.

Despite that, we have a social life, woot!  We’re proud since we didn’t actually have much of a life before our late 20’s.  But we met our people.  Now there are monthly board gaming potlucks, weekly hangouts, girls’ nights, dinners out occasionally, and even some movie nights.  I’m giddy, lol.

Balancing Life

We refuse to stop everything else just for money though.  Money is pointless if we no longer have anyone to eat out with, take vacations with, laugh with, etc.  People and experiences…that’s what makes up a solid life, right?  That said, we schedule in our friend time just like we do with work hours.

I highly suggest setting at least 3-4 hours a week aside in a single block every week just for you.  It’s like paying yourself first.  You owe it to you.  :-)

As of right now, I balance everything like we all do.  I do my best and try to base my to-do decisions on my pers0nal priorities.

Have you learned any new tricks that you can teach to all of us?

Maturity…It Sneaks Up On You

My hubby was putting chips back in the pantry after lunch on Wednesday, and a jar of delicious Prego took a dive straight into our tile floor.  It was a glass-shattery mess with chunky sauce. But you know what?  We got his feet out unscathed, I picked up the glass pieces while he changed clothes, and we had it cleaned up in less than 10 minutes.  All while enjoying the delicious scent of marinara.

No stomping, no snipey comments, and no pouty problems.  HALLELUJAH!!!

Found at http://www.despair.com/maturity.html

Found at http://www.despair.com/maturity.html

Maturity

You may not see the miracle in this since you may not have had problems handling stuff.  But my husband and I have always had pretty much the exact same problem whenever anything crappy happened.  The one who was involved would get all pissy, and that would rub off on the other one of us really quickly.  It usually only lasted a little while, but it was annoying as hell and we’ve both been trying to work on our inner-child issues for years.  Really, it’s been a problem for both of us since we met in 2001.

But sometime in the last couple of years, maturity snuck up on us.  Heck, in the last month, we felt like our house was attacking us with water and fire, BUT we handled it like pros!  Pros that ended up getting everything fixed for free.  Woot!

So, Life, BRING IT ON!  Home maintenance, PSHH, we got that!  Car crap, check!  Sauce breakage breakdowns no more!  Maturity, thy name is Crystal!!!  ;-)

Did maturity sneak up on you too?

My Home Feels Like Home Again

How It Started

In mid-October, I wrote about a really bad week.  I had come home from pet sitting at 5:30am and our bed was soaked from water that came in through our ceiling fan.  A day later, a crack opened up in the ceiling of our living room.  A day after that, our oven’s top heating element literally exploded in a burst of fireworks and flames.  A couple of days after that, my husband received a red light camera citation.  It was simply a crappy week.

Last Update

A few days after I told you about all of those problems, I wrote an update for you.

  • We paid the $79 ticket without any problems.  You can read that update post to see why I was laughing hysterically as I electronically sent them money.
  • Our roof was inspected by the builder’s chosen roofing company, and they blamed wind-driven rain.  So I was scheduling a guy to fix everything.
  • An AWFUL oven technician came out on behalf of GE Appliances and ticked me off badly.  GE decided to send me the part for free and schedule an appointment for a different technician to come out and install it for me after a couple of sincere and polite, though not perky, phone calls.

Handling the Issues

I ended up scheduling an all-in-one handyman for the roof and ceiling issues that I knew about thanks to a friend.  He came over, took a quick look around, and quoted $400 to elongate the vent hood to decrease the risk of wind-driven rain in the future and to patch the crack in the ceiling.

A few days later, he arrived as planned…and found a crack in the vent base on the roof in less than 5 minutes.

It wasn’t wind-driven rain damage!  It was a crack caused by scoring the vent base when they cut a shingle to fit!  The crack must have opened up during the storm and that’s where all of the water came from.  Mystery solved.

It did mean that he spent longer on the roof since he sealed the crack and the shingle very well.  He also elongated the vent hood just in case.  While he was handling that, I was sending videos and pictures to my home builder and requesting them to reimburse me for every dime…

Cut Shingle

That is what a shingle looks like that was cut down the middle to fit in front of the vent hood…

Crack in the Vent Hood / Vent Base

And that is the crack in the vent base that let all the water into my ceiling…

Once he was done outside, he also finished patching up my ceiling inside.

Ceiling Damage

This is what the ceiling crack had turned into within 3 days.

Fixed Ceiling

Goodbye crack!

His final bill came to $490 on Monday, October 20, 2014. I paid it, of course.  Then I texted a picture of that invoice to my home builder and crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t fight me too hard on the claim.

With the oven, they forgot to send me the element.  But I expected that, and called the Tuesday it was supposed to arrive to check on it since my service appointment was set for Thursday. They overnighted me the part.  :-)  The technician arrived Thursday as planned. He had it fixed in less than 15 minutes. He also showed me how to do it if it ever happened again, showed me how to replace the burnt out light bulb without unscrewing anything, and walked me through taking off the front oven door to be able to reach into it easier.  Woot!

Oven with Obvious Gap

This was our broken oven…

 

Working Oven

Now our oven works again!

Life is Good Again

I’m happy to report that home feels like home again.  :-)  The oven was fixed for free.  The roof and ceiling damage was reimbursed completely by my home builder on Halloween.  The stray dog was officially adopted.  And the red-light citation was handled.  My house feels less broken.  Now to just finish cleaning up all of the Halloween decorations and random party stuff.  :-D

How are you doing right now?  Get some stuff off of your to-do list?