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I Whine But Want to Help!

My biggest complaints in the last couple of weeks have been that I am not sleeping enough and my back aches.  Pet sitting has a little break right now and I’m catching up on sleep, which is helping my back.  Hear that?  I didn’t get enough sleep and my back aches.

My Friends

Now, at the same time:

- A friend is dealing with a lifetime illness and a current issue that made her bedridden for weeks.
- Another is dealing with a stalky ex who was abusive.
- Another is dealing with an immature and vindictive ex and an aggressive child.
- Another is dealing with a cheating spouse.
- Another is getting official with receiving back child support.
- Another is in the middle of law problems thanks to a confused father-in-law and his evil family.
- Another has been having debilitating headaches for years.
- Another has been having different medical issues that slows him down on and off.
- Another is medically depressed and probably has been for about a decade.
- Another has medical problems that doctors can’t diagnose and post-partum depression.
- Another is now finishing the raising of her 18 year old cousin even though she’s just 26 and her fiancé who’s helping with the schedule is 23.  And they are better parents than the 18 year old ever had before.  Go figure.

That list is what I could remember in less than 5 minutes.  There are more and these are close friends!  Obviously, these life issues are bigger than mine.  Yet, I think it’s okay to complain about my sleepiness and back.  I’m self-centered.  BUT, that’s okay.

Am I Self Centered? Joke

Thank You, Friends

We’re all self-centered.  And, this is odd but awesome, my friends don’t seem to mind my whining.  I’m here for them, and they are here for me.  HOW AMAZING IS THAT?!  Friends kick butt.

That said, I’m not so full of myself that I think my achy back matters as much as the list above.  In fact, I’ve had these people in my head.  Their problems are on my mind.  I want to help and I don’t know how.  The ideas that I have at first are all no-go’s.  I really want to beat the living crap out of the abusive ex.  I want to slap the back of the heads of the cheating spouse, the deadbeat dad, and the greedy family.  And I wish I had magical powers to fix all of the medical issues.  See below for my newest idea!!!

So, to all of my friends, I hope you will be okay.  I hope you know that I’m here for you.  I hope you know that I wish I had magical powers and could make things better for you.  Thank you for being my friends.

Thank You!

UPDATE 4/9/14 at 10:45am – I do know how I can help!  BFS is going to host a fundraiser once a month for a different charity each time.  I will come up with a fun way that we can all participate and I’ll match the contribution up to a certain dollar amount each time with my own fun money.  I’ll brainstorm on how to work out the details on this, but know that fundraising drives are coming and they will be fun in some way – not just money begging!  Maybe I’ll auction off my guest posting services or something…any ideas are welcome!!!

What’s Your Starfish?

Have you seen this story/quote from Loren Eiseley?

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,
“It made a difference for that one.”


My Starfish

I’ve mentioned how important volunteering is to me before.  I get a little blue if I don’t help out regularly – the world seems like everything in my head and I lose perspective.  That is one reason I became a “Big” in Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  It’s also one of the reasons I wanted to start fostering dogs again.  It’s good to get out of my own head for a while and concentrate on someone or something else.

I know that the dogs that I helped in the Houston SPCA for the main year I was there were just a few in thousands, the people I delivered meals for with Meals on Wheels would have had a different driver if I wasn’t there, and the two ladies I bonded with in hospice care both had family that was there for them too…BUT, I helped.  It doesn’t matter if I could only help a few since a few is definitely better than none.  I’m keeping that little story in mind when I get bogged down with how insignificant each of us seem individually…if we all contribute just a little, we’d make an astounding difference.

What’s your starfish?

ROCKED Career Day!!!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned speaking at an upcoming career day at a middle school.  Well, that happened last Friday and it went REALLY well!!!  Yay!!!

My Presentation

Just a quick review – I was asked to cover these main points:

  • My title.
  • Length of time in my position.
  • Training, education, or background needed for my job.
  • Three important duties of my job.
  • Whether or not I wear a uniform.
  • Talk about equipment or tools needed for my job.
  • What do I like most about what I do.
  • What kind of benefits I get (like insurance, traveling, etc.).
  • What’s one thing that I would like to change.
  • A funny or unusual story about my job.
  • What other job I could get with my training/experience.

I did cover everything that they asked for, but I ended up concentrating on a few main points that I think matter the most:

  • Find your passion.  You can make money with anything with some imagination and if you put in the work to be good at it.
  • Your reputation matters!  If you’re a slacker, that rep will follow you and mess up your future options.
  • Care!  “I don’t know” will get you no where.

I also made them this handout:

You Can Be Your Own Success Story!!!

Success Stories at Under 18

  1. Ashley Qualls – Created when she was 14 years old.  Made enough to buy her own house before she was 17 and turned down a $1.5 million offer to buy her site.
  2. Farrah Gray – Created his own specialty food company, Farr-Out Foods, when he was 13.  Was a millionaire by 14.  Started the Farrah Gray Foundation at age 15 and uses his own money to fund literacy programs and scholarships.
  3. Abbey Fleck – Invented the Makin’ Bacon Dish when she was just 8 years old!  Sold 100,000 by the time she was 11.
  4. Richie Stachowski – Invented the under-water megaphone at age 11 and made more than $500,000 in the first year.
  5. Kelly Reinhart – Invented the Thigh Pack, a device that helps kids tote around their hand-held video games and electronics, at age 9.  Had over $1 million in orders in her first year and even met with President George W. Bush since it was being considered for military use.
  6. Elise and Evan MacMillan – Started their farm-themed chocolate company when she was 10 and he was 13.  Ended up selling their company just a couple of years later for an undisclosed, but large, amount.
  7. Leanna Archer – Started her own line of natural hair care products at age 9.  Within 3 years, she had 3 employees and was making 6 figures per year (that is between $100,000 and $999,999 per year).
  8. John Magennis – Started his web design business at age 14.  Was a millionaire by age 17 and he says it’s because of his passion for the business.
  9. Sarah Buckel – Invented magnetic locker decorations in 8th grade and netted $1 million her first year.
  10. Tyler Dikman – Had a lemonade stand at age 5.  Was a magic performer for birthday parties at age 10.  Then created, a computer supply business, at age 15.  Was a millionaire by age 17.


  1. Lemonade stand
  2. Pet sitting
  3. Baby sitting
  4. Dog walking
  5. Blogging
  6. Tutoring
  7. Yard work
  8. Paper route
  9. Car Wash
  10. Selling crafts (jewelry, key chains, covers for electronics, book covers, art, etc.)
  11. _______________________________________________________________
  12. _______________________________________________________________
  13. _______________________________________________________________
  14. _______________________________________________________________
  15. _______________________________________________________________

Feel free to email me, Crystal Stemberger, any time to ask questions about blogging or self-employment.  Ask for permission first.  My email is

Source for young entrepreneur list –

The Reception

I ended up speaking to about 100 kids in 3 different classes.  The majority seemed to at least enjoy the half hour, and then there were about a dozen that really got into it and a dozen that pretty much ignored me.  I call that a success!

I made eye contact with as many kids as possible, got them involved with personal questions, and surprised them a few times with my general craziness.  I had fun with them.  I hope they felt the same.

Meeting Other Cool People

Other than speaking to the kids, I also got to hang out with the other speakers for their hosted breakfast and lunch.  Before breakfast, I had a great time swapping stories with a couple of members of the local SWAT team, a cool cop, and then I started chatting with two engineers.  One of them ended up being my friend’s dad!  That was fun.  He was really nice.

At lunch I started chatting more with my friend’s dad again, a sweet lady who had been growing a business with detection dogs for 35 years, and seemed to really get along with a very cool woman from NASA.  I had a lot of fun hearing her take on the not-realistic parts of “Gravity”, the recent Sandra Bullock movie.  She also seemed honestly intrigued by the world of blogs and blog advertising.  I have her card and hope we get to chat again.

Overall, I had a ton of fun and will totally return next year if they ask me back.  :-)

Hope all of your Fridays were as fun!  What have you been up to lately?

Parking Lot Shananigans!

My friend, H, works at a yummy burrito place in downtown Houston.  Their location is within site of the Reliant Center, so their parking lot becomes crazy space for events.  Right now, it’s RODEO time in Houston, Texas…let’s just say that any parking close to Reliant has become VERY important for many people.  Here in lies the problem.

Parking Lot Craziness

The people who own the parking lot in front of the burrito place’s shopping center decided to start offering the spaces for cash.  That means that all of the businesses in that strip lost a TON of business last weekend.  The parking lot attendants were harassing every driver to find out if they were parking for the rodeo or not.  Then there weren’t any spaces available at all.  My friend was taken off the clock and sent home 2 hours into a 5 hour shift.  Her manager had words with the parking lot dude and then just called their lawyer.

No Double Dipping

Isn’t this crazy?  How could someone think they wouldn’t be sued/in trouble for making it impossible for businesses to operate?  I assume that the leases for the strip include x amount of parking, so the parking lot owners are insane for trying to profit twice for the same space without offering anything at all to the businesses that they were going to affect.  It’s just nuts!

My Take

I had to write about – do any of you have any idea what would happen in this situation?

I asked my friend to keep me updated with what she hears about it since it does seem amazingly bizarre to me.  The parking lot’s owner is already being paid for the parking by the businesses in some way – either through the leases or directly – or they wouldn’t be there.  So how in the heck did they think that this would work out?  Isn’t it obvious that you shouldn’t rent out spaces that were already rented for other use?  That’s just double dipping…

I also think that if the businesses get reimbursed some way, they shouldn’t forget about their employees.  My friend wasn’t the only one who lost hours and they all need whatever hours they can get.

What do you think?

Speaking at a Career Day

My friend, Dee, is a very dedicated middle school art teacher.  She approached me a few weeks ago about being a speaker at their upcoming “Career Day” in early March.  It sounds like a great idea, so now I have to come up with a 30 minute presentation about my career.  I’ve done something similar for #FinCon12, so hopefully I just won’t crack in front of middle schoolers.  Here’s what I need to cover.

Points I’ve Been Asked to Cover

  • My title.
  • Length of time in my position.
  • Training, education, or background needed for my job.
  • Three important duties of my job.
  • Whether or not I wear a uniform.
  • Talk about equipment or tools needed for my job.
  • What do I like most about what I do.
  • What kind of benefits I get (like insurance, traveling, etc.).
  • What’s one thing that I would like to change.
  • A funny or unusual story about my job.
  • What other job I could get with my training/experience.

My Presentation So Far

Side Hustle to Self-Employment

I am creating a PowerPoint presentation that includes the points above.  I’m also highlighting a few general pros and cons of self-employment.  For example, you have to find your own insurance, pay more in taxes, and deal with income instability.  But I also get to point out the flexibility, sense of empowerment, and working in your pajamas all day kicks butt.  As the personal finance geek that you all know, I’m also making sure to include a huge section about the importance of diversification and paying attention to their futures.

What else should I include?  From a kid’s point of view, what should I talk about?  From a parent’s point of view, what would you hope I highlight?

Purpose is All That Matters

My husband and I found Downton Abbey through Netflix and jumped in about a week ago.  It’s general plot follows along with an Earl’s family in Britain in the early 20th century.  The character development is enticing to me and the historical and political intrigues keep it from feeling like a simple soap opera.  But as the personal finance geek that I truly am, I just couldn’t help zeroing in on the money aspect of it all.  It’s showing that all of the money in the world doesn’t give a life purpose.

Got Purpose?


During World War I in Downton Abbey, everyone assisted in whatever ways they could.  But after the war was over, that purpose seemed to vanish for a few of the main characters.  This family has true wealth and power, but the end result is still that everyone is just looking for their life’s purpose.  Money provides options.  Money provides comforts.  But money doesn’t provide a person with the meaning of life.  That is up to us.

So for today, I’m putting aside my conversation about my consistent pursuit of financial stability.  Let’s talk about what drives us…

Helping Each Other

So, how do we all find our purpose(s)?

I don’t have the answers.  I try to follow my gut.  Generally, helping others makes me feel “right”, so I make sure to make it a part of my life.  This blog gives me a place to talk with you all and a way for some of you to reach out to me, so I consider it a priority.  Laughing with friends and cuddling with Mr. Pug also feels right.  So the purposes I strive on may not seem grand, but they can lead to sustainable contentment.  That’s my main goal.

What’s yours?

I seem to write out my thoughts for the day, hit publish, and then reply to those of you who add your 2 cents.  But let’s really help each other out.  For today, please feel free to chime in below to each other.  Let’s really look into ourselves and share.  If you have something to say to another commenter, reply.  If we all bounce ideas off of each other, maybe someone who feels lost can be supported.  If we can all use this space to simply help, maybe this can be a refuge of sorts to find ourselves.  Or at least to make a human connection, which can be tricky occasionally.

Have you found your purpose(s)?  Still searching?  Any advice to the rest of us?


Coffee Table or Deadly Device for My Old Dog?

This past weekend went from “having fun” to “ACK!  WHAT THE HECK?!” in a split second.  Our old dog, Miss Doxie, decided to play Superman this past Saturday, and she made a flying leap from the couch to the coffee table…without ever touching the ground.  I guess she decided that the doggy stairs were for losers, or that 15-16 years is long enough to be alive.  All I know is that the last couple of days have sucked and I’ve been an emotional mess.

Dog Fail

Broken Dogs…Ugh…

I honestly thought for a couple of minutes that Miss Doxie had killed herself.  She got up from the floor, wandered about 10 steps, and then just fell over.  I freaked the heck out.  Then I took a deep breath and called my vet.  They were closing in 20 minutes and suggested that she might either be in shock or have given herself a mini-seizure.  We agreed that I should monitor her and bring her in on Monday if she wasn’t better.

Well, she was walking around with a slight limp in half an hour.  Then she ate and drank and just rested.  Sunday seemed about the same.  But Monday afternoon, she started yelping anytime she moved and just couldn’t get comfortable.  I gave her another doggy aspirin (which apparently is like poison according to my vet, and I have now thrown it away) and kenneled her yet again.  She couldn’t stop whining for more than 30 minutes all of Monday night.  I got no real sleep.

We ended up getting fit in for an early appointment on Tuesday, and the vet came to the conclusion that she hurt her neck.  $85 later, she’s on pain meds and a muscle relaxant.  We’ll see if she’s better within the next week…

When you put this on top of the constant steroid pills and eye drops that I have to do with Mr. Pug, and you get a woman that is getting exhausted with broken dogs.

I Knew It Was Coming

All of this whining doesn’t mean that I wasn’t prepared.  I knew we adopted middle-aged dogs.  Miss Doxie was 7 years old when we adopted her from the Houston SPCA in 2005.  Mr. Pug was 6 years old when we adopted him from PugHearts in 2009.  That means that they are turning 16 years old and 11 years old respectively this year.  Older dog maintenance costs more than those healthy middle years.  But that doesn’t take away the pain in the butt.

It’s also getting to be that time where you have to seriously consider your dog’s quality of life.  I don’t think Miss Doxie is ready to check out yet, but she is getting a bit closer.  She’s becoming completely blind, sometimes acts confused and just stands still randomly for a few seconds, and injuries that she would have shaken off 3 years ago are kicking her butt now.  Old age sucks.  I’m just keeping an eye on her to make sure I can make the tough choice when “old age” becomes “wasting away”…I rather never make a dog suffer just because I want them around longer…

How are your pets doing?  Have they ever hurt themselves doing something insane?