Tag Archives: off topic

On accepting my own limitations

Lately, I’d give anything for an extra 12 hours in the day. Between full-time work, daily blogging, my book project, exercise, household chores, and spending time with my husband, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Add to that our travel plans and moving preparations, and I’m completely overwhelmed.

Then there are the projects that I want to do that I just can’t fit into my schedule — the books on my to-read list, the unfinished quilts that have collected dust for 3 years, the piles and piles of clutter that need to be cleared before we pick up and move again, the movies I’ve yet to see, and my poor dog who isn’t walked nearly enough.

I wish I had a solution, but honestly, I don’t. I love that I have such a varied list of interests, and I love that my busy schedule keeps me from ever feeling bored. But I hate the way it feels to see the book on my nightstand, and the bookmark that serves as a painful reminder that I’ve yet to make a dent in it. I hate the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach when I look at my guest room, crammed full of stuff that I haven’t even touched months. I miss having the time to do my favorite relaxing projects that I love — quilting and reading and photography.

It seems that the only solution is to give some of it up, but I can’t choose. So I end up back at the same place — struggling to balance the things that I must do with the things that I love.

As kids, we’re told that we can do it all. As adults, we face the tough reality that it’s just not possible.

How do you find a balance?

Note to self: Never Google “wisdom teeth death”

Tomorrow, an oral surgeon will be ripping my wisdom teeth from my skull.

I’ve been putting this off for over five years, and my fear of surgery is now bordering on pathological. I know I’m being a wuss, but I’ve never had any kind of surgery. I’ve never been sedated in my life. And since I’m a textbook type-A control freak, the idea of being knocked out for an hour while someone drills into my head with power tools is just a little terrifying. It’s not the pain that scares me. It almost seems more appealing to stay awake for the surgery. Almost.

Last Thursday I went in for a consultation. I ended up waiting in the scary little room staring at the x-rays that had doomed me for 45 minutes. I could hear the oral surgeon loudly consulting with the man in the next room. Apparently, he was about 100 years old with a 215/95 blood pressure. They canceled his surgery and called an ambulance because the doctor was convinced he was about to suffer a stroke. I hope he’s okay, and it seems they caught his symptoms early enough that they would be able to treat him, but seriously? Why did I have to end up in the room next to the guy who left the office in an ambulance? I could just picture myself being carted away in a speeding ambulance due to my rare but life-threatening complications.

When the doctor finally came in to talk to me, he spent 20 minutes telling me about risks and possible complications and explaining stitches in my gums and dry sockets and nerve damage. I couldn’t help but think this whole wisdom teeth removal thing was just a bad idea. Those teeth aren’t hurting anything. They’ve been there for years. The only reason I’m removing the things is because my dentist has been telling me to do it for five years.

But this is the responsible thing to do. We don’t know if we’ll continue our dental coverage when we move since we’ll be paying so much for health insurance already, so we’re trying to get any potential problems out of the way now. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I had some serious doubts when I saw my estimated bill, though. Let’s just say, I can think of a million other things I’d rather do with my weekend and my money than have teeth ripped from my skull.

When I got home, I broke my number one rule when it comes to medical care: I Googled my condition. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Google searching any symptom or medical condition, it’s that Google only gives you one prognosis: IMMINENT DEATH.

Sniffles? You’re suffering a rare strain of the flu that will kill you. Headaches? Rush to an emergency room immediately before that aneurism kills you. Mosquito bite? YOU HAVE WEST NILE VIRUS, AND YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I found this.

All of this is to say, I won’t be around this weekend as I recover, and I might not get back to regular posting until Tuesday or Wednesday. I want to try to get some writing done this weekend, but I have no idea how out of it I’ll be. Wish me luck and strength to stop being a wimp.

I’m spending Halloween at home!

jackolanternThis weekend all of my sisters will be in the same state together for the first time since May 2007, and for the first time ever since my youngest niece and nephew were born.

Tony and I are flying to Indiana tonight, and my sister and her family will be there from Seattle, too. I can’t wait to see all five of my nieces and nephews in their costumes and experience the fun of Halloween from the perspective of young kids for the first time, well, since I was the little kid.

But with four families with five kids under the age of 7,  it’s going to be hectic. I don’t know if I’ll have time to check my email, let alone update my blog.

I’ll be back on Sunday with lots of adorable photos to share.  In the meantime, why don’t you tell me: what are you and/or your kids dressing up as for Halloween? I still haven’t come up with a costume, so I’m frantically searching for ideas!

I hope all of you have a safe, fun, and happy Halloween! See you Sunday!

Photo by boxercab

Proof that we’ve been to the beach at least once

Even though Tony and I live 10 minutes from the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast, we’re just not really into the beach. I don’t like to be wet, Tony doesn’t like to be hot, and we’re both too paranoid and neurotic to allow ourselves to get sun tans.

But I just found these pictures of us at the beach from June, and I had to post them to prove that we’ve actually been to the beach at least once.


On a whim one Sunday evening we packed up some books and a blanket and went to the beach for approximately one hour before the sun and the sand and the bugs got to us. Using the parking meter as an excuse, we packed up our books and left, but not before I made Tony pose for at least one picture of himself at the beach smiling. If we’re leaving North Carolina, we should at least have that.

The picture above was my fourth attempt. I kept telling him, “Let’s take it again. SMILE! You look like I’m torturing you!”

This is a more accurate depiction of Tony at the beach:

beach tony

And here I am pretending to LOVE my casual beach lifestyle. Soon I’ll jump into the dirty, fish poop infested water for a dip or maybe even jump on a surfboard despite the high probability that I’ll be attacked by a shark. It could happen. I’ve been watching Shark Week.

beach karen

Searching for a place called home

This month marks the two-year anniversary of our move to North Carolina. We’ve managed to thrive in our relationship and in our finances, but our social life is still at a standstill. We haven’t made many friends, and we really just don’t feel like we fit here. Being home last week only made that clearer to me.

I miss having a place to go for Sunday dinner. I miss getting together with friends for dinner or drinks. I miss having a support network of friends and family close by to help us through the tough times. Being with so many people who love us last week made it clear to me just how hard it’s been for us to get through the last two years alone.

Tony and I are blessed with a wonderful, supportive relationship, and for a long time I thought that we were enough for each other. But the closer we get to starting a family of our own, the more sure I become that we can’t do it alone. We want our kids to know the kind of childhood that we did — surrounded by grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends.

I’ve written before about our tentative plans to move back to Indiana when Tony graduates in December 2010. Last week pretty much cemented our plans. Even though it’s been two whole years, I’m more homesick than ever. I can’t imagine going through a pregnancy and my first year with a newborn without my mom, sisters and best friend there to hold my hand.

Every time I come home, my nieces and nephews have grown into entirely new life stages. The tiny infants I left behind two years ago are walking and talking and looking at me suspiciously because they don’t know me. It breaks my heart.

We’ve struggled with this decision since we began planning our lives together three years ago. We’ve dreamed of living as ex-pats in Europe for a few years or trying life in a new part of the country. But the older we get and the closer we get to starting a family, the more I know we need to be closer to ours. I’m craving a place to call home.

Between college and grad school and the time in between the two, we’ve been living in transition for seven years with another year and a half to go. We’re ready to find a home of our own.

Winding down from a wonderful vacation

We’re home after a marathon 10-day trip to Indiana to see family and friends. Ten days, three cities, 2,000 miles, babies, puppies, family … we’re absolutely exhausted.


Above: Howie and Abby, my sister-in-law’s beagle puppy, take a brief break from their constant wrestling.

As we drove home, I found myself dreading the budget breakdown that always follows a vacation. We had big plans to be as frugal as possible, and we worked really hard at it, but inevitably there is always a little money spent on vacation. We treated friends to dinner to thank them for hosting us. We bought food and drinks on the road. We made a couple of very small impulse purchases at a record store in Indianapolis (about $10 for record albums to play on the used record player my sister’s husband generously gave to us).

blogger eli

Above: My adorable nephew getting an early start blogging.

We budgeted $400 for this trip including gas, food, and entertainment. We’re actually not far off that mark. Gas cost about $200 and we spent about $150 meeting friends for dinner, going out for drinks, and enjoying ourselves. The nice thing about staying with family and friends is that money usually reserved for a hotel can go to more fun.

We’re back now which means back to reality. Back to budgeting, cooking at home, staying in on the weekends, watching what we eat, and waking up early to exercise. No fun, right? But as hard as it is to get back into our routine, I find myself craving that stability. We’ve been living out of our suitcases for 10 days, bouncing from house to house all over Indiana as we visit family and friends, uprooting the dog every 72 hours. We’re all ready for some normalcy.

I’ve written before about how hard it is for me to get back into the swing of things after a vacation. That spendy mentality tends to stick around, especially as we start to come down from the excitement of vacation. We start to feel down and try to console ourselves by bringing back that vacation mentality — overspending and overeating.

But the sooner we get back into our routine, the easier it will be to overcome those feelings. I came back to work yesterday and Tony’s last year of graduate school begins tomorrow. I took yesterday off from the gym, but this morning I was up bright and early. I’ll likely catch up on laundry and tidying tonight.

While the winding down from a vacation can be a downer, I’m reminding myself of how nice it is to be back in the quiet of my own home, spending time alone with my husband, and living the quiet life that we love so much.

Headed home to Indiana!

We’re hitting the road today, and we’ll be back home with family by sunset. :)

I have some posts scheduled for next week, and I’ll be checking my email and moderating comments regularly, so you shouldn’t even notice I’m gone. But I will be spending the week relaxing, snuggling my nieces and nephews, and seeing my best friends and family.

I haven’t had a vacation since Christmas, so I’m pumped! Be back next week!

A year of the frugal life

I can’t believe it’s been one year since I started Living Well on Less!

So much has happened in the past year, and yet it feels like it’s flown by. Looking back on my initial goals when I started this blog, I’m thrilled to see that we’ve already accomplished two out of three of our main goals and then some. We’re still working on that student loan debt, but this is only the beginning!

We’ve accomplished so much more than I ever through we could. This blog has been so encouraging to me, and reading about other people’s financial journeys has helped me think up new ways to save and grow.

As I head into my second year of blogging, I’ll be changing the direction of my blog just a bit and focusing more on living well than just finance.

To those of you who read me every day, or even just once a week or once a month, thank you! Your encouragement and ideas have been so important to us as we struggle to start our lives together.

Any suggestions for me as I start out my second year? What would you like to read about on Living Well on Less?

Two days off & all I’ve got are excuses

I apologize for my sparse posting for the past week. It’s been a strange week.

After a lovely weekend with my parents, I took a day off Monday (more on that later). I spent the rest of the week feeling like I was catching up. Isn’t it always that way after entertaining visitors or traveling all weekend? There’s grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, writing … all of the things I normally do on the weekends that didn’t get accomplished. I’m continually amazed at just how productive my weekends are, and it’s never more evident than when I don’t have the time to get anything done.

I’ve also been dealing with some personal issues that I may or may not explain in more detail at a later date. It’s nothing too serious, just some stuff I’m working out in my head. I’m doing my best not to let it affect my ability to keep up with my blog on top of my responsibilities as an employee and wife. Rest assured, I’m not going anywhere, but if I don’t post for a day here and there, that’s why.

I love this blog, but it’s a lot of work. And when I’m feeling overwhelmed, it’s unfortunately the first thing to be put aside. I wish it didn’t have to be that way. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the things we love the most could always be our top priorities? Wouldn’t it be even better if there were enough hours in the day to get it all done?

On Monday I’ll resume my regular posting schedule, and I’ll try my best to keep it up throughout the summer. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!