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A Simple Six: 8/7/11 - 8/14/11

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hardware Store

Locking up.

Thursday we walked to the carnival, Friday we walked to a housewarming party. Both were less than a mile away and the weather has continued to remain fabulous. No doubt our sunshine and dry skies will run out soon and our gardens will get the water they deserve. For now, we are enjoying the ease of traveling light.

We set up a play date for Elliot across town today. I was gearing up to bike him over when Brent suggested we all go and then we could look for a place to get parts for the rain barrel. Super. So we sun screened everyone and went out for a five mile round of errands.

First we dropped off Elliot and London at our friends house to play. Then we popped into Kroger for diaper wipes and chocolate chips, you know, the important things. At this point Oliver needed a diaper change and being the resourceful folks we are, we changed him right on top of the bike trailer. It worked great. If there are any biking families with trailers who need a changing station in a pinch, this has now been a tried method for our 27lb, 20m old son. Fresh pants and then we were off to find a hardware store.

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When we were driving, we would just go to Lowes or Home Depot in Barboursville. It was a twenty minute drive and one we would make just for a single plumbing part if that's all we needed. Today we thought more local. There were three options we came up with, the ReStore, Southern States and General Building Supply (GBS). The road to the ReStore had more traffic. Southern States is akin to Tractor Supply Company and might not have the downspout connections we really needed, so we ended up at General Building Supply. It was also on our way home from Kroger on 7th Avenue.

We would never have patron this store if we hadn't put forth the effort to stay out of our vehicles. Last month when I was driving just one day a week, I would have just lopped Home Depot onto my car errand list. Now I know I have a much closer option, that was comparable in price and still had great customer service. Oh, there is also the added bonus of parking at the door and just running in. As it turned out, the fitting Brent was creating for our overflow spout wasn't the right size and he had to go back to the hardware store. How many times does that end up happening? He biked over and back with the new parts in under 40 minutes.

Rain barrel attached, overflow spout connected, let it rain.

Our last event of the day was a birthday party up the hill. It was a quick and strenuous ride up but it was a blast to ride down. I don't think we peddled once on the way home.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Brent's Video: Commuting to Work

My Commute: Huntington, WV from delano on Vimeo.

Brent put together this video to show parts of his commute to work today. He takes a different route home, as mapped below. He certainly goes out of this way to avoid Hal Greer, riding 5 miles to go a crow's distance of 3.

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Our Neighborhood

Yesterday evening I walked five children, mine and my neighbor's son, to a benefit carnival. Tickets were a quarter and you could get Papa John's pizza, snow cones, face painting, or play the duck pond game, each with one ticket. The inflatables were free. Usually I would avoid such events because I don't enjoy crowds, spending money on games, or taking five children out alone. I choose to go because it was about a mile away, the children are getting older and easier to take places, they had to scrounge for their own change to spend, and it was a benefit for a pool that is in our neighborhood.

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The pool, which I have never even seen, was closed this year because it was in disrepair and the city lacked the funds to maintain it. It was the only pool within the city limits. It serves primarily a very underprivileged community but was open to the public. The few times we went swimming we drove out the Kennedy YMCA center or to Beech Fork State Park pool.

None of our friends mentioned this downtown location. No one talked about it, I assume, because of the population that visited that pool. That particular neighborhood and many more like it are filled with a very low socio-economic class. The project housing in the area is some of the most beautiful architecture in Huntington, again, in my opinion. Yet, you will always see families sitting on stoops, likely because they don't have air conditioning and strollers parked by doors, probably because they get around without cars. Folks are often crossing Hal Greer, a very busy four lane, to the Par Mar convenience store and hollering across to home. There are many petty crimes in the area, a lot of boarded up and broken homes, over grown lawns, occasional shootings, graffiti, and you will read about police reports for drug trafficking and child abuse with addresses from this neighborhood. It's not the city's pride and joy.

The carnival.

In recent years the neighborhood has been the home to the Barnett Center Weed and Seed office, the Fairfield Community Gardens, and the Ebenezer Medical Outreach Farmer's Market. All these efforts have been put forth by many hard working citizens. These programs are some of the city's jewels. There is a great buzz about each of them. Our family has been minimally involved in several of these projects. We strive to do more. This is our neighborhood too.

London got an owl.

Oliver's first snow cone.

When we were driving more, it was very easy to say those areas were another neighborhood and someone else's problem. Our street, our little block was ours. We drove out of town to the hardware store and across town to the other markets. Now that we are staying closer to home and seeking out options for goods that are convenient, a mile radius is very much our community. I would even say that two miles in any direction is our extended environment, it's where we are seeking our services, food, entertainment, and friends. It's also every bit our responsibility to care for it all. We can no longer blame anyone else or expect everyone else to change things, not that we should have before. These are our neighbors, for richer or poorer.

Walking the children to the AD Lewis Center, drove this idea in deeper for me. The sense of understanding is growing.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Test Riding to School: Take 2

We rode to school earlier this week to try to work out the safest route. It yielded a couple of new options for safety, adding length and more climbs. The tips we received on our first run would help us avoid Norway entirely, but add more length and even more steep hills. We thought that adding length and a few hills would be better than being on Norway so we took everyone out this morning to see what we could see.

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Another Difficult Crossing
We were turning from the top of Wiltshire, left onto Washington and the road was clear, the moment my bike is in the middle of the street a jeep is coming up the hill behind me and a car is coming down to my left. The children were directly behind and I was yelling at them to keep going, hurry up. I led them up Washington toward Woodland right in the middle of the road. The driver behind us was irritated, but I knew that if we slipped closer to the right side then he and the four cars behind him may not see us as we followed the curve or would speed past us while we were going up hill. The children are not able to ride very straight going at a slower speed, and climbing equates to slower. As soon as we were level and straight, we moved over and turned away from traffic onto Woodland.

Our journey starts with hills, and more hills.

We stopped to drop off blueberry muffins to friends that just returned home from a very long trip.

London felt her energy spent by hill number two.

Hill Strike
There were a lot of tears on this trip. The hills were just too steep to climb for the children. They walked their bikes up a lot of inclines yelling out protests of going up and declaring strikes against hills. I felt my bike tire in the front lifting because I carry my weight, ahem, in my rear. Oliver was in the iBert, but it didn't balance the bike on the climb.

A bit of downhill on Fairfax, but we would be coming back up this way going home.

The dreaded turn onto Roland Park Drive.

We stopped on Roland Park to refresh before the intense climb. These aren't the Rockies, but they are 7 and 9 years old.

Parked on Roland.

We carry a bag with tools, tire pump, sunscreen and first aid in the trailer. We need to create a kit for when we bike solo.

We forgot to sunscreen London and Elliot before we left. The headphones were accessories, she wasn't actually listening to anything.

It has taken me months, but I am finally learning how to use the gears on the bike. Brent would tell me to put it into a lower gear when going up, but I felt like I was spinning my wheels a lot more and I didn't have the endurance to pedal that much. I favored a higher gear and I would put all my weight into the pedals to spin them less often but harder. It turns out that I was spinning the pedal more and that was a good thing. I needed to build my endurance, but now turning the pedal more actually makes the climb feel easier, although slower.

Up up and away. Have you seen enough hills yet?

There was a lot of walking bikes.

A little down, although into a one way, the wrong way.

We chose the sidewalk because of the wrong way on a one way issue, but it must have been trash day.

Took a right onto Allen, this let us skip Norway altogether!

The other end of Allen met us with a brick street, and one that went down first.

The first trial we took this week, Brent had Oliver in the trailer on the way to school. I rode Brent's bike home to see if I could pull him, and it was easier than what I did today. Having Oliver in the front seat on my bike was tough. I still think it's the bike, because the center of gravity was better and the weight was the same, if not less since all the gear was in the trailer.

We made it. I think it took about an hour to cover 2.5miles.

Yeah, that's my family.

What Now?
Given all the challenges of getting up to school it's not looking like we will bike there. We will have to come up with some combination of walking and/or busing. If we can get the children's bikes to school, then biking home would be a different experience. It shouldn't be too much trouble for me to bike up to the school with only Oliver and then we could all bike home, slow and steady, or we will just walk.

We are also very aware of the wonderful weather experiences we've enjoyed. Today was mid 60s at starting and mid 70s upon return. With all these clear skies I am off to look for rain gear online. The tide will turn, as it always does, and I would like to be prepared.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Oh My Aching Body

It used to be that my bum hurt, especially those sitz bones. My legs would ache, my hips would hurt. My heart would feel close to jumping from my chest and putting on a dramatic death scene. My lungs were squeezing every ounce of oxygen and trying to push it into my blood stream, and failing. This was rough business, riding a bike.

Riding, for me, is not a sport, or even a matter of getting anywhere fast. I stop often and look for excuses to stop. Stop signs are great, photo opportunities, patches of shade, the top of a teeny tiny climb. It's simply a mode of transportation that is less exhausting and painful than running, quicker than walking and cheaper than driving a car, or taking the bus. It's also getting easier.

I didn't say it was easy, just better than it was before. After our test ride to school this week I woke up with feet that felt bruised on the bottom. They don't feel any better yet. I suffered through plantar fasciitis when I started jogging a couple years ago. Foot pain is debilitating. About 2AM this morning I woke up because of sharp pain in my knees. I got out of bed simply because I was concerned I wouldn't be able to walk. They felt like they couldn't hold my weight, but I wasn't sure. As soon as I got up and walked the length of the house, they felt better and I slept the rest of the morning. I know it was because of yesterday's grocery trip, and my knees feel better today. After nearly every ride my legs feel a little numb because of the pressure on my hips. It's akin to the numbness of pregnancy, where the baby is crushing every nerve from your waist down. I wouldn't wish that on anyone either.

Part of the aches could be my bike. I am not experienced enough to know. Nor do I have the money to find out right now. Yet, the ounce of prevention rules is hard to ignore. We are looking for bikes to take on test rides. I emailed Madsen about finding a bike owner in our area. I am interested in Yuba Mundo and Xtracycle as well. If anyone has either a box style or long tail, and would like to let us give it a run up a hill with our children, we would be much appreciative.

In the mean time, I take it easy when I ride. Drink a lot of water. Get plenty of rest. Try to balance my riding with walking. Stretch as often as I can. It's still exhilarating to ride.

Extra Curriculars with Children

Soccer and Fencing
Brent coaching Avery's team at the YMCA.
It's almost soccer season here. Every year we have had at least one child play at the Kennedy Center YMCA fields or Virginia Point in Kenova. Both fields are nearly 30 minutes away by car, in opposite directions. I haven't found a downtown option for team soccer.

A quick look at the transit service website and I discovered a bus that goes to the YMCA, even on Saturday when games are most often played. They had an evening service that would cover practice times. In the past many of the YMCA teams have practiced at Ritter Park and you could sometimes request a team that would meet there during the week. I have heard about a bus that goes out to Dreamland Pool in Kenova that would get us close to Virginia Point, but I was unable to find information on the TTA site about such a route.

London practicing fencing at Ritter Park, spring 2011.
London has been participating with a fencing group. Sometime they meet at Ritter Park. Sometimes, when it is very hot or rainy, they meet at a dance studio on the more western side of downtown. We have managed most park practices and have missed many at the dance studio. We could have ridden to the indoor practices, even in the rain, but we have chosen not to go, first because of the extra distance and second because usually the rest of the children must go and I don't care to corral them in a waiting room for 90minutes. London is still able to participate when she can, practice at home and on a few generous occasions, she has gotten a ride with another fencing family to the indoor studio.

Thus far in our car-lite/free journey, very few opportunities have been missed. That may change as school begins and the children pick up their extra curricular activities, such as scouts, sports, play dates, music, and community events. I will look at each opportunity individually and make decisions as they come, just as I would have done when we drove our van freely. What I have learned is that while some opportunities will be missed, if I do a little research and ask around, I think most events can be reached, it will just take more planning.

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Our Egg Route

An approximation of our egg route.

Another good morning for an errand. Oliver and I went to get four dozen eggs and a pint of raw honey the Four Season Farmer's delivered yesterday downtown. The to route always seems to be the same, then somewhere along the way I remember that crossing 12th Street at the end of Washington to enter the park is not a good idea. There is a tight blind curve on the left and drivers are not expecting a biker to be crossing. There are no fewer than five points of entry for traffic at this intersection. Yet, riding through the park is more pleasant and safer route, if you can cross 12th.

Never fails that we are ready to leave and someone needs a diaper change.

Honey and fresh bread for pick up. These are good farmers to know.

Four dozen eggs loaded into the backpack with the top of the carton toward my back, vertically.

Anyone know what is up with the zebra striped shrub skeleton? There were cut out board zebras there for a while this summer. I am sorry I missed the opportunity to photograph those.

On the way home from the pick up spot we came back 12th Avenue to Huntington Avenue and turned right on Park Street. We road the streets, the traffic was very low and we didn't have any dangerous intersections. I just need to remember to use this path for my to route next time.

We came home to french toast.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011


 The Argument
Another heated conversation with Brent over lunch this week highlighted more of the concerns about selling the van. Brent is afraid, and I think most people would be. In his words, which he emailed to me later in the day trying reconcile the disagreement:
I'm afraid of a crippling injury or death because of the many drug-addled or phone-distracted drivers that infest our streets. When Avery was in the hospital in Columbus, two doors down was a young man with a terrible head injury. He was clearly brain damaged (one of several brothers  who were in a car accident). When I say that I fear we might be inhibiting their [the children's] potential, that's the image in my mind. I love their personalities, their intelligence and the promise they hold for themselves and the world. Perhaps my fears are irrational, but to me they are visceral and terrifying. Reflectors might help. And yes, I know that they are in danger in cars, but being surrounded by airbags in our well-tested van sounds and feels safer to me. Death and pain are facts of life that I cannot reconcile at present. As you know, I've been trying. I'll ride where you point. I'll go wherever you want me to go, but I will not put my kids in an unnecessarily risky situation for our own experimentation and financial comfort.
My take on the fear was to see it as a challenge that needed to be rifled through for a solution. I don't feel that we are taking unnecessary risks, we are just going from point a to b using a different method.

This is also another reason I feel he needs to contribute to this blog. Perhaps he could explain himself more thoroughly and some of you could offer advice or solace. I have been terrible about sympathizing. I am more anxious about missing a bus where the outcome would be having to go home. My methods of reassuring Brent have never worked, he just feels I am trying to dismiss him and persuade him to my "side." Perhaps I am.

Safer Options
If the routes we take are unsafe for biking, let's find new ones that feel more comfortable and have less car traffic. If we feel the children won't be seen from behind, let's get better reflecting material, higher flags, put them in the front of the caravan or to our right, install horns and bells. We could go out on errands with them less often or not take the children that are not a part of the activity we are attending. Let us ask the local bike shops for a bike safety course for families and children. Let us educate ourselves and the community.

Brent has been treated very poorly by drivers. He has been yelled at, pushed off the road by cars and been flipped off. I don't want to put our children in a position to be accosted by people like this either. I have yet to have any terrible experiences on our bikes. I don't believe that cars are trying to hurt us, they don't want to deal with that insurance claim or traffic ticket either, they are not vindictive. Yet, as Brent's experiences prove, some people are rude, inconsiderate and dangerous to be around.

When we are riding in dense automobile areas, we try to stay on the side walk. Another option would be to take a longer route that is less crowded and to arm our children and family with an appropriate retort. We ought to give everyone the tools to handle a negative situation. We can't prepare for them all, but we should discuss the ones that have already occurred with Brent and perhaps the children could suggest some solutions.

Here are some sources I found, there are many many more opinions, resources and statistics out there:

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    Grocery Shopping without Weight in Mind

    Ritter Park about 8am this morning

    London and I went to the store early this morning. We enjoyed riding through Ritter Park and seeing the sun glisten on the trees and smell the fresh mowed grass. I brought an empty trailer to load with our goodies and made a list without any thought to weight or space. I just needed groceries. With out the boys riding along, I felt I could just stuff the trailer full and be off. Here's most of what we bought, with total weight in red. I estimated for those that were not listed on the container:
    Our groceries.
    • 3-1.5quarts of ice cream 5lbs
    • 2 gallons of soy milk 16lbs
    • sleeve of bagels 1lb
    • 1.5 lbs of cheddar
    • 7-1.5lb loaves 10.5lbs
    • 2.5lbs grapes
    • 1lb bacon
    • 2 cans of olives 1lb
    • 5oz mushrooms
    • 2-8oz packages of cream cheese 1lb
    • 3lbs clementines
    • 2lbs sweet potatoes
    • .5lbs red onion
    • 4lbs carrots
    • 1lb coffee
    • 1 package tortilla shells 1lb
    • 3lbs bananas
    • 9lbs apples
    • 15lbs flour
    • 3 gallons milk 25.5lbs
    • 14 one subject notebooks 4lbs
    • 1 dozen eggs 1.5lbs
    Total grocery weight: approximately 113.5lbs
    I felt every pound as I dragged them home 2.5miles.

    We were gone for three hours. I really don't feel that biking for our groceries is practical. These goods should last us till early next week, but I had to do the trip with an empty trailer, bag my own groceries, carefully load the trailer in just the right way and still get it home. I took Brent's new bike, which was up to the task, and my bike would not be, or rather I would be in far more pain to haul 100lbs with my bike.
    Front of the store parking.

    Ready to load the trailer.


    When I drive to get groceries, it does take me about two hours, sometimes longer if I dawdle or go to the larger Kroger in Barboursville. I added in a couple other stops this morning to pay for eggs and pick up chard, basil and maple syrup from a friend.  London and I stopped for a bagel and water break mid way back. It was a very pleasant ride and I really enjoyed the time with London. Time is not something I lack, so using more of it to grocery shop is still not an issue. The problem is that I was also using Brent's work time because he had to stay home to be with the boys. Perhaps I need to go back to weekend shopping?
    Bagel break at Ritter Park.

    I am still thinking grocery shopping will end up on the car list. Pros and cons list? Yeah, why not?

    Pros for biking to get groceries
    • Exercise
    • Family time
    • Store front parking
    • No fuel consumption
    Cons to biking for our food
    • Weather dependent
    • Uses more time (maybe?)
    • Biking on the sidewalk on the wrong side going to the store down 1st Street could be problematic and illegal, but it was easier/safer than the right side
    • Must have an empty trailer for generous sized trips
    • Bit too exhausted to bring everything up to the kitchen when I get home
    I am still not convinced. What would you add?
    Oh, and the ice cream was still frozen and the milk still cold when we returned. Insulated totes are good.

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    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Choices We Make to Save Money

    House or Car?
    My bright idea of driving less was set ablaze by a need to save money. For the first half of 2011 we were preparing our home to sell. We thought that if we sold the house and found something less expensive we could lighten up a bit with the doom and gloom feeling of our finances.

    Our mortgage, with taxes and insurance and interest and all the other things they add into that escrow payment, is $1100 each month. We tried twice to refinance and the loan to value ratio was not enough. If we could rent something for $800 a month, then selling the house felt like the answer. As we got a lot of repairs made and upgrades completed and we looked at all we would have to pack up and the soaring cost of relocating, we cringed.  We had spent nearly $2500 on fixing things in the house and we could have paid down another debt somewhere. How was saving money to move, selling the house, finding something about $300 a month cheaper, going to help? It was adding a lot more pressure and a lot more expenses. Enter the crazy idea of selling the van. It was our next largest expense.

    How Did It Come to This?
    This house and car removal was not our first choice in knocking down our expenses. These are drastic measures that we have come to after years of tracking and budgeting each dollar. Yet, over the years we have made the decision to add to our family. Over ten years we have added four children, and taken on nearly $186,000 in debt. It's the sort of debt that middle class America has sold to us and we have bought it all. House, cars and education. Those three categories are where we owe all our money. Our every day living expenses eat up the rest of our income. The choices we make with the leftover dollars have been consumed and not saved, spent and not given back to our debtors.

    Daily Savings
    To get to the dramatic conclusion of selling your home or car you may be in a pretty desperate place. I am very happy to say, that while we certainly owe a lot of money, we don't have any delinquent accounts and we can pay our bills every month, even if sacrifices must be made. By sacrifice, I mean they are middle class sacrifices, not the kind that equate to not feeding your children or having a safe place to sleep. We might not be getting new clothes or having a hair appointment or eating out.

    Here's a list of other measures we have taken over the years to save on our expenses. I will try to explain why we made these choices and not others, as best I can. Do you see anything we could be doing differently?

    • Our utilities include water, sewer, garbage, recycling, electric, gas, phone and internet. We conserve resources as best we can, but know we can do better. Our phone is the basic-basic service. No long distance, no caller ID, no call waiting. We don't have cell phones, so we have kept our land line. We have internet for about $30 a month because it is our everything. It's Brent's connection to work and mine to the world. I could certainly do without it, but I don't want to. Brent cannot work with out it.
    • When we moved in we installed a programmable thermostat. In the winter is hangs around 68 and in the summer about 78. We used to be able handle a little more cold and heat but I am afraid as we age we are getting to be more wimpy. I do turn off the system when we leave the house.
    • We mow our own grass (except when we can't, such as being away for extended periods). We used a reel mower for many years and then we couldn't find anyone to sharpen the blade properly. We now borrow our neighbors electric mower as needed. We had a chemical lawn service for two years to get things into better shape, but canceled it and now only treat what we think needs treated. Lime once a year and we pay the children to dig out dandelions at a penny each.
    •  We do most of our own maintenance but have paid good people to do larger jobs for us when the time vs money factor favored money. We also put off a lot of house maintenance until we have either time or money. There was a large hole over one of our doors for nearly five years.
    Clothing and other Shopping

    The details of our shopping. The $168 Everything Birth expense was reimbursed by a friend.

    • We very rarely buy clothes, especially new ones. We have been very thankful to a lot of family and friends for hand me downs. Any gaps we have in our wardrobes have been filled at consignment sales and stores. Socks and underwear are purchased new, most of the time, and very infrequently, as in once a year in most cases. I looked at our account and it showed we had spend $212 in clothing from January through June this year. Some of the general shopping is clothing as well. I need to get more detailed with my tracking.
    • We simply try not to buy things. We have purchased some birthday presents and books. Most books are bought from the Scholastic school fliers at a discount. Many of our birthday presents for others are books from those orders. Our shopping expenses are broken out above. I was shocked by the "other shopping" category so I included a list of each transaction and their amounts. Everything Birth was for more cloth diapers. The BigLots purchase was for a set of bunk beds for Elliot for his 7th birthday. It was beyond the budget but his party cost me less than $20, so we splurged on something we felt we needed, beds. See how we make excuses.

    • Admittedly we don't do a great job here. I am including the charts above to make my case. I use to strive for spending $125 each week on groceries and all the other things that go in the cart, I am now up to about $150-175 a week. $3773 over 6 months works down to $629/m or $146/wk on average for six people.
    • I use coupons if I can, but I not great about this. Most of what I buy there are not coupons for. I don't purchase things just because I have a coupon. My food values don't line up with many packaged products.
    • I make as much as I can from scratch, including our laundry detergent and most recently our yogurt. We make bread in a machine often, but not often enough to supply us with the 1.5lb loaf we consume each day. When I cook from scratch I omit a lot things that are not, in my opinion or budget, necessary.
    • We are part of a meal swapping group, that I started about three and half years ago. I will explain this whole concept in another post.
    • We garden minimally, have a share and a half in our local CSA, shop the farmers market and try our best to buy things that are ripe in this season.
    • My budget for food is centered around weight. I try not to pay more than $2 a pound for anything. If something goes over this amount, such as maple syrup, I give something up in other areas of our diet, such as meat or salad dressings or crackers. I give them up for other reasons, some of those things are not a part of my current values as well. I also make salad dressing from scratch when we have salad.
    • We don't eat cereal. This started about 18months ago. I was tired of picking up empty bowls with milk puddles every morning. We were snacking on cereal after school and buying $10 in boxes a week. I could get good coupon deals on cereal sometimes, but not every week. We quit cereal. By making this one small change, we also reduced our milk consumption. We were finishing five gallons of milk each week, that was nearly $110 a month for breakfast foods. Now we have a hot breakfast most mornings, or fruit. This would also make a good post later.
    • I'd like to say we don't eat out often, but it seems that it's one of those things that we do a lot of sometimes and not much of at others. When we do eat out, it's water for everyone, no desserts and a lot of meal sharing between the crowd. Coupons when we can. We took a miserable vacation (the wedding was great) to North Carolina in June and eat out every single meal, that hurt, but I loved the break from cooking.
    • Brent takes his own coffee to work. He also has a pot there to make more. As a bonus to me, we have an espresso machine, gifted to us by my sister, that Brent turns into my morning mocha, complete with my home made chocolate syrup.
    All the Rest of our Money
    • Seems that every single other dollar we have goes to medical expenses and education. Education in the form of paying off loans and enrichment activities for the children. Medical, for our health and well being. There are a lot of us, and we spend most of our winter at the Dr.'s office and the rest of the year at the dentist, optometrist, counselors, pharmacy....
    In Conclusion
    I really feel like we have tried to cut back, but know we can do better. I really would love to here what you have to say on all of this. What have we done wrong, what could we do differently? What did I forget to mention here? How are you doing it?

    I also feel that putting all this personal finance information out there for the world to read and comment on is very difficult. So many people are struggling more than we are and I don't feel that I have any space to complain. I am trying to understand it all and make the best of what I can.


      Charleston Carpool

      Brent had to be in Charleston this morning at 9:00am. I wanted him to take the $3 Intelligent-Transit service offered up by our fine TTA. The bus would have left from downtown at 6:45am and arrived at the Capitol Complex in Charleston at 8:00am. Sounded fine to me, but of course I wasn't the one who was staying up till 2am to get extra work done and then having to get up at 530 to get ready and walk to the bus station, as we were unsure if the bus would have a bike rack (there isn't one in the picture above). Then of course the bus didn't leave to return to Huntington until the business work day was done and Brent would be through with meetings by lunch.

      Several other colleagues from Marshall University were going to this meeting as well. Brent emailed someone about getting a ride and the problem was solved. It's good to carpool.

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