Gearing up for Christmas and other random stuff.

I'm afraid I have no photos.  My camera is finally dead dead. My husband's phone takes OK pics.  I might get some with it later.

What few decorations I got last year, I've gotten out and put up.  There wasn't much that wasn't for the tree itself though. We still don't have a tree up.  Christopher wants to get a real tree and we'll get it this coming Saturday when he gets paid. We do have a smaller tree, maybe 3-4 feet, that I put on the hall table.  We have our gifts around it along with a platter of pinecones I picked up at the park, and my broken-and-reglued partidges. Even if we don't put up a big tree I think the little one looks just fine.  The kids would miss a big tree though, and I don't care how tight things are.  My kids will have a Christmas tree.

Almost all the gifts around the tree have actually been purchased with gift cards I got from Swagbucks.  So, that's an awesome feeling.  To have really nice gifts for the kids and have them be just about all free.  Pretty cool.

I have 2 more books to get from Amazon which will be paid for with gift cards that I'm likely going to get this week.  Then that leaves a few things left in my cart on for the girls and white elephant gifts for the get together at my sister's place. I could try to make enough swagbucks to get a KMart gift card to help with that, or even Paypal cash, but those take several days to weeks to get delivered.  The Amazon ones can be delivered in 1-2 days if you pay a few extra swagbucks, which I am doing to get these last few gifts on time.  Normally, I could wait for them to come in their own time (which is usually 5-7 days - or was last time I got one without express shipping).

Last night was Zoe's school's holiday program. The cafeteria isn't really big enough to hold everyone who wants to see the show, since it's for the entire school of kids, not just one or two grades.  So, it's held at the Performing Arts Center.  We got there half an hour before it started and still had to sit in the 3rd floor balcony! There are a LOT of family members of the kids in our little local elementary school. It was really cute.  I'd forgotten how tiny and cute Kindergarteners are. Zoe is so tall now compared to them. Some of the 5th graders were the size of the teachers!  Odd age heh.

My two teenagers have one more day of school before the holidays thanks to not having to take finals.  The school has a weird rule that if you don't miss any days and aren't late or get detention, then you can just not take the finals and they don't count against you. They're both really happy to get to have an extra week out of school. Zoe's last day is next week.

I can't believe it's almost Christmas.  Maybe I should listen to more Christmas music to get into the Christmas spirit.

Oh some good news.  I paid off a bill!  I had been renting our fridge when ours we got when we moved in here died. I hadn't planned on keeping the rental.  I was going to buy another used one last spring, but never got around to it.  It was on a 12 month plan, and I just paid the last payment.  It makes me sick to think how much more I paid for the fridge than it's worth and the handle already broke off.  But now I own it, I can put a jerry rigged handle on it at least.

Christopher still hasn't gotten the payment for his articles, though the site owner is calling him a "columnist" and still posting his new articles every week. I resent the invoice, and Christopher emailed him asking about it.  Still no reply.  I don't get it.  Why ask us to bill him and then him not pay?

The bonus that was talked about earlier this year from my employer won't be a Christmas bonus afterall.  I finally asked someone and they said they'd ask, but assumed it would be after the new year. At this point, I don't expect to get it at all now to be honest.

My employer also has totally dropped the ball on health insurance. Seems everyone's changing the way plans are done now with the new Obama Care in place, which is fine... but the way they're doing it is ridiculous. Christopher's company gave up the info in October, we had weeks to decide and sign up with all the info needed right away.  My company gave us a list of the plans and what they're like, but no prices.  We can't see the prices til we talk to a representative one on one - but I'm a remote employee so we have to do it over the phone.  I need to have the info to study and compare to my husband's choices so we know if we want to take one of these and cancel the one we signed up for through his company.  But we don't get to talk to anyone til next week!  The week before Christmas!  Two weeks before the insurance actually takes effect!  How insane is that?  It makes me really nervous.  We need good insurance, but it's all going to cost more than our old one did and there's so many choices.  How do we decide how big a deductible to have.  He could go into the hospital again, or we could all stay healthy all year.  He does get a lot of Rx, but they're all generic now, and not too bad money wise.  But he could get prescribed a new one that's $600 a month or more. Never know. I hate having to bet against myself to get insurance.  But I guess that's what it's about.  I'm just afraid it's going to seriously cut into the money I thought we were finally going to have "extra" each money when we get these cash advances all paid off.

Looking forward, I cannot wait to have the Explorer paid off, and fixed!  That'll take the tax refund a few more months of payments on it, but soon!  We're working on getting all the old credit cards paid off (whether we wanted to or not lol.) Creditors came calling and now we have payment plans set up with a ton of them.  Oh two of them are hospital and Dr bills too.  But at least they'll get paid off finally.  We're almost caught up with the house payment!  I can't believe it's still so behind.  It's all due to the money order we sent them in June that they lost.  We couldn't get one money order for more than $500, but we needed to send $550.  So we got a money order for $250 and one for $300.  They were both sent in one envelope.  They took the one out and credited the account and apparently threw the other out with the envelope.  Who doesn't check an envelope to be sure it's empty?!  So, it's been a nightmare trying to find the receipts and prove to them we sent it and then get papers notarized and apply to have the money order refunded. And that takes forever, and costs an extra $30 to process. Not to mention the late fees that have been accruing on the account because they haven't gotten that $300.  I don't have an extra $300 to just send them! If I did, I'd pay off a cash advance!

So, yeah need some Christmas spirit.  Send some my way! :)