Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Day After 2016 Election Results

I’m in shock. I can’t believe it really happened. Our country just told every woman, child, minority, non-Christian and LGBTQ that they don’t matter. I’m embarrassed. I’m scared. But mostly, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the children who have been shown that bullying and racism is OK. I’m sorry for the women who have fought so hard for equality just to be told we can be groped and treated like objects and it’s OK. I’m sorry for the hard-working immigrants who have sacrificed everything to come here to escape the persecution and poverty in their native countries and provide a better life for their children who will now no longer feel safe in their own home here in America, as Americans. I’m sorry for the majority of Muslims who are not terrorists who are now going to be treated as if they are. I’m sorry for the LGBTQ community who now feel that they have to worry about the rights that they’ve fought so hard for might be taken away.

Election night: I was unwinding after a day of work, watching Netflix with my husband when I decided to check and see how the election was going. I opened the tab and saw the first results. Clinton was behind. What?!? How was this happening? I honestly was not prepared for this. Through this whole circus, I never really believed that Clinton would lose. I still had faith that our country would do what was right and fair. I checked the results a couple times throughout the night. I started to get physically sick to my stomach as it was becoming clear that this nightmare was becoming reality. I had to put it aside for the night. I needed one more night of not believing this man was going to become president.

Come morning, my husband wakes up before I do and I ask him how he is. He says, “I’ve been better. We have an orange president.” I had really hoped I was going to wake up to find it was a bad dream. Nope. This is life now. I then checked online and saw that the GOP also took the House and the Senate. God, how did you let this happen? And so many people did this in Your name. I’m sorry for you as well.

I feel as a country we just took a huge step backwards. David Duke supports this guy for fuck’s sake. We now have a KKK supported president! How? Why? When did everyone fall asleep and let this happen? And I’m not exactly a Hillary supporter either, I was for Bernie, but I would have welcomed Hillary with open arms over what we ended up with. Bernie supporters had pro-Bernie stickers on their cars; Hillary supporters had pro-Hillary stickers on their cars; Trump supporters? Well, they had pro-Trump stickers, yes, but they also had anti-Hillary and anti-a-bunch-of-other stuff on their cars, or rather on their gas-guzzling, dually trucks that tow nothing in suburban Southern California. I try to live by the “promote what you love, don’t bash what you hate” way of life. All I’ve heard coming out of the Trump side is hate. I don’t know anything that this man likes, but I sure know everything he hates. And do you know what hate breeds? Even more hate.

I saw a tweet today that hit home. When I got dressed this morning, I put on all black. Granted, I work in an office and a lot of my clothes are black, but today, I consciously decided to wear all black. Then I saw this tweet:
“Despair opens the door for evil. Now is the time to double down on your beliefs. Together we will find a way. I believe in us.” - @zoeinthecities 
Thank you Zoe. I needed that. She is absolutely right. “Darkness cannot dive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I don’t want to be one of the people that I have been so upset with for the past eight years. I will not say, “Thanks, Trump” for everything that goes wrong. I will maintain my beliefs and I will work even harder to make the people I come in contact with know that they matter. Maybe this will be a blessing. Maybe this is what we need to form together even closer to love and drive out this hate. We can’t let this break us. We need each other.

Please love each other. Even more.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Oh, shit! I did not just do that...

Remember the days of Netflix when you would actually get a DVD in the mail and then drop it back in any mailbox to return it? Turns out, you can't do that with Red Box movies. 
I had a letter to mail and a Red Box movie to return the other night. I grabbed both and headed out the door with my hubby. He drove up to the mailbox on the side of the road for me to jump out and mail the letter and then we would continue on to the store up the street to return the Red Box movie. I jump out, open the mailbox, drop my stuff in, get back in the car and it hits me. Oh shit,

Friday, March 4, 2016

Grocery shopping on a budget

In my last post I said I would go over our grocery shopping habits. Keep in mind this is for 2 adults who try to eat relatively healthy. Oh, and I hate to cook so I'm not spending a bunch of money coming up with any masterpieces in the kitchen. (Yes, he knew that when he married me.)

First piece of advice: Always, always make a list. And stick to it. I'm not talking about a mental list on your way to the store. Stand in your kitchen when you make your list and go through your cupboards and fridge to see what you have and what you need.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Living on a budget

Where were you all year? Oh wait, it was me that was missing. I can't believe I didn't write a single post in 2015. It's been another, shall we say, interesting year... but aren't they all?

My husband and I were yet again the victims of a lay-off. This time was different though because it was only my husband that lost his job when the company he was working for tanked. The last 2 times we went through this we were both out of work, so this is actually an improvement. Anyway, seeing as we're now pros at this sort of thing (yay us?), I thought I'd share how we make it from day to day. If you've lost an income and need some money saving advice, or even if you have a job but you have no savings (start saving NOW, you never know when your world might turn upside down), this is for you. I'm not saying this is the only way to do things or that this method will work for everyone, but it works for us and it's at least a place where you can start thinking about what will work for you.


First piece of advice. Set up multiple bank accounts (we use 2 credit unions). We have 2 checking, 2 savings and 3 jars (yes, actual glass jars... they come free with pasta sauce and pickles!) Here is how we utilize them:
  • Checking account #1 is used for all of our bills. We know how much we have going out each month so we make sure there is ALWAYS enough to cover them in there. I was raised with the "bills come first and everything else comes after" mentality. (Thank you, mom and dad!) It's true. Do it. You can eat Top Ramen and carpool a ride to work, but those bills just keep coming. Don't get behind, it's hard to catch up.
  • Savings account #1 is tied to our checking account #1. Since we've been through this before we have learned to save in the good times. We actually have a healthy savings account, so we have that tied to our checking account #1 just in case something comes up and our account is short that month, we have overdraft from the savings account. (I also use this savings account for my schooling.)
  • Checking account #2 is for groceries, cat food, gas, entertainment, all the rest. Again, like with bills, groceries and gas come first and the rest is for playing with or rolling over to the next month. We spend about $100-$125 a week on groceries and, since my husband isn't working and we don't have to gas his car, about $25 a week on gas (we both have economical Hondas). The grocery bill includes toiletries: TP, paper towels, cleaners, etc. We are fortunate in that we have no children, so we can get off pretty cheap in those areas. I'll break down our grocery list in another post.
  • Savings account #2 is tied to checking account #2 and is for gifts, clothes, and big goals like vacations (hey, we can dream!) It's also for transferring money into checking account #2 if we fall short. Sadly, it's usually used for the latter, but we're happy to have it when we need it.
  • The 3 jars are for: pennies, silver and paper. We try to withdraw and use paper money when we can and any coins we get go into the jars. If we've taken a $20 out of the ATM and have a couple dollar bills left over at the end of the day, those go in the paper jar. Every once in a while we slip a $5, $10 or even $20 in there! Crazy, I know. lol. This can be used for just saving, or for going out to sushi or pizza once in a while, or grabbing a few bucks to treat yourself to a coffee on the weekend.
So, you may have read the line about us not having children and thought, well, they have it easy. No wonder they can make it. We do however, have a mountain of student loan debt from my husband's degree (which we are not deferring because we want to pay those bastards off as soon as we can) and I am currently going to school as well. We are able to pay for my schooling as I go because, since I work full time, I am only taking 1 class per semester. (But, have you seen the prices of books and their new "companion codes" lately!?! Ouch!)

Again, this isn't a "this works for us, so it will work for you" post. It's merely a "this is what works for us, maybe there are some things in here that will work for you too" post. I hope it inspires you to come up with some ideas of your own, start a savings account if you don't already have one, and think about what you would do if you ever found yourself in an unemployed situation. It happens. And it sucks. But keep your chin up and keep on keepin' on.

Leave me a comment with some of your own money savings tips. I'd love to get even more ideas!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thomas Times 2014

I realize this may be hard to read. 
If you want to see the plain text version, scroll down past the newsletter.

So, this time last year I was writing to tell you that Damon and I were once again gainfully employed. A year has gone by and we’re still with the same companies. A few years ago, it wouldn’t seem like a big deal to hold onto a full-time job for a year, but these days, we are thankful for it everyday. (Some days more than others, lol.)

It has been an adjustment. Probably more so for me than for Damon. He has had 2 different jobs since we moved back from Oregon, this is my first since we came back. It was tough transitioning back into sitting behind a desk for 8 hours a day. I really loved my dog walking business, but I am a terrible salesperson, so I was never able to really get it off the ground.

I have also had some trouble learning to work with my new boss’s, shall we say, “strong personality.” I’m so quiet and try not to complain too much, she is 180 of that. I’ve had to endure yelling and slamming and constant complaining about anything and everything. She and I share a small office within the company’s larger office, so I realized, for my own sanity, I was going to have to figure some things out.

And that’s not to say she’s a terrible person. I’ve learned a lot from her and she really does have a good heart, we just have very different personalities. I probably drive her crazy with how quiet I am. She’s probably thinking, “yell, slam something down, you’re too quiet!”

But, there were days I would drive home from work crying, asking God why I was placed in these close quarters with this boisterous negativity. Then, I figured it out. This situation has made me realize I need to not take everything so personally. If she is yelling and slamming things around, I have to tell myself it’s not directed at me. That hasn’t been easy. I’ve always taken everything to heart and as a personal attack. So, for learning to let things go, I am grateful. It’s freeing.

My favorite thing I’ve found online this year is a perfect mantra (especially since I’m part Polish.)
It just isn’t my problem. My job is to do the best I can do, anything other than that is out of my hands.

In other good news of the year, Damon and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary! It’s so nice to be able to say, even with all the shit we’ve been through, that these have been the best 10 years of our lives. Because no matter how much we go through, as long as we do it together, it’s OK. We love each other more every single day.

We took a couple of days off work and went out to Palm Desert for a quiet, long weekend. I know, I know, Palm Desert? We kinda thought the same thing, but I knew I wanted to go somewhere warm (It was October and I wasn’t ready to give up on summer yet) and we had a great time.

First we went to the JW Marriott resort. You know, the one where Jesse’s dad got married in Saved by the Bell, lol. It was beautiful! They have tons of birds, so I thoroughly enjoyed that. Flamingos, herons, ducks, coots and egrets outside and some beautiful, tropical birds in big cages in the lobby. They also have a little man-made stream that flows around the resort and into the lobby where you can take a free gondola ride!

The next day we took the tram up the mountain in Palm Springs. I had never been up there before, it was fun. It was especially neat because since Damon used to work the Skyway at Disneyland, he was able to explain to me how it all worked. He even noticed that it was made by the same company as the Skyway. Here we are at the top.
Our final day there we drove to downtown Palm Springs and drooled over all the mid-century modern architecture and antique stores. We love anything mid-century modern, so we were in heaven! Of course it was all well out of our price range, but we still had a good time window shopping.

The other big news in our family this year was welcoming our first nibling! Yes, nibling is an actual word, even though my spell check is telling me otherwise right now. A nibling is a niece or nephew, ours happens to be a nephew! 
Damon’s brother and his wife brought little William Verne Larson into this world on October 11. He was 7 lbs. 10 oz. and 20.5 inches long. We fell in love immediately and we are already thinking about all the fun things we’ll get to do with him as he grows up. You know, all the things his mom and dad won’t let him do, hehe.

So, that’s our 2014. It’s the best year we’ve had in quite some time and we pray we can continue on this upswing in 2015 and beyond. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year! 
Love and hugs, from the Thomases.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

extra! extra! read all about it!

when i was a kid, my dad worked nights for a newspaper as a pressman. every wednesday (back when people used to get paid every week) he would take me down to the paper so he could pick up his paycheck. i got to experience the giant presses, the smell of ink (oh, how i love the smell of ink!) and the comradery of working there from a young age. my dad would walk me around and show me all the different departments and i decided i, too, wanted to work there one day.

when i was 18, after i graduated from high school, my dad brought me home an application for the news paste-up department. i was so excited, that was the department i had fallen in love with during our tours. i applied and the day before my 19th birthday, i started working the swing shift in the news paste-up department at the press-enterprise newspaper.

it was all so fascinating. the big wooden banks covered with plexi-glass sheets with all the newspaper boards lined up by sections waiting to be decorated with the day's happenings was so beautiful to me. grabbing stories as they came out of typesetting machines in galley strips, running them through a melted waxer to stick them to the boards and cutting the galley strips down to size with xacto blades. there was skill, there was precision and there was artistry.

i learned everything i could, i couldn't get enough. i would even go over to other departments to learn what they did and help them out if we were slow. i loved it!

but, as much as i loved the work, what really made it was the people. some of the people i was now working with i had known since i was born and some from my dad walking me through on payday wednesdays. so, automatically, i was surrounded by not only co-workers, but family.

i'm not going to pretend it was all peaches. like any job it had it's not so good moments and like friends and family we didn't all always get along like happiness and rainbows and remember, i started when i was 19, i still had a lot of rebellion to go through. but, all in all, my memories are the good ones.

today, i got to see a lot of those people again. since we are all so close, we do keep in touch on facebook and we've seen each other at a few funerals, but today was different. today was to celebrate something we all had in common. a love of the newspaper business. the old newspaper business and the people that made it all happen.

we laughed, we cried, we fell back into old times. we all know so much about each other and each other's families, it was great to catch up with everyone and to be in a room full of familiar faces, laughter and love.

i just keep thinking about that line from the movie stand by me...
"i never had any friends later like the ones i had when i was 12. geez, does anyone?"
but for me, it's coworkers and i was 19-30 years old.

when i left the newspaper, i didn't realize what a great thing we all had. since i was so young when i started, i guess i thought every job would be like that. it's just not. we had something special and i'll always cherish those years and the relationships i was able to form because of them.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

love. give it, get it, spread it, share it. be it.

so, i haven't had a blog post in quite some time. since christmas to be precise. i've been in a bit of a slump. i last wrote about getting a new job, which at the time i was so happy about. in the following months i had some real struggles with how i felt about it. i had such a bad experience in oregon, i kind of felt like i had sold myself out and landed right back where i was. i was having a hard time conforming again. after all, i had just been unemployed for over 2 years and could do what i wanted, when i wanted. i had a dog walking business which i absolutely loved, but i'm just not a self-marketer, so my client base was tiny. loyal, but tiny. all i thought about all day while feeling like i was chained to a desk again was, i could have made my business work, i just needed more time. i talked to my husband about wanting to leave my job and try my business again, but being the sensible one who lives by logic rather than feelings, he gently persuaded me to stay with the full-time gig. so, i would get teary-eyed on the way to work, and then take a cry break at noon in my car while i ate lunch and listened to comedy podcasts to try and get my mind right to get through the rest of the day.

i was also having terrible feelings of self-doubt in my field. i don't have a college degree. i have been in this industry for over 20 years and have taught myself everything i know, but i don't have the paper to back it up, so i was feeling inferior. my boss never hesitated to mention her college degree and in my way of turning all things into negativity toward myself, i took it as a jab at my lack of one.

since then, i have enrolled in school (i got an A in my first class!) and am working really hard to not take it all so personally and seriously. i've decided not to be a shrinking violet and speak my opinions, in a kind and flexible way of course, and i'm finding people respond to it. it's kind of cool.

i have also recently turned 40 and although no birthday number has ever bothered me before, this one got to me. it hurt because i felt like i'd wasted and screwed up a lot of my years. my mom talked about how she was ok with 40 as it was around the time i was graduating from high school and she and my dad were getting settled into 2 incomes after my mom taking time off to raise my brother and i and feeling comfortable in where they were in life. i had none of that. i do have a wonderful husband whom i thank God for every single day, but what else did i have? no degree, no children, no house, no long-term employment where i was making a decent amount of money to feel comfortable in where i was in life. what had i done with it all?

well, i had tried things. granted a lot (or even most) of those things didn't work out as i'd hoped, but at least i tried. i never wanted to be the person to live in one place my whole life and raise kids. it wasn't in me, so to look back now and feel like i missed out was ridiculous. i didn't miss out, i chose to go a different route. i can't have it both ways. i chose to get out of town and live and i did. it may not have turned out exactly as i thought it should, but really what do i have to complain about? in the grand scheme of things what is it that matters? is it money? no. possessions? no. a piece of paper saying i have a proper education? no. in the end, all that matters is how much love you have given away. "and now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love - 1 corinthians 13:13" that's it. that's the only thing that matters. it is the only thing that will live on after you die. it is the only thing that fulfills those empty places in your heart. that's it. and as soon as i figured that out. i was ok with turning 40 because i really think there are more people in this world that would call me kind and generous than people that would call me an uptight bitch. and to the people who would call me an uptight bitch (because i'm sure they're out there) well, you know what? that's their problem.

here's an example: my brother and sister-in-law and my husband knew 40 was weighing heavy on me, so they all decided to give me the most epic weekend i could imagine. my brother and sister-in-law drove all the way down from san francisco and my husband got us all tickets to a comedy show for friday night and tickets to disneyland for saturday. i was surrounded by love and support. were they all talking about what a fuck-up i was and how they couldn't believe i didn't have a degree, a house or a pile of money? no. we talked about how much we all loved and missed spending time with each other and how lucky we were to be such a close-knit family who would do anything for each other. that's where i'm rich. i'm rich in love. i've seen a quote online that sums it up. it says, "some people are so poor that all they have is money" it's the truth. you can't buy love. you have to make it and earn it. your job every single day is to live simply and try to help others in any way you can. once you figure that out, everything else has a way of sorting itself out.

so, go out and love without hesitation. hug someone and feel the hug back. there's electricity there. it mends and heals and grows. that's when you'll realize just how rich you really are. i know i did.