Thursday, July 22, 2010

Student Loans!

You know, when I was going to college, I applied for and received financial aid in the forms of grants, work study, and loans.  I was evaluated on my own since I was out of the house and married, though only 18.  We were pretty poor in those days and so the government provided us with some assistance. 

My daughter started art school in the fall of last year.  Imagine my surprise when told that students are not evaluated on their own resources, but that of their parents as well until the age of 24!!!  Now I hear that this may change to 26 years?  Well, isn't that nice, since that is when they will most likely be done with school and no longer NEED any help? 

So, we apply for a Parent Plus Loan, and my daughter is "awarded" a couple of very small government loans as well. 

Sallie Mae, the overseer of the government loan starts billing us for this first year loan, even though our daughter is still enrolled in school and we have since taken out more through Sallie Mae to pay for the second year! 

So, we have to ask for a deferrment.  Only trouble is, if you call the number listed on your bill, and wade through the automated system, you will discover that you will NEVER, reach an actual human being!!!  You will eventually be directed to the website for this purpose. 

So, after trying this a few times hoping for a different response, (I know, dumb huh?) I go to the website.  Try to sign in to get the appropriate forms that will allow me to indicate that she is still in school and we need to defer the payments on the loan until she is finished with her program. 

The hope is of course, that she will get employment and be able to help with or even take over the payments! 

Once at the website, I am told that my account is no longer active and I am directed back to the automated phone system which then directs me back to the website.... Is it just me?

Monday, July 19, 2010


I am discovering (ok, I have known for some time but don't want to accept it) that I no longer have the ability to multi-task.   I am not sure when this happened or why, but I used to be able to type, listen and respond to a conversation, and think about what I was going to do next at the same time.  I was amazed that my husband could actually block out what someone was saying to him while responding uh huh etc.  Now, I find, to my horror I might add, that I do the same!  The kids are getting irritated about it and I don't blame them!  What has happened to me??

In other ways this has also happened.  I have tried many times to complete some of the numerous projects I have lined up and I think I can do several at a time.  I will take out 4 things that need spray painting and even though they are all different colors I can handle it but throw in something that needs some repair first, or prep work and I am totally thrown off course! 

I am starting to paint and redo the furniture I have been piling up (I will show you when (if) it is finished..) and one sunny day, I decided to drag out a small magazine table, a night stand with two drawers and a chair to the patio.  I did some minor repairs, placed wood putty where needed to patch holes, nicks etc and sanded.  Then I started painting.  I REALLY need a sprayer!  OMG! 

I think I began with the most difficult piece!  It is the vintage magazine table.  You know the kind that have side compartments to hold your magazines?  Yeah those.  Well, they also have so many nooks and crannies!  I have painted it for two days!  It still isn't finished...

It all sounded so nice at the time.  Bring all this crap outta the garage, under the gazebo, and leisurely fix this furniture while enjoying the summer day... Makes sense right?  Well, today, it is all still there, and it is cold and overcast.  So guess who will be dressed for winter, out there painting?  On the upside?  The color is gorgeous!  I may have to keep this rather than put it in the shop.....


Ok, What you have all been waiting to hear, at least those of you who entered the July giveaway, is who is the winner of the vintage fruit salt and pepper shakers and sugar bowl?  Drum roll please......

Jacqueline from byhatched!

 Jacqueline lives in Montpellier, France and has a wonderful blog about life there at  Jacqueline also has an Etsy shop and you can check her out here:   Congratulations to Jacqueline! 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July Giveaway!

It's time for another Giveaway!  Enter to win this vintage collection of fruit themed salt and pepper shakers, and sugar bowl!  The set is  in great vintage condition.  Only thing is, you will need to purchase the plugs for the shakers, they have long disappeared!  This set would look gorgeous on your table, countertop, or windowsill! 

There are many ways to enter!  You will get a chance for each entry so do them all for your best shot! 

Here are the entry methods:

1.  Visit my online store at and tell me which is item your favorite

2.  "Heart" my shop at and let me know

3.  Follow me on Twitter  and let me know via twitter direct message

4.  Follow me on Facebook and leave a comment on that page

5.  Follow this blog - or leave a comment that you are a follower so I know you are interested in winning

6.  Tweet this giveaway with link and @lifeinstages so I will know

7.  Post this giveaway on your blog and give me the link

There you are!  Seven ways to win!  Enter now, winner will be drawn at 12pm Pacific Time on Monday July 19th!  Check back to see if the winner is you!  If the winner does not respond with 24 hrs, another winner will be chosen. 

I LOVE to give stuff away! 

Friday, July 9, 2010


We have lived in the same neighborhood for the past 16 years.  In that time pretty much all of the people that were here when we moved in, have moved on to other places, greener pastures.  Only one neighbor who lives across the street remains the same.  We know his name and that of his wife and dog.  We know they like to camp and don't have children, and keep a very nice yard. 

The house directly across the street has been vacant since November.  No signs, no people, nothing.  Someone shows up every now and then to mow the lawn and that's it!  We live in a development and pay the homeowners dues and abide by the rules and yet this vacant house sits there mocking me day in and day out. 

We don't know our neighbors very well.  There is a fireman across the street, a high school teacher that was my daughter's favorite teacher of all time (in fact she took some of the class on a trip to Europe) and a cat hater who we suspect took one of our cats a few years back since he was always complaining about cat poop (like we have the only cat in the neighborhood AND our cat likes to walk down a block before pooping!) and once (we suspect it was him) left a bag of cat poop ( i think it was cat poop, I hope it was!) on our steps!


This side of the street we have a family with a daughter who is a couple years older than my son, they have a cat who visits us and plays with our two cats, and a nice, quiet dog.
 The man and wife behind us own two dogs.  The dogs are seldom out and when they are in the yard are very quiet.  A couple years ago, shortly after these neighbors moved in, we started noticing trash appearing in our backyard.  We weren't sure what was happening but thought maybe it was kids.  Tequila bottles, beer bottles, and other assorted stuff kept coming and we kept picking it up.  One day we heard some shouting at Max when he was barking and saw the neighbor throw something over the fence at him.  So we knew... this man gets very upset when Max barks and yells and cusses at him.  He has threatened us recently that he will kill Max if he ever gets close to him.  Max absolutely HATES this man.                                                                                                 

As much as a dog can hate a person, Max hates this guy!  If he sees him in his yard, he growls and runs outside to bark at him now.  I think they can sense when people are mean to animals, or maybe just the experience of being yelled at and having things thrown at him did the trick. 
This guy refused my husband's offer to meet Max and see that he isn't vicious at all, and would probably stop barking once he knew the guy was ok.  Or maybe not?  I should tell you that Max is a mutt.  Probably part Lab and part German Shephard.  Wouldn't hurt anyone.  But a good barker...Hence the gazebo with privacy curtain mentioned in the previous post! 

Saving the best for last I want to tell you about our disabled neighbor.  He is mentally and physically disabled and will frequently come over asking for help with various things.  He lives with his mother and she is a single parent that works so he is often left alone.  He is of adult age and quite capable in many ways, but still childlike in others.  He has come over to ask us things like:  if we can help him go through the boxes in his garage to find a certain game, if we can help him win a video game, or fix his glasses.  He has also come to show his drawings and ask what to do about his computer or phone connections, or to ask us to read something for him. 

The other day, he shows up at the door, for the 4th time that day, with a large wad of papertowels in his hand.  After waiting for him to tell me what he needs he says, " I don't want this dog poop in my yard or in my garbage!"  He tries to hand me the wad of tissue that I now realize contains poop!  I say something to the effect, "I don't want it, it isn't my dog, he poops in the back yard!"  So, now he asks me, "Who's dog is it then?"  I tell him there is no way to know.  He repeats, "I don't WANT this dog poop in my yard or in my garbage!" He thrusts the foul wad of paper towards me.  I use all my training in special education, and my background and knowlege of people with his disability and say intelligently, "I'm NOT taking it! Go put it in your outside garbage can!"  We look each other in the eye, silence ensues, but finally, he decides to leave and take the wad with him! 
In reading back over this post, I see that I have made our neighborhood sound like a nightmare!  It really is a nice neighborhood and most everyone is great.  It is a quiet, family type development, people mostly keep to themselves which works for us since we aren't friendly...not antisocial, just shy... So, if you discount the cat hater, which is no longer a problem since we now have indoor cats who only go out occasionally and don't venture far, and the dog killer wanna-be, and the poop in a paper towel, it's a pretty nice place...

So.  What are your neighbors like?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer starts today!

Hello everyone!  I guess I have been hibernating lately since I haven't posted in awhile!  The weather has been so crappy that even my Verilux Happy Lites haven't been enough!  But today the sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky!  Woot!  Woot!  Oh happy dance!  I guess it is supposed to get a bit hot, and then I will probably complain about that, but at least there is sun and it looks like summer! 

Our family spent the fourth of July with some old friends and had the traditional BBQ where we all ate ourselves into food comas and then rested awhile and ate some more!  Watching fireworks was a bit tough this year as it was so cold!  We were encouraging the kids to hurry up with comments like "how many are left?" and "how about lighting a few at once?"  This was even with coats and blankets on!  Good grief!  Anyway, it was fun but I only managed to take a couple of pictures while it was still light and nothing to indicate it was the fourth of July!  Oh well, this way, I don't have to feel guilty for not getting it scrapbooked right?

We spent a few days over in the Eastern part of Washington State for a family reunion and got a nice bit of sun over there.  It is always a bit strange for me to attend these "reunions" because it has usually been 3-5 years since we have seen each other and that was only at the last reunion!   I had a friend once who said to me, "Would you even talk to these people if they weren't your family?"  Hmmmmm....  The invention of Facebook has helped a ton!  At least I feel like I know a bit about what is going on with the "younger" middle age set that knows what FB is and uses it!  It really helps to not have to struggle for conversation where your options are; 1. stay really surfacey, OR 2. ask something like, "so...what have you been up to for the last 5 years?"  : ) Is this what they call cynical?  I'm I cynical or just sarcastic?  Hmmmmm....

Here are a few pictures from the family reunion:

Black Light Bowling

 Winery Tour
                                          View of the Lake from the Winery

Yesterday, we put up a gazebo.  Bought it at Fred Meyers on sale, put it up over the patio, and I love it!  It helps define the space, provides some shade (like we need that right?) but most importantly, gives us privacy!  Our patio faces the neighbors deck so if we are both out at the same time, it is a bit awkward, especially since this neighbor has threatened to kill our dog!  Another story there... anyway, this has a privacy screen which of course we installed on That side so if he is out there when we are, we can simply zip up and continue on!  hahah... it isn't that bad, but I would like to be able to eat without being watched.  My mom used to have a thing about that, and would always close the dining room blinds before dinner.  I used to think it was really weird, but maybe I have just a bit of that myself?  Oh no.... I am turning into my mother!  Very quickly it seems at times! 

I find I am having a hard time focusing (did you pick up on that?) and figuring out what I want to do today.  It feels like some rare bit of extra money or something, having this sunshine, and I want to spend it wisely... What have you been doing this summer?


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