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Archive for September, 2009

Realization

September 30th, 2009 at 05:50 am

I had a realization about 2 nights ago.

And it was this:

Being weak, at least for me, is not an option.

There are too many people who depend on me for me to allow myself to fall apart. I have a mid-term today and I can't let anything distract me from doing well this semester because I HAVE to graduate this semester.

If I don't, greater problems arise because that means I'll either not be able to graduate with my master's degree (and I didn't spend 2 years getting my master's to simply not finish), or we can't move as a family because DH is set to transfer duty stations after this semester... meaning our family will be separated.

I have four kids that depend on me and I need to be strong for them. I have a husband who needs my support in his career.

And I have a job that is going through a tremendous amount of growth & opportunity. In fact, a WONDERFUL opportunity has been presented to me which means that in one of the most difficult times of my life - I'll need to step up more than ever so that WHEN the rough part is done, I will not have regret for missing out on an opportunity to better the life of myself and my family.

I will have a lifetime to grieve, but right now I need to remind myself that as tough as it is now - I can't allow my grief to consume me to the point I let go of a brighter future ahead.

My Dad wouldn't want me to do that. When I came to him 2 years ago and asked him if he thought it would be wiser to get my master's degree or visit him in Hawaii (both cost the same), he told me to get my degree because it would give him peace of mind to know that I was doing what I needed to do in order to make sure I secured the chance for a brighter future for his grandkids.

Its not that I'm heartless, because I love my Dad more than anything. But I know there is no changing the situation and I'm given two choices.

a) I can let my grief consume me and become so depressed I let go of the opportunities presented to me right now
b) I can accept the situation and choose to make the best out of the situation knowing that my Dad would want me to do what I needed to so that even after he is gone, myself and the kids have a bright future ahead of us.

That is the only gift I can give him, really. The peace of mind that he is passing knowing I will be okay. He needs that peace, I don't want him to die worrying.

It is only through my life continuing to grow and thrive that I'll have the opportunity to continue the legacy that he's given me.

I wish there was a manual for this stuff

September 28th, 2009 at 08:07 am

Saturday was not one of Dad's better days. And I'm just hoping and praying he can make it one more week till we can see him again. We are set to arrive in Hawaii on Saturday afternoon.

He said he was really tired and just not sure why he was feeling so exhausted. I guess he's been having some pain in his stomach so he has a narcotic patch to help with the pain.

He isn't eating much now and when I called my Aunt, it was 3 pm their time & she said he had urinated during the night but had not done so for the rest of the day.

I plan on calling later tonight to see how he's doing.

DH got home yesterday and and it really helped lift my spirits. I think its hard to deal with these things when you feel alone or you are the one that has to be the pinnacle of strength.

It felt easier to handle or deal with when I was in Hawaii with my family and worst when I was here on the East Coast with my husband gone. Now that he's home it feels a little better, just having the company is reassuring.

I am really hoping we can get our orders changed to Hawaii. I told DH that I really don't want us to go to the South, especially now. I know these next few months will not be easy for me emotionally and no matter where he is going, it is going to be sea duty.

So I REALLY hope and pray that if he is going to be on sea duty during this time, that I can be near somewhere that I have family for support. Hawaii would be best but California wouldn't be bad either. However, I have no support network in the South and if I HAD to, I would survive through it even with DH deploying - but I would REALLY prefer that if he is going to be deployed in the near future, that we be in Hawaii or California.

I know one day this will get easier but even my headstrong independent self is finding that I need my friends and family more than ever.

So I'm praying. Praying that I can get to see my Dad alive just one more time and that he can see the grandkids once more (he hasn't seen the older three since May '07) and that we can get stationed somewhere that can get me closer to the support network I need during this challenging time.

My Toughest Challenge Yet

September 26th, 2009 at 11:46 am

For $5 incl/shipping, I got The Millionaire Next Door off of Half.com a week ago and I just got it today. I hope its a good read, I've heard great things about it. I'll have lots of time to read on the 15 hour trip to Hawaii and then back.

Aside from that, I feel like I'm still dragging my feet. Being left alone to deal with all this has been daunting.

I thought I was handling everything so well, and then I fly back here... DH gets pinned for Chief and off he goes to go on a mission. He was supposed to get back yesterday but because of this or that he is getting back tomorrow.

There is something challenging about being told someone you love is going to die, being 5000 miles away from that person, and then being left alone to take care of four kids for 8 days.

I've been through deployments, trainings, grad school, and THIS has actually been one of the hardest things for me. Dealing with such overwhelming news, being alone, and still trying to stay strong to keep life normal for my children.

I've really needed him the past few days.

Anyhow, I've been trying to stay busy. I've restructured my schoolwork so that I'm getting all the big stuff out of the way. I had a fraud research paper to do that I finished this week, and now I have to study for my exam on Wednesday, do homework for my other class, and do another case study. The fraud paper was the bigger one of the assignments.

However, I want to get this stuff out of the way cause I have a feeling that this may only get harder because of the situation with my Dad... so I want to be able to not have to worry about writing 20 pg papers while I'm trying to deal with the fact that as I'm graduating with my master's degree... my Dad may or may not be around at that time.

Received $20 from a random stranger

September 24th, 2009 at 03:17 pm

So after talking to my best friend and letting all the news linger, I decided I was going to return the Kindle. I'll have to pay around $7 to return it and cover shipping, but in the end I think its for the best.

My best friend was proud of me. I also called up Verizon to find out where I could return our extra cable box.

Anyhow, the girls were invited to birthday parties this weekend. DH is gone for the rest of the weekend cause his trip was extended, so I had nothing better to do.

I had a $25 gift card and I knew I had $10 in my wallet so I gave the girls a spending limit of $15/each for their friends.

They actually seem to do better at budgeting than me. I even give them $20 each for the MONTH (lunch is $2) and out of that they are responsible for deciding which days they are going to make lunch and which days to buy.

So anyhow, we're in the grocery aisle of Target after we ended up picking the gifts. I turned to the girls and said "Cards... what about cards?"

And they both say they are going to make theirs.

I turn to go down the aisle and a lady is slightly in my way. But I'm patient, and sort of burnt out and in a daze that I don't mind either.

Then she turns around and gives me $20

I was dumbfounded. At first I thought, "Did I drop this?"

I couldn't say anything, just sort of muttered "Why?" in a very confused way.

She smiled and said "Its for the kids, get them something nice."

And she walked away. And there I stood, still confused and unsure what to do.

That had never happened to me before.

I was so taken aback that I almost forgot my bags when I checked out

Its good to have a sponsor

September 24th, 2009 at 04:02 am

My Dad has been paying for my cell phone through his plan, he's been doing it for me and my brother for years. And it was never that we could never afford our own, my Dad is the type of guy that he wanted to get us these phones so we could stay in touch - my brother and I never approached him about it.

But as of Oct 1st, I need to start paying for my own phone because of the situation with my Dad.

And in that process, I wanted to get a different phone cause there were features that my dinosaur blackberry (I have the old models) didn't have. We also have a Mac so having an iphone would make it easier for me to sync everything. But when my phone was free, I wasn't going to complain about what I got.

I wanted the 3GS and after talking to my DH, he was unhappy with the idea - that if I got one at all, it'd need to be a refurb cause thats what he got. But he couldn't talk long.

So then I talked to my best friend and told her the full dilemma. She's probably one person I can go to w/o feeling judged & she can tell me "NO don't buy it" and I will probably take the info from her to heart cause she knows my goals and wants to see me stay on track.

Talking to her, we came up with a plan to exchange my Kindle cover that I bought for a cheaper one... which saved $15, we agreed on the iphone REFURB (not the newest model), and her husband would give me his extra Clarifi case (I asked her if I could buy a case and told her that was the case I wanted, and thats when she said her husband had that case just sitting on his desk as a paperweight since he bought the 3GS). And to help offset all this, we would cancel our extra cable box we have.

Her and I even went over pricing my plan together to see if there was a difference between my blackberry's monthly fee & the iphone.

She did tell me she'd be extra proud of me if I got rid of the Kindle, but wasn't going to hold her breath either. I don't know if I'll be able to, I really wanted it and the space factor was huge for me but she told me you could read books from the Kindle on the iPhone.

I'm just really grateful to have a friend like her because without calling her, I'm sure I would have bought the 3GS and kept the more expensive cover for the Kindle & not canceled the extra cable box.

I told her, with where I am in life right now, I need someone to report to... I feel like I'm an emotional spender & since I handle the finances, that when I'm unhappy I can rationalize anything I want. So I need someone to call to help make sure I don't fall too much off to the wayside. And I'm just glad that I have her.

My not so smart moves

September 23rd, 2009 at 04:20 am

So, back when I found Dave Ramsey's book (about a month or so ago), I also included my best friends in on it. One friend who is a millionaire already & she has been my best friend since we were 11... her job was to help keep me & my other friend accountable.

She & my other friend knows every detail of my finances and it hasn't affected our friendship. But she's probably the only person who KNOWS me that I can do this with.

I bought a Kindle 2 yesterday. I had wanted one for quite awhile (although awhile in my terms means 1 year). Bad part about Amazon remembering credit card numbers on there, it makes it so easy to spend $$$ there.

My reasons were mainly because I read A LOT, and I like to keep my books... but I just don't have the space to keep up a large library.

So I bought it off my debit card.

BUT when you factor in that I'm planning on about $5K in additional expenses because of the Hawaii trip next month to see my Dad, even though its on my debit card - still doesn't mean I did well just cause I bought it off my debit card.

DH called me too from South America today & I told him. I had made the purchase before I went to class and in class thought about canceling it, but by the time class was done and I checked on the order - it said it was already getting ready to ship.

Anyhow, I think having to confess my purchases and bad moves every time I make one - sort of keeps me in check. I feel like I'm making more bad moves nowadays and I think deep down even though I'm starting to feel more "okay" about whats going on with my Dad... I'm probably still struggling with it.

Key is now that I need to recognize this & next time I want to use that debit card, I need to remember that now is not the right time for me to buy anything because even though consciously I'm becoming more accepting of what's happening, subconsciously I may not have addressed all of my feelings.

Chip in the windshield

September 21st, 2009 at 08:28 am

On the way to dropping off DH for another "mission"... we got a chip in the windshield from a rock.

No big deal, we used Safelite before to repair chips in the windshield. An unexpected expense of $96.95 wasn't going to hurt me and they'd come out to my home to do the repair. My deductible is at $500, so it'd make no sense to file an insurance claim. Or so I thought.

I didn't realize till today though that USAA will pay for my windshield to be repaired at no cost of my own.

So now I have the Safelite guy coming out to my house to fix my windshield & my insurance is going to pay for it at no out of pocket cost to me.

$95 round trip ticket to Hawaii

September 21st, 2009 at 05:45 am

Thats what it ended up costing me in the end.

Back in '07, Dad paid for our airfare to Hawaii (we paid for our food, hotel and rental car). Being partially handicapped from his brain tumor in '92, he can't fly long distances so he could never visit us on the east coast.

So I had racked up a LOT of miles with Delta from that one trip... 5 tickets, 5K miles one way... then we also did a trip to Vegas that year.

So the ticket cost $160, then I had a rewards redemption of $100 on my AMEX. So I redeemed my points for that ticket. Final cost:

$60 Net for the ticket
$20 for checked baggage there
$15 for checked baggage back (did online check-in)

And for that $95, I received:

Peace of mind to know my Dad would get to see my youngest (he had never met her before)
The ability to see my brother (whom I'm close to but hadn't seen in 4 years cause he lives in Oregon and was visiting that same time I was there)
The additional peace of mind to know how my Dad was really doing & that even if he did or did not make it to October... I would get to see him

I think that was the best $95 I ever spent.

Coping

September 19th, 2009 at 08:35 pm

So I've been coping. I talked to a friend today, our dads bodyguarded Elvis together...so my friend's family and our family go WAY back. As I said, they bodyguarded Elvis together & were both police officers.

She told me she'd be a wreck if she were me. And I told her, a part of me somehow knew this was all going to happen... and in a way, I've been preparing for this for years.

While my Dad was busy writing his will & paying for his funeral... I was busy doing my best to hold onto all the memories I could of him.

In 2000, for an english assignment, I interviewed him about stories about his life. In recent years, I started saving all of his letters to the kids.

This year, my other best friend gave me a Livescribe pen, so I started recording conversations between me & my Dad. I even asked him to start writing something to the effect of "memoirs". He started it, but I know its not completed.

Never the less, I spent a couple days this past week compiling everything and was amazed to find that just between the stories & what my Dad put together... there is 41 pages (8x10).

So I told my best friend, that is probably why I'm able to hold it together as best I can.... because I have so many memories of him that I know that even when he does go... the memories and legacy that he has left behind will always remain, and if I ever think I'm about to forget - I have all of this to remind me.

In a way, seeing him deteriorate from the man I knew 2 years ago leaves me in a state that - is hard to describe. I love him and I know I'll miss him forever & I NEVER want to say goodbye, but I don't want to be so selffish to hold onto him that he is not allowed to die with the dignity he deserves. If that makes any sense.


So yeah, I'm coping... Tuesday was the last day I cried and for that I'm grateful. Crying everyday was painful and emotionally exhausting for me. I found out on 9/4 that he had metastasized liver cancer (in the docs words "The cancer has practically replaced his liver & is in his lungs") and I cried everyday till I got to Hawaii, then I cried the Monday & Tuesday I got back from Hawaii.

I'm just not sure what to expect with this. I have no experience with this. I've only had 2 people in my life close to me die, and I never knew anyone that I loved who was DYING. I'm sure there is no right way to handle all this... I just have to hope that however I handle this - It'll be in the best way I can.

My Dad is dying

September 15th, 2009 at 01:25 pm

On 9/4, I received the phone call that my Dad was dying. Financially foolish or not, by 9/10 I was on a plane with the baby to see him & we changed our November trip to see him in October.

Once I got to Hawaii, my Uncle told me that on 9/4, my Dad was told he had 2-3 weeks to live.

So we're coping. I'm glad I went ahead and saw him before October because I don't know if he'll be around then.

Being this is a financial blog, I'm focusing on that aspect of things - but trust me, all the emotions are there - so please don't think I'm just concerned over money.

My brother told me today that he has a $25K life insurance policy that, split between my siblings and my Aunt (who has cared for him all his life). So that would be 5K each, $6250 if we can get our younger sister written out. Which isn't as dramatic as it seems, my little sister has never met my Dad & in her adulthood thinks horribly of him. In 2007 he had written her out of the will, but I guess he forgot about the life insurance policy.

I'm not sure what to do with the money. It would only put a minor dent into our debt but a part of me is just paralyzed - I feel like if I let go of that money, what my Dad left me is gone. I don't want to spend it or anything, I just want it to stay in the bank.

I don't know... if it was any other money, I'd put it towards the debt. But its not, this is the last amount of money my Dad will ever send.

Is it silly to feel this way?

I was fine the whole time I was in Hawaii visiting my Dad. I was there, he wasn't dead yet. Now that I'm back home, its different and its hard to be away.