Catching up

I'm generally feeling exhausted. I have so many things I want to get done over the next week (before leaving for Young Life camp), and it feels like there's never enough time to do them all. And I don't want to just dedicate myself to my to-do lists - I want to spend time with friends and family, too. Which makes things just a little more vague, at a time when I feel like I'm straining for clarity.

Dad's weight-loss surgery was yesterday, and things seemed to go pretty well. His liver is pretty small, which can be caused by his weight (apparently, fatty tissue can do more damage than alcoholism). The doctors did a biopsy, and depending on the results, may not be able to do the second weight-loss surgery that Dad wants.

I decided to forgo white-water rafting this summer for a trip out to Chicago. I'll spend some time there, then drive with friends to Homecoming (my five-year college reunion!), then back to Chicago for a couple more days. I'm excited, because I'll get to see all of my midwest friends, even though they're spread through three states.

We leave for camp a week from tomorrow, and to be honest, I'm not looking forward to it. I think it's because I'm overwhelmed with what I need to get done between now and then. And then, of course, camp isn't exactly relaxing. It's a lot of fun and very rewarding, but it's exhausting and hard work, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually - so it's not really a vacation. I think I need to get my heart in the right place.

I offered to babysit Jacob for most of the day tomorrow. Mom can't do it, as Dad will hopefully be home by then and she needs to be able to be with him. Katie has the day off, and has the opportunity to go to Kings Dominion with friends. She wasn't telling me because she wanted a babysitter, because she had resigned herself to the fact that she couldn't go. Which is probably why I offered in the first place, and because I get to spend time with Jacob, and because it's something I can give her that she will value.

I think she will value it, too, and does - otherwise, I would be kicking myself for being a doormat where my family is concerned. This is one thing that I'm vowing, though - I will not feel guilty about asking my family for help when I need it. I'm pretty independent, and don't need a lot, but give and take is what a family should be about.

Laser Vision Surgery

I had my yearly eye exam with my doctor today (everything's perfectly fine), and we talked a bit about Laser Vision Surgery. I would really, really love to get this. It just seems so much more convenient than having to deal with contacts and glasses.

The problem? It's so expensive! I know that there are probably places I could get it where it would be less expensive, but this is the only place my doctor will recommend. And I have enough recurring eye issues that I'm really hesitant to go anywhere else. I know I'll reap some of the cost back, between buying contacts and the contact lens exams my insurance doesn't cover. But that's more of a long-term consideration.

I've been saving for this, though not seriously - a little bit of money every two weeks on payday, but hardly enough to make a dent in the total. I could get more serious about it, but it just seems so far away, even if I get a roommate and have money coming in there. In the meantime, I can think of a ton of other things to do with the money I've already saved - everything from the responsible (pay down the HELOC) to the generous (Young Life campership) to the frivolous (buy furniture, take a vacation).

I don't know what to do, and I'm a little disheartened.

Decluttering the basement

The sump pump in my parents' basement recently failed, flooding their basement (including the apartment where my sister lives) with 2 inches of water. Because of the water damage and the need for space to move furniture while new carpet is being installed (in the apartment half of the basement), my mom has initiated a massive decluttering and re-organizing of the entire basement.

It's been interesting to watch her approach to so much of it, since I'm very methodical in the way I deal with large projects like this. Part of this is just my nature, and part of it is that I like organizing. I think about it a lot and am often reanalyzing the best way to go about accomplishing things.

The most important thing for me is that I need to see progress. Some people can just work and know that if they've worked hard for a couple hours, that's enough, and they're proud of what they've accomplished. I, however, am not one of them.

This is part of the reason I'm so particular about going through things in a specific order, and about breaking big projects into smaller tasks. If nothing else, I at least need to see the checkmark on that to-do list.

I'm trying to help her as much as I can, but it's frustrating to me, because I don't always feel like I'm getting anything done (though I know we are). I'm trying to remind myself that the point here, for me, isn't to declutter and organize her basement, but to help her. And as long as I'm down there with her, working, and she feels good at the end of the day, I can check that off my to-do list.

I'm still going to organize my decluttering and organizing projects my way, though.


Last night, after Campaigners (a Young Life thing), we headed to Jimmie Cone, and then back to Kate, Bethany, and Erin's apartment for a while. It was an interesting group of people - Katherine (one of my Campaigners) rode to Campaigners with me, so she was there, plus Kyle, Pete, and Rico (friends, and Kyle is one of my co-leaders). Then Colin, one of Kate and Josh's Campaigners, stopped by with his friend Aman. All in all, it was weird - I've never hung out with that group of people together before, I think. But it was fun.

Oh, and we played Mafia, which would be why I called this post Mafia in the first place.

A new roommate, and additional monthly income

My friend Bethany will probably be moving in with me next month. I say probably, because this is technically dependent on her current roommate Kate moving out, which is almost-but-not-quite certain. This will only be for a few months, until her wedding in mid-November.

Last night I worked out what I would charge for rent and utilities ($350-$400), and then, of course, started dreaming about what I would do with the money. I have several options.

Option 1
I could just put the money toward paying off my home equity line of credit. The problem with this option is that the HELOC is so stinkin' large, it feels like I'm never making any progress. I've recently changed my monthly budget to be more aggressive about paying this off, but because this is only three months worth of additional income, I just don't feel like it will make much of a dent.

Option 2
I could put the money, at least some of it, toward some house things I've been thinking about - refinishing the wood floors on the first level, buying a new coffee table and entertainment center, and/or adding wood floors in another part of the house (maybe the master bedroom). This, honestly, feels like the most frivolous way to spend the money, though some of these things will clearly be investing in things that will improve the value of my home.

Option 3
I could put the money toward Laser Vision eye surgery. I currently have a savings fund for this, though I'm not aggressively funding it. It currently has $769.36, and three months of rent would bring that total to a little over $1800. This would be most of the money I need for the surgery, according to the most recent numbers from my doctor (I'll be getting updated ones later this month). I think that if I managed to get close to my goal here, I would get pretty agressive about setting aside the rest of it. Then, I would take the amount I'm currently directing to this fund every two weeks, and redirect it to the HELOC.

Different views on finances

It's interesting to me how so many people can have so many completely opposite views of money. I wonder why that is, and while I'm sure that your learning environment plays a part, I can't help but think that there are many other factors involved. So many times I've had conversations with my parents, about things that seem so logical to me, and yet, we have differing viewpoints.

My father and I had such a conversation this weekend. While I was reconciling my most recent bank statements, he began to question me about the different accounts that I had, particularly savings accounts. (I have a local savings account, with just enough in it to cover an immediate emergency, with the rest of my emergency funds, as well as savings toward irregular expenses in an online money market account).

He also asked if I had set up overdraft protection with my checking and savings accounts. (With overdraft protection, if I overdraw my checking account, my bank will use funds from my savings account to cover the overdrawn items, and charge a fee less than what I would be charged without overdraft protection). I don't, because I don't see the need for it. The only way I should be overdrawing my checking account is because I'm not paying attention, and the money in my savings account should be saved for true emergencies. If any of those come up, I ought to be aware of it enough to intentionally use the emergency fund.

Dad doesn't agree - he thinks that overdraft protection provides a nice "cushion." I say that the overdraft protection isn't the cushion, the money is. And the money is still there, and easily accessible. In fact, it's even more guaranteed to be accessible, because I won't ever dip into it without meaning to.

I didn't explain this to him, though - I just changed the subject. My father is a very intelligent man, and ordinarily very logical - just not always when it comes to money.

And yet another...

So after the family medical issues of last night, Jacob seems to be mostly okay, though he has been nursing an on-again, off-again fever all day together. It got pretty high this afternoon, when he fell asleep laying on me on the sofa, but finally broke a little over an hour ago.

Mike (Jacob's dad and my sister Katie's husband) is another story. He played football tonight with guys from work, and called Katie to say that he had messed up his eye, thought he had a concussion, and was driving home. He finally stopped at a friend's house, but as of the last we heard, was unwilling to go to the emergency room. (Mike is your stereotypical, pain-is-all-in-your-head, never-see-a-doctor male). Katie's trying to convince him.

It's crazy, I tell you.

Family crisis

My nephew, Jacob, had to spend the night in the hospital last night.

He got into my dad's pills, which is pretty scary in itself, since Dad takes all kinds of crazy blood pressure, diabetes, and pain related stuff. In particular, though, we think he took a pill to lower blood pressure. So he went to the emergency room, and they admitted him for the night to monitor his blood pressure.

He's okay, thank God, and took a very long nap this afternoon, as he wasn't able to sleep much last night. My sister is pretty exhausted, too, since she spent the night at the hospital, and went into work for a few hours this afternoon/evening. I took the day off, so I could watch Jake this afternoon while Katie was at work and Mom and Dad were at a doctor's appointment.