Friday, November 20, 2009

How to quadruple dip on refunds

The main reason we had a home energy audit done last month was so that we could qualify for government rebates when we bought a new furnace. Because, as I mentioned before, the furnace is long overdue to be replaced. It's so overdue in fact, that when the first guy came to give us a quote last week, he opened up our existing furnace only to discover that the manufacturer date on it was 1977. That's as old as Ryan.

And a furnace ain't supposed to live that long.

And, to top it off, because it's so old -- it's a 60% efficient one (that's what they built back then) but I was told it likely isn't working at 60% anymore. Today's modern furnaces are 95% efficient.

So, last week, we had two different companies come in and give us an all-in quote (cost of the unit, parts and installation) and here's what it came down to -- buying a new furnace is without a doubt the most expensive thing we've purchased for this house. Recarpeting the basement or buying a 50-inch TV was chump change compared to this.

The good news is that our purchase will qualify for about a $1,500 government rebate after we have a second energy audit done.

But, it doesn't end there and that's how this purchase will eventually turn into a quadruple dip of rebates. The furnace purchase and installation also qualifies for the 2009 home renovation tax credit and an Ontario Power Association (OPA) credit (of $125). And, because we're buying the unit through Costco -- the promotion at the moment is a $500 Costco gift card with every purchase. And finally, because we're Costco Executive members, we get 2% cash back on all our purchases.

At the end of the day, the grand total will be cut almost in half. And, because the new one is far more efficient than the current one, our heating bills should be $400 to $500 less per year.

So now tell me, why did we keep squeezing 'just one more year' out of that old clunker of a furnace?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An update and a thanks

I've been busy lately...doing...well...I have no idea what I've been doing actually. But somehow, I've been busy. The days are just kind of floating by right now, which means I really should get on that Christmas shopping and Christmas card thing.

But this morning's post is really just an update to last week's post. My do-I-start-running-a-daycare-service post. I've decided not to take my friend's child in. I put a lot of thought into it. A lot. Maybe too much. But what it came down to is that I'm a mom, not a childcare provider. And by that I mean, since it's my kids I hang out with all day, some days the fun-filled activity is to go do the groceries. And it's ok for me to say to them, 'play nicely for 10 minutes, mommy just needs to sit' because they're my kids. But somehow, it doesn't seem right to do that and say that when I'm being paid to care for, stimulate and educate someone else's kid.

I told my friend all this and more and she was pretty understanding about it. I did tell her, however, that I'd be willing to consider part-time if she needed. Having a part-time kid would mean I could totally focus on the kids the days she's here, get errands or whatever done on the days she's not, still have enough energy (I hope) to take on freelance gigs for evening work and manage to keep a small portion of my sanity intact.

I'll keep you posted on whether or not that comes about.

This post is also just to say thanks to all who commented -- either on my post, by e-mail to me or in person -- to my post about Austin's major meltdown. You have no idea how much better that made me feel to hear how many other moms have been there, are still there, and/or are dreading the day they get there.

When your child is screaming at you like that, and completely defying everything you say or tell them to do, you feel like you're alone in the battle and that your kid is the only one that behaves this badly. It's nice to know that everyone elses kids can also look like a devil child from time to time.

Monday, November 09, 2009

An interesting suggestion or a crazy notion?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine approached me for a favour. When asking, she assured me there would be no hard feelings if I said no.

This favour? Would I be interested in providing child care for her child when she goes back to work in February for a short, five-month period. (That is, until the end of June when she has more permanent arrangments already in place.) She has offered to pay me the going home daycare rate for this five-month period.

My gut instinct was 'hell no, then I'd be wanting to sell three kids on my front porch instead of two' but then I started to put some thought into it and wondered if it may be kind of fun.

Or it may just be a crazy idea and that I'm crazy to even consider. I mean let me honest, there are many a days that I'm pulling my hair out from dealing with my own two kids.

I have to give her an answer soon, so here we go:

  • I'm home all day with two kids anyway, so if I take on a third, I can be paid to be home all day with kids.
  • In a weird way, it may actually be fun and would give my kids someone else to play with during the day (although I'm sure the novelty of having her around would wear off after a short time).
  • I like thinking up (or researching) new things to do or teach my kids, so it wouldn't be a stretch to add a third child to that mix.
  • My day with her wouldn't be as long as my day with my own kids. She'd get dropped off just before 8 a.m. and picked up around 4 p.m. (and she'd nap for 2 to 3 hours in the afternoon). My day with my kids is from 7 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. and the most difficult part of the day is the after 4 p.m. time when they're cranky/wired/bored and I need to make dinner. My friend's daughter would be gone by this time of day.
  • Taking her in might be enough to turn me off the idea of wanting a third kid ;-).
  • It's not actually all that much money. Paying daycare is a lot of money when you're deducting it from the salary you make by going to work, but when you're the one staying home and making that money, you realize how little daycare workers really make.
  • She's almost a full year younger than Alex (and therefore 3 years younger than Austin) which means many of the activities I do with my kids now wouldn't be easily transferable to a younger child (i.e. crafts -- Alex is 19 months and she's just starting to be able to do these things whereas at 12 months she wasn't interested).
  • She may not even be walking yet, which presents a whole other set of challenges.
  • It would be just me, all the time. Right now with my two, it's just me about 90 per cent of the time. But from time to time, my sister, sister-in-law, or parents come over and hang out with the kids while I get a few other things done. It's a godsend having them do that; it helps keep me sane. I wouldn't be able to do this if I take on another kid, because I couldn't expect them to do what I'm being paid to do. (Although as a side note, my friend said she would easily be able to make alternate arrangements for her daughter with advance notice if I needed a 'day off'.)

The biggest con right now, and the one that is the sticking point and would be the main reason to say no above and beyond all my other thoughts is the car issue. A big part of what keeps me sane during the day, and keeps the kids engaged, is having the ability to take them places. Whether it be to the zoo, a playgroup, the mall to run errands or a city program, we go places. A lot.

And as it stands right now, I can't get a third car seat in my back seat. And if I can't add a car seat, I can't go anywhere. I can't even take Austin to school two mornings a week without walking (and it's a 30 minute walk at my pace, each way and he's only in school for 2 hours). And if I can't go anywhere, I'm adding to my level of insanity while limiting myself to walking distance only locations. And that I can't do.

Apparently there are thinner models of carseats you can buy specifically to be able to put three across in a back seat -- and we have the option as well, that by the time this girl would start coming to me, Austin will be old enough to sit in a booster seat. But will he be heavy enough?

All these options are great, and I can look into them. But before I bother, I need to figure out if I want to even bother. Or if I prefer to keep what little bit of sanity I left.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

He sure is a stubborn one, isn't he?

I remember when Austin was about 8 or 9 months old, and in order to get him to take a nap when he didn't want to but I knew he was tired, I'd have to let him scream in his bed. Some days, he would scream for upwards of 45 minutes, just to sleep for 30 minutes.

In fact, one day I was using this practice when my mother-in-law was over and her only comment on this practice was 'he sure is a stubborn one, isn't he?'.

Well, it's three years later and nothing's changed.

As I write this (as a theraputic way to reduce my anger), Austin is in his room screaming his head off. And it's been going on for 90 minutes now.

For the record, the complete and total meltdown didn't start over the need to take a nap (even though he's tired today) it started over me telling him no. As in, stop throwing that blanket over your sister's head because she doesn't like it. Somehow, that reprimand resulted in the creation of a monster.

He's screamed, he yelled, he threw things at me. So, I picked him up and told him enough was enough (because he's been in meltdown city for two days now), he was going to bed. And I put him to bed.

Then I put Alex down for her nap at 1:15 -- where she promptly fell asleep amid the noise coming from her brother's room.

Eventually, I went back into his room to 'talk' to him about his behaviour and then to even offer an olive branch and tell him he could play for five more minutes before rest time. Well that wasn't good enough and he told me so. And so the fight began again.

I don't need to bore you with the details of power struggling with a three-year-old. Because anyone who has a toddler or preschooler knows how fruitless these power-struggles are. But now, 90 minutes later, he's screaming in his room (in the dark, by the way) and I'm sitting downstairs at the computer with the music turned up loud enough so that I don't have to hear him anymore Yes, I know, real mature of me. But I can't stand to listen to him anymore. And for fear of doing something I'll later regret, I'm instead choosing to calm down by listening to music and drinking a cup of tea. Which was hot an hour ago, but hey, you can't have everything.

He's stubborn enough to sit there and keep screaming for hours if I let him. Without ever falling asleep or ending this behaviour. So sooner or later, one of us will have to give -- and it'll likely be me, because I can't let him scream there for hours on end, can I? I mean, he's just that stubborn.

And I hate to admit it, but he got that trait from me.