Friday, November 5, 2010

Really Cheap Meat

The other day I tried that turkey meat they sell in a frozen roll to make a meatloaf. I haven't used it before because it so cheap and I know not the best quality. It sells for $1.59 at one store I go to and is less than that at another. The meatloaf was okay - not great but certainly eatable. I'll try another roll in chili next time. The new butcher at the store where I used to find a lot of meat specials doesn't offer much anymore and I have to come up with another cheap way to add some meat to our meals.

Yesterday I scored a deal on a dozen eggs for 50 cents and a gallon of milk for half price. I put it in the freezer to guarantee we'll have milk at the end of the month, which sometimes we run out of.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cheaps Eats

A very frugal dinner that I am grateful we even had the fixings for:

Ramen Noodle soup with grilled cheese sandwiches (last of the bread without any mold), canned Mandarin oranges.

I was behind a woman at ALDI with her cart overflowing and couldn't wait to see what her total cost was - only $103.00. She had enough to feed an army. Being able to go into ALDI and spending $100.00 remains my #1 fantasy. Continue to obsess about food. New fantasy involves eating at a buffet or all-you-can-eat place and I used to despise them. Now the thought of being able to stuff myself to abandon holds some appeal. Maybe that is how those restaurants started, when the economy was down and there were a lot of hungry people around.

I stood behind the woman with one item - a package of margarine for 60 cents which I needed to make the grilled cheese.

Ironic that I received a letter campaign plea to donate to a boxed Thanksgiving food drive when we are so in need ourselves. Maybe I'll call the number and ask how we can receive a box ourselves!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pedicures and Shoes

Yes, it is official now - I have gone over a year without a pedicure! I didn't think I'd make it through the summer but I just kept my toe nails short and no one ever pointed at my feet or made fun of them. There were a few times that I looked at other women's polished toes and feet a little envious. I was surprised to find myself admiring black and dark blue polish colors. I guess the important thing to note here is that I survived not having what was once a regular part of my beauty routine. Not that I didn't miss it - I did. But $25.00 buys a bag of groceries and food has become more important to me than my vanity. Thank goodness, the weather is getting cooler and it is time to start wearing closed-toe shoes again.

Over two years now without buying one item of clothing, jewelry, shoes, bra, panties, perfume, etc. for myself. I think women do need little pretties in their lives but I get a small amount of pleasure every day I'm still able to keep using what I already own. Little luxuries perk up our lives and make us feel good about ourselves. So I'm not against treating myself to luxuries when I can afford them. Just now I can't.

While I'm on the subject of pedicures and feet I should mention that my sons have duck taped their shoes together. A couple of summers ago my youngest went through the whole baseball season with a duck taped pair of spikes. He did it to help save the money. The day the season ended, I so gladly tossed those cleats into the trash!

Even now, my oldest showed me how his bottom sole is uplifted and there is a hole along the side of his shoe. I saw some decent looking tennis shoes at WalMart for $12.00 but he refuses to wear those. We wants sports/running shoes that you get at Sport's Authority for $70.00. So I guess he can break out the duck tape if he needs to because we don't have that kind of money right now for shoes.

Not to say that there aren't shoes everywhere I look on the floor in our home - I'm always tripping over them and they look wearable to me. And then we have football, baseball. indoor, outdoor track and volleyball shoes in the mix too.

I'll provide a shoe update in the coming months in regard to my oldest son wanting an expensive pairs of sports shoes and not agreeing to considering the WalMart ones. Maybe I'll force him to take a look at them. This summer, my youngest was a dear and wore a pair of canvas slip-on shoes from Payless Shoes that only cost me $12.00!

To conclude however, pretty lame of me lamenting not being able to afford a pedicure when my sons have used duck tape on their shoes. I have nothing to complain about!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuna Helper

Son -"Mom, what's for dinner?"

Me -"We don't have much here... I can make Tuna Helper."

Son -"It's better than nothing."

Food Pantry Fixin's were very slim this week. Between the two pantries I go to I received five boxes of Tuna Helper but no cans of tuna! I had one can left of my own that I could use. Added to that we had the one can of vegetables I received from this week's pantry visits - a can of cut green beans. Again, between both pantries, I only received one can of vegetables! We had toast with our meal - a nice loaf of wheat whole grain bread, which along with a loaf of raisin bread were the best items I took home from the pantries.

It is funny, but this is one of the exact meals I'd make anyway, regardless of our living under financial distress - Tuna Helper, beans (although usually frozen) and toast. I've been making it for years.

Anyway, the point of this post is that food pantries serve a short-term purpose, to get a family or individual through a month or two of crisis. They're not set up to provide for people who can't find work and need to rely on them for months at a time.

For one thing, the food provided is not nutritious, fresh or enough of a variety. It is the same limited selection of food each visit - rice, pasta, mac n' cheese, soup (tomato and chicken noodle), a small can of spaghetti sauce, pancake mix and peanut butter and jelly. You can only eat so much of those items without never ever wanting to look at another box of mac n' cheese!

The only way I continue to be able to come up with halfway decent meals is relying on the ethnic grocery store that I found sells big assorted packages of slightly bruised fruit for either 99 cents or $1.29. But it is hit or miss going in there. I wanted bananas yesterday, which they didn't have. But they did have a great package of smaller and fresh apples that I snapped up, perfect for the boys' lunches.

Sadly, they got a new butcher at the other grocery store I go to for 99 cent meat specials and he has cut down on the offerings there. I am still able to find a few once in awhile but not to the extent that I used to. He will give me a discount if I find a package of meat that is up for code that day, but again it is a hit or miss process. Some days I'm lucky and strike some deals, most other days I'm not.

Last night, I made a big pot of vegetarian chili soup from two dry mixes from ALDI. I served it over spaghetti AND rice topped with cheddar cheese (from a prior pantry visit). There is a ton left for this weekend! Filling and tasty. The same ethnic grocery store also sells special bakery items for $1.29 a package and I've been able to get some donuts and cookies for the boys, which is a nice treat. The donuts I got with the apples had Halloween sprinkles on them, and my younger son is very fond of that type. Nice to get something seasonal and fun.

I just continue to find that so much of my focus revolves around food and my fantasy wish is to be able to go into ALDI and spend $100.00 without having to count up all the items in my head. The way I shop now is to go in more frequently to try and find deals - it takes up extra time and energy to have to hunt down milk deals or to scope around in the sale bins.

I have to keep telling myself that we do have food and with my resourcefulness, probably eating better than others. But it is a daily challenge and worrisome. And I don't like that my thoughts are so consumed and focused on food all the time. I do start to crave things and obsess about meals and that can't be good. There are other things I'd rather be concentrating on.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Double Edged Sword

I try to be grateful when I visit the food pantry but there are times that I leave discouraged because the pickings are so slim. It is clear that the food given is only meant to supplement one's groceries or pantry staples. But that is a problem when you don't have the money to shop for milk, meat, eggs, cheese and fresh fruits and vegetables. So you get some spaghetti noodles but don't have sauce or meat to go with it. Likewise, a package of hamburger helper. The items you walk out with are supplemental and not worth much on their own. Thank goodness we have not yet reached the point of having to eat a can of black beans on their own for a meal.

Here is the list of items from today's excursion to one of the local food pantries. By this time of the month my refrigerator is bare but I do have pantry items remaining such as spaghetti sauce, although it is canned and God awful - the worst I've ever tasted. Luckily, I have a few dollars left from the sale of some gold jewelry that I took to the pawn shop so I will be able to add to these items ground turkey, turkey sausage and turkey burger patties, all purchased at the end of code date and with coupons besides so I am paying at most for a package of meat, $1.50. I will go to the ethnic grocery store for a few packages of fresh fruit that they sell in packages for $1.29. This should hold us until I can write a check at the grocery store for some real food, Sept. 28th. That is two days before payday so the check shouldn't bounce and we'll have better food in the house.

Bread Items
- Package of 4 Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (The local Starbucks donates its bakery items at or near code and going to this pantry on Monday is a perk to be able to pick up a Starbucks treat. I remember the distant days when I'd often pop into a Starbucks for a hot tea and pastry. Now the only way we enjoy these treats is one some are available at the pantry. But it is still a treat!
- Starbucks Apple Fritter - I ate this for breakfast and was in heaven!
- 2 Starbucks brownies which I took for the boys.
- 2 large bakery loaves of garlic bread. I'd hoped for a loaf of sandwich bread to make the boys' school lunches but there weren't any today - just rolls, and Italian bread.
- Starbucks chocolate cookies (6)

Fresh Items
- 2 lb. chunk of cheddar cheese - no expiration date but it looks ok.
- 1 lb. chub of processed ground turkey - no expiration date. I've never used this turkey before always getting the freshly ground but I suppose I can try it with a meat loaf and see how it turns out.
- 3 small baking potatoes, not the most fresh but I'll bake them and smother with sour cream.
- 3 Blueberry Yoplait yogurts with expiration of 9/5. I am not sure how safe these are to eat. I suppose I can eat them but I'm not keen on giving them to the boys. When I buy dairy it is always the day of the code expiration and not after so this worried me a little.

Pantry Items
- 1 lb. spaghetti noodles
- Riceland Long Grain Brown Rice, no expiration date
- Rice-A-Roni Spanish Rice, expiration date 4/25/10
- Box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
- Box of no name brand Mac & Cheese
- Old El Paso hard taco shells
- 1 lb. bag white long grain enriched rice
- Small box Ritz crackers, exp. 8/31/10 - every patron gets a treat of cookies or something and this was ours
- Quaker Cinnamon Oatmeal Squares cereal
- Sun Dried Tomato flavor mashed potato mix
- Herbs de Provence mashed potato mix
- Package of Chili seasoning mix

- Dark Red Kidney beans (dented and rusted top, dirty/greasy label)
- Campbell's Chunky Clam Chowder soup
- no label, 2 cans diced carrots
- sweet applesauce, exp. 2/9/09 - this would have been so nice to get because usually the applesauce is unsweetened and I don't think I'm going to use it a year past the coded date
- Dark Chocolate Peanut Spread, exp. 5/28/10
- 5 oz. can Chicken of the Sea tuna
- Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies
- Sloppy Joe sauce
- Black beans
- 2 cans Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup
- Off brand fruit cocktail
- 24 oz. can of beef stew - we don't eat beef so I redonate this
- individual can of Carnation Instant Breakfast, vanilla flavor

- 46 oz. Indian Summer Apple Juice
- 3 tubs of 2 QT. lemonade drink mix

- 3 bars of hotel bath soap
- Aim toothpaste
- VO5 Shampoo - discontinued scent so there is no matching conditioner

So looking over this list of food items, I figure if this were it, all we had to eat, I'd be able to come up with only a few meals and provided that I could get milk, eggs, and regular bread.

Breakfasts = oatmeal squares cereal, pumpkin muffins, home cooked rice pudding & fruit cocktail

Lunches = Mac & cheese, soup w/cheese and crackers, grilled cheeses if I can get load bread

Dinners = Meat load made with the turkey, carrots and baked potatoes
Tuna helper and spaghetti if I could obtain spaghetti sauce, and noodles
Chili and tacos if I could get more ground turkey

Basically the pantry provided enough food for a week of breakfasts if milk could be obtained.
About half a week of lunches, and again only if a loaf of bread could be obtained.
And one dinner, with supplemental meat needed to create three more meals.

Eyeballing the list of food items I estimate the worth of items to be about $50.00 give or take a few dollars. To be able to use it in order to eat for the week I would have to add about $20.00 to pick up extra meat, bread, eggs, milk, noodles, spaghetti sauce and a few other items for lunches and dinners. That is assuming I can find 99 cent meat deals and includes no fresh fruit or vegetables.

Again, I try to be grateful for whatever food I receive but some of it is not what I would ever purchase on my own and there is a sense of feeling degraded at having to take castoffs and expired items. I just will throw them out - they shouldn't even be given away. Some weeks back I got a package of biscuit mix from 2004!

But anyway, it would be far better if there could be some sort of system that allows a store gift card to be presented for $50.00 so I could pick out items my family actually eats. And would allow for the purchase of necessary fresh food items.

I don't have much experience to go on with food pantries. I imagine they are all strapped across the country right now. Are there ones out there that are better or worse? The folks going to this pantry mostly do not qualify for food stamps but they are certainly unable to feed their families and need assistance. I just wish that assistance was better coordinated for those who fall in the sphere of needing but not being able to receive any true benefits and are forced to accept and make due with these hand outs.

Once, as I left the pantry in the winter, a young woman looked over the groceries she was carrying out and commented, "It's not very much, is it?" I was relieved, because I had been feeling guilty for thinking the same and yet trying to be grateful and thankful at the same time.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I am obsessed with food. If a Genie popped out of a bottle right now, I would wish for a dinner at an all-you-can eat place for my sons and I, and the opportunity to go to ALDI and fill my grocery cart to the brim. At the buffet, I would stuff myself until my stomach hurt. At ALDI, I would select items without consulting the price and keeping that constant total in my head, having to stop when I reached my limit. I'm guessing the total cost of dinner to be about $30.00 and the full shopping cart, $70.00. Not a great deal in the grand scheme of things.

I go to our local grocery store on an almost daily basis to check the discounted meat and dairy at-code specials. If there isn't a 99 cent deal on a package of ground turkey or other meat, I leave empty-handed. But not before I have a chance to observe other people shopping and filling their carts. I look at what people are buying with a kind of sick fascination. I feel like a Peeping Tom as I contemplate the items in their carts. At the check-out, I wait to hear the final total on the purchases and get some of strange pleasure in hearing the really high totals over a hundred dollars. Oh, to be able to spend that amount on a cart full of groceries like I used to in the old days...

In a recent book I read, the main character decides what to fix as a light summer dinner coming up with egg salad and cucumber salad with iced tea. I drooled at that menu and added to it, a ripe, juicy tomato, maybe a fresh ear of corn. The seasonal fruits and vegetables are what I am missing most now. The thought of canned green beans leaves me cold. I think about frying up some new red potatoes and making a beet salad. To have to pass up the packages of blueberries and the nectarines almost makes me cry. I circle the produce section with my empty cart and watch the people select their tomatoes, strawberries and carrots.

I dream about going to one of our local farm stands and inhaling the smells of the produce. Or going into a bakery for the same sensations. I pass by a Dairy Queen and dream of an icy cold Blizzard or cone. This has been a Blizzard free summer. A pizza commercial airs and I dream of buying an entire pizza for each of us and not caring if there are any leftovers - a real fresh pizza, not the frozen ones I once in a while pick up as a treat. Once I even had the fantasy of getting a dozen Dunkin' Donuts and scarfing them down myself - and not worrying in the least about calories or high blood pressure.

My focus is on feeding my boys and doing the best for them. Sometimes that has meant that I've gone without or been the one eating a pb & j for dinner. I don't mind. It just has been catching up with me where I feel a bit hungry on some days and craving foods not in the pantry.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Nothing Left to Cut

I have come across a couple of articles about people in debt and their plans for digging themselves out. The latest was in O Magazine with Suzy Orman as the financial advisor. One of the main advice given is to cut out all extras and luxuries. In this case, the family cut out vacations, cable, buying books and magazines. Other expenses that can go would be take-out dinners, pedicures/beauty appointments and trading in high end vehicles. In some of the articles I've read, the families seem to really struggle with all of this, especially losing the cable with the rationalization that if vacations have to be given up, at least cable should still be maintained.

I would like to read an article geared more to my current financial level. An unemployed, widowed mom trying to survive having already cut out all the extras. We haven't had cable or a vacation in six years. There haven't been new clothes or even Christmas gifts the past two years. So what do people like me cut out or cut back on when they've already cut everything to the bone? When I am using up my supply of hotel sample soaps because I can't affor my facial cleanser? That is the question I'd like to ask of Suzy Orman or Mary Hunt.

I find myself having a hard time relating to these families portrayed in these articles. They are not poor enough - there is still some disposable income available. And in the end they all are able to avoid bankruptcy. I want to read about a family that can't dig themselves out - that like me does laundry only two times a month because they can't afford the $3.00 a load cost. A family that like me has to supplement their food budget with castoffs from the food pantry.

Do you know why I think the financial advisors stay around from those of us hovering at the poverty level? Because there isn't any advice they can really give us - because we have sunk too low to be able to dig ourselves out.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bare to the Bone

I am trying to be hopeful and positive but I tell you, it is very difficult for me while I struggle to put food on the table for my boys. I wouldn't really care if it was just me. I figure I can survive on pretty meager portions. I'd probably be able to make it on only $20.00 a week if it came to that. A carton of eggs, a couple cans of baked beans, milk, soup, bread, noodles, a little cheese, tuna, maybe some ground turkey for chili. I'd cook up a pot of split pea or black bean soup and have toast and eggs and parmesan noodles. But the boys need more meat and dairy than I do and fresh fruit and veggies. They also need more of a variety. I can eat peanut butter sandwiches numerous times throughout the week, but they get quickly tired of them.

Sometimes the boys guzzle down a carton of milk in just a day. They are so active in sports, I know they get hungry. The stuff we get at the food pantry is all carbs - rice, noodles, pancake mix, canned fruit - rarely any meat or fresh items. That's what the boys need right now. Sandwiches full of good ham and turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato instead of off-brand mac & cheese accompanied by canned peaches.

We don't qualify for food stamps - we're only $300.00 above the income requirement. But I still can't afford food, and the food from the pantries I go to doesn't provide enough for us to get through the month. So I don't know what happens to people like us. Food stamps would be such a blessing because I could use that assistance to get the fresh food items not available at the pantries. Even $50.00 for that a month would be a Godsend.

We've cut our budget to the bone. I don't think there is anything left to cut. We don't eat out. The only meat I buy is what is discounted to 99 cents because it is at the end of code. Almost all the milk and dairy products I buy are also discounted because they are at their expiration. I get bread the same way for 50 cents a loaf, although usually I get a couple loaves from the pantries. I've resorted to making off-brand drink mix in place of soda. Once in a while we get a litre because we miss it - we were all heavy diet soda drinkers in the past. ALDI sells soda litres for 59 cents but only have lemon lime in diet. We're diet pepsi lovers.

This summer the boys never had a Gatorade for their many sporting events - just tap water. I felt bad about this because they played football and baseball in some mighty hot and humid weather. And even last summer we were able to afford a few sports drinks during their games. No treats unless we get lucky at the pantry and receive a bag of cookies (usually oatmeal, although we crave chocolate chip).

I have promised myself that when my situation improves I will make donations to the food pantry. But I will donate gift cards for $10-$20 dollars so the recipients can choose their own food. Or I will donate boquets of fresh flowers or bags of M & Ms. Something nice and decedant. So many times this past month I have craved something chocolate and just have that bag of oatmeal cookies to dig into. People struggling need a treat too instead of those blasted boxes of mashed potatoes and big bags of lentil beans. The thought of mac & cheese from a box makes me gag.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Not Being Able to Catch Up!

I can't seem to get ahead. Every month a new unexpected expense or two creeps up on me and catches me off guard. It started in April with the H & R tax preparation service fee ($349), prom costs (tux rental, flowers, post party tickets - $200), the van needing to be repaired ($400) and if that weren't enough, car insurance was also due ($200). That is over $1,000! The only way I managed the month of April was to re-juggle all that was due, paying the car insurance and repair in installments.

I still wasn't caught up in May. And then I was hit with the $166 needed for my youngest son's driver's ed fee. He'd been on a waiting list and I was figuring the payment wouldn't be due until mid-summer. There went the payment I was supposed to make for the van repair. Then the school wanted me to pay my son's school fees of $99 which I'd planned on paying in June in order to process his driver's ed fee - he couldn't be overdue on any prior fees or they'd drop his spot in the class. So, again I had to juggle payments and write postdated checks. It gets confusing and tiring to come up with alternatives and work out arrangements. And I still owed for a past due month on the electric bill so came up with payment arrangements for that too.

Now June comes. And my fingers were crossed that I could catch up a little and breathe a sigh of relief. But I owed $179 in school fees that needed to be paid by the end of the school year. And now my oldest has a summer club volleyball fee of $289. And he needs new volleyball shoes, baseball spikes and football spikes! My youngest is going to wear his old soccer shoes for football camp over the summer. And he can also wear his brother's old baseball spikes. Then there is the nominal fee ($50 reduced for each boy for football camp). In the past, the nice lady in the school's athletic office has been kind and allowed me to postdate checks, which is becoming the story of my life. My oldest told me he has a friend who offered to sell him a pair of football spikes he didn't use for $30. I told my son to try them on and see if they fit because that would be a huge help to us, as spikes cost anywhere from $70 - $100.

This volleyball season, my son wore shoes that he crazy glued. As tough as it is to scrape together that $289, college scouts do view the boys playing with the club and there is some hope that my son may receive a college scholarship for volleyball. so I guess I am saying it is an expense that needs to be sacrificed for. My son has already been named as a team captain for the volleyball team next year.

Hopefully, I'll only have to figure out how to afford the baseball and volleyball shoes. In the meantime, I am still juggling postdated checks for the volleyball camp and I'll have to make another payment for the van repair with my next check. I can't hold out any longer. It'll be a very tight month for us - and it'll be a stretch to get through the final two weeks with groceries and gas.

I just want a little breathing room. To know that bills aren't weighing so heavily on me.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Needing and Wanting

The spring clothing catalogs and the recent onslaught of t.v. and print Easter ads have gotten to me. I have suddenly felt lacking.

- Need a hair cut and styling - it's been four months since my last one
- Desperately need new glasses - my current ones are going on six years old (outdated and worn)
- Haven't gone clothes shopping in years - everything in my wardrobe seems tired, baggy and old
- Will need a pedicure when I start wearing open toed shoes again - my last one was six months ago
- Only "vacation" in seven years was five days in Michigan

Maybe it is just that it is springtime again when we all feel as though we want to be renewed and refreshed. Just to add a little perk up to our wardrobes and lives. To be eagerly planning a trip somewhere to see new sights and unwind.

The boys are complaining that they have outgrown all their shorts from last spring/summer. I won't have any available funds to go to Plato's Closet with them until May 1st so we all have to hold out until then.

I know my feelings of want will dissipate eventually. The first focus is to get the boys what they need. My poor oldest has hot glued the sole of one of his volleyball shoes and I looked at him play last week relieved that it was holding up because I don't have the funds for shoes right now either.

Owe -

- $349.00 to H & R Block for tax preparation
- Two sets of car insurance are due on the 15th and it'll be a very tight squeeze to make them both - I might have to call my agent and see if there is any way to postpone one payment until the 20th when I'll be paid again
- Prom is at the end of the month and I'll need to get a wrist corsage for my son's girlfriend and tux rental for him

I look at the list of items I wish for. Most are needs I think (haircut, pedicure during the summer months, clothes for the boys, prom stuff). Or is a haircut or pedicure really essential? I mean they make us feel more presentable and attractive but polish on my toes isn't a requirement. I suppose as long as we have food, shelter and clothing of some sort everything else is unnecessary. But if that is the case then no one would be buying anything such as Easter candy, backyard pools, magazines at the checkout counter, cosmetics, energy drinks, and so on. What is it when you have a huge craving for cheap Chinese takeout from someplace you know and love? If there are leftovers in the fridge does that mean the dinner treat is a no go? Gosh, would I like to go on a vacation someplace, anyplace. Not necessary in anyone's life but what a difference a few days away with some pampering can do!

Since having to struggle financially the past two years, I contemplate these questions. We certainly go without far more than treating ourselves. Where do you draw the line between needs and wants? Maybe it is a balance between being more aware and conscious about the buying decisions we make in our lives. The other day, I reluctantly picked up Taco Bell for dinner. It was 7:00 p.m., I was tired and still on the road. I picked the cheapest fast food place out there and accepted that what I'd planned to make that night would wait until the next day. I was in a bind and had to rely on a quick fix out.

In my old life, I wouldn't have given a second thought to picking up a fast food dinner. And I treated myself to a manicure, pedicure and hair coloring every month at the salon, going in at the two-week mark for a polish touch-up. And every season I'd make a trip to Talbot's to update my wardrobe. Now that's one way of life vs. how we're living now where I weigh every purchase!

I can do without new clothes myself now but it doesn't stop me from looking through the L.L. Bean catalog and spying a cute outfit that catches my attention and then wanting it. Prioritizing will mean that I'll get myself new glasses first because those are worn everyday and a new pair would really give me a lift. In the meantime, I'll keep doing without where I can. There isn't another option. When there's nothing extra, there's nothing extra. So a haircut has to wait until May as with the pedicure. It is hard waiting but I know next month I'll be so grateful for them I'll be on cloud nine!