What to do about student loan debt

It is a good thing I don’t listen to NPR daily anymore because it distracts me from the fun retelling of my week and weekend and what I ate for dinner (sarcasm…).  Fiona has something against all radio, talk and music – Niamh and Zoe are getting too interested in the stories so if I want to avoid topics of shooting, ebola, and defining the phrase ‘escalating crisis’ to a 4 year old I end up not listening in the car.  Today was a rare day that Fiona was munching lunch and happy and I listened to the open forum for the MN Gov Race.  I think I actually caught this last time too and Daton sounds older now…  Anyway one of the questions from a Hamline College student was “What are you going to do about our college debt?”  I guess I’m not going to run for governor because my answer is nowhere near as nice as theirs.  They gave the talking point answer of “I froze MN state tuition” and “lets make focused schools to cut down costs” and more or less avoided the elephant in the room but it was only a 1 min answer anyway.


If you asked me a question like that I would say “what are YOU doing about your student loan debt?”  (and then I might say “get off my lawn”)


I searched my own blog because I know I wrote about this topic in the past and here it is and I still think those things help you NOT spend a fortune on school therefore decreasing your debt.

quick recap;

1. Take full advantage of the AP or CLEP or whatever ‘college credit’ classes in High school.

2. Cost benefit the school with the likely results – don’t forget you want to get scholarships and have them take your credits

3. Get through school in less time, fewer semesters, fewer payments


Adding to that all -


What happened to saving for college?  I know a guy who put aside 1/2 of all he ever made from all the random kid/teen jobs he had (including detasseling corn, a unique midwest job that apparently still needs doing) and I think he graduated debt free (I could be wrong, but he was close to debt free at least).  I know that financial aid looks at what you have to determine what they can give you BUT if what they are offering is a LOAN at 4-14% you don’t really want more of that help.  So even if you only save up enough for 1 year of school that means you only have 3 years of debt.  I am sure this is over simplified but the point is save some when you are 15 to avoid paying back when you are 40.

Ok YES, schools should be looking at ways to stay affordable.  YES, Loans should not be at crazy high interest (that apparently happened after my loan years).  BUT to ask someone running for governor who needs to worry about attracting and retaining business in the state, overall jobless rates, taxes, a split government, roads, bridges, buildings, felons, taxes, schools, budgets of every flavor, state healthcare system, and I’m sure dozens of other things….  what he plans on doing about YOUR debt that YOU took?  What are they teaching in college?


….. step down from soap box…..

In other news, Halloween costumes are virtually complete.  Everyone could go out tonight and look just fine :)




Checking in with the internet world to post an update on our fall vacation.

For anyone in a rush, here are the highlights in % format

Fiona is 70% potty trained

Costumes are 75% done (Niamh 50%, Zoe 90%, Fiona 99%)

Break is 50% done (including weekend)

I still have 100% of my kids, and at least 80% of my sanity

House is 40% clean

pumpkins are 1% carved (meaning they exist in our house but thats it)

To-do map from Wednesday is around 65% done


Wednesday they declared a PJ day and that was fine with me.  Niamh ended up changing anyway but she had the option and for me, it is nice to not be telling people to get dressed 50x.  It does limit what one can do though so mostly at home projects.  They watched the movie they had been wanting for ages, they played with playdoh, they even got a new wii game because Niamh did so well on her school report and has turned a reading corner.  They also cleaned their room (with assistance) but it is less deadly in there now…  Fiona was at school all day meaning nobody had to worry about her eating their playdoh creations, stomping on their towers, or uncleaning what they clean.  For me it was a whole day of not worrying about asking her to go potty every hour.  The big surprise of the day was Fiona coming home in the same clothes she left in meaning NO ACCIDENTS!


Yesterday we went to Tamarack in the most perfect fall weather ever.  It was also a playdate for Niamh so she was super happy.  Poor Fiona ended up really suffering from allergies.  I’ve basically mom-diagnosed her sudden, vicious, random ‘cold’ that nobody else ever has as allergies.  They really do get her though and her nose runs down her throat so she hacks herself awake so on top of it all she is tired and miserable.  We got a good childrens Zyrtec and accurate dosing advice from a children’s specialist (since she is 2, but, the average weight of an 18 month old, I wanted to dose based on weight).  She went from a sad lump of mucus leaking tot to her normal happy running around snot-free self about 20 min after her first dose.  I feel bad for not finding this cure earlier….  Anyway, the day ended well and I got a ton done on halloween costumes even.  I capped the day off with a night out with some girlfriends and all the kids are big enough now that mommy is not required for bedtime (so nice!).


Today I went to the gym and we did our normal routine.  It was not so long ago that I had 3 every day so it is no big deal to add them back in.  The afternoon is looking gray outside so I’ll have to see what is on the agenda but so far so good on our break.  I think they are even having fun and I have not gone too crazy yet.  Fiona also was dry the whole time at kid care, and playing, and driving to and fro, I think we are getting somewhere.  Next up is painting Niamh’s skirt for Princess Sofia.  I made a template yesterday so it should go fast.  So far today I installed the zipper and I have a bunch of hand sewing to do tonight.  Zoe’s She Ra is good enough that she could wear it out if I pinned it on, I’m mostly missing the fasteners and a few small details.  Fiona could wear hers out now but if I have time I want to adjust the hat just a little bit.  I want them done by the end of Sunday, lets see if I meet that goal.

MEA vacation

So…. NY gets Jewish holidays, some states still observe Columbus day, MN decided to make up a reason for a vacation and named it MEA.  I believe it has something to do with teachers going to big teacher conventions and stands for MN Educators Association.  Anyway, for the kids it means vacation and today I had them make a list of things to do.  If you are wondering what I’m up to the next few days this it.

We also had Niamh’s first conference for the year and she is doing well, I didn’t expect much different but I am impressed by some of the things they are doing.

I also got a new social media client today!  Yeah for me and professional ventures!

Ok, off to parent two very excited girls that are still in their PJ’s (see the PJ day item)

ps.  translations for Niamh’s writing – starting at the top going around the circle


Playdate with Natalie (already planned for tomorrow)


Clean room (condition of playdate for sunday)


read books

Avery playdate (already set for Sunday)


A new orchard

First I have to say you know the ‘thing’ when the brand name for something just becomes the name of that thing.  Like Xerox.  Anyway, Groupon has eclipsed all other names in my head to the point where I was madly searching my email (since the app had nada) for the “Groupon” I had for the orchard today.  Silly me, it was a Living Social deal.  Living Social was first, it tends to have things I like more, but its name is just not catchy.  Oh well.  We experimented with a very very far away orchard because we had a “deal” and good thing because while the place was quaint and gorgeous and everything a fall day trip should be it had 2, possibly 3, major flaws;

1. Everything there was EXPENSIVE and for a fee.  This was mitigated by the deal since we got a meal for 4 (that was great apple brats plus drink and chips), a bag of mini donuts that the kids were mesmerized by watching the making of, and hayride/corn maze tickets for 4 (under 2 was free).  The only major thing that was tempting was a kids ride that was $4 per kid and very much not worth the fee.

2. It was a ‘no pick’ orchard.  I know it is better for the trees and yield etc but you can’t say you offer apple picking when you really offer apples in a bag.

3. No wine….  They had grape vines in an impressive sized vineyard but it was a bad year so no wine.


On the positive side they did have a bunch of kids things like wagons and playsets that were no fee, and, a very nice nature walk around.  Since we honestly didn’t want any apples since I’m tired of cooking anything and all I wanted was pictures it was really a good place to go.


The hay ‘maze’ had 3 routes to the exit and as far as I know no wrong turns possible.  Fiona lead us out and she did love the corn.

The hay ride was bumpy so my pictures are all blurry

And it was an hour away so I doubt it will be on our go-to list in the future but if you are in the SW metro it is much closer and I would recommend Luceline Orchard (if you get a groupon deal)


Home again and the last sauce was jarred.  The last Moussaka baked.  The last peppers in the freezer.  I worked out and the day ended nicely.


Today/this week is a fest of playdates and fun and all the normal things are not going to happen like normal and I’ll just be fine with that!

Milestone – tie a bow

We have super not stressed out over this and it goes to show eventually they just learn stuff on their own.  Good skill overall since they don’t sell cute shoes with velcro after a certain size…

she can tie a shoe. good, now she can tie her sisters ;)

I think I showed her once and Lars showed her a few times but she picked it up from a friend or tv or school – we take zero credit.

All the, All the, all the things

The past week has been a cooking marathon.  Lars came home from the farmers market with a huge box of tomatoes, a huge bag of bell peppers, 9 eggplants, and a few bunches of carrots.  Needless to say, my Wednesday was spent making tomatoes into tomato sauce meaning basically nothing (other then my contracted hours) got done on my normal ‘get things done’ day.  In fact, it was a mess making extravaganza!  

took her 10 min to de-deseed and then she ate it..

Thursday I had to prep all those eggplant and they went into a fantastic, yet tedious and multi step recipe.  On the good side I made 3 big trays, 1 we gave to a friend that loves it and just had a baby so the meal was very welcome.  We had a tasty dinner AND a good 3 or 4 meals worth in the freezer.  It was just a ton of work and in the middle of making this recipe I always vow to never make it again.  In the middle of doing this I got a surprise package from Amazon.  Something from my long neglected wish list was the perfect thing to entertain the kids while I made moussaka AND actually ‘canned’ a bunch of the sauce (nowhere near all, I ran out of jars and energy).  The gift made me tear up since it was someone tying to fill the hole left by Ashley but he wants to spread happy not  make us sad.  Thursday culminated in a long long in home presentation for refacing cabinets that was more or less a waste since the quote was just way out there.


After 2 days on my feet and non stop cooking I was exhausted and frazzled but still had more to do!  Not to mention all the things I didn’t do other than cleaning the kitchen over and over and over and the rest of the house was getting ghastly…. Friday was moussaka part 2 (sauces and assembly).  This was supposed to be the ‘easy’ day and I headed out to the gym where I got a good weights work out (since I’ve been on target with cardio for the week) and I got a distress call from a friend who needed desperate sewing help.  So, I did sauce while I taught her how to sew.  She has the basics now and I was happy to have the company BUT Fiona choose Friday to not nap, spectacularly…  Right down to a potty training melt down where she actually peed on a pile of memory cards.  That game will never be the same.  I don’t think I ever had such a ‘miss’ with any of the others but she was just tired I think, and, she is still on the very young side – she is only 2y 4m.  I nearly gave up on my evening plans but I did feel better for going out and chatting with my friend plus the kids were good so that always helps. Today we woke up to fantastically perfect fall weather, absolutely perfect for the race I signed up for.  I ran the 5k and they mis-marked the course and it was a 3.65m course so nearly a 6k, but I had a very good time (both fun and fast run).  The kids race was less organized and we actually missed the start but it was fine.  Niamh and Zoe and Lars really ran, Fiona ran then wanted to be carried.  We waited at the 1/3 mile mark so I got some good pictures of them running back.  I put Fiona on my shoulders and I was also carrying a heavy backpack but I ran the last 1/3 of a mile back to get finish line pictures.  Luckily Fiona wanted to get down and run so I could sprint and actually make it (left her with Lars) and I got all three of them crossing the line.  It was a Free race and paid snacks and t-shirts and that is perfect for me.  I could still donate to the cause and not feel like I was paying to run.  Not that it was a big race, maybe 85 people, I came in 8th or 9th overall and 2nd for women.  I was NOT passed by any strollers or pregnant women (the standard goal) but I was beat by a child – that 12 year old boy was just FAST.  The rest of the day was dealing with the last of the tomatoes – I now have a real visual for the phrase ‘bottom of the barrel’ – and playing outside.  We came inside at 5:30 and the oppressive mess just hit me.  It was a put it away or throw it away 2 hour blitz and we are back to decent…

They passed me! ( I passed them back)

waiting for the race to start

Zoe finishes strong


Fiona also finished, although she was passed by a stroller. Niamh Was the cheering squat luring her in with a snack.

High hopes we will all be a racing family…

I am sitting here super sore from too much standing, chopping/scooping, working out, racing, cleaning and  parenting!  I still have a little to finish tomorrow but we are spending most of the day out at a new orchard with friends.    It is hard to say I finished anything since there is just a little to do on nearly everything but I think I can get it all done and then get back on the halloween costume track.  Next week Zoe has no school and Niamh has Thursday and Friday off and I’m looking forward to having the crew again AND I can make Niamh’s costume with her in the house for trying on so the goal is to get them done by the end of next week….  I do like being busy but I won’t mind not seeing a tomato for a while.