Monthly Archives: March 2013

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So we’re counting down the days now until my first born turns 4.

(the second born actually turns 2…tomorrow!)

Crazy — right?

For those who’ve been reading the content on this silly website over the years, his “birth posting” probably doesn’t feel like that long ago. Sorry to tell you, it is.

Anyway, what’s the big deal with turning 4?

Organized hockey.

Yep, when he turns 4, he’ll be old enough to sign on with a USA Hockey sanctioned hockey team. He’s excited. And it’s safe to say that I’m excited too.

Very excited.

The downside is that he turns four just as the weather is, well, let’s just say it’s not traditional ice hockey weather.

Sure, with a little effort, elite level teenagers might be able to find a tournament only team to skate with in June, July, and August but a four-year old?

No such luck. Especially in the United States.

But that won’t deter us. We’ll work on his stick handling and hockey sense more this summer (as well as with the soon-to-be two years old brother who I’ll predict right now will be the better player eventually) to give him a HUGE advantage over other kids his age.

That said, I think he’s already light years ahead of most in his age group, skill-wise, anyway, and that’s not just because I taught him everything he knows.

I’m realistic enough to know that he’s likely not the next Wayne Gretzky.

He’ll be a darn fine Mite. He might even be a good Squirt before the other kids start catching up…

(Youth hockey levels have the silliest of names…)

But the key thing we need to work on is his skating.

He can be the best stick handler in the world or even have the hardest slap shot but it won’t mean anything if he can’t skate…and, as of right now, there are definitely kids in his age group, though a very select few, that are much further along.

He’s been on skates now for almost and entire year.

There have been really promising ups… and some discouraging downs along the way.

One week I think he finally has it and then, the next, it’s like he’s lost all ability to balance himself on strips of metal 3mm wide…on ice.

He’s three.

I get it.

I’m not going to push him like a crazy honey boo-boo type of parent but I’m certainly going to encourage “hockey” every chance that I get.

So far, my enthusiasm is met and both kids take direction really, really well. I’m ecstatic.

The plan is to be on the ice at least once a week from April through September — with a slight chance of a “real” learn to skate class worked in as well.

Most hockey programs require a learn-to-skate class (within their program) prior to joining a team, especially with such a young player, but I’m hoping to bypass that entirely.

He can skate in circles or around cones all he wants with me during a public skate. What I can’t offer is a real hockey environment in full equipment.

He wants to be a “hockey guy”, not take lessons.

I took a learn to skate class as a kid. For me, it felt more like an introduction to figure skating… and that’s not really what I wanted or needed at the onset.

Don’t get me wrong, while I’m not real keen on ever seeing my boys in tight sequin shirts, figure skating is awesome too. The speed a figure skater can generate in two strokes, going backwards, is truly amazing.

It’s no wonder than NHL teams usually have a figure skater on staff (usually female too) continually showing the multi-millionaires how to skate properly to improve their game.

Most figure skaters could skate circles around any professional hockey player. While twirling.

Anyway, for me, while I was a bit older than three at the time, what I needed most was… ice time.

Observation, which my kids get plenty of, and ice-time to mimic the movements.

Ice-time is clutch.

A 45-minute session with a world class figure skater once per week, while definitely valuable, isn’t what I think would be best for a little kid just getting started.

Two practices a week and cross-ice games on Saturday and Sunday — in addition to a public skate with the family — would make skating like second nature in short order.

That’s what jumping right on to a team will offer.

Are five days a week on the ice too much for a four year old?

My head says yes — perhaps even too much of a time commitment for me.

But my kids want to “play” hockey in the kitchen pretty much all the time so… maybe it’s not too much.

And, as a bonus, my kitchen floor will be spared some abuse.

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MiniVanOkay, okay, okay…

We didn’t get a new car. As of today, we still have four cars… soon to be three, though.

The Toyota Tacoma has been driven maybe five times in the past six months so we’re passing it on to a member of the family who’ll actually get some good use out of it.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been great having a pick-up truck in our fleet. Being able to pick up furniture and appliances on our own schedule is really really convenient.

And dump runs? Well, we’ve put some pretty horrid things in the bed of that truck that I’d never ever never consider putting inside one of our other cars. Those days are now over.

In the end, we won’t have an extra car clogging up the driveway and we’ll save a few bucks on insurance and property taxes. All-in-all, giving the truck away is a good thing.

So that leaves us with the Land Rover Discovery, the Scion xA, and the super impractical BMW Z3.

Two drivers and three cars.

Yep, still stupid.

And now we want to get a new car. Notice that I said “new” car instead of “another” car.

See? We’re getting smarter…

So the plan is to trade in either the Land Rover or the Scion but it’s a pretty tough decision…

The Land Rover is older… but has fewer miles on it.

And the Land Rover is bigger than the Scion… but only takes premium gas and with a V8, well, it drinks a lot.

Basically, the cars kinda cancel one another out.

Scion’s positives, as if I didn’t already make it clear, are that it’s newer, runs better, it’s fuel efficient, it has cool neon mood lighting in the interior, and we’ve been the sole owner. It’s also a “Limited Edition Release Series 2.0″ — whatever that means…

The Scion’s negative is that it’s really small. We can get all four of us in it, comfortably, but that’s it.

The Land Rover’s positive, besides being a car that I’ve always wanted to own, are that it’s big and it has really low mileage for being nearly a decade old… That, and it still sorta feels “new” since we’ve only had it for a couple of years now…

The biggest downside is that it’s a four-wheel drive V8 that takes premium gas only. That means it costs me between $85-$100 to fill up every 10 days or so.

It also feels like it’s been pretty costly on the maintenance side of things, though some of that was due to those accidents that were 100% not my fault. What can I say, big cars get hit more often, I guess…

That said, I feel “safer” in the Land Rover than I do in the Scion. Had that most recent fender bender been in the Scion, well, first off, it would have been totaled but secondly, I think I’d have “felt” it.

Instead, I broke a rear fender light (that cost me like $90 to fix) and an Impala was destroyed and undriveable…

So the plan is to trade one of them in and buy a used minivan where the kids will each get their own seating row.

We’re sizing up.

And that’s why, right now anyway, it feels like we should trade the Scion in.
Another factor is that it’ll probably be worth more as a trade-in than the Land Rover. I know that sounds crazy — they’re only one model year apart with a MSRP difference of $30k — but how many folks out there want a 10 year old gas guzzler?

So, regardless of which car we trade in, the plan is to get either a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey. My wife and I both prefer the Sienna — I hate the name but can’t argue with the longevity and reliability of a Toyota (based on the Tacoma and the Scion).

Yep, we’re right back to where we were two years ago.

The tough part is that we (still) can’t really afford (or maybe we just don’t want to have to pay for) a new or used car.

Eh, maybe I’ll start looking at a Lamborghini again…

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Yesterday’s big financial news was about how the DJIA increased it’s previous high mark — set back on October 9, 2007.

Now I’ve always had a pretty large percentage of my “wealth” (it feels silly to use that word) invested so let’s see where I was then and where I am now…

Before even looking into it, I’ll all but positive that I’m not, you know, just now getting myself back to where I was 5+ years ago like the “news” would indicate. I’m light years past it.

Yep, just what I thought…

My 401k balance alone was $65,153 at the end of .

This morning the balance is $148,656.

Enough with the doom and gloom attitude…

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February 2013 Net WorthWow. What happened?

I mean, I take a month and a half off and my net worth increases by $10k and I’m suddenly carrying credit card debt again…

Now, of course, I’ll take the $10k gain any time, I mean, that’s nothing to sneeze at. I’m on the verge of doing my best Vanilla Ice dance to celebrate my seemingly effortless gains.

But in reality, since I haven’t been keeping up on my finances here, things have sorta been, well, aimlessly out of control.

Sure I gained a huge amount but that was really nothing more than luck. It had nothing to do with any recent decision of mine.

The new found debt, however, was because there wasn’t anyone behind the wheel. No doubt about it.

I spent.

I spent some more.

Then I spent more.

And then I thought I had more in my checking account than I really did.

And then I “borrowed” from savings.

And then I spent.

It’s been at least 5 years since I’ve gone on a tear like that — spending like crazy on, well, “nothing”.

The reason it hasn’t happened in so long is because I normally stay on top of my finances — on a DAILY basis.

Keeps me in check, you know?

Well, that hasn’t been happening and the fact that my 401k and home value bailed me out this month doesn’t mean that I’m a-okay with the past 45 days.

I’m not.

I’m pissed, actually.

I mean, I’m supposed to be like halfway to being able to pay for the new garage I was to break ground on this year.

Guess what?

I’ve got nothing.

So,now that it’s March, it’s time to get real.

Can You Dig It?

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