Monday, December 12, 2005

The Frugal Goldies

(Warning! This post contains TMI about cosleeping, half-naked preteens, etc.)

Our natural gas prices went up twice this season.

(“Goldie, tell us something we don’t know,” you’re probably thinking. Well, here goes.)

Way back in October, we sat down and laid out a plan to save on heating bills. First of all, we programmed our thermostat to automatically go down to 60 at night, then back to a comfortable and healthy 66 after the kids get back from school (or, on weekends, in the morning). It’s not working. No, don’t get me wrong - the part where it has to set the temperature to 60 degrees works perfectly. It just never goes back up until we walk over and manually turn it up. We sleep in on Saturdays, then walk downstairs in our pajamas around noontime to see the number 58 on the thermometer. Eeeek!

Actually, it wasn’t so bad. We learned to wear sweaters and layered clothes, and the crisp, fresh air of the house actually didn’t feel so bad. Then ChinchillaBoy got sick. That’s what you get for prancing around the house in your underwear going, “I’m not cold, Mom! I’m sweating, honest!”

Last Tuesday, we took ChinchillaBoy to the doctor and she found nothing. (Then again, no tests were done.) She gave him cough drops and said to stay home and wait for whatever it was to go away, and call her on Thursday if he didn’t get better. For three days, we kept ChinchillaBoy home, made sure he was properly dressed, covered him with a forty-year-old fur coat we brought from Russia, and set an electric heater next to him at all times. We put him into the smallest bedroom, figuring that a small space would be warmer. And he still wasn’t getting any better.

On Thursday, I went to work and my parents came over to watch ChinchillaBoy. (They were also the ones that took him to the doctor.) Around lunch, I called home.

“So, how’s ChinchillaBoy?”
“The usual… getting worse. He's coughing a lot now.”
“Will you take him back to the doctor, then?”
“Yes, she said to call her today and she will see him tomorrow.”
“Why tomorrow? What’s wrong with today? Why can’t she see him today?”
“Well, she can’t, because today she’s not at her office.”
“Say what? Y’know, this is just too much work. I’m going to find someone who’s in the office every day, and call you right back, okay?”

I hung up, called my insurance, and switched to a different primary doctor. Thus ended a relationship of two years. Good-bye, Old Doctor, we’ll miss ya.

ChinchillaBoy, for whatever reason, loved the new doctor’s office, and begged me to make the switch permanent. The new doctor did tests on ChinchillaBoy, took his X-rays, and concluded that he had “a touch of pneumonia”. ChinchillaBoy was very impressed. As soon as we got back home, he got on the phone and called his friend.

“Dude, I have chest penomia. WHAT? I said I have CHEST PENOMIA! Yeah!”

He hung up, went to his room, and promptly got on AIM. Good timing, a girl from his class was IM’ing him already.

“You missed the class party,” she informed ChinchillaBoy.
“I don’t care. I have chest penomia”, replied ChinchillaBoy, manly and stoic in his suffering.

About that time, I started feeling funny. I still do. My throat hurts, as does all of my body. Apparently, “chest penomia” is contagious.

I have moved into the smallest bedroom with ChinchillaBoy. As I lie there, in my sweater and pants and wool socks, under three blankets and with the electric heater running, I contemplate our future.

Will our bodies finally adjust to the cold? Should we give in and turn the thermostat up? Who’s next?

Our bills, by the way, are looking good so far. Our electricity consumption stays the same and our natural gas consumption has gone down. But, hardly a day goes by when I do not wish that I could grow fur like my chinchilla. I’m friggin freezing in there!

How about you? What are you doing to cut down on your costs? Go ahead and share, so I don’t feel like we’re the lonely idiots here. I need all the support I can get.

The Goldie has spoken at 2:31 PM

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