Saturday, April 29, 2006


The saga of my in-laws continues. I know that I will get static about this post, from you men, but I can deal with that.

Last fall, Ma sold her delapidated Twin Cities duplex for $237,000. She originally paid $28,000 for the house, 35 years ago. Ma managed to pay off her house with $300/month from Social Security Disability and $90/month from her union pension. Renters occassionally supplemented Ma's income, but her schizophrenia kept her from keeping any long term renters. All of her kids have lived in her rental unit at one time or another. We lived there for 2 years, while L attended business school, when we were first married.

When Ma sold her house, she paid off her credit cards. None of the credit card debt was her own. Ma has excellent credit and several low interest cards. She had transferred 3 of her grandchildren's high interest car loans over to her credit cards, so the kids would have a lower car payment. Her 32 year old granddaughter skipped town and left Ma holding the bag on her debt. Nice show of gratitude, huh?

After paying off her cards, Ma kept $70,000 to supplement her income, and divided the rest among her 4 children's families. I think this is Ma's way of trying to make up for the miserable childhood she gave her kids. We divided our money evenly between the 4 of us. SME will use her money to further her education. Z's money is safely invested in bonds, in my Dad's name, with Z as the beneficiary. We paid off our house and truck loans, bought a couch and entertainment center, and still have $4,300 left to help pay for our garage. We have been debt free for 8 months! D and T enlarged their garage, bought a swimming pool, and blew the rest of the money on God knows what. They could have PAID THEIR BILLS for 3 years on this money!!

Ma has been bailing out 3 of her kids for the last 30 years, on her pathetic income. L's siblings have ALWAYS earned at least twice what we earn. We have NEVER asked Ma for a cent. Ma insists on being totally fair to her kids. When she gives money to one family, she gives an equal amount to all the families. Every year we get several checks, from Ma, ranging from $25-$1,500. This is an indication that she has, once again, saved one of the other 3 families from financial ruin. If we refuse to accept the money, Ma buys us something that we can't possibly use, with the money.

Last weekend, Ma kept insisting that we had been shortchanged at Christmas. We kept telling her that being debt free was the world's BEST Christmas present. Saturday afternoon, Ma had D and T take her to Kmart. They returned with the monstrosity pictured above. Don't get me wrong; we love to grill, and have a lovely 2 year old, 2 burner gas grill, which is perfect for our needs.

The grill Ma bought is designed for a patio or deck, NOT yard use. We DON'T WANT a deck or patio! The wheels are tiny, and there's no sturdy place to grab onto the grill to move it. The wheels have already sunk into our soggy yard, so that the sheet metal frame is in full contact with the lawn. I can't fathom the need for drawers on a grill. The only thing you could possibly store in the drawers are a grill brush and wood chips. The mice are going to love building nests in these cozy drawers! The grill's 714 sq inches of cooking space are equipped with cast iron grates. The weight of the cast iron makes this monstrosity IMPOSSIBLE to move! I can't wait to see how long it takes the cast iron to rust. Fortunately, the grill is equipped with 3 burners. This means that we'll only have to light one burner when we BBQ, as we'll NEVER fill 714 sq inches of cooking space! L BBQd for the 6 of us on Sunday night and only used 2/3 of the grill space.

In addition, D and T bought us a canvas grill cover, and a "professional" set of BBQ tools, to the tune of $50, which they added to their credit card. The BBQ tools are HUGE and unwieldy. The tongs alone weigh 1 1/2 lbs! In addition, they're so long that the tools won't fit in any of our cupboards. Where the hell are we going to store them?

True to Tim Taylor's (Home Improvement) theory of "more power", L LOVES his new grill. I personally think it's obscene to pay $379 for something we'll only use 5 months out of the year! We only paid $399 for our new radiant kitchen range, complete with self-cleaning oven.

Go ahead men; let me have it. Tell me how this grill is EVERY man's wet dream of outdoor cuisine. Enjoy the following picture of L happily cooking away on his MONSTROSITY!


At 4/29/2006 9:31 AM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

I am personally scared if it's a man's wet dream. :-P I can see what you mean about its size, but it looks quite nice. Hmm, as far as personal finances, I had a similar situation with a family member and it was disheartening to see him continually be bailed out. He's never really had to try, which doesn't make one motivated to do much of anything.

At 4/29/2006 11:27 AM, Blogger Shawn said...

Sorry to burst the belief bubble, but I'm not a big fan of big barbecues. Toss a couple coals on, fire up the $15 hibachi and I'm good to go.

It is a pretty grill though.

At 4/29/2006 2:55 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

I like the taste of charcoal and/or wood, not gas.

oh boy. is there a way you can invest whatever it is they give you in a CD or something? Just don't tell them, and keep the $$s till one of their kids does it to them again and they need it?

Those kids deserve to be in jail. Except your hubby of course.

At 4/29/2006 3:03 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Notta, I have no idea where we will store it for the winter.
L's family has been down and out so many times that you'd think they'd LEARN!

Shawn, you've renewed my faith in men!

At 4/29/2006 3:17 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Bridg, we use wood chips for smoke on our gas grills. Different woods add different flavors.
We've tried everything we can to get L's siblings to be financially responsible. They've always lived this way, and always will. They still haven't come to the realization that money and possessions can't buy happiness.

At 4/29/2006 4:03 PM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

Okay, now this is really creepy. My mom is exactly the same as your mom. She's so anal about making sure she spends the same amount of money on each of us and our kids. And if we prevent her from doing one thing, it will come back to haunt us in the form of a gift that is gorgeous to her and hideous to us! I've found the best way to counter this (when it can't be prevented) is to direct her what to get. We usually go with gift cards to our favorite stores or restaurants. As for the grill, we had a similar issue with a grill before. We bought some pavers, cleared a rectangular area of land where we wanted the grill, then put the grill on the pavers. No sinking or rusting. The grill cover also does wonders to prevent rust. There are things you can spray on your grill to resist rusting over the winter. For us, we just bundle up and grill in the winter. I know some of our neighbors are hating life in the middle of winter when they smell those steaks cooking. ;-) Who says it has to be summer to grill? Also, after a hurricane and we had a power outage for a few days, the grill still worked to cook our meals. Make the most of it! I mean, it's not like it's a vibrating dolphin or anything. ;-)

At 4/29/2006 4:14 PM, Blogger Sadie Lou said...

Cool grill.
What is it about men and food cooked outdoors? We're having a few people over after my husband's game tonight and it HAS to be BBQ. I wanted pizza but I lost the arguement. I cannot compete with spring like weather and a man's desire to grill.
Hi Scrunch!

At 4/29/2006 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadie: it must go back to cavedays..soooo, seeing as nobody else has come up with an answer, WHERE can I get some dino meat???...I wanna girll...

a: that's GRILL,stupid!!

scrunch: what happened to girll??

a: they're in having oer'doerves...which are a hell of a lot tastier than whatever you chose to burn (errr, cook!)

At 4/29/2006 9:20 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

Ichabod is the oldest in his family and has always been the most fiscally responsible. The others aren't bad about money, it just hasn't been as easy for them. It makes his mom feel bad that she's helped them more than she's helped him. He doesn't mind, as he doesn't need anything. We're doing just fine on our own. She still feels guilty.

I think that I lucked out in a number of ways with Ichabod. He prefers to eat vegetarian, hence no need for a grill. And he doesn't like to watch sports on tv. They both work for me. :)

At 4/29/2006 11:07 PM, Blogger SME said...

For that size, it should be able to do a lot more than just grill stuff. Like maybe double as an armoured vehicle.

At 4/29/2006 11:14 PM, Blogger SME said...

Actually, it DOES kinda resemble the land cruiser Laura saw advertised. :D

At 4/30/2006 10:49 AM, Blogger Candace said...

Wow. That's sad about all the bailing. Dh's folks are always bailing out one of theirs, too. At least they don't feel the need to give matching amounts to everyone else!

I prefer charcoal and wood, too. OTOH, if L really likes it, then that's fantastic! At least she got something useful that makes him truly happy. :-) Beats a vibrating dolphin, LOL!

At 4/30/2006 12:45 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

VV, are you SURE that my mother-in-law isn't your mother in disguise? ;)
We thought of the paver solution too. We're gonna wait 'til our garage is built, and clear a spot behind it for the grill.
L SWEARS that he'll use the grill in the winter, but I don't know.

Sadie, you could actually use a grill this size when you're cooking for a ball team!

Squirl, L doesnt't like sports either. We ARE truly blessed!

SME, maybe we should put the lawnmower motor on the grill, so we can move it, after the garage is built? ;)

Candace, I'm glad he likes it too. However, I REFUSE to clean it, move it, or let it take up valuable space in our future garage!

At 4/30/2006 5:48 PM, Blogger European said...

Does it vibrate? :)

At 4/30/2006 8:45 PM, Blogger Vest said...

Eigteen months ago we had our B B Q stolen overnight. I personally was pleased to see the bloody (as in red meat)thing go, however it was insured and despite my request I be reimbursed with cold cash the INS/Co insisted on replacing it, and the replacement is used REGULARLY; about fives times annually.
Fortunately I am debt free, Although I too have my share of relatives who owe me money and I am talking tens of thousands which I shall probably never see again despite their promises to repay, however, I still love them dearly regardless of their DE faults.

At 4/30/2006 8:54 PM, Blogger Vest said...

European, yes it does vibrate so it seems, but of very little use due to its size if i'm not mistaken.

At 5/01/2006 11:51 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

tshsmom: that is an amazing grill - and I was always the BBQ fanatic in our house - Aaron was too afraid to light the thing. So, if a woman could have a wet dream, this would be pretty close for me.

It's hard to fault Ma for her good intentions. Your inlaws money issues are not your issues, and their relationship with Ma is your relationship with Ma. None of it has anything to do with you, and you cannot do anything about it. They're not suddenly going to turn around and get responsible at this point. My advice would be to smile, say thanks for the gifts, and stay out of the rest. Don't involve yourself in any more family shite than you really need to.

And if your BBQ suddenly needs a new home, send me an email.

At 5/01/2006 4:02 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Euro, no, but it gets pretty hot. ;)

Vest and WC, we DO love L's family like crazy. We just choose to live AT LEAST 300 miles away from the whole mess.
In their own way, D and T are trying to repay us for the many times we've helped them out with food and clothing for the kids. We just feel guilty accepting expensive gifts from them when we know how screwed up their finances are.

At 5/01/2006 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what are the size of your sausages in austrilia mr vest!!!.... tiny tina.

At 5/02/2006 5:02 AM, Blogger Vest said...

Hello Tiny Tina, I have mulled over your Q, it seems to be a conundrum, with several possible answers.
1: Although they come in differing weights I have never known them to be measured, unless one is kinky.
2: Is they come in various thicknesses, lengths, colors and a choice of taste.
3: It would fitting to say, it would depend on the size of your Bite or Bight.
Tina, I can't come up with any more and I hope this leaves you satified.

What a cheeky young damsel to ask such a promiscuous question.

At 5/02/2006 3:48 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

I just realized that your barbecue is remarkably similar to Laura's tank...

At 5/02/2006 6:17 PM, Blogger Vest said...

Shawn, a tank indeed!
I would say; more like 'A THINK TANK'.
The Allied military inquisitors may be interested in using them to extract info from the enemy. EG Disguised as a sofa. the captive hears, "Take a seat pal" having done so the capt rises to his feet screaming "Dont grill me more; I tell you every thing".

At 5/02/2006 6:45 PM, Blogger Vest said...

'Barbeque grills-the Mans World.
It sometimes helps to promote the male persons macho image when displaying scars from 1st and 2nd degree Barby burns. It makes sense, that, it is hardly the activity the more sensitive female would be willing to engage in.

At 5/02/2006 9:56 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

DAMN! I AM SOOOOOOO JEALOUS! I think the backyard kitchen is due for an upgrade!

At 5/03/2006 1:45 AM, Blogger Miranda said...

Sell it and buy Ma something she CAN use. :)

At 5/03/2006 5:36 AM, Anonymous unou said...

Deep in the afro jungle, captured missionaries Sidney and Catherine Pye were to be boiled alive in the huge communal pot,and were asked their names by the cookie man, Oh Lovely lovely taste, long time since we have had scate and kidney pie. Those wee pygmies were stunted by only eating flesh.
Gorgrillers invented out door cooking, their taste evolved from beans to human beings.

At 5/03/2006 5:50 AM, Anonymous izzy dave said...

New Zealand Maori's Roasted their war captives on a huge spit, this feast of human flesh was called'LONG PIG

At 5/03/2006 4:09 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Shawn, SME noticed that too. Get me some lasers and I'll be all set. ;)

GWB, I KNEW you and L would be on the same page with this thing.

Miranda, EVERY time we get Ma something nice, she gives it to another member of the family.
The ONLY thing we've found that she'll use is the Sam's Club gift card we gave her for Christmas.

At 5/03/2006 11:55 PM, Blogger Juliabohemian said...

good for you for being self-sufficient. I sure wish we had houses that cheap here is so Cal. My sister lives in Minneapolis.

At 5/04/2006 3:22 AM, Blogger truth said...

That is a nice grill but I would not like having it on the ground like that. I grill quite a bit and am actually looking to get one of those someday.

My Mom is kind of like that with her grandchildren, she always worries about spending the same amount and it drives me nuts. Of course it drives her nuts when I tell her I don't want anything from Christmas or birthdays. She has learned to just get me a gift card at a bookstore and I will use it eventually.

I was debt free at one time in my life and then of course along came Quixtar and all that changed. We are on our way again and this time it will be for good. I hate having to pay debt type bills.

At 5/04/2006 6:08 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Julia, the cost of living is quite low in MN, especially rural MN. In our area you can get a beautiful home for under $100,000. I can't believe the prices they charge for CRAP houses in CA!

Truth, we'll have to lay some pavers to put the grill on, after our garage is built.
It's such a shame the way Scamway screwed up your finances!

At 5/05/2006 6:19 PM, Blogger Candy Minx said...

Yeah, I would have been really depresed by that gift. One it is so big and expensive, I think those are an item for the owners to choose, not as a gift, because everyone likes to cook their own way on their own appliances. My boyfriends parents want to buy us an air conditioner. We said, um, we're okay and we don't feel sure they aren't bad for the environment. They said, thats ridiculous they don't hurt the environment. So when we got home we made a pact that if we owned one we'd buy it, ask the neighbours if we need it in our apartment, and see if there are some without gas R22 or R410...both gases not good. We read everythign we could about air conditioners, still sketchy.

Its so hard when someone wants to care for you but has different ethics or taste than oneself.

I lie wood chips too, I also love the idea of an outdoor firepit homemade kind of deal.

Well, at least your husband thinks he wil use it and it is kind of fun to have bbq in the cold months.

The thing is, when you feel like you have made decisions to live simple r a little different than mainstream or credit card culture or workaholic or somethign that is ouside norm...its really hard to portray that without the feeling others might feel they are being judged or challenged. My boyfriends parents thought we were nuts and said "you can't let him suffer in the heat" etc etc

Cheers from
a complete stranger,
(I like your blog description, funny)

At 5/06/2006 12:48 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks Candy; you TOTALLY GET where I'm coming from on this situation. I wish my in-laws would learn to live the simple life and start living within their means too. ;)
BTW, you're no stranger!

At 5/06/2006 4:37 PM, Blogger JerseyTjej said...

Send that badboy to me! Grills in Scandinavia cost a kidney and spleen! 300 usd for a stupid cheap coal grill!

At 5/07/2006 7:30 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Jersey, YIKES, that makes our grill look like a bargain!

At 5/18/2006 5:34 AM, Blogger truth said...

Man are you right about the price of homes in CA. My in-laws live out there and have a house that is worth about $650,000. It is big, but I wouldn't pay more then $100,000 for it.

They have no reason to stay out there and we tried to tell them to sell their house and move to Nebraska. They would have been able to buy a home out here that they liked straight up and still had over $400,000 to put away in investments and live off the interest. Not a bad deal in my book.

But NOOOOOO, what do they do, they rent their current house in CA, and then buy another one in CA. I give up!

At 5/18/2006 5:34 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Truth, unbelievable, isn't it? We watched a home improvement show on TV, a few weeks ago. A couple paid $750.000 for a 30 yr old condemned home in CA! The place was infested with mold and rats!
Up here they could have bought the same home, sans mold and rats, for less than $50,000. PLUS, they would get a huge yard, and 90% less crime here.
Sure we have harsher winters, but we don't have earthquakes and mudslides here.


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