This summer, like many previous summers, has been very smoky in So Oregon. This weekend has been really bad. In addition to thousands of acres of forest burning, hundreds of firefighters are risking their lives to battle the blazes.
I am so tired of choking every summer. I love living here, but this smoke is wreaking havoc on my asthmatic lungs. I told the hub I am ready to start summering somewhere else...I am sure by early fall, this will become another distant memory, but today, it is really depressing- both physically and mentally, just looking out the window at the yellow hazed sky...
The hub is working long shifts this summer, an unusual schedule for sure- as normally, summers are slow months for his job. But they are short on mechanics, so he is working similar to a winter rotation- 4 weeks on, 2 weeks off. It is helping to speed up debt payments and savings goals- but it also means very minimal camping and summer fun time. He doesn't seem to mind the extra hours- so I shouldn't complain. I just hate that we dont get to camp as much as usual...then again- with all the smoke, it would be difficult to find somewhere clear skied to go to.
I am on month 2 of no satellite tv. I cancelled the $165 a month service and am just using netflix, hulu and amazon prime. It is saving a boatload, and I am wondering why I waited so long cut the cord! I watch way less tv now- and don't really miss it. DD1, DIL and I are sharing subscriptions- so the cost is minimal. I did bump our data plan up a little to cover the streaming- but this is def cheaper and more disciplined than having 24/7 access. I find myself reading more, which is great.
I made a quick trip to Costco today and got a few things that will last all week for lunch and dinner. Much cheaper than eating out or grabbing something to go on the way home!
This summer, like many previous summers, has been very smoky in So Oregon. This weekend has been really bad. In addition to thousands of acres of forest burning, hundreds of firefighters are risking their lives to battle the blazes.
So much has happened since I last blogged. Where has the time gone! Even though I havent been active here, I have tried to check in on others' blogs.
Well,right after I gave notice at work (literally within seconds) I was told that my job was changing and things in our department were changing...and after hearing about this, I reversed my decision to leave. :0 Meaning, I am still at my job. I still plan to transition to my son's business...I am just not sure what the (new) timeline is now.
So far, with the changes at work I am much happier so I am taking it day by day. Having options gives me a wonderful feeling of freedom though.
My son still needs his procedures developed, so I will be doing that for him on nights and weekends.
DD2's adoption of the boys is plugging along. The process is still on track to finalize by year end. Everyone is eagerly waiting for this final chapter to be done with.
But a major turn of events is that DD1 now is fostering the boys sister (age 9) She had been living with dad's family, but it wasn't working out and they needed a place to move her to, so DD1 stepped up. Of course, we are already like family to her - we have known her since she was 2.
Other than this, things are just moving ahead. DH is still working lots of hours up north and we are still saving for retirement.
I am planning to join my son's business in 5 months and this makes me really excited and beyond nervous all at the same time.
With the exception of a 2 year break (2005-2007), I have been at my current job since 1994. Leaving the security I know here, is a little unnerving.
I will be working part time for my son. His business is growing fast, and he needs someone to help formalize policies, guidelines, and procedures- and to help drive company culture. These are things I enjoy doing- so the day to day work I am looking forward to. I also will enjoy working independently from my home. No more commute each day! No more driving to work on icy roads in the winter!
The downside are things like insurance, my 401k match, and my current salary... these are BIG DEALs.
I will be able to be on the hubs insurance, and can also join my son's company insurance plan- which is just a catastrophic type plan. My 401k will continue to grow organically...and my son will add me as a business partner and 'buy me out' as part of my retirement plan with him (which will amount to more than I would achieve with the current 401k match). My current salary is really nice, but if I am not enjoying the job, is it worth it? I am at a point I say no, it is not.
I am going to ask my son for an insurance stipend each month, to cover the cost of being on the hubs insurance.
What else am I missing?
So the next few months will be spent cleaning out files at work for the next person..and creating an office space at home. And wrapping my mind around letting go of the current comfort zone...while preparing for the future.
All the boxes have been checked, except the court saying it is so. It should be any time! DD2 asked if I would co-sign for a mini van. Her current car just fits everyone with no room for friends or others. I think that co-signing is a small thing to do for a daughter who has been so big hearted to the boys.
X's dad got out of prison and has been spending time with him. X gets so excited to see his daddy. The hard part is that Z sees the interaction and wishes his daddy was around too- but Zs dad just doesn't have the drive or capacity to get clean and to be a part of his life, and so we all do our best to help fill in the gap.
The hub has been working a lot of overtime this season. We have used the extra money to build the emergency fund, build a cushion for the months when he only gets 1-2 paychecks, and to pay down debt. I feel like we are well positioned for 2018 now. And he still has at least 4-6 more work weeks of busy season.
My son is still nudging me to come work for him. We have set a tentative date of August. I am ready to change career paths and to go part time, I just need to make sure insurance will work for me (either get on his or be added to the hubs). Working for my son would mean working from home. I love the idea of not having to drive to work every day. I live about 25 minutes outside of town and the idea of not having to make the drive sounds wonderful. I am not super social at work, although I do enjoy interacting with others. Generally when I work, I like to focus. I am sure being alone so much will be a change for me, but I also am confident I can handle it.
My son's business is about 5 hours away, and I would need to travel there at least every month or so for a day or two. Of course, that means seeing my grandbabies, so I am a-ok with that!
I am enjoying watching our 401k's growth, but it also makes me nervous given historical trends showing what goes (quickly) up, eventually comes down (corrects). Is anyone else nervous, or am I just being paranoid?
The hub worked 28 hours straight yesterday. One of the mechanics who tag-teams with him fell last week and broke his hip, so they are short staffed. 28 hours is crazy- and it's schedules like this that create an environment for accidents.. The hub wants the hours, but not to this degree. The hub also will work 6 weeks this hitch, rather than 5. Not only will he make significantly more with this schedule, but having just me here, our budget drops as well for the month. The extra will go to debt and savings. With our 401k growth, my son paying me back this year and the hubs extra earnings, we are likely to hit my BHAG a good 18 months early- which means work for me becomes optional that much sooner.
Z and my youngest granddaughter (9) are spending the night tonight. GD also invited her bestie to join us. Should be a fun night. X (age 2) really wants to come too, but he is sick and I do not want what he has...so he'll have to come next time.
With everything going on today, it may be tomorrow before I tackle the freezer inventory.
Last night the hub went back to work for a 5 week rotation. I have been reading others' blogs about using up the pantry, freezer and fridge and think this may work for me too! I am certainly going to spend some time Saturday morning figuring out how I could make it work for me. I am not even sure what lives in the burrows of our freezer right now..but no time like the present to find out!
We had to put one of our dogs down on Monday. He was old, and had multiple medical issues. But the clincher was when he swallowed an adult sized athletic sock on Sunday. We were dumbfounded when he did it- and it took a few minutes for it to sink in enough to realize that it was a really bad thing for his frail body and digestive system. He had never done anything like that before. After, I read online that dogs eating socks is not uncommon- but it was certainly not something we expected. The vet confirmed that it was not going to end well for him. So given his age and condition, the hub made the tough decision. RIP sweet Bear.
This month should be a fairly frugal one. The hub arrived home last night, but because of the winter schedule, he will only be here for 5 days and then will head back up to work. Having to spend for only me for the majority of the month seems to put much less stress on the budget. And I am in a frugal state of mind lately.
I suppose one of the reasons I am thinking more frugally of late is that I am nearing the tipping point to being able to retire. Moving from having to work, to working if I want. I am about 6 months out.. At 57, I am not sure I am ready for full time retirement, but I am certainly ready for part time...however, it will depend on some of the changes happening at work. If things go really well, I will want to stay working at least for another year. If not, then I will shift gears and figure out the plan B. It is a wonderful feeling to have options tho!!
DD2 received the reports on the boys from the state yesterday. This is the report created after our trip to the state office for CPS last month. The report discussed the boys history, primarily Z's and it was a stark reminder of why we have fought so hard to keep him safe now that he is back with us. Reading his story makes my heart ache. Suffice it to say that he was in a bad, dark place for his first 4 months of life and again when he was returned to BM for that year and a half. We new most of the story, but there were other things we didnt know that help explain some of his PTSD.
The good news is that the report strongly recommended giving the boys permanency with DD2 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. And now adoption is in full swing. They are projecting 3 months!!! I can not tell you how excited we are to be here, finally.
First of all, Happy New Year friends!
I have started the new year out with a few small frugal choices. First, my cell phone case broke- so I put one in my Amazon shopping cart for $19.99 and then pondered if that was something I really needed to do....
I pulled out the super glue and glued the broken pieces back together...which worked, but also created poky edges that were irritating my hand each time I used my phone. That wouldnt work... So I found a sander disk and sanded on the poky parts until they were pretty smooth- and finally, I pulled out some nail polish (couldnt find any clear, so I made do with red!) and polished over the repair to smooth things out- and viola! my cell phone case is back in business. Savings: $19.99
Then, I used an old bag of red beans from the cupboard, a ham hock from Christmas, and a can of Rotel- put all in my crockpot and let it simmer all day. I am now on my 4th day of very cheap meals.
And finally, my face scrub had run out. Nothing else would squeeze from the tube. Just as I was getting ready to toss it I thought back to my Tightwad Gazette reading days and decided to cut the tube in half and low and behold- there were at least 4-5 good uses left in the bottom. Between uses, I just put one end over the other and it creates enough of a seal to keep it from drying out- stretching my scrub an extra week or two!
This has got me thinking of other ways I have been not-so-consciously wasting money. My brain is now looking for ways to stretch and save a little. Homemade snowflakes, if you will.
Adoption is going slow but steady. The boys are happy and healthy and doing well. 2018 is looking to be a very good year so far!
I am cautiously optimistic (ecstatic!) that we have turned a significant corner for Z and X.
We recently took the boys to the state DHS office for evaluations, which is part of the adoption process. Adoption and termination of parental rights (TPR) run concurrently at this stage - in order to expedite adoption as much as possible.
Last week we had court to set the TPR trial, which will be held in April 2018. However, BM went to her local DHS office before the court time and signed the documents to relinquish her rights voluntarily. (We had heard she might be doing this in order to have a more favorable possibility with babies 4 and 5- but she continues to use drugs and violate her court orders, so the likelihood of that happening is very, very low.)
She has 30 days to change her mind on the voluntary termination, which is December 16. If she does nothing, then our last hurdle is the trial with X's dad in April, He is completely in agreement with allowing DD2 to adopt X, he just wants to mediate visitation. (Z's dad is already out of the picture.)
So, we are getting really close to the end of this chapter in the boys lives. They are both thriving and Z is pretty excited for the adoption. X is too young to know whats going on yet.
We have had so many setbacks, that it is hard to get too excited just yet...but we are closer than we have ever been to a long term happy ending!
Some of you may recall that when I started this blog over 11 years ago, I was helping my son with his business start up and taking care of my parents. I used my 401k to help build the business and it did great the first couple of years.
Unfortunately, my son's business, a pest control company, did not survive the 2008-2010 crisis, and I returned to my former job.
A couple of years later, my son opened a new business in an area that was more conducive to year round business, rather than seasonal- which is what it was here. (Bugs and critter problems vary depending on the climate.)
I am happy to say that he is doing PHENOMENAL! He now employs 6 people, and has restored his credit...and most importantly, the business is in a position to start PAYING MOM BACK!
I knew his goal was to someday repay me, but I wasn't sure that day would really ever arrive- but it is here. Part of the repayment will come in cash payments over the next year, and part will be in his making mom a partner in the business and eventually buying me out. In the end, this will have been a very good investment for me. A win-win for both my son and me.
This will put my retirement goals in high gear as we will end up two years ahead on my savings goals by the end of 2018. YIPPEE!
And I am thrilled that my son's dream is coming true. He is a hard worker and is building a very ethical business that focuses on customer loyalty.
Needless to say, I am one proud, happy momma!
One of the responses to my last post was an inquiry about what I do. Well, I wear several hats at my job, one of which is business continuity manager. I have been responsible for this for about 8 years. While historically, the focus has been on business resiliency after a disruption, that is shifting towards ensuring employees are prepared. After all, no matter how solid the company plan is, if the employees arent able to return to work, business (and customers) will suffer.
Anyway, that is the reason I am starting to speak on emergency preparedness with our staff and with others who have asked.
The hub, who works in Alaska, has been watching as the company he works for changed owners and conducted a house cleaning of staff. Some the hub agreed with, others not so much. We have been cautiously waiting to see what his employee status would be with each return rotation. So far so good. They have far fewer staff now than they did this time last year, meaning they are going into busy season shorter staffed. He asked about a raise, and was told he got $1 an hour raise! This is relieving because for now, his employment will continue and even better, they have told him he can work as much OT as he wants this winter. I am relieved that we may have dodged the unemployment bullet this year.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to do a presentation on emergency preparedness. The event was last night. I normally would rather have a root canal than speak publicly, but this topic is one I am very passionate about. I was happy with the outcome, and hopefully there are at least a few people who will be better prepared because they attended.
During the presentation I asked the group who had a family plan in the event of an emergency. Less than 10% raised their hands. I get it. It takes time, it takes money, it takes motivation. All too often the trifecta comes too late.
I would think that Texas and Puerto Rico would be motivation for anyone watching.
So, I pointed folks to the multitude of references on- the county website, the state website, Ready.gov, pintrest, etc. Basically, just google family emergency plan, and there is a plethora of good information. What I like about our county plan is that they provide checklists and templates in their workbooks. Including a plan to build an emergency supply kit over the course of 12 months, breaking it down to a few items a month to make it more attainable for folks on a limited income.
A simple plan is better than no plan. And every little bit helps.
I was asked to put another presentation together, which made me think I must have done ok.
So, do you have a family emergency plan? Can I provide anyone here with linked resources?
Lil Z is having a sleepover with me tonight. It is pretty routine that we spend Friday nights together, and honestly, there isnt a thing in the world I would rather be doing.
Have a great weekend!
We have used our homeowners insurance very little during the 23 years that we've owned our home, so it is nice to see our insurance company coming through for us after all the damage from the storm last month. I wasnt sure how it would work, but an adjuster came out and took pictures and talked with the hub and then a couple of weeks later we received notice of payment.
They estimated either replacement costs (minus depreciation) or repair costs. The payment amount is very generous and we are pleased with it. They covered things that we didnt think they would, like a temporary lean-to the hub had put up or labor costs for tree removal, which the hub did himself. Now the repairs can begin. There will be ample left over for the fire pit that we want to build using the hole left by the fallen tree.
We still havent heard about the 5th wheel repairs. That is a separate claim under our automobile policy.
There was cosmetic damage that was done to a couple of the exterior slide out panels, as well as to the fan covers, spare tire cover and to the awning. It will be interesting to see how they estimate everything.
Update on boys:
Last week the court changed Z and X permanency plan to ADOPTION!! Its been a year and DHS and the kids attorney are very much in favor of moving ahead. BM missed the hearing. The next court date is after the first of the year and will be to terminate parental rights. BM can turn this around through rehab and counseling, but with baby 5 on the way, it is looking unlikely that she will...she was in rehab a few weeks ago for a few days, and then skipped out. In the meantime, Z and DD2 are going to get additional counseling for his PTSD. I am starting to get cautiously optimistic that the boys will be staying permanently!!
Southern Oregon, like most of the west, has been ablaze with forest fires for weeks. We are now so socked in with smoke from these fires that the air quality is fluctuating between very unhealthy and hazardous. For someone with asthma or other respiratory issues, this causes breathing issues especially with any time spent outside. We were going to go up to the lake yesterday, but there just is nothing around that is beyond the deteriorated air quality. So, plan B ended up staying home and indoors. My laundry is done, Ive read, cleaned, surfed the net, watched a movie...and am bored silly today. Of course, this shies in comparison to what others are facing with the fires or floods throughout the country...but it is still frustrating.
At least yesterday was a no spend day. There is that!
The hub decided to make the most out of the hole left by the large old oak tree that was blown over by the storm last month. The hole is just about the right size for an outdoor fire pit and in a good spot. We have been wanting to build one and voila! nature got us started! He spent some of the day yesterday researching how to build it and has a pretty good idea of what to do now. He also cut up the tree and so we have plenty of fire wood for the pit...enough for a few years as it was a huge tree.
Since Z came back to us a year ago, he has been diagnosed with PTSD and has been showing behaviors of reactive attachment disorder. My fear before he initially left us was that attachment disorder would become a factor, and now those fears are being realized. DD2 is going to see about additional counseling for both of them, but there are days she is struggling with parenting him. It breaks my heart and I am jumping in to help as much as she wants, but I worry what this means long term. Ugh. People should get to choose drugs or pregnancy and children, but not both. Knowing baby #5 is on the way exacerbates the frustration. And so it goes....
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind.
We learned on Tuesday that our insurance would cover the damage from the crazy storm that passed by a few weeks ago. Such a relief. Now the process begins of getting bids and making the repairs. The hub got home last night, so he will take the lead on all the projects.
We have some minor repairs to make on our 5th wheel that will hopefully be made so that we can camp in a couple of weeks.
My boss has been hinting that he may be getting a promotion and poking around the idea of me stepping back into my former role. Ugh. I am going to REALLY have to think about this one. I stepped out of the role because of stress and have no desire to go back to that stress. However, I do think it would be different this time because I would be under his direction and NOT my former boss, who was the main reason for my decision to step out previously. I am still planning on retirement in 2-3 years, so the extra money would sure help catapult our savings goals. I will give it some thought and weigh the pros and cons. Money is no replacement for stress, this I know.
My pinched nerve is better and I am back to feeling normal. I still have to consult with the Dr. about whether or not I should consider more seriously having surgery to keep this from recurring. I suppose things like this are something else to seriously ponder if I am retiring. Better to have my current coverage for a known surgery, than to wait and deal with unknown coverage with likely higher deductibles. But I dread the thought of back surgery and the potential risks that come with it.
Last week we learned that BM is pregnant again (#5). Baby #4 is only 4.5 months old and still in state care where they live. Timing suggests this one belongs to baby daddy 4 who's been in jail the past 3 months, but BM quickly moved on to a new guy who could also be the dad. It is SO FRUSTRATING.
In the meantime, Z and X are doing great. Both are thriving here. Its such a blessing to have them in our lives. I had them most of the weekend last weekend and sure enjoyed them. Z will soon be losing both his front teeth...they are so loose. He smile is going to be adorable as he starts first grade.
This past week has been one to test the patience of Job.
It started on Sunday with a pinched nerve- which caused severe pain in my right arm- 24/7 pain, that necessitated time off from work, pain pills, muscle relaxers and very little sleep.
Then, my dog developed a hematoma in his ear- which required surgery...
And on Monday, we experienced a severe storm- something called a microburst or downburst- which is like a reverse tornado. Ive never been through anything like it.
I heard the first thunder, and decided to sit on my outside deck to watch the storm and try to take my mind of the pain.
It was really quiet, except for the thunder, which was really loud- and it was 100 degrees out. Lightning was hitting all around us, which meant we were in the middle of the storm that was brewing. I was videoing the lightning, and a rainbow appeared- followed by a burst of wind...only the burst never stopped. A heavy rain started and the wind got stronger. It was blowing my chairs around on my deck and lots of leaves off the trees. A neighbors horse started running in a big circle, very agitated.
The wind got stronger and the rain became marble sized hail. LOTS of hail. It literally felt like I was in the middle of a hurricane. My hammock blew over our railing, a 50 ft oak tree fell over and the roof blew off of our shed- 4X8 sheets of plywood were being blown in the air like they were sheets of paper.
Another large branch from a tree fell and crushed a mobile shed. Then a 75 ft pine tree fell, crushing part of our chain link dog pen...
And it kept going! About 15 minutes of high wind and hail- hail that completely covered the ground and piled up to 4 inches in spots...and winds that stripped our trees of leaves. It knocked out our power and water.
When it was finally past, the temp had dropped 40 degrees and the damage was pretty severe.
A couple of guys from the national weather service stopped by the next day to photograph our damage. They said we were in the epicenter of the storm and that our area was definitely hit the hardest. It left a path of downed trees, power lines, destroyed gardens, and naked trees.
Tuesday, I took my dog for surgery- having not slept from nerve pain- and having no water or power... ugh.
Its now 5 days later. Power is restored, water is back on. My dog is healing from surgery. My pain is letting up a little.
It will be a while still before our insurance adjuster can come and give an estimate of coverage.
I now have a new empathy for what those on the east coast and in the midwest experience in tornados and hurricanes. Definitely one of the scariest storms Ive ever encountered.
*edit* - A fellow blogger correctly pointed out that we didnt lose anything that couldnt be replaced and she is 100% correct. I am so thankful for that!! No one was hurt, our house, cars and RV were not damaged...so we really did get 'lucky'. Im just frustrated because this all hit at once...and I was in significant pain- and my husband was in Alaska when it happened. (poor me...lol just venting and feeling sorry for myself)
This weekend was my grandsons 9th birthday.
The backstory is bittersweet.
On December 20, 2007, I was sitting in the ER, as both my parents were admitted as patients.
My mom needed heart surgery for a serious blockage...
My dad was dying with congestive heart failure. He would be discharged into hospice care.
The doctor shared his news about my dad, and DD1 decided, rightfully so, that I needed to hear that I would be having another grandchild.
So on the night I learned I was losing my dad, I learned that I would have a new grandson.
The circle of life, if you will.
My dad died on Dec 29, and 8 months later, my grandson was born.
My grandson is now 9....half way to adulthood.
I miss my dad so much, but am so thankful for these young blessings in my life.
This weekend was a fairly frugal one.
I spent $23 at the store Friday, for chili fixings and some snacks that I took to the lake on Saturday.
Z and his lil brother 'X' spent the night Friday night and then the thee of us went to the lake on Saturday and spent the day. Today I made chili - which then became a batch of chili bean burritos for the freezer.
DD2 ended up taking Z to urgent care on Saturday with an earache that went from zero to 60 in just a short time. Poor lil guy. He really was miserable until they put him on antibiotics. However, once he started the antibiotics, he felt much better and is on the mend now.
Today I cleaned, did laundry, and just hung out at home. No spend day...
Update on Z and X:
The caseworker is filing all of the necessary paperwork Monday to start the court process of severing parental rights and starting the adoption process. BM is continuing to do drugs...but has started trying to get into an inpatient rehab program. If she doesnt get in by next week, she likely will do jail time.
Baby daddy 4 is still in jail and baby 4 is still in foster care in a different state than her brothers.
They have determined that the adoption process needs to start. Between now and the final paperwork, there are lots of things that could detour the process, but at least the decision makers have determined the best course of action at this time is adoption of both boys. To say we are excited is an understatement. BM is back in jail, the new baby is going to be placed with an aunt...but the boys will be staying with DD2.
And if I can brag on DD2 for just a sec...she earned a 4.0 on her last transcript towards her nursing degree...one more semester and she can apply for the nursing program. I am so proud of her.
JUst wanted to give a quick update of the good news...
Its been quite a while since my last post. I got sick the day we got home from Hawaii and didnt kick the cold until the end of May. Thankfully, I am better now and life is getting back to normal.
The whiteboard is continuing to keep our monthly spending budget on track. (this is the car fuel, groceries and entertainment budget). Putting it up for both the DH and I to see as we spend has really helped to keep us both aware. Since I started using it several months ago, we havent gone over budget...before we started using it, we ALWAYS went over budget...so it is working!
Update on the boys-
BM had the baby girl at the end of March, she was drug addicted and was taken immediately into foster care. The baby is currently failing to thrive. BM has made no attempt to visit her or the boys/their sister since then. Baby daddy #4 is in jail again and BM has went MIA.
The caseworker here says she will start the permanency process for the boys next month. From what they explained, it is a lengthy process during which BM can ask for help and reset the process clock at anytime. DD2 is ready to do whatever it takes to keep the boys away from the situation. So, hopefully we are getting closer to adoption.
I had the boys all last weekend and they are doing so much better than when we got them 10 months ago! (Can you believe its almost been a year already!) They are so sweet and just want attention and time. And this gramma has that in spades when they are around.
The hub left to go back to work today. He was feeling a little better, almost done with his meds. Hopefully he will continue to be on the mend and will be able to finish this hitch ok.
Recently, I posted about purchasing a white board to help keep our household budget on track. My thought was keeping it visual would serve as a reminder to stick to the plan.
I am happy to report that, for the first time that I can remember, there is ample funds left in the household account to live on for the remainder of the month!! There MAY even be extra left at the end of the month. WOW. It WORKED.
Needless to say, I will continue to keep the budget on the whiteboard!
DD2 and I are going to visit DS and his family this weekend and have permission to take Z and X with us. Should be a fun trip. No word on whether or not BM has had the baby. We did learn that she and baby daddy #4 pleaded guilty to all charges this last go around. If they are caught together again they will be charged with felonies. Given that they are still together as a couple and about to have a baby, its just a matter of time. In the meantime, thankfully Z and X are still safe and part of our lives! (We have learned BM and her mom have devised a new plan to get the kids back- hopefully the system sees through it, but we just never know)...
I am getting really excited for Hawaii...only 28 days to go....
Yesterday at work our department had a St Patrick's Day potluck. My contribution was a pot of soup. I made a batch of Alton Brown's Lentil soup- which I have tweaked slightly- and absolutely love. It is filled with lentils, vegetables, spices and I add cilantro, which adds an extra layer of numminess! When lunchtime came, the soup was a hit- all the ladies asked for the recipe- which is always such a compliment! I am relieved when whatever I bring to potlucks is enjoyed by all!!
This morning the hub was not feeling well at all, so we went to urgent care-- his symptoms and vitals were such that they sent us to the ER...where we spent NINE hours- 5 waiting, and 4 in the ER department having tests run...turned out to be pneumonia. Poor guy. By the time we left, the pharmacies were all closed, so he wont start his antibiotics until tomorrow.
Hopefully, he will feel much better by Wednesday, when he has to head back to Alaska again.
Who knew a little whiteboard would resolve so much frustration. Each night I go home and ask DH if I need to subtract anything from the number...and so far the answer is no. He is still spending bits of money here and there, but he is using his allowance. Its not just one sided, I have found that I am doing the same... I think about what I am spending more now and whether or not I want to impact the whiteboard budget. YAY! Success! THis weekend we are going out to dinner and will need groceries, both expenses will be recorded on the board, but we both agreed on the expenses ahead of time. Who says you cant teach old dogs new tricks? hehe.
The review meeting for the boys was this week. The board unanimously voted that the boys should not be returned to BM and that adoption was a viable option. However, I think BM's attorney anticipated this and the week before the meeting BM signed up for drug abuse classes. Basically, that starts a clock for 6 more months to allow BM to show she is trying and to provide a safe place for the new baby and possibly the boys. If she hasn't already, she is due any day. I am certain she doesn't want the new baby put into the foster system. Time will tell if this is a real change on her part, or another game. Baby daddy got out of jail this week, so maybe they will have an epiphany together...If the boys are ever returned to her, I sure hope she does clean herself up.
Last week I had an epiphany. Actually a V8 smack up the side of the head moment.
Month after month, I have been frustrated that we dont stick to our monthly household budget as closely as we should. Every month, I make sure to tell the hub what is in the account, and ask that we shoot for staying at or below that number by the end of the month.
And every month, when all the debits are out of the account, we are in the red- leaving me with a week or two after he heads back to work, to live on mostly savings usually skimping by, frustrated that we missed the mark again.
So, I purchased a small white board for our family room. Now, I plan to start the month off with 'the number' or budget that we start with and every receipt will be deducted immediately to show a running balance. A very straightforward way to keep the budget top of mind.
And so far, it is working. The hub and I can see how much is left for the rest of the month at all times. It has triggered discussions about where to shave costs in order to have enough for the splurges.
Today was grocery day, and the budget was definitely a focus as we shopped...I definitely noticed that way fewer wants found their way into the cart. And as soon as we got home the board was updated.
So far so good. Why didnt I think of this a long time ago???
I have been blogging for 11 years! Hard to believe.
I remember when I started blogging I had stopped working and was home helping my son start his business, babysitting my first grandbaby and helping take care of my elderly parents.
Having left my job, I was looking for ideas for saving money and making ends meet and stumbled on this site.
Seems like a life time ago... My grandson is now almost a teenager (he still makes me waffles from scratch with the 'secret ingredient'), both of my parents are gone, my son's first business failed (but he is now 3 years into his very successful second business), and I returned to my former job!
And along the way, Ive made some great friendships here...even met some of you in person- A few here on the west coast, one on the east coast and a couple in between!! Weve laughed and cried and struggled and succeeded...
And I have learned so much from everyone.
Cheers friends! Here's to many more years of friendship and camaraderie!
Two steps back, treading water or making progress. Some months it’s a combination of all three.
I am making slow and steady progress on debt. Last year I helped DD2 out financially when she lost her job. Today I finally paid off that debt. (yay). DD2 is still unemployed, but she is also still fostering Z and his brother, going to school full time and able to draw unemployment- so she is in a good financial place now. My next debt focus will be back to paying off the remodel on the house.
I have been able to stick with my new year’s resolutions for a healthier lifestyle and it is paying off. I went to the doctor last week and my blood pressure was a little lower than what they say is normal …which makes mine much lower than it’s been in years. I could come off the bp med now, but the med also helps control my migraines, so I am reluctant to. It just feels great that a change in diet has made such a huge difference. Ive lost some weight too - not a great deal, but enough to tell a difference!!
Our trip back to Hawaii is sneaking up on us. Next month already! I cant wait! We planned this almost 2 years ago – which has allowed lots of time for happy anticipation and saving $$. We are READY.
The hubs job is still going ok. However, he is preparing his resume and looking at other options just in case things go south. (He works in the oil industry in Alaska and continued employment is a big question mark lately!)
Z and X are still with us and doing GREAT. BM has a new baby due any day. Because she is not considered a safe option for the older 3 kids, DHS will likely place the new baby in foster care as well. The dad is in jail, has been for several weeks. BM and the dad are in a different state than we are, so I suspect that the baby will be placed more local to them. There is a review board meeting for long term placement of the boys next week. They have now been with DD2 over 6 months, which opens some doors for permanency- it just depends on the board’s recommendation. Since BM has made no efforts for reform, adoption is one option they will be considering.
I received my annual increase and promotion- all in all came to just under a 10% increase. Not bad. And hopefully, next year the increases will be even a little more once these new positions can be equitably scored. PLUS, I received my annual bonus, which goes into a special 2% interest account. I have let this ride for the past year and this account is now up to $7300. (yay) This is part of our emergency savings and it will hopefully just continue to grow until I retire. My goal is to have it hit $20k in 3 more years.
I also started on a healthy eating plan the day after Christmas, so a month and a half ago. I am pleased with progress. I continue to have broth based soups for lunch, lots of quinoa and chicken for dinner, healthy snacks...along with an occasional treat.
Of course, staying on track is easier when I am home alone...the hub is home for the next two weeks and he usually cooks dinners while he is here. I have talked with him about my food plan and dont think it should be a problem.
I have also started decluttering. We have a classified section on our intranet at work, so I have taken a couple of things in to sell and have been successful. Yay! Its a win win to get rid of stuff, make some $$ and NOT have to have a yard sale to do it!!
My middle granddaughter has had juvenile arthritis since she was 2- so 8 years. She has been in remission for a while, but recently started experiencing pain in her ankle again. Poor thing had to have an MRI that also required an IV. She was a real trooper through it. She has been poked so many times that, while she still gets anxious and dreads the needles, she doesnt even flinch. She was in the MRI for over an hour. We will find out the results this next week. As a treat, her mom and dad took her to dinner of her choice and she got a teddy bear. It is so unfair when children have to go through long term medical issues like this. Breaks a grammas heart!
BM is still in jail. Looks like she will be there until mid February. The next meeting for the kids is the day before she goes to court on her current charges and potentially gets out of jail. In the meantime, I had a great time with Z yesterday!
Court went well. BM ended up pleading guilty to all charges and the kids will stay put for now. The judge handed down a long list of things BM must do before the court will consider returning custody and BMs attorney assured the judge BM would comply.
Fast forward ONE DAY and BM was arrested at a drug house in the company of the person she was ordered to stay away from, plus resisting arrest, evading, contraband, etc, etc… …basically disobeying every item on the list from the judge. As of now, BM remains in jail- day 4.
So, we continue on with the system. It sounds like she will receive an additional 6 months to comply with the court orders or likely lose parental rights permanently.
This is court week for the kids. Thursday we will finally learn their fate, at least near to mid-term. Long term decisions will be set in motion by the results on Thursday. The DA has collected ample evidence to fight a good battle for the kids. Hopefully it is enough. You just never know how a judge will rule until the ruling happens.
I am happy to say that the boys are thriving and everyone in the system can tell a huge difference in their behavior from the time they came back into the system and our lives, until now. Any prayers, good thoughts, positive vibes are all greatly appreciated!
I will (hopefully) learn this week what my pay increase at work will be. It feels a little backwards to be offered a position without knowing in advance what the pay is. I think it has been assumed I am all in, but whether or not I agree to the added stress of stepping back into management greatly depends on the compensation behind it. (I know, call me crazy) I am hopeful it will be well worth it, but I won’t know for sure until we have the ‘discussion’.
I decided to sign up for YNAB after giving it a free trial run. I am still not fully sure how to use everything, but it is helping me stay focused on what we spend…which is never a bad thing.
Since the day after Christmas I have been focused in a healthier eating lifestyle and I feel so much better. (I got the stomach flu, followed by a bad cold- which was a nice springboard to the change in eating habits)… I have been making lots of broth based lower sodium soups, veggies and hummus, greek yogurts, etc. I also swapped out the nightly wine for spritzer water with juice or just lemon water. It is amazing how simple changes can really have an impact, but they sure have.
Hopefully these changes will help with weight goals too. We have had a vacation to Hawaii planned for over a year and it is now 87 days away! I would love to be a more comfortable in my clothes for that trip!
This week, the focus is all on the boys…and praying that they continue to stay in our care. (Baby 4 is due in under 2 months and mom is still denying there is anything she needs to change, but freely admits when she thinks no one is listening, that she is doing heroin and then gaming the system when the drug tests are near)
2017 is off to an encouraging start. I have always budgeted on a spreadsheet that I created years ago, but gave YNAB a look- and decided to try out the 34 day free trial. So far, I like the ease of the program and really like that it is web based and I am able to access it on different devices. Some of the functionality is a little confusing, but I am sure it will become less so as the month plays out. I am considering subscribing for a year because of the pros of accessibility.
The hubs job is still going ok. He works in the oil industry, which is reliant on fuel production/ prices...we are trying to pay off bills and save in case he becomes unemployed- but for now it looks ok.
I am getting a raise at the end of the month- both annual and promotion. I dont know yet how much the raise will be, but I hope it is enough to fast track debt pay, increase 401ks and increase savings. (fingers crossed)
We still have not had the court date for the kids. Either weather, or Biomom being arrested have postponed court since November. Which means the boys spent the holidays with us. They have now been with us 5 months this time around. They are doing really well. Hopefully the next court date will be a go and we can learn what the long term plan is for them. Z is almost 6, and he has been in foster care over half his life. It is time to give him (them) permanency.
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