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Archive for November, 2013

OT - Good-bye to our Z- until we meet again

November 25th, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Frown

It is with a sad heart that I post that Z is leaving tomorrow morning. DD2 has to drop him off at the DHS office by 8:15am and he flies out with his grandma at 10am. That will be his first meeting with grandma, since she doesnt arrive here until midnight tonight. I wished there was more transition time for Z- at 32 months old, he will not understand.

Tonight I am going to DD2s to help pack Zs belongings and help get him ready- I am also going with her in the morning to be a shoulder if she needs one.

Fortunately, bio-dad is still doing everything possible to regain custody- but after watching this unfold, WHO KNOWS what will happen there.

All I know is that Z's little world as he knows it is about to change- and there is not much we can do to help him understand.

I hope and pray Z is resilient, and that grandma and her new husband are kind and loving- and that someday Z understands just how fully he was/IS loved by his extended family.

Small space living and winter challenges

November 22nd, 2013 at 10:58 am

Oh boy.

Our first freeze and it didnt go so smoothly in the small house. Woke up this morning to a 49 degree house and no water. Brr and drats! The porch steps were iced over too. Luckily, no broken bones.

Thankfully, the hub is home for three more days and can check into why the heater stopped, why the water stopped and fix the slip n slide we call the porch. Definitely makes me leery of the next 5 weeks while the hub will be in Alaska.

Hauling laundry up to the big house and back isnt as much fun in the wind, rain and mud either. Frown But, we will make it all work.

Taking an objective look, I know that the issues I am having are not because of small space living- but they are frustrating none-the-less.

Today we are having a pot luck lunch at work. This has been a super busy week, so making something from home didnt happen. Luckily, several people needed last minute items, so someone was going to the store and I was able to chip in. Whatever is over and above, my job will pay for- so it wasnt as expensive as I had anticipated.

I am so glad it is Friday. The first week back from vacation is always a marathon. I am ready to swap hats for a couple of days. Thankfully, next week is a short 3 day work week, followed by a 4 day weekend. Big Grin



2014 Budget pre-work

November 21st, 2013 at 09:40 pm

I will be working on our 2014 budget soon and I want to make sure to include a few things that we didn't include in 2013.

1. A line item for cold weather gear for the hub. This year we spent just over $500- boots, under armor, caps, gloves, socks, etc. So I will add a new line item for $42 per month.

2. Donations for co-workers and their kids/grandkids. Holy canoly has this year been an expensive one for all the requests for every-thing-a-thons, raffles, popcorn, cookie dough, etc. We used to have a policy against these solicitations ..but apparently that is no longer the case. I understand the importance of fundraising, but it is frustrating to have so many requests happen at work. My solution is to determine an amount I am comfortable with and make the donations accordingly. When it is gone, its gone.

3. Challenge every line item expense. Is it still necessary, or is it time to reduce or eliminate? I think this is an important thing to do each year.

4. Increase our 401ks according to pay increases and debt payoff. I anticipate a 5-6% pay increase in February. We will also be credit card debt free by May. Once that happens, our 401k's should be increased accordingly.

I don't want to lose track of these.

Update on Z-
It all boils down to next week. As of today, DD2 has been instructed to pack all of Zs belongings and drop him off on Tuesday morning at the DHS office- where he will meet gramma and fly out that day.

However, as of today, there is a court hearing set for Monday that may reverse the decision- so that bio-dad can continue his custody-placement requirements. His attorney says he has a case and may well get the transfer stopped.

What a roller-coaster.

Paid off my car today!

November 16th, 2013 at 08:08 pm

As planned, I paid my car off today! I am excited that our repayment goals are on track!

This leaves the house payments, the trailer payment and two credit cards. One CC is zero interest. The other, is from my job and we earn 1% cash back plus a 10% rebate at the end of the year. Regardless, the latter will be the next to be paid off, which will happen by April.

The car that I paid off today is a 2005 Kia Amanti that we bought used in 2007. It has 80k miles on it. I hope to have many years left on it. We will continue to pay 'payments' into savings to either pay for repairs, or pay for a new car someday.

Recap of the weekend at the lodge with the kids

November 16th, 2013 at 06:10 pm

We are enjoying our last night at the lodge tonight. It has been a wonderful weekend.

All four of my kids, their spouses, DD3's friend, the kids uncle, the hub and I were here to enjoy it.

On Thursday night, we arrived and ordered pizzas. We started the annual Christmas puzzle and played a new card game that I found online. It was a blast.

Friday, we all hung out at the house, visiting, watching a movie, putting the puzzle together, playing card games, shuffle board,


the hot tub...such fun. Friday night we had a Costume party. Ds and his wife were a gansta and flapper girl, DD1 and her hub- the sheriff from Walking dead and a zombie...everyone else just dressed up comical. DD1 made chimichangas for dinner and we played the card game again.

Today, Saturday, we went to the outlet stores and shopped for a while, then came back and sat in the hot tub, worked on the puzzle, played shuffle board and watched another movie. Tonight DS and DIL are making an Olive Garden inspired dinner. We are all working on the puzzle to finish it by morning.

This has been an amazing weekend. All the kids have enjoyed their mini-get-away.

This house is gorgeous. Its about 5000 sq ft. Has 7 master bedrooms, each with its own bath- so the kids all have their own space. Their is a huge gourmet kitchen, a big living room and a big entertainment room upstairs. The master bedroom, that the hub and I stayed in has a soaking tub, which I have thoroughly enjoyed.

This was not an inexpensive trip, but it was money well spent in the amount of time I spent with the kids and the time we have enjoyed. I think everyone has had a wonderful time and have created memories that will last. It will be sad to leave tomorrow.

This will hopefully become a biannual tradition that we can look forward to.

The view from the back, upstairs balcony-

What are your GO TO meals?

November 7th, 2013 at 07:03 pm

Planning is one of the best ways to stick to a food budget, but a second favorite of mine, is to have a few 'go to' meals that have easily stored ingredients that can be fixed in a pinch. You forget to take something out to thaw, you realize you don't have the right ingredients, something cut into your meal preparation time...no problem when you have go to options.

My favorite go to meal: tortillas, refried beans, cheese and salsa (preferably salsa verde). All of these keep well, and a fairly healthy meal can be tossed together in under 5 minutes. Health it up a little by adding chopped lettuce or tomato.

Other go tos in our house- oatmeal, pb&j, or grilled cheese.

What are some of the go tos for your family? I am always looking for new ideas!

Small space living - 4 months

November 5th, 2013 at 07:26 pm

Its chilly in the little house tonight. The propane tank must be empty, but the hub comes home on Thursday, so until then, I will just use the space heater. The nice thing is that with only 390 sq ft, it doesn't take much to heat the space. I also wear multiple clothing layers, which helps.

I have been in the little house for 4 months now. I have reduced and eliminated so that everything has a place- which is a must. The only time I struggle keeping clutter down now is when the hub is home. Even just a few extra things can start the domino effect of things spilling out.

Then comes Christmas...where the heck do I put a tree, gifts, decorations...I love decorating for Christmas= but I am definitely going to have to think through carefully just how festive I want to get. There truly isn't much space for extras. And gifts...well, gift cards are small. Wink

My house is so small, when I put the key in the front door, I broke the back window...when I eat in the dining room-one elbow is in the living room and the other is in the kitchen....when I drop a Kleenex, I have wall to wall carpeting.

Sometimes, I just have to chuckle about small space living. Big Grin

Productive, no spend day off!

November 4th, 2013 at 05:59 pm

My day off was an enjoyable one. And, I got much done:

All laundry and sheets are done
Bed made
House cleaned
Napped
Wrapped some Christmas presents
Relaxed!

And now, I am watching the Packers vs Bears game. Go Packers!

Today was a no spend day.

It is challenging to take a day 'off' when you're email is connected 24/7 via your phone- but I made a concerted effort to stay unplugged all day. I figured if anything serious happened, I would have gotten a call.

Tomorrow and Wednesday I am attending a training and have to be at work by 6am, which means I have to be up by 4:45am. YUCK. (The training is on the East coast, which is why it starts so early here) I don't mind getting up a little early, but...seriously? At least this training follows a fall back on the clocks- so Im not fully acclimated to the time yet.

(My) Mental Health Day begins!

November 4th, 2013 at 07:58 am

Yesterday:
I never have figured out how a small sleeping child can take up an entire bed, but low and behold, it happened once again. She must have been practicing her karate kicks in her sleep cause I was woken abruptly several times last night. And to top it off, my cat didn't get the memo about the time changing- so he was impatiently letting me know it was time to get up shortly after 4am.

Its not even 7pm, and I am fighting to stay awake tonight. Smile Thankfully, I am on vacation tomorrow and can sleep in.

I have some pork ribs in the slow cooker tonight. They smell yummy. Super easy recipe. Just toss them in, and season with garlic salt, seasoned salt, pepper and some red chili flakes. They are so tender and flavorful- and for $8 I have enough for about 3-4 meals!

Today:
Today is my 'mental health day' from work. I decided last week to take a PTO day just to relax. I will post the results of the day this afternoon or evening.

A potential blessing for Z

November 2nd, 2013 at 07:56 pm

DD2 got a call out of the blue yesterday from Zs bio dad and paternal grandmother. (Dad and his family have not been in the picture since Z was taken into the foster system almost 2.5 years ago) It sounds like dad took steps over 6 months ago to get himself cleaned up and was ready to see Z. The family was together for great-grandmas birthday and wanted to see Z. Turned out, dad has been clean for 6 months, has a job, a home, and really wants a chance with (custody of) Z- they asked if they could see him today and DD2 got permission and met them. And what makes me smile, is that dad/family are local. Z would be nearby. COuld this be our answer to prayer? I am not sure. But Zs transition to his maternal grandmother has stalled so many times, for so many reasons, maybe there is a bigger plan for him. After the visit today, dad is going to make the phone calls on Monday to see what he can do. We aren't getting our hopes too high, but this could be a potential game changer for Zs destiny.

This past week was very busy, but here are the highlights:

I received my 3rd quarter eval and it was very positive. I have grown into the new title and am on track to get a very good end of year eval/raise. (5-5.5% raise!) Big Grin

I learned my office will be moving (our department is moving) to an older building that the job owns. It will most likely be for a year, while a new addition is built on the current location. But it is going to be a change. My current office has beautiful furniture and a big window/view...my new workspace (maybe office?) will have no windows and the furniture will most likely be old pieced-together items from storage. Its all good. I am of a mindset that I can work anywhere, so long as I have a desk and a computer. (Kinda like moving from my big house to this little house...its not what you look at that matters, its what you see.)

The really interesting thing about the new work location is that it is literally 5 minutes from my house in town. Hmmm...

We are about 3 weeks away from paying off my car!! This is one of our BHAG action steps! (BHAG= Big Hairy A## Goal, which is to retire by 60)

We will be down to a zero interest CC, which must be paid off in April, and our final CC, which will be paid off by April-May. After that, we have our 5th wheel and the house to payoff. 5th wheel will be paid off 1st qtr 2015. House, by BHAG time.

Tonight my sweet little 4 yo granddaughter is sleeping over. She is such a gorgeous little girl. Blonde hair down to her behind and great big blue eyes. And very sweet. We are having fun. She is also Z's 'big sister" She was 1 1/2 when Z moved in with them.

Tomorrow I plan to take little miss home and then have some free time in the afternoon/evening. One week until vacation!!