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Las Vegas bound!

November 29th, 2016 at 05:41 am

This has been a year of travels- not all planned, but all worthwhile. New York, Arizona, Oklahoma, Mexico...next stop- Las Vegas for a conference for work. (Meaning all expenses paid by my job.) I leave Sunday and will come back Thursday morning- just in time for the next court date.

DD2 was planning to go with me, but that was before she became a full time foster mom again. So, I will be going alone.

This past weekend, I had two of my granddaughters (cousins) over for a sleepover. They have reached an age where they are pre-teen friends. It is such a new, fun dynamic. When their moms were their ages, they fought a lot. Having the daughters get along so well is so fun. We went to a movie, lunch, baked, watched movies at home, decorated the tree...and just had a good time together. I am so blessed.

Not much different happening in the financial scheme. Just trying to keep Christmas spending within budget- and planning DD3s 25th birthday party. She is a Christmas eve baby- this year we are planning her party for the 30th so hopefully more people can come.

Jobs, a cruise and an update on the kids

November 5th, 2016 at 03:43 pm

This past month has been crazy stressful.

DH's job continues to look for ways to cut corners, which ultimately is going to cost workers a substantial amount...between health care provider changes, travel provider changes, hour cutbacks....egads. We keep skimming expenses. But it still is frustrating. I am grateful he still has a job.

Thankfully, I am getting a promotion at work soon, and I think the increase in my pay will offset most of the financial hit. I will find out in the next few weeks.

We are taking a cruise next weekend to Mexico. This was planned and paid for long before all this job stuff happened, and we could seriously use the break. Thankfully cruises to Mexico from the west coast are fairly inexpensive. Its our first and we are excited to give cruising a try!

Z update:

We have an important hearing coming up for the kids. Unfortunately, the bio family, rather than focus on fixing whats broke and creating a safe environment themselves (rehab, parenting classes, home visits, etc) are denying there is a problem, and rather, are doing everything possible to disqualify DD2 as a viable placement option. (false reports to her job, the police, child walfare, etc) The stress is taking its toll. Because of the constant distractions, DD2 lost her job. But she is keeping the best interests of the Kids at the forefront. Thankfully, the false accusations are all failing flat, the agencies are seeing right through this... and its only making the case stronger for the kids being removed permanently. I am concerned about whats next once they realize this latest barrage didn't work. DD2 will likely get a restraining order, just to help protect herself and the kids.

The hearing cant come soon enough. Their tactics are definitely out of our way of thinking...who knew it would get this ugly.

If only they would put this much effort into self reflection and counseling...

Very tough couple of weeks

October 10th, 2016 at 03:13 am

My DB had a massive heart attack a couple of weeks ago. He was placed in a medically induced coma and underwent other medical procedures to help him recover. Sadly, he never regained consciousness. I flew back to be with him on day 4 and flew home on day 9...he passed on day 11. Tomorrow is his memorial. I will miss him greatly.

Tuesday is a big hearing for Z and his baby brother X. Their mother has made no attempt to visit them since they were put back in foster care. Nor has anyone else. Thankfully, they both seem to be adjusting well. The baby is warming up to us and is quickly winning over our hearts. DD2 had to cut back her hours at work to be able to accommodate all of the appts the boys have had. They were both way behind on shots and have had all their other normal check ups. So far, so good. I hope TUesday's meeting gives them some much needed stability in their placement. The goal is to keep them together while determining permanent placement.

Thats pretty much been my life lately. My brother and the boys. Of course work in between.

Budget mistake! (I'll take it!!)

September 17th, 2016 at 03:28 am

I have been really enjoying everyone's lists. I have learned a great deal about everyone reading them and am happy to see so many others jumping in with their lists!

Today I realized that I made a budget mistake this month. Thankfully, it was in a good way. I get 3 paychecks in September and only budgeted for 2. The extra $$ will go towards debt repayment. (Yay!) I can handle a good mistake!!

The little guys went to children's advocacy today- and got to share their story and thoughts with protective services in a non-threatening environment. It sounds like the kids shared enough concerning memories, that they will be in protected custody for a long time to come. THANK GOODNESS. I am finally breathing a sigh of relief tonight.

I stopped by DD2s after work to deliver the clothes I got at Goodwill and that have been donated by coworkers and friends. It was fun to watch all the kiddos having fun. No craziness in their lives, just good old fashioned, hide n go seek kinda fun.

Mail fetching dog!

September 14th, 2016 at 03:59 am

The final hurdle DD2 had to overcome was having her home certified for foster care. That means, background checks, references, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, kid locks, locked up cleaning supplies, no accessible fire arms or other hunting equipment, sufficient beds, no aggressive pets, and a tidy home. Her home was certified tonight! YAY.

Now, let's get back to routine life!

I have been trying to eat healthier the past few months. Cutting back on foods that arent good..and adding foods that are. Today, I went to the local co-op market and picked up some banana chips thinking that would make a healthy snack. Unfortunately, I looked it up when I got back to work and not so much. The coconut oil that is used is not as healthy as it sounds....so back to the drawing board.

Earlier this year, I inherited a black lab from my former brother in law who passed away. His name is Shotgun (cause he rode shotgun in the truck with BIL)...Tonight I learned that Shotgun wants to carry the mail home from the mail box. I had no idea. He walked down with me, and when I pulled out the mail, he grinned and opened his mouth and took the mail from my hand...then proceeded to walk (prance) home with it and gave it back once we were in the house. OMG. It was so cute. I knew he would go get the paper for my BIL, but we dont get a paper here...apparently, he would get the mail too! What a sweet surprise.



End of vacation

June 5th, 2016 at 12:59 am

I am wrapping up a week of vacation this weekend. We started the week out camping last weekend, and then came home on Tuesday to a heatwave. Ive thoroughly enjoyed the week off- I had gone about 7 months since my last week off.

I go back to work for a week, and then the following week, I am off for 4 days to attend a wedding in upstate New York. It is expensive to travel to a wedding. wow. Between airfare, rental car and hotel, I have spent a small fortune...the wedding is a 'theme' wedding, which would have required added expense for a costume, but I am good just going in my normal clothes. I assume I should give the bride and groom a gift...(this is my cousins daughter)....needless to say, this trip hasn't helped our tightened budget.

My son called a few days ago to invite me to go to Arizona with him for a long weekend in July. He is scoping out locations for business expansion and wants to take a look there. I am so excited to spend one on one time with him! The business is paying all expenses, so my expenses should be minimal.

Budget-wise, I feel like we have taken a step or two backwards. The hubs 'winter season' was cut short due to the fluctuating oil prices which was a cut in finances that also put the hub home more- which usually costs more. I would have liked to be farther along in our payoff goals this year, but we are not. Also, we have a trip planned to Hawaii next spring and ticket prices are double what we paid last time we went- ouch.

I am happy that he still has his job- hopefully unemployment isn't in our future.



Is it May yet????

April 24th, 2016 at 05:34 pm

Nothing like sitting down on a peaceful Sunday morning with a nice hot cup of coffee, only to spill it in your lap soaking my lap and the couch. Ouch and darn.

Now that the mess is cleaned up- hello!

April is quickly coming to an end- and thank goodness it is! Between a state/federal exam at work, taxes, and presiding on a board that just held a two day conference...I am broke and pooped. In the midst of this I lost a beloved brother in law and inherited his dog who I will call SG.

SG has been the happy in our world. Yes, he tears his toys up and loves spreading the stuffing all over the house...and yes, his desire to fetch is endless...but his sweet personality has easily and fully won our hearts! He gets along with our other dogs and even our cat is warming up to him.

The hub is starting to take a little more interest in finances this month. A sign that, on my quest to pay off that visa, I may have cut things back past his pain point. hehe. I will have to continue to tweak and more importantly, communicate so that we are both comfortable with the budget while attaining our goals.

The hub took our oldest gs (12!) to the coast to ride quads today - giving me a whole day free to catch up on housework and get ready for the week ahead. My vacation schedule this year is more heavy on the back end of the year, meaning this first half Ive only taken 2 days off and it will be 5 more weeks before I finally get a week off. I will be ready for that week by the time it gets here - we are going camping up on the river for the first time this year. Then, I will have more time off in June and July.

We have reached the 1 year mark until we go back to Oahu. Its been almost a year since we vacationed there, and we knew when we came home that we would return. So, we booked the house for April 2017 and have been waiting for the one year mark to start getting excited. Big Grin

I love having 'fun time' plans out on the horizon to look forward to.

Changes

April 10th, 2016 at 04:06 am

The last couple of weeks have been super busy ones at work. I am actually filling in for a vacated position during a very stressful period. I am so blessed by a great team who surprised me Friday with a gift certificate for an hour long massage as a thank you. I enjoyed that luxury this afternoon. OMG. Then the hub took me to a nice dinner. I am so relaxed tonight.

My former brother in law passed away on Monday, leaving behind his beloved dog. The arrangements that BIL thought were in place for his dog fell through after he died, so I am happily taking the dog, a black lab. DD2 went to pick him up (11 hours each way this weekend) and he will be 'home' tomorrow.

The hub is home from Alaska for three weeks. This will be helpful in transitioning our new lab into the family. I didn't count on a new inside dog, but given the circumstances, will make it work.



$100 credit for military, yes please!

March 17th, 2016 at 03:55 am

I was looking at the website for our Mexican cruise in November and realized that the hub can get $100 in shipboard credit for having served in the military. Sweet! So we filled out the document and will send it in. But that got me thinking, what other benefits is he entitled to...so I did some searching and found a plethora of places willing to give discounts for former military. We had no idea. We knew about Lowes, and saved about $400 when we bought our appliances during the remodel...but there are many places that give like discounts. Restaurants, stores, hotels. We just need to start asking, and so we will. Smile

My cousin, who lives in upstate New York, asked me to come back for her daughters wedding in June. So last night I checked and found reasonable tickets- that I was able to upgrade to first class using the hubs free upgrade codes. Since he flies so much, we get either free or reduced airfare and can also upgrade a few times a year. So, in June I will be making a quick trip back to NY (upstate) for the wedding.

I also will have to take a business trip this year...so lots of travel in the next several months. Depending on where I go, I can get a BOGO airfare, so maybe one of my daughters can go too!

Since I love to travel, I am looking forward to all of this...should be fun rest of the year!

Enjoying the weekend!

March 13th, 2016 at 06:44 pm

Happy Sunday!

Weekends are such a priceless commodity for me. Work is crazy busy right now and downtime is my sanity saver.

I am in a program at work that will 'forgive' $500 of an interest free bicycle loan if the employee does 30 5 mile rides during the workday. (To/from home or on lunch hour) I live 15 miles from my job, so, I have been using my lunch breaks to make the rides. It takes me about 30-35 minutes usually. I have until May 15 to finish 12 more rides. Its rainy season right now, so hopefully I will have ample days to knock them out! I want to bring my bike home so I can enjoy it without having to go back to work after I ride!! The perk is part of our wellness program- and ends with a free bike! I opted for a cute beach cruiser- a perfect gramma bike, but not as easy to tackle hills as some options. So, I just avoid hills. Big Grin

We have decided to take our first ever cruise in November, to the Mexican Riviera. Since we are on the west coast, it is the least expensive cruise for us. Our vacation budget is sufficient enough to cover it- and we have always wanted to try one. We are pretty excited. If we like cruising, we will probably plan an Alaska cruise in a couple of years!

The rest of our vaca time this year will be spent camping or staying home.

I will need to attend a conference for work this year. Right now my options are Colorado in August or Las Vegas in December. I am not sure which I will attend, but will probably tack on a couple extra days to either to sight see.

Otherwise, things are plugging along. Just trying to tackle the remaining remodel debt as we can.








10 years!

March 11th, 2016 at 05:55 pm

Today is my 10 year blogiversary! Wow.

Ten years ago, I was semi retired to care for parents and help my son start a business when I stumbled on to this site while searching for ways to make ends meet.

What a fun journey its been getting to know many of you, both here, on facebook and some in person!

Thank you for all the amazing advice, friendship and support everyone has provided over the years!

Today I am attending a funeral service for my next door neighbor. He died in a boating accident last week. Very sad story. We have lived next to him and his wife for 20 years and it is so hard to believe he is gone.

We decided to have our taxes done this year, to see how my turbo tax estimate compared. Holy cow. $3000 difference. I am not sure what button I didn't hit, but instead of paying we are breaking even. I WILL TAKE THAT!! Yay.

Our goal of paying down the house remodel visa is going well. We started the year at $25k and now have it down to $8700!! I moved savings to pay it down so quick, but comparing .75% to 7.99% was a no brainer. I am confident that, barring no unexpected expenses or paycuts, we will reach our goal of paying that off this year. And that, is one giant step closer to my now 4.5 year goal of retirement..as my kids would say, "BAM"...lol no idea what that means.

Loyalty pays!

February 19th, 2016 at 03:05 am

Today I received a thank you from my credit union for being a loyal member. They paid out their first every loyalty reward to members! And even better, they put it in a special new account that pays 2%apy! My thank you - $129!!! wow, just for doing my banking there. Of course, I am just gonna "let er ride" and enjoy that nice rate on my free money! Hopefully, this will be an annual thing- definitely something to look forward to- I wonder how many other credit unions pay out loyalty rewards??

In other financial news, its two steps forward, three steps back -again. I calculated taxes and we are having to pay both federal and state for a grand total of almost $3k! OUCH. The sale of the city house really impacted our deductions this year. So, I upped our quarterly tax payments so hopefully next year, we at least break even. :/

My back is slowly feeling better, but the pinched nerve is still there. When I sit a certain way at work, or bend my neck wrong, my arm and thumb go numb and then have the 'pins and needles' feeling. bleh.
At least I am not in 24/7 pain anymore. I can handle bursts- its the constant that wears thin. Dr. said if it wasn't better in another week, we would talk about an MRI. Thankfully, I upped my flex pay for medical this year anticipating extra dental expenses, so I have a cushion for tests.

DD1 noticed that there are a couple of great musicals this year in Portland. In August, Lion King will be there..and I would LOVE to see it- so we are looking into it. If there is a way, we will most likely go!
Last year we saw Wicked and it was such a great experience!




Lil Z - Pinched nerve and a 2016 Goal Update

February 6th, 2016 at 04:52 am

Ouch- I somehow pinched a nerve in my back last weekend. I think it was the combo of sleeping in a new bed (at the vacation rental) and on a different pillow. I broke down today and went to the Dr. This isn't the first time I have had a pinched nerve- so I am familiar with how to nurse it, and just as I suspected, the Dr agreed with my current strategy of ice, heat, meds and practicing the physical therapy exercises...and said if it still hurts in two weeks to let him know and he will order an MRI.

Nerve pain just sucks. It makes places hurt that really aren't hurting and causes muscle spasms that can drop you to your knees..this one is in my upper back/shoulder and its causing my whole arm and wrist to ache....two more weeks. (yippee)

It is annual bonus time at my job. We have the opportunity to leave the bonus in an account that pays 2%- which I would love to do. But because we owe on the remodel and I am paying 7% on that loan, I will apply the bonus towards that debt. (A 2016 goal is to pay that debt down or completely off, depending on the hubs work schedule) Right now, it looks like we will be able to pay the full $24.5k off this year.(yay)- It is already under $20k. And THAT gets us a giant step closer to our 5 year goal!

This is also pay raise time. I received a 4.5% raise. I had already upped my 401k 3% this year. We are checking to see if the hub can up his- he may have missed the deadline. If he is not able to, I will up my Roth contribution another 2%.

Some of you may remember little Z from my older blogs- our little foster boy that lived with my daughter from 4 months until he was 3. Well, he is in town this week and has spent the week with DD2. I get to see him tomorrow!!! This is the 3rd time DD2 has seen him since he left 2 years ago. It will be great to see him, he has grown so much!!





Happy February from our winter get away!

February 1st, 2016 at 04:42 pm

I am currently on day 4 of a 5 day vacation to the winter resort that we try to visit each year with our friends. We are renting a cute house, and when we split the cost, it is about $100 per night per couple. Not bad for a wonderful winter get away.

We have ate most meals here at the house, which saves money and allows more time to visit and enjoy the hot tub!

The guys really wanted to see a couple of movies so those are our splurge. We saw The Revenent on Saturday. None of us had ever seen an imax movie, so we decided to try it. Disappointing. I couldn't really tell a difference for the $17.10 per ticket (ouch)

Today, we are going to see 13 Hours. We will see regular movie and go to the 3pm matinee.

My next time off from work isn't until our camping trip in May, so I am really trying to make this trip DOWN TIME.

The hub heads back to Alaska in 2 days. I haven't been as diligent with my goals while hes been home, so I am eager to get back into full swing this week.

Next weekend, I plan to revisit all of our bills and see if there are any I can shave and save. I try to do this once a year. Usually I find at least one or two things that help.

Well, back at relaxing. Happy February everyone!

2016 Goal Update

January 11th, 2016 at 03:12 am

10 days into the year, and so far, goals are going well.

Because of the hubs 6 week rotation this go round, we are able to pay $4000 or 16% towards the home remodel loan this month. This is an anomaly payment, and won't happen again this year. The usual payment will be significantly less. In order to hit our stretch goal, we need to average a payment of $1820 each month, which probably isn't doable unless the hub works 4/2s. Because of fuel prices, it is more likely he will work 3/3s.

Last week, I took a sandwich each day for lunch, and ate leftovers or something out of the freezer for dinner- so meals were healthy and I saved $$ not eating out. I have my meals planned for the week ahead, so I should stay on track again this week. Big Grin

This next week, I'm adding in some exercise. We have had several sunny days lately- so I am hoping to either ride my bike on my lunch or walk on the treadmill.

All in all, so far, I am happy with progress on these goals!