I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Today is black Friday, and I am unmotivated to partake. Part of this is because I am dealing with a cracked rib- which happened on the first day of vacation a couple of weeks ago- on our way to the cruise. Grrr. It is much less painful than it was on the cruise, but it is still causing me to be less energetic than normal. Aside from the rib,the cruise was fantastic. We had an awesome time, and even better, stayed within budget. Actually came home with a few hundred dollars to put back into the travel fund.
The hub starts his 4/2 rotations this go-round, which will definitely help. The extra will go towards paying back the money loaned to DD2 while she is unemployed and not receiving unemployment (hopefully she will start receiving her benefits next week). She will pay us back with her taxes, and that will ultimately go to savings.
Court got postponed for the kids- which was a good thing. It gives the state more time to build their case. The kids have since been diagnosed with PTSD, which is so sad- but the diagnosis will help with the case to keep them here and provide extra counseling assistance. Our next court date is week after next.
Z (5) and I had a sleepover Wednesday night. It was so fun. We played Candyland (he won) we put a puzzle together (he is a master puzzle builder) and we played with blocks...he is getting so big. He is a lot more reserved and doesn't smile as much as he once did..my goal is to turn that around while we have him.
Life is good!
Viewing the 'General Thoughts' Category
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
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!
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...
The northwest is having some fun this weekend with a big ol storm. So far today, it is just drizzling and the winds haven't picked up, but by midday that is due to change.
I am planning to just stay home today. I could use some downtime after the past few weeks. My plan- a puzzle, some baking, some tv, reading, and thats about it. Sounds blissful. Hopefully, we wont lose power, but if we do, I am prepared with flashlights, candles and my wood stove. I have some soup that I can heat up on the wood stove...and plenty of water.
Ive been avoiding the budget the past month. Too many unexpected things have come up. Thankfully, the hubs busy season is about to start and we can get back on track quickly. Barring any unexpected cutbacks at his job, we should be caught back up by the end of January, and back to paying things off for the rest of winter/early spring.
We attended the hearing for the boys this week. BM is out of state, and refusing to admit she has any issues and refusing all help. (She has admitted to one of the fathers that she is still using while pregnant) During the meeting, it became fairly clear that DD2 is becoming the most likely long term placement, as all other options either only want one of the boys (and they wont separate them), or live out of state (and they wont move them from their sister who is here local) or they have criminal charges that disqualify them.
It is very confusing to have 4 children, 4 fathers, 8 sets of grandparents and extended family...for this case. The caseworkers have their work cut out for them.
DD2s approach now that we know this, is to welcome the extended families to be part of our village so that the kids can have close relationships with whichever family they are connected to, while ensuring they are safe, happy and together. Unconventional, yet necessary in this situation.
The last we heard, BM broke up with the dad of the baby she is pregnant with and has hooked up with an old friend who just got out of prison. (Charges: meth and theft)
And so it goes.
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.
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.
Years ago, saving advice bloggers posted a list of unique facts about themselves, that helped fellow bloggers and lurkers(- not my word) get to know each other better. Since it's been so long, I thought maybe this would be something fun to do again.
Here is my list:
1. I am married, 26 years
2. I have 4 kids. 3 daughters, 1 son
3. I have 6 grandkids, 3 boys, 3 girls plus 3 foster grandkids, 2 boys, 1 girl
4. I work full time at a job I have been at over 20 years
5. I have blogged here for 10 years.
6. I am a huge Greenbay Packers fan.
7. I once bred labrador retreivers
8. I once lived in a haunted house
9. I wont eat wild game meat
10. I co-founded a financial fraud team that has grown statewide and has stopped many financial criminals.
11. I have only traveled to the US and Mexico.
12. My bucket list destinations include Mt. Rushmore and Easter Island
13. I am fascinated by ancient mysteries (like Stonehenge)
14. My all-time hero is John Wayne
15. I hope to retire in 2020
16. I love to bake.
17. My husband works in Alaska and I only see him about 50% of the year
18. I have lived in 13 houses during my life, and have owned 9 cars.
19. I have a published article and have been on TV 2 times
20. I have met 7 fellow SA bloggers. I hope to meet more!
So, I have offered 20 facts. How many can you share? Looking forward to see what you share!
ps. If you are a 'lurker' who hasnt started blogging yet, what's holding you back? I am SURE you have things to share with our group... JOIN US!! We would enjoy hearing from you!!!
I stopped by Goodwill tonight on my way home to look for fall clothes for J (foster baby, 16 mo). I was able to pick up 3 pairs of pants, 4 tops, 2 zip up sweaters and 2 pairs of warm jammies for $20. ALl of the clothes were good quality and in really good condition. Thank goodness for Goodwill!
While I was checking out, I was explaining what the clothes were for- the lady checking me out said "I have 9 grandkids and ALL of them are in foster care"...She said it was due to drugs and the epidemic we have. I was speechless. I wished her well and left feeling even more frustrated for children. WTH.
I want to try to find some age appropriate toys for both boys this weekend. I am starting with the power of Facebook, and will look for sales, yard sales, etc. we also have an avenue at work for placing classified ads. We have many younger parents who might have toys that have been outgrown. Past experience tells me that plastic containers, metal containers and wooden and plastic spoons will work for the baby. Blocks and pretend play for Z (age 5) and maybe a few books.
So, my mission this weekend is to scavenger hunt!
Today was the court date.
As it turned out, our case was last on the morning docket- meaning there were 4 other cases heard before ours.
Child after child being placed in foster care because of unhealthy home environments. Drugs and neglect in each situation...a brand new nursing baby removed from its 18 year old mother, a 13 year old crying as she was told she was removed from her home- a home with drugs and 9 dogs, a child that neither parent bothered to show for court. Just gut wrenching case after case.
When our case came, it wasnt much different. In the end, 2 more kids put in foster care another child transferred to the other parent, a very upset mother and a sense of relief that the kids will be safe for a while. The sister will go to dad, the boys were placed with DD2. (Yay!)
Z is back, along with his baby brother, in DD2s care...after 22 months away. It quickly became very apparent that BM and her mom will not be making this easy and intend to fight the placement vehemently. Foster parents sometimes need a thick skin when they step in to help. Hurtful words, threats, accusations. It got ugly. Sigh.
But on a much happier note, Z was so excited about his first day at school. He had major anxiety this morning about being left by DD2, but the teacher, who knows his situation, took extra care to make his day special.
The next court date is October 27- barring any surprises, the placement should hold until then, and beyond. DD2 was present at the hearing and the judge made a special point in thanking her for her contributions.
While I am extremely happy with the judges decision, I worry what it will do to Z if/when he is pulled again from DD2's care. He is extremely attached to her.
Time will tell. For today, lil Z and baby brother J, welcome home!
Today was thankfully low key compared to the past couple of days. We go to court tomorrow to find out what will happen with the kids in the short term. Right now there are a lot of emotions from all sides and it will be nice to get a plan in place so that everyone understands at least the legal expectations. I just hope there isnt near term turmoil for the little guys. Z starts kindergarten in the morning, so DD2 plans to make the morning special for him before heading off to court.
I spent today home with a sore throat. No bueno. At least it wasnt a work day and I was able to relax. Hopefully I will wake up all better, and ready for the busy week ahead! I can't afford to get sick right now. We have PTO at work, which means one pot for all sick and vacation time to pull from. I keep at least 40 hours on the books for an emergency, but otherwise, I use my time off. Right now, I my time off is scheduled through next May, so I am hesitant to dip into that emergency 40, unless absolutely necessary!
I ate leftovers today, and so it was a no spend day. Likely tomorrow I will go to lunch after court with DD1, who plans to go with me. Dd2 has to attend via phone since she took 2 days off last week to get the kids situated, registered, etc.
Again, thank you for all the kind wishes regarding the kids. I appreciate all of the support for them.
Last night and today were traumatic on everyone.
BM and BF were arrested late last night on outstanding warrants. DHS put all three kids in emergency placement in DD2s home.
Today BM/BF were released, but could not contact each other or DD2/kids. (who knows if they are together today or not)
DD2 spent the day making arrangements for daycare,buying diapers, and taking care of the baby who was very fussy.
Backing up a bit....Yesterday BM and BF ran out of gas. It was 100 out. BF and baby stayed with car, while BM hitchhiked to DD2s job to borrow $5. Later that night the baby was dropped of with the other kids at DD2s house. Much later, DD2 recevied the call about the arrest.
Today, the baby woke in considerable distress. An ER visit later to learn he was dehydrated from yesterday's stint in the heat.. and had to receive IV fluids. He is only 18 months old. Apparently they ran out of food and water while waiting in the hot car for BM to return and then did not hydrate him sufficiently.
Monday is court to determine placement for the kids. The father of the eldest girl wants her. So she will likely be placed with him. The boys have no family that will want them. Both of their dads are either in jail or currently homeless and in and out of jail. Extended family is not interested. So likely, they will stay with DD2 indefinitely.
Which means, here we are again. BM and her mother are angry that the kids are placed in foster care. DD2 is doing what she can to create a safe and stable home for the boys.
SMH at this turn of events. I guess we will learn more on Monday what the future holds for the kids.
Does anyone know if Julie is ok? I noticed she has been ill and hasnt posted in several weeks...Not sure if anyone kept in touch with her outside of SA???
I am working on getting my frugal rhythm back this week. When the hub is home, we spend more than I do when I am home alone. So far so good. I am using up the last of my chili that I made last weekend, minus the 10 chili bean burritos that are still in the freezer. Those are still waiting for a later date.
I always have free coffee at work, rather than buying coffee on the way to. I used to spend about $3.50-4 a day, everyday...but about a year ago, I stopped. Now I prefer regular coffee over foo-foo coffee. I have even broke myself from needing creamer and just use a little sweetener.
Ive been taking lunches and trying not to spend. I did have to get gas today.
Tomorrow will be a spender though. It is DD2 and my granddaughters birthday, so I will be taking them out to dinner tomorrow night.
I am starting to plan Christmas gifts and love that I can use verizon points to give magazine subscriptions as an option. Rachel Ray, Oprah, womens magazines, teen magazines...I will see how well I can utilize those options!
Football starts tonight! I am so excited that it is once again football season. I love making soup and watching the games. I am a HUGE Packers fan. Any other Packers fans here? If not, WHO is YOUR team???
I still havent turned in the pennies. I have been pretty busy at work...but...tomorrow, I plan to bite the bullet and get it done.
Z had an awesome day with DD2...and sis made it to her first day of school. The plan is that all 3 kids will stay with DD2 again tonight. Another day for the kids to feel safe and secure. BM and BF did sleep in their car last night. They were hoping welfare would come through today so that they could get a hotel room tonight. FOr the unborn baby's sake, I hope they were successful.
Z and his sis were dropped off at DD2s job about midday today- DD2 then brought them by my job - which was such a joy! They have both grown SO much. After work, I met them at the mall so that we could get sis a new dress for school tomorrow.
Out of the mouths of babes, they talked about bits and pieces of their lives- and it was so sad- primarily to hear a 7 and 5 year old know some of the things they do. (They were sad they had to leave there toys and clothes and pets behind, "but mommy and BF were in trouble and they left during the night" and "their house was trashed with all their stuff, and cat poop" etc.) It is clear there is no filter when they are around the adults, drugs, and fighting at home. I pray the school and DHS will sort through this and help protect them.
But HOORAY...they are back for today and it was amazing to hug those sweet kiddos.
Unfortunately, BM and her bf had no place to stay tonight, so they came to the mall and picked up sis so that they had a reason to drop in on sis's aunt and see if she would let them stay there tonight. With tomorrow being her first day of school, sis was excited...so I hope BM follows through and gets her there.
Tomorrow is DD2s birthday, what a great birthday present this is for her!!!
Thanks for letting me share my Z story. I am such a happy gramma tonight!
Update: BM dropped sis and the baby off with DD2. All three will be safe tonight! Didnt expect her to leave the baby too, but DD2 welcomed all three with opened arms.
I looked up the depression glass pattern of the set that my mom had- it is called Old Colony- and its pink. The set is beautiful, but very fragile. At least now I know what it is as I determine what to do with it. Letting the dishes sit in a box will just allow them to deteriorate. I know there is someone who would appreciate them and I could put any $ from a sale towards college funds for the grandkids. I say this like I have decided, but the truth is, just thinking about selling the dishes makes me sad.
I think I will tuck my dad's coin collection away. Coins wont lose value- and maybe someday a grandchild will appreciate receiving a coin from their great grandfather.
The rest of the things, I just need to donate. It's time.
So, Z still isnt here. Supposedly BM is actually on the road today and plans to arrive at midnight. The plan tonight is that she will drop Z and his sis off at DD2s when they get to town, and DD2 will take them to school in the morning. Until it actually happens, we dont know for sure. DD2 spoke to the principal at the school today, and the principal has an appt with DHS tomorrow to start a case.
Today was a no spend day. I packed my lunch and then as I was leaving work, a co-worker offered my here pasta salad from lunch that she didn't/wont eat. (It has too much garlic for her taste) Since it was destined for the trash, I took it. Super yummy!
I found a dollar in the bottom of my computer bag tonight, so it is going into the tip bag for the cruise we are taking in November. So far I have saved $72 towards tips by turning in loose change and saving my small bills.
In our quest to declutter and downsize, we are finally starting to go through all of my parents things. Its been almost 8 years since my dad passed, and 6 since my mom. My mom had a full set of depression glass, my dad a small collection of silver coins. What to do...
My mom's depression glass is carefully packed away- in several boxes. Very beautiful, very fragile, but not something me or my girls have space for, nor do my girls want it. My dads coin collection, probably less than $500 is in a box, not taking up much space....but again- not something anyone really wants.
What do I do with keepsakes like this? Each year, my dad kept a journal..those are a no-brainer...I will keep, no question. But when it comes to things they collected, what to do?
They are heartbreaking to part with, but then just taking up space to keep. Suggestions? Do I keep for grandkids...do I sell....
Unfortunately, I dont have an update for Z. It is two days later and there has been no word from or sign of BM and Z. We dont know if they are on the way, if plans changed, or what happened. This isnt uncommon for BM to change plans without any notice. DD2 held off on registering the kids at school in case something like this happened. I am still hopeful that they will arrive by Monday.
Today I made a big pot of chili so that I could make a batch of chili bean burritos for the freezer. I love having ready made dinners, and this is an easy one that I enjoy. The chili cost about $8 to make- and I had enough for 10 burritos and at least additional 5 meals of chili. Nice, easy, cheap! I stopped at the store and got celery, onion, carrots and a ham bone for red beans. I will make those on Monday. I also picked up a jar of pasta sauce on sale for $2 which I will use for 2-3 dinners. I got sandwich stuff, fruit, and enough meal makings for about 10 days for $84. I am going to try to stick to that budget for the next week, or longer. I have chicken breast in the freezer for lettuce wraps. and lots of stuff in the cupboards.
We have verizon phone service- they have a rewards program that I have never paid attention to, but each month we earn points for. The past couple of weeks I have been checking it out. I was able to get 2 free magazine subscriptions. I also got a couple of gift cards for 10% off at stores we shop at- an instant $10% savings! and there is a local BOGO dinner coupon where I like to dine...one dinner last 3 meals for me...so I will get 6 Thai meals for $15. We have over 400k points...so we will never run out - since most of the deals I am selecting are 1000 pts or less! I plan to keep an eye on deals for Christmas and birthdays. Much of the stuff is not anything I would buy, so I will be using points sparingly- and only on things we will use or need. (Unless it is 100% free, like the magazines- 1= Rachel Ray, and the other was Woman's Day)
I am enjoying the long weekend this weekend. No real plans. Which is nice.
Boy, this year has FLOWN by. It's hard to believe we are already half way through August!
I would love to report that we are closer to our annual financial goal than we are, of paying off the remodel debt, but alas...
We had to get our AC repaired this summer. Cost $1100.
The hub, who works on the North Slope of Alaska had all overtime cut back for most of this year, which was a significant reduction in monthly income.
Before I realized the income reduction, I had increased our 401k contributions- and now I dont want to reduce them...NO NO NO
DD2, single momma, lost over $500 in monthly benefits because she made $80 too much last year...I am still scratching my head over this logic. She is a great budgeter, but is needing some help each month for necessities.
And then lots of little things that just added up.
So, we are no where near where Id hoped this year and the forecast through December doesn't look much more promising for paying off the house remodel debt.
Hopefully, overtime will be reinstated next year...but if not, we are still making strides...just not as fast as Id hoped. At least we are going the right direction...
This weekend, my girls and I are going to see the Lion King in Portland. This trip was paid for months ago..so we are all looking forward to a weekend out of town.
Oh, and I am super excited...I just noticed my blog has now surpassed 10 million views! Holy Cow!
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.
A year ago, I signed up for a program at work to earn a free bike. Yes, FREE. It is part of our wellness program and the offer was to ride 30 round trips to work, or 5 miles on your lunch hour and you earn the bike up to $500. I picked out a super cute beach cruiser in sky blue. I live much to far from work to do the round trip to and from work, so I have rode on my lunch hour. I have TWO more rides this week and my rides are DONE. YAY! I cant wait to bring my bike home and start using it just for fun. Later this month we are going camping and I will get to take my bike and enjoy it there!
Today was a no spend day. I always have coffee at work, free- and I took my lunch and then just had a simple dinner at home. Tomorrow should be another no spender.
Our new dog is doing great. He LOVES to fetch, more than any dog we have ever had. So I am getting some exercise in each night playing with him. He is such a sweet boy.
This coming weekend I am going to the coast for a day trip. A couple of years ago I found a long lost friend- he and I were children on the same street in southern California until we were about 8. THen, our families moved and it took 43 years before we reconnected. The magic of social media! I found him on facebook and as luck would have it, he and his wife moved to Oregon last year. It has been fun reminiscing and getting to know him again. His wife is so fun, and we have a great time together. So I am heading over to spend the day with them- and very much looking forward to it!!
To all my SA friends, Happy Mother's Day!
I am preparing for a family breakfast tomorrow morning by making a blueberry French toast bake tonight and letting it set overnight. My girls are all coming over for breakfast, so I thought a nice treat was called for. A day old loaf of French bread, some milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar, and blueberries...and a yummy treat is ready to pop in the oven!!
DD1 and I went to a street fair today- and one of the booths had fresh strawberries on sale for a great price. I have some dark chocolate chips, so in the morning I will make chocolate covered strawberries as an added treat.
The rest of the day will be quiet. Just resting and preparing for another busy work week.
I wish all of you a blessed Mother's day!
Monday and Tuesday I travelled for work and got to stay at the beautiful coast condo overnight. Yesterday was a 12 hour day with the work and travel home. Today, my job let me work from home, which was much appreciated as I didn't feel like getting dressed and driving 30 mins to and from work. I got quite a bit of work done, and even squeezed in a short nap.
I received my refund today on the cupcake holder that I bought last week from Amazon. It had arrived broken. I don't understand why they didn't package it better- there are now 8 reviews complaining about the problem. Rather than waste time reordering, I will see if one doesn't become available elsewhere locally so that I can spy before I buy.
SG (inherited black lab) continues to do great. He is losing weight, playing lots, and gets along GREAT with all of the other doggies. He is such a joy.
This weekend was my GSs 12th birthday party. My DD2 had asked if we could have it at my house and so we did. It was a sleepover party with GS and three friends, his sister, and DD1's son and daughter. Ended up with 10 kiddos, 7 adults, and 5 dogs. Thankfully, we have two acres for activities! I made lots of cupcakes, and they turned out yummy and cute. Some slept in the house, some in the 5th wheel, and the boys all wanted to sleep out in a little open cabin..I am sure they got cold, but they seemed to love it.
I was POOPED today, but I think everyone, especially the birthday boy, had a great time.
Today was a go nowhere, spend nothing day. I just had zero energy or desire.
Tomorrow and Tuesday I will be traveling for work- meaning all my meals will be paid for. (sweet!)
SG (dog) is doing great. He has lost some weight, which was really necessary. He loves to fetch, and so we play fetch A LOT. While I am travelling the next couple of days, DD3 will watch him. He is an exceptional dog. Extremely well behaved and just a good boy.
I'm not sure I am ready to go back to work already tomorrow. But alas, duty calls.
Recently a co-worker brought cupcakes to work. She had them in a really cute cupcake carrier and they were super delicious. The combination of the carrier and fancy frosting made them absolutely adorable!
One of my goals this year was to start a new hobby- and I think, with 6 grandkids, cupcakes might be a good choice. I found a cupcake holder that I liked on Amazon, but it was $39-so I held off thinking maybe it would make a good birthday gift idea for the family.
A few days ago I went back on Amazon and up popped an offer for $80 in free credit if I got an amazon credit card. Hmmm....so- I got the cupcake holder, a tool for frosting, some heavy stock cupcake liners (which helps maintain their moisture and makes them bakery like)...and got it all for FREE. The cool thing is that the boxed mixes turn out great in these liners...so dessert for birthdays and holidays will be fun and way less than a store bought cake!
And I got everything today...just in time for my grandsons birthday party this weekend! Now I cant wait to start creating.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
I mentioned in my last post that DD1 was at the hospital with grandpa who has Alzheimer's after he fell and fractured his pelvis Friday afternoon. Sadly, grandpa never regained consciousness and passed away yesterday. Poor DD1- she quit her job last Friday to be his full time caregiver and is heartbroken with his sudden passing. He adored her and felt safest when she was there to take care of him. Of course, because of his advanced Alzeimers and the fractured hip, everyone, including DD1 know he is at peace. It just happened so fast. New Years Eve DD1 and I were playing Sequence and grandpa came out and sat at the table, so we gave him cards and let him "play"...he could recall many of the cards and even laughed when we cracked jokes with him. I know he was understanding us- even if just a little. Rest in peace dear grandpa- you brought so much joy to everyone and will be dearly missed.
I am still struggling with the pinched nerve, so I haven't felt up to doing much budgeting or pretty much anything else. I will sure be glad when things heal and I am back in the saddle again.
Words that melted my heart yesterday!
Backing up just a hair...DD1 caregives for her hubs step-grandfather. He has alzheimers. He fell Friday and fractured his pelvis. He does not do well with change in his environment and was very confused when he was admitted to the hospital- so DD1 spent the night with him to provide whatever familiarity and comfort that she could. (Have I mentioned how VERY PROUD I am of this girl?) Her only request, a coffee Saturday morning...
I was keeping her company at the hospital when DD2 showed up with lil Z. He looked at me and said, HI GRAMMA RAY, I REMEMBER YOU! Do you still have your doggie? Awwwww... a few minutes later he said- Gramma Ray, why do you keep hugging me and giving me kisses?? lol. He wanted to just sit on my lap and listen to stories about when he was "little"...cause, in his words, he is a BIG BOY now...age 5. And handsome, I might add. Then he said, I just want to stay here forever...but we reminded him that he would miss his mommy and gramma. He said I have 3 mommies...and pointed to DD2 and me and said his mommas name. AWww....
Sadly, his visit was brief since we were at the hospital and grampa was not doing so good. But I cant describe what that lil visit from Z did to this gramma's heart.
My back and arm are a little better this morning, which I am so happy about. I actually feel like getting up and doing things today- and after a week of being in pain, my house needs attention and I have a couple of projects from work that I need to spent tima on. And I need to pick up some groceries to ensure I take lunches and make dinners all week! And, and, and... how far behind you can get in a week!
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