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.
Viewing the 'Grandkids' Category
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.
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.
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!
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!!
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 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....
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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