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!
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!
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.
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.
I was reviewing my 401k records today and was happy to see that my account has grown almost 50k in the past year! Hopefully it will continue on this trajectory until 2020, when I plan to retire. If so, I will have met my savings goals while also paid off my debt goals and will comfortably achieved retirement goals.
I finally turned in that bag of pennies today. $21.43. It is one less thing to worry about as we declutter. I set the money aside to determine what to do with it..
I ended up leaving work early today to pick up Z and bring him home for the afternoon. He was so cute. He honestly is one of the gentlest souls I have ever met. We spent the afternoon giggling and blowing bubbles. Then met up with the rest of the family for birthday dinners. TOnight he is staying with DD1s family- visiting his other cousins.
I am ready for the weekend. Tomorrow night I am having DD1's kids over for the night. DD1 and hubby are DJing a wedding-
Otherwise,not much to report. Very concerned for Julie, aka Ima Saver. It has been quite a while since she has posted- and she had medical issues the last time she did post. I sure hope she is ok.
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....
Happy Labor Day friends!
We are certainly starting to feel fall in the air here in So Oregon! The mornings and evenings are chilly- weather has dropped during the day to well under triple digits. I cant wait for the leaves to start turning. Fall really is my favorite time of the year!
The word on the street is that BM (and BF and kids) are on the way here today from Washington. Also, that BM is already using again (and pregnant). She hasn't told DD2 if the kids will be allowed to stay with her or not. They start school tomorrow. Her plan is still living in the mission. Sigh.
I am going to enjoy this beautiful Labor Day at home. While the hub is in Alaska, I am trying to stay frugal- something that isn't as easy when he is home. Lately, it feels like we are on different pages where finances are concerned. I suppose that is because I am more focused on retirement, since my retirement target is about 7 years earlier than his. His allowance goes into his own checking account, but his spending comes out of the household account, because he likes to 'save' his allowance for toys. Hmmm. Definitely a disconnect there. :/
I have 2 more birthdays this week. DD2 and my granddaughter share a birthday on Thursday. I budget for birthday presents, so the $ is already there. Actually, granddaughters gift is bought, and I plan to give DD2 cash. These two are the last of a string of 8 birthdays in August and September...thank goodness!
Well, time to get productive this morning. I will post an update once we know what is happening with Z. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and kind words. This really is an emotional rollercoaster for all involved.
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.
DD2 found out thqt Z will be back in town tomorrow. Unfortunately, bio mom (BM) is expecting baby #4- and is heading here so that baby dad #4 doesnt go to jail for whatever crimes he has committed where they currently live. They are also fleeing a no contact order, since they are so volatile in front of the kids and with each other. Her plan, to live in a mission with all 3 kids. Z and his older sister are due to start school next week. Z, kindergarten, sister, 2nd grade.
DD2 has asked BM to let Z and sis stay at her house until more permanent arrangements are made so that they have some sense of stability to start school with. I guess we will find out this weekend. My heart breaks that Z and his siblings are in such chaos. what a broke, broke system we have for kids of druggie parents. BM asked DD2 to enroll both kids at the school nearest to her home. She couldn't even enroll her own kids in school.
I am excited to see Z...but heartbroken for his continued circumstances. Out of the 3 kids, Z is the one BM never bonded with, so she leaves him with anyone that will take him. Thankfully, if she comes and stays local, 'anyone' will be our family.
Maybe baby #4 will be the turning point for Z...I can only hope and pray.
The hub left back to Alaska today. Our weather has cooled significantly the last few days - almost feels like soup weather again- so this weekend, I plan to make a pot of soup to have on hand for the weekend.
Please keep Z and his siblings in prayer, thoughts, fingers crossed, etc. I want BM to get the help she needs- but more importantly, I want the lil guys to have the security that every child needs and deserves..
so heartbreaking, frustrating and unnecessary.
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.
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.
I love having 'fun time' plans out on the horizon to look forward to.
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!
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!!
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