Since I last posted in December!!! a few things have happened.
Most exciting, the adoption is finalized. Our sweet Z and his little brother X are forever safe with us! After 7+ years we are finally done with limboland! It was a great ceremony- the boys were so adorable in their little suits, and the whole courtroom cried happy tears!
I have set a retirement date of June 2021. I will be 60, and we should be in decent financial shape if we buckle down and stick with the plan unless something catastrophic happens between now and then. My SA blog focus will be changing to reflect the changes we make towards this goal.
My 3.5 year old fridge died about 5 weeks ago. I am shocked to learn that the life expectancy of newer fridges is 4-6 years and you are lucky if you get more than that.... WHAT???? Thankfully I had bought an extended warranty and will get a new fridge today, plus a refund for all the food that spoiled. I dont often buy extended warranties, but this one REALLY paid off. (Needless to say, I bought another extended warranty on this new fridge)
This is a travel year for us. We celebrated (pre adoption) in Disneyland for a week in early Feb, then we joined my son and his family in Aruba at the end of February for another week. In July we are going on an Alaska cruise with friends...and I am visiting my cousin in NY in October. Our vacation budget will be fully depleted but plans just worked out for all of this to happen this year! Next year will be very low key to get the vacation fund rebuilt. Our thought is travel while we are healthy and working...rather than wait and possibly not be able to.
Thats the big stuff...
Viewing the 'Grandkids' Category
Since I last posted in December!!! a few things have happened.
As I get closer to retirement, my focus on health and health insurance is increasing. Thankfully, I don't have any serious health issues (knock on wood). I am running the gamut of tests this year to make sure everything is in good working order. I did get diagnosed with pre-diabetes a couple of months ago. Actually I was borderline diabetes, but the doctor gave me three months to try to change things. At two months in, I have learned so much about nutrition, sugars, carbs, fiber and protein. I check my blood several times a day, work with a nutritionist, move a lot more during the day, and am seeing good progress. I have lost over 20 lbs and my levels have dropped to 'low pre-diabetes' and continue to drop. I really hope this last month will get me where I need to be. I DO NOT want diabetes, especially when it is still in my control not to get it.
Things are going really well at work and it looks like I will finish out the last two years of my five year retirement plan here. That is a good thing, as we still have checkmarks to get on debt, savings, etc. and having that second paycheck will certainly help. I also anticipate a significant raise at the first of the year, which will help even more. Now if the stock market would be kinder...
We are really close to adoption. Everything is done, we are just waiting for the ceremony to be scheduled. DD1 still has the boys' older sister. Bio family has made no attempt to contact her- so after the 6 month mark is up, they will reconsider her permanency (guardianship or adoption). DD1 also still has the other two girls, sisters who went into the system just a couple of weeks after the boys sister did. All 5 of these kids are amazing little people and are as much family as the rest of us. We are so blessed!
We are planning a family trip in December - if you can believe it, it was DH's idea! We started planning and saving a year ago for this trip. It is scheduled for the first week in December and we have rented a huge home in a resort about 4 hours away. All of my kids and grandkids will be under one roof for 5 days! So excited. We havent done a trip like this with all the kids and grandkids since the year after my dad died...so 10 years ago.
When we started planning, we thought there would be 18 of us...we rented the largest house available on the rental site...which was 8 bedrooms, 8.5 bathrooms. We are going to do Christmas movies, hot cocoa, make Christmas decorations, get a tree from the woods, and just do all the fun Christmassy things we can think of!
Well, since then, DD1 has taken in 3 foster girls. Bringing our total to 21 - (12 kids ranging in age from 3 - 14!). (DD2 would love to bring her boyfriend and his 2 kiddos, but the rental is restricted on how many we can have- and sadly we are at the max already).
One of the ideas DH had was to get all the kids matching or coordinating jammies. So, two days ago Kohls posted an ad for Christmas jammies bogo- 1/2 off. Sweet....so I ran down and bought twelve pair. Of course, the next day, Kohls put those same jammies on sale for 50% off and was also giving Kohls cash... I took the receipt in and they credited me $105 and gave me $40 in kohls cash- bringing the total for each set at about $13.50. SCORE!! I am thrilled to save the extra $$- which with 21 people can easily help with the food budget.
So, I still have plenty of planning to do, but get a nice checkmark on the jammie box!
And, came in well under budget for that line item! Ho-Ho-Ho!
I love planning stuff like this so the next few months will keep me busy putting all the special touches on the plans. I am hoping by the time we go the boys adoption will be final and we can celebrate while we are there. One of the girls that DD1 has is the boys older sister- so, they will all be together for this trip- which will make it extra special for them and us!
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.
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!!