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School Supplies

August 21st, 2016 at 09:32 am

Until now my kids have attended a K-8 charter school that provides supplies (they ask for $25 per kid, in return). I'd much rather write a $25 check than go shopping, so all sounds good to me.

Since we are getting down to the wire and given that the new school is a small charter school I thought maybe they would do the same. But I guess not. It does make sense (to bring own supplies) because it is a 6-12 school and they will be changing classrooms more often.

So here I am with a 11yo and a 13yo and I have never bought any school supplies before...

In the end I am pleased because we spent $30. & I am sure we could have gotten supplies cheaper. But as we graduate from "uniforms" and DL actually gets to pick out his clothing and his supplies, I would say at least $5 of that was splurging on some individual preferences. (Which otherwise put us in the $25 realm that we usually spend). We also just went to Target because dh had some groceries to pick up. I am sure there may be cheaper places to pick up school supplies. Or we can kind of stock up year round now that we know what is generally requested. (Dh was mentioning he sees folders for 25-cents at the electronic store).

Oh, the other nice thing about the school spending is that a lot of it was stocking up on supplies for later. With MM starting high school next year we figured we'd buy the bigger packages of school supplies.

(Oh, and I forgot the $30 included some supplies for MM's one high school class).

I've allowed MH and MM to hoard school supplies because they are useful. (& is one of those things that they like to hoard). So we did scrounge up a lot of things from supplies on hand. I found a plastic case of (working) markers that Drama Llama brought home one or two school years ago. (They don't often send home leftover supplies. I prefer that they don't, but I am glad I saved these in this case). Monkey Monkey had a stash of binders (& I have a few cast offs from work; binders are often handy). Dh had a stash of spiral notebooks. So we had a strong start. In addition to the lifetime(s) supply of pencils we seem to always have...

My Doh Moment

August 20th, 2016 at 05:40 pm

I'm at 2 weeks with a broken foot. At least 2 more weeks + a holiday weekend before I can put weight on my entire foot. Mostly using a boot but I take it off every chance I can get and it takes forever to put it on.

Someone very early on mentioned a knee scooter(?) (not sure exactly what it is called). Maybe my dad?? I can't remember now.

Anyway, yesterday dh and I were talking about all the things I probably couldn't do the next couple of weeks. Nothing huge, but it was getting frustrating enough I decided we should price out some knee scooter rentals. (I'd feel foolish if it was like $10/week and I never even looked it up!).

Anyway, that was when we had our doh moment. We always bought used baby stuff on Craigslist and sold for the same price when we were done. Just those things that are in high demand and you need for a short period of time. I've never really thought about that in terms of anything else. But the difference between owning and renting a scooter seemed pretty negligible. So the line of thinking was might as well just buy and we can sell it when we are done. From there we started to see what used options there were.

Funny enough, dh had made $150 cash from a focus group the night before. So he went out and bought one for me today. The going price seemed to be $150. I am so glad at the last minute he found one with a basket and haggled it down to $150. I think maybe we can sell for more (or at least people were asking for more). Good call since it's infinitely more useful with a basket to carry things around.

(I just checked and full price is $170 on Amazon. But factor also that would take a lot more time to get).

I LOVE it. We went to the store today (because I was feeling antsy). It's surprisingly light and I was able to lift it in and out of the car. I did some light chores today. Like going through a couple of weeks of mail (which I planned to do regardless). So much easier with the scooter. I told the kid I would make a meal tomorrow since I think it will be easier now. (Nothing big but I can't imagine cooking without my boot. Now I can just zoom around the kitchen. I suppose I haven't cooked anything in two weeks).

I wasn't particularly planning to take it to work. But I also didn't expect it to be so light. I guess will see. I might try to go without Monday and see if I go stir crazy. I could imagine it being frustrating after getting used to the extra mobility. On the flip side, I am sure using the leg and walking a bit is helpful for blood flow and so on. So maybe work would be good for some exercise. I have to climb the stairs (at home) and least once or twice a day also.

Nickname Update + Misc.

August 17th, 2016 at 03:58 pm

Okay, I hadn't updated nicknames yet because I hadn't figured it out. Maybe a little sidetracked with life...

LM told me he wanted to be a drama llama and BM never really came up with anything.

So... I renamed them to Monkey Monkey and Drama Llama.

I think it was Lucky Robin who came up with "Monkey Hubby" and I love that!

Now I just have to remember the new names. I will add their age to their initials too to keep it simple for more occasional readers.

It will probably take me a while to remember and I am sure I will use old initials once in a while.

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In other news...

I got a $50 MRI bill which I know is not right. Is usually more like $1,500. Doesn't really matter because even if they billed that wrong I am sure I will max out our deductible soon enough with foot stuff.

MH got a focus group for $150. Woohoo! It's probably been around a year since the last one. Since the gymnastics place really only takes cash, I might just use that to pay for next month. (Man, what a pain!)

That reminds me... I did get MM(13) signed up with a checking account. They printed him a debit card on the spot. I wasn't expecting that! I was able to automate his allowance.

I went a little back and forth on "reconciling bank accounts" and so on but don't know how relevant that really is in this day and age. (I don't remember the last time I had an outstanding item when it comes to personal banking? Everything clears so instantly). & pen and paper seemed so archaic. It's been over a decade since I've handled my own finances that way. But I mostly use software. Which I am sure he is more than capable of using, but felt like it was like teaching math with a calculator. Wanted him to get more used to the nuts and bolts first. I finally decided to just set up a spreadsheet so he could keep an electronic register. I think that is an appropriate solution for the here and now.

First Blanket

August 17th, 2016 at 07:46 am

Living in a warm weather climate, most the small knitting projects (scarves/gloves, that type of thing) didn't appeal to me. So I started a blanket.

I am glad I did now that I am stuck off my feet for most of this month. That said, I haven't really been in the mood to work on it. It's only in the last couple of days that I picked it up again. But I expect I will work on it more as my foot feels better.

Here is my progress so far:



I am making it for my mom or with my mom in mind (she LOVES this yarn). But if it looks too horrible I can always keep it for myself.

I actually did 2 or 3 rows before I noticed a mistake and had to start all over again. I am glad I tried again because it's gone really well since then.

If it comes out okay I will make again in a solid color. I think this blanket really shines in a solid color but it sounded kind of boring and I thought hiding the imperfections sounded like a better plan for a first blanket.

I am so relieved I have this big project. Not that I wouldn't mind being stuck on the couch reading. But it's nice to have something else to mix things up a bit.

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Today I have a seminar online, so will do that from home. I have another seminar next week. The timing is also good on those. I appreciate the days to rest my foot.

Today I am going to work through some little chores.

I am going to cancel credit card #5. I hadn't been ready to close that one but the Citi 2% card has replaced that one. I guess these cards come and go and I thought I should keep in case Citi lowers its rewards later. But... They switched my old card from an Amex to a Visa? I think. I saw on My Money Blog that they reduced the rewards on it. (I never opened up the new credit card when it came in the mail and didn't look carefully at it since am not using right now). Anyway, I have been logging in once a month to double check no charges are coming through, but this month I couldn't even log in. I guess I need to set up a new account with the new card. Said I didn't have an account. So... Yeah, I think I will just close that card and simplify. I can always re-apply later if other rewards dry up. I just hope I am not forgetting other charges. I suppose I can scan through my Quicken register. More recently I forgot that our road tolls were being charged to that card (since we don't pay tolls very often). I otherwise phased out about a year ago.

I guess we were also using this card when we buy Sketch Fest tickets. We might buy tickets to 5+ shows so we wanted to reduce the chance of our credit card being declined while vying for front row seats. (Buying several shows at once is a little suspicious, though by now we have probably established a pattern). I guess will just have to take 1% cash back on those kinds of things. (We do have 4 credit cards to charge up in those instances).

I also think that I have a one-time reward card to close.

So yeah, I guess just some minor credit card chores. Usually takes like a minute online but I expect the card I never activated and which I can't access online will take a little more time to deal with.

Edited to add: Apparently knitting is kind of the perfect activity when listening to a seminar.

Back to School

August 13th, 2016 at 08:09 am

What a Week - Part II:

Oh yeah, last week was a banner week for everyone but me.

LM had his drama showcase. We didn't ask him much about his script because wanted to be surprised. In the end, he was the star of the show. It was just GREAT! (I was definitely surprised!)

Such a fun week to see both my kids shine and be so happy pursuing their passions. They were both on Cloud 9.

Oh, and the theater is offering year round classes (new). We left it up to LM but he wanted to take a break. I think that is probably wise since he will have many opportunities at new school but we just don't know all of the "what" and the "whens" yet. Probably best to keep his schedule open. If the 6th grade drama opportunities are slim he can always take spring drama classes outside of school.

As to my foot, it's really not been bad. Feeling a LOT better and stronger every day. Stuck with the big boot for 3 more weeks. I'll have another x-ray at that time, but I tend to be a fast healer and already feel a million times better. I haven't had much pain at all.

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BM(13) went back to school this week. He's been attending his math class at the high school and all is well.

Oh, and as far as infinite details... He just realized Friday he doesn't have the books for his math class. E-mailed his teacher about that. No idea where he is supposed to get those if they aren't passed out in class. I guess we figure these things out as we go.

The high school schedule is somewhat insane. They have four different bell schedules depending on the circumstances. Best we can tell, they don't ever use the short day schedules? (If they do, we have no idea when). & then we asked his teacher to keep him in the loop as to rally days and stuff like that. BM is very responsible and is capable of keeping track of all that on his own.

I did take some time this week to sort out schedules. Since the public high school just uses the district calendar I printed it out and added some notes for the school specific calendar. Noting all the days we know have different schedules.

I put all 3 calendars up on the fridge. Dh mentioned making a master calendar, which sounds overkill and I doubt he will bother. We are both very "one thing at a time" and "cross that bridge as we come to it" types and we both usually tend to keep track of things in our minds. But you know, for the past 6 years both our kids have attended one school. This 3-school thing is beyond my brain. So I put up the three calendars to at least start wrapping my brain around them. (If we needed more organization from there, would figure something out). In the end, I think this will work for us. Except for different school start dates, they all actually have the same holidays for August and September. So at least we get to ease into things a bit. The other thing that is the same is that they all have weird schedules on Wednesdays. We haven't figured those out yet, but dh will just handle it for now. When he goes back to work we will figure out who can do what as far as driving kids to/from school at odd hours.

October is a different story with 3 different breaks. But I figure that is something we will sort out in October. Will just have to go through the calendars once every week or month. Probably a monthly look ahead as to breaks, and then probably a weekly look ahead to plan the week. Though I now know there is nothing to look at again or to think much about until October.

It's funny because being generally "organized" (I think we are good at prioritizing more than anything) I get the sense people think that we meticulously plan things. As my blog says, we over prepare and then go with the flow. There is maybe some overall planning ahead, but I think keeping things really flexible works better with life in general. As to October, dh and I haven't decided for sure if we will do a big trip without the kids. (Probably not, but I am still open to it if things change). We haven't nailed down any plans whatsoever as to the kids' breaks. But things are flexible enough that we will figure it out when we get there.

I have no idea what the back to school fuss is about, but I guess we are boring. My kids have always been early birds, so back to school is never any big adjustment for them. They don't need anything for school. They've got clothes, backpacks, lunch bags, etc. from last year. Boring, but very zen and calm. I am hoping our zen balances out some of this extra driving and schedule tracking this year.

I did send $95 to BM's school to cover supplies and field trips for the year. My feeling on LM's new school is that they probably also just ask for reimbursement. I sure hope so because it makes life easy!

I had totally forgotten that LM's new school does the whole formal PE thing. Guess I have to buy him a PE uniform. I guess they spring these things on you the week school starts? This is one of those details I had completely forgotten about. & I am sure there are things I don't even know about yet.

What a Week!

August 7th, 2016 at 07:56 am

Mostly a good news week, for everyone but me. HA!

BM(13) is taking gymnastics classes with the goal to learn how to do a back flip. I signed him up around June 1, and he gave himself a two week deadline because he is insane. (I insisted he learn in a safe environment). I didn't take him to his group class this week because wasn't expecting that he'd do much but work on his roundoff to a back handspring. But I guess coach said his roundoff sucked and he'd need some more private lesson time for that. So just had him do a tuck (flip). BM told me he did it on the first try and it was easy. *sigh* Can't believe I missed it! So... Factoring vacation, it took him about 6 weeks to get to that point. & I think coach really wanted him to do the roundoff back handspring first, which is some of it.

I don't know how far he will take it, but it seems to be the perfect sport for him. No idea why he's never taken a gymnastics class before. Probably a function of both time and money. This is the child who has had 3 extra-curriculars at once. I think he just had other priorities, and maybe I've never seen a gymnastics class that fit our budget.

It's the perfect sport for him because he is a monkey, he has no fear, and he pushes himself very hard. I think he's squarely in the "for fun" camp for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if he later wants to take it farther.

Oh, and in other BM news, he is officially enrolled in a high school math class. Woohoo! They pulled it out about 3 days before school started. Dh was starting to get so pissed. I am sure they hate him, but if anyone would ever just do their job or do what they would say. *sigh* The most frustrating 2 years ever.

I said I'd believe it when I see it. I guess this is pretty good. I am believing.

That said, it's very complicated, and I am sure we haven't thought through everything. School starts next week, so will see how it goes. Since both schools are slammed, neither has been big on details. (We had to ask what room his math class was in and who his teacher was. Doh). We did see the principal at a school event and she seriously said that BM had 8th grade math on his schedule since he should really take that class because he has never taken it. *Bangs head on wall* So yeah, there seems to be a million details to sort through yet.

Endless details aside, I feel great relief that they were able to work things out. & it was also a relief to get confirmation that he can attend the high school's last class of the day. Which is also clearly the least disruptive to his school. This will allow dh to work. He hasn't discussed with his employer at all but they seem pretty flexible. I suppose I am waiting to for dh to pin down his work schedule, when they call him back after summer. From there I will see where I fit into all of this. We have some short day stuff to figure out as to getting kids to/from school.

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LM has his drama camp and is the happiest I have ever seen him. I really and truly hope he gets even half the satisfaction from his new school. He doesn't start school for another 2 weeks.

His drama showcase is this weekend.

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Dh had another MRI and there is nothing to report. Which is good!

His Doctor's office is so on the ball it freaks us out. He went in last weekend for an MRI and they asked him to come in first thing Monday morning. O.M.G. Don't do that to people! In the end it was all good and his Doctor didn't want him to have another MRI for a year. Back to an annual schedule. Phew!

& so, though he should have another MRI in 6 months, The Doc said he didn't see the point. It's not that things look that great, but I think more given dh's specific situation.

I am relieved to financially and emotionally to skip this next January.

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So... With that MRI we probably maxed out or deductible for the year.

Which is fine since I knew we would. I think we ended up meeting with dh's Doctor on Wednesday.

& then Friday night I broke my foot!

*sigh*

It was just a stupid thing where I tripped down the last couple of steps on our stairs. Landed on my small left toes.

My next to last toe was completely floppy and making a crunching sound, and so I was certain that I broke my toe. I didn't feel like it was an emergency by any means but I could not walk on that foot at all. I called the advice nurse while dh ran to WalMart to pick up some crutches. I just couldn't move without some help. My mom's like, "They have wheelchairs at the ER. They will give you crutches". I'm just, "Mom, they are $35, and I doubt they would be free on our health plan anyway". Best $35 I ever spent?? Big Grin It's just funny how cheap or weird people get about money some time. While dh was gone, I tried to walk on my heel, or the other side of my foot, and my brain was telling me, "You can't put any weight on this foot you dummy. STOP IT!" So yeah, I was so happy to see those crutches!

Anyway, they had no appointments (all weekend) but there was an urgent care clinic open until midnight. We got there around 7pm and waited about 1.5 hours. My pinkie toe proceeded to turn purple and swell like crazy. I had to keep saying, "Yeah, that doesn't hurt at all - *that* is not the problem." Though it was certainly a symptom of the problem. Big Grin

In the end I guess I sprung the pinkie toe (which my body didn't seem to care at all about, in the grand scheme of things). The toe next to it was floppy because I broke the bone in my foot right below that toe. *sigh*

I do have a boot now and I admit this is allows for more mobility. Though I am definitely getting use out of the crutches too.

My plan is to move as little as possible this weekend. I have a Doctor appointment next week, so will go from there. It sounds like it will take at least 4 weeks to heal.

It was my left foot, so I can drive. Phew!! Considering we were about to start a really crazy school schedule, I am very grateful for that part.

My boys are taking good care of me.

Nicknames

July 31st, 2016 at 08:25 am

My kids are still "big" and "little" but it's probably just a matter of time before they are both the same size! Or... If the younger one ends up a little shorter (likely) I don't want to call him the little one his entire life. HA!

So I am trying to think of some new nicknames for this blog.

{Plus, I've never really liked the "BM" initials, you know - "bowel movement" - but just never cared quite enough to think up something else}.

I can do OM & YM for older and younger.

When I started this blog I had a small baby and a toddler. So... I guess their personalities have since emerged and evolved.

Science Monkey & Drama Monkey?

Monkey Monkey & Drama Monkey? (I swear if my older child could swing through the trees, he would. Big Grin ).

M11 & M13 to designate their age? I think that is probably the most clear for purposes of this blog. Then you don't have to remember my nicknames and you have some frame of reference as to what I am talking about.

Any other ideas?

Maybe I need a nickname for dh too. I just think "dh" is very clear and I don't really like "monkey papa" for whatever reason. Monkey Man?

Summer Doings

July 30th, 2016 at 07:31 am

**Finished with the birthdays. BM insisted on making his own cake from scratch. Spent $44 on pizzas. Just had a party at our house.

I did take BM clothes shopping. He's a beanpole so we made do with the Boys section. I expect it will be the last time. Since LM has graduated out of school uniforms and this is BM's last year, I won't be buying ahead sizes on clearance any more. I also expect their clothing choices to diverge as they surpass uniforms and find their own styles.

I am pleased with how we made out though it wasn't planned. He picked out some $5 shorts. The school shorts were reasonable and so I bought 4 pair. I just told him I'd buy a 5th pair when I know they fit well and are comfortable. Will see if 5 sets of uniform clothing will get him through the year.

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I suppose that it's nice that I am not hosting a birthday party at my house or driving 4 hours round trip this weekend. But I think I over-scheduled since we haven't had time for anything else but birthdays lately.

I told the kids we could go to the "Wipeout" pool this weekend (has inflatable obstacle courses). It's a bit of a drive and will take up a chunk of the day.

I recall pictures weren't working when we found this place last summer. Here are the obstacle courses:


Next weekend LM has his drama camp showcase and everyone wants to come up to our house for that. I am exhausted just thinking about it.

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Today we plan to get BM's new checking account set up. I expect it to make my life a little easier. I am hoping to set up electronic "direct deposits" for his allowance (which is still a whole whopping $2 per week because the kid just doesn't spend any money). He will also be able to do phone deposits. So I am hoping to be less of a middle man for his finances.

Yesterday I sorted out all the kids' birthday money and we went to the CU to withdraw their 7% interest. (Those accounts are maxed out so they aren't earning anything on the interest). I thought maybe we'd withdraw once or twice per year. But as someone who has always done 99%+ of her banking remotely, yeah, I have not bothered to go more than once per year. I admit that we were right there anyway and there was no line. It's just relative.

I sorted all of LM's money stuff with him. He's got a $20 birthday check from Florida Great Granddad. $28 of interest from other CU. $19 left from Grandma's souvenir gift money. Plus $17 piggy bank money to deposit ($11 of which was birthday money from my sister). I'll deposit the check for him while I am at the other CU tomorrow. The rest, I took the cash and will do an equivalent transfer to his savings account.

LM is up to $600 cash!

BM has a $20 birthday check from Florida Great Granddad. $35 of interest from other CU. $30 left from Grandma's souvenir gift money (because he spent $0 of it). $26 from his piggy bank.

BM is up to $900 cash!

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Last month was spendy and it was hard to justify spending any money the last week or so. I am relieved our credit cards have all closed for the month and we are on a "new month".

Yesterday dh and BM went to the movies. Dh had a free ticket and so just had to pay for BM.

My plan was to take LM to his favorite sandwich shop since I had a free sandwich coupon (in exchange for giving blood). I thought we'd do our own thing while they were at the movies, but dh moved in on our dinner. I agreed because it was right by the CU and would save me a trip to the CU on Saturday since I wanted to take both kids with me. We banked while dh ordered for us. He had a free sandwich reward thing and so we only had to pay for 2 sandwiches.

(To be clear, the kids have the 7% accounts at some other CU that we are not members of. So we are going to the other CU to set up the checking account. They both seemed to offer fairly equal terms for youth checking accounts, but my CU is walking distance from our house and I can do electronic transfers to/from kids accounts since we are all members of that CU. It wins on convenience).

We went to Togo's and their meatball sauce was kind of weird last time I had a meatball sub. Fearing the worst I haven't re-ordered for a while but I thought I would redeem my free sub sooner and meatballs was sounding really good after giving blood. So I got that in my craw. Sad to say that after 30-ish years, if not more, they changed their meatball recipe. Do NOT LIKE!! Frown I'd probably be more devastated but LM has got me on another sandwich. Oh, and I am kind of addicted to their chicken salads also. The dressing is so good, and maybe that will get me through this. That meatball sauce was just *so good* before. Maybe I can find a recipe that is close.

July Savings

July 30th, 2016 at 06:24 am

Received $39 bank interest for the month of June.

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash
+$ 900 to IRAs

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash

Nothing was pulled out of Savings in July.

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July was kind of a crazy spendy month, but that will be funded with August income. We spent $1,500 on auto insurance, auto maintenance, auto repairs, birthdays (3), and our trip to San Francisco. I will deduct all this from short-term savings next month.

I decided to apply snowflakes to bills this month. That was my instinct last month but I stuck to the investments. This month am going to take a break since the budget needs a breather.

Snowflakes to Bills:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $75 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $12 cash back on Visa/dining card.

--$20 Savings from Target Red Card

I also received a random $50 settlement claim check.

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I did round up the mortgage payment by $9 since that got us down to the next $xxx,999. I could care less about round numbers and would rather see a lower number in the thousandth place!

I just tend to round up when I make a large extra payment (one or twice per year). I guess I felt I should snowflake something this month.

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In August we really need to get moving on some home improvements. I know I am procrastinating because I don't wanna. *sigh*

Two Birthdays Down

July 22nd, 2016 at 06:47 am

Knocked out Birthday #2 last weekend. MIL and her twin sister. We spent $165 for half the restaurant and cake bill. I've probably been to this restaurant before but I don't recall. They had excellent food at reasonable prices. The service was great and we got a lot of value for our money.

MIL's twin lives abroad, so it was pretty random that she just happened to be here for her 70th birthday. It worked out nicely.

BM's party got bumped until this weekend. It was nice to have a break in between hosting parties at our house. Though I am definitely going to be ready for a very quiet weekend (or 2 or 5) after that!

Financially, we pretty much spent nothing on LM's birthday, so I am not sweating MIL's party. We have a little extra in our short-term savings.

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Er, we *had* a little extra in our short-term savings...

We went to San Francisco mid-week. Ended up spending almost $300. Yeesh! It may have been the first time that all four of us went together. I think just one of those things we never do because it's in or backyard, so we wanted to cross that off the list. We hit the science museum, the historic penny arcade (the kids were at a good age to really enjoy it), and the sourdough shop.

That's pretty much all we have planned for summer. After the next birthday party, LM has camp for two weeks and then school starts back up. I had wanted to go to Monterey on a weekday but our schedules don't seem to be meshing. Financially I am thinking better to delay that trip anyway, though we may still do this year.

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So... I have a teenager!

We will have to sort out the kids' birthday money at some point. We do plan to get BM a checking account and a debit card.

I think both dh and I are just kind of losing sight of time. I only even thought of this due to a recent SA discussion. I am sure I had my first checking account at 13, but just hadn't gotten there with my brain, in regards to my son. When I mentioned to dh he acted like I was crazy. I told him surely he had a checking account by the time he had steady work at 14. (If not, he should have). Once it sunk in that he is *13*, he realized it's not that crazy after all.

It just doesn't seem to be registering yet.

We also did official height measurements. Most years BM has grown 2-3 inches, but this past year was a full 5 inches!

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Dh's Florida grandfather (89) is in the hospital. Details are vague. His wife doesn't want to say much and neither do dh's parents. So there's two layers of holding back information. Heck, I asked dh yesterday if he was still in the hospital and he said he didn't know.

It's likely that dh will make a trip out there. Particularly if we get any word that things look bad. But even if he gets better, he may be feeling that time is short.

More Credit Card Rewards

July 22nd, 2016 at 06:46 am

It might be another $2,500 year after all.

I got an AmEx offer for a $250 reward and then the next day dh got an offer for a $500 reward. His offer was an American Express Gold, which is generally a business card offer or has a very high fee. Is the first time I've seen it with the annual fee waived.

$250 credit card reward

July 20th, 2016 at 06:51 am

I got an offer (targeted offer) for an American Express card with a $250 reward.

Woohoo!

I should also be eligible for a $500 Citi reward in a couple of more months.

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I saw today that the wildlife encounter that we did is completely booked through 2017. I am surprised it took that long to get that booked up, but it was just a matter of time. I am so glad we squeezed it in last year.

One Birthday Down...

July 11th, 2016 at 12:41 pm

One birthday down. Two to go.

It's funny because I felt like we relaxed and splurged but in the end we spent less than usual on birthday. I think we got off easy because LM's birthday was on a Saturday and so we killed two birds with one stone. Usually we take the kids out for dinner on their birthday and then do a party on a different day. But LM has a favorite sandwich place so that is just what we did for his party. Also, though we invited several kids, only 2 were able to make it. Probably typical for a summer birthday.

I've been waiting to see how many people plan to come to BM's party before we decide what to do, but I think it will probably be similar. A couple of hours of video game time, food and cake, and then a couple of hours at the pool.

We spent $38 on lunch, which included food for BM, dh and I. So really maybe only $20-ish of that was for the party. I did "splurge" on an ice cream cake. It was labeled $26? at the grocery store and even more expensive at Baskin Robbins. But the grocery store was full price $17.99, on sale, plus a birthday coupon, so only paid $13. That was a nice surprise. (If I realized maybe I'd buy more often. In the past I have always made our own cakes; we have an ice cream cake recipe).

{So... About $33 for dinner and cake?}

We bought LM a ridiculously expensive gift a few months ago. It was an Amazon Echo, on sale. Dh had bought one for his mom for Christmas. I think just making her a guinea pig. I thought it just sounded stupid. But the kids LOVE it (& so does MIL). Is basically a smart phone in the form of a speaker. So you can ask it all sorts of questions and have it play music. & it will play some games, like Simon Says or Trivia.

I had been thinking of taking BM indoor skydiving (where you just float over a giant fan) and MIL wanted to take that gift. I was more than happy to let her take the pricey gift in exchange for not buying crap (I hope). So we told the kids the Echo was kind of more for LM and the other was more for BM, but these are all shared gifts.

Yesterday dh's parents, aunt and Grandma came over to celebrate the kids' birthdays and to take them to the indoor skydiving place. GREAT birthday gift! I never expected LM to want to go, but he did and that is why that ended up being a shared gift. I don't know who had more fun... The kids? Or the old people? So I think that really ended up being appropriate that it was a gift from the old people. (They just had the most fun. I am sure dh and I enjoyed it on some level, but didn't seem to be eating it up quite as much as everyone else).

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In other news, I did give blood this week. I haven't been a consistent donate-r, but I guess they were having a blood shortage, locally. I will try to get back on a regular schedule.

Birthdays & Knitting

July 3rd, 2016 at 06:19 am

This month is the month of birthday. We will be hosting three birthday parties this month (the third party is for MIL's 70th).

Yeah, I had forgotten about MIL's birthday, but we are going in with SIL and she seems to be in super cheap mode.

We are just winging it when it comes to our kids. Very "go with the flow". We sent out invites for LM's party next weekend but are keeping it pretty loose. Will see who can make it and make decisions from there. Was thinking of splurging on an ice cream cake but I can just pick that up during the party. We don't do party favors - I hate all that junk and clutter. So yeah, I am really not planning to do much to prepare.

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With dh working, I am not feeling like we need to pinch pennies quite as much as last year (with all the big splurges).

We are planning a mid-week trip to San Francisco in July. We were going to do a weekday trip to Monterey in August but I am not sure if we can get that to work out. Maybe that would be something to do in October. The kids don't have the same break but I think they at least had one weekday off together in October.

In addition, dh and I have a couple of weekends away planned. That is more motivated by MIL having tons of timeshare points to use up. Is not anything we plan to spend money on. These trips will be later - our anniversary and my 40th birthday.

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So... Everyone in my house has been jumping into some new skills and classes.

I went a little back and forth on this. I was feeling inspired. But I also do feel like I have plenty on my plate as is. In the end I am glad I decided to take on a new skill myself. I took all that inspiration to finally learn how to knit. I am glad I just bit the bullet because it is really something that can be done during otherwise down time. In the end I don't feel like this has taken away from anything else.

Though I am sure you can mostly learn this skill online for free, I ended up picking up a book with 50 squares to knit. IT didn't even have any reviews and I picked it up on a gut feel. But I am LOVING it. Have mostly been told that knitting a blanket or something like that would be too tedious at this point and to keep it small. So this has been kind of perfect to practice and to build up skills.

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely learned online from Youtube. Since I got my needles and yarn first (Michael's) I kind of started with that. Then I have to look up all the stitches online because yeah, it's hard to learn from a book. But between the two, I am happy with this method of learning.

Honestly, I feel kind of silly for not doing this sooner. One of those things I had been putting off for a very long time.

Edited to add: Saw some tote bags to knit, which seems the easiest/most practical so far. Making a note to self since I'm not quite ready for that yet.

June Savings

July 2nd, 2016 at 05:29 am

Received $40 bank interest for the month of June.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $182 cash back on Citi card. (Lots of travel expenses this month)

Redeemed $20 cash back on Visa/dining card. (More travel expenses)

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$6 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash
+$ 900 to IRAs

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
-$2,000 Airfare (Entire vacation budget)
- 725 Dentist (3)
- 20 Vet (shots)

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More spending than saving this month. Pulled the following amounts from long-term savings:

-$1,300 MRI
-$2,700 8th Grade Trip
-$3,000 Family DC Trip

It probably won't get much better. In July we will work on some big home improvements.

I suppose for this month it should be called "June Spending".

Final Vacation Post

June 28th, 2016 at 07:13 am



I think I got it all figured out.

$2k airfare is already paid for + will pay off $3k of the trip today (with mid-June paycheck).

Not sure on the last $373. I have $125 left in grocery budget this month. (Not sure why I don't have more left, since we were gone two full weeks, but it is what it is. It was a good month to go over).

So... Subtracting $125 extra leaves about $250 to come up with. I was thinking of funding the rest with credit card rewards (should be a LOT this month). But with the stock market down I think I will stay the course and invest credit card rewards this month.

I may change my mind once I pay the July bills. I have not done so yet but will do so today. I usually leave a little float to work with and as long as I have the cash, I will just leave the investments as usual and use up some float.

In addition to the above, we did spend $65 on gas. Since gas was significantly cheaper back east I will just absorb that with our monthly gas budget. (Monthly gas usage was very average).

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We did end up going to family camp the day after we got back from DC. It was too much. I'd say that the sleep I got Sunday night was on par with sleeping in the airport. I was planning to come home after dinner on Monday but quickly changed my mind to leave after lunch. Really ready just to go HOME.

LM had a little freak out himself. I think he was just overly exhausted and feeling under the weather. I wish he got more sleep last night, but we've really got nothing planned the next several weeks and so he will relax and get better in his own time. (I just brought him home with me). Mental note: Never plan a big vacation right before camp again. I'd say we had no choice this year, but are looking into changing our camp week to later in summer.

I was going to do some work from home today, but feel kind of *F* it, now that I am home. & also because I have a kid with me, though he can mostly take care of himself. I do go back tomorrow.

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I did have a good breakthrough with my MIL this weekend, and some financial relief. We had bought LM a substantial birthday present ($150-ish?) before things got suddenly spendy and expensive here. We were going to offer BM, who wants *nothing*, an experience like indoor skydiving. When I brought it up though, LM chimed in that he wanted to go too. Seriously?? (Never would have guessed that in a million years).

Anyway, MIL was nagging dh about gift lists yesterday and he's trying to get her to chill out and give us some time to regroup. He won't even be home until tomorrow. But we did mention the indoor skydiving thing for whatever reason and she said she wants to pay for it. Awesome!! (Usually she is so set on piles of "stuff". So it never occurred to me that she would be open to that. I had told her that there was nothing "stuff"-wise that he wants, but I am sure I've already told her this many times before).

Phew!

We do still have to figure out something for BM. Dh and I will have to figure that out later. His birthday is in 2 weeks, so we have some time. I suppose everything else I have in mind isn't any cheaper. But we will figure something out.

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This also reminds me that MIL gave the kids $30/each to buy souvenirs in DC. In typical BM fashion, he spent $0 of that money. (We will have to transfer to his savings account). That's just kind of how he is, so I didn't think much of it.

LM on the other hand, is a bit of a shopper. But everything he liked was just too expensive. I kept telling him it was Grandma's money and to enjoy. But instead he would rant about how ridiculously expensive souvenirs are. I told dh one day, "What did we do to our kids?" He did spend $11 on a couple of things. In fact, I was delighted to see a magnet he was interested in was only $2. He was pleased with that purchase.

I guess if MIL is doing the experience thing, then no one is probably buying him the "stuff" that he wants for his birthday. So his $19 leftover can go towards whatever video game MIL usually buys him. Or maybe that will be a gift from GMIL.

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Edited to add: I did pay all the July bills and I did seem to have enough float. So I won't sweat coming up with the last $250. (I'll probably just put the $250 back into checking once dh gets his next paycheck in September).

I will also say that we are still at peak liquidity, even after paying for two big vacations. Phew!

Back from Vacay

June 25th, 2016 at 05:50 pm

We got back from our DC trip this morning. Phew!

Was having trouble finding flights when we switched from October to June. I picked a flight from our home airport (right by our house) because it was the cheapest AND the most convenient, but I can't tell you how close I was to canceling that flight because we only had a 45 minute layover on the way back. That said, we were flying back Friday and knew we'd have the weekend to get back if need be. Dh and I discussed splitting up to get home, if need be. (& we can usually get home quickly in these cases because we could divert to SFO or San Jose and maybe even get a ride from family, which we have done in the past when a flight was canceled). I was more pushing for the direct flight from SFO, but dh talked me into keeping the "short layover" tickets and not having to deal with all that driving. We did leave on the last day of school and it would have been a lot.

In the end, the short layover was not the problem. Most California airports have curfews and the problem was more that our flight was the "last flight of the night". Our flight got delayed and we missed our connection (but it was a couple of hour delay so we'd miss no matter what, like pretty much everyone on our plane). So we spent the night in the airport (too late to bother leaving and coming back) and got the first flight out. Since I kind of expected the worst all along I guess it was better than I thought it would be. (At least we all got on the same flight, to our home city).

We flew American Airlines, which I don't think I ever have as an adult. Usually United is cheapest from our airports. I will probably avoid AA in the future. I can't tell you how many flights they had delayed or canceled due to missing crew. ???

Oh... & it took us 3 hours to get to the airport in Baltimore. 45 mile drive. We had such a late flight we just planned to get there several hours early. Thankfully security had no line. (Probably because everyone was stuck in traffic). But yeah, it was quite an ordeal to get home.

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The kids were good sports. LM is maturing considerably, so, phew! I have a picture of him scowling in front of the first Wright brothers plane. (Day 2, he was not in a good mood). But apparently nothing else was quite as boring as the air and space museum. Wink

{It helped that we bought that small laptop. & that day he was so bored he came up with a novel he wanted to write, so we packed the laptop for all our long drives and I think that went a long way to appease him. We had 4 days in the middle of mostly driving. He's 10 and his writing is incredible. As long as he has an outlet, I guess he is good}.

We were able to hit 23 or so museums and landmarks.

I hadn't been to DC since 1999. One of the tours we got was for the Library of Congress. Which is a newer thing that they are giving tours (they moved all the people working there to another building and so had more room for tourists and so on). So we just went with it because it was one of our congressional tours. On the first day actually, but was a highlight of our trip. The building is just magnificent. & we did also get to see Thomas Jefferson's library (which was the start of the government's library. Was told there he sold to them at a discount out of the kindness of his heart, and to start a government library, but learned at Monticello he sold to pay debts. Never found out why he was in debt up to his eyeballs. I am inspired to do a lot of American history reading now).

Actually, we did good on the first and last day. We checked our of our hotel Friday and went to the secondary air and space museum (a huge airplane hangar about 45 miles out, opened more recently also) and we only had about 2 hours but that was pretty incredible.

We did go to Philly and the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall was a first for me too. (LM LOVED the Benjamin Franklin museum. I think it was like $4 admission and was really well done. Another trip highlight, as were all the things we hadn't really planned too much ahead).

We did have time to go to Hershey. Spent way too much money there but I think the rest of us (other than dh) needed some more goofy time. (We had gone back and forth a few times if we would bother, but we ended up having time).

We did also make it out to Colonial Williamsburg. Which happened to be the day that it poured rain in DC, so we were very charmed on the weather front. (I was dreading the heat and humidity, but we lucked out. Some of it was good luck. I think otherwise Florida scarred me and that's like my idea of heat and humidity. Which is 10 times worse than any weather we experienced on this trip. & to be clear, I've only been to Florida in October. I could not even begin to imagine what a Florida summer is like).

Other highlights were getting to see some original works of art from DaVinci, Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, etc. Saw some famous pieces of art. Of course, it was fun to explore and find other gems. They also had an incredible photograph gallery. They really encouraged taking pictures at most the museums and the white house, etc. (Though could not take any pictures inside any historic homes). So I will definitely share some pictures later.

We barely made a dent in the art museums. They were just so ginormous.

Of course, our Capitol tour was during the sit-in. The line for the House gallery was hours long and my husband stood in line for hours just to get in after they took a break. Ugh! I didn't want to waste my last day in D.C. in line and BM is going back in the spring. So we left it at that. Of course, dh had wanted to go join the protestors the day before but no one was there (we split for a while). While he was in line seeing nothing, while we are the Capitol the following day, we went outside where all the action was. So dh got the short end of the stick there. Everyone had left by the time he came outside. He never saw any protestors though he was at the Capitol both days. (The big crowds seemed to swell later at night, looking at the news later).

Which reminds me, we got to our Congressperson's office early enough, for Capitol tour, that we were chatting with the staff for a while. Dh is just beside himself about this sit-in and was asking what we could do. (Since he seemed to be missing the protests). They re-iterated to call your congresspeople and to make your voice heard. Said they had never gotten so many calls (this young staff person said this, speaking to his time there) and they take phone calls very seriously. So passing that along as a FYI. Last time we went to DC we did meet with our congressperson. This time we really didn't bother (we've met her several times in our city) and she was at the sit-in anyway so it would have been canceled I presume. But it was still an experience all the same. It was good for the kids to see.

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I added up our total Friday a.m. and I think our spending was getting close to $3,500 for our trip (everything but flights). So grand total around $5,500. By far our most expensive family vacation. Though most the tours and museums we did do were free, we did have to pay for a hotel room, which we usually do not. (In the end, in-laws timeshare had nothing near D.C. They were trying to tell us that most people just stay 1 hour away!? No thanks!?)

Since I also paid for BM's DC trip for next year, I guess this year's vacation spending is going to be in line with last year's "year of splurge." Really and truly though, not planning any more family vacations after this. SO HAPPY to be done with flying for the foreseeable future.

I would like to throw $3k from our savings to pay off our expenses this month. (Will do this next week, cash flowing from my paycheck the money that would have gone to savings). I am hoping to cash flow the last $500 or so with credit card rewards and grocery savings on the home front (not buying groceries for 10 days or so). Will see how close to $3,000 I can get.

I think as to the trip, everything but flight home went as well as it could have. I really dislike traveling, but I have a really hard time with jet lag and so on. I am very scheduled and in tune with my body, so I just can never really get over the travel and get lag to actually enjoy. Probably why I enjoy smaller trips. I really thought I was insane to agree to a red eye flight out and was really dreading that part. For whatever reason, I seem to handle these things better with age. Seems counter-intuitive I guess. Maybe once you have a newborn, a one night with no sleep is no biggie. & since that went 10 times better than I ever though it would, I was pretty mellow about being stuck in the airport last night. I'll get a good sleep tonight and my body will slowly adjust back to normalcy. I am sure I will feel miserable for a few days, but I think it's just relative.

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As I look forward to being done with flights and crazy expensive vacations (from our frame of reference), my MIL wants to plan a big trip next year. By itself it is a very generous offer. But it's my MIL and it's a whole thing. Will see...

Dh will probably also go to Florida for his Grandfather's 90th, but we've known that for a while and are just expecting to pay for one cheap-ish airline ticket. Florida in fall has been historically cheap and he will be going with his parents. We know they have time-shares there since we have used them multiple times.

My dream vacation at this point is some National Park road trips with dh. Yellowstone and Grand Canyon are the biggies that we want to do. Maybe 3 or 4 trips I can think of that we want to start doing without the kids. I think this will keep us busy for a while.

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Getting back to reality...

Kids' birthdays are right around the corner and no plans have been made. They both have bigger groups of friends this year and are asking for proper parties. (Usually we have the energy to let them invite one friend over). We will probably oblige. So probably two busy weekends ahead.

Dh should have another MRI soon. I don't expect any news. It will be another years or so before I expect any news. His Doctor is eager to see any potential progress though. He agreed to limit to 2x per year since we have a high deductible plan. Doesn't really matter since MRIs would be free after first two (after deductible maxed) but they do the contrast dye thing and dh doesn't really want any more MRIs than necessary. We always joke how the dye is worse than the brain tumor itself. Seriously, lord knows what that stuff does to your body and they are injecting a lot into his system. But anyway, I expect we will collectively hold our breath a bit until that is done. Always worrying about bad news. (Bad news would be more surgery).

Reminds me, I was shocked to learn that (George) Gershwin died of a brain tumor at age 38. Had no idea. That one kind of knocked me for a loop. They had a Gershwin exhibit at the Library of Congress. (I had no idea he had a brain tumor or that he passed so young).

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I'll try to share some pictures tomorrow a.m. Any costs breakdown will have to wait for a few more days.

Gearing Up for Vacation

June 7th, 2016 at 09:08 am

Dh is officially off work for the summer. His work is always very vague on seasonal schedule (I guess it just depends how things are going). So he mentioned the kids get off school in a couple of weeks and they said that was fine. That his last day could be their last day. Then a few days later Corporate came down and said all the seasonal employees were off work as of last Friday. (If he hadn't of asked ahead of time, I don't know that we would know that was unusual. It seemed they expected to keep seasonal employees until late June; our kids still have a couple of weeks of school).

I am sure dh will enjoy the extra time off!

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This month I am paying off crazy big bills. I paid off the credit cards on the 1st. $5k to one card. Included airfare for our trip, plus some reimbursed professional expenses.

Since I can't go into vacation with a $5k+ credit card balance. Just... can't... do it... I expect to pull $4k from savings this week to pay off the school trip and MRI bill. (I had charged in June to give me some flexibility to pay off. But it's just going to drive me crazy in the interim).

When I get back from vacation I will receive a $3k paycheck that is entirely earmarked for savings. I am guessing I will also just throw that at the credit card to offset our own trip expenses. So maybe three big payments this month. (I would otherwise pay off on the first, so it just means paying down a few days early).

I have not added up trip expenses at all and I don't want to. I expect we will spend more than $3k. I just don't even want to know. I want to enjoy our time. We initially expected to travel in a more off time and to have more flexibility for cheaper airfare. We also initially expected a free hotel room. So our super frugal trip has ended up going in the opposite direction. But we have the money so it just is what it is. Kind of a last hoorah since we aren't planning any more big travel with the kids. I don't remember the last time I paid for a hotel more than a night or two. Probably not since I have been married. & I don't know when I will ever fly my kids (with us) anywhere again. So is a lot of why I am just letting it go.

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I will have two weeks of vacation this month. Our DC trip was literally the only time we could mesh our schedules all year. *sigh* (Which is a huge reason we are done traveling with kids). So we leave on the last day of school and get back the day before our annual family camp trip.

All else being equal, I'd probably just go to camp. It's VERY relaxing and I imagine our DC trip is the kind of vacation that I will need a vacation from. But... I don't want to board my cat extra days and I don't want to leave him home alone 3 nights after boarding him for like 10 days. Plus, I would really like to preserve some vacation for other things. (The last time I took two weeks off was... Never? Maybe my honeymoon? Particularly with kids, I like to be free to take days off here and there as things come up). We've left it that I might just drive up for two days. Would give me two whole days. I am happy with that, as long as I can drive back while it's still light.

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So I got word back that we are confirmed for a white house tour and the Capitol Building tour. Woohoo! (We applied right around the 3 month mark deadline and wasn't sure we'd get in with our last minute trip changes).

Reminds about one cool thing about BM's class trip. One of his classmates parents works at the Capitol and she had arranged a "behind the scenes" type tour this year and will do the same next year. So that's some extra perk that he will get on this other trip.

Bills, Bills, and More Bills

May 30th, 2016 at 08:12 am

The tide has definitely turned. The quiet tide where we barely spent any money this year.

I don't even know where to begin.

**BM seems pretty certain he wants to go on the school DC trip. Since we don't want to do payments, it turns out we probably have to pay for that around June 1. (Okay, my planning was REALLY bad on that. Never occurred to me that we'd have to pay that a full year ahead of time).

**Last week I got dh's MRI bill (from January). Of course!

{The MRI bill and school trip stuff is $4,000 total. Plan is to charge up in June so that I don't have to pay until July}.

**I did buy our own Washington D.C. airfare this month.

**Dh got that phone deal he couldn't resist. Which is chump change compared to all this.

**We picked up an extravagant birthday gift for LM because it was on sale. I think it was around $160. Will save for July birthday. (This was before any of the above).

**Both dh and BM are taking classes this month for some unique passions. Will have to touch more on that later. Kind of curious to see how both pan out a bit more before I blog about them. Dh spent $125 and BM spent $40, this month.

**This week I saw that one of dh's favorite bands is playing regionally. First show in 7 years. It's not until October but tix go on sale this week.

**I did see a groupon for the local water park and was tempted, but decided we had spent more than enough money this month. (Thinking for BM's birthday, but other deals will come around).

To this point it's been fine. But if anything else comes up...

MRI aside, it's all fun stuff at least.

Edited to add: Decided to nix the concert. It was really expensive. Which I probably wouldn't have thought twice about before all the big surprise bills this week. Dh just happened to bring up last night (since I had told him not to spend more money this month?) and I Said, "Well... I do think the tickets are kind of ridiculously expensive." We just hadn't seen each other all week to discuss and kind of assumed the other *really* wanted to go. But we discussed it and decided we didn't want to pay for a ridiculously expensive concert. Just a reminder how extra money gets blown when things are hectic and assumptions are made. {Without BM's trip we would have gotten the tickets and enjoyed. But it was just re-discussing after $4k in bills fell out of the sky. It quickly fell down the priority scale}.

All of that said, we are still at "peak liquidity". & probably will still be there after all this sorts out. I can live with that.

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As a frugal win, I did cut LM's hair. He doesn't have much hair and dh was complaining that his last haircut took like 5 minutes, if that. I didn't care because I get him a $10 haircut once every 12 months or so and lord knows BM and I always get our money's worth (tons of hair, takes a long time to cut). I told dh, "Trust me, it evens out." But in the end I decided to give it a whirl. Worst case is I muck it up and pay someone to fix it. It turned out way better than I ever thought it would. I had cut their hair when they were preschool age but was nothing I would subject them to once they hit school age. I think it was pretty obvious I cut their hair and wasn't that great at it. But I guess LM has super easy hair for the moment. So I am glad I gave it a try.

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In other spending, dh did also buy a laptop this weekend. He thinks it will help with his writing. After watching computer reviews and sales for a while, he was able to pick up a small laptop for $200.

I'm personally happy to have a much smaller laptop to take on our upcoming vacation. I am glad he found a deal before our trip.

I think mostly dh wants to take his writing with him everywhere so that he can take more advantage of down time. I don't think upcoming "down time galore" was his motivation but I expect he will be getting a lot of use from the laptop.

May Savings

May 30th, 2016 at 06:52 am

Received $42 bank interest for the month of May.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $70 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $5 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$8 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash
+$ 900 to IRAs

Also, redeemed $208 Barclay card one-time bonus.

Savings (From dh's paycheck):
+$ 230 to Investments

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
-$400 Drama Camp (summer)

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As to dh's paycheck, I turned off the 401k mid-month. I think because we had so many bills coming up. (I don't remember exactly why I turned it off when I did). So we put 50% to 401k first half of the month, and that's it. I used his check to cash flow some of the May/June craziness. Turns out he will only get one paycheck in June so I am so glad I did that. I'll turn the 401k back up to 50% as necessary for tax purposes. Taxes were the only reason we put so much into his 401k, but in the meantime my OT was not as much as usual and his work has been slow, so don't need to put so much in the 401k. (Is not a financial priority at all, to fund his 401k, since we have more than enough saved for long-term retirement). So I will see where we are at in the Fall and what is more efficient. If we can use his fall paychecks to pay for some of BM's class trip, that would be great. At some point I know I will have to put 50% into his 401k again(maybe October - December, or something like that. He has the summer off).

The savings drain will be pretty big for the next two months. Will pay for BM's class trip and our vacation. Oh, and I got dh's MRI bill too. That's $8k+ right there. Fun Fun!

Weekend Doings

May 15th, 2016 at 09:13 pm

Yesterday I had a day out with the kids. 2 weekends in a row. We got 3 free tickets to an advanced screening of Angry Birds. Dh decided to sit it out since both the kids wanted to go.

We took some books to entertain us and got there about an hour early, but it seems like we probably could have gotten there much closer to the screening time. It wasn't as packed as the last one I had gone to. There were some empty seats. Though if we went too much later it might have been harder to sit together. The other nice thing is that there is no commercials or previews, so it's not an apples to apples comparison as to paying for a movie. You'd still want to get there a little early or at least have to sit through a lot of stuff before the movie started.

After the movie I took the kids out for Mongolian BBQ, since there is one right next to the theater. I thought the place might be crowded after the movie, since it got out at 12:30. But it really wasn't. I at some point had a light bulb moment that "free movie" types probably don't go out to "$10 per person lunch" afterwards. Lord knows 99% of the time we wouldn't, and there's definitely some eccentric people at these screenings. I am sure a lot of very cash limited and frugal types.

BM had wanted to go to Monglolian BBQ on Mother's Day, since we had been right by one, but I didn't want to eat out on such a busy day. So I just thought it would be a nice treat for the kids.

From there we ran to Target because they kids were out of toothpaste. BM also wanted to pick up a bigger re-usable water bottle for school.

While at Target, I spotted some plastic tumblers that I really liked. I've been buying some online and wasn't really happy with the first ones I got (too small) so I had bought some more. Which were fine. But, maybe too large? As we had never put them away inside the cabinets. So... I saw the "just right" ones at Target. I took a picture of them to order them online later.

& then I treated the kids to white cherry icees, because I was feeling generous. (I can't believe they still have those! I just remember getting those when I was pregnant, or in that time frame somewhere. Then I started doing most my shopping online and completely forget about them. But my memory was jogged recently and I couldn't believe they still have the white cherry icees. My fave!)

I did drag the kids to the grocery store on the way home to get some items for dinner. I picked up a bouquet of flowers while I Was there. I always peruse them but nothing much has struck me this year. But yesterday I found some. (They are generally fairly cheap and very fresh).

When I got home I couldn't find the same tumblers online. Well, I found them for $40 though they had been more priced $20 (for 8) in the store. ??? So I asked dh if he would go back with me later. After dinner we went back and he did some grocery shopping and I was able to pick up 8 of the pretty tumblers for $20. (I LOVE them! Way more my style then the others I had bought). I put the 8 "too big" ones in my donation pile and made sure we had cabinet space for the new ones. I am so used to the ease of shopping online, but sometimes it's easier to shop in person. This was a much better in-person type purchase.

Oh, and we feasted for dinner last night. I have this family porcupine meatball recipe that dh and the kids don't care for. So I just make it for myself sometimes. That was my plan, but dh made Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden knockoff) for dinner, which I definitely had some of. & I roasted some cabbage.

Reminds me, I tried a new salmon patty recipe a couple of weekends ago (made with fresh salmon) and it was a huge hit with the kids. My parents are coming up in a couple of weekends and I will have to make for them. Or maybe that's just evil. We have this canned salmon patty family recipe, but I don't know if I can go back now. Big Grin Oh whatever, my parents can afford fresh salmon.

In other news, dh activated that phone and it actually worked! It was some deal he got about 18 months ago where it was $60 for a Moto G. The catch was that it was a Boost mobile phone but it was supposed to work with Ting after a year, or something like that. It sounded a little iffy. But, hey, it worked! He has agreed to get rid of our first 2 smart phones, which are out-dated. For now it's just talk, so I will have to lean on him a bit. I somehow don't think he has a plan of what to do with these phones. He's just agreed to purge them. Where and when, I don't know.

2016 Stats

May 15th, 2016 at 06:46 am

I wanted to do a reality check on our spending for this year. I just had to spend a minute or two running reports in Quicken to gleam the following.

2016 Stats through April 30th:

--Spending is $15,580 for 1/3 of the year.

This is $3,132 less spending than same time frame last year.

Major difference is that we paid $3k for Japan trip in spring 2015.

I'd say we are pretty consistent. The Japan trip was clearly a one-off.

One thing I was concerned about is if we were justifying more spending with dh working. I'd say the answer is no.

In fact...

--Gross Income is up a mere $326. Versus the same time period last year.

Factoring taxes, I'd say our net income is lower.

Is dh working for the money? Clearly no.

{I made less OT money and didn't chase as many credit card type rewards}.

Other Stats:

--Net Worth is up $20,000, from January 1.

--If we paid off our mortgage today we'd have $125,000 left in savings/investments.

I think we have crossed the line to feasible. This would leave our Traditional IRAs and kids' college money (gifted) intact.

Is not something we will consider until we can do so without raiding our ROTHS. But, we are getting there... It's starting to snowball down the hill. We went from $0 to $125k in just 3 years, and that should just continue to accelerate.

Middle School (Age) Doings

May 13th, 2016 at 12:37 pm

My dh has a phone obsession (no idea why; I don't think he really even uses his phone much). But, anyway. Bought some phone "for BM some day maybe", which is ridiculous since I've lost track of how many phones we have. & they will all probably be obsolete before BM ever needs a phone.

All is well that ends well. I just grumbled at dh initially. But I told him today that I wanted to take a phone inventory and to get rid of some of the older phones. He agreed and I think in the end we don't have any more phones than we need. & most were bought as incredible deals, so maybe it's not all bad.

Our plan hinges on one phone that LM is using at current. We are supposed to be able to use it with Ting, but it's a little iffy. So we might test it out this weekend just to see if we should keep it (for the kids). If that phone works okay, dh has agreed to get rid of our first two smart phones. Then this phone would be our backup phone. Which we have already promised to his aunt when she is in the States this summer. & lord knows every once in a while we need to activate an extra phone. Like when I have to air out my phone for several days. Wink I am fine with the *one* backup phone. (& we could always activate short-term if the kids need cell service, so it certainly gets used).

This new phone will be dh's "insurance" phone and maybe the kids could use it some day. I think that's fine and reasonable if we only have *one* future phone. A full-on replacement if we have a phone die prematurely, something like that. (Which we would never use because we'd just buy a phone that we actually want. But, whatever dh. If it makes you sleep better at night).

Dh has another recent hand-me-down from his mom that he doesn't need after all (new "future" phone will take care of what he wanted this other phone for). So... We suddenly have a phone available for LM. The timing kind of works because I recall it was 6th grade when a lot of the kids got phones. So though he's been using a more cheapie phone for games, this will be a nice step up. IT's not Ting-compatible, but once he wants to start calling and texting his friends we will just set him up with google voice number.

BM's phone is not Ting compatible either, but getting cell service doesn't seem to be on his radar. I expect we will be good for a while. If not, we have "backup" phone and "future" phone. If we suddenly feel like the kids need cell phone service. I haven't ruled it out for next year since it will be different and chaotic. Until then...

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In other news, I am questioning my planning skills. I guess I am just in denial that my baby is getting older!

We've been discussing the whole 8th grade big trip for a while, but it never occurred to me I'd have to pay for that trip this year. I had some kind of a mental block about that. Well, technically the payment is due around January 1, for a March 2017 trip. Duh!

Dh has already given me fair warning on this issue. As it turns out, his parents planned a big trip to D.C. the summer before his 8th grade. So of course they were not interested in paying a bajillion dollars to send him again with all of his classmates. I think it probably didn't help that he went to a small private school, so probably felt a little more left out than I imagine our own kids would.

{I don't know that my 8th grade class even had a big trip. So none of this means anything to me. Lord knows my parents would never pay for a trip like that, when I Was a child}.

So, dh tells me about how upset he is about this and how he wouldn't do the same for his kids. So... He plans a big trip to D.C. *during* 8th grade. Don't ask me!

Since both our parents gave us large cash gifts last year, I basically told him, "Whatever." I honestly don't care. *I* am not paying for it.

I think if the trip was *just* D.C., we'd have to admit that this is pretty redundant. Dh may have his personal feelings on the subject, but he's also a really cheap guy. So I don't even know if he would be pushing for this.

But... They are also going to NYC. They had me at Broadway!

BM hasn't decided yet if he wants to go. But we got the information this week. Cost is $2,500-ish. We told him we had the means, and it's just up to him if he wants to go.

The way I am compartmentalizing this in my brain is mostly, "The grandparents have this covered." Whether they know it or not. Without their generosity, I don't know that I would feel so blase about this expenditure.

But, that said. It seems we have been throwing around the idea of a lot of big expenses, and this did throw me off a wee bit.

I don't know how much of it is "13 years of unemployment" thing or just that dh and I have never spent his income. I mean, we might save it for later and spend it down. But 100% of his income has always gone to savings of some form. At some point it hit me that we have dh's income to cover this. It just took me a long time to get there. & now I'd like to kind of forget that I ever thought about it. But yeah, that does makes this trip "no big deal" from a financial standpoint. I think I will continue my thinking as always. All of dh's income will go to savings. In turn, your assets get bigger and you more seriously consider splurges like this. I guess was kind of where we were, but I wasn't fully realizing how quickly we should be able to replenish this savings.

Dh and I did also discuss that we would not offer this trip to BM unless we felt we could offer the same to LM. OF course, LM could currently care less. Which is why BM tend to be so spoiled on the travel front. He's the only one in our house that cares about this stuff at all. Is not personally how I would spend my own money. But, I can appreciate the ying and the yang of it. I would bet money that LM will never ask us to send him on the 8th grade trip. Will see...

More Doings

May 8th, 2016 at 08:01 am

**BM told me that his school uniform shirts were getting too small. I just happened to luck out with a sale at Hanes. I bought him 5 uniform shirts and 4 casual shirts for $40. Thankfully everything fit well. They changed the material on the uniform shirts and he said it is way more comfortable. Should only be one more year of uniforms for him. Hopefully one of my last uniform purchases?

**Went to Robot Wars a few weekends ago and spent way too much money. But we had a blast as we always do.

**We finally got a Dungeons & Dragons game started for LM and his friends. I think the stars just kind of aligned on this. Dh was able to get like 30 electronic books and a starter game set for like $30? (I mentioned in Feb). Plus LM has just been kind of finding his people.

We decided to kick start things to have a game every Friday after school, but I am sure we will eventually dial it back. Maybe every other week. We've been serving dinner with the Friday games but thankfully LM's friends don't seem terribly picky. We started with pizza and are just kind of working our way down to our more frugal potluck type dishes.

As an aside, this reminds me that dh ended up making chili for his potluck game night group, recently. He's been going for a year or two and they told him they all thought he had been a vegetarian. LOL. So they were surprised when he brought chili with meat. We have this rice and bean dish that is so cheap and everyone loves so much, so that is our main go-to potluck dish. They mistook frugality for vegetarianism. Wink I do recall also he has made homemade hummus and salsa for that group. Don't remember what else he has taken. Though I wouldn't be surprised if he's taken a veggie tray to counter all the junk food most people bring. Which probably plays into the impression that everyone had.

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Since Mother's Day is always my first long weekend (or time off) for the year, it's always when I realize how disgusting my house is and I always seem to end up cleaning. (Tomorrow will be my first week day off this year, so making a 3-day weekend of it).

Plus we have a tradition that I take the kids over to the play place. Since it's only open for free play (on the weekends) rarely or on Holidays.

So I always joke that I do all the motherly things I don't generally do. That is definitely how today is shaping up. At the play place I take a book, buy some junk food from the vending machine, and generally enjoy a little extra bonding with my kids after busy season. This year I am not quite so deprived on quiet reading time or child bonding time, but will enjoy regardless.

I was surprised the kids even still wanted to go. They will outgrow this place any day now.

I probably won't be telling anyone else that I took the kids out by myself and cleaned the house on Mother's Day. They wouldn't get it. Wink

May Doings, High School Stuff

May 7th, 2016 at 08:22 am

I guess this month is shaping up to be a bit of a chore month on the home front.

3 of us do have dental appointments and will have to get our cat his shots so that we can board him while we vacation. Just stuff like that.

We did have someone come out and clean out the gutters and power wash the house.

On the flip side, things have been pretty quiet. We are so ahead financially on everything that all through tax season I felt like I was forgetting something. But I think we've just gotten so efficient. I don't have anything in particular to tend to or clean up on the paperwork side of things and don't feel like I have done much this year. Since we are always pretty organized, it could just be that life has been *really* quiet. I do think that is some of it. But I am also really appreciating things like pre-paying the property taxes so that I have one less thing to worry about during tax season.

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In other news, we had a meeting with the high school that went really well. They seem infinitely more interested in "proper math placement" than BM's current school. I think they just have different red tape and motivations.

Will see, but so far both schools and the district seem to have no problem with things. If you missed my prior post on this topic, BM's current (middle) school doesn't offer higher math than algebra. He's already been held back more than he should have. We were never promised anything, but our first choice would be that he take math at the high school next year. It's our preference that he take an actual math class with peers. We have the resources to get him a (free) private math tutor if need be, but we kind of figure that is our last resort. We also have some other options that are not very ideal. So this is Plan A. (Plan A seems to be everyone's preference).

I wasn't sure what to expect from the meeting. But I think the bottom line is that they want our kid to attend their low performing school. I do also think our principal framed it with this expectation so that they would work with us. Honestly, this high school is very strongly in the running (they have some great programs for the higher achieving kids). But we haven't made any decisions yet. While there to discuss math (which we did all of a couple of minutes), we did tour the school and talked about the engineering program. Up to this point we've just been thinking of this as a means to get BM the proper math class. We chose this high school 99% because of the close proximity to the middle school, but also because our principal has a very close relationship with the school. But I now realize it is a really nice edge to attend the school for one year and get a feel for the campus. I will say I already have a far more favorable impression of this school administration versus the other high school. But I also think attending the school for an hour per day will give us more information to decide than any first (or second or third) impressions ever will.

I still will believe when I see it. I am sure there is red tape to sort out, even if we haven't been presented with any red tape yet. Schedules have to mesh, etc., etc.

April Savings

April 29th, 2016 at 06:21 am

Received $36 bank interest for the month of April.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $25 credit card rewards (cash back) from our gas/grocery card.

Redeemed $42 cash back on Citi card.

Redeemed $5 cash back on Visa/dining card.

Other snowflakes to investments:
--$7 Savings from Target Red Card

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash
+$ 900 to IRAs

+$3,000 OT to savings (will fund my mortgage goal)

Savings (From dh's paycheck):
+$ 840 to Savings/Investments

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
- 500 life insurance

{That's $6,155 total saved this month!}

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Grandma slipped me $300 for doing her taxes. I'd say we spent about $200 of that for Robot Wars and related expenses. So I just left this money in the checking account to cover expenses. Will consider all that a treat from her.

Mortgage goal is funded, thanks to OT. (I really didn't work a lot of OT this year, so was glad I made just enough for our annual mortgage goal). But as usual, I am just setting it aside for now and seeing how everything else shakes out. I will apply the $3,000 to the mortgage some time between now and 12/31.

I mentioned in my last post that we are going to spend down some of our liquidity. It's a long story. But I wanted to be clear that it's not a "spend money to spend money" kind of thing. The next step for us is hitting our mortgage hard (our only debt). The short version is that it seems to be more sensible to take care of home improvements before we start throwing large sums at the mortgage. If I have $8k to throw at the mortgage, maybe I'd rather complete some long put off home improvements with that money. On the flip side, we want to have *all* of our ducks in a row before we start throwing bigger dollars at the mortgage. I believe this is our last duck. (& if we had no ducks to tend to, then we'd be throwing some of this money at the mortgage. So I guess either way we will be spending it down).

2016 Rewards Update

April 28th, 2016 at 09:58 am

2016 TALLY:

$208 Cash (Barclay Card, Moi)
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$208 TOTAL *ONE-TIME REWARDS*


Other Rewards:

**Various monthly rewards that I will tally at 12/31.


I expect this to be a slow year.

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I am not sure what I will do with the $208. I charged up $500 insurance and already received a $208 statement credit (before a statement was even issued). The thing is I usually charge this bill around now (on May billing cycle) and would pay off June 1. So in the end, I don't get the benefit until June when my bill will be $208 less than usual. (In the meantime, I will probably be pre-paying this bill in May).

I'd like to just throw the $208 into our investments. But I expect I will be paying airfare in June (around $2,000). So I wouldn't be surprised if I'd rather have the $208 for that expense.

Will see...

I know I am long overdue for a blog update. Where I am at with things is work finally slowed down. Today I can breathe! I am just slowing my pace and letting it all sink in. Tomorrow I will just work a half day. The following weekend I will be able to take a 3-day weekend.

Oh, and I will have a huge savings update this weekend. Which is the flip side of being so busy. Lots of money being saved...

We are already thinking of many ways to spend down our money. Blog posts for another day. But we are moving forward with a planned home improvement. Work we did plan to do this spring or summer. It feels pressing though because it's long overdue and we are so flush with cash. The thing about home improvements is I really have no idea how much they cost. But if it's not too terrible, we are thinking of moving an unpractical wish list home improvement item up to our current to-do list. I guess the stars just seem to be aligning with that. But again, it depends how much it cost. If it's more than I expect, then it can go on the impractical wish list for another decade. Will see. I guess we may be moving it up the list significantly just long enough to get some quotes. Will see how we feel about it from there.

I am sure I will shortly have time to bore you with all of the details of all of the above. That is the short version, for now.

Yes!! Craziness to Ensue...

April 15th, 2016 at 06:53 am

I know it seemed about 99.99% certain, but I couldn't take it for granted until we got official word.

LM got into the art school! Woohoo!

We never had any grand plan, and it would have been impossible to have a grand plan since we bought our house before we had kids. In the end they both seem to be on track for very fitting schools for their individual needs (public school).

LM is a weird one because I think he'd be just as happy in a STEM program. But he's also so artistic. He is interested in pretty much every aspect of the arts. He will now get to dabble in a little bit of everything for middle school. I guess I feel like the STEM side of things we can more easily and cheaply provide. He is so blessed to get into this school, and I expect it will save me a bajillion dollars in extra-curricular type costs.

The kids' schedules next year will be CRAZY. Crazy by our standards anyway. Though their campus has often been in multiple locations, they have always had the same school/schedules. Since the main location (K-4) was walking distance from our house, we've never had to drive all over tarnation. We've just had one school to drive to.

I don't fully know what we have gotten ourselves into. I have to print out the calendars and schedules. It's just one year and then we will figure out the high school situation for BM. I think next year will be the worst of it.

Oh, and no more uniforms! We are going to arrange some kind of uniform burning celebration. Even if it's just done symbolically and we donate the uniforms, is probably more what we will do.

This school is Grades 6-12. If he likes it, he should be set until college.

Dh dropped off his acceptance yesterday but I will call today to get verbal confirmation that he is all set. Once I feel more warm and fuzzy about it we will contact his current school so they can give his spot to someone on their wait list. (Though they haven't even asked yet and may just wait for them to ask. I would think they would want to do that soon). It feels weird on some level to let it go, though aside from the convenience factor next year I don't think it really matters. There is a school just a couple of blocks away that I do not think has a waitlist. Seems to be the best option anyway if LM hates the art school. I don't know if he has a lot of other options since most the middle schools are charter schools with long wait lists. The one plain public middle school I guess, but I don't even know where the heck that is. Anyway, it feels weird to give up a spot at current school, but probably 100 times easier to do since we already have a middle schooler there. I am pretty sure LM would not like that middle school and he won't be missing much. So on some level it feels weird, but not in a "will we regret giving up an option?" kind of way. Just weird in that once he leaves he can't go back. A door closes.

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We found out the following day that it is official that BM will be taking math at the high school next year.

Okay, so that sounds too good to be true. But they seem to be done fighting us on this. Phew!

{Because of common core and curriculum changes, they dropped geometry completely from the middle school program. Though we have tons of math teachers in the family, several willing to tutor BM for free, school (with peers) is the best option and particularly for a class like geometry. I am not sure if he is taking geometry or the new common core math. Our hope was to get him into geometry so he could just get ahead of the changeover}.

So... Phew!! (Though... I will believe it when I see it?)

So now I guess we have to keep track of *three* school schedules!? Ugh. Thankfully dh is good with that stuff. Since both their schools are charter schools, they all have completely different calendars, even if all in the same school district.

As crazy as next year sounds, the one piece of the pie that sounds *perfect* is dh's job. We haven't discussed it in depth but we've discussed how he should probably keep this job next school year if we end up with a 3-school situation. They are very flexible and family friendly. (Beyond this super crazy schedule, I think he's ready to move on up to something more interesting and the opportunities seem to be there. But I think this will be a good holding spot for one more year). Everything seems to just be falling into place I guess.

I could not live my life like this, but sometimes you just have to do what you gotta do. For the short run I can do "crazy".

Credit Card Bonus

April 10th, 2016 at 08:59 am

I just signed up for the first credit card bonus (one-time) for the year. I expect it to be a slow year, but last year surprised me at the end. So... Who knows!

I got an offer to spend $500 and get $200 cash back. It's an offer that dh did late last year.

While at it, I closed his credit card for that deal.

I actually spent some time this morning evaluating if we were eligible for any bigger offers or direct deposit offers. Since dh has direct deposit for his paychecks, it opens up more rewards for us. But I didn't see anything worthwhile.

Completely striking out, I did remember that I had a direct mail offer.

Though I am kind of feeling "meh" on current offers, I don't think my work/benefit analysis has changed at all with dh working. We usually only do $200 minimum bonuses and try to maximize with the $500 bonuses. Those are all still VERY worth it. I just don't foresee getting a lot of those type offers this year.

Edited to add: Waiting to be eligible for Citi Thank You bonus again in late September 2016. Might be a $500 bonus that we can do this year.

Spring Break/Summer Break

April 3rd, 2016 at 10:55 am

Kids had two weeks off for spring break.

Almost 3 weeks. Before spring break they had a week of short days for the end of trimester and conferences. I took the gas sipper and picked them up every day on my lunch break.

First week of spring break we sent them off with our parents. Dh's parents had come up for St. Patty's day dinner. So we sent the kids home with them. We picked them up on Easter. Their summer is so short and everyone's always made other plans by then anyway. It's been good to have some forced time with grandparents and cousins. My dad took BM camping for a few days.

I barely saw dh. (Though we did have one nice date night). He just had his own things. After we made arrangements for kids, like the Friday before break, his work said he could/should take time off to be with his kids. I am sure if they were younger he could have just taken the time off. Plus it was really slow. As is, dh told them that he didn't have the kids and he did go to work. I think that week they just told him to take Friday off and he might have left early one day for a free movie. But the following week was really slow (though it was supposed to be busy?) It worked out since the kids were home. Monday through Wednesday I just drove home at lunch time to break up their day a bit and check on things. The kids can mostly take care of themselves. Thursday dh left work super early and I just happened to be having a crazy day at work and so I told him I'd just work through lunch. Then they were invited to a sleepover near my work so their friend dropped them off with me around noon on Friday and I drove them home. Dh was already home from work that day, by noon. They probably should have just told him to stay home another Friday.

It was nice the kids had the sleepover to break up the long week. We've never left them home quite that much before but it worked out to not being as much as we planned. OF course they were totally fine. It was good easing us parents into it. I don't even think we would ask our parents for help next time they have a week off. (Then again, mostly that is MIL begging to take them, since we don't need enough babysitting for her tastes. So she gets her wish for a bit).

One of the kids asked me what we were going to do for summer. They forgot dh has the summer off.

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Speaking of summer. I was technologically challenged and accidentally deleted my last post.

I think the jist of that post was that we were unable to get a free stay in D.C. this summer. Since this is the last family trip we are planning for the foreseeable future and I also don't remember the last time we paid for a hotel, we will just go with the flow.

Other than the big D.C. vacation, we are going for a very low key summer. BM had been taking summer programs at the college, but it's somewhat pricey and has always sounded way better on paper than the reality. I think he couldn't take any classes the year before last because of his Europe trip, but last year we tried again and it was pretty "meh". We did leave it that we would review the course catalog (for both kids) when it comes out, but unless something really *perfect* is offered we will just skip it.

I personally think summer should just be time to be a kid. Maybe especially because we expect our kids to be working in a couple of more years. & if we try to plan anything their short summer fill up pretty fast. So I am very happy for them to have a slow summer this year. It's something we have not achieved at all in recent years. Too many opportunities to take advantage of, usually. The year is young, so will see...

LM did love his drama camp and does want to do that again. $400 for early bird sign up. I expect extra-curricular expenses like this to dry up (or shift) as he will most likely be accepted to art/drama school. It will be interesting to see if he even wants to do drama camp next year. Hoping he can scratch more of that itch while at school anyway.

So those are summer plans.

I expect in the future summers we will try to work in some lower key vacations. Since summer will be the only time we can all co-ordinate. It would be a good time to do a Northwest road trip. & one thing I want to do is just rent a beach house or a house by Tahoe for the week. Something like that that I would rather do anyway but has been pushed aside by bigger plans. That's probably more fun to do anyway now that the kids are getting old enough to bring a friend along.

Dh and I want to do some road trips and hit the National Parks on our own. We will continue our fall break tradition without the kids. I am starting to consider the possibility that maybe we can even do some of this during this calendar year. Will see how the year shakes out. Right now it sounds pretty excessive with D.C. being way more expensive than we planned. But... I am very open to it if things go well financially this year. I can't imagine that a drive to the Grand Canyon costs that much, so I guess is why I am open to it. It just depends if we want to put it off one more year so we can do the whole big trip that we had planned to do initially. Or if I just want to get to the Grand Canyon once before I turn 40. (We had a big National Park trip planned in Fall 2013 but it got canceled with the government shutdown. Yosemite is the only National Park that I have been to).

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One more crazy thing about this summer. My eldest turns 13! I have been so future focused, thinking more about 16 or 18... It kind of took me by surprise to realize. 13!

What's crazy is that my MIL turns 70 the day after BM turns 13. It's going to take some time for me to wrap my brain around all that. I think this kind of freaks out dh and I because we both lost a grandparents around age 69. Just another reminder that our parents are getting to that age. The rest of our parents are a few years younger, but not by a lot.

Oh, that also reminds me. I really thought SIL would really want to go all out for the in-law's 40th anniversary, which is more the tradition in dh's family. We spent some years prepping financially for that and trying do plan ahead for our perceived income/taste inequality. In the end, SIL bought a $1.5 mil house just before the in-law's anniversary and couldn't be bothered to contribute one penny to that. Went the complete opposite way that I expected!! They've been pretty much "dirt broke" since. I felt kind of silly after all that. Well anyway, SIL did bring up (recently) wanting to do something big for MIL's 70th. Which I do not believe is a tradition in dh's family and threw me off. But... I also feel like that we will probably be more on the same financial page and so won't worry about it. I do think it's a good idea. Something we should probably think about more and plan more for as parents and kids get older. Probably more party throwing in our future.

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Edited to add: Kind of exhausted from the last few weeks. Probably especially since we spent all day driving and doing Easter festivities last Sunday. So not a single day off at home since the prior Sunday.

I so looked forward to a quiet day at home, but woke up with so much energy after having a really good night's rest and nothing on my plate for the day. So I asked dh to give me *5 minutes* to go through his clothes in our closet. It's mostly his professional stuff that he hasn't worn in 13 years. (& his wish is to never have to wear a tie again). But he also has piles of clothes from his mom that I know he will never wear. I don't remember what his excuse was, 10 years ago, for keeping all of it. But today he let it go very easily. He had no idea he had it or where it came from. Which is why I Wanted to be rid of it. Though the clothes were brand new and much nicer than the stuff I Remember him buying from the thrift shop 16 years ago... None of the gifted clothing were his style and clearly he never wore it. I am glad to let it go. We left it that since we have the space and he barely has any clothes otherwise, that we can just keep all of his professional clothing. But I said, "I am not keeping that if we move." He said, "Fair enough." (I suppose I should try to get him to purge some ties though, if he hates them so much).

Purged (all new with tags):

3 casual shirts (long sleeved, BM's size. But neither kid will wear long sleeves). I'd keep them for myself but I have enough clothes.

2 ties

3 work/button up shirts

6 pairs pants

Plus an old jacket. Dh made a comment a few weeks ago he didn't know he had that jacket, which is why I Wanted to go through his stuff.

P.S. We have since discussed the ties. He has maybe 6-8 ties hanging from one tie hanger. We decided to just leave it be until we are financially independent. (He'd maybe have to take a job with a nicer dress code if something happened to me, that kind of thing).


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