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Archive for March, 2020

Checking In

March 28th, 2020 at 04:34 pm

We've been on lockdown for just over a week I guess.

MM(16) was offered the summer job last week. They asked him to go in Wednesday? ??? Then quickly thought better of it. I doubt he will have a job at all. Will see...

MH's employer has been in extreme denial. It seems pretty obvious to us they are closed until fall (MH usually has the summers off). He works with the schools. They gave him about 70% pay and sent him home, last two weeks. It started "one day at a time" and ended up "one week at a time". Finally they shut down (yesterday) and told him nevermind, to file for unemployment. They will finish paying him this week and will pay out his sick pay.

We are completely fine for now, but I worry about a longer term recession. & honestly, MH is still recovering from 9/11 economically. He doesn't want to claim unemployment and get ahead of people who need it with more urgency. I told him I'd look it up and we could delay. But while thinking about it now I looked it up and I guess he only has two weeks to file? That's my one minute of googling. We can wait a couple of weeks and get further back in the line. It won't be much, given his job is low-wage and part-time. I don't know if he will be eligible for the new Federal benefits but will take what we can get. 9/11 was very harsh on us financially, so I just don't want to be stupid about it. It's hard for me to take my employment for granted, if nothing else. We are fine if I am employed, yes, but nothing is certain about that, now or ever.

School is going to be closed and online through the end of the school year. Not official yet I don't think, but even the Governor has said schools will likely not open again this spring.

I still feel comfortable going to small office. Even one of my innunocompromised employees has her Doctors' blessing (based on her specific medical situation and the small size of our office). My work is being rendered all sorts of essential at the moment. Construction is essential. Payroll and basic operations are essential. CPAs are essential, etc. For now. I can do most of my work from home, but am still going in two days per week. I think two days is kind of minimum to function "well". But also going in while I can because I know we may all be just working from home at some point.

Though construction is "essential", all the public offices are being shut down and "home sales" is not essential at the moment. So it's been insane busy with new daily challenges. Recorder's office shut down in one of our counties but is doing special recordings? We can't get permits, I guess? Not sure if that will change. Last I heard inspections might go digital/remote. Stuff like that.

I need to back up a bit on this though. I left a recession proof niche in 2018 (no choice, employer retired). I accepted a job in construction. I probably would have not accepted 99% of the jobs in construction but this one is unique. They have several businesses, I do some wealth management (very random), etc. I wasn't really expecting "home building" to stay essential but it is for now due to housing shortages in our state. But regardless of that, my business runs things largely like I run my household. Bills are paid far ahead and they leverage very little. I have not been concerned about the short run (weeks/months). Will see how things continue.

I did accept this job thinking it would be a natural pivot to part-time or semi-retirement during the next recession. Wasn't thinking about it happening so soon and may have some regrets on this front.

So that's kind of the big picture on that. I only leave the house to go to the office. MH only leaves the house to go to the grocery store.

I am just so buried at work, life continues on as it has. We are homebodies and try to generally limit unnecessary errands, always eat our meals at home, etc. so it's been a small change for us at this point. Having the electric car is the icing on the cake. I just recharge overnight, I never have to go to a gas station. MH has been getting groceries while I am home. We will have to take our gas cars out for a spin at some point.

As frustrated as I am that my work stars continue to align at *crazy* (pretty much with infinite random things that are completely outside of my control, spanning many years). As frustrating as that is, I do appreciate what a small disruption this has been to us, that we don't have smaller kids or kids in college. We seems to be in some sweet spot, my kids are very independent and don't need our help navigating school. In contrast, my SIL was in the middle of a remodel, has missing windows in her house and no working shower (due to bathroom remodel). 😂😂😂 My niece was going to Paris next month for an amazing exchange program, etc. Glass half full "monkey mama" is thinking, "Well we had absolutely nothing planned or going on, so this is very little disruption to our lives." It seems a miracle honestly after the last few years we have had. Will take it.

I mean, we did cancel LA Trip #2, which seems entirely jinxed at this point. But will just redo in the fall, if we can. LA Trip #1 was canceled when I was hit by some horrible flu or virus. The purpose of the trip was for us adults to see MM's #1 college choice, so we would like to redo the trip before 2021.

Edited to add: We will get $3,400 stimulus and will have to pay back $500 because MM(16) will be 17 by the end of the year. I expect the IRS does not know his age and that they will advance us $500 for him, if nothing else because this stimulus will be so rushed. Will see. But anyway, just hoarding the cash for potential unemployment. I've seen a lot of tax misinformation out there. The money is yours to keep unless your tax situation changed between 2018/2019 and 2020. They are basing the stimulus payments based on 2018 or 2019 taxes filed, because that's the most recent income/dependent information they have on file. But whether you were truly eligible and get to keep it will sort out when you file your 2020 taxes. **CORRECTION: That last sentence is not true. (Not sure 'strikeout' works on this mess of a website, sorry. I know it works on my sidebar but never works here so I didn't even bother trying). If you are overpaid, you get to keep it!**

Need Help - Online Games?

March 18th, 2020 at 07:05 pm

MH has been searching for online card games to play with his Grandma (who is in total isolation at this point, because she's 95).

Does anyone have any ideas? Most definitely willing to pay for apps or games if necessary.

Card games preferred, but anything simple and multi player. I joked that DL(14) should get her set up with Minecraft. Is how DL(14) is connecting with his friends. (Or whatever random online stuff kids do these days).

P.S. I should say that anything that can be played on a desktop computer would be preferred. But will make do with whatever, so app suggestions are nice too.

Life is Slowing Down

March 15th, 2020 at 03:20 pm

Life is slowing down enough to blog.

Reminder to give blood if you are able. I am having mixed feelings about it. I hadn't given blood in a while, for health reasons. I decided to re-evaluate next week and that I may be able to give blood in this case. Not sure, but just sharing as a reminder to those who are able to give blood.

MH is currently overwhelmed with empathy for our neighbor. We don't really know them from Adam, but the wife was very pregnant. Anyway, he texted them yesterday if they needed anything from the store. They replied they were fine but the baby had just been born. !! So MH is freaking out, just trying to imagine what that must be like. Being new parents is stressful and scary enough without a pandemic. On the flip side, better to have that baby now than any later.

I mentioned in my last post that things are pretty calm here, but that we are avoiding the crowds. We live in a tight knit community and I see a lot of people reaching out to help those housebound, etc. Will see how that continues as panic levels increase.

We personally don't stockpile anything. But when I say this, I think people take it the wrong way. Just as an example, we bought an larger family size of laundry detergent for the first time last week, just because it was on sale. It might have been a week or two ago. Strangely, we have never done this before, but probably just is a factor of sales and pricing. (We did far more laundry with babies, compared to now). Anyway, I think it just happens to be timing but we seem to be well stocked, with MH buying a lot of stuff just by chance in recent weeks. Was just thinking about it more because I did laundry yesterday so was calculating how long our laundry detergent would probably last. 1 year. So we don't "stockpile" because we only bought one box. But I will admit that using things carefully and sparingly (always) most definitely factors into these things. & we've probably never before bought so many things in more family sized packaging. The kids have been eating *so much* that we have been doing that more and more the last couple of years.

I did notice we are almost out of cat litter though. If I was kind of doing this exercise throughout the day of, "How long will this last?" I had an "oh crap" moment as I realized we were about out of cat litter. Just something I hadn't thought about at all. I'll probably run to Target and pick up some when they first open today. I had been avoiding Target/crowds but don't expect it to be an issue early in the morning.

I think things are sinking in, in their own time. I had personally been planning to go to the gym this morning. Sounded like a fine idea last night. I was surprised MH balked at that a little since he just took DL(14) yesterday. But this morning I am realizing it's probably dumb and unnecessary. If MH and I are only leaving the house to go to work at this point... I would have pegged the gym as the first place to be a virus factory. But it just stands out more when you aren't really otherwise going anywhere or doing anything. So why would the *only* place that I go be the virus factory? It may be moot very soon as I imagine they will shut down soon. We've only been back in the gym a month or two, so it's not even a big change for us. I do like the more expensive ellipticals, but I have an elliptical at home. DL(14) has weights and will be fine without the gym for a while. Which is all the more reason it seemed silly to go to the gym today.

The in-laws are coming to our house for St. Patty's Day dinner today. I have mixed feelings about it. I think it's dumb that they are coming, they live 100 miles away. But MIL is gonna do what she's gonna do. If we told her she is not invited, she'd just show up anyway. Mixed feelings? I am *so* confused because MIL is the most hysterical person I have ever known. I am just glad she isn't trying to force us down into a bomb shelter, I guess. I'll take what I can get.

I feel pretty *shrugs* about work. Probably because I work in a very small office. At most, am only exposed to 7 other people on a daily basis. I personally hate working from home. Obviously will do it from the greater good. But MH I think was excited to make me stay home more and I am just, "Nope, NOT volunteering for that." But I do work from home one day per week and it won't be any big change if it comes to that. Nothing I have to make any big adjustments for.

No one else's schools had been closed as of Friday. MH was in disbelief when I told him, so I started looking up counties. Yes, there's probably 4 different counties represented by our 6 employees. Clearly there should be some bigger region-wide decision. This is just kind of silly at this point, why one school is open and the one down the street is not. I imagine that will start to sort out next week.

{I probably wasn't clear. Our kids are home indefinitely. But they are old enough, the only thing I am doing is trying to make sure they have enough food. That's the extent of the brain power I have given to that. MM is practically an adult at this point and they will both do what they need to do if school moves online or whatever happens. They usually eat so much that they pack lunch AND buy. I saw someone defensive saying online people are buying more food to feed their kids at home, and that certainly is adding to the food buying. We bought a *lot* of food this week, for that reason}.

So, will see how work shakes out next week and if we all get sent home. I'd embrace a break after the last few years I've had (my work stars have been aligned to "crazy" for a very long time) but I don't see it in the short-run. Even if we halted all construction, my workload is just infinite at this point. It may slow down or get a little quiet, but at this point I don't foresee any time off whatsoever, for myself. Most everyone else in my office will be impacted by school closures, they all have much younger kids. They are all dual-income or single moms. My kids will be available to help with babysitting if need be. Is an idea that has been thrown around. I just don't know if their schools will end up online, we are supposed to get an update today. DD(14) goes to a very small school that wants to keep things going online. MM(16) attends a very large school and I don't think they will even bother trying online. Their schools are both polar opposite extremes when it comes to size. Will see.

Back to St. Patty's day Dinner... We are soaking the corned beef in beer in the crockpot all day. Yum!

Edited to add: I was right by the gym so I drove by out of curiosity, expecting it to be empty. It was crowded this morning. Target and grocery store were both fairly empty (of people). No one wants to wake up early on a weekend, even during a panic. Except to work out?

Quick Check In

March 14th, 2020 at 08:42 pm

Meh. This past week or so just feels like an extension of the past 2 years or so. I might have mentioned that my life is just chaos any more. The curve might veer off into some extra insanity or apocalypse, but to this point it's just kind of life as I know it (lots of chaos). I'm just along for the ride.

Pretty much everything has been canceled or closed here, as of mid-week.

We did lock in a 2.5% mortgage (refi).

MH will most likely be laid off through summer or significantly reduced work hours, because his work is with the schools. This is a *shrugs* to us financially because we don't rely on his income at all. (Nothing has been said, but seems pretty obvious).

This reminds me, MM(16) had applied for a summer job at the water park. They are moving forward as planned, but I can see that could fall through for him.

For about a week there has been panic shopping in our region. Living my whole life in regions without "weather", I don't know that it's anything I've ever seen before. Maybe 9/11? But we didn't cook back then and weren't trying to keep teen boys fed. So I don't remember at all. I suppose that was also before social media. I've not been going into any stores, but everyone keeps sharing pictures.

{Edited to add: "Panic Shopping" is the term I used to describe hoarding. & empty shelves. Things have been calm and civilized. But we also wouldn't go into stores like Target or Costco, which are totally insane right now. We generally stay away from the herd and have been able to continue to do so.}

There's been many other things going on, but too exhausted and probably forgot most of it anyway. I still can't keep track still of who is sick or on the hospital. It continues to be a lot.

I told MH I was *not* watching any movies today, with all of our plans canceled. If we end up hunkering down at home more, will be plenty of time to get caught up on movies. Still working through the Top 100.

This & That

March 7th, 2020 at 02:32 pm

Same old, same old here.

My Dad was diagnosed with cancer. The survival rate of this cancer is 97%. Along those lines, they are doing nothing to treat this cancer (for the moment). It's just such an ugly and scary word. Honestly, 90% of why I am writing this down is so that I remember. I will never otherwise remember in this sea of terrible/worse news.

Other things going on...

I booked a very cute hotel in "Little Denmark" in Southern California. We are going to mostly redo the trip I missed in the fall. The purpose of this trip, during spring break, is to visit the small private college than MM(16) is very interested in. This college tour is more for the adults, since he has already been. I wasn't exactly planning to redo the trip I missed (I ended up being too sick to go). But as we get into the details we are using the in-law timeshare first two nights (2-night minimum) and we have to keep it to 3 nights if we don't want to board our cat. So we are just booking the same trip. Otherwise I might have added a night and stayed in Pismo Beach the last night. But we both have work and need to get back anyway.

We always stay at the same property in LA. It's a few blocks from Disney. MH mentioned the place cost "pennies" as far as timeshare points. Didn't think much about that until I typed it out just now. It certainly adds a convenience factor if we have a free home base that we can use frequently near this college.

Back to heavier things, we are also planning to relive our honeymoon for our 20th Anniversary in the fall. Going to Florida and spend some time with MH's Grandfather. He is slowing down considerably and so that is why we decided to kill two birds with one stone. & so it will be some parts fun and some parts heavy.

Florida, will figure out later. MH also wants to go to a film festival in Austin in the fall. I am writing this down for the, "I will never remember this" category.

{Edited to add: I started this post a few days ago. We may start locking in super cheap airfare during this panic}.

We are so spoiled by the weather right now. It's probably a very early spring. But usually spring is a season I don't really get to experience. After working in tax for 20-ish years. Last year I was working two jobs through May, so I most definitely did not experience Spring 2019. This may be the only thing lifting my mood right now. It was 80F degrees the last few days.

Of course, the down side to the weather is we haven't had any winter slowdown whatsoever and work is crazed. Because, of course... *sigh*

I still have a ways to go, but I suppose I feel more "caught up" and in some realm of normal. I've got quite a few little things that if I could just knock out this weekend I would feel pretty good. I need to wrap up some side work (major procrastinating), mail our state tax return (saves me $20 versus e-file), freecycle a couple of more items, etc. I am going to try very hard to get through most of this list Friday so that I can enjoy my weekend.

{I failed because Friday was totally and completely insane.}

There was a coronavirus death a couple of blocks from my office. There was no one on the roads the next day. ??? I called MH and said, "Is it Saturday?" He said no. I said, "Must be Coronavirus, I don't know." Yup, Bingo. I am glad the people in my office seem to be sane. Yes, of course you should stay home if you are ill or immunocompromised, but the freeways that day were a sign of extreme panic.

Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy...

March 6th, 2020 at 03:52 pm

& Be Greedy when others are fearful.

That pretty much sums it up right now.

**15-year mortgage at 2.25%

**London non-stop flights $350 (round trip) from San Francisco

I'll run the mortgage #s this weekend, but seems a no-brainer at this point. Even with our only 5-ish years timeline in our current home. Heck, if we were further along on the college process I'd maybe even cash out some. (I am not participating in scammy student loans. Borrowing close to 2% for college without all the "student loan" red tape is another story). But it's too early, it's still very likely MM(16) will pick a college that costs pennies.

We are probably going to lock in some airfare this weekend (planned trips to Austin and Orlando). We may also consider some unplanned trips.