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Archive for June, 2023

Chaos & a Baby Turkey

June 28th, 2023 at 01:38 pm

I have been thinking the last few weeks that I haven't seen any turkeys lately.  I presume that everything is thrown off by the weird weather.  Last year there were three teenager turkeys hanging out during hot summer months.  But it hasn't been hot yet, and maybe they are waiting for things to warm up.  Then this week, there was a baby hanging out by my window at work.  I don't know if it's good or bad.  I've not seen the babies this close before.  They usually keep a longer distance.

I feel like a yo yo.

MH was supposed to be done with work on Friday, but then they asked him to stay another week (last minute).  (He has summers off).

MM(19) has jury duty.  He's supposed to check back this afternoon.  So he has no idea how his schedule will be every day.  He'd like to take a train to LA tomorrow, if he gets out of jury duty.  So I may or may not be dropping him off at the station before dawn tomorrow.

DL(17) had a rough first week at his job.  He lasted 3 nights but then got sent home.  His ear piercing from 5 months ago, randomly became infected.  & in addition to that, his knee was really bothering him.  I expected the knee thing was a "moving from sedentary 9-5 school jobs" to moving to "being on your feet 10+ hours a day" thing.  & he is very in shape, and he's young, but that's still a big adjustment.  & maybe the altitude doesn't help.  He's fine now.  But it was just a lot of drama.  MH drove 200 miles roundtrip to pick him up on a Wendesday night.  Took him to the ER Thursday, and then drove the 200 miles again Thursday night to take him back.  Phew!  I wasn't sure if he would go back.  They basically had to just yank his earring out through the back of his ear, which was terrible.  But everyone has been telling him they have had the same thing happen.  & then I think he was having an allergic reaction to the antiobiotics (or at least was being overly sensitive to that).  So we told him to just stop using that, and he's been totally fine since.  In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal.  But it's rough when your kid is 100 miles away *and* in the middle of nowhere.  & keeps texting you constantly how you don't know if your knee will hold up, or your ear is getting re-infected, etc., etc.

DL(17) technically had Friday off but we didn't have the capacity to drive him back Friday.

So that was Wednesday and Thursday night.  Saturday we drove 600 miles round trip, picking up MM(19).  Thankfully, that trip was smooth as possibly could be.  My expectations were low because the earliest we could reasonably get there was noon.  But we ended up getting in and out between the morning and afternoon crowds.  We barely saw another soul on campus.  ???  No idea how we managed that.   We just picked up MM(19)'s stuff.  He got a ride back with his girlfriend. 

We all got home late Saturday night and then turned around and headed to camp the next morning.  DL(17) was doing great while we were there.  His shifts are 7am to 8pm?  With a few hours of breaks in between meals, he's probably working 10 hours most days.  Sometimes longer.  He is severely underpaid.  I remembered when we were there that he will get tips, but didn't expect them to amount to much (after being split by 30? people).  But he came home with $40 the first week.  He was told that our group was very generous and not to expect so much in the future.  It won't be much, but it is something.

I think this was a good decision for him.  At least, until he turns 18.  He will be able to make a bajillion dollars in tips, in addition to $16+ per hour, when he comes back with the kitchen experience and no longer has to deal with work permits and high school red tape.  He will have the work experience, in addition to it probably being a lot easier to find a job when he is 18.  Even at this job, they are willing to let him help more in the kitchen when he turns 18 in a couple of weeks.  I was very skeptical, but it seems to be working out for him.  

When we were there, DL(17) insisted he would *never* need to come home.  Then Friday he texted MH asking him to pick him up.  He had most of Saturday and all of Sunday off.  Like I said, I feel like a yo yo.  Who knows if he will come home this weekend, for his one night off.  Every other weekend he gets the longer break.  

Of course, when MM(19) got home, he told us all his plans and how he would not be home any weekends this summer?  I guess his schedule has filled quickly.  Including a very last minute LA trip.  So we got home from camp Wednesday and he took off Thursday for a road trip.  He ended up having car trouble on the trip back (not his car) and so got delayed by a day.  They at least allowed enough time that he had all Sunday to figure it out.  You know, in case he had to show up for jury duty Monday.  

MM(19) had agreed to drive DL(17) back to work on Monday morning.  That didn't seem likely, so MH was gearing up to take DL back Sunday night.

Thankfully, MM(19) made it back.  MH had picked up DL on Saturday, so it was nice to have some help with the drive.  On the flip side, MM driving = $$$$$$$$$$.  I did some quick math and I thought I owed him $40 for gas.  But for whatever reason I was thinking gas was $1 more per gallon (maybe it was, the last time I bought gas).  I redid the math and we decided $30 was probably fair.  That's still 8x what we are paying for electric fuel.  (In addition to a lot more wear and tear on the gas car brakes, with the mountain driving).  The help was nice during some crazy weeks, but longer term I can't afford to send a gas car on these trips.  For this time, I am due a (rare) work mileage reimbursement.  I don't remember how much it is, but I think it will be at least $30.  So that will at least be a wash.

*If* jury duty works out for MM(19), if he gets excused today.  He wants to go to LA for a few days.  So we can try again for this "quiet few days at home" (without kids) but won't be holding my breath. 

MM(19) does want to find a summer job, but I don't think he is being realistic.  He got back later than most college students (on the semester system).  Plus delaying 2 weeks for vacations and out-of-town obligations, jury duty, etc.  I doubt anyone will hire him for just week days.  Will see if he can come up with anything.  On the flip side, he doesn't really need the money, and so he's being pretty *shrugs* about our skepticism.  Kind of whatever, if he doesn't find a job.  The job market is pretty tight right now (it was tight before summer) and other parents are saying no one will hire college students who go to school out of town, if they are honest about their situation.  On the flip side, DL(17) will be hitting the job market again (end of august) when everyone goes back to school.  So I think his odds are better.

May '23 Savings

June 24th, 2023 at 03:35 pm

Received $111 bank interest 

Received $308 I Bond interest 


Snowflakes to Investments:

--Redeemed $23 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card 

--Redeemed $150 cash back on Citi card

--Redeemed $12 cash back on dining out/gas card (used for groceries this month)


Other Snowflakes to Investments:

+ $11 Savings from Target Red Card (grocery purchases)


TOTAL: $196 Snowflakes to Investments


401k Contributions/Match:



Snowball to Savings/Investments:

+$1,550 MH Income


Savings (from my paycheck):

+$  450 to investments

+$1,000 to cash (mid-term savings)


Pulled from mid-term savings:

-$2,935 Ortho Final Payment

-$   900  Rental Deposit for MM(19) junior year

-$   310  New Phone for DL(17)

-$   425  Ethernet wiring for Gigabit fiber

-$     60  Medical Expenses


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

+$1,500 to cash

-$  760 LA Trip

-$  115 Staycation

-$  605 Concerts

-$    85 Gifts 

-$    78 Pest Control

-$    76 College Orientation

-$    60 Flat Tire 


TOTAL: -$282 Net Pulled from Cash/Investments


Pulled from Gifted College Funds:

-$1,000 For Summer Class


Hybrid Miles Driven:  892

Fuel Costs: $30 Electricity 

(assumed 50 miles & 14 KwH per full charge)


Electric (EV) Miles Driven: 473

Fuel Costs: $11 (home) 

(assumed 300 miles & 60 KwH per full charge)

Most charging (both cars) was done at home or at free chargers.

We did 50 miles of free charging this month.  (Free charge downtown)

Ouch!  Our summer electric rates went up significantly.  


Note:  I am always lagging a month behind because any bills charged in April will be paid off May 1 and reflected in my May numbers.  I charge in one month and the next month I figure out how to pay for everything (if I need to pull anything from savings).  So this update reflects April spending & May savings.

Credit card rewards were wonky this month.  MH put one grocery charge on the dining card.  & of course it was a big one ($200).  So the grocery rewards were way down and the "dining" rewards went way up.  & a *lot* of rewards (on main credit card) with all the spending.  Both charged and paid for the invisalign, so that was a lot of the rewards.

Apparently it's going to be a year of tires. I had one very flat tire.  I was able to pick up a new (used) tire and be on my way quickly.  I presume I hit something because there was a very small gash in my tire.  "Gash" is a strong word, but it was more of a line than a small hole (the slow leaks I usually get from hitting nails). 

We did also buy a *lot* of concert tickets.  Two big concerts we are looking forward to.  Bought a round of tickets for MM's end-of-year school concerts.  & then MH got some less expensive tickets for a concert in San Francisco this summer.

Gifts were for all the CA e-files I paid for, for relatives.  Put us over our budget, so I just considered it a gift and had to pull from short-term savings.  Also bought DL(17) some balloons for his last big high school concert.  It's the kind of thing we generally don't do, and so he was *really* surprised!  I was actually on my way to get the balloons when I got the flat tire.  Just turned out I had some guardian angels that day and ended up at a tire shop in another part of town that happened to have a Party store.  (I mean seriously, when I try to do fun things, this is what happens!  I was shocked I was able to get the balloons after all that).  I waited longer for helium than I did for the tire.  It was DL's lucky day, I guess.  

DL(17) dropped his cell phone and broke it.  I believe this is the first time this has ever happened in our household. (I don't recall any of us dropping/breaking a phone before.)  He's still a minor and he (didn't) have a job when it broke, and so we just bought him a new phone.  We paid $500 up front for the newest? Pixel model, but it was only $310 after trading in the old phone.  I already got the credit. 

Our vacation fund is exhausted, with the LA trip.  It ended up being one year earlier than we expected.  MH bought some show tickets through a crowdfunding campaign.  They had labeled it as a Spring 2024? concert but it ended up being "next month".  🙄  We were able to roll with it, but this is really not helping my "We just react to everything" feelings.  It's not going to be a year where we sit down and make conscious plans about what we would want to do.  I did throw some of the concert tickets to the vacation budget.  It's a Bay Area concert and will make a staycation out of that.  I didn't want to drive home at 1am afterwards, like we did the last time we went to a concert at that venue.  So was putting the one concert more in the staycation/vacation category in my mind.  It's just a one year "caught off guard" budget fail and will plan accordingly in the future.  But just one more thing that will probably draw from our savings this year.

I completely abandon investing any of MH's paycheck.  Too many big expenses already this year, and too many big expenses to plan for.  I'd say that I can revisit once financial aid sorts out.  I think the biggie is that I had planned to use I Bonds for MM's rent next school year.  But our I Bond rate will be 7% through 2023.  This means I will cash flow rent with MH's income and then reimburse ourselves when the bond rate drops down below 4% (in January)?  I may throw a chunk to investments at that time.  To be revisited because financial aid should sort out this summer.  There's still a possibility that rent costs will be less than we planned for.  Not holding my breath, but it is possible. 

I kept asking MM(19) how to reimburse his roommate for half of the rental deposit.  I had mentioned he could just get a cashier's check at our Credit Union.  & maybe that came up because it would have to be a cashier's check if paid directly to the rental company.  But anyway, I guess he just took care of it.  Brought it up in passing some weeks later.  He said he did a cashier's check but they did not charge him a fee.  I wonder if they just printed a regular check for him, which probably makes more sense.  MM(19) also signed up for a summer class at the college.  He initially told me it would be a community college class.  Which might have cost 1/3 as much?  But he needed the credit for his fall schedule or winter quarter and so decided to go the easier route and just take at his college.  Which I fully support.  I expected it to be ~$1,000, which ended up being exactly what it was.  (If it's $3,400 for 12 units, I expected roughly 1/3 the cost for 4 units).  It will just be an online class that he can work around his summer job.  I pulled the $1K from his gifted college fund.  

We got a flier about upgrading our internet to 1 Gig fiber.  We have had fiber "forever".  Most we know do not have access to fiber.  So I asked MH if there was a reason we didn't have this other company.  He had never heard of them and so called.  It's just another brand under the umbrella of our current company.  So no, there still isn't any real competition out there.  Ideally the upgrade would save us money, but MH did not realize we would have to upgrade our wiring.  & even after that, a lot of our devices top out at 100 mbps.  But it's future proofing that needs to be done eventually.  While fixing everything (all the issues the Gig fiber caused), we decided to also run a line to our bedroom.  I wouldn't thought of it, but MH was thinking aloud and asking if I needed faster internet for work.  I said no but that the TV can be slow.  Not often, but every once in a while.  We haven't even run the wire to the TV (they put the outlet by my computer, where it was convenient to put the outlet).  Because then he realized the roku tops out at 100 mbps.  *sigh*   The whole thing has been such a mess, but we will be happy with all this at some point in the future.

Just one more thing to add to a very expensive year.

We also replaced our back fence which went about as well as the fiber upgrade.  On the plus side, got a really good deal through work and they never billed me.  HA!  So that was planned for this month. I was going to write the check May 1 but now I am just kicking the can down the road to June.   

Edited to add:  Just when through June numbers and it may be a +$2,500 month.  Phew!  It's a little easier without $3,000 ortho bills.  Still, I was surprised because we had some big expenses.  

Strange Weather & Film Event

June 14th, 2023 at 02:48 pm

What a week!  

Sunday we dropped off DL(17) at his camp job.  It's been 3 nights?  He's hanging in, for now.   

Looking at the rain forecast, I remembered just one more thing about 2013.  That was the year we were entirely rained out at camp!  It didn't stop raining the entire time.  Ugh.  I just looked at the forecast and it's all rainbows and sunshine.  Will see...  It was raining when we dropped DL(17) off and this week was initially forecasted to be more cold and stormy.  Was just thinking about it because the weather is so unusual.  & then I thought, "Was 2013 that crazy year?"  Yes, my blog confirmed it.  The weather has been so unusual this year, and triggered that memory. 

Those sunsets though!  We have the most spectacular winter sunsets, but I don't have any big memory of summer sunsets (which may just be past my bedtime).  We went for a walk Monday and it was the most spectacular sunset.  MH and I just stopped and watched in awe.  I said, "Where is everybody!?"  We eventually came across a motorcyclist who pulled over just to watch.  I did not take any pictures that day.  Then last night we were in another city and they sky was stunning again.  Picture above.

Last night was MH's movie event.  O.M.G.  It was so good!  So the deal was that some organization he belongs to runs this contest.  The first part is a script contest.  They pick one winning script (MH won) and then the second party of the contest is filming the script and making a short film.  How many ways can you interpret one script?  MH was pretty "meh" about it because the script was so vague/short/dumb.  He's just kind of whatever, he followed instructions better than everyone else.  & I mean, the movie he did end up filming a couple of years ago, he did whip out that script in probably just a few hours.  This was a much more difficult assignment, that took a lot of thought.  It's just the words, that have to be used in order.  But the lines can be divided any way among the actors.

In the end, there were 8 interpretations and a some of them appeared to have six figure budgets.  What the heck!?  (I am so curious how much people spent on these things.  I know MH can knock out a movie like that for $2K if it's all volunteers.  But everything else MH is working on is generally $50K minimum budget for a movie short.)  There was an artsy film (for lack of a better description), a film noir version, a dark robbery/murder/suicide, a crow invasion, a light circus-y version, A diamond heist, a comedy sitcom version, and the winner was the Sherlock Holmes version.  They were all so good!!   They had several prizes.   The whole thing sounded fun, but far exceeded our expectations.  I mean seriously, imagine what these actors and film makers can do with scripts that aren't just complete nonsense.  So much talent.

Well, that's enough fun for one week.  I really need to dive into work these next two days (tax deadlines) and then we have the chore of picking up MM(19) from college.  Would be less of a chore if we could do earlier in the week.  But we will be there during peak move-out & graduation time.  I do not look forward to it.  & after that, it will just be digging out of this mess at work.  

This & That

June 14th, 2023 at 02:13 pm

No idea where to begin...

I don't care much for these "3" years.  2013 was a completely absurd year.  2023 isn't *that* crazy yet.  But it's going to be an expensive year, that is for sure.  

I noticed that MH only drove 500 miles in May.  It was a quiet "not much planned" month, but we were fixing a lot of things on the home front.  I had a very flat tire and DL's car wouldn't start.  (Lucky that we didn't have to call AAA twice last month).  

I expected June to be busy, but the *busy* started end of May.  Two weeks ago?  MH got (free) tickets for a documentary and concert.  That was great and I'd tell you more about it if I had time.  That same week was DL(17)'s last high school concert.  That was the week that we had to deal with the kids' car not starting.  

In June, MH has a big movie night (it's been postponed a few times but I think the date is set now).  Had a big work event Friday. DL(17) just wrapped up high school Friday.  Woohoo!  Picking up MM(19) from college in another week (finals next week) and then our annual camping trip.  Most of that is compacted into this week.  Will have 'an empty' nest for 4.5 days.  But then will spend 1.5 days picking up MM(19) from the college.  We don't have time to make a more leisurely trip of it.  

Having 3 cars is exhausting.  Was just going through a pile of paperwork.  It was all car insurance and car repair bills, etc.   DMV renewals. The kids' car just needed a new starter.  But our mechanic was booked up and referred us to a much more expensive shop.  

That reminds me.  DL(17) had literally just paid the (new driver $$$$$$) auto insurance and DMV renewal.  This left him with about $1,100 cash.   I was telling him, "Cars are expensive."  Then the car repair came in at $1,000.  Closer to $1,100 because we just had them do the oil change while they had the car.  Because he's not 18 and he doesn't have much a job at this point, we will just pay for this car repair.  & of course, it's more complicated than that.  MM(19) is still using the car, etc.  

My first instinct was to give DL(17) our grocery savings this summer, while he is being paid in room and board.  But I mentioned this to MH (after the big car repair) and he wants DL to work off the car repair with the free meals.  Fair enough.  & we decided to bill MM(19) for the expensive oil change.  He has a free car to use otherwise.  Gives him a way to contribute towards use of the car, while giving DL(17) a small break on car expenses.

We haven't spent much on graduation.  DL is mostly *over it* and didn't go to too many events.  He only had 100 kids in his high school class, which is a lot of it.  I didn't anticipate how miserable that would make him.  (My own high school experience was the polar opposite.  More of a college experience, with 1,000 kids in my class).  

The one thing I am very happy with is that I got some great "Grad" photos from my Dad.  Like everything else, had to postpone a few times but finally got that settled. The pictures came out great.  

I did order some graduation announcements with the new pictures.  I just bought a handful, mostly for grandparents.

DL(17) did request a big dinner out on his graduation night.  We were off the hook because grandparents paid for that.  I think they chose to spend more on that but had given MM(19) a big pile of cash instead, for his pandemic graduation.  At the end of the day, I can tell you the dinner (and time with grandparents) meant more to DL than the pile of cash.  Even though I was expecting he might get more of a cash boost (and could have used it).  (Presuming he got graduation gifts that were comparable to MM's, which he did not).

Our garage door opener still is not working in the direct sunlight.  We thought we had fixed it (per advice of a repairman) but we didn't get around to it until end of summer last year.  It worked fine for many months and now it is being finicky again.  Now that we are back to more sunlight. Our only other option is to replace it.  So that is a bummer. I was relieved it actually worked for me yesterday.  I was running a little late (for an event) and I was sure that was going to slow me down.  But I ended up with luck on my side.  Most of the time I never notice it (because I generally leave earlier and come back later).  But I noticed it twice last week and told MH that I was already over it.  He seems to be a lot more patient about it.  We obviously aren't going to get around to this in the next few weeks, but might revisit in July.  

I'm expecting a lot of other big expenses this year, still.  Off the top of my head...  Still need to replace the tires on my car.  (I don't think this is related to my flat tire.  My tire hit something on the road.  I was already being on the more cautious side, planning to change out my tires this year.)  Expecting medical expenses.  The garage door opener.  I don't remember what else but I am sure there is more.  Will have to cash flow MM's first month of rent, but I have the rest of the year saved for.  

DL(17) had a last minute training thrown at him Saturday, so the poor kid had no time off between school and his summer job. But thankfully they gave him most of Sunday off.  That gave him a little more time.  Saturday he worked all day and spent the evening packing.  MH and I ran to the store on Sunday.  If nothing else, he needed sunblock and bug spray.  & we got him a flashlight.  

I might work on a round of decluttering.  I was looking for a rain jacket for DL(17) because the weather is so weird in general this year, and will be stormy in the mountains all week.  I did find one.  It was the rain jacket that MM(19) bought for his big river rafting trip some years ago.  I also found a few outgrown jackets on the coat rack.  Forgotten, because the kids mostly refused to wear them ever.  I also lucked out and found a pair of sheets in a closet, that DL can use at camp.  But there's some kids' sheets in there.  Will wash those and throw in the donate pile.  & lord knows I need to purge some clothes.  

For whatever reason, MM still had his shower shoes with him at college.   (He's just sharing a bathroom with one person this year.)  I was hoping I could dig those out of his room.  But I can bring those up to DL(17) in a week.  & I ordered him a laundry bag that probably won't be here in time.  MH just thought of it Saturday.  (I hadn't given it any thought before Saturday, this packing and prepping.  But the stakes are pretty low because we will be back there again, soon.)  I told DL(17) to just use a trash bag for his bedding.  Will switch it out when we get the laundry bag.   

Edited to add:  We dropped off DL(17) at his summer job.  With all the extra rain and snow this year, the view was breathtaking.  But the mud was pretty bad.  I hosed off the car the second we got home.  Will probably be going through this again a few times (lots of mud), before it warms up and things dry up.  For reference, it was 30 degrees cooler at camp (in the mountains).  DL(17) is spending the summer near Tahoe.  He gets the better paradise but also is significantly more roughing it, than his brother is in his So Cal paradise.  First impressions were good (for DL).  Will see how he feels after a few nights sharing a small dorm/cabin with 11 people.  🤞🏼

I'd say that's a small glimpse of my life lately.