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Oct 18

October 20th, 2021 at 02:34 pm

October 18

$11 Lunch

$80 Groceries

Dinner:  Leftovers


I have to preface this post with the fact that MH is a, "Hell would freeze over before I eat out" personality.  Most especially when it comes to lunch at work.

Anyway, this is what I come home to today:  A bag of chips in a brown paper bag.  MH is asleep.  I don't think he did the grocery run he had planned today (a small one).  I look on the dining card and there's a $11 charge at a Taqueria.  My presumption at this point is that he worked a *long* day, didn't make it to the store.  He was called back to work 5 hour days; has mostly been working 6 hour days.  I guess he worked longer today.

This is what I am presuming with the clues I am left with.  

{MH just woke up and confirmed my conclusion.  He just went to the grocery store.}

Groceries ended up being $80.  This is an expense to feed people on the movie set this week. Will just absorb in our grocery budget. 

So the rain yesterday broke a record 7-month dry spell? The sky was amazing today (it's bee a while since I've seen clouds?).  You can see from this picture the day had a fall vibe to it.  The red tree and the sky was just so pretty. 

Oct 16 & 17

October 20th, 2021 at 02:27 pm

October 16

$97 Groceries

$1 Movie Prop

Dinner:  Cheeseburger Pasta


MH picked up a prop at a thrift shop today.  $1 for a "creepy doll".   Might pick up a couple of other options.  The original prop was lost to the big/recent fire. 


October 17

$65 Allowance MH

$40 School Pictures

$12 Home Depot

Dinner:  Potato Soup


Spendy day.

MH purchased a weighted blanket.  He went "cheap" for proof of concept.  He might want to get a nicer one if it works for him.  He sleeps terribly and I am sure is a good investment for either him or DL(16).   I probably won't put it in the "allowance" category with my bookkeeping, but is the best way to describe it at this point.

MH did go out to lunch, met with another film backer.  In this case they wanted to make it this whole expensive double date restaurant thing.  I resisted when MH brought up a while ago.  When he mentioned again last night, I said nope.  No way.  I probably would have sucked it up if he gave me more notice.  Anyway, I don't see this charge anywhere.  Did MH have some cash or pay with venmo??  Will ask him later. 

Edited to add:  He paid cash.  He told me he had "too much cash" in his wallet.  I have no idea from where.  I told him to give it to me to deposit next time.  Yeesh.  But for today, it's a budget cheat.  I don't have to figure out how to pay for it, so whatever.  Now that I type this out, it explains better how he spent $20 on those last couple of dinners.  Probably was paying the tab and getting reimbursed cash.  (Probably anything more than $0 is "too much cash", for reference.)

On the way home MH picked up a pack of light bulbs.  One of the kitchen lights went out a few days ago.

Some strange wet stuff started falling from the sky.  MH is *freaking out* because is supposed to get this movie finished this week.  After all the COVID/fire delays.  Rain wasn't on our radar whatsoever.  Unfortunately, during the last few apocalyptic fire seasons, the rain has been very "too little too late."  So we might cancel due to rain this week and it could still be the fire apocalypse the next week.

The in-laws drove down to see MM(18) this weekend, and brought him more food.

Oh yeah, I didn't clarify when I mentioned that he is sick.  There are virtually no COVID cases on his college campus.  He is vaccinated and he hadn't been exposed, so he wasn't required to test.  But he did take a test on Thursday out of curiosity (it was easier to get a test when he felt better and wasn't blocked from going everywhere on campus).  I presumed it was negative because he did meet with his grandparents.  He confirmed today.  Everything else is going around.  The dorm plague, as they call it.  

Oct 14 & 15

October 18th, 2021 at 12:33 am

October 14

$70 Target (Groceries)

$20 MH Allowance Spending

$0 Movies

Dinner:  Leftovers


I guess my boss didn't realize I was working yesterday and is out of town Thursday through Friday.  Makes for a *very* quiet week.  👍  

MH is off seeing a "free" movie with his unlimited pass.  & he went to Target after work today.  Not sure what all he got, but probably just groceries.  We were out of cat food.

Edit:  Found the receipt later.  Dishwasher detergent, granola bars (lots on sale), cat food, soap, etc. 

& later I saw $20 spending pop up.  I will confirm with MH that it's legit, but was some sort of movie spending (which pretty much sums up all of MH's spending).  I did think, "whoa, MH is getting spendy this month."  Probably spurred by being back at work.  But I glanced at our spending for the year and we are both up to $500 of our $600 annual allowance spending.  We both seem to be on track.  I usually do little more than glance at my accounting software at the end of the year.  We have the same personal spending budget from 20+ years ago so we just subconsciously seem to be aware. 


October 15

$12 MH Allowance Spending

Dinner:  Indian Butter Chicken


Yeah, MH is definitely enjoying a little extra cash flow.  More movies.  

I couldn't remember which weeks MH gets paid (every other week), after having 18 months off.  I didn't really care enough to figure it out.  But I just had this lightbulb moment today.  I still had his paychecks set up in Quicken (it pops up every 2 weeks and I have just been clicking on "ignore").  So I peeked and payday is next week.  That's nice because I pay all the bills the first of every month.  October is done and paid for.  But he will get one October paycheck.  It won't be enough to pay for our vacation last week but it will cover most of it.  I will just send his paycheck to the credit card when it arrives, to cover vacay expenses.  

Oct 12 & 13

October 16th, 2021 at 11:54 pm

October 12

$9 Car Wash

$25 Toll Tag Refill

Dinner:  Leftovers


Today was a mixed bag.

We live in a community with a high number of retirees and self-employed.  If I want to go wait in a really long line, I do anything on a weekday.  (Sounds counter intuitive I guess, but how it has always been for me).  Today ended up being very hit and miss.  I alternated between no lines (flu shot and car wash) and excruciating waits (1 hour in a pharmacy full of sick people.  Ugh!)  The credit union (I had cash to deposit) was so crowded I just left and thought, "nevermind."  

My car badly needed a wash after 1000 miles driven in 4 days; the last trip was in the woods and on some dirt roads. 

MH is off at a concert in Oakland, with DL(16).  They found some all ages place where one of DL's favorite bands was performing.  I am trying to think of what expenses they might have.  Sounds like the parking was free.  Tickets were paid for a long time ago.

Oakland was 170 miles round trip.  That's about $4 in electric fuel.

Edited to add:  I figured there'd be a toll but it took several days to process.  I'll just put it here because it was re: the concert.  The toll was $6 but it triggered a refill on our account.  It took us 13 months to get through the last $25.


October 13


Dinner:  Chile Rellenos


MH got a free meal at work today. 

Dribs and drabs of money rained down from the sky.  I received a very small refund for MM's auto insurance.  (Kind of pitiful, if that was the "away from home" discount).  I will follow up later.  I also received $7-ish from some milk settlement.

Wednesday is my work-at-home day and DL's short day where I drive him to school.  This year he starts school at 10:30.  Work was fine.  I felt like everyone was giving me space and probably figured I was more busy than I was (after a week off).  It's always crazy busy, but I don't get a lot of emails in general.  Will see how tomorrow goes.  

MH drove about 40 miles east to work on his movie.  They were doing some voice over?  I don't know.  MH told me at some point (last week) this week would be crazy busy.  Indeed. 

Oct 10 & 11

October 16th, 2021 at 11:21 pm

October 10


Dinner:  Greek Chicken Penne


Another No Spend Day.

Things that would have been nice 10-20 years ago:  MH's cousin just made the lower-cost move to our locale.  This was always their plan, to move here when their eldest started high school.  So it wasn't pandemic or recently motivated.  But the pandemic probably made it an easier transition.  They both have kept their mega high paying Bay Area jobs, for now.  

They moved here a couple of months ago but are just finishing up their move and getting more settled.  So we went over last weekend to see their new home.  They have chickens, so we scored some fresh eggs.


October 11

$9 Groceries

$10 Donation

Dinner:  Burritos


MM(18) was radio silent over the weekend and then late Sunday told us he was sick.  I have been pretty zen about him going off to college, but *this* I am not zen about.  😔  That said, I instantly felt better because he told me his high school friend (one of his best friends) was bringing him hot tea.  She brought him meals a couple of times and he is clearly being well cared for.  Phew!  That makes it so much easier.  

I did recall that the local synagogue delivers free soup to sick college students (other parents have brought up in the parent group).  I made those arrangements on Monday.  Isn't that the nicest thing?!  I left a donation.  

I've got two days off of work.  Which is helpful, and gives me some extra time to make arrangements if he does need anything.  (I took a whole week off, but straddled weeks because DL was home last week and we both wanted some quiet time).

I was envisioning some more leisurely time off but then everything got crazy last week.  I was going to run some errands today but it was crazy windy here.  To the point I didn't want to risk damage to my car.  Decided to keep it mostly inside today.  But MH went back to work and asked me to take DL(16) to school and make dinner.  So that is how my quiet day is going.  I decided to put off some other errands until Wednesday when I am working from home (and driving DL to school).  I was able to get an appointment tomorrow to get my new glasses adjusted.  I will get my flu shot while I am there.  & if I remember, I also have a store return to do in that area.  It will be nice to kill all those birds with one stone.

Hell has frozen over and I have the house entirely to myself.  It may be the first time in 18 months!  

I did stop by the grocery store on the way home (from dropping DL off at school).  I told MH I'd rather just make burritos (an old family recipe).  MH told me we had everything on hand for that.  But later figured out that we needed tomato sauce.  I picked up some almonds for $5 (I am not sure MH knows those are on crazy sale on Mondays.  We already had two bags, but it was 50% off!)  Sunflower seeds were 60% off so I picked up some of those.  Got a few cans of tomato sauce, some sourdough bread, snacks, and some flowers.  Spent $9.  Yup, I used up the quarterly grocery store bonus/reward of $19.  That was a nice surprise!

MH asked me to cook dinner because he had a focus group.  It was $65 for about 1 hour.  Definitely a good money day.

This was the first time MH has been back to work since May 2020.  He said it was definitely a smaller crew but it was busy.  I am still not holding my breath.  Not expecting great hours or consistent work until things get more "normal". 

It ended up being a very good day.  I just needed some leisure and quiet.  I was skeptical early on how "leisurely" it would be, but a quiet house and an extra 8 hours goes a long way. 

Oct 9

October 12th, 2021 at 04:13 am

October 9


Dinner:  Burrito Bowls (chicken, black beans & rice)


First No Spend Day (NSD), this month.

We drove up to camp and spent the day cleaning cabins.  It was good to go up there, it wasn't quite the hellscape we imagined.  & at work everyone was telling me (based on their own personal fire experiences), "Will never get the smoke smell out!"  

The camp itself (all of the buildings) were spared but the sewer lines and water lines were damaged.  I guess it sounds like maybe they got that fixed (had to get fixed before winter).  They had one bathroom up and running.  Ash had blown into all of the buildings and there was smoke damage.

We volunteered to help all day.  It was not bad at all.  Just more of a thin film of ash on everything. I personally did not smell smoke.  After we had cleaned out one of the cabins and locked it up, MH went back at some point to get something.  He said it was already starting to smell smokey inside that cabin, after locking it up for maybe an hour.  But we got the sense that it will at least air out quickly. 

The region in general did smell very smokey.  On the road, we smelled a lot of smoke.  I don't know how long that will last.  It's just the lingering smell of smoke.

Holy cow, it was *cold*.  I did check the weather and we wore appropriate clothing.  Phew!  They told us when we got up there that it had snowed the day before.  The water was not useable until around noon (pipes were frozen). They are just rushing to get everything cleaned up before it gets colder.

We left camp feeling like it's feasible it will be open next summer.  Open and a pleasant experience.  

Oct 8

October 12th, 2021 at 04:09 am

October 8

$24 Dinner Out (MH)

$15 MH Allowance Spending

$12 Groceries

$21 Gas

$0 Electric Fuel

Dinner:  Sausage Sandwiches


MH had another dinner out.  I was confusing people (that I've never met).  He's meeting up with his crowd funding backers and distributing swag.  If the contribute X dollars they get a movie poster, stuff like that.

So this guy wants to hear all about how the movie is going.  MH tells him his crowd funding didn't go as well as he had hoped, but he is terrible at asking for money.  Mentions he may spend $1,000 of his own money.  This guy offers to pay for it.  !!!  Which of course just weirded MH out.  No way he is going to ask for that kind of money from anyone, much less someone he barely knows.  As he tells me this I am just, "Wait, is this the young retired guy?"  Nope, some other young guy who apparently has money to burn.

MH met this guy at a pub.  He was planning to get there early (between appointments) and had some time to kill.  So how happy was he to pull up into the parking lot to find free chargers!  I think he got about 75 miles of free charge.  

Earlier in the day, MH told me that we were dumb and that we needed gas for this weekend.  We had plans but I thought we were taking the electric car.  He also asked me what I wanted to make for dinner, since he was busy.  He ran out to get gas and groceries.

We recently rediscovered sausage sandwiches.  I used to make these all the time and then just lost track of this meal, I guess.  The kids *love* it.  We already had some sausage in the freezer but MH went to pick up some bread rolls and some other random groceries.

Oct 7

October 12th, 2021 at 03:58 am

October 7

$247 Hotel

$43 Lunch & Gelato

$11 Gas

$10 Electricity (Fuel)

Dinner:  Out


This is all vacation spending.  I am coming up with a grand total of about $450.  We had $9 left in our vacation budget for this year.  I was planning originally to just take DL(16) on this trip and to use MH's income to cover this.  It sounds like it will probably work out.  MH should be working next week.  (We have more than ample savings if MH's job falls through again).

We've stayed at this hotel a bajillion times over the years and have never had any problems.  But in this case, they didn't have our ocean view room.  They initially told us they downgraded us to a regular room and we were mostly *shrugs* about that.  Given the increased spending with bringing a third person on the trip.  But we stood around waiting for a long time, and they found us an ocean view after all.  Of course, this all seemed to come down to "lack of staff/new employee" issues, as with everything these days.  MH got the impression they were giving us a bigger discount but as far as I can tell they just dropped $10-$20 for the trouble.  But there were a few charges/credits on the credit card so I can see maybe we didn't receive the discount they were attempting to give us.  It's been a few days and it looks like $247 is what came through.  In addition, they gave us $50-off our next visit.  Which is really more than necessary for a little bit of standing around.

Of course, we had just had this whole talk on our beach walk in the morning.  It was never my intention to go back to this hotel after move-in.  It's just that DL(16) specifically wanted to stay here and it was going to a mom/son trip.  As we walked on the beach that morning MH said we should really just stay in Solvang the next time.  I told him, "Or the hotel right by the college."  Both of which would cost about half as much.  This beachfront hotel has free public parking and a lot of surfers park here.  I was telling MH, "We could always come over here for a beach walk, charge up the car, eat at our favorite resaturant."  Saves $100 for much of the same experience.  So of course, now we are tempted by that free $50.  We *may* use it during Thanksgiving break.  We've stayed there a couple of times after Thanksgiving because it was such a good deal.  & now we have the double reason of dropping MM(18) back off at school.  We don't have any firm plans on that though.  He has so many friends he can catch a ride from and the grandparents seem really keen on picking him up and doing most of the driving.  (They also want to keep him all week but clearly that is ridiculous.)  

We were able to charge our car overnight at the hotel.  Most these electricity providers just charge $10 at a time and then refill when you use your $10.  I just see a $10 charge.  I am looking it up and we spent $12 on electric charge ($6 x 2).  That was for 100 miles of range; 50 miles in Solvang and another 50 miles at the hotel. 

{We drove 800 miles total on this trip, about 150 miles on electric and 550 miles gas}.  

We did eat lunch and dessert at our favorite Pismo Beach place.  MM(18) was too busy with classes, so we didn't see him again or have to feed him.

We drove for 3 hours towards home and then took a break for MH's movie.  DL(16) and I spent some time with GMIL and then my parents.  We ate a late dinner with the in-laws and then got home around 10pm.  This became a more rushed trip when MH joined us.  I wasn't going to board my cat for this trip and we really needed to get home to take care of the cat.  Our original plan was to keep it looser and maybe stay another night.

We did stop for gas where we always used to stop, about half way home from the Bay Area.  We stopped to fill up at a 7-11.  We maybe haven't been there for a year?  I noticed some "7-Eleven" electric chargers.  They were comparable to gas prices, but I just thought that was incredibly smart.  I would 100% just stop and charge there.   

We were just cutting it close on gas (and had used up the electricity) so I asked MH to just put in two gallons.  Is what I like to keep in the car.  Electric vehicle recall aside, I never use gas any more.  2 gallons seems to be a sweet spot where I'd otherwise just get gas once per year.  (It will burn off a little gas in more extreme weather or during maintenance mode).  To explain why we only spent $11 on gas. 

This trip ended up being interesting in that I was feeling bad I just had no mental energy whatsoever to take DL(16) on any college tours.  Probably should have because it's his fall break this week.  But. So. Exhausted. with everything college.  Anyway, it worked out pretty well.  DL(16) viscerally hated absolutely everything about MM's college and dorm.  After about 5 minutes he just wanted to leave.  MH tells me this at some point.  MH and I never did the dorm thing, we somewhat understand.  We just aren't as moody and dramatic as DL(16) is. By itself, was probably a good experience to get him thinking more realistically about college.  He wants to go away (somewhere less urban and more rainy).  I highly doubt he will be up to that at 18, but also figure it's a bridge to cross in another couple of years.  A lot will change in 2 more years.

Anyway, MH's aunt was with GMIL (when we visited) and she used to work at a community college.  She goes on some community college spiel and DL(16) is intrigued.  She's also excited about the possibility of community college becoming free.  I guess that's being discussed politically.  I am just, "Um, it's already free."  Has been free in our state for a couple of years, and before that it cost pennies.  We have always been very pro community college but I can tell from this conversation that no one has ever really explained community college to DL.  He's kind of just, "I didn't know that, I didn't know that's how it worked."  Which I guess is where we failed, as clearly no other adult (in his life) is particularly pro community college.  Anyway, while MIL is like readying his room for him (he can live with her while he goes to college!) - she's a *lot* - I expect he may change his mind a few times during these next couple of years.  But I think it was a really fruitful trip in that I think he's getting more realistic about college options (re: what will actually work for him).  & he is intrigued by the middle ground of maybe going away to college in more of a "baby step" kind of way.  Up until this point, he's only been talking about going to college out-of-state. 

So I guess we got some serendipitous college exploration out of this trip.  

Oct 6

October 10th, 2021 at 01:46 pm

October 6

$68 Dinner/Food

$31 Gas

$20 Souvenirs

$4 Parking

Dinner:  Out


This is all vacation spending.  

We spent $4 parking on the college campus.  First stop was the college/dorms.  Parents eat free at the dining hall, so we figured we'd just take advantage of that.  DL(16) wasn't hungry, just had some of our food.  The food was pretty terrible, I can see why everyone is complaining about it so much.  & it's compunded by the supply chain disruptions and lack of workers, etc. 

Then...  We tried *again* to make it to Solvang.  My friend told me about it a few years ago.  She called it "Free Disneyland."  😁  It's a little Danish town.  That said, every time we try to get there, the trip is canceled!  So I wasn't holding my breath, but the third time is the charm.  Finally made it.  

Gas ended up being cheapest in Solvang.  A note for next time.  So we pretty much filled up the tank when we got there, which should be enough to get us home. 

I spent $20 on souvenirs (very rare for us) and even DL(16) spent some of his own money on a couple of things.  

We tried some food at a couple of bakeries and then went for a walk to a park and a small hike.  Killed some time since we aren't big shoppers and weren't particularly hungry.  For dinner we went to a sausage/beer place that was very good. 

We did find a reasonable place to charge the car (the parking was all free) and so we charged up enough electricity to get back to the hotel.  It was probably equivalent to gas prices, but the electric drive is just so much better overall.

After that we checked into our hotel and went for a night walk on the beach.  Eventually we had to let go of MM(18) and take him back to school. 

Oct 5

October 8th, 2021 at 03:37 pm

October 5

$27 Lunch (2)

$25 Gas

Dinner:  Leftovers


MH generally *never* eats out.  So it's a big deal that he has been out socializing/networking a bit with his film group.  He met up with a mentor of sorts for lunch.  They went to this restaurant that is getting a lot of attention in recent weeks for best mexican food in the U.S., something like that.  I texted him at some point how lunch was.  He said, "meh."   MH spent $22 on this extravagant lunch.

I felt terrible on this day but had to push through and wrap up work, and then hit the road for our trip.  Dr. Pepper is my magic "settles the stomach" food and so between that and feeling pretty terrible, I decided to just order out.  I had this thought cross my mind that I hope it wasn't a cluster.  I generally never go into stores (except very rarely), that was long before the pandemic.  MH does most the errands and grocery shopping.  So it was interesting the two times I went into a store this summer, the cashiers were walking out (of the job) both times.  !!  So that is why I had this fleeting thought that I hoped I could pick up a decent meal at Burger King.  Nope!  I am 3-0 at this point.  I went just for the Dr. Pepper basically but they didn't have any.  I was kind of flustered and asked for a coke (no coke either) and settled for the Root beer she suggested (maybe all they had).  I usually pop my burger in the microwave for a few second when I get back to work.  Ugh, it looked half burned and so unappetizing.  It was okay but wish I hadn't looked at it closer.  Hindsight 20/20, I should have abandoned ship and just gone to Taco Bell for a Dr. Pepper.  I stopped eating there though because they keep changing their menu.  I didn't think about it until afterwards.  

DL(16) is a bit of a health freak and was excited that I stopped eating fast food during the pandemic.  I assured him my "once in a blue moon 400 calorie meal" wasn't going to make a difference in the grand scheme of things.  😉  I usually just order off the value menu.  I spent $5 with the soda.

After dinner we packed up the car and headed out.  I mentioned briefly that our electric car is under recall.  The super short version is that we will get a new battery/warranty (will take a while because replacing batteries in every single Bolt).  In the meantime we are parking outside and still using the car for 99% of our driving.  We just can not take it on long road trips.  Full charges and deep discharges increase risk of battery fire.  I expect this would not affect us at all if it wasn't for the "kid at college" thing.  But we are sticking to the hybrid car for college trips, until we get either the newer software fix and/or a new battery. 

Thus, we had to put gas in the car.  !!   It's an 8 gallon gas tank, already has some gas in it, and MH got a 50-cent off coupon (per gallon).  

What we packed up for MM this trip: Some homecooked food, mail, vaccine card, binder paper, light jacket, ceramic bowl, mugs, more soap, graham crackers, nuts, string cheese, granola bars, popcorn, wheat thins, bananas.  We also delivered some fresh baked cookies and home grown apples from MIL.

We left Tuesday night but stayed with in-laws, just to break up the drive a little bit.

Oct 4

October 8th, 2021 at 03:12 pm

October 4

$159 Groceries/Household

Dinner:  Crockpot Chili


I don't know what to say about grocery spending.  I asked MH if he got food for two weeks or what.  He said not much food for dinners, was mostly a lot of "little things add up."  Will see...  Was hoping for a $500 or less grocery month.  Not at this rate.

Crockpot chili was requested by the college student.  We brought him 2 (teen-sized) servings of leftovers.   Oh yeah, and some of those groceries were for the college boy.  Stocked up on some snacky food that he can keep in his dorm room.

I did also make some pumpkin bread (mostly for MM).  Was my contribution for something more home-cooked.

Edited to add:  We just went over meal planning and MH has like 7 dinners to cook.  This is 4 days after shopping *& will probably last two weeks.  Plus we were gone a few nights.  I know we will need some groceries but I think we will be set with dinner for at least another 10 days.

October 3

October 5th, 2021 at 01:21 pm

October 3

$3 Car Wash

Dinner:  Leftovers


MH was busy volunteering all day. 

I made a small list of chores.  First and foremost, I took MM's car to the car wash.  The car wash was broken last I tried.  This time I succeeded.  We moved the kids' car into the garage.  Ugh.  Super long story.  But will just say that our electric car is under recall and relegated to the outside.  (One of these days, I might get to that post).  The silver lining is we can easily garage car #3 while it is mostly unused.  There is no way we would otherwise drive the gas car or put it in the garage.  But it's just one less thing to deal with and keep track of, if we can garage it.   The car has like a rack on top and the top of the car still looked pretty dirty (the car rack clearly impeded the car wash).  I had rinsed a bunch of ash off the car (when the car wash was broken) and put it through the car wash today.  & the top of the car still looks dirty.  We will put the car outside when MM(18) is home.  Will add it to his list to wash the car when he is here.  He can reach the top of the car way more easily than I can.  (We really don't wash our cars very much, but the outside cars get so much more abuse).

I was also going to put air in the tires, but his tires were okay.  So I might also put that on MM's list when he is here.  Or whenever it's not 90F degrees.  🙄  We just put air in our (newer) car tires, because the air sensors were freaking out with the cooler mornings.  

Driving the old gas car was a painful experience.  I hated everything about it.  (My freeway acceleration and braking were more reminiscent of my "learning to drive" years.)  & I didn't even think to look at the gas tank.  I am used to my car always being charged (I plug it in every night).  I just didn't think about it.  Hopefully MM(18) left some gas in the car.  😁  (It did occur to me a few hours after I got home.  I expect I will forget to check by the next time I drive it again).  

I left this post (draft) for a couple of days and I don't remember what all I did Sunday.  Mostly a weekend of rest.

Oct 2

October 3rd, 2021 at 11:45 pm

October 2

$18 Fandango (movies)

Dinner:  Falafels


The plan today is for a NSD.  Will see how it goes.  MH has another volunteer shift today.  I certainly have no plans to leave the house.

Edited to add:  Money was spent.  See below.

We spoke to MM(18) very briefly today.  He squeezed us into his busy schedule.  My heart is very happy.  He was always so bored with school and so I am just crying tears of joy after talking to him.  The workload (very easy freshman schedule, assigned by the college) is easy and that part is probably boring to him.  But he's joining several clubs and getting a variety of hands-on engineering experience.  He was basically planning to spend the day in labs and machine shops, learning a lot today.  & was very excited about some math/physics project he is working on for one of the clubs.

We did discuss the food last week.  After seeing his food spending detail and seeing other parents complaining about "airport food prices" at the college dining halls, we told MM(18) to just eat out if it was better/cheaper.  That we'd cover it, if it saved us money overall.  So I was surprised he hadn't eaten out at all.  Anyway, we talked to him today and he told us he was figuring it out.  Was telling us he had found $3 potatoes.  & I mean, cooked/prepared potatoes in the dining hall for $3. & I am going to bring him some ceramic bowls for oatmeal, stuff like that.  He's getting a feel for what is filling and some of the better values.  I'll probably give it another week or two before I look at it again.  We have a "redo" end of October where we can change the dining plan.  But my crystal ball says he will still run out of money before the end of the quarter, and that we won't be changing his plan downwards.  We've already chosen the max dining plan.  (I figured that was a safe bet).

My trip is getting complicated with the change from 1-2 people to now 3 people.  MH had movie plans (free with his pass) to see the new James Bond movie.  We re-arranged those plans today.  Which was really irritating me for a while.  But we finally just re-arranged the puzzle pieces and got it all figured out.  Phew!  Once we figured it out, everything fell into place.  We are splurging on the hotel and dinner out (x4) one night, but that should be it.  MH used a Fandango gift card (that I won) to get a free movie ticket for himself, but he's going to the movies with his Dad (a stop on our drive home) and he picked up a ticket for his Dad.  Thus, $17 spent today.  In turn we will get a free place to stay for a night and a free meal. 


Oct 1

October 2nd, 2021 at 04:16 am

October 1  

$7 MH Allowance Spending (Patreon)

$0 Target (Groceries/Houehold)

Dinner: Leftovers


Well this will be interesting.  Because any time in the past I have recorded daily exenses in blog, our biggest spending was generally groceries and gas.  No longer feeding an athlete teenager at home, the grocery spending should change drastically.  Also, we are driving 100% electric.

I just perused the credit cards and a patreon charge posted today.  Might have been initiated another day but today is when it showed up.  That's an MH allowance thing.  

MH was planning to make dinner tonight, while at the same time complaining about people not eating leftovers.  ???  I told him I would be happy to eat leftovers (have been all week) and maybe he shouldn't cook dinner.  Still majorly adjusting and it sounds like probably some food waste in the process.  Anyway, we had that conversation in the a.m. and he decided not to cook dinner. 

MH is volunteering at the public TV station tonight.  It's the first time since the pandemic started?   They were having trouble getting volunteers so he probably over-volunteered.  But I guess it works out.  I am sure when he committed he expected to be working during the week.

Oh yeah, and MH did a Target run.  He used a gift card; about $40 remains on Target gift cards.  He picked up a couple of grocery items, some laundry detergent (will last a year?) and some cat litter.  He went yesterday because I asked him to wait until October after putting cat litter and laundry detergent on the shopping list.  Our grocery budget is $850/month but September ended up being $900.  I tried to absorb film crew food spending into our grocery budget but it was just one of those months.  

MM(18) switched to tide pods a while ago (the sport version) to get the stink out of his athlete teen boy clothes/sheets.  So I don't expect our laundry detergent usage to change.  I just mean that the family size Tide laundry detergent we usually buy and keep a year, it's still going to last a year.  Strangely, we only discovered the family size recently, versus when we had kids in cloth diapers and did laundry several times per week.  (We used a laundry service for diapers but it was still a lot of laundry!  We had to wash all the diaper covers plus babies make a lot of mess).  I can still see buying the family size when it's just the two of us.  Just so we don't have to go to the store as often.  

January Wrap Up

February 20th, 2021 at 03:11 pm

Tracking spending (in blog) did help, it was a good way to get back into a blogging habit.  But having a calm month was probably the most of it.

That said, now I just want to take a break.  If life is calm whatsoever, I have a million things to catch up on.  So I may end up going the opposite way this month.

{I probably started this blog post 2+ weeks ago.  Clearly I went the opposite way; have not posted much.}

I do have January sum up of spending:



This is our 'variable' spending I guess, that I tracked daily in my blog.

In January 2020 we spent $152 on auto fuel (mostly gas), versus the $26 we spent last month.

In January 2021 we did receive 100 free miles of fuel, for the electric vehicle.  



We seem to be having a unicorn month with the grocery spending, having only spent $475 on groceries (done shopping for the month).  January was weird.  Two months of this is extra weird. ($900 is more our monthly spending level)  I wouldn't be surprised if MH ends up with a $400 grocery run (for just 10 days).  At some point, there's going to be a stocking up of something more expensive.  

The only other thing of note is that we did some extra spending with unemployment money.  I think I came up with $400-$500 already spent for the first half of this month (includes that hard drive, which didn't ship/charge until February).  Mostly MH supporting musicians/comedians with online concerts and investing in his movie making passions.  Which he was doing anyway, but is where he is redirecting his time and energy during this period of unemployment and pandemic.

We did receive my final side income check ($500) and $1800 of unemployment income.  It's all going to savings (February) because we pay all bills the first of the month.  February is done, so everything rolling in this month will get saved.  But will probably reduce this $500 (extra spending) or whatever it ends up being, from next month's unemployment checks.

I personally could care less about eating out and the kids seem fine.  (We never ate out much to begin with, is probably normal for the kids to go months without eating out).  But I recognize that I am not the one cooking dinner every night.  I brought up to MH the other day, reminded him I had some Christmas cash for a dinner out.  He told me it wasn't financial, he was just being COVID cautious.  I think he decided to order out this weekend.   

I do think that some of it is that we never did take-out or delivery before (with the exception of pizza) and we all feel, "Meh, we weren't missing anything."  Cold and soggy food, and always some mistake with the order.  Literally, we are only ordering from and supporting our favorite restaurant at this point.  Home cooking is so much better.  Already kind of felt that way but could find something redeeming (sometimes) eating out at a restaurant.  If the alternative is take-out, we'd rather just make our own meals.  Heck, I think MH is just ordering from this restaurant to be nice and to support them.  I don't get the sense it is something he is overly looking forward to.  He had plans this weekend and already asked me to cook dinner all weekend, so it's not like eating out is his only way to get a night off from cooking.  (I made dinner 3 nights this week, but it was an unusual week).


January 31

February 7th, 2021 at 02:03 pm

January 31


Dinner:  Chili (slow cooker, tried a new recipe)

Odometer update (January):

Hybrid: 300 miles

Electric: 575 miles

I probably roughly split the cars 50/50 for commute, plus we had an emergency out-of-town trip earlier in the month.

MM(17) seems to be resuming normal driving.  They are having track practice every day, so is same as when he drove to school every day.  I asked him to let me know his odometer number.

I did end up discovering a useful way to utilize audiobooks.  I had the energy to tackle a very neglected kitchen.  Was just about to start scrubbing when I decided I wanted to listen to my book.  I think I would actually clean once in a while if I had an audiobook to listen to.  


January 30

February 2nd, 2021 at 04:02 pm

January 30

$10 Online Concert/Show

Dinner:  Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers was a second time in the Instant Pot.  We love this recipe, but we can't figure out how to get the rice cooked.  This was try #2.  MH is just going to use cooked rice for the filling next time.  The peppers just come out so perfect.  I bet it tastes even better without uncooked rice.  😉

Reading another article about unemployment fraud and surprise tax statements, I asked MH to pull up his tax statement.  It's not ready yet, but we saw that his checks had been issued.  In the past we received a pile of checks literally the next day after he cleared a road block.  This was Friday, and he had called on Wednesday?  Not arrived yet but figured they'd be in the mail likely Saturday.

Yup, checks received today.  Roadblocks all clear.  Again.

I will front load mortgage goal for the year (I updated sidebar).  The rest went into savings.  Should get another $2,000-ish next week, which will top off our 2020 IRA funding.

I budgeted/planned for -$0- unemployment this year (and truly expected $0), so this money will all just be gravy.  MH's income would have gone to fund 2021 IRAs if he had a job, so that will be our next savings goal with extra funds.  Will also probably receive some stimulus to that end.  I expect the combo of the two will replace MH's very small income, this year.

MH bought a couple of livestream tickets the last couple of days. 


January 28 & 29

January 31st, 2021 at 01:48 pm

January 28

Groceries $33

Hard Drive Upgrade $163

Dinner:  Olive Garden Chicken Pasta (Instant Pot)


This is one of the better (non-soup) instant pot recipes that we have tried.  Not too dry or watery.  Came out "just right".  Was probably a million calories, but definitely a good dish for teens with high caloric needs.  

MH needed something from another store and so he did a grocery run today. 

He seemed overly confident that the unemployment office will cut him a check soon.  Just had a brief discussion about that.  I am in the "will believe it when I see it" camp.  But literally he wanted to upgrade his hard drive, changed his mind when UI was all screwed up.  Then he looked at it yesterday, the price had gone up $30 since last he tracked?  Then he looked later and the price had dropped $50.  He was telling me about that, so I figured when I saw the charge today, was why he pulled the trigger.  He told me later that the price dropped briefly for a few hours, he bought it, and then the price went back up.

We can very much afford it.  It's just his comfort level with it; he didn't want to buy it (right now) unless he knew we had extra money coming in.  He just got some random $10 refund and also had a free $50 gift card (from some electric car survey) and so the $163 he spent was net of all that.

This day was CHAOS.  It was probably this day I abandoned doing SA updates.  Yeesh!  I don't think I had a moment of peace until around 9pm.  Everyone had a tale to tell on this day.  Lots of drama.   Just a long and exhausting day.


January 29

$15 Online Concert/Show

Dinner:  Taco Rice Salad


I logged into the credit card to check spending, and there was a $90 reward to redeem.  

Also, $6 was deposited into my bank account (another monthly credit card reward).

We had't been using the grocery card (capped out annual benefit; will take a month before rewards kick in again).  & We didn't use the Target card this month (I just logged in to triple check that the balances was $0, it took roughly 15 seconds).

So...  That's the massive amount of time I spent managing rewards this month. 😉  Will invest $96 (total January rewards) some time next week.  


January 26 & 27

January 30th, 2021 at 07:18 pm

January 26

$22 Tax Software

$5 College Application Fee of some sort

$0 Target (Groceries)

Dinner:  Tortellini Soup (Instant Pot)

MH asked me if I needed anything from Target.  I thought about it this morning when going through and paying bills.  I checked and he has $80 in the Target cart, but we bought up a bunch of gift cards while on sale in December.  Will be $0 from our budget.

This would have put our grocery/household spending to $740 for the month (without the Target gift cards), or about $110 below budget.  It was just a weird month.  I do think some of the high calorie baking and deep fried fritters and stuff like that has maybe helped to keep the teen boys fed.  But... I think mostly it was how the timing worked out.  

As hospitals are less impacted and more people are vaccinated, I presume that MH will go back to grocery shopping every 10 days.  Once every two weeks is a *lot*.  He refuses to take anyone with him to get a second shopping cart and I feel bad adding anything to the grocery list (unless it is necessary).  So that might also be a lot of it.  Will probably just re-assess in another 10 days.

We had a whole whopping $12 balance on our dining out card, so I sent the payment in a couple of days ago.  & then I completely forgot and did it again today.  Doh.  At least it was just $12.  I will probably order a pizza some time in February, if things get less grim here.  A somewhat pre-paid pizza...

Groceries are done for the month probably, so paid off the grocery card.  I usually pay off the balance of our credit cards around the first every month (pay day) but I have the cash for such a low-spend month.   We enter every new month 'debt free'.  It's just my thing, I use the credit cards for convenience, but pay them off before the new month begins.  When I was younger and less wealthy, always utilized the float more.  Now I just don't care and like to make life very simple.  Could also be motivated by having too many credit cards (for rewards).  Rather than 'manage several credit cards' I just put them all on a monthly billing cycle and pay them all off the same time every month.  

Oh yeah, and I noticed that MM(17) paid off his credit card though he had charged $5 at some point for some transcripts (obviously for some college application).  I just sent the $5 payment to his card today, to make us square. 

So...  I had a big DOH moment when I entirely forgot to buy tax software this year.  I bought around Black Friday the prior couple of years.  Before that I was spoiled by 'free professional tax software' at work, for about 20 years.  Which is no doubt why they thought hadn't crossed my mind at all.  Anyway, I realized around New Years.  I had set up in camelcamelcamel last year (they only time I have ever used this website).  I was able to look back and see that prices are usually good around January 31.  I set up a price watch for the 2020 tax software and figured I'd probably be buying this weekend.

I did set it up to tell me if it dropped even one cent, but I didn't get a single email until today.  Dropped from $30 to 22.  Which was same as Black Friday pricing.  It is done. 

I did also put it on my calendar, for every future year, to remember to buy tax software on Black Friday. 


January 27


Dinner:  Thai Basil

Wow, what a night!  Crazy storm, not sure I remember a storm that powerful before.  60mph gusts in our neighborhood.  Mostly wind.  Surprised I got any sleep.

Decided to work from home and not navigate the mess.  I checked that electricity was on at work, but was told, "Just stay home, it's a mess."  Lots of fallen trees and electricity outages.  I personally wanted to get out of the house and not work from home two days in a row.  

MH was griping about me ending my "surge mode" and resuming normalcy next week, so I just finalized one more week with two days at home.  One day at home was what I was doing before the pandemic (this job) and the only thing that seems to really work well.  So I will resume that the following week (phew!).  But...  I am taking a 4-day weekend for the holiday so will just give it a couple of more weeks before I am literally in the office 4 days per week.  I'd say with all the year-end deadlines, it's been okay, but I think it's more about ergonomics and productivity than anything else.   I just feel more achy when I work at home. This day just happened to work better to be at home, for my flow.  In the middle of a giant deadline, and my employee was out sick anyway.  She's probably going to put a pile of stuff on my desk Thursday, but then I will be there to tackle it as it comes.  Wednesday I worked through my giant project without any distractions.  Phew!

{Oh yeah, and with the kids' school and everything, Wednesday is the best day to work from home.  Other days, we are stepping on each other's toes more.  DL has more of an independent study day on Wednesdays and less very loud band practice.  Wednesday was the day I chose in the before times because the kids had short days and I helped with that.  Also, just breaks up the week nicely.  I probably wasn't appreciating how hard it would be to work from home other days, until I tried it this month.  This is probably the first time this school year.  Last year, school was just kind of abandoned in March.}.

MH mentioned going for a walk later on this day.  I told him, "Meh, don't think I want to go outside today."  But I did later change my mind and figured it would be a more interesting walk than usual.  If there was anything canvas like a flag or a shade cover, it was all ripped to shreds.  All of the construction road signs had blown away.  I grabbed some winter jacket I bought in Utah 20 years ago.  Smart choice, but the zipper crumbled when I touched it.  MH thought I might have worn it to the snow once or twice.  Other than that, has just sat in the closet.  

I probably personally would never go outside in the winter.  & not like we get much winter anyway.  But...  With the gyms closed and everything, have been just suffering through it.

Saw more headlines of what a disaster our state unemployment system is.  But MH called and sat on hold for hour, and supposedly got his account all cleared.  Will see...   


January 24 & 25

January 30th, 2021 at 06:33 pm

January 24


Dinner:  Chicken  Korma (crockpot)

I think MH found this recipe for the Instant Pot but it utilized the "slow cooker" function.  So...  Why not just put it in the crockpot then?

It was *amazing*.  Only complaint:  Not enough leftovers.

I wasn't feeling great physically on this morning, and then I found out a woman I used to work with had passed away.  She was 86.  I had worked with her until she was probably about 80.  By far not the oldest person I have worked with.  But anyway, she passed away several months ago and I just found out. 

I ended up having more of a "curled up in the fetal position" kind of day. 

I just brings up a lot, the mess of illness and death that punctuated the end of that job.  Plus also brings up memories of our other co-worker that we lost to brain cancer 10 years ago.  

I snapped out of it mid afternoon and did some laundry.  Had better intentions but then didn't really do much else.  I ended up downloading some ebooks from the library.  One I could only get in audiobook format which is not my preference.  I think probably too distracting to listen to while driving, but was nice to change up my mid-day walk break.  I can maybe get into walking and audiobooks.

It has overall been so incredibly quiet and peaceful.  Really not holding my breath, but maybe feeling some optimism that I am getting out from under this black cloud.  It feels...  weird.  



January 25

Groceries: $322

MH allowance: $15 (movie?)

Dinner:  Spaghetti Pie

MH did a big grocery run.  Once every two weeks, until things settle.  Maybe one more two-week run, will see.  Or I guess, probably would wait two weeks but then can probably do a 10-day run at that point.

I almost didn't even check the credit card, because it's like been over 10 days since MH bought anything?  But it did cross my mind to check and I did see that MH had spent $15, probably on a movie.

Work was strangely calm and peaceful today.  I have some big deadlines and there's never enough hours in the day.  But...  When everything isn't constantly a disaster or an emergency and I can actually have peaceful nights and weekends...   My stress level is around a zero right now.  It's a noticeable weird shift, that I noted in my last post.  It just feels...  weird.  But good.  GOOD weird!

I did enter all my February income/bills in my electronic check register.  I have a good idea how the credit cards will sort out, with grocery spending done for the month.  Thankfully, we seemed to squeak by without any over-spending.  MH did receive a $100 check from my parents (for his birthday) which helped with his extra spending earlier in the month.  

I don't know what the odds are that MH's unemployment will sort out.  Now there's headlines that people have to pay back unemployment in our state!?  UGH!  (People who did everything the state said, but the state wasn't following Federal rules?).  I mention because am not holding my breath on any unemployment income this year and am very much in one-income mode.  Which is why I am happy that we navigated January spending so easily.


January 22 & 23

January 30th, 2021 at 06:29 pm

January 22


Dinner:  Goulash (Instant Pot)

Dinner did not turn out so well on this day.  If anything, most dinners have been too watery in the Instant Pot.  But this one went the opposite way. 

I have some days to get caught up on...



January 23

Allowance Spending (Moi): $139

Dinner:  Garlic Chicken Parmesan (Instant Pot)

Tried a new recipe, dinner was okay.

For some time I was exposed to so little advertising that most of my spending trigger (the past few years) has been SA.  Seeing people talk about purchases or things that sound interesting.  We stopped watching TV commercials 20 years ago (when we got our first DVR) and probably have our computers well equipped with ad blockers.

But alas, the social media ads are getting very creepy in a 'reading your mind' kind of way.  I expect I've made it worse during pandemic by sticking to just shopping online.  Probably didn't do much clothes shopping online before.

The other pitfall was free shipping.  I was just about to pull the trigger on a $40 purchase, and just going to eat the shipping because didn't really want or need anything else.  But thought about it more carefully and thought of some things I could use.  Couldn't find what I needed and then just ended up shopping more.  Spent $100 on clothing and jewelry.  After that I circled back to some cute shoes I saw and resisted earlier, but at least found them cheaper on Zappos.  The clothing I will most likely just donate what I don't end up liking in person.  But the shoes I will 100% return if they don't fit (they likely won't).  

{During normal times, if I do shop online I would just go return in store.  In this case, not even sure if a local brick and mortar store exists.  Have expanded my shopping horizons a bit during the pandemic, trying other stores besides just the one in my neighborhood}.

That said, this is all very typical of my spending style.  I did look it up and I haven't bought any clothing in 3 months.  If I spend $150-ish every 3 months, that's my $600 per year *blow money*.  

The line between clothing and *blow money* is probably blurry.  In this case, was 100% nothing I needed whatsoever, and so was obviously *blow money*.

Edited to add:  Shoes arrived and did not fit.  As expected.  I would pay anything pretty much, for shoes that fit my feet.  Makes my total spending $100, but won't get the return processed until next month.


January 20 & 21

January 24th, 2021 at 11:02 pm

January 20


Dinner:  Black Bean Soup

This was an instant pot recipe that MH tried before.  I told him to put it on my list to make this week.  It was so good and so easy to throw together, I told him to just put it in the rotation every grocery run. 

It calls for dry black beans.  Takes about 1 hour to cook (getting to pressure and cooking) and probably about 1/2 hour of slow pressure release.  

The one thing I would do differently is start earlier.  Is a good recipe for a work-at-home day.



January 21


Dinner:  Loaded Bake Potato Soup (Instant Pot) & Onion Fritters

The bacon we had on hand had gone bad.  But the soup came out really good without the bacon.  

I just happened to see an onion fritter recipe that looked really good/easy.  Decided to do the second dinner thing again.  Though probably worked out as a good side with the potato soup.  I just didn't get around to making it until after dinner.

MH *loves* onions.  I have no idea why on earth I never made a recipe like this before.  It was so good and everyone went crazy for them.


January 21st, 2021 at 03:13 pm

Every one of our age 65+ CA relatives have received round 1 of COVID vaccine.  Woohoo!

I feel like I have to pinch myself, I must be dreaming.

The exception...  Some allergy (a flu vaccine ingredient) was incorrectly noted in my Dad's file and by the time he got that cleared up, he had to wait two weeks to get his first shot.  I am really upset about that.  He probably has the most health risk of all of them, which is why I am upset.  But I did see yesterday some headline that it could take 4 months to get through all the 65+ in our state.  It gives me some perspective.  Clearly he is still very front of the line, and I should just be grateful he was only delayed two weeks.

This was such good news, it warranted a separate blog post.

We are most definitely not out of hell yet, but there's some significant strides in a better direction this week.


January 18 & 19

January 21st, 2021 at 02:40 pm

January 18


Dinner:  pasta with sausage and artichokes

MH put the recipe away and I don't remember the formal name.  Just something he threw together on the stovetop.  

I had figured I would likely work from home on Monday, due to emergency stuff the night before.  In the end, I got home at a reasonable enough time Sunday night.  Working any less in the office just gets too complicated.  So I decided I had enough sleep to be able to go into the office.

It was nice working the Holiday.  It felt like I got more ahead instead of more behind.  Phew!  Hadn't really anticipated that, but it was strangely quiet.  It was well needed after the last few work weeks.

Hell froze over and I had the energy to get some chores done around the house after I got home.  As an early bird, the flip side is that I am pretty useless after work.  So it felt good to get some stuff done that needed to be done.

Oh yeah, and the weather was *gorgeous* today.  72F degrees at some point, I took a half hour walk in the middle of the day.  I always walk, but it felt nice to get some so much sun, and did a slightly longer walk than usual.

In the evening, I was craving pancakes (the ones I recently made were so good).  I figured my kids could use a second dinner anyway.  They did not disappoint.  The kids devoured their second dinner.  I later saw MM(17) going back for cereal and ice cream.  (& I am sure that is not all he ate, is just what I saw).  He ran 8 miles.  Which is more than he has ran in about 6 months, so I expect some major food spending in our near future.  In full training mode, he will run 8 miles most days.  That is when our grocery bill gets insane.  



January 19


Dinner:  Sausage & Kale Soup (Instant Pot)

Tried a new recipe that was an A+.  It was pretty much Zuppa Toscana without the cream.  I like it better without.  I think everyone in my house did.  It was also beans instead of potatoes, so probably quicker to throw together.


January 17, UGH

January 21st, 2021 at 02:34 pm

January 17

$12 Fast Food

$0 Fuel 

Dinner:  Chickpea Tikka Masala (Instant Pot)

January 17th = UGH!

It was such a typical 2018/2019/2020 day for me.  What sums up these years is infinite disasters and emergencies, all very up/down, but usually nothing much comes of it.  

I made a comment to MH a few weeks ago, "It's a wonder that our parents can take care of themselves at all, any more."  Which I think sums it up pretty well.

Oh but first I do have to back up.  It was probably the best day I had in *years*.  It was so calm and peaceful.  The start of the day, anyway.  I took a very long nap (smart) and tackled some very long put off chores. 

In the morning I tried a new pancake recipe which came out great.  This was motivated when cleaning off the table and finding some syrup packets from some to-go dinner probably 10 months ago.  The pancakes were great and the syrup is gone.  Phew!

Just as I was gearing up post-nap for round 2 of chores my mom called to say she was at the hospital.  Which is horrifying by itself, but during a pandemic with mostly no ICU capacity...  This was just probably some of the worst news I could imagine.  My Dad had to wait for this week of all weeks, to end up in the hospital.

But I was probably more concerned about my mom, who is diabetic and is also not comfortable with driving (nor should she be driving).  She was stuck in the hospital parking lot.  I suppose I could have found someone (or she could have) to drive her home.  But I didn't know if I my Dad would end up hospitalized, so we dropped everything to get my mom taken care of and to give her some emotional support.  Is a 2-hour drive from my city to their city.

I had recently burned off the old gas in the hybrid and only put two new gallons in the car.  We quickly decided to just take the electric car.  Would get us there faster (no stops to fuel) and there would probably be some "Waiting around" anyway.  Figured MH could charge up the car while I took care of my mom.

In the end, my Dad got released about the time we got to their city (and was fine to drive).  Plan A was probably going to be to visit with my parents while MH charged the car. 

It took us about 20 minutes to get to my parents' house, after getting the news my Dad was free, which gave MH and I some time to talk it out and clear our heads.  My Dad just had been in a COVID-filled hospital, my mom must be exhuasted, and they are literally getting their vaccines in DAYS...  I decided not to go into their house at all.  Obviously drove all that way and visited with them briefly.  Just didn't stay long or go inside their house.

We left, grabbed some fast food and stopped at a charger we have stopped at before.  This time it was free if we just reserved ahead.   We needed to eat and I appreciated the pause and time out.  It was 9pm at that point and we got home around 11pm.

I don't really know what is going on with my Dad.  He has heart problems and so overall nothing new.  They resolved pretty quickly (about 6 hours) with meds. 

{Dinner side note: MH had been in the middle of cooking dinner, so handed off to the kids to finish preparing}.

We had some other dramas on this day that made it very 2018/2019/2020. & we had many more days like this in 2019.  It's just been a little more calm on this front (2020) with my Dad home 24/7 and my mom needing less assistance from me.  MH and I have been bonding over this because in 2019 we had often been traveling together to take care of our parents.  Or when I was too buried with work stuff, MH would just go take care of all of them.  If he was helping his parents with stuff, might as well check on my parents too.  We were talking about it recently (it's a wonder they can survive on their own) because his parents were being particularly needy a few weeks ago. 


January 15 & 16

January 18th, 2021 at 02:40 pm

January 15


Dinner:  Hearty Penne Beef

MH was sad that there was no leftovers with last night's dinner (read beans and rice).  It was *10* servings.  I don't know if there was any left at lunch time, but I did see MM(17) take two *giant* bowls that night.  & it was all gone by the next night.  Both kids are going through a growth spurt, plus MM(17) is also training more for track these days.  There's some element of always feeling like we feed way more than 4 people (and have doubled most of our recipes in recent years).  But...  It's probably been kind of quiet for a few month.  Sports plus a double growth spurt is a lot.  Both kids are definitely taller this week.


January 16


Dinner:  Indian spiced lentils (crockpot)

This is a dinner that makes a lot.  MH was hopeful that maybe this meal would last more than a day.  Fingers crossed.

It's hard to guage because everything is so weird.  But...  I don't necessarily expect much change in our spending when things normalize.  Traditionally most of our day-to-day spending is gas and groceries.  With the electric cars, that just leaves groceries.  

I think the long NSD run (about a week) is more about the electric cars that anything else.  We did drive about 350 miles this month, so far.  I just charge the cars overnight, plugging them in when I get home.  (During the surge, I am commuting to work three times per week).

We are also in one-income mode.  Except early in the month when MH thought we would be getting $2K-ish in unemployment funds this month.  Since then, our spending is nothing.  One-income mode is a lot of it. 

GREAT NEWS TODAY:  I let go of my last remaining side client!  Woohoo!  It will be more official the end of January once I wrap up everything and send my final invoice.  But I think I am about 99% of the way there.  I stuck with them for 2020, mostly being too nice.  But, I had given myself a hard deadline of not helping them past 2020 accounting year.  I did not want to draw out any of that red tape into 2021.  I wrapped up their 2020 books this weekend and I can move on now.

It's been more about helping my clients through a rough patch (especially as we got passed 2019).  With our assets surpassing $1 mil and with a very good job, I have no intentions, plans or desire to work any more than the 9-5 at my day job.  This is the first time in 30 years that I can say this and it feels awesome.  Have been here kind of for a couple of years, but life has generally been insane and I guess I still had some of this side work to get rid of to make it official. 

{Age 15-45 I mostly always worked multiple jobs.  The exception was about 20 years where I had one job and a busy tax season with lots of paid OT}.  

January 14

January 17th, 2021 at 03:54 pm

January 14


Dinner:  Red Beans & Rice (Instant Pot)


This was a redo of a recipe that MH tried before.  It was too watery the first time, which has been a common Instant Pot experience.  But when talking to MH he told me he added extra water the first time because "it didn't look like enough."  I do think some recipes after that were just too watery (when recipe was followed).  But anyway, this one went better this time just following the recipe.  😁

MH is on the road to resolving his primary unemployment issue (they froze his account due to suspected identity fraud).  I don't think he could be any more boring on this front, having not moved for 20+ years, so it was pretty fast/easy to confirm his identity.  Now we wait...  In the meantime the unemployment department had another computer glitch that affected MH.  It just goes on and on and on...

We had personally decided it wasn't worth the hassle to re-apply when his last extention expired.  Is a very part-time/seasonal job (very small benefits) and it was just red tape hell last year.  But...  They just renewewed him automatically and now there is more Fed stimiluls that most definitely makes it worth the hassle.   It's been a little up/down, as it changes every five minutes if I think he will ever get these benefits.  

Yeah, MH came to me the other day and asked me for help to "reopen his claim" because they sent him a message.  We didn't rule it out because mostly nothing has ever made any sense with the unemployment office.  But it was weird enough I told MH, "I'd just give it a minute," and MH agreed.  The more we talked about it and put our heads together.  I just happened to see the next day (in the news) that was a computer glitch that they were aware of, that they were fixing, and that anyone who did "reopen their claim" just made a bigger mess.  So at least we dodged that bullet.  But now we are also waiting for the state to fix that mess too.


January 13

January 15th, 2021 at 03:07 pm

January 13


Dinner:  Chicken Fajita Subs


This is one of my favorite dinners.  It is not a new recipe.

Work was kind of absurd today.  Just a "full moon" kind of day.  Lots of drama.  

Better silver lining this day:  They bumped age 65+ to the front of the vaccine line in our state.  Right or wrong, I am selfishly very happy.  Our parents should be able to get vaccinated soon!  They have to sort out logistics of course, and all of our counties have since said, "We aren't ready yet".  But that makes me happy too because 95yo GMIL should definitely have a higher priority.  For all of them, it will be soon.

All the actual and real scientific information re: the vaccine (versus whatever random rumors are spread on the internet) are just too good to be true, honestly.  It has all sounded very promising, but I also haven't paid much attention since I felt comfortable with the safety of the vaccines.  Anyway, I saw a great talk yesterday (put on by a local science museum).  Had a lot of good information.  The light just gets brighter at the end of this tunnel.  If anyone is interested I can try to find a link.  There was still a lot of questions that remained and were addressed in this video, like how long will we need to wear masks, can we see our parents when they are vaccinated, can we still spread the disease after vaccination, when can kids get vaccinated?  The answers to most of the questions are all very promising.  


January 12

January 13th, 2021 at 02:48 pm

January 12


Dinner:  Red Thai Curry (Instant Pot)


DL(15) also made some hummus.  He tried a new recipe, it turned out really well.

I don't know what on earth is going on but, we got taken off lockdown with 9% or 10% ICU capacity.   ????  Was supposed to stay on lockdown until back above 15%.  I can't help but wonder if it's politically motivated (caving to pressure) and seems incredibly premature.  On the flip side, mostly no one is adhering to the lockdown so maybe it just doesn't matter.  It was probably more about getting people to use their brains over the Holidays, which as far as I can tell did not work whatsoever.  

Crossing my fingers that it's not just politics and they actually know something (they are going off projections, and things seem to be moving in a good direction).  

Nothing will change for us personally, it is very dire right now.   I don't want to be contributing to the stress on the healthcare system.

I saw last night that one of MM's friends was accepted to the local State college (saw this on Facebook).  Wow, that makes it all very REAL!  4 out of 5 colleges that MM(17) applied to are crazy competitive (including another State college) so I don't expect to have any news of any sort for a while.  But...  His "safety school" and the most under-rated college he applied to is our alma mater (yet another State college).  I don't know what to call it because it would also be an excellent choice and could also be his first choice.  It's more than just a safety school.  But, it is the one college where his acceptance is guaranteed and I wonder when he will get that official word.  Maybe any day now.


January 11

January 12th, 2021 at 02:23 am

January 11

$ 260  Dentist

$ 331 Groceries

Dinner: Spaghetti


Both MH and DL had dentist appointments Monday. 

MH had mostly settled on 'every 10 days' grocery runs but with the Holidays and surge is now on a "once every two weeks" buying cycle.  It was a big grocery run, but the way the timing of the runs work out this month I think it will be a low grocery month.  $330 x 2 would be $660, or well below our $850 grocery budget.  Which pretty much never happens and is why I think it's somewhat just timing.  Will see...

I glanced at 2020 and we did have a $556 month in September 2020.  I guess it happens, once in a blue moon. 

Bay Are ICU capacity dropped to about 0% on this day.  We are in hell.  Between that and planned riots in our city.  I expect the next 10 days or so to just be some sort of crazy hell.  We have way too many loved ones in the Bay Area who are not in good health.  This has always been the most obviously concering part of the pandemic.  & so here we are at rock bottom.  (Lord forbid if they need any medical care whatsoever).

Silver lining:  GMIL should be able to get her vaccine any day now.  

I think COVID hit our circles (thus far) the hardest last winter when we had no idea what was going on.  I think it's likely I had COVID in Nov 2019.  That one is a little more out there and iffy.  (I think this mostly because of the pure look of confusion on my Doctor's face.  I had also never been so sick before, and it was attacking my lungs).  For reference, we were never really that concerned when GMIL likely had COVID last January (Hindsight 20/20, very likely COVID).  I overheard MH tell her that, "Monkey Mama was 1,000 times more sick than you are right now."  We were concerned because of her age, but at the time were both kind of, "Pfffft, she will be fine."  & we appreciated that reference because MH's family is 100 miles away and they were being crazy hysterical.  It was one look at her (on skype) and kind of, "She doesn't seem THAT sick."  The hospitals were full at the time and though the plan initially was to admit her, they weren't able to.  I think that could have saved her life.  If that wasn't COVID, she most definitely would have picke up COVID (or anything else) in the hospital.  There was nothing normal about that whole thing. 

At the same time, a family friend of ours (my age) randomly dropped dead.  Hindsight 20/20, obviously COVID.   A very young (early 20s) co-worker was also deathly ill at that time, they had no idea what was wrong with her.  I didn't know if she would make it.  Everyone just presumed she had what I had, though I had literally stayed home for 3 weeks and probably was another 2-3 weeks after that before she started getting ill.  But...  Of course now we know that it COVID spreads like crazy and is mostly asymptomatic, so I suppose it could have been what I had.  

I share because what I had been thinking was that maybe that was the *worst* of it, when we had no idea what on earth is going on and how to treat it.  Things have seemed to get a lot better over the past year.  But...  Now that we are in hell, it is a reminder that winter and flu season is just going to be the worst of it.  It's unfortunately Round 2.


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