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Archive for February, 2011

If it's got to snow...

February 26th, 2011 at 03:49 pm

...I might as well go snowshoeing :-) I know it's MN, but man, oh man, is it ever going to end?! At least, it's a light snow so far today. I went snowshoeing earlier in the week with my youngest, and it was wonderful to be out in the sun. We live next to a county park, and we have the option of a groomed trail along side the nordic skiing trail or we can cut our own trail throughout the campground area (obviously closed for the season.) It has been a great year for the sport!

Speaking of the campground, we're starting to plan out our camping season. A couple weekends ago, we checked out the RV and camping show, as we hadn't for many, many years. As you might expect, the biggest and very best of the camping world were on display. We had tented for decades, and then bought our tent camper two years ago, though remaining for the most part very simple campers. It's nice being off the ground, but we cook and do everything outside our camper. We're looking forward to the possibility of being snowbirds some day, but there's no interest in one of the mammoths we saw at the show. For this year, we're hoping to schedule one out-of-state trip (not too far away, though with gas prices as they are) and two to three other in-state long weekend trips. We love our state parks, it's a toss-up on whether to repeat some of the ones we enjoyed or to try out some new ones. We'll definitely heading to near where our oldest is in school, as she's taking classes and working on campus over the summer up there. And for our bigger trip, hmmm, decisions, decisions... I like to gather info on some realistic possibilities, and then put it out to the family. We hope to include everyone, which means an early August timing. Decisions soon, as reservations have to be made!

I think it was Analise that was mentioning the advantage of knowing what sort of retirement you want, and making specific plans and goals. I so agree with that, and we have been thinking along those lines for a number of years. We're focusing at the moment on our girls' post high-school education, but retirement is not far from our minds and is on auto-pilot (and not to be messed with!) It's nice to know that we won't have to forage for a half a million dollars to fund one of those show RVs - and then the gas!! Not much to say, but wow!

In other news - last weekend was productive in that I finished my oldest's state taxes, so except for mailing our state in with what we owe in April, we're totally done with that. I finished both fafsa'a for the oldest two. The results may figure highly in my "I'm ok with my simple retirement dreams" - ha! The final amount was what I was kind of figuring on.. I truly did not believe all the "you'll make out like a bandit once you have two in school" talk. My second received similar amounts as my oldest, and we pay for the slack. As we are committed to not getting a PLUS loan, we're tightening the belts another notch, and that's ok. Now that we have the figures in for this coming first year with two in school, we'll know what the next six years will hold for the most part, and then the final two years are back to one in school again for my youngest. Whew! That's what we get for spacing our girls so very well:-)

I'm off to Sam's Club in a bit for groceries. Doing well with the grocery budget and meal planning. Also doing better with a little concerted effort on the leftover front. (Freezing is the answer you seek!)

Better get to it! Enjoy your weekend and take care!!

Lots Learned....

February 12th, 2011 at 03:41 pm

...in the last two weeks! First, we finally, FINALLY, received the tax forms needed for our taxes. Refund from federal (e-filed through TurboTax with refund to be paid out the 28th if I recall.) Of course, we owe the state (always do) and the forms are ready to be mailed out nearer tax day. Whew - done with that!

I did my oldest's taxes last night and e-filed her federal, and attempted a free e-file for the state, but decided to just do that one by hand. It was a bit weird - It was a site that had an interview process, much like TurboTax's, but then at the end, you couldn't print a copy of the state taxes, but they could mail you one for a fee - grr! I should have known 'free' was too much to expect from the state. But these are done and over!

I still need to do a quick check on number two daughter, but I think her earnings are too small to have had any tax withheld.

Left to do are the fafsa's for the two girls, which I'll start after I get off here. I want to know, but I'm not sure I'll like what I'll learn (or maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised :-)

We've been improving on the eating out front (planned rather than circumstantial lapses.) I've always been good with meal planning, but I feel like I've become more realistic lately in the amount of food I need to bring home. Maybe I was in denial of my oldest going away to college last year or something, plus the reality of my 2nd just being busy and not home as much for meals, but it took me a while to not be cooking such big amounts of food for meals, as I'd done for years. And then I'd put the leftovers in the frig, and no one would want it because "we just ate it". Talk about stuck in a rut! So, now I'm fixing meals in smaller amounts (still can accommodate my 2nd girl's comings and goings plus the addition of a friend staying for dinner - yep, no one starves at my house!) For meals that are a better deal to make in quantity, like chili and soups, I send leftovers right to the freezer. I know, slow learner!!

I'm not sure I took on HouseHopeful's lunch challenge, but my girls and I all brought our lunches each day. We always do and did, so not much of a challenge for us. My husband mostly brings his, but maybe once every week or two, he'll head out to a fast food lunch with the guys. He works in the field and eats alone most days, so if the coworkers are working in close proximity, they'll eat out together. For the most part, it sounds like few from his work bring a lunch. We, and many here on the blogs, stand alone in the crowd on this lunch from home front :-)

Loving my job more each week - I knew I needed a change, and the middle school position was available, but I really didn't know how it would go, as I've worked only in early childhood and some elementary. I'm so enjoying my students and the other kids and teachers of the the classes we're in. I'm amazed at how helpful and inclusive the kids are, even in light of some hard-to-understand behaviors of our kids. I help our kids navigate the typical classes, but I also help others be comfortable with and enjoy our kids. I'm witnessing such compassion and growth on all parts. I'm glad I took the chance (and my superiors took the chance on me!)

On the agenda for this weekend: two fafsa's, grocery shopping, a little house cleaning, clear the catch-all counter.... for fun, my husband wants to go to the camping, rv and vacation show on Sunday (printed off discount coupons.) We haven't gone for many years, and what can I say, it's been a long, long winter and we need some hope our tent trailer will be exhumed of it's snowy burial at some point :-)

Take care!!