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Oh my....

December 31st, 2013 at 07:25 am

Gosh, over a year since I last updated! Things sure get busy when you're living your lifeSmile A little familial update, or if you wish, skip on down to the more financial....

The ten-second year recap.....I'm still working the same position special ed position at the local middle school. My husband changed companies after 20 years at his previous, bumping up a title level, with an increase in pay. A slight culture change going from an international firm to much smaller company, but it's been a good move for him.

My oldest is graduated from college, and is doing an Americorp fellowship for the Boys and Girls Club in the same city where she went to school. She's still in the same rental house - yay to no move this year! She's thinking she may do one more year with Americorp - low pay, but easy enough for her to continue her frugal college lifestyle. And the college loan repay dollars are great too! She has a great boyfriend of a couple years, who spent Christmas here with us - the family expands!

My second girl is working and out on her own. She's a cosmetologist and works at a salon I could never afford (or would choose to want to!) She comes over for Sunday dinners after work, and brings her shears when we need some trimming Smile She's our fashion and fun girl, but she is fiercely frugal too. The portion for savings and retirement (!) come out first, then her living expenses, and then the rest is for bargain fun and shopping.

Number three girl graduated from high school, and was registered for community college courses, when she froze. A little background - this is my sp ed girl with the full IEP, who struggled immensely to get through her school years. She had in mind what she wanted to do, and the college would work with her accommodations....it sounded good, until she had a change of heart after registering. More like total panic, so we stopped and took a breather. We talked and talked some more...she talked with her sisters and friends also, and we talked with the school. Her placement tests are good for at least a couple years, she's admitted to the community college and can go anytime she wants, if she chooses to. But for now, she decided to get a nail technician state certification. She's got about a month and a half left, and then she can work (even at the frou frou place her sister does!) until she decides more on what she wants to do. Little steps, but headed in the right direction!

My youngest is a junior at the high school. She's enjoying school, friends, and activities. She'll also indulge mom and dad with camping, nature walks and hikes, snowshoeing and kayaking, depending on the season. The new meds for her fainting were hard tested this extremely hot fall, but she is now doing well (even through a recent bout of illness, which was always a challenge to get through in the past.) Fingers crossed!

Sorry - that was more than ten-seconds Smile

The financial part! A little broken record here, but I need to plump the savings a bit. We also took on a little debt - we knew better, but...gotta get it paid! We made the final school payment for number three girl at the end of Dec, so 2014 is a year with no post-secondary - we haven't had that in many a year!

Financial particulars -

We get paid twice a month (15th and 30th/31st) - each check is planned out with set amounts for savings, debt, bills, etc. (along with what is taken out ahead of taxes)

Get a handle on discretionary spending - groceries is a biggie (my word, there is less people here and I seem to be spending more!!)

Do the annual perusal of where our dollars are going - check into insurances, taxes, etc - see if I can improve. Collect tax papers and year-end stuff, etc.

Continue purging and sharing the spoils with others - what I can't pass on to my older two, I donate! NEVER-ending chore...

Take care! Happy New Year!!

Barreling through September

September 24th, 2011 at 06:54 am

Man, where does the time go?! I finished the third week of school, and all the kids I work with are settling into schedules for the most part. My own kids are off to a good start. The calendar is busy for the younger two girls with school and activities, but many of the sports end by mid-October. The older two are busy with their schools and lives too (oldest is away at college and second commutes to her school and lives at home.)

Part of the fading fleet of vehicles faded further. Our oldest car, which third daughter drives, needs some work that is beyond what my husband can do. Will bring it in later this morning to the auto shop - shouldn't be too outrageous, but given the age of the vehicle (20 yrs) there can always be more that needs repair - so fingers crossed!

Back into a regular grocery shopping mode with the start of school (I stretched out trips over the summer to clear out the pantry and freezer spaces a bit.) We're restocked pretty well for our fall/winter type of cooking and baking - hey, I switched out my warm-weather clothes for cool-weather...I guess it's the same for food in the kitchen Smile

A bit of nesting going on (blame it on the recent cold weather!) Bought a new shower curtain at Target and some fall scented candles at Michaels. Got some chocolate chips for baking, and we're on our fourth type of apple from the apple stand across the street from the school (we have a big surplus at the moment, so maybe a pie or crisp to remedy this.) A trip to the library later today. Copious supplies of tea and cocoa. Ready and raring for fall!!

I like the beginning of school schedule for the fact that I'm back to getting a paycheck and that there is not a lot of time to spend it! The stakes are a little higher this year with two post-secondary payments going out, but so far so good. My check also is covering the savings amount going to car replacement and vacation (smaller plans for this during "the college years" - what were we thinking with the spacing of our girls - yikes!) On the other hand the beginning of school brings many opportunities for check writing, or as my husband states, money hemorrhaging. But once again, we've survived another year to tell the tale!

Plans for today - after dropping off the car, a little baking, a little chili-making, a trip to the library, tidying up the gardens, and the first walk on the autumn trail at our nearby county park. The sun is shining, and highs into the 60s - as perfect a Fall day as ever! Enjoy your Saturday!!

Summer summary

July 8th, 2011 at 07:26 am

I've been so frustrated with my entries disappearing!!!! (ok, got that out...)

First, thank you to all who commented on my last entry. Yes, doctors are telling us the fainting is something she should outgrow. And we're back to good again - no fainting since the first week of June.

Besides losing typed entries to oblivion....

We've been in clearing out mode here. My youngest and I have been working our way through the remaining house attic space. I'm amazed how much in there was not bought by us (actually yay!) - most originates from my well-meaning and generous inlaws. We kept the spirit and gestures behind the gifts, but donated the physical items. The girls went through their rooms, and culled the unwanted also.

Items of more value have been set aside to see if we can sell. Replacements.com is interested in, and is writing up an offer, on a set of unused silver - I'm hoping it's a good one. If that works out, we have some china and crystal to part with. We also put out an email to a gallery on a signed limited edition art print that looks like it has some value. If that place isn't interested, I'm not sure where else to try selling it.

We also junked our oldest minivan - called a cash for junker place and they came and picked it up. I know it's silly, but I was a bit sad to see it go. It was my mom's car, which we took over use when she went into a nursing home. It had a long life, and served us all very well, with the girls sharing its use at the end.

On the spending side, we purchased with cash a used Honda Accord for the girls to use. My second girl will be commuting to school in August, and we wanted something reliable and fuel efficient. We used craigslist again (we bought the Olds that way a few years back.) Of course, the state is shut down, so no title transfers can be done on either the junked Plymouth or the new Honda - arg!

The Accord needs brake pads and rotors replaced, and my Odyssey needs an oil change and oil, air and cabin filters. My husband bought what he needed last night at the auto store, and will work on that this weekend. It's very handy having a husband who is handy :-)

On the plus side for not spending - since school has ended we've been stretching out the time between grocery shopping. I did a big Sam's run before my second's grad party the first weekend in June, and then did a small trip to Target a couple weeks later to stock up on milk and fruit/vegies. I'm stretching it out another couple days, and will head to Sam's again maybe on Sunday.

Of course any savings is already earmarked :-) We have nothing for the rest of July, so catching up a bit after the new car purchase. August has a bit more though! We have a camping trip to SD planned for the first week. Sport fees are due soon after - third girl is thinking of doing cheerleading again and youngest is doing tennis. Second girl starts school Aug 15, with the first payment due that day and the 15th of the next seven months. Back to school stuff later on in Aug (ugh to be talking of it already!) I have an OfficeMax reward of $44 (expiring at the end of July,) which will take care of the bulk of school supplies. The girls are petering out on the growing, so not much for clothes (plus they have jobs to supplement any whims beyond what I contribute.) The oldest's tuition and financial aid should be known sometime in Aug, though not due until Oct.

And my favorite little ways to save are still happening - I'm biking around in town for errands, combining and planning out the errands I need to drive to, hanging my laundry outside on the lines, and tending my little tomato plants (lots of little green fruit on the branches already!), plus cooking and eating at home. Nothing extraordinary, but it all helps out.

Enjoy your day!!

I want Spring now!

May 1st, 2011 at 07:37 pm

I feel less than ambitious with our current weather. I even made chili yesterday, as it's been cool enough! I was able to hang out one load of laundry, and managed to not lose anything to the wind. Today, it's clouds, wind and cold (as in furnace turned on once more...)

On the financial front, my husband got a little raise - about 2%. We decided to up the amount to his 401k by 2%, as the increase will do more good there than the tiny bit it adds to our pockets. After reading online that others were seeing good things happening to funds recently, I took a look at the 401k fund, and found that the gain for the month of April equaled the gain of the previous three months together. Good, good good!

What was it with April?? As others here have mentioned, I too forgot to mail out the monthly payoff for our Target Card, though I caught it before the due date. So I tried out, and don't laugh, the pay online feature of the account (I know, quite the daring soul, aren't I?!!) I was very amazed at how simple and easy it was to pay this way, and may continue to do so to save postage and fraught at mailing it on time (and it's the actual mailing only, as I always write out the bills as I get them.) Trudging along, I may yet get up to speed in this century :-)

Not a lot else going on - being a bit more mindful of certain aspects of the budget have been helpful in building up the coffers (boy, I'm full of revolutionary ideas today!) Particularly, eating out has been reduced (good for budget and health.) Even though we're eating more meals at home, I'm spending less at the store (I think I'm getting better at quantities needed for less family members eating - oldest at college and second daughter working evenings and eats at work.) I'm improving on using up the bits and leftovers, though there are weeks that seem to be leftovers for half of the days! Still need a little tweaking on recipe quantity and freezing.

The next few months are focused on getting as much into the savings as possible. We can pay my oldest's summer tuition from our budget, and then, as much as possible, cover the next year tuition for both girls. Summer is usually a low spend time for us - we swim, bike and visit libraries and free/low cost places around the Twin Cities area. We have some camping trips planned, but the sites are reserved and prepaid, and other costs are generally covered from the budget (the SD trip will be a little more - mostly for gas, but some sightseeing too, but not too expensive.) Some upcoming expenses are my second girl's graduation party in early June, and my third girl is considering a season of cheerleading, with practice starting in June also. Challenges, but not insurmountable...

That's all for now! Take care!!

Ready for April

March 31st, 2011 at 05:08 am

Our spring break ended with a fizzle....

My youngest got sick, and she was knocked out on the couch or in her bed for several days. The high school played in championship basketball games, and my third girl played in the pep band several times over the course of the week. The least I say about the snow storm mid-last week, the better. Spent two afternoons, straightening out the FSA and all things health insurance - I have nothing civil to say about the process, except that I am really hoping there is someone there who can, and will do, what they keep telling me they will do to fix it (and no, I do not want another confirmation number as I have plenty!)

Not all was dismal though - I spring-cleaned my bedroom, and it's now lovely in there. Cleared out several bags worth of stuff from all over the house and dropped off at our favorite charity. I tried out some new recipes and baked. We visited the library a couple of times, and we all read more than we had been lately. In my ever quest to be organized, I came up with yet another way to keep track of user/passwords for everything on the computer (took longer than it should have, but now even my husband could figure it out if he had to, and the new way does not involve a flutter of post-its:-) Wild and crazy life, I know!

Back to school and work for us girls this week. Time for buckling down expense-wise too. We're expecting to have to pull together some big dollars by fall for schooling for the two oldest. There is enough to cover it from our savings, but I'm thinking we can do a bit better with our budget of late and get together at least a good amount before the first payments are needed. We have some sort-of figures from the fafsa, but won't know until just before school starts what we'll need exactly (and this drives me crazy, so we always over-estimate, which isn't a bad thing either.) My oldest got some good news a couple days ago - she was awarded more work-study funds for the rest of this school year, which is great because she is signed up for classes in the summer in her quest to graduate early. (I feel like a broken record with all my posts in trying to figure out this college stuff....but I guess I've been known to talk to death some subjects in real life too - just the way I roll I guess :-)

My third girl is heading to Denver after school on Friday for her high school band trip, so tonight will be wrapping up the packing. She's excited! We're hoping for good weather (not sure what that is any more for any where this year.) I'm sure she'll have a great time.

Have a wonderful spring day!

If it's got to snow...

February 26th, 2011 at 07:49 am

...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!!

Still Waiting,,,,

January 31st, 2011 at 02:49 pm

...for tax documents to arrive! Specifically, I'm waiting on my daughter's 1098 from her college. I checked the school's site, and they will be mailed out on Jan 31, and they aren't available electronically - arg! I have all else that I need for our taxes and the fafsa for my two oldest. As soon as the 1098 arrives, I can finish it all up.

Tomorrow I took off from work due to medical appointments for my two youngest (had to take a whole day as the appt overlaps morning and afternoon half days.) With the extra time off, I'm going to try to figure how to get reimbursed from the fsa. In the past, we were issued a debit card, and it was very simple to use. Now we're supposed to file a claim, one per person with original receipt. Because the only way we can get our meds is through the insurance's mail-order, we get several prescriptions for multiple family members on one receipt. Hopefully they'll have an easy answer....

I'm also doing a quick gathering of donations tonight, as the donation drop-off is near tomorrow's appointment. So far this month, I've dropped off about ten sacks of household and clothing two other times. Why does it still amaze me how much we can keep clearing out of our house?

It started snowing last night, and has continued all day. It took me and the girls thirty minutes to get to school, only four miles away. Unfortunately, my husband had a job that took him to Eau Claire, WI today, so hopefully he'll have no trouble getting home. I'm making chili to warm us all up tonight.

Stay warm!!

A Busy Start to April

April 1st, 2010 at 06:52 am

I'm taking a half day off to go get my oldest from college. I wasn't expecting her to come home, as she was here last week for spring break. She didn't have a ride, but how could I say no to wanting to be here? I figure soon enough the girls may all be scattered, so of course, I'll drive up and get her, so we can be together for this Easter. (Luckily her Friday class was canceled, so I'll start heading up at noon today, and be home for a late dinner.)

As far as Easter goes....I have only jelly beans, which is something, but not a lot. I haven't planned the meal yet, colored eggs, even decorated. Oh my! I need to get hopping! Good thing I'm off tomorrow.

We owe a little to the state for our taxes. The taxes are done and printed, but I want to get everything ready to mail out over the weekend. I also want to go over upcoming spending in the next couple of months - it's all sort of put together, but I want to make sure nothing is missed. (We have many unusual bills at this time of year, and we recently didn't receive two such bills in the mail. Though I caught them before they were late, it was close. I should have a better grip on what I should be expecting, but I also want to follow through at the post office in some way. I guess I'm feeling a little unsettled, so I need to make some lists. That always makes me feel better :-)

Have a great day! (It's going to be 78 today - we're skipping spring and plunging right into summer...I can dream!)

Taxes & Tires & Tidbits - oh my!

February 7th, 2009 at 07:43 pm

The taxes are done! I e-filed my oldest's federal and will mail out her state - both with refunds. I also changed her withholdings. I used TurboTax for the first time (I'm a long hold-out with the paper and pencil!)and e-filed our federal - we get a refund of all of $50. The state taxes is a 'oh my, how did this happen??' We owe $674, which include a $17 penalty for being over $500. Not much has changed from last year, but somehow we ended owing this much. Will be submitting new w4s on Monday for sure.

Well, we upped our percent going to my husband's 401k - we're at the max. I'm hoping this is, and will be, a good move, but as it is said, we're in it for the long term (so please, please turn yourself around, market!) I'm a public employee and my retirement fund is a prescribed employer/employee amount, so no more there I can do. Next is to check into a Roth IRA.

It's been one of those weekends where things want to join together in falling apart. A couple nights ago, we were doing our nightly shuffle of the cars so everyone is parked in the right order to get out of the driveway in the morning (yes, we look crazy and yes, the neighbors think it's hilarious.) When my husband pulled our Olds into the driveway, he heard a sudden hiss, and one of the tires went flat. A puncture in the sidewall of one of the new tires we had just bought in May. Poo... My husband took it off, and brought it to the tire store. Not salvagable, so another $80 for a new one.

Today we were finishing up the last load of laundry, and my husband commented on how long the last load was taking to dry. He went to check on it, when he found it was wet and cold, not a good sign. Luckily he's a handy sort and after dismantling the machine, he did a little check online for a schematic and found that it was a heat sensor fuse that had blown. We'll have to wait for the Sears Parts store to open (we'll check, but I'm thinking it's not open on Sunday) but the part is about $15, which isn't too bad.

My husband is thinking that work is starting to look more relaxing that these 'restful' weekends.

I'm thinking there are forces out there trying to part us with our money. Always!

In other news...we got the official letter saying that our mortgage has been satisfied and officially payed off. We'll still need to get the copies of the record from the county when it becomes available. I guess my category of "I owe,I owe..." is now "I don't!"

And oh my...the best news of all is that my oldest got an acceptance to her first choice of college. (This is what spurred me on to accept what my taxes were saying and just get a move on in filing!) On to the FAFSA - oh yay...

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Another update....

February 1st, 2009 at 03:03 pm

Make that a quarterly one! (Computer issues to blame, and lack of time always!)

Lots of news at our house...

The best is that my brothers and I received and divvied up some money from a trust - not a lot, but enough to help out. After MUCH deliberation over how best to make use of the dollars, this is what we did. (It was kind of funny that during the same time period, BA asked the question in his blog about how to spend a sum of money - I read with great interest!)

My household is officially debt-free! We just paid the mortgage off this month, so it doesn't seem real quite yet. Writing the check for the payoff amount at the bank to get the cashier's check was a wow though!

Then after much research and analyzing (years before the advent of our money event, and after) we purchased with cash a new-to-us 2004 Honda Odyssey, with intent to keep until it no longer runs. This upgrades our failing fleet a bit - maybe to one not failing and well, let's not talk about the rest! (This wasn't an investment by any means, but gosh it's nice to have a newer car and hopefully less of those failing features common among the rest of our fleet!)

The balance of the money is sitting for now. We never had much of an EF, so now we do. Right now, both my husband and my jobs seem to be stable (though in this day that hardly means a sure thing.) And the whole car repair and medical costs events of the past few years surely could have been alleviated by having a decent EF - lesson learned!

We are looking into increasing/maximizing our retirement dollars. I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about 401k, IRAs, etc. How easily my decisions would have been made not all that long ago... I think I know what I want to do, just want to make sure.

Other news...

We've had a tough winter so far, car-wise. My second daughter hit some black ice and smooshed the front corner on a guard rail - luckily no injuries or other cars hit, and no damage to the rail (I found out the state will send a bill - yikes!) My husband replaced the headlight assembly and snipped the dragging part of the bumper - our formerly 'best' car looks quite wonderful, as you can imagine, but it's drivable.

My oldest was driving to work on New Year's Day, and when passing a walker and dog on a snow/ice covered road, ended up spinning around until hitting the rear against a tree on the opposite side of the road. An ambulance was called because she was bleeding from the back of her head (prob from hitting the seat belt housing) and for a possible neck injury. My husband and I arrived just ahead of the ambulance. I rode with my oldest, and my husband oversaw the towing of her Suburu, which was a goner. After some x-rays, a few staples, my daughter came home with aching head and spirits (she worked long and hard to buy her first car.) Her staples are out, and she's making due with the 91 Olds Custom Cruiser, aka the land yacht.

Granted, this winter's ice and snow has been quite the hands-on learning experience for my girls, when the recent past years have been so warm and lacking in snow. But can anyone really blame me for not allowing ANY of my daughters to drive my new Honda??

There's so much more to catch up on - my grocery successes, my utility bill challenges... not to mention taxes, college apps for the oldest, FAFSA, etc. A tad overwhelmed - that's me! This entry is quite long enough though, and the making of dinner awaits. Take care!

Our Company's Left...

September 21st, 2008 at 12:49 pm

...we're down to six at our house again. We had such a wonderful visit with my brother, his wife and four kids from Anchorage. Their older two and our younger two are the same ages, and all the cousins had a blast. We had my other brother and wife come over yesterday for a bbq - lots of food, talk, a cutthroat game of monster badminton and picture-taking. We miss them already, and it's so quiet here.

We did great on the meals. I stocked up ahead on milk, cereal, sandwich-making items and fruit, as well as plan out the week's dinners. We ordered in pizza once with a coupon deal (we paid.) My sis-in-law offered to make a meal (she shopped for what was needed.) And the rest of the meals were what I had planned out, with no restocking needed. As I plan out meals normally for us, I should have known how great it would work for double the people!

Loving my new camera more and more. We usually have an extra friend or neighbor we can call upon to take a group shot, but not this time. I figured how to use the self-timer feature, and we got several great pictures. (I know - probably most cameras have this feature, but I am so proud to have figured it out.) We are still working on my oldest's senior pictures - we may already have too many pretty shots to choose from.

We have found that my brothers and I will each have a bit of money coming to us, and it's a bit of a shock, though not totally unexpected. Going to give thorough thought to its use...kind of thinking along the lines of paying off the rest of the house and a little leftover medical debt from old times, definitely will max out the 401k, check into funding a Roth. I have a certain minimum amount of it that I'd like to see boost our EF. So far, those lines seem reasonable, but then there's the rest...

It would be nice (and a foreseeable need soon) to update one of our failing fleet of vehicles. We have made due with the under $1000 wonders, but I have to admit that we seem lately to be unlucky magnets for cars with troubles. Right now we have enough cars to allow one to be out of commission to be worked on. My husband does much of the work, but still it's pretty constant. The cars have managed to live up to that expectation and quietly take their turns being the car in the midst of repair. Except that we kind of look like a really bad used car lot, I don't really mind old cars as long as I can get to work each day. None of us really tie our identities to what we drive (though there are days when I probably do look as tired and worn out as my car, but that's something different.)

But occasionally, I get to thinking that while a new car is a poor investment, it's also nice... We've had a good experience with buying a brand-new car just after my husband and I married in 1984. We knew what we wanted, offered a price and quite amazingly got it. We loved every moment with that car, and we drove until its end (a sad day indeed.) We car camp, and more recently, have been venturing further from home across the country (I know, great timing with gas prices and all...) Is there a Dodge Colt equivalent out there for us - something reliable, gas efficient, travels well? Or do we bump up to a $5000 wonder? Lots to ponder, and we don't have to rush into any decisions at the moment luckily.

Otherwise, we're enjoying a quiet Sunday, with a mix of leftovers to do a "fend for yourself" day (the boarding house cook is taking a day off!) It's homecoming week, so tomorrow we're back to busy!

Enjoy your day!

Wow, it's been forever...

July 5th, 2008 at 08:08 am

All I can say is that life and computer issues get in the way sometimes.

A little update - I've updated all of my girls ages, the latest birthday just this past week. We have added a new driver as of May. My oldest bought her own car in May, and we added another cheap used car in December, as our conversion van wasn't defrosting its windows (and it wasn't the winter to have that happening!) We are starting to look a bit like a used car lot. We entertain the neighbors I'm sure as we pull the cars in and out of the driveway, repositioning so whoever is parked at the front of the line can get out. The girls pay their own insurance and gas - we help out on maintnenance and repair ( where's daddy? - look under a car! Yay for handy men!)

I finished my first school year in my new position (special ed paraprofessional,) and loved it (and the pay increase it included.) I'm working this summer for the extended year for special ed - just two more weeks. All four girls are working at the pool (same hours and building where I work, so we all drive in together.) The oldest is a Red Cross swim instructor, the second is a lifeguard and the two youngest are safety aides for the lessons. The older two have additional hours in the afternoon. All in all, we couldn't ask for better jobs for the girls - great pay and hours, and we can easily schedule fun and vacations.

With my increase and with the overtime and oncall my husband has gotten over the past few months, we've been able to accomplish a lot. I'm paid two times a month, and earmarked one check to savings and one to reducing our old debt. We've paid for a Washington DC trip my third will be taking in Oct. We increased the % going into our my husband's 401k.

We were even able to take a "spring break trip" with the girls in March. We did it the insanely frugal way, but with ALL on board for this it worked out great. We drove in a Plymouth Voyager minivan from MN to Galveston, TX and camped in a state park on the beach of the Gulf. The wonderful parts included warm temps (it was snowing when we left - again!) We loved everything about the island and the beach. We found an aligator, and saw lots of pelicans, but couldn't find any dolphins. We hiked in wetland areas and on the beach. We found a wonderful, delicious restaurant that was cheap! We brought home tons of shells and photos and lots of stories. The only insane parts involved driving straight through with only rest stop and gas breaks (no motels expenses for us) and packing the van so tightly, bags would burst out every time anyone had to get out of the back. And there was that day-long search for the aligator, but we found him at last! We made it there and back, and lived to tell the tale. The girls are already asking to do it next year. I think it's like childbirth - you forget some of the more difficult moments. I do see us doing it again, crazy as it was. 24 hours (one way)in a minivan, brings the family together in oh so many ways!

We also headed to Bemidji State Park after school ended in early June. It was a bit chilly for swimming and a tad rainy at night (soggy tent camping, oh joy.) But we had fun walking across the Mississippi, we rented a pontoon for really cheap and putted around Lake Itasca (where my youngest insisted that a dunk into the lake was something she had to do - the rental guy thought she was crazy.) We rented canoes on Lake Bemidji. We saw the most spectacular double rainbow ends to ends. We hiked many trails, testing out multiple layers of various bug sprays. Lots of campfires. With a family our size, camping is the way we go! We have another camping trip scheduled for early August.

Catching up

October 8th, 2007 at 02:25 pm

How busy the last month has been! Between school's start and my new job and my husband's job, along with the girls' few activities - whew!

I've now worked long enough to get three paychecks, and all I can say is that it's so nice to write out the bills and have the funds ready. Our checking account buffer is back in place again, along with the small emergency funds. Now we're working on the one last cc debt - actually we have been for the last year, but we are making greater strides in obliterating that balance.

This month hasn't been cheap either. The school fees and expenses aren't fun, but are normal and expected. The unexpected included another repair on the conversion van (along the more important repairs, I now have the driver side washer fluid line working AND I have greatly improved heat and defrost. Yay! As this has been our warm weather camping van, this hasn't been too much of an issue. But with my oldest driving her sisters to school in the minivan, I'm using the behemoth, and well, heat is a good thing.)

The other expense that we weren't expecting quite yet was some dental work for my husband, which I paid in full today. Easy come, easy go the paychecks!

Budgetwise, we're holding tight. I've been cooking at home and still shopping once every two weeks. My grocery budget has actually decreased a little, due to changing to a different grocery store. I've been able to stick to just under $200, which has been my goal. The last couple trips I've been including stocking up bit by bit for upcoming holiday baking. I've also been trying out new recipes, mostly because I'm bored with our usual meals. Many are from the Light & Tasty magazine - some have been more successful than others. The girls come to the table warily, and I'm no longer bored as it's very entertaining to watch their expressions. A mom's gotta have fun once in a while!

Utility-wise, we're doing pretty good. MN has been going the whole range of weather lately, and we have had the heat on one night a couple weeks back. The last two days have been very humid and near 90. I keep a pile of blankets next to the beds and keep a constant refrain of "take the jacket...where's the jacket" ringing in my girls' ears.

That's all for now...take care!

Oh, the excitement...

September 3rd, 2007 at 02:22 pm

Not a lot happening this weekend - just working at the odds and ends that are endlessly on the to-do list.

We helped out my inlaws around their house. My husband and I are starting to see a need to schedule a bit more time over there to keep things up better, as their health keeps limiting them more and more. All I know is that I had visions of my mom's house and the endless stuff she and my dad had collected. It took me a long time to clear out things from her house when she entered the nursing home, and the long-term storage ruined so much of it. My inlaws have organized their stuff into an endless sea of plastic storage boxes, tucked into corners everywhere. They're finding out that their three kids and families are just not really wanting any of it. The stuff has meaning to them, but not to their kids. It's kind of sad. Oh well, it helps motivate my husband and I in limiting what we think we should store away (a small house also helps with this.)

I went with my oldest and youngest to visit my mom. She's doing well, though conversation is a bit confusing as usual. We were joined by a talkative gentleman who managed to share his life up to the point where he and his wife had their six daughters. He was interupted to go to dinner, but I'm sure I'll hear about the second half (or more - he's 93) of his life. My mom enjoys the company of men, so she mostly giggled, laughed and made the occasional odd comment throughout his story. I always leave there with a smile.

I baked some vanilla chip cranberry bars and used up the rest of the package of chips into some chocolate vanilla chip cookies. After the obligatory 'testing of the recipes' by my family who came out of the woodwork, I bagged up and hid the treats in the freezer for the lunches this week.

Over the summer I had talked to the girls about our use of bottled water for the lunches. They were all willing to carry reusable bottles - yay! The environmental reasons spoke to them more, while I was definitely hearing the monetarial ones as well. Either way, it's all good!

To-do list odds and ends that got crossed off include my husband and girls washing both the vans in the driveway. I cut my husband's hair with the clippers (on the patio - you'd think we were doing this only to embarass our kids!) My husband turned his time sheet in online with 30 hours OT from last week (he was out of town two times, and gets drive time.) I sprayed the new athletic shoes with Camp-dry, so dew, rain and snow wreak less havok on those new shoes. Starting to go over a new budget with my husband so that there is no mindlessly expanding the spending to fit the pay increase. Otherwise, we're all getting ready for school's start tomorrow.

Happy Labor Day...take care!

I have a new job

August 31st, 2007 at 06:48 pm

I interviewed on Tuesday, and was offered a position late this afternoon. I accepted, and called my current supervisor and co-worker to let them know, and with their well-wishes, I start on Tuesday.

I'll assist the preschoolers who are in the school district's special ed program. I actually will be back in the preschool classrooms where I have been working the last several years, but working in a different capacity. I'll get to still work with all of my great co-workers.

This new position will also increase my wages for the year by 1/3, plus I receive a benefit package. Because of the increase in pay rate and hours, my public employee retirement account will really get a needed boost (I was at home with my girls for 11 years.) I work the same schedule as my youngest. Gosh, can I gush anymore over this new job?? I am excited!

In other news - where, may I ask, has August gone?! We took our annual camping trip the first week, and then the rest of the month just whizzed by.

After seemingly endless cleaning on my oldest's part, we painted and decorated on the cheap her bedroom. We were also able to catch a special exhibit on Pompeii at the Science Museum in St. Paul - very interesting. Getting the girls supplied and outfitted (minimumly at this point) for school took up a few afternoons. Otherwise, I'd say the rest of the time this month has been spent puttering. If only that resulted in the house looking neater - ha!

And for this weekend... more puttering, I'm sure. I'll bake something for the girls' lunches. I have a couple new lighter recipes to try out - an oatmeal raisin bar and another bar recipe using dried cranberries and vanilla chips. I'll try one or the other, or maybe an old tried and true one - we'll see what strikes me and/or any helpers.

Tomorrow we'll all head over to my inlaws in the morning to do as they wish - they have a list! Later, we'll visit my mom at the nursing home. Then the rest of the weekend is open for...whatever!

Enjoy the long weekend..take care!!

The week's end and the weekend

June 22nd, 2007 at 08:43 am

We're getting ready for my youngest's birthday sleepover with her friends tonight. It's our usual swim at the pool, homemade pizza and cake, and sleepover party.

My second girl finishes up her drivers ed class today. She really wanted to go to take her permit exam right after class, but there isn't enough time today. She's in class unitl noon, and my oldest has a dr appt later in the afternoon, and the party guests arrive even later in the afternoon. Definitely no time today! We'll go straight away after I'm done with work on Monday.

Over the last couple of days, in spare minutes here and there, I've filed papers, cleared out the girls' school folders, and generally organized the paper portion of my life. The checkbook is balanced, all bills are paid or ready to send, and various calls have been made. For this one moment, I feel all caught up (I'm relishing the moment, because I know it won't last!)

I've been slowly, but surely, working at clearing out the excess at our house. Two attic spaces are cleaned out, albeit they are the two smallest ones. We have one the whole width of our house and one in the peak of the garage. The garage one is also the girls' 'clubhouse', as well as where, unknowingly to me, my husband was stashing not-sure-what-to-do-with things. Bit by bit, I'm getting it under control. We have limited space as it is, and we don't need to be storing stuff we really don't want anymore.

My husband has been putting in a lot of overtime this week, and we all have been very busy this week. So after tomorrow morning when the guests leave, we're relaxing, with no plans whatsoever!

Enjoy your weekend...Take care!!

Not Sure Why...

May 23rd, 2007 at 10:34 am

...but I'm getting some breaks lately, moneywise.

As I blogged previously, my two middle girls made the high school dance and cheerleading teams, with their related noteworthy costs. It's not that I don't have the funds, but as it were, two weeks ago these activities weren't even a thought that ever crossed my mind, or my girls'. For my second girl, she saw the notice for tryouts, and thought it over and wanted to try. It was a long shot (it really was, spoken here by a very loving mom, though not to her!) She worked so hard, and gave it her best, and it paid off with a place on the team. She also showed us, the moneykeepers, that she was serious and willing to try something new. With my third girl, we knew she was interested in cheerleading, but this is the first time they've opened the high school squad down to 7th grade, which she'll be in the fall. So here we are funding two high school sports, all of a sudden.

But, as it turns out, Someone is watching over us (and don't we need that!) I had just added up the totals on the two sports, and we could cover it from savings, though giving it a good hit that would be difficult to rebuild any time soon. So I get the call yesterday about working the extended school year with the primary program, and I'm officially hired (I did know this was coming.) It's not a lot of hours, only four mornings for five weeks in June and July, but enough to help out with summer fun, camping and the beginning of school year expenses. Then I got another call yesterday about subbing at the intermediate school for the last two weeks of the school year, due to a medical leave (didn't have a clue this was coming.) I am able to take this job, because I just finished up my last day at the preschool yesterday. The savings will be back to where it should be, and cover the summer and school stuff. I'm feeling very blessed and lucky lately.

Other streams of money of late include - my husband did some side electrical work, and was paid $100. I got a refund check on our older van from State Farm, plus the recent bill came to being $50 less than 6 months ago (well, it IS getting to be almost ancient.) (I'll ignore, for now, that adding my oldest as a driver will negate that savings...but I'll enjoy the moment until the new, revised bill arrives.) I also received some very nice gift cards for Target, a local nursery, and the coffee shop in my town from my preschoolers and families. I also received a "Forever Bloom" hydrangea, which I wanted so dearly to get this year, but left at the nursery due to cost. My self-control was rewarded, and I love that the plant will remind me of a very dear family. Okay, I have to say it again - I really feel very, very blessed and lucky. I'm a realist and know it won't last forever, but I'll enjoy the blessings, and my hydrangea for many years, as it can withstand our MN winters!

'Tis enough of the gushing...take care! May money blessings be headed to you all!!

Heading into the weekend...

April 20th, 2007 at 01:10 pm

Laundry on the line - again (loving our spring weather!) Husband is in MN, on his way home. Oldest daughter didn't pass her driver's test. Hmm, two out of three ain't bad...

The weekend is shaping up busy, but self-induced busy, rather than out of my control busy. We're clearing out the things from the garage that can go to the county recycling center - mostly beyond repair electronics and used motor oil. The facility is open weekdays and Saturdays, so tomorrow's the day. (I just talked to my husband - he is SO excited. At least, he's still heading home!) There's still a bit of raking to do, but the wind is supposed to be strong, so we'll see.

My husband found out he got a 4% pay increase. Will need to look at the budget in light of that. I know some, if not all, will go toward retirement.

Enjoy the weekend...take care!

This and that...

April 13th, 2007 at 03:20 pm

Busy week - the extra hours for work, an IEP planning meeting for my third daughter. Glad the weekend is here!

A bit of money going out lately. I renewed the licence tabs for our conversion van. It's a '93, so the fee is at the cheapest rate. I also paid for my oldest to take a Lifeguarding course. Those Red Cross lessons aren't cheap, but she'll have more options at the pool (with an increased hourly pay.) She wants to take the instructor course coming up in June too. (Hmm - how easily and freely my girls spend my dollars - ha!)

This weekend, I want to go over what's ahead expense-wise for the summer and early fall. I know it's early, but I may or may not work over the summer (and it's a reduced amount anyway) and we never know if my husband will have ot or not. Plus the signup for high school sports is in the summer, and my second daughter wants to try out for the tennis team. (Hey, what can I say, I like to plan things out...though key to this is flexibility. Stuff always happens!)

As spring seems to be making an appearance again here in MN, some work in the yard and garage will be happening. Any excuse to be outside!

Enjoy the weekend...take care!

A month's gone by...

March 2nd, 2007 at 02:38 pm

I guess this is the once a month way to blog. What can I say, it's been busy!

For the first three weeks, my family was ill in a tag-team fashion. It was an upper respiratory thing that just stuck around. Per a recommendation here, I finally tried a generic form of Airborne, and I'm sold! I wished I had tried it much sooner. I don't get sick very often, but this one really took hold for some reason. We are all well again - yay!

The other thing keeping me busy was finding a new facility for my mom. I got a call from the nursing home social worker a couple weeks ago today, saying that she would be better served in a place that specializes in dementia care. It was such disappointing news, as we've been very happy with my mom's care there. By Wednesday last week, my brother and I had phoned and visited several places. We placed a hold on a bed the next day, and we moved her this past Monday. We are hopeful that this place will work out for her. We've been in the midst of a blizzard the last few days, so I haven't been able to go visit since Monday. I'll head over tomorrow with the family.

Money-wise, I got the taxes done for us, plus part-done for my daughter. Her wages from one of her jobs was done on a 1099, which made her self-employed. A lot of hassle for such little, yet just enough to have to file, wages! Long-story short, after spending phone time with very helpful (really!)IRS people, the fed return is done, and she'll pay in what she owes in April. The state wasn't as helpful, only because I couldn't get through on their helpline (probably due to the storm, and limited staff able to get to work today.) We've changed it with her employer, so that she has the taxes taken out as needed, and she'll get a w-2 next year. Just the state left to do for her, and then I'm done - and none too soon for me!

Weekend plans include digging out the house and driveway, and lazing about at home. Ambitious, I know! Take care!

Money in - that's staying in

February 2nd, 2007 at 12:18 pm

It's been a few days since my last entry - a busy week, I guess! I'm happy to say everyone went to school and work, every day this week. We are healthy again.

My brochure mailing was sent off without a hitch on Monday. I also volunteered to work an event a week from Saturday at the school. A bit extra on my paycheck.

I was paid on the 30th, and I transferred my whole check into our savings. I'm replenishing our EF (kind of our second one, as we also have a cushion in the checking acct.) With our medical expenses of the past year, that account was seeing heavy use. I'm glad it was in place to be used, but now with the medical expenses slowing down a bit (keeping fingers crossed,) I can finally take the opportunity to build it up again. I'll feel better with more $ in that account, with all the changes with my husband's company buy-out. He still has his job, plus there's been lots of OT, which he's grabbing up, while it's available.

We have a PTO fundraising event tomorrow to attend with the younger girls. Not my favorite thing to do, but the girls love it, so we'll go, of course.

Stay warm...take care!

Things are looking up...

January 25th, 2007 at 10:23 am

The fever has broken! My youngest is eating a bit of yogurt, after several days of not eating. Tomorrow is a day off from school, so she and I have both had an extra week off. Monday starts a new week!

As she rested (a lot,) I was able to get done with a few things around here. On the financial front, I ordered the first free credit report for the year for both my husband and I. While I'm curious as to our actual credit rating, I opted to not pay to see it, as there didn't seem to be a real need at the moment, except for the curiosity. Plus there are two more times later in the year when I could check.

I re-checked our ongoing meds on the insurance's website. There is an Rx cost calculator that let's you compare costs in filling it locally (1 month) or by mailorder (3 months.) I always assume the mailorder way will be cheaper, but not always, so now I check periodically. One of my daughter's new prescriptions ended up being cheaper to fill locally. Every bit helps.

I also gathered more online info for taxtime - still impatiently waiting for some 1099s! Maybe they will be in today's mail.

On the nonfinancial front - I cleared out my upstairs hallway. It's sort of an odd hallway in that it is larger than normal, almost room size. It also ends up being the equivalent of a very large junk drawer at our house. I like to keep the first floor neat and presentable to guests, so the upstairs hallway is our catchall for anything that doesn't fit that criteria. We've been getting by with pathways to the bedrooms upstairs, but enough already! So my youngest was strong enough this morning to defend the attics from kitty invasions (she guarded the doorway.) I first dragged in the Christmas decoration boxes, then the leftover items from Halloween that didn't get into the attic. Then I found the pile of 'keepables' from my second daughter's room clearing out last fall. I boxed up her American Girl doll, but will need to 'consult' with her on the rest, as my attic only holds so much. Wow, my hallway is really quite large again!! May it stay so...

Enjoy your day...take care!

A long weekend...

January 16th, 2007 at 01:05 pm

My husband is recovering from a yucky stomach illness (won't go into detail.) He's still home today from work, as is my youngest from school, who woke up with stomach pains (so far, she's not going the route of my husband.) Preschool was off today, so I cleaned and disinfected around the two, and did the requisite laundry. I also put a pot roast in the crockpot for dinner, though there may two less for dinner.

I spent a little time checking out some accounts online. I spent a lot of time sorting through the receipts and tax stuff, cleaning out the old papers, and making room for the new and upcoming.

I also mounted two bulletin boards above my two youngests' beds (no tape on those newly painted walls!) And I re-hung the fireplace grate from my parents' house in the archway between the dining and living room. We painted the dr and lr in September, and are obviously not rushing in putting things up on the wall - ha! (I know it's a funny sentimental thing - but it's pretty and ornate, and I couldn't stand the thought of it being demolished with the house, or worse, finding it at our local JunkMarket.)

Went grocery shopping for the two weeks on Saturday. Whew! We're ready for steady sailing (barring any more stomach issues!)

Take care!


January 8th, 2007 at 12:43 pm

Back to work today - it was good to see the kids, and get back on schedule. It took 20 minutes to get 16 preschoolers in snow gear, but very worth it, as the day is sunny and warm. A perfect winter day!

Started in on the paper pile on my desk this weekend. This is a work in progress...then I'll tally up my deductions for itemizing.

Soon I'll put a ham in the oven - not my favorite, but we got it free. I also enjoy having the leftovers, which I'll cut up and package for future use in soups, scrambled eggs, and other dinner recipes. We're not big ham eaters, so a ham lasts us quite a while.

Take care!

Plans for the weekend

January 5th, 2007 at 01:13 pm

Got back from the staff luncheon. Very fun and relaxing, plus I have some extra salad that we can eat tonight and tomorrow.

This weekend looks pretty quiet, schedule-wise. I'm planning to really go over our financial stuff - the yearly checkover. (Oh, and I'll actually file the papers on my desk, and gather the tax items from my to-do list of a couple days ago. Gosh, never enough hours in the day...)

I need to look at our 401K, as we're ready to increase our contribution rate. We're contributing a little bit above the company match, but I've noticed some people feel that it may be better to invest elsewhere once the match is met. Hmm, I need to take some time to research this.

I would also like to check into a computerized way to look at my expenditures. I use the paper and pencil way, which works for me, but is slow and laborious. I need something that is cheap or free, but extremely simple to use, as I have limited time and ability on the computer.

I better get to it...take care!

'tis Time to Be Back

January 2nd, 2007 at 07:23 pm

Has it been forever, or what?!

I have been reading everyone's blogs all along, though, just not blogging myself. I think the reason for it was a combination of lack of time to collect my thoughts in a coherent, readable manner, plus a lack of something new to say (I was boring myself!) I'm not sure I won't start repeating myself again as I blog, but I do know I miss it. Reading about everyone's financial feats is great, but participating in the blogs is even better!

So on to something financial... We are on surer ground than we were a year ago. The credit card has not been used in a very long time, and though there is still a balance, it's heading in the right direction. The cushion remains in the checking account, and there is an EF (ready to be bulked up a bit more this year.) Christmas was cash and kept to a reasonable amount. I have some goals and directions in my head, and will soon get them recorded here.

So, as many here have already stated... 2007 has the making of something wonderful! Happy New Year to us all!!

Busy day in a busy week

August 17th, 2006 at 04:22 pm

What a busy week! I started our 'Ready,set, Kindergarten' class this week. It's exciting to see my former preschool kids proudly doing what Kindegarteners do. I've also been receiving bags of pass-along clothes from some of my coworkers - my girls look forward to my return each day!

After work today, I got a chance to go over my summer paychecks (I was waiting for my 8-15 one.) I finally figured out that I received all the hours I was supposed to, but on different checks and different pay periods. Confusing...but glad I didn't have to march into the payroll office, and glad to have the pay, for sure!

I took my oldest to one of her medical appts today. Being there three to five times a week, I take care to pay our co-pay and get a receipt each and every time. Just before our camping trip, I had received a bill for a sixty day old co-pay charge. I asked about it today, and it was in error, so our account is cleared. Yay!

It's nice to get two more things cleared off my eternal to-do list! I even visited my mom after the medical appt. She's doing well (only one call from the nurses on our vacation!) Conversation is still strange, but it's not so shocking as it used to be. Mom laughs a lot and keeps on talking, so no harm (and it's nice to be reminded of things from her childhood.) I'll need to be the keeper of my own childhood memories now. Well, on to dinner duty...take care!

The cicadas came too early...

August 3rd, 2006 at 09:35 am

As I was hanging my laundry out on the line this morning, I noticed the relentless thrumming of the cicadas. Yikes! August is here, and that sound always sets me on edge about summer's end.

Did we get enough swimming time in, enough camping, and playing outside? Is our skin freckled and tanned, our hair naturally highlighted by the sun? Have I even heard one of the girls say she was bored yet this summer?! Still enjoying the summer....

Yet, I'm feeling compelled to create endlessly long lists of what chores should get done while the weather is still warm. Get to those back to school sales, outfit those girls! Gulp - check on the snow gear, because it's in the stores now, and on sale. Going through the closets, checking on what we need, donating what we don't.

Stupid, stupid cicadas, you came too early! I'm NOT listening...

So, how does this relate financially?? Well, I may not like thinking about the dumb cicada, and what their constant buzzing means, but I can't really ignore it. The season will change, the cold weather will arrive. Will I be ready??

Sometimes financially waiting things out is good, but other times situations warrant being prepared. As I store up warm weather memories, I must be practical and start in on that long chore list, bit by bit. I'll be in a panic if the sumac starts turning red, and I haven't made a little dent in the list. Take care!

Bit by Bit...

July 10th, 2006 at 11:28 am

I managed to accomplish a bit on Sunday. I went through all the bills and balanced the checkbook. Papers got filed!

I charted our meds, after finding the price had changed since the last time I looked at the online Rx cost calculator for my insurance. Some meds are cheaper to buy monthly at our local pharmacy, and some are cheaper to do through mail order. We're up to eight meds being filled, but it was getting to be a muddled mess. So now, I have a better handle on it all. And it turns outs that I will pay a slight bit less by filling one med locally.

Getting a handle on things helps with the finances so many times. Lots of loose ends taken care of - very nice to cross off my to-do list. Take care!

Steady Course

June 25th, 2006 at 12:43 pm

Hanging out the laundry again. Recuperating after my youngest's birthday sleepover with her friends Friday night, and then having the extended family birthday bbq for three of the girls. Their birthdays are within a six week period, which we call our 'birthday season'. We survived!

Financially, we're maintaining a steady course. Not anything too interesting to write about, though. Well, no complaints on my part - everyone's pretty happy, and we're all enjoying our summer (lots of free, fun things to do!)

Enjoy the rest of the weekend...take care!

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