Falling Apart

My son came home from school yesterday and paused at the door.  I found him hunched over and examining his shoe.  The sole was half detached, the other shoe was coming apart at the toe, and both were ripped inside.  The boy is hard on shoes.  Asked why he didn’t let me know the shape these shoes were in, he replied, “They weren’t that bad!”  I hope that it’s been firmly established that he needs to let me know when the first hole starts so we can get a pair to slide into place when the old ones fall to pieces.


Fast forward an hour to picking up DD1 after school.  She stayed late to work on a painting and to speak with another teacher about a project.  The painting is being done with oil paints, which apparently take days to dry.  She very carefully put the 2 foot by 4 foot canvas in the back (edges of the canvas are painted as well), then got in front.  That’s when I saw her sleeve.  Her formerly white coat had a large splotch of navy paint on it.  Later inspection showed small streaks on the back of her hood.  She is certainly my daughter.

Double sigh.

After dinner these two loaded into the car and we went shopping.  Fortunately there are still winter coats to be found, although the inventory is dwindling.  I had forgotten that I had an electronic coupon which pulled $15 off of my son’s shoes, and we got out of the store paying $50 for both the coat and the shoes.  DD1 is under orders not to wear the new coat until next season (except for a scholarship competition coming up).  She’s not finished with the painting, so I want to protect the new coat.  It’s been a while since there was paint on the majority of her clothing.

The worst of the paint-on-clothing period was junior high, which made DD2 incredibly happy.  It was the time period when she got the most new clothing vs. hand-me-downs.

It’s hard to be frugal when you live with an artist.

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Snow Days

This is our third snow day since last Tuesday.  Add to that the fact that my two public school kids had yesterday off.  DD2 didn’t mind going to her vet class, and it was probably good for her to be separate from her brother for the morning.  They tend to get along great for hours, then all of a sudden get annoyed with each other and it blows up.

I’ve taken each snow day as a day to watch tv before kids are up to ask a million questions and make two million comments.  I also don’t have a schedule to worry about in terms of getting ready, so I enjoy not watching the clock.  No reminding children that the bathroom is empty and waiting for them to brush their teeth or that we’ll be walking out the door in ten minutes.  No school lunches to pack.  Ah, bliss!

Waffles actually got made and put in the freezer this morning.  The kids have had to eat more store bought waffles this year, and I can tell that they’re sometimes frustrated by that, but the current situation is only for this school year.  It’s much like having a part time job without the pay.  Fortunately, DD2’s class is only three hours and I have been able to do things such as get gas, groceries, get the oil changed, and home school prep/correcting/etc.

The girls didn’t want a snow day.  DD1 is feeling the crunch of the approaching end of the semester and also of big projects due for IB.  DD2 likes days off, but gets tired of them and wants her routine back, especially as she loves the vet class.  DS gets bored but doesn’t always want to recognize that he’s bored.  It results in pestering his sisters.

I ought to bake some pumpkin bread for the kiddos, but a nap sounds awfully good right now.

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This is something I do a lot.  It can drive DH nuts how much I plan, and the kiddos have teased me about it here and there.  Planning ahead is something I enjoy, and it often ends up saving us a few dollars.

Right now I’m looking ahead to DD1’s graduation open house.  Our family isn’t likely to have too many representatives at the open house, so they aren’t my big consideration in making plans.  Our church family, however, makes graduation open houses quite a round of social events.  Thus, mainly for parking purposes, we’ve reserved the Fellowship Hall at our church.

An advantage other than parking, is that our church owns chaffing pan set ups, punch bowls, etc, which keeps our costs down.  Buying a few sterno burners is no big deal.  DD1 was instructed to keep her eyes open last year and decided she’d like a pasta bar.  I was so relieved!  It’s low cost, filling, and versatile.  We’ll offer tomato sauce, alfredo sauce, and meatballs.  This way each person can customize.  Our local grocery chain had pasta sauce on sale this week for the lowest price I’ve seen in a long time so I picked up several jars.

You have to be willing to gather and store items to get the best overall deals on events like this.

Pasta will be purchased when it goes on sale for $1 per one pound box. (Roughly once a month)  Parmesan prices will be watched for that purchase.

She wants s’mores dip with graham crackers.  Fortunately I found a huge amount of Christmas Hershey Kisses marked down to $1.19 per bag.  My son asked why I couldn’t just use the candy bars.  Ah, youth!  They have no clue what things cost and how savings can add up.

My daughter also requested a snack mix of Goldfish, Cheeze-It, and Whales.  One large box of Goldfish went into the cart.  I want two, but only got a sale price today, and would like to get the next box with both a sale and a coupon.

We’re also going to stack Oreo’s to look like a tiered cake, so I’m keeping my eye on their price.  I told DD that we’d use the cardboard from frozen pizzas for the base of each layer and she shot me quite a look of revulsion until I assured her that the cardboard would be cleared of food, then covered in foil.  I could purchase cardboard bases in the cake decorating supplies, but we’re trying to be frugal here.

I will probably make rolls ahead and freeze them, but haven’t decided if I have the time to spare.  Other foods have yet to be determined.

DD agreed to offering punch and water to drink.  That will keep it simple.  She knows she’ll be helping to get things prepared.

Basically, I will be watching for good sales on any of the ingredients which can be purchased ahead of time between now and June.  I want DD’s open house to be enjoyable firstly for her, and secondly for our guests.  I don’t, however, wish to end up broke.  College starts next fall, and another open house awaits us in June 2018.  We really didn’t think about the spacing between our kids carefully enough.

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Savoring the Moment

DD2, my sensory challenged child, who (this past October) had to leave the PSAT before it began due to anxiety, has placed high enough in a regional competition to go on to the state-wide competition.

This is a BIG DEAL!

This was a competition which she attended through her veterinary science class, and she went with her class and school mates.  I arrived at the competition site after her test started to avoid unintentionally ramping up her nerves.  I arrived after she was finished with her test and lunching with a classmate.  I let her know I was there and left her with her friend.  While waiting for the awards ceremony, I ran into a counselor and her two teachers, who all had glowing things to say about her and her journey since the beginning of the school year.

DD2 has matured this year.  She’s not finished with the journey to conquer Sensory Processing Disorder, that’s a life long journey.  My sensory issues – never diagnosed as no one thought about such things back then –  have gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, and I’m hopeful that DD2’s OT, counseling, and knowledge of SPD will work in her favor on that score.

I asked her how she feels in regards to taking the SAT (coming up in March), now that she’s successfully taken this high pressure test.  She’s feeling good about it.  The fact that she could even answer the question without a whiney “I don’t know” with a scrunched up face and a shrug of the shoulders was a victory in itself.

If your children are all “normal”, this may sound over-blown, but when sensory issues are a daily challenge for your child, just walking through a noisy building without problems can be cause for celebration.  Thank your lucky stars that you don’t hold your breath after sending your teen off to a stress-laden school activity/function/test, braced for the phone call that requests you to pick your child up early because they were too overwhelmed to complete whatever it was.

We are basking in this win.  My hotel reservations are already made.  The hotel where the competition will be is booked with the students, but I’ll only be about ten minutes away.  I won’t get to see DD2 very much, but my presence is important in case of meltdown, and in the very hopeful event of an even bigger win.

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Enjoying the Quiet

I’ve been up for almost two hours and everyone else is still in bed.  Part of me was annoyed that my body woke up at 6am, but the rest of me was glad to have the time alone.  I love being with my family, but also need time by myself.  Growing up, we lived in the country and there were only four houses on our mile stretch.  My sister was five and a half years older than me and consequently we didn’t hang out a lot, so I became quite comfortable with my own company and now time by myself is needed.

Family gatherings went well and this year we weren’t the first to leave.  We had two free nights in a hotel, so DH suggested we stay over and extend the visit.  There is only room for one family to stay at Mom’s comfortably so we usually just go for the day when my sister’s family is there.  Staying the extra time also allowed us to go to a nearby light display.  We used to go with my parents at Thanksgiving, but when Dad died, Mom changed her traditions to help get through the grieving so it’s been several years since we last went.

My youngest nephew was a bit less obnoxious, but still asking for “Presents?” as often as our four year old cousin(nephew is 12).  I can see the logical path that probably led my nephew to be so in-your-face annoying, but he’s still tough to be around.  His older brothers were his summer baby sitters – eight year age difference – and probably ignored him as much as they could.  My guess is that he had to be over the top to get their attention.  I’m sure he was in his brothers’ care as the most viable solution for summer care while both sis and BIL worked full time and weren’t rolling in cash, but I think the results are showing.  Hopefully he’ll mellow as time marches forward.

We got back from our brief visit yesterday afternoon, so laundry is going full tilt and this morning I need to go to the grocery store.  I was going to go first thing when I got up, but decided to wait and take the kids to shop with their gift cards.  It didn’t make sense to make two trips.  Two of the three kiddos got all of their thank you’s finished last night.  I may have to push the third a little as she’s luxuriating in being back home.  When they were really young, we had to threaten to send the gifts back a couple of times.  Writing isn’t easy for two of them, but writing thank you’s is too important to let slide.

I was noticing age catching up with my eldest aunt and I don’t like it.  She was stumbling as she came into Mom’s condo, and it just really struck me.  (Don’t you know that I’m still the youngest pest of a cousin with my older cousins still in high school?)  She’s 78 now, and on my Dad’s side his older brother is 81.  Time marches forward and it stinks to see.  My mom is 76, and I worry about her getting a major illness.  Losing my Dad was a blow – they were married 52 years – then my sister died two years later.  I don’t think she’d have enough fight in her to pull through something serious, even though she’s quite healthy.  DH pointed out that I should ask for a key to her condo, in case anything should happen and we need access.  (If she’s in the hospital and we need to get clothes for her, or a similar situation).

Today I also need to get DD2 doing schoolwork again.  She didn’t finish her work before break, so up through Christmas Eve I’d have her do one assignment a day.  She got Christmas through yesterday off and now needs to get back to it.  I don’t know what it is about this time of year, but she consistently falls behind in the December-January time frame.  The great thing about home school is that there are times when she can work ahead and get to a break early.  The stinker is that her teacher can enforce work through her break when needed.  I’m just giving her one assignment a day.  I want her to keep working to catch up while still getting the majority of her break.

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Developing Plan

While talking with DD1 yesterday, a story came up that I had written about 21 years ago.  DD1 asked what it was about, DH told her and she decided she wants to illustrate it.  I pulled it out (boy is it in need of polishing up!) and she got started.  DH suggested that we electronically publish it through Amazon and see if we can sell it to help cover her college costs.  He’ll be our IT guy (as he is in reality).

So, it looks like my daughter and I are creating a children’s book together.  It should be fun and it just might help pay for college.

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College Cost Woes

Word has come back from the two scholarship competitions attended thus far, and neither one came with a win.  There was a lot of competition – all worthy, but disappointing results for DD1 none the less.

The FAFSA seems to think we’re rolling in cash and can pay oodles for college with money left over to burn.  I don’t know where they’re coming up with that.  Maybe if we sell our house and take three or four extra jobs each.

The colleges tell us on their reports (based on the FAFSA) that we can take out loans to pay for college.  DD1 is also advised to take out $22,000 in loans for her education.

We’re talking about state university costs, not private schools.

DH and I have worked hard over the years to be financially responsible.  Every debt we’ve had has been paid off early.  We know the value of avoiding interest and in being debt free.  We’re nearly finished with our mortgage.  Again – we know the value of what we will have avoided paying.

We do not plan to be irresponsible and take on the equivalent of a brand new, first-time buyer amount mortgage so that our children can attend college.  We would be paying it off while in retirement, or very close to it.  We do not plan to borrow from our 401K.  (Please don’t cripple your retirement savings that way.)

DD1 has worked hard and has a 4.5 GPA, with the International Baccalaureate degree on her horizon.  If you have a child considering this route, think about it carefully.  I really wish she’d gone the AP route.  DH and I both tried to dissuade her in this pursuit.  We might actually see her in the evening beyond the space of time needed to eat dinner if she weren’t doing IB.  Also, I’m not seeing a whole lot of advantage gained by this route.  AP classes will gain respect and college credits too.

What really twists my knickers is when I think about our tax dollars going to give a free ride to children of illegal immigrants.  I am not against anyone receiving an education, I just have enough on my plate trying to figure out how we’ll meet the bloated educational costs for our own children.  We can’t afford to send our own children, but we’re expected to be happy to supply the funds for someone else.

What we have not told our eldest yet is that if hefty scholarships are not earned, she may have to commute to a local university, to which she has not yet applied.



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