Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Tradition

Our tradition, since the year Kaelin came home, is to dress in pjs and take a picture in front of the tree for our Christmas cards.  Only one year did we use a different photo instead and I kind of regret it.  It's kind of fun to look through these pictures and see how the kids have changed.  Meanwhile, I was trying to test my flash and Chase was nice (weird) enough to sit in front of the tree for me....then he pulled Jaemin in too.

But, first this is the kind of boy Jaemin is growing into; a corny, funny, little guy with a sense of humor.  Much like Chase....goofy!







Then, we took the real pictures.  This picture won the prize for landing on our card.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Another one of those spurts where















it's so busy I can't just take one single second to blog.  It was one of those weeks (maybe it's been 2 since I last blogged?) where I was doing good to get to and from work, home and get everything done at home that needed to be done.  It was probably mostly because hubby had to work 2 hours away 3 of the 5 days.  I was off Monday for Veteran's Day and got some advanced meals made and the kids in for their flu shots.  At least everyone but Cole.  He had wrestling, so he'll have to figure out a time to do it.  I was even a good girl and got a flu shot and pneumococcal.   The doctor said I can't keep getting pneumonia every year, so I'm trying it.

It just seems there's been so much to do.  Football's over and Cole can take himself to and from wrestling, but it just hasn't let us with homework etc.  I still find myself trying to teach Chase algebra from time-to-time.  He just doesn't get what his teacher says or at least not the way she says it.  I've been trying to shop for a laptop too.  The desktop hit it's last leg, but what do you expect at about 7 or 8 years old.  I was tired of trying to put more parts into it.  I'm donating what parts work to my mother-in-law's daycare.  They don't care if the internet doesn't work so great anymore, they just want to play games.  But, laptop shopping is so daunting and horribly painful.  We still have my old 7 year old laptop.  It works okay.  Better than the desktop, so it's our new desktop even if we have to duct tape the plug into the laptop so it doesn't lose power.  Battery's been dead for a long time you know.  My 2 year laptop just got a new battery.  Can't say enough for Anker's $35 batteries on Amazon.  The kids will be getting that one for home work use.  They really need something dependable at their ages.  With 1 in high school (and 1 to be) and 2 in middle school and 1 in a gift class there are nights when all computers are in use.  With this many kids you do have to have multiple.  Cole has his from Make-a-Wish thankfully, but after only 6 months the Toshiba decided to crash.  I restored it and we'll see how it holds up.  Thankfully, I'm pretty techy and can fix some things.  I finally found a little HP at Staples for $499.  I hate to spend a few hundred dollars, but the kids needed my laptop to work on and I need mine and sometimes even they borrow mine.

Then, I, unhappily, found out that Windows 8 doesn't take my Microsoft Office 2000 that we've been living on.  It's just SO expensive to buy a newer version.  Especially enough for all of our household users.  I talked to the guy at Staples and he said since I'm a government employee I should check if there are discounts and sure enough.  I got it for $23.  I live by my budgetary spreadsheets for our household.  I can't go without Excel. It's the only way this family survives. 

I am VERY happy with my HP so far.  I first ordered an Asus because they're supposed to be really good, but when Walmart got it I hooked it up and the spacebar didn't work right.  I couldn't deal with it and got this one for about $80 less!!  Huge money in this house.

Chase has been a very unhappy boy. The iPod he got for Christmas last year stopped holding a charge very well.  I called Apple and it was in warranty for 10 more days, so it's been replaced and should be redelivered tomorrow.  He's not happy that he was to reload everything, but what's your choice?  An iPod that doesn't work well or fix this one.  Uhhhhh?

This week Cole only has to work 2 days so he'll be home more....which is good and bad.  We had a great (our annual date) dinner with our co-November anniversary friends Friday which was great as usual.  This week Cole has his last orthodontic appointment and I have my physical.  Yuck.  I have to fast.  A little worried about my glucose test, but need to know.

I've started Christmas shopping!  Deep breath.  It's so stressful sometimes.  I gets lists from the 5 kids and divvy them out to their Godparents, grandparents or anyone who wants something.  I know about what most of their budgets are and this helps to make sure the kids get pretty much everything on their lists.  They're so lucky to have so many people that care about them and love them.  Of course, it helps that kids are so down to Earth.  Their lists are so great.  So many kids ask for these pie in the sky kind of gifts.  Mine ask for normal, everyday, things.  Chelsi is still slightly pie in the sky at 8 with her Barbie Dream House gift (not going to happen, it's WAY over budget).  But the other kids are almost hard to even get a list from.

Here are examples of the kind of lists I get:
Cole - speakers for his iPod, bore sight, charger cord, tshirt and Bass Pro gift cards
Chase - slingshot, replacement bands, dremel tool (for his carvings), woodburner (for his lure carvings), balsa wood, charger cord
Kaelin - bike, snow boots, charger, shoes, headbands, Mario Cart for Wii
Chelsi - dream house, webkinz, sled, headphones, flutterby fairy, stompeez
Jaemin - scooter

Jaemin's been difficult to convey the idea of a list.  He doesn't quite understand he can talk about things he wants.....he's kinda simple too. Scooter finally came out, so I will definitely find a way to get him a preschool scooter.  I made his additional list of legos and Monsters University DVD.  He loves Pororo, so I found a little Pororo table with a drawer that he can use to color in the living room.  He'll really like it.

The kids can make me so mad at them sometimes, but they're common, everyday kids that don't expect anything to be just given to them.  They're not entitlement kids that feel their entitled to anything except what they work for.  I love how tight Chase and Kaelin are with their money.  How careful they make every decision.  I see Cole getting to be more careful, but he's not quite so much.  I love that when I get something in my monthly shopping as simple as new socks they are thankful.  They know that every $10 can throw us off our budget some months.  They know we struggle to get something in savings and that that's why we're tight with our money.  We don't want to just spend it because it's there.  You never know when you'll need it.  They know were' saving all of our health savings money (I have it maxed out) to pay for Cole's $6,000 surgery.  I don't want that stress hanging over my head as I sit with him in the hospital.  I want to know we'll be able to pay for it without stressing.  Medical has become such a topic in this house with orthotics for Chase, prosthetics for Brian, Cole's annual cardiology, paying dental and vision totally out of pocket, let alone that looming surgery for Cole. Thankfully, we have insurance.  His surgery allowance alone will be $80,000 plus then we have to meet our $6,000 out of pocket max.  That's life.  It could be worse!  I just try to carefully set up appointments and get orthotics when deductibles are met so that maybe if by some stroke of luck we ever don't meet our deductible (doubtful) we will only have to pay $90 versus $500 for the prosthetics or orthotics.  Or keep Cole's cardiology fluxing between December and January so that if we meet our deductible with unexpected emergencies like we did this year I can move it to December so I only have to pay 20% instead of $1500.  It's a lot of careful scrutiny to decide how to work it so you can eventually save something.  I'm no where close right now.  We've emptied out my maxed out HSA every year since we've started.  I hope to pay ourselves back for Cole's braces early next year then I can focus on saving for his heart surgery.  That will cost a whole lot more than his braces did though, so I don't know how we'll pull that off.  We'll need a year or two of not meeting the deductible in order to do that.

I can hope.