5 Things Friday

  1. Today is County Swim meet for the older (11 and above).  This is Lily’s last year as a swimmer. It is also the first time ever that all three kids have swam in the older day.  Several times we have been on vacation or the girls were at Life (a youth conference).
  2. Summer Goals- I have 40 prepared dinners in the freezer. At least 50 individual breakfast meals and 4 individual lunches.  This makes me happy. Especially since our tomatoes have not came in as expected.
  3. We, especially Matt have spent alot of time cleaning and organizing this week. He was able to complete the top of his building which is a huge effort.  Yesterday, he spent most of the day, removing all items and building new shelves in the dining room closet. This made a huge difference. I am waiting on a couple of basket but will plan to insert a picture of the final project later.
  4. I have four more weeks before returning to work.  We are planning on a weekend trip to Atlanta for a baseball game but I hope to also enjoy lots of pool and nothing time!
  5. We are doing really well in the area of budgeting!   I am so proud that we have been able to stock up but stay on budget!

Sunday Catch Up

The last three weeks have been hard. A constant struggle to keep a good mental attitude along with the additional stress of financial responsibilities have made things easier to leave unsaid until I could process.

I am hopeful that we are through most of the unknown and can now work on getting the financial part taken care of.  This is hopefully one of a couple of post in the next week to catch up with where we are at.  This post will focus on the medical side of things along with financial cost.

Matt had surgery on Valentine’s Day to remove a known basil cell cancer spot from his cheek. We knew that there was a strong possibility that future surgeries may be necessary.  Unfortunately, it was confirmed on February 16th that they did not get all of the cancer. We returned on March 22nd and were given four options.  After much thought and pray, Matt decided to undergo a second surgery. This surgery came with greater risk including nerve damage and facial weakness, along with the same knowledge that the surgeon may not be able to remove all the cancer cells. This second surgery occurred on March 8th.  My God is the great physician with the results a complete success, all the cancer has been removed AND no weakness or nerve damage!  This surgery is not the very end as Matt has another spot on his shoulder that will need to be removed this year. The surgery has also highlighted high blood pressure that will also likely require medical intervention this year as well. We have been discussing both of these needs and will attempt to address in a timely manner, but we also are trying to be good stewards of our money as well.

Matt does not have medical insurance.  His current employer does not offer it.  We have checked into having him on my insurance, but the rate is $400 a month.  He also checked into purchasing through the marketplace, but those rates are between $600 and $900 a month.  We knew going into both surgeries that we would be financially responsible.   Each surgery cost around $4200 with additional expenses we currently have medical bills at around $9500.   Obviously, these are not items that I had on my mind with our 2023 budget.

We also have been surprised by a $400 tax/ tag bill for the Tahoe. Although it is small it also adds to my financial stress.

So what does this mean financially for us.

We did not want to cancel our Disney Trip nor our annual beach trip.  I am determined to keep enjoying the kids over the next 2-6 years before we become empty nesters!  We have decided to increase our debt load over the next year.  This was not an easy decision and one that some people will not agree with however we decided and will continue to work toward our end goals.

One of the steps that I am taking is to continue to eat out of our freezers and pantry, I am also going to become even more diligent on not wasting food.  We currently have not spent any of our grocery budget for the month, instead used credit card points to purchase needed items. Although the pantry challenge is official over, my goal is to limit the budget as much as possible until June. More details of what we are eating will be given in my Monday Menu plan.

I had already decided not to purchase any additional seeds or plant starts this year. This is now even more important than ever.  I am planning to do a post this week with a garden update including current plans and dreams. A chicken update should be included with this as well.

We are re-evaluating all expenses and seeing where that we can reduce our spending.  I am not sure that we are prepared to make some of those sacrifices and if we decided to keep things the same we will continue to work at paying down debt and enjoying life at the same time.

Hope you will hang around for the journey!

December Catch up!

It has been 16 days since I last posted a blog. I am not sure but that may have been the longest that I have gone without posting ever.   The last two and a half weeks have been full of fun with some sickness throw in to make things interesting.

Lily and I really enjoyed our short girls trip to Disney for four days.  I am going to try and get up a post with some more details but things are moving fast and furious as the end of the year approaches quickly.

The week before our trip, on Sunday (December 11) I made a visit to Urgent Care with a sinus infection.   By Friday of that week I was some better but fighting face pain which was thought to be a bacterial infection.  On the plane trip down to Disney, I started with  a cough. Full blown yuckiness occurred on both Wednesday and Thursday of our trip.  We arrived home late Thursday night and I tested positive for the flu on Friday.

Haley and her family arrived on Friday.   I actually felt some better on Christmas Eve which was spent at the Fire Department with the Youngs. Christmas Day was at home with Haley’s David responsible for the meal.

As on today Monday December 26th, I have a lingering cough but we managed to get Family pictures, a trip to Winston and the camper under a tarp so  things are starting to look up!

Tuesday Thoughts on Christmas

Thanksgiving and Christmas are my two favorite holidays!   I love celebrating with lots of food, family and fun.   This year, I am excited not only for food, family and fun but also a Disney trip and family pictures!  This trip is a combination birthday and graduation trip for Lily.  It is a girls only trip that includes flights in both directions!

In the past, I have always begun buying Christmas gifts in January and honestly by this time most years I am pretty close to finishing up the shopping.  Lots and lots of gifts are usually a party of this holiday. I can even recall a Christmas where the girls each opened a gift every day in the month of December. This year is different.  I started thinking and talking about how I wanted to give gifts last year. My kids are all teens and older which means they have very expensive taste. They also have all been able to save and purchase expensive items during the year.  We are also a family that enjoys traveling.  In the past year, we have been on a trip to Oak Island, two trips to Myrtle Beach, a trip to Asheville and 2 trips to Disney.   During each of these trips, I have enjoyed buying items for the kids both needed and wanted.   How does this relate to Christmas?  I made the decision that instead of buying alot of gifts, or even buying large items that I would prefer to use money for more trips and entertainment.  For the kids at home, Lily, Zach and Kendall, they each will receive one Christmas present.  We already have a weeklong trip planned to Disney at Easter and a weeklong trip planned for Oak Island in July.  Zach and Kendall are both involved in sports, and I have been willing and able to purchase items above and beyond the requirements.  Things such as hoodies and pants with fancy mascots and such.  For Lily, she has lots of graduation items, extra clothing and a extra Disney trip.   Amanda has requested and will receive season pass for her family to the zoo.  Haley’s family decided they would enjoy a trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.    These gifts are all great options and things that I would normally not give at Christmas but sometimes simpler is better.

I LOVE family pictures!   I will always treasure the last set of family pictures taken in November 2016 with my dad’s death in February 2017.  I am still not ready and don’t know that I will ever be ready for “Young Family Pictures” again.  I am grateful that my mom understands and respects this. But I am ready and excited about my family pictures. The last time we have pictures made Braxton was 4 weeks old.  We have added Haley’s entire family and Braxton is 4.  The plan is for pictures over Christmas when everyone is here.  I was able to purchase all the boys’ shirts at Belk’s!   This is going to be awesome.

Christmas and Thanksgiving both look different this year, but I am excited for simple and less gifts!



Saving on Saturday

A Saturday at home, yes this is a treat.  We decided to go ahead and get ahead on some projects around here, so it was not a leisurely Saturday.

Matt took the pressure washer to the back deck. We will need to purchase a water sealer to place on it but it does look much better, and it is still structurally sound so we will continue to use what we have.

I am really enjoying my electric pressure canner and have started to get a good stockpile of items.  We still have tomatoes ripening on our cabinet from the garden and I am determined to use what we have and waste as little as possible. I decided to venture out today and make enchilada sauce. I started by dicing and cooking all the tomatoes that were on the cabinet.  Which produced 4 cups of tomato sauce!  This was enough to make a double batch of the recipe that I had.  It turned out perfect, I have a batch of chicken enchiladas in the fridge for a meal this week and canned up 4 half pints so that should be another 4 meals!

I have been researching pressure canning meat. One of the benefits is having it shelf stable in case the power were to go out.  Another benefit for us is that with it being canned it will be in the house instead outside in the cold.  We (Matt and I ) decided to tackle this project.  I defrosted 25 pounds of hamburger meat from the freezer, Matt cooked it on the Blackstone!  I currently have 13 quarts and 2 half pints of ground beef that is shelf stable.  Th e next project will be to make taco meat and can it but first I want to use up what is in the freezer.

A final saving money thought is that we are actually using the food in our freezer and pantry. I can actually see a difference even without the canning which is not using but moving around.  My goal is to keep the grocery budget for both November and December below $400 which is half of the normal.

Thursday Thoughts

  • The chickens have officially moved outside!  We made the move yesterday. We did install a temporary door that has to be manually opened and closed. I actually went out at 6:28am this morning to open the door. Lily also went down and helped them exit the coop this morning.   We did decide to order and install an automatic door that should arrive in the next couple of weeks.  This will allow us to open and close the door remotely once the chickens have learned to go into the coop each night.  The expense of the chicken has finished increasing, I hope. I did use a gift card to order the outdoor chicken feeder. I spent $32 on a watering container and the door was $99.   Again, this confirms that these are pets.
  • Today is my last day of summer break.  I did a couple of errands, including having the Tahoe cleaned and attempted to mow the yard but managed to get the mower stuck. We all have haircuts this evening as well.
  • My plan is to make a couple of batches of stuffed peppers today. One for next week and one will be placed in the freezer for future use. I also want to try a batch of tomato soup just to see if it will turn out.  I also have a couple of new recipes for dinner as well. Sounds like a lot of cooking so we will see how it goes.  Yesterday after cooking most of the summer, I ordered pizza for the first time all summer.
  • I am actually kind of excited to go back to work and get in a regular routine again!

5 Things Friday

  1.  Shout out to myself!  This is the 8th day in a row that I have posted! And the 5th post for the month of August on the 5th!
  2. I am finally feeling back to normal this week which means I am starting to catch up on all the things I planned to do this summer!  This really does help my mood and energy level to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  3. We are continuing to harvest from the garden! This week, I planted some pumpkins and have hopes to start a fall garden including lettuce and spinach in the next couple of days!  We are also starting to plant some things in the chicken coop area which will make it both pretty and functional!
  4. I have been wanting to list things on Marketplace and Ebay all summer and today was the official day to complete. I have 5 active listing on Ebay and 7 on Facebook marketplace. I know we have at least 2 additional listing to make on Marketplace tonight.  The goal for this clean out is $250 to purchase a pop-up sunshade for beach use next year.
  5. The chickens are continuing to grow. We have turned off the heat light. The book we have been following said to start decreasing their constant temperature by 5 degree this week. The set point would be 75*. The air in our house is currently set at 74 for the day and 72 at night.   So we decided to go ahead and try without the lamp.  They did great last night so I am going to continue. We also are trying to get them outside at least a couple of hours a day right now. I hope to move to daytime outside next week with full time outside the next week.  Because it is summertime, this is a much quicker and easier process. Even when going outside full time the plan is to have them in a coop each night just to start that training process. A very sad update, this afternoon one of the chickens (Gummy) died.  We had been watching her closely today as she moved to the corner and was sleeping.  Not quite sure why it happened but we cleaned and cleaned the cage so hopefully this will be the only lost.

Thursday Thoughts

This is supposed to be our least busy week of the summer. The reason for this is simple.  I had outpatient surgery on Monday.  I wanted to give myself a full week to recover and this has turned out to be a positive thing.   I did not leave the house after returning on Monday until this morning.

Today, I had to take Lily to the orthodontist office in order to get a new top retainer made. This was an expensive process.  Hopefully, this will be the final time it needs to be completed. Lily lost her retainer while packing to come home from Oak Island last week.  When she received her retainers over two years ago, she was informed of the $35 fee to replace. She did pay this portion today but due to changes in technology it was $150 to replace the retainer today.

I also headed to the nail salon to get my manicure and pedicure today as well. I have been budgeting this for once every three weeks along with a dog grooming appointment every month.  I think this will definitely be items we keep in the budget.

The garden is starting to produce, and I am planning on an entire garden/food preservation update for tomorrow.

We purchased a small chest freezer that was delivered this week. This is actually going to be kept in our dining room and used as our convenient freezer. It has items such as chicken nuggets, waffles and pancakes. We have been able to move and arrange the other freezers so that we have one large chest freezer that is empty.  It is currently defrosting and will be cleaned and ready for our cow that is currently being processed.

Our awesome friends provided an awesome dinner last night which was greatly appreciated.

We have purchased the final 27 pavers needed to complete the chicken coop. The goal is to get the pavers placed and the top of the coop finished on Saturday so that we can possibly get chickens in the next week.

I am looking forward to not leaving the house again until Sunday to go to church!