I have a lot of stuff I want to get done today, but I also really wanted to check in since I realized it's been a couple months! Time both flies and crawls in the pandemic. It's the strangest thing.
Well first off the household except the kids is partially vaccinated! Our downstairs neighbors both got theirs, and when MN opened eligibility on 3/30 I started hunting. It took several hours but I decided to target my search at counties that had vaccinated at least 50% of their population, and I found a place 2.5 hours away that had appointments the next day. So on 3/31 I took a half day from work and NT and I drove 2.5 hours, got the shots, drove 2.5 hours back. We have the Moderna so we'll have to go back in 4 weeks unless we can find a second shot closer to home. By 4/14 the first dose's preventive benefits will be in play and on 4/28 we become eligible for a second shot, so hopefully by 5/14 we will be well protected.
By coincidence, AS was in the Johnson + Johnson trial and she went the same day to find out whether she'd gotten the real vaccine. Turns out she'd had the placebo, so they gave her the shot then. She had a horrible reaction, vomiting and other tummy troubles plus chills and hot flashes, but is feeling much better today. At least her shot was one and done! So she should be well protected by 4/14.
I've been really busy on my music website that I mentioned in my previous post, adventuresinamericana.com. We have a small audience but feels like it's building slowly but steadily. I have more musicians reaching out asking to be interviewed and I keep finding new albums and new artists, so there's no shortage of content. I could probably write more than one post a week and still have plenty of topics, but I feel like it's already taking time away from other stuff, so I don't want to go there just yet, as fun as it is.
I haven't spent as much time on my other hobbies--writing fiction, self-publishing it, songwriting and guitar playing--but I give them a bit of time every week at least. I wrote a new song about a month or two ago and am slowly revising a third novel to eventually self-publish.
I started a weight loss journey in January to take off the pandemic gain (about 10 lbs.), and it was going well until the insurrection. My weight went back up and I haven't made any progress since then. I lose a few and then gain them back, over and over. Just having trouble getting enough walking in my work-from-home routine mainly, I think.
We are still talking with our contractor about the kitchen and things are plodding along at a slow and erratic pace. We got AC installed but that was handled through a different company. The city has approved our kitchen plan, and we've picked out our new window type and cabinet finish, but we need to pick flooring, countertops and backsplash, and we're waiting on something else as well from our contractor (can't remember what). We still need to choose appliances as well but we did decide we're going with stainless steel this time. We didn't want to do that when the kids were younger but they're a bit less likely to mess it up as much now that they're 9 and 11! But I still have no idea of the timeline, start date or overall cost of the renovation yet. The big picture cost estimate a couple years ago (yeah, this has been going on that long!) was $60K-$80K but I have no idea how that's changed as time has gone by and our plans have gotten more specific. We have about $35K saved up (plus a $10K emergency fund and we add about $1000 per month to reno savings) and I applied for a $50K HELOC, so hopefully we will be fine.
The kids have been back in school since mid-February and even with social distancing/masking requirements and some upheaval of being shuffled around as teachers and other families adjust plans, they're so much happier and better-adjusted. There's only been one COVID scare there and it was this week; I took the potentially exposed kid for a test and it came back negative in less than 24 hours. (It was doubtful whether she was actually exposed but we didn't want to take any chances.)
Music shows are starting to be scheduled, mainly outdoors, limited-ticket and socially distanced. I'm so happy to have tickets to several concerts--I've missed that more than almost anything!
Spring break has begun for the kids, so we're heading to a rental home for a week starting tomorrow. We were going to road trip to a new state (Iowa maybe) but with cases rising, MN doesn't want people traveling out of state so we got a place in southern MN. We're driving there with a rental car and don't plan to interact with anyone indoors outside of gas, groceries and takeout food. We'll continue the cautious behavior that has worked for us so far at home. We just wanted a change of scenery!
My job is still going, somehow; I'm not nearly as busy as before the pandemic but there seems to be enough work to keep me for a while longer at least. I've adjusted to remote work and hope to reap the benefits of being able to work from anywhere once the world opens back up. NT doesn't have a full time job but he's been working part time to stretch his unemployment benefits and that's going well. AS is making good self-employed income. Both of them are eyeing full time jobs; NT a remote position with a company that's very similar to the one that laid him off but supposedly with better work life balance (no international tasks that require him to be awake at all sorts of weird times). AS is going to apply for a high-level publishing job that would be a step up from any title she's held before but that she's well qualified for. So we'll see about both of those. If they don't pan out, I do think our current employment is serving us well. Once unemployment runs out, NT would just need to find a bit more part time work to keep us at the current level. That seems doable. I think he could pick up virtual admin assistant work quite easily because he excels at that. Plus, we might get that child tax credit monthly thing if that happens, which will also help.
What else? Pets, family and friends are doing well. Our only loss during the pandemic has been our good friend's dog (who we loved), and that was of old age.
Our tax guy is backed up (and we didn't send our packets until early March) so we have no idea what taxes will look like this year. We have a bunch of money set aside and hopefully that will cover it.
I haven't checked our net worth or retirement accounts in a while. It's all just kind of on autopilot; I make quarterly contributions to AS's SEP, I'm setting aside money from NT's income to eventually open maybe a SIMPLE for him, I'm still doing the 401(k) through my work (though no matching benefits anymore), and we're on track to max out Roths.
I guess that's it! Sorry I haven't been posting as much but I do keep up on everyone's blogs pretty regularly.