Another One Bites the Dust

Labor Day weekend starts now for me (Thanks to my office for closing early on long weekends!)… and with this weekend we say goodbye to August, and summer…

…. AND goodbye Stafford Loan 1-02 !!!
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That’s right, another loan, paid off (pause for happy dance) !!! Man, does that feel good!

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21 Month Progress

  • Starting Debt: $41,868.53 (Nov  ’12)
  • Debt Today: $16,916.93
  • Total Debt Paid Off: $24,951.00

In less than 2 years, I’ve paid off almost $25,000 in debt!  And I made a nice dent in the next loan on my list to knock off… made for a pretty good month financially – check it out:

August Review

  • Starting Balance: $18,917.17
  • End Balance:  $16,916.93
  • Paid Towards Loans: $2,066.83
  • Interest Paid: $66.36
  • Principle Paid: $2,000.47

Yeah, that’s right, I put over TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS towards loans this month – woo hoo!  That’s the most I’ve ever put in during a normal month (no additional income like tax return).  And if you look at my monthly expense analysis from my bank account, I wasn’t super frugal either – we spent quite a bit on entertainment:  I got Avery a new bike and big boy underpants (oooo potty training!), we went on a couple dates, and ate out a few times.

Expense Analysis August

Next month, I’ll feel the repercussions from our vacation (pictures coming soon!) and have a few bills to pay from that, so I don’ expect to top this next month.  Plus, we’re taking a fall, adults only, vacation weekend in Salem, MA, which will need to be paid next month, so those expenses will show next month.

I’ll stay on my high for now though, because, look how close I am to my goal!!

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Red = goal, Blue = loans remaining to be paid

If I keep it up (which I plan to!), I’m projected to get these all paid off by May of next year… 8 months to go!!!

Loan Pay Off Plan

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So, the plan is to chip away at Loan 1-01 (highest interest loan) for the next 4 months: $1500 a month extra to this and it’ll be gone in December!  Then like dominos, they will fall: in January I’ll knock off Loan C (next highest interest), February will be Loan B, March I’ll kick Loan A with my tax return (anticipated to be around $3,000, if not more), April Loan 1-04, and May Loan 1-03. Done!

I was never a patient person, and maybe I can thank Motherhood for the absurd amount I have now.  This has been a LONG process.  It’s taken hours of planning, budgeting, number crunching, and tons of patience. But I’ve kept my long term goals in mind to keep me motivated.  I know that when this is all said and done, It’ll feel soooo good to be debt free, and then I can start my journey to save and build a house for Avery and I – a house he can call home, forever.  We will finally have our roots, our friends and family nearby, and an amazing community to be a part of.  I’ll finally have the relief, as a mother, that I’ve set a good foundation for him to grow up safe, happy, and healthy.

Enjoy the long weekend – we will – We have a fun weekend planned: two parties, Avery’s first theater movie, fishing, and tonight… a double date, bowling!

<3 Meghan

Check out my About Meghan page for more posts on finances and paying off my student loans.

The Great Pearly Whites

Avery had his FIRST dentist appointment today, and he was a model patient!

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After we moved to VT, among the paperwork involved in moving, I setup Avery’s doctor and dentist.  He’s almost 3, so he was due for his first dentist appointment.  As a parent, I was worried Avery would be scared and the receptionist on the phone warned me that it may take two visits to accomplish the cleaning because kids are antsy and scared.  So, I got all my ducks in a row, planned for the best, but prepared for the worst.

Avery has been brushing his teeth since he was able to, first just at night, and more recently in the morning too.  I don’t let him have juice during the week, and he is limited on sweets for just treats and deserts.  So, I was confident that his teeth would look good – I was just worried about how he would react to all the poking and proding and having to sit in a chair for a long period of time.

The day before and morning of, I told Avery about the dentist and talked it up, telling him how he’s going to show the dentist his big teeth and overall just making it sound like a fun experience.  No parent wants their kid to be scared of the dentist and seeing as even as adults we dread going, it was a strong possibility.

So, they fit us in at 10am this morning, which meant I was up at 6am working in the office getting in some early hours so I could take a long break to take Avery to the dentist.  It didn’t make sense to bring Avery to school, and pick him up an hour later to bring him to the appointment, so after Avery got up and had breakfast, he hunkered down in the office with me while I worked for an hour more before the appointment.
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We got to the dentist’s office early, so we mozied in, watching the horse and cat in the field next door.  Avery found out later the cat’s name is Mike and he visits the dentists during the day although he lives next door.

I filled out a form while Avery watched the fish, read a book, and he started to get antsy so he watched a couple minutes of Thomas the Train before we got called in.  Avery kept asking where the doctor was, and I explained how they would come out and call his name and we would go in.

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The hygienist came out and Avery followed her in and sat himself up on the dentist chair, all by himself.  He was all smiles and looking around checking everything out.  The hygienist was so nice – she explained all the tools, the moving chair, the light, her mask and glasses.  Avery sat quietly, watching her intently with her eyes.  He got a purple bib and was ready to be checked out!

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I stood up in the corner of the room so Avery could see me.  The hygenist asked Avery to open his mouth… and nothing. (Mommy panic…. quick think of something!)  So, I opened my mouth, showing Avery what to do (We mimic eachother and practice making different emotion faces, so it was worth a try).  And it worked – Avery opened his mouth.  The hygenist counted his teeth – she had a pointy tool which Avery gave a worried look to, so to distract him I held up my fingers for him to see as she counted his teeth.  I almost ran out of fingers too… 10 teeth on the bottom, and 10 on top!

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She said he didn’t have any cavities, his teeth looked very clean, and he has good spacing for the big teeth to grow in when they come.  He has one decay spot on a tooth but she said the tooth was formed like that, probably from medication when he was really little (He had thrush and pneumonia when he was little, so maybe that).  Next, she cleaned his teeth.  She asked Avery to pick a flavor of tooth paste… cherry, bubble gum, grape….no response.  So, I put it in Avery terms… “would you like red, pink, or purple tooth paste?”  He picked purple and did great with the automatic brushing thing and the water and suction things too.  She even flossed his teeth, which she says we don’t have to do just yet, but sometimes we can try it to get him used to it.  Avery and I gave eachother thumbs up thru the whole thing – he was such a trooper!

The dentist came in after the cleaning and confirmed the same thing the hygienist had said, and after he left, Avery says “All done?” with a smile.  He pointed to his ears and said “My ears now?!’ and we all laughed and I explained that they check just teeth at the dentist and the doctor will check his ears when we go see his doctor.

He picked out a toy and a new toothbrush – Lightning McQueen… which is awesome because we have a Mater one that Avery keeps asking where Lighting is, now we have him too! Avery was one proud kiddo walking out with his bag of goodies waving bye to everyone.
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Avery is setup for another appointment in 6 months.  Until then, we’re told to just continue what we are doing.  As a Mom it was a big relief knowing I’ve taught him to brush his teeth well and not fed him too many treats, and he was such a model patient that just made me all warm and fuzzy inside, especially when he kept getting praised for how well he did.

One proud Momma today ;)

And I won’t spare the less glorious portion of the day when Avery threw a fit in the car just before we got to daycare because he wanted to go home and I had to leave him crying and the teacher practically had to pry him off me because he wouldn’t let go.  But I had Joey check on him 10 minutes later and he was settled in for his nap and doing just fine.  He’ll have a fun afternoon with his friends.  Overall, a success! Next stop is Avery’s 3 year checkup with the doctor in a month.

<3 Meghan

Family Reunion ’14: Disco

Valyou Family Reunion 2014 was Groovy, Baby!

For our 19th Annual (yea, seriously – next year is the big 20!) Family Reunion, the extended family met up for another fun-filled weekend at the Grange Center in Brookfield, VT.

We arrived Friday afternoon, setup the camper, and joined the usual crew by the fire.

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Although we hadn’t seen most everyone for a year, Avery wasn’t one bit shy.  He made his rounds around the fire visiting with everyone, especially his buddy, Jim.

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He played a little cornhole…

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Oh, and hydrated!

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When the sun went down, Avery was sooo excited to sleep in his camper bed:

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Avery had his camo sleeping bag he got from Uncle Michael Eyes and Grampy thought to make him a cozy bed like this, and was Avery thrilled!

Saturday was a busy busy day!  We started the morning after breakfast… we took a walk down to the old floating bridge (it’s now under construction.  You can see it in its glory days in years past reunions here and here).  When we got back, the slip and slide was out, so we joined in!
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We had so much fun!  Avery was really into it.

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He had on his serious face every time we went down….

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But as soon as it ended, he jumped up and asked to do it again!

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After we were covered in bubbles and grass and mud, we took showers and enjoyed some games around the field…

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We played and watched cornhole.

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Then we joined the group at the campfire…

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Avery played peek-a-boo with my cousin Amy (she’s very animated, as you can see) – Avery was in stitches laughing at her.

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Then it was off to the duck race!  If you aren’t familiar, we put ducks in a river, they float down and the first to the finish, wins!  Everyone buys their ducks ahead of time, winner gets 50% of the pot and the rest goes to our reunion fund.

Avery was so excited for the duck race….

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He actually passed out in the car on the way there and missed the whole thing!

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This year, we added 100 more ducks, making 300 available to purchase.  I think 100 kids ducks and 250 adult ducks took the ride down the river this year.

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Joey and Grampy helped catch them as they came in.

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The rest of us watched from above.  The winner of the adult race gets to bring home a trophy too… I was lucky enough to win it two years ago and it sat atop a shelf in my living room for a year and since it was a gold spray painted wine bottle with a duck on top, it was a good conversation starter.

Back at the grange, Avery had some snacks while he was groggy from his nap and I played cards with my cousins.

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Avery, in the meantime, tried some badminton…

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And crocket…IMG_2432

Then it was time for the big Saturday Night Dinner…

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They had food that was popular in the 80s: SpaghettiOs, Doritos, Hamburger Helper, and Pudding Pops!

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We all changed and came back for the disco event!IMG_2438

I spent a couple nights the weeks prior making our costumes…

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I hadn’t touched a sewing machine since highschool.. so over 10 years!  I raided my Nana’s sewing room and found the perfect pattern for a shirt for Avery.  I just used one of his T shirts as a guideline.

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The hardest part was the vest, with fringe!

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I used a vest pattern from my Nana that was too big and sized it down a bit.  It took a while, but it was real suede, so it looked really nice when I was finished.

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I love dressing up for our reunion themes, but it can be pricy, so my goal was to make something cheap (it was actually free!), and something Avery would actually wear… and he did!

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I made my costume from the same material, so we looked kinda cute.

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We only spent $20 on Joey’s wig, $6 on his sun glasses, $5 on his retro shirt (a GoodWill find), and $5 on peace sign necklaces (that we shared with all the little kids).  Three costumes for under $40 total, score!

Here’s a group shot of all of us dressed up.

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Avery won a goodie bag of prizes and  candy for his costume!

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Then it was time for games… we played Hollywood Squares.IMG_2452IMG_2453IMG_2454IMG_2455

And the final event… the piniata!IMG_2457

As always, my mom made it…. a disco ball!IMG_2466

The kids each took 3 shots at it, and after going thru everyone 3 times, it finally broke.

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Avery had fun hitting the piniata (he was the youngest again this year) first, and scrambling for candy.

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We ended the busy day by the fire.  Avery and Jimwere real good buddies.  Well, you would expect that after Jim took him on a bug hunt that afternoon!IMG_2484

We had a great time, especially Avery.  He was all smiles and laughs all weekend.IMG_2487

Next year is our 20th reunion… and I’m on the committee – so excited to start planning it!

We’re off on vacation next week in Lake George, NY.  We’ll be camping, going to Great Escape, and Joey and Sarah are coming too!  Yay vacation!

<3 Meghan

P.S. I mailed out Avery’s birthday invitations this morning… you’ll see them in the mail soon!  More details here.

 

 

This and That

I can’t believe we’re already on the tail end of summer!!!  July was a busy month… I only posted once a week, so to make up for it, here are 13 random happenings from the past month… a little of this and that…

1. We made Kale Chips.
IMG_2278They weren’t too bad.  My Mom can eat them like potato chips, but Joey and I could only stomach one each.  They are just so dense!  Yes, they are very good for you, but I’d rather have kale in my smoothie.  They are very easy to make tho – we picked the kale from the garden, cleaned them, added some oil and seasoning, cooked um, and ta-da, chips!

2. We went on a Bug Hunt!

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Avery, Grampy, and I walked around the house for bugs.

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We found some crickets, a slug, a moth, a centipede thing… oh and a snake!IMG_2363

Grampy handled the catching (with a fish net, you know, the kind you use for a home fish tank), and Avery watched in wonder… pointing, giggling, laughing, smiling.IMG_2332

Avery was soooo intrigued by the snake!  It was a tiny garter snake.IMG_2340

We must have sat for an hour watching it, giving it sticks and grass to wind around.IMG_2348

When we let the snake go, it slithered away and Avery chased it, so cute!

3. We watched the Brain Freezer
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Our friend from high school and her husband (shout out to Izzy and Alex) put on their second annual 5K race in Burlington, and we went to watch.  Why didn’t we run?  Well, for this race, you run 1.5 miles, eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, and run 1.5 miles back.  It was fun to watch but we couldn’t stomach doing it!  If you do, check out The Brain Freezer 5K Website! 

While we waited for the runners to come back, we took in the views (Lake Champlain)…
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And played at the park (Battery Park, Burlington).IMG_2262

After we watched the runners come in – Avery was cheering and clapping – he’s such a good sportsman!  Then it was off to the waterfront for a picnic.IMG_2265

4. Avery’s First Shave.

Avery’s gotta do everything Grampy does, so when he heard Grampy needed to shave one night… well, he just had to join in!
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First, they lathered up…IMG_2291

Grampy demonstrated…

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And Avery shaved too! (We had a fake razor in Avery’s Play-Doh set, which worked great)

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5. We got invited to TWO weddings!

You know how much I LOVE getting mail… so I was very excited seeing TWO wedding invites in the mail within a week!

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First was Kelly and Josh’s wedding invite.  We’ve had the date on the calendar for a while, but it was nice to finally get the official invites – they were soooo pretty!  Oh and note how it was addressed… Ms Meghan and MASTER AVERY Valyou… haha :)  Very cute, Kelly!  Kelly is my sister’s best friend from grade school… so it’ll be great seeing her tie the knot!

And our second invite was for Marcus!
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Our brother, as Sarah and I have dubbed him since we’re like family, is getting married in January!  So happy to see him tie the knot too, and both are in Vermont even though both couples live down south.

6. Joey and I Gave Blood.
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I’ve been meaning to get into giving blood on a regular basis, but never fit it into my schedule, so Joey and I made a date to give blood together, and neither of us passed out!  We’ll do it again in September :)

7. We visited Nana & Papa

Avery threw rocks in the creek out back, I raided Nana’s workshop for cloth for family reunion costumes, we had a yummy dinner of spaghetti, and angel food cake for desert!

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Avery and Papa sat on the porch and watched birds.  It was cute and sweet until Avery got comfortable and started smacking the window when birds came by, scaring them, and Avery laughed, thinking it was sooo hilarious.
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Then it got a little crazy when Avery and CoCo (Nana and Papa’s dog) started chasing eachother around the house!  Avery thought it was so fun, and CoCo kept barking and bouncing around taunting Avery to play.

8. We visit Gram & Gramp every Wednesday.

Most Wednesdays, Avery and I head over to the park near Gram and Gramp’s house and play there for an hour, have a picnic dinner.

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Then we meet MiMi and Grampy at Gram and Gramps to visit for an hour before heading home for bed.  Avery loves playing with the puzzles and legos they have.

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We go for a walk, and Avery bikes circles around us on his tricycle.

9. We had fun OUTSIDE!

It’s amazing having a huge yard, garden, and garage to play in this summer.  We’ve been outside all weekend long and every weekday afternoon.  Avery’s been swimming in his big pool…

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Our favorite games in the pool are chasing each other around in circles and catching his babies (baby/tiny animals/dinosaurs) with his fish net.

Avery loves mowing the lawn in his skivvies…IMG_2324

When it’s raining, we can still be outside and play in the garage – Avery rides his bike or we play with chalk and cars.  Or we sit on buckets and shuck corn…IMG_2315

Avery moves his toys around the yard with his wagon from Easter.
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Avery loves playing in Grampy’s garden too.. we’ve picked lettuce, rhubarb, peas, and wild strawberries and raspberries…IMG_2298

They’re the perfect summer afternoon snack! Avery LOVES them.  He won’t eat the big ones from the grocery store though, haha.

10. Visits at Michael Eyes

This is Michael Eyes.

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(He’s not naked! He’s on the deck without a shirt on because he had been swimming and he had blackberries smeared on his face from Avery, haha)

He’s my uncle (my Dad’s brother), and Avery’s great uncle, but that’s not his name.  He is officially ‘Michael Eyes’.  He was originally Uncle Micheal (not Mike), as Avery called him, but then he became ‘Tomato Eyes’ one silly afternoon playing with cherry tomatoes, and the two have mashed together, so Avery calls him, “Michael Eyes.”  Well, we’ve visited with them a few times this past month – we visited the playground next door…IMG_2266IMG_2271

Enjoyed their pool….IMG_2532

And their nice garden and bridge over the creek running through their property.IMG_2273

On our most recent visit, we played in the pool, had a yummy dinner and desert, and sat by the campfire… while Avery played in a box with two nerf balls… he was sooo entertaining… and man was he having fun.  Avery would sit in the box, throw the nerf balls to us sitting around the fire, and he would hide in the box.  Two of us would toss the balls into the box.  Avery would come up, point to each person and ask ‘Was it you?’ until two people said yes, he would laugh, throw the balls to those two people and we would do it again.  This went on for an hour!  Then one time we all hid when he was in the box and when he came up, it was pretty funny!

11. We celebrated Lorri’s Bday
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Avery and I joined Joey and his family at Joey’s MiMi’s house and had a nice evening celebrating Lorli’s (That’s how Avery says it) birthday.  Avery helped blow out the candles and he ate some yummy cake!

12. We went to a Wedding

Wedding number two of the year.  One more to go to this fall.

Wait, lemme take a selfie…
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Joey’s friend, Matt, from grade school tied the knot.  Church wedding, reception under a tent – it was really a nice setup.  They had horse shoes, cornhole, a bonfire, seating areas all over.
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Joey was an usher. Here he is with the other ushers and the newlyweds:

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And here’s Joey with his friends that went through grade school up to high school graduation together.IMG_2492

Joey and his Mom dancing during the mother/son, father/daugher dance – they asked other child/parents to join them… nice face, Joey.
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13. Photo Op!

Joey’s Mom snagged some nice pictures of us at the wedding, so here’s our cutesy photo op :)
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And that’s a wrap!  But ofcoarse after 3 days of working on this post (yeah it takes me that long, lol), we’ve had some more happenings…so that just means more posts coming soon: Valyou Family Reunion (Disco Theme!), the Fairfax Egg Run, and my 10 Year High School Reunion. Oh and guess who’s birthday is coming… AVERY’S! He’ll be turning 3 at the end of September, so I’m working on party planning… I’ve started a page with the party info here, but it’s pretty empty right now.  More coming soon!

Until then.. we’ll be off enjoying the summer :)

<3 Meghan

10 Months Away from Debt Free

It’s August! The summer is flying by… another month gone, so here’s another update on paying off my student loans:

20 Month Progress

  • Starting Debt: $41,868.53 (Nov  ’12)
  • Debt Today: $18,917.17
  • Total Debt Paid Off: $22,951.36

I had another good month !!!  I saved every last penny, and was able to send in $1,500 towards the next loan I’m chipping away at.

July Review

  • Starting Balance: $20,769.63
  • End Balance: $18,917.17
  • Paid Towards Loans: $1,879.24
  • Interest Paid: $79.75
  • Principle Paid: $1,919.36

I save so much by living with my parents – no utility bills or mortgage.  Mom does most of the shopping too, so I only take a trip once or twice a month to contribute.  I did splurge a couple times though like buying dinner and bringing it to Gram and Gramps.  We had a couple birthdays and weddings, so I used some $ for gifts.  But other than that, most my money went into loans!

July Expense Analysis

There were some misc. expenses like sun screen for Avery, paying for copies of my divorce decree (so I could change my name back), and party supplies for our family reunion last weekend (pics coming soon!)

Overall, I’m getting closer to my goal… Yeah, it’s a long process, but it’ll be SOOO worth it.
Student Loan Payoff July

Red = goal, Blue = loans remaining to be paid

Last month I started gaining momentum, so the ball is rolling.  As I pay off loans, that blue line is going to plumet and get steeper and steeper.  I’m very close to paying off the next loan, which will free up more money the following months to go to the next one, and so forth.

Loan Pay Off Plan

Loan Payoff Plan July

I’m right on track with what I said last month, that I’ll pay off Loan 1-02 in mid-August, and start paying extra on Loan 1-01.  This is the last BIG one, so by my calculations, I’ll have that paid off in December.  I’ll just ask Santa for rolls of cash in my stocking ;)

I know, I know, I owe lots of pictures and recaps of the past couple weeks, but I haven’t had a spare minute.  And I know this is all dry and boring numbers crap, but it really does keep me in check.  I’m only 10 months away from having ALL my student loans paid off!

The Bigger Picture

So, I mentioned in an earlier post, about switching gears and about big plans… well, here goes.  I wanted to move back to Vermont because it would be a better life for Avery, in so many ways. We have family and friends all around, and we have a place to stay, for free!  Had I stayed in Boston, it would have been another 5-7 years before I could pay off my loans – ouch.  Well, when you have to pay $1600 a month in rent, just to keep a roof over your head and $1300 a month in child care (all on one salary!), it’s practically impossible to make ends meet, let alone pay off loans, and save money for a permanent home (in Boston they raise the rent every year so people tend to move every year or two and I didn’t want Avery’s home to change that often.  I want him to have a stable home.).

So, I’ve been working on paying off these loans, and then what?  I know, I’m such a planner.  Yes, I have another plan for after I accomplish this goal.  As soon as I pay off the student loans (May 2015), I’ll put all my extra $ into savings…. for a home!  No, not a house, Mariana – you were close ;).  A home… and that home is going to start with buying a piece of land, and on it I’ll design and build a home for Avery and I. Crazy?  I know.  But that’s the dream.  Build the perfect house, and live in it, forever.  Avery will have a stable, permanent home that he can grow in, and after he’s all grown up, he can always come back.

So, I’ve been checking out properties in neighboring towns, looking into property taxes, schools, and all factors in picking the ideal location for Avery and I to live.  I’ve been playing around with a design for the house.  I know, I know.  This is all a while away, but with this goal in mind, man does it motivate me to get these loans paid off!!!

The Plan

So, roughly, the plan looks like this:

May 2015 – Pay off Loans

Spring 2016 – Down Payment on Land/Construction Loan

Summer 2016 – Build the House.

Yep, we would be building it ourselves, just like my parents did.  So, friends and family be warned, because I’ll be asking your help!!!.  All the while, still living with my parents (thanks Mom and Dad!), so we can take 3-4 months to build it.

Fall 2016 – Move into our new Home.

Avery turns 5, so we’ll be settled into our new home and have a year to adjust to our new home, the community and be ready for Avery to start public school the following year.  This way, Avery can grow up in one community and not move around.  He’ll go through school with the same friends, know his community, and we’ll be able to FINALLY put down our roots.

Oh, and I should mention that my education really is coming to use (and the 200lbs of books I’ve saved from school) because I’m designing a Sustainable house… solar panels, passive solar design, etc.  It will mean lower energy bills, less impact on the environment, and man, would it be cool!

So excited… starting the weekend on a good note!

<3 Meghan

Check out my About Meghan page for more posts on finances and paying off my student loans.

Balloon Party

Avery loves balloons.  So when my dear friend, Ayla (we were close friends in high school), invited us to join her and her daughter, Ava, to the Stoweflake Balloon Festival, we said YES!

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This festival has been going on for 28 years in my backyard, just 40 minutes away, and I had never been.  On the way there, I was trying to explain what the balloon festival was.  Then after talking about some other stuff, he says ‘balloon potty’… or so I thought it was, since we are in the middle of potty training, but while I was looking for somewhere to stop, I realized he was trying to say ‘balloon party!’  I have no idea where he made the connection between festival and party, but man do I have a smart kid!

We arrived an hour and a half before the balloons were set to take off.  There was tons of tents with food and crafts and activities going on.   First order of business… take a train ride!

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When Avery went to get on the train, he tried to get in the conductor’s seat because he wanted to drive – It was too cute!  He rode around the field all by himself and had his serious face on the whole time, but when he got off, he was talking a mile a minute and spotted the next activity…
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Avery went in a bouncy castle at a birthday party a month ago and he was thrilled to go in again.  He bounced for a couple minutes with another little girl.

Right next door was this fun game…

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Avery does really well at home with his t-ball set, so I wasn’t surprised at how well he hit the ball and had so much fun with it!

We got some lemonade, checked out a few tents, and setup on our blankets to watch the balloons go up.  Avery was soooo surprised and excited when they started rolling out the balloons and filling them up with hot air.
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Avery has never seen a hot air balloon up close, so man was he surprised!  He was so giddy, pointing and laughing and telling us they were going up and there were so many colors and so big!
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Before we knew it, They balloons were leaving and it was beautiful!  So many colors and designs.  We didn’t count them exactly but there were probably 25 of them!IMG_2251

When we left, the sky was scattered with dots of color…

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We had planned it so that we would leave around the time the kiddos needed to go to sleep.  I changed Avery into his PJs before we hit the road.  He passed out on the way home (Ayla told me Ava did too!)…. we had such a fun time and it tuckered them out for sure!

We live in such a beautiful state with fun events like this just around the corner…and childhood friends and their kids to share memories with… loving Vermont life!

<3 Meghan

S’mores & Stripes

We spent our Independence Day weekend camping at Grand Isle State Park Campground.  Our family used to camp here when we were kids, and it was Avery’s second time, since we went last year with the Conovers.   5 Days and 4 nights of living outdoors… Avery was in HEAVEN.

We setup camp on Wednesday afternoon.  It was humid and warm, so our first order of business… the beach!

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“Wow, So many water!” Avery told me when he saw the big lake.

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Avery brought his toys down, waded in the water with me and his second cousins.  Avery threw rocks into the water, made bird noises to the seagulls flying around, and just ran around squealing and laughing like a happy little kiddo.

We couldn’t make it back to the campsite without making a pit stop at the playground.
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Avery and his second cousin, Aiden, get along so well.  Aiden helps Avery, leads him around with his hand, and Avery is just in awe, watching and learning from a bigger kid. It was nice to sit back on the park bench and just watch them play together.

I shared some muchies with my little man and snagged a Mommy/Son selfie :)IMG_2128

Albeit blurry, but it totally shows Avery’s personality – always moving, food on his face, and smiling!

Back at camp, Avery discovered Grampy’s hammock…IMG_2131

Avery thought it was pretty cool.  Throughout the weekend, Avery and Grampy played in the hammock, had snacks, all sorts of fun.  And getting Avery to nap while all this fun camping was going on would have been much harder without that hammock…IMG_2162

Napping was a much easier feat than bedtime while camping.  Since my parents have a camper, it’s still light inside, so getting Avery to sleep at 8pm when kids are still running around and the suns still out, well, that was a challenge.  Avery showered in the bathrooms, had s’mores for desert, and I laid with him for an hour and he would finally fall asleep.  You would think that after such busy days camping, he would be pooped and pass out, but nooo.  I’m not surprised.  He’s fought sleep ever since he was born.  I’ll look back on this and laugh when he’s a teenage and sleeping until noon!

Breakfast while camping was easy peasy.
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We setup a table and Avery had his yummy cereal.
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Avery was wide awake and excited to see everyone each morning, especially Michael Eyes.

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These two are a riot… give them tomatoes and… Tomato Eyes!
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Michael Eyes brought his boat camping, so we went out fishing every day!
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Grampy made a mini fishing pole for Avery, and he caught his first fish!!!

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We caught 20+ fish every time we went out and Aiden caught the biggest one!IMG_2154

Avery and Aiden were the best fishing buddies…
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There’s Avery fishing like a big boy…

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Avery wasn’t sure what to think of the fish when we started catching them…

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He eventually warmed up and kept wanting to catch more and he touched them and helped throw them back.

One of the days we went out, it was very cloudy…

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Avery got to help drive the boat!
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On Saturday, my friend Steve took us out for a ride on his boat.
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We lounged around…Avery drove…
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And Avery shared his gold fish snack with the seagulls..IMG_2198
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The campground had lots of activities for the kids.  Avery and Aiden made hats and wands for the 4th of July.
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On July 4th, they had an hour of activities… a donut eating contest…
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A water balloon toss:

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And a bubble gum blowing contest.  The kids (and adults) had so much fun!  Every time Avery’s balloon popped he ran back to the bin and got one more all by himself.  It was too cute.

We did get rained on a bit and had to hunker  down in the campers for a while…
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But that didn’t stop the kiddos from having fun… pillow fights, play doh, and board games kept them occupied.

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When the rain finally stopped, everyone was in good spirits…
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Avery even found a little fort for himself where he made ‘coffee and food’ for everyone (we gave him water, cups, plates, and animal crackers and he used it as his kitchen and picnic table).

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We went to the beach a couple more times, played in the sandbox at the playground every morning, took a bike ride, took walks and saw a family of baby raccoons, played cards, participated in the bike parade, and the biggest adventure of the weekend was Avery learned how to ride his tricycle all by himself!  The weekend started out with people pushing him around.
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But after Avery took a ride down a little hill, and discovered he could peddle, we ended the weekend with Avery biking around all by himself!IMG_2192

Next we upgrade to a big big with training wheels!

We had such a fun weekend with family and friends that Avery did not want to leave on Sunday. Happy Independence Day!

<3 Meghan