The start of this post has been saved in my 'drafts' since Oct 16th! ...I guess John Lennon was right - Life really IS what happens when we're busy making other plans!
When Calvin returned from London last April, so did my GuateTrip DREAM - but as usual, that's ALL it was.
By MAY, once Knudsen's got here with newborn GRANDson to meet Grumpa and the gang - and complete our long-awaited reunion, I was just grateful and delighted to have ALL my kids together again - ANYWHERE - it didn't matter that we couldn't afford to travel anywhere!
Then soon into June, the first of many little planets came into alignment...
- K & I shared a rare GreatDate night - You know, the kind most women love, when 'SignificantOther' happens to unexpectedly take charge with even a simple general plan - but with YOU in mind!... After a casual delicious dinner, he invited me for a walk so we could continue the important conversation we happened to be having. Before we knew it we were seriously exploring WHAT it would take to actually $ave enough over 1 to 2 years for THAT trip... one we both knew i would NEVER let him hear the end of - if we did not take. (10K? - if airfare alone could be 7K?) ...Maybe he lovingly thought I just needed to see for myself how impossible it would be to pull off any time soon. (Backfire alert!) Actually, as we talked, it occurred to me that i could legitimately explain how 5 of 10 plane tickets could be paid for without any debt! (3 from amounts I'd saved over the yrs for youngest 3 + 2 that kids w/ jobs could pay for themselves) I instantly saw the glass half FULL!! - Instead of fighting back tears of bitter pill swallowing, i was full of HOPE! In that moment I really did become 'fixed in my mind with a determined resolution'... And although i knew he didn't completely share my enthusiasm, I knew he could not reasonably shoot me down either - nor ONLY focus on the glass half empty : )
- 2 days later for FHE we talked with the 6 living at home and told them about our productive discussion. We wrote down amounts we had, clearly went over our current income and expenses, then asked them what they thought about it all. Together we chose to set a goal and make a plan. Together they came up with ideas for spending less and saving more.
- During the entire summer and fall they have willingly made numerous sacrifices: No end of summer 'get away' before school, total bare bones birthdays & back-to-school needs, Zero movie theaters, zero nice meals out as a family, zero LazarTag party for Ash, zero drywall repair nor dishwasher repair... to name a few.
- NO lie - As soon as I looked up flights and determined a price per person to plan for, I happened to get an unexpected bonus from work during this very tight federal budget year the exact amount I'd need for my own ticket. BAM - SIX of 10 flights accounted for! ... (if we could possibly go before Jan 30, 2012, GRANDson could fly FREE - so 8 kids + 2 parents = 10)
- In this unique era of NO yearly raises (a first), continued hiring freezes, and next to NO usual overtime, suddenly my manager called me in at the end of July to tell me of an Agency-wide critical "Special Project" (total first of its kind) that could only be worked on Saturdays - Overtime ($50 hr) right away - for 8 weeks in a row up to 8 hrs each time (instead of long-standing 5 hr max for Sat OT) - For which they needed one consistent leader to organize & oversee the challenging project, and wanted it to be me it if i was interested... And it was a HUGE challenge - Yet a 'Tender Mercy' to the tune of over $3000.
- AUG 6th: First of the 8 Saturdays... A random conversation with a coworker while we prepared project packets resulted in a GOOD job offer for same 'Significant Other' by mid Aug... after 18 months of 'Thanks But No Thanks' letters in this tough economy. After passing their numerous levels of security over the past 2+ months, he's finally hopeful that tomorrow's hiring hoop will be one of the last - for real, and that maybe they'll be ready for him to begin as soon as we return! (?)
- I'm out of writing time... but must mention the major miracle of final pricing on the flights - thanks to Continental GroupWorks (for 10 or more)... final pmt was due 10/13 - actual rates of taxes came in much lower than original estimate... so: $400 each - not $675 as we were anticipating per quote last August when we began our contract w/ them.
We've also had a hefty share of opposition and set backs over the past 6 months... but they are very minor when compared with ALL we have to be THANKFUL for!! I am continually moved to tears by the beauty of my blessings!
(Now if i could just figure out how to convert this tiff photo to a jpeg - i could insert this classic photo of Oli in Guate in '92 that looks like it's straight off a classic tourism brochure cover - Sean, HELP? :)
*post edit: You're Welcome, Mom —NotSean, but your other tech-savvy child.