Life Decisions Don’t Come Easy

I can remember how, as a child, I was anxious to grow up and live my own life. No more living under my parent’s rules. Doing anything I wanted to do. Going anywhere I wanted to go. Life would be good!

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Oh how those childhood dreams come crashing down when reality sits in.

Adulting is hard and all those decisions my child brain thought would be simple, aren’t always simple. Because life decisions don’t come easy.

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Our next big life event is a few years away – Retirement!

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I left the work force to become a full time housewife 15+ years ago. Sometimes, the financial struggle made us question whether or not I should go back to work, but we stuck it out knowing that our lives were just better with me home than with me working full-time. Of course this meant we also gave up putting more money into our retirement account. It’s was easy to convince ourselves that having another 20+ years to save for retirement gave us plenty of time and that thought process wasn’t necessarily wrong, but we had a false sense of security.

So here we are 15+ years later looking at our retirement account, with three kids still at home and realizing that we are on track to have enough in retirement, but not enough for many years of living in retirement.

I don’t believe we are in a much different situation from millions of others. Granted, in many cases it’s just one person or a couple trying to determine what steps need to be taken to make sure they have enough money to last them years in retirement. However, there has been an every growing population of grandparents and older parents who are still raising children in their retirement years. Retirement looks very different in those situations and in those situations, there isn’t always enough time to build a retirement account that allows for the extra expenses of raising children.

So here we are with the next big decision and this life decision don’t come easy.

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The biggest hurdle we have hanging over our head for retirement is health insurance. Even if we qualify for Medicare, our girls won’t. As such, we’ll still need to have insurance for them. We are fortunate to have really good health coverage thru hubby’s employer, once retirement hits, that insurance ends. Health insurance premiums are not inexpensive. Healthcare in the U.S. is not inexpensive. I suppose it’s possible that by the time hubby is able to retire, the U.S. may have a universal health care plan in place. However, it’s not in place now and we aren’t going to assume it will be in place in a few years.

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This leads us to now and we have to consider all possible options in retirement.

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Does hubby work until 65 when we would qualify for Medicare?

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Can he retire at 62 to hopefully have a few extra years living the retirement dream?

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Will we be able to afford insurance here in the U.S.?

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How much will we need to downsize to afford retirement?

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Would the expat lifestyle in another country make more sense?

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Did I mention that life decisions don’t come easy?

Honestly, we really do feel fortunate to have options available to us and some time to see what happens here in the U.S. over the next few years. But in the meantime, we need to have Plans A, B and C in place. Maybe even a Plan D and E so hubby can finally move from a work life to his full-time job as husband and father.

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Learning a New Language

Hubby and I had a discussion about regrets recently. Sometimes we have regrets about things we can’t do anything about now. Other times we have regrets about things that we didn’t do, but have the ability to change. And part of life is taking chances.

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One of the regrets I have is not learning a second language.

There are many advantages to knowing multiples languages.

  • More job opportunities
  • Boosting your brain power
  • More likely to travel to different parts of the world
  • Improvement in your first language
  • Increase in the understanding of the world
  • Memory improvement
  • Sharpens your mind
  • Experience of new cultures
  • Enhanced decision making skills

Fortunately, that is something I have the ability to change, so hubby and I have now taken on the challenge of learning Spanish. It is the second most spoken language here in the U.S. and having friends and family who speak Spanish, it’s a good language for us to know.

For us, there are some problems in learning Spanish.

  1. We’re not as young as we used to me so our brains don’t have as much learning flexibility as they used to.
  2. Not being around regular Spanish speakers doesn’t allow it to stick quite as easily.

Since science hasn’t come up with a way for us to reverse the aging process, there isn’t anything we can do about #1. Although learning a new language will certainly be helpful (see the bulleted list above). However, spending time with Spanish speaking friends and family or taking a trip to a Spanish speaking country would be very helpful in giving us a boost. I do believe immersion is the best way to learn a new language, so maybe a trip in the future isn’t a bad idea.

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The Last 13 Years

13 years ago this month we brought Lili home from Guatemala.

11 years ago this month we brought Naomi home from Ethiopia.

We thought we would add another child to our family, but our attempts seemed to keep hitting dead ends. Until January, 2018 when Arryn entered our lives and we were eventually able to make her a permanent member of our family.

In these past 13 years, we’ve experienced love, laughter, sorrow, grief, fear, happiness and joy. We’ve relocated, traveled, made new friends and reconnected with lost friends.

It’s an exciting time in our lives and we look forward to the next 13 years in the World of Weeks.

Fun Little Games

Many evenings after dinner and before we’ve left the table to begin the clean-up, we’ll play some fun little game. Hubby will begin a song and we have to see who can name the title and artist of the song first. Sometimes he’ll start the game of “most likely” where he asks a question and we have to point to the person who is most likely to do that particular things. Other times the game may be asking what if questions.

Of all the games, I absolutely SUCK at the song game. I can remember lyrics to songs with very little problem, but to tell you the name and artist escapes me. Naomi and Lili, however, are great at the song game. Because we regularly listen to music in our home, they are able to name songs and artists from the 70’s and on. And to give you a better idea of how bad I am at the game, Arryn is starting to get better at it than I am.

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We don’t spend a great deal of time on the games, maybe 5-10 minutes, but it’s a great way for our family to stay more connected and learn more about each other.

So let’s play a fun little game.

  1. Where in the world have you never been, but would really like to visit?
  2. Is there anywhere in the world you would like to one day live?

Since I asked, I’ll start.

The place I’ve never been, but would like to visit is Europe. I can’t name just one country because there are so many I would like to see.

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The place in the world I would like to one day live is a little harder, but I think I would enjoy living in the Lesser Antilles. Considering the fact that when we went to Kauai many years ago (about 13 years ago), I loved it for about 2 days and was then ready to leave. It wasn’t as big as I thought it would be, but the bigger problem for me was not being able to see any land other than the land I was standing on. Granted, it’s the only Hawaiian island I’ve ever visited, so maybe one of the islands would have been better. Kauai was a little claustrophobic though. However, from the places like St. Thomas or St. John, you can see the other islands and take a ferry to several different islands in the Lesser Antilles.

Virgin Islands ferry routes map

I think I could deal with that, at least for awhile.

Unless I win a big lottery or someone gives me $100,000’s, the cost of living in Hawaii or the Virgin Islands is out of reach for us. But one can still dream because that’s free.

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Living Outside the Box

Hubby and I have been having some deep conversations about the importance of not conforming to other’s expectations.

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If we want to live our most authentic life, we should never allow our life to be dictated by fear of judgement or fear of not fitting into that little box. Over the years, we have somehow allowed ourselves to be sucked into making decisions based on the expectations of others. And you know what we’ve discovered?

I can be cramped and uncomfortable inside that little box.

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World of Weeks is about living life in our world our way. While we have strived to do just that, we haven’t necessarily done a great job. We have moved in and out of that little box pretty much our entire lives. Now it’s time to live outside the box permanently.

Hubby and I are in a very different place in life and it’s a good place right now. We are spending time contemplating options and making decisions for our future while appreciating the opportunities we have had and the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

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The journey we are on is exciting and a little bit scary at times. We don’t know exactly where life will lead us, but in this great big world, the possibilities are endless as long as we continue living outside the box.

We Miss Travel

At least some of us do.

Hubby, Lili and I love to travel. We love going to new places (or old places), seeing the sites, trying the food and enjoying time away from our everyday life.

The few times Arryn has traveled, she’s done well. Had COVID not ruined our travel plans last year, she would have made a couple trips back to Illinois and gone on her first cruise. She is always happy to go, so I have no reason to believe she won’t enjoy travel just as much.

Then there is Naomi.

Her idea of travel is a trip to see a local friend or a visit to a local store for some shopping. She has no interest in road trips or visiting new places. I guess one could say that having our 2020 travel plans canceled means COVID isn’t all bad in her book.

Yet, it is a bit daunting to plan travel when you know at least one person in the family just isn’t looking forward to going. Although it is a bit strange since once we arrive to our destination, she always finds a way of having a good time. She especially loves beach vacations. Getting up early in the morning to go shelling is one of her favorite things to do. I recently found this.

Her shell collection is now living inside and sits on her bathroom counter.

Like Naomi, I too love the beach. I enjoy getting up early with her looking for shell treasures to bring home with us. I love the sound of the ocean, the smell of the ocean breeze and the feel of the sand and waves as they wash up to shore. It is our happy place and I’ve often thought we would enjoy having a beach home. If only we could afford one!!!

But I digress . . . .

I’m on a mission to find a way to help Naomi enjoy traveling more. A way to peak her curiosity and develop a desire to see and learn about other places on this great big world of ours.

Would love to hear ideas from anyone who happens to still be reading.

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Our Normal Life

Like everyone else, we have not been living our normal life for the past year.

Our beloved homeschool group closed down about this time last year and other than a few phones calls, texts and some Facebook chats, we haven’t seen our homeschool friends in almost a year. We miss them.

Same with our family. We haven’t had a family get-together in almost a year and we miss them.

Another thing that has changed for us is travel. For the last several years, we’ve traveled at least once a year, but in many cases 2-3 times during the year. We cancelled all our travel plans this past year and as the year went on, we questioned when we might be able to travel again.

As we approached the 1-year mark of everything changing due to COVID, we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. More and more people are getting vaccinated to protect themselves as well as everyone else they may come into contact with. In some areas of the world, they are seeing a reduction in the number of COVID cases. As more people get vaccinated, those numbers will continue to decline and we will begin to see a return of some normalcy.

With things changing for the good, we decided to begin making some plans for travel later this year and next year by booking cruises. Yes, that’s right cruises as in more than one. Three to be exact.

No one knows exactly when ships will be able to sail again, but Royal Caribbean has been successfully sailing from Singapore since December, 2020. Of course they had to make changes regarding mask requirements, COVID testing, hand washing stations, hand sanitizer and even more stringent cleaning protocols. However, all of these changes and their work with the Singapore government has worked.

Here in the U.S., the cruise lines are waiting on the CDC to provide them with guidelines on what steps they need to take so they can begin sailing out of the U.S. Of course the CDC has been promising these guidelines for quite some time, so who knows when they’ll actually release them. Many believe that ships will be able to safely sail again sometime this year and we decided to jump on board (see what I did there). We booked a cruise for December (our Christmas family vacation). Then we decided to book another cruise for February on the same ship.

Then we decided to take Lili on a cruise in April of 2022 for her 15th birthday. She has no desire to have a quincenara and would much rather take a trip, so a cruise it is.

Okay, three cruises over a 5 month period isn’t really normal for us, but travel is a normal part of our family life. Now we’re trying to make up for all the trips we didn’t take this past year.

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Look At Me Go

Third post in the last three days!!!!

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Seriously, is there that much to write about? Maybe?!

So let’s talk vaccines.

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Hubby and I got our second COVID vaccine last week. I know it’s been a source of controversy, primarily because there is so much fear around its safety. However, I have been watching and reading as more and more reports have come out about the vaccines. What has been encouraging to me, are the reports coming out of Israel, which has had the fastest roll-out of any country. In the latest report I read, they had vaccinated 32% of their entire population. And that’s not just one dose, but two doses of the vaccine. The rate of infection has gone down across all age groups, but the biggest reduction is 66% of those 60+ which is the largest group that have been vaccinated.

There is also a study of 600,000 who have received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Of those 600,000, they are seeing a 94% drop in symptomatic COVID infections.

It’s reported that we need 70% – 90% to be vaccinated before we can reach herd immunity. While we’re certainly making progress, with only 3% – 4% having been vaccinated in the U.S., we have a very long way to go.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m more than ready for life to return to some sense of normalcy.

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And speaking of normalcy . . . .

I’ll talk about that next time.

Retirement

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My last post mentioned a lot of discussion about retirement in our home and how our retirement looks a little different. Not necessarily that it looks different from a lot of other people, i.e. older adoptive parents, grandparents raising grandchildren, or parents who just started later in life. It simply looks different then we anticipated it would look 20 years ago.

Like so many others, we don’t have as much in our retirement account as we need.

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Specifically, we will need to have the financial means to support ourselves and any kiddos we still have at home. For sure, we’ll have at least one and possibly two or three still at home.

Because hubby is now working from home full-time and since we’ll have kids at home for the next 15 years (at least), we sold our smaller house for a larger house. We really do love our new home and it does better meet the needs of our family. We are also hopeful that it was a good investment as this area continues to grow. For a matter-of-fact, between 2010 and 2020, this city saw 60.6% growth. We also moved to a neighborhood that borders the 2nd fastest growing city in this area which saw a 46.2% growth rate during the same period. Homes here have seen a 16.6% increase year-over-year as well. We definitely took a gamble and only time will tell if it pays off for us. Maybe it was a crazy move, but with all the planned business and home growth near us, we feel the potential payoff is higher than the risk. Fingers crossed!!!

What retirement will ultimately look like for us is yet to be seen, but knowing that we only have a few years left means it’s time for us to look at all our options and begin making plans. Life is, after all, a journey.

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