Four completely random items:
- The girls head back to school today, and winter break is officially over. Sigh . . . it was a great one too, especially when we had the whole family here. The girls’ high school works on a modified block plan; that is, they take just four of their classes the first half of the year, and the remaining four the second half. Each class runs one hour and 20 minutes. Because AP classes are given in the second term, WenYu is going to have a very challenging last semester of high school because all four of her classes are AP. YaYu is right behind her though and will be taking her first AP course as well. Sometime in February or maybe March we will be getting a bill for the May exams, with the tests costing $92 each. Can you say OUCH? Still, paying now is much cheaper than paying college tuition later. Meiling’s AP and IB credits shaved off an entire year of required classes for her.
- I got a letter in the mail last Thursday from the Social Security Administration that I would not be receiving any benefits in January. WHAT?!?!? Everything had been fine and ready to go at the end of November as far as I knew. Brett and I headed to the SSA office in Lihue on Monday and met with a representative there to find out what was going on, and it turned out the benefit I would not be getting was this month’s (small) caretaker benefit that I had been receiving through Brett’s account. My own retirement benefits begin this month and I can’t receive both. As this would be the last month of eligibility for the caretaker benefit anyway (because YaYu turns 16) I relinquished it. On the plus side (and quite a surprise), we learned that because both Brett and I will be drawing retirement benefits and have dependents under 18, the girls may be eligible for a higher benefit based on our combined SS income. We have a phone interview tomorrow morning to see if that will happen or not, but if not it’s still all good. By the way, Brett tracks all expenditures for the girls, including food, shelter, school expenses, clothing, etc. because we have to provide proof each year to the SSA that the benefits the girls receive are actually used to support them. WenYu’s benefits will end in June when she graduates from high school; YaYu will receive them for two more years.
- The last few mornings Brett’s been getting me up closer to 7:00 am for my morning walk instead of 6:15 or 6:30. The weather has still been great for walking, nice and cool. But, I’ve still come home feeling very sleepy and have crawled back into bed for a little more sleep. Well, the “little more” has been more like three or four hours more! The last couple of mornings I’ve woken up after 11:00, and yesterday it was closer to noon! On the plus side, I sleep soundly and have woken up feeling very refreshed and energetic, feeling better for the rest of the day than I have in a long time. I haven’t had any trouble either falling asleep around midnight, my usual bedtime, so maybe I just need the sleep right now. I know from experience though if I don’t go back to sleep in the morning I literally drag through the rest of the day, because getting up earlier in the morning does not make me go to sleep any earlier in the evening. I’m back to the 6:15 wake-up starting today so hopefully I won’t be sleeping so late after I get back.
- I completely burned out on Swagbucks before the end of last year, and gave up on it around the first of November. Still, what Brett and I earned earlier in the year allowed us to give some very nice Christmas gifts as well as helped cover some of our groceries (through Amazon), so we decided to pick it up again, although we both plan to be w-a-y less involved with it this year.