We didn’t go too far, just up the road about 10 or so miles, we now live in the town where the kids go to school and my grandma was born/raised in. It feels like it was a long time coming, like this is “where we are supposed to be”, or just “home”. We purchased a newer home, it's a touch smaller home but with a bigger lot – which the dogs love! We don’t get to see our previous neighbors as much as before, which is typical but also a bummer, as although they are also family, they were people we saw and hung out with at min on a weekly basis (if not more). Since moving to our new home, we have made some new friends, met even more people, and have more acquaintances than before. The kids seem to have made more friends as well, even though they have always gone to this school since we moved to SD. We live in a very small town, with a total population of 1200 or so and you feel every bit of it. I always knew coming to a small town would have its ups and downs, its perks, and drawbacks, and I would say in the short time we have been here – we’ve experienced this. I’m not someone who cares how other people judge me, I know who I am, and I know what my family is about and if others take issue with that – they aren’t people we need in our lives. But enough about that, it’s just small-town stuff, and albeit here in this “small town” or big city…crummy, unhappy, miserable people live everywhere. Luckily for the most part, what I can say is, that most are hard-working folks just trying to do a step better than what they had and that is admirable.
Dylan is now a Senior in High School, set to graduate here in a few short months. As of this moment, I don’t know which path he is going to take – College or Tech/Trade School. I’m happy for whatever he wants to do if it has a productive outcome in the end. I will say, and I say this all the time – I just don’t want him to make the mistakes I made. My folks pushed me hard for a four-year degree and rightfully so but at the same time, being young and not having lived a life of your own, it’s hard to understand this “parents push and telling me what to do”. I regret, literally daily, not having finished school and getting a degree. Although I don’t feel a degree “makes someone who they are”, it does open many more opportunities, and having more vs. less is important as you get older with the trial and tribulations of life.
Another unexpected but should have been expected is the cost of everything. Being younger, with younger kids, time feels like it takes forever to raise kids and that time stands still. Now Amber and I are facing the cost of college and what that cost entails. I never set up a college fund, or 529 plan, and/or set aside “x amount” for this day. I know our folks, or so I think, went through all these same things in life. Although I know it was hard for them too, today’s prices for everything are outrageous. I have never been someone with debt and for the first time in my life I will have to be…we just can’t magically come up with an extra 20-25% post-tax income to fund college, insurance, etc. That’s not even considering him going away to school, not even on the radar, as that would be even more costly. I want the best for Dylan, but he also must want it too – he must determine his own path and the upfront sacrifice it takes.
Health-wise, Dylan has been pretty good. Being that he is now 18 (in June will be 19), he is legally an adult, and this rolls over to his medical care too. Luckily, we were able to keep the same Dr. as we had before, even though Amber often battles with him from time to time (we call this being your own advocate, and we learned this long ago). Amber’s work, with whom our medical insurance is through, switched Insurance carriers back in 2023 and this dramatically affected our coverage – what insurance has negotiated as coverage, etc. With this change, I personally had to put off my own medical needs, so for 2024 we had to switch to a high-deductible plan, which although is harder on the pocketbook upfront, it’s cheaper for the max out-of-pocket. Still, none of this is “cheap”, between monthly premiums and family max OOP ~ we’ll be approx. $21,000. The other option is a PPO plan (which is what we typically always have had) which is more costly for premium but has copay visits and coinsurance, etc. When comparing and budgeting for the max OOP ~ would have been approx. $30,000. As crazy as it sounds, the $21,000 was more attractive but the cost is all upfront, there are no copays, and there’s no assistance until you reach your deductible. I personally just had a medical procedure (I had put this off since moving here due to costs), it was $4,000, which was the individual deductible. Dylan's meds, run around $700-$800 per month without a copay. So, it’s brutal and brings me back to earlier statements, I don’t want Dylan to make mistakes that I made regarding my education and/or lack thereof. It’s hard to look past the present and into one’s future, I just hope I can get him to see the light. It’s no fun struggling in your mid-40s raising kids, etc. We all have our challenges, but none of them are more important or less than ours…they’re perhaps just a little different scenarios. The one constant, I do believe we all want what’s better for our kids and we are no exception. We’re doing our best to do our best and we don’t always accomplish this, but we never stop trying.
It's so odd to think back to where we were not only 18 years ago but especially 13 years ago on this day. So much uncertainty but yet so much hope - that a better day, week, year was ahead for Dylan. We have an incredible appreciation for how fragile life is and feel so grateful for everyone that has come on this journey with us. It's always easier to just look away and not be present but so many have been staples in our lives and have always been right there when we needed them, Thank you all so much for continuing to follow along this journey with Dylan.