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A Birthday Day Wish for My Missing Son


Please join me in wishing my youngest son, the one called Gymnast here, a very happy 14th birthday! I am grateful that I get to spend today with him here in Texas.

Hope, Gymnast and Princess in Texas

Hope, Gymnast and Princess in Texas

But it doesn’t mean it’s not bittersweet. I’ve spent most of the last months questioning every parenting choice I ever made with him. It’s been very hard mentally, but I feel, I hope I am finally in a good place.

A Little History

For those new to my story, Gymnast is my youngest biological child. He trained and competed as a competitive gymnast for almost 7 years. Thus, the name. He quit last year.

He’s also my high maintenance child…lots of attention, lots of demands and lots of needs. Last fall, after living with me for over 13 years as his sole guardian, he decided he wanted to go live with his dad…in Illinois. It about broke me, but I let him go.

He came to Texas for Thanksgiving with us and my family.

He came to Georgia for his Spring Break.

And he’s spending the summer with my family and us.

But then he will return to Illinois and his dad for his first year of high school

Has anyone else done with shared custody that required your child to live states away?

I can’t lie. His move has saved me a tremendous amount of money. Teenage boys alone…and groceries. But boy do I miss him, every single day. And I hate missing the things going on in his life, not knowing his friends or his teachers and so much more. But I have learned, the hard way, that I have to let some of my kids go earlier than others.

Today We Celebrate

But today we celebrate. He is now 14…

We will celebrate in the same tradition we have had since they were old enough to decide…

He will choose a restaurant for dinner. And will receive birthday gifts at that time. I brought him a few small things I have picked up over the last few months with my cash budget. But the bulk of his gift will be cash. He wants to buy school clothes.

Ongoing Related Costs

I continue to for Gymnast cell phone. And of course, send him presents for holidays, but otherwise, do not have any financial responsibility for him. I did attempt to move his phone to his dad’s responsibility but he refused to pay it. And I will not lose my connection with Gymnast.

Frugal Living Passed On


It’s certainly been a while since I posted a picture of the twins together. And as we prepare for Sea Cadet’s imminent departure at the end of July, I am cherishing every moment I have with them!

But what is even better is watching them grow in maturity in their relationships with others and with their money! And one lesson that has definitely stuck is that choose your priorities when it comes to spending your liquid cash. (They both live on a weekly cash budget for gas and spending money.)

And one thing that neither of them likes to spend money on is haircuts…especially when I will cut their hair for free. And no, I do not have formal training as a barber. Thank goodness, neither of them is picky.

And if you ever wondered if they were really identical twins, the pictures above with their fresh haircuts should prove it.

While we started out with a pretty complicated budget, it was just too much. So now we have settled onto a set amount of cash for their pockets every week out of the money they earn. This money is their spending money and gas money. They must stay within that amount.

All other monies are put into a shared Savings account. They pay their car insurance and cell phone bills out of that money. And we discuss any other purchases where they want to dip into this savings account.

This has really worked for them. And they both enjoy watching their savings account grow AND having money on hand when they want to spend money outside the norm. While I do not have a veto on their spending, I am able to guide them through the thinking process before it actually happens.

Feeling good about the future for my kids and their money. While it’s not perfect, we definitely seem to be moving in the right direction.