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crazy, family, lifestyle, sporty

iFLY : You Fly Indoor Skydiving

Have you ever wanted to go skydiving, but you’re terrified of jumping out of a plane? Well, that’s me in a nutshell. I’d love to fall through the air, but just don’t want to deal with the heart pounding and stroke inducing process of getting out of a plane thousands of feet in the air. So, when I was gifted with an experience at iFLY Sacramento, I figured this was my shot to get all the thrills of skydiving without the immanent peril!

iFLY Voucher

Mr. M and Miss L had previously gone to iFLY on their own, and they took advantage of a wonderful offer they have for return flyers. They bought me a “Spread Your Wings” Return package for Mother’s Day that was good for 4 flights for 2 people that’s about 1/2-price of the original visit cost. That way I could go… and Miss L could go again with me!iFLY Sacramento Roseville

The iFLY Experience

We called and made a reservation for the 2nd class on Saturday morning, which was perfect because breakfast had settled down (I mean… no one wants to get sick in an air tube!) and it was the perfect time for lunch right after!)

Well, I won’t get too far ahead of myself here… because I was definitely a little nervous about the whole encounter.

Mr. M had told me it was a lot of fun.

Miss L was ready and rearing to go again.

And I just had no idea what to expect from the entire encounter!?!

Getting Ready to Fly

Check in was easy: tell them who we were, pay extra to upgrade to “fancy goggles” or not, then head into the waiting area. When our time approached we got suited up and I headed in for “training” – aka. watching an instruction video about the best things to do when encountering a GIANT FAN BLADE IN THE GROUND. Then, we marched into the tube and took a seat in the “waiting area” with direct access to previously mentioned GIANT FAN BLADE.

There was a boy in our group that was celebrating his birthday that day, so he had the honor of going in first. Except… well… that was pretty much the most horrific experience that poor kid had ever had in his life. I’m not sure what scared him, but he started flailing and fretting about 5 seconds into his flight and they got him out of the tube quickly… and then he ran to his parents sobbing and never came back.

The instructor went over to him to try to coax him back, but it was fruitless.

Flying at iFly

Then it was my turn! (Yay?)

I was feeling really ZEN about the whole experience right up until that point. I started worrying about what could have traumatized that kid. Was it when he looked down at the fan? Or the force of the wind? Or… OR….?!??!? Seriously why were we paying money to be tortured!!!

There was no time to deal with my complete runaway insane thoughts because the instructor was ushering me into the plastic tube of indoor skydiving fun RIGHT THEN.

I decided to push it all out of my mind, took a deep break and opted for ZEN.

I approached the door, closed my eyes for a brief second, took a deep breath, and then just sort of belly-flopped out into the fan.

And it worked. Zen TOTALLY worked.

The next 60 seconds was just fun and relaxing and easy. Nothing scary. Nothing traumatizing. Just flying and floating on the clouds.

In all honesty, the hardest part was the entry and exit to the tube… which Miss L said I did wrong each and every time. I’m not graceful on a normal day, so I’m not sure how I’m supposed to perfect my skydiving takeoff and landing without A LOT of practice.

When it was Miss L’s turn… she hopped in there like a pro. And she spun around to the top of the tube like she’s been doing this stuff since she was 4 years old. And, of course, she nailed the takeoff and landing.

We cycled through everyone in the group, and then we got the chance to fly again!

This time, we were all asked if we wanted to go up higher in the tube during our ride. It’s an “upcharge” cost, but you get blasted by even more wind and it becomes more of an amusement ride than a free fall float. At this point, I was so zen I said, “Sure!” (Mr. M later told me he was crazy impressed because he never thought I’d ASK, let alone pay extra to get thrown around in there!) Miss L took an extra high dive as well, and then our journey came to an end.

Well… that is until we bought yet another “Spread Your Wings” return package for another afternoon in the future!

iFly Sacramento: 118 Harding Blvd, Roseville, CA 95678.

family

goodbye Lincoln

Life isn’t always full of puppy dogs and rainbows. But when it is… it’s amazing.

And when that puppy dog goes chasing after the end of the rainbow way too early in life… well… it’s really hard to accept.

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family, geeky

how to save for college: six years down the road with our 529 plan

[Updated for OCTOBER 2017]

Now that it’s been SEVEN years since started Miss L‘s college savings fund, I thought I’d provide another update on the progress of her 529 Plan! [I’ve previously posted a 4-year update as well as when we started the fund.]

 

Just as a quick review, we decided to invest our money in the Utah Educational Savings Plan based on the information and availability of plans back in 2010. It had great ratings from Bankrate’s Savingforcollege.com (comparison of all state plans), and stuck out as the best option for us. [It’s worth noting that California now has a 5-star plan of its own, Scholarshare, which actually gets slightly better ratings than Utah.]

 

Now, what does 7 years of consistent investing actually look like?


Currently, Miss L’s funds are valued at 128% of our net principal contribution. As you can see, we’ve invested the same amount every year (we have an automatic monthly withdrawal from our checking account), but thanks to favorable market conditions, Miss L’s money is growing pretty nicely.

 

Here’s the annual breakdown:

  • Year 1 = 108% of principal contributions
  • Year 2 = 103% of principal contributions
  • Year 3 = 119% of principal contributions
  • Year 4 = 138% of principal contributions
  • Year 5 = 135% of principal contributions
  • Year 6 = 128% of principal contributions

As for administrative costs, we’ve currently paid a total of 0.75% of our principal contributions over 6 years.

 

It’s really nice to know that we’ve started this school fund and have it growing for whenever it’s needed. And it truly is “out of sight out of mind” until those quarterly statements show up! If we got a tax break for doing it, we’d be even happier, but so far all efforts on that front have failed.

Will we hit the target expenses?

Well, right now, a college that is currently $25,000/year is expected to cost $169,968 by the time Miss L starts her freshman year. If we stay at our current contribution rate, we’ll have 75% of it covered! Not too shabby… but not there yet!

 

Some people have asked about how this helps/hurts for financial aid when a student goes to school. If a parent owns the fund, then up to 5.6% of the fund’s value can be counted toward FAFSA inclusion. Those are the rules now… who knows what they’ll be in 12 years!

 

So here we are…6 years down and only 12 more to go! Ooooh boy! If those first six years are any indication, then they are going to just FLY by!

 

[UPDATED FOR OCTOBER 2017]
Now that it’s been SEVEN years since we started Miss L‘s college savings fund, I thought I’d provide another update on the progress of her 529 Plan! [I’ve previously posted a 4-year update as well as when we started the fund.]
Just as a quick review, we decided to invest our money in the Utah Educational Savings Plan based on the information and availability of plans back in 2010. It had great ratings from Bankrate’s Savingforcollege.com (comparison of all state plans), and stuck out as the best option for us. [It’s worth noting that California now has a 5-star plan of its own, Scholarshare, which actually gets slightly better ratings than Utah.]
Now, what does 7 years of consistent investing actually look like?

Currently, Miss L’s funds are valued at 152% of our net principal contribution. As you can see, we’ve invested the same amount every year (we have an automatic monthly withdrawal from our checking account), but thanks to favorable market conditions, Miss L’s money is growing pretty nicely. This February, we chose to increase the monthly contribution by 10% and will hope to do that on an annual basis going forward.
Here’s the annual breakdown:
2010 = 105% of principal contributions

2011 = 90% of principal contributions

2012 = 112% of principal contributions

2013 = 129% of principal contributions

2014 = 136% of principal contributions

2015 = 124% of principal contributions

2016 = 135% of principal contributions

2017 = 151% of principal contributions

 
As for administrative costs, we’ve currently paid a total of 0.75% of our principal contributions over 7 years.
It’s really nice to know that we’ve started this school fund and have it growing for whenever it’s needed. And it truly is “out of sight out of mind” until those quarterly statements show up! If we got a tax break for doing it, we’d be even happier, but so far all efforts on that front have failed.
Will we hit the target expenses?
Well, right now, a college that is currently $25,000/year is expected to cost $169,968 by the time Miss L starts her freshman year. If we stay at our current rate, we’ll have 75% of it covered! Not too shabby… but not there yet!
Some people have asked about how this helps/hurts for financial aid when a student goes to school. If a parent owns the fund, then up to 5.6% of the fund’s value can be counted toward FAFSA inclusion. Those are the rules now… who knows what they’ll be in 12 years!
So here we are…7 years down and only 11 more to go! Ooooh boy! If those first seven years are any indication, then they are going to just FLY by!
Anyone else have any thoughts on a 529 plan or college savings?
Here are a few handy links if you’re looking to invest in a 529 plan:
529 Plan Comparisons by SavingforCollege.com

2013 Morningstar 529 Plan Ratings Chart

College Cost Calculator (how much you need to save) by ScholarShare

 
 

Anyone else have any thoughts on a 529 plan or college savings?

 

Here are a few handy links if you’re looking to invest in a 529 plan:

family

how to earn a Junior Ranger badge at Yosemite National Park


One of our country’s pure treasures, the National Parks, celebrate their 100-year anniversary this week! We got out and celebrated the occasion a few weeks ago with a weekend trip to my favorite National Park, Yosemite National Park. Now we’ve been to the park before as a family, but now that Miss L turned six, she got to participate in a great program offered by the parks: the Junior Rangers!

What exactly does it take to become a Junior Ranger at Yosemite National Park? Just these 4 steps!

  1. Purchase a booklet published by the Yosemite Conservancy for $3.50 at any of the following stores:
    • Yosemite Valley Visitor Center
    • Nature Center at Happy Isles (May through September)
    • Wawona and Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Centers (June through September)
    • Big Oak Flat Information Station (May through September)
  2. Complete the set number of activities in the book
  3. Collect a bag of trash
  4. Attend a guided program

We went on this weekend excursion with our friends, the great S Family, so we had two additional Junior Ranger-trainees in our camp: Miss M and Miss E! 


We stayed in the Lower Pines campground in Yosemite Valley for the three nights, which happens to be the location of the Lower Pines amphitheater and many guided programs. We attended two nighttime Ranger Programs: a Ranger talk on Friday and a “Who’s scat is that?” ranger talk on Sunday night. The girls loved both of them, and it was so nice having the whole experience just steps away from our campsite! (For a list of all the guided programs, check out the Yosemite Guide when you arrive)


Technically, the Ranger Talk on Friday night was our first step to becoming a Junior Ranger, but we didn’t know that just yet! The next day, we picked up three Junior Ranger booklets from the Nature Center at Happy Isles after our Saturday morning hike to see what the program was all about!


The booklets have a range of activities for younger and older kids to complete, but parents may need to provide some writing assistance to the 6-7 year olds. The girls had fun with the activities and filled out their books that afternoon and the following morning.

Then it was time to pick up some trash!


We packed the trash bags (and gloves that they give you!) and started off on a hike to Mirror Lake on Sunday morning. Who knew this would turn out to be the greatest decision ever! You’ll never have a bored hiker as long as you have a trash collector in your group!

The girls truly took pride and did an amazing job cleaning up the 1-mile trail in both directions, and each had a full trash bag to show for it!


Once their bags were properly disposed of, we hopped on the shuttle bus and went over to the Yosemite Valley Visitors Center to turn in their books.


The Visitors Center is usually quite crowded, so we decided to go around the lunch hour and hope to miss the crowds. The girls presented their books and the Ranger quizzed them on what they learned during their guided program, and other questions from the activities in the book. This definitely wasn’t a participation patch that everyone just gets for $3.50 and the rangers took it quite seriously!


After the quiz, the girls raised their arms and were administered the Junior Ranger oath!


They were each given their patch, and we walked away from the Visitors Center with three extremely happy and proud Junior Rangers!

As you can see, the program is quite easy to complete, but more importantly, it really does pass on the lessons of being a good National Park steward to children. I know that we’ll always keep trash bags and gloves with our hiking gear from now on, and hopefully this is just one of many patches that Miss L, Miss E and Miss M will be gathering in their Junior Ranger lifetime!