Sequester, September 2013

Much like Superman and Clark Kent, Mr. Fantastic and I are almost never photographed or even seen together.  As for photos, one of us is usually behind the camera.  In off-camera life, parent #1 frequently hands off kids while running to work, doing errands or stealing a little free time as parent #2 gets the kids to various activities.   Lately when we do get a minute to talk, we’ve been venturing into that deadly marriage-buster minefield of a topic, The Budget.  And, my friends, it is ugly.  As blissful as the past few years have been with the traveling, it takes a toll on the budget, and once in a while we have to slow down and regroup.  Especially as the RTW trip grows nearer.  Luckily, it is September and the world seems to be back to school, and while I’d looooove to take advantage of off-season rates and the freedom of homeschooling, we have a bit of a schedule, and we also have to pay the bills.  Here are some things going on for us this month.

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Is that Mr. and Mrs. Fantastic?? Maybe, maybe not.

Homeschooling

We get back into a groove each year at this time because a lot of activities start up.  Mondays and Fridays are loose- we are often home doing chores, also there are playgroups we attend sometimes, and Girl Scouts meetings (we have 2 Daisies, a Junior and  Cadet this year!), Tuesdays there is a parent-run homeschool cooperative all 4 kids attend (Mr. Fantastic teaches physics and runs a class on games as well), Wednesdays Fiercely is at a teen program with the same co-op and the others and I work with another homeschool family doing some schoolwork and some playing, and Thursdays we do an exchange rotating among 4 families taking turns doing projects and free time with all the kids from those families.  The twins are taking a Spanish class Mondays, Fiercely has fencing Tues. and Thurs., and all 4 kids are in a homeschool play that Mr. Fantastic co-directs and meets twice a week.

As you can see, the husband does way more homeschooling and kid activities than I.  Turns out he has an excellent disposition for it while I am a wretch at times with all of the patience, as I was once told by a friend, of a gnat in heat.  I have the steady job, which suits me right now.  I loved being home for the newborns and the cloth diapers and breastfeeding but now that all the kids are older there is bickering and such and I, well, lets just say, Mr. Fantastic has a better skill set.  I’m home about 4 days a week so I fill in with cooking and cleaning and chauffering and helping with schoolwork, and I seem to have unlimited personal energy for strategizing and implementing ways to get out of the house.

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Gratuitous apple picking pics

These days, we’re keeping it local.  We do errands by bike and go to various parks and playgrounds with the homeschoolers.  One hot day we spent hours at a creek, I didn’t bring the camera and kind of wished I did, maybe we’ll go back, but for now I enjoy the images in my mind, the kids catching minnows and everyone walking upstream in the cool water, loving the fact that on this beautiful day the kids- there were six of them with us that day- weren’t cooped up in some classroom.  Another day, we went apple picking at an organic orchard!  Kind of counts as a trip I guess.  Admittedly, this kind of thing is blog fodder now, I got some great pictures, and the kids can tell their Smokehouse from their Golden Delicious.

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more of the same

Trips we’re not taking

I hope some autumn day to go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  Per my research, the water is still warm, the amazing rental houses have off-season prices, and the crowds would be gone.  My friend went at that time once and saw dolphins with her kids.  With almost no effort, I found a 10-bedroom beach house with pool + hot tub we could really destroy enjoy with a couple of other families for about $1800/week.  I’m sure there are less luxurious places for less.  Once again, we can’t do it this year, but someday. Some day.

Then there’s the Grand Canyon and the West. I once went to find Route 66 with an intrepid boyfriend this time of year and I’d love to take the family on a similar trip.  Again, there is great weather, low volume of tourists, and off-season prices.  We discussed renting an RV, preferably one run on veggie oil, and going to Yellowstone, Taos, and maybe Denver and even Dallas since we know people there.   Throw another family in there, and you get playmates for the kids and a sharing of expenses.

Moving to a cash economy

This is a fun little project. I’m trying to use the credit card less, ideally not at all.  So we are trying the envelope method where you budget cash in labelled envelopes and spend it weekly for what it is intended.  So far this has led to me buying more local produce at farm stands, giving money to panhandlers, and putting off an online purchase.  I delight in the virtue of eschewing the credit card interest rate, I am gleeful in believing this helps the RTW budget efforts, and I sanctimoniously brag to friends and blog readers every chance I get.  And I wonder how I am going to buy that book I want online.

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2 thoughts on “Sequester, September 2013

  1. Love your envelope idea – my and my hubby have done it for years. It helps you always be aware of how much you’ve got when you need to spend, unlike credit cards that are just a piece of plastic that provide the illusion that you can spend and spend and spend…
    Anyway, I found your blog in the lonely planet forums and I love it so far – I am officially subscribed!

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