Wednesday, June 10, 2015

2015 Summer Bucket List

Inspired by The Frugal Girl, I've decided to write up a summer bucket list. It's sort of a cheat, since at least one of these things has already happened, but it was on my bucket list before summer began, so...

1. Visit my family down south. 

Done! We had a nice time, stayed long enough that I was ready to come home, and also crossed off "fly with the kids" from a bucket list. I'm almost confident enough now to take a trip with them by myself, but we'll see if it comes down to that anytime soon.

2. Go to a park twice a week. 

There are multiple parks within a few blocks of us, but getting there with two kids has so far been a challenge. Where we live is hilly so the double stroller is a good workout for me, but hard to do when it's hot out. I feel kind of dumb driving, but I'll do it. But then when we're at the park, I'm sort of at a loss - Pickle still needs a lot of help getting around on the playground structures or being pushed in a swing, but what do I do with Baby Bear? He's not content to lie in the stroller and it's getting too hot to wear him in the Ergo. I would like to find a park that has two baby swings next to each other so I can push them both in the swings at the same time, but I haven't found one yet.

3. Go swimming at least once a week. 

This is another challenge with two little ones. There are lots of free wading pools and splash pads near us, but I feel like both kids need my undivided attention for safety. Unless anyone knows of a baby carrier that can go in the pool? That would be great. My other option is my in-laws' house - they have a pool and there's usually a grandparent or other adult around to play with Pickle in the big pool while Baby Bear and I splash in the little one. We just have to make a point of going.

4. Eat outside once a week. 

We have a lovely backyard that's getting lovelier now that we've decided what to do with some of the more questionable landscaping choices the previous owners made. It's kind of a hassle to drag the high chairs and whatnot outside, but I want to do it anyway.

5. Get all winter consignment sale items hung and tagged. 

Getting all my consignment stuff hung and tagged is a big project every time, but this season is going to be particularly large, and I don't want to put it off until the last minute. I'm about 1/3 of the way caught up, and when I get that done, I'd like to stay on top of it by hanging and tagging as soon as I determine that my kids have outgrown something.

6. Go to the Childrens Museum at least three times.

I bought a membership to our local Childrens Museum almost a year ago, went frequently for a while, and then got too pregnant to manage it. Our membership expires in about six weeks, and I'm unsure whether I want to renew it. I'll need to go check it out with both kids to see if it's still worth it.

7. Go to the zoo at least once a month. 

We might trade our museum membership for a zoo membership - it's a donation-based zoo, but membership has perks and we visit often enough in the winter that it'd be a good karma thing to do. In the winter there are preschool days, and in the summer there's a little theme park that Pickle might be old enough to enjoy. It's a fun quick outing for us, and if I remember to pack a lunch, winds up being very inexpensive.

8. Clean up the basement. 

The workbench is Peanut's domain for the most part, but I need things from it too sometimes and it's a disaster. There are other things I want to do down there, plus it's nice and cool, so we'll probably spend the hottest days down there while I get this project done.

9. Hold a diaper-box-truck playdate. 

I've been saving diaper boxes and any other box I come across ever since I saw this tutorial (thank you, Pinterest). I'm not super crafty but this seemed fun and cheap, and I've been wanting to host a project-based playdate for my moms' group. This will be a great way to use up some recyclables, give preschoolers a fun time, and take up a morning or afternoon.

10. Round on the NICU once a month. 

I've recently been through training to serve as a parent advocate at the hospital where Pickle spent the first five months of her life. I found it very helpful to talk to parents who had survived what seemed unsurvivable, and I am so thankful to be at a place in my life where I'm ready to give back. It can be emotionally wrenching to go back to the ward, so I don't want to burn myself out, but I do think I need a minimum goal to keep my skills sharp (maybe you wouldn't think that this work would need specific skills, but it does - there are so many things to say or not to say, so many ways to approach delicate situations, so many assumptions to avoid making that it really pays to stay in practice).

So that's my summer bucket list. I've got lots of other ideas as well and have been compiling a calendar of free summer activities that I find, but these are the things that I really, really want to accomplish.

What does your summer look like?


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Frugality in the moment

I've thought a lot lately about choosing frugality when it's off in the future vs. when you're in the middle of a situation where throwing money at the problem can make it go away.

Basically, do you pay for seats on the plane ahead of time?

We recently flew on a low-cost budget airline that charges extra for everything from carry-on bags (yes, carry-on!) to soda onboard the aircraft. Of course, choosing your own seat cost extra as well. I'm still getting used to traveling with other people than just myself, so on the first leg of the flight, I did what I would normally do - save money by not choosing seats ahead of time. This meant that I was stressed out about whether or not we'd all get to sit together right up until we checked in at the airport - and then my stress level skyrocketed when the agent looked worried as she tried to book our seats. She was able to get us in a row together (two adults, one kid, and one baby in arms) but it wasn't a sure thing.

Now, I will argue all day that when you buy tickets at the same time on the same credit card OBVIOUSLY you should get those seats together, but that's not how life in the real world works apparently. For the flight back, I paid $15 to make sure that we got a row together so I could avoid the stress of not knowing or of asking people to move so that we could sit together. Actually, I wasn't too stressed out about asking people to move (one look at our babies and people would probably volunteer to sit somewhere else!) but it occurred to me that if someone else had paid to select a seat and then had to move because of my wanting to save money, I would have veered from frugal to miserly, and that's not a line I want to cross.

Paying for it as a separate expense still irked me, so I tried to think of it as just rolling it into the cost of the plane tickets - they were still so much cheaper than another airline that would have offered confirmed seating for free. Being in the middle of the situation rather than just imagining it down the road made it a lot easier to throw money at the problem to fix it. I'm sure I do this without thinking all the time, and it's a slippery slope (buying the candy bar to stop your kid's tantrum is effectively the same thing) but sometimes I know I am just too cheap for my own good, and I'm glad I coughed up the money to relieve some stress during our trip.