Once upon a time, a long time ago, I dreamed of my children going to school. Yes, beautiful school. They would learn the subtle parts of American society and we could learn together how to navigate them. We would be out of daycare, out of diapers and out of the baby/toddler prison.
Sometimes, you get what you wish for. June, in this area, is hell. School ends in June, therefore, all of the end of year items stack up on one another leading to an ultimate collapse where the parents are at the bottom of the pile gasping for air.
Sunday (officially May) Luna has her very first ice skating competition. Tomorrow she is reviewing the elements with her skating instructor. Can you believe my 4 year old wants to compete in ICE SKATING?
Saturday we have a birthday party followed by a Kids’ night out. I think Jay and I are coming back to the house and crashing!
The next 3 weeks are packed with different activities. Then we will gently usher in summer with a "Jedi Training Party" for Luna’s 5th birthday. I found a suggestion of light sabres made out of PVC for the kids, but as I can imagine bruises galore, I think I will make them out of pipe insulators. Much easier on the head… I have some other games selected (Asteroid hunt- candies wrapped in foil "asteroids", 2 Target practices- hit a hanging ball with your light sabre and a bean bag toss, and a Jedi Training course where they have to jump over things, cross over a swimming pool (kiddie plastic thingy) on a board and then jump on the trampoline 3 times..)Now I just have to execute!
More on money:
Every year, Jay sets up a rough budget. The income is basically our biweekly take home paycheck X2 X12. This shorts us 2 paychecks. Jay does this on purpose and assumes we just put this money into savings. Then we mark out what we spend every month and/or we take the yearly payout (for example, violin lessons that I pay 3x a year) and divide by 12 to get a rough monthly payout. The difference is our "savings".
We automatically pay into our 403(b) accounts (those are like 401(k) accounts, but for educational professionals), so that money is never counted in our budget. It isn’t counted on the income or outgoing. Vapor money. That’s for retirement.
We have two "types" of accounts with our financial adviser. A "savings" account and a "retirement" account. The money we place in the retirement accounts, we ignore. That money is not to be touched unless we absolutely have to. So far, we haven’t needed to. The "savings" accounts are used for the big items: new furnace in our old house, down payment for the car, the kitchen remodel, the electrical work we need to do this week.
I am always worried about having savings. When I was in college, I lived less than paycheck to paycheck. It was scary and that is knowing that I could always ask family to help. Now I see that more and more people are living this way. Not being able to save because of the costs of life. Then something happens. Even something simple as a water heater failing. That is enough to get someone behind.
I see that my sister is struggling. She always has. Can one ever escape this cycle? I think the new economy won’t allow people to escape this. We are seeing more and more people losing their homes, not because they were greedy, but a health issue. That’s usually the "something". Health insurance covers somethings, but not all.
The new economy scares me. Not really for me, but for everyone. Who can afford their home? Who has lost a job? What is going to happen for these people?
I thought this would be a nice relaxing weekend. I thought that I could catch up on sleep. The weather was nice, but…
- I got up at 6:30 Sat to go shopping in Kittery Maine with a friend. We got back by 11:45.
- I was awoken Sunday by a 6 year old who was VERY angry that her sister had cheated in dominoes. Dudes, I didn’t think you COULD cheat in dominoes.
- I was at the gym at 8am Monday to meet with my personal trainer who has managed to make every muscle in my body ache.
We did have fun:
- Friday night, I baked a cake and used Fondant for the first time. The cake came out great. The fondant (Wilton’s) tasted very chemically to me. I don’t like it, but I’ve read there are better fondants out there (if you have used a better one,let me know!)
- Saturday was Jay’s birthday. We went out to see Star Trek. Loved it. The best characters were Scotty and McCoy. Those actors have got it down!
- Sunday the girls had swimming and we had a BBQ. It was nice. The BBQ was at our friend Crazy H’s house. I haven’t spoken to her in a long time and she claims it is because of work. It’s possible, her university is having some serious financial issues, so I won’t hold it against her!
- Monday, Jay had a second softball game (the Jewish league plays on Sunday mornings. Three teams showed up to play and only 1 team, Jay’s, had 9 players. They did a fun game.) This was to make up for Sunday. I wanted him to get out because he is FINALLY feeling strong after the years of crohn’s.
- We also had the Memorial Day Parade in town. I biked up to the town center with the girls. It took 30 minutes for something that would take me 10. Luna was complaining that her legs hurt from the get go, but being the bitch I am, I made her ride the whole dang thing.
- I got a nap! for 3 hours! Heaven! I made up for last week’s lack of sleep!
Next weekend? Yeah- birthday party and Luna has an ice skating competition. Her first. (yeah- I know, it was Supposed to be in February, but,…)
Where was I? Oh yeah, freaking out.
Strangely? Today is better. As in much better. I don’t get it.
So we are currently undergoing a huge "money in flux" issue. We have money coming in and going out. We took a crap load (no I am not going to give you the final number) out in September to do our kitchen. I am pleased with that and we have paid more than 60% from our savings and the rest we were
forced by Jay’s parents asked to please take a loan from the in-laws. They have this thing about leaning money out. I always feel terrible because I would rather just pull it from savings, but they have this family thing so WHATEVAH. We are almost done paying for my car, and the biggest expense in our lives for the past 7 years is almost over….daycare.
Luna leaves daycare mid-June. We have a mini vacation to visit the in-laws and then summer camp begins. She will go back to daycare for the last 2 weeks of the summer because, for reasons unbeknown to mankind, no summer camp runs the last 2 weeks before school. Then, she starts KINDERGARTEN! Happy dance happy dance! Afterschool care is about 1/6 the cost of daycare, so that is great for us. For those of you who neither having children nor live in Boston, you may be surprised that daycare for a pre-K program can cost over $1500 a month. I’ll wait while you pick yourself off the floor. We could have gone to a private daycare, but I wasn’t comfortable with that. We could have made me SAHM, but then I would be in the insane asylum.
So we will suddenly have this money to start squirreling away. Yet… I still am freaking about the cost of everything. The cost of repairs (my muffler is going), the cost of electricity, the cost of water (I bought a rain barrel so we could not spend so much on watering my tomatoes this year), the cost of everything. I guess when your dad lost his job when you were in high school, you have a different feeling about money. I learned right then how much the loss of an income can hit a family. Then in grad school, I usually made meals with Ramen noodles that I had purchased with coins.
Now I have the extra money to save. So why am I still freaking out? Jay has pointed out that we have been barely saving since Soleil was born. He’s right. And since she started school, we’ve been putting stuff away again (we had been married 7 years before she was born). Now with Luna going to school, more will go away.
So why do I freak?…
I’ve been going through some serious FREAK OUTS since the trip to North Carolina. I enjoyed the quiet and luxury of relaxing (when I could) and not having the stress of work. Then my private hell of realizing just how hard it was to be with your kids 24/7 for 9 days, 4 of which were in the car, started. This was followed by a 24 hour Girl Scout camp training the following weekend. Assorted school activities and doctor appointments for the kids. Preparign the parents and the troop for the Girl Scout encampment. Going to the Girl Scout encampment, recovering from GS encampment (which was mentally and physcially hard) and now back to a quiet week.
On top of all of this, we’ve decided to refinance our mortgage to a 4.something % for 20 years instead of the 6.something for 30 years that we currently have. Because we are gluttons for punishment. Or something like that.
All of this has gotten me freaked out. I am tired of working. But I need to work for my sanity and my paycheck. Sigh. I wish I had the winning lottery ticket. Not millions and millions, but maybe $100,000 a year for life. I could deal with that.
I have more to say on my stresses, but no time right now!
Last night, Soleil’s plans to open her restaurant were thwarted by dad.(yes, she wants to open a restaurant called the Horse House which serves mac-n-cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chicken nuggets. Personally? I think there already is a market for Trigger burgers.)
Dad informed her that I had already requested taco like materials since he wouldn’t let me have my dinner of choice (pancakes or waffles). She went into meltdown mode. The kid tries to fit 27 hours worth of life into the 19 hours that she is awake everyday. It really does overwhelm her when she can’t do everything she planned.
She got so angry that she went over to the patio doors and kicked the screen. Crap, she popped the screen out. We let her run off in the yard to calm down. When she came in, I talked to her about this. She was upset when I explained that she would need to pay for the repair. Upset is a mild word. Perhaps devastated would be better. Her entire life was RUINED because I would make her pay for the repair (we figure $5 at most). She told me I was ruining it all. (She is SO ready for middle school, don’t you think?)
When she was calmer, I explained that this is the part of the mom job I hate. "Which part?" she asked. "The part where I have to hold you accountable for your actions. I would much prefer to let you kick the screen, get out your anger and let it go. But what would happen if I did that?" I replied. "I would never learn to take care of things", was the sad answer. "yeah, you would become an adult who can’t control herself and damages things and doesn’t know what the acceptable thing is to do". "I know, mom, but I don’t like it", wiping her tears away.
"I don’t like it either. I wish I could pick up after you every time, but that’s not fair to you. You would be a terrible adult if I did that."
"I know mom. Being a mom is hard."
You are so right, girl. So right.
I was recently sent a link to a great article called "Stop Worrying About Your Children!" Go ahead, please read it… All 3 pages. I’ll wait…
(insert tune from Jeopardy! here)
You back? Great. So, let’s discuss. What do you think? What ages are appropriate for things for your kids?
Does the neighborhood you live in allow you to make these decisions? If there are bullets flying, is it safer to be at home (in Boston a few years ago, a girl was hit by a shot while on her porch. She is now wheelchair bound. The bullet was not meant for her house)? Or safer to be out?
When would you let your child babysit? What age are the babysitters you hire?
Would you let your child walk to school? Ride their bike?
Here are my thoughts so you can tell me what a horrible parent I am…
- I have let the girls play out in the yard since Soleil was 4. When Luna hit 3ish, we let them both be out alone.
- I have let them bike in the neighborhood cul-du-sac without me. With walkie-talkies and me in my driveway, but while giving them freedome
- We’ve let them walk up the street on the sidewalk without us with the walkie-talkies.
- We walk them to the bus stop, which is around the corner and down the next street. The bus stops on a busy street.
- The youngest sitter we’ve had was 13. Luna walked all over her. Our regular sitter started at 14.
- We’ve taught them what to do if someone asks to help find a dog, etc. We repeatedly check them on that.
- We’re making sure they can both swim. And then still insist they not be alone near a pool.
- We have let them have small amounts of alcohol, during Shabbot and Passover. We’ve talked about how they can’t do this with friends or at anyone else’s house. Yes, they are still 4 & 6. Yes, they have had wine. And NO, it is not just Manichevitz.
- We’ve not yet approached rape/sex/casual sex. etc… I am planning on teaching them both how to put a condom on.
- We have discussed never getting in a car with someone drinking or if they have had a drink. We’ve explained that this won’t happen for a long time, but it will happen. And they had better call us.
- We let them explore their world with out ignoring them
- Soleil is learning how to flip pancakes
- Luna is learning how to pour them out.
I read letter to the editor recently that said "the parents need to teach our children not to drink" and "these young adults are being killed and need to be responsible" and "we need stronger laws for our children". Okay, so they are both children and young adults? um, no, you can’t have it both ways. Teens are a mix. Their brains are still working on the maturity to learn how to evaluate situations. They need parental guidance, but we have to allow them to make mistakes.
In general, I find Americans are afraid to let our children explore. Trust me, I get scared of this too. Jay often needs me to remember the worst case scenario and then walk the kids through it. Then we realize how they CAN do this. We need to be there to help our children. Allowing them freedom is not negligence.
Okay, getting my fireproof suit on!
I have to admit, I have not been posting as much as I would like. What has been happening? **SPOILER ALERT FOR PARENTS OF PRESCHOOL CHILDREN** It turns out that once your child enters the world of school, the months of May and June spiral into a worm hole that sucks in as much matter as possible, turning your once "Restoration Hardware" worthy living room into a disaster zone of construction paper projects and cut outs. In addition, you have the maximum amount of stuff to deal with in the minimum amount of time (remember that space and time are connected and the worm hole affects both).
We had the Spring Concert for Soleil’s class yesterday. And we had Luna’s 5 year checkup.(a whole other post about why do peds NOT HAVE ALL OF THE VAX ON HAND) I think I got a total of 2 hours of work in. I am preparing to take my Girl Scout Troop up to our town encampment. This is an overnight trip where the entire town goes. Most of the girls have a dance recital on Friday, so we are going up Saturday morning. Leaving my house at 7:30am (YIKES). Only 3 girls are staying overnight, but then we return on Sunday. I am trying to be prepared for this trip, but I am nervous.
We also have the Spring field trip, the extra days due to snow days at school (making school end late on June 19). In addition to all of this, we are arranging our travel to Brazil for the International Astronomical Union meeting in August. The hotel we arranged claims we can’t fit 4 people in one room in Brazil, so we are looking into a suite to have the girls sleep in the main room and we sleep in the bedroom.
Then we need to get our visas for the Brazil trip ($140 EACH).
Can you tell we’ve been a bit busy?
Anyway, I will try to post more as I can, but right now? Yeah, that wormhole has taken over my life!
Dear Shampoo companies:
Why on earth do you insist on the "lather, rinse, repeat"? Why can’t you make a product that works the first time? Do you really think we are that stupid to wash our hair twice?
You have your own bed. It is nice, comfortable, and has a Backyardigans throw. You need not come to my room every night. And Lil? My cat? yeah, STOP STEALING HER! You have your own stuffed animals.
How many times do I need to remind you to put the dirty clothes in the closet? Seriously?
You are stressing me. Please stop. Thank you.
Do you really need to release so much pollen right now? I am getting sick of sneezing. Also, if I wanted my car yellow, I would have bought a yellow car.
Dear Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts:
I know, we have encampment this weekend. And I know I am going for my troop, but REALLY What I want? Is a Girl Scout spa weekend for all volunteers, as costs paid. Please consider this in the future. Thanks!
Thank you for doing your best to stay away. It’s been a tough month in other aspects. Thanks.