Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lots of Being Busy

Anthony had his century bike ride on Sunday and quite enjoyed it. He was happy with his time and happy with the ride. He was a bit tired on Sunday and Monday, too, but nothing major and not even really sore or anything. What a stud.

Davan played with her friend, I, most of the day Sunday and had a great time, as well. She came home starving, as usual, having not found much there that she was willing to eat. I'm thinking of making her a card saying something like, "I'm mostly a vegan, so I don't eat dairy (especially cheese - some other very small amounts of dairy are okay) or meat, although I do sometimes eat seafood. I prefer whole grains. I don't eat anything with high fructose corn syrup, nor things with a lot of sugar, as a general rule. If you don't know what to feed me, it's okay. Just let me or my mom know and I can bring some food from home. I do like most fruits and vegetables!" Then we can just hand out the card when she is going to go over to someone's house for the first time. As it is, we hardly discuss it and then it's left looking like she's a very picky eater, which she is sort of, but mostly out of making healthy choices, as opposed to to traditional view of picky, where a child only eats peanut butter and jelly and mac and cheese.

I played Twilight Imperium most of the day, which was both fun and...well, overloaded with teenage boys....who are usually okay, but sometimes a little...well, teenage boyish. Lots of movie quotes and reenactments, lots of getting sidetracked.

Then we had our usual Monday on the run with art, swimming and Do Jump. Anthony took the day off from riding, so he met us at Do Jump. He and I spent our "date" time eating our packed dinner, going to Trader Joes and going for a walk.

Yesterday was not so busy, but still went by way too fast. I mailed off a few things that had been bought on EBay, riding my bike to the post office to do so. Davan had gymnastics in the evening - she got a rip last night, poor kid. My father in law also came over for dinner.

I filled my time with going over our budget. At times, we've stayed strictly on budget. That is, we've taken out cash for the month for various things - food, gas, fun spending - and, when it's gone, it's gone. And we have to make due until the next month. At other times, it's a loose guideline. We each have our allowance and we just keep in mind what our budget is. At other times, we are a little reckless, without letting ourselves get into debt, but letting things slide a bit so that our cash store gets depleted more than it should. The whole time Max was here, we were mostly between not strict and a little reckless.

The last time I looked at our budget was in the spring. Things looked okay and I maintained a relaxed feel about money after that. However, our financial picture has changed drastically. We did have a little income for having Max with us, which we lost, but, really, about covered our month to month spending on him, so until the summer camp spending, we were really about breaking even there. The main things are first the huge spike in spending just before he left, continuing on until after he left because of the camp not reimbursing us when we pulled him out of the camps that happened after he left, and Davan being on team.

The camp spending for the summer was rough on the savings account (not to mention his birthday party, which was more extravagant than we've done for birthdays in the past). Plus, just before and just after he left, we did a lot of spending on eating out and, generally, just had an attitude of, "Let's not worry about that right now," in regards to spending. Well, and I went and signed Davan up for Do Jump, thinking she was quiting gymnastics. But, then she didn't. All of that ate away at some money that we were hoping use for home improvement.

What is on-going is Davan's gymnastics. It's a hugely expensive sport. For the 12 hours of gymnastics instruction a week, we're paying $220/month. In addition to that, we have team fees, totaling $1250 for the competitive season, $196 for her competition leo and warm ups, $200 (maybe more - I don't know yet if we'll need hotels for other meets - that's just one) for a night at Great Wolf Lodge where she has a meet in January, and $56 to be a member of the United States Gymnastics Federation, without which, she can't compete. Whew. It's a lot. Like a dip into our savings to make it happen a lot. I don't want our savings to completely disappear.

So, in order to keep the dipping into the savings to a dull roar, we're going to be on a pretty strict budget. I need to keep spending on food down more than I have been. We need to keep within our small family fun budget. We can do, on average, a couple of nights of tent camping a month - more if we free camp. If we want to camp over the winter (more than I've already planned for), which means yurts, we might have to make cuts elsewhere if we want to stay more than one night.

The budget doesn't even really cover special spending - such as our birthdays (we do have a small fund for miscellaneous expenditures, which includes birthday presents for cousins and such) and other holidays. It'll be difficult to afford to eat out on those days, frankly, and stay in budget. Anthony does get two "bonus" paydays a year because he gets paid on an every two week schedule. That works out to two pay days a month most months, but two months a year, there are three. Those extras paychecks will have to cover gymnastics related stuff that the monthly budget doesn't, birthdays and holidays, clothes, travel (we are going to Disney World in December, which we're only having to pay for our own tickets into the park and food, but that will be expensive enough), home improvement. That's a long way to stretch.

It's important to note that we're not destitute. The worst case scenario really is that we eat away at our savings, not that we don't eat, and that's if Davan continues with gymnastics. Without gymnastics, we're making ends meet well enough, although who doesn't want a little more? To think we could have just quit gymnastics and I actually encouraged her to stick with it.

Now that we're past the rough patch, though, it's clear that she really does love it. She talks about it all the time, loves getting and improving skills, and even had great things to say about last night, irregardless of her rip and the fact that she had a hard time eating the dinner I'd packed her (soup with no spoon). She's okay with me leaving and not watching practice. She's practicing at home. It's clear it's a passion. And I think valuable lessons were taught by getting through the difficult part. So, it's worth it. We'll just need to be more careful with money. Like everyone these days, I guess.

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