Tuesday, June 26

When The Plague Comes!

Our home was cursed with the plague the past weekend. I picked my son up from school on Thursday evening and learned that he has just thrown up and they were in the office calling me to pick him up. The poor guy was obviously very sick with a high fever (103) and then continued to throw up five more times throughout the night. My poor husband had to be up at 5 AM to catch a flight to Santa Clara for an important presentation. 10 loads of laundry later and the destruction of my favorite pillow (It fell apart in the laundry), our son gradually started to feel better. He insisted (begged) for an ice cream cone as soon as he woke up on Friday morning. I reluctantly gave in. Fortunately the throwing up stopped, but the fever lasted another day. My in-laws had rented our favorite beach house in Cannon Beach for the weekend and we decided that we would venture out on Saturday afternoon once our son's fever was gone. At this point I noticed that our cat had not eaten food for (at least) two days. He is a big cat and begs for food constantly... something was wrong. We found him outside... He was very lethargic and clearly sick. We managed to get a vet appointment on Saturday morning before leaving for the beach. Good thing we did... He had a high fever and was clearly very sick. Our vet admitted him for an IV and antibiotic drip. We managed to make it to the beach on Saturday and had a lovely time. We even had a great deal of sunshine although the weather forecast called for rain. On Monday morning I woke up feeling really sick. My son's bug had gotten to me. I had severe (SEVERE) muscle ache and fever. We came home from the beach and I spent the day in bed.

This morning I woke up with a 100.5 fever... darn, what is it going to take to shake this thing.The good news is our cat is home from the vet. His $238 vet bill is a small price to pay to get rid of the plaque and return to our normal routine!

Wednesday, June 20

Backyard Paradise

We had a playdate with old friends at their lovely home in Milwaukie, Oregon. They live on a lush green plot of land near the Willamette River and they have created a magical backyard paradise. There is a lovely homemade gazebo, raised garden beds with tomatoes and peas, a rock garden, a berry patch with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, a very fun and funky tree house, and a zip line with a swing! What a place for a kid to grow up!! Their daughter was ever so adventurous as she greeted us barefooted. Scrapes, bug bites and bruises do not slow her down or intimidate her. I admired her mom for allowing her daughter to run and play freely. Those of you who know our family well would probably agree that our son is a bit of a "hot house flower". This is the last thing I want for him, yet this is the environment we have created.

It was thrilling to see him kick off his shoes and climb into the treehouse. He squealed with delight as he took rides on the zip swing.

I'm inspired to create more opportunities for our son to run free and be a kid, even if that means getting dirty or even getting (a bit) hurt. What is childhood without a few bee stings, scrapes and falls? I hope they invite us back soon ;-)

Sunday, June 17

Did I mention... It's FREE!!!

We spent the weekend in Eugene, OR. The highlight was the most amazing playground. "Oh... MY.... GOD....!!!!" It was a delightful Father's Day morning... Lots of glorious sunshine and warmth.
This place is so special... You must visit!!!

It made me want to move to Eugene just so we could spend more time here. This playground is nestled on the Willamette River at Skinner's Butte Park. It is the best designed and most unique play area I have ever seen. There is an adorable little play village with tiny open structures (City Hall, Jail, Hotel, etc. ), there are fun water features, a ferry ride, a super unique sand pit with smooth rocks for climbing and a river of water that runs through it, unique swings, slides, etc. This place is pretty amazing!!

Playground seeking has become a hobby of ours... On our recent trip to NY we visited over 10 playgrounds! (The Chelsea Waterpark wins for NYC). There is nothing even close to this in Portland.

Did I mention... It's FREE?!!

Wednesday, June 13

Happiness at any cost...

I am 5 days into this new venture and things have been surprisingly easy. It might have something to do with the fact that I spent money like a maniac two weeks prior to this venture.

It is very weird to carry cash. I have never carried more than $20 cash - and that was RARE!

So far our spending is in line with our goals... I'll post some details in a few days.

The real goal of this project is to spend less without sacrificing quality of life. The point is to feel empowered, not compromised. The point is to be happier and more fulfilled, not deprived and depressed. I realized a few things that are important to me and I refuse to live without. Here is my list:

1. Shopping at New Seasons Market
I love this store. I'll just have to find a way to shop smarter, buy less, and focus on the bargains.
2. Having a manicure every three weeks
I opt for the quickie manicure (without a massage). It is $1o plus $2 tip!
3. Having my hair highlighted every 4 months and trimmed every 2 months
What can I say? I have to try and mask those pesty gray hairs. What I lack in legs I have to make up with my hair!
4. Shopping at the Farmer's Market
Okay... I have wasted a lot of money here in the past. I will stick to a 2 item and $10 budget
5. Online shopping
This makes my husband flip-out. In truth, I expect to do minimal shopping online, but there are times when you need photos, or gifts, etc. and the best prices and convenience is found online. Of course, I cannot use the credit card. I'll make special arrangements to use the debit card.
6. Eating out
Like everything else, we will need to do less of this and find smarter ways to stretch our dining dollars.

Okay... I'm sure you are thinking, she's not willing to give up shit! The proof will be in the numbers.

Sunday, June 10

My 41st Year Begins

The credit card has been put away...
Over the past 4 years my husband and I have accrued 300,000 miles on Alaska Airlines so we can take a first class trip to Europe. To do this we have learned to charge EVERYTHING... coffee to groceries to gas to utilities to insurance, etc. It was especially thrilling when we made big purchases (appliances, etc.). We have been very disciplined about paying our bill in full every month. The problem is that we have gradually lost an awareness of how much we spend. We have often had to dip into our cash savings to sustain our expenses. We decided that we have the miles we need for the three of us to take sabbatical in Europe next summer, so the credit card miles are no longer needed.

Beginning today we will attempt to live on cash and a heck of a lot less. Our proposed monthly cash budget is about 50% of our average credit card bill over the past year.

Can it be done?

I spent $2.81 yesterday (4 pieces of whole nutmeg to make snicker doodles and an orange to make old fashioned cocktails - thank god we already had bourbon!). My frugal husband spent $42... crisis ensued when his mother insisted that he attend a family wedding in Austin, TX. Hours into our new plan and we are already faced with a $300 airline ticket!!! Fortunately we were able to use some airlines miles in our United account so he could avoid a family crisis!