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Happy Easter and wrap-up of the past couple weeks

April 16th, 2017 at 04:31 pm

Happy Easter! I see it's been nearly two weeks since I last posted.

Our screen-free vacation at the lake went really well. The kids, AS and I didn't look at screens at all, except I checked the time on my phone if there wasn't a clock nearby. NT used his phone for directions a couple of times (which we could have figured out with the map and a little bit of thinking, but oh well), for playing iTunes in the car (we thought it came with satellite radio and it didn't; I would've been fine with whatever radio stations we could find, but...) and to look up a couple of things. So he couldn't make it a day without the thing, but at least he wasn't constantly on it. Huge difference!

I was going to look at AS's edits of my novel, but she hadn't had a chance to work on it before we left. She printed it out and worked on it a little, and she's continuing to work on it electronically in her spare time now that we're back. Hopefully in a couple weeks I'll be able to start fixing it up for self-publication!

The lake house was really nice. We wished the main bedroom had a king-size bed but otherwise it was perfect. Both floors had a view right out onto the lake. The kitchen and whole layout was really nice. We had a rental minivan that was roomy and nice.

The weather was gray and rainy before and after our trip, but it was clear and 40s-60s the whole time we were there! Magically it started drizzling just as we were getting ready to drive home!

We were a near a small town (Alexandria), so we drove in occasionally. We went to a candy/ice cream store (twice), a quilting store (twice), a multi-level antiques place, fast food places, and the movies (Beauty and the Beast).

I got the kids out of bed some nights to come look at stars. The nearby town and other houses meant there weren't as many visible as I thought there'd be, but still more than in Minneapolis. We had a book to help us but I still couldn't figure out any constellations except Orion and the Big Dipper. NT found the North Star.

I read one and a half giant Stephen King novels I'd been meaning to get to: Duma Key (really good) and Under the Dome (amazingly good, but tense and dark. I mean they were both dark, but this one really hit me).

The kids did some drawing, playing on the beach, board games, reading and just bumping up and down the stairs with balloons the grocery store gave us. The only time one of them asked for a screen was when we were going to put SL in the bath, because at home we sometimes put a show on an iPad in the bath. But it was just habit and when we reminded her no screens, she just smiled and said she'd forgotten.

We cooked all but three meals; we grabbed Chipotle on the way up there, fast food for lunch after a nature walk one day (there was a paved trail that went between lakes), and Chinese takeout after the movie.

It wasn't a very frugal trip; between the movies, the three meals out, firewood, groceries and wine, candy and ice cream, and a few items at the quilting and antique stores, we spent probably about $400. And that wasn't counting the $450 for van rental and I think the house rental was about $600 or $700. But it was really fun and relaxing. I loved being away from screens! I've been trying to use them less since I got back, with varying success.

We got back last Sunday, and I've mainly been focused on getting back in the swing of things at work and back into the home routine of cooking etc. After four straight weeks of trips it's taking a while to feel settled again.

One thing I had to do in the middle of the week was get follow-up tests for the abnormal mammogram I got in March. I'm happy and relieved to say that it turned out to be a benign cyst which they drained on the spot. I'm sure the Wednesday appointment will result in some bills, and it wasn't exactly fun, but immeasurably better compared with the alternative of having the tests raise more concerns.

I had other things going on this week too; a friend over on Monday for dinner; a show Friday; the "Tax March" protest/rally on Saturday; and meeting with a friend Saturday evening to help her adjust her withholdings and with other financial things. Then last night we had to hide the eggs and put out the baskets from the Easter Bunny. This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 7:30 so the kids could start the egg hunt. I've been mainlining coffee to try and perk up!

Oh, and yesterday I got word of a raise! Just 2.5% cost of living, but I'll take it. I immediately bumped my 401(k) contribution up a percent, so I won't see most of the raise. But I did get one paycheck with it and gave each of us $15 extra in spending money.

We were going to pay a friend to put in screens on our front porch (which is a 2nd-floor balcony), but after NT bought the supplies he realized it would be a relatively simple job that he could handle. So he did it this weekend! Now the cats can enjoy the porch and when the mosquitoes come, NT will be able to hang out there without getting eaten alive. We may still have our friend help us fix up the floor out there; it's made of old boards covered with ugly peeling brown paint and is really in need of some sprucing up. But anyway, getting the screens up only cost about $150 in supplies!

I suppose it's time to start thinking about the yard and what we can do to get ready for spring. Our neighbors put down a plastic sheet last fall down one strip of the front yard to kill the grass so we could plant veggies there this year. We've tried in the backyard but the big buildings on either side plus the big tree makes it a very shady place, so the veggies didn't thrive. The front yard gets a lot of sun and there's one side by the steps that isn't used for anything else, so we'll try that this year.

I've also got to talk to the downstairs neighbors about the dogs using the backyard for a toilet and them not cleaning up unless I tell them we're going to have people over to hang out there. I'd like to be able to send the kids out back spontaneously this summer and not have to worry about dog poop. This winter it got absolutely shocking and disgusting. They were better last summer so hopefully it was a winter thing. But I've still got to have the talk. Hopefully they'll change that habit.

AA started art class this weekend. She really liked it. I'm glad because we signed up for about two months of it and it cost a fair penny!

The swim classes we wanted this spring were filled up, so we paid a bit more for four semi-private sessions (just SL and AA with the instructor). Maybe it'll be a blessing in disguise and they'll progress a little faster.

Let's see, any other updates? The kids had a good Easter egg hunt (indoor) and we have a vegan ham thawing for dinner tonight.

I think (hope!) this week should be relatively uneventful. I'm ready for a boring week! Smile

5 Responses to “Happy Easter and wrap-up of the past couple weeks”

  1. rob62521 Says:

    Good news on the raise!

    I'm impressed you and your fam kept off of screens for so long. I get very discouraged when we are out and about and I see babies and toddlers with phones in their hands looking at the screens. I understand parents needs a break, but how will their kids ever learn how to have a conversation if they are babysat by technology? I like technology, but it isn't the end all, be all. Glad you did something about it!

  2. livingalmostlarge Says:

    Sounds like a great trip.

  3. Carol Says:

    I was surprised on two different occasions at how willing my granddaughters ( 15 and 11) were to hang around and converse. Rob makes me think they must be realizing the lack or liking the socializing (and one is wed to her phone). It's good for all of us to do face to face with each other.😉

  4. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Congrats on the raise and the fun trip!

  5. Debt-free by Thir-ty Says:

    Sounds like you had a great, rejuvenating vacation!

    For the porch screen, did NT do the traditional staples? We're rescreening our deck and looking to install the screen tight system, but it's considerably more than just stapling the screens in. We're looking at $200-300 whereas simply restapling new screening in would be about $75.

    Hopefully, the dog thing is more of a cold-weather issue. I know I tend to let it accumulate more in the winter, but once the weather warms up, I pick it up immediately. One, I have no excuse not to step outside because it's not freezing, but two, if I don't get it quickly, bugs tend to get to it.

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