Hallelujah, I can see blue skies! It rained in earnest on Sunday and did a really good job clearing up the air beyond what was predicted, which meant we were actually able to spend a good amount of time outside this past week. Being stuck inside for a week or more at a time is something we never do, even in the middle of rainy winter, so it was definitely an adjustment for all of us and we had some serious cabin fever around here.
Monday after work, instead of heading for my usual run, I picked the kiddo up from preschool as soon as I could and we went to the park to meet up with a few friends. I missed my run, but it was absolutely worth it for him to get a few hours at the park with his friends, and I got some time with mine as well. When the smoke finally goes away, you take advantage and spend most of the afternoon outdoors.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. Apparently I’ve chosen well when it comes to frugal mom friends. When we arrived at the park, one brought two brand new t shirts for the kiddo that she’d gotten from a friend who works at a department store and the other brought a bag full of plums she’d picked from her neighbor’s yard (with permission, of course). I’ve done clothing swaps and shared garden produce with both of them, and I definitely appreciated the reciprocation.
They’re also friends who are perfectly happy meeting up at the park with snacks to share instead of going out to somewhere pricey. I may not have very many mom friends, but the ones I do have are totally awesome. Plus my son loves their boys and asks to play with them on a regular basis, so it’s a fun time all around when we get to hang out. They are both stay at home moms so we met up at the park at 3PM right after nap time, and again I really appreciated my reduced schedule that allows me to have those afternoons when everyone else is still at work.
2. Another night over the weekend I went over to a friend’s house for dinner and for our kids to play. We coordinated ahead of time and were able to make dinner by shopping out of our pantries and my garden, so this was a zero cost evening, complete with leftover wine from another party she’d had at her house the week prior. We made burgers for dinner using the last of the Cajun seasoning mix I had gifted her last Christmas, and I would HIGHLY recommend making burgers this way. They were SO good, plus the hamburger came from our bulk local beef purchase last month, so it was high quality to begin with.
3. After weeks and weeks talking about how I needed to get back into the habit, I actually brought real leftovers for lunch this week! Our roommate made us tacos for dinner Sunday night and I took the leftover ground beef from that meal and added zucchini, tomatoes, onions, candied jalapeños, and rice to make a tasty casserole type meal for lunches. It made enough for three meals and it was SO much tastier than the oatmeal or canned soup that I’ve been eating a lot of lately.
I’m looking forward to fall and cooler weather because it is way easier to prep bulk lunches when it’s not too hot to cook inside. And homemade meals are a thousand times tastier than the simple meals I’ve been eating. I haven’t been buying lunches almost ever though, so at least I haven’t caved and slid back into the habit of spending way too much money on work lunches.
4. Our son received a balance bike from my parents for Christmas this past year, and it’s been one of his favorite possessions since then. However, the neighbor kid closest to his age recently got a pedal bike and he’s been dying for one ever since then. I had been telling him that he would just have to wait for Christmas because he has a perfectly good bike, and he’d more or less accepted it other than continuing to ask for one at regular intervals.
Our neighbor then walked across the street this week with a bike his grandchildren had outgrown, asking if we knew someone who might like a bike. Well, we definitely did, and that little boy has been on his new “pedal bike” every day since. We’ll pass it along to another kid once he’s outgrown it, but for now it is a very appreciated new toy. Again, we have the very best neighbors.
5. My husband worked extra hours this and last week in exchange for Friday off to extend the long weekend instead of burning up vacation time. Since we’ve been taking more regular trips of the one and two week variety the past few years, any days off that aren’t PTO are very much appreciated. I also currently get a week more of vacation time than he does (I’ve been at my job longer), but we rarely take days off separately since having our son.
Time for longer (and more frequent) trips are something we’re definitely struggling with because neither of us want to leave our jobs any time soon, but an extra few weeks of vacation sure wouldn’t go amiss. We just have way too much we want to do and see that it makes it difficult to fit even a fraction of it in to our schedules, so the occasional “extra” day earned from longer days is always good to have.
Since I took my son to the park for a play date on Monday, I didn’t end up getting to run that day. I did go for a short run Tuesday and my normal six mile run to work Wednesday morning, but now that I’ve gotten used to 3-4 days a week, two just didn’t seem like enough. Worth it though to take an afternoon to focus on the kid. Just like with vacation time, there is so much I want to do in a week and just never enough time to do it.
How do you work out vacation time with your job? Do you have any flexibility to manage more frequent or longer trips by way or longer hours or remote work? Any tips for us?