It’s been a week now since we returned from Italy, and the grief that gripped me has lessened a bit. As my husband noted, I’ve never been so heartbroken to return home from a trip before.
It was our first big trip (first plane flight) since Covid began, the first time to see our dear friends in two and a half years, and our first visit to Italy. The confluence of all of those things (and the fact that everyone in Italy masks up like it isn’t a huge divisive issue), made the trip absolutely magical, and I hit the ground a bit upon return.
The ache to go back is definitely there, but it’s settled into a throbbing ache rather than an open wound. Have you ever had a trip like that? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. Both years I’ve won a Plutus Award (or a couple), I’ve received a branded backpack as some of the winner swag. The bag from the 2021 awards became my carry on for our Italy trip. I usually use a smaller day pack as a carry on, but since this was an overseas trip – and some seriously long plane flights – I wanted a bigger bag, and the Plutus one was perfect.
Plus, it was just fun to bring along some personal finance swag to Italy. I also wore my Women’s Personal Finance shirt to the airport, but alas, no one asked me about it this time. At this point, a very disproportionate amount of my stuff and clothes are personal finance related, and I’m good with that.
2. I enlisted the services of one of our preteen neighbor kids to help with the chickens while we were in Italy, plus had him take care of the dogs and cat for the weekend our roommate was out of town during that time. I paid him, and he practically went through the roof when he realized the amount.
While it was definitely less than we would have paid a housesitter (thanks to our roommate we don’t need one), it was a lot of money for an eleven year old, since we were gone for two full weeks. It gave me so much joy to give him the money, plus the responsibility of taking care of the chickens (he got to take the eggs home too).
For those wondering about us not paying our roommate for dog and cat watching while we were gone (the snake needs nothing during a two week trip), we way under charge him for rent – and have for years. Part of that very low rent is the understanding that he is more of a full housemate, and that it’s his responsibility to take care of the animals while we’re gone. It isn’t a huge ask since he lives in our house anyway, but I only feel comfortable not paying him knowing that he still comes out way ahead based on the super low rent. And of course, we brought him home a small bottle of limoncello from the Amalfi coast.
3. My parents were out of town this week, so the kiddo spent a full day with my grandmother instead of time shared with my mom. Now that he’s seven, it’s definitely easier than when he was younger, but there’s the expectation of getting schoolwork done that didn’t exist as a toddler.
The two of them had a wonderful day, and it makes my heart so happy that they have such a close connection. It really is pricelessly special. The kiddo keeps asking to continue to homeschool after this school year, and while we likely won’t, I can see why he feels that way.
4. While Thursday is meant to be my “day off” work, I often have one or more meetings I can’t get out of, mostly thanks to some boards and commissions I’m on that have their monthly meetings on Thursdays. This Thursday, though, I had the day completely off, including having the Planning Commission meeting cancelled in the evening. It felt glorious, but also a little confusing at the end of the day when I realized it was in fact Thursday and not Sunday night.
Since I had the day free, the kiddo and I did some schoolwork early and then headed to an awesome trampoline park for the morning. Since the mask mandate is no longer in place (*sob*), we made sure to go right when they opened (and wore our KN95 masks the whole time). It was so much fun, and while not “frugal” ($48 for the two of us for 90 minutes) it was 100% worth it. Part of the fun of homeschooling is definitely getting to do “out of the ordinary” stuff during the middle of the day when everyone else is in class.
I’m also a bit sore today (they also had a giant bouncy house where you had to climb handholds to slide down big slides as well as climbing walls). Nothing makes you feel out of shape like keeping up with a 7 year old at a trampoline park.
The kiddo also made a friend there, and near the end of our time, he went up to her mom to ask for a phone number so we could plan a park play date in the future. My extroverted, people-loving self melted to see it, and I’ll definitely be finding a time for him to get to play again. Seattle freeze, who?
5. Spring is in full bloom, even if we are still getting freaking hail in April, and the garden is full of green shoots. Thursday night’s dinner was fried rice, filled with our garden produce (spring garlic, green onions, carrots, kale, and broccoli), along with our chickens’ eggs. Few things make my heart happier than meals produced mainly from food I’ve grown myself. Now for the weather to chill out and actually get out of the 30s at night so I can plant more spring crops.
**Oh! I almost forgot – I filed our taxes and maxed out my IRA again this year, for the fourth year in a row! I almost didn’t this year, and had to take a bit out of savings temporarily to finish it out, but I decided it was worth doing not to break the streak. Now that I’ve done it, I’m sure glad I did.
What’s the weather like near you these days? I suppose it’s time to get used to this wild climate changed weather, because I don’t see it getting better.