(Warning: This is more of a journal entry than a personal finance article. I will try to slip in some personal finance tips along the way. That’s also why I’m posting on a Saturday.)
For the first time in a week, I have the combination of a laptop, an internet connection, and potentially an hour of quiet time. I’m writing this at 4AM (Friday) which helps for the last part.
The last week for me was a lesson of how simple plans can go crazy.
We had booked 5 days to be at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire which is where my mother-in-law vacations around this time every year. She loves having this time with the kids. She was going to be there for a week, but we staggered our trip so that we’d have 3 days with the kids ourselves to go to Storyland (kids theme park) and then two days to ourselves in NH before returning to Rhode Island where our kids would be brought back to us at the end of my mother-in-laws trip.
That’s 5 days (Mon-Fri) of not supervising children, which would give me all the time in the world to do online work. I’m not smart to remind myself that things never go according to plan.
Monday turned out to be a family day because we didn’t sync up with my mother-in-law until around dinner. Extra family time is good and typically missing one day isn’t a big deal. Tuesday, my wife suggested we go to the outlet malls and do some back-to-school shopping. I agreed, because shopping for clothes with a 4 and 5 year is difficult, but also it would give me a chance to upgrade from the 20 year old shorts I’ve been wearing. (Microfiber was in style, went out of style, and fortunately came back in style during this time.) The outlet shopping ended up taking up much of the day. Afterwards it was time to check in on the kids and go to dinner.
Personal Finance tip: I thought outlet malls stopped being good deals about 15 years ago. It seemed like you got a lower quality product. I’ve changed my mind on this recently. I think now there are indeed some bargains to be had. As you can tell above (20 year old shorts), I don’t shop for clothes very often, but they seem a little big like TJ Maxx and occasionally better. We were able to get the kids a lot of the brand names that their classmates wear for special occasions.
Before I get to Wednesday, I have to take a step back. As we were running out of the door for our trip, we received some bad news. My wife’s paternal grandmother had passed away. I am the worst person in the world in dealing with death. I’m just one step below being Anya bad. However, in this case, I think death was truly her gift (to keep with the Buffy theme). She was 93 years old and had been everywhere and seen everything. Her husband of 71 years died last year. I had only met her 3 times with two of those times being my wedding and her husband’s funeral.
At the last minute my wife packed some clothes suitable for a funeral. She even grabbed a suit for me, but I couldn’t see the point. Since we had our dog on our trip, I wouldn’t be able to leave him alone and would probably have to miss the wake and funeral. I also had to be Rhode Island for Wednesday night as I am class parent at the kids school and I needed to be available to greet the new parents and the welcoming event.
The wake was planned for Wednesday evening. The plan was originally to drive from northern NH in the morning to southern Rhode Island to drop off me and the dog, with my wife going back to Boston for the wake. That’s about 6 hours round trip for her to get to the wake and another 1.5 hours to get back home that night. That would be followed by another 3-hour round-tripper to Boston the following day. That’s a lot of driving.
The welcoming event got pushed to Thursday due to bad weather. As we were driving down from NH on Wednesday morning, I had the idea, what if we just got a pet-friendly hotel around Boston for the night? It would save hours of driving back and forth to Rhode Island. Then I took it a step further and called my mother to see if we could stay there. Ordinarily this would be an easy thing to ask. However, she’s had some mobility problems and I didn’t know if introducing a dog was going to work. Once she found out that we didn’t have the kids, she agreed that having two adults may actually be helpful with a couple of things around the house.
We saved a lot of driving time and spent some quality time catching up with my mother and went to the wake Wednesday evening. Afterwards, we went out for a quick dinner before heading home and falling asleep. Thursday, we went out for breakfast, as my mother was, of course, not planning for our visit. If you live in the New England area, Friendly’s is offering 50% off of all breakfast M-F. Our bill for two huge breakfasts, drinks, etc. came to $13. After breakfast, we had just enough time to walk the dog and get dressed (thanks to my wife bringing the suit) and get to the funeral.
The lunch after the funeral ran late and we rushed down to Newport to meet with the new parents at the school. I didn’t have time to change and we were still 30 minutes late. It was still a successful event though I think it was a bit of a downer explaining that we were coming from a funeral.
While we were exhausted at that point, my wife and I really wanted to see the only showing of a documentary that near to dear to our hearts – Life in the Doghouse. It focuses on a pair of animal rescuers who have rescued over 11,000 dogs and have around 70 dogs living in their (very large) house all the time. It’s run as a non-profit and they take no salary. The money from their day job, show horse training, goes straight to the dogs. It’s really an amazing story and if you ever get the chance you should see the movie. Bonus points if you rescue a dog from Danny and Ron’s Rescue or anyone else.
Next week, I should be able to focus more on personal finance articles. I have a couple of ideas ruminating.