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Archive for May, 2008

Net Worth Update

May 31st, 2008 at 03:46 pm

Plugged things in and am making small progress.

Keep in mind, my goal is to increase net worth by $25k-$30k this year.

As of 5/31, I am up $4900.

I just got a statement on the kids' 529. Their investments are officially down $500 for the year.

You can argue if there money should be included, but I figure the more we put in there now the less we have to come up with later, so I count it, for now. For the long run I am sure we won't.

Retirement is up about $3300. We have contributed about $3300 this year, so basically I think it is safe to assume our investment return has been 0%, thus far this year.

We have paid $1600 off of our mortgage (just regular payments).

Oh, and cash is up $500. Our mid-term fund is doing well, but our short-term fund is in the red, for now. It fluctuates much, but makes our cash savings look pitiful for the moment.

I can pretty much break it down to:

$3300 Retirement Contributions
$1600 Mortgage Payments
$ 500 Cash Increase
$(500)Loss on 529s
------
$4900
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With the market the way it is, our goal will be very hard to meet this year. (Which just means we need to make up for it in good stock years...)








Preschool Expenditures...

May 30th, 2008 at 07:10 am

I did it!

I paid the last monster preschool bill. Woohoo.

& that temporary expense is long gone. Phew.

Anyway, it worked out rather well. Ms. Preschool called me yesterday and asked if I could bring the kids T/Th in June.

I looked at the calendar and that would be one less day to pay than M/W.

Woohoo.

So I wrote a check for $560 this month. Not so bad.

I peeked what this meant for July. With the switch back to M/W there will be an extra day to pay for July. & it is a long month. BUT one week is free (owners on vacation) and BM is only attending for half the month.

So July will be $420.

Average month is $600.

I upped my short-term savings to $1k in July, and going forward (diverted $100 of the savings).

I also considered adding $100 to our IRAs in July. I was just setting up everything in Quicken.

I decided to hold off. June is going to be another expensive month with our camping trip, Father's Day, our big date night, etc. July will be a little pricey with Birthdays (maybe). I figure I would earmark the $100-$200 saved for birthdays and camping. Seemed fair.

But August is it. I still haven't decided if I will fund IRAs or bulk up mid-term savings a bit. Or both.

Decisions, Decisions.

I am inclined to bulk up the savings instead. We've got about 12% going to retirement and majorly lack in the "big purchase" savings department. We have for years, but not sure how much longer our luck will hold out.

Then again I had been toying with the idea of doubling our IRA contributions now and doubling them in January (if possible).

We could also commit the entire $200 monthly to cash savings and then know we will have $300/month for IRAs, come 2010 when LM graduates preschool.

I think that is probably our best best since our retirement seems well enough on track. I just have a large urge to save more aggressively for retirement. But I don't want to do that at the cost of our shorter-term financial health.

It's probably the one area we have floundered with, since living on one-income. We haven't saved much cash. Last year I was able to build a decent emergency fund, but things have slowed. We don't have near enough cash outside that when you consider our appliances are aging, our cars aren't getting any younger, our house will need painting soon, the fence needs to be replaced (builders put in crap), etc., etc., etc.

Of course the major reason things have slowed is because we have had 2 in preschool, for a good 9 months or so. So I am optimistic to get back to a much faster savings clip.

July it will be nice to have a little more cash, but August will just be divine with that extra $300. Woohoo!

In a Bloggy Mood

May 28th, 2008 at 12:56 pm

Yikes. Guess I am in a bloggy mood today...



I whipped up some muffins at some point over the weekend, and had forgotten the leftovers. So grabbed them for breakfast this morning.

I probably already blogged this in the past, but I just LOVE that jiffy hasn't change the look of its packaging, like ever. For it's blueberry muffin mix.

Love the quick/simple treat. But have blogged often how I am sick of going to the store and trying to find plain pepsi in a sea of 50 different kinds of pepsi, and same for the toothpaste, etc. I go mad.

So kudos to Jiffy for keeping it simple. Some of us like it like that. Big Grin

---------------------------------------

I also had another topic to write on.

Being in California has been interesting since we were in the thick of the tech bubble, when we lived in San Jose, and now we live in the thick of the housing bubble, in Sacramento.

But interestingly, I had some thoughts that I don't see mentioned much in the media.

The tech bubble probably would have ended much worse, but people started dipping into their homes, much to survive. Sure, I have seen more than my fair share of excess when it comes to home equity. But the reason a lot of people started borrowing way over their head was because of the tech bubble burst. I can hardly think of a family I know that didn't face lay offs in 2002-2004. Significant, long layoffs. Even up here in Sacramento. My dad has never been laid off more than like a month in his life and he was out of work well over a year. We figured much of that had to do with age, but employment opportunities have been booming for him the last year or 2. So it seems it was more economy than anything.

So to be fair, a lot of people around here started digging into their homes, merely to stay afloat.

I was thinking about this since quite a few friends are starting to face layoffs, and lament they have barely recovered from the last round.

& so I do have to sympathize.

I was googling the subject a bit and didn't see much. California stastics showed 7% unemployment level at the peak. Today we are already wooshing past 6%.

IT's all a little deja vu.

I think this makes this forecasted recession much scarier. I am not sure how people will get through this round. The debt solution is pretty much gone.

I don't know.

I am surprised there is not a lot more observation about this though, in the media and in other blogs, etc.

OF course, "significant" and "long" are relative terms when it comes to layoffs. I Was perusing California unemployment data and it hit 10% for much of the 70s and 80s.

Ouch.

So anyway, I am back to, "Who couldn't see this coming?" Who could live in this area and not see this mess unfolding?

I guess a lot of people!

---------------------------------------

That kind of reminds me I haven't seen gas up past $3.99, like gas stations were hesitant to raise above $4. Well today as I drove to preschool I noted $4.10 gas and $4.15 gas at the cheapie gas stations.

WOW!

I can only imagine what the Chevron on the corner here has gone up to. I'll have to look when I leave work tonight. IT had been holding steady at $3.99, prior.

& this reminds me, when all the gas hype started, I think where I Was with the housing bubble. "Who couldn't see this coming?"

Or maybe I just feel behind the times. Gas has taken quite a chunk out of our budget in recent years. I think we felt the pinch much stronger earlier in our one-income years (it had risen more percentage-wise in the years I had my children). So I found this all rather predictable, felt we were nowhere near the worst, and was unsure why the sudden panic. Though obviously we have reached a tipping point for the masses; I reached my personal tipping point LONG ago. PRobably what it mostly comes down to.

But I do admit that today my jaw dropped when I saw Arco for $4.10. Knew it was coming, but egads.

Likewise, I feel much the same about healthcare. Everyone is freaking out, and I wonder where the hell they have been. Where was the panic when rates increased 300% in a few short years? Not that they have for everyone. But in 2003 it was in the ballpark of $200/month to have full insurance coverage and small co-pays, for us. Now we pay $800/month for the privelege of giant copays and less coverage.

I feel like I should have invested in healthcare stock the last decade, and not be so proud of our efforts to keep housing costs down. For the short term, housing is decreasing greatly, and I am not sure how long until our healthcare costs more than our mortgage. Ouch! The interest on our mortgage is $1k monthly, so it's getting pretty close. At least the principal on our mortgage is a return on capital. But it makes our healthcare look that much more astronomical to look at it that way.

Anyway, with all this running in my head I am not sure what it is. I think just being a major planner and forward thinker means I panicked long ago about all of this stuff and have had time to adjust. It's all I can figure...

Every time I pick up the paper, all I Can think is, "Old News..."

Gas prices are insane and the healthcare system is bankrupting families. Well, where have you all been? I've been here for a while.

Maybe I should start making predictions of the economy. Hmmm... Though I have nothing to predict for now. Healthcare is the thorn in my side, for now. But I'll give you a heads up if I find a new thorn. Wink

Actually, I just thought of it. Income taxes on the elderly. You'll be hearing a LOT more about that in 5 years. I'll be yawning at the headlines, as usual.

(I do need to do a post on that - I really do. I guess I have a fair amount of insider info - preparing taxes and all).

Oh I can assure you the next thorn in all of our sides will be taxes, taxes, taxes. Maybe I should start blogging about that. Seriously.

But back to gas, yeah. I used to drive home every day for lunch. Every single day. I stopped in 2006 because gas prices had just gotten so out of control. So 2006 was a bad gas year for our family (well years like 2002-2006 slowly creeped up to that point). It's just something I Could probably never justify again. I miss that luxury. I just held out until my youngest weaned from breastfeeding. Probably would have cut back on the gas sooner, otherwise.

For now we budget $300/month for gas which gives us quite a bit of wiggle room. We can stretch it farther by driving the van less and the compact more. So that gives us lots of wiggle room. When our gas bills regularly exceeds $300/month is probably our next tipping point. At this rate it is not terribly far away, but I have already made the major sacrifices for gas prices, a couple of years ago... SO for that, it is old news to me. Our next step would maybe be selling the van (far more gas guzzler than I ever imagined) and/or carpooling more. Driving to see family less, etc. Just not there yet. Phew. Though I find those all to be rather small sacrifices except for the big one - less affordable to see our family. That is what I dread, and is already affecting our driving decisions...

-----------------------------------------

Well, in other news, dh and I are planning an elaborate date. Oooohh la la.

I got an e-mail about a comedy show coming to a small theater in the city. I have a friend who was in some productions, but haven't talked to her in a while, so wondered if she was involved. Anyway, I mentioned to dh that it looked interesting, and he said he had wanted to go see it - his friend was the Director.

Well, lah de dah.

The tickets will be $25 for the 2 of us, so really quite a splurge for us.

Plus the daycare.

I am a little uneasy since it is only on Fri/Sat night, on the later side. Kids stay up late, so no biggie, but we have been taking advantage of the drop-in care at slow times. So it will be a test to drop them off on a busy night. BM is fine, but LM much more timid. He needs more one-on-one care. But he does good with his brother. We'll see. Not sure it's any preferable to see out a babysitter we don't really know. They love the place at least.

I guess this will turn into a true test of our "freedom." The ability to drop the kids off and go out on a Fri/Sat night sounds absolutely divine. A luxury long ago forgotten...

I think with BM we have reached "freedom." I still worry about LM a bit too much...

Of course, I thought while we were downtown, what we really needed to do was to dine at our favorite upscale Indian restuarant. We rarely go because of the prices, but the food can not be beat.

The night will easily be $100, probably more. With show, daycare and food. But I think it will be a nice splurge.

Well we haven't picked a date for our date yet. Sometime in June. I do look foreard to that.
















$75K

May 28th, 2008 at 06:20 am

I was just updating Quicken and noticed our retirement balance is a solid $75k. For now anyway.

This is actually my gross salary for the year. So one years' saved!

Of course, the interesting thing about measuring your goals in terms of salary, is that I for one, had already met this goal last year (maybe the year before). Likewise, in past years I way exceeded this goal (because my income was much smaller...)

So though $75k is a new milestone for me, I can't say the one year salary saved is a new or exciting milestone... It is turning into an impossible moving target that makes me feel a little at a standstill.

If dh returned to work tomorrow it would be a long road to save up one year of salary.

Which probably illustrates much why I so love the idea of measuring progress against "annual expenses."

I guess this idea particularly makes sense for us.

In school we both made $10k annually. Out of school we made $60k combined, and that quickly climbed to $100k.

But then we slowed down for kids and lived a couple of years on $45k (the years I took maternity leave anyway). But my full salary was a mere $50k when I had my first child. In the meantime, my income has ballooned to $75k rather quickly. Though a good chunk of the last decade we really made less than $60k. So it is hard to measure progress in terms of an ever growing income.

Of course, no complaints on the ever-growing income. Wink

But our expenses, on the other hand, have remained rather steady. Probably a bit of a jump when we bought our first home (okay, a significant jump since we lived on pennies before that). & probably a bit of a jump when we had kids. But overall our expenses have remained rather steady and predictable. So we find that a much better measure of our forward progress.

We generally live on $50k-$60k annually (after taxes) so we are trying to grow our net worth half of that, annually. ($25k-$30k/year). If our income grows astronomically (possible, could double if dh returned to work) and our expenses remain the same (possible) than we really need to work on goals that support our lifestyle, not our income. So this is where a lot of our thinking on expenses comes in. Income means little to us. (Which is the ideal!)

But $75k is a milestone, indeed. Of course, I was wondering, recently, when our cash and retirement would hit $100k. I think we will probably hit it in 2009. Not so sure on 2008. But we'll see. (We have a fair amount of cash, in addition to our retirement investments).

We've also paid a good $90k off our house. So our more liquid assets seem to be neck and neck with how much we have invested in our house.

I expect that to change greatly in the future. Our goal in the nearer future is to put away $10k/year to retirement, in addition to 10% contributed at my job. So ideally our retirement will be growing $18k/year or so, plus investment returns, while we are only paying the minimum on our mortgage, about $4k principal every year.

I think our 20s was our decade of home ownership. & we have accomplished a chunk there. I would like our 30s to be the decade of retirement funding. Big Grin Which is also why I don't sweat the mortgage prepayment. We worked very hard while young to keep our mortgage costs down (putting a chunk down and paying it off aggressively). That work will save us tens of thousands, if not more, in the long run. So it feels like it is off to the next battle - Retirement!

Likewise, I look forward to do the day our cash/investments far exceed our mortgage.

Well, we're getting there.

Anyway, I don't think we will put $10k to our IRAs anytime REAL soon. My goal is about $1500 this year, and $5k next year. But I think we may make it in 2011, when LM is entirely out of preschool. Working up to it. So though our goal is $10k/year, to IRAs, we got a ways to go.

Of course, in our 20s, retirement was only a mere afterthought, after the token 10% contributions we have always done. So I look forward to what we can do with retirement as the forethought. I expect to zoom ahead rather quickly... In fact, my roundabout goal has been $150k in retirement by age 35... (So doubled in 4 years?). Kind of aggressive, but doable.




Game Collector/Electronics Galore

May 28th, 2008 at 05:12 am

My dh is going to buy some kind of Nintendo(?) game system for $40 today. Used, with a pile of games.

He told me last night and I think I was only half listening. Then I said, "Huh?????" That woke me up.

I said, "Dude. How many game systems do you have? Seriously."

So he starts listing them all off and we counted 10. & today we will be proud owners of 11.

But I am okay with this. In the grand scheme of things it is a cheap hobby. I just hadn't really realized what a collector he had become.

He also wants to buy a Wii, when they come down in price, of course. Wink He'll probably get one for Christmas in a year or 2.

So yes, my spouse, the game system collector.

The funny thing was he tried to tell me he really only used 2-3 regularly. He just doesn't want to sell the old ones. Perhaps trying to defend himself. I said, "That is not true." Which I actually prefer if he has all this "junk," that he uses it. Except for 2 extremely old game systems he keeps for sentimental reasons, I think all of them get pretty good use. I will give him that.

Likewise, he doesn't buy new games, which is the expensive part of gaming.

So at face value I know many people would think, "OMG - 10 game systems???" and think $$$$$$. But really, it's kind of the opposite. I am amazed at how well some of these were made. Dh bought a great number used, but some of these systems were made in the 1980s. So it is a slow accumulation over time.

As far as the games, for the longest time he subscribed to game rentals similar to netflix. Which is perfect for most games, that are his style anyway. In the last year or 2 he has been selling his old ones for credit at the used store and buying newer games on credit. So the cash flow has been about 0 on the game front. We also get free game rental coupons with our blockbuster online movie rental subscription. He is generally content with one game at a time, and has quite the collection from when we were young and had more cash flow. So it is not an expensive hobby in that regard.

Likewise, our PS2 has always functioned as our CD player and he primarily bought the PS3 for the Blu-Ray player. So they double in function in that regard.

But what do we have?

*Gameboy & Gameboy Advance - I am not sure he uses the old Gameboy at all. The Advance has largely been replaced by the DS2, but I know dh and BM play some games on here occasionally.

*DS2 - This is a FUN toy. We ALL play with it. Maybe LM not so much. (It's a portable system like the Gameboy). Doubled as a TV on our road trip (some kid shows downloaded onto it).

*PS2 - We have a lot of games on this that the kids love - from our childless/bigger cash flow days. We have the snow boarding games which I LOVE, and BM has taken to. We have a really cute muppet game. Dh plays all his big games on this.

*GameCube - There was some reason for this purchase that I don't remember... It gets used for certain games.

*PS3 - used as a movie player more than anything. But dh and BM play games on here.

*PSP - dh got this used rather recently (in trade) and it has all sorts of fancy uses beyond gaming. Don't even ask me what they are. I don't remember but I think dh watched TV wireless - could be HDTV quality. Not sure. He had it modified for some wireless capabilities. He gets all excited about that stuff, I don't even remember what it does. LOL.

*Nintendo - he already has 2 systems. One that is I believe defunct, and one that he has set up upstairs on some old TV. He has a few kids games that they love, up there.

*Atari - defunct. Though I think he would love to set it up. It's just sitting in a pile for now. Not sure how usable it is.

& that's 10...

But yeah, I can say most of this stuff gets regular use. So I will give him that.

Hard to believe, but we don't play video games every day. We REALLY limit with the kids (like 20 minutes at a time - they are so young). Dh used to spend days playing video games, so he has REALLY cut back. He may play a lot while I am at work, but it's not anything I notice him spending an inordinate amount of time on.

I know, hard to imagine with all those games...

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However, thinking about it, it reminded me of our computer situation.

I probably am rather biased since I am from Silicon Valley and our dads collect computers and computer parts.

But I remember being on an online community like a decade ago and I remember when anyone talked about money problems people would come back and say, "well if you are so poor - how do you have a COMPUTER." I remember always laughing at that. Were they serious? I could find a computer pretty quick for free if I Was willing to go used or hand-me-down.

I always thought maybe the internet subscription was more worrisome, to someone who was really broke. Wink Anyway the idea that only rich people had computers, was foreign to me. Though I am no spring chicken I have always had a computer. I got my first one when I was 3 or 4 (a hand-me-down, of course).

But anyway. Likewise, I have heard the topic come up often how horrible and excessive and expensive it is for kids to have computers.

I sheepishly think, both my kids have computers. LOL.

But we just buy quality and keep everything forever. We have 5 computers, 4 in use. I don't even remember the last time we bought a computer, except for the laptop we bought much more for luxury, in 2005. It's not a very big part of our budget. Every 5 years or so we upgrade one computer and the rest get shifted down. The top dog is dh's editing computer which he uses to do his work. He needs a lot of power for that thing and he has been talking about an upgrade, which won't exactly be cheap. But it's been a good 5 years.

But when he upgrades, everyone in the house will get a new computer. I'll get his. BM will get mine. LM will get BM's, etc.

I couldn't tell you how old our monitors and printers and peripherals were because we have pretty much never replaced them. Not in adulthood anyway.

So yeah, when you buy quality and do the hand-it-down method, we all can have a computer at very little cost.

We probably have a significant advantage in that our dads are computer junkies. PArticularly dh's dad who likes to collect stuff and has just about anything you need sitting in his garage. Dh's monitor did go kaput a while back (it had been on its last leg for YEARS but we finally gave in) and I am pretty sure he got one free from his dad - he just had it sitting in his garage. We have learned to always ask before buy. Which means I don't think we have bought anything computer, outside free store of father-in-law, in a long while.

We haven't upgraded at all to the fancy monitors or anything. But a working monitor, if you don't mind clunky, is easy enough to find for free. Particularly in a computer heavy area like this.

I think when BM starts school we will consider moving one of our older computers into his room and buying him a mouse and keyboard more his size. Give him my old monitor and maybe I can get a new one. Big Grin A more modern monitor is certainly on my wish list. Just completely unjustifiable for now. & I guess the other plus is we have held out so long they are probably cheaper than I even imagine at this point. Though we will go for long lasting quality over "cheap." You see why...

But with both game systems and computers, we generally let everyone buy the premium, going new. We wait for prices to come down, ourselves. Even if it takes many years. Patience pays.

The kids have computers earmarked for them, but not really in use, for now.

So anyway, I just had to share because I would find it ironic that people would look at our computers or game systems and assume we were broke. In the end we will probably spend $100 this year on game systems (& games). I would be surprised if dh's top of the line computer cost more than $100/year. If he spends more than $500 every 5 years for a faster computer. He builds his own and reuses the parts he can. Though I think he has his eye on something more in the $1k range. We'll see. Technically, he uses his computer to make money, so would probably pay for itself quickly, if he committed to some paid projects to pay for it.

Of course I can't tell you how much stuff we have in our house that we have had since we were kids. The stereo system in our family room is the one I bought as a teen.

When you buy things to keep for decades, it doesn't mean a large annual expense for electronic pleasures. Quite the contrary.

Now, if we had to have the latest and greatest of everything? Well, yeah, I have no idea how people afford all that! That is certainly not our style. We may buy more of that if we resume back to a 2-income lifestyle. But if not, "old and trustworthy" is fine with us. Sometimes it's the only way to have your cake and eat it too.

Of course, thinking back to the games... We're only 30 and dh has quite a collection. I will probably have to work on him in the future in maybe getting rid of some of the old stuff. Maybe for each new system an old one goes. I just don't want to be 50 and have 100 game systems. Wink

Likewise, one of these days we may have to dispose of a computer. Imagine that!

15 Bean Soup

May 26th, 2008 at 07:38 am



[url]http://www.hurstbeans.com/products.asp[/url]

Dh allows the kids to buy treats at the grocery store, sometimes, IF the item is on sale. (Yes, their financial education has already started as they are very involved in the grocery shopping).

Anyway, one day they spotted a package of 15-bean soup (dried product) and thought it looked really good. Dh decided it didn't look like a bad idea.

So we had the Cajun 15 Bean Soup for dinner a while back. We decided it was delish, cheap and healthy. All that for the pretty packaging and varied beans that caught the kids' eye.

So we had it again last night. I think it turned out even better this time. VERY spicy, but we like that. We cooked with sausage.

This is definitely a family fave.

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As far as grocery shopping we primarily shop at Safeway and Bel Air. I think Bel Air shopping confuses much of the frugal crowd, but they switched to more of a "low-price leader" a few years back and we find the prices on most of what we buy to be very similar, though the store is VERY nice and the customer service can not be beat. I think most people assume we pay a premium for all the perks, but we really don't. We certainly could buy many overpriced items in that store, but as far as the basics we find them to be the best prices.

For the rest, there is safeway.

Plus Bel Air gives us 25 cents of per gallon gas, which is a hard perk to beat (Safeway gives us 3 cents to 10 cents).

Anyway, some of the items we buy in bulk at Safeway are cat food and organic apple juice (we're not strict on organic but it's a great deal - this particular juice).

In the last month or so they discontinued both in the larger (discounted) sizes.

Bummer.

My mom offered to take us over to Costco to stock up on this kind of stuff. We don't buy enough in bulk to justify any warehouse membership for now, but we may have to take her up on it in the interim (use her membership).

I will probably look around online and see if I can find the cat food in bulk; maybe shop some of the pet stores.

I have blogged much that we haven't really noticed grocery prices in our particular budget. Not to say it isn't happening, but just to say it hasn't affected us. But these will be two significant increases in price for us - so we will research our bulk options a little more.

(ETA: A quick online search shows these size changes are at the manufacturing level. So we may have little choice. What a way to sneak in SIGNIFICANT price increases... I've seen many of you blog about this - but WOW).

This month will be impossible to get a grip on our grocery budget (or I should say, a feeling about it) because we were gone a week and have had, what seems like, infinite amount of free meals. Next month will be normal and we'll have to see where we are at.

We did splurge on some ice cream yesterday (drumsticks - yummy).

& as a perfect example, dh found a 3.5 pound bag of gyozas at Bel Air, for $10. The full price at Safeway, for 1.5 pounds, was $6. He had bought the Safeway ones because they were on sale, and I found them to be rather good (as good as Trader Joe's, which is way out of the way for us). So if Bel Air's are any good, I think I am sold.

I can't believe we never thought to buy frozen gyozas before. !! Yum yum yum. Much cheaper than eating out, to find them. Though of course not as good as fresh ones, but they really aren't bad at all.

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Yesterday was a pretty simple day. My mom came for a visit and we played cards most of the day. ("Spite & Malice" & "Oh Hell" are our favorites - any other players out there?)

I made sloppy joes for lunch and dh did the soup for dinner. We usually get our parents to treat us out but we were in a simpler mood (tired of eating out this month, for sure).

I think we were all on the same page, so worked out.

In the morning, the kids and I went to Fairytale Town (a little park that is more than a park, here). The place opened at 9 and we got there closer to 9:30. We had been planning a hike in Old Town, but there is a huge jazz festival this weekend - all weekend - and we figured we would probably be lucky to find parking. So we were going to settle on something else when my mom decided to come over. So I had promised the kids a trip to Fairytale Town (we have membership, so the trip is "free" and we haven't been getting our money's worth in the winter months). So we headed over there about 1/2 hour after they opened and I swear for about a 1/2 hour we were the ONLY people there. We hung around a couple of hours until grandma got here.

It was COOL having the place to ourselves!

I did have to buy some nachos - what can I say. They are YUMMY. & hey, it's for a good cause...

That was my splurge for the day I guess.

Eventually some other kids came in (not many) and BM made fast friends with a 6-year-old.

He had actually befriended a 7-year-old at LEgoLand and had spent much the day with this kid, so it was much the same.

I think he is officially "graduated" and ready for Kindergarten. I know most people don't understand why we put our kids in preschool. We are fiercely vocal that the kids don't need a fancy preschool to learn academics (they learn them fine at home) and we also tend to be rather frugal. BUT socially/emotionally we really struggled with developing our child. It was probably extra hard with the man staying home, and not being so invited into the primarily female playgroups. But it's more than that. I have friends who don't let their kids out of their sight but expect them to thrive in Kindergarten in the fall. I think they are insane. No offense, but they are insane. I at least appreciate/understand the thinking when it comes to home schoolers. But I am at a complete loss to the emerging trend to shelter your kids 24/7 for 5 years and not let the kid out of your sight, but when they turn 5 they can magically go fend for themselves at school 6 hours a day.

Huh?

Thankfully that is not the "norm," but I see it a little too often.

Color me confused.

For me personally, we knew we always intended to send BM off to public school in the fall, and didn't feel we were properly preparing him socially and emotionally. So that is where preschool came in for us. We felt we needed help in that area, and searched it out. I see nothing wrong in that. To admit we needed help. I know we could have found more frugal help, but we found this route to be the best/easiest, and certainly no regrets there. Some areas we are frugal so we can splurge in other areas.

Anyway, to see him suddenly have the ability to make fast friends with just about anyone he meets, is quite an accomplishment. He has only one more month of preschool, and I think it has done its job.

I also like how he has a lot of "unsupervised time" to interact with other children. I know the 4:1 ratio he enjoys at preschool is nothing near the 20:1 ratio he will encounter in kindergarten. But at least he has spent much time with other kids without momma breathing down his neck and monitoring his every move. I think he will at least be much more prepared than those kids. He's learned, with much practice, how to solve conflict and get along with other kids, on his own, without adult intervention every second of the day.

We'll see how he does in Kindergarten. I notice he does gravitate to older kids. He may have less patience for the kids in his grade. But hopefully a few of them have gotten the emotional/social education he has. & if not, I guess the other kids will learn fast in that environment.

I guess the true test will be he how he does at school in the fall.