As the nights get cooler and the days shorter our summer 2020 garden is winding down for fall. This summer our vegetable garden stepped up a notch and I planted way more than previous years. We also had a huge pest problem with rodents, ants, […]
This year is the first one in a while I have been excited about my garden. Working from home for the past few months due to the Corona virus has greatly reduced my commute time from 3-4 hours a day to nothing and this means […]
Oscoey’s three year anniversary passed in March and as much as I wanted to write a post about it we were dealing with Covid-19 and still adjusting to working from home, teaching our kids and being home together all the time. Oscoey was something I started when I was home with the kids as a way to stay home and maybe make some income off of it. To date I have made exactly zero dollars off of the blog but that is ok. Writing the blog and joining the personal finance community on Twitter has been a fabulous learning experience. I have met so many people and grown from where I was at with blogging when I first started. There were so many mistakes (paid advertising with minimal blog posts out much?). So, so many. Below is my first blog post and looking back it seems as though in an effort to maybe bolster how many posts I had I posted three posts my first day! Wow. Looking back I probably should have split those up a bit but hey, we all have to start somewhere.
My posting has been somewhat sporadic and since I am now a working parent time is very limited so that probably won’t change much. Working from home has given me back the 3-4 hours I was commuting but my workload has significantly increased which makes for longer work days. I am now regularly 9-10 hour days which includes some fabulous overtime. I have also been happily turning the extra time and money into outside/gardening time with the kids as often as I can and our garden is looking great! I would love to do the blog full time without working a traditional job but unfortunately that is not possible at the moment. I have run our numbers many many times and in order for us to feel “safe” with only one of us working (Mr. Oscoey isn’t ready to leave the workforce any time soon) we need to continue to both work and save as much of our income as we can. My kids are happy at their school and my job is pretty good with excellent benefits so that makes things much easier.
2019 was a really rough year for our family and we strayed quite a bit from our Financial Independence path by taking on some debt and keeping a blurry and somewhat blind eye on our budget. Honestly though, our family needed that break from the grind and most of our extra spending was in the travel department which I 100% do not regret. We were not able to take a vacation for many years due partially to a strict budget but mostly the difficulty of doing anything with a high needs child so once we discovered said child could actually travel a little bit with some accommodations we went a little wild. We made so many memories last year. Our kids love travel now and are pretty bummed that everything closed down this spring. Our last trip was in December when we went to our beloved Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C.. We saw the lights, we went ice skating and we walked around the harbor checking out the sites. We were scheduled to go back this weekend but it looks like the earliest we will be going will be next winter so we will miss out on all of the flowers.
One thing 2019 taught me is that we need to set aside a larger portion of our budget for travel expenses and another is that it is perfectly fine to drop the ball sometimes. Last year I dropped the ball with our budget but this year I have come back with more determination to bulk up our savings, increase our investments, pay down some debt and set aside larger amounts for travel. So far we have been pretty successful in this department. We have significantly increased our savings, paid down a large chunk of our debt and I am maintaining our investment amounts through the end of the year. I am hoping that by this time next year we will be at our increased Emergency Fund goal, have paid down the two debt items I am focusing on and will be ready to shuffle that extra money into our investment accounts. Part of our savings currently is set aside for travel but maybe, if things are looking better with Covid infection rates in our area we will cashflow a smaller trip at the end of the summer and/or a trip to Victoria in December. For now we are trying to be content with travel consisting of rotating from the front to the back yard and exploring our neighborhood during our daily walks.
Hawaii has been repeatedly requested over the past couple of years as a travel destination but the thought of flying that far with a child with a narrow comfort window and the inability to express themselves fully filled me with a sense of doom. We were however able to successfully fly to San Francisco and made one of our trips to Canada successfully without massive sickness at the border so I have some hope. I am tentatively planning on going to Hawaii in early 2021 but it depends on where we are at with a cure/vaccine for the Corona virus. Ideally we would go to San Francisco again first since it is a smaller flight just to get the kids used to flying a little bit more but I am not sure if that will happen. I would also like to travel somewhere new next year but I am not sure where that would be.
The last three years (and counting) of blogging have been great and even though I don’t have a regular post schedule I am going to keep up with it. Writing is a good outlet for me and I love to talk about personal finance, our vacations and what is going on in our garden. I have ideas for a few more posts so you might see me around more in the near future, especially since working from home allows me more free time. I would love to regularly update the “Fabric Crafts” section of my blog but I have not been super motivated to stitch and my sewing machine is currently on loan to the oldest. In the mean time please enjoy some of my top posts.
Dried banana chips are one of my son’s favorite foods. I have some in the dehydrator as I am writing this! This recipe is super simple and you can make as many or as little as you want.
My grandma’s fruit salad recipe is by far my most popular post, even with not so great photos. My grandma passed away last year and every time I check my post stats seeing this recipe up there reminds me of her.
For some reason this post always pops up in my top posts for the week even though it is pretty old and outdated. We did pay off my student loans that year and increase both our savings and investments which is great.
I really love the idea of small changes over time adding up to huge improvements later on in life. When we first started our journey towards better financial health way back during the 2008 financial crisis we made many small changes that reduced our spending, raised […]
Mr. Oscoey and I have always loved San Francisco. We went there once many years ago by ourselves for a whirlwind 18 hour trip and had always wanted to go back but never found the time or money. Last fall (while I was laid off […]
Travelling has always been something that we have wanted to do as a family but we have never actually done much of. Before we had the youngest we took 2-4 small trips a year spread between Oregon, the Washington Coast and Vancouver, BC for a weekend or so with a relatively tight budget. Our cheapest trip was probably the first one we took with our oldest and our two dachshunds (Oscoey’s namesakes) to Cannon Beach where we stayed for two nights for under $300.00. Our budget was very tight for so long that when we finally started having a little bit extra real travel was so far out of our minds we just continued to take the same trips until we had to take a break.
Our younger kids also really enjoy a pretty set routine and traveling threw them way off so we decided to take a break until they were old enough to communicate better with us. It is much easier to find out what is bothering a three year old versus a one year old and waiting cut down on traveling with crying children which is not very fun.
We love the Oregon Coast and Portland. They are some of our favorite places to go and it is pretty easy to find pet friendly accommodations. We have not taken George yet but Zoey loves the beach and is like a puppy again running around in the sand. If you go slightly north or south of Cannon Beach and book kind of last minute you can usually find a decent Airbnb with a kitchen for a reasonable price. We are super frugal and cook our own meals when we are on these short weekend trips and that drastically cuts down on the cost. We basically spend in food for our trip exactly what we would have spent at home for groceries plus maybe $20 extra for special treats such as chips, a small amount of candy and maybe ice cream one night as a treat. You don’t have to spend a lot on food to make a trip special. Just buy something you wouldn’t normally buy and that makes it special in your kid’s eye. Hint: Pringles are never present in our house but I always buy a can before a beach trip and the kids love it!
Our first big trip as a family (sadly without our oldest) was to San Francisco in February. We had been talking about going for a long time and then when we heard that Paine Field was opening up and that tickets were ridiculously cheap we decided to take the plunge. I was super nervous since it was the kids’ first plane ride but we ended up having an awesome time! Look for a future post on our not so frugal trip to San Francisco! The most important part about San Francisco was that it proved that we could finally start broadening our reach when it comes to travel. Our kids did great and although we were all exhausted the last day we came back with so many memories and it expanded our kids’ world so much I would do it again in a heartbeat. The shared experience of the trip was a huge bonding moment for our family and brought us out of the winter funk that we were in with the endless cycle of school, work and weekends filled with housework and birthday parties. None of those things are done alone as a whole family and spending several days alone together was priceless.
This spring we took a short trip to Eastern Washington which is something we have wanted to do for several years but it never “worked out”. This year with my new determination to actually take some of the trips we have been talking about I decided we were just going to do it and see if it worked. The drive was about five hours for us which is the longest our kids have ever been in a car and I fully admit my expectations for the amount of crying we would endure were pretty dismal. Luckily our kids did pretty well. Our son was a little bit cranky for the last bit on the way home but otherwise he was able to sit still (with breaks) for the whole trip with minimal fussing which was a huge relief!
One of our stops was the Petrified Forest on the Columbia River. I was really excited to go hiking and explore but the weather ended up being really yucky and cold which we were not prepared for so we ended up walking around the visitor center for a little bit and then heading home. Our kids were tired from swimming that morning and not impressed with rocks that used to be trees but driving out there again would make an excellent day trip so we plan on going back at some point. We haven’t done a lot of exploring around our state with the younger two kids but several trips are definitely on our radar.
We also made it out to the tulip fields this spring. We hadn’t been in a couple of years and I put it on our calendar so that we would remember. Usually we go to Roozengaarde but this year we ventured to Tulip Town since the owners are retiring and it may be the last year. Going to the tulip fields this year inspired me to start thinking about Holland as a travel option. We are a few years away from International travel (besides Canada) and I know it will take a while to plan so I am starting to gather ideas.
Overall our Declaration of More Travel has gone well. We are headed to Victoria, B.C. this summer and most likely will do our traditional beach trip at the end of the summer. I am already looking ahead towards Thanksgiving and Christmas break. At some point this summer I want to sit down as a family and make a list of where we want to go in the next year. Bringing the kids in as part of the process makes it fun for them and I might even start talking about how to create a travel budget as part of our goal to have financially literate children and because our 5yo really, really wants to go to Hawaii and that is going to be a very expensive trip for sure!
I wish we hadn’t hesitated so much about taking our kids places but in reality the timing has worked out perfectly and I am really glad we are now becoming a family that travels, even if it is mostly free local day trips. Building memories doesn’t have to be expensive!
How are you getting your family out more and exploring your world?
It has been a while since I have done a gardening update so I though I would take a few pictures and talk a little bit about them. Our family has been super busy with travel, kids, work and the frequent birthday parties that happen […]
A few months back I wrote my first post after going back to work (A not so Brief Hiatus) about the gap in blogging while I went back to work. I didn’t blog for eight months last time which was almost the entire length of […]
Since being laid off I have been trying to spend time with family and friends. My Dad is nearing retirement and has some free time as well so I have been trying to get the kids out to see him on the family property out on Whidbey Island. A better part of my childhood was spent out there walking in the woods with my Grandpa learning the names of the trees, looking for frogs and clearing trails. It is one of my favorite places and I am really grateful that we are able to pass on the tradition with our kids. Many of the trails we made as kids are still there but need some major work.
My grandparents were uber frugal before it was a fancy way to reach Financial Independence. When I was little they built a house on inherited land and set it up as their home base while they traveled all over the country. They bought every thing on sale, used items until they were very broken and heated their home with the wood they chopped outside in the yard. The grandkids would stay out there periodically and we played outside all day long making forts, wandering around in the woods and hitting golf balls into the woods (which we still find today). We had so much fun and learned a lot about how to be out in the woods safely. My Dad and my Grandpa taught us which plants to avoid, which ones we could eat and we helped out keeping the property clear and the trails open.
We went for a walk the last time we were out there and it was awesome to see my Dad interacting with the kids the same way he had with us when we were little. My kids have a set of fresh eyes when walking in the woods. We have not been out to Whidbey as much as I would have liked in the last year because of ongoing sickness and a crazy schedule but being out there recently reminded me of how much I would love to have a wooded retreat of our own to take the kids out to on the weekends. Mr. Oscoey and I have talked about someday buying property with woods and streams and such but “someday” has always been too far out to be tangible.
There is something to be said for spending time walking the same woods over the course of many seasons or even years. The surroundings change as the seasons move forward and plants you may have seen in April will have withered away by August. I remember when my Grandpa and Grandma cleared this path 30 or so years ago. It took many months and lots of help from the relatives but everyone worked together to get the project done. When my oldest daughter was about five I remember seeing a litter of baby coyotes play in the clearing which is one of my all time favorite memories.
One of the best parts of walking in the woods is learning to be more aware of your surroundings. We came across some deer tracks on our walk and the kids loved hearing about how you could tell the age of the track and where the deer went afterwards. We also spent quite a bit of time experimenting with stepping on branches to see if we could get them to snap and make a loud noise. This kind of random fun experiment is one of the best ways to get kids engaged with science without making it seem like a chore. We talked about which branches were better for snapping (drier ones) and how the larger ones required more weight to snap and everyone took turns snapping and helping each other snap branches. The kids had a lot of fun trying it out and they were very tired after our long walk!
We had a great time walking out in the woods and the kids learned quite a bit about their surroundings while spending quality time with Grandpa. I am hoping to get back out there once a month or so now that our schedule has cleared a little bit. We are not afraid of the weather so we will be out in all sorts of conditions! I also want to make more time to spend outside at our house but our kids go to bed so early these days it is hard to find the time.
How do you spend your outdoor time?
Mr. Oscoey and I took some time a little bit ago to spend some time together since I have so much more free time now that I have been laid off. We had a great time exploring the Amazon Spheres, Pike Place Market and just […]