Thursday, August 16, 2018

Quick Update France ETC. Trip

DH getting a quick shot of the DD's.

 I thought these two, while bad, are representational of the trip so far. It is Thursday and we will b heading for Versailles. We've had some family tension, traveling with five people, two very independent young adults,can add different dynamics than travelling with younger kids. Add to that a mom and dad who needed more down time than we have give ourselves so far and we are tweaking expectations. Overall, so far has been good. We tried to overdue yesterday, and are learning. 
My attempt capturing the kids on an afternoon stroll.

After visiting Notre Dame and climbing the tower-woah, thought I was going to tumble down stairs, we were famished. We found a 10 Euro Menu and gave it a try. Service was attentive, though it took forever for the main dish, but three courses were very good. Here is my soup. DS had a mussels, frites, and a beer for 10. He loved the mussels. This is just a snippet so you know we arrived and are doing well. Perhaps another post with better pictures soon. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Forgot We Were Being Frugal

Blogging is fun and a good outlet for many of us. Most of who I follow are everyday folks, looking at how to maximize their life with the resources they have. There is no one right way, and certainly lots of wrong ways to get manage money and get in financial hot water. When that happens, the blog world is great for tips to correct, ides to save money, and just encouragement when the writer shares honest challenges to either saving or getting out of debt. I have very thick skin on this blog, but I also haven't had any trolling or negative comments. I'm too little for that. I want to share openly and feel bad for a few that have stopped blogging gin or have felt the need to go private. People, and you may know who I am talking about, get a grip with your cyber holier than though attitudes. Have some fun, participate, and if you disagree and feel a need to comment, do so with healthy disagreement that is not malicious. My rant is done.

About my title. Darn, going on this trip is not pushing me to be hyper frugal. Yesterday was DH's birthday. He has been working massive hours, but starting today, he is off until August 28th. He can't remember the last time he had more than a week off work. Well, DD1 and I took him out for supper last night. She wanted to pick up the check, but I grabbed it. She treated us to ice cream. It was very hot last night, but not humid so we walked by the river and ate the treats-quickly as the heat was melting the ice cream quickly. We didn't have drinks with dinner, but still, meal and treats were nearly $60. I thought we were being frugal?

My mother-in-law is coming along to the concert. Her birthday is while we are gone and while we will celebrate labor day weekend at the lake, DD2 will be pretty hungry, so it will be lunch out. My cousin who lives in the college town is coming to the concert. It would be rude to not invite her. Yep, frugal is out the window for a bit. 

These are choices and I'm fortunate to not be incurring debt by these expenses. Still, I'll look for simple ways to not blow the wad. In part to keep me from overfilling my suitcase with unneeded clothes, I'm hauling along a couple basics like coffee from Aldi's so we have some in the apartment. I had major sticker shock at the price of coffee in Paris. No, I won't be stopping by each morning after picking up my croissants and baguettes to buy a 4 Euro cup. I'm also going to pack a dry wild rice soup mix, something cheap and hearty. I mentioned the take along snacks to avoid the airport food yesterday. It would have been easy to just buy new SD cards for the cameras, but I spent an hour this morning transferring the pictures and videos onto a hard drive and reformatted the cards for my camera, DD2's camera. and the fake Go Pro. these are little things, but important to remember it is the little things, despite not always being frugal, that help make dreams possible. 

Friday, August 10, 2018

Definitely Feeling Good Friday

Today is my last day of work for 18 wonderful long days. I realize vacations are not a right but research has found that people, women in particular, are three times more likely to be depressed and anxious if they do not take regular vacations. Vacations don't need to be travel, but at least significant breaks from demands of life. Too bad for me, the anxiousness escalates right before a vacation. Thank you for all the supportive comments yesterday. You all get me, get what I was talking about. I felt very whiny and ungrateful, but your comments made me feel, well normal. The three pesky red tape indecisive issues have been resolved at work. I'll spend today tying up loose ends and having soft hand offs so I can be gone with a free and clear mind.

We're talking with DS tonight on final details. His flight is 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning. He has a long layover in Detroit, three hours, and will arrive two plus hours before us. There is a Sheraton Hotel connected to the airport. We think that might be the best place to connect with him as it sits right between the two terminals we each fly into and might be a bit more of a relaxed setting for him, since by the time he gets through customs he will have been traveling for 17 hours, to chill with a glass of juice (pricey at a hotel I know). I really hope he is able to sleep on the flights. This trip, despite the kids being our guests, is a financial stretch for him. He has been working any extra job, any opportunity to make a few more dollars since essentially he self funds his vacation time off. Adulting for the self employed at it's finest. Maybe a few photo's or videos he creates will be the money shots? 

We've had DD1 here since late Wednesday afternoon. I haven't seen much of her as I was at work and she spent last night with my niece, who she is very close to. She got to meet her new fur cousin I think, a cute little dog I've only seen in pictures so far. My niece had been pup's dog sitter until she went and started truly adulting by moving in with her boyfriend and getting a pup of her own. DD1 continues to pursue a career change in the Twin Cities area, part of the reason she took the extra two days off before our vacation. Fingers crossed, she will land a good fit. In the meantime, she is doing well at her current job, despite frustration at the low salary to her skill set and less than professional coworkers with lazy work ethics. 

The choir program posted a Minnesota All State Mixed Choir Sample from Rehearsal on their Facebook page. I can just get a glimpse of DD2 at the very beginning when it is a still shot, and a quick glimpse past the piano. As she is 5'1" and about 105 pounds, she usually is front and center. This is just a snippet from a rehearsal; I am so excited to hear her Saturday morning. She has a friend in this choir, and tow others in the Bass and Tenor male choir. Two other boys from her school/show choir are in each of the two choirs so a respectable six students all together from her school, the maximum allowed.

My weight is higher than I was hoping before going on vacation, but I've been walking a lot and feel like I am up for the long days of site seeing. I'm trying to hydrate well so I am not sluggish. As we have a transfer in Philadelphia but probably not much time to get anything to eat, I stopped at Aldi's and got protein bars and individual packets of almonds, enough to curb hunger before the meal service. I'll perhaps take something like  Benadryl or NyQuil on the long flight to ensure I  get some sleep, despite the lure of the behind the seat entertainment. I may have a couple more posts in me before we leave/ Have a great Friday and start to your weekend. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Anxious? Plan for the Possible

Besides the pre-vacation anxiousness I usually have trying to make sure all ducks are in a row at work and things at home are taken care of, tangley red tape and action paralysis filled each of my work days so far this week. We also had a credit card issue because of the third party pay system for our apartment in Belgium; our my credit card declined twice the transaction. I was worried for two days that we would arrive in Brussels with no place to stay. Monday was hectic getting DD2 off to choir camp. She was overwhelmed as was I, myself having a little panic/anxiety attack after leaving town later than planned, hitting a detour, and then going the wrong part of campus to check her in. The format was different than other types of camps she has ever participated in and being painfully shy, she was acutely aware that other girls seemed to have peers from their school, and while she had her guy friends, they were housed completely separately. She called Monday night very sad, just walking around during the free time because she couldn't find the guys and was too shy to connect with others. Nerves got to her, but since then I have had just a reassuring text that things were better, and an inside joke text about our vacation. 

Regular stress and bothers that everyday, every one deals with. In my head though, I often go to the worst case scenario, which is what leads to the anxiety. I'd like to have  a more relaxed, chill, some might say, attitude. When I am very tired, it's exasperated. I take any small issue, disruption, inconvenience, and  think it won't be resolved and it's only going to get worse. I make figurative mountains out of molehills. I recognize this in myself and can acknowledge this. Breaking the cycle has been harder, but I'm trying through some tools and coping strategies. 

One tool, I'll call Plan for the Possible. Yesterday, I spent 15 minutes before leaving work listing all the areas of my work that might need attention and intervention while I am gone. Today I have a team meeting and on the agenda is back-up and coverage. Might something fall through the cracks? Yes, and probably will, but this will minimize my anxiety being away, and prepare someone else to help pick up the ball. Last night I also printed on paper, even though everything is electronic, all our itineraries, confirmation codes, and even tickets, and ordered them by needed date. Tonight I will do a time table to sort out where we need to be by what time. Knowing our transitions are well planned for will help me fully escape into the vacation. Imagining the possible scenarios or snags and adding back-up will help me even more so. 

Monday's stress of getting DD2 to camp was amplified by the credit card problem and one of the pesky work decision-no decision issues. Really though, I had planned buffer times in several places, and we adapted our plans to eat lunch  in town and just grabbed a bite on campus. We even got to the 1:30 program well ahead of many people. Had I not already been high strung by the start to my day, the confusion and detours would have only been blips instead of unnecessary self induced panic. I'm a work in progress.