Vacation Ends, You Can Find Me Left of Center

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is “Vacation”.

Our vacation this year was spent in North Carolina, where Husband spent nearly the entire time building a greenhouse for his parents.

He didn’t think it would take the entire week, but with some rain delays and just the added time anything takes when you do something you’ve never done before, just about our entire vacation was gone.

Husband felt bad that we didn’t really get to do anything fun, that I was stuck in the house.  Their home is thirty minutes from the nearest civilization,  and even that isn’t a hotbed of activity.  Most of my time was spent playing with son, playing on my computer, or doing housework for my mother-in-law.

There really is no reason for him to feel bad, I told Husband.  My entire life is a vacation.  I don’t have to go to work.  I get to have fun every day – taking Son to the playground, to the water park, to the library.  I can stay home in my PJs and spend the day swimming, playing Go Fish and cuddling a very cute 5 year-old as we take an afternoon nap.

I get to do what I want, when I want, all day long. And I get to do it with the most spectacular little blessing G-d has ever given me.  I feel so lucky that I get to do this.  It’s almost as if it’s some big secret that I should be protecting.  That if  someone figured out how great my gig was it would come to an immediate end.

I always knew it had to end – just like all vacations.  The brochure specifically stated that the all-day togetherness trip lasts only five years (unless you take the optional homeschooling rider, which I declined for the health and well-being of all involved) before a rider than changes everything kicks into gear.

And that change is now only five days away.

Because on that 5th day Son starts kindergarten.  And the best vacation I’ve ever taken in my life goes on hiatus for six hours a day.  And I move from being the center of his world to just left of center as he takes his place in a new sub-world, without me.

Sure, I’ll still spend lots of time with him.  And sure, it’s all part of growing up.  But I will forever miss this precious time we’ve had together, just the two of us.

And I’ll be forever grateful to G-d and to Husband for sending me on this five-year vacation.  I can’t wait to see what fun Son and I can cram into six less hours a day, as we inch towards age 15 when I will be so far from the center of his world that he’ll likely want me to walk two paces behind him in public.

To Make a Stink or Not to Make a Stink? That is the Question.

Husband has been with the same company for 7 years.   He is a hard worker with a good work ethic, and he goes above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis.  Last week his company was pitching a new client, and they didn’t even ask him for an animation because his department is slammed with regular work right now.  Husband worked on it at home on his own time at his own impetus because he knew it would give his company an edge, and it looks like his animation will land them the client.

Great, isn’t he?

He’s also a terrific troubleshooter, and has become the go-to guy for hardware and software tech support in addition to his regular duties.

They love him almost as much as I do.

Like most of the rest of corporate America, times are tough at Large Conglomerate.  There were massive layoffs last year, and a handy dandy pay cut to go along with it.   Grateful to keep his job, we accepted the cut with as much grace as possible.

Things are going much better now.  His office has hooked several new clients, and receipts are way up.  Being part of a Large Conglomerate, though, means that the entire company has to be in the black consistently before his old pay is reinstated, no matter how much his little piece of the pie shines.

Poop.

The other day the HR person was chatting with Husband, and the subject of vacation came up.  She’s been there 2 years longer than Husband, and takes 4 weeks of vacation (compared to Husband’s three).  She said there was no written policy dictating when the 4th week was awarded, and she’d gotten her 4th week 2 year before.  She volunteered to ask if Husband could get a 4th week, too.

We were both excited about this possibility, thinking that:

1.  He deserves a bonus for all of the extra work he does consistently, and

2.  It would help lessen the blow of the pay cut.

Today the HR person forwarded Husband an email from the corporate HR department denying the request, and it included the policy in place addressing the 4th week of vacation.  As with many other companies, employees of Large Conglomerate are eligible for the 4th week of vacation after ten years of service.

Fine.

But why does HR person get the 4th week?  Do labor laws not specifiy that all employees of the same class get the same benefits on the same schedule?  I’m sure executive level rules are different, but at Husband’s and HR person’s level they absolutely do.  Don’t they?

That’s discriminatory.  And it isn’t the first time the company has exhibited discriminatory practices.  Heck, I’m Jewish and even I don’t think Jewish employees should get Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off with pay without giving other employees commensurate time off.

These things are unfair.

Husband, of course, will do nothing.  He doesn’t want HR person to lose her extra week, which she surely would if he made a stink.

But to me it stinks anyway.  It violates my innate sense of fairness.

What would you do?

Soul Soothing

It’s not been the easiest few months, though we are still much more fortunate than so many others.  Still, getting away is always good for my soul.

We are in the mountains of  North Carolina, and the weather is wonderful.  The air is perfectly crisp and cool.  Cold enough for fireplaces and hot chocolate, but warm enough that you can spend lots of time outside without being uncomfortable.

We all find peace and simplicity here.  The mountains are very sparsely populated,  the hustle and bustle of even the nearest small town thirty miles away.   We rarely have any big plans for our  time here,  just helping my in-laws in whatever way we can.    Husband does lots of manly work like chopping wood and building shelves, and Son and I explore the woods and hills and play “school”  and watch the wildlife and listen to whatever story the mountains want to tell us  that day.

We brought our dog with us this time, and I can see that she is finding peace and simplicity here, too.  No  leash is required, so she is free to run and explore and read the smell stories left behind by other animals.  Watching her frolic in the brush after animals that are waaay more savvy about life in these here hills is amusing Son and I to no end.

It’s good.  Real good.

Deal of the Day September 19, 2008

Mickey Mouse wants to celebrate your birthday with you.

FREE .  Well, except for the souvenirs and the parking and the food and the…

Start your birthday off right with the most mousical birthday present of all: free admission on your birthday during 2009 to one of the Theme Parks of Walt Disney World® or Disneyland® Resort*.

You can pre-register, or just show up at the gate with proper ID (but have to fill out the form).  And if you have a Season Pass or other multi-day ticket  you can choose from one of their other birthday gifts instead.

Visit their website for all the details.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Deal of the Day July 8, 2008

Here’s a great deal if you’re doing any air travel in the near future…

Pick your discount over at JetBlue with choice of $10 or 10% off a JetBlue flight. After choosing your destination and flight, enter coupon code JET10D for the $10 savings, or code JET10 for the 10% savings. While there be sure to check out their current featured web fares of New York/JFK to Long Beach for $244, New York/JFK to Orlando for $114, or New York/JFK to Oakland for $244. Coupons expire 07/10/2008 for travel between 09/03/2008 – 12/16/2008. Some blackout dates apply, see site for details.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Escape to Magic Mountain

View from the deck of the house on Magic Mountain

We’re in the mountains of North Carolina visiting my in-laws. They have a wonderful house on top of a mountain, far from the hustle and bustle of civilization. The nearest town is thirty minutes away by car, the nearest hospital forty-five (we found that out last October after Son stuck a pebble up his nose and we had to take him to the emergency room).

There’s something about being here that is good for the soul, and seems to make problems disappear. Husband and I both feel his way, and were looking forward to this trip with a fervor just short of desperation.

We’ve only been here since yesterday morning, and already the mountain’s magic is taking hold. Looking out at the hills and mountains, smelling the fresh clean air. Drinking cold, clean water straight from the tap. Without a water filter, even!

It’s heavenly. Our troubles and challenges don’t disappear, but they sure don’t seem daunting. When we think of them at all. The magic of the mountain…

And something else. Son had sniffles and a slight cough the day before we left. Normally that means three-a-day nebulizer treatments with the probability of a steroid to ease his little lungs. He did three nebulizer treatments at home the day we left, and since we got here there’s been not one cough.

Not one.

That means either the Magic Mountain air made the cough go away. Or it means the nebulizer is doing it’s job (I’m still giving him the treatments, though only two per day since the cough disappeared – and no steroid!!!). Or it could mean he’s outgrowing the asthma.

I don’t care if it’s one or all three. But I sure hope it’s number three, at least in part. And I hope the magic follows us home.

But even if it doesn’t, thanks Magic Mountain.

You Know What I Did This Summer – Save Money!

The Life Network is running a Summer Savings Series with articles on how to save this summer. Here’s my entry!

Summer provides its own unique opportunities to save money. This summer is no exception, so I’m hot on the trail of ways to keep cool, and save money.

  1. Taking Son out of Preschool. I’ve been paying $50 per week for a year and a half to send Son to school two mornings per week. Since we’ll spend about a month on vacation this summer we decided to pull Son out of school. We’d already decided to switch him to a new school this August anyway (and under our state’s free Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program it will be free!), and since we would have had to pay for the four weeks he wasn’t there we thought we’d give him a true summer off.
  2. Planning our vacations to stay with family. Both of the vacations we planned this summer are to visit family. This is a win for us in many ways because we love to visit and spend time with our families, we love the areas where they live (New England and the mountains of North Carolina), and we save by not having to pay for our accommodations. That said, we try to be good guests by paying for meals for everyone, pitching in with chores and projects, and cleaning up after ourselves.
  3. Taking outgrown clothing to consignment. Now that I’m sure we won’t be having any more children (sniff) I finally found a couple of local consignment stores specializing in children’s clothing. I’ve already consigned a large amount of Son’s clothing, and plan to do more. The money we raise will go into our long-term savings, and we get the added bonus of less clutter!
  4. Driving less. Except for our one driving vacation, I’m doing a lot less driving this summer. I’m taking advantage of our community pool, and trying to cut down on my errands. I’m also following my own advice on how to save money on gas.
  5. More cold or barbecued dinners. Salads, sandwiches, corn on the grill. That’s what summer cuisine is all about. If it weren’t for the occasional trips to the ice cream store we’d save even more (Yes, I know we could buy or make it at home, but there’s just something about going to an ice cream parlor and sharing a summer evening in coned camaraderie with fellow connoisseurs…)!

What are you doing to save money this summer?

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