I went to a party on Saturday night and left my mom on babysitting duty, which she was happy to cover. Even better, she let me sleep in on Sunday. I stayed in bed until 9:00 a.m. I have not done that since the twins were born almost two years ago. It was heavenly. I was not fully asleep from about 6:45 a.m. on since the twins were up, our place is small, and they are loud, but it was still wonderful to just lounge in bed and doze. Delicious. We kept the "lazy/relaxed" theme all day; no one took a shower and I basically wore my pajamas even though we took a walk to get a coffee and then took the kids to the coop in the afternoon. I was wearing fleece pants and a sweatshirt, so it was OK. I guess.
On Saturday, we had a surprisingly fun morning at the mall. I had made an appointment for the twins to get their pictures taken since I missed out on that at eighteen months. I tried at eighteen months, but it just didn't work. The photographer was a dud, the kids were cranky, and it was clearly not meant to be. So I waited for my mom to arrive and help me out and off we went.
It could not have gone better. The photographer was excellent and the kids cooperative. Maddie was not feeling great, but she rallied, and Riley was a total ham. I got great individual shots of them, a nice one of them together, and one of the three of us. I even got one of me with Maddie and one of me with Riley, too. After the photo session was done, we did a bit of shopping and found Maddie an adorable outfit for her second birthday (love it when Mom is buying!) and then had some lunch. It was one of those mornings where everything just worked. Now I need to get the photos in frames. I may have a friend scan some of them (naughty me, and I work in publishing, which makes it even worse), and if so, I'll post some of them.
When my dad was here last week, we went out to a local burger joint for dinner one night. The twins were very concerned that a baby at the next table was going to eat their fries. They spent most of the dinner saying, "Baby no fry. No baby fry." My dad and I were amused by their concern as it was clear to us adults that there was absolutely no danger of the baby touching the fries. So every time one of the twins would say, "Baby no fry," we'd chuckle and reassure them that there was nothing to worry about, the baby was not going to eat their fries.
Both kids have latched on to saying, "Baby no fry!" now and will randomly just blurt it out. Riley likes to shout it at the top of his lungs when he wakes up in the morning (which has been around 5:30 a.m. the past few mornings). I'm sure it doesn't help that I've been singing, "No baby, no fry" to the tune of Bob Marley's "No woman, no cry." How was I supposed to resist?
One of the long-shelved projects that I've managed to get started on since my mom arrived is the creation of a budget. It was as depressing as I expected, seeing as I had to acknowledge that indeed, the money I have coming in each month is less than my fixed expenses. So I need to make more money and stop eating, putting gas in my car, and going out for coffee. Sigh. I'm not exactly sure what to do about this. Clearly I need to cut back on my monthly Roth contribution as I max it out every year and that just might not happen for the next little while. I'm also considering using some life insurance money to pay off my car and free up that bit of monthly income. It's not like I'm a frivolous spender, so the whole thing is really very disheartening. We're lucky to have some savings and some life insurance money, albeit not much of either anymore.
Then there's the fact that I'm in a bit of a strange financial situation at daycare. Since John and I started the twins at their daycare, we have paid $X/hour based on actual hours the kids are there with an eight-hour-per-day minimum charge. They are there eight hours/day (9-ish to 5-ish) and I continue to write my check accordingly, based on the fee that was set out when the kids started there sixteen months ago.
Well, the daycare has grown a bit since we started, and they now have a website that one of the women who works there was proudly telling me about. I made a mental note to check it out and managed to do so last week. The fees are posted on the site, and it would appear that new clients pay a flat daily or weekly rate for an 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. day rather than paying by the hour.
Here's the clincher: the weekly rate is $70 per kid more than I pay right now. So I'm paying them $140 less per week than I would pay them if I were a new client. Of course, it's their responsibility to tell me if tuition has gone up, and they've never said a word. And the twins are there for eight hour days rather than nine, but so are many of the other kids whose parents pay for nine hours regardless of whether or not the kids are there for the entire nine hours.
Because I am who I am, I feel guilty about knowing that new people pay so much more than me even though I know that I'm not the one who should have to bring this up. It's weighing on me, though. The people who own and work for the daycare have done so many favors for me, and even at the new price, they are still cheaper than basically any other daycare I found when I did my initial research. If I already can barely afford to pay them what I pay them, it's not like I have cheaper options.
Come to think of it, months ago, one of the women at daycare told me she had a personal question for me and then asked how I was doing financially. I'm close to this woman, and I assumed that she was just worried about how I was managing after John's death. I'm sure that's true. But perhaps that's when they raised the rates? Who knows.
What I want to do and what I think I should do is have a candid conversation about the fact that I can't afford to pay more than what I'm paying, I know that what I'm paying is less than what they could be charging, and I just want to clear the air. I'd feel a lot better if that was all on the table. And if I need to start paying more? Well, I'll just have to see how to deal with that.
There are, of course, drastic solutions to my financial situation.
I could sell my house (or try) and move back to Oregon or to a smaller, cheaper rental. The twins and I could live in a one-bedroom--they could have the bedroom and I could sleep in the living room, for example. I know we could get a one-bedroom for way less than my mortgage.
I could not work since a big chunk of my income goes to daycare, and if I weren't working I'd get Social Security income in addition to what the kids get. But I don't think the math works out on the money there, either, since I'd have to buy private health insurance and what we'd get from SSI would still not be enough to cover our fixed expenses as they are.
In the end, I'll probably have to ask my parents for money. When will I be a real grown-up?!