Tickets are Booked!

It’s official! We are going to Spain this summer! Now that our flights are booked, it finally feels real!

Here’s  our tentative itinerary: We’ll be landing in Madrid. We’ve already reserved an awesome vacation rental right in the city center through airbnb.com. We’ll be staying for 4 nights. Maybe one day we’ll take a day trip to Toledo. Then we’re off on the train to the beautiful Costa Del Sol. We plan to stay about a week in the coastal town of Malaga. We’ll spend our days tooling around city, lounging on the beach, renting bikes, and making a day trip or two to neighboring cities like Cordoba. Then we’ll ride the train north towards Madrid but stopping of for a couple of nights in a small town called Almagro. We’re hoping we can stay in a fantastic parador (government run hotels in historic old buildings). This one happens to be an old convent. Then we’ll continue to Madrid and stay one more night before flying home the next day.

 

As fun as it is to plan adventures, traveling with a one year old means we need to be flexible. Aside from our lodging we probably won’t commit financially to too much more. Day trips might be difficult but hopefully not impossible. We’re very lucky that my mother in law, sister in law and another friend will be joining us. Maybe we can even have a night or two on the town!

Why My House is a Mess!

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How do parents of tots keep their houses clean? I have fairly low standards compared to most people when it comes to cleanliness and I am overwhelmed. (Perhaps I should be cleaning instead of blogging….nahhh). I’m no neat freak but I like to the main spaces cleared of clutter, the dishes done and no food bits around. That seems pretty reasonable to me. Well today just took over and when the whirlwind of life finally settled down, my house is a wreck. I’ve escaped into our spare room (that I’ve only just recently cleared out) just to relax. I know I should venture downstairs and pick up but sometimes just thinking about cleaning can be exhausting. All the tricks I used to use have gone out the window. Clean as you cook hardly works when you have a little guy who wants to do nothing but “walk” around but doesn’t know how to walk yet. So I have to hold his hands and walk behind him. Makes getting anything done a challenge. I realize now what a golden opportunity I had to make my place sparkle before I had a child. I did not realize what I was capable of! I have to sneak in a dish here or there as I make a bottle or get lunch ready. Then dinner comes along and the pile grows instead of shrinks. I have a basket of clean laundry just begging to be folded and put away, but I haven’t even looked at it in days. This awesome push behind toy that we ordered (to save our aching backs) came in the mail today. Along with all the packaging that needs to be folded down and recycled. By the way, the boy refuses to stand behind it. He only wants to play with it sitting down. At least it’s something new to look at for a minute. I feel we have a decent amount of toys but day in and day out playing with the same ones over and over can get monotonous. Now that he’s practicing walking, socks are everywhere! His feet slide all around in the socks, even the ones with the grippers on the bottom. So I put them on him to start the day but usually take them off pretty quick since all he wants to do is walk. We’ve got baby gates up. Those are an eye sore. We didn’t have the money to get fancy pearly gates so the basic model is what we got. With the weather requiring all sorts of gear to stay warm the area by the door is filled with boots, gloves, hats, snow pants, etc We don’t have a mud room so it creeps out into the center of the kitchen! Well I suppose I better make a concerted effort to whip this place back into shape. Wish me luck!

 

*Picture: http://www.myrenohomesearch.com/2012/06/selling-your-reno-home-10-steps-to-prepare-your-home-for-sale/

Our Plan for Getting to Spain

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If you’ve read my blog before, then you know that my little family is planning to go to Spain this summer. I thought I’d share how a mostly one income, lower middle class family plans to make it happen.

First of all, priorities! We have made this trip a priority. This means we are willing to sacrifice to get there. No new clothes, no new furniture, tons of meals at home, lots of diy, extra jobs and overall thriftiness.This has been challenging, to say the least. We’ve set a modest budget and the groceries are the hardest for me to rein in, even with a list that now excludes nice craft beers and other unnecessary extras. Wouldn’t ya know, kids are expensive! There are just some things we HAVE to get, like milk storage bags and fresh fruits and veggies.

In addition to my few days a week as a substitute teacher, I’ve picked up two other jobs that are part time. I’ve got an extra shift or two a week at the old restaurant I used to work at. That was a tough one for me. I just assumed I would not be waiting tables once I had my masters and I was CERTAIN that I wouldn’t still be doing it as a mom. But I’ve adjusted my outlook, gained some perspective and served with a smile. It’s really not bad work, the people are great and for the time I’m putting in, you can’t beat the money. I also started as an online educator very part time. This was a nice gig to get since it’s in my field, I can schedule my own hours, and do it from home. Doesn’t pay a whole lot, otherwise I’d probably quit the restaurant thing. So there’s no doubt, I am doing my share to get us to Spain!

Our fridge started acting up and it seemed like all might be lost. A new fridge would definitely take a big chunk out of our Spain budget. So we got a local fridge expert to take a look, that alone cost a pretty penny. When he told us that in addition to his fee, a new part and more labor was going to cost us 150$, we did what any 21st, gen Y family would do. We googled and youtubed a cheaper fix. For a total of 45$ (including shipping) we got the part we needed and watched a youtube video about how to install it. Piece of cake!

In addition to cutting down the groceries, fixing fridges and picking up extra jobs we’ve also done away with eating out, going to movies, or other costly adventures like downhill skiing. I know, I know, it’s pretty drastic buuuut all is not lost. Just this past weekend we did a some cross country skiing up north. It’s much cheaper than downhill skiing and we can bring the little guy along in the frame backpack. We brought snacks and good company and it was a lot of fun, oh! and hard work. Watching the Olympics is free and that’s been pretty entertaining. And every time we time we hear about about something we want that’s costly, like a live band and a new chipotle porter at our favorite local brewery, we just have to remind ourselves in a passionate inner voice, “Para Espana!”.