Monday, February 5, 2018

Frugal Fun - So many extracurriculars!

The past week hasn't felt that frugal. I've basically been throwing money into the endless pool of kids' extracurricular activities.

With L homeschooling again this year, I've signed her up for several homeschool classes and more extracurricular activities than normal to give her social time and do the activities that I'm not so confident teaching her at home. She's doing swimming lessons, dance-fit, Kiwi sports, science, creative journaling, an art class and, hopefully, violin lessons.

L had her first swimming lesson last week and I was distressed to see that she was in a way-too-easy level. I suggested to her teacher that L be moved up a level, but her teacher elected to keep her where she was, without even properly assessing her abilities. I was annoyed because it felt like a waste of time and money to have her in a class beneath her abilities, so I emailed the swim school manager and she got L to come in for a special one-on-one assessment on the weekend. Thankfully, after that assessment everyone agreed L needed to go up a level. I felt like a pushy-Mum while it was all going on, but am very glad it all worked out for the best.

Since J will be with us on the day L is doing her homeschool group classes, I've booked him in for a couple of homeschool classes that day too. He will be doing gymnastics and Kiwi sports. Last week we went to check out the facilities where these classes are going to be held, so we'll have an idea where we need to go on the first day. I'm usually the disorganised person who shows up at the last minute, wandering around lost, but I'm trying to make more of an effort to be organised this year and have all the information I need with me in my phone calendar.

This term S is doing swimming lessons at the same time as L, and I've also signed her up for a gymnastics class, which she's been begging to do. I've also just purchased her school stationary for the year and paid all her school fees, so it really has been an expensive week.

On the positive side, I just did my second online grocery order and managed to come in under budget. I bought the 6-month delivery service last week so that I won't have to pay a delivery fee each week. I could pay for delivery as I go but you get a delivery fee discount for spending over $200, which would probably tempt me, and the whole point of this online ordering is for me to spend less than $200 a week on groceries.

The extra money I have left over from this week's groceries will probably go towards buying fruit from an orchard shop later in the week. We can stock up there at lower prices than at the supermarket.

I was looking at purchasing a printed homeschool curriculum for L this past week, but the delivery fee alone was going to be $170, since the curriculum is coming from the United States, and I think that might have been in US dollars too. I hit pause on that, since Paul has just purchased a second-hand colour printer/photocopier for his business, which I can use to print PDFs of the curriculum instead. I'm just waiting for him to set up the photocopier and then I can get to printing.

In my own news, I've been working on a horticulture assignment which requires me to take 40 different plant cuttings, press them and identify them by leaf shape/flowers. It's taking a long time, but I keep chipping away at it by taking cuttings wherever I go. Eventually I'll get it all done. After that assignment, I think I'll only have three more to go and then I'll have finished my certificate in horticulture.

For entertainment last week, I read several library books - the standouts were The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and The Gathering Dark by Leigh Bardugo, but I'm also re-reading My Lady Jayne, which is a favourite of mine. I watched a few episodes of The Good Wife on Netflix, as well as the movie Silver Lining Playbook, which is one I own and love.

I mowed the lawns last night in a break from the rain. They had shot up with the combination of sun and rain we've had lately, so I was emptying my catcher every pass. I emptied the clippings into my large compost bin and the garden I'm trying to fill with homemade compost.

We ate several meals last week furnished with home-grown garden produce: Cannelloni made with my spinach, tomatoes and garlic; Spaghetti Bolognese that used my tomatoes, spinach and zucchini; and Butter Chicken, which I made with my own tomatoes and zucchini. I always point it out to the kids, when we're eating homegrown food, even though I'm way more excited about it than they are.

Paul and I spent way-too-many hours over the weekend sorting our vast Lego collection. A couple of months ago we bought a second-hand cube bookshelf so the kids could set up their Lego creations in the various cubbies. Previously we had a train table set up for their creations, but it had become more of a dumping ground than a creative space and it was kind of rickety, so we dismantled it. The bookshelf has given us more floor space in front of it, which is good because the kids tend to build directly on the floor. It's also the perfect size to fit our plastic lego drawers on top of, which makes a much more efficient use of space in J's small bedroom (where the Lego lives).

We used to sort our Lego by colour, but someone suggested we sort it by type instead, so that's what we spent the weekend doing. Paul started building sets with the newly-sorted Lego and said it was so much easier and faster to do it this way. Win.

We didn't have quite enough plastic drawers to properly sort everything, so Paul bought two more sets as well as several plastic dividers to split out the small items. Now it's almost done. Well, as almost done as it can be when you have kids continuing to play with Lego. I'm tempted to go Lord Business on them and get my Kragle out.

Now I'll leave you with this picture of my ridiculously cute cat, who still thinks he's a kitten...
I don't even know how he got in there.

What's your frugal news? Or are you in the same start-of-school spending frenzy as I am?

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