I’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks. Initially, we’d planned to go on a family trip. At first we’d thought of going east – to visit our nation’s capital (Ottawa) and maybe make it as far as the coast. We almost always travel west and have never taken our kids east. But then our budget didn’t match our vision, so we had to scale down. Instead, we planned a trip west again – to Calgary and then to Abbotsford, B.C. – because we have lots of friends and family along the way and could spend less money on accommodations.

Alas, it was not to be. Lift just got too expensive. Around the same time we found out our childcare for Maddie for the coming year was going to cost us a couple of limbs, we also found out we owed our highly-paid-pump-‘em-out-like-an-assembly-line orthodontist an additional $3500 to put braces on Nikki’s teeth. (Yes, I said ADDITIONAL – he’s already gotten more of our money than I care to part with. And no, our insurance doesn’t cover it.) Add to that Marcel’s tuition for the coming year, and all those other pesky expenses (like making sure our children have food to eat) and our trip plans went the way of the dodo bird. Extinct. Kaput. Bye bye.

Sigh. Sometimes, I get discouraged with how much everything costs and how far we are from “getting ahead”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret the decision to go from 2 incomes to 1 so that Marcel could go to school, nor do I regret the choices we’ve made to simplify our lifestyles and cut out some of our superfluous expenses. It’s just that sometimes I wish it were easier. Every six months or so, we look at our expenses and try to figure out what else we can cut to make it a little easier to make it to the end of the pay period without draining the accounts dry, but by now it feels like we’ve cut pretty well everything we CAN cut. Extra vehicle? Gone. Cell phone? Cut. Dinners in restaurants? Almost entirely extinct (except maybe once every six months on special occasions). Camper? Sold. Cleaning person? History. Vacations? Not any more. Electricity? Perhaps we could light our house with candles. Water bill? Don’t think my colleagues would appreciate it if I cut out showers.

Before you say “c’mon Heather, grab some perspective – there are people starving in Africa and you’re whining about a vacation” – yeah I know. I KNOW. I’ve SEEN those people in Africa. I’ve even delivered food to them, remember? I’ve met people like Paulina who barely have enough food for their kids, let alone a table to put it on. Believe me, my whining is not without some measure of guilt. But even though I’ve seen it, I still get bummed out when, once again, we have to tell the kids we won’t be going far from home this year – AGAIN.

Oh, I’ll get over it. And I’m sure we’ll have a perfectly lovely vacation right here at home. We’ll go to the beach, go for bike rides, visit our family, go camping (in a tent) near a lake somewhere – trust me, we’ll have fun. I just wish it were the more EXPENSIVE kind of fun, that’s all.

Trying to make the best of it and maintain a good attitude, I’m going to the bookstore at lunch time to buy this book. We’ll plan some interesting day-trips and in the end, I’ll probably say “oh this was JUST AS MUCH FUN as a visit to the coast would have been!” I hope.

p.s. On a happier note, an article that’s basically the same as this post appears in this week’s edition of the Western Producer. (Sorry – unless you’re a farmer in Western Canada, you probably can’t get it.) So it seems that, even though the money gods have thumbed their collective noses in my direction, the publishing gods are smiling at me. Now if only the publishing gods would convince the money gods to work together so that I’d get paid some real money for what I get published. I’m not talking the kind of money that buys me a couple of books or takes our family out for a rare meal in a restaurant – I’m talking the kind of money that pays for braces or preschool!

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