Friday, April 18, 2014

Breaking Spring Break Customs, Frugal Style

Spring Break -- an annual time to leave reality behind, head to warmer climates, and all too often break the budget.  With young children we have not yet experienced the full-force Spring Break of take a week off from reality, but this year our preschool gave the kids two days off.

Thursday was used as a day for errands.  Semi-annual dental cleaning for both kids followed by a much needed hair cut in advance of my mother's memorial service, again for both kids.  Toss in a work related errand for me (picking up legal papers for a new probate) and you have the recipe for a very boring Spring Break kick-off.  Thankfully my kids are too young to know any better, and I did manage to mix in quite a bit of frugal fun among the errands.

 Sunglasses!  Okay, in the dental chair, but they were fun.

Enough time between appointments for a quick self-guided tour of the Veteran's Museum. 
Free admission, we left a $5 donation.

After lunch at Ian's Pizza ($10) calories were burned off scaling Madison's State House (free).  Of course, I drilled them a bit on the three branches of government.  My 5 year old knew them again a day later at breakfast.  Spring Break may mean a break from routine, but not learning.  
Watch for education-based trips in future years.

Selfie with the kiddos.

First of three libraries we hit in our two day break.  This was taken at the downtown branch.  Our first visit, but it will not be our last.  Wonderful space......and perfect space for 3 year olds with tons of energy.  
Again, free

And then to our 2nd scheduled appointment.  Haircuts at the technical college. $7/each, plus a tip.  More professional than I can do in our home salon,
but not too expensive as to deter those college savings we tuck away.

Three and three-quarters, but only her 2nd time in a barber chair.

After our third stop (you don't need a photo of a lawyer picking up papers from another lawyer), we enjoyed treats at The Chocletarian Cafe ($15).  After we walked to Gail Ambrosia Chocolates where I used a coupon for buy one get one free -- boxes I use for gift certificates I donate to silent auctions (for legal services and my book).

Friday I found myself with a bit of cabin fever and Facebook envy.  Itching to get out of Madison I hastily made plans for a mini-road trip to a big cat rescue.  It was abandoned in under 20 minutes.  Why?  It felt rushed, unneeded, and unhealthy.  Admission was not free.  We'd be eating out, which is not healthy nor inexpensive.  And up until I saw the list in a Wisconsin With Kids book, we had had no immediate desire to visit the rescue.  We will one day, but not today.  Just because everyone else (or so it seemed reading my Facebook feed) was enjoying a beach vacation, did not mean I had to blow through gas, time and money. We stayed in town, and had a lovely day -- and it was frugal.

First Friday stop, Clasen's Bakery in Middleton where we used another buy one get one free for loaves of bread we'll contribute to The Village Easter Dinner on Sunday.

Then off to Wingra Lake near the zoo.  Muskie are making their annual spawning run, jumping the dam.  We spotted a few in the water, but left without any actual jumps viewed.  There is always next year.  It was a fantastic and frugal way to nurture my daughter's love of fish.  In a word that smothers our girls in princess motifs, influences outside of the box are welcomed, and embraced eagerly when they come for free.

A slightly impatient near 6 year old -- where are these HUGE fish Mama?

Before going to Wingra we stopped for our holds at our neighborhood library.  They did not have a sufficient supply of the LEGO books my son has developed an addiction for, but informed us that the branch on Monroe Street did.  How perfect, it is next to Wingra Lake.  And with that, this frugal family visited three different libraries in two days.  Books, movies, yoga DVDS, and here you see the children completing a picture for which the earned coupons for free custard at Culvers -- their favorite restaurant.
So, that is the first part of Spring Break 2014 here.  Tomorrow will be a quite day at the house -- a carpenter is installing a new door.  There will be yard work, laundry, and the baking of my annual bunny cake.  Sunday with be spent with our UU friends and The Village.  All low-key and frugal.  How have you been spending your Spring Break?  I'm taking frugal ideas as I look ahead to 2015 -- our son will have an entire week off, creating new challenges (taking time off from work when both parents are self-employed is not frugal) and opportunities.

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