Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Living Like the Quimby's

Here at Chez Babble we all gather on the Big Bed to read together right before the children go to Dreamland.

In the past couple of months we have read a few of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. Can I say how much I am enjoying the girls being old enough to appreciate some of my favorites from when I was their age. Little House, Ramona, The Boxcar Children. It is F-U-N.

For those of you for have never had the pleasure of reading one of the Ramona books, or if it has been so long that you can't remember let me refresh your memory.

The books begin when Ramona is about 5 years old. She is a rather precocious, funny, and some times annoying child. She lives at home with her parents and older sister Beezus, whom she annoys greatly.

As we have read these books, I have been surprised at the amount of conversation that has been generated among the four of us as we compare the "life" of the Quimby's to our own. There are some pretty major differences. A major theme in the books is the fact that the Quimby's are not a family that has a lot of money. They are not living in poverty by any means, but the words scrimping and saving are present with some frequency and there is often mention made of the fact that the family can not afford many things. For the Quimby's a bag of chips or Gummy Bears from the store is a treat that only happens on payday. A trip out to eat at a restaurant is almost unheard of. At one point in the series Mr. Quimby loses his job and is out of work for several months and treats of any kind are stopped altogether.

The life of Ramona and her sister is pretty different from the life my girls lead where what are considered treats for the Quimby's happen on nearly a daily basis. We think nothing of throwing a bag of chips in the grocery cart, my kids get candy FAR more than they should. Trips to get ice cream are commonplace and don't get me started on how often we go out to eat in a single week. It is disgraceful really. My children take piano, violin, tennis, and dance lessons (that is two activities per kid, not all four for each child!) They get to spend at least three weeks at a fun day camp in the summer.

We had a good discussion one evening (walking home from DQ funnily enough) about the differences between our family and the fictional Quimby's. I have to say that what my kids likely consider to be a treat, would be considered out of the question were they a Quimby.

This month as the bills rolled in for vacation, we had a tough decision to make, pay them all off now, or later. Knowing the right and smart thing to do was to pay them off now, we bit the bullet and did it. That means a skintight budget for the rest of the month. No eating out, no trips for ice cream, all those extras are G-O-N-E. I am also giving up my yoga class for this month. So we sat the kiddoes down and explained that this month we were going to live like the Quimby's. We expected wails, whining, and gnashing of teeth.


We got none of that. They were totally cool with the idea, and we have heard nary a complaint. #2 was worried that we would have to postpone her slumber party that was already in the works BEFORE we paid the bills and saw that we needed to be frugal because the plan had been to order her favorite pizza for it. We were smart enough to make sure that was covered to reassure her worried little head.

So here we are three days in to it and so far so good. I hope that this will maybe....MAYBE be the start of something new and better for us.

Living a little less large will benefit us all I think.


Michelle said...

This is another one of those funny little parallels between our two families - we as well read together before bedtime and have worked our way through the "Little House" series, several "Ramona" books AND "The Boxcar Children".

But, my main point in commenting is to say "Congratulations!" for doing the right thing and paying off the vacation. Fiscal responsibility is not an instinctual skill for our peer group, and seldom is one applauded when they take the fiscally sound route. But to you and your hubby I say, "Rock on, Rock stars!" (insert air-guitar fingers and beedle-be-boop sounds)

Missy said...

It is uncanny the number of similarities between our families.

Thanks so much for the shout out. I think you are absolutely correct in saying that our peer group is not an "instinctual skill." It certainly hasn't been for us. We are better than we used to be, but still obviously have work to do.

We actually had been setting aside money for the vacation for quite some time, while planning to use the credit card so that we wouldn't have to worry about cash. The idea being of course the set aside money would be there to pay for the bill when it came in. We actually stayed surprisingly close to the amount we had set aside.

Our failing was in not thinking about that we would also have to pay for school costs as soon as we got home. That we did not plan for and honestly even if we had planned for it, we would have likely been way under the mark. I would have to check last years register, but I am pretty sure we paid a lot more in school fees this year as opposed to last. School supplies were more expensive too.

That is probably more than anyone wanted to know...but I think that with the economy being what it is many of us are going to be forced in to develping mad fiscal responsibility skillz. I have to say that I don't view this as a bad thing.