Really, this is an emergency!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

So a couple weeks ago, we dug into our newly attained emergency fund emergency. Really.

What you see here, is the screen of our 37 inch LCD TV [that my brother Paul gave us for Christmas 2 or 3 years ago] after Verity flung a toy across the room at it. An accident, of course. The whole screen should be the same light blue as the left side is. The teeny spot of light blue in the midst of the black in the upper right quadrant is the location where the toy hit.

We were pretty upset. We never would have bought something like that for ourselves at that time; in fact the only reason my brother knew we wanted a new TV was because I posted on Facebook, asking if anyone had an old one lying around they wanted to gift to us, because our 15 year old second hand TV was dying. Him splurging on this for us for Christmas that year was a total shock and we were just amazed.

James got on the internet and started researching how to fix a broken LCD screen. The results were not encouraging. Jokes on TV repair forums ran the likes of "Now you've got a huge funky looking conversation piece for your family room". He did finally find a company that sold replacement screens in the States. 2-300$ for the screen and about an equal amount to ship it, plus duty to cross the boarder. Sigh.

So here was where we were faced with our first decision about whether to use our emergency fund. Yes, it's there for such situations where a major appliance breaks and needs to be replaced. But a stove or washer just feels like a more legitimate use of an emergency fund.

It didn't take long though, for James and I to agree that we wanted to replace it--replace it immediately and replace it with roughly what we had there. So we threw the kids in the van and went on over to TigerDirect where we found a Toshiba 40inch LCD for $599. It was discounted a fair bit because it was a web return (buyers remorse I think) and the box was munched during shipping. The TV itself was perfectly fine. We were pleased to get a good deal and a few more inches.

A couple days ago, I was on the Dave Ramsey forum and while asking for advice on a different issue concerning emergency funds, someone there posted a response that called into question our decision. To quote them exactly:

"And, I'm not requesting any information, but I will make a statement: if you used the emergency fund money for a non-emergency, I would look very hard at behavior and priorities. "

I'll admit, this fed a little on my doubts about spending that money. But then I really got thinking about it and talking to James. First of all, this person had no business or place to question our decision. It's our money. We worked hard to save it. If I had been asking for opinions about whether our decision had been reasonable, then they could have spoken up. But I didn't.
Furthermore, I was struck with what we had accomplished in having the money to buy a 500$ TV without going into debt. When I got past the guilt, it was great feeling. The bottom line is that this was completely our decision and we don't have to justify it to anyone except God. Since he owns it all, and we are just the caretakers, the three of us are the only ones involved in the semantics of it.

And we have so been enjoying our TV!

Getting Away

Thursday, July 1, 2010

For once I'm going to use my blog to spread the love instead of whining. :-)

Two weeks ago at this moment, I was waking up in a beautiful bed and breakfast at Niagara on the Lake. James and I got away for our 14th anniversary. It was heavenly.

I think I've figured out that this is the first time we've gotten away since we had kids. That would be 9 years! We did go away when I was 8 months pregnant with Verity (5 years ago) but I don't really count that. 8 months pregnant does not make for....well....a very romantic, relaxing time away.

So about a year and a half ago, Jamie's boss at Horizon gave him a Christmas gift of a $100 gift certificate to an organization that lets you choose from a number of Bed and Breakfasts. At the time I thought that was really nice, but not so thrilled about it, as Afton was only about 8 months old and I was still looking at at least a year of nursing. Our certificate would have to be saved for a while--good thing it didn't have an expiry date.

Then about 6 weeks ago James informed me that he had made the arrangements for us to use it for our anniversary. I weaned Afton back in March (as you might remember me triumphantly posting about here) so we were free and clear. I was so excited. I listen to 96.3 a fair bit and hear Libby Zymer with her Zoomer report and I recall one that talked about the excitement of anticipation when it comes to holidays. She said that basically, the anticipation almost becomes better than the holiday itself and makes the results of it last longer. I was happy to take part in
Our actual anniversary date was on the 15th, the Tuesday before we were to go away. James surprised me (really, honestly surprised) with an amazing bouquet of roses.
Two weeks ago yesterday, James took the day off and we packed up some stuff. We got to my parents just before lunch. The four kids were extraordinarily excited to be sleeping over at Nana and Papa's. Then we headed of to NOTL.
An afternoon spend exploring NOTL is something James and I have made a special treat. About once a year we usually take a trip down there and poke in and around the shops for a few hours. Always a stop at Maple Leaf fudge, usually a Christmas ornament purchase at the Christmas Store, a wander through a few galleries. I love to eat at the Shaw Cafe, almost more for the decor than the food (although the food is fantastic too).
When it's just an afternoon though, there's always the subtle pressure that someone else is dealing with my four kids and we should really be getting back. How lovely it was to know that we had not just the afternoon, but the evening, the night and a bit of the next day too!

After our usual prowling up and down the main street, we got back to the van and made the short jaunt over to our B&B, the Duncan-Quinn House. I have to admit, I was a little unsure about what staying in a B&B was going to be like. I rather like the anonymity of a hotel. I worried that staying in a room of someones house, likely next to another couple staying in another room would be....awkward. The last and only time I stayed in a B&B was as a teenager, when my choir went down east and we were billeted in Lunenberg. My billet was a couple who were just about done renovating their house into a B&B. It was quite lovely I remember.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the hostess, Jane. I was a little surprised when she handed us a key to the house and our room---it was more like a hotel then I thought it would be. She showed us up to our room, which James had chosen; the nicest in the house. It had a large four poster bed and a few tables and bureaus and such. There was a sitting chair I believe and a walk in closet. Attached was a beautiful, very large ensuite, with a corner fitting jacuzzi tub. Everything was immaculately neat (a welcome escape from my own house) and clean and beautifully decorated. The bed was sooooo started me thinking again about replacing our mattress which is who-knows-how-old and not even comfortable with a padded mattress cover.
Here's a few pictures of the house and our room.

After we registered, James slipped out to get a few things and I spread my scrapbooking stuff on the bed and worked on the choir album I wanted to get updated before the choir BBQ the next evening.
Then it was time to head out to supper. The restaurant James had made an reservation at was within walking distance from the B&B, The Cannery, which is in a resort/hotel type place called The Pillar and the Post. It was a really nice place (nicer than the picture on the website infers--I didn't even see pizza on the menu). They brought us each a little shrimp cocktail after we had ordered, which was really yummy. I had ordered the prime rib and James ordered a steak and both meals were superb. Jane, our host from the B&B, upon hearing where we were going for supper (and that this was our anniversary) gave us a certificate for complimentary deserts. I ordered a chocolate fudge mouse cake and James ordered tiramisu. We ended up taking them back to the room to eat later, as we were full up.

The only glich of the evening was poor James having to drive all the way back into St. Catherines when I needed some decongestant spray and the local pharmacies were all closed. What a man!

Breakfast the next morning was served at 9, and we then met the other guests. A couple from the Cambridge area sat to our left, newly engaged the previous evening out in the gardens at the house. (!!) They were older then us, and the woman talked about her adult daughter. The other 'couple' was a woman in her late forties I'd guess, with her almost elderly mother. The older lady was quite a charmer, with a bit of english accent. She regaled us with a story of how her and her husband were once caught skinny dipping by their daughter (the one present). She was cute (the way older ladies can be, you know).
Again, I hadn't been so keen about the idea of having to get up and eat breakfast with people I didn't know. But I was reminded of how sometimes I need to get out of my little comfortable bubble and interact with the world sometimes.
We were served muffins, lavender tea biscuits and toast by Jane and her husband Peter who went all out with a charming apron. We had a fruit salad, cut into teeny little pieces, which I decided is now my favourite way to eat fruit salad, with yogurt and granola.
The main course was served by plate; a mini baked quiche, a thick strip of bacon, a roasted half tomato topped with toasted bread crumbs, and two elegant looking asparagus stalks with lemon-herb butter.
The lavender tea biscuits, Jane explained, were baked using culinary lavender from The Lavender Boutique down the road from NOTL. She was so enthusiastic about the place that she talked all of us into visiting before we left the area.
So after packing up and saying goodbye, we hit the downtown for a few more trinkets to take back home to the kids, and then headed out to the boutique. As promised, the couple running the place were high energy, very knowledgeable and introduced us to the world of lavender. A quick tour of their greenhouse and a peruse through the various lavender product made for a pleasant morning.
We decided to use the last of our budget to stop for lunch in Grimsby, at the Judge and Jester, a place I've seen lots but never thought about eating at. Very yummy. Highly recommend.

So that was our trip! We decided that we definitely need to do that sort of thing more often and soon!