The real choice addiction: educating the kids in the Lion’s Den.

Private bilingual Montessori?  If so, which of French, Spanish, German?

Classical public schools? If so, Latin plus Greek or Latin plus Hebrew? And what about the optional extracurricular travel options?

Plain old Montessori? If so, public or private?

Waldorf? Lol, no.

Classical Christian, or just plain Christian?

Public gifted or private gifted?

Homeschool?  Co-op, public-partnership, or fly solo?  But if solo, what about all the tutoring services for homeschoolers offering flexible schedules and a wide range of curriculum?  And oh wait, they also serve some of the co-ops?

I don’t even have to drive to a lot of it.  But I also have no idea what on earth to do because I want the kids to thrive educationally, but I also want them to be adaptable and able to do basic housework and life planning.

We’re still trying to narrow the scope.

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Life in the Lion’s Den: How grocery shopping more frequently saves us money

One of the learning curves we’ve experienced living in suburbia is kitchen design.  Our old kitchen in the sticks was tiny (almost no prep space), but with very generous pantry space.  It was set up to reheat large portions of shelf-stable foods and not for multi-course cooking.

We had about this much pantry space, but split on each side of the fridge.

The current kitchen has, effectively, no pantry, but lots and lots of custom soft-touch shelving to grab the array of dishes for the gourmet meals you’ll definitely be cooking for that special someone.  Even bachelors can dream big.

We have a zillion of these instead of real cabinet space.

We also went from this type of refrigerator

Ok, it wasn’t outside though. But this is it.

to this type

We have this but narrower, if you can believe.

The change in fridge shelving meant it was much harder to figure out where stale/old food was piling up.

The upshot of all this kitchen change was that we had to switch from weekly shopping to shopping 3-4x a week.  And we are saving a surprising amount of money.  Like 25% off the old grocery budget.

How can such a thing be?

We have found that since the kitchen is not designed to store large amounts of food that we can keep track of our food consumption easier by buying smaller portions.  Then when it’s gone, it’s really gone, not crammed somewhere random.  Things fall behind the super deep shelves of our weirdly narrow fridge.  So less is better, less likely to get shoved into the back and fall into the fridge-abyss.

Also, we used to avoid buying what we wanted if it was supposed to be eaten in a couple of days (usually deli meals, sushi or ready-made salads).  But here buying that stuff means we know what everyone’s eating a lot more easily and if the kids have a picky phase, we aren’t struggling through a stockpile of bulk whatever.  Also, yes, we can buy lighter, lower-cal stuff for Mommy and Daddy this way.

Yes, we buy oatmeal in the single serving packets.  And we’re spending less money than when we bought the bulk sack because half of it doesn’t end up on the floor when someone tiny has a meltdown.

It’s all very counter-intuitive, but it was also a nice feeling to add up the budget for the month and get a pleasant surprise.

Also, and this isn’t really money-related, but we get a lot of decent social interaction out of shopping more often.  People being nice, striking up conversation, just a lot of positivity.  The store managers know us and are glad to see us, and the kids even have their own little shopping carts they can use.

The stores we go to are real “third places” and very mother-friendly rather than “kid-friendly”.  One of the kids has leveled up to “runner” and I don’t have to bring him back or face judging about his breaking and running.  Given that in suburbia I pretty much always have more kids than any other mothers, it’s really a relief and comfort that the grocery store is a place where I’m welcome and acceptable.

(This was in fact true in the boonies too (not the kids thing, there were some larger families, usually 5 kids that would pop in now and again), but we just shopped less often, so I wasn’t seeing that aspect nearly as often going 3-5x a month vs. a week.)

Early impressions from the Lion’s Den

  • Crime is at night, in the wee hours.  There is not much of it, and it is almost entirely resolved by locking your car doors before going inside.  Apparently people (not cops though) telling other people to leave their windows down to avoid breakage just causes thieves to laugh heartily in a low-crime area and cackle at the easy loot.
  • More open attitudes towards occasional and part-time use of childcare while mom is home.  More teenage girls available to offer it.
  • Weirdly, living in million to two million dollar lakefront homes makes people hate property taxes with a burning passion not extinguished by taking the boat out for a lake barbeque.

On being a class traitor

T.W.O. and I are class traitors.  We managed to vault into the lower-upper tier of the managerial class that marks married couples with kids these days.  The top 20% of incomes is pretty much all married people with kids under 18.

We can afford the very expensive neighborhoods, many of the very expensive private schools, but we don’t think that this means things are fine just fine.  Unlike way too many of the other households at our level, we aren’t “I got mine, who cares about you, you couldn’t work the angles”.

We don’t think it’s so great to accept stagnant incomes forever so long as we’re at the top of the tiny heap.

Back to the lion’s den.

We’ve had some crazy ups and downs living an agrarian life, but now we’re going back to leafy, 75-97% white suburbia.  Yes, the rest is “mixed race” and “Asian”, depending on the suburb.

The full transition (sale, buy, move) probably won’t happen until the next calendar year, but it means a chance to keep everyone healthy (because buh-bye rural commute and rural mom commute, both completely health decimating), leisure time for the parents and unstructured play time for the kids, and just more opportunities for organic social life because it’ll be a lot more people even though we still get to have “acreage”.

We both had a view of rural life that was covered in nostalgia and we’re a lot more clear eyed now.  So another journey in our life together begins.