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Look on the Bottom Shelf

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It’s allergy time!!!

I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t always suffered from seasonal allergies. However, in recent years, I’ve found myself becoming more and more miserable during what are paradoxically the otherwise prettiest and nicest months of the year.

So as the itchy eyes set in and my sneezes grew in number (and force! Oof!), I decided to meander over to the nearby Walmart to find some meds to ease my pain.

I was not alone! Nope. There were about 4 of us red and itchy-eyed zombies standing in the allergy aisle reading labels on the backs of pill bottles and comparing prices. What a sight we must have been!

And you know what I discovered? Allergy medicine can be $$$$!

I’d finally found a box of generic medicine that looked good and had the same active ingredient, same mg strength, and same number of pills as a name brand medicine. I snagged it thinking it was worth the $10 (by comparison, the name brand was nearly $20!!).

But then one of my fellow allergy-sufferers stopped me.

The medicine I’d selected was positioned about eye-level on the shelf, sitting directly next to its name brand counterpart. But my allergy friend pointed out a box on the very bottom shelf that might interest me. I stooped down to do some investigation and discovered that this generic medicine also had the same active ingredient, same dosage, and same number of pills as the other two medicines I’d been looking at. The main difference is that this was a no-frills box of pills (not a bottle), and its position was literally on the very bottom shelf where you practically have to kneel down to see what’s down there.

But you know what a difference the position and packaging made in the price of this medicine? Instead of a $10 bottle of pills (or an $18 name brand bottle), this little box of pills cost only FOUR DOLLARS! Yes! You heard me correctly.

So let this be a reminder that often times the best deals are those that are hiding right under our noses….on the very bottom shelf.

Allergy friends, any tried and true solutions? What types of allergy meds to you use?

Children’s Activities

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First I want to wish any Christians a Happy Easter and any Jews a Happy Passover! I’ve always tried to be open-minded about different religious beliefs and although my family is Christian, our girls attend the Jewish Community Center for preschool and when they are old enough I hope to teach them about many of the world’s different religions. That issue aside, I do want to acknowledge these two religious holidays that have been prominent in the past couple days (and, of course, Passover continues throughout this week as well).

The real reason I bring up these holidays is because this is the first year that we did our own Easter celebration at our house for the girls. Last year was the first time it was really celebrated, but we had gone to a community egg hunt (same one that I wrote about this year), and we didn’t do any celebrations at home because we figured the girls were still a little too young to really “get” it.

But they’re growing so fast, learning so much, and are really starting to enjoy and appreciate these types of traditions.

So in addition to attending the neighborhood egg hunt, we had our own mini version at home. We had baskets with eggs and candy (the baskets and eggs were saved from last year, so I just had to buy some new candy and we didn’t give them much – it was more about finding eggs than eating candy), dyed easter eggs (with homemade dye using food coloring; much cheaper than the kits they sell since I already had the food coloring on hand), and a big ham dinner. All-in-all, the holiday was still pretty cheap since we didn’t go overboard with lots of gifts inside the baskets and/or excessive amounts of candy.

But even so, the holiday has given me pause as I think about the coming months (and years, even). To this point, our girls have never been enrolled in any type of recurring activity. I had lots of mom friends that went regularly to MyGym when they had babies, whose same-aged children now go to ballet, gymnastics, or soccer, and basically everyone I know has enrolled their kids in swim lessons (seriously every summer since infancy).

Us? Crickets over here. We’ve done nothing.

And, in the past, I’ve been totally okay with it! We have many years ahead of us to do these types of activities. To a large extent I still feel like it would be money wasted since the girls are still a bit young to really get a whole lot out of dance or gymnastics. I realize the importance of exposing them to different things, but I guess I just don’t feel a huge urgency in it just yet since we’re so focused on debt-reduction.

But I say that in one breath and in the very next I realize just how much they’re developing in all aspects lately (socially, physically, cognitively, with motor skills, etc. etc. etc.) It makes me wonder….is our cheapness hurting them by keeping them from these different types of experiences?

Still, I think no. They’ll be three this summer. I think we can wait one more year until we really start introducing different sports/activities to them. Four seems like a perfectly sound age. That is….for all extra-curricular activities. But one activity feels different to me:  swimming.

Sure, swimming is an extra-curricular. No doubt about it. But we also have access to a FREE swimming pool this summer. I rarely used it last year because I was scared to go by myself with both kids (since hubs generally works during the day), but wouldn’t it be great if I could take the kids without being fearful? If they knew some basic water safety skills and could be safe around water?

I know kids their age don’t learn how to swim a perfect freestyle, breast, and butterfly, but they learn water safety skills like not running, not jumping in until an adult is present, how to hold their breath under water, and how to safely grab the side of the pool when they jump in. They learn the basics of swimming.

But then there’s the conundrum. Swim lessons are expensive. Expensive times two (since we have twins). Is it worth it?

What do you think?

Should I try to enroll the girls in swim lessons? Should I give it another year? Should I try to teach them myself (for free….though it could be difficult since I’m outnumbered 2-to-1). I’ve done a little research on price (not quality; I still need to ask around regarding quality), but on the very cheapest end I can find swim lessons for $15/each per 30-minute session. Though the range is up through about $40/each per 30-minute session. The number of classes per week and sessions in the class vary from place to place. But no matter how you look at it, it’s a lot more money spent essentially on “entertainment” than we’re used to (our entertainment budget is typically below $10 per month!)

I’d love to hear some of your opinions on this!

When did you start your children in different activities? How much is reasonable to pay when we’re working on debt reduction? Do you think all activities should be held off for now, or is there a safety-reason why it might we worthwhile to do swim lessons? Do I try to do them myself or go to a professional? How much would you spend?

So many questions! Give me your thoughts!