20 October 2009

Daycare, Money, Christmas

Okay then, the point at the end of this meandering post is rather silly, but I'm operating on the assumption that you like me anyways.

I receive a county-based subsidy for my childcare expenses. Dealing with the program administrators is ALWAYS ALWAYS FRUSTRATING, but at the end of the day, I can afford to send my son to preschool full time AND buy groceries. While I reserve the right to bitch and moan about the ridiculous process I have to go through, I am ultimately grateful.
I had my re-certification appointment in September. It was extra and especially frustrating, on account of the woman to whom I literally had to spend 35 minutes explaining my custody agreement, despite the fact that I brought the court documents with me. It's not that hard. The upshot of this meeting was that, now that I receive regular child support, my income was in excess of the maximum for a family of two. By $200. TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS.
So now I'm working less, so I can make less money, so I can still get a subsidy. Because the world is a fucked up place and I'm actually not as poor when I make less money. I know, right?
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My first paycheck that will reflect this pay cut is the one I'll get on December 1st, and it'll reflect the time I'm cutting from both October and November, because our payroll system is awesomely fucked up. Knowing that ahead of time, I'm going to do my verily best to budget well and appropriately, but December is a bad month to be poor. My family is vast, with many small childrens to whom I like to be gifting. Plus I'm going to Vegas.
I'm talking about disposable income things, and I will be fine, and we will be fine, but thinking about that paycheck makes my tummy hurt.
...
So I'm trying to plan now for Christmas for Gabriel.
I tend to overcompensate a little bit in the gift department because my nephews get a lot of gifts from my sister's in-laws, and Gabriel doesn't usually get much from K's family, and I don't want it to be a GIANT AND OBVIOUS DISPARITY, since the cousins spend Christmas day together.
Anyhow.
Things we won't be doing this Christmas, for money saving purposes:
*Christmas cards. I know! I personally love Christmas cards, especially since I do photo-cards of Gabriel, but with the printing and the postage etc. etc.? It's just not gonna happen this year. If you don't get a card, don't go all WASPish on me, I'm not cutting you off the list, I'm just taking a one year hiatus.
*Small Christmas tree. I'm just gonna get some little jobjob that can sit tidily on an end table. It's also better for the environment and shizz.
*No new decorations. I'm still building up my CHRISTMAS STUFF, so I've been trying to buy ornaments etc. a little at a time every year. I think not this year.
*Fewer and smaller gifts. We're a gift giving family.

Which brings me to some advice solicitation.
I know that everyone's family is different, and everyone's budgets are different, so I realize the internet might not be the most AWESOME PLACE IN THE WORLD to solicit advice on a personal situation, but I'm taking my chances.
If Gabriel wakes up on Christmas morning (keep in mind that it's just him and me for the 'home gifts' portion of this), how many presents is enough for him to feel like OMG BEST DAY EVER, but not so many that he'll be like, meh, whatever, looks like another toy.
I'm also open to suggestions on what to get for him. He needs winter clothes, which I plan on sort of bundling under the guise of gifts, but I'm not sure about actual fun prezzies for him.
(He'll be four in January)
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Also, Gabey and I reviewed a toy together over yonder. Take a look if you like.
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Please vote for Gabriel. Vote daily by clicking on this link.