Finally got my dependent daycare refund!

When the quarantine started, congress let people stop contributing to their dependent daycare accounts.

However, as someone who gets paid over 9 months on the academic rather than calendar year, I only had two paychecks left.  I requested payments stop but somehow that didn’t work out correctly.

Then, later, near the end of April, I got an email from payroll saying that because of our unique situation, I could request a refund from all of our unspent DDA moneys.  By June 1st I had still not gotten any refunds and still had $1500 or so in the DDA account, so I asked what I should be expecting.  I was told it would come in a July paycheck (I don’t get paid in July).  In July, I got a refund for something under $700 with over $500 taken out in taxes.  My DDA account noted that I’d been reimbursed the $700, but I still had money in the account (they said I still had $1500 that I could spend, but if I dug into details, they just assumed they would be getting that $700 back from the university– the actual number I should have been looking at was the how much I had left in the account which was ~800.)  I was also really confused about the high tax rate (the exact rate was 83%).

So I emailed the payroll people who told me I could get the refund and they didn’t answer my question about the missing money, though they did say that $500 was because I have an additional $500 in taxes coming out of every paycheck (this is because the last time I did the tax calculator re: the marriage penalty and our expected dividends etc. we apparently needed to put away another $4,500 for taxes).  Even though this was a reimbursement it still counted as a paycheck.  So whatever.

I emailed again to ask specifically about the missing money and was informed that I needed to have requested that refund by some date in May.  And I was like, I requested it back on April 30th!  The woman was like, I don’t know what to tell you, it’s the government’s rules, not ours.  Once the money has been sent to your provider it can’t come back.  But I could still use it for after school care in the Fall.  So I emailed the person who originally emailed me about the reimbursement, who turned out to be her boss.  He responded that I needed to have requested it by sometime in May and it was too late now.  And I responded to *him* that I requested it back on April 30th, see below, (all of these emails were included in the email chain– it started with their email, then my request for reimbursement and asking what I needed to do to make it happen, then their response that my response was enough, then my questions asking when to expect my money).  Then I got an email from the boss saying that he had found an arithmetic mistake and I was owed $800.  Then the woman sent me a separate email saying that well, since I had requested it on April 30th the ticket was open and she could do me this favor and I should be getting $800.  Then the boss sent me an apology and said he’d make sure I got an out of payroll payment so I wouldn’t have to wait until October.  Then the woman sent me the math for where the $800 number came from and said she could do me a favor and request it out of payroll so I would get it in August.  They did not cc each other.

And then on July 31st it magically showed up in my savings account (minus regular taxes, but not minus an additional $500).  Yay!

So the moral here is:  Sometimes payroll makes mistakes and even if a deadline has passed, if it was their screw-up and not yours, if you keep poking at it you’ll probably get the money that’s owed to you.  Most government things seem to take into consideration the way that corporations screw up accounting from time to time and allow it to be fixed.

I opted to leave the DDA blank for this coming year.  I just won’t get the tax break for summer camp next year if we have it.

If you have kids who qualify for a dependent daycare account, are you using it this year?  Are your childcare costs going up or down or unchanged because of the pandemic?

How much does a root canal cost? How about a crown?

I am feeling very sorry for myself!

Last year one of my back molars cracked a little.  This summer, probably because Trump is making me grind my teeth in my sleep, a bigger chunk broke out.  So the Dentist got it ready for a crown ($1600).  But when it came time to put the permanent crown on it HURT when I bit down.

So I had to go see an endodontist ($300).  The endodontist took pictures and tapped my teeth and then put cold on my tooth and it hurt SO MUCH.  So very much.  And it didn’t stop hurting.  (On the other teeth that weren’t having problems it hurt a little and then stopped hurting as soon as he took the cold off.)  He said that it was irreversible damage because if it had been reversible, it would have fixed itself already given how long it took to get the appointment from when they put the temporary crown on.

So now I’m getting a root canal ($1300) before I can get my permanent crown back on.

Ask the grumpies: Can I Retire Early?

Middle class revolution asks

By the time you post this, I may already be out of a job. However, i can always use your money wisdom and that of your readers. I may also ask Frugalwoods but they want so many details.

Here is some background info about me and my family:

– Family = me (50), my husband (poor health), 2 young kids – one with special health issues and low functioning autism. We don’t plan to pay for college but want to support spec needs kid with a trust (from home sale?).
– My parents live nearby and currently offer babysitting help.
– We own a single family home in a high cost west coast state. It is safe, blue collar, ethnic neighborhood with so-so schools. Valued at $500,000 to 600,000. We are 2 years away from paying off mortgage. May do this sooner if possible.
–  I have a 401k, rollover IRA, Roth IRA totaling . My husband has no retirement savings. Total value of approx. $470,000 depending on stock market.
– I will get social security but don’t know amount.
– Husband earns approx $5k per month from state as our kid’s caregiver. I will take over this role. He can get health insurance thru this job but I don’t know how good it is.
– My income was $3k per month after taxes, 401k contributions and health care premiums.
– Currently spend about $4k per month. Want to reduce this.
– We own 2 cars and will sell one.
– We have no debts.
– We don’t have a will or life insurance (very bad, I know)
– Both sets of our parents are financially fine. His parents already gifted us to help buy our house. No inheritance expected.

I am resigning due to a bad work situation (horrible boss). I do not expect to find a similar job since I won’t have my boss as reference and I’m 50.

Did I make a horrible mistake? Will I end up eating cat food or worse?

Please advise!

With a low functioning disabled child, you need to get a will AND life insurance NOW.  This will probably be pricey if you’re thinking about a trust.  Along with the thinking about a trust, the law office will likely be able to recommend someone to think about the financial aspects of your plan for your child.  How much will they need after you are gone?

I always think that the FrugalWoods are overly optimistic about retiring.  I mean, I guess that’s their brand but also they haven’t lived it (since Mr. FW has never stopped working for an employer and Mrs. FW has her own business), so…

Looking at your numbers, with half your wealth locked up in your house and a low functioning child and spouse with health issues… I would not personally retire early.  If my job were terrible, I might leave that job, but I would definitely keep looking for another opportunity or get more education to switch fields or *something*.  I don’t think you have enough to safely retire because your life right now is highly dependent on the whims of a state government.  And we just can’t count on governments.

You should figure out social security amounts for you and your DH.  We used to get printouts from social security on a regular basis, but I think they’ve stopped doing that (possibly because they know the social security trust fund will be running out sooner than it should).  They have a retirement estimator on their webpage but the interface is not great.  I think you may be able to get it to do what you want by choosing “add a new estimate” after it gives you the stupid initial estimate that assumes you will work until 62/6?/70 and then telling it you want to work 0 at your current age.  I ran through it that way and if I stop working today (or age age 50), I will get about $900 less per month than if I keep working until 62, and 1900 less than if I keep working until age 67 (I’m guessing my big salary years are still replacing low income years in my work history).  Keep in mind that you will need more future dollars than you do now because of inflation.  (Low estimate:  2%, high estimate: 7%… any more than that and Social Security will have worse worries than keeping up with inflation because we’ve turned into a Banana Republic and nothing is safe.)

A big worry is that $5K/month won’t last.  That is extremely generous and it is likely that when your state hits financial difficulties in the future or gets a Conservative governor that this program will get trimmed if not cut entirely.  Even if it doesn’t get trimmed it could not keep up with inflation.  You cannot count on it as safe income.  Also, looking up the program, the amount you get depends on where you live, so it will be dangerous to tap into your house or to move someplace less expensive.

You’ll need to find out the costs of health insurance and what it doesn’t cover and what the copays are and so on and if the people your husband and child have been seeing take it.  Along with property taxes, that’s a big necessary expense.

I like this Nerd Wallet calculator.  Be sure to click on the “optional” so you can put in spending and retirement age and so on.  It’s not going to be perfect because social security will be hard to figure in there.

Yes, age discrimination exists.  Fortunately although it happens sooner for women than for men, there’s also a bump up in hiring for women at older ages, so you shouldn’t give up on finding a new job.  I don’t know if resigning your current job without a new one lined up is a mistake– if it’s affecting your health etc. sometimes just quitting is the best thing you can do.  But if you haven’t quit yet, I would like to encourage you to sweeten up your boss so you can get a good reference, explore other options within the company if possible (can you cut to part time?  are there other units within the company?), and so on.  Think strategically– knowing that you will likely quit, how can you put yourself in the best position possible for finding new work (possibly after the pandemic is over).  When you quit or get fired with cause you don’t get unemployment insurance unless the government steps in because it’s an emergency.  It might make sense to wait until the Heroes act has been passed (and call your senator to get it passed) to see if it covers unemployment for your situation.

Or you can hope to get laid off or negotiate a voluntary separation package with your company, since it’s difficult to fire people from middle-class jobs in those west coast states.  It might be worth talking to your management about this possibility.  Be strategic.  Or if they don’t actually want to lose you, they might be willing to fix some of the problems you’ve been having with your immediate boss.  Who knows!

So… bottom line, no I don’t think you can retire early in this situation.  If everything goes well, then you might be able to do it… a 60K/year income with a paid off house and health insurance might be fine even in an expensive city given savings and Social Security kicking in in 12-20 years.  But you can’t really count on the income increasing with inflation or not being cut, you can’t necessarily count on your property taxes staying put (and you need to stay where you are for the benefits), you can’t count on health insurance not bankrupting you, you can’t count on getting more than 70% of your anticipated Social Security claim, etc.  And your responsibilities (husband with health problems, low functioning child who will need lifetime help) are much too high to allow for you to cut expenses to the bone should things go wrong.

Update from Middleclassrevolution:

Family

– Me Middle Class: 50, good health, the one quitting her job ASAP.
– Husband: 60, declining health, home caregiver
– Kid 1: 10 years
– Kid 2:  9 yrs, Special health issues and low functioning autism.
– My parents: 80s, fairly good health but I am not counting on their babysitting help for much longer.

Assets (conservative estimate)

– Single family home valued at $500,000 to 600,000.
– $470,000 in various retirement accounts.
– $30k emergency fund
– Two cars (both owned 100%)

Income

– Me: $60k per year. Much of it goes toward insurance premiums and 401k contributions. Take home pay is closer to $2k per month.
– Husband: $4.5k per month income from state as caregiver. Income is not taxed.

Future Income

– Social Security: amounts unknown.
– No inheritance expected.

Liabilities

– Mortgage : We are 2 years away from paying this off but may do this sooner if possible.
– No debt
– No will, no will, no life insurance. (Bad I know!)
– Both sets of parents are financially sound and will not need our help.

Health insurance

– Three of us are covered by my employer’s high deductible plan.
– Special needs kid is covered by state programs due to health issues.

Career

– I plan to quit and take over the Caregiver role. This job does offer health insurance but I don’t know copays or premiums.
– Unlikely to find another job due to ageism and inability to get a reference from current boss

Spending

– Currently spend about $4k per month. Want to reduce this.
– We plan to sell one of the cars ASAP.

Other factors

– My husband is very impatient with special needs kid. He is good at stepping in when needed to get kid to change clothes, brush teeth, etc.. However on a daily basis, he tends to ignore him, [ed. deleted by request]. I never understood why my mom felt the need to help every other day (alternating with part time nanny). I thought my husband was capable of being sole caregiver. Now that I WFH, I am not so sure he can manage much longer.
– Without school for months and re-opening unlikely, special needs kid will continue to regress.

So… some of the numbers are different compared to when we gave our first advice and the husband [doesn’t sound as good].  If you really do need to stay at home with your child during the pandemic (a common story for many women, and not indicative of their underlying quality of workers), then maybe paint the leaving your job narrative that way and make sure that everyone else is on board with that narrative at the company because it is likely when you do try to return to the labor force (and you will likely have to) your former boss will likely be elsewhere and somebody else at the company will be providing a reference for you.  Hopefully your DH has some redeeming qualities or will be bringing home Social Security in a couple of years, [ed. deleted].  Though since he is close to 62, if he has Social Security benefits, it is unlikely that those will drop (though they may not keep up with inflation) and you may be able to transition to retirement with them, so figure out what they are.  He’s got to be useful for something once he’s no longer being paid to ignore your kid.

Also given your husband’s age and health, it’s probably not cost-effective to get life insurance for him, even term, so just get it for you.  But you can still look into costs.  You do need it for you.

Update:

No honestly he has good points too. He does most of the cooking and a lot around the house and yard. I am often impatient with my special needs kids too. The situation has taken a toll on us. I cannot manage both kids alone.

I realized that I changed 5k to 4.5k…I am not sure of exact amount so I lowered it. I guess that 500/mo makes a difference..

$6000/year when you’re not bringing in a lot does matter (as does knowing if your current take-home pay is 24K/year or 36K/year).  But more importantly, before you make your next move at work, you need to figure out the values of all of these numbers (including Social Security) so that you can make an informed decision.  30K in cash emergency fund does buy you some time, but will schools be reopened in 7.5 months?  It does sound very likely that you will quit this job, but before you do, get all of your ducks in a row.  It might be worthwhile getting all those numbers that the FrugalWoods want even if you don’t actually email them for advice.

Update:

I checked my husband’s monthly income and it is 5k , not 4.5k if that makes a difference.

Finally my son is already stronger than my me, my mom, and nanny. When he gets angry, he hits hard, scratches, twists our fingers and sometimes bites. It is probably when not if he will do more serious harm. Yes we are looking unto meds. Bottom line: I can’t physically manage him without my husband. I would like to keep my son home with us as long as possible.

Grumpy Nation:  Would you retire early in MCR’s situation?  What things should she be thinking about?  What questions would you ask?  Do you have any suggestions for how to best separate from a bad job when you’re in your 50s (especially a state with employer protections)?  Any other advice?

We decided on Virtual Schooling

In the end we decided not to send the kids to in-person school in the fall.

In our last post, we’d already decided not to send DC1.  The risks are larger at the high school level and all but one of hir chosen classes is going to be offered online (Programming II will have to be swapped out with either AP Physics 1 or AP Statistics).  DC1 was also on board with this, as zie is an introvert and while sociable enough in person doesn’t even know some of hir friend’s last names and certainly doesn’t have any contact information.

DC2 ended up being a harder decision, but we finally brought the question to hir.  Zie asked what virtual schooling was going to be like, so we showed hir the district webpage.

While there, Zie also looked at how in-person schooling was going to be different while zie was there, which we hadn’t really thought about.  Zie didn’t like that zie wouldn’t be allowed to play on the playground with friends from other classes.  Zie didn’t like having to wear a mask all the time.  Zie was a little weirded out by the going to the restroom as a group rather than when zie had to go.  Zie also didn’t see much point if zie couldn’t go to after-school with hir main friends.  Zie pointed out that in-person school didn’t sound as fun as usual.

Then zie added up the amount of time spent doing school virtually (90+90, that’s 3 hours, right?) and liked that it was low.  Zie liked the flexibility.  Zie liked being able to eat whenever and not wear a mask and use the restroom whenever.    Zie also found out that at least one of hir good friends is going virtual and had hopes for zoom and maybe even Minecraft realms on a regular basis like we’ve been doing this summer.  (The four of them piloted out Minecraft Realms for DC2’s birthday party with a couple weeks of one-on-one playing in anticipation so that hir two friends who weren’t already immersed in Minecraft could learn how to play the computer version.  One amazing thing is that zie can even play Minecraft nicely with her frenemy(!)  They’re a little snippy at each other but nowhere near as much as usual.)

Adding that DC2 will still be considered Dual Language (meaning instructions and lectures will be in Spanish alternating weeks) and will still have GT (zie promises not to be a jerk on zoom like last year), it seems like virtual will be the best option.  We’re going to have to figure out how to make it work with our work schedules, which is always the problem, but at least there will be less worry about illness.  And DC1 will likely be getting more sleep than last year during in-person high school (hopefully).

And as the weather gets less hot we’ll be able to kick them out of the house again.  Other online people are setting up beautiful welcoming home offices for their kids.  Maybe we can set something up in the backyard instead.  I wonder how far out the wifi reaches…

Masks

I wish I could post links and pictures, but I’m afraid that my favorite etsy shop makes it pretty clear where I live!

I have, at this point, tried several different designs of masks.

The cheapest per-use masks by far are from the Old Navy variety packs.  These are $2.50/mask.  They are triple ply and, I think, reasonably cute.  The children’s are especially cute on DC2. They do not have any nose guards or anything, they’re just the accordion style mask.   They fog up my glasses when I wear glasses.  They sometimes ride up my nose and cover the bottom of my eyes, which makes me understand why so many people wear their masks under their noses.  I am not a fan.  But I did buy a ton of these and I will be handing them out to people who have forgotten their masks.

The most adorable masks are those from redbubble, where they have so many cute Ms. Frizzle-worthy designs.  Unfortunately they’re only double-ply and they’re kind of thin.  They’re not uncomfortable, but they don’t really adhere to my face as much as I’d like.  I’ll still be wearing them, but over a one-layer balaclava.  I would say this combination is overpriced, but my students will likely appreciate it.

What I like best are the etsy triple ply cup design masks with bendable nose guards.  I like the ear loops (cloth, not elastic) better than the ribbons, so far.  After a day spent teaching I might prefer the ribbons.  But we will see.  These generally cost ~$12-$25/mask depending on how popular the place you’re getting it is from on Etsy.  The place I use is on the cheaper end of that scale and I found it by searching for my university’s name and facemask.  Turns out there are local seamstresses filling a need.

Have you gotten masks yet?  What kind do you prefer?  Any links to your favorite shops?

Our stand mixer broke!!!

Wailey Wailey woe.  Tragedy struck while making pumpernickel.

AND not only are kitchenaids scarce knee deep into a pandemic (just like sewing machines!), they no longer come in the color that just magically matches the blue we already had in our backsplash and that we chose for our knobs.  (Cobalt blue, how I miss you.)  That mixer really tied everything together in a way that I normally wouldn’t care about but now that I’ve seen it, I’m having a hard time giving up.

So….

We bought a new stand mixer.  Specifically, a KitchenAid 6-Quart Pro 600 Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer.  In Nickel Pearl because that was $190 cheaper than any other color, though now it looks like their other colors are on various sales, and from a random website called Everything Kitchens.  (If all prices were the same, I would have gotten a plum one from another website, but those really were at sticker price.)  It came, new in box, and works just fine.  The dough hook is a little different.  Everything has interchangable parts, so it fits with the older 6 Qt blue mixer.

But… it still isn’t cobalt blue.  And DH’s forays into painting things have not gone … as expected, and I didn’t want him to do what he did to his microphone to something in our kitchen.

So DH said, well, let me see if I can fix it.  So he opened it up and found where a gear had been ground down.  He bought a replacement part for that gear, which fortunately still fits with the motor (if we’d had an even older model stand mixer we would have had to buy a new motor as well).  He ordered the motor and some food-grade grease (after a discussion with his brother who works on engines for a living) because the motor area is literally and liberally coated in grease.

While cleaning the old grease out in order to put in the new gear, he found two seemingly random ball bearings.  That was traced to another part where two washers holding some ball bearings had come apart, letting the little balls go free.  We do not know the whereabouts of the remaining 6 or 7 bearings– we’re hoping they fell out with the grease.

So DH ordered those parts and a couple of additional washers.

And put them in.

And added grease.

And now we have TWO working stand mixers.

We put the cobalt blue one back in its place of honor in the kitchen.

We decided to put the new one in the dining room on the granite counter bureau where DH makes pasta and pie dough.  We will probably give this one to DC1 when zie has hir own kitchen in however many years.  Maybe cobalt blue kitchenaids will be manufactured again!

DH is getting furloughed again

DH’s company will be between grants/projects again.  So this time instead of laying everybody off, they’ve decided to furlough 20% and actually give time off, not just a paycut.  Everyone seems pretty happy about this solution.   It’s going to be Fridays starting this month.

DH promises he won’t use his extra day of weekend to do yardwork, which seems to be where his free time has gone in the past.  Given our lack of childcare, we’re not too unhappy about this state of affairs.  And, given the number of reimbursements we’ve received over the past few months for travel and summer camps and so on, I think it’s possible we won’t have to dip into savings at least until I start getting paid again in October.

They’re not sure how long things are going to last– the problem is that their next project money involves a lot of travel… and Covid has messed all of that up.  Even states allowing travel have had restrictions about who is allowed to visit the places DH would need to visit.

Hopefully the company will stay in business.  Otherwise, I don’t know, maybe it will be time for him to take an early retirement.  Or moving to Paradise.  Who knows.

Have you and yours been affected by the pandemic/recession?

Ask the grumpies: McConnell and Russian campaign funds

Rose asks:

What is true about the rumors I have seen that Mitch the Senator has been given billions/millions in campaign funds filtered from Russian plutocrats?

Here’s what politifact says about this story.  To quote the bottom line:

A post says McConnell’s “biggest donor” is a Russian oligarch who was released from U.S. sanctions.

Blavatnik is involved in Deripaska’s businesses, on which sanctions were lifted recently, but it is inaccurate to call him the Russian oligarch “that the GOP just lifted sanctions on.”

Blavatnik also donated money to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund, but he wasn’t the highest donor, records show. He also contributed to other Republican leaders and GOP-affiliated PACs.

So yes, it looks like he has been given quite a bit of money from Russian plutocrats.  Some portion of the $7.35 million given to the GOP in 2017 by a Russian oligarch, according to this Dallas News story.

We bought exercise things!

Sadly, summer has begun in earnest and it’s regularly hitting triple digits outside.  That limits our exercise options.  DH has also been getting wrist problems along with my back problems doing online yoga, so he’s cut down substantially on that.  DC2 has been used to getting a ton of exercise at school and camp and it looks like camp won’t be happening so zie needs something to get the zoomies out now that we can’t just kick the kids out of the house at any hour.  If we sign a waiver we can use the HOA pool… but … masks don’t work in pools…

I did not think we would ever get an exercise bike, because we have real bikes and exercise bikes take space.  But DH’s SIL put one on her amazon wishlist that she’d done a lot of research on, and it seemed reasonable, so we bought one for ourselves too (amazon affiliate link).  It was around ~325 all told and is light and smallish (not small, but smaller than my parents’ old exercise bike).  We like it fine.  DC2 especially likes it.  I’ve been breaking up my walking around while I watch youtube videos with exercise biking while watching youtube videos.

Speaking of walking around, I was doing it so much that our carpet stopped being as protective as it had been and my feet started hurting so I got some house slippers with arch support from zappos (amazon affiliate link).  They’re kind of hot for summer walking, but they do help when my feet start to hurt.

DH also got a boxing game for Nintendo Switch, though he’s a bit squicked out by the sexualization of the female characters in it (you can buy them skimpy clothing as rewards, for example).  He says it’s a work out.

AND, Ring Fit, which is the whole reason DH bought a Switch to begin with before the Pandemic, finally became available locally (~$80, as opposed to the $250 resellers were selling it for).  DH put on a mask and high-tailed it to the Target the next town over (our Target was already sold out!) where they took one out of the back for him since they hadn’t had time to stock the shelves from that morning’s shipment yet.  Ring Fit comes with a ring that you push and pull on to provide arm exercises, and a thing for your leg to attach the other controller.  You run and push and pull etc. to move your avatar forward in a video game and collect coins and fight enemies.  It is definitely fun and it’s a workout for all of us (set at different levels– mine is set one lower than the kids who are set one lower than DH :/ ), though it is very good at reminding me how terrible my coordination is compared to normal people (just like DDR used to back in the day).

One of my friends bought a stroller for her cat(!)

Have you discovered any new exercise things since summer started?

No camp for DC2

It sounds like kid-to-kid transmission isn’t much of a thing, and that outdoor transmission with masks isn’t so bad, so we won’t negatively judge anybody who is doing summer camp.  DC2 is so energetic and so extroverted that summer camp has seemed like a necessity.

There are three summer camp options in town for 7-8 year olds.

The school-run camp doesn’t open until Mid-July and they are doing everything correctly.  They’re limiting the number of students at each campus, they’re putting them in groups of 5 that don’t interact, they’re requiring masks (except at meals) and they’re doing most of their camp outside.  Curbside pick-up and drop-off of campers only.  Problem:  it is already regularly 100 degrees outside so that sounds MISERABLE.  (Plus it’s so inexpensive and slots are so limited, I feel guilty taking a slot that someone who can’t work from home needs, though that problem could be solved by just waiting to sign up.)

On the other end of the spectrum, the Children’s Museum is making zero changes.  They’re doing their full programs at full size, indoors, masks optional.  The Children’s Museum itself will be open the same as usual with no mention of additional cleaning procedures.  That all sounds like a recipe for disaster on top of us feeling like zie had really outgrown it last year at age 6.

In the middle is the Science Museum, which is limiting each of their summer camps to 10 kids total, two groups of five.  Masks required. They’re only doing half-days, mostly indoors.  The museum itself will be closed during the camp (it will open for the general public after camp finishes).  The problem with this is that the two groups of five are separated by age with 4-7 as one group and 8-12 as the other group.  DC2 is 7 and grade-skipped.  They don’t expect kids to be able to say, read, in the younger group.  It seems like the benefit just wouldn’t be worth the risk.  (DC2 also isn’t interested in any of the topics from this camp this year.)

What are we doing instead?  DC2 is still going through workbooks and other chores.  Zie is zooming with hir friends (though some of those friends are signed up for the school’s summer camp and won’t be around in a month).  We’ve been working on getting them to be able to play minecraft together safely. (It looks like we can buy a subscription to a private minecraft server after signing waivers on behalf of our kids, but there are some wrinkles with there being different flavors of minecraft that don’t all talk with each other.  We’re hoping to work those kinks out soon.)  Zie is rapidly going through the kids’ collection of novels, manga, and comic books.  Zie is also allowed 2 hours of unsupervised screentime each day and has been watching Card Captor Sakura or playing several of a ton of switch games that DH bought recently.  There’s also bike riding (indoor or outdoor) and Ring Fit playing.  And 15 minutes of cleaning up their rooms.  But… there’s also a lot of whining and a little bit of sibling squabbling and quite a bit of parent shouting at them to knock it off and go outside if they can’t stop while we’re trying to work.

We still haven’t gotten reimbursed for our dependent daycare account– I thought that was supposed to happen last month, but I emailed and they said it would be in my “July paycheck” but this year I don’t have a July paycheck, so we’ll see what happens.  But even if we just flat out lose the money, I think we’re making the right decision not sending DC2 to daycamps here.

What do daycamps in your area look like?  What are other people doing with their kids?