Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blessings and Appreciation

The blessings have poured down on us today!  A friend is moving away from our little town and though she will be missed, along with her sweet little girl, Emily, we will have reminders of them all around us. She called us earlier and said she had some clothes she needed to find a  home for and asked if I would be interested.  Of course I am not going to pass up free clothes.  Anything I can't wear I can always use for the women's ministry at church, so it is a win-win.  However, when we got to her house she was in the garage going through all sorts of things that she was desperate to give away.  She simply did not want to deal with moving all of it.  Other 'shoppers' would be arriving soon to take away a variety of items, but there were things no one had claimed yet like wrapping paper, ribbon, gift boxes, car wash supplies, and countless other goodies she just didn't want.  We even got two awesome beach chairs and an umbrella!  My husband, fairly stoic most of the time, was perfectly giddy on the way home.  I asked him if he was okay with getting all that stuff and he said, "Are you kidding?  We can't buy anything for a year so this is like Christmas!" 

I was reading something the other day about The Great Depression.  The people in the article commented that they were not as poor as the farm folks at the time but they remembered being so thrilled at getting a piece of fruit once or twice or month, and maybe some kind of bite of dessert every month or two.  People today have no idea what that would be like - we are entirely too self-indulgent but it has me thinking about going on a dessert fast for a solid month just to get an idea.  Even though we are not purchasing non-depletables, we have not done without.  We have not missed out on anything except the hustle and bustle of running here and there and everywhere, trying to get something on sale or find some new gadget.  Just like today's windfall from our friend, Kim, we were all very excited to have something new (to us) and we appreciate the giver much more than the gifts themselves.  Maybe that's the lesson - appreciation.  You think that's what the people who survived The Great Depression got out of it?  Perhaps it wasn't about the loss of things, but what they gained - an appreciation for the people in their lives and the faith in their hearts.  Thanks Kim.  You will be missed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

All In Good Time

I'm not satisfied unless I have a thousand things on my plate.  I have tried to scale back but the harder I try, the more I end up doing.  I suppose I need to resign myself to the fact that I am the CEO of something undefinable but definitely all-consuming.  The bright side is that I am no longer overwhelmed by running here and there for this and that.  A commercial on television for a "one-day sale" doesn't even warrant my acknowledgment.  And, since I am spending no time - zip, zero- on online shopping, I do have more time to devote to things like this, which I enjoy enormously.  Writing is my first love - always has been, always will be.  This allows me some creative expression, as well as the opportunity to embark upon a crazy, offbeat experiment, which is fun in a challenging sort of way.  Normal does not fit who I am, and I happily embrace that fact!  This may cause severe embarrassment to my children one day, but I think at some point they will realize I do these crazy, all-in, go-for-it things to show them to have no fear of standing out from the crowd.  One day they may be asked to stand up for something - something truly important and maybe somewhere in the back of their minds they will remember where they came from - after all, a nut doesn't fall far from the tree!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Out Of the Mouths Of Babes...

My Kelby amazes me - He walked up to me last night and said he wanted to ask me something.  I always brace myself when he does this because the next words out of his mouth usually have to do babies and how they get here or why boys have to stand up to go number one but girls have to sit down for it.  And he doesn't settle for a simple response.  Bracing for the worst, I literally breathed a sigh of relief when he asked if we could keep doing this "shopping thing" again next year.  He said he really liked it and that he wasn't missing out on anything.  Of course, this is only month two and who knows how he might feel later in the year, but I have to say he has adjusted very easily to not buying 'stuff' so far.  We can only hope this sets off a positive trend and instills good shopping habits our boys will keep for life.  Why shouldn't children learn at least one thing from their parents' mistakes?

Monday, February 22, 2010

STUFFITIS (stuff' i`tis) excessive need for stuff; inflammation of stuff; disease process of having too much stuff

Yesterday, a friend was discussing this new shopping outlook with me.  I will call her Carol Ann.  She was telling me how she has stuffitis - a common condition for men and women living in this day and age.  I know because I have been suffering from it all my life and didn't even realize it until recently.  It's an insidious disease process that begins early in life and typically deteriorates as we age.  The symptoms may include increased heart rate when the victim eyes a particular item they believe they cannot live without,  a feeling of elation at seeing a package arrive in the mailbox or delivered by UPS, but sadly followed by a deep, sinking feeling when the credit card statement arrives.  The latter may result in sweaty palms, a furrowed brow and indigestion.  If not treated, the initial symptoms will lead to even worse health problems such as high blood pressure, the need for Botox after all that furrowing and of course the purchase of multiple bottles of antacid.  Financial, as well as physical, demise is imminent.  Sadly, about 90% of the population suffers from this malady - but there is good news!  We can stop stuffitis!  How?  Quit buying things that you already have!  If your shower ledge is lined up with shampoo, why on earth are you buying more?  If you already have sheets on your bed and they don't have holes in them, do you really need that new set?  Look carefully in your closet, at that collection of DVDs, the dreaded attic where all things 'needed later' are thrown and ask yourself if you can do without the next great piece of $39 art you spy at your favorite home decor store.  Yes, Carol Ann, there is a cure for stuffitis.  Now, finding a cure to a Tic Tac addiction is another matter entirely - I may need to go to rehab for this one.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Con? You Be the Judge...

I think I've been conned - by my husband and 7-year-old boy!  The other day my husband wanted to take Kelby squirrel hunting for the first time.  I saw a Wal-Mart bag with a $10.00 tag on it and realized it contained ammo for the hunting expedition.  I asked how ammunition qualified as a depletable.  Both began to 'explain' to me that once you fire that weapon you can't get the bullet back and that it can't be re-used and that it's gone for good.  They were both very serious and matter-of-fact, as though they were discussing the principles of nuclear physics with a colleague.  That should have been my first clue.  As I was distracted at the time, I let it go but later began to wonder about this.  The bullet is actually a shotgun shell, which by all accounts, does not disintegrate into thin air.  It just happens to be an empty shell afterward.  I think they've slipped one past me - was it worth it in the end?   The bonus in this situation, if I were looking for one, is that I didn't have to cook a rodent because the hunt was unsuccessful. They did have some nice father/son time, and Quade was able to teach Kelby a great deal about gun safety.  That's easily worth $10.00 in my book. How about yours?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tough Times for a 2-Year-Old

Found ourselves in Wal-Mart last night picking up a few grocery items when it occurred to our 2-year-old that he 'needed' new Play-Dough.  He was very insistent that he needed it, as a matter of fact.  How do you explain to a 2-year-old that Play Dough is not depletable?  You don't.  You simply tolerate the fussing, screaming and tantrum until it passes and try to tell him that you have a great idea - you will make him some homemade play dough and say it with as much excitement as you can muster.  He eyed his loving parents with expected skepticism but seemed pacified by the fact that he was still getting play dough one way or another.  I am including the recipe I have for it but would like to know if anyone has a variation on it or suggestions to make it even better - believe me, this child will know the difference between the trademarked stuff and the homemade stuff and he will point it out to me immediately!  Also, does anyone know if this is supposed to be all-purpose flour or self-rising flour?
Kid's Play Dough
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 tbsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 cup water or more
Food coloring
1.  Mix dry ingredients in large sauce pan.
2.  Mix oil, water, food coloring.
3.  Mix all together.
4.  Cook over med. heat for 1-4 minutes until it's not sticky.  Let cool and play with it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Birthday on a Budget

My birthday was yesterday and my mother won the prize for gifting!  She actually made my entire gift without spending a penny on anything but a few grocery items like flour and frosting.  But wait to you hear what she made me.  She put together a little hand scrub made from brown sugar, white sugar and sea salt.  She re-used a jar she had and added a bow.  But then, she made a cookie bouquet (thus, the need for flour and frosting).  She needed sticks to put the cookie flowers on and used some wooden chopsticks she was saving for a future craft project.  She put this bouquet into a very pretty container, which she already had and simply re-used.  I cannot leave out my husband, though. He did come through for me.  I committed myself in my last post not to purchase more than one 4-pack of Tic Tacs and I have not.  But I only had a few left.  My husband knew what the perfect birthday gift would be and bought me Tic Tacs!  He also cooked a steak dinner - yum.  My little boys made me beautiful artwork that I can display and admire for years to come.  All in all, it was a great birthday.  I don't have to worry about finding a place I don't have for knick knacks I don't need, and we enjoyed the evening together, with our bellies full of steak and Tic Tacs at the ready.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Word of Thanks

Word must be getting out about this little experiment.  In the past week I have had two different people offer to give me clothes for myself and my youngest boy.  Two weeks ago someone gave me clothes for my oldest boy.  Believe me, I am grateful for their generosity.  Clothes are not on our list of purchasable items this year.  Support for this effort by those around us really keeps us going and keeps us motivated, and we are certainly thankful for their support.  I have seen such a difference in my husband's attitude about balancing the checkbook - that alone has made this all worth it!  He used to put it off as long as he could and then fussed, fussed, fussed all the way through it.  Now, he gets it done quickly and without complaint.  In fact, I think I heard a little "Yes!" slip out when he finished the other day.  As always, we give thanks to the Lord for sustaining us - He always meets our needs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Penny For My Thoughts

I need to start a list of all the things I think I "need" during a day but cannot purchase right now.  I have a feeling the list would be pretty long.  I might be cooking and think "I sure need a new rolling pin."  The other day after seeing how rough the heels of my feet have gotten this winter I thought "I need a new foot file and give myself a pedicure."  I looked for a purse in my closet to go with a certain outfit I have but found that I didn't have one that was just right - oh well, it will just have to wait.  By then, I hope the outfit doesn't fit anyway (trying to lose weight).  Truthfully, all of these things I don't currently have I am living just fine without.  I have had the same old rolling pin since Quade and I were married 12 years ago - it does the same thing a new one would do.  I don't devote a lot of time to my feet at any given time and I do have lotion I could apply nightly that would make a huge difference if I just used it.  And, the purse is absolutely nothing I need - just another accessory to worry with.  But I do think I will start jotting it down when stuffitis strikes- would make for an interesting list at the end of the year.  Maybe I'll pay myself a penny for every one of them December 31, 2010 - if I can afford it!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Needs, Wants and Addictions

Got into a conversation with a friend yesterday.  We were talking about money and our little experiment.  She began to tell me how she is a bargain kind of lady.  She finds bargains and goes for it.  She was telling me, in fact, she needed a computer and found one on sale for almost half the regular price.  I said wow, so you don't already have a computer?  Her quick response was, "not a desktop."  And then she grinned slyly and I immediately caught on to the fact she obviously has a laptop.  But she insisted that she 'needed' it.  Now, although our experiment is not necessarily about needs and wants but instead depletables and edibles, things that fall into these categories often cross territories.  Our conversation does make me want to revise my list of things I can purchase to save even more money.  Many of you reading this already know I have a TERRIBLE addiction to the white Tic Tacs.  Those are certainly edible, but they are not a need.  I am going to make a public commitment right now to cut down my consumption of these to one 4-pack a week.  A 4-pack is
$ 2.88 and I can easily purchase two of these a week.  That brings me to $23 a month on Tic Tacs, and just seeing this in print is making me sick to my stomach.  I think I will also start looking at other edibles and depletables that are not needs but wants and see where more cutting can be done.  Be Warned, however, I am going to be a bear while I am cutting down on those little white mints - just proves you can can addicted to anything.  And Alma - if I can cut out some of my Tic Tacs I bet you can cut out some "bargain must-haves."  Good luck :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Soapy Solution

I don't waste time looking through too many mail order catalogs these days.  After all, there is not likely to be anything in them that I can purchase.  But the other day a Current Catalog came in the mail.  I have, in the past, enjoyed looking at their online sales and have found some really terrific bargains with them.  I flipped through the pages while drinking a cup of coffee and actually found something that I could order from them if I wanted to.  It was soap leaves shaped in the form of flowers.  Soap is depletable and is on my list of things I can purchase.  These were too cute.  I don't know that I will order them but it is an idea for something I can add to my "gifts" list.  I am a little afraid that if I were to order something - anything - that it would be like opening Pandora's box.  Perhaps I shouldn't be so quick to toss those catalogs, though, because I might get some ideas of things to make from them!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Love is in Season

It's coming - Valentine's Day, that is.  The stores are showcasing all their sweet delights, shiny red hearts and glitzy baubles to separate us from our money.  Can we show the ones we love how much we care without spending money?  We can do it without spending much.  Because we are limited to edibles and depletables, one thought for us to consider might be purchasing a favorite cake mix and frosting, along with some decorative sprinkles and make Valentine cupcakes together as a family.  We can also make our own cards for one another with the supplies I have on hand.  My husband and I are not ones to make a big deal over gift-giving to begin with.  For us, the time spent with one another and our children is what we long for most.  Of course, there should be a special gift between a husband and a wife on Valentine's Day - a little imagination goes a long way and a new red negligee is not required!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Wisdom of the Ages - Age 7 In This Case

My oldest, Kelby, is really getting into the act!  At 7 years old, he is fully aware of what a depletable is and quickly educates others should the subject come up.  Yesterday, we were doing a little cleaning and I gave him a Magic Eraser cleaning pad to 'erase' some errant crayon marks that a certain 2-year-old happened to leave behind.  Kelby marched right up to me and informed me that I could purchase more of these cleaning pads since they disintegrate as they are used; therefore, they are most certainly depletable.  Later, while playing in the snow with some neighborhood boys, however, he began to fuss about his little sled because it was not working well for him.  I overheard him telling the boys that he could not buy a new one, though, because sleds are not depletable. Not sure what their response was but I imagine it involved raising their eyebrows and uttering, "Huh?"