Week 27: Mulch Ado About Nothing

FeaturedWeek 27: Mulch Ado About Nothing

This has been a spending week. I will just come right out and say it. There were things that needed buying and I decided to not footsie around with it. It’s a fine balance between finding deals and just getting the shopping over with. One requires a lot of time and searching, the other requires being willing to throw down the money at one location and be done. The latter is what I did. My hubs needed new shoes, I needed work-out leggings and my kiddo needed new “fancy” shoes as her most favorite mary-janes are now a tight squeeze.

Since my hubs hates shopping, and when he does get a chance, usually backs out of it because he can’t be bothered, I decided to hit the shoe racks at our local Ross. I found 3 shoes that he potentially might wear and bought them all. It felt weird to do so, but the plan was to have him try them and then return the others. I know, it’s an extra step for me while hauling two kids, but believe me, this was the simpler option. And miraculously there was one pair in the three that he liked and which was on clearance price for $12; so we did good on that front ( And I’ve already been back to return the others so we got the cash back in hand). I picked up fancy shoes for both my kids as we are going to be doing a photo shoot for our yearly Christmas card (I do the photoshoot). Sparkly shoes were in order. It did feel a little frivolous, but when it comes to the girls and especially my oldest who is particularly fond of the glitter these days, I know that they will be well used beyond this photo op.

I had also ordered rain boots online for my oldest along with a few more items in the same order off of Amazon. It feels like I went on a massive spending spree, but I do believe that all items are of value to us: two thermoses for holding warm foods (now that it’s cold, it will be nice to have warm foods for our picnics!), rain boots, a double set of windshield breaking devices (I won’t go into too much detail…but after two local families experienced tragedies in which their children were trapped in submerged vehicles, this item is a necessity for me), and absorbent training undies for my eldest.  I think we will be using all of these items!  Oh yes, and four Peppa Pig books are on order from our local book store as potty training incentives.

I also had an influx of clothing into my wardrobe courtesy of my very generous sister-in-law. I did not spend a cent. If you can believe it, after all that mulling over puffy jackets a few weeks back, she gave me her Patagonia puffy jacket! I will cherish it for a long time. Thanks Rebekah.

And last but not least, the hubs threw down a couple hundred on mulch. It’s been a long time coming. We live in Nor Cal after all. It’s about time we did away with our lawn, which, truth be told is barely a lawn and more of a weed garden. So we laid down cardboard to suppress the weeds and put down a thick layer of mulch. It felt good to get that taken care of. I’m so impressed with my man and how he just gets things done. The girls had a grand ol’ time tumbling about in the mulch as we worked.

And that is all I am going to report for now. It’s been a spendy week but all for a purpose, so I think I can live with that.

Oh! And I consigned my stuff this week and made just over $200! Not bad! Feeling pretty good about that.

Cheers.

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Week 26: Consigning

FeaturedWeek 26: Consigning

I don’t know if it’s worth it. Getting stuff ready to consign is labor intensive. There’s the selecting of clothes: is it in good condition? Are there stains? There’s the prepping of clothes: washing, ironing. There’s the hanging of the clothes and tagging. Then there will be the drop off. All told, I don’t know how many hours will have gone into it. And then, will they sell? Did I price it well enough? Are the items desirable enough?

But, I must say that it feels good. In a way it is a great way to move stuff along but at a pace where you get to say your goodbyes and prepare for separation. There are a lot of memories attached to some items of clothing. And truth be told, I can’t bear to part with some of it. For the most part, though, I am letting things go. Having kids necessitates that. I am always letting go. I have to let go of trying to hold onto the baby version of my toddler…and now my quickly growing baby too. I have to let go of wanting to feel needed when my big girl walks away without looking back. Clothes, to be honest, are the least of my worries!

And what helps fuel the letting go is the need to make room for the next influx. Change happens so quickly around here. It’s exciting, it’s stressful, it keeps me on my toes.

I am also preparing to make some purchases for my girl. She is hovering on the brink of growing out of all of her shoes. This means I need to assess what is necessary for her in terms of footwear. I think running shoes are the bees knees. My kid thinks patent Mary Janes are the bomb. I think rain boots would be appropriate considering the rainy season is approaching. My kid thinks “what’s ‘appropriate’ got to do with anything?” So, not only do I need to assess whether something is necessary, I have to very much take into account whether or not it will be worn. Pretty much anything not pink or purple is suspect in my kiddos eyes right now. It makes me want to weep.

So, after having reported last week that I was not talking about shopping much, I found myself doing exactly that ( what I like to call “shop talk”). I’ve been eyeing other kids’ shoes and asking their mom’s about them. All for a purpose, of course, but I am afraid I will fuel my shopping monster. I hover on the brink.

I can hold out a little longer. The need is immanent but not immediate. For the moment, I will focus on the letting go. Wish me good consigning mojo!

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Week 25: In Which a Mess Gets Messier before the Clean gets…Clean(i)er.

Week 25: In Which a Mess Gets Messier before the Clean gets…Clean(i)er.

Let’s start with the highs, shall we?

I realize that my language around shopping has decreased significantly. I do allow myself to talk with others about retail related things, but it definitely doesn’t dominate. I don’t go out of my way, anymore, to ask where someone got something or comment on how cute an outfit is. It’s not that I don’t think it, but I choose not to make that a feature. I realize that my kid is listening, ALL THE TIME. I don’t want her to fall into that trap. Right now she is having so much fun experimenting with her own style, layering in whatever which way takes her fancy. It’s more about the independence of choice and the ability to dress herself that is the draw ( not how “cute” she looks) and I want to keep it that way for as long as possible. So, that is an added motivation, besides trying to un brainwash my spendy self, to not talk about buying things or focus on material things.

Okay, another high is that I felt no urges to shop this week. I got only the basics. Even went into the lions den, Costco, with a friend, and though we admitted that it was a house of temptation, neither of us left with anything frivolous. ( Side note, if you are a Costco fan please check out my Aunts blog: My Costco Odyssey. She has just set out on an adventure to visit at least one Costco per State, documenting their individual peculiarities and qualities.)

Heck, even had a date night with the hubs and we both agreed that while our previous date night had been a hoot, we couldn’t go around throwing down a hundred per date night…so we went super cheapo, brought a thermos of hot water with us, biked to the local Safeway for some cup ramiens and Ghirardelli chocolates and then spent hours biking around our neighborhood and surrounding area. We ended up at our local State Park where there was a nice picnic table repleat with view of trees and setting sun, where we chatted and noshed on spicey ramien. Then, we went to our local Tap Room to use a generous gift certificate my hubs got a while back from his sister and bro-in-law, and had a nice saunter home,  in the dark, eating Takis and cheesy Ruffles chips from bags tucked in our pockets while we pushed our bikes homeward (no biking tipsy in the dark!).

There actually isn’t truly a low to report, just that in my continuing effort to purge and sort (a looooong, drawn out process) I finally launched into Mission : Sort the Kids’ Clothes. Now, it’s all fine and dandy that I Kon Mari-ed my own wardrobe many months back and have all the clothes I possess visible to me in my closet. But, the kids clothes are a whole different story. It’s messy. When my oldest grows too big for her clothes, I put it away in storage until they fit my little one. Now, the sheer quantity of clothing my first born received from ages 0-24 months is staggering, though not at all news to any mom I’ve met…and I totally get it…dressing a baby is so FUN ( and I am truly grateful to family for providing so much for us). But there is definitely an element of stress in there for me, trying to keep all of those items in rotation, making sure they are all used and enjoyed. Do you KNOW how many items of baby clothes are in one full load of wash? A LOT. On a good day I don’t enjoy folding or putting away my own clothes; now take that amount and quadruple it at least…now add a rambunctious toddler and a baby alternately clinging and crying while holding my leg and/or unfolding what I’ve just folded and sorted and you can start to see what I’m dealing with. I have been known to leave a load of laundry, washed and dried in the dryer for upwards of five days…because I have no baskets…because they are full of another load of dirty clothes and/or I have folded and sorted clothes waiting to be put into their correct drawers. God help me.

Soooo. I really wanted to finally go through all the clothes my girls possess, assess and de-stress (TM) (just kidding) by eliminating. Okay…so turns out I am not as good at eliminating items when it comes to my kids clothes. For one, they are cute. For another, they contain memories. And for another, I know where each and every one came from…mostly loving aunts and grandmas.  AAAANNND, let’s not forget that these girls require multiple changes a day. So…all this ads up to me not being able to get rid of anything that currently fits either of them. Even the stained stuff….because they are just going to keep dirtying it.

What I could do was remove the items they no longer fit. This actually required a huge switcheroo. The giant dresser that my eldest used to house the massive amounts of clothes up to size 24 months now  started to feel empty as she handed down her clothes to my little one…and vice versa, my little one now has too much clothes to fit in her small dresser. A switch was needed. That’s what I did. I spent a good chunk of Saturday making the switch. Not a small feat.

I’ve been wanting to set up my girls room for a while in a way that makes it her space and feels special. I abandoned the make-over aspect of it because of budget, so that will have to come later, but I did get my hubby to help think up a way to make it so that she can access her own clothes. He had seen this nifty life hack somewhere on Reddit or something, making our unused crib (both kids never slept in it) something of value, finally (and FYI, for all your worriers out there, it is screwed to the wall. I’m married to a cabinet maker, after all!). All you moms out there know what this means of course, that I will forever be picking up clothes as she moves from outfit to outfit throughout the day…but it’s a small price to pay.20161002_090156.jpg

Now, as to the clothes that I could move on out ( I possess a small collection of baby clothes and favored items that I am keeping for posterity) I am planning to consign them…or at least, the ones that are not destroyed by food stains and over use. This is my one way of hopefully recouping some additional value from all of this, an attempt at least, before it all makes its way to the goodwill. And it does feel good to have some cash in hand. I also have quite a few girl friends who are expecting, so, if they let me, I will hand over some of my most favorite items to them…but most likely they will already be drowning in their own avalanche of clothes…so not sure if my gift would be more of a stress than anything. Hard to say. We certainly do live in a world of excess when it comes to clothing, and the baby industry is a huge culprit. We might be able to resist buying clothes for ourselves, but when it comes to those gosh darn adorable baby/toddler outfits, it’s neigh on impossible to resist.

…though I must say it was not hard to resist today when I walked into JC Penny’s to see if they had ballet slippers ( my aunt wants to give a pair to my eldest who loves tutus and dancing) and possibly rain boots. I took a look at those price tags and almost had a heart attack. Forty five dollar tops and dresses! Even the sale stuff was still way too much. And at those prices, I’d rather be buying from someone local rather than from a big corporation making their stuff overseas. It was not hard to walk out of there at all! Okay, it was a little hard because my littles were enticed by all the colors and sights, so I had to lure them with the joy of taking the escalator…which was, it turns out, very exciting.

That’s all for now. Goodnight.

 

 

 

Week 21: The Cure

Week 21: The Cure

What is the ultimate cure for spending? Ummm…cleaning. More specifically, de-cluttering. This long weekend we had, as usual, made no plans in advance. This left us wide open to come up with some great spur of the moment activities. Being that we have had a rough week, the two of us, short on sleep and high on stress, we couldn’t think of much. Sometimes what is needed is simply time at home.

Unfortunately, time at home means looking at things more closely, aka: the mess. So, it launched us into de-clutter mode. I have been saying for months that the next de-cluttering frontier is the garage. Oh, the garage. The bane of my hubby’s existence. When I moved to California, permanently, from Ontario Canada, I brought a lot of stuff with me. Stuff that I could not get rid of, you know, the paraphernalia of personal history. Memories, in other words. I look at those unopened boxes gathering dust and I wonder why I couldn’t face de-cluttering all of those years ago when I had a chance; when each box and the amount it contained equaled a really sizable chunk of money, all sent through the mail. The cost of memories. I had a literal cost for being unable to let go.

I’ve always been a collector, but these days I am starting to change my perspective on things. I imagine us getting old, passing away and leaving this burden of earthly possessions to the kids. Who needs that? I know for a fact that I cannot bring anything physical with me when I die. What is this need to posses? What will happen to me if I don’t have all this stuff? And most importantly, if I do get rid of something meaningful, and I do, in the future have a pang of regret…what does that do to me? Really. And what will I gain in terms of mental emotional/clarity when I don’t have all of this stuff lingering around, cluttering my life?

Ultimately, that pang of regret is a transient feeling. It will not affect who I am nor the life I am living, nor the memories I carry with me. The pangs we have for physical things, the nostalgia, it’s just that: nostalgic feelings that can be felt, observed and let go of. 

I sound so confident and zen, don’t I?  In actuality, this is the ultimate challenge for me. I managed to empty quite a few boxes and send some things off either to the dump or the thrift store, but there are boxes I have designated my “search my heart” boxes. I will have to tackle each and every item in them and really honestly answer the questions: do I need this? Will I use this? Is this necessary? And, most importantly, is this an item of joy or a burden? If it’s a burden, I need to let it go, no matter what it is, no matter how personally historical.

One of the hardest thing for me is photographs. What to do with this precious documentation. To destroy it seems to be sacrilege. Yet, of all the things I possess it seems to be the biggest burden. The burden of a reluctant archivist. I do not possess the interest, time, or ability to organize and store all of it properly, so it weighs on my mind. I have to ask the questions: For whom are these photos? Will these photos be viewed? Will they be of value to anyone other than myself? Do I simply need one photo or the negatives too? The negatives are the DNA of the photo, yet they are inherently set to decompose, break down which, if I’m honest, is a source of anxiety for me too (this is proof of my existence, when we are all dust, there will be no record). Until such time as they are no longer viable, what will I do with them, can I let them go?! Would the regret of letting them go eat me up inside?

When I was younger, I actually thought that perhaps, one day, I might really make something of myself. Enough so that someone might be interested in my personal history. My ego-self envisioned that all the stuff I’d collected was like my personal museum, my biography, some day, long from now, someone would find my stuff and think it was gold, would gleefully delve into it all and glean something of my personality and life, a museum could be set up dedicated to my creative life. I am laughing so hard. And I am also so sad. The death of dreaming and the onset of reality and the likelihood of a lovely yet unremarkable, decidedly non celebrity life. Don’t get me wrong:

I love my life. I am just, probably, not the stuff of legend.

So there will be soul searching and brutal honesty in my future…when I get a chance. With kids, those chances seem to be few and far between. Ultimately that might help me be more swiftly decisive and brutal.

I turn to you, my lovely community: how do you deal with your personal artifacts? What can you let go of? What do you find you must keep and why?