Day 11: Enter Temptation

Day 11: Enter Temptation

So, I had a mission to complete that I’ve been putting off because I wasn’t sure what the parameters should be. I’d purchased two sports bras on-line before the challenge. One fit, the other didn’t. It was a much-needed infusion of brassieres, since, as a nursing mommy, my old ones have taken quite a bit of abuse. Now, ordinarily, the old me would discover that something I’d ordered on-line was not quite right, but I wouldn’t want to go through the trouble of returning it. Wasteful. This challenge has me thinking about the quality and value of things, and if something isn’t perfect and what I’d use, then I need to return it. Well, this item could be returned directly to the store even if purchased on-line because REI has an awesome return policy. Yay. The trick was that I’d have to go into a brick and mortar store.

The question here also was, could I trade in for one that fit better? Could I trade up if it cost more? I decided that if I managed to find something just right for the same price or less, then I could do it. But, if it cost even a bit more, then no way.

So, here, folks was a test of my resolve.

To be honest, I don’t often purchase anything from REI because I don’t buy into the outdoor gear thing , especially not the lifestyle stuff. If I need something for camping (or in the past, rock climbing) then yes, on occasion…if I can’t find it cheaper elsewhere.

We got there and immediately I felt that ‘kid in a candy store’ sensation. You know, like when you had a few spare quaters in your pocket as a kid and you could buy a few jaw-breakers from that shelf full of colourful, all sugar, treats.

I wandered the aisles, touching the great Patagonia gear, trying to feel if I had any overwhelming desires for any of it. In passing I would think, that would look really nice on; or that would be great to run in; but for the most part, very easy to pass up. The selection of bras was slim and priced much higher than the item I had purchased on sale. No go there.

Here’s where it got tricky. I saw some sun hats that were reasonably priced and cute. I am forever living in hope that my girls will keep their hats on. Summer is going to be upon us and that California sun can be intense. The battle to get the girls to stay protected from the sun with inconspicuous, light, comfy hats begins. I could, I calculated, buy both girls a hat with the money from the returned bra.

But then my toddler began asking for me to pull down all the hats to try. And then she wanted to try on shoes.

Suddenly, I snapped out of it.

How would these hats be any different from the handful of hats I had for the girls at home? Here was my little girl already becoming a shopper before my eyes.

I put my efforts to cajoling my toddler into getting on board with me and our mission. A simple ‘in, return, out’.

And so that’s what we did.

Phew. That was close.

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Day 9

Day 9

It’s hard to do groceries when you’re hungry. I was really hungry today. My stomach is still not back to normal after a bout with food poisoning, but I’m also a nursing mom so I had the ol’ hunger pangs as I walked down the aisles of the grocery store this morning.

While my resolve to buy only foods I would use to make things and not the pre-made stuff i.e. apples if I wanted apple sauce, popping corn if I want the bagged stuff etc, wavered a little bit, I still managed to only get the necessities and stick to my weekly budget.

I did realize, however, that shopping without a list is foolhardy. One, because I end up wandering the aisles (and who has time to wander when you’ve got a two-year old in your cart demanding “samples, samples” and a 9 month old strapped to your body with an ergo). Two, because I end up forgetting something  and three, I don’t know if I am buying enough to last not just the work week but the weekend. I’ve got to work on that.

I did meet a fellow mom in the aisles whom I know in passing, and as we chatted, I noticed her great harem pants. Briefly I thought of my online search several weeks ago for a good pair of said pants, but unable to find any, I temporarily gave up. I will now have to give up on it entirely, at least for 356 more days I will. They are certainly not a necessity; the urge to get them is not based in need but desire. I thought they’d look cool on me. So, perhaps vanity comes into play. Maybe I’d temporarily feel really good about myself until my hubby came home and said ” what is that you’re wearing?” and then the thrill would be gone.

So, other than that, no other thoughts of needless consumerism crossed my mind. I’m still resolved.

Day 6: Keep It Simple

Day 6: Keep It Simple

Okay. It’s day 6 and I am just starting to catch the faintest whiff of panic in the back of my mind.

It’s Friday, and so far we’ve kept it simple. The best way I’ve found in the past to avoid spending is to stay busy and keep my distance. So, it was to the park we went. I sense a lot of parks in our future. AND we brought our new sand toys.20160411_112205.jpg This was a purchase made, spur of the moment, only last week. It seemed necessary at the time, and “it was only $10”. So it needs to be USED. I got out the sharpie, wrote our initials on all the pieces, and we laid it out there for all the kids to use. God knows we’ve relied on the amazing mommies who frequent the parks for their sand toys many a time, so it was our turn to provide. My kiddo played with other kids’ toys still…begging the question, was this really a “necessary” item? Time will tell. At least they were enjoyed by all (and I know this because we are already missing one item from the bucket- se la vie!)20160415_115633.jpg

It’s Friday. I mentioned that already. But there is something about Friday that starts me getting excited. Maybe the knowledge that my hubby will be home for two whole days to help out with the kids is what that is. But there is also this ingrained emotion around Friday…and its that emotion that makes me want to celebrate…with food. Food that we get at a restaurant. Somehow, I feel like I made it all the way through the week, now I deserve a break. But this kind of “treat” while sounding very reasonable, can get out of hand. Because, truth be told, on Saturday I realize that I really didn’t plan my grocery shopping very well and don’t have anything to cook, so let’s eat out. And then on Sunday I am jonesing for a really hearty breakfast that only one of the many diners in town can provide ( breakfast is my favourite meal, by far). “Treats” as we call it are not like the ones I had as a kid. When I was growing up we ate out extremely rarely. When we did, it was an event, it was notable, it was exciting. My generation now takes eating-out for granted. And it shows in the ding to our wallets.

Now, the thing that has me silently panicking is: am I no longer allowed a break now and then? Can I not eat out for an entire year? I need to run this by the hubs for sure. Because, it’s been a feast up until now, but if I go straight to famine mode, I think this whole challenge might fall down around me in ruins.

So, I also ask you, my community. Can eating out on the rare occasion be a necessity? Should I cut it out completely, or should I have, say, a budget for occasional outings to a restaurant?

Day 5: Free Stuff

Day 5: Free Stuff

Okay. So here’s something that has just come up for me. Free stuff.

Free doesn’t mean necessary. In fact, free can easily become the outlet for my ban on spending.

What’s wrong with that you ask. Well, nothing, if what I am trying to achieve is a shrunken budget. However, my challenge is motivated by the need to self examine and discover why I have the impulse to acquire things in my life. I don’t want to pass this behaviour to my kids. Think about it as the ultimate “I’m well-adjusted” training.

The other day, at the library, the librarian at story time told us about an event coming up where at the end they will give away free books. We had plans to go to the same performance only at a different library on a  different day. But, the mere mention of free books got me thinking with the mental gymnastics only a mother really can perform, how I might wrangle my kids all the way back to this library during their nap, no less, in order to get the advantage of free books.

Really?

Have you seen my kids’ shelves? (I KonMari-ed my own shelves, so they look pretty good).

 

Today we stayed home. We usually have something on the roster of things to do, but I decided to stay home, watch the rain outside, play with the kids and practice my ukulele. I’m truly having a lot of fun with it. And I’m getting support: I think my dad likes the idea of me doing something musical again, and my Uncle Scott went so far as to send me a bunch of ukulele music and instruction manuals via email. I feel the love.

Today is also the day I reached out a bit more via Facebook to ask for support on this venture from friends and family. It’s neat to hear that some folks have either done something similar in the past, or have at least considered the problem and can empathize with me on this.

I got some excellent advice from a former colleague about how to track down free activities and also to consider various on-line groups for swapping kids’ gear. That will be helpful and necessary!

Also a friend of mine sent me a link to this amazing  article which I think fits my challenge perfectly and will help me discern necessary from unnecessary. I was having a hard time trying to figure out where to draw the line, and asking, “is this love” seems right on point. (Although, I imagine asking this question in front of the hubs might draw critical looks from him…so I might keep this one as an internal question. Lol)

And now I have this song running through my head.