How To Break Up With Buying

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I’m cutting it close, I know, I’m sorry, we’ve had some stuff going on.

To catch you up on this topic though, May was amazing. Life changing and eye-opening. I stopped buying anything I didn’t need and it’s been incredible, for me and my bank account. Starting June 1st I’m challenging you to stop the consumerism. Stop giving in to the emptiness that we’ve created in buying.

Here are my suggestions to stop buying:

  1. In the last 2 days of the month buy what you want. At the end of April, I bought 3 things before I knew I couldn’t just buy: cheap mascara (awful) a book (wonderful) and a clearance shirt to wear for family photos. I kept it in my head that if there was something I really wanted, it could wait until the end of the month and if I still wanted it and could afford it then I probably won’t forget or regret it. Surprisingly there is nothing on my list at the end of this month.
  2. Buy as much of your groceries as you can online. Sams club and Family Thrift near me offer online shopping and easy pick-up. This saves overall time as well as prevents impulse buys.
  3. Rediscover what you already have. Think you need more stuff on your mantle? A new pair of shorts? Look through what you own already and find ways to repurpose it or just use it (see my conditioner issue at the bottom). A great inspiration for this is listening to Joanna Gaines in her book The Magnolia Story (the audiobook is free on many library apps).
  4. Get thrifty. Buying second-hand and used items not only makes you work a lot harder to buy but it also saves you a lot of money. A little trick I used was I would sell things I needed out of my house for garage sale money.
  5. Find hobbies. Instead of browsing through Amazon, read a book. Instead of wandering Target go for a bike ride. Do things with your time that enrich your life not empty your pockets.
  6. Go places besides stores. Museums, parks, a friends house, getting out doesn’t have to mean going to a shopping center. Explore the culture and not the aisles.
  7. Be kind to yourself. No one is disappointed in you if you end up spending money on something that you want, but practicing mindful buying, in general, will make you more aware and considerate of the purchases that you do make.

On a side note, I’ve needed hair conditioner for over a month now. I’ve used up all the old bottles in my house (good for decluttering) but I’ve also had to use some really awful stuff. I googled home-made conditioners, but somehow it doesn’t seem worth it. And, if you’re wondering if I held fast through the entire month, I’m sad to say that I did not. I bought my husband and myself a pair of nice athletic shorts, they weren’t cheap but they are very worth it, no regrets there.

Only a few days in you’ll start to notice the freedom that you gain. It’s as if you are finding out who you are again because you are no longer your possessions and shopping/buying is no longer your pastime.

Buh-Bye Buying

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Four weeks ago I was at Target perusing the aisles, as is the norm for any female over 10 when at Target. I happened upon a severely discounted Dyson cordless vacuum. Because it was 75% off and I didn’t own one like it yet, I put it in my cart. Ignoring the inner-voice reminding me that I already own two, working, Dyson vacuums, but, they had cords. This one didn’t. I called my mom for should I?/ shouldn’t I? but she didn’t answer. I went back and forth in my head and eventually put the vacuum back and bought a $9 broom.

I’ve been a long-time consumer. I like nice things and buying nice things makes me briefly happy. The problem is: having nice things doesn’t make me a nicer person. Buying new shoes doesn’t make me more fun to be around. I’ve been a happy, self-inflicted, victim of American capitalism. Having the latest and greatest does not make me a better person in any part of the spectrum and here’s the real truth– buying things (generally) does not make you happier so what do we buy the things we don’t NEED?

There are some things that I’ve bought that have made my life easier or more fun- maybe those are okay, but I have now made it to a place where buying things is second nature: She moves, she loves, she buys.

I reached the point of disgust in the last week of April and vowed that May would be the month of not buying. Starting on May 1st, I wouldn’t buy anything new that wasn’t a need. I mean nothing. If it was a desperate want I allowed myself to buy it if I could find it used, meaning thrift stores and garage sales are still fair game but only for things that are actual needs and not because it’s a good deal.

It’s been just over two weeks into the month, the halfway mark. I’ve adjusted by ordering all my groceries online to prevent impulse purchases, I have yet to step foot in Target, when I have free time I spend it on something deliberate, if I need coffee I try to wait until I get home to make my own.

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I have broken the rule twice. Both because of special occasions and with limitations.

I expected to feel restricted, instead, I feel free. Free from the pressure of society and advertising, free of the restrictions of my bank account, lesser a slave to money and what it means in our society today.

Giving up buying has shifted some things in the way I think. I’m sure I’ll elaborate as I go on but as for these two weeks, like a diet, weights have been lifted by cutting things out and it feels so good I’m not even anxious for the end. Instead, I think I’ll add another month, this time as a group.

Before the end of May, I’ll update with a more thorough list of how to avoid the spending and shopping hole. If you want to join us, you should! It’s the best kind of life-diet I’ve experienced in ages. I’d suggest you begin preparing your heart and mind now, the week before May started I did make a couple last-minute purchases in order to carry me through, and while I don’t regret them, I know they also alleviated any temptation I may have experienced in those first few days. So say goodbye to mindless shopping and buying and let’s make June a month free of consumer-void.

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

What I Wish I Knew as a First Time Mom

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I was one of the first people in my peer group to have a child, which meant that when friends became mothers, they often came to me. I found myself walking a tight-rope between too much info (intimidating them or scaring them) or too little info (not adequately preparing them as a confidant would). Handing out advice can be tricky and when you are pregnant you scour the internet for advice and ideas of what your version of motherhood might look like. There is never any pregnancy, experience or child that is the same but there are some tidbits of advice that do tend to stick true. These are the ones I’ve found that I wish I knew the first time around:

1. You will do things you promised yourself you never would, it’s fine. We all do it, and while we remember you saying “I’ll never cosleep when I have kids” we aren’t judging you when it happens because we did the exact same thing. My most memorable one was saying that I’d never wear pregnancy jeans- I LOVED my pregnancy jeans! Give me all the comfort and stretch, just not the full-panel, I don’t care what pre-mom me said, she had NO idea.
2. Get comfortable calling your pediatricians nurse or the on-call nurse. You don’t need (or want) to take your baby in for every cough or sniffle, talking to a medical professional will help calm your nerves and you can do it without putting shoes on. The sooner you get used to calling them (for anything!) the better because you’ll have YEARS of “is this an emergency?” or “how many days do they actually have to stay home from school for?” questions for them. They will give you advice, putting you at ease and keeping your co-pay in your wallet. If your concern does warrant a visit, you feel reassured knowing it’s not an overreaction.
3. Stay away from your pre-pregnancy pants for at least 6 months!!! Unless you love torture.  If they never fit again, who cares?! Even if the weight falls off like it was never there, your hips will not magically go back to what they were 9 months ago. You now have baby-carrying hips, love them, use them as a shelf to continue carrying your baby (or laundry). And if those pants never fit again, embrace it. Mom jeans are in style for a reason, be comfortable and be confident in your mom-bod. Being slender doesn’t always equal being confident but being confident can stretch out to all aspects of your life, making a happier you and baby.
4. Let go of perfection. Your house will never be perfectly clean again, your car will never be free of crumbs, your hair will never be brushed. None of us have it all together, we just don’t like admitting it to Instagram. Ask anyone. Let go of the perfectly clean counters and get down on the floor and talk and play with your baby.
5. When frustration hits remember, we’ve all been there. For me, when the point of understanding why people shake babies hit me (this sounds harsh but you will understand at some point in parenthood the utter frustration that babies create, I promise), I would return to the thought that, this too, will pass. These babies are only babies for a very brief period. I learned to embrace the period in all the mess, tears and blowouts and knew that one day I would miss how small they were and how much they needed me. And if you find yourself struggling often, get yourself a sponsor. Like in AA, BA is a rough road and we all need a cheerleader, and a coach that has been down that bumpy road before.
6. Don’t stress the breast. People FREAKED me out about breastfeeding. Everything I read online was warning me and prepping me for the big battle of the boob. When it came down to it all that pomp was for nothing and my kids ate like it was the most natural process there ever was. I get that it’s not that way for everyone, I ended up doing it because it was easy (and free). So if formula is easy for you than do it. Don’t feel guilty. Keeping baby and mom both alive, happy and fed is what matters. No one goes to kindergarten or college comparing if they had the breast or bottle.
7. You do you. Get off the internet. Figure out your groove with your baby and come back only when you need help getting them to sleep through the night. Just don’t look at me for that advice.

 

Photo by: Heritage Photography

I Don’t Like Christian Culture

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That’s me in my church-shirt. I loved it because it was purple not because it defined my reliegios beliefs and therefor who I was.

This last week I’ve had 3 people ask if I heard if so-and-so was coming to town. Each time I answered “no” and they got excited and responded that she is performing at my (small) church. Even after hearing the question for the third time my first reaction was that this was a person I was somehow supposed to be connected to, it is a small town after all, not a somewhat-known entertainer.

Here’s the thing. I don’t like Christian music. And if you get into it, I’m not a big fan of Christian culture in general.

My car presets are on NPR, alternative and rap stations. My Spotify and Apple playlists are filled with hip hop and rainy day Decembrists music. If I feel like I need to talk to God I do so in silence, not through mediocre (just my opinion) praise songs. Usually the first time I hear a contemporary christian song is in church, when the band plays it. I am not opposed to God, Jesus or scripture in music, I actually love when I hear pieces of if in contemporary music; Chance the Rapper and Sufjan Stevens are two of my favorites. The point there is just because I don’t like christian music doesn’t mean I don’t like music by christians nor does it have any real statements on my faith.

When you walk into my house, there is no visible sign of religion. No Jesus poster (Mormons know), no crucifix (Catholics know), no scripture on my walls (every woman from 25-65 knows). There is no visible sign of our beliefs, and there doesn’t need to be. The fact that we are welcoming in our home, that we show love and kindness to everyone is bigger than any vinyl lettering you slap on your wall.

Just because I don’t wear a cross on my neck or have a letter board of this weeks scripture on my walls doesn’t make my beliefs any weaker. It’s just not me. And if it’s not you either that’s great! If it is you that’s great too! (Just don’t do it to show off, because it doesn’t mean anything to anyone else but you.)

I love my God, I love my church and I love my community. Listening to Post Malone over Hillsong doesn’t change that at all.

That’s all. Nothing else to say.

Looking for Fun

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A month or so ago a friend who babysits for me was telling me how she took a kid that she babysits to gymnastics and was sitting in the bleachers listening to all the moms talk about their house renovations.

The next day I myself was surrounded by (other) moms who were talking about their house renovations.

When did we become so boring that our daily life seems to revolve around our homes? To be fair it’s where we spend most of our time and is a fair representation of ourselves (sometimes, I am not as messy as my house can be) but it is no who we are. Your American contemporary-modern home with concrete countertops and glass subway tile backsplash is gorgeous but it does not make me think any more or less of you. Same goes for your hunter orange, “hasn’t been updated since 1973 but the dishwasher works” kitchen, I think you are awesome as well. Unless your home is filled with 36 cats I will find something I admire about it, houses are cool, homes are wonderful.

In ways our millennial love for minimalism has allowed us to move our focus from simple consumerism to hyper focus on how and what to improve on the few things we want to spend money and energy on. You don’t need all the books anymore but you sure as hell need that shiplap.

My house reflects my style, my preferences, it also reflects my baking experiments and my children’s love of art on both appropriate and inappropriate canvases. My home and myself are unfinished and full of potential. My home however, is not who I am, it may define my style but it does not define ME.

Caught up in our own home renovations Chad and I looked into getting our single pane bow windows replaced in the front of our house. This is no small expense. We still have our quote hanging on the inside of the cabinet and for 2 days we were excited about this change in our house. After the install we wouldn’t be getting any noise from outside, less draft/energy loss and it would be more aesthetically pleasing. Six years from now we would put the house on the market and make some of that money back but our excitement about the windows would be long gone.

After the 2 days of excitement over new windows (this is 31 y’all) the idea of a trip/vacation crept back into my mind an after a brief discussion we had a change of heart. Instead of putting all of that money into windows we will put it towards a trip, an experience. We won’t be getting any money from a trip back as we would in selling a house with new windows but when our time on earth is up for either of us we won’t be thinking back to that time we picked out windows together.

This brings me to the big point:. houses, kids, when did life get so… not fun? It’s beautiful and there are fun parts but I find myself looking for rest or finishing chores more than fun. I’ve been so caught up in chasing my kids and attempting to get enough sleep that I forgot what the rest of life looks like. I’ve started a new chapter where life is going to revolve around fun (and Jesus) for me and my family, basing my decisions on the questions “is it fun?’ and “can I make it fun” (okay and also “is it safe” because I am a mom now).  This means choosing taking my boys swimming instead of finally finishing laundry, concerts instead of countertops and making memories over sweeping floors.

So starting (really about 2 weeks ago) now, I am in search of fun. Sometimes my kids will have to tag along with me and there will be times where they will inevitably make it not fun, the weather could turn, circumstances will destroy bridges to fun but I will pursue joy and fun and happiness. I’m done being stagnant. Though I will still lust after that mid-century modern home on Berry Pine Road. (and try to update with a pic soon).

 

Motherhood Problem #1: Sleep

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I had a friend send me a meme/message today about the “sleep when baby sleeps” saying that you get fed as a new parent. I responded with the question of “what do I do if the baby is sleeping and I want to sleep but the preschooler is still awake and crazy?” Because that was my real life situation.

Truth is sleep is the holy grail of parenting, the key to happiness and success often teeters on the scale of how rested you are. The more kids you have the more you adapt to interrupted and fewer overall hours of your eyes being closed.

Not going to lie, some days I roll my eyes at this whole scene about becoming parents and losing sleep but is it because I was lazy or I’m now just so used to it that, as long as someone isn’t sick throughout the night, I actually think that I am sleeping like a normal human being?!

And let me just warn any not-quite-parents-yet out there that motherhood does start at pregnancy because I remember losing sleep when I was pregnant with Harper and other moms telling me “oh you should sleep now while you can!” What a bunch of shit advice that was. How can anyone forget the immense uncomfortableness of a baby moving inside you, punching your cervix, kicking your ribs, spreading your hips apart mixed in there with the having to pee every 2 hours. From now on I’m just going to tell newlyweds “sleep now while you can because the from the moment you know your pregnant  you’re screwed until they all learn how to get themselves breakfast and turn on netflix themselves.” That’s real advice.

So now to my main point. Sleeping with babies. Everyone has their own journey. With baby 1 we had a crib and bassinet/pack n play combo. I was so paranoid about him breathing I couldn’t put him in another room where the crib was, he hated the bassinet so he slept next to me. Perfectly safely. But then again I never fully slept pretty sure I didn’t enter any form of REM sleep until he was 1. Baby 2, we bought a king size bed because baby 1 kept coming into our bed here and there. It worked alright but now we have 4 people in 1 bed 3 nights a week. Somehow, baby 3 happens and I’m at a loss. I felt that I couldn’t safely sleep with a baby in our bed as long as there was the potential for the other 2 to come in (usually they would sneak in). Also, I was far more sleep deprived now as a mother of 2 already that I didn’t feel my state of sleep was as reliable as it was when 1 was born- basically, I could no longer trust myself to sleep lightly around a newborn.

I started researching (shopping) around for ideas on how to keep this new baby safe and I found the Halo bassinest. Once I found it I felt it was the answers to my prayers from the beginning because it was easy to get baby in and out of, literally could by baby right next to me without them being in the bed and best of all it swiveled so I could get up in the night without scooting down to the edge of my bed. Plus it had a sweet nightlight and vibration and other stuff that I didn’t really use. Overall best baby sleeper ever, I slept thoroughly and safely next to Iver every night, even when he was waking up every 2 hours straight for 3 weeks….we used this until he could sit up on his own, around 5-6 months.

Second purchase I made towards sleep was the dockatot. Originally I made fun of the “baby raft” but in the end it was my best friend and the hardest baby item I’ve ever had to say goodbye to. I’d put Iver in the dockatot and he would put himself to sleep. That baby pillow hugged them just right so they felt safe and secure and I felt safe and secure with him in it because I knew it was snug and it was breathable. Add in the fact that it was his bed when we traveled and it was well worth it’s price tag. I used it all the way until he was 10 months old.

Third thing toward a decent night sleep with baby 3 doesn’t work with all babies but a good swaddle. I was grateful that a friend lent me her Ollie wrap, it was the best swaddle I had ever used because you could really wrap those suckers (babies) in there and it had enough give that they could squirm but it never un-hugged them. Iver was golden in it. We used it until he grew out of it and could wiggle out, probably at around 4 months, which is a pretty long time in the swaddling world.

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the holy trinity of sleeping babies

Ollie wrap+dockatot+bassinest= at least 4 hours of sleep at one time even with a colicky baby that you haven’t figured out is actually dairy sensitive yet.

And now that I no longer have any of these but don’t have to worry as much about anyone rolling onto my baby? I was planning on buying another dockatot (there’s a bigger one) but couldn’t swallow the price on it ($260) so I did a little more research and ended up buying Iver  a sheepskin to sleep on. It is amazing, transfers (what we parents call moving a sleeping baby out of our arms) onto it are very easy and he stays asleep. Though it doesn’t snuggle him as well as the dockatot did it is SO much cheaper and now everyone in my family wants their own because they are so cuddly and comfortable to sit, stand and sleep on.

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dreaming of sheep(skin)

On one final note. I heard the statistic yesterday that the quality and amount of sleep only lessens for women and not for men.  Haven’t these babies heard of feminism?! (as my husband sleeps on the couch just fine right now…. but surrounded by 2 out of 3 children).

Boy Clothes

I love dressing my little boys and I get compliments on their clothes fairly often so I thought I’d share where I get most of their stuff. Boys are harder to shop for because there is so much less to chose from but that just makes the challenge more rewarding.  All of my kid’s clothes are either extremely cheap (under $10)or a tad pricey (over $30), very little in between because I don’t like to settle. I made two lists, the inexpensive and the not.

Favorite bargain brands:

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My favorite budget brands:

Carhartt: The cutest hats and coats. Carhartt is quality, timeless, functional and well priced.

Sunglasses: I buy them cheap whenever I come across them, Old Navy, Target, wherever. I don’t buy the silly looking plastic ones because they look too kiddy but a cute pair of $5 glasses make a 3-year-old look surprisingly sharp.

Zara: LOVE Zara for kids. They have great prices, cute clothes and free shipping. I refer to Zara as the Euro gap. There is also great resale in their clothes. Downloading their app can be straight dangerous.

Carters: I only buy solid color basics from Carters but they are fantastic in sizing and wear. It’s a given that I have the solid layette set in heavy rotation. The best thing about Carters is that nothing is ever full price, there’s always some % off.

Nordstrom (Rack): The brand pictured is Peek, which I adore for my boys, usually purchased at the Rack but great deals and sales can be found in Nordstrom as well.

Gap: First point is that you will find no better denim for little boys. The quality and the fit are perfect and little boys are hard on their jeans. Second point is if you think gap is pricey then you’re doing it wrong. Gap has amazing sales, especially on their clearance items, last week I bought chinos for Harper for $4, that’s cheaper than Target with a much better quality.

Target: Ah the Mecca. Target is great, Target clearance is better. If something is super cute, great, but if it’s cute and 50% off, greater. The new line Cat and Jack is cute, sometimes, but I’ll warn you it pills easily and the fit is just a little off.

 

Favorite luxury brands:

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Fin and Vince: Cute clothes with sweet little sayings usually. I love buying t-shirts (not white ones) that layer and go well with different items. Also t-shirts are wearable much longer than sized often and if there’s any leak or blowout you usually don’t have to change the shirt, just the pants, making shirts even better than layettes.

Rylee and Cru: Very cute boy clothes often with a more unique cuts and prints. Great wash and wear quality. They definitely fit longer babies better.

Mabo: Made in the US, this is one of my favorite brands. I adore their stuff for tiny babes and the simplicity of their design as kids grow older. Beautiful natural fabrics and designs that are both old-fashioned and modern.

Freshly Picked: Not going to lie, I feel like moccs are on their way out. While the style isn’t the latest, the design and functionality are on point. I splurged on my first pair with Willem and loved them as they really let him learn to walk with their soft soles, kept his feet warm through wind, snow and freezing temps and they stayed on his feet! They also held up really well as he walked on concrete, the leather is very soft but thick. Iver has kicked his off a couple times but they stay better than any other sock or shoe out there. Worth the money to buy at least one pair while baby is learning to walk. These also have a great resale and come in a verity of colors both solids and prints.

Mini Rodini: Love their clothes but they are sometimes a little too loud for me. Most of their prints are animal based so we’ve only splurged on the pajamas and hats.

Childhoods: Cutest little sweats/play clothes ever. Soft and more wearable with every wash.

Bobo Choses: The most expensive but the nicest clothes my kids have ever had. They are made for my kids because the sleeves are long, the bodies are long and the cotton is incredible. I especially love finding some of their vintage items, they wear well and really hold their value.

 

Of course I buy a lot of these past season, on sale or even second-hand. The great thing about buying some of these brands is supporting smaller businesses (including boutiques) putting your kids in softer, less treated clothing and if by some miracle your kid doesn’t ruin it you can often find buyers on Facebook for your used kids clothes, even at a profit to you.

The last tip I can offer is stay clear of any characters or prints. Sure my kids have some paw patrol shirts but only 1 or 2 at a time in the size they are in but over all prints are too busy. Also I encourage them to pick out their own clothes, no use spending money on things they don’t want to wear.