Six Cents

When it comes to money, I’m the “free spirit,” while Jared is the “nerd.” He’s really excited about crunching numbers and getting into “beans and rice,” but it’s tough for me to keep momentum in my enthusiasm. But then there are moments when pinching pennies totally makes sense to me and I remember that we are doing this for a reason and that we have a common goal in mind.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. I bought milk and produce over the weekend, and the freezer is stuffed with meat and freezer meals, so we didn’t need much, but I wanted to take advantage of a few coupon deals and scope out the dairy markdowns.

My total after coupons was $0.06. (For those wondering exactly HOW I paid only a nickel and a penny for all those groceries, the yogurt and creamer were free and the detergent was $.99 after coupons. The eggs, ham, and soda were all on sale prices, but I “paid” for them with gift cards I earned last week from the General Mills mega sale–buy 4 products, earn a $5 gift card. I stocked up on lots of cereal and granola bars for less than $1 a box after the sale and coupons, and then earned multiple gift cards to pay for this week’s groceries.)

And I left on HUGE high that made me want to stay focused on our financial goals.

Priceless Mail

My grandma seems to be on every possible charity mailing list and so she’s always getting “free gifts” thanking her–or encouraging her to donate. Being resourceful, she’s always saved the goodies (stickers, address labels, etc.), and as far as I can think back I’ve loved opening the mailbox to find a letter or package from her with a little surprise lovingly tucked inside.

Even though she is much older and has trouble getting to the post office on her own these days, my grandma continues the tradition of stuffing envelopes with junk-mail treasures now for my kids and they look forward to getting letters from her as much as I did. The “free gifts” become a great source of “free entertainment” for them and they have the best time covering scratch papers with stickies, making pictures, and sometimes even cards to mail back to great-grandma!

Not only is it fun for them to get mail, it’s been fun for me to share the tradition and a bit of my childhood memories with them. Sharing the memorable experience, these junk-filled packages have become more than free gifts to us–they are priceless.

This time, as I was helping the kids open their latest mailbox goodie, there was a surprise for me too–a small slip of yellow paper tucked within. Assuming it was a letter from my grandma, there were indescribable feelings as I realized it was a handwritten note from my now-passed grandpa–a note grandma found as she’s been sorting through his earthly belongings. On the slip of yellow-lined paper, neatly written almost 30 years ago, was a blessing grandpa gave me as a newborn baby. The notepaper is worn on the creases, the pencil marks are fading, but the writing–his handwriting–is there, legible, and from him to me.

Reading the note, I can imagine my grandpa sitting at his desk, a small space cleared of the cuckoo clock parts he’s been assembling, as he ponders a new life–my new life–and what blessings he will bestow. Grandpa was a man of few words, but when he spoke, you listened, and so although the note is short and to the point, I listen and can feel his love for me.

Yes, this time, more than ever, my grandma’s junk-filled mail was truly priceless.

Yes Day

One of our favorite books lately is Yes Day, a story about one day of the year in which all of the main character’s requests are granted. Pizza for breakfast? Yes. Staying up late? Yes. Picking the cereal at the grocery store? Yes.

I believe saying “no” is definitely part of healthy parenting, and while my kids may not like it, I have the greater perspective to know established boundaries and reasonable nos are best for them, and best for our family.

Donuts for breakfast? No, that’s not a healthy choice.

Stay up late? No, your body is growing and you need more rest.

Dump every toy we own? I don’t think so! You need clean up as you go.

At the same time, I think there are way too many times I say “no” just because I’m not in the mood, it’s too messy, I’m tired, or busy.

My kids have been asking to have a “yes day” of their own lately, and so I thought spring break would be a good time to grant some wishes. The night before we made a list of everything they hoped to do and they certainly had a lot of requests! I set some boundaries though, and explained that while I was going to do the best I could to say “yes” to the things on their list, it was mommy’s “yes day” too, and so they needed to say “yes” to the things I asked of them as well. The day surprisingly went really well, and we had a very fun, very full day with few tantrums–a huge accomplishment for me with three children under age five.

Just a few highlights from our Yes Day:

Pizza and Popsicles for breakfast? Yes

Help mommy unload the dishwasher? Yes

Blow bubbles? Yes

Watch a movie? Yes

Go to Target and choose a new toy? Yes (with a $ limit)

Go to the fabric store with mommy (and not whine about it)? Yes (well, almost . . .)

Go to the park? Yes

Cooperate while mommy takes pictures? Yes

Play on the computer? Yes

Have a sword fight? Yes

Get Happy Meals? Yes (a BIG deal since we NEVER do this!!)

Go out for ice cream? Yes.

Sometimes I feel like the bad guy because I’m with them all day, enforcing rules, and then daddy comes home and saves the day with tickles and wrestles and romps. So it was good for me to have a day where I could be silly, and spoil a bit, and show them mommies can be fun too.

In fact I loved our day so much we may just make Yes Day an annual spring break tradition!

What about you? Are you a “yes” mom or a “no” mom? Is having a Yes Day something you’d like to try?

My To-Do List

Between the three little ones, all day I hear some version of,

“Mommy, will you. . .”

While I say my family is my “top priority,” all too often it’s easy for me to get caught up with my “to-do” list:  finish my e-mail/blog post, fold the laundry, wash the dishes, clip coupons, make dinner, work on my designs, return phone calls, plan my church lesson, etc. And then my kids get answers like. . .

I’ve been really bad about letting my list busy my day, and then missing the joy of my kids’ creativity and innocence. And I don’t want to be that kind of mom. Not that I’m necessarily the BEST mom, but since I am their mom, I want to be the best I can be and give them my presence rather than just presents. It’s part of my goal to “prosper” this year. Because I don’t want them to remember me as always being too busy.

A wise friend recently reminded me that there will be a day when they won’t want to play with me anymore and that they’ll be too old to think snuggling on the couch and watching cartoons is fun. And that I will miss this.

And really, who are we kidding? My “to-do” list is always LONG and rarely gets checked off. And there is always more work to do. It’s a hard lesson I’m learning, but I’m trying to be better at picking my battles, saying Y-E-S more than N-O, and showing  my family that they really are my priorities. I want to be better about adding THEM to my to-do list. More one-on-one time, more snuggles, more silly mommy.

Have you seen the book “Yes Day?” It’s one of my kiddos’ favorites. We had our own “yes day” last week during spring break. More details tomorrow! Have a happy Monday.

Friendly Faces by Jacque Larsen; He Said, She Said quote bubbles by me

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