Category Archives: Shopping

“Do You Ever Feel Tired?”

I had just scolded Little Guy for the seventh time in the last five minutes, this time for licking the almond milk on the shelf at Trader Joes, when I felt someone at my elbow. I turned around and this little old lady put her hand on my shoulder and said, “God’s blessings be upon you, dear!”

I buried my face in her shoulder and wept. Okay, actually I just bit back tears and gave her a hug. I thanked her for her kind words, they meant so much to me. She looked at my pregnant belly, then looked at my boys rolling around on the dirty tile floor like puppies and asked,

“Do you ever feel tired?”

At this, I burst into laughter. Like, insane woman, crazy eyed, hysterical, howling laughter. It was either that or cry. Do I ever feel tired? The night before, I got up no less than 4 times to pee, and each time I came back to bed my dog had migrated from the foot of the bed into the warm space I vacated. She growls at me when I try to move her and turns into dead weight so that by the time I have reclaimed my sleeping space I’m wide awake and so is the karate kid that resides in my uterus. I don’t sleep much.

Do I ever feel tired? That morning when my boys were praying before we started our school lesson (yes, June is almost over and we’re still doing school. Shhhh, don’t tell them, they don’t realize we should have stopped!) I almost fell asleep in the 30 seconds I had my eyes shut.

Do I ever feel tired? I live on the third floor of an old building and the hardest part of my day is climbing the stairs up to our apartment. Halfway up I have to stop and assess whether the contractions I’m besieged with are the real thing or not, because if it’s go-time there’s no way in heck I’m doing that last flight to just turn around and head back down to the hospital.

Do I ever feel tired? Through my laughter I replied, “Every #*@%  day!”

Okay not really. This was a sweet old granny. “Pretty often,” is what I actually said.

I don’t remember much of the exchange after that, but when I left the store I felt so much better than when I came in. God keeps sending the right people at the right time into my life to encourage me. Throughout the last couple months (this pregnancy has been challenging, it’s been rough) I have lost track of the number of people who have stopped me at the park, grocery store, parking lot, library, everywhere to compliment my children, or tell me how amazing I look, or just say, “You are doing a great work!”

I’m trying to become that kind of person. If I’m thinking something encouraging, I pray that God would give me the boldness to say it. To the mom struggling with the screaming two year old at Target, “You are doing a great job!”

To the pregnant mom at the park struggling to keep up with her energetic kids, “You look amazing!”

Encouraging words leave a positive mark that can help erase all the negative self talk we’re capable of. Let’s make use of them.

Do you enjoy being complimented by strangers? Does it creep you out? Tell me about it.


New Year No Spend: How Did It Go?

January is over, which in itself is always something to celebrate. But this year, the beginning of February brought an end to our New Year No Spend month. So how was it?

Mostly a failure. Or maybe not. I don’t know. Read about our halfway point here, if you haven’t already. We had so many things at the beginning of the month that we knew we’d have to pay for: birthday gifts, baby shower stuff, medical bills; and then things that popped up within the month: dinners with friends, births of babies, laundry; I think we finished the month spending about as much as we would have if we weren’t doing a no spend month. But it was good, and here’s 3 things I learned about myself and my family through this month.

1. I will always choose my community over my wallet (within our budget). When my brother invited us over for brunch and asked us to bring something specific we obviously went to the store and bought OJ and bacon. When a friend had a birthday I bought her a gift. When the ladies in my church group all met for coffee early one morning I went and bought coffee (and a gluten-free donut!). Now, I realize the point of the month was to compromise and either make something I already have, or do withou, and I did that a lot with other things. But I never wanted to turn down a chance to connect with people I love because of the principle of not spending.

2. I self-medicate with comfort food. Yikes. This was not so much fun to realize. There were a few days in January where my depression felt like a weighted jacket and my first thought was always ice cream. Or chocolate. Or baked goods. I thought if I could just curl up under a blanket on the couch and eat what I craved I would be fine. This month forced me to realize that eating those “comforting” foods didn’t so much solve anything as they did distract me. I also realized how often I turn to food instead of healthier pursuits when I’m feeling down.

3. I actually rock at this whole budget thing. Last year I set up some pretty elaborate Excel spreadsheets to track our budget. I know where every penny is going every month and can see exactly what we’re buying. Tim and I talked about doing the envelope system of budgeting, but since we both hate using cash, and enjoy the cashback benefits of using Discover, we decided this was better for our family. Instead of envelopes we have Excel columns, and the bottom line lets us know when we’re out of cash for that area. All this has made our spending intentional, and the no spend month helped us be even more intentional about where our money was going. We avoided all impulse buys in January, which was great, and I think we can keep that going since we track it so closely.

Will we do another no spend month? Probably. But with a different goal. I like the idea better of picking one or two things to not spend on. Like no eating out, or no Target trips, or no coffee dates. It’s good to discipline ourselves in that way, and we can learn a lot by being intentional about what we spend or don’t spend.

Have you ever done a no spend month? Will you ever? Do you struggle with emotional spending?

Happy February!

New Year No Spend

Happy New Year, friends!

I don’t know about you, but when January comes and the craziness of Christmas finally ceases (I’m not a huge fan) I breathe a sigh of relief. Time to relax. Also time to start over. New year, new habits, new growth. What are you doing for yourself or your family in the new year?

I try to pick a few things to work on in the new year for myself or our family, and start small. This avoids the resolution meltdown in February after pledging to go to the gym every morning at 6 or never eat proccessed sugar again, or other unrealistic goals.

One challenge I am taking on for our family is a New Year No Spend Challenge. 12395181_1499274417045599_627505169_n

I’m teaming up with several other bloggers who are taking the month off from spending. This is a great opportunity to save money (especially after Christmas) and practice simplicity. I would like you to consider joining me. Emily, you may be thinking, this is crazy, the new year starts tomorrow, this is impossible to pull together by then.

I would agree with you. I have been feeling under the weather for the last month (more on that later) which is why I’m just now getting this up here. And since my husband is a school teacher, we always do things by the school calendar, which is why my no spend month doesn’t actually start until Monday, the 4th, when he goes back to school.

So, there actually is time to pull this together. Would you consider joining me?

Here are the guidelines:

  • Know your necessities. Obviously I’m going to put gas in our vehicles, pay medical expenses, and regular bills. I checked with Comcast, and they weren’t as excited as I was about just skipping my bill for January. So, pay your bills.
  • No impulse spending. This is avoided by simply avoiding shopping. I’ll explain more below about our grocery situation.
  • Absolutely no eating out, unless you have a gift card.
  • Be creative. If you run out of something, can you make it? Can you wait until the month’s over?
  • And finally, give yourself grace. If a birthday party pops up in the middle of the month, by all means, buy a gift and go! Community is more important than this challenge. Community matters.

So, how do you avoid shopping for a month? Meal plan. It’s not as hard as it sounds to plan an entire month of meals. I give each day a theme: Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, etc. So I just need to plan 4 meatless recipes, 4 mexican recipes, etc. Then make a huge shopping trip before the month starts. There are lots of great meal planning resources online. Start there if you need help.

Fresh produce is a large part of our diet, so I will be going to the grocery store every Wednesday to stock up. The trick here is to take a list and ONLY buy what’s on the list. Nothing more.

My no spend month is a pretty modified version. Not only will I be shopping for produce every week, but I’m co-hosting a baby shower in January and obviously need to spend money on that (which is a joy to do!). My girl Brittany, over at Little Mountain Momma  will be doing a stricter version, and she’s done it before and rocked it. Check out her post on how she does it.

We’ll be tracking our month on social media using the hashtag #newyearnospend if you want to join in on the fun. Let me know, would you, if you want in on this? Doing a challenge with friends makes it easier. Or do your own version of a no spend month. Maybe for you, that means avoiding the coffee shop on your way to work, or eating at home instead of eating out. The point is to take a break from what we regularly do and focus on living simply. I’m excited about it.

Check out these other bloggers too, who are teaming up with me:
Adriane over at Balance With Me
Rebekah over at My MSPI Baby
Chrissy over at Anchor My Soul
Brittany over at Little Mountain Momma

Let me know what you think, and I will let you know how the month goes.

Happy New Year!

Snapshot of My Day: The Gentlemen’s Duel

I was roaming the aisles of Hobby Lobby trying to find the rest of my family. I could hear them from all the way across the store and was getting closer. And closer. Little Guy’s giggles were getting louder and louder.

Then suddenly I turned a corner and found this:


A gentlemanly duel was taking place. At least, that’s what I deduced from the top hats. Which eventually got knocked away as the fight got more heated.


This was awesome. This is why I love my kids. They make me laugh!


Seriously, have you ever seen a cuter pair of fencers?

Fighting Back at Entitlement

This family loves this time of year. I could take it or leave it, but the rest of my household loves Christmastime. We have our traditions, our fun holiday activities, and vacation time. One of the many perks of being married to a schoolteacher (it’s not all awesome, he works loooong hours sometimes) is getting lots of holiday vacation time. We visit family and enjoy being together.

But there are some things that I just despise about November and December. And they come in the mail. I’m talking about toy catalogs. Those thick, colorful booklets filled with plastic stuff. Somehow my kids always get to them before I do and I keep hearing, “I want… I want…” In the words of Charlie Brown, “I just can’t stand it.”

Everywhere you look this time of year you see consumerism. My facebook page is filled with Black Friday this and that. It’s hard not to get caught up in it and feel like I need to buy buy buy. And can I just say how disgusted I am that the very day after, or even the night of, Thanksgiving (the day devoted to being thankful for what we have, remember?) we trample people and get in fights all over buying more stuff?

This year we are fighting back by focusing on being thankful. I don’t like what I see in myself and in my children: ungratefulness. It’s ugly. It’s selfish. And it’s ungodly. I will talk about our Christmas plan when it’s closer, but one thing we are doing is writing down what we’re thankful for.


We’re trying to remember to do this every day, or at least several times a week. You can see when we started that certain little boys were a little focused on machinery, but that’s okay. The point is to have a reminder that we have so many wonderful things in our life to thank God for. We keep the list on the wall in the kitchen, where we can see it every day and read it as it grows.


Homeschool central


Let’s start a new thing, where we’re not focused on what we want, but on what we already have. And when we’re thankful for the wonderful things God has given us, then we are free to give them away. We talk as a family about how we are not attached to anything material enough that we would not ever be able give it away. We collect relationships, not things.

I’m curious, do you have a thankfulness plan in your family? How does it work?

Snapshot of My Day: Apples, Rabbits, and Little Ears

I turned around just in time to see the avalanche of apples start. Little Guy was standing up in the shopping cart stretching waaay up to the top of the apple stand and Big Brother had climbed on top of the blocks surrounding the display.

Apparently they really wanted the apples at the very top of the pile.

“NOOO!!” I yelled as I lunged toward the tumbling fruit desperately grabbing apples left and right. I heard the sickening thwack! thwack! of apples hitting the tile floor and splitting open.

I softly swore as they rolled underneath the display stand out of reach, “Rabbit!”

Now, obviously I didn’t really say “rabbit.” But my mom reads this blog, so let’s pretend that’s what I said.

I stood up and Little Guy was looking at me with an expression on his face that you would expect to see on a child who just received a cupcake. He just learned a new word! How exciting!

“Rabbit?” He yelled. “Rabbit! Rabbit! RABBIT!!”

I have never completed my shopping so quickly.

Sam’s Club

Oh Sam’s Club. I’m so torn over you. You represent so much of what I despise. And yet, I still shop at your cavernous warehouse of goods. Groupon made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I had been longing for a way to buy bulk, but was still unsure whether I wanted in on your big business.

Walmart is on my list of top ten places I would rather visit the dentist than go to. (Note to self: that’s a post that needs to be written.)

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And yet I still find myself drawn to you. Is it the samples? Today: smoothies, taquitos, chocolate covered pretzels, apples, oranges, ham, biscuits, and pie among others. Free pie. Yes, Free Pie. (Such a good thing that it needs to be said twice and capitalized.)

Probably your biggest draw, Samuel Walton, is the chicken. Sweet, rotisserie chicken. $4.88 for a whole chicken? You must be joking! And it’s fully cooked too? Yep, no washing, fat-trimming, seasoning required. Just pick it up, take it home, and eat the whole thing while the family naps prepare it for supper with a nice salad.

And so we became a Sam’s Club family. We came home today with bulk oatmeal, pancake mix, cheese, and grapes. (Which incidentally, are the four main food groups this family consumes.) My local-shopping, small-business-loving, Walmart-loathing self died a little inside.

But where else can you buy a mattress, strobe light, shrimp, and coconut oil by the barrel all in the same place?

Do you shop at Sams?