Simplicity & Accepting Setbacks

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We’ve spent much of the weekend making crafts and reading Christmas stories. It’s an easy thing to do when Mama is siiiick and is counting the hours until the Dr opens (always a sure sign as I generally avoid the Dr (for myself) like the plague!). I’m trying loads of natural remedies, but I’m pretty sure it’s a chest infection and ear infections, hoping some antibiotics and things will be looking up soon. Also desperately hoping wee girl doesn’t get it. She slept for 12 hours last night and woke up dizzy…not great signs! And during out planned venture downtown today within an hour we both needed to come home…more not great signs!

Yesterday I was able to list all the items for selling, as per my goal for the week. I ended up listing 13 things and most have sold. While they are $2.50 – $8 each, that works out to just over $50 which is quite a hefty sum for us! I’ve not done anything about my violin. I think I lost my confidence about making it a money making venture when I offered teaching to someone who advertised and they went with someone else. Granted the other person was a real teacher! :) I’m wondering if I could do “try it out” lessons, much cheaper than a certified teacher, but ideal for parents who don’t want to spend until their children are sure they want to pursue it, or kids in a school orchestra who just want some extra support. Maybe 30 minute lesson for $15 a week or something. I think that may be a goal for January. Thanks to everyone who weighed in on that debate.

I felt a bit like a complete frugal failure yesterday. I realized a few too many needs in one day: firstly, we’re in “need” of a tree (!) and secondly I need snow tires for the car. We had a few near misses last year with driving for wee boy and the particular roads we have to use are notoriously bad, so much so that we were emergency rescued last year. Ahem! The cheapest deal I could find for the vehicle works out to about $1100 with tax (no one else who car shares needs winter tires, so this is my need alone). And then I remembered we are still without an oven (we’re “borrowing” (aka popping into someone else’s) 2 nights a week but using the free microwave wee girl’s best friend’s family gave us (I’m no fan of microwaves but boy am I thankful)), toaster and stove top. My mum was at Sears the other day and had a look at a replacement for me, and because it is an awkward size/space, the cheapest replacement was over $1200 plus tax. Now all tolled that is a massive, massive sum for us (approx. $2500 in total for tires, oven, tree, tax etc.). It would take months and months and months (if not a year+) of savings to get there and that’s if nothing else went “wrong”. In addition, I also desperately need winter boots as I’m quite sick of having wet feet. I trolled the second hand shops to no avail. Yikes! I had a few moments of feeling a tad sorry for ourselves when goodness really hit me. Firstly wee girl told me the best thing about Christmas is being with your family, that was the encouragement I needed to just be in the moment and not get my head stuck in a place of worry. Next some blog readers left encouraging comments and a few put donations in my account, and while there’s still $2300 or so to come up with, the kindness, grace and generosity people show us, just makes me feel so very loved, not alone and thankful. Thank you. And really, what I’ve learned is that you have to stick to the plan, be flexible and accept what finds you, and just keep on going!

So I no longer feel like a frugal failure, having unexpected needs arise are just part of life. The reality is we’re doing well, there’s important goals in place, I’m sticking to a very tight food/grocery/pet budget, I’m finding it easier and easier to go without wants, I’m discovering there are good frugal skills I already have, I’m saving everywhere I can, and the “master plan“, when realized, will help so much in being better equipped to deal with life’s unexpected bumps and turns.

We’re in a good place and I hope you are too! xo

 

Our Frugal Christmas – Gifts and Cards From The Children

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Arts and crafts are a great tool in our family to relieve stress and help the children meet some of their occupational therapy goals. Three years ago when they arrived wee girl could barely hold a pencil and wee boy couldn’t, neither could use scissors, or squeeze a tube of glue. While I wouldn’t say wee boy loved crafts, I saw a light in wee girl’s eyes and that made me know we were onto something. She has turned into an incredible artist, and hopes to go to an art high school when the time comes. Her after school program (2 days/week) this year was an art based, and some of her art work blows people away. In fact she’d like to sell some of her work to try to afford an art camp this summer, so I’m currently researching how to make prints from her most favourite pieces. And wee boy, well as his fine motor skills and coordination improved he too began to find it enjoyable. What I’ve learned is that he needs the base done for him and he can fill in the rest so that it isn’t so overwhelming for him. (He also needs soapy water to clean his hands as he goes, any messy/sticky/wet substance on his hands sends him into a spin!) As an example, with the skeleton above I drew the outline of the bones and he chalked in the rest. The gluing on the vases he did himself. Seeing his progression helped me plan some crafts for the holidays that he to could be involved in. And we now have a plan:

Cards – I had the children’s photos taken wearing santa hats at a local grocery store. We ordered the 3 sheet package ($10) and they’ll make cards drawing Christmas trees, snowmen and wreaths, with a photo front and centre. We have enough to make 20 cards. The total cost is about $15 which includes the photos, card stock and stickers. We’ll use pencil crayons we have on hand. Total cost per card $0.75 each. Target completion date is November 30.

Ornaments – I found a local pottery painting store that has a Christmas special. Generally I find such stores very over priced and way too much for us, however with a $15 special per child which includes painting 5 ornaments and the “studio” time, I think, as I will be at my new job, we should just about manage it! At a total cost of $30 for 10 ornaments that works out to $3 per gift. Target completion date is December 14.

Painting – As wee girl attends an after school program I’ve encouraged her to make use of the time to make Christmas presents. She has painted a lovely creation for my mum. As this was done as part of her program it was free. She likely has time to finish one more piece. Target completion date is December 18th.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread and Truffles – These recipes are our family speciality and the children will make them for our neighbours, friends, my co-workers and local store owners who are very good to us! Total cost per loaf is $2.50 and about $0.15 per truffle. Target completion date is December 23.

Lip Balm – Most years we make some lip balm. I use a very simple frugal recipe and this year only need bees wax. I hope to spend no more than $15 and make 10 containers. Target completion date is December 21. I can share the recipe in the follow up post if you’re interested.

At some point soon I’ll share the gifts I have for the children and some other frugal simple handmade crafts we’ll be doing!