The Tightwad Gazette is one of my favorite frugal living books. Before blogs even existed, the Frugal Zealot (author Amy Dacyczyn) had a regular mail newsletter where she included frugal tips.
One of the biggest ones that has stood out to me over time has to do with luxury. I remember my brother thinking it was particularly cruel. The Frugal Zealot talked about getting ice cream for her kids. From time to time, they'd stop at McDonald's for a little ice cream cone. She saw this as an affordable splurge. And if her kids started clamoring for something fancier, like an ice cream sundae? She'd wait longer before getting cones so that they still seemed like a treat and not a given. Her main advice was to pick small luxuries and not get them so often you get used to them.
Well, this weekend reminded me of a similar situation of enjoying what is in your life rather than always wanting more. In our culture, vacations seem to be high-end things where you get to sample the fancy life. Spa treats, luxury hotel rooms, and renting fancy cars are all possible vacation options. But I am reminded that another option might be more effective.
We went to Matt's parents' house for Thanksgiving. Their guest room has a full size bed, which is smaller than our queen. We share a bathroom with more people there. It's not our space. All of these are still appreciated; we don't pay anything, get to spend time with family, and get out of the house. However, coming home is always a treat.
Now, more than I ever, I notice that. Our queen size bed is going to feel so good tonight, especially now that we have Julie and sometimes sleep with her in our bed. Being able to spread out is awesome. Nursing also made me appreciate my nice setup here at home, where I have a large headboard to lean against and a special back pillow on the bed to give me extra support.
This makes me wonder if the US way of doing vacations is smart. After a week of camping or cheap motels, it is always nice to return home (especially if I cleaned the house before I left!). Perhaps the way to manage money well and avoid keeping up with the Joneses is to participate in a little personal austerity. Used to pedicures? Lower the frequency. Not savoring the evening glass of wine? Cut that back to weekend-only wine.
What else do you do that helps you appreciate your small little luxuries in your life?
I've had the opportunity to do a good amount of reading this summer. In June, swollen feet meant I had a good excuse to sit in bed with my feet up. And, with a kindle I borrowed from my mom, I've started reading while feeding Julie. I must say, I have always resisted e-readers, but the kindle is significantly easier to handle than a traditional book while breast feeding.
Right before Julie's birth, I finally started The Hunger Games. I devoured the books and was quite close to finishing the trilogy as I went into labor. Of course, it took me several days to finish the last hundred pages. While it won't win any literary excellence prizes anytime soon, I still enjoyed the books. The story was captivating and felt fresh. I had studiously avoided anything related to The Hunger Games before I started reading (mostly out of disdain), so I was happily spoiler-free. In the end, I was quite satisfied.
Since the birth, I've read 2.5 books. Both of my completed books should have come with trigger warnings; they both involve adoption and losing children. I read the first book when Julie was just weeks old, and I sobbed through an entire chapter. The first completed book is Moloka'i, by Alan Brennert. This book starts in the late 1800's and follows the path of a young Hawaiian girl named Rachel. At the age of 7, Rachel was diagnosed with leprosy and exiled to the colony on Moloka'i. The story follows her long and eventful life and intertwines with the history of Hawai'i. I love Hawai'i, so this book was a really fun read. Rachel originally lived on Oahu, and I've been many of the places mentioned. My favorite part was coming to understand more about leprosy/Hansen's disease. I knew there were leper colonies but knew little about them prior to reading the novel. I'd say this one is a must-read.
The second book I finished was Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. This one is a dual story where we read about a contemporary young woman in foster care while also hearing the first-person narrative of an old woman who was shipped west on an orphan train during her youth. I read many orphan train novels during middle school, so I suppose I have some background here. Even though I knew about orphan trains, I still found the story compelling. Both women struggle with rejection, poor family fits, and not truly knowing who they are. They find each other due to court-ordered community service for the young woman. I did enjoy the novel, but I would mark this one an "if interested" rather than a must read. If you like historical fiction, it's worth a look. The writing is simple, but that does help the reading go quickly.
Finally, I have started The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. As a biology teacher, I should have read this ages ago. This book is why my mom loaned me her kindle. I'm approximately 30% done (I love the progress bar on the kindle!) and definitely into the story. I'm not sure what I expected, but the narrative wasn't it. Still, I am enjoying learning the backstory of Henrietta's family, her ancestry, and the prevailing conditions from the time in which she lived. I'm outraged about the lack of informed consent for medical procedures, and I'm glad cases such as hers paved the way for patient consent laws. I'll try and report more when I've finished the book.
School starts soon, and I'm sure I'll have less time for reading. Still, I love this time of nursing, snuggling, and getting in some quality books. Happy reading!
I should clarify that I'm a dorm parents, so we live in a nice apartment in the dorm. No room sharing for me these days. Well, at least no room sharing with people I'm not related to by blood or marriage.
1. No weird drops in water temperature or pressure. Perhaps the boilers can run out of water, but I've never had that problem. The water doesn't get super duper hot, but it's hot enough for me at the highest setting. Plus, no worries about scalding yourself, because the water just can't get that hot.
2. Industrial strength toilet -- we have a public restroom style toilet, thankfully with a lid. That baby never clogs. Bonus: hopefully Julie will never be scared by loud public toilets, because our toilet is that loud.
3. My friends live just down the hall. Of course, the downside is that people move to new apartments many years, so the same friends aren't always down the same hall (this also leads to the funny bit of who else has lived in your apartment, and we swap apartment tips and tricks all the times about the idiosyncracies of each place). I love being able to throw on flip flops and visit people. We also loan stuff to each other all the time. It's like being in a commune without actually having to share my living space.
4. Free rent! Do I need to say more? It is in exchange for keeping track of 115ish teenage boys, but that's not as bad as it sounds.
5. I can submit a help ticket anytime something breaks, and someone will come fix it for me. I even got someone to paint a room once, in the winter, when projects were slow.
For us, this lifestyle works well. I hope it continues to be good for our family; hard to say what changes are in store. We've had kids living here all summer, and that's gone fine. Matt even got paid to do supplemental dorm duty. I'm excited for our school-year boys, as some of them will even play with Julie or our cat. Here's to "alternative" living.
I've got some non-baby posts in the mental works, so this blog won't be all baby, all the time. I do want to share this video I filmed on Friday when Julie was 4 weeks old. We're having a lot of fun with her.
It is hard to believe that the 4th of July was four weeks ago today. The entire month of July completely slipped by in a whir of baby. When we first held her, she was this new little alien in our lives. Despite being acquainted with her for 40+ weeks on the inside, it was so different to hold Julie in my arms.
Now, we are comfortably acquainted. I almost always know what she wants (usually, to eat). She focuses well and sometimes even turns her head to look at us. Suffice to say that every day I fall more in love with our little girl.
Here are some photos from the past month. I'm doing weekly pictures, but I also try to snag shots with my nice camera from time to time. I am doing daily iphone pics, but they're not quite as nice as the ones from my dSLR. This first one is on her literal birth day; one of Julie's first pictures.
I love post office boxes. There's something fun about heading into the post office to unlock my mail from a little box. Plus, I appreciate the security of knowing my packages and letters are locked up; I've had mail stolen before, and it's not fun. I first had a PO Box when I lived in Gold Beach in the Oregon coast after college. The town was so little that every resident had a PO Box. The post office was right next to the port where I worked, so it was simple to check for mail a few times a week.
When I moved to my current location in Minnesota, I got mail at the house where I lived. But once I moved in with Matt, I didn't want to get mail at the school (we live in campus housing); I technically wasn't supposed to live here, and I thought getting mail here would be weird. I got a PO Box instead, and I was able to swing by regularly enough to check for mail on my way to or from work. I have had my box for 5 years now, and it's been great.
Now that I work at the same school, I found getting mail much more difficult this past year. I started phasing over items to our on-campus box, since the mailroom is right here. We get an email when we have a package. It's all fairly simple. But I still liked having the box, both for mail I hadn't switched over yet and for getting packages while the school was on break. but it still was a pain to get down to the post office more than once every few weeks.
Yesterday, I went and gave up my PO Box. The cost had gone up to $60ish a year, and it just wasn't worth the extra cash to me. I gathered the last of my mail and turned in my keys.
Long story short: if you still only have my PO box address, that's not good anymore. Feel free to email me if you want our physical address; that hasn't changed, and it will be good the entire time we live here. That is one big joy: apartments change regularly here on campus (sometimes called the round robin, clean cups, or the fruit basket upset), but our address never does. At least something is simple.
On the 4th of July, after a long labor, we welcomed our new arrival: a girl we named Julie!
Here's a hospital pic -- the velcro on her face is from a little face mask. She had jaundice and needed to wear the mask while getting light treatment. She is a little peanut; in all these pictures, she is wearing newborn clothes. She is just over 8 pounds now (and was just under at birth), so she is growing well.
She is absolutely adorable, and we are so in love. The last two weeks have been full of new challenges and a profoundly deep amount of love. I'm lucky that both Matt and I are off for the summer, so we've been able to adjust together. The little one sleeps enough that I'm tired but not exhausted.
We are learning new boundaries; the spur of the moment drive up to the Twin Cities (1 hourish) is not a reality for us for now. We've been twice -- once went just fine, and one time we overstayed and had a noisy trip back.
She is responsive and delightful. We read books, make faces, sing with her, and tell her all about the world. We are both absolutely enamored. I can't wait to see what the coming days hold.
Apologies for the wonky lighting; I used my phone, and I don't think it was happy about filming. I was hoping for sunshine, but it's a really rainy day here.
Feel free to ask questions about anything. I can elaborate or add pictures.
Paint colors (all from Sherwin Williams): almost every wall is Kilim Beige, which is nowhere near as yellow as it looks. It's a nice, neutral, soft beige. I think of it as milk with a little bit of coffee. The bathroom is appropriately Bath Blue, and the kitchen is Lime Granita. The back of the built-ins is Lagoon.