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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Saying yes to something.....







Means saying no to something else.

I have struggled with this concept my entire life.  I mean, I get it intellectually   I understand that if I spend $5 on Item A I can't spend that same $5 on Item B, but I'll drive myself insane trying to get A for half off so I can get B a bit later.  I can definitely admit that I have a hard time with compromise and choosing the best out of many good things.

This is never more true than when it comes to my children.  I want to give them everything.  Every experience, every comfort, every need, desire or want, every new toy, every cool t-shirt, everything that pleases their heart, their mind and their soul.

Of course, I don't actually give them all these things and I'm thankful I don't have the resources to do so because I don't want to raise entitled little brats! Actually my children's reactions to all the material gifts we do give them is so precious and sweet it's addictive, which is worse than a gimme mentality in some cases.  If they were selfish about these things, and expected them it wouldn't be as fun to gift them.  But when you bring home a new t-shirt with a favorite character and they jump up and down and thank you a million times, you want to do it over and over again!  My children have very grateful personalities and it brings both Jamie and I joy to invoke that gratefulness from time to time!

One thing I've fantasized about giving them is a big, long, luxurious vacation   We actually had grand plans for this in 2013.  We were torn between three scenarios, each a week-long indulgence in something recreational.  But as we made our plans for this year there were other things we wanted to do more.  So we called a family meeting to discuss the priorities Mom and Dad have for the year and asked for feedback.  While we usually make the final decisions in all things financial we at least want our children to view the process by which decisions are made. We told them all the things we wanted to get done, especially to the property and we were surprised when they all agreed with us that our chosen improvements were more valuable than a week playing in the sand and surf.  Things like new carpeting upstairs in all the rooms, a playground and new musical instruments were a little more exiting to them than a new washing machine and my sewing machine getting serviced, but all in all we totally agreed.  We compromised and decided to take an overnight trip to Hilton Head, and purchase season passes to Six Flags over Atlanta for the whole family, making at least two overnight trips to Atlanta.  This works well with the family pets, as we will not have to board them to stay overnight somewhere.

But then, we called another family meeting on Sunday to discuss plans for 2014.  What kind of trip did we want to take?  I explained the options and told the kids I really wanted to spend a lot of time researching and planning for this, because 8K was a lot of money to just toss on a vacation that wasn't planned well.  I wanted to eek out every possible experience, from the touristy bullcrap to the hidden gems you can only find by really digging into what the area has to offer.  I said, kind of off-hand "When you're spending half the price of putting in an in-ground pool, you want to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck!" (Oh and here is where a lot of people try to convince me that a vacation can be WAY cheaper than that, and to y'all I say thank you for trying, but I've tried every possible scenario and everything including travel, food, lodging and the actual things we want to do, plus boarding our dogs and making sure everyone has the right clothing for the trip...well, it's not getting any cheaper than that. Not for a week somewhere.  Remember there are 9 people in our party everywhere we go.  McDonald's is a huge hit to our budget LOL!!)  Anyhow, they heard the words "swimming pool" and everyone was like "What??? A POOL?  We could have a POOL?" And Jamie explained that yes, if we wanted to build a pool our vacation money would go a long way towards an improvement like that and they all agreed that a vacation was a stupid alternative to a POOL!  Everyone started talking all at once and it got a little crazy, but I was overwhelmed by how quickly they dismissed the idea of a huge, long vacation   They were like "Meh...take it or leave it."  Here I was, thinking that this was a pivotal childhood experience, one they HAD to have, one that would cost us a LOT of money and they were over it before we even got it planned.  Calla said she felt like a whole week away from home would be stressful.  Kyle thought spending money on something that you couldn't phsycially see or touch was kind of a waste of money.  The middles thought about pool parties with their friends and we all talked about what kind of security system we'd need to install to keep Noah from ever being able to get into a pool area by himself.  Kyle insisted we needed fingerprint identification  and I asked the kids if anyone of them felt comfortable with Noah knowing he needed their FINGERS to get into the pool.  I asked them to think on that for a bit!  We decided a keypad lock would be our best bet for our not-yet-really-planned pool.

We also discussed the alternative to big family vacations and settled on the fact we are pleased with our current travel situation.  We have a tradition that our children go on one-on-one trips with the parent of their choice at least once, right around their 12th birthday.  It's actually ended up being more than that and it's worked out so well.  Kyle and Jamie took a big hunting trip while we were in New Mexico, staying in a gorgeous remote log cabin for a weekend.  Then they flew to Denver to see the Pittsburgh Penguins play  Denver's home hockey team.  Calla and I did a weekend in Atlanta for shopping, the aquarium and getting her ears pierced, and she also got to go with Jamie to North Carolina to see Earl Scruggs in concern (who sadly did not show)  We've had smaller outings with smaller groups of our chillins too and it always works out so much better to take only those who are interested to the activity in question.  The ones going feel special and get to do something fun and those that stay behind enjoy the quieter house (with treats.  There is always treats!)  We've decided that even if it's unorthodox to take separate trips, it's what works best for our family.  We are together ALL the time and these little trips help us reconnect with our children on an individual basis, doing something we mutually enjoy.  Yeah, it's a bit weird, but it works.  And if there's one thing we do well...

It's weird ;)

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