Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Resolution- Whats Yours?

Here I am, January 13th, and I still don't have a New Years Resolution for this year. Not a cool one, anyway.

We will continue on the path of buying used as much as possible. That was a great experience.

And of course I've got the typical: get organized, weigh less, run more, and read the Bible in a year :) Those are all great, but I really want another something unique.

Any thoughts?

Do you have any New Years Resolutions???

Leave your suggestions or resolutions in the comments. Id LOVE to hear them!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Second-Hand Christmas

Well, I promised a post on how we did Christmas on a buy-nothing-new budget. Here it is! And its only... almost three weeks after the fact? :)

To start, I must say that my love language is Gift-Giving. I best express my love for others by giving them little tokens of thoughtfulness... usually items that *click* when I see them... because of some personal joke, funny story, or its just them. Not any gift will do. It can also be a card or a note... something that says, "I was thinking of you while we were apart."  Equally, I receive love on this same level. My poor hubby.

Anyway, our resolution really put a good challenge on my gift-giving heart! But alas, the many thrift stores in our area and the craftiness of my husband made for an amazingly... second-hand Christmas.

We had decided in the past that we would give our children three gifts each: something they need, something they want, and a surprise. We want to love them with "things" but not overdo it. We also don't want to lose sight of the true purpose of Christmas... the giving. The Gift. So off I went to find gifts for my kiddos. Here's what we got.

For my 1 1/2 year-old daughter:  Amazingly enough, I found my little darling a baby doll cradle new in its box at Neighborhood Thrift. Hello??? It had never been opened! Here she is playing with it after we screwed all of the pieces together. At this very moment, around ten baby dolls are sleeping in it... at once. :) Very communal!

We also got her a little stuffed horse (compliments of her 3 year-old brother) and a nutcracker from Target. I had searched nearly every Thrift store I could find for nutcrackers and couldn't find a single one! Apparently people keep these. We went as a family and saw the Nutcracker Ballet this year... so I really wanted some token to remind them of that experience. It was only $2 and they each got one.

My three-year-old son got some clothes (hand me downs from friends) which happened to have some of his most favorite characters: Disney's Cars and a Dinosaur. He was thrilled. He also got a moose stuffed animal from a thrift store (that he had picked out), a kid's tool box (from my MOPS group), and his own nutcracker. He seemed to be the most excited of all my children for his nutcracker. In fact, it followed him around for a bit. 

My ten-year-old daughter got a nutcracker, a BUNCH of clothes (all from thrift stores, but many will new tags still on them). She was ecstatic. She also got a Book of Classics for Girls from Usborne Books and More. I bought this new at a home party from Consultant Cindy Rowland. She offered a fund-raiser party (which I hosted) to raise support for my dear friends, the Gilmores, who are moving to Haiti. They are going with Christian Friendship Ministries. So even though I bought it new, it was to help raise money for friends. Can't pass up a chance like that! My daughter also got a tea-set, new in its box, from the same thrift store mentioned above. She had attended a tea-party birthday party this year and loved it. Finding this tea set was perfect!

My eleven-year-old son also got a nutcracker, a Book of Classics for Boys (for the same fundraiser), a ton of clothes, and a Yoda, new in its box from a thrift store. It was amazing how many new things I found at thrift stores! My kids could hardly tell their gifts were "used!"

For other family members, my husband made really cool bird houses from an old fence lying in our back yard. They were AWESOME. And I don't think I took a single picture. Ill have to go find one and post its picture here. We also gave some cool goodie bags filled with ingredients to make certain meals... for example, a bag with all of the dry ingredients for chocolate chip cookies, or a soup, or hot chocolate, or cornbread... with a recipe. Its like a meal or snack in a bag. They were super fun to make and even more fun to give away!

So its possible. Aside from the $2 nutcrackers from Target (which may end up on the "consumable" list, everything was "used."  The best part was that my kids were thrilled! They loved their gifts!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Last Day or First Day?

Merry Christmas!  Or rather, Happy New Year!!!  Today marks the end (or is it just the beginning? *wink*) of our 2010 New Years Resolution. WE MADE IT!!!!

I can't believe that an entire year has passed since this crazy idea spawned in my thoughts. It has been such a cool experience!

Over our Christmas holiday we visited family in Arizona. One individual was so interested in our resolution! He couldn't figure out what we would do if we had to buy new shoes during the year! It was kind of funny... but only because it made us realize that, in some respects, social class or upbringing can really frame your opinion of this endeavor! My husband and I come from two different backgrounds in this respect... and that has always been fun and interesting. Anyway, this individual made the point that shoes are a matter of health and need to be appropriate for your foot. Thats true. But I don't generally go through more than one pair of shoes in a year! Or even a couple years! I suppose if your particular feet required specialized shoes that would be considered consumable...

A number of things struck us during this experiment, some of which I'll list here.

1. Okay, how wealthy is our country??? We have SOOOO much stuff that we have to rent mini houses to STORE all of our stuff? I don't know about your city, but we have a Derrel's mini storage on nearly every corner! There may be even more of them than Starbucks!  Anyway, not only do we have so much stuff that we have to store it.... BUT we have so much stuff that we can sell it a SECOND time! Its not enough to sell our stuff once... we sell it multiple times: yard sales, thrift stores, consignments stores.  My friends in various countries around the world would fall over with a heart attack if they knew how much stuff we have!

2. Letting God meet our needs was so cool! It was interesting to see what things He thought we needed. It was also a blessing to see Him give gifts... things that we secretly wanted... that He would provide in some form or another. It just reminded us how much He is our Father... and not just a distant, cold, unconcerned Master. Rather, He shows Himself a personable, relational, loving Dad who loves to give good things to His children. What a warm truth to rest in! Clarification: we also definitely believe God distributes money and uses that, in many respects, as a way of meeting our needs! It was just neat to see Him do it in His time and His way as opposed to us just running to walmart to meet our own needs.

3. We met so many cool people! Conversations occurred that never would have if we'd just gone our own private way. We also discovered many gems of thrift stores in town. My favorite, of course, is Neighborhood Thrift on Palm/Olive. Not only do they run a really great operation, but they seriously work to serve the community and make things available to lower income families... both through job opportunities and affordable items. LOVE the mission behind that store.

4. Our kids, each at such crucial ages, picked up such valuable insights throughout the year. We had an amazing Christmas (a future post) even though many of their gifts (the ones from us) were "second hand." (You'd be surprised at how many gifts I found for them brand new in boxes but at thrift stores! That was always exciting.

So many other things learned and experienced that we are still processing and will share as we formulate their significance in our lives.

Will we do it again this year? Yes and no. It won't be a formal "New Years Resolution" but we will definitely continue to buy as little as we can new. Why not? We gleaned such wonderful things! On the other hand, I won't feel guilty for buying something new if I just can't find it used! (Like a snow sled, which may end up being my first purchase! :) Regardless, we hope that as you've journeyed this with us, that you have been inspired in some form to consider "things" for what they are, the great wealth of our nation, and the ways that we can help to conserve and give back!