Friday, December 01, 2006

Grateful Friday

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We went on a road trip to Portland for Thanksgiving and then had Dave's parents visiting with us the week after that. They left yesterday, and we already miss them terribly. I've been blog reading, but not commenting, but hope to get caught up on that.

It's been so long since I've posted that I don't even know where to start. I think I'll just write what's been on my mind lately. Non-crafty content coming up, so if you're not interested, that's ok. I won't mind if you click away now.

This was the year we were going to indulge in a couple of things. First, we decided to get new sofas. The old ones were 9 + years old and we bought them before we had kids, so we foolishly chose white, and they just got uglier and rattier as the years went on and I just couldn't put up with them anymore. So, yay! New sofas. The second thing is that we decided to have the exterior of our house painted. It badly needed it. Our house (and original paint job) is 20 years old, and here in the PNW, where it's damp and moist, that's already past the limit, I think. So we had that taken care of too--early last month. Things started snowballing from there...

1. We had our ducts cleaned. Figured they were due, since we moved in to this house over 4 years ago, and who knows when that was last done. The duct guy had to go into the crawl space to reconnect a duct. He noticed some poopies.

2. We had to call an exterminator who said we had rats. He set up traps (no rats were found--thank goodness), but he went up to the attic and noticed some sunlight streaming in.

3. We called the roof guy to come out and do a patch job. He said to keep a close eye on things, and that we could maybe hold out for another year or two. In the meantime the painters stepped all over the roof (it's cedar shake and doesn't respond well to being stepped on), and now it turns out our roof can't wait, it needs to be taken care of ASAP. So that's on for next week...

4. In the meantime, our van broke down. The same stinkin' van that was in the shop the week before my due date. It's broken down pretty consistently--let's see. Mikey's 5 months old now. The van's been in the shop 3 times since then. Yeeesh. It's our only vehicle that can take all of us (Dave drives a Ford Ranger). So it stinks being stranded. We wanted to drive the old van until it died (have you ever read The Millionaire Next Door? We aren't millionaires, but the whole simple-living and the "living beneath your means" aspect of the book really appeals...more on that some other time.) So we bought a van last week, a gently used but reliable one. Sigh.

5. By the way, did I mention our dishwasher broke down a couple of months ago and needed to be replaced?

6. OK, here's the kicker. After the van, we were in a weird way feeling relieved. After all, we didn't have anything left that could go wrong. Right? Yeah. 2 days after the van, Dave came downstairs and tried to boot up the computer and the dang thing wouldn't start. So merry early Christmas to me. I'm right now typing on my new laptop.

Why after all this am I grateful on this Friday? I'm certainly not glad all of this happened. I'd much rather have the money in the bank than all the new "stuff." But I do recognize that for some people any one of these things could have been a huge setback--possibly affecting their livelihood, or ability to stay at home with the kids, or possibly even pushing them into financial ruin. We are and pretty much always have been scrimpers and savers. And now the scrimping and saving has paid off when we needed it to. I'm the type of person who balks at spending $9 for a yard of fabric and I hardly ever go to Joann's without my 40% off coupon. I sometimes feel like we're grown ups now and so maybe we should replace our IKEA table and chairs with a set from Pottery Barn. But you know what? I'm so over that. At least this month I am. From here on out, I'm going to stifle those jealous feelings I get when I go visit people who have it better than I do...great furniture, huge house, slab granite countertops...enough! I'm SO extremely grateful that when all these things happened and needed to be addressed we were able to address them. Being grown up isn't all about buying the good stuff. It's about being able to take care of yourself.

I'm grateful for parents (on both sides) who weren't ashamed to buy store-brand, who taught us the value of a dollar and the value of hard work. And I hope that we can pass that on to our kids as well. And yes, we're approaching the Christmas season when money seems to flow like a river, right out of people's wallets. Not much is left in our wallet this Christmas season. But who really cares? That's not what Christmas is about anyway.

16 comments:

joyce said...

oh my joanna! -- so many things have happened but it's good that you were able to fix them...
with all the gift-giving sometimes the true meaning of xmas is lost. i'm getting so tired of all the holiday parties this year that i would just like to sit home and just relax with the family.

Ali said...

Amen to all that - you're a wise woman.

autum said...

What a great post and a great outlook.

Angelika said...

You can really say when it rains it pours. I guess it can only get better from here on. And I totally agree on that christmas thing. It's not the number of gifts, it's what they mean and who gave them to you and why, not how much the price tag read, that might accidentally still be attached (trust me, I had this happen to me).

Katie said...

You're very smart. I have the same outlook, although some days I'm stronger with it than others. It's difficult, in this day of overindulgence, to avoid credit card debt and living beyond our means. But it makes life easier when you aren't lying in bed at night fretting about how to pay the bills.

We got a new roof last month and our washing machine and dishwasher are "on the fritz", as they say. I hate it when stuff seems to all die at the same time.

capello said...

i often get into the mindset of i want this and i want that and i want this furniture and this thingamagger and you are *so right*.

lera said...

oh my!!!! i kept gasping as i read your post. glad you are in good spirits about everything. (i think i'd be crying my eyes out!)

Cathy said...

Oh, I have had seasons like yours! You have a great attitude about it and you are right, being grown up definitely means being able to take care of yourself and yours, not about all the goodies and toys you can get your hands on. I wish more people could figure this out.

Kate said...

I think they are fantastic things to be grateful for. Being grown up is definitely being able to take care of yourself and your family - preferably without a lot of stress.
I love IKEA - that is where our 'good furntiture' is from. I hope all the bad luck is behind you and enjoy the Christmas season.

amandajean said...

"Good for you!" is what I was thinking while I was reading the end of your post. You sure have a GREAT attitude after all of that! You obviously have had a lot to deal with, but I like your approach. It's a tough trap to try to keep up with the neighbors or whoever. Contentment is something that I struggle with as well, but it sure does pay off when things come up unexpectedly. Thanks for your post-a great reminder to help me keep my priorities in order!

Melissa said...

I completely understand your feelings because we went through a time when one appliance was broken, we get it fixed or replaced than another large item broke down (this happened for 3 months straight). Glad to hear you got a newer van so you don't need to worry about breaking down with the kids in tow.

Our Christmas season is going to be light once again. I've made quite a few of the gifts for other family members and my kids get 3 gifts because that's what Jesus got when he was born (which is why we celebrate Christmas we tell them). I typically buy one outfit, one educational toy (this costs the most) and I make them a pillowcase each year and include a book or coloring book.

lamplight designs said...

You've got it exactly right! How much fun can it be to be up to your eyeballs in debt? It's a vicious circle. My husband and I are two of the happiest people I know because we by-passed all that 'keep up with the Joneses' stuff and because we know we have a home in heaven! Does anything else matter as much?

keri said...

Oh my, when it rains it pours! I can't imagine all those things going wrong at once, what a cycle!

How wonderful for you and your family that you are able to weather storms like these because you are prepared. I also am a saver and never go to Joann's or AC Moore without my coupon ;)

Lindsey said...

What a grateful heart you have indeed JoJo ... and a new sofa to snuggle up on in front of the christmas fire!

kimberly said...

What a wonderful post!! You really are a very wise woman, I just wish others could take a lesson from you. I myself am also very cheap and try to save where I can. We live in a tiny apartment but we don't want to move because we can walk to get to the many stores that are all around us. You name it, it's here. If we moved to a bigger apartment because it would be nicer, we would really push our budget and more likely have to drive more which means more gas $.
Isn't it always the way it goes, one thing breaks and then the dominoes fall? That happened to us last year.
You are a wonderful mom, your kids are so very lucky to have you as their role model.

beki said...

Oh my goodness, I would have been in tears. We would not have survived all that so well.