Instant Gratification // Musings

>> Monday, October 2, 2017

Growing up in a small town before the internet became a big deal, I generally accepted that items I wanted/needed would take weeks to arrive and that most things I wanted/needed to do would close by 5PM.

It was a time of slow living. Simplicity.

There was no such thing as instant gratification. I remember browsing through the movie store, for example, looking at VHS after VHS. Finally, I’d arrive on the movie I wanted to see . . . only to find that all copies were checked out and I’d have to wait at least another week to see it.

24-hour grocery stores

Streaming television/movies

Amazon Prime’s shipping

Walk-in clinics open on Sundays

It sounds silly, but these things amaze me. They still do even years after first being exposed to them. I remember leaving home to go to college in Ithaca, which isn’t some big metropolis, and getting delivery calzones at 2AM. Can you imagine! That’s the middle of the night, and I could have hot food brought to me while I was in my pajamas. We won’t even go into the freshly baked cookies you could get at that hour. I’d sometimes drive to Wegmans just to walk around the empty store at midnight because I found the whole novelty of it just so incredible.

Small town girl right here. That’s me. Born and raised. Fifth generation, too. But life is so different now. And this applies even to my small hometown. I cannot even begin to tell you how Amazon would have changed my life. If a store didn’t have X, Y, or Z that you needed . . . we still joke that the owner would say “well -- long exhale -- we can order it in” and it would take seemingly weeks to arrive. As if by horse or something.

But, 2017. We can have basically anything we want, whenever we want it. Sure, some things are still more difficult to get. (Polar’s Unicorn Kisses sparkling water, anyone? Which, by the way, I found here!) And there are times when demand is high. Instant gratification is a great thing -- at least sometimes.

Lately, though, I’ve been grappling with how to bring up my girls in an age when they have access to so much. (PS: Has anyone read Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World? Wondering if it’s worth adding to the library list.)

I would love for them to feel that immense satisfaction of when you have waited so very long for something. It’s this painful place -- the waiting. I think it’s important. For one, it makes the reward so much sweeter. I feel like we’re missing that so much these days. Not that I want to give up any of it. Nope. I’ve become far too accustomed.

But I feel like always getting what we want (even if it’s just immediate rental of a movie) leads to this feeling that we NEED/WANT so much more. We’re ever-addicted to the feeling of joy, however fleeting it may be. And to rarely if ever have that waiting? I just wonder what that does to a person and his/her expectations out of life.

I feel like a lot of my homesteading efforts are also efforts to recapture those old times when things didn’t come so easy. To get that whole feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction again. Many of you were so kind to point out that convenience (from my last post) isn’t always such a bad thing. I totally agree with you.

When most everything is made for our convenience, I’m not so sure. But here I am today with another one of those aimless, thought-circling posts. I’ve been thinking a lot lately, so I suppose it’s good I’ve had time for that.

I’ll be back soon with some new meals that we’ve been making! Meal planning is much easier when you brach out and get excited about new recipes, right?!


Why We’re So Bad at Saving Money, etc.

>> Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I’ve been mulling over a lot since I last wrote about our budget and desire to get out of debt. At the time when I wrote, Stephen was still home for summer break, and I was basically milling my own grain to bake homemade bread daily, cooking up fresh batches of yogurt + cheese, and generally being a model homesteading mother. I love this stuff. It’s the stuff of my life that brings me a lot of happiness. As the pace of life has picked up (here's our day in the life) with the start of school and coaching season, however, I have had a lightbulb moment.

It won’t shock any of you. But I’ve realized WHY we are so horrible at saving money even when we have the best of intentions. When life is slow and time is, well, plentiful, we have lots of energy to expend. Energy equals dollars, quite honestly. When I have lots of energy, I’m able to keep my house clean, I’m able to cook homemade meals, I’m able to mix together all my own household cleaners. When I have more energy and time, I am able to think of more ways to save money.

Heck, I’m able to think, period.

When energy and time are taken out of the equations, that’s when convenience enters. Again, this isn’t mind-blowing by any means, but when you’re just surviving everyday life . . . it can be hard to pinpoint why exactly, say, you’re driving to get a bagel and coffee (and you don’t even like coffee) in a haze and then somehow also want to fork over $20 or more for takeout on a Wednesday evening. And then your mind is made up that you may never cook again.

Convenience has both good and bad connotations, doesn’t it? 

It means easy-breezy and comfortable. 

It also means waste (packaging, money, etc.) and laziness. 

What am I talking about? Well, packaged foods and beverages come to mind. Takeout and heat-up meals are another offender. Then there’s stuff like paper towels, which we actually have successfully broken the habit of using. Then there’s this grey area of just buying things -- no matter what they are -- in the moment because they’ll help you in some way. Perhaps this is my own emotional purchasing, but like buying a small toy because my kid won’t stop screaming due to teething, and I think it will help.

Where am I going with this?

OK. So, all this stuff costs money. Time equals energy to do things like making laundry detergent, baking bread, and generally being less wasteful. When I don’t have time, I spend lots of money for both practical and emotional reasons. And then it’s this vicious cycle that’s difficult if not impossible to break. Even harder because our society seems set up to drive us into consumerism by default.

So, how to combat this issue?

One thing would be to somehow get more time. Are you snickering? I am. I think all of us would love to find the magic that would provide this luxury. Getting up earlier has certainly given me more time, but I’m using that time for work and exercise right now. Alright, then there’s having more money. LOL again. How about getting more energy somehow? I know a lot of people drink coffee. I go in phases with the stuff. I’ve mentioned it before, but it actually gives me a headache, so I’ve tried tea . . . but it doesn’t give me much of a boost. I also don’t want to be dependent on some substance all the time.

In the absence of more time, money, and energy, I think all that’s left to do is to resist the urge to give in to all conveniences. Some, sure. But I think it’s a slippery slope once you get going. Or at least once I get going, it seems like one convenience leads to another. Resist is such a heavy word. It sounds difficult and laborious. And that’s exactly what it is. Beyond resisting, I suppose it's finding balance and also finding faster ways to do the things that will make all that homemade stuff more convenient.

I had written up a series a while back, Green in 15. I suppose I need to take a lesson from myself. As an aside, I’m sure you’ve realized by now that bloggers are no more expert at anything than you are. We just like to talk and take photos of things we often do for the first time and find groundbreaking. To be fair, there are plenty of things I’ve shared in this space that I’ve honed for years and years. But there are definitely a few I’m guilty of jumping the gun on sharing.

Back to my original thoughts:

A.) I can’t do it all. I need to give myself grace if I give in to things that make my life easier. Even if that means temporarily creating more waste and spending more money.

B.) Not everything has to take such a long time. Maybe there are even some smart hacks I could try on my old methods to make my favorite DIY stuff.

C.) I can look at one thing at a time. Maybe some weeks, I just need a clear goal. Like cooking all our meals at home could be first. It doesn’t have to be difficult. I could get back into batch cooking or freezer meals. After that, I could nudge myself out of the freezer aisle and stop buying more prepared foods at insane markups. The next week, I could try out a dry laundry soap recipe that takes less time than the one I mix together by boiling. Etc.

How do you deal with this situation in your everyday life? Have you triumphed over the time/energy trappings? I’ll be sure to report back on my progress. 


We’ve Weaned -- Now What?

>> Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thank you for all your comments and messages regarding my last post -- how I’m feeling overwhelmed and like I need CHANGE. It was definitely a brain-dump about things I’ve been thinking about for quite some time, and it felt good to sort things out on the screen so I could take a few days and think. While I definitely feel wrapped up in craziness lately, I know that I could probably being doing more to help my situation. When you’re in the thick of it, trying to tunnel a way out can feel absolutely impossible, though.

I wasn’t planning on weaning Eloise this weekend, but it happened because I knew I needed it off my plate. I also knew we were ready (heck -- I wrote about weaning her back in June!). We had been down to just the nighttime feed for a month or so. Stephen was having a long Saturday and getting home several hours after he had initially planned . . . and something told me to just buy a ticket for the 7PM showing of It and have him take over bedtime. Such a small thing felt wildly rebellious in the moment.

As I clicked “order” I immediately felt a sense of relief. And also guilt. But mostly sweet, sweet relief.

Eloise turned 15 months last week. I’ve had trouble with the demands of breastfeeding this time around. Still, we forged through together and made it. I texted Stephen from the theater to wish him luck. I worried so much that she’d be crying her head off because I had abandoned her with no warning. And he quickly texted me back that she was already sound asleep with ZERO issues. He said that I was the one who needed luck sleeping after watching that clown run around town, tormenting those children.


It’s been a few days, and Eloise has had no issues going to bed at night without breastfeeding. It’s closing yet another chapter in her babyhood. I’m proud that I was able to breastfeeding both of my girls for a grand total of 32 months. I did it with very few bottles or breaks to speak of. I’m not looking for an award by any means. I am more reflecting on what a crazy commitment nursing is. I won’t paint it with rainbows and kittens. It’s hard work and absolutely maddening at times.

Now that it’s over, I don’t know what that means. I’ve been loosely tracking my cycles, but shying from trying to conceive a third child. I don’t feel quite ready yet. And now that I have my body back, I may just want to take a few months to enjoy being me and having that autonomy again. Weaning was a small step in carving out more sanity for myself. I’m hoping to follow this action with more that will bring me that feeling of inner-peace I’ve been craving.

But for today, I just wanted to tell this story. It’s bittersweet, as always. Our children grow so quickly. I feel like I spend so much time trying to catch the next stage. Then, when it happens . . . it feels all sorts of ways I wasn’t expecting. That said, I’m loving this new toddler stage. I’ll do an update on what Eloise is up to these days very soon!

Happy hump day!

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