When Do You Really Need More?

When do you really need more of something: more shirts, more horsepower, more channels.

We live in a time with a dazzling array of options, but knowing what you need, versus is what is overkill, can be tricky.

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I am guilty of this.

For example, I did lots and lots of research before buying an elliptical machine for our home gym. Lots. I compared consumer ratings, what Consumer Reports said, and overall customer satisfaction. I finally decided on one after six months of research. And, I way overbought. I will never use a tiny fraction of all the things the model I bought can do. On the plus side, that means it’s been quite reliable as I haven’t really taxed it.

This same thing came up when we decided a few years back to start drinking smoothies for breakfast. It got us a bunch of good nutrients first thing in the morning, they can be made quickly, and they’re easy to get down when your stomach is feeling rebellious. Neither my husband nor I am much of breakfast people as our stomachs really aren’t interested in food right away in the morning, but we can both consume a smoothie without or stomachs protesting too much.

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Triple Berry Smoothie. One of our favorites!

 

After about four or five months of smoothies for breakfast, our blender died. We went to the store and bought another. It was a good little blender, but it didn’t really get the smoothies to the consistency both of us liked. Especially if we tried to sneak something like spinach into them.

I started researching. Our $50 Oster was a very good model at that price point, but if you wanted a truly smooth smoothie, you were looking at quite a bit more. I mean a lot more

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Yeah, about like that.

As part of my research, I asked a woman where I work what she uses. She even makes green smoothies, and they are always smooth.

She told me to buy a Vitamix and I wouldn’t regret it. She said she drinks a smoothie every day, she’s had hers for eight years, and it’s still going strong. Best of all, it makes smooth smoothies. She then tells me a story about how she warned her sister not to buy a lower cost model as she’ll regret it. Her sister didn’t listen, and she regrets it as she can’t justify letting go of her two-hundred dollar blender to get the Vitamix now.

And, no, Vitamix isn’t paying me to say any of this.

Armed with my research and testimonial, I scoured the web to find the best price on it. Finally, I bought one.

I’ve never regretted it. We’ve had ours for almost three years now, and we use it almost every morning. Even on weekends. It does an amazing job, chomps through ice and frozen fruit with no problem, and makes a smooth smoothie. It was worth what we paid for it, especially as we expect to have it for many more years to come.

 

How about you? Ever over-bought on something and regretted it? Ever under-bought and regretted it? Do you research the heck out of a decision before making it? Or do you rely on your gut for this?

When You Fail the Test

Kids test you. A lot.

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Patience has never been one of my virtues. Even now, if you want to really rile me, have my computer decide to take it’s sweet time when I need something done.

Kids do this all the time. It’s the way they’re wired. They must test boundaries, push you, and see exactly what they can get away with every single day. Because, you know, the rules have changed in the last eighteen seconds.

Like all kids, mine have their annoying little quirks. The youngest refuses to eat bread crusts. Even if you cut the crusts off the bread, she’ll leave the last little ring of bread on her tray as if it were a crust.

So, there’ll be half a sandwich of crusts on her tray, and she’ll toss them to the floor and ask for more.

She is also an insanely picky eater. We’re trying to decide if she can grow-up healthy living on nothing but peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt, and fruit. She’ll eat any fruit under the sun, and a lot of raw veggies, but heaven help you if you offer her a piece of chicken. The offending morsel must not be allowed to stay on her plate. Oh no. It gets chucked across the room.

We’re working on that.

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Meal time is never a treat in our house.

Getting ready in the morning can be even worse, especially as we have a deadline to get out the door.

It’s amazing how difficult it is to get two kids into their coats, hats, and mittens and get them out to the car. Of course, then comes the bucking bronco as I try to get the youngest into her five-point car seat. You’d think she was going on a roller-coaster ride with the safety restraint system rather than the three miles to daycare.

This is when I yell.

Why am I so angry? Because we have places to go. Because I don’t want to be late to work myself. Because I want to be doing something other than dealing with their shenanigans.

And that’s the crux of it.

A lot of my test-failing is directly related to being frustrated. To want to do something – have a family meal, get to school on time, put them to bed – that they don’t really want to do. So, they resist. Sometimes directly by throwing themselves onto the floor, and other times indirectly as they refuse to be able to find their hat on thirteen degree day.

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Ask a kid if they want to go to the zoo, and see how fast that hat, mittens and coat go on!

My frustration is especially evident after a long day at work, or when I have expectations that may not always be realistic for small children. As this is my first time with kids, I don’t always have realistic expectations.

I don’t want to be the parent that’s always angry. I want to enjoy the beautiful little creatures that inhabit this house with me.

To try to get there, I’m trying to accept that there’s going to be a lot of times that I’m not going to get what I want.

I might not get a full hour of writing. I might have to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to go with the three oranges and eight strawberries she’s having for supper. But in the end, my relationship with them is worth the sacrifices. They are amazing kids. For the most part.

I’ve also learned to start getting ready in the morning sooner. If I get them to daycare ten minutes early, no one really minds. It saves a little of my sanity, if you can call someone that has voices in her head sane.

I’m figuring it out, and I’m making mistakes along the way. But I figure as long as I approach parenting with love, I can’t screw them up too badly.

 

How about you? Any coping techniques when things really frustrate you? Or getting kids ready in the morning? Ever have to deal with a picky eater? How did you handle it? Or maybe you’re the picky eater?

Guilt

Guilt is an insidious little bastard. Creeping into your thoughts and feelings and making you feel bad even when you shouldn’t.

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I feel guilty most mornings for snuggling with my toddler rather than getting up and exercising. I use my lunch hour to catch-up on work most days so I don’t have to stay late, otherwise I sneak in a little writing. And my evenings with 2 kids are chaotic, and exercising too late makes it hard to get to sleep. So, if I’m going to exercise, it has to be in the morning.

But that means giving up precious snuggle time. Time I won’t get in a year. I love the way she cuddles, and when she’s finally ready to wake up, she leans over and gives me kisses. Then she sits up and starts babbling. We “talk” for a few minutes then get up and start our day together. I work full time away from her, so these mornings are precious.

To hell with morning exercise and what I “should” do. Not giving up morning snuggles. And not feeling bad about it so it diminishes the experience. I’ll have to be more creative and figure something out at night. Or squeeze in a short walk at lunch. Something is better than nothing, and I’m not compromising my precious time with DD2.

And I’m done feeling guilty about it.

Just like I’m done feeling guilty about “not writing”. I’ve finished one book including rewrites and finished a second book including a first rewrite. All in 1.5 years. With two children, a spouse, and a full time job.

I should be proud, not guilty. And if I want to take a week or two off to percolate ideas, I’ll consider it a creative rest.

No guilt.

It robs me of enjoying a few weeks to let the creative juices flow, to let new and interesting ideas percolate, and to recharge my battery.

I’m going to enjoy my time thinking about new characters, just as I am going to enjoy morning toddler snuggles.