Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Drake Dorson VS The Right

Random after school conversation with my 5 year old:

"Mommy, it was wrong to make brown-skinned people sit at the back of the bus and only let white-skinned people sit at the front, wasn't it?"
"Yes, honey, it was."
"Martin Luther King Jr was a good man."
"Yes, he was."
"Why did they arrest that lady that sat at the front?"
"Rosa Parks?"
"Yeah. Why did she get arrested?"
"well, honey, there was a law against what she did, and when she refused to move, they arrested her because that was the law at the time."
"That was a silly law. A MEAN law."
"yes, it was. But thankfully that law is gone now, they changed it. There are still some silly laws though. Do you remember the other day when we talked about how boys can't marry boys and girls can't marry girls?"
"That's because that's still a law."
"There are some really mean laws."
"Yes, honey, there are. But hopefully that law will be changed soon."
"Yeah. By a man named DRAKE DORSON!"

Monday, April 19, 2010

thoughtful little things

Both my children get so excited when they find money. At 3, Oksana just knows that money buys stuff. She has a play cash register but still doesn't exactly 'get' that each coin is different, each dollar is different; she doesn't know how to relate them to merchandise (in her world, everything costs TWENTY CENTS). At 5, Drake knows the units of money are different; he can add and subtract some of them; he can perform rudimentary financial transactions, with some adult help. But their monetary skill levels don't really matter; what matters is that money brings TOYS and CANDY and LETS THEM PICK THINGS OUT THEMSELVES WHEN WE GO TO THE STORE. Money is modern-day treasure, and every time they find a coin they squeal in glee, pick it up, examine it, marvel over its shine, pocket it, can't wait to get it home and deposit it in their counting bank. It's a HUGE thrill.

Today I was cleaning in my room and I found a dusty, dirty old penny. I was making piles on my bed, so I made a 'change for the counting bank' pile with that one penny. A short while later, my son wanders in. Children naturally gravitate towards anything you are working on (the better to make a mess of it all!), so he starts checking out the stuff on the bed.
"ooh! Mommy! A penny!" He examines it suspiciously; it's pretty dirty and worn. "Is this a REAL penny?"
"Yes, honey," I say, somewhat wearily, from my position on the floor (I was digging things out from under a dresser). "I was going to put it in your counting bank when I finished here."
"oooh! Can *I* put it in the counting bank?"
"Yes, honey."
Drake wraps his fingers tight around the prize and starts skipping out of the room. He's all the way out the door when I hear him stop, turn around, and walk back to the doorway.
"Yes, honey?"
"Will it make you sad if I put this in my counting bank instead of you? Because you sounded sad about it." He holds out the coin to me.
"No, sweetheart, I'm not sad. You go ahead and do it. I just must have sounded funny because I'm tired."
"OK!" he skips off with his treasure again.

It just touched my heart so much that he is thoughtful enough to recognize that I might be sad over not getting to deposit such a treasure myself, and that he was sweet enough to offer to let me do it, even though it would cost him the thrill of it. When he came back in the room, I had to give him a big hug. My sensitive little man.

living simply.

"Really and truly live more simply, at least for now; go through things and SELL THEM OFF, make it hurt, make a real concerted effort to pay off debt and get in a better position. don't incur debt like this again. make lists of things you'd like to purchase WHEN YOU ARE OUT OF DEBT AND HAVE THE MONEY. Prioritize it. You can always get the 'stuff' later. And 'stuff' is just for fun, it's not that important anyway."

That's a goal that I just added to my Million Dreams list. For a number of reasons, living more simply is heavy on my mind right now. There are a number of things falling apart all around me and this is one way I feel that I can take control. It's something I can take control of that will, I believe, HELP me in the long run, help make at least some things better. I would like to start going through the things I have and selling them, many of them. A step outside the normal decluttering I've been working on. A step where it will sting a little to get rid of some of these things. I will not get rid of items that are truly meaningful to me, of course. I'd like to:
*make a list of things I am willing to spend a little extra money on (such as weekly Global dinners with friends, or family reunion vacation this summer)
*work over my budget and pare out anything that isn't absolutely important to me
*impose a moratorium on buying anything frivolous until we are out of non-mortgage debt
* start a list of things we would like to purchase once we have achieved the debt-free goal; keep it prioritized and not purchase any of those things until we've not only achieved our goal but also saved the money to purchase them with cash
* try to get as many of the things we want as we can for free - through freecycle or borrowing or bartering, for instance
* if something comes up that we decide is worth the money to do and we can't make it be free, evaluate it ahead of time and try to make it as cheap as possible. bring sack lunches, for instance; carpool; order cheap food; drink water, not booze; that sort of thing.
* put every extra cent we have into debt payment and just FUCKING GET RID OF IT

That's kind of what I'd like to do right now.

It's a necessary step, getting rid of debt; it's something I want to do anyway, I've talked about it here before. But this isn't about getting rid of debt so much as it is getting rid of baggage right now. I just need a fresh start. I need to look at things with fresh eyes. I need to cut some ridiculously loose ends. No matter what direction my life takes from this moment forward, I don't think doing this will hurt; I think it will only help.

So I think I might actually DO this. This time. (Yeah, I've talked about things like this before, but never done it. Maybe this is my time.)


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