Posts filed under ‘thoughts’

Are Those Family Heirlooms Worth Anything at All?

waterford

At my previous job I was offered a gift after five years of employment. What was five years worth? $200 seemed the going rate as each gift in the selected catalog was roughly equivalent to that amount.

At the time I waffled between two options: a very girly, pink bike and an ornate Waterford vase. At the time our garage was filled to the brim with shelves full of stuff. I already owned a bike, (though not a pale pink one), and had no room to store another, so I settled on the vase. If I could go back in time I would probably pick anything other than that vase, but at the time I was recently married and it seemed like the perfect choice to fill my new china cabinet.

Fast forward another ten years and the china cabinet is no longer in residence here. The plates, cups and saucers have all moved out so art supplies and children’s toys can occupy that space. The china was transported to the attic, though I doubt we’ll ever remove it from there. But what about that Waterford vase? What on earth could I do with it? It was heavy and unfortunately not designed for a large bouquet. When we brought flowers home they stood too stiffly inside it’s confided area and looked quite stifled and tight in there.

I wondered if I could sell that vase? I searched eBay for similar items, but even at low prices it seemed no one wanted the piece I owned. I found a few companies offering to buy Waterford, but none of them wanted it either.

I was told the number of crystal collectors is rapidly declining. “Who wants crystal,” one representative asked. “These days people want big screen televisions and trips to Tahiti.”

He went on to tell me that as the older generation passes away many children, (now in their 50s and 60s), have no desire to keep these family heirlooms. After all, even those who regularly entertain rarely do so with crystal goblets and sterling silver flatware.

We are a perfect example of this. We rarely host events, but our last party involved a backyard barbeque. We served food on paper plates with plastic cups and filled a wheelbarrow full of beer.

If we are representative of our generation it’s not difficult to see why the value of Waterford and other fine crystal is falling. There simply isn’t a market out there. Very few people want the stuff and even fewer are willing to pay good money to acquire it.

My family owns quite a bit of cut glass but I’ve never eaten off those plates or poured wine into those delicate glasses. This wasn’t the case for my grandmother who used them daily as a child. Even my mom remembers being served lemonade from crystal pitchers. This hasn’t been the case in my lifetime. I’ve only seen them behind glass doors, inside a china cabinet covered with a thin layer of dust.

I understand collecting beauty for beauty’s sake, but I doubt our generation or the one that follows will have much need or desire for china or crystal.

As for me, I no longer wish to own something I have no intention of using. If it is going to sit in a cabinet and take up space I’d prefer to pass it on to someone who might covet it.

As for my Waterford, I donated it. I hope it finds a new home where it can be treasured.

August 11, 2015 at 1:33 PM Leave a comment

Odds, Ends and Other Such Things

hands

Once a week I intend to write a few words in either this blog or my children’s journals, but with the introduction of our second child I cannot seem to find the time to focus on either.

My older son gave up napping a few weeks ago, so I have absolutely no quiet time between the time I wake in the morning and the minute I go to sleep at night.

The oldest will return to preschool in the fall and that should give me just a few minutes a day for myself. I say should because some days the baby falls asleep in his crib with a minor tap, tap on the back and other days he struggles to either fall asleep or stay asleep without intervention. I sure hope this settles he gives me at least an hour of quiet time once the school year begins.

I know some families can add another child with very few ripples, but I have found it quite draining to have two children in the house at the same time.

On the money front:

  • I finally received a $50 check that should have been mailed on May 19th. It took two months and nine emails to get things straightened out. I had just about given up hope when the check arrived in the mail.
  • I am in the process of gathering baby clothes and equipment to sell at consignment. I know I’ll make less selling them at a consignment shop, but I’m not sure I want to go through all the effort of tagging and hanging them for a consignment sale. Can anyone offer advice on this topic? It seems so much easier to take them to a store.
  • I desperately want to sell my old dining room furniture. With the addition of my second child we simply don’t have the room to eat in our kitchen anymore and the dining room is now a place for eating, playing and chasing. I’m tired of maneuvering around the furniture. We paid a lot of money for the china cabinet, (probably $2000 or more), so with any luck we can sell that piece for a few hundred dollars. I don’t think anyone would be willing to buy the rest of it.
  • In order to get rid of the china cabinet and other furniture we need to move and purge quite a few things. The china, which we used once in ten years, was boxed up and moved to the attic. A few bags were donated and other things were moved. It is amazing how much stuff we owned but never used. I initially felt guilty about the way money was wasted, but as I get rid of it, I feel surprisingly free! Why hold on to things we have no intention of using? I’d rather make more space for the life we truly want to lead then the one we are pretending we might live some day.
  • I suggested moving the kitchen table to the dining room, but my husband was pretty hesitant about the idea. Honestly it makes perfect sense to me. We aren’t using the kitchen table in its current location and it’s just another piece of furniture that seems in the way. My husband doesn’t like the look of that table, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to be overruled on this one.
  • I want to spend a ridiculous amount of money to renovate our sun-room. We’ve already spent $164,000 on maintenance and renovations, so I know spending another $20,000 sound crazy. Unfortunately, without these changes the room cannot really be used year round and right now it is a great place for the kids to play. My husband thinks we should definitely proceed. It will make us more comfortable in the short term and may ultimately help us sell the house one day.

The children are calling so it seems those are all my updates for now!

July 9, 2015 at 3:01 PM 2 comments

Perspective

ground

I consider myself a lucky person. I typically focus on the positive over the negative and I wonder how that impacts my overall experiences in life. Do good things happen because I push aside the negative in favor of happy thoughts?

Here’s an example: It took my husband and I two and a half years to conceive two children. The good news: we have two children. I believe my struggle with infertility makes me appreciate their existence that much more.

Here’s another one: I suffered from not one but two fairly significant medical traumas over the past ten years. The good news: it could have been worse. I could have suffered from more serious problems or even died. Those medical issues have changed my outlook on life and in some strange way I am grateful for the wakeup call they created. I was lucky enough to have a husband who stayed with me, (WITHOUT WAVERING), throughout my medical crises.

And another: I was laid off days after giving birth to my first child. The good news: I had a high paying job that allowed me to save a significant amount of money during the twelve years that I worked. I made smart financial moves in those early years and had a healthy financial cushion in place to catch my fall. So healthy in fact that I decided to remain out of the workforce after my son was born.

There have certainly been negative things in my life, but I prefer to focus on the positive. A family member recently asked about my son waking in the night. I told her, “I am not sour at the idea of losing sleep. I am grateful that I have a child to tend to.” Of course, I crave more sleep, but looking at the bright side certainly helps me through those early morning hours.

Life seems too short to focus on the negative. There are so many amazing things to feel grateful for!

May 22, 2015 at 2:51 PM 1 comment

Would You Attempt to Return an Item to a Store Even If You Knew It Was Not Purchased There?

shopping bags

Dear readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one…

Here’s the scenario. you receive duplicate gifts at an event, after noticing the duplicate item a family member turns to you and says “is there a gift slip in the bag?” When you answer “no” they say “I bought mine at Target, but I don’t have a receipt, so just take it to Walmart. They take back everything there.”

This reminded me of a story from long ago. Way back in 1997 my boyfriend received a computer game for Christmas that was a duplicate of one he already owned. With the gift slip in hand we drove to the store to return it. When we reached the counter the cashier told us the item could not be returned. Apparently we had only fourteen days to return the game and we were a day or two beyond that period of time.

My boyfriend was disgruntled, but he picked the game off the counter and walked down the mall to another store. That store allowed him to exchange the game for another with no questions asked. The store took his brand new, shrink wrapped game and he walked out with a different one.

At the time I didn’t think much about our decision, but as an adult I view the situation with a little more guilt. Is it wrong to take advantage of a lenient store policy?

In the original scenario detailed above would you try to return the gift to Walmart even if you thought the gift giver didn’t buy it there?

April 26, 2015 at 12:28 PM 1 comment

Letting Go

cat

I noticed his picture while panning the shelter’s website. I sent a link to my boyfriend. (I wish I still had that email.) It said something like ‘this is the one for us.’

The little kitten was standing tall staring straight at the camera. His ears and paws seemed much too big for his tiny body. He held one paw up the air, a habit he kept for the first half of his life. Always lifting one paw when he greeted me at the door then switching to the other.

Although my boyfriend, (now my husband), picked him up from the shelter I immediately felt as though he were my own. Actually he decided to bring home two cats and while everyone in the family fawned over the quiet, shy cat I took an immediate liking to the frisky one that feared no one.

I didn’t like cats. I still don’t. I only had one friend with a cat growing up and that cat was a crazy one. It flew across the sofa in the middle of the night and jumped up walls.

This cat was different. He wasn’t aggressive or wild in temperament. He had a ridiculously loud purr that you could hear before he even walked into the room.

When we moved out of my boyfriend’s apartment the cat claimed my bedroom as his own. He would curl up on top of my soft blankets and purr throughout the night. He loved a particular white comforter of mine. Every time I pulled it out he would come running up the stairs and hop right onto it. I still don’t know how he knew I was laying it across the bed. I couldn’t hear a sound when I unfolded it.

He may have belonged to my husband but he was 100% my cat. I remember walking into the basement one night after a huge fight. I don’t know what my husband and I were fighting about, but I remember crying hysterically on the floor while our cat nudge his head against my arms, legs and elbows. I dripped tears onto his shiny coat, but he didn’t seem to mind. The more I cried the more he nudged against me.

When I broke my wrist that cat would nestle between the arm of the chair and my good side. He always managed to place his head in the perfect location for petting.

The poor guy produced excess saliva whenever he got excited. As I stroked his fur he’d often gulp loudly almost to the point of gagging. I’d have to stop every once in awhile because I was always afraid he’d get physically sick from the excitement.

In my darkest hours he sat on the recliner next to me and somehow made me feel better. He sensed my sadness and came running every time. How do animals sense emotions like that? He seemed to know the moment I was upset.

He slept on my bed after my surgeries and as I suffered through the pain of drug induced neuropathy. Any time I didn’t feel 100 percent the cat would be at my side.

He was my one and only baby for 11 years. When my son was born he dropped in the ranks, but never acted out as a result of it. In fact, he remained the calm, quiet animal he had always been. My son was extremely gentle with our cat. He would put his hand in front of his whiskers and let our cat sniff his hands before reaching out to pet him. I never worried that my son would injure the cat and I never worried that the cat would lash out at my son. He was too gentle to harm anyone.

When my son was young the cat always wanted to be nearby watching, but for the most part did his best to remain just out of reach. At seven months my son was determined to see that kitty. As the cat sat quietly perched on the cushion of our couch my son used his chubby, little fingers to pull himself to his feet. He tried to hold on to the couch with one hand while reaching out to the cat with the other.

When the cat realized how close he was he quickly jumped to another cushion and within a day or so my son began cruising along the furniture trying to keep up with him.

When my son became a toddler I would occasionally walk into the room to find him talking to the cat. One day he told me he was teaching our cat the ABCs, another time I stumbled upon him singing songs as the cat sat high in the kitty stand above him.

That cat, our cat, was no ordinary feline. I used to tell people he was more like a dog. He’d follow me around the house wherever I went. He’d pop down off the cat scratcher whenever anyone came to visit. He’d hop onto the couch and rub up against the strangers skin until they stroked his fur and talked to him. He followed vendors around the house, plumbers, painters, electricians, it didn’t matter.

My mom who truly dislikes animals always said “I really like your cat.” A few times when she spent the night at our house the cat slept in bed beside her.

Last night I cried hysterically while thanking my cat for everything he’s done for us. I let him lick the bottom of my ice cream bowl then picked him up and rubbed his head. This morning I said goodbye one last time. I told my son our cat will go somewhere he won’t be in pain any longer. Over the past few days he was unable able to hold down any food and I knew it was time to say goodbye.

I keep telling myself he had a good fifteen year run, but that doesn’t really make it any easier.

April 20, 2015 at 4:26 PM 4 comments

Odds and Ends in April

A few odds and ends since I can’t seem to find the time to post anything longer:

  1. I am completely hooked on Bark Thins. A good friend delivered a bag of these shortly after my son was born and I have methodically eaten a tiny piece every day for the last three weeks. Who knew the combination of dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and sea salt would be so enticing?
    Bark Thins
  2. I’ve always been a huge fan of Target, but yesterday I fell in love a little bit more. A cashier at our local store allowed me to return a pair of pants for my one month old that were much too small. The pants clearly hadn’t been worn, but the tag was missing. (I pulled it off before realizing the sizing error and somehow misplaced it.) The cashier took my receipt and provided a prompt refund with no questions asked. Of course, I spent that money before leaving the store.
  3. I tried to fight my inclination to browse the Easter clearance aisle at Target. I kept reminding myself that I don’t want to own anything that is only used once a year. I caved only slightly. I purchased a bag of glow-in-the-dark Easter eggs that unfortunately don’t appear to glow-in-the-dark. Bummer. The next question: Is it worth returning them?
  4. I sold some unwanted formula on eBay. I received a box of free samples in the mail. I searched for nearby shelters that might except donations, but couldn’t find any within a reasonable driving distance. Since I’m exclusively breastfeeding I figured I’d get them out of the house and make a little money in the process. As usual I was disappointed with the results of that work and effort. Between shipping costs and fees I netted less than ten dollars. (When will I learn my lesson?)
  5. My mom came to stay with me for a few days. I loved having her here to play and watch over my boys. I didn’t realize how much work is involved with two kids until my mom was able to take one of them off of my hands for a couple of minutes.
  6. I spent the last few days worrying about the health of my newborn Thankfully everything appears okay at this point as the primary test results were normal, but this was a strong reminder that all the money in the world can’t necessarily bring good health.

April 9, 2015 at 10:20 AM 1 comment

The More You Give The More You Will Receive

Baby Shower Gifts

In January of 2013, (a little over a year after my first son’s birth), I gathered up two large bags of clothes ranging in size from newborn to six months. At the time I didn’t hesitate at the thought of passing them on to someone else.  A friend of my husband’s delivered her baby fourteen weeks earlier than expected and that bag of gently used hand-me-downs was the least I could do for her.

At the time I was pretty certain I wanted more children, but given my year and a half long struggle to conceive my son I didn’t know if it would be possible. What I knew in that moment is that I wanted to reach out to someone who was hurting deeply, so I bagged up cute little onesies, socks, mitts and other newborn and infant items and asked my husband to deliver them.

Fast forward to a few months before the birth of baby number two. As I dug through plastic boxes full of stored baby items I discovered that I’d given away the majority of my son’s newborn and infant clothing.

When I found out we were expecting again I was hesitant to purchase anything new. I wasn’t sure how to prepare for a spring baby. Would the temperature be warm, cool or downright cold? Would this little bundle of joy weigh seven pounds or ten?

My first child came into the world weighing less than eight pounds but wasted no time growing up and out. Those cute newborn clothes didn’t last but a week or two and while I can’t remember the exact time frame I do know he grew out of the three month size relatively quickly too.

As I reviewed our baby inventory I never, (not once), regretted giving away those tiny baby clothes. That gift provided a brief moment of joy during a very tumultuous time in the lives of those new parents.

When I came home from the hospital, after delivering three weeks earlier than my due date, my sweet little baby had almost nothing to wear. Honestly it didn’t matter too much. I held him skin-to-skin and bundled him in a blanket when we were inside the house together.

I figured two or three sleepers would be plenty for sleeping and outdoor adventures. Unfortunately, unlike my first son who could spend the entire day in one outfit, this guy needs more frequent changes.

One morning I wavered back and forth about heading out to the store, but wouldn’t you know the moment I considered buying new clothes a large package arrived on my doorstep. Inside that huge box I found tiny gender neutral outfits ranging in size from zero to six months. There are more than enough clothes to help me get through this first month or two.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

I believe in Karma. I deeply believe that when we put good thoughts into the universe good energy will be returned to us.

This gift was a perfect example. I gave away all those teeny, tiny baby clothes in 2013 and in return received a box of new ones two years later. For the record the gift was completely unexpected. The gift giver is an aunt that I haven’t seen in well over five years.

March 26, 2015 at 11:49 PM 1 comment

Odds, Ends and Other Such Things

Sunshine

A spattering of financial thoughts rolling around in my brain:

  1. Next month will start the four year countdown of our primary mortgage!
  2. My family hosted a surprise sprinkle for baby #2 after all. Despite saying that gifts weren’t necessary everyone brought something and yes I felt guilty for each of the gifts we received. Having said that I am glad we celebrated the new addition to our family. Only family and very close friends attended and there was so much love!
  3. Our insurance plan changed in December and I can’t seem to find out how much we’ll owe for labor and delivery. We still owe $1,000 of our $3,000 deductible, but after that it’s very unclear if we’ll owe a percentage of coinsurance and/or co-pays. I’ve decided not to worry about it for now.
  4. Although buying in bulk saves us a lot of money I’m considering ditching those giant containers of coconut oil, ketchup and salad dressing. We gave up a lot of storage space when we remodeled our basement and I just don’t have the room to store those gargantuan plastic bottles. I’d like to perform a little cost analysis to see how much money those bulk containers save.
  5. After complaining about the price of bowling with a toddler I found a great Groupon deal at AMF locations. Just click the Groupon link and then type AMF to view the deal.
  6. I haven’t made any progress on preparing meals in advance of baby #2’s arrival. I just don’t seem to have the motivation or desire to work on this goal, which means we’ll probably rely on more fast food and takeout than I’d prefer. I need to get over the guilt or move into action, but neither seems to be happening.
  7. Snow, sickness and general lethargy have let a few high-value store coupons go to waste in the last few weeks. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but surely I could have spent those $5 coupons on something; socks at Kohl’s and soap at CVS.

March 3, 2015 at 5:12 PM 3 comments

More Odds and Ends

strawberry

More odds and ends

  1. The cold weather, school closings and delayed openings have kept me out of stores the past few weeks. This is a win-win in my book. The less often I find myself in a store the less often I find myself craving something I really don’t need.
  2. I’m a little torn about the latest grocery shopping bills. My husband and in-laws have graciously offered to pick up milk, bread and other household staples for us a couple of times over the last few weeks. While I am very happy not to trudge off to the store with a three year old in tow our food bills are much higher than usual. I can’t ask them to look over sale prices while they are in the store and I hate to hand over a wad of coupons that may or may not work properly, so I’ve decided for now convenience must win over saving money. This trend will probably continue for at least a few weeks or months after the baby arrives.
  3. For Valentine’s Day my sweet husband brought home a $47 box of chocolate covered strawberries. The frugal side of me cringed just a bit, but the very pregnant, craving sweets girl was more than happy to receive them. For the record they were some of the tastiest strawberries I’ve eaten in a very long time.
  4. It seems I ran over some nails and screws on my way to or from preschool. One punctured the sidewall of my tire, which will require a $250 replacement. I just bought the car, (brand new), in December. Needless to say I am not happy about having to replace it!
  5. Indoor adventures for toddlers aren’t cheap. I took my son to the bowling alley this week and spent $20. I must say it was really nice to get out of the house for a few hours, but I couldn’t believe the bowling alley didn’t have a discounted price for preschoolers. The shoe rental alone cost $5. It seems I need to find some cheaper indoor adventures that aren’t too difficult or tiring for a very pregnant woman to maneuver.
  6. I’d love to find a few more go-to recipes that I can prepare quickly or even freeze in advance. With a little one on the way I’d really love to stock the house with staples and know that dinner won’t take more than a few minutes to prepare. If you have any favorite recipes or sites you frequent please leave a comment below.

Photo Credit

February 20, 2015 at 6:00 PM 2 comments

Odds and Ends

Kohls Order - BabyGanics Edit 2

Random financial thoughts cause I can’t seem to concentrate on any of the posts I planned.

  • The original quote for basement remodeling was $25,700. So far, the total now stands at $46,000. We made a few drastic changes to our original plans, which added $9,300 worth of contracting work. The rest came from a combination of flooring supplies, sinks, toilets, radiators, accessories, a new television, speakers, organizational supplies and furniture. Yikes! The original quote didn’t include any of these items.
  • After our recent purge of unwanted items I really enjoyed reading the Forbes article: The Real Cost of Your Shopping Habits. I don’t like the author’s use of the word “chicks,” but otherwise this is a very interesting article about the time, effort and money spent acquiring, organizing, maintaining and storing items we buy. The moral to her story, (and mine after remodeling our house), is to simply stop buying so much stuff.
  • I’m burning up unused gift cards like crazy. I have a huge stack that has been sitting in the safe at our house for years. As each holiday passes the stack grows just a little bit taller and while I always think I’ll manage to find a use for them I never do. So this week I sold two I know we’ll never use on eBay, used two more to buy a set of queen sheets from Burlington Coat Factory, one to buy a supply of new underwear and burned three more on take-out dinners for my family. If possible I’d also like to use a few spa related cards before baby #2 makes his or her arrival. I hate to admit this, but I still have hundreds of dollars worth of cards remaining.
  • I recently became a huge fan of Kohl’s. In early January I bought two bottles of shampoo & body wash, one tube of toothpaste and a twenty pack of hand sanitizer wipes for just over $14. I used three coupon codes to knock $10 off a $30 purchase, 30% off the remaining cost and received free shipping. This is a phenomenal price for all four products. Subscribe and save would cost $8.37 per bottle of body wash, which means I received all four items for less than the cost of two. For some reason my shipment never arrived so I contacted Kohl’s, cancelled the first order and resubmitted over the phone through a friendly customer service representative. Somehow the representative knocked my price even lower and I paid just over $10 (after tax!) for all four items! I was so excited by this order I placed a similar one a week or so later and received six products for less than twelve bucks!
  • Thanks to my Things to Look out For List I recouped a $15 gift card from J. Crew. When I placed an order way back in December one of my items was out of stock. The order was cancelled because the item was never restocked, but J. Crew failed to issue me a new gift card. If I hadn’t written myself a note I would’ve lost out on the value. I called customer service and asked for a new one to be sent via snail mail.
  • By the way after seeing $46,000 in black and white saving $10 or $15 here or there seems like nothing. My husband says I think in terms of dollars and cents, but really looking at a number that big definitely makes me see the value of big money.

February 16, 2015 at 11:05 PM 2 comments

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