Tag: shopping

On Appreciating what we have

I understand the desire to WANT things.  I “window shop” online for clothes and bathing suits when I’m bored or when I’m longing for something new.

I rarely make a purchase.

And I am excited to get back and buy everyone (including myself) new socks and underwear.  I picture myself sitting poolside in a new bathing suit.  I have several on my “wish list.”

I am looking forward to thrift shopping for new clothes for myself.  For everyone, really.  We are stepping back and moving away from new; second-hand is better in so many ways.

I don’t feel like my anticipation or my “window shopping” has or is consuming me.  And I recognize the folly in wanting versus needing.  This past year has been about fulfilling needs each person has in regards to clothes or shoes.  Not wants.

The kids clothes have holes I have attempted to sew.  Shoes have holes in them (a few new ones have been purchased).   I can’t tell you about the state of our “unmentionables”.

I basically packed each person to have two weeks worth of clothes.  Plus, some warm weather and cool weather clothes.  Wearing the same two weeks worth of clothes for the entire school year has taken its toll on the clothes we brought with us.

Few items will make the return trip.

We brought Lego’s for the kids and they each brought one quart-sized ziplock bag of miscellaneous toys. This has been a stark contrast to the overwhelming number of toys they had in Washington.

And I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

They’ve made a doll house from a cardboard box.  Spent days playing with window clings.  Created with recycling materials.  Drawn magical landscapes on paper for their trading-card magnets.

It’s has been wonderful.

Holidays have also been sparse in terms of gifts and in fulfilling wants.  The Easter Bunny and Santa brought the few toys they have gotten while here in Spain.  We have fulfilled the needs and provided experiences.  Santa brought the playdough.

But as we near the end of living abroad experience, we each are suffering from homesickness.  I have great empathy for the kids.  I understand.  I’m homesick as well.  I would love to go to Costco or Target and get everything I need (want??) in one place.

Last week, the kids were feeling down.  They were tired of the toys they had.  And I empathized.

I suggested “window shopping” at toysrus.es for Lego’s.  I suggested them making a wish list.  I thought it would fill the homesickness/longing void as it had for me.

Except they are children.  Everything to them is a need, not a want.  They weren’t able to be satisfied with “window shopping” as I had been.

Needless to say one thing led to another and pennies were being counted and new Lego’s were on their way.  I had hoped a few new sets of Lego’s would fill the gap between now and when we leave in less than 60 days.

It hasn’t.  It’s been the exact opposite.

Fulfilling a few wants has fueled more wants.

And while I so enjoy watching their happy faces at getting a new package and how I love watching them spend hours focused at putting Lego’s together (which I firmly believe is a life skill for when they have to put together their IKEA furniture), I am sorry I ever let them “window shop.”

Everyday now is counting money, asking which stores in town are open and sell toys (few) and negotiating with me on purchasing more Lego’s online.

We’ve worked so hard to emphasize living with what we have.  Living with what we need.  Living to have experiences.

And we’ve lived with holes in our underwear, holes in our shoes and holes in our pants.  I’ve lived with 5 plates, 5 bowls, 3 pans and no microwave.  I’ve lived with no phoning it in to “Papa Johns” when I couldn’t think or contemplate yet another meal to make.

We’ve survived the winter, wearing nearly every piece of clothing each of us owned.  We survived (and thrived) cuddling together watching Netflix and learning to crochet over cold winter months.

Yet, in those few minutes of weakness (and empathy) that I suggested my children “window shop” I seem to have unraveled the entire fabric we’ve created over this last year.

The two hours of window shopping, countless hours anticipating their package and the four hours of assembling their new Lego’s wasn’t worth the erosion of the experience/needs based values we had worked so hard to build upon this last year.

Somehow, I thought there would be a happier ending.  Appreciating new toys.  Appreciating the anticipation and savoring the new toys.

After so many months with living with what we had, I expected less want and more appreciation on receiving new toys.

Lesson learned.

Top 25

We decided to head to Toledo this weekend.  It’s been recommended from folks we personally know as well as it’s in Lonely Planet’s Top 25 for Spain (which will not be the last post on us hitting a top 25).  I had planned an elobrate trip via bus, metro subway and high-speed train to get us here.  The transportation was nearly the cost of the hostel for 2 nights.  An impromptu “beer thirty” lead to us renting a car.  It seemed a no-brainer to decline the extra car rental coverage offering to lower the deductible.  When I got in to drive to the nearest store to buy kid booster seats seemed like a bad idea.  I forgot all the cars are manual transmissions, ok not a huge deal — once I figured out where reverse actually was and that there were 6 gears.  I forgot how tightly packed these Spainards seem to be able to park, that was a bigger deal.  I was exuberant when the folks in front of me drove away!  But a few round-abouts and a few practice reverses and I was set to go.  We found ourselves a “super-Walmart” type store and it was AMAZING!!!  We went to get car seats for kids but it I mean it was amazing!, things we have been missing were all before our eyes!  Black beans! White t-shirts! Panty liners! Taco seasonings!  It may well have been good enough to call it a successful long-weekend without even visiting a Lonely Planet Top 25 sight!

Shoe Shopping

Shoe shopping happens once a year here in our household.  It starts by pulling out all the kid shoes in the house and seeing who fits into what now, tossing those with holes and figuring out what each kid needs.  I take the girls to Famous Footwear and I need a drink about halfway through.  Maybe, Famous Footwear should start offering wine “tastings” along with their back-to-school sale??  It’d most likely end up in more money!  We start by each kid getting their feet measured.  Hey, don’t wear the name tag that says you’re a shoe fitting expert if you don’t want to actually measure feet!  Just saying.  Then each child proceeds to run/walk/crawl through what they believe to be their section of shoes, pulling out shoes that draw their attention, trying them on and then moving on to the next shoe.  As you can imagine this does result in quite a disaster….which I do try to mitigate and clean up but hey, maybe that wine tasting would be helpful for the shoe fitting “experts” as well.  I then try to corral one child and focus them on what kind of shoe they need in the price range I deem acceptable.  Lavender was fairly easy.  She needed tennis shoes and Scarlett quite happily found shoes with a “10” on the box, put them on Lavender’s feet and she refused to take them off.  Sold! Scarlett tried on a few pairs but she’s in that odd size of between toddler but a little too small for kids.  Nonetheless, she found every unacceptable shoe to try on (i.e. those with heels, seriously!) before I narrowed her to finding some dress shoes.  Until she found the cowboy boots in the boys clearance section.  Please, no one tell her they were in the boys section!  I was then informed that she was not taking them off her feet until I promised to buy them for her.  And she was damn cute but cowboy boots as your dress shoes in Spain?  argh!  I actually called Jeff to ask if I was crazy to let her pick cowboy boots.  He said she was expressing her individuality.  Then I moved on to helping October.  Did I mention the pitfall of her having too many choices?  The pair she really wanted wasn’t in her size and were in the “clearance” section (and if by clearance you mean $3 off, then yes, it was the clearance section!).  The dressy flats all had one issue or another so she moved onto dress boots.  She had a pair of brown Ugg’s, suede black, black leather with buckles, zippers AND ties, and one other similar suede black pair with a heel.  October melted down on how she liked them ALL and how could she decide.  She kinda liked this one, but she liked this one as well, OH!  Commence the rolling on the floor and shaking of the head over the decisions to be made.  She’s 8.  I intervened and said no to the Ugg’s and the pair with ties, buckles and zippers — we’d never leave the house!  She finally picked a very nice pair with an “excellent, rounded toe” as she explained.  October also needed tennis shoes and since I had just again learned my lesson of offering her too many choices, I picked three pairs that I thought wouldn’t make us look like obnoxious Americans (have you seen kids shoe styles recently??), that were the right price and a durable brand.  She chose a very nice blue pair of New Balance shoes.  No lights, no neon yellow, no studded sparkles.  I tried to explain to Jeff how shoe shopping goes with our three kids….he may just need to watch the surveillance videos.


Scarlett – cowboy boots






Yeah – she got lights and studded sparkles.


The complete cowgirl outfit!


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