Friday, November 21, 2008

The Joy of a NeedLess Blog

Hi my friends-

So here's the thing...

I am absolutely knee deep in Christmas card orders and last minute holiday photo sessions. And since this blog is all about simplifying I am focusing on getting my orders complete for my clients before the holidays so I can enjoy them with my family.

I have some fun things I am doing for Thanksgiving and will share this weekend. One of them I got from the website It's great...and somewhat realistic.

So slow down and enjoy the holidays. I will be back in no time!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What's Cookin'?

Not sure what's going on with this looks much better than this...or I wouldn't eat it.
I do not consider myself a cook as much as I am a coordinator of food. Some people have the gift of creativity in the kitchen and I am in awe of that talent. But for my family they eat very simple dishes with some (dare I say?) prepackaged/prepared foods.

Ahhhh! The organic police have probably sounded the alarms, but whatever. Rice-a-roni is still king and Stove Top Stuffing can pull up a chair too. After kid's don't really eat...they graze. In fact, right now as I type dinner is ready...but they are still full from the bananas they had earlier to counteract the Halloween candy they had before that.

Life is about balance. Some prefer to carefully walk down the middle, but I prefer to zig zag my way through life.

Dinner tonight: Chinese Steak and Cous Cous

The meat is some cut of steak that a friend gave me from their share of a cow. (Yes, we are in Texas.) With garlic and herb cous cous (packaged) and steamed edamame (frozen).

All I did was throw some sesame oil in a skillet, brown the steak and then right when it was done I put soy sauce and garlic on the steak and then added some fresh spinach on top of it all. Put the lid on, took it off the heat. Made the cous cous in 5 minutes while I microwaved the edamame. Super easy and tasty.

I usually serve dinner up family style on this cool white plate that someone left at my cookie swap party in 2006. If it is yours, so sorry...but you are not getting it back. It is now an heirloom.

Happy Election Day!

NeedLess Deal of the Week (Nov. 3 - 10)

Ione: Honey, don't waste good lip gloss.
Andie: I don't know what I'm doing.
Ione: Wishful make-upping.

You won't believe this deal!

Makeup for $1 at And not a moment too soon since my kids have taken my makeup brushes hostage and my blush is in a million pieces.

The word on the street is that Nordstrom bought e.l.f. out and they need to sell their current merchandise since they will be changing the packaging. Whatever the reason...I just scored a whole new face of makeup for a little over 20 bucks.

Enter the code ECTUTAY when you check out for an additional 25% off!

I "splurged" on a few things, but here's what I ordered:

Natural radiance blusher - $1
Brightening eye liner - $1
Wet gloss lash and brow mascara - $1
Brightening eye color - $1
2 Plumping lip glazes - $2
Shimmering facial whip - $1
Clarifying pressed powder - $1
Shielding hydro-tint - $1
Glow/fair concealer - $3
Lengthening mascara - $3
Travel makeup brush kit - $5
Dark red nail polish - $1

subtotal - $21
minus discount of $5.25
plus shipping $6.95

grand total $22.70

I love getting new makeup! I will just have to keep it out of the reach of my little bloodhounds. They can smell out anything new and destroy it in record time.

Don't need or use make-up? Then buy some plumping lip gloss for your mom/sister/wife/girlfriend/daughter for a stocking stuffer or a quick pick-me-up.

No matter what age every girl feels better with cute sunglasses and lots of lip gloss!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

What will my grandchildren say about me?

As many of you know, Obama's grandmother passed away last night in her home in Honolulu. She played a vital role in the life of Obama and no matter what side of the political fence you are on...or if you are riding must agree that a woman who could impact her grandchildren in such a way must have been amazing.

In a statement released today Barack and his sister said this about their grandmother...

"She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength and humility. She was the person who encouraged us to take chances."

Don't you LOVE that! I am going to hang that on my fridge to remind me of the power we have as mom's and (someday) grandmother's to positively affect those around us.

My passion for many years was to be a missionary in help...not to evangelize. But that dream fell short due to some medical complications. So after many weeks of counseling I came to terms with the fact that I gave up my backpack and Birkenstocks (it was the nineties) for an equally fulfilling and challenging mission of being a wife and mother to my sweet little family.

God works through us....not always in the way that we want...but in the way that we need.

So live in the moment! Share what you have with who you're with and enjoy this life!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Facebook Powers Activate!

Hi Friends...if you've just joined us via Facebook then WELCOME! (If you are not on Facebook...then go now,'s awesome! And then join the "Friends of The NeedLess Experiment" group.)

So here's the scoop...
We are a fun group of people (okay, mostly cool moms) who are trying to live a simple and happy life. No keeping up appearances...just a place to try and figure out what is important, share what works and then let go of the rest.

The site is still in the very beginning, but browse around, have fun, and if you want to pass the word then we will welcome whomever you send.

Have a great day today!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NeedLess Guilt

Today at my MOPS group we had an awesome speaker named Paige McCoy Smith. You local Dallas mom's may recognize her from Good Morning Texas. She is The (not so) Perfect Parent. It was great! All about letting go of the guilt.

You know that guilty feeling you have after exploding at your children when they have (for the fifteenth time) asked for the Halloween candy in the pantry...just an example. Not that it has happened to

Or the guilt we feel after chatting with Neighbor Nancy who is the "perfect" mom and chairs the school fundraiser, while teaching her children a third language, while preparing a healthy dinner in her perfectly clean kitchen in her amazingly decorated house that is probably paid for ten years ahead of schedule just because they had the extra cash from selling the eggs she raises in her chicken coop in the backyard. You know you know someone like this...but let me tell you something - she has her dark days too. We just can't see them behind her Chanel sunglasses.

The problem with guilt is that it doesn't really do anything healthy. It is not a meaningful motivator. If you are doing something out of guilt instead of joy then you are really just selling yourself and your family short. And most guilt comes from comparing. So stop!

I always compare myself to ultra-organized moms who seem to have it all together. (Which, of course is comparing my weakness to their strength. Not fair at all.) I make myself crazy. But my sweet friend made me feel good today when she said, "the same trait that leads to your disorganization is the same trait that compels you to make Kleenex ghosts with your kids."

Sniffles...I love my friends...where are those dang tissues now?!?

So let your hair down ladies and be real with each other. You will be much happier and you won't have to pretend that everything is alright all of the time. Face it - houses get messy, kids get messy and lives get messy. It's okay. That's what makes life interesting!

Spooky Tree complete? Check.

Alright, so we wrapped up our Spooky Tree Centerpiece before Halloween. I like to be pretty hands off during their art projects, so I wanted to figure a way out of drawing cats and bats and witches myself. Then, when I was searching my pantry for something sweet, I found Halloween cookie cutters still in the package. What a fun surprise! See sometimes it is good to be minute you are digging around for some chocolate and the next you have found something you didn't even know you had.

Anyway, Lulu got in on the fun this time with Molly and little man stayed busy by jumping off the arm of the couch into a huge pile of laundry. More proof that I don't do it all...and that laundry is still my nemesis. Darn you dirty clothes...I say with my fist to the sky.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Looking for me?

I am around...just crazy busy with photography business stuff. 'Tis the season. Yeah for holiday family photos. It is always such a great way to finish up the year.

If you are ever wondering where I am check here and keep up with my business happenings. But I will also continue posting NeedLess stuff.

Friday, October 17, 2008

NeedLess Deal of the Week (Oct. 18 - 24)

OK, so the last Deal of the Week seems like it may be a dud. Thanks to whoever left the comment about your terrible experience with SwapTree. I LOVE feedback! It saved me a lot of NeedLess stress.

So on with the new Deal of the Week. And I know this is an awesome company because I chatted with the ladies who created it at The MOPS Convention in Grapevine a few weeks ago.

It is a weekly menu planning service that costs approximately $7 each month. (I really do not care to plan out my menu and grocery list so the NeedLess stress outweighs the money spent.)
You have the option to choose from a wide variety of meals for the week and it creates a printable grocery list and recipe cards. They are always creating new recipes and rotating favorites. The recipes are kitchen tested, kid-friendly, take less than 30-minutes to prepare AND the average cost of the dinners is about $85 per week! Sweet!

They also have freezer meals so you can choose to cook on the weekend and pop them in the freezer and pull out a meal a night.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NeedLess Challenge of the Week: Purge your House

Sometime I feel as though the walls are closing in. If I didn't have so much stuff then I wouldn't need so much space then I wouldn't need to work so hard to pay the mortgage on our house with all of the stuff in it. Circular logic, I know.

So my challenge this week is to throw away or give away 12 things a day for 5 days. Just keep a bag by your back door and chuck it in there. By the end of the week you will have 60 less things taking up space and perhaps helping out someone else. I am a huge fan of passing it on.

The only things I am really determined to keep are a few very sentimental my rocking chair that I rocked all of my babies in...pretty special, not going anywhere and their baptismal gowns. But the 1000 pieces of artwork and scrap paper I have saved from my first child will be getting the fine tooth this week. I have a few dozen from my middle and one from B. I seriously have two big Rubbermaid tubs of Lauren's preschool artwork. What was I thinking? More ideas on how to organize that mess soon.

Repeat as many weeks as necessary.

Just remember...Space is good. Blank is beautiful.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Put that credit card away...

If you haven't noticed...the advertisements for home decorating and home improvements have ramped up over the past couple of weeks. In fact, Pottery Barn has already started their endless e-mail campaign to pressure me into buying everything I need to make the holidays perfect. I honestly get a warm (and sometimes fuzzy) feeling when I look at their beautiful pictures of staged homes and think...

Ohhhh, if only I had those dishes/napkins/place mats/candles/gourds/place cards then my children will have a perfect Thanksgiving. Then when they get older they will bring all of their friends home from college because I always provided the most amazing linens and perfect turkey and stuffing. Then when they get married they will always choose our house instead of their in-laws for Thanksgiving. In fact the in-laws will feel so inferior to my autumn themed finger-tip bathroom towels that they will crumble under the pressure and join us too. As long as they do not bring their Jell-O salad.

But then I snap out of it and remember my Thanksgivings as a child...Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, the smell of my mom's broccoli and rice casserole, and the delicious pies that my Nanny whipped up without a single recipe. Sure there are some not-so-happy memories associated with Thanksgiving, but I think that it is because I had some mean cousins and used to have unrealistic expectations of this one day.

Now I know. I will try to let go of those expectations. My life is not a catalogue and I will not give into the pressure to charge NeedLess things. My children won't recall if the house was in perfect autumn attire, but they will remember that we enjoyed the day, thanked God for our blessings and shared food and fun times with our friends and family.

I have to admit it though...I really, really want to play flag football someday.

By the way...I am working on getting some fun Thanksgiving stuff together. But right now I am working on no-sew, last minute Halloween Costumes for under $10. That will be posted soon. Yeah!

Friday, October 10, 2008

NeedLess Deal of the Week (Oct. 10 - 17)

This is so cool!
You can swap books, cd's, dvd's and video games online with other people from all over the United States. All you pay is postage and they even have a handy postage label printing feature.

Directly from their website:

You list the books, CDs, DVDs, and video games that you want to get rid of and the books, CDs, DVDs and video games that you want and swaptree does the rest.

Swaptree will show you all of the items that you can receive for your items. Clicking on a "GET NOW" link next to an item will show more information about both the item and the trader you will be receiving the item from.

If you decide that you want to initiate a trade for an item, then an e-mail will automatically be sent to the other parties in the transaction. If the other traders accept, the trade is completed and you will then be provided the shipping address where you need to ship your item.

Happy Swapping!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cut and Paste

Hi Friends-

I know that I have many democrat and republican friends and some of you are even independent weirdos like me...but I have had it with all of these e-mails about Barack Obama being the anti-christ...or a terrorist or worst yet...a Muslim. Dun, dun , dunnnnnn.

So I decided to actually reply all after receiving an e-mail from a family member, once again, spouting all sorts of untruths and racist comments and my favorite...out of context quotes.

I am totally NOT POLITICAL. I usually delete these messages. But I am tired of them. I am just a hippy mom-of-three and humanitarian who wants to be inspired.

So please know that this will be my only political post.

Here is the message just as I sent it...feel free to cut and paste and actually "reply all" next time you get one of these messages.


This is why I cannot talk politics with very many people I know.

This is what is wrong with America…people take things out of context or misinterpret or are plain ignorant and create their own version of the truth in order to scare others into being like them.

Please don’t be part of the problem and if you insist on continuing to forward these so-called “truths” then leave me out.

These quotes are completely taken out of context. I mean…give me a break. It is written in red and quadruple bolded in order to play on your ignorant fears of Muslims. My thought is “so what if he is Muslim?”

Muslims are not the enemy. Only a small group of Muslim extremists are responsible for most of the terrorist attacks. The religion is actually quite beautiful when not taken to an extreme. If you would like to learn more about Islam then you can check it out at:

There will always be extremists. A true Muslim is just as disgusted by the violence of Muslim extremists as I am as a Christian sickened by Evangelical Fundamentalists. Have you seen Jesus Camp? Watch it…pretty scary.

E-mails like this only spread ignorance and fear. Can you find anything uplifting about your candidate and then try to gain support that way?

Please, please…I beg you. Before you vote, investigate what your candidate will do to make a better world for our children, your grandchildren.

Vote out of conviction…not fear or racism.


Hope all is well.


P.S. – If you are interested in truth about Barack Obama give this a try…

Sad Crap and Free Music

I have this uncle who is awesome. Well, actually two of them. And they are both awesome. But anyway, this one once told me that if you don't want to be sad, then to stop watching "sad crap" on the tv. Imagine it in a charming Oklahoma accent.

It was great advice.

I rarely watch the news because it makes me feel helpless and overwhelmed. I get my news from The Daily Show (kidding...kinda) and online. But I have also stopped watching all of those crazy violent shows. The other night instead of watching CSI:Miami we watched the RPS Championships. Yep...that's right the Rock, Paper, Scissors National Champioship. It made me happy.

I also have stopped listening to the melancholy tunes of my college years.

So in search for a free internet music station I found is called the music genome project. You can create as many commercial free stations you want based on a particular song or artist. It then searches for other music with the same qualities. You've gotta try it.

What's your Barometer?

What is it in your life that indicates that you have had enough?

You know-
... like enough running around at a breakneck speed...enough spending money that you don't have...enough carting the kids to 101 activities...enough spending hours in the same 10 square feet in your kitchen...enough multi-tasking with a smile on...just enough.

I have weight and my house. If everything has spun out of control then I don't take the time to run like I love to do and the house spirals out of control. I gotta weight is up and my house is a disaster. But the good news is that I recognize these signs. So now I can focus on getting life back in line.

Things are actually starting to get better, but it is hard to tell from looking at my house. (Or my bum.) But it is. I have to pull everything out before purging the unnecessary and then reorganizing what's left. Are you following the metaphor here?

Most times our lives have to explode before we pay attention to the important things.

So figure out your barometer and nip what is truly bothering you in the bud. (When I was a kid, I thought the saying was 'nip it in the butt' very appropriate now.)

Bottom line...take care of yourselves. Even Mother Teresa took one day off a week. Every single week.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Keep Your Promises

Sprinkles...little things that make life sweeter

I used to always make promises to the girls and then unintentionally not keep them. Life gets busy. I would forget (or hope that they would forget) and then I would have this negative dialogue running through my head about what a terrible mother I am and imagine the therapy bills my children would incur as adults.

So now I only use the word promise if I really, truly mean that I will 100% do it. Otherwise, I just say that I will try my best and it is up to them to remind me so that I don't forget.

Today when we were at the Teddy Bear Picnic at the Arboretum the girls really wanted to get their faces painted, but the line...seriously...would have been over an hour long. So instead I promised I would paint their faces when we got home if they would just go play for a while and give me a little break.

So they did...for over an hour. Unprecedented.

On the way home 2 of the 3 fell asleep and I sooooo didn't want to go to the store to buy face paints, but I did. I promised.
It has been ages since I painted a face, but the girls LOVED it! They played "flower princess" and "butterfly princess" for over an hour while I cooked dinner. The sounds of heavenly harps should start playing now...because that rarely happens in my house.

My NeedLess Situation

I have received lots of e-mails and questions about The NeedLess Experiment.

So hopefully this will answer some of the questions...

Currently, My NeedLess Situation is stress. I need less of it in my life. And since a big source of my stress is money (the company my hubby worked for lost it's funding over a year ago) then I am trying to do things that reduce my spending and at the same time only do things that feed my soul.

I don't do it all. People say that to me all of the time. I don't know how you do it all? For one, I do not sleep much...stress keeps me up. And two, you should see my house right now. If you could take the top off and look down you would see an unorganized pile of clothes that need to be priced for a garage sale...folded laundry on the coffee table...unfolded laundry in the basket...dinner dishes in the sink...beds aren't made...I have a mound of work on the dining room table...and my studio is piled with empty boxes for another project I am working on...but everyone is having a great night. The laughter right now is contagious.

And that is what is important to me.

Just think about what brings stress into your life and then try to make the changes needed. For example, if you have plenty of money, but your marriage is not going well then focus on ways to reconnect with your mate. And get rid of those things that are bringing stress into your marriage. Except the can't really get rid of them yet.

Have a great National Night Out!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Manage your Expectations

I love this advice: manage your expectations. I first received it from my friend Jen when I was expecting my toddler to feed herself without making a mess. I have heeded this advice in many ways, but lately for myself. I have this distorted idea that everything must be "perfect." (Those crazy, unrealistic expectations I have for myself sometimes creep back in.)

So recently we had an opportunity to go on our first camping trip ever. (2030 list #16) Some friends who were self-proclaimed "camping divas" planned it and were willing to teach us "urban" parents how to camp. I knew that in order to go we were going to have to borrow supplies from friends and I could not go out and spend hundreds of dollars on the tent and sleeping bags and everything else I would need to make it "perfect."

Also, in order to go we were going to miss a school ice cream social, a birthday party and a soccer game. But I knew this would be a great opportunity to learn how to camp with some awesome friends and to give the kids a wonderful memory.

It was great!

We made the right decision.

NeedLess Challenge: Make a Life Priority List

Repeat after me...We cannot be all things to all people.

We cannot be all things to all people, we cannot be all things to all people...keep repeating until you convince yourself of that truth.

I used to live my life for others. Trying to do everything I could for my mom, my sister, my brother, my grandparents, my husband, my kids, my friends, the PTA committee, the homeroom mom, the preschool board, my church, my clients, my MOPS group, my bible study...and on and on and on.

And it all came crashing down last fall. I could no longer do it all and I was in a debilitating depression for months because of it. Over and over in my head I would say, "You are lazy, unorganized, and not good enough."

Why are we so tough on ourselves? I have always expected more from myself than anyone else ever has. Everyone would say. "I don't know how you do it all."...and I would just smile. But inside I was yelling "HELP! I can't do this anymore." Someone save me from myself. I brought it on by saying yes to everything I was asked to do. I thought, "No one else can do it as good as I can."

If this sounds familiar than I encourage you to slowly get out of any commitments that are stealing your joy. And only keep the ones that feed your soul. I know half of you are yelling at your computer screen, "but if we all do that, then nothing will get done." Or "one person will be stuck with it all!" Not likely. The world won't come crashing down, I promise. We are all energized by different things. And so what if we don't have a committee on every single decision or project that needs to be done.

So start saying, "No" without apology. I learned several great ways to say no from a wonderful mom at the MOPS convention. Her name is Julie Barnhill and I love her outlook on life. These are what she suggested...

Thank you for sharing that idea with me, and no.
I hear what you are saying, and no.
I understand that you would really like that, and no.
I hear you, you could be right, and no.
Thank you for asking me, and no.
I hear you, I care about you and no.
Let me tell you a little story about a man

Isn't she funny? Alright so here is my challenge. Make a list (mental or physical) of what is truly important to you so you can know when to say yes and no, thanks.

I'm Back!

Convention was amazing! I learned so much about how to be a better mom and wife and woman. It was great! And what I liked best was that most of the advise was to simply prioritize what is truly important to you. And to STOP COMPETING...for heaven's sake parenting is not a competition.

Think about will you ever win? What is the evidence? I know some amazing people who had terribly absent parents and then I know some people who had very involved and caring parents and they are miserably negative and exhausting to be around.

So in the coming days I will be blogging about some great resources I found out about and how to manage our expectations of ourselves and our families.

If I met you at convention and you are just now joining us then welcome! I hope to start a movement of slowing down and loving life!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Off to Convention!

In a few minutes I will be dashing out the door leaving my sweet husband with our three children alone on our anniversary. I know, I know...but he knows I love him and sometimes you just got to get out of town. At least to Grapevine!

I am headed off to my very first MOPS convention. I am so excited to meet new mommy friends and gab with my girlfriends who are also going. There are ten of us in all! Yeah, so fun!

Keep watching because I will be blogging from the convention and maybe I will have some cool new ideas or some funny stories to share. Who, me? Stories? Never...

Happy Anniversary Boos! Yeah for nine years!

Deal of the Week (October 1 - October 6)

I have found it!

Albertson's won again...

They are having a mix and match extravaganza!

I bought ten packs of frozen Steam Fresh veggies for 5 bucks! Seriously. The catch is that they are on sale for $1 but if you buy ten then you get an instant savings of $5. And it's just not veggies. They have Steam Fresh rice as well.

So now I have two weeks worth of quick and easy dinner vegetables. (We have fruit with lunch and veggies with dinner. I know 5 a day...but I am doing the best I can with my picky little eaters.)

Check out their ad for details and I am so sorry if there is not an Albertson's in your week I will do an online "Deal of the Week!"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Laundry...enemy number one!

I can't stand it...dirty clothes everywhere. Before I had children Sunday was our laundry day. We were able to wash, dry, fold and put away every single dirty piece of laundry in our house. But now the hamper has a revolving door and I feel like there is never a time when laundry is "done."

So what to do? Even when I had Maria, Maria, as amazing as she is, we still couldn't get it all done.

This makes me draw one of two conclusions.
1. We have too many clothes or 2. I am going about it the wrong way.

I was chatting about this very perplexing situation with one of my girlfriends and she had an interesting suggestion. Each person in the house should have their own laundry basket. Then do one basket of laundry per day. If it doesn't get folded just put the basket back in their room and have them either fold it or hang it or wear it.

That makes since...there are five of us and on Saturday I could wash towels and sheets. Rest on Sunday. "You know... because of God." (Twenty NeedLess points to anyone who can name that quote about a pair of missing "Sunday" panties...probably just gave it away.)

Anyway...chime in. How do you do laundry? comparing my life to a hamster in a wheel...I am very sensitive about that. I am not a rodent!

New Domain Name

Hi all!

I changed my domain name to

Mostly because when you put together the words "needless experiment" it looks like "need less sex experiment." Not quite what I am going for.

Hopefully this won't be an issue for any of my readers...if you really need a support group for the "oversexed" I am sure there is one out there. But this blog is for us ol' married folks.

ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Mommy School

Pictures from Mommy school. It only lasts an hour and a half an we do it Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The best part is we can learn and play in our jammies!

This is our schedule...
9:00 am - Free draw on dry erase board
9:15am - Circle time (days of the week, weather, songs about our theme, shapes, letters, etc)
9:30am - Dance time (turn on the music and rock out while I get our activity ready)
9:45am - Activity/Craft time (usually very simple caddy anyone?)
10:15am - Clean up and have snack
10:30am - Put on a video or tv show that can teach them something while I blog :)

After that I try to get them outside and playing.

That reminds me I need to check Craig's List for a swing set.

This is a picture of Papa. (my grandpa, her great-grandpa)
Check out the eyebrow...that's singular...eyebrow.

Why I do Mommy School

I used to have this list of questions that I would casually work into a conversation with moms at the park/mall/preschool to see if we could be friends. You know things like..."Did you see Oprah yesterday?" and "How old are your children?" and most importantly, "Where do they go to school?"

With most of my questions there wasn't a right or wrong answer. I was listening for how they answered it. Except for one question..."Where do your children go to school?" If they answered, "Oh, I home school." Then I would discreetly pinch one of my kids to make them scream and then we would run for the car.

Seriously? I can't be friends with someone who home schools. She is probably amazingly organized and patient and brilliant and disciplined and all of those other things that I am not.

But here I am teaching my two little ones at home because sending them both part-time to preschool would:
  • cost $600 a month in tuition, and $150 in supply fees each semester
  • plus gas to get there and back twice a day, which means that we would have to keep both cars (My goal is to become a one car family.)
  • plus the stress of getting them up and dressed and there on time
  • plus packing a "peanut-free" lunch
  • plus buying teacher gifts, director gifts, party favors, and treats for every holiday

Too much!

So I have decided to teach them at home and socialize them by being involved with my awesome MOPS group each week on Tuesdays. Which by the way is the only day I am allowing myself to use the car. We'll see how that goes once it gets cold. I am a wienie in the cold weather.

Bottom line? I am LOVING it!!! We have so much fun and are closer than ever. I don't answer the phone or check my e-mail. It is just an hour and a half of undivided attention for them. They love it too.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My NeedLess Goals


1. Spend Less, Save More.

2. Only nurture relationships in my life that fill me up.

3. Focus on experiences, rather than "stuff."

4. Spend more time with my children and husband.

5. If it doesn't feed my soul then move on.

Specifics (updated 1.9.11)

1. Learn to say "no" more often when asked to give of my time.

2. Only spend $125 a week in groceries and $50 on weekend dinners & entertainment ...yikes!!

3. Only use cash...double yikes.

4. If we can do it ourselves, than do it...but if it causes more stress* for me to do it then consider hiring it done.

5. Practice the Sacrament of the Present Moment.

*Before going back to work in 12.08 I had given up my housekeeper and lawn men in order to save money, but I am happy to report they are back! It gives them another client and us piece of mind knowing we won't have to spend what little time we have together as a family mowing the lawn or deep cleaning the house.

So all of this is in good fun, right? But I have very high expectations that The NeedLess Experiment will catch on and we will form an international community called "The NeedLess Society." We will be featured in Real Simple Magazine, Oprah will invite us to lunch and we may even win some sort of award...perhaps something that rhymes with "global cheese guys."

Spooky Tree Centerpiece

We couldn't wait any longer to start making our spooky crafts for Halloween. Our first is a Spooky Tree Centerpiece. I actually just made this up on the fly yesterday morning when our plans changed and I needed a craft for "mommy school."

I bet you have this stuff laying around your house and yard too. learn from the doing. So let them get dirty and messy. Put them on the patio or garage floor if you need to. The final product could (and probably will) be prepare yourself. Manage those expectations. No Martha's allowed in the NeedLess Society.

We made the ghosts to hang on it out of tissues. Tomorrow we will be making the cats and bats...maybe some spiders. Honestly it is going to be whatever we have on hand in the craft closet.
p.s. I kept the littlest one busy with our quick kit art caddy.

Activity: Spooky Tree Centerpiece


1 clay pot with dirt

3 to 5 short tree branches

foam paint brushes

paint (fall colors)

glitter (a staple in any art project)


ribbon or string



1. Clean the outside of the pot.

2. Prepare a place to create. Plastic or vinyl tablecloths are awesome!

3. Let the kids paint and glitter the pot

4. Poke the sticks in the dirt (gathering the sticks could be an adventure all together!)

5. While the pot dries, Make the ghosts by wading one tissue into a ball, placing in center of other tissue and tying with ribbon. You remember this don't you?

6. Draw faces on the ghosts with a marker (google eyes anyone?)

7. Place ghosts in tree, put on your table. Which table is up to you...

Quick Kit Art Caddy

Sprinkles...little things that make life sweeter!

Quick Kit Art Caddy

It's just what it sounds like...throw a bunch of art supplies in a little caddy (ours is an old play doh thingy) and have it on hand to keep the kids busy while you are cooking dinner, doing homework with an older sibling, making the grocery list, checking e-mail, trying to have at least a 5 minute phone conversation, etc.

Here's what is in ours:

safety scissors

glue stick

pad of paper

scraps of construction paper



scotch tape

colored pencils

last weeks oreo...kidding, kinda.

When in doubt, just throw it in there.

They will make something amazing, but most importantly give you 10 minutes to breathe.

The 2030 List

With all of this talk of living with less I really want to focus on giving our children amazing experiences. It is where we tend to error to the side of overindulgence. Our children do not have a ps2 or playstation or xbox or whatever else is out now, but they will get to go places and experience things that will shape them for life.

As a family we have this ever-evolving list of things we want to do together.

It's the 2030 List.

It is a list of things we want to do, places we want to travel and other experiences we want to have before the year 2030. That is the year our youngest kiddo should be graduating from college (no pressure B) and we figure by then Lu will be 28 and well on her way to having her own family. (snif, snif, I can't talk about that right now.)

It is a variety of things including:
learning to snow ski, growing a garden, going to a U2 concert, attending a World Cup match, reading To Kill A Mockingbird as a family, working on a dude ranch, seeing an opera at the Sydney Opera House, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, touring Italy on bicycles and on and on and on.

One that I am particularly excited about is to surf in Hawaii. So recently I came across this website of how to surf. What an amazing gal!

Isn't it great how we all have gifts that we can share with eachother!

With the holiday season coming up, let's think of the gifts we can share or experiences we can give rather than the goofy "stuff" that we buy.

Share the Joy Oatmeal Cookies

picture coming soon...i didn't want to make a batch today because my jeans are a little snug.

These cookies are so yummy. I can't even tell you why, but their simplicity makes them undeniable. I have made them several times this month and my friends keep asking for the recipe, So here it is...

They are called Share the Joy Oatmeal Cookies for two reasons.

First, they make a bunch! For my house I usually cut the recipe in half. I know I could freeze the other half and save for later...but I would eat them all! Secondly, you can share the joy by adding your favorite things in them...chocolate chips, pecans, raisins, m&m's or my personal favorite...toffee chips.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
4 cups old-fashioned oats

1. Mix together first five ingredients
2. Add dry ingredients.
3. Drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet
4. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes (6 minutes for soft, 8 minutes for crunchy)


Monday, September 29, 2008

Friday Night Friends

Sprinkles...little things that make life sweeter!

Friday Night Friends

Stop worrying about your house not being "ready" for company and start living in it! Have a Friday night friends potluck! Invite your friends over for hors d'oeurves and cocktails and have everyone bring something. Or if you have children just keep it simple...pick up pizzas, make burgers on the grill, or in the winter make stone soup. Remember that children's story? So fun!

The goal is to focus on the relationships and not obsess over the cobwebs on your ceiling fans. No one cares. And if they do...repeat after me..."They really aren't your friends." Run the other direction as quickly and calmly as possible.

Start this Friday! Bon Appetit!

Slow Cooker Pork Loin w/Mashed Potatoes

Super Easy and could possibly be enough for some lunch box leftovers.


2 to 3 pound boneless pork loin, trimmed

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tbsp. Montreal seasoning

salt and pepper

1 small onion thinly sliced

1 to 2 pounds red potatoes

1 tbsp butter

1/4 c milk

1 tsp. garlic pepper seasoning

green beans

olive oil, salt and pepper to taste


1. Thaw pork loin overnight in fridge

2. Put pork loin, vinegar, seasonings and onion in slow cooker

3. Cook on high 4 hours or on low 8 hours

4. When done turn off and let rest while preparing side dishes

5. Make mashed know how to do this, right?

6. Make green beans with seasoning

7. Serve up on your Family Platter and let the kids think it's chicken.

Why do kids eat chicken better than any other meat? Weird? I mean don't they know that pork is the other white meat? So picky.

Pumpkin Patch!

Yesterday we went to the pumpkin patch at our church to let the kids play and pick out some "baby pumpkins" for a scarecrow project we will be doing later in October. Don't worry...I will share all of the details with lots of pictures when we get around to doing it.

I will actually be at the Pumpkin Patch every Sunday from 3pm to 6pm taking candid portraits, but it was a great excuse to get out of the house (yes, it is still hot...91 degrees yesterday.)
The girls were both so excited to teach Bennett about pumpkins and share in our tradition!

With my little eye...

I saw something like this at a retreat not too long ago. They had rice in their bottle, but I used barley since I was out of rice and was trying to use what I had in the house.

The barley is a little dusty in the bottle, so I recommend rice if you've got it.

Activity: Eye Spy Bottle

1 clear bottle (water, bbq, ketchup, dressing)
rice (enough to fill it 3/4 of the way)
sheet of cardstock or construction paper (or funnel if you have one)
treasures to put inside (alphabet beads, shaped beads, etc)
hot glue gun or super strong glue like Aileene's

1. Clean and dry bottle (best if done in advance)

2. Once the moisture is out of the bottle, have the kids fill with the treasures

3. Funnel the rice in using the sheet of paper or actual funnel...but who has one of those handy?

4. hot glue the lid on.

It can be used as a fun eye spa game on it's own or you can actually play it with the kids. Shake the bottle, find something and say "I spy a yellow heart." Then shake the bottle and hand it to the child for them to find the yellow heart.

Good fun!

NeedLess Litmus Test

Trying to decide if something is "NeedLess?"

Here is what you should ask yourself...

1. Is it to the detriment of my body, mind or spirit?

2. Is it to the detriment of my family's finances, safety, health, or spirit?


3. Is it filling a hole that needs to be filled with love?


a spa pedicure...

If the money and time spent on a pedicure is to to the detriment of your family's finances or time together, maybe not such a good idea. But if you have plenty of money and time to spend getting a pedicure then go right ahead.

a bottle of wine...

If you do not have the money and you are using it to numb a problem...probably NeedLess. Not an alcoholic and have plenty of funds then go right ahead and grab a girlfriend and reconnect. Remember...relationships are what make life worth living!

shopping at the mall for a new handbag or clothes or even stuff for the kids...

If you are paying with credit and trying to portray a lifestyle that you cannot afford...definitely NeedLess. If you have plenty of money and your ego does not rest upon the tags of your clothing or accessories then go for it.

Seriously you really need to spend $300 on a pair of shoes? Could that money be better spent feeding a homeless person? If you think I am harsh, then sorry. But to me the only thing worse than buying designer knockoffs is spending money on things to feed your ego.

Have a great day!
I wanted to end on a sweet note...soapbox no longer needed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Harvest Oatmeal

There are a few dishes I can't wait to make each autumn. And even though it may be cool and beautiful everywhere is still 90 degrees in Texas.

But the pumpkin patch is in full that is how I mark the beginning of fall each year.

Try this super easy breakfast recipe out with your family. My kids always ask for more sugar so you may need more than the recipe calls for...

Harvest Oats

1 apple, sliced and diced
3 1/2 c. water
pinch salt
2 c. oatmeal (non-instant)
1 tsp. butter (more or less to taste)
1 tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds

1. Put apple, water and salt in medium pot and bring to boil
2. Boil for three minutes
3. Add oats
4. Turn to simmer and lightly boil for 5 minutes
5. Take off of burner and add remaining ingredients
6. Divide among bowls and top with a little milk, if desired

Thursday, September 25, 2008

NeedLess Guidelines

Each family will have to determine your own NeedLess Guidelines, but ours are pretty simple and will continue to evolve as we grow as a family.

So far they are...

1. Eat dinner together as a family each day. (pray and play high, low, ha!)
2. Focus on our mental, spiritual and physical health individually and as a family.
3. Enjoy what you do, do what you enjoy. (aka - soccer, piano, art, dance)
4. Give of our time and treasure.
5. Cut spending to mostly needs and only buy with cash.
6. Manage our expectations - there is no such thing as perfection.

last updated 1.09.11

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NeedLess Deal of the Week

Week of September 23rd - September 29th

This week's needless deal is an 80 ct. package of baby wipes for $1 at local Albertson's stores.

These are great for throwing in the car, diaper bag, extra changing stations...wherever. And they are good. Unlike the Sesame Street wipes I bought last week at Dollar tree.
Those stunk...literally.

Friday, September 12, 2008

NeedLess Savings

So over the past nineteen days I have gained 5 pounds. No kidding. So I started paying attention to what I was eating since we have been on a much tighter grocery budget. ($125 a week for a family of five, no eating out, and that includes diapers and other household items.) I looked back at my purchases and in order to save money I cut back on my fresh fruit and vegetables. Yikes! And I have three growing kids to worry about.

I looked back at the bread store purchase and realized that, yes, I saved over $8 on three items (2 bags of donut gems and a box of cherry pies) but I would have NEVER purchased those in the past. So really instead of saving eight, I wasted three. I came to the conclusion that if it is something you don't or wouldn't normally purchase, even though it is a great buy, then you really aren't saving money - aka NeddLess Savings.

This week I vow to get back eating healthy and to figure out how to do it on my budget.

We'll see how it goes this afternoon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Angel Food

I have many reasons for creating this experiment and openly discussing many details of my life. (Probably so much more than you ever knew to hope for.) But the most important reason for this experiment is to show that simple can be enriching.

We don't need everything we think we need.

When discussing the experiment with one of my friends she told me about Angel Food Ministries website. What an amazing and generous organization! It is a national, non-profit grocery co-op with thousands of host sites. Check it out!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Listening Rocks

Today is the first day of Mommy School this week and our activity was making these Holy Listening Stones. Now since I have a bible study on Mondays and MOPS on every other Tuesday...I don't plan anything but home activities for Wednesday. It has worked out well today since it is raining and 11am and we are all still in our jammies. Well, except for Miss Molly who has already changed four times.

Background: A few months ago we met an amazing woman who created First Steps Spirituality Center in Colorado Springs. Now I know what you are thinking...Colorado Springs? Mega churches and evangelicals. Not exactly. She is a Methodist minister who specializes in the spiritual well being of children and teens. Awesome!
Reverand Leanne Hadley has a wonderful website and in our short time together she taught us how important it is to listen to our children. We are their first teachers, true. But when it comes to experiencing God we can learn so much from each other.

Activity: Holy Listening Stones
All of the information is on her website but ours are pictured above. I would love to tell you that it was a beautiful experience making these with the little ones, but mostly it was me managing my expectations of a 3-year-old and 18-month-old and keeping the dog from carrying them off in his mouth. Only one stone broke and it was the smile. (I tried not to overanalyze that and just tossed it and made another one.) The stones are used to help the children communicate their feelings during Holy Listening.

A definition of Holy Listening by Rev. Hadley is provided below:

"When a person is fully present with another person: listening; not judging; not distracted; not analyzing; not diagnosing; and trusting that as they listen, God has joined them to offer wisdom, guidance and healing. As we enter into Holy Listening, God is present, and there is an air of holiness and sacredness." -First Steps Spirituality Center

I plan on using the stones with my children even if, at first, they just play with them.
The quote of the day: "Molly, please stop throwing the Holy Listening Stones at your brother."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hidden Camera Day

Some days are Documentary Days and others are Hidden Camera Days.

A Documentary Day is one of those wonderful days that everything is smooth sailing and you wish you had a camera crew following you around to capture the sheer genius of your mothering. Other days, Hidden Camera Days, stink. Everything keeps going wrong and spiral down, down, down until finally you look for the hidden cameras because surely someone is behind this madness.

Unfortunately, today I was seriously looking for those cameras.

Tell me if you can identify.

At 4:30am my six-year-old climbed in bed with us because she had a bad dream.

Right as I dozed back off around 5:00am the dog started making noise because he wanted to go for a walk. So I took him for a walk.

Got back right as the toddler was waking...gave him a sippy cup of milk. By then my preschooler was up and wanting her chocolate milk and "shows."

Started packing three lunches since Lu had school and the little ones were staying for lunch during my MOPS steering meeting. (If you have not heard of MOPS and you have preschoolers check it out and find a group near you! It is awesome!)

Then I spent thirty minutes making an egg casserole and muffins for my MOPS meeting. As I went past the kitchen to take a shower my plan was to turn off the casserole in the lower oven and leave the muffins baking in the upper oven. I would then go take a shower, get dressed and arrive back in the kitchen to perfectly prepared breakfast treats for all of my friends. I would be the envy of all the mothers.

Instead I turned off the muffins and left the casserole baking. So I arrived to underdone muffins and a burned casserole.

Dressed the kids and rushed them into the car. We had fifteen minutes to make it on time to the meeting and get set-up for the amazing guest speaker I had arranged months earlier. (Are you exhausted yet? Just wait...)

We pull into the parking lot as I receive a call from the speaker informing me that she has been "throwing up all morning and couldn't make it." I thought to myself, "Of course you are. Why wouldn't you be?" But I told her no problem I would improvise and to feel better.

I hussled down the sidewalk with an overcooked casserole, two back packs, a purse while holding the hands of my little ones when I realized that my strapless bra was now around my waist.

(Note to self: find stroller on Craig's list.)

At the meeting I won the MOPS Meal silent auction. Yippee! It was a prepared meal from one of our mentor moms. It was a steal at $12 and my plan was to take it to a friend that night who I had promised dinner since they had just had their fourth baby the week prior.

Hang in there it is almost done...thank goodness!

I arrived home at 3pm soaked from the torrential downpour that occurred for the approximately ten minutes I was loading my car at the church. As I opened the door from the garage into the kitchen I was shocked to see that the floor was covered in glass. Apparently our new dog, Henry, somehow got on top of the counter and licked the mixing bowl clean right onto the floor.

Lu steered the younger two away from the glass as I started sweeping it up. Afterwards, I vacuumed the floor to ensure that every shard was up. The sound of the vacuum sent Henry tearing into the garage. And what had I left in the car with the doors open to unload after I brought the kids in? The meal, of course.

So when Henry came tearing through the kitchen with half a tortilla hanging out of his mouth I just sat in the floor and screamed. Which was actually quite a relief. And since the kids were playing in the back of the house and the vacuum was on they didn't even hear me.

So I screamed again.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

One week down...

Today was tough. It was one of those down days, but I tried to keep it together for the kiddos.

We went to our amazing church and heard a beautiful (as always) sermon from pastor Jack. He spoke about Rawanda and the work he will be doing there over the next 3 weeks. What a tragedy. I can't beleive that we just stood by. It makes me very sad.

We will add them to our prayer book.

After church we usually go out for lunch and spend around $20. Instead we came home for some mac-n-cheese and leftover pizza. No big deal. It actually worked out better since Bennett went down for a nap shortly after lunch. Lauren needed new shoes so Mike took the girls to Target. Don't you love Target? Cute stuff at great prices and you don't have the "Wal-Mart" guilt.

Dinner: Meatloaf, dijon potatoes and green beans.

Old habit: Going shopping on the weekends as an outing. Spending money for entertainment.

New habit: Do things together as a family that doesn't involve spending money. Today we went on a bike ride through our neighborhood.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Zoo Day!

Finding something to do to get out of the house on a Saturday that doesn't involve money is not that tough when it is a beautiful fall day or even a brisk spring day, but in the blood boiling, humidity of Dallas in is pretty tough.

So after a morning of summer cabin fever we loaded up the kids and headed off to the zoo. It was a no cost trip since I have a membership for my photography business.

It was great! We packed snacks and drinks and loaded the wagon so we didn't have to rent one there. But the pressure to buy something around every corner was exhausting. Dippin' Dots, souvenirs, photo booths...they even charged to pet the sting ray. Really?

I just kept telling the girls that we weren't going to spend our money on those things. I felt a little like a loser. But I keep telling myself that it is all in how I present it to them and myself that will create new habits...and hopefully leave some of those old ones behind.

P.S. - This chimpanze threw a rock at some international tourists that were mocking him. Pretty funny. And free!

Dinner: Take and bake pizza and salad ($10)


My children eat sprinkles on just about anything. At first, it was just to help them eat certain things - oatmeal, malt-o-meal, green beans, whatever. And really how much sugar could they really add? (Don't answer that...) So sprinkles are my idea of those little things in life we can do to just make things more fun, more memorable, and a little sweeter.

I will add more each week so check back often!


Sprinkles Archive

High, Low, Ha!

The 2030 List

Friday Night Friends

Keep Your Promises

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gorcery Day!

Victory is mine! I paid cash for groceries today and only spent $104. ($91 at Wal-Mart, $13 at the bread store)

I had never gone to a discount bread store before. It was pretty amazing.

I got all of the following items...

2 packs cinnamon raisin english muffins

3 loaves of whole grain bread

1 loaf white bread

2 bags of little donuts (something I wouldn't normally buy...)

1 box of cherry pies (ditto)

2 packs of hamburger buns

1 pack of hot dog buns

1 pack of hoagie rolls

1 pack vanilla cookies

1 bag of tortillas.

Seriously...that is crazy. My freezer is full of bread and I planned my menu around what I could get at the bread store. We are having bbq sandwiches, soft tacos, hot dogs, and maybe even breakfast for dinner (my six-year-old's favorite).

My goal for this week is to not go back to the grocery store for anything but milk. My kids drink a ton and if we need more we can walk to the 7-11 up the street. Surprisingly, they charge less than the grocery store for milk.
Dinner: Hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans, chips and fruit. Friends brought dessert.
Walk, don'drive: 0 miles...the dog hid my left shoe. I promise.

Making Changes

Old habit...

Friday dinner through Sunday lunch we ate out. It was our "treat" for staying in for the week, but we on average spent the same on those five meals than we spent on a week's worth of groceries.

New habit...

Instead of going to a restaurant on Friday night we are inviting friends over for dinner. They bring dessert and provide the dinner. So last night we fed our friends and ourselves for around $21 which was part of the grocery budget. We made some great memories, plus we have lots of leftovers for lunch on Saturday.

More background...

I am equating this entire experiment with losing weight. After the third baby I had 25 pounds to lose. Being rather daunted by this task, I just went back to how I ate before and hoped for the best. But things had changed and my metabolism was not what it used to be. So I joined Weight Watchers and slowly the pounds came of as I accounted for every single thing that went into my mouth. It is still something I am keenly aware of everyday. All of the little decisions add up, which is how we need to view spending money.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fair Trade

Shortly before we became pregnant with our third baby in 2006, I did a few triathlons and even completed an Olympic distance triathlon to raise money for Team in Training.

Being a triathlete was a dream of mine since I was a teenager. It was one of those unspoken goals. Like being a Rockette, or country music singer or sous chef in Paris. I didn't share it with too many people since I couldn't swim the length of the pool and didn't own a bike.

So like I stated before, I tend to be a little competitive. Therefore, I couldn't just borrow a bike. I had to go to buy one...a really great one. Which has been displayed beautifully in our garage since baby three made himself known over two years ago.

A friend of ours started training a few months ago, so I let him borrow it. And then when I had the idea for the experiment I asked him to trade me...his wife's trail bike and baby trailer for my road bike. It was an awesome deal all around.

While our oldest was in school today I took it out for a test "errand" run. It went well...really well! Maybe I can talk the hubby into selling our second car.

Bike, don't drive: 8.1 miles
Walk, don't drive: 1.4 mile

Photo coming soon...

Could you do this?

Adios amigos! (add def)

We should have started this experiment when the lawn was dormant. But it is growing, growing because of all of the rain we have had in the past few weeks. But are lawn men...mi amigos...are no longer coming to visit us each Thursday. We, I really mean Mike, will be mowing the lawn saving us $30 each week.

This has been a loooong week. And it is only Thursday.

More background...
Can you tell that we are big fans of hiring things out? In fact our three favorite words are "hire it done." Which is how it should be given the fact that we are both small business owners. We do not have much time and the time we have we want to spend with each other and our children. But...and this is a big but...all of this "hiring it done" is to the financial detriment of our family, which is the definition of needless. I can no longer justify not saving for my children's college fund, but spending close to $500 a month in maid and lawn services.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Peer pressure

A few weeks ago I talked to a friend of mine about doing the half-marathon in December. I was so excited and started training. Then two weeks later I was bumped by a car. Me as a pedestrian, not my car was bumped, but rather my person was bumped. Kind of a sign that I should probably focus on my newly adopted "less is more" life philosophy.

Anyway, today during soccer practice he asked if I was still doing the race. I told him no and proudly explained the need less experiment. He looked at me like I was crazy. Such a bummer. But really...I know how I am...if I did the race I would need to spend money on the entrance fee, and I would need better running shoes, and a couple new jog bras, and probably an ipod since I would be running so much. And definitely some winter running clothes since I only ever really run in warmer weather. So before I know it I will be out hundreds of dollars. Let's just be conservative and estimate it at $400 in savings.

This same sweet friend also invited us to a concert and a ski trip. The ski trip is going to be our one splurge for the year. It is an annual daddy/daughter trip and we really strive to teach or children the importance of experiences rather than material objects. Last year was the first time they went and Lauren still lights up when she talks about it. Which is a lot more than I can say for the Lite Brite that she received for Christmas last year. It is still in the box.

As for the concert we are going to be out of town visiting family.

Dinner: BBQ chicken legs (instead of breasts) leftover pasta, and green beans

Walk, don't drive: 1.44 mile

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Maria, Maria!

I had to tell Maria that we could no longer use her services. I only cried three times. Maria is our sweet, sweet housekeeper who came once a week for $80 a visit. She was amazing! I would come home and the house would be sparkling clean, laundry done and put away and beds freshly made. It was better than therapy. I made sure I found another family for her to go to, before we started the experiment. But man...that is going to be the biggest sacrifice.

Today was the first MOPS meeting of the year. What an amazing group of women! This is my fourth year involved in this group and they feed my soul and rejuvenate me. (This will be my only break from the two younger kids since we decided to pull them out of private preschool saving us $550 a month in tuition, $200 a semester in supply fees and $30 a week in gas driving back and forth.) After my MOPS meeting I usually went through a drive through for lunch for me and the kids. I have always been a dollar menu kind of girl so that only saved me about $7.

Dinner: Green beans and a package of Knorr stroganoff with some of the ground beef from last nights dinner. (Don't worry I took out the beef before adding the taco seasoning.) We ate al fresco and focused on talking about our day instead of the food. It was great! We even let the kids run in the sprinklers when they were done.

Walk, don't drive: 1.4 mile

a bit of history...
My husband and I have been together sixteen years (married for nine) and have done everything pretty much on our own. Right out of college we lived in a city where we earned less than what we needed to survive. So we charged the essentials like food, gas and clothes for our jobs. We were both quickly promoted and within a year bought a house. So instead of staying in the apartment and paying off our debts we bought a little house in a great neighborhood. And that has seemed to be our pattern for nine years. We have spent about 105% of what we make. Not a whole lot more, but just enough that over the years it has added up.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Day 1

Today was the first day of school for my first grader. She was so excited to be back in school with her friends and on a routine. Usually I would have gone to Starbucks to celebrate and grab a grande, skinny, hazelnut latte for around $5, but instead I had coffee at a friend's house.

As for the pressure of back-to-school shopping...
Last year we spent around $300 at Gymboree on back-to-school outfits and probably about another $200 at Children's Place and of course paid on credit. So this year I resolved to only spend money on what she needed...and the truth is she didn't need much. Her clothes from last spring still fit and were in good shape so we just bought a few items at Marshall' shoes, 2 new shirts and a pair of shorts for around $50 which we paid for in cash. And she looked and felt great!

But I have to tell you I really, really had to fight the urge to follow the August tradition of a back-to-school shopping extravaganza. But in doing so we saved $450.

I did have a moment of weakness and bought her a really cute backpack and matching lunch box and had them both monogrammed for a grand total of $60. Which is a lot for a bag for a six-year-old...but it was in June...before we started the experiment...and I paid cash.

Dinner: Crunchy tacos, beans and corn. I forgot the cheddar cheese ($4) and normally I would have called Mike to pick some up on his way home, but we did without. Note: Tacos with mozarella aren't so tasty.

The Experiment

Over the past few years I have become keenly aware of all of the excess in our lives. I call it social noise. The preceived need to have what your neighbors have and to do what your neighbors do and to vacation where your neighbors vacation. You get the point.

Sometimes I get wrapped up in it. I know this because I am a natural born competitor. I want to be the best at whatever the perceived competition is at the time. But I am done. I am done living my life as a competition. I am done spending money I don't have just to keep up appearances. I just want to live a simple life and be okay with the fact that others may see me as weird or bizarre or the worst yet...poor and socially inept.

So here it goes...the "NeedLess experiment." I am calling it that so that I can realize that we do in fact need less than we know. We have become so fixated with stuff that it is clogging our spirits from being who we were meant to be.

Follow me on this journey in the "quest of less."