Experiences Over Stuff

Valuing Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

My daughter turned 4 on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend.  We had plans to be in the Twin Cities for the weekend for our annual pilgrimage to the Great Minnesota Get Together – the Minnesota State Fair.  As my husband and I were talking about the trip, I suggested that we stay the night in the cities on Friday and go to the Minnesota Zoo on Saturday to celebrate E’s birthday.

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

We had been to the Minnesota Zoo one other time – a little over two years before when she was almost two and I was 17 1/2 months pregnant (not really, it just felt like it).  We enjoyed our time, but didn’t have a huge desire to go back.  For the last three years, we have purchased a family pass to a much smaller zoo (Chahinkapa Zoo) about 20 miles away.  During the summer months, the kids and I go once a week and they love it.  It is your quintessential small-town zoo.  It is small and not especially pretty.  However, they have an amazing amount of awesome animals for a zoo their size.  Our favorite are the tigers, monkeys, orangutan, snow leopards, grizzly bears, bison, camels & cougars.  Being accustomed to Chahinkapa made us compare the Minnesota Zoo as we walked through and we were left feeling like it was so spread out and E got bored because there was so much time between each exhibit.

Although I remember not being especially impressed with the Minnesota Zoo, I thought it would be fun to go back and try it again.  Because of our annual zoo membership, we were able to get our admission tickets for half price, which made it affordable.

When Josh and I talked about spending E’s birthday at the zoo, we decided that that would be her birthday gift.

We’ve talked about getting to a place with our kids where gift giving is more focused on experiences than stuff, but when they were really little, that was hard.  It’s still not a concept that our four year-old completely comprehends, but she’s old enough to understand that she already has a lot of toys and it is a gift for our family to be able to do fun things.

When we told her that we were going to the cities for the weekend, we explained that we would spend her special day at the zoo and told her all of the fun things there are to do there (in addition to regular zoo animals, they have an aquarium, two big parks, a petting zoo and a splash pad) and that the focus of her day would be doing fun things together, learning and enjoying time with our family.  She probably didn’t hear anything after splash pad, but we ere on the side of creating a habit of explaining why we do what we do.

We weren’t in the zoo more than ten minutes when I looked at my husband and said “I love this experiences over stuff thing.”  Our kids had the BEST day.  Everything that I remembered from two years ago went out the window.  The time between animals was spent talking about what they just saw, thinking about what it would be like to be that animal, singing songs and running.  (I apologize to all other families who had to share the zoo with us that day.  I’m sure we were loud and obnoxious to watch).

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

I don’t know if E will remember this day.  One of her nicknames is “Steel Trap” because she remembers stuff that astonishes us on a daily basis, so we’ve got that going for us.  But I know that she won’t miss the toys that we would have bought her instead of (or in addition to) this day.  She received a few (awesome!) presents from family and we are not at a loss of activities for the kids to do around the house.

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

She was celebrated for a whole day.  Our family is better because she’s in it and because of these days.  These shared experiences weave together with all of the other memories to create a family culture where we not only love each other, but really like being with each other.  That’s (relatively) easy when our kids are four and two.  But I know enough to know that that gets harder as they get older.  So, my hope is that by creating these traditions now, we lay a foundation where we don’t place too high of a value on getting new or more stuff, but rather on learning and exploring and experiencing things together.

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Sidenote: The above picture is a great example of getting over yourself.  A very kind stranger offered to take it for us, and I didn’t want to be the person who looked at it and said “That is the worst angle on me.  I look terrible.  Could you please take time out of your day with your family to indulge my vanity?”  So, instead, I said ‘Thank You’ and cringed on the inside – I hope.  When I look at this picture, I have to remind myself to see my beautiful family on my daughter’s 4th birthday, not an angle that makes me look approximately 40 pounds heavier than I am – I hope.

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Capsule Wardrobe Update

Tomorrow marks the eleven week anniversary of starting my summer capsule wardrobe.  Today is the 66th outfit comprised of the 45 pieces that I chose in early June.  I post my daily outfits on Instagram where you can see, in detail, what living the capsule life has looked like these last eleven weeks.

For the first 6 weeks, it was a honeymoon.  It was new and exciting and I really did love it.  There was no going back.  I was already thinking about my fall capsule.

Did it achieve what you wanted it wanted it to?

My goals in creating a capsule wardrobe were simple: I wanted to be excited about wearing any of my options, I wanted to feel good in everything that I wore and I wanted it to be minimalistic.  Once I decided to commit to the capsule lifestyle, I also decided that I wanted to use this as a tool to try to encourage myself to wear clothes that I wouldn’t normally, such as dresses.

I achieved all three goals – for the first six weeks.  By week seven, I was no longer excited by what I saw in my closet.  I was bored.  Now, it’s mid-August and I am really bored.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I think that would be true of my summer wardrobe whether I had done a capsule or not.  And I don’t believe that boredom is a good reason to accumulate more stuff.  This whole experience has been a great lesson for me in contentment.

I was more intentional about trying to switch things up so that I wasn’t wearing the same outfit repeatedly.  Which led to making combinations that I wouldn’t have done without my capsule.  That felt like a win to me because even though I was wearing the same items, it didn’t feel as repetitive.

What I've learned from my summer capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.comWhat have you learned?

I don’t wear dresses.  Even when I only have 45 items in my closet from which to choose, and a quarter of those items are shoes, I still don’t choose a dress to wear.  I really like both of them that I have, but not enough to pull them off the hanger and wear them.  I don’t know why.  I can’t explain it.  I just know that when I’m standing in front of my closet trying to decide what to wear, and I see those dresses, my first thought is always “Nahhhh……”

What I've learned from my summer capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.com

What would you do differently?

I would include less “off-season” items, and by that I mean the items that I included for what I consider to be cold summer days.  I included a jean jacket, cardigan, 2 – 3/4 sleeve tops and 3 long-sleeve tops.  I get very warm very easily, so it takes serious temperature drops for me to wear anything more than a t-shirt on my arms in the summer.  I have worn each of those “warmer” items a handful of times, but I know that if I would have 3 of those items instead of all 7 that I would have been just fine.  And I would have enjoyed having 4 more t-shirts or tank tops that would have been worn more than those long-sleeved options have been.

Through 52 days I’ve worn each of the 7 cooler weather items once.

What I've learned from my summer capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.com

Will you do a fall capsule?

If you would have asked me eleven weeks ago, I would have excitedly said “YESSS!”  While I don’t have that same level of enthusiasm now, I am going to try this again in the fall.  I’m wary of trying to choose a wardrobe that works as well on Labor Day as it does on Thanksgiving.  Theoretically, my fall capsule wardrobe would be for September, October & November, but the weather change from the beginning of September to the end of November in Minnesota is drastic.  I’m not sure how to make it so that I have what I need for that weather range, but also don’t feel like I’m including items that will only be worn a few times.

For instance, I like to wear shorts until the first or even second week in September.  For all of you who don’t live in the frozen tundra, that may seem obvious, but it’s a little bit of a stretch here.  I am stubborn, however, and insist that shorts season should go into September.  So, the question becomes, do I include one or two pair of shorts in a fall capsule that will, realistically, only be worn  handful of times?  I’ve thought that I could just not include them and break the rules and bust them out for the 4 or 5 times in the short window of time where my wanting to wear shorts overlaps with the starting of my fall capsule.

Which lead me to start thinking about whether I really need a definitive capsule wardrobe to achieve my goals.  Couldn’t I achieve the same thing by just super-minimalizing what I have in my closet and drawers?

I believe that the answer is yes.  But, for me, and I would presume a lot of other people,the self-imposed constraints of the capsule wardrobe give me parameters in which to work to give a framework to that desired minimalism.  Creating the capsule wardrobe is the means by which I draw the line for what I want my minimalism to look like.  It’s a way to hold myself accountable.  Not everyone needs that framework, but I’m discovering that I do.

If I had it to do all over again, this is what my summer capsule would look like:

What I've learned from my summer capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.com

Who’s with me on the fall capsule?  Let’s do this together!

 

What I've learned from my summer capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.com

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Always be Prepared

We do a lot of coming and going in the summer.  Summer is such a short season in Minnesota, so I am determined to capitalize on every warm minute that we have before it’s back to parkas and wool socks.  Which means most of our summer days are filled with some sort of outing.

We don’t normally do snacks – not because I’m opposed to them, but just because I don’t think to do it when we’re home and my kids don’t ask for them.  However, when we are getting ready to go somewhere, I always grab a snack for them and stash it in my diaper bag.  I have this strange fear of being away from home and not having food for my children should they need it.  Maybe it stems from my dislike for being away from home and hungry with nothing to eat.  It never occurs to me, when under our  roof that my children may be hungry, but the moment we walk out from that roof, I can’t imagine not being prepared for hunger.

My go-to grab & go snack in this instance is the GoGo Squeez Fruits & Veggiez pouches.  I’m not a health nut, but we generally try to eat food that is good for us.  On the occasions when my kids are going to eat a snack, I’d prefer that it not be completely void of nutritional value.  The GoGo Squeez pouches are ideal because they’re something that my kids love and it’s good for them.

I prefer the Fruit & Veggiez pouches because one of my parenting mantras is “sneak in vegetables wherever you can.”  We eat regular, non-vegetablized applesauce from the jar at home and I’m pretty certain that my kids don’t know the difference.

I was having a particularly terrible day yesterday.  My husband hasn’t been home until after the kids’ bedtime every night this week and we are all feeling the Dad Void.  I’m crabby.  They’re crabby.  We’re a recipe for disaster.  By 4 o’clock on Thursday I thought that I was going to lose it.  So, I did what I always do.  I put them in the stroller and pushed 75 pounds of toddler around town to burn off my frustration.  As we walked out, I quickly grabbed a couple GoGo Squeezes – you know, just in case.

We met a friend, who graciously gave the kids popsicles, which reminded them that they like eating yummy things, so as soon as the popsicles were gone, they each asked for more snack.  I shrugged off my grumpiness, dug the applesauce out of the diaper bag and the kids joyfully ate their snack while watching for ducks on the lake.

I’d like to tell you that the fresh air and applesauce changed all of our moods and the rest of the evening went swimmingly.  Yeah right.  But, for about ten minutes yesterday, none of us were yelling, so I call that a win.

I mean, just look at those eyes.

And that face.

We have also had the regular applesauce and the yogurtz.  I was super excited about the yogurt because my two year-old struggles with the packaging of go-gurts, but I accidentally bought the banana flavored and it did not go over well.  I’m going to try them again with the strawberry flavor.

The Fruit & Veggiez pouches are not only a great snack, but they are also a staple in the kids’ lunches when I pack them.  See what else I include here.

You can see how I store & organize the applesauce pouches in our pantry here.

Another great use for these applesauce pouches is to put them in ‘Sick Kits’, which are little baskets that I bring to friends when they or their kids are sick.  I started doing this last winter when a friend gave us one when my kids were puking and I thought I was going to lose my mind.  It was a life-saver that day.

 

This is not a sponsored post.  I am receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing this post.  As always, all opinions & recommendations are my own.

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Online Coupon Organization

We ordered our Christmas cards from Tiny Prints last year, and they took three weeks to get them to us because their printers broke.  It was no big deal because I got them in plenty of time to send them out before Christmas, so I didn’t think anything of it.

In February, I received a $50 gift card from Tiny Prints as an apology for taking so long to get our Christmas cards to us.  This was not the typical $50 off $150 order – it was just a $50 credit. Woot.  Woot.

The code for the credit expired on July 31st – which seemed like forever away.  I remember thinking that I would use the credit to order my kids’ birthday invitations and/or thank you cards.

And I completely forgot about it until last week when I was cleaning out my InBox on our desk.  I was so frustrated.  I just let $50 get wasted.

I am a firm believer in not buying something just because you have a coupon or it’s on sale.  The only justification for purchasing something is if you need it, and if you are able to save some money when buying it, well done.  For this reason, I throw approximately 90% of the coupons we receive in the garbage.   The big one right now is 20% off at Carters or OshKosh.  I think we get that coupon once a week.  But it can’t be used on most of their sale items, and only 20% off at Carters is still more than I spend on my clothes, so those go in the trash right away.

Every once in a while, we will get a keeper, and I have a tray on my desk where I keep stuff like that.  Because coupons aren’t the only items in that tray, they get lost in the shuffle.  At this moment, other items in said tray include: Cards that I received that I need to respond to, a list of dates of my daughter’s milestones in her first months (for her baby book that I’m just now starting), tickets to the Iowa football game Josh and I went to last fall, my dream house layout and some Bible study notes.

I can’t imagine how that $50 voucher got lost in that mess. #sarcasm

I have this sorter on our desk (similar), which I purchased in college to create a spot for my messy roommates to put the mail.  It hasn’t had a purpose since moving to this house and was just sitting on my desk.

Don't let those online coupon codes expire because you forgot you had it. A quick & easy way to see your offers and use them! - maximizingdaysblog.com

Don't let those online coupon codes expire because you forgot you had it. A quick & easy way to see your offers and use them! - maximizingdaysblog.com

I decided to pull all of the coupons out of my tray and put them in here.  Separating and putting them in a visible spot is the first big step in not forgetting about them.

Don't let those online coupon codes expire because you forgot you had it. A quick & easy way to see your offers and use them! - maximizingdaysblog.com

I also decided to write the expiration dates of each coupon a neon post-it and adhere it to the coupon.  Then I sorted the coupons by date, with the nearest expiration date first.  I’m at our desk once a day, so I catch a glance of those bright pink notes each day.  I’m reminded that they’re there and how long I have to use them.

Don't let those online coupon codes expire because you forgot you had it. A quick & easy way to see your offers and use them! - maximizingdaysblog.com

This doesn’t mean that I use all of these, because I don’t always have something to buy, but at least now I don’t lose the chance to save money because I was unorganized.

Don't let those online coupon codes expire because you forgot you had it. A quick & easy way to see your offers and use them!

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Summer Momiform

I wrote about my go-to outfit this spring, which was part of the catalyst for becoming a capsule wardrobe-er.  I have committed to the capsule wardrobe lifestyle and post my daily outfits on Instagram.  Because I post what I wear everyday, highlighting my summer momiform seemed slightly redundant, but for those who don’t follow the daily attire on Instagram, I thought I would keep with this new-found tradition.

My summer lifestyle is what I like to call tri-polar.  There are days where I’m going to be super active with my kids either biking or going for walks, which require tennis shoes and athleisure apparel.  I work one day a week in an office, where the attire is business casual, but where it’s my one chance to dress like a real grown up.  Most of my days are somewhere in between where I’m playing with my kids, but also running errands and getting stuff done around the house.

When I created my summer capsule wardrobe, I was intentional about having pieces in there that fit all three of these lifestyles.

My spring momiform was an outfit that I would have worn for all three of these lifestyles, but the summer heat doesn’t allow that, so I have three summer momiforms.

Summer Momiform: Athletic, Casual & Office apparel from a 45 piece capsule wardrobe - maximizingdaysblog.com

Do you find that you wear the same thing every day in the summer?  Or do you switch it up?  For those of you who have a capsule wardrobe, do you find that living the capsule life means wearing the same thing more often?

Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons.  I’ve already started to think about my fall capsule wardrobe and I’m ready for boots and scarves and pumpkin spice lattes.  But I will miss my chino shorts. If I had to pick one outfit to wear all summer for everything, it would be my casual outfit.  A comfy cotton tank, some JCrew chino shorts & my trusty Sanuk flip flops.  That’s summer comfort right there.