Those of you who were readers this time last year will remember how excited Peter and I were to finally pay off our line of credit. We paid off $13,000 (thousand!!) in less than five months. That was no small feat and it definitely didn't come without major sacrifice.
The crazy thing was that we didn't really have anything to show for that debt. It's not like we'd been on vacations or had a house full of clothes and toys and electronics. It was debt that had slowly grown over the course of a few moves and times when I wasn't working, unexpected costs associated with buying our first house, etc. We're not big spenders. We never had been. Thirteen thousand dollars worth of debt notwithstanding, we're really very careful with our money.
We haven't taken a family vacation in the last eight years (so none since even before we had kids), we buy used or second hand when possible, we never just "go shopping". When we get money for Christmas or birthdays, we have to fight against the urge to just put it in the bank. When we get our tax return or other lump sums of money, we always do the sensible thing.
The problem is that "the sensible thing" is never much fun...
This years tax return will once again be spent wisely (savings, extra van payments, our portion of my dad's funeral marker), used sensibly (some needed home renos), or put towards otherwise worthy causes (donated to charity, a new World Vision sponsor child -our fourth!!). But... BUT... Peter will once again be getting some retro pay for something-or-other, and he has decreed it fun -or blow- money. NOT A PENNY OF WHICH IS TO BE SPENT SENSIBLY!
So last weekend we bought two wine kits that we've started*, the first of which should be ready in about three weeks.
We also decided to buy the boys brand new bikes**.
Anther idea we had was to start a list of fun family things we can do this summer in the Ottawa area that we'll set money aside for. Things we wouldn't normally do, or wouldn't do as often. BECAUSE WE'RE SENSIBLE WITH OUR MONEY. Things like bowling (which the boys LOVE), Upper Canada Village, the Diefenbunker, maybe Park Omega again (last year's trip is here and here), taking the boys to Toy Story 3 in 3D, possibly renting paddle boats on Lansdowne Lake. We'll put all the ideas in a jar, then pick one whenever we have a free day together, knowing we have the money to do anything (and everything) in the jar. I'm super excited about this idea and can't wait to have a ton of fun with the boys this summer. Not everything in the jar will have a price tag, but there will be some activities that we just wouldn't normally be able to justify. So, Ottawa peeps, fire your best ideas at me!
More to the point of this post, however, is that some of that blow money has been ear-marked for a purchase that was previously considered absolutely UN-necessary, ILL-advised, and pretty much the antithesis of frugality and sensible money management... a Nintendo Wii (had to throw the "Nintendo" in there just incase you've been living under a rock and didn't know what a plain "Wii" was *rolls eyes at self*).
Liam has, for the last year, been bearing the full brunt of the unfairness of the fact that WE DO NOT OWN A GAME SYSTEM. Even though ALL OF HIS FRIENDS OWN A GAME SYSTEM. And, in his mind, every (other) living being on the planet MUST OWN A GAME SYSTEM. His insistence that we, too, must own a game system was enough to make me swear one would never enter our home. That sense of entitlement is one of the very reasons that we hope to move our family to Africa in the next few years... to shock it out of them! And yet last night I found myself frantically calling all the Best Buys and Future Shops in a 50km radius in a desperate attempt to track down a store that has them in stock so I can buy one in time for Easter.
Let me assure you that it was not Liam's heavy pout that finally broke us down. Rather, Peter and Liam (and Simon to a lesser degree) have started playing a couple of computer games together -only on the weekends- and they really enjoy it. I will keep claiming that I don't know how to play for as long as possible, which not only gets me out of ever having to play, but also ensure that it's a special father-son activity. Truth be told, Peter's been drooling over a Wii since they came out and is secretly giddy that I've finally relented on my strict no-game-system attitude (no, my iMac doesn't count thankyouverymuch), cause, you know... it's for the kids.
So there you have it. We're getting a Wii. Four words I swore I'd never write/say. (sigh)
Don't be silly enough to think that we're just going to hand it over though. No siree. Even though we'd already made the decision to buy a Wii, we told Liam that we would get one once he learned how to ride a two-wheeler. Not in a negative-consequence-for-if-you-don't-let-go-of-your-training-wheels kind of way, but as a reward/encouragement/motivator for learned to ride on two wheels. This might seem shocking to some of you who don't parent by way of rewards, but you have to understand that Liam only got a bike near the end of last summer and, up until now, has been very, VERY nervous about even riding up and down our driveway. He lacked confidence, feared falling (ie, failing... what can I say? he's MY SON), and had zero motivation to learn to ride. Even WITH training wheels.
So about a week and a half ago, we sat him down and explained that we knew that riding his bike made him nervous and that he wasn't very excited about practicing. We also explained that, with summer coming, all of his friends would be wanting to ride bikes and we knew he wouldn't want to be left behind. We told him that we knew he'd love it once he figured out how to ride a two-wheeler. We told him we knew he'd do great if he'd just commit to practicing every day. And we told him that, once he'd mastered riding on two wheels, we'd celebrate his effort and determination... by buying a Wii.
Folks, 10 days out and he can speed up, ride, right himself, slow down, and stop. He needs to practice starting and turning, but a few more days and he'll be golden. Ergo my frantic calls to track down an available Wii.
Our plan is to have a scavenger hunt in place of/in addition to an easter egg hunt with the Wii as the treasure.
Liam doesn't know that we were going to buy the Wii regardless.
I guess he'll find out when he reads this post! *hi grown up Liam*
*Okay, that's a bit sensible since we'll be paying less than $5/bottle for the exact same wine that would cost $28/bottle at the wine store, but this is not something we would have been able to fit into the budget and, hey, it's wine! wine + summer = sangria 'round these parts! yummo!)
**Okay, we initially had decided to get the boys brand new bikes, but then I googled "ottawa used bikes" and found myself dragging the boys down to Bike Dump and spending $30 for a bike for each of the boys... but cmon! Thirty bucks! For two bikes! (*hangs head* I'm such a tightwad)
P.S. A post without pictures! *shock*