July 27

I’m sitting blankly with so much to say and yet nothing at all. It’s a feeling I’ve become accustomed to lately, in so many situations, but for those who know me personally- it’s not like me at all. Admittedly, I’m the girl who usually always can come up with something to say. Yet today, at this moment I find myself reaching.

July 27
It was on this day, two years ago, that we rolled a U-haul into Raleigh. It was exciting but terrifying. We had a small savings that had to be extended an unnamed period of time, no jobs, a temporary-permanent residency (thanks to dear friends), and a faith that somehow it would all work out. It was a wonderful leap of faith but to be honest if it wasn’t for a visit with my Dad in June, yes the June merely 30 days prior, it probably would’ve taken us much longer, if ever, to take said leap. He made it known too, and he took full credit for us making the final decision to uproot our lives. Truth be told, he’s probably right.

July 27
It was on this same day, two years ago, that I embraced my father for what would be the last time. We had met up in Atlantic City for our annual family reunion vacay. It was a middle of the road stopping point for us and a way to make the move more of a vacation and I’m so glad to have those memories. We all celebrated Charlotte’s first birthday together the day before. Played in the sand, ate yummy food, laughed so hard and had incredibly deep heart-felt conversations. I can’t help but reference a Jimmy V- clip that has been a constant in my mind and morning routine (blame it on the day job) but that week was a full-day, everyday. We laughed, we thought and we cried every single day. It was beautiful and I can say that morning when we left I was moved to tears, again. Something about that hug, that smile and that “take care of yourself; remember where you came from and you’ll do just fine” was different than the hundreds of times I’d received this very same go-get-em speech I’d received for the last decade+. I had an inkling on that day that it might be the last time I hear it, but no one really let’s themselves go, there.

Today, July 27, has become such a bittersweet memory for me. I owe so much to my Dad and everything we’ve accomplished thus far is in large part to him. He never doubted us. He believed in me, he believed in Brent, our marriage, our family and it is so hard to think about how wonderful the feeling was as we pulled into the driveway that day. Greeted by some of our dearest friends, ready to take on this new chapter in our lives, but I knew even on that day that something wasn’t right. I remember breaking down in the bathroom, but no one wants to think about it, no one wants it to be real and yet two years later, on July 27 I have that exact same feeling. Speechless.

I’m told time heals and obviously it does, well not so much time for me but my faith. Regardless, life goes on, I get it; but dates are a funny thing. They all seem to be associated with something, good or bad, happy or sad. Dates are either something to look forward to or something to avoid. Something that makes you cry or something that makes you smile, what a conflicting feeling it is when it stimulates both…

ox

A New Milestone of Spending

Life, especially with little ones, makes note of highlighting milestones. We capture these little-big moments with priceless photos and memories of such occasions. Some are exciting, others are terrifying but then there are those that are simply costly. Your first car, your first house, a college education- all $$$ items. In the world of wants v. needs all of these things, with your first car being an arguable exception, are needs (do not question the college education, I work in higher-ed) lol but anyhow, the truth is sometimes the most basic needs do cost money, in fact most do; and it really comes down to tight budget and careful planning and spending to ensure that we don’t unravel our wallets to meet basic needs.

Herein lies the Fowler’s latest milestone of spending: Back to School (BTS).

I’ve been dreading these last couple days, and the upcoming ten, for five years. Moms know what I’m talking about, the first day of Kindergarten. The preparation alone brings about an unwelcomed wave of emotion and instability. It invites a whole new level of worry, doubt and concern. It makes time speed up when all you’re trying to do is make it slow down. As a mom of girls, I also feel like the introduction of back to school shopping is a milestone in it’s own right. The prologue to the main story, important enough to read but carried throughout. When I was growing up BTS shopping was what we looked forward to all summer. Now as the mom, I look forward to introducing and carrying on this tradition but before I get lost in the planning and occasion of mother/daughter memories-in-the-making, my mind halts, what is this going to cost me???

Typically we do all of our shopping, Brent and I included, at consignment shops. I really appreciate teaching the girls that things go full-circle. I have very open and honest conversations with Madilyn about cost, savings, investment and taking care of our things, although the various items with marker drawings do not echo my parenting but I swear, I do have these conversations. My girls both know what the orange stickers mean at the grocery store, they are well aware of coupons and we are working on not teaching them about not being impulse spenders. So, when it comes to back to school shopping whether it’s for supplies or clothes it seems easy that one could get carried away. Especially with the first real occasion on the horizon for so many. To best stay on track and on budget I’ve decided to make and share a list of tips that I will try to follow while shopping and preparing for school.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

*Rule number 1: Shop at home first! Don’t simply print the list and head to the store when you have pencils, pens, erasers, scissors, fall dresses that haven’t been worn, nice jeans sitting in the back of the dresser, etc. Whether it’s school supplies or clothes I guarantee you can cross at the very least one thing off your list that you already have around the house.

*Don’t fall for the dollar store trap! Many dollar stores list their lowest price at $1. This may seem great but local box stores may cut prices even more. So shop around. We picked up college ruled spiral bound notebooks for $0.19 each. HUGE SAVINGS!

*Sign-up online. Many of our local kids shops have online fliers and coupons. I have an email address that I only use for this type of bulk mail. I go through it a couple times a week but what’s great is I always get the notifications for when shops like Once Upon a Child, Kroger or other kids boutiques are having major sale events.

*Pick one thing to invest in. Is there one item that you know you’re child will wear down? If so, shop around for the best price but maybe let this be that one “special item” that they can pick out from the mall. For Madz it’s shoes. She can wear out shoes like nothing, so buying shoes from one of the consignment shops doesn’t make a lot of sense since they are worn in/out to some extent already.

*Don’t fear consignment. I never understood the reputation and opinion many offer of recycled clothing. I give my clothes to these shops and if mine are good enough to be sold there then we are certainly not above shopping there and if anyone with a strong opinion ever tried to sell clothes at some of these shops I think they’d be surprised just how selective their process for buy back really is.

In the end, back to school shopping is really about the value of the time spent together. I don’t remember anything ever purchased, the memory of BTS shopping was a special day with mom or dad. A cheap lunch, lots of 1:1 time, and something that made me feel like I was growing up a bit. It’s a wonderful milestone that doesn’t have to cost a lot.

Good luck!
ox