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You Say Goodbye…

You Say Goodbye…

January 2, 2008

For a long time now I have felt very uninspired to write on my other blog. It had become something of a chore that I had ignored and then felt guilty about. I found that giving any sort of advice is difficult. My personal parenting motto is: Whatever works. In real life I generally deflect the questions that people ask me by asking them questions.

People usually have the answers they are looking for, they just want validation. It is with that in mind that I usually remind people that they are the expert on their own child.

Want to let your child cry it out? Go ahead. Want to co-sleep until your child leaves for college? Okay. Want to breastfeed that baby? Go for it! Don’t want to breastfeed? Go buy some bottles, just not plastic ones!

I think if more of us followed our instincts with our own children, instead of relying on “experts” to tell us what we should do, we would all be a lot happier.

There are plenty of other places to go and get advice. Parent Hacks comes to mind. And I will still be blogging over at Ordering Disorder, but the tips and tricks I post over there will not be heavy topics. More like tips to get your kids to put away their snow boots so they aren’t left in the middle of the room forming a huge puddle that you will walk through hours later in your socks. The tip? Staple the boots to their feet so that they can never take them off! Oh I kid. That is just my fantasy world sneaking into my reality.

In reality I just make them play outside completely naked. Yes, it cuts down on the time they spend outdoors. But I am willing to pay that price to not have a huge pile of wet stuff to dry everyday.

And so I decided to shut the blog down.

In its place is a new blog, A Year Off. (Right now it is still under construction and exists simply a redirect to the old blog.)

It is about our family’s New Year resolution. We are taking a year off from spending money. Obviously we still have to buy things like food, toilet paper, heating oil.

But for an entire year there will be no impulse Target buying, no new shoes for people who have feet that are no longer growing, no new t-shirts, pants, sweaters… nothing that we don’t need.

For us this isn’t an exercise in saving money, though my husband may disagree with me here.

Nor is it an effort to live a more green life, though that is also a nice benefit.

For me it is an effort to lessen the amount of stuff that comes into our house. To take a step outside of the mindless consumerism for a time and assess the real differences between what we want and what we really need. I suspect that it will be an ongoing process of negotiations, both internally and within the family. What do we really need ?

I am going to also be blogging about all the stuff we would have bought, keep a running total of how much it would have cost, and whether we regret not purchasing anything.

I am already being tested. I broke my Ctrl key off of my computer this morning while I was cleaning it. I can not get it to snap back on no matter how hard I punch gently push it.

Posted by Chris @ 11:29 am  

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  1. fidget says:

    freecycle baby!

    I’d love to have a year like that but it wont happen until this blasted house is done. AFter 3 1/2 yrs of construction dust i want my interior doors too (mostly) match

  2. wookie says:

    I tried that last year, although it was the buy nothing new year, so all clothing was thrift-store purchases, books were all second-hand, stuff like that.

    I did well until September, when my microwave died (I use it for a lot of things) and the Christmas thing started to creep in. All of a sudden I had two kids that needed skates and swimsuits for fall lessons (obviously not the same lesson) and winter coats and all sorts of stuff that I hadn’t anticipated.

    I wish you luck! I honestly just found that not setting foot in anything other than a grocery store really helped the resolution.

  3. christine says:

    I’ve been reading “Irresistible Revolution,” and it has taken me a step further … not just “what do I really NEED?” but “what should we be sharing with those who don’t have what they need?” It has rattled me deeply and our family will be living very differently in ‘08.

    It’ll be fun to watch you this year … wondering if the Ctrl key will end up super glued or if you’ll just be punching the little hooky thingy where the key is SUPPOSED to be! ;)

  4. Christy says:

    We are trying this too…we’ll see how well it goes!

  5. Adrienne says:

    We’ve been working on this mindset over the past couple years as part of our family debt reduction plan, and it’s definitely an evolutionary process. One of the things I did that helped me to adjust is to build in a little buffer the first couple of months that reduced in amount each week.

    The other thing…the kids get allowance, and out of that allowance comes birthday gifts for friends, snacks at swim meets, the whole nine yards. It’s amazing how quickly they decided to pack snacks to take to sporting events and even the movies! LOL!

    I will enjoy reading about your journey on the new blog!

  6. Jen says:

    I love this idea and can’t wait to read. After the holidays I feel like we could use a dose of this too.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!

  7. Fairly Odd Mother says:

    I just love this idea and can’t wait to hear more about it. From a homeschooling standpoint, does this include not buying supplies and books? I get SOOOOOO tempted to buy (thank goodness for paperback swap), but we are also getting to the point of maximum overload of what I should have.

    Hey, maybe you WILL be making dresses out of curtains this year! : )

  8. Trish says:

    Doesn’t your keyboard have two Ctrl keys? You don’t really NEED that one.

    Of course, super glue might work too.

  9. Corrie says:

    I love your resolution! But the stuff? It will still find you. It will show up in bags left on your porch or well meaning relatives who just can’t bear to throw their stuff away, so they’ll give it to you to toss.

  10. Lorraine says:

    I saw that post come through my reader… I thought… wow. what a concept! very tempting. I’m trying to cut back on clutter around here anyway…

  11. Anat says:

    I “met” you through “in the trenches”, and loved your writing so much, that I started looking for more, and was happy to discover you write in other places as well. I check that blog every day, and even though it isn’t updated as often I will miss it. I trust my motherly instincts most of the time, but I must admit that reading advice from a mom-of-7 helps me put things into perspective, and keeps me sane in my hardest moments. So thanks for sharing, and good luck on your year off!

    Chris says: Anat, thank-you. Who knows I might resurrect it again after this year is up. It just became difficult to write there when I wasn’t feeling inspired.

  12. Karen Sugarpants says:

    What a smart idea! We’ve taken that road, even with Christmas, and it’s amazing how much we used to buy, stuff that we don’t need at all. Have you seen “The Story of Stuff?” It’s about 20 minutes and so worth watching: http://www.storyofstuff.com/

  13. Diane says:

    I started several years ago with a “no new fabric” mantra - I quilt, and had a huge number of projects in-progress or purchased-for. I’ts been three years, and I’m still not caught up.

    It moved to “only necessities” when I really, really needed to save some money. While it’s been a challenging two years, it has been worthwhile. I’m still mortified by the amount of “stuff” one person can accumulate. Doing with less is more freeing than frustrating.

    I’ll be reading the new blog with interest!

  14. kalisah says:

    I know I’m a selfish, materialistic, shallow person, but I would just as soon stop breathing as stop buying.

    (Then again, there’s only 3 of us in my house so the accumulation of “stuff” isn’t as much of an issue. And I am pretty good about donating the old in order to usher in the new.)

    I admire your resolve and wish you the best of luck.

  15. Another Chris says:

    I am very sad to hear that your other blog is being put to rest. I loved it! I understand though, and I am so inspired and excited about your new one. Every time I slide the debit card through at Target I wonder what in the heck made the total so high. I only went there for one thing but I have five bags in my cart? So I can completely relate to the desire to rid yourself of useless and excess stuff. I don’t have the guts to make a resolution like yours but I can’t wait to see if I can get motivated by your experience. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences as usual. Happy New Year!

  16. Kini says:

    Good luck, Chris! I really admire those of you that not only embark on those sorts of “journeys,” but the ones that can see it to the end (or nearly so).

    I’m really interested to see how it all plays out for you, especially since you have such a big family (compared to mine with only four people).

  17. Lilly says:

    Great resolution! What a great learning experience for everybody. I’ll get my family to try this also.

    My resolution is to avoid buying plastic when I buy groceries. I guess I’ll be making more from scratch like you and going to the health food store. Yesterday I asked the meat dept man at stop & shop for some hamburger wrapped in just butcher paper and he came out and took a package of styrofoam and plastic wrapped meat out of the display, threw the packaging away, and then wrapped the hamburger in paper! So unclear on the concept.

    Chris says: You know what is funny? I like the plastic grocery bags, because I refuse to plastic bags for our garbage cans.

  18. peepnroosmom says:

    Wow! Good luck. If I pared down to just what my family needed we would all be a lot happier and more focused. I have found that the more Peep “has” the worse his behavior is. When he cleans out his room of all the clutter and old stuff he is much more content.

  19. Stephanie says:

    LOVE this idea — I was thinking about doing something similar…mostly because one of my goals this year is to actually make a dent in our mountain of debt…and we really do have way too much junk in our house…as proof, I present to the jury the four bags of trash, games with missing parts, puzzles with missing pieces, etc., that we pulled out of my daughters’ bedrooms this morning. I want to be more organized, to actually be able to find things and have places for things in our home…and a great way to do that is to stop having new (unneeded) things come into the home. I’ll be following your new blog with great interest!

  20. Angella says:

    What a great idea! Kudos to you and your family.

    My husband and I both hate clutter, so we try to buy as little as possible…but kids have SO MUCH CRAP.

    I might suggest we try something along the same lines :)

  21. ollka says:

    The best of luck to you. I’m forwarding this to my anti-consumerist brother, see if he’s interested in trying to follow suit.

  22. Julie says:

    That’s also my main resolution this year: to not buy what I don’t need. It’s a way for me to learn to be happy with what I have. Of course, I’m already suffering from withdrawal, but hopefully in the next few months my resistance to consumerism will have paid off.

  23. Annika says:

    The / key on my computer broke off sometime last year and I have not replaced it. It’s a total pain in the ass.

  24. Elizabeth says:

    I read about a couple that did this and thought “it couldn’t be done with kids.” I’m glad to see not everyone is as trapped in this mindset as I have been. Good for you!

    But, seriously, do Little League fees count up there with food and heating oil? I had to laugh at Wookie’s comment (I did see kids in swimsuits and skates for split second) but that is exactly where my weakness lies. I will bookmark your new blog to follow how it goes.

    Chris says: No, I do NOT think that Little League fees count as shopping. Although hmmmm, no sitting at games for 7 months out of the year….;-)

  25. Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck says:

    I did love the other blog, really just to give me some new ideas as my kids are still so young. I’ll miss it but I will definitely be reading the new blog with great interest. This is something that my husband and I have had issues with forever–we just have too much STUFF. This is not the year for us, as I am expecting a new baby and will certainly need to purchase for that event, but maybe we can be inspired to at least cut back on some of the crazy purchases we make. Thanks for the continuing inspiration–you have amazing ideas and resolve to try them!

  26. dorothy says:

    I would so love to do this. My husband just won’t play. But I am trying to do it for myself and the little angel.

    I can’t wait to follow this.

  27. elizabeth says:

    I was forced in a way not to spend mindlessly - when I got us in a bit of debt BY overspending.
    I really could not resist those deals, even on stuff I could not justify our needing. We are out of debt, and I have learned the hard way that over consumption sucks. For years - have been ashamed walking into a Sam’s or Costco and realizing the over abundance of sh** we in America are offered on a daily basis. Yet, has it done a thing for us - collectively? We’re a fat nation, an in-debt nation, with a falling dollar…after going to Europe for years, I see that most other nations live simply and don’t buy everything they WANT.

    This Christmas I did NOT over purchase, it was a really simple, quiet, and the kids were happier than they have ever been. Of course, my husband would have been happiest if we didn’t spend ANY money…::sigh::

    I whole heartily (?) look forward to your thoughts on your year of less spending.

  28. arduous says:

    What a great resolution. I decided to take a year off from shopping in mid August (though I still buy used stuff) and, it is hard, and yet still doable. It’s amazing the things you think you need that you can actually do just fine without.

    Congratulations, and I look forward to reading about your year.

  29. aimee says:

    Good luck! Can’t wait to follow along and see how this goes. I’m sure you’ll find all sorts of wonderful and creative ways to make this really work.

  30. Carola says:

    oh no! I loved that blog…but I understand that writing about something that is uninspiring must be a pain. I will miss the tips though. Good luck with the New Year Resolution, sounds like an exciting project!

  31. liz says:

    Your daughter’s feet are still growing, right? Because I love when you blog about all her darling shoes…

  32. PollyS says:

    I am happy to hear about your resolution. I was forced into this mindset about 5 years ago when we had a business fail. In a very short period of time we went from a $150 a week Costco habit PLUS $50-75 a week grocery bill for just 3 of us to counting every penny and making every purchase count. I did what I could on my end being “thrifty” while my husband robbed Peter to pay Paul. And you know what? We made it through.
    And during this time I had a new born. He didn’t have every gadget and toy that the “experts” recommend. He didn’t have new Gap or Old Navy clothes just because they were cute, not because he needed them. We found a resale shop and thrift store we liked and frequented them.
    I have continued this practice until now and am so happy I have. I truly believe I am teaching my children that stuff isn’t what matters in life. There are more important things to be consumed with.
    I too make as much of my food from scratch and don’t buy very much pre-packaged food. I have also found that a healthy vegan diet is not only better for us, but helps the pocketbook too.
    My point is, you can reduce your spending and consumption. It’s easy and I think a good practice. But we don’t feel bad about buying new skates or a bike for my son when it’s not Christmas or his birthday. I have saved money all during the year, so a splurge isn’t that damaging.

  33. Lesli says:

    I’ve been cutting down slowly but surely for a few years, both to save money and to lessen clutter, and this year am planning even more cutbacks while simultaneously clearing the house of junk, which will go in the garbage, recycling, or to Salvation Army. Here’s my question to you….are the children’s birthdays and then Christmas next year excluded from your plans, or will gifts be based on need only? While I’ve cut down drastically on the number of presents year to year, I still buy “want” stuff (whether it’s needed or not) for these occasions, for the kids and my husband. Getting socks or underwear under the tree just doesn’t cut it for me.

    I’ll be interested to read how it goes for you. Good luck resisting the draw of Target! The longer you stay away, the easier it is. :)

    Chris says: Right now we are still under intense parental vs. children negotiations about the birthday presents. And trying to keep in mind that children have very different ideas about what constitutes “needs”

  34. suzanne (JoyfulChaos) says:

    lurker, here. and i just have to say, while looking for your link to your bean dip recipe i entered “crack” into your search engine. 3 pages came back with “crack” in it. 3 PAGES. i love it.

  35. Anna says:

    Holy cow, that sounds tough! But I could have used a little of that attitude the other day when I went shopping and came home with FIVE new pairs of shoes. But oh, all the cute flats!

  36. allysha says:

    I’m excited to read, because I’ve been planning to do something similar this year. Good Luck!

  37. Megan says:

    So interested in this idea. I hadn’t thought of us as a spendy family until we were forced by circumstance to really understand the difference between need and want. Not a lesson I would want to learn the way I learned it, but one I’m valuing even so. One lovely benefit? The sheer delight, the amazing luxury of a single “want” being allowed just every now and then. My children are, bless ‘em, amazingly patient and understanding and I’ve found it’s me having the hardest time, figuring out that love isn’t measured by the amount of things given - even when it breaks your heart not to be able to do so. I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts as you go through this coming year.

  38. dana says:

    Wow, what a great idea. I may have to try that..but I know I will fail miserably if I do. How is that for confidence. I’m going to bookmark the other blog. Currently, I only read this one…..

    I’ve been enjoying reading your blog, though I’m a relatively new reader brought here by Angella a while back. :)

  39. Lizzy in the Burbs says:

    Happy New Year, Chris! Hope you are feeling better, must have been a pretty serious reaction you had if it warranted a trip to the ER, sorry to hear that. Loved all the New Year’s Eve photos, so cute! I think what you’re doing for the New Year is a great idea and will be a valuable lesson for your kids. We truly have so much here in America, too much. If our kids could see how children from other countries live they would be shocked. Actually, adults as well. We are so used to just “getting” whatever it is we want instantaneously. Looking forward to hearing how it is going!

  40. Kate says:

    What an interesting idea! I think a couple in NYC did this fairly recently and wrote a book about it (which you are probably already aware of). If I can find it, I will link it. My main question is how do you decide what consistutes a “need” vs. a want? For example, gingerbread house supplies are technically food, but would they make the cute? Have you come up with rules for yourself or will it be on a case-by-case basis? I’m afraid I would learn how to rationalize almost anything into a need!

  41. Kate says:

    Aha…here is the book. It’s called “Not Buying It”.

    How do gifts for people outside of your immediate family figure into the equation?

  42. mel says:

    I was wondering what that was all about when it came through my bloglines!

    Having bolstered my usual level of discontent with consumerism by reading A Year Without Made in China, watching The Story of Stuff, and considering joining Andrea’s unshopping experiment (http://www.quietfish.com/notebook/?p=1284), I’m completely on board with you… ish. My husband says he’s “getting there.”

    I’m curious about how your family (ALL of them?!) came to this resolution. Was it the Boxing Day shock-o-rama or a gradual build-up? Or perhaps you’ll fill us in over there…

  43. suburbanturmoil says:

    What the?! This from the woman who gave me the great phrase “The ($100) Dollar Store” for Tar-zhay. Well, you’re my heroine and the only person whose archives I’ve ever stalked (at 3am while nursing Bruiser each night, but still! Your house renovations and the continual realization that you have three more kids than I do and still find time to write and generally be inspiring kept me going!), so I’m pretty sure this means that by the end of the year, I’ll have sworn off impulse buying, too.


    But I bet I’ll think twice about it. Good luck, Chris! Impulse spending doesn’t include flying to San Francisco for BlogHer 08, does it? Because if it does, then I am totally NOT behind you on this!

    Chris says: Hell, no it doesn’t include BlogHer. I consider that work related and write off the trip as a business expense. And see the problem with Tar-zhay is that your drop $100 at least every single time. Multiply that by 3 times a week…

  44. Heather says:

    I’m with you - reducing your own waste and clutter is an important step in putting your life in perspective. You’ll be surprised how much you really have once you get going. All the stuff fills up the space around us but it doesn’t fill up your heart and soul People with lots of stuff seem powerful, wealthy and important. Strip them of all that consumer good and what do they have to offer? It’s a good challenge for you and the family and I hope you see how truly lucky you are.

  45. crockpot lady says:

    We do this. We started out of necessity, but now have used it as a personal challenge. I get a little high off of crossing the days of the calendar that I haven’t bought anything unnecessarily. The holidays are always hard. Birthdays are hard. But you can do it.
    The hugest thing you have going for you is that you homeschool. Most of our frivolosity (huh. spell check says that isn’t a word. I think they should fix that.) comes from peer pressure—from other kids, but mostly me allowing other parents to make me feel guilty.

  46. nabbalicious says:

    Well, thank god my feet are still growing, so I can continue to buy new shoes! I know, it’s freaky to have still-growing feet at my age, isn’t it? But it’s true, I tell you!

    But really, I think this is a GREAT idea. I can’t wait to see how it goes for you guys!

  47. Susan says:

    Awesome Awesome Awesome! I’ve read this blog for months now, and this idea is just great. I wish you guys the best of luck and look forward to reading your new blog. Just a thought - if you can find a family or friend in your area that is attempting the same thing, it might make it a lot easier and give you some support!

  48. Johna says:

    That is a fantastic idea!! (about the keeping a running total). I should try it with you although, today, I already blew it. haha. See, I don’t have hardly an ounce of self discipline if it’s something that I really think I want. I can’t wait to start reading your blog!! Good luck with it!

  49. lizinsumner says:

    I would love to follow your “journey” on this……because I’m highly skeptical that my teenage son could or would ever bend easily (or any way, for that matter) to this practice….he’s had too many years to get used to our present level of consumerism! So, you would have this same issue, times seven, I presume?? I read of a woman who did this with her husband, and wrote about it, a while back…..I surely admired her fortitude!

  50. Ashley says:

    Good Luck, I honeslty don’t think I could do it. Not that we are crazy spenders but it would still be hard.

  51. Juju says:

    What a brilliant resolution. My key word for the year is ’simplicity’ and as part of that I will be trying to minimise the ’stuff’ in all areas of my life. Best of luck - I shall be interested to see how you get on :-)

  52. amanda says:

    Can you at least leave your archives for the old site up? I refer to some of the posts over there a lot- especially a few on organization, etc! Thank you!

  53. Victoria says:

    I like this idea a lot

  54. Angie says:

    I just discovered that the old site is under construction today. I can understand how you feel about giving advice. Kind of creepy. The old site was nice, though, kind of a homeschooling resource.

    I love the idea of your New Year’s Resolution. That is a great idea. There is no way I could keep up that running tab of what I would have bought. I know you could, though. You’re good like that.

  55. Charity says:

    Once again you have perfect timing! My husband and I have wondered for quite some time just where does the money go? Target, amazon, walmart, amazon, amazon….. so we have decided that we (I) will cut back on spending. Wish us luck! But as a family of 6 with one on the way we need the room much more than the “stuff”. And with less stuff bought that means less stuff to find a place for (or to step over).

  56. Jen says:

    My husband and I did this several years back when we wanted to buy our first home. We knew we needed to pay off all our credit card debt, pay off the car, and have some downpayment money in our savings account. For exactly one year, we led a very, very simple life. We saved a huge chunk of money by NEVER eating out. We bought no new clothes, shoes, or accessories. We didn’t spend a penny on any home decor. I also clipped coupons like a maniac for groceries and necessities. We even buckled down on making our electric and heating bill as low as possible.

    At the end of that year, we met every goal…..and we got to buy our first home. Since that time, I have slowly watched our spending get back to the way it was before we buckled down. We had talked about buckling down again, and I think we just might do it again. It will be harder now, since we have kids and I homeschool. We can at least cut out the EATING OUT and GYMBOREE expenses. That along will probably save us $4000 this year.

  57. Maddy says:

    Bravo Chris, that’s a brave step to take.

    About five years ago I asked my boys what they had on their wish list for Santa and they said they didn’t know what to ask for. This bothered me so much and my Mum pointed out very politely that maybe they already had all the things they wanted. I just got them what they wanted when they asked, I didn’t see how much I was spoiling them for times like birthdays and Christmas. So I stopped, I just said “put it on your wish list” when the boys asked for things. They winged once or twice and then adjusted.

    I did the same thing with myself and that worked too. I now buy shoes and clothes twice a year, spring and autumn, only replacing those things that are no longer wearable. And we really enjoy those two shopping sprees a year, we replace all the undies and socks, get new bathing suits, flip flops or rain coats. Week to week I pay bills and buy food and only buy gifts when it’s someone’s birthday and that’s about it.

    When Christmas and Birthdays come around the kids completely enjoy receiving the things they have been looking forward to getting.

    Good luck with your year of non-spending. I know you will completely enjoy it.

  58. Sarah L. says:

    Love the idea. Are you still remodeling your kitchen or other parts of the house, and does the rule apply there, too? We are finishing up an addition to our home and I know I’ll be tempted to buy a bunch of furniture, etc. I was thinking of at least trying to buy used stuff and refinish/paint it or else try to redistribute items from the rest of the house.

    Chris says: Sarah is does NOT apply to our ongoing renovations. But shopping for sheetrock, paint and molding is hardly exciting stuff ;-) We sort of need those things in order to sell this house.

    Furniture will bought on an as needed basis. Miles needs a big boy bed, while he could sleep in a crib for another year that would sort of be putting off the inevitable just for the sake of the resolution. I promised my 10 yr old a desk he liked at IKEA as soon as his bedroom was finished. It was out of stock when went to IKEA months and months ago.

  59. Stefania/CityMama says:

    Can’t wait to read along… We’re doing the same, trying to focus on the “reduce” part of the “reduce, recycle, reuse” triad. Imagine if more people did that…

  60. Amy Girl says:

    I have toyed with this idea. Perhaps “toyed” is a Freudian slip!

  61. Wendy says:

    Meh, you don’t need that ctrl button. What has it done for you, lately? Sure it can get you out of that “program not responding” mode, but yelling at my screen usually snaps it back into submission.

    I am very interested in the new blog and resolution. My biggest question is how do you decide what is a need and what is a want. When I step back and look at our lives there is not much that we need, but things that make our lives easier and then there are things that are clearly wants. Right now, I am wanting that stupid Wii, but fighting every bone in my body not to run out and get one.

  62. shannonkg says:

    The best fortune cookie I ever got was “Enough is as good as a feast.” I really want this to apply to the way my family lives. Can’t wait to read more!

  63. Laura K. says:

    This better be some kinda of cruel joke lady!!

    I love your blog!! It’s the one I visit daily and get so happy when you share your family with us!! You are such a wonderful parent and I really look up to and admire you… not in a stalkish way or something ;)

    I will miss you and I hope you are just playing a joke on us… *fingers crossed*


  64. Annalise says:

    Cool idea. For the most parat, I find the less stuff we bring into the house, the free-er I feel. The kids disagree though.

  65. Laura K. says:

    hmmm and now suddenly I feel guilty for my $1100 new stroller for the baby…. dammit, don’t make me feel bad! GRRR! Here in Europe strollers are CARS and none are cheap… so… so.. THERE! *crosses arms*

  66. Kristi says:

    A Year Off (and also a year off) sounds fantastic! Can’t wait to read all about that challenge. Right now, I’m just shooting for the next 30 days.

  67. ellen says:

    just echoing the request for an archive of the old blog…I knew I should have written down all those great toy ideas as soon as they came online!

  68. ellen says:

    woops! Just noticed I can go “back” and get the old stuff:)

  69. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t know if anyone has already requested this, but is it possible to access the archives for “in the trenches”? I would love to be able to look at your gift recommendations from this last Christmas. It’s a good ongoing reference for birthdays, etc. Good luck on the new blog, it sounds great!

  70. jen says:

    Wow, I am looking forward to reading it, Chris! I did get a smile on my face when the first post came through on Bloglines.

    I have noticed that more and more people have become disenchanted with ’stuff’, especially as the commercialism of Christmas intensifies each year. I am so pleased you are doing something about it.

    A lot of the gifts my children received this year were - although thoughtful - totally unneccessary and didn’t add value to their lives in any way other than to have ‘more stuff’, which for small kids under 3 - I think actually detracts from their enjoyment of what they already have, in a ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ kinda way (substitute ‘model cars’ for ‘trees’, if you wish). I find that the more my son (2.5yrs) has, the less he ‘plays’ effectively. New Years Eve this year was spent culling toys to make way for the (better) Christmas presents (trainset pieces) - and the culled toys sent to charity, or to be sold in toy fairs (or freecycled). He hasn’t noticed. We managed to remove most of the plastic, thank goodness! (bar the new Lego). At least my second child will grow up chewing on lead-free paint ;)

    Incidentally I was going to write you an email to request a post on your ‘old’ blog’ for how you manage the amount of ’stuff’ (read: toys) that 7 kids must generate? Even with 2 kids - and one only starting to gum and chew whatever is available - I find that we are overwhelmed. What are your rules (pre and post ‘A Year Off’) for what gets bought, and how you deal with the magnitude of toys that must have accumulated? How often do you cull? Do you ‘cycle’ toys? Perhaps a post for Ordering Disorder… (pretty please?!!)

    Good Luck, Chris (especially in avoiding Tarjay school supplies!), look forward to reading about this new adventure (and how the kids enjoy Mom’s new project *evil cackle*!)

    ps my husband wanted to put his oar in (reading over my shoulder!) - he suggested http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/ - they have a great weekly newsletter, and a lot of the advice is along the lines of ‘do you really need it?’.

  71. Heather's Garden says:

    Wow, there are some things I could give up, no clothes shopping for a year would be easy, but eliminating eating out and new plants — never! Not to mention internet, cable, new books (I know, I go to the library, but waiting 4 months for my book club books is just not viable) and vacations - I presume those are out this year too. Good luck, I hope the kids fall in line otherwise you’ll be fighting a battle on two fronts and you know how well that usually goes!

  72. Monique says:

    There is nothing about you that I do not find endearing.
    I love sending your blog to my daughter:)

    She is as darling as you.

  73. Lilly says:

    In your comment above to Sarah… “in order to sell this house.” Umm, do you mean eventually in the far off future?

  74. kelly says:

    ….i say hello. i don’t know why you say goodbye i say hello.

    sorry, just had to say that. someone else probably already did. i didn’t read all other 60+ comments.

    anyway…good luck with the ctrl key, oh and the staying away from tar(the devil)get!

  75. Suebob says:

    Bye, Chris. It has been great. Have fun with your new venture.

  76. Jolyn says:

    You are very inspiring, and I am so glad that someone I enjoy reading so much is going to try to do what I truly want to try to do, too. Our reasons are much the same as yours and your husband’s: stuff and finances. The stuff part because I am TIRED OF PICKING UP CRAP OFF THE FLOOR and the finances because we have so many home improvements we want to do with this house we just bought but will also need to sell in the not terribly distant future as we are a military family.

    I think the idea from the comments that makes the most sense for me is to STAY OUT OF THE STORES except for grocery shopping. It’s a no-brainer — I just have to convince my husband of that.

  77. Anu says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve read every one of your posts at the other blog and been inspired by many of them. I especially loved your tips to organise the children’s toys (I have only one child!), on reading to children etc. Your posts have made me a better parent and have also taught me to trust my instincts.

    Thanks again for all your tips. You rock!

    I’ll follow your new blog with interest.


  78. Julie Stiles Mills says:

    too. much. stuff. we just took a VAN load of . . . stuff to Goodwill today. Like a million pounds off my back. I’m convinced we could fit it our house just fine if we didn’t have all this STUFF in here with us! Not buying stuff isn’t too hard for me right now. I hate stuff. I don’t like to wash it, dry it, dust it, clean it, or even LOOK at it anymore. It’s visual clutter, in my freakin way and just . . . more trouble than it’s worth. I’m becoming a minimalist. Clean countertops. Anti-knick knack. I’m filling up the van again tomorrow. seriously.

  79. Charlotte says:

    Great idea (although, I won’t be jumping on the bandwagon anytime soon, I have no self control).

    Quick question, does this apply to the children’s allowances? Will they not be allowed to spend on things that they want but not need?

  80. OMSH says:

    I was just talking about this yesterday with a friend. I have read several blogs where people have made a commitment to not buy anything NEW for a year (other than foodstuffs, etc… of course).

    I like your idea though, b/c it really tackles the “do we need this” question that so many of us fail to ask regularly.

    When we moved into this home - all 1230 sq. ft. of it, it felt “small” so we got rid of stuff and it felt bigger. We’ve alleviated more stuff and it seems even more roomier. Having “less” stuff feels good.

    Let us know when A Year Off takes off. I want to subscribe!

  81. Stacey-San says:

    Hi Chris! Just wanted to let you know that, though at first it will be painful, it is possible! We moved to Okinawa, Japan with the military, and while I miss the selections of stores back home, we have saved quite a bit of money out here. It will be worth it, I promise. I came back to the States last year for Christmas and entered the cereal isle while shopping, and I about passed out from all the choices. GOOD LUCK! :)

  82. Haley says:

    I am enthralled with this idea. It makes so much sense, I wonder why I never thought of it sooner! I think that I am going to steal your resolution, amend parts of it, and add it to my list.

    A “need” for me is definitely travel…how will that fall into your plan?
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  83. meredith says:

    I will be following your no consumer year with great interest. I think we all need to go that way. Here’s a link to an American in France that’s been doing it and blogging about it in her category “Slow Year” for 4 months now, she doesn’t even buy feminine hygiene products anymore:

    Chris says: I assure you that I will continue to buy my feminine hygiene products!

  84. Hepzibah says:

    Hi Chris,

    Always read your blogs fervently.
    You inspire me to have a large family of my own for the very same reasons you chose to have :)

    Keep Blogging…

    Have a blessed year!


  85. MyBestInvest says:

    I’m probably reading way too much into it, but isn’t it interesting that - of all the keys on your keyboard - you lose the one called CONTROL right when you start this exercise?

    I know when we launched a financial makeover of sorts two years ago in our house, it really felt like we were giving up control of our own choices. But, being in “control” was exactly working for us, since we had more debt than we wanted and were spending too much.

    I’m excited for you and your family. This exercise will be a tremendous blessing to you all, even though it won’t always feel like it. Good luck!

  86. Henri says:

    The end result will be wonderful, we did this a few years back and to this day we don’t regret it. It was hard in the beginning, but now I sit back and watch all the crap people buy and am grateful that its not coming to my house.

    I truly believe that less really is more.

  87. Jeanne says:

    Happy New Year.

    Good Luck with your (not) spending.

    I’m sorry, but I NEED a new brooch to go on my new coat from santa. (less than $50 - Old Navy sale). I found a perfect one on line, it’s $7 and I’m worth it, damn it! I’m a single mother and the only time I usually treat myself like this is at Christmas.

    I’ve read a few of the comments, and I agree that staying out of those stores works best for me. Bringing the kids is good too, if they see me starting to “stray” they jump in front of the items and say: “move along, nothing to see here….” Maybe your husband would help like that. HA!

  88. Molly says:

    Oh Chris, I will indeed miss your other blog! I liked it very much. I have an idea regarding the birthdays — have your children make their own handmade gifts for family birthday presents. I am sure you probably have all the materials in the house already, I don’t know, stuff like flannel and pine cones and needle and thread and whatever they need to invent their own gifts. They will be forced to be creative and they can invent their own cool stuff. I wish you guys a year of enjoyment and a great learning experience for the year of minimalist buying!!

  89. Paula says:

    Yipes — please don’t lose those old entries ’cause I have been waiting to use the DisneyWorld advice!

  90. Join Me in Snarkville » Archivio Blog » Being on Time is not my Resolution says:

    [...] involve more chocolate, go figure.  I have a feeling that one of the most ambitious ones will be Chris who, with her husband and 7 kids, will not be buying anything for a year (to be fair, the needed [...]

  91. Nataly says:

    Oh, please write a post, somewhere, anywhere, about what to do re the boots in the hallway puddle. I can’t find a stapler, otherwise, that would be it:)
    Look forward to reading A Year Off - I love the idea, although not sure we;d have the discipline here.

  92. Scout's honor says:

    I did the same thing with my “a” key. After cutting and pasting “a”s for three weeks, I decided it’s replacement was a necessity. I was going to buy an “a” on ebay for $1, but the breaking included spilled coffee, so I ended up getting a new kayboard for my laptop. Cost was $18 for parts. I had to pay the service guy (that would be my husband) in kisses though. Pretty expensive when you’re cracky about pasting “a”s.

  93. carrie says:

    No Target for a year? I’d need rehab, with medication.

    But, it’s worth a try. I’ll head on over there and check it out. You may have just inspired my bank account to grow. :)

  94. Keri says:

    Good luck with “Not Buying It” for a year…our family did that project and it was an awesome learning experience. Even now, it’s hard for me to shop because I feel so guilty even though NBI is over. It definitely changed our spending habits. Hope it works out for you and your family! :-D

  95. Isabel Kallman says:

    fabulous idea! Can hardly wait.

    Although I think you really do need a Ctrl key!

  96. Celine says:

    I think it’s a great idea and that you will make it work. Good luck!

  97. Kristi says:

    Thought you’d be interested in this: http://storyofstuff.com/

  98. Heidi says:

    I just posted yesterday thinking of ideas on how to curtail clutter before it starts. How interesting to read this (coming over from Musings of a Housewife) today!!

    Much luck on your pursuit.

  99. Half-Past Kissin' Time says:

    Humor aside (you are very funny, by the way), I disagree that proper parenting can be done by anyone who simply “trusts their gut” on what to do. Unfortunately, there are far to many people out there who have parented the only way they know how, and for me (as a teacher of students with emotional/behavioral disabilities), that is way scary. I wish all parents would at the very least take a few classes in child development so that their actions would be based in solid understanding of what kids need and less on what comes “naturally.”

    Okay, don’t mean to start a blog post here…confidence in your own parenting is good, but I think it’s also important to be educated. It’s the most important job in the world.

  100. t in h says:

    Chris, I was initially sorry to see you would be discontinuing “in the trenches of motherhood” but I’m thrilled to see what you will be replacing it with and must admit, I need a little motivation in the “stop buying and start purging” department far more than I need mum advice (I have no shortage of experience in that category and, anyway, I’m a follow-my-own-instincts sorta mum). I’m at the end of my tether with all the needless crap that gets bought and brought into the house, especially when we really have neither the money to buy it nor the space to store it. My husband and kids bandy about the word “need” far too much for my liking and with all the crap they bring in the house, I’m that close to running away from home. It’s time to take drastic measures and this new blog will feel like the equivalent of a diet partner–only for my budget and house! My husband has always enjoyed reading your “Big Yellow House” blog (sorry, it will forever be that to us) so maybe your new blog will help inspire him and get him (and keep him!) on board. If I can just get him on board, I’ll have half the battle won.

  101. Elaine says:

    You’re a brave woman. Not sure I could EVER give up Target, but we are definitely also on the mission to buy less “stuff” and to purge needless things. I have 2 kids and the toys are already taking over. My main weaknesses are things for my hobby (scrapbooking) and magazines. What is that about - magazines? I am trying to read ‘em then recycle ‘em.

    Anyway, good luck with it all I will keep up with you via the new blog. Glad I stumbled on to your site.

  102. Ms. Core says:

    You don’t have to BUY toilet paper!!

    Chris says: True. I suppose I could steal it. Or do without. But neither of those options appeals to me ;-)

  103. Moose in the Kitchen says:

    Due to some changes last year, I haven’t been allowed to spend any unnecessary money in about six months. (Though I always seem to break that rule when friends, tater tots, and bottles of wine are present.) In fact, the last time I was allowed to spend any money was BlogHer. It’s been a great learning mechanism for me. I missed shopping (and stuff) at first, but it soon becomes a habit like anything else. I started to realize how much unnecessary money I spent on shoes (which still feels like treason). And how, when I’m not spending just because I’m bored or there’s a sale, I discover which things I actually want. It’s been a good education for me. And I wish you and your family much success in your Less Stuff Scheme. (Don’t scrimp on the tater tots. They contribute significantly to ones quality of life. Plus, they’re edible and won’t contribute to The Stuff!)

  104. halloweenlover says:

    Wow Chris, that is amazing! I can’t wait to read about everything you guys are doing.

    I’m also trying to cut down on the shopping, and am thinking about selling some of Gabe’s plastic toys off. Our house is just overflowing with “stuff”. Maybe I should take on the same resolution. Hmmmm.

  105. imagine community says:

    I’m very interested in hearing about the year without shopping. I’m trying to move in that direction, while also trying to move in the direction of eating local. Good luck!

  106. Asha says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m a little late to this party, but I just wanted to pop on over to thank you for all the work you do on your blog…sharing the details of your life and your family. As you know, “whatever works” is my motto, too, but it’s taken me a long time to get there (I first had to wrestle with plenty of parental insecurity about doing it “right.”). I wholeheartedly support your decision to change blogging directions — sometimes, “clutter” takes the form of those projects that no longer inspire us.

    Best of luck during your “year off” — I can’t wait to hear about it!

  107. lora says:

    oh hey! I’m taking a year off too! two weeks in, and I’m doing alright! Good luck to you.

  108. Common Mom » Blog Archive » New Year’s Resolution 2008 - January Update says:

    [...] instead of wait until that magic date on the calendar? But then I read a blog entry by Chris at Notes From The Trenches. Her family is saying goodbye to spending this year. I thought that sounded like a great idea! I [...]