Time For The Holidays: Thank you, Flipp

holiday-time

My sister and I made our way around the table—each of us folding the festive napkins just so—as we set the kids' table for the dinner ahead.

I looked at her when we met at the last seat and said, Feels strange and wonderful, doesn't it?

For the first time in over a decade, no kid in sight and no sounds of mooooooom being called from the other room. Between us we have kids old enough to watch out for younger siblings/cousins and wise enough to handle a lot of the moments that used to need a parent to fix.

One of our guests was there with her toddler and newborn baby, and as we sat down to dinner my sister and I tried to reminisce about those days and how it felt to eat cold plates of food and miss out on most of the adult conversation. But it seems our memories were blurry. We said, but it must have happened to us, even though it felt too distant to remember moments so recent. We laughed with an oh well and took turns holding the baby instead.

flipp-app

This year, I had a full day to dash from shop to shop finding the perfect ingredients for our well-planned Christmas feast. I was able to take my time making the best choices for staying within our holiday budget by using my favourite Flipp app, and that gave me some room for extra surprises (hello, crab legs!). 

But still my eyes wandered to the babies accompanying their weary parents through the shops and to the newborn in my dinner guest's arms. 

holiday-time

How can those days already be behind me? Why were they in such a hurry to leave? 

Where have those stolen moments with the weight of a warm, flushed child on my lap at the table (so I could stay in the company of the adults awhile longer) already gone?

The other night, I happily walked the hallways with that brand new baby, so her mama could eat a warm meal. And when I came back to my table and reluctantly handed her over, my dinner had gone cold.

As I ate it, those memories came back to me more clearly. And I knew why it was so easy to forget the taste of less-than-perfect food.

 It was made and served with pinches of love and then abandoned with dashes of love.

And that made it taste just as good.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + +

This post was sponsored by Flipp who helped me buy my holiday groceries this season. I am a long-time and weekly user of this easy-to-use app for planning my weekly grocery lists and saving money. I also use it to find the best prices for non-food items. I enter my list and instantly know where the best prices in my area can be found. I can clip from flyers and download coupons for added savings. It takes the same amount of time it does to scrawl a list (except now you won't lose it before you leave for the store). So, yes, even parents with young babies can add it to their smartphones. 

Stories about my family life, as always, are mine. 

 

What Is A Dream Home?

 *by my youngest child, age 5*

 *by my youngest child, age 5*

Children are wise, aren't they?

As seriously as I take my position as a mentor and role model for my kids, there are countless times they are the ones to teach me. 

Saving for future goals has come later for us, when compared to many of our friends and colleagues at the same life stage. The decision to support JB's return to school, after we had already started our family, meant going into further debt and putting a lot of what we thought we wanted for our future on hold. It also meant relying on the generosity and support of our extended family to help navigate the unexpected surprises and costs of being in school and having a young family. 

When we purchased our first home—just as JB was finishing graduate school—we affectionately called it our starter home, even though it was a huge investment for us at the time. We were grateful it had enough bedrooms to hold our family, plus an extra guest room for out-of-town visitors. When we first moved in, it felt decadent. But still, we were telling ourselves it was the house that would tide us over until we found our dream home.

At that time, our two children hadn't started school and we were still in the dark about the cost of having them in extracurricular activities or going on family vacations. When our family grew to four children, over the span of a few years, our vision of what was possible began to change. 

Finding a home that would fit a family of six was a much greater challenge with respect to cost. And adding daily living expenses and unexpected home and car repairs, while also planning for extras like family trips on airplanes made it feel impossible. 

We thought it would benefit our family most in the long run if we put off big family trips and held back on saving for their educations; but we were wrong.

During one of our dinner table discussions about what we were looking for in our next home, our then eight-year-old son piped up with a question that changed everything.

Why are we looking for a new house when we already have one?

Don't you guys want a bigger house and your own rooms, we asked them.

The verdict was unanimous—they did not. 

The discussion turned to what they really wanted: to stay in a home that felt safe and happy; to go on trips and create memories together; to know their parents weren't worried about going into more debt for the sake of extra square footage. 

Sitting at that overcrowded dinner table, in our tiny kitchen, where elbows often collide and laughter always takes a seat, it became clear. It sounds overly nostalgic to say this now, but that's the beauty of taking on the viewpoint of a child: we already had our dream home. We already had more than enough. And it was incredibly humbling to hear that from our children. 

There were so many other ways we could dream as a family.

We have started planning for their educations (no small feat with four children born in an eight year span); we are taking a big trip together every other year and smaller road trips in between; and we are investing in dance and music and art lessons because they make our kids happy. We also have a greater ability to help others and to incorporate those lessons into our family life. 

After taking the #LifeReady quiz from Manulife, I know there are still a lot of steps we can take to reach our new goals for our family's here and now, as well as for our future. And that means we are among the 72% of Canadians who feel they can improve their financial readiness, too.

But we've already taken the biggest step in the right direction, by making decisions as a family and focusing on what matters most. 

manulife-life-ready-two

 

This post is sponsored by 360ACCESS on behalf of Manulife. The story and opinions are my own.

Join me on Twitter at 9 p.m. on October 28th for a chance to win $2,500 in prizes. RSVP here.