Sunday, August 06, 2006

Overindulgence or Necessity of Life?

Last Tuesday evening when I was staying with my parents while Jason was out of town on business, we went to CiCi's Pizza for our evening meal. CiCi's has the most inexpensive evening buffet in town ($3.99 for an adult, had a free kids meal coupon, and Anna eats free) and it has a mini game room in the back. One of the games at CiCi's is the biggest money drainer of them all - the crane game. It's the one where you manuever a crane that is inside a glass box full of cheap stuffed animals. You place the crane over your desired animal, press the button, the crane lowers, briefly catches your choice, then rises back to the top of the box empty. Of course you come so close the first time that you think surely you will win the next. Elizabeth went 0-2 at the crane game in the first 30 seconds we were at the games (Grandpa's 1.00 down the drain, not mine) and she was off to air hockey. After wasting about 20 more minutes and about five more dollars, it was time to go. Just one more try at the crane game, Elizabeth pleaded with her grandfather. I tell Elizabeth that it is impossible to win at the game, and she should not waste any more of Grandpa's money. Of course Grandpa ignores me and forks over two more quarters for one last try. Elizabeth manuevers the crane over a pink poodle, pushes the button, down goes the crane, it clasps around the poodle, the crane rises, what is this??? The poodle stays in the crane!!! We shove the crane over to the drop zone, the crane releases, and Elizabeth is the proud owner of one pink poodle now named Sarah. Anna, my three year old, witnesses the whole scene, and now she looks at Grandpa and says, "I want a stuffed animal." Of course in her mind, you insert two quarters and out pops a prize. Grandpa gives the game two valiant tries, but no luck with winning a second animal. Now I'm in a dilemna - I have two choices. One, I tell Anna tough luck, you usually don't win at games like that, sorry she is going away empty handed, or two, I tell her when we get to Wal-Mart (our after CiCi's errand) I will let her pick out a small animal. I know you're in suspense...okay, I let her pick out a small bear ($2.97) at Wal-Mart, and both kids went home as happy as can be. As I was processing the situation in my mind later that night, I began thinking, "Was that overindulging Anna by letting her, too, get an animal, or was it a reasonable decision to make things even?" Some would say overindulgence, some would say they would have done the same thing, but it got me thinking about my own life and how interesting it is that I "indulge" myself in some areas, and in other areas I would go so far to say I make myself do without. For example...

Areas of indulgence - should I be embarrased to admit this, I don't know, but we pay someone to clean the house every 2 weeks. I would like to say the main reason we do this is because when I am working during the school year, the only free day I have is Saturday, and I don't want to spend my whole day off cleaning the house, but I also don't want to live in a dirty house. However, in the summer time I am not working, yet we continue to have someone clean the house. Why? I hate cleaning the house, but I enjoy living in a clean house. I know how to clean the house. I could make the time to clean the house. But I don't want to. So I don't. I've tried different methods to make cleaning the house more bearable. I would do a room a day - didn't work. Then I thought I would do the upstairs one week and the downstairs the next. Didn't happen. So we have someone do it for us, and it is a huge load off my back.

Here's another example - We have a lawn service mow our lawn. Like me, Jason did not enjoy spending his only day off (sometimes it isn't even a day off for him) doing chores, and his most time consuming one was taking care of the lawn - about 1.3 acres. Saturday morning would come, the kids would want to play a game or we would want to relax for a little, but Jason would be off to do the lawn. And if it rained on Saturday, we were really in trouble, because many days he doesn't get home until 6:00 or after, and darkness would set in before he could finish. To add to the above, he also has an allergic reaction to either some weed or plant in our yard, and his face breaks out in a poison ivy like rash when he mows. So enough is enough - the lawn service mows our lawn, our lawn looks better than ever, and we have Jason back on Saturdays.

The last two football seasons, we had Colts season tickets. I was bothered one Sunday when Pastor DeNeff was preaching on sacrifice during our capital campaign, and he was talking about different areas in our lives where we spend "extra" money, and he actually used Colts season tickets as an example! I do get his point, but I was bothered because to me, it was so much more than a football ticket (and I know Pastor DeNeff was talking in generalities, so I didn't take offense.) It was time alone with Jason, a chance to go out to eat, watch something we both love to watch, have time in the car just the two of us for conversation - I felt like it was nourishment for our marriage, not cheap entertainment.

These are a few examples of "gross" overindulgence in our lives - all of us have things in our life that are unnecessary, yet useful: a dishwasher, washing machine/dryer, hair dryer, microwave, t.v., the list goes on and on. But to my defense, let me share a few areas of life that for some can be overindulgences, but for me, the bare necessity is fine:

1. My car. My car is not shabby by any means, but it's not what I would call an indulgence. It's a '98 Honda with close to 90,000 miles, chipping paint, 4 practically bald tires, and desperately in need of a cleaning inside and out. But I don't need anything else - my car is paid for, it's reliable, it gets me where I need to go. Some people are really particular about their car and always upgrade to get the newer, better model, but I'm satisfied with what I have, and I will drive it until it dies.

2. My shoes. Actually I was looking at my flip flops today and realized they are the only pair of flip flops I have ever owned. They are the first Adidas model that came out 10-15 years ago - blue bottom with blue and white stripes across the toes. They were very popular in college. Somewhere along the way I have switched a flip flop with someone, because one is 1/2 size bigger than the other. I could go out and get a more fashionable pair, but these work just fine, and I will wear them until they no longer can be worn. I don't have a lot of shoes. I have a pair of brown casual shoes (had since junior year of college - 10 years ago) a pair of sandals (had 5 years) my flip flops mentioned above, my all purpose tennis/basketball/softball/triathlon training shoes, a white pair of sneakers, and shoes for work - 4 or 5 pairs counting all seasons. I know some people love shopping for shoes and have dozens of pairs - shoes are not important to me.

3. Eating out. We just don't do it a lot. We have been more prone to run through a drive thru this summer if we were out of food between camping trips. But on the whole, we are an eat at home family. I spend some time coupon clipping and coupon shopping to get the best bargains, and I feel like we are pretty economical when it comes to feeding our family. I have a co-worker who eats out EVERY MEAL! She doesn't cook. I can't fathom how expensive that must get.

Just as I hope people do not think I am overindulgent for having someone clean my house, mow my lawn, and having Colts tickets, I should not think the same of someone who drives a new car each year, has 30 plus pairs of shoes (or purses :) ) or eats out often. So was it overindulgent of me to buy that animal for Anna? I don't know if it was or not, but I do know we had a much more peaceful evening because I did.

Triathlon Training Update: Today was a rest day. Yesterday was pretty strenuous - we ran 45 minutes (made 4 miles in 44 minutes - yeah!!!) and biked 30 minutes (went 6 miles.) I was pretty stiff last night - my body felt like it did after the first day of basketball practice. Three weeks of training down, 5 more to go!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

These blogs are too long.....gotta skim, don't have the time.....but just couldn't pass up a comment on this one.....colts tickets, shoot that's a drop in the about the house and camper you all live in? indulgence,'s just the way the rich live. :)
I can only just look up to you and admire you. I'm glad you're able to do all those things and buy Anna a cute bear as well.....kind of reminds me of a bunny named Thumper. The issue isn't indulgence.....some moms just have tender hearts. Some day I'm gonna be like you.
You're my hero! :)

August 07, 2006 12:28 AM  
Blogger Stephen & Michelle said...

This is a really long comment, but your story about your daughters made me laugh, because it is almost the exact same story I witnessed with my two neices, probably about the same age as your daughters...

At the time, my husband and I talked about the whole incident with my neices later, and about how my younger neice always gets everything she wants for the sake of "keeping her happy" and "wanting peace in the house." We talked about how she is SUPER spoiled and knows exactly how to get her way - and how when she gets older she is going to have a very hard time with life and the reality that we don't always get what we want, and life is just not always fair.

The only reason I say this is because it brings me to my point :) I think that a lot of life comes down to balance - we shouldn't give our child/ourselves everything they/we want because it makes it very easy for us to become unsatisfied with what we have - and greedy for more.

On the other hand, we need to indulge ourselves at time to show where our priorities are - God, making time with our spouse, more time with our family, etc. If having season tickets, a camper, and lawn/cleaning service is how you accomplish this, I say way to go!!!

(P.S. It was nice meeting you at camp!)

August 07, 2006 8:21 AM  
Blogger Kelley said...

Okay...I have to throw in a little Dave Ramsey "Financial Peace University" learnin' here. Are you giving to the Lord? Are you saving for emergencies, college, etc.?, Are you paying your bills? Is there money to spare? Then go for it! As long as you're doing the above first, Dave would say "Enjoy the Money!" It was funny to read your lists though because I drive newer cars, have endless pairs of shoes to go along with my purse collection and I eat out too much! Having a smaller house and not having a family, I can't really justify the house cleaner, but I'd love to have one! I HATE to clean house, but I love having a clean house. As far as Anna's toy goes, she's not hardly old enough to understand the "Suck it up, Life's not fair" philosophy. I say a $3 toy to keep things smooth and happy was worth it! See ya tonight!

August 07, 2006 10:10 AM  
Blogger Keetha said...

From an OLD lady - - - - - raising kids is about loving them. Don't worry about all that 'little' stuff. You showed BOTH daughters a generous slice of love - - - just what they needed.

I also HATE housecleaning, had a maid either once a week or every other week for YEARS. Am about to find another one as I miss her like CRAZY.

COLTS tickets - - - the only thing I see wrong with that is, I DON'T HAVE ANY!!!! Hehehehehehehehe

I think we try to make our walk with Christ too much about guilt and not enough about love. Do you love Him???? (rhetorical question) THAT'S WHAT MATTERS.

Keep on keeping on.

August 07, 2006 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deb, I struggle too with those questions. I don't have an answer. But I do know someone who can play that stuffed animal game like a pro! Rob Tippey- he can get a toy almost every time! : ) Shannon White

August 07, 2006 8:30 PM  

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