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too much Christmas spirit, the expensive kind

In the pitch black of yesterday morning, before my children were awake, I bought crafting supplies online while riding an exercise bike in the middle of my living room. JoAnn stores had emailed me that the out-of-stock hair clips I was looking for were suddenly in stock, and this needed immediate dealing with in order to turn out more embroidered hair clips by Christmas. But perusing all the other deals took a little bit of time, and in the end it stretched my work out session to 60 minutes when I had only planned 30. In some ways, this is the life I always dreamed of.

I also enjoy going out each morning to the freezing water tap to give the chickens new water. I like banging the ice off the edges of the waterer, and I like the little coos the chickens make as they greet me. In some ways, THIS is the life I always dreamed of.

I would like to feel calmly that one life enables the other, rather than that two ideal lifestyles are fighting to the death in my head.

I appreciate that technology has made it easier to live a simple life, one where I can spend more time reading to my children and less time taking them to horrible greed-inducing stores where there are TVs playing everywhere. At the same time, I appreciate that technology has merely offered me convenience choices, en-lazying my decision making in turn. So my evaluation of environmental externalities (shipping and the like) as well as budget externalities (just $9 more to get free shipping!) is not improved by the ease and speed with which I can make online transactions.

And though I make a lot of things for Christmas (hair clips on order, weaving coming along, knitting progressing frightfully slowly), my $30 JoAnn order yesterday, on top of what I already spent at JoAnn last month, on top of what I plan to spend on fabric next week, doesn't exactly make me feel like a frugal pioneer.

Okay, so maybe I'm feeling just a mite guilty because Dan pointed out I spent a little extra money these past two months. Okay, like, a thousand extra moneys. And I knew it was true, and I tried to get around it by saying "I'm paying the midwife!" and "Our freshly painted hallway has birds on the wall!" when in reality I know exactly where the money's gone.

Because in reality I was ordering disposable diapers off Amazon just because I was so damn tired of washing four pairs of pants every day. And buying expensive hippy laundry detergent at the grocery store (shame the lack of bargain) because every day I swear I'll get out the lye and make my own laundry soap and every day I clean the kitchen and go to bed early because there are more things to do the next day that require sleeping in the interim. And spending $100 cash over my food budget every month because pineapple and grapes twice a week, though they're horribly expensive and not in season, keep Zion from getting constipated without a daily toddler tantrum brought on by a lecture on the digestive system that sounds like "blah blah blah NO MORE CHEESE!"

In other words, in my life right now there are a lot of physical chores and difficult conversations that I can avoid for the low low cost of $500 a month. It's not sustainable or morally desirable, but given the right combination of hormones and exhaustion I find I'm ready to opt into that convenience.

What this sounds like is a confession with uncertain repentance. Of course I want to go back to my normal frugality, it's probably a virtue and all, but I'm planning to go to the feed store today, and after the feed store comes our monthly trip to the kid crafting cafe Dabblers and the opportunity to spend $15 on a very small lunch. And I'm already feeling rise in my throat the horrible guilt over buying prepared food, mixed with the sweet sweet anticipation of pulled pork.

I have a lot of aspirations for my life. I want to live my values, and to serve God in whatever He's doing. I can't do that well if I give into every temptation to make life easier. Nor can I do it if I'm stressed and overwhelmed and yelling at my kids to leave me alone so I can cut them a day's worth of fruit.

I don't actually know the answer...

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