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Whining for the Shiny Plastic Toy

On Saturday, we took the kids to the circus for the first time. The first half, they were mesmerized and delighted — and it was so fun to see them experience the sights and sounds of a circus for the first time.

At intermission, a lot of kids came back to their seats with various different toys and items they were selling as souvenirs at the circus. There was one spinning light-up toy in particular that caught our childrens’ eyes.

This plastic toy looked cool in the dark auditorium, but it was not at all worth the price tag they were asking for it. We explained this to our children and we opted to buy a bag of cotton candy instead — a special treat I remember from my trip to the circus as a young girl.

When the second half started, one of our children could not watch the circus at all. Instead, this child was completed focused on the fact that children around us had this plastic light-up toy and they didn’t.

For 15 minutes, this child sat and moped that they didn’t have their own plastic light-up toy… completely missing all of the amazing stunts, colors, and choreography going on in the circus ring below.

As we were walking back to our car when the circus was over, I realized what a poignant picture this was of what we often do in our own lives. Instead of enjoying the beauty of life that is right in front of us, we zero in on whatever it is that someone has that we don’t.

And then we whine, complain, and feel sorry for ourselves that we don’t have that one shiny plastic toy. In the process, we fail to see the blessings that our right under our noses — if only we could stop complaining long enough to appreciate them!

Let’s stop wishing we could have what someone else does, and start being grateful for what we already have. As I’ve found in my own life, when I start looking for things to be thankful for, I realize the list is almost endless.

photo credit

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86 Comments

  • Janet says:

    An awesome lesson to learn early as I spent my 20’s longing for things and not appreciating what I already had. I love your blog posts as they take the obvious things that are around us all and point out an extremely important life lesson. Thanks for sharing your gift with us all.

  • Jessica Bish says:

    Isn’t it amazing what our children teach us sometimes….and yet I struggle with not being to give them those things sometimes…. even though in 2 hours they will have forgotten they ever had that ‘want’.

  • Sue says:

    Love this post! Thank you.

  • Heather says:

    Love this! Thank you for the gentle nudge…

  • Anna says:

    Great post! Thank you for the timely reminder!

  • Lana says:

    Amen! I hated those overpriced toys at events when our kids were growing up!

  • beth says:

    Such perfect timing for me. My heart was just feeling lonely at some people around me who seem to have such close friendships (we’ve just moved recently and have been trying to build new friendships but it takes time). Reading this reminds me that I have a lot to be thankful for and special friends….even though they may be far in distance. Thank you. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      {hugs!} I just prayed that you’d be able to find close friendships in your area soon!

    • Allison says:

      I moved a few years ago and have struggled with this too. I’ve made a few friends in my area, but they aren’t really close friends. I think it’s harder to meet people once you’re out of school. Good luck, and know that you’re not the only one!

      • beth says:

        Thank you so much for your encouragement, ladies! 🙂 (((hug))) I think it’s more difficult after college as well. I do know that I have so much to be thankful for…and while the friendships part can be discouraging, my husband and I have been trying to focus a lot on our relationship and keeping our head above water with three little ones, so I am extremely thankful that God has blessed that effort a lot, even if it has meant less time to invest in friendships lately. Thinking of you, too, Allison! 🙂 I know it will come with time….I think you’re right, it just takes longer once you’re out of college. I don’t want to be jealous….or constantly focusing on what I don’t have when I have been blessed with so much. Such a good post, Crystal!

        • Jennifer says:

          Some places I have met great friends (out of school, outside of the workplace): libraries, parks, baby/toddler programs, yoga classes. Not to mention opportunities to meet friends of friends at birthday parties, dinner parties, other gatherings.

          I have moved a great deal in my life and have become very comfortable meeting new people. There are plenty of great people out there – you just need to strike up a conversation!

          • Tammy Doiel says:

            Today, I was missing my friend so much who lived next to me for a year. They are going back to Cambodia as missionaries, and this past year on furlough we were able to laugh and walk together. But in their house this week is a missionary family in our area for a convention. We were able to have them for dinner tonight, and our kids have made new friends. So, even though I miss my good friend, I was able to have great Christian fellowship with another family!

    • Stephanie says:

      I read you have three little ones. A great place to connect with other moms is MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I think you can check out mops.org and see if there is one in your area. Hope there is!!

  • Kim H says:

    Wow its so funny how God works, I was just having a feel sorry for me moment , and I just came to your site . I really do need to be thankful for what I have . I needed to read this, Thank You 🙂

  • Katrina says:

    This is a great post….A lesson I am learning and focusing on daily! Thanks for all the inspiration you give to others{me}! 🙂

  • Rachel says:

    It doesn’t help that the hawker pretty much wave the toy in your child’s face either….we once bought my son that $25 spinning toy you speak of…and it broke the next day…so lesson learned.

  • Jennifer says:

    Love this object lesson for adults! I remember going to Disney on Ice as a kid and seeing those – we were NEVER allowed one, but always got to choose cotton candy or nachos. Thanks so much for putting this into a great new perspective for all of us!

  • Daniella says:

    When we get the opportunity to go on one of those fun outings (which should be joy enough) our 4 kids always do the same. They see something shiny and the show is OVER! I started hitting the dollar store before hand and grabbing the 4 shiniest toys as appropriately themed as I could and bringing them to the show with me. At one point, usually after they start to ask, I will go to the bathroom and come back with them. Usually it works and they feel special. The true point of your story was not lost on me though and thank you for the reminder to enjoy the show!!!

    • Meredith says:

      I did that at an amazement park. I got the neon glow in the dark bracelets from the dollar tree and stuffed them in my bag. When night came, I had a backup plan!!!! Worked like a charm!

  • Meredith says:

    Interesting.l..I don’t know if I should admit that the first time I went to the circus, I got a strobe light toy. I remember my mom telling me I had to pay for it. I did and for the first ten minutes, it was awesome. Then, I turned it off and it was in a yard sale a year later. Your point was fantastic but to be honest, I am weirded out that they still sell lights like that after 35 years!

    • Jessica says:

      I like your Mom, Meredith. That’s the exact approach I always take. My daughter gasped at the price and walked away. ;o)

    • Theresa Young says:

      They still do sell those lights because kids will never change. You may give them techy gifts and they might rather write on their blog then write in a diary but bright lights win every time. 😛

  • Kristin says:

    Oh Crystal, Crystal, Crystal! I know you have no idea how much I needed this right now, but this is exactly it.

    I’ve been very upset these past few days because it seems like every single time we get a little bit saved up, we have a fresh disaster that wipes out everything. This has been this way the entire 12 years of our marriage. We get a little ahead, we have a disaster.

    Since February, we have had one medical event after another. I needed two surgeries, lots of tests, suffered a case of pancreatitis, two of my children spent time in the hospital five days apart for dehydration brought on by rotovirus, and two weeks ago my four-year-old had appendicitis and spent about 2.5 days in the hospital and of course required an appendectomy.

    We’ve managed to rack up about $25000 – $30000 in medical bills in a 3-month time period. Those credit cards were all paid off in January and are now maxed-out again with medical expenses. Thank God we have good health insurance!

    I’ve tried many different things to help my husband with extra income and have failed miserably at them all: blogging, child-care (twice), direct-selling, etc.

    And our washing machine broke today.

    We live a VERY modest lifestyle. Any luxuries we have are paid for by our parents – so thank God for them too! We have one paid-for car. We buy used everything. If we eat out, it’s McDonald’s.

    My husband and I are both exhausted, overwhelmed and burned-out. All I want is a for us to go a nice vacation – maybe to visit family. The last vacation we had was 10 years ago. I just want one or two weeks where we don’t have to think about bills. And of course we can’t afford one. And I look around me and all I see is people buying $250,000 houses, going on three-week vacations, giving each other lavish gifts, and I’m like, when are we going to ever get a BREAK?! Is is too much to ask that WE get a vacation once a decade? Or have enough funds to make some repairs to our house? Sheesh. It makes me crazy. And cry-y.

    Thank for this lesson. I hate that I’m 36-years-old and still need to learn it, but I guess some of us are late-bloomers.

    • Janet says:

      Kristin,
      I am sending some good energy your way. I’m about your age and want you to know you are definitely not a late-bloomer in this struggle. In fact, many much older people around me will probably never learn this lesson.
      If it helps you feel any better, my struggle is with wanting what you have: a husband and children. Not to minimize the stress of your medical bills at all, but I’d rather have those bills than come home to an empty house.
      May you and your family be blessed.

    • Kristin,

      I know how you feel. We have a similar story of finances. We have not taken a family vacation (ever), my husband’s income was $0 for 8 months, and we’ve had a 75% cut in the years since (from the previous amount). We’ve had hospital bills that had to go on the credit cards as well (yep, so much for being debt-free!)

      I do 22 loads of laundry a week. Our washing machine broke a few times. I know your pain!

      One of those times were were able to figure out what was wrong, order the part, and fix it ourselves. I did some searching online and we found what was going on, along with a tutorial. We bought the part from a local place and my husband fixed it. I hope you can fix yours!

      I just started a series on my blog about how we are eating for .40 per person per day. The first post went up today. Perhaps it can be a blessing for you.

      • Kristin says:

        It sounds like we a very similar in circumstances. I will visiting your blog TODAY! Thank you and I hope your financial situation gets better from here! Hugs!

    • me says:

      I hope that your ‘good’ insurance did not rack up that 30K in medical bills. It is no where near good insurance.

      If you did, I would encourage you to talk to the financial counselor at your hospital. My husband had pretend insurance and a 2×1 cm cyst sitting near his spine. $10,000 in bills later, there was no way our budget would allow for that. We talked to the counselor, applied for financial aid, and qualified for charity care. We qualified for 80% reduction in the bill (and this was on top of the PPO discount from the insurance). I talked with the MRI facility and we were able to negotiate half price with the PPO discount and paying in cash up front. All in all, the 10k ended up costing us about $800-900. I worked out a payment plan with the hospital, sent a nasty letter to the anesthesiologist (they sent us to collections while they were reviewing our charity care application, which they took) and paid everything off in a few months.

      This spring, our car was broken into. My husbands cyst was last fall. The few months before that, our cat needed surgery (yes, I know, our cat…$1800 but he is our 3rd fur baby who apparently likes to eat plastic things that he can’t digest), before that, my husband broke his foot. Before that, we had a missed miscarriage at 12 weeks. Our car was broken into for the first time…

      And now, back to current time, my husband’s tooth is looking like it needs a root canal and/or extraction. It just seems like it won’t end. At some point, it has to get better, doesn’t it?

    • Meredith says:

      Oh Kristin I feel your pain. Granted I’ve not had the medical problems, I am 34 and it just seems like I am now getting the life lessons down too. I will give you some advice my cousin gave me. She had her twins premature and one of them was born without a foot. The hospital debt chimed in at 400k. When she got the first bill, she promptly paid them five dollars. When they inquired about the missing money, she said I don’t mind paying you but you have to take what I have. They didn’t argue and over several months a lot of the debt was knocked off and the rest was covered by charity (that someone else mentioned here…I’m not real sure how it works). If something happens again, don’t fret about paying them back. There are other options.

      Also, I know you want a vacation. It may be worth forgoing a couple of McDonald’s trips and buying a tent. Drive the shortest distance and take your family tent camping. Sites in our area run 10 dollars a night or by donations. Pack up some food and have a blast. I live in Charlotte nc and even in our city we have several preserves where you can hike and have a great time at very little cost.

      Chin up though, things will get better. Take the happiness you do have and enjoy it!

    • Kristin, I’m so sorry for what you are going through. I know it can be so hard, especially when there’s no rhyme or reason for WHY bad things keep happening. I just prayed for you. I hope you get a miracle soon.

    • Danielle B says:

      Kristin,

      I’m so sorry you’ve had such a struggle. I know a little of how you feel. My husband and I have been married for 8 years and every. single. one. of those years we’ve had a major medical/financial/family crisis that has wiped out our meager savings. We’ve never taken a vacation either, we rent an 800 sq. ft. apartment with a family of five (three children ages 7 and under, all homeschooled), we moved from Virginia to Montana in August with only what we could fit in our van because of my husband’s job loss, and we’re in the midst of starting our own business so any “extra” money isn’t spent on pleasure or even the basics of life sometimes- it goes straight into building the business.

      If I could, I’d like to encourage you to call and ask about filing a financial assistance application with your hospital. I developed blood clots in my lungs in 2006. The hospitalization and recovery process, plus blood thinners and lab work for an entire year after the event, racked up $42,000 in medical bills. Our insurance covered $30,000. We filed an assistance application for the remaining $12,000. The hospital reduced our bills to about $2,300. We then were able to get on a payment plan. (Hospitals are generally VERY workable with payment plans, AS LONG AS THE ACCOUNT ISN’T IN COLLECTIONS. That’s the most important part. Call today and get something worked out. We paid $30 per month on that $2300 for two years and then used our tax refund to wipe out the remaining debt.)

      Shortly after that my husband ended up in the E.R. with a very scary bout of the flu. Our bill was about $1200 for that. We filed the application again, and the hospital completely took care of the bill. I’m so thankful we filed those applications. Our finances would have been in a much worse place had we not, and we would have been filing bankruptcy because of it. Please call the hospital today and talk with someone. You may be very surprised at how much they can possibly reduce what you owe.

      Mostly though, I just want to encourage you. (((Hugs))) to you.
      Danielle

    • Amy says:

      (((Hugs))) Kristin! I feel this way as well, like everyone around me is buying homes and going on great vacations and buying fun toys. Where we can barely make it month to month. I know a lot of people have it far worse but its hard to not feel jealous. Hope things look up for you soon!

  • Jennifer says:

    I have learned to stock up on glow sticks from the dollar store or when they are on sale on woot.com. I pack them any time we are going to an outdoor evening event or to the circus that way when the vendors are going around selling them for $5, I can pull out our dollar store ones!

  • Victoria says:

    Such a great reminder.

  • Christine says:

    I had the same experience Vanessa. So when I took my daughter to disney on ice, I caved on the $22 sparkly flashlight right away even though the tickets were pricey enough for a single broke mom. My daughter knew that it was a very special treat and she fully appreciated it. And we’ve actually had a blast playing with it at home. But this blog post made me think of bringing the flashlight with us to future big house events…the gift that keeps giving!

  • Laurie says:

    We love to travel and our favorite place is WDW. Since we visit frequently I tell my kids they each have $25 to spend the entire trip. If they would like something more then they bring their own money. I also do not let my kids buy those shiny plastic toys. We buy our own light up necklaces and bracelets and bring them with us. I am also so frugal that we bring our own drinks and snacks. My children are just so happy to be at that special event. The last thing we saw was the lion king in our city. Grandma paid for 8 tickets so we could all go. Love those grandmas.

    • crissy says:

      Definitely a good lesson to be learned I wish I had listened to my parents when I was younger, they told me this stuff all the time, had I listened mabey I wouldnt be going through all these financial difficulties

  • Danielle B says:

    So many times I am that whiny, near-sighted child. Only through Christ’s sufficient grace have I been able to begin realizing my own personal blessings.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I love this! Thanks for the great reminder!

  • Gina says:

    Great post! The first year we went to the circus, our kids wanted those same light-up toys, but we had laid the firm ground rules before we left the house, and they were OK with it. The next year, I told them that if they wanted the toy, they’d have to pay for it themselves. Not one did! Amazing how much wiser they can be with money when it is their own!

  • Jodi says:

    Perfect timing for my life right now, thank you.

  • Crystal Stuart says:

    Well said! What a great post! 🙂

  • Maria says:

    Such a good illustration and reminder of missing out on our current blessings because we are wishing for more. Thanks, Crystal!

    • Abby says:

      I was prepared for Disney on Ice! I bought 3 glow/spinning toys at Toy R Us before the show. Came back from the bathroom and surprised the triplets! They had no idea that I did not buy them at the show!!! Win Win Win

  • FMR says:

    When our children were younger they also begged for those expensive, yet so easily broken and forgotten toys. We told them we were going to give them experiences, rather than things. They were not happy, especially since their friends had so many of those “things”. Now that our chldren are in college, they have told us we were right. They realize they have seen and done so much more than their friends. They are comfortable and confident in many situations. Hang in there. It will be worth the many small battles.

  • Jill says:

    Crystal I love when you post stories like this that you don’t share which child in particular it was. That is so respectful!

  • Katherine says:

    My oldest is only 3 1/2 so we haven’t had the expensive event toy issues yet…but I know it’s coming. And while I completely “get” the point of this post (thank you for the good reminder, Crystal!), I also want to say thank you to those who’ve shared about the dollar store neon necklace solution. What a brilliant idea! I’m used to packing our own drinks and snacks but it never occurred to me to pack the trinkets too. Very smart.

  • Heather says:

    I love this! So true. It’s sad that so many of us fall into this trap even as adults.

  • Christine says:

    We went to the circus a couple years ago and my friend bought the spinning, light toy for my daughter. It cost $20 and it broke in a couple days.

    The spinning light toy also appears every year when we watch fireworks. So last year, we went to CVS and they had the nice spinning light toy too and got 2 for $5 total. When night came, my kids had spun their toys just like the other kids. We still have the toy in the cabinet for this July.

  • Susan says:

    Your story sounds almost exactly like when we took our 3 kids to the circus for the first time last August. Lots of complaining about not having one of those overpriced toys. I didn’t come up with a good analogy to real life though. Thanks for your insight.

  • Susan T says:

    I bought a cool spinning toy for like a $1 at a garage sale. The woman I bought it from said it came from the circus and she was frustrated that she had spent so much and that she was now selling it at a garage sale. When I bought it, it felt like there was a whole story with more details that she didn’t tell me in that toy. Now that you have been to the circus and seen the cool spinning toys, the toy story feels like it has come full circle. At least you won’t be frustrated at buying it and having to sell it at a garage sale! My kids did like it but it wasn’t worth that much money!

  • Brenna says:

    Good point. Thank you

  • You are so right. I had a real encounter with this when I went to visit a family member in the interior of Mexico recently. The poverty there is so unreal. I came back just thinking about how much I take my yuppie life in the ‘burbs for granted, and how I should be so thankful for everything I have. I forget this way too easily.

  • Heather says:

    Wow! Haven’t taken my kids to the circus yet, and now I don’t think I want to! Hee hee. But the glow bracelets is a good idea, as is prepping the kids ahead of time.

  • April D says:

    Amen! We’ve taken our child to events like this and have gotten the same reaction. We solved that by telling her what to expect before we go…for instance we will buy her a program but not a toy. When she knows what the plan is it is a much better experience. By the way the programs are still something she looks at several years later so it was a nice way to remember those special things.

  • Chrissy says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!

    Much needed advice today – every day 🙂

  • Laura says:

    Crystal, wondering why I can’t get this article to e-mail. I am trying (yesterday and today) to e-mail this article to my husband. All it does is “Loading” for awhile till I give up and close it out. Any help?

    • Crystal says:

      Email me (moneysavingmom @ gmail.com) and I’ll connect you with my tech gal and she should be able to help you with it. I’m so sorry for the issues!

  • Stefanie says:

    This is precisely why I would have bought the toy. Sometimes it’s not about the quality of the item or what it’s worth….but the fact that to a child, something like that can be so exciting and memorable.

  • Asmith says:

    Thanks for sharing I really need to focus on my many blessing right now.
    I would pray that we prayerfully consider what speaks to the heart of our particular child at any given time. Sometimes it is time to buy that thing that they don’t need and may even be a waste of money in the eyes of others, it may be the time to let them decide to spend their own money, or it may be the time to say no. I am all for being a good steward of our financial resources. It is always time to be thankful and gratiful and to instill that in our children.

    • Crystal says:

      I so agree with this… we all have to seek wisdom to do what is best for our children. Each circumstance is different and, in some cases, splurging on a shiny plastic toy might be the perfect thing to do.

      I love all the ideas shared by different parents and I love how we’re all seeking to do what is best for our own unique children!

  • When I was 5, a friend’s family invited me to the circus with them. My teacher at school found out and gave me $5 to take with me. Guess what all the kids had that I wanted? Those plastic light up spinning things! My friend’s dad took us to the counter and bought one for each of us (and I have no idea how much it cost; I just handed over my $5 bill without a second thought, and I’m sure he made up the difference). Guess what I remember about that circus? Playing with my spinning light up toy in the dark. I don’t remember anything else. That was 23 years ago, but I guess they still use the same old techniques to get kids distracted on the things that will make them spend more money! I wish my parents had been there because I know they would have taught me a lesson about the value of things and what was more important.

  • Kristin says:

    Hey everyone! This is KRISTIN who posted earlier. Thank you for all the great advice for applying for hospital “charity” aid! That could come in useful in the future, but I think in our case it is not possible, because my husband has already paid the current bills ($3000), all on our credit cards. We had only two cards, one with 1K limit, and another with 2k limit, so yes these are maxed-out now. BUT, we’re still getting piles of bills in the mail, so there may be an opportunity for this in the near future. 🙂

    I also wanted to clarify something from my earlier post: The 25k-30k amount is how much we would paying had we NOT HAD insurance. I did this to illustrate how much “stuff” we have had going on around here recently. Our insurance has covered the vast majority of that (thank God!). As to date, we’ve paid at least 3K in deductibles and out-of-pocket costs (the 3k that went on the cc’s). We have not been keeping track of all the co-pays and prescriptions, though, so add in a few hundred more to that amount. And the bills keep coming in…. But we do have very good insurance through my husband’s job.

    BUT it appears that I may have misled some of you, and I am truly sorry!! Please forgive me!

    Again, many thanks for all your encouraging words. Sometimes it helps to know that you’re not the only person in the world that is suffering through a series of crises. We WANT very much to not have debt (it’s what all the cool kids are doing), but it just seems like we can never get too far ahead until something else happens. And yes, we’ve had the 1k in emergency savings, as Dave Ramsey advises, several times and we keep needing it! We are forever stuck on Baby Step #2 (or is it #1? I can’t remember now).

    So, focusing on my blessings: I have a wonderful, loyal, devoted, hard-working husband; we have three beautiful children whom we are both crazy about and who are mostly very healthy; my husband has a great job that he loves (even if the pay is pretty dismal); I’m able to stay home with our kids; we have a happy, comfortable home -not a fancy one, by any means, but clean and dry and full of love; we have a nice, older van that fits all five of us pretty comfortably and is PAID FOR. 🙂

    Blessings to you all and I will praying for you as well,. Let’s keep our chins up. Thank you again for your kind words and encouragement.

  • Theresa Young says:

    Great article and very true. I used to work for Ringling Bros. as a table operator. When people ask me what I used to do for the show I tell them I sold all the junk your kids want that minute but never ever play with after the show is over. I can’t tell you how many times I see kids get those expensive toys and then leave them behind as if saying it really didn’t matter if they got it or not, it was just the challenge of seeing if they could get mom or dad to get it for them. I have seen kids whine and cry and behave horribly over a light up … well… I really don’t know what it is. LOL. Now that I have a child of my own I tell her the show is her souviner. The memories she makes seeing our friends in action are worth not getting into the hype of the toys. We do buy a program for the performers to sign during the preshow but that is as far as I go anymore, because as you said it’s the performance that counts. Now saying all that, please buy something from those people if you can. They only work on commission and that is all. They have to pay rent for their tables, their room on the train and anything else they might need. It’s a hard life for them as well. Just don’t miss out on what’s important, no not cotton candy, the experience and the memories.

  • Melanie says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for posting this story. My children are young, but are starting to come to the age where they look around them and see what others have that they don’t. As one of six children I remember feeling that way about some things as well. I’ve sometimes wondered if you had run into those kind of situations with your children and how you handled it. This was a great reminder for me to focus on what’s most important and to give my children what’s most important – my time, my love, and my testimony. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Carmen says:

    I think that’s very sweet what you did for your daughter. You’re a great mom!

  • Michelle M. says:

    Great story & so very true. Here’s a money saving tip I learned for the circus. You can purchase the light up spin toys for around 3.00 at WalMart. Buy them there & take along to the circus. A fraction of the cost & your child is content!

  • Viennia says:

    I understand, and like most moms I feel awful with things I can’t give my son at times, even though he doesnt remember the next day he wanted it!Lol. But I do feel bad at times when other kids have toys and can show off there “souvenirs” and my son feels left out =/ So as lame as this is..What I did is when we went to the circus not to long ago, I had packed some glown in the dark bracelets that I had bought at the dollar store for $1 and gave them to him.so he felt special too..We grew up on such a tight fixed income when i was a child we didn’t really get anything special not even the circus! So i do tend to try to make sure my son gets gifts and special things so i never feel like he’s missing out…but thats me!

  • Cheryl Bouschor says:

    A couple of years ago when my twins were about 11, they wanted these toys called Kendama’s (could be spelled wrong). They were all the rage, much like yoyo’s. We had to drive a nearby town to get them and the boys used their hard-earned allowance for them. They were about $25 each. Personally, I thought it was a ridiculous price for a toy made out of wood and string, but they wanted them and it was their allowance money. On the way home, one of them made the most astute observation when he said “It’s kind of weird, Mom, when you get something you wanted really bad, it doesn’t really make you happy-instead you get kind of a weird feeling and you’re not nearly as happy as you thought you’d be.” We had a great conversation about things not buying happiness, etc. That being said, I sometimes have to remind them about that conversation when they want something new so bad they ask me about it every ten minutes. 🙂

  • Cheryl Bouschor says:

    By the way, in followup to my previous post, that $25 kendama toy kept my boys entertained for hundreds of hours! Just like the yoyo’s. In the end, they were a great purchase-just goes to show, you sometimes never know which toys are worth it!

  • Rena says:

    I really appreciated the story and the link from Facebook. I was on Facebook feeling sorry for my own family looking at family and friend’s posts of already summer vacations and adventures. Seeing the posts of everyone looking happy and their adventures (Disneyland, the lake ect) I was already getting bummed out over the fact that we can not afford a vacation with our 3 kids (or have we really ever since the time we only had one.) We are saving for a bigger house and I keep telling myself to think of the ultimate goal, bigger house, a yard and a place for my kids to finally enjoy without being worried about the neighborhood or having enough space. I definitely should be thankful in all the wonderful things I currently have now, like the closeness that my family does share because we have such a small house (like the fact that my bedroom also houses my 4 and 2 year old currently.) When they are teens it will be a different story so I’m glad to share the closeness now. I was told yesterday that a mom was a great mom because she took her kids to Disneyworld, was a Den mother (boy scouts), and made big birthday parties with treat bags for the kids. This was said by my sister in law, and I had to think, what does she think of me! It is hard to see the big picture sometimes when you get down (because your kids don’t have lots of things or participate in expensive classes ect) but with reminders of how things could be so much worse and being happy in the moment does help see the goals more clearly. Some people do value those trips as being their gift to their kids but honestly if you are all together no matter where you are it doesn’t matter. Missing out is something I do not want to experience especially when it comes to my kids no matter where we are!

  • Jennifer says:

    We probably go to the circus once a year along with some time of “on ice”show. (of course this all depends on the coupon codes we can get our hands on for a super good deal!) Anywho, we buy one light up toy (not the ones with the crazy flapping or flying things, usually a contained light spinner,) when each child turns about 3. This is their forever toy. My oldest daughter is almost 7 and got her spinner when she was just about to turn 3. She brings it to every event, she knows she will not get another; this is it. She brings it to 4th of July and New Years Eve events, she is very proud of her spinner. When we get home it gets put away until the next time. Looking back as I write this it seems that this toy is one of the ones she appears to be most grateful for. This year it is time for middle sis to pick out her own toy. Should be exciting!

  • Shauna says:

    Those spinning toys are hard to miss but after attending one of these events I started buying the glow sticks from the dollare store and bringing them with me. The kids are thrilled they have something and it cost me next to nothing.

  • This is so true; thank you for the wake up call. I have recently been whining to my husband to buy a new house. It is in our long term plan but we are waiting until we pay off our current home and then save up cash to buy a new one. I am so tired of waiting; BUT I have blessings all around me.
    My home is almost 50% paid off.
    We have beautiful landscaping because we have been here enough summers to fix the yard exactly like we want it.
    And best of all we can afford to live life because we are not tied up with a huge mortgage.

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