Monday, June 19, 2017

A Summer Tale

Even though I am working on writing about my inexpensive wardrobe right now, I had to break away to share this frugal find. After all, this is still Fun Dollars, so when Fun Spending occurs and there's a story to go with it, it is my duty to report back to you.

We are in the full swing of summer now, with the solstice right around the corner. I absolutely love this time of year. It's when the outdoors are the place to be. Gardening, swimming, camping, swimming while camping, taking afternoon walks while the crickets and lightning bugs entertain, and bike riding, just to name a few choice outdoor activities. I am especially excited about summer 2017 for two reasons; this is the first summer I have not stayed at home with both of my children, I have a job now; and this is the first summer that my children have been OUTSIDE during most of the daylight hours. This means that they get to actually enjoy those summer outdoor activities!

Before we moved to Illinois, we lived in Arizona. The sun is more intense there. Some people call it "heat". I am quick to correct them. Yes, the heat is hot, and dry, but you can actually feel the sun acting upon your skin when you are outside. With two very fair-skinned children, I had to be careful about when and for how long my kids were outside in AZ. For years, I felt guilty as a mom that my kids couldn't just be outside playing whenever they felt inspired. When we moved from Sedona to Phoenix two years ago, I felt even more guilty. I treated my children like vampires, only letting them out after the sun was down. If we did go anywhere during the day, it had to be somewhere that was air-conditioned. That's life in the summer when temperatures reach 113, you live in an air-conditioned box.

All I wanted for my kids was to be able to let them roam free in the summer time. I wanted them to work a garden and eat what they grow. I wanted them to run barefoot through the grass while they chase lightning bugs. Now that we are relocated, they do these things, and so much more!

Recently, I was out playing with my children at a neighborhood park, and Lily decided it was time to ride her brother's bike. His wheel diameter made the bike a little too high for her to reach the ground with her feet. This did not deter my fearless daughter. She strapped on her helmet and had me run her through the grass and up onto the basketball court while she peddled furiously. "Peddle, peddle, peddle. Peddle peddle peddle, " I chanted from behind her. I ran with her until she reached a speed that merited me letting go. She rode all the way across the basketball court and into the grass on the other side. She tipped over to get down (like I showed her) and then looked back to see if I was behind her. I wasn't. "You did it! You rode all by yourself!" I called to her. From that moment forward, her summer has been consumed with asking for her very own two-wheeled bike.

She started out on a Stider balance bike, which taught her how to propel herself and then cruise with balance. I highly recommend this bike method over training wheels, hands down. When she was ready for two wheels with pedals a few weeks ago, I knew that her four-year-old legs would quickly outgrow whatever two-wheeled bike we bought for her. My Fun Dollars instincts kicked in, and I was on the hunt for an inexpensive starter bike. I found one on facebook marketplace for $5.00! I had to drive 45 minutes to pick it up in another town, but the price made it worth it. I didn't look too closely at it when I picked it up, however. When I came home and saw that the chain was floppy on the gears and the tires were crackly and didn't hold air, I felt a little disappointed. I should have been more thorough with my questions when I bough the bike beforehand.  Well...learn and change for "next time".

I persevered with my quest to give Lily her own bike to ride before summer slipped away.  My first thought was to take her bike to the local bike doctor, but that could run me upwards of $30. If I wanted to spend a total of $35.00 on a bike, I would have bought a brand-new one at Target or Wal-Mart. No, the local guy was not an option, at least not for this particular bike fix. (Don't worry, we will shoot him some business with Carrick's bike fix...)

It was during an oil change at Wal-Mart (no judgement, please) that I took Lily for a stroll through the bike department. I wanted to see if they had what I needed to fix the bike myself. I was certain that with the right youtube video I could pull it off. While I was hunting for 12.5" tires, I was greeted by a kind young man named Todd. Todd described to me the method by which I could change out Lily's cracked tires. Then he added, "Or you could bring it in and I could do it for you." Apparently Mr. Todd was handy at fixing bikes. He told me that if I bought the tires at Wal-Mart, I could bring the bike in and he would give it a once-over. I managed to find two 12.5" tires on clearance for $4.00 each! I did have to buy an inner tube for one wheel at $3.88.

So the next day, after getting off work at noon, I went to Wal-Mart with my receipt, tires, tube and bike. I rolled up to the service desk and asked for Todd (as instructed by Todd the day before). He showed up with a smile and took me to the back of the store. I played a game on my phone while he disappeared into the back room with Lily's bike. 20 minutes later (and no charge later) Todd emerged from the stock room with a fully-functioning bike for Lily. The floppy chain had been re-mounted. The tires were fully aired up, and "I straightened the reflector for ya, too," Todd added.

$5.00 bike with $8.00 tires and a $3.88 inner tube. Now that's a bike she can grow out of!

Happy Summer, everyone, and Happy Spending!