Sunday, March 30, 2008
Devon - I had to make a dump cake on Saturday morning. I was doing some other stuff in the kitchen before starting the cake. The Devs walked in and asked if he could help with the cake. I enjoy having the boys help me in the kitchen, so I said yes. Well, he did more than help. Other than opening some cans and slicing some butter, he made the whole cake!
Silas - I was able to take a little power nap on Saturday afternoon while the kids were asleep. Silas was already awake when I got up. I headed out of my room to get a start on dinner. Next think I know, Silas has pulled laundry out of the dryer, dumped it on my bed, folded it and sorted it into the appropriate piles.
I'm so proud of my boys. I'm so grateful for sons who seek out opportunities to bless people.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Living below our means - We could afford a flashier lifestyle (bigger house, newer cars, more vacations, etc), but choose not to. We do not rely on credit to maintain our lifestyle. We have more money coming in than we actually spend. That money is saved, invested, or given away
Living at our means - We do not rely on credit for our lifestyle, but we do not save, invest, or give away any of our income. There is no money left over at the end of the month. Our income is just enough to maintain our lifestyle.
Living above our means - We spend more than we bring in. We rely on credit to maintain our lifestyle. We do not save, invest, or give away money.
Now for a few clarifications. First, we are talking about your current spending. If you are paying off credit card debt from past financial decisions, but are not accumulating more credit debt right now, then you are not relying on credit to maintain your lifestyle. Second, if you save, invest, and/or give away money, but also rely on credit to maintain your lifestyle, then you are living above your means. Third, relying on credit means that you charge things and do not pay it off each month. If you use your credit card to make purchases, but never carry a balance, then you are not relying on credit.
Clear as mud?
And I'll wrap this up with a list of things that we do to save money at our house.
WinCo - Their prices are dirt cheap and I only go every two weeks.
Franz - I spend about $20 for three months worth of bread - regular bread, english muffins, bagels, hot dog/hamburger buns, etc. I hit the close date rack first, then get the rest of the things I need in the regular stock. I keep all the extra bread in a small chest freezer. Finding a bakery outlet near your home is a huge money saver!!
Buy bulk - One of the things I love about WinCo is that I can get all my spices for pennies on the dollar. I also buy hot cereal, baking ingredients, dried fruit, nuts, and other miscellaneous things there.
Cultural pass - Reserve cultural passes at your library for free admittance to various attractions in your area. Here is the info for the Washington County Library program.
Library - We get tons of books, cultural passes, movies (as in, cancel your Netflix subscription!!) and music at the library.
Walk - If possible, leave the car parked and walk to the bank, Dollar Tree, the grocery store, Old Navy or whatever.
Equal payment plans - Set your utilities up on equal payment plans. It helps to keep the budget in check when you know exactly how much your electricity or water is going to cost each month.
Budget - Plan where every dollar is going to be spent and stick to the plan.
Use cash - You won't make impulse purchases and can't overspend if you only have as much money with you as you've budgeted.
Grocery Game - This has given us a year of free health and beauty supplies, plus lots of other free or almost free items to use or give away.
Stock up - When you see a screamin' deal on a food item you use regularly, then get a bunch.
Thrift stores - We do a bunch of our clothes shopping at Value Village on their 50% off days. Find a good thrift store, one that is well organized with good quality clothing.
Buy generic - Now, we all have our things that we MUST have in a certain brand. For Tim, it's ice cream. I won't spend more than $3.00 on ice cream though. WinCo almost always has one of the good brands for less than $3.00, so that's how Tim gets the good stuff. Otherwise, we buy the generic brand of lots of food. Diced tomatoes, olives, and mustard all taste the same whether you paid 50 cents or $1.00.
Cook - We rarely eat out. It saves a bundle of money and makes those trips to a restaurant more fun.
Scrap convenience foods - The less pre-packaged, pre-made foods that you buy, the more money you'll save. Buying Eggo waffles is so much more costly than just making waffles! Make the real deal. And if convenience is truly an important factor in your cooking, then make a bunch of real waffles and freeze them.
Well, that's all I can think of off the top of my head.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
One husband off shooting hoops with other carriers of testosterone.
One large chunk of time to play online.
One long, scalding hot shower for myself.
One pair of comfy jammies.
One book, just checked out from the library.
One dish of Apple Pie A La Coldstone (french vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, graham cracker pie crust, apple pie filling, and caramel).
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Remember that creepy racoon from a week or so ago? It's back!! In the daylight!! This morning I was starting some laundry and glanced outside. Lo and behold, there was the racoon.
From this point on I'll refer to him as Rax. Evidently he thinks he's a family pet, so he needs a name. And I evidently think he's a guy because, well I don't know why. Anyway, at 8:15am on Resurrection Sunday, Rax decided raise himself out of his life of nocturnal living.
We watched him walk around, climb to the top of a huge tree, walk out on several branches, climb back down and then play on the tarp covering our garden area. After 20 minutes or so, Rax finally left. Then he came strutting through the front yard!! I can't imagine what would have happened if one of the 50 million people who walk their dogs down our street each day had happened to cruise by as Rax was sauntering by.
What is wrong with a racoon that hangs out in the daytime? Rax is a creep and I want him gone!! But since he's not gone, I'll let you see what we saw this morning.
Friday, March 21, 2008
In honor of Easter, my first poll will be about the traditional dyeing of eggs. Tell us when you'll be dyeing eggs this year. Go, cast your vote!!
1) Are you guys going to get married? Pretty awkward for the couple who is in conflict over if/when to get married. Also awkward for the couple who plans to get married, but doesn't want to say anything until they are actually engaged. I think it's safe to say that if a couple is engaged and want you to know it, then they'll make sure you know it. You don't need to ask.
2) When are you going to start having kids? Are you going to have kids? These questions usually start right after you cut your wedding cake. I guess all the people who were asking about getting married need something new to ask you about. The first problem with this question is that it assumes the couple wants kids. While most couples do, the small percentage that don't shouldn't feel obligated to defend their choice to you. The second, and biggest, problem is that it assumes the couple can have kids. There are so many couples who really struggle to get and/or stay pregnant and not all of them want to share their struggle with you. So they either lie, come up with some cliche answer, or burst into tears. Your question is like pouring salt in an open wound. The third problem is that the question is just simply annoying. Everyone asks and they ask all the time.
3) Were you trying to get pregnant? I always want to answer this question with "I was mowing the lawn and Tim was changing the oil and now we're having a baby". Now, I realize I'm sarcastic and people are actually asking for a report on whether or not I pay attention to when I ovulate and use that information to time intercourse in such a way as to conceive a child. I really have no idea why people ask this. Maybe I should start asking them that before giving my standard response of "I don't answer that question because it truly doesn't matter. Either way, we're having a baby". I would never want one of my children to question whether they were truly wanted or not, even if they know we love them.
4) Are you hoping/trying for a boy/girl? Tim and I have never had a preference in the gender of our children. Never. We're just happy to get another little W. However, if I did have a preference (which I never will), you can be sure I would never say what my preference was. I would never want Susie to know I really wanted Sammy or vice versa. This is another question that I have no idea why people ask. I think we get it more than many couples because we don't find out the gender while we're pregnant. So, we get nine long, very long, months of people asking.
5) How many kids are you going to have? My standard answer? "One at a time". We may think we have control over the number of kids we have, but there are enough families with more or less kids than they anticipated to prove that we don't have ultimate control over our family size.
5) Are you going to have more kids? Do you want more kids? My standard answer to this is "I'm not pregnant right now". Again, this question is a hard one for people who would love to have more kids, yet struggle to conceive or stay pregnant.
6) Are you done having kids now? After Naomi was born I noticed that we stopped getting "are you going to have another one" and started getting "are you done now". I don't know if it's because people think three kids is enough or because they figure we weren't content with having only boys. Weird. The implication of this question is that you should be done and no one needs to put that standard on another couple.
I guess that's enough for now. I'm sure you get the point, but just in case you didn't I'll make it really simple, and please know that my tone is friendly. Mind your own business. That's it. If someone wants to share their personal information with you, then they will volunteer the information. You don't need to ask. So, if you are one of those folks who tends to ask these questions, think about why you are asking in the first place. Chances are it's just curiosity. You may get your curiosity satisfied, but you could be annoying or hurting the person you're asking. Not really worth it, is it?
Maybe I'll tackle the list of "statements you should never make" on another day.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Jewelry is pretty
I got some in the mail
From a different city
I needed a present
To ship overseas
I knew Linda's creations
Would be sure to please
So I hopped on her site
But there was bad news
Everything was so nice
I just couldn't choose
Do I mix and match
Or do I buy a set
I wanted the most
That my money could get
I finally chose
She made a sale
And before I knew it
It arrived in the mail
Now, my sister knows
What site I bought from
But she has no idea
What selection will come
Linda has jewelry
For all types of girls
Simple and fancy
But none made with pearls
She'll even do custom
Make your vision come true
Then in record time
She'll mail it to you
So, if you need a gift
For a woman that's great
Then go visit Linda
Hurry, don't wait
In case you missed the link in the poem, click here to see her site.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
This morning I kept thinking of Galatians 6:9. Blew it there by succumbing to weariness, by giving up. Then I read the daily chapter in Proverbs and Proverbs 17:27 says "A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered." Blew it there too. Feeling like a failure, I started skimming through Romans. I came across Romans 4:6-8 and was totally blessed. It says, "David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 'Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.'" I'm so thankful for and humbled by God's forgiveness, his grace, his patience.
Needless to say, the song we sing at church from this passage in Romans has been going through my head all morning.
Blessed is he whose sins are forgiven
Blessed is he whose sins are no more
Blessed is he whose hate is forgotten
Blessed is he whose spirit is pure
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Now, I am not easily grossed out, but I think racoons are just nasty. Needless to say, I popped right back inside while Tim took the opportunity to start the creepy critter's modeling career. This picture isn't going to win any photography awards, but it will let you see our late night visitor.
Where does this thing sleep at night? We live in suburbia, not in the country. Yuck! Have I mentioned how utterly disgusting I find racoons to be?
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Kelly is not
A package from her
My mailman just brought
It has something in it
Oh wait, there is more
There are five things
Not bought at a store
They are dishcloths she knit
Some blue and some green
The prettiest ones
My kitchen has seen
Handwashing our dishes
Is a regular chore
Thanks to Kelly
It won't be a bore
Friday, March 14, 2008
SILLY HATS - We learned how to make hats out of newspaper. Well, we tried to learn. The first ones were so small that they wouldn't stay on. The second ones were a little large. Guess which batch these were from? The boys look like their ready to head out to a rice paddy, don't they?
BOOKS COME TO LIFE - We love checking out The Human Alphabet from the library. The boys spent an entire afternoon duplicating the poses found in the book. Can you tell what letter this is? I love cheap entertainment!!
GOING THE DISTANCE - She started at the bookcases on the left of the picture and made it to the bed in just a minute or two.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
This verse has been underlined in my Bible for a few years. I love it! Of course, I tend to forget it exists until the Lord spends a week or two bombarding me with it.
A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from a friend who was discouraged with parenting one of her kiddos. This verse came to mind and I quoted it to her in a voicemail. Her struggle ended up being a blessing to me because it brought me back to that verse. I needed it!
I've been so weary in parenting. Proverbs 22:6 says "train a child in the way he should go." It does not say "tell your child how to behave once and he will understand and eagerly obey you from that day forward." Training is a long-term process and I've been frustrated when I don't get immediate results.
I've been so weary in marriage. I Corinthians 13:4-8 gives us a whole list of things that love is. It has been suggested to put your own name in for "love" and see how you measure up. Well, I've been failing miserably. I've been impatient, rude, and pessimistic.
The words in Galatians 6:9 have encouraged me over the last couple weeks. I'm thankful that the Lord reminded me of them right as my month of focusing on my family began.
I must remember four things:
1) I must not become weary. The secret to not becoming weary is found in Isaiah 40:31. It says "but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." I need to quit placing my hope in my own hard work or good intentions and put it in the Lord.
2) I must not give up. According to James 1:4, "perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything". God can and will use my family to mature me, if only I will cooperate.
3) I will see the rewards of my effort. If I continue to sow, then I will reap. End of story.
4) The rewards will come at the proper time. This is the hardest part for me! I struggle to remember that what I consider to be a reasonable amount of time may not be the "proper time". I realize the following verse is written in another context, but the truth remains. In II Peter 3:8 we read that "with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day". My sense of time is totally different than God's and I need to trust that his timing is perfect.
And that's that. I promise that my blog won't always be so serious. It's just that the last two weeks or so have been a time of thinking, praying, and shifting of my priorities.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
In running a household and taking care of the kiddos I find it very easy to not put any effort into my marriage. By the time that I'm done doing all the things necessary for survival around here, I don't have the energy or desire to work on things that aren't emergent. Of course, then I end up in tears a couple time a month, discouraged because my marriage isn't as good as I'd like it to be. Go figure.
Anyway, in my quest to focus on my family this month, I have posted the question about my marriage in a place where I will see it several times a day. It reminds me to go out of my way to do something, anything at all, that is an investment in my relationship with Tim. It's accountability. I've dropped the ball some days, but it's been really helpful to me.
I emphasized "today" when I wrote it out because right now I need to focus on making the health of my marriage a priority. However, some days I mentally emphasize "I". After all, it's much easier to think of a gazillion things Tim could be doing than to actually work on my own shortcomings. Other days I mentally emphasize "marriage". I think it's easy for women, at least myself, to think "well, I washed his clothes, cooked his meals, and paid his bills" and call it good. While those things do benefit our husbands, they aren't direct investments in our marriages. The thing that is helping me to change my thinking on that is to ask myself how I'd feel if Tim said he was working on our marriage when he spent the day at work. Obviously I wouldn't be happy. The paychecks he earnS benefit our household, but that's just his job. In the same way, my cooking and cleaning benefits the household, but it's just my job. Our marriage is a whole different ball of wax. It's about blessing the other person as an individual, about taking time to hang out together, about interacting about things totally unrelated to our children or household chores.
And the bonus accountability with the question on my mirror? Devon asked what it said. Silas read it and asked what it meant to invest in a marriage. Tim sees it too, so he knows if I succeeded or failed that day. Now, he doesn't say anything when I miss the mark, but I know that he knows. I hate that!
Off to think about how to invest in my marriage today.
Monday, March 10, 2008
As many of you know, I have an awesome group of e-maginary friends on the Sonlight forums. We talk about everything - marriage, parenting, hairstyles, recipes, movies & books, dessert, favorite actors, health issues, eggplant, and anything else you can think of. It's good times! The problem is that I'm totally addicted to chatting with all of them. I mean, completely and totally addicted.
Since February is always a really hard month for me (I'm a single mom because Tim's in his third month of officiating and the boys have been cooped up inside for months because of rain), I spend even more time on the forums than usual. So I decided to have a forum fast during March. I just need to take all the time I spend hanging out there and invest it in my kids and marriage for a while. I miss my Sonlight crew like crazy, but the break has been so good for me! My attitude toward my kids has been better, I've worked harder at my relationship with Tim, and I've been more productive around the house.
Now, sometime before April rolls around I'm going to have to figure out a way to be on the forums again without sacrificing everything I'm working on during my fast. A permanent break from the forums would be just as detrimental to my family as being there too much is.
Anyway, as I've tried to focus more time and energy on my family, to simply keep my priorities in order, over the first part of this month, I keep thinking of something I wrote on January 7, 2008. Many of you have read it already, but I'm going to use it to close out my blogging debut.
Today is the 16th anniversary of my mom's death. I can't believe it's been that long. I've now lived more of my lived more of my life without than with her. My mom was one month shy of her 39th birthday. I was 15, my sister was 13, my brother was 10. My parents had been married 16 years. These days are no longer hard for me, but they are thought provoking. So, I'm just going to ramble a minute before I go start school, housework, etc.
1) Don't wait til someone is dead or dying to let them know you appreciate them. I recently found the letters my mom received in her last couple months, the time we knew she wasn't going to make it. They were filled with "why have I waited til now" comments. So, take time to verbalize or write to someone how and why you value them. Praise the mom in line at Target who has well-behaved children. Make sure your friend knows how thankful you are for their compassion toward you. Tell the checker and their boss that you appreciate that they are always cheerful and remember your name. Let your parents know what you think they did well in raising you.
2) "Should haves don't count". My mom said this all the time and it's one of the best things she taught me. Dwelling on what we should have done, yet didn't do, is a waste of time and energy. You are where you are and you did what you did, so make the best of it.
3) Don't take the time you have with your family for granted. Obviously we all have days we feel like throwing in the towel, but overall we need to value the time we have with our spouses and kids. There are no guarantees that you'll be married 50 years, have grandkids or even see your kids finish high school.
4) Make memories. Do fun things. Be spontaneous (or, if you're like me, schedule some spontaneity) with your kids. Start and keep traditions.
I guess those are the main things I think about this time of year. It's so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life, struggles of parenting, and other trivial issues, but I really try to keep my priorities in order. I blow it every day, but it's something I strive for.
I'm thankful that I had a mom who took marriage and parenting seriously, who obviously loved the Lord and her family, who taught us us to work hard and give eagerly, who did everything 110%. She certainly had weaknesses too, but I'm very thankful for her strengths.
So, go give your kiddos a hug ... or a phone call if they don't live at home ... or thank the Lord for the time he gave you with the ones who have died. And if your parents are still living, then let them know one thing you appreciate about them.