Thursday, January 31, 2008


I am so horribly ashamed. My house is just that ... a house. There is nothing special about it. There is no beauty to it, and the only beauty in it are my four darling children and wonderful husband).

Whenever I read about the life of a woman I admire and it is penned by someone who was a close friends of hers, I find it highly convicting when the author writes about the woman's house. She goes on and on about the beauty and comfort that abounded within.

I think back to when we were packing to move. It took no time at all to decide what would be packed into boxes for who knows how many months. And we lived well with almost 2/3 of our belongs packed away into storage for over 3 months.

And the house stayed clean! The kids were happy and content with what they had (2/3 less than they did previously). The house felt like a home...a haven.

And now, with everything unpacked, and knowing I have an over abundance of stuff...I freeze at knowing what to get rid of. Piles of laundry and stuff here and there because nothing has a place (a place for everything and everything in it's place). But I must keep it because I cannot do without it. Or can I? If we lived for over 3 months just fine on 1/3 of what we own, why do I struggle to get rid of the 2/3??

Is it security? That I *MIGHT* need it, and what to do if I don't have it? Is it some sort of hidden struggle I have to "always be prepared" or somehow I am trying to keep up with the Jonses? How can you organize and beautify stuff you are keeping ...just to keep it?

Three things I am thankful for:
a house full of stuff
the knowledge that it is too much stuff
baby tushes in the air as they sleep tight

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Which Jane Austen Character Are You?

Well, too bad my husband and I are from different books! LOL!!

Which Jane Austen Character Are You?

You are Eliza Bennett from Pride and Prejudice! Yay, you! Perhaps the brightest and best character in all of English literature, you are intelligent, lively, lovely-- in short, you are the best of company. Your only foibles are that you stick with your first impressions... and your family is quite intolerable.
Take this quiz!

Anyone else enjoying the Complete Jane Austen on PBS??

Too Much STUFF!

I was reading on Rhonda's Blog about how part of living a simple lifestyle is caring for the things you have. You aren't going to just run out and buy something new to replace it. SO you take better care of it in the first place.

I look around my house and get so depressed. I see so many things that I have not cared for as I should have, that are now broken and needing fixed. Sadly, most of the items cannot be fixed easily, so I will have to use some creativity. But if I had only taken better care of what I have.

And it hit me, that a BIG part of why I do not care for what I have is that I have an abundance of STUFF! I have so much STUFF that is mediocre that I do not have time to care for EVERYTHING!

I have so many clothes that the laundry piles and piles up and the really nice cedar laundry sorter breaks under the weight of it all. :( I have so many towels and sheet sets that it becomes cumbersome trying to fold them all and fit them into the linen closet. So they just pile up as dirty and then there sits a clean pile of towels, grab from the top if you need to "clean" one.

I have so many tablecloths to protect the table and so many fabric placemats, that they have no real place to be stored and so become cumbersome and not used, and therefore the nice table that God blessed us with starts to become damaged. :( And worst of all, they just get piled up in the laundry room so I can barley get in there to even do the laundry in the first place!

And I had to think about why the girls don't like to clean and care for their stuff. I know that part of it is from Momma's lack of desire to clean and care for stuff. But I know another part, the same part that overwhelms me, is that it is very overwhelming to have too much stuff.

A free toy at a garage sale is fine, but multiply that by three children and 4 times a month and it adds up!!

Shopping at Goodwill is fun and fine if you know what you need. But buying things just because you can get them on the cheap is just another way to fill your house with junk.


I have started with clothes. My girls have way too many. I had finally pared all mine down, but something inside me just snapped or something and I bought a ton of new skirts (all from Goodwill, but I did NOT need 20 skirts! WHAT WAS I THINKING!).

I have started only buying brand names from Goodwill. That will at least help me to get GOOD quality clothes (not Walmart reselling at Goodwill for what they paid for it new at Walmat). And it can be pretty difficult to find brand names at Goodwill because by the time I get there, things have been pretty well picked over. :)

We have also started already with garage sale season coming up. I will not be buying any more toys for the children. Well, I might buy things for Christmas and the occasional "I Love You" gifts. But I think that by making the children spend THEIR money on toys, they will learn to be selective about what they spend their money on, and they might be more included to take care of it. AND they will have to get rid of something they already have in order to get the new toy.

And it will also encourage them to get rid of more stuff because they will get money for it AND be able to spend it on things they want (like the souvenir from vacation or
the toy they really want).

And this will NOT be a double standard. I too will have to get rid of something before bringing something new into the house. If I want a new skirt, which one am I willing to part with? If I am buying yarn or fabric for a project, I need to make sure I finish the project. If it is something to sell, then I sell it and if it is for personal use, we use it. Having a small stockpile is OK, but nothing like what I currently have. Again, too much is overwhelming. I look at all the fabric that I have and all the projects I intended them for, and get overwhelmed and do nothing.

Time for a change. Actually PAST DUE time for a change!
Three things I am thankful for:
laughing with my children
EE's bright eyes when she smiles
a loving husband

Monday, January 28, 2008

THAT's TOO MUCH! (Updated)

Over at Sense to Save, there is a THAT'S TOO MUCH challenge

Ok, so we are trying to lower our utility bill (gas, electric and water is billed as one). WE have lowered the thermostat from 68 to 65. Recently we have been turning it down to 60 from 7pm (right after dinner) to 7am (when we start getting up and going). But do keep on SOME heat so you don't end up dead, like this woman who did not use her heater when she could have.

I have no idea how to do the savings with water. We have a front loading washer and I always run it full. I run the dishwasher full. We turn off the water while brushing our teeth. But I am sure there is SOMEWAY to reduce our water. I need to do some research on this. I did call and ask about "peak hours" as mentioned in the comments. Our utility company only does that for electrical. Our water is billed in "blocks." Which means if you use a small amount of water you pay less. You pay more the more water you use.

As far as the cell phone, even though we are paying $10 more a month, we have 50 extra minutes a month, roll-over minutes (which will save us money should we ever had to be in the hospital again) and my hubby has unlimited web access (which is beneficial as we use the internet to map out where to go as well as check and compare prices - this has saved us a LOT of money) and we have a second line for me. All for $10 more a month. WOOHOO!!

But the land line. We are paying $42! I am going to call and see about lowering it. SO right now, we have the basic BUNDLE (key word being bundle) where caller ID, call waiting and call waiting caller ID are "free." So when I asked what the BASIC BASIC no bundle line is, he said it was $14.88!!! (Of course there is still the taxes equating to about $12 here.) Our total bill would be $26! ALMOST HALF of what we were paying and THOUGHT we were getting basic basic and all this FREE stuff!

We don't need call waiting because they can always call the cell phone if the land line is busy. And without call waiting, you don't need call waiting caller ID. If we still wanted caller ID (to avoid those middle of dinner sales calls) it is an additional $7.50 a month. That would still be $10 savings a month. My mom just said for her basic basic it is $9.99 and that blocks them from making long distance calls. I asked about how much it would be for us if we had no long distance ability and they said it would still be the $14.88. But maybe somewhere near you it would be different.

They were also going to charge me $9.18 to do this. NO WAY! I contested it and the extra charge was removed (because she was able to re-process the order in a different way). So now, we are saving $120 A YEAR on our phone line! The only things we will miss are that special ringy-dingy when the call was long distance and call waiting (but isn't that what CELL PHONES are for?). :)

We do not have cable (woohoo!) and the newspaper we get Sundays only for $1 which is 25 cents less than it is supposed to cost AND it is delivered. :) And the magazines we are subscribed to, beloved gets through a special site and doesn't pay more than $1 per issue.

We have quite a good deal on our insurance and are pleased with it. We might be able to lower it.

Checking and Savings Accounts
We have switched to a local credit union (DON'T flush money down the toilet by keeping it in a bank, find a credit union - they WANT you and will most likely be able to find a way to make you a customer and if not, you can find one that will). But with the drop in rates, we are switching to a DIFFERENT local credit union which has rates 1 point HIGHER than the military credit union we are currently using.

It was mentioned about gym memberships. We do not have, nor are we likely to get one anytime ever. Right now where we live, there is SO MUCH TO DO to enjoy the outdoors here in Colorado! The children like hiking. And during garage sale season, there was a treadmill (something we have wanted) that was $200 marked down to $100. I gave her my number and said if she didn't sell it would she mind selling it to me (someone who would use it rather than try to resell it at the flea market) for $30. That treadmill is now a GREAT part of my winter workout! :)

Well, I *THINK* that is all. :) If nothing else, I am saving us an addition $120 a year! :)

Three things I am thankful for:
How the girls just dote on their brother JJ
How JJ comforts his sisters when he knows they are sad
How the girls allow JJ to ride on their backs like a horse, and the smile he has when he falls off

Reclaimed: Stairs Between Main Level and Upper Level

We finally took down the lights and garland and I did a THOROUGH vacuuming. I don't know WHY I put that off for as long as I did (*blush* over a YEAR!). I also removed all stuff that was hanging over the rails as well as stuff on the stairs. NO MORE! I have reclaimed these stairs! I will NOT put boxes on them. I will not hang things over the railings, and I will set aside time at LEAST once a month to give them a good vacuuming.

I always put off doing things because I don't think I have the time. But more and more I am realizing that if I just set the timer and DO IT, it does not take the two hours I thought it would. It usually takes 15-20 minutes. And now I know that it takes 20 minutes to vacuum the stairs with a GOOOOOOOOOOD vacuuming. Just enough time for the girls to be preoccupied with a craft! :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday Sweethearts: Free Fondue (Updated)

I really enjoyed our anniversary fondue dinner out last year. OH SO ROMANTIC!

Now YOU can get some FREE FONDUE from the Melting Pot! You do have to do a dinner for two (bummer!). Be sure to check your junk box (that is where mine showed up). :D

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday's Fun: Crafts With Kids

One of the best and most fun ways to tie strings with your daughters is to do crafts with them. After my post about being WITH your kids, I wanted to do a craft with them.

I knew how to finger crochet, but I never knew you could finger knit! This is a GREAT way to introduce your child (and yourself) to knitting. But of course, having my mom here (who knows how to knit) and AA having a knitting kit given to her for Christmas, she wanted to learn to KNIT knit!

Wednesday night, my mom showed me how to knit. She only knows casting on, the basic stitch (I believe it is called the garter stitch) and casting off. But we sure had fun!

Here is a little rhyme to help you when learning/teaching to knit:

In through the front door (right needle through front leg of stitch on left needle making an X with the right needle behind the left needle)

Run around the back (holding both needles in the left hand, wrap the yarn around the back (right) needle with the right hand)

Out through the window (bring right needle with loop back through stitch on left needle)

And off jumps Jack (take the old stitch off the left needle)

(Thanks to Shamama for the little rhyme! Be sure to visit her blog!

So, last night I sat down with AA and showed her how to cast on (the way my mom does) and to knit (the way my mom does). She LOVED the rhyme and said it over and over and OVER again. And the look of pure bliss and joy on my daughter's face was so priceless! She absolutely LOVES to knit.

This morning she remembered EVERYTHING about knitting! She repeated the little rhyme, and went knitting away! And still had that same look of pure bliss and joy as she knitted!! I am SO PROUD of her!!!

And it hit me. This is the first time (and I know it will not be the last) that my daughter doesn't have the same interest as me. She is DEFINITELY A KNITTER! And I still prefer crochet over knitting. But hey! Now I have someone who can knit me all those things I like that I don't know how to knit! And we can trade off and I can crochet her all the things she likes crocheted. :) OR even better, maybe, just maybe, she will really like BOTH. A mom can hope, can't she? :D

So what did the other two girls do while AA and I am my mom knitted? They did a craft too! I collect craft kits at garage sales and thrift stores when they are less than a dollar. I put them in a rainy day container to pull out when things get slow here or for something to do on vacation. I have everything from looms to sun-catchers to sewing in there. And last night they chose to make finger puppets (yes, I found a finger puppet kit). They sewed them (felt with pre-punched holes, yarn and plastic needles) SO WELL! Even MM (4 1/2 yr) had PERFECT stitching (without me reminding her how to).

It was such a WONDERFUL evening!

Three things I am thankful for:
The look on AA's face when she was knitting
THe knitting kit that she saw given that started it all
JJ says "tith you" for tissue and always wants one to blow his nose (even though it is not runny) and the HUGE smile of accomplishment he gets every time he blows his nose. :) And he LOVES books or as he says "Bou"!! :D And he says "aepp" for help and asks for help often (doing the sign). I am also VERY thankful I have taught my children sign language.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Train Up A Child...Financially!

OK Daddy, don't read this post until Sunday!

I am so proud of AA! The other day we were in Michael's and AA saw a book that she knew her Daddy would love. It was $14.99. She had wished that Daddy was there with her so he could SEE the book. (I love how she just wanted him to SEE it. She did not even ask to buy it for Daddy.)

Well, two days later, she saw a paperback version of the book for one dollar in the clearance bin! Well, she had one dollar (we have not worked on the whole tax thing yet, so Nana - my mom who is visiting - paid the tax). She asked if she could buy it, and I said it was her spending money, she could spend it on whatever she wanted. She was SO HAPPY she could get that book for her Daddy. As soon as we got home, she took it downstairs and wrapped it. (I love the fact that she spent her money on someone other than herself. Come to think of it, she uses her spending money for others quite often! YEAH!)

Later that night, she commented to me how she was just like the boy in the book. I was not sure what book she was talking about. She said it was the boy who went to the carnival. The online version of the Dave Ramsey book! I need to go find ALL my Dave Ramsey children's books and read them again and again! LOL!!!

She told me how she was smart and did not waste money, but had found a good bargain. I am so proud of her. Now I can only PRAY that the man God blesses her with is as smart about finances! I do not want them to ever be in debt.

Three things I am thankful for:
My mom helping homeschool the girls while she is visiting. The children's copywork has never looked so nice and neat!
The doctor's office was able to provide another case of Elecare, saving us $150.
My beloved

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Being WITH Your Children

Last night I watched a PBS special on the dangers of the internet. The parents were so heartbroken at having lost the communication with their children.

It turns out that even though a lot of parents are worried about the predators out there who turn up all the time on the 20/20 special, all of the children interviewed knew to just delete and block them. And I must admit that before watching this special, that would have been my biggest fear/concern too.

The main thing was that the children were having a PRIVATE life on the computer that they were not sharing with their parents. Even with the computer in the main room, as soon as the mom would walk by, the screen would go blank. And when parents asked for the password to their children's myspace accounts, they refused. The children were keeping secrets from their parents and having all these friends online that their parents never even knew about.

The books I am reading talk about how important it is to "tie strings" with your children. And after watching the special, I feel an urgency to do that. I want my kids to be able to talk to and come to ME for everything. And back when the parents of these books had children, the possibility of online friends was not an option.

But now, in a world where even I spend time on the computer blogging and talking to internet friends, I know that my children will want to follow in my steps. And they will want to do it at a young age, without the mental and spiritual maturity to handle it.

Even I get critiscm from people who read this blog. But I am mature enough to "dig for gold" and not allow it to affect me in a negative way. Sure it hurts, but more and more, children who are hurt by others over the internet (called "cyber bullying) are committing suicide.

I want my children to enjoy their time with me. I want my children to love love LOVE being with me. I need to spend less time on the computer. Even though my time on the computer is limited, I think I need to limit it more. Because I want them to not want to be on the computer. I want them to get on to get info and get off and enjoy your family.

I read a story (I believe it was in an Above Rubies about a mother with 3? teenaged daughters. They all came bounding in her room and bouncing on her bed and talking talking TALKING to her about the new baby they had just seen. The mother was envied by her friend for her close friendship with her daughters.

I know that right now, my girls seem to gravitate towards me. No matter what room I am in, they will gravitate to that room. It is almost like I am a giant magnet. :) I don't want that to end. I worry about it ending. I need to do more than just be in the room with them, I need to BE WITH them.

I need to find MORE things to do to tie those strings. What do YOU do to tie strings with your children?

Three things I am thankful for:
not only the ability to change, but the WANT to change to be a better wife and mother
loving to learn
how the girls love their baby brother

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday Link Up - What Else? Finances! (Updated)

So, my focus lately has been finances. I have been working really hard on learning to stretch our dollar and pinch our pennies.

Some sites that you might also find of interest:

Ever want expert advice on decorating your home, but want it for free? And want to make it happen for little to no cost? Check out Thrifty Decorating.

Freebies 4 Mom has some of the BEST coupon alerts, giveaways, and tips for using coupons. I love this site! Her favorite printable coupon site is I have discovered the joy of couponing! I need to schedule some time when creating the menu (and cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc.) to go through the coupons and print and correlate them to the menu.

The Bargain Shopper Lady has GREAT deal info!!

And Hooray for Free-bates gives you all the dirt on using rebates and coupons to get products for free.


The Bargainst has some GREAT deals! Be sure to add it to your feed reader!

The Consumerist has great consumer info along with deal alerts.

I did want to add something after reading on The Consumerist about the economy. I have been listening to Dave Ramsey free online (his show airs LIVE from 2-5 EST). Since it comes on during the nap time here in CO, I have it playing in the girls room during their nap time so they can hear it too. Sometimes they have quiet time. I am amazed at the questions they ask afterwards. THEY ARE LEARNING!!!! :) Anyways, Dave has some great info about the recession that is forcasted to happen. He says it ain't happening. The definition of recession has something to do with NO GROWTH (either flatlined or declining) for 6 months or more. He says that while things have SLOWED DOWN, they are still growing. I know that hearing that made me feel a lot better. :)

Three things I am thankful for:
JJ is excelling in his physical and occupational therapies
spinach dip - my mom makes THE BEST!
we are all healthy

Monday, January 21, 2008

How Dave Ramsey and Paying Cash for Gas saved me $500 in one day!

I have never paid cash at the gas pump. Even when my beloved and I were trying to get our finances in order and only pay cash (which we always failed at before), we agreed that it was best to still use the credit card at the pump. Mainly because it was just so easy. And there was no fear of over spending because you were only using the credit card for however much gas could fit into your tank.

Well, as I mentioned before, we are now as serious about finances as we are about our marriage vows. Dave Ramsey says to pay cash for everything. Paying cash for everything means also paying cash at the pump.

Oh it was so cold outside. Below freezing. I would have to stay outside longer if I paid with cash (walking back and forth from the pump to the attendant). Silly, I know. But the cold does funny things to your head! LOL!! I was so tempted, but a commitment is a commitment. So inside I went.

I really needed a car wash, so I mentioned that I would also like a car wash. He said that it was their policy to warn customers that because the temperature was below freezing the windshield might crack and the store would not be responsible for a cracked windshield.

Now most people might know that, but I had no idea that the water used for carwashes was HOT water! I asked him if when someone paid with a credit card at the pump, if they were given the same warning. He said no.

Had I paid with credit card at the pump, that could have happened! Let's assume that BOTH windshields (front and back) cracked. That is a $500 deductible to get both windshields replaced! I am so thankful that I was submissive to my beloved and paid cash for gas!

While the car was filling with gas, I used the COLD water that was free to wash the windshields so I could at least see where I was driving. The car was can wait for a warmer day! :)

Three things I am thankful for:
a husband who is as committed to finances as I am
my mom who is visiting right now
the smile of my children

Friday, January 18, 2008

Brand Loyalty Pays Off

First, I feel the need to clarify a bit of what I wrote yesterday. You see, I have alot of my dad in me. Growing up, I felt constantly belittled by him and stupid in his eyes. I was called stupid and felt constantly asked why I didn't think. To this day I still fight those thoughts about myself. And of course what you put on yourself you tend to put on your kids. I am trying very hard to break the cycle of "stupidity" and "not thinking" in my family tree. Your prayers for that are appreciated.

Now, onto a GREAT find. I notice that in most every finance blog I read, the word TARGET comes up a LOT. A WHOLE LOT! I don't think it is because these people are boycotting Walmart (for their poor quality stuff of outsourcing to China). But because Target has finally found their niche.

While Target quality is not the best, it is a far cry above Walmart. And not only that, but their deals are better too. We do a lot of our grocery shopping (produce, cleaning supplies, baby diapers, etc.) at Walmart. They have a pretty good selection of organic produce (and in their frozen section as well with pizza's and burgers and such). There is an AWESOME coupon generator which allows you to print out multiple copies of one coupon. (please be sure to notice that the produce coupon does exclude organic) So today, in need of diapers, I headed over to Target after printing out two coupons on LUVS.

Side note: we LOVE LUVS diapers. They are the best bargain diapers we have found. The commercial they have about using the high quality high priced diapers and then realizing that Luvs is just as high quality (actually BETTER than Pampers in my opinion) but a whole lot less is SO TRUE!

So you take your Target brand coupon and your Luvs coupon clipped from the paper and get to use BOTH on the diapers! Not only that, it is store policy for most stores, and I know Target does this, that if an advertised price is left out on the shelf, they have to honor that price! Even if the sale dates have passed. Today is the 18th. The sale price advert was STILL UP even though the sale price ended on the fifth. So when my diapers rang up at full price, I politely pointed out that they still had their advert up right in front of the diapers that said they were $14.99. So they honored the price and my coupons. WOOHOO!!

Three things I am thankful for:
the Target coupon generator
Dave Ramsey
my sisters in law Katie (and I am not just saying that because she reads my blog! Lately she has shared some great advice with me that I am working on a post to share) and April (who has been very supportive during a rough time)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Eating What You Have

I am so blessed. I have three wonderful girls that are eating lentil soup. I have a TON of lentils because I would always buy some thinking I did not have any. So since we are trying not to buy anything, I made lentil soup. Lentil, watered down chicken broth (to make it last), herbs, some frozen corn and some frozen onion, carrot and celery (soup starter). They are asking for seconds. :)

Three things I am thankful for:
Lentils :)
Grateful girls who are also very polite (when they want to be)
The mouse in the backyard (which JJ enjoys watching hop on the snow to eat, then off the snow to warm his feet - and now JJ says "Mou" so another word "Mouse" has been added to his vocabulary)

Life Lesson - expectations

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I was basically told that I was a child. And while I am not a child, and did not act in a childish way (although admittedly, I can and have in the past), it was hidden expectations put on me that I did not live up to that made me look like a child in this person's eyes. If I had simply been told what was expected of me, I could have lived up to it.

And I suddenly was very convicted. How many times have my children done something and I thought "How STUPID! Why don't thy think?!?!" (Yes, I am admitting that I times I can be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mother.) And yet, have they been trained? Have they been taught? Or do I have hidden expectations that make them fall short because I have not shared with them?

I know not everyone will agree with me. But sometimes I think a child just needs to be told how to do or not do something. That it doesn't just "come to them." And that I as a mom cannot expect my children to automatically know how to do things. I need to tell them and if I don't tell them, I cannot be angry when they don't use common sense. They don't have the common sense at an early age not to touch hot. We tell them not to touch and then it becomes common sense.

IF only I can remember that in every area/aspect of their lives. :)

Although can anyone tell me when common sense comes? I am so ready for my children to have it in every area of their life. :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tuesday LInk Up - Sites and Finances

I stumbled across a most beautiful blog the other day. It is called Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage. This blog is beautiful. Her posts are short and straightforward (oh to be a woman of few words!!). I feel good after reading each and every post. I encourage you to take a look.

Another blog that I am SO HAPPY she left a comment on my blog so I could find her is BarbaraLee. What a GREAT blog!!! WOW! I could spend hours reading over this. If you are serious about your finances (and proud to be a stay at home mom) then you will enjoy this one as much as I do!

And while pinching pennies is a great way to slowly over time save some money, if you really want to make my child happy, you might consider using pennies to make others happy.

And of course, since finances have taken a major priority in my life right now, here are some GREAT reads that are in my feed reader that I try to visit daily. A STAR (*) next to it means I know it is without a doubt Christian. If it does not have a star it just means I was not able to tell. It might be secular or it might be Christian and I just haven't figured it out yet. :) IF YOUR BLOG IS LISTED BELOW and it does not have a star and you want one next to it, please let me know. :)

*Money Saving Mom
*Like Merchant Ships
*Sense to Save
*Being Frugal
*Gather Little By Little
(a special post for Meredith and others with debit cards to read)
Thrifty Florida Momma - not just for FL!! :)
Millionare Mommy Next Door
Saving Advice
One Money Dummy Getting Smarter
Millionaire Money Habits
Finance For A Freelance Life
I've Paid For That Twice Already
Free Money Finance
The Simple Dollar
Get Rich Slowly

Monday, January 14, 2008

Teaching Kid's Finances

I really am loving Dave Ramsey's advice about finances! My husband and I are both on board and we have a vision.

I like a LOT of what he says about children and finances. We were blessed to get three of his children's books in Chick Fil A meals a year ago. And I found another one at a garage sale that she wanted 50 cents for, but I got it for free (because she refused to take a dime for it). LOL!! So I have four of his six books. :)

My girls LOVE these books! When we first got them (before Brian and I were even watching the Financial Peace University videos), our girls would BEG us to read them in the evenings (during our reading time). I would even get hounded several times a day "READ MINE PLEASE!" :)

Well, Dave Ramsey has created a kids site! It has a few games and print outs as well as one of the books is read online!! It is really nice!

The one thing I disagree with him on (and he is fine with disagreement...he shares what he did and what has worked for him) is paying kids commission for chores. I agree with him in no allowance. But I believe that children need to have daily chores that they are responsible for and are required to do JUST because they are a part of the family. There is a time when they will be grown up and have to do daily chores just because they have to and they will not get paid for them.

HOWEVER, there are PLENTY of jobs in every house hold that are above and beyond the daily chores. Where mopping might be required daily, a commission could be paid out on wiping down the walls or doing the windows (admit it, when was the last time YOU did windows?). I remember that Gary Smalley had a list of extra chores (moving the lawn, cleaning the garage, etc.) that he posted on the fridge along with a price next to each. His children could pick and chose to do those extra chores for extra cash but only after they had already completed their daily required chores.

I had never really thought about giving money to younger children. But Dave starts as young as 3! I really had to think about it. If you don't start giving extra money until the teen years, then you throw a teen into handling money without the training! It is STAGGERING how many TEENS and young adults are in deep deep debt!

So start them out early. Dave has a Financial Peace Junior kit, but if you know the principles you can do it without the kit. This year we are starting fresh with our children and the way they think about money. They will each have their SAVE, SPEND, and GIVE envelopes. I bought some wallets at Goodwill some time back. They will each get one to put their envelopes in.

Dave brought up a good point that it is different for a child to give money in Sunday School that they EARNED rather than just being a carrier for Daddy's money. And they need to learn about taxes and being good stewards of their money. Don't pay the tax for them. And don't say "you've been a good little girl, here is the extra money to get what you want." That is hard, but I know that my children will learn the value of money and hard work if they have to earn enough money to buy what they want. Having them do an extra chore or two and WAIT PATIENTLY to come back when they have enough money will increase their character.

Be sure to check out Ben and Arthur's example. It is really powerful.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I Can't Believe It!

So of course after such a low yesterday (and you don't know the half of it), I have hope. It seems when I am at my lowest, God lifts me high - high enough to see over the mountain and hope is restored. Today I will talk about just the financial part.

As I mentioned before, we have been watching Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. We have a plan now for our finances!

We will have the VISA paid off by Feb 16!!

We are also saving for the annual family reunion and will be able to pay cash for that! (Thankfully we have been given free room!!) We have not been since two years before I got preggers with AA (who is about to turn 8). And with this past year and all that happened with JJ, this is really important and has become a priority. Dave may disagree, but life happens and we will go and start saving and blow it on gas to get to see family. :)

We still have a second mortgage to pay off and will still be able to pay min payments and right now we are waiting to see how three months go before we start to plan to pay of that. But just running some numbers we know that God willing it will be paid off by the end of the year!!!

So by the end of the year we will have finished baby steps 1 and 2!!! WOOHOO!!!!

Also, I am so proud of my beloved. He had the courage to do what I would never have. Some how he had the receipt for over $30 worth of stuff at a local store. I won't mention the name, but it was a craft store and it is nationwide. He took some items back to return that he had bought over 2 1/2 years ago! The store policy is store credit if returned after 60 days and with receipt. They were SO MAD at my husband and yelled at him and huffed and puffed at him. But my beloved stayed calm.

Now you have to understand, my beloved kept the stuff in pristine condition. If you had brought something off the shelf, you would not have been able to tell which was which. And not only that, but my husband was HONEST! He had and showed the receipt. If he had not had the receipt, the store would have had to give him more money (which the store manager made sure "not to give him a penny more") and would never have known. But my beloved was a man of integrity and yelled at for it!

Then it was on to Walmart to return $40 worth of stuff. No problem there.

Then onto Target to return most of the stuff my husband had bought on after Christmas sales. People KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS! Even though he had bought it for 50% off and they were now at least 75-90% off, hubby got every penny back. Over $50 back on the credit card!!!

So where a typical day in the past would have had us spending over $100 on STUFF (food included), we actually "earned" $100!!! Some was on VISA (less to pay off) and some on gift cards (to be used to buy food and craft items to make things to sell to make money). :) WOOHOO!! Financial Peace, God willing, here we come!!!

Friday, January 11, 2008


Writing that update on JJ (below) reminds me of just how much life has changed around here and how different life is now that all that has happened.

We have to carry a throw-up cup every where we go with JJ. An epi pen also has to go whenever he goes. Which means we have to be very careful about what he eats and what he might get a hold of and put in his mouth.

We are not able to eat out nearly as often (nor as easily) as before. We have not found a restaurant that has anything he can have. :( Salad bars are the closest because he can have several of the fruits and veggies.

Whenever he coughs, he has to be "hit" in the chest (in just the right way the therapist showed me) several times. This is very difficult in public as it does attract a lot of negative attention.

And as JJ is getting older and wanting to eat what Mommy and sisters are eating, making meals is getting more and more difficult. He has the oddest food allergies (who is allergic to garlic I ask you?! and garlic is in almost everything prepackaged!! not to mention a favorite we like to use when cooking) so that makes it difficult to find food/recipes. I just joined a food allergy group on yahoo and am hopeful to get some MEALS to make.

I am on the phone several times a month with either the insurance company or doctors (still no word on the huge hospital bill that no one knows what is happening with) trying to sort out co-payments and money due and money I already gave you (do you need to see the receipt?). Thankfully I have saved us a lot of money doing this.

I don't think God ever wants us to be comfortable. When we are comfortable we are not growing. I heard someone say that with some things, we rise up on wings like eagles. With some things we run and don't grow weary. And some things we just endure like Paul says... Just pick up your cross every day and carry it.

Update on JJ

I thought I would just send a mass email updating everyone on JJ.

He is about 24 pounds now (possibly 25 by the time his next appointment rolls around). (Remember he was 16 pounds at 17 months.) He is eating well for the most part. Some days he acts like he will eat us out of house and home, and others he does nothing but drink. We still have not really gotten him to eat any sources of meat for his protein. I have tried most all forms of meat cooked in different ways. I have discovered that while he doesn’t eat most fish, he will eat sardines. :) LOL!

His spoken vocabulary now includes doggie, baby, up, no thank you, and help. He is still signing and picking up new signs. The therapists are worried that he is not speaking as many words as a child his age should, but Brian and I are not worried. He has more words in his vocabulary than EE did at her second birthday. And look at EE now!! :) She has an extensive vocabulary. :) JJ has a willingness and want to communicate, so the therapists are VERY pleased with that. They say he is very social (and every one there just adores him). :D

His physical and occupational therapy is going very well. They are always extremely pleased with the progress he makes while at home. This is good because I know that while we were in the hospital, they were very concerned that he would not be able to thrive at home with 3 other sisters competing with mom for attention and a mom who homeschools. They set a few goals for JJ to meet, and at his last appointment he had done all the ones they shared with me (I am not sure if they had more or not). They were surprised and told me that they had expected for it to take him "much much longer to achieve those goals".

He is so very happy. He almost always has a smile on his face that goes from ear to ear. There are those moments where he gets frustrated with his sisters or with a toy that won’t do what he wants it to. :) But he is so very sweet and loving and caring. He really is a little Brian in that way. :) He has taken to having to do everything Daddy does (and everything his sisters do too). If Daddy is sitting somewhere in a certain way, JJ has to sit right next to him in the same way. JJ will toddle along following Brian wherever he goes. It can get quite funny when Brian realizes JJ is following him and will walk in circles just to see what Josiah does. :)

All in all, JJ is doing well. The doctors are pleased. His therapists are pleased. His sisters are so happy to be with Josiah. And Mommy and Daddy could not be more blessed or more proud.

Blessings, Paula

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Retrain Your Brian

When we no longer have a use for something, we usually think of only two options, both include getting rid of the item. Either give it away or sell it. Well, sadly for me, there is also the third option of throw it away. But I am starting to learn the value of another option.

REPURPOSING! The old adage of "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" really has much more meaning to me now. I already shared about how I finally made croutons from dry bread that I normally would have just thrown out.

Meredith shares about how she keeps from accumulating too much (love it!) as well as about how she repurposes.

And Rebecca talks about how she made over a dress. MY goodness girlfriend that is so beautiful!! I need to learn how to do that! Do share!!! How do you train your mind to think of these things?

And Monica shares how she repurposes too. Here too!

Why is is so hard to repurpose things? Why do we get into this mentality of an object has one and only one use? I loved Meredith's idea of using an old cloth napkin as a basket liner. I NEVER WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF THAT! So simple, yet a great way to make it do. :)

This brain of mine needs to be re-trained to see these things differently. I have always known you could reuse old sheets for fabric. Cut them up for matching napkins and placemats. Make a dress out of it. But I need help retraining for all the OTHER things!!! I need to get in the mentality of:
Am I able to sell this and make some god money?
Or do I know someone who is in need of this item?
If not,
Am I able to barter this item for something else I need/want more?
Or can I find another way to re-use this item?

I wonder if there is a board out there where you share items you have that you are thinking of getting rid of, and everyone tells you all the great things you can do with it. Maybe they have even done something similar themselves and have a picture or a tutorial or a pattern. :) Heck, you might even be able to barter the new item you made from the old item that nobody wanted. :) Wouldn't THAT be cool???

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Saving Money on Heating

I had been keeping the thermostat at 65. Beloved turned it back up to 68 (where the utility company suggests you keep it no higher than) last month. Our electric bill went up near $70!!! Now true, two of those days we had no windows (windows were being replaced), and we did have a space heater going in the garage for a few days while the dog was sleeping out there. But WOW, an increase of $70 is quite a bit!!!

After getting the bill, beloved turned the thermostat back down to 65. :) I try to get him (and the girls) to dress WARMLY. Wear those stockings and bloomers. Wear sweatpants on top of your bloomers. Hubby wears sweatpants under his jeans (skinny man!!!). We will see how much it helps cutting back those extra three degrees.

But still, sometimes we get cold. I am wondering about lowering the thermostat even more at night and then up during the day while we are here and moving around. I have been doing some research and came across a great article on how to make a cherry stone bed warmer. I must admit that I am pretty excited about this!!! :)

Cherry pits are supposed to retain heat longer and release it more slowly than grains usually used in heating packs. A dear friend of mine, Brenda mentioned that she is not sure if they are or are not a moist heat (which grains are) which is really good for penetrating. But what she has read so far it seems like they are. So cherry pits might be a good way to keep warm and to help a hurting back. I have not been able to find information on the moist heat of cherry pits. Might check on her blog in the future to see if she does. She is a whiz with this kind of stuff. :D

Oh check this out! There is a great little post on Crunchy Chicken about it. I have read this article, but if you decide to wander from this page, read with a discerning heart, as I would hope you do with all blogs (even mine). :)

As to where to buy cherry pits, you can buy them from The Cherry Pit Store. You can also do it yourself, but one article said it takes 30-40 pounds of cherries to make one pillow. THAT'S SOME SERIOUS CHERRY PICKIN and eatin!!! LOL!!! You might also see if there is a cannery nearby that you might be able to get them really cheap or possibly even free (Dave Ramsey says bargain EVERYTHING!) :) SO who knows! :) Keep me updated if you do this or if you have experience with making one yourself. :)

I know I am thinking of making some cute small ones for boo-boo's to keep in the fridge. They are supposed to stay cold longer than grains too. :)

Reclaimied: Dinning Room

The great thing about the question posed by Reclaiming The Home (Ravelry group):

"How did you reclaim your home today?"

is that it is so FREEING! I am so encouraged! I can reclaim something as big as a level in the house or a room in the house or something as small as the top of the refrigerator or a drawer in the kitchen. Just reclaiming something so small can make you feel so GOOD!

And the freeing part is that I can choose what I want to reclaim and who cares if it is just the pen drawer in my desk! :) I reclaimed it and it is now nice and neat and pretty to look at. IT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD and it encourages me to do more.

Remembering that this can be small REALLY helps me. I started off just wanting to reclaim the dining room table. Our dining room is part of a great room (minus the kitchen). I have always felt that BOTH rooms HAD to be cleaned at the same time. But remembering that reclaiming can be small, I was able to do just the dining room and make it look so NICE AND PRETTY!!

I use a quilt rack to hang our tablecloths on. It is a fun way to display them, know what I have AND a great way to keep the wrinkles out!! :) Since we have two dining tables, I took all the ones that did not fit the dining room table and EE folded those and put those in the bench of the other table in the kitchen. Then we cleaned off the floor and vacuumed it. (It had never occurred to me I could vacuum just one room - I know, silly me.) I took everything that did not belong in the dining room and put it where it belonged. I am no longer going to use the dining room for storage! YEAH!!

Then EE (and AA offered to help her) made the table, picking a table cloth from the quilt rack, some placemats (fabric) and some napkins (fabric). EE placed the placemats and AA folded the napkins in a pretty style and placed them near each placemat. IT LOOKS SO PRETTY AND ELEGANT!! Now I just need to put some candles in the center and we are ready to go!

The dining room is part of EE's zone and she is responsible for cleaning it up and keeping it clean (a very overwhelming and sometimes neglected task). Working with her today and encouraging her (and not having it be a storage area for her anymore) really encouraged her today! She is able to clearly see what needs to be done and will have a much easier time keeping a reclaimed area clean!! :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Tuesday Link Up - crafts

Free Vintage Craft Patterns has crochet, knitting, tatting and other craft patterns as wel as instructions! Pick a new craft and learn it!! :)

How fun is this? Bath Cookies!! Just make sure to give them to adults and not children! They look too close to real!

More Free Patterns from the same site.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Reclaimed: Entertainment Center

I posted this on another group and wanted to share with you. It is in association with a blog called Reclaiming The Home.
The question posed was:

"How did you reclaim your home today?"

This was my answer:

I reclaimed the entertainment center. The DVD’s! They were a MESS! So I had the girls help and we reorganized them, we even decluttered some! Then I have some books that are FULL of TV free activities that I keep right next to the TV. I organized those so they would be easier to access. Then we went through and got rid of all the VHS’s we had bought DVD’s (don’t need TWO of the same movie now that the oldest can put in and take out a DVD properly). :)

I placed all the scrapbooks in an easy to reach spot (yes, we have a LOT of storage in our entertainment center). :) It is so important for me to capture all these moments with them because I know that I look at my mother’s and grandmother’s pictures and wonder who/what/where and no one knows. And now my grandmother has passed away. The girls LOVE looking at themselves when they were younger (look at that - you DID love your sister at one time!). :) I also put all the hiking with kids books next to the TV free activity books. A reminder that when the weather gets better to not watch the TV but go take a HIKE! :)

I also found out that I had MORE than enough space to add some of the daily homeschooling books as well as the Bible I have been reading through with the children. I did not realize I had so much space!!! Now it looks and feels so nice! And I was able to clean up some books that had just been lying around in the living room and put them in the entertainment center! Yah!!

Now onto reclaiming the living room!!!

I did it and I feel GREAT!

I was forced to do it. It was a craving that just had to be satisfied and there was just no other option. It was just staring me in the face and I just had to overcome my fear and just do it.

That's right....for the first time in my life, I made croutons. :)

We had some bread that my husband had bought on clearance for Christmas. It was pretty dry. And there is no money in the budget fro croutons. :)

It is amazing how picky you become when you are shopping with cash and you vow to spend ONLY so much cash at the grocery store. Things that I would just grab on a whim, I now realized where part of what was putting us into debt.

The left over rolls were about 25 cents. The little bit of olive oil and herbs I used to flavor the bread was prolly about 25 cents. So I usually pay $3 for our croutons. I made them for just over 50 cents (gotta pay to heat the oven and wash the dishes). :)

I took the brad and cubed it (no easy task considering the bread was pretty dry). I put the cubes into a bowl, drizzled them with olive oil and tossed with herbs (garlic, onion powder, Italian herbs). I pre-heated the oven to 350F and put the coated cubes on a jelly roll pan (love my Pampered Chef) and then turned the oven down to 200 and baked for 15 minutes. Then the oven was turned off and they stayed in there until cool. I was not able to find a RECIPE recipe for these, so this is what I did and it turned out pretty good. I stored them in a ziplock baggie. YIPPEE!!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Friday's Fun: Just Do IT!

With my kids enjoying crafts, they got a lot of crafts this year (and from years past). I know that I have the best of intentions when I get them the craft kits, or when they receive them from others. "SURE Momma will help you make it." But then life gets in the way and I forget, or get "too busy" (how can anyone be too busy for their kids?) or worry too much about the mess that will follow.

My girls have proved themselves time and time again. The excitement of a craft gives them the encouragement to clean it up when done. I always remind them BEFORE we begin the craft that at the end, there must be a clean up, and they always come through - even without being reminded again at the end!

And yet I still hesitate. Silly me!!!

So today we took out one craft and worked on it, together. It was a wonderful tying strings with my girls!! And not only were we tying strings, but Momma was faithful to her word.

I still have a box full of craft kits to do in the future with the girls. Something to pull out on those rainy days where they are stir crazy and Momma is going crazy. :) Just a little reminder to DO those little kits with your kids. They won't remember how it looked (because TRUST ME - it will not look like something to remember), but what they will remember, the TIME you spent WITH them.... that will stay with them for life.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

You May Prove The Will Of God

I have had to really think about what I REALLY want to accomplish in my life. While my ultimate goal is to glorify God in all I do and say, I fall terribly short. Sometimes I think I should put duct tape over my mouth to avoid saying things in anger. And sometimes I think I should toss out every TV and computer so I am not tempted to waste time on them rather then investing in my children.

But I am reminded of a story of little boy who was being very horrible to his mother. She finally told him to sit in the corner. The little boy replied "I may be sitting on the outside, but I am still standing on the inside!" I am reminded that it doesn't matter what kind of obedience (even that forced upon me by duct tape) I show God, it is the obedient heart that matters to God.

So I need to change my heart.
"Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
I need to change my conduct.
If you have indeed heard Him, and the truth is in you, put off...your former conduct..."
I need to put on a NEW man.
"...put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge..."
I need to renew my mind.
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

That is POWERFUL!!! I may prove God's will. I find it interesting that the word MAY is used instead of the word CAN. Being a home school mom, it was important to me to teach my children from an early age, the difference between those two words.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Tuesday Link Up

OK, so I totally forgot Tuesdays are when I share links. LOL!! SO just pretend yesterday's post is todays and today's post is yesterdays. :D

While I currently do not knit, I plan to learn some day (just like I taught myself to crochet). So, until then, I will just admire the adorable free knitting patterns for tea party food.

I would have never thought of felted soap.

This post reminds us of our worth in Christ and not in a blog.


I got this in my email from a local friend who is the originator of the email and am passing it along for those of you who might now someone or are someone with a BOA CC.

We've been going through our credit card statement online today and reconciling it with the holiday shopping receipts we have. We found a couple of charges for $10.65 from ilicsolutions and alana designs- we did not buy anything from these places! after doing a quick google search we discovered that there are a lot of people who have been charged this same amount by the same people or others using another company name during the days of 12/10- 12/12. The charges on our statement were made on 12/10. You need to dispute the charges with BOA if you have them as they are a scam. Someone has evidently compromised the BOA sales records for those days and harvested the CC numbers.
So, go check your statement and look for any charges of $10.65 that you didn't make!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Christmas Dinner for $15

Our Christmas for $15:

Usually our Christmas Dinner is overflowing with food. We make a little bit of everything and fill up the table with goodies. Our fridge then becomes stocked with leftovers which seem to always go bad before we can use them all. I am not sure why or how it happened, but this year was WONDERFULLY different.

Maybe it was because we only had $15 to spend.

I was telling my husband how Crystal takes $35 and ONLY $35 dollars with her when she does her grocery shopping. She takes a calculator and adds it all up as she goes along, making sure not to go over the budget (pretty embarrassing to get up to the grocery counter only to realize you have $40 worth of food and only $35 to pay for it).

So hubby was shopping (he is the cook in our house when it comes to the fancy dinners - I do the everyday stuff, he does the fanciful stuff). And he only had $15 cash left. So as he went shopping, he added everything up in his mind. And he spent just cents less of $15. :)

He bought organic chicken (on sale), some rolls, cranberry sauce (the canned kind because **I** like it, although he prefers to make his own), carrots and celery. He also bought a pie (which normally we make ourselves, but pecans are so expensive, it was cheaper to buy one than make one). He also bought something else, but I cannot remember what.

He did comment on how difficult it was to stay with the cash he had on hand. He realized just how easy it was to pick something up to purchase it just because you wanted it (after all, that is a GREAT price for it!), rather than truly needing it. I must admit that I am happy for this because I usually send my beloved out to buy a few things and he comes back with a bunch! This will help him to get back sooner as well as help keep us from overspending. Taking cash only with us to buy groceries will really help keep our grocery budget under control.

We had roast chicken (a leg for each person) with carrots and celery. Sides were herbed rice (we already had the rice and herbs), cranberry sauce, veggies and rolls. And for dessert, pecan pie.

I was amazed at how simple and elegant dinner was. There was no rushing around to cook this and that. There were no foods to keep warm while others were cooking. It was nice and simple and .... WONDERFUL! There was no hustle and bustle. Just a simple and elegant dinner to enjoy together. And everyone got plenty to eat!!! :D