Thursday, January 31, 2008

January Tornado

Tuesday seemed like the normal weird weather Indiana January day. (Many will attest that Indiana weather is never predictable.) It had been in the 50s and rainy. By evening a cold breeze began to stir. There was that familiar smell in the air. The sirens began to sound.

We had a tornado go through our neighborhood last spring which the kids remember quite well. We lost our shutters and power. But our neighbors six doors down and beyond lost their roofs and walls. It was a powerful lesson for all of us about God's power and grace.

With the sirens came the shaking and tears. Our wonderful back door neighbor allowed us to find shelter in her basement where there was nothing but silence. She was home without her four children because she had her wisdom teeth pulled earlier that day. Poor Sandy was feeling awful with an ice pack to her face. But as usual she greeted us with a smile. We played games, tried to be quiet and left about and hour later clueless to all the excitement we had missed.

About 3 blocks away the houses sustained major damages with 100 mile per hour winds tearing off roofs and walls. About 100 Canada geese became projectiles into windows and siding. Can't say I'm sorry we missed that one. If you're curious (I admit I was) you can check out video coverage here.

Tonight we are expecting a winter storm with up to eight inches of snow. It's crazy.

Gettin' the Word Out

My good friend Jennie that I wrote about here has a blog now! She is probably the most energetic, real and giving person that I know. I'm sure that you'll catch some of that just from reading.

Her twin boys, Taylor and Spencer, were diagnosed with autism this past year and she's recording the journey. If you know anyone in a similar situation please pass it on or if you want to see the inside life of autism drop on by to pay her a visit. It's eye opening and you're sure to learn a lot.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Eight Years Old

Miriam has many meanings: "one who loves and is loved, "wanted child." She is all of that and so much more.

Miriam turned eight this week. This year I have seen more of her tender heart. Miriam may seem quiet to some, but she is full of feelings of joy and compassion. It is not uncommon for her in a moment of happiness or pride to have tears streaming down her face. Or when others are hurting she will be reaching out with tears of compassion. This year when I told her the account of Christ's crucifixion the tears would not stop coming. She wasn't sobbing in pity, but she was truly moved by such a Love. She does not hide her feelings nor is she embarrassed by them.

Miriam has proven herself to be a worthy student. She is always writing down pages and pages of words. Sometimes she is expressing her thoughts and other times she is copying a book or the Bible. She has learned to read fluently without much assistance and is always the first to get out her school books in the morning. She takes joy and initiative in learning.

Miriam now is the oldest in her room. It's been a big change and a blessing to see her take leadership. She is very patient with the younger girls often cleaning up after them without complaint.

Lest anyone call Miriam timid, her moves on the basketball court would demonstrate otherwise. She has quickly picked up on her favorite game. She works with 100% effort listening to her coaches in order to improve.

Miriam, I am proud to be your Mom. You bring so much joy in to our family. There is no one in the world like you.

Happy Eighth Birthday. You are loved and I am most certainly blessed to be loved by you.

The M&M Caper

Guess what I woke up to this morning? Two kids with chocolate breath standing over me asking, "Can we have breakfast?" Both of them had a brown ring around their lips and were smiling.

You see I've acquired several bags of M&Ms at CVS over the past week and had put them in a pretty little bowl in our china cabinet. Every time Joseph walks by there he says, "I smell something yummy. What is that smell?" (As though he doesn't know.) That should have been my first clue.

Well, when it was all confessed and the consequences were met I went to find one, yes, one, lone red M&M in the bottom of the bowl. They consumed nearly an entire large bag! They cried. They were sorry. Rebekah whispered (this is what she does when she feels guilty) a hundred times, "I love you Mommy." They promised to make me more. "Mommy I will cook you more. How do you cook M&M's?"

It is always hard not to smile when things like this happen. I could care less about the candy, but I do care about their hearts. I want them to know that I love them enough to provide boundaries and consequences. And I want them to know that there is grace and M&Ms in their future. However, I don't want them to know about where I've hidden the other six bags.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Rose Walk

Yesterday we participated as a family in a memorial service held downtown to remember the lives of those children lost to abortion. A friend of ours was one of the coordinators and approached us about having our children participate. We had never been to an event like this, but were glad to join in.

It was a interdenominational service. There were a few songs and three very powerful testimonies. The first woman spoke about her years of silent grief as she and her husband lost seven babies to miscarriage. Much later in life they adopted their son from a sixteen year old girl who chose to give her baby life. This young mother was from a Christian home and could have taken the "easy way" out through abortion, but instead (in the words of the speaker) "gave me back my life as well." Since that time, the family has been active in speaking out and encouraging other pregnant women to do the same.

The second speaker was a middle aged man who held a sign that read, "I regret lost fatherhood." As a teen, he agreed to help pay for his girlfriend's abortion. She was insistent and he did not stand in the gap to protect his child. He was uninformed and caught in a tough situation. He has lived with this pain ever since and found forgiveness in Christ. His message is to the men of America to rise up against the lie of abortion that is taking away the lives of innocent children.

The last presenter was a young lady who spoke of her mother's own teenage pregnancy. Her mother received her pregnancy test at a pro life clinic and received a pin of tiny feet the same size as the 10 week old baby in her womb. Her mother was surrounded by many friends and teachers that encouraged her to get an abortion but this pin presented to her the reality of such a decision. Without support, she chose to keep and raise her daughter. Since then, her mother became a Christian and now has eight children and is expecting another. The young lady spoke with tears of gratitude recalling all the things that she has done and will do all because her mother made the choice to give her life. The girl's mother was actually present and stood with her.

The ceremony ended with a reading of the years 1973 and on along with an announcement of the number of children aborted. A person born in that year came forward and placed a rose on the stage. Our children carried roses and represented several of those years. I am saddened by the sheer numbers of lives lost- millions and millions. I am grieved thinking of all of those mothers and fathers who have an empty place in their hearts. I am angered that laws allow the taking of an innocent life are upheld in this country.

From the memorial hall we took posters and banners to the streets and walked silently downtown. I personally have never participated in a march or protest. It really didn't feel like an act of defiance. Rather it seemed to me an acknowledgment that babies die everyday through abortion. Their lives matter and they are not forgotten.

As we were walking, I kept trying to keep track of the kids.
"Whose missing?" I asked Sean.
"They are all here. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7," he said.
"Oh. It always seems like there is someone missing."
"Aren't you glad there is not? "he smiled back.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

January's Frugal $400 final

Well the numbers are in. I've challenged myself to a $400 grocery/household budget for 2008. Today I finished my shopping at Kroger and added up my receipts. I won't say this month was easy and I won't say that it was always fun. I'd become a WalMart shopper for the past few years thinking that I was saving a bundle. Well, now I might never go back there again.

Because, for January I spent a total of (drum roll please.........)

Breaking it down-

CVS $ 71.93

Aldi $101.97

Target $56.10

Kroger $104.03

Menards $14.01

Once Upon a Child $13.78

Gifts $26.67

with a total savings of $408.91!!!

Today's Kroger run was particularly rewarding in that I got all of this for $38.01. The milk was free because I bought the Kix which were on sale and had a coupon. There was also some nice steak and salsa on manager's special and $6 off my purchase of 9 Kraft items. The five bags of salad were free as well with coupons. The bulk of the price was for the birthday ice cream, spices and cheese. Not a bad way to end the month.

I want to do even better next month. I not really talking about spending less. I'm talking about getting more and better quality for our money- being a better steward. So, I've been pondering what I need to do differently and here are my goals for February:

1. Break the $400 budget in half paying the money envelope at the beginning and mid month. I think that this will keep me from buying things only because they are on sale and allow me a little piece of mind come the end of the month.

2. Make a menu for the whole month of February and then shop for weekly sales according to this list. I think being a little proactive might mean that we actually have some meat in our menu instead of just beans.

3. Continue adding to my recipe blog and finding enjoyment in caring for my family with what God provides. It encourages me when I'm encouraging others. So if you're encouraged please leave me a comment. It's so encouraging:)

I think I'll stop there and focus on these things next. With the $12.00 remaining I think I'm going to take it to the local beauty school and get a pedicure before my surgery.

**You can see my February menu and plan further developed here**

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sanctity of Life

I work as a postpartum nurse and lactation consultant about 12 hours a week on average. I truly love my job. I love the medical field, providing comfort, teaching, critical thinking, and relationships. I've been doing couplet care for almost eight years now and still believe that I'm right where God has called me and is able to use me most.

Lately we've had a number of moms (of all ages) who have come into the ER in labor not knowing that they were even pregnant as well as moms who are addicted to street drugs. Though I try, my brain just can't seem to imagine that a woman can carry a child within her own body and be unaware of its existence. Nor can I imagine a woman knowingly giving her unborn baby an addictive poison. In both cases, these moms are harming their children with sometimes life threatening circumstances or at least life altering handicaps. They say that denial and addiction are stronger than common sense.

Our state/county is slow to act and these babies go home with their moms. As nurses this is unacceptable to us especially when we see how that mother acts angry towards her infant during the night refusing to feed it because she is "tired". Yet she somehow has the energy to go outside for "fresh air". Or as I witnessed last week a mother holding her baby girl for the first time and saying, "I've always hated infants. But I guess maybe you're kind of cute." We talk at the nurses' station about who we think that we will see in paper in a few months having been arrested for neglect or worse. They say family dynamics are complicated and they can receive assistance from community services if they need help.

But what does God say?

Psalm 139

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

These children are not unwanted by Him. They are created uniquely and beautifully. They are not accidents or problems. He values them individually and calls His church to reach out with His hands and His heart to them.

Mankind at the core is selfish and trying to position itself in God's place . "It's my body." "This is my life that will be ruined." "This is my baby. I don't want it, but no one else can have it." So children are aborted or kept in an unsafe, loveless home.

Being that it is sanctity of life week, I've been reading and seeing a lot about abortion in our country. Last week I even subjected myself to listening to an abortion doctor's interview on NPR to hear exactly where the abortionist is coming from. In this doctor's view she is the compassionate one saving the lives of mothers from unsafe medicine. Truly it all comes down to a person's view of God as the giver of life and all good things. It boils down to the fact that many believe that truth is unknowable or relative to the situation.

Because God is the Redeemer, I know that He has worked miracles in the lives of neglected children, mothers who have had abortions and even the doctors who perform them. He has used the pain and ugliness of this sin to call many to Himself. Our Redeemer does live.

Personally, I've been saddened and convicted that I need to not only be praying more, but I need to be acting as God leads. First, I need to be teaching my own children about the Truth of God's Word and the world at large. I need to be loving them in real ways that reflects their worth as God's own. I, also, need to be His hands to the unborn child as well as those infants and children whose life is not valued. For me this translates specifically into encouraging and nurturing that bonding relationship at work with reluctant mothers instead of shutting them down because of my own frustrations. I don't doubt that there is much more that God will convict me to do as well.

In closing, if you have time view this video, 99 Balloons, please do. It is a precious story of a family who chose life for their son and their journey of faith in letting him be healed by the Lord.

There is also a documentary called In the Womb which we rented through Netflix. It is an incredible feature on conception through birth with amazing 3D ultrasound footage.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Things They Say

Joseph (while aiming a toy bow and arrow at my head while I'm fixing dinner): Are you an outlaw?!

Me: No.

Joseph: Then you must be an in-law!!

Betsy came to me in her Upwards uniform and asked:

Betsy: Mom, what does this say?

Me: Upwards.

Betsy: "How come Lydia's shirt says something different. Her letters go the other way."

(It took me a second to figure out what she meant.)

Me: Oh, the letters are the same, but yours seem backwards because of the way you're looking at them.

Betsy did a 180 and turned so that her back was to me.

Betsy: Nope. They're still backwards mom.

Joseph was whining and running in small circles like a puppy chasing his tail and pulling at the back of his shirt.

Me: Joseph, stop. What is the matter with you?

Joseph: There is a ticket following me! (aka his shirt tag:)

Want to read other funny things kids are saying. Go to Mary's for Tiny Talk Tuesday.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hey good lookin'

Well, today baby John took another step into the world of big boys. His curly blond hair has lost some of its luster in this dry winter weather and he was way overdue for a cut. We've been trying to snip it back here and there, but the boy just freaks out every time we try. After reading the story of Samson to the kids last week we even considered trying to cut it when he was asleep. But because he's our last baby, I took him to Cookie Cutter's for the baby spa treatment.

He's diggin' the car. It's not so bad.

Maybe I spoke too soon. Fear and trepidation sets in.

He's not havin' it!

"Mom, save me from the torture!"

My little man is lookin' good!

"Say cheese."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Come to the Table

As requested my recipe blog is up and running. Being that our grocery money for the month is nearly gone I took stock of my pantry and went on all in search of ideas. I made a short list of needed ingredients, shopped and now I'm ready to go.

The purpose of this recipe blog is to provide healthy/low cost ideas for large families. I'm going to be steering away from the typical casserole dishes. They do serve alot of people, but they are usually more expensive than they are worth and not at all good for you. My expert panel of judges will be weighing in with a thumbs up or thumbs down. There will also be a lot of before and after pictures because we all know that the true test of a meal is how much food is left on the kids' plates.

Personally, I hope that this blog will motivate me to keep on budget and think outside the box on many levels. Having all my recipes in one place will be a bonus, too.

So, I hope that you will come by The Full Table for a look and pass it along to any large families you may know.

Blogging with a purpose

Alaina has kindly given me this award and it came at the most appropriate time. At the end of the day I want to lay my head down knowing that God has been glorified through my life. Sometimes, it is obvious how He is working. Other times I have to look really hard through the craziness and squint and tilt my head just the right way to catch a glimpse of His glory. This is not because of Him, but due to my own sin and the struggle to be in this world but not of it.

Last week was one of those weeks. So this award came at an opportune time to remind me that anything good that I do is because of God's grace. It is certainly not doing good things that makes a person a Christian, but rather the gift of faith first and then the privilege to do good things in His Name.

Ephesians 2:8-10 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

I do desire that my blog glorify God and bless others. There are several blogs that I read on a regular basis that may be different in content, but all have one thing in common. These woman are driven to write because of their love for the Lord and desire express their thoughts and lives in a way that brings glory to Him.

I hope that you have a chance visit each of these and are blessed as I have been.

Michelle at Morning by Morning is a fellow mom and homeschooler who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her blog is a record of this journey and her walk faith. She is honest, inspirational and wise. I know that she would invite your prayers and comments of encouragement as well.

Catherine at Catherine Wheels is an avid reader of all literature who provides a monthly review of books. I happen to know her personally and love to read her writing because her personality and voice really shines through. Catherine reads as though she has the Bible in one hand and the book in the other. Her reviews are well written and intelligent. I have been challenged not only to read more but to be a more thoughtful reader. She also reviews children's books which is fun.

Mary at Not Before Seven is a mom focused on loving her husband and family in real ways. She has three preschoolers and is enjoying life at home with them and helping others do the same. She hosts Tiny Talk Tuesday which is a carnival to record for the world all the witty and cute things that kids say. I'm glad for this forum to encourage me to not let those moments pass without taking note. She also is reading through the Bible as God gives her time and recording her reflections. Her life reminds me of this Scripture:

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."-Luke 10:40-42

Saralyn at The Place Beneath speaks forth clearly and honestly on real issues of life. She doesn't try to hide her struggles or her victories. She blogs about all different areas of her life, but one thing shines through. She desires to be pleasing to God and loves Him deeply.

Thanks for sharing your lives. Now it's your turn. Go here to get the information on how to pass this award along.

Friday, January 18, 2008

January Frugal $400

Well, we are past the halfway mark of this first month of my challenge of $400 for the grocery/household budget. Sadly, there is little money left in my wallet. Where did it all go? Well, I'm not quite sure, frankly. Something tells me that if I'd stop taking out a dollar here and there for a Diet Coke than I'd have a lot more. I've been stuffing receipts in there and really need to do an audit to see what happened. I have shopped for grocery deals, CVS and the miscellaneous and our pantry is fairly stocked at this point. So that was the $400 part and now it's time for the frugal.

I'm going to be working hard to use what we have in creative ways. We have been getting expired/near expired organic products through a local warehouse which was out of commission for the holidays. They were back in business this past Tuesday and now I have several new grains to work with and lots of yogurt (did you know this stuff freezes?) for the kids to snack. I picked up some cookbooks from the library yesterday. We'll see what happens there. I plan on using my $28.00 in Extra Care Bucks for milk, eggs and diapers if we need. The rest of the budget money will go towards fresh fruit.

I'm thinking about adding to my blog recipes for large families. Non processed/ pantry friendly (things you already have)/ easy recipes that will feed 10-12 for little cost. Or course a smaller family could split it in half and freeze some for later I suppose. Anyone interested? What kind of recipes would you like to see?

I'm already thinking ahead to February and what I could do to avoid the mid month pinch that I feel now. More on that at a later time.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

One of those Days

Well, what can I say. (silence)

I'm trying to think of how to describe the day that I had in one word.

Trying. Yes, trying. It rivaled this day.

We had our first official field trip of the semester which meant that we had to get up a little earlier than usual and be completely dressed and out the door by 9:00. This is no easy task, mind you. But the task became suddenly harder when half of the kids could not find their shoes. "Mom, I put them away," they protested. Not. The shoes were outside the back door. They had been left overnight in the rain and had a lovely layer of snow on them by this point.

We scrounged and searched for other shoes that were "put away" and when we found them thirty minutes later I was ready to just stay home. I had planned to take the kids back to the Central library for the afternoon which would entail locating many library books to return. You see we've reached our limit on books (125, I believe) and would not be able to check anymore out until we brought some back.

At this point I sat all the children on the stairs and explained to them that originally I had planned to have some library fun today, but due to the shoe fiasco that would no longer be happening because there was not enough time to collect the books and be on time to the museum. Chins were quivering. I was indifferent. When a mother is indifferent it is a clear sign that she is in serious need of help.

By the time we got loaded into the car one child was hyperventilating and in hysterics. She claimed that she has never been so disappointed and that she was sure that I "harbored hatred in my heart" for her. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. I had no idea that I had made such an impact by my little speech. Sadly, it probably had something to do with the volume and tone of my words. At this point, I was feeling horrible!! What kind of monster am I? We prayed in the driveway. We forgave each other and committed to start the day over. We ran inside and collected as many books as possible. Yes, we would try to go to the library after all.

Believe it or not, we arrived at the museum on time. Now, this is an art and history museum on Native American Indians. There is a small area downstairs with a cool stage coach that the kids enjoyed and then, we went upstairs. There's something about museums that brings out loud voices and running feet in children. No matter how hard I tried someone (Rebekah) was running in circles, or reaching out to touch a sculpture, or yelling, "Betsy, where are you!!" there was no stopping them. Of course there were the lurking art museum employees dressed in black who stared and followed us everywhere. "I'm doing the best I can here!" I wanted to turn and say.

This is an example of the stress level involved here. In the foyer there was a interesting statue of a cowboy on a horse. The sign said, "This is a model of a statue. Please touch." So like boys do, they touched it. In a split second there was a uniformed employee waving his arms and charging across the gallery. "Do not touch!! Do not touch!!" (Imagine a Jamaican or New Guinea accent here.) The man protested that this precious item was not be handled. My friend had to read the sign to him two times before he shook his head and walked back to his post. I still don't think he believed it was true.

As art museums go, some of the exhibits were a little on the edge and freaking even me out a bit (like the exhibit of a torture chamber looking bed thing or some disturbing "art" objects made of walrus intestines). Besides, I was getting tired of hearing myself say over and over again, "Don't touch. Stay with mommy. Shhh.... Keep walking Stop looking at that." Needless to say, we were glad to move on to the library.

I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we ate in the car. I had not made these sandwiches ahead of time (obviously), so this lunch preparation involved me sitting cross legged to hold the bread and balancing an open jar of runny organic peanut butter and some jam on the dashboard. It was an astounding feat. We sat by the side of the road to do this and there was a policeman parked a few spots behind the van. I could imagine this officer seeing several of my children climbing over the seats and coming to inquire about our activities. "Officer, we're on a field trip. We homeschool." And then dumping peanut butter in my lap. Thankfully, he did not.

At the library there was a gradual meltdown and loss of all control by those three and under. Running and hiding. Dumping books off the shelf. Sitting on the floor and refusing to move another inch. And John absolutely flipping out when another toddler touched his shirt. The boy went mad and would not stop screaming. That child's poor mother couldn't stop apologizing. I felt so bad.

It was clearly time for our little family to go. The self check station is located in the cavernous atrium of the library where even a whisper seems to reverberate. Well, much more than that was heard today as John continued to melt down. What can a mother do when it is obvious that there is nothing she can do? John was screaming. Joseph and Rebekah were lying in the middle of the floor. People's smiles quickly turned into stares and we quickly exited.

And to top it all off as I was getting ready to pay the parking garage fee I discovered that the pretty little Vera Bradly zipper pull was missing. That was my favorite part of my purse. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Budding Artists

Want to keep your preschooler busy? Want to inspire the little artist in your midst? Want to do it with minimal mess and no money out of your pocket?

Here's what I did years ago and it still one of our kid's favorite quiet activities. I went to the paint section of a store and asked if I could take as many paint sample cards as I wanted. Of course, they said yes. I grabbed a large handful, took them home and cut out the individual squares then placed them in a small shoe box.

Whenever I'm looking for ways to keep little hands occupied I get out the box for them to play with. Sometimes I ask them to make separate the colors into groups. Other times I ask them to place them darkest to lightest. But most times I just wait and see what they can come up with on their own.

It's intriguing to see how think about color and the small differences in hues and shades. Each child sees it differently.

Head over to Rocks in my Dryer for other great ideas!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Deal of the Week


A free houseplant from Lowe's thanks to this coupon.

And Elizabeth in her new dress for my sister's wedding purchased at Target for $4.95.

Little Cabin in the Woods

Just what I needed at the end of our first week of the semester as I was even annoying myself with a reluctant attitude and rigid schedule at the homeschooling grindstone- A weekend getaway!

I spent 36 fun filled hours this weekend in a cozy cabin tucked away in the woods with other moms from our homeschool group.

I barely knew them prior to this because our interactions are often interrupted by the sounds and activity of the other 60 or so children in the church basement. We all come from different backgrounds, different churches, different sized families, but one thing that we all have is the same Lord and the same conviction to have our children at home right now.

We stayed up waaaaay to late talking (until 4:30 am!!), but then slept to a blissful 11:30 the next day.

Hiked a 2+ mile trail which really got rather hot in this January weather.

Played my favorite game Quiddler and Are you smarter than a fifth grader (I plead the fifth).

Ate waaaaaaaaaay too much Mexican food and the best Chex Mix I've ever tasted (this was probably due to the fact that it was coated in corn syrup and brown sugar. Salty but sweet. Oh, yeah) and discovered the wonders of fresh guacamole at 11:30 at night.

We shared our burdens and prayed and encouraged and laughed and will likely never view Cheeto's quite the same way again (don't ask).

It was really challenging and refreshing to be in an atmosphere where I could ask questions about homeschooling and get feedback from those who are working through the same things. It is a rarity that there is a place to talk about home education without offending or annoying others, let alone a setting to share my failures and fears. I always want to portray the positives of home education to others. So I usually just reply, "It is such a blessing to watch them learn," or, "It's not as hard as it might seem. There are so many resources".

It really was the best. Can't wait until next year!!


There's been some funny things being said over here. I tell them to Sean about every night and then I forgot. Could it be early onset dementia? Here's a few I can remember right now.

Joseph: I didn't know our van was a boy. (He says this while squatting to look under the car)

Mom: What do you mean?

Joseph: He just peed all over the driveway.

Elizabeth (6) gave me an early Valentine with a coupon in it that read: "I will do my school work by myself because you are so busy and always have to help me."

Rebekah (3) looking in a three panel mirror at Target: "Hi what's your name. I'm Rebekah. This is my doll..." She proceedes to repeat this over and over and over and then turns to say, "I have a lot of Rebekah friends." Pretty cute.

The older girls had their first Upwards basketball/cheerleading game on Saturday. Joseph is too young to play, but he nonetheless had a great time cheering loudly on the side lines. My favorite? "Go Cheerleaders, Go!!!!"

For more laughs go over to Mary's for Tiny Talk Tuesday.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pain free saving

I thought I'd join all those at Biblical Womanhood with my two cents worth on this topic: Five Painless ways we saved $100 last year.

1. We cooked oatmeal for breakfast. Between the 9 of us we normally eat 1 1/2 boxes of cereal a day. This would easily cost $3.00 or more. However a canister of oatmeal at $1.29 will last us 3 days (and be more filling, too). When we substitute oatmeal for cereal 3 days a week we save around $7.75. Multiply that out for the year and we saved around $400 last year. Not bad.

2. We shopped for new home owners insurance and then combined it with our car insurance. This was so easy and saved us around $400.

3. We committed to only put 1,000 miles or less on our 15 passenger van a month. (Not including vacation travel). This meant that we planned to combine errands and appointments or waited until evening to drive the minivan. Don't know how much we saved exactly, but I have no doubt that it was well over $100.

4. We found a more frugal way to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Everyone gets their own order of 3 torilla shells ($.85), we order one Fajita combo- steak and chicken ($12.99), a side order of shredded cheese ($.95), a side order of lettuce ($.95) and a large plate of refried beans ($.95) . Everyone makes their own tacos. Of course there is limitless chips and salsa as well. We are able to eat out for around $30.00 (tip included-we try to tip well because there is always a big mess to clean up). We would be spending double that or more otherwise. This has saved us a bundle.

5. Until CVS, we made our own baby wipes. The cost for a 2 month supply was approximately $12.00. ($10 of Bounty paper towel and $2 for baby bath and oil) I know over the years that we have saved several hundred dollars.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Back to Reality

I've had such a fun time playing and reading and taking pictures and blogging and planning...ah, December, how quickly you go... It's pretty amazing how much time is freed up when homeschool is out of session.

But, alas, reality is here and we were back to school on Monday and Sean is back to teaching. Hence, my blogging will no doubt be more sparse, but I plan to keep reading and being inspired and challenged by your lives.

The past few weeks have been one party after another (literally).....

We enjoyed some family time at the Children's museum.

Sean's aunt, uncle, cousins and their spouses from all over the country came over for a Fondue night.

This is Nathan Shaver, an up and coming Christian recording artist from Nashville , TN. He's married to Sean's cousin Rachelle. Watch for him! He's the real thing.

Sean's family met at our house for a New Year's lunch.

Great grandpa Ahart still proves to be the life of the party at 83.

We celebrated with my family. We wrote our "Where I'm from" poems over Fondue and read them aloud. There was a lot of laughter and a few tears, too.

We had the first annual family talent show.

My mom proved herself an artist making my dad into the Mona Lisa.

The Boy Band Rocks

The girls perform a choreographed number

Sean took our seven kids and two neighbor friends bowling while I was at work (that man deserves a medal).

The older girls went shopping with their gift money and now they are sporting some new shirts and Heely's.

We worked on the hardest puzzle in history. A large Peanuts cartoon made of 1000 small ones! (It's still not completed)

We went to visit the newly opened Central Library. We love the library, so the kid's eyes about popped out of their heads when they saw the enormous building to house all of those Nancy Drew books. Little did we know that there was the coolest kid's section known to man waiting inside with a theater, and pod chairs, a baby play area, Reader Rabbit computers and so much more! We are going back, for sure.

Sean and I enjoyed staying up late and watching movies, going on a date, and just having extra time to spend the days together.

...but I have to admit that I am longing for a bit of routine myself. Time to get quiet again and to learn and to work.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Hand-me-down Mahem

It's backwards day and just in time!

We are so blessed to have many people think of us when it comes to hand-me-downs. My husband is a private school teacher so there is quite the exchange going on over there between the staff. My mother in law purchases children's clothing from her co-workers for the kids. And my sisters and I are constantly passing back and forth all kinds of things. These clothes are barely worn and are usually even in style! It really is such a relief to not to run out shopping every time someone grows around here.

However, I am not mananging it well at all! I can barely get my own laundry done and off the couch let alone handle another box full of clothes to sort through. Currently these boxes and bags (people must be purging right now) are in my bedroom glaring at me to take care of them.

What do you do to manage to flow of clothes coming in and out of your homes? I need a workable system here that won't take over my life and space. What system do you have in place? Because I have none at all. Help!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Ahh, the "S" word. I know that women fall all across the board on their view of submission and my point is not to argue anyone else's, but simple to remind myself in print that I haven't gotten this one conquered.

I have struggled my whole life with submission to authority. I think it really stems from the fact that I often think (wrongly) that I am smarter than others. It took a good amount of discipline from my parents to bring me under their authority. Soon I figured out that proper behavior would keep me out of trouble, but I was often raging in my heart or consumed with thinking of ways to still get what I wanted. Thankfully, God reined me in and I grew to love and respect my parents. I believe that this was a direct result of their ardent prayers and a softening of my own heart from hearing the Word.

This bent to be independent probably worked in my favor during the teen years, because I was bound and determined that no person (boy) would own me. I had many wonderful male friends, but they were kept at a safe distance. If they showed any sort of interest then that was quickly squelched. Even if a guy would put his arm over the back of my chair I would move away. I was not going to be trapped or held in place by anyone.

Again, I softened up as I got older and allowed others a little closer. I think that this was more intriguing than anything because many of those male friends showed a more serious interest. I was flattered, but in my heart knew that it would never be more. Why? Because I knew myself enough to know that I would never submit to them. It wasn't that I didn't like them or care for them or enjoy them. They were worthy of respect. I just knew that my rebellious heart wouldn't give it. I needed a strong leader. Someone who would challenge and stretch me. A man who would love me to the point that he would require me to do things I did not want to do but were for my own good.

Well, God gave me all of that when he gave me Sean. Sean has never given me cause to disrespect him. He never demands that I take his point of view on things or do things his way "just because". I can go to him with my questions or differences and he patiently explains his view. Most convincingly, Sean is a student of the Word and can show me in Scripture where he is coming from. I'm not going to argue with that.

However, Sean will not back down from what is True. He will not apologize for obeying God and does not swerve once he has been convicted to do something. If there is a rub, this is where it lies for me. As women usually do, I'm a little more ruled by emotion:)

"But, Sean," I say in the sweetest voice possible, "we don't want to offend them or hurt their feelings." "Now let's just think about how we could do this a little differently so people will like us." "Maybe if we just wait..." "It wouldn't be comfortable." So supportive am I. And I'm usually on the sidelines sweating bullets and ringing my hands waiting for the other shoe to drop, while doing my best not to cry or complain. Submissive, I know.

I'll give you two prime examples:

Sean's grandma was diagnosed with cancer while we were expecting Elizabeth (her name's sake). One Sunday afternoon while I was about to lay down for my long awaited Sunday afternoon nap, Sean informed me that he thought I should take the baby over to see his Grandma. I wanted to do no such thing. I was so tired. Their house is hot (it was July). I had about a thousand reasons why this would not be a good idea. Sean would not back down. He didn't argue. He just said, "I'm sorry, out of respect for me, you are going to go."

I grumbled all the way there. I couldn't believe that he would demand me to do such a thing! I spent the afternoon there letting her hold the baby and took some pictures. That evening she slipped into a coma and died within a week.

Did Sean have some special insight? No. But God was leading him in tenderness toward his Grandma and that required that I do something, too. I have been thankful countless times for that afternoon and for those pictures. I consider myself blessed to have been one of the last people to speak to her. That precious time would have been missed had nothing been required of me.

Another example. Sean was asked to read "scripture" for his Grandmother's funeral mass and was handed a script to read. Well, it wasn't God's Word. He couldn't read it. So he informed his family that he wanted to participate in the mass, but would be reading from the Bible only and that he would be praying his own words. Some were very offended, but others began to question. The whole time I was internally in knots convinced that this is the worse offense ever.

But he would not back down. He was willing to stand for Truth in the most sensitive and difficult of situations. He loved his Grandmother deeply, but loves God more. The result of the story is that God used this encounter to open the heart of his aunt and her family to hear the Gospel for the first time.

What brings all of this up? A few weeks ago, there was a conflict in an activity and my commitment to obey God in an area where the lines are very clear. It seemed that they only way to obey was to make a lot of people I love upset. Couldn't we just move the lines a little? Sean said, "We are not backing away. We know what is right. It's final." I brooded. I complained. I pouted. I was ugly. Poor him.

Sean just looked at me and said nothing else about it. Though hard as I may try, he was going no where on this issue. It wasn't a matter of being inflexible or stern. There just wasn't really anything he could do to change it. And worse than that, I was confronted again with the fact that I may be submissive in action, but not in attitude.

But you know what God did? He intervened. He changed the schedule so that all worked out perfectly. No one else knew any differently. But I did.

Such a stark reminder going into this new year that there is so much more work to be done in me. My attitude toward Sean's authority is a pretty good indication of my submission to God's and vice versa. Being submissive is not being commanded what to do, it is walking in loving obedience.

And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. -2 John 5-6

Saturday, January 5, 2008


The day after I posted about my Frugal $400 challenge, my good friend Jenni stopped by with her trunk loaded full of food for us. She is again tweaking her family's diet and ridding her home of certain foods. My table was full (I mean full) of frozen meals and canned goods. Jenni and I have been freezer cooking together for a few years now so many of the items are familiar to us. I'd say this will last us 2-3 weeks!! God is so good. Thanks again, Jenni.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Frugal $400

We've been looking over the budget for 2008 and things are looking good from here. Not much wiggle room, but we are going to be fine. Of course there is always room from improvement and places where there needs to be a little nip and tuck. There is the option of one or both of us working more hours, which is always helpful when finances are tight. We're not afraid of a little work. But, I'd much rather us learn to live under our means and use extra to pay down debt or save for some fun summer trips. And who doesn't feel a lot more comfortable with a little cushion, right?

So I have challenged myself to get our grocery/household budget down to $400 a month for this year. I know that sounds ridiculous for a family of nine, but with prayer, some resourcefulness and planning, I am hopeful. I'm going to be using only cash for these transactions so that I will have a handle on what's available and will be soliciting the help of my older girls with the coupons and time in kitchen cooking from scratch. I'll be posting my final totals at the beginning of each month and keep you appraised of some highlights and recipes along the way.

I hope that this exercise will serve to keep me accountable and that it will also encourage you as you manage your homes and budgets.

So, here goes. I did my shopping for this week and here are the great deals I found:

At CVS I was able to purchase diapers (4 packs) and soda for the month, vitamins, some much needed Oil of Olay products for me and the girls, dark chocolates and a planning calendar. There are also 3 glucose monitors which produced $30 in Extra Care Bucks that I will donating to a local clinic. This took four separate transactions in which I used $90 in coupons and ECB.

Spent $36.25 out of pocket and have $25.00 Extra Care Bucks for milk this month.

At Super Target they have a lot of produce marked down. For example, 5lb of potatoes were 2/$3 and I used 2 $1 off coupons. Those will go a long way. Campbell's soup was also marked down and with a coupon was $.35 a can. I spent $19.57 there.

It's not rocket science. I just went to Money Saving Mom and Thrifty Florida Mama and followed their lead.