Category Archives: Parenting

Living Large While Living on Little: Surviving Financial Crunches

A week after my husband’s college graduation we were married. We had a couple thousand dollars, and Emanuel worked on the weekends doing DJ gigs while searching fervently for a steady job. Not to mention, a baby on the way!  We lived off of that saved money for an entire summer. When the reserves were almost dry, he got a sales job in the fall that paid terribly and sporadically, but it did pay! Despite this we did not just survive- we lived well. We were wise with our money, but ultimately it was not our doings that got us through, it was God’s doing. We made and lived on less then 20,000 a year that first and second year of marriage, with a baby and me as a stay-at-home mom.

Summer 2012- little did I know there was a fourth person in this picture as well!

Two months ago my husband got a new and better job that utilizes his degree! This was great news for us, but there was a challenge in the exchange. We would not see another paycheck for 6 full weeks due to switching pay periods too. There were no reserves, and yet, at the end of the six weeks we still had a couple dollars left in the bank.  When the paycheck did arrive my younger sister said, “I bet you are soooo relieved!” I had to pause, because even though I was very thankful for the money in the bank, and all our bills paid without a hic-up, I had already surrendered to God. I couldn’t let the amount of money I had, or didn’t have, dictate my feelings or I would of been miserable for my whole marriage! My security does not come from a job, finances, or a bank, but in God’s plan and provision . This may seem impossible, but I assure, you nothing is impossible with God.

How I try to deal with financial crunches and tough spots in life:

My construction paper wreath that I made. A small reminder for me to Give Thanks.

My construction paper wreath that I made. A small reminder for me to Give Thanks.

  • Cultivate thankfulness. How can you cultivate thankfulness? It means not taking anything for granted- your health, shelter, food, spouse, children, anything extra you have like a cell phone, television, books, or even a hot shower. Except God’s love for us and his eternal promise, nothing is guaranteed. Everything else is simply extra. If you still struggle with finding thankfulness, make a list of all the things you do have. The blessings that have been granted to you, the mercies that were often undeserved, but were still given. We can look at what we don’t have (money, a job or even a better job, connections, a house, a car) and in doing so we can create a spirit of dissatisfaction. This spirit drips a poison into our hearts to make us bitter and not open to what God can and has blessed us with. We say “I would be happy if I only had…” It’s not wrong to desire those things, but we need to not let our happiness rest on the wings of things or circumstances because they will never be able to carry the weight.

Niecy Nash says, “If your hand is open to give, it is open to receive.” Picture from Ennvy.com

  • Niecy Nash, The host of “Clean House”, my favorite reality television show says, “When your hand is open to give, it is open to receive.” This is a biblical principal that has permeated my life. We honor God with ten percent of our increase no matter the amount we have in the bank. God commands it, so we do it. “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Malachi 3:10 This verse embodies how we have made it these past two years without using credit cards and loans. We rely not on a job, but on God for provision. He does use avenues to bless us like our job, but that is not his limitation for where and when he can bless us.

Good stuff. Picture is from daveramsey.com

  • Don’t spend more than you make. It sounds simple, but it can be hard when what you make can’t possibly cover living expenses. Right?… Well, it isn’t easy, but you have to start somewhere and where you start is a budget. Everyone cringes at the B word, but it is one of my favorite words, an old friend and a strong ally. When I evaluate my income then look at my expenses I can see what needs to happen, what I can have, what I can live with or without. If you are new to budgeting I can’t stress enough going to Dave Ramsey’s website and making a budget in the tools section , for free!!! His advice on dealing with debt, budgeting, and living well helped my parents, who are small business owners,  be debt free, and pay off their home! You can be in control of your finances even if you feel trapped. Often, we put off the things that are hard, or heavy to deal with, but I hope today you decide to take charge in your finances. When you know what you need you can ask God for help and find wisdom to deal with the issue at hand. Money is something most everyone has to deal with, or it will deal with you.
  • Cut living expenses (then cut again.) This looks different for everyone so all I can do is show you what my husband and I did:
    • We have two babies, but we do not live in a two bedroom dwelling. We now can afford to live in one, but instead we live in a one bedroom condo with a loft that is being converted into my daughter’s room. (Will be finished next week!)  We have plenty of room and to me it is pointless to make the move until we need to make the move. This saves us a ton of money
    • One vehicle. This vehicle drives my husband to work, back home, Church on Sunday, and the occasional date. It doesn’t handle long trips or frequent trips in one day, but it still runs and I am so thankful for it!
    • I grocery shop at Aldies. It is cheap and I can buy my groceries for two adults (one who is breastfeeding), and one toddler for an average of $65 a week. That includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
    • Reusable diapers. These are the life savors to my budget. Disposable diapers are expensive and for more of my thoughts on those check out my post My Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapering
    • We primarily dress our kids in used baby clothes. In the past two years, for special occasions, I have purchased 3 outfits for my toddler and 1 for my baby. Everything else has been given to us. Of my four sisters, three have children and between them accumulated enough clothes that I never need to buy baby clothes.
    • I breastfeed. This saves money, but like I said, this is what we do. Everyone should make their own choices for how they want or can nourish their child. You can check out my thoughts and experience on breastfeeding here.
    • We use a Britta pitcher for filtered water. Water bottles are an expense we can do without.

Those are my basic go-to’s for surviving financial crunches. Please comment below. I’d really love to hear your experiences, ideas, and tips in the area of finances!

Our awesome family photo was taken by Sweet Dreams Photography Thanks so much Tammy.

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Fairy Tales and Faith

Imaginations run through the woods and over brook. The breath of the wind races along beside us the grass tickling the bottom of our sprinting feet. The pulse of Mother Nature’s heart pounds in time with ours as we suckle the outdoors, nurtured by the awe and splendor of her curved and creviced body.

After reading a yarn every place I look seems to have creeping creatures. The bugs are fairies in disguise, the sounds of crickets a symphony of pleasure and the song of summer. The words in a book give life and new meaning to the events that course through the mundane day-to-day. In the darkest times I have felt comforted and uplifted by words. Stories hold a power over the reader that extends beyond time and space.

Eowyn admiring part of my fairy and fairy tales collection.

Eowyn admiring part of my fairy and fairy tales collection.

We read to know we are not alone.”        -C.S. Lewis.

If you would like to help a child to develop into a caring, well-rounded, and independent person, read to them and to themselves. In a book a person will wear the lenses of countless viewpoints, find characters that struggle as they do, hope in the darkness, and the ability to overcome when all is counted for loss. A book is a portal to other countries, cultures, and planets. Fairy tales are hope’s food for young and old.

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” -Albert Einstein 

Why fairy tales; not science, geography, and memoirs? There is nothing wrong with these and they should be put into practice as well. But, when they are young, when they are just beginning to peak at paper pages and are curious of the magic spells that lie in their grasp- it should be fairy tales. A fairy tale is a truth for the soul, not just mind. It rings true with every people group; we all have them, whether they be in the form of legends, myths, superstitions, or rhymes.

The purpose of such a tale is to stretch the possibilities of reality; to go beyond what we understand and see. To those landscapes of the mind plentiful with magic, unforeseen danger, but also endless wonder. Just as faith fuels our belief so fairy tales begin a child’s process of belief. Their capacity to believe in the unseen is astonishing- from the little funny gnomes who live in their walls (who are constantly taking their socks), to the monster lurking with a slobbery mouth under the bed or closet. A child’s heart longs to be a part of a world that is hidden within the one they live in. This seems to mirror the concept of a fairy tale that mirrors a spiritual truth. We all long for a world beyond our own.

Jesus used parables to connect with people. God inspired humans to write a holy book to connect Him to the entire world. People need stories! To inspire, relate, learn, build faith and put to place those complicated emotions. It is universal and entirely too important to skip out on.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Romans 10:17 NKJ)

In these ways- faith, imagination, belief-  make fairy tales instrumental in sharing Christianity. When you read the bible to your little ones, don’t read word for word, but as they were handed down, in the form of a story. Describe David, the young Sheppard, watching his fluffy flock of sheep when along came a humongous hungry bear. David knew his job was to protect his sheep, so bravely he put a stone in his trusty slingshot, swung it above his head, and released it- “WHAP” it hit the bear in the head. The bear lay still, never to hunger again…” The bible is called the living word, why not put a little life into it when you speak it to your kids?

Remember, fairy Tales teach us to dream. (Dream big mama for your family, wellness, finances, and spirituality.)

Happy Mothering!

Further Reading:

Indulge in this fantastically fantastic essay “On Fairy Stories” by J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” a series that inspired my daughter’s name, Eowyn.

http://public.callutheran.edu/~brint/Arts/Tolkien.pdf

Check out “Fairy Tales” by George MacDonald to enjoy a break from the typical Grimm Fairy Tales

http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Fairy-Tales-Penguin-Classics/dp/0140437371/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374686396&sr=8-1&keywords=fairy+tale+George+MacDonald+penguin

Sources:

New King James Version of the Bible- verse located in Romans 10:17

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/fairy-tales

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/305767-we-read-to-know-we-are-not-alone

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Being Fired: Keeping Things in Perspective

I have never been fired- until yesterday.

Recently, I picked up a job as an independent contractor performing dispatch. It was really great. Our friend ran most of the business, I got to stay at home answer the phone, and put in orders. Super easy and since I’m a stay at home mom, no need for daycare. The work was just to make some extra spending money $50-100 a week. Still, to a mom who is very spend-thrifty it seemed to have endless possibilities.

I was shocked when I received a call from my friend’s son, he is very sweet, informing me that his dad was thinking of firing me. His dad was not in the car and didn’t realize his worried son even called. I laughed and told him he was being very kind to think of me, but not to be concerned about it. I quickly went through a list in my head of reasons why I would be fired. Perhaps the company was too small to consistently pay me, or maybe I wasn’t doing a very good job? (I was only trained in 30 minutes.) Surprisingly, when I called my friend, he said, “Yes,” they were going to let me go. But, not for reasons I would have thought. Some clients had complained about the children in the background.

Eowyn, Baby Dee, and Me

After being fired I found myself disheartened, but also bemused by the reasoning. Children have always been a way of life for me. My mother owns 51% of the successful company my parents share together. My mother has five- now grown- children.  When we were younger she was taking a million calls from people and running the business. She did it at home-with five kids (sometimes 6.) I didn’t really think of children as an annoyance or hindrance, but a way of life. She made business and kids somehow work. (Of course she would get frustrated on occasion.)

This being said, I do not blame the business or my friend for letting me go. I honestly understand why they would need someone more professional and available to catch every single call perfectly.

It would appear my children were a drawback in this ares. I do think, however, that children should not be looked as a hindrance to your dreams- financially, spiritually, or physically. It would be easy for me to get upset with my children, not just in this matter, but in others as well. Many parents know what it is like to be denied something or for plans not to work the way we wish because of our kids. I have found myself occasionally thinking about being a journalist, whisking myself away to Europe, or owning a beautiful house and being a little disgruntled with my children. Which is ridiculous! All these dreams and more are still possible whether I have kids or not. In fact, the greatest thing I will ever accomplish in my life is them. If you have had to delay plans or change them because of your kids I encourage you to not grow in bitterness. Children are a blessing of God and when you feel that way, confess it! My children are a blessing to me. I can even say my kids have opened more doors for me than they could possibly ever close. Sometimes I just need the reminder.

Happy Mothering!

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Save a Life: 3 Ways to Remember Your Baby In the Car

We all want our children to be safe. Safety is sadly often inspired by horror stories about why we do the things we do- cover light sockets, throw away plastic wrappers, no sharp corners. As a parent those stories keep you awake and your heart pounding through the morning news.  My motivation for sharing these particle important tips is to prevent devastation in other’s lives, not create fear. I do not want any person to experience a loss just because they were not informed.

“My people parish from a lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6

Most of us know to have our infant buckled, rear facing, and the car clean enough to where nothing can fall on them. Before driving off we mentally check off all the things we need to do or don’t want to forget. There is one thing, the most important thing that we must never forget. The baby. How could that possibly happen? All of us have heard stories of mothers forgetting their babies in the car as they run of to the groceries, work, or into their home. Some people scoff and wonder how anyone could be so idiotic. I don’t wonder. I know exactly how.

Eowyn asleep on a road trip

Eowyn asleep on a road trip

If you have a baby and are up all hours of the night you are often sleep deprived. You can barely keep it together. If you are a working parent you have so many things on your mind and the baby!

I didn’t have children when I was sleep deprived, but if I had it could have cost both of our lives. When I was a high schooler I was working over 20 hours a week and attending a private school (after being in public all my life.) The adjustment to the workload and evening job left me exhausted.  I was also going through a very emotionally exhausting time as well. (Which as a parent most people can relate being emotionally drained too.) I drove home at night on country roads. Out in the middle of nowhere was a dinky four-way stop light. I ran it, not just one night, but for several nights.  Some nights I pulled into the drive and could not for the life of me remember anything about how I got there. I’m so grateful and lucky that I never got hit or hurt someone else.

Routine can trap us as well. Let’s say you are driving to work but first need to drop of your kiddo at the day care or sitters, your child falls asleep and doesn’t make any noise. You may drive past the daycare and into work without even making the connection. When you think of it in these terms it is much easier to understand how this could happen.

Here are helpful suggestions to avoid this:

1. The best thing to do when going out (especially if you are going to work and need to drop them off first) is put your purse or lunch in the back seat next to your child. You will have to look back to get your things and will notice if your baby is still in the back seat!

2. Mirrors. Many companies now make mirrors that allow you to glance back and see your child.  This is ingenious as you can also see their expression. Just make sure to look at the road instead of getting wrapped up in how cute your baby is. This should be helpful since you will end up being in the habit of glancing into that mirror to see your baby. You can buy the car mirrors at a local Wal-Mart or Target.

3. Have an alarm on your cell phone go off around the time you drop them off in the morning. Have it read, Check your baby’s car seat or baby dropped off? A small thing, but it could make a huge difference.

Please feel free to add other suggestions and tips for remembering babies in the car. I encourage everyone to repost and share with others. It is summer and way too hot for any child to be forgotten inside a car.

Happy Mothering!

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Why I Don’t Call My Children’s Privates by Fake Names

I’ve laughed with other girls as we discussed the names we called our privates growing up: the tink, cookie jar, nucker, pee pee- the list goes on. Those areas of the body were shrouded with mystery when they were hesitantly discussed. My mother would answer questions and give us plenty of reading material. Still, I felt strange about these areas. If I had to discuss my own body I would have felt humiliated and very confused about how. Luckily, being a reader and being supplied with the correct books, I was able to identify that I had a urethra, vagina, and anus. Sadly, there are girls who become adults who are not aware what area does what: Do I urinate from my vagina? Where do I menstruate? Where do I have sex?

What God says about our bodies

The importance of calling privates by the proper name is instrumental to how a person will view their body and perhaps their own sexuality. It may sound silly, but not sillier than telling your child their arm is called a body noodle, or their face the expression platform. Calling things by their proper name isn’t just for the sake of being politically correct. It has much to do with knowledge being power. Knowledge gives a child confidence. For example- If they are lost they are taught to look for a woman with children, or a cop- you establish early that cops are mommy and daddy’s friends. This gives your child a safety net.

When your child’s arm hurts they are able to express that, “My arm is hurt.” This should be the same with their privates, “My penis hurts.” See how giving something the correct name gives them ownership? That is their penis. That is their vagina. (I typically call it the vulva since calling everything the vagina isn’t accurate either.) This ownership means they don’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed. Our gender is a huge part of our identity and not something to be embarrassed of. These parts aren’t “unspeakable.” They are a part of their body and as such if they are hurt or someone is making them uncomfortable, they are able to express that.

Telling your child about their body is a process. Many think, the talk is a one-time deal; it isn’t and shouldn’t be. As your child grows so should the discussions. The start should be the correct names for their body parts, or at least saying they are private. Eventually you tell them how their body is theirs; as such no one should be touching their privates. Also, if someone is making them uncomfortable they can talk to you no matter what!

I have known too many children, friends, and family members who have been hurt by predators to not take the safety of children seriously. I don’t teach my children out of fear, but as a preventive measure- not just against predators, but shame as well. I find it sad that too many people think talking about the body or sex to their children is vulgar. Someone is going to tell them and that information will most likely be incorrect and harmful. Most children have an idea of what sex is by the age of five whether you choose to talk or not. Take the initiative. Be the parent. How you discuss or don’t discuss something will dictate how a child will perceive that part of their life even as adults.

Happy Mothering!

The picture is from the store UnchainedBracelets on etsy.com You can actually buy this print! Click on the Link below.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/154933360/psalm-13914-i-am-fearfully-wonderfully?ref=exp_listing

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