Tag Archives: parenthood

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mother and Lover: Finding Sensuality After Children

Two years of marriage and two children under two. You can imagine this has thrown a slight hic up in my husband’s and my sex life. We are parents, which is fantastic, but before that we were lovers. It is easy for my husband to bounce between these two roles however, for me it is considerably more difficult.  I love that women have so many roles in life, but it is harder to act them out than to speak of them. At the end of the day I face the “touched out” syndrome where I feel like a dirty dishrag. I have been nursing, cleaning nasty messes, and changing diapers. All this is explains why I would probably not be in the mood, but it wouldn’t change my husband’s needs.

Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli- some inspiration to channel your inner Venus (Picture is from uffizi.org)

We attended a marriage conference earlier this year where we wrote down our top three needs in marriage. I wrote down stuff like conversation, affection, and spending time together. When I looked over at my husband’s top three needs they all said the same thing- sex, sex, and more sex.

My husband is the most giving and kind man I know. So you can imagine I felt a stab of guilt at this list. Here I was, my needs being met whilst his needs, his only need that makes him feel loved and cared for, was being extremely neglected. Now that I am no longer pregnant, it is time to focus more on one another. These thoughts below have been my game plan to feel more sensual and take care of my husband (and myself.)

1. The kids are in bed by 8:30 p.m. (It may be a totally different time for your family since everyone has a different work schedule) This out of everything we’ve done has been the most helpful. There is an end in sight for my mommy shift and to put on the hat of lover and wife. I know these roles are blended, but each one can only get so much attention that way. It helps to have that complete mental shift.

2. No screens after kids are in bed. This means television, smart phones, laptops ect. These devices can sneak into the bedroom and totally consume your love time! What is so important on facebook or pinterest that we must be browsing after lights out? The answer- nothing. If you need to unwind try to snuggle with your hubby, do some light stretching together, or even read to one another. Whatever is inspiring to physical or verbal communication.

3. Love yourself. That is right. I will only allow myself to be loved as much as I love myself. What woman is ready to be physically adored if she doesn’t adore herself physically? It may sound silly, but when I invest in my appearance it makes me feel better about me. If you can’t buy new clothes, get your hair done, or a massage try to do a small thing. Like a sexy bubble bath. What makes the bubble bath sexy? You! See, don’t you feel good already.

George Marks “Woman Taking Bubble Bath” from Art.com

4. Have a sex game plan. Wow, planning sex, isn’t that not sexy? Not according to “A Sex Starved Marriage” Couples who plan on having sex actually have more sex and feel more in-tuned to one another. My husband and I plan on how many times we have sex during the week and how many times each of us have to be the initiator. This may sound boring, but it makes us have a lot more sex because mentally we already have in planned! Sure spontaneity is encouraged, but when you go from none to some- I can tell you which is preferred.

5. Just do it! I recently watched a fantastic TED talk on the power of body language. The woman speaking mentioned that she would carry herself confidently even if she didn’t feel confidant, and strangely, it often made her a more confidant person. Instead of, “fake it until you make it.” Her motto was “fake it until you become it.” You may not feel like a sex goddess oozing sensuality and pleasure, as I often don’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become one! Try to think of yourself in a different light, channel whoever you need to, but tell yourself that you are the sexiest woman alive and you are glamorous no matter size, shape, or style. You got it going on. And before you know it, it won’t be fake anymore. You will be the sexiest woman alive and you will not be just trying to fake a wonderful love life- you will be enjoying your wonderful love life.

These are my not so dirty sex secrets and I hope that today you treat yourself to some sensuality as well as your spouse. Please share your secrets in the comment area to inspire myself, and others for a better love life!

*And though it is commonly thought that women are the only ones who struggle in having a strong sex life it is extremely common in men, but not as talked about. Check out my two favorite books on marriage and sex, “His Needs and Her Needs” and previously mentioned, “A Sex Starved Marriage.”

Click here for “His Needs Her Needs” (you can also find it on Walmart.com) Best book on marriage I’ve found.

Click here for “A Sex Starved Marriage: Boosting your Marriage Libido: A Couple’s Guide” It is very informative and helpful!

Read this!

Read this!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bluum Box Review: Month 3 Smiley Baby

bluum box has arrived!!!

bluum box has arrived!!!

Bluum box themed “Month 3 Smiley Baby” has arrived with some wonderful surprises. This New York based company, bluum, is a team of moms and dads who want to find the top of the line products for our babies (and us!) It can be frustrating to know what is hot and what is not when it comes to the numerous products for moms and babies. This monthly review of the products bluum sends out will hopefully give you a little heads up. If you want to get your own special bluum box and receive some bonus points click -> http://bluum.me/14XQss0 and let whatsbreastforyou know about your review!

bluum box

bluum box

Products For Baby:

  • Baby Ecos- This lovely plant-based laundry detergent combines two of my favorite things: kindness to sensitive skin and to the earth! Already I use detergent free of scents, but this one is even better than the detergent I currently use. I love plant-based soaps and look forward to buying a big bottle of this stuff online. You can buy Baby Ecos detergent at amazon.com and ecos.com/baby.html
  •  Fiesta Elephant- This cute blue elephant plush has sweet accents, the pink striped legs, playful stitching around the ears and feet, as well as the satin bow around the neck. I love this toy because it is gender neutral without giving up pink and blue colors. It is perfect for either a boy or girl without being the typical green or yellow. I didn’t know the gender of my second child and this would make a perfect gift. Perfect for those moms who like the surprise, but not the lack of color or, like me, has a boy and girl who share toys.

    Month 3 Smiley Baby

    Month 3 Smiley Baby

For Mom:

  • Vapur Foldable Water Bottle- As a mom it can get so busy you it may prevent you from taking care of yourself. My biggest struggle is staying hydrated. That is why I love love love this bottle. I can stick it in my purse or clasp it to the side of a bag and ta da!- An easy way to take my water on the go without a big clunky bottle. It makes me drink my water and feel good.
  • Funktion Changing Pad- This cute blue and red outlined foldable pad is fantastic. It has a pocket on the front for diapers and wipes. Great if you’d like to send your husband into the bathroom for a chance to change the baby he doesn’t have to take the diaper bag! Also it helps for those places that so inconsiderately do not carry a changing table so you can at least use a sink, bench, or whatever you can find. Even at home I use it!  I don’t like carrying my kid to the other room to change his diaper so I just change him on this pad in the living room.
  • PicsArt_1375106496315

    Good stuff!

    Susan Brown’s Baby Cleaning Cloth- First off, they are baby wipes. The reason they are more magical than normal wipes is because they are sensitive skin friendly but scented! And they are scented with the wonderful smell of roses. Yes, your poop can smell like roses, or at least the clean up can. This is much appreciated on those later toddler poops that can get pretty ripe.

  • Nature’s Bakery Fig Bar Whole Wheat Raspberry-They are organic, healthy, and a guilt free snack for on the go.  I liked these. They weren’t amazing, but they were good.
  • Tranquil Force Head Band- This fun flirty band was waay too tight on my big noggin. I thought it was super cute and liked the thought, but it ended up going to my toddler girl. My head must be too big!

Remember we’d love to hear your reviews as well! Go to http://bluum.me/14XQss0 for your own bluum box. When you insert your kid(s) age and gender you get boxes geared specifically for your sweet baby or toddler!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: