Tag Archives: stay at home mom

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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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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Introducing Big sister to Little Brother

IMAG0186_BURST010_COVERMy extended basketball belly was pushed out from my t-shirt as my daughter, Eowyn slapped her little hands on it as if hitting a drum. “That is your sibling,” I would tell her. To which she would pause and then go back to yelling and slapping the belly. Sometimes, it was like she knew there was a person in there. She’d put her head on my belly and talk quietly. In my mind I would imagine their relationship; would it be a sister, or brother? And, would they like one another?

She would be 16 months when he was born and still a baby. I needed her to be patient with the new baby. I wanted to teach her kindness-how to think and care for someone or something outside of herself. Her cute stuffed animal bunnies took part in my experiment. I would take one and pretend to nurse it, to which she would grab the bunny and throw it on the floor. After a time I would kiss it and say, “Eowyn kiss the baby!” and she would kiss it. And I would make it a big deal- praising her and telling her what a great job she was doing. Soon, she was bringing the bunny to me with a diaper. I’d put the diaper on the bunny and let her play the role of mama, patting the baby and kissing it.

When she did meet her brother, she was very indifferent.  She wasn’t even jealous; in fact Imageshe was just not impressed at all! I would try to make her imitate me kissing or hugging him and she would look down at him like he was the most disgusting thing in the world then go back to playing. Despite this, I was persistent in including her and eventually it clicked. While doing diaper changes she started handing the wipes to me, or bringing me a diaper.  Sometimes, she even tried to help wipe. It could get pretty messy, but I wanted to let her be the big sister.

Being the big sister doesn’t mean she has doesn’t get babied or put on the back burner. We have special mommy and Eowyn time every day where she is the center of my attention. I baby her and love on her to let her know she is very important to me. Interestingly, if we don’t have this alone time she is often difficult and whiny for the rest of the day.

It is easy to be scared of your older child hurting the new baby or getting short with them as your attention is being pulled in so many directions.  Despite these concerns try to be patient. I would encourage you to find a way to let your older child help. Too often one child or all the children can easily become the center of the family verses a part of the family. How can we make our children feel a part of the family? By giving them a purpose and a way to contribute. Be consistent in having them help you. Even at 16 months a toddler can pick up a little, help give you wipes and diapers, kiss and pat the baby, and so much more. It is never too early to teach kindness and helpfulness.

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Job title: Mom

I would like to address some wonderful questions and statements that mothers receive. Starting with this one:

Gosh, it must be nice to be a stay at home mom and do nothing.

Yep, us stay at home-uneducated mothers just love to sit on our fat bottoms and eat Oreos all day. Well, that does sound pretty good to me but that just isn’t the case. I’m more likely to be cleaning Oreo off the floor or scrubbing a child’s dirty face then actually getting to eat the Oreos. And if I am eating the Oreos I’m normally hiding in the closet during nap time stuffing them in as fast as I can before they wake up. Instead of imaging all these glorious creative projects I am imaging the day my first-born will be potty trained. I imagine not having to wash diapers every other day. I know my dreams don’t seem big, but they are mine. The truth is, being a stay at home mom is hard, and lonely. We live in a society that believes all problems are due to how our mother raised us- too clingy, too distant, not caring, too caring. It can be frightening holding your fresh newborn and thinking gosh, I can screw this all up. And this job of motherhood is hard enough without having people thinking it isn’t a job. Which brings us to our next question.

So, you just stay at home with your kids, don’t you have bigger ambitions?”

To those people I would like them to look at the world, look at the hardness and the times we live in. Do you really think what we need as a society is more parents who call their children inconveniences? Yes, I have dreams for myself. And yes, it is so hard to clean poop off diapers to save money, but not for one second do I look at my children and feel regret or disdain. They are the biggest accomplishment I will ever have. And finally, my favorite question:

Don’t you want to reach your full-potential?

I say sure, I could go back to school, which someday I may, and study and start a successful career. Honestly, being a mother, I don’t reach my full-potential. I have to go beyond my potential, capability, and understanding. From the moment they are conceived, through labor, delivery and every breath they take from that point I have to be responsible for their body, spirit and soul. And it is impossible, there is only so much as a human being you can do, your full potential is just not near enough. So, as a mother, you have to pray. You have to pray for them for their safety, for their hearts, for the times in life that the world will turn its back on them and make them feel small and insignificant. If you say that would never happen I ask, have you? Have you ever felt small, or insignificant, or scared? If the answer is yes, then realize only God can be and is the only help that can be offered. And though you are a mother, you are not God. So yes I may never reach my full potential, but I sure will go beyond those fences and into uncharted territory that is messy, hazy, and ultimately the most beautiful and fulfilling work that can be imagined. And to the moms who do work as well as wear the messy, sticky badge of mother I say kudos and you are a hero. All that matters is that as mothers we do our jobs-love our kids, teach them to be decent human beings, and pray like our kids lives depend on it, because they do.

Happy Mothering!

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