Friday, July 23, 2010

Just one of the (many) reasons why we homeschool...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


"There is nothing--no circumstance, no trouble, no testing--that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret--for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is!--That is the rest of victory!" Alan Redpath, Victorious Christian Living

Struggles. Life is full of them. I can list my share and I am sure that every single person reading this can list even more of their own. It is the human condition of life here on this earth. We struggle; we have hardships. Others may have lives who look really great from the outside, but no one's life is without difficulty. I think the test of a person's character is how they react in the midst of bad times.

One of my ongoing struggles is in the area of finances (or the lack of them to be exact). No matter how hard I try to cut expenses, we always seem to be right on the edge of making it. This has been the situation for several years and it just seems to be getting worse. What is the phrase - squeezing blood from a turnip? That's what I constantly feel like I am trying to do when I take our income and try to stretch it everywhere it needs to go.

We have drastically cut our expenses. It is rare that we eat out. I don't even buy convenience food from the grocery because of the expense. Instead we cook from scratch. New, store-bought clothes don't even exist in our house unless they were a gift. Rummage sales and thrift stores are the norm. My husband may take the older kids to a movie once a year. We may go out on a date to a restaurant 2 or 3 times in an entire year. Our family vacations consist of an overnight 1 or 2 times a year. We don't buy hardly anything beyond the necessities. I even feel extravagant when I buy homeschool curriculum.

I long for a day when I can just relax a little bit with our spending. My hubby and I were discussing this hardship last night. I was trying to remember this quote from above here. It made me realize that these struggles have taught me so much. It has forced me into realizing that many of our so called needs are merely wants. I find it a comfort to know that God is ultimately in control of our difficult circumstances - to know that He had to give approval for them. Trials are what cause us to grow spiritually. I cannot deny that doing without has grown me. As painful as this is, I wouldn't trade the experience. But I would be lying if I didn't admit that I regularly tell God that in my opinion I have learned enough already. [wink] Hubby brought up that perhaps God has in mind to give us monetary blessings in the future to use for His glory and He needs us to learn frugality and better money management. That is a nice thought; I hope he is right. On the other hand I fear that God desires to teach us much more and we are going to have to sacrifice much more as a result. I wonder how much more we can eliminate from our budget before it means a drastic life change. I question how well I could handle it if it came to giving up my home. That would be heartbreaking.

So, I continue to put my reliance each day on God to provide. He may not do things my way, but He has never let us down and has often come through in unexpected ways. I seek His wisdom and guidance to do everything I can to be a good steward of all that He has given me. I "refuse to get panicky" as the quote above says. Instead I trust in the goodness of the God I serve.

Friday, July 09, 2010

To market, to market, to buy A LOT

"She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar." Proverbs 31:14

One mom, one 95 degree day, 4 children and 4 full shopping carts equals what? A full pantry and a very tired me. Oh, I forgot to mention the horrendous thunderstorm that broke loose just as I was leaving Sam's club with 2 of my full shopping carts along with a 3 year old who thought she had to go potty for the 3rd time just since we had been there and a tired 1 year old with a leaky diaper. Good times good times.

I know what you are thinking. "Why in the world...?" Well, my older two girls have started doing some painting and cleaning for us at our apartments and they were busy with that. I had no babysitters at home, so I had to take the younger 4 with me.

We were way overdue for an Aldi's run. I find that I get my best deals on canned goods there. Their selection isn't huge, but there are most of the basics. I buy flats of canned green beans, peaches, various other fruits, tomato sauce, cream soups, etc. Yesterday, they even had a mexican brand of tomatoes with chili peppers (similar to Rotel) for only 55 cents a can. We also stocked up on cereal, granola bars along with a few other misc. items. The nice thing about going to Aldi's with the kids is that I actually have help. When I do it alone, I have only one cart and it is tough fitting everything in it. I had Patrick push a second cart and and was able to use one just for flats of canned goods and the second for all the other stuff. Way easier. We loaded up our van with our two cart loads and moved on.

We were also long overdue for a Sam's Club run. As our family size has grown and we go through larger quantities of things, I am discovering that buying in bulk really works well for us and is more economical. The day before, I made a list and placed a Click-n-Pull order. If you don't know what that is, it is a service they provide for business members. You order online and they gather it all for you. You just show up, pay and take it home. The only downside to it is that not everything in the store is available online, so I always end up with a short list of things that I need to walk through the store to pick up. The click-n-pull does still save time.

My darling 3 year old, Rachel, must have a bladder the size of a pea. I made her go to the bathroom before we left. We used the bathroom at Office Depot, one of our first stops before grocery shopping, and hit the bathroom as soon as we got to Sam's. I think my big mistake was bribing them with lunch at Sam's for good behavior. You can't eat out much cheaper. You can get a hot dog combo for $1.70 which includes a big hot dog and a BIG soda. Did I say big soda? I meant BIG. Obviously, this was not a good thing for Rachel. Of course, she waits until we are at the very back of the store, the opposite end from the bathrooms, to start doing her desparate potty dance. You know the one, right? You bounce around holding your bottom yelling (so everyone around can hear) "I have to go potty!" over and over. Fearing an embarrassing puddle on the floor, I relent and stop my shopping to drag everyone back to the front of the store to the bathroom. The older two say they could try to go so I send the three in by themselves while I stand outside with the full cart and baby. After about what seems like 20 minutes of squeals and giggles coming from inside, they finally emerge. We return to the other end of the store and finish up. This is when I notice that the blazing hot sun has disappeared and it looks like rain. As I am standing in line to check out and claim my click-n-pull, the heavens burst forth and we hear torrential rain coming down along with lots of thunder and lightning. I am envisioning wet kids, wet groceries, and wet me. My order was brought up in two carts which meant that I now had three carts. As I am consolidating it into just two, my son accidentally spills my entire full cup of iced tea on the floor. So, I sheepishly have to tell someone so it can get cleaned up. [sigh]

I decided that there was no way that I was dragging four kids and two carts out into a thunderstorm. So, I place my older two in charge of guarding the carts by the door and grab the baby and 3 year old and go to the van to pull it up under the covered loading area. This is when I discover that Baby Samuel's diaper has reached capacity and he is soaking wet. Ick! This is the second time his diaper has leaked on me in one day. Thankfully, this time it was only wet! I pull up and start the task of trying to quickly load two more cart-fulls of groceries into my already full van. Cars are lining up behind us waiting. This is when Rachel begins her encore of the desperate potty dance. I think, "You have got to be kidding me! I am not taking you a third time to the bathroom here. Not now." We finish loading, pull out of the way and I change Samuel. Rachel is screaming and holding her bottom. Luckily, I still have one pull-up in the van and put it on her. We drive home listening to her cry "potty" all the way.

Thankfully, when I got home, Barry and the girls were there so I had lots of help unloading which was wonderful. Rachel did, by the way, make it home to the bathroom without an accident. I am so happy that we are fully stocked up and won't need to do that again for a long time - at least a week [wink].

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Yes, I'm still around

I have really failed lately when it comes to this blog. Time - there just never seems to be enough of it!

Here's a quick up date about what is going on in our lives right now.

My daughter Elizabeth and I both participated in a photography contest called Photos of Faith. She and I both got ribbons in our divisions which was very exciting. This photo here is Elizabeth's called "Steadfast Resolve" which got 1st place in the youth division. The judges even said that they thought is was the strongest image in the whole show and probably would have gotten 1st place even in the adult division. Cool, huh!

Speaking of Elizabeth, she is officially a licensed driver. We are all very excited for her. I have to admit that my heart is just in my throat watching her drive off by herself. I know that she is in God's hands, though. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Both of my older two girls have started a new business venture doing some painting and cleaning for us at our apartments. This gives them some real work experience and a bit of cash in their pockets. In addition to this they are feverishly working on their 4-H projects which will be fine arts and crafts. The fair is just a few short weeks away.

Patrick and Abi just finished up two weeks of swimming lessons which they loved. Rachel, being only 3 years old, was too young to participate. She was devastated and has thrown her share of temper tantrums to prove it. We are going through a rather difficult phase with her right now. She definitely has a temper and is NOT afraid to use it. Her screaming outbursts are a regular occurrence in our home even though she gets disciplined for every single one of them. She just can't seem to control them. I am praying that with diligence on our part to always take action when they occur and maturity on her part, she can get a grip on her fiery emotions.

My littlest guy, Samuel, is already 17 months old. As can be expected for his age, he is a busy little man. I have had to put a lock on my tupperware cabinet for our sanity because I couldn't take cleaning up the mess after he had gone through it like a tornado one more time. He adores his older siblings and tries to follow them everywhere. His second favorite activity right now is emptying drawers. Fun!

Samuel has his first official haircut this morning so it is
time to cut this short so I can feed the troops their breakfast before we go.