Finding Peace in Contentment

It's been nearly two years now since I first wrote this post about finding peace in contentment. And in that time I have found myself increasingly frustrated and overwhelmed by the rental house where we are living. 

One night, not that long ago I began a pity party. I couldn't sleep. I listened to the dehumidifier scream in the hallway. 

I was counting my frustrations with this house: it's lack of insulation and insane electric bill, cow pasture in the winter that smells to high heaven and the mice. Oh dear heaven, the mice.

We have to run the loud dehumidifier 24/7 to keep mold from growing in the closets and on the walls. It makes me feel bad about where I live. 

I could go on and on but I think at this point everyone, including myself, is tired of hearing about this house. 

SO one night when I couldn't sleep. I made a list of things I have to be thankful for. When I do this I find that my problems aren't really problems, they are annoyances that I can live with. When I make a list of things I am thankful for it is easier for me to find contentment. 

1. I am saved by Grace. I have a God who loves me, saved me and forgives me when I throw little pity parties for myself. 

2. I have a husband who loves me and our children. He is a hard worker and he loves the Lord. 

3. I have TWO healthy children. This is like winning the lottery. I have many friends whose children have chronic illnesses, or have suffered through difficult starts in life. 

4. I have been able to get pregnant and carry two healthy babies. I have the ability to get pregnant and stay pregnant and a lot of women would wish for that. 

5. Both of my parents are still alive and I have a good relationship with both of them. 

6. My sister is my best friend. She is kind and funny and encouraging and listens to me when I complain over and over again about this house. 

7. I am healthy. My family is healthy. None of us are disabled in anyway and my child has not physical or mental limitations that keep him from growing or communicating with me. 

8. My husband is employed in a job that allows me to be at home. 

9. I live in a country where I can worship freely, without persecution. 

10. I have the right to vote, I have the right to be educated, I have the right to make my own decisions, and many women in the world do not have that. 

11. I have a place to live. And this was the one that I had to really think about. But I have a place to live where my family is safe. Where we have a roof over our heads. Where we are together each night in a peaceful place where no wars rage outside our walls. We can walk out of our house and look up and see stars. My children can play in the yard and I don't worry about them. 

God honors contentment. In fact, he tells us this in 1 Timothy 6:6 "A God-like life gives us much when we are happy for what we have."

And I have a lot! 

What about you? What do you to to help you have an attitude of gratitude? 


Today I am hopping at Broughttoyoubymom.com. Come by and join us! 

 

 

 

Developing a routine you can live with

For the first few months after Issie was born I wandered around my house in a daze.

Our house was always dirty, I could never find a clean spoon and meal times were hit or miss.

I knew I needed a change, but with a baby that didn't sleep and a toddler into everything, that was easier said than done.

Everyday was different, a new set of struggles, a different ball to juggle.

I thrive on routine. My kids thrive on routine. So I had to set some things I place to make life easier.

Finding a routine that works for you is paramount. For me it helps settle my mind and helps me just feel better.

1. Start the day with an empty sink. I try to load my dishwasher and have my sink cleaned and sanitized before putting the kids to bed at night, that way we start the day with a clean slate.

2. Make my bed. Okay, I cheat on this one. I hate top sheets... HATE THEM! So I just pull my comforter up and fluff the pillows. It takes 30 seconds and I can do it with a toddler rolling around in the bed.

3. Throw on a load of laundry. Each morning after breakfast I throw a basket of clothes in the washer. This way I can stay on top of the laundry before it piles up. It might not get folded for several days, but at least it's clean.

4. Plan to eat. I plan out our meals, all of them, in advance. I have a loose meal plan that I work with each week. This saves me time and money everyday.

5. Plan to dress. I also lay out my clothes the night before. Even if I'm not going to be seen I still put my clothe out so I can dress in seconds before my kiddos wake.

What is in your routine? Tell me about it in the comments section below.

 

Creating Christmas Traditions on a Budget

It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I mean it. I love it. Something about having children has made me just love the season.

It is such a great time for making family memories. But keep in mind those memories don't have to be expensive,  in fact they don't have to cost anything. Remember we don't want to make what is intended to be a season of worship a season of financial stress

So today I am sharing some things our family is doing or has done that were either very inexpensive or cost us nothing at all. 

Make special meals. Jason is our breakfast chef and this type of year he will make special pancakes by cutting them out with gingerbread cookie cutters. 

We also make snowman pizza, cookies and a birthday cake for Jesus. 

We just make sure to include these things in our grocery budget for the month. 

Take advantage of free community events and activities. Over this past weekend our family went to TWO different Christmas parades and we were able to go to a lovely event at a local church called a "Walk Through Bethlehem" a community church event that tells the Nativity story using real actors. 

Our kids loved the all of the events and talked about them for hours after each event ended. 

Start an advent tradition. My sister created a fun advent using the Little People Nativity (I will share more on that later). It is perfect for a small preschooler or your younger children. 

But older kids can get involved as well. Pinterest has lots of advents activities and even though we are in mid-December it's not too late to get started. 

What are some budget-friendly traditions you're creating? Leave me a comment! 

Farewell summer… you will be missed

Summer is drawing to a close. Ry started back to school last week and Labor Day is Monday. So yes, that means that the season we all love is ending. 

Of course, where I live Summer will stick around til sometime in mid-December, but for many Labor Day means putting away beach umbrellas and thinking ahead to fall. 

I mean, Starbucks has already released their seasonal favorite, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (seriously? In August?) But before we all get our PSL on let's reflect back on Summer 2014. 

I had big plans for this summer. I am not going to lie. I planned to take my kids to the park, to the beach, to the zoo. And I planned to get my stubborn 2-year-old (almost 3-year-old) potty-trained. 

Yeah... we didn't do most of that. We did go to the beach, but mostly we stayed home, ran through the sprinkler and just enjoyed a slow down during the longest days of the year. 

And let me tell you something my friends, it was glorious. GLORIOUS. There was something utterly blissful about not having anything scheduled. There was something peaceful about waking up in the morning and not have somewhere to be or something we had to do. 

Sure, we had certain obligations that couldn't be missed, like church VBS and a few birthday parties, but for the most part we just spent time together. We enjoyed each other's company we spent A LOT of time outside. We visited the library multiples times a week. We watched movies at home. We ate hotdogs. We sat on our front steps and waved at traffic and laughed every time someone waved back. 

We slowed down. We slowed way down. 

Friends, I can't tell you enough how wonderful this was. We took time to enjoy the summer when our children were one and two. We will never get that back. 

So no. We didn't spend the summer in swim lessons or the toddler tumbling class I had planned on signing my kids up for... but we ran through the sprinklers like it was our jobs... and that I will never regret. 

Give yourself permission to slow down

I see you. I see you at the red light, at the bank drive through. I see you at the park with your kids or date night with your wife. I see you as you pull into the church parking lot or into the supermarket. I see you and I see how fast you're rushing things.

I see your desperation as you move from one task to the next at a breakneck speed. Slow down. 

Just breathe. Just take one minute to stop what you're doing, close your eyes and breathe. 

It is okay to be busy and to enjoy being busy. But I think it is so easy to fall into a trap of manufactured busyness. Being busy for the sake of being busy. I know I do it all the time. 

I push aside the important things because I am "too busy" with other things. 

And during those periods I realize, my plate is full but my soul feels empty.

I do have a lot on my plate right now. But I realize that some of that I can scrape off and save for later. 

Each of us has to decide for ourselves the level of importance we are to give each task we assign ourselves. There are certain non-negotiables, bills have to be paid, children have to be fed and cleaned. But where do our priorities lie in the midst of the other things we find filling up our time and space.  

I urge you, dear friend, to remove one thing from your to do list this week. Take out one distraction. Say no to one request. And instead just allow yourself a moment to feel, relax and spend time on what truly matters to you. 

 

Why (and how) I got rid of OVER half my clothes

I had a closet full of clothes. Well, I still have a closet full of clothes, it's just not as full as it used to be. That's because I got rid of half my clothes. 

 It had gotten out of hand. The rod in the closet was packed, the shelves were overflowing and my dresser drawers wouldn't close. And the sad thing is, I didn't even wear most of it. I had t-shirts from college, dresses from my first few years of my career and maternity skirts that probably wouldn't be worn again for years. 

My closet was like a scrapbook. A cluttered, disorganized scrapbook that was just taking up space. 

So I just decided to get rid of it all. 

Here are some steps I took. 

1. I evaluated my lifestyle and season of life. I stay home with my children and plan on staying home as long as possible. I also work from home so I don't need as much "professional wear" as I used to. So I knew a lot of my business casual wear could really benefit someone who needed it more than I did. So I bagged up my work clothes and sent them to Goodwill. 

But, the maternity wear was the first to go. I had a girlfriend who was pregnant at the time. She happens to be the same size as me and I know that cute plus size maternity wear is expensive and hard to find. I bagged up ALL my maternity clothes minus one pair of leggings (because they don't make that exact pair anymore and I think I just want to be buried in them) and sent it all to my friend. 

But I still had a TON of clothes. So when I say half I mean clothes that were NONMATERNITY. So yeah, it was a lot. 

2. I evaluated what I really wore. I think I was doing what a lot of women do, I found myself wearing the same few outfits again and again, ignoring the rest of my closet. I have some favorite pieces and some that are just functional for my life at this moment. 
3. I developed a uniform. Okay, so I know this sounds boring, but it's not. I have come up with outfits that are functional, comfortable and cute. It is usually a skirt/maxiskirt/pant with a tank top/tee and a cardigan. For more dressy events it is usually a dress and cardigan with a nice pair of flats. My clothes are usually very basic colors, navy, blue or gray and I dress it up with a colorful scarf or statement necklace. 
I still have lots of cute blouses (four) and two denim jackets (because I am so cute in a denim jacket). 
4. If I didn't love it, I tossed it. I had clothes, usually stuff people had given me, that I just hated. But I felt guilty getting rid of it because it was a gift. But that's not right. No one wants to give you a gift with a big dose of guilt attached to it. 
Also, if I didn't LOVE the way I looked or felt in it I let it go. Someone else might really enjoy it, even if I didn't. 

 

5. I got rid of unnecessary duplicates. I had multiple pairs of khakis. Really? I hate khaki. Is there a fabric LESS flattering to the female rear-end? So those went, minus one pair, just in case. I had several pair of black slacks, so I paired it down to just one. 

However, I will say I still own three black dresses, three identical dresses in different colors and a myriad of black cardigans. 

I am hoarding cardigans. I can't stop it. It's a disease. 

I feel so much better about my closet now. I feel more pulled together, I feel less guilty about the amount of clothing I have, and I know that lots of women in my area were able to benefit by getting great clothes for a steal at Goodwill or our local mission store. 

In total I took about 15 bags of clothes (it's shameful that I had that much. I know! I know!). 

I didn't do it all at once. It took several months (about five total) to get my closet the way I wanted it. I was constantly evaluating and reevaluating the space. I would take out a pile, go through it and then go through it again. 

I would keep the "tossed" clothes for a couple days and then take them to the mission store or Goodwill. That way I could give myself time to think about each item. 

I also tried to go for a capsule wardrobe, meaning almost everything I own matches everything else I own. I cannot tell you how easy it is to get dressed when 85% of your clothes coordinate. 

What tips do you have for steamlining your wardrobe? 

Confessions of a reformed judgy mcjudgerson

I am in constant danger of falling off my high horse. I am not a snob, no way, she who shops at the Dollar General can't be a snob. I am something worse- judgmental.

This is something I have always struggled with. It has gotten better. But there was a time, not to long ago when it peaked.  Nothing brings out the Mrs. McJudgerson like motherhood, right? *Sighs in shame.

Then I got conviction in the form of a Facebook post.  A friend posted  a challenge to encourage someone instead of judge.  

It struck me. I have always considered myself an encourager, but is it authentic encouragement when I am silently judging someone for their mistakes and shortcomings? What does that make me? A big, fat hypocrite!

When I told my friend that a judgmental attitude was something I was struggling with she pointed out to me that sitting in judgement is not "a job we can master because we weren't created to do it." She pointed out that we were created by God to love and encourage one another and she challenged me to see God in everyone.  "It's much easier to love our brothers and sisters when we see our Father in their eyes and hearts," she said. 

We are told time and time again by our Father not to judge.

Luke 6:37 says: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Again in Matthew 7 it is repeated "For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7: 1-5)

I end by asking this, what is judgement? For me it is my way of having others validate my life choices. "This is the right way to do it, don't you agree?"

But if I need others to validate my life choices am I living authentically?

 

See our combo coop for quail and chicken

 

A few months back my husband had a brilliant idea. 

"Let's get quail," he said. 

"Sure," I said and we happily clapper our hands in giddiness. 

But the thing about plans in the House of Senn, they quickly spiral out of control and become something much, much larger. So instead of bringing home a few quail, we decided to throw in a few chickens too. 

We wanted to get backyard birds for several reasons. 

1. We want fresh eggs from healthy birds. 

2. We want meat from healthy birds. 

3. We want our children to experience agriculture. 

4. We don't want to rely on others for all of our food sources. 

Jason built our combo coop (as we call it) with his own two hands. For much of the project he sawed the wood by hand. Then he realized that was for the birds (pun intended!) and purchased a skill saw. 

He designed the entire thing from the ground up based on a few that he saw in the parking lot of our local hardware store. 

Needless to say I am pretty proud of Jason and the way it turned out. 

See how Jason did it ALL in the video: 

Next week I will talk about the birds and how we care for them. 

Decluttering: Three Questions to Ask yourself

So I have been on a mission to declutter my home and life. I have been throwing out, recycling, giving away, selling and donating things right and left. 

And I am here to report that.... I am nowhere near finished! My 31 Bags in 31 Days was a great place to start  but it's going to take me longer than a month to really and truly declutter my life. I know that is saying a lot about the amount of clutter I have. 

But I have hauled bag after bag after bag of stuff to the Christian mission. 

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I have donated: three bags of my clothes, 1 bag of Jason's clothes, 1 bag of kid's clothes and baby items, 2 boxes of toys, various dishes and kitchen gadgets, DVDs, Books, CDs etc. etc. 

We have also sold some items and given some things to friends. 

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And I have thrown away things. My husband was horrified as I chunked my senior book into the trash can. But years of humidity had made the pages stick together and when I looked at the pages that weren't damaged, I didn't remember any of the faces or places. It's just time to let go. 

And a lot of times when decluttering, that's what it's about- letting go. My husband is a lot more sentimental about stuff than I am. But we only have so much space, and I can't and won't keep everything. So I would rather keep 1,000 photos of my son's first steps than a book of pictures of a time I don't remember and fankly don't care to. 

And it's not hard for me to chunk things because I have a system. Three things I ask myself before giving or throwing away my stuff. I ask myself three question. 

1. Do I REALLY need this item and when was the last time I used this? Okay, so this is really two questions. Whatever. The point it is, if I really needed something I would use it a lot more often. And aside from Christmas decorations, if I really liked something I would use it more. So if it's sat on the shelf in the closet for 6 months or more, chances are I don't want it, need it or use it. 

2. Does this item bring me joy or do I just feel guilty about letting go of it? This one is tough because guilt is a thing in my family. But I had to look at a few things and really ask if those items made me happy, or if I was just keeping them out of duty. A lot of them were things I never wanted and were just given to me because there was no one else to take them. It's not fair for me to have to store them. So out they went to someone who wanted them and could use them. 

This is a big thing, don't let people make you feel guilty about keeping things you genuinely don't want, like, need or use. If it was that important to them they should keep it at their house. 

I know that seems harsh, but the level of anxiety I have allowed these things to cause me just got to a point of being ridiculous. 

3. If I keep this, what else am I saying no to? When we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else. We can't just keep bringing more and more and more things into our homes. When we do that, it's called hoarding and that's a compulsion. 

I am not a hoarder. I never want to be a hoarder and I don't want to live with a hoarder (I am talking to you Jason Senn!). So when I keep something that often means I have to get rid of something else, or not bring something into my home that I might like more. (With the exception of black cardigan sweaters. There is ALWAYS room for more black cardigan sweaters.)

These are the guidelines I use. They may seem harsh, but like I said, the amount of anxiety all of this stuff was causing me just didn't seem worth it. 

SO what do you ask yourself before keeping something or letting it go? Leave a comment! I LOVE comments. 

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A letter to my (youngest) son on his first birthday

Dear Issie,

You are one today, and part of me can’t believe you have been here an entire year. But another part of me feels you have always been here.

 I vividly remember the day you were born. I remember arriving at the hospital in the wee small hours of the morning; knowing that soon you would be here.

 I remember the waiting, the praying. I remember the nurse putting you on my chest and seeing your sweet round face for the first time.

 Your eyes were open the first time I saw you, your little lip poking out in a heartbreaking pout. I should have known then you were going to give me a run for my money.

 This year has not always been easy, little one. The road to 1 has been paved with exhaustion, frustration and fatigue.

 But there has been such great joy.

 I wanted a little red-haired boy to toddle after my little blonde boy. And I got you. I got my sweet Issie.

You are stubborn and tough and opinionated. As your mother that has frustrated me. But I hope, when you are older, you remain stubborn and tough and opinionated.

 You have frightened me with your budding since of exploration and adventure. You have gone places I didn’t want you to go.

 But I hope as you grow, you keep that since of adventure and that natural curiosity.

You have always had a big appetite. In the beginning it kept me exhausted. But now you love to taste new foods, try new textures. You are unafraid.

 I hope you keep an appetite for life and a willingness to try new things.

I watched as you sat, crawled, stood and walked earlier than I expected. I watched as you stumbled, fell and wobbled. And I watched my little fledgling get up and try again.

I hope that you will always try, even when life knocks you down. I hope you will always scoop yourself up and keep walking.

I have heard you giggle in your sleep, laugh at birds and chuckle with your brother.

I hope you always find the joy in the moment.

I have, on nights that seemed endless, when I barely had the energy to breath, carried you down a dark hallway and prayed over you.

I pray that when your own life seems dark, and you have no more strength that you too will lift up your voice in prayer.

As much as I love you, little one, God loves you more. I am your mother, but He is your heavenly father. I have hopes for you, but He has a plan for your life.  Before you were born I felt you kick and move, but He knew you, He knit you together. I have combed your red hair, but he has numbered those hairs.

He has given me a precious gift. The beat of my very heart. And that gift, is you. 

MAKEUP FOR Busy MOMS IN UNDER THREE MINUTES

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I like looking put together. It makes me feel good. But I don't wake up in the morning looking cute. 

What I look like in the morning.JPG

See, that's me. And excuse the toddler underpants in the background. This is real life. 

But since I don't want to go to Publix looking like a Rip Van Winkle's mom, I like to slap on a little make up in the morning. 

Here is my three minute routine and below are my favorite products.  

(Note: this DOES contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.)

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I just use a few simple products and if I am not leaving the house I just use CC cream and mascara and call it a day!

If I am I use 6 items and 2 tools. 

1. Olay Total Effects 7 CC Cream. Since I am aging- we are all aging, I use a product with a sunscreen in it (I am SERIOUS about sunscreen). This also has a primer and some anti aging properties in it. But I like it because it's really light weight but still has good coverage. 

2. Cover Girl Fresh Complexion Concealer. Every busy woman needs concealer. It looks like you've slept... when you haven't... in two years. I just sweep this under my eyes in a v shape and move on. This is a lighter coverage and I don't look like a raccoon. 

3.Pro Beauty Sponge.This sponge only costs $2 and lasts forever. It makes things blend so smoothly and the shape gets into the little areas under eyes and around your nose. I wet the sponge to make the product go on evenly. 

4. Almay TLC Powder. I just lightly apply this powder to my face to kind of set everything in place. 

5. E.L.F. Brush. I use this E.L.F brush to apply the powder quickly and lightly to my face. 

6. Maybelline Baby Lips. Okay, this may seem like the weird part. I love this lip balm.... but I don't use it on my lips (well sometimes I do) I use it on my cheeks. And it works great! It gives me a pop of color and I can apply it really fast with my fingers. 

7. NeutrogenaMoistureSmooth Color Stick. I LOVE this lip color. It smoothes on so well, lasts a long time, smells great and really moisturizes my dry lips! And I really like the color, Berry Bright. It's pink, but not too pink. 

8. Almay One Coat, Get Up and Grow Mascara. This is really an easy mascara to wear. The brush is deisgned to get each lash, and I feel like it does. I have WHITE lashes and this gives me really good coverage and stays on pretty well. 

So that's it! That's my routine. It's not fancy and I am probably doing it wrong, but it works for this busy mama. 

What is your makeup routine like? 

Child Safe Cleaning Wipes

Since having my babies I have become more concerned about what's in my cleaning solutions...  (**Snickers at the idea that I actually clean my house.)

Sometimes I clean. I am working on it, okay. Especially now that I have a baby that puts everything in his mouth. 

I have made all kinds of things from safe products like baking soda and dish soap. I have made washing machine soap, all-purpose spray, a tile cleaner and now this, an all-purpose wipe for a quick clean up on a busy day.

What you'll need:

1 tbsp Castile soap

4 tbsp baking soda Baking soda

1 cup Warm water

A roll of paper towels cut in half

An old plastic container- I used one that used to contain disposable wipes.

First I had to cut the paper towel in half using a serrated knife and remove the cardboard roll. This was hilarious. Paper towel pieces were everywhere! 

Next, pour your warm water, castile soap and baking soda into your plastic container and shake to mix. Then drop your paper towels into the container and shake again. Then pull one paper towel through the center of the roll. This will make it easier to grab a wipe in a pinch.

Viola. A super cleaner that lets you put a hutin' on the dirt, not the people you love.

 

Do you have a homemade wipe solution you love? 

Something's Gotta give: Why I quit cloth diapering… for now

 

 

Sometimes you just have to let something go. That's what I decided as I sprayed the poop off a cloth diaper while Issie screamed from his crib.

You see we started cloth diapering our oldest son to combat horrible diaper rash. (He is pictured above in his adorable cloth diaper.) When our second son was born I assumed I would just continue cloth diapering him as well. Afterall, it had been a wonderful experience for our family. 

But then I got to know Issie. Sweet, precious, loud, opinionated Issie. Issie who doesn't sleep through the night. Issie who, at 10 months, still nurses round the clock. Issie who has given me a run for my money. He didn't like to be put down. He refuses a bottle and it took months before I could get through an entire church service without the sweet ladies in the nursery coming to get me to calm down a hysterical baby. 

Since Issie was born I have questioned every aspect of myself as a mother in a way I didn't with Ry. Issie is the beat of my heart, but he is not always an easy baby. I was tired and the laundry was piling up and I was nursing every two hours and Ry was hitting two and I was running a business and cooking meals for my family from scratch and trying to keep breathing. 

There are women who do all of the above and keep up their cloth diapering regimen. And that's great. I would NEVER discourage anyone from cloth diapering or breastfeeding or cooking from scratch or doing anything they feel is good for their family. 

But I had to let something go. 

And I don't feel like I have to justify myself, because I don't feel guilty about it. But I wanted to share this to say... it's okay to let something go. 

It might mean taking a break from cloth and putting my baby in pampers til I get I get my toddler potty trained. 

It might, for some, mean hitting up the Pizza Hut every once in a while for a break. 

A friend and I were recently talking about breastfeeding. I nursed Ry to a year and Issie is 10 months old and still nursing like a champ. She only nursed her oldest child for a short time and still had some guilt. I told her what I tell every mother who mentions this to me:

If there is something in a mother's life that is a source of stress, pain and anxiety, then it is no longer a healthy behavior and should be reevaluated. 

Whether it's cloth diapers, formula, going back to work, staying home full time, eating the occasional processed foods, letting your kid play with the iPad so you can shower... whatever it is... don't feel guilty. Let it go. Move on and live to mother another day. 

What is something you have given up in the name of sanity?  

A Day in the Life of a Work at Home Mama with a toddler and an infant

Parenthood is hectic. Whether you stay at home, work at home or work outside the home. 

I have a two year old, Ry, and a nine month old, Issie. I run a small business (a very small business) from my home where I work part-time (very part time). I try to keep a clean house, stay on top of the laundry, get everyone to their appointments and make sure everyone is fed, clean and alive at the end of the day. 

Sometimes all of those things don't get done (minus the fed, clean and alive part). 

I thought I would let you guys peak inside our day. If you've been a long time reader you will notice that this is a lot different then the post I wrote on this topic almost two years ago

Or you can watch the video for a fun peak at our life. I am using a nursery school day as an example. Ry doesn't go everyday, but those days are the days I get a bulk of my work done. 

5:30- 6:00 a.m. Jason gets up to go to work, I have just fallen back asleep from feeding Issie. He's been up 2-3 times. 

7:00 - 7:30 a.m. Ry is singing from his crib. I go get him, give him some milk and let him watch PBS Kids while I fix some coffee and look through my email. 

8:00 - Shower, get up Isaac, nurse him then feed the boys breakfast. Ry is on a kick right now where he loves Peanut butter and cheesy scrambled eggs. I fix him one or the other. Isaac gets oats, yogurt and fruit. 

9:02- Oops, we're running late. I have to find Ry's shoes and brush everyone's teeth. Where did his jacket run off to???

9:19- Ry is at school! He loves it and it's been great for his speech. If Issie has a doctor's appointment, this is the day we will go. Or we will go grocery shopping or run errands. 

10:30- Back home, Issie nurses and goes down for a nap. This give me a great opportunity to work. I am doing more epublishing work, it's so much fun and I love it, but it requires concentration only nap time provides. 

11:30 - 12:00 - Issie is awake. I play with him, fold the laundry, load the dishwasher (which I have to do with him on my hip). He eats lunch. 

1:00- We are back at the school to get brother who had a GREAT day! 

1:30- This is our quiet time. We read books, play in the living room and calm down for nap time. Ry gets another sippy cup of milk and we read several books. He keeps asking for one more and I just keep reading.... I love this part of the day. 

2:00- Ry is down for a nap, nurse Issie. Then he goes down. And more work for mama. 

3:30- Issie is up. 

4:00- I have to wake up Ry. He is so grumpy. Then we paint, color, play in the playroom or go outside. 

5:00- Daddy's home!!!!!!!!!!!!!! More outside time, we might go to the park. 

6:00- Supper. I might have had something in the crock pot. I might be cooking it that night. We eat, Jason and I take turns feeding Issie. 

7:00 Bath time. Jason gives everyone a bath while I scrub down the kitchen. Ry goes to bed at 8:00 sharp! But Issie will wrestle with us til 9:30. Then he will be up 2-3 times. 

9:30- Jason and I do some work, fold clothes, balance the check book, boring adult stuff. Then we go to bed. We are reading through the Bible together. Right now we are reading Joshua. 

Lights out!

2:00 ... Issie's crying.... 

One days Ry isn't in school we will go to the library, spend time outside and work on Montessori learning. 

What's your day like? 

 

 

Waste not want not: the empty peanut butter jar

We threw away half our food last year. We wasted $165 billion. (source) By we I mean the United States. 

I am guilty of throwing things out, I shove then in the freezer with good intentions and then months later I toss them in the trash can. 

I talk a lot about meal planning here because it saves time and money, but it also reduces waste. 

I had been thinking a lot about this last week. I reached my hand into the cupboard to find an empty peanut butter jar. I got frustrated and went throw it out when I realized it wasn't empty. There was still a whole serving in there, I just had to get out my rubber spatula and scrap it out of the jar. Peanut butter is on average $.13 a serving. That $.13 wasn't going to make or break me, but it was principle. 

Sometimes saving something isn't about the money we save. It's about being grateful, not being wasteful, being good stewards of our resources and remembering that there is a person in the world for whom two tablespoons of peanut butter is a luxury. 

No Spenduary Wrap up: Kick out Sallie Mae!

No Spenduary has drawn to a close. It really was not a big deal. I did buy some donuts to take to a friend, but I feel that was an extenuating circumstance. A friend in need of carbohydrates is a friend indeed. 

This was an eye-opening experience, even for a thrifty family. We saw where our money was going. It was easy for my husband to spend $20 a week buying breakfast rather than making his own. 

However, when I showed him how much cheaper and healthier making his own breakfast would be he went with it.  (He leaves for work before 6 a.m. I am not getting up that early!)

Or it was easy for us to hit the drive through on the way home from church. But I realized I could just throw something in the slow cooker and be done! 

It was so easy for me to see a great deal on a coupon blog and think "I have to have that now!" rather than budgeting for it and waiting. 

Delayed gratification, my friends. I was late to learn that principle. 

But when I sat down and balanced our checkbook after four weeks of no spending I was thrilled to see all that extra cash in the bank! Then I immediately kicked myself, why don't we live like this every month? 

This month forced us to be intentional with our money. We had to make a list, a plan, and stick to it. 

We learned that genoristy on a budget is possible. 

We had free family fun and made great memories. 

The best part of the month was PAYING OFF MY HUSBAND'S STUDENT LOANS!!!! This was the last little piece of our debt and we had been chipping away at that loan for eight years. Bam! We got it done. We kicked Sallie Mae out of our house. 

I am not saying that not spending money in February made the difference between paying them off and not paying them off, but it certainly didn't hurt. 

I do go shopping Saturday, for shoes for my son, with a coupon. I used cash and didn't go over my set limit. But we have committed to no more Sunday drive through, no more fast food breakfasts and a more conscious mind toward spending. 

Come back next week and I will talk about paying off $36,000 in debt in two years!!

 

 

No Spenduary Update: Free Family Fun!

We are entering our final week of No Spenduary and so far it's been pretty easy. However, I will say it was hard to miss out on the half off chocolate over the past couple weeks. But I really don't need it anyway. 

Despite it being no spenduary we still went out to have some FREE FAMILY FUN! 

 

We took the boys to the local train depot where we had a free train ride and looked at all the model trains running in inside on the "O Line." We also got to climb on the trains outside, and had a picnic. 

Ry loved riding around the park. 

And we loved pointing to all the things we saw from the kid's train. 

We packed a really simple lunch of PB&J.


We are very fortunate to live in an area where there are lots of opportunities to have free fun. We live near the beach. There are lots of greats parks and museums. So don't feel bad if you don't have those things in your area. You can still go out there and have some FREE FUN!

Go to a park and pack a lunch. 

Fly a kite on a windy day. 

Go for a nature walk and see how many different kinds of pine cones you can find. 

Have a movie night with DVD's from the library. 

Having family fun doesn't have to be expensive. And the memories you make are PRICELESS! 

Ten Kitchen Disasters- FIXED!

Kitchen disasters fixed.jpg

My grandmother once told me a really funny story about a time when she was young and a new cook. She made so much rice that in order to conceal her embarrassment from my grandfather, she buried the rice in the backyard.

Cooking disasters are not uncommon. They are much like the disasters that happen in our own lives, often when we are ill prepared it leads to an outcome that is unpleasant.

I myself have been the victim of one too many cooking disaster. It usually leads to shouting and tears. I  am not a keep calm and carry on girl. I am a when in doubt run in circles scream and shout kind of girl.

Had my grandmother known that she could freeze the rice, and then perk it up later with a quarter cup of chicken broth, the ceremonial burial would not have been necessary.

 Cooking disasters are the one of the few things in life that can be easily remedied.

 Lydia’s top ten cooking disasters fixed: 

  1. Home made mac and cheese is runny – just add flour to the mixture while it is still simmering, add two table spoons at a time.
  2. If a beef stew or vegetable soup is too salty add some potatoes.
  3. If you find yourself one egg short add one teaspoon cornstarch and one table spoon water.
  4. Not many people keep corn syrup handy, so one part water and two parts granulated sugar will fill in nicely.
  5. If you burn a pound cake make a pot of coffee, pour about a cup of coffee over the cake and then add a little powdered sugar. 
  6. If a layer cake slides, or one layer breaks cut it into squares, put it in a glass pan, melt the icing and then pour over the cake. It isn’t as pretty, but it will taste delicious. If you are really feeling creative, make a torte.
  7. If you are making candy like Martha Washington’s or Buck Eye Balls and you are running low on chocolate, put the candy itself in muffin cups and pour over the top.
  8. If your pasta is a little al dente (under cooked) turn it into a casserole, cover in sauce, sprinkle it with cheese and stick in the oven for 15 minutes. Cheese covers a multitude of sins.
  9. If melting chocolate becomes hard, add a teaspoon of shortening or oil per ounce of chocolate.
  10. When all else fails, smile. Most mistakes can be eaten, buried in the back yard, or laughed about years later.

What kitchen disasters have you survived and how did you fix it? 


No Spenduary Update: Generosity on a Budget

We are two weeks into our No Spenduary Challenge and so far so good!

I did want to clarify a few things- we ARE buying groceries every week, which include things like healthy fresh produce, milk and lean proteins.

This is important to our family. And in all honesty our grocery budget is something we do need to workout because since the birth of Issie, it's kind of taken a backseat. I have just been trying to survive and keep my head above water with a baby who doesn't sleep. (Pray for me, will you?)

So we are still on track with our spending and I will tell you it's made balancing the checkbook each Thursday SO MUCH EASIER! 

Last week, however, my sister-in-law had a sweet baby girl and my husband wanted to meet that niece of his. So we looked at our budget and decided to take little road trip to his hometown this weekend. 

We packed our own snacks and only payed for gas. 

But I wanted to take my sister-in-law a care package. New mom care packages are a great way to bless mamas. Watch the video above to see how I put it all together. 

Let's be honest, people go crazy over a new baby and forget mom, who did all the work. 

I had $6 in ExtraCare bucks to my local CVS that I needed to use. I knew with my savvy eye I could get a pretty good amount of stuff for that. I brought the $5 to cover my tax. 

And I brought my little red-haired shopping buddy. 

I got hand soap for $.88

And body wash for $2.07. 

I got chocolate for $1.99 and some lip balm for $1.50. 

In total: I spent $6.44. 

$7.01 after tax. So really is cost me $1.01.

I supplemented my care package with some homemade bath bombs, Crystal light packets, hand-painted note cards my friend, Elizabeth, makes. I threw in some detergent samples (because breast milk stains and spit up make no one feel special.)

And I included a light-hearted read I enjoyed (from my bookshelf) and a devotional I love. I was up front with her that the books were used. She didn't care. 

Generosity and kindness do not have to be expensive.

It truly is the thought that counts. Leslie's face lit up when I gave her the care package. It was just for her. Just for mom. And she didn't have to share!

You can do little things to help out a friend or neighbor. If you know a family struggling, add an extra jar of peanut butter or gallon of milk to your grocery cart.

Bring a single mom's garbage can in from the road on trash day. Offer to babysit for free for a family with a special needs child to give those parents a little respite. 

Or pray! Praying does not cost you a penny because that debt has ALREADY been paid! 

What are some things you've done to show someone you care? 

 

 

Getting to know you: Five Facts About Me

I am starting a new series called: Getting to know you. Where I share a little bit about me. I want us to get to know each other. 

Today I am sharing Five Facts About Mom. Because I am a mom and these are five facts about me. You can watch the video above: there's singing and cute kids and ukulele strumming.