Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Holiday Blessing Opportunity

Through Friday, December 21, you can get a great deal on ebooks and at the same time help a homeschool family who has taken on the care of ten additional children, ages 2-16, who need a safe and loving home.

The mother of these ten precious kids has terminal cancer and is no longer able to care for them. And unfortunately, the situation with the father is such that the children cannot live with him either. So to provide a safe and stable environment for these children, and to keep the siblings together, the cousin of Joy @ Five J's has been working with social services and has opened her home to these ten children. (It's a complicated situation, and because of the sensitive circumstances, Joy is keeping the names of both families private.)

The children arrived at Joy's cousin's home a couple weeks ago with pretty much just the clothes on their backs and in great need of love, attention, and prayers. To help her cousin care for these ten children, Joy, with the help of several awesome bloggers, has organized a simple way for everyone to help.

Right now you can get this wonderful ebook bundle worth $50 for just $5, with all proceeds going to help provide food, clothing, homeschool curriculum, and other needs for these ten children. Money raised through this benefit will help keep these ten siblings together in a safe and loving home.

Click here to buy the ebook bundle for just $5.

Buy Now

How else can you help?

Share this sale with your family and friends!

Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter | Share on Google+

Donate in a couple different ways.

1. Donate money directly to the family through PayPal (you don't have to have a PayPal account to donate this way). Click the button below to donate.

2. Donate Walmart eGift Cards which the family can use to purchase what they need for the children. If you choose to donate a Walmart eGift Card, please use as the "recipient email address" when you purchase the card. Joy will then consolidate the cards to deliver to the family. Click here to donate a Walmart eGift Card.

What's Included in the $5 Ebook Bundle Sale

Here is what is in the ebook bundle. You can click on the links to preview the books, but then you'll need to come back here to purchase the bundle for $5, and all the proceeds will go to help care for the children.

  • Teaching Kids to Clean! by Dana of A Slob Comes Clean. Based on her experiences teaching her own kids to clean, Dana shares advice, lesson plans, supply lists, age-appropriate task lists, and printables to help you teach your kids the skills necessary for big cleaning tasks.
  • My Buttered Life (Gift & Baby Editions) by Renee of MadeOn ( The Gift Edition includes the following recipes for making your own skin care recipes: chocolate body mousse, flavored lip balms, chocolate peppermint lotion bars, scented & shaped lotion bars, and beeswax candles. The Baby Edition includes these recipes: baby massage oil, baby balm (Beesilk Jr), creamy baby lotion, diaper rash cream, and oatmeal milk bath. Each ebook includes instructional videos, a cost analysis, and information about where to buy ingredients.
  • 3-2-1 Stop, by Lorilee Lippincot of Loving Simple Living. 3-2-1 Stop is a how-to memoir of learning to love simple living. Lorilee uses personal stories, as well as tips learned along the way, showing how to create a life that makes space for what is most important.
  • How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too, by Mandi of Life Your Way. This book is for every mother who's ever wondered if it's possible to pursue her own passions while investing in her family and managing a home. It's a handbook to give you the tools to juggle your many responsibilities and to do it with intentionality rather than living under the burden of mommy guilt.
  • Heavenly Homemaker's Guide to Holiday Hospitality & Guide to Holiday Hospitality for Kids, by Laura of Heavenly Homemakers. Heavenly Homemakers's Guide to Holiday Hospitality is filled with ideas and encouragement to help you stay organized and relaxed while you prepare for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year celebrations with family and friends. In the kids' guide you'll find page after page of craft ideas, games, activities and recipes that kids can make and do on their own or with a little help from you.
  • A Simpler Season, by Jessica Fisher of Life As Mom. With over 200 pages of ideas, recipes, and printables, A Simpler Season provides you with practically everything you need to get from Thanksgiving to New Years in a calm, cool, collected manner.
  • The $5 Dinner Mom's Holiday Entertaining Guide, by Erin Chase of $5 Dinners. This is an entertaining guide to help you be the best hostess or guest during this holiday season. This guide is the antidote to every other holiday entertaining guide out there. Includes 30 simple recipes, from side dish to main dish, dessert to appetizer, that will not disappoint your guests. And, that won’t drain your budget either.
  • Quick & Easy Breakfasts, by Lynn of Lynn's Kitchen Adventures. This cookbook is full of simple and delicious breakfasts your family is sure to enjoy.
  • Homeschool Printables Pack, by Joy Miller of Five J's. This single volume includes all of Joy's homeschool printables, worksheets, and charts that she offers on her website. Includes a variety of subjects and is helpful for non-homeschooling families as well!

Click here to buy the ebook bundle for just $5.

Buy Now

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Online Christmas Shopping?

Last year, for the first time, we purchased many items online for Christmas.  That is largely because we got a free gift card, which I will discuss further in another post.  But I'm curious, how many of you do a lot of your Christmas Shopping online?

How many of you use gift cards that you were given as a gift to buy other people gifts?

Has anyone else been intrigued by the vast number of gift card designs available?  Nearly as much thought is needed for picking out what the card looks like as would go into picking out another gift.

I wanted to share with you Amazon's gift card variety for this year: There is a card style for everyone.  And if you aren't happy with that, they also offer cards with your own picture on them! 

Check out the link in my sidebar if you are interested in checking out or buying Amazon gift cards for Christmas this year.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Time Favorite Children's Books

Hello!  I am embarking on a new adventure!  I am planning to write my novel this month.  I'm a little lot nervous because since so many people know, I feel the pressure to actually accomplish it.  But that is probably a good thing.

I am writing a children's novel.  I'm asking you to comment with your favorite or (if you are like me and don't have just one) one of your many favorite children's books.  And if you have a reason it is your favorite, I would love to hear it. 

I'll start.  I've always loved the Boxcar Children (the original.  I enjoyed the series, but it has nothing on the first book as far a quality goes).  I really like the way as a kid I felt like I was part of the adventure.  I can remember thinking that I could have a real adventure even as a kid.  And I could taste the berries and cold milk, and though I was not a fan of either in real life they sure sound yummy in the story.

Please comment below with your favorite book(s).  Thanks!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 31 of 31 Days of Peace

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Numbers 6:24-26
“‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;

the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’ 

All month we have devoted time toward how we are to try to gain self control and guard our mouths to help regain peace in our homes.  We have considered how we are to model the peace we desire to see.  The above verses, however, remind us of the most important way we are to gain peace.  Each verse tells us something about how peace comes to us.   The following verbs are used "give", "fill", and "leave".  These are active verbs.  Someone is giving us His peace, filling us with peace and leaving us with peace.  

We need to go to Him who gives peace and request the gift of the giver.  We need to daily take captive our thoughts and tongues.  We need to make the effort necessary to achieve the goal.  But mostly, we need to ask the gift of the Giver and be willing to do the work necessary to unwrap the gift.  

As we close this month of "Peace" take a moment to review in your mind the verses we've read.  Choose the one or two that speak deep to your soul.  Begin to pray those words back to God as you seek His help in establishing an environment of peace in your home.  No situation is too great of the grace of God. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 28 of 31 Days of Peace

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  Against such things there is no law.

One cannot do a series on peace without including this well-known and well loved passage.  Peace is part of the fruit of the Spirit.  Peace is not really optional, if you look at it in this sense.  We are supposed to seek His Spirit.  We are to develop the Spirit in us to resemble Him more each day.  Part of that "resemblance" is peace. 

Each day, choose peace.  Choose to conform your Spirit to His and grow the fruit that shows that we belong to Him.

Day 27 of 31 Days of Peace

Jude 1:2
Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

This is the opening of a letter to " those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ"

How often do we really pray this for ourselves and our families and our brothers and sisters of the faith?  For as often as we whine, roll our eyes and complain about the lack of peace in our homes, how often do we come before our Lord, Jesus and ask him for the mercy, peace and love that He desires us to have in abundance?   

Today, take that time and pray.  Pray for the peace.  Pray that the verses we have been reading will penetrate first your heart and allow you to overflow with peace and joy to change the environment in your home.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Homemade Play Dough

My kids take random bouts of interest in playing with play dough.  I rarely buy store bought play dough, but occasionally the kids will get interested so we whip together a batch of "Kool-Aid Play Dough"

2 packages Kool-Aid
2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
mix dry ingredients together

Add 2 cups boiling water and
3Tbsp vegetable oil

Mix together to form a ball.  Sprinkle table with flour and knead dough.  Be careful, it will be HOT!

Once kneaded to desired consistency, play.  Can be stored in zippered bags for several weeks.

Day 26 of 31 Days of Peace

Today's verse is Isaiah 32:18, but I wanted to include the entire passage.

Isaiah 32:17-19
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
    its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
    in secure homes,
    in undisturbed places of rest.
19 Though hail flattens the forest
    and the city is leveled completely,

This passage shows us what God intends for his people:  quietness, confidence, peacefully dwelling places, secure homes, undisturbed places of rest - regardless of circumstances.  I desire all the good things God has for me and my family.  Do you believe these blessings can be yours?


6-8 Large Tomatoes (chopped)
3-4 Green Peppers (chopped) Zucchini works also
2 Onions (chopped)
4 Cloves Garlic
3 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Package Taco Seasoning Mix
1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Salt
2 Tbsp Parsley
1 Tbsp Cilantro
2 Limes (don't leave out) zested and juiced
1/3 cup
jalapeno peppers (optional)

This is the recipe as I was given it. I made a few (slight) modifications.  I added extra lime juice.  I was freezing the tomato, peppers, etc. mix because they were going to go bad before I could get the limes and jalapeno peppers bought.  I forgot to add the parsley.   I only used 2 oz (per batch) of jalapenos.  I doubled the recipe and got 5 pints of salsa.  Even my children, who don't generally like salsa, were eating it!

I must admit, it took a while.  I'm not a fast cook.  I blanched the tomatoes to make peeling easier.  I stood and chopped for a long while.  I don't have a food processor, I'm not sure how well it would have worked.  

I was very pleased with how my first batch of salsa turned out.  After it was heated for the canning process, I was less pleased with the flavor, but it had been very runny before and was much better after. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 24 (and 25) of 31 Days of Peace

One of the greatest difficulties in this series, besides doing it daily, has been finding my own words to add any measure of understanding or reflection upon what God says in His Word. So today I offer to you two verses from God's Word about being a peacemaker and ask you to reflect for yourself upon two questions:  Am I a peacemaker?  How can I become one (or a better one) in my home?

Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

James 3:18
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23 of 31 Days of Peace

Proverbs 12:18
The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
 but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

We read previously about the healing power of words.  Again this verse tells us that words are powerful.  They can be destructive or healing in power.   Why do I keep harping on our words when I'm talking about the peaceful homes? 

In my experience, it is words that most disrupt the calm, peaceful attitude of the home.  It is the spoken word that upsets children, causes mothers to get irrational and fathers to get frustrated.  Any scuffle is escalated in intensity by the verbal reaction of the parties involved.  A well placed spoken word can reduce the intensity, returning all involved to a state of relative calm rather than creating an environment of hostility. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 21 (and 22) of 31 Days of Peace

Okay, wives, I"m not letting up on you tonight.  Wish I could, but it seems pretty clear that this is an important issue in creating an environment of peace.  

Proverbs 21:9
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Proverbs 25:24
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

No, that is not a typo.  You read that correctly.  Twice in the book of Proverbs we have the same passage.  Not just pretty similar idea, the same.  Admittedly, I haven't read it in the original, if you have please let us know, but when you check the different versions, they still match.

If the previous verses we discussed on Days 19 and 20 say it is better to live in the desert than with a nagging wife and compare a nagging wife to a leaking roof, and twice we read it would be better to live outside on the roof than in a (many translations indicate large) house with a nagging wife, can we really deny the need to address this in ourselves?

Remember, moms, what you model becomes acceptable to your sons.  Would you be happy to hear a daughter-in-law talk to your son like you talk to your husband? 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 19 (and 20) of 31 Days of Peace

Some of us had better hope our husbands don't read these verses too carefully.

Proverbs 21:19
Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.

Proverbs 27:15
A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm.

I've been focusing most of my thoughts of how to bring about peace in my home toward my interaction with my children and their interaction with each other.  But it is equally, if not more, important to have a peaceful interaction between husband and wife.  I'm not a husband and don't feel qualified to give much advice to them.  But I am a wife and have struggled through the above verses, and can share my experiences to encourage other wives. 

The Bible, the book that we as Christians look to for advice on how to live a full and rich life, mentions nagging quarrelsome wives, not once but multiple times.  Perhaps we ought to take a look.  A look at ourselves.  Are we nagging?  Quarrelsome?  Show of hands time, who here has had an argument in your head with your husband while he's gone at work which ends with him coming home in trouble for "his end" of the argument that he wasn't even part of?  I knew I couldn't be the only one!

I once had a pastor ask whether we would rather be "right" or "in relationship"?  That is not to say we never have opinions, never voice concerns, never disagree.  But there are many arguments in marriage that are simply about being right.

"Turn left.  It's the fastest way to get there this time of day."
"No, going straight is faster."
"No, I'm telling you, turning left will save 2 minutes with traffic like this."

And on and on this discussion goes until one party is mad that the other didn't listen to them and they arrive at the restaurant two minutes later than they would have.  Both spouses are angry and a nice dinner is ruined because we care more that we are right about the traffic than that we enjoy a few minutes with each other.

While that argument sounds silly, I encourage you, look at your interactions with your spouse.  Have you ever, upon retrospect, had an argument over things that are of similar importance?  Things with no eternal value?  Does it matter which way the towels get folded?

Share your experience, what is a ridiculous argument you felt justified in participating in, knowing you were "right" that you now realize was of no lasting value?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 18 of 31 Days of Peace

Proof positive that I am not yet wise:

Ecclesiastes 10:12

Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, 
but fools are consumed by their own lips.

 I often wonder if I will ever learn to manage my tongue and not become consumed by my own lips. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 16 (and 17) of 31 Days of Peace

Proverbs 15:26
The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, 
but gracious words are pure in his sight.

This verse equates thoughts with words.  We need to take our thoughts captive and use gracious words to honor and please the Lord.  

Proverbs 16:24
Gracious words are a honeycomb, 
 sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Here we see that gracious words are healing.  How often do we damage and destroy with our words?  Are we using them to heal, to build up our friends and loved ones?  Our enemies?

Now that we are half way through our 31 Days of Peace, I want to encourage you to review the verses we've studied so far.  What do they say to you about creating an environment of peace by controlling the use of our mouths?  What practical ways can you use words to further the peace in your home?  I encourage you to choose a verse and begin to recite it to yourself, I personally like Proverbs 16:24 above, to help you begin to develop the habit of speaking kindly and carefully to your loved ones. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 14 (and 15) of 31 Days of Peace

How do we foster an environment of peace in our homes?  We've been looking at verses from the Bible that teach us that our actions, and more specifically our words, are what create the environment in which we live.  Below are two more verses about our mouths:

Matthew 12:34
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil 
say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

Proverbs 36:3
The words of their mouths are wicked and 
deceitful; they fail to act wisely or do good.

We are plainly told that in those who are evil reside mouths that are evil.  From that, can we extrapolate that in those who are good reside mouths that speak good?  "The mouth speaks what the heart is full of."  What is coming out of your mouth?  Are you speaking good in front of your children? 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 12 (and 13) of 31 Days of Peace

My apologies for missing yesterday.  As I sat down to write, my wrist ached too much, forcing me to postpone.  When I pulled up today's verse, I was amused to see that, much to my surprise, it was pretty well the same as yesterdays.  So I will share them both here:

Matthew 15:11 "What goes into someone’s mouth 
does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
Matthew 15:18 "But the things that come out of a person’s mouth
 come from the heart, and these defile them."

This entire passage, Matthew 15:1- 20 deals with the Pharisees coming after Jesus for not following "traditions", specifically ceremonial hand washing before meals.  Jesus retorts that they break God's law to uphold their tradition (please read the entire passage for better understanding).  Then He explains that which we put in of our mouths isn't the problem, it's that which we spew from our mouths that shows our true heart.  

One can eat all the right and good things, but that will never make them "good'.  It seems to me that this is a comparison of works versus faith.  Relying upon what you put into your body to make you holy and pure is tantamount to relying upon works to make you pure and righteous.  But that can never change our heart.  We must receive a heart change in order that we can put forth good and pure things from our mouths.  

We are defiled by what we speak, the words that portray the inner heart that we try to hide.  Ask yourself, have I defiled myself with my words recently?  Pray for the heart change necessary to change the words of your mouth.   

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 11 of 31 Days of Peace

Proverbs 20:3
It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
Do you ever feel the need to bicker, argue and fight to defend your "honor", your pride?  Ever feel like if you can just get one more word in the world will see that you are right and revere you for the amazing genius that you are?  Me neither.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 10 of 31 Days of Peace

Proverbs 15:18
 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
    but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
I don't know that there is much I can add to this.  We must choose which disposition we desire to put on ourselves, hot-tempered or patient.  We must practice patience, failing often but picking up and trying again at every opportunity.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 8 (and 9) of 31 Days of Peace

2 Timothy 2:23-24
Don’t have anything to do with arguing. 
It is dumb and foolish. You know it only leads to fights.

The two verses we are discussing today are taken from the New International Readers' Version, designed to make more sense to kids.  This is the version my kids are memorizing because the NIV says "stupid" and my kids aren't allowed to say that, so they were happier with this version.  This verse comes directly before the verse I blogged about on Day 5.  But it relates well to the verses we were discussing on Days 6 and 7.   If the verses so far have left any doubt, this surely does not.  "Don't have anything to do with arguing.  It is dumb and foolish."  Well, okay then. 

James 4:1   
Why do you fight and argue among yourselves? 
Isn’t it because of your sinful longings? They fight inside you.

This verse is not fun.  Instead of just telling you not to fight, it makes you look into yourself, look at your heart.  I don't know about you, but often when I do that, I find that I don't like what I see.  This makes sense in light of the verses admonishing us to drop our quarrels.  If, in fact, our fights and arguments are based upon sinful longings, then we out to be willing and in fact eager to take each opportunity to take captive those thoughts and yearnings and drop whatever is causing divisive, sinful feelings. 


Monday, October 8, 2012

Days 6 (and 7) of 31 Days of Peace

Proverbs 17:14 & 19
14 Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
    so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.

19 Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin;
    whoever builds a high gate invites destruction.

I love how verse 14 says to drop the matter.  It seems so simplistic, "so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out." The verse after this one says that God hates for the guilty to be acquitted, so it seems clear that God isn't speaking of just letting other people do bad things to you all the time.  It seems to me He is speaking of those silly useless quarrels, which we all have, over trivial things.  

Ever fight with your spouse of toothpaste?  Or who had to get up and turn the light off last night?  Those quarrels, bickering silliness, truly can be like breaching a dam.  Suppressing those feelings of frustration is just as bad, as that is what causes the dam that is breached to be so damaging.  

No, God doesn't want us to be victims.  And he doesn't want us to hold back years of frustration to pour forth upon the unsuspecting loved one when we can hold the dam no longer.  He does want us to "drop the matter".  Drop does not imply hide, it means let it go.  Stop making it an issue.  So many little issues between my kids would not exist if they chose to drop them, let them go.  They wouldn't even care in five minutes.  

The same is true for many marriages.  Many marriages are lost of trifles. 

Verse 19 relates to verse 14.  "Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin".  Some of you  think, "Who would love a quarrel?"  But a few of you out there are like me, or like I used to be.  You deep down love a good argument.  It gets your blood pumping, adrenaline flowing.  It leaves you feeling quite satisfied, dare I say - proud.  But God says loving quarrels means loving sin.  That's harsh.  Or is it?  God clearly shows us in His word that quarreling isn't what He has in mind for His children.  We need to seek first His will, His kingdom.  Or we are first seeking the world and sin.  

God made provisions for what his people should do should a dispute arise.  Clearly He knew we would have disagreements and miscommunications, as fallible humans.  We can see from His love and care that He has ways to settle these disputes and issues, therefore when He tells us not to quarrel but rather let it drop, we can trust that He knows what is best for us and understands the difference between a need for justice and a selfish need to be right.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 5 of 31 Days of Peace

2 Timothy 2:24
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome 
but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
Today's verse brings in two new ideas we haven't discussed before, yet are so true in the lives of my children:  the ability to teach and the idea of not being resentful.  Having a larger family, my children are called upon to teach one another in many ways, not just academically.  I believe in varying ways we all teach, regardless of the family size.  But I can see many times when one of my older children gets so upset because "How can you not know that!" 
Am I guilty of that?  Only too often.  I fume and fuss because they didn't know, which is because I failed to teach.  We instruct intentionally, and unintentionally, continually.  We teach with our lives, our actions and our words.  We need to show love, kindness and patience when we teach our children or anyone God places in our lives.  
He also tells us to not be resentful.  How often do we outwardly perform these tasks He has commanded, yet inwardly sulk and scowl, complaining at the lack of worthiness of those to whom we are showing "love".  Not only are we called to behave in a certain manner, we are to reign in our emotions, control our feelings. 

How contrary this idea is to that which the world would have us believe.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 3 (and 4) of 31 Days of Peace

Momma's mood, temperament and manner of speech set the environment of the home.  This is a painful reality as I wonder why my children speak so unkindly to one another.  I have, unwittingly, fostered this environment and now, with the help of this 31 day series on peace, I begin the process of changing the verbal and emotional atmosphere of my home.

Ephesians 4:2 -
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
The above verse speaks of being patient, treating each other gently and being humble.  This idea of being humble as related to how we treat one another was new to me.  I hadn't considered that part of the problem lies in our pride, in our belief that we are, in some way, superior to the person toward whom we are behaving poorly.    

But the following verse really impacted me, and I believe my kids as well:
Hebrews 5:2 -
He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.

Oh, my.  Relating to others in light of the fact that we are weak, fallen creatures who should treat other as gently as perhaps we would like to be treated.  

I realize that I need to employ these verses in my manner and speech more than I expect in that of my children.  How do I speak to them when they are making poor choices, being disruptive or in general annoying me?  

All I need to do to find out is to listen to how they treat one another in the same situation.  Then I see clearly how I have spoken to them for way too long.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 2 of 31 Days of Peace

Titus 3:1-2 says
"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good,  to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone."

We are going to focus today on verse 2:  "to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone."

I have found lately that my children seem to look for reasons to fight and bicker.  They will be happily playing one minute and a shrieking match will ensue the next.  This verse in Titus helps us see some basic ways we can each work to restore peace in our environment. 

Slander is the spoken word used against someone, in an attempt to malign them and their character.  Most of us would like to say we don't do that.  But do we?  I know I am guilty as charged.  I've been known to feel the need to be sure that others know what he did or she said, you know, just the facts.  But again the bible shows us that our words are important and under our control.  It is not up to us to be sure others know what wrong someone has committed. 

Then I look at the next phrase "to be peaceful and considerate".  That statement brings to my mind a pictures of a sweet, serene, lovely lady.  I've known some of these.  I'm willing to bet you have, too.  Are we born naturally that way?  Do we have control over behaving in a peaceful, considerate manner?  Clearly we do, as God commands it of us.  He wouldn't tell us to be peaceful if it was something that only the naturally born peaceful people could achieve.   We must actively decide to behave peacefully, not trying to "stir up anger" as yesterday's verse suggested. 

"Be gentle toward everyone."  Did that say just those you like?  Just those who are gentle toward you?  Just those who can help your career?  Your ministry?  No.  Everyone.  This includes your siblings, your spouse and *gulp* your children.  Everyone.  

The more I look into bible verses that encourage and help us develop our character, the more I see it as an active work.  Despite our natural inclination, we must work to achieve the character we admire.  Those gentle, serene ladies are not that way by birth or inclination, but by years of cultivation.  Let me cultivate that gentleness in myself and lead my children to do the same.  

Check out the other 31 Dayers here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days of Peace

In the blogging world. many people are using this month as a 31 Day Challenge.  I was inspired by a blog I love, A Slob Comes Clean, to create a 31 Day Challenge of my own, focusing on a single topic for 31 days.  I am not a consistent blogger, so this is a challenge in more ways than one for me, but it nicely coincided with a challenge I've given my kids to begin to speak peacefully in our home.  So I opted to combine the two and find a verse or famous quote to study every day and write a post around it.

So here goes:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

Take a moment to really reflect upon the words.  A gentle answer - to me that implies a response, not just speaking gently but answering or responding to someone.  Stirs up anger - this makes me think that the anger is existing but the harsh word stirs it, increasing its potency.

When someone comes at you with angry words or is upset, you have two choices.  A gentle answer or a harsh word.  The result of your words can diffuse or escalate a potentially already tumultuous situation.  You have no control over how someone approaches you, nor the attitude they express.  You do have control of, and responsibility to demonstrate control of, your own tongue.  This verse reminds us, as we have all experienced, that how we respond can make a big difference.

I'm linking this and the following posts of this series to The Nester's 31 Day Challenge.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How To Be Prepared with BOB

A while back I wrote a post on my newly remodeled pantry.  I explained that I had begun to "prepare" for the unexpected events that cause it to be difficult to buy groceries for a period of time.  Today I wish to share with you some other thoughts about how and why you should be prepared (also known as "prepping") for other situations, namely emergency evacuation.

But I'm going to begin with a background story.

A few years ago, we here in the Indiana experienced a Hundred Year Flood.  On that occasion we happened to be visiting my in-laws and were consumed with helping them with the water rising in their basement.  We had planned to go home, but after watching the news the television realized that we couldn't get there if we tried.

Had we been home we would have been stuck at home for a few days.  But, had we lived merely a few miles down the road, we would have been evacuated.  I've thought a lot about this over the last couple of years.

I've decided that I need to be prepared in case 1) I can't leave my house for a few days and 2) in case I must leave my house in a few minutes. 

I have devised a plan.  I haven't yet implemented it, but I'm using this as a motivator to help me (if I post it I am accountable, right?) as well as looking for other thoughts. 

I have 6 children.  My desire is to have a Bug Out Bag (BOB as they are called) for each of them that is packed with - at least 3 pairs of undies and socks, at least one set of long pants/long sleeved shirt and one pair of shorts/short sleeved shirt.  Also an extra toothbrush and maybe a hand towel.  I'm not sure yet whether I will pack each a bag or partner pack them.  I'm pondering other items that need to get packed without consuming too much space (Diapers for the baby, etc.), as it is easy to "over prepare" and have more than you can manage in an emergency.

I have yet to decide what I'm going to do about food.  I know I can't possibly carry enough food for long term, but it would be best to have a few bottles of water and simple snacks (granola bars, raisins, etc) handy that will allow me some flexibility in an emergency.  Should I have each kid pack a few items or keep them all together in one additional food bag? 

In addition to that, I'm packing a BOB for the bathroom.  Since I already buy extra of everything to keep on the shelf, I'm going to keep one set of everything (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bandaids, triple antibiotic, diaper wipes, etc.) in that bag.

I already have a nice plastic container with a lid and handle containing flashlights, candles and matches.  It has grown up flash lights and kid flashlights so each kid has their own (reduces fighting).
Besides a BOB for each member of the family and the bathroom supplies, I have decided it is more important that I get the kids in the habit of keeping shoes and a jacket at the shoe/jacket rack/hook area.  I was even more convinced one day as, while we were trying to leave, we had the inevitable 20 shoe search realizing that had this been an emergency she'd be shoeless.

The last thing I want to touch on with prepping for an evacuation is cash.  I know some people never carry cash, for various reasons.  But I urge you to obtain an amount of cash (determined by you through careful consideration) and keep it safe at home.  Don't necessarily carry it in your purse, wallet or car, but keep some at home, preferably in a fire proof safe.   Think about what the situation might dictate.  If money is tight in your world, what would happen if it was Tuesday before payday Friday, and you were evacuated from home.  You must leave and be prepared to provide for your family for a period of days before payday hit.  Could you 1) put gas in your vehicle 2) buy yourself a meal or a few meals 3) provide your family a place to stay?  If you can evacuate in your own vehicle, that helps the situation, but can you get away someplace?  Is your car perpetually on E and you don't have the money to buy enough gas to get to a loved one's house?  Do you need to stay in a hotel?  Cash gives you choices and choices are powerful.

It might help to have a list by the main exit of things you need/plan to grab.  Let the kids know where everything is so they can grab things.  If you have a larger family, assign bigger kids to carry bags for and hold hands of littler kids.  It might help to think "What can I grab in 10 minutes and be on the road?"  You should be planning no more than you and your help (kids, spouse, etc.) can grab in one trip.  Backpacks reduce what you must have in your hands, therefore increasing what you can grab on the go.

What are your thoughts on prepping?  How are you preparing for an emergency that forces you to leave your home quickly?  What have I not mentioned that I might need to pack in our BOBs? 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to Homeschool Multiple Grades at One Time

I should really have titled this: 
"How to Homeschool Multiple Grades at One Time? -
 When they all need you!"

I have two 6th graders, two 3rd graders, a Kindergartner (who shall likely promote in January) and a toddler.  No, I have no twins, but God blessed me with girls born 15-20 months after their brothers.  Both girls are motivated and academic kids, both boys are ... boys.  So it works nicely to school them together.  Not sure what I'll do when my 6 year old 3rd grader gets much older, but that's a problem for another day.

By 6th grade children ought to be able to do most of their school by themselves.  And my girl can.  But my boy, who is very gifted with his hands and ability to think (except as it pertains to how to stay out of trouble), is not gifted with academic motivation and struggles with his reading still. 

So inevitabley, we start school with great intentions, but then the "baby" gets into mischief, the oldest can't keep himself on track, the oldest girl can't focus because someone is breathing, the 3rd graders are whining they need my help and the Kindergartener is happily coloring a picture.  Chaos ensues and we aren't able to keep up with everything we need to do. 

So I'm trying a new plan, I've pondered it for a LONG time, sure that it can't work.  But desperation causes willingness to try, and the desperate jump for any liferope they see.

I'm doing school in stages, setting aside time that each grade gets mommy, and the others are on baby duty.  They are responsible for playing with him, keeping him contented and out of trouble while I do school with the other grades.  Yesterday was the first trial day, and it was a shortened day, so that we only managed to get one grade done, so I can see problems arising there. 

I want to know, have any of you other homeschooling mommas tried anything like this?  If so, what were your experiences?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hearts, Minds, Mouths and Hands

I've been very displeased lately with the way my children talk to each other.  I am certain it is "normal" but it doesn't make me very happy to hear them so unkind to one another.  Especially as I know they are all really kind-hearted children.
Yesterday I started our morning with some bible reading/discussion time over the following verses:
  1. Philippians 4:8

    Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
  2. Ephesians 6:10-17

    10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 
  3. 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

    By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. 

    And this quote

    "Be Careful what you think... your thoughts become your words... your words become your actions... your actions become your habits... your habits become your character... your character is everything"

    We discussed all these things in the context of taking our thoughts captive, learning to control our thoughts in the spiritual battle that is within us.  We discussed being called to stop our wrong thinking and not indulge ourselves in it.  The kids themselves brought up the Armor of God, able to explain most of it, and it tickled me that the verse I wanted to tell them next (Ephesians 6:12) was located just prior to the Armor of God that they were quoting to me as we discussed spiritual battle.

    I think they got some good information.  I told them that I would expect them to and hold them accountable for learning to control their tongues and thoughts.  They seemed to really understand how our thoughts spill out into our character.

    My question:  How often do I remember this?  Am I the only momma guilty of teaching a lesson that I realize perhaps was more meant for me than for my kids?

    I'm linking this to Raising Homemakers.  Check out other blogs to help encourage you in raising your children.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tips and Tricks for Packing with a Larger Family

My family just returned from a weekend trip to Camp.  We attended a local camp's Family Camp, a weekend they set aside for families to enjoy camp life together.  It was fun.  The kids had a good time.  Mommy and Daddy had a good time.  We got very wet.  And today is that day - put it all away day!  (Trying to have some enthusiasm here.)
I'm really not sure which is worse, Packing Day or Put it Away Day.  Okay, Put it Away Day is worse.  At least on Packing Day, the kids are motivated to help.  We've learned a few things that help make packing easier for a larger family.
I typed up a packing list for the kids, another checklist (they love their checklists). This allowed them to check off the items they need and tells them how many of each thing.  Once they have checked off all the items, they bring the stack to me for verification.  They are then free to pack their items.
You may be able to see in the picture in this post the tubs we use for kids clothes.   We have discovered that using one of these tubs to put their clothes in (or two depending on how long of a trip it is) helps in the packing in the vehicle because they stack nicely.  They also help with storing in the hotel/condo/cabin.  If you take items out to put in drawers during a longer stay, then the empty tubs stack nicely.  If you keep the clothes in them then you can stack them nicely in a corner or closet out of the way.  It helps cut down on the visual clutter.  They also double as dirty laundry hampers/baskets.  And they don't need to be "stored" when not on vacation.
Take an assortment of plastic bags, both trash bags and zippy bags.  You will need them for something - dirty laundry, dividing snacks while driving, covering car seats that have been peed in and cannot be washed yet, gathering trash in vehicles, etc.
Having one central shower caddy helps.  I put (or had a minion put) all the towels in a laundry basket and all the shower stuff in a caddy and all the toothbrushes in a large schoolbox (have to use the hundreds of those things hanging around for something).  This was helpful because I didn't have to worry about soap spilling in a bag as usual and the basket was great for dirty towels and laundry at the end of the trip.
But, after all this, I've yet to really make packing easy and fun (for me).  It is easier each time, but there is still a lot I have to learn.  I'd love to hear from you.  Even if your family isn't "larger" than average, please comment.  Do you have tips and trick to make packing easier or more fun?

I'm posting this in the Welcome Home Link-Up.  Check out other blogs from moms embracing life as homemakers!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Swiss Cheese!

Found on the internet today:
"I used to have functioning brain cells,
 but I traded them in for a child".  
Oh how TRUE!!
I have often said that each time I gave birth I lost half of the brain cells I possessed before that child.  I have given birth 6 times.  You do the math.  I've done it.  It's scary.
I found this internet comic amusing because only last night I was pondering this very thing:  How different my "intellect" is now from what it was then.
Indulge me for a minute, if you will (if you won't, change tabs and read something else).  In high school I was "smart".  I mean I wasn't in the top 10 in my class, but I was #13.  I was in the top 10%.  I did graduate with a 3.9ish.  I did get an honors diploma.  I did get really good (not like perfect good, but really good) SAT scores.  I did test out of all freshman level college classes that you could test out of.  (I did learn not to end a sentence with "of" and I'm going to do it anyway.)  I did finish my first semester of college with a 4.0 and 30 credits (due to testing out, etc).  So while I was NOT the most brilliant nor the most driven (by far) student in my class, I was labelled as a smart kid.
I did all the stuff you are supposed to in college.  I got good grades, graduated Cum Laude with and honors diploma and a BA.  I wrote a senior thesis to get the honors diploma.  (How to Implement a Spanish Foreign Language Class in an Elementary School Setting, riveting reading I tell you). 
In my younger years, I only knew how to judge my "intellect" or "smartness" based on my grades and test scores.  I was a really good student.  I had a great memory and could keep mental track of many different things going on at the same time.  I never used bookmarks, I could remember what page number I stopped on in whatever book(s) I was reading at the time.  I never took notes, used a calendar or made lists.  My brain was my filing cabinet.
Then it began to rust.  The wholes began to form.  Now, instead of a steel cabinet keeping track of all my information (important and otherwise) my brain is swiss cheese.
I actually found myself last night realizing that, to many people who have just recently met me, I'm just this nice stay at home, homeschooling momma with an average (or I hope) intelligence and ability to function in the world.
Well, that may be true, but it is not the picture of me that has been in my head all these years.  I've always seen myself as this really smart capable person.  But I've turned into this really normal, average person, some days not even that.
But there is a bright side.  Now that I'm not so smart, I actually know more Truth than I ever did in my smart days.  I know the One who created me.  I know the Truth behind creation/evolution.  I know my historical heritage and the rights guaranteed me as a citizen of this, the greatest nation on Earth.  I know who I am in the One who created the universe.  I know love unlike anything I could have known before those little braincell sucking parasites were born.
Yeah, I'd take the trade all over again.  I'll settle for average momma with super kids.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Have you ever had a dream?  Not the Running-Down-The Hallway-Chasing-The-Rabbit-Making That-Crazy-Noise-Only-To-Wake-Up-And-Realize-It-Is-The-Alarm dream.  Those those are fun, too. 

I mean the "When I grow up I wanna be a rock star" dreams.  Have you ever wondered where your dreams come from?  Did God give you the dream and the opportunity to pursue it?  Did you get the dream from somewhere else and God gave you the chance to pursue it?  Do all of our dreams, hopes and ambitions come from God?  Or are they from our "humanity" and He allows us to pursue them?  Is there a mix of both?

So, I wonder, Where Do Our (My) Dreams Come From? 

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be one of 3 things 1) Country Music singer (tone deaf, not happening here) 2) Police officer (kind of a coward though) and 3) a teacher.  I pretty well settled on teacher in the 1st grade and never left.  I loved my first grade teacher.  She was wonderful.  I planned it all out - I was going to be a first grade teacher.  Until I student taught in first grade.  Then I decided to be a second grade teacher. 

Well, long story short, I decided after 5 years of teaching remedial reading, that I wanted to be a stay at home mom for 5 years, until baby number 3 (still not yet a twinkle in momma's eye) was in Kindergarten. 

Then I realized I wanted to homeschool my (at the time 4) kids.  Well, at six kids now and another 17 years of homeschooling ahead of me, I know without a doubt, that the dream, as it existed in my head for literally 20+ years will never be.

Now, I don't say that because I'm unhappy.  Quite the opposite.  I love my life, my kids, my choice to homeschool.  I have never regretted, even once, my decision.  I've never doubted it was God's plan and desire.  I'm not saying that I don't mourn a little every August.  But that time is always mixed with the excitement of our new school year starting.  I'm so blessed to experience what so few momma's (relatively speaking) get to experience.  If you aren't a homeschooler, you won't quite understand.  If you are, you totally understand.  My kids with me nearly every moment is priceless (except it the bathroom). 

But I do wonder, did God give me the original dream so that I could someday be fulfilled in this plan I could never have understood 30 years ago, this life of a homeschooling momma that was so foreign to me then?  Could God have wanted me to strive for that dream so as to make this the result?  Or was the original dream just something out of my humanity, something I came up with that amounted to nothing because it wasn't His plan? 

I don't know.  It seems strange to place a dream in a small child's heart, knowing that it will never come to pass.  Yet, I don't know that it wasn't a big part of getting me to this stage in my life.  I do know that God has a plan.  His plan is to bring me to His expected end, fulfill His hopes in my life.  If I entrust that to Him, what difference does the rest of it make?

What dreams have you found God using differently than you imagined He would?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Treasure Hunting

My family is returning from a week long vacation in beautiful Florida!  In this modern era of technology, I am blogging as my husband drives through the beautiful Tennessee landscapes.
We spent the whole wonderful week relaxing, playing, and spending time together. One of our favorite activities was "treasure hunting".  Each time we went to the beach, we looked for whatever treasures we could find.  We found all the best and prettiest shells and shell pieces, living creatures (which we returned home) and sand dollars.  Each new item found, no matter how like the previous ones, evoked squeals and peals of delight and joy.
We visited the ocean under different circumstances, when the wave were calm, when the waves where crashing hard and everything in between.  The kids laughed and played as they were being swamped by waves.  My 6 year old, who has always been very timid in water (my only one really), was having a ball being doused by wave after wave. She would come up and grin and giggle only to be plowed over again by the next round.  Even the baby would giggle and smile at the waves rushing up on his feet.
In the midst of a glorious week, staring out my window at waves and sandy beaches, reading on a balcony while listening to waves and wind, I found my own treasures.  I left for vacation a veritable mental and emotional mess.  My brain was cluttered with the chaos and stress that being a homeschooling momma with 6 kids and a volunteer Children’s Ministry leader less than 2 months before a huge VBS brings.  I couldn’t find up, couldn’t think through one task, felt like I was drowning in the piles in my head created by the clutter of thought and responsibility.  Then something amazing happened. 
I took a week off.  Off of everything (two weeks from church – hee hee).  And the world still spins.  Church still goes on.  My kids are no less smart, my house (I presume) still stands, my garden is growing (again, I presume), my dog is alive, my kids are clean, fed and happy and my husband has smiled and relaxed more than I have seen in a while.  So, it turns out that the world can go on without my micromanaging. 
I was so proud of me.  I dodged and punted church and VBS questions, delaying ones that could wait, passing the buck on ones that couldn’t to my co-brain and co-Children’s Ministry Director.  I didn’t even use my computer until today, the last day as we are driving home.  I did use my fancy phone to email and facebook, but recreationally only!  I didn’t even take my phone to the ocean! 
In all of this week, I found my treasure.  The treasure I have been needing for so long.  Simplicity, focus, a reminder of the only truly important thing(s) in my life.  Joy. 
I so often and so easily lose my focus and misplace my joy.  We, as Christians, are called to live a life of joy.  Joy is separate from happiness.  Joy is independent of circumstances; it is based on the salvation gift of our Lord.  But sometimes in our, or at least my overrun life I lose my focus and forget to carry my Joy with me.
I found my treasure.  I found my joy.

I'm linking this post to A Holy Experience.  Please check out this and other posts here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Prepper's Pantry

When I was a child, my father (single parent to five kids) kept an incredibly well stocked pantry.  It wasn't a "plan for a big emergency" pantry.  It was the way people used to manage groceries.  Keep more on hand than you need in case.  In case of what didn't really matter.  It wasn't all about gloom and doom.  It was comforting.  It was normal.  You always knew you had food, and what you had.  As a kid, I always knew we didn't have a lot of money, but it never, ever felt like we didn't have enough food.  I am amazed now looking back at how my dad managed it, but he did.

After I got married, I never managed to keep on hand what we needed.  Part of that was the newlywed phase of "I don't really know what we are going to be eating every day" thing.  But after 15 year, I don't think you can claim newlywed anything.  So I, or rather we, decided that I needed to do a better job of buying a little extra (despite my cheapness, as mentioned in previous posts).  I began the simple task of buying one or two more of long term storage items than I need and one extra on perishables if it would last until it was used (I have had a bad habit of running out of creamer 2 days before grocery day).  Little by little I began to get a better stock of items.

I began to see why my dad did this.  Just in case finally made sense.  Just in case their is a flood and you can't get out (happens quite a lot around here).  Just in case the van breaks down and I can't run to town tomorrow.  Just in case money is a little short next week.  Just in case my husband looses his job.  Man, there are a lot of cases to be preparing for!

After a while, my pantry (such a blessing to have a 10x4 walk in pantry) was unmanageable.  I couldn't find anything.  Now, this is not do solely, or even largely, to my preparedness (or "prepping").  This was due to my lack of ability to organize, tidy or clean anything.  But, even at that, when my pantry was clean it still seemed over stuffed.  After all, not only does it house food, but the occasional tool and/or ammo related item does tend to find residence there. 

When a good friend announced that the retail store at which he works is going out of business and selling fixtures, our collective lightbulbs came on!  Metal shelving from a store would make a great way to add storage!  Brilliant!  Cheap, movable, cheap, sturdy, cheap, and did I mention cheap?

Well, as projects do around here, this one became not so much a weekend revamp as a month long (not so cheap) remodel.  I don't think I will record here all the details as to what all ended up happening and changing.
These before pictures actually look quite decent.  They are ones I took on the rare occasion that it was clean.  I actually took these long before I began prepping.  They don't look too overrun yet.
Notice the hideous shag orange and nasty colored carpet.  My one request in the ever evolving plan was that the nasty carpet disappear.  As you can see we had shelves down both walls, but they were narrow and spaced such that there was a lot of gap where I could have had more shelves with food rather than empty wall space. 

We left the wall on the right empty and placed double the number of (deeper) shelves along the wall on the left.  We then added shelves along the back wall.  In this picture you can see that we had run out of the size used on the back and still  need to add the extra.  Even with removing the shelving from one side, we were able to increase the storage quite a bit with the addition of wider, more closely mounted shelves.  The bottom shelves were spaced high enough to allow 5 gallon bucket storage for long term food storage.

The hideous carpet is gone, with plans for tile when the funds are available.  The empty wall now has a place to store the step stool, a hanging rack (out of view) for brooms and mops and room for the vacuum.  The far back corner will eventually have a custom built shelf for the ammo that is stacked there. 

We also greatly increased the light by adding a long florescent light instead of a small incandescent bulb.  The light had been on the same switch as the hallway light, which gets left on most of the day.  My husband put the light on its own switch and installed a motion detector switch that turns off after 5 minutes so the pantry light won't be left on unknown all day!

There is a lot of information out there on prepping, disaster preparedness, long term food storage.  I am sharing this as encouragement.  Whatever your "just in case" may be, there are easy ways to begin your prepping journey.  It doesn't have to consume your life.  It may take some adjustments, such as my added pantry shelving, but it doesn't have to look like the shows you see with rooms and rooms of stores.  Start where you are, make adjustments as you go.  Begin small and add as you can.  Determine your needs and what "cases" you are planning for and start.  It will get less scary and easier as you go!

 Please check out other great blogs at the Welcome Home Link-Up.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saving Money With Convenience Foods

I previously posted my cheap laundry detergent recipe here.  I explain in that post that I am extremely cheap.  Toward that end, I want to share another money saving tip that goes against what most people will tell you: Convenience Food. 

What!?!  I know.  When reading "101 Ways to Save Money", they always tell you to avoid pre-made, prepackaged food.  And I agree.  Mostly. 

When we were early married, I would try to save money by not buying ice cream at the grocery store.  Have you seen how much that stuff costs?  But, as I mentioned before in a previous post, I LOVE ice cream.  It is my happy food.  So, when the craving overtook me (usually at least once a week), I'd go to the local ice cream shop, too conveniently located, and buy their (expensive) ice cream.  Usually I'd have to take the kids or hubby.  This trip would cost me at least $10.  At least once a week.  So I'd spend at least $20 on ice cream saving in order to save $6 at the grocery store.  This is NOT saving.  I eventually learned to just but the ice cream.

Fast forward half a dozen years and an equal number of kids.  In an effort to save money, I have tried to get as "basic" as my limited culinary and organizational skills will allow.  I've tried making homemade bread for sandwiches (which we loved to eat, but really didn't work for sandwiches for us). 

I have gotten to the point where I can't stand to buy box dinner mixes because I know that even though they may only cost $2, I could make it for $1.  So I quit buying most convenience foods. 

Then I noticed that we run such a busy, hectic life, that we were grabbing a bite to eat out, or getting a quick fast food snack, more and more often.  It was too hard to get home for lunch after church (we can't get home until 2) so we would eat out.  We'd have a 4-H meeting and have to leave as soon as daddy got home, so we'd grab a bite after, because I was hungry.  I am very unpleasant when I'm hungry. (Very unpleasant)

Then it hit me.  This was the ice cream issue all over again.  I realized my need to start buying some very quick preparation food items, such as those detested box dinners (not detested for taste, just price).  A $2 box dinner is much cheaper than the $25 (or more) it costs to feed my family fast food.

I realized that if I splurge on some fresh fruit for after church on Wednesdays, I won't have to grab a snack after when the kids are starving and it's too late to fix a snack after we get home.  If I buy the good deli meat, we don't mind a picnic lunch after church because it isn't peanut butter. 

So, my official advice for busy families with a tight budget, splurge on some food items that can be prepared quickly.  Take one or two "fast food" meals worth of money and buy some nicer convenience food that will free you.  If you are like me, no matter how often you tell yourself that you can fix and freeze some of your own "convenience foods", you never seem to get around to it.  If you continue to find yourself eating out due to schedules, realize that you aren't going to get around to it at this point in your life, release your guilt, splurge on a few quick meals to keep in your pantry and enjoy!

Holiday World 2011!

Holiday World 2011!

Baby # 6

Baby # 6
Welcome to the world and welcome to our crazy family!

Fort Benning

Fort Benning
We finally made it to Georgia!!!

Just a day at the park!

Just a day at the park!

My Hero!

My Hero!
I don't do dead things. Fortunately for me, God gave me boys!

Much awaited 2009 PJs from Daddy!

Much awaited 2009 PJs from Daddy!
Daddy and Grandma make Jammies every year for the kids, They love it!

Christmas in PJs

Christmas in PJs
Don't I just have the cutest kids?

2010 Jammies

2010 Jammies
Once again Daddy pulled it off. They look cute!

Round 2 birthday parties

Round 2 birthday parties
Cake number 1 of 3 done. I am so not an artist, but I think it came out pretty well!

My Girls

My Girls
Borrowed dance clothes, my girls sure look cute.

Couped up

Couped up
More images below showing the children feeling a bit "couped up" from the long winter!

Chickens: Take 2

Chickens: Take 2
Cute chicks!

The robot cake. I am glad my kids' standards aren't as high as mine!

Tree Climbers

Tree Climbers

Summer Fun!

Summer Fun!
Hi Daddy! Hope you are having fun at work!

This one is so bad, I had to label the cake so you would know it's not a cow!

Dressed for Church!

Dressed for Church!
Come as your favorite Bible character night!

Too cute for words!

If the boy wasn't so tall, I could get a picture of his face!

Establishing the pecking order!