Rainsing Selfless Children

What is it about kids these days that make people think they are not capable of not being greedy? While I, along with my two siblings, were quite the greedy children my children have surprised me with being the opposite. Yes, they do expect gifts for birthdays and such, only because we have accidentally trained them this way, but when they only get one or two they are forever thankful for it.

Although we don’t participate in the whole Santa thing, we usually overdo Christmas. We set out with a list of what to buy for which child and we end up coming back with much more stuff than we set out for. We buy goofy little toys for the baby too, which he inevitably throws aside so he can play with the boxes they came in. As it always turns out, we end up spending $100 or more for boxes because they toys that came in them were just needless decoration to our youngest. This has been the case with each of our 5 children during their babyhood.

A few months ago my husband and I got this crazy notion in our heads to forgo Christmas gifts this year to focus on Christ and our family or maybe we will find a needy family and focus on serving this year. We talked to the kids about it and let them know what to expect this upcoming holiday season. We told them that we might go rent a cabin somewhere for a couple of days and just hang out together and enjoy each other. Unsure of what response we thought we might receive we were quite surprised when the three oldest were completely in favor of this idea. The two youngest aren’t really old enough to understand any of it but Matthew (3) did get excited along with the others.
Explaining this decision to extended family got us very mixed reactions, none of which were favorable. Many of our relatives actually feel sorry for my kids. They are under the assumption that my older children, ages 6, 8, and 11, can’t understand fully what they are agreeing to and will wake up on Christmas morning to no gifts and feel the truth of what my husband and I did to them.
Is it really that hard to believe that kids can actually not be greedy? Our kids have everything they need plus an endless supply of things they don’t need. We have been blessed abundantly and our kids are some of the happiest children I have ever known. The idea of giving is more exciting to them than getting. I see this as I watch them give away their own stuff to visitors, adults and children. They don’t want anybody to leave our home empty handed. I honestly have no idea where they get this from but I want to keep it growing.
I love to give to my children. I want so badly to be able to run out to the toy stores and buy them every toy they ever wanted. More than that however, I want to give them a gift greater than anything we could ever purchase. I want to give them the gift of a giving heart. I don’t want to overshadow that with needless stuff that will clutter our home, minds, and hearts.

It is true that the less you have the less you want. I could never imagine wanting all the stuff I have now when we were first married. We had to scrounge around in the car for change to buy milk and bread. A couch was a dream of mine. Any decent couch would do, just something to put in my completely empty living room. After many years of marriage, a large wrap around couch, a lounge chair, and a rocking chair my desires changed a bit. A big screen TV was next on our list along with nice speakers, a new computer, and an X-Box. I would never have dreamed of these things during those newlywed years but not long ago they seemed very important all of the sudden. We just weren’t happy with what we had ~ we wanted MORE.
Now, with 5 children and one on the way and a house full of un-needed stuff we have decided that we are absolutely GREEDY! What are we teaching our children? Are we teaching them to be giving instead of greedy? Nope. We are teaching them that a 65″ TV isn’t a bad idea although there are families that could have used that money to keep from having to skip meals.

I am rambling but my point is that kids aren’t going to die because they don’t receive Christmas gifts. The truth is they might learn to live for a more joyous purpose.

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A Small House, PLEASE!

I want a smaller house. I told my husband this the other night and he looked at me as if I had gone mad. Right now we live in a decent sized 4 bedroom house with a living room, dining room, recreation room, large laundry room, and two bathrooms. We live here with our 5 kids plus the one due in May. Our house is 100 years old and has great bones. I wouldn’t call it beautiful but it is very nice and does the job of sheltering us perfectly.
I still want a smaller house. My idea of a good sized house is a master bedroom, a room for the boys, a room for the girls, a dining room (only so that we can seat our family together at meals) a living room (big enough for our couch, table, sewing machine and computer), a laundry room, and one or two bathrooms. A nice sized storage area would be helpful, too. My store inventory does need a place to live.

Yes, this does sound big but we have more than this now and every room is completely full of furniture. It all just feels like too much. I would really love to downsize, get rid of stuff, and live in closer quarters so I can be closer to my children all day, everyday.
My dear husband tells me to get used to it, that this is the smallest house we will have from now on. YECK!

Why is it lately that I feel the need to simplify everything? Smaller house, pre-made frozen meals (homemade), and reduction of junk. Maybe this is just part of my nesting this time around or maybe I am just wanting a simpler, cheaper, easier life.
I want so badly just to throw stuff away. I look at something out of place and my first thought is “toss it”. I cannot exactly do that – it would end up costing us more money in the long run, but I am just tired of having so much stuff with no where to put it all. I feel like a smaller house would force us to get rid of those things we really don’t need. It would cause us to have to re-evaluate our “need” standard.
My husband is in the Navy so we will be selling this house in just over a year and shortly after we will be moving across the country again. Maybe our next house will be the house of my dreams, maybe not. I am satisfied that God will put us where He wants us and I will be happy with it.
I am not really complaining, just having some feelings about our material surroundings. God has blessed our family with so much and I don’t want to clutter and suffocate that with stuff we don’t need.

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Those New Classics

Has this ever happened to you?
You are sitting with your family, young children and all, watching a new classic that you remember loving as a child, when suddenly you burst out making crazy noises drawing much confused attention to yourself. While doing this you are up searching for the remote, simply trying to turn the screen off, but you can’t do it fast enough so you continue screeching and dancing around like a crazy person until you can get to the TV’s power button.
Yes, I have done this. Many of you with children already know why.
It has come to my attention in the last year or so that not all movies I remember watching as a child are appropriate for my children. I also have learned that my memory is horrible as I don’t really recall much about these movies, only that I like them. My parents were somewhat sheltering so I have been completely surprised at what I was allowed to watch and even more surprised that my husband saw these flicks as a child as well.
I have come to the conclusion that my memory isn’t enough and I have to go back to screening everything that I haven’t seen in the last few years, that or perfect my attention diverting dance of lunacy.
And, just a tip here, “Short Circuit” and “Spaceballs”, both which I saw around age 11, are NOT appropriate for children, no matter how fond a memory you have of them.

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No More Television

I LOVE Frugal Fridays on Biblical Womanhood’s awesome blog. This one may not be popular. For years it wasn’t a popular idea in our family either. Over time, and with more children filling our house and better ideas of how we wanted to spend our days, the idea of no TV became much more ideal for us.

I wrote a blog on no TV a while back. It talked about our turning point when it came to television which had little, if nothing, to do with saving money. We have noticed since then how much money we actually save – and not just on cable alone! Let me explain.

Cable and satellite subscriptions aren’t cheap ($30 – $60 is average from what we have seen). You end up getting roped in to channels you didn’t know you had to have and when you miss a good show on a station that you don’t subscribe to you feel jipped.
Set aside the cost of the actual subscription. What about the commercials? You didn’t know you needed all that stuff to make your life more pleasant, did you? That special spatuala, that neat juicer that promises to make you 50 lbs lighter in 3 weeks, and the duster sent down from heaven itself so you could sit back and watch Opera while it cleans your house for you.
The truth is that the spatula broke the third time you used it, the juicer is covered with cobwebs on top of your refrigerator and the magic duster is in the babies toy box, collecting dust with all those other toys you saw on TV and just had to get him.

Turning off your TV can literally save you thousands a year.

If you are struggling with turning off your TV try this website. Trash Your TV can help you in your decision to cut those thick TV strings. They offer information and statistics to help you make the right choice for your family and tips to help families overcome TV’s addictive effects. Just give it a try!

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Online Co-ops are a good thing

Co-ops are groups of people who get together to buy bulk from manufacturers to get a discounted price. Sometimes the discount isn’t great but much of the time you can get great items for close to wholesale pricing!

I only belong to 2 coops right now but the more I look into them the more I think I might want to join a few more. The 2 groups I belong to are fabric coops and there are a bunch of great hard to find fabrics at great prices!
By looking up “coops” or “co-ops” on Yahoo Groups I found one for hot process soapmaking, candles, crafts, toiletry making, baby shoes, cloth diapers, Momufactured Co-ops, and even biodeisel! Those were only on the first three (out of 31) pages that came up!
If you do a lot of sewing or other needle crafts there are a ton of sewing and knitting supply groups.
I simply LOVE the idea of co-ops!
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Use Cloth

We use cloth diapers (Fuzzi Bunz, Rumpsters, and a few others thrown in here and there). These newer cloth diapers are so easy – no rinsing or soaking needed. Our first cloth diaper stash was over $200 but we made up that cost in just a few months of not having to buy disposables! Also, many modern cloth diapers have an excellent resale value and can be resold on eBay for just a small bit under what they cost new!
We also use cloth wipes in a wipes warmer with a really great wipes solution that I make here at home. I use cloth feminine pads (preggers now so I don’t need them). There are also other reusable feminine protection products if you don’t like pads. The keeper, I think, is one of them. You can find many different options if you Google “reusable feminine products”.

We use the same kind of baby cloth wipes as our swiffer refills. I mix water with whatever cheap cleaning formula we can get and we soak the wipes in a Gladware container until they are needed ~ very convenient!

When I need them I use cloth nursing pads, too. I have some by Mother Eve that are contoured to fit in a bra so they don’t bunch up and show funny shapes through my shirt. They are so much more comfortable than paper.

We have saved thousands of dollars by using cloth over the years. I am SO VERY lazy but the switch wasn’t tough like I thought it would be!

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A Sinful Past and a Beautiful Future

Every so often I get the feeling that I need to tell my story. I don’t know where the feeling comes from or who it is, if anybody, that may need to hear an encouraging story of somebody who made it out of the miry clay. Maybe it is for me, so I don’t forget. Maybe you have a similar story, or your child is going through something much like what I put myself through.
Either way, here it is in its abridged form.

My daughter, Kait, is 11. We had an amazing talk the other night (we always have amazing talks) and I was impressed, as always, at her ability to grasp and understand tough subjects. She has a heart for God and a love for Jesus. The talk we had was of our past, of where we have come from and how we got where we are now. Kait doesn’t remember, but I do. She and I were in it together and how close we are now is a reflection of the path she and I have shared, even though she has no recall of it. I have, over the years, given her the age appropriate details so that she can see the truth about sin, redemption, and God’s faithful promise of forgiveness.

Up until the weeks preceding my marriage to my dear husband my life was in disarray. I was 22 then and I already had a 2 year old child out of the sanctity of marriage, a very low paying job, absolutely no ambition, trouble to get into, parties to go to, an eviction and loss of almost everything (much of what didn’t belong to me), and many other things that my non-Christian life called for.
By the time Ryan and I married I was ready for a break from my sinful, painful past. Like Hosea, my husband swept me and my lovely 2 year old daughter away from our path to eternal death but unlike Hosea’s wife, I stuck around out of sheer desperation. Ryan was my rock. I felt no need for anything but the gift of him. It was only months before I followed my husband as he led me to Christ. A year later I was baptized. That is when I found true contentment.

My dear daughter will be 12 in January. She is a beautiful picture of a Christian girl. I feel I can honestly say that the sins of my past will not fall on her head and I give all thanks and glory to the Lord for her firm grasp of His word and her desire to live it everyday. Ryan loved her as a daughter from the get go and he adopted her when she was 3. All of her memories are of a completely united family. She knows the truth about our past (or as much as she can understand at her age) and although she is appalled at my behavior, she loves seeing how much God loves us and how he pulled her dear mother out of the depths of death even after such horrible sin. Kait sees what God’s grace has done for her. She understands that she was not the sin, it was my sin that got us in trouble; however, Kait knows that her life would be much different if it weren’t for God’s saving grace.

Changes are possible. Complete 180’s happen. If I can change anybody can.

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A Beautiful Story

I will warn you that the following story may not be suitable for all readers. I did my best to condense it and keep it as safe as possible, but the nature of these events may lead a child to ask questions you may not be ready to answer. Please review it before allowing young eyes to read it.

Last week I had the awesome privilege of hearing a dear young friend give her testimony at a Care Net fund raiser. Her motivation behind giving her tear jerking story was to help draw people closer to Christ, help motivate people to donate money to this wonderful Christian organization, to let others out there know that God can make beauty out of the most horrific events and circumstances, and that, yes, you do have a choice!

Her story is a tear jerker and I am sure my condensed account will not do it justice.

Shortly after graduating high school, my friend, who we will call Faith, left home to start a life on her own. A new Christian, she found herself easily drawn into a not so Christian crowd. She was having fun, making friends, and feeling free.
After an evening of watching movies with a new girl friend, Faith decided it wouldn’t hurt to crash on the couch of her new friend’s home. This small decision would forever change her life.

In the middle of the night she awoke to an intruder attacking her in the worst way, stealing her innocence, opening her eyes to true evil.
She ran away immediately and left all of the new friends she was making and the new life she was living. She never wanted to see them again.
Denial gripped her. She told nobody and pretended nothing happened. She turned away from Jesus, and struggled day by day to make the pain go away.
Months later Faith could deny it no longer because she was with child. She had to deal with what had happened and she had a choice to make.

In spite of all of the pain, the memories, and the knowledge that few would blame her if she decided to do the unthinkable, SHE CHOSE LIFE, and life did happen in a most glorious way.

I met her when she moved to our town to stay with a friend, have the baby, and bless another family with a child. In those months my family became dear friends with this amazing young lady. She did ultimately turn back to God and has gone through this whole process with such grace and a peace that only comes from Him. She has an unbelievable spirit and has touched and changed my and so many others lives during her ordeal.

During her trial Faith managed to turn her horror, with God’s hand, into something so beautiful and right. Her positive outlook has been a blessing to everybody around her and her selfless decision has warmed the hearts of countless people, even if she never realizes it.

She has gone back home now and lives hundreds of miles away. I miss her dearly. She had a beautiful baby who is now an amazing blessing to a once childless family.
Faith is a testimony to the true nature of God and His ultimate saving grace. She is and has given birth to living proof that God can and will make anything beautiful, no matter how ugly, if only we let Him.

I will never forget Faith for as long as I live. She has changed my life forever.

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Here It Is – Morning Sickness. and Other Ramblings.

Today was my first official day of having morning sickness. It wasn’t too bad. Light nausea has plagued me since the moment I woke up this morning but I was able to eat and that is good. I feel bad but I also feel good at the same time. Morning sickness has always been a relief for me. I usually know I am having a baby before that but when the morning sickness hits it becomes real to me and I feel like I can get excited about it. I know, I am weird.

Still looking for that Zucchini Soup recipe!
I know you have one – GIVE IT UP ALREADY!!!


Tomorrow is Friday! I love Friday because it is my nothing day. I have nothing to do, nothing on the schedule, and nowhere to go. I really enjoy Fridays!

Cute baby clipart provided by A Baby Resource

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all this junk

I have never been a very organized or tidy person. This has been a struggle for me for as long as I can remember. I was a saver of everything that *might* hold significance and that meant clutter and junk in every available space.

My mother was a saver. She found sentimental meaning in everything we touched as children. That is not bad, but it did teach me that it was completely normal to hold onto everything. Storage boxes filled with keepsakes filled every closet and corner. I remember, after marrying my born organized husband, hearing him me that my stuff was driving him crazy. Every time we moved (a lot – he is in the navy) we had to go through everything again, reorganize my many storage containers, and then he had to lug them and stack them in creative ways to make them all fit in whatever space we could find. The more my family grew the more I had to hold on to.

My saver mother decided to declutter – I can remember her starting this when I was still in high school but it didn’t really take hold until I was out of the house. She still couldn’t get rid of all those sentimental items so she gave them to me saying “this isn’t something you sell on eBay”.
I would bring these things home and my husband would say “no!”, we have too much stuff. Trying to give it back to my mother would be impossible so I just went out and purchased a rubbermade and added it to our every growing stack of storage containers.

A few years ago the Navy moved us from a 5 bedroom house in SC and gave my family of 6, plus one on the way, a 850 sq. ft., 3 bedroom house in RI. This house was SMALL and either we lived in it like a 2 bedroom or we got rid of my beloved stuff.

It took 2 full weeks of working about 5 or 6 hours everyday to go through all our stuff. I probably rid my family of more than 10 big boxes of junk, a closet full of old clothes, and more old books than I could count. I felt so guilty at first, sure I would need this or that, or I would end up regretting trashing my favorite something or other (see, I cannot even remember what I got rid of!) After a while it got easier and the more I trashed and gave away the lighter I began to feel.

So here we are now, 5 kids and one on the way and I have less junk than I did 5 years ago. I am still not very organized, and I struggle with a schedule and keeping my home in order, but I don’t have the junk to wade through that I used to have which makes training myself much easier.

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