It Worked For Me Wednesdays ~ Greeting Cards

The gal over at Rocks In My Dryer has this great little thing called Works-For-Me Wednesdays. I actually went hoping to gather some tips but I got a little excited and decided to add one to the mix.

One thing that works for me is having a greeting card stash. I have never been good at remembering anything and doing things last minute has become impossible with my five kids in tow.
So, I ended up purchasing a nice colorful card box from a neighbor kid doing a fund raiser. It has categories for all different kinds of cards and was ready to be filled. My problem was that greeting cards have gotten a bit pricey and to fill it was impossible without taking out a loan. Trying my best to make use of my pretty new card box, I walked down to our local Grandma Shop (a garage sale type thrift store). Sure enough they had a ton of un-used greeting cards for sale on their front counter at only $.10 each!

Now I have greeting cards available all the time and I actually use them! Notes of encouragement are my favorite to give and I try to keep blank on the inside and Christian themed cards in my box at all times to give to friends and family who are feeling down for one reason or another. I also love having thank you cards ready. When somebody does something nice, even if it is small, I can whip out a card and drop it in the mail right away!
Not only has it kept me from forgetting to say thank you but it has helped my kids to have a more thankful attitude towards others. They see me making the effort to get a card out and it raises its level of importance in their minds.

Greeting cards:
Good for my friends
Good for my family
Good for my kids
Good for me

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we answer why

It is excruciatingly pleasant to be the mother ship (as my dear husband calls me) of our 5 little DNA combinations. They are gifts, rewards, and completely adorable and we are praying for many more children before God chooses for us to be finished growing our family. Years ago we decided to give the child bearing part of our lives completely up to God. We put it in His hands to do with us what He wills. We knew He wouldn’t give us more than we could handle and we had faith that He only wanted out happiness so who better to control our child bearing years than our loving God?

But wait!
Our kids were coming too close together! We had vacations to plan, military moves to make, money to save or spend, and other more selfish wants. God wasn’t making this easy and we faulted in our original decision to leave this in God’s hands, if only for a short period of time.
We’ll admit that at times this has been hard for us. And when our youngest child, Ben, came much sooner than we had expected, we decided that after he was born we wouldn’t make the mistake of trusting God to work on our timing. I repeat that again, we wanted and somewhat expected God to work around our wants and needs and not to proceed with what He wanted for us. For many months we were quite selfish, and without admitting it outloud, after Ben was born we decided (more me than my husband) that God didn’t know what was best in this area of our lives and we took control of it into our own hands.
I don’t know what we were thinking because we look at Ben, now 18 months, and wonder why we ever thought he was bad timing. Had God asked us if we would like another baby so soon we would have told him “no thanks, we would like to wait a bit longer”. Watching Ben grow up has showed us how very wrong we were and how very right God was and how He knew our hearts so much better than we ever knew them ourselves. We had no idea what we wanted or needed. My husband and I are blessed so much more when we let God take control of our lives. Our cup is so full that it is spilling over and our children are soaking up the spill because they are so thirsty for what my husband and I have.

My point is we learned that when we feel a conviction from God to run with it. We have to let go of what it is we are holding on to. Whether it is watching TV or just a specific program or movie, hanging out with certain friends, accepting or leaving a job, letting God take control of our finances, having children, or anything else God is convicting us about, we have to just let it go and trust Him to know what is best for us. Sometimes it is hard and sometimes we stumble, however, by giving our heart to God and letting Him work in and for us there is a peace that surrounds us that is unexplainable. Our family notices it, our friends desire it, and we feel a contentment like never before.

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Adorable Feet

It is hard to continue feeling crappy and tired when you have this many toes to tickle.
This pic was taken today outside in our front yard – aren’t they cute? Okay, I know they are just feet, but still.
I just love being their mama!
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Out Of The Depths Of Death

As I was praying this morning for guidance about our struggling little web store and help with my stinky attitude when I am with child, I started to feel sad and alone again.
Then God led me to Psalm 86:13.
“for your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death!”

This verse almost brought me to tears, reminding me of what I have been through in my life, how close I was to eternal death all those years ago, and how God pulled me up out of the mirey clay and set my feet upon firm stone. He was with me then, in my darkest moments, when I was ignoring and denying Him; and He is with me now, teaching me, molding me, and guiding me.

I really needed to be reminded of His presence, His love, and His grace. Because, lately, I haven’t been hearing Him answer me. I have heard that many Christians, no matter how devout, go through the same thing every so often but that doesn’t make me feel any better.

I hold onto my faith that if I need something God would surely provide it, he always has. I remind myself that God is not ignoring me. Maybe he isn’t talking to me because I am not ready to hear what he has to say, or maybe he wants me to wait – His timing is, after all, perfect.

My lessons in patience are not my favorite but they are lessons I must learn. So, I will wait on Him.

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Labeled Christian Must Mean Safe?

ABC NEWS: “Facing the Giants” is about a down-and-out high school football coach who uses religion to fuel a personal and professional comeback.

The two evangelical pastors from Georgia who made the film on a shoestring budget thought they might get a PG rating because the hard football hits and frank talk about one character’s infertility. They say they were shocked when the motion picture association told them they got the PG rating because of the film’s religious content.

Read the entire story here

Okay, so this is old news, but not for me! I just ran across this story this morning.

This Christian movie, which I have never seen, earned itself a PG rating for its evangelical elements. Christians are outraged and are offended that the Bible and its message, long been looked at as standard for good, could be cause for a PG rating in a said G story.

I agree that it should have a PG label. I can say this without even seeing the movie. I will tell you why I feel this way.

We have 5 kids and one on the way and are Christian fundamentalists. We live on the Word of God, period. We do our best to raise our children in a manner pleasing to Him. It isn’t easy. The world sends mixed messages to them and I am in a constant battle to guard and keep them safe. To be successful at this I must be very careful and not let the words “Christian”, “religious”, or “evangelical” cause me to lower my guard. Actions should by more of a guide than a simple word or label.

Getting to my point – The PG rating lets me know that I MUST screen the movie first. Although “Facing The Giants” is probably a wonderful movie filled with Christian theme and evangelical discussion, I still feel the need to watch it first and make sure there aren’t any inconsistencies that could confuse my children during these impressionable years.

Many movies, books, and musical recordings have been labeled “Christian” or “Religious”. These are just labels and they do not mean “safe”. They should not and cannot replace good old Parental Guidance.

“Facing The Giants” official movie site

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dinner table games

My family has enjoyed the dinner table together for years. We didn’t realize how much fun the table could be, however, until we added a large world map covered by a plastic table cloth to the mix. My husband would start with “I am standing in a place that is _______, where am I?”. My kids would search high and low, discuss the clue among themselves then provide an answer, sometime wrong and more clues are given until they guess correctly. For some reason they can find mass amounts of humor in this, but that shouldn’t be surprising, my kidlets can find humor in a stick.

This little game has changed a bit and a number of new games have been invented since. Making up new dinner table games has become a game in itself. In my quest to find something new to try I found an actual dinner table game collection! I was so excited and since we purchase a new game for our homeschool every month I decided this would be September’s game buy and purchased it right away!

I am sure my kids will have loads of fun with this one!

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Blessed Mornings

I don’t know how my kids do it but they NEVER wake up in a bad mood. Cheerful is always the word for the day and joy fills our home.
I like to think that much of their happiness in the morning has to do with something I am doing right. I am probably not the entire reason but just maybe the fact that we aren’t rushing, trying to get hair done, breakfast eaten quickly, and school books found and ready. Searching for a lost shoe in the morning is quite stressful and running late makes people cranky causing the day off with a sour taste.

I do love my mornings; up around six to kiss hubby goodbye, jogging at 6:30, kids waking up around 7:30, easy breakfast, the telling of dreams (or short stories if dreams cannot be remembered), giggles and bed-head. What a blessing the morning is! My morning hours are better than any other and I look forward to them every day!

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We Are Having Another Baby!!!!


So, we are expecting again! Number 6 is baking and should be born somewhere around May 5th, making me about 5 weeks along. We are very excited! We are so very blessed!!!

I am not sick yet but the past two days have proven to be very tiring. Morning sickness usually strikes me at 6 or 7 weeks so I am only a week or so away from misery. It should only last about 8 or 9 weeks. I have known some women to be sick during their entire pregnancy even after delivery! I feel blessed to only have to deal with it for a few months – long months they are however.

I am continuing to jog for 15 minutes 4 or 5 mornings a week. Hopefully I can reduce my exaustion a bit by keeping up my excersize as much as I can. I know that when the morning sickness hits I won’t be able to jog as much but I am sure gonna try! It is just that I hate running. I really despise it and it takes everything I have to keep it up. Actually, I hate excersize all together, lol. I was a child athelete and I think I am just burned out on moving.

Either way, it has to be done. And it is only 15 minutes so I guess I can push through. It’s important to me to stay fit during my pregnancy – it helps the weight to melt off in only months after the baby is born.

I wonder if this baby is a girl or a boy. We have only one girl out of the 5, the rest are boys so I am betting this one will be a boy to, however, my husband never guesses wrong and says he is getting some girl vibes. I, on the other hand, have never been right.
If it is a girl we have had a name picked out for a while. We have used up every boy name we like so I don’t know what we will do if it is a boy, lol.

Who knows. I guess we will find out in about 8 months!

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Vacationing On A Budget

The $8 Vacation

We camp. We love this and the kids get so excited about going. We camp almost every weekend when it is warm enough as long as college and Navy duties don’t call upon my husband. We have gone about 10 times this summer. Most weekends we leave Friday right after an early lunch and come home Saturday night at dinner time.

One night away from home with the kids in a hotel would be around $130, sometimes more than this if we need two rooms, which we usually do. Even if we do manage to get a room large enough for our family of 7 we still need to eat. Eating out is expensive with as many mouths as we have to feed! Hotels are quite boring, you can only swim so much, and check out time is a bit early.
Camping, on the other hand, can be quite the inexpensive vacation, costing us about $8 a night with no checkout time. The $8 is for the camp spot. You could even get away without that camp fee if you are a wilderness camper, but we prefer to have bathrooms close for the kidlets. We bring food from home that we would have eaten anyway, making meals over the camp fire or on our small grill. We bring a half gallon of milk, a small bottle of juice and a 5 gallon container of water. All this is stuff we already have at home. No extra money needs to be spent on food. There are a ton of recipes that can be modified to be cooked in a tinfoil bowl pinched closed at the top. We also have a set of plastic camping dishes (you can find plastic dishes at any Good Will type store) – no need to purchase paper plates!

Yes, camping supplies can be a little costly but you can get a good deal for your money if you are patient and shop around. Our first tent was purchased at the end of camping season about 7 years ago. It was good size for our family of four and our dog and we were able to get it for 50% off because the camping season was coming to a close. Since our family has almost doubled in size since then we upgraded this year and gave our old tent, which is still in excellent condition, to some friends of ours who have since started camping with us too! Camping is a great multifamily vacation because almost everybody’s budget will allow it.
Can’t afford a tent? Just about every family has a tent that they almost never use. See if you can borrow one or purchase one from a friend or family member for cheap. Need a good camping stove? We found ours used on eBay for a steal. Simple swimming pool air mattresses are cheap and great for camping if you don’t want to shell out the money for for a camping mattress. Join your local Freecycle group and see if anybody has any camping stuff that they don’t use cluttering their garage. REMEMBER, you only need to make these purchases once! Taken care of, your camping gear can last many years!

Camping is such a good thing for children. My kids explore, find new bugs, ask questions, and stare in wonder at wildlife. They learn more in one overnight camping trip than they do all week homeschooling. They swim, laugh, dig, explore, and stay dirty the entire camping trip. As soon as we walk in the door after a camping trip they ask when we are going again.

If you are not much of an outdoorsy person I would still say give it a chance; Camping for your family, even if you don’t want to (or especially if you don’t want to) can bless your family in so many ways. It will create amazing memories that your kids will cherish forever! And you can create these wonderful memories on a very tight budget!

Just don’t forget your blankets!!!!

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Feeding A Crowd On A Budget

I get a lot of questions on how we manage to feed all 7 mouths in our family. Although my husband is in the Navy and we are taken care of, the program he is in doesn’t pay very well so we have had to get creative with our food budget.

With my family of 7, and one on the way, we had to draw the line at picky eating. We make a meal and that is what the family has ~ or nothing. I have learned over the years that kids will not starve themselves ~ one night on an empty stomach will not kill them but will teach them appreciation for the food on the table. I don’t make Joe(8) eat tomatoes or Kait(11) eat olives but if we are serving up Cabbage Patch Soup they all eat it even though 3 of them don’t care for it much. They prefer it to hunger, lol. All in all we try to stick to foods that the whole family enjoys. Spaghetti, Burrito’s, Chili, Grilled chicken, burgers and dogs, meatloaf.

Crock pots are worth their weight in gold!!!
Sometimes if you have a day of the week with a couple of hours to kill (I know, not likely) have the older children (maybe age 8 and up) help you cook up 3 or 4 meals for the week then freeze them. All you have to do is stick them in a crock pot in the morning and dinner is ready on time!
Here are some quick and easy ideas for feeding the larger family.

Two meals out of one roast!

Buy a big roast cut it in half and put each half in a ziploc with some chopped veggies, a couple bullion cubes and your favorite seasonings. Stick them in the fridge, or freeze them if it will be more than a few days until you use them. Then just whip one bag out in the morning, dump the contents into your crock pot, and add some water. Add a salad, pasta, or some bread and you have two dinners out of one roast with almost zero effort! This can also be done in the afternoon with an aluminum foil pocket on a cookie sheet.

Quick Chili – low fat, 11 g per serving!

In a ziploc (we love ziplocs) mix 1 1/2 lbs browned ground beef (adjust amount to your family size) 1 can tomato sauce, chopped peppers and onions (or onion powder), garlic powder, a can of corn, canned tomatoes, kidney beans, Chili powder, basil, and pepper. Fridge or freeze until ready to use. Dump it in your crock pot on low sometime in the morning. You can even have a corn bread mix ready to throw in the oven for the perfect chili mate!

Hamburger Stew – low fat, 10 g per serving!

One of our families favorites!

In a ziploc mix 1 1/2 lbs browned ground beef, chopped onion and peppers, 4 beef bullion cubes, a can of corn, one chopped tomato, a few cut up potatoes, chopped carrots, basil, tablespoon worcestershire sauce, and a bay leaf. Fridge or freeze until ready to use. Dump into a crock pot sometime in the morning, add at least 5 cups water and heat on low until dinner. Remove the bay leaf and add a salad or rice and dinner is served!

Chicken can be used instead of hamburger too! Crock pots are good for pork chops too!

Now, to make it cheap

  • Try not to buy brand name unless it is necessary (like mayo – cheap mayo is gross!).  Often, however, if you can match a coupon with a sale you can get the pricey stuff for very cheap or free!
  • Nobody needs bacon, eggs, sausage, and pancakes every morning for breakfast.
  • Keep pancakes made and frozen and biscuits ready for baking in the freezer too.
  • Cereal can be found for cheap if you look around at different grocery stores. We have a grocery store about 35 minutes from us that sells cereal for $1.60 a box – and the good for you stuff too! We just had to look around for the best deals!
  • Our area doesn’t have a food coop but many areas do. Ask around and see if you can join one.
  • Although canned veggies aren’t quite as good as fresh, they are cheaper much of the year and are easier to cook with making your family more likely to eat them.
  • Make a weekly food budget and stick with it! My daughter(11) has printed out a months worth of dinners and made a grocery list from that (5 dinners a week, the other two days are leftovers or sandwiches) . This way we only purchase what we need and everything gets used. We never waste money on food that doesn’t get eaten!
  • Eat dinner together as a family. I don’t know why this works but we seem to save money on food when we all sit down together to eat. Maybe it keeps us from snacking or picking, I don’t know. All I know is that eating together as a family has saved us money.
  • Stay away from the cookie and chips and soda isle!
  • Limit snacks to fresh fruit, flavored yogurt with grape nuts in it (my fav!) or crackers. Crackers can be separated into baggies ahead of time for the week so snacking doesn’t cost more than thought it would.
  • Learn how to say the word “NO”. It is not good for kids to get everything they want. Number one, they learn selfishness; Number two, they usually aren’t wise in the decision making area and will choose all foods bad for them. Have them pick one bad for them snack a month. That can be a tub of ice cream OR a box of snack cakes OR a bag of chips OR a 2 liter of soda. When it is gone, it is gone.
  • Food should not be free for all in your family. Permission to eat something should be necessary. If you kids are hungry they can have something but you choose what and you choose the portions. Let them have their say, give them a couple choices if you feel you must, but ultimately put yourself in charge of food (and ultimately money) consumption.
  • Rice and pasta are filling ~ add one of them to your meals as fillers.
  • Lastly, try to limit your meal planning and grocery shopping to only one day a week. This will keep you from getting burned out on what to do for meals. Set aside money just for groceries and do not exceed that budget. You will find creative ways to save. Make it a game – see how well your family can eat for $xx every week.

    This may seem hard to do at first but you will be surprised at how your efforts will bless your family – a less stressful mama, an appreciative dad, and healthier kids! After a few weeks you will love your this way of feeding your family and you will feel so good about what you are doing for them.

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