Sunday, June 13, 2010

My friends' lives and CVS trip

Life is happening all over the place lately.  I have been getting the feeling lately that I should be thinking about some friends and their life happenings.   I can only attribute it to my journey through Psalms, but it has been weighing on my heart.  I have a list of friends and family  that I pray for and then a list of things that pop up.  But lately the things that have been popping up all over the place.  Names will remain anonymous.  This may seem a little poetic rather than factual but it is just a few thoughts about some people that are somehow close to my heart.

I have been toiling through these ideas about my friends and family (and friends of friends and family).  The sadness and loss for one.  How broken and life altering events can happen and someone can handle it with grace, strength and positivity that in my wildest imagination I couldn't have.  A few are always wondering why things go up and down and why do things keep happening to them?  Perhaps a loss of spirituality?  Perhaps a loss of faith?  The feelings of depression mixed with the speed of life and things occurring at break neck speed without feeling like they are a part of it or their loved ones lives.  Another who feels unlovable.  Possible acting out with destructive behavior.  Not wanting to connect with people on a deeper level.  Has been hurt so bad and damaged so much and cannot seem to return to a life of true, honest love.  Who has the ability to love beyond a capacity for most but will not allow it to happen.  Another who's life is on the mend and because of endurance, strength, love and will, is actually getting somewhere,  Not giving in.  Not letting others make the rules.  Still others who are working so hard and putting everything they have into their true passions and reaping the joy of life's reciprocating response.  The emotions involved when you put your value and your worth on amazing things and on fruitless things.  Seeing life come to fruition and seeing it plateau and never change.  The phases my loved ones go in and out of.  The desire for change but the lack of desire to do anything about it.

I can turn all of that onto myself.  I can say I have experienced most of this.  I can also say I have not experienced some of it.  But regardless, I think about these people and what is going on for them with a heavy heart for some and a joyous heart for the others.  I don't know if any of that made sense but these nameless people above are real.  They have somehow affected my life and I am praying for them.  I am thinking and in some cases crying for them.  It has been a bit of an emotional week.

However, my emotions cannot stop me from shopping with my couponing, frugal passion.  I went to CVS yesterday and bought 2 bottles of Windex, 2 Glade scented oil refills, Pantene shampoo and conditioner, John Freida shampoo and conditioner, a hallmark card, 2 Old Spice body washes, and 2 Gillette body washes.  I handed them a bunch of coupons and $4, they handed me my stuff and $3 in extra care bucks.  PLUS I will be getting $5 in the mail from SC Johnson for buying 3 of their products.  Now, this is an example of what I mean when I try to tell people that just because they eat organic or they can't find coupons for the foods they eat, this is something ALL of us use.  It is worth the 30 minutes. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Psalms and life without printer ink...

In this blog...
Life without printer ink

I had begun reading Psalms on my quest to my way through the bible cover to cover.  I had gotten halfway through and found a study that interested me.  I was looking to better understand the history of Psalms.  This book was a bit of a mystery and I stumbled upon this site.  I am currently going through the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.  Last month we covered the discipline of study so in a concerted effort to apply what I am learning, I wanted to delve deeper when I reached my mysterious book of Psalms.  I began the book over, this time using the study as a secondary resource.  It has taken on a whole new meaning.  I knew there was a Psalm for just about everything you can think of to pray about.  In fact, when studying the discipline of meditation, it was suggested to pick scripture to meditate on and Psalms was my first choice.  I have truly enjoyed, thus far, seeing a behind the scenes look into not just the book, but the authors of each chapter, where they were in their lives when they were writing, who they were directing to...and the like.  I was particularly taken with the Truly Happy Man and the Mark of a True Worshiper.  These Psalms can truly show your weaknesses and strengths.  God's desires are plain and clear.  We just need to be open and willing to accept them.  We are going to be studying confession in Celebration of Discipline and I look forward to comparing that to Psalm 32, the Blessedness of Confessing Sin. 

Life without printer ink 
My printer ran out of ink when I was trying to print out my book.  This is bad in that ink is very, very pricey and I cannot print out coupons without ink.  I was going to be smart and get my ink refilled at Walgreens for about $12, which I have done in the past.  Not this time, however.  My ink cartridge woulsd not work in their either of the two stores they sent me to.  I truly felt the value of my time when I realized how long I wasted driving and waiting for ink that couldn't be filled.  One store thought it was their machine and sent me to another store who also couldn't fill it.  Thankfully, while waiting, I was utilizing my time wisely by accomplishing things that needed to be done, but the driving part and even the ten extra minutes of waiting really got to me!  That is when you know your time is valuable!  Needless to say, I may have to break down and buy new ink.  Research on cheap ink is on my horizon!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What does it mean to be frugal?

Frugal if a lifestyle choice.  Plain.  Simple. 

There is a vast majority of things that are encompassed in being frugal.  I believe frugal means something different to everyone.  Here is a picture of what frugal looks like to me.  Let me preface with, I am no Picasso, but I can verbally paint a decent image.

First of all, I am not a stay at home mom.  I am a home manager.  I manage an entire household.  This means everything I do that saves us money, earns us money.  Therefore, we do not eat out very often.  In most cases, we eat out when we have a gift card.  Sometimes we eat Chick-Fil-A, though the cost of that is sometimes the equivalent of eating at Chili's, I tell you!  In fact, when we plan our budget, we do not even put in eating out, just yet.  I cook dinner every night with plans for left overs for Mike to take to work and the girls and I to eat.  We do not buy clothes.  Though my husband gave me $75 for Mother's Day for which I went to every thrift store in town and got enough clothes to last me the rest of the year...or, well, you know!  A lot.  I plan grocery shopping trips like most people plan a vacation.  I deal match everything and use coupons upon coupons to make sure I am getting the best prices.  This often means planning my meals around what is on sale.  I try not to shop at multiple store if I can avoid it though it happens and I appreciate when I am saving that much!  I look at that time and effort as income.  I do a lot of reading of blogs where people do similar things so I can get meal and shopping ideas as well as just good tips for my house management.  We watch movies from Blockbuster online.  We play in our pool and our backyard for fun.  We do not get babysitters.  Thankfully, we have gracious family and friends who will take our girls when we need it!  We combine trips out to save on gas which means having some fore thought when leaving the house.  We rarely do things without discussing it first.  Any purchase is researched and double checked and researched again.  Mike bargains and barters.  A LOT.  With bills, with purchases, even with the guys who take care of our cars.  When you shop locally and with family or privately owned places, you can do this type of thing.  Not to mention, you keep locals in business.  We grow veggies and raise chickens for eggs.  We did not cut out cable but we did cut it to a minimum.  We did not cut out cell phones, but we cut them to a minimum.  We still have 2 cars because Mike commutes and hour to work and works 7 days a week.  Hence my next fact.  Mike works 2 jobs.  I stay home to home school our 6 year old and keep our 1 year old out of day care.  We are careful with electricity and water, but not obsessive.  We reuse paper in the printer.  We fill the sink before washing a large load of dishes.  We make sure the washer and dishwasher are all the way loaded before turning them on.  Thoughtful things that we have learned over time to save lots of pennies that turn into dollars.

These are a few things that we do, but I am sure when I really think about it, parts have become second nature and I don't think of them as frugal anymore.  Like I previously mentioned, it becomes a lifestyle.

Now the questions come...why????  Why do we do this?  We have 2 girls.  We live in an unstable economy.  We live on 1 income.  We like our home.  We want to keep our home.  But the most important reasons came from our good friend Dave Ramsey.  Well, we like to think of him that way, though he has no idea who we are.  His motto is "If you will live like no one else, then later, you can live like no one else."  We don't want to find out when we are 60 that there is no Social Security and the little savings we had put away didn't earn enough interest.  We want to save with intention and purpose and that purpose is we want to depend on ourselves.  We are on a long journey of saving and living a different lifestyle than those around us.  Mike gets teased on a regular basis for not going out with the guys after work and just going home.  I like to think its cause he thinks his wife is cool!  I don't have all the newest clothes and coolest shoes.  We only go to the movies when we can get in free.  I bring our snack by the way!!  Our living room stays unpainted and our kitchen utensils are old.  But everything still works and we want for NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!  We are blessed beyond our deserving and are grateful everyday that Mike comes home and still has a job.  The best part is, we plan to live like we are grateful until we die.

'Nough said?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Home schooling, frugal momma came from somewhere...

Let start off by saying this blog will show you my fiery side...proceed with caution!

I am finding lately that we are a minority.  I don't mean our ethnicity, I just mean our lifestyle choices.  It is a fact I have always known, but have come head to head with quite frequently recently.

First of all we are Christian.  A lot of our friends are not.  Some are but do not practice.  Other are even atheist or something close to it.  Some are just in a limbo of sorts.  We love them no matter how different our beliefs are.

Next, we are choosing to live a traditional lifestyle where I stay home and raise the kids, take care of the home and even home school.  This is the area we meet the most debate in.  I have truly felt a lack of respect as an individual as of late.  In fact, one person went so far as to say, "You're just a stay at home mom."  Others believe I have a schedule I can just drop whenever they need me to help them.  Some wonder if I do anything all day.  "Man, I wish I could just stay home all day and play."  Yes, cause that is exactly what I do.    If you don't know me very well, let me tell you that I am 33 with a husband and 2 children ages 6 and 1.  It is harder to stand up for what we chose than it is to take the responsibility of caring for my house and my family.  Most times I can stand firm.  But there are a few occasions where I truly wish I had a "real" job so I could gain respect as a human being!!  How sad is that?  

I came from somewhere, you know.  I went to college and became a teacher.  I taught for several years before taking what was my college job as an aerial acrobat and turning it into a career change.  I got into stunts and performing live at Disney as Jane in the Tarzan Rocks show.  I loved what I did.  I got to work on some film and tv and travel a bit.  I even got paid a good amount of money!  It was my job before and after having kids and I could still do it today if I wanted, but my choice right now is to raise my kids.  I have written some children's books that were once published, though not anymore, and have completed a novel.  That life is a has-been life.  A life I was proud of, but it is not me now.  Now my husband and I defend ourselves to everyone.  And I mean everyone.  I am just now getting back to writing thanks to my blog.  It has sparked me a little, but in order to fit it into my schedule, I have had to cut out working out for a while.  Otherwise there is not time for school, planning and children.  It is scheduled in.

It is my desire that anyone who questions the lifestyle of a stay at home mom or dad or a home school parent, at the very least, observes them for a while.  Take a few steps in their shoes before you assume they are playing coloring and finger painting all day and are around to be at everyone else's disposal.  Understand that it takes strength and endurance like I never knew even as an acrobat.  It takes patience and kindness while being able to discipline and manage.  I quite literally manage our household!

We take hits on a regular basis for living a little more frugally than most people we know.  We have been doing this for a few years and are seeing the reward now.  When I tell someone I shop at several stores so I can keep my groceries down they tell me they don't have time.  That must mean I have lots of it right?  No, it is just my choice to make THAT part of my JOB.  We also choose not to eat out.  That is why I cook EVERY night and make sure we have left overs.  I plan our meals with schedules in mind.  Remember that schedule I mentioned?  Yes.  I have a schedule. It probably doesn't look like yours but that doesn't make it easy.  We also drive frugally.  We combine trips and when we leave the house we route exactly where we are going so we do not have to do any unnecessary driving.  I am a deal seeker.  We choose to live like this so later in our lives we can do as we please.

I was somebody pretty cool.  I loved telling people what I used to do.  So why now, does it feel like something I need to defend when the outcome of what I am doing will be so much greater than anything I ever did in my past?  Why is going against our culture for our family so difficult for others to accept?  Are we hurting anyone?

I just thought I'd ask.