Wednesday, April 30, 2008

.31 cents

the other night was .31 cents night at baskin robbins.  the proceeds benefit the fallen firefighters fund begun after 9/11.  marcus called me from work to tell me, so liv and i jumped in the car while the boys stayed here with sleeping audrey.  you should have seen the line!  first of all, the scoops were the tiny kids scoops, but its not often that we pay 1.32 for four ice cream scoops regardless of the size.  so, after 20 minutes in line (not bad considering how it looked) and a rocky road, chocolate peanut butter, peppermint pattie and mint chocolate chip scoop were placed in their cups, we headed back home.

this was the same day that I picked up a new book from the library called the tightwad gazette.  basically, it's a manual on how to save loads of money from groceries to utilities to clothing.  i absolutely love this book.  and its sparked a fire under my butt to be way more accountable about how we're using these resources we've been entrusted with.  

i've always been pretty practical about "stuff".  well, except when i look back in my check register from college (yes, i kept it for posterity's sake) and see that i got my nails done every two weeks religiously and spent all my earnings at the gap.  that was my one impractical phase, quickly fading away into the reality of being newly married and a parent.  then came the years where marcus and i cummulatively made $16,000 a year, lived in a one bedroom apartment (the three of us) and ate lots of pasta.  only to be beat out by the monmouth years, when we lived 3 hours from family in section 8 housing (didn't know that at the time), had one car and hand-me-down his and hers peach lazy boys in our living room, next to the 70's plaid sofa that came out of my mom's friend at work's basement.  one time, my mom and sister drove 3 hours there and three hours home to buy us groceries when we had .83 cents in our checking account after payday.  i bounced a couple of checks while in monmouth, but janet from the bank, who knew us and fell in love with sam filling his pockets with suckers everytime we saw her, covered our checks with her own money.  she knew we were good for it.  i'll never forget her and how absolutely selfless that was.

when i look back at those times, it makes me thankful those times are behind us and thankful we had those lean times.  buying a votive candle at jack's (like target in monmouth) was a treat.  not that things are that drastically different now.  i still have to budget and cringe when there's no overtime on marcus' check.  but i know there are areas that we can improve in.  part of the challenge of this book, is to keep track of every single cent you spend for three months.  everything!  in order to really cut back in the areas you need to, which might not be that obvious upon first glance.

we may never have tons of money (although we haven't tapped into my earning potential yet!)  but i honestly do not care.  when the kids are bigger and don't need me as much, i'll head out to do something i love and get paid for it.  what that is is yet to be determined.  but it doesn't even have to pay much.  what i've learned is to live within your means and how good it feels to not stretch to be something you're not.  that stretching takes an awful lot of energy.  do what you love and there's a season for everything.  someday i'll have a wardrobe with something other than t-shirts and jeans.  then again, i probably wouldn't buy anything else anyhow.

i think our kids are fairly content.  they'd love a video game system (i confiscated the ps2 several years ago) but i don't think they feel deprived.  i have two kids whose secondary love language is "gifts".  (if you haven't read the love language book, i highly recommend it.)  when i've said "no" too many times to those kids, it shows.  so, when that happens they get a resounding "yes".  the other day olivia and i were in big lots and i let her get a 1.10 lip gloss.  she was thrilled and has had a hot pink lower face for days.  (by the way, i got two lace valances for the girls room for 2.50 each!)

so, i'm on the war path of fighting full price, making good decisions, asking myself what we really need and spending it where it matters.  i bought a huge, and i mean huge, container of oatmeal the other day for just over 3.00 instead of the incredibly expensive instant packets.  i bought 8 loaves of wheat sandwich bread that were on sale for 1.00 each .  i have made the switch to the dreaded "generic" not just sometimes, but all the time now.  okay, with the exception of hellman's mayonnaise.  there are just some things i won't give up.  i bought an enormous box of tea bags (no more coffee for me) and am set for a summer of sun tea!

we just got back from the mall, where my frugality was challenged big time.  but actually, the more i walked around, the more i sensed how ridiculous it all is.  do we appreciate how incredibly blessed we are to have malls with all these resources in them?  the food courts, the 12 shoes stores in a row, the myriad of perfumes to pick from.  i was kind of sickened by it all.  do i love a pretty atmosphere and nice things?  god created a love of appreciating beauty in us all.  it just has to be tempered by moderation and common sense.  i think of children who don't have any shoes, and then try to forget that i need a pair of black heeled sandals in addition to brown ones for a proper summer dressy wardrobe.

stores are having to limit the amount of certain types of rice we can purchase due to a food shortage in other areas of the world.  a food shortage.  as i look at the dinner table waiting to be cleaned with pizza crusts and half a leftover salad, i just have such a hard time with our perspective as consumers.  blessed but often times blind.  it's living in the tension of  being in the world but not of it.  the marketing and consumption and discontent of this world is getting so out of hand, the simple life is certainly becoming the more attractive alternative.  there's this guy, who lived a bunch of years ago, he wore sandals, ate unleavened bread and whittled wood who promoted this way of life as the only way.  almost like he was divinely inspired or something. 

Thursday, April 24, 2008


today i met an angel.  her name is krista and she's olivia's new friend.  i've been hearing about krista since january, but never got much more information about her.  one day, while olivia was talking about school, i asked which girl krista was.  there is a major boy shortage in her class, so pinpointing krista was going to be difficult.  olivia responded, "she's the girl in the wheelchair mommy.  she doesn't talk, because she can't, but i know what she's thinking."

i stopped making ham roll-ups, turned around and saw olivia totally sure of herself sitting at the table with a grin.  "how do you know what she's thinking?" i asked.  "i can tell by her eyes," she said.  tears welled up in my own eyes and i gave thanks right than and there for how insightful and authentic my 5 year old daughter is.  "i think i want to have krista over to play," she said.  "that's a great idea, liv."

i met krista today.  i was standing and talking with another mom outside, when krista rolled out into the sunshine in her purple wheelchair with her mom.  my eyes diverted straight to her and i'm not even sure what else the other mom said.  i excused myself after olivia said, "mom, there's krista!" and we walked over to her together.  

angels come in all shapes, sizes and colors but this one has long and silky golden blond hair and the most gorgeous blue eyes.  her mom (angel #2) was warm and sweet but had a toughness about her that was unmistakable.  this woman could and does handle anything and everything.  we stood and talked for a long while.  i found myself stroking krista's hair as i talked with her mom.  it didn't seem to bother the mom-almost like she was used to people being drawn to krista.  there is just something about her that makes you sense the very presence and extravagant grace of God.

we walked to our cars together and i asked if krista could come over to play.  her mom said if olivia could come there, that would be easier.  olivia is looking forward to it.  so am i.  a playdate with an angel.  i can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


okay.  so, i need to update this more often.  i've heard from several of you, who shall remain nameless, i get it, i get it. and i totally agree.  if i'm going to be a real "blogger", my posting history just isn't gonna cut it.  and, here in cyberspace, i solemnly swear that i will be better about posting.  this second trimester thing has me totally wiped out after getting the kids fed, bathed, homework done, kitchen cleaned (okay, not every night) and the living room picked up. not to mention, if jon and kate plus 8 is on, i'm on the couch glued to the tube.

so, by now there's a lot to catch up on.  i'll give the kidlet update first.  sam:  totally swamped with homework, obsessed with renovating his fort in the forest, enjoying youth group at church on thursdays, usually found surfing the internet shopping for an air soft gun he is attempting to earn with an a/b average, walking the neighbor's dog p.k.  ethan:  baseball, eating tons and getting taller, doing his homework before he's asked, playing basketball with matt down the street, chasing audrey and making her laugh, desperately wanting to go to the air force academy. olivia: riding her scooter or bike up and down the cul-de-sac,  spending time in her new room playing dollhouse, asking to help in the kitchen, doing her homework for fun, writing sticky notes with  "i love you's" to her daddy and placing them around the house, looking for bears.  audrey:  constantly looking for deer while on our walks, saying 100 new words a day i swear, playing with her baby doll who's always sleeping so we get "shh-ed" a lot, calling for "sisser" to play with her, gave up her pacifier without much ado, taking one long nap from two.

daddy update:  working lots but passionately enjoying every second, keeping quite busy down on the south end of town, sitting out on the deck and enjoying the scenery with a cup of coffee in the morning, earning the respect of his training officers and co-workers, taking his wife out on awesome dates that he even plans! usually twice a month (this needs to be weekly), completing his honey-do lists and more, painting like a pro, taking the kids and i 
hiking almost every weekend, laughing at his wife who thinks if we're in nature he should be packing heat (mountain lions).

mommy update: getting a big belly, feeling much better, trying to focus on finishing the upstairs decorati
ng before jumping into the main floor, working magic with a shoestring budget and totally determined to cut the grocery bill in half, baking more after learning how at 7200 feet, working on a book project with the ya ya's, using cloth shopping bags (i'm reverting to my tree-hugger ways out here), tr
ying to keep up with laundry (ha!), missing friends and family, looking forward to visiting there and visits here, happy knowing school is almost over, considering adopting a dog (not puppy) from the shelter.  yes, i go through this every time i'm pregnant.  it will pass.

so, life is busy but good.  spring has sprung in colorado.  it was 80 degrees here one day and then next it snowed 10 inches.  i guess we'll get used to it.  the snow melts in a matter of hours and when you walk outside all you can hear is running water.  the saying goes "if you don't like the weather in colorado, wait five minutes and it'll change."  kind of feels like life inside here.  i think we need the summer to regroup, look back at all the changes we've endured and enjoyed, reconsider what we need to start or stop                                               and just relax.

oh-our house does not have air conditioning.  and it was built in the early 90's!  so i've been told, we won't need it.  that the late evenings cool your house down, the mountain air gets in and does the job of a.c.  while i feel great about the positive effect on our budget and the environment, i'm a little nervous.  i'm from the suburbs of chicago where without a.c. people die!  the locals have also told me there's no mosquitoes.  have we found paradise?