Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Feelin' Not-So-Frugal

We are Dave Ramsey fans, and thanks to him, paid off all of our debt several years ago. He does not condone using credit cards, and neither do we. But, we do use one as a gas card, and pay it off each month. This card gives you points for each dollar spent, and then you can redeem your points. We decided when we got it to use the points for clothing for the kids. Please note: I only recommend doing this (credit card) if you have had several years behind you of responsible budgeting, and if the one who is the "saver" in the family pays the bills! LOL! We have never carried a balance on this card, always paying it off each month. It has worked for us.

Anyway, my point is...we redeemed a whole lot of points and got $800 worth of Land's End gift cards. The reason I picked Land's End is because they carry little girl plus sizes. Princess is thick around her middle, and very picky of how tight clothing feels (she likes it loose - which I have to say, I am glad of!!). So Land's End is perfect for finding clothes for her. She is SO hard to buy for!!! And it's hard to find modest clothing today for little girls, you know? Land's End fits the bill there, too.

Well, last night I was placing an order for her clothing from Land's End for fall clothes and shoes. Let me tell was hard. It felt so foreign to me to be buying flare knit pants for $18.50! I felt sick. It was so weird paying $29.50 for a horse sweater, even though I know she will flip for it. But $29.50??? You have got to be kidding! I would not have been buying it if I was paying cash for it. I probably would have bought the pants, just because they are a basic necessity, and I am so weary of going all over trying to find pants that are not too tight around her waist and legs. I bought two knit dresses, which were $19.50 each. I didn't think that was too bad. She is really into horses right now, so I bought horse tights for $9.50. I think that was high. I bought Prince two pairs of Climber jean pants with elastic waist that I think were way too high. I only got them instead of regular jeans because they have double reinforced knees, and if you have a boy, then you KNOW why that is important! I bought them both tennis shoes for $29.50 each and church shoes for about the same.

It was just so weird spending that kind of money. I can't imagine having the money to do that every season. I usually buy yard sale, thrift store, or cheap things on sale at Target or Children's Place. Spending these gift cards just felt so...anti-frugal! And, by the way, I didn't spend all of them, but most of them. :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Step Out On Faith

My DH is a bivocational preacher. He preaches every week, alternating days and evenings with an older pastor at our church. Last Sunday evening, he preached a sermon that really spoke to me. I wish more people could have heard it. I'm gonna try and write what he was saying.

He recounted the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 men (and probably 10,000 women and children) with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. This is a very well-known act of Jesus from the Bible. But Preach got a meaning from it that I had never heard before. Maybe you have. But it really spoke volumes to me.

When Jesus and his disciples were faced with feeding the multitude of people, Jesus asked them how they were going to feed them. He didn't ask them because he really wanted to know; he asked them to test them. They were willing to send the people away. Andrew said "This boy has 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Let's see how far that goes", I imagine, in a slightly sarcastic way. So instead of having a little faith, they were willing to send at a minimum 15,000 people away, without having heard Jesus speak. But Jesus took the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and fed all of those people, and still had 12 baskets of leftovers after the meal.

That story is great as an example of another miracle of Jesus. But even better, is what else is symbolizes. When you read that story, do you put yourself in the disciples places? Would you have had little faith that Jesus could feed so many? Would you have rather sent them away, hungry not only physically but spiritually as well? Our first reaction is - NO! I would have had faith that Jesus could take care of it! Would you really?

How many times do we show how little faith we do have in Jesus' power? How many times does Jesus ask us to do something for Him, and we give excuse after excuse of why we can't do it?

Does this sound familiar?

"I can't teach Sunday School because I'm just not a teacher."
"I can't give my testimony at church because I'm not a good speaker."
"I can't go to church on Wednesday nights because I'm just too tired."
"I can't witness to my lost coworker because I'm afraid I'll mess it up."
"I can't present the Gospel to my neighbor because what if he asks me something that I don't know?"

All Jesus asks of us is to just give a little, and He will take care of the rest. He has the power! Believe in His power! Have faith that He will make it happen! Give a little, and He will do much. To me, that is what the story is teaching us. Maybe you're not a good speaker, but get up and start speaking, and have faith that Jesus will take care of the rest. Your words will affect someone.

Have faith that when you do or give something, that Jesus will take it and make it do much more. But you have to be willing to give a little first.

The boy in the story gave up his 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. And look what happened when it passed through Jesus' hands. A multitude of 15,000 people were fed physically, and then were able to be fed spiritually through Jesus' words. All because of a basketful of food.

Step out on faith. Jesus will take care of the rest.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"That IS our medium-well!"

Preach and I went out to eat for my birthday to Carabba's. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. Here's a run-down of what happened:

I order a big ol' steak. The only reason I get it is because right before we left, I discovered my fingernails are getting these indentions or dips in them. I look it up on the internet, gagging over all the gross fingernail pictures, and self-diagnose myself as anemic. So I order a steak to get some iron in my body.

The waiter asks how I want it cooked. I usually order well-done, but decide that since I am paying so much for it, I don't want to risk it being tough, so I order medium-well. The waiter says, "So you want it a line of pink in the middle with brown on the outside?" Sounds good to me.

We get our steaks. I cut into the outside, and see nothing BUT pink! It looks like it's raw from top to bottom. I guess I looked funny because a waitress runs over to me.

Waitress: "Is your steak cooked okay?"

Me: "Um, I don't know. I ordered medium-well. Is this medium-well?"

Waitress: "Yes, that's our medium-well."

Me: "Oh."

So I decide to try and eat it. But I decide to check the middle first. I cut into it, and ...there is BLOOD! I immediately gag, and say, "Ohmygosh.Ohmygosh. I-think-I'm-gonna-throw-up!" This apparently is heard by many, because someone who looks like a manager runs up to me, and asks if there is something wrong with my steak.

Me: "There is BLOOD in it!"

Manager: "How did you order it?"

Me: "Medium-Well"

Manager: "That IS our medium-well!"

Me: "I'm sorry, but I can't eat BLOOD!"

Manager: "We can cook it some more for you."

So I agree to let them cook it for me. He was giving me some attitude about it, like I was an idiot for not knowing that it was THEIR medium-well. But he did come back and say that it was more like medium.

I was so embarassed! He made me feel like an idiot. And unfortunately, we were sitting right beside of the kitchen. I could just feel all of the cooks just staring at me. Whatever happened to "the customer is always right"?? And shouldn't the manager have been a little more nicer to me considering that their restaurant was only 1/3 full?? I've heard that the restaurants are having a hard time during this "recession". So, wouldn't it stand to reason that they would be NICE to the customers when their steaks are not COOKED like they are supposed to be???

(sigh) I never want to go back there. So note to my friends: Don't ever invite me to go to Carabba's to eat!! LOL!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Curriculum Junkie? Oh, Yeah!

Curriculum.....the mere word sends butterflies into my tummy while giving me a jolt of excitement at the same time! Some good bumper stickers for me would be:

"My name is J., and I am a curriculum junkie"

"I brake for used curriculum sales!"

When I find cheap curriculum, I will buy it just to look at it and see what it's like, on the very off chance that I *might* want to use it!

I think I'm also a "method" junkie. I mean, you should see my bookshelf of homeschooling books. I have books on Classical education, Christian Classical education, Charlotte Mason method, Wholehearted Learning, Unit Studies, Relaxed Homeschooling. Since I have books on all these methods, I think I definitely qualify as an "Eclectic homeschooler". I lean toward certain methods, but I need books from all methods, because hey, who knows when I'm gonna wanna change? ;)

I say all of this in fun, but seriously, it is getting to be a problem. Every year, I spend all spring and summer agonizing over what curriculum to get. I finally choose at the last minute, and then we use it for maybe a couple of months, then I'm ready to change again! Part of this is just my personality. I'm the kind of person who would love to redecorate my bedroom every month, if I had the money. But I would *love* to find a curriculum, and just love it SO much, that I would just *know* that I was going to use that curriculum forever!! Like, I want to be known as a certain-curriculum-person. Like, a "Sonlight homeschooler". Or a "Tapestry of Grace user". Or a "HODie". I WANT A LABEL!

So I am going to be blogging a lot about what curriculums I'm considering. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Goals for Homeschooling - Part 2

Have you read my "Goals for Homeschooling" post? If not, take a look at it! This post might make a little more sense, if you do. LOL!

As you were reading my Goals for Homeschooling, did you notice one missing? One that a lot of parents will/would probably put on their lists? Yep, you guessed it! I did NOT put on my list "I want my children to excell academically" or "I want my children to be the best in Math, Science, etc" or "I want my children to place in the top 5 percent of achievement tests". And you didn't see "I want my children to go to the most prestigious college". No, you won't see any of those goals on my list. Why not?

Well, first of all, it's not because my husband and I aren't smart, college-educated people. I did very well in school. I went for about 5 years to college (didn't finish to get my degree, just wanted to be a mommy - long story, tell ya later). My DH got is degree in Computer Information Systems, and made very high grades. Anyway, not trying to brag here, I'm just trying to show you that we do value college educations and getting good grades.

But we value a good, solid relationship with God more.

More important than any academics is knowlege and understanding of the Bible and God's truths. What we want for our children more than anything is for them to grow up to be loving, caring Christians who put God first before their jobs/careers.

When we get to Heaven, God isn't going to ask us how much money we made or how many rungs on the career ladder we climbed. He's going to ask us how many people at work we witnessed to and how many people we led to Christ.

I don't know if I've done a very good job at explaining this. Hopefully you get the main idea of it. God first - academics second. :)

Goals for Homeschooling

I think that it is very important to sit down with your DH and figure out your goals for homeschooling. I believe this is one of the most important things you can do in your homeschooling journey. And you should always feel free to change or adjust your goals during your journey.

I was inspired to write down my homeschooling goals when I was reading two books: Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Sally Clarkson and Heart of Wisdom by Robin Sampson. These are both excellent books that I highly recommend! I wrote down what I felt our goals should be, then DH and I sat down while out to eat one night and went over them. He agreed with all of the goals I had written down.

Here are the goals we came up with:

I want my children to:

1) ....Love God with all of their hearts and to live for Him.
2) ....See God in all that we study.
3) ....To have a happy childhood.
4) ....To have a loving family.
5) ....Be self-learners.

Okay, here are the explanations for each goal:

1) I want my children to love God with all of their hearts and to live for Him.
To study and know God's Word to gain wisdom.
To shape our children's hearts to love God.
Monitor what goes into our children's hearts, not just punish/reward what comes out.

2) I want my children to see God in all that we study.
Make sure any History, Science, Fine Arts, etc has God intertwined.

3) I want my children to have a happy childhood.
Create happy memories for our children.

4) I want my children to have a loving family.
Main focus is on child's bond with us (parents) and sibling.

5) I want my children to be self-learners.
To posess a heartfelt desire and passion to always want to learn and read.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Garage Sale Finds

I've been meaning to do this all week....I thought I'd share what I found while going to yard sales last weekend. It was a very fruitful couple of hours!

New Photo Coasters - $2
2 Pairs of white window sheers - $2
11 mini-clipboards - .25 cents each (to alter and stamp)
Caddie Woodlawn book - .50 Cents
Betsy-Tacy Book - .25 cents
If You Lived 100 Years Ago book - .50 cents
New 2-pack White ledges - $2
New 2 hanging vases - $2
Beautiful flower arrangement in heavy vasy - $3

For My Son:
Class Club Polo - $1
Polo long-sleeve polo - $2
Polo long-sleeve button-up shirt - $2
Kitestrings long-sleeve polo - $2
Slingshot - .50 cents

For My Daughter:
Book with piano keys on bottom - FREE
Horse Wallies (the BIG ones!) - FREE!

VHS Videos -
A Christmas Carol - .25 cents
Tarzan and Jane - .50 cents
Honey I Shrunk the Kids - $1
Honey We Shrunk Ourselves - $1
Jingle All the Way - $1
Dumbo - $1
Fly Away Home - $1

Whew! How did I do?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Ground Turkey - Friend or Foe?

Have you ever tried ground turkey? I decided to take the plunge, when I saw how much cheaper it was than ground beef. I've always heard that you can't tell the difference. So I decided to find out.

I bought some ground turkey at Aldi's. I *think* it was one pound for $2.49. This was the regular ground turkey (not turkey breast) with a 93/7 percentage of fat ratio. If you bought the 93/7 ground beef, it was cost close to $4/lb.

I made spaghetti last night with the ground turkey in the sauce. It cooked up quickly, with no "disappearing meat", as when you cook with ground beef. LOL! And surprisingly, there was not an overwhelming aroma while cooking, only a pleasant subtle cooked chicken smell. When cooked, the color was just a bit paler than ground beef. The consistency was the same. I tentatively took a bite of the sauce. The taste was the same!! Woo hoo! It even fooled my persnickety kids! They loved it, and had no idea that it wasn't hamburger! :)

I went to Sam's last night for some apples, and decided to look at the ground turkey there. They had the ground turkey for $1.94 a pound and was the Jenni-O brand. They also had ground turkey breast for $3.15 a pound.

So far, ground turkey is my friend. I am going to experiment using it in different ways, to make sure I still like it. I will update when I do. So be brave - go buy some ground turkey!!