This and That

Archive for August 2011

I used to be hip you know?

Yep, totally and completely hip. Well…maybe not hip but I at least knew what was in fashion and made attempts to keep up with the trends. This is all in the past because I am no longer hip. I must admit it out loud to myself and to everyone -I am not hip!

Why am I not hip anymore you may be wondering? I was wondering the same thing last week as I looked through old photo albums of myself. How did I become so out of fashion? Something must have changed, I thought. Hmmmm what could it be? What could it be??

WHAAAAAAAAAA! WHAAAAAAAAAA!

The cries from both my three year old and one year old can be heard from the back of the house  and then I remember the reason. I had kids!

That’s why I have none of the latest fashion pieces hanging in my closest right now. That’s why I have had the same shirts for the past four years. That’s why instead of strutting around with the most fabulous hair style, my hair is in the classic mom uniform of pulled back ponytail. Because I have kids.

My kids have taken away my fashion instinct, my savvy style, and my chic wardrobe. Sure they have given me love, affection, a sense of purpose, blah, blah, blah. But I miss my stylish outfits and my perfectly brushed hair that flows down past my shoulders. Oh the good old days.

Why can’t moms be stylish you may be wondering. Well in my world, everyday my shirt gets pulled, tugged, and grabbed. I am splattered with food, smeared with mud or sand, and always have snot and tear stains somewhere on my clothes. I can’t let good clothes be abused in this way.

So for now I wear unstylish, unfashionable, non-chic clothes and I  just look forward to the day when snot isn’t a daily addition to my wardrobe.

If you have ever wondered why I dress so awful, this is my explanation and please don’t judge me. I realize how bad I look. I’m just too tired and stressed out to care. One day I will dress great again, but today is just not that day.

All the sayings are so cliche:

Kids grow up too fast

It will be over in a blink of an eye

It won’t be like this for long

And though they are cliche, they are so true.

Now, I never thought I would be the type of mother who would get weepy about her children growing up. My frame of mind before I became a parent was as a parent I am raising my kids to grow up. If they grow up well then I have done my job and I should be proud. At least it was my frame of mind until my oldest son turned one year old.

My little baby all of a sudden looked huge to me. He was walking, “talking”, and had a opinions of his own. My little baby wasn’t my little baby anymore. And on his first birthday I was sad…I was really sad.

How did he go from this little baby just learning to sit…

to this GROWING, curly haired toddler…

to this BIG, athletic two year old….

to this totally handsome, HUGE three year old…

to this completely ENORMOUS, community sports playing three-and-a-half year old???

What happened? Where has the time gone? It really does feel like a blink of an eye. He really is grow up too fast.  Someone make him stop!!!

WHAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

As I have mentioned many times, hubby and I LOVE food and as such food is usually the number one culprit when we go over budget. But I have learned that meal planning is a great effective way to stay on budget. Over the weekend I plan out what dinner meals I am going to make each day of the next week. Then when I go to the store all I buy is the ingredients for those meals. It also takes the stress out of deciding what to make for dinner at five o’clock every evening.

Before meal planning I would go to the store and basically buy everything just in case I was inspired to make this or that or something brand new during the week. Our pantry and refrigerator would overflow with food… food we didn’t eat or need…until it was too late and then the food spoiled.

Now, I know that meal planning may sound boring and if you don’t ever change your weekly meals then yes it will be boring. But as long as you have enough different meals in your recipe book to rotate each week it won’t get dull. Also every couple of weeks I try a new recipe and add it into the rotation.

Meal planning really helps keep your budget on track and under control. It also has helped hubby and I put food in the proper priority in life. We eat to live, we don’t live to eat

Some additional tips:

  • Only make one complicated recipe a week (complicated meaning uses a lot of ingredients). Making too many complicated recipes in one week can put you over budget.
  • Only make one expensive meal a week or every other week. You can’t cook filet mignon every night and stay on budget.
  • Don’t forget to assign one night a week as left over night. Besides getting rid of extra food this too will keep your food budget down.
  • I normally don’t get creative or complicated with breakfast or lunch. Because who doesn’t love a big bowl of cereal in the morning? No need to fix something that’s not broken!
  • I always buy generic brands. They are usually just as good as name brand items just cheaper.
  • Utilize frozen vegetables and fruit. Sure fresh is best but fresh can be expensive…very expensive. Frozen still gives everyone the nutrition they need and a thawed strawberry still tastes like a yummy fresh strawberry but at sometimes half the price.
  • You may have to go to more than one store. My main grocery store has super expensive fruits and vegetables. I shopped around and found a different store that has better prices. So I go to two grocery stores every weekend. Now, I do not advocate going to four or five stores because who wants to do that and who has that kind of time. But you may have to go to two to keep your budget on track and find the good deals.

Can’t wait to hear how this helps your budget. Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Credit for teaching me meal planning goes to my mom. Dave Ramsey also promotes the power of meal planning and has tips on his website www.daveramsey.com

A few nights ago I was tucking my older son in bed and we were discussing the Trinity. Yes, hubby and I talk about very spiritual, deep topics with our three year old. Here’s how the conversation went:

Me:  “You know honey, Jesus died on the cross for us, then He rose from the dead three days later, and then went up to heaven to be with God.

Son:  “I know.”

Me: “But God sent the Holy Spirit to live inside us so we wouldn’t be alone.”

Son: “It lives inside me?”

Me: “Yes, the Holy Spirit lives in your heart that way God is always with you. Inside your heart.”

Son: “Inside me?”

Me: “Yep.”

Son:  “Inside me here?” (Pointing to his tummy)

Me: “No, inside your heart.” (Pointing to his chest)

Son: “Here?” (Pointing to his arm and concealing a sly smile)

Me: “No, your heart.” (Once again pointing to his chest)

Son: “Here?” (Pointing to his leg and now grinning from ear to ear)

Me: “No, the Holy Spirit lives in your heart. Inside you.” (Trying desparately not to laugh.)

Son: “The Holy Spirit doesn’t live inside me anymore.”

Me: “Oh yeah, why not?”

Son: “Because I just pooped him out before bed.”

And these are the conversations I have with my three year old before bed.

As a child I had a hard time apologizing. I was too proud and I didn’t want to admit I was wrong. This  inevitable created a worse situation for myself. There was tension, loss of trust, and more likely than not a punishment.

When I started in the workforce I finally learned the value of saying I’m sorry. At work mistakes happen, and for me they usually happened everyday. But I realized the quicker I apologized the faster the situation would  be defused, the sooner I would be forgiven, and everyone could move on from the mistake and start focusing on the solution. I learned it’s really hard to stay mad at someone when they admit their faults and apologize.

In fact, I learned this so well I would apologize for things that weren’t my fault. If the client was upset by something totally out of my control or about something that had nothing to do with me, I would just apologize and miraculously they would feel better. The client knew it wasn’t my fault but having someone apologize just makes people feel better.

I try and teach this lesson to my boys. Just say you’re sorry. If my older son pushes his little brother down, say you’re sorry. If my younger son hits his older brother with a train track (yes a train track!), say you’re sorry. There is usually a hug involved with the sorry and a punishment most likely follows, but by apologizing the boys are mending their relationship and healing hurt feelings.

Admit your faults and be humble. God loves a humble heart.

Check out the video below of my boys practicing this lesson and acting SUPER adorable!!

Yesterday’s post got me thinking….why don’t we help? Why is it that most people don’t help out the neediest or poorest in our world? Thirty five dollars a month would not effect most of us in the least, but it helps those in need tremendously and yet we still don’t help. Why?

Before sponsoring Ana from Bolivia, I was already sponsoring a little boy in the Dominican Republic through World Vision. In fact, hubby and I have been sponsoring him for five years. Thirty five dollars a month to me means nothing. I spend that monthly on Starbuck’s coffees or I easily spend more then at Target for things I really don’t need.

So when Elizabeth Esther started blogging for World Vision from Bolivia my initial thought was, “These posts aren’t for me. I’m covered. I already sponsor a child.” But the more I read, the more I was rivited by them, the more I was disturbed by them, and the more the thought kept creeping in my head Why can’t you sponsor one more?

More thoughts popped into my head that week, which I wrote about yesterday, but this thought of sponsoring one more child was a tough one. Why couldn’t I sponsor one more? Is seventy dollars really that big a deal to me? Would seventy dollars affect my way of life, putting food on the table, putting clothes on my children?

Why did I have such a problem sponsoring another child? Giving money that will change someone’s world and have little financial affect on my own? Shouldn’t that be a no brainier?

Why is it that most people don’t help out the poorest in our world?

Why don’t we help?

We all hold on to our money very tightly and that is our downfall. I think it’s born into us. I see it in my three year old son already. He has a blue piggy bank that his Grandpa and Nana got him. He has filled it with a dozen of pennies, dimes, nickles, and a few quarters. I think he has a total of maybe two dollars in there. But the way he holds on to those coins, the way he “counts” them, and the way he freaks out if his brother tries to take one coin you would think he had a million dollars in that piggy bank. Nobody told him to act this way. In fact we try to teach him the opposite. But he instinctively protects and hovers over those coins as if his life depended on it. I think that is how most of us act and feel about our money.

Of course money is necessary and you can’t give everything away and leave your children with no food to eat. On top of helping others, God calls his people to take care of their household and their families first. 1Timothy 5:8 says “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

But holding onto our money with a an iron fist is not right. We need to let go. We need to open our fist, stop obsessively protecting and hovering. We need to realize that this is why God gave us money. To help those who don’t have as much as we do.

What if everyone in America who could honestly afford thirty five dollars a month to sponsor a child did?

Let’s say that one forth of American’s could afford thirty five dollars a month. The US Census Bureau says that there are 312,046,372 Americans as of 2010. So if only a quarter of America gave that would be 78,011,593 sponsored children through World Vision! Wouldn’t that be amazing! I’m not even sure they have that many that need sponsoring! But wouldn’t that be something to see?

Of course I am not saying you should only give to World Vision. There are many wonderful, reputable, honorable organizations out there that help the needy. World Vision was just on my heart the past few weeks. It doesn’t matter where you give, just give! And help those in need!

I was riveted reading Elizabeth Esther’s posts that week. They made me cry and made me sad that this kind of poverty exists in the world. Of course I have always known this poverty existed but I always closed my mind to it.

Why?

Because it is sad. It is too sad. It is too big. It is too heart breaking to think about. It is just too much. So I would close my heart and close my mind to it and pretend it didn’t exist. If I didn’t have to see it then it didn’t exist and then I didn’t have to deal with the questions that would inevitable pop into my head?

Why does a loving God allow this kind of poverty?

How can God let this happen in our world?

I am constantly reminded at church that God loves me and takes care of me. Of my every need. And I believe it. I believe He does and I have seen Him change our financial situation in a matter of days to bless and prosper us.

But what about them?

Why doesn’t He bless and prosper them?

Why must there be the poor?

Matthew 26:11 says “The poor you will always have with you,…”. Which I take to mean that there will always be poverty, always be people in need.

But why?

There are many answers to why there is suffering in the faith world: so that God can be glorified through His people or because we live in a fallen world with sin and suffering or because of the devil.

In many regards I believe each of these explanations.

I believe God is glorified through His people who help the poor. We are his hands and feet here on earth. We show the world Jesus through our actions.

I believe we do live in a fallen world filled with sin and suffering. Which naturally leads to awful, devastating things like poverty.

I believe in the devil and that he is at work causing many of the  unfathomable things that happen in our world.

But what about the little girl living in poverty right now? 

Do these answers satisfy her?

Maybe. But maybe not.

So now what do I do?

What can any one person do?

I can re-read her posts from that week. I can watch her video from poverty stricken Bolivia.

And I decide to open my heart. I open my mind.

I sponsor a little girl named Ana in Bolivia for thirty five dollars a month. An amount that means nothing to me but everything to her, her family, and her village.

That is what I can do. I can help. Even though I am only one person. I can still help. Even if it’s just to help one girl. I can do what God has called me to do. What he has called all of us to do. Whether you are a believe or not. He has called you to help.

But I do resolve to one day ask God all these questions because I know He will answer them and I know His answers will make sense.

Thank you to Elizabeth Esther for your posts from Bolivia and to World Vision for helping in so many in need.