Friday, January 29, 2010
My little girl likes pink--pink clothes, pink crayons, pink bowls for her breakfast. Pink is present in every room of our house. Pink, for us, is simply a part of life. And it is a beautiful part of life.
Sometimes I get frustrated when she won't eat out of a bowl because it is not pink. And sometimes I get impatient when she complains that her clothes don't match because they are not all pink. But one thing I have learned from this persistent little girl is the value of knowing who you are and what you like.
“How shall we learn to know ourselves?” asked the German writer Goethe. “By reflection? Never; but only through action. Strive to do thy duty; then shalt thou know what is in thee.”
This week our girls have both been sick. Yesterday was the first day we did not go to the doctor's office. I have had more to do than usual, or at least that is how it feels, and I am not getting any of it done. Instead I find myself once again learning from these little people, whose care God has entrusted to me.
Bruce D. Porter has said, "It is not only in quiet hours of meditation that we discover ourselves, but also in hours of wearying toil, in service without reward, in smiles that hurt, in hungering, thirsting, striving, and seeking."
I can still hear my mother's voice in my head as she would repeat the words: "Your Father in Heaven knows you. He loves you. He has a plan for you."
Part of knowing myself is knowing this. I am a daughter of God; my beautiful, pink-wrapped daughters are also part of His family; and my life is part of a greater plan. That means I have divine heritage and am surrounded by others who have the same incredible potential.
I may not know what my favorite color is from day to day, but I know myself enough to know that I want to live up to this potential. In the Sermon on the Mount the Savior of the world taught, "Be ye therefore perfect." (Matt 5:48). Of this command, Bruce D. Porter concludes: "To reach that ideal, we must know ourselves, for until we are conscious of our weaknesses, we cannot correct them; until we know our strengths, we cannot use them well."
We are given such simple things to help us remember who we are. I am so grateful for a little girl in pink who helped me remember this today.
What helps you remember?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Every store has a mistinted paint section. It is just a matter of finding it. Lowe's usually has it by the paint counter. Home Depot usually has it right outside of the door of the contractors entrance. It is also sometimes called as-is . Well, Lowe's as-is is where we found her paint. I was not looking for a specific pink. I knew what kinds I did not want, like bright/florescent pink. Just something softer. To paint her room, we spent 10 dollars on paint, one can of as-is pink, and one can of as-is green. It is not my favorite room in the house, but it was for my 3 year old, and she loves it. So if you are not looking for a specific color, check there. Most places will also color match if you need an additional can of the same color. We had to do that with our office paint. It was as-is too, grayish from Fred Meyer. We also used as-is in the kids bathroom. I can of Blue from Walmart. Yeah, our house needed/still needs some painting, and it is painting on the cheep! So go check them out! It can be a gold mine. And check regularly. Some weeks there is nothing and others there is tons! Good luck!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Step 3: Cut out material. I used black felt so it would be stiff and stand out without having to add tulle to give it body. Plus it doesn't ravel, so I didn't even hem it. Pin pattern piece to fabric and cut out the skirt. Also cut out a strip 3" wide by the waist measurement (again, allow for a seam).
Step 6: Insert elastic. Cut a 1" piece of elastic to the length of the waist measurement plus 1/2" for the seam. Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic and thread it through the inside of the waistband through the opening you created in the previous step. Stitch ends of elastic together and hand sew the opening closed.
Step 7: Embellish! What would this little creation be without a cute pink poodle? The one I made isn't elaborate...just a sillouhette of a doggie I drew. I attached it to the skirt using Heat n' Bond, and the leash is a length of tiny pink rick-rack that I sewed on using matching pink thread. The collar is made of a few rhinestones glued on using my favorite fabric basting glue.
Step 8: Make it stay put! If you're making this for a baby, here's a tip that will help keep the skirt in place. I can pretty much predict with certainty that this will ride up to Baby's armpits if I don't do something to keep it put. I took a pair of bloomers from one of her dresses and safety-pinned it to the inside of the skirt. That should do the trick.
There you have it! I hope this makes sense and that it's something you'll want to try. Maybe put it in your back pocket and pull it out to make for Halloween. Let me know how it goes! And, also ask any questions you might have so I can clarify and make future tutorials even better. Thanks for letting me share my project with you!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
January is the month of my Grandma Dorothy's birth. This year, she would have been 95. I was looking through old photos recently, and I realized that in almost every photograph and memory I have of her, my grandma is wearing something pink - a brooch, a dress, a necklace, a flower in her hair ... and she was definitely the kind of lady who wore flowers in her hair.
Grandma Dorothy's life always seemed to me to be full of adventure. When her father died, for instance, leaving her mother alone with 10 young children, the family got up in the middle of the night and left New York to avoid being split up by the state authorities. Her mother told them they were going to be gypsies. At least, that's how the story goes. She loved to tell other stories, too, about wearing out her dancing shoes at the Inwood Park Dance Hall in Cincinnati, and how she met my grandfather. In the years before she died, Alzheimer's disease took her back to that dance hall many many times, and her inward world was full of words like "beautiful" and "wonderful." She was one of those women who could get away with calling anyone "Honey."
She was also full of advice. She taught me that "to be beautiful, you must suffer" whenever she had the job of brushing my hair; and to "always keep the ring; it's what you get for your trouble." But my all-time favorite: "Just because you told the boy you'd go to the dance with him, doesn't mean you promised to leave with him."
Grandma also had plenty of sorrow, and she was far from perfect. But she was gracious. Always kind and gentle. She saw beauty in everyone. Truly. In everyone.
And so won't you join me, one day before her birthday month is over, in wearing some pink? In honor of women like Grandma Dorothy. And if there's someone in your life that this post makes you think of, please do leave a comment and share him/her with the rest of us!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Our Family Home Evening lesson tonight is based on a mashup of what my kids learned in their Primary and Nursery lessons yesterday: Because I Chose to Follow Jesus Christ, I Will Love Others. As I was putting it together, I came across this:
And I could feel little explosions going off in my brain and I thought: What a perfect excuse for a paper chain! So I cut out some strips of colored paper, and put them in a jar ...
and every night from now until Valentine's Day, we'll each take a strip of paper and write something we love about someone else in our family. We'll make the chain as we go, so we can see how much it grows every day!
Friday, January 22, 2010
It sounds a bit odd, I know, but this unique phrase may be the solution to saving a little piece of my sanity. Let me explain...
Lately we have had more than the usual struggle to get Sophia to clean up. She will tell me, "No, I'm sorry, but I don't think I want to right now. And I may not ever." Yes, she is three. When she eventually does participate in the cleaning process, she just plays with the toys rather than put them away. My frustrated mommy response is a very stern: "It is not play time, it is clean-up time!"
And then I think-- Wait, I know this could be fun. She would respond so much better if I made it a game--clean-up time could be playtime, but how?
I know! I know! Huckle Buckle Beanstock!
This is a game I learned from my Grandma Mac. It is simple, all you need is one small object to hide. It could be anything--a small stuffed animal, a sock, an apple, a hairbrush, even just a piece of paper. One person hides it in a visible place, meaning that it cannot be completely concealed in a drawer or covered by a blanket--it must be at least partly visible and no player should have to move anything to find it. Then all the other players try to find the object. The first person to find it yells, "Huckle Buckle Beanstock!" and then runs to sit on the couch until everyone else has found the object. The person who finds it first then gets to hide the object to start the next round.
You can adapt this for children of all ages by hiding objects of different sizes and difficulty to find. And now, when things look like this...
...all you have to do is hide your object somewhere amid the mess--this time it can be completely hidden because you actually want them to move things while searching--move them and put them away! Explain to your children that if they are the one to discover the item while cleaning, they will get a special treat or reward. Then when they do find it, you can re-hide it and give them opportunities to earn as many rewards as possible. If you want to have lots of rewards, hide it somewhere quick and easy to find. If you want to have only one or a few rewards, hide it somewhere difficult that will be found near the end of the chore. If you are comfortable with sweet treats, the reward can be a Hershey Kiss or something they can munch on while they continue to clean--this will help them continue cleaning if they are young and need immediate and effective rewards. If you have older children and want them to earn other rewards--TV, movie, video game or computer time (we call them "media points")--then the reward can be something gained later, an extra five or ten minutes for a special activity.
We tried this tonight. The result was enthusiasm for cleaning and participation with the family in the task at hand. It was completed quickly because of the race to find the object, and clean-up time became playtime. Playtime was a much more peaceful family time, and we all got a treat in the end.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Here are a few things I am excited about this week.
80/20 Ground Beef for $0.99/lb
on Saturday and Sunday they have Goldfish Crackers for $0.88 (that is the steal of the week)
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts for 1.88/lb
Green Bell Peppers $0.69/each
Rite Aid (not a grocery store I know, but I could not resist)
Mott's Applesauce, 24 oz, $0.99/jar
OK, so I know this is not a huge list, but these are the best deals regardless if you use coupons. Now, I use coupons as well, and there are other deals, but that is a whole different topic and there are blogs devoted to it, so I am not going to even go there right now. If you are terrified of the coupon thing or it is just not for you, and even if you are using coupons, here are some tips on saving money while shopping the ads.
1) Read the front and back first. Those are the loss leaders. The ones that they are using to just get you into the store and there profit is slim to none. Usually the best deals are on the front and back.
2) Circle what you are interested in with a bold pen or marker so you remember what you were going to get when you come back to your ads.
3) If you are just starting, get a notebook. In that notebook write all your staples that you use regularly or even your splurges. Every week write down the cost so you learn what the lowest price is. Like meat for example. I don't buy meat unless it is under $1.88/lb.
4) Don't be afraid to go to multiple stores. Some things are cheaper at others while others are more expensive.
5) Make a list before you go that has the item, item size if listed and the price listed on it so you know you are getting the right product.
6) Enjoy yourself. It is not something to stress about.
I grew up going to the grocery store with my dad. It was something we did together. I did not go on many dates in high school. I can count them on one hand. So as my friends were on dates, I spent Friday evenings on a date with my dad at the grocery store. It started out as a Saturday morning thing as a kid. I loved it. That time spent with him has taught me countless things about saving money, couponing, and budgeting. So enjoy it, and enjoy it with your kids. I know it can be hard. I have 2 of my own and it is not always pleasant. But learn the tricks of the store. For instance Fred Meyers has free kid cookies as well as they have a supervised area for my three year old so I can shop without her for an hour. It is great.
It really can be fun.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Instead of staying indoors while it rained last week--all week--I went shopping. Not window shopping or clothes shopping or grocery shopping. This was more like a search and destroy mission: it was "Operation Family Car."
the goal: save money--reduce monthly payments, reduce fuel costs, reduce overall travel expenses.
the parameters: something smaller, something safe, something comfortable, something simple.
the troops: a sassy three-year-old, an energetic one-year-old, a patient and intelligent accountant, and me, the determined mother and budget enforcer
the battle grounds: rainy, greater Seattle car dealerships
the enemy: unnecessary expenses
I was determined to find what I was looking for and at the price I wanted--even if it destroyed my sanity.
There was one moment, as our long day was approaching the girls' bedtime, we were transferring car seats from one car to the next and standing under a steady rainfall, when the sassy three-year-old first choked on a hard candy and then repeatedly threw up. The kind car salesman stood holding an umbrella over us, and remarkably still let us drive away in his leather interior hybrid car without any indication of concern for the possible replacement of new car scent for the stench of fresh vomit. Yeah, that could have been the end of our search. But we persevered and came out conquerors.
It only took two more days of searching, test driving, bargaining, debating, and number crunching to complete our mission and bring home a new family car. It meets the goal, it meets all the parameters, it gains the approval of all my comrades, and the enemy was destroyed, humanely and honorably.
I am happy. My budget is happy. And my sanity is in tact.
Rain or shine, car shopping is not easy. But it's worth it.
When we created this blog, we knew we wanted to share the fun and meaningful parts of our lives, but we also knew that we would need to have some structure and direction for our posts. So we came up with a schedule of topics, or prompts--one per week--to help us each tap into the inspiration that keeps us writing.
Now we want to hear from you.
What topics would you like to hear about from us?
You may have been able to pick up on some of our topics so far...
We all take a pretty different approach perspective for each topic, and it's fun to see how it inspires each of you.
So, leave a comment on this post to let us know what you'd like to hear about. Give us one, two, three--as many suggestions as you like.
Oh, and thanks for reading.
Seven and a half years later, here are some of our favorites to play as a family. (Royal Rescue is more of a one-person logic game, but it's definitely awesome. Especially when our 4-year-old daughter really gets into solving the puzzles - amazing to watch their little brains work!)
And here is one for the adults. Especially if you're a geek (which we are). But it's also fun if you're not!
*Quick! Who sings that song? Bonus points if you can get it right without peeking!
And you're wondering what you can do to help the people there then go check out Craft Hope for Haiti Etsy Shop. Their website talks about the purpose behind this organization and how we can help. Read what they have written on their website. It's amazing how thoughtful and generous people can be. You can make something pretty to donate to the shop or just go find a treasure for yourself and know that your money is headed some place special
Monday, January 18, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Nacho Potato Soup
from Myrlann Clement, modified by me.
4 or so potatoes diced (more or less depending on how hearty you like your soup)
1 can drained corn
1 can Rotel tomatoes or diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 Cups Water
2 Cups Milk
4 oz of Velveeta Cheese or 2 cups cubed Velveeta cheese
In a pan combine potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and water. Mix well. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer till potatoes are tender
Add milk and cheese and stir till cheese is melted.
That is it. Easy peasy! Enjoy! Serve with some Rhodes rolls, or have someone pick up some bread at the store if you don't want to go through the trouble of making rolls. It is delicious!
I consider us conservative spenders in our family. It's easy for us to have buyers' remorse, so when we make big purchases, we make sure we 1)really need it, 2)really love it and will keep it for a long time, and 3)can pay for it.
Money is a taboo subject to talk about. In fact, it has been shown that parents are more comfortable talking with their children about sex than about money. I thank my parents for their frugality during my upbringing. I remember, as a girl, we were doing a little shopping and I really wanted this pair of new shoes. Mom said, "We don't have money for that right now." And I said, "That's OK. Just write a check!" I've learned lessons the easy way (listening to valuable advice) and the hard way (selling my plasma in college because I was broke and too proud to ask for help). "It is human nature to want it and want it now; it is also a sign of immaturity. Being willing to delay pleasure for a greater result is a sign of maturity."
This book is targeted toward high-debt, desperate, on-the-brink-of-bankruptcy consumers, but it's a useful reminder for anyone trying to improve and add padding to their nest. Briefly, there are 6 baby steps to achieve financial fitness, IN ORDER:
- Save $1,000 cash as a starter emergency fund. Ramsey: "It is going to rain. You need a rainy-day fund. You need an umbrella...life happens, so be ready. This is not a surprise. You need an emergency fund, an old-fashioned Grandma's rainy-day fund...Now, obviously, $1,000 isn't going to catch all [the] big things, but it will catch the little ones until the emergency fund is fully funded."
- Start the debt snowball. Make a list of all your debt, starting with the smallest. Once you pay off the first one, even if it's a $59 phone bill, add that payment plus any extra to the next debt until it is paid off. You will feel empowered and the snowball will grow and grow until you are debt free.
- Finish the emergency fund. Add to the original $1,000 to cover 3-6 months of expenses should anything unfortunate happen that cuts off your monthly income.
- Invest 15 percent of your income in retirement. We've taken this advice, and although we have less expendable for "fun things," I know we'll be glad when it comes time to retire. Ramsey's motto is on the bottom of each page of the book: "If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else."
- Save for college. Ramsey gives numerous options for saving for this inevitible expense in most families. There is a reason to do this after saving for retirement. A trusted financial advisor once told me that your kids will forgive you (eventually) if they have to pay for some of their college, but they won't be very happy about bailing you, their parents, out when you're old and out of money. Blunt, but I see the point. Just like on an airplane, put your oxygen on yourself before you help your children with theirs.
- Pay off your home mortgage. This seems far away for many of us homeowners, but if you do all of the other baby steps first, you should have the means to chop your years of commitment to your house payment in half and save nearly $100,000 in interest just by paying a couple hundred more dollars a month.
So, there you have it. We are by no means rich, except in blessings. :-) We are "living like no one else" because we pass up purchases that would probably make us more popular by the world's standards. But I have faith that because of our sacrifices, we will be blessed with the things we need and occasionally the things we want.
Here's to prosperity and a fiscally healthy and happy life to you! Oh, and I'd love to know some of your strategies for fiscal fitness!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I wish I had a "before" shot, and I wish that we had another full-length mirror in the house besides the one in the kids' dress-up corner. But can you see where I messed up? No? That's because this hemming method is so easy and pretty much foolproof. I'll never roll up my jeans again - hurrah! And we all lived happily ever after. The End.