This n That

1.  It’s pomegranate season. I’ve been scouring Costco for the last few weeks and finally the pomegranates came in. We all love the meticulous process of getting the seeds out and into a bowl. There is a lot of hand slapping to keep fingers out of the bowl until the job is done, and we can ALL enjoy them together. Yum!!!!!

 

 2.  This is my home screen on my phone. There are those little red bubbles that stress me out. I did cut my email bubble in half last Wednesday. I’m still happy about that. And I’ve kept up on deleting or archiving the current emails that come in. Progress. 

  3.  My To-Do list for Friday afternoon. Planning to recruit the kids to help me. 

4.  Helping my Freshman with science homework. It was actually enjoyable sitting at the table together and attacking this periodic chart. Our efforts paid off. He got 49.5/50 on the quiz the next day. 

    

Life is simple. 

Crisp Days of Fall

Fall has arrived. The mornings are cold. The air is fresh and crisp, and the nights flirt with 32 degrees regularly now. 

The sky was brilliant today, a perfect mixture of clear blue with clouds like pillows, floating past gently in the breezes that stirred up during each hour. 

The leaves are mostly gone, but a few swirl in a dance that goes nowhere and then settle in edges and cracks along the playground and parking lot at the school. The children wear hoods and gloves because the warmth of the sun doesn’t penetrate so efficiently now with winter around the corner. 

I snapped this photo late in the afternoon today. It seemed to embrace the essence of “fall” with the colors and cleanness and long shadows. 

  
The green of summer still hangs on, grasping for a few more days, a few more hours, before a hard freeze paralyzes the vibrant color and forces the soft grasses into a long sleep, and the delicate flakes cover the ground with a blanket of snow. 

Change is about to come. A change in the weather. A change in the scenery. And a change is happening inside as well.  

 

This meme speaks a truth that few ever own. What could be better than living a life that brings you joy daily, and one you don’t need a vacation from?  Is it possible to have peace amidst the daily schedules and surroundings?  This sounds like a very appealing life, and while it may take a few years, I am working to get there. 

I’ve been caught up in the Marie Kondo movement. I’ve read her book. I’ve done my clothes. That’s as far as I got. I expect that I will continue, but things may not happen in the “correct” order. 

I found myself with an hour to kill today. I can thank the fact that our kitchen clock seems to have missed the memo about “falling back” a few weeks ago, and all the humans that live here have not noticed the incorrect time until today, after it was too late.  

So I spent my hour deleting emails. Yes, I did that for a whole hour and managed to delete THOUSANDS  of them. There are still thousands more to go. I worked in topics. Facebook. Bunkbeds & Betties. Erin Condren. Flylady Flybabies. EC Fans Gone Wild. These are all Facebook related. I had my settings set up so I would receive an email notification for every last thing that happened on FB. While I dedicated an email account exclusively to this purpose, there was a LOT of stress caused by seeing over 60K in that little red email bubble on my phone. Yes, you read that correctly. OVER 60,000!!  So I deleted and deleted and deleted, select all, after select all, after select all. Nothing felt better than removing all the negativity from the last mentioned group, and all those names that contributed to the stress from that group. It’s all gone now, and there is a sense of relief and lightness. 

Etsy, Little Passports, Michaels, Bank of America, and Alaska Airlines are a few more topics I attacked in my email “inbox zero” quest today.  I look forward to the next chunk of time I can dedicate to deleting more emails and simplifying my life and finding peace without needing a vacation. 

   
 

Something fun I did today was getting photos of these precious puppies!  They are all 3 weeks old and touching their squishy faces and hearing their scolding little growls ranked this day as one of the finest in the past few weeks. 

Happy Fall to all of you. Thanks for stopping by!

How It is

It has been forever. Actually, it’s been 9 months and 17 days, almost as long as a full term pregnancy, since I’ve posted on this blog. 

I received the renewal notice. I am paying money to have a blog. I better use it. That is one motivation for posting. 

But there is a more important reason. This blog is supposed to be about my journey in this life. It’s supposed to highlight all the hats that I wear and all the good things in life. It’s supposed to be about grace, and finding grace, and showing grace in the midst of the toils and struggles. I’m afraid I fail often in the area of grace. I am struggling right now. 

I learned a few months ago that I have a fibroid in my uterus. It is rather large and it seems to be getting larger. I need to have another ultrasound. I’m sure I need to get it removed. I think I am facing possible surgery. 

I have no medical insurance. 

I want to blame someone for this fact. Isn’t a husband supposed to take care of the wife?  To look out for her and to protect her and keep her safe?

I feel like I travel this life alone, even though I’m married. He has no idea how to deal with my pending medical issue. He has covered no ground in finding a solution for the financial burden this will be. 

He only works in the summer and brings in the equivalent of a part-time income. I have taken a part time job to supplement our income. I am trying to get us out of debt. I am trying to keep the kids in private school. 

I don’t know how I can be a cash patient for this process. I don’t know how I will get medical insurance with a pre-existing condition. I’m not sure where to turn to get help. 

I’m going to tell my story how it is. I’m not going to hide the facts or protect the players any longer. 

I continue to look for grace, but It is always with tears. And the tears are angry and sad and hopeless much of the time. 

New Year’s Resolutuon

Happy New Year!

I made 2 resolutions this year. They are super simple but things that will save us money and make my family very happy.

The first is to cook beans from scratch and not make them from store bought cans. We have quarts and quarts of dried beans that we grew in our garden when we lived on the homestead. I have barely touched them. This year I plan to make all my own beans to use as many as I can.

My second resolution is similar. It has to do with food and using what we have around here.

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Homemade bread anyone?

This year I plan to make all our own bread. I have wonderful wheat berries and a grinder. Fresh bread needs to happen, and so far I have accomplished my goal!

Homemade bread is the best and the finished product makes the house smell so good and it tastes so delicious!

I love seeing the bread all packaged after it’s freshly baked. I use simple clothes pins covered with Washi tape to close the bags

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And who can go wrong with a rainbow? This just makes me happy!

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I use these clothes pins for everything! They are my favorite for closing things in my kitchen and pantry!

I hope to close many bags of bread this year, save money, and serve whole grain goodness to my family.

Cash Envelopes

We are on month 5 of our budgeting and we have made some serious progress!

One of my favorite things about the budget is the cash envelope system. I use regular letter envelopes, but I make them festive each month. They make me happy when I see them, even if it looks silly in town.

I’m happy to say that for the month of November, there was cash left over in each envelope and every envelope for December has a balance forward deposit into it, even before the budgeted amount was added!

It’s amazing how effective using cash is!! It keeps me accountable to the budget and there is great freedom in knowing there is cash available for our needs.

Just wanted to share this little money success!

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A Different Kind of Christmas

I am silent here, but life keeps flying by. Since my last post, we’ve gotten serious about our money issues and we’ve done something about it.

We are finally on a…BUDGET! Yes, that dreaded word.

But it has been a huge blessing and we have covered some serious ground since August of this year.

But I don’t want to talk about that as much as I want to share my idea for Christmas this year. I’ve been discussing with the kids, and asking them what they want to do. I’ve had several conversations, but have come away with nothing inspiring and everything costing too much money, especially since it had to fit into this wonderful thing called a budget!

But the other night, an idea came to me. I’ll let the following photos tell the story!…

Everybody gets one of these!

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And everybody gets one of these!

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The envelopes are ready and I’m deciding what day will be best for giving these out.

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I’ll post an update and let everyone know if it’s a success, or a royal flop!

Let the fun begin!!

Money Blessings

This year finds us in the worst money situation that we’ve experienced in our 21 year marriage.  Our income has always fluctuated, but this year has been especially lean.  I recently put together a debt snowball to try to apply every extra penny to the impending bills.  The first bill on the list was for summer camp for Kendrick.  We owed several hundred dollars, with a deadline of June to get it paid off.

While going through piles of mail, I discovered I had overpaid both Sears and Kohl’s, by a combined amount of $229.10.  I asked them both to send me a refund check, and once they were received, I immediately applied them to the camp balance.  I also remembered that I had purchased a camp voucher at a school program earlier this year, so I contacted the camp and asked them if they could find the voucher and apply it to the bill.  I thought it was for $100, but soon discovered that a $150 credit was applied toward the camp balance, leaving us with just $154 left to pay.  I could only think how amazing it was that the first bill on the debt snowball was already almost paid, and it was money that sort of came out of the woodwork!

During this time, I also raided all the coin jars and loose change in the house, and gathered it together to wrap, and discovered we had about $40 in loose change.  This will be applied to the account as well, leaving the balance right around $124.  Then another $20 showed up in a RAK from the FB group, so now the balance is $114.

I started thinking that it would be good for Kendrick to earn some of the money for summer camp and suggested that he sell cupcakes, 2 for $1, meaning he would need to sell 200 cupcakes to reach this goal.  Between now and June, this sounded completely do-able as he would need to sell just about a dozen a week until camp starts.  We have a bunch of boxes of cake mix, so no extra money needs to go into supplies (I got a little crazy a while back and bought about 50 boxes of cake mix as they were just $0.97 each, and they have been in the freezer).  So….that was the plan…earn the last $100 by selling cupcakes (and find another $14 in change in the next 2 1/2 months).

I was sharing all of this with my cousin one evening on FB, just telling her about what was happening, how the laws for shipping puppies are changing, which will affect our business, and wondering if we were going to make it, and just generally sharing life stuff with a family member.  We were also talking about Washi tape, and other “planner related” things, and she was going to send me a few samples and rolls of Washi tape that she had.  Little did I know, there would be a huge surprise in the little package!!

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If you don’t recognize that bill, it’s $50!!  Incredible!!  What a huge surprise, and totally loving thing to do.  It’s the RAK of all RAKs!!

Then, she included this little note inside.  She knows how busy I am already, and this was just so incredibly thoughtful and kind!

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The balance for camp is now just $64.  I can probably come up with other ways to pay that, perhaps apply other money I’ve received from RAKs toward this balance, or we can sell less cupcakes!  It would now only take 128 cupcakes, just 11 dozen, which will only take 6 boxes of cake mix (they each make 2 dozen)!  I’m certain my 13-year-old will be able to pull this off in 2 1/2 months time, if necessary!

As I look at this story, I am amazed how the money basically came out of nowhere, yet the bill is almost paid, and it has allowed us to keep up with the normal bills, since camp is completely something extra!  I’m very happy my son will get to attend summer camp as it’s always a rich spiritual, physical, and social experience, and something I dearly loved when I was young.

But there’s more…

Another extra trip that is happening this year, and thus requiring a lot of extra money (when we hardly have enough money for the normal stuff) is Osh Kosh.  Kendrick has been in Pathfinders for the past 5 years, and every five years there is a worldwide camporee in Wisconsin, something that we don’t want to miss.  Since I am helping with Pathfinders this year, I was excited to go as well, and it has also worked out that Kaelyn would join us to help cook during the drive both ways, as well as when we are at the event.  Three people riding a bus from WA to WI isn’t cheap, not to mention the $200 tickets for the event itself.  We have already paid for the event tickets, but are staring at a balance of around $1425 for bus travel and food (for 3 people).  Since this is a completely extra thing, it was not budgeted into anything, and I had no idea where we would scrape up the money for that, since all my scraping had gone towards the summer camp venture, and I knew there was not $1000 dollars left to scrape out of anywhere!!

But life sometimes throws the most wonderful curve balls, and I just received an amazing phone call!  A few months ago, I gave 2 Cavalier females to a fellow dog breeder.  The deal was that if/when they had a litter of puppies, I would receive the price of one puppy when she sold the litter, to pay for the mother dog!  I had seen my friend a few weeks ago, and she had told me that one of the girls had a litter of 6 babies that were all thriving and doing really well, but I had forgotten about the money that was due to come my way very soon.

Today, she called me to ask for my new address so she could send me the check!  I’ve decided to dedicate this money towards our Osh Kosh trip, and am now staring at a balance of $425 instead of $1425!!  There will be money also applied from the Pathfinder club to each of our bills (we did some fund-raising), and I don’t know what that amount will be yet.  I’m hoping it will cover that final balance, and I will be amazed if that is the case!!

I can only sit here and be thankful for all of these money blessings!  Right now, it looks like about $2,000 will be covered in ways that were completely unexpected, and pretty much out of my control!  I feel blessed and overwhelmed with gratitude for these surprises!