Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Too Late!

It's already 1:00 am (Tuesday morning) and I would love to write about something really profound or informative or even just entertaining, but after getting back from small group tonight and getting the kids in bed, checking emails and facebook, I just don't have it in me. 


But I am still here.  I need to get some sleep.  I'll try to post something "tonight" (Tuesday night) when I have more time and hopefully more clear thoughts.  I'm too tired to have a complete thought right now.


Goodnight!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday

This has been an interesting Thanksgiving and also the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday.  Let me explain...

Money has always been tight for my husband and I.  I'm not sure why exactly, but it's a trend that resonates throughout our 13 year marriage.  As most of my friends and family know, we do not live extravagantly or own expensive toys.  Nevertheless, an abundance of money has always eluded us.  I'm not blaming my husband, I don't want anyone (including him) to think that I believe that he is responsible for our current economic situation.  I have been our money manager for the majority of our marriage, so obviously I accept partial blame.

But it hasn't been REALLY difficult until last year.  That was when financially, things got unbelievably tight around our house.  Just prior to that I started clipping coupons and continued paying very close attention to what was being spent for our monthly expenses.  Before that we had learned from Dave Ramsey and his Financial Peace University class to only use cash (or a debit card) and cut up our credit cards.  But as Dave would say, we have an "income" problem.  And as Dr. Phil would say, regarding our current financial situation, "How's that workin' for ya?"  To that (and him) I would say, "It's not!  Not at all."  And then Dr. Phil would probably say, "Well, what are you going to do about it then?"  And then I would say, "I don't have any idea!"

We, have been poor money managers.  Terrible stewards of the money God has blessed us with.  I feel pretty guilty about it, quite often.  On top of the guilt is depression.  Most recently it began in September.  I thought it was possibly due to a couple of different scenarios, which might have added to my depression, but just in the past couple of days, I realized that our lack of money was a big factor.  I never realized until a couple of days ago, that our "financial hardship" was also the cause of some of my stress.  As a stay at home mom, I don't have a whole lot of things to be stressed out about.  I couldn't figure out WHY I felt stressed.  Then, it hit me.  I was worried about money.

I tell you all of this to explain a little bit about what God has shown me during the past two weeks when we were waiting on a paycheck in the mail.  Besides Him showing me that HE is in control of EVERYthing, He challenged me to STOP what I was doing, and turn 180 degrees and do the opposite of my inclinations.  I should probably rephrase that, He didn't just challenge me, he FORCED me to change my behavior.
  
We did not have enough money to buy turkey and the usual side dishes this year.  Likewise, we didn't have enough money for me to head out to the stores this morning to find some awesome deals on Christmas presents for the kids, like I have done for the past few years.  I had to sit back on the sidelines this year, and watch it all happen, with my hands tied behind my back.  Restraint.  That's the word to describe it.  I needed some restraint, I guess.
In God's timing, we were expecting, and then received a paycheck this morning via Fed Ex from my husband's main employer, D.C. Comics.  My husband had complained to them Tuesday when we hadn't received the paycheck that should've come by Tuesday via USPS.  With some creative check-cashing and depositing at the bank, I was able to pay our mortgage, and the other bills that we missed during the middle of this month.  It was a good feeling to get that done, and even better that I was able to go grocery shopping today and re-stock our pantry and fridge.

So, why am I telling you all of this?  I guess it's because I've learned a lesson throughout all of this.  I hope that hearing my story will help you, or someone you know who might be going through a similar situation.  It's tough out there right now, but for those of us who believe in the God who created us (and all things), we have HOPE and can trust in Him to carry us through the difficult times in this life. 

God is good and He loves you. 
Goodnight.
 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Well... The kids are all nestled, snug in their beds, except for my daughter who is singing to herself in her bed (she's my night owl.)  Not one of them questioned why we didn't have a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner today.  I'll admit, I didn't bring it up to them.  Maybe they're young enough to not expect to have turkey on Thanksgiving.  Even though we did have homemade pumpkin pie for dessert!  It followed a lovely meal of veggie fajitas (a family favorite). 

While my 3 year old took his afternoon nap, the "big" kids and I worked on some puzzles (as shown above).  Then we made the aforementioned pumpkin pie.  I'm sorry I don't have a finished pie picture to show you (not that it was that pretty). My digital camera's batteries were dead by the time we were ready to eat.  I have a picture on my husband's phone, but I have no idea how to get it onto my computer to show you (I'm not computer savvy). 

Here's my oldest son looking like a deer in the headlights.  Seconds before taking this picture, he touched the whisk with his finger and asked me if he could lick his finger.  I said he could, but then he would be done helping me.  I'm proud that he remembers, "after we touch our face or lick our fingers, we have to wash our hands (when preparing food)."  I tend to drill that into them each time they help me in the kitchen.
But our FAVORITE new tradition that we started this year was to make a Thanksgiving Tree!  Here's our finished tree...
What's a Thanksgiving tree, you ask?  Well... my good friend and neighbor, Jessica posted this craft on her blog a week or so ago, and I LOVED it.  You can see instructions at two shades of pink.

Ours is very busy compared to hers.  Jessica's is very beautiful and artistic, I admire it so.  She's so creative!
Here's a close-up of some of the many things we're thankful for this Thanksgiving.
This craft was very simple and the best part was that we had everything on hand.  It did take a while to cut the leaf shapes from the colored coffee filters, though.  The kids loved doing it and during dinner we went around the table looking at the leaves and saying a different thing that we were thankful for until we ran out.

All in all, this was a Thanksgiving to remember.  Thanks for sharing it with me.
Goodnight.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am Thankful

Will Thanksgiving still come if there isn't any turkey on the table?....  Of course it will.  If you looked at Thanksgiving from a practical or anti-religious standpoint, it's just another day.  Right?


Well, tomorrow our Thanksgiving will be turkey-less.  No fixins, sides, rolls either; although I will make a pumpkin pie.  (I have all of the ingredients already purchased and on hand.)  Our family has been trying to make our last few dollars stretch until we receive another paycheck.


I believe that Thanksgiving similarly to Christmas has been blown way out of proportion.  The meaning of Thanksgiving is to remember the very first Thanksgiving feast of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans (Indians).  (I was trying to be politically correct.)  They came together and "gave thanks" to God for blessing them with such abundant crops from their fall harvest.
 
It's not about turkeys or pumpkin pie or over-eating until you feel sick.  It's not about watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV or planning your early morning shopping spree on Black Friday.  We do keep family traditions alive though, and sometimes create new ones.

 
I don't feel bad that we can't afford a traditional Thanksgiving meal this year, it's not one of our unalienable rights.  It's a privilege to celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey and to share a meal with family.  It's not a need, by any means.  We will be having either beans and cornbread or veggie fajitas for our dinner tomorrow, I can't decide. 

 
I am planning to make more of a point this year to show the kids, the TRUE meaning of Thanksgiving, so hopefully they'll understand while they're young the MANY things we can be thankful for this year.  Here's my list (after this first one, they are in no particular order):

Jesus (I'm so very thankful for my savior)
my family, extended family and my husband's family
our friends
our church
our house
two mini-vans (even though one needs a new battery to start)
our clothes
our food
my husband's work (he has an abundance right now)
our health
to live in Florida (where it's warm/hot!)

These are from my standard list of thanks to God every evening before bed.  We are so blessed.  Blessed beyond belief.  
Thank you God.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Newest Hobby...Fondant Cakes

This is my most recent cake which I made for a friend's baby shower last Friday.  It's a chocolate cake inside with chocolate buttercream frosting.  After cutting into it, I took a quick picture to show what it looked like underneath the fondant.

Before this cake I made a cake for another friend's baby shower two weeks prior to this one.  She is expecting a girl, named Ivy (she still hasn't arrived yet!)
This one was my most intricate design (of the recent fondant phase of mine).  They don't make cookie/fondant cutters of ivy (or at least I don't think they do) so I had studied photos of English Ivy, which I believe is the most common variety.  At least around my house it is!  I hand cut each leaf with a paring knife and then used the knife (and tried a toothpick) to make the veins on the leaves.  The vines and tendrils were made with the buttercream frosting.  The inside of the cake was a double-layer chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting.  


And my very first attempt was two weeks prior to this cake.  Our small group was celebrating my friend's birthday and I offered to make the cake so I could practice using fondant for the upcoming Baby Ivy shower.  I didn't have very much time to complete this cake, so besides being my first attempt at fondant, it's not as great as it could've been if I wasn't rushed to deliver the cake (at our Monday night small group).
The inside of this cake is the same as the Baby Ivy cake:  chocolate with vanilla buttercream frosting.  I didn't get many pictures of this cake because I was so rushed.


I'm available to do more if you're local and you have an event coming up, just let me know!  I can also do cupcakes like the ones that I posted a while back for my son's 5th birthday in October.


Lots more to talk about, but not tonight.  I need my (beauty) sleep!  Goodnight!

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's the Little Things

I am blessed beyond belief.  I want to give a BIG THANK YOU to my friends who blessed me with their old washer and dryer.  I shouldn't really say "old," but maybe just say "gently-used."  We've had them in our garage for about two weeks.  We didn't have the time to take out our old washer and dryer and install the newer ones until this weekend.  On Saturday my husband worked very hard and got them installed.  He made countless trips to Home Depot and Lowe's for new hoses (ours began to leak upon hook-up) and many different PVC pipes to re-position our outside dryer vent so that it would not fill up with rain water.


I don't know how many loads of laundry I did that day, but let's just say that before I went to bed that night, there was not a dirty article of clothing in the ENTIRE house (with the exception of the clothes we were currently wearing.)  Obviously with laundry, you can only say that statement temporarily, because just like dishes, clothes get soiled daily.


Do you know HOW I was able to complete (approximately) 5 or 6 loads of laundry so quickly?  Because of the washer and dryers' awesomeness!  The washing machine has some kind of jet engine that spins the clothes practically completely dry before they leave the washer.  And the dryer is SO efficient!  It kept up with the washing machine each load, so unlike before, I never had clean, but wet clothes sitting ON TOP of the dryer WAITING to be dried.


Having an efficient washer and dryer is really exciting to me.  If you're reading this and think I'm lame, then sorry, you can read someone else's blog instead of mine.  After being married for 13 years and with three children, it's the little things like this that can make domestic life much more rewarding.  I now have no excuse not to keep up with the laundry, seriously, NO EXCUSE!  


Thank you Jen and Dave, and thank you God for blessing me (and my family) with our "new" washer and dryer!