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Monday, December 30, 2013

Caleb visits his first playground

My Bible verse for 2014

I was really tempted yesterday to skip church.  

I wasn't sick, I wasn't tired. I think part of it had to do with those few extra pounds of Christmas pudding squeezing me out of my church clothes. 

But, I went to church.  And I am so glad I did.  

The very first song was 
"Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it!" Psalm 118:24

Not a very complicated verse. In fact, it may be the very first Bible verse I ever learned as we sang on the way to church during my childhood.

But The Lord spoke to my heart.

THIS is my verse for the year.  THIS is my year for living every day to the fullest.

And boy do I need it!    

According to my rough calculations,

I was pregnant for 9 months of 2010
                                    7 months of 2011
                                          6 months of 2012
                                                5 months of 2013.

And, although I don't have dangerous pregnancies with medical complications...

I do sorta feel like crud. I have felt like crud for 27 of the last 48 months.  

And because I already have a family to run during these pregnancies, here is what that looks like:

*When I have free time, I'm likely to use it reading a book or sleeping or watching a show - very low energy activities. Because energy is a precious resource, hoarded for important things like cooking dinner and doing laundry, not frivilous showers and grooming. Not cleaning the ceiling fan. Not smiling.

*I don't read to my children...because I might throw up on them.

*When friends invite me to do something I answer "Oh!  That sounds wonderful!  Maybe next time!"

*I don't invite anyone to my house ever, because while I might have lots of energy at the time I invite them, the likelihood of me being able to clean the house or go grocery shopping for the company is pretty low.

And the end result of all of this putting off and ignoring things that need to be done and storing up energy is that my natural bent toward procrastination is magnified.  

Also, during pregnancy, while I feel like crud, I become a stoic.  Nothing bothers me.   Threw up 12 times big deal.  Peed in my big deal.  Haven't had a good night's sleep in 5 big deal.  

But in doing that, I also lock down all other emotions.  Found a good deal on big deal.  Had a big deal.  Heard a funny big deal.  Family flew into town to see big deal.  

In an effort to keep the world from turning red with frustration and anger at my own limitations , I have actually turned it grey and depressing.  No color. No fun. No laughter. No excitement. No anticipation.  


As far as I know, there will be ZERO months of pregnancy in 2014.  

And this year I am going to enjoy who I am, where I am, and who I am with TODAY.

Things I'm NOT going to say:

"We'll do that after Glory is potty-trained"

"I'll enjoy doing that after I lose 10 pounds"

"I'm going to buy new clothes once...(insert unreasonable goal)"

"Yes, I'm planning on doing that"

Things I am going to do:

Play loud music.  Because I love loud music, and I haven't played music really loud since....high school?

And when it is playing I'm going to dance.  Because I love to dance, and my children don't know that about me.

Exercise ALOT.  Because I LOVE exercising.  I really love it.  I feel amazing when everything hurts.  I'm going to blame this on 10 years of ballet classes. But it's really about doing something JUST because I love it, and not for any other reason.

And I'm going to drink coffee with cream.  No matter what Dr. Fuhrman says. So there.


That's my word for the year.

Because this is the Day.

(I'm going to take lots of pictures, too.)



Monday, December 23, 2013

Did you pay your plumbing bill???

I'm sure you are dying to know!

As you recall, we have been in a 90 Day Challenge from our church to give 10% of our income faithfully  for 90 Days.  

It was crazy hard, but we were making it (by God's grace), but during this time we had a plumbing issue which put $350 on the credit card.  So over the last 2 weeks I have been praying and looking for a $350 check in the mail.

It never came. 

The 90 Days ended and there was no check.

In church this week I kept praying.  "Lord, the 90 Day are over.  It's been wonderful.  But, You know, there's this $350 bill that didn't get paid."

....and then The Lord reminded me that I could pay it!

You see, when I did my budget for this last paycheck, it was just unworkable. We needed to pay rent as well as several drafts coming out of our bank account.  It just would not work.  Then Brian reminded me that his next paycheck is coming on January 2nd. We normally pay rent on the 1st, but we called our landlords and they said the 2nd would be fine.

WooHoo!!  So, now we had money to use!  I covered the shortfall then moved the majority of it over to our savings, which has been depleted during the 90 Days.  And there it was, just sitting there until The Lord reminded me that it could be used to pay the plumber.  Yes!!  God is Faithful!

So, after 90 Days of Giving by Faith...

- our savings is about the same as before

- our debt is lower than before due to regular payments

- God provided for all unusual expenses incurred during this time

- I budgeted 800% more carefully than I ever have, for 8 straight pay periods, never getting lazy.

- I was able to earn money during this 90 Days that I used to pay for Christmas.  That's right...we paid for Christmas this year in December of this year.  This is new for us.

- We won a $300 getaway at Brian's office Christmas Party.  And we are going to LOVE it!!
         (shoutout to my amazing family who are watching our 7 less-than-docile children!)

-Brian and I had several very difficult but wonderful budgeting discussions, and for the first time..ever? we have a 5 year plan of what we hope to accomplish with our finances. 

   It even includes vacations and pre planned fun. What??  (This is Brian's contribution to the budget! ...Oh, and he also contributes everything on the "Income" line.)

-And Finally, our church and the Kingdom are our 10% richer....

            And so is our faith!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Stop and Say Thanks

My Dad was sometimes embarrassing as I grew up.

I'm a bit of a stoic, so when his eyes would tear up as I left for the Homecoming Dance or he would dance and pump his arms when the Longhorns scored a touchdown, my little teenage heart would inwardly roll its eyes.

Maybe never moreso than when he would open the sunroof to tell God "Thank you!"

My brother and I would be sitting in the backseat irritating each other when he would proclaim: "Look at that sunset, Kids!" Then he would open the sunroof and say "Thank you, Lord, for that sunset.  It's amazing." 

This happened regularly. About sunsets. About lightning. About answered prayer. About pretty much anything.  

Opening the sunroof to talk to God.  Is that really necessary, Dad? You do know God can hear you if you leave the sunroof closed, right?

But really it wasn't about looking to heaven - It was more about doing something physical to stop and acknowledge God even as he drove around town and carried on with life.

And then today the neatest thing happened.

My 7 -year-old...the one who I am most concerned about right now...who seems to have the hardest heart...who is most resistant to guidance...He came up to me and said, 

"Mommy, We need to stop right now and Thank God!  I prayed He would help me and He did!"

So, we stopped and thanked God.  

My son doesn't know about the goofy sunroof, but he does know to stop and acknowledge God's work in his life.

This is my Dad's legacy and gift to me, and now my children.  

The Habit of Thankfulness

In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Who likes a buffet??

This baby!!

Today is the day Caleb has learned to crawl to the buffet, which is under the high chair.

See - large pieces of fruit, carefully portioned so that he can't choke, and lovingly set under the high chair.

You call it bad housekeeping.  I call it free immunizations!

Don't judge!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My reality check

If I ever do a post about my wonderful laundry system, and claim to have it all together, remind me of.....

Saturday, December 7, 2013

What if I stopped saying "Hurry Up?"

I only have one dawdler, but oh how she taxes me.  I don't think I could take "Hurry Up" out of my vocabulary.  But maybe I could try for 2 days or so.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pressed down, Shaken together, and Running over

About 75 days ago our church gave a bold challenge to the congregation:  
For the next 90 days can you live on 90% of your income, giving 10% to the church and trusting God to provide and sustain you?

Well, with my accounting degree and my husband's math degree we had already constructed a well-thought-out budget that allows us to live comfortably on 110% of my husband's income. LOL! 

Household finances have always been a struggle for us.  But in the last 6 months they have gotten even harder.  

I quit my job in March to stay at home with my 3 preschoolers...Our rent increased $250 in July...I need to buy some "affordable" health care by the end of the year.  So even before the church issued this challenge we were already praying desperately about our finances.  God had promised to meet the needs of our family, but we weren't seeing it yet.

So, Brian and I looked at each other in church that morning and said "Well, why not?"  

Now there's all sorts of tithing verses people quote, but my favorite is:

 Give, and it will come back to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. Luke 6:38

So, as we wrote that first 10% check this was echoing through my mind. "Give, and it will come back to you.  Give and it will come back to you."

"Lord, if I give you this measly, paltry 10%, do You think You could find a way to please give it back?  We really need it."  This was the size of my faith.    

So here we are at Day 75.  It has felt like holding your breath for 75 days. The kids have been standing at the fridge or pantry asking "What can I eat?" and I go join them and I can't come up with anything.  Well, let's see...we have mustard.  Or split peas.  Look, Logan! Tofu!  I don't even cheerily say "But Daddy's getting paid on Thursday!" the way I used to, because there is no money in that paycheck allocated toward food.

But here we are after 75 days.  We have had 3 meals a day, we have found apples on sale, we have eaten a hearty Thanksgiving and come home with leftovers.  But we are $350 in the hole because of a plumbing problem that went onto the credit card. I don't know where it is going to come from, but I heartily believe God will pay that bill before the 90 Day Challenge ends.  See, my faith is growing!

But then yesterday my beautiful, brilliant 12 year old comes home with a paper.  "Look Mom!  It's for paying for college!  I decided I want to be a Math Teacher!" 

 My heart sank.   

You see, despite the best of intentions, there are not 7 little college savings accounts growing at 12% a year. And as one sweet grandbaby has blossomed into 12 and simultaneously the stock market and economy have tanked, my trust in the Grandpa Joe Scholarship has faltered.   So, over the last several years, when Mackenzie mentioned her desired profession, or asked how we could pay for college, my somewhat glib, and not very honest answer was: 

"Well, we're just gonna have to pray about it."

And inside I felt fear, and sadness, and failure.  

And now here she is, only 6 years away from college, joyfully sharing her new desire to be a teacher, and flapping this paper in my face - what I was sure was another Guaranteed Education Thrift Plan...if we just pay $300 a month for 18 years she'll be good to go!  

She carefully placed the paper in front of me.  And when I didn't look at it she wisely moved it to her backpack lest a toddler spill food on it.  She asked me if I had signed it at least 3 times before bed.  Each time the fear filled my heart.  

...She's never going to go to college, even if she really want to.

....She's going to end up saddled with debt the same way we are.

... I'd better start talking to her about how all single, rich men are in want of a wife.

And then I finally got around to looking at the paper.  And then I read it again.  And then I went online and read it again.  Because what it is saying cannot possibly be true.

It seems that Washington State wants to keep their beautiful, brilliant 7th graders from leaving for California or New York upon graduation.... they provide FULL tuition and a book allowance for all middle schoolers who fall into the (low) income requirements once they graduate, as long as they don't become felons or leave to go to an out-of-state school.




I put my accounting degree to work.  $15,000 per year x 4 years x 7 kids.   That's $420,000.

I gave God 10% of (low) income and a teensy weensy bit of faith

...and He gave back $420,000.

Pressed down, Shaken together, and Running over, will be poured into your lap.

....I'll keep you updated on the $350 plumbing bill!

Who needs a couch??

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Will this matter a year from now?

As I was growing up, my mom often reminded me of this important advice

"If it isn't going to matter 10 years from now, then it isn't something you need to flip out about today"

Or something like that.

Today Brian took Annie for a little Daddy/Daughter date and he was trying to explain this concept.

Brian: "So Annie, imagine if today was you birthday, and Daddy forgot your birthday.  That's awful, right??  But will it matter a year from now?"

Annie: "YES it will matter a year from now!!  It will be my birthday again and I'll be worrying that you forgot!!!"

Love that girl!

Funny things the kids say December 2013

I was leaving Mackenzie to babysit the two little girls and Glory said "Mommy, I'll keep Mackenzie safe."  12.4.13

Me: Joey, I heard that it is supposed to snow tomorrow in Kitsap County! Wouldn't that be fun!

Joey: Well, Do we live in Kitsap County?


When Glory needs help she yells "Ayudame!"

Emily 22 months

While we were wrapping presents she saw something and asked "Is this Glory's?" and then went down the hall calling "Glory!" to get her sister and show her!  12.4.13

Words she uses:
Battery (Ba uh wee)
all the kids' names
cereal (sih wee uh)
Nice Job!
"Can you open this"

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I'm a Christmas Failure.

I come from a long line of Christmasy women.  

My Dad's mom is famous for her cooking, but especially her pies.  I remember walking into her home on Christmas Eve and being eye level with the long table, and just seeing rows of pies.  She would start a week ahead of time making pies. She passed away in 1986 and I can still taste her pecan pie.

My Mom's mom hosted Christmas every year.  Under her beautiful tree and in her immaculate house we would open many perfectly wrapped, perfectly chosen presents...then she would hand family members an envelope with their name - it contained each receipt with our name at the top of the receipt and the item circled, in case it didn't fit. We would retire to the dining room table set with her fine china and eat the most delicious meal ever created.  Her gravy had no lumps.  Her baseboards had no dust. Not a receipt misplaced. Not a gift lost in the back of her closet.

My Mom is the queen of Christmas decorations.  Some of my fondest Christmas memories are pulling out the brass angels and cleaning them before setting them out with red tapered candles, which had been lovingly stored 11 months prior. The bathrooms had matching Christmas towels. The ornaments on the tree sparkled in silver and peach.

And now my Step-mom, who joined the family 8 years ago, puts me to shame by mailing a humongous box of thoughtful and creative presents to my huge clan. They arrive already wrapped... in beautiful, diverse Christmas wrapping paper with bows and ribbons and ornaments decorating them.  The box normally arrives on our doorstep before I have thought of even one Christmas gift to send to Texas.

My cooking is bordering on lousy.
My organizational skills are laughable.
My house looks like a 5 year old decorated it.
I give awful gifts, and usually about 3 weeks late.

I have failed at Christmas!

I was remembering all of these wonderful, warm Christmassy memories last night and lamenting before The Lord that my children are going to have such strange and paltry Christmas memories, when mine are so rich and lavish, when mine are festive, red, and green!  (Sidenote: My Mother in Law also rocks Christmas - and any "normal" memories or traditions my children have are a result of her labor of love.)

And then The Lord transported my mind to the first Christmas.  

It was not red and green.

There were no red candles, no pecan pies, no beautiful wrapping paper, and no fine china.

But there were Angels Singing!  

Glory to God in the Highest!
Peace on Earth!

There was dust, just like my house!
There were poopy smells, just like my house!
Mary didn't fit into her clothes, just like me!
Their food was worse than mine!!

Christmas is a reminder that Emmanuel, God with Us, has come to Earth.  He came to save me from myself.  And He certainly came as a reminder that no matter how amazing my cooking, or shopping, or wrapping, or decorating is, I still need a Savior because I'm not good enough.

Even my Nana, Grandmother, Mom, and Step-Mom were never good enough.

But He is good.

And He is here. In my dusty, poopy, frumpy, lumpy house. 

And that makes this Christmas perfect.

Behold, my baby proof Christmas tree!  Not too shabby, thanks to my beloved husband and enthusiastic children!

Return to blogging?

So much has happened in the last 14 months since I signed in to Spaced Out House.  

These changes include but are not limited to...

We moved to a new rental home, with only 6 weeks notice

I discovered Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Nutritarianism (a mostly vegan diet, emphasizing leafy greens and beans)

We added another child to the home - Caleb - our 7th...and last?

I quit my fabulous part time job to be a full time (and awake) mom.

I think I originally quit blogging because I am singularly bad at taking pictures and uploading them to my computer.  I am hoping this Christmas to remedy that by getting a small plugin for my iPad.  ...but at the moment I have lost my digital camera.  Praying that it is found soon.  

Also, while I do desperately need accountability and inspiration for cleaning out my house, I am way too distracted a person to have a blog devoted only to that narrow topic.  I always have about 5 different things I'm excited about, and it's almost never the same 5 things.  So, I'm just going to blog about what is going on in my head, and in my house, and in my heart.  And if in the end this is simply an online journal, then so-be-it.  I've been using Facebook to that end in the past several years, but I am dubious as to my ability to retrieve all of those pictures and posts, so maybe this is a better idea in the end, although the audience may only be one!

Things that are currently on my mind, and may end up as blog posts:

-Our budget our expenses have increased while our income has decreased, what we are doing about it, and what leaps of faith we may take to solve it.

-More cleaning out.  We got rid of SO much stuff when we moved, but out closet space in our new house is significantly smaller, so we still have way too much.  At this moment I have 5 cardboard boxes and 2 laundry baskets full of homeless items in my very small bedroom.  Don't know what I'm gonna do about that, but surely it will be interesting!

-Weight loss and fitness journey....if there is one.  I'm currently bouncing up and down in 5 pound increments and procrastinating on actually breaking a sweat.  I'm paralyzed because we can't afford a gym membership and I generally loathe the outdoors in Washington.  But those are my excuses.  If I find a way to overcome them, that will be blog-worthy.  

My spiritual journey, child rearing, funny stories, et cetera!