Saturday, August 25, 2012

So Tiny~17.5 Weeks Ultrasound Pics

We had our ultrasound yesterday and I am constantly amazed at the technology.  How can they get pictures of so many different things when Baby is so little?  He/She weighed in at a whopping 7 ounces and it's femur measured only 2.5 cm long and yet it is perfectly formed!  In case you are wondering, we do know what we are having...we just aren't ready to share that information.



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Today's Goal: Kids Clothing Overhaul

While I have been thankful for our over-abundance of clothing while I have been sick and not doing laundry, now that I have it all washed and put away I am realizing just how much overkill it is.  We have far too many clothes to even really "fit" into the space God has provided for them.  I;m going to venture to say that the issue is not the storage space that has been provided for our family, but the fact that we have too much.  I am not going to mess with my clothes or Dan's today because mine right now includes several sizes and several seasons of maternity clothing which will naturally diminish over the next few months as this pregnancy progresses.  And my husband is not thrilled with the idea of me going through his clothes and I can respect that. I am going to tackle the kids' clothes.  I am going to keep out their summer wardrobes for a little longer.  But I am hoping to get that all sorted through and maybe make it to the garage and get their fall/ winter wardrobes ready to bring in in a month or so.  Below, you will find a list of what I am going to keep.

Boys (After Potty Training)

1 pr work/ play jeans
5 prs jeans/ cargo/ camo pants in decent condition
1 pr sweat pants
2-3 pr dress pants (black, tan, and maybe blue)
3 pr seasonally appropriate pajamas
2-3 pr shorts (summer)
5-7 dress shirts (button-up/ polo...seasonally appropriate)
7-10 shirts (tees or long sleeve tees)
1-2 dress sweaters
2 sweatshirts
a reasonable number of socks, underwear, and under shirts)

Before Potty Training: Same as above but with 2-3 more pants amd maybe a pair or two more pajamas

Girls (After Potty Training)

5 skirts for daily use
1 pr sweat pants
3 pr seasonally appropriate pajamas/ night gowns
3 "dressy" dresses
5-7 dresses
7-10 tops (seasonally appropriate)
2 sweatshirts
2-3 each pull over sweaters/ button up sweaters
5 pr neutral leggings for under dresses/ skirts
1 slip
a reasonable number of socks, underwear, under shirts, and tights)

Before Potty Training: Same as above but with 2-3 more skirts or dresses and maybe a pair or two more pajamas

How do you decide how many clothing items your family needs?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Menu Plan August 15-31

When I do my meal planning, I only plan dinners.  Usually breakfast is just cereal or bagels, waffles or fruit, etc.  I add those things along with lunch staples (or we have leftovers for lunch) to my shopping list, but I don't technically plan for them.

8/15-Chicken Scampi
8/16-Beef and Noodles in Gravy over Mashed Potatoes with a veggie
8/17-Hobo Casserole in Crock Pot
8/19-Leftovers (lunch with grandparents)
8/20-Tater Tot Casserole in Crock Pot
8/21-Ham, potatoes, veggie
8/22-Grilled Ham-n-cheese with Tomato Soup
8/23-Fast Casserole
8/24-Out to Eat
8/26-Picnic Lunch-Leftovers for Dinner
8/28-Roast Chicken
8/29-Chicken with white sauce and broccoli over pasta
8/30-Meatloaf in crock pot, potatoes, veggie

The days that are left blank are the days that we will be in PA.  For now, we are travelling to go to church and if there is something else going on in our extended family (like our nephew's first birthday party this weekend) we stay with Dan's mom for the weekend.  It really isn't ideal but it is the only choice we have until we can afford to move closer to family and church family.  Also, we are planning on going out to eat on the 24th because we have our ultrasound that day and it's a tradition to go out to eat to celebrate.  Hopefully in the next couple of days I will be able to get out and get my shopping done!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The First Day of School and Why a Schedule Should be on My Refrigerator and Not Just in My Head!

We started school officially yesterday!  Yay!  The plan ordinarily would be to wait until closer to the beginning of september, but with a baby due in the middle of the school year, we knew we would have to make up some time somewhere. 

This year, Alex is in second grade and Elizabeth, though only 4, is starting "kindergarten."  It didn't seem to make sense to do a preschool curriculum with her since so much of what is in a preschool curriculum is included in kindergarten as well.  We may take this slowly and make it last 2 years or we may just go at her pace and sort of forget grade levels.  We'll see!

The first day of school was NOT ideal.  We were all up and actually got school done for the day by 10 AM..then rushed out the door to head to my doctor's appointment.  There were good things to it, though.  I set the kiddos' new school supplies out by their seats at breakfast which inspired them to get to work quickly.  Once we were in town, they were able to spend an hour and a half at the park with my mom and then we had lunch at Chick-Fil-A.  So, it was made special even if chaotic.

Before I discovered that were going to be adding a baby to our family, we had gotten into a really good schedule.  Unfortunately, morning sickness has a way of allowing things to "just happen" and we are really suffering from the chaos recently.  I have been thinking a lot of how I want our schedule to work, but I haven't taken the time to actually put any of it on paper.  Needless to say, "mind schedules" don't work too well.  For one thing, I have enough on my mind that a lot of the time our schedule ends up pushed to the back amidst forgotten things like algebraic equations and the periodic table.  Also, even if I have an idea of how I want the day to go, no one else in the house does.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately sometimes?), none of them can read my mind.  So, in the next few days, I am hoping to set aside some time...maybe while my little ones get a firm schedule in place.  Wish me luck!

Where I have Been

Those of you who know me in the "real world" already know where I've been and what has been occupying my time.  But, this post is for those of you who don't know me apart from cyber-space and think I dropped off the face of the earth!

We were so thankful in early June to discover that we are expecting Baby #5!!!  We feel so amazed that God has chosen to bless us again, even while feeling overwhelmed.  The first couple of weeks after we found out that this baby is on his/ her way were wonderful, but soon the "morning sickness" hit...hard!  I'm not exactly sure who decided it should be called morning sickness, but I would like to meet them at about 4 in the afternoon during my first trimester!  For me, nothing helps to alleviate the nausea, although I.V. fluids do help the massive migrains I get from dehydration.  At 7 weeks, a perigestation hemorrhage was discovered and one doctor actually told me I had virtually no chance of keeping this baby.  We have had 3 ultrasounds now and are keeping a close eye on the bleed, but it seems to be shrinking and I am praying that it won't be visible during the next ultrasound at the end of the month.

So, here I am at almost 16 weeks, still nauseous, but able to eat willingly.  I lost about 30 pounds during the last two months, but my appointment with my OB/GYN yesterday showed that I weigh exactly the same as I did 3 weeks ago, so I am thinking that the worst is definitely behind me. 

My goals now include reclaiming my house (2 months worth of cleaning and organizing takes a while to catch up on!) and settling into our homeschooling routine!

What have you been up to for the last couple of months?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hello Again!

I will say that in one way, blogging has been calling to me and in another way, I have felt relief from using the internet at all.  I feel like right now, I can use the 'net sparingly enough that it doesn't overtake my life, but if it ever gets to that point again, I will most certainly pull the plug!  I have been so thankful to realize how much time I have wasted in trivial pursuits on the computer and by God's grace, there will be victory!  I am thankful to each of you, as well, who have continued to look at this blog even when I haven't been updating.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Always Changing!

Each time I decide to write a post, something changes and that particular post would be irrelevant!  That old country song that says, "the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes," had it right!  Today will probably be the last day we have internet at home.  We are giving up the landline in favor of cell phones (with our vehicles, we figure it would be dumb to give up the cell phones!), and along with that is our internet.  By doing this, we will save $60 a month.  Not a huge amount, but enough to make it worth the while.  I am going to have mobile web on my phone, but I'm not sure how that will work out for posting to the blog, so if it goes a while between posts, please bear with me.  And...I need your help.  In trying desperately to save money on an unemployment income, I am looking for your favorite frugal tips.  Just post them in the comment section!  I can't wait to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Am Spoiled!

Each and every day I am blessed, and yet days like today just make it seem so obvious!  The weather is gorgeous, the spring/winter clothing swap is completed and my house is in relative organization, school is over for the day...It's fantastic!  We have been spending a lot of time outside with equals longer, more peaceful sleep at night for the little ones.  The weather has been mild enough that I have been leaving the back door open and the kids can come and go as they please once school is done.  They are enjoying it immensely (and I am, too!).  I wish I had pictures to show of all the kids in cute little caps when we were going for a walk today-unfortunately, the camera's broken, so pictures will have to wait!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A New Way of Budgeting

With income the way it is for us right now-with Dan unemployed, but working pat time-we are never sure how much money we will have coming in in a given week.  This will continue even after he is driving dump truck and it has definitely been a learning experience so far!  We have known exactly how much he would bring home every two weeks for years, so this way of operating is completely different!

The question that keeps coming up is how can we budget for expenses for two weeks from now when we don't know how much money we will have in two weeks.  We don't really like the idea of just living week to week without any thought, and it doesn't seem like the wise thing to do.

So, our new plan as of April 1...on the first day of the month, we will deposit the previous month's income.  We can then budget very specifically what we will be able to do in that month as well as pay all bills at the beginning of the month.  We are excited about it because it takes a lot of the guesswork out of it all; but at the same time, it is a little bit scary, because we have never had to make money stretch for longer than two weeks, so we are going to be learning something completely new.  Wish us luck on this new endeavor.

Oh, and beginning in April, I'll be getting back to showing you our grocery shopping!

P.S. Here it is August and I still haven't gotten back to sharing our grocery shopping...hopefully soon!  And we also ended up deciding against doing a month's worth of budgeting at a time.  It just wasn't going to work out for us!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


By the title of my post and the fact that I am 100%, no-ifs-and-or-buts, pro-life, you might think that is where is this is heading.  Not this time.

Yesterday, I was blessed to be able to spend a few hours in town doing some grocery shopping and errands with just baby Emma.  A car with a non-working radio and a sleeping baby will give a person a lot of time to think.  And so my thinking brought me to this question.  Do we value anything?  I mean, material things.

I love to read about history and see how life was the same or different than it is today.  Obviously we have so much to be thankful for.  Our workload at its worst is nothing like what our great-grandmothers faced.  We have all sorts of mechanical servants to do the work for us.  We have easy access to town and all sorts of goods and services.

Bear with me as I take a look at my life and I would encourage you to do the same.  Let's start at the top of the driveway.  Well, there is all of the kids' things first of all.  You see, my children have ample time to play on the swingset, the trampoline, the zipline, ride bikes, etc.  Thay aren't required to work to help pay our living expenses.  And of course, they also have each other because there are no laws limiting how many children can be in this family and there aren't serious diseases surrounding us and taking the lives of our little ones.  Then there are our 3...yes, 3....vehicles.  Oh, they are all old, sure, but they get us from here to there and back again.  One of them is parked in our carport.  The back of the carport is our woodshed, filled with fuel to keep us warm this year and next.  On the other side of the driveway is the garage.  It, too, is full.  Behind it is the shed.  Inside it are extra dressers, chairs, etc.  No, my husband didn't have to spend back-breaking hours to get them or save for months to afford them.  In fact, we value them so little that they aren't even in our home.

Then you can walk in to our home.  There is the play room, where SOME of the toys are kept.  No more saving up for a special toy for us...afterall, we can hit the thrift shops and pick up something for each of the children for a quarter a piece.  Yes, it's convenient, but I have to think we are missing something by opperating this way.  Of course, there is the living room with all of the technological gadgets, a piano, and even a sewing machine.  I guess if I ever had to sew my own clothing, it's there.  For now, it's only for when I get creative in my spare time.  Step through my kitchen loaded with things we were able to purchase on a whim and you will be in our family closet.  It is once again time to switch out winter things for summer and so right now two wardrobes for each of us is filling that space.  But I don't need to limit what I have.  I can pick things up on clearance or second hand for such a small fraction of the retail price that I can have it ALL!  This of course continues in each room in our home.  Do you remember watching Little House on the Prairie?  They valued books.  They were expensive and hard to get and so dearly loved.  Not any more.  I have baskets of books in the kitchen, shelves in my room, they playroom, and boxes of them in storage.

So, I have to ask...Do we value anything?  I am seeing such and entitlement attitude and we are so quick to offer ourselves instant gratification.  I am not saying we should never have anything or that we should make everything ourselves just so we know what it's like.  What I am saying is that we should appreciate things.  Also, if we are going to bring something into our homes, we should value it.  We have enough stuff!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Williamsburg Vacation

We were on vacation in Williamsburg from February 18-25 for week 1 of the 2012 MOMYS Retreat and it was wonderful!  I wish I had photos to share, but our camera died and we haven't completely figured out how to get the few photos we did take off our phones.  I look forward to sharing more about our trip in upcoming posts!

Incompatable Views

If you believe that family planning is a personal choice to be made individually...

...then you cannot believe that the Bible gives us direction for all of life and contains solutions to all of life's problems.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Importance of Sleep in a Mama's Life

Several nights in the past few weeks have found me getting to sleep for more than three hours...something that hasn't happened since Alex was born almost 7 years ago.  I have been a much better mama on the days following those I still have not slept THROUGH the night, but it has been much better.  For so long, I have been wondering why it seems like I can never get enough energy, instead relying on Pepsi to perk me up.  I have been wondering, too, why I seem to "snap" at my husband or children so quickly, but now I am convinced that the main reason is that I wasn't getting enough sleep. I know this isn't exactly new information to many of us.  We all know that we need to get enough sleep, but somehow we think it's really not THAT important.  We would rather clean the house once the kids go to bed or watch a movie...or eat chocolate (is that just me?).  But please try getting more sleep if you are feeling like I had been for so long.  You will be amazed at the difference it makes!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Right Goals for the Wrong Reasons

Dan and I desire for each of our goals to be based in the Bible.  We want God's will to be our top priority and when we set goals, there is almost always a scripture that we can refer to in order to explain why we have set that goal.  However, over time, there is the possibility of sticking to a goal, but forgetting why we are doing it.

I want to be a good wife, but sometimes I fall into the trap of trying to do that without realizing that I am doing it to honor God.

When we started homeschooling, we did it because we believe that the Bible mandates it, but getting the Bible into little hearts and minds hasn't taken top priority in our days.

Dan desires to be a leader in our home, but sometimes he can get caught up in it all and forget that he cannot do it without the Lord's help.

I don't want to get angry, but I find myself thinking about other Christians whom I admire and not the Biblical references for that goal.

I am trying to love my children completely in order to have their hearts, and to show them my love and appreciation on a daily basis, however there are many times when I find myself following advice from a secular magazine to do that without following God's plans.

I am prayerful that I will be more aware of the whys behind the hows.  Don't try to be like me and I won't try to be like you...let's all try to be more Christ-like instead.  The Bible has all we need to know how to live a godly life...let's follow it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Movie You Need to Watch

Do you know what the state of parental rights is like in America NOW?  Are you concerned?

Lay Off Update

Dan's temporary lay-off is no longer temporary.  We are so thankful for the job that is already lined up for him once spring comes.  I told before how very stressful a lay-off can be, but this one is much more fun.  Until then, I am grateful for unemployment insurance!

Friday, February 17, 2012


...we woke up with a plan.  We were going to go get anti-freeze to try to get Dan's truck to quit overheating.  Then, Dan was going to load up the dog and take him to his mom's house for her to watch while we are on an up coming trip.  When he got there, his brother would bring him home (the truck would stay at his mom's) and they would work on his brother's car.  This is how the day really played out...

Dan's brother let us know that he wouldn't be able to come down because his little boy is sick.  So, we decided that I would take the kids to visit my parents in the van (which has blown fuses or something and none of the interior lights work, the clock doesn't stay set, etc) and Dan would top off the radiator, thinking that maybe when he put the new one in he didn't put enough antifreeze in it, load up the dog, pick up some more antifreeze and head to PA to meet us for dinner.  I did not feel like driving as I'd had a rough night, but somehow I made the hour long trip without killing us all.  My consolation was that Daniel would be driving on the way home and I wouldn't have to drive both directions!  I hadn't been at my parents' house long when Dan called and said the truck was overheating and they couldn't get it cooled down.  Now they are thinking it's the water pump and he is going to borrow a friend's truck to bring the dog up.  The same amazing friend offers to fix Dan's truck while we are in PA and we can pick the truck up on the way through in the evening.

Eventually, Tater (the dog) makes it to Nanny's house and Dan joins us for dinner.  Before we leave, Dan gets a call to say that the auto parts store didn't have the right water pump in stock and so the truck isn't going to be ready afterall.  We start off for home, me in the van with the kids and Dan in the borrowed pick up, rain and fog all around us.  My cell phone was dead, but Dan had his almost-dead one.  When he got part way home, my parents called and said that something was leaking under the van and there is a rainbow running down their driveway.  As soon as he hangs up with them, another friend who had been without a car and borrowing Dan's work car, called to tell him that the car was broken down in the Rite Aid parking lot. 

We met and returned the borrowed truck, picked up the keys to the work car, and made our way to Rite Aid.  Yep, sure enough, the car starts and sounds fine, but when it's put in gear it doesn't go anywhere. No funny noises when it's put in gear, though, which we are thinking is a good thing.  Dan calls our auto club from Rite Aid because now his cell phone is dead, too.  Then he waits for a tow truck while I head home.  Alex and Elizabeth enjoyed watching the tow truck drop off Daddy's car!  Dan checks the transmission fluid and finds it almost empty, but we all decide that tomorrow is another day.

So, here I am at almost 6 in the morning and I wonder what today will hold.  So much to do and so little time!

I am thankful though, for the opportunity to put into practice one of our goals as a make our reaction to a situation count.  Will our kids remember all that went wrong yesterday?  Maybe, but they surely would remember it if we exploded in anger and frustration.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Things that the parents of large families hear...that aren't true~

"You must be so patient, organized, etc." (Nope!  Although after a few kids, organization becomes necessary and patience is learned through trial)
"That's fine for you.  Your kids are just naturally better behaved than mine."  (Not naturally.  We work hard on that.  If we trust that what the Bible says about procreation is still applicable then we have to trust what it says about training our children.)
"Well, we know what your pastime is!" (Honestly!  If we have 10 children that only necessarily means we have been intimate 10 times-or less if there are any multiples.)
"Well, I know what the Bible says, but that is so Old Testament."  (Look that up again!)
"Times have changed."  (That may be true, but God doesn't change.  His word is applicable in all cultures in all times and the only way that a command can be forgotten is if He specifically says it can or changes it.  Do you all have a different Bible than I do?  Maybe yours has a Modern Testament!)
"Some people can just handle a lot of kids.  I'm not one of them."  (Once again, God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.  Being able to handle it comes after the kids come.)
"The world is over-populated!"  (Says who?  I have some statistics on that if you would like them.)
"There isn't enough food in the world.  How dare you take more than your share!"  (Once again, that is something that is false but deserves more space than I have here.)
"Obviously you don't have any consideration for the earth God made us stewards of."  (I do indeed!  I believe that we are called to be good stewards, but we can't use one command to over-rule another.)
"Sex wasn't created for procreation."  (Uh...yeah it was, although that wasn't the only purpose of it.)
"You must have a ton of money...or live off the government, "system", church, etc."  (No, but God can provide all that we need!)
"You must have a huge house!"  (Not at all.  I have a little house filled with lots of precious people, not a big house with few people!)
"The world is so bad off, you can't consider bringing children into it!"  (The only way the world will change is through the people in it.  People got us to this point and the people who are not yet born are the only ones who have the ability to change it.)
"My quiver is full with my two!"  (Says who?  Did you know that at the time the Bible was written most quivers held an average of 12 arrows?  They did however vary.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Movies we have been watching lately

We have been blessed to see some wonderful movies lately.

The Moore family has 3 movies that we have really enjoyed lately.

Vision Forum always has wonderful movies but the 3 we have been watching lately are Agenda, Divided, and Indoctrination.  We are finding that documentaries are a powerful tool.

We also watched Courageous.  And if you haven't seen it, please do.

A lot of conservative families like ours do away with the TV completely, but we are so thankful for the encouragement and education we receive from quality movies!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Life is a Winding Road

I am thinking today about the way life twists you around.  One day you are certain you are going one direction and then life happens and all of a sudden you are going somewhere completely different.  Daniel and I will be married 7 years in April.  We met in June of 2003.  I was 14, he was 17.  I wanted to be "the first honest journalist" and he wanted to be an actor.  Those who actually know us now might find that a little surprising.

In the beginning, of course, we didn't talk too much about where we wanted to be in the future, how many children we wanted, etc.  We were certainly too young to be discussing things like that.  In March (I think) of 2004, Daniel wrote me a letter telling me about a vision he had for the future.  "A big brick house on a hill, with a barn, and a pond, and a white picket fence, and a yard full of kids."  I still didn't want any children...wouldn't they get in the way of a career?  Life happened and love happened.

 Daniel graduated at the beginning of June and made plans to move to Florida to pursue an acting career.  I was devastated.  Then at the same time I found out I was pregnant.  Daniel still left.  For over 2 months, I split my time between throwing up and trying to figure out what to make of our relationship.  Then hurricane Charlie hit the area where Daniel was staying with a vengeance.  He still says that God had to use something really big to get his attention.  Soon afterward, he was helping with the clean-up efforts and ended up at a church being held in a movie theater.  He was talking with someone when they mentioned what a blessing children are.  A few days later, he was home.

Life was still very difficult for us.  I didn't know if I could ever trust him again and neither of us were sure we were ready to grow up.  My mom owned a house in Oldtown, Maryland and we could live there, so Daniel started looking for work in Cumberland.  I started making wedding plans and worked on completing high school through a correspondence homeschool program.  Daniel got a job at Lowe's making a little over $6 an hour.

Alexander was born on March 4, almost exactly a year after that letter had been written, and we were married 6 weeks later.  I am still so thankful for the "real" wedding my parents gave me even though nothing in our situation was real.  Everyone knows that marriage is hard and that was definitely the case for us.  I was 16 and Daniel was 19, he worked crazy hours, I didn't have a driver's license, and we had a newborn.  I am so in awe of the fact that we are still together today.  Slowly, life happened.

We shared our hearts and argued like crazy over the future.  I was the one now who wanted a yard full of kids....Daniel said we were done.  I wanted to homeschool....he worried about socialization and sports.  But God had begun to get a hold of our hearts right before we were married and the longer we were married, the more we fell in love with God and each other and things fell in to place.  We made the decision to do things God's way.  We diligently studied the Bible and even though we knew we were going to be viewed as extremists, we knew we had to change some things.  We decided to let the Lord fill our quiver in His time with as many arrows as he desired to give us and that we would truly be the ones training up our children by homeschooling them.  A host of other decision followed.

That job at Lowe's only lasted a year because we hadn't yet learned the importance of diligence and Daniel missed days on a whim frequently.  Next he worked at Fibred (a soy fiber processing plant) for a year until he was laid off.  During that lay-off, he was a camp counselor and worked for UPS.  Soon, I was pregnant with Elizabeth, and he found a temporary to full time job at a factory that made hydraulic oil filters.  That job lasted a year (until right before I got pregnant with Aaron) and then he was back at Fibred.  Since then he has gotten laid off several times, the longest time being this past summer (right before Emma was born).  During that lay-off a dear friend of ours let Daniel work for him cutting firewood for his business and offered to train Daniel to do his dream a truck.  In this case it is a tri-axle dump truck.  But for now the work isn't steady because of the time of year.  So he has been working at Fibred and driving dump truck on his days off.

Today Daniel called home to tell me that he is getting laid off again, starting next Friday.

So, life twists around yet again.  Now we are the parents of 4 children and pray that the Lord will see fit to bless us again and trusting that He will supply all that we need.  It isn't easy but the rewards are so very worth it.  The fact that even though Daniel will be laid off he will still have another job to go to is evidence of that very thing.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Portfolio Review

Today was our mid-year home school portfolio review.  I always get nervous, but this time it was better.  I always worry that we aren't doing everything they think we should be doing.  Alex really struggles with reading, but excels in math.  All around me, though, it seems there are first graders reading at college level (okay that might be stretching it a bit).  I was thankful that my reviewer seemed very comfortable with the level of reading he is doing and reassured me by telling me that no one likes math and reading.  All kids like one or the other and most children don't enjoy math to the extent that he does.  It is always good to hear that you are doing a good job...even if the opinion of the public school system usually doesn't matter to me in the least.  Now I am feeling a renewed zeal to get back to school tomorrow!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Clothing the Family part 5


Have you ever heard a child asking you where his shoes are exactly two seconds before you need to leave for an appointment?  Well, ours ask no longer.

Almost two years ago, I told Daniel that I would like him to build me something to keep all the coats and shoes organized, but he's pretty creative and so he outsourced it!

Now we have a set of four school-type lockers in our...umm...front-porch-sunroom-playroom-thing.  Yeah, you heard me. (Once again, the small-ness of the room is the reason for the weird angles).  This is just to the left of the door into the living room.

The children pile all their shoes in the bottom (the downfall is squashed dress shoes occasionally).  Their coats get hung on the hooks inside.

To the right of the living room door, I keep a reusable grocery bag with all of the hats and gloves.  Elizabeth's dress coat is hanging there, too, because it's not an option for every day use.

Mama and Daddy keep our shoes in stack-able bins just inside the front door and our coats on a wall-mounted coat rack behind the living room door.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Photos from The Wild Side

Clothing the Family part 4


Now, there is a word to make every mama of a larger than average size family run in terror.  Not the MOUNTAIN!  I can usually keep from being completely buried by laundry mountain.  I have tried all sorts of different schedules, routines, etc.  But I am trying to simplify my life, so this is when I do laundry...when it needs done.  Shocking, I know.  One thing (which my mother hates) that I have found to make laundry so much easier is that I quit sorting our laundry.  I can hear you gasping for breath now!  No organized piles of towels, whites, darks, and lights?  Nope...Not most of the time, anyway.  I have gotten pretty used to less than perfectly white socks.  I don't wear socks and most of the time you can't see anyone else's socks.  It might be a  big problem for your family if you all like the grandpa look of shorts and tube socks.  I do like to take some time every once in a while (when I have the time) to sort laundry like a bona-fide June Cleaver.  But between regular laundry for all of us and cloth diapers, I've got bigger fish to fry than gray undies.  I try to do a load of laundry in the morning and hang it on the line over our woodstove in the winter or outside in the summer.  If there is a lot of laundry to do, I'll do one more mid-day.  If not, then in the evening I hang up another load and let it dry till I am up and ready to hang out the first load in the morning.  Diapers get done every other day unless we've had a particularly stinky day, then it gets done the same day.  I try to have all my laundry caught up on Saturday, so that I don't have to mess with it on Sundays.  (Didn't happen this week, by the way.)  At least once a day I put laundry away because that is a job I hate to do and if I let 4-5 loads of laundry pile up, it takes forever!  How do you take care of laundry at your house?

P.s.  We make our own laundry soap and don't use fabric softener.  Next: Outerwear.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Fun Day and What We Learned from the Wealthy

I do want to touch on a few other topics regarding clothing the family before I move on to some other practical household things, but for now there is something else I want to share.

Yesterday Daniel ended up staying home because I woke with a terrible migraine.  Thankfully, after a couple of hours more sleep it was all but gone and we decided to spend the day doing something fun.  After checking out the options online, we decided to hit up The Wild Side at Nemacolin Woodlands.  It was to open at 1 and we arrived at 2:30 with the doors still locked.  Up we drove to the 5 Star resort to see what was going on.  The valet informed us that regardless of what the sign on the door and the website said, they didn't open The Wild Side until 4 in the winter.  So we had an hour and a half to wait.  The valet said he would be happy to park our car so that we could walk through the resort and check out the shops inside, the restaurants, ice cream parlors, massive fish tanks, etc.  I balked at the idea because it was just plain embarrassing.  It's one thing to spend an afternoon bowling and eating pizza, but being in such a high-class establishment just made me queasy!  Daniel and the kids thought it was a wonderful idea, though, so with our van being safely parked among the BMWs and Cadillacs, we wandered through the huge resort.  I was feeling so self-conscious and was tempted to feel sorry for myself that the way of life there was nothing like what I have.  Then, Aaron (who had been holding my hand) spotted his daddy up ahead of him.  "Da da!" he cried and ran for Daniel.  Dan picked up his boy and turned to look at me.  "We're richer than anyone else here," he said.  And he was right.

We eventually did get to the Wild Side and had a great time.  But my favorite memory by far is the look of a love-struck daddy holding a little boy who looked at him like he hung the moon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Clothing the Family part 3

The Family Closet

We've had a family closet for about a year now and I love it!  Now, when I say family closet, please don't get visions of the Duggars' ultra-organized, all-matching closet.  I don't have my own TV show (nor do I want one) or an abundance of money.  What I did have was a little bit of unused space.  We call the family closet "the back porch".  It is a small addition that was built to house our propane powered hot water heater, a propane powered dryer and a few shelves of food when my grandparents owned the house.  It opens off our kitchen out the original back door.

The space is tiny.  I took a few photos, but because the room is so small, the angles are kind of odd.

Like I said, it may not be beautiful, but it works.  This room also ends up sharing space with many other things.  Notice the coloring books, 50 lb bag of potatoes (this room is always cool, so it's a perfect spot for those), and Big Daddy pizza box! The big black buffet also houses school supplies and the space on the floor under it has come in handy for a plethora of things, from clothing in transition to or from the garage to extra toilet paper.  On the end of the room that I didn't photograph is our water heater, a few storage boxes, mops, and an upright freezer.

For me, this was really the only way our house could "work" efficiently.  There isn't enough space in the bedrooms for dressers (and our room is the only one with a closet).  Besides that, when does a busy mom have time to put away clean clothes except when little ones are asleep...and if they are asleep, the last thing a busy mom wants to do is to wake them up putting away clothing in their rooms!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Clothing the Family part 2

Know your shops

It is important to know which shops to look at for which items and as you spend time in them, this becomes apparent quickly.  In Cumberland (the nearest town, about 15 miles away) there is only an over-priced kids' resale shop and a Goodwill.  The kids resale shop is good for big items as a last resort, shoes, and their clearance section.  They also offer 20% off if you bring in their reusable shopping bag to bag your purchases.  The Goodwill is really only good for books.  Most of the clothing there isn't in very good repair, although there are always exceptions to the rule.  I also don't like to pay what they ask.  Not that it isn't cheap, but it just isn't cheap enough for me.

LaVale also has a Goodwill, but the selection isn't really any better than the one in Cumberland.

Grantsville (about 30-40 miles away) has a kids resale shop that is ridiculously over-priced, but that offers new toys at reduced prices (think EBay prices).  They also have a community run thrift shop with reasonable prices (and a 50% off sale the first weekend of October) and a Goodwill that always has a decent amount of conservative ladies and girls clothing because of the large population of conservative Christians in the area.

Occasionally, we go to the interfaith coalition thrift shop in Hancock because their daily specials are a good deal.  Last time we were there, men's dress shirt were $5 a bag.  We have also found some large items there and a wide variety of household items.  But, they are over an hour away.  It's also close to a nice Goodwill.

Our favorite thrift shop in in Romney, WV (approximately 30-35 minutes away). We always come away with good deals there.  The single most expensive thing I've bought there was a crib for $5.  Most clothing items are 25 cents to $3.  Books, games, shoes, housewares, etc usually don't top $1.  The staff there is also extremely helpful.  They will negotiate prices with you and offer advice (like to shop Tuesday mornings during yard sale season for the best selection of baby and kids items).  The Goodwill there is pretty good there, too.

I know that some Salvation Army stores offer 50% off on Wednesdays.

As you endeavor to save money while clothing your family, you will learn the best way to shop the stores near you.  Next time...The Family Closet.

Clothing the Family part 1

Resale shopping-Before you go

The single most important preparatory thing before you set out on a used clothing shopping trip is to make a list!

I keep my list in the back of my planner.  I keep items categorized by household, baby, or the person the item is needed for.  These are not just immediate needs, but things that my family is going to need in several months and sometimes even in a year or two in the case of winter coats and items of that sort.  The only way that we can effectively be good stewards of what we are given is to plan ahead and to know what we already have.  All of the kids clothing that is not being used right now is stored in our garage and every couple months I go out and put things away and make notes on my list according to what I have purchased.

A quick tip:  If you are a skirt wearing family, you probably know the frustration of purchasing a skirt or dress for your daughter that looked plenty long enough in the store and getting it home only to find out that it's way too short.  For this reason, I make a note on my list as to the minimum length a skirt can be from waist to hem or a dress from shoulder seam to hem and take my cloth measuring tape with me.  That way, I can avoid buying things that Elizabeth won't be able to wear.  (Emma has to minimum length right now-that will come once she is walking.)

Next time:  Knowing your stores.

For more large family clothing inspiration check out what the 4 moms are talking about...

How much did I spend?

How much did I spend?  Well, all 9 pairs are from Payless and the original retail price would have come to $166.32 including tax.  I spent...$41.34.  Right now, Payless is having their BOGO 1/2 off sale.  If you hit that sale on the first day, there are some deals to be had.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to find quality shoes resale and so I am resorting to this.  That comes to $4.59 per pair.  When I go to Kids Korner for shoes like I did last week, I usually spend from $3-$5 a pair.  So this is a wise investment for our family.

Friday, January 13, 2012

January Grocery Shopping

On Wednesday, I loaded up all 4 children in the rain and we went shopping.  This is what we came home with...

2 dozen eggs
3 gallons milk
5 qt bucket of ice cream
romaine lettuce
2 cucumbers
2 lb mini cut carrots
1 lb hot dogs
2 cans refrigerated biscuits
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
(2) 32 oz containers yogurt
15 oz ricotta
1 lb hot pepper cheese
4 lb shredded cheddar
3.5 lb deli lunch meat
12 tomatoes
2 lb margarine
1 lb shredded mozzarella
2 big bunches bananas
3 loaves of bread
3 bags salad mix
baby cereal
saltine crackers
2 lb frozen hash browns
50 lb potatoes
2 lb brown sugar
4 pkg taco seasoning
2 pkg fajita seasoning
1 huge box vanilla wafers
potato chips
8 jars baby food
1 pt peach butter
40 kitchen size trash bags
economy dish soap
cheese sandwich snack crackers
imitation vanilla
4 cans mandarin oranges
3 cans crushed pineapple
2 cans cream of celery soup
chocolate syrup
Parmesan cheese
64 oz juice
2 boxes cereal
tortilla chips
6 lb pasta
paper towels
baby wipes
2 bars soap
2 cans spaghetti sauce
bulk unflavored gelatin
1 can pizza sauce
2 cans evaporated milk
1 pt cherry butter
bulk peach gelatin
bulk lemon gelatin
2 bags bulk italian dressing mix
bulk baking powder
2 huge boxes of diapers
3 juice boxes
1 pt chocolate milk
and an RC Cola (16 oz)

...For a grand total of $209!

Of course, we'll still have milk, bananas, etc to purchase throughout the month, but that's the majority.  I have meals planned through about February 12th.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm Guilty

I am guilty of not always using the resources I have at hand with wisdom and discretion.  I am guilty of not always giving what is required of me.  I am guilty of feeling justified in foolishness.  But I am on a mission to change that.  I kept track of our spending for the past three months (and I will continue to do so) and I have found some things that I need to change.  Probably the biggest thing is that I have not been wise with my grocery budget.  I think I have spent roughly double what I need to.  So, my new goal is to spend about $75 per week.  I already have a freezer and pantry filled with pork, beef, chicken, fruit slush, applesauce, green beans, green peppers, tomatoes, corn, peaches, pears, apples juice, cherries, cherry juice concentrate and strawberries.  There is no reason I should spend more than $75 per week when I am really only supplementing the basics which are already stockpiled.  However, I like to do most of my grocery shopping for a month at one time, so in the next couple of days I am on a mission to spend no more than $300 for the coming month and I am hoping to come in under budget.  That amount will have to include household items as well, but I use cloth diapers most of the time, clean with baking soda and vinegar, and don't wash my hair every day, so those things should be minimal.

The other issue that I have found is that I am way behind in stocking up on clothing for my growing brood.  I too often only buy what I think will fit them in the next six months or so.  Recently there have been many times that they have grown into a new size "all of a sudden" and I am without what we need.  So, I end up spending more money than necessary at the last minute.  So, I am going to hit a couple of the best thrift shops in the next couple of weeks and begin to remedy that problem as well.

I have been pleasantly surprised in other areas, though.  I have seen improvement in the amount of money we spend on snacks and drinks when we stop to buy gas.  There has also been improvement in the amount that we shell out for meals away from home (even though the last couple of weeks would show otherwise).  So this experiment has proved very valuable.  Now, if you'll excuse me....I'm off to figure out the budget for the next two weeks.  IF we can get through them without any cars breaking down (which would be a MIRACLE) we should be okay...Lord Willing!