Thursday, May 28, 2009

My colorful family

I guess I've forgotten to remember that there is anything unusual about my family, in fact the other day I was looking in the rear view mirror thinking about the similarities and differences in the way my kids look for a few minutes before it dawned on me that they do not share the same genes! :)

So it was in that same mindset that I had a good laugh the other day. I was standing in the baby section in Walmart looking over some jammas, and having a hard time finding what I was looking for. I noticed that there was a lady less than ten feet from us open jaw staring (I kid you not). So I thought to myself, wow I must be doing such a great job parenting these fussy toddlers, she's amazed at my paitence with my children, I swear that wishful thought really went through my head :). But then she continued to stare and I started to think for sure I had some huge bugger or something else hideous on my face, I proceeded to wipe all over my face trying to feel what it could be that was causing such attention. It wasn't until the staring went past a full minute or two that it dawned on me that she's staring at the different colors God has used to make our family. I started laughing out loud right there in Walmart, I should have known that my parenting would never make anyone's jaw drop! :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summertime*

*I must admit that as I type that word, I immediately begin singing the song, "Summertime", by Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, just in case you too wanted to get in the mood.*


It's officially here, Summer. That time of year when you pick up your kiddos and smell that wonderful sunblock smell. If they made a kid's sunblock perfume, I would buy and wear it all summer long. We've already had our first sunburns, me, Kyle, and I'm embarrased to say Kylynn, although hers was very mild. We've been to the pool twice and were pleasantly surprised to see that this is going to be the year of the pool. Both times, both kids loved! it. Kylynn has previously found the pool too boring and simple for her ever moving self, so this was a very pleasant surprise.

I busted out my calendar today and saw that low and behold our summer is already almost completely filled up, so much so that I think I might long for a lazy summer day (I know I'll soon eat my words). We've got some vacations, some weekend trips, and I have my (rescheduled) cruise to look forward to.

We lived outside this past month, but I know that soon that will be over as the true heat will find us and make outdoors sadly unbearable. It was fun while it lasted. When living outside one, eats outside. The other night we had ribs and asparagus on the grill, Kylynn loved the ribs, ate them better than I do, and Jack loved the asparagus (ok, so he didn't eat any but he had fun playing with it).

video video

So now as always at the beginning of summer I'm looking forward to all it will hold, come July I'll be longing for Christmas and come Christmas I'll be longing for summer! :)

I'm back

Not sure exactly what happened last week, I have no real excuse, I just didn't turn on my computer. But I'm back now and will be sure to keep the blogging more regular.

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While not having the computer on, I pretended I was crafty and we made pine cone bird feeders.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Rules

Ok, so you want to have a financial fast of your own. You know you do, think of the great conversations you'll have at dinner parties! Well here are the rules (and yes I realize it is pretty self explanatory, but I love rules!)

"1. The fiscal fast should be at least one full week in length, with the starting and ending times determined in advance.
2. Everyone in the family should play. If everyone is not playing, nonplayers are prohibited from interference of any kind.
3. In regulation play, ALL SPENDING IS PROHIBITED, regardless of type of expense (e.g., food, clothing, entertainment, routine bills, commuting cost) or form of payment (e.g. cash, check, charge card, debit card). However some families may choose to establish agreed-upon exceptions before starting the fast. For example, commuting costs for working adults or writing a check for the mortgage.
4. No hoarding in advance! Intentionally stockpiling extra food and other supplies prior to the fiscal fast is strictly prohibited. Topping off the gas tank in the family car prior to the start of play is generally permitted.
5. In order to benefit fully from a fiscal fast, during the fast keep a household diary in which all players are required to make at least a short daily entry regarding:
*Challenges of getting through the day without spending money
*An estimate of how much money they would have normally spent that day, and on what
*An observation (positive or negative) about their fiscal fasting experience that day."
-The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches, by Jeff Yeager

Here are some websites referenced throughout the book:
www.bakingsodabook.co.uk
www.NewDream.org
www.ConsumerReports.org
www.newroadmap.org / www.yourmoneyoryourlife.org
www.UltimateCheapskate.com

And finally one final quote from the book,
"Yes, we are cheap, but we are generous, kind and happy because of it. We refuse to spend our time making moneyvso that we can buy things we don't want or need, particularly when so many others have so very little. Our lives and our time are more precious than that. We are cheap, but we are proud...and we are cool."-Jeff Yeager

*If you're doing a fast of your own, I'd love to hear about it, leave a comment or email me..maybe next year we can all co-ordinate our fast, oh yes next year!


Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's day, to all of us

Do you see my new picture in my blog title.

That's Jack's foster Mom holding him. Do you see the way her hand is gripping his arm. Do you see the way he's looking up at her.

I am there, in fact I took the picture sitting across the table from them. At that moment, the moment the picture was snapped, it is clear who is the mother.

As far as his foster mom was concerned and as far as Jack was concerned, she was his Mommy in that moment.

I wanted to use that picture because when I look at it I see the beauty of adoption.

It's complicated, there are steps you have to go through, there are so many people involved, there are mixed emotions then and years down the road for many of the participants.

And yet, it's simple. Jack's mother gave birth to him, she loved him the best way she knew how and decided to place him with a family that she could not give him. Jack's next mother took him home from the hospital and cared for him, dealing with the stresses of feeding a baby with a cleft lip and palate, caring for him through surgery, loving him fully. Jack's final mother went to Korea to find her son, I watched as he cried for the mother that was now gone and I earned his trust and love, I allowed him to steal my heart, experiencing a new love I had never known.

We are all three his mother. When I grief for the mothers Jack has lost, no matter how hard I try, I cry for her. The one in the picture holding him like that. She was perhaps the bravest of us all, she loved Jack, her son for a brief moment, as much as she loved her children.

Happy Mother's day, to all the mothers, the ones who give birth to their children even when everyone else tells you that it would just be easier to "have it taken care of", to the mothers who bring children into their homes to raise as their own even though they know in the end they will experience heart break, and to the mothers who are bold enough to trust God when He nudges you down the path of adoption. The Lord will make your path straight before you and along the way you will find blessings you never dreamed of.

Lessons learned

So we've finished our financial fast and it was overall a positive experience. It was not earth shattering but I think it is something we will add to our lives and do at least once a year. Here's what we learned about ourselves.

*We have a budget, split up into several catergories, and we even record everything we buy. However that does no good if we don't add it up as we go along so we know at the end of the month, this trip to Kroger can only be for 50$ or less. That is how we went over by such a huge amount more than once.

*I feel good about myself as the homemaker when my refrigerator is full of food. I also feel the need to replace everything once it runs out. We learned that it is worthwhile to put milk on the list when it runs out, not worthwhile to put almonds on the list when they run out, just buy almonds next time you need them.

*I have lost my love of cooking and creating food due to the sheer exhaustion I feel at the end of the day after caring for my children. When I take a 10 min. break of time just for me when Kyle comes home, I can cook a meal and have fun doing it.

*We often refer to ourselves as frugal and comparatively speaking we are, certainly we are savers. But on the rare occasions we go shopping for something other than food and on all trips to the grocery store we spend money as if it has no end, we do not stop and think through our purchases the way we should.

*When it comes to fun activities and family time, we're already really good at finding free activites, in fact I think 85% or more of everything we do as a family is free.

*It was really not a big deal or an embarrassment to say to our friends, sorry we're not going to buy anything we're doing a financial fast. In fact we've heard from more people about how neat they think it is....

And on that note why don't you give it a try. Come on you can do it, it doesn't have to be for 2 weeks like ours 1 week works great. I guarantee you there is a lot to learn about the value you place on money, where you could cut back, and the amazing family time you miss out on when activities always involve the wallet.

Check back in a couple of days and I'll post the rules!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Week 2

Ok so here's the rundown for our second and final week of the financial fast, as suggested in the wonderful book, The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches.

Friday- Jenny sees in the paper that tonight is First Friday in downtown Bryan, this is an event that they hold mainly to get you to spend money at one of the stores or restaurants located there, BUT it says that it has a free showing of Mary Poppins at the outdoor theater at 6 pm. Jack is fussy, so I send Kyle and Kylynn on a daddy/daughter date. Turns out the movie didn't start till 8:30, the event started at 6 (opps!). But they manage to have fun, lots of it without spending money. Kylynn dances to the music they have playing, one of the stores gives her a shiny piece of glass, and another store gives her a free cookie, and she found a "stone" on the ground-she is very proud of this. Plus, she loved the first 30 minutes of the movie. I got a night alone...priceless :)

Saturday-Kyle had previously (before we decided to do the fast) decided to do a charity bike ride. So he begins the day by paying his fee, but it's for charity so we still haven't broken our rules. However at the last minute a friend of Kyle's decided to come and do the ride with him and we decided that we just couldn't explain to him after 40 miles of riding why we had to scrounge for food at the house. So we officially broke our rules and went out to lunch. We got back on the fast wagon though and that afternoon continued looking at homes (for free) in the Parade of Homes. We packed the car up with snacks and drinks and all had a great time.

Sunday-Church is free, good. Took naps/mowed the lawn depending on who you are. Kyle says what he really wants to do is go to the pool. Yeah! We can do that, it's open, and I have a pass I bought in 2007 that still has 10+ visits left on it (they let you keep using it, I asked). So we went to the pool for free and had the best time we've ever had there. Both kids loved every minute and we spent almost 2 hours there, brought our own snacks, and even rode our bikes there and home.

Monday-The kids are continuing to drive me nutty. I decide to take them on a walk and to make it more fun let Kylynn push her stroller while I carry Jack in the carrier. Very bad idea (but free), Kylynn cannot walk nearly as far as I thought and this is going to be a long day! I am at the end of my rope with figuring out what to cook from the things in the house and both Kyle and I are generally hungry after 1.5 weeks of not eating as much as we're used to. Kyle gives me a great idea and I run with it, we end up having our best meal since the fast began, even cookies for dessert. It feels so good to eat a real meal again.

Tuesday-Go to the park for lunch with daddy, always fun for all of us. Kyle however doesn't want the lunch I packed because alas, he has gotten pizza from work (free to him). I realize that this financial fast is much harder on a stay at home mom than it is for a working dad, at least in regards to finding ways to eat up all the odd food (he is often saved from his strange lunch by a lunch work provides). Play with friends in the afternoon, one of our favorite free activities.

Wednesday-I am inspired by my positive experience with the dinner Monday night and think of lots of fun ideas for today. We go to the (open) library, have a great time. Come home and eat a good lunch. After nap we play in our baby pool in our backyard, which is placed so that Kylynn can use her playground to slide into it. When that becomes old we play with the art easel (which we saved from someone's trash). We have a great day! Funny I finally feel like I'm getting in the groove and enjoying this now that it's over.

Next: The rules for your own fast (according to the book) and what we gained from the experience.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quotes of the day



I'm cleaning our bathroom, Kylynn walks into the room:
"Mommy, why are you cleaning the bathroom?"
"Because it's dirty"
"But, who is coming over Mommy?"
Ahh..she knows me well, for once I was just cleaning b/c it needed to be done though. :)

Daddy telling Kylynn goodnight says the good ole:
"Goodnight, don't let the bed bugs bite and if they do, get a shoe, and beat them till their black and blue"
Kylynn in a paniced voice, "What BIG BUGS, where are they!!?!"

Friday, May 1, 2009

Three sisters


There is something else I hate, swine flu.

Why? Because I love my sisters. I love them more easily and freely than anyone else in this world. Our bond is absent of the complications found with parents, spouses, and children. They have always been in my life, always been my friend, and most of all have always made me laugh.

We are suppossed to go on a cruise, just the three of us, and you guessed it, it's suppossed to have a stop in Mexico. So far cruises identical to ours have been cancelled, we probably won't know our fate until the last minute.

The fact that it's a cruise we're going on is just a bonus, what I have been longing for is the adventure, the experience, the three of us all grown up alone for 4 days. We spent countless hours alone just the three of us growing up, more than we often wanted I'm sure, but something happens when you grow up. First you leave so that seeing each other is no longer life but a visit. Then other people are added to the equation so that you cannot remember the last time you were allowed to be together without a parent, husband or child along for the ride. It's just the way life goes, you have to stop and pay attention and plan for anything different to happen.

So my sister did, she planned it out, made the arrangements got everything taken care of, I didn't even have to do a thing (how our roles have changed). And now swine flu might mess everything up.

This is what I miss, this is what I was looking forward to: laughing until you throw up. Never happens in my "real life" but has happened several times with my sisters. I'm a happy person, sure I laugh from time to time, but it is not nearly the same. I need to laugh like that again, I need to have a fit of uncontrollable giggles and annoy all the people around us. I need to say half a sentence and have my sister finish it, I need someone to understand why I feel the way I feel without explanation. I need to re-connect to them, to learn all the parts I miss these days that we're grown and living separate lives. I need to say remember the time and see their faces flash with the memory, going back in time with me to places we loved and miss.

It will happen, we'll take our trip one way or another, I just hope it's soon because most of all right now I need someone to remind me about the rest of me. The me that existed before my days consisted of one child's need after another, the me that will still be there once my kids have grown up and moved away. The me that used to sit on the blue fence passing away the hours perfectly content with nothing but my sisters.

I hate it

Fasting from spending money that is. The book says there is two types of people, those who hear of this money fast and think, "that's impossible" and those who say, "piece of cake". We were the piece of cake people, he goes on to say it is us that will have the hardest time. He ain't kidding!

Thursday: Kyle goes out to lunch with a friend, a regular meeting, and eats and drinks nothing (to be fair to the restaurant he did not want to bring in food and/or drink "free" water).
Jenny wakes up with the strongest desire I've had in years to go out and buy anything, just because I can't.

Friday: We take the kids out for a drive then get out and walk around an area we like, we do this most weeks and always either get a drink at Sonic or pick up dinner on the way home. We are both having a hard time denying this tradition. Watch a movie a friend loaned us.

Saturday: We go to Parade of Homes, it is free in our town, and are happy for the opportunity to do something we were planning on already that is free. We again miss picking up a drink or treat while out driving around. But enjoy the day as much as any other year, good time together as a family out and about.

Sunday: There is still food aplenty, by the looks of it we would need to fast for a month to eat all this food up (I know that's bad). We perhaps bend the rules (although not the ones we gave ourselves) and spend a gift certificate/coupon to get ice cream out. We have a problem spending our gift certificates so we thought these two weeks were a good time to do that.

Monday: Jenny has a doctor's appointment, no fee, will bill insurance, whew! It begins raining and says it will rain all week. I am filled with trepidation...no playing at FREE parks due to rain, what will we do!

Tuesday: Kyle is supposed to bring doughnuts to bible study, and says he will break the fast since it's not for us. I think he's breaking the rules but tell him it's up to him. When I get back from the gym I see he's made a breakfast bread from ingredients we had on hand, he felt like doughnuts broke the rules :) He later told me it was a huge hit, and they ate it all up. The kids are definitely going to make me lose my mind, it is still raining, suddenly I have a genius idea: the library, of course! Get to library it is closed Monday to Thursday afternoon. Cannot think of another free thing indoors go home defeated. Kyle works till 8pm, wants to pick up dinner, uses a free coupon for a chickfila sandwich. Gets only that brings it home to eat with a salad we have at home.

Wednesday: Kyle comes home early, we take the kids out. Cannot really think of what to do, drive around and look at some house and lots, the kids are screaming the whole time, no one is happy. I hate this fast! We decide that after one week we will go to the grocery store to get anything that is essential for Jack (it was part of our rules before we began). We get whole milk, 4 jars of baby food, two sets of pediasure, yo baby yogurt, pears, and dog food (for the dog, not Jack :). We are amazed (and I'm slightly releived that I'm not crazy) that the total comes to 55$. Our cupboards and fridge are looking a little more bare, the freezer is still stuffed.

Thursday: Kyle goes to lunch with a consultant that the company pays for, I think this is cheating but am probably just jealous. I've decided that my love of food and the way I use it to cope when I'm stressed has gotten worse in the past couple of months with Jack's fussiness. This fast is making that crystal clear to me as I look in a fridge filled with food and get frustrated because it does not have a "good" snack in it. We go look at houses in the afternoon with our Realtor, and come home without dinner (again). I see that there is a neighborhood wide garage sale this weekend that I was really wanting to go to...I feel pain!

One more week to go!