Sunday, January 24, 2010

Some Frugal Inspiration

Some of the resources giving us some insight into our frugal journey so far:

Go Green, Live Rich by David Bach. I wasn't seeking this book out, it found me at the library the other day. The 'green' suggestions aren't anything new. But what I haven't put together is how going green can actually mean saving dollars. This is something exciting for me.

David Ramsey. Some women were talking about him at GCM. So I had to check it out. I really like his Gazelle Lite Calculator. Makes it really easy to see what percentage of your budget you are using for each budget category. I also really likes his "Free Cars" clip. I have totally changed my ideals about car buying.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Finally, a moment of peace. Daddy is putting the girls to bed. A ritual he quite enjoys. I have to say, I am glad he does, it's not my favourite time of day to be patient. I get pretty tired by day's close. Anyhow, finally a moment to ponder the happenings of the past few months. Life for us was pretty stressful. The details are not necessary. But the time, and energy were overwhelming and taxed our family life and my personal life quite a bit. The past few days I have even thought to myself, what now? What do I do with my time, my energy? Time to reset and refocus on my actual 'life's work'. My life as a present and intentional parent. It means back to some normalcy when it comes to routines with the girls. It means, back to play dates, fun outings, and our fun home school program. It means family time. Today, we did just that. It was great. So much fun.

My parenting and spiritual pondering have been the focus of this blog. I am happy to continue with this. However, for 2010 my husband and I are on another interesting adventure. We are seeking to be frugal! We want to spend less, buy less, and live on less dollars. Why? Mainly because we've gotten ourselves into some debt with a cross country move and a job career for both of us. My wonderful work now brings in a whole $500/month compliments of the government. My husband's pay has been drastically reduced due to a career change. But we are happy with our choices. We just weren't anticipating how hard it would be to adjust to our lack of cash flow. Those who know us are probably thinking, you've been living this way for 1.5 years now. True. It's taken that long to realize we need to make some changes. A lot of things were also going on for us financially in that time, selling a house, buying a house, renovations, investments. Now that has all settled and we can see the dust settling.

Our plan for 2010 excites us, and scares me. But I think it will be a challenge that will really help us in the long run. So here's to a year of living frugally. It'll be challenging. It will have sacrifice. Here's hoping we have some new discoveries and insight along the way leading us to a healthier perspective on finances and money and set us up for a future where we can focus on other better things in life.

From the Mouths of Babes

Here's our dear 15 month old saying grace! At first you'll hear her saying 'cheese', a natural response to the camera appearing. We're not sure what she was saying, but I'm sure it's music to God's ears. The whole story: We asked Grace to say 'grace' at dinner time tonight and her response 'Joy will say grace'. Ok, we thought, and asked Joy to say grace. To our amazement she scrunched up her eyes really tight and began uttering sounds in her baby language, I'm sure God understood. Sooo cute!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

God Makes Me Happy

Like most mornings she wakes and crawls into bed with me. I try to stay in bed until the last possible moment. Snuggles and talking distract her from wanting to leave the warmth of the bed and go to the cold kitchen to eat or play.

She points at the light.
"What is it dear, is that the light?"
She points again, and grunts.
"Do you like the lights?"
"It makes me happy."
"The lights make you happy?" I inquire.
"God makes me happy." Such sweet words for any mom who longs for their child to be connected to the creator to hear.
"Why does God make you happy?" There must be more going on in her little brain.
"God told me that I would have a best friend, someone who will share with me, and play with me all the time." She excitedly proclaims.
"He did, you're right, Joy (her baby sister) is your best friend."
"No. Joy is a little baby, my best friend is a little girl like me."

Interesting. I wonder if her heart's longing was for a playmate, and God reassured her that she indeed would have a best friend. Grace talks about best friends all the time. She makes art projects for them, and asks to play with friends daily. How awesome that God would give her the joy of knowing she'd have a best friend.

Today our compassion package came in the mail. I showed the picture of our sponsored child. Grace was quite excited and proclaimed, "My best friend, just what I was talking about! I will share with her and play with her." Heart breaking, knowing she might never meet this precious little girl but overjoyed that her desire is to be her best friend and share with her...hopefully in their own way they will 'play' together long distance. She does understand she's far away, she states that. She's smarter than I give her credit for.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Contributing to the Family

I saw this before and thought about using it...lately we've needed some incentive for our 3 year old. Here's the link to a handy printable you can customize, simply type in the allocated boxes and voila! We put in things like: I pick up my toys, I put my laundry away, I share with my sister. I think even just acknowleging that we honour those particular 'contributions' will be reward enough :), I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Plan!

It's the Monday after the new year. Our tree has been undecorated and removed, all the decorations have returned to their boxes, and it's time for some normalcy. No more hot chocolate for our 3 year old with breakfast! The treats are mostly gone. Today we 'officially' start our homeschooling adventures. I actually have a hard time calling it 'school', especailly for a 3 year old. I want to try and escape that categorization because I don't want learning to be compartamentalized. I want learning to be fluid, being intentional about our wording will hopefully remind us of this value we want to uphold. But for simplicity sake, when I refer to 'homeschooling' it's refers to the learning intentions of the day, or as we are going to call it at home 'The Plan'. The nice thing with plans is that they give some direction, but are also adaptable, especially if they are not working with your day, our plans anyhow.

Each day we are going to create a page such as this:

The Plan - Monday January 4th, 2010.

1. Book work - listing a story from our Sonlight Homeschooling Program that we have yet to read. There are also ideas for activities for each story. Again, doing what works for our child. Today my husband did this portion and he said the activity lasted 10 minutes (whihch I thought was actually good). She also wanted a few more stories read to her, which was awesome! This girl loves being read to. Actaully the other day she told me that she wants to read but she can't because she's not a big girl.

2.Active Play - this will be outside fun, active game, dress up.

3. Creative Play - some sort of creative exploration fun.

4. Family Drawing Time - this won't be each day, I'm saving it for times we need a little quiet space.

So far today this has worked for us. We'll see how things shape up in a month or so!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Can She Be My Best Friend?

"We were thinking we might like to adopt child who doesn't have the things you have, such as food, clothing, and money for education or medicine." We tell our little Grace.
"Can she be my best friend?" The eager 3 year old asks.
"Sure she can be your friend, you can write to eachother?"
"But I want to see her, I want her to come and play with me!" She demands.
"She lives a little too far for that, but we can pray for her, and send her things, and mostly support her with some money."
"Okay." She settles.

Our gift to Jesus this Christmas was to sponsor a child! She is a 4 year old from Honduras and has been waiting for a sponsor for over 350 days. It's actually been something I have wanted to do for a few years now. We used to sponsor but for one reason or another stopped. It's been on my heart to ponsor again ever since we had our own children and see the need from a parent's perspective. I don't tell you this because I think I am great now that I sponsor, actually I am very embarrassed that I am only now sponsoring, and really this is such a small step, as I would love to be giving more. I tell you this because I hope that you too might be inspired to help someone out. The cost is $35/month, and of all times in my adult life, right now is the time we are most scrambling to pay our bills, however, I think it is fitting. This little girl goes without much of the necessities in life each day. I am sure we can sacrifice a little more to make sure that doesn't happen anymore.

Another reason I tell you about this is because I have really felt in my heart that I want to do more for Child Advocacy. There are some horrendous things happening to the children of this world, abroad but also here in Canada. This is a small step towards being a voice for the children.

I am so excited to see the relationship between our sponsored daughter and Grace play out. We really want her to have a wider world view than what she sees day to day, which only depicts how a small population of people live.

"Be the change you want to see." Who even said that? But this saying inspires me to act. Often I get overwhelmed by what's going on in this world, I think, what can I do, little me? One person! But if I want to see change, I must start with myself. I can change, I have the power to do that much. What will you use your powers for?

Friday, January 1, 2010


It's 2010! A new year. New hopes. New ambitions. New year resolutions. New lists. New expectations. I did some reflecting on 2009. What a hard year for us in many ways. My physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual self are all over taxed. There has been very little 'filling up'. Mainly because I am not sure how to fill up. My husband gives me some time off, and I go grocery shopping, not knowing what else to do with my time. Sure a little reflection time writing, or reading is good. I have confided in my husband for not being a good wife, I know I haven't been the best mom, especially lately. Are there others who struggle too?

Here is my reality:
I am spent.
I am TIRED beyond anything I have ever experienced.
I need a break! A long break.
A nice long sleep, without interruption.
My Jesus he loves me. He is rest. He is peace. Please grant me some sanity and some much needed sabbath. I understand why sabbath was required, but as moms, well really it's tough to get that. Please Lord.

Ok, this might not ever get published. And then again it might, but it might not be here when you return someday. It's hard to be vulnerable. And yet I know we all face times of seeking, struggling, finding hope in one moment and grasping the next. For some, maybe all is well, or better than before ...I can't wait for that season to come, yet it might only be in another world.

My goals for 2010 are not long. Topping my list, is finding some ways to fill me up (funny since I was such an advocate of this a year ago). To be real. Life is not always roses, sometimes the thorn in our side is overwhelming. God's grace is sufficient for me.

Where ever you are at this new year, strong and ready to take on the world, or weak and needing some fuel, blessings! We all go through seasons. I think I better embrace this difficult season instead of wishing for a different one. I've learned that well living in Northern Ontario. If you just sit and sulk through the cold winter you don't experience any joy of the season, but if you dress warm, and embrace those cold days, you can experience wonderful winter adventures.

So here's to embracing the winter. Grabbing those skiings and flying down the mountain. Soaking up the warmth from the fireplace. Enjoying those quiet inside games and activities. Lord I need your help, your grace.