A Common Life Lived with Uncommon Joy

Wednesday Weekly Goals

As I mentioned on Monday, I took a week to rest and recoup last week so I didn’t set any goals to work on other than a daily nap and making sure we were still eating three meals a day.  This week I’m feeling refreshed and back on track, ready to tackle some items that have been on my goals list for several weeks now.  Here are my goals for the next seven days:

Homeschooling

1. Reading lessons with Amber five times – I need to be more consistent with this, so I’m setting a goal for myself and a reward for her to help us get there.

2. Write lesson plans for the rest of the Prairie Primer unit we are studying

3. Make three busy bags for Georgia to do during school

4.  Catch up on grading schoolwork

Kitchen Work

1. Make cookies with Amber – she made a mix at American Heritage Girls and has been begging to make them with me

2. Do a freezer/fridge/pantry inventory before I get grocery money next week so I can make a list of what we need

3. Check my stock of mixes and mix up batches of whatever I’m low on.  I love my Make a Mix cookbook for this.  There are several mixes in this cookbook that I use on a regular basis.

4. Decide what dishes I will make for Thanksgiving.

Homemaking

1. Rearrange the living room, move the chair to our bedroom and reassemble the modular couch – this has been on my list for several weeks but we were too busy for it to be a priority.  I’m hoping to finally get it done this week now that we’re done with our major seasonal clothing swap.

2. Price window shades for the front living room window.

3. Make Halloween costumes and hot chocolate and apple cider to hand out to parents while their kids are trick or treating

4. Decorate the house for fall

5. Finish a declutter sweep through the house to gather donations for the church yard sale next Saturday.

Personal

1. Do something to bless Michael – This week I bought him a bag of his favorite candy (100 Grand bars) and sent him a picture of them in a text, telling him he’s worth more than 100 Grand to me.

2. Do something to bless someone else – The hot chocolate and cider for parents on Halloween will be my random act of kindness this week.

3. Read three more chapters in Galatians for You by Tim Keller – I’ve enjoyed the first three chapters so I’m aiming to read another three this week.

4. Finish a baby blanket I started over the summer and finally give it as a gift.

What are your goals for the week?

 

 

After saying “I feel like this week has run me over” and “I’m exhausted” one too many times, I decided last week to take a rest  from everything not completely necessary for our everyday lives.  I took a lot of naps, cancelled a lot of things on our calendar and made a lot of sandwiches for dinner.  It’s really hard to commit to rest when life is whizzing by you but I’ve learned over the years that if I don’t want to hit the wall physically and emotionally, when my body says it needs rest, I need to listen.  Amazingly, at the end of the week, the world was still turning, nothing had fallen apart, and I was a much happier and well-rested wife and mama.  If you’re feeling chronically worn out, like life is dragging you through it, please let me encourage you to REST!  Even God rested after six days of creation – if He needed a rest then us mamas need one too on a regular basis.  

Let’s say some hello’s, shall we?

Hello Monday…

Hello candy…

Halloween is still three days away and already my house has been overrun with candy.  Today I bought four large bags of candy to hand out, which I’m sure will all be gone before 8 pm, just like it is every year.  This year, we’ve decided to have some hot chocolate and apple cider for parents to drink while they’re taking their kids door to door.  It’s gonna be a bit chilly out! Ross will stay home and hand out candy and drinks with me in the front yard, while Michael takes the girls around the neighborhood to collect their loot.  I love greeting the kids, seeing their costumes and handing out candy! 

Hello pumpkin…

My children made the comment the other day that they’ve never carved a pumpkin before.  At first I told them, “Of course you have!”, but after thinking about it awhile, I realized the last time we’d bought and carved a pumpkin was the first year in our house, nine years ago!! So technically, Ross has carved a pumpkin before but none of the girls have.  I picked out a nice big one this morning and now it’s sitting on the porch, waiting to be cut.  After about ten minutes on Pinterest looking for ideas, I’ve decided to delegate this task to Michael.  It will be a great bonding time for him and the kids, right??

halloween

The kids on our street, ready to go trick or treating (2011)

Hello costumes…

My favorite part of Halloween is making costumes.  I love to come up with “out of the box” ideas and then tackle the challenge of how to implement them.  My kids are getting really good at coming up with costume ideas.  Here are the plans for this year: I’m going to be a smarty pants, complete with big nerdy glasses and smarties candy taped all over my pants.  Ross is going to be Pumpkin Pi (orange shirt with a Pi symbol on it).  Gracie is going to be a scarecrow – I love her costume because she will continue to wear the jeans and plaid shirt through the rest of fall and winter, so it’s cute and thrifty! Amber chose one random, obscure character after another before finally settling on Pocahontas’ friend.  Luckily, she was already Tiger Lily at her Peter Pan birthday party, so we already had everything we needed for her costume. Georgia wanted to be a green fairy, but not Tinkerbell.  I had a really hard time finding green fairy items that weren’t Tinkerbell, so we switched to a pink fairy and now her costume is all set.  Michael has more fun watching us dress up and usually doesn’t have a costume, unless we’re doing a group thing.

How about you? Do you like to dress up for Halloween? What’s your favorite Halloween candy? What are you saying hello to this week?

 

 

Kitchen Stewardship

A few weeks ago, I shared my thoughts on stewardship vs. frugality, particularly in regards to my food budget.  I’ve made a lot of changes since that post and I wanted to give you a little update on my progress.

First of all, for the first time ever, it’s now the 22nd of month and I still have grocery money left!!  Usually I run out of funds around the 18th-20th.  I only have about $50 left but I’m so proud to have already seen progress in this area.  We have been eating out of the pantry and freezer as much as possible, and any grocery shopping I’ve done this month is just to replenish fresh items like milk or to buy markdowns to keep the pantry or freezer stocked.  Not only am I not out of grocery money yet, but we aren’t eating in a feast/famine cycle this month.

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The wall leading into my kitchen beside the pantry door. I bought this sign for $5 almost a year ago. The plates are all thrifted. This week I finally got them all up on the wall.

I also spent time this week cleaning out and reorganizing the pantry and all my kitchen cabinets, including my hutch and china cabinet.  I boxed up a lot to donate to our church college ministry’s annual yard sale and also gifted a few things to others I knew would be blessed by them.  Then I spent some time outside planting a little spinach and lettuce in pots (so I can bring it inside when the weather is too cold) and repotting two rosemary plants into one bigger pot.  I’m hoping to have a nice sized rosemary bush to plant outside when spring comes.  I started a compost pile on the backside of my raised bed garden and moved a seldom used patio table to the backside of the house to repurpose as a potting table.

cafe02

My china cabinet is now functional instead of just pretty and it better reflects the things I love.

Tomorrow I plan to do a major clean out of my fridge and upright freezer and make an inventory of what we have there and in the pantry.  Then I plan to make a list of meal possibilities to cook using what we have.  Although I can’t spend an entire day in the kitchen working on all the things I’d like to accomplish in there, I have a list of mixes and freezer foods that I want to work on bit by bit to make cooking from scratch easier and faster.  I will also make a list of items we need to restock so that when my next grocery check comes on the 5th next month, I’m prepared to go to the store with a plan and only buy the things we really need.

cafe03

This is the bookshelf beside my china cabinet. It sits in front of half the sliding glass doors, so it gets lots of light. I have a few plants on the shelves – crown of thorns at the top, a poinsettia I got for Christmas last year, a gerber daisy on the next shelf with a box waiting for foxglove seeds, and rosemary on the last shelf.

One thing I’ve become very aware of this month as I’ve focused on stewardship instead of frugality, is how abundantly blessed I already am.  It’s easy to make do with what you have when you take time to really see just how really blessed you are, instead of focusing on how much money you’ve saved or spent for the month.  I’d love to hear how you are learning to be a good steward of the things God has blessed you with.  Share your thoughts with us!

 

This weekend was all about relaxation and recovery from two weeks of chaos.  We spent a lot of time on the couch, snuggled under blankets with the kittens, watching one movie after another.  Except for Saturday morning!! I woke up at 6 am, dragged the kids out of bed in the misting rain and headed to Lowes Motor Speedway for the 2013 Charlotte Color Run.  I walked the 5K with my friend Dawn, her husband and her girlie.  We started out with pristine white shirts and ended the race covered head to toe in a rainbow of color chalks.  It was awesome!!

colorrun05

Let’s say hello, shall we?

Hello Monday…

Hello mundane

After a crazy week of wedding trip  preparations, followed by a weekend in Georgia, then a family funeral immediately afterwards, I’m aching for time at home with nothing on the calendar.  I cleared away all non-essentials and we will be spending the week here at home doing mundane things like school and housework.  I think it will be a great respite after the chaos of the last few weeks.

Hello cool weather

Dare I say that the warm weather is gone for good?? I love sweaters and scarves and sweatshirts and jeans.  My poor girls though were totally unprepared for the cooler temperatures.  I’ve pulled the fall/winter clothes out of storage and we’re starting to weed through them.  I’m determined to pare down their clothes to a few outfits each this season.  After pulling all the toys from their room, putting their dresser in the closet, and only leaving the bunk bed and a bookcase in their room, their room is still a disaster area more often than not.  I’m determined to figure out how to keep their room at least halfway tidy.  How do you help your kids keep their rooms clean?

Hello family devotions

I’ve wanted to institute a daily time of family devotions for a long time now.  Michael and I have talked about it a few times, but because I tend to take over things and I’m trying to let Michael be the spiritual leader, I haven’t done anything to make devotions happen for us as a family.  This week I read an article that said men desire to lead devotions with their families but need the creativity of their wives to choose something and show them how to implement it, then step back and allow him to take the wheel.  When I asked Michael for his viewpoint on the article, he wholeheartedly agreed and asked me to find something we could use.  So I’m on the hunt this week for a great family devotional that will have us reading the Bible together every night after dinner and discussing our spiritual walks together.  I’m hoping to find something aimed toward my older two that we can then explain in simpler terms to the younger two, rather than choosing something for the younger two that will bore the older two and not really teach them or challenge them in any way.  Do you have devotions as a family at your house?  Do you have a particular book you love to use?

What are you saying hello to this week?

This was a great week for free food for us.  Between the rehearsal dinner, the wedding reception, being treated to a meal out with friends, and food brought and shared by my mother-in-law and my uncle from the funeral, there were several meals that we didn’t have to cook or provide food for.  It was a real blessing to our food budget!  I also officially started Christmas shopping this week, actively searching out little deals here and there.  And after several weeks of not being able to do any thrifting, I was finally able to go today and scored some great stuff.

books

Here are my frugal accomplishments for the week:

Used my $10 Amazon credit to buy six pair of mustache earrings, two scarves and five stylus pens – these will be stocking stuffers and gifts for my children to give their friends.  I still have $2.49 credit left to use.

After the wedding, we brought home a beautiful round cut of wood to use as a plate stand or base in decorating, both flower girl baskets, lots of crayons tied with ribbon and a travel size bar of soap.  The wood went into my hospitality drawer, the flower girl baskets have been repurposed to hold a thankfulness project I will share with you soon, and the crayons and soap went  to the Operation Christmas Child stockpile box.

Started a compost pile on the backside of our raised bed garden.  Ross also weeded the garden and cleared it out for cold weather.

Blessed with spaghetti, sweet tea, a large bag of rolls, apple fritters, boiled eggs, a fruit cream pie, barbeque, sandwich buns, slaw, chips and a chocolate cake.  This provided two dinners, a lunch, and several snacks and desserts.

Made garlic toast from the Texas toast I bought at the bread store last week and put it in the freezer.

Using a Swagbucks offer and a coupon code, I ordered a gift box from Citrus Lane, which I received this week.  I earned 1000 Swagbucks for signing up to have a box delivered and the coupon code cut the price in half.  So for $12.50, I received a cool little nightlight, a copy of Ladybug magazine, a harmonica and a small bag of organic potato crisps.  Plus the 1000 Swagbucks earned me the $10 Amazon credit mentioned above.

Made apple dapple cake from the apples we were gifted last week.

thrifting

Went thrifting and bought three books for $1 each (two for Christmas gifts for the kids and one for school), four glass dessert dishes for $0.50 each, a quart size mason jar for $0.79, a stand for my new beverage server for $1.49, four black dish tubs for $0.59 each to use for storage in my pantry, and an orange and white Saks Fifth Avenue purse for $1.99.

Picked up three books from a freebie table at my Grandma’s church: The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler and In My Father’s House by Corrie Ten Boom.

What did you do this week to make or save money?

Weekly Goals

spurgeon

Any time I get bogged down in the mundane tasks of everyday life, I look at this quote by Charles Spurgeon and it always spurs me on.  This has been a week of being bogged down in so many little detail things that quickly drowned out the bigger tasks I wanted to accomplish.  I’m learning more and more what to let go of and what to make a priority.  In every family, that looks different because my priorities are not the same as yours.  I’m learning that’s ok, to not worry about what everyone else is doing and just focus on what I’m made to do – teach my children, care for my home, love my husband, and introduce people to Jesus.  That’s a simple to do list I can handle.

Let’s take a look at last week’s list and see what I accomplished:

Homeschooling: I installed Teaching Textbooks 5 for Gracie and she really loves it.  She’s doing two lessons a day.  I love the little bit of extra time it gives me to focus on teaching the Littles.  I posted a reading chart for Amber and Gracie.  This is one of the visuals that will be helpful for Amber to track her progress to a reward for her work.  I enrolled both her and Gracie in the Pizza Hut Book-It program, so for every month they meet their reading goal, they get to go out to lunch with Daddy and get a free personal pan pizza.  I didn’t get to everything on the list – installing Italian for Ross, making busy bags for Georgia or unit planning for Prairie Primer.

Kitchen Work: I made 9 pints of apple butter and a big batch of pumpkin waffles.  I still need to make apple dapple cake and make cookies with Amber.

Homemaking: I pulled all the girls’ fall/winter clothes down out of the attic but I haven’t started to sort through them yet.  I also pulled down the keyboard at Gracie’s request so she could play it.  I worked on my bedroom for a little while one afternoon, but then I destroyed it in the mad rush to get everything packed so I’m back to square one there.  I didn’t have time or the help I needed to move the furniture and treadmill around in the living room or reassemble our modular couch.

Personal: To bless Michael this week, I made a special breakfast for dinner he requested: pumpkin waffles, baked apples, scrambled eggs and coffee with homemade gingerbread latte creamer.  To bless someone else this week, I pitched in with the rest of the family to help clean up after the wedding reception.  I also watched my two nephews while my brother-in-law and sister-in-law served the BBQ for the dinner at the reception.  I got all the laundry washed before packing to go to the wedding by doing two days’ worth at a time.  It was really worth it to come home and only have one load of dirty clothes for the weekend to wash.  I read The Hiding Place and then passed it on to Ross for him to read.  He also has a dvd from Netflix on the Holocaust to watch and then he will write a paper on what he learned.  It’s not the same time period he’s currently studying in history but it’s interesting to him right now and the beauty of homeschooling is its flexibility in accommodating those interests. I started listing my frugal accomplishments and wrote my first blog post about it. I started a master list and added a ribbon bookmark to my household notebook.

Here are my goals for the upcoming week:

Homeschooling

1. Install Italian for Ross on the computer

2. Make three busy bags for Georgia to do during our read aloud times.

3. Post visual helps for Amber to help her know our weekly routine.

4. Continue unit lesson plans for Prairie Primer

5. Catch up on grading Ross’ work and create a midterm progress report

Kitchen Work

1. Make apple dapple cake to take to my family as we gather to celebrate my grandma’s life

2. Make cookies with Amber

3.  Finish garlic toast  for the freezer

4.  Make french toast for the freezer

Homemaking

1. Reassemble the modular couch and move the side chair from the living room to the master bedroom

2. Rearrange the living room furniture so I can see the tv from the treadmill more easily

3. Sort fall/winter clothes and then swap out with spring/summer clothes.

4. Help the kids to begin planning their Halloween costumes.  Our Halloween rules are: no scary costumes, no store bought costumes, get a lot of candy, have a lot of fun.

Personal

1. Do something to bless Michael

2. Do something to bless someone else

3.  Read three chapters of Galatians for You by Tim Keller – this is an excellent book that consists of expository preaching of the entire book of Galatians in written form.  The pastors in our church preach through books of the Bible in this way so this book is really appealing to me for that reason.  It’s like an extra few sermons during the week. It’s not a quick read so I don’t expect to get much further than three chapters this week.

4.  Walk the Color Run 5K with my best friend Dawn and her family on Saturday.  I’m really looking forward to looking like a crazy rainbow at the end of the walk!

What are your goals for the week?

We spent a fantastic weekend in North Georgia celebrating at the wedding of our cousin Michael.  I say our cousin because he is actually related to both me and my husband by blood.  What?! His daddy is my fifth cousin on my Granny’s side and his mama is my husband’s second cousin on his Maw Maw’s side.  Michael was also the ring bearer in our wedding, which coincidentally was 18 years ago today.  And so we spent our anniversary weekend surrounded by friends and family celebrating the beginning of a new marriage and the continuing journey of our own.

Ross, Gracie, Noah, Amber, Silas and Georgia

Ross, Gracie, Noah, Amber, Silas and Georgia

Michael and Julie were married at an old camp meeting campground.  They had perfect weather.  All four of our children were in the wedding – Georgia and Amber were flower girls, Gracie was the guest book attendant and Ross was an usher.  Ross also got to pull the white runner down the aisle just before Julie walked down.  My nephews, Noah and Silas, were also in the wedding.  Julie went out of her way to include all the kids in her wedding, a true reflection of her heart to make the day about family.  It added a lot of details to her planning but it was so appreciated and it was worth it to her to see them thrilled to be a part of the special day.

mj06

mj22

Let’s say hello, shall we?

Hello Monday…

Hello family…

While I was in Georgia celebrating the wedding, I got a phone call that my grandma went home to Jesus.  My grandma had not been well for quite a while and I was expecting the news to come any day now.  This week my cousins and aunts and uncles will all gather to celebrate her life and the legacy of her faith in our family.  My grandma raised five boys, two of whom became pastors and another who has been on several mission trips, and was blessed with 13 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.  The influence of her love for Jesus runs deep into our family tree.  She lived her life well and so we cry, we miss her, but we celebrate her arrival into heaven.

grandma and sons

Uncle Eddie, my Daddy, Grandma, Uncle Kenny and Uncle Mark – Uncle Gary was waiting for her in heaven when she arrived, along with my Paw Paw, two of her grandchildren and one great-grandchild

Hello anniversary…

Today is my wedding anniversary.  I’m still so in love with the wonderful man God gave to me.  He gives me butterflies every time he smiles.  After 18 years of having children, being broke, buying a house, foster parenting, deaths and births, heartache and joy, I would do it all over again.  We spent yesterday afternoon in Helen, GA visiting an old grain mill, a winery and an antique store in a house more than a hundred years old.  We had the best southern meal we’ve ever put in our mouths.  And we drove six hours in the car, talking and catching up with each other while the kids were mesmerized by movies and iPods.  It was a glorious day.

What are you saying hello to this week?

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