Snow Day

One of the most magical childhood phenomenon are snow days.  {Adults like them too.}  We’ve had an active day today for a Thursday.  Close to 12 inches of snow has fallen and you’d think we’d be bored.  Wrong!  We’ve built snow forts, wrestled with our dog Maggie, and lost our breath playing Just Dance on the xBox Kinnect.  I’m not sure if my boys will remember everything we did today, but I hope they remember spending the day with Shawn and me.

I don’t remember what grade I was in exactly…probably 3rd or 4th.  It was back before schools sent emails and pre-recorded phone messages announcing those lovely words, “school is cancelled today”.  I would wake up and listen to the radio DJ or the morning news just hoping to hear or see the R7 School District included in the list of cancellations.  The most memorable snow day I can recall is actually a day I don’t remember many specifics.  I just remember looking out the front window to see a really strange sight.  My mom’s ’85 Honda Civic Hatchback was stuck at the end of our drive in the pile of snow from the snow plow.  She couldn’t get out of our driveway to get to work.  That meant I got to spend the whole day with her!  Like I said, I don’t remember what we did, but I do remember that feeling of being so excited she was going to be home all day from work the same day I was home from school!  Best snow day ever!

As a parent, I need to remember that the thing that will stick with my kids the longest is their time spent with Shawn and I…not necessarily all the activities.

Influences

Two days ago, I was in a mad dash to pick up my boys from school…on time.  I left church with time to spare, but found myself on 7 Highway behind a line of about six cars with the lead car driving ten miles below the speed limit. Grrr.  There was not enough road to pass all six cars to freedom, so I waited.  I attempted to do the math on how many minutes I was adding to my drive.  Then, I began to think about influences.  No matter how independent we believe we are, we’re uncontrolably influenced by those around us.  They’re contagious – we’re contagious.  For me, this is most evident when emotions are high, like those days when we’re trying our best to pick our kids up from school on time!  I found myself driving down the road with one of those really considerate drivers following me that insist on testing how close they can ride to my back bumper without touching it.  In moments like these, we can respond by:

1. Driving slower {revealing your controlling side, “how do you like going this speed sucker?”, “you can’t make me go any faster, but I can make you go slower…ahahaha!”}

2. Driving faster {revealing your desire to please others or perhaps fear of making others mad, “okay, okay, I’ll drive faster if you want me to, don’t get in a huffie.”}

3. Setting your cruise control {revealing your focus on the destination over your emotions, “I’m going to make sure I’m driving at an even speed so I don’t have to be bothered by this guy behind me.”}

Do you find yourself trying to constantly teach others a lesson?  Do you abandon who you are to please others?  Or do you have something that is like a cruise control in your life?  Something that is a constant that helps you get to your destination despite the influences around you?

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”  James 1:19

There is only one who is constant.  There is only one I want to be influenced by.  His name is Jesus.

Living With Less {part 3/3}

It’s no secret that Shawn and I took a huge pay cut to move to Missouri to start Echo Church.  I’ve heard that most new business owners don’t typically start earning a paycheck for years.  This is not exactly the same situation, but is similar in the fact that if we would have taken a full salary, I’m not sure if Echo Church would be around two years later.  In fact, Shawn has counseled other new start pastors and told them to slash their initial pay.  They said that would be impossible, and now, sadly their church is no more.  {this is not a hard and fast rule for all new start churches, but it was for us}  Well enough about the reasons…lets look at some more tips I’ve learned thus far.

~~  Have I mentioned that we live with another couple?  You don’t have to be a wiz at math to know that this alone cuts living expenses in half.  WARNING–I don’t recommend this to everyone.  God has really protected our families and relationships!  The house has to have two living spaces, because lets face it, no matter how much you like someone, you gotta get away sometimes. Privacy is important and sacred when sharing a home.  So, if you’re in a desperate situation, pray and see if the Lord might lead you to this option.

~~  Rent movies as opposed to going to the theater.  It costs about a million dollars to take a family to the theater after paying $10/ticket and $999,999,960 at the snack bar.  We still go to the theater, but only on special occasions or for very special movies.

~~  We only have one car.  One car to put gas in.  One car to pay insurance for.

~~  Say “no” more than “yes”.  Especially to yourself!  You’re the hardest person to restrict.  Show some self-control in spending!

~~  I use Pinterest for many free/almost free date ideas, or for free/almost free activities with the kids.  I love this resource!!  Here’s a great one for the kids…http://pinterest.com/pin/146155950378118893/  Here’s one for the hubby…http://pinterest.com/pin/146155950378470771/  Oh, and the monster patch link I posted yesterday was found on Pinterest!

Happy Saving!

Link to part 1/3

Link to part 2/3

 

Living With Less {part 2/3}

It’s no secret that Shawn and I took a huge pay cut to move to Missouri to start Echo Church.  I’ve heard that most new business owners don’t typically start earning a paycheck for years.  This is not exactly the same situation, but is similar in the fact that if we would have taken a full salary, I’m not sure if Echo Church would be around two years later.  In fact, Shawn has counseled other new start pastors and told them to slash their initial pay.  They said that would be impossible, and now, sadly their church is no more.  {this is not a hard and fast rule for all new start churches, but it was for us}  Well enough about the reasons…lets look at some more tips I’ve learned thus far.

~~  Get together with a few friends and exchange Halloween costumes.  No kid wants to wear the same costume year after {correction…Landon was Spiderman for THREE solid years}…so most kids don’t want to wear the same costume year after year, so have a costume exchange.  It was fun for Landon to share his old Spiderman costume with a friend’s little brother this past year. Obviously, you can do this with everyday clothes as well.  We have a friend who has three boys much older than mine.  She gives me a bag of clothes every once in a while which is a life saver.  Then, whatever clothes are not hanging by a thread, we pass those on to our nephew!  GO GREEN…haha!

~~  Shopping at local garage sales can save hundreds of dollars a year if not more.  I’m always after boys clothing which is not an easy find as boys tend to wear them out more than girls do. Most of my boys jeans have ginormous holes in each knee. Here’s my plan for that…(link to monster patch!!!)  Since I don’t sew even buttons, I’ll have to employ my crafty friend Stacey.    Our community also has a garage sale group on Facebook.  Search and see if yours does too.  This feels a bit safer to me than Craig’s List too since you can go to the persons Facebook page and see if you have any mutual friends.  (Facebook stalking can saves lives!) It’s an easy way to sell items as well!

~~  One thing I just started doing is grocery rebates.  This is all because I have a friend who is a rebate queen.  She started a club where a couple of friends pay her a few bucks to do all of the leg work {as some require postage} and she gives us new rebates almost weekly.  Some are for $2, some are for $20!  I prefer this much more than couponing (anyone watched the time consuming ways of the Extreme Coupon people on T.V.) as it is much easier for me and less specific.  For example, the rebate may be for salty snacks, or meat…yes it’s that vague…just meat of any kind.  They can be purchased from any store and can be any brand most times.  The best ones are through some type of alcohol company requiring alcohol purchase.  But there is a loop hole in many states, Missouri being one of them, that does not require an alcohol purchase!  Yippee for Missouri!!  The other day, I got $36 dollars in checks in the mail.

Happy Saving!

Look for more tips tomorrow!

Link to part 1/3

 

 

Living With Less {part 1/3}

It’s no secret that Shawn and I took a huge pay cut to move to Missouri to start Echo Church.  I’ve heard that most new business owners don’t typically start earning a paycheck for years.  This is not exactly the same situation, but is similar in the fact that if we would have taken a full salary, I’m not sure if Echo Church would be around two years later.  In fact, Shawn has counseled other new start pastors and told them to slash their initial pay.  They said that would be impossible, and now, sadly their church is no more.  {this is not a hard and fast rule for all new start churches, but it was for us}  Well enough about the reasons…lets look at some tips I’ve learned thus far.

~~  You have to change where you shop and how often.  I shop for most groceries at Aldi where I can get great food (their summer produce is stellar) at a fraction of the cost.  So, I have to bring my own bags and use a quarter to get a cart…totally worth the savings.

~~  A gal can spend a lot of money to look “beautiful”.  I used to pay $15/area for facial waxing.  Now, I do it myself with a Sally Hensen product I got at Wal-Mart {link to Sally Hansen Hair Removal Strips}.  Now, for less than $5.00 I can wax away for a year or more. {less if you have some Chewbacca in your heritage}

~~  DIY hair color saves a ton of money!  I prefer the highlighted look, but that gets crazy expensive and high-maintenence.  I happen to have a friend who’s a professional hair dresser.  She’s able to get me salon quality hair color and I apply it myself.  Total cost $5-10!!

Happy Saving!

Look for more tips tomorrow!

 

Brook’s New Favs from 2012

I know we are almost into the second month of 2013, but I just found the notebook containing several of my blog ideas.  {oops, better not have so many notebooks around}  One idea I’ve been waiting to do for a while is a list of favorites from 2012.

In no particular order:

1.  Aldi – I can’t believe I haven’t shopped at Aldi my entire life.  What is wrong with me?  It has the best prices, period.  Now, I still have some brands I get from other stores that Aldi doesn’t carry {like Jif peanut butter}.  A big trip to Aldi might cost $60 as opposed to $115 at other stores.  They own Trader Joe’s so I suspect many items are interchangeable, they just don’t have the fancy “Trader Joe’s” logo on them.

2.  Dollar Store – Again, why have I not shopped more at the Dollar Store?  I don’t mess around with this Dollar General business either…I go straight for the place where EVERYTHING is a dollar!  Lots of crafting ideas can be fulfilled here along with cleaners and seasonal items.

3.  Avacados – I have been craving avocados for months.  I just can’t get enough of these little green mushy vegetables I used to turn my nose up to. Now I love them in soups on sandwiches and of corse as guacamole!!  Yumm!

4.  Nutella – Again, something I crave.  Great on toast or spread on crescent rolls and baked!  {Aldi carries it’s version of Nutella…tastes good, but not as creamy}

5.  HUMMUS – Definitely one of my all time new favs that is now a staple in my diet.  I started off dipping chips in any flavor variety.  Now, I prefer it as a dip for carrots.  My favorite flavors are anything jalapeño and roasted red pepper.  If you’ve never had hummus, don’t be afraid to try it.  I describe it as being similar to a flavorful bean dip.  My kids love it too!

6.  Juicing – Shawn and I were going strong making fresh juice for months and have gotten away from it a bit.  It can be a bit time consuming but is soooo good.  My kids beg to have a glass of any kind of juice I make.  I’m not as adventurous as some but I think even being a basic juicer is fabulous.  My favorite…apple, orange, carrot, peach!

7.  Greek Yogurt – I love yogurt but the Greek variety took a bit of getting used to.  But now that I have made the switch, the regular yogurt just tastes like watered down sugar.  Greek yogurt is VERY creamy and more tart than the regular.  I love Chobani with blueberries the best! {um, anyone else notice there is a lot of food on my favs list?}

8.  Gotye – On to music.  When I heard the song “Somebody That I Used to Know” on the radio I was in love!  It was so different than anything else out there.  I went on youtube and found a bunch of his videos about him making his music.  He’s just a very creative dude making art out of everything.  It’s also an album I can listen with my kids in the car and have no worries.

9.  Karmin – Another band I fell in love with instantly.  I went on a Karmin youtube diet one night and was hooked.  I love their story and their music.  I hope they don’t get sucked into the hype of the music industry and remain “cool”.

10.  Pinterest – Rounding off my list is a website that no one knew about a little over a year ago.  I had to get invited to join by my sister and then wait several days to get accepted into the Pinterest community.  I think they just grew faster than expected.  Now, Pinterest is everywhere.  I use it for everything.  One of my favorite uses is for recipes.  I have a virtual cookbook at my disposal and I love it!  It is picture driven which I also love.  We’re about to create a Pinterest account for Echo Church to link pinners everywhere to Pastor Shawn’s sermons!  Exciting times indeed 🙂