Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Powerful Message

A couple weeks ago I heard a commercial on the radio.  I've been listening for it again so that I figure out which car dealership it was for.  It was advertising a few months of new payments on a car purchase.  The kicker part for me was that they had a line in the commercial that you'd be "sticking it to the bank" by not making payments for a few months.
Man, that has just bothered me.  How many people are going to listen to that and believe it?  It isn't mentioned that while you aren't making payments, interest is accruing on your loan . . . your loan on a depreciating car.  So, while you are "sticking it to the bank", you are causing yourself to owe more on an item that is simultaneously worth less.  There is one party here that is being taking advantage of, and it is NOT the bank!
Today I was reading a parent's post about a child's homework assignment concerning writing a budget.  Sadly, this is not the first post of it's kind.  But the homework in question mandated that the student work out a budget with a student loan, car payment, credit card payment, and other things.  There was no option for a person who has done better and paid cash for their lives.
This is the mentality that my children will grow up around.  This is the mentality that I grew up around.  There is this huge message that debt is normal.  Why is this acceptable?  Did anyone ever question where this message started from?  I can guarantee you that "debt is normal" did not start with the people paying interest on the debt.  The "debt is normal" message started with the institutions that profit from your debt.  Why wouldn't they want people to accept debt as normalcy?
I've had this thought for awhile now, that I am going to sit down with the kids sometime soon and show them what our bills looked like 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and then today.  I want to show them how to "budget" when all your money goes to just paying your bills versus how to budget with more responsible actions when debt is being paid off and sinking funds are established to pay for life - instead of credit cards.
I've written a bit about Dave Ramsey in this blog.  And for those who don't know, it isn't just the man himself that I am referring to.  I am referring to his way of thinking.  I'm referring to actually thinking about decisions before making them.  And I mean thinking about the whole picture of a decision, and not just thinking about how well the decision fits for short term.
Tonight I am thankful for a better way of thinking.  I am thankful for a chance to raise my kids with a better way of thinking.  I get so excited thinking of their futures!  They could have lives with no debt  . . . ever!  I imagine them in their adulthood having so much freedom because they've never had to pay any of their hard earned money to pay someone else for having borrowed that someone else's money.  They will be light years ahead of my life!  That is what I want for them!  I want them to have that!  I don't want them to ever think that the mainstream message of debt is "normal".  I want them to strive to be better than normal!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Candy Cane on a Cat

I received a text today that a child of mine "stuck a candy cane to the cat's leg and is attempting to cut it off".
Apparently a child was eating a candy cane and reached for a cat.  The candy cane fell out accidentally.  But, I instructed to wait for me!
P.S. the cat is doing fine.
Another child found some fake glasses and we decorated her with white hair color that I bought on an after Halloween clearance.  She had fun pretending to be an old lady this evening.
Two children got in to a giggle fit while drawing on their selfies on my phone.
Tonight I am thankful for my silly children who keep life interesting to say the least!  My most purest smile happens when they are being their silly selves, just enjoying life!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mediocre

Who else did not feel like working today?  Go ahead, raise your hand . . it's ok.
I went to bed at a reasonable hour last night.  I was setting myself up for an ok Monday.  I was having a bad dream.  And I think maybe I was talking or something, because my cat woke me up.  She usually only wakes me up if I've hit the "snooze" on my alarm.  She doesn't wake me up in the middle of the night.  But she did last night.  Then I couldn't get back to bed.
So I came to my office to do some work.  But I got distracted by cyber Monday online browsing because my sleepy mind didn't want to focus on work.  I went back to bed a few hours later.  Then I woke up even more tired.
Yep, today was a struggle.  I had already planned a long day for myself.  The girls had doctors' appointments today.  So I had to space my work accordingly to take them to that.
I was trying very hard not to be crabby.
My very last appointment was the farthest out that I travel.  And by the time I got there, it was getting fairly dark.  My pictures will all need to be lightened to be visible.  Then I was driving home in the dark and the rain.  And honestly, I was kind of too tired to be truly bothered.
I put on the Christmas radio channel and started singing along.  And there were quite a few Christmas lights on houses on my drive back home.
So although today was a mediocre day, as far as Mondays go; tonight I am thankful for a job that I can move around my kids.  I am thankful to be able to work late so that I can take the kids to their appointments.  I am thankful for Christmas radio channels and Christmas lights on houses.  And I am thankful for being blessed enough to wake up on this Monday to be able to carry out this day . . not everyone is so blessed.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The White Stuff

I've had a problem for a long time.  The earliest I remember was my early teenage years.  At first it was just during winter time, my scalp would get so dry.  Those horrible white flakes would come.  I used to coat my head in lotion at night, hoping it would heal enough to get me thru the next day.
Summer used to be better.  So it had to just be dry skin, right?  I tried dandruff shampoos and conditioner - horrible.  They burned my skin and made everything worse.  There was just nothing I could do.
Recent years have been getting worse it seems.  Over two years ago I stopped using commercial shampoos and conditioners all together.  I would sometimes use a baking soda and water mix for shampoo - not too often though.  It worked good for awhile, then made things worse.  I read that it has to do with pH or acid level or something like that.  It's been awhile since I've read it.  So I would sometimes use a natural baby shampoo.
Using apple cider vinegar and water mixed for conditioner has been good.  It seems to do the best.  But again, summer is better and winter is worse.  Sometimes I put Lavender on my scalp and that helps too.  But, it can also make my hair look oily.
This last time, when I ran out of apple cider vinegar and hadn't made it to the store, I went online and did some more searching.  There had to be something else out there to help me.
I will clarify that I have never went to see a doctor over this.  It just didn't really seem to warrant a doctor visit, then a referral to a specialist, trips and time and just Bleh!  It would be so much put in to something that really is just an irritation in life and lot a huge problem.
Ok, so I was online searching and reading.  Then I found this product called Renpure Cleansing Conditioner with Rosemary and Mint.  I was reading the reviews and one of them mentioned Seborrheic Dermatitis.  It is a form of eczema.  It has flare-ups.  It is better in the summer generally, due to the vitamin D from the sun.  And worse in the winter, due to the lack of sunshine.  I read the 4 paragraphs of reviews that this lady wrote and it sounded like she was writing about my head!!!!
I was so excited to try it!  I zoomed off to Target, where it was said to be located at.  They didn't have any.  They did have other kinds of shampoos and conditioners made by Renpure that all state to not use some of the harsher chemicals in commercial shampoos and conditioners.  I bought some to try off the shelf.  And I went home and bought the Cleansing Conditioner from eBay (from amazon it is an Amazon Pantry item only).
The first week with the Renpure shampoo and conditioner that I had bought was already better.  There was still some irritation, but not near as much.  Then the cleansing conditioner came in the mail.  I LOVE IT!!!!  It works different than shampoos and conditioners.  The directions are different.  But my scalp is loving it!  And my hair likes it too :)
My scalp isn't perfect yet.  But it sure is way better than it has ever been!  I've been using this cleansing conditioner for maybe two weeks now, if that long.  So I can't wait to see my head a few months from now!
Tonight I am thankful for finding something that is working nice with my scalp!  I am thankful for a healing head!  And maybe, just maybe, being able to wear a black shirt without being paranoid this winter!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Found

Years ago I had a favorite candy bar.  It was delicious!  Then one day, it was gone!  They just stopped making it.  I was so sad.
At first I thought it was just one store.  But the more I looked, the more it was clear, they were done.  They just stopped making it.  They replaced it with the white chocolate, cookies and cream.  That one was good too.  But it wasn't the best.  It just wasn't the same.
Then yesterday, while I was in the check-out lane from Black Friday shopping, I saw it!!  The candy bar from my dreams!!  It was back!!  I bought four!  I brought them home to share with my family.  The kids should know what the best candy bar in the world tastes like!  It's my duty as a parent to make sure they know!
Tonight I am thankful that the Hershey's Cookies N' Mint candy bar is back in production!!!  I hope it stays around for good this time!!

Friday, November 25, 2016

"Oops!", Says My Inner Nerd

My inner nerd has come out today.  After coming back from shopping, I sat down and entered everything in to my Christmas excel spreadsheet.  There I track what gifts I've gotten, how much I've spent, and how much I've saved.
This year, being now a more seasoned budget conscious person, I have found a flaw in my Christmas spending tracking!  Every year on Black Friday and surrounding sales, I buy things for the house.  Last year, for example, I bought very nice quality towels for less than half price.  No one wants to get towels for Christmas, of course.  But normally I buy cheap towels, it shows in their life span.  There was just never a sale for good towels like last year.  Every year seems to have something different for the household that is just a fantastic deal during these shopping days around Thanksgiving.
I also buy stuff for my business right now, while things are on these great sales.  I have a new external hard drive, a handful of usb drives, and a few other things.  And this is the best time I've found all year to get deals on these things.
Well, the last couple years of really tracking my Christmas spending, I haven't really included household and business purchased made.  Of course these things shouldn't come out of the Christmas budget!!  But I should definitely be budgeting extra money in these areas to spend in this shopping time!
Well now, my Christmas excel sheet has added categories so that I can properly budget for next year!  Because I'll tell you, going out and spending large amounts of cash is absolutely fantastic when you know that cash has been set aside just to be spent for gifts to give!!!  I think of Christmases of years past with credit cards, the following dose of regret, and I declare, NO MORE!!!  Our pre-Dave Ramsey, pre-budgeting days were still good Christmases of course.  But the buying was more stressful.  And the paying of the bills afterwards was more stressful.  I'm glad those days are behind us!!
After some diligent sales searching for the past week or so; after scouring the internet and making lists; and after budgeting, saving, and spending, I am happy to report that probably about 80-90% of my Christmas shopping is done!!!
Tonight I am thankful for a Christmas season on track to be enjoyable and low stress!!  I want to enjoy this time, not worry about it.  There's been a fair amount of preparation to keep stress low and to keep this time wonderful.  This time was meant to be magical; and that can't happen if we are running around, worrying and stressing.  I hope you all get to have an enjoyable season ahead, filled with peaceful, little moments and happy, precious smiles!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!
I was up and at 'em at 4:30 this morning!  I bounded out of bed, excited for my own Thanksgiving morning routine!  I quietly went to the basement and got in a quick work-out.  Hopped in the shower, got dressed and ready to go . . . early!  I got online and started checking some online deals.  I got a little distracted there, then hopped in my car and took off to Meijers!!
Ok, now I know some of you are probably against shopping on Thanksgiving.  And you are allowed your opinion.  I am out and back home before anyone misses me.  As for the workers today, I hope that them working did not ruin their day.  And I hope they got paid lots of extra money for working today to help with their own Christmas shopping!!
I got some fantastic deals!!  The first year I did this, I brought back home some donuts for everyone.  Last year I brought home some McDonald's for breakfast and they liked that better.  So this morning I did not buy donuts.  I drove thru town and both McDonald's were closed this morning!  For breakfast, the kids had flavored popcorn from the popcorn tins I bought on sale and ice cream.  They were thankful for that breakfast!!
We made homemade butter while we watched the Macy's parade!  Then it was off to family for Thanksgiving!  We had a wonderful meal!  We enjoyed time with family!  And we planned shopping tomorrow!
Back home we watched Miracle on 34th Street . . . because that is the perfect Thanksgiving to Christmas movie!  Now we are on to A Christmas Story.  I am ready for bed myself.  We'll stay up til the end of the movie though.  Everyone is getting along pretty good :)
Tonight I am thankful for a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone enjoyed their day and got to relax with loved ones today!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"Normal"

I was going to write about Thanksgiving tonight.  That was my intention!
But, I've changed my plan.
This has me very excited!
You might not care too much.
And you might get tired of hearing about it.
BUT, guess what?!?!?  Yesterday I did a half hour of Zumba.  I had left my knee brace in the hubby's van.  So I went brace-less.  For those who don't know, there is a lot of twisting at the knee and bending of the knee in Zumba.  I was completely prepared to have a swollen, achy knee today.
But, it didn't happen!!!!  My knee was sore yesterday.  But I don't have the horrible day-after-exercising-swelling!  This is such a HUGE milestone for me!!!!  I am so excited!!!  I see "normal" for my knee just around the bend here!!  I'm finally getting there!!!!!!
Tonight I am thankful for my knee acting like a healthy knee!!!!  :) :)  That is truly something to be thankful for!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Adding On

I wanted to incorporate something selfless in to our Thanksgiving tradition this year.  Don't get me wrong!  I love our Thanksgiving day traditions!  And we have a lot to be thankful for!!  It is always a great day!
Sometimes when a person counts everything they have to be thankful for, they want to give.  And that's where I'm at.  "My cup runneth over".  And guess what that quote is for?  Think about a cup on a saucer.  If the cup runs over, the saucer is there to catch it, so it isn't wasted.  Then the extra can be used.  If a person is blessed with extra in their life, the surplus it to share!!
People may disagree with me here, but I believe that people are made to give.  If you don't believe me, then try it.  Go out and give from your heart to someone who needs whatever you are giving.  It makes you feel a little more alive and gives you a purpose.  It is a part of our make-up.
Well, I think I've come up with a great new thing to add to our Thanksgiving celebration!  When we get back home from Thanksgiving dinner with family, we are going to make up our blessing bags for the winter!  Blessing bags are bags filled with different things to hand out to the homeless.
We are using gallon size bags and filling them with granola bars, water bottles, gloves, a hat, hand warmers, and some tissues.  If we think of anything else, we'll add more too :)  I told the kids and they are excited!
Tonight I am thankful for a good, selfless activity to add to our Thanksgiving day tradition!!  This will be good!

Monday, November 21, 2016

WHERE??

Do you ever make a decision for the greater good of the household and have it come back and bite you in the behind?
Well . . . that's me now.
I did a blog awhile back about my uncomfortable living room furniture from the 70's (or maybe 60's).  I loved that it was uncomfortable!  That meant my family of couch-potato inclined people would not want to sit in the living room all day!  Plus the wonderful, wood frame would be very hard for my monkeys to break!  Even now, I do still absolutely love my uncomfortable, retro furniture!!
Tonight though . . . *sigh* tonight I'm going to sleep on it.  The hubster woke up sick this morning.  I do not want the flu this close to Thanksgiving, so I'm not going any where the germ infected man!  This morning I wasn't feeling the best myself.  But I've been Thieve oiling myself all day and I'm doing pretty well!  So I must hide from the germs!
Tonight I am thankful for my uncomfortable, retro furniture.  I really do love it.  I just won't love it tonight.  Or maybe I will, I used to sleep rather well on a firm mattress.  I guess I'll find out tonight.
P.S. I've been saving this picture for just the right time, when my rather pissed-off look would come in handy :)  Tonight works great!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Kitchen and I

I can be a fabulous cook when I set my mind to it!  Unfortunately for my family, almost the entire fall season, my mind was not set to it.  Life just went too fast and spending hours in the kitchen fell pretty low on my list.
Now I've had a few weeks to calm down a bit.  I'm getting life back in order.  And today the kitchen and I got reacquainted!  Breakfast was pancakes, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and eggs.  Lunch was snacks, because that was one big breakfast!!  Dinner was turkey, corn, and homemade bread!  Oh and a mixed berry pie for dessert with ice cream!
I also prepped for this week with a fridge full of sandwiches for lunches, hard boiled eggs, and cleaned and portioned fruits.
Tonight I am thankful for some time in the kitchen today!  It felt great just to be in there, unrushed, making yummy food for my family!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Rubble

Quite awhile ago someone broke my exercise bike in the basement.  There is someone living in this house named "I don't know".
"I don't know" is a horrible person.  He or she breaks things, leaves dishes out, eats the last cupcake, borrows my clothes on occasion, and basically has no redeeming qualities.  "I don't know" never does the dishes, the laundry, cooks dinner, or cleans anything.  Hmph!
Anyway, I was a little apprehensive to try and fix the bike.  I've never worked on an exercise bike before, not that i expected a huge degree of difficulty.  But I really didn't want to mess up the tension thingy.
The other night I decided it was time.  Armed with my screwdriver and a lack of caring if I ended up with a pile of bike rubble, and I headed off to tackle the bike!  I am happy to report that the time it took me to get the cover off the mechanics off the bike was twice the time it took me to actually fix it!  Yay!
This morning I went down for my first ride.  And my knee said "What are you doing?!?"  This picky, picky knee.  Apparently the bike does something that running, Zumba (limited), and an elliptical don't do.  So, the bike is back in my regiment to keep a happy, healthy knee.
Tonight I am thankful for being able to fix the bike without a huge deal!  And I'm thankful that I have this bike riding back in to my routine.  I will win against this knee!!!  Even if it is still a day or two of rest for every day with a really good effort.  I will win!!!  I still get to do that day of good effort!  That's more than I could do months ago!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Strange but true

Ok, you wonderful people may think that today's blog is silly.  But, it is very truthful!
Yesterday I had an appointment cancel and I got home early.  I've had a project of an additional fence for the animals on my to-do list for awhile.  I thought with the nice weather that I would go get the fence posts in to the ground.  But, I had to do them quickly so I was at the school on time for the kids.
Away I went, boom, boom, boom.  I was feeling pretty confident until I hit the posts where an old drive used to be.  Those gravel pieces buried under the grass put up quite a fight.  I kept on though!
All the posts were in and I was on my way to get the kids on time!!  I found three blisters on my hands.  I wasn't super shocked.
But one blister was on the underside of my right pointer finger.  I type a LOT every day.  And that stupid blister made it darn near impossible to type last night without wanting to cry.  I had some work I was going to stay up and do, but I just couldn't do it last night.  I was getting worried about today!
Thankfully, and totally what I am thankful for today, I woke up and the blister on my finger has shrunk almost all the way away!!  So yes, tonight I am thankful for a shrinking blister on my right hand, pointer finger.  And quite honestly, I never dreamed that this would be a blog topic one day :)


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Welcome!

Ever wonder what happens to the baby animals in a petting zoo?
I've wondered from time to time.  I guess I just figured that they went back home to a big farm to live out the rest of their adult lives.  Hopefully that is the case for most of them.
Tonight we bought one of the baby animals that had grown bigger.  He is the nicest goat!  He was a little confused and upset when we pulled out of his driveway.  But the more we drove, the more relaxed he got.  All the kids went with me to pick him up.  And he loved all the attention on the way home!
Back home, he went in with the sheep.  Our existing goats aren't very friendly with the sheep.  But this goat was perfect since he had grown up around a mix of other animals and people! 
I wish I would have had a camera rolling!  My scaredy sheep jumped and scared the goat.  Then the goat jumped since the sheep scared him.  Then the sheep was scared because the goat jumped.  The goat ran in to the barn and the sheep ran in to the fence.  It was hilarious!!  
Thankfully, they forgave each other quickly and seemed to be getting along good.  It was getting dark pretty quick.  So I'll watch them more tomorrow.
Tonight I am thankful for the newest addition to our little farm!  I think he is the perfect fit so far!!


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Grrr

I've been a little short on patience lately.  Having a fever for a couple days in a row and keeping up with work has taken everything that I have.
Unfortunately, my world needs more that what I've had to give lately.  I don't think it's all me though.  I think my kids really have been crabby with each other too.  Today I had enough.
My boys were just at each other . ..  again.  I banned them to their room, to stay.  They are allowed to come out to use the bathroom, go to school, and eat.  Other than that they are to stay there.  I told them that they can come out when the room is spotless and when they can get alone with each other.
Dinner was a little better.  Then, when they were done eating, they were back at each other . . grrr.
Tonight I am thankful that this experiment will work.  I have faith.  It has to work!!  We have had so many talks on how to get along with each other.  I think it's time for mom to step out of the picture a little bit and have them figure this out.  Here's to hoping no one ends up getting stitches . . . my first sneaky trip up the stairs had them jumping on the mattresses in their mess of a room.  This could get messy . . . but, I am thankful for standing strong here!  They will get this!!  I know they can!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Getting It

I don't remember exactly when we switched to the envelope system for the kids.  I think it was last winter . .  whenever it was that I started reading Smart Money Smart Kids, a collaboration book with Dave Ramsey and his now-grown up daughter.  Absolutely Wonderful book!!!
Anyway, each kid has three envelopes to sort their money.  They have a "save", "spend", and "give" envelope each.  They earn their money all week, then put a percent in to give, a percent in to save, and they get to spend the rest.
I have encouraged the kids to think of something big that they want to save up for.  Honestly, I've been feeling like the save lesson hasn't really gotten thru to the kids.  And I've  let them dip in to their savings for shopping trips and going to the fair, etc.  I probably need to be a little more strict with this.  Anyway . . . I've got some good news!
One child has been saving up for his very own Nintendo DS.  He picked out the one that he wanted.  He's even been doing extra chores to reach his goal.  Finally, today, he did the last extra chore to give  him enough money!  I've been a bit under the weather, so the hubster and him set out for Meijer.  With his hard earned money in his wallet, my boy was so excited and proud to be reaching his goal!  It was great to see him so proud of himself that he saved enough!!
I instructed the hubster to take pictures of my boy paying at the register for his big purchase.  I was going to put them in this blog.  Unfortunately, the store was out.  :(  All that hard work, and the exciting drive to the store, and it wasn't there.
BUT, I went looking on line and found the same thing for cheaper!!  Ok, so I already knew it was cheaper online, but I didn't want to take the moment of handing over his hard earned cash away from him.  There is something about that physical exchange that makes it even better!
When they get home, we'll go online together and order his hard earned prize!  And, now he'll get to keep about $10 back in to save envelope for his next goal!!  Plus, I'm sure the hubster consoled him with some sugary, check-out treat :)
Tonight I am thankful and proud for the first giant savings goal reached amongst our children!  On to the next!!!  :)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Reformed Frugal Shopper

It is no secret that I am frugal, thrifty, a deal chaser even.  Over the years this has been a blessing for our household of 6.  I've also realized that it's been a bit of a curse also.
I'll be out shopping and I'll see something on an awesome clearance and I buy it because we'll need it some day.  Then I forget where I put it and when "some day" comes, I can't find it and go buy another one.  Yep . . . not good.
Christmas shopping is a delightful game of "where can I find the best deals?"  I have made spreadsheets the last couple years to tally how much money I've saved buying things on clearance throughout the year and on deep discounts closer to Christmas.  I have put up some pretty impressive savings!  I've also over-spent in the name of buying deals.  I've bought things that didn't get too much attention when I've bought them because they were cheap and not necessarily because they were what someone really wanted.
Overall I think my thrifty shopping has saved us more than hurt us.  But, in my ongoing attempts to de-clutter and minimize our household, the truth of my over-thrift shopping has been staring me in the face.
As we close in on the holiday shopping season, I have a new plan.  I am still looking for the best deals out there, of course!  But, I am putting a mandatory waiting period in place!!  So far I have already purchased a few items.  But, more impressively for myself, I have not purchased a lot of items also.  I had a few things in my online basket and let it sit there.  When I clicked back, I deleted the whole browser.  I've had a few things in my real shopping cart in a store and put them back after I walked around a bit.
Tonight I am thankful for a new perspective with our holiday shopping!  I have my fully funded Christmas account ready to go.  I have my mandatory waiting period to ensure I am spending my money wisely.  And I have my keen frugal shopping expertise to make the whole thing work swimmingly!  Game On!! :)

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Picture

They are doing some reorganizing at the hubster's work.  So he worked both days this weekend.  I worked yesterday and today as well.
In a few minutes of down time, I decided to crack open a book that I've been waiting to read: The Millionaire Next Door.  I only made it a few pages in, when I had to put the book down and get moving on other things.
In a few minutes later when I was waiting for a file to move, I clicked over to facebook and saw a video of a family that is now completely debt free.  They talked about how rough it was work so hard for so long.  But now they are in their 30's, raising a family, in a paid off house with no debts at all.
I can close my eyes and see us in the future.  I can see us living in a paid off house.  I can see our lives being free.  I can see our thoughts shifting, as our lives change!
And these are the thoughts that keep me going.  These are the thoughts that keep me pushing on when I just want to go lay in my bed and sleep for days.
Tonight I am thankful for the little inspirations that come up at just the right time to keep us motivated and moving forward.  I keep the picture in my mind of where we are headed, but the road gets long.  It's great to see the others who have made it down the same road and are enjoying life!!  That's where we're going!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fancy

Tonight we went to an auction dinner.  Last year was our first year attending this annual event.
It's nice to dress up every once in awhile.  And it's nice to spend some time getting all fancy.
I painted my fingernails and my toenails.  I even bought some new make up.  I used a curling iron - not that you could tell.
I made time for all that extra girly stuff that I let fall by the way side too much as a busy mom.  And it was fun :)
Of course the event itself was wonderful.  Nice people, good food, and a wonderful cause all made for a wonderful night!  We left right at the end because the hubster has to work tomorrow morning.
Tonight I am thankful for a night to get all fancy and go out for something fun!

Friday, November 11, 2016

What Love Does

For years I called one of my children the "wild one" or the "crazy one".  I prayed and waited for this child to grow old enough to be able to use common sense in his decisions.  I warned teachers that he was not like my other three.  (PS I have since figured out that he is well behaved at school - thank heavens!  So my warnings probably didn't make sense to the teachers.  I remember one look a teacher made that already had him as a student when I was making comments to a teacher of a higher grade.  I really wasn't trying to be a negative parent, just a cautious one.  PPS I no longer call him my wild or crazy one - figured out my words were not working in the best interest of my child.)
I've known his mind worked different for a long time.  I didn't quite realize the extent of it though.
I recently explained it to a family member like this - for three of the children, I can say look over here and think about this.  And their minds will cause them to look and think as directed, even continuing on, they will continue on with the thinking and looking at their own pace.  For the fourth, his mind isn't starting at the same place a majority of the time.  I have to walk thru his head, find where his mind is hanging out, take him by the hand, and lead his mind out to the starting point. Then, and only then, can he look and think as directed.
Standing on the outside can't get him.  I can't stay outside of where his mind is, call for him, and expect him to come find his way to where my mind is.  It just doesn't work that way.  I hope for someday to be able to have things work that way for him, as he continues to grow in understanding.  But for now, it doesn't.
His mind is very intelligent, don't get me wrong.  Like a transmission, the clutch to come out of his neutral gear is just at a different place than the others.  So he takes a little more time.  I can't get his mind in to first gear until I find where his clutch is catching.  But the time is worth it.  And I've already seen such growth in him.
Tonight I talked to a friend who has a similar situation, but to a much larger degree.  And I heard it in her voice; the fight, it's tiring and it's defeating at times.  Sometimes a parent feels like they are fighting a losing battle.  There have been many times that I just need to step away for a minute and cry because it feels like more steps backward and forwards.
But love keeps going.  Love is the difference between giving up and digging your heels in to fight even harder, once again.  Love is patient and kind - this is true.  Love is also the most raw grit, stubborn, never-giving-up thing there is.  When everything in front of you says to give up; love says no.  Love says don't give in this time.  Love says this story is already written and Love Wins!
Tonight I am thankful for the strength in love that pulls you back up off your knees when you've hit bottom.  I am thankful for those who never give up . . . it is so very important . . . it means the world and more to the one you are not giving up on!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Better Than Anticipated

After 11 years driving back and forth to a dentist office at least 50 minutes away (in good traffic), we finally decided to transfer to a place closer.
I looked in to several different offices.  I made a few phone calls.  And I finally decided just to bring the kids to my dentist with me.  Today was the day!  I think I was more nervous than the kids were!
They were excited to see the new place.  They were excited to meet the new people.  But I wondered if the excitement would wear off once we were there.
It couldn't have went better!  The kids weren't even nervous at all.  They even had a good time there!
The best part was walking out and hearing from the kids how great the dentist office.  I was asked why I didn't take them there sooner!  It was everything.  They liked the facilities better.  They said the hygienist were more gentle.  And yes, they greatly appreciated the much shorter drive!  I was so relieved!!
Tonight I am thankful that our first visit to the new dentist office went better than I dreamed of!  Hooray!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Germies

My whole house was sleeping in the wee hours of the morning.  I was here at my desk working away.  I heard some footsteps move quickly down the stairs . . not too alarming.  But then I heard a sound that was not good.
Urgh.  I am not ready for a wave of sickies to go thru this house!!
My sick one was confined to the couch.  I filled up the oil diffuser and started to fill the house with Thieves.  I fed the non-vomiting children more elderberries.  Then I waited.
Fortunately the sick child seems to be doing alright!  As of this evening, the other children were feeling ok.
Tonight I am thankful (and praying to continue to be thankful) that it appears the germies stayed with just one child!  And it appears the germies did not stay long with the one child!  Hooray!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Watch Me

Watch me ignore political stuff tonight . . . ready . . . here I go:
I had a cancellation between appointments today, which meant I had about 45 minutes to kill before I had some place to be.  Fortunately I had brought my laptop and some work with me.
I stopped in at a fast food place with free wi-fi and ordered a snack.
The wi-fi was slow.  Normally I would turn my phone's hot spot on and work from my car.  But, I'm switching data plans and something went screwy . . or so says the text that I got stating I was out of data and now be charged at the overage rate.
I started to get a little irritated that I couldn't work as fast as I wanted.  Then I stopped myself.
There I was, with enough work that I couldn't even sit there and relax for 45 minutes.  I was sitting in a restaurant when I wasn't even hungry.  I bought a drink and a snack just to sit there and use the free wi-fi.  I was only after the free wi-fi because I didn't want to pay more on my bill for my cell phone, yet I have a cell phone.  When it was time to go, I drove away from the restaurant in my dependable, cute car.
That whole paragraph was blessed, blessed, blessed, blessed, and blessed.  Really, I had nothing to complain about.
Tonight I am thankful that this is a very blessed life.  There is a lot of anxiety and worry tonight.  But at the end of the day, we all live in a country filled with blessings and blessed opportunities; we just need to look at them and remember them.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Politics

I'm not very political.  I don't care to debate endlessly with people on politics.  I don't care to speak politically correct.
I research to be informed.  I will vote tomorrow based on the facts that I have found and the opinions that I have formed.
I change the radio channel when the political ads are on.  I don't read the Facebook political debates.  I won't tell you who I'm voting for.  It's really none of your business anyway, sorry.  And I really don't care who you are voting for.  My world is fairly void of political drama and I wish to keep it this way.
In my world the more important things come down the stairs in the morning and say "Good Morning Mom!"  We debate cupcakes for breakfast and who gets what chore for the week.  These are the debates that I engage in.
My votes tomorrow will be for the candidates that I feel are the most suited to do their jobs for the world today and the future world for my kids.
My kids' own world is a good one.  Last night my older daughter made lunch for her younger brother to take to school today.  She said it was so he wouldn't be running late, as he tends to do.  But he was so touched by her care this morning, that he made her a lunch to take!  He packed her a good lunch and some extra treats in a brown paper bag with her name on the bag, just like she did for him.  I remember lunch as an eighth grader . . but she graciously took the lunch from her brother and thanked him :)
No matter who wins what positions tomorrow, I am thankful that what is in our hearts will always be more important that who is in an office.  I've seen so much hate this election time.  I'm ready for that to be over.  Let's instead be thankful for the right to vote and for the good in our lives already.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

10

With our four kids, we decided from the beginning that they would only have big birthday parties at certain ages.  Well, we recently had a big 10 year old birthday!
Today was the party!!  This would be our family's second party at the local movie theater.  They are so awesome!  They are priced well.  And hey, it's a movie theater!  There is room for everyone!
I love the ease of it all on my part as well.  I show up and bring cupcakes.  Boom . . done!  Perfect!
My proudest part of all this was my birthday girl's decision to have donations to the animal shelter brought instead of presents.  We were going to take the donations in tomorrow . . . then I checked the website and they are closed tomorrow.  Tuesday though, Tuesday we will be there!  My birthday girl can't wait to take everything in!  And play with the kitties of course :)
Tonight I am thankful for another wonderful birthday party!  I am thankful for a birthday girl who had a wonderful time!  And I am thankful for the great generosity that the birthday girl gets to pass on to help out some fluffy animals as they wait to find their forever homes!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Steward

I've been mulling over a lot of things in the past few days.  One that keeps coming to mind is stewardship.  The actual definition is "the management or care of something . . . "
I've stated before that being a parent has made me more aware and understanding of God's hear than anything else in life.  And it is true in this respect also.
I have given my kids tasks around the house to take care of.  As each kid proves that they can handle certain tasks, they prove they can take on more difficult tasks.  To them, this may seem negative at times.  To me, it proves they are maturing and growing.
The kids like this theory in other areas of life for sure.  Maybe we run in to town and I don't feel like getting out of the car, so I give a child a 5 dollar bill and some carte blanch in the store to get chips for dinner and bring me the change.  If the child comes out with a small bag of chips, then they have proven that they don't understand what I was asking them.  If it is a side for dinner, then we would need a full size bag.  If the child adds to the order and brings out a candy bar with the chips, then they have proved that were being selfish and spending the money on the things that weren't necessary.  If the child brings out the change and doesn't give me my change, then we also have a problem.
If the child comes out with the chips and give me the change, then they have done well.  But if the child comes out having found chips on sale and gives me more change back then I was expecting; then they have gone above and beyond what was asked of them.  And the next time I need to go to the store and let a child run inside for me, I will remember what choices they made on this trip to take care of my money and the orders they were given.
The Bible talks about being stewards on this Earth of many things.  And money is one of them.  I remember praying for money.  I remember being desperate and praying with all I had for money to get us thru.  I was the child who spent the money on the chips and candy bar and had no change to give.  Actually, I was worse.  I was the child who brought chips, a candy bar, and ice cream to the counter and didn't have enough to pay.  I made selfish decisions and was not a good steward of the things God had given me.  The problem was, I didn't see that.  All the other kids had chips, candy bars, ice cream, and cookies at the checkout counter.  And I told myself that I deserved those things too.  I neglected to pay attention to what my instructions were.  My own instructions had nothing to do with those other people in line, but that is where I was looking.  I was not a good steward.
Wednesday night, Dave Ramsey said something that I've read in his book too.  He said, whatever you are, if you add more money to it, it will make it bigger.  I was not a good steward, and when I received more money, it was an even bigger not-good steward.  I made selfish decisions with our money.  And when we had more money, I made bigger selfish decisions.  God was smart enough to never give me loads of money when I prayed for it.  And I am thankful for that now.
As an appraiser, I have appraised several foreclosed homes worth half a million dollars.  Those people who lost those homes did not have a problem with money.  They had a problem with stewardship of that money.  There was obviously money around at some point.  It is what they did with it that was the problem. Another Dave Ramsey-ism, "good debt management is 80% behavior and only 20% head knowledge".  That sounds like a stewardship issue to me.  Many people know what to do or have some idea that the way they are doing things is not right.  But they never change that behavior.
Tonight I am thankful that I am learning to be a good steward.  I'll never forget when I was pregnant with my first child and waitressing for awhile; I had a large table of business people leave me a $200 tip.  I want to be able to do that.  I want to be able to bless people like that.  And I can never get to that place if I'm not first a good steward of what is given to me.  I can't provide for someone else if I can't take care of myself.  Stewardship . . not a word I gave a lot of consideration to years ago; but definitely a word that I am looking at more now.  How can God bless me more if I don't take care of the blessings he has already given me?  I wouldn't be able to handle it . . . but I'm learning to ;)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Bad Parts of Town

There are neighborhoods where I go to appraise homes, where I will only go at certain times of the day.
Think about some parts of the city where crime rates are higher.  Later morning is usually a good time to visit.  People who have jobs have left for work and aren't going to call the police for seeing my car at a foreclosed home.  People who have been up partying all night are still sleeping it off.  So I can get in and out fairly quickly.
Then there are neighborhoods that aren't quite as dangerous, but that are maybe semi-dangerous.  These neighborhoods wouldn't necessarily be horrible to go to in the afternoon.  But if I wait too late in the afternoon, there are a lot of people on their porches, in driveways, or in the streets.  This is not good for a few different reasons.  First, I don't want to talk to all the neighbors when I do my job.  Second, I need to take pictures and these people can't be in my pictures.  Third, I don't want anyone calling the police on me or asking to go see the inside of the empty house.
Neither one of the neighborhoods that I've described above are areas that I would let my children roam the streets of; especially by themselves.  I see children in these streets, with no adults around.  And it concerns me all the time.  Sometimes very small children, right next to the street.  Sometimes I wonder if they yard by the fairly dangerous street is a better place for the child than inside the house itself.  I just don't know.  And I can't keep them all safe.  I have called for assistance in a few cases where actual abuse or negligence was obvious.  Most of the time my head is just ringing with the dangers of it all.  Those children shouldn't be there, out in the open, unsupervised like that.  It's just not safe.
Well today, I was stopped behind a line of cars at a red light.  I saw a boy, maybe 8 or 9 years old who looked like he wanted to cross the street.  He seemed very unsure with crossing five lanes of traffic.  He jetted once, made it across three lanes, and almost got hit by a car.  He turned around, ran back, and sat down on the curb.  I pulled off in to a run down parking lot and asked if he would like crossing the street.  He said yes.  His eyes were so big and scared.  This child almost got hit by a car and then had a strange car with a strange lady pull up right beside him.
I helped him across the street.  He took off running, hopefully he didn't have far to go.  And this boy has been on my mind ever since.  I have an 8 year old boy.  There is absolutely no way I would let him go anywhere in that part of town by himself, or even more than 5 feet away from me.  And here this boy was trying to cross five lanes of traffic.  Where are his parents?  Then I think, maybe they were at work.  Maybe he got out of school and had to walk home because they were working.  Or maybe they are deathly ill and can't get him.  He seemed very scared, like this wasn't his normal routine . . or he would know how to make it across the big, busy road.
But I had an idea.  Because this shouldn't happen.  I'm going to write a letter, copy it, and send it to the city, along with some neighborhood organizations.  There are retired people and disabled people who are still mobile in that area.  Why aren't they asked if they could be a walking buddy?  Why aren't there more helpers for the kids to make it safely to their homes?  I'm sure there are enough resources to make that happen.  I've seen the amount of adults in that area!  Maybe those looking for work could volunteer their time to help and use that on a resume.  There are enough options to make it work.
Tonight I am thankful that I was able to pull over and help the boy cross the street.  What if it hadn't been me?  What if a predator had saw that boy who was obviously scared and willing to trust a stranger?  Ugh, I can't stop thinking about him.  So tonight I am thankful I was there and helped him.  I am thankful that he won't leave my mind because this needs to change.  And I will try to start a change.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Coherent

I had such profound thoughts for this blog tonight.  I've been replaying things from last night in my mind.  I've been processing so much good stuff and thinking on what I am most thankful for.
But guess what?  I am that state of exhaustion where I am not even picking my feet up all day long.  My eyelids have not fully opened today.  And at this point, my most coherent thought seems to be about how to sneak in to my bed and sleep thru the noise that is my busy house.
In the future, I do promise to share some inspiring things that I learned at the Dave Ramsey Smart Money Tour that I was so fortunate to attend last night!
For tonight though, I am thankful that I am going to go to bed right now . . . at 6pm.  And I have high hopes of being a fully functioning person tomorrow . . because I certainly was not today!  I hope everyone has some wonderful sleep tonight!

Choices

I'll bet you were expecting me to drive all the way back from Grand Rapids in the rain, and tell you about what a wonderful time I had tonight, aren't you? ;)
Well you are half right.  I had a wonderful time tonight!  But I am pretty darn tired right now and can't tell you yet about all the wonderful things I heard tonight.  It's going to take a few good days to process it all.
For tonight I am going to share one thing - choices.  Dave told a story tonight, that I think he's shared in his books before.  I'm pretty sure I've heard the story before.  It goes like this - he was talking to an employee who was doing their task wrong.  Dave showed him how to do it the right way.  The guy told Dave, well, I was doing it this way.  So Dave told him again, that is wrong - do it this way.  And the guy told Dave, I'm not like you, I can't do it that way.  And Dave told him - Change.  It can be that simple.
We have a tendency to over-complicate life.  If there is something that is in your life that you don't like, Change.  Choose to Change!  Change the circumstance if you can.  Change the way you are handling it.  Change your perspective.  Whatever it is that needs to change, Change it.
Change starts small.  It starts with a decision to start.  Then change is made up of a million other decisions not to give up.
Change can be hard.  Life can be hard.  And life can be a whole lot harder to stay stuck in a situation that you don't like!
Tonight I am thankful for getting the opportunity to see Dave Ramsey in person!  I am thankful for my dear Mommy who wanted to come and see him with me!  And I am thankful to add more fuel to my fire to make this life one that I dream of!  Good Night All!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

One More Night

This morning I had this great idea for tonight's blog.  I even have a draft saved.  But after the beautiful day today, I've changed my mind!
Last night we were trick or treating.  I was wearing two long sleeved shirts and a thick, flannel lined jacket with a winter hat and gloves.  Tonight I went running at the track with my son in a tank top.
Quite fortunately I had a day of driving and appointments today.  It was so beautiful out!  I had the window down.  I soaked in all the sunshine!
My morning appointments went quick, which had me ahead of schedule!  I took advantage of the little extra time and stopped at one of my favorite lakes to soak in the absolute majesty of the day.
Tonight I am thankful for an absolutely gorgeous day!  I am thankful for an afternoon break by the lake.  And I am thankful for a warm November night at the track with my son.