Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our Financial Journey - Part 1

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.


I'm starting a series of posts about my family's financial journey over the past 12 years that we've been married. We're not perfect, but I believe God is faithful, even when we make mistakes and get off-course. He's there to pick us back up, dust us off, and help us get back on the right path, even if we don't know exactly where that path is headed. Our job is to trust Him and to follow Him. I know He's not done with us, as we are still on the journey. Check back to read future posts about our financial journey and what God has done in our lives. And maybe it will help you in some way as you travel along on your own path.


Here is our story...

When my husband & I first got married, we had over $20,000 in debt (mostly his, but I'll take credit for a little of it too, I guess)- student loans, a car payment, credit cards... it all added up. Our goal was for me to be able to stay at home once we began having children. This is something that was important to us, even from the beginning of our marriage.

So for the next 2 1/2 years, I worked full time in the accounting dept at an adoption agency, & every penny of my paycheck went towards reducing the debt. I enjoyed my job and the people I worked with, but I really wanted to be a full-time mom.
God knew our hearts, and it's amazing how He worked things out for us in the way that He did.


Eventually, 2 1/2 years after we got married, the day arrived that we became debt free. And the blessings kept pouring in. During that same month, the house that we had been trying to buy (it was a bank repo, so the process was slower) finally went through & we became first-time homeowners as well. Then, a few weeks after we moved in, we became pregnant, after trying for 3-4 months (We always seem to get pregnant when we move! lol).

So, we paid off our debt, bought a home, and got pregnant, all in the same month, and in that order. I believe it was all God because it was beyond our power to make all those things happen the way they did, even if we had tried.

One month before my oldest son was born, I was able to quit my job & I have never looked back. I love being a stay-at-home mom and having the chance to homeschool my children. And I know I am right where God wants me to be.


But things didn't always go the way we planned, financially. That nasty debt has a way of creeping back in...

Click here to read part 2 of our financial journey.





PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Caitlin


The Dog Ate My Homework


We've all heard the line, "The dog ate my homework" and, well, it doesn't usually work, of course, especially if you don't even own a dog. Well, yesterday my 9-yr old son came up with his own unique version of that & I just had to laugh. He was working at the table on his language arts paper, then got up & said he had to go to the bathroom. During this time, I am sitting on the couch, feeding Baby J.

A few minutes later, I look up & where is my 9-yr old? At the table, finishing his paper? Nope. He's sitting on the couch reading one of his library books. I ask him why he's not working on his language arts & he tells me, "I can't find my paper!". Really? LOL Nice try. We quickly found his paper sitting on the shelf, where he set it when he was headed into the bathroom. Never a dull moment with that boy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Few Movies We've Enjoyed Lately

It seems harder & harder to find good movies that we enjoy. So I thought I'd post a few of the good ones we've seen this summer. You can click on the titles to see a trailer for each movie.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story- "A frustrated young boy with problems in school overcomes the obstacles in his life to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon. Based on a true story."


Taken- "
A former spy relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been forced into the slave trade."


Holes-
"Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Stanley is unfairly sentenced to months of detention at Camp Green Lake. There, he and his campmates are forced by the warden and her right-hand men to dig holes in order to build character. Nobody knows the real reason they're digging these holes, but Stanley soon begins to question why the Warden is so interested in anything special the boys find." (This was a great family movie)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cheesy Beef & Potato Bake


My family really enjoys these potatoes. It was a Taste of Home recipe that I used to serve with meatloaf. Eventually, we ditched the meatloaf & now just add ground beef right on top, and my family likes it better that way. I like to use the Yukon gold or yellow potatoes.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

4 large unpeeled potatoes

1/4 cup butter
1-2 tbs diced onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp dried parsley

Directions:
Cook ground beef & drain. Thinly slice the potatoes & place in a greased shallow 2-qt baking dish. Add ground beef on top. In a small saucepan, heat butter, onion, salt, thyme & pepper until the butter is melted. Drizzle over potatoes. Cover & bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender. Sprinkler with cheese & parsley. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes longer or until the cheese melts. Yield: 4-6 servings.

This recipe is linking up with: 5 Dollar Dinners, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Two For Tuesdays, New Nostalgia, Tuesdays @ the Table, Delicious Dishes, Grocery Cart Challenge, Foodie Friday, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Menu Plan Monday - July 26th


Okay, so last week, I think I only made half of the meals on my menu. It's so easy to get busy in the summer doing spontaneous things that come along, that sometimes your menu just has to change to keep up. My life certainly doesn't revolve around my menu! lol I love spontaneity sometimes.

My mom & I have also been really busy with tackling some projects around here (have I mentioned that I have an awesome mom?)... lots of yard stuff- cutting back trees & bushes, weeding, hauling off a truck-load of yard debris, getting ready to rototill, then will put down some bark. Cleaned off the back patio. Finally put up the curtains. Went through my mom's glassware, getting ready to fill the curio cabinet. Need to do some deep cleaning, although not sure when I'll get to that. I'm bored with cleaning right now. lol


We are picking so much zucchini, green beans & lettuce right now in our garden, that many of the veggies in our meals are revolving around that. I've never made green bean casserole from scratch, only using the cans or frozen, so I'm excited to try that this week. And I found a healthier version of the french fried onions for the topping at Trader Joe's.


I think I'll also post a recipe for my zucchini & onions later this week that I make (so easy!). It's a great way to use up some up that zucchini, as one can only make so much zucchini bread.


Here's what we're having this week:


Monday
: Roasted Chicken & Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole

Tuesday: Salmon Cakes, Rice, Zucchini
, Salad

Wednesday:
Tacos

Thursday
: Chicken Salad

Friday: Beef Stir Fry

Saturday: Tuna Casserole, Salad

Sunday
: Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Casserole (never made last week)

For desserts this week, I'm planning to make zucchini bread (you knew this was coming, lol), homemade ice cream, chocolate pudding, and smoothies.

To check out more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Free Game of Bowling on August 7th


GoBowling.com has a coupon you can print for a free game of bowling on August 7th. You can even print a coupon for everyone in your group. There's a link above the coupon to see which locations near you are participating. We have three near us. I don't really care for bowling, but my oldest son does, so we might try to go. And my two-year old just got a new bowling set for his birthday, so I bet he'd love it too!

Head over to Blog Party
for more great deals

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Have a Daughter!


Yesterday morning, I had my ultrasound. It was a very emotional morning for me. With 3 boys already, we had decided this would be our last baby. This also meant it was our last chance for a girl. I was prepared for either outcome since, although I would have loved to have a girl, boys are what I know & what I'm comfortable with. And besides, I can't seem to get enough of that cute, smiley, kissable baby boy that I already have. So I knew, of course, that I would be happy either way.

However, until that point, I really thought it was going to be another boy, so when I heard it was a girl, the tears just started streaming. I was surprised by the emotion that came over me. I never realized just how much I wanted a girl until the ultrasound tech said those words. No longer was it just "a girl", it was my daughter. We have a daughter! WOW. I think it's going to take a while before that one sinks in.

I even asked her if she could please be VERY sure because I have 3 boys... lol... so she checked several times... Yep, it's a GIRL! And everything looked great... the baby is healthy. Praise God! My due date is December 5th, but will most likely be a little early with a c-section.

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday, Gratituesday, I'm Lovin' It Fridays, & Chatting At The Sky.


Friday Blog Hops

Happy Friday Everyone!! I am happy to participate in the following Follow Me Fridays. It's a great way to discover some wonderful new blogs.



New Friend Fridays








My Wee View

friday-follow

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Broccoli Salad


I've brought this broccoli salad to lots of potlucks. I usually mix up the main ingredients the night before, then add the dressing the next morning, and chill for at least 4 hours. But you could probably just make it all the same day with good results too, if you were short on time. The amounts can also be adjusted according to your own tastes or whatever you have on hand.

Salad Ingredients:
8 slices bacon
4 cups broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup sweet red onion, chopped
1 cup raisins
1 cup sunflower seeds

Dressing Ingredients:
3 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tbs sugar
1 cup mayo

1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the broccoli, bacon, onion, raisins & sunflower seeds. Refrigerate overnight.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar & mayo. Pour over broccoli mixture, and toss until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

This post is linking up to:
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap
Foodie Friday
The Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - July 19th


Last week I tried several new summer salad recipes, but wasn't really happy with any of them. Anyone know of any good ones?

Here is our menu for this week. We don't really have a lot going on this week, mostly planning to stay home & decorate (finally), and catch up on a few things. Next week is the Tour of Homes in our area, so we will be busy busy busy, as we like to go almost every day. Yeah, we're addicted! So this week, I'm looking forward to a quiet week.


Monday: Slow Cooker Roast, Zucchini & Onions, Garlic Mashed Potatoes


Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie

Wednesday: Salmon, Rice, Green Beans (from our garden!)

Thursday: Slow Cooker Chicken & Vegetable Soup


Friday: Potluck dinner @ the park with homeschooling friends- bringing Deviled Eggs & probably a dessert


Saturday: Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Casserole


Sunday: Potluck lunch @ church- bringing Broccoli Salad

Leftovers for dinner

For desserts this week, I'm planning to make banana crumb muffins, cheesecake, and smoothies.

To see what everyone else is having for dinner, visit
Organizing Junkie.

Here and There and This and That


Just a little bit of what we've been up to the past few months...

:: The biggest news is that we're expecting baby #4, due in November. I'm halfway there & we hope to find out whether we're having a boy or a girl on Wednesday! So the two littlest ones will be a year apart. What fun this shall be!
:: We sold our house and moved across town. We're mostly settled and I'm getting ready to decorate.


:: It's been four years since we've had a yard & could do a garden. So as soon as we were unpacked, that was the first thing on my list! It's been so nice to spend time outside, digging in the dirt, as well as watching everything take off.


:: Enjoying my boys. They are now 9, 2, and 8 months. And just yesterday, baby J got his very first tooth!


:: We've been enjoying the slower pace of summer, with some busy-ness added in there too. Sprinkler. Friends. Sunshine. Vacation Bible School. Park Days. Smoothies. Potlucks. Camp. Swimming. Movies. Sand. Bubbles. Playdates. 4th of July festivities. Birthday Parties. Summer Reading. Forts. Dress-Up. Family Garage Sale. Crafts. BBQ's.


Ah yes, we just love summer around here...

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Worth Passing Along


A few posts I enjoyed reading this week:


How to Make Things Harder & Do Nothing (Small Notebook for a Simple Home)- This is pretty funny, yet I have to admit is so true sometimes. If you ever tend to procrastinate, you will probably relate to this too.

Craigslist Photo Tip: How to Show Big, Clear Photos So Your Stuff Sells (Small Notebook for a Simple Home)- This was a really helpful tip for me, as we've been selling quite a few things on Craigslist over the past few months. It feels great to get rid of things you don't need that have just been taking up space.

Creating and Preserving Life Margins (Simple Homeschool)- A great reminder to have some family down time and to not fill up every hour of our days with busyness and too many activities. We've really been enjoying a slower pace this summer.

Saying No (A Familiar Path)- Melissa wrote a great post about setting boundaries for her children. We all have our own way of doing things in our own families, but she puts into words something I've been struggling lately to explain. We haven't let my 9-yr old son go to overnight camp yet (only day camp), even though several of his friends have been able to go. He's probably ready, and I think we're getting closer to letting him go, but at least until now, we've chosen against it. It's hard to explain to him (and to others) why we set some of the boundaries that we do, especially when "everyone else is doing it".

Melissa is referring to watching the Twilight movies, but I think it can apply to other situations as well. She said, "I just am for guarding them against some things until they are older.

Kids are bombarded with teenage sexuality so early in seemingly innocent shows like Hannah Montana and iCarly. Sometimes I can’t even put my finger on exactly why I don’t like them watching, I just know I don’t.

I don’t want their young minds on thoughts of boyfriends, love or any other adult situations right now. Right now I want them to be children."

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