Rabbit-Proof Fence

It’s not often that I have the opportunity to sit and watch a movie in its entirety. By not often, I mean it never happens. It has taken me up to 3 or 4 days to complete one 90 minute movie. Such was the case for Rabbit-Proof Fence. I found the movie to be enjoyable, because I am a sucker for true to life or based on real life stories. I felt that the subject matter was infuriating. Shortly after watching the movie, I posted on Facebook:

“Life is cruel enough on its own, why do people feel the need to help it in its cruelty?”

We get one life and people consistently devalue the life of others. It’s sad and sad is not a big enough word for it, but is there one?

Though I watched this movie several weeks ago, i came to mind today after watching a so-called debate on Facebook. It seems to be common for someone to think that if they did something, everyone else should be able to do it as well. “I quit smoking while I was pregnant, there is no reason you can’t”. “I go to school, run a business, raise 5 kids, make all my meals from scratch, you have no excuses.” “:I went back to work a week after giving birth, no reason you can not”. “my kids never did that, you obviously did something very, VERY wrong. (loser)”

Seriously. 

You can not judge another person’s outcome on your very own experiences. 

I feel like I should repeat that, but I won’t, so please read it again. 

We each have our own lives, our own experiences, our own set of windfalls, and misfortunes. We can set out and attempt to achieve something that another has accomplished and have our results turn out completely different. This doesn’t mean one person is a failure, it simply means that life is different for them! They most likely had a different set of cards handed to them. 

In fact, I have a deck of cards sitting in front of me. I can shuffle them, hand out ten cards per person, and rarely will any of those people be holding the exact same cards. It usually does not work out that way! 

Back to Rabbit-Proof Fence. I was thinking about Molly Craig. She was kidnapped by the government along with her younger sister and a cousin. They were sent to a camp 1500 miles from home to be re-educated. Shortly after arriving at the Moore River Native Settlement Camp, Molly plans to escape. She, her sister, and cousin watched the tracker bring another girl back to camp, who had escaped, but was quickly found. Escaping was pretty much not an option. The stakes, and punishment for being found, were pretty high. 

Molly did it anyway. It took 9 weeks to walk 1500 miles back to her home in Jigalong. It was not easy, but she accomplished what she set out to do. She and her sister were reunited with their mother and grandmother. Why did others not accomplish their mission? Were they failures? If Molly could do it, why couldn’t they do the same? What if Molly had listened to the girls that said it was impossible? What if seeing others brought back to camp and severely punished had deterred her? 

Her journey, while it looked the same on the surface, was completely different from any of the other girls. She had a different set of circumstances, a different background, different knowledge, and different opportunities. They may have been trying to achieve the same goal, but they were achieving it with a different life. Those other girls were not failures for not achieving what they set out to do. The wind could have blown in a different direction for them, yes, it’s as simple as that!

So why don’t we start encouraging people in THEIR journey and stop projecting our experiences on them? Am I advocating that we should not share our experiences? Absolutely not. Our shared experiences can be encouraging to other people! We do not have to criticize another because their experience did not turn out exactly the way ours did. We can recognize that the tools at each of our disposals are not the same, even if they appear to be. Stop saying “if I did it, you can too”, because I will drop you in the middle of nowhere, and tell you to walk 1500 miles home. If Molly Craig did it, we all can, right? Yeah, if we need to walk that far, we could, how many of us theoretically need to make that trek though?

So, encourage! Share! Please, though, let’s not discredit someone’s experience because it doesn’t mimic our own.

I Need a Budget. Do you (need a budget)

Or Do you want to build a snowman?

Do ya? Uh? Uh? Uh?

So annoying.

Moving on.

Okay. I’ve had too much coffee today, or too little. It’s all about perspective. I really want to tell you about You Need a Budget (YNAB)! We have been using YNAB for a month now. Originally I signed up for the 30 day trial version, but the very next day I won the software from a contest at Not a Stepford Life the very next day! I can no longer say “I never win anything”, because there was that one time (now)!

Do you want the short version or the long version? The long is really long and the short is “I LOVE IT! How did I live for so long without it? How come when I heard ‘You Need a Budget’, I thought ‘no I don’t!’?”

WHY?

Now that we have been using YNAB for a month, I can see clearly that yes, I do need a budget. It has kept us accountable for the past month. We have diligently budgeted, recorded our transactions, reconciled and looked forward to the next paycheck!

YNAB has four rules: 

  1. Give every dollar a job
  2. Save for a rainy day
  3. Roll with the punches
  4. Live on last month’s income

You can read more about the rules here

Prior to using YNAB, we were pretty good at rules 2 and 3. Rule 4 is interesting because while we had enough in savings for last month’s income, we weren’t actually living on it. As far as rule 1, our dollars that went towards monthly bills had a job, the rest of the money was FREE MONEY! Whoo hoo. Not really. 

Early in the month, while reading about living on last month’s income, it suddenly made sense why they make that a rule. I explained it to my husband, we thought about it for a while and figured “hey, if we don’t like it, we will take our paychecks and put them back in savings and live on the current month’s income”. We held hands, transferred all of our savings to checking, jumped and have not looked back. It is the best feeling ever. I’m not worrying about the next paycheck and how much it is, because it’s just going into our account. I don’t need it for THIS month, because I am still using LAST month’s income. Our bills were paid early in the month and the amount of mail we receive has been drastically reduced! 

You should check it out. I know that some of you are like me and you think you don’t need a budget, but what if you do? 

As August draws to a close, this is where we are at with our budget: We overspent our budget for August by ($0.51). Yep, we are less than a dollar in the red. It’s okay though, because I still have this month’s income waiting to jump in and be used for September. We only have 4 days left in the month and we have been really good about not spending money. Our gas tanks are relatively full, we have enough food to last. Something may come up, but we have our buffer, so no worries. 

Do You Need a Budget? Go on over, check it out and then come back and tell me what you think. Sign up for a class! It’s free. You don’t even need to purchase the software and they give one away during each class. It could be you! 

  

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

We are a family of seven. Our ages span from one (the baby) to 48 (the daddy) and we cover a lot of ages in between. We are for sure not lacking in love or companionship. There is something we do lack, though. Guess what it is? Ding, ding, ding! Yes, correct! TIME!

It just seems that there is not enough of it. I know this isn’t true, because if I had to wait 24 hours for something, I would think that’s too long. 24 hours is a long, long time. I guess, then, it’s up to us how we use that time and are we using our time wisely? Well, yeah, I think I am. I don’t watch tv (much), so I can’t give that up. I’ve toyed with the idea of giving up Facebook, but I don’t want to do that, I just don’t. So where else can I save time and why do I want to save some?

I told Chad the other day “I just wish we had more time for fun, how do we do that?” He looked at me blankly as he often does when I ask him a question. I don’t blame him. I ask a lot of questions! So I came up with my own idea. I will have to redefine what fun means. 

Dictionary.com defines fun as: 

noun
1.
something that provides mirth or amusement:
A picnic would be fun.
2.
enjoyment or playfulness:
She’s full of fun.
 
What if fun was something different? What if fun was laundry and dishes and dirty diapers? I’d be having fun always and I wouldn’t be bemoaning the lack of fun in my life. Right? Right! 
 
Yeah, I didn’t think so either and we quickly nixed that idea, although it was fun, for a moment, to redefine all the fun things we do in life. “Look! Dog poop! How fun!” 
 
Sometimes the things we do just seem to take forever! Grocery shopping, weekly, 2-3 hours? UGH! it’s insane. Then at the end of the day we throw our hands up in the air (sometimes) (did you sing it?) and wonder where the day went. 
 
Here are 3 things I have put into practice in MY life to cut down on how long things take:
 
  • Delegation: Simply put I have started delegating jobs to my family members. I know, I know, I am a little slow to get on the boat, but I’m on! If it takes mama 3 hours to do things, guess how long it takes six of us to do those same things? Yes! Just 30 minutes. Oh, it’s amazing. I’ve only delegated a few things, and right now, since it’s new, it seems like I am spending time REMINDING others to do their job, but they do them and that’s an auto-win!
  • Auto-pay: We have been using You Need a Budget for a little over a month. Whoah! It’s a whole new way of looking at things. We were fortunate that we started out with a good cushion and were able to start out living on last month’s income. We were 100% buffered from the get go! Last month, I paid all of our bills on one day. The rest of the month I didn’t know what to do with my time and getting the mail was fruitless, because there never was any. :) Well, to save even more on time, I set up auto-pay on everything that can be auto-paid. That’s pretty much every bill I have. Since we are fully buffered, I no longer have to worry about the money being in our account when payments are debited from our account. It probably doesn’t save a lot, but it’s not my worry anymore. :)
  • Grocery shopping: This is a huge chore for us. A few months ago, I was in the grocery store at least every other day. We have been using Plan to Eat since the end of March. I have been planning our menus weekly and shopping one day a week. I *might* run into the store one other time during the week, but honestly, it’s rare. Even going once a week is still taking a tremendous amount of time. For September, Mr. Dixon and I are setting up a menu for a complete month, but we are only planning for two weeks and then we are going to double it. We will buy all of our non-perishable goods once a month, then we will only have to go to the store for produce, milk and bread. We buy all of our produce from Chuck’s produce and all of our non-perishables from Winco. Since we won’t typically be doing both stores in one day, I am anticipating a huge time saver! I also think this will be a money saver. If I make spaghetti, I typically only use half the package. Then it sits and sits and I buy something else, because I never want to repeat a meal. Now I will use the whole package in one month, therefore saving a meal or two. 

Now I just have to figure out what to do with all this extra time. Do you have any ideas? mwah ah ah!

What are your time saving strategies? I would love to hear them!

16 Years? We Have Arrived! (Not really!)

10346373_10154428523370187_2136238812045424257_nWell, well, well. Congratulations to Mr. Dixon and me. We are “celebrating” 16 years of marriage today. If by celebrating, I mean working,making and eating dinner, and taking care of life. Apparently that’s how 16 years is done. Don’t worry though. We will mark this occasion with child free wanderings at 16 years and one day. That’s just the way it’s done around here. 

If you’ve read about our marriage, or heard about our marriage here, there, or elsewhere, you may be fooled into believing that we have a perfect marriage. This is so far from the truth that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. A wonderful marriage, yes, perfect, ha! Ha! And another HA for good measure. 

No one survives 16 years of marriage without a few roadblocks, pitfalls, and forks in the road. Oh, we have had issues. Ironically, those issues have given us the marriage we have today, right this minute. It’s like I told a friend lately, you don’t show up to the gym and get in shape. You not only have to show up, you have to work out. You have to put effort into what you are doing. Without the resistance of weights, you’ll leave the gym in the same condition in which you arrived at the gym. It’s a lot less work, but you’re already paying for the membership, you may as well put some effort into your workouts and improve yourself. 

So, much like showing up at the gym, having a great marriage is not just getting married. There is some work involved and if you just show up and expect to get the same results as someone showing up and working for it, you are going to be disappointed. In our marriage, our strength has been built by the resistance we have faced. Resistance from him, from me, from us, and from every day issues that come up. I’ll tell you the truth, there are days when I wake up and he just irritates the living daylights out of me. I can choose to react based on my feelings, or I can breathe deep and show grace. Feelings are not facts. When I choose to show grace, I grow stronger and so do we. (just don’t ask how often I am actually able to put that into practice, mmmmmkay?) 

So, yeah, of course we have problems. We have disagreements and arguments. I don’t talk about these, except with a few friends. There is no profit in me blasting him on Facebook or here on my blog. I would end up with the proverbial egg on my face anyway, because somehow I am usually in the wrong. (That’s my gift to you today, Mr. Dixon! Admission of wrong doing. You’re welcome. (he’s not reading this. I know it)) Anyway, it’s just wrong. No one wants to read my negativity and I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression about him, me, or us as a couple! 

So, today is our anniversary and marriage is wonderful. I really, truly love the guy. I love who he is and I do love him more each and every day. This love and marriage thing is an amazing journey, really. I don’t know what I was thinking the day I married him, but I know I’m beyond grateful today for the past 16 years and the next 25! 

How long have you been married? Can you sum up your marriage in 5 words? I sure can not! 

I show up for marriage and put the effort in…. now I should work on that showing up and working out at the gym thing. 

Five Mistakes I’ve made in Marriage

My most popular posts, by and large have been on the topic of marriage, followed closely by finances/ saving money. This is a bit ironic, since these two topics are near and dear to my heart. I am passionate about my marriage, your marriage and the marriages of people I barely or don’t know. I don’t have marriage figured out. I am far from the perfect wife. One, because the perfect wife doesn’t exist. Two, because I’m selfish, and self centered and I want what I want and I want what I want yesterday. Not in a few minutes, dear. :) I am also pretty excited about finances and saving money. Maybe since these are the most widely read topics on my blog, that passion is coming through my words? 

I don’t know why God uses me for marriage or finances. I’m stumbling through these things just like anyone else. In fact, when it comes to marriage, I have screwed up just about every day. Sometimes I know I’ve screwed up. Other times it takes people hitting me with a 2 X 4 (ouch) to wake me up. 

Here are 5 mistakes I’ve made in marriage. 5 mistakes I’ve repeated in marriage and 5 mistakes I hope to never make again. Just to be clear, that’s 5 mistakes total, not 15. Ahem, I haven’t made quite that many. ;)

  1. Expecting my husband to fill my every need. This is a pretty tall order. I have a lot of needs. Some of these expectations are known, but sometimes I want him to know what it is and fill it, because we are in love and people in love don’t have to be told what to do. They just know!!! Right? Yeah, I’ve learned, not so much. He’s human. I’m human and when we’re humans together, we mess things up. My husband is a man, not a God, but at times I’ve treated him as if he has failed because he hasn’t met my every need. Newsflash to me: he can’t. It’s just not possible. 
  2. Being too proud to apologize. Proud. Stubborn. Same thing in this case. I act like having to apologize for a misstep will paralyze me. What? Me? Admit to a mistake? Eh, eh, eh. Yeah. I’ll be honest with you. For years, I would drag my feet. I would mope. I would hope that my mistake would just be swept under the rug. Now, my husband is the forgive and forget type guy. He would forgive and forget sans apology, but last month, yes last month, for the first time ever I sincerely apologized to him. I knew I had screwed up. I knew I made a mistake. I found him, looked into his eyes and I apologized. When I asked for forgiveness, he said “of course”. He’s obviously a better human than me. The bonus is… it didn’t kill me. I LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT. I’m waiting for the shirt. I survived Apology 2014. Yes?
  3. My way or the highway. I’m pretty smart, so naturally I know how to do stuff better than my husband. Load the dishwasher, do laundry, discipline the children, pay the bills. I know it all! That attitude actually hasn’t served me well over the years. I’ve discredited my husband’s honor as a husband, a man, AND a dad. He felt like he was stupid a lot of the time, because I didn’t give any thought to his ideas or his way of doing things, but when I started listening to him, I realized “hey, um, wow! This guy is pretty smart. (he married me after all) Maybe I should listen to him more.” I’ve learned that a lot of times his ideas are much better than mine. 
  4. Not tonight, dear.  ;) I bought into the lie that once we were married, I never had to put out… unless I felt like it. Well, dude! I just never felt like it. I was tired, I had a headache, people have been touching me all day!!! If there was an excuse I could use it. But here’s the thing… I do things for people all the time that I don’t technically feel like doing. I do dishes when I don’t feel like doing them, because they need to be done. I help the kids with their homework when I don’t feel like it. So many things,but I neglected my husband and the things he needed, because I figured he was an adult, he could do those things himself. UGH. Really? So I stopped saying no. Hear me out, sometimes there is a good reason for saying no, but just because I can? That’s not a good enough reason in my  book. He’s not a dictator or an abuser, so I feel good about not saying no to him. I have found that even if I’m not in the mood when we start, I am when we get going. :-D
  5. I can do it myself. I’m pretty independent. I have learned how to do most things myself and I bristle at the thought of letting anyone help me. Even if I didn’t quite know how to do something, I would stumble through it. I think I have screwed up a few things this way. Over the years I have learned that it’s okay to accept help, and it’s okay to ask for help. I have learned that he likes it when I come to him for assistance with anything. It makes him feel good to be needed. It also lightens the load for me, because I have someone helping me! Win, win, and win. 

So, do you want to admit to your mistakes? I went first. It’s your turn. 

Edited to add: I’m really not as big of a jerk as I make myself sound. I promise! This is an accumulation of mistakes I have made over 16 years, so I think I get some grace in that regard. If my husband was speaking of me, he would never think these horrible things, much less say them. I tend to be harder on myself than anyone else is going to be. 

Spicy Variety

Or is it?

“Variety is the spice of life”. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it one too many times. According to The Free Dictionary, it’s something you say that means life is more interesting when it changes often and you have many different experiences. 

Oh, really? I guess I am not going to argue with that sentiment, because I love variety, I love change, I get bored with the monotony of my life. Hey. I’m a stay at home mom, not much changes around here. I mean, if you want variety, I’ve got laundry, dishes, diapers, bathrooms. If that’s not variety, I’m not sure there is such a thing. It’s definitely monotonous variety. 

I wonder if variety really is the spice of life though, because truthfully, variety stresses me the heck out! I want change and excitement, but I hate change and the only excitement I get are things that no one wants. I am comfortable sticking with what I know. I usually order the same things, no matter where I go. My husband encourages me to TRY NEW THINGS! I look at him, over the top of the glasses I don’t wear and say “You’re lucky I don’t like change. Dang lucky. Know what I’m saying, hm?” Then he shuts up, tries something new and complains about how he should have ordered what he usually ordered, because what he did order just was not that delicious. 

I prove my point by doing nothing, once again. 

When I go to the store to purchase some hairspray, I leave the store without purchasing hairspray. We can repeat this scenario with just about any product I need to purchase. Toothpaste, mini pads, band aids, etc, etc, etc! There are too many choices and I get so overwhelmed just trying to decide which one is best. Can they not just slap a product on the shelf and say “THIS. This will work if your hair is short, long, frizzy, dry, wet, oily, normal”? Obviously not. I’m expected to stand there, read who this product is perfectly perfect for and make a decision. 

Which leads me to this. If I purchase one, I will wonder “Huh, maybe I should have purchased the other one. I bet this one isn’t good enough, the other one is probably better. I wonder what Walgreens’ return policy is.” 

Variety leads to discontentment. You know that there is always something better out there. If you don’t actually know it, you know there must be something better out there and unless you can convince yourself that you don’t need better, you leave on an adventure to find better. Variety makes me forget to just love what I already have! 

So, variety may be the spice of life, but I am resisting, because for me, variety is the stress of life! I am going to live and love what I have. 

And next time I am in the store, I am going to send my 9 year old down the hair care aisle and I am going to love the hair spray she brings me. :)

How about you? Is variety the spice of your life or are you like me and it stresses you out? 

The Love Letter

I nearly jumped up. I wanted to rush out and show my husband what I had found. It was a love letter. It wasn’t to me, it was in a book, but it was exactly the kind of love letter I wanted to receive for myself. It had all the right words and all the best compliments. 

Something told me that I should maybe hold off on that a bit. I was tempted, so tempted. If he could just SEE the kind of letter I wanted him to write to me, surely he could come through on it. 

It was in a book I had checked out from the library. I can’t even remember the name of the book. I didn’t finish reading it, because from the first chapter and the synopsis of the book I knew that somebody died of cancer and I can. not. handle. death right now. So I returned the book. Unfortunately I can’t even give you a glimpse of what the letter said. 

I’ll be honest, I patted myself on the back for the restraint that I showed in not sharing it with my husband. I had a feeling that sharing what somebody else had written would be like rubbing my husband’s face in the fact that he doesn’t write those words or express those emotions. The kind of words and emotions other people receive and I desire. 

I am not always good at keeping my thoughts to myself. I think they need to be said, at any expense, so I was pretty proud that I had squelched the desire to jump up and show him exactly what I had just read. I almost told him that too, but again, something told me I should not share that information either. 

I’m not completely heartless. :)

The more I thought about it, the more thankful I was that I resisted. You know when your soul stirs and God starts asking you questions and you know it from the bottom of your heart? Yes. That. He asked me “how would you feel if your husband shared something with you that makes YOU feel like a failure? What if he told you that he wanted something that you weren’t capable of giving? Wouldn’t YOU be disappointed? Wouldn’t you think ‘but I do all this other stuff, because I love him and he isn’t happy because I can’t do. this. one. thing.'”

That made sense. 

My husband does things for me because he loves me. One night when we were driving to the store I asked him “How do you show your love to me?” and the first thing out of his mouth was “SEX” and I said “Yeah, okay, other than that! <laugh>” and he gave me a whole list of things that he does for me, because he loves me. And then he said “and I know your love language is words of affirmation and I know I am not very good at that. I am not good with words. I’m not good about leaving you a note. I’m not good about writing you letters. I know you need that”.

I reached across and held his hand and said “no. I want that, but you are doing just fine. Thank you.”

Sometimes I am so focused on what I want that I fail to see what I already have. At that moment, I vowed to start noticing the ways he shows his love to me. The way he dances with me in the kitchen, or how he grabs my butt when he thinks the kids aren’t looking, or when he gets my  water for me after we have already laid down for the night, because I am SO THIRSTY and there is a kid on my arm and I don’t want to move. He loves me, he really does, and he shows it in a million different ways and I am so blessed and why do I complain about the one thing he doesn’t or can’t do, like EVER? 

I’m learning. ;)

I feel okay posting this. He might see it, but he hasn’t read the last 200 posts of mine, so I think I’m safe, but just in case…. I LOVE YOU, honey!