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! 

Because I Love You

I stormed out of the room, the baby in one arm, and pulled the door shut with great force. The sound of the door slamming echoed through the hallway and shook the floor a bit. I honestly didn’t mean to slam it that hard, I just forgot that the bedroom window was open, which always makes the door slam with ease. 

Although I flinched when the door slammed, I can’t say that I was really sorry when it did. The sound was a bit satisfying, although it was only a minute example of my frustration at the moment. “Good! He will know just how frustrated I am!” I thought. 

I plopped the baby in the rocking chair and sternly told her “Don’t move”, then I sat on the other side of the room, far away from her. 

I watched her. She watched me. I felt bad, down to the pit of my stomach, but I was just so tired and my head hurt. I just wanted to sleep and sleep was the last thing on her mind. It really wasn’t her fault that we had to run an errand and it took longer than expected and she fell asleep for one hour at 7:00PM, but SLEEP. Please, child, sleep! 

I dozed on the couch, while she played on the floor. He never came into the room, like I expected the slamming door would cause him to do. I knew there wasn’t much he could do. I knew he had to work in the morning. 

I knew all of this, but I was mad, and sad, and tired, and frustrated. I need sleep!

Eventually, and much earlier than I expected, she started to get sleepy eyes. She came to the couch and said “mama?” I scooped her up, changed her diaper, and then said “Are you ready to sleep now?” She rested her head on my shoulder and nodded gently. 

As I walked into the bedroom, I expected to see him sleeping, blissfully unaware that I had even left the room. Instead, he sat there, awake, mask off, staring at the ceiling. I halfway knew I had screwed up, again. Seems like I’ve been screwing up and apologizing a lot lately. 

Not this time. I was too ashamed. I just crawled next to him and went to sleep. 

Just five hours later he woke to get ready for work. I barely opened my eyes when he kissed me goodbye. Then the guilt hit me. He would be working hard, all day, on five hours of sleep. I knew he wasn’t at work yet, but I texted and apologized. I explained that while I was frustrated, I had forgotten that the window was open and did not mean to slam the door. 

He had every reason to be angry with me, but he wasn’t. He said “No worries. The window being open sure helped the door to close. I know it’s going to be a tough day for both of us, but try to have a good day.”

“Why are you so nice to me?” I asked.

What he said made me cry. 

“Because I love you. It’s hard with a toddler when you want to get to bed and she doesn’t…We are in this together.”

My husband often thinks that he doesn’t measure up and that he can’t compare to other people. He beats himself up because his prayers, if he says them, aren’t eloquent. He doesn’t make a lot of money and he feels guilty when we struggle. However, he has a more forgiving heart than anyone else I have ever known. He doesn’t hold grudges. When he should be angry, he is supportive and loving. In all of these ways, I believe that he is a direct reflection of Jesus. His forgiveness, his love, his character. I know he has a hard time believing that, but people often don’t know how beautiful they are to others. 

There is no one else I would rather do life with. Today, instead of beating myself up over my poor reactions last night, I remembered everything he texted me and was inspired to be a better person. I am so thankful. 

I hope everyone has someone like that. <3 

Large Family, One Income, and a Day at the Fair (Possible?)

10479710_10154459979635187_685937151355454692_n

I am a person that is big on adventure. I love to go, do, and see things. Out of necessity and desire, I go, do, and see on a budget. A small budget. 

I’ve come across people, with smaller families and bigger income than us, that think it’s impossible. My neighbor, married, with two kids, and a double income family was just lamenting yesterday about how much her boys want to go to the fair, but it costs so much. I looked at her and said “We went yesterday, we spent $109″. Her eyes bulged out of her head. “How did you do that?”

Taken from our county fair website, here is the breakdown of prices for the fair and our family (our 20 year old chose not to go this year):

3 adult admissions (and since when is a 14 year old considered an adult, other than when it’s financially beneficial for you????): $30

2 children admissions: $14

Child under 6: Free

3 ride bracelets: $75

Ride Coupon book (for the hubs and I, who don’t ride more than a few rides): $23 for 25 coupons

Parking Pass: $6

Total: $148

That total actually makes me feel a bit queasy. Then when you add in the price of food and games… Oh, my, that day at the fair just made mommy throw up and I didn’t even get to ride the Yoyo.

So how did we do it for just $109? 

1. Our kids get a small spending amount every month. We told the kids “Allowance or fair, but not both”. They actually did the math! “How much does it cost to get into the fair and ride rides?” They found out the benefits they got with the fair far exceeded what they would get in cash. 

2. Next question! “Rides or games?” I told them I would give them $25 for games or they could have a ride bracelet. They chose the ride bracelet. :) Smart kids.

3. We pre-purchased our tickets! My neighbor did not know you could do this, but yes! Several outlets around here sell the tickets before the day of the fair and they are considerably cheaper:

  • 3 adult tickets: $24
  • 2 children tickets: $10
  • Child under 6: free
  • 3 ride bracelets: $66
  • Coupon book of 30 rides (as opposed to the 25 at the gate): $20
  • Parking Pass: $5

Total: $125 We would have saved $23 right there.

4. Blood donation. My 20 year old donated blood at the Red Cross and received 2 free tickets to the fair. My mama didn’t raise a dummy. My 20 year old gifted those to us, I used them for 2 adult admission tickets. Savings: $16

5. I’m not entirely a big meanie. We told the kids we would advance their next allotment of spending money, if by chance they saw a game they wanted to play, a food they wanted to eat or a toy they wanted to have. My son wanted a Mt Dew. He came back and said “$3???? I’ll wait”. My 9 year old spent hers plus $1, but since I ate half of her cotton candy, I forgave that dollar. ;)

6. Food. So how did we handle the food? Well, we did what we always do. As stated above, the kids had some money they COULD spend, but they knew it was coming from THEIR money and not MINE and they are always a little more careful with THEIR money than they are MY money. I told you my mom didn’t raise a dummy. I digress. Back to food. We brought it with us. Yep, carted it in my husband’s HUGE lunch bag. We made four PBJ sandwiches. I cut each sandwich into 4 pieces so they were grabbable. These went into a large Rubbermaid food container. My husband made meat tortilla wraps. I cut up cheese into bite size pieces, my husband made some Peanut butter celery bites. I grabbed a sleeve of Ritz and a sleeve of graham crackers for any snacking needs. Each of my kids owns a Thermos water bottle and they filled those before we left. The night before the fair, we froze half of a gallon of water, filled it with water the next morning and brought that for refills. 

I know there are people that think you can’t experience the sights! the sounds! the taste! of the fair without doing it ALL, but my kids did not complain. They knew they COULD do some things, but they WOULD have to give up others. (I like CAPS) It was their choice. It wasn’t their mean mama telling them they couldn’t. When they knew they could buy a corn dog, but there were some free sandwiches, they chose the sandwich. My kids aren’t dummies either. 

So, that’s how we did the fair on $109. Yeah, it’s still a bit spendy, but if I’m being honest, it really only cost me $9 out of my pocket. I listed an item and sold it for my parents and the deal was if I did that, they would pay me $100. It was perfect timing. :) When you subtract out the spending money the kids DIDN’T get, because they chose the fair, I think I made money. Woot! 

I want my kids to experience all the sights and the sounds of life, but they also need to know there is a cost to all that. I am pretty darned proud of them and their spending choices. I’m proud that they can walk right by the barking carnies and say “nope, I like my money more than I like that stuffed animal that I will donate in 6 months”.

Smart, eh?

And, really, they look like they were having fun!

10483911_10202565469038908_8003143978200742834_n

Are you going to the fair this year?