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Update: That HUGE grocery shop

Last weekend I alluded to a HUGE grocery shop and dangled a carrot in front of my friends. I said I would be back to share how it went. Then life happened and I am not making excuses, but… 

Well, yes I am. School happened. A high schooler. Yikes! Two home schooled kiddos, yi yi yi. Several doctor appointments, and working my little side job. I am not a waitress in a cafe bar. Although that is not a bad idea. 

Yeah, so anyway, In this post, I mentioned that I would like to switch to a huge monthly shop for non-perishable groceries. I planned out an entire month of meals, which was a whole lot easier than I thought. If you want to know how I did that, I can tell you… later… again. I use Plan to Eat to plan our meals. Try it, you’ll like it, then come back and thank me. You’re welcome. 

I checked my list and deleted all the items I already had on hand. I only planned side dishes for the first week of the month, because I fully anticipate returning to the store each week for produce, salads, cottage cheese, etc. 

Our first stop was at our local produce store. We stock up on a week’s worth of produce and a month’s worth of bulk here. We gravitate mostly towards items that are on sale. Our fruit consisted of apples and bananas last week because those were the least expensive. The total amount for produce for the week and bulk for the month (mostly rice) was $50. We filled 6 bags. 

Our next stop was at Winco. Let me tell you, it got a little stressful here. One reason is because I was using the Plan to Eat “app” on my phone. I set the dates for the full month and started on the non-perishable foods. After that, I switched the dates for just the week so I could get all of the perishable foods we needed just for the week. Before this, I did not realize that when you toggle between dates, your items will show back up on your list. I will definitely need to come up with a better system. I typically have a good memory, so I knew what I had already picked up, but we had 4 kids with us, and it was a busy day at the store and I felt like I was in the way of everyone. I haven’t decided how I am going to handle this on future shopping trips, but I trust I will figure something out!

Total spent for a month’s worth of staples and the weekly perishables: $200. I didn’t get EVERYTHING I needed, because some of the stuff wasn’t on sale and I knew it goes on sale every other week. So I will check the prices on those things when I return for our small weekly shop. 

We picked up 20lbs of ground meat from a friend and spent $50 there. This will last us at least 10 weeks, but usually more like 15. They also blessed us with a few different cuts, which I found out when I thawed some ground meat yesterday, only to open the package and find some tenderloin. That will teach me to read the package. 

Pizza was on the menu tonight, but Chad and I talked about it and decided that instead of going to the store to buy the toppings and sauce, we would see what we could make from what we have. We are barbecuing the tenderloins we thawed yesterday, making a potato salad (thank you, mom, for the mayo!), and grilling some zucchini that our friends AND the neighbor gave us. 

During the past week, I went to the grocery store one time and that’s because my daughter wanted to buy herself a cake. I found some marked down meat, a pound of ground lamb and a sirloin steak, and paid $8 total for those. 

So our total spent for the month, so far is $308, but some of this stuff will last past a month. I am excited to go pick up our perishables tomorrow and see how little we can spend. I am also interested in the time we save. I think we spent a total of 3 hours last week grocery shopping. It’s hard to tell, because we also went school clothes shopping and those trips tend to run together. 

Update next week? Same time, same place? Maybe? 

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.

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!

My Marriage… On line

I have been married for 14 years. In those 14 years, we have been through a lot. Isn’t that what EVERYBODY says? “We’ve been through a lot”. Well it’s true. 😉 If you looked on my facebook page, you would probably figure that it’s been 14 years of perfection. We came into marriage knowing what it’s all about, we have it figured it out, we never (EVER) argue, fight or have any issues.

Not.

We do. We have a lot of issues. I get irritated with him. Sometimes it’s justified. Many times I am just being me. There are days I want to shoot off to my blog or Facebook and let. him. have. it. Not so much because I think it will work. More because in those moments I want to be heard and understood and  what better place for this than on-line? I surround myself with people that usually like me, so I wouldn’t have a shortage of people to back me up or agree with me!

Somehow, no matter how strong the urge, I resist. Why? Why do I do this, even in my moments of insanity justified reactions?

I don’t do it, because I respect my husband, our marriage and our privacy. I recognize that there are some things that should just be between us. Many things, once they are put on-line, can  not be taken back. I think I am responsible for the image that my family and friends have of my husband. If I go online and bash him, what does that do to the image people have of him? How silly will I look when we kiss and make up and  I start gushing out lovey dovey pukey wookey things about him?

This is not to say that I don’t talk about issues with ANYONE. I always have my lovey dovey pukey wookey husband. I have a journal. I have one a few good friends, who I can tell  anything to, without the worry that it will change her their perspective of my husband. I don’t generally tell my mom, acquaintances, his friends, our mutual friends.

If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that my husband is a pretty darn good guy. He takes out the garbage, he cleans out the cat box, he loves me when I least deserve it. If there is a time he is acting HUMAN, it’s because he’s HUMAN or because my perspective of the situation is totally skewed. It’s not because he is a bad guy that needs to be kicked while he is down.

There is so much negativity on-line and in marriages, I really want to do my part to not contribute to that negativity.

How about you?

 

Repost: Love Letter

Jessica’s post today at Bohemian Bowmans reminded me of this post I wrote when I still used blogger. It was originally published 6/6/11. Sometimes I still need to hear it.

I received a card and a letter over the weekend that said what I most needed to hear, from the person I most needed to hear it from.

The card says:

Because you refuse to give up when times are tough or follow the easier path…….
Because you stand up for what you believe in and aren’t afraid of what people think……..
Because you’re brave even when you’re unsure of what will happen next and you learn from your mistakes….
Because of all this and more, you’re an inspiration and I know in my heart you can do anything you want to
.

The letter included is 3 pages long, handwritten:

“Dear Amy, I saw this card and it made me think of you….all day long I have been thinking about the words I want to say. You are beautiful. You are kind. You are giving. You are a great mother. You are a great wife. I watch you and I can see that you don’t always believe these things yourself…..I want you to know you are not a failure. I have seen you succeed, when other people said you wouldn’t…..You have a heart for people that are hurting. If I had one wish for you, it would be that you have that same heart for yourself….. Recently I have watched as self doubt and fear has stopped you from doing things you want to do….. You have an amazing faith in God. Lean on Him. Then put one foot forward. You can do this. You are inspiring and a leader. You show people that you believe in them.

I want you to believe in yourself.

I’m sorry for all the times I was hard on you. I’m sorry for the times I didn’t believe in you. I’m sorry that I missed so many opportunities to be your biggest cheerleader…I love you”.
I quoted a lot from the letter, but I did not quote it all. There is no need to. All of the above is very important, very uplifting and very encouraging, however I think the most important part is who signed the card and the letter:

“Amy”

Yes, me.

I was waiting for my husband’s prescriptions to be filled on Friday. I had already perused the shoes and the clothes and the make up and yeah, you get the idea. I checked back in at the pharmacy and had to wait another 10 minutes. I walked over to the card department. I am always looking for another card to send to my Compassion kids, give to my husband, send to my mom, etc. I picked up this card and I. liked. it. I said “I wish someone would see this card and buy it for me. It makes me feel good”. I put it back, hoping. This voice inside whispered “Buy it for yourself”. At first thought, it was kind of a crazy idea, but I picked it up and put it in my basket.

The more I thought about it, the more crazy it didn’t seem. I am harder on myself than I am on any other person. I doubt, I self criticize and I don’t believe in myself. I do not see what other people tell me they see. I don’t love myself the way other people love me.

All the people in the world can love me, but it doesn’t mean a thing unless I love myself.

What do you need to tell yourself? I want to challenge you to write yourself a letter. See in yourself what other people see in you. Write it and believe it. It will make a world of difference in how you feel about yourself.

I pick up the card and I start to cry. I can’t help it.

I didn’t even know I liked myself until I told me.

A Moment of Clarity

I have no problem admitting that I am a bit of a procrastinator. I think my aunt had a little bit of heart failure and learned a whole lot of patience and grace when we threw my parents a 25th wedding anniversary party. I see nothing wrong with waiting until the last minute to send out invitations. Apparently this is not the norm? I might even be the exact same way with birthday parties. Just the other day, I was at the store 10 minutes before my son’s birthday party to buy the cookies he requested.

Just roll with it! It turned out fine.

So, it should come as no surprise that there are unfinished projects around my house. Sometimes it takes me forever to get around to them. After our dishwasher incident, it took a year to get flooring in. It honestly didn’t bother me.

Procrastination can rear its ugly head in the form of beating myself up though. It’s hard not to worry what people are going to think if they come over and see that I STILL haven’t put the trim back up. Or that the kitchen cabinets still haven’t been painted. (I’ve about given up and started putting the doors back on)

This is where I was at yesterday. Beating myself up for everything that wasn’t getting done and everything else I had been putting off. As I walked down the hallway and took note (again!) of unfinished projects, I had one of those aha moments. A moment of clarity. There are some things I never put off. Spending time with my family. Loving on my kids. Playing with and talking to my kids. Doing a last minute favor for a friend. I instantly felt better.

Honestly, when my kids are grown, when I am old, none of us are going to look back and think I should have gotten that trim up. The trim will remain the same…. ALWAYS. But in another year, my kids are going to be different, older, changed. I don’t want to waste time missing the here and now with them. My husband and I aren’t going to treasure all of our home improving memories. We are going to be thinking about how we took the family camping or about our first ever vacation as a family of 6.

As long as we continue to value what is important (family, kids, relationships,memories) I am going to quit beating myself up over stuff that’s not. (trim, cabinet doors, washing the car) I’ll have plenty of time to work on that to do list someday, I may never have another opportunity to work on what’s important.

So, if you come over and see all I haven’t done, smile, because now you know what I have been doing instead. 🙂

In love, in friendship, in Him,
Amy

Dear God

Dear God,

I… feel like a failure. Sad, isn’t it? I know you tell me I’m not. I know how valuable I am to you, but honestly, sometimes I don’t think it’s enough.

I hate balancing the checkbook. We have minimalized so much and it doesn’t seem like it’s helping. Oh, I know, it’s only by your grace that we have even made it through the last 4 months. There is absolutely no other way to explain it. But there is still some stuff I’ve had to let go. Some medical bills. Not too big of a deal, right? They usually wait. Usually. I hate that it’s come to this though. After Chad’s last job, we were doing well, now it seems we are right back where we were before then.

I know that this isn’t even the hardest times we will go through. Our house isn’t much. It’s small. Much too small by American standards for a family of 7, yet I do fear that we won’t be able to keep up and we will lose it. Sometimes, by faith, I want to finish our “renovations”. Put the trim up, repaint, replace the flooring where needed, but then I think “what’s the point, if we just lose it later?”.

Then let’s get to that whole family of 7 thing. Really? Why now? When I should be rejoicing over new life, I am gripped by the fear of “how?”, “why?” and “what do people think of me? Us?”. Sometimes I am so ashamed of my pregnancy. I truly want people to think my weight gain is from a bad diet. I see and hear what people say about people like us, not realizing they are talking about us too. It hurts. A lot. It causes me to retreat in my shame. Even when people are positive and excited, my insecurities wonder if they are saying one thing to me, and whispering behind their hands when I am not looking. I am having a hard time believing in the sincerity of people right now.

And, God, sometimes I hear you. Yep, I hear the whispers, I feel the nudge… And I flat out ignore you. “Pray for her”, “ask him if you can pray for him”, “step forward, ask for prayer”, “call her, tell her you need to talk”. I don’t do it. I hear it all, and I just turn my back. I say no.

I feel like I should be doing something. I know you told me to serve my family, but I wonder if it’s enough. Should I be doing more? Is this really where you want me? My service to my family, sponsoring Compasson kids… Is that what you want from me right now? I want to help bring in a income, but do people hire pregnant ladies? Am I worrying about things that aren’t supposed to be MY worries?

I feel like I am skating through life right now. I don’t know WHAT to do. I want things to be easy (hey, I’m being honest), but I also want things to be blessed. Like Laura Story sings:


‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

I’m thankful, so thankful, for so much. We have had a good summer. We have been blessed enough to go to the beach (came back to no job), go camping, spend time together as a family… And during those days I felt so sick from pregnancy, I could barely function, I was grateful that my husband WAS here to help.

Sometimes blessings come at a great great cost. And it’s not the blessings I am worried about, I know those will come. It’s the cost that causes me to sleep restlessly, wake too early, nap too much, and grump at people.

I know in my head that you are there, but sometimes I feel in my heart, that I am gone. And I don’t know what to do about it.

Just being honest.

Love,
Me

P.S. I’m sure I have forgotten a lot of things in my heart and on my mind. Can I reserve the right to come back and talk about it some more?

P.P.S. I am going to hit publish before I doubt myself. Sometimes people think I have it all together and I surely don’t.

P.P.P.S. thank you for listening, God. I love you.