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Friday, December 31, 2010

Emotional Debt


Today we celebrate our daughter Rose.  She would have been 8 today.  Eight!  The time has gone fast, but at moments it's been slow.  We've added three more children to our family since she left us (we now have five here).  If you don't know about our daughter Rose, she was stillborn at 38 weeks.  Born eleven days from her due date, fully grown, 7lbs. 7oz.  What a treasure it was to hold her, and the most difficult thing I've ever done was losing her.  Handing her over for the last time to the nurse who just came on duty is almost indescribable.  The pain burned into a mother's heart takes a long time to heal.  It's not natural or normal to give up your child and continue living when they cannot.

Yet our family continued on.  With the love of God, family and friends who shared our sorrow and healing we turned into better people.  But there were some financial decisions made during those first couple years that we wished we hadn't made.

We felt bad for our other two children at the time, not having a sister that they should have had.  Some of the purchases were a little over the top and we borrowed money that we fully intended to pay back within a year.  That didn't happen and we are still paying on those decisions made back then.

So the point of this post is encourage others that may be going through a difficult time or grieving to try not to heal with buying stuff you can't afford.  It won't work.  Tough times don't last forever and grief takes time to work through.

*Update:  Here's what we did on her birthday night:




 top image credit: photoxpress/loribogetti

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Family Traditions

What do you do every year with your family during the Christmas season?  We keep it pretty simple, but I wanted to share some of the things we do each year.  All of these ideas are easy on the budget, but great memory makers.

    Go up to the Manito Park Conservatory.  They decorate it with lights (a ton of lights!) every year, have carolers and Santa on some days.  They are done with light tours for the season, but it would be a fun little side trip for next year.

    I love this next one as much as my children: lights tour in the car with hot chocolate and popcorn while in PJ's.  I have my friend, Kendra, to thank for this idea, and it's the one that our kids start asking about as soon as December hits.

    The next one started before I was born, even before my parents were married.  We have tacos on Christmas Eve.  The way we prepare them is a bit different than the out of the box variety.  We fry up our own tortillas and have a unique way of preparing the meat filling.  Our Christmas Eve wouldn't be the same without this meal.

    For our children's stockings, I've made each of them their own with their name on it.  I was at my friend Carolyn's house a few years back and she had made her family some darling stockings and so I grabbed a pattern and got to work.  Santa brings the gifts to the stocking only.  We give the ones under the tree.

    I've been looking for either an old (or new) radio theater show to share the Christmas story with our children,  but haven't found anything yet.  We always read to the children from the Bible the story of Jesus' birth-Luke chapter 2.

    I almost forgot this one: my husband takes the children to the dollar store and lets them each pick out a gift for me and then he films them explaining why they picked what they did and then we play the video on Christmas morning after I've opened all the gifts.  I loved the dollar store peaches from China my 5 year old picked out  last year!

    I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!  I enjoy being with family and friends this time of year. Also, be looking for my blog to have a new look.  We've been working on it these past few days and hopefully we'll get up by the end of break.

    Recipe: Dinner Rolls Italiano


    I wanted to share one of my family's favorite recipes.  I brought these to a wonderful dinner that one of my husband's co-workers made (thanks Tammy!).  Everyone likes these rolls so much that they all requested the recipe.  I got this recipe from a dear friend while I was at WSU-it was from her neighbor who was an Italian lady who loved to cook.  The best part of this recipe is that it only takes an hour to assemble, rise and bake. 

    One Hour Dinner Rolls Italiano

    4 cups flour
    2 pkgs. yeast
    2T sugar
    2t garlic salt
    1t Italian seasoning

    1/2c water
    2T margarine or butter
    1 egg, beaten
    1/2c grated parmesan cheese

    For the top of rolls:
    2T margarine or butter
    1/4c grated parmesan cheese

    Mix first five ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate microwaveable bowl, add milk, water and butter.  Heat until the mixture is as warm as baby bottle temp.  Butter does not have to melt.  Add egg to liquid mixture.  Add liquid mixture to the dry mixture.  Add cheese.  Mix.  Kneed for a couple of minutes.  Add more flour if needed-till not sticky.  Let dough rise, covered, in a warm place for 15 minutes (I like to turn my oven on its lowest setting for about 3 minutes then turn it off to create a little proof box).  When you take out the dough, punch it down and divide it into 16 pieces.  Form the pieces into balls and dip into the 2T of melted butter and then dip into parmesan and place into a greased 9x13 pan.  Cover and let rise in the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove cover.  With rolls still in oven, turn on and heat to 375 and bake for 20-25 minutes, or till lightly browned.

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    eBillme


    I just found out about a neat-o way to pay online without using credit OR debit cards.  It's called eBillme.  You use your bank's bill pay to pay for purchases, making it cash based!  When you pay for an item online, choose eBillme at checkout, then you'll receive an email for your records.  Then you log on to your bill pay account and pay the bill (that is, if you've added eBillme as a payee already).  They also offer coupons and rebates right on their site.  You are also able to combine services from them and sites like Shop at Home, where you would then get even more off your purchase.

    I have not tried it yet, but I plan to sign up, and I'll let you know how it goes.  After reading that my own bank is in charge of protecting my information, (which makes sense because they are the ones the payment is being authorized through) I feel this could be a wonderful tool for those of us getting out of debt or those who don't like to pay online with a debit card.  Click here to find out more about eBillme.  Also, if anyone has used this service, let me know what you think.

    Thanks Hip2Save.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    Christmas Budget


    Our Christmas budget for all five of our children was $400.  Past tense.  We are now at $502.51 and will probably spend about $10 more.  Even sometimes the best planned out budget goes all wrong.  Part of that is my complete optimistic outlook that I could round up everything for $400 (or less, in my mind).

    This year we did wind up buying three electronic items (sorry I can't reveal what we got lest sneaky child eyes should see this post).  That type of item is never cheap, but I did find a used one on ebay that came with extras and we got a great deal!

    For the silver lining in this story: it's all paid for!  Nothing on credit, but I do have to admit I put our last items on the debit card (had to since we'd spent all the money in the gift envelope).

    This is a lot of money for us to spend, and is it really necessary?  We pray above all things that our children know in their hearts who Jesus is and that Christmas is about His birth.

    *Update: My husband pointed out to me that we were a little more lenient with this budget since we had worked so hard doing extra jobs during the fall and our children have to sacrifice quite a bit throughout the year due to decisions we made as many as 10 years ago with our finances. 

    Saturday, December 4, 2010

    November Grocery Totals


    Total Spent On Food: $238. 04
    Manufactures Coupons Used: $191.50
    Store Savings: $239.90

    A great month for me, but November gets a boost from eating with family a lot.....and stocking up on all the great Thanksgiving sales that the stores had.  It helped, too, that I was given a bunch of Albertsons doublers from kindhearted people, freezer cooked and used cash for all my spending.

    Now, if I could just own a dairy cow to help with all those related items......would I save by the time I cared for it, etc?  I'm serious-if you could answer this for me-and I know at least one person who knows the answer to this!

    image credit: photoxpress/paulocruz