Penny Pinching

I didn’t have any real “New Years Resolutions” this year.  Something always happens and I fail.

Especially now with as sick as I’ve been, I’m not going to try anything too crazy.  I’d say “get healthier,” but my doctor doesn’t care what I eat or drink at this point, as long as I can keep it down.

With the birth of our 4th child coming however, I really want to try to be more frugal this year.

I coupon occasionally, when it’s products that we’d regularly use.  I don’t do the ‘extreme coupon-ing’ for major stocking up; I don’t buy 12 newspapers and the thought of ordering coupons by mail is weird to be, but some people swear by it.   But I love reading coupons blogs to see what kind of deals I can get, if I could manage to get my hand on THAT many coupons…

Me and the Coupon Queen herself, Joni Meyer-Crothers

at her book signing (FreeTastesGood.com)

I’ve started researching to make my own cleaning and beauty supplies… some other DIY things to save money.  

We thought about cloth diapers for the baby, but not sure how the childcare situation will be yet long-term, and not everyone is a fan of cloth diapers.

I’m taking the pants that my daughters, which they had received from my cousins, and have grown to tall for (thank you elastic adjusted waistbands!) and turning them into skirts.  I don’t have a wide variety of Maternity clothes, but I’ve found patterns to make my own… the catch is finding the energy to do it…

I know many moms who have started their own side businesses – crafts, skin care, etc.  But I’m not that crafty and you have to spend money and make a ton of products in hoping to sell a few.

I’ve tried to sit through those survey sites, too, but I never seem to qualify, so it’s almost a waste of my time…

I have a Sam’s Club Membership, I’d like to start doing more bulk meal preparations, but again, a lot of it has to do with time and energy…

So at this point, I’m just trying to cut as many corners as I can, trying to set money aside for things like Bible Quiz trips, and maternity leave.

What money-saving tips are you using?  Any suggestions for me?

First Published 1/3/14

Surviving my first year with P.O.T.S.

My New Year’s resolution for 2013 was to eat healthier and run a 5k.    Who would’ve thought cutting out french fries and soda would darn near kill me….

I’d been diagnosed with NCS after the birth of my daughter Samantha in 2005.  I’d been exhibiting symptoms for YEARS, but because they came and went, and seemed ‘unrealistic’ to my childhood pediatrician, it was untreated.

I’d spent a few years taking Toporol and a variety of Beta Blockers, all of which were absolutely awful, and actually caused some pretty severe anxiety issues.  One morning I woke up and decided that I wasn’t going to allow the headaches and dizzy spells control my life, and I threw my pills away, in Jesus Name!

I’d been symptom free for about 3 years, a few bad days here and there, but nothing like it had been.  Then Pastor called for a church-wide Daniel Fast, and I thought it was a perfect time for me to cut my yucky soda habit.

And no, I’m not exaggerating when I say it almost killed me – started having my first ‘episode’ (considered by my neurologist to be seizures) while driving.  Not good, but I was able to pull over before things really got dark. 

I didn’t really realize what was going on.  I did a 48 hour detox water drink (water, cucumbers, lemon and mint), to help cleanse out the chemicals in my body.  It was supposed to last a week, but I couldn’t handle more than 2 days.

I switched to just water, no juice and NO SODA and still felt really dehydrated, like I was voiding more than I was taking in, when I knew I was drinking at least 70 oz each day.  Then other weird symptoms started to develop.  My word would slur, or I’d use the wrong word completely.  I’d lose focus, and would be extremely exhausted.  All this within a 1 week period.  I went to my doctor (who was a new doctor, fresh out of med school), who was testing me for diabetes, everything came back normal.

So I went to Facebook to lament.  I’m thankful I did, because a few high school classmates of mine had also recently experienced similar symptoms and had been given a diagnosis of POTS.  So I looked it up.  Sure enough, everything I’d been experiencing was right there.  So I printed out the information I found and brought it to my next appointment.  She’d heard of POTS, but was told in one lecture that covered it, that she’d likely never see a case.

As it happens, she’d had a patient come in earlier that day who also had already been diagnosed with POTS, and was picking her brain about her condition because her case reminded me a lot like mine.  My doctor told me that the brain fog and word jumbles where this other patients biggest hurdle, as she was a university professor.

The more research I did, the more people I spoke with, I realized that this was going to be another fun battle.  I needed to maintain my BP or the seizure would start again (Gotta love when the Doctor tells you to add salt and caffeine to your diet) and I needed to keep my stress levels low (Did I mention I have 3 kids?).

We tried some meds but I hated them.  The Beta blockers gave me anxieties again, and the BP meds made me exhausted.  I phased them out and trusted in Healing, because medications were not the answer.  I adjusted my diet, added salt (I honestly don’t use salt in my cooking) and enjoyed my tea and soda.  I also forced myself to drink more sports drinks (the zero calorie ones, which are gross, in my honest opinion).

Now that I’m pregnant, it’s brought on all kinds of new experiences… (See my other blog Sociably Surviving Hyperemesis).

I still have bad days, and I’ve learned from others with POTS and from experience what triggers can be such as antibiotics and dehydration.  I may have to deal with this condition from time to time, but I’m not going to ever let it control me.

 

Body Images

Being a woman is tough… it’s absolutely awful at times.

Women can be mean and judgmental… don’t deny it, we try not to be, but we all make at least one mean comment in our lives.

There aren’t many women who portray themselves as the positive role model that I’d want for my daughters.  So that’s who I’ve got to become.  But who do I look up to?

So many women look to Hollywood as to what they should be like.  Hollywood is a lie.  When I read this recent article about Jennifer Lawrence and airbrushing, I was sick to my stomach.  She’s gorgeous, and even with the makeup on, they still felt the need to paint her face more and make her look skinnier.  It made me sad, and yet I was glad to know she didn’t appreciate it either.

I’m the first to admit that I’m fairly plain… I hate make-up, but use it for “special occasions.”  I had a hormone imbalance that caused acne in my adulthood that no product would remedy.  I don’t have the money to get my hair done every other month, and my mousey brown hair is dull.  I have health issues preventing me from being as athletic as I use to be; I’ll never have the skinny chicken legs I’d always wished I had. I’ve got stretch marks and hips from carrying 3, now 4, babies.

And you know what, I’m OK with that.  Will I be parading around in a 2-piece bathing suit?  No.  I’m too modest for that, my body is mine and it’s private.  I’m not going to be ashamed of the body and face that I have, but I’m going to take care of it.  Will I go on crazy diets to be a size 2?  Probably not.  But I’ll eat right, drink my protein shakes and take my kids for walks and on bike rides.

While I do all these things, to show my girls who a real woman is, I can’t be the only one.  I want their teachers, their baby sitters, their friends’ moms, and their friends, to also be confident in themselves.  While I show them daily who I am in my, my husband’s, and in God’s eyes, I pray that the other women in their lives will also look away from what ‘popular culture’ is telling them is appropriate, and look to God for what is right.

We are made in His image, and we should take care of the body we’ve been given, but we shouldn’t be looking to gross exaggerations of what some Hollywood photographer thinks a beautiful woman is.

Me, all dolled up

Me, on a normal day

First Published 12/20/13

Surviving Our First Bible Quizzing Season

After 9 months, countless hours of study time, 9 state and regional tournaments, and finally JBQ Nationals, the Junior Bible Quiz (beginner division) season is over.

My Bella Samantha, who only just turned 8, accomplished more this year than many thought she could.  Did she win a lot of individual trophies – no.  Did that disappoint her – yes.

But she’s taking away so much more than a few pieces of hardware from this season:

First,  she memorized 191 verses, 13 chapters of Psalms.  How many kid, let alone adults, can say that?

Probably the most important thing that came out of it all: in February, she was filled with the Spirit of God, and in March Baptized in His Name!

I could stop listing right now, and that would be enough for me.

This year, she made new friends.  To many, she may seem outgoing, but she’s really quite shy.  It was nice to see her making friends at the National competition, knowing they’d probably compete against each other.  And when it was done, they hugged and said “See you next year”.

I watched her confidence grow this year.  Not to say that she still didn’t get shaken and made mistakes, but she’s learning to just move past it.

We watcher her handle loss like a champ.  Whether a horrible landslide defeat or a tight match, she made me so proud to watch her walk away with a smile and be thankful for the questions she did answer, or learn from the ones she got wrong.

We saw her become a much better student, understanding concepts quicker than before.  Even testing into a 5th grade level in one area of study, while she’s only in the 2nd grade.

I’m so thankful for the coaches, Gary, Rachel and Naomi, for teaching and encouraging her.  To her teammates Ashlyn and LJ, the Junior Team Jadon and Caelyn and all the families: it’s been a great season, and we were all truly blessed.

Only 3 months until next season starts, she already wants to get started studying.  I told her to enjoy the rest of her summer!  Next season Emmalee will be on her team, and new challenges will be faced.  Emma is even more shy than Samantha, but boy is she a little spitfire…

Team Toledo Juniors and Beginners

 

Team Toledo Beginners, 13th Place JBQ Nationals

Go Cart Fun for the team and families

The Season is OVER!  Time to Celebrate!

 

Game Night Traditions

I love board games.

 

Call me a dork if you want, but I love board games.

 

I’d rather play a game and talk, then just sit and talk. Because if the conversations become dry, they can be revived by the game.

 

So why then am I the only one that ever wants to play games?  THEY’RE FUN!!!!

 

OK so here are a few of my favorite games:

 

Phase 10 has been a favorite for many years!  It’s an easy game to learn, and it’s can drive people crazy.    My husband works a crazy schedule, and I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like.  So we started playing 1 hand a night.  So far – he’s won every hand.  Jerk.  Our goal is to not only complete the game’s set 10 phases, but the additional 10 phases that we found online.

I Love The 80’s is a game I bought last year.  I’ve played it a few times, and it’s definitely easier to play with people who lived, even partially, in the 80’s.  Playing with someone born in 1991 isn’t as much fun….

Apples To Apples can be a lot of fun, with the right people.  I’ve played it where everyone is taking it WAY TO SERIOUSLY and you want to stop after one round.  But if you are a silly group, the game can get quite interesting…

Smart A$$.  It’s a very simple game to play, but boy, the arguments that break out are hilarious!

 Telestrations is a game that we’ve recently discovered.  Again, it kinda depends on the people you’re playing with. But it’s a lot of fun, and can you can hear some very interesting explanations and back stories…

I never really got into Pente, when it was just Steve and I.  But when our kids became old enough to play with us, it became fun.

Ahh Risk…  I have a love/hate relationship with this game.  I’ve been playing it with Steve for 12 years… and well, apparently I don’t play it right.  Yet I always win…

Feb 9, 2012

Growing up in the 80’s, and in the New Millennium

I am living in the same neighborhood that I grew up in.  It’s looks the same as it did when we moved here from Massachusetts when I was 5.  My kids will go to the same schools that I did. They may even have some of the same teachers (super weird, right).  

Right now, my son is watching The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. on Netflix.  OMG it’s funny, yet kinda bad!  But he is loving it.  HeMan and SheRa – wow, those also are not as good as I remember.  I’ll sit and watch Transformers (the original, not the new one) Hello Kitty Furry Tail Theatre, Rainbow Brite with my kids.  They’ve seen the newer cartoons, but for some reason prefer the stuff that Steve and I watched. 

Steve and I have been joking about all the stories our parents would tell us.  “When we were kids, our TV’s were black and white, and only had 3 channels”  “We listened to 8 tracks and Vinyl Records.”  “We had roller skates” “We didn’t have computers”.

When I was a kid, we grew up with 2 TV’s, with cable.  Today, we have 2 TV’s, no cable, but we have Apple TV and Netflix.

We had cassettes and CD’s.  Now, we have a few CD’s, but mostly we download from Amazon or iTunes.

We had roller blades.   My kids want those stupid wheely shoes.

 

We had 1 family computer.  In my house we have 2 desk tops, 3 lap tops and an iPad.  Oh yea, and our phones.

When I played video games, I used a super Nintendo and gameboys.  My kids have games downloaded on the iPod Touch and the Wii.  

I’m thankful for the technology that we have.  I’m thankful for the improvements that have been made.  

But hey, there are just parts of our growing up what we think that they should know: game cartridges, disc-man, cassettes in cars; you know, the important stuff

 

He will never know what an Atari is…

 

Feb 2, 2012

Strong Enough To Break

 

 

 

Have you ever had a moment when EVERYTHING starts to make sense, and scare the tar out of you at the same time?  That moment when the planets align and you feel peace, but the peace you feel ends up being pure nostalgia?

 

I went to a concert alone a few weeks ago.  I didn’t know anyone there, but I think it was better that way.  I’d been to the venue before, but it had been 8 years.   I really enjoyed the almost 2 hour drive there, I really needed some alone time to think things through.

 

I got a great spot, 6 feet from the stage.  I hate those people who just push and shove their way up to the front – really, we’re adults – act like it.  Besides, it’s better to be a few feet back so you can see everyone and everything. 

 

And then the music takes over.  I really needed an outlet, and honestly I haven’t had one for a while.  I don’t do clubs or bars – it’s not me and it never will be.  But a concert, when there is true passion behind the music, and the music is good, that is my refuge.  

 

I worked at a radio station for a few years in and just out of college.  We had a concert almost every month.  That’s probably why my daughter is so musically charged, she was surrounded by it in the womb.

 

But this night, hearing songs that I listen to frequently live and in my face, something clicked.  And then I hear it – ‘Strong Enough To Break’.  And everything made sense.  

 

I’ve ALWAYS been beat up, knocked down, abused, humiliated, taken advantage of.  I’ve let it happen since childhood – heck I let it happen that night by letting people push in in front of me.  I recognize that I do this, but I don’t know how to not.  It’s something that I’d just accepted.  But hearing that song that night… it hit me.  Over 20 years of mental abuse, some of it my own.  I’m broken and have been knocked down, and I let it happen.  But I always got back up; that’s got to count for something, right?

 

I’m human, I’ll make mistakes.  I’m trying to grow, but walking down unfamiliar paths.  I feel like I’m doing it all alone, even though there are so many people around me… I’m letting go of those who maybe haven’t given me the support that I need.  

 

Have you taken a look at yourself lately?  Because I am right now, and I don’t know who I see right now.  

 

So thank you to Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson for giving me a great night; helping me let go of all the stress in my life, if only for a few hours.  You’re music has always brought me great joys, and I’m thankful you do what you do.

 

Oct 13, 2011