24 December 2011


Today is Christmas Eve.  It's Mr. Ryan's birthday.  He is officially 4 years old!  He's in Florida right now, visiting with his father.  I can't help but think back over the years as my babies grow.  It wasn't really that long ago, when Terri was insistent that an apple was called "bateek" and Brianna was afraid of a certain hat scene on Blues Clues Big Musical.  Ryan was so tiny and the weather was a lot colder back in 2007.  Now, he wants to be called "Mr. Big Boy" and run around in circles.

There has been a lot through these recent years that happened around this time. I'm reminded of that each time we go back to court...or have to work out holiday visits...or when I see how much my babies have grown.  Now that their father is in Florida, we have more court to go to.  There is a 2-day trial coming up in April to address custody and visitation. I can never feel like "this is it" because as the kiddos continue to grow, and as life changes, we will very likely have to keep adjusting and readjusting based on the circumstance.

This year, I don't get to be with them on Christmas (or for Ryan's birthday), but I will get to spend a week with them in Florida.  It's always awesome times when I'm with them.  As we close out this year, I can't help but reflect on what we've been through and where we're going.  I see great things in the future!

Image from federatedmedia.net

2012 will be a great year!  Why? Because the economy will be looking up? Because of a potential new president?  No...because we can start now to plan how we will safely manage and save our money!  Think about all those bills you had in 2011.  Now think about how many of those bills you could have cut.  Now is a good time to shop around for better rates for your phone, internet, tv, etc.  If you are locked in a contract...well, you can ignore that until you get close to the end of your time period.  I have been paying a little over $80 with Verizon telephone and internet.  Just talked to a guy with Comcast who can give me the same for $39.99 (+ taxes and fees), with faster internet.  That would save me about half what I'm paying now!

Think about how you've been spending money on disposable things.  I'm not really big on buying paper towels, but when I have them, I use them like crazy.  If you're a regular paper towel user, this can get pretty expensive on a monthly basis, especially if you're picky and won't use just any kind.  It's better to buy towels for drying hands and dishes on.  Even keep some extra rags around for cleaning up crazy messes.  Also towels work in the place of sponges.  You can throw them in your laundry and use them again.   Towels cost more up front, but for what you pay, you will have run out of a lot of paper towels.  Check out Made In the Red Barn on Etsy.  There you can find "unpaper towels."

I've been thinking about air fresheners and ways to save money in that area.  I have used coupons to buy a few of those Glade Sense and Spray thingies.  It's quite nice to not have to remember to spray the room every 1/2 hour.  However, I've been wondering if there was a more cost-effective way to keep your home smelling wonderful.  Perhaps keeping rechargeable batteries around? Maybe using plug-ins?  What do you think?  Should I start making my own?

Probably next week...maybe...I will discuss changes I've made in my home decorating.  Nothing AMAZING, just different.  I'm still looking for ways to improve the atmosphere and make good use of space (not make it look like it was mostly free).

Merry Christmas and happy new year!  Think back on your year and anticipate ways you can do things a little better next year.  I'll see you in about a week-ish. ^_^

13 December 2011

Tis the Season

It's been a couple of months since I last posted.  Someday, I will be more consistent (I promise!).  This time of year is a bag of mixed emotions for me.  Four years ago around this time of year, was the beginning of an end for me.  The start of a new struggle that I never knew that I would still be dealing with.

I have heard about welfare, but not until four years ago did I know what it really was.  I heard the term food stamps, but for the first time in my life I applied for them.  I had actually been on medical assistance when I found I was pregnant with my first beautiful baby and we didn't have family health insurance.  I had never even understood public housing until I had started applying for it.  I've been in my home for almost two years now.  I don't plan on being here forever, but I'm so thankful that there are programs available to help you get on your feet.

This time of year gets pretty difficult for me emotionally mainly because I still feel like I've lost so much.  I feel that I'm constantly struggling to get back what was taken from me and that it's a hopeless battle.  What's even more stressing is holiday travel.  I have to invent money so I can spend holidays with all of my children.  I also have to constantly make changes to my goals because of the constant big changes my family is dealing with.

I don't usually worry about Christmas gifts.  I love being able to shop for people, but I don't sweat it if I don't have the funds.  Christmas isn't about what you spend financially on others.  It's about celebrating the greatest gift of all.  Jesus Christ.  He was born to die.  He died for all our little struggles in life.  He died for our sins.  Even if I feel like I'm fighting hopelessly or if I'm in a tight place, I can be reminded that all this stuff is temporary.

I also understand that there is always someone in a more difficult situation that than me.  This year, we are receiving Christmas gifts through donations from Toy for Tots.  If you don't know what it is, Toys for Tots is a charity, run by the US Marine Corps, that takes new toys to be given to less fortunate children.  They usually collect the toys starting in October for the Christmas season.  I am the face of one of the recipients.  I have also donated in the past.  Children don't understand much about financial situations.  I don't think they really care about how much money the family has as long as they feel safe, secure, and loved. They do understand toys, and don't care about how much they cost.

This time of year is the biggest time that people find it in their hearts to help someone less fortunate.  Don't just think about others during Christmas, but all year.  My budget is pretty non-existent these days, but I have always kept in mind to set aside something so that I can share.  It may not be much, but remember if millions are setting aside a little bit, think of how much there would be to give.

We like to open our hearts and dream big near the end of the year.  Don't lose that.  Ever.  God has given to us so that we can freely give to others all the time.