Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fun Lazy Christmas Break Morning

Cuddling Susanna and Big Tom
      I don't have to go in to work today until 1:00pm. so the kids and I have had a wonderful, fun, lazy morning.  I struggle to relax and do fun things with my kids because I am stressed about constantly being behind in the house. I am definitely a type-A personality and I have a hard time with my house being messy and filthy. However, this week for my birthday, Daniel and the kids blessed my socks off by cleaning up the house for me. It was the best present ever! They got me other gifts but none could compare to the luxury of my home being cleaned up for me. It gave me the gift of time, time for mornings like this...

I pulled out this book I have had for awhile by Lisa Whelchel. I love it because it lists most Christmas traditions and how they point us to Christ. This morning we read about the Christmas tree and how it is a symbol of life. Jesus came and died on a tree that we may have eternal life (1 Peter 2:24). We talked about how the triangular shape of the tree with three points can represent the trinity, God the Father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit. We noted how the tree points toward heaven just as we can always be pointing others toward heaven.

 When we were finished reading about the tradition of Christmas trees, the book suggested taking sugar cones, green icing and mini M&M's to make our own edible Christmas trees.
 The kids got very into this. Susanna spent a full hour on her trees!

 Most of us chose not to eat our finished trees and put them on a cake plate to use for a pretty countertop decoration instead. 

I hope you all are enjoying your kids being on Christmas break as much as I am!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Our Family of Seven's Quest To Become Debt- Free and Live That Way For Life

       I know that many of you are wondering how our journey of becoming debt free is transpiring. The naked truth is that the process has worn us out so much that there just hasn't been a lot of time for blogging and making You Tube videos. When we have free time, we want to just relax! I will tell you some things we have been doing lately to earn extra money.

1. Daniel quit Papa Johns for the Summer and started a mowing business with our boys ages 11 and 12.
2. I have been picking up extra shifts when I can at the local hospital working as a CNA.
3. I Have been finding things to sell around the house and picking up free things to sell for people who don't want to fool with it.
4. I have been finding loose change around the house to roll up until I have a substantial amount
5. I have been filling out online surveys on a site called Swagbucks to earn points toward Amazon gift cards to help pay for grocery items.

I know it may seem crazy for a typical, middle class family to do things like this, but the truth is that we are learning to live in freedom and not care what others think about our family. I wouldn't say we have arrived but we are getting there! Far too many Americans are drowning in debt because they care too much about what others think. Many are far too embarrassed to be seen delivering pizza or working as a CNA or mowing lawns. Sometimes it is hard to stand tall and tell others what is really going on in our lives but we believe that God has chosen us to go down this road for a purpose and right now we are climbing uphill and hitting every pothole you can imagine. We are tired and weary yet we know we must press on even when frustration attempts to overtake us on the road. We originally set a date to be free of debt by April 2017 but we have now changed our target date to Isaac's 13th birthday which is May 8, 2017. Our children have made a ton of sacrifices along with us and oh how glorious it would be to enter our children's teen years free of debt and celebrate that on his birthday. Please pray for us that God will continue to give us strength and joy on this journey, If you are also on a similar journey, please let us know so that we can pray for you and support you!
P.S. Hopefully Daniel can update soon with the numbers you are dying to know and how much we have paid off since our last update!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Rich Kids Learn Compound Interest!

Lindsay teaches the kids a valuable lesson about Compound Interest.  Watch as they ask good questions and Mercy tells a story to help illustrate the lesson!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Save Money By Making Your Own Bread

    Are you determined for your family to eat healthy, yet also determined to be frugal with what the Lord has blessed you with? I'm sure you have already figured out, the two don't always go hand in hand! Healthy food is not the cheapest or most convenient way to eat! I have to spend way more hours in the kitchen than the average mom because I won't go to Sam's and buy frozen, processed junk to feed the kids even though it would save me loads of time. I am still trying to figure out how to spend the amount of time I need to spend in the kitchen to feed my big family healthfully and still get everything else done that I need to do! It's quite a balancing act. One way I have been able to increase the nutrition content of our diets and stretch our budget is by making our bread. The whole wheat bread I would normally buy at Kroger costs $3.99/loaf. As best I can estimate, by grinding my own wheat and making whole wheat bread at home. It costs our family approximately $1.99/loaf for much healthier, fresher bread. Here is my recipe if you are interested in giving it a try! This is adapted from the Bread Becker's Cookbook.


5  cups hot water
1 1/4 cups oil
3/4 cups honey
2 1/2 T. instant yeast
12-13 cups (or more) freshly milled flour
5 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. gluten 
3 whole eggs

Combine water, oil, and honey. Add 8 cups of the flour and the yeast, salt, and gluten.  ( like to dig a little hole in the top of the flour to put my yeast) Add eggs to the side and mix thoroughly. Add the remaining flour and knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Let rise until double. Shape into 5 loaves and put in greased bread pans. Let rise until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Get out of pans quickly and stand them up to cool on the counter. Your house will smell divine!

*You can purchase the grinder I have here. I have had mine for 15 years now and it is still going strong!

*You can mix this bread up by hand, but I highly recommend investing in a high quality mixer like a Bosch, Kitchen Aide or Electrolux unless you just want a really good arm workout!

*Wheat berries can be purchased here locally in the New River Valley at the Bread Basket, Annie Kays or a Frankferd Farms Food Co-op. They can also be ordered online from Bread Beckers and many other places and delivered if you need the convenience! I get mine locally from The Bread Basket because they have the cheapest prices I have found.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Are You Struggling With Burnout? What Fills Your Pitcher? Here are 12 Things That Fill Mine!


       Lately, I have been contemplating life a lot and thinking about why I have struggled with burnout and becoming miserable so much through the years. I especially have been lately since Daniel and I are struggling to meet our "get out of debt goals" as fast as we hoped we could. If you read many of my posts, you can probably tell that I am a type-A personality. I have lots of goals in life and I try so hard to be and do everything and end up falling flat on my face because I can only do so much. I am very hard on myself and tend to beat myself up when I make mistakes. It's funny that I am a second-born because I have so many first-born tendencies! I would do just about anything to help you and I'd want to give you the shirt off my back if I thought you needed it yet I often fail to remember that when the pitcher is empty, it's hard to offer anyone a drink. With five kids, my pitcher can empty out quickly! I have been reading books and reaching out to friends to pray for me to find balance and do only the things that the Lord has called me to do. I have been encouraged to list some things that make me happy and to fill my pitcher back up by doing some of them without feeling guilty!

My List:

1. Quiet time ~ Sometimes when there is so much to do, it is hard to me to actually settle down and do this yet it is so vital in my walk with the Lord and growth as a woman. One thing that particularly helps me is to keep a journal of things the Lord puts on my heart and to list what I am grateful for.

2. Reading and Writing ~ I tend to keep waiting until I have the perfect pictures or blog posts to share and now I realize, I just need to sit down and write! I have been journaling, blogging and writing my way through life since I was 9 years old and I love it! I love that my kids and grandkids will have my old journals and this blog to read long after I am gone and hopefully learn from my mistakes and glean what is good!

3. Hiking and the Outdoors ~ There is something about a good hike or trip to the beach that brings peace, joy and rest to my soul. I may not be able to afford the beach but I have decided to make sure to go hiking and spend plenty of time outdoors even when the bulk of my work is indoors and I feel guilty for not doing it!

4. Organizing, Purging and Decorating ~ I am not a Joanna Gaines by any means but nevertheless, I love organizing my house and making it more functional and beautiful for my family. I love rustic and simple farmhouse decor, not too primitive or cluttered.

5. Healthy Living ~ I love exercising and reading/learning all that I can about living a healthy lifestyle. It is amazing how much better I function when I take the time to really care for my health!

6. Alone Time ~ It is amazing how refreshed I feel when I get rare moments alone! I have realized that  I need to make it happen more often. I have been thinking about how Jesus had to get away from even his disciples to wrestle with his flesh and contemplate life. Oh, hard it is though for a mother of five to get time alone! It is a rare gift and I am trying to get better about asking my husband for it and not feeling guilty about it.

7. Time with friends ~  I have friends that have laughed with me, spoken truth into me, encouraged me, let me cry and prayed with me. Yet sometimes it is hard for me to prioritize spending time with them when I am worried that things won't get done or that I am leaving my family to fend for themselves.

8. Crocheting, Scrap booking, Creating Something Useful or Beautiful ~ As silly as it sounds, as a type-A personality, I have a hard time even sitting down to do this without feeling guilty that I am wasting time when there is so much to be done! I have set a goal to make myself sit down and crochet an afghan for our living room this summer while I listen to the kids read aloud or listen to an audio book. Someday, I would like to learn how to sew.

9. Flowers ~ not too long ago I saw a bouquet of flowers on manager's special at Krogers and brought them home. I felt so guilty since we are trying to get out of debt, yet they looked so beautiful in our house. As silly as it sounds, I felt happy looking at them. Somehow they drew the attention away from how rough and unfinished my house is. I have decided to give myself permission to stop on the side of the road to pick flowers or buy them occasionally when I find them marked down.

10. Extended Time Alone With My Husband ~ We sometimes argue and tear each other down when the going gets tough, yet spending time alone does wonders for our marriage and fills my pitcher to overflowing! We love our five kids dearly but privacy is so hard to get while raising so many and often costs money and time that we don't have. I don't know how to prioritize this but I can pray and ask my heavenly Father for it, He knows the desires of my heart!

11. A Clean House ~ For a type-A personality like me, a clean house does wonders for relaxation!

12. Completed House projects ~ I won't lie, as much as I love my house, living in a half-finished house for the last 2 years has been hard and inconvenient. The kids bump against a door frame and sheetrock dust goes flying! Everytime someone comes up the unfinished basement stairs, it is a mess! the inconvenience of not having a sink in my bathroom can be so frustrating when we are getting ready to go somewhere. I get just a little bit giddy over anything happening to improve the house or bring it one step closer to being finished!

Are you a Type-A personality? What fills your pitcher? May I encourage you to make a list of things and purpose to do some of them without feeling selfish or guilty?

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Grace is 9 years old!

I can hardly believe that it has been 9 years since I gave birth to our beautiful first princess at home on our bedroom floor while living in Williamsburg, VA. She is growing up fast and I couldn't be more blessed to be her mother! Some things that stand out about her are that she is wise beyond her age. She is a leader and peacemaker among her friends. She does not follow the crowd and is one of the best friends you could ever have! She is quickly becoming a good cook and a great help around the house with laundry and other tasks. Most of all, I Love her heart for the Lord and her many prayers for Muslims to come to know Him. She has an evangelistic heart and sometimes preaches without realizing what she is doing. I know God has big plans for her!

 It was fun to have my sister's family here for her birthday this year! We rarely get to see them since they live in GA. 
 Opening gifts while all of her siblings and 4 cousins look on! 
She got a kayak from her Nana and Pops, Clothes and shoes from her Grandma and Grandpa, A craft set from her cousins and best of all, a kitten from Daniel and I! She has been dreaming of a pet of her own for a very long time. 

Happy 9th Birthday my beautiful Grace! I love you to the moon and back! 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Dessert On a Budget ~ How To Make 4 Tasty and Cheap Peanut Butter Pies in Less Than 30 mins!

When you have five kids and your sister has four kids, plus our two hungry husbands. You have to really think big when it comes to the food that will be required for a weekend visit! This recipe took care of dessert for two nights of their visit this past weekend.

1 small regular size jar peanut butter (less than $2 at Aldi)
3 - 8oz. containers of cool whip (bought during the Easter 10/$10 sale at Kroger)
Reese's cups (bought after Easter for at 50% off for 1.77 at Walmart)
2 bars of cream cheese ($1/bar at Aldi)
1 tbsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk. 
2 cups powdered sugar ($1/box)
4 graham cracker pie crusts ($0.96/ea. at Aldi)

This comes to approximately $15 for four delicious homemade pies! 

Now for the directions. Beat peanut butter and cream cheese together until creamy, add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Fold in 1 container of whipped cream. Divide the mixture into the 4 pie crusts and spread evenly over the bottom. Take the other 2 containers of cool whip and divide in half using half a container to spread over each pie. Use a spoon to make it look pretty and then chop as many Reese's cups as desired and sprinkle over the tops of the 4 pies. This is a great recipe to make days before your company arrives and keep frozen or refrigerated until ready to serve! Yum!