Monday, October 24, 2011

Worried...Why?

Last Spring I began couponing, trying to plan and prepare for purchasing a vehicle that would accommodate our growing family because I knew we would not have the money to pay for something fully with cash. That has been going well and I honestly hate buying something without a coupon (but sometimes we need certain items so I at least try to buy them during a sale). Anyway, my plan was in full swing and going great: our grocery budget was cut in half or more depending on the week and so I was able to save a few dollars.

In August our budget shrunk unexpectedly. We took a whirlwind trip to Ohio to visit family. While we were gone, we received a phone call from the people watching our house informing us that our A/C wasn't working. By the time we got back home, the house had warmed up to a toasty 87 degrees!!! We ended up having to replace our entire A/C unit. It was definitely an unplanned expense!

We also received notice that we have hail damage to our roof, meaning we need to get it replaced. TJ found out the insurance company didn't take into consideration all of the materials needed, so we are now in the process of appealing to them to include those in the price of the roof. Regardless, we are still responsible for covering our deductible, and again is an added expense.

About a month ago, we found out the family currently renting our other house was moving. We immediately cut out any unnecessary spending and began fervently praying that the Lord would provide more renters. We found out this past Wednesday that the Lord answered our prayers and a new family is moving in soon (praise the Lord!!!).

The same day the Lord answered our prayer regarding our rental situation, we received notice that our property taxes are increasing. We have to pay the difference for this year and then our mortgage is going up starting in January to cover next year's taxes in our escrow account. Again, an unexpected expense.

I have been struggling with worry regarding our finances: how are we going to pay the taxes due by the end of December? How are we going to afford to pay the deductible on a new roof? And what about a larger vehicle-how are we going to be able to buy something so that we can all fit in one car? I get sad every time I think about the fact that we will no longer be able to go ANYWHERE together as a family unless we get a bigger vehicle.

Nevertheless, I do know God has a plan, a much better plan than mine. Truth be told, I think the Lord used couponing as a way to prepare me for this. All of these expenses came as a surprise to us, but they sure were not a surprise to Him. The last three church services I have attended have all dealt with finances, worry, and anxiety. I have been so convicted regarding my lack of faith in God's ability to care for me and my (not so little) family. To be quite honest, it is going to take a miracle (or close to it!) for us to be able to pay for all of these expenses, but thankfully God is in the business of working miracles. As I was reminded in today's service, the Lord knows of our need and will provide (Matt. 6:25-34).

I have been faithful in saving money and caring for my family as best I can, and I just need to continue to fulfill those responsibilities. My worrying isn't going to make money grow on the Oak trees in my yard, and it actually prevents my mind from focusing fully on my responsibilities. So, please pray for me, for us. Pray that I wouldn't worry and that I would remember to "cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). Pray that I would "be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" so that I would have "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" to "guard my heart and mind through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).

*I wrote this post Sunday, 10/23 and just now found out that the insurance company is going to pay an additional $1700 to off-set the expense of the roof. Obviously the Lord is showing me He is going to provide, I just need to trust Him. I have tears in my eyes from both joy and shame: Joy that the Lord keeps His promises and shame that I didn't fully trust Him.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"No!"

Annie is 19 months old and I haven't really updated the milestones she's recently reached.

Language- Annie knows some sign language and is able to verbalize words, as well. They are listed below.
Signs:
  • yes
  • more
  • eat
  • please
  • thank you
  • I love you
  • cheese
  • bird
Speech:
  • hi
  • no
  • more
  • mine
  • thank you
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • ni-night
  • shoes
  • Rainbow (for cat, since our cat's name is Rainbow)
  • nose
  • baby
  • please
  • bye bye
  • move
  • uh-oh
Gross motor- Annie is walking, running, going up/down steps, climbing, jumping (with both feet off the ground), doing somersaults (yes, you read that correctly), and just plain ol' getting into everything! She is a very busy girl who is able to keep up with her older siblings just fine.
Fine motor- She can self-feed using a spoon/fork, drink from a regular cup (although I still give her sippy cups for my own sanity!), string beads onto a pipe cleaner, and push small buttons (you know, like to turn off the television or change the channel on the remote when others are perfectly content watching a show).
Cognitive- Annie knows a plug goes into an outlet, understands when I say, "Let's go outside" that she needs to get her shoes (and now jacket), and that puzzle pieces fit into a puzzle a certain way. She also knows that I can't be everywhere all the time, and she waits for the perfect opportunity to take advantage of me being preoccupied before she clears the computer desk, shreds the napkins, dumps the clean laundry baskets, or colors on the doors/walls with pencils or crayons she's meticulously hidden. I often hear the following words from my other kids: "Mom, look at Annie!" Annie is too smart for her own good!! She fits right in with our family, and I am so thankful for her spunky personality, even if she does exhaust me! =)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fire Prevention Coloring Contest

October is Fire Prevention month and to celebrate, our local school district, along with some local private schools, participated in a coloring contest for area first graders. Ta won the contest for his school, and was awarded $25 and a frame that contained his winning picture and certificate. We all joined him at a local fire station for a reception where he met the Mayor, Fire Chief, and Fire Marshal. Yay Ta- we're so proud of you!!

Ta accepting his award from the Mayor and Fire Chief

Friday, October 7, 2011

Busy Bag Activities

I recently joined a subgroup of my homeschool group in which we make and swap activity bags. The activities contained in each bag are geared for preschool/kindergarten-aged children, but honestly, all of my children LOVE to do them.  Each activity is supposed to entertain the child for approximately 20 minutes; however, depending on the age/skill level of the child and the type of activity, it could take him/her longer to complete the task. 

I currently have about a dozen different activities that range from easy to difficult. They also include tasks that focus on fine motor skills, counting/numeracy, letters/phonics, and logic. I like them in that Annie all the way up through Th enjoy doing them, and it gives me a chance to prepare supper, throw in a load of laundry, or do whatever (like use the bathroom alone!) while they are ALL occupied at the same time.   


I am in the midst of another swap so by the end of next week I will have another 18 activities to add to my collection. I keep some of the activities in the car for when we go places where the children have to wait (i.e. doctor’s appointments, restaurants). I have also started making some to give away as gifts to those with young(er) children. With 5 kids, it seems like one of my children gets invited to a birthday party at least once a month. With Christmas quickly approaching and a super-tight budget, these homemade gifts are the perfect gift for my younger nieces/nephews! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Family Time!!

A couple of weeks ago, TJ and I took the kids to the Carolina’s Aviation Museum.  The museum recently acquired the US Airways jet “The Miracle on the Hudson: Flight 1549.”  We had a fun morning of looking at airplanes up close, followed by lunch at the Charlotte airport overlook where the kids were able to witness the busyness of the flightline.  It was a beautiful day spent as a family!
Standing next to a main gear strut.

TJ & the kids at the back of a cargo plane.

Annie in the tire that was once on the space shuttle.

The boys watching the documentary about the landing on the Hudson. They were enthralled by it!

"The Miracle on the Hudson"

Contents that were recovered from the Hudson. The cans of soda were still sealed, which is amazing to me considering the impact of the crash.

Other side of the plane.

Ready for our picnic at the airport overlook.

Coupon Finds!

Just a post to show some of the food items one can purchase using coupons matched with a sale. I paid around $40 for all of this, and total retail value is well over $80. I apologize I don’t remember the exact amounts but this picture was taken a couple of weeks ago.   =)