6.29.2012

Eating Out - For Under $10

Face it! Everyone enjoys eating out sometimes, even if fast food is unhealthy. The temptation to forget cooking and splurge big time seems especially strong during the summer. How is eating out possible on the smallest of small budgets with multiple children? Here are some tips for obtaining a special treat now and then, without wreaking havoc with the budget. Hopefully they are arriving in time for some weekend fun.

  • Find out which eating establishments offer kids eat free nights or reduced children's meals. Way back when, when our family lived in a larger town, and my husband worked out of town during the week, my four children and I were able to eat out for a smidge under $5 by taking advantage of $.99 kid's meals.
  • The kids and I could also have pizza and pop for less than $7 by purchasing a $5 pizza offered on Wednesday nights only and filling a large refillable mug offered at the local quick stop to the rim without any ice. Refills were less than $1 and the large mug was the equivalent of an entire pitcher. We would take our goodies home enjoying the challenge of having eaten out for so much less.
  • Restaurants frequently offer coupons. Keep an eye open for coupons that work best for your personal situation. If you spend money you wouldn't normally spend to use a coupon you wouldn't normally use, then you have NOT saved money. You have merely spent it in a new and different place. Buy one, Get one coupons are particularly helpful, especially for a couple eating out.
  • Websites for eating establishments also offer special discounts and deals. Don't forget to include your favorite spots in your internet searches.
Even though the prices listed in the tips are from approx. 10 years ago, I have seen similar prices being offered currently. Another thing to remember is that our trips out on the town were not taken regularly. They were special, once-in-a-while events. Viewing treats such as these as something special instead of a normal occurence make even the simplest of meals fun.

Another benefit of our excursions was that our children learned early that an abundance of finances is not necessary for having a good time together. Our fourth and second graders were also able to hone their math skills by figuring out how much we could get for our money.

What a sense of accomplishment our fourth grader experienced when she gently, but firmly, inquired of a clerk why she was being charged more for a refill than her brother had been charged the week previously. She learned independence, responsibility, how to be respectful and sweet while conducting business. All of these traits have served her well.

As with all things, keep an ear and eye open for "out of the box" methods. The saying says "Where there is a will, there is a way." Often this is true. Rather than allowing a tight, practically non-existent budget to shut down summer fun, embrace the challenge of enjoying each day in every way possible.

Oh yes! Public libraries usually have classic movies available for checking out. Often they are available free of charge. What a great way to end a pizza and movie night! Eating Out - for under $10. Yes, it is possible.

6.25.2012

Monday's Meditation

Psalm 32:8
"I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."



6.22.2012

Make Your Own...Art

Making your own art isn't anything new. There are as many ways to make economical, even free, art as there are people and individual styles. Today's idea is simply a link to a possibility. Don't be shocked, but I found a new website. I know, you can't believe it - haha. Anywho... this is the website of a lovely artist who exudes the love of Jesus in every thing she says. I left feeling refreshed, encouraged, inspired, and ready to fill my home with words that tell of the goodness of God. The artist makes it easy to do just that for she offers free downloads of original art. This art is in the form of printable coloring sheets. Whimsical, sweet designs with edifying words and scriptures are right there free for the printing. I had to restrain myself from printing out too many.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is alive and active. Deuteronomy 6:9 talks about writing it on the doorposts of our house. Grab those colored pencils, dig out the crayons, find the markers and/or paint, and have fun creating art that draws you closer to the One who loves you most. While you are there, feel free to drool over her books. Go ahead and purchase one. Also consider visiting her Etsy shop. There is a link on the website. I guarantee you will be blessed for having visited. Here are some ideas for possible uses for the free printables:
  • Color, place on patterned or colored paper/or fabric of choice and frame.
  • Color then decoupage to canvas and hang
  • Color and use in scrapbooking
  • Print out onto iron on sheet, Color with fabric paint, markers, etc. , and iron on to tote, apron, towel, shirt, or any item of choice (Remember to reverse image when printing or words will be backwards when attached to item.)
  • Print out all sheets and assemble into coloring book for child
  • Use for Sunday School, Children's gatherings, grandkids, children, babysitting, day camps, anything
  • Spend afternoon coloring with children

6.20.2012

Children Running Wild and Free?

For many, summer brings to mind memories of going outside in the morning and coming in at night tired and dirty from a long day of playing. Parents of today, however, are frequently caught in the mainstream culture that says a child's day, including their play, must be structured, adult organized, and directed. Praise the Lord! Not all parents have been entangled in the web of popular opinion. Simple Mom blog shares an article that hit my face like a breath of gloriously fresh air. If you want to find out more about the joy and freedom of allowing children to play on their own, you can enjoy the article here. Feel free to join the discussion in the comments at the bottom of the post. As soon as you're done, head outside for some free play time of your own.  Here are some fun drinks to enjoy while you're out there.

6.18.2012

A Spiritual Check Up, Exactly So

"And as you would like and desire that men would do to you, do exactly so to them." Luke 6:31amp

Powerful words "do exactly so to them." Exactly so? Whoa. Now that's a command. I don't really like the thought of "exactly so" being returned to me. Yet the further in Luke 6 I read, the more I realize that is what I will receive, exactly what I have given. Everytime I open my mouth I am revealing the fruit of my heart. (Luke 6:45) This goes right along with what God has been teaching me lately. He has been teaching me that evil and corrupt fruit isn't always in your face badness. Sometimes the most corrupt, evil thing silently sneaks in. Something seemingly small like failing to acknowledge or give attention to loved ones.

Failing or refusing to recognize my loved ones can become a form of abuse. I love my husband and children. I would never, ever intentionally abuse them or harm them in any way. Yet how often have I become so involved in my own daily schedule or interests that I failed to notice them? Too often. God is my example. I am to imitate Him. (Ephesians 5:1) He never fails to notice me, and He always listens attentively. He doesn't give me a "Uh-huh, yeah, ok" along with  half of His attention. Is this the "exactly so" I desire to have returned to me? Oh my, I have some serious repenting to do. The more deeply I examine my habits, the more I find to confess and receive forgiveness for.

"If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything that is not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]." 1 John 1:9 amp

Have I ever known what unrighteousness truly is? Did I realize that it was everything that is not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action? Everything? I'm not sure I have been living as if I knew. Have my purposes, thoughts, and actions been in conformity to His will? What a great question to use as a spiritual checkup! That needs to go in my journal for repeated use. Right underneath the verse about doing to others exactly what I would have them do to me. Thank You God for checkup points to assist us in living the overcoming life You created us to live. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

6.16.2012

I Love You Dad

Fathers are amazing people. Amazing people who often go unnoticed, until they are no longer there. Whether they are referred to as Dad, Pop, Daddy, Papa, or some other loving title matters not; fathers hold a powerful position within the family.

Fathers are the head of the family, the priest of the home. They are responsible to be like Jesus and lay their life down for their wives. The majority of fathers, even those who don't know Christ, do this very thing day in and day out.

Day after day fathers spend their lives working for the good of their families. They pour out their time, their money, their very selves so that those under their care can go out and live lives of their own choosing. They usually receive very little thanks for the sacrifices made.

My own father did the same thing. He freely spent himself day after tiring day working crazy hours and put himself aside for the good of the family. For what? It certainly wasn't for my thanks for I failed to give him any. In my selfish child mind that was what dad's did.

Thankfully that selfish creature has grown up, a little at least. This should have come a long time ago. Thank you, Dad. Thank you for literally laying down your life so that I could live mine. Thank you for going to work somewhere you probably wouldn't have chosen, to do something you would most rather not have done, so that I could go wherever God led me, to do whatever He had me do.

Thank you. Thank you for sacrificing days and nights with the family and Sundays away from church. Not only did you give up so very much time, the time you did have outside of work you spent doing all of the chores that a father does around the house and yard. Your life was a seemingly never-ending cycle of work and sleep and sleep and work.

Now, now I know. I know how much you gave. I know that it was an amazing sacrifice. A sacrifice not unlike the one Christ paid for me. All of those years while I was growing up in my own selfish world, you were living the life of Christ before my very eyes, within my home. You daily gave up yourself that I could live. You died to your own desires that I could live mine. All without any thanks.

Thank you, Dad. Thank you so very, very much. The older I grow, the more clearly I see all of the many ways you said I Love You to me. Thank you. I Love you. I appreciate you, all you have done, and all you continue to do. You are a great dad, and I'm glad you are mine! Happy Father's Day! I am also sorry, terribly sorry it has taken me this long to tell you. I Love You, Dad XOXO

6.15.2012

FREE EZINE!!!

Hi! Just a quick note to share about a new freebie I found this morning. Homebound is a free ezine (online magazine) put out by Post Road Home. This ezine is completely free. If you enjoy the simple pleasures of summer in the country photographed in  romantic country chic scenes, this little ezine will be nothing short of delightful to you.

Maybe visions of country decor from eras past has kept you from checking out the modern country scene. Remain in the past no longer. Head on over to Post Road Vintage asap, sign up for their free ezine, and see for yourself the fresh, uncluttered romance of all things old becoming new once more. Another attraction of Homebound is that the ezine is only a few pages. Only have a few spare minutes? Go ahead and subscribe, reading it isn't going to take forever and a day.

A Son Now Grown, Big

Colonel Redeemed has now officially graduated from high school. The transcript is complete, and the diploma sits in its file ready for printing; I need black ink. Having already graduated one child, I expected the stress level to be less. What I did not expect, however, was the huge sigh of relief that would escape at the close of Colonel Redeemed's high school season. Whoooosh! out it came, this pent up air of I-don't-know-what-all. I had absolutely no idea that I would be so glad to be finished with my oldest son's high school career.

Not only are we finished, but successfully so. What a relief! Somehow, somewhere, completely by the grace of God, in the midst of all of the craziness that homeschooling and ranching produce, my son received a quality education. In fact, not only did he complete high school, he probably completed college level work in some courses. This son, he's the one who began high school at home with the craziness of a baby brother a few days old. Six weeks later, the same baby brother was across the state, his parents were with him, in a hospital for several days. Not exactly a good start for setting up a school routine.

Routine? Did the following four years ever contain a predictable routine? Probably not. They were full though. Full of learning, full of experiencing, full of observing, full of doing, full of developing into a young man of God. Full. Whole. Conversations at the meal table filled with history provided more depth and insight than a dozens of lectures ever could have. Hands soiled with grease and oil repaired machinery then put the same machinery to good use working as  mechanical facts became more than a class in school. Cattle were fed, cared for, and calved bringing biology to life in front of the eyes. The computer made personal interest courses such as avaiation science possible. Little sisters and one little brother brought one opportunity after the other to love, learn, and embrace living real life with real people, hopefully together.

As the mother, I wonder. What will he be? What will this giant-sized young man with the even larger heart become once he moves on from here? Where will he go? And when? Others mothers, one of them a friend, their sons are leaving soon, serving their country in various branches of the armed forces. These are my son's friends. He mourns their leaving early, before it happens. Mourns it silently inside for the grief pales next to his respect for their choice. He doesn't speak of the sadness just carries it in his eyes. He feels big this big young man of mine. Feels big, talks big, lives big, loves big, big, everything is big big big. I don't know where he is going or what is doing when he gets there, but it wouldn't surprise me if it big. Really, really big.

Has he always been big? Big inside yes. This  young man is an ever-flowing fountain of information. He actually enjoys documentaries, and will, on occasion, still give his mother a kiss on the cheek without her asking him too. As his mother, I love that. The Fourth of July is his holiday, and if something involves paintballing, it has to be fun. Colonel Redeemed is a right-brained, left-handed, soft-hearted, often-talking, man of God. Rash? Yes. Sometimes turbulent? Uh-huh. Emotional? Affirmative. Is his room clean? Rarely. Neat? Nope. Respectful? Yes. Smart? Yes. Funny? Yes, most often when he doesn't intend to be. Colonel Redeemed is a storyteller extraordinaire. One trip to the grocery store provides him with more stories than I find to tell all year long. Jesus told stories. Colonel must have gotten that from Him.

Being second born with sisters all around and having spent the first 10-11 years of his life in mostly female company has made Colonel Redeemed an expert on more female-type facts than the average brother knows. Not only can he talk weapons, tanks, and battles, Colonel can share his favorite ballroom dance styles and discuss nutritional info. with the best of them. Fashion info. can come in amazingly handy in certain situations as well. Just ask him; he knows. Being a collector of random bits of information keeps his ever-flowing fountain of facts fresh and impressive. While he prefers to be engaging in more manly pursuits, he can hold his own in a woman-driven conversation if need be. This is something I am sure a wife will appreciate in the future, should the Lord have this in store for him. This man of God has provided me, his mother, with more spontaneous adventure than I would ever have imagined.

Nothing has ever been boring concerning this child. Never. Ever. Even his entrance into the world was full of excitement. Three and a half weeks before expected, Colonel Redeemed decided to it was time to meet us. Our doctor was out of town. A new doctor was on call. He arrived via c-section "sounding a little wet" the doctor said. It was her first c-section. Thankfully, someone with experience was there with her. It was a small hospital without advanced equipment. Off our baby boy was flown to a larger hospital while we were left with only a few pictures of mama and papa touching him. Three days later, after being released from the hospital myself, My Beloved, big sister Not of This World, and I drove several hours to Colonel Redeemed. We arrived just in time for the nine o'clock feeding. For the first time, I held my baby in my arms and was amazed as the way he inhaled his food. Whoosh! It was gone! Is it ok to burp him I wondered. Will I mess up any of these tubes and wires? Where is the nurse? I can ask her. A few minutes later, she returned to check on us. She stared in awe when I asked about burping him. She couldn't believe he had eaten at all, let alone finished the bottle. Yes, please burp him. He knows his mama she said. What had been consumed in a minute or less for me had taken the nurse over 30 minutes to get down him, and even then he wouldn't eat it all.

He knew his mama she had said. To this day I remember the relief that surged through me that after three long days apart without me having held him before, he still knew his mama. How? I don't know. He had only been in my arms mere seconds before eating. Yet, somehow, he knew. Still does. I think he gets that from Jesus too. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice and anothers they will not follow. (John 10:4-5) That's my prayer for Colonel Redeemed. That wherever he goes, whatever he does, he always knows the voice of Jesus, his Shepherd. That another's voice he will not follow, only that of the Shepherd Jesus Christ. May he always live big for Him, big, big, big. I am one Blessed Mama, that is for sure. 

6.14.2012

Uncle Wiggily and Other Free Books



Children Reading
Remember way back when I mentioned the free Kindle app available for free download at Amazon? Well, here's a great way to use it! Children's books such as those about Uncle Wiggily Longears can be downloaded for FREE! That's right, there are free versions of many classic children's reads. Now, these can be downloaded without the Kindle app, but we have found them much easier to read using the Kindle app on our family's pc than otherwise.

Drawbacks? Well, the only one I could find is that most of the free versions don't include illustrations. Since we are using them for read alouds, this wasn't a problem for our family. The Five Little Peppers, The Bobbsey Twins, Elsie Dinsmore, Peter Rabbit, Books by Thornton Burgess, and many others are all available for free downloads. Can you think of anything more perfect for summer afternoons than reading these classic children's stories from days gone by? Me either. 

What were your favorite storybooks when you were young? Thank you for answering by leaving a comment below.

6.13.2012

What If?

What if...we believed every word of God? Really believed, not just the giving mental assent or lip service type of belief but the no holds barred, putting it all on the line, believing with our entire beings. What if...we allowed ourselves to fully abandon everything and follow wholly and completely after Him, the One who loved us, died for us, and purchased our salvation? What if...we dared to trust like we've never trusted before? What if...we refused to be moved by the world around us, no matter how unsettling things appear? What if...we lived like we believe God is who He says He is and that He does what He says He will do? What then? How would living be different? What would we say? Where would we go? What would we purchase? What would we give away? Would our goals be different? How would we treat our neighbors, our families, the entire world? Would we laugh more? Feel deeply? Would we change at all? What if...we actually lived as if God was God of all?

He is God of all, but what if we lived it? What would we do? Would we treat Him differently? Talk to Him more? Listen more closely? Obey His every Word, written and spoken? Would we slow down and thank Him? Spend time at His feet lavishing Him with our love? Would we care for others more and ourselves less? Feed the hungry more often and shop for needless things less? Build a home for the homeless? Comfort the weary? Cuddle the children? Wipe away tears? Nourish their hearts and their bodies? Smile instead of frown? Embrace not push away? What? What would we do?

Would we quit trying to escape the hard and instead embrace it knowing we're safe in His care? Would we cease running from and instead run straight into His loving arms of grace? Would the careless words spoken sharp hurt as much if we were seeing as He sees and feeling as He feels? Would they? What if they didn't hurt as much? What if instead of causing us personal pain, they merely revealed the pain of others? A pain that our Lord and Savior died to heal? And we, having been redeemed from the pain and hurt, having been healed through His love, instead of being hurt, extended the healing love and grace with which we had been healed? What if? What if we lived healed, whole, and strong in Him and the power of His might? What if? What if we lived the Words, the life-giving, living Words He intends us to live? What then? What if?

In all the crazy, the pain, the torment, the loss, the lack and hurt of the world, what if believers lived like true believers? What if we were as different as we have been called to be? What if, for just one day, all of us lived what God says in its entirety? If for just one day, we all refused to see ourselves and our own desires and instead chose to see only Him and His plan for the day? Then seeing Him, hearing His heart, we chose to walk, talk, and live only for Him and that plan? What would that look like? Christians being Christians? How would that affect the world around us? Would they even know what to do? If instead of rejecting we embraced? More than that, we extended loving grace and mercy? What would they do? What would we do?

There is so much talk of revolution, collapse, implosion. Grief and sorrow abound. People eat people. People sell and buy people. Babies are murdered. Children are used to satisfy evil, vile lusts. All around people are attempting to eat, drink, drug, lust their way to a better place, somewhere, anywhere that offers a way out of the misery. And all around there are Christians, believers in Christ. Jesus Christ, the answer, living inside millions of people. What if we who know Him lived like it? What if we lived, breathed, talked, and gave as if He is the answer that He really, truly is? What if we did? What then? What kind of difference would it make? Even if not all of us did, even if only a few, what would it do? The resurrection power of Almighty God is inside of me, what if I dared to release it by living Him to those around me each and every day?

In my home, what if, instead of being stung by grouchy barbs I ministered loving grace to the loved one so tired? When children small fight big, what if I the mama spoke of mercy quiet? What if I remained alert and guarded my family from discouragement instead of seeing only laundry high? What if I stayed focused on Him and sharing His love? What if I did? What would I see? What difference would there be? What then? What if? When the day is long, and the tension is high, what if I loved My Beloved deeply, strong, and true? What if I laid my own weariness down, stripped off my own day, and applied a healing balm to my husband by lavishing My Beloved extravagantly with intimate love? What if I made my husband's goal, dream, and desire, my goal, dream, and desire? What then?

What if instead of being loved, I sought to love? Instead of being cared for I cared? Instead of speaking I listened? Instead of lashing out I loved? Instead of analyzing I heard? Instead of hiding I sought? Instead of receiving I gave? What then? What would My Beloved and Rewards do? Would they know me? Would I even be recognizable to them? What if...I lived and talked so much like Jesus lives and talks that instead of seeing me, others only saw Him? Oh Lord...please help me live the what if.  



6.11.2012

A Whole Lot of This and a Little Bit of That

Hi! Both brandings are now over. The rest of the summer is left to live. Wanting to remain purposeful, intentional, and real, I'm focusing on enjoying everything, the simple pleasures of daily rhythms as well as moments of the unexpected. With weeks of warmer weather left to savor, iced beverages are relatively simple and inexpensive to experiment with.

Of course I want to try the recipes I post on the blog. How awful would it be to share a really nasty recipe? That being said, I've been enjoying iced coffee and cappuccino the past few weeks. My favorite part, besides the drinking, is watching the colors of the milk and coffee swirl around together. It's like art in a glass. Haven't tried the cold brew coffee recipe used in these iced drinks? It's right here.

With two brandings and several hot days under our belts this summer, there has been iced tea in abundance around our house. A tip gleaned from online searching has proven accurate. I'm not sure why this works, but adding a pinch of baking soda when brewing the tea does improve the flavor of the tea and makes it last longer before souring.

Apparently I have had drinks on the brain because I also made my own gingerale recently. I added ground ginger to a basic simple syrup mixture. After cooling and straining the syrup, it was added to 
carbonated water until the desired flavor was obtained. What did I think of it? Well, it was good. However, I think using ginger root would be even better. Since I didn't have any on hand I went with what I had, ground. All in all, it was good but not great. Using the root instead of ground ginger might bump it up into the great category. Guess I'll have to locate some and find out:)

Brandings may be over, but the celebrations are only beginning. With at least four more gatherings yet to come this summer, there are a few more drink ideas left to try. For Giggle's August birthday, there will be strawberries floating in pint canning jars of lemonade. Mighty Man of God's birthday is a few days before Giggle's. I'm going to try making my own fruit sodapop for his celebration. Find a couple recipes here. If I can come up with enough empty iced coffee bottles, the fruit-flavored pop will be served in those recycled containers. After the jars have been washed:)

While simplicity in celebrating is important to our family, we still like special occasions to be, well, special. This year I am experimenting to see how much I can do with very little financial output. The tentative plan is to utilize paper and fabric already in my "stash" as much as possible. Be looking for future posts documenting how it all turns out. Hopefully I haven't planned more than I can reasonably accomplish.

Not sure what happened. I had this post in my head ready to be typed up. Now it is gone. Poof! Vanished! Where did it go? Oh well, it's time for me to get lunch on anyway. I'll be popping in later on with one of the very best baby toy ideas I have ever seen. This one is not only extremely easy to make, it would be an excellent use of leftover or excess fabric. Have any fabric pieces that are too good to throw away, but you honestly don't like? This baby toy idea is perfect for those pieces. There are also a few money-saving thoughts, ideas, and tips to share when there's more time. Gotta run! See you later! and don't forget to be intentional and real, intentionally real. Lots of love being sent your way!



6.09.2012

It's Branding Time!

Hi! Congratulations to Deborah! Branding Time is the correct answer to the What Time Is It? post. If you will send me an email including your mailing address to amothersrewards@gmail.com , I'll get a cookbook in the mail asap. Thank you to the two readers who left an answer in the comments. Today is the smaller of our two brandings so I'm going to have to run. I'll be back soon for another visit. Love to all!