Ask Me About Living On One Income

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mailbag: Ask Me Anything - Living On One Income

I'm going to start a new blog series about living on one income and this is your chance to ask questions and I will post them, along with my answer, in future posts. 

This is anonymous, so if you want your name to appear in the question, you will need to put it there.  If you don't want to use the box, you can simple leave a comment to this post.  Hope to get some questions!




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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Our Baby Memorial From Shutterfly

I wanted to make a memorial of some sort of the baby we lost 2 months ago and I finally decided on a desktop plaque.  I ordered it from Shutterfly on Monday night and expected to get it in about 2 weeks as it usually takes a week to make and then a week to ship on average.  Yesterday, I got a shipping notice - I could not believe they made it so fast!  Then, today I got it!  Not only did someone over at Shutterfly make it so soon, they overnighted it.  I was so pleased, I emailed the company to thank them - I can't imagine that was just a coinicendence.

I took the 4 ultrasounds we had of the baby - it starts at the top left and goes to the top right, then to the bottom left and the last one is on the bottom right.  The one on the bottom left is the last time we saw the baby alive at 12 weeks.  Then, the bottom right, you can see the baby was dead, had shrunk and had been decaying.  It was already safe in Jesus' arms but since we don't know the exact week or day it died, we chose to put the day we found out and my body started letting it go.  This is so special to me!


Also, a friend of mine gave me this drawing of Jesus holding a baby.  She said it helped her through her miscarriage as well.  It touched me that she thought of me and gave it to me.


Here is the plaque sideways, so you can see how it is made:




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Saturday, March 21, 2015

This Week's Menu - March 21-27

We tried the Chana Saag last week and we LOVE it!  I ate the leftovers the next day and I'm still craving more, so I put it on the menu for this week.  We had the Chicken Tikka Masala today and OH MY, hubby loved it and kept saying so all through dinner and afterwards and he said, "You are going to blog about that right?"  I liked it and so did my son but my daughter didn't so much, she gave it a 3 stars.


Just about every Indian dish we try, we are are loving, so I'm going to try more Indian dishes in the future, any recommendations?

*Also, just a note for those that have been long-time readers - I no longer can use Azure's hard white whole wheat to make my bread, pizza, muffins, etc. because I was able to find that it was one of the problem foods for me and now I use Azure's white flour; so I use a new pizza recipe that I linked to above.  We have used that recipe many times and for friends that came over too and they loved it!  I still use my original pizza sauce I have listed on the blog somewhere (sorry, didn't have time to dig up the link).

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Monday, March 16, 2015

I'll Never Be The Same

Romans 8:18

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

This miscarriage has changed me so much that I don't feel I will ever be the same.  It changed me in a good way, some things that I needed changed that I didn't even realize.  It sparked something inside.  It built up my faith by bringing it down to the test of my life.  I felt those feelings of God not there - I related to Jesus in a small way.  I was alone in the garden praying when others fell asleep but I couldn't stop as it was me that was getting ready to go through what I did - alone.  I got a taste of the sufferings of Jesus in so many ways the past few years.

I got woken up to the feeling of the grief of death, which I had never really felt before as I've only lost an aunt when I was young.  Sure, I've had miscarriages but they were so early, they didn't really make me grieve in the way this one did.  I got a taste of the future of life - grieving of losing those I love, it is inevitable and will come.  I think to myself - Oh God, do we have to bear this?  Can't you just come soon so I won't have to see the death of my parents and others I know?  Then, I think of those that need the extra time before Christ comes to be saved and I see my selfishness.  God, Your grace is sufficient.

I'll never be the same.  God has already started moving in amazing ways in my life, in my soul, my heart and my mind.  He burned off the dross.  I survived the fire.  Here I am Lord.....my eyes are open.

Friends, let God fine-tune you through your trials.  You can let them make you or you can let them ruin you - we have the choice!  "Refine me O Lord!" should always be our prayer and like Paul, we can thank God for our sufferings - it is what makes us better.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.


*I don't agree with everything to do with T.D. Jakes or his beliefs but found this message to be encouraging.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

This Week's Menu - March 11-18

Here are our dinners for this week - the Chana Saag is new to us, so not sure how it will turn out.


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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Organizing Books by Subject or Category

We have accumulated a lot of science, history and other books that pertain to homeschool topics and I wanted them organized even more than just grouped by science or history, etc.  I wanted to split my science up into several fields and here are the ones we did: anatomy, botany, physics, chemistry, farms, earth science, astronomy, zoology and insects.

I couldn't find any affordable dividers, so I made my own with colorful cards but I do want to eventually make some that are sturdier; something like poster board.  I also did the few language-related books we have, math, government services and geography.  I've yet to do the history shelf but when I do, I want to divide it up into time periods; ancient, medieval, etc.



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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Frugal Smartphone - How To Do It

In 2009, we did away with our $90 a month Verizon plans and our touch phones to save money.  I blogged about how we had an emergency cell phone for $80 a year with Tracfone.  Well, we still do use Tracfone but got a phone that had double minutes for life and over the years we used it a bit more when out, so we upped our usage to $120 - $160 a year.  Tracfone started offering smartphones and new plans that not only TRIPLE your minutes but you no longer have to use your minutes for texts or data - you get triple text and triple data too.  This offer was too good to resist and it just didn't make sense to buy our $40 cards every 3 months and it only double.  So....we got a Tracfone smartphone with triple everything and I must say we are really saving now and then some - here is how:

The best and cheapest Tracfone smartphone for our area was the LG Optimus Fuel for $29.99 that comes with triple everything (minutes, text, data) for life.  The phone is awesome for the price - you get 3G, Wifi, camera/video, apps, 4GB removable micro-SD card (you can buy the 32GB one for under $20), Bluetooth wireless and much more but it even has a dual processor.  All that for $29.99 - waiting for you to take a breath.  Oh and did I mention the battery life is awesome and it charges fast?  It comes with the charger and a USB to easily transfer files between your computer if you wish.  And no....I'm not getting paid to write this or receiving compensation for anything, this is my honest, personal review!


If you want the front-facing camera, you can get the LG Ultimate 2 but it is $99 and I don't really do selfies - so this is a perfect phone for us and the cheapest option and bang for your buck.

Once you get the phone, you will need to get a Tracfone account online and activate your phone and buy airtime.  We only use 1600 minutes or less a year, so we only needed to buy the $40 card with our old phone that doubled minutes but with this new one, we could get by with the lower priced cards but we decided to stay with our $120 a year budget for cell expenses.  So for initial setup you will be spending about $80 ($29.99 phone + $39.99 card + tax).  You won't need to buy another $40 card for 3 months and then only 4 times a year - which is how it is only $160 a year + tax.  The $40 card will give you 600 minutes, 600 texts, 600 MB data and 3 months airtime - this equals out to 2400 minutes, 2400 texts and 2400 MB data a year or airtime for $160.  Including tax, this equals out to about $15 a month.

It doesn't stop there - if all that didn't save you a load of money, you can use your phone more without actually using your minutes, texts or data by using Wifi.  Simply turn off the mobile data and use your home Wifi or the Wifi wherever you go and you can not only use data for no cost but with Google Voice, you can make calls and texts and receive them for FREE.  Simply sign up for a free phone number with your Google account on Google Voice and then install the Hangouts Dialer app on your phone and you can use that whenever you are on Wifi.  The only time you will need to use your Tracfone minutes/text/data is when you are out and there is no Wifi or you want to use your Tracfone number.

I give friends both my Tracfone and Google Voice number so they will know it is me calling or texting, no matter which one I'm using at the moment.  I can also forward my calls from my home phone to my Google Voice.

That isn't all!!  Since we are Comcast Xfinity customers for our internet, we have access to all the Xfinity hotspots wherever we go, as it is included in the cost of our home internet.  There are so many hotspots all over town near us, so we can easily use those to make calls, text or use data without using our Tracfone airtime.  We don't use our phone much when out but sometimes I use it to make calls home if I need to ask a question or to check prices on Amazon compared to what I'm shopping for at the moment and then when we have been in the hospital, we have used it but now we can use the Wifi there to save.

I hope this helped someone to save money and if you don't have a home phone and strictly just use your cell, there are monthly plans or you can simply use your internet Wifi to make calls as I described above and save!  We have a home phone because our security system requires it and switching to a cell would cost us another box to hook it up and then an additional $10 a month on our monitoring bill and it would also cost us getting another Tracfone to have one at home and one when out.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Downsizing & Organizing DVDs and CDs

I wanted to downsize a lot for our future move and I started with organizing all our papers into one file cabinet.  Life happened and some surgeries and then my miscarriage, so I just now getting back to my many planned projects.

We have a DVD/CD bookshelf that was full and then we also had bins full of homeschool CDs and a shelf full in our living room.  I decided to get rid of all the cases and downsize the space and I'm so glad I did this!  I bought 3 (will need one more) Case Logic DVD/CD zippered cases to store all of the discs.  One is for homeschool, one for music and then one for DVDs like cartoons, workouts, etc.  I do need to buy another one for computer software and video games, so that isn't pictured in these photos or the video.




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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Miscarriage or Loss of Child Songs Playlist

I made a playlist of the songs that have been helping me through the loss of my baby.  Not sure what is on the videos, but it is the songs I'm sharing.  My mother-in-law sent me the Steven Curtis Champman CD: Beauty Will Rise.  I don't listen to his music normally but the CD was very helpful with the grieving as he wrote the songs after the death of his 5 year old daughter.  Selah has always been one of my favorites and I shared the songs that have been helping and then some other songs as well.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Average Family Water Usage

I shared our family's average monthly electric usage in this post, and now I would like to share our water usage.  I had seen an article stating the average family of 4 spends $80 a month on their water bill and I was shocked.  We rarely go above $25 a month on our water bill!  I had to find out how many gallons we were using a month and then it became a little complicated.

On your water bill, it will tell you how much water you used that month but sometimes it is in cubic feet.  Ours is in cubic feet and I had no idea how to convert that to gallons, so the search began for answers.  I found this conversion information on the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/our_water/understanding_your_bill.html  That told me that one CCF (Centum Cubic Feet) is equal to 748 gallons.  One CCF is one hundred cubic feet.  Our average water usage for a month is 700 cubic feet and that is equal to 7 CCFs.  I now had the formula to find out how many gallons - 7 CCFs x 748 gallons = 5,236 galllons.

Our Family's Average Water Usage
700 cubic feet = 5,200 gallons a month

The average family of 4 has an average water usage of 1600-2000 cubic feet a month, which is about 12,000-15,000 gallons per month. We are using less than HALF the amount of the average family and that explains why our bill is $20-$25 a month.  The average for one person is 100 gallons a day or 3,000 gallons a month.  So at 3,000 gallons per person, you can estimate easily for your average depending on your family size.  For example, a family of 6 would use an average of 18,000 gallons of water a month.

Who knew we were such big water savers?  I don't really have any tips because I don't know what we are doing that others aren't.  I do know that we are mindful of water usage in that we don't let water run for no reason.  Here is a chart of the average number of gallons certain things in your home use that may be helpful in cutting costs and the website also provides some links to calculators:  http://water.usgs.gov/edu/qa-home-percapita.html

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thoughts on My 2nd Trimester Miscarriage Loss

I was 18 weeks pregnant when I found out that our baby had died many weeks before.  The size of the baby was measuring 11w 5dy, but they said that they shrink, so there is really no way of knowing the exact time it died inside of me.  Estimations are that it died in the 14th week, which was around New Year's and then spent the month of January shrinking back to the size it was when we found out.  I was just 4 days away from finding out the gender, though I really thought it was a boy, we just will never know.  We were going to call the baby Kyle for a boy or possibly Emma for a girl, so we named it Kyma since we don't know.

That image on the ultrasound is not only imbedded in my head - they gave us a copy of it (because I requested it.)  I knew when I saw it on the screen that it just didn't look right.  My baby's body was curled up and it was so small, not moving and there was no heartbeat.  Even though I knew the baby was probably not alive, I wasn't ready to know that not only was it dead, my body kept it in there for so long, it just didn't want to let go.  I didn't want to let go but once they saw it was possibly in there for 6 weeks, they had to rush it out of me.

I kept thinking maybe it was just asleep really good and curled up.  Maybe they were wrong and its heart was beating and they just didn't put the wand on the right spot.  "Are you sure it is dead!?" I said over and over again.  Maybe God could raise it from the dead, should we pray?  Even after they took it out, I would put my hands on my stomach and pray for God to put it back in there.

No one told me that if I had been induced, I could have held it and buried it.  No one told me that I could have requested the same after the D&C.  No one told me I could have its body tested to find out if the reason it died was something it had wrong.  No one told me that they might miss part of the pregnancy in the D&C and I would pass it at home.  No one told me that I was in shock and that intense feeling of grieving would come over me when I came back to reality.  No one prepared me for the feelings I would feel about God.

There are so many questions, regrets, emotions - my life is a blur.  I didn't even feel God for a week, it was as though He wasn't there.  I felt like discarded baggage by a God I thought always wanted good things for me.  How was this good?  How could God let a woman in Lake Stevens, WA have 3 children and abuse them and leave them locked up in a house with no heat or food and feces everywhere and let my baby die?  Why didn't God stop it?  Why didn't God heal the baby if something was wrong with it?  Was God unable to stop it?  Do things just happen to us and God doesn't have control?  Is it worth praying if things are just going to happen?  Does God love me?

Psalm 42:3
My tears have been my meat day and night....

God, you know I would have loved this baby.  You know I would have raised it up in Your Word.  You know me God!  However, I know that you can love it more than me and my baby is with You forever and I will see Kyma one day.  Heaven got so much sweeter and my longing for it, so much more intense.


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Where Do I Go From Here?

This past miscarriage was the hardest I've ever experienced because it was the only one of the 5 I've had that I had seen the baby, seen it move and heard its heartbeat three times over several weeks.  I thought I was in the safe zone and I admit I took it for granted.  I felt like I was detached from my body in the first 24 hours or so.  My doctor noticed this but didn't say anything until today.  Some people experience that initial shock and numbness and disassociate themselves from the trauma and that is what happened to me and now I realize that.

It did finally hit me and I've been grieving very hard experiencing a pain that I've never gone through.  I've read a lot and though it hurt, it helped too.  I talked a lot with my husband and that has been helping in the process.  I went through guilt and blame thinking I did this somehow by not eating enough or taking tylenol when I had the flu or doing too much, etc.  That is normal too from what I read and was told.  I also felt like I was being punished for something from God - and that is even a normal feeling in this type of loss.

So comes the question of where do I go from here?  It is hard to have hope again but I know that one day it will come back.  I had thought this was my "sign" or whatever from God that I just can't have babies anymore but my husband does not believe so and doesn't want me to close the door on future children.  My doctor already did a lot of tests and we will have more tests soon on my recurrent miscarriage issue.

I try and think of the future and it is hard as all my dreams for this year revolved around this baby coming.  Focusing on my husband, children and home again is helping me and I'm slowly immersing myself back into my life.  I know one thing for sure - I wouldn't want to go through this without God!  As a friend of mine added today, she wouldn't want to go through even life without God and that is so true!!  Thank you readers for your prayers and support, I appreciate it and am thankful for each one of you!!

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

In His Arms

I saw this on a blog and wanted to share as it really comforted me through my loss yesterday and I think it would do the same for those who have lost a baby as well:


IN HIS ARMS

My dearest little baby, my dearest little flower,
The time of your departing, was my darkest hour.

I longed to see and touch you, I longed to hold you close,
I dreamed of counting fingers, and all your little toes.

I dreamed of what we'd name you, and the joy that you would bring
To your brother and your sister, oh how they'd laugh and sing!

For there is nothing quite as precious as a brand new little life,
And nothing quite as empty, when it's takes eternal flight.

Others think I'm mourning over such a little thing,
"We'll have plenty more and our lives are still the same."

But what is greater than life? And what is deeper than its loss?
Is it not what Jesus gave us when He died upon the cross?

Life is the greatest of all gifts, life is the greatest of all joys,
Life is ever so much more than just another girl or boy.

And so our lives are NOT the same, they never will be again,
Because we'll never know or see, all that might have been.

If you had come into the world and lived life to the full,
Perhaps you would have stopped another shooting at a school,

Or maybe you would have been the one to find a cure for cancer,
Maybe you would have found that long and sought for answer.

Of course the Lord can still choose to use another way,
But maybe it would have been you, who on earth can say?

But no, they never stop to think of what you might have been,
As life is not highly regarded by our modern man.

They move on and they forget. The unborn never gets a thought,
They say things without thinking and crush a mother's heart.

It's amazing how you've changed me, and for that I have to smile,
I'll not soon forget the lessons I've learned through this great trial.

I'll use it for God's glory and to bring others comfort too,
It wouldn't be this way at all, if it hadn't been for you.

I'm so glad God gave me a glimpse, as painful as it's been,
For I see His unseen hand, and I trust His master plan.

I'm so glad you're in His arms, though I'd rather have you here,
But it won't be long until I'm there, holding you my little dear.

© Ashley Plourd

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We Saved $35 On Our Electric Bill

Remember when I posted about our family usage in this post?  Well, I had 15 days till we got our next bill and I decided to do an experiment and see if I could get our costs down by doing small things.  Our bill covers 60 days, but I only started the experiment with the last 15 days before the reading.  However, even in just 15 days we were able to bring our January bill down $35!  I can't imagine how much it would have went down had we done the whole 60 days with the experiment.  This time last year we used 4076 kWh but this cycle we only used 3641 kWh.  The cost per kWh went up, so we saved a lot more compared to last year this time!  Here is our usage chart compared to last January:



What I did was keep the heat down and only turn it up when we absolutely needed it.  I was more conscious of using hot water and used less and kept the lights off more.  It wasn't anything drastic, so that is why I was so surprised how our usage went down so much.

I'm getting a late start on our new 60 day cycle and haven't been as conscious of our usage but I plan to start again and hopefully our next bill in March will be ever more savings!  Someone had mentioned "vampire energy loss" and upon reading about that online, I started unplugging our chargers, computers and other things we weren't using daily.  The chargers and computers pull a charge even when nothing is charging.  That is why the plug is always warm, so this will be interesting to see how much we save in energy loss with those in addition to the other things like lights and hot water.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

5th Baby Awaiting Us In Heaven

I can't say that this came as a shock to me as I have felt this pregnancy just wasn't right from the very beginning.  I felt it was weird, I even told my husband I felt that the baby wasn't human (I was having weird thoughts!!) and about 6 weeks ago I had felt that the baby was dead inside of me - though others assured me it was just crazy thoughts.

Last night I started to bleed and I knew - I just knew my crazy thoughts were real.  I then started having pain and contractions by the time we got to the hospital.  I told the doctor how I had been feeling for 6 weeks and he said that the baby wouldn't be dead in me that long.  Well.....after the ultrasound results came back, he came back in and said I was right, the baby died in me 6 weeks ago, which was about the time I had had the terrible case of the flu for 2 weeks.  For some reason my body wasn't expelling it until now.

I was calm through most everything and felt that I was ready for this.  They put me to sleep and did a D&C and also checked for cancer with that growth I had on my cervix but they are pretty sure it isn't cancerous after getting a better look at it.

It is kind of ironic that I just blogged about tempting God as I feel that now if I continue to try to have a baby it wouldn't be right for us.  This one was really confirmation to me that my body can not do this anymore.  Who knows what God protected me from or prevented - He knows!  His will be done!!  I'm SO THANKFUL for the 2 miracles I have - my daughter and son - and how I wasn't even supposed to be able to have them!  They are truly miracles and I have 5 children awaiting me in Heaven!

As has come to me so many times in the past miscarriages - Job's words:

Job 1:21

".....the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."


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