Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Why and How of Budgeting

What is a budget and why do we need one?  A budget is simply a way to keep track of where your money goes.  The Google definition is: an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.  The reason why it would be good to have a budget is simply so you can SEE or find out where your money is being spent.  You don't really know unless you see it on paper - exactly what goes where.  If you want to get anywhere in life financially, you need to name every dollar!

Now onto how you do a budget.  There are some numbers you will need to find out before starting your budget, so write these down in a place you can refer to whenever you need to readjust your budget.

  1. Income - how much money is coming in to your home in any given month.  If you don't know, look at your pay stubs or take the hourly pay and multiply it by 160 hours for a typical 4-week month.  Include any child support or any miscellaneous incomes into this number.  
  2. Expenses - this is anything that goes OUT or that you pay for, how often (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) and if they are regular or just a one-time expense.  

Generally, you would do a budget each month but if your income and expenses are quite constant, you could probably get by with only doing a budget quarterly, or 4 times a year.  If you are like me and love to crunch numbers, well - you will be doing one quite often.

Here is a list of common expenses that almost everyone will need to budget for, I'm using the general categories that Dave Ramsey uses:

  1. Charity - this is where you would include tithe, offerings and any other giving.
  2. Savings - this isn't just what you hope to save in a savings account, this also includes retirement plans and other investments.
  3. Housing - includes rent or mortgage payment (and all that entails like property taxes, homeowner's insurance, etc.), renter's insurance and repairs if you own.
  4. Utilities - phone, internet, garbage, water, sewer, electric, gas
  5. Food - pretty self explanatory
  6. Personal - this is a catch-all for the needs, things like haircuts, toiletries, homeschool purchases and whatever else you feel that you need to purchase.
  7. Transportation - these are things to do with transporting you and/or your family that are needed like car insurance, gasoline and maintenance.
  8. Medical or Health - health insurance, dental insurance, medical bills, prescriptions, contacts, etc.  I also include disability and life insurance in this category.
  9. Clothing - budgeting a certain amount every month but you don't have to spend it each month, you can save it like we do and shop for clothes once or twice a year.
  10. Recreation or Fun money - whatever you do to have fun that costs money.
  11. Debt - all debt you have that is outstanding - car payments, credit cards, loans, etc.

Once you have your total income and total expenses written down, it is time to get down to crunching the numbers.  You will also want to know how much taxes are taken out each month.  I do our taxes each year, so I've calculated a certain amount that we claim and I know our tax rate, so I deduct that percentage from our monthly income. 

You only want to budget your total income MINUS your taxes - that will be your NET pay.  So starting with you net pay, subtract your expenses.  If you have money leftover, you need to place it into one of the categories and if it isn't needed - put it in savings in some form!  You should have what is called a zeroed-out budget - give every dollar a home.

Dave Ramsey recommends a certain percentage of your income towards each category and I did a pie chart to show you what this could look like:

Charity - 10-15%
Savings - 10-15%
Housing - 25-25%
Utilities - 5-10%
Food - 5-15%
Personal - 5-10%
Transportation - 10-15%
Medical - 5-10%
Clothing - 2-7%
Recreation - 5-10%
Debt - 0%

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our Financial Story

What better way to start this series than to tell you our financial story.  I will begin at the beginning of our marriage about 15 years ago when we were both working.  We had money rolling in and we were 20, we didn't budget and had no idea where that money went every month.  Once I started staying at home, we only lived on my husband's pay and it was a big shock to us to say the least!  There were times we didn't even have money in the bank and just prayed we would make it to the 1st or the 15th!

We moved a lot in town from apartment to apartment because I was never satisfied where I was and I gave my husband a hard time about it.  He let us move those many times because he wanted me to be happy.  Here I was, supposedly a "Christian" wife and discontent with everything my husband tried to provide for us.  Needless to say, our marriage wasn't going very well either.  We had our first child 3 years into our marriage and we had no money to pay the medical bills.  So, we applied and qualified for medicaid and my pregnancy and c-section were covered.  However, after I had the baby, I was no longer covered and sickness came off and on throughout the years and so did medical bills.

Years of discontent fueled reckless spendingWe never could get ahead because I was literally the millstone around my husband's neck that drained our finances and him!  We ended up with massive amounts of medical debt, credit card debt and a car payment that we could not afford to pay.  There was seemingly no hope.  Then, I decided that I wanted to leave Alaska because it was Alaska that was making me so miserable I thought.  I told my husband I was going to move to Washington with or without him.  I prayed for $20,000 and God gave it to us through an inheritance we didn't know was coming to us (why I don't know, I sure didn't deserve it!).  So my husband reluctantly decided to move us to Washington in 2006.  We paid for the move and I was able to secure him a job before we even moved.  Everything looked great but God didn't call us to where we were and I was about to learn quite a few lessons on never doing that again!

Upon getting a higher-paying job in WA, we had the choice of whether or not to buy health insurance.  I didn't want our money used to pay for something we didn't NEED as I was better, I mean who NEEDS health insurance anyway?  That is only if you have cancer and things like that - we were young and we would be fine.  Shortly, thereafter I ended up in the hospital for 13 days and we ended up with $40,000 worth of debt.  In the meantime, I had rededicated my life to God and gotten "right" and started being a submissive wife to my husband.  I no longer let my discontent rule our lives, however God was going to teach us a lesson that we wouldn't forget.

We had wanted to apply for financial assistance to pay the $40,000 medical bill but I remember when praying about it - God distinctly told us NO!  We were going to pay this debt and we were going to learn some lessons.  When I called the hospital billing to tell them we were not going to apply for assistance but pay this debt ourselves, they had an interesting story to tell.  Someone came in and wrote off $26,000 of the bill.  They don't know who, no one authorized it and they don't do that and she was perplexed and after talking with others in the office - no one knew WHO or HOW but it was someone with administrative privileges and we didn't owe $26,000 of the bill!  We still had a lot more left to pay though, that along with more credit card debt and a car payment had us back in the chains of debt.

We came across Dave Ramsey and read his book and my husband decided that we were doing this - we were going to be debt-free and never use a credit card again!  We were also going to pay for insurance because we didn't want to go through what we went through again.  We did the gazelle intensity and ended up paying close to $81,000 in debt OFF by 2011.  We were finally DEBT FREE!!!!!  We drive a paid-for car, we have no debt, we buy only what we can afford and our medical bills are paid with money we set aside in an Health Savings Account (HSA) that is tax-free.  We learned our lesson and so thankful we did!

We have had medical bills since then but thankfully, they are small in comparison to what they would have been had we not had health insurance!  We haven't touched a credit card in 5 years and don't plan on ever doing so.  We decided to live by biblical principles not just in our lives but also finances as well.  God has only blessed us and during times where we should have sunk under the weight of financial distress - God lifted the load off of us!  We didn't need Discover or Visa - we had God now and He is the only master we want to serve!

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Financial Budgeting 101 - Index of Upcoming Posts

I've had a lot of response and traffic to my budget post of a family living on $40,000 a year.  I realize that this is an area that we need more help in and though I'm not a financial expert, I sure know the way to deal with your finances is by following Biblical principles.  I hope to make this a series worthy of your time and may you be able to gain insight in bettering your financial future.

I will be linking to these as I go through the series over the next week or so, this will serve as in index of these posts:

  1. Our Financial Story - here I will tell you our family story and how we learned the hard way financially
  2. The Why and How of Budgeting - this is where I tell you why you should budget and how to do it
  3. Our Family Budget - I will show you our budget in percentages on how we divide our money
  4. Budget scenarios - I will share with you various financial scenarios on varying incomes/expenditures
  5. Summary - this is where I sum up the entire series up and share printables for you to utilize

*After this series, I do plan on doing a "Living Debt Free" series, which will give you ways to cut back, save and make your financial dreams a reality!

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Happenings With Us

It doesn't look like we will be moving to Ohio this year, so I think we are delaying that till next summer or until God opens some doors.  Since it seems like we are not leaving soon, I went ahead and stocked up on some things so that we can get our grocery budget down each month.  I also know that waiting another year will only benefit us as we can save more and I can purchase some needed items - new dining chairs, my daughter a bed, etc.

On the homeschool front, we took some time off in July but still did homeschooling off and on but started up a full-day at the beginning of August.  We are now in full swing and are excited to finish up a lot of things and add in new things in a few months.

I'm still giving away a lot of things and we have sold/gave away about 4,000 pounds of things in the past few months!  I still have more to get rid off because I don't want to take all this stuff with me and I'm tired of holding on to so much - it is so freeing to let go!

Posts that I plan on doing soon:

  • More Budgeting posts
  • Living Debt-Free
  • Affording Healthcare
  • Lip balm - I haven't forgotten, just haven't took the time to do it yet
  • Freezer cooking - I think it is time I return to doing it again
  • Motherhood - Wife - Goals in life
  • Devotionals
  • A special healing

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

This Week's Dinner Menu

  1. Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
  2. Cincinnati Chili
  3. Korma with rice
  4. Homemade pizza
  5. Creamy Chicken Veggie Bake
  6. Tuna Macaroni & Cheese with peas
  7. Eggs, uncured turkey bacon and hashbrowns

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Herbal Medicine Cabinet

I've always been interested in natural things for healing of the body as opposed to taking medications that may not even work but almost all the time cause a myriad of side effects.  Also considering that, medications have caused my weight gain over years.  I'm actually finding more relief in natural herbs, than I ever did on medication!

I'm stocking up my herbal medicine cabinet slowly but I eventually want to have it all on hand, learn how to make more remedies and be able to rely on those and steer clear of harmful toxic drugs.  I know there are some situations that may call for such things, but in reality, most ailments can be easily treated with natural herbs, remedies and/or diet and exercise.

I've done some posts on this before, which you can find under the "natural remedies" category but here are things I'm using or going to be trying this month:

What I Already Use (or have used)
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Fish Oil
  • Black Currant Oil
  • Milk Thistle
  • Peppermint
  • Chamomile
  • Lemon Balm
  • Red Raspberry Leaf
  • Psyllium Seed/Husk
  • Echinacea
  • Astragalus
  • Eucalyptus
  • Calendula
  • Raw, Local Honey
  • Vitamin C powder
  • L-lysine
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Probiotics
  • Rosemary
  • Tea Tree Oil

What I Will Be Using NEW This Month
  • Ashwagandha
  • Slipper Elm
  • Bentonite Clay
  • Dried Elderberry
  • White Willow Bark
  • Sage
  • Thyme

What I Want to Try Later
  • Chasteberry
  • Rhodiola
  • Shatavari
  • Mullein 
  • Oil of Oregano
  • Essential Oils

A great resource that I use is National Geographic's Guide to Medicinal Herbs, which was written by Dr. Tieraona Low Dog.  She is an awesome woman and I've read a lot of her work, she works with Dr. Weil who runs an Integrative Medicine college in Arizona and is also known for his extensive knowledge in medicine - both conventional and natural.

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Serving Others in Humility

My mind was brought back to my dad once again and his humility.  My dad would hold foot washings at our church growing up a few times a year.  We would move the pews to face each other in a long line across the church.  Then, a volunteer would get a large basin full of water, a pitcher to refill along the way and a towel for my dad and a woman volunteer.  The woman would go along and wash the women's feet and my dad would wash the men's.

I remember my dad with that towel strapped around him, kneeling down at each of the men's feet and quoting:

John 13:14-15
If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

This is what Jesus said to his disciples after he washed all their feet.  You can read the full account in John 13.  Jesus was showing them how they should treat one another, but most importantly how none of us should think ourselves better than another or be so high that we can't kneel and wash another's feet.

Some commentators had said that Jesus didn't mean for them to do it but only to bring them to humility in my mind.  I suppose that is so, but my dad chose to do it and God blessed every time!  My dad would cry as he went along and so would everyone else.  I remember crying because of the love in that place as my dad humbled himself to wash the dirty feet of others.  Then, seeing his church members cry also as they realized how much their pastor loved them.  He loved them enough to humble himself and do as the Lord Jesus had done.  It was a special time and one that when I bring it to remembrance, pours the humility and love of the act all over me.

How about instead of criticizing one another, looking down on them because they aren't doing what we are doing, or have done, that we instead - wash their feet?  Just thinking of washing the feet of those you criticize should bring humility in your heart and show you your own pride.  If not, then maybe it is time you brought out the basin and served them.

My dad had a heart for people (and still does) and that is something they will always remember.  I will leave you with Barnes' commentary on this important lesson Jesus taught:

It is the manifest design of Jesus here to inculcate a lesson of humility; to teach them by his example that they ought to condescend to the most humble offices for the benefit of others. They ought not to be proud, and vain, and unwilling to occupy a low place, but to regard themselves as the servants of each other, and as willing to befriend each other in every way. And especially as they were to be founders of the church, and to be greatly honored, he took this occasion of warning them against the dangers of ambition, and of teaching them, by an example that they could not forget, the duty of humility.

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

What a Man Needs

I posted this 7 years ago back in 2007, but it is still so applicable today!

Below is a list from men around the country that either spoke or sent the comments in to Dr. Laura. They are great and every married woman should strive to meet her husband's needs! We are selfish when we constantly think about our needs and our feelings and forget that MEN have feelings and needs too and in reality.......if you meet his needs, yours will be met in return. ; )

A Man's Needs
  • A man needs to feel strong and needed as a protector for women - basically, to conquer the beast and rescue the fair maiden.
  • What every man wants is for his woman to make him feel that he is strong and the head of the household. I am not talking caveman-style, dragging the woman around by her hair, but just as the leader of the family.
  • A man wants respect, kindness, and love from his woman.
  • A man wants to be put on a pedestal, not so that he can look down on everyone, but to show him that he is the most important thing to his woman.
  • A man needs his woman to show him that she needs his strength to help her through life.
  • The man should be the major breadwinner in the family. Every man needs a battle or war to win to prove to himself that he is strong and capable of conquering any and all dragons that life throws his way. Taking care of his family by working and providing are his battles.
  • A man needs enthusiastic approval, appreciation, and respect from his wife for being a competent man, husband, and father.
  • A man needs his wife to show some interest in his interests, especially when it's an activity she may not "get" or like. Just being there is important.
  • A man needs his wife to greet him after work with love and enthusiasm.
  • A man needs his wife to care about the day he's had.
  • A man needs to know that his wife is sexually satisfied by him.
  • A man needs his wife's encouragement in order to be a man.

These are all tried and tested! They work....he WILL treat you like a queen if you start treating him like a man and let him be the leader of the home.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Why I Love My Husband

I get a lot of requests for posts on marriage and though I don't feel like a marriage expert, I know what love is and entails.  Our marriage has been tested in some of the most extreme forms and it has withstood the storms and temptations to dissolve.  This post is going to help propel women to think on what they love about their husbands.  I find that a lot of time, women that want to leave their husbands or say they 'fell out of love' with him - have forgotten what it is that attracted them in the first place and all that they love about him since they've been married.  May this inspire you to think on the ways you love your man!

I've been married to the most wonderful man on this earth for 14 years now and our love is even stronger than those many years ago when we first began a life together.  We have been through so many things over the years that others may have threw in the towel for but our love stood the test of time.  There are so many things I love about my husband but these are what really fills my mind today:

  1. He loves me!  He is so full of love for me and treats me like a queen everyday of my life.  There is no doubt that he loves me and even others have remarked of his deep love for me - he doesn't hide it!  He doesn't want or desire anyone else - I'm still just as hot to him as I was the day he met me and he tells me so all the time!  Everyone he works with knows all about me and our children - he loves us so much!
  2. He comforts me.  I've been through a lot of pain and illness in my life and since marrying my husband, he has been such a comfort to me in all I've gone through - past and present.
  3. He is my best friend!  We are not only in love but he is also my best friend.  We can share our deepest thoughts, fears and shortcomings and bond and help one another.  
  4.  He is a dedicated follower of Christ.  He is so humble and doesn't think highly of himself.  He loves God and is very dedicated to spending time with the Lord.  His very dedication inspires mine.
  5. He is a dedicated father and husband!  He spends his free time with us.  He doesn't do social media because he sees how much time it would take away from us and he doesn't want to be involved in other men's matters.  He will stop anything that I feel or my daughter feels is taking away from our relationship - he puts God and his family first!
  6. He provides!  My husband is man enough to provide for his own.  He doesn't need to prostitute me out on a job to make the ends meet.  His manhood shows through being the sole provider.  I love that about him!  Man enough to make enough!
  7. He has compassion.  He cares for others and gives them the benefit of the doubt most of the time.  He is also advising me to let things go when others have done me wrong.  He truly has a great heart.
  8. He's handsome - I would say more here but let's just say he is attractive to me! ;-)
  9. He is hilariously funny!  He always keeps me laughing with his wit and humor!
  10. He is talented.  He composes music and songs and sings them.  He is intelligent and helps in homeschooling the kids when I don't know something.  He is awarded frequently at his job from his hard work and great customer service.  
  11. There isn't anyone that doesn't like him!  My husband has never had an enemy and everyone likes him.  He gets along with everyone because of his easy-going nature, which he got from his parents.
  12. He is a steady man.  He isn't impulsive and he is very careful and takes his time with decisions.  He balances me very well!  He never endangers our family by taking risks.  He keeps us debt-free with his wise spending.
  13. He is a leader.  He doesn't think he is much of one but I know he is!  I couldn't be what I am today without God and my husband - he has helped make me a better person.  He instructs his children in the right ways and doesn't allow them to do, read or watch inappropriate things.  He leads and safeguards his family.

Think of all the ways you love your husband today!  Keep the fires going and always stay newlyweds in affections.

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Purging - A Lesson in Faith

Purging sounds so much more accomplished than decluttering, don't you think?  Not only has God been purging things in my life and even those around me but I've also been purging physical things in my home.  I held on to a lot of things but realized that maybe I'm holding on to some of them because I'm afraid of poverty.  I hadn't voiced this to anyone but God knew and it was recently shared by my pastor in a bible study - the fear of poverty.  I was thinking - wow, I hadn't even shared that and yet, God let the man of God know that someone needed to hear it!

Fear of poverty can cause you to hoard things or hold on to things.  In my case it was thinking that I wouldn't have the money to replace the items later on when I would need them.  For example, I was saving my daughter's old clothes from all the way back to when she was a toddler up until recently.  I was saving the clothes for our next baby, but we got a boy - so, I realized that if I saved for the next baby, those clothes would be there a long time before she would even be able to wear them.  However, when I decided to get rid of them and even sold a few, I started closing up and became scared to let them go.  I was scared I wouldn't be able to find such nice things again and scared that I wouldn't have the money to buy my next child clothes.

I finally was able to let go of the sentimental value of them but I still held on to the fear of poverty.  Not only did God reassure me in the recent study that I shouldn't fear that - He also showed me that fear of poverty was actually unbelief.  Unbelief is something that is not given much attention in the Christian world today.  Yet, it has the same ability to send you to hell as does murdering someone.

Revelation 21:8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

God has taken care of us when we barely had any money and in our time of plenty.  Not only did God always provide our every need, He also fulfilled some of our wants!  Satan wants us to think that if we let go of something there will be a time we will regret it and we will be without.  If you let go of those clothes, your child will be naked and without he says.  That isn't faith talk - that is faithLESS talk!  That is fear-based future planning and not something that we should heed.

You could even have everything set for your future all nice and in pretty little rows, figuratively speaking - but things could come and take that all away in a moment.  That is why we are commanded not to trust in riches (abundance of external possessions) because they are not certain - only God is!!

It is one thing to have a storehouse and be wise, but it is another to hoard because we fear the future.  God can take care of us, we don't need to be ruled by fear of our future.  If we are in God's will, we can rest in that and know that He will meet all of our needs!

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sticking to Your Standards

God has really been dealing with my heart about a lot of things recently.  Namely - holiness.  God keeps drawing me to be more, to rid my life of things and to be more steadfast in what He has already led our family to be.

I was reading a book by Hugh Pyle called, Stick to Your Standards and it was even more the same message that God had already been dealing with me about.  There are some things that I've let in to my life and our home that God isn't pleased with.  Sure, I could justify them all day long - but I know deep inside that God has said NO!

Today, I finally let go of the fight and told God that I would let them go.  I didn't experience a life growing up watching a family compromise in many ways that only destroyed the holiness it once had - to do so myself.  I went through it so I would know what it looks like and to raise up a generation that was more concerned about God and holiness.

God needs men, women, and children to lift up the standard in this darkened world.  We are already infiltrated with the doctrines of men that proclaim that sin isn't so bad anymore and that you don't need to be holy.  We don't need to find ways to let more of the world in our homes, we need to find ways to keep more of it out!

I like the quote that was shared in the book I mentioned:

When all of God's sheep become dirty gray, the black sheep feel more comfortable. - Vance Havner

There are absolutes of right and wrong.  There is black and white.  Anything that falls into the gray areas must be carefully and prayerfully considered.  As many have said in times past, I would rather go too far than not far enough and miss the mark.  Thank God that He has standards and that we, by the Holy Spirit, can be directed in our ways and our lives.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ..... Phil. 1:27

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Christian Music I Listen To

I got some questions about this recently after my post, Examining Your Christian Music Style.  I wrote that post after some research I did about music and so the question came - what singers do I listen to?  Well, I can say that some of the singers I listen to, don't necessarily hold the outward holiness standards that I do or even the doctrinal beliefs......but, they produce a sound of music that is spiritual.  It is NOT something that draws you to the world, reminds you of the world, etc.  I like to hear someone sing a song with power and then I also love singers who not only sing it well, but live the life too - but those are hard to find!

Here is a list of singers I listen to, though they may have some songs that I don't like the style of - I just let the Spirit of the Lord lead me in what sounds spiritual.
  1. The Isaacs
  2. The Simpson Family
  3. The Crabb Family
  4. The Bowling Family
  5. The Perrys
  6. Sisters
  7. Talley Trio
  8. Karen Peck
  9. The McRaes
  10. The Ruppes
  11. The Kingdom Heirs
  12. Chicago Mass Choir, Brooklyn Tabernacle and the like
  13. The Ball Brothers
  14. The Dunaways
  15. Smokie Norful
  16. Dottie Peoples
  17. Mountain Faith
  18. Shirley Caesar
  19. Hezekiah Walker (some songs)
  20. Kurt Carr (some songs)
  21. Selah
  22. Malcolm Williams
  23. Bishop Larry D. Trotter
  24. H.I.M. Choir
  25. Indiana Bible College
  26. Gateway College of Evangelism
  27. The Primitive Quartet
  28. McKameys
  29. Kingsman
  30. Gold City
  31. Ricky Skaggs & The Whites
  32. The Chigger Hill Boys & Terry
  33. Brian Free
  34. Greater Vision
  35. The Greenes/Hoppers
  36. The Barnes Family
  37. Booth Brothers
  38. More but this is long enough!
Boggs Family -
In One Accord -

Bridgeton Pentecostal Holiness Church -
Free Holiness Gospel Groups -
Whitney Duncan -
Ashley Duncan -

Listen Live Online:

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Our Current Daily Schedule

I haven't done one of these posts in a long time, here is the last time I did before my son was born and my life looks a lot different than that now!  

10:00 a.m. - Wake up; Make breakfast

10:30 a.m. - Breakfast

11:00 a.m. - Homeschool starts - Bible, writing, grammar

12:00 p.m. - Snack for my son & Recess; P.E.

1:00 p.m. - Lunch

1:45 p.m. - Pick up time

2:00 p.m. - Son's nap for 3 hours and this is when we homeschool spelling, history or science, math and reading

3:10 p.m. - My part in homeschool is done, daughter works independently until dinner; This begins my time to do whatever is on my to-do list for the day

3:30 p.m. - Snack

4:30 - 5:00 p.m. - Start dinner prep

5:00 p.m. - Son wakes up from nap

5:30 p.m. - Dinner

6:00 p.m. - Kitchen clean up

7:00 - 9:00 p.m. - Evening activities (different each night)

9:00 p.m. - Son's bedtime cereal and milk; we usually eat a snack

9:30 p.m. - Son's bedtime

Family Freetime

11:00 p.m. - Daughter's bedtime

1:00 - 2:00 a.m. - Bedtime for me

Homeschool time is 11-12 in the morning and then from 2-5 in the afternoon.  My daughter also has evening reading that she works in sometime before bed.  Total homeschooling for the summer is about 4 hours.  Once we get to fall, we will not have such a large break from 12 - 2 - that will be the time my daughter does Latin, Spanish and Logic (new subjects she will start in 5th grade), putting her at 6 hours of schooling.  My time spent homeschooling goes from about 2 hours down to less than one in the new school year!

Sometimes I wake up before my kids and I try to be as quiet as possible, doing something like reading the news on my Kindle.  However I've learned, whenever I get up, my son always seems to hear and gets up and doesn't get enough sleep and then he will be cranky all day - so I've tweaked my own schedule to try and sleep till he wakes up.  I would like to get back to going to sleep by midnight and waking at 8, but that would mean putting my son to bed at 8 and that won't work for our family.

My son gets 12 hours of sleep at night, my 10-year old daughter gets 10 hours and I try and get at least 8 hours.  All of these are for good health and the recommended times for the age/stage.  I recently watched a documentary study on obesity and there is substantial evidence that babies and toddlers that do not get AT LEAST 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night, are at risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease later on in life.  I was surprised by this but I knew that 12 hours was good as my daughter slept for 12 hours until she was around age 5 and now sleeps 10 hours.  Sleep really does make a difference in children's behaviors and ours!

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Answering Questions About My Blog(s)

I've had a lot of questions about my blog and that is what I'm going to address in this post.  Having a blog and your own dot com is not expensive.  You can design your blog yourself and find cheap, reliable hosting services.  I'm really shocked that there are dot coms out there that pay someone upwards to $1,000 a month - I wonder WHY!?  It doesn't take but pennies a month to run a dot com and you can save on design costs by learning how to do it yourself. 

  1. Design - I designed my blog myself.  My inspiration for my homekeeping blog was a candy shop and the title was inspired by a mod look and for my homeschool blog; colors from our family's name crest.  I use blogger which is, in my opinion, the best blogging platform that there is.  You can use your own html or use their preset templates (which have improved dramatically the past few years!).  You set your colors, fonts, header, width, etc. and all that can be easily learned from online blogger tutorials.  I didn't take a class and don't have a degree in graphic design - I just self-taught myself with tutorials fore FREE.  You can find many free background-makers, icons, etc. online.
  2. Hosting & Domain Costs - So you think I pay mega bucks to run my own dot com, as so many other bloggers do - well, are you sitting down?  I pay......$10.  Yes, $10 a YEAR!  That comes out to be around 83 cents a month, which is very affordable.  That is my domain (dot com) and my hosting.  There really is no reason to pay more.  If in the future the price goes up drastically, then I may rethink my dot com but since 2007 for the last 7 years, I've only paid $10 a year to have this domain.
  3. Pictures - You can make the fancy Pinterest-like pictures for your blog but it takes time.  I suppose if you have that time or you have a for-profit blog, then you might find that time worth it.  I'm a not-for-profit blogger, so I don't stress over the pictures (as you can probably tell).  I do sometimes like to do it but I honestly don't want to use my time tweaking pictures.  I've found 2 simple things, again for FREE, that you can use for your pictures - Photoscape for your computer and PicMonkey online.  You can do what you want with these 2, no need for anything more.

If you have any additional blogging questions, let me know!

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Toxic Culture of Education

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