Category Archives: Life with Littles

image

Why Having Baby #5 is More Fun Then #1

Few things in life compare to the wonder of holding your first child for the first time and realizing, yes, you are a mom!

However, now that #5 is on his/her way, I have to admit, I wouldn’t go back there! There are some fun perks to this stage.

  1. You don’t worry about everything.

Along with all the thrill and joy of baby #1, there is also a lot of fear. Will you be a good mother? Will you do everything right?

(By #5 you realize no, you will not do everything right. You will get grouchy sometimes, you will have rough nights and feed your kids that super-bad-for-you macaroni and cheese, you will not do all the magical activities you always imagined yourself doing with them and no, you will not be anything like Mary Poppins – even on your best days, but that’s OK.)image

You will be what your kids need – their mom, you’ll go to bat for them, love them, laugh with them, and help them clean their rooms and do their homework. You’ll believe in them and cheer for them and even when you mess up – you’ll get up and by God’s grace be there for them the next day – and for as long as you live. And by baby #5, you’ll know it’s not about being ‘perfect’ but about loving them and being there for them. You can do that.

  1. Less people talk about your shape and poke at your belly.

When you are surrounded by a mass of little kids, people cannot even get to your belly let alone poke it. And with 4 little socialites crowding for their attention, those people also don’t have time to talk about your increased size.

(Whew! That problem is solved! Yay for less Pillsbury Dough Boy pokes!)

  1. You have more people genuinely excited about the baby.

Maybe extended relatives will roll their eyes when you tell them you are having another one, but as far as the people who will be changed and affected by the baby every day, you now have a household of 6 people who are thrilled to pieces. (Even if their name choices are not always the best. Lumina? Thor? Leelee?)

  1. You are secure in your body and birth plan.

For baby #1 and even #2, you read everybody else’s opinions about birth. By #5, you know your own body, you know what you’re going to do, and you need minimal help.

(The doctors are also lot more apt to let you do what you want to. Seriously, they look at my chart now and kind of nod in a very hands-off way, and I’m thankful for that. I’ve been here multiple times before, and I’ll call them if I need them.)

  1. You are secure in your approach to mothering

imageThe moment you look into your first baby’s face, you are overwhelmed. Never have you seen someone so wonderful, but you are also overwhelmed by your own identity change. You are now a mother.

By the time you’ve had a few, you are secure in your identity as a mom and in your approach to mothering. The moment you see baby #3, #4, #5, you just soak up their little face.

  1. Necessary life changes have already been made

- You’ve made the schedule changes

Most of us with #1 had to make some major changes – whether it was stopping working, finding childcare, or embarking on the journey of juggling a combination of those things.

By #5 those things are in a rhythm. Yes every newborn brings new challenges, but you are old hat at the juggling game, and your family is accustomed to rolling with the punches and working together as a team.

- You’ve made the heart changes.

I’ve heard so many new parents say it. “We don’t plan on changing much in our schedule. We’ll just bring a baby along. Not much will change.”

(I just smile and nod when I hear them say this and then I admit – I laugh with my husband later. We know they’ll learn.)

By #5, you have long since laid down an active social life. Yes, you sometimes miss it. Yes, it’s important to call friends and have deep conversations sometimes, but by #5, you’ve realized that right now your kids simply come first. You’ve accepted that for this season in life other things won’t happen, and you are (usually – except on the messy, PMS days) content with that.

  1. No Shower Gifts to Deal With

I say this tongue in cheek. I was given a lot of wonderful shower gifts for baby #1 that I still use today. However, now that I have my systems set up, I am relieved to not have to deal with an onslaught of new gifts. Less clutter, less stress, and less returns sound great! I’ll just buy the few items I need.

  1. Less Hard on Yourself.

image- After #1 you realize you will never be the perfect mom because you’re not perfect. And you realize that’s OK.

- After #2 you realize that your love multiplies and there really is plenty to go around.

- After #3 you realize that you can never keep them all happy at once, and that’s OK.

- After #4 you realize that you can’t always stay in control of everything. You have to let some things go, and not only is that OK, it’s pretty relieving.

-Verity

PS (And I’ll let you know what I learn after #5, but I’m really excited to find out!)

 

 

image

Thank You Elisabeth Elliot

I was 2 years into parenting, and life was stretching in front of me like one massive laundry pile after another.

Gone was the glory of the Christian walk that I’d dreamed of while in Bible college – back when I’d had hours to study and contemplate all the beautiful and exciting ways God’s plan was going to unfold in my life.

There was no glory.

There was no excitement.

There was just a very challenging toddler, a newborn, and a husband who was working feverishly just to provide enough for us to scrape out an existence.

And there was the nagging fear that maybe I’d missed God’s will for my life – that if I’d ‘caught’ it, I’d be off making glorious differences in God’s work because obviously I was made for more then dishes, laundry, and toddler tantrums.

And there was the discouragement and depression that comes every time I start giving into fear and forget to notice God’s working hand.

But then came the pivotal phone call with my older sister – that got my head screwed back on, and the quote she gave me that has become the motto of my every day.

It was an encouraging call – as they always are when I take the time to call the godly woman who I get to call my older sister, but at the end of it, she offered to send me a quote by Elisabeth Elliot.

I agreed – having been blessed by a couple of Elisabeth Elliot’s books – though doubting someone who had actually gotten to do awesome things in God’s work could ‘get’ my menial existence.

But I found in the quote – a life outlook that I needed desperately to adopt. It was one of trust, and it was one of seeing God’s hand at work in every. single. task.

 “This job has been given to me to do.

Therefore, it is a gift.

Therefore, it is a privilege.

Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God.

Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him.

Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way.

In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

 

Elisabeth Elliot

 

I printed the quote, capitalized the words I wanted to think about, framed it, and have read it multiple times a week since.

I have many framed Bible verses around my home, but this is the only human quote, and it sits front and center above my sink because I seem to need this reminder often.

(In the summer it usually has dandelions next to it, but as you can see, my kids have upgraded to chives this year.)

My life is still filled with the menial, but this life outlook has helped me to recognize that every time I’m sweeping the floor, I’m fulfilling a task God has called me to do – to exemplify a content attitude and create a calm home for my children to grow.

When I fold the 97th load of laundry this year, I recognize that it is a gift to be able to do whatever God has for me – exciting or not-so-exciting and to teach my littles how to fold wash clothes, pants , (and two of them can now fold shirts!).

And when I start seeing past the temporal exterior that enshrouds every task, I start to be overwhelmed with the privilege.

That is when I finally start to realize that my uneventful day is an offering I may make to God.

Then the gladness and thankfulness for getting to do a service for Him comes.

Then my heart opens and reaches up to God – eager to learn the lesson of the way that He is teaching me.

Then, slowly, I can strive for faithfulness.

- Verity

IMG_4137

April Showers Crafts and Games!

It’s that time of year when we stand on the brink of sunshine and hours of outside play. So close we can almost smell it… yet it’s not quite here.

We are having one of those classic April weeks in Minnesota, where it’s too cold to play outside and every day looms of rain, so we decided to make the most of it! Today we learned all about the seasons, rain, and why there are April showers. ☺ I came up with a list of activities that would both demonstrate how rain works, and give the kids a hands on experience, plus a craft project o remember it by. It just happened that I was also able to incorporate appropriate books throughout the day to go with each activity.


The Seasons:

IMG_4136First, I chose 1 item to represent each season: a wooden snowflake, a red leaf, a small wooden flower, and a yellow circle for the sun. I placed the items in a bag and had each child reach in (without looking) to pull one out. We discussed each one and what it represented. They really enjoyed the suspense of this activity!

Then we read “When?” by Leo Lionni and “All Around Us” by Eric Carle. These were perfect! They both cover the seasons and things that happen in them. We talked about how we are in the season of spring and specifically, the month of April. In April it rains a lot so flowers can grow etc.

April and Rain:

IMG_4139Next, we moved to the dining room table where I placed a large mason jar filled 1/3 of the way with boiling water. I placed a plate on top and let it sit for a few minutes while we discussed how and why rain works. You can read more about it HERE. Next, I set 8-10 ice cubes on the plate. Within a few seconds, we could see a gentle mist coming down the jar from the bottom of the plate which looked like a light rain. They loved it!

Making their own rain clouds:

IMG_4142I filled a large clear container half full with water and added only 2 drops of blue food coloring. I wanted them to see the blue, but I didn’t want it to stain anything. ☺ I gave them each a container with cotton balls, a piece of paper, and tongs. If you don’t have enough tongs, we also used 2 matching serving forks and 2 matching serving slotted spoons. These may have even been easier. :-D I would also cover your workspace with a towel—everything got quite wet.

I explained that their cotton balls were clouds and they needed to fill them with water to become rain clouds. They dropped the cotton balls into the blue water, let them get wet and then set them on the paper to make designs. They LOVED this!! Before long, the cotton balls were back and forth and everywhere else. They wrung them out with their hands and started the process again. Everybody was wet, but they did this for about half an hour. Very fun activity that serves as a great visual for rain!

Rain Craft:FullSizeRender

I gave each child a piece of cardstock with a simple cloud drawn in the top portion. I had them fill it with Elmer’s glue and then cover it with cotton balls. Next we discussed how rain comes out of rain clouds, so they made their rain with the glue. I then sprinkled blue glitter on their rain, poured off the excess, and Voila! Beautiful rain coming down from their clouds. They were pretty giddy about all that glitter—especially since I was doing this with 4 little girls. ☺

IMG_4147Listening Walk:

It just happened that it wasn’t raining this afternoon, so we decided to get outside for a few minutes—it was still cold! :-D I wanted the walk to go with our spring theme though, so we read, “The Listening Walk” by Paul Showers, then we got bundled up and headed out for our own listening walk. This was a lot of fun. All of the kids noticed things they had never noticed before. We discovered a lot of unique and new sounds as well finding some new life on trees and in plants. They were surprised to see and hear so many of the signs of spring we had been learning about.

FullSizeRenderOther books we read to go with the theme:

“Dora’s Serach for the Seasons” by Samantha Berger

“A Bunny for all Seasons” by Janet Schulman

“My Spring Robin” by Anne Rockwell

“Wee Little Lamb” by Lauren Thompson

Coloring Pages:

We finished the day with a couple of coloring pages that coordinated with the theme. I just got them off Google images and turned them into coloring sheets.

Soon the luster of spring will be here and we will miss these cold rainy days to do projects inside our home. I love the opportunities to take advantage of these less than desirable times! ☺

Happy Spring!

-Lydia

 

image

Sun Catchers Craft

​As we gear up for spring, (and that extra hour of sunshine!) the kids and I did this great craft project I have to share with you! It’s cheap, easy, and makes a great gift to brighten someone’s day. We made sun catchers.

What you need:

• Contact paper
• Tissue Paper
• Ribbon
• Hole Punch
• Scissors
• Small suction cup with hook

​Simply trace a circle onto contact paper with a little hump on the top. It will look similar to a Christmas ornament.

​Cut out 2 of them for each sun catcher.

​Cut out several small squares of multi colored tissue paper.

​Peel the backing off the contact paper. This takes a bit of patience…

​Have the kids place their tissue paper squares all over the sticky side of the contact paper. My 13 month old did this no problem and loved it!

​When it’s full, place the matching contact paper circle on top. Line it up best you can, but it doesn’t have to be perfect at all.

​Trim around the edges. This will catch the tissue paper hanging off the edges and is also an easy way to even out the circles.

​Punch a hole in the center of the hump part at the top.

​String a short thin ribbon through the hole and tie it in a loop.

​Hang on a window with a suction cup that has a hook. They sell 10-12 packs at Dollar Tree.

​These make great gifts to brighten someone’s day!

​Enjoy the sunshine!!
- Lydia

FullSizeRender

Daylight Savings Activities for Kids

Daylight Savings Time: The dreaded day when we lose an hour of precious sleep and our kids schedules are changed for the next 7 months. I got to thinking though; why not use the opportunity to teach my children? They are currently 1, 2, and 4, with the girls I nanny filling in the gaps at 3 and 5, but it’s a great opportunity to teach them about Daylight Savingsastronomy, time telling, reading the calendar, seasons, and more!

Here’s what we did!

First, I pulled out a toy that happens to have a large clock face with movable hands on one side. You could use a real clock, a toy, or make your own. We discussed times they are familiar with such as when they wake up in the morning, lunch time, bedtime, and so on. Next we went through a full day hour by hour and I explained how the clock cycles through all the numbers twice each day. We talked about when it’s light outside, when it’s dark and some key times in the winter vs. summer when it’s light or dark. Once they were fully synced with me on the subject, I took them into the concept of daylight savings time: why we do it and how it works. I showed what it looks like to fall back and spring forward on the clock and how that would affect the times of day they are familiar with. They were fascinated and had a decent understanding of everything. To enforce the concept, we played some games.

Game #1

IMG_3798I had the kids stand shoulder to shoulder on a line in our home. You could make one with masking tape. When I said “Fall Back!” they had to take a giant step backward. When I said, “Spring Forward!” they took a giant step forward. Each time I gave the command and they responded, I gave a high five to those who had responded correctly. That was plenty of incentive for them. We did it several times until they were all getting it correct each time and there were plenty of giggles. ☺

Game #2

IMG_3802I had them all sit Indian style on the living room floor. When I said, “Fall back!” they flopped onto their backs. I had them sit back up, and sit Indian style again. When I said, “Spring forward!” they flopped onto their tummies. We didn’t play this one as long as the other, but they still loved it!

 

 

Craft #1

They colored this picture. Isn’t it cute? I felt like it summed everything up perfectly!

Craft #2

FullSizeRenderWe made pocket watches. The kids needed a tactual way to remember all we had learned, so what better project than to make a clock of some sort? You could do anything, but I thought these were super cute!

First, draw 2 circles near each other on colored paper. I used construction paper, but colored paper would hold up better. Connect your circles to create a book type look. I guess it almost looks like a pair of glasses if that helps. Cut them out all connected.

Draw a smaller circle on plain white paper and cut it out as well.

Glue the white circle to one side of the colored circle.

Write the numbers of a clock face around the white circle.

IMG_3805Cut out 2 tiny arrows, one slightly larger than the other, on black paper. I was disappointed with how well the construction paper held up, so another option might be better. Use a safety pin to prick a whole through both arrows and the center of the clock face and back of pocket watch. This will make it so much easier when you poke your brad through it. Make sure the hole is a good ways down the arrow sticks so they don’t rip through when you insert your brad.

Next, poke your brad through both arrows and the clock and backside of your pocket watch.

Lastly, feel free to decorate the pocket watch and enjoy!

We did one last craft project to welcome the extra hour of sunlight each day, so come back on Friday to read about that one. ☺

Even if we are about to lose an hour of sleep, at least we have the opportunity to teach our children so many concepts leading up to it! ☺Daylight Savings Time Spring Forward Coloring

-Lydia

 

image

Decluttering the Kids’ Room for Christmas! :-)

image

It is amazing the difference of focus!

EXAMPLE: I am not a huge fan of cleaning – but if I get a brand new scented candle and focus on  displaying it on a clean table in a clean house … Well, that changes everything!

I clean my house in record time and light that thing with pride. ;-)

Kids are the same way :-)

So, in the easiest indeaver yet, the kids helped me clear out the extras in their room to make room for Christmas presents. (BOY, were they excited to get rid of stuff!!)

image

(I think this will be normal thing for us each year! What a great excuse to clear out.)

Here’s everything we cleared from their room. :-) (A lot of it was just out of place, but some will be donated.)

Focusing on the future is my approach to decluttering in general. (And a lot of areas in life).

We get rid of things to make room for the things we want in our lives (whether it’s goals, items, responsibilities, people).

The FOCUS should NEVER be on the clutter – that is the past – past, hopes, objects, and identities.

The focus needs to be on what we are walking toward. (The relationships that we want more time for, the career goals, the ministries, the hobbies…)

I also took the time to apply some of my favorite Julie Morgenstern organizing techniques!

She suggests evaluating a room – then determining what IS working and what is NOT working.

What WAS working:

1. 4 kids’ favorite toys and almost all their clothes in one closet using baskets and shelves.

Working great!!!! :-) Very little clutter there. Easy to maintain and keep up.

2. Top Two Drawers of the Diaper Changing Station – (almost) perfectly organized and contained. Rarely got out of hand- even on our craziest days.

What was NOT working:

I’d noticed that despite the small quarters, 90 % of clutter gathered in ONE spot – right in front of the bed. That told me that the problems were probably right there. Here were the problems.

1. Overstuffed PJ drawer

2. One broken stuffed animal that was spreading

imagestuffing everywhere (Duck tape should do it…right?)

3. And one organizing system that was not working.  (A box with a lid under the bed for my son’s toy swords. He was so responsible with his basket in the closet that we let him have a second toy box in the room. At first he did well putting his toys away, but when we added the lid,  it became too hard to pull the box all the way out and put toys away – [especially since clean-up happens with 4 littles and a mom in the SAME room] so the lid will need to be take off for a while. Then he can just toss his swords in without pulling the box out.)

image image

Here it is! Finished product!

Decluttered – Check!

Problem Solved – Check!

(And the kids don’t know it, but for Christmas, I’m going to add all the castle decorations I’ve been collecting for them. Tune in for that in a couple weeks! :-) )

image

So all set for Christmas!

How is your pre-Christmas decluttering going? (If you don’t have much time, grab a box and spend ten minutes grabbing garbage and donations. It is SO MUCH more fun to declutter with Christmast just 2 days away!)

- Verity

image

Christmas Tree Craft for Toddlers!

​This year, we are blessed to have a 10 month old at Christmastime. In many ways, I have felt like she’s a bit left out of the fun activities and is often told, “Don’t touch!” The other night, she got sick, so I stayed home from church with her. This gave me some time to think of a Christmas activity that maybe SHE could do

​I had seen the general idea of making a felt Christmas tree with felt ornaments for toddlers on Pinterest, but I felt like it was a lot of time and money to invest. Regardless, I opened my fabric drawer and was surprised to discover several squares of felt left from my nesting days of her pregnancy. (For Naomi’s pregnancy I got SUPER creative and crafty!) I only had 1 dark green felt square, but it was fully intact, so I went for it.

​First, I folded my dark green square in half and used a black permanent marker to draw one side of a pine tree, being sure to cover the entire thing and therefore, make it as big as possible. I like that it can be done with just one square to save money and time—and space. I mean really, how many busy moms are going to stop at an EXTRA store just to buy a few yards of green felt?! You can buy the squares at Walmart while tackling the rest of your shopping.

​With my tree completed, I had planned to just cut various shapes out of the other colors to give her ornaments to hang, but then I remembered a container of small Christmas cookie cutters I had purchased on clearance years ago and never used! Perfect! And they really were. There was a variety of shapes and just the right size. We were able to hang 9-10 on the tree with space to spare and they were big enough that she wouldn’t eat them.

 

​I simply traced the ornaments with WASHABLE marker onto the felt. I discovered the hard way that permanent is, well… permanent on the cookie cutters. Oops! The washable just wipes off the cookie cutters and rubs off the felt. Another perfect idea! I guess I was on a roll. J

 

​When everything was done, I simply used Scotch tape and attached the tree to our refrigerator. I’m sure other things might work better, but that has worked surprisingly well—and it’s cheap.

 

​Start to finish, the project probably took about 20 minutes and used all items I had on hand. If you were to buy the felt squares, I’m guessing you could do the whole thing for $1-$2. It’s a great and cheap way to involve your little one in the Christmas season and will also keep her busy while you to accomplish all of your extra holiday tasks!

Christ-Focused Christmas Tradition Series (Part 1)

Happy December everyone!

This is one of the BEST seasons of the year to share our faith with our children!

Not Minimized

Every day this week we will be posting on some Christ-focused Christmas traditions that help us focus on Who matters during the holidays.

Today I’m posting a article that Lydia published last year that is an advent calendar that is easy to make, inexpensive and puts the focus on Christ.

Please check back every day this week for NEW articles!

 

” It is so challenging to keep Christ in Christmas in this day and age. I have 2 toddlers, and I feel like my husband and I are in a constant quest to explain the real meaning of the season and to make CHRISTmas come alive for them. I’m excited to share some of the things we’ve discovered over the course of this month. Today I’m going to share our advent calendar with you. Even though it’s December 2nd, this is an easy one to put together and you really can start it any time in the month.
Picture
For more ideas on an advent calendar like this, check out THIS blog post.

What you need:

·         24 or 25 small inexpensive ornaments

(I used plain gold ones that I bought 10 for $1 at Dollar Tree. These are everywhere at this time of year. So cheap!)

·         Puffy paint

(Any kind/any color)

·         This list…

The List of Names of God:

(You can use any list, but this is the one I compiled. I wanted to do certain ones for the sake of explaining them to my kids each day as we built a foundation for who God is at Christmas time. I’m also careful to do them in a certain order.)

Mighty God
Redeemer
Servant
Creator
Gift of God
The way
Living water
The Life
Counselor
Wonderful
Vine
The truth
Prince of peace
Emmanuel
Word
Counselor
Shepherd
Door
Bread of life
Everlasting father
I am
The light
Lamb
Messiah
Rock

Picture

What to do:Simply use puffy paint to write one name of God on each ornament. I found that setting them in empty egg cartons worked great. That’s also where I store them during the year.

Pile them into a vase for decoration. I use them as the centerpiece for our dining room table. This helps to keep them as a main focus and also helps me remember to do one each day.

We pull one out of the vase daily, I discuss it with my kids, and then we hang it, using an ornament hook, on a garland that hangs on a window behind them. As the vase becomes emptier, and the garland becomes fuller, we are getting closer to Christmas. We also have a visual reminder on the garland of who God is.

There are so many things that I like about this concept, and it does do a lot to draw our focus toward God and the reason for Christmas. It also provides deeper teaching opportunities with my children then simply opening a door with a picture behind it each day. It becomes an event, a teaching opportunity, and a beautiful decoration all in one.

-Lydia

Tomorrow I’ll be posting a NEW article  on a tradition that my husband brought back to America from Germany!

 

image

Our Fun Timeline! (K-4 or K-5)

The kids and I are doing American History this semester!

And one of the fun things we’ve been working on is an easy hand-on timeline.

image

- Print off some pictures of people we’ve been learning about. (The web is filled with free coloring sheets. I just google their names.)

- Color Them

- Cover them with packing tape (to laminate – but way cheaper)

- Cut out the peopleimage

(- The kids get to play with theirs [Reinforcing what we've learned])

-I put to mine on the timeline

That’s it! It’s easy and fun to do each week – and has added a lot to our History!image

image

10 Benefits of Contentment when Finances are Tight

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 

My family and I have walked through what could have been a daunting time the last 8 months. My husband didn’t have a real job, we have 3 kids (1 is a new baby), my husband was finishing school, and we had many other unknowns in our life. To see why and how, read THIS post. As we have gone through this time and are now standing on the cliff of the other side, I have been realizing how much my thinking has changed in many areas. Trials (whether big or small) change us and they are (and should be viewed as) an exciting time as God molds us into who He wants us to be. (Isaiah 64:8  But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.)

image

I grew up the daughter of a pharmacist. I commend my parents in many ways for being careful with money and not spending foolishly, so this experience the last several months has been a first for me. Maybe some of what I’m going to write will sound naïve that I’m just realizing these things, or maybe it will sound foreign to you, but whatever your circumstance, I hope it encourages you to view possessions and circumstances differently. To view them as gifts from God and to view each decision as an opportunity lovingly bestowed upon you from a faithful and good God who is gently teaching you and molding you into who He wants you to be. If you have the opportunity to buy something new—praise Him. If you have the opportunity to go without—praise Him.


A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
Psalm 121:1-8

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

So today, I’m going to share with you some of the ways my thinking has changed over these months with the goal of simply encouraging you.

1.         I am LEARNING to be content with what I have rather than looking for new things to need or buy. Even though there are things I would still like, the fashion game (both in clothing and décor) is endless. At some point, we must choose to be content. I’m not out of it yet, but the concept is very freeing.

 

2.         I view all household projects, craft projects, and cooking activities differently. Rather than seeing the “need” to go and buy something to make the project work, I look first at whether or not I need to do the project at all. If I don’t, I view it as a freeing opportunity to do something else. If I do need to do it, I first look for ways to do it for free. If I don’t have all the ingredients for example, can I substitute? Or can I skip that ingredient altogether? Or is there a similar recipe I could use instead? If it’s a decorating or craft project I try to think of materials to substitute. Can I cut up an old skirt or bed sheet I don’t use any more? Can I use a different tool or decorative piece than the example? What do I have in my own home that could possibly work or be changed in some way to work? To whet your palette for this topic, I recently re-decorated our living room for FREE. A post will be coming soon!

 

3.         I LOVE couponing! However, I’ve started to realize it’s okay if I don’t even look through the Sunday paper for an entire week. It’s okay if some of my coupons get behind on being filed, or if I miss a blog post from some of my favorite couponing sites. Those deals WILL come back. Thankfully, they seem to operate on this wonderful cycle. I am learning to trust that GOD will supply all of our needs even if I don’t MAKE it happen through a particularly amazing coupon deal. Time and time again, over these months, I have missed a deal only to be handed the exact thing we needed at the exact time or for someone to hand us money to cover those needs when we least expected it. God is bigger than couponing.

 

4.         I have learned to look around my home and realize it’s okay if things aren’t perfect. It’s okay if I want something to make it better and I have to wait to have it. Maybe my desire will change or maybe the item I need will change. I can be content with what I have. I still have my desires. I still want to have nice things, but I don’t have to be driven by finding a way to get them. I can rest and know there is no rush. Maybe someday I’ll reach the non-desiring stage! :-)

 

5.         I’m learning to be creative—quite a feat for me!! Not creative in craft projects, (necessarily) but in how I provide the things we need. For example, I have started to keep almost all receipts. Right now, my 2 year old almost always stays dry when she sleeps, so we are going through less than half the diapers I had anticipated. My 3 year old son still goes when he sleeps, but soaks through often too. He must need a bigger size. My 7 month old, simply needs new diapers. I have an abundance of size 4 diapers for our current needs for the week. What can I do to provide for my family?

I bagged up an extra package of size 4 and a package of size 5 diapers, with the receipt, and I’m taking them to CVS to exchange them for size 3 and size 6 of the same brand. This will get us comfortably through another week or so and I am going to spend ZERO dollars!

Just to add to the fun of this: Next week, Walgreens will have their diapers on sale 2/$11 and there is a $1.50 off coupon available with 2 prints per printer. I happen to have an old gift card left from an exchange several weeks ago. That will nearly cover the diaper cost which will get us through another 2 weeks of diapers with less than $2 output total! Bottom line: Over a month of diapers for THREE kids for less than $2. I could have gone to Target and picked up diapers, but instead I get to learn creativity. God is so good!

This general concept has happened multiple times over the last several months. Fun side note: If you forget to use a coupon when you checkout at CVS, you can take it back with your receipt and they will give you cash! J

 

6.         My husband and I have begun to view work as a good and exciting thing. There are no more Moan and Groan Mondays for us! We even look for opportunities to work and we tell others when we can work rather than it being a laborious and disappointing task. Our children have been learning about communism and socialism vs. capitalism this week. It has been exciting to share with them the importance of working for our money. They too have been enjoying the fact that Daddy can work to provide for us.

 

7.         My family and I are becoming increasingly familiar with the free lists of things to do online. Not just in our own city, but in others where we have traveled as well. Because we are intentionally trying to find a free activity to do or free event to attend, we are spending more time together than when we just did whatever and the financial side didn’t matter as much. I think it’s because we are becoming more intentional with everything we do. I challenge you to look up “free things to do in________ (your city).” You WILL be amazed at all the options! And it’s not just like a picnic in your backyard—there are free museums, tours, outdoor movies, swimming pools, kids’ craft projects, concerts, zoos, and even dining locations! It’s amazing!

 

8.         Kids love to get STUFF. Who doesn’t, I guess. I am realizing that I COULD take my kids to Target, browse the aisles and let them each pick out a toy, OR I could take them to a FREE event in my community and let them go to the different “freebie tables” as we call them.  Just in the last several weeks, we attended National Night Out, Battle of the Badges Barbecue, the Fire Department’s Open House, and the State Fair all for free. At EACH of these events my children not only participated in TONS of fun activities, but they also came home with bags of stuff—and I did too. We’re talking: bouncy balls, frisbees, pencils, sunglasses, back packs, multiple food items, stickers, books, dollar store toys of their choice, washable tattoos, stuffed animals, fireman hats, police badges, coloring books, hula hoops, and TONS more. Everything I have listed, was 100% free (and I barely scratched the surface, but I think you get the idea!) :-)

 

9.         I have discovered that I don’t have to purchase expensive materials for my children’s schooling. Pretty much everything they need can be found on Pinterest these days. How did we ever survive before Pinterest??? (like 3 years ago! Ha!) Admittedly, this may not work for everyone, but there is A LOT on there and it has been beneficial for me to check Pinterest before Amazon.

 

10.       I am attempting to be creative when it comes to ways to help others. Do I have to provide food or a tangible gift, or can I provide time or a service? Some people don’t have time to clean or complete a project, but if you do, that may be the biggest blessing of all. If you do provide a meal, there are so many you can make from your pantry without spending much (if any money). I actually have an article coming soon on that topic.

 

I share all of this, not so you’ll look at me or my family’s situation, but to encourage you. To encourage you to be excited about whatever trial God has presented you with and to know that He is lovingly shaping you to be who He wants you to be. To encourage you to praise Him in whatever storm you are in. To encourage you to step outside of a financial box and to find creative ways to do things. To encourage you to praise God for the situation he’s given you!

 

-Lydia