Saturday, March 23, 2013

Month 3

Month 3 has had great intentions!  But might not be so great when it ends.

When people talk about spiritual gifts, lots of women have the "hospitality" gift.  That gift passed me by!  We never have people over to our house.  I don't even like signing up to cook a meal for someone. It's kind of depressing because a right of passage in "Christian Circles" is signing up for the "meal train".  Heck, I have gone and cleaned someone's house (toilets included) to avoid having to cook a meal for them during their time of need!

But, I was convicted that it isn't really about the house or the food, but the fellowship.  1 Peter 4:9 says "Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."  Ouch.  So I decided to do something about it.  I planned two 'events' for the month of March.

The first event included my small group from my MOPS (Mother's of Preschoolers) group.  We have about 11 people and 5 could attend (sickness kept several from attending.).  I didn't really intend to do a whole lot of cleaning but since homeschooling keeps me from EVER sweeping, I thought I should tidy up!  Trader Joe's is my new favorite place to go for 'party food'-prepared cheesecake and peppermint cookie cake.

This was a relaxed event where we wore our PJ's, drank coffee, and had some great desserts! We just sat and talked and for the 5 of us, it was a great reprieve from all our responsibilities!  It was fun and really was rather low stress.  Of course my 9 yo son did allow his little Hex Bug to crawl into the dining room and caused several women to scream.  All of these women have kids that are 4 and younger so it was pretty funny for them to experience such a 'boy' interruption.

But the next day my son came down with the flu.  And the next day my daughter.  And the next day, I did.  Ugh.  Luckily, no one at the party caught it.  (Thank you God for keeping them all healthy!)  But the "Flu epidemic of 2013" caused us to cancel our second event.  We are still recovering.  And in this week of sickness, I had great hospitality poured on me.  Several people delivered groceries, prayed for the family, and even offered to bring movies or things to keep us busy.

So I've learned that hospitality doesn't have to be an event.  But when you extend yourself to those that you are in relationship with, it reaps many rewards!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The end of month two

So we are at the end of our 'recycling' month.  We won't stop though.  The hardest thing to deal with is the things that can be recycled but can't go into our city recycling can.  These include fluorescent light bulbs, batteries, and plastic grocery bags. The fluorescent light bulbs haven't gone out yet so when they do I'll have to take those to Lowe's.  I put a small plastic container in the laundry room to slip used batteries in.  Then I can take them to Lowe's also.  I also have a large bag of grocery bags in my car that need to go to the grocery store.  I tend to reuse these for different things but they multiple in my sleep.  I have also read that you can recycle toilet paper plastic wrap and such at the same bin as grocery bags.  I do wish that it was all at the same location.  It would make it easier!

Our goal was to reduce our city trash by 50%.  We have accomplished that and more!

Next up: Hospitality!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Going well!

This month's recycling project is going well.  We have already reduced the garbage by half.  We may have to make the big kitchen trash can the recycling can and the little recycling can the trash can.  Cardboard boxes seem to be a big part of our recycling.  So much packaging is such a waste.  The other day I bought my hubby two button-downed shirts.  They were on deep discount and were only $8 each.  There was about $7 worth of packaging in each shirt.  Took me 10 minutes to unwrap them.  I saved the pins for my sewing but there was a ton of stickers, cardboard, and plastic to keep the shirt looking like new.  It was just crazy.

The kids and hubby are doing well with recycling too.  The kids will ask if something goes in the recycling.  I occasionally find something in the trash that should go in recycling but mostly everyone is remembering.  Hubby has said it's a lot easier to dump the recycling than the garbage since the garbage needs a trash bag.  I'll take making it easier for hubby to take the waste out.

I'm now working on turning out the lights.  It's just a bad habit to leave them on.  We all do it.  I'm trying to just be more conscious about what we are using in our house.

Which brings me to our water bill.  I realized that our water bill had been really high the last two months.  So I went on a detective hunt.  The monkey helped with her little magnifying glass.  I turned off every water source in our house.  Toilets, ice maker, and washer.  I checked the water meter.  It was still 'ticking'.  I found a faucet that was slowly dripping outside.  I believe that was the source.  I turned everything back on, checked the numbers on the water meter, and left for a few hours.  When we returned, the numbers where the same.  I'm hoping we found the problem.  I talked to the kids about making sure the faucets were turned off tightly.

We are making a dent in our impact on this gift of the earth that God gave us!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February's project

After finishing up our month of no eating out, I needed something that requires a little less 'stress' for the family.  This month we are focusing on recycling.  We used to recycle.  A lot.  Then the city stopped recycling because of the expense it was costing.  We could take the recycling to a local drop off point, but that didn't happen for us!  For most families, that is probably not a big deal, but I like to throw things away.  I really do!  It's all part of my 'organizational' nature.  We have two big city trash cans.  During a holiday, they are both full.  I do take things to donate when they are nice enough, but I'm just not a pack rat.

A friend said, "Don't worry about it.  God is going to destroy the earth anyway!"  She has a point.  But I've decided if God gave us the gift of the earth, I should at least try to keep it from being completely trashed!  After all, think about all the gas I saved not driving to eat out last month!

This month's project took a little prep.  Our city started a new recycling program.  Homeowner's purchase a recycling can for $25 and then the city provides curbside pick-up on a weekly basis.  Form my figures, by doing this, I am saving the city about $16 a year.  We have our can.  I also cut out some cute recycling vinyl stickers to put on the trash cans in the house to put the recycling in.  It was my daughter's idea.  Where does a 4 year old learn this stuff?  (She said from Caillou.  Her preschool is called PBS.)  We have three recycling waste baskets in the areas where we most need them.  The kitchen one is right beside the big trash can.  Already I'm discovering that we really have more recyclable trash than not.  My goal is that each week we only have half a city can of trash (vs the 1 to 1 1/2 cans we had before).

I also plan to add in a few other 'earth' type things.  I'm still working that out.  But until then, happy recycling!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

January re-cap

Our project in January of "not eating out" was a success.  We did have one fail though.  About three days before the end of the month my husband got stuck at work without any lunch.  He would have just gone without lunch, but he wasn't going to be home until about 7:00 that night.  So we all gave him grace and said he could go grab a quick bite.  I was really the only one that never ate out because the kids and husband were both taken out to eat by other people.  Either way, these are the bullets of what we learned/accomplished:
-Eating out does cost more.  Although our grocery bill went up, it did not go up as much as our eating out budget.
-Spending time at home is so much easier than running out to eat.
-We really use a lot of dishes! (our water bill will be higher I'm sure!)
-We spend less on other things because we aren't 'on the way to get something to eat'.

Some friends asked if I had lost weight by not eating out.  Nope.  Nothing.  Of course I have been working out and I think my body is probably in that "hold on to everything it has" mode right now.  My husband has lost a few pounds.  Don't you just hate that!  ;)

Actually, in closing, I'd like to say how proud I am that my husband stuck with this crazy scheme of mine.  It was great to see him support me in this and use it to grow the family.  This month would not have been nearly as successful without him and his support!  You are my rock star!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Inspired

I don't spend a lot of time on my blog. I write more in my head than I ever get down on the keyboard. But it is really a little gift from God, like manna from heaven, when someone says something nice about it. I had a friend of mine at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) tell me I had inspired her to try not eating out for the month of February. It was wonderful to hear this from her. If someone inspires you, let them know! In fact, this may be one of the projects that we do as a family. I know she can do this! Her kids are much younger than mine so she will be establishing some good habits.

None of us start out to find bad habits though do we? We drift from good habits to bad ones. Hebrews 2:1 says "So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it." (thank you Lisa Harper for writing Holding Out for a Hero: A New Spin on Hebrews).  Now, eating out is not a sin.  It's not bad.  But for my family, it had become a bad habit.  Many of the 'projects' we are doing this year are a result of drifting into bad habits.  And each of these projects is not about what we 'do' or what we 'don't do'.  It's about the intentionality of our lives.  It's about what I am letting God teach me and my family while we add or take away something from our lives.  

Be intentional.  Don't drift!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Not prepared!

We had our first day of not really being prepared!  I let the kids pack the snacks for our field trip to the local history museum class.  That was my first mistake.  They didn't pack a whole lot of things.  My second mistake was letting the kids have the snack bag in the back of the car.  They ate it all before we got there.  Well, they did leave some raisins and fruit gummies.  That would have been fine but this history class was hot and stuffy and boring!  I got a headache and then felt my blood sugar dropping.  When we got in the car I gorged on raisins and fruit snacks.  Next time I will check the contents of the snack bag before we get in the car and I will be keeping it in the front seat!

We are definitely running out of food by Sunday night.  I have to make sure I hid some things from the kids so we can 'pace' our consumption.  They aren't happy with me tonight because they are going to a movie night at church.  It's free to go to, but they sell pizza and snacks there.  We went to the grocery store though and got some goodies!  They will survive without cold pizza and hot soda.  ;)

The biggest win in this situation has been my husband's reaction.  He told me today that when the month is over he doesn't want to go back to the way we did things before.  We decided that when we do go out to eat it will be more intentional.  We will go out once a week, or maybe less.  We can take turns choosing where we go.  We will try new places and have new experiences.  As a family.  Not as individuals running through a drive-thru on the way to something else!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Half Way

Well, we are about half way through our 'experiment' on not eating out.  It's been interesting and surprising.  It has been easier in some ways.  Of course we aren't spending money on eating out but we are definitely spending more at the grocery store.  The major thing is that we don't go anywhere.  Well, not exactly true.  But we were spending A LOT of time in the car running to get something to eat.  My son even commented that he had more time to play.  Truth be told, I was using that as an escape.  When things became difficult, I would just put everyone in the car and drive to Sonic.  1/2 hour gone.  Being at home all day with both kids can be trying sometimes.  Now, I'm learning to deal with the conflict instead of running from it!

I've also had to help my daughter learn that she CAN eat something at home.  Previously, she would say she wasn't hungry and then we would get in the car and 10 minutes later she was starving!  She's learning to eat at home or at least take a snack with her.

There are times however when we will be gone from home for 3-4 hours at a time.  I've had to plan for this.  It's not bad though.  I figure that spending 10 minute packing some snacks and drinks is STILL so much easier than having to walk miles for clean water.  I'll take the planning.

The best part is that my "Panera Bread" potato soup has passed the test for my son!  He said it is as good as the restaurant's.  It's his new favorite meal!  I've experimented some in the kitchen.  Started meal planning a little more.  I've still got to figure out the snack thing.  I've also got to drink more water.  Even though I was drinking soda, it had a lot of ice that was melting into water that I was drinking.

Finally, I'm more grateful for the food we have.  I think my children are too.  THAT alone has been worth the journey!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My #1 tip

I love to organize.  I organize things when I'm stressed.  It's a gift.  And a curse.  I've helped people reorganize their homes and I really enjoy it.  This time of year, I know many of you are looking at organizing your house.  It's a great time to do it!  It's cold and dark so you are probably stuck inside.

The BEST way to organize is to get rid of stuff.  You DO NOT want to spend time organizing things that you don't need.  So HOW do you get rid of stuff without spending hours doing it?  Get a box or laundry basket.  Find a place in your house to put it.  This is your 'Goodwill' basket (or whatever charity you like to donate to).  Every time you run across something that needs to exit the house, put it in the basket.  To step it up a notch, spend a few minutes every day getting rid of 7 things.  Put them in the basket.  When the basket is full, put it in your car for the next time you pass by the charity of choice.  Without much work, you are lightening your load!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Four days in

Four days in and we have had a revolt.  I did NOT expect this.  This morning the turtle had a meltdown over breakfast.  He didn't want anything we had.  He looked at me and said "Can't we just go to McDonald's!??!"  There were tears.  There was yelling.  There were threats of going back to bed for the day.  So, I took a breath and decided that we needed to pray through this one.  We prayed to be grateful for the food that we have.  Then he got up and decided that Honey Nut Cheerios weren't the worst thing in the whole world.  Crisis averted.  Until the afternoon.

On the way back from an errand this afternoon, the monkey said "Can we get Chick-fil-A?"
"No, honey, we are going home."
"But I'm HUNGRY!"
"It's ok, we are going to be home in 5 minutes."
"But I'm STARVING!"
"No, you aren't." *sigh*

My kids are pretty strong willed.  Lucky for them, I'm stronger.  So we drove home.  See, this is why we needed to do this?  We think that food should just always be instantly available.  My kids have come to think of this as normal.  They think everything is fast, immediately available, and endless.  I think they were going through a little withdrawal.   Lucky for us, we had a cub scout event that had free pizza tonight!  Yippee for us!  After all, I'm not giving up junk food-just the ever present supply of it.

Next week will probably not be any easier.  We have a LOT on the schedule.  I've got to plan a good bit since there are days where we are out of the house for HOURS!

I am learning to feel blessed when I walk to the pantry and have food to fix.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day one-we made it.  Although this morning my sweet husband started to go out to grab me 44 oz of deliciousness.  Then he remembered he wasn't supposed to.  Haha!  We did have a huge Christmas/New Year's dinner at our house with my side of the family so it didn't really enter my mind.  But we start school tomorrow.  It can be difficult to stay home with the kids ALL DAY with no where to go.  Hmmm, library field trip?

But seriously, there are some things that I hope to get out of this 'experiment'.
-I hope to appreciate that we have food in our house.  I want to constantly remember that it is a blessing to have clean water and a working kitchen to cook in.  I read an article from CNN that stated the average woman in a third world country walks 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) a day to collect water.  Yes, I am blessed.

-I'm not sure if we will save money or not.  In theory, eating at home should be cheaper.  But of course, I have to buy more groceries.

-I'd like to see my jeans get looser but I won't hold my breath!