Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What comes in, must go out!

In preparation for our move we've instituted a "what comes in must go out" policy.  Any box that brings things into our house must go out with at least as much in it.  We are liking this policy and will likely keep it up even after our move.

This is a picture of several Amazon boxes that recently came in.  They are all loaded up to go out now.

I especially love bring boxes home from Costco.  They are generally full of consumables, but usually go out filled with non-consumable junk!

This exercise is also helpful in making us think harder about what we are bringing into the home.  Our kids realize that the more stuff we have, the more time we must spend taking care of the stuff.   This is a process.  Over the years we're finding many of them to be more thoughtful about what they are purchasing or asking for.  Even though we've seen growth in this area, we all have lots of room for improvement.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My 31 Party

A Flash 50% off sale was just announced starting on the 16th and ending the 23rd, so we will be ending the party early to take advantage of the sale.  Get your orders in by the 22nd for this party!  Follow the links below to shop, see the specials and place your order....

I'm placing a 31 gifts order and thought it would be fun to host a party on the blog.  You can join the party by going to this site and choosing "Gabe Harder's Thirty-one Party" and then start shopping (don't forget to have it shipped to you, instead of me).  This party will run through the 24th of March.  My friend Suzi is the Consultant for this party.  I'm sure she will be happy to answer any questions you may have; her contact information is on the web site.

I already own the Large Utility Tote.  It was a gift a year ago and gets used regularly.  I love that it is nice and sturdy, big, but does not take up much space when not in use.  The open top makes it easy to get all of our gear in the bag, and find what we need quickly.  This one comes in 25 prints; you're sure to find one that fits your style.
Citrus MedallionCamo

Here it is all packed up for jump rope camp.  5 kids are participating and the other 3 need to be entertained/fed for 2 hours.  I'm considering ordering another one since my hubby recently took up swiping this one. ;)

I saw the Hang-Up Home Organizer a few years ago and loved it, but didn't buy it.  I've been thinking about it ever since.  Why didn't I just buy it then?  I'm looking forward to using it to tame the mess that accumulates on my refrigerator  including various phone lists, coupons, calendars etc.Hang-Up Home Organizer

I've been needing some sort of organizers/trash bins for my van.  Not only does it look like the Pack N' Pull Caddy will do the trick for my van; my husband has requested one for his van as well.  I may purchase a third one for diapers and wipes.
Don't forget to check the monthly specials!  This month 5 of the totes are 50% off; for every $35 you spend you can pick one to purchase at the special price.  I'm planning to get the Easy Breezy Tote to use as a diaper bag this summer; though it looks like it will be great for many other uses.

I'm planning on getting a Pocket-a-tote to add on to this tote.  It will give me a nice zipper pocket to keep small things I don't want the kids having easy access to.

Have a great time, and I'd love to hear what 31 favorites you have, or what you think looks useful.  As we are preparing for our June move I'm in an organizing mood and I'm excited to be getting some great tools to help me.    Have fun Shopping!

*remember that the default shipping is to the hostess, make sure you mark that your purchase needs to be shipped to you.  While I always love getting surprise gifts in the mail; I'm sure you would like to be able to enjoy your wonderful purchases yourself!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't touch the baby's hands!

See these sweet little hands?  I know you just want to touch them and let them get a strong hold on your finger.  Please resist the urge.  

Please know that I love to share my babies.  They bring me such joy, and I love to be able to share that joy.  Often it is a sweet grandma touching my baby's fingers, and I try to think of them as my baby's grandmothers and great-grandmothers.  I imagine that these ladies have a sweet little one that they would love to touch and kiss, but their sweet babies are far away just as mine are from their grandmothers.  Or maybe this person just loves babies like I do.

What you/they may not realize (or remember) is....

-It’s cold and flu season (or not).  You have not washed your hands (and we're all out in a public place touching all sorts of things). Though they may look clean, they carry many germs.  My baby sticks her fingers in her mouth all the time; all of those germs just entered her system through your touch.

-I'm trying so hard to keep my family healthy, though the inevitable happens often enough.   My other (young) children are at home with the sitter so they don't pick up germs at the store and share with the baby.  The baby must come with me though; she needs to nurse too often to stay behind.

-The last cold that came through the house resulted in an ear infection for this sweet baby (requiring a trip to urgent care), a ruptured ear drum for an older brother, and pneumonia for an older sister.  Colds are hard on a young family (though that last one was exceptionally bad).

*The antibiotics, pain relievers, essential oils and nebulizer required to heal and comfort her during this last cold.  The nebulizer was needed for breathing treatments.

-New mamas are usually short on sleep; add in a sick baby, and we're running on fumes.  We cringe when a stranger touches our baby's fingers, no matter how sweet you are.

-Mamas, please teach your children not to touch a baby's hands.  This is just a good standard, and maybe they will remember this courtesy as adults.  If they have a runny nose or are sick remind them to stay away from baby.

Please consider the health and well being of the next baby you see before reaching out to grab that finger.

DO take a moment to comment on how sweet etc the baby is.  You might ask to softly pat baby's head or squeeze their toes (if easily accessible).  It is a bright spot in my day when I can share the joy of my baby.  BUT DON'T TOUCH THE FINGERS!!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

New favorites with baby #8- K'tan and Wubbanub

I'm not too big on baby gadgets and have stayed out of the big baby stores and departments for the most part for years.  I've cut back on the baby gadgets that we keep in the house over the years, but I'm always open to something that really will make my life easier.  I found a couple this go 'round.

The first was the Baby K'tan.  It functions much like the Moby wrap, but without all of the fabric.  I LOVE it, and so does my baby!  I've been searching for the perfect newborn carrier for quite a while.  I've tried pouch slings and ring slings; both worked but I didn't feel that they held the baby as securely  as I would have liked.  The Ergo is GREAT for babies once they get to about 4 months or so and we use it until they are nearly 3 years old, but I've not had success with using it with newborns (though I know that some do).  I was a bit unsure of the K'tan since it is sized, after reading the reviews and talking to a friend about her's I decided to size down since it stretches out.

I love that the K'tan holds my baby close to me; she and I both feel secure in her being held close.  We are both happy, and my hands are free to care for my other children.  I also love that when we are out and about she is so close to me that no one feels they can come over an touch her (as so often has happened to my babies when in strollers).  *Why on earth do people think they should be touching a baby they do not know?  Have they no consideration for personal space, or the germs they are likely passing on to baby?  OK rant over. 

My second new love is the Wubbanub.  When I first saw these things I thought they were silly, then I saw them in action.  They help keep the pacifier in or near the baby's mouth, they are not nearly as easy to lose, and are easier for baby to get in their mouths themselves.  I've seen my 2 month old get it back in her mouth by moving her mouth or pushing it with her fists since it had stayed close to her mouth.  I love that they also come in so many different styles; unisex, girl, and boy styles.  They are all adorable! A couple of down sides to these are that you can't take off/replace the pacifier and they are a bit spendy (generally in the $12-$15 range).  *My husband and I think they are well worth the cost!  I ordered ours from Amazon.

My baby loves her's and our lives have been much quieter since we got our first Wubbanub.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Clothing costs for the year

There seems to be a general misconception that in order to have a large family they must either be wealthy or on welfare.  People think that children are expensive, but they don't have to be.  Last year I tracked our clothing costs for our family of 7 children (the 8th showed up in October).  I didn't include my husband and I, though I will make some notes about our clothing as well.

I don't spend much time at garage sales, thrift stores, retail store sales, e-bay or sewing (though I used to).  I just don't have time for that.  Over the years I've noticed that God really provides for us when a need comes up, and I've been trying to be patient and wait on him, and use the resources available at the time of the need.  The biggest sources of our clothing these days are the swap with our church, a children's resale store (I have trade credits there), and goodwill (oh, and my mom.  She loves to shop for kids' clothes).  The purpose of this post is to encourage those who are desiring a large family, but don't think they can afford it (or already have one and are needing encouragement).  You may not have the same resources available but with some thought and creativity, you too can do it (through God)!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.   Proverbs 3:5-6

You may find some of these posts helpful in understanding how we do clothes and what our expectations/standards are.
Managing Laundry and clothing
Links to some great posts on large family finances, contentment and worldliness

January- $13 at goodwill for two skirts for my oldest daughter.  These were not NEEDED at the time, but modest skirts (with pockets) can be hard to find (used or new) so I picked them up since we didn't have any right now.  She was thrilled!

February- $11 at goodwill for two pairs of shorts for my 10 year old and a pair of cammo pants for him as well; and a pair of shortalls for my little guy.

*This month I also acquired several needed things at the swap; these included PJ's for my little guy, a nightgown for one of my little girls and some shirts for my big guys.  I also used some trade credit at a local children's resale shop for a set of PJ's for my little guy and a maternity dress for myself.  I spent $0 on all of this!

March-  I was down with morning sickness all month and didn't go out much, but I think I may have purchased a pair of shorts at the resale shop for $5; this month is all a fog.

April- This was a big spending month.  Along with a $7 pair of shorts I purchased....

Two pairs of "Sunday" shoes for the little girls. $30

6 pairs of Nike shoes (my brother works for Nike, the employee discount is generously extended to his parents and siblings!) Most of the kids needed shoes at the same time.  Yikes!  $153 (though not bad at all for 6 pairs of high quality brand new shoes).

*We've tried going for bargain brands of shoes, but they wear out before the kids grow out of them.  What kind of bargain is that?  We were impressed with how well the Nike shoes lasted for all three of our boys who are quite hard on their shoes (my girls all grew out of them before they could be worn out too, but that was not such a surprise).  We will see if this round holds up as well.  Updated to add: all of the shoes are still going strong as of January 1st!

May- This month showed a great influx in clothing, however I didn't purchase any of it.  My mom has always been very generous when it comes to clothes for the kids.  She likes kids clothes and enjoys treating the kids to special outfits.  She also happens to live near a Hannah Andersson outlet; $5 dresses or t-shirts there are hard to pass up!  Thanks mom for blessing our family!  God provides for families in many different ways, this is one way he provides for us.  We are very thankful for this blessing, but never expect it of her.

June- $33 on shoes for my 12 yo and a baby outfit (baby outfit was $3)

July- $62 on 5 pairs of shorts for my boys.  I could should have done better by shopping thrift stores in the area, but honestly, I was tired and didn't want to drag the kids in and out of stores that may or may not have what was needed.  Two pairs of the shorts were on sale.

$3.25 on 10 items of baby girl clothing all in GREAT condition and name brand (some were actually needed, some I just got because the sweet 5yo was having such a good time helping me pick out clothes for her new baby sister.  At 25 cents each how could I say "no" to a couple of extras?)  $1 for jeans for my 5yo.

My mom once again sent a box of clothes.  A full set of "Sunday" clothes (dresses for the girls, polo shirts for the boys) all co-ordinating, all Hanna Andersson.  What a fun surprise and blessing!

August-  We went to Goodwill to get jeans for my oldest daughter that were needed for camp (marked $9.99).  While there we found some jeans that were perfect for daughter #2 (marked $4.99, but 50% off).  We also found a sweet dress for the baby (marked $2.99).  It was military Monday which means an extra 20% off!  So our total was about $12!

I also picked up a button down flannel shirt and two piece outfit and headband for baby at a resale shop that I had credits at (free!).

September- No spending this month.

We pulled out our fall clothes this month and found that while we had quite a bit, much was still needed.  Fortunately I had credits at a local resale store and was able to get most of what we needed at no cost.  My mom did pick up some shirts and pants for my boys.

I purchased socks and tights for several kids; I forgot to make note when I made the purchases.  I think it was about $30

I purchased a polo shirt, polo dress (to have embroidered with our family crest) and "iron knee jeans" from Lands End I had a coupon and free shipping so this all cost about $50.

November-  Having just had a baby I wasn't really feeling like getting out and about to search for the last few things we were needing.  I went ahead and started ordering what we needed as I found them online and on sale.

I purchased "Sunday" shirt and pants for one of my older boys through old navy (and one of my girls purchased a Christmas gift for a brother).  They were offering 30% off of all purchases and free shipping for orders over $50.  Our total came to $64, but $14 is not technically part of my cost since it is coming out of a child's Christmas shopping $$$ so....$50

We went a little crazy at the end of the month.  My teen was in need of jeans and a couple of long sleeve shirts.  She saw the black Friday Old Navy add; the whole store was 50% off!  Could we go on Thanksgiving evening?  I took her, my 5 year old, and the baby.  We had a great time and got some good deals, but spent $128.

December- Nothing, everyone had all they needed.  I did purchase a few things for myself though.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Taking time to read- Taking care of mom

This year I want to work on doing more reading.  I spend quite a bit of time reading, but not on my own.  I teach reading lessons to at least two kids a day.  I read books to toddlers and pre-schoolers.  During our circle time I read aloud to the kids (generally some sort of history book), and in the afternoon I read a biography to the kids (we love the YWAM biography books) and we always have a read aloud book (or two) we are going through together as a family.  However, my personal reading stack just keeps getting taller and taller.  My day just does not lend itself to much leasure time.  This year I'd like to chip away at that stack and re-develop the habit of regular personal reading for the fun of it (though some may not think my reading list looks like much "fun").

I'm going to try to read one "extra" book a month.  Here is the list I have so far....

January- "Choose Wisdom" by Skeet Savage

February- "The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Schaeffer
*My grandma passed on her Edith Schaeffer library to me a few years ago.  I've read some, but want to get to the rest.

March- "Loving your Husband" by Cynthia Heald

April- "Ten Things Parents Must Teach Their Children (and learn for themselves)" by Edith Schaeffer

May- "The Magnesium Miracle"  by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.

June- "Choosing Gratitude" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
*I've read this before, but I think it needs repeating.  Regularly.  Often.

July- "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace

August- "Grace Based Parenting" by Dr. Tim Kimmel

September- "Common Sense Christian Living" by Edith Schaeffer

October- "Homeschooling for Eternity" by Skeet Savage

*My older kids have been working through the Lord Of The Rings series.  I've started on the first book and would like to read them all this year.  As the three oldest ones complete the books we will be watching the movies together.  It should be fun!

These books all have less than 30 chapters each (except the LOTR books), so I should be able to read a chapter a day and get through all of them.  This also leaves me some wiggle room for off days or maybe adding in an extra book or two that will likely come up.

You will notice the lack of fiction on my list. We read a fair bit of fiction together as a family (or listen to audio books when on the road); this tends to be old classics and books my husband wants us all to read and discuss.  It just is not a priority for my limited "free" time.  Much of the contemporary fiction out there is junk (yes, even by Christian authors) and not worth my time.  Much of the fiction aimed at women set unrealistic lifestyle, emotional, and romantic ideals that lead to discontent; discontent happens easily enough, I don't need help with that.

What about you?  What is on your reading list?  Do you struggle to find time for personal reading?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Time to clean out the pantry/refrigerator!

I do this every January.  I set this month aside to clean out the pantry and refrigerator.  This has the double benefit of not just cleaning these out; but it helps the budget after the Christmas season.  This year this also needs to be done because we will be moving this spring/summer.  I'd rather get a jump start on this now.

This year it will be extra easy early in the month because I still have a fair bit left in my freezer from when the baby was born.  We will finish that up and then move on to the other stuff in the freezer/pantry for dinners.  It will be the breakfasts and lunches that will get a bit more interesting.  I have just taken a quick look at what I have.  It seems that canned salmon did not go over well with the family, but I'm looking forward to having salmon cakes for some lunches.

I'm also going to see how long I can go without having to head to the store.  I'll update this post later to let you know how I've done.  In the mean time...Are you doing a pantry clean out?  Let me know what you are finding in your freezer/pantry.  What was the, um.... most interesting, thing you found in there?