Can I get a little help please?!?

Mom's probably have the hardest job out there in the world.  First we are privileged to be able to grow a human being for 9 months.  Those may or may not be easy.  Then comes 18 years of love, training them to grow into Godly men and women, correcting them, praying endlessly, kissing booboo's, hugs, tears and that's just the kids.  Take into running a household.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry, finances and if you homeschool, well where does the time go?!?

It isn't easy to do it all.  I am a firm believer that your children should be helping you as soon as they are able to do so.  It teaches them responsibility, accountability and to earn their keep.  It also teaches a hard work ethic which is important today and something that is often forgotten.  Today it seems more and more that children think they are entitled to things, to an easy life, to have things handed to them.

As a member of the Gabby Mom's, I am fortunate to be able to be inspired by a woman who truly cares for other women.  Lorrie recently wrote an eBook called Helping Hands at Home.  You can get it for your Kindle at  As a busy mom I don't have a lot of time to devote to reading, but this was just short enough that I could squeeze it in 2-3 nights.

I loved how she gave advice on how to get your children to help clean the kitchen and bathrooms.  And believe me, with 3 boys in this house, I pretty much want them clean up their mess in the bathroom and the kitchen when they help cook.  She offers advice on how to keep you motivated.  A little each time goes a long way!  5-10 minutes every day in one room can add up over a week.  She also give you a little guideline on how to train your children.  5 steps.  So very simple. 

But don't get me wrong.  It does take time and effort on your part, but if you are consistent you can and will succeed and give your children a strong foundation.  A strong foundation is vital in all aspects of life.  It doesn't matter if it's in cleaning the bathroom, that will stick with them through life.

Something else that I loved about this book is the household cleaning recipes she includes that save my family $$!  Laundry detergent & window cleaner are a couple of the recipes!  I love saving money for my family by making this things at home.  I used to spend $20 a month just on laundry detergent!  Now I spend about $5 every 3 months.  Works out so well for us.  I have used both the liquid and powder detergent.  Both have worked well.  :)  This part alone is worth the price of the book!  By the way, did I tell you the book was $.99cents for the Kindle?  What a STEAL!

So if you are looking for a place to start your kids in helping you keep the main area's of your house clean or even just a place for you to begin and you also want to save money while taking care of your house, then Helping Hands at Home is a GREAT place to begin!

If you want to see more products of Lorrie's head over to Eternal Encouragement.  She has an online magazine and so many books, ebooks and mp3's. 

 ** I was given this product in exchange for my honest review of the product and was not compensated in any other way.

New Things

Anyone stalk the mail person or UPS/Fedex guy?  Well I don't really stalk, but I definitely watch the mail when I am expecting things!  It's like Christmas to me!  :)  So this year we are embarking on a new journey.  Reviewing homeschool curriculum!  I have already received several products and I can't wait to share our journey through them.  Some I have heard of before and some are new. 

My kids look at me like a crazy person when the new curriculum arrives!  I will admit to doing a happy dance!  ;)  So far we are enjoying the new things we get to try for our schooling.  It is so good to have an opportunity to be able to try out curriculum and be able to share our thoughts with homeschooling families. 

Twenty years ago when my parents were homeschooling my sister and I these options just weren't there.  I think there were maybe 3-5 curriculums.  Now you have so many that it seems you can get lost in the choices.

Hopefully buy utilizing the curriculum and sharing our thoughts on it we can help someone out.  At the bottom of each review will be a link where you can see the other reviews.  Not everyone will have the same opinion or thoughts and that's ok.  Each child is different!  THAT'S OK!!  Your child may not like textbooks.  But another child might.  Each child has their own learning style.  It took me almost 4 years of homeschooling to figure out what my oldest sons style was.  Now I am learning our 2nd sons learning style. 

You have to be flexible.  Again, that has taken me a while to learn and I still have to practice being flexible with my children.  They will learn at their own pace and also their own style. 

I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to participate in a program that allows me to try new curriculums and share with others!  :)

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my 3 year-old son Josef Micah Gerald! 

3 years ago, my world changed.  We knew we were having a boy and the doctors didn't want me to have another 11lbs wonder.  (that is #2's story which will come in May)  So much to my chagrin I let them do the membrane sweep...they did this 2x about 10 days before my EDD.  (he would have shared a birthday with his pap had he been born on the 24th which was his due date)  Well labor kicked in on a Thursday morning and we went to the hospital. 

Once there, they checked and I was a whopping 4cm already!  Woohoo!  Things were looking good.  It was about 9am when we got there.They hooked me up to monitors, we waited for our doula and my doctor.  My wonderful doula arrived and we were transferred to L&D.  Contractions were about 5 minutes apart.  We sat and waited...and waited...and waited.  All the while, my contractions went from 5 to 10 to 20 minutes apart.  Labor was slowing down!!!  AHHH!!!  About 1pm the doctor/ob arrived.  I sat up in my bed and told him that if I couldn't move from this bed that this kid wasn't going to come out.  I told him I was getting out of bed and walking.  He said you can't leave the room.  FINE!  It was a big room anyways.  He said they would give me 2 hours and then break my water... oh joy... He also said I would have intermittent monitoring...FINE!  As long as I can get out of this BED!  I was not having any surgery to get him out!  NOPE!

Well, I got out of bed and things kicked in again.  I remember looking out the window of the hospital.  It was very cold looking and that is typical for PA winters.  The fog on the windows, the steam off the top of the houses, each and every contraction.  My baby was getting close to being born!  Finally I had to sit down.  It had been nearly 2 hours.  The nurses were coming in every 30-45 minutes to monitor the baby and everything was going well. 

Well this was turning into my longest labor.  I was tired.  My body had been laboring all night long and I was getting to a point where I needed some rest.  I asked the doctor for something to take the "edge" off the contractions.  Well whatever they gave me knocked me out!  I remember dozing between contractions.  But that is about it.  My husband said he knew when I was having a contraction because my face scrunched up.  Nice...

Finally, I felt the urge!  that urge to push!  The doula ran to get my nurse.   My doula really was a lifesaver.  We got to talk quite a bit during the early part of my labor and she was SOOO supportive during everything.  She was even pregnant too!  Anyway, (there goes my ADD again) the doctor comes in and tells me to not push...I don't know about you, but that's like telling a freight train going 100mph to stop on a dime...good luck!  I told them it wasn't me!  Then comes in this intern.  No lie, I think I laughed as he walked in.  He had on a full body cover, a shield for his face, these long gloves and looked like someone either preparing for space or a member of the HASMAT team.  Yeah, that was the highlight of my L&D. 

Well Josef has decided he has had enough waiting!  He is starting to arrive and the doctor isn't even in place yet.  Darren and I both look at each other with the expression of "are you prepared to catch this baby if the doctor isn't in place?"  It was that close.  I swear it was almost a football fumble as the doctor barely arrived to catch Josef as he came out!  Oh my goodness that was quick!  Well, he was beautiful! Such a sweetie too.  I couldn't believe I had made it through 9 hours of labor (#1 was 5, #2 was 7hours)  I had a beautiful baby boy. 

Well 3 years later and he can keep up with his 5yo brother.  They are my "active" boys.  Always jumping, climbing, getting into something.  They both keep me on my toes.  To say that there is never a dull moment in this house is an understatement!  But I wouldn't change it for the world.  I love my children.  They bring so much happiness to my life.  While it may be crazy sometimes, it is what God has blessed me with.  I wouldn't have it any other way. 

So, Josef Micah Gerald, Happy Birthday baby boy!  Mommy (and daddy and your siblings) love you very much!  You bring so much life to our family.  You are growing so fast.  I hope to take the time to enjoy you more as you grow.  May God give us the strength and knowledge in how to raise you into the young man He wants you to be.  You are a blessing!

Josef - 3wks
Josef - Sept '12

Finance 101 - Our story and the dreaded "Budget"

The dreaded "B" word!  BUDGET!!  Honestly, when I was living at home making some seriously good money for an 18yo, I didn't budget.  I sure as heck wish I did now!  I could have SAVED so much!  Probably could have had enough for a good 30% down payment on a house!  So why didn't I do that?  I was focused on what was the now!  I was focused on me!  Now that's not to say that I didn't do things for others or charity, but the bulk of my money went toward my wants.

When I got married, we still didn't have a budget.  I don't think I balanced a checkbook the entire year.  But we somehow lived within our means.  Now I'm not saying that it works to live life that way.  And we found that out after our 1st son was born and I had a spending issue that got worse.  I used it as a way out.  I was at home with a baby, hubby had the only car.  My family didn't live here and I was new and didn't have many friends.  I used the internet and shopping to fill a void.  This was the biggest of the bad choices.  It led to an amount of debt that we were struggling with.  We hadn't heard of Dave Ramsey at that point and so we didn't have even the most basic of  financial plans ready.  The most basic thing is to have a budget.  We found this out when we went to a lawyer for bankruptcy.  At the time we felt it was the best way out of our problem.  It was something we really struggled with though.  We knew what the Bible said about borrowing and not paying back debts, but at the time we didn't see a way out.

Bankruptcy was the most humiliating thing to have to go through.  To have to get a lawyer, admit I was stupid with my money, then have to sit in a room with your lawyer in front of a man who asks you about 20 questions and feel really guilty about the fact that we borrowed more than we could repay.  We agonized over the choice to file or not to file.  We agonized at the end.  At the time we thought we were ruining ourselves.

It was after we went through bankruptcy that we wound up hearing about Dave Ramsey & Financial Peace University.  It was being offered at our church.  We started going.  It was really good stuff!  We made it through about half the class before we discovered we were expecting our 2nd child and I was so sick I couldn't go anywhere but work and home.  Needless to say, we didn't finish.  But we did get a wealth of information.

But that didn't prevent us from having some issues again.  We were trying to do the "Baby Steps" out of order.  That is not advisable.  There is a reason the "Baby Steps" are in that order.  So we made up a budget.  But honestly, writing it on paper is not our forte.  If you have ever been through FPU then you know there are 2 kinds of people.  The Free Spirit and the Nerd!  :)  Now my husband and I are both nerds.  But I am also the free spirit.  (hence all the retail therapy)  As nerds, we utilize spreadsheets.  Microsoft Excel is our friend.

Our spreadsheet started out so simple.  I would change it every month.  Now, it holds a year's worth of data.  It has 3 tabs.  1 shows the whole kit and caboodle.  Every expense that is going out is on this tab.  It has the formula's so all I have to do is adjust my expenses costs on that page and when I do, my new total of what's left of my husbands paycheck for that pay period.  The 2nd tab is where I estimate how much my husband's paycheck is going to be.  I put in his hours (80 cause he gets paid weekly) and any overtime.  It also takes out deductions (healthcare, taxes, etc.).  The taxes are kind of an estimate so the paycheck varies anywhere from +/- $5-$10.  It's not perfect but it works for us.  Tab 3 lists our debts.  Smallest to largest.  This is the order in which we are working on paying them off.  We plan on being debt free by fall of 2014. 

We have a plan and goals.  It's not going to be easy, but worth it!

Money Matters

So how do you live on one income and raise a family?  Well it isn't easy I will tell you that.  I will also tell you that our financial journey is still a work in progress. 

I started working at a young age.  Didn't really think to save money unless it was something I REALLY wanted.  I only had a car payment when I was living at home.  Nothing else.  It may seem spoiled, but I worked hard for every penny I earned and at the time I felt like I had the right to spend it.  Boy do I wish I hadn't done that!  What could I have now if I had saved as much as possible?  I probably could have had half a house saved before I got married. 

But didn't you go through a financial course because you were homeschooled?  Yes, I went through one.  But did I learn from it, no.  I really wish I had.  I wouldn't blame the course either.  It was just that I didn't think I needed to apply it.  My big mistake.

Over the past 10 years, I have made some pretty big snafu's in the financial realm.  They lead to a bankruptcy that probably could have been prevented.  So you would think that I have it all under my belt.  Nope.  I still need help and guidance. 

Our church has hosted Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU) several times over the past few years.  We had attempted it before but scheduling didn't work out.  So we asked if we could lead a group at our church.  This would force us to finish the course!  :)  Great idea! 

We led a Wednesday night and Saturday Morning group.  It was great!  We got the information twice.  Dave makes it so informative and fun to watch.  He has been where we all are and made the same mistakes.  He lost it all and has worked to get to where he is now. 

So now it's 2013 and my husband and I want to go through FPU again to refresh ourselves and also help others.  FPU has changed from a 13-week course to a 9-week course.  It covers making a budget, investing, paying off debt, setting up college funds (if you need them) and so much more.  We will be leading the 9-week course in February of this year.  It's going to be great to see the new/updated course.  You can find locations all over the USA.  Click here to find one near you!

Now the course does have a cost.  $99 is the the course price.  But what it will save you is well worth the investment of $99.  You get everything in the picture above plus you can take the course however many times you want after that!  Pretty sweet deal.  :)

We still have a lot of work to do and are pretty much starting over again with the baby steps.  The first is our emergency fund.  Get $1000 in the bank for emergencies.  That's the biggie.  Then we work on paying off our debt.  We hope to be debt free in about 2 years or less.  I will be sharing more about our journey, tips, budget forms, etc on the blog over the next few months.  :) 

Something I do want to share with you before I end this post.  On Dave Ramsey's website is a download about budgeting.  It's FREE!  Take the time to download it and read it and apply it.  It is well worth it.  :)

** I was not given any financial compensation for writing this.  It is my family's opinion and experience. 

New Adventures for a New Year

Well, 2012 has come and gone and let me say that it went quite differently than we thought it would.  The first half was pretty normal.  I was pregnant and due to give birth in May.  We completed our school about 2 weeks before Cordelia Abigail was born.  Then we took off till July.

We started back again and then an unexpected health crisis hit me.  I wound up being in the hospital for 6 days and had a minor/major surgery.   Add to that recovery time and taking care of 4 kids (1 who is nursing).

School has been covering basic subjects.  November was illness time, then break for Thanksgiving.  Then some more school and now we are breaking for Christmas & New Years.

2013 is a year of new things for us.  I have a goal to run a 5k in the late summer.  Run For Your Lives is my goal!  8/3/13.  :)  Can't wait.  I am not even waiting to start training.

We are also a part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew!  I am SO excited!  We get to try new curriculum and share our experiences with it for other homeschooling families to be able to read!  We have been homeschooling for 6 years now and have tried many different things.  This is going to be an awesome thing for our family!  :)

So a lot to look forward to this year.  May the upcoming year be a good one for you too.