Cutting back

My heart has been sick within me lately.  We have lived in Australia for nearly 4 years, and I have only been back to the States one time since then.  Now that Cody is here, visiting family is a major priority.  The problem is, traveling back is incredibly expensive.  Between plane tickets, hotels, food, and rental cars, we are looking at upwards of $10,000 per trip.  Sheesh.  And so, my heart has been sick within me…

Thank God I have the understanding husband I do.  Together we have come up with a plan to cut back on a few things and slowly save so that we can go back every two years.  This will mean less luxury from day to day so that our trips back will be possible and a bit more enjoyable.  Here’s our plan:

  • Downsize.  Sell furniture and miscellaneous things we can live with out and move into a smaller (i.e. cheaper) place.
  • Sell the piano and get a nice weighted keyboard.  This will cut down on tuning expenses ($150 per tune) and moving expenses ($300-$500 just across town and more depending on the number of steps you have).
  • Shop for groceries online.  iherb.com and groceryrun.com.au have some great deals.  Coupons are not yet a thing in Australia (although I have hope that they will be one day), so I have to cut corners in smaller ways.
  • Tithe.  Believe it or not, I believe tithing will set our priorities straight and that God will bless our efforts through it.
  • Eat out less.  Eating out in Australia costs around $20 per person no matter where you go (even Mcdonalds).  We probably eat out once a week, sometimes more.  We’re going to try to cut back on this quite a bit.  This will take a bit more preparation on my part (which will be good for me), because often our eat out nights are when I remembered we had to eat dinner last minute only to realise we had nothing in the house to prepare.
  • Cut back on frivolous spending.

There are still many obstacles standing in our way for a trip this year, but I am still praying that God will work these out and make this trip possible.  

Do you have any tips on how to cut back or live frugally?  I would love to hear them!  Leave a comment below.  🙂

 

Advertisements

Favorite things Friday

Ever since last week when I watched the video about having a creative career, I have thought about the possibilities and started researching a bit.  Well, Shari over at Spearmint Baby did several posts on Blogging 101, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through them and learned a lot that I hope to implement into laughingpromises in the coming weeks/months.

I know I haven’t written much about healthy living in awhile, but it truly is one of my favorite topics.  I am constantly researching and experimenting with different healthy recipes and ways of living.  So, when I stumbled across this article about coconut oil aiding in a cleanse for cancer, I was intrigued.  I’m not sure exactly how credible this source is, but I found it an interesting read, regardless.

k-bigpic

Image from jezebel.com

And speaking of healthy living, if you’re still battling the baby weight like me, consider purchasing a fatkini.  I think they are super cute and am considering buying one for myself (although it is winter here in Australia).  I think the world needs more cute plus size clothes as well as a whole line of cute clothing for post partum bodies.  Who’s with me?  And don’t they look like they’re having the best time?

I have thought often about how little boys are so different from little girls.  They are messier, more adventurous, and more prone to give their mamas heart attacks.  I’m afraid of how I will deal with this at times when Cody is older and needs someone to affirm him rather than put him down.  I think this includes how we talk to others about our kids.  My friend posted this post by Sierra at his eye is on the sparrow, and it gave me some comfort to know that I don’t have to apologise for letting my little boy be a little boy, even at this age.

Little boys like to openly share their farts, but society doesn’t often realise that girls have gas, too.  And, oh man, do we ever.  That’s why I had to laugh at this hysterical post by didoodlesaboutstuff: It was your rack that saved you.  Please, ladies…go have a read.  And make sure you’re some distance from your sleeping child when you do, because you will have to suppress your laughter.

I found this video on pinterest this week and instantly fell in love.  Not only do I LOVE the Big Bang Theory, but this girl is who she is and isn’t ashamed.  I love that.  She’s a unique blend of scientist and an actress.  It’s had me thinking what my unique blend is this week.  Definitely worth a watch.

Hair-Romance-curved-braided-updo-hairstyle-tutorial

Photo from Hair Romance

One part of my “unique blend” is my love for hairstyles, particularly braided ones.  I’ve shared many ideas from Hair Romance before, but she just posted a new tutorial this week based off of Nichole Kidman’s recent style for Cannes.  It’s a curved lace braid, and I can hardly wait for my hair to be long enough to try it (darn you, mom hair cut).

Anyway, that’s all she wrote.  I am uber tired due to Cody teething, so I am going to bed.  I hope you all have a restful weekend.

Have you started following my twitter yet?  Tweet me at @laughingpromise.  Also, follow me on Pinterest!

Sweet moments in mothering

I have had many moments already in my time as a mother when I took a mental snapshot and knew I could never forget.  

Cody loves to look me in the eyes sometimes when I’m rocking him.  He settles right down and just looks at me, and my heart overflows with love.  A few times, he has fallen asleep this way.  Sweet.

One of my favorite new things that Cody has started doing is touching my face, particularly when he has just woken up.  I often put him up on our bed for his naps and keep a keen ear out for him or stay and do my devos while he sleeps.  I just love it when he first wakes up.  I’ll say a little “hello” and he’ll give me a smile and reach out for my face.  Sweet.

Early this morning, Cody became really fussy.  I kept trying to feed him, but he would suckle and then fall asleep.  I would promptly put him down, he would settle, and I would go back to sleep only to be awakened by more fussing shortly after.  A few times this happened, so I tried putting him up into bed with me.  When he still fussed a few minutes later, I picked him up and placed him on my shoulder.  He immediately fell asleep, and it felt good knowing that my arms are his comfort.  Sweet.

What are some of your favorite sweet moments?

Choosing a name

When we first found out I was pregnant, we discussed one of the seemingly monumental decisions: Whether or not to find out the gender before the birth.  We decided, yes, we would like to find out, because we felt the responsibility of choosing a name and wanted to narrow it down.  I really didn’t care which gender we ended up with, but I knew if we ended up with a boy that the name would be a challenge.

And it was.

For months, I made lists and paid attention to every. single. name. I came across.  I looked on movie credits, my facebook friends list, the Bible, authors, etc.  And, for months, I would mention my listed names to my husband and realise this decision would be even harder than we thought. We either didn’t agree on the name or, because we’re both teachers, we would think of some snot nosed kid who had that name that we didn’t want to think of every time we looked at our snot nosed kid (snot happens).

Here are some of the names I thought about that Daniel said were “okay”

  1. Grayson
  2. Owen
  3. Joel
  4. Judah

There were many more, but these were some that I came back to a few times.  Here are a few of the names my husband liked that I thought were “okay”

  1. Charles (and we would call him “Chuck)
  2. Jehoiakim
  3. Mephibosheth
  4. Joash

Okay, so most of his were a joke, which only added to my frustration.  On and on we looked and discussed.  We wanted a name that had a good meaning that we both liked and that suited our little boy.

We finally found his name in my elementary school yearbook.

Cody (helper) James (named after his grandpa)

When Cody was born and we saw him, we both knew that would be his name.  It’s funny, we didn’t talk about it for several hours after the birth (because with all my recovery, we didn’t get the chance), but when we did, it was a very quick decision.  (May I also add that the name was the one thing we kept a secret until he was born, partially because it was undecided and partially because we didn’t want anyone giving their two cents about whether or not they liked the name since it was our decision.  I am so glad we kept it between us, and I don’t know that we’ll ever tell anyone for subsequent kids, either).

So don’t give up, pregnant women of the world.  You will find that perfect name and be so in love with your little one that you don’t even miss any of the others.

Reflections: Free to dance

I love reading the post from yesterday because it reminds me of a time when I finally realised that I am a strong woman and I don’t have to let people push me around (even family).  So many times I’ve heard people talk about how “when you have no one else, there’s always family,” and “blood is thicker than water.”  I really hate these sayings, because my experience does not reflect this way of thinking.  I won’t get into the hairy details here, but I couldn’t depend on family the way my friends could.  (Things are better now with most of my family, so that part of my heart is slowly healing).  

I want something different for Cody.  I don’t want him to ever have to feel the fear that I felt or think about setting boundaries with one of his parents.  I want him to love who he is and the unique young man that God has made him.  And I believe he will have these things.  And I will fight like hell to make sure he does.

What was your experience with family?  Leave a comment below if you feel so inclined.  🙂

On a completely unrelated note, have you started following me on Twitter (link below)?  What about my pinterest boards?  

Also, I’m thinking these posts will not be weekly like I said yesterday, but perhaps a sporadic feature.  Stay tuned for more.

Flashback: Free to Dance

Flashback posts are journal entries that I wrote in the past 4 years since moving to Australia.  I will post once a week and do a follow up reflection post the next day.  I hope you enjoy.  Also, don’t forget to follow me on twitter and pinterest.

June 30, 2011

I’m feeling the urge to write again, which is a wonderful event that I’ve been waiting on in the past couple of months.

Facebook had me turned off to the internet for awhile…someone took something I did way out of line and voila–facebook is stupid and tainted and I don’t want them reading about what I’m up to on my blog, etc. So, I’ve been hiding.

Sometimes hiding is a good thing.  We need to keep our distance and set up healthy boundaries with people in our lives that abuse us.  Throughout this whole process, I’ve prayed about what to do and how to handle this with dignity and grace.  God lead me to read through 1 and 2 Samuel, and when I did, He kept showing me something: When Saul attacked David, David ran.  He didn’t sit around and wonder what Saul was going to do next or blame himself for the attack.  He ran.  He hid.  He protected himself.

I’m not saying that every time someone hurts you, this should be the reaction.  I am saying, however, that in situations of abuse, the best thing to do is run.  Abusive situations, even emotional abuse, are evil.  They are not for your good, and God does not expect us to sit around wondering what the abuser is going to say or do next.  So, I ran.  And I hid. 

I won’t be hiding on the internet anymore.  I come with a new confidence in the fact that I am a grown woman standing on my own two feet with a husband who loves me and my own family unit now.  I come with the confidence in knowing that it is my job to protect my family unit, and I come knowing that just because someone says that something is my fault or that I did something wrong doesn’t mean that I did.  I come knowing that I have the right to set boundaries and expect those boundaries to be respected.

I’m in self-discovery mode.  This experience has made me realise a few things about the people in my life and what they were to me growing up.  I have started re-reading my journals again with this new perspective.  I see what I was like as a child and what the people around me were telling me about who I was.  I grew up feeling ashamed of who I was, what I liked, what I wanted to do and be and accomplish.  I grew up blaming myself if someone hurt me.  I grew up feeling ugly, weird, ashamed.  My whole life, I have let people treat me that way. 

All I have left to say is, praise God for being my Father throughout my life and showing me that they were wrong.  I have nothing to be ashamed of.  It’s okay for me to like the color pink.  It’s okay for me to wear my hair in pigtails, no matter what age I am.  I don’t have to brush my hair 100’s of times before I go to bed just to make it look good.  I can enjoy eating healthy and singing in the shower and cross stitching.  I am allowed, and I’m not stupid for enjoying these things. 

You’re Free to Dance
Forget about your two left feet
Free to sing
Even joyful noise is music to Me
Free to love
For I’ve give you My love and it’s made you free.
I have set you free.

Feedback

I’m working on designing a header for the blog as well as a few other changes and would love your input.  What kind of theme would be appropriate for the header of this blog?  I have a little bit of an idea but am not too confident and would love your feedback.  Also, any other feedback on improvements I can make would be excellent.  Thanks in advance!

Living in a farm town

Image

Photo by southern_skies on flickr

Growing up, I thought because I liked riding horses and fresh country air that I was a farm girl.  The older I got, the less I rode horses and the more I realised how much I like pedicures and convenient locations.  The deal was sealed when I met my husband in Knoxville, Tennessee and we both fell in love with each other and that city.

And then God moved us to a farm town in Australia.

I think my first realisation that I’m a full fledged city girl came in our first year here when I heard a rustling sound by our front door.  I walked over and didn’t see anything except a plastic shopping bag with some random groceries in it.  I looked around it and in it and didn’t see a thing.  A few minutes later, I heard the sound again.  This time when I went over, I picked the bag up, and suddenly this THING jumped off the bag and ran across our kitchen floor with such speed I almost wondered if I was imagining it.  But the scream I had already let out told me I should probably investigate further…or just call on Daniel to do so.  He looked and didn’t see anything, so we closed the door to the laundry room where the creature had gone and went about our business (of course, for me, this was pretending to do something else while I watched that door like a hawk).  Suddenly, BANG!  I cried out for Daniel once again, and we went to look together at what had made the sound…and found a dead mouse. (Why, yes, it did run into the door and kill itself).

In that same apartment, a few months later, a snake crawled in a VERY small opening in our window (where the seal was supposed to meet…this was an old, semi-neglected place).  Luckily, it was a baby python and nothing poisonous, but I still screamed.

Then, a few months ago (I can’t remember if I wrote about this or not), I thought I was seeing things once again when I pulled up to our car port and saw a tail disappear into the bag of guinea pig food.  I did not investigate this time.  A day or two later, I scooped up some food into the bowl for our pigs, and out came a mouse!  It bounced off my very pregnant belly, fell onto the ground, and made a run for it.  I screamed and later thanked the good Lord that it didn’t bite me or crawl on me at all.  Bleck.

This post was inspired by the wild dog or dingo I can hear howling outside in the wilderness somewhere near our house.

P.S. Welcome to all my new followers!

P.S.S. You’ll notice toward the bottom of the page that I now have a twitter.  Follow me @laughingpromise  You can also find me on pinterest at the same name.  🙂

Friday Faves

You know those posts on facebook that end up spamming your feed?  And the fact that most of the time they come from the same people?  Well this one is worth reading, I promise (and the person who shared it isn’t a spamming type, so I was willing to read…and I”m glad I did).  Parents, do you think before you post?

I’ve been reading through Epbot archives, and stumbled across this video on being creative.  I LOVE what he says, and it’s inspired me to think about what creative outlet I can focus on in this time in my life.  And blogging just makes sense.

“If you want to be a writer, and you’re not writing, you’d better ask yourself why.”  

So, I’m going to write.  I also love what he says about the fact that if you are reading someone’s work or enjoying their work, it’s okay if their style rubs off on you some.

“You organically have your own style that’s going to come out when you copy other people.”

I have always thought it wasn’t okay to copy others and have struggled to write because I feel like it should be so different from everyone else’s.  So, I criticise myself when I realise I’ve adopted another’s style and then stop writing altogether.  I love this video, because it has helped me to ease up on myself a bit.  I want to watch it every day (and maybe I will).

“If you wanna write, write.”

enhanced-buzz-wide-10577-1368024225-23

Now onto more hilarious things…as I perused my pinterest this week, I was reminded of how ridiculous some of the ideas are when you try to reenact them.  In fact, someone did a whole post on it, and you can read about it here (you won’t be sorry).

I’m sorry to say that in two weeks, that is all I’ve been up to on the web.  Cody is starting to teeth, so my time has been taken up with trying to get him to nap, comforting him when he’s crying, and cleaning up a lot of throw up.  I do believe the amber bracelet is helping, and he loves chewing on the silicone necklace I bought, so I will chalk those purchases up as a success.

I have so much more I want to write about, friends, and I will as soon as I find the time.  Thanks for your patience.