Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday, Lydia!

My Baby Girl is growing up too fast!!! I cannot believe Lydia is turning 4 today! It seems just the other day she was signing for the bottle and climbing up on the changing table for her diaper change. Yes, my earliest memories for this one are a bit different since she came to us at nearly one year old. However Alpheus did hold her the day she was born and I also took this picture and held her on day two. We never dreamed at that time that this precious little baby was going to be ours one day!

We were able to see Lydia nearly every week of her first year when she came to church with Memaw Rose. They would come to our house after church and visit and relax until time for evening church. We held and rocked and fed and played with the precious baby girl! Then one day the Lord opened the hearts and doors for her to be ours. What a privelege to have another daughter! The big girls were so excited!

This one is at about 9 months.  She was crawling and walking everywhere and we were just beginning to sense what God might have in store for us!

After her 1st birthday she was already anxious to be like the big girls and "do school."
Lydia has always loved to cuddle with a doll or stuffed animal.  I saw this one night and just had to get a picture of it!
Here we are at one of our favorite parks in Gainesville, FL.  They didn't have baby swings so Daddy provided a safe spot to ride! :)
 Lydia loved the bright colors of our flowers in Florida!
This girl is a ball of energy and loved the trampoline.  Now that she is big enough to really hurt herself, I am afraid to let our little FEARLESS ball of energy near one!
So you may wonder how she managed to be allowed on this trampoline with no net!!!!  Mommy was sick and Daddy was supervising.  Lydia LOVED it!
Mommy's choice of exercise for the girls!  Lydia and Hannah at the pool taking a break.
It has been wonderful seeing her grow up!  We are praying for you and love you so dearly!
Love, Mommy And Daddy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pay for Education instead of a System

This month I have been thinking a lot about being frugal and wise managers of the resources (time, money and skills) God has given us.  A fellow homeschool mom mentioned a fact on facebook about how much money she had saved the taxpayers by home educating.  Here is what I determined when crunching our numbers.

Where we lived for the first three years of school (2 chiildren) it was 10,000 per child. So that means Here in VA (also 3 years for 3 children) it is 14,000 per child so we have already saved taxpayers $186,000. The first year we spent around $800 on curriculum. The next 5 years we have never spent more than $500 (Counting yearly internet bill). So we spent approximately $3300 for15 years of school total for all children). AND my children were excited today because we have finally gotten to the 16th president in history so they could study Abraham Lincoln. LOL

What I mean is that our girls still enjoy learning even though we don't spend a great deal of money on it.  I am sure if we had more money I would spend more because I love books and educational field trips to historical and scientific sites.  However, since my husband is the pastor of a small church, it generally means having a modest salary, though the other benefits often out-weigh a large salary! 

What ends up happening in the public school system is you pay for the system more than the education.  You pay for busing, and food programs, and tutoring special needs, and many other expenses that the average student just doesn't need.  If their parent drives them to school, they pack their lunch and they don't need special tutoring, then they could be educated for so much less.  Paying for insurance in schools is another big expense as well as tenure to keep the best teachers.  Again the homeschooler doesn't have either of these expenses.

This is why I wish that homeschoolers would at least get a small stipend from the state or federal government for saving this money!  I could do so much more with just 3% of the 15,000 the county would have paid which equals $450.   It is really kind of funny to compare my homeschooling budget with our food budget.

Food and household supplies $600 per month.
Education  $50 per month ( for 10 months)

I must say that I am very thankful for which is a curricula that was developed by other homeschool moms to keep costs free or extremely affordable.  The education is excellent!  Thank the Lord for these moms who do not seek to be rich from the gems they have discovered!

Now off to prepare for tonight's dinner and tomorrow's school! :)  Blessings, Eva

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines: A Twist and a Strange Discovery

So this year for Valentines Alpheus spent the day coughing, sleeping, coughing, taking medicine, freezing, coughing, sweating, and more coughing interrupted by a doctor's visit for some medicine and our family valentines celebration.

Here are the girls coming in for the reveal.  We had planned to have a frugal valentines and just buy steaks and shrimp for a wonderful dinner and enjoy the day at the pool together.  Since Alpheus was feeling so poorly and couldn't do anything to make a special day of it, he sent me out to buy some more traditional gifts.

(Lydia with the ladybug/hearts socks Mary bought for her and the rest from Dad and Mom.)

That was the twist to this year!  In all 12 years of our marriage I have never bought the valentines gifts. Early on I did buy a card for Alpheus, but now we just tell each other without paying $5 for a card we feel to guilty to ever throw away. LOL   Actaully each girl had bought one gift for another sister and then I completed the gifts with balloons, a dozen roses divided between us, and of course candy.

(Lydia bought Mary a bag of chocolates!)
Poor Mary was also not feeling well so she didin't enjoy this as much as she has in the past, but she did her best to hang out with us. I didn't get a shot of any of us at dinner, but Mary was able to join us for dinner and loved the steak and sweet potato!
(Hannah bought Sarah one large chocolate heart!)

(Sarah knew Hannah would love animal themed chocolates!)

(Alpheus and I shared a ballon and our favorite chocolates - caramel and dark chocolate Ghirardelli.)

I enjoyed writing personal valentines on the balloons!  One side says Eva loves and the other says Alpheus loves... On the girls I wrote I Love You and signed Mommy on one side and Daddy on the other.  I really like this idea and will probably repeat it!

My wonderful husband grilled the shrimp, steaks, and sweet potatoes for us even though he was still feeling pretty pitiful.  I made a pasta salad, cut some raw veggies for the girls to dip, and cheddar garlic biscuits.  Mmmmmmmm!

So what was the strange discovery?  We discovered an easy way to keep the cat downstairs without resorting to shutting the door- helium balloons! The cat refuses to come upstairs since I brought in the balloons.  LOL I put him in the cage when I was bringing them in. Then I carried them upstairs, let the cat out and didn't really think about it again. I was afraid he would want to play with the ribbon at the end of each balloon, since he loves string of any kind.  A few hours later the girls showed me how they would carry him up and by the time he could see them on the table he was clawing their arms to get away. Slightly painful but soooo funny! Has anyone else had this issue with a cat?  So I may invest in a weekly balloon to keep the cat downstairs! I wonder if he will get over it after time.  Very strange!

I am thankful for my family and the love we have for each other.  It is truly a blessing from God.

Happy Valentines, DH!  I love you!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Frugal February; Great Giveaway

Well, I read somewhere in the blogging world about a family that tries for the whole month of February to not spend.  They stock up on food and supplies for a few months before and then make an effort to not spend anything other than bills and gas which they limit as much as possible.  They do this to remind them all about how much we can live without and with how little many people around the world live.

I remember thinking that is a noble act and I was impressed.  I didn't realize that we would be facing a Frugal February ourselves!  You see my husband has not had any work as a carpenter since before Christmas.  He has also been plagued with knee injuries so he really can't do much if he had the work.  This has placed us to be very conscious of our dependence upon God's providence all the time.  You see, we knew things were going to be tight, but we were hoping to have our tax return by mid February.  Didn't happen, and yes it is Uncle Sam's fault that our e-file was rejected and we now have to wait for snail mail and hope things go through.  Again, it is another reminder that we should always remember to trust in God and not chariots and horses!

So anyway, we are saving money this month by using up the food in our pantry and freezer.  Yes, it may mean that I am eating green beans more often than I would like, but it really is a good thing to force us to be thankful for what we have.  Even in this frugal month, we are going to live like kings compared to so many around the world.

We are also continuing to save money as much as possible by keeping the electric bill down.  Though we have been going quickly through that great store of firewood my hunky wood chuck stock piled, we still have enough to get through the winter! 

We are also still using our drying racks for our clothes too, despite the best efforts of our 3 year old to break them!  I love using drying racks for several reasons.  I love not using the dryer because it is so out of sight I forget about it.  The clothes racks are right in the middle of our family room so I won't forget about it.  I also love that it gives the girls a taste of what it was like to do laundry before we had such electric servants. (Not that I am planning on giving up my washing machine at any time!)  Another benefit is they make a great barrier between the children watching TV in the family room near the roaring stove.  There is a lot less whining about how hot the room is when the clothes racks are full!  The cat would add that he loves them because they make great hiding places.  Thankfully, he has not been tempted to climb them!

So I was looking at one of my favorite blogs, and I saw she was hosting a give away of a really nice clothes drying rack!  This thing is top of the line.  Great height and volume and sturdy enough for her large family so I am sure it would be great for my family of 6.  And talk about frugal - free giveaway is very frugal!  I can afford that this month. LOL  So go on over to her site and check it out and buy one if you are enjoying Fast spending February or enter this giveaway with me!

What are some ways you are saving money right now?  I am open to suggestions! Blessings, Eva