February 23, 2011

Money and Manna

The hubby and I are working our way through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. It's been an eye-opening journey thus far. We've been fortunate not to acquire tons of debt during our nearly five years of marriage, but like the vast majority of families in America, we've subscribed to the "buy now, pay later" mentality.

With baby #2 set to arrive in around 10 weeks and a new home mortgage (we just bought our first home a few weeks ago), we decided that now was the time to make sure our finances were in order. In the past, I've generally been the one responsible for paying bills, checking the bank account, ensuring that everyone gets paid. Thankfully, we've been able to pay our bills each month, but we've also done a fantastic job of spending every penny that has come in. Looking back, I wish we would have done a better job of saving. I don't know if I was afraid of the accountability that would come from writing everything down on paper and seeing where our money was actually going, or if I just thought that ignorance was bliss. What you don't know, can't hurt you . . . except that it can.

One of our first assignments in the class was to set up a $1000 emergency fund. Fortunately, with the help of Christmas gifts, we were able to check that first baby step off of the list. It's a great reassurance to know that if the car breaks down, or if we have an unplanned medical emergency, we have funds set aside to bail us out.

The second step is to pay off all debt and cut up those ole credit cards. In our first month we completely got rid of all credit card debt. Admittedly it wasn't much, just a couple hundred dollars worth of textbooks and baggage fees from Christmas vacation, but when it came time to cut up the credit cards, I froze. What if I needed them? I immediately felt convicted. It was as if God was saying "Who do you trust? Me or those credit cards?" Ouch.

Do I truly trust God to provide "daily bread." Note: I did NOT say daily Lexus or flat screen TV - God is not in the magic genie business. His blessings are always intended to serve a purpose - to further His kingdom not our own self-centered endeavors. He wants maturing children, not spoiled ones. If someone has told you that God's purpose is to serve as your own personal holy ATM machine, they're a little off from the mark. Yes, God loves to bless his children, just like we love to care for our own, but "blessings" are not always found in the form of "bucks." That being said, scripture does show that when we are faithful with the "talents" (Matthew 25:14-30) entrusted to us, that God will entrust us with greater responsibilities (to further his purposes). After all, when it comes down to it, everything belongs to Him. He just lets us manage it for a short while.

In my family right now, it seems like money and manna have a lot in common. We have enough for today and we have to trust that God will provide enough for tomorrow. I seriously doubt that we'll ever be wealthy, and that's OK. My prayer is that like the widow Elijah helped (1 Kings 17:7-16), we can come to the oil jar and find that we have enough for yet another day and enough to help those we can.


Penny Pincher's Guide to Romance

Focus on the Family is currently offering a contest on their Facebook page. "Dates on a Dime" encourages you to share your ideas for an affordable date night. I would totally appreciate your vote for my entry "Penny Pincher's Guide to Romance." You can vote once a day.

You can check out my suggestions here: http://apps.facebook.com/fotfpromo/contests/92629/voteable_entries/16533895?ogn=facebook&order=votes

How do you date on a budget? What tips can you share for making date night affordable?


February 16, 2011

The Way Home: DVD Review

A missing child is any parent's worst nightmare. Work-obsessed Randy Simpkins (played by Dean Cain)was distracted for only a few minutes when his son Joe disappears. This momentary distraction leads to a family's life-changing crisis.

Taking place over the course of one day, viewers are invited into this family's struggle to deal with the uncertainty of what happens to their son. I don't want to spoil the plot, but the end of the movie details how this event leads to Simpkins changing his life.

Fair warning: this is a tear-jerker. Of course, when you're pregnant, like I am, Hallmark commercials are tear-jerkers. Since becoming a parent, any film dealing with the loss (or fear of loss of a child) sends me running to the tissue box.

I felt that the film was fairly well made. It's a beneficial reminder that families are more important than business success!

I received a complimentary copy of this movie from Book Sneeze to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts of the film.


February 14, 2011

Kid-E-Cover Review

Baby proofing is a rite of passage for parents of young children. If it's dangerous, kids seem innately drawn to it. That's why I'm so thankful for companies that provide parents with the tools they need to create a safe place to play. The folks at Kid-E-Cover have released a handy dandy outlet cover to help keep curious little fingers (and toys) out of the outlet.

Traditional outlet plugs have been around for quite a while now, and to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of them. First of all, they are often difficult to remove - this is great for keeping your kids from taking them out of the outlet, but it can be a hassle when you need access to the outlet. Secondly, you are bound to have them appearing in random places around the house. My little boy has been known to carry the removed plugs off to his room, to the kitchen, or under the couch.

This new, slimmer, and attractive style of outlet protector eliminates those frustrations while still keeping the outlet safe and accessible to adults. The cover is made in the USA from a fire retardant plastic that meets current UL safety standards.

The Kid-E-Cover is super easy to install. Simply unscrew the current outlet cover and reattach the new cover using the provided screw. It doesn't get any easier than that. To access the outlet, simply slide the tab over to uncover the receptacle. The auto-return inner shutter system provides peace of mind for adults and protection for young children.  

The Kid-E-Cover retails for $15 for a pack of 5 and is currently available for purchase on Amazon and on the manufacturer's website Elicole.com

It's a great product at a great price. It makes the baby-proofing process much easier! Check them out today!


I received a complimentary product to facilitate my review. I was not obligated to give a positive endorsement of the product.

February 10, 2011

Dos and Don'ts of Dinner Table Etiquette.

If only I lived in a "Leave it to Beaver" world. My family sitting sweetly around a perfectly laid out table, politely passing dishes of homecooked goodness around the family table. Fast forward to the real world and you will discover my husband and I sitting on our couch with our tray tables munching on my "prepared" (previously frozen) dinner. As my family continues to grow, I am on the look out for ways to set a better example of the dos and don'ts of dinner time etiquette. Here are the ten goals I would like to have in place for my own family's dinner time.

  1. No Cell Phones Allowed. It's hard to carry on meaningful conversations if everyone is in their own technological world. Seriously, the text messages can wait thirty minutes until after dinner is over.
  2. The regular phone can wait. You might think, "Wait a second, isn't that the same thing?" Our house has a handy dandy thing called an answering machine. If it's an emergency or a pressing situation we can hear it on the machine, otherwise, the call can wait until our family dinner is over. 
  3. Please and Thank You. Barney tells us that these are called the "magic words." It's not unrealistic to expect your children to ask for and pass food with politeness. We've taught our 18 month-old some baby sign language, including the words "please" and "thank you." So now, when he wants a snack or some more toast, he says please. It's never to early to start modeling good behaviour.
  4. Turn off the Tube. This is hard for me. I'm weird, in that I really don't like the sound of people eating. I enjoy having a little bit of background noise to drown out the chewing sounds, but this same goal can be accomplished through some softly playing background music. 
  5. Everybody Shares in Conversation. I've heard of families that go around the table sharing about their day. Each individual shares one thing that made them "sad, mad, and glad." It's a great way to make dinnertime more than about sharing a meal.
  6. Don't Reach across the Table. Rather than sticking your armpit in your brother's face, simply ask politely (using "please" of course). If reaching for food places you in your neighbors space, it's better to ask for the item to be passed.
  7. Ask to be Excused. Just because you've finished your dinner in record time doesn't mean that you are free to dash back off to your own little world. Stay at the table for a little while and participate in conversation. 
  8. Try Every New Food at Least Once. Let's face it, some foods just look weird. Or they smell weird. Or they seem just plain ole unappetizing. Our family rule: try at least one bite. Don't judge a food before tasting it - it might just surprise you.
  9. Keep Your Bodily Functions to Yourself. Burping is gross and definitely unappetizing. If you feel gas on it's way, politely excuse yourself from the table and take care of business. No one else wants to listen to (or smell) your gasiness. It's just plain rude.
  10. Clean up After Yourself. Take your used plates and dishes to the sink. Do you want bonus points? Rinse them off and stick them in the dishwasher. If everyone does their part, clean-up doesn't take long at all.
The family table is a great place to share life together. Learning a few simple dos and don'ts can make the process more enjoyable for everyone.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Kraft Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”


February 5, 2011

Funny Super Bowl Commercials

I have to admit that I didn't really watch a lot of sports until after I met my husband. To this day, one of my favorite things about the Super Bowl are the commercials. I previewed this one today from Chevy. Cracked me up. Reminded me of my dad.

What has been your favorite commercial?