Uncategorized

“It’s Ok, Mommy!” (When God Uses Our Children to Encourage Us)

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About two years ago, Jesse and I found ourselves in the blazing heat of a fire that put our faith to the test. We had been renting a house- a charming bungalow- that I just loved. From the original hardwood floors throughout the interior to the grape hyacinths that adorned the backyard in Springtime, it felt like an answer to prayer. This quaint and cozy house affectionately became home to our family and we felt immeasurably blessed to live there.

I had prayed to God for years to give us a home of our own. But no matter what measures we took, the door kept closing again and again.

You see, Jesse and I had overcome many obstacles to reach this point in our lives. We endured set back after set back before we reached two pivotal life goals- obtaining Jesse’s teaching licensure and home ownership. For years, it was nothing but battling one dead end job to another within seasons of living with family and in tiny apartments.  We sacrificed our living situation in order for Jesse to finish school. Finally, it was in March of 2013, that we moved into our beloved bungalow.

But even though we were overjoyed to finally live in a house, it was not officially ours. There was still a battle ahead of us. While the owner was satisfied with having us rent the house in the beginning, he soon desired to remove himself from the liability and sell the property.  In all our best efforts, we struggled in our attempt to purchase the place we had called home for the past year and a half.

The owner became impatient for us to secure the mortgage and eventually listed the home for sale in March of 2015. I can recall those disheartened days when I had to make our house presentable for perspective buyers that were coming to view our home- each one posing a potential threat of our eviction.  Despite unconstructive advice to leave the house a complete mess for showings, my convictions would not bring me to disrespect the owner’s wishes in that way, as hard as it was for me to feel as though I was participating against my will.

We would have to lead our family out of the home we dearly loved and desperately wanted to keep while the showings took place- each one feeling like an eternity. Every time we watched from afar as strangers pulled out of our driveway at the conclusion of their showing, a great sense of uncertainty lingered within our hearts.

While we were fighting to keep our family in our home, we were hit with heavy news in late May, which pushed back our efforts to secure a mortgage once more. Jesse’s school district was undergoing building consolidation that resulted in the non-renewal of his teaching contract for the upcoming school year.

Not only could our house be sold and taken out from under us at any moment, but we now had to scramble to find a new source of income. In the midst of what felt like God  fighting against us, we soon discovered He was really fighting for us.

Jesse quickly searched for a new teaching position, but while several local schools were hiring, nothing was opening in his favor. One day, he approached me with the notion to apply to schools farther away. If offered a position, I realized our family may be required to move.

I was immediately resistant and not ready to give up the fight and relinquish the home I had earnestly prayed and longed for. In a desperate effort, Jesse pursued the long-distance positions with an open mind, while I kept pleading that God would not uproot us and keep us planted right where we were.

One morning, I was driving my kids to the library and began to talk to God. Within the parameters of my mind- a space where only my quiet thoughts exist and only God can hear- I cried out, “Jesus, I need you. I can’t do this alone. I’m not ready to walk away from this home. I don’t have the strength to endure this. I don’t think I can take much more. I’ve wanted a home for so long. Why is this so hard? It’s a battle too much for me to bear.” At that very moment, my daughter, Joanna (who was only 4 at the time), simply uttered these words in her small, sweet voice: “It’s ok, Mommy. Jesus fights all our battles and He always wins.”

“From the mouths of babes, you have established strength” (Psalm 8:2). God spoke to me from the mouth of my 4-year old, who didn’t audibly hear my cry for help or realize the profound encouragement in her spoken words- words not from her own wisdom, but completely orchestrated by God.

I was so overcome by the presence of God, I had to quickly pull the car over to re-gain my composure. As I sat there with my head on the steering wheel, weeping tears of remorse and tears of joy at the same time, I knew God had heard my plea. And He boldly answered me through a most innocent vessel. That defining moment, right by the side of the road, changed the course of my faith. I peacefully released all my questioning worries, thoughts of doubt and yes, even our home into the hands of Jesus.

God reminded me that His plans are always higher than my plans. His ways are not my ways. But most importantly, He reminded me that I don’t have to fight my own battles. I can surrender my will to a Mighty, Sovereign Lord who stands in my place and fights on my behalf. So I prayed, “God, forgive me for my lack of faith. If it is your will that we move, I submit myself, our home and providing resources into your hands.”

God doesn’t need our permission to fulfill His will, but He does desire that we trust in His will.

Exactly one week later, Jesse was offered a teaching and coaching position that brought our family to Cleveland. Even against all the prior adversity we faced in obtaining a mortgage, God quickly opened the door for us to buy a home- a home that was newer and larger than the home we left behind. He fought for me- and He victoriously won the battle for me. Through this journey, I grasped a little more of the divine authority and power of God, His provision and even the route He chooses to speak to me. And I have been truly humbled ever since.

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” -Jeremiah 33:3

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Life

What’s Wrong With Kids Today?

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As generations continue to develop, grow and mature, a noticeable trend of entitlement is also growing at an alarming rate, sweeping the nation’s youth. In a technological-driven society, today’s kids are prematurely exposed to adulthood, yet do not accept the terms and conditions which adulthood demands. Today, economic class no longer determines which kids are fed by a silver spoon or not because so many parents, regardless of income, are ensuring their children’s every happiness.

Kids expect to be treated like adults, but fail to actually act like an adult. But who’s allowing them to be treated this way? Kids need to be kids. While kids deserve fundamental rights- basic needs, love and nurture, they also require to be disciplined, led, and equipped for life. In a culture where so many children feel entitled, I couldn’t help but wonder, what has happened to kids today?

It is no surprise that the generations who survived the Great Depression, fought in World War II, and persevered during the Civil Rights Movement view today’s youth as ungrateful, spoiled, and entitled. While our grandparents were raised to understand the meaning of character, parents today are raising their children to understand the meaning of comfort.

My Grandmother grew up in a time where kids spent their childhood preparing meals, cleaning, caring for younger siblings, and even working outside the home, if lean financial circumstances demanded this of them. Meanwhile, kids today are equipped for receiving handouts and are often only motivated to do something if it advances their selfish gain. But are kids the culprit of their entitlement?

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“You know what makes me sick to my stomach? When I hear grown people say that kids have changed. Kids haven’t changed. Kids don’t know anything about anything. We’ve changed as adults. We demand less of our kids. We expect less of our kids. We make their lives easier instead of preparing them for what life is truly about. We’re the ones that have changed.” -Frank Martin, S.C Head Basketball Coach

Even though our culture has changed from what it was 50 years ago, which makes parenting arguably more challenging in certain ways today, we can’t deny the logical fact that kids have always been born with the same innate, child-like instinctive behavior. Kids are kids. All kids want things, but it’s the parents who set the expectations.

We (the parents) have changed. We have evolved into these passive disciplinarian enablers who have allowed society to shape our parental convictions, define our essence of parenting, and even make our decisions for us. My husband commonly references a quote to his football coaches that perfectly correlates to parenting: “The actions you see are either taught or allowed.”

We teach or allow our children to be self-focused, ungrateful, tech junkies who have no concept of real perspective, personal sacrifice or work ethic

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Entitlement is a learned behavior. As parents, we are either fostering their entitlement or we are fostering their character.  The greatest disservice we can do to our children is give them everything and require nothing. Sometimes, the love for our children drives us to want to give them every opportunity and every luxury, and remove any shred of pain or struggle. In doing so, we feed into their entitlement and starve their character.

50 years ago, my dad sat before a plate of sauerkraut until it was time for bed. The next morning, my Grandmother sat the same cold plate in front of him because she was upholding the rule at the dinner table: you eat whatever you are served without complaint. Let’s be honest, we don’t even hold our children accountable to finish their dinner anymore. In fact, we accommodate them by preparing meals we know they will eat, so we can avoid the conflict altogether.

We have been so indoctrinated to believe it is our responsibility to ensure our children’s happiness. In doing so, other children become the standard by which we determine our parental decisions, rather than choosing what is in the best interest for our family. Your ten-year old’s friends all have a Facebook account, so why shouldn’t yours? Your eight-year old’s friends got iPhones for their birthdays, so yours should have one too. Perfectly logical, right? It’s parental peer pressure!

As parents, we have no obligation to provide these kinds of privileges. Too few kids today understand the profound correlation between responsibility and rights. We tend to fly past the responsibility part and skip ahead to handing out the rights- the rewards. Our children do not  even have to prove they are mature enough to handle their privileges before we pass them out. And yet, we still wonder…what has happened to our kids?

Entitled kids do not only become dysfunctional members of society, but diluted Christians

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As parents, our primary responsibility is to disciple our children, not entitle them. Understanding our Father’s Heart is the first step in how we are to teach our children accordingly.  Our Lord desires for His children to be servant-leaders, humble, diligent, and hard-working.

By raising entitled children, we lead them astray from who God calls us to be as His children. It is up to us- the parents- to train our children in the way they should go, to resist the temptations to feed into their earthy desires, and live a life that is truly pleasing to God.

So what is wrong with kids today? It’s us. Parents who teach or allow their children how to be ungratefully entitled,  rather than  be a humble servant for God.

Our Savior did not live a comforting, entitled life when He walked the earth. Jesus didn’t demand for His disciples to wash His feet -He washed theirs. He humbly carried out the Father’s will, even unto the cross, where He suffered in our place as the sacrificial Lamb of God.  Sacrifice is the complete opposite of entitlement. And that is the life God has called us and our children to- not entitlement- but living sacrifices.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your true and proper worship.” -Romans 12:1

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

 

Food and Recipes

Better Than Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo

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I adore pasta- it’s a love affair that began from the time I was old enough for table food. Being just north of 29 years old now, I have reluctantly tried to cut back on the simple starches in my diet, but sometimes a girl just needs her fill of carbs, ya know? So what it’s been only two days… let’s not worry about technicalities.  Throughout my culinary adventures, I have experimented with several possibilities or shall I say, pastabilities, of creating new dishes of all sorts. But as interesting and exciting as new recipes can be, I find myself always going back to the basics.

While plain pasta is perfectly acceptable in my book, there is one ingredient that is the undisputed pasta counterpart. (You can safely guess where I’m going with this)…cheese.  Of course, traditional macaroni and cheese is an obvious go-to for potlucks and busy weeknights,  but if you really want to knock the socks off your family or guests and elevate your expectations of homemade pasta-cheese pairings, try your hand at Fettuccine Alfredo. It’s a fancier version of mac n’ cheese. If mac n’ cheese is the t-shirt and jeans of pasta, think of Fettuccine Alfredo as the little black dress. Not over the top- just simple. classic. perfect.

I will disclose, however, that this is not a diet-friendly recipe by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s why it is soooo rich and satisfying! You can add grilled chicken, if it makes you feel better, but it stands on its own just fine. Heavy cream. Butter. Parmesan. All the necessities for a deliciously creamy sauce. But two ingredients transform this simple sauce into a blissful bite that will leave your friends and family asking, “hmm…what is that?” For a bright, citrusy burst of flavor- fresh lemon- both the juice and the zest.  The other star ingredient…nutmeg. It’s not much more than a pinch, but it’s a pinch of awesome! And nutmeg is the surprising warm and earthy spice that separates this sauce from all those other guys.

Better Than Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo

16 oz. Fettuccine

2 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream

Juice and Zest from Two Lemons

1 Stick Butter

2 Cups Grated Parmesan

1/4 Teaspoon  Nutmeg

Salt & Pepper, to Taste

Sprinkle of Freshly Chopped Parsley (optional)

Cook pasta in salted, boiling water, according to package directions. Zest both lemons and set zest aside. In a large skillet, stir two cups of cream and lemon juice until combined.  Add the butter- cook and stir over medium heat just until the butter melts, about 3 minutes.  Remove sauce from the heat. Drain the pasta, add to the cream sauce and toss. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream and parmesan to the mixture. Add the lemon zest, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Return to low heat and toss until thickened, about 1 minute.  Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and more parmesan- because why not?

Whether it’s for a special occasion or a lazy, late-Friday night indulgence on the couch, Fettuccine Alfredo is your main cheese. ( Get it? Cheese- instead of squeeze)…sorry, I just can’t seem to pass up on an opportunity to insert a corny pun! Enjoy!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family Life

Why There Is No Friend Like Mom

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She’s your trustworthy confidant, biggest cheerleader, and loyal companion. The one who longed for you and loved you even before she ever laid eyes on you. She tirelessly devoted herself into every ounce of your well-being (and probably still does).  Growing up, my mom was my everything- my security blanket, source of comfort, playmate, and teacher.  As I have journeyed through womanhood- got married, had children and a home of my own- out of nowhere, the woman who was once my mentor, suddenly became my best friend.

The same woman who carried me in her belly for nine months is one of my favorite people on the face of the earth, but not just because she’s my mother (which is reason enough), but simply because of the woman she is. She taught me how to love, how to forgive, how to pray, how to trust in God, and how to be a gracious wife and mother to my own family. All friendships are unique blessings, but none quite measure up like the friendship of a mother.

Moms Are Loyal

Unlike many people in your life, your mother will unconditionally love you. From the very first time she felt you flutter in her womb, she loved you. And because of this incredible bond that God designed from conception, your mother will see you through- rain or shine. After all, she has witnessed you in your deepest depravity and yet, consciously chose to diligently remain actively present and put in all her efforts to raise you into a lovely young woman.

When you disobediently defiled your parent’s wishes and when your pre-teen hormones turned you into an adolescent nightmare- your mom still loved you through it all.  Not all friends will loyally be there for you like that and love you in spite of all your flaws and weaknesses.

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” -Proverbs 17:17

 

Moms Will Tell It Like It Is

While most friends are reluctant to be confrontational and tend to sugar coat the truth, moms are not afraid of honesty- even if the truth is hard to swallow. A lot of friends avoid telling the brutal truth because they don’t want to hinder their relationship with you. But there’s an undeniable selfish motive there. They hesitate to offer honesty that would benefit you in order to maintain their level of personal comfort. You know what I mean…truth bombs-the things we need to hear, but don’t necessarily want to hear.

Moms, on the other hand, have your best interest at heart and there is no room for selfishness. Therefore, they will give you the truth if they are completely convinced it’s what’s best – not for them- but for you. The Mom who told you to “march back upstairs, because you aren’t leaving the house looking like that,” is the same woman who will not shy away from telling you what you need to hear.

“An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” -Proverbs 27: 5-6

 

Moms Are Trustworthy

It’s a little known fact that women talk. Shocking, right? Since the dawn of time, girls and gossip unfortunately go hand in hand. We are naturally and fundamentally bent towards this particular temptation. We have experienced gossip from both sides- we have been a participant and we have likely all been a victim of it. The term “stabbed in the back” was coined when Julius Caesar was assassinated by his most trusted friends as a result of the Roman conspiracy.

So while men tend to be more literal creatures, as we discover here, women have all felt the same emotional heartache from a friend who betrayed us. But a mom’s love is the purest kind of love- it always protects and would never display your weaknesses or even your deepest kept secret. She wouldn’t dare sacrifice your trust and cause you intentional harm. She is first one who had your back and will always have your back.

“There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” -Proverbs 18:24

 

Moms Are Relatable

Whatever season of life you find yourself in, your mom has already walked through it herself at some point. She’s the perfect source for advice- from how to soothe a teething infant to how long you should cook the beef roast. Moms are like Google on speed dial- always there at the push of a button, containing all the answers to life’s questions (well most of them, anyhow). When you feel as though no one understands what you’re going through- remember, you have mom. For every circumstance you are facing, she has a story that relates. Through her experiences, she offers encouragement and wisdom to inspire and enlighten. There is so much comfort in knowing that someone else in this vast world not only understands exactly what you’re going through, but how to handle it.

“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” -Proverbs 27:9

 

Moms Are Dependable

Flaky friends are a dime a dozen. But someone who you can always count on? That’s a rare find! Moms don’t cancel plans because a “better” opportunity came up.  And Moms are dependable, even if it requires their inconvenience. My mom will spend her entire lunch hour just listening to me rant about my day. Whether I am overjoyed with the BEST news in the world or am a stressed out, anxious mess, I confidently rely on my Mom’s listening ear and affirmation. She is always there for me when I need her the most or when I just need someone to talk to.

“Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?” -Proverbs 20:6

I’ve watched many friends walk in and out of my life, but none have stood the test of time like my Mother. She has not only taught me how to be a better mom, but a better woman. She is one of a kind! I thank God for her and I cherish her- for being my loving mother and my dearest friend.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Home

Create Inviting Curb Appeal

As we prepare to store away all things winter (thank you, Jesus) and spruce up our yards for Spring, I can’t think of a better opportunity to shed some long overdue sunlight on a dreary exterior. Springtime is a season to embrace budding beginnings and embark on new adventures…and maybe even get our hands dirty.  But achieving the desirable curb appeal for your home can be somewhat intimidating, especially on a tight budget.

Perhaps you may think curb appeal is unnecessary. But in my humble opinion, curb appeal is the equivalent of a first impression.  So what first impression is your home making? Although the chances for my modest threshold to grace the cover of Martha Stewart Living is highly unlikely, I still believe anyone can create inviting curb appeal for any home on any budget. Seize this chance to be creative and get inspired!

 

Welcome Sign

I can’t think of a more obviously inviting way to welcome someone to your home than to plainly advertise it . In one of my D.I.Y weekend project blogs, I repurposed an old, unused bench as the canvas of my Welcome Sign. Perfect wood is not required here. In fact, the more rustic, the better! Don’t have a large piece of wood on hand? I love incorporating this same idea on a smaller scale with a homemade door sign. Besides, I’m a sucker for anything with a mason jar!

 

 

Potted Plants

You can’t fully celebrate Spring without planting something, right? But I understand that not everyone can have a green thumb. I understand because I’m one of them. I have a cooking thumb, a cleaning thumb, and when I feel like it- a baking thumb. But no green thumb here. That’s what I love about potted plants- they are low maintenance, but add so much beautiful color to the exterior. Take advantage of creativity here. Add dimension and interest by placing the potted plants on something- crates, a rocking chair or simply line the porch steps.

 

 

Spruce Up the Shutters

Replacing outdated shutters can easily become a pricey project. That’s where my dear friend, paint comes in. Over the past several months, my relationship with paint has gone from simple acquaintances to practically bosom buddies. I paint all. the. time. I can always depend on paint to transform something drab into something amazing. Make a big impact with little investment. Be sure to choose something clean and neutral, like classic black or modern slate. This is not the time to think bold. If you want the look of farmhouse wood shutters, check out my D.I.Y Wood Shutters  blog located under my weekend projects! Each shutter was only $8!

 

 

Add Flower Boxes

Add a touch of country charm with flower boxes. There is just somethin homey about flower boxes- very cottage-esque. And bonus! You can take care of these plants from the convenience of your window. Adorable and practical! Joanna Gaines often incorporates these in her exterior designs, as she is famous for her utilization of 3-D décor.  Making these yourself is super easy too. Check out this link for D.I.Y window boxes by The D.I.Y Network.

 

 

Simplify the Landscape

Unless you own a brand-spankin’ new home, you likely have more of an abundance of shrubbery than a lack thereof. Over the winter months, landscaping can become tired looking and overgrown. In this case, less is more. While greenery is beautiful and inviting, too much can easily become distracting and overbearing.  Begin by trimming out- of- control bushes and hedges. If a plant covers too much of the house, the home can appear smaller and become lost in the foliage. The landscaping should compliment the house, not overshadow it. Think less “Little Shop of Horrors” and more “Under the Tuscan Sun.”

 

 

Outdoor Seating

Imagine sitting on your porch or stoop on a warm, sunny morning, sipping a hot cup of chai tea and watching the kiddos play in the yard. Outdoor seating provides functionality and style to your home’s exterior. Even if you don’t have room for a big ‘ole southern porch swing, you can incorporate clean- line furniture that can suitably fit even the most quaint of entries. Nothing is more inviting- and comfy- than an outdoor living space. But outdoor furniture can cost a pretty penny. So when shopping for your outdoor living essentials, take advantage of garage sales and consignment shops. I found my free gem of a rocking chair by the side of the road! It was perfectly weathered and just what I was looking for.

 

Creating stylish curb appeal doesn’t have to be complicated or even expensive, for that matter. You just have to use a little creativity, be willing to roll up your sleeves, and get your fingers dirty!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Dear Overwhelmed Mom-You Are Blessed

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While perusing the isles of the grocery store one day with my 4-year old, I couldn’t help but notice the familiar sounds of a disgruntled mother (kind of resembles a ticking time bomb that’s about to explode) who appeared to be reaching her breaking point in the midst of isle 8, right next to the dairy. Her four boys, all under the age of 5, were running up and down the crowded isle, playing monkey in the middle with a tube of Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls (and making impressively accurate monkey impressions, I might add), as passing onlookers offered their snide remarks and glaring looks of disapproval.

As much as the mother tried to ignore the looming judgment around her, while attempting to round up her boys to remind them that they were at the store and not the set of Planet of the Apes, her human limitations became all the more evident. She was clearly outnumbered 1:4 and probably wished she could teleport to a happy place (alone) or at least miraculously grow an extra set of arms. She wore a weary expression on her face while she reached for the coffee creamer- probably thinking to herself, “I’m going to need this today.”

For a brief moment, I felt sorry for her. I empathized with her frustrations with both her rambunctious kiddos, as well as the “offended” shoppers. After all, grocery stores are practically battle fields for mothers. The struggle is real- VERY REAL! But then I realized, despite the simple fact that I could completely understand how she feels, I was no better than the other onlookers. I shouldn’t feel sorry for her because her children aren’t “perfectly behaving.” Because even when our children are challenging, disobedient, and utterly frustrating, may we not forget- they are still a blessing from God.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” -Psalm 127:3

It’s in these moments, society will quickly name children with all sorts of discouraging labels- embarrassing, distracting, and a nuisance. I’m certain the mother could even relate to these feelings in that moment. Yet, even when our children push our buttons (and our limits), they are a blessing, nonetheless. They have been fearfully and wonderfully made by a divine Creator, who as a  Father himself, must constantly bestow extensions of grace to His imperfect children.

Fellow mom, do not be dismayed. In every season of parenting, there will be a share of trials, but don’t allow the trials overshadow the triumphs. Since God entrusted you with little souls to train and nurture, you are highly blessed. And don’t allow discouraging moments with your children or even other onlookers convince you otherwise. Motherhood is not merely about survival. God has given us a calling and He has equipped us to answer that calling.

“Having children is not about surviving another day of changing diapers, cleaning up messes, refereeing sibling rivalries (or monkeys in the grocery store isle). It’s all about having another day to point your children to Christ, to train them to take their place on the front lines of the battle for God. ” -Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth

Motherhood sometimes (okay, oftentimes) depletes us of patience, hope and even our joy on difficult days. We doubt our ability to be effective mothers and we may even doubt the gifts God has placed in our care. But God makes no mistakes. Your children are not by chance. They are a blessing- in spite of their imperfections and human tendencies- they are a blessing. And because they are a blessing, you are inherently blessed.

While I stood there and debated between apple or orange juice, I overheard an elderly woman speak to the discouraged mom, “Four handsome young men you got there.” The mother reluctantly nodded and added, “Thank you. If only I could get them to listen to me.” The elderly women gently placed her hand on the mother’s back and said, “I raised five children- two girls and three boys- sometimes it’s the most challenging children that grow up to be the most influential adults.” It was as though her words parted the storm clouds just enough so the mother could see a glimmer of sunshine on the horizon- and hope for the future.

That elderly woman has no idea that she will likely forever be known to that weary mother- who was at her wits end and the brink of defeat- as “the hero of isle 8. “What a beautiful encouragement for all moms that our work is not in vain. It can be extremely difficult to see past the day to day struggles. Sometimes we are too caught up with the tiring demands of what motherhood requires of us and easily forget that our children are indeed a blessing. So sometimes, God sends us a reminder.

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.'”- Proverbs 31:28 & 29

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Uncategorized

Birthdays On A Budget

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April-June marks birthday season in the Robinson household. But while birthdays are supposed to be a time of celebration, many parents (myself included) find themselves overwhelmed with planning, preparations and the attention to details. And in a society where 8-year olds are getting iPhones for their birthdays, resisting the urge to overspend on birthdays can be a bit of a challenge. When you are a one-income family, the challenge is magnified times a gazillion. Thankfully, over the years, I found the joy in simplifying birthday parties…plus, extravagant just wasn’t in the budget!

But since when did creating memories require the assistance of maxing out the credit card anyhow? There is a common misconception that in order for a party to be fun, it must be extravagant. But you can achieve an extraordinary birthday party without it being extravagant. One is determined by imagination and one is determined by budget. I’m just going to leave that little tidbit there and let you decipher which one is which. Imagine throwing a kid-approved party with no buyer’s remorse. No nail biting while balancing the checkbook. Just a little planning and creativity, and the only one that will notice your birthday party was on a budget is your wallet.

Plan Ahead

Just like making out a grocery list to avoid impulse purchases, planning ahead is key to party planning when you are on a budget. Make a detailed list and give yourself plenty of time to shop around. Shopping at the last minute increases your likelihood to go financially overboard.  Be sure to search for coupons before your embark on your mission to take advantage of sales. Remember, you will often pay a premium for convenience, so try avoiding making all your purchases in one place.

Minimize Theme Incorporation

I realize kids love themes for their birthdays. I love themes for my kids birthdays. It gives me a focus. But you don’t need to elaborate this theme in every. little. detail. Themed items tend to be more costly, so when you are shopping, stick to solid-colored balloons, plates, cups and utensils.  Incorporate themes in other areas, like creatively naming the food. Like most little boys, my son went through a car phase. For his third birthday, I threw him a Hot Wheels party, so I served the guests motor oil (sweet tea), antifreeze (Kool-Aid), spare tires (mini chocolate donuts), Hot Wheels pasta salad (pasta salad with pinwheel pasta), “Pit Stop” sliders (mini deli sandwiches) and “Nascar” cupcakes.

Digital Invitations

While I enjoy good ole’ fashioned snail mail, I discovered that I could utilize modern conveniences to my advantage by sending out digital invites. Mailbox invites add a nice touch, but they add an unnecessary expense as well.  This saves money on the invitation, envelopes and stamps.  It also creates an easier method of reply since most people would rather click a “yes” or “no” button than formally RSVP.

Keep the Menu Simple

It’s easy to overthink food when feeding a crowd. But keep your audience in mind- kids are pretty basic in their culinary preferences. Hot dogs, for instance, are a universally accepted kid food. Your goal here is to avoid fancy and aim for simple. Make some of your child’s favorite side dishes-  with the use of some of your own discerning here as children may offer very random selections. When it comes to beverages, don’t worry about stocking up on bottles of water and cans of pop. Serve refreshments in pitchers instead. You might be surprised at how much beverages can add up.

Borrow Instead of Renting

When hosting a crowd, you may discover that your dining table, suitable for your family is not quite enough. But before you place orders on renting out tables and chairs, ask around to family, friends and neighbors first to see if they are willing to lend you some extras. Don’t worry if the chairs don’t match (even I had to set aside my OCD for the sake of saving money here). Mismatched tables can be easily covered with colorful tablecloths and the chairs, well… it’s eclectic. More importantly, it’s a place for your guests to sit, so it works.

Forget the Venue

Venues create a large portion of party cost for many parents. Inflatable arenas and trampoline parks cost an arm and a leg and often offers a very limited time frame to party. If you are really trying to stick to a humble budget, there is no better place to host your party than in the comfort of your home, backyard or even your garage.

Stock Up at the Dollar Store

Party stores may have a large selection of party-specific items, but the Dollar Store has a great selection for savings. In fact, this stop is the best place to load up on party décor items such as balloons and streamers, plus all you need for party favor goody bags. Even rummaging through your local thrift store can uncover hidden party treasures.  I had a friend who threw a girl’s tea party for her daughter and discovered a 20 piece tea set from the thrift store for $19.

Affordable Entertainment

This has always been the most challenging aspect of party planning for me. I have no trouble creating the menu, decorating, and even spending hours baking the day before the party. But activities tend to leave me stumped.  Then I realized that instead of being a one-woman circus or purchasing several items I will likely never use again, I could inject a little 80’s entertainment into my kids’ parties.

Organizing a simple game of dodgeball or freeze tag is one way to keep kids active and engaged in fun. Scavenger hunts are another great way to get the kiddos excited. If you have a child who loves crafting, incorporate this concept into the party. Even something simple like allowing the kids to decorate tiara-shaped sugar cookies for your daughter’s princess party will keep them pleasantly occupied- and sugar induced.

Go Homemade

Sure, a catered three-tiered fondant masterpiece is eye-catching, but also a tad bit expensive and let’s be honest, over the top. Baking a homemade cake is not only better on the budget, but it adds a touch of nostalgia (something kids in this generation don’t get enough of). And rather than stressing over a Pinterest- worthy cake, make cupcakes or cake pops using simple decorations of icing and sprinkles. Fondant tastes like sugary plato anyway.

The imminent temptation to skimp on prep time will not allow you to skimp on savings. I can save about half the cost in prepping my own veggies than purchase a store-bought vegetable and dip tray. Put together cold-cut sandwiches rather than splurging on the “Ultimate Deli Party Platter.”  Whatever shortcut the store offers, you can make it for less.

Don’t allow the details of the celebration overshadow the real reason for the celebration. And remember- you don’t need an extravagant budget to have an extraordinary birthday party!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker