Monday, April 20, 2015

Ways We Have Saved Money Lately

I really enjoy reading how others save money. I find it inspiring and sometimes it gives me new ideas to help us save money as well. I find it very rewarding to be able to save money in some areas so that we can use it in a better way. Here is a random compilation of some of the ways we have saved money lately......
  • I cut all the guys hair.
  • My sister cut my hair for me.
  • I offered to review some books and therefore got new books for free.
  • I mended socks.
  • I cleaned up wood scraps and such from our yard and burnt it in our fireplace to heat our house.
    A recent cleaning up or our yard. All of it burnt nicely in our fireplace.
  • I made my own cream of mushroom soup.
  • I did a lot of looking to find a special birthday present and ended up with a wonderful deal.
  • I let my "fingers do the walking" as I called around to look for the typewriter and so saved money on gas as well.
    Megan enjoying her new typewriter.
  • I used a warranty insurance to get my money back on a camera that broke.
  • We have stayed home quite a bit which helps to save on gas.
  • We packed a meal to eat while traveling.
  • We brought water bottles on our trip and also to town when running errands. This makes purchasing drinks unnecessary.
  • We purchased cheese in 40 lb chunks from Bletsoe Cheese for a price much less than the store price per pound.
  • We have been putting siding on the house and working on other house projects. We could have hired it done instead but doing it ourselves is saving us a whole lot of money. It is a lot of work but it is fun and rewarding too.
  • We gratefully accepted hand-me-downs that were offered to us.
  • I used some coupons that my Mom gave to me and got a free towel at JC Penneys and also $10 off some needed items.
  • We took extra building supplies back to the store and got our money back.
  • Jonathan and I made a instrument rack for our music nook for $1.50. 
  • I boiled turkey bones after cooking (with a splash of vinegar to get extra nutrients out) it so that we didn't waste anything. Now we have lots of broth as well as the meat we already ate.
How have you saved money recently? I would love to hear about some frugal thing you have done lately!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Why I Believe We Need to Repent

To repent means that we are sorry for what we have done and are willing to change and do things differently. When we repent of our sins - we are going to turn away from them and walk in a different way.

Here are some verses that tell us we need to repent:

"Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38

“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent." Acts 17:29 & 30

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 2 Cor. 2:10

 "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" Romans 2:4

What an important concept repentance is. Let's not be stubborn in going in our own way but be willing to turn around and go God's way. He really does know what is best!

Our Music Nook

 Well in the race for which room got finished first in our house - The Music Nook is the winner!
(Though actually I have to confess that there is still an outlet cover missing here - it didn't come with our order but it is behind furniture so I decided to let it pass for now. Hopefully we can get it pretty soon.)

 This is a well used and loved place in our house. Every school morning the kids and I gather around the piano to sing (and usually other instruments get played as well) and then I teach around 20 students in this area each week and then we each enjoy spending time practicing our instruments too.

   Jonathan and I made the music rack (with 3 boards that I bought for 50 cents each!) and we have enjoyed having it so much. Not only does it display our instruments nicely - and we love the look of instruments- but it also makes the instruments so much handier for playing. That generally causes us to practice more which is a good thing!

  To make the rack with have one solid board across the back. Then we took another board just like it and measured and cut out places for the instruments to slip into. Then we cut some pieces from a 3rd board to be nailed on either side to make the rack sturdy. I then stained it with some stain we had on hand and then varnished it. The next step was to put a strip of foam (something I had saved from a padded box) into each cut out place to make the instruments fit in more snugly.Ken then helped me mount it on the wall.

 Our piano was my grandmother's. She gave it to my parents but they already had a piano and so they gave it to me as the one that I had was pretty old and kind of needed replacing. It is a good piano and we give it a lot of use. I am so glad that I have never had to live without a piano. I love to be able to play whenever I feel like it. It has been a great way to relieve stress for me - something I have done since I was a young teen. We love using it to praise our wonderful God!

  Down in the corner by the piano is my accordion. That is an instrument that I really enjoyed playing when I was a teen but the instrument that I learned on was loaned to us so as an adult I have not had one to play. A while back we were hosting a garage sale and another family from our church was getting ready to move so they brought stuff as well. They told me that if there was ever anything I wanted to just help myself. One day I was out and they had dropped a load of stuff off in front of the garage for the garage sale. When I came home my eyes were immediately drawn to the accordion sitting there. I was so excited!

  I had looked for an accordion in the past but found them to be rather expensive and not all the common to find. When I tried the accordion out I found that quite a few keys were stuck and so it was like you were playing a bunch of chords at once whenever you played. That was a little disappointing. But my brother-in-law came to visit and was able to fix it. It was so fun to be able to play the accordion again. I still have yet to get good at it again but it is fun to play and something that my family - especially Ken- really enjoys so that is fun.

 Under the instrument rack we also have a little bench that I am able to store music books and various things for my music lessons in. It is very handy to have that there.

 On the piano we have our wind instruments. Mara plays the Ocarina, the boys have harmonicas which they are learning, Mara also plays the penny whistle, Megan has a recorder that she needs to learn and I have an alto recorder that I am quite rusty on.
Aaron plays the Mandolin (which he just got in late January) and the Ukulele. He loves bluegrass music. He has discovered that he can actually pick up about any stringed instrument and get a tune out of it.
This shows a music gathering at our house a couple of months ago. Jonathan is my banjo boy (still learning - he just got it in February). I am on the violin, my dad on the mandolin, my brother-in-law Benjamin on the guitar and Mara playing the ocarina.

Concerning our other instruments shown above - I play the cello, the little violin was mine when I first learned. Currently no one plays it but I hope to teach Megan before long. Mara is learning on my big violin. The guitar belongs to Jonathan but he never got the hang of it so it hangs there and guests that don't happen to bring their guitar along will often pick it up even though it isn't the greatest. All the kids play the piano to some degree thought Jonathan wants to forget that he ever learned. Mara has advanced the farthest (which could be expected with her being the oldest) and Megan plays it the most.

 Music is well loved here. We are still trying to talk Ken into learning an instrument but he still maintains that trying to count while doing other things is more multi-tasking than he can handle. :-)
 What sort of music do you like? Do you enjoy making music? What instrument do you play?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Making Priorities When Homeschooling

Music is something that we enjoy and try to work on. It is a fun way to praise God!
   Last week a mother of some of my music students came over for a morning to talk about homeschooling. She has eight children and has homeschooled before but quit a few years ago because it was to overwhelming. She had asked me how we homeschooled at lesson time one week and after I briefly told her she wondered if we could visit more as our method didn't seem quite as overwhelming as what they had been doing before. I was more than happy to share our methods with her. I thought it would be fun to share here some of what I shared with her last week.

Science can happen anytime. What fun when we had a butterfly visit out of season
 and we were able to take the time to learn about it and it's habits. 
  The first thing that I have come to realize is very important is to think through and decide what is really important for your children. Here is what I came up with: My number one priority for them is that they would love God and try to serve Him. #2: That they would love others and be compassionate and seek to share God's love and truth with them. #3: That they would not be afraid of working hard and that they would actually enjoy it. #4: That they would love learning and know how to learn.

   I think it is very important to realize what is truly important to your family because sometimes in the hustle and bustle of homeschool life we can get caught up in trying to get a bunch of workbooks done and the parents are stressed, the kids are worn out and you haven't even focused on the things that are important to you. When I really thought through what we wanted for our kids I started spending a lot more time sharing God's word with them and we lightened up on the workbooks.

We love interesting books about science (not textbooks or workbooks so much.)
  So I think my greatest tip would be to truly figure out what you really want for your children and really focus on that and don't worry so much about the other things. There is no way that we can teach our children everything, we don't know everything ourselves nor does anybody else in this world. So our goal should be to teach them something on a regular basis and to help them learn as
they go on through life.
My dad and Jonathan getting the eggs marked for going in the incubator.
Besides setting goals some other principles that we try to really incorporate into our homeschooling is that Learning happens everywhere. Lately the boys (Aaron especially as he has been reading up on it) have been learning all about eggs and the growth and birth of baby birds. They have been saving eggs and now incubating them to provide our chicks for this year. This is a great learning tool. Embrace the learning as it happens - you don't always have to be the one coming up with the lessons.
 Another thing that I think it really important is having a lot of good books. Well written, fun to read but educational books. There are a lot out there but there is also a lot of rubbish and then just boring, dry textbooks too. Have GOOD books for your kids to read!

 Another homeschool highlight in our house this week was when some reporters came from our local paper to interview Mara and Jonathan since they had won some essay contests lately. That was a new and interesting experience for them.

 I hope to write more about this topic later but I guess this will do for now. :-) I would love to hear any homeschooling tips that you might have!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Birthdays - A Fun Time to Have Company

 This has been a busy week. The weather has been lovely which means we are trying to get more done outside and we have had various things going on - one of them being the birthday of  Megan! So that is why I haven't posted much and today I planned on doing another hospitality post and so this one is - kind off. This is really a post about Megan's birthday but birthdays are a fun time to have company so that goes with hospitality too.

   We have never done the traditional birthday parties where you have over a bunch of kids the general age of the birthday child. There are several reasons that we haven't done that one of them being that we just like to have family events usually rather than age segregated events and also I dislike hosting a party (at least for someone in my family) that causes somebody to feel they have to give something. So generally our birthday parties are pretty much family parties and we may include some others but they aren't necessarily of the birthday child's age.

   This evening we had our final party for watching "Cabin Fever" a reality show that my brother is in and so that and Megan's birthday were combined.

  Our family gives birthday gifts in the morning before breakfast. Megan has wanted a typewriter for a couple of years and this year I managed to find one (a used one in good condition for only $15 at a local thrift store). I was so excited! So was the rest of the family as they knew how much Megan wanted one. We were really looking forward to her getting it. She was definitely excited! Typewriters are the new rage around here. Both Jonathan and my Mom are now wanting one too. Everybody else had fun typing on it as well.

  Today Megan wanted waffles for breakfast. I made them (and they were pretty yummy!) and they used up 4 eggs. That left us with only 7 left (we have not had so many eggs lately as they boys were saving them to put in the incubator for hatching) and Megan wanted an angel food cake. The recipe called for 11-12 eggs. 3 eggs were collected at the morning chore time but one was a duck egg and I was told that one was still needed for hatching  (Aaron's ruling but Megan agreed - it would be better to not have enough eggs for the cake then to go without getting another duck). So the boys kept checking the chicken pen. Jonathan found 2 eggs but then one broke when getting washed. Aaron found another egg but then it was broken too (we don't normally break so many but I guess today was the day for breaking them. Finally Mara just went ahead and made it with 10 eggs. I found the whole saga of the eggs pretty entertaining.

 The cake didn't get super tall but it was yummy anyway.
Tonight my niece Jaten got to be on the TV show too (as did my sister-in-law Holly). What fun to see them on TV.

  We had a fun day celebrating Megan's birthday!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why I Believe We Need to Confess

Romans 10:9 & 10 says: "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus Christ is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."

This seems to me such a clear and simple teaching in the Bible. We need to openly tell others that we believe Jesus Christ is Lord. Here are some more verses on this subject:

Philippians 2:9-11 "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Luke 12:8 " Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:"

So, today's thought is very simple and not hard but obviously something that is very important to God. Have you made this confession?


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