What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Sunday, March 02, 2008

February Review


How are my Resolutions coming these days?

Overall, February lost some of it's thunder. I was a bit disappointed, after looking through it all~but still some good came from it all.

Budgeting:


*** The Good ***

~
I am so stocked up with diapers right now that I would be set for months if I couldn't get to a store-and I didn't spend more than silverchange on them (through CVS and ECB's)-I am getting rid of all my cloth diapers. No use going to so much trouble if I can get disposable's for free. (Nothing against cloth, I am just lazy. Pure and simple.)

~ Continue to use CVS for non-food items and have continued to shop at Save-Alot. Grocery bills were slightly elevated-but still far under the original $100.00 I spent on average in 2007.

~ I noticed that for a while there, the ONLY stores I went to were Save Alot, CVS and occasionally Walmart (with a list to keep me focused.) I stopped going to peruse Target (one of my favorite stores), I stopped heading to the mall just to get out of the house, I stopped going to the discount stores and thrift stores. This kept a tremendous amount of money in our accounts that would have otherwise been spent. I didn't realize, until I did the math, how much money I had been spending on small, clearance splurges here and there each week. Now I know, though. :-)

~I set up a tax appointment and THIS year, MATT is doing it (while I am in Indiana. Wa-ha hahaha.)

***The Bad ***

~ CVS has been scrimping on coupons and deals, so my ECB stash is all used up. Whaaaaah! X(

~ We took all the money out of our house fund. Yep. You read that right. The BIGGEST No-No ever and what I vowed I wasn't going to do. But, we found some vicious bit of debt, hiding out and Matt felt it important to squish it out completely, if we were able...which we were, ONLY by taking out our house fund money. I was very upset. But-through no extra spending, I was able to put nearly the same amount BACK in afterwards, so it is nearly at the point it was at. The bad part to me, is thinking about the total amount we would have if I had added that amount of money WITHOUT cleaning out the old balance. We would be doing EXCELLENT in our house fund then...but I won't dwell. Learning is a process.

*** The Ugly (meaning: What I Need to do) ***

~I need to get the grocery bill back down to the $40.00. If I did it before, I ought to be able to do it again and I might be able to scrimp it down further, if I really try. Baby steps, though.

~ Still no retirement fund, emergency fund or adoption fund worth talking about. Gotta start setting money aside for those things. I think the plan of attack is going to be this:
Save $1,000.00 for moving expenses (the inevitable approaches) THEN, when that is done...
Save $1,500.00 for emergency fund. After those two funds are 'full', money can start going toward retirement and adoption. I really wish it could all go toward adoption right now, though.

~ I need to improve on making weekly meal plans. Doing so helps me to avoid the nagging "Let's get Pizza" temptation, which I still struggle with. I just bet it will help me stretch that budget even more, too.

~Never got to selling off many of the extra items I need to get rid of, with the exception of a few craft books. (Thanks ladies!) Must do that in March.

~ I want to look into an ING Direct account. I have heard great things. Does anyone have any input about them?

Schooling:

***The Good, the Bad AND the Ugly***

Honestly, not much to say here. We keep chugging along, mucking our way through ill-planned lessons. I have discovered that I need to have written out lesson plans to follow. At this point in my young, naive, homeschooling Mama-teacher career, it has been established that I need direction. Corynn is not reading yet, but it is no wonder. Some days we work on individual letters and sounds, some days we opt for the sight words or common endings, -at, -og, -igh, etc. Nothing is building upon itself, nothing is worked through to the end. No wonder the girl is confused. I am confused! :-)

I have decided to take the month of March off of school (without feeling guilty about it...) After all, she isn't REALLY school age, anyway.) Ha. And now you know my great faulty, ever-to-common rationalization for not doing school....

With all the preparations that go into a long trip, and then being away for a week enjoying ourselves ON that long trip, then coming home and having Easter and all the other things that are filling up the month, I don't foresee any real time to do bona fide school. So-Corynn is getting a break from actual, sit-down schooling. I, on the other hand, plan to use this month to get my act together.

Here is what I need to accomplish:

...Plan a weekly schedule. Need to find the best way to include all that I want to accomplish without it being overwhelming for Corynn OR myself.

...Need to investigate, save up for, order, and receive supplies to start with a vengeance come April 1st. This includes book lists from library but is not limited to: library books, art supplies, science material, and Saxon Math.

...Need to read the Well Trained Mind, as a refresher, or at least the chapters pertaining to our situation.

*** In Other News ***

Since I am already laying it all out there for all to see, I might as well finish off with a bang.

Exercise: I am happy to report that I have exercised half the month away in February! This is good news...but still, I don't SEE any change in my weight, which is VERY discouraging. To say the least. I am glad to be diligent, but hate doing so with no real positive change. I guess I need to do more than just exercise to lose this weight. Ugh.

Organization: Did lots of organizing in February, but seems like there is always still more! When will it ever stop?!? :-)

Personal Devotions: Did alright, have enjoyed listening to lots of online sermons, reading sermon notes, and of course, the Bible. I still don't find time to make it a daily priority though-which disappoints me.

Early to Rise: I wake up with Matt quite often and enjoy it fully, when I am actually awake. The getting out of bed part is what stinks. It is SO cold in the house! While I do a good job at times, I still need to do more. My personal goal is to wake up with him EVERY morning.

Sewing: I have gotten quite a bit of sewing done last month but have given it all away to people, so I haven't made a dent in my Etsy store. It's a shame, I just can't seem to keep it up like many of my friends do.

Well, there ya have it. My resolutions as lived out in the month of February, in a nutshell. As you can see, it wasn't that productive of a month, in terms of goals. :-)

Here's hoping for more productive March!








16 comments:

FARMERS WIFE said...

Hi Rebecca, I don't think I've written too many comments on here, but I thought I'd tell you not only do I read, but you and I share a lot in common :) I also wanted to tell you that if you're on facebook, there's a little contest called world photos at this link:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2408306949
OR just search "World Photo Contest"
I thought maybe you'd like to enter a few of your photos..you're getting so good at them!! I'm hoping to get better too, but the cold weather and foot of snow and hindering me:) I was just sent photoshop and can't wait to find the time to devote to learning some new tricks!
Anyway Take care!
Leanne

Anonymous said...

Boy! Does that ever fall into the "ask and ye shall receive category!" :)

I think you did well.....after all, there always needs to be more to work toward. :) And, while I know it was so hard, I think the right choice was made to get rid of the debt....in the long run you will be that much further ahead.

Enjoy your trip!!
Melissa

Dana said...

Hi, Rebecca!

First of all, I'm with ya on everything you wrote!

Our homeschooling has been NADA lately. But I tell myself, just as you do, that Katie is only 4 so she's not really of school age just yet--and then I try to cut myself some slack. Some days it works, and some days it doesn't.

I've stopped going to Goodwill just to look around. It's easy to drop off stuff and bring home as much as you took!

And what's with CVS lately? I have no ECBs either. :-(

As far as adoption goes...are you trying to do an international adoption or a domestic adoption through a private agency? Both of our girls were adopted through the foster care system. We did end up paying around $2500 for both adoptions (total), but that's not the norm. (Our county really stalled and we had to have depostions, etc. Long story.) A good many of adoptions in Indiana qualify for adoption assistance. The state pays $1500 of the expenses per child, which is usually enough to cover everything. Pennsylvania probably has something similar. I know your parents are foster parents so you probably know all about this stuff anyway!

Where are you coming to in Indiana? If you're anywhere close, I'd love to meet up with you! Drop me a line at my personal email if you'd like: abbersmom@yahoo.com

Blessings--
Dana

Andie said...

Is it resolution reporting time already? I know, I know...I need to get my report done. But with such a stinky weekend, I just haven't felt like it. I will do it later tonight, or possibly tomorrow after my MASSAGE!!! I absolutly can't wait! Now, if only I can get Bethany into the doctor at some time OTHER than my massage appt. time!

Blessings-Andie

Lindsey said...

I have this fear as a newbie homeschool mamma that my kids wont know how to read. My oldest is 6 and yes he is reading. A bit of an accomplishment. But I think as a new homeschooler too I set the bar highter than I could get to and when failed I felt like a totall failure at the whole thing. I bought the christian libery press's kindergarden packet. And the lesson plans were all there, teacher books and everything. We just chug away at it and i dont really choose how much we need to get done in a day. With the baby or toddler she likes to "help". But I felt MUCH more organized and I didnt even do anything. Anway I hope you have a productive march! Hopefully we will too :)

Elizabeth said...

I think you are still doing a great job, sticking to your guns, and getting many of the things accomplished you set out to do in the first place! Be encouraged of all you have done thus far!!!

Father's Grace Ministries said...

Hi Rebecca,
I'm just starting out homeschooling myself here in Queensland Australia.Our eldest daughter is just 6- Year 1 here. We have pulled her out of Christian school for various reasons after having her do the prep year twice.
We are homeschooling on an extremely low budget, using mainly 2nd hand classic literature, Christian books, 2nd hand homeschool workbooks and the internet.
The best resource I've found for reading is http://donpotter.net/ed.htm
I read all about teaching phonics and are bit by bit printing out his Blend Phonics Reader, which is a list of words in different sound groupings for the child to sound out. After using this for 3 weeks - a few lines per day- my daughter is reading simple books and attempting to sound out other words.I'm trying to avoid sight-words as much as possible, as her school used this method- and it made her very lazy, relying on her memory, and not attempting anything new. Sorry to rave on, I'm just very excited with how this method has helped our child in such a short period of time.
God bless
Claire
Ps I really enjoy your blog! It's a real blessing!

Tracy said...

Rebecca,

It sounds as though your budgeting is going VERY well. Good for you!When people say they love thrift stores and garge sales I cringe. Not because those things are bad, or I am above them, but they don't realize how much they are spending on unnecessary items. To buy something unneeded because it's cheap is still wasting money.

School. I'm not saying that you SHOULDN'T follow the Well Trained Mind, but you should probably look into something that offers a schedule. Sonlight is WONDERFUL. Pricey, but you can find it used on the internet, and you can find most of the books at the library, which would save you even more. If you could just put your hands on the teachers manual, that would be great. I'll look to see what I have for younger children.

Sounds like overall, you're doing well. Keep your chin up!

Leah said...

Rebecca,

Is your food budget per week? You didn't mention that but I'm guessing that's what you mean.

Leah said...

Sorry! I should've added that I also think you're doing a great job! :)

Mom2fur said...

I think you are doing remarkably well in all aspects! And I agree, Corynn's a bit young for school. What's the hurry for her to read? I said this before...she's probably got 100 years of life ahead of her, LOL! Relax, mama. Everything will work out.
Good for you on the grocery shopping. I agree about CVS--they've been pretty crummy lately as far as ECBs. (The cheapskates!)I think, though, that the quarterly one comes up April 1st, so be on the lookout for it.

Rebecca said...

Farmers Wife~ thanks for commenting! I will look into that, the problem is actually following through. It can be discouraging if you start 'competing'. Because my photo's really aren't competition worthy, and won't be for a LONG time...

Melissa~ask and ye shall receive! Actually, I had completely forgotten about doing it, so if you hadn't of reminded me, it wouldn't have gotten done. Thanks!

Dana~ Thanks for the comment! I am VERY familiar with the foster care program, as you know my parents are involved in it. While I recognize it would be FAR cheaper to adopt through Foster care (both my parents and now my sister have done so with no cost to them at all practically), Matt and I are both trying to avoid that method, for several personal reasons. Nothing against it, it just isn't right for us.

We are interested in international adoption, and have pretty much had our heart set on Africa (ever since I participated in a sewing seeds skirt project for the African orphanages...) But they are a TREMENDOUS amount of money~(I am hoping to get a boy and a girl (but I still have to convince Matt on that! hehehe)and Matt wants to be sure we have a HOUSE to bring them too first. So-it seems like it will be forever until we will actually bring them home. It is discouraging and makes me want to cry (I am a very impatient person, especially when lives are on the line...)

I am heading to Lafayette, IN and flying into the Indianapolis airport. I am at the total discretion of my houseguests. If you are near Indianapolis, we might be able to meet up at the airport on my way home...just a thought.

Claire~ Wow. THANK YOU so much for the wonderful reference! Right now I am struggling with seeing no real improvement, having such an amazing amount of improvement in such a short time would be JUST the ticket to get me motivated! Oh-and NEVER rave on about homeschooling. It is one of my MOST favorite topics and get thrilled with conversations about it! Especially success stories...GREAT job with your six year old!

Tracy~ Matt says that too. Saving money on things you wouldn't normally buy is still wasting money. I am still a yard sale/clearance junkie but I really do honestly try to buy only that which we need or that we want but couldn't afford otherwise. But as you said-there is a huge temptation, one that I often fall into. Glad to have numbers now hiding in the back of my mind, to remind me and keep me on track! A Well Trained Mind IS good, but you're right. I am NOT like her, I need (right now) direction. I will look into the Sonlight program. Thanks for the reference!

Leah~ The $40.00 is per week and includes food AND non-food items. We do A LOT of entertaining here and often have overnight houseguests. If this weren't so, I imagine we could cut back quite a bit, but I am more thankful for the open door. :-) Glad to hear your internet is fixed. It is nice to see you 'round these parts!

Mom2Fur~ I know I know. Matt and I love books and so does she. She is obsessed. We know that when she learns to read a whole new world is going to open up for her. She WANTS to read. That's the hurry, I guess. But, like you said, she is still very young and so I am not expecting an entire curriculum to be dumped on her. This year is just my practice year: getting us both disciplined to sit down every day in preparation for next year when we HAVE to (with state requirements.)

This week isn't so bad with CVS~I did pretty good~would have done even better if all of society hadn't rushed in from withdrawal and wiped out the store of their inventory! :-)

debbie said...

Hi Rebecca,

I am new to comment on your blog, but have been a reader for a while and I pray for you as you tackle so many issues. Your heart is SO sweet and honest. What a blessing to "visit" with you. I am a bit further down the homeschooling road (#3 just went away to college at age 17 -- sniff!) but I am still homeschooling #4(12) and #5(9). May I suggest you check out Miquon Math as a starter to Saxon? My kids started it in "kindergarten" and then graduated to Saxon 65 upon completion (around 2nd or 3rd grade). They enjoyed it SO MUCH and the skills acquired made the transition to Saxon a breeze. It's not for everyone as there are no "instructions/answer keys" for mom, but I sense from your blog that you could easily administer this curriculum and love it. Above all else ... ENJOY this journey of learning. All too soon Corynn will be nose-deep in a Little-House book and you will be sitting to the side saying, "When did THIS happen?" ;)

Blessings to you! Debbie

Shannon C said...

Hi there! I found you on homeschool lounge. I just wanted to comment that we have soooo much in common. This is also my first year hsing and I think about it and talk about it like all day long! I'm a little obsessive about "doing it right". The schedule thing kills me, I try, but usually fail b/c my kids sort of wander off on me! I need to go through your blog more to see if you have money saving tips b/c I am a ridiculous on a whim shopper and I spend waaaay too much on groceries. Anyway, my dd is 5 1/2 and ds is 4. My son is adopted from Guatemala. I'd love to adopt more if it weren't for finances. I look forward to reading more on your blog. Feel free to visit mine. :)

Blessings,
Shannon C

Lisa-O said...

Rebecca,
I'm a friend of Jean Marie. I hope to meet you next week. I read that you're ditching your cloth diapers. Do they have a new home yet? If you're interested in selling them (and avoiding shipping hassles) send me an e-mail through Jean, and we can talk.

Lisa

abigail said...

Great job!

Three long comments.
One: CVS was very kind to me this past week. I went to three different stores within a 15 minute radius and found just about everything I'd hoped to (just a plug for the Southern Tier CVS's; they'd love to see you).

Two: You probably already know this, but PA law sets the compulsory school age at age 8, which is crazy and wonderful compared to most states. If Corynn isn't beginning all first grade coursework next fall, you won't have to report to the state until she either reaches age eight or you begin full first grade curriculum, which I rightfully assume she'll begin before age eight! :)

NYS's compulsory age is six, so for this past year, I haven't had to report anything for Millie, even though she's technically been doing a bit of first grade coursework (Saxon 1, etc.). This fall, she'll be newly six and in first grade, so I have to begin sending in the paperwork then. Blah, says I!

Lastly, I really like the Phonics Museum, but I didn't use much of it apart from the manipulatives (linking, magnetic blends, etc.) for Millie because a bulk of it dealt with the alphabet phonograms, which was unnecessary for her. I ended up ordering just the phonogram cards and the spelling rules cards from Wanda Sanseri and Spell to Write and Read (whom Leah told me about). I ordered them through Back Home Industries, which was the cheapest place to find them. (For Annie, I'll use the Phonics Museum, but I still plan to couple it with the Sanseri phonogram cards, as we found them very useful.)

With Corynn's sharp memory (i.e. Heckedy Peg!), she'd breeze through the phonogram memorization. I know you've got the WRTR, and that includes all the phonograms, but flashcards might help, too, if you don't already use them.