12.13.2016

QUIT...and I'll give your husband a better job


Living on One Income - The Prequel

Comment: "We aren’t living in luxury! We don’t have a large home, we don’t drive luxury cars, our kids are in public school, we don’t have maid service, and we don’t even go on vacations! There is no way we could make it on my husband’s income, but I WANT to be home!  What do I do?"

Over a decade ago I read an article by Patricia Chadwick called “Leading Me Home”.  I tried to contact her for permission to share the article, but my e-mail bounced back.  I hope she will not mind me sharing it.  This article was so encouraging to me that I wanted to share an excerpt:

“While we didn't live an extravagant lifestyle, my husband's wage was low, and his work was seasonal. In my mind, there was no way I could quit my job. Over and over again I would feel the Lord prompting me to become a homemaker. I would hear Him speak to me when I read the Bible. I would hear His voice when I heard a sermon. In my time of prayer and devotions, I would feel Him prompting me to trust Him to take care of me. I would cry out to Him, "But Lord, you don't understand! Give my husband a better job and I will gladly quit!" He would gently respond, "Quit, and I will give your husband a better job!" This struggle went on for over a year. It then became clear to me that there was a lesson I needed to learn. I had to learn to "live by faith."

…I discussed it with my husband and we made the decision. I would give up my job and I would trust God to supply our needs. Once it was decided, a peace flooded my soul. Somehow I knew God would be faithful and honor His promises to me because of my choice to follow His will for my life.

I have never regretted taking that step of faith and trusting God to supply my family's needs. I cannot say it has always been an easy road to travel. My husband could not find a better job at first and finances became very tight.  I had to learn how to live very frugally. I was tempted more than a few times to turn back, but God always assured me He would provide. And provide He did. My family never went without. God always supplied all our needs. Eventually God did provide my husband with a year-round job with benefits.  He showed Himself to be faithful in numerous ways…”

At the time I read her article, I was working full-time, and my husband was only working part-time.  He had been going to school and was content to work part-time.  But then we decided to have children, and we both knew we wanted me at home.  But what to do?  How in the world could we ever get by without my income?

I got pregnant and told my bosses I either needed to quit, or go part-time.  Then I lost the baby.  But that was even more incentive to work less.  Less stress.  I kept repeating to myself, “Quit…and I’ll give your husband a better job.”  Three months later I became pregnant again. 

We began to live on less by cutting out the obvious extras, but it was apparent there would be no way we could make it on just his income.  Major changes would have to happen.  I felt shaky, wondering how this would work out and if God would really provide when it was time to turn in my notice. (“Quit…and I’ll give your husband a better job.”) 

I found a replacement for my position, but kept my option to return to work open.  After all, Patty was the one who heard God say “Quit…and I’ll give your husband a better job” – not me.  And they offered me a bonus to come back in a new position!  At my shower, a female boss told me that the first few weeks back would be heart-wrenching, but that I’d get over it. 

Would he find full-time work?  He’d been part-time for years!  First he had cared for his grandma, and then had gotten a Masters degree, but no one was hiring in his field. 

We had a shaky four months of learning to live on less, wondering how in the world we would be able to make it if he couldn’t find full-time work.  And then, even if he did, it would still be way less than what we were accustomed to. 

Yet, four months after I went to half pay, my husband’s long-time (29 years!) co-worker just up and quit and my husband was offered a full-time position!  We were so surprised that he was able to remain at his company and did not have to find new work.  We were elated that the offer came before the baby.  So we had another four months of my income to pay off my car, pay off all credit-card debts, and pay my midwife her $4,000.  This was so surprising to me…I had been doubtful but hoping.  I had expected God to lead him to a job the day before (or after) the baby came. 

We did our best - we prepared, lived frugally, rarely ate out, planned, budgeted and lived simply.  But our savings quickly ran out.  Four months after baby, we were looking at my returning to work.  Saying no, but not understanding how we could possibly make ends meet. 

So I cried out to God to help me and He did amazing things.  Surprisingly, my job called the next day and asked if I’d like to work from home a few hours a week.  A new law had gone into effect, and they needed someone they could trust to oversee that employees were complying online.  I wasn’t needed in the office.  Clients would never call me.  It was doable while baby napped or when hubby was home at night.  A new job had been created due to government regulations – something I could never, ever, have planned for or asked for.  I was the first person to work from home.  They chose me after I cried out to God and I believe God planted my name in their ears.  It was just enough to keep me at home.

And then He began teaching me, guiding me to resources on a different way to live (thank you Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies), showing me how to live on less.  

IF you are a Christian (for I can only speak to Christians – I know nothing about the spiritual laws of other religions), then our Bible, in Titus chapter 2, says we are to be keepers at home.  That means you can rely to God to help you.  And it is super scary because we do not know how He is going to do it.  But God knows your heart and your circumstances.  If you don’t want to be at home, that is fine by me.  But if you do, cry out, plan and prepare all you can, then walk in faith.  Let God guide your steps.

For ME, it began with DOING all of those things I outlined on my posts Living on One Income and My Top Grocery Shopping Tips.  

For ME, it began by paying off all unsecured debt and my car before I came home.

For ME, it began by working from home, where my hours decreased every year until during the fourth year I pleaded with God to help me live only on my DH’s income (I was laid off within a week).

I had to create a budget and a Bill Paying Calendar.  Without it I lived in confusion.

I read and implemented the steps in Your Money or Your Life.  

I stopped buying things I thought I had needed.  See What I Don't Use and Other Thrifty Tips.

I did the uncomfortable things like changing my levels on insurance, especially switching to being a "pleasure driver," and changing insurance companies.

For me, it means attending homeschooling meetings that have a “free” table.  I receive almost everything I want for free or greatly reduced from thrift or consignment stores.  (I say “want” and not “need” because all my needs are taken care of through our income.  It is my wants – clothing, toys, curriculum, books…that I need to find outside of our income.)

For me, it means praying it in.  Everything I want I pray about.  Once I prayed for a light under my kitchen cabinet.  I never expected it to show up on a free table.  But it came and I’m still using it, years later.  My son prayed for a $100 stuffed animal that of course we said no to.  He found it at a thrift store, brand new, for $4.

For me, it means selling used clothes and toys to Children’s Orchard, or books and toys on e-bay, and getting what I (or my son) want in return.

You get the picture.  This is what I do. Where there is a will, there is a way, and God can lead YOU down it, if you will follow.  This post feels inadequate, because I do not have YOUR answers.  I just know it is possible, because I, and the majority of my new friends, do it, in a high-priced area, on very little. All of my friends are in the same financial boat, but we share with each other what our excesses are.  God knows what we need and He provides it beautifully.  If I was working, I'd miss His provision.

May God bless you as you walk in HIS way.   It is doable.   Begin.

(I’m hoping to write soon on: Can I really trust God to lead me, provide for us and help me come home?, the book There’s No Place Like Home, and some of my answered prayers for finances during those first shaky years for encouragement.  I needed constant encouragement my first few years home.)

5.03.2016

Mom's Famous Sayings - Complete the Sentence

I did this complete the sentence "quiz" last mother's day and everyone had a lot of fun.  Feel free to copy and paste and make your own version for mother's day.  
(A. Sarnoff)
  1. If you don't stop, your face will _________. 
  2. I only have two ______________!
  3. Let me ______________ it and make it better.
  4. Go ask your _______________.
  5. Because I ______________.
  6. Because I'm your ______________.
  7. Get your hair out of your ____________.
  8. Eat it, it's ______________________.
  9. Don't put that in your ______________; you don't know where it's been!
  10. I don't care who _______________.
  11. If all your friends _________________, would you do it, too?
  12. You call that _____________?
  13. Clean your plate, there are ______________________.
  14. ______________ doesn't grow on trees.
  15. Don't ever forget that _________________________.
  16. You'll always be my _____________________.
www.keeping-house.blogspot.com

Possible answers (if giving away prizes YOU need to determine which answer you will accept as correct; sayings vary in different parts of the country/world)   
Mother is MY
pin-up girl!
(A. Sarnoff)
  1. Freeze or stay that way
  2. Hands
  3. Kiss
  4. Father
  5. I said so
  6. Mother
  7. Mouth or face
  8. Good for you
  9. Mouth
  10. Started it or said so or is going or they are
  11. Jumped off a cliff 
  12. Music or clean
  13. Starving children
  14. Money
  15. I Love You
  16. Baby / Boy / Girl / little angel
Happy Mother's Day!

4.27.2016

Easy Logic Test to Determine Math Readiness

Sallyedelsteincollage.com
There are two schools of thought in teaching young children: "Better Early Than Late" and "Better Late Than Early."  I fall into both camps. 

I agree with all those people who see that their preschoolers can memorize anything, and believe you should take this window (that closes around age 7 or 8) to help your child memorize Bible verses, the times tables, helping verbs, and other pertinent life facts. 

At age four, my son (like your child) was memorizing a favorite video.  When my husband was aged 4-8 he inadvertently memorized commercials (and can win all jingle contests at parties).  When I was that age we went to church three times a week, and so without trying to, I memorized hymns (for which I am forever grateful!). 

But I didn't want my son memorizing The Three Little Pigs video!  So we began Classical Conversations, and I'm glad we did.  He (we) learned a lot.  Their timeline song is amazing! It has been so helpful in our school work.  Beginning CC with your 4-6 year old is an example of Better Early than Late.  So is teaching them to read and write, do skip counting or memorize addition, subtraction, or multiplication songs.

One homeschool company is very vocal in saying it is ridiculous to memorize when the child doesn't know what it means, but I disagree.  We learn many things by rote before we can understand what they mean.  Bible verses, theology, nursery rhymes, the states, hymns, abc's, helping verbs, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights.  I had to memorize the Preamble and Bill of Rights in middle school, but had no idea what they really meant.  Thank you "School House Rock" for your grammar and history songs!  I may have failed 7th grade without you.

Sallyedelsteincollage.com
The idea of Better Early Than Late is to learn as much as you can while the window of easy memorization that God gave our brains to learn language is open.  Missionaries who took their children to a foreign country discovered the ability of their children to learn the native language easily.  Maria Montessori recognized the value of Better Early Than Late training 100 years ago when poor city women left their pre-school aged children with her, thus beginning our preschools.  And it is a great idea.

YET, there is a really good reason that the majority of states do not require Kindergarten.  Six is usually the legal age to begin school.  150 years ago the age was 7.  These people realized that children forget what they learn (unless truly memorized and gone over often, such as favorite songs, or the abc's), and that you are constantly re-teaching a child and it takes a long time for them to grasp a concept.  This is very true.  So these people say do not teach language or math concepts to a child before second, third, or fourth grade, depending on the child.  And they are correct.   Why take a month to teach a concept, when you wait a year and it takes two weeks, or wait two years and it takes one week, or wait three years and they understand in only a day's lesson?  These are the Better Late Than Early proponents.

Go ahead and teach your child what he is naturally learning, memorizing, grasping, wanting to know, and the "grammar" of things (such as abcs, math facts without concepts, possibly how to read, the songs about nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.), just don't expect him to be able to USE the facts yet.

Why pull out your hair with explanations that their brains cannot yet grasp?  That is how God made their brains....THEY HAVEN'T REACHED THE LOGIC STAGE yet!   So no amount of teaching or review will help.  They will be frustrated and think they are stupid, and you will be frustrated and stupid, too, for trying to force the impossible.

Schools took the guidelines given to them by people who studied how children learned and said, "Well, if they are ready at eight, let's just give them a preview of adjectives, nouns, conjugations, geometry, and algebra now to prepare them."  They totally didn't get that the child's brain IS NOT READY to learn these things.  The introduction of these concepts make our children CRY over their math and reading and spelling and geography and language arts.   A few children (especially older kids and girls) in the class do well, and so that becomes the norm.  

Is your child crying over a subject?  You need to STOP that subject.  Or he will feel like a failure at it his whole life.  People often say they aren't good at math.  But, if as adults, they retake math (especially while homeschooling their own kids), they discover that they CAN do it after all.  It was simply a case of not being ready....not being "stupid."

So here is the super simple logic test that schools were given decades ago that they never implemented, but which has been passed on in homeschool books since the 1960's:

You only need 4 things: 
  1. Your child's favorite drink
  2. A short, fat glass
  3. A tall, skinny glass
  4. A measuring cup
Pour the soda/juice into the measuring cup and tell him "I am measuring 4 ounces, see?"  Then pour it into the short, fat glass.  Show him you are measuring another 4 ounces and pour it into the tall, skinny glass.

Then ask him which glass he wants.

When my son was six, he said he wanted the tall, skinny glass. 

"Why?"
"Because it has more in it."

End of experiment.  My child has NOT reached the logic stage and teaching him math is a waste of my time, or the teacher's time, or the remedial teacher's time, and especially, of my child's time.  It is physically impossible for him to "get it."  One day he will remember that 1 + 2 = 3, but the next day he won't understand that  2 + 1 = 3.  Because he doesn't get it.  He can't.  His brain isn't there yet.  He's not stupid.  If you force it and frustrate him he will feel stupid to the point of giving up and declaring a self-fulfilling prophecy that he is never going to be good at math.  
Sallyedelsteincollage.com

Age 7 I repeated the experiment.  I showed him beforehand that the measurements were the same.  He chose the tall, skinny glass because "it has more."  I did not try and explain afterwards "but they are the same!" in an exasperated, whiny mom voice.  I just let him drink his soda. 

We practiced our skip counting but we did NOT do any math worksheets.  When I had earlier tried to introduce them he cried.  I stopped at the wise counsel of Carole Joy Seid, Mary Hood, PhD., and Dr. Raymond & Dorothy Moore (you can google them all for their books, pamphlets, CD's, DVD's, etc.)

At age 8 I once again did the experiment at the beginning of the school year. 
He once again chose the tall, skinny glass.

"Why?"

"Well, I KNOW that both glasses have the same amount of soda in them, but the tall, skinny glass LOOKS like it has more, so that is the one I want."

My child was ready for math! And there has been no crying! 

Oscar Ramos illustration
At age 10 there was a little whining when we transferred over to memorizing the multiplication tables (which is why I wish we had not done skip counting and had just memorized the table, but oh well).  With math sheets three times a week, and slowly learning the tables, he is doing GREAT in math! 

At age 10, he is doing 3rd grade math, 5th grade language arts, 6th grade spelling, 8th grade reading, and 10th grade history.  He taught himself how to type.  He taught himself about how computers work.  Should I worry that he is "behind" in math?  Behind by whose standards?  He will never forget the steady foundation of the math he is learning well, right on HIS schedule.

If your child is crying over any subject, stop that subject and focus on what he does well.  Wait one year before re-introducing the troublesome subject again.  God bless!

********
UPDATE May 3, 2016:  I just found this article from Trivium Pursuit that goes into detail about what I was trying to convey:

http://www.triviumpursuit.com/blog/2016/04/17/delaying-formal-math-3/trackback/

3.14.2016

Stuffication! Thoughts and Books on Decluttering.

Decluttering happens in layers.  Thirteen years ago our house was so stuffed from inherited items that we had no space, and the fixer-upper house we had was a bit dismal.
Then we had a baby.  First borns come with a lot of stuff!

Through concentrated effort I was able to remove all the stuff we didn't use regularly into one bedroom and one large patio room, plus storage over the garage.

Layer one was gone through.  We could breathe again.

Then two more grandparents went to heaven.  We received a truck load of furniture and stuff.  Beautiful stuff, that brought back memories.  It was so hard to let go of my grandmother's rocking chair.  The extra tv. The china. The fridge magnets. The "good" (unused) towels.

Despite letting many things go, we managed to refill all the empty places.

I kept going forward with my routines of caring for baby and cleaning.  I stayed out of thrift stores, but not consignment baby stores!  I'd drop off a load and bring home a new load!  It was wonderful, and cheap.  I'd do it once a month.  It satisfied my shopping desires and kept me out of debt.  But no real decluttering was done.

When an uncle died, we were again the designated ones to clean out his apartment.  But we were proactive and contacted Salvation Army for a Monday pick-up.  Stuff filled our living and dining room.  We sorted for hours.  We gave away half, and put half into our patio room turned shed!

WHY?  Too good to give away?  Too hard to part with, even though it was free to us and we didn't need it yesterday?  Why did we feel compelled to keep a whole video library of movies we'd already seen?

When decluttering king Don Aslett said it IS painful to declutter, I finally realized that I just needed to face the pain!  Feel the pain and do it anyway!  So now, empty spaces are opening up again. For most people, decluttering isn't easy. So don't berate yourself.

To motivate me, I read quite a few books from the library.  I would read, and let something go.  Rest and read, go through papers.  Rest and read, put something on freecycle.... donate books to the library for their sale.... take a box to AmVets .... take items to my favorite thrift store.   A few things I even sold on ebay.

Freecycle and ebay were the best for me because I knew the items were going directly to people who wanted them.  A friend took teacups.  Our uncle's John Wayne lamp went to a JW admirer on Freecycle. Some people even took broken clocks, mended milk glass platters, dusty old books...

The biggest thing I had to learn was just to GIVE.  Not think about the monetary value I had placed on an item, just give it.

Now I'm ready for yet another layer!  Plus, I'm decluttering the patio room!  And it is almost done!  I may even put up before and after pictures.

I'm blessed to have a neighbor who is downsizing her five-bedroom home to move into a log cabin 3000 miles away.  We e-mail regularly and talk on Fridays to encourage each other.  We boast about our successes, and commiserate about what was painful to let go.  We spur each other on to the next room, and the next layer.

Now that I have realized decluttering never ends, I no longer feel so out of control or behind.  My house will never look perfect or like a magazine but that is okay!

Here are the favorite books I read in the past few months that did me good (they are in no particular order):
  1. Secrets of an Organized Mom by Barbara Reich
  2. Organic Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck (the yellow cover with the lemon)
  3. Absolutely Organized by Debbie Lillard
  4. Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer (great for men, too!)
  5. The Messies Manual by Sandra Felton
  6. Don't be a Slave to Housework by Pam McClellan
  7. Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deneice Schofield
  8. Organizing for Life - Declutter Your Mind to Declutter Your Life by Sandra Felton
  9. The Money Saving Mom's Budget (best book on finances I've ever read...I did all those things she talks about and that is why we are debt-free today) by Crystal Paine
  10. Simple Living Handbook: Discover the Joy of a De-Cluttered Life by Lorilee Lippincott 
  11. The Clutter Cure by Judi Culbertson (I may just have to buy this one!)
  12. Unstuff by Hayley and Michael DiMarco
  13. For Packrats Only, and Clutter's Last Stand, both by Don Aslett
These books can be found in the 648 section of your library, or buy online.

Final Thoughts

We are called to give.  Tell them to use their money to do good.  They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 1 Timothy 6:18

Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need. Proverbs 21:13

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.  Proverbs 3:27

Remember, it IS painful to let go.  Recognize it and do it anyway!

God's blessings on you as you G I V E !



3.10.2016

Wife, or Mistress?

Awhile ago I went to an outdoor spa and resort with a vivacious, outgoing, and beautiful friend.
Arthur Sarnoff

She was also a big flirt.  I was used to her coy behavior, but that day I cringed at her flirtatious ways.   I was embarrassed by all of the men's remarks to her.

But one man was surprisingly honest...and hurtful.

When she batted her lashes and cooed, "But would you marry me?"...fully expecting his answer to be a flirtatious "Yes!", he instead laughed and replied, "Marry you?  No, I would not marry you.  I would marry your friend.  She would be a good wife.  You would be a great mistress."

Shocked, she exited the pool and I found her in the locker room crying, "I am not wife material!  I am mistress material!  That is why my boyfriends don't marry me!  Why can't I find a good man?"

Good men, and good women, are to be found though...in the right places.  Do you really want to meet your man in a bar? My mate would never have met me there….and I would never have found him there. 

To young working women:  Be careful of how you act.  Be mindful of how you dress.  Watch your language.  When I worked and had lunch downtown, there was one year when I couldn't tell office working women from the street working women, because leather skirts, low cut tops,  and ugly thigh high boots were the fashion.   Men who are looking to get married and have a family do not want easy women.  (And yes, these men still exist.)

Set a higher standard.  Value yourself.  Don't give in to sleazy fashion.  Don't just go with the crowd.  Set yourself apart.  

Realize that there are two types of men:  Those who want wives, and those who want mistresses.  Don't be the mistress!  Ask any woman who was the mistress, and then the wife, why she is now divorced.  Because he found a new mistress.  

Magazines portray the mistress life as full of fun.  But it isn't.  It leads down a dark road, and you get none of the blessings.  

A marriage that includes the Trinity is filled with blessings a mistress will never get.

Choose your male friends carefully.  Because friends become boyfriends, and boyfriends become husbands.  

Choose well!