Friday, July 30, 2010

More Debt Thoughts

The other day I passed on some Dave Ramsey stuff that had struck me.

In case you wondered if I was as smart as the people actually FOLLOWING the "car-payment-into-mutual-fund" plan, no.  Our budget doesn't have room for a $500 mutual fund deposit any more than it does a $500 car payment. :)  And who knows what mutual funds are doing these days, or will do...  I'm a little fearful myself...!

We are no strangers to debt, yet my natural cheapskate frugal tendencies have always served us very well in that area.  Our Camry, Mary Jane, had a payment for exactly 2 years.  She was used, of course, but we did finance her for 4 1/2 years, obviously paying her off early.  The payment was NOT $500, more like $275, but it was still debt.  I want to say the original pricetag was just under 12K or 13K.  Before that we drove a $2700 1989 Buick Century (that we pretty much gave away to someone in need when we got Mary Jane), and before that a 1985 Toyota Celica my dad had bought for $1800.  I think we sold it for a slim $700 to a family member, and a few owners later bought/dragged it back for $100.  Hubby has the engine stashed as a "spare" for his truck *sigh*, and the carcass is part of our Redneck Playground out front. ;)  The $900 tires that my grandma put on it had been swiped by a tire shop from one of the interim owners that was a bit clueless.  *double sigh*

How might our lives have been different had we gone out as newlyweds and bought a NEW car?  I can't even imagine.  We probably wouldn't have been able to buy our first little $53,000 home when we were married 6 months.  We certainly wouldn't have been able to step up into this MUCH bigger home and property.  Would we still be in that 500-square-foot apartment?  Would we have our four daughters??  Would we have been able to write a check for our (used!) van to seat them all?  Would I be able to stay at home and homeschool our children, if we had them???  Yikes, those are scary questions that no one but God really knows the answer to.  And I know it's by His very grace that we are where we are.  It's not by our own wisdom or skill!

I think about the rule of debt in people's lives.  I have seen it so often!  By some miracle I escaped two years of private college with something like $5,000 in debt.  It still took YEARS to pay off, but you know what?  There were other girls there whose course of life was considerably altered by the debt they had incurred for their "good, Christian education."  Most got married during or just after college, eventually had a baby... one in particular really, really wanted to stay home with that baby.  But you know what?  They couldn't make it happen.  I don't know the details of their budget, and whether I'd have made the same decision or not, but that student loan was a definite factor (he had one too, of course).  Ouch.  That baby would have had a different early childhood, had his Mama made different choices years before his birth.  That is so wild to me.  And so heavy.

I don't want to sound like I'm on some high-horse because we mostly eschew debt.  On the contrary, money is only one element in life, and there are certainly other things, other ways to enslave ourselves.  What am I planting today, what am I promising or dedicating myself to that will limit my options in the future?  Am I cultivating habits that could become bondage?  Am I killing relationships God would open up to blessing eventually?  In what areas am I choosing a "quick fix" to an end, that will cost me more later?  Esau sold his birthright - his future, the provision of possible generations!! - to soothe one day's hunger.  Where am I doing the same?

Lord, show us where we can make choices that open up our future instead of hindering what plans You may have for us.  Give us wisdom and strength to choose wisely, and always seek Your will* above our own.

*I don't mean to imply that God's will for us individually is ALWAYS no-debt.  My own dad claims to have followed God's instructions buying a (new!) car (on debt!) several years back.  While it flies in the face of my own black/white understanding and preference, it seems to have borne fruit, and I can in no way claim anything otherwise.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Independence Day was spent here at home, with my folks and their kids who visited, and Dad helping us with one of my hair-brained projects (is it 'hare' - brained?).  Hubby spent a whopping $15 or so and got a small package of something loud, and a lot of sparklers.  After roasting hot dogs and making s'mores with homemade graham crackers (oh. my. goodness.  I'll never use store-bought ones again.), Hubby busted out his purchases.  With five kids on-site (not counting Baby who is yet a bit young for such activities), he turned on a torch (butane? propane? oxy-acetylene?  I know not which.) and lit sparklers, one after the other, handing them off to eager hands in constant rotation.  We tried to keep the kids out of the dry grass, and from running into each other with flaming hot wire spears.  We mostly succeeded in both areas.

I got out my camera and tried some slow shutter speeds, and caught some interesting photos.

The kids couldn't believe things looked so different on the camera!

Honey, you can wave it around a bit, dance or something..

Hubby tried a few tricks:

Nice expression, dear...

Here the kids are dancing about the backyard.  I love the sky.

You can't see the kids.. I'm not even sure just how many are represented there!  They had great fun, and only one collision-resulting-in-minor-burn incident among them.  :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Live Life or Drive Fancy

I was listening to Dave Ramsey last night, and he started out his broadcast with a rant about cars and car payments.  He said a whole lot, but the thing that stuck with me was that if you took the average car payment (I think he said $484.. holy cow, that's more than the mortgage on our first home was!), and instead of "always having a payment*" invested it in some good mutual funds, from age 30 to 60 or 70 (I don't recall which), that fund would have... millions in it.  Millions, people!  Wow.

Today on facebook, Dave Ramsey linked to a short video that explains how you can get your dream car (and even a millionaire-retirement!) while avoiding the 25% hit when you drive off the lot (this is obviously for a 'new' car), all without having to walk everywhere. :)

The video is here.

*Believe it or not, I had never heard this "conventional wisdom" until a few years back when my mother-in-law mentioned it.  She said something like, "you know how they say you'll always have a car payment...?"  I had to look blankly for a moment, because I really didn't know "they" said that!  I had only briefly lived that way, and it certainly hadn't been the norm in my family.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How To Mop A Floor

Assemble this in the area needing mopped:

Wait for, and allow plenty of this:

Incidentally, if you follow it up with a lazy mopping job, or delay it a while (since your other young one is sleeping and can't make a worse mess), it also becomes "How To Need A New Floor."


It's either 700 square feet of quality sheet vinyl, installed, or a cheap area rug.  I'm thinking the budget prefers the latter...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Well That's No Good.

UPDATE:  Ok, new look established, new header (photo I took a week or two ago).  What do you think?

Who turned out the lights?

How long have they been out?

What?  Maybe if I checked here more often I'd know?

Hmm... someone apparently removed my nifty background.  Which needed replacing and updating anyway, but there is LAUNDRY to do here, grasshoppers and squash bugs with whom to wage war, and an energetic toddler that aspires to be the death of me.

I'll get to it shortly, I hope...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Goings On 'Round Here

I lament the sporadic posting.  Can you tell it's been BUSY around here?  Just a little bit...

crooked horizon

I've been working towards getting our homeschool materials in order for the year.  A little.  It turns out that this takes more brainpower than I seem to be able to devote at any one time.  Eleven PM is good, when Baby finally (usually) is down, but by then I'm all but spent too, and hence the brainpower thing...

Baby has been off-and-on dealing with a fever.  It has helped her develop a not-so-nice habit of waking up at night.  Like, at 1:00 and 2:30, 3:45, 6:00 and 7:30.  Toss in Organique wetting her bed at 3:15 and my nights are nearly as busy as my days!  Of course, had I the forethought to have taken Organique from her bed to the potty at either 1:00 or 2:30 and I'd have earned myself an extra 1/2 hour of sleep that night!

Big Sister got something in her eye the other day that necessitated a trip to the Doc-in-the-Box (we found it at 5:05 pm, of course).  It wouldn't rinse out, and was lodged just in front of the iris of her eye (what is that, the cornea?).  As it turned out, he did not have the equipment to get it out of her eye safely, and surmised it might be just an abrasion.  Then he recommended I sit in the ER for several hours with four children who hadn't eaten dinner (and who had been removed from naps) until the doctors there could call the Eye Surgeon On Call.  My look of disbelief was quickly interpreted, and he agreed with me that waiting until the morning might get us in just as fast (and with considerably less trauma to the family proper).  Thinking on it later, there was no way he would have described what I saw as an abrasion.  There was some THING on the surface of her eye (his fluorescent drops revealed a definite spot, where I think it *had* been).  When the eye doctor called in the morning to give us a quick appointment, we decided to hold off, as the *thing* was gone, and her eye was better, if not fully healed.  At this point we're in the clear, I think, unless it's rolling around in her head and waiting for another moment to strike.

A dear friend loaned me some herbal stuff that is making a noticeable difference in the Baby, and another child who has always had trouble, ahem, pooping.  If you have a child with similar problems, check out Dr. Schulze's Intestinal Formulae #3.

My folks visited the weekend of Independence Day.  They have planned several times to fly their small, old plane to our place (we live 1/2 mile from the airport!), and have always been derailed (de-winded?) by the weather one place or the other.  They planned to come Friday, and had to wait out a few hours on the ground in one place due to massive clouds.  They got in the air again and hit turbulence bad enough that my dad got sick all over the plane, and was pretty out of commission.  At least he could land the plane.  They called from the Middle of Nowhere to say they were staying a night in a hotel, and would see us Saturday.  They DID manage to get here that day, just missing the busiest morning in history at our little airport - local pilots got together to do a "fly over" for the parade in our town on Saturday.  Their kids had fun, but boy that boy!  He 'climbed' our little apple tree, breaking half of it off (we've taped it and hope it survives), gave Organique a row of bad scratches on her cheek (she's not used to real-live 'fighting' when she fights with her sisters!), but loved playing in our old car and chauffeuring the girls... He'd help them with their seat belts, stop when they 'ran out of gas,' fix the engine (which isn't even in the car).. SO cute.

I rearranged the living room 63 times before throwing up my hands and finding some graph paper.  Best plan, I swear.  I wish I'd done it a little earlier.  :]  It's workable now, and the traffic flows around the main seating area, and I'm determined to fold laundry elsewhere now.

Speaking of the laundry, I'm really bending the rules.  Our house is set up very oddly (to me, anyway) when it comes to laundry.  The front door opens and you peer down a long hallway to the kitchen (there are a set of stairs and the living room to the right).  Off the hallway, on the left, are a small half-bathroom, and the laundry room.  Which is about 5' deep, maybe 10 or 12 feet wide.  It holds the washer, dryer, furnace, and pantry shelving.  And the laundry ALWAYS spills into the hallway.  SO.  Since the hallway is effectively blocked half the time anyway, I bought a set of shelves (kindof like these, but taller and 5 shelves) and set them up right in the hallway.  I plan to put a curtain on the door/bathroom side of them, and annex the rear part of the hallway into an auxiliary laundry station.  Laundry can be brought down from upstairs, and the basket tucked right onto the shelves where I can access it from the laundry side.  I might even find room for a folding table (though right now the laundry goes on the clothesline, so it's folded elsewhere).  Of course, the Ultimate Plan involves remodeling the garage into a pantry/laundry/storage/closet, but that has to wait.  Until Hubby can build his motorcycles a shrine shop somewhere. :)

The squash seeds are growing into plants, and the squash bugs have moved in.  I have killed four, maybe five (that last one might've gotten away).  The chiles are putting on little miniature fruit, the tomatoes are setting the same, and I applied Nolo Bait the other day to help deal with the grasshopper overpopulation.

A (nother!) dear friend and her daughter are helping me with ideas to organize some things around here, and I might even post photos if I get around to it.  I was so excited the other night, after cleaning out the floor-level of the pantry shelves, that my big white buckets (of varying sizes) were stacking and fitting to within a half inch of the shelf above them.  You have no idea what joy that brought to me, knowing I was operating at maximum efficiency in the vertical axis, anyway. I almost posted to facebook, but then decided I need not publicly broadcast my freakishness.  At least not everyone knows of this blog.  ;)

Friday, July 02, 2010

July 1 Garden

Things are finally starting to take off in the garden... weeds included of course.  I need to mow again! :)

Tomatoes, Beans

My box o' carrots is sporting their fern-like secondary leaves, and the corn is a few inches high.  The squash seeds I poked in around the soaker hose ends have come up, and are trying to stay alive.  We have a pest issue.  The yard-long beans are all munched to death, and some of the Kentucky Blue and Blue Lake beans are gone.  The tomatoes are getting bushy and flowering nicely.  I spent some time the other day pinching off some of the smaller suckers on the indeterminate vines - of which most of them are.  The cucumbers are slowly growing - except one, which is growing quite well and already has some mini-cukes on it!  Yay!  There is lettuce almost ready to harvest in my other raised box.  All self-seeded from last year. The herbs I put in are doing well (marjoram, thyme, rosemary, flat-leaf parsley), though trying to flower and seed.  I'm not sure if I can or should try to do anything about that.  Cilantro is popping up everywhere, which I'm glad, as I didn't harvest much of it last year and it died.  Today I found all the long-lost seeds from 2007 that I never planted.  I crossed my fingers and put in some green onions, lettuces, oregano, and sage in the box too.  The jalapeƱo starts and cukes in that box are not doing as well as their counterparts in the garden proper.  It may be because they dry out faster there.

Baby Cuke!

The girls finally planted the marigolds that had been languishing in their teeny little 4-packs.  Some seem to be making it (planted near the squash to [please, Jesus!] help deter squash bugs), others were "picked" - root and all - by Organique I assume.

More Tomatoes, Peppers

The pests devouring the green beans are, I think, grasshoppers.  They are VERY tiny - well, they were last week.  Like 1/8 of an inch.  Today, they're bigger.  I smashed 3, which leaves 20,897,247,298 left in there.  I have put in a request to purchase something called Nolo Bait from a berry farmer who is buying it in bulk.  We'll see if I can get some and do some damage to these critters.  In the meantime, I need to apply some diatomaceous earth, maybe.

Partly-munched Bean

Do you see the grasshopper center in the photo?

There is another one, center on the pepper leaf.  So tiny!  So wicked!

I hope your gardens are growing well!  I hear *some* areas even have things to harvest by now.  I try not to envy, remembering we live decently without AC most of the time. :)