Counting Blessings at 4 months

I am 4 months into this happiness at home experiment. This is where I am today. I am extremely blessed, even if things aren’t easy.

We had payday on the 20th and I was able to pick up our needed prescriptions. $120. Thank you high deductibles. LG has decided to totally go off his medications for diabetes all together to save us the $200 it would cost us for all that he was taking.

He is doing a pretty good job of controlling his blood sugar through diet and has found exercise to be absolutely necessary. Although I don’t like him not taking his medications as I am afraid of the effects of diabetes, it’s been a huge bonus for him to not want to spend the money. It’s great to see him having accountability for the disease.

After paying for my anti-depressant (necessary for my sanity) and Abigail’s ADHD meds (necessary for her to focus at school) we were then plum out of money until next payday. The week prior to payday we had spent about $200 for soccer fees, $160 for Abigail’s physical therapy, and $120 for back-to-school necessities. We normally would supplement a bit from savings, but after me quitting my job in April and making the trip to CA for my parents 50th anniversary this summer our savings is so small that we don’t dare use whatever is left. Especially since any day one of our cars or our dryer is going to quit working all together.

We usually have about $500 every two weeks for groceries, kids’ extra-curriculars, clothes, doctors, etc. Anything that isn’t a bill or gas for the car has to come out of that $500. When you have 4 kids, I’m not gonna lie, it’s tight. Super tight. Just to go to Wal-mart and buy the necessities alone (produce, a little meat, bread, eggs, milk, cheese) costs at least $100 a pop. I’ve had a list of the things that I normally buy at Costco piling up for over two months. The only things I buy at Costco are what I can’t find cheaper anywhere else. Just to go and buy those things (flour, sugar, trash-bags, soap, and other like necessaries) it will cost me at least $300. The longer I wait to make the trip the bigger the impending tab becomes.

But this post is about counting blessings, not worries. I just thought it was necessary to paint the picture of what we deal with on a daily basis. It seems so much around here boils down to the bottom dollar and I’ve gotten the feeling lately that God is trying to work with me to embrace frugality and sacrifice.

So here are some blessings.

A neighbor invited anyone who would like to come and get pears from her well-pruned and groomed trees. I was able to get 2 five gallon buckets worth. We’ve had pears to eat, made fruit leather, and I still have some waiting to be bottled for the winter without spending a dime.

Yesterday as I was working side by side with my daughters on said pears I had an epiphany that this was one of the very reasons that God told me to quit my job. I would have never had the time for that kind of homemaking if I was still working and my girls would have missed the “fruits of their labor” lesson entirely. It was extremely satisfying for me to see the food through the whole process starting with me picking, to washing, then peeling and coring, processing, cooking, and finishing off straight into the kids’ lunches this morning as delicious fruit leather that I didn’t buy at Costco. Without the desperation of our situation, I wouldn’t have sought out those pears.

On payday when I was at the point of nervous breakdown, a good friend of mine showed up on my doorstep with a bag of peaches. Her only reason for showing up was the generosity in her heart. I think she has a secret honing device to know when I am having a bad day. She always comes through when I am most desperate. It’s as if God himself is showing up at my door to say, “Alice, I know. I am here.” To tell you the truth, sometimes without anything changing, after crying to this friend, everything seems instantly better.

Caroline was diagnosed with asthma two weeks ago. We still had a bunch of Bella’s old breathing treatments that were just the right dosage. They were expired, but still good. I didn’t have to buy the medicine and after a week I didn’t have to take Caroline back to the doctor when the first treatments didn’t work. With my extensive asthma experience with Bella (we lived the first 9 years of her life in the very green mossy south with her mold allergy) I knew what Caroline needed. I had the longer term additional meds. and started her on them myself without paying for another doctor visit. Her cough cleared up in two days. She is doing great.

Abigail’s back seems to be completely healed. She is playing soccer again at 100% and looks good out there. She made the team as the ONLY player to never play on a club team. I give God all credit for making this all work out. It is humbling to know that in the soccer situation He truly did make up the difference for these poor parents who couldn’t afford to give Abigail the best of training. God sent her good recreation coaches throughout the years and gave her an extra dose of talent.

After spending so much on Abigail, we were struggling with not having anything left for Sophia who also wanted to play soccer this fall. I called our marriage counselor’s office and asked if we could just pay half of what we normally do this month. They were totally fine with it leaving us $100 for Sophia. I suggested that Sophia go to the website to find out the details so we could sign her up and she found a new interest. She wants to play volleyball instead. It only cost $60 instead of $100 and I might even get to coach. This left us $40 for groceries on a week where we would normally have to live on powdered milk. Miraculous.

Even more miraculous, Bella doesn’t want to do any sports until Spring when softball comes back in season.

My garden has been giving us squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I planted the garden because I had extra time on my hands after quitting my job. Every day without being told to I see Bella go out and check the plants and it makes my heart smile. Next year, I hope we can get a little more serious with our gardening again. The kids have loved it and I think they will want to help more now that they see what those seeds can become.

I canned 30+ quarts of white grape juice from our grapevine. It didn’t cost me a dime, and we now will have yummy juice to last us the winter.

We are really enjoying our relationships with the people in our ward (church congregation). After two and a half years we actually feel like we are home like we used to be in TN. We planned to move after I quit my job, but then the Bishop asked my hubby to work with the YM. We prayed about it and knew we needed to stay. It has made things extra tight financially, but friends are better than money.

Our next door neighbor came over last week and asked me if I would be interested in babysitting her kindergartner after school. I had been thinking about babysitting again to help supplement the income without working outside the home. I was really hesitant because I didn’t want to give up  my morning exercise time while Caroline is at pre-school. With this job, I will still have M,W,F mornings to myself and I will be making as much money as I was at my old job without being gone every day from 3pm-9pm. In fact, more than likely I will probably only have to watch her two to three days a week for four hour stretches and she will keep Caroline entertained.

The twice shattered i-phone that I use and the twice shattered one that Abigail uses are both still working after a year. Good for us. Bad for future apple profits. I think I will be upgrading to an android that won’t lodge glass shards into my ear when our renewals roll around.

Our girls have been able to earn some good babysitting money. They each only earned about $20 from us from the summer chores, but ended up having about $50 each when they combined our pay with their babysitting money. I have taught them to be amazing bargain shoppers. They all turned their $50 into 3-4 outfits. Amazing!

Nobody really needed new athletic shoes or backpacks this year.

pencil cookiesWe made some awesome cookies for the girls’ teachers instead of spending a million dollars on back-to-school gifts. They seemed to appreciate the effort and the girls learned a new skill and all worked together.

And last but very much not least:

LG and I enjoyed our 16th anniversary. If you would have asked me  five years ago, I would have told you we would be divorced by now. Instead we both keep choosing each other over and over again and work on bettering ourselves to make each other happier. I’m pretty much the most blessed girl who ever lived.