Sunday, June 29, 2014

Summer Happenings

I thought I would give a little update on what has been going on around our little acreage the last few months.

I came home from Nebraska to find my garden huge and overgrown with weeds.  I had expected it to die while I was gone, but Virginia must have received enough rain that it pulled through just fine.  The weeds were gigantic, but after a little time spent pulling them out, my garden is all neat again.  The tomato plants are loaded so I foresee lots of pico de gallo and homemade marinara sauce soon!


I have decided I am going to plant a bigger garden next year as long as my back cooperates and turn our raised bed into an herb garden. I am not going to have anything monstrous, but maybe 15x25, so I am on the hunt for a reasonably priced tiller so I can get the garden ready this fall. I have read many interesting articles on how to kill weeds/grass naturally, but you have to start the season before.  We have not had the problems with deer like I worried about, thankfully, which may be because we have cattle all around our property. I would like to add onions, carrots, broccoli, beans, potatoes, and an assortment of salad greens next year.

Remember how I was hoping someone would have some plants I could dig up for free?  Well, I found a nice lady on craigslist who already dug them and had them sitting on her driveway - free for the taking! I mostly took Hostas, but I also took a few narcissus that will come up next spring and some ornamental grass.  For mother’s day, I received money for flowers from Chad and Remy, so I bought a few other things, too.  I got a clematis plant for the decorative iron piece with the sphere, and I also bought salvia, coneflower, and phlox.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the phlox made it through my trip to Nebraska. I cut it down because the top was dead and we’ll see if it comes up next spring.  I am looking forward to this getting established and providing some color!


The flower bed

The free hostas add a nice touch!

While we were in Nebraska we decided to bring the rest of our things from our storage unit, since there were a few things I was taking from Dad’s and already needed a uhaul. Because of this it made sense to get the rest our stuff and bring it out here. People seem to think I hauled a uhaul’s worth of stuff from Dad’s, but most of the things in the uhaul were for other family members or my own stuff from storage.  When we moved last year we left most of our family mementos back in Nebraska. My kids' memory boxes, family photos, my grandma’s tea set and china and Chad’s grandfather’s silver were all left behind, as well as a few wood pieces my Dad had made me over the years.  These were things that I could not part with in my downsizing, but did not have room for in my new home. Our family will most likely be in Virginia another 5-6 years as Chad is pretty seriously looking at going on to get his doctorate.  We decided it would be best to bring our stuff out here rather than pay storage in Nebraska.  We ended up purchasing a pre-built wooded shed to house those things we are not using, but someday plan to use or pass on to our children.  It was a great savings in the long run to buy a shed rather than to rent a storage unit, and now we also have an enclosed place for tools, Christmas decorations, and other things that shouldn't be stored in an open shed. We have no storage options like an attic or basement in the house we live in and it only has 3 (very small) closets!!
The new shed

The minimalist leaning in me hates that I have so much stuff that I had to buy a shed to house it! Sometimes I just want to get rid of it all, but I know I may regret that at some point.  Plus, I am hoping my girls will someday want these family heirlooms for their own homes.

Other than a few kitchen items, a little decor, and photos, the only big thing I brought home from my Dad’s for myself was the buffet below. It is a beautiful antique and I loved cleaning it up.  It now holds my Mom’s serving bowls and silverware and Chad’s grandfather's monogrammed silverware. I had a little spot left in the living room for it!!


So that’s about it for news around the acreage.  Is it bad to say, but I am already longing for fall...and summer has only begun?  Summer in Virginia is brutal with the humidity and the fall is so long and beautiful.  I do like the break from homeschooling Remy though. We also are looking forward to a visit from Chad’s parents and a mini vacation in July, so fall can wait a little while. J


My back porch area with flower and herbs pots.

Have a great week, friends!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Health Update and June/July Goals

It has been awhile since I have updated on my health so I thought I would share today how it has been going.

With all the stress in my life over the last 5 weeks my IBS has been back.  Of course it hasn’t helped that my diet has been all out of whack as well.  Up until I headed to Nebraska I was doing great - I was able to fit back into the dress I wanted to wear for Sem Prom!

Here is the dress!

I also walked with Koda every day for 50 days in a row and was keeping up with my body weight circuit 2-3 times a week. Chad and I also went on a challenging hike in early May.  By the time I left for Nebraska I had lost another 3 pounds since my last update in April and IBS symptoms were pretty rare. 

Chad and I on our May hike.

But then May 20th hit and that all came to a screeching halt.  When I am super stressed I don’t eat, so the first week I was in Nebraska my weight dropped greatly.  Since returning home I have gained all except for 3 pounds back, bringing my total weight loss up to 20 pounds since Christmas.  I have not been this light since 2008.  I am happy with my weight now and it would not bother me if I don’t lose anymore, but we will see what my body decides. Now that I have returned home and am back on my cleaner diet and have less stress my IBS has diminished greatly. 

I have decided to cut out candy again for the next 2 weeks. (I made my last goal for no candy for 3 weeks in April/May.)  Chad’s parents are coming out the second week in July to take us to the beach and Colonial Williamsburg.  Since we are going to be at the beach I will need to buy a swim suit, and even though I am thinner that isn’t my favorite thing to buy or wear.  I also want to continue to walk Koda every non-rainy day. Once my living room is cleaned out of the storage boxes I will try to get back to my body weight circuit a few times a week as well.  I also have another hike planned in late July with my niece up in northern Virginia.

Many people have wondered about my back pain with all the work I did cleaning up my Dad’s house.  I will admit there were a few nights I was in pain to tears, but for the most part my back pain has diminished.  I was able to see my chiropractor in Nebraska and get an adjustment which I believe helped me get through the weeks without much pain.  I know the weight loss has helped it, too.

So that is it!  The hot, humid summer weather has returned to Virginia and I sweat about 5 pounds off during Koda’s walks!  Below are my goals for the rest of June and July.

June/July Goals

* No candy until July 8th
* Walk Koda every non-rainy day
* Body weight exercises 2-3 times a week
* Go on 1 hike
* Keep up no wheat/dairy 90% of the time


Have a great week, friends!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Saying Goodbye

Hello, friends!

Yes, I have been MIA from my blog for over a month. For the few readers who are not my personal friends I will share a little of what has been going on.

On May 15th I called my Dad to say “hi” and could tell he wasn't feeling the best; it had been a bitter winter in Nebraska and I don’t think he ever properly recovered from it after getting a bad chest cold in February. After calling back and forth with my brother and some good friends over the following weekend, my brother and friend went to check on him Monday morning and found he was having such difficulty breathing he could not get out of bed.  Dad was taken by ambulance on May 19th to a local hospital. 

Tuesday morning I received the call from the doctor that Dad was not doing well and was suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome. I boarded a plane Tuesday evening for Nebraska.  I was able to get to the hospital in the middle of the night to sit with Dad who by then was very confused by where he was and all the wires hooked up to him.  I was able to hold his hand, to pray with him, and occasionally reminisce of old times.  At times he was very coherent and knew exactly what was going on, other times he thought he was home.  He knew who I was the entire time though.

Mid-Wednesday morning I left the hospital to eat and rest, since I had not done either of those things the night before.  During the 4 hours I was gone, Dad took a turn for the worse.  I was getting ready to head back to the hospital when my brother called and said to hurry, Dad was fading fast.  I was able to make it to the hospital in time.   He passed away within 15 minutes of my arrival, with 2 of my brothers and me holding his hands.  He was 75.

My Dad was a complicated man who was certainly not perfect. But then again, who of us are perfect?  We had our ups and downs over the years, but the last few years had brought us closer together.  Doing genealogy research over the last several years has brought me a greater understanding of him, his past, and what made him the way he was.  

Here is Dad with Chad, Remy, Oksana and me right before we moved to Virginia.

He was also a very talented man.  His ability to turn wood into a piece of art was amazing.  He was a gunsmith, antique horse drawn vehicle restorer, and master woodworker.

Here he is with a knife he made for Remy.



And here is a wash basin stand he made me to hold my Mom's pitcher and bowl. Something I will cherish forever because it is something of both my parents.

I think I approach death and grief differently than most people.  Yes, there have been tears of sadness over the last few weeks.  But not any of them have been for losing Dad, only for what should have been as far as my family’s past goes.  But the fact of the matter is, grieving over the past is futile.  As I have said before, how can the past be used to make the future more positive?  How can I learn from my relationship with my Dad and from the relationship he had with his other children? How can I use what I have learned to better my relationship with my family?  And it wasn’t goodbye for me, only we’ll see you later. 

The last several weeks have been a blur.  Since my mother is also gone there was much to settle with the estate, cleaning to be done, and mementos to sort through.  I am so thankful Chad was able to be there with me and for my dear friend, Sharon, who housed and fed my family for almost 3 weeks! We have been back in Virginia a little over a week now and I am slowly getting back into a routine. My living room is a temporary storage unit with things of Dad’s I have brought back; in addition to our storage from Nebraska that I cleaned out and brought back with me. I am looking forward to getting a new storage shed next week and for my house to be back in order! (I’m also looking forward to the day when my girls’ have homes of their own and can cart some of this stuff away!)  J

I plan to get back to blogging at some point in time in the near future. There are many updates I want to share and things I have learned over the last month.  I have so very much appreciated the notes from friends and family, the prayers, and words of encouragement for me and my family! 

I look forward to sharing with you again soon!!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mindfulness

To continue my thoughts on the last two posts on simplifying my life  and living in the moment, today I thought I would take a few minutes and talk about mindfulness in day-to-day activities.  This is something I have really been trying to grasp lately.

It started a few weeks ago after reading an article on why French people are not (for the most part) overweight.  The article, among other things, talked about how the French practice mindful eating.  As Americans, we are so used to eating on the go, in front of our tv or computers, that the thought of mindful eating is almost foreign to us.  I am as guilty of this as anyone, and in the past during my lunch break I would either browse Facebook on my phone or read a book on my kindle. Sometimes I even eat in front of my computer while reading blogs or sending messages! Remy and I have different lunch hours so it was easy for me to just pick up a distraction, and by doing so I would usually end up eating way more than I needed to.  

In an effort to practice mindfulness I have been taking my time, unplugging from electronics, and being mindful while having a lunch by myself.  I set out the placemat, napkin, plate, silverware, and pour my drink.  Then I sit down and proceed to eat slowly, concentrating on the different textures and flavors of what is on my plate.  I chew slowly, sip my drink, and savor the uninterrupted time by myself. To be honest the first few days I found myself inadvertently picking up my phone, but slowly I have been weaning myself off of the need for distraction.  Not only is this good for my digestive system, but it gives me time to pause and be grateful for the food rather than shoving it in my mouth without a thought. Since I have been getting so much of our food from the Farmer’s Market it gives me time to think about each vendor who sold me what is now on my plate. Knowing the person who grows your food adds another whole aspect to being grateful for the food and where it comes from.  During our evening meal we eat together as a family, but even during that time I can be mindful of the family time together while enjoying our food.

From this little exercise, I have now expanded it into my daily house work; whether it is helping Remy with school, hanging up the laundry, making my bed, cleaning the house, or cooking.  As I am doing each activity I try to be mindful of what I can be grateful for in this particular chore. I can value the time helping Remy and the opportunity to stay home with him for school. I can savor the sunny day, listen to the birds sing, and be thankful for living in the country while hanging my wash. I can appreciate the comfortable, large bed Chad and I have, and the good nights sleep that it gives.  I can be thankful for the shelter the house provides while sweeping or dusting and I can be grateful that I am able to prepare healthy food for my family.

This has really helped me to relax and be more focused on the positives in my life.  Many people think I have a easy, fun life. :-)  And while I do at times,  I will be honest and say at the moment there are many stresses in my life regarding those I love with sickness, struggling finances, and relationships.  I find myself easily sucked into worry, and then discontentment at being here in Virginia when they are so far away. By bringing myself back to the place I am now, practicing thankfulness and mindfulness, I can keep my thoughts in a positive focus, rather than constant worry. I honestly think everyone should do some sort of exercise like this and experience the difference in their lives. Taking time to pause and reflect, even for just a moment, is beneficial. 

Now I know many of my readers work full time and have a much busier life than me.  You might be thinking that you don’t have time to practice mindfulness, and that if you don’t eat in your car on the way to your kid’s practice you won’t eat at all.  I totally understand and have previously had a busy season like that in my life when my girls were younger.  Maybe start 5 minutes of mindfulness in the morning before you get out of bed, or at night before you go to sleep.  Take time to think about the positive little things in your day-to-day life.  If you spent the day working and running kids around, perhaps take time to be grateful for your job, the funds to pay for your children’s activities, and the opportunity to be a parent.  There are so many people out there who are not able to do those things.

But maybe you are going through hardships and think there isn’t anything possible worth being mindful and grateful for.  It might be a loss of a job or loved one or physical sickness   I would have to disagree that there isn’t anything to be thankful for even in these circumstances.  There is always something…even in the darkest points of your life.  I have been there and I know that taking time to focus on positives makes hard times not as bleak.  It might be something as simple as clothing to put on and having running water, but there always can be something.

I encourage you to take time today to practice a little mindfulness in your life.  I think you will be amazed at the results!



Sunday, May 11, 2014

Living In The Moment

Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with simple living is living intentionally in the moment.  This is a bit harder for me than simplifying my life; sometimes I get caught up with working towards my “ideal life” that I forget to enjoy the good things that are right now.

How many times have I robbed myself of today’s joy worrying about the future?  Or regretting the past? More times than I care to admit.  The fact of the matter is this:  95% of the things I worry about never come to pass! That right there should be enough incentive for me not to worry.  And what about living in the past?  What benefit comes from sitting around regretting the things I have done, or wishing to relive some good times?  While it is good to use past experiences to better ourselves, such as learning from mistakes, dwelling on and bemoaning past mistakes is futile.  Move on!

How many times did I miss my children growing up by not being intentional?  More times than I care to admit; whether it was me being so focused on myself that I didn't see them or so focused on some electronic that I didn't hear them. But if I take my advice from the paragraph above, I learn from my mistakes and move on.  Unfortunately, I can not go back and relive those years when they were little children, but I can learn from the mistakes and not make them with Remy.  I can be intentional now with my girls, even though they no longer live at home.  I can listen to them when they call or when they are home, and spend quality time with them when I do see them.



Sometimes I get all worked up about wanting my “little cabin in the woods” and “ideal life”.  I’ll spend hours on the computer researching the perfect spot. When I do, I miss the birds singing in the oak tree outside my window, the purple mountains in the distance, and the lowing of cattle down in the valley.  I miss the opportunity to sit on the rocking chair out on the porch with Chad sipping iced tea while listening to my wind chimes sway in the gentle breeze.  Maybe instead of sitting on my computer researching things that are not in the plan at this moment, I can focus on being grateful for what I have right now, at this point of my life. How many years did I want to move to a little house in the country?  Maybe I should enjoy what I have.



I leave you with a quote from Jim Elliot that sums up what I'm trying to say in this post.....

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Joys of Simple Living

We lead a simple life.  We always have for the most part, but we have even taken another step back towards simplicity since moving to Virginia. By Chad leaving a stressful job, selling half of our belongings, and downsizing to a little rental house in the country, we have left many stressful demands back in Nebraska.  Some people find it strange and think we are weird.  Others look at us with sort of envy – wishing they too could simplify their life, but not sure where to start.  Others ask us for advice on what they can do to live a simple life.  While we can give pointers, it is a very individualized decision to shun “normal” and do many things the way our grandparents or great grandparents did them.  Even Chad and I have some very different ideas on simple living.  While I could probably join an Amish community and love it, (I kid…..sort of) he has to have some modern conveniences like bathrooms and air conditioning.  J

My ideal life would be a simple house placed back in the trees with a big sunny place to grow a garden, have fruit trees, and a small barn to have chickens and goats. The introvert in me longs for a quiet place away from noisy traffic and people where I can go outside in my PJ’s and not worry about what the neighbors think. J  I would not own a TV, but I would own a computer and cell phone. (The cell phone only because I have children!) As much as I think I could do without electricity, the fact that I love to cook demands I have it.  I don’t think I would like to relearn to cook on a wood stove.  I wouldn't mind heating with a wood stove though.  I would make most everything we eat from scratch so I could get by with my garden produce, chicken, eggs, goats milk, and occasional trips to the farmers market for the few things I do not grow. I would own a clothes washer, but would dry my clothes on the line. My house would be small, therefore easy to clean, but my kitchen would be good sized.  People always end up in the kitchen anyway.  We spend probably 75% of our waking hours in it, and even when we entertain we rarely go into our living room!

 Because of my simple life I would be more of an extrovert when I go in public for church activities and other social gatherings.  Because I’m able to unwind in the privacy and quiet of home, when I do go out it makes it easier to chat, socialize, and be an active part of whatever activity we are involved in.

Obviously, I have much of my “ideal life” already.  Here are some simple things we do that I believe keep us moving toward our overall goal. And remember, just because I find these things important in my life does not mean I feel everyone should do them.  Everyone’s life is different; with varying goals and priorities….this is what works for us. Maybe a few ideas will speak to you.

  • We do not have cable.  While we do have a TV, DVD, and Wii, we do not have any TV channels.  TV is very, very limited in our house.  Chad and I watch maybe 1 movie a month, if that.  Remy on the other hand watches movies on the weekends and is able to play the Wii after school is done for the day during the week for a minimal amount of time.
  • We home school. This is one decision that many people disagree with, and while I respect that it may not be what works for your family; it IS what works for ours.  Having had Remy in public and private school in the past we feel that at this point in his life home schooling is the best fit for him. In my mind school outside of the home brings many unnecessary demands and distractions on all of our lives; demands that have nothing to do with education. But we take it year by year.  His education is what is most important and when the time comes where I feel he will not receive a quality one through home school he will go back to a “regular school.”
  • I cook from scratch most of the time.  I will admit we occasionally get take-out pizza or eat store-bought candy, but for the most part I choose to cook with whole, one-ingredient foods.  Look in my cupboard and you won’t find much in a box or bag, but you will find nuts, whole grains, canned vegetables, healthy oils, and dried herbs.  My freezer contains pastured meat, frozen fruit and veggies; my fridge has fresh fruits, veggies, cheese, and milk. I like to try to mimic my cooking to what a person would have done 100 years ago.  Simple and satisfying. And even though I can’t eat wheat and dairy, I still cook with it for Chad and Remy.
  • I garden.  Even this year with a small garden I will be able to provide my family with fresh vegetables at a fraction on the cost of buying them from the Farmer’s Market or store. By doing this I also spend less time at the store.
  • I hang my wash on the line.  Not only is this better for the environment, it saves on our electricity bill.  And I love the nostalgic feeling I get as I hang my wash on the line.  It is actually a very relaxing activity.
  • We limit our social calendar. Family time is very important to Chad and me. We entertain here at our home a few times a month and go to church Sunday and Wednesdays. Remy is involved with his youth group at church and occasionally gets together with friends outside of church.  Chad has several outside activities he is involved in with work and school during the day.  But for the most part our evenings are free to study, read, and play games together as a family.
     
  • Remy and I enjoying a leisurely evening by the fire pit.

  • We don’t spend a lot of money on “leisure activities”.  Part of this is a very small budget since Chad is in seminary, but even when he returns to the working world I don’t see this going up a lot.  We prefer to do activities that are free or minimal cost.  Chad and I love to hike.  Remy loves to fish and hunt. (Yes, I realize those activities can be expensive, but they can also be quite reasonably priced.  Even cheap fishing poles can catch fish.  And an old gun that was given to us is more than able to kill a deer.) We like to go to museums, too, most of which are free or minimally priced. We exercise outdoors or in our home.  
  • We don't have debtWe rent our house and if we ever buy a house again we most likely will buy cheap and pay cash rather than get a loan.  Our two cars are paid for, and actually, if it wasn't for Koda, we could get by with 1 car.  We keep our Suburban for hauling him around, road trips, and large items.  With 200,000 miles on it we couldn't sell it for much anyway.
  • We don't have a lot of excess "stuff"..  When we find that we no longer use things, we sell them or pass them on to someone who can benefit from them. Daily I can be found whittling my way through our possessions in an effort to minimalize.
  • We are our own hairdressers.  Chad cuts his own hair and Remy’s. 2 years ago I went back to my natural brunette color to save on trips to the hairdresser.  My hair style is simple and my hair products few.  Although Chad does a great job on his and Remy’s hair, I prefer to go to a stylist for a cut twice a year for a total of $50 a year.  Much better than before when I would spend $100 every other month on a cut and highlight.

Some look at our life and say BORING. And yes, I guess it may seem that way, but we love it.  By keeping our life simple we can focus on what is most important to us, God and family.  Because our life is simple we are able to spend more time reaching out to others through entertaining in our home, get-togethers over coffee, Bible studies with other believers, and writing on this blog.  Because our life is simple we can get by with less money, which means less time working and more time to do the things that are important to us.

People often ask me why I love the simple life.  Honestly, I think it was ingrained in me.  My earliest memories are of my mother doing many of the exact things I wrote about above.  Although she was an extrovert, she loved her simple quiet life that she led on her little farm.  J I remember as little girl of 8 having the exact desire for an “ideal life” as I do now. Some things never change…….

So how about you, friend?  Do you long for a simple life?  If so, what are steps you have taken to simplify?


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Acreage Happenings

We have been quite busy here on our little acreage the last few weeks. Chad installed our clothesline over the weekend and last Monday he made my little raised garden bed.  Since we are on a limited budget I had to cut back on some of my original plans, but I am still getting to enjoy living in the country – just on a smaller scale. J

Here I am with my little garden. Chad did 99% of the work...about all I was able to do was rake.

I am only having a small garden this year to start out.  There were many different factors that played into it, but the main reasons are the cost, the wildlife, and my back pain. We would need to buy a tiller if we were to make a bigger garden, or rent one, but even to rent a tiller is expensive.  Another factor is the abundant wildlife that is in our area.  A big garden would have needed a deer fence, another added expense. Since we only plan on living here for a few years, spending that kind of money was not in the best interest of our budget since we are not sure if our next home will have room for a large garden, tiller, and deer fence. And finally, my back most likely could not take working in a big garden.  As much as I would like to say I would be fine, I have to be honest with myself and admit my limitations. Anything where I bend over makes me hurt pretty badly by the end of the day. Chad is busy with work and school this summer and I didn’t want him to worry about hoeing the garden, too.

So we decided to keep it simple and make a 4x8 raised bed with inexpensive concrete blocks.  This is also good because the soil here in Virginia is quite clayish so we were able to enhance the soil with manure and compost, which were both free. I also have two extra pots of tomatoes and herbs in a few more pots.  This space will be enough to grow the vegetables we eat the most of:  tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeƱos, and basil. All other vegetables will be bought at our farmer’s market that runs every Saturday through October. Next year we may add another 4x8 space so I can add a few more veggies.

All planted! I have marigolds and herbs planted around the outer edge and tomatoes, basil, bell pepper, and jalapeƱos planted within.

Here are my flower and herb pots. More basil, oregano and thyme. 

 The clothesline posts were found inexpensively on Craigslist and will pay for themselves in just a few months with the savings on electricity. I’m very excited for line dried clothes!


I also spent a few dollars to get some flower pots and one basket filled with flowers.  For those of you who know me, you know how this is really cutting back from the 12-15 planters I have had in past years!  I still would like to get some perennials for the front flower bed, but I am waiting, hoping I can find someone who will let me dig up their extras for free or a minimal cost. In the mean time a little bit of mulch keeps it looking neat and tidy.
I salvaged some iris from what was the old weed patch  flower bed.  I'm hoping I can nurse them back to health. Not sure what the flower is on the far left.  It has bright pink spike flowers in the fall.  I thought I would leave it and see if it looks better this year. I have dreams of roses, hydrangea, and clematis.......then I remember we are poor college students.

We decided to forgo chickens, too.  While I really love the idea of raising our own chickens for eggs, again, the start up and maintenance cost was prohibitive. Not only that, but we have several plans in the future to do some week long mission trips as well as other traveling.  Having chickens would mean I would need to find a “chicken sitter” to care for them while I am gone.  I already have to find someone to take care of Rem and Koda without worrying about the chickens, too. So I will continue to buy my eggs at the farmer’s market and support my local chicken farmer instead of raising them myself. J

So that is a little of what is happening around here.  I love spring and have been having such fun working in the yard watching Chad work in the yard. :-) After a busy day working watching, I lay in my hammock for awhile.

Then I felt bad for my poor, hard working husband who couldn't join me and just stood next to it, so we finished the evening on the front porch rocking chairs. :-) All kidding aside....I love my husband and appreciate all the work he does so I can have my little country life.



Have a great week, friends!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Health Update and April/May Health Goals

So I remembered I never gave a March health update at the beginning of the month.  March was a so-so month for me health-wise.  I indulged in wheat and dairy far more than I should have and paid for it with tummy issues throughout the month.  My exercise was good the first part of the month, but then dropped off dramatically during the second half with all the traveling I did.  I still kept up with walking Koda on most nice days, but we did have several rainy days where we did not walk.  I also tried a new vegetable and went on a hike which were part of my goals. So not a total failure, but I hope to do better this month!

April has been much better.  Koda and I have walked at least 30 minutes every day, and we went on a challenging 4 mile hike on Saturday.  I have not been doing my weight circuit this month though. My diet is wheat and dairy free 90% of the time, although I still indulge in occasional pizza, brownies, and candy.  I take this digestion enzyme before I eat wheat or dairy and it really seems to help me not have horrible IBS symptoms afterwards. (I still have some, but not like it used to be.)  I have found I can have a small amount of dairy without having any symptoms afterwards.  This is nice because now I am able to eat mashed potatoes with butter and milk, basil pesto with a small amount of Parmesan cheese, or M&M’s.  J

With all that being said I still lost another 4 pounds in the last 6 weeks, which I am very pleased with. That brings the total amount lost to 11 pounds since February 1st and 14 pounds since Christmas!  I’m not sure why because I have indulged in candy far too often.....

Last night Chad bought tickets to the Spring Seminary Banquet, also known as Sem Prom. J  It is a semi-formal event and I want to be able to fit back into this dress for the event.


So, I need to get with the program!  Although I can get into this dress, it is a bit snug and I want it to be comfortable to wear that evening.  I have decided to cut out candy for the next month. (I will still eat cake when we celebrate Naomi’s birthday this weekend when she is home though.)  I will also stay on my wheat and dairy free diet 90% of the time.

I have also decided to start a body weight circuit.  By that I mean no hand weights or barbells, but exercises using the weight of your body only. I did this back in 2008 when I was in the best shape of my life and had very good results with it.   I am joining a daily plank challenge that my former chiropractor back in Nebraska is putting on.  In addition to that I will do push-ups, tricep dips, squats, and stretching/yoga. Here is the circuit:

Warm up with gentle stretching and yoga 5-10 minutes, or warm up with a walk.

45 second plank – working up to a full minute
25 Squats
20 Push-ups
20 Plie Squats (you could substitute lunges here, but because of my back I do not do lunges)
15-20 Tricep Dips
25 Squats
Repeat at least 3 times
5-10 minutes of yoga and stretching or more if there is time.

I will do this circuit 4-5 times a week.  I will be doing a 45 second plank daily with the challenge I’m participating in. 

I will also continue to walk Koda at least 30 minutes every non-rainy day.  So hopefully in 4 weeks time my dress will fit a little better and my arms and legs will be toned up for summer!

Here are my April/May Goals!

1)      Walk Koda at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week
2)      Do a 45 second -1 minute plank every day
3)      Do body weight circuit at least 4 times a week
4)      No candy until after May 8th
5)      Go on 1 more challenging hike
6)      Drink a green smoothie 4 times a week
7)      Continue wheat and dairy free, 90% of the time

So what are your health goals for this month? How did you do last month?



Sunday, April 13, 2014

How I Sell on eBay

I am back with my series on the resources we used to sell things when we downsized. Today I will cover eBay.

 eBay was one of the first resources I ever used to sell things.  I started back in 2003, and for a few years even had a small eBay business where I sold for other people.  I feel I am fairly well versed in eBay.  I have made good money selling clothing we no longer wear, but also home school books, text books, and even yarn! I am only going to talk about things I have experience selling; so for those of you who would like more information on how to sell things other than what I talk about here, I would suggest you check out eBay's selling pages.  There is a wealth of information on their website that walks you through each step.

It all started back in 2003 when I was really into buying name brand clothes for my children as well as myself.  When my children outgrew their clothes or I decided I no longer wanted mine, I would sell them on eBay.  Name brand children’s items sell very, very well on eBay; provided that they are free of holes and stains.  I would almost always buy name brand clothing new, but on sale.  Many times when I would go to sell the items I would end up making a profit because I would sell them for more than I paid for them new.  This only applied to the name brand clothes that you get at high end department stores - Gap, Gymboree, and so on.  I would strategically put these items on eBay at the optimal time.  For instance, I would list my kids' previous years Christmas outfits the first week in November.  I would list their Easter outfits 4-8 weeks before Easter.  Summer clothes would be listed in mid-April and fall/winter clothes in late-August or September.  I would put these on auctions with a low starting price but also with a buy-it-now for a pretty high price. Sometimes the auctions would have a bidding frenzy the last hour where the items would sell for more than I bought them new!  If not, at least I would re-sell for a good amount making the total paid out of pocket for high end items relatively low.  I also sold lower end brands on eBay in lots; 5-10 items.  These also sold very well.

I also have used eBay over the years to sell my name brand used clothes.  Adult clothes do not sell as well as children’s, and for most items you are better off taking them to a consignment store, but there are a few adult items that sell well on eBay where you end up getting far more per item than if you sold it on consignment.  The adult items that sell well on eBay are:


  • Name Brand Handbags – These would be brands such as Coach, Dooney & Burke, Prada, Brighton, etc. These are ones usually found at higher end department stores.  These need to be gently used without stains or markings.

  • Women’s Name Brand Jeans - These would be jeans you would buy at higher-end department stores or The Buckle, etc. Brands would be Miss Me, Rock Revival, Joe Jeans, Paige Denim, to name a few.  They would also be a current style no more than a year or two old and in excellent condition.

  • Name Brand Shoes - Again, higher end and little wear is the best. Men’s work boots or cowboy boots also sell well with minimal wear. (But unlike women most men wear their shoes until they wear out.) J

Now I know many of my readers do not buy name brand clothing for themselves or their children. There are still many, many things you can sell!  Here are a few other things I have sold over the years

  • Books – These are not huge money makers, but if you can make a dollar or two on each book it really adds up.  Books are easy to list and ship too. I suggest listing most books at a fixed price buy-it-now.  If you home school, those books sell extremely well.  Especially if you list them in July or August. I have sold used home schooling textbooks for up to $20 per book before! During July I list these home school books on auctions and often get bidding frenzies that send the selling price way up.  Any other month I sell these at a fixed price listing.

  • Yarn/Craft/Scrap-booking Supplies– I once sold for a lady who had many boxes of yarn left over from years of knitting projects.  She thought she could get a few dollars on the old yarn. I was hesitant to sell these because I didn't think they would be worth the effort to list.  Now if you think about it, many people out there are working on projects and run out of yarn, only to find out the yard is retired and cannot be found in stores.  So they have a half finished baby blanket for their granddaughter and no yarn to be found! eBay is great for looking for or selling items that have been retired.  This is true for many craft items! I listed the yarn on eBay thinking I would maybe make $2-$3 on each skein of yarn.  I was wrong!  Some skeins sold for over $20 a piece!  By the time the lady had cleaned out her boxes of old yarn she had made several hundred dollars!  Like I said, craft items sell very well. These items are best listed on auction, but if you have a price in mind you want for it, use fixed listings and set buy-it-now price.

  • Lower End Children’s Clothing - Brands such as Old Navy, Target’s brand, and items bought at other department stores - sold in lots of 5-10 items. Make sure these are in excellent condition, free of stains or holes.  Make sure they are the same size.  Having a few coordinating outfits in the lot helps the sale, too. Again, list these items right before the season or holiday they are appropriate for, optimum sales!

  • Smaller Household Items – These may be items you thought you would use but never did.  Kitchen items from Pampered Chef or smaller items from other home-party places sell great!  I only sell lighter items on eBay and save heavier items for craigslist.

  • Smaller Antiques – If you feel comfortable in the value of your smaller antique eBay may be the place to sell it.

  • Smaller Electronics – Gaming systems in working order, games, and ipods; even phones sometimes can fetch a fairly good price.  Not everyone can afford to buy new, so your old item might be just in their price range!


Before I list anything on eBay I research my items I am going to sell.  I do a search on eBay seeing what the exact items are going for from other sellers.  I also try to find out what the item sold for new and price my items accordingly.

After the research I take pictures.  Use a good camera and take picture at many different angles.  This does not apply to books.  Usually I only take 1-2 pictures of books, but leave a detailed description.

Many people are confused on how to list, whether to use Buy-it-Now, auction, or both.  I used to list only on auction, but now I use a fixed price listing and have a Buy-it-Now price only.  Auctions are nice for those items that are in high demand as you are more likely to get a bidding frenzy. When you have things listed at a fixed price it may take a bit longer to sell, but when it does you know you will get the price you want for the item.

eBay allows 50 items to be listed per month without a listing fee. After the first 50 there is a small fee per item to list it.  This fee is charged whether the item sells or not.  (Certain categories are not eligible for free listing, but I have never ran into this being a problem. Check eBay for a detailed list, but I believe it is for cars and other high priced items.)  eBay charges a final value fee of 10% on your selling price, plus shipping.  So if you sell an item for $10 with $4 shipping your eBay fee would be $1.40.

Before you begin selling it is wise to have a PayPal account set up for accepting payments through eBay.  PayPal will also charge you a fee when people pay you, so be mindful of these fees when pricing your items.  But PayPal is worth having so people can pay you without having to mail a check.  PayPal takes care of processing debit and credit cards and e-checks.

So now you have done your homework, taken pictures, and set up your eBay and PayPal account.  It’s time to list your item!  Write a good title and detailed description. If you are unsure of how to do this, eBay has many good tips on writing good descriptions and titles on their selling page.  Try to get all the most important information in the title; like brand name, size, condition, etc. If you are selling clothes or handbags, measurements are nice to include in the description and also how you have cared for the item. (Example – This pair of jeans has a 30 inch waist, 8 inch rise, and 32 inch inseam.  These have been washed on cold and hung to dry.)  For books you can enter the ISBN number on eBay which will pull up the description of the book, the author, and copyright year.  Then you should only have to write about the condition of the book. Be honest about any flaws that the item may have.  Like I said last time, people still buy things with small flaws; you will just get a lower price.

Once your item sells, package them well and ship promptly. Invest in bubble wrap and craft paper for packing breakable items or to keep books from shifting around in a box.   Shipping through the USPS is what I have always used.  I ship media mail for books, textbooks, and learning materials; and use priority for everything else. If you have a heavier item, see if it will fit in a flat rate priority box to save you money.  The USPS also has free shipping boxes for priority mail, which saves you having to find a box or pay money to buy one.  I do buy shipping materials for mailing media mail which come out to about $0.35 per box.  I buy smaller boxes in packages of 25 and 10x15 bubble wrap mailers off of Amazon to ship my books in. If you plan to sell things regularly I also suggest buying a postal scale so you can weigh and print your own shipping label at home.  A scale can be picked up for $15 -$20 on eBay and when you weigh and print your own shipping labels at home it is cheaper than mailing from the post office.  It is a good idea to weigh your item before you list it so you know what the shipping cost will be. You can get a quote from USPS.com.  That way there are no surprises when you go to ship your items.  I have been burned a few times when I did not weigh my items before and they cost me a lot more to ship than expected!

Another thing I have done, especially with my fixed listings is provide free shipping.  I list my item at a higher buy-it-now but the cost of shipping is included in the selling price.  I also give people the option with my fixed price listings of sending me an offer. I will list my item at the highest price I can see getting for the item based on my research beforehand.  Sometimes people will buy it for that price, but sometimes people will shoot me a lower price, and then I can decide if I want to accept, decline, or counter.

So those are basically the tips I have.  It really isn't complicated, especially once you have done it a few times.  Start small, listing just 1 or 2 items to get the hang of it.  And if you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email.




Monday, April 7, 2014

March Update

So, March…..where did you go? Sorry for the lack of posting last month!  I am very much a routine person and when I get out of my routine it takes me weeks to get back into it! I also do not plan ahead very well and did not have posts written in advance.  Whoops!

So here are some of our highlights from the month of March!

1)      We were able to go to Northern Virginia a couple times and spend time with my brothers.  I really enjoy living only a few hours away from this part of my family! While visiting them we were able to go on a hike.

2)      Chad and I had a nice spring break.  We spent the week pretty laid back, doing yard work, going on dates and watching the 6 hour mini series Pride and Prejudice. (It takes a real man to enjoy watching Jane Austin!)

3)      Remy went on a 3 day deep sea fishing trip with 3 of my brothers.  Even though the first day was cancelled because of the weather, and the second day he was sea sick, it was all made up the last day when he reeled in a 500 pound blue fin tuna!  He will get a master angler award for it! Chad and I had a nice week being “empty nesters”.

 Remy reeling in the fish. I like how he is strapped in so the fish doesn't pull him off the boat!

4)      I was able to go visit Naomi and Nakoma in Tennessee for 3 days the latter part of the month.  While it was a trip to take care of some business, we were able to do some fun things.  Nakoma and I went to a little English tea house for “afternoon tea” and to see a movie.   Naomi and I had a nice afternoon shopping at TJ Maxx and getting Starbucks. I spent a few hours at Naomi’s dorm and met many of her friends.  I was also able to go out to dinner with Nakoma and her friend; we spent the evening afterwards walking the beautiful area downtown and getting coffee. It was a fun trip!
Beautiful Tennessee River

5)      Chad and I celebrated our 12th anniversary at the end of the month. It was pretty laid back and we went out for Indian food at a restaurant we had never tried. The years have gone by so quickly, and yet, sometimes it seems like we have been together forever. To read our love story click here.
One of my favorite pics from our recent family pictures. 

6)      I had a successful month with eBay sales!  It actually kept me quite busy as I had over 50 listings.  I was able to make enough money to fund my spring and summer wardrobe, buy some fun things for the house, put money in Chad and my date envelope, and save for Remy’s school books for fall. I still have about 20 listings left but it feels good to get rid of unnecessary stuff!


So those are some of the things that happened the month of March. It was a great month! April is shaping up to be good, too.  I’m looking forward to Easter in a few weeks, planting flowers, seeing Naomi and Nakoma, celebrating their 18th birthday, and possibly going on another hike.  Chad only has 5 weeks left this semester.  It is hard to believe that a whole school year is almost through for him.  Over the summer he plans to take 3 intensives which is a semester of class crammed into 1 week, as well as working, so he will be very busy.  We get to go to Baltimore for a weekend with his work in June and will also have a visit from his parents that month.  So I am sure the summer will go by quickly as well!  Have a great week, friends!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

How We Strategically Downsized

Today I start a series telling how we strategically downsized. By strategically I mean selling things at the optimum time using many different resources to get the highest dollar out of each item.  Today will be an overview.  In subsequent posts I will go into more detail on the particulars of each option, the pros and cons on selling online versus local, and tips I have learned on how to sell your items for the most amount of money.

I have sold things many different ways over the years.  When we decided to sell half of our belongings to move out to Virginia it was really quite simple as I had already been using these resources for years.  I knew how each worked, how to competitively price things, and how to close a deal quickly.  I used almost all of these in the 6 weeks that I had to sell our belongings before moving last summer. We were able to get rid of so much stuff and went from 3200 square feet of living space to about 1200! And we made so much money selling our stuff it paid for our move out here!

I am still getting rid of things! Some of the smaller things that did not sell because I did not have time or they were not in season came with us to Virginia, and I am making my way through the totes.  This is the way I make a little spending money on the side. J  Will I eventually run out of things to sell?  Possibly, but once we downsized I learned I do not need as much stuff to lead a happy and content life, so I am paring down even more.

So let’s begin……  The different resources I have used are:

  • eBay – Used to sell higher-end clothing, handbags, and shoes; smaller high-end or like new household items; gently used electronics; smaller antiques; books and home school books; yarn and craft supplies.

  • Consignment Stores – Nicer name brand clothing without flaws. The clothing would be ones you would like to get more than a dollar or two per item.

  • Children’s stores that buy directly from you, such as Once Upon a Child. These places buy brand name children clothing. The stores will give you less than a consignment store for your items, but the perk is you get a check the day you take your stuff in.  Perfect if you need fast cash and don’t have time to wait for a consignment store to sell your stuff or you don’t want to have a garage sale. Once Upon a Child is located all over the US and most likely there is one in your state.

  • Craigslist – Larger items like furniture or appliances, outdoor equipment, vehicles, musical instruments, and heavier antiques. I use this to sell things I know people will want to look at before they make a commitment to buy and heavier items that would not ship well.

  • Facebook Selling Groups – Used the same as Craigslist. Most towns have these groups available.  I usually cross-list the things here with Craigslist for a wider audience.  I also list things occasionally on my personal facebook page to let my friends know what I am selling.  I sold a bed headboard for $500, a sofa and loveseat for $750, and coffee table and end tables for $300 within hours because I posted them to my friends first. I have also bought furniture this way before.  Buying used is so much nicer when you know the past owner!

  • Garage sales – Everything else.  Remember garage salers are looking for a deal.  Rarely do you get a really good price for even high end items.  I usually use the resources above first and then have a garage sale with everything that is left over.

When using online resources there are a few thing to keep in mind; take good pictures, write a good description, and be prompt in answering any questions. The more information you provide the more likely you will be to sell your item at a good price! I will go into more detail on this in upcoming posts.

With everything it is best to sell things in season.  Sell lawn mowers in March- July, snow blowers in October- February.  If selling clothes, you’ll get the highest dollar if you sell things right before the season they are appropriate for.  I have made good money selling my kids’ Christmas and Easter outfits 4-8 weeks before the holiday.  If selling home school books or textbooks, list them in June or July when most people are looking for books for school in August. 

Also, be honest in your descriptions.  If there is a slight flaw don’t be afraid to still try to sell it, just be honest in how it works or looks.  Sometimes people will still be willing to buy it in less than perfect condition.  I once sold a coffee pot on a facebook selling group that had a small leak.  I still got $20 for it because I sold it to a man who was handy and thought he could fix it.  Sometimes my textbooks will have margin notes or highlighting.  These still sell, just at a slightly lower price.

Garage sales are the exception to selling in season because people shopping garage sales are usually thinking ahead and willing to buy off season items, if they can get them for a good price. But even at garage sales seasonal items sell best!


Next time I will go into the particulars of selling on eBay; such as how I amassed a small fortune selling yarn for one of Chad’s co-workers and how I got retail prices on used kids clothing.   I usually get the most questions on how to use and what to list on eBay.  I will try to answer the most common questions.  If you have any questions please feel free to email me or leave a comment and I will try to cover them in next week’s post!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Beauty of Virginia

Even though I was born and raised in Nebraska, I have always wanted to live by the mountains.  Now don't get me wrong.....I love my home state and there is something very wild and beautiful in the flat miles of cornfields, the windmills in an open pasture, and the vast stretches of empty sandhills in the panhandle. But Virginia has a different kind of beauty.  I love the winding roads through forests that open into rolling pastures with farms and herds of cattle.  I love the mountains that offer panoramic of views at the top.  I love to hike the trails that are abundant through this state, through the leafy green hardwoods in the spring and summer and the crunching leaves in the fall. And I love the fact we have countless hiking trails just a short drive from our home.

I also love the history that is right at our fingertips.  For a history buff like myself, being in the heart of civil war country is very exciting.  Why, just down the road from where we live you can see where Lee surrendered to Grant! In a 3 hour drive we could go to Washington DC, Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, Richmond, or the beach. We could live here the rest of our lives and have new things to explore!

Last weekend we spent time with my brother up in Northern Virginia.  He and his sweet wife just bought a beautiful home in the mountains.  While we were there we were able to take a hike around a lake that is down the road from their home.  Today I want to share a few pictures I took.

Here is the lake we hiked around.....


Remy on our hike....he really blends in!!

The geese on the lake.....

I am excited to hike this in the spring if it was this pretty in the winter......

We hiked around the entire lake which was about 2.5 miles.  Koda came along and loved it as well.  Especially the jumping in the lake part!  We were quite the crew with Chad, Remy, Koda and I as well as my brother, sister-in-law, their two granddaughters and two dogs! We had a fun time!



On the way home we stopped at an old covered bridge for a few pictures...

I can imagine all the horses and buggies that have driven through here over the years! 

The tree lined road that goes up to the bridge.  I will definitely be back for more pictures this spring!

We had a great spring break!!  Remy is on his spring break now spending this week with 3 of his uncles deep sea fishing in the Atlantic!  This is the trip of a lifetime for him.....I am just praying he doesn't get sea sick.  He has never been on the ocean before!  Hopefully I will be able to get a lot of blog work done this week! :-)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring Break

This week is spring break for Chad so I am going to take a little break from blogging so I can spend time with him.  But first, I will show you a few pictures I took today around the acreage.  It was beautiful weather so we spent quite a bit of time outside.  We are so ready for spring, and flowers, and garden plans!

I love this cow's face.  She was pretty friendly when I leaned over the fence to take her picture.


Our nearest neighbors......

Here is the spot of my future garden.  See the compost pile in the left corner?

My flower bed is aching for some prettiness!!

Chad and Remy trimmed the pine trees today so I can see the mountains better from my kitchen window.  They also rehung the bird feeder.


Here is the view I can see now that the trees are trimmed!


And lastly....I spent a little time rocking today.  Looking forward to warm evenings on the front porch!


Hope you all have a nice week.  I will be back next week with a post on how we downsized and the things I did to get rid of so much stuff!  Have a beautiful week, friends!!

Friday, March 7, 2014

How We Taught Our Kids About Money

Today I am going to talk a little bit on how we taught our children about money.  While I am not an expert by any means, this is what worked for our family.  Hopefully at least some of the things I share will be helpful to you.

Naomi in 2005

We first started teaching our children about money back in 2005.  At that point in my life I was pretty awful at handling my own money.  Regardless of this fact, I did start our children out on the right foot with money.  During that summer we had a pool membership and we would go swimming with our friends at least once a week. It never failed that while we were there the kids would want snacks and I would end up spending $15-$20, just on snacks, and then going to get ice cream afterwards as well.  My girls were 11, 9, and 9 at the time, so I thought this would be as good a time as any to start teaching them about money and budgeting.  I started a chore list of household tasks apart from keeping their rooms picked up.  Rooms had to kept neat and they were not paid for that.  Chores included loading and unloading the dishwasher, cleaning the bathrooms, dusting the house, vacuuming, and watering the flowers outside.  They each had assigned chores.  Every week I would pay them a commission based on the chores they completed; the chores had to be done on-time and done right.  It ended up being about $8 a week per child. (This increased as they got older.)  This money was to be used to buy snacks or anything else they wanted.  They could spend it all at the pool, or they could save it to buy bigger things after a month or two.  I didn't dictate how to spend it, other than the fact that 10% needed to be saved and 10% could go to a charity of their choice.  I also told them I would no longer be buying snacks at the pool and that they had to use their money if they wanted something.  (I still occasionally would treat them to ice cream afterwards though.)  This was a good start and way to teach them how to handle and budget money, and we continued this for the next several years.

It was when I was getting a hold of my own finances that I heard Dave Ramsey talk about giving his kids a stipend.  Teenage children were given a larger sum of money each month, basically the amount typically spent on them apart from food at home and basic toiletries. This would be money for activities with church or school, clothing, and beauty products/haircuts; pretty much anything a teenager comes and asks his/her parents money for.  This was separate from the commission we gave them, and once they became old enough to get jobs we no longer did commission, just the stipend.  They still had things they had to do as members of the family, like keeping their room clean, doing their own laundry, cleaning their bathroom, and cleaning up the kitchen if they cooked. These had to be done properly every week or they were grounded from going out with friends.



I remember when we went to the girls and told them we were going to be giving them a fairly substantial amount of money every month, their eyes got huge!  This was exciting for them.  As the months progressed it was interesting to see how they handled their money.  One was freer with her money than the other two.  There were a few tough months for her when she ran out of money before the month was over.  We had to stick to our guns a few times when she came and asked for an advance on next month’s stipend.  But as the month progressed they all became better at budgeting their money.  We did occasionally help them out for special occasions.  At prom time we told our oldest daughter we would contribute $75 to prom in addition to her monthly stipend.  Everything else had to be covered from money from her stipend or job.  She wanted a more expensive dress, so she put it on lay-away and paid it off over a few months.

Since they all had been working regular jobs for over a year before their 16th birthday they were able to save for cars.  Our plan was to match their savings up to a certain amount for there cars.  Our oldest daughter ended up buying my old car from us, so instead of matching we sold it to her for a reduced price.  The twins had saved way over the maximum we were going to contribute so they were able to get very nice cars when they turned 16.  With cars came responsibilities as a car owner.  Since they had jobs they were expected to pay for their car insurance as well as every other oil change. They needed to be mindful of these extra bills and budget accordingly.  Any bigger issues like tires or mechanical issues were split with us. We wanted them to be used to paying bills and know what responsibilities they would have once they got on their own.

Naomi and Nakoma with the car that Naomi saved for.

By the time the girls were in their last year of school, they were handling their money like adults.  They had learned to budget, to save, and to pay their bills on time. 

We plan to do the same with Rem in a year or two.  Right now he is 12 and is only on commission. Some weeks he does not get all of his chores for the week completed so his pay is cut.  Just like in the real world; if he doesn't work, he doesn't get paid.  He also has to save 10% and give 10%, just like his sisters.  Usually he saves for about half a year and then gives to a charity of his choice. He also, by himself, started an additional savings envelope for hunting and fishing supplies. If he does any work for friends or neighbors, he also has to save and give every time, but then he is free to do what he wants with the other 80%.  In my opinion, saving and giving is one of the most important lessons in teaching your children about money. 

It is getting to be more often that he is asking for $10 here or $20 there, so it may be time to start teaching him a bit more about budgeting.  Since he is younger, we may start out by setting $50- $75 aside each month that can be used for clothes he needs or activities he wants to do. He would have freedom in those areas to choose how he wants to spend the money.  If he wants to buy a new pair of $75 cowboy boots (because yes, they cost at least that much!), he won’t be able to go to basketball games with Chad for that month.  Or, he can save half of it for a couple months and buy the new boots while still going to games. I believe things like this are best learned early, and if we teach them these concepts at a young age they will be better equipped to handle money as adults. Obviously everyone’s financial situation is different, but even a little bit money and freedom to choose how to spend it is good for children. They will make mistakes with it at times, but it is better that they learn now, while they are under your roof, than later when they are on their own.

So that is a little of what we have done with our children. What tips do you have about teaching children about money?