Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes...

When my husband and I were dating we decided we would not have a television in our home. Both sets of parents mocked our decision, and my mother said, "Wait til you have kids." As with everything else in my life, I wanted to prove her negative-ism toward me wrong. Anytime we even thought about having a tv, just those words from my mother were enough to stop my thoughts in their tracks.
But I didn't realize that there was another venue besides television that would allow us to watch videos, movies, and even tv shows: the internet--primarily YouTube and Hulu. Sadly, this was introduced to me just after my first daughter was born--this and Facebook. These two "resources" became my sole forms of entertainment in those first several months of adjusting to be "stuck at home" all the time. But we still held to our decision not to have a tv in our home.
We had numerous reasons for our decision. The primary one being that anytime you're in a home with a television, that television is always set up in a spot that makes it the center of attention in the home--and if it's there, it's going to be turned on. It always drove us crazy when either of us was home during school vacations how the tv just seemed to always be on. My husband decided we would never set up a tv as a center focal point of our home or as a primary form of entertainment. (Good goals, right?)
I find it a lame excuse to say that sitting around the tv is quality family time. Quality family time consists of fellowshipping and interacting with one another--this is not done while everyone's eyes are glued to a tv screen. If anything, the opposite happens. Frustration arises when one person rustles in the bag of chips and no one else can hear because they're too noisy. Annoyance takes hold when someone starts to walk from the room and for some reason pauses in front of the tv screen and no one can see. Rather than bonding with one another, family members become contentious.
Another reason was because there is so little good on tv. To define good, I mean something that you don't need to apologize to God for watching or listening to. Why place such a distraction and temptation in our home? Why put something in front of our eyes and ears that we have to so closely monitor? Why not keep that temptation far from us? As I've told my daughter when she likes to walk the line as close to something as she can, "When mommy tells you to stay away from something, you need to stay as far away as you can." We said, "I will put no wicked thing before mine eyes..." Psalm 101:3.

But somehow, that wicked contraption ended up in our home. It's bothered me ever since the day we hooked it up as a tv, but recently it has become a great frustration to me. We were in the market for a new computer monitor, and my husband wanted something bigger. While in WalMart one night he looked at tv sets and found one at a great clearance price, and purchased that as our new monitor. That lasted for a while, but for me it was TOO big to sit so close to it. So it got moved to the living room and was set up as a tv. It seemed pretty innocent since all we get is about 15 channels, and all we watched was PBS. But then we started watching other tv shows recently, and we had some DVDs given to us. The girls wake up an hour apart in the morning, so PBS would keep Emma entertained in the morning. When I have extra work to do around the house and just need to keep them entertained, I pop them in front of the tv. When my husband comes home and needs some extra time to relax, he turns on the tv because it distracts the girls from bothering him. Sunday afternoons they'll sit in front of the tv and enjoy a bowl of popcorn as a snack before church. It almost feels as if we wouldn't be able to function if the tv were taken from our home!
This is what I wanted to avoid. My girls are extremely active and have very active imaginations--they don't need a tv. Yes, it can be educational, but my daughter was doing just fine learning her alphabet and counting before we had a tv. The tv is not to be her teacher!
And what is she seeing and hearing on tv? I'm very careful about what goes in the eye gate of my girls. I also try to be just as careful about what goes in the ear gate. Until recently, I thought I was doing a good job. But a few weeks ago, my three-year-old started saying, "Oh, gunt." It took til the second time she said it to understand she was trying to say something along the lines of, "Oh, gosh." (At least, I thought that's what she was saying. I've realized since then that it's possible that she was just making up a word because that's a new learning phase she is going through.) I talked to her about how some words are not good words to say and that the her God's feelings when we say them. I told her that "gosh" was one of those words and she isn't to say it.
I had honestly never heard that word on any of her shows, but at least twice since then I have heard it and she immediately jumped up and said, "He said 'Oh, gosh,' Mommy. That's a bad word." So while this isn't what I would have chosen, I have used this as a learning tool to tell her that we can't watch things and listen to things that say bad words, and we turn off her show. I've also picked up on the word, "gee" over the last few days. How did I miss this? I'm really not that desensitized, am I? I never watched stuff with cussing or bad stuff in it when I was growing up, so I guess I just assumed I wasn't desensitized to what was on tv.
Due to these circumstances, I've become highly frustrated that we've allowed that tv into our home, and I'm ashamed that I've allowed it to become a focal point and a babysitter for my kids. I hope to rectify this soon. I've only just mentioned this to my husband, so I don't know what our decision will be as far as rectifying this. I know my kids will (dramatically) fall apart without a tv--at least for the first several days. I know I would greatly miss using the tv to allow me to get some things done.
Is it completely wrong to use a tv as a babysitter once in a while? Is it wrong to keep a tv in a home just for an occasional viewing? These and so many other questions keep whirling around in my head. I know the Lord will help us know what to do and what decision to make for our family.
I want so greatly to protect my girls from the wickedness and perversions of this world. Everything that goes in their eye gate they see and for the most part remember--especially when they see the same episode several times! And everything that (again, especially repeatedly) goes in the ear gate, gets repeated. Rather than correcting my child for repeating something that I allowed her to hear, should I not keep her from hearing it in the first place? If we put good into our kids, then they will learn and understand what is good. They will sin plenty because that is their nature. Why must I encourage that sin by placing temptation in front of them?
And this doesn't even touch on the music that they're hearing in the various kids shows that they've seen...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Ham & Cheese Croissants

Pillsbury crescent rolls are one of my weaknesses but something I rarely allow myself to buy. I splurged yesterday and got two, so here's what we had for lunch today!

Gather ingredients...

Brake cheese in half and lay in triangles. I put together two pieces of ham and cut in half and placed in triangles.

Roll them up and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until golden.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Market

I've revived! I was so busy last week I barely had a chance to realize that I hadn't blogged. I started doing a blog post for my daughter's birthday last week, but just didn't get it finished. Now I'll be able to include the fun memories from her birthday party as well!

Last week there was no Market Monday because we only had $2 left to our names for the rest of the month--due to a bit of miscommunication with our new insurance company and when they were suppose to draft! However, the Lord blessed us with some extra money this past weekend which allowed us to have some grocery money this morning. I feel almost guilty for using some of that money toward Oreos--but they came out as "free" after coupons, so there goes the guilt. :)


This past week Winn-Dixie had an online printable coupon for $5/$30, so I wanted to work that to my advantage! I worked together $60 worth of groceries on my list and headed to the store. I used 2 of those coupons, and had vouchers from Nabisco and Lender's due to customer satisfaction issues, so the bagels and one pack of Oreos were free! I have never bought fruit gummies for my kids, and still not sure what I think about it, but with them being BOGO and the $4/4 coupon, I figure it couldn't hurt to have them around as an occasional treat! My husband has the world's biggest sweet tooth, and rarely do I give in to it with candy--which is really his preference over baked goods. So I got him some of the BOGO candy, but will try to keep it hidden til Easter! I picked up some more Kraft dressing to use as marinades for freezing my meats, and love that Bertolli pasta sauce, so couldn't resist that! The french fries were a splurge for my daughter. She loves chicken and french fries, which was always something she would get when she went to eat lunch at work with Daddy. However, she is no longer eats for free at the dining room where he eats, so her lunches with Daddy will become much more infrequent. :(

This week seem to have been more of "splurge" items, but I'm trying to get my wheels out of some ruts. I've overcome the hill of, "I have a coupon so I have to buy it!" And I've even gotten over the hill of, "I don't have a coupon, so we can't buy it!" But I haven't fully gotten past, "It's not on sale, so we can't get it." There are many items and things that we use to eat and enjoy that we haven't had in ages because they never go on sale or if they do the don't have a coupon match up, so I write it off as an unnecessary expense. However, as my husband keeps urging me, if it's something I'll eat, it's not an unnecessary expense. (Although, I'm pretty sure Oreos wasn't what he had in mind when he said that!) But this week I enjoyed relaxing myself a little bit and getting not just necessities, but a few pleasure items--which many worked out to FREE because of using two of the $5/$30 coupons--so it wasn't so bad! The crescent rolls were one of the items my husband was referring to with his statement, so I excitedly grabbed two of those. I LOVE Pillsbury crescent rolls!

So, in summary, I bought 32 items, used 17 coupons, spent $20.55, and saved $71.22!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mom2Mom - Moms blessing Moms

The logo on the new Mom2Mom t-shirts accurately describes how the Mom2Mom sale has affected our family. I want to give a special thanks to Anne and Lisa and to their families for all of the hard work and time that they put into our local Mom2Mom sale. I know these families sacrifice quite a bit of time, not just for the one week of each sale they hold, but year round as they prepare sale flyers, update and perfect their tagging system and software, building more racks for clothes to hang on, reserving facilities, and SOOO much more. Just watching Anne and Lisa at the sales makes me tired!

One tough financial decision in today's economy is to choose to be a stay-at-home mom and live on one income. But God promises to provide for our needs. Along with blessing us with children, God also blessed us with the Mom2Mom sale. Anne and Lisa, I want you to know how much God has used your hard work in the life of my family . I want you to know that I greatly appreciate all that your families put into these sales.

I grew up living off of hand-me-down clothes, and not ones that fit. We got the bags of clothes that people didn't even want to take to Goodwill. But that is how God provided for my family growing up. Naturally, every parent wants better for their child, and I am no different. But my husband works for a ministry, and while one income is a struggle for anyone, ours is a rather small one. I couldn't see that my children would possibly have better than I had growing up. But then, when I was pregnant with my first daughter, someone asked me if I had heard of the Mom2Mom sale. I was told it was a consignment sale where I might be able to find some things for our new baby.

Might was such an understatement. When I showed up for my first shopping trip at a Mom2Mom sale, I was SO overwhelmed! I think I spent the first hour just standing there watching everyone. It was incredible!

Thanks to Anne and Lisa and the work that they and their families do, my girls have all of their clothing needs met, and even come out with some things on their (or Mommy's) "want" list. I had never shopped in real stores for clothes for myself, and now I never shop in real stores for my kids. Yet, unless I told people (which I do, why not brag on God's goodness!), no one would ever know that my kids clothes were pre-owned. My girls wear all big-name brand clothing, and can hob-knob with the "preppy" kids, and never feel out of place or ashamed of their appearance. While some people boast how much they paid for their kids clothing and other items, I boast on how little!

Even Mommy has benefited from the sale! Of course I've found maternity clothes there, but I've also found many of my normal, everyday wear in the juniors section. So, it doesn't help me look my age, but it keeps us on budget!

I have also been blessed to work with Anne and Lisa for volunteer shifts each sale, and they are always such a sweet blessing to me. I've interacted more with Lisa than with Anne, and I always walk away feeling so encouraged and like she's a good friend, even though we only talk twice a year!

I've had people ask me if I shop at Mom2Mom, and my honest answer is always, "I don't shop anywhere else!" Very, very rarely do I set foot in a "real" store in search of clothes, and almost as rarely do I go to a store in search of any other children's item. God has truly used the Mom2Mom sale to bless our family and provide for our needs and even to fulfill some of our desires.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are mine and Emma's favorite! I absolutely love pumpkin, and since my second pregnancy, I've also learned to love chocolate. Naturally, I altered the recipe, and you can view the original recipe here. I'm including the nuts on the recipe, but I've never actually made the cookies with the nuts. I might try it sometime, but for cost purposes (and DH's preferences) I haven't tried it yet.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 c canned pumpkin
1 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 egg (replacer ) --Ener-G works, but I usually just add an extra 1/4c pumpkin

1 c AP flour
1 c WW flour
2 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 t almond milk
1 T vanilla extract

1-2 c chocolate chips (I usually do closer to 1.5 just to make the chips last longer)
1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg replacer.
2. In a separate bowl combine flour, powder, cinnamon, and salt.
3. Dissolve soda with milk and add to flour mixture. (I usually mess this step up and put the soda in the dry mix and add the milk to the wet. ...oops. Doesn't seem to make a big difference!)
4. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
5. Add vanilla, chips, and nuts.
6. Drop by spoonful on greased (or paper lined) cookie sheet and bake at 350 F for approximately 10 mintues.

Note: Either my oven is off, or the time on the recipe is off. I'm voting for my oven since I have to adjust the cooking time on nearly everything I make. I bumped my oven temp up and these still took longer than 10 minutes.

These are a soft cookie, so be careful not to over bake!

I feel the need to note somewhere, and here as good a place as any, that I am definitely not a photographer! No matter what camera I have or how hard I try, I can not take a decent picture. But whether the picture looks good or not, these cookies are awesome!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Market

This last week has been SO busy getting ready for our local Mom2Mom swap that I hadn't even had a chance to really look at the sales ads, I just knew I needed to take advantage of the gas coupon! Well, we've already used up our gas budget for the month (thanks to the gas prices!) so the gas gift card was coming out of our grocery money, which we already determined we were trying to keep low this month. So, as much as I would have loved to snag a few of those gift cards, I had to restrict myself to just one. :(
So, I got all the stuff that I could get for pretty much free! :) Here's what I got--25 grocery items + a $50 gas gift card, and I only spent $41.66! Wish I'd had more Raisin Bran coupons, or a way of getting it cheaper. That's my husband's favorite!

No, the tractor in the background was not included in our trip! It's one of those horribly noisy toys that makes noise when you move it, and my girls were sleeping. I decided it could stay in the picture. :)
Poor Emma got excited about the smoothies, but can't have them Guess we'll be making some custom ones! Can't wait for summer so we can put more blueberries in the freezer! A few weeks ago she'd specially requested Capri Sun's for her birthday. I hope these Minute Maids will suffice!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Money in the Bank!

My (almost) three year old loves money---don't we all?! While many people will say that you shouldn't discuss money with young children because it adds an unnecessary burden to their young shoulders, I beg to differ. I do agree that there is no need to lay a heavy responsibility on a young person where money is concerned. Meaning, they don't need you to tell them about all of your bills that are (barely) getting paid, all of your outstanding debt, that you might not have a house if you don't pay a certain bill, etc. But I do think that we can start instilling important values in our children at a very young age to help them to understand the importance of being responsible with their money---and hopefully, they won't have to worry about all of the problems mentioned in the previous sentence!

In my home growing up, money was always scarce, and it was a burden to every member of our family. But there was still a credit card. We might not be able to put food on the table or pay bills, but if there was something that my dad really wanted, or if there was something that really had to be paid, out came the credit card. Neither my husband nor I were really trained in how to manage finances, and in my case, that's because my parents didn't manage theirs. They just survived--somehow. No one ever taught us that if you don't have the cash in the bank to pay for it, then don't put it on a credit card.
We've had a long, hard road in the short five years we've been married, and a lot of debt has been put on credit cards. We would have loved to do the Dave Ramsey program, but we couldn't even afford to do that by the time we realized how far we had sunk. We are (slowly) by the grace of God, beginning to float back to the top of the pool we have been drowning in. Over a year ago we chopped up all of our credit cards and started living cash-only. Not an easy thing to do when we are living on one income and our debt was 60% of our annual income!

I desperately tried to learn how to save money with coupons, and was failing miserably. The only thing that kept me fighting my way through sales ads, coupon clipping and organizing, money-saving blogs, and all the lingo floating around on those sites is that fact that I had to do this. Couponing was going to be key in our fight for survival. God brought two ladies along my path who each had been couponing for a while and each held a couponing class. Between these two classes, and the fact that I'd been trying my hand at this for some months prior to a class, I began to have "successful" money-saving shopping trips. The fight was hard, my stress level (and sometimes my blood pressure) was high, but I kept plugging away. Eventually, I was bringing home receipts of 50%, 70% and even 90% savings! Now it's the norm for me to see such savings reflected on my receipt, and I get disappointed when I have to buy basic items that never go on sale and my receipt doesn't reflect at least a 30% savings. I still get elated with each money-saving shopping trip.

We now actually have a savings account and money in that account! Each month I pull out the budgeted amount of money for groceries (in cash), and each month I have a goal for how much I want to have left in my wallet at the end of the month. Some months it is more, and some it is less, but whatever it is, that excess goes into our savings account. Last month our bank account actually had money left in it at the end of the month! And we put that into savings. Each time I get a cash-rebate on an item, rather than putting that money back into my grocery budget, we automatically deposit the rebate into our savings account.

So now we are a cash-only household with a growing savings account---but still a small mountain of debt remaining. At the beginning of this year we sat down and wrote out some financial goals. Our main goal was to be out of debt by the end of this year. We've had a few hindrances and obstacles come up, but we're still aiming for it anyway. Emma, a major Daddy's girl, frequently complains or asks about Daddy going to work. But she also will tell you why he goes to work, so that we can live in our house and have food to eat and can put gas in our car. I think we can easily relay these concepts of earning and spending money into our children at an early age.

We don't share our financial burdens with our daughter. But she does know that sometimes we can't do things because they cost too much money. Why shouldn't a child be taught such a thing? It would be a bigger crime for both the parent and the child if the parent indulged the child's every whim, and the child never had a concept of paying his way. (I went to college with plenty of kids who had no concept of paying for anything--I often wondered (and still do) how those kids survive once they hit the real world and have to start earning their keep.) My daughter will often tell someone, "I want to do something, but we can't because we don't have lots and lots of money," or something along those lines. I'm not teaching her that so people can feel sorry for her and giver her a hand-out. I'm teaching her that so that she realizes that we can't just have whatever we want whenever we want it. In part this is teaching her to deny her flesh. One thing we stress over and over is that God has blessed us with the things we have, and that we need to remember to be thankful for what He has given us. Now when we say something like that she will stop what she's doing and thank God for whatever item we are talking about at the moment. (She's so cute!) It is important to help my child learn thankfulness and contentment.

Over the last few months, there have been large things that Emma has asked for and has been told that we can't do because we don't have enough money. At this point, the concept of money was too far over her head. So we decided to bring it down to her level, and now I'm getting to the real point of this whole post. We discussed some jobs that we knew or thought she should be able to handle, and we downloaded a chore chart for her, and customized it in Adobe. To get this:
We've been doing this now for three weeks, and it is now habit for her to open the blinds when she gets up and close them when Daddy comes home (or the sun goes down). She still needs reminded to put on clean panties each day. :) But each of these items on this list are becoming habit now. No, we don't make our three-year-old take out the trash, but she likes to put the clean bag in the can, so we made that one of her jobs. These are simple tasks, but she's learning responsibility, and she love to be able to put a star on the chart! (We had been using stickers, but ran out, so now I just draw a star on the chart.) For each completed chart she gets $1.
Up to this point, we still haven't gotten to the money side of the chart yet. She knows that when she does a job she gets a star, and when all of the boxes have stars she gets money. She also knows that she is saving her money to go to the circus, "A long time away," in October. But because I've had no easy way of keeping track of her money, I haven't really paid her anything yet. In addition to saving money for the circus, I wanted her to begin learning the concept of offering her money to God. She already takes money to Sunday School each week, but of course it's our money. Since she is going to be making money, I want her to understand that it needs to be her money that goes in the offering. I also think it would be nice for her to have some money of her own to spend on something from time to time. And so, after a (very) little bit of searching, I found this:I love it!! This is a transparent (meaning my daughter can see what's in it) piggy bank with 4 different compartments: save, spend, donate (offering), and invest. The only thing that could make it better is if it kept track of how much was in there! I think this just landed high on her birthday list. :) I've noticed in the last few days a lack of excitement in her chores. While I do want her to obey because she was told to do something, this is a little different. This is a job she was given and told she'd be paid for. Wouldn't you lose your enthusiasm for your job if you weren't getting paid (or rewarded)? Well, I think this will help bring the excitement back as she'll be able to see the money she's earning and be able to begin learning now the responsibility of saving some, the freedom of spending some, and the reward of giving some. Not sure what to do with the "invest" section yet. :)

I saw some systems that do keep track of the child's money, like an ATM system. But she will tell you that credit cards are pretend money and are not good to use. I thought it would be somewhat backward reasoning if we got her something that required her to use a debit card. If someone else has something they've used or an idea they like, I'm open for suggestions!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Help Wanted! (Status Restrictions Apply!)

I grew up--well, during my teenage years--serving in a church. I taught Sunday School and Jr. Church, I worked in the nursery, I sang in church regularly, I played clarinet or piano in church. I cleaned the church. I helped plan and organize functions. I did set up and clean up for numerous functions. I was in a place where servants were needed, and for the most part, nobody was turned away.

Then I went to college. Church was a bit different because it was HUGE, and certain requirements were needed in order to serve in different areas. In the long run, I wasn't able to do much for church because I worked through most church services. I did manage to work in the church nursery a few semesters.

After college, my husband and I were members of and served in a small, local church where had interned during college. Again, we had the opportunity to serve. We sang in church, we worked in the bus ministry (which I loved!), we taught Jr. Church, I helped with dinner on the grounds, I helped with the annual teen banquet--again, pretty much nobody who was willing was turned away.

For multiple reasons, we moved away from that local church and began attending another local church--a much larger local church. The church services are broadcasted, so much work goes into any type of special music done in church. My instrumental talents are not good enough to be used in church. I have neither the appearance or am of the right clique to be able to sing in church. I could be in choir, except that the practice times are difficult for our family to work with with our children.
I was asked at some point to be a backup nursery supervisor. I was very excited. The nursery is probably on my top-three list of areas to serve in a church. One time I was asked ahead of time if I could cover a service, and I had to say no. I was then removed from the list--but I was notified. I just kind of noticed one day. Partly because I kept volunteering to cover shifts when I knew someone would be out. Or on those Sundays when babies are many but workers are few, I would volunteer to help. I would be told, "No, I think we'll be okay." And then see other people filling those spots instead. I know I shouldn't be so petty and sensitive about things, but this was something I wanted and love to do. Perhaps because my parenting philosophies so greatly differ from many in the nursery? I don't know. I could handle it if I knew why I can't do more in there!
Some of the other areas of interest are not necessarily the "fault" of the church that we're not serving in them. We would love to work in the Sunday night children's ministry. However, the man who heads up that ministry has been--difficult--with my husband on the day-to-day job front. So for that reason alone, my husband doesn't feel like dealing with him at church. I realize this is a problem on our side. But this could be a down fall to everyone working and living and going to church all at one place! Again, however, because of our children, serving in this ministry would not be overly convenient since they are still too young to participate in that ministry, and no nursery is provided during part of that time.
I love to coordinate functions and help with set-up and break-down from different functions at normal churches. However, our church has a catering service that takes care of everything for normal functions. So there's no need for help in that area, either.

Overall, we chose the church we're in, and I do prefer the structure of the children's ministries at this church, which is the primary reason we chose this church. Once it came to deciding on church because of how are kids would be trained and influenced by the people at church, we chose this one. But I long to be back in a place where servants are needed and wanted. Where people offer help, and they are gladly accepted. Where no matter who you are, where you've been, who you know, who you're related to (okay, well that will come up at any church!), or what you look like (not just facial appearance, but clothing and hairstyle as well), as long as you're a willing vessel, you can still be used.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Make Ahead Meals - Chicken

I almost always buy my meat at Sam's, because no matter what, that's usually the cheapest way to go. At the beginning of this month I got boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.77/lb. I bought two packages as close to $10 as possible.
Before I get started on the chicken, I pull out a dozen or so freezer bags and date them. I then make my own home-made Chicken Teriyaki Sauce, my own BBQ sauce (still tweaking that recipe), and I have made my own Italian dressing. I also stock the Kraft dressings (or whatever brand) when I can get them for almost free. I buy the ones that are good for marinades (and of course dairy-free).
BBQ Sauce

I pre-wash my chicken, in preparation to be frozen. We prefer chicken tenders to a whole breast (it cooks up faster, and usually more tender), so I cut the breast into two or three strips, depending on the size of the breast. I then place 5-6 tenders in each bag. (Two each for my husband and me, and one for each of the girls.)

Then I add some of marinade to each bag. I now have several ready-to-bake (or grill) chicken meals! If I forget to thaw the meat in the morning, then I just put it in a glass dish close to dinner time, pop it in the oven, and preheat it with the oven. I usually set it to 400 degrees, and it's ready in about 25 minutes. Just enough time to make some rice to go with it! However, we prefer it on the grill, so that is usually how we will cook it up. Either way, it's nice to have it all ready to go, rather than trying to figure out, "How should I fix this tonight?"

This last time I also breaded up some chicken, par froze it on a baking sheet, and then bagged it up. These came out great!

I also did this with pork chops. We just buy the assorted pork chops at Sam's, and my husband loves them on the grill! It's actually the only way he'll eat them! They taste really good with the teriyaki marinade. Yum!

Monday Market

I know I'm a day late, but I was too tired yesterday to do anything more than I absolutely had to. Not sure why I've been so tired lately...but I have confirmation that it's not the first thing that popped into everyone's head (although I definitely would not complain if it were!). :)

Yesterday was a simple shopping day, as I'm anticipating all month. We are well stocked on many things and don't really need to spend much grocery money. This will be a big blessing this month as yesterday had an unexpected expense that nearly brought me to tears of frustration.

I'm still keeping this short and simple. I paid $7.41 and saved $23.04. The bakery item was a splurge for my husband. He grew up in Europe with real bread, and Publix bakery just started a new line of Italian inspired rolls that are par-baked in a stone oven. He loved it!

The Quaker cereal is one of my girls' favorite snack foods--and pretty healthy too!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Off the Cuff - On Biblical Discipline

***Off the Cuff means just that--this post is written off the cuff. There may be references to something I read somewhere or saw somewhere, and I will try to give as many specifics off of the top of my head as possible, but this is not a research paper. If I quote someone, I will cite it. But this is not intended to be a thorough examination of a topic. Rather, a way for me to get some thought rolling from my head and onto paper. Generally my "Off the Cuff" posts will be something that I am currently researching or planning to research more thoroughtly, and I will hopefully post a more thorough "research paper" on the subject when a conclusion is reached.***

This is by NO means a post of guidance for others searching out methods of biblical discipline. Rather, these are some ramblings from when researching other methods of discipline. I just like to put my thoughts on paper, so I'll just ramble here. :)

The methods of discipline that I grew up under are a far cry from the methods of discipline that I want my children to be guided and trained by. There is no need for yelling, abusive-like hitting, name calling, grudge-holding, day-long fighting/arguing, or anything else so extreme. One might say that if there were day-long arguments ensuing between parent and child, that I obviously was being disciplined or trained properly. But I disagree. Arguing and challenging authority was exactly what I was being trained to do, while being disciplined for it at the same time. I also submit that to punish and to train are two different things, and that to discipline and to train, while they often do go hand-in-hand, are not synonymous terms.

I think first, what needs to be determined is the purpose for training. There are numerous books on parenting, each giving a method of disciplining and training a child. But why do we train our children? I'm sure all parenting books written from a "Christian" perspective will claim that their purpose is to help you lead your child to Christ. And afterall, isn't that every Christian parent's ultimate goal? But how many parents think of the word "train"? Don't most think that to punish? Isn't every young parent told by their parents, their peers, their pastor, and even by books that they need to: "Spank that child (more)", "Let that baby cry it out", "Don't be afraid to let them know who's the parent!" How many young parents stop and ask, "What is the purpose of what I am doing to my child?" Do they stop to think, "Am I doing this so that my child does what I want?" Or do they ask themselves, "Is this going to help my child know and understand the love of God?" As Christians, our purpose should be to train our children in the ways of God. With this in mind, I believe our care and training of our children should reflect the way that God cares for and trains us.

Once you've determined your purpose for training, you might better be able to determine your method of discipline. It is important to note that the Bible does not give a fool-proof method of child rearing. So for one method to claim to be the biblical way is dangerous, because the Bible is overly clear on one right way. This leaves it up to the parent, in wisdom and through God's guidance, along with a healthy relationship and knowledge of the child, to decide what is best for the parent, the child, and the family.

Many books, though not said in so many words, conduct a parent to train a child for selfish means. Some parenting books will guide a parent to repeatedly spank or whip child until the child bends to the parent's will immediately upon a command being given. The one example that I have is the book, To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl. It has been several months since I began reading their book. (I never finished it because I disagreed with it. But I do plan to go back and finish it for the purpose of research.) I remember a part of his book where he suggests whipping a child until the child has no more breath with which to cry or complain. How anyone can read this and not have warning bells of "this sounds abusive" ringing in their heads baffles me! I believe his methods of parenting to be very selfish. There was another point in his book where he uses an example of a mother telling her children to go play, and even one child had been hurt, the children knew not to come for the mother because that would be disobeying. How selfish of a parent to train a child to not be an inconvenience! And that is exactly what his book guides parents to do. He doesn't say as much, because then a parent wouldn't follow his teaching. We are God's children, and he most certainly does not treat us like we are an inconvenience. And going back to the example of the hurt child, God wants to hear from us. But this child knew that at that moment, her mother didn't want to hear from her. How sad. Pearl suggests in his book that his methods are a necessary key for leading a young child to know God. But just by this one example, how did that parent teach her child the love of God? All that mother has taught her child is that God is a God of convenience and judgment (for judgment would have ensued for that little girl had she disturbed her mother when she had been directed not to.) In my opinion, the Pearl methods show one side of God: judgment.

On a flip side, there is another method of parenting which I have recently been introduced to called Grace Based Discipline (GBD). I have been reading some about this on Gentle Christian Mothers (GCM). I haven't read too much on this site, but it is an anti-spanking philosophy. I know, nearly every Christian reading this just started shaking their heads and saying, "Well, that's not biblical." But I attempted to be open-minded while reading the Pearl's book, and I am attempting to be open-minded while reading through this site. However, while I disagree with the Pearl's method of all-judgment, from what I've read so far on this site, it seems to be a method of all-grace. It almost seems like a totally opposite extreme. But, I'm still not completely ruling it out. God is neither just judgment or just grace. He is both, and I think this needs to be considered when trying to use training to mold our child's character as well as leading our child to Christ.

Another site that was shared with me is I Take Joy. (I confess that I hesitated to look at the sight because the title so closely reflected the name of the Pearl's ministry.) I have enjoyed what I have read so far on this site, but I've only just begun. So far, she seems to be more along my practical, logical way of thinking. Still of a GBD mindset, but her articles at least are written with more common logic and from a less defensive stand point that some of the ones I read on the GCM site.

I know that I've already tuned a lot of people out just by suggesting that spanking may not be biblical, or at least the only or preffered option of discipline and correction. But just remember, these are just the ramblings of a person who is looking and learning. Also remember that just because it's been done before (and just because it's worked in the past) doesn't mean it's right. I believe the Pearl's (or other punitive) method to be pragmatic. One word that I've always remembered for a highschool Bible lesson was pragmatism. The definition our Bible teacher gave us was, "The end does not justify the means." You can lead people to Christ by holding rock concerts and throwing out Bibles, does that make it the right way to go about doing it? Sure, you may be able to lead your child to Christ by whipping them into shape, but where is the love in that? You're not loving the child, and you definitely aren't demonstrating God's love for that child. (I also contend that that child, if he really comes to Christ, has the wrong view of God and His grace.) The next time your child squirms in his seat after you told him to be still, before you take that child over you knee and blister his poor little bum, stop and think about the last time you got distracted from what God had told you to do and how lovingly God guided you back to the way He called you to.