Orthodoxy


Wow. This is my first post in a very long time. Our family has gone through some changes and some growing pains. We are now officially Eastern Orthodox as of April 8th, 2017. Our marriage was blessed in the church and we were married April 30th, 2017. We also found out that morning we were expecting baby number 7. Things have been a whirlwind the last two years.

My husband and I both had been attending a church for a good while. I would say I had been there about 20 years and he joined me there when we got married in 2006. After attending this CMA church for quite a while we had moved to a new town and were looking for a new church. We found another CMA church close to our new house and decided to attend there. the first CMA church we had been going to for all of our married life, was fairly typical. We went through at least 5 pastors while we were there, and the turnover was constant. I participated and even lead several groups, bible study, and Mops. I didn’t see anything theologically wrong with the CMA church but we had talked about finding a new church many times due to the fact we felt ours was very broken. Eventually we felt our responsibility was to stay there and wait things our. But then we moved, and we were forced to find a new church. I found the closest CMA church to us and we started attending regularly, and I joined the mops group. Things were great for the first year. I was meeting people and there were a lot of big families in our new location and so I felt encouraged to be myself.

Then there was an incident with a pastor who I felt was completely wrong about something theological. We had an exchange of emails on the subject where I called him out for being unbiblical but respectfully asked him for some kind of basis for his claim, which he had none. I left the church, and never went back.

For six months or so I was sulking in despondency and confusion about my faith and where I needed to go. Because of my personality type I needed to find answers. It made no sense to me that a pastor could tell a whole congregation something as “truth” that was clearly not. But he completely believes he was right. In that I knew something was wrong. I knew that God is not the author of confusion. I knew in my heart this pastor had been wrong- and it was seeming that many so called Christians were very confused on the Bible. I didn’t want to be one of those people. I started researching church history. I wanted to know, who had the oldest version of the Bible? who wrote the Bible? Who translated the Bible? I figured whoever had that information could tell me what it means.

I knew that the Roman Catholic Church was pretty old and I actually assumed it was the oldest of the Christian religions, so I started reading about Catholicism and in that led me to the original church, before The RC church was the Orthodox Church. What the heck is that?! And why had I never heard of it before? I knew one person who is orthodox so I started bombarding her with questions. I was so intrigued with this knowledge. It felt like finding my long lost family origins!

As it turned out the Orthodox Church is actually the church who the Apostles and Christ himself started. But how the heck did that even make sense? There was no Bible at that time! As I had found out from my resrearch the Bible was not complied until about 300 years later (although the gospel was used around 50AD). I needed to learn more about orthodoxy and what it was founded on. So in March 2016, I asked my husband to try out a new church with me. He agreed but was a little reluctant. We went to Saint Andrew and sat through our first Liturgy in the back row. I was literally transformed into another century. Another world really, as I watched the worship. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen inside a church. I cried through most of it. It didn’t matter that I had no idea what was going on. My soul was connected in a way that could not be explained. It was a natural, Holy state that penetrated me to the core.

We didn’t go back for a few months. I think my husband was confused on what’s the heck I saw or felt that first day. He said he was really focused on the kids and them being quiet. He didn’t watch hardly any of it.

A few months later, I would not give up on this church and in an effort to get my husband on board I told him to go without me and the kids and just watch. So he did. I knew I couldn’t ever go to another church again, so if it wasn’t Orthodoxy, then it wasnt going to be anywhere for me.

We started attending every Sunday and I was emailing our priest asking tons of questions. Finally, We became catechumen on Dec 19th of 2016 which declared our intention to become orthodox as a family, and be baptized. I spent over a year researching orthodoxy and what it was, what it meant and actually in the process most every other kind of Christianity. (A default if studying church history.) I was really genuinely sad for the amount of information I was never taught in my previous 30 years as a Christian. I was saddened by the way church has gone- and I’m so glad that I have found my home. Safe inside the Church, where scripture is purely known, understood and never construed. Where children are definetly a blessing from the Lord, and where I am learning what it really means to live a life for God and to be healed.

 

Our kids and we are so so very happy and I will continue to share our journey!

And 10 Things I do, Just To Save Money

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If you read my post yesterday about Luxuries I Gave Up to have another baby, this is a piggyback off that post. These are just things I do to be thrifty… that have also helped us save money.

  1. Never spend more than 5$ on a shirt or pants, or dress. When I go to target I look first at the clearance racks. Those little red tags are my friend. The cheaper the better. I look until I find the price I want to pay. Which often times is around $3.50 or under for an item. Look at more than one store, price compare… look for deals!
  2. I save glassware. Spaghetti sauce jars, and fruit… flower vases people have given me. I save them all. I buy food in glass jars on purpose so I can save them. I also save the big tubber ware from Costco cottage cheese and yogurt to store leftovers in.
  3. I get everything used. Our entire 14 person table and chairs was from Craigslist. I got the table free… (it was a business conference table) and the chairs are all mismatched. No one has ever complained, I think my food makes up for it and they just want somewhere to sit down. *he he he*
  4. I save clothing in the garage… (And in boxes… and in closets…) At one point I had two bins of shoes. I finally got rid of them at a garage sale. For stuff that still going to work in the future though, I keep them. A lot of times that little kids jeans, jackets (I buy unisex anyway), tennis shoes (chucks are always unisex), bibs, blankets, bed sheets (I buy white so it doesn’t matter), you name it. Zachary my five year old is using a backpack this year that Zeke used in Kindergarten because we got him a new one with a gift card, but there was still tons of life left in his.  Actually that’s something else I do:
  5. Buy unisex items. Things that will work for girls or boys. Socks, bed sheets, etc. It saves money not to have to buy something for girls and something for boys. They don’t care.
  6. Stop buying juice. Water is free peeps. I only buy juice now for special occasions! (Mimosas anyone?) Your kiddos and you for that matter, really don’t need juice.
  7. Eat Eggs, and oatmeal! Two super good for you, filling foods that don’t break the bank. And actually, get some chickens! 🙂
  8. When I plan events I try to save as much money as I can. We have a lot of birthday parties and things like that. I use things I already have instead of using paper products when possible. I invest in things like chargers, a cupcake tier and cake stand, that can work for any theme. I also borrow things from friends and family, and I use the Buy Nothing groups on Facebook. One time I was low on funds and I was able to get almost everything I needed to do a spa party for one of the kids for free. I was so blessed and I plan on reusing them for another party here soon.
  9. I don’t let my kids order grilled cheese. Ha ha. This one is kind of weird but, so many places have grilled cheese on the menu. It costs less than a dollar for a grilled cheese sandwich that I can make at home… if we go out and i’m spending $5 a kid for a meal, they are going to make it worth it.
  10. Buy the same groceries every week. This one has taken some time to get down but its probably the best one. I have it down to a science now and I know exactly what were going to buy. That of course has been shaken up due to our converting to Orthodoxy and being vegan during fasting periods… but in general buying the same things each time keeps you from buying things you wont eat, and don’t need.

costcoI hope this list helps you think about some more ways you can save money!!

Loves!!

 

10 Luxuries I Gave Up To Have Another Baby (And what I absolutely WILL NOT give up to have more)

Wow… it has been a long time since I’ve blogged anything. Something that has been on my mind recently and a question I get asked often, so I felt its time to address it. This is one of those areas where I can tell you what I do- but I’m not you, and I have no idea what your personal finances look like. I also know that everyone is different and I can’t claim that this post is even going to help you… but I figured, people want to know, so here I go.

Here is a general list of things I have given up, in order to have more kids. Its not a list that YOU should copy, but I hope it inspires those of you who want more kids, to maybe take a look at your own life, and what you might be able to sacrifice.

A few years ago I really really wanted a fourth baby. But my husband was really worried about provisions. We were really tight as it was and we had three kids under five. Here are some things I came up with to help save money.

  1. Designer Clothing – Shopping- Before I had kids I was pretty young, but even after my first kid I was still wearing designer jeans and I loved shopping for myself. I imagined myself being a  young, cute, hip mom with some kind of career. But after a while my priorities shifted. It wasn’t hard for me to stop shopping at Nordstrom, but eventually I gave up shopping for myself all together, unless absolutely necessary. Usually once a year I’ll buy a few things from Ross. And by a few I mean like… 2-4 items. If I’m really in need of something immediate, I go to the thrift store.
  2. TV. Yeah… we went without TV for a long while after we had our third kid. We didn’t even have Netflix back then either. We watched DVDs of shows (that we borrowed from people or bought cheap), and basic 5 channels. Hey I learned to cook a lot back then since all we had was one food channel and the news. Haha.
  3. Diapers. We saved a good amount of money by cloth diapering our second and third kiddos. We used both disposables and cloth, and it worked for us.
  4. Meat. I know this one sounds weird but, to save money we often made meals without meat. A lot of people already do this these days for personal reasons. We did it to save money. We still ate meat but  we just tried to cut it out of certain meals. Actually come to think of it, THEZMAKER Never even knew I was doing this. I kind of just did it and he complained for a while about some meals not being “complete” but eventually he got used to it.
  5. Paper towels, paper plates, paper napkins, laundry soap, etc. Anything we didn’t NEED and I could make myself, that’s what I did. So I started making my own laundry soap. I stole borrowed this recipe from the Duggars. Say what you want about them, the recipe works. I refused to buy any paper products… and we saved a little bit of money.
  6. Buying kids clothing. Listen, you do NOT need to buy your kids a sixty dollar dress. I literally can’t believe how much kids clothing costs these days. How many moms are sitting around wondering how they can afford to clothe another baby because they just bought their toddler a sixty dollar dress, and with shoes and leggings they’re looking at spending a Benjamin… GO TO THE thrift Store! People… I  promise you, your child will look EQUALLY cute in a 5 dollar outfit. They will out grow it in a few weeks. Don’t spend your hard earned cash on these things.
  7. Getting Pampered. Now, every once in a while someone gives me a gift card to the salon and Im so excited. That’s a real treat to me since I gave up buying it for myself years ago. I  know if you are going once a year that’s no big deal, but if you are like some women I know and going every month or every WEEK, you should maybe rethink how often you’re going to the salon and getting these treatments done. This also goes for facials, waxing, non essential massages, hair appointments, and nails. You don’t need it- you don’t.
  8. Beer, Soda, Wine. I gave it up and I never looked back. I can’t say the same for my husband who loves beer during game season, but for me those extras could be for special occasions only. Now I never ever drank coffee- but for a LOT of women that is a huge spender. Every time you get a coffee that’s like 8$. Do that math. Yikes!
  9.  Gym Membership. Lets just be honest, how often are you going anyway? LOL. I’m just teasing because for me it was easy peasy to give this one up. I can work out at home if I really want to, not having a gym membership isn’t going to stop me.
  10. Monthly subscriptions. You know like magazines, and makeup, and food delivery services… that Fit Fab Fun box is really not worth it. I promise.

So I hope this didn’t sound too preachy… I’m kind of matter of fact in my writing and speaking for that matter. Let me know if this inspired you to give up anything in your life that is adding up big time in the spending category.

Now, one more thing… I will never give up my faith in God. Because no matter how much I downsize or change in my budget- ultimately HE is the one who provides for us… and I trust that he will continue to to so. I also know he calls me to be a good steward with my money. We need to do our best in order to provide for the children he gives us.

If you have questions or comments about your personal situation I am happy to answer them either on social media, or via private email. I am passionate about the fertility God has granted me, and I want others to see there is always a way when you trust him.

 

SANTA IS CONSOLIDATING THE WORKSHOP– An Open Letter To All of the Awesome Parents, From Santa This Christmas Season

Hello everyone! As an official Elf from the North Pole, I have been asked to relay a message from Santa himself to all of the wonderful, amazing, parents this year before Christmas comes. I hope this letter finds you well! So, without any further dely, here is your letter:

Dear Parents,

Ho Ho Ho! And Merrrrry Christmas!

This year I’ve been watching you and your children, and my goodness they have been good little children haven’t they. I know you have had a stressful year. You’ve gotten into some online arguments about the election, and you’ve had stress at work. Maybe you’ve even had some trouble paying your bills. I get it, after all, I am a toy maker now, but when I was alive on earth I was just St. Nicholas of Myra. Okay, actually I was pretty well off, but I ended up giving all of my possessions away to poor children. Which brings me to the reason for writing you this letter. 

My intention for this season has always been bringing joy to children. I know how wonderful it is to see the joy on their faces, and when they get just what they’ve been hoping for, its like magic. It is amazing for me, too. However, lately my workshop has kind of gotten a little chaotic. I used to make simple toys like balls and dolls, and leave coins in the stockings of the poor children so they could buy food and pay for things they need, and now I’ve received requests from children all over the world for things I simply cannot make in my workshop any longer. My elves are tired of working overtime and even though they have a great union, I’ve seen the taxing work they are doing trying to complete one million Hatch-able eggs before Christmas. So here’s the deal. My wife and I have discussed this and I think what were going to do is shut down the workshop and go back to our old traditional ways. Were going to make dolls, and balls, and small toys. We will make a few games and we’ll give some movies. We will go back to putting oranges in stockings and chocolate under the tree. We might even leave a little bit of cash on Christmas Eve in the grown ups socks. That being said, you know its just not fair that your son might not get what he wants because I can’t make it- but here’s the thing, we CAN work together to make your child’s dreams come true. You can get your child that hatchable egg in one of my affiliate workshops like Target, Toys R Us, Walmart, or any other store that sells the item your child is looking for. We can work together to make your child’s dreams come true… but if you wouldn’t mind, let them know the gift came from you. You see, that way, I can be sure that every child around the world will get a gift from me that isn’t extravagant, yet sends the message they are loved. After all, is it really fair that on the day after Christmas, some children are sad that Santa brought their cousin an XBOX 360 but they only received a pair of shoes from me? So here’s what I’m asking, I’m asking you to tell your kids the deal. Santa is only making small presents now. When you go to my helpers at the mall, let your child know that they can ask for something small, but that any big presents theyll have to take up with you or grandma and grandpa. That doesn’t mean they wont get the gift they ask for this year, because I’m sure as parents YOU would like to take the credit for that, wouldn’t you? So go ahead parents, and grandparents. Go ahead and get them the gift you wanted to. Stop letting Santa get all the credit for your thoughtful hard work. I’m really busy this time of year, and I think this season is getting harder every year for me and my elves. I know that you’ll understand, that telling your child no, is part of life, and that if they cant get that new next best thing, that maybe it will be next year. Santa will still bring them something, but it might not be in the budget this year to get THAT specific thing. No one wants to disappoint their child on Christmas, and if that happens because of this shut down, I truly am sorry. But for those of you who are able to get your child what they want this year, WONDERFUL! They will be thrilled. If not, please know that I love your child and I don’t want someone else’s child to get something better than what your child is getting, nor do I want to overwork my staff just to make that happen. I hope all of you awesome parents out there will understand that this is such a hard thing for me to send to you. After all, I know some parents really rely on Santa to bring presents that they cannot afford. I am sorry if you are in that position. Maybe this would be an opportunity for you to show your children the humble reason for the season. Again I wish you an amazing Christmas and Happy New Year. Together we can make Christmas Great Again. Sorry, I had to throw that one in. Ho Ho Ho!

With all the joy of the season,

Jolly Old St. Nick aka. Santa

 

Thanks for reading the letter Santa has sent to you. I’m simply an elf sending along the message. Make sure you let all your parent friends know this year, Santa isnt making any big toys and electronics. Thats on you mom, and dad! Lets make sure little Susie in class isnt getting something way cooler than the child who isnt getting anything. And most importantly, lets make sure every child gets something for christmas. Reach out to those in need who cant afford toys for their children. Do an angel tree, or gift something to the shelters. Please, if you are a parent in need, seek out your local Buy Nothing Group on facebook! Neighbors are amazing and there is an Elf in every neighborhood!

God Bless You!

 

Marriage Dating Rules: And 32 Dates We Love.

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I’m not a marriage expert. Nope. I’m really not. I’m not claiming to be, but here’s what I do know…

The hubby and I are coming up on our ten year anniversary in August. Ten years in the grand scheme of life isn’t very long, but in married terms its average, and longer than a lot of marriages. Now that isn’t because were some kind of model couple, or because we are immune to marriage problems. Actually its quite a publicly known topic in our lives, that our marriage has never been perfect. In ten years of marriage we have “almost” been divorced and/or separated twice. Once because of me, and once because of THEZMAKER. Not in that order.

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Date Night at Home, No Kids.

Now after the first time, we came up with these rules of marriage of dating. For every two children we had (at the time it was four) we needed to have one date night per month. Since we had four children at the time we immediately decided to implement two date nights into our lives. One every two weeks. We penciled them in for paydays to hold ourselves accountable and make it easier on our checkbooks. At first, the only thing we did on date nights were go to counseling, and hit dinner afterward.

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Breakfast Date With My Love

Wow, thinking back on how AWKWARD those dates were. We only had a sitter for an hour and a half. So we would go to counseling for an hour, hit a drive through on the way home and talk about counseling. Or, we would sit in silence and eat our food, depending on how bad counseling had been that night. But after a while we saw significant growth in our communication and our relationship.

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An Amazing Dinner Out, Just Us Two.

Two years after that we welcomed our fifth child into the mix. We still had date night every two weeks but since things were going better in our marriage we had scaled back to one counseling session a month and the other night was our fun night. Those were the nights that really helped us have a good time. Things were going really well and we were loving date night, and each other.

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Our Weekend Away, Seeing Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge, in George WA. 2014.

But then, life happened. Some things came up. We decided to move houses, and in selling our old house everything-including date nights- were put on the back burner to get things figured out as our lives were in major dis-array from moving. Things started to decline super fast in our relationship. We had so much stress and zero outlet for communication.

 

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Way back in 2012, Before Zander was born.

When you have children around, there are things you cannot talk about in front of them. So things just get pushed aside or “well talk about it later” but later never comes when you are living in that type of situation. For months we were not together for a moment alone. This was seriously bad for our relationship, but it was too late because we were so disconnected and our relationship was in major shambles.

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This was us on a date night, dinner and drinks. 2012.

After we moved was the second time we almost separated/got a divorce. We lived in limbo for a few weeks deciding what to do. Was our marriage really that bad, and was it possible to fix? Well, definitely not alone we couldn’t fix this. Thankfully, we are both Christians who are committed to marriage, and forgiveness, and making things work. We also both had a lot of experience with counseling and what it had taught us about communication and we soon realized we hadn’t been on a date night in months. We immediately made an appointment with our counselor who we had not seen in a while, and explained what was going on. On the brink of divorce she asked us if we were willing to do what it took to fix this. Both of us said yes. She told us to take a vacation together as soon as possible- however we could make it work, even if it was just at home for the weekend. We decided to take a weekend away together (3 day weekend while the grandparents watched the children) and reconnect and talk and work through some of our issues. That was the first step to fixing what was broken in our marriage.

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A lot of our dates are dinner and drinks. Its quick, relaxing, and we can talk alone about adult things.

That was almost two years ago now. Wow, how times have changed and flown by! We now have #6 baby, little Zariah. Our relationship is better than it EVER has been. And when I think back I know why- Date nights. Every Night.

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Date Night starts every morning. When we treat each other the way the other needs.

For ONE year we committed to putting off ALL children’s activities and ONLY focused our time and money on our marriage. Our kids were not going to die if for one year they didn’t do sports or awana or whatever activities they were involved in. We followed the date night rules, and put our monetary extras into concerts, plays, time alone, hiring a babysitter WITHOUT FAIL if grandparents weren’t able to do it. We put all of our time, energy and money into our marriage. We started making EVERY night date night at home too. So even though we were doing significant 4 hour date nights 3x a month outside the home (or sometimes inside the home after the kids went to bed) we also were doing 10-45 minute date nights every day after my husband came home from work. This led us to the place we are now, and why I am sharing this with you. We also did several biblical marriage studies with each other and alone along the way.

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The point of this post is really one thing: Your marriage needs to be your number one priority or it will become your last.

So as we get closer to celebrating ten years, and I’m getting closer to renewing my vows to THEZMAKER, I’m really excited to see where our marriage is headed, and where it has come from. I hope that God continues to bless our marriage and I’m excited to see what that looks like. I thought maybe I would make a list of some of our favorite date nights and activities. Well, besides, you know. *wink*. Remember we have six kids and were on a budget, so MOST of these date nights cost less than 40$ which is our date night budget. However, SOMETIMES, we budget more and splurge.

  1. My birthday. (Sleepover with grandparents normally)
  2. His birthday. (Ditto Above)
  3. Christmas shopping for the kids. We pay a sitter, and use the time to shop for the kids, but we have a REALLY fun time.
  4. Dinner and Drinks. This is a monthly activity. Even when we are watching what we eat, or doing a Whole30, or challenge of some kind, we skip drinks and eat sensibly, but we still go out.
  5. Breakfast
  6. Church alone as a couple. (There’s something to be said about not having to get six kids ready to go in the morning, taking your time to go out to eat first, or stopping for some coffee/tea and leisurely making your way in to hear a sermon and praise God together.)
  7. The Fair. Every year we take the kids to the fair, and then we TRY to set it up to being there all day long, leaving around 4 or 5pm, taking them home where a sitter comes and then we go back and stay until closing just us two. We get 4-5 hours of time alone there to play games, ride some rides, and be a kid again.
  8. Concerts. We LOVE music, so naturally we try to see a concert once a year if we can. Last year we saw two, DMB and Straight No Chaser.
  9. Broadway. Last year we saw The Sound of Music. That was an AWESOME gift from my sisters. They even babysat!
  10. Shopping. I know right, what? Yeah- this is easy. Sometimes, going to Costco can be a date, if you get to go BY YOURSELVES. We’ve done it. We’ve even gone shopping for a new bed, new couches, whatever we want. If we have something on the list of “need” that takes some selections, then we wait until date night and go then. No distractions, no stress, we just get to talk and make the decision together.
  11. The Movies. I hate the movies, but I’ll do it for the hubby. Its not a great place to talk if you have things you’d like to discuss, but if things are going well and you’d like just a stress free night out this is a good choice. Normally this one is freeeeee. He gets movie tickets from work sometimes and we will go see something new in theaters. Its so expensive I just hate to spend hard earned money on it. But I’ll go, if its free and it looks like a good movie.
  12. A Mall Date. We never do this but just recently we actually had a reason to go to the mall, and it was SO NICE. Browsing stores with no agenda. It turned out to be really fun. You could easily get a smoothie and pretzel for under $40.
  13. The Zoo. Most people do this with kids, but you know it can be fun by yourselves as well.
  14. Netflix & Chill. Send the kids to grandmas house and stay in bed. The WHOLE weekend. *wink*.
  15. Bowling. We love to bowl, and we take the kids a couple of times a year when we can, but its even MORE fun on Date Night.
  16. Pool Hall. Much like bowling, we like to play pool. Before we had a pool table at home we would go out and play in public. But now we have one at home. 🙂
  17. Dress Up Dinner. Women love this one. What man doesn’t look good dressed up? Maybe for your anniversary?
  18. Stay in a hotel. Normally this one is saved for birthdays or anniversarys, but one of my favorites.
  19. Coffee and Bath. (This is where I bring Coffee to the bathtub for my husband, and he and I sit and talk. We do this one a lot actually.)
  20. Thrift Shopping. We LOVE this. Sometimes we get nothing, and sometimes we get something. We have to save this for when we have a little extra in the budget in case we find a hutch we just cant say no to.
  21. Home Improvements. We usually do this when kids are on a sleepover to grandparents. We will spend the weekend doing something around the house in the quiet.
  22. Lowes or Home Depot. MANY MANY MANY date nights have been spend at Home Depot or Lowes just looking at samples of things we want to do in the coming weeks/months on our house. So while sometimes the date nights are executing these plans, sometimes they are just planning them out.
  23. The Casino. We don’t do this one a lot, but sometimes we do. Its super fun to play, as long as you don’t have a problem or go crazy. 😉
  24. Paint Night. Most of the time this is a group date activity. We have people over and after the kids go to bed we create a masterpiece on a canvas that we then hang up in the house. Its so nice to chill, listen to music and relax with a glass of wine or beer while painting.
  25. Game Night. Self explanatory.
  26. Puzzles. We do puzzles sometimes. THEZMAKER really likes them. I get frustrated easily but the one thing I really like about them is that my husbands personality REALLY shines when we do them, and he forces me to work through my weaknesses when it comes to commitment. While I really want to quit about half way through- he is REALLY determined to finish the stupid thing and while I could care less about the puzzle, I enjoy spending the time with him and when we are finished I’m in awe at what we can do when we put our minds together. Because honestly, without him I would give up, A lot. In real life, and with puzzles.
  27. Trying Something New. This is good if you like Groupon. Sometimes we will try something new, like Hot Air Ballooning, or Pottery Making if we see something on Groupon for a good steal.
  28. Camping.
  29. The Beach. Even if its just sitting on the water and eating a corn dog, there’s something amazing about the water that really brings us peace. We are lucky enough to live near the ocean so any park or beach is just a short drive away.
  30. Drinks in the grass outside. This is one of those “Ten Minute After Work” dates. I just bring drinks outside on a picnic blanket and wait for hubby to drive up. Then we drink our drinks and spend a few minutes talking before taking on the children together.
  31. Building things. This is one of my personal favorites, but it might not work for everyone. I just love to have a project to do. Just recently we’ve been working on a magazine rack in the garage. We haven’t had time to finish it up yet, but its there waiting.
  32. Reading a book together or Taking a class together. We recently just took a budgeting class together that was really great. It opened our eyes to some new ideas and ways to improve our life together. Ultimately that’s the goal for EVERY date night.

All in all, I hope you’ve gotten some great ideas to implement the Marriage Dating Rules above. I encourage you to leave comments asking questions or your own favorite date night ideas. 🙂

Until next time,

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Zaynah’s Top 11 Children’s Books {Recommended For Your Child}

Hello Zingy Moms!
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This is Zaynah!

I would like to recommend a few book titles to your child. These are age appropriate books for children 0-11+.

The titles are in order from my least favorite to my favorite.
Please enjoy, and make it a point for these novels to go on your bucket list!
11|  Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
A young pig named Wilbur and a spider named Charlotte become friends and try to
save Wilbur from becoming bacon. (Ages 6 and up, but older than 8 may get bored from
lack of action)
10 |  Every book ever written by Roald Dahl 🙂
Explorer giants, magic, chocolate factories, and MUCH more! (all ages!!)
9|  Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
Middle-age to teenage girls learn important life lessons. (9 and up, girls)
8|  Aliens on Vacation, Clete Barrett Smith
A young boy visits (unknowingly) his grandma’s hotel for aliens. (10 and up)
7|  White Fang, Jack London
A part-dog wolf cub grows up without love and with cruel people, until he meets a good
person. (6 and up)
6|  The Call of the Wild, Jack London
A pampered dog is stolen from his rich master, and learns to master the ways of un-
pampered life.
5|  Warriors, Erin Hunter
A cat named Rusty ventures beyond his backyard and meets wild cat clans who
constantly dispute, and he finds out terrible secrets about the most loyal warriors of
Thunderclan. (ten and up, multiple seasons of the series including The New Prophecy,
Power of Three, Omen of the Stars, etc.)
4|   Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Rick Riordan
Percy’s life has never been normal, but then he finds out he is a half-blood- a
descendant of the Greek gods. Then he finds himself on a quest to Hades’ realm to
return Zeus’s master lightning bolt before the summer solstice. (8 and up) *see also:
Heroes of Olympus, Kane Chronicles, Magnus Chase
3|  Michael Vey, Richard Paul Evans
A young boy who has electric powers discover that there are others like him and- what
can I say- goes on an adventure. (11 and up)
2|  Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
A boy named Harry, who has lived with his hateful uncle, aunt, and cousin his whole life,
discovers he is a wizard and goes to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. (8+
for the first three books, 10+ for the last four) * if you have not read this already, you are
missing out on an entire amazing universe, Muggle!!!
1|  Wings of Fire, Tui T. Sutherland
Set in the world of dragons called Pyrrhia, a young dragonet Clay and his four friends
are featured in a prophecy to save the world from a three-side-war. But Clay and his
friends, when threatened, choose freedom instead of fate- and leave the mountain
where they’ve been raised since eggs. (8 and up) This is my favorite book series EVER,
so READ THIS OR ELSE. Just kidding, nothing will happen to you except you’ll miss out on one of the best series ever.
If you have a younger child just learning to read, one of my siblings and I’s favorite book series has been Junie B Jones by Barbara Park.
Anyway, those are my picks for your child! I highly recommend them!
Also, don’t forget, my book My Life As A Dragon: Secrets Revealed is available for Kindle, on Amazon.com. Check it out!
Signing out for now, Leave me a comment, what are your favorite books?
—Zaynah

Being A Mom: I Can’t Do It Alone. And That’s Okay.

A few days ago all the kids were sick. I was exhausted. I haven’t been sleeping well. I’m over-committed at the moment as most of us are during the holiday season.

Among my normal wife and mom duties, I’ve been preoccupied with my book release, my role in “It’s A Wonderful Life” at the community theater, and the many other holiday obligations that are happening right now. This really was not the best week for my kids to be sick. I’ve been kind of blind sighted in the past when my kids get sick, but not this time. One of the kids started throwing up in the middle of the night on Saturday morning after complaining that his stomach hurt on Friday night at dinner. I kind of expected he might be getting sick, but I had three shows that weekend so it was kind of on THEZMAKER’s shoulders to handle it for the weekend. Secretly I was kind of glad I had some other obligations. Being involved in something for myself for the first time in a long time has been very good for me. I’m loving my time away to rediscover who I am when I’m not being TheZMom. *wink*.  That being said, there’s a certain amount of guilt that comes from leaving your sick child, but I really had no choice. I have no understudy and as they say “The Show Must Go On!”

God seems to use these times to show me how important I am to my kids however. I’ve written posts before in the past about how my child has gotten sick and the revelation it brings me to as a mother and how, we really are THAT important to our children. But each time, its a new and different experience which brings up new feelings.

This time, I really realized how desperate I became as time went on. Sunday, he seemed to be getting better and I was confident this was an isolated incident. Boy was I wrong. By Tuesday everyone except the oldest was holding their own special puke bucket. I had stripped beds and cleaned carpets (Which will probably never be the same again) and I was at my wits end.

I took to Facebook to vent about my overwhelmed state, and received a lot of well meaning comments which did help a little bit, but the one thing that stood out came from two moms who I look up to. Both of them have more children than I do, and when in crisis mode, I tend to turn to women who have been where I am at to get some perspective.

That night as I lay in bed, completely torn as a person from the lack of energy and the mental drain of being needed by five sick kids, always being needed at every moment- I reached out to these two women. I typed through text to them…

“I. Can’t. Do. This. Anymore.”

I waited for a response… but when one didn’t come right away, I started to pour out my heart a little more in the stillness.

“Not only can I not do this anymore- I’m not qualified to do this. I’m a failure! My attitude is poor…”

Me, me, me, me, me. Sheesh… Well, yes. We as humans are selfish in nature and honestly I’m sure any mother in my position would have felt the same way.

Finally the responses started flooding in from these two wise woman who both said the same thing to me. Oh these women are SO wise…

“Of COURSE you can’t do this. We are only HUMANS.”

and

“Honey, you are not MEANT to do this! You don’t need to do this!”

Oh how right they were. At that moment, they said exactly what I needed to be told. My life as a mother is not dependent upon ME alone. No, I’m not in this alone.

I need to keep my eyes on the cross. Why didn’t I go to him?

Maybe sometimes I feel like, he can’t hear me, or he isn’t listening. I fail to remember that I should go to him in prayer for these things. I began to pray for strength and ability. Of course that’s the only way I can get through this. I wish it didn’t always take someone else looking over my shoulder and saying to me “Sweetie, God made you to need him.” How proud I can be sometimes. How awesome I can believe I am when I think I’ve found something that works. I know that is not always purposeful (actually it probably is not ever purposeful) but none the less I do it.

God, I pray that you help me see your amazing blessings- my children- as the gifts they are, even in the hard times.

So often I see my friends with only a few kids and it feels like, I need to keep it together. I need to work harder, I’ve got more kids so I need to show people that I can STILL keep it all together. That I am JUST as capable as they are. The truth is that they don’t have it any more together than I do with six children. The truth is that, God gives us more ability each child we have. He stretches us and makes our love go further. Where we lack, he fills in.

My husband always reminds me that I set out to be a Zingy Mom long ago when I first started this journey. That has never changed. My perspective has a little bit though- because while I started off thinking of a Zingy mom as intentional and put together, and in charge, and figured out- I now look at being a Zingy mom as being intentional- by bringing God into your parenting and just doing your best every day.

That’s really all we can ask of ourselves. Isn’t it?

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What to Say to the Mom With the Dirty House…

A few weeks ago I had a “friend” come over. Actually, it was a family member. This person looked around my house and in midst of normal conversation said to me…

 

“How do you live like this? In such filth?”

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After her comment, shocked- I’m pretty sure my face dropped in disbelief. How could she say such a thing to me? Her family. I made some quick comment about how cleaning is not my top priority and that I have a lot of other things going on. Which apparently was not a sufficient answer for her.

I used to be so hurt by these comments, because to tell you the truth, I can be pretty sensitive. But after years of this, and many people not understanding the amount of work that goes into my life each day, my husband finally was able to convince me that they will never understand, because they don’t live it. But he does– and he doesn’t care.IMG_2656

Now… to be fair, (Because, lets be real here) I had just cleaned my house the day before. In fact, I had just redone my kids bedrooms and they were repainted, with new bedspreads, about two days before this. They were in fact spotless 24 hours before this conversation happened. I was pretty proud of my achievements there. But lets also be real, my house is never going to be one hundred percent clean at any given time. I have children- I have SIX children. I also have a new baby, a toddler, AND a preschooler- as well as THREE school age children. Have you ever tried to nurse a baby while also watching a toddler and preschooler? Lets be real here: its Chaos. But its just stuff, its just a mess. Its not like, the plague or anything, and I’m okay with mess. Maybe to you all of these things are excuses, but they are the truth about life with kids.

I struggle with OCD, and for those of you who don’t know what that is, it is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It manifests differently with different people but for me, its really about controlling situations, keeping things in order, and sometimes people are especially clean if they deal with OCD. For me, its the control thing, and one thing I cannot control is how clean my house stays. Not if I want to be a good mother. You see, I could essentially devout all my time to keeping a clean house. I could in fact live in a spotless house that looks like a magazine, but at what cost?

“But Zmom!” you say- “This persons house makes me so uncomfortable, I need to know what to tell them. After all, they are my daughter/sister/mother/best friend/leader of my such and such group… Should they keep a cleaner house than they do?”

And here is my answer for you:

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There is no reason in the entire world, no matter who you are to this person, that should invite you to say something about their house*.  No, I don’t care if you are their mom, sister, cousin, best friend, or pastor.

  1. A mom knows exactly how clean or messy her house is at any given time. You are not the clean police. You do not have permission to comment on her house.
  2. A mom already gives herself ENOUGH pressure to keep a clean house for HERSELF, her HUSBAND and her children. She doesn’t need additional pressure from YOU.
  3. A mom is trying her best. Come on- do you really think she’s just THAT LAZY that she wants any portion of her house dirty at any given time? No! Come on, really. Have you forgotten what its like to have little kids?
  4. Your words to another mother, even if she is your family- should be uplifting. “You are doing a great job!” Is ALL she needs to hear.
  5. If you can’t be at her house, then she probably doesn’t want you there either.
  6. Your RELATIONSHIP of LOVE AND MUTUAL RESPECT should not be determined by how clean she can make her house before you show up. Have you ever thought what if this is the best she can do right now? Have you stopped to love on her, help her with her children to give her a break? If someone can’t be friends with me because I have a messy house, then I don’t consider them a true friend anyway. Good-bye lady!
  7. Words can be hurtful. Say NOTHING negative. EVER. REALLY. I promise you- your words will NOT CHANGE how she keeps a house- because she is already doing the best she can at this time in her life. The only thing you will do, is hurt her self esteem, hurt her heart, and damage your relationship.
  8. *If you are really concerned about the health and safety of the people living in her house, okay then be concerned. There is still a way to go about this with tact and with empathy. But, I would like to remind you that YOU are not the official clean police. Your standard of clean, may not be the RIGHT standard of clean. So I’m going to lay it out for you here: “DIRTY HOME-Child’s welfare must not be at substantial risk of harm; handled by family, community agencies, and landlords.”**
  9. Put yourselves in that moms shoes. I know that might be difficult. Maybe in 1950 when you had children, you were able to keep a perfectly spotless house and that’s great, good for you! Do not compare yourself with this woman who you think has a dirty house. Your job is to show compassion for her.  Matthew 7:1-2  Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and  with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
  10. A mothers number one job is not to keep a clean house. It should not even be her TOP priority. A mothers number one job and priority is to raise her children in love and safety. If she is doing that, keep your comments to yourself.

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Now that I’ve given you a few tips about this topic I want to let you into my heart a little bit.

My house is never going to be totally clean, nor should it. I once had a woman tell me how much she cleaned her house, and her grown children resented her for always putting cleaning before her relationship with them. That has always sat with me. I want my children to benefit from me being present in their lives, teaching them how to keep a house, teaching them about the love of Jesus, teaching them about school, and friendships, and the bible.

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I pride myself on the fact that by the grace of God my house is as clean as it is. My children do NOT live in filth. Nope, they don’t. They live in a working, busy household with six kids and two parents, and two dogs, and we spend our time cleaning every single day. We do. But we also let things go and realize that life is so much more than cleaning. Life is love. Life is activities. Life is spending time at the pumpkin patch even though our rooms might be messy. Life is so much more than looking like a magazine cover. Personally, I’d rather have Life.funny-snaps-clean-jokes

I hope that this inspires you to take a look at how you are living, but I hope it more importantly inspires you to take a look at how you might be judging someone in your life. Jesus teaches us to have empathy and judgement is not empathy. The next time you are in someone’s home and you are uncomfortable, just remember your relationship is not based on the way their house looks. Your relationship is based off of the time you have spent with her, and that is so much more important.

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*If you are truly concerned there are proper ways to investigate.
** http://www.swaincountync.gov/dss-child-care-standards-neglect.html

Ana and Elsa Joined The Family

This is Ana and Elsa our two Nigerian Dwarf Goats. If you follow us on Facebook you’ve seen them a million times by now ;). They were born March 29th and we bottle fed them from the time they were a day old, until about three months old. They are now almost seven months old! I can’t believe how long we’ve had them already. My plan is to breed them in the spring so that next fall I can start milking them, as well as making goats milk soap and lotions. Feel free to ask questions in the comments about them! 🙂

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The day we brought them home. They were super small. Less than 5lbs each.

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The boys feeding the goats their bottles.

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Holding the Goats.

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Here they are now at almost 7 months.

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