Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Break!

My mom is in town, and the kids have next week off from school, so the blog is going on Spring Break.  I pray that you have a wonderful budget-friendly, health-encouraging, funsy kind of week.  We'll see you next week!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Money Monday!


March has been an expensive month:

Carson's birthday party.
Coralynn's healthcare.
Running out of all those "once and a while" needs all at the same time.
Car issues.
Buying stuff to be brought from the States.
School needs.
Experimenting with dietary changes.
Accidental tax withholding shifts.

I'm almost afraid to open the budget.  It's going to be ugly.

Really ugly.

We aren't going to save our monthly housing goal.  We aren't even going to come close.  I'm hoping we'll be able to save half of it.

Really ugly.

Bring on the rice and beans.  (No.  For real.  We're having rice and beans tonight, but don't tell the kids.  Or Tony.  I'm trying to pull one over on them.)


In April, everything is going to have to tighten back up so that we stop the bleeding.  I don't want one bad month to start us down the ever-present, ever-slippery slope.

Really tight.

As we finish this mess of a month, we're going to refocus and regroup on what we truly need.  And on how little of those things are monetary in nature.  April's focus is going to be on the showers of blessings the Lord generously hands out to us.  We're so blessed.

Really blessed.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weight Update is Moving!!

Sunday mornings are too crazy, and Saturdays are my fun food days so Weight Update is moving to Saturday!

Today's weight...

147 lbs!
Down 1lb for the week
And down 7.5 in 7 weeks!

I was only able to workout twice this week, but my water consumption was up,  and I was making better choices.  (I did eat way too much Indian food on Tuesday, but, at least, it was real food!)  More importantly, I feel so much better without all the processed foods.  (Last night we had McDonalds, and I have a headache today.  The food choices matter.)

147 is my pre-Coralynn pregnancy weight.  145 would put me where I started 4 of the 5 pregnancies.  I was in the 130s with Camilla, but I don't expect that to be a reachable weight.  I'm hoping by going to the gym more that I can tone up my body.  (Coralynn and I have strinkingly similiar physiques!  LOL!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday's Praises!

~My mood has improved even though my heart still aches.  Someone very dear to us passed away on Friday.  The circumstances of his death are heart wrenching and had us walking in a fog most of the weekend.  I'm thankful that, although my pain and the pain for his family is still there, the fog is mostly lifted.

~My friend, Becky.  Everyone needs a Becky in his/her life.  Becky is encouraging and empathetic and amazing.  And she storms heaven with her prayers like no one I've ever met.  I love that I can share my heart with her with no fear of judgement because her sole concern is people's relationships with the Lord.  She's priceless, and my life is better for her.

~I know this sounds like the wifey thing to say, but I am beyond thankful for my husband.  It's been amazing to watch him lead our family over the past 12 months.  Today, 17 years after we offically became "girlfriend/boyfriend," I can honestly say we are at the best place in our relationship we've ever been.  That's a testament to God's mercy and Tony's amazing Walk.  (He's still not my soulmate or my bff, but I'm not even going to pretend to imagine life without him.)

~Crossroads Bible Church.  I haven't posted about church in a long time, but this place is so special.  Last Sunday, we got to watch amazing-ness.  As I've mention before, our church supports missionaries in West Africa.  Those missionaries, and their partners, were in need of a teacher for their children.  Our senior pastors felt led to ask our fabulous youth pastor if he and his family would be willing to serve in Africa.  (How often do you hear about church leadership sending their best staff members to the mission field?)  And, Chloe's fabulous fourth-grade teacher is going to become the new Children's Director.  I'm so excited to have a front-row seat to watch the Lord work in all of this!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Money Monday!

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.
~Mother Teresa

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Drumroll, please...

(Down 0.5 after a LOUSY week.
Down 6.5 total)

This week's successful strategy was introducing the green smoothie.  I still have a ways to go to find the perfect recipe, but the bok choy, banana, kiwi, and pineapple concoction I made yesterday was definitely the best of my efforts!  I also exercised for an hour.

This week's goals:
~Choose something other than eating and shopping to deal with emotions.
~Exercise 3 times for at least an hour.
~Get back on the water train!  10 cups a day is my plan.

How about you?  How did your week go?  Any strategy that worked great for you?  Please share!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Funsy Friday- Part 2!

So, how do you think the shirt turned out?
Carson, my Knight.

Ready for Battle!

My sweet Princess, Camilla.

They said "princess," so Chloe went with Kate Middleton for inspiration.

Chloe is beautiful, inside and out.

Pose like a knight and princesses.

I can't believe how big they've gotten.

Waiting to storm the castle?

The girls with their besties! Gorgeous!

With the Knight in the Mix .

In the Carriage.

Camilla (in heels) and Emily

Chloe (not in heels) and Andrea

Funsy Friday- Part 1!

From my facebook status:  Getting ready for the kids' royal ball tonight. I told myself I wasn't going to make a big deal about it. Then, I asked Marvi to borrow a dress for Chloe. Then, she gave me 3. Then, I went to Lori's and got 5 more. Then, I felt badly for Carson, so I went to the mall to get something simple. Then, I decided it needed to be personalized. Then, I went to buy spray paint. Now, I've crossed over into making a big deal about it. I'm one of those moms.

Tonight, at church, is the Royal Ball.  It's nothing more than a glorified parents' night out, but the kids get to dress up like knights and princesses.  Originally, I wasn't going to put much effort into it.  Chloe asked to be a Non-Poofy Princess.  She wanted to wear her Christmas dress- which she hated at Christmas.  I thought that was fine.

Then, at Bible Study yesterday, I asked my friend, Marvi, if her daughter had anything that might work for Chloe.  I'm not really sure why I asked.  I think it comes from my deep-seeded fear of being underdressed for an occassion.  Marvi sent me three of her daughter's dresses.  They were all cocktail dresses.  My under-dressing fear went into hyper drive.  I showed them to Chloe.  She fell in love with them.  She tried them on.  She looked beautiful.   And 20 years old. 

I decided to see what else was out there.  I asked another friend for dresses.  (Because you know we're lacking in girls' dresses here.)  I have 5 more for Chloe to try on after school.  As I was leaving my friend's house, I began to think about Carson.

All he has for the occassion is sword.  I don't buy him much stuff.  I could swing by the mall to see what I could find that would be simple.  Then, my creativeness went into hyper drive.  Spray paint!  That would be the answer.  And special hair things for the girls!

Now, I'm home.  And I'm reminded that I'm not particularly good at getting my visions into reality.  Oh well.  Here goes nothing...

Coat 1.

Stay tuned to see how this all turns out.  I have visions of coconut oil dancing in my head...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

365 days.

Today, we mark the 1-year anniversary of moving to Panama.  I've spent months trying to figure out what this blog post should say.  I thought about a photo collage, but I can't find the pictures, and don't really care to look.  Then, I thought I could share all the kids' favorite moments, but those would likely involve the swimming pool and food.  That's not exactly deep stuff. 

I've thought about it all day.  What is the perfect way to express what the last 12 months have meant to us?

With us.

We've made this year work because we walked together.  We've gone through some really tough, ugly times.  We've been through super happy, fun times.  But we've been through them all together.  This incredible Panamanian walk of faith has brought us closer to each other, and more importantly, closer to the Lord.  We're all walking that way together.  And that is worth every tear, pain, and fear any of us has dealt with!

Happy 1st Anniversary to Us!  Thank you, Lord, for it!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I'm going to be totally upfront here, and tell y'all that I'm having a lousy week.  Lots of stressers are piling up to make me feel beaten up.  (Our good friend, hormones, isn't helping!)

I'm focusing on one blessing today.  Just one.

God is in control.

And, really, what other blessing do I need?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Present Time!

Carson is a big fan of Barcelona's soccer team so he got a jersey and a Barcelona ball for his birthday!

Happy Birthday, Carson David!!

Baby Carson David at 3 days old.  He was as handsome then as he is now!

Love that sweet gap in his front teeth!  He has always had the warmest smile!  Here at almost 20 months, it was clear, and had been for some time, that he had the "It" factor.  I love that anywhere we go I can count on Carson to be friends with everyone there within just a few minutes!  He used to say, "Hi.  I'm Yarsen.  And this is my sister, Row-E," because she was too shy to meet new people!

Carson has always been my "little man," and I can't believe that he's 8 today.  I love the Carson he has become: confident, kind, athletic, academic, friendly.  He has made our life so much fuller than I ever thought it could be! 

Happy 8th Birthday, Carson D!!
We love you!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Money Monday!

Tony and I could be Mr. and Mrs. Goody Goody.  We are, and have always been, rule followers.   I'm the bigger offender.  Tony laughs at me because I ask permission to do things that I know are allowed.  (Like make retuns with the tags still on and receipt in hand 2 days after purchase.  I'm always afraid I'm going to hurt their feelings.)

But, when it comes to money and budgetting, we break three major rules.

Rule 1- Don't use credit cards.  Don't have credit cards.
We use credit cards, almost exclusively.  Why?
1.  We pay them off in full, and we can stick to our budget.
2.  Getting cash in Panama is a bit of a nightmare.  Setting up a bank account can take weeks to accomplish, and then we have to pay for wire transfers.  Also, we can only transfer so much money before more tax implications hit.  Using an ATM card would carry a 3% transaction fee each time, and it would require multiple trips to get the cash we needed for a week.  (Panama maybe a "developing" country, but the cost of living is very American!)
3.  The credit card reward programs are amazing these days.  And since we don't go over budget, and don't pay interest on the balances, we make money from using credit cards.

Rule 2- Have a "blow money" amount in your budget.
This one is Tony's nemesis.  According to Dave Ramsey, "Your blow money is a small account for a little bit of letting off steam."  Aren't there better option for blowing off steam then spending money?  Do people not blow enough money as it is?  Starbucks, desserts, gum, little purchases here and there.  I'm confident that my grocery budget takes plenty of "blow money" hits.  Do you have a dining-out budget?  That's money "blown," too.  Until we can create a budget where only needs are ever purchased (not a want to be found in any category), we won't have a "blow money" amount.  And on a similar point, just because we have money allotted doesn't mean we spend it all.  Once Tony sliced all the categories by 10% because he felt like we were spending money just because it existed in the budgets.  Money in your budget isn't going to expire.  You don't have to spend it all.

Rule 3- Set Aside a Portion of Income to Give Away.
Surprised?  This is one rule we tried for years.  Beside the tithe, we would set aside an allotment to give as we became aware of needs.  It has always been a huge failure for us.  Just a few months ago, we figured out why:  We need to be prepared and willing to give it all away.  Not just the amount we figured would work for that month's budget.  If God calls us to give, the answer must be "yes"- not "let me check the budget and get back to You."  Some months we give very little beside tithe.  Other months, I'm not certain where the money is going to come from, but it has always worked out.  God wouldn't call us to give, and then leave us high and dry. 

So, what about you?  Are you a money rule follower?  Or have you found breaking rules to be better for you? 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

And the Scale Says...

That's a 1.5lb loss since last week, and a 6lb loss in 5 weeks!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Birthday Party Update

For Carson's party, we rented the gazebo by the apartment pool.  I bought snack foods and fruit.  The  cafe provided the appetizers and drinks. 

Coralynn was a big fan of the cheese balls.

Unfortunately, Friday night, Carson fell and needed 4 stitches.

The doctor said that it could get wet, but I was concerned about what would happen to the bandages in the water.

So, I went MacGyver on it.  Duct tape + plastic bag = Swim Ready!

One of his sweet friends brought a "Get Well" card and a "Happy Birthday" card!

The kids all had a wonderful time at the Club's BEAUTIFUL pool.  Camilla was loving jumping into the water.

I was tickled with myself because I got up enough courage to order, in Spanish, a customized birthday cake. I was thrilled to see so many of Carson's friends come.  (14 from a class of 22!) I think the highlight, for Carson, was having his teacher and teacher's aide come out for some birthday fun!  Tony and I were quite pleased with the whole morning.  And Carson told me that it was the "best birthday party ever!"  

Happy Almost Birthday, Carson!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

One More Day...

Tomorrow is Carson's birthday party.  I'm busy preparing for that so we'll move Funsy Friday to Saturday!  Sound like a plan?  Perfecto!  See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Praisin' on a Wednesday Afternoon!

~I am incredibly busy!  I'm busy participating in my kids' lives, and I love it!

~We have free time!  I love being able to spend a Saturday afternoon swimming with my kids and chatting with friends!

~We had a small earthquake last night!  We were beginning to feel "comfortable" again, and I love the comfort zone shake up!  Lord, may we never be too comfortable to trust you!

~I had a anxiety attack this morning!  I read some of my trigger words from a family member, and my health fears kicked into overdrive!  Thank you, Lord, that I have people that I love and care about!

~After about an hour of sheer panic, the Lord began to calm my soul!  His perfect peace is available when I keep my eyes on Him!

~Everyone is enjoying the healthy food changes!  (Although Chloe's teacher did send an email yesterday expressing Chloe's love of mayo!)

~I am trying a little harder with the Spanish!  I'm not sure if I'm getting anywhere, but the Lord is teaching me so much as I humble myself and attempt this language!  Decrease.  It's all about decrease.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Money Monday!

the Big Changes at Our House have had quite a positive impact on our finances.  I was afraid that our grocery budget was going to have to increase because "healthy food" seems more expensive.  I was so wrong, and so thrilled by the extra positives that have gone with the changes.  Here are the Big Three!

1.  My grocery trips are so much faster!  When you only need fresh produce, dairy, and meat, you avoid 80% of the store.  Less time in the story means less time to be tempted to buy things we don't truly need.  And less time for the grocery store to wear you down!

2.  Popcorn!

I'm having a love affair with popcorn.  I decided to eliminate chips.  They were expensive (about $0.35 each for the individual bags) and full of nasty pretend foods.  They also caused conflict because someone always took the last bag of the kids of chips someone else wanted.  I didn't need the drama, and the kids didn't need the junk.  The kids panicked when I told them.  They wanted something salty in their lunch boxes.  I understood that, but wanted something that had some nutritional value.  I thought about pretzels, but at $5-$6/bag, I couldn't justify the cost. We decided to go old school!

A 1-pound bag of popcorn kernels costs me $0.85.  From that, I can make 40 - 1.5 cup servings of popcorn (a whole grain food!).  So, instead of the $0.35 chips, I get $0.02 popcorn.  (The ziploc bags are under $.03 per, and the kids are told to bring them home so we can resuse them.)  The kids get a salty snack without all the preservatives and additives.  It's a win-win-win.  (And I happen to think it's super neat to watch the popcorn pop through the clear lid of my Dutch oven.  It's the little things, people!)

3. My dining budget has dropped!  This was the big shocker for me.  There is no question that buying grilled chicken breasts with vegetables for six at a restaurant is much more expensive than a trip to Taco Bell.  It's almost twice as expensive.  Here's the deal, though.  If you buy "real" food, your body fills up faster and stays full longer so everyone doesn't need his/her "own" chicken breast and veggies.  You can share.  

Yesterday, due to poor planning, we ended up eating Taco Bell for lunch.  It was $25.  And 25 seconds after we finished, we were hungry.  Then, we got ice cream for another $14.  And we were that unpleasant bloated full from processed foods.  By the time we made it home, I had a terrible headache, Carson was super cranky, and everyone was hungry again.  I'm confident had we spent that almost $40 on real food, everyone would have been satisfied until dinner.

What have been your money surprises this week?  Did you get a great deal?  Or did you come up with an easy way to save money?  Leave a comment, and let me know!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weight Update!

I'm running out the door to church so I'll get right to today's weight:

150 lbs for a loss this week of  1 lb and a 4 week loss of 4.5 lbs!

I can't weight (aren't a clever-ha!) to be back in the 140s!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sort Report!

This is a bad news/good news thing.

Bad News:  We didn't sort anything because I'm tired of trying to figure out what to do with all of it.

Good News:  I just got an email from a friend about an organization accepting donations until March 16th.  We are going to get our sorting groove on to see how much we can be rid of by then!  (Thanks, Laci!)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Funsy Friday!

One of the best parts of having company is that we get to "see" Panama for the first time again.  When Bill was here, he kept commenting on the mall.  I forgot that I felt the same way when we moved here.  I didn't picture Panama having a huge mall, but they do.

This is from the second story of the mall looking over the main food court.