A Lighter Journey

On a quest to lighten our loads and brighten our homes

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Making It Work…Cutting Expenses to Stay Home.

As mentioned in my previous post, Choosing to Live on One Income, we made a decision one day to make living on one income work, and stuck to it.  It was an easy decision.  The right decision.  But it meant we had to re-learn how to budget our money.

I was already frugal…I made my own laundry soap, cooked at home, shopped sales and consignment.  But in order to keep things flowing, and to stay out of debt, we had to get creative.

  • I started couponing and stopped going to Costco.  Savings per month-$400
  • Cloth diapers and cloth wipes.  Savings per month-$60
  • Canning/freezing my own fruits and veggies.  Savings per month-$30
  • Staying home more…date nights in, family movie nights.  Savings per month-$75
  • No “cost of work” expenses!  Savings per month-$25

I was able to cut almost $600 dollars out of our budget each month!

God also “assisted” us in our efforts.  Our prayers for my husband to move up in his company ( a small wholesale group, greatly impacted by the housing bubble) was answered!  My husband became a manager of the store branch in our town.  Which meant no more commute, a company car and cell phone.  We immediately sold his car and switched our cell phone plan to having only one line, mine.   This not only added to our monthly income, but allowed us to cut almost $200 per month in expenses!  We felt SO blessed!

We haven’t felt “poor”…ever.  We even managed to take a family trip to the Oregon Coast and buy a new mini-van!

We made a choice to make it work, and with the grace and blessing of God, we have.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.


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He Doesn’t Fit the Mold…and We’re OK with that!

My oldest child does not fit the mold.  In preschool concerns of Autism were mentioned.  We weren’t convinced, but we were worried.  Yes, Anders was reading and writing grade levels above preK, yet lagging behind in social/emotional development.  I was aware that he wasn’t quite like other kids in picking up on social cues and accepted norms.  He needed to be taught those.  He easily becomes anxious.  He has a very hard time expressing his feelings verbally when he’s upset.  My husband and I could see that he was different, but we didn’t want him labeled.

We also didn’t want (and couldn’t afford) any in-depth testing done for our son.  We just didn’t think that the differences were extreme enough to put him through a major evaluation which would create anxiety and possibly give him the idea that there was something wrong with him.  However,  we did agree to do the school-district special ed kindergarten screening where we could be present.  We slowly released that breath we were holding when the specialist said that she wasn’t too concerned. She told us,  “He may be a little different, but I don’t see that holding him back.”  I even brought up the concerns with our pediatrician (who specialized in Autism-spectrum disorders) at his 5-yr check-up.  She spent 5 minutes with him and said there was no need for testing.  It was reassuring to hear “Even if he is somewhere on the spectrum he would be so high-functioning that I wouldn’t worry about it.”  Insert another huge sigh of relief!

That didn’t mean Anders’ struggles were over.  We tried public school kindergarten, but it was such an over-stimulating environment and irregular schedule that he wasn’t learning and spent more time distracting other children.   I was hoping kindergarten would be more play-based learning, but it was a lot of sit-down work that Anders already knew.  He was fine leaving me in the morning and seemed to like school, but watching him in his classroom one morning I could see that he didn’t fit in.  He didn’t want to sit down.   He paid no attention to the teacher during the group lessons.  Instead he watched and tried to talk to other students.   He knew how to read, but couldn’t say the listed 100 random letters quickly enough (within 60 seconds) to pass kindergarten.  He also couldn’t walk down the hall without holding his teacher’s hand.  He loved playing on the playground with his class, but refused to eat in the cafeteria and go to recess with the whole student body present.

In my search to better understand my son I came across some books that were a big encouragement to me.  Cynthia Ulrich Tobias    (featured on Focus on the Family) wrote a couple of  books about learning styles that totally opened my eyes.  Instead of focusing on labels and disorders the books taught me that  Anders’ sees the world in a very differnt way  than I do, but that’s not a bad thing!  With a lot of examples in her books,  I learned more about myself, each of my children, and even a deeper understanding of my husband.  It changed me from asking “what’s wrong with my child?” or “why doesn’t he fit in?”  to “who has God made my child to be?”  and “how can I work with his strengths and weaknesses?”.  What a difference that perspective makes!

Yup, my son doesn’t fit the mold.  But I no longer think that’s a bad thing.  He’s an original!  We all are.  Insteading of forcing Anders to fit the system, we’ve found a system that fits him!




Why did I choose to homeschool?  Because public school won’t give my children a fantastic education?  No.  I don’t doubt that public schools could educate my children.  I went to public school.   Honestly, my reasoning is simple.  I didn’t want to “give” my little (big) boy away for eight hours a day.  I wanted to be the teacher.  I wanted to teach him to count, to read, to write.  I escpecially wanted to teach him to have good character and to grow in God.  So…when Kindergarten registration started in our neighborhood last spring, I ignored it!

I know some people, lots of people, think I am wrong.  Crazy even.  That’s okay.   The only people I really have to answer to are my children, my husband and my God.  So when I tell people, and people give me that “are you stupid” look, followed by their opinion, I just smile and tell them that we love it!  They tell me my kid probably won’t be “normal.”  I reply that I am okay with that, I am not a big fan of “normal” anyhow.  They say my kid won’t be “socialized.”  I assure them he has plenty of interaction at home and elsewhere.  I know homeschooling isn’t for everyone, and I agree.  But it is for me.

We are halfway through our Kindergarten year and we LOVE it.  I love seeing the joy of learning on their faces and in their hearts.

See…happy, functioning, engaged, “normal” little boys!




Freezer {speed}cooking-Breakfast Burritos and Baked Apple Oatmeal Squares

I attempt to do small batches of pre-cooked, ready to eat freezer meals once a week.  My goal is to spend only an hour or two and work through two or three recipes.

This week my goal was to work on some breakfast meals.  I love giving my kiddos healthy, wholesome breakfasts…but hate the mess it makes and the time it takes.  We try to move through breakfast quickly so we can move on to schooling.

I started with Baked Oatmeal Squares…this is a newer recipe in our house, but we love it!  I am listing an original recipe and my (healthier) version of it.

Original Baked Oatmeal

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup brown sugar

2 t. cinnamon

2 t. baking powder

1 t. salt

1 cup. milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup melted butter

2 t. vanilla extract

My Version ( mine is a doubled version)

6 cups rolled oats

1 qt. jar of apple pie filling (which we canned this fall)

4 t. baking powder

2 t. salt

2 c. milk

4 eggs

1 cup applesauce (we canned this too!)

3 T. vanilla (home made)

Add all ingredients and mix well.  Pour onto greased cookie sheets, or cake pans.  Cook for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

I didn’t quite have enough to fill two cookie sheets.  {oops}

After baking, and slight cooling, I sliced them up into square bars, left them on the cookie sheets, and put them in the freezer.  When they were frozen, I broke them apart into little bars.

 I put them in some gallon freezer bags and they will be ready to eat in a matter of (microwave) seconds!

*NOTE:  we’ve tried both versions…my kids like both, I prefer the first.  Then again, anything with butter tastes better, right?

While the Oatmeal was baking we started in on the breakfast burritos.

I have a general recipe, but you can add whatever makes you and yours happiest!

18 eggs

1-2 cups milk

a few cups of frozen hash browns

green peppers


I didn’t add any meat this time, but I have added in bacon or sausage for some added yumminess.

When the eggs are cooked I put them onto a flour tortilla sprinkled with cheese and roll them up.

Here is the key to keeping them perfect in the freezer…

  1. Wrap each burrito in a paper towel
  2. Take the buritto that has been wrapped to the paper towel and re-wrap it in tin foil.

 My boys love to make an assembly line and help with this.

When they are all wrapped up, stack them in your freezer, and you have a hearty breakfast on the go!

Remove tinfoil, but not the paper towel, before warming in the microwave.

Happy {speed}cooking!



Making Money by Living Lighter

Every year, when another new year rolls around, I pull out trash bags and boxes and fill them up with things we don’t need  anymore!   If it no longer serves a purpose in our lives or home, it’s out!

I wasn’t always this way…I used to save EVERYthing.   Three kids and a few episodes of “Hoarders” later, I was over it.  I was “over” hanging on to things that were no longer making our lives better.

I have some basic guidelines I follow when we embark on this process:


  • Broken toys
  • Toys that have missing pieces
  • Kids are no longer interested

Kids Closets

  • Stained, with no hope of getting it out
  • Outgrown, and something that I feel is not worth saving for future children.
  • Wrong size for the season (mostly with little baby clothes, since they grow too fast!)

I used to get emotionally overwhelmed by the thought of getting rid of baby things…but eventually my garage became overwhelmed with totes and totes of kids clothing.  Now I only save my favorite things for any future babies!  I also sort through hand-me-downs we recieve (and are so thankful for)  immediatley and pass on to another what we won’t use.

Our Closet

  • If I haven’t worn it in the last year
  • Stains…mostly the husband’s shirts!
  • No longer needed…maternity/nursing clothes that I am done with.  Most are WELL used by the end of a pregnancy.
  • Things that will probably never fit again

Keeping our things to a mininmum…only things we like and use, has allowed us to use our closet as a computer workspace and to store some of health/beauty stockpile (couponing has allowed us to stock up on products we need and use for rock pottom prices!)


  • Broken
  • Haven’t used in the past year

Every year we fill several large boxes and trash bags with things that were taking up space in our home, lives and minds!  It is truly a freeing feeling to load them in the van and drop them off!

I take all of my kids clothing, toys and my clothing  to a local children’s/women’s consignment store.  This year I made just over $100 in store credit!  I “bought” a cute Little Tikes nightstand for my boys’ room and still have lots left over!  I am keeping my eye out for a new-to-me single jogging stroller!

We sell bigger items on Craigslist!  What can I say, I {heart} Craigslist!  Last year we made $750 selling things we were done with…mostly my poor husbands duck decoys, which he hasn’t touched since he met me!

We take the rest to the Idaho Youth Ranch…we help kids out and get a tax deduction!

Happy cleaning!  And if you still need some motivation…search for “Hoarders” on Netflix, watch one episode, and you’ll be convinced.



A lighter version of…TACOS!

If you’re looking for a lighter and fresh-tasting taco meat recipe, look no further!  Add a little cayenne if you like ’em hot!  Inspired by Grandma Ellie (my husband’s grandmother).


1lb ground turkey

1 7oz can chopped green chilis

1 small onion (finely chopped)

1T  cumin

1T  Worcestershire sauce

1/2 t  garlic powder

Cayenne pepper (optional)

1 can (or 1 cup) cooked black beans (drained)

Extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste

Drizzle a little olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Saute onion for 2-3 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add turkey meat, chilis, and spices and cook thoroughly.  Once the meat is cooked, add beans and cook 5 more minutes (or until beans are heated through).  Add salt and pepper as needed. Serve with taco shells and your favorite taco fixings.  Enjoy!


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Choosing To Live On One Income

When we started our family in 2006, our intent was always for me to be a stay at home mom.

However, due to financial stress, and a collapsing economy, we decided when my littlest was six months old that I would “moonlight” as a server at a nearby restraunt. The next day we found out we were (SUPRISE) expecting a second baby!

We were thankful for the insurance and the added income…but it was stressful to play “stay at home Mommy” during the day and wait tables at night.
I did this for for over three years…far longer than I ever anticipated. My heart ached to be at home with my husband and babies.

When we found out we were expecting Baby #3 in early 2010, I prayed and hoped, scimped and saved, hoping that I could stay home after the baby came. I planned everything down to the penny…how we would pay for (another) c-section, insurance, everything.

You know the saying, “you plan, God laughs”?  God laughed at our plans. I was put on restricted activity rest at 30 weeks ( I had hoped to work until 37 weeks), and when Chloe was born we found out she had a rare birth defect. She had a blood clot in her leg that caused part of her leg and foot tissue to become necrotic in utero. She spent seven days in the NICU.  One of the afternoons we were sitting in the NICU, staring at our beautiful daughter and wondering what the future held for her and for us,  my husband said to me, “you’re never going back to work, your job is to take care of her, we’ll make it work.” Despite everything that was wrong, that day, that moment, I found an incredible sense of peace.

And we did. We made it work. Despite a year filled with medical drama and bills…we made it work! We haven’t missed the second income at all! God has provided above and beyond our expectations!  Our daughter is amazing all of us with her health and joy!  So…I planned, God laughed…but really, He was laughing because HE knew how to make my dreams come true!


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