Sunday, July 27, 2014

Living an abundant life...

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Some of you might remember the times when the original name of this blog was "Frugal and Thankful". And even though I changed that name since, it didn't influence what I believe in. Being thankful is a huge part of how I see life. There are times when the plate is overflowing, and it's hard to find things to be thankful for.

But if you slow down and look around, there are so many things, moments, people, experiences that can fill your heart to the fullest with gratitude... Really, so much in life depends solely on our attitude.

I read a quote the other day that really inspired some pondering here:

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We can't direct the winds but we can adjust the sails... In the past few days I tried to put in extra effort to see good in life. And I was amazed at how many blessings I've received.

1. Peace. I'm not going to lie, this is not exactly a peaceful time in my life. There are so many things I worry about, scared of, not sure how to deal with, that it gets overwhelming really quickly. But this past week I tried to find a few minutes every morning to squeeze in some Scripture study and spending time in "sweet hour of prayer". It's not always easy to do with two kids and a hundred and two responsibilities but it definitely brought that peace into my life that I so longed for. Whether religious or not, there are many things we can do to gain extra peace and comfort...

2. Friends. I was amazed at how many friends reached out to me in the past few weeks. Some brought physical blessings  -like books on multiples - really made me happy - baby stuff, offers to babysit so we can find time for each other or extra cuddles for when babies are here so this tired Mommy can take a shower. Or this blessing to make our life truly "abundant":

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Others just brought hugs, encouragement, extra laughter and much needed grown-up interaction. Friends truly rock!

3. Family. I have to say, I am not on perfect terms with all the members of my or my DH' s family. Some of those relationships have been a bit rocky lately, and not necessarily because of something we've done. But other family members have been such a tremendous help that my heart swells with gratitude. My FIL has helped us with so many doctor's appointments (since I have a lot more of them than ever before), my sister-in-law is always willing to babysit even when she has her own hands full beyond capacity. My other awesome SIL just celebrated her own Birthday but decided to make it a very special day for the kids instead. She and her husband rented a gigantic bounce house with water slides, and the kids had a blast - and Moms a break!! It was amazing!

And of course, my Mom and my sister are such a blessing in my life. The other day I spent more than two hours Skyping with my Mom and we chatted about everything and anything in the world as if the borders and miles between us didn't exist. I wish I could also squeeze her tight through the screen but it still amazes me at what we already can do thanks to some technology achievements.

4. The bounty of earth. And of course, it wouldn't be right if I didn't mention how grateful I am for the abundance that we get from our garden. Just picked this morning:

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I don't spend nearly as much time as I should in the garden but it's still blessing us above and beyond anything I can comprehend. Love me some free and organic produce!

So what are you thankful for on this beautiful Sunday evening?


Thursday, July 24, 2014

I finally got...

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...the first pieces of clothes for my little buns in the oven :)

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In my usual frugal manner, they were 80% off but, I think, they are just so adorable :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How will you do it??

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...is the question we've been asked a lot lately when we tell people we are having twins. It's probably going to be a while before I share all tried-and-true secrets on how to raise multiples with you. In fact, every time somebody asks this question, I mentally start biting my nails because I have NO idea. Just the thought of burping and feeding two babies makes my head spin... The only comfort I get is that this too shall pass... even the burping stage.

Another part of this question usually entails the financial side of it. After all, we will become a family of six in a matter of months.. Say lots and lots of expenses...

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I can't say I don't think about it. More like all the time :) I do believe that God knows our needs and He provides when we trust in Him. But I also believe that He will not help if we don't raise our tush off the couch and do our part, so He can meet us half way.

I know I can't predict what will happen. I can only hope. And I know that whatever we do will require lots of careful planning. I'm not trying to figure it all out until all the kids are out of the house. We'll take it one step at a time. But we will be doing at least these few things:

Tighten our belts even tighter.  Well, that's a given. We've always been frugal but, I guess, we would have to explore a whole new level of frugality. It's probably going to be a while before we take all for of the kids to Disneyland again... I can see a lot more camping trips in our future instead. But I believe that in many ways kids are as expensive as you make them. And having a big family often means just adjusting your lifestyle and priorities. We will never have the biggest house on the block or a Ferrari parked in front of it but if our kids are well fed, clean, decently (doesn't equal new) dressed and know they are loved, I will be forever grateful for all the blessings in our lives.

SAHM. I will keep staying home with my kids. I don't know if I'll keep working from home when the babies are here (I need to find out my company's policy on that) but between taxes and daycare prices I will save us more by not working full-time.

Develop new talents. I'm slowly getting into sewing (Carla, you can be proud of me!). It's a work in progress but I want to be able to sew at least some things for our kids. My sister really inspires me to do that. She just made a bunch of dress pants for her son instead of buying uniforms. I want to be her when I grow up (don't mind the fact that I'm seven years older... I'm a child at heart!)

Pay ourselves first. I might be in the minority here but I believe that parents are NOT obligated to put their kids through college (even though we should encourage kids to do so). I paid my way through college all by myself while working in a senior center, as a tutor, and while helping my Mom with embellishing her sewing orders (I would do the embroidering by hand on some of the pieces), and I never felt that my parents owed me anything. That was something I owed to myself. But I am gratfeul that they taught me the value of working hard even at  young age. I hope to instill it to our children too.
We put my husband through college too. His Dad helped us out with a couple of semesters but for the rest, we partially got FAFSA and paid out of pocket. And kids have their whole future ahead of them to make choices (including financial) for themselves. On the other hand, retirement savings are only there if you contribute. We will keep contributing to our future while trying to do our best to set something aside for the kids too, as needed.

Save, coupon, not shop or shop where I can afford Again, I will keep doing it in the future and, maybe, a little more so. For example, I'm discovering a whole new world of diapers all over again. Let me just tell you, it's a lot harder to find a good deal now comparing with five years ago (and yes, I know that cloth diapers might be cheaper but I don't think I can pull it off, at least the first few months. If I'm going to function on 2-3 hrs. of sleep, I think, the disposables will be a must to keep me sane...). One of the things I'm still debating on though is whether or not a warehouse membership is worth it. What do you think? Do you have one? Pros and cons of having one? I talked to a friend the other day, and she told me that she spends $600 or more on groceries a month, all because she shops at Costco. Does a warehouse membership really save you money??

And I will keep being grateful for classifieds, thrift stores and hand me downs :)

I know, the older the kids will get, the more expensive raising them will become but we will worry about it as time goes. Again, I noticed how many times in our lives God miraculously provided for everything we needed and sometimes even more when it seemed like there was no way out...

So what are/would be your secrets on how to make it financially with a bigger family?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Food waste and a menu, week 7/21-7/26.

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Hello, hello, my dear friends,

How was your Monday? I woke up feeling great and full of energy this morning. I love mornings like this, especially at the beginning of the week. I had quite a productive weekend and it didn't stop today. The proof of my productivity? Well, how about 13 cans of pickles? :) This girl is getting ready for winter already (even though I doubt they will last until winter...):

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And my house is surprisingly clean too :) I don't remember when the last time that happened was... I don't count on it to last with two three little piggies here but it feels nice...

I also organized our fridge and the only food waste I have is this little tomato:

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I will have to reevaluate a few things about my cooking now though. Last year my husband was diagnosed with Esophagitis. He finally made it to the doctor a week ago and they did preliminary tests and already told us that he's allergic to most nuts (especially, pistachios) and sesame seeds. But we also noticed that he's been struggling every time he eats tomato-based meals (he's still fine with fresh tomatoes). And I never realized how many things I make with tomato sauce/paste!!! It's been weeks since we had anything but Alfredo sauce or plain cheese and butter with our pasta... He's fine with us eating things made with tomato sauce but I'm just too lazy to cook twice. So this week I decided to wait with the menu until (hopefully!) we'll get more answers. We will just work through the leftovers, make eggs and grill some, and will see how it goes. Our garden finally started to produce - we will have peppers and zucchinis this week, so we'll be eating them too. I'm kind of craving some grilled zucchinis here:)

And that's how things are :)

What is your favorite go-to recipe on a lazy day?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The diamond in the rough...

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Hello, hello, my lovely friends!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Ours is chock full of fun with family and friends. I really enjoy spending time with them but, man, this girl is exhausted! I can barely drag my feet today...

But I know I promised to tell you how much I spent for the dresser :) No Terri, it wasn't free :)

Last week we all went to Toys R Us to use my oldest son's Birthday coupon (the perks of signing the kids up for the Birthday Club - $5 to spend on anything). But very close to Toys R Us is my favorite Goodwill. Of course, I couldn't pass it up :)

Before I knew it, I was in the furniture department.  And here it was... my diamond in the rough. For the most unbelievable price. (insert drum rolls, please!!):

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Yep, just $5.99 (Cindy, you were the closest with your guess on Facebook :) I couldn't believe my eyes at first. Score! I immediately called my husband and told him that we are getting it. To sweeten the deal even further - even though it was super-sweet already - I used a 20% coupon that I got after donating a bunch of stuff to them, so in reality I only paid $4.69 for it. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, it's very solid though does need a bit of help. But all of it is cosmetic, and I can see this piece lasting us for years and years to come.

And this is my major score for the month :)

And did you get any good deals lately, whether in a grocery store, from thrift stores or classifieds, or, maybe, yard sales??

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