Frugal Decorating – Porch Makeover

As many of you know, we are in the process of remodeling our home and getting it ready to put on the market. Ironically part of the remodeling process is also decorating to create that “curb appeal”. Unfortunately, our budget will not allow much allocated to that expense, so we are learning how to decorate on a dime. I will be writing some articles to show you some of the frugal decorating ideas we are trying. I hope they inspire you try some too!

frugal decorating 3

 

 

Last year we started fixing up and painting our house. It has been a huge endeavor, but we really didn’t have much of a choice when the lowest quote was $10,000! So, we have all been learning some serious life skills with that project. Here you can see how much we have had to do…

 

House prep

Here is the next stage of the porch. It is not complete, but we are making a lot of progress!

Porch

We are really glad we went back to the gray. The green was just too darn hot on your feet and it showed every little nick in the paint (Not that those were little nicks, of course ūüėČ )

Disclosure

Last year we were gifted with a couple of old wood chairs at a yard sale. They were pretty rough looking. But structurally they seemed fine. So we took them and put them in the barn.

wood chair watermarked

This year, as I was starting to update the porch and paint the swing and tables, I remembered the chairs in the barn and decided to try my hand at spray painting and “antiquing” them.

I used Rust-oleum American Accent¬†Satin finish¬†spray paint. I have heard how easy it is to do … so I really wanted to try it! It took two cans of paint to coat the chair pretty well (about $20). Here is the painted chair.

painted chair watermarked

After that, I took some fine grit sandpaper to it and spent just about 10 minutes roughing up the areas that made sense to me. The places where you would hold it, sit on it, put your feet on it, bump it, etc.

antiqued chair 2 watermarked

Then throw in a pillow I got from Wal-Mart on clearance and you have the final look.  Our house is white with green shutters and roof. We have a white PVC fence along the front of the house. So it just feels like it needs some color.

antiqued chair watermarked

I still have one more chair to do and a table to go in the middle. But I think it turned out pretty good for my first attempt! ¬†Speaking of adding color, I’m contemplating painting the table the light coral color at the top left hand on the pillow. What do you think? ¬†Do you like the direction I’m headed in?

I want to get one more thing after I get the table painted for this area of the front porch … it is an antique window to hang on the wall. I’m excited to be moving forward but not spending a fortune doing it!

Anybody have an antique window I can buy cheap? ūüėČ

More frugal decorating ideas to come!

trish

 

 

March Menu Plan for Busy Homeschool Moms

Over in our Hip Homeschool Moms Community, I read the posts by the moms struggling to have time to get everything done. I can’t buy you more time, but I can help you organize your menus. I have found that if I’ll just commit it to paper, I will cook it! I don’t know why, but the guessing and questioning “What’s for dinner?” is harder than doing the menu plan! I’m sure there is some great psychological reason behind it… I just know it works, so I do it. ¬†So here is my March Menu Plan.

march menu plan d

 

 

Also, menu planning saves money. Many know about our struggles to keep our home and for me to able to continue to homeschool, so saving money is a big deal around here. One of my secrets is my hubby hunts. We use 2 lbs of meat in our ground beef recipes… but one of those pounds is ground venison. That saves us a little right there. Also, we live in the country, so we tend to buy in bulk instead of shopping the sales.

Many moms in the group just want ideas of what to cook. So I thought I would create a monthly menu plan with a Pinterest board to match, so you can find them easily and pin them yourself. ¬†And yes, I know March is 1/3 over, but hey, you gotta’ start somewhere, right? Anyway, I hope this helps you and gives you some motivation to get it done!!

If you don’t have a crock pot, you need to get one. That is one of my secrets for saving time. I can put dinner on in the morning while we are still getting ready to start school and it is ready when we are finished. My favorite crock pot cook book is Fix it and Forget it. We have cooked dozens of their recipes and they are all good.

I just keep my menu plan on my normal calendar. This is one I got back in December with one of those fabulous lightning deals I’m getting known for …. It is a Lily Pulitzer calendar! I just love it.

calendar

March 1. Homemade Potato Soup. I modified this one heavily, but I’ll share the base recipe and you can adjust to fit your particular likes.

March 2. Leftover Potato Soup.

March 3. Broccoli & Chicken Stir Fry. We love this recipe. It is quick and easy. A win / win!

March 4. Creole Mustard and Garlic Crusted Roast Beef. This was our Purim meal. We are Messianic and celebrate feasts as Israel does… so this was a feast for us!

March 5. Crock Pot¬†Salsa Chicken. This is from my favorite foodie… Conni over at Cosmopolitan Cornbread. She is our Foodie at Hip Homeschool Moms!

March 6. Nachos Grande.  Remember this is one we would split with Venison. My kids love it. I also use Lime Salsa instead of plain salsa.

March 7. Eat out. Yes, that is on the menu sometimes too ūüôā

March 8. Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I sometimes use canned chicken (yep, I said it). And thanks to a visit from my partner in crime over at Hip Homeschool Moms, Leann, I now add about three cups of rice to this recipe. Sooo good.

March 9. Heinz Red Magic Meat Loaf. I actually snagged this recipe off a Heinz ketchup bottle 20 years ago and am still using the same recipe ūüôā I cook mine in two meat loaf pans instead of one. My boys like it less moist.

March 10. White Chicken Chili. This recipe is so easy. I use dried navy beans and cook them in the crock pot on high for 6 hours with two chicken bouillon cubes. Then I move it all to my soup pot. We use a lot of cumin and chili powder. More than the recipe calls for. I make this with my Quick Corn Bread recipe.

March 11. Sweet and Spicy Citrus Tilapia.¬†Finding a recipe that all my boys like in the fish category is challenging (unless it is fresh flounder at the beach). But this one is always popular. ¬†Note. I cut the red pepper in half. They rated it an 11 out of 10 ūüôā

March 12. Crock Pot Meat Balls. I don’t use frozen meatballs… I make them. But this is the recipe I use.

March 13. Grilled Chicken Quesadillas. This is one of our absolute favorite recipes! We love cumin and cilantro!

March 14. Leftovers.Disclosure

March 15. Salisbury Steak with Caramelized Onion Gravy. This is my middle son’s favorite recipe. He asks us to cook this almost every week. It is a long, cumbersome recipe. But it is worth the effort (once a month ūüôā ) We double it so Gage can have left overs.

March 16. Chicken Spaghetti or Chickenetti. We don’t do black olives so I don’t use those, and I cook it in the oven for a bit longer (we like the cheese to be melted).

March 17. Saucy Pepper Steak. To save a little money on this one, I use green bell peppers instead of the other colors. They are much more expensive.

March 18. Grilled Chicken Light Alfredo Sauce. For the Grilled chicken, I just use butter and light garlic salt on chicken breasts. Either bake, fry or grill them. For the pasta, I use Bow Tie Pasta (my boys love it).

March 19 – 21st I’m out-of-town… so the family is fending for themselves. ūüôā I imagine there will be lots of boxed lasagna, homemade pizza and maybe some ramen noodles for lunch! Actually all of my boys can cook, they may eat this… but they are capable of cooking more if they want it.

March 22. Crock pot Turkey. We tend to use our crock pot a lot. I usually thaw my turkey… for this one. ¬†Another very easy meal.

March 23. Crock Pot¬†Stuffed Bell Peppers. We have several different recipes we use for stuffed bell peppers… just to keep them from getting boring.

March 24. Garlic Brown Sugar Backed Chicken. This is one of my hubby’s favorite recipes and it is one of the easiest you will ever cook. I usually cook garlic, lemon pepper chicken for the boys because they are not huge fans of this recipe.

March 25. Chicken Fried Rice. This one I’ll just have to get the recipe for you. I have modified the Beni Hana’s recipe so much… but here is a different recipe until I get mine posted.

March 26. Taco Pizza. We haven’t made Taco pizzas in a while. Will pull this recipe off the shelf and try it again.

March 27.  Honey Sesame Chicken. I guess you see we have a thing for Mexican and Asian dishes!

March 28. Leftovers.

March 29. Beef Burritos.¬†This website was down when I went to pin this… if it is not back up soon, I’ll post the recipe on my site with credits to them. It is the best burritos recipe ever. Another 10 out of 10 from my family on this one!

March 30.¬†We always attempt to try something new each month. Here is this month’s new recipe. Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken. If you make it before I do, let me know what you think.

March 31. Beef kabob. This is actually one we love to fix. It is from Eating our Way around the world Geography study.

So, did I inspire you? I sure hope so! I’ll get my April Menu plan up sometime in late March.

What are some of your favorite recipes that I should be testing?  

C is for Crimson – The Stalker Chicken!

Hello! This is my C post for  our alphabet blogging series where we blog through the alphabet. I have to tell you about something funny that happened to me a few days ago. I was holding one of my roosters when he reached up and bit me on my neck! The rooster that did this is the subject of my post. Crimson РThe Stalker Chicken!

c

Now I have to explain to you the story on how we got Crimson, our tiny little rooster. (In this picture he is full-grown.) We ordered some blue Cochin Bantams from Welp Hatchery. A few weeks after we received them we could tell that this breed is a very small breed or Welp had gotten our order wrong. A month or so later, when they were full-grown, we knew our order had to be wrong.

Crimson

It was¬†hilarious how small they were and instead of crowing, the roosters sound like a squeaky toy! Well, pretty soon Crimson started stalking¬†me while I fed the hens and other roosters. One time, when I was leaning over to place one of the food bowls in the correct position, I felt something pounce on me, pulling my hair and scratching my back. Not knowing what it was, I shot up straight sending what was on me soaring¬†to the ground. I was surprised to see Crimson standing there giving me this “look”. ¬†Now known as “his look”. ¬†It is where he keeps one eye glaring¬†at you and the other eye overlooking his flock.¬†

From then on, Crimson darts after me when I am in their vicinity. When I run, he loves to race after me and flog my ankles and lower legs. How can this tiny little rooster match my running speed? I don’t know, but he does! When I have finished my chores and have returned to the house, he takes it as a huge victory that he has not only protected his ladies but has “run off the intruder”. His victory is confirmed by a long, high-pitched squeaky crow, followed by him strutting over to his ladies. By now, I guess you have figured out, he is the head of the flock. The hens love him even if he’s the smallest rooster we have. and he is my favorite rooster. I love how he protects his ladies. One of his ladies hatched out a couple of babies and now, he has a son! ¬†His son is already taller than Crimson!

 

Crimson2

 

I hope you have all enjoyed me posting about my little rooster! See ya soon!

One Word

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve had time to spend a few minutes writing. With homeschooling and¬†renovating¬†our home, the general upkeep and maintenance of a family of five with chickens, horses, dogs, cats… Not to even mention managing the social media for the rapidly growing Hip Homeschool Moms Facebook Page, moderating the new Community¬†with almost 10,000 homeschool moms and managing the Montessori Materials Group … I stay more than just pretty busy. You might even say life has been C.R.A.Z.Y. the last half of 2014. However, it is time to get back into a routine with sharing about our¬†homeschool and life. After all, that is why I started this website to begin with! To share how we do what we do, to meet like-minded moms and to hopefully inspire others. And speaking of inspiring…

This time of year I see lots of writers posting their resolutions for the new year. I’m not big on resolutions… at all. But one concept I stumbled upon really inspired me.¬†Ironically, the article I read ¬†and shared about¬†was on our Hip Homeschool Moms’ website.¬†The concept is this…. Choose one word you would use to prophesy what you want your year to be. One Word. I have really thought about, prayed and pondered this a lot for the last several weeks. At first glance, it seemed it was going to be pretty hard to narrow them down to one word. … with all the possibilities …all the words that inspire me. I had to pick¬†Just One Word.

One Word

 

I started thinking about the priorities I have … those things I don’t want to fail at. Those things that I consider so important they are part of my very identity. Those are the things that need my attention this year.

My Faith.

My Family.

Our Homeschool.

So when choosing THE word, it had to help me sharpen my focus on those three things and inspire me to do better in each and every category.

My Faith.

In order to know Our Father’s will, we have to study His manual…. The Scriptures. We are a Messianic family, so we believe both Testaments are relevant and apply to us. We are believers in Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) and believe He is our model for how we are to live our lives. We don’t compare our walk to the world… we compare our walk to His example. And I fail. A lot.¬†But 2014 brought lots of reconciliation and forgiveness to our family… Areas that I had really been praying about. Unforgiveness is ugly and can tear a marriage apart. I had to forgive. In order to do that I had to see my husband as a child of God and the father to my children and not as my husband… at least not until I could forgive him. And I prayed for that very thing. I prayed over our marriage and over our family. Daily. And God has answered my prayers. So I literally can’t wait to see what He has in store for us this year!

My Family.

As a family we have been through a pretty rough couple of years. When I decided to homeschool, I chose to downsize our business so I could step away … little did I know how downsized it would be! So saying finances have been tight would be an understatement. A year ago we almost lost our home. We are still working to get out of this mess, but we are making great strides towards stability in our finances and ridding ourselves of this¬†debt. In doing that, some things necessarily have to change because of these decisions. One very important thing is downsizing our lifestyle. Getting our home ready to sale has been a high priority for our family. And it has been the entire family! Renovating our home has taught us so much… not just how to scrap and repair and paint… but how to work together, how to overcome obstacles, how to persevere through hard times and how to continue to see joy in life and our everyday circumstances. To show and express our love with something other than things. It has been a year of Living. Loving. and Laughter… even through these difficult trials. For that I am truly thankful!

Our Homeschool.

Needless to say our homeschool has suffered. Not as much as I thought it would… especially academically. More in routine and discipline. In my record keeping. In their record keeping. Our curriculum is fantastic. And unlike previous years, we are not even switching out curriculum at the beginning of the year. My boys have continued homeschooling through these trials. Through our constant stopping and starting. We’ve spent a lot of time sky watching and thermometer gazing …. seeing if it was an outside work day or an inside work day. Yet they have kept working. Maybe not as much as we had planned…. but they were working. But for 2015 we really have to buckle down and work the homeschool plan that we laid out some time ago.

As you see, all three priorities are all related and intertwined. Like a three stranded cord, so tightly woven together they are no longer distinguishable as individual cords. Inseparable. Dependent on each other for success. When I finally sat down and invested the time¬†to focus on choosing THE ¬†word and how it would reflect my priorities, it was not that hard to choose. Before I tell you my word, let me tell you its various definitions….

  • to support, confirm, be faithful, uphold, nourish
  • to be founded, firm, established, faithful, trustworthy, sure
  • to stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in

So what is my one word that embodies all the things I want for me, my faith, my family and our homeschool this year?

Steadfast.

Steadfast in my faith, in trusting Abba to provide everything I need to do all that is in His Will. Steadfast in the knowledge that as long as I am living His Will and doing His work, that my labor will be fruitful. If I remain steadfast with my eyes firmly fixed on Him, then my priorities will always be straight and all the things we strive to do in His name will be blessed. Yes, One word, steadfast, perfectly describes what I desire for my year. For my life.

 

mountain steadfast

 

What one word would you choose to define your year?  Your Life? Please share them in the comments!! I am looking forward to reading your One Word.

Until next time… ¬†James 1:22-24… be a blessing!

 

 

Modeling Life-Long Learning

If you recall, we are in the midst of getting our house ready to sell… we are downsizing in a big way!! Part of the downsizing includes clearing out the curriculum that my children have used and passed by. I have been listing all my curriculum for sale and have been so blessed to have sold a ton. I still have loads more to go, so keep watching that post, I’m adding to it all the time! We have so much we are getting done in preparation for putting the house on the market:

  • We have a new liner going into our pool. ¬†
  • A new slide for our pool coming.
  • I am painting the mortar of our brick floor in the kitchen (I’m writing a post on that too, I’ll link it when I complete the post).¬†
  • And, getting our house painted by an outside contractor. Well, at least I thought we were!

Apparently this is another one of those projects that we are supposed to do ourselves because we literally can’t hire a painting contractor to do it. ¬†So, here we go again… I’m beginning to wonder if I jinxed us when I named the farm “Live and Learn”! We seem to be doing a whole lot of that lately! No, not really… but we are certainly modeling life-long learning for sure!

modeling life long learning

I am just going to add this to our ever-growing real life homeschool activities. You see, we have had a plan in place for a long time to expose the boys to as many experiences (work-wise and leisure activities) as possible while they are here with us. This might even be a blessing. Chase has really been struggling to identify a business he wants to throw himself into for the next few years. And since apparently there is a great need for exterior painters in our area, this just might be the beginning of a paint contracting business for them through high school! Hey, you never know!!

In preparation for this huge task, I have been doing some research. I found a great article¬†on This Old House by a professional painter who gave us lots of suggestions. The pro mentioned that half of a great paint job is the prep work. You need to get the surface ready to paint by scraping, sanding, filling, sealing, and priming first. Then, and only then, do you paint. ¬†Today, we began this new life-lesson on prepping our house for painting. We got about half the front porch completed and still have a lot more to do! ¬†This project may take us a while, but I’ll post updates to let you know how it is going!¬†Here are a few pictures of what we got done today…

House prep

Whew… the house is going to look UGLY for a few weeks at this rate! I guess that will be part of my motivation to get it done!! I’m not going to say this project doesn’t intimidate, because it does. But, not because of the scope (although that is enough to intimidate most painters apparently) but because we have so much going on already! It already feels like we are furiously treading water. So prayers will be greatly appreciated for us to stay on track and not let this project stagnate like we have a tendency to do when we are overwhelmed.

And finally, the last aspect that is uncomfortable right now is the fact that we will have to spend some money on tools to do this project. So far we have purchased:

Disclosure

But that is nothing … to do a project this size, there are two major purchases we have identified that we will need to get:

  • The first is a pressure washer. We are always borrowing a dear friend’s washer. It is here more than it is at his house. We have PVC fences that are constantly needing to be washed, brick walkways and patios to hose down, driveways and a portico that needs to be washed and not to mention the house itself. So, this one will get used and often! ¬†Today we purchased a Generac 6590¬†from Amazon. We really wanted to buy it locally, but if we ordered it from Home Depot it would not be here until after July 4th… and that is going to be a weekend of working o this house painting project! So, we ordered it from Amazon, even though it has an awful review there… the reviews on Home Depot, are fantastic, so that is the reason we still bought it!! And speaking of faster shipping… Have I mentioned how much I love having Amazon Prime? Honestly, between borrowing Kindle books for homeschooling and my need for speed with the deliveries, I more than recuperate the $79 it costs for a year!! ¬†Try Amazon Prime for free¬†on me¬†!!
  • And the second big purchase is a paint sprayer. ¬†This one we will be buying at Home Depot, because it is much cheaper than Amazon (which is unusual)! ¬†This will be a lifesaver on this size house… but we also have a ton of other paint projects on the horizon. ¬†We are planning to paint cabinets, shutters, plantation blinds, and outdoor furniture… so this will certainly get used as well! ¬†

I really hate to spend that money right now when we really can’t afford it… but I think these will be wise investments and we will come out way ahead in the end. And, once we downsize, if we don’t have a need for these tools, we can always sell them!!

So, say a prayer for us. This is a huge project that we were not planning to tackle. We trust that God has a plan for us through this, so we are jumping in head first and getting it knocked out. ¬†I’ll post an update on our progress soon!

Until then… be a blessing to someone!

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The New Chapter – Day 1 with Free Printable

Well, today was the beginning of The New Chapter – Day 1 of T-Tapp. ¬†If you haven’t read about this new direction in my life, you can find it here. And I did read the directions first and even watched the introduction of the video! ¬†So, today was the first day of measurements. I created a Tracking My Success¬†word document to track my measurements and be able to see the changes. I added one column that was not on the T-Tapp chart, dress size. Because that will be a huge motivation to me when I start seeing my sizes drop. But one number that you will notice is conspicuously absent is the weight. That is because Teresa doesn’t want us focused on our weight… so it’s not on the list to track and measure. What a relief that is!

The New Chapter Day 1

After getting all my measurements recorded, I pulled out the DVD to watch it. The pamphlet had emphasized how doing the exercises correctly is important, so I watched the Instructional 1 DVD. If you are interested in purchasing it, here is the link to the store. So my question is, can you still call it “starting” when you are not able to keep up with the instructional video? LOL! Well, I got news for ya’, I am totally claiming it as a win! ūüôā

ttapp

I love that real women who come in different sizes and shapes are in the T-Tapp video. Even different skill levels and ages! I don’t know about you, but watching pencil thin women work out is NOT motivating to me! So having real women, real T-Tapp women doing these exercises was encouraging. Teresa spent time talking about their different body types and how our core body type will impact realistic expectations. That is fantastic! ¬†My best friend growing up with me had big bones and was just a bigger girl than I was … we were given the nicknames string bean and butter bean (not nice, I know)… but those sure give a perfect visual image of the differences in our body shapes, even when we are teenagers! ¬†So the fact that Teresa spent a few minutes discussing this and encouraging us to set realistic goals was refreshing!

Disclosure

Back to the DVD, the exercises are not hard… I just don’t know how to do them yet. Teresa said some people do this same piece of the instructional video for weeks because it is so important to do the exercises right. ¬†I very well may be one of them. I used to love to dance, but something about choreographed exercise always gets me stumped. I think it is because they are looking at me and I can’t see it from my perspective that always throws me off. But I’ll get it, eventually!

Our family keeps the Biblical Sabbath, so I won’t be attempting exercise on Saturday morning… but I’ll be back at it on Sunday. ¬†Hopefully, I’ll be able to follow along better now that I’ve seen them once!

Are you planning to join me in this quest to get healthy?  Let me know!

Until next time….

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A New Chapter – Weight Loss and Lifestyle Changes

I quit smoking almost two years ago and I hit 49 this year. So, not only did I gain some weight from quitting smoking, but I now have a lower metabolism to boot! ¬†I refuse to hit Fifty with too much extra weight because it just keeps getting harder to lose. So, I am opening a new chapter in my life! At a time when I have zero extra money to spend… I spent it. I’m choosing to look at the cost as an early 50th birthday present to me! I’ve been looking at the T-Tapp System for a year or so. In that year, I didn’t lose any of that extra weight, just kept finding friends for it! ¬†I am one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms and one of our new team members lost 100+ lbs with T-Tapp at about this exact same time in her life. Look at Charlotte’s picture on this page and see if that doesn’t get you motivated!

ttapp live and learn farm 2

So, join with me on this journey! We will motivate each other and encourage each other! I’ll be starting with taking “before” pictures. Don’t think I’m going to share them (yet). ¬†Got to get to those “after” pictures to do that… ¬†Just keeping it real ūüôā

Disclosure

Besides just exercising, I’ll also be starting a new healthier lifestyle. When I lived at the beach, it was so much easier for me. I walked miles on the beach each day! Here, I live on a major highway on a farm. I don’t even have a neighborhood to walk in, much less a beach. So, it’s harder. But it is not impossible and and we are pushing aside all excuses, right? So, I will have to either do my walking / running / biking right here on my property (not happening) or we will be driving to the next town over to do it. And that is fine, for the time being. The boys all got new bikes a couple of years ago, so we will be sure their tires are all aired up and I’ll borrow hubby’s bike and we’ll be off! Remember we are also downsizing our life so I don’t anticipate being in this house too long!

bike together

No, his bike is not pink! ¬†But I couldn’t resist this image and I did find a sweet pink bike that would be just right for me! Maybe if he sees that I am making a lifestyle change and I’m sticking to it, he’ll get inspired to get me my own bike so that he can join in on our rides on his bike!

Another way I will be changing our lifestyle is to investigate ways to eat more healthy. ¬†One thing I keep hearing about is a low carb diet. ¬†So, I’ll be investigating recipes to incorporate and try. ¬†Here is one I found today… it is a Free kindle right now (but be sure to check to see if it is still free when you download it). And another one that is low fat and metabolism boosting for free!!

So, what helps you continue to stay motivated when you start a new chapter in your life? For me, it’s sharing it with the world and being help accountable by others. But that is not enough! ¬†So, I’m looking for ideas and ways to not only stay encouraged myself but to help others stay on track.

So are you in?  Will you be part of this new chapter in my life?  I hope you will!  Leave a comment below and let me know!  If you are blogging, be sure to leave your blog information too!

Until next time….

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Rat Race Rebellion – Just 18 Summers

I¬†worked in corporate America. I personally saw or was involved in lay-offs, corporate mergers, and hostile takeovers! And….. I have worked for myself for twenty years since then.¬†From a quality of life perspective, I would not wish corporate America on my worst¬†enemy, much less my own children. You might say, I am in full Rat Race Rebellion.¬†

rat race rebellion 2

Let’s define what is “the rat race”. ¬†The wikipedia definition goes something like this: ¬†

‚ÄúA¬†rat race¬†is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of the futile efforts of a lab rat trying to escape while running around a maze or in a wheel. In an analogy to the modern city, many rats in a single maze expend a lot of effort running around, but ultimately¬†achieve nothing (meaningful) either collectively or individually.‚ÄĚ

Now, honestly, that definition is a bit too sensational.¬†For me, the rat race is completely and totally consuming… mind-wise, time-wise and focus-wise. In this model, we tend to focus on climbing the ladder and using the title / money equation as our measuring stick for success. We work long hours and look for the financial reward. And, if that is what success means to you and you are in corporate America, then you are in the right place. But it is a trap,¬†one that is very seductive and alluring.¬†We have become obsessed with material things, stuff, wealth and keeping up with the Joneses. America no longer makes anything, we have become a consumer economy… and what’s worse, it is funded by us going into debt! We have been programmed to want more and more stuff, Bigger is better… Live The American Dream! That dream is a nightmare for families. Our children don’t want more stuff… the stuff is a temporary fix to fill a hole that we are leaving. That is the irony. That lifestyle we are chasing to give our family bigger houses, nicer cars, more vacations is tearing apart the very fabric of our families, our communities, our nation. There is a word for this “American Dream” and we just coincidentally learned it this week while reading Henty’s The Young Carthaginian … cupidity.¬†

cupidity: eager or excessive desire, especially to possess something; greed.

cupidity 3

How much is enough?

What do you need to be happy? Our family keeps the Biblical feasts and each year for Sukkot (Feast of Booths), we camp out. Throughout this feast we discuss the ancient Israelites’ Exodus out of Egypt. We ask the boys if they were in a similar exodus could they take all their favorite things with them on their backs? No? How about in a wagon? Or an SUV? How about an 18 wheeler, would that fit it all? And we quickly realize how much stuff we have. ¬†But is the stuff a luxury or just extra baggage? How much do we need to be happy? How much is enough?¬†

What are we teaching our children by what we do?

If we tell our children that stuff is not important, yet we live in a cluttered house, full of stuff that we just can’t part with… are we sending a mixed message to our children? Do we just have to have the coolest, newest, latest techno-gadget? Do we need monster screen TVs so we can spend more time watching sports than being with our family? Our children are watching us and they learn from what we do, not what we say! Did you open the Bible this week? Once? Did your children see you praying? ¬†

What is the alternative to the Rat Race?

We have been introducing entrepreneurship into our homeschool for years now. The conversation has not been about money though. Rather we discuss the need to find what they love to do and create a business around it. How we hope to accomplish that is we introduce them to lots of experiences… things they might enjoy actually doing to earn a living. Their current list of opportunities they are exploring includes: photography, web design, photoshop, illustrator, homesteading, writing and blogging, farming, raising farm animals, refinishing furniture, and an online business. They have identified some things they don’t want to do for absolute sure, which is valuable insight too!

Do you want time to ponder? To create?

The one fact we constantly return to when discussing with our children their future lifestyles, relationships and careers is that THINGS can be traps. THINGS have to be maintained. Dusted. Cleaned. Protected. Insured. And there is a price you pay for each of those aspects. I wrote about this topic in another article, The Real Price of Stuff.  We have all become so accustomed to living the lifestyle of a rat chasing cheese that we have lost our ability to discern boundaries. Balance. We have lost our focus on people and relationships. We have forgotten the freedom of not being bound (enslaved) by debt.  

I know it is quite intoxicating to climb that ladder and use it as our measuring stick of success (especially when you are moving up). I owned a VERY successful and lucrative recruiting firm for technology employees. My clients included Disney, Hilton, International Paper, Williams Sonoma, Wal-Mart Corporate, Tyson Foods, just to name a few. I Get It. I lived it. However, I chose to homeschool and that choice had consequences. We are now in the process of dramatically downsizing our life (house, cars, clothes, farm, everything) to focus on our family, and our quality of life instead of chasing the money. And since our children are watching intently how we walk out this phase of our life, I pray we are sending a powerful message to them about where family, relationships, and friends rank in our life. One that they can learn from us without having to experience the same mistakes first-hand. 

downsizing upbeat

During this process I had to really explore what my own priorities were and discuss my decision with my husband. Did I want to return to the “drop my kids off corporate mom” or did I want to be a homeschool mom? I decided life is short and I want to spend all day, everyday with my children while they are still home. To limit the¬†outside influences like peer pressure and the entertainment industry.¬†To help them learn about the world and understand it through our system of values. That takes time. So, you see my rat race rebellion is really about prioritizing my time and choosing where I spend it. And in the process, teaching my children by my own actions. ¬†

One final thought… I am NOT encouraging our children to not work for Corporate America… but I AM suggesting they investigate all their options. And, if they choose to go into Corporate America, they will have my blessing, because they will have their eyes wide open and hopefully will have their priorities firmly intact. ¬†

Until Next Time…¬†

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I’m linking up with a few other blogs… New Life on a Homestead; A Mama’s Story;¬†

 

Discovery Park of America Review

Have you ever been to a museum, theater, or a science fair? I imagine everyone’s been to at least one of those. What do you get when you mix all of those together? Well, you get the Discovery Park of America! Last Friday, my family and I took a day off to visit this $80 million dollar facility located in Union City, Tennessee, very near the Kentucky border. That’s quite a drive from our home in La Grange, Tennessee, over two hours actually. But once we got there, the long drive was worth it!

DPOA1

When we got there, we were actually an hour ahead of our schedule, meaning we had a bit of free time before the first event began. So first, we explored the main building of the park. Honestly, I don’t know what I expected it to look like, but it couldn’t have been as cool as it looked in real life! When we first entered the huge building, the first thing I noticed was the enormous shark mouth right in front of the door. I recognized the sharp, finger-long teeth to be those of a Megalodon instantly. We actually found one on our North Carolina vacation a couple of years ago and I’ve been fascinated with them since then! Although I have seen several of these huge sharks’ mouths over the years, it never ceases to amaze me how big they get!

dpoa slideThe most popular attraction of the entire park was right behind the Megalodon teeth… it was a forty-eight foot metal statue, spanning the two uppermost floors of the Discovery Center. From atop the statue, you can see the lobby of the Center below, but that’s not all. Inside the statue’s head is a slide, that leads down the legs onto the second floor below! I have to tell you, being 14 years old, I don’t spend a ton of time on slides anymore, but this one was one really cool slide! My brother, Gage, took a video going down the slide. It was so much fun, I went down a second time and would have gone down again if we had enough time!!

 

 

helicopterOnce inside, I spent my hour in various places around the building. I began my tour at the aquarium section, a small but immensely diverse part of the park. It was also, quite possibly, one of the most popular parts of the park. There were fish, turtles, snakes, you name it. Across the room was the earthquake simulator, the native american exhibit, and the civil war artifacts. One of our favorite displays was the WWII exhibit. From tanks, to heli’s, to uniforms, to mines, they had it all. We loved seeing the WWII exhibit but the best part was the helicopter¬†(as you can tell from brother Gage’s smile in the picture). There, in the middle of the room, they had erected an actual helicopter. ¬†You could access the cargo hold, the cockpit, and other parts of the vehicle as well. We are in Civil Air Patrol and we all have a growing obsession with all things military and especially flight equipment!

After we had finished touring the WWII area, it was almost one o’clock, which was when the first event began. This event, which just happened to be the earthquake simulator mentioned earlier, was right next to the aquarium. Inside, was a widescreen TV, like a theater. But instead of chairs to sit in, there were rails. I continued to wonder how it worked right up until the movie began. Then, the floor began to vibrate and move around under my feet, as a clip of an earthquake began to play. Throughout the movie, I continued to feel the frequent rumbling, and the occasional spray of water as a wave crashed against the shore. That simulator was something else! I loved how the simulator made you feel like you were in the middle of the action, like you were the one experiencing the earthquake shown in the movie.

After we finished the earthquake simulator, we still had a bit of time to explore the rest of the park. Believe it or not, throughout the whole first part of our trip, I still hadn’t even visited the first floor! So now I took the time to enjoy all the exhibits on the first floor, a lot of which had something to do with natural history. I thoroughly enjoyed the rock and mineral exhibits! I’ve always had a fascination with geology, to the extent of filling up my bedroom with rocks and gems. As much as I would’ve wanted to have a few of these rocks on display in my room, I’m not sure they would fit! ¬†There were huge pieces of amethyst¬†in one of the exhibits that were almost seven feet tall! There were numerous other exhibits on the ground floor as well, such as a library, an automobile exhibit, prehistoric creatures, and more. I had just finished visiting all of these when it came time to go to the next event, The Interactive Starship Theater.

The theater itself looked like just that, a theater with an enlarged screen. But once you get a closer look, you’ll notice that there are controls on the arms of the chairs. These controls are how the players interact with the simulator. Throughout the simulation, there are five separate tasks that have to be completed by either the Engineers, Scientists, or Passengers. Of the thirty people in the simulator, eight people were chosen to be pilots. Against all odds, somehow all of us (well my two brothers and I) got a chance to be pilots. Several of the tasks included studying the sun, repairing a probe, and exploring the rest of the galaxy. We spent almost an hour in the simulator, performing the various tasks required to complete the mission. Eventually, the mission was completed and we finished exploring the galaxy. After we finished the simulator, it was almost three o’clock.

Glass ElevatorThat meant it was time for our final and possibly my favorite event, going to the top of The Tower.

The Tower juts twelve stories out of the roof above the central building, which is also known as the Discovery Center. We took the glass-walled elevator all the way to the top. I had an amazing view up there. I could see the whole park, a highway in the process of being made, and the ¬†landscape far beyond that. ¬†Almost just as impressive was the glass floor. It gives you a weird ¬†feeling, when there’s only three inches of glass separating you from safety and a long fall to the ground. But I really enjoyed it, going up there and getting to see so much of the land. ¬†I almost couldn’t leave when it was that time.

Glass Floor

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Discovery Park of America, it was an experience I won’t soon forget. I highly recommend you plan a trip to the Discovery Park of America! But try to make it a weekend visit! There was so much more to see and do that we didn’t have time to experience… Things like:

  • a tree maze
  • a grist¬†mill
  • a train depot
  • a restored century-old chapel
  • and even more!

Oh well, that gives me something to look forward to when we visit next time!

Discovery Park of America

The Real Price of Stuff

This article is part of the Just 18 Summers series. A series where we examine how quickly time is evaporating. ¬†Where we start to adjust our lives to take advantage of the precious little time we have left with our children. Along those lines, I want to challenge you to evaluate what the real price of stuff is and determine if it is worth it. ¬†You see, every single item we have has a price tag on it. ¬†Not just the price we paid for it that we won’t ever recoup, but a price that goes along with taking care of¬†it, cleaning¬†it, storing¬†it, and protecting¬†it. ¬†And what is worse, that price paid comes at a cost to something else, somewhere else. This is a zero-sum game.

Just 18 summers

 

Price Plus Time

The various phases of life brings with them different priorities. We have a huge home that was bought in a different season of our lives and it sits on 40-some-odd acres in a picture perfect postcard setting of rural America. Besides the house and land, on it sits a barn almost as big as our house, a white picket fence around the pool in the backyard,¬†and a steel gate out front to protect it all. And that same house is filled to the brim with stuff. Not to mention how full the barn is. What is the cost of it all? Once you realize all your extra time, money and energy is spent maintaining it, cleaning it, mowing it, painting it, renovating it and generally fussing with it, ¬†you quickly come to the realization … this price is just too high to pay.

Price Plus More Money

Maintaining a home this size with all the associated stuff costs a lot of money… money that could be better spent. In ways that build relationships and create memories. Maybe taking trips, especially going back home to visit my siblings in North Carolina. Family my children don’t really know because we haven’t been home in a while. Or even traveling to sites to learn about history and bring to life the places we are studying. Making memories. Connecting. Seeing. Doing. Yet, when you have no money left over to spend on the things you love to do, you realize the cost of this stuff is just too expensive.

Price Plus Energy

Not only is every minute and every dollar spent maintaining the stuff in, around and associated with this size home… but every ounce of energy (especially on the weekends) is spent maintaining this beautiful monster and all its sirens. Every weekend it is all hands on deck. It takes all of us to get it done. And yet there are still things not completed. Some, not even started. Some we don’t even realize they need doing until something else crops up! ¬†And when you realize you have no energy left to do the things you love doing, you know the cost is too high.

Just 18 Summers

The Real Price of Stuff

Which brings us to the core problem and the real price of stuff … we have become slaves shackled to a beautiful monster that is extremely exacting. A beautiful monster who becomes more needy every day.¬†When you are looking at your stuff and you suddenly realize you have to sacrifice what precious little time you have with your family, unable to do the things you love and want to do, to be able to afford to take care of it and maintain it… then you know in your heart the price is too high and it’s time to make dramatic changes.

You’ve heard the adage… time is money. However, ¬†in reality, time is so much more than money. Time is a fleeting commodity. More money can always be made or earned, however, more time cannot be bought! Therefore, we are choosing to spend this commodity more wisely! ¬†The Real Price of this lifestyle is just a price we are not willing to pay.

We are starting a dramatic shift in lifestyle, in focus, in purpose… Join us as we navigate this unfamiliar territory!

Until next time….

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If you are curious what led us to even start this evaluation process, be sure to read the first article in this series. 

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