The Weekly Ramble 3/16/24

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Finding contentment and working toward routine…

overhead shot of a salad with eggs and vegetables, with a side of sliced bread.

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As much as I struggled with boredom/lack of motivation in my diehard stay-at-home days, I now crave those kind of days more than ever. I guess I never realized how much I was suited to this life when I was in the thick of it.

Funny how that is.

Bryan and I have been talking about the future this month, in a different way than we have in the past. Our topic? The future of my days. As you may remember, my days as a homeschool mom are numbered.

In 805 days, this FishBaby will be all done with high school. What shall I do afterward?

Since our rent doubled last fall and my income has decreased dramatically, the path forward has become less clear than it was. Money is tighter in this season.

With a Master’s degree and 18 years in freelance writing and internet marketing, I could get a full-time job away from home. Cave-dweller that I am, it’s not my first choice, but I’m willing to do what it takes for the team.

bryan driving the convertible with palm trees and sunset in the background.

Bless my husband, he’s said some very encouraging things in these discussions. Seriously. I married up, to be sure. I paraphrase…

— God has provided for us through your work and it’s been amazing. He will continue to provide. It may look different going forward, and that’s okay.

— You have done the best and hardest thing in raising our kids. If you never did another thing, I would consider your job complete.

— You’ve worked really hard for a long time. It’s okay if you didn’t work so hard.

So, while I don’t know what the future holds, I’m thankful for a God who does. He has provided in lots of ways I couldn’t imagine and I’m looking forward to seeing what He does in this next season.

I’m also thankful for Bryan that he has eyes to see what doesn’t come as first nature to me.

While waiting for the next season to unfold, I’m focused on being faithful to what I know are good things to do now, things God would call me to.

Sharpening Our Frugal Chops

We know God uses means to bring about His will, so sharpening our frugal chops is one of the things we’re both working on.

It’s not that we let them go, but we certainly relaxed since these days. In fact, it’s probably time to update that post with some things that we’re currently doing.

It’s funny how we approach it differently, Bryan and I. He gets fixated on car and media, while I’m all about the food and aesthetics. lol.

Here are some ways we saved this week:

  • While I’m currently trying to do a pantry challenge thanks to my new changes in eating habits, I will still grab a killer deal when I see one, like boxed stuffing for 25 cents a box. The stuffing boxes are good until 2025, so I’ll use them up in time — and pay 1/20th what the store will be charging at the holidays. This stuffing recipe is so good. I think I can also use it in meatballs, meatloaf, and for breading. I should probably start experimenting!
  • We still drive older, bought-used cars, and Bryan still does our repairs. In the last month he has repaired various sensors and doodahs, replaced rotors, rotated tires, and changed the oil on most of them. It’s so much cheaper to do it yourself! He also did a paint repair on a fender. While it does cost him time, he gets a good sense of accomplishment from it and has saved us at least $1000 over the last few weeks.
  • Bryan also keeps tabs on our data plans. Last month our deal expired so he was quick to get on the phone and negotiate. Cox is the only supplier in our neighborhood so there’s not a lot to threaten them with. We got rid of the landline that we weren’t using in order to keep the rate low. However, we’ve had some weird fluctuations in our data usage. The overage charges are ridiculous so we try not to go there. There were three days that we can’t explain unusually high usage. So, he’s investigating to find the leak.
  • I had some Starbucks stars that were stacking up. Since they changed their point system last year, I’ve found that trading in stars for merch is the best value. I don’t think people know, but you can trade 400 stars (the equivalent of 2 drinks) for merchandise that’s more than $20. To me that’s more valuable than the coffee drinks (which I can make at home) and/or don’t fit my new hearty healthy ways. ❤️ So… this week, I traded in stars for these reusable hot cups. In the new house I don’t allow anyone to take food or drink upstairs, lest the carpet become too shabby before we ever move. I bought one set of these cups last fall, but with boys taking them to school and work and someone building a collection on her desk in the school room, we were running short on a daily basis. This new, free-to-me set is a great frugal addition to my kitchen…. and school room apparently. 😊
  • I have been making Bryan work lunches for over 25 years. At first I did it every night or morning before he went to work, then I did a weekly lunchtime meal prep. Then a few years ago, he realized he’d rather just have a burrito. So, I make big batches of freezer burritos, with all kinds of fillings. He takes a bag to work and stashes it in the freezer there. When he runs out, I make more. This week I made 32 burritos, 24 ear-marked for him, the other 8 for the boys. The boys’ stash is already gone! They also pack other things for lunch and school. This saves us and them a ton of money each year. And Bryan seriously never gets bored of his lunch.
array of post-it notes with clipboard and to do list and pens.

Routines & Good Things

In other news, I’m just looking to establish more routine. This past week was full of appointments and carting kids places. I got to the gym a few times, but there were loads of interruptions and last-minute things that needed attention the rest of the day.

I’m reworking my Ideal Week, but it’s definitely a work in progress.

Years ago I remember a fellow mom of many telling me, “It’s gonna take as long as it’s gonna take.” I remember that again and again.

No, the days don’t always obey, and routine is fleeting. Still the days are good.

Bryan and I go to Hawaii in a month – just the two of us! It’s the first time in 17 years that we’ll have been gone for more than a couple nights. The last three trips we’ve planned were canceled due to illness or the world, so I’m hoping this happens.

The next four weeks will be packed.

  • Week 1 – The College Boys have spring break, so they are off to see our eldest and his wife in Sacramento.
  • Week 2 – The girls have spring break and I’m hoping we do some fun things, and then there’s Easter.
  • Week 3 – Everyone is back to school and we prep a few more of us for travel.
  • Week 4 – FishChick17 goes on a church missions trip to South America.
  • Week 5 – Off to Hawaii!

There’s a lot to do to prep this next month. I’ll share more soon!

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