Mountainous Marriages

This isn’t Easy Street, folks!

On the hottest day of the summer in the year 2000, I walked the aisle of my home church to enter into a covenant with the one I loved. I’m so thankful that we made that commitment before hundreds of people and that we chose to tie the knot securely in Christ. But let me tell you, it hasn’t been all peaches and cream since then.

The road of marriage is not a smooth paved path lined with shade trees and lemonade stands. (The honeymoon may have been like that, but then reality hit.) A more accurate picture of marriage is a narrow, rutted trail up the mountain where the path takes you along sharp rock walls and steep crevices, near rushing waterfalls and through barren peaks.

Every marriage has its ups and downs. How could it not? Two less-than-perfect people under the same roof… Nothing further has to be explained. But if we take a moment to visualize marriage as an adventure of mountain climbing with a trusted partner, we can be encouraged for the journey.

Know this, fellow climber:

  1. There will be times of carefree hiking and gentle breezes along the way. Enjoy those moments!
  2. It helps to learn to adapt to and appreciate the changes along the path. Look for what God would have you learn when you’re on the difficult parts of the climb.
  3. Mountain climbing must be done in tandem. You and your spouse must stay close to one another to safely climb, especially on the difficult parts. Make spending time together a priority!
  4. The climbing, though exhausting at times, strengthens your muscles. Both your spiritual and your relational muscles. It’s hard work. It’s tiring. But it’s worth it!
  5. While some points on the journey will be monotonous, they are still important parts of the climb. Persevere!
  6. If you look up ahead of you, you’ll see other climbers that have successfully navigated through the rough spots. Get advice and encouragement from them. Find friends and mentors to share with. Honestly.
  7. When the journey is over, it will have been worth it.

Marriage is not like a stroll down Easy Street. It’s more like a mountainous adventure.  “Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and climbing and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us… Keep track of those you see climbing this same mountain, headed for this same goal. There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them…  All they want is easy street…”

Not us. We want a successful climb to the heights. We want a marriage that matters! So join me. Tighten the laces on your boots, wipe off the sweat, and continue to invest amazing amounts of energy in your marriage. Be in it for the long haul! There will be some breath-taking views on this climb… both scary and beautiful…but as you keep looking forward and upward you’ll be given the strength you need to make the marriage climb with your partner an incredible success!

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 (Scripture in quotation is adapted from The Message, Philippians 3)

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Feasting on Fowl and Foul Breath

Tis the season for celebrating and merry-making. With the holidays just around the corner, there will be times of feasting ahead, and also times when the overabundance of food and the overabundance of time in the company of others necessitates a bit of breath odor control. You know what I mean… too much time between brushing and not enough space between friends.

Here are some recipes for those holiday leftovers and a few breath saving instructions. Are you ready? Well, even if you aren’t, your family and friends may be! So here it goes.

Holiday Leftovers (for chicken or turkey meat)

Turkey Salad

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl.

2 T. lemon juice

¾ c. mayo

1 T. Dijon mustard

1 t. salt

½ t. pepper

Add the remaining ingredients, diced or chopped.

2-3 celery ribs, diced

1 c. pecan, toasted and chopped

2-3 T. onion, finely chopped

2 c. halved grapes

4 c. (2lb.) diced, cooked turkey

Toss all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Great on bread or dinner rolls or served with crackers.

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Creamy Crockpot Turkey Spaghetti

1 lb. cubed, cooked turkey

½ t. salt

¼ t. pepper

¼ t. garlic powder

3 jars pasta sauce (26 oz)

1 lb. spaghetti noodles

½ c. Parmesan cheese

4 oz. cream cheese

1 – 2 c. chicken broth

Pour one jar of pasta sauce into bottom of crock pot on high heat. Break spaghetti noodles in half and place noodles over sauce. Dump leftover turkey over noodles, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with cubes of cream cheese. Pour another jar of pasta over cream cheese.

Close lid and let cook on high for 3 hours. After 3 hours, give a good stir (will be thick) and add last jar of pasta sauce and 1-2 cups of chicken broth (more if you want a thinner sauce). Close lid and let cook another hour or until ready to serve. (Makes 10-12 servings)

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And you can’t have spaghetti without garlic toast, right? So here it is!

Garlic Toast

Mix the following ingredients in a bowl.

5 T. butter (or palm oil) – softened

2 t. olive oil

3 cloves of garlic (or ½ t. garlic powder)

½ t. oregano

¼ t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

Spread on the top of 10 slices of bread or leftover dinner rolls, open faced. Put on a baking sheet. Broil for about 5 minutes. Delicious!

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And now, the moment that you’ve been waiting for… the one that will take your breath away (at least, we hope it will!):

 
Breath Saving Instructions

Breath Freshener

In a bottle, mix:

2T vinegar, 1T sea salt, and 1c water.

Shake, gargle and rinse. Enjoy fresh breath!

This recipe, from the Jan/Feb 2013 edition of Mother Earth Living, should be used to ‘eliminate onion and garlic odors’. (Appropriate placement for this recipe, right?)

From the book Worst-Case Scenario, here are a few more ways to keep your breath from offending your party partners.

  • Chew gum or mints.

This will get your saliva flowing and will keep bad breath at bay for an hour or more. Chewing for more than a few minutes is not necessary.

  • Chew parsley, mint, or a cinnamon stick.

These are common garnishes. Parsley and fresh mint leaves are natural breath fresheners and a cinnamon stick, if chewed, will also clean your breath; do not use ground or powdered cinnamon.

  • Eat a salad or some fresh carrots.

Coarse foods can help clean the tongue, a major source of bad breath. So chew on some crunchy lettuce or carrots.

And of course, brushing, flossing and even tongue scrapping before bed is a big help, too. But then, you already knew that, didn’t you?

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May your feasting on fowl this weekend be fabulous,

and your breath free of foul odor!

Dollar Discretion

                When my husband and I married, we were both working full time. But before our first child was born, I resigned from my position and we went from a DINK (double-income-no-kid) scenario to a single-income family. Then our baby was born. Then we had two children. And then three. Then four. Then number five came along. All this in six short years. And so, to be honest, that gave me a bit of a head start on the journey toward economic shrewdness.

But a year and a half ago we entered a new financial stage – living on a smaller budget than ever before. While I did find added ways to be savvy, I must tell you that it wasn’t easy or fun. (Just being honest!)

Today, I thought I’d share some of the money saving tips that we’ve used and benefited from. If you find one or two that can help you and your family pinch pennies, I’ll be just tickled!

Money savings tips

  • Eliminate as many paper products as you can. (Yep – not easy.) Use cloth napkins instead of paper, handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex, glass or plastic rather than paper plates. (The kids thought it was just great, though. Their own special napkin?! A hankie just for them?!)
  • Wash and dry dishes by hand. It saves on dish washer detergent costs, as well as the electric and water bill. (I got used to it. Kind of.)
  • Be conscience of the number of lights you have on and appliances left plugged in even when not in use. (My husband will tell you that this is one I greatly struggle with… I like lights. I like it bright. I think I’ve improved but I still need to work on this.)
  • Cut back on the amount of meat eaten in a meal and/or the number of times you eat meat weekly. Serve smaller portions. Don’t offer a meat dish every evening. Use other sources of protein- replace with beans, nuts, or eggs. (Ask your vegetarian friends for delicious recipes and tips here. They’re a huge help!)
  • Serve sandwiches open-faced (on one slice of bread… a sandwich without a top).
  • Buy in bulk. (Oats, for example – https://reflectionsofahomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/granola-to-go/ orhttps://reflectionsofahomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/porridge-for-the-poor-turned-baked-oatmeal-extraordinaire/ )
  • Make your own cleaning ingredients. Laundry detergent is simple and inexpensive. You can either skip the fabric softener or use distilled white vinegar. (See https://reflectionsofahomemaker.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/laundry-wash-on-monday-she-said/ for a recipe)
  • Line dry rather than using the clothes dryer. Retractable line can be installed near your back door or a line can be hung inside your home. (Indoor line drying also adds humidity to your home – a real bonus in the winter months!)
  • Drink more water and less of all other liquids.
  • Quit buying easy foods… such as frozen potatoes (fries, hash browns, etc). Instead, peel, bake, cook, or fry your own. It will take a few more minutes but will save you $ and will be healthier for you and your family. Cut back (or eliminate – gasp!) chips, trail mixes, boxed rice dishes, etc.
  • Make soup a part of your regular menu. Use leftovers. (Check out a recipe here https://reflectionsofahomemaker.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/soups-on/)
  • Eliminate your garbage service. (This took a bit of getting used to!) Learn to shop wiser, recycle what you can, compost, etc.
  • To save gas, cut out needless trips and combine those that are necessary. Make several stops on the same day, planned out in order of your stops by the best route… careful to schedule at the best time as well. When will it be less busy at the grocery store? When will the kids be at their best for the errands?
  • Buy local, fresh, and in season.
  • Be willing to ask if you can trade or barter for services. (I’ve gotten my haircut in exchange for a meal. Yard work was exchanged for some grocery money. I was hesitant to ask at first… but it was worth it!)
  • Pay medical bills in cash. You can often get a discount for doing so.
  • Find free or low cost entertainment options. Check out DVDs from the library. Go to concerts at colleges or churches. Invite friends over for a game night.
  • Rethink what’s necessary. It IS possible to go for months without syran wrap, aluminum foil, plastic baggies, etc. In fact, it’s more earth friendly to go without too!
  • Distinguish between needs and wants. Then find free or used or up cycled items rather than buying new – get scrap paper from a local business or print shop for art projects/drawing, find old discarded magazines from doctors offices and libraries, shop at yard sales or second hand stores, ask for items as gifts, recreate the use of the old TV stand or piano or end table. Get creative!

I’m still learning new ways to save financially. There are excellent resources online to glean from. One I recently came across is www.moneysavingmom.com. {Money Saving Mom – helping you be a better home economist} You’ll find deals & steals, coupons, freebies & giveaways, living simply tips, and more.  Look for fabulous free downloads. Search out the Family, Fun & Holidays category – an awfully timely one to peruse. You’ll be inspired!

My goal is that no matter where we are financially, I will stick with the changes we’ve made. Many of them are flat out BETTER. Not easier, but better. I don’t want to fall back into my old habits of “just living.” Maybe you’ll find that to be true, too.

An Expensive Day

Toddler’s Reign of Terror Costs $2,300 in Repairs

A friend of mine recently posted a picture of crayon scribbling on the seat of their living room sofa with the tag line “yep, we’re officially in the toddler years…”. It reminded me of this Associated Press story datelined Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is a humorous, true-life story and it puts ‘crayon on the couch’ in perspective.

     At age 2, Robin Hawkins already is a home wrecker. When she is old enough to ask for an allowance, her father intends to show her a bill for almost $2,300 worth of family belongings she has destroyed in a two-month rampage. pout

     It all started when Alice the Cat went down the drain. “I heard her saying, ‘Bye-bye, fluff-fluff, bye-bye,’” her father, Rowlf Hawkins, said Tuesday. “I ran into the bathroom just in time to watch Alice the Cat go down the toilet.” Cost: $2.50 for the stuffed animal and $62.75 for the plumber.

     One week later, Teddy Bear was placed in the dishwasher—on top of the heating element. Cost: $8 for Teddy Bear, $25 for smoke damage done to the kitchen and $375 for the dishwasher.

     When the Hawkinses returned from a weekend trip, they opened the refrigerator and everything inside it was warm. The repairman found little magnetic letters in the vents. Cost: $3.50 for the magnetic letters, $120 for the ruined food and $310 for the refrigerator.

     “That evening, we sat down to watch TV. When I turned it on, everything was green,” Hawkins said. “Robin had twisted the fine tune so far that it broke inside.” Cost: $115 to repair the television.

     The next day, Robin’s mother, Bernie, went to pick up her husband at work. Robin was sleeping in her safety seat, so Mrs. Hawkins decided to leave her while she ran in to get him. She put the keys in her purse and left the purse in the car. Robin drove the car about 400 feet before running into a tree. Cost: $1,029.52 to repair the car.

     When the Hawkinses returned from grocery shopping one afternoon, they parked the car halfway in the garage and decided to keep Robin strapped in her safety seat while they unloaded the groceries. Then they heard a loud, grinding noise.

     Robin had locked herself in the car and was pushing the control button to the electric garage door and bouncing it off the hood of the car. [i]

Okay. Stop! I can’t take it anymore!! All of that in TWO months??? Thank goodness I cannot top that story! I hope you can’t either!!

My 5th child just turned 5 years old and while we’re officially through the toddler stage, we still have some interesting episodes now and again. That’s just part of raising kids, right? After reading the above article, I hope your latest experiences in the trenches of motherhood seem a little less dramatic…

flourYes, it happened to you. The writing on the couch, the wall, the table. Glasses in the garbage. A stray diaper in the washing machine. Pages torn from that favorite book. It happened. And it might happen again. But one of these days, it WILL be over. No stage lasts forever.

And when you get through it and are able to reflect back on the toddler years in your home, you will smile, laugh, and rejoice. You WILL survive!! The days sometimes seem oh-so-long, but the years go by quickly (in retrospect). You WILL make it through the toddler stage,

and before you know it you’ll be headed straight into the teen years.

Nooooooo!

So while they’re still toddling around, capture the memories – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the adorable. Write down those hilarious sayings. Snap a few more pictures. Snuggle for a few more stories together. And share your joys and frustrations with another Momma. At least you’re not trying to raise Robin Hawkins!

Don’t walk this path alone.

Link up.

A single stick can be broken by a child but a bundle of sticks is strong!

{AP story copied from [1] Rainey, Dennis. The Tribute (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishes, 1994), 72-73.}