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Thursday, August 30, 2012

School Expenses - Finance Friday




Back to school is one of my favorite times of the year. I love summer but I can't live in summer.
I need routine. I need rhythm.
I also need my kids to go somewhere else sometimes.

Back to school season is also very, very costly.

Here's a list of real expenses we've faced in just the last month:

Hair cuts* Supplies Shoes Clothes Book fees* Bus passes* Lunch money* Registration fees*
Activity fees* Dry cleaning fees* Instrument reeds Lab tech fees* Gym shirt Band shirt Football shirt School pictures*
Football pictures* Soccer pictures* Soccer registration
Soccer shoes Shin guards Swimming registration Swim suit
Team fundraisers*

and because we have a senior we've just ordered graduation announcements and her cap and gown.

It's. Been. Stressful.

I understand that opportunities, experiences and extra curricular activities come at a cost. The price, I argue, is too much for more families than you would think. I realize that our Tribe's current financial situation causes me to be acutely sensitive in this area but ... c'mon! Isn't that an excessive list?

I've sat at my kitchen table night after night in the last few weeks filling out order forms for this team, for that social club and for that required piece of equipment writing check after check.

Bounce much?

Now, the argument begs to be made - if you can't afford football shoes and a team shirt that you can't play football.

And I would agree.

But my rub is this .... it's my financial situation that can't fund football, not my son's. Why should he miss out on the opportunity because my three jobs aren't enough for extra curricular activities?

But that's just silly sports you say?
You're right.
But it is also an opportunity to be a part of a team. To learn leadership skills. To learn life lessons about playing together, trying hard and (maybe) taste the sweet nectar of victory. He'll also learn how to deal with defeat, perhaps an even more important life skill. Playing football means he must be organized and responsible to balance school work as well as the opportunity to be active and exercise.

Or he could sit in front of his video game system and play from the couch.

What about band?
I have a saxophone and trombone player. Both received free instruments from generous grandparents & family friends but they need equipment, music, black shoes, t-shirt and a dry cleaning fee to undo what a year of junior high hormone swings does to the uniforms.

Spanish club?
Swim Team?

Each of these opportunities are extra curricular.
Extra.
A choice.
But how can I choose to refuse the opportunities that build my child's mind, body and spirit?
So...
I don't.
I don't say "No!".
Maybe I should. But despite the stress these events cause I allow my kids to participate in one extra curricular activity each. It's not their fault we are still climbing our way out of this financial downturn. So I let them play, march and practice.

In order to do that we
bought shoes at a garage sale,
use hand-me-down equipment whenever possible,
skipped school pictures this year
and count the change in the junk drawer for extra milk money.

By no means do I think these things should be free.
And if I could afford all of it this whole blog would be a non issue for me.
But that's the thing ... it is my issue.
It's a reality.
I know I can't be the only mother out there who is working her tail off and still falling short. And if I'm not alone why do I feel like I am? Why aren't we talking about this more?

COMMENTS WELCOME: How do you deal with Back-to-School expenses? Have you had to be creative in coming up with the money for sports or other extra curricular activities?

It's Finance Friday on my blog. The day of the week I dedicate to documenting our current bout living with a salary that falls below the poverty line. I appreciate you reading this. There are more blogs in the world than ever, the fact that you took the time to read mine ... I thank you! xo Stephanie
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's My Party

Actually it was the twin's party. They turn 8 years old and we celebrated by inviting a few girlfriends over for a 'Spa-themed' Party.

This party was the fourth gathering I've hosted in my home over the last four weeks.
I'm a little partied-out.
There is a reason Christmas isn't everyday.
We are not wired to party all the time.

Don't get me wrong! I like a party! I mean that's obvious right? I've agreed and willingly thrown a different party every week for four consecutive weeks.

Why?
Because, a party makes people happy.
A party means we pause from the work and responsibilities of life to celebrate.
A party frees me up to laugh.
A party is setting aside time I could be doing a million more productive things.
A party says this person or this accomplishment deserves my attention more than anything else at the moment.
A party is worth throwing!

Celebrate the lives of my daughters! You betcha I'll do that!
Throw a dinner party for a few deserving moms? Yep I'll do that too!
Invite 25 high school kids to a cookout in order to develop team unity? Ok!

Just like we are not made to work without rest I dare believe we need to take the time for celebrations.

So as you take a peek at my favorite snapshots from the girls' party (that I threw on a ridiculously low budget ... details coming soon) I invite you to consider how you can:

1. make the time to celebrate and
2. even create an opportunity to gather your loved ones or perhaps even some neighbors who may be longing for a fellowship





- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to School Traditions

On the first day of school I did what every other mother on
Facebook
Twitter
and Instagram did ....
I took the annual "Back to School" photo.
Our regular shot?
The piano.
That way we can watch the kids grow taller over the years.
Here's my Tribe....
























But we also have one other Back to School tradition in our home.... on the eve of the first day of school my husband prays for each of our children and this year I wasn't so sure our oldest would be ok with it. I mean, let's be honest, praying isn't the coolest thing to do especially when you are a teenager on the brink of your senior year. Pausing for a spiritual moment is probably like social status suicide.

But she did.

The little girls also welcomed dad's tradition. In fact, they crawled up in his lap and snuggled as he asked for favor, health and blessings. My heart fluttered a bit at their beautiful innocence.

The boys, well I wasn't sure how that was going to go. Would they snicker at our tradition? Scoff when Dad spoke gently over them with encouraging words? I mean it is junior high. They can't hardly be bothered to carry on much of a conversation with their embarrassing parents let alone be seen with us.

But look. Before sending them off to school Daddy drew them into his embrace and rather than refuse ... they let him.



Notice both boys still have their hands in their pockets. They didn't return the hug by any means and yet it was such a tender moment as they yielded to their father.












Our children have a lot to deal with. They are choosing everyday whether or not to listen to teachers, follow rules and apply themselves.




They are choosing friends and exploring activities and social clubs that are interesting to them. These decisions are laying the foundations by which they will build the rest of their lives.




I can't make them good students.




I can't pick their friends.




All I can do is guide them in the best way that I know how.




That's why prayer is one of our Back to School traditions.



I may have chosen to snap these photos rather than participate in the moment but make no mistake;

I am eternally grateful for each and every one of my children.

And any help from above I can get ... I welcome it.




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
What about your family? Do you have any unique Back to School traditions?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back to School

(This article appears as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting column in The Daily Review Atlas)


Hark! The school bells ring beckoning children to return to it's hallowed halls like the Pied Piper of academia. Look! The backpacks are stuffed with disinfectant wipes and crisp notebooks. Hear! The impeding shuffle of squeaky, new tennis shoes worn by children with fresh haircuts. See! The remnants of summer lingering on their sun kissed noses.

While it is - for some - the most wonderful time of the year, many parents loathe back to school season. You know the ones who linger a smidge too long hiding their tears as they kiss their children goodbye. While some stand crying in the kindergarten classroom others weep as they pull away from a new dormitory where they've left their baby (and their wallet) behind.

Whether you embrace this time of year or not, the reality is that this new school year is the marking of a brand new season. The beauty of August is that it faithfully brings a new opportunity for a fresh slate. And not just for students! Adults and children alike can make small seemingly insignificant steps today to ensure the year is a successful learning adventure for everyone involved.

We all understand that what we learned in kindergarten became a foundation for what would learn in the first grade. And first grade skills became the scaffolding by which we applied future information. In fact, each year is a preparation for what will come next.

That is why it is imperative that families place a value on each and every grade level of their child. Don't despise preschool show and tell for it is laying the ground work for that high school speech class. Practice those times tables today because Algebra is just around the corner. And tempted as you are mom and dad, don't complete that science fair project for your child. They need to learn how to do research, come to conclusions and work with deadlines. How else will they ever become successful in the marketplace?

Secondly, make a point to communicate with your child's teachers from the very beginning. Often parents fear they are a bother to busy educators but nothing could be further from the truth. Good teachers want to partner with you in your child's education experience. Chances are they will vigorously welcome an open line of communication between the classroom and your home. Be proactive! Offer to volunteer or simply send a short note of appreciation for the work and time that teachers spend investing in your child. You may be amazed how much a positive relationship with your child's teacher affects an entire school year.

And finally, do not underestimate the power of a good night's sleep. Experts disagree over the exact reasons why our bodies need a daily shut down but one theory states that it is for the brain's benefit. Perhaps all the data our mind has received throughout the course of a day needs to be organized and filed in our great cerebral cortex. If that's true then sleep is imperative for school age children. Encourage healthy bedtime routines including eliminating all forms of digital stimuli. Collect the phones and internet devices every night if you must because strictly enforcing healthy sleeping habits are an essential to a healthy, long life. 

As a mother of five children I know first hand what its like to hide my own tears so I can comfort my wailing, clinging child. I've walked the fine line between being an aware parent and a helicopter mom. I know personally how scary it can be to reach out to a teacher for help on behalf of my child.

But we must get beyond ourselves, our fears and our bad experiences and remember it is for our children's future that we offer them our support. This is the start of a brand new year. We can embrace the freshness or wallow in our grief for the time that has passed. Embrace this new season and make it the best year yet! Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! That's why!

Stephanie Sikorski is a Parenting Educator for the Monmouth-Roseville CUSD #238 and can be reached at ssikorski@mr238.org.


if enjoyed this article please 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Children & Choices


Children absolutely need to exercise their right to make their own choices. But as a parent, I have the privilege, nay! the responsibility, of limiting the choices made available to them. If left to their own devices I am not only certain my children would choose poorly, I think their brain would turn to mush and their teeth would literally rot out of their head.

     For example, look at my kids eating habits. If given the choice, my children would choose junk food and refuse vegetables at all costs. They would never try anything new and subsequently miss out on the delicious joy of eating banana cake.

     Also, my kids would fancy staying up ridiculously late, therefore waking up tired and subsequently under perform at school. I am certain sleep deprivation would lead to discipline issues as well. That’s no good ... for me. If I let my tribe choose their own bedtime I would be perpetually dispensing discipline like the gum ball machine at the video store.

     And speaking of video, my kids would always choose to play video games before doing their homework and worse I fear, have spent so much time with their noses to the screen that they would have never discovered the joy of reading and experience the pleasure of getting lost in a story.

     Also, my children are couch potatoes. They sit so still sometimes I fear rigor mortis will set in and they will miss out on long bike rides and neighborhood games of flashlight tag.

     I'm not exaggerating when I say kids would never go anywhere. They balk and fuss every time I take them on an adventure or we explore a new activity. However, it usually turns out I’m right and we have loads of fun. Ironic isn’t it then that they would complain when it’s time to leave? They don’t ever want to go somewhere new, but I make them and then they never want to leave.

     And forget about brushing their teeth or hair. It seems the only child of mine to have any awareness of personal hygiene is my teenage daughter. If I didn’t make my younger kids brush their teeth I’m pretty sure they would be the only children on the planet with dentures.

     My kids would also smell like farm animals. They hate to wash their hands and they loathe getting in the shower. Getting them to use soap AND water is a miraculous feat of which I deserve some sort of trophy. Actually, I’ll just take a discount on my water bill. (Could someone let the city water department know?)

     Then there is their bedrooms. If left to their own demise my children would live in a pigsty. Now when my mother said that phrase it was a bit figurative. I mean it literally. Recently when I asked my kids to clean out their room they removed bags, yep plural, bags of trash.

     Surely my children are not the only ones who would make a complete muck up of their life if I let them. Wouldn't you agree children cannot be left to wholly supervise themselves? As parents it is our job to say no, limit screen time, offer new foods, explore new places and teach our children how to make good use of their time.

     I could see, however, why some parents believe that it is easier to just let kids decide everything. While it is better for my blood pressure if we don’t argue about bedtimes and homework, I predict it is only short-term relief. In my opinion, kids who are given too much freedom are not equipped to survive and thrive in the long run.

     When the day comes for my little birds to leave the nest I’d like to feel hopeful that I’ve given them the tools they’ll need to be safe, secure and successful. I want them to know how to get a good night’s sleep and enjoy eating nutritiously. I want them to believe it’s beautiful to try new things. They need to value their own and other people’s property. I want them to know how to present themselves with confidence. I hope they are brave enough to take a risk and travel the world if they wish.

     I believe the foundations for these characteristics are being established in our home right now. So today I make some choices for them. I choose bedtimes, I enforce work-before-play attitudes and limit computer time. For the day will come when they must choose for themselves.
How do I know?
Because I’m the mom and I said so! That’s how!




Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Revisiting the 1st Day of Kindergarten



I found this entry from the twin's first day of school ... four years ago! Today, and in honor of the first day of 3rd grade, I post it for you to enjoy!
(excuse me while I go grab a tissue!)



9/6/09 My twins are absolutely thrilled to be in Kindergarten.

Well mostly Isabel (she tells me she's using her grown up name now - being in Kindergarten and all - please don't refer to her as Bell). The twins are in two different classrooms and that, let me tell ya, is just brilliant!!
While a part of my heart was torn for the two little girls who've barely been separated since birth, I knew deep down that they needed the chance to grow independent of each other.  While this may be twice the work for me - 2 simultaneous Halloween parties, 2 folders to keep track of, the library books . . . . . well, I know both Abby and Bell will get a chance to be themselves, not half of their sister.

So... Bell, gives hugs and kisses and she's off. No lingering, no long goodbyes she is ready to go learn. She told me her teacher said when she .. "uses her eyes and ears she's learning!" and this fact thrills her to the bottom of her soul, let me tell ya!

Abby, on the other hand, is a bit more slow to adapt. She does well in her own environment, she is completely comfortable telling Bell and her other siblings what to do. But she's expressed deep concern about not being in the same room as Bell. In fact, after settling Bell in her kindergarten class I walked across the hall to check on Abby and her  first words were, "How's Bell doing?". Again, it hurts but I know it's good.

In the second week of school all kindergarten learned about the color RED. Bell colored red papers, Abby was to bring in something red to share.
Abby went to her favorites.
Can you guess what that was?
Her animals. Abby loves Chinka (the very, very loved cat)
((formerly big sister Halee's lovey, then called Maria))
and every other Beanie Baby and stuffed animal she can collect. She genuinely loves them all, no matter if it's from a Happy Meal or the toy store.

So it's red day and Abby chooses a small, stuffed Clifford - the infamous big, red dog.

Clifford gets a special spot in the backpack. The zipper stays cracked so he can breathe. It's a whole ordeal taking this poor puppy to school. I am pleased however, that she is finally showing some interest in what is going on in her classroom as opposed to what Bell's class is doing.

That afternoon I pick up Abby anticipating her excitement regarding her red show and tell. But Abby's in tears. You see, the teacher is collecting red things through the whole week and he's asked Abby to leave Clifford in the classroom. Abby is devastated. Clifford can't be left alone, she cries, "He'll be scared, Mom". She buries her face in my leg and holds on with all her might. My heart breaks for her. She was so excited and is now so disillusioned - I know how she feels.

We made it through the night and learned the next morning that Clifford survived too.

And now this week they are learning the color green. Abby's no fool, on the walk to school this morning she plucked a leaf off a tree and showed it to me and said, "I don't care if this leaf gets left!"


p.s. to keep Abby motivated at school I've asked her to draw a picture for me and I'll take it to my desk at work. everyday she's proudly brought home a family portrait. Monday she pulled it out of her book bag and showed me her masterpiece. She said, "See, here's you, daddy, Halee, Ethan, me & Bell . . . ug! I forgot Eric!!". On Tuesday, she showed me her redone family picture. "I remembered you, dad, Ethan, Eric, me & Bell .... UG! I forgot Halee!!". No joke - this happened 3 days in row. On the fourth day she proudly displayed a picture with all 7 of us. She was so pleased she finally remembered her whole family!



Saturday, August 18, 2012

Syrup!


There are 3 things I should never, ever, never, ever
run out of if I want to keep peace and harmony in my home:
1. Ranch Dressing
2. Ketchup or Catsup (if you prefer) and
3. Syrup
If it were possible I would also have nacho cheese on hand but I have yet a way to figure out how to acquire me one of them nacho cheese machines.
Sometimes at our house we have pancakes for breakfast. Grammy's homemade buttermilk pancakes. Mmmmmm'mmmm!
But when 7 people have all you can eat pancakes for dinner you should have enough syrup on hand.
Some people use this much syrup.
Most people use this size of syrup:
(nevermind the cutie-pie hiding in the background!)

But not MY Tribe. We require this much syrup:
Yep! That's right! That's A GALLON of syrup.
And when you put it all together it's a really a rather ridiculous sight:
Notice if you will the shapely syrup bottle: it's quite full. I filled it right before I rang the dinner triangle (ok I don't have a dinner triangle I have a dinner yell! "Who wants the first round of pancakes!!???"). But now notice the syrup bottle AFTER we demolished a double batch of pancakes:
Uh-huh! That's right....about 2/3rd demolished! In one sitting.
Needless to say, like Buddy the Elf, we Sikorski's try to stick to at least one of the four main food categories: candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup!




Friday, August 17, 2012

Practical Parenting Returns!

Wondering what to write about is not the difficulty, sifting through the thoughts, organizing them and sharing them with others is where it gets sticky.



I am pleased to announce on this Finance Friday edition of To Write a Better Story that I will be returning as a local guest columnist in Monmouth's Daily Review Atlas. The new editor contacted me and I couldn't be more thrilled.

Look for Practical Parenting to return in a week in Saturday's edition.

I had hoped that the opportunity might be a paid opportunity.
It is not.
And yet, I remain thrilled and hopeful.
I am plotting and planning
and dreaming of future topics
and am committed to giving it 110% effort despite it's lack of financial renumeration.

Because not everything that counts has dollar signs.
Most things of importance are unpurchase-able, aren't they?

Like experience.
Wisdom.
Knowledge.

I appreciate those who contacted the paper on my behalf. Some of you were relentless in your pursuit of my column and I can't thank you enough. It means the world to my heart!


Here's a few of my favorite Practical Parenting submissions from the last year:
Simply Living
Out of the Mouth of Babes
An INeffective Stink Eye

If you have any topics you'd like to suggest feel free to let me know!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Give and It'll be Given - Mission Monday

Does what goes around come around?
And if it truly does wouldn't it shape everything we did
or said
or guide us in each and every relationship we have?

What if we lived treating others the way we wish to be treated?

Haven't you met those people who do treat others as they wish to be treated but only until it becomes apparent to them that they are not being treated the way they think they should be so they throw the theory out the window and instead begin to behave however they wish?





I emphatically believe our behavior has the power to affect the lives of others and, in a mysterious and direct way, ourselves.

I believe we should love ... everyone.
I believe we should smile at others.
I believe it is good to give a hug.
I believe an encouraging word to a weary soul is worth for more than money.


I also believe that the giving that really counts is the giving that costs me something.


I find myself in a season where I don't have a lot to give financially
but I have
my time, my words, my experience, my company, my education, myself ...

too often we believe the only valuable thing to give is that which we pay for with our debit or credit cards.

But I don't believe that.

I believe giving my kids my full attention is valuable.
I believe spending time with my loved one is valuable.
I believe listening, really listening, to others is extremely valuable.

Time. Attention. These I can give freely.



Roma children from my trip in 09

Because I believe this to be true, in just over three months I am going on a Mission Trip. I will be traveling to Slovakia and teaching in 2 impoverished Roma Gypsy communities to parents of children 0 - 6 years of age. It has been made known to our team that these children are entering school developmentally delayed thus making their educational experiences less than successful. That lack of proper education is an underlying factor in what propels the abject poverty these families live in. We believe we can help break that cycle by providing parents hands-on, age appropriate, developmental information that will assist them in giving their children the best possible start in life.

This trip requires funding. I have raised the bulk of the budget through my Tentmaking (aka retail) and with donations from individuals & the faithful congregation of the Methodist church and have just a few more dollars to raise. If you'd like to partner with me through resources I would be honored. (Please visit the board I made for the trip and look for the Donate button on the left side)



We all have something to give.
We all want someone to see us. To care for us.
Then perhaps we should be the ones to see. The ones to care.

"The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed" Proverbs 11:25



Thursday, August 9, 2012

Alias or Bravery ?

The writing that has come easiest to me most recently is unpublished.
I've relished in that fact.
I love the feeling when the words flow quicker than my fingers can get them pounded out on the keyboard.
It means my voice is working.
It means I have clarity on what I want to express.
It means I am writing.

Albeit for no one.

I've lost my spot in the local paper.
I've not been blogging regularly.

I'm essentially writing in solitaire.


I'm toying with the idea of taking a break from the blog.
Or reformatting the blog.
Or writing under an pen name.

This town is just too small.
My vulnerability too vulnerable.

I want to write. I want to write all about it. But I'm not brave enough to face my community with those thoughts out there. Just the little push back I've already received has been unpleasant.

So do I need a break?
An alias?
Experienced bloggers  & writers help me out:
How do you know when it's an alias you need or a dose of bravery?




I'm trying to write a better story with my life. I'm trying to imagine if I was watching this life of mine play out on the big screen or in the pages of a novel, how I would want my character to respond. How would I want myself to behave? What would make a great story? Would I live differently? or the same? These questions propel every move I make and every relationship I engage.
This is my life's quest. 

In a world where there are more blogs then time to read them thank you for reading mine today.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Leaving the Pack aka Senior Pictures

Sixteen years ago I was in this very spot in Indiana celebrating her first birthday with extended family, holding her up for all to see like the weird little monkey in Lion King. Now, I've returned to have her senior portraits taken.

Time flies.

I remember getting my senior pictures done. It was 1990 and I proudly wore my herringbone necklace and a mock turtle neck paisley shirt. It took me hours to curl my hair and an entire bottle of AquaNet to get it to stay.

But that was then and this is now.

Now I follow my daughter and the photographer around and watch the two of them in action. Directing. Posing. Snapping. Smiling.

I'm struck by my daughter's beauty and am thankful that she really has no idea how gorgeous she is. And I wonder how she'll do when, in just over a year, she'll launch out of the nest I've provided for her.
Will she fly?
Fall?
Stumble?
Will she build a nest near mine?
Will she go far from home?

Only time will tell. And I think I'll be ok with whatever she chooses. For in my heart I have a sense that she's grown well. I've showed her the Pride Lands, taught her to hunt and fend for herself.  I've shown her the boundaries of safety and have pointed out the dangerous lands in preparation of my little lioness leaving the pack. Now it's up to her.


Happy Birthday my daughter!
Mama's proud of you!






If you live or are near Northern Indiana check out Josephiney Photography. She did a more than fantastic job with our senior session. Her work is amazing! Also, big shout out to Grammy for making the whole thing possible!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Free Fun or Finder's Keepers - Finance Friday


If you think for a second that fun cannot be created for zero or next to nothing (as long as you don't count the price of gas) watch this magic:

Recently, while using some complimentary tickets to a AAA Minor League baseball game we scored free tickets to a nearby amusement/water park.

I knew we were destined to win the drawing. The odds were totally in our favor. The stands were virtually empty so when I put my name in the the fish bowl I had a feeling we might win a t-shirt, can cozi or (fingers crossed) the tickets! When I heard my name over the loud speaker we were thrilled. Not surprised but happy nonetheless!

And because we were practically the only people at the game, each of my 5 kids were chosen to play games on the field between innings. For prizes! So when it's sibling vs sibling guess who's going to win?
So, we scored more tickets to the same park.
And more.
And more.

Seriously, we ended up with 10 tickets to Adventureland.

We picked a date on the calendar, let our kids invite friends, packed the van and pulled out early on a Sunday morning.

Yes, you read that right. Darling hubby and I took our twins, our two boys, their 3 friends and our teenage daughter and her friend (that's 9 kids) for a two and a half hour drive in our 15 passenger van for a day of free fun.



I stopped and took a picture at the entrance of our gang and wondered if people would think they were all mine. And then I imagined I was Mrs. Duggar.




I digress ....




our guests were told that we would give them a ticket, provide the gas money (even though one mom insisted on pitching in, thanks K!) & if they wanted food or souvenirs there were on their own. I, however being the current queen and mother of all things frugal, explained that I would pack a lunch for everyone but it was their choice if they ate with us or not.
They all choose to eat with us.

And eat.
And eat.

But I had enough and it was all good!

K's gas money provided the parking at the park
and a soda for the twins in the heat of the day but other than that we didn't spend one red penny.

It's kinda impressive that my Tribe can go to and have legitimate fun at the amusement park without spending a week's worth of wages.

I will admit my resolve grew weak as I walked past funnel cake stands.
Mmmmm, funnel cakes.
The smell of fried sweet dough.... The warm dusting of powdered sugar .....


Just then,
just as we had begun our trek towards the park's exit,
as the day was drawing to a close,
there skipping along on the ground
was a dollar bill.

I saw it. Just me.
I squealed "A dollar bill!! A dollar bill!!" and skipped to grab it hoping with all my might this would be a Finder's Keepers Losers Weepers situation (I hadn't had one of those since 4th grade! The prospect was thrilling!)
I got the bill.
I picked it up.
I unwrinkled it.
I looked ... it was a $20 dollar bill!!!!

I looked around to see if anyone was checking their pockets. Did someone drop this and was looking for it? No! It was like the Mojave desert all around me. If this moment were a movie the director would have inserted cricket chirping. I was standing alone. No one around. No one missing a $20 bill.

Sweet funnel cake! This money was mine!

On our way out of the park, you bet - that's right! I bought a funnel cake!
It cost a whole $4.50.
That means I went to Adventureland with 9 kids for an entire day and came out $16.50 ahead!!
(not counting the price of gas)


That's what I call free fun! This is another edition of my Finance Friday blog series. Once a week I document our Tribe's journey into statistical poverty and how we are overcoming, dealing and surviving these tight times. Thanks for reading!
______________________________________________________________________________


In the off chance I didn't get to buy a funnel cake I do have a killer recipe I would have made later at home! Enjoy:  
Makes 6 lg cakes
1 c all purpose flour
2 t sugar
1 lg egg beaten
1 t baking powder
3/4 c milk
1/2 t salt
powdered sugar for topping
vegetable oil for frying

In bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder & salk. Gradually add milk & egg. Mix until well blended. Let mixture stand for 15 minutes. Heal 1/3" of oil in skillet. When oil is hot, pour batter into funnel. Drizzle thin stream of batter into hot oil, starting in center of skillet and circling until pan is filled or cake is desired size. Fry on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towel. Drench in powdered sugar. Enjoy!





Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Interruptus Magnamous

Summer.
No school.
Blank days on the calendar.
Nothing before us but swimming and BBQs and baseball games.
Lots of time for writing.
Lots of time for projects.
Lots of time, yes?
No!
Why no?
Why, with long bouts of unscheduled hours before me each and every day, do I not get time to write?
Time to finish my web work?
Time to be quiet and to just think?
Why does every thought and idea run clearly through my head when it hits the pillow at night only to be lost in the sunshine and activity of a new day?

You could blame it on my 5 kids.
You could could blame it on my retail job.
You could even blame it on grocery shopping and laundry and housekeeping, well checks, the Olympics, the dog, the meal planning ....

But I have a name for it.
I call it "Interruptus Magnamous"

The art of starting every thought, project or blog and consistently failing to complete the task due to evil forces beyond one's control.

This is the summer of "Interruptus Magnamous"






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