*My Story Hubby and I were high school sweethearts. He graduated in 1991 and I in 1992. We married the summer of 1994, right before his Senior year of college at University of Michigan and my Junior year at Eastern Michigan University. We were young and I'm sure people wondered if we'd make it, but we didn't worry about what they thought. We grew so close those first few years. Our grades were better and we saved a lot more money living in our apartment and eating meals at home than living in the dorms and eating cafeteria food! He graduated with a degree in History and worked full time at a power equipment dealership (lawn mowers and chain saws) while I finished my Elementary Ed. degree classes. We moved to Maryland in 1996 for him to attend a Seminary...to study to be a pastor. The second week or so that we were there I was very sick. We were puzzled, but not for long. We were expecting our first baby! I was student teaching through the University of Maryland and then graduated from EMU in December. Noah was born April of '97 (I was 22). Rebekah came along in December of '98. We moved back to northern Indiana to be closer to family in Michigan the summer of '99. (He transferred to another Seminary.) Hannah came along August '00, Isaac in April '02, Lydia in March '04, Elijah in February '06, Abigail in May '08 (just a few weeks after we moved into this house!) and Samuel Thomas early November (11-1-11 to be exact!).
*Old House Yes the house is ours. It's really old, too. Hence the name. *wink* We have about 3 acres with a garden, goats, chickens, a cherry tree, and blueberry bushes. It's a pre-Civil War Greek Revival farmhouse. We don't know the exact year it was built because the county courthouse (along with all records) burned in the early 1900's, but with the help of a few historians and some of our own homework we've determined the approximate age. We can't believe it's over 150 years old! We hope to leave this homestead to our children some day!
*My Cooking Debut I remember making Doritoes with American cheese slices melted in the oven when I was little. I thought I was big stuff! Ha! I cooked a few meals when I was a teen. Nothing fancy, though, unless you count fish sticks and Kraft mac-n-cheese fancy. Our first week of marriage was interesting since Hubby decided he'd cook. I tired of stir-fry and decided to put on my big girl apron and get to it. I called his mom and grandmothers a lot!
*One Check or Two? Living on one income isn't easy...especially when you have a large family! Let's start with spending less. To be totally honest it's hard most of the time. But we've made the decision that our family is more important than lots of the material things that the average American family expects. So we drive older cars (and have no car payments), we don't have cable TV, I cut all the boys' hair, etc.. In general terms we strive to owe no one anything as much as possible.
Specifically, I make a lot of use of coupons. I plan our menu for the week based on what's on sale and what we have coupons for - preferably both at the same time! We buy clothes the same way: Goodwill, or Kohl's when they have sales and I have a percent off coupon. I love visiting Bargains to Bounty and Money Saving Mom for deal ideas and coupon links!
On the other side of the equation, my husband strives to make money whenever and however he can. He works full time as a teacher, part time as a pastor (teaching, writing curriculum, etc.), and any other spare time (usually in the summer) doing carpentry work. He often says he'll do just about anything (legal!) if the pay is reasonable.
For us, it's far more about saving money/spending less than it is making more - we're not exactly bringing in a huge income. But we make it work. My husband says the biggest single thing is not owing lots of people for lots of things: it's amazing what not having a car payment (for example) can do to your monthly budget. That means, of course, that our cars need worked on a little more often than new ones. That brings us to another point: do for yourself.
It's amazing what you can learn on the internet. We try not to call in the professionals for repairs. Sure, there will always be some things you can't figure out, but you can save yourself a lot of money with a determination to call in the experts only when you really need them. My husband does almost all the work on our cars, plumbing, electrical, framing, landscaping, etc... The girls and I sew a lot, repairing clothes others might throw out. By cooking from scratch, we not only eat better and healthier, but it's also a lot cheaper than buying a whole refrigerator full of frozen/preserved foods.
I also strive to earn a bit of income from this blog. People clicking on links and making purchases at my Amazon Shop, Motivated Moms (a cleaning/organization schedule for your home), and Tell Your Time (a life organization system) all help out a little bit at a time. I have hand made items for sale in my Old House Mercantile Etsy Shop.
Above all these ideas is our commitment to keep God and family first (in that order), with the "stuff" of life much further down the list. I'm not sure that I can scientifically explain it, but somehow God honors that decision. He's never let us down. We strive to make wise decisions and trust the details to Him.
*How do you do it? I've been asked by several how I find time to blog and craft while taking care of our home, family, meals, homeschooling, etc. I'll be the first to admit it's not easy. As a matter of fact, some days it's downright hard. Sometimes I don't get things done that I would like, but being flexible is key. I also have a lot of help with my organizational systems. You can read more about them HERE.
*Where Do I Start? If you're new to cooking I would recommend starting with a list of easy meals to make. Under the header of this blog there are tabs labeled "Dinner", "Beverage", etc. Click on "Dinner" and peruse the recipes. Pick out 5 dinners and then make a grocery list from the recipes. Next click on the "Sides" tab. Pick out a few side dishes that you think would work well for your family. "Breads" will round out your meal as will some yummy "Desserts"! Check out the "Tips" tab for kitchen helps and do-it-yourself ideas. Don't forget to whip up some Spiced Chai to sip while perusing the site!