Falling Off the Budget Wagon?

Some of you, especially those who know us well, may be wondering if there is some significance to our recent silence on the blog. September 1st came and went without a post, trumpeting our financial stewardship success.

Some readers are probably thinking: “Those weasels. I bet they quit trying to pay down their debt, and are too ashamed to admit it. Let’s call Dave Ramsey and have him pay them a little visit, har har har.” Dave Ramsey’s budget goons know how to strike terror into many a lapsed budgeter.

Airplane Kiddos
Not Dave Ramsey’s actual goons.

I’ll admit, we had a bit of trouble. We went on vacation, and lost track of some of our incidental expenses — we couldn’t find the receipts and had trouble with some of the numbers when we came back. It is tempting, when that happens, to throw up your hands in defeat, and to sneak in additional purchases.

“Oh, sorry Kath — I bought that boat in the driveway ‘while we were on vacation’ … did I ‘forget’ to record that as well? Darn the luck!”

… or maybe not. :)

This was a weird month for us. We went on vacation with Kathy’s folks, but they bore many of the expenses. I got a quarterly bonus from my work, but we bought a new laptop. Since I get paid every two weeks, this was one of the months when we get an extra paycheck; but we had some really large homeschool curriculum expenses, and had to replace our broken microwave.

September Debt Progress
We’re down to 44% of our original debt, after five months!

When the dust settled, we managed to stay within our budget, but we don’t have much to show for the extra money we took in. Our debt is down to 44% of where it was on April 1st. On the surface, this is very encouraging, but the last two months’ progress is small compared to some of our earlier large jumps of debt repayment. Dave Ramsey would not use us as poster-children for ‘gazelle-like debt reduction intensity’.

Fat Gazelle
This is more our kind of gazelle.

All this said, we’re still on the budgeting wagon. We’re not quite as excited about it as we were at first, but we’re still eager to see what God will do with the tiny amount of faith and effort we are bringing to the table. We’re a little worried about our first Christmas ‘under the budget’ (both Kathy and I love to spend a lot at Christmas); we’ve been putting some money aside for Christmas each month, but if our roof fails this Fall, we’ll have to spend all that (and more) on repairs.

It is at this point that we are reminded of our continual dependence on God. His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and perseverance is definitely a weak area for both Kathy and I. We continue to be thankful to our Lord for His provision for our needs, to the extent that we are not really even surprised that our big homeschool curriculum expenses came ‘coincidentally’ due the same month when we received an extra paycheck.

Kathy is teaching a course at our local homeschool co-op using curriculum from Dave Ramsey (Financial Peace for the Next Generation) — she’s very excited about it, and will probably have more to say on this topic in upcoming weeks.

We’re committed to continuing this budget process at least until we are free of all non-mortgage debt, so tune in here for a month-by-month record of our struggle toward financial peace.


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No More Bloggy Hiatus

It’s time to resume writing. Surely the blog-drought has gone on long enough. This morning one of my children snuggled into my comfy computer chair, pulled up the blog website and looked at me sadly,

Still no blog, Mom?” There was a mixture of pity and worry written on his face.

“I know, I know,” I retorted just a wee bit sharply, “I didn’t do the dishes last night either, you wanna talk about that as well?”

internet cafe

This was the extent of our internet while out of town, stealing wireless connection from the neighbors.

There’s nothing quite like a frantic mother of five trying to get to homeschool co-op on time, early in the morning. A co-op in which she’s teaching three classes AND giving the opening announcements. Today was a typical example of the harried, over-committed homeschooling family. I rushed around barking out helpful comments:

Does everyone have a lunch made?
What about art supplies, pencils, notebooks?
Backpacks? Mom’s lunch? Can somebody fix me a quick salad?
I NEED coffee, make-up and a hair dryer!!

Coffee first!

The kids stumbled over one another trying to make sandwiches, find lunch bags, sharpen pencils, and load everything into the car. Joshua (who rose at the crack of dawn and was smugly finished with all of his preparations) now loomed menacingly, threatening anyone who causes us to be late.

That would usually be me.

“Joshua, can I please just dry my hair really quick before we go?” I found myself pleading. “Listen, I’ll finish my make-up in the van (at stop lights only, of course) if you’ll pour my coffee and give me two minutes to do my hair.”

There’s nothing like bargaining with a teenager for a few precious minutes of personal grooming to keep you humble. Today I tried to even the scales a little by requiring him to heat and froth my milk before he adds it to the coffee.

Just to be sure he knows who’s boss.

sure, Mom, whatever you say

Finally, everything was loaded into the van, children were clothed (always a good thing), lunches assembled and packed, my assortment of media equipment was carefully organized, and at least TWO mugs of coffee filled the drink holders: we were ready to set off.

“Um, kids,” I began in a wheedling voice as we pulled out of the driveway, wincing just a little at what was coming. “I need to make one quick stop on the way. Before you say anything,” I rushed on, “I think I can get everything at the drug store (on the way) rather than making a side trip to Target.”

By now his face was grimly set and Joshua was resigned to his fate.

“Hey, you can come in with me and help me pick out the candy,” I offered, trying to soften the blow.

“Okay,” he agreed, “but only because it means I can shove you along keep you from lingering.”

It’s so hard to get any respect around here as a slow moving, non morning person.

Side Note: Even with all that preparation (the children weren’t the only early risers today, I got up at 6:15 am myself), Tim still had to come by the co-op and bring me some things I forgot. How nice that he works from home on Fridays.

bowling anyone?

Maybe they should offer bowling at co-op.


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School Starts Soon

I’ve got fresh binders, notebooks and pens lining my shelves. I still need to buy a big box of pencils. I’m afraid we’re pencil snobs here and only use Ticonderoga no 2′s in our homeschool. They really are the best pencils – write beautifully (well, that part is questionable if you’ve seen the handwriting of a few of my students) and, better still, erase nicely.

I’ve got all our curriculum lined up and ready to go. I’ve cataloged all our books and organized them on the shelves. Two of the kids are finishing up last year’s math books so we’re all set for math. I have several more pieces of our curriculum on the way but everything is ordered and checked off my list. I’m trying something different for our language arts this year. I hope to post an actual homeschooling “this is what we use in our school” blog at some point.

Now to do the actual work of teaching these five children.

Gasp, hyperventilating just a bit.

Our homeschool co-op begins next week. I have everything pretty much ready for those classes although I got an email from one of the teachers with a supply list for Rachel and Daniel’s drawing class. I guess we’ll have a few more trips to Target to make before school officially starts.

The summer has been wonderful, glorious and full of fun, friends and relaxation. I feel incredibly blessed to enjoy the summer months with my family and even more blessed to be able to embark on another year of homeschooling.


Sorry – still no pictures. We have minimal internet right now and there is no way I could upload photos.

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