Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Milkshake Economics 101

Here is our economics lesson for the day... Savannah and I wanted chocolate milkshakes. Now I could have just went to McD's, but it has been an expensive month going to be followed by 2 more expensive months in the Clayton household. We are teaching our kids to budget and live within their means. We run our month from the 5th of the month till the 4th of the next month because we use our credit card for everything and that is how the cycle runs. We still have a few more days to go with an out of town competition coming up tomorrow. So... when the kids wanted ice cream... I had 3 choices:

1. Be mean and just say NO!

2. Run to McD's (so nice of them to just build one right down the street) and order us up          some ice cream.

3. Run to Walmart, buy some French Vanilla ice cream to make our own.

The first option costs us nothing... but we have been sick and food has not been our friend. Both Savannah and I thought ice cream sounded good to eat and that says a lot since we have barely eaten in a couple days.

The second option was to buy shakes at McD's. McD's being way cheaper than the Sonic option across the street will still run you about $2 a shake - could be slightly more or less depending on location. So - $6 for 3 shakes.

The third option - buy ice cream at Walmart - $2.97 for a half gallon of French Vanilla. We already had milk and chocolate syrup. We used maybe half of the half gallon (that's a tongue twister!).  So, about $1.50 in ice cream and maybe if we were going to be on the pricey side for milk and chocolate - 50 cents for that stuff. So, we are up to $2 for 3 milkshakes.

Here's the economics lesson... we could have spent $6 or we could have spent $2. The taste was basically the same. It took a bit more work, but heck... I needed to pull that blender out of the cabinet to find that I had not one, but two blenders. Then I asked why I had 2 blenders and Savannah reminded me that one was Timmy's. He bought a blender while were at Disney for mixed drinks and then just left it in my van. Yes, he was funny that way and that made me smile - so I'm glad I got a happy memory to go with digging out the blender. So... all in all... this is a no brainer here - it was a good idea to make our own milk shakes and hopefully some day - my kids will get that when they are at the end of the money and there is still some month left to go - they can make milk shakes and all will still be well with the world.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Tears - not always sad - some come from joy

Over these past couple of years, I have become quite the crier. If you asked my brother when I was a kid - he would have told you that I cried about something every single day. I distinctly recall him saying that to me and challenging me to not cry for one single day. I was very determined to meet his challenge. Ummm... yeah... I lasted like maybe 4 hours and I cried about something. As I grew up, I became much less of a crier. I would say I didn't cry more than the average teenager or 20 something girl. I became more emotional in my thirties and well since my sweet boy has gone to heaven - forget about it - I cry all the time. Not because I am always sad though. Nope - not at all the reason. Just recently, my niece - Jo Jo - came to visit at Thanksgiving. It was the first time I had seen her obvious baby belly. When she walked into my kitchen to say hello - oh my goodness - I looked at her beautiful face and then I saw the sweet joy of that new life. And then the tears came to my eyes. Oh - so much love! When Rachel - one of my homeschool family - did her floor routine at the gymnastics meet... yep - tears and pride for how well she did! My other niece, Tabi, came to visit us in July. Oh her sweet boys - seeing them with my mom - their Great Grandma - happy tears. And then tears to say goodbye to them. Not exactly sad tears - just tears of emotion. Last night, I thought for sure I would be crying the whole time these lovely young ladies got ready for their dance. Well, I was in super curling hair mode and focused on that. When the beauty work was done - I walked out in my living room and I didn't just see my immediate family - I saw so many families that I love! We were all here to celebrate with our sweet babies. I still didn't let the tears fall although I knew they were right there. Then the picture taking began. This morning I have been sitting here looking at all the pictures and you guessed it - tears. I just love these kids so much and to see their happiness overwhelms me to the point of tears. At one point last night, I had Savannah and her cousin Karis get together for one of just the two of them. That was it for me - the tears they were coming. My mom said, "It's okay. Don't cry momma." I held it together, but the tears. You see these two cousins met when they were just a couple months old. We drove up here from FL in February of 1999. Debi and I wanted our sweet baby girls to meet each other. We dreamed about how they would somehow grow up loving each other even though there was 550 miles separating us. They saw each other a couple of times a year. They were instantly friends from the time they barely could walk or talk. And last night - they were going to a dance together. Oh tears - happy tears. A little bit sad tears, but more joy than sadness. You see I have learned something about tears over these last couple of years. I have learned that tears lessen the pain of grief, but tears also happen when you see how absolutely beautiful life still is.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My parents and their agape love...

The message in church this morning was about marriages. I was sitting next to my mom and I was thinking not only about my marriage, but about my parents' marriage. As we drove home from church, my mom said something about it not applying to her now, but she hoped that they had shown us that kind of marriage while my dad was alive. It was a very simple statement. Oddly it was very much what I had been thinking about during the service. One of the reasons I blog is because some day I would like my kids and their kids to have my memories written down. I believe understanding your family and where they came from is a wonderful gift. My story began with two people that loved each other. I may have doubted things in my lifetime, but one thing I never doubted was my parents' love for each other. For as long as I can remember, my parents did everything together. My mom has never driven. One would think that would have been quite the hindrance to her, but it really wasn't. I remember being a little girl - preschool age. I think my dad had off on Tuesdays (I know it was a weekday.) He would drive my mom to the bank and to the grocery store. He sat patiently in the car. He didn't have a smartphone or an ipad to keep him busy. He just sat and listened to the radio or maybe read the paper. Now, my dad wasn't perfect. He wasn't one to carry the groceries into the house and help put them away. He had his flaws, but they were pretty minor. I learned at that young of an age that my parents worked well together. She was what he needed and likewise for her needs. Another thing they would do was go to "the club" on Friday night. It was a not fancy social club with a fish fry and cheap beer. They would meet their friends for dinner and maybe some dancing. I was thrilled because we would get tombstone pizza for dinner and I could curl up in their warm waterbed to watch Dallas! Yes, I was an 8 year old hooked on Dallas. When we would go on vacation together, I could tell that they were genuinely happy to have a week off to spend with each other. As I got older, my mom began working days at the hospital every other weekend. My dad was not a hobby guy like my husband is. He didn't have projects and stuff to keep him busy on the weekend. He would get up, read his paper, get his car washed, maybe stop by a friend's house and then he would come home and read some more. He would glance at his watch several times an hour. I knew what he was doing. He was checking if it was time to pick my mom up from work. He was counting down till it was time to get her. He didn't really know what to do with himself while she was away. You could see that he was happy when the time finally clicked away on the clock and he would say, "Going to get mom." as he walked out the door. They would usually stop for dinner somewhere on the way home. None of this is earth shattering. It wasn't like he was buying her diamonds or she was kissing his feet. It was just subtle, daily life. And as I said - they were not perfect. I can hear my mom saying his name through gritted teeth, LEO ALLAN!!! when he would annoy her. I can hear him SCREAMING his loud booming voice over some stupid thing one of us kids did. They were not perfect, but they were good. They were good and loving and decent. Sometime before I had Sebastian, Tim and I were looking at getting a new ring for me. It was a sapphire setting that needed a solitaire diamond in the middle. My mom gave me her wedding ring set to see if that might work. It wasn't set the right way, but she told me to keep it anyway. I wear her wedding rings on my right hand. Every once in a while Sebastian will ask me about why I have two sets of wedding rings on my hands. I tell him that one represents my marriage to his dad - our choice to be a family. The other set represents my parents' marriage and the choice they made to give me the foundation of a wonderful family. They showed me what true agape love is.

Monday, January 07, 2013

So, I'm not a gardener...

From our garden back in 2009

I don't have a green thumb. I don't really like gardening. I'm not a gardener, but the good news is my husband is! He loves growing things. Here is the thing... I love watching the stuff grow. I just don't really love doing the work of getting it to grow.  When we first moved to South Carolina in 2008, that was a BIG thing on his list of things to do with our new big yard. He put in a smallish garden that year and I had no idea how much I would enjoy watching the vegetables grow. I mean... I would wake up in the morning and one of my very first thoughts was - I need to look at what has grown since yesterday. It reminded me of when he had a koi pond at our first house. I used to like to sit on my front step and just watch the fish swim when I would wake up in the morning.  It was peaceful and quiet and just brought joy to my heart. In 2009, he made the garden bigger and some things were hit or miss, but I still really enjoyed it. He even cut a tree down to the perfect stump size for me to come sit there and talk with him as he weeded the garden. I got a cute little gate entrance too! When 2010 rolled around, life was hectic. His work had demands of more of his time and well... 2010 sucked for us even BEFORE Timmy died. It was destined to be the worst year of our life well before May. I guess it was already written. Anyway, there was no garden in 2010. In 2011, we jumped into buying our second rental property at the end of January that year. It needed a good amount of renovation. All of Tim's free time went working on that during that spring. In the spring 2012, we were working on a third rental property. Again, not a free moment to garden. This morning Tim had a doctor's appointment. His doctor's office is right across from Lowe's. He meandered in there after his visit and he called me to ask, "Do you use turnips in your homemade soup?" I was like, "Huh? Parsnips, why do you ask?" He tells me he is at Lowe's and picking up some seeds to start some starter plants for our garden. Now, this is a simple phrase and a simple thing. In one little statement - I felt joy! Joy that we were going to have a garden, but more than that... joy that some part of our normal life was beginning to show again. Whatever normal is... because we all know that normal is never really attainable.  I guess I know how much he loves to garden. I know that it is something that makes him feel better in general about himself and everything that swirls around us. And then there is my excitement over getting to watch those darn vegetables grow. Even better - I told him after we finished studying the human body for 10 weeks, we would be moving on to plants with Sebastian and his friends. How perfect is the timing of that? Sebastian said in the background, "I don't like gardening." I told Tim and we both said at the same time, "He doesn't like anything!" Jokingly, I think. Anyway, I just wanted to save this snippet of how one little thing can make me giddy with excitement! I can't wait to see what our garden grows. You know it is growing a whole lot more than vegetables... is is growing a little bit of peace for our family.