Saturday, September 26, 2009

Money talks

I have been spending the last week doing my consignment prep and wardrobe inventory to see who needs what, so I guess this subject is kind of on the brain right now.
I would love to hear from all of you who care to participate in regards to how much you spend per child per year on clothing. I'm talking all seasons, shoes, undies, pjs, coats,.....everything.
I'm going to be brave and tell you all how much we end up spending here. Let me first say that without the Lord's help we definitely could not make it. We do get given a good amount of clothing, some of which we can use some we can't, but I have also begun to consign clothing. A couple years ago I stumbled across a consignment sale that is held here locally twice a year called Duds for Doodlebugs (once in the spring and once in the fall). It it owned by a stay-at-home Mom who also homeschools, and it's run by volunteers. Us basically. Anyone who volunteers gets a larger % of the sales, plus first pick of the merchandise. At first, I just shopped there and was so happy with all the nice quality and good prices, but then I realized that if I consigned I could make some money as well. Even if it just went back into the clothing that I needed to buy, it would still be helping us to save money in the long run. So that got me started.
Up to this point I had been saving my kids clothes for a couple seasons to a couple years ahead from things that were given to us, or things the older ones had outgrown, etc. But with 6 kids it was getting really hard to store that much stuff, much less keep it organized and accessible. So I started going through all my boxes and tubs and consigning stuff from that primarily. It has really paid off.
For this sale coming up, I went through the "last" of the stuff I had stored (not counting a starter set of boy/girl baby clothes for the new baby). It is so nice to have the extra storage room as well as the extra money to shop for the kids. I know that by the spring sale I will have more clothes to put in again.
I primarily shop the consignment sale for the kids because, not only do you get good prices, you also get name brand clothing. If I happen to run across a really good sale elsewhere (for birthdays) I will buy something new. And, of course, all undies/socks are new. So, all that being said, I estimated our expense for all 6 of our kids to be in the ball park of $600. That breaks down to about $100 per kid per year. Now, let me say, that with what I make at the sales, we only end up with maybe a little over a $100 worth of out-of-pocket expenses.
Again, I know that without the Lord's help, none of this would be possible. But, I am very excited about the fact that I can dress my kids well in name brand clothing (which to me translates "quality" not "prestige") for cheaper than if I bought everything new from Walmart. I will add that it IS alot of work, but the benefits are worth it to me. And isn't that part of our Mommy job anyway?
As a side note, I will occasionally do some sewing too, and I did factor that cost in, but, for the most part, I have found that the time involved is not always cost effective. I have been doing some sewing lately, but it's projects that have been on the back burner for a long time and it's high time I got them finished. Stuff like a couple pillowcase dresses for Kyla (which are very popular right now), some skirts for the girls (which is one of the harder things to find that actually fit them). They are tall and have tiny little waists so finding something that I don't have to alter after I get it is hard to do. Anyway, all that to say, I rarely have time to sew anymore, and I feel I get better results for my time and money if I just shop consignment. But I do enjoy it and if I feel the result is worth the effort then I will make time.
Sooooo, now that I've told you all my secrets, I would love to hear some of yours.

P.S. I wanted to clarify what I said about name brands. I'm not too proud to wear something from Walmart at all (and we do), but I have found that the quality of name brand clothes is better. And considering the hard wear they are going to get, I like to buy stuff that is going to look good the entire time my kids wear it, not just the first 2 times.

Moldy Worms

Did you know that box turtles really cannot eat a quarter of a watermelon at one time? Huh? who'da guessed. We know because one of the kids tried to feed that much to Cleo. It just sat there and collected flies.
Oh, yes, the adventures we have had with our kids and the box turtle...not always humorous at the time...but, hey, I guess they make for good blog material.
In case I haven't mentioned it before, the kids found a box turtle in our yard several months back. (Actually, it was 2 turtles, and the other one's name was Tony, but he got away somehow. The kids were sad.) So, we, thinking what a good science experiment it would be (Ha! little did we know, WE would be the ones doing the learning) let the kids keep her. We made a terrarium out of a large plastic storage container filled with dirt, some monkey grass, and a little water "pond". Then we researched what kinds of things box turtles eat. Apparently they like bugs, worms, fruit, some greens, mushrooms, etc. All stuff we could find in the yard or from leftovers we ourselves eat. Of course they only eat small portions at a time, but we forgot to specify (or the kids forgot to hear) that part. Hence, we have had to do some major cleaning of poor Cleo's box more times than I care to count. Whole containers of strawberry tops, half a bag of soggy spinach, 8 melon rinds...these are just some of the injustices she has suffered. She seems to maintain a good attitude though and always comes crawling out when we go visit her.
The other thing with these turtles is they need to be misted when you feed them. So we got a special nozzle for our hose that lets you adjust the pressure. It's actually pretty cute to see her enjoying the mist. Did you know turtles wipe their eyes with their feet? Yep, they do. The kids love to see her.
Us, being responsible parents, and wanting to teach our children the same, appointed Aaron or Lela the care of the Cleo. At first, it was so much fun...everyone competing. Who can catch the most doodle bugs or worms, who can find the most mushrooms (yes, we told them not to touch them but instead to use a stick and to wash their hands after), and best of all who gets to drown her with a deluge of water. Oops! I mean who gets to mist her. The thing is, Cleo only got the initial force of the blast. The other children lingering nearby, the porch, front yard and anything else in the vicinity got the rest of it. Yeah, they must have forgotten to hear the part about adjusting the pressure too. Or the part about NOT hosing everyone else down.
We had gotten some turtle food to supplement what the kids found but I think the box got hosed a couple times so we lost about half of that. Then a few weeks ago Ed ordered some worms off the internet. I didn't know you could order worms in a can, but apparently you can.
After the first feeding or two of worms one of the kids confused "the top of the fridge" with "inside the freezer". Imagine my delight when I open the freezer to find a frozen can of worms. Yummy! Dinner anyone. I wasn't sure if it would ruin them or not but we saved them anyway and let them thaw. Guess what? It ruined them.
Lela was going to give some more to Cleo, but when she opened the can she told me "It stinks!". No kidding, worms stink? sure enough...they had molded.
I'm not sure how much longer we plan to keep her, but any talk of letting her go is met with laments and moans of disappointment. =)
I think I would rather let her go before we kill her with our tender loving care.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Toy Patrol

We are so overwhelmed with toys here that I had to come up with a good solution. I had been rotating out about half of them 2 or 3 times a year but that still left so many out all the time that they didn't really enjoy but just had to pick up all the time. Not to mention Ed and I both got tired of tripping over toys every time we turned around.
It came to me the other day when I was cleaning out the shed what my solution could be. We went to home depot and got two large garage storage shelves and I set them up in the shed. Then I took ALL the kids toys out there with only the exception of a special doll or stuffed animal each. By grouping them into boxes or baskets everything fit. Now what we do is every week the kids each get to take their toy baskets and pick a few each from the general stash.
We just got in from "toy shopping" a few minutes ago and you would think Christmas had come again. It is certainly keeping down the clutter inside and I think they will enjoy what they play with more.
Works for me!

Monday, September 14, 2009


It just occurred to me this afternoon that, for the first time in 9 years, I don't have a single baby in diapers. That's pretty amazing considering it has always been an accomplishment to just have one instead of 2 or 3 in diapers. Of course it's not for long...and I can't wait for this new little one to get here. I'm trying to just focus on school and the everyday things I have to do until it's time to start washing up the baby clothes. Can't wait!!! This pregnancy has seemed like it has taken forever but I know it's just a normal one. Thank the Lord, it has been healthy.
For those who don't know, my due date is Nov. 3o. I can't help hoping it could come earlier ...provided everything is ready and healthy of course. The older kids are all excited. And I know Kyla is going to love it. She already coos at any and all "babies" she sees, even ones older than herself. hahaha. I'll just have to watch her to make sure she doesn't try to be the Mommy.
It's hard to believe it has been 2 years since she was born. It has gone by so fast. We just had her birthday party on Sat. combined with Anna Laurie's (my niece) who just turned 5. They had a lot of fun. I'll have to post pics tomorrow as Ed has all the pictures and he has been at work the last two days.
We will be celebrating our 10th honeymoon in a couple weeks. It has been a great 10 years and I feel so blessed to be married to this man.