Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I know the point of Wordless Wednesday is to use no words, and just post a single picture, but... there are simply no words to describe the horrors faced by Cambodians every day. So... to them, I dedicate my first Wordless Wednesday post.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trying to Establish a New Routine

As I've previously mentioned, I'm working two days a week outside our home now. This has required me to think about how I would like to establish new routines for the days I am home.  A few weeks ago, I had a lovely, productive day, but ever since, I've been fighting to get back to that.

Here are some things I would like to incorporate into my daily routine on the days I am home:

1)  Bible Reading--This needs to be incorporated into every day, but I'll have more time for it on the days that I am home. Our church always reads through the One Year Bible, and my sister got me one for my birthday this year, so I do try to read it regularly, though I have not cemented it into my routine as much as I should.

2)  Women's Bible Study lesson--I have Bible study every Tuesday night during the school year, and I need to get better about doing my lesson throughout the week, rather than leaving it until the day before.

3)  Daily Housework--Ideally, I would like to do one load of laundry as needed, and keep up with the dishes.  Both of these are an "as needed" type of chore, but the dishes need to be done every day, and the laundry needs to be done every three days at minimum.

4)  Weekly Housework--Since it's still just the two of us around here, most of the housework really doesn't need to be done THAT often. In fact, I think a few things might even be able to be done every two weeks. I'm trying to decide whether I want to do everything one week, and then nothing the next week, or do the kitchen & living room one week, and the bathroom the next week?

5)  Piano practice--We have a keyboard now, so it would probably be a good idea to practice! (I want to anyway!)  I'd like to put in 30 minutes a day. Music really speaks to my soul and I feel so much better after I take some time to play.

6)  Stephanie's Crocheted Creations--I really haven't done much crocheting this fall, and I should probably get back at it so I can list more things on Etsy and/or Facebook, or take more items to the consignment store.

7)  Prep for the days I'm NOT home--Since I'm gone two days a week, I need to take some time on the days I AM home to prepare for being gone, whether that's by preparing Tuesday's dinner on Monday, or doing an extra load of laundry.

The Ultimate Goal: Avoid "Can't Have Anyone Over" Syndrome and be able to invite people over for Sunday lunch or dinner without having to schedule it six weeks in advance. Living 20 minutes from church means that we're kinda far away from everyone else, and it can be difficult or time consuming to get together with people during the week. Some of my favorite memories growing up were when we'd have people over for lunch on Sundays after church, and I'd love to be able to continue that tradition.

I'd also like to avoid having to do housework on Saturdays when Daniel is home so that we can do the things we want to do on the weekends, rather than hang out at home catching up on housework.

How do you structure your day? Do you schedule your whole day, or only schedule half to allow for interruptions?

Monday, October 29, 2012

MTHFR Monday--Why should I get tested?

Last week I blogged a little bit about what MTHFR is.  This week, we're going to talk about why you may want to consider getting tested.

As I mentioned last week, MTHFR is a genetic variation. It is not a sex-linked defect, so that means that we do get one copy of the MTHFR gene from either parent.  If a blood relative in your family tree has the defect, it's possible that you have it too, depending on how it got passed down.

Many people don't realize how common the MTHFR variation is. It has been said that up to 70% of the population has at least one copy of the variation.  That's about 220,267,985 Americans.

Check out this list of medical conditions that the MTHFR variation can cause.  Pretty eye-opening! If you can identify even a few conditions on that list in your family tree, it may not be a bad idea to get tested for the MTHFR variation.

You still may be wondering why you would want to get tested for the MTHFR variation. In my opinion, it's important to get tested if you think it's a possibility, so that you can tell your kids, or your other family members about it, and so that you can start taking positive steps to counteract the negative effects of the variation. In Daniel's case, we know he has the variation that is known to cause heart issues, so we've started him on supplements to protect his circulatory system, and we've eliminated things from his diet that his body can't handle. Hopefully by taking positive steps forward early, we'll be able to hold off negative health issues further down the road.

Any questions about MTHFR so far?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Faithful Fridays

Welcome to my first ever Faithful Friday!

Fridays are a good day to look back and reflect on the week, and what God has been doing in our lives recently. 

One verse that has been popping up for me recently has been Ephesians 3:20.  I've seen it on friends' craft projects, in my Bible reading, and even in my weekly Bible study.  In the NIV, it reads,"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,". I have to say though, that this is one verse I think I understand better in the KJV, which uses the phrase "exceeding abundantly above".

To me, that sounds like Paul is saying for us to take what we think we should ask, or can imagine God doing, and just know that He can do things that are WAY beyond that.  And that's what I feel like He has been doing lately. He has taken care of us in ways we never would have imagined over the last few months. Finances have been a big part of that of course, but even things beyond that, like blessing me with the ability to get a keyboard. I haven't had daily access to a piano in five years, so having even a 61-key keyboard now is amazing.

After Daniel's health issues in July, God opened doors for me to work with the MTHFR family two days a week, providing us with a way to get supplements and knowledge that we wouldn't have gotten on our own, as well as providing some socialization for me, and a chance to use my teaching skills, as well as develop some knowledge of child development and parenting strategies.

He's blessed Daniel and I with a growing, changing, amazing relationship as we work through Love & Respect (affiliate link). We're getting to be quite a team now!  :)

I'm eager to see where God will take me as I continue to learn what it means that He can do exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or think.  

What has God been teaching you lately? Leave me a comment and let me know, or write your own blog post on it, and link up below!  :)

I don't know how to design those cool logo things like other bloggers have for their series, so you'll just have to bear with me without one. Sorry!  (If someone wants to design one for me for free, I wouldn't turn down the offer!)

get the InLinkz code

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Managing God's Money--Grocery Shopping

Previously I've talked about the importance of getting out of debt, and making wise, educated consumer decisions. Both could be (and probably should be) considered important line items in a budget.

Another important item in a budget is groceries. Everyone has to eat something! Grocery shopping is something that I've struggled with for awhile. In my opinion, it's a necessary evil. We have to eat, so we have to shop. But, if I develop a plan before we go to the store, it generally goes a lot better, and we stick to our budget.

When I was in college, I lived off-campus for two years, so that was when I figured out how much it cost to feed one person for a month. I found that it's about $100/month to feed one person, so when Daniel and I got married, I just multiplied that by two. We've always tried to spend about $200/month on groceries, which for us includes all our paper products, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. Generally, we've been able to stick fairly close to this amount, unless we had to stock up on a bunch of staples all at the same time.

When we were first married, we generally shopped at WinCo, which is one of the cheapest grocery stores in town. WinCo doesn't offer store coupons, but I found the prices to be reasonable, and we were pretty much always able to stick to our budget when we shopped there. Two years into our marriage, we moved across the river, and our shopping pattern had to change. We tried shopping at Wal-mart for awhile, but it was pretty expensive, so we worked out a way to get back to shopping at WinCo.

Then, this summer, we found out about all of Daniel's food allergies, so our plan had to change a little bit. Now, we can still get most of our shopping done at WinCo, but we also pick up a few things (like gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free cheese; egg-less mayo; and bulk quinoa) at Yoke's, which is much more expensive than either WinCo or Walmart. I was worried that this would increase our budget significantly, but to my surprise, it hasn't!  In fact, we're pretty much done our shopping for the next two weeks, and we still have some money left over for more produce.

Trying to maintain a "normal" diet while going GFCF is very expensive. By choosing to eat naturally GFCF foods, we cut down our budget. A good example is GF pasta. Daniel and I can both eat rice, so at first, we had been buying the specialty labelled GF pasta. But, then I was over at the MTHFR family's house, and discovered that they eat rice pasta. We were in WinCo a few days later, so I decided to check the Asian food section, and sure enough, I found white rice pasta in the Asian food section for much cheaper than the labelled GF noodles!

I know most of my readers probably don't have to worry about eating GFCF, so, in conclusion, I would just encourage you to think about what you're eating, what you should be eating, make a meal plan, and stick to it. I think you'll find that it makes a big difference in how much you're spending on groceries!

How do you manage your grocery spending?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Doing Laundry in Little Hispaniola

No, it's honestly not as "ghetto" as the title makes it sound. I don't have to wash our laundry by hand, and I don't have to lug it a mile to the closest running water.

But... interesting things still happen in Little Hispaniola.

Yesterday morning I went down to start a load of laundry, and discovered that one of the washing machines wasn't working. It took my quarters, but wouldn't start!  I came back to our apartment, and called our landlord right away, and he came over and took a look at it. Turns out, somehow, the machine had come unplugged. I'm not going to say it was intentionally unplugged, but it was sure strange!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I miss Canadian Politics

I'm having a hard time this election.  I don't really want to vote in a certain way just to keep another candidate out, but unfortunately, that seems to be the way it works in the States. I miss Canadian politics, where you have more than two viable candidates, and you stand a better chance of being able to vote for a candidate that shares your values. Sure, I'll readily acknowledge that it doesn't always work out, and you won't always find a candidate that perfectly matches your values, but with more people to pick from, the chances are better.

So, yep, I miss Canadian politics.

Monday, October 22, 2012

MTHFR Monday--What IS it, anyway?

Welcome to the first weekly MTHFR Monday!  :)  On Mondays in the coming weeks, I'm going to explain a little bit about what MTHFR is, how you can find out if you have the defect, why you would want to know if you have the defect, and what can be done about it if you do have it.  I'll also explain how Daniel and I are working through the dynamics of things in our own family.

Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, or MTHFR for short, is an enzyme that is encoded by the MTHFR gene. Yeah, it's confusing. Why the scientists decided to name the enzyme and the gene with the same name is beyond me. The enzyme is the catalyst for the conversion of 5,10-Methylenethetrahydrofolate into 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, which is also known as levomefolic acid. This is the active form of folic acid, which is used at the cellular level for such things as DNA reproduction, amino acid cycles, and amino acid levels. Having a genetic variation on the MTHFR gene causes the enzyme produced to be not-quite-right.

Genetic variations in the MTHFR gene can lead to vascular disease, neural tube defects, and some types of cancers.

The MTHFR gene is located on Chromosome 1, which means everyone gets one MTHFR gene from each parent. So, everyone has TWO MTHFR genes that could potentially have a genetic variation. They are located in different places, so they have different names. One is the 677 gene, and one is the 1298 gene.  A "normal" 677 gene would be C677C, having two Cytosines. The variation on this gene is to have a Thymine, producing C677T, or T677T. The 1298 gene is normally A1298A. The variation would replace an Alanine with a Cytosine, ending up in A1298C, or C1298C. 

In Daniel's case, he only has the C677T variation, which means he has a fairly mild "case" of MTHFR deficiency. This means that his 1298 gene is fine, and only one half of his 677 gene has been affected.

Friday, October 19, 2012


It's finally Friday.  This week felt absolutely crazy long, but very fast at the same time.  :)

Daniel has been crazy busy at work all week.  He's on track for four hours of overtime already this week. He very rarely gets that much overtime, even in a two-week period.  I'm sure he'll be resting lots this weekend.

My week got a little messed up and next week looks to be about the same. Please keep M, T, and F in your prayers as they go to Seattle next week for some medical appointments, for safety traveling over the Pass, and for the doctors to have wisdom to know what's going on in F's body.

Tonight I'm supposed to go to a ladies' event at church. I was planning to go with Daniel's sister-in-law, but I just found out HER sister is in the hospital getting gall bladder surgery today, so she's babysitting her sister's kids.  I'm not sure if she'll actually be free to go tonight or not. I'll call her a little later and find out.

How was your week? Any exciting weekend plans?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Managing God's Money--Car Maintenance

On Tuesday, I blogged about managing God's money and getting out of debt. Another facet of managing God's money comes in taking care of the material things He has blessed us with. One material thing that is causing us to stop and think right now is our car. We've known for a few months that we need to buy new tires and get an alignment before it starts to snow.  I've heard that we're supposed to have a particularly bad winter this year, so as the daily high drops, my anxiety about bad tires goes up.

We think we may be nearing a place where we'll be able to buy new tires and an alignment for our car soon, so I thought yesterday, a surprise day off from work, would be a great opportunity to do some research about where we should get our tires and alignment done.

Our car is a 2002 Ford Taurus LS sedan. The tires we need are P215/16R60. Our budget is roughly $500, including the cost of the alignment.

I called eight different businesses yesterday afternoon, looking for the best deal. As you would expect, the cost per mile went DOWN as the number of miles the tire is good for went UP.  In other words, 100,000 mile tires are cheaper per mile than 40,000 mile tires, even though the 40,000 mile tires' price is lower.

I won't bore you with ALL the numbers.  Here are the tires we can actually entertain the idea of buying.  These aren't necessarily the best deals I came across, just the ones in our price range.

The cheapest option in our price range is 50,000 mile tires from USA Brake and Auto Repair for $487.15, including a free alignment for being first time customers.  However, my friend Heidi responded to my Facebook comment about that, and said that they were not impressed with the tires they got there a few years ago, so I'm not sure we're going to go that route after all.  I wasn't overly impressed with their customer service anyway.

The next option is to get 40,000 mile tires from Discount Tire (Pasco), and an alignment from Custom Alignment (Kennewick). This should run about $491.00. I was pretty impressed with the customer service from both Discount Tire (Pasco) and Custom Alignment. A friend's husband works at Discount Tire in Richland, so of course, she gave Discount Tire a glowing review.

The third option is to get 40,000 mile tires and an alignment from Big O Tires in Kennewick for $529.93. I wasn't extremely impressed with their customer service, but their price is pretty competitive, which is a good thing for us right now. However, I think they were the only ones who quoted me the alignment price including tax.

The fourth option is 50,000 mile tires from Discount Tire (Pasco) and an alignment from Custom Alignment (Kennewick). This should cost about $531.00.  So, about $2.00 more for 10,000 more miles than we could get at Big O.

All that being said... I think what we're going to do is get the 40,000 mile tires from Discount Tire, and then get an alignment done by our regular mechanic, Meyer's Auto Tech. This will run a little more expensive than getting an alignment from Custom Alignment, but Meyer's Auto Tech knows our car, and we trust them not to take us for more than what the work is worth.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Working with the MTHFR Family--Flexibility is Key!

Well, it looks like there's been a change of plans for today!  :)  One of the MTHFR kiddos was up LATE last night (okay, early this morning! [flexibility point #1]) and T didn't get much sleep at all. So, she canceled an appointment for this morning (flexibility point #2), and e-mailed me to let me know. But, her e-mail didn't come through (flexibility point #3), so I waited for awhile, and then decided to call T. That's when I found out about the missing e-mail (I just got it now), and the new plan. They're just resting today, and so we're going to shoot for tomorrow.  :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Managing God's Money--Getting out of debt

On Sunday, our pastor talked about how everything we have belongs to the Lord, and so we need to be good stewards of our money, our time, etc.

While I do struggle to be a good steward of the time that God has given me, I think it can be even more difficult to remember that the money we have is God's. Not just a little bit, but all the money we have.  I believe that God's desire is for us to not be in debt to anyone. I'm not really sure how having a mortgage fits into that, because we haven't gotten to that step yet, but we do have a small car loan.

As a one-income family which strives to live very simply, it can be challenging to see how we can pay off our car loan faster. So, this week I've been trying to focus more on the fact that the money we do have is a gift from the Lord, and it's our job to be wise stewards of it, and use it in ways that honor Him. While I still do think that buying our car was a good decision at the time, I do believe that it is our responsibility to pay off the car as quickly as we can, so we can free up that money to do more (like sponsor 3 more World Vision children) or support more missionaries, or save for a missions trip of our own.

Because I've shifted my focus off of "Oh dear, we have this bill and that bill coming due, and how are we going to pay for them", and on to "We want to be able to do more to honor God with the money He has given us", I believe He is blessing that.  It's been eight months since we've put any extra on the car loan, and I was able to move a small amount over there yesterday.  (Yay for less interest in the long run!)

Have you seen God bless you for being obedient to Him?  Please leave me a comment and share your story!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Working with the MTHFR Family

My sister asked about my job, and how I like it, so here's the answer to her question.  If you have a question for me, please leave me a comment! I'll write a blog post and answer your question!

Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent.  :)  Their last name is not actually MTHFR, but there's five of them, and five letters, so hey, it works, right?

It all started one day when I was hanging out with Mom MTHFR, who we'll call "T", about the time we found out about Daniel's MTHFR defect. She mentioned something about "R", her youngest, wanting to learn how to crochet, and how to play piano, recorder, and flute.  Funny. I crochet, and I play piano, recorder and flute, and we were also in need of some supplements for Daniel. So, an idea was hatched.

"T" ran our idea past her husband, "M", who thought it sounded fine, and Daniel was in agreement, too, so it was decided that I would spend two days a week helping the MTHFR family out with various household tasks, as well as teaching "R" some crochet and piano.

I've been going over there for about a month now, and it seems to be working out really well.  On an average day, I get there about 9:30am, and most of the time "R" and "H" are still working on school work. So I help a little bit with that, and then do some piano with "R". Right now we're working through Faber's Piano Adventures Primer Level, and "R" is doing great! I think she enjoys playing piano, and she's pretty good! We're also working on independent practice skills so that she can practice without supervision. We did attempt a few crochet lessons, but it was difficult for student as well as teacher, so her parents and I decided to put that aside. In the mean time, "H" has taken a liking to crochet though, so I've given him two lessons!

Somewhere around noon we usually break for lunch. By this time, "H" is usually all done his school work, "R" might have a little bit to finish after school, and "F" is home from special ed. After lunch, we work on finishing up school work. Depending on what day it is, the kids are typically free to play on their own in the afternoon while "T" and I talk and take care of household things (wiping down bins, doing dishes, making sweet potato french fries, or various other tasks), or we get ready to head out the door for "R"'s dance class. Tuesdays work out that I leave straight from their house to Bible Study, and on Wednesdays, they drop me off at home after taking "R" to dance.

I'm enjoying working with this family, and I'm learning a LOT about working with kids with special needs, as well as ways to work with the MTHFR issue in our own family. I'm always amazed when "R", who is 7, spouts off some random fact about a particular supplement or food that I didn't know!

So, that's my job, and what I do! What does a typical day at work (including HOME, for my SAHW/M readers) look like for you?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Not so sure where to take my blog...

It's October.  It's been over two months since I've blogged.  In some ways, it's nice to be back, but in others... I just don't know. But I'll come back to that.

First, a quick recap. The CFPN Reunion was fantastic. The travel was smooth, the facility was perfect, the speaker was amazing, and the fellowship was oh-so-sweet.  No one wants to wait until 2017 for the next one, so we're eyeing 2015.

Ten days after getting home from Milwaukee, I went to BC to visit my family. I had a great week of boating, geocaching, exploring, playing with the niece and nephews, and just generally having a good time.

To be honest, I don't really remember much of September, except one thing... I started a part-time job helping a good friend with her three kids. One is autistic, and the other two are on the "spectrum" as well.  In addition to helping around the house, I'm teaching crochet, and piano. It surprised me, but I'm enjoying teaching piano a lot more than I thought I would.

Second, a confession.  I don't really know what I'm doing with this whole bloggy thing. I mean... I'm not funny like Marla, I'm not candid like Sheila, I'm not good with words like Monica, and I don't think my story is interesting, like Kristina's. I'm just... me. I know lots of stuff, and I have things I'm passionate about, and I'd love to write about them, but I'm not sure if anyone is interested in reading my thoughts, or if I'd just end up talking to myself all the time.

I'm really not sure what I want to write about. Do I write about our hopes and dreams for the future? Do I write solely about our journey with MTHFR? Do I write about social justice issues that are becoming near and dear to my heart? Should I blog about the books I'm reading? All of the above? None of the above? Something else entirely? How open should I be with my own thoughts and feelings? Other bloggers seem to lay it all out there, and not worry about what other people think. But... my family reads my blog.  Do I really want to lay it all out there for them to read? Why is it easier to lay it all out there for perfect strangers to read, but for some reason, when it comes to people who love and care for me, I suddenly want to hide all my thoughts and not blog at all?

So... I'd love some feedback from my readers. What do YOU want me to blog about? Leave me a question in the comments, and I'll answer it in a blog post some time soon.  :)