The Family Meal

One of the most important family rituals I committed to years ago, is sharing a daily meal together.

Did you know research indicates that children who share five meals a week with their family are less likely to do drugs, do better in school and confide in their parents more?

Having a daily meal together as a family isn't all that difficult when you shift your definition of a family meal. My children are extremely active in sports and other activities. Sitting down together at 6p.m each night is simply no longer an option.  We still, however, gather each and everyday to share a meal.  Sometimes we gather at breakfast. Sometimes we gather after school before the rush of evening activities. Once or twice we have eaten in the car between practices. The location, the time and the food itself don't matter as much as the daily connection.

The daily ritual that means family; nourishment, nurturing. laughter and love.

Not sure how I do it. But I do know how to save $$

I cannot even count the number of times people ask,"How do you do it?"

The how meaning raising three kids alone for the past 11 years. The amazement is that my kids look  no different than any other kid and I am at all of their games and school functions. (My kids are also quite amazing people..just saying)

Honestly I have no answer to the question," How do you do it?" I usually just smile.

All of us do what we can, with what we have at any given moment.

That being said, I do know how I do it financially.

My ten best ten ways to save a dollar or two:

1. Cancel cable.
Nobody will die I promise. I got netflix after cancelling cable. Eight bucks a month is sure sweeter than 60.

2. Cancel your landline.
    That saved me $40 per month. A cell phone is plenty for keeping in touch.

3. Color your own hair.
   When I was married I spent $100 on a stylist every six weeks. I tried forking out that bill once single but then I found haircolor in a box for $9. I use coupons so now it is usually around $4.

4. Bake instead of buy.
   Make your own cookies, rolls and bread. Kids love to bake. Make it a fun ritual.

5. Lose the dryer.
  In my case, wait to fix the dryer until next week when you get paid. Then realize how easy it is to live without a dryer. Then see the money you saved on your electricity bill. BTW: my dryer broke four years ago.

6. Meals out are a luxury.
    I eat out very rarely. When we do it is a giant celebration!

7. Examine your grocery bill closely.
 The average amount a family of four receives on food stamps is $100 per week. Try to do that for your family for one month.  That exercise taught me so much about food shopping, couponing and creative dinner making. So much so I am able to stay in that range give or take $25-$75 per month.

8. Start a vegetable garden.
   Start saving now for the investment in soil treatment, seeds and plants. You will reap the rewards. I barely spend anything on produce in the summer. I am still learning and hopefully will have more canned and frozen next year at this time. Saves money and it simply feels good!

9. Never buy at full price.
  Shop at thrift shops. Get clothing when the season is ending. Always hit the sales. Just tonight I spent $20 on :jeans for my youngest, three bras, a shirt for my daughter, a shirt for me, and a shirt for my oldest. All were on winter clearance.

10. Count your blessings.
   Take a moment each and every day to appreciate all that you have!


Feeling warm in gratitude.

As the complaints of the bitter cold circulate. I can only feel gratitude.

The furnace is working overtime. Yet it is working and there is ample oil in the tank.

The drafty windows feel a bit draftier. Yet a space heater keeps me company in my office.

There were complaints this morning about wearing jackets. Yet my children all have warm jackets that fit.

My van is 13 years old. Yet it started and took me safely to where I needed to go.

I skipped the drive through coffee. Yet enjoyed a steaming cup of tea that warmed my hands while I sat on the couch and watched the birds.

Soon the house will be bustling with teenaged energy. Yet we will share the warmth of a family meal.

The warmth of home. Gratitude.