Tightening Your Belt After Christmas

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The Fundamental Home

It has been a wonderful time of celebration with family and friends, but now we are getting back into the swing of things.  I am starting to take another look at where we are financially and figure out ways we can cut back.  Even though we limited our children’s gift budget, we still spent more than usual on groceries for big dinners and events, gifts for people outside the family, and travel.  All of those details add up.  As the dust has settled a bit, I am sure that everyone is looking for some ways to begin tightening the belt after a season of spending.

I would love to share with you a few ideas to help tighten things up.   Read more

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Long Ago, in the Fundamental Home Far, Far Away: A Christmas Story

 

The Fundamental Home

I trust you all have had a wonderful Christmas holiday weekend.

In our household, we enjoyed a restful Christmas Day.  We woke up late- a benefit of having older children.  Before we did anything else, everyone grabbed their Bibles to read the story of the birth of Christ.  Rick divided up the passage, so we all had verses to read.  After spending some time focused on the Lord, and in prayer, we started to enjoyed opening gifts.  Each child had 5 gifts to open- 4 from the family, and 1 from a friend who had brought them something a few days before.  We had saved them to open with our other gifts on Christmas Day.  Rick and I each had one gift to open, too.

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Creative Gift Wrapping That Will Save You $$$$$$

This post contains affiliate links, and I may receive compensation if you click one of the links contained.  Even though they are affiliate links, I wouldn’t include them if I didn’t believe recommending these products to you. Please read my full disclosure for more details.

The Fundamental Home

Time is flying by!  Christmas is almost here!  Almost all of our presents have been purchased.  Some have arrived. Some are on their way.  It’s time to get serious about this Christmas morning thing.

I don’t know about you, but one thing we always struggled with is wrapping presents.  The main problem being that we have very rarely had child-free hours to wrap our children’s gifts without their knowledge.  I would usually wait until they were asleep to wrap gifts and since I was always tired and busy in the weeks leading up to Christmas, this usually came down to an all-night Christmas Eve wrapping session.  It wouldn’t be so bad except Rick never helps with the wrapping.  He says it’s his job to encourage me, so he drinks coffee and talks to me while I sit hunched over gifts until 2AM.  I love that man. One year, my friend Rachel came to “help.”  She and my husband are exactly alike.  It is scary how much those two have in common.  Needless to say, she was more of a support person rather than any actual help 🙂

Although, Rachel did help me in one big way that year.

I was up very late, as usual, and getting tired.  I reached the final presents that needed wrapping.  They were some Bionicle toys I had purchased on a Facebook yard sale site.  I had gotten a bargain- an entire bag full of them for $7.  Some were from McDonald’s, and some were the full-size Lego version.  It wouldn’t matter to the boys.  They loved them all.  Anyway, since they were used, they weren’t in a box.  I was struggling trying to figure out how to wrap them nicely, when Rachel made a wonderful suggestion.  She said I should hide them all in the tree and be done with the wrapping.  I paused for a moment.  I liked the idea.  I mean, I was exhausted, and it would be a whole lot easier, but I had to ask myself if it could be done.  The idea was so non-traditional.  It almost felt sacrilegious.

Exhaustion won.  Those babies went in the tree.

The Fundamental Home

I did try to make it look nice.  They were placed carefully throughout the tree.  In the morning, the boys noticed them right away.  I told them that the Bionicles hidden in the tree were their’s, but they had to find them all.  They completely bypassed all of the wrapped gifts and spent a long time trying to find all of the Bionicles.  This non-traditional “unwrapping” is still one of their favorite Christmas memories.

It was also completely free.

Thinking back on Rachel’s good advice, and what a blessing it was to me, I thought it might be a blessing to you to share some creative gift wrapping ideas that will save you money.  I mean, who isn’t looking for ways to save a buck or two here in the home stretch.

So, here are my ideas for Creative Gift Wrapping That Will Save You $$$$$$

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20 Ways to Be Kind to Strangers The Week Before Christmas

The Fundamental Home

This is the week before Christmas, and if you plan to be out in public at all, you need to brace yourself.  I know because I have been out in public all day.  It’s a war zone out there- and I live in the sweet south.

Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe I had a challenging day.

Maybe I was in Walmart three times before 2PM.

No maybe about it.  I definitely was in Walmart three times before 2PM.

That last time, I was a bit embarrassed to go in and pass the same door greeter.

It all started when I ran in there early this morning for a planned errand.

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Preparing for Holiday Guests

This post contains affiliate links, and I may receive compensation if you click one of the links contained.  Even though they are affiliate links, I wouldn’t include them if I didn’t believe recommending these products to you. Please read my full disclosure for more details.

The Fundamental Home

Every year, we have guests over our house for Christmas.  Some years we have just a few folks, mostly family.  Other years, we have had large groups of friends.  This year is one of the least busy, in terms of guests arriving.  We only plan to host my father and his wife for a weekend.  They do this every year, although I wish they would stay for a week at least once.  Whenever guests are coming, Rick and I have different reactions.

I love to have guests over.

Rick tolerates having guests over.

I plan lots of fun events in our home.

Rick plans lots of clean-up when I plan events in our home.

I rush around making sure every little detail is perfect.

Rick sits in a corner and dreads every little problem that could happen.

When it’s all over, I always feel like I could have done more.

When it’s all over, Rick always feels like it went way better than he expected.

What can I say?  It works.

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How We Homeschool During the Holidays (and other busy times)

The Fundamental Home

I keep getting asked how we homeschool during the holidays.

It’s kind of strange to me because it’s as if there is some unwritten rule that, during the holidays, homeschooling must drastically change.

OK.  Maybe it does sometimes, but that’s not the point.

The point is that homeschool is always flexible.  We handle the holidays like we do any other busy time.

True.  There are  some holiday specific situations.  So, let me share with you just how we homeschool during the holidays and other busy times.  I hope it will help you to see the beautiful elasticity homeschool can have and how it can benefit your family no matter what the circumstances.  I’ll share what we are doing this year and what we have done in years past.

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Six Gift Ideas Under $1 That Will Last Beyond Christmas

The Fundamental Home

I am going to shock you and tell you that we are not wealthy.  In fact, according to government standards, we are poverty level.  And though we are categorized this way, I often feel like I am the richest person I know because Rick and I have made a conscious decision to put aside our desire for material things in order to pursue the things that are important to us (namely homeschooling and ministry).  We could both work high paying jobs and send our children to school, but think of all the time I would miss with my precious ones!  Besides, I think I am doing OK with this homeschooling thing.  Brian is looking to get his Bachelor’s degree next summer at 19, and Ricky is starting his first college semester this Spring at 16.  Being home is paying off in ways that matter more to me than money.  God is SO good to us!

Because we have made this financial choice, we usually find ourselves with very little to purchase Christmas presents.  It’s gotten to be more difficult in recent years.  Last year, when we bought our house, we used almost all of our savings to do so.  We are pretty good savers, so we thought we would get by and build the savings up this year.  Plus, the boys were both working, and they offered to buy gifts last year.  It was such a blessing, and I think they were the happiest of all.  You should have seen their faces eager with anticipation waiting for everyone to open their hard earned and carefully chosen presents.  They learned the truth of the saying, “Tis better to give than receive.”  BUT this year has been full of health issues and other major expenses.  At this point in the year, things are even tighter than they were last year.  The boys even have their funds tied up with college expenses.  So, we have been seeking gift ideas that are ridiculously inexpensive AND long-lasting.  Every dollar is precious to us, and if we are going to spend even one, it must be something that will last.

That brings us to this post.  Rick and I have come up with six gift ideas that are under $1 that will last beyond Christmas.  If you are planning on a bare bones Christmas like us, or you are looking for some inexpensive fillers, this may be exactly what you needed.  We will start with the least expensive (ie. free) ones first.  Here we go…

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Staying Positive During the Holidays

The Fundamental Home

I love the holidays.

Who doesn’t?

The family, the friends, the food, the parties, the presents, the decorations.  It’s a whirlwind of fun!

Of course, there are also some stressful aspects to the holidays like the family, the friends, the food, the parties, the presents, and the decorations 😉   A girl can get overwhelmed just thinking about everything that needs to be done.

Then, there are those who are especially struggling this particular holiday season.  A good friend of mine is on chemo and facing surgery.  Some friends are dealing with recent losses in their family.  Some will not be able to see their family this Christmas due to deployments or other non-negotiable commitments.  A few are empty nesting it for the first time this year.

Not to mention, our lives don’t take a break during the holidays.  There is still sickness, cars break down, finances get squeezed, or you say something embarrassing in front of people you care about.  Really.  All of that has happened to me in the last week.

It can be hard.

Rick and I are always a little blue this time of year because we live states away from all of our extended family.  My husband hasn’t seen his parents or sister in 5 years.  He hasn’t seen his brother in 15 years.  Rick works retail (another cause for holiday stress), so he can’t just take a vacation and visit.  We miss them all year, but it’s especially difficult right now.

You can see why I need to work on staying positive.

This brings me to yesterday.  Sunday morning.  I was scheduled to work the nursery in church, and the Pastor mentioned that he was preaching on getting an attitude adjustment.  I thought to myself, “Boy, I need that right now, but I will be in the nursery.”  Guess what happened?  There were no children in the nursery.  That never happens.  Ever.  I joked with the Pastor that the Lord knew I needed that message.

There is truth in jest.

Needless to say, it was just what I needed.  The Lord always knows, right?!  My attitude has been changed!

So, I wish I could share with you every nugget of wisdom I got from the one message, but that would take forever!  Instead, I will give you the one verse that has been instrumental in helping me stay positive.  I think it will help you to stay positive during this holiday season.  Here it is…

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