Friday, December 5, 2008

Never Say No to Rutabagas

No, I'm not kidding. I'm wallowing in rutabaga. My house smells like rutabaga, and my children are scamming bites as I dump steaming pan after pan into the strainer. And I asked myself (foolishly), when friends brought us a pile of them, as big as my head, if I would actually use them. Of course I'll use them. Plus the pounds of free venison, enormous bag of giant homegrown onions, and the four big pumpkins we inherited from a harvest party. And true, it's a lot of work to process all this fall garden produce, but the result is rewarding, and helps with the grocery bill as well.

That brings me to the topic on my mind today. Many people marvel, comment, ask: "I don't know how you do it!" Or, "How do you do it?!" Some of those folks have an inkling of how much creativity is required. Those would be the ones privy to our financial situation. The rest are just way too impressed by a woman that does an awful lot of housework. When I ponder our financial situation, I think of the scene in "Aladdin" where the Genie speaks of what it is to be a genie. He says something like:

"PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER... itty-bitty living space."

Which pretty much reminds me of our life. Phenomenal opportunities to serve God...itty-bitty, well, pretty much everything. House, money, etc. We actually delayed in looking into adoption because we felt that we would never be approved based on our lack of material resources. But we are nothing, if not creative. Plus we have no problem begging, when absolutely necessary.
So my point is this, having a large "interesting" family is indeed a lot of work, and is very costly. When I say costly, I mean that one way or another you will have to figure out a way to pay. You may pay in time, hard work, and creativity...but you will pay. And if you are called to the privilege of serving in ministry, ditto. So here are a few of my commandments for "doing" it. There may or may not be ten, but you can feel free to add some of your own.
  1. Never say no to rutbagas...which is to say, never say no to free food. If it is weird food, consider it an opportunity for a culinary adventure. If it is labor intensive food, do the work. If it is junk food, feed it to the kids quickly to get it out of the house, and consider how rarely they enjoy these treats.
  2. Never say no to free anything. If someone offers a bag of clothes, take it. If someone gives you a box of books, take it. Even if it is mostly junk, or the wrong size, you will often find one perfect item deep in the pile.
  3. Always get rid of the rest. Don't keep anything that is not in great shape and is not absolutely useful.
  4. Sell anything that is salable. Donate anything else. I sell on Ebay, and I have a pretty good idea what will sell. I put the rest on our local chapter of Freecycle, and let someone else burn the gas to collect the stuff. I have never had an item remain unclaimed.
  5. Shop for bargains...and know one when you see it. I shop at Salvation Army, the occasional yard sale, clearance racks, and Ebay. Also look for sales at quality places like LLBean, where I get deep discounts plus free shipping with my card. Also try to never buy when you need the item, or you will pay top dollar. Instead try and predict what you will need, and stock up at sales.
  6. Never, never use credit if you have the cash. I said never. If you must use credit, ask yourself if the item is necessary. If you are starving, and the item is is necessary.
  7. Live free of clutter. Routinely and deeply purge your home and other spaces. You will rarely, if ever be sorry you let something go. OK Queen B! I know there was that Darth Mal toy that Hippie Boy is still holding against me. But you will make your life easier and more serene by stripping down to basics.
  8. Do laundry without ceasing. If you stop for a day, you will be buried under the pile. Never ever get sick enough that you cannot crawl to the laundry room.
  9. Get enough rest. Don't apologize for it, just do it. Don't make excuses, just go lay down. Your children will not perish if you send them to their beds early because you are tired, or let (make) them sleep longer in the morning. Their brains will not turn to mush if you let them watch "The Beverly Hillbillies" while you nap. But yours will, if you don't.
  10. Spend your time and resources on the things you really love...even if it isn't practical or frugal. I have a bazillion pets, and they cost a fortune and are a load of extra work. My children dance, which is crazy expensive and eats a lot of our time. I like Dunkin Donuts coffee, and I buy at least one a week. My girls are in love with Hanna Andersson clothes, and they are pretty pricey. (***Remind me if I forget, because I have a whole post perking in my brain on that topic.)
So there you go. An even ten. I may add more. Feel free to check back, or share your own inspirations.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the adoption!!!!!!!!! In these tough times I think you could write a book on how to live on little money. It would sell. Plus I think your gift is writing.
Mom to T & K

Lucy said...

What a fabulous list! Thanks :)