When life gives you lemons . . .
|Taken from the Pier near South Padre Island where grandpa John, Will and myself watched the sunset.|
A short time ago Abby came upstairs and she could see that her mommy was feeling a bit low. She walked up to Anne and said, “Mommy, when life gives you lemons, you make ice tea!” Abby’s attempt to cheer her mommy up worked so well that Anne broke out with laughter and gave Abby a big hug. Abby knew that her mommy was sad and with Abby’s effervescent personality, it was all that Anne needed in seeing the joy in her little girl to cause a change of heart.
|A fisherman let Will look at this stingray's barb.|
A short time ago we as a family went to visit Anne’s sister (Gayle) and her family in Brownsville, Texas. The reunion between family members was very joyous since Anne’s family is very close. I have noticed since being married to Anne now for 12 years that her family does many things together. I believe much of this has to do with the fact that Anne and her siblings were homeschooled. The bond that was forged during their time growing up has been solidified due to the constant contact with each other. Now I find with the homeschooling that we are doing with Abby and Will, has also generated a special closeness between us as parents and that of our children. I have noticed as well that Abby and Will have no problems communicating with adults due to their constant contact with Anne and myself.
|Aye me buckoos, Pirate Will!|
When I was growing up, many of us my age had a different life. My world consisted of going to public school and getting involved in the events that took place there. My time with family was made up of eating supper at home and then going to bed. I spent my extra hours helping out at my dad and uncle’s shop and that of working on the farm for my other uncles as well. For one year I worked also at a gas station filling cars with gas, changing oil, fixing flat tires and cleaning. When I was younger I had three paper routes and that took much of my time, as well as working for local farmers walking beans, tasseling corn and picking rocks. Many children like me spent much of their time with the male adults when we worked together and with our moms while at home during the day. I remember even as a young child when going two blocks to the park, we had an elderly lady hired by the city to watch over us neighborhood kids while we played. We could go anywhere in the neighborhood and have a mother looking out for us by watching us through the windows of their home, or by coming out to talk or play with us. When we as neighborhood kids were doing something wrong or dangerous, they would let us know and also our mothers as well. We were “safe” in our neighborhoods because there were adults to watch over us.
Today I read that many parents and professionals are concerned about the time that children are spending on computers playing games. Does the answer lie in cutting their computer time and limiting what sites they go on? Perhaps the concern should be focused on why children are spending so much time on the computer. Are we as families spending quality time with each other? I hear so many parents saying that they are just worn out when getting home. It takes all their remaining energy just to prepare the meal and take care of household duties. Parents are feeling guilty that they haven’t the time or the energy to spend quality time with family.
|Lighthouse on East Padre Island|
So what has changed over the past 65 years? During World War II, many women went to work in the factories replacing the men that went to war. After the war many families saw that with two incomes, they could now buy immediately what was only possible for their parents to buy after many years of saving and hard work with one income. Obviously coming out of the depression, many saw that finally having this double income brought many advantages in such things as buying two cars, having a new home and traveling to places that were not possible before. So what has happened up until today? Such things as the government giving tax credits to the family for having the mom at home has virtually disappeared. Inflation has eaten much of the income advantage today as well. Adding to this, there is the issue of having to provide for day care, Pre School and more eating out due to lack of time and energy of the parents. To add to this, credit cards with a well of money have virtually replaced checks where one only spent what was in our checking accounts before. Checking allowed families to live within a specified budget and offered a security net when putting savings into other accounts. Now we spend hundreds and thousands of dollars toward credit card fees and high interest rates.
|Pear blossoms from the tree Will and I planted.|
One can see this dismal spiral that has caused so much chaos in the family today. What are the answers??? Well, many today are looking at living on less. They are throwing their credit cards out the window, going back to checking or they are using prepaid debit cards that draw from a specified amount that each family puts into it each month. These cards allow easy access by the use of one's own computer to find your balance in your account. Companies such as “Mango Banks” are setting up these types of accounts and they pay interest when keeping a specified amount in them as well. This encourages users to keep a balance in the account and helps to have a nest egg when something out of the budget is needed in the immediate future. Other companies such as American Express offer similar cards as well. There are also applications that you can buy online such as Cashculator that keep a record of your expenses and help you to budget your income and expenses better. These are just a few ideas that families are using in reigning in their expenses.
|Will found this butterfly when playing.|
Anne said to me this morning as we were going over our budget, “if we make a list of our items that we spend and reduce how much we spend, then we will not have to earn as much.” This kind of simple reasoning is changing how we as a family are addressing the logic in living on less and not thinking how we can make more in order to not give up what we have. In doing an inventory over our life styles, many feel that what we have, possess them, not us possessing those items. I remember reading once about a dad saying that when he bought a swing set for his children, he spent a whole weekend erecting it and later, he spent many days mowing around it, maintaining and oiling it. He calculated the time it cost him away from his family. It was not worth it to him, since more valuable time could be spent with his children doing things they both could experience together. What is taking your time away from your family? Is it things, people, work, or lack of energy? Sometimes by giving yourself permission to explore other options for your family and lifestyle, will allow you the freedom to have "more" by living with less.
|Abby playing in the meadow.|
When it comes to the time for you to leave this earth, do you want to give your family the things that you have accumulated throughout life, or would you rather have given them the memories of time together. Having lived a rich life full of happiness such as going for walks, looking for ants on a sidewalk with your son, or chasing butterflies with your daughter. Not to say the least, memories of holding your sweetheart’s hand as you watch your children play.