Saturday, January 25, 2014

Reality and Money

Marae! A little taste of home in Chicago City!
Been thinking a lot lately about ideas for the blog, just haven't put 'pen' to 'paper'. No excuses really, ok maybe this week when a nasty throat bug hit me! All is ok, little white (panadol) and red (ibuprofen) pills came to the rescue! So I thought I would write you all a post on the realities of living with a seminary student. You see you might think judging from my 'lovely' blog posts that all we do here is fun, fun and more fun. Well we do a lot of that but also behind the scenes there is a LOT of hard work. Seminary is NOT for the faint hearted! Please read the post as is, fact/reality, not a whinging/complaining post. 

Let me just tell you about a few of the 'realities' that we face. 

Albert's study hours!
Now to give you a bit of a background here. For those of you who know Albert in real life, you will know that he is extremely focused to the point of it being a weakness. Albert & I and our deputies/session/family knew that this would be an issue coming into seminary which was a HUGE help. See this is where is lovely wife comes in, to help him with the study/family balance. So we made a decision for Albert to have some structured time with the girls. On Monday mornings generally he does language arts (English) with all the girls while I do some errands/shopping. On Thursday afternoon he is taking the devotions and PE at our local home school group. It's worked out brilliantly, his grades haven't even suffered! PHEW!

He still keeps long study hours. He get's up at 4.30am studies to about 6.45, showers, eats, drives to seminary to start at 8am. He gets home again at about 5pm and goes to bed at about 8.30-9pm. During the last couple of weeks of the semester, he only sleeps and eats, just about with studying again after dinner from 7pm to about 9.30-10pm, getting up again at 4.30am! I can cope with exceptions and I know that some of the other students are keeping even crazier hours during those last weeks. The only way Albert has been able to keep normalish hours is because he tries to 'space' out his work over the semester. 

During the last few weeks of the semester just about everything falls onto me, homeschooling, parenting, washing, cooking (7 meals a week), shopping etc. I do it by God's grace and plenty of prayers (THANK YOU!!)

So the 'fun' that you see on this blog here, are the times/opportunities we take when we can. 

By God's grace the girls are thriving and our marriage keeps getting stronger. We try to have regularly date nights. Lately we have been going out with lovely donations people have given us. One lovely couple gave us movie tickets with babysitting for Christmas, what a lovely idea, we enjoyed our night very much!

I know this is just about a taboo subject but I thought I would write a bit about the realities of being a student and 'eating/drinking' someone else's money. We so much appreciate our donors from New Zealand and the fact that we don't have to worry about where our next dollar is coming from is humbling. We can't even begin to 'pay' you back, we'll do our best to pay some of it 'forward'! 

Ok the reality is that living of someone's money can also be a 'burden' that I think twice about each $1 I spend. Thoughts go through my head about what people will think if they see us eating icecream and (bought) pizza again or drinking that beer occasionally or 'catch' us eating at that fastfood restaurant again! Or going/visiting yet another museum or the amount of money I spend on our homeschool curriculum. Now I realize that I'm accountable to our Deacon/session and God ultimately. For the record, our deacon has access to our 'open' book financials, we have nothing to hide but still my 'sin' creeps in. What will people think? 

So a couple of facts regarding me and money. 
I dislike thrift stores, I'm sure I have a phobia (see this is another excellent reason why I can't be a Pastor's wife, I don't like thrift/secondhand store shopping! said very tongue in cheek!!!). You see the reason I don't like them, is that you need to know what a bargain is to start with, because if you don't, then you will get ripped off even at the thrift store. Clothing thrift/secondhand store shopping oh dear, help me! I strongly dislike clothes shopping at the best of time and then for me to do that in a shop where I need to know, what I want, what goes together, reasonably modest and it has to be in my size, HELP!

Note about this though, I see the value in thrift/secondhand store shopping and realise that if you know your prices you could do very well. I have done well getting most of the girls winter gear from there, some appliances, books. Thankfully I have not have had to do any shopping for the girls as most of their clothes I either bought from home or have had donated. I bought a whole lot of clothes for me before we left so again, there is no need to shop here either (although I got some money from my lovely Mom for some new things!). Albert has been the only one that we've had to buy 'work clothes' for suits etc. 

Money and Fun/Extra's Facts.

  • Most of the luxury foods, chocolate, pizza, soft drinks, travel foods etc I have got either cheap or free from coupons/sales. I enjoy sharing those with our guests. 
  • Fun outings - most of those are petrol/parking fees only 
  • Toiletries - very cheap or free, just got Hannah 6 L'Oreal shampoo's and conditioners for $0.64 including tax! Free toothbrush, anyone?
  • I use money to make money or to get freebies. For example, I ordered a years supply of contact lenses and got a $50 rebate back by mail. I 'invested' $50 cash into a hardware store and keep 'rolling' my $50 rebates for 'free' things regularly. One of the last freebies from that store was smoked sausages (bought 16 packages for free after the rebate!)
  • Rent (our biggest expense every month) - After owning a house for most of our married life, paying rent can 'hurt' me sometimes. So we decided to use our house for HIS service and so we have all sorts of gatherings at our house regularly. It is perfectly suited to have our fellow students over for a potluck meal once a month. Plenty of room to play both in summer (fenced backyard with playground) and a heated/lined basement in winter! 
  • People here are SUPER generous, this is not to underestimated. We have been blessed with many gifts and opportunities. So when you read about the fun things that we are doing, most likely we have been given some money for this purpose or we are doing it for free. 
  • Compared to private Christian education, our homeschooling curriculum is a drop in the bucket. For someone (me) who loves school, the complete/extremely descriptive homeschool curriculum is priceless!! 
  • We actually eat a lot of 'meatless' meals substituting beans instead which we actually love, although meat is always nice :). 
One final fact for you all: It is just simply soo much cheaper to live in the USA!

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