The disease of wanting to be liked

Today after dropping off boy #2 at preschool, I was attempting to “sell” preschool to my daughter, using it as a leverage tool for her to (for the love) go in the potty.

Her response, “Yeah I go to preschool next year and people will like me!”

I have to stop buckling her seat and look at her.  Did she just say that?

She’s not even 3 but she’s going to go to preschool with the aim that people will like her?

Oh that little girl made my heartrate soar…

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As if surviving middle school and high school wasn’t enough, we’re continually bombarded by “likes” in our culture.  We wait for the newsfeed counter to tell us how many we’ve gained on social media, and we feel a lack when the internet voices are silent.

Adulthood presents just as much of a longing to belong.  For people to approve of my house or my desires– think my kids are well behaved.  For others to notice my hard work or my quiet spirit (the latter I have never been pointed out for! Ha!).

If this isn’t true, why do we buy a new car or take a great vacation or have our kid selected as honor student and immediately put it on Facebook– aren’t we all searching for someone’s notice?

No matter what persona we like to put out, it’s HARD when others simply don’t like us.

Did I do this to my little girl?  Did I unintentionally give her the feeling that people have to “like” us.  I’ve been so careful with my kids (even at their young ages) to quiet myself on body image and attitude (<- ok, that one notsowell), did I give the feeling that I, too, was waiting for the next approval rating from my peers?

I love the words of Brené Brown, who in her book Daring Greatly, said, “Nothing has transformed my life more than realizing that it’s a waste of time to evaluate my worthiness by weighing the reaction of the people in the stands.”

{{All the praise hands on that one!}}

So your supportive mom is upset- take notice.

Your best friend is frustrated with you- take notice.

A girl you see at school pick-up is nasty- WALK ON BY.

Crabby lady in the grocery store whines about your kids- WALK ON BY.

We can’t control everyone.  And really, if we are Christians, God redirects our focus.  In her book, Unashamed, Heather Davis Nelson says, “We expect the worst from others, and we assume that they think about us as negatively and as much as we fear they do (which is not usually true).  Yet even if their thoughts of us were as condemning as we fear, we are living for the wrong audience.  As someone created in the image of God and for the purpose of reflecting who God is, I am created to live before God alone.  (My emphasis added).

Yes!

It’s hard not being liked, but we are FREE. 

Have you struggled with this, too?  How do we teach our kids to search for real friends not “likers?”

(Post contains affiliate links)

Summer Bucket List

The unofficial beginning of summer is only 2 weeks away!  Our family counts Memorial Day weekend as the kick-off to our Summer Bucket List even if the calendar tells me that summer isn’t until June 20.

First, I asked the boys what they thought they would like to do this summer.  They were very excited to offer up “go to the playground” and “the pool!” (if this doesn’t show the simplicity of young children, #idontknowwhatdoes).   Then I wrote out a few of my own ideas, although I am questioning my thought process behind camp in a tent?!  I never really liked tent camping BEFORE kids…we haven’t tried it yet WITH.  The memories created are what is key here!

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After a long Ohio winter, and a WET spring, we’re excited to get out and explore this summer.  I like to make a Bucket List for each season.  Whether we stick to it or not, it encourages me to think outside of the box when it comes to our daily activities – i.e. we have to try to do more than sitting on the porch with the neighbors, even if it is our favorite summer hobby.

What’s on your Summer Bucket List?

Here’s a free printable copy of the list (minus my website name).

You can check out my Fall 2015 Bucket List HERE.

Or my 2016 Travel Plans List HERE.

Can you tell I like lists? 😉

Fighting entitlement in children (and all of us)

A book review

I’ve been following Kristen Welch for a long time.  Her oftentimes raw prose about parenting, marriage and raising kids is always something I’m eager to read.  So when I was accepted to be on her Launch Team for Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, I did a little happy dance for the opportunity to read the book (for free) before every once.  Of course these opinions are my own.

I will admit it’s empowering for me to hear a mom that is 10 years ahead of me (in parenting years- her oldest is 16) say, “It’s okay for our kids not to be rewarded all the time.”  In a world where kids get a goody bag at the party or a trophy at the game JUST FOR SHOWING UP, we’re swimming upstream when we show our kids a life that looks any differently.  I’ve been pressured into feeling like my kids are due something, when they really aren’t.

Kristen also thoughtfully reminds parents that kids will cling more to what they catch than what we teach them.  Our parenting will look different when we choose to raise un-entitled children.  Kristen points out, “This involves not just fitting Jesus into our lives, but fitting our lives into Jesus.”  I had to say that phrase a few times over and ask myself whether I’m all in for Jesus or I’m just expecting him to be all in to my plans.  I can’t preach “take up your cross” if I’m expecting my kids to learn from my sometimes whiny demands for take-out or new clothes.

Kristen shares many stories from her own family’s quest to live differently.  She gives real-life examples of how to help kids gain perspective on our wealth and abundance in the First World.  In the chapter named Gratitude, Kristen shares how each family member put a rubberband on their wrist and snapped it when they made a complaining comment.  (Yikes!  I think my wrist would be raw.)  She shares how it was a wake-up not only to her children, but herself as well.

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Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World would be a great book to read for the new year.  I’ve definitely implemented some of Kristen’s parenting strategies and taken note of my own behaviors that scream “entitled.”  If you have older children,  you’ll  appreciate the time spent discussing social media and the Welch family’s social media contract!  I better tuck that away for the near future. 🙂

 

How do you fight entitlement in your family?

 

Order the book via Amazon

Kristen’s blog : We are THAT family

Need Fair Trade products to give as gifts?  Check out one of Kristen’s ministries.

 

(Links to Amazon are affiliate links.  There is no additional cost to you).

How to make a budget

(AKA: How to afford to do the things you want to do)

You can read lots and lots of financial advice.  There are books and blogs and e-courses,oh my!  However, we’ve found that truly the ONE thing you must have if you want to succeed financially is the dreaded B word- a BUDGET!

The months when we get off track with our budget are the months that we lose sight of the big picture.  Creating a budget gives you the space to save, invest, and prepare for emergencies.  Even if your income is small, giving “every dollar a name” (Dave Ramsey stuff right there) and living under your means will allow you to do this.

I’m going to walk you through how to make a budget in the same way we have been doing one for 12+ years.  All you need is a Google spreadsheet or a Excel file.

Here are the items that we budget for every single month, along with some notes:

 

If you don’t have a clear picture of what money is coming in each month and what your set expenses are each month, how can you prepare?   What happens when 2 of your little ones get strep and the Dr visit + the medicine is $190 (hmm, wonder who this happened to?), now your sickness becomes a financial crisis.

Once you budget consistently for 3-6 months, you’ll notice something.  You will hardly check your bank account!  There’s no need to check it- you’ll know that you have the money because you told that money where to go!

We’ve been making budget each month since 2006.  It’s never one-size-fits-all.  You must meet each month and discuss the changes for that time.  Utility charges vary by season, kids need clothes and shoes at different times of the year- you must anticipate these things.

 

 

Budgeting Tips:

  1. Some items are not listed (like car insurance) because we’re able to swing them through my husband’s commission.  In your own budget, I would recommend breaking down your larger expenses into monthly expenses (you’ll notice I do this for our term life insurance policies).   For instance, maybe you pay your car insurance twice per year and the cost is $600.  Instead of trying to come up with $600 in June and December, allot $100/month in your budget and then DON’T TOUCH THAT MONEY.  When the bill comes, the money will already be in your checking account.  You can also do this in saving for Christmas or other big purchases.
  2.  You must use (some) cash.  It’s very hard to adhere to a budgeted number if you only use debit or credit.  We take out cash on the 1st and 15th each month to pay for groceries, eating out, blow money (usually ends up being eating out) and babysitting.  Having money that can be physically touched causes a different emotion than swiping a card.  I’ve tried using debit/credit for groceries and I always underestimate how much I’ve spent.  Seeing that there’s only $30 in my grocery envelope shows me that it’s time to buckle down and eat from the pantry or freezer, instead of making another trip to Kroger.
  3.  A budget works better when you stay out of debt.  Don’t look at your monthly budget like, “Oh, we have an extra $165 dollars every month, we could afford an upgrade on xyz.”  Negative, ghostwriter.  You’re looking for money to save, invest, and give.  Stop asking if you can afford the payment and start asking if you can afford IT.  (Notice there are no lines for a car payment?)  You can’t get out of debt if you keep taking on more!  Whatever you need to do to push yourself- do it!
  4. If there is money leftover, start saving for an Emergency fund (if you don’t already have one).  A $1,000 should be enough in the short run to cushion you against car repairs, a leaky roof…or strep throat. 😉
  5.  Notice these are just expenses.  I didn’t add lines for saving, investing, or even vacations.  Add whatever you need to add as long as you aren’t spending more than you make!

 

Do you do a budget? What does your budget look like? 

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4 things I always buy at Aldi

Mr. Yoder Toter and I have always been frugal food shoppers, but having three children has added a dimension of buying things that we never did before.  Whereas I used to eat the only bowl of cereal each morning, there are now 4 bowls of cereal.  Or instead of using 4 pieces of bread for a sandwich, we’re up to 8 or 9.  All of this change has prompted some modifications to how I shop.

Aldi has swept in and become the hero of the day, saving me cold-hard-cash on many products I use every single day.

Aldi isn’t always the most convenient place to shop– they don’t have everything like a WalMart or Target, and many items are seasonal. Maybe even more depressing, our Aldi does not have large carts for bigger families (no 3 or 4-seaters, here).

Those cons aside, I save significant money just from shopping these four categories.

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1. Snacks

Our kids can put away a box of graham crackers in the time it takes me to change a load of laundry.  Aldi’s prices on crackers, chips, snack-sized fruit cups, and more, can not be beat.  The kids are pumped when I get home, and it saves me significantly over Target or Kroger.

2. Organic products

I’m a stickler for organic apple juice and produce.  Aldi is carrying more and more organic products in their stores, including canned diced tomatoes, black beans, and spaghetti sauce.  I even found grass-fed cheese there this past week (move over Amish Country, this may be my favorite cheese ever).

aldi cheese
This cheese is amazing… and Australian. Run, don’t walk, to Aldi and get some.

 

3. Batteries

With a brood like ours, we go through AA batteries like water.  Every other gadget in this house is consuming batteries and at $1.99 for a pack of 8, I can be sure to save a bunch when I buy my batteries at Aldi.

4. Frozen foods

Frozen vegetables, pizzas, and waffles are all at a price much lower than the competitors.  They also offer many convenience-type meals which are great for a busy season (we ate a lot of their frozen manicotti after C was born) or if I know a sitter will be here.

What type of products do you buy at Aldi?  Is there anything I’m forgetting? 

Also, just a fun Aldi fact, the carts in other countries take different amounts of money- while we only pay a quarter here – it’s a whopping $2 coin Down Under!

I was not compensated by Aldi for sharing my affections. 

Why we need to stop saying, “You need a bigger house.”

Guys & Gals,

There is something that a few people have told me lately and it really gets my goat.  Pretty much since baby #3 was just a bun in the oven I’ve often heard, “You need a bigger house.”

I don’t get this statement (and I have to curb the need to say, “You need a smaller mouth” LOL).

Here’s the reality:

I don’t need a bigger house. 

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Our family of 5 lives in a humble 1300 square feet.  When Brian and I bought the house we figured we may have a baby or two and they’d fit just fine considering we had three bedrooms, a yard, and a garage.  Built in 1920, our house is pretty typical for the time in was built.

The current average home size in America is 2,679 sq feet.  The average household contains 2.54 persons.  (I’m not sure where the .54 lives but I think in our case we have 5.54 persons because Miley cat weighs 18 lbs.  I digress.) When new build home statistics were calculated in 1973 the average home size was 1660 sq. ft and there were 3.01 persons in the home.

We’ve shrunken our families but increased the size of our abodes.

In the UK the average home is 818 sq feet, Germany is 1,173 and Spain in 1,044.  The Yoders are actually living high off of the hog compared to our European friends.

Truthfully, there are days when I want a bigger house.  When you walk into our home you are smack dab in our living room.  I’d love to have a foyer to drop our shoes and bags so they aren’t greeting you at the door.  I’d like to have an office where Brian and I could shut the door and hash out those budget meetings.  For goodness sakes, I’d like a toilet on the main floor!

The thing is, we could totally buy a bigger house TOMORROW.  We are in the financial shape to do so and could be approved for a larger mortgage (not tooting our horn, just putting it out there).  We CHOOSE to stay in our home because we love our neighbors, enjoy a small mortgage payment, and really just aren’t up for selling and moving right now (like I wanna keep a house spotless with three littles around).

Also, I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids sharing a bedroom!  Our kids have a few toys in their bedroom but they are typically only in there to sleep.  It doesn’t hurt them to share a dresser and a few square feet, someday they may go to college and have to do this and eventually they may get married and be sharing a whole lot more.

Furthermore, I think as Americans (or Canadians or Australians- at 1948 sq feet and 2303 sq feet, respectively), we can throw this around flippantly without really thinking about what we are saying.  Are we telling people that their home isn’t good enough (even though we don’t live there)?  Are we denying that sometimes people don’t have the financial wherewithal to support a bigger place?  Are we implying that a big home is the marker of success and perfection?  These are issues I think we have to work through.

Also, as Christians, I’ve heard it approached as if “well if they want to have more kids, adopt, foster, etc, they are going to need a bigger house!!!”  Maybe this is just said flippantly, but this is not the Gospel.  The Bible says to “take care of the widows and orphans” not “go get yourself strapped into more debt so you can take in your grandmother.”  Children (and adults) need an environment that is loving and safe- they don’t need their own closet and bathroom.

We choose to have a smaller home because it allows us to give more, save more, and travel more.

Having a small mortgage (and lower utility bills) allows us to pay cash for cars, take vacations, and give to causes when led.  It makes me consider all the stuff I may bring into our home because there may not be a space.  I’m working on living a more minimalist lifestyle and I’m thankful that our smaller house forces me to do that!

So next time your bff or your neighbor tells you that now that baby #2 (or 4 or 6) is on the way you’re going to need a bigger house, ya’ll can smile politely (or roll your eyes) and tell them confidently that you’re doing JUST fine where ya are!  I’m pretty sure our grandmothers had babies sleeping in dresser drawers. 😉

xo

Leah

How good mentorship can change your finances and your life

Why do young men begin a life of thievery or violence in order to support their habits?

Why do some women serial date men that will never commit to marriage?

Why do young students go out and borrow $100,000 for a Bachelors degree?

This, and other issues, I believe can be radically changed by changing the level of mentorship in our society.

Sometimes, this mentorship will be called parenting, but many times it won’t come directly from the parents.  I remember reading something that said from the early teens onward, children aren’t keen to take mentorship from their own parents, they want to hear things from a trusted friend or family member, like an aunt or uncle or grandparent.

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The concept of mentorship has been around since Biblical times.

Paul writes in Titus 2 (ESV):

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.  Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.  Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands,that the word of God may not be reviled.  Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.  Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Oh, how I’ve failed at this, too!  I’m not sure how much I’m teaching younger women to love their children or husbands when I’ve had a bad day and I’m crabby about my circumstances.  My grandma mentored me for much of my young life, and that didn’t mean she was perfect.  She had bad days, too!  But she committed the time just to sit with me,  let me talk, and then engage me with her thoughts.

In his book WreckedJeff Goins said:

“We need initiation- the older generation walking with the younger one, helping them learn where to walk and how.  This is called mentorship and its grossly needed in our schools, churches and culture… We need practical training where young people, even children, learn by doing, not merely watching or hearing.”

I think much of our student loan crisis could go back to a lack of mentorship.  If the parent who is co-signing the loans or helping the child apply for loans doesn’t explain, “Hey Jr, these 4 years of late nights and fun are going to cost you the equivalent of a mortgage payment.  Enjoy your fun now, because you’re going to be paying $700/month for the next 20 years,” how are young people supposed to know what they are really in for?  I’m thankful for my dad, who when I wanted to go to a different college said about my full-ride to Capital University, “You’re going there, you’ll thank me later.”

Many parents would rather see their children be happy than teach them to make wise choices.

I have a friend who went to college two years after high school because his parents took the time to teach him that college debt wasn’t necessary. He worked full-time those two years to help pay for his education.  In the grand scheme of life, him getting his bachelors degree at 24 instead of 22 did not ruin his career, but it did save him from a lot of interest payments!

Russell Moore wrote a piece on mentors and a few of his suggestions were very practical.  Be specific when you ask for mentoring.  Rely on different mentors for different aspects of your life.  You may know someone that has fruit on the tree when it comes to their finances or business- seek them out for advice on those matter.  Maybe you know a couple that has a marriage that you want to emulate- ask them how they do it.

There is nothing wrong about seeking out a mentor.  I’d rather look dumb by asking about a subject with which I need help than just go about something blindly.  After all, when I want to know more about something, I’ll pick up a book and take advice from someone I know nothing about- how much better to take counsel from someone from whom I have directly witnessed their character.

Do you have a mentor in your life?  Maybe someone mentored you as a young person and you believe it changed the trajectory of your life?   I’d love to hear!

For your additional reading:

A mentoring cheat sheet