From Hollywood to Holy

I’m content raising my four-going-on-five children with my hardworking husband in two simple bedrooms and one bath; you all know that by now. But you may not know that wasn’t the plan. I didn’t know this was going to be my life. And I actually had big plans. I don’t mean big like “cancer curing,” I mean five star restaurant and fancy hotel “big”.

You see, ahem, I have just the slightest flare for the dramatic that was supposed to land me on the silver screen. Of course, I was going to use my platform to speak out on behalf of the unborn and defend unpopular presidents. But God must have had other goals for my life, because while I’ve made some definite detours from His perfect plan, I am currently very far from Hollywoodland. And I’m also very, very happy about that.

I don’t want a million dollars anymore. Seriously, everyone wants a million dollars, right? Nope, not me. At least not at the moment. This year, 2008, God has started to show me His heart regarding money, and I feel like I could write a book about just what it is to love it. Because money isn’t evil, not in the least. But you know what? It’s really hard not to love it. And apparently, the more you have, the harder it gets. So no, I don’t want a million dollars. I don’t want more than our cost of living until God can fully trust us with the extra. And I don’t even pretend to know what that will look like. Maybe it’s a big house where people are always welcome. Maybe it’s starting the charity that has been on my heart for two years now. Maybe it’s working as missionaries while living “on our own dime.” I really don’t know.

So currently I’m the gal who throws away her free fashion magazine (without reading it – so if it’s a gift, THANK YOU, but I’d rather you save the money) because it causes her to covet material things. I’ll be honest in that this (the act of throwing it away) shows tremendous growth on my part. But it also reveals just how weak I am. I want to be holy. But then, here I am, still somehow the 22 year old aspiring model/actress who wanted a closet full of new clothes as much as she wanted to eat that month.

I don’t tell you this because I think it’s unique to me. I’m pretty sure it’s not. I’ve gone from coveting Hollywood to desiring holiness. Desiring holiness is not holiness, so please don’t set me up to fall; but like I said, it’s a step in the right direction.

Two-thousand and eight has been such a challenging blessing that I’m pretty sure I could just reprocess it in two-thousand and nine. But I trust God has even more in store. And because He loves me, because He wants to see me holy, I’ll take whatever He desires to give.

Come on, 2009!

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I Miss My Pappaw or Why I Don’t Need a New Dishwasher

What is it about the holidays that makes me so sentimental? I am very blessed to have a set of grandparents who are alive and well, living over 500 miles away. But while everyday life brings them continually to mind, the holidays conjure up more memories of those who reside in heaven.

I have lost very few loved ones whose eternal security was not being walked out day by day. This is one of the greatest blessings of my life.

This Christmas I have been especially missing my Pappaw. I am sure this is somehow related to the magical spirit of the holidays, even though it seems to have been brought about by a dishwasher on the fritz.

Nine years ago I lived (for a few brief months which I will cherish always) with my aging grandparents. I had just been supernaturally healed from a life of pain, and each day was a brand new (and often humorous) gift. My Pappaw, who was known to drive across town for a sale on Blue Bell ice cream, would have loved The Frugality Project. He would probably have added the tip, “Never replace anything that can simply be rigged to work awhile longer.”


“OK, Doll, I’m gonna show you how to work this dishwasher.”

“I know Pappaw, you’ve showed me.”

“Well, it’s a little tricky. It takes some practice to get it just right.”

Inside, I sighed. But I said, “Alright, I’m watching,” with a great big smile. Then I spun to give an oh-my-gosh glare to my Saturday morning jogging partner.

“Listen for this sound. It runs for about ten seconds before you hear it.”

“Uh-huh,” I said while mimicking every word (word for word) proving that my open mic style dishwasher tales (the ones I’d become famous for at parties) had not been even the slightest bit exaggerated.

“OK, now open the dishwasher. Fill this pan of water. You need this much water! Take two steps back, so you don’t spill it on the floor, and then fling the water into the machine like this.”

“Yes, I see now,” I responded oh so respectfully, causing my friend to end up on the floor in muffled but side-splitting laughter that was somehow overlooked by my very focused (and somewhat cheap) grandfather. “Thanks for showing me again.”


You may remember that our kitchen plumbing was a source of frustration earlier this month. Somehow, in the process of the clogging and/or the repairing, the dishwasher chose to just give up and die. But after doing a few sink-fulls by hand, I decided I was not yet willing to accept a life of dishwater hands and hair (Do you get dishwater hair? I hate it!).

So, I dragged my pink tool bag from the closet, took out a wrench, and proceeded to bang on every moving part (and unmoving) until I was sure I’d made a spiritual, if not mechanical, breakthrough. I closed the door, took a deep breath, and turned the dial to “on”.

The swishing and whirling that came next was truly a glorious sound! And I will admit that, because Papa Bear was at the store during my banging fixing fit, I gleefully settled into my chair and practiced saying, “I fixed it. I’m a fixer. I fix things!” And I masterfully repeated said line when he walked through the door.

But, while Papa Bear was also extremely pleased with my accomplishments, I was only able to bask in my accidentally obtained glory for one load of pots and pans. I unloaded and reloaded the trays at record breaking speed, but when I started the washer a second time, there was no glorious swishing to be heard.

What I did hear picked me up and hurled me nine years back in time.

“Listen for this sound. It runs for about ten seconds before you hear it.”

Surely I couldn’t fix my broken dishwasher by tossing in a little water, right? Wrong!

I might choose to simply stick the pan of water inside and turn it upside-down (rather than the running start – water flinging method), but I still have my Pappaw to thank. And because doing the dishes has taken on a charm that I never could have expected, I hope this dishwasher lasts for a long, long time. Of course, I also know that there ways to actually fix a dishwasher…with a little online help and without me banging around with a wrench!


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An Almost Stress-Free Christmas

It was a great day around the Valente home. I didn’t get out of bed until about 7:30, which I realize is pretty late for the occasion. We have yet to reach the years of frenzied Christmas morning excitement, and I’m so glad.

I made sausage balls and German pancakes. I almost burnt the pancakes because Tiny Diva Dancer decided to change clothes before breakfast, but she didn’t want to wear anything acceptable (i.e. suited for cold weather). She threw a little fit, Mama threw a little fit, and then we all sat down and had a nice breakfast. I believe that was the biggest stress of the entire day, so I’m calling it a huge success!

After breakfast, before presents, we huddled together to hear the story behind “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Did you know the song was actually an underground teaching tool of the persecuted Catholic church in England? Jesus is the partridge in the pear tree. The two turtle doves are the Old and New Testaments. The three French hens are gold, frankincense, and myrrh…Fascinating!

Then it was on to the chaos fun! The kids loved everything they got, and were so sweet about each little present. Over the past several weeks people have been asking them what they wanted Santa to bring them for Christmas. They’ve responded with dumbfounded stares, and I think the reason is two-fold. One, they really don’t know who the heck Santa is. We’re not at all “anti-Santa,” but we want them to grasp the concept of Jesus, first. But mostly, I think they really haven’t known what to ask for. And I just have to say, that is yet another benefit of no t.v.! Praise the Lord!;)

After presents we sat around and chatted until the kids grown-ups began to fade. We’d stuffed ourselves at breakfast, so we decided to save the Turkey for dinner time. I napped with Lil Prince, Grandma napped with the girls, and the higher energy crowd took the party next door.

Mom cleaned up from dinner, so I’m predicting an early bedtime for me (seriously, what is with the Tryptophan? I can’t handle it!). The kids are all in bed (laughing and singing, full of joy from the day), and there is nothing to be done that can’t be saved for tomorrow.

Well, maybe I’ll have one more piece of fudge. Then it’s off to bed, or at least the couch for a movie;)

Merry Christmas all!

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It’s All Fun And Games Until…

It’s five minutes til Christmas morning! I’m not up because I have something poignant or spiritual to say, but I do have one little gem to share before I sprawl between cool sheets in the same thing I’ve been wearing for hours.

Today I was sitting in my rocking chair listening to the dryer run, and the washer, and the dishwasher, feeling pretty good about my day. I could smell my strawberry cake as it sat cooling on the counter, and I debated whether I should just ice it and call it a day, or tackle the cake balls that I’ve been reading about lately (I went with the cake balls, and they were great!).

The kids were all playing nicely about five feet from me. Bay Bit was playing the part of “kitty,” and was happily being “fed” by Tiny Dancer. It wasn’t long before they spotted my empty sewing machine case, and they both though it would make an excellent cat kennel.

“Oh, honey, you won’t fit in that.” I said as I drifted back between la-la land and the potential of a cake ball disaster nightmare.

But do you know what will snap any mama out of her daydreaming? The phrase, “Are you sure this is a good idea?” being uttered by a three year old to a two year old!

“Hey, Bay Bit, are you sure this is a good idea?”
I still owe a few people copies of The Frugality Project, but my eyes are closing, so it will have to wait until tomorrow. I hope you all have a blessed and very merry Christmas!

Good night.;)

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You Guys Are AWESOME!

** UPDATED: All of the participants have been e-mailed. If you have not received your copy, please check your SPAM folder for “The Frugality Project”. Please e-mail me if you are unable to locate your copy.**

You know how Oprah has the best looking audience? Well, I personally believe that I have the smartest readers! You guys rock!

The finished project does not contain any credits (it just got to be too complicated), and it may contain a few grammatical errors. I really loved the way you all worded your tips, so I didn’t want to edit them too much. If you do find yours changed, that’s probably because it’s combined with two or three other women’s tips. But even with the combining and scaling down, we still ended up with 36 pages of serious money saving ideas!!

Give yourself a hand!!

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A Little Bit of Randomness

Sometimes I’m online a lot, and sometimes not so much, depending on how the signal cooperates. If you commented on this blog in the past few days, or sent me an e-mail, please forgive me for not replying. I will, but the incredible wall of snow outside is interfering with the signal, and my time online has been limited.

(I took this two days ago, and there is probably twice as much snow now.)

There are just a couple of days left for you to e-mail your frugal tips. The response has been great, but I’m sure there are some awesome ideas still out there! And Mom, I’ll hook you up whether you send a tip or not. That’s kinda your right as the mom;)


The plumber came today! Woohoo! I now have a draining kitchen sink just in time for tomorrow’s White Elephant Party. Thank. You. God.

Speaking of tomorrow’s party. We may very well have eighteen adults in here. I am not sure how that is going to work! Hmmm…good thing we’re all friends.

Oh, and in preparation for the party (and all of the space we are trying to create out of thin air) I just put in my last load of laundry. Did you hear me people?! I can see the bottom of my laundry baskets!! *sigh* If only it would last.

And finally, out of about 50 attempts in varying locations, this may just be the best of our Christmas pictures. Here’s hoping you had a little more luck!;)

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