44 Things You May Not Know About Me

It's my birthday!

And somehow I turned 44 in a blink of an eye. I am getting old! No, not really. Well, it is all in perspective. But thing morning as I was getting ready I thought, yep, I am 44 but in the best shape (physically, mentally, and spiritually) of my life. This year is going to rock!

So now let's celebrate with 44 things you may not know about me.

1. I was adopted.
2. Years ago I "found" my birth mom and we stay in touch.
3. I am a middle child.
4. I wanted a younger brother.
5. I got a younger sister.
6. I wanted my brother to be named Nicholas.
7. My sister is named Nicole.
8. My Dad picked my name.
9. My Grandma wasn't 100% sold on the name Erica.
10. I guess Erica was a "bad" person in a soap opera.
11. I used to watch soap operas.
12. I also used to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
13. I think watching Will Smith "grow up" in his career is cool.
14. I also listened to DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.
15. I also watched 21 Jump Street.
16. Watching Johnny Depp "grow up" is equally cool.
17. I played the flute throughout Junior High.
18. I started playing soccer in about the 3rd grade.
19. I played on my high school soccer team.
20. I got to pick out the mascot and school colors of my second elementary school. (Okay, the whole first class did.)
21. We were the Williamsburg Settlement Eagles - blue and gold.
22. The school has a new name.
23. I liked doing aerobics in elementary school.
24. I once tested the new/won't break ketchup bottles on the kitchen floor.
25. It broke.
26. It made a mess.
27. My mom was not impressed.
28. The kitchen floor was carpeted.
29. I learned about false advertising.
30. I do not like fish to eat.
31. Unless my Grandpa bakes it. Then it is good.
32. Or canned tuna. That is good.
33. Or lemon pepper catfish. That is good.
34. Or some nice fish and chips with plenty of malt vinegar. That is good.
35. But I still say I do not like to eat fish.
36. I do not like raw fish. I mean it this time.
37. I have a degree in Marine Biology.
38. I was studying Computer Science.
39. I got a job offer to be promoted to handle all the cash for a major store.
40. The work office was tiny and had no windows.
41. I said no and changed my degree plan.
42. I also have a MBA.
43. I work in fundraising for a local non-profit.
44. I have been redeemed by God. Thank you God.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the 44 years of life God has given to me.

Daily Bible Verse: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. ~ Numbers 6:24-26


If Girls Ran the World Update

Woo-hoo! October is here and my fundraising efforts with If Girls Ran the World to raise $250 for Save the Children is fully in swing. I have until October 31st to achieve my goal and have vowed to run a mile for every $2 raised so if I exceed my fundraising goal, I will run more!!! So far I have run 20 miles this month. 

I am beyond thankful to be so far along and only have $70.19 to go to reach my goal. That isn't much at all!

Why am I doing this? Because I believe in giving back. I believe in charity and children have always been, and will always be, near and dear to my heart. Even more so these days after I totally wandered through a dark patch in my life blind and clueless. If I could rewind time, I would right all those mistakes! But then again, maybe where I am today wouldn't be here. Ugh! You can NEVER go back and right wrongs but you can always MOVE FORWARD and build a better you each and every day and that is EXACTLY what I am doing.

I would be beyond honored if you donated to support Save the Children through If Girls Ran the World. 

Thank you very much for your generosity and support.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for mercy.

Daily Bible Verse: "Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed." ~ Proverbs 19:17


Leaving myself vulnerable

This post has been on my heart for ages and now I finally feel the timing is right.

You see, I have been invited to speak at two events in the next few months. One is actually next month and involves me flying to O'ahu. I am more than happy to do this and the lady in charge gave me many opportunities to opt out if the expense was too much for me and my family to cover. But the thing is, I signed up to be a Silent No More Regional Coordinator for a reason and to back down from such an amazing opportunity because of the financial cost to my family seems weak. God called me to this work and I have faith in him. He also called me to design this shirt to raise funds for my ministry work. 

Personally, I love the message on this shirt. Life does not get easier, you get stronger.
Grab your shirt today
That is so true. Stepping out on faith and making myself vulnerable not only through writing this post but by standing in front of who knows how many people to tell my story not once, but twice, is not easy. It is hard. Very hard. But each time I tell my story I am getting stronger. Stronger in the faith that God will watch over and protect me. I am doing His work and put all my faith in him.

I will speak on behalf of the Silent No More Campaign and its three goals:
  • To help people touched by abortion find healing, resources can be found at AbortionForgiveness.com
  • To educate society about the harmful after-effects of abortion through our testimonies, found at AbortionTestimonies.com
  • To and discourage people from thinking abortion is a good solution to an unplanned pregnancy.
Since 2003, over 6,200 women and men have shared their stories at nearly 1700 events in 17 countries and all 50 states.

The SilentNoMore.com website has over 2400 stories of regret with over 400 on video.
Silent No More has 17,000 plus members who also regret their abortion, their lost fatherhood or the death of an aborted family member.
We share our stories, because our experience destroys the rhetoric, that women need abortion.
If you feel called to do so, please grab a t-shirt today as my speech next month will cost my family close to $500 for airfare and accommodations alone. And I would by lying if I didn't say I need dear hubby by my side for support. 
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for God's strength.
Daily Bible Verse: Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. ~ James 5:16


Stretching your dollar

I get it moms, running a house on a budget is tough. Way tough! I also told myself many times what I hear many of you saying, I just get afford to eat healthy. I can't afford that shake or that fitness program. I have no money for stuff like that.

Perhaps you are like me and do have the money lurking in places you just don't know. And I have found that my shake that I once felt cost way too much is indeed affordable as I am no longer buying generic supplements for women and probiotics as both are contained in the shake AND I am snacking less (and that saves the cost of that food) and I am no longer running to the general store for an afternoon pick me up (and that costs an arm and a leg on Maui).

But sometimes even that doesn't feel like enough when darling daughter's hobby and other necessities in life seem to pile up. I have been taking a good hard look at our budget and how we spend things the past couple of years. I have cut out cable but we do stream Netflix, get the DVD's (although that may be cut out again), and stream Amazon through Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime in itself has saved me money because if I need to buy just one thing, I do. No longer am I buying more just to get free shipping.

I shop smarter. There are things I can get online at the same price, or even better prices. Many of these online retailers are part of UPromise so when I shop through the UPromise link at many retailers, a portion of what I spend goes into a college savings for darling daughter. No, I am not saving thousands of dollars, I don't shop that much, but every penny counts and she already has more saved for her college than I did when I started college. Win-Win. Another way to look at this, having pets is paying part of her college expense every time I buy them food and supplies!

And my Amazon shopping makes a difference beyond me as I have signed up for AmazonSmile and a portion of my purchases goes to support Immaculate Heart Radio. You can set it up to support the charity of your choice and once it is set up, it is there for you every single time and you do not spend more. Your money just goes more and is stretched to help a charity you love. How cool is that?!

As much as I want to say I have no credit card debt, I still have some I am working on getting rid of mainly due to trips to the mainland each summer to see my mom and extended family. It is hard to say no to those annual trips when it is the one time of year we can see everyone. But once again, I book them through UPromise so darling daughter's college savings builds up a bit more and I use credit cards that give me rewards I need and value without annual fees. Sorry airline cards, I would love your miles but I am not willing to pay extra for that privilege. I love the Amazon dollars I earn, cash back, and now Costco rewards. These are things I need and use. Not wasted stuff.

On that note, I will use a credit card, say the Costco card, and immediately pay off the balance just to add in the extra rewards. Those rewards often go to treats during the year or holiday/birthday gifts. It helps a lot to go into the Christmas season and have rewards, gift cards, etc to turn to to cover a good portion of gift giving.

And I pay attention to online specials and free offers that many companies have. I know the value of items and can judge if the value is outweighed by shipping costs.

My strategy involves awareness and diligence. I can't leave things to the last minute. I already have Christmas gifts for some family and focus more on the kiddo's versus the adults. Darling daughter and I celebrated that we already earned our free turkey reward at a local grocery store and are trying to earn just one more so we can get a second turkey for our Christmas dinner but I won't spend just to get the reward. We will only buy our needs so if I don't earn the reward, no worries, I have a plan B.

I buy in bulk and prep many freezer meals and keep the freezer stocked...although I am working on unstocking right now to make room for the turkey. This is a good way to get those veggies at a better price and when they are in a freezer meal, you are not wasting food by it rotting. We buy what is on special and strive to grow some of our own food. It is working. We are doing great with beans, carrots, tomatoes, celery, and a few herbs. This keeps not only us, but our pets, happy. P.S. The last time I harvested my celery I just got the tops off and it is growing again! Did you know that could happen?

We compost and that eliminates the cost of fertilizer and we don't buy much soil for new pots as we are making our own. We reused a cardboard egg carton to start need seedlings in too versus the seed starter cups I used to buy. We are getting smarter!

We live simply and hardly ever go to the theater. I mean, maybe twice a year and I think both times in the past year we had free movie vouchers. I make dinners 99% of the time and this includes making many things that come in mixes from scratch such as pancakes, biscuits, tortillas, rolls, etc. I think the food is better for us and I am certain cheaper in the long run.

I use a refillable coffee cup for my coffee maker versus K-Cups....again 99% of the time. Sometimes I splurge for a nice flavor.

Like an eating plan and all things in life, it is all about balance and not being too restrictive that you can't enjoy life and share what you have with others.

There are some expensive ticket items on our shopping lists from time to time such as my vegan cheese. I don't eat it very much at all to save that cost and strive to buy it, and my vegan butter, when it is on sale. I am looking forward to my vegan cheese enchiladas for my birthday though! That will be my birthday present. And peanut butter....I will pay more for freshly ground peanut butter versus buying the highly processed peanut butter and just eat less of it to stretch out the purchase. And hey! Darling daughter will even eat the "good" stuff. I am looking forward to trying to make my own one day too but I question how big of a savings that would be versus using the grinders at Whole Foods. P.S. Did you know they have a treat bin for kids 12 and under to get a piece of fruit to keep them peaceful while you shop?

What dollar stretching tips do you have? I would love to learn more!!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the rewards in life.

Daily Bible Verse: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  ~ Hebrews 13:5