Monday, May 31, 2010

Core Competency win? Or epic frugal fail?

I just finished reading through a new acquaintance's Huffington Post blog from a few years ago in which she details the rise and benefits of the "core competency" mom.

I'll be writing about her new book "168 Hours" for the Washington Times in a few weeks and I am very, very much looking forward to getting to read it in preparation for the job. One of the perks of journalism is getting paid to talk to really interesting people and read their incredible work. I'm excited.

Her blog posts detail the time saving benefits of being what she calls a "core competency mom," or a woman who "outsources or ignores things other people can do just as well in order to focus on what they do best: nurturing their families and their paid work."

Her point is that statistically women who work outside their home spend almost just as much time per week with their kids as stay at home moms (ones who dont homeschool). So what are these homemakers doing with their time? Housework. Cooking. Laundry. Stuff like that.

There's no question that those things kind of suck and having someone else do them would be grand. ... it would also be expensive. And, in my estimation, an epic frugal fail.

While her posts admit that cost is a factor, she argues that your time is also valuable and that perhaps spending time with your kids "costs" the same amount as getting someone else to do your laundry.

That may very well be the case. But what if one of your core competencies is frugality -- and not because you are good at it or even must be good at it but, for the sake of your family and a desire to give, WANT to be good at it?

The spirit of frugality dictates that you manage your schedule and life in such a way that you have extra of the valuable things -- time and money -- to give to others or (in the case of money) save for later.

As with everything, a cost benefit analysis should be applied to all frugal endeavorers. Cooking my own beans instead of buying canned is only a frugal win because it takes so little hands on time. I use a lot of beans and while a $2ish savings per every three recipes doesn't seem like a lot, it will add up.

I, however, do not make my own dishwasher detergent or washing machine soap because I find a way to buy that stuff very cheaply. The time it would take to make it just isn't worth it to me.

I spend a good amount of time couponing, reading through deals blogs and registering for free items (and thus really good coupons), going through grocery sales and planning menus because I know this time will equal enough savings to make it worth my while. I am in the process of reigning in my schedule and the time I spend doing these things (a blog post to come). But just looking at the difference in my grocery receipts now compared to a year ago I know that the savings is huge. ... the difference between over $100 a week at the commissary and $50.

Here is the big question when considering a core competency lifestyle -- what are your priorities? If money management and frugality is up there with other aspects of your family, then outsourcing your laundry, cooking and cleaning on a regular basis is simply not an option.

Frugal Win: Beans

In an effort to save money on dinner we've been cooking with more and more beans and bean like things, like lentils and barley.

I know what you're thinking. "Lentils. Gross." And you are probably thinking that because you had an experience like mine when a child of a lentil meal run amok. Good intentions, oh my parents, but, well, not such a good product.

I've recovered from the experience (fortunately). And now I am on my own bean journey.

My goal is to make at least two vegetarian meals a week, often more. And this requires a lot of beans.

$5 Dinners is my fav site for bean recipes.

Now the thing about cooking with beans is, well, they cost money too and you go through a lot of them. While I am extremely lazy, I DO enjoy saving money, and so I decide to attempt soaking and cooking my own beans instead of buying the canned ones.

I used this tutorial and I must say that it was extremely easy. Other than my house really stinking of cooking black beans for a few hours, it was no big deal at all.

And the cost breakdown? Awesome. A 1 lbs bag of black beans was $.79 at the commissary. A can of black beans costs about $.85 (depending on the day). The bag made three cans worth of beans.

So, that makes it $2.55 for them canned or $.79 plus a little effort and a bean smelling house.

I say -- no brainer. And frugal win!

A Year of Changes

A year ago today my husband deployed. I didn't know when or if I'd see him again. It was heartbreaking. I remember a distinct feeling of not being able to breathe because it all just hurt so much

Luke is home now. My "year" didn't even last a year. God had a different tasking for him -- taking care of the home front. It's a heavy, heavy job.

It's memorial day and as I look back on the last year I am struck by how different this holiday is to me than it was last year and how much I have changed emotionally, more than anything else.

Last year and every year before memorial day was a day you thought about the troops for a few minutes and then ate food. Lots and lots of good food.

Since then I have attended more military memorials than I can even remember. I have lived with the reality that I could be next. And I have watched as 23 sets of friends and families mourn their loved ones from our unit. And the deployment isn't even over yet.

In the last year I have cried for legitimate reasons more than any year in my life. (I say "legitimate reasons" because I did a lot of unwarranted crying when I was a teenager). My shoulders feel heavy with the emotion of loss and grief -- and I haven't even lost.

I am a weepy person these days. Anything even a little sad makes me start crying. I started reading an article the other day about a woman who accidentally killed her child when she forgot he was in the car. I started crying at the second paragraph. Last night I sat on the couch and sobbed for a solid 10 minutes of the memorial day concert on the National Mall. I can't watch any movies or shows about current military or their loved ones. I can't even make it through the previews. It's all too familiar. Entertainment is supposed to be escapism but those things are my reality. I don't want to experience them anymore than I have to.

One of the most impactful events in my life occurred a few weeks ago. We visited our fallen at Arlington National Cemetery -- my first time there. I stood in front of the grave of Sgt. Paci, whose wife I now know and spend time with, and sobbed. I cried for the loss and the pain that his family has experienced. I looked over the hundreds and hundreds of graves behind his and at all the empty space, ready for more fallen, in front of it. And I cried some more.

I was struck by the monumentalism of what we have undertaken by being in the military at all. Even joining is a sign that I am willing to make this sacrifice. ... am I?

And I was struck by the love of Christ and of God. That one of our soldiers would die for many has brought me to the ground emotionally over and over and over again (even while I write this). Do I ever stop to think that this is exactly what God did for me? That He is the mourning parent while his son is the lost soldier?

... this is piecemeal at best. And for the record, I don't cry constantly. But it doesn't take much to get me started.

This is what memorial day means to me: that few have died for many. ... and I will not have a "happy memorial day." I will have a somber one, filled with gratefulness and remembering.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

And welcome! -- plus a Frugal Fail

OK, I fixed it. I fixed the problems created by me being a moron. I fixed it all. And here we are.

Let's get things started off right with my latest Frugal Fail.

First of all, it's not like I'm TRYING to have frugal fails. Apparently it's just how I roll.

So today's is in the form of me trying to be sneaky to myself and get around the budget.

I think everyone does it in some way, really. This is how I do it.

1. I come close to exceeding my grocery budget. But I want to eat steak for memorial day. Good steak. Delicious steak. Expensive steak.
2. I buy the steak anyway (on the credit card ... frugal fail step number one).
3. I decide that really this steak isn't a GROCERY item, it's an ENTERTAINMENT item, so we're still good! (But that's a lie. You know it and I know. The only one that doesn't know it is the steak. Which was really really tasty. For the record).

So let's go over the first big mistake: taking out the credit card.

It's a slippery slope, really. It isn't that we don't have the money to cover $20 in steak as a treat. It's that if we take out the credit card for this, "just this once," what will take it out for later?

Second, I made excuses for my spending. It's that I shouldn't spend on it as a treat, I should cowboy up as to what I'm doing.

It's not what we did  - buy steak -- that was "eh" on the frugal scale. It was HOW we did it.

Maybe it's time to alter the budget? Or time to create a new budget line for "fancy food on holidays." .. I just know there is a better way than THIS way.

Quick training update: with three weeks to the triathlon I'm looking at crunch time. As in ... I need to get in the lake for a practice swim in the wetsuit, and pronto. That'll be tomorrow. Eeeeee. It'll be cold.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm a Moron

That's not new information.

This is a lesson in why you should never, EVER do anything when you're tired with compromised vision.

(Because when I'm tired I can't see as well).

I spent about an hour exporting and importing my blog last night to the new URL, only to discover this morning when I attempted to follow it that what I created last night was not ... it was .... no "h" in "thrift."

Copy editing was never my strong point.

So we'll be staying around here for another few days giving you all a chance to get the memo. I can't create the real URL like I was going to because blogger considers it already "taken" by this account (which is separate from the account all my other blogs are set up under ... a major fail on my part a few years ago that I can't fix now). My plan was to consolidate everything, but my stupidity last night made that, well, not possible.

We'll go ahead and say this is because I'm a full blown moron.

Unfortunately now when I switch URLs will come up as absolutely nothing. It will not redirect you. It will not do anything. You will be lost. And until I switch it over, bumblethrift cannot have anything on it. Another blogger system fail (combined with Major Amy Fail).

Sorry about that *cough* Abigail *cough*.

I'm going to go and try to not be a moron and convince myself that the hour I spent last night working on NOTHING was not a complete waste of time (and sleep).

Morale of the story (yes, Hyla, THIS is a morale): when in doubt, sleep first.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New URL -- See you there!

Just kidding -- I'm going to make you move now. Read the previous post to figure out why.

The new url is:

Don't forget to follow me at the new location (and unfollow me here if you like).

Everything Changes - including where you go to read this

I am going to change blogger URLs.

I realize this is a dangerous move in that I am likely to drop all sorts of readers. That's why I'm going to leave this post up on the top for a week so you all can have a chance to let it sink in. 

Today I purchased my own domain name as I get ready to start my fellowship and dive head first into freelancing and actually, you know, working. I'd rather potential publishers not be confused between my work site with all my important and impressive information and this site. It's not that I'm embarrassed about this blog -- it's just a distraction. If it's read, that's more than fine. But I'd rather it not be the first thing they find. With the current URL that is a definite possibility. 

And so, after brainstorming possible titles while driving in the rain as I delivered food to a friend in need who lives waaaaaaaaaay too far away (like, an hour into the middle of nowhere) I came up with "Bumble Thrift" as my new handle.

I've picked this because more often than not this blog is about my attempts at thrifty and frugal living ... or, frequently, my bumbling failures. I do post personal stuff fairly frequently, but I'm slowly making it have something to do with frugality on some level.

I also changed the background here to distinguish it from the coming soon other Web site. I'm no Web site building whiz so it'll be pretty simple ... exactly like this one was before I changed it this evening.

(Can I just say how much work it was to find a blog background that was not overly cute? Tons.)

And so early next week the blog site you will want to go to will be:

See you there!

Monday, May 24, 2010

No Love

My Dear Readers,

My visit ticker says you come and see what I have to say, but you leave no other evidence. I post cute baby photos, videos, pictures of me looking terrible, interesting information on couponing and budgeting, rants against airlines and all sort of other things in an attempt to entice you -- but I only get a comment here and there. No comments on the cute video. Only one on the picture of me looking bad.

What gives?

If you do, indeed, exist -- you should show me some love once in a while.

There are things I won't do to get comments. I won't stop posting on the things I find interesting and important. I won't start being overly cute. I won't give you money. (I know, sad for you).

But seriously ... a little love. Anyone? Anyone??

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Training Update

I thought I was being awesome this week with the training schedule until it turned out ... I wasn't. Dave was sick Wednesday and .. um .. I can't remember what happened with Thursday, but exercising didn't go down. I had planned to swim AND bike on Wednesday, but no dice. And Thursday I had planned a run, but again ... didn't happen.

So what I DID do: 15 miles of running, 3 miles of swimming and 17 miles of biking Saturday to Saturday. That's not really that much, but it's better than nothing. So I'm counting it a "win."

This week was also majorly awesome for the information side of things. Friday night we got to meet with a personal trainer and running couch at the Run to Remember dinner. She was awesome and gave lots of pointers for food before and after workouts/races and stretching advice that I've already started implementing. One word: yoga.

I had planned all week to make today a big day gear wise. With low 60-degree temperatures in the lake we'll be swimming at, I need to have a triathlon wetsuit. But of course no one down where we are sells them (stupid) and so a trip to Seattle was in order.

I made some phone calls yesterday to find a shop that had multiple brands (even though I was pretty sure which kind I would want/need). As it turned out one of these shops was holding a demo day and swim clinic TODAY. Excellent!

So we trotted up to Lake Washington this morning (even though it was FREEZING COLD, around 50 degrees with a stiff breeze outside) so I could try on and then swim in a triathlon wetsuit.

And thus:

Now, let's talk about how bad I look.

I figure, hey, people are going to see me in this so I might as well just come out of the closet now. But if there was ever a time that I was certain that "oh yes, I AM pear shaped." Meh.

But this sucker is AMAZING, folks. Even though the 57 degree water was so cold that as soon as I put my face in the water I got a full on brain freeze, I could tell that this thing is going to make a HUGE difference in my speed. And while I didn't swim long in it (CAN YOU BLAME ME?!), they tell me you don't even really have to kick your legs while doing tri swim because the suit makes you float so much! It's like it SWIMS FOR YOU. Bonus!

And here is really the most exciting part about this. This is the suit I got. It's listed here on sale for $224. And that really is about the cheapest I've seen for this sort of thing. But today we got it for $150.

Woohoo!!! And you know how much I loooooove a bargain.

Now here are some more pictures of me freezing my tail end off. Seriously, it was So. Cold. I couldn't feel my chin.

At the moment this photo was taken I was thinking "wow. I can't feel my ears."

And here I'm thinking "I want to die. Someone come warm me." Also, please note how much skinnier I look in this photo. That's because of all the weight I lost keeping myself warm for five minutes.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sovereign God

Either God is completely sovereign, or He is not. Either He is completely in control, or He isn't.

I don't want to get into a theological battle over whether or not there are things that God allows us to make up our own minds about. For example, the debate of freewill v. predestination centers around the question of whether or not you are predestined to salvation or whether God gives you the option to choose or reject. That's not about whether or not He can intervene in your decision making process. That's about whether you do or not have the choice to resist. Even those who believe staunchly in freewill salvation believe that God can intervene and change hearts.

But to think that there are certain areas in which He simply DOES NOT intervene ever -- areas that seem arbitrary, at best, in their selection -- is absolute nonsense. Either He can intervene in everything, or He cannot. The thought that He leaves us absolutely to our devises and self made chaos without the ability to intervene is ridiculous. It also is terrifying.

God is sovereign, or He isn't. I cannot live in a world where I think that God cannot save me from myself.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fail: Bad Mommy Moments

In my pursuit of frugal time and, well, everything else I fill my day with I worry that I am neglecting what I claim is one of my top priorities -- Dave.

For example, I really *want* to read to him everyday. And I *want* to make that a priority. But it doesn't really happen. Sure, we read. But not consistently. Not every day. And the sad thing is he LOVES to read with us. Why can't I just make it happen?

Another example: I want to teach him baby sign. Yeah, that hasn't happened either.

Now they tell me there was no way to know about this, and I did the right thing ... but yesterday morning we ended up going to the doctor because he was SO sick and SO cranky that I thought "surely this isn't just teething." And sure enough, it wasn't. His eardrum had ruptured and the other ear was infection. They say that the drum can rupture not long after the infection has started, and just because that has happened doesn't mean the infection was raging for days. So that's some comfort. But why didn't it occur to me before Tuesday evening when he was running a 100.3 fever that perhaps teething wasn't the only explanation? Is that I just wasn't paying enough attention to him? Was it that I was just thinking only of my needs and my priorities?

When you look at people (and yes, this includes your own kids) as projects, not as living, growing, breathing people, that is what happens. You miss their needs and focus only on what you think they need next in your little project checklist. There's no room for individuality in a people-project, just what you believe should be next on the list.

Note to self: while Dave is a priority, he is a priority person, not a priority project.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fellowship It Up

I don't think I've really talked about my journalism fellowship on here as of yet. I figured before I post pictures from it (which is what I was just about to do) I should probably explain why the heck Luke and I were hanging out with "Don" Rumfeld.

Back in 2007 I was a major overachiever. This is probably not a surprise to anyone. I knew a multitude of people who had entered for and won substantial sized journalism fellowships with the Phillips Foundation for the purpose of reporting out a single story for a year while simultaneously getting mad hook-ups with the publishing industry and other newspapers that could significantly advance their careers. I wanted in on that action.

But I just didn't have time.

When the drama with my father rolled around last year I felt like I really, really needed to do something to give the family a hand financially -- something more than we could do with Luke's salary. As much as I was enjoying being a full-time mommy/kept woman, I could hear a job calling my name.

But I didn't want to put Dave in full time childcare. I'm not against not seeing him every second of every day, but day care? No thank you.

The fellowship seemed like the perfect solution. If I could land a part time one I could either work with Dave at home or with him in care very part time.

And so I entered. I knew enough people who had won in the past (5 total) and enough about their projects to not only know in what sort of thing the foundation would be interested, but how to write a proposal that wouldn't be ignored. These fabulous people also helped edit my work and prepare it for submission. (Thanks!)

And yes, I won. I'm told about 50 applications were seriously considered, 15 people were flown out for interviews, and 10 people won (two won full time fellowships, seven won part time like me, and one won a smaller prize). Competitive, yes. Impossible odds, no.

My project is titled "Deployed: The Silent Sacrifice for Freedom and the Destruction of the Military Family." Through it I will examine both the reasons behind an ever increasing divorce rate in the military and the effectiveness of military funded programs aimed at stemming the tide.

But I need help. First and foremost, I need people to talk to you. If you or anyone you know has struggled with marriage problems during their military career, no matter why, please consider talking to me or passing on my name. You can remain anonymous. The goal of this project is not to pass judgement on divorce, but to instead explore prevention and ways to keep others in the military from experiencing that pain. I am interested in talking to both current and former military families who have struggled and patched things up and those who have ended their marriages.

Now, back to the fun stuff -- pictures from the dinner.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Dave's First Word

Dave's first word is "bye." Does this mean we leave him too much? Regardless, it's adorable.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Frugal Time: Long Term Goals

As I mentioned before I have been thinking more and more about priorities. Very simple question here: what the heck are they? I mean, I know in theory they are things like "God," "Luke," "David."

But I feel like somewhere on my list of everyday stuff there has to be room for achieving goals, and not just David or Luke or God related goals (although I will say those do have goals within them, too). I think there has to be room in life for actual accomplishments.

The Bible (which, in case you didn't know and are new here, is my guide book for how to do things) is full of examples of people who have and achieve goals or participate in pursuits both "holy" (example: Solomon building the temple) and pretty average (example: David as a master harpist). I figure if they can do it, so can I.

I also believe that goals can test your faith. As long as what you are doing is not against God in that it is evil or something like that, attempting something that stretches you as a person and as a Christian isn't a good stretch of your faith. God can pull you through all sorts of crazy adventures, from missions work to actual employment.

Back, oh, four years ago an example was given in a sermon of some guy who had some crazy list of goals, all of which he managed to accomplish in his life. I'm not entirely sure anymore what this sermon was about, by the way. Probably something to do with faith.

What's important is that during said sermon I made a list of goals. I should've thought the list through more. If I had done that it would have actual goals on it and not things that are so cool that I would love to do someday but are pretty much never going to happen unless I take a drastic lifestyle change -- like landing in a fighter jet on a aircraft carrier (yes, that is on the list).

Other things on the list:

Learn Spanish
Sky dive
White water raft
Learn Sign Language
Build a Web site
Play a Mozart Sonata
Learn to tap dance
Knit a blanket
Make Thanksgiving dinner
Travel on every continent
Own a car
Swim competitively

And the list goes on. I wrote it July 3, 2005 and I've only really accomplished four or five or the things on the list.

Maybe I need to make a new list.

When I do that "Complete a Triathlon" will DEFINITELY be on the list. Along with a bunch of other things that have nothing to do with learning Chinese (on the first list and is Never Going to Happen because I suck big time at learning languages).

And this brings me to the real point of this post. (I know, it took me way too long to get here). I am doing a triathlon. Or rather, three triathlons. And I feel crazy. CRAZY. Today as I was swimming I thought "wow, Amy, you really are crazy." See? Like that. But the truth of the matter is that this has been a goal of mine for a long, long time. And I cannot quit now, even though it seems like a super good idea. I cannot quit because this is the whole reason of having goals -- that when it gets hard and not so much fun, you can say "OK, God, I had this goal and now that I have no more strength left, I need you.

Oh snap! That's an analogy to the Christian life. Didn't see that coming, did you?

I competed in and completely my first race Saturday. It was a 5k "down and dirty mud run." That is exactly what it sounds like. Running. And mud. Because you don't believe me, here are some pictures.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rant: Travel

I'm going to go on a little, fairly pointless, rant now. It will probably make me seem self absorbed, egocentric and inappropriately entitled ... but at least I know it.

The subject of my rant: travel.

Act 1 - The big stall in the bathroom: an open letter

Dear Big Stall Users,

All stalls are empty, but when you go into an airport public restroom you bee-line to the handicap stall. I know why. It's because you have a giant bag that, in a few minutes, you will try to stuff into the overhead bin on the plane before the attendant makes you check it. You know I'm right.

Now, your bags would fit in the smaller stalls, but it would be a tight squeeze and not as comfortable. But while you are inappropriately in the only big stall, which, incidentally, also contains the only baby changing table, there are pretty good odds that there are people waiting for you to leave. People in wheelchairs. People with strollers and babies with very stinky diapers. People with very small periods of time in between right that moment and the time that their plane is going to take off.

Think about this while you are taking for-ev-er. Think about this after you are finished (I know you are) and you are simply taking this time to take everything out of your carry on and put it back in a futile effort to make it fit in that plane compartment. And I'll think about it as I change my baby on the bathroom floor, thanks to you.


Bitter Mommy

Act 2 -- The Miracle of the iPod and the Day I lost It

I bought my video iPod in 2007. It was good day ... a pricey day, but a good day.

And it was only through a miracle from God that it lasted until now. I am notorious -- NOTORIOUS - for loosing my stuff. But not this.

One time it broke, and Apple replaced it because they rock like that. I bought an indestructable rubber case. And that was my secret.

Last night I lost it in the airport. It's gone. Gone and gone for good, in the hands of someone else with oodles and oodles of Lord knows what on it for their listening pleasure. Enjoy the bands I'm not even willing to admit are on their.

And now I'm out several hundred $$$. :::sad::::

Act 3 -- Baggage Policies: a Second Open Letter

Dear US Airways,

When you delayed my flight last night more than two hours, getting us to Seattle well after midnight local time (and after 3 a.m. D.C. time) I was a little ... tired. Not mad, just tired. And when my baby screamed for a good hour plus of that time, I was still not mad, just tired. Mind you, he would've been fine and gone right to sleep if he had gotten on the plane even an hour later than we should've -- but not two hours. So really the screaming was mostly your fault. But I still wasn't mad.

But when I got up this morning after a mere 5 hours of sleep (your fault) and noticed that my stroller clip was busted and a big hole was torn in my duffle bag I was a little mad.

But the clincher was when I looked at your damaged baggage policy. All claims must be made within four hours of the flight. And at the airport.

Are you kidding me? So I land in the middle of the night with a very upset infant and you expect me to stand there and take stock of everything so I can file a claim then and there? No room for noticing breaks and tares later?

Please make this right.



Friday, May 7, 2010

Everyday Savings: Energy Recap and Wow!

So remember when I was all "we're going to see how much money we save by being more careful with our electricity" and "I'll let you know ..." ...

Well! Today is that day.

Last month's bill: $71.95

This month's bill: $44.11


We saved that money by simply turning off our surge protectors (and the stuff plugged into them like the modem) at night, making sure we didnt use lights when we didnt need to and turned off lights when we left the room, unplugged cell phone chargers during the day and lowered the temp on our water heater.

Effortless, really.

And almost $30 richer because of it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Frugal Time

I have been taking a break from the frugal blogging world as I try to prepare myself for an upcoming year of working from home, at least part time.

It's gotten me thinking about how frugality must be something applied to not just money, but also to time (and everyone said "time is money!"). I must be careful about how I allot and spend my time so that, at the end of the day, I have enough left to get/finish everything I need.

Compared to time frugality, money frugality is a piece of cake.

Just like with money, being frugal with your time comes down to priorities and wants/nice to haves/needs. There are things that I WANT to spend my time doing -- watching endless episodes of Friends and drinking lattes, for example. There are things that are NICE to spend my time on and if I tried really hard I could say "well that's a NEED!" -- like training for my triathlon and staying up with the bargain blogs so I can get the most out of my grocery trips. And there are things that are definite NEEDS, like spending time with God, Luke and David (in that order) and working.

But for some reason managing my time is so much more difficult than managing my money. How I use both reflects what I value most - my personal idols, you might say. I was reading I Kings this morning and came across this verse:

"No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord's sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. His worst outrage was worshiping idols just as the Amorites had done -- the people whom the Lord had driven out from the land ahead of the Israelites." (I Kings 21:25-26).

Ahab was one bad dude (I was going to say "bada$$ but that didn't seem appropriate, haha). He killed people. He stole stuff. He oppressed the poor. All sorts of things I would say were way, way, WAY worse than ignoring God. .. I mean killing people is bad!

But God considered the idol worship to be THE WORST THING EVER. ... and if I am spending my assets (time and money) to do things that do not put God first I am doing the Exact Same Thing.

Uncool, Amy. Very, very uncool.

And so I have to stop and ask myself, first and foremost, as I organize my life and budget my time -- is God the thing that gets top billing? Is He -- and is His will -- my top priority? Do I consider Him before making major decisions?

My little junket (OK, major junket) back into journalism is going to cost me a major time commitment and is causing me to make some major priority decisions. I have to decide how to care for Dave during this and what (if any) childcare to use. These are hard, hard decisions.