may tuition update

may was a long month. a very long month for this girl. i think may always seems long, every year. between spring busyness [let me hear you shout weddings!], general anticipation for summer, and the whole 31 day thing, it's just long. add working more than ever, teaching 37 kids for three days, and waiting for some very important news all month to those and you'll get a very. tired. lisagrace.

i could go on about how stressful life has been this past month, but i don't want to bore you. oh, and the important news? look for that in the next post. and no, for the last time, i'm not pregnant! : )

but hey! it's june. and all of the above has been resolved, so life is on the up and up.

because of lots of extra work for me [and triple paycheck month-love those!] and bryan starting his job at fareway, we set a hefty savings goal of $1,200.00. i'm happy to say we did that and $17.95 more! less than 75% to go!

tuition for 2011-2012 school year: $9,654.00
savings at the end of may: $2,517.95
difference: $7,136.05
percentage saved: 26.08%
percentage left to save: 73.92%

if you have a little extra time, here's a funny student loan story, this is why i'm so glad God has given us so much wisdom with our finances. they make it so easy to take out more than you need in student loans!

at the end of april, we officially filed the paperwork to apply for $5,500 worth of unsubsidized stafford loans. we're certain we won't need any more than that for the upcoming school year and are hoping we don't need any of it, obviously, but it's a just-in-case precaution. we were approved for quite a bit more than that, but we were careful to cancel all the other loans. when you fill out your paperwork, they automatically assume you want the maximum amount you were approved for so you have to cancel the ones you don't want. isn't that silly?

anyway, a couple weeks ago, we got a check in the mail. a $6,200.00 check. just a check that said something about a refund on the memo, no note, no explanation, just a big fat check. we've never taken out student loans before, so i thought, maybe we're getting our loan for next fall early, but why and why so much? if it wasn't for the fall, then it was for this past year, and we didn't pay even close to that much with the scholarship that bryan got. why would we need more money after everything's done and paid for?

already long story short, i guess because we just filled out our loan paperwork, it activated a student loan we were approved for last year and they sent us a check! while buying a boat was tempting, we took that check straight to the financial offices and straightened it out. we didn't want to owe that much money later. : )


'member that time?

'member that time when my mom called my father-in-law white trash? to his face?! the first time they met?!

yeah, that was hilarious.

note: no in-law relationships were damaged in this 'member that time.

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]


baby bunnies!!!


so, we've had this big planting pot that I stole from my mom when we moved to iowa city. bryan informed me that the bunnies that live under our trailer had been nibbling on the weed that grows in said planting pot. well, we now know that it was actually a mama bunny scouting out a good place to birth her next litter.

so cute! we left our house around 2:30pm this afternoon and got back around 5pm and the bunnies were born! they quickly burrowed in the dirt to get warm after we got there but here is a video of them right as they were burrowing.



how do you say diabetes anyway?


she stayed at home


my mom always wanted to be a mom. seriously.

she wasn't even planning on going to college until someone told her that she wouldn't find a husband if she didn't go to college. her high school counselor told her she would never get into the university of illinois considering her low a.c.t. scores. how cute is that?  she got in though, she majored in elementary education and graduated college in 1982. she did meet my dad in college, thank goodness she found herself a husband!

starting in 1985, my mom had 6 kids in about 10 years. her dream of being a wife and mom became reality.  

one of the biggest and most important decisions she ever made was to be not just a mom but a stay-at-home-mom.

it wasn't a difficult choice for her, but it's a difficult choice for many women to make. but i do believe there are compelling reasons for staying at home.

let's take a look at the financial benefits to staying at home. i looked up current childcare costs in iowa today. childcare for 6 kids each from ages 1-5 (assuming public school starts at age 5 and not accounting for after school babysitting/programs) would be anywhere from $190,020.00-$234,816.00 which averages to be about $12,668.00-$15,654.40 annually.
now, the median elementary school teacher salary is currently $43,614.00 according to salary.com. i'm going to assume around 30% income tax, which is probably low because the second income would likely raise the income bracket. that puts us at $30,529.80 in annual income after taxes best case scenario. half of that would go to childcare.
now, if my mom would have chosen to work, there are a whole other slew of expenses that come with that. things like professional attire, two working and reliable vehicles, convenience groceries and items, more eating out, extra fuel, etc. etc. honestly, i wouldn't be surprised if in the end, they would have broken even. these are tough numbers to see, but i'm convinced that it just wouldn't be the wisest financial decision for my mom to have worked.

but it was so much more than a financial decision. my parents wanted us to be raised and nurtured by them as much as possible. they decided that the best way to do that would be to allow my mom to stay at home with us. they both wanted us all to know and love the Lord. they wanted to teach us Biblical principles and truths as much as possible. the investment of time, love, teaching, and rearing my mom deposited into us is priceless.

i could not be more grateful for the sacrifice my mom made by staying at home all these years. my little sister (the youngest) is 16 and my mom has just started to work again in the past couple of years. the investment, the love, the care, and the being there was and is the best gift she could ever give to me. i'm so thankful for my dad and his willingness and hard work to provide for 8 people. it wasn't easy, and we didn't have much.

after talking to my mom more about this, i learned that we lived in a two bedroom apartment until my little brother adam was born. adam is the fifth child. yep, you read that right. luke, levi and i all shared a room and mark slept in the walk-in closet connected to my parents bedroom as an infant. they bought their first house and we moved in 10 days after adam was born in 1992. how amazing is that?!

i honestly can't thank my parents enough for making this incredibly huge and sacrificial decision. it was worth it! the values that they instilled in me are life-lasting. i credit my mom and dad greatly for my dream to be a stay-at-home mom.

and you know what is the most encouraging thing about all of this? my mom had fun! she loved her job as our mom and being the keeper of the home. she made life into a game by challenging her grocery budget. she relied on God to provide even the littlest things, like a baseball glove for my brother. and He always came through! she had fun watching God do sweet things showing Himself strong on her family's behalf.

i think this is my last what would ami do? post. this summer i'm going to be writing about bryan and i's financial journey over the last 2+ years. our financial goals and plans have a lot to do with our desire for me to stay at home with our kids when the time comes. you'll be hearing more soon!

i'll leave you with a two encouraging videos about motherhood. the first is the first 3 minutes of a q&a with mark and grace driscoll. the second is a mother's day message from veritas by mark arant.


am i losing it if i...

accidentally and unintentionally purchase a car wash with my gas?
can't figure out how to start the gas at a gas station i'd never been to?
can't hear if the gas is pumping into my car or not, so i gently pull out the pump and thus spill gas all over myself?
was late to work?
spent 45 minutes grocery shopping at fareway only to get to the checkout line without a wallet?
get out to my car after apologizing profusely to the fareway employees, find my credit card sitting there and run back in to purchase said groceries?
after staring at two different gallons of milk in fridge for about a minute, i decide they are both skim and pick one, only to find out the next morning that the one i chose was whole milk?

all of the above happened in a very short period of time.

thankfully, i'm in ames right now, teaching geography to 7 year olds. even though i'm teaching from 8-5 and working a little from 5-8ish (that's a 12 hour day), it still feels like a vacation. how sad is that?

yeah, i'm probably losing it. : )


'member that time?

congratulations julie

'member that time i got married to my best ever friend exactly two years ago? 'member how i bawled my eyes out like the entire time?

'member how i was so disoriented and happy after the wedding that as we were dismissing our guests i was congratulating them?

yeah, that was freakin' cute.

happy anniversary to me!!!!

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]


homemade drop spindle

on wednesday, my knitting friend shea and i went to a drop spindle spinning class at the cutest local craft store, home ec workshop. here's what we made:


it's called a drop spindle and it's used for spinning wool into yarn. pretty cool, huh?

well, i don't know if spinning my own yarn is for me [i'm horrible at it] but it's fun to try new things! we have two more weeks of the class, hopefully i'll get better. if i get decent enough at it, feel free to call me a regular old spinster.

drop spindles come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, so we made our own out of a dowel, a hook, two cds, a grommet and some binder clips.



has steve martin just always had white hair?

steve martin


she didn't vaccinate


okay, readers. before you read this post, i just want to say that i'm not really a research kind-of gal. and i'm not having kids of my own right now, so i don't really have any reason to research vaccination. if you are looking for a post full of venn diagrams and pro and con lists, please look further. : ) because this is a "what would ami do?" and it's simply about what ami did. and she did not have any of her six children vaccinated.

i did interview my mom, so i guess that counts as research. here's what i asked her:

lg: what were your main influences in your decision not to vaccinate us?
ami: my main influence was Dr. Robert Mendelsohn's book How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of your Doctor. Dr. Mendelsohn was a pediatrician for several decades and he became convinced that vaccinations were causing more harm than good.

lg: what was the primary reason you decided not to vaccinate us?
ami: it just didn’t make sense to me to inject disease among other things into a vulnerable newborn’s bloodstream, especially when most of the diseases were pretty benign like mumps and measles, etc.
also, Dr. Mendelsohn had a theory that auto immune diseases were going to increase because we were overriding our natural immune responses with forced immune responses thus compromising our immune systems.

lg: did you have any fears about that decision?
ami: yes. even after all my research i had to carry all the "what-if's" through to their end and trust God with the results. the scariest for me were polio and tetanus but in the end i felt you were better off without them. your dad and i were always in agreement with these major decisions.

those were my burning questions for my mom and they encouraged me. i hope they encouraged you.

i know there are so many ways of thinking about this topic. i know there are so many factors, so many fears, so much research involved, so many opinions to listen to. i know it's not an easy decision either way.

but it is a choice, and i know that it's not often presented as such. if your doctor tells you to do it, you do it. that's the way it works oftentimes. my encouragement is to at least do your research. understand what is in the vaccination shots. understand that there will be consequences to both choices. and ultimately, trust God. He loves you and your children [or future children in my case] and He will take care of you as you need! He is good, all the time.

all six of us duvick kids were really healthy children and are really healthy adults. to this day, i've never had a vaccination.

a while ago, i wrote this post. if you read it, if hope you know that every mom i know is an awesome mom. i don't personally know any mom that wouldn't do everything in their power to keep their child happy, healthy and safe. so be encouraged!



'member that time?

'member that time when bryan [my husband bryan, if the last post confused you] nicknamed me "sammy" in high school and i knew we were finally friends because i had a nickname from him?

'member how i made him and the other brian a pie once and he named me "pie master sammy" otherwise known as p.m.s.? 'member how he called me pms for like two years until a certain someone slapped him and told him not to call me that anymore?

'member how bryan then started calling me lisagrace and i was all like, whoa, he totally likes me now and then he asked me out like a month later?

if you want your girlfriend to know you like her, i wouldn't recommend calling her pms under any circumstances.

happy anniversary month to me!

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]


rice pack tutorial


in honor of homebirth, here's a wonderful craft that is useful in many ways. i love using mine to ease back and neck aches and my mom uses something similar to help moms during labor. here's how to make it [with pictures!]:

step one: cut two 12"x7" rectangles from your fabric of choice. you can use whatever you have, but i chose flannel because it's nice and soft, yet sturdy.

step two: with right sides together, line up fabric. sew around the edges using 1/2" seam allowance and leaving a 4" opening at the top.



step three: cut corners


step four: turn right side out, making sure to push all four corners out all the way



step five: fill pack with rice. it doesn't matter what kind you use as long as it's not instant! as you can see [above] i used exactly three cups. you don't want it to be super full. if you're making a different size pack, you can see [below] that i filled it a little over half full.


step six: top stitch over the opening.


directions for use:

microwave pack for 1-1.5 minutes and use as needed!

this pack pits perfectly in the small of my back and also fits well underneath my neck. you could also try putting lavender or something similar inside to give it a nice aroma.

happy crafting!



should i switch to wordpress?

this is actually not a rhetorical question. i just read this blogpost, and not that i'm going for the gold quite yet with blogging, it got me thinking. and then, blogger was shut down last night, so i couldn't post my tutorial bright and early this morning, which was slightly inconvenient. thoughts? suggestions? tips?

trivia? jokes? witty remarks?


she homebirthed


so, homebirth.

sounds a little weird, right?  maybe you're thinking at this point that my mom really is crazy with her onion juice in our ears and obsession with water and sleep.

as i said before, my mom was never dead set on homebirth from the beginning.

my aunt, my mom's older sister invited her to her third child's birth. at home. my mom was there and supportive. she thought, that's cool, but i won't do that.

when she was pregnant with my oldest brother, she started reading. she read about 10 different books on the subject of birthing and she became convinced that birthing at home was the best choice for her. when i was talking to her about it, one thing she said stuck out to me. she said that she felt that birth wasn't a disease to be managed  but a natural thing that women were made to do. a pediatrician and author, dr. mendelson was one of her main influences. he wrote a book called how to raise a healthy child in spite of your doctor which was also an influence in deciding not to vaccinate her children.

it was after she researched and found a great midwife that she fully decided on having a homebirth. my mom would say that getting connected with the midwife, claudia that delivered most of us was a total God-thing. her sister's midwife did her training with claudia and connected her to my mom. this really solidified her decision.

another reason her decision was solidified was an unpleasant experience with a doctor during a check-up. my mom's midwife had encouraged her to see a doctor in case of an emergency during the birth, it's always good to have a back-up plan. so my mom saw a doctor after making the decision to homebirth. unfortunately, the doctor she saw was not at all understanding or helpful. she had simple requests in the case of a hospital birth, like getting to hold her baby right after it was born instead of having it taken away right away. he just said, i don't know where you're getting your information, but you're wrong and that's not how things work.

so, my mom had six successful homebirths, some better than others. i know my little brother adam gave her the hardest time and she was on bedrest for several weeks after he was born. alyssa, who was coincidentally the biggest child at 11lbs. 4oz., was her shortest labor-she was born in just a little over an hour!

i remember sleeping on top of my dad on the couch after alyssa was born. it was so cool to see my baby sister in my parents room the morning after she was born.

i know it's very counter-cultural to think about having a child at home and not in a "safe" environment like a hospital. but my mom really considered her options and decided that home would be the safest option for her. she was able to labor as she desired and progress naturally and she had great help and support from her midwife, my dad, my grandma and others! she never felt scared or regretted her decision to birth at home.

and i just want to say, that she's amazing because she gave birth to six enormous children. i was the smallest at 9lb. 8oz!

homebirth is definitely not for everyone and i in no way want you to read this blog and think i'm saying that this in the only right way to have a baby. but it's often not even considered an option. i do think that this is not something that was just done in the eighties when my mom was having kids and it is a safe option to be considered.

so, i'm sure you're all wondering, will i have homebirths? well, maybe. i'm not pregnant and i have no idea how i'll feel about being pregnant and birthing a child when i am. so, i'm not expecting any such commitment from myself about these matters. and that's the great thing about my mom, she'll be there cheering me on either way!

and also, here comes the shameless plug...my mom is a doula now and loves it! she's so great at helping others have natural childbirths. if you're looking for a great doula in the central iowa area, you can email her at:
greatbeginnings123 @ gmail.com [remove spaces]


'member that time?

'member that time i dated this one guy named brian? 'member how he broke up with me and then like 10 months later i started dating his best friend who was also named bryan? 'member how i got married to the second bryan and the first brian was in our wedding along with another dude named bryan? and 'member how one of my bridesmaid's husband's name was also brian?

try to keep that straight.

happy anniversary month to me!

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]


whoa there heart, stop attacking me.

sorry for the blogging hiatus!

i've just been so spectacular at blogging lately, that my brain decided to shut off and i couldn't even muster up the creativity to blog this past week.

i'm sorry for saying sorry about not blogging, i hate it when i read blogs that haven't been updated in months and then the writers are just all casually like, "sorry, my bad. i'll do better next time." actually, i don't really care that much about it, i'm only refreshing my google reader every 15 minutes to read what you have written.

who am i talking to?

anyway, reader, let's have a little heart to heart. because i need to vent. not vent in a mean, scary, judgmental way. i don't like it when bloggers do that either. but i need to vent because i know that at least a couple of you actually read this things because you care about me and my well-being. and while i love to be all whit and charm on here, i don't want you thinking i've got it all pulled-together and such. 

i'll make it quick:

i'm stretched a leeeeettle too thin right now. i need to be better at saying no to things. i say yes to everything.

just so you know, moving to iowa city has been the most incredible thing i've ever done, but this has been the hardest year of my life, and i'm just now admitting it. the hardship, the tears, the lonliness, the heartache has all been worth it though, because i really feel like i need God. not that i haven't needed Him my whole life, but my amazing churches have made it really easy to walk with Him. and right now it's not easy to walk with Him because i'm literally clinging to Him as if He's all i have.

my heart has been absolutely ripped apart by stories of infertility and coincidentally, adoption. i literally burst into tears just thinking about it. i don't even know what else to say, except that i believe this is something that God has laid on my heart for a reason.

bryan and i have some important decisions coming up in our future about where we're going to serve and have fellowship in our church. there are issues that we have trouble getting on the same page about, please pray for us, that we would be unified and honor God with our decisions.

all of the above is making my heart ache with anxiety and longing and discontentment. i'm getting more and more dependent on God as this goes on, which is good. but i'm praying for God's peace as well.

thanks for caring, thanks for reading. the cutesy, charming, funny blogging will be back in no time.


'member that time?

'member that time when i decided i wanted to switch to gmail, because of it's awesomeness and betterness than yahoo and whatnot? 'member how i had been dating bryan for about 9 months and decided, well hey, we're probably getting married, so why don't i just make this thing permanent? so 'member how i created a gmail account for lisagracealsbury @ gmail.com without actually knowing that i was for sure going to marry bryan, because it's not like we'd talked about it or anything?

yeah, i'm glad that worked out for me.

happy anniversary month to me!

[it's 'member that time monday at the van voorst's blog!]