Sunday, November 14, 2010

On My Own

How is it possible to attend a church of a few thousand people and be friendless? How is it possible to be a part of such a large ministry as we are for so long, and still be so lonely? How is it we can attend a Sunday School fellowship where more than 50 adults were present, and have no one to talk to? How can I have 347 Facebook friends, and of the handful that I would count true friends, none of them live anywhere around me?

I'm so alone, and I'm so tired of being all alone. Periodically I work myself into a nice well of self-pity and feel I could just drown in it. Around the holidays is usually the worst. I love people. I love to socialize. I love to have my home full of people, and around the holidays when fellowship is such a major theme, I have no one to fellowship with. I have many people who will paste on her smile and say "hi" to me as we pass at church, and she'll "pay her respects" when we are at a gathering together, but I have no one who I feel I could comfortably invite to my home. A Pampered Chef party is one thing, because not much fellowship is required at such gatherings. But for once, I would like to know how it feels to have some ask how I'm doing and believe that they really care to know.

The nice thing is that my children are unaffected by such snubbery. I watched my daughter openly play with the children of those who find me beneath them, and was thankful that these adults were able to allow children to be children. Oh, to be so young and carefree. To not even understand that other people wouldn't want to be friends with you. My daughter sees any child, whether at church, at the park, or at the store and she starts telling me that they are her friends. If I didn't have children, I wouldn't even have the few "friendly" acquaintances that I do have. My children are my only common ground with so many of the people around me.

Then there comes my husband. He is often times the only friend I have, but he's so busy and burdened most of the time. There are so many trivial things that I would like to just be able to talk to someone about, but since they're not of any great significance or importance, I feel I shouldn't be bothering him with such things. Even the author of "Created To Be His Helpmeet" says as much in her book. So then, who am I to turn to?

I have my mother and my one true friend Jen, but each, like myself, is so busy with her own children that phone conversations are difficult and more stressful than they are relaxing. If only we were closer together and could take our kids to a park where they would be entertained while we tried to talk with each other.

I know Christ needs to be my all in all, and I do try to remember that. But even at creation, God made Eve for Adam because it was not right for him to be alone. God recognized that humans needed the fellowship and friendship of other humans. I will continue to endeavor to make God my all, but as our relationship with God is often a reflection of our earthly relationship with humans, I often struggle in this area. The more deserted I feel by those humans around me, the more deserted I feel by God. When my husband doesn't have time or energy to listen to me, I feel God doesn't have time or energy to listen to me. When my mother (because my dad was never a good comparison to the role of my heavenly Father) doesn't have is distracted when I'm talking to her, giving a feeling of disinterest, I feel that God is too busy and distracted to listen or care for me as well.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What can I give... Poor as I am?

After 2 1/2 years of dating and 4 1/2 years of marriage, I think my husband and I have only exchanged Christmas or birthday gifts only once--maybe twice. There was always something else that we had to spend money on. Christmas gifts and birthday festivities were an unnecessary expense. However, one thing I've always like to do at Christmas time is to participate in an Angel Tree giving program. You know, those Christmas trees set up at Sam's or Walmart with an angel hanging on it that tells you to buy a gift for a 6-year-old boy or a 76-year-old lady? I think last year was the first time in several years that I didn't do one of those trees. I've always loved to give to others--sometimes to my detriment. I can't always afford to give, and so have had to learn (often times the hard way) that I shouldn't spend the money if I don't have it. However, I think it is important to give to others. Especially now that I have young children, I want them to learn to give with compassion and to realize that while they have needs (and wants) there are other children elsewhere with those same needs and desires--and that some of those children have even greater needs than my own do. Ultimately, I want them to see the needs of others as opportunities to minister the Gospel. We will not be having a Christmas this year because we will be making a very important trip to see some of my family members who may not make it to another Christmas. But in spite of that, I want to still participate in a giving program.

I have found a Christian organization that I would like to participate with this year (and in the future) and would like to encourage others to do the same. The ministry is called Operation Christmas Child and is operated by Samaritan's Purse International Relief. What you are to do is fill a shoebox full of items for a child, download a label for the box, and then drop the box off at a designated location during the week of November 15. For many of my friends, this program may end up costing you only the shipping donation of $7 that is requested to help cover the cost of shipping packages. Many of my friends have stocked up on supplies through coupons and sales, and have many free items that they could place in these shoe boxes for these children. I know many people place mounds of presents under their Christmas trees for themselves, their children, and for visiting family members. We're blessed if we have one gift under our tree each year, and these children in these hurting countries will be doubly blessed to have a shoe box placed in their hands this year. Along with these boxes goes the Gospel, as that is the heart of this ministry. These children will be handed a gift, and with that gift of love placed into their hands, it will be much easier for them to accept God's gift of love into their hearts.

Along with the list placed on the website of suggested items to put in the box, I thought of some other items that could easily fit in a shoe box and would be exciting for a child (specifically a girl) to open up. At this time of year we should be able to get flip-flops for less than $2/pair. Many of these kids would love to have shoes! Another inexpensive item could be a pillowcase dress. And along with that I thought it would be fun to place a doll in the box wearing a matching pillowcase dress. These are just a few ideas, and there are some more listed on the OCC website. How great it would be to be a part of such a ministry to others!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Market Monday

Wow! What a l-o-n-g day. It was prefaced by a long night of one restless 2-year-old, and one sleepless 7-month-old, ending in one tired Mommy! It didn't help that the real feel today was at least 104! The baby woke up at 8, I nursed her, and we hit the stores. We started with gas, since we had none in the car...literally. I put over 17 gallons in a 17 gallon tank. I took one lump picture of my trip today, but will still give a bit of a breakdown. (I don't want to get too detailed because I'm ready for bed!)

My first stop was Walgreens where I did three transactions. I took advantage of each of their "free" items listed on the front page of their ad. So I came out with 2 bottles of vitamins (had a q, so paid $9 and got back $10RR for each), 1 box Crayola markers, 3 one-subject notebooks, 3 packs of index cards (still go through them almost as quickly as we did in college!), 1 bottle of contact solution, and a 24-pack of Crayola crayons. I paid oop (out-of-pocket) $13.97 and walked out with $10RR.
OOP
: $13.97
Total without sale: $
50.33
Saved: $36.36
RR: $10

I then stopped at CVS to get the Austin crackers that were on sale 10/$10. I had 4 - $1/2 q's, so I paid $.50/pack. I also invested in a green tag for my bag so I can start making money off of using my reusable shopping bags. So my total came to $5.07.
OOP: $5.07
Total without sale: $
15.31
Saved: $10.24
ECB: $0

Sam's was on my hit list, but the savings there aren't the same. But I got items that I never see on sale and/or never see coupons for and/or are still cheaper at Sam's against even the best sales prices I've seen. So I spent $41.49 there. (Items not pictured)
OOP: $41.49

Then we paused to feed and change the baby and have lunch with Daddy. Then we hopped over to Winn-Dixie. My main objective there was the Ritz Crackerfuls (which Southern Savers had had me hopeful of getting for free at Walgreens, but they weren't included in the sale). I got a box of these for $1.50 a few weeks ago, and LOVED them! So I ordered coupons online and collected a few more from swaps, and got some crackers! I'll have to hit another Winn-Dixie tomorrow, because the one I went to was out of the flavor I like. I picked these up for $1/box! I also went for cream cheese, since I could live off of the stuff, and they had it 10/$10. I also wanted to take advantage of the B2G1 M&M coupon from yesterday's paper along with their BOGO sale, but they were out of peanut M&M's. So I'll try another WD tomorrow, or get a rain check. I picked up 2 Sara Lee pound cakes with some q's to go along with the lasagna and garlic bread that I got for dirt cheap last week. (Now all I need is a salad and I'll have a meal for $10 people for under $10!) So, as of the moment:
OOP: $13.73
Total without sale: $
42.55
Saved: $28.82

And last, but not least, Publix. May I once again say how much I LOVE the service at Publix! When I was at WD, I had both girls with me and was having trouble getting my cart maneuvered and things out of my cart because I had the carrier in the cart, and there were three workers standing there watching me struggle, and not one offered any assistance. I know from multiple experiences at Publix that each of the three people would have not only offered, but would have done something to help if I'd been in that store. However, I did not like the Publix I was in today. Not because of the service, but because of the set-up. After Winn-Dixie, we picked my sister up and took her to the doctor. While she was there, we shopped at the Publix across the street. I have to say that that store has the most retarded setup I've ever seen in a store! It was very frustrating! But I still made it through, a bit flustered, but still managed to find most of what I was looking for, and save money!
I was working on getting the ConAgra rebate for the $10gc to Publix. So I got a few "new" things for us to try, and then got some ketchup to stash (since my 2-year-old thinks everything must be eaten with ketchup!). I won't bore you with all the details. But I will share some highlights. I used my $10RR from Walgreens, a $5/10 items ConAgra q, a $1.50/4 items ConAgra q, and tons of other coupons. I have a picture showing my great deals with more details there!
OOP: $44.48
Total without sale: $
147.06
Saved: $102.58


Here's my overall picture of my shopping trip:

And my great buys!
I got both boxes of Juicy Juice for $.80. The Ritz Crackerfuls, as I mentioned, were $1. The vitamins and contact solution are technically free. (I technically got paid $1 for each bottle of vitamins.) The juice I got for $.50/ea. (This means $.50 for 40oz of juice!) The Austin crackers for $.50/ea, and the baby food (the pouches) for free. So for everything in this picture I paid $18.80.

So, totals today:
OOP: $118.74
Saved: $178.00

Friday, July 30, 2010

Unburdening

I just need to unburden some weight from my shoulders. I don't want to do it via my Facebook status, because although other people read my blog, I don't feel as if I'm letting the whole world know on here like I do on Facebook.

For the last week I have been drying my clothes outside, and while this is a nice eco-friendly thing to do, the real reason I'm doing it is to try to save some money somewhere. By two weeks into the month we were out of money. We had gas money left, but that ran out a little over a week ago, and so I have been home-bound since Sunday. I don't understand what goes wrong every month. We seem to keep cutting back on expenses and somehow keep having less and less money. We did have some medical expenses pop up this month, and since we can't keep our heads above water for normal expenses, we definitely don't have the saving account that we should have. I've reverted to doing dishes by hand as well, instead of using the dishwasher. I hate doing dishes. But, oh well. I'd love to get to the point where I'm stockpiling groceries and necessities so that we're not spending so much on groceries each month, but I can't even get us enough food to last us a month, let alone stockpile. Sometimes I struggle with being annoyed that my husband gets fed good food for lunch at work--all you can eat--while I may completely skip breakfast and lunch because there is nothing to eat or because if I eat something it means I won't have enough to feed my daughter for the rest of the week. How did we do this to ourselves? Thankfully, we are now credit-card free so we can't dig a bigger hole. But it was nice having that cushion when we got ourselves in sticky situations like this. But because we took advantage of that cushion too often (and because doctors charge WAY more than they need to) we are stuck in this deep abyss, and it seems we will never get out. I was discouraged yesterday when I read a magazine article about a couple who did what we've done and took the step to get rid of debt entanglements, and it took them thirteen years to get out of debt! Why did I so naively think that by cutting up the cards the debt was going to start going away? If only that were so. But to think that we could be stuck in this situation for the next thirteen years while we try to dig ourselves back out was almost depressing.

While the financial issues have been a burden, in a small way they have been a blessing. They have forced me to do tasks which help me feel more domesticated--like hang drying laundry. Silly, I know, but tis true.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Market Monday

Well, this past week we were scrounging for pennies, but I had another ironing job come in, so was able to make a little bit of money. Enough to pick up some essentials! Here's what I picked up over the weekend and this morning.

My new best shopping trip! This is the first time I got paid to shop! I made $2.50! I had ordered $0.75/1 Target Q's online, and a few more of the toothpaste MQ's to go with the ones I already had. So, six thing of toothpast at $1.00/ea, and I had $8.50 in coupons!


The deodorant was a necessity for me and a preference for my husband. I had $1/1 coupons, and a $10 Target gift card that we got for getting a new prescription there a few weeks ago when DH was sick. So I guess technically, we didn't pay for this deodorant. But it totaled $5.70 for five sticks. Not bad.


So, what can you get for $5? Today I had to go get bread because we missed the bread store before it closed the other day. Due to my daughter's allergies, Nature's Own Whitewheat is the primary brand we buy. I pick that up for $.99 at the bread store, and today I got Nature's Own bagels for $.50/ea. One pack was the bagel thins that I've been wanting to try for sandwiches. Then I swung over to Publix to get my free Chef Boyardee (that I definitely will not eat, but it was free, so I figured I cold give it to someone.) I've also been out of bodywash for a few days, and was able to pick up two for $2 today.
...Okay, so I just double checked my receipt, and I ended up paying $.56 for the Chef Boyardee, and $1.50 for the soap. Oh, well, it will make a cheap thing for a college student or for a food drive.


We also picked up this weekend 4 Oral-B toothbrushes for DH (he didn't like the hi-tech one I got for free a few weeks ago) for $2 and 2 Tombstone pizzas (that didn't last long enough for a picture!) for $1.97. A poor substitute for the Domino's pizza I've been craving, but much cheaper!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Taking a Break

Well, last night was the first time in six weeks that I didn't have the dragon of packets to grade breathing down my neck! (I grade Advanced Math packets for a correspondance school.) In an effort to pay for vacation I've been working super hard to grade as many packets as possible in the last month. Well, yesterday was the pay cutoff, and boy am I glad. Our whole family has suffered as a result of me working so hard. I've had to stay up late most nights to get the packets done, as it's a lot easier than trying to do it with two girls wanting to sit in my lap! Froggy still wakes up about twice a night, and in the middle of the month, everyone but me got sick, so everyone had poor sleep. I've been crabby with the girls and DH, and poor Monkey has probably suffered the worst. Correction has not been consistent as I've either been too tired to deal with her or so crabby that I knew I wasn't in the right attitude to correct her. So, now we have a monster. But hopefully that will be curbed in the next few weeks. Now that this weight has been removed from my shoulders, I can concentrate on getting my house and home back in order, bring my daughter back into subjection, and get packed for vacation (where everything will blow out of the water again!).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Market Monday


So, I'm a few days late. I hate this time of the month. We get two weeks into the month and have to food or money left in the house. The whole coupon thing is suppose to help save money, but the idea is to create a build, but I can't even scrounge up enough money to get us through the month, let alone create a build!

The raid was a necessity, and I had GREAT coupons on that. All of this cost me less than $4! One can of raid alone was $3.98. So overall, this is probably one of my best shopping trips when you look at the numbers. The next is pretty close, though.


I couldn't do my "Monday Market" because I was doing ironing for someone to earn the money to buy some groceries. These are some stock-up items I got. There are 17 items and I paid just over $18. So again, one of my best trips when you look at the numbers.

I'd love to write more on other topics, but I'm beat. Baby girl is getting her fifth tooth in two weeks, and I'm tired!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


Daddy's good little nurse.


And the oral temp, because Mommy wasn't to sure about the temporal scan.



Waiting....

...this one takes WAY too long.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Market Monday - Coupon Organization

Well, since we've been out of grocery money since our main shopping trip of the month, I don't necessarily have a shopping post to write. So I thought I would share my newest method of madness. The organization of my coupons has been a great frustration to me. I read a few posts through some other blogs recently that gave me some ideas of how others organize. So, using some of those ideas as guidelines, I customized them to suit my person preferences. So people's ideas still sounded like too much work to me. Personally, I don't feel I use enough coupons to spend the 10 hours+ a week that I've been spending trying to clip and organize, not to mention the hours I've put in trying to figure out what to buy. Here are some pictures I took (because I'm a visual person) of what I'm going to try for the next few weeks. I'm liking it already as I spent almost no time organizing coupons yesterday, and my table and counter are now cleared of sales ads and coupons!

First, I have my folders.

The big one is for my sales ad and coupon organization.

The first tab is for resources (which I'm considering changing to restaurants). This is where I keep the grocery aisle layout, my scissors (which I just picked up my free pair at CVS instead of what's pictured), a list of couponing websites that I got in my coupon class, and hopefully I'll pick up a cheap calculator with back-to-school sales.

I then have individual tabs for Sunday ads and Wednesday ads. Then I have a tab for "All You" coupons, P&G, Red Plum, and Smart Source. Because I really don't use most of the coupons I get, I was getting annoyed with clipping and organizing, just to go back through my folder a few weeks later to pull all of the expired coupons. This was taking up a great deal of time for me, and was pretty much a waste of that time. So what I've done now is staple all of the coupons together by group. After reading the articles that I like in "All You" I pulled all of the coupons from the magazines, alphabetized them, pulled the list from the magazine as to what coupons are there (which I forgot to do before taking the picture), stapled them together, and wrote the date at the top of the front page. For each of the newspaper inserts I simply tore the pages apart, pulled out the filler pages, and then stapled them together and wrote the respective source and date on the front page of each. From what I've read, there's a list on the internet somewhere of what coupons are suppose to be in each of the newspaper inserts each week. I'm going to find that list, print it out, and staple it with my inserts so I know what is in there. And then, an idea I got from another blogger, I'm going to cross off coupons as I use them so I don't go looking for something I already used.

I then have tabs for Publix flyers. Anything for Publix that I pick up in the store will go in this slot.

and one for store coupons. This includes Publix, Target, K-Mart, Walgreen's, etc. coupons that are not manufacturer's coupons.

Then I have my organized, alphabetized coupons. I got baseball card sleeves at Walmart. It was a pack of 35 sleeves for around $6...cheaper than going to a card-trading store. I currently don't have a binder for these, just a ring clip that my husband had in his stash of stuff from college. I'm actually like this for now because I don't have the huge amount of coupons that some have. This way I can keep my coupons in my folder and just carry that, rather than carrying a binder with open ends. This way my coupons are contained, and it doesn't take up too much space in my cart. (Space is precious and valuable when you do your shopping with two little ones. If I leave the baby in the carseat, I usually push one cart and pull another behind me. But usually I wear her, and she can also now sit up in the "car" grocery cart with her sister.) I love having my things alphabetized...I'm actually a little OCD about it. The problem I have found with this system is that I have to go through and shift coupons around when I get new ones because, even though I left blanks on the page for coupons, I still have to rearrange them so that everything stays in order. This get frustrating to me, so then I end up with mounds of alphabetized coupons on my counter that don't land in the sheet protectors. But I'm going to start putting DH to work on putting the coupons in the sleeves while I do my other work in the evenings. (I grade packets for a correspondence school after the girls go to bed.)


And here is what had been stacked on my counter waiting to go in the sleeves. They are now in a ziploc bag in my folder, so that I still have them with me when I go out.


Then I have my small folder. I've been doing this for a few weeks and really like this system. There is a slot for each individual store, and then one for ECB, RR, $Off, and Receipts. Since I do most of my shopping in one day, and just hit multiple stores, this has been very helpful. Before I go out I place the list for each individual store and the coupons for that list in each respective slot. That way, when I get to the store, I really only have to deal with my small folder. I still carry the big one in, just in case I need something from it. Then at the back of the folder I have my ECB, and RR so I don't have to keep them in my wallet. I also have a slot for $off coupons (eg. $5 off $20 purchase), although I never seem to get those printouts at Winn-Dixie or CVS. I also have my large Customer Care card and K-mart Rewards card in the very front, for those times that I run in and leave DH in the car with the girls, leaving my keys behind in the process. That way I don't have to run back out to the car for my rewards card.



This is my system for now. It may take a few months for me to decide what I think of it, but I thought I'd share with anyone looking for ideas. But also to get feedback from others to see what they think might work better, and to hear what they do with their coupons. Would love to hear feedback on this!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Somebody is on the move! And getting into everything. :)

First s'more! Part of our July 4 cookout.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sickness, July 4, and a Baby on the Move

Well, everyone here has been sick over the last two weeks, and the worst of it passed between Wednesday (my last post) and Sunday...I think. I managed to avoid getting sick, or so I thought. But as everyone, including my husband, seems to be on the mend, I think I'm starting to feel the sore throat coming on, and I've definitely had the runny nose today. :( Sadness. I don't want to get sick...I can't get sick. As my husband lay on the couch all day Saturday I told him to enjoy, because I don't get to sleep when I'm sick. I didn't mind him laying there. I understood how he felt. So now I'm overdosing on Vitamin C!

Sunday we stayed home from church since the girls' fevers had just broken the night before and they were both still pretty snotty nosed. We were going to skip fireworks. But in a moment of selfishness I decided that this only happens once a year, and we could handle keeping the girls out that late just this once. So we went, and both girls really enjoyed it. I grew up watching fireworks in the mountains, and now I get to watch them on the beach...well on the water. I had the baby in her Moby, so I stayed standing up and could see two different shows--one up close and one in the distance. I almost thought the show in the distance looked nicer. The fireworks looked more like pom-poms from a distance, rather than the colors raining down over your head as they do when you're up close. Both were nice, and I had a good time.

Monday my husband put together his Father's Day gift--a gas grill. I went and picked up a propane tank, and we enjoyed some burgers and s'mores. Very yummy! All day today I've thought it was Monday since my husband went back to work today. I was all ready to type up my Monday Market when I realized I'd missed it. I don't understand how all these mommies out there keep up with their blogs! I just can't seem to find the time, even when I have things I want to write about.

Well my six-month-old finally quit scooting and finally figured out the crawling. (I know I shouldn't say finally since she is only six months old, but she's been trying to figure it out for nearly a month!) I had many people warn me that life would get harder once she started moving, but I've actually been looking forward to it because now she can play with her sister a little more. But I realized this morning what the warnings were for. I'd forgotten how much one has to watch a crawler. With my oldest, everything was child proof. But now there's toddler toys that aren't necessarily safe for the baby to play with. So I'm currently trying to figure out a way to separate the toys and have a stash that's for my oldest to play with while the baby is sleeping. The baby also cut two teeth while she was sick last week, which I think was more of the cause of her waking up several times at night than her sickness was. It appears as if three more are sitting there ready to come in. I'm hopeful that she won't be as miserable with the others as she was with the first two. She got her upper canines in first, which are generally one of the more painful sets for them to get. My oldest child never really seemed phased by teething, so the misery my little one was in this week was a new experience for me. But as all babies do, she survived and got the teeth to prove it!

And I almost forgot to add the one of the greatest moments for me this weekend. I found a can of pumpkin on the clearance rack at Walgreens! I know, that sounds crazy. But I LOVE pumpkin, and have been so devastated that there hasn't been any pumpkin in stores since early November. Now I just can't decide what to do with it, because once it's gone, it's gone. Part of me wants to just eat it straight out of the can!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Poor, sick baby. :( This was a first ever for her. She's never just fallen asleep anywhere.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Toddler Tuesday

Well, with the girls being sick the last few days, I'm just dragging my feet in everything. Thankfully, last night I only got up four times...that I can remember! Hopefully they will be feeling better soon. A lot of people around us have had strep, but I don't think that's the case in our house, because there's barely been any fever. I'm pretty sure the toddler was having allergy issues, and the baby is teething. Last night I finally caved and gave the baby a pacifier because she'd already eaten twice in two hours. I knew she didn't really need to eat again. But I just felt if I'd made it 6 1/2 months I shouldn't need to give her a paci now...especially for how fussy she was as a newborn. But I gave it to her, she fell asleep, and I took it. So hopefully she still won't become dependent upon it.

I've had my Toddler Tuesday planned out for several days, which is why I'm still writing it a day late. I so enjoy reading other blogs for mommy ideas. So I thought, "Why not share some of the things I do with my kids. Someone might like my ideas!"

I've been amazed to read different emails and sites, as well as to hear from other parents, how children are expected to be developing at the age of two. There are two different extremes. Many of the children we know have been in daycare since they were six weeks old. Somewhere around 18months the parents start calling the daycare their child's school. The children are given worksheets to color, and begin training with their numbers and letters. When I found this out, I was all ready to drive to the textbook store and pick up all of the preschool books for my daughter because I didn't want her to get behind. But then I read things that indicate that the lessons my daughter's friends are getting at school are more age appropriate to a three year old. One Sunday I was talking with some ladies in our church nursery who has each been a kindergarten teacher at some point, and each of them told me that they get children starting kindergarten who don't know anything--no numbers, shapes, letters. I know this to be true, because I remember being the only kid in my kindergarten class who knew those same basics. So, what does my child really need to know now? What should I be doing to make sure she's not behind, but also make sure that I'm not pushing her to be ahead of what she needs to know right now. I was discussing this with one mother in order to figure out what books I would need to begin schooling my two year old. (All the while I'm wondering, "Is it really necessary to begin schooling her now?") This wise mother told me something that helped me relax. She said, "They're just babies, and they're going to be in school for at least fifteen years anyway. Why push them now?" I totally agree with her! I've also come to realize that, if I'm being a diligent mother, my daughter will still learn the things she needs to know before kindergarten without having any formal schooling.

This said, I would like to share some of the things I do with my children to help educate them. Some of these are things I have done since the day they were born. They may seem simple, (and I'm definitely not professing to be some type of child-educating expert!) but each little thing helps mold their minds. From the day my children were born I've named their body parts to them as I'm dressing them or giving them a bath. Another thing I've done is point shapes and colors when we're looking at objects or pictures. No, I don't expect my six month old to know her colors, but as a result her sister had an awareness that objects have colors and shapes at a very early age.

Recently I've been working with my daughter on the concept of sorting things by type. We've done a few fun things to help her understand.

Crayons - The other day my daughter was trying to put her crayons away and accidentally dumped the whole container of crayons. Rather than having her just put the crayons away, I sat down on the floor with her and put the pile of crayons in between us, and the container next to me. Then I asked her to hand me all of the green crayons. We then counted each green crayon as we put it in the container. We did this with each color. I saved gray for last since that was a color name she hadn't learned yet. It's simple, but through this "activity" she practiced her colors and numbers, learned a new color, and worked on sorting by types.

Letters - My daughter has this foam alphabet puzzle, and each row of letters is a different color. She loves putting the letters into the puzzle, and she's very good at it. When we're doing the puzzle together I will have her separate the letters by colors and then put the puzzle together one color at a time. As we put the puzzle together I'll tell her the name of the letter and the sound it makes. She does pretty well recognizing some of the letters and their sounds just through this activity, but I'm not pushing her into learning everything now. Through this activity she practices colors, letters, sounds, and even some shapes. She knows the "Q" because it is a circle with a stick. (I thought I had a picture of the colors separated, but couldn't find it, but at least you have a visual of what the puzzle is like.)



Groceries - My daughter likes to help put the groceries away. Yesterday I was organizing the food that we've purchased for vacation (enough for ten people for a week!), so I had her hand me the things as I wanted them in the cabinet. "Hand Mommy the cereal," and she found all of the cereals and brought them to me. "Now the crackers," and so on. It wasn't much of a sorting on her part, but it still helped her recognize the different items and separating them from others.

I know sorting may not be something overly important, but she has two OCD parents when it comes to sorting and organizing. So that's just something she's going to learn. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dry Erase Workbooks

This is a link to a great idea! Using page protectors to make re-usable workbooks (and word puzzle books) for you and your kids. The only "problem" I foresee is the kids hands getting inked if they swipe their hand across the page. My two-year-old would probably color the page just so she could wipe it off and get her hand colored at the same time. :)

PYP Blog: Dry Erase Workbooks

Life...

...is what happens when you're busy making other plans. (John Lennon) And isn't that the truth! I've been so wrapped up it trying to plan for vacation, plan a surprise birthday celebration for my sister, trying to figure out couponing and getting the best deals, and taking care of the girls, that I wasted my whole "vacation."
I got a three week break from grading packets as that area of the ministry was closed for staff vacations and training. I had so looked forward to those weeks. Although it would mean a significant gouge in our income, it would also mean a chance to go to bed before 10pm because I didn't have to stay up and grade after settling the girls down. It meant an opportunity to catch up on scrapbooking, make some cards, do some crafty things, catch up on around-the-house projects, catch up on Shutterfly and my blog, and be able to spend my evenings with Nathanael rather than he sit on the computer and I sit at the table grading. Let's see....nope! I didn't accomplish ONE of those other things that I had wanted to do in my "time off." Instead I spent my entire day and night (and sometimes even in my dreams!) looking at sales ads, clipping coupons, organizing coupons, reading blogs on how to best organize and use coupons, going to the stores and pulling blinkies, making shopping lists and menus, and getting excited about saving money! And I believe my work has paid off. I haven't finished totaling up this past month, but I do know that we saved a TON of money! It won't necessarily reflect that way in our bank account this month, but we should start seeing the savings reflected over the next few months. The big idea with coupons and sales is to stock pile and create a build. Then to maintain that build. Now I have a build of some items, and still need to create a build for others. But at this point I haven't bought peanut butter for several weeks, and still have enough for a few more weeks. I have 6 weeks worth of milk in the fridge, and by buying with the sales I paid less than half of what I would have paid at full price if I'd waited til I needed the items. So, overall, I'm pleased with my progress. Even though I know I still have some more work ahead of me before I really feel successful.
Now, today, I sit at home on yet another rainy day with two sick little ones. I think the toddler has allergy issues, and the baby has teething issues. So it's been a dark and dreary, mopey and whiny day around here. I'm trying not to get frustrated, but I have thought several times how nice it was as a kid that my sister was at school when I stayed home sick so that I had mom's undivided attention, rather than her trying to pamper two sick kids. I know there were times we were sick together, but my memories of being sick are always of me home alone with my mom.
So, what are some things we have done recently? We've volunteered at a local Christian camp the last few weekend helping with camp transportation and registration. The girls have enjoyed playing outside in the sprinkler a few times. I set up the beach umbrella along that back porch, put the baby in the walker (with shoes on, which she doesn't like) and we sit in the shade. But she does like getting wet, too! Yesterday the baby got her first (and last for a few more months!) taste of solids when she swiped a lettuce leaf off of my plate and started sucking on it. She is very grabby, and very quick! We haven't been to the beach in a while as the oil has come ashore. But my oldest keeps begging for the beach. We took the girls blueberry picking a few weeks ago, it was also my husband's first time going picking. He enjoyed the experience, but we all much better enjoyed the gallon of free berries that we were able to get at Publix! We plan to do a bit more picking so I can make some freezer jam. Much of what we already have in the freezer will be used for baking, and some will be for baby food. (I'm very excited about making my own baby food with this baby!)
Well, the baby's waking up, so time to sign off!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Freezer Jam

I'm going to try this recipe with the free blueberries I just got!

30 minutes to homemade sure.jell strawberry freezer jam recipe at kraftfoods.com

Tearing Down Idols

I am one who has always cared way too much what other people think of me. Many times I have brought myself to the point of bitterness and discontent because I was able to "keep up with the Joneses." I always wanted to be able to dress a certain way, but could never afford to. I would love to have my hair styled, but then you have to pay to get it trimmed frequently to keep it that style. I really do like jewelry, makeup, getting my nails done, having my eyebrows waxed, and I would love to know what it would be like to have a tan. But I never learned how to look feminine or how to do things for myself like my hair, nails, and eyebrows. So I sit here and wallow in self-pity far too often because I look like a dump and everyone else around me looks so...preppy.

There is one person in particular whom I have idolized since I came to college. She always had lots of friends (something I've never been very good at making), she is so vibrant and energetic, and is always dressed SO nice! In college I would dig through the mission barrel trying to find clothes like hers so I could dress like her (never happened). As we graduated and went on to stay in the area, we see each other often, and until recently I still struggled with envy. Recently, however, I've come to realize that while there may be times that I envy those around me, their appearance and possessions are not without sacrifice.

I can't count how many people have made such thoughtless comments as, "Is it really worth it?" (Referring to my being a stay-at-home mom.) In my mind I don't understand how there could be any doubt as to whether or not it is worth it! What I get out of what these people are saying (based on other conversations with these same people): "Is it really worth giving up cable/satellite tv? Having two new(er) vehicles? Being able to shop and buy clothes any time you want to? Purchasing something at every direct-sales party you're invited to? Going out to eat at least once a week? ...to stay home with your children?"And my answer is a very resounding, "YES!" In their minds, I am sacrificing a comfortable lifestyle in order to stay home with my children, and this is true. (I find it sad that so many Christian women have been roped into being full-time career women and part-time moms, rather than learning to make-do with the simple bare necessities of life. (This is a soap box that I have already drafted a whole other post about, but I can't decide whether I should really publish it!) ) In my mind, these women are sacrificing their children in order to live that comfortable lifestyle. I've been beating around the bush when answering this question to people with simple answers like, "We felt it was best for our family." Which is true. However, the other night when someone asked me if it was worth it, I answered what I've been wanting to say to everyone else around me, "It's worth it not to let someone else raise my children."

So what is the idol? And what happened to the one lady I mentioned earlier? She has been an idol to me. But there have been many thing that that lady has done in the last two years that have helped my eyes be opened to the fact that we are all still human, and we all make mistakes. She is one who can't take what she dishes out. Yes, she has lots of nice things, but many of those things have been obtained by greed. Yes, I'm being judgmental, but I get so frustrated when people who have boast about robbing those who are without. In my opinion, those who have two incomes and plenty of resources, don't need to be going to a mission that is giving things away to the needy just so that she doesn't have to pay for something! We live off of one income, and I still feel that I have been too blessed to go to a charity giveaway when there are so many others around me (especially here) who truly have needs! She is also one who feels she can be extremely blunt with others, and downright rude sometimes, but can't handle it if someone makes suggestions to her. I use to think I didn't mind her rudeness because at least I knew what she truly thought of me. But I've come to realize that she still possesses that glorious "Southern Belle" characteristic of saying one thing to your face, and another behind your back. There was one time she said something rather harsh (of course it was via the internet, so reading something doesn't always carry the same expression that may have come out face to face), and my husband just looked at me and said, "I really don't know what you see in her."

I'm not trying to tear apart someone's character exactly. This is more for me to reflect on and understand why I should not hold this person as high as I have in the past. We can and will continue to be good aquaintances, but I refuse to allow myself to sit here and wallow in self pity and jealousy because I am not just like her. I have been truly blessed. Our needs have been provided, and my husband really wouldn't like it if I looked all preppy anyway. It's just a hard thing where we are to not compare myself to all of the women around me. People with nice vehicles that run quietly, as opposed to a vehicle that causes many people to plug their ears as we're driving by. :) But we have nice, cold a/c! People with nice homes that fit their families and are nicely decorated. People who have bought clothes since graduating college (or highschool even). People who have health insurance. People who have the means to eat out on those nights they just really, really don't want to cook. But these are also the same people who, while in conversation in church nursery, can even answer a simple question about their child's development. One lady and I were talking one night, and she was telling me how the daycare had told her her daughter was kissing the boys. I asked if her daughter was scooting around yet, and her answer still makes my heart break as she replied, "I don't know. We're not really home long enough with her to know if she's moving around or not."

I am SO thankful that I know what is going on in my girls lives. I understand the little toddler talk, I know exactly how each is developing day-by-day. Nothing is worth sacrificing being the mother to my children.


comments posted:
Brandi said...

I love this and could have written it for myself, word for word, a few years back. Praise the Lord that He has brought me to a place of total contentment and peace at where He has me. I can now say I couldn't care less about where I buy my clothes, how old my car is etc....
Thank you for being so honest! This post will bless many.

Heather said...

Fabulous, Laurie! (My teacher heart is proud, and as a mom, I feel edified!) I totally relate to wishing sometimes for nicer clothes and I have been dying to get a pedicure, but I am so thankful to have at least the next year to stay home with my babies (I really need to pray that the Lord opens a way to make that a permanent thing even while Nathan's in school).

I have been thinking lately that the greatest advice I would offer to an engaged woman is to always live on one salary. That's what we did when we both worked at PCC. We never had a good cellphone plan (we just have a $10 extension on my parents' plan) and never had cable. By living frugally even when we could have afforded more, we didn't get trapped into thinking we just couldn't live w/o those things. Sadly, too many young couples spend every penny they have on luxuries they can't afford, so the wife's staying at home seems impossible.

That comment from the woman in the nursery is heartbreaking and exactly why I refused to get an 8-5 job. When we were in P'Cola, I worked part-time (we knew we'd be heading to seminary and needed to save the money) but heard a mom who worked full-time say she felt like all she did was feed her kids and put them to bed. I couldn't understand it because I could make a pretty good estimate of what her husband made and knew they could live on it if they really wanted to, or at least with her working part-time. I did just write a blog post about not judging other moms' choices (mostly thinking about how SAHMs spend their time), but I do think there is a time to objectively evaluate situations like that and say from a Christian standpoint that they are wrong, and not knowing your own kids is wrong.

I applaud you and your husband for being so wise! You never know, maybe your example will speak to some of those women you're in contact with and prompt them to make some changes!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Market Monday

When last week's sales ads came out I had determined not to even look at them because we were already out of money. But then I got the feed about free blueberries, and I just couldn't help looking over then entire ad. Over the last several days we have been nabbing free blueberries! Along with those we got a few other things that we just could not resist. I have been wanting to try Seventh Generation products as they are more environmentally friendly, safer for my home and family, and much nicer on my septic tank. (Clean up one backed-up septic mess, and you'll do everything possible to avoid doing it again!) Publix had them BOGO this week, and I had already ordered coupons for their products in anticipation of trying them. We were in need of dish soap anyway, so I nabbed some. Here are some pictures of our last few shopping trips.


and...
and...
...and three more things of blueberries that are not pictured.

So, all things considered, we have for this weeks spending:

11 pints of blueberries - 2/$3 on sale - $1.50/1 coupon = FREE
6 Almond breeze - $2.99 on sale - $1/1 MQ - $1/1 Publix Q = $.99/ea
4 Seventh Generation dish soap - $2.99 - BOGO - $1/1 MQ = $.99/ea
2 cantaloupe (because I got some last week and it was so good I couldn't resist!) = $1.99/ea
2 potatoes (to satisfy a craving [splurged]) - $1.09/lb = $2.26
*not pictured* (birthday gifts for my sister)
1 - 12 pack caffeine free Dr. Pepper - 4.00
1 Pillsbury funfetti frosting - 1.69

Coupon savings = 32.50
Total spent = 23.58

To me that total just doesn't sound as impressive as I would like, but when I look at the receipts individually, it looks pretty good. For example, the receipt for the second picture comes to $4.24. The milk in that picture alone, with no coupons, would cost me $7.38 at regular price. So, I didn't do too bad!

The third picture is from Flowers Bakery discount bread store. This past week the Nature's Own was $2.85 and BOGO at Publix--or $1.43/loaf. I got it $.99/loaf, the English muffins for $.50, and the crackers for $2. So all for $4.48--another receipt under $5!

Considering we had very little money left last week, and I still spent some, I REALLY need to avoid looking at sales ads this week!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Peach Cobbler Muffins with Streusel Topping

I shared this recipe on Facebook a few days ago, but decided to share it on here as well. Mainly so that I can find it when I want to use it again, since I'm bound to lose the copy I printed out! These were delicious! I actually made them using the blueberries that we picked last weekend instead of peaches. I also substituted whole wheat flour for half of the flour, and I didn't have pecans, so they got skipped. These were SO yummy! My husband love the crunchiness of the streusel on top. We will definitely be making these frequently. I just can't wait to get my hands on some decent tasting peaches. After growing up in peach country, it's hard to satisfy me with anything less than a fresh-picked peach!

Peach Cobbler Muffins

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups peeled, pitted, and chopped peaches (you can used drained canned peaches)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease 16-18 muffin cups.

In the mixer, mix the oil, eggs, and sugar. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour to the oil mix until well incorporated. The batter will be thick! Fold in the peaches. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Pecan Streusel Topping Recipe

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup pecans, finely chopped, optional
  • 4 Tbsp butter (or margarine), softened
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together all of the above ingredients. Fingers work best. Sprinkle a TBSP on top of each muffin before you bake!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Toddler Tuesday

So, I haven't done one of these in a while. I always think of things to share throughout the week, but when Tuesday rolls around, I can't remember many of the cute things my toddler did that week. These are just a few things from the last few days. I love these toddler moment, and watching her learn more about the world around her!

At a birthday party the other day, I saw signs that my daughter can be a bossy child! None of the other children were obeying, and she took it upon herself to walk around to each child and tell them, "No, no, Sweetie." And if they didn't stop it became a more forceful, "No, no." Or if someone fell, she'd help them up, "Ok, sweetie? You're fine." (As a side note here, I was SO proud of how well behaved she was that day. Especially in light of the fact that she was the only one obeying!)

Yesterday, Daddy was reading her a bed time story, and they were counting the puppies. She always gets stuck at three. Usually she counts "One, two, four, one, five six, seven..." Daddy was helping her count, and when she got to two, he asked what came next. She counted, "One, two,....yellow!" ....the doggies in the picture were yellow. :)

This morning we had a classic moment! My toddler loves to give the baby kisses, and keeps trying to kiss Baby on the mouth. Well, the baby had just finished nursing and was being burped when big sister came over for a mouth-to-mouth kiss. The baby got all excited and burped--spitting up right in her sister's mouth! I began to laugh, and my toddler just burst into tears (little Miss Drama Queen!). Poor thing. I was laughing and laughing, and she's crying and crying while I'm trying to wipe the puke out of her mouth. It took a while to get her to calm down. :)

A friend who recently moved away commented that she misses my big girl, and I replied that some days I'd almost be willing to ship her to Michigan, but then she does something cute and it makes up for all of the un-cute moments we had that day! We definitely have our share of those un-cute moments as she's struggling with selfishness and sometimes jealousy toward her sister. But I love my big girl!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Market Monday

Okay, from now on I'm planning to do my main shopping on Mondays. So here is what is intended to be the first of many Market Mondays. I'm still not convinced we're saving money, but as I total things up, compare prices to what I would have paid at Wal-Mart, and see at the end of the month how our spending match up to previous months, I'm hoping I will be more convinced! Along with my normal grocery shopping, I'm also stocking up for a week-long vacation in August when we will be staying at an extended-stay hotel with my husband's family and we will be feeding ten people each meal. So along with saving money for our household, I've enjoyed the challenge of getting food for vacation for as cheap as possible. My husband's family loves there snack food, soda, and desserts. How nice that those are typically the items you can get the best deals on! (As a side note--this is a matter of great frustration to me. Why is it that junk food, sugar-loaded cereal, and soda frequently have great sales and coupons, while healthy stuff sees fewer sales and even fewer coupons?!) We never buy soda for our home, and we rarely buy junk-food snacks, so any of those that you may see here are most likely for vacation.

So, my first store today was CVS. They had General Mills cereal 3/$10 with $4 ECB. So it made it like 2/$6 --comparable to Publix sale price.
General Mills Cereal - 3/$10
Coupons - $2.05
Spent - $7.95
Got - $4.00 ECB

Then I went to Winn-Dixie to get the meal deal, but changed my mind. I did want to get a $10/$50 print out so I bought two packets of taco season for $1 total--but sadly I didn't get a print out. So that trip was a waste of time and money. :(

Next I went to Publix. Here I struck gold! And may I just say I LOVE Publix customer service! One item I was getting didn't have a BOGO sign on it, so the guy went to check the sale for me and told me to continue my shopping and he'd find me to let me know if it was indeed on sale. When he found me he brought with him 4 bottles of the juice and asked if I wanted any more. I did, but I told him I was fine--I should have let him get me more, because when I went back to get it I had to climb up the shelves to do so! :) Later, as I was ready to check out, my toddler bumped her mouth on the cart and her lip started bleeding. So an employee grabbed a paper towel for her mouth and a sanitary wipe for the finger that my daughter would keep out of her mouth since it now had blood all over it. The employee then asked if I was ready to check out, pulled my cart up to the line, and unloaded all of my groceries for me! And of course when I was done, someone took my things out to the car and put them in the car for me while I got the girls settled in. Where else do you get such great service and still save money?! I still didn't walk away with free groceries, or getting paid to shop, but I still did pretty well I think. Especially since I'm still learning.
This may take me a while to type out as I have a six-month-old assistant in my lap!

6 Mott's Medley Juice - $3.07 BOGO - used $1/1 coupons from Publix Summer Savings
4 Mott's Tott's - $3.07 BOGO
1 Tombstone Pizza (not pictured) - $5.95 - had Q - purchase pizza and dorito's get free Mt. Dew
2 Dorito's - $3.99 BOGO
3 Mt. Dew - $1.57 B2G1 - one free with coupon, paid for one more, got the third free!
2 Almond Breeze - $2.99 - $1/1 Q from Publix flyer, $1/1 MQ
6 Yoplait - $0.50 - $.0.50/6 coupon
4 Nabisco crackers - $4.49 BOGO
6 General Mills Cereal - $4.09 BOGO - coupons
4 Ronzoni pastas - $1.39 BOGO
2 Craisins - $2.25 BOGO
1 Rubbing Alcohol - $1.49 - FREE - Baby Club coupon
.75 lb cherries - $2.36
.60 lb tomatoes - $0.59
1 cantaloupe - $1.99

Merchandise Total = $119.00
MQs = $7.55
Sale Savings = $48.88
Store Qs = $9.49
ECB's = $4.00
RR= $10.00
Total Spent = 39.08
SAVED = 79.92

Not too shabby, I think!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Did It!

I had a successful Walgreens trip!! It took FOREVER to get through the store, but I made it out alive, and saved money! I sat in the store and made sure I had everything matched up. Then when I got to the register, they told me the one item couldn't be sold because it wasn't in their computer system. So, I had to re-work my purchases and get back in the now very long line. The trip took me about an hour. :( I still forgot my Ziplocks, but I got everything else I went for. So here we go with tonight's endeavor:


Transaction #1:
Sara Lee Bread = 0.99
Pampers = 2.50 - 2.00 coupon = 0.50
John Feida hair products 3/$15 - 7.00 coupons = 8.00

Paid: 10.81 (with tax)
Got: $5.00 RR

Transaction #2:
6 Old Spice body wash @ $4.49/ea
2 Old Spice deodorant @ 4.99/ea
- 4 BOGO coupons

Total: 18.96
Used: 5.00 RR
Paid: 16.73 (with tax)
Got: $10.00

So, to sum up: I got 13 items, spent 27.54 out of pocket, got $15 back in RR, so technically I only spent $12.54. That comes out to $0.96 and item! I'm so excited I finally had a successful trip. Now, I'm hoping to get a $10/$50 coupon from Winn-Dixie Monday so I can go to Publix and get FREE groceries! I can't wait til I can say I got free groceries!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Bit Better

Last night we did a Publix run since the sale was ending. After a week of trying to figure out what to get here's what I ended up with. I know I still didn't do as well as I probably could have, but I'm trying to remind myself that it may take a few weeks to start seeing a cut in our spendings. Although I wish the results could be immediate!

2 Peter Pan Peanut Butter 40oz - BOGO = 4.49 (after coupon)
3 lb oranges @ .99/lb = 2.96
Almond Breeze = 2.29 (after coupon)
3 Kraft shredded cheese @ 2.0/ez = 6.00
Ritz 12 oz = FREE (with cheese coupon)
4 A&W 12 pack sodas (for vacation) = 10.00

Tax = .75
SPENT = 25.83
SAVED = 18.97

I plan to do with this as I did with my last receipts and compare it to Wal-Mart prices to help me see how much we really saved. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Failed Attempt at Coupon Savings

I have spent over a year trying to get into this couponing madness, and come out frustrated every month that everyone around me is saving $100 or more each month, and each time I try I come out spending more than I normally do! I don't think I have had anything drive me to such great frustration in my life! I'm sick of feeling stupid because I can't do this. So each month I determine to do it, and each month I fail. This month was no different. I spent FOUR days trying to put together a shopping list with coupon matchups--and I used all of the helpful sites. I have been a neglectful mother the last few days as I set my kids aside to try to put together a list. Today I got sick of ham and rice (what we've been eating every day for the last month), and we've had not breakfast or lunch foods for a few days. Pay day came, and I decided coupons or not, I have to get groceries. Well, the girls threw a kink in our plans, so I only made it to Wal-Greens and Publix for the bare necessities, and still failed! In the end I forgot milk and bread which were two of the main necessities we needed. I was so much more mentally stable in my shopping when I wasn't trying to bend over backwards to have a coupon for everything and only buy with sales.
So, one thing I can join the club on: I did take pictures of my venture. This will be my first time posting pictures on my blog, so we'll see if I get it right.



So, Publix: Kellogg's cereal BOGO. Cereal was $4.09/box, had $3.50 in coupons, got 8 boxes. Spent $12.86, saved $19.86 at Publix. I stress that I saved that much at that store, and on store brand, because this still came out to an average of $.012 an ounce. That's approximately the same as what I spend on the gigantic bags of Malt-o-Meal at Wal-Mart. So I really didn't save any money, and got a head ache doing it.


Wal-Greens: This was my first attempt at using RR and doing multiple transactions. Didn't pan out as well as I would have liked because I wasn't able to get all of my q's printed. Then due to a mess up with the first transaction, my q didn't get processed for the Pantene, but I didn't notice that until I got home.
Transaction #1: Pantene 2/$8 w/ $2 RR (should have had a $1/2 q attached) = $8.60
Transaction#2: Nivea Men's Bodaywash BOGO ($4.99) and Dial Men's Bodywash BOGO ($5.99) Had a $3/1 q for Nivea and $1.50/2 for Dial. Minus $2 RR from first transaction = $5.31

Not as good as I was hoping, but I guess not the end of the world. Comes to $3.16 per item.

DH is at Wal-Mart now picking up all of the true necessities that had to be neglected because of tired and hungry babies. He's going to check WM prices and see how much I really saved. Considering the time I put into this, not enough.

I hate the quitter attitude I've developed toward this, but I also had the frustration that radiates my entire being when I attempt to make this work.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Today is our 4th wedding anniversary! SO hard to believe. Last week I watched graduates walking all over campus and realized that I could have finished a whole other degree by now (if I'd wanted to!). Now I sit here and think, I'm working on another degree: life. I LOVE what I do. I miss working in the real world and having interaction with adults, but as I converse with other moms who work out of the home I realize that is more worth sacrificing worldly goods than sacrificing my children and my family.
I am so thankful that the Lord brought us together. We were just discussing this a few nights ago. Many people thought we were an oddly matched, and even a poorly matched couple. It brings to mind the Shania Twain song, "You're Still the One." When we first met, Nathanael and I were still trying to find ourselves, I guess you could say. We both came from different backgrounds, and came to a college that had, perhaps, some different teachings than we were familiar with. So we were still trying to find what we believed for ourselves, and not just because that's what we'd heard our whole lives, but trying to decide what our own convictions were. Somewhere along the road of "just friends," "dating," "just friends," and "no, we're dating again," we began to come to conclusions on these convictions together. Naturally, there are still things we are learning, and as each new stage come with our children there are new guidelines and convictions that we have to take into consideration and establish for our family.
I am thankful for the conservative, level-headed, common-sense husband God gave me. There hasn't been much that we've disagreed on in the last four years, and the few things we did were usually because I needed an attitude adjustment about something. I'm thankful for a man who is willing to allow me to stay home with our children, even though that has meant many sacrifices on our part...something we are still learning to do. I'm thankful for the philosophy on family-raising that my husband has. I'm very thankful for a man who agrees with and is very supportive of my birthing philosophy and who has been a phenomenal pre-natal, labor and delivery, and post-natal support person...who needs a doula! :) I'm thankful for someone who, as much as he hates to read, is willing to read books or articles that I find that can be helpful guides for us in training our children and nurturing our family. I'm thankful for a man who is willing to take a day off work so that I can have a "day off." Yes, I'm still a mom, but instead of doing housework today, I'm sitting on the computer updating pictures on Shutterfly, updating my blog, getting caught up on other blogs, snooping out deals and giveaways, looking through sales ads and coupons, and will hopefully do some other "detail" things that I never seem to get done with the girls around.
We definitely still have much growing to do and many lessons to learn. But isn't that just a part of growing old? And isn't that just one of the reasons you get married--so that you have someone to grow old with?!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

We live across the street from a public elementary school. The were doing their annual carnival today, and Monkey was SO excited about the "party" going on. She watched the tents go up, the bounce house getting blown up, and the firetruck pull up. She couldn't wait to go across the street, but we had to wait for Froggy to wake up and eat her lunch.
While Froggy was napping, I took Monkey outside to play. At one point they stopped the festivities across the street for their official kick-off with the Star Spangled Banner. I made Monkey come stand in front of me and put her hand on her heart. She thought this was fun for the first few measures of the song, but then wanted to play again. I made her continue to stand there. At one point she started getting really fussy about it, and I told her, "Mommy's not punishing you, she's teaching you. This is a special song, and we need to stand still and listen." So, in the end, I wasn't too respectful because I spent most of the time correcting my child. But she'll learn. :) She's also been potty training the last few days, so about every five minutes while we were out there, she told me she had to go potty, but she didn't want to come inside. She finally did come in and go. She's doing SO well with it. I've been very impressed with her!
Well, Froggy finally woke up and ate. So, with Monkey on her monkey leash, and Froggy in the Moby, we headed across the street. We went straight to the firetruck. Monkey climbed up in the firetruck and just stood there. She didn't know what to do, but she didn't want back down either. While standing there, I mentioned that we live just across the street and that she'd been watching their truck all morning. The youngest fireman asked which house I lived in, and then said that he'd had a call at that house about a year ago. He even remembered that I had been pregnant with Froggy at the time. Here's what happened as best as I can remember:
Around 8:00 one night, Monkey wanted to go outside to watch Daddy fix the car, so I went out with her to keep her from being too helpful. I was only outside for a few minutes before I realized I was getting bit on my feet. I looked down to find an ant crawling all over my foot...the same foot that was swollen last weekend from and bites. Well, this time, I was bit multiple times on both feet. Tired of being eaten alive, I left Farm Boy to fend for himself against the car, and against Monkey.
Around 8:15, I brought Monkey in, changed her, nursed her, and put her to bed. By the time I finished feeding her, my entire body itched and I had hives everywhere. I took some children's Benedryl and didn't feel any better. Unable to reach my doctor through the emergency line, I called my neighbor who is an RN and who also has multiple allergies herself. By that time, by breathing was becoming very restricted as well. She told us to call 911 if I was having difficulty breathing.
So, around 8:45 we called 911. The volunteer EMTs arrived first and put me on oxygen. The ambulance was coming from about twenty minutes away, so we waited a while for them to arrive. By the time they arrived, I was beginning to lose consciousness. After they hooked me up to some wires, they finally got me to the ambulance, hooked me up to an IV, and gave me an epi shot. By 9:30 we were pulling away from my house. At this point, I decided I am not a fan of GPS systems. Rather than taking the interstate, we took an extremely long route, and hit every red light on the way. We arrived to the ER just after 10:00.
During this whole time, I was also having contractions. (I guess I should mention here that I was 4 1/2 months pregnant with Froggy.) So, after switching from the ambulance equipment to the hospital equipment, we got a nurse from Labor and Delivery to check the baby's heart rate, and all was well. By 12:45 I was discharged from the hospital.
Many times since that night I've wished I could thank the people who saved my life. I remember thanking the EMT on the ambulance, but by that point I was stabilized. I had another opportunity one day when the volunteer department called asking for donations. Sadly, because of the ridiculous charges for the ambulance and ER visit, I had not money to donate to the ones who actually saved my life. It was an amazing thing to me to meet today one of the first responders from that night. I was so overwhelmed that I didn't know what to say. And then all I could say was thank you. I felt like an idiot. Standing before me was a man who had helped save my life, and all I could think to say was thank you. It seemed so inadequate. But what else could I say? It made me want to come home and bake him a whole batch of cookies! As we were walking away, I told Monkey that that man had saved Mommy's life. I never saw the faces of any of the responders that night except for the lady EMT on the ambulance. Today I was able to put a face to one of my many unseen heroes. And I want to say, "Thank you."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dairy Denied

Well, as I think I've mentioned before, Monkey has multiple food allergies. We took her to the rheumatologist to have blood work done to see if her sensitivities have changed. We were excited to learn that the numbers were lower for dairy! So he instructed us on how to conduct a food challenge at home. Well, she passed the initial test--no severe, life-threatening reaction. However, she still broke out in a rash on her chest and back, as well as blistering in her diaper area. So we waited two weeks and tried again this weekend. Again, the same reaction. So the decision now is left up to us. If we feel it's worth the rash, we may feed her dairy. We've pretty much adjusted to a dairy-free diet anyway, so we're going to keep her mainly dairy-free. As this is still considered an allergy, we are still marking noting that she is allergic to dairy. I'd rather be around any time she has it just in case the allergy should get worse, which is always a possibility.
Her count was also lower on egg, but still high enough that the doctor wants to do that food challenge in the office. Honestly, living without eggs has only been a problem in the area of mayonnaise. I love mayo, but other than that, we're not big on eggs anyway. So, I'm setting that one aside just because I don't feel like paying for another doctor appointment--especially one that may cause her to have an allergic reaction to something.
So there is some good in this, I don't have to freak out if she gets hold of dairy. But I still can't go back to using cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, or cream cheese in everything. :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Off the Cuff - Tragedy in the Name of Discipline

This is tragic. I was just talking with my husband last evening about finding the balance in disciplining our girls. I know people who pride themselves on the fact that their children are literally afraid when they hear the word, "No." I'm not sure if they use the Pearl's methods or another method. But I remember thinking when I heard that, that such a fear could be hard on a child. I'm faulted for attributing adult emotions on a child. But really, I just think, "How would I feel if I were treated such a way?" Then I respond to those feelings when dealing with my children. Perhaps this is not the best method. But I know what it is to fear improper forms of discipline. I don't want my child to fear me. I may be too forgiving of my child. But I'd rather not discipline than discipline incorrectly. She's a good girl, and knows what it means to obey. So I've justified in my mind that I've still accomplished the goal, just by a different means. I don't whip my child, but I do spank her. There is no need to whip a child for something so simple as mispronouncing a word. That's not even cause for a spanking or harsh verbal correction. The child will learn. How sad it is that the children under the Pearl's method of training are well behaved, not because they respect the people around them, but because they fear being beaten for their behavior.


an open letter to my brothers and sisters in Christ who serve in leadership to homeschooling families:

An open letter to my brothers and sisters in Christ who serve in leadership to homeschooling families:

On February 6, 2010, Lydia Schatz, the seven year old homeschooled daughter of Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, died after having been brutally beaten for mispronouncing a word while reading out loud to her mother. Butte County, California District Attorney, Mike Ramsey, reported that evidence shows the child was severely and repeatedly whipped, most likely for several hours, with a 15” piece of ¼” plumbing supply line, the same instrument that also left her older sister with severe kidney damage and in critical condition. The other seven Schatz children are now in foster homes, their parents having been charged with torture and murder.

While it might be comforting to believe that this is one horrific, isolated case of abusive behavior, the fact is that Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were Bible-believing Christians who welcomed not only their own children into their home but three adopted ones as well. Their friends reported how shocked they were to hear this story about parents whom they called “loving” and “warm” and children who were “polite and well-behaved,” words that could describe most homeschooling families.

But Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were also devotees of the book To Train Up A Child and its authors, Michael and Debi Pearl, and they patterned their “discipline” methods after the Pearls’ instructions, down to the very instrument they used to beat their children.

This is not the first time a child has died at the hands of parents who embraced the teachings from TTUAC. In 2004, four year old Sean Paddock suffocated after his mother also beat him with ¼” plumbing supply line and then wrapped him tightly in a blanket to keep him from getting out of bed. She is now serving time in jail for first degree murder.

The killing of precious children in the name of “discipline” must stop and those of us who desire to come alongside and encourage homeschooling families must do all that we can to see that this sort of tragedy never happens again. I believe that the Pearls’ teachings on chastisement unto repentance, found in their books and magazines and on their website, is not just one among many approaches to disciplining children, but rather, is a form of child abuse and even one that is considered to be assault and battery of a child and punishable by law in many states.

As Christians, it is even more important to understand that the Pearls’ philosophy is based on the aberrant theology of “sinless perfection,” a perspective that leads to the notion that parents are able to change a child’s sinful heart and save a child’s soul. Here are some excerpts from TTUAC:

“The parent holds in his hand (in the form of a little switch) the power to absolve the child of guilt, cleanse his soul, instruct his spirit, strengthen his resolve, and give him a fresh start through a confidence that all indebtedness is paid.”

“The guilt burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. Your child cannot yet understand that the Creator has been lashed and nailed in his place. Only the rod of correction can preserve his soul until the day of moral dawning.”

“Let the guilt come, and then, while they are yet too young to understand, absolve it by means of the rod. When their time comes, the principles of the cross will be easy to grasp.”

The Holy Word of God tells us that only by faith in the finished, atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross, an act of His mercy and grace, is a person saved. (“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”~Titus 3:5) Physical chastisement by a parent cannot truly absolve a child of guilt nor can it cleanse his soul. To teach this and to lead any parent to think otherwise is promoting false doctrine and false hope in the works of man.

To that end, I would like to ask those who serve as homeschooling support group leaders and others who seek to serve within the homeschooling community to join the growing number of voices who are expressing their outrage and horror at the death of little Lydia Schatz and I would ask you to remove any recommendation of Michael and Debi Pearl’s teachings you have on your blogs or websites. Please stand with me and publicly say “This is wrong and it must stop.”

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” ~ Proverbs 31:8-9

By His grace,
Karen Campbell,
homeschooling mother and grandmother
www.thatmom.com