Monday, December 28, 2009

A new beginning...

It has been some time since I have blogged.  I will try to keep this short and sweet and give you the main points of where we are headed around here.

We are on Christmas break from home schooling but have done some seriously fun stuff this month.  We had some fun trips to Universal and Disney, we have been practicing riding a bike, we have begun delving into many new games and backyard play.  Been a great month even if we weren't sitting at a desk.

Last month we worked on a budget.  After the month was over, I discovered after my calculating, that we had actually done very well.  However, it wasn't exactly the best time of year to pick apart our spending.  We also discovered we needed a better plan for what to do with our money.  We decided to start the Dave Ramsey Peace University.  It is on its way.  It is all about living within your means no matter how much you make.  It teaches a lot about using what you have to get yourself to a place where you can be completely debt free, including cars and homes, and be saving and living on cash.  You have to do whatever it takes to get to that place.  We have been credit card free and living on cash for some time now, but we need to organize our money a little better.  So...Dave Ramsey, here we come! I will keep this updated and let you know our progress.

P90X has been my workout of choice for some time now.  If it is the only time I get for myself than so be it!!  BUT, if I have other time, I have been reading some books about children's publishing and have a goal to find a new publisher for my children's Christmas books by next Christmas.  I got to see New Moon and I now have an extreme desire to read them.  Mike has been working late so I have been doing some re-reading of the Harry Potter books, but am on my way to the Twighlight books.  I am joining the revolution!

As for groceries, I am really figuring it all out.  It is beginning to feel simple.  Though there are days when I feel like I have no clue.  I see books about people getting $120 worth of groceries for $1.60 and I my feelings of inadequacy flow like a river.  I am stocking my pantry constantly with sale items and $50/wk is slowly becoming less.  I am thinking about starting a couponing class at the city hall here in Minneola and possibly one at my church with the intention of getting some extra groceries from a group effort for our buses and backpacks program which provides food for some local families in need.  These are just floating around in my head now, but I believe them to be totally worth it!

Christmas was amazing and having two little ones made it so much more incredible.  We were very blessed and plan to return ten fold the blessings we have felt!  We got to see some old friends this Christmas and we got to see our most stable, always there with us, friends too, and how wonderful it all was!  I wish we could capture it all and bottle it up for year round use!


Moments are endless...

-The moment we commited to each other that we were going to change our financial future.
-Madi being certain that because she didn't ask for a lot for Christmas, Santa would know she wasn't being greedy and he might bring her more!
-Mackenzie playing in all the boxes and wrapping paper.
-Mike and I loving each other enough to go virtually presentless so our kids could  have a great Christmas.
-My selfless husband cleaning out a chicken cage before our family was coming over for Christmas.  Great image of chickens running around him!! (By the way, we got chickens for my birthday!)

Peace and freedom don't come with a price, they come with planning and thoughtfulness.

Monday, December 14, 2009

$100 gift card giveaway

Just wanted to post a quick note that Money Saving Mom is doing a great $100 gift card give away.  Go over there and check it out!!  I will be postin a longer link to come about the budget, shopping, home schooling and the whole lot my my existence!  I hope you are all well!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Choo-choo...All Aboard

The budget plan is still underway and is going well!  We are planning hard for Christmas but it may take some more thought before we launch into what we will be spending.  Friday's "Black Friday" trip that Mike loves to take may be the tell all.  Crazy man!  He love to do that.  I, on the other hand, will be happy to wake up, cozy in my bed, and hear about all the great deals.  I guess its great that someone like to take advantage of it!!

This week it was my birthday.  I will start by telling you, it was the worst birthday ever!!!!!  We went out the night before to dinner and managed to get ourselves some food poisoning.  Mike was working on the day of my birthday and it is a tradition for Madi and I to go to the movies.  We had several activities planned including a trip to Borders where they were having a Polar Express party and then the movies to see Planet 51.  By the time we got to the movies, (which we got asked to leave from anyway due to Mackenzie crying), I was so sick I wasn't sure how I was going to get home.  Mike's parents ended up having to come get us from a parking lot nearby as I lay across the front seat dying, with Madison wondering how we were going to live in our car since I couldn't drive us home!  We managed to get onto the turnpike before everything I have ever eaten in my life was on the side of the road in between the construction barrels.  Good driving on the part of my mother in-law!  Needless to say, I spent the rest of my birthday vomiting and dying in bed!  I am requesting a do over!!

Madison finished up with home school group last week.  We will be doing some school at home, a couple of planned field trips and other such teaching events between now and the end of the year.  She is learning to tell time and is writing in 3 sentence paragraphs now.  She is also reading level 2 books.  I am so proud of her. 

I am heading out today to take a big shopping trip including places like CVS and Publix since I have an earned gift card for CVS and need to take advantage of some of the bogo sales at Publix.  I advise looking on websites to see store deals before ever leaving your house and compare with the coupons you have on hand.  Start saving up all the coupons.  You may even want to invest in 2 or 3 newspapers if you don't have access to extras.  I am having terrible troubles with my computer and printing coupons and have for some time now.  I am missing out on some amazing deals.  It is really killing me.  I have read every trouble shooting guide on it that I can find to no avail.  Boooo!  If you have any questions about coupons and bogos and the like, please contact me and I will help.  These can save you so much money.  We are talking Christmas money here!

I am missing my friends lately.  It seems the months fly by and I have hardly seen anyone.  I am happy to say I have befriended Emily, from our church and small group, and she has a similar life style to mine.  It has been wonderful.  I miss you, though, my friends who lives have taken us on crazy paths!!  I hope we reconnect soon! 

I have not read at all this month and have hardly had any time to write.  I definitely slacked in this area.  I have also slacked in cooking but in my defense, I had saved up some food from last month in the freezer.  I am starting to get behind now though, so that is what today is for.  Off I go!!

Things are always kind of busy with home schooling, girl scouts, life in general, and let's not forget shopping for the best deals.  It has become a passion and a challenge to save our money up!  It is almost the end of the month so I can report soon how we did with the rough budget.  So far we are doing pretty well, though I anticipate Christmas may throw a wrench in it.

Last on the list is Mackenzie got a call back to the Miami audition I took her to.  We had tossed it off to experience and out of the blue they called to say she was in!  We are praying she will get it as it could be a great start to a bank account for her future.  It is very exciting!  We will be off to Miami again on Friday!  Keep thinking of us.

Please keep me posted on your lives and what you are doing! 
 

Hmmm, moments again, are piling up...
-Mike reading Little House in the Big Woods to Madison.  Oh, I cherish those moments!
-Dinner table conversation with Mackenzie getting herself all involved!!  I cannot tell you how funny this is!
-Madison taking care of me while I was DYING, I tell you.  DYING!!  She wanted to make my birthday better.  Poor thing!
-Mike, my loving husband, working so hard on his garden.
-Veggies showing up on the counter as a result of his labors!
-News that Mackenzie got a call back for a photo shoot in a catalog!!!  Yeah! Keep on praying she gets to book it!!



Girl Scout Daisy Troop 4702 at the Pow Wow!

  



Life was once the train at the Magic Kingdom, now it is a full blown passenger train headed to Alaska!  I hope the bridges are all in tact because we AIN'T stopping!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Delicate Balancing Act


Well, we are successfully in our first month of the Scrutiny Budget! We are tracking all expenses and comparing them to our budget and next month we will re-adjust again. It has really tuned my ears. I looked at our gas bill and immediately I thought, "What trips can I combine to make sure I fall in under budget?" Some people are asking more specifics on what we are doing. I don't want to give out numbers but I will get as specific as possible.

Funny how it works when you scrutinize your spending on paper! It is actually pretty fun. I am also seeing that it is okay to go to Chick Fil A once in a while. We won't break the bank! BUT, it is not okay for us to go out to big dinners or spend a lot of uneccesary money while we are out. We can go out to one nice dinner (like Chili's) and spend about $25 on it for the whole month. That will help us save and that is what we want. We did set aside some money for entertainment, but that includes blockbuster, eating out, and thrift store trips. It is better to set that a little higher so we learn where we can cut. I know I could cut in a lot of areas. If our goal is to save then I need to do EVERYTHING I can to accomplish that including sacrificing things like clothes and snacking while we are out running errands. We both cut out things like coffee or sodas on the run. WE just always bring water from home.

I have stuck very well to $50 per week in groceries still. I do not feel comfortable changing that yet. But I will, someday, trim another $10 off of that. We have been doing a meatless night and a backwards night. Backwards night is bacon and eggs or pancakes. We eat it in the living room and make it a fun night. I also do rice and beans or lentil soup on a separate night. I have been trying to prepare ahead and freeze one meal a week.

My articles on ehow, (see link on the right,) are starting to earn some money which has made me very happy about writing. I am, however, still not working on my novel. That has still been put on the back burner. I think I need a better plan for that. I still haven't gotten as much reading done as I would like. At the very least, I have been reading daily things like bible studies or blogs and such.


Madison has been doing amazing in school. We have done some really neat projects including cooking together. She is reading so well. We are currently studying the pilgrims and we will be starting the 13 colonies as we are talking about the settlers.

Mackenzie is standing and starting to babble Dada and Mama. We think she is reciting the Bill of Rights sometimes!!

Moments...where to begin!

-Madison jumping up and down on the front of the fire truck during our field trip.
-Mike on the floor with 2 precious little girls crawling on him.
-Madison getting her own cup of milk!
-Mackenzie and Madi....well, just them! They are always good moments for me!
-Girl's night with Life Group at Starbucks...so nice to be an adult and talk about what WE want!
-Mike home for a whole day!!!
-Madison cleaned out her room to sell some of her thing ans she earned $11 and will be giving $10 to the Net Work project at church!!! I am sooo     proud of her!
-A shower all by myself again! Happens once in a while!!







Balance is delicate, but it can break and be repaired very quickly and with little cost!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some quick coupon links

First off, be sure you have signed up for a CVS card. Once you have a card, you can scan it each time you go in the store for coupons!

Here are some CVS coupons that will help on their own, but if you can check CVS for some sales or deals that give you extra care bucks, they will become even more valuable. If you don't understand anything I just said, let me know and I will give you some help.

Take a short quiz and get $5 off $30

Then go here for $5 off $20. You just have to peel back the labels and print!

You can go to your store's website to get the week's sales and deals and find out how you can earn some extra care bucks.

Hope you are having a great week! I will have another post out this week.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Our budget plan in a nutshell

My weeks seem to be getting busier and busier. I am able to keep up so far. Madison's girl scout troop is having so much fun. She earned her first petal and we were so proud of her. It brings back so many good memories for me to watch her. Girl scouts were some wonderful times. School has been a bit crazy. She is really doing well and learning so much. I couldn't ask for a better student to teach. I am including cooking each week into her lessons as well as shopping. We love using the thrift stores for some good lessons. She amazes me constantly. Mackenzie is standing and clapping and waving. So many new skills, its amazing she is able to sleep at all. Last night, just before I put her in the crib, she clapped for the first time and hasn't stopped since. I thought for sure she would be up all night clapping. The whole family was in her room and she was clapping for us. Great idea just before bed, but she still slept fine. She went on her first audition this week. My mom, Madi and I drove her all the way to Miami for an audition for a photo shoot. 4 hours there and 4 hours back! But is was a fun road trip and a good experience to see how well she might do. She was as good as I could possibly have asked of her. Now we just need a call back! Keep your fingers crossed and say a few prayers for us!

I have been working on writing a lot this week. It has been very fun. Creative juices are flowing at the very least. I have been posting some articles on line. You can see them on the right side of this page. The name of the site is ehow. I haven't read a lot. I suppose the balance is probably more of an average!

Our budget is coming together. This month, we are testing our totals and will be readjusting as needed. We are working toward to goal of having 6 months of income saved up. At the moment, we speak of unexpected expenses...we are most likely going to be replacing Mike's car and my check engine light is on. Sooooo...this "readjustment" has taken some careful thought. We have our monthly budget. Then with the money we have saved each month we have an "excess income" amount. From that excess income, we have a set amount that is for savings and the rest is excess for checking. The excess in our checking is meant to pad our checking account for things like unexpected car repairs or just life happenings that are not already budgeted. We budgeted in the things that we know we need or do every month. Now we have envelopes for each category to document what we spent by writing it down or by receipts. I will be really tightening our belts in a lot of areas to have as much excess in checking over the next few months. Every tiny amount I save is money toward our goal. That means each night I save money per person on a meal, we get more padding in our checking account which turns into more money in savings because after a few months, I will add to our savings column to get us to that 6 months savings mark faster. So that is our plan in a nutshell.

I will keep you posted on this and please ask me if you have any questions!


Moments are so many, but here is a sneak peek...
-Mackenzie sitting on a big red bean bag chair having a mini photo shoot! All smiles!
-Madison being this amazing, supportive big sister. She watched every second and did everything in her power to keep her happy so she would do a good job!
-Mike surrounded by the girl scout troop stuffing a scarecrow!!
-A shower...without interruption...oh wait. That was just a dream:)

Life's pace is picking up so we are buckled in and ready for the ride!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good times and bad

Madi all dressed up as Jasmine from the Sawyer-bobbity-boutique.

Madi lost her first tooth!

At Mosi learning about probability.

Our Thomas Town!!!

Me, laying on a bed of REAL nails!!


Some of you may have read through my facebook yesterday that I had the worst shopping trip of my life at the Walgreens right by my house even though I scored 0ver $40 of stuff for $4. Why, then, was it my worst shopping trip? I will save the long story. Check out my facebook (listed here on the right side bar) for the details, but it all had to do with customer service. This just goes to show you how customer service can truly ruin what should have been en extremely good shopping trip! Go read it!

I took Madison to the Orlando Science Center to get our passes that we earned by doing our garage sale. We checked it out for a little while and are very pleased with our purchase! It also gets us into a ton of other museums all over the country including the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa. On Friday, Mike needed some items from a store in Tampa that specializes in hydroponics, so the girls and I made a trip of it and went to the MOSI. We had a blast. We spent several hours there and barely scratched the surface. So much fun and lots of things I can utilize as school work without her even realizing it. We finished out a unit study we were doing on Where the Wild Things are, so after the MOSI we met Mike at Festival Bay and went to see the movie. It was very sweet. It was just about as unrelated to the book as it possibly could be, but sweet none the less. I saw some parts that seemed unnecessary and a bit odd, but ignorable. It was a fun night to say the least.

This last week, I made a whole chicken and some lasagna which have made for some fantastic left overs and lunches. We have decided 1 night a week we are going to do rice and beans or soup of some kind. Just another easy way to save some money. We had made a fantastically responsible decision to get Mike's car fixed, (about $2000), instead of get a cheap new car. But it has come to our attention, there is more to fix than previously anticipated, so we now are having to look into buying a car. As we have been only using cash for over a year and a half, we are not sure about adding a bill to our budget, so I guess we are going to be re-figuring previously mentioned budget. Boo!! I hate restructuring! I will keep you posted. I am going to post our ACTUAL budget once this gets worked in. Some people have asked about how much I put in each category and there was the discussion of emergencies, so I figure I can post it here and let you see it.


Moments to top it all off...

-Mackenzie waving at the movie screen.
-Some fantastic writing time all alone.
-Church service on Sunday where we truly felt our own growth. BOTH of us.
-Mackenzie standing up in her crib waving at me in the doorway.
-3:00 am. The biggest, most grateful hug from the sweetest baby telling me to enjoy it while it lasts.
-Mike, coming home to tell me how he went into the Walgreens to be sure they understood just how much they had upset me. He could not stand how poorly I was treated and I love him so much for it.


Sometimes, just when we think the bad is bad, it turns out to be the best!





Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Planning my Budget...

First off, I have to tell you about this website. I have signed up for tons and tons of free stuff. Some of it is samples, some of it is just plain free. See for yourself!

Planning. This is definitely under construction. I have a lot to say in this area, but none of it is set in stone. Brandee, you mentioned the pots. I have done this with envelopes. I have found it to be difficult. More because I would make an envelope for something like medical, but not utilize it and that money would sit there unused. I have seen this system successfully implemented though for a lot of people I know. We are "tweaking" our budget right now. What we have come up with so far is to be putting a certain amount into savings. That saving is then used for the "unexpected" occurrences. How do we get to that "certain amount"? The plan is every month, we will spend X amount on gas, groceries, utilities, mortgage, etc. and then, let's say I do not use all of my budgeted amount for gas that month. As long as I did not go over in another area, that money will go into savings. Basically, the goal is to save up your unused amount each month. This is preliminary as of now. We are just getting started.

Some of the saving is based on what you can control. I can control my food, entertainment, and to a smaller extent, my water/electricity and gas. If we find our energy bill is getting too high, we turn the air up and use less lights in the daytime. If our gas bill is going too high, I work on combining more trips or taking 1 less trip to my parent's house. Summer, you mentioned unexpected items popping up that you need. I have managed this by utilizing really good deals on things I NEED. I specify need because as I mentioned in another blog, I am getting really good at not taking a deal just because it is good. An example is a few weeks ago I had a BOGO coupon for Herbal Essence shampoo. The store had a BOGO sale. You don't need shampoo for a while! BUT, if you find 2 weeks in that there is a similar deal, stock up again. You need and use those items so it is not just a deal. This week, although I already have razors, I have a coupon for $3 off and I happen to know Walmart has them on sale. If I take advantage, I get them for around .80. But, I am not going to make a special trip because then I am wasting the gas.

It has taken me a long time to get to a point where I am ahead on things like shampoo and razor, or laundry detergent and dish soap (which I have enough of to last until January thanks to an unbelievable trip to CVS!) Now, anytime I see a really good deal on those items I can choose to take it, or wait until there is extra room in my grocery budget. Make sense? I also only buy things after finding the store that will get me the most out of my coupons and has the best sales.

Next month, we have to go for Mackenzie's 9 month check up and that is $20 copay. Here is what I will plan. I will plan to take $10 from 1 week and $10 from the next from groceries. I know I can do this because I have. I had 1 week this month where I spent $70 on groceries. I needed to make up $20. After 3 weeks, I am now averaging $52/week. If I can make a $40 week next week, I will actually come out ahead of the game (by $1, but still ahead!) which in turn puts money into savings...when we get that all worked out!

It has all become about the things I can and can't control. I know Madi and I love to take trips to the mall, but it means driving a good distance. This summer, I cut out trips to the mall. I also try to ride with Mike to work if we are going to be doing something in Orlando that day. I set my air higher during the day. I limit my shower time and if we seem to be running high water, I turn the water off while washing my hair or body. It all makes a difference.

I have begun pre-making meals and freezing. I have also taken a new step in doing things like making pudding for Madi's desserts rather than buying pre-made pudding. I also make dinners that are larger for leftovers.

Now, I realize I am a stay at home and you may be thinking I have more time than moms who work. But I am a very busy stay at home mom. I watch baby Paige 2 days a week all day and into dinner time while home schooling Madison (2 of the days actually going TO school with her where I participate in teaching) all of which takes lesson planning and preparing. I still have to do regular household chores and cooking and laundry. Then there is the fact that I have an 8 month old baby who tends to need attention. I definitely understand time constraints. As I mentioned in the last few blogs, I am working on finding time to do the things that are going to make a difference. I want to make a difference to other people as well. I want to use my trials and errors to help and maybe extend our help in other ways because we have been fruitful with our time and our lives.

These are my choices. We, as a family, decided we would try to live a little simpler each and every month. We have made a lot of changes in our lives.

If you would like some ideas of things you can do, I am pretty creative with this stuff and may be a good sounding board!

Moments...
-Madison lost her first tooth and was so happy and proud. It was like a right of passage!
-Riding bikes outside in perfect weather.
-The smell of fall.
-Mackenzie jumping up and down because she wanted Daddy to pick her up.
-Laughing hysterically at the dinner table as a family of 4. Mackenzie participating.

I am finding so much joy in the simplicity of life. Feeling blessed, happy and loved.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Strategy and feedback

Mackenzie loves to attack Paige! Poor Paige!

Madison making sentences with flash cards.


I was asked recently about my post and what information I am giving out. I looked back through and, although I believe this to be a work in progress, I see I am doing a combination of things. I offer what I have done as far as shopping, goals and accomplishments, and I offer how I did it. But in this blog, I will focus on what exactly I do to get some results, particularly from shopping.

I have come to discover while doing some reading recently, that I am not a stockpiler, per say. I am more of a budget keeper. How do I keep my budget? I don't always. I do AVERAGE it though. I had set a budget several months back of $80 a week. I am slowly whittling this down. I am aiming for $50, though that does not always work out. I have not, even on my worst shopping trip recently, gotten back up to $80, so that shows some progress. Unfortunately, Mackenzie's diapers eat some of this up. Thank goodness I am still breast feeding and making her food rather than having to buy separate. Though I have recently read that, when learning to live more frugally, you will find things you ARE willing to do and things you are NOT willing to do. I am willing to breast feed and make baby food. I am not willing to make every meal from scratch and I am also not willing to shop at more than two stores for a good deal. You have to decide what works best for you in learning to live simply.
Madison helping to make Turkey pot pies to freeze.


I also do not take advantage of EVERY good deal that comes along. Here was what I did this week. I wanted to spend $50. I looked at the websites for Walmart, Publix, Target, and the ad for Save-a-lot. I compared them to the few sets of coupons I have and decided Walmart and Publix would get my the best deals. They had the items I needed on sale and I had coupons. I did not pay full price for anything and I did not go to any other stores. Does this mean sometimes I pass on something I may need? Yes. I did not buy milk for 3 days last week because I refused to pay 3.09 until I could get to Walgreens to get it for 2.49. That is my choice on certain items I can do without. I made eggs for breakfast.

As for keeping the things I need down to a minimum. Here are some other choices I make because I do not mind. I often make pancakes or eggs for breakfast. Though I have gotten some seriously cheap cereal, I tend to save it for emergency, leaving early days. I have snacks like crackers, cheese, yogurt, or veggies. But mainly, I make dinners that I know I can get leftovers from. I have been on a whole chicken, whole turkey kick lately as they were on sale and they were CHEAP! This means turkey pot pies, turkey sandwiches, left over chicken, soups. I also plan a few meals like lentil soup. Lentil soup costs .78/bag and I can make 2-3 pots of it. I add a chopped carrot, stalk of celery, some salt and half a small onion to a cup of boiling lentils. Cheap and it get me 2 lunches though I am the only one who eats it. I make meat loaf which makes lunches for the next day. If I am not going to be near a microwave, I just make peanut butter and bring raw veggies, apples, cheese, crackers, things like that. Mike always has leftovers for lunch. I make pot roasts. When I find them on sale I buy 2 or 3 to freeze.

So to sum it up, I have made the choices that work best to keep my meal costs down, keep us well fed, and keep me from running from place to place. No, my cabinets and fridge are not overflowing but they are full and we are fed and happy. We have gotten used to this manner of living and choose this for ourselves. I know others who have made other choices, but these are ours.

I would love to hear what people have done with their budgets. Please drop me a note and tell me what you have done or some progress. It is great when I hear other ideas. I am still a work in progress and am flexible.


If you read my last blog, you saw I did a Facebook fast to gain some extra time in my new time budget! I did it and I loved it. I have now gotten to cut out a LOT of time from Facebook. I think I will try it again. I do not spend a lot of time on the computer but I do need it for researching shopping and writing or I would cut it out all together. This week, I have not turned on any television for myself during the day. Instead, I played music or listened to a book from my computer. How did YOUR challenge go? Did you take it with me? Please tell me!!

Moments...

-Paige and Mackenzie playing on the floor like little girls instead of babies!
-Madison reading whole stories to me.
-Mackenzie walking in the walker all around the kitchen while I cook.
-Some solitary, rare moments to myself.
-Madison mopping the floor because, "I don't want you to have to do ALL the work!, I can help too!"


Just when you think you have it all figured out...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Take a challenge with me on my new budget...

My time is becoming more and more precious as it seems to be flitting away in the wind these days. I have been doing to my time as I do to my grocery bill! Too bad there are no coupons for time budgets. As I go through my weeks, I am whittling away the nickel and dime things that cause my time bill to be to high for my time budget. I am at the beginning of a Facebook fast! I think that is unnecessary caloric intake right now! I will get my time budget under control and return to it at a later time. My priorities are taking care of Mackenzie (making her food, not buying it in jars, beginning to teach her baby things and other such mommy things), home schooling Madison, cooking every day to prevent spending unnecessary money eating out, organizing the house for simple living, planning ahead for meals and groceries, teaching Madi how to live with purpose, educating myself, writing, and living with my own purpose. I have found some time at the end of the day lately, often while Mike watches Glenn Beck, and without Facebook and email, this may prove to be a fantastic time to get through the items I cannot accomplish during the busy day. I will keep you posted on this new progress.

Madison and I are working on Egypt right now in school. It is amazing to see just how much she loves to learn and what she will take in! I mean, Egypt?? Come on! I love it! We talked about the Nile and are on our way to King Tut! She is reading like a storm and love to do it. She is really into reading the Tinkerbell books as well as Junie B. Jones. Those are chapter books so I read those to her. But she reads all of her books to me!

I am waiting until Friday to go grocery shopping. I know I will need to find some more of those whole chickens again and I will need produce. I am sticking to that $50 this week, but hoping for $40!

Take a challenge with me. Weed out not just your grocery bill, but the time calories eating into your life. Go through your day and keep track of the things that are above your budget. I challenge you to find time to grow yourself and your family wisely. I am on board and would love to hear how you do as well!


Moments...
-Paige has a new noise that makes me smile no matter what! The little rollie polie!
-Mackenzie was in her crib one morning waiting for me and the second she saw me, her face lit up!
-Madison recited a bible verse about being wise. She is learning!!!
-Mike cleaned the air vents in a rage, but also to be helpful to me. My ever observant man!
-Madison snuggled up to Mike when they fell asleep on the couch one night. So precious!


There are many kinds of budgets...take time to find time! We can do it together!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Best laid plans

. /The ladies playing!
Madison's first sleepover at our house! They went to church and this is them singing!
A visit from grandma and pop pop at the campground resulted in pop-pop in the pool. NEVER happens!
Grandma and pop pop with the girlies!
Mackenzie's first time in a swing!

The little ladies out for some fresh air! Madi's home school group!
Doing some math at school!

I have gotten behind...AGAIN! But alas, the school year is well under way and time is flittering away. We are desperately trying to make the most of what we have. We are, daily, being taught lessons and are really beginning to notice what and where we are. One important lesson we are learning actually come straight out of the lessons from our children's ministry at church. It is all about being wise, making wise choices and surrounding ourselves with wise people. So my thoughts lately have really focused on what I am DOING with what I have. Including my money. Part of my quest for the "deal" is to save money, but the other is to use what I am saving for others. I am not sure how long it will take for me to really feel the abundance, but I have noticed with my research and practice, my deals are getting better and better, thus I am getting more for my money and saving money in our account. As a family, we have begun to look at some needs of others and are going to begin to extend our hands. God has helped us out in massive ways and it is time, we use what he has given us to help. We have tried to live pretty simply and when we find that we have some excess, we do not want to indulge ourselves, we want to help. We have begun to feel it is our time to help for however long we are able. I, at least, managed to read some this month. I have not written all month. Boooooo! But, I have been doing a lot of research on blogging and coupons (for the purpose of saving money). If I am to continue to home school, I need to continue to contribute by saving as much as possible. I feel pretty balanced. Perhaps it is because I am doing what I feel is needed right now. I must admit, as I am sure most people can relate, with my husband working 7 days a week, I feel like my day never ends. EVER! I always have a child's needs to meet or hanging off of me or laundry or dishes or food to cook...something. Always. I am constantly on the go, even when I am home. That includes my time for researching and answering a very curious 5 year old's endless array of questions. That being said... Madison is an amazing student. She is reading so well and loves science. She is learning about Egypt right now and we are working toward King Tut. Her math skills are great and she is loving being taught by me. She has begun girl scouts now and in a Daisy troupe. She will be doing community service projects and I cannot wait to see how far it will take her growth. Mackenzie is beginning some baby babble and is now standing herself up in her crib. She is really getting to be a fun little being with a personality! You should check out this picture of my trip to CVS today which I was determined to make. I have seen so many amazing store trips in my research so I wanted to make not just a great deal but an amazing trip. My total was 22.04. Considering the diapers alone should have cost 19.00, I'd say this trip was well worth it! It was a total saving with sales, coupons and extra care bucks was $47.06!!!! I did this in 2 separate orders to get the most for my money! : I also went to Save-a-lot this week and got whole chicken for .99/lb, 5lb bag of potatoes for $1, 3lbs of bananas for $1, cans of veggies for.45, 1.99/lb ground turkey and some other various deals giving me all my shopping for the week and then some totaling 53.03!!! The girls and I have done a few thrift store tours this month. (We have lot of them here in Clermont) We found some amazing items and spent very little money. I am very proud of the lessons Madi is learning in frugality and value! Moments...so many to choose, but here are a few. -Mackenzie saying da-da. -Mike surprising me with Santa's White Christmas ice cream!!!! (My favorite kind of coffee!) -Mackenzie standing up in her crib one morning when I went in to get her. -Madison's singing girl scout songs and doing the girl scout promise at her first meeting. -My CVS trip. -Our decision to help others being joint and almost like it was laid out for us. -An amazing moment whenMadison whispered in Mackenzie's ear without knowing I heard, "You are always my sister." Really feeling purpose and fulfillment.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Football, diapers, and home-cooked meals...


Balancing life is difficult. I have written many blogs on how I attempt to balance all the things in love. This involves time, planning, and sometimes re-planning. Let me recap what it is that needs balance. Family, church, reading, writing, research (for things like publishing and writing), parenting, budgeting and my husband. (Not budgeting my husband). These are the main things, but then there are the things that pop up in life. Like football season!

Yes, my friends, football season is here, and I have added to my list of loves for the next 6 months. I am an avid football fan and fantasy football is a fall hobby for which I am entering 5 years now! I promise you I will not blog about my ups and downs through the season, but you must know this is a passion like I never thought it would be! And so it begins...

My cousin Erika came to visit last weekend with her boyfriend Ed. We had such a blast with them. We went to Magic Kingdom and even stayed for the fireworks. It is so much fun to see the Magic of Disney through untainted eyes! We had a great day with few lines too!


This week, I made some target deals that have made me more proud of shopping than I have ever been! I bought 10 cereal cups (1 serving) 21 sticks of string cheese, and 3 loaves of fresh baked bread from target spending .75 on the lot!!!!! Yeah me!!! Check here for some target deals, but mainly the cheese one is here. The bread is over now. The cereal is also on there. You can use the cereal coupon on the single servings and they are free. There is no limit! You can also get Healthy Choice frozen meals. At my Target they were 2.19 and here is a 2.00 coupon. Do the math! If you use baby food go here and sign up and you will get a coupon for 4 free jars of baby food. Had a great $40.75 shopping week!

I have been reading My Sister's Keeper. It is a quick easy read, but at least it is reading! Sometimes that is all I need. I have also been doing a lot of research on work at home jobs and publishing my book. This takes up a lot of time as there is more than enough information out there on publishing to choke a whole colony of wild horses.

Mike, Madi, and I went to Aquatica on Saturday. It was completely empty and we walked on every ride. So unbelievably fun. Madi rode her first "big people" rides. Some were a bit traumatic for here, but she quickly recovered! Very fun! I have no pictures as we did not have a water proof camera with us but it is a day for the memories for sure.

My very, very good friend Summer watched the girls Friday and we were able to go to a birthday party for our friend who was turning 30. What a fun night with out friends and just being able to pay attention to each other. Doesn't happen often, let me tell you!

My moments this week...

-Mike holding Mackenzie at 6 in the morning as she clung to him.
-Madison dashing from ride to ride as the big girl getting a fun day out alone with us.
-Watching football with Mike!!!!!
-Madison falling asleep on me after a long fun day, and returning the favor to her!!
-A real Friday night!!!!!

Adding to the scales of things to balance and tossing things up a bit, but truly enjoying the growing and learning.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Simply Simplifying

We have just returned from our much planned and anticipated Boston vacation. We had the most perfect trip possible. It could not have been any better. I thoroughly attribute its success to my efficient and at times insanely anal husband! Love you honey! We happily crammed more activities into one day than any family with 2 children should do. All went so smooth it was almost creepy! But, alas, I will not be blogging about the week's activities here.



Upon our return, I had quite the household management duties to accomplish. Our fall schedule has officially begun. We returned home Tuesday morning at 1:30 and had our first day of home school at our home school group. It was a great day for Madison. She was very excited and the day, considering the time we got up, went off without a hitch. My sweet mother was kind enough to come out after school to help me get the 10 loads of laundry and reorganizing done so I could get coupon and deal hunting done and restock our very depleted pantry and refrigerator.

I did not find any super great deals this week, but there were enough stacking of coupons to make my trip to target pretty successful. I saved $34 with some creative couponing and general good deals. I think I am a little out of sorts still so I will give myself a break. I am still below $50 but I need to get some meat. I will be over $50 but not more than $60. I just need to get back on track.

I don't know about you, but when I am on a vacation, the dreamer in me comes out. I am a lofty dreamer for sure. In looking to my future, I must evaluate my present. What am I doing and what do I want to be doing? I am expanding my knowledge for sure. But I am doing this all at the sacrifice of any true income. In the last year, I have done a lot, and when I say a lot, I mean an exorbitant amount, of research on money. This includes things from freelance writing to ebay, blogging to transcribing. I have learned more than I ever thought I could, and I feel like I am heading in the right direction, but with the inability to do anything without my children, I must be creative in these ventures. I know I was gifted with teaching. I do not, however, want to utilize this in the traditional sense, so I feel I can help others by giving them the things I have learned and researched over time. Hence, my blog of purpose and balance. These things combined have paved a way that I feel very comfortable on. Thankfully my husband is a great sounding board and doesn't mind when i have not picked up all the toys in the living room because I was busy researching! The theme for this blog sort of revolves around containing information and weeding through it to give it a purpose. Despite being out of sorts due to our vacation, I am still jumping back in and can "keep moving forward!" (Mike, that was for you!)

I did not get to read one single word while we were away, but I did detox. No computer, no television, just us as a family (and in most cases just passing out at the end of the day!) I did get the dreamer fired up and that was enough for me. My goal this week is to get my journal organized and get my dreamer onto paper and out of so much focus on coupons and deals. Balance my friends. Balance. I am now preparing to teach science tomorrow at our home school group and am getting plans ready for Madi for next week. I have never been known to plan too far ahead in school lesson plans!

I have more moments than I could really mention and to tell you the best ones would be too long. So I close out with a few thoughts that have really rooted themselves for me.

-I love my family
-My children are smart and incredibly good natured
-My husband is the perfect daddy
-There is NOTHING like having your little family unit together all the time, everyday learning and experiencing.
-A media detox is something everyone should do.

Progress and balance are slow to maturity, but rich in value.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Life happens in between diaper changes!



I have made two of my best shopping trips to date this week! I didn't need a lot, but I needed these deals! Kmart is doing double coupons this week. Our Kmart, unfortunately, doesn't have a lot in the way of food, but I took advantage of a few things. I had a bill of 23.79 and got Gatorade, peanut butter, Welch's jelly, 4 boxes of Rice Krispies, Cheese-its, Skintimate shave gel. My ending bill after coupons was 10.79!!!! THEN because I bought the 4 boxes of Rice Krispies, (which cost .25 each) I get a $5 gift card to Kmart !!!! Woo-Hoo!!!! Go me! Today, I went to Target and got 2 things of Dove Ultimate deodorant, 1 lb apples, 1 lb bananas and some Skippy Natural peanut butter and with some stacking of some Dove coupons and the apple/banana coupons from target, my bill was 3.40!! I also went to Publix and got a FREE Starbucks pint from a coupon I got and 2 free lbs of bacon from some coupons I found. We are going to be going on vacation soon and I am totally psyched at how much money I have save for this vacation!

I am still working on the balancing writing in my life thing, but I have, at the very least, managed to work it in at least 3 days a week. We have been unbelievably busy recently. Mike is building the hydroponic system in our garden. It needs to be done and fully functional by next week. I have picked up several things at our church from editing the script for our monthly family service, to actually being in the monthly family service, I danced in last month's dance service and also in the Art for a Cause last week. Arts for a cause was for the Buses and Backpacks program which provides food for families through the elementary schools in our area. Crazy times!

In kid news, Mackenzie is growing way too fast. She is sitting like a champ and trying so hard to crawl! Madison is getting ready to start kindergarten September 1. I cannot, in any form or fashion, believe I am the mother of a kindergartner! It is like living life in fast forward sometimes.

There are so many moments to choose from because I am so aware of them. It is really hard to choose, but a few of my favorites are:

- One of the best movie nights with the new Hannah Montana movie, Mike got his Starbucks java chip ice cream (free) and Madi got her popcorn. It was perfect.
- a few perfect evening in the pool with the symphony of crickets to top it off! (I love the sound of crickets!)
- Seeing the seeds we planted for our garden start spouting.
- In a recent trip to blockbuster, Madison said, "We better get these movies back." I said, "Why?" She said, in complete seriousness, "So we don't get busted! You know...Block-BUSTER?" with the stress being on the buster! Ah...life!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Made a trip Tuesday to Target with my good friend Summer. Four kids in tow! Good thing the place was near empty because we ran into Christy, our home school partner in crime and she had two kids in tow, who are friends with Madison! It was like a three ring circus in the produce department, but fun for us, none the less.

The reason for the trip was $1 off of a lb of apples at $1.29/lb, bananas $.50 off 1 1b at $.78/lb. Print them here. You can print as many as you like, but I separated the individual pounds into different orders. I got 2 lbs of each. We eat lots of apples and bananas so this was perfect!

I also went to Walgreens and got 2 Reach toothbrushes and a Cool Mint Listerine plus I needed Tylenol infant drops. On all that I spent $6 and got $6 in register rewards to use!
Here are some ideas I got from money saving mom.

Buy 2 Reach toothbrushes and 1 Listerine at $1.09 each (these are general prices)
Use 1 $3/3 coupon here (or $3/3 from the 8/2 newspaper inserts)
Spend $0.27 plus tax out of pocket, Get $6 back in Register Rewards
(I also bought Tylenol so my amount was higher)



I am going to check CVS today to see if they are still doing $2.79 milk with $1 CVS back. All in all, it has been a great shopping week!


We also got to go to Steak and Shake for free shakes with Daddy! It was a riot. We laughed so hard and had left over shakes to bring home. Definitely a night to put down in a memory book.

Today is a day for working on my novel. Pleased to report, the pieces are slowly coming back together on that unraveling I felt last week. I keep a sectioned notebook and there are sections for shopping trips, things to do, blessings, prayers, and ideas. This week, that notebook was put to better use than ever. I highly advise one!

We are counting down the days to our trip to Boston. Madi has full control of the calendar, other than my input on the things we must do. 14 days and counting!!!

Moments...

-Madison, Mackenzie, Mike, me...all laying in bed early one morning. Safe and secure. Mackenzie reached over and was holding Madison's hand. Perhaps my greatest moment of late!
-my grocery bill.
-Riding in the car to church with Madi, "jammin' out" to Hannah Montana!!! Love it!!
An evening poolside with one of my greatest friends, a nice glass of wine, kids playing, crickets chirping. Can it get any better?

Who are we without our moments?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Insight? Anyone?



Recent events have revolved around keeping myself on track. I have come to the conclusion that I expect myself to do everything and do it well. Prioritizing and setting small goals will give me better success. In my blogs, my purpose has been to define what I am doing, show progress, growth, and accomplish goals successfully.

Goals.
1. Save money. This is becoming more and more successful.
2. Write. This goes up and down. How do I fix this? My dear friend Maia gave me the advice that I will choose. She said it is better to write a paragraph than not write at all. Although I have been writing my blog, which is great practice and therapy, and also helps me organize who I am, I have not been working as I should on my novel. So, a paragraph at a time it is! Thanks Maia!
3. Read. I read to be a better writer. It is research in a way. I began re-reading the Half Blood Prince, recently, since I just saw the movie. I am not reading as much as I would like, but at least I can read a few pages here and there. So I count this one as a success in progress. I also read my bible which is what grounds me and convicts me to be the person I was meant to be.
4. Balance. I will achieve this as I get to work more on my writing. Why is it that the one thing that I feel could be my life's work, is the one thing I find hardest to accomplish? It should be where I focus and where most of my effort goes? In my reflection, I feel when it is time, it will happen. The rest will fall into place. Hence the balance!

Madi and I are taking a small summer home school break right now. We worked all summer. She is reading well and has a keen interest in science, which I happen to love teaching her. But we needed a summer too! We are going on vacation in 2 weeks to Boston. We will be flying! We have a calendar up and Madison is in charge of keeping our family's schedule on track! She is very good at it!

Last week, as I reported, I spent $52.00 on groceries. I found that with my creative food planning I do not need very much this week. I decided to make my trip today to the store. You must check out Walmart! I got Pringles for $1, peaches were on sale for .78/lb, yogurt .38...lots of stuff on BIG time sale. Walked out with all I need for the week for $24. I also have some coupons from target for $1 off apples that are $1/lb, .50 off bananas at .57/lb and .50 off Starkist at .69/can. That should make for a pretty good trip. Look here for some good ideas. If you are interested in home schooling or even supplementing at home, there is a free year subscription to a home school site that aids in curriculum, materials, and planning here.

Some of you have asked me to give you an idea of what I plan for food for the week. Here is what this week looks like:

Monday
Breakfast: home made blueberry pancakes
snack: nutri-grain bar
lunch: left over hamburgers/chicken/baked beans for Mike at work, grilled cheese and apple
snack: cottage cheese/blueberries
dinner: Mike at work remaining left overs, me left over chicken cutlets and green beans for me

Tuesday
Breakfast: bacon/eggs/toast
snack: peaches/cottage cheese
Lunch: Lentil soup
snack: yogurt/fruit
Dinner: Pot roast/salad

Wednesday
Breakfast: Cereal/fruit
snack: fruit/cereal bar
lunch: pot roast
snack: peanut butter/crackers
dinner: Pork chops/salad

Thursday
Breakfast: Pancakes (home made is cheaper...I calculated it=) fruit
snack: chips and cheese
Lunch: Left over lentil soup
snack: apples/peanut butter
Dinner: Mix of pot roast/pork chops all left over salad

Friday
Breakfast: Waffles (Kashi whole grain) fruit
snack: cheese blueberries
Lunch: Tuna Fish/ tomatoes
Snack: hard boiled egg
Dinner: ribs/ veggies


Hope this gives you an idea of how I work my meals. I try very hard to utilize all of the food I make. We can change up and not have the same meal everyday, however, it is really helpful to not cook every night and I can get Mike's lunch ready after I clean up dinner, right into containers and ready for the morning.

Here are some moments...the ones that truly make up our lives...

-Mackenzie sitting up with a huge smile. So proud of herself.
-A wonderful afternoon in the pool, just me and Madi
-"Girlie time" with Madison. She packed a little bag of things for us to do.
-Sitting at the dinner table, praying before dinner, Madi chose Nana to pray for and a moment later, Nana showed up at the door for a visit!

True progress shows evidence of lessons learned.
-Mike and I getting to swim alone for a few minutes Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Reorganize

This blog begins part two of my previous blog as I had too much to say in one. I am getting a little off task lately. I am starting to lose my feelings of organization. There is a need of some reflection to get back on track. My weekly Wednesday deadline with my accountability partner Maia has fallen after one week. We're talking seriously off track here! I am setting some goals and getting back to the root of my desires.

I have begun writing some articles for a website. Please check it out. It is a lot of fun and is getting some thoughts flowing. I have written a few already, but since I love writing, it is just an outlet! Check them out!!

How to Videos & Articles: eHow.com


In other life news, today, I went grocery shopping knowing I needed to get some meats and restock up on some things. Mackenzie, packed up in her carry backpack, and I made our way to 3 different stores and managed to get everything we needed, including the meat, for $52.47. I know my budget was $50, but I suppose I can cut myself some slack. Needless to say, Mackenzie and I came home, loaded our pantry, fridge and freezer and had home made peaches and oatmeal!

Last week, my 3 brothers and I took my dad to a baseball game. Now I must preface this with...I am a Red Sox fan. My brothers, however, are not. So we saw a Rays game. But the important thing is, we have never done anything like this and I cannot remember the last time it was just my brothers and I! We really had a good time. I did have a tag along. Mackenzie came too! She was cheering along with the best of them.

Here are my moments...
-Mackenzie raising her arms in the air when everyone cheered at the game.
-Seeing all 3 of my brothers together for a fun night
-Madison, being Madison, asking when we were going to live in the snow.
-Mike, looking at me like he was seeing me for the first time...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Catch up

It has been a little while since my last blog. I have been so busy that by the time I sit down, I don't want to think about what to write. I have so much to say, I am going to have to blog in two parts. That being said, I am not sure where I left off, so I will go forward with the following...


I made a new official grocery budget. I started with $100/wk, dropped that to $80, and have now dropped it to $50. Last week was the first week I tried it. This is what I did. I planned my meals out ( I need to do better at sticking to my plan), I made a list (after checking my pantry to make sure I didn't get doubles), and I kept my calculator out to add as I went (including tax). Then I subtracted coupons. My total (after 2 stores) was 46.11. I am going to get better at planning and sticking to the plan so I know I will not waste a single penny of my $50. I spent last month utilizing my stockpile of goodies so I have no more stockpile. Saved a lot of money last month. This month, I will have to find the best of the best of the best deals in order to rebuild the stockpile and keep to my $50. I am not sure I can stick to this budget but I am going to try really hard. I am no Money Saving Mom, that's for sure!!

Mike and I were allowed a night out last week. Since he was working at Universal, I drove him to work and took the girls to Celebration again. My friend Summer met us there with Paige and Caden. We had a fantastic afternoon once again, playing in the fountains and having a picnic. We went back home so I could get ready. My mom came out to stay for the night and watch the girls. Madi helped me get all dressed up. We have not been out without kids (except for Harry Potter night) since before Mackenzie was born. The greatest part (we thought) was we had as long as we wanted. I was even thinking, "My mom is still going to be there in the morning in case we want to sleep a little later!" I will elaborate on that in a minute.

We had planned on a fun night at Howl at the Moon. Howl at the Moon, for those that don't know, is a dueling piano bar. Lots of fun. However, we were wanting to go out to a nice dinner and spend some quiet time together, so we changed our plan. Mike resourcefully discovered a Mexican restaurant nearby and in the same plaza was a place called The Dessert Lady. It was absolutely perfect. The best part was that he picked it all out himself. He planned it so well, he took me to a Mexican restaurant full well knowing I hate Mexican food and knew this place had a specific item that I would love. He couldn't have been more spot on. And the Margaritas!!! I had been really wanting one! The Dessert Lady was like we were on a first date! It was so quaint and quiet. We had these enormous dessert and some sparkling wine. It was rejuvenating for us. I want to do it again, soon! However, the morning thing...not so much. Mackenzie woke up at 3 to eat and the at 6:30 for the day...Booooooo!!!! Night out officially over!

I will leave you with these moments as I have rambled on a while...

-Mackenzie sitting up for the first time
-Madison watching me get ready to go out with daddy and picking things for me to wear
-Mike holding my hand
-my clean kitchen
-Mike coming home from work with a sigh of relief
-my children, safe and asleep in their beds. Thankful doesn't cover it...

Moments...small, irreplaceable moments.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Accountability

When I began this blog, it had some purpose. See previous blogs to understand. My purpose was mainly balance. Or shall I say, to report my growth in the area of balance. This shows progress. Also, see previous blogs. There has been a lot of progress in my life in the last year, but I really want to make progress in my passions. Writing and reading being two of them.

I was speaking to my friend Maia, a true and beloved confidant, we came to some defining conclusions. We have both discovered that becoming mothers and wives and the simple act of growing older, we have lost some of our identifying personality traits. It seems being a mom and a wife is the easy part. Being ourselves, ironically, is nearly impossible. We decided to hold each other accountable for our desires. She has a love of writing as well. She writes amazing stories, but she also is a composer. One of the best I have ever heard. I am a former musician and have played my share of music, so I can safely say that and make an impact. That being said, we are going to have a deadline every week when we will submit our week's work to each other. Our first deadline is next Wednesday by midnight. I am continuing my novel which has been completely and utterly removed from my life since before Mackenzie was born. I will be continuing the rewrite process and editing. My goal is to have it submittable by November. Progress. Balance.

A few people have asked where I get my coupon stuff and how i figured out the money saving "stuff". I follow a blog called "Money Saving Mom" and "Coupon Mom". The coupon mom site has a great, free download that is basically saving money with coupons 101! You may have to find a similar blog that works around the stores in your area. Each of the blogs I read have tons and tons of links to other similar blogs. Honestly, it has been a matter of trial and error and I have also done some reading. Others I know, (ahem, Annette,), seem to be more natural at it! Its a process!

I have joined the dance ministry at our church. First off, I have eight, count them, 8, years on the next person in age to me. It only goes downhill from there! But, I am really having a great time and I feel like I am doing something great with a talent I love utilizing! It also helps that they are all limping too!

Here are some pictures from a trip to the Celebration fountains today. We had such an amazing day. Just the girls!






Here are my moments:

-playing "hot potato" with a floppy, bright pink, jelly toy with Madi
-Mackenzie playing in the fountain, bouncing up and down on my knee with glee
-Seeing Harry Potter. If you know me, need I say more???
-A perfect day with my girls in the sun and water that will fall in the books as a perfect memory
-Staying up way too late to hang out with Mike who has been working way too much
-my clean kitchen and quiet house for a few moments alone. I don't usually like when Mike isn't home, but if he has to work, those are moments worth treasuring.


Progress is evident. The scale balances periodically. Being held accountable may help with my entire purpose.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

This week has been pretty normal. The only difference has been Mike is back to working 7 days and some double shifts between Disney and Universal. Today is the first of the double days. Madi, Mackenzie and I occupy ourselves very well with school, cleaning, cooking, reading, pool, friends, and shopping.

This week, I made my shopping trip a big priority. I have made it 2 weeks without grocery shopping. I used to have a grocery budget of $100/wk, but in recent months, I have been down to $80. This month, I really wanted to challenge myself. So I skipped a few weeks, utilizing my stockpile. The only time I bought stuff was the essentials. Eggs, milk, breads and some fruits and veggies, but a lot of those were even stocked up either in the freezer or cans. Needless to say, to make a long story short, I coupon clipped and found all the stores with items on sale. I also found the things that Kmart was offering that I needed using double coupons. Target did some amazing Kashi sales making their cereals and waffles so cheap! I bought some big items that we needed like a huge box of diapers and the 3 liters of olive oil (more expensive than you think), I got tons of cereal and waffles (less than $1/box, stocked up on ice cream (very cheap), fresh fruits and veggies (which can be frozen if you buy in bulk), and managed to fill my pantry and fridge and deep freezer back up after 3 weeks so I will not need to shop again for 2 more weeks...my average is down to $40/wk!!! I plan to keep it that way...even work my way down further. It can be hard when I have to add larger items. But I plan on keeping my stockpile up and my grocery cart cheap!

Madi is progressing with her butterfly lap book. She is also really enjoying her comparison of farm life. We did a dollar store lesson this week using her earned money from watching Mackenzie (while I shower or go in the garden), and doing extra jobs around the house. She is learning about the coins and their values as well as what it means to save. She could choose to buy slippers that she wanted which would cost most of her money or get 3 items at the dollar store saving some to put back in her piggy bank. She chose option 2!! I was very proud!

Today we are able to finally reorganize Mackenzie's room as we got the guest bed out. We are going to do some baking, paint our nails, make a new London Broil recipe and go in the hot tub! Just us girls tonight!

We are planning our first family vacation. We have to plan carefully as we are a cash family and need to make sure we know every penny we will be spending. So exciting to plan together. Looks like we will be heading to Boston with a great possiblity of seeing a Red Sox game at Fenway!!! A website called skyauction.com has been a huge help for our budget...we'll keep you posted.

I will wrap up with some small moments.

-Madison holding Mackenzie on her lap
-an entire night of fun with Mike as adults!!! right here in our home
-realizing at church, the things that make me feel valid and strong came from God Himself
-dancing again for the church ministry
-some new successful recipes
-a sunset out our sliders that took my breath away










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