Thursday, July 7, 2011

Kid Friendy Summer Activities (In Florida style heat!)

Summer is flying by!!!

With  7 year-old and a 2 year-old, I am always trying to entertain ideas of active things to do.  After a busy year of homeschooling, soccer, girl scouts and just plain life, I am anti-schedule and love to just play!  We can bake and swim in our pool, play games and read, which are all things we love to do together.  But at some point, leaving the house becomes a necessity.  Thankfully I have a fantastic network of friends who have kids of similar ages.  But here, in Florida, in the summer, outside activities become, shall we say, UN-fun!  It is so hot on a playground, it is not unheard of to come out with second degree burns on little booties!!  Lakes become a danger because the water gets too warm and can grow bacteria.  (We are also known for our alligators and snakes here.  See previous post about snake in bathroom!)  In fact, the neighborhood I live in had an alligator walking down the street not that long ago!  Now, the lakes are closely monitored and in some cases they are fine for swimming.  As for hiking, I revert to previous statement of snakes...but also the fact that the temperature is well up n the 90's with humidity like a steam room and a feels like temperature of...oh maybe 300 degrees??  Okay, so that might be a  slight exaggeration, but it is SUPERBLY hot. Aside from the scaly and slithery, we also have bugs that can pick you up and carry you away while sucking the life out of you resulting in some seriously itchy welts.

Did I paint a pretty enough picture of Florida in the dead of summer?  As an alternative, backyard pools, home made kid washes as some of my friends have dared to build in their yards, hoses, local splash pads are a favorite followed by picnic lunches, and indoor play are our options.  Malls are fun too especially with girly girls like mine who love Bath and Body Works with their sinks and sampling soaps and lotions followed by some dress up at Claire's!  We also have  multitude of bounce houses here, but they tend to be on the pricey side for such a short time.  I did find a deal today on Living Social for an all day pass to Jump N Joeys if you live nearby Clermont, FL.  For $4 you can come and play all day!  We also have a few dollar theaters here that are playing some great summer movies.  We have one in Winter Garden and one at Festival Bay! 

I have collected ideas over that last few years but love to hear what others are doing.  What have your summer days been filled with?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Is couponing really worth it?

I know Extreme Couponing is a total rage right now in our poor economy, but let me start off with I am NOOOOOOOOO extreme coupon queen.  I am a moderate couponer who pretty much refuses to buy things that I don't have a coupon for unless completely necessary, or I am shopping at Aldi, (Or I forgot to defrost or cook ahead dinner!!  It happens!!).  But despite the financial troubles people are having, I still hear a lot of people saying that coupons are either not really worth it, or they just don't have the time.  I even hear they wouldn't buy the items that the coupons are for.  If you give me about two minutes of your time, I would like to try to change your mind...

I make it my goal when I am shopping to save just as much as I spent.  If I gave the grocery store $50, I hope to have saved $50.  But I have been doing even better than that I managed to only give the store $86 (taxes were $2) and I saved $115.  Almost every single item had at least one coupon to go with it, if not two.  It only took me 45 minutes to print and clip and I left my house at 10:00 am and returned bu 10:52 am.  Let's round that up to 11 for the sake of, say, a bathroom trip.  That is 1 hour and 45 min total time spent couponing and shopping.  While we were at the store, my daughter held the coupons that I was going to use.  At one point, she dropped one and ran over to pick it up.  I said, "Good thing we didn't lose that one.  It was a dollar!"  She laughed at me, but when my total after the store took off its promo prices was almost $120.  I made her watch as the cashier scanned my coupons and the total went down, down, down and then I only had to pay the cashier $88.  Now I also realize that part of my original savings was the promo items because without those I would have paid almost $204, but my receipt reflected $30.10 of coupons and 85.83 in buy one get one pricing.  That is totally worth the 1 hour and 45 minutes of planning.

What about the junk food that coupons tend to represent?  I can assure you I am a home cooked meals kind of girl and I make just about everything from a realistic "scratch" that I can.  I do NOT shop organics though several of my friends do and are really beginning to get the hang of that, though it is still a bit pricier.  The most "junky" thing I got was potato flakes for instant potatoes!  I even got a ton of fresh fruits (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, spinach and spring mix lettuce), and almost 3 lbs of ribs!

Haven't convinced you??  Well, I suppose I can't convince everyone, but I feel like I need to try as hard as I can!  Ask away and I can tell you EXACTLY what I do in my 45 min. time slot! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why does healthy cost more??

I just wanted to post this quickly for you.  I am signed up with a website called Vocalpoint.  I take surveys and get free products and unpublished coupons.  I got one that I can share with all of you!  If you are like me, you like to give your kids the 100% juice and no sugar added type.  With as many additives and extra junk that is in the other types you would think they were the ones that would cost more...but alas, its always the healthy stuff that costs more!  Maybe this will help a bit!  Motts for Tots!  Click and enjoy!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Living Life the Simple Way


I suppose I should clear up what we have been planning in our lives lately.  We had decided we were taking a trip to Alaska on a mission trip with our church and were ready to turn in some money and firm it all up.  But God had another plan for us.  We had spoken about our kids not being able to go and about the cost.  We had discussed timing and "What would Dave Ramsey say?"  (I know that sounds funny, but we try to keep spending in perspective and we listen to him on the radio and have taken his class.  We respect his answers quite a bit.)  That is not to say we don't make poor decisions because God knows we do, we just try to make the good ones more often.  Making a long story longer, we decided Alaska was going to have to wait.  But we agreed that we would be taking a missions type trip this year.  We knew of a family from our church that has headed out into the mission field to plant a church in Salt Lake City Utah.  There is a heavy concentration of Mormonism there and they felt very led to join a team and plant a church.  They were blessed with the opportunity to, shall we say, train, in a church in Tennessee.  We decided to go up and meet with them in Tennessee and learn a little more about their mission.  It was truly enlightening.  Mormonism is such a mysterious religion and kept under tight wraps.  A lot of times their own believers don't even know what it involved in it. 

The team we met with were so unbelievable passionate about their mission.  They had a lot to teach us and we were eager to learn.  Several very late nights and an old, smelly apartment (our rental for the time we were there) we walked away a little more educated.  We had the chance to visit a few churches, one being the church they are learning church planting from and another, and Anglican Church, which has a model they are interested in following.  It was a warehouse they converted to a coffee house.  They hold church there and use it also like a community center.  They also have dinner afterward (it was in the evening.)  This particular evening, we managed to come on the jackpot of dinner nights as they had crab legs and ribs!!  We thoroughly enjoyed seeing two completely different styles of worship in the same day. 

On a less busy day, we all went to a nearby trail where we hiked in to a sort of swimming hole/stream and spent the day enjoying some water and sun in a way we can't here in Florida!  Madison won't touch a lake here but she swam in the river and jumped off the rocks even though it was freezing water!  It was so peaceful and great to be all together and enjoying each other. 

We also participated in a prayer night that they held every Monday.  They all seem so clear.  Now its just a matter of praying for the means to get there and doors to open for them.  Just an amazing journey they are on!  We are looking forward now to another trip to visit them in Salt Lake City.  Anyone wanna come along and help us to help them introduce themselves out there!??  I think a team would be the perfect way to get them going!


I had gotten away from coupons for a while and have been shopping at Aldi, but my husband seemed to notice our little had begun to get even littler.  It was about time I get back to building up!  So I have been using Aldi as the place for the reliable items I know I can't find cheaper anywhere else and I have been buying only the sale items I have coupons for at Publix and Winn Dixie again.  I also successfully took a trip to Sweet Bay where I score $14.50 in coupons on MEAT!!!  I never find those!  But  I discovered based on a tip my mother gave me that Sweet Bay puts coupons on their meats early in the morning!  YEA!  They also had a great booklet in the front of their store with store coupons including meat.  Dig a little...GET a little.

Home School
I have turned in Madi's portfolio, been evaluated, and officially got the notice that she can pass on to 2nds grade.  Thank God we are on summer break.  Well, our version of it.  We do part-time during the summer.  It gives us extra days we can take during the school year.  Such great flexibility.  Madi got to play with the kids that she went to her specials classes with everyday during the last two days.  They had a luau party and a game day.  She loves the fun stuff she does with them.

MOMENTS!!  (miss these.  I haven't done them in a while)
-All packed in our car singing songs and laughing like crazy on a really long road trip. (nothing greater than all being together.)
-The sound of the river and my kids laughing and playing with daddy!
-Seeing God at work in some amazing hearts including our own.
-Madison offering to carry some things for me when she saw I was struggling with them.  On her own!
-The girls sleeping in the same bed for the first time.  I see sleepovers!

I have one last thought to add here.  Our pastor gave a sermon on Sunday that put some great words in my mind.  The treasures are not here on earth.  We spend so much of our lives building up the treasures and wanting to leave a legacy for our children.  But the true legacy lies with Him!  We need each other as Christ's body.  We can't live in isolation because living a Christ-like life alone is impossible!  While he prayed at the end of service, I was busy scribbling these thoughts:

Christ's body of believers consists of a system of love and support.  Without the people of Christ, we live our lives isolated from the wisdom and collective experience of others who help us live.  Human life on earth is short and ultimately futile.  It ends, however, in a promised inheritance from and with God enabling us to leave a legacy of treasure behind that is most invaluable.  A legacy of Faith.  Hope.  Love in...for...and WITH Christ our savior.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Blogging Through the Bible and Life

I fell off the wagon again!  This just goes to show you how human and fallible I can be.  Things can be busy as a homeschooling mother of 2 but I know there is always someone who has it much harder, as I am frequently told.  In fact, I have 2 amazing kids who inspire me daily.  That said, I will follow their example and get back to blogging!

I cannot begin to tell you how insignificant I feel when I read Daniel.  We do not see examples like this, especially here in our country.  It is a book like this the brings the realization that we take our freedom to express our beliefs and religions for granted in a massive way.  Though Daniel lived in the Old Testament, he did still live.  It was a time of frequent religious persecution and oppression.  (And some people who live in our free society say they are being oppressed??)  The truth of the matter is that oppression is still alive today.  Its just not here.  I don't suppose there are many lions' dens around, but possibly an equivalent. 

Daniel 5 Daniel is worshiping the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron wood, and stone when, in all his drunkenness with his concubines and guests, a hand appears writing on the wall.  Of the magician's, soothsayers, wise men, and astrologers that attempted to interpret, it was Daniel, who was not compromised because he was daily with God, who understood it.  Belshazzar, with his jolliness, was 5:27 weighed and found wanting!  WANTING!  All this man possessed and he was found wanting.  I would like to call this lacking.  He was lacking the peace that came from a working relationship with God.  Void.  Empty.  The King was found wanting! 

My lesson that I can take away from this, is when I am found wanting, I know where to turn.  My face does not have to lose its color and and I do not have to cry aloud for someone else to tell me what to do or where to turn. 


Life is happening at a break neck pace right now.  School is winding down but we are still on full tilt.  We go part time in the summer to cover any extra days off we may take during the year.  Our summer is packing itself tightly in.  Mike is still working 7 days a week and sometimes they are long and we miss him.  We are so thankful Mike has this work, but that doesn't mean we don't miss him and get a little lonely. 

Lots of things coming up including some changes in plans, but all is very, very good and we are blessed and happy.  We are willing and ready to step out of our box, so look out world, here we come!  We have an amazing family and a fortress of friends who stand by us and love us.  I feel like I could be royalty sometimes, but thankfully, I have a place to turn!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reading through the bible...Ezekiel, idols, and the life of the dry bones.

I can't count the times I have read about not worshiping idols.  Worship God alone.  He is the only God.  Well, duh, of course I won't worship idols and I will only worship my God and savior...and in that very same breath I am planning my child's birthday party, making my schedule for the week and then sitting down to watch my favorite show while enjoying my nighttime indulgence of mint and chocolate chip ice cream.  In the last few books I have read in my bible, I have been bombarded with talk of worshiping idols.  I have quite literally been hit over the head with it.  God leading Jeremiah and in this case Ezekiel to get these blind people to stop worshiping idols.  Money, stature, power...I don't worship those things...or do I? 

I wanted to talk about what a noble and faithful man he was or how difficult it must have been to stand in the face of these people and tell them God thinks their are being idiots...forgive my bluntness, but you probably got the same idea from reading it, no?  But what I am going to write has all to do with idols and priorities.  What is that important to me that my schedule does not allow for time in my bible?  Time in prayer?  Why am I still blogging about reading through the bible a year later when my initial goal was 3 months?  I can tell you.  Idols.  My kids, my husband, my schedule, my exhaustion, my desire for free time.  These things take my precious time with God, whom I desire to lead my life, and have left me still desiring.  Still searching.  How, when I want Him to be so deeply, is he not my priority?  How can I sit down at the end of the night and say, "Not tonight.  I just need some down time?"  God made my heart sensitive and soft to other's needs, so why am I ignoring that?  He is searching for the Jeremiah's and the Ezekiel's of the world to bridge the gap between us and Him.  God desired for us to live a balanced life so we could have time for Him, not create time for Him.  In Ezekiel, God makes plain that he wants the best of our fruits.  The choice time, not the leftover.  It is so easy to gloss over my idols.  Even in prayer.  My prayers reflect my chaotic life.  It is worth noting that in all of my chaos, that last place I should be in is judgement of anything or anybody.  My path is far from perfect.  My days are imperfect.  My hours are imperfect.  So who am I but an imperfect being saved by grace and attempting to show God how I love Him and will, maybe someday, be better.  Not perfect.  Just better.  I have wanted to see vengeance.  To put that into words feels despicable.  But honest.  I am wrong.  It may be forced, but I am trying to learn the act of replacing the desire for vengeance with prayer.  I can only hope one day this will be a natural feeling and not oe born out of obedience.  He will take care of comforting me and making it all better.  Not my judgement.

I suppose the beauty of that is I feel that way because I have His spirit in me.  It came from somewhere and MY faith...MY!!!!  faith tells me it came from HIM!!  What a relief to see God's work come to fruition.  The people that God worked through...the difficult, yet they saw the reward of their obedience because they kept His spirit.  God asked Ezekiel if the dry bones could live.  Can they?  Mine will.  He said so.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Good News!!

I just wanted to update anyone who has been following that we will be making our first payment toward our mission trip to Alaska this week!!  God was there for us, communicating that He had a plan and we are to follow it and is showing us some open doors and some encouraging people!  We have a long road ahead of making it work but my feelings of blessing and gratitude tell me our faith is going to pay off.  Thank you and please keep leaving me messages as this little, tiny step develops.  I know this is just one piece to a much grander scheme.  God can be cunning like that!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Our Future

As some of you may know,we have been working on some big decisions.  We had a big fall that was stressful for us financially but we survived and came out the other side possibly better for it.  We have felt very compelled to teach others the things we have done to change our lives in the last few years.  It has really come to our hearts to evaluate what kind of Christian we truly want to be.  We have become comfortable with the little things we do.  Praying for others, volunteering some here and there, send a little money out for others to do the work.  But what are we actually doing
We took a few days last week to do some much needed family bonding.  We stayed 3 nights in a  little cabin in the mountains removed from as much normal as we could in an attempt to regain composure and reconnect as a family.  It was quite successful and we became pretty secure in our path and mission as a family.  We have been facing an opportunity, which to some, may seem trivial and easy, others could possibly relate, and yet to others this may be the last thing you would ever consider.

Our church is sending a team of people to a remote area near Juno, Alaska where a youth camp is located.  There is little known about Jesus or Christianity and much love needed.  Most of these kids come from homes that know nothing about God and in a lot of the cases, the camp may be their only source.  I cannot quite do justice to what this place offers.  You can check out some of the stories here.  We have always felt like our own country needed this kind of love too but seems to be neglected.  When this was presented we felt it was perfect.  But as the details have unraveled, we are struggling with it.  We have differing opinions as to which is the number one difficulty but since this is my blog I will state my number one which is we cannot bring our kids and will have little to no phone contact for 10 days.  There is computer, but lets face it, that is not the same for someone who stays with her kids pretty much 24/7.  Next is the cost of the trip being about $3000 total for us both.  This is also going to cost most of Mike's vacation and since he works 7 days a week every week, that limits the time he would have to take off for the rest of the year.  Not to mention a loss of some of his pay while out.

I have been praying and praying...and praying and praying...that God would reveal some unforeseen thing that would give us a clear answer but all I have heard from Him was Noah, Abraham, Job...they all did it!!  They had faith that God would provide for them and their families. I thought I even heard Him tell me they they just did it, and with a lot more at stake and for much longer and with much less and what the heck are you whining about??  Ok, well, maybe not in quite that eloquent of words!  But you catch my drift. 

I do not have a clear answer, possibly because I am blinded by fear.  But I do know it is time to stretch my reach past the Children's Ministry at The Church at Southlake and it is time to get out of my comfort zone.  Is a trip to the remote Echo Ranch Bible Camp a good place to start?

Please pray for our decision and our faith as we need to make it soon.  Our deposits are due next week and we seem to be riding Rockin' Roller Coaster!  Please drop me an email or Facebook message.

If you feel compelled to donate a few dollars to help us get there, you can call me too.  We could use all the help we can get!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blogging through the bible, Faith, and Upcoming Events!

In this blog...
1.  Jeremiah
2.  Life happenings
3. Upcoming events

I look at Jeremiah and see a hero.  But I put myself in his shoes and I feel defeat.  Jeremiah spoke directly to God.  He tried to tell the Hebrews they would be taken captive.  He warned against worshipping false idols and trusting in man.  One of my favorite images created in the bible is in this very book.  God tells them to be like a tree planted by water.  I have always worked out.  Running, weights, acrobatics, all types of physical exertion.  Thirst and I can be quite familiar with each other.  There is disarray in my workouts and I feel incomplete when I have thirst.  It must be quenched or there will be no result.  The tree God talks about is full and satisfied with water since it is planted nearby.  It will stay green and lush. Water is needed to sustain life.  I cannot sustain life without God's word and guidance in all things.  When I lose my faith and when my sites fall from him to earthly things, people and advice, I fall short in a multitude of ways.  He warned of all the things that would happen in the future and that they were not held captive by what those before them had done.  They were held accountable for what they did.  It is comforting to hear that.  It is a second chance.  A chance to break the cycle.  You are not responsible for others.  But you are responsible to stand firmly planted and drink up the liquid of life.  It gives me great hope in that these great prophets who were chosen by God reacted in such humility.  Moses believed he was not eloquent enough. Isaiah believed he was of unclean lips.  My favorite is Jonah who ran the other way.  Can't say I would react much different.  One would think that if God chose you, that the people would listen, especially as he spread news of their, quite literally, destruction! this a good indication that we should trust His plan even when it isn't going as we simple, sinful, mortals thought it should?

Life Happenings
It has been a great start to our New Year despite some minor setbacks with buying one car and selling another.  We pulled a Dave Ramsey and bought an older car in cash, sold Mike's for a profit and put a huge chunk to my car which will be paid off very soon!  Why do I put our financial stuff out there???  I am hoping to inspire people into changing something!  Changing something will get a different result.  We changed something, then another thing, then another, until, as we look back now, we have changed most of our lives!  I know things will still happen and they will not be planned and they may even be horrible.  I continue to pray that when they happen, I will be able to stand strong in the knowledge that I have done everything I could to make it through and come out the other side in one piece but able to manage if its a few more.  We have some big decisions to make this year that we have to make soon.  We are considering a mission tip to Alaska for about 10 days this summer.  This is without our kid and little to no communication with them.  We do, however, feel led in this direction.  The pros and cons are being weighed, but we both seem to be waiting for an ultimate answer...and we're waiting!  I will keep you posted.

Upcoming events
As multi-purpose mom, it has been my goal to continue striving toward a well rounded/balanced life.  This has gone spectacular in some instances and completely failed in others.  One area I truly wanted to strive in was my writing.  My children's Christmas books have gone out to a few agencies and been rejected for simple reasons.  Biggest problem being they are Christmas books.  I had them published but that publisher will not be working with these kind of books anymore.  I also wrote and completed  novel.  I have since begun tearing down and rebuilding it.  The idea came upon me with the help of a dear and awesome best friend, to begin a short story blog.  I thought it odd at first as I barely have the chance to work on my book these days, but soon, the idea struck me to write short stories ABOUT my book.  A sort of prelude to the book about the characters, their lives, their backgrounds that would be a foundation.  It is title Destiny Walkers.  Come check it out.  Feel free as I put up stories to give feedback by commenting.  I will be posting first, a background to my novel.  I would also like to see others' short stories  Coment with a link to the story. All in all, I have the creative juices flowing...may be dangerous, so look out!

-All 4 of us snuggled up in bed in the morning..we need a bigger bed!
-Mackenzie, "Daddy, I hold you!"  And Daddy more than happy to oblige!  Can we say pinkie?
-Madison walking around outside with me preparing our yard for what proved to be an ugly storm.  So old now...such a young lady!
-Madi holding Mackenzie on her lap for a movie.
-Movie night with "corn!"  As Mackenzie refers to popcorn!!

Change can be annoying but when you put a little change together, you get a bigger coin and sometimes you get a dollar!  It is so worth putting bits of change together.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Some Coupon Sites and Tips for the NEW YEAR of Saving!!!!

I found a new coupon printing site.  I really like it and wanted to share it.  I have stopped my Sunday paper...*GASP*...ever since I began shopping at Aldi because I found I got 95% of the things I need there at 1/3 the cost.  saves me an hour or more a week of couponing and polanning my trip.  BUT...I still love CVS-ing and the occassional trip to Publix for things I may not find at Aldi.  So I needed to find a place to print what I need online.  I still can use Whole Coupon Inserts and I cound another one I recently found called My Coupon Hunter.  The last one seems to be better for single coupons.  If you want it fast you are likely to find a printable here.  Sign up for free and look around!!

Just wanted to throw that out there as you begin your new year saving money!!  HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!