Friday, April 30, 2010


Titus 2:4 shows us the importance of generations coming together to benefit the body of Christ.  I firmly believe there is much to learn from each other.  There is a great amount that the younger generations can learn from the older, and probably even a great wealth to be learned by the older generations from the younger.  I believe this is a reason God promotes unity so often.  We need to be unified to maximize our ministry as Christians and ambassadors for Christ.
So, out of this desire spawned BRIDGE.  I like the name of it because it's the game the older generations sit around and play over light conversation, and because I feel like our purpose right now needs to be to BRIDGE the gap between generations amongst our church.  There is so much to be learned from one another, there is so much encouraging to be done for one another, and to be quite frank, it's about time we start loving one another appropriately, empathizing, building up, and cheering for each other through all of life's valleys and mountains. 
Thus, I introduce BRIDGE.  Come check it out at 6:30 on Wednesday nights!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alas, a Date (And the Cardinals, every girl's dream :)

It has been a long time since Aaron and I have had a real date, alone, for no specific purpose besides being together.  Today ends that hiatus, thank you, Jesus.  AND, what makes it even better, our date is to a Cardinals game. 
I LOVE LOVE this time of year.  (Because if you say 'love' twice it means something different.)  I don't know what it is, but I love Cardinal games, I love going and enjoying and eating stadium food and cheering on my boy Albert.  I love the fans and the game.  I go into Cardinal fever every year at this time.  I miss it horribly when we don't have the opportunity to go! 
Soooo - low and behold, we're on our way to visit Busch ;)
Go Cards!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What It All Comes Down To

I want a deeply intimate connection with the God who created bees and trees the color turquoise.  I want to love Him greater than I love my husband, my son, and the beach.  I want my heart to flutter when I consider what His love for me must look like.  I want every deed, every task, and every activity to bring me closer and closer to the God who created me.  
I want to be able to cast aside theological hang - ups for the sake of intimacy with Christ.  I want passion to trump knowledge.  I want relationship to trump religion.  I want to stop learning about God and start getting to know God.  Jesus died to repair our relationship, to make way for a relationship to even happen, and if I'm just learning about God than Jesus died for nothing.  It's the relationship that matters, not knowledge alone.  
I want to step away from the steps that lead us to salvation, and I want to encourage people to fall in love with Jesus.  There's not a 3 step, 10 step or 12 step program for Christianity.  No.  It is Jesus commanding people to love God with all of their hearts, souls, minds and strengths.  If we love God with all that we are then we need not take any steps.  We have already made bounds.  Steps don't move mountains, but faith does, and I firmly believe that faith and love are quite closely intertwined.  
So I pray that every word I utter, every dream pursued, every lesson learned would all lead me nearer to the God who gave me brown hair and hazel eyes, and cast every star in the sky, that I would love Him more deeply as I become to know Him more intimately.  

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Any Thoughts?

It never fails, at least once a year I'm asking myself what I'm going to do for some kind of employment.  I guess it's what I get for substitute teaching and being so comfortable doing it.  I really enjoy being home with Bryton occasionally, though.  They are only young once. 
Of course, summer does roll around and when it does that always opens up my schedule completely.  This year is no different.  Here I sit trying to brainstorm, again, another way to help supplement our income (this time for our basement ;) until school is in again.  
I need something somewhat flexible so that I can take the week off for summer camp this year.  Besides that I'm pretty good.  I'd love to watch a kid / some kids.  That would make for good summer work.  
Ultimately, I'd love to make a living blogging and writing.  I wonder how difficult it'd be to publish a book or 12 ;) 
Any thoughts on supplementing income?  Know any kids who need watching?  

Monday, April 26, 2010

You Wouldn't Ever...

So, I firmly believe that most women deteriorate through the night.  We can go to bed looking like rockstars, but I'm pretty sure when we wake up most rocks are more appealing than we tend to be.  I don't know, maybe it's just me.  If so, I apologize to all the women who don't deteriorate through the night for lumping you in my starting statement.  I'm sorry.
Anyway, so I usually wake up with greasy hair and an oily face.  To be honest, I kind of gross myself out until I take a shower.  In fact, I almost bought some dry shampoo the other day (I'm actually still considering it), but I'm afraid that I'll still have the preconceived notion that my day will not be right if I don't bathe properly in the morning.  We shall see.
So my typical routine is, get up, go to the bathroom, check out the mirror to see what damage has been done while I was sleeping, hop in the shower and get to fixing.  You know, the hair has to be dried and fixed, the make-up has to be applied, the shirt has to be perfect, etc.  Me and the mirror are like this at about 7:30 in the a.m. 
 I don't leave it's view until all is well in the world of vanity.  (And keep in mind, folks, I'm not all that high maintenance.)  But I wouldn't ever roll out of bed in the morning, check out myself in the mirror and go "ehhh" and just walk away on to the rest of my daily activities.  In fact, even when I'm awful and sick I get up and shower if nothing else.  Why would I ignore what the mirror is telling me?  It's obviously not lying.  I wouldn't ever walk away without fixing myself, and I'm guessing you wouldn't ever do that either.
And yet the Bible is our mirror.  Many of us hear God's word at church or in a small group of some kind.  Some of us read it at home.  We see ourselves in the mirror that is God's word and it convicts us of sin and crap in our lives.  Sometimes it convicts us because of something we are not doing.  Yet many of us put down the mirror and walk on through our daily activities as if we'd never seen the greasy hair and blemishes, the ratty shirt and bags under our eyes.  We don't care, and we're too lazy to fix it. 
What needs fixing in your spiritual life today?

How I scored 101% Savings at Kroger

After I posted on my facebook that I'd saved 101% at Kroger I had a LOT of people asking how I'd done it.  Unfortunately it's not as exciting as it seems.
First, I transferred Bryton's lactulose prescription to Kroger, a $4 prescription that we're going to fill one way or another.  When I picked up his prescription I had a coupon for $20 that is added directly to your Kroger card when you transfer or use a new prescription.  Soooo....
I bought:
4 Totinos Pizzas
1 Bag of Frozen Broccoli
3 Green Giant Boxed Frozen Vegetables
One loaf of Bread
One pack of Kroger brand hot dog buns
2 Packages of Blackberries
1 Package of Strawberries
1/2 Gallon of whole milk
1/2 Gallon of 2% Milk
Bertolli Frozen Meal for 2

I had a coupon for the Bertolli Meal ($1 off of the $4.89 sale price)
I had a .60 coupon off of 3 Green Giant Vegetables
I had a $1 off coupon for Totinos Pizzas

My total was $19.71, leaving them owing me .29 after the prescription money on my card. 
It was exciting seeing on my savings 101% :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Frugality Meets Simple Indulgences

You always hear people say 'it's the simple things in life', and I never believed that more until I became a parent.  There's something about having a kid that makes the simple things you once enjoyed (think cardboard box at Christmas) enjoyable again.  So, where is all of this going?
Well, I was reading through my Parenting Magazine the other night.  They have a May calendar with a 'guilt free indulgence' on each day (for mom) for Mother's day.  I thought to myself, "Hmmm, what a thought, something small to look forward to everyday?"  And I decided to create my own 31 days and bring you along for the ride.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that their ideas were bad, some were just not my thing and some were not quite frugal enough (or guilt-free enough) for this couponing queen. 
This is going to be even more fun for me because I've made it a challenge.  Aside from my mother's day gift from Aaron and Bryton (my day at the spa), I'm allowing myself only my 'blow' money to indulge myself each day for the month of May.  This will make 30 days of indulging (because one day will be the spa day) for less than $50.  Some things won't cost any money and some will cost a little. 
So I've thought and thought and brainstormed and brainstormed, and here is what I've come up with... my 31 days of May (in no particular order because, of course, we need some spontaneity in life and have to work around the best sales and coupon bargains ;)
1.  The spa day gift by Aaron and Bryton
2. Enjoy a snuggle from Mark's bakery, not an affection, a confection ;)
3. Treat myself to a warm bath, something I haven't done since BEFORE we went on the road.
4. Go to a movie.  When and with who?  I don't know.  Maybe with Aaron.  Maybe by myself.  Maybe with a group of girls.  But I want to do a movie.
5. Get a tan, laying out with a good magazine.
6. My own quiet trip to Barnes and Noble... I'm a geek at heart I think, I wanna find a good book and curl up with some Starbucks and just sit there.
7.  Two words.  New underwear.  Even if it's just one pair.  I recently just got the two pair for almost nothing, but it's rare that I ever buy myself new underwear.  (Yet it's one of my favorite things ever!) I usually get all new underwear once a year with a gift card to VS from my mom for my birthday.  Now I'll get one pair on one day in May, too ;)
8.  I'm going to find some cardinal tickets.  Cheap.  Either through Stubhub or ebay, or friends, or maybe even being the first 550 to show up at a game.  We'll see. 
9.  I want a convertible ride with my husband, with the top down, on a nice night.  Whether that be in Du Quoin, Carbondale or St. Louis, doesn't matter to me, but I want it to be just the two of us.
10.  A trip for 3 to the zoo please!  Bryton's old enough that he's digging animals now.  And when Bryton's digging anything I am digging life.  So one of my indulgences is going to feed off the happiness of my offspring ;)
11.  New music on itunes.  Some new tunes for mom.  I'm getting the ipod ready!
12. Girls random trip anywhere.  I can't elaborate on this one because I don't even know what it'll be.  I just know it'll be cheap and spontaneous... something we don't always do... or ever do.  Woo hoo, here we come!
13.  Movie night in with the husband.  I'm ashamed to admit I don't know how long it's been since we've curled up on the couch and watched a movie.  It's about time.
14.  Game night.  It used to be a simple pleasure that I took for granted.  Now, it's hard for me to fathom getting a sitter to go somewhere else and play games, but it's also hard to fathom doing them here after Bryton is in bed because I worry about waking him up.  One way or another, it's too much fun not to do it, so game night it is.
15.  Video game night with the hubby.  This one is expected, as Super Mario Galaxy 2 should be making it to our door soon.  It was one of our favorite things to do in our dating life ;) Me beating him at Tiger Woods Golf on Playstation.  Now it's me helping collect Star Bits on the Wii.  The times they are a'changing ;)
16.  We're going to ride the Amtrak.  It may only be to Carbondale, but by golly, I've always wanted to do it and it sounds like fun.
17. I'm gonna write a book (like the grammar?)  I don't think I say enough how much I LOVE writing.  If I could do anything for the rest of forever I would blog and write books (and make money doing it).  So, I'm going small scale here, and I'm going to write a children's book and maybe see if I can get a student to illustrate it for me.  Maybe I'll even 'publish' some copies of it and try to sell them here in town.  That'd be great fun!  But for this particular day, just writing the book.
18. Have a yard sale (or find a way to sell some stuff).  This may seem like it would be more of a nuisance than an indulgence, but school is out at the end of May and I'm worried about funding the basement for 3 months while I'm not working.  So this is an indulgence too.
19.  Dairy Queen. 
20.  One piece of costume jewelry.  This is something I don't buy hardly ever.  But I want a staple piece that is CHEAP.  (Cheap because I always say I'll wear it and then I never do.)
21.  Antiquing and yard sale hopping.  Aaron and I went when B was little this time last year.  I want to go again this year.
22.  Homemade doughnuts.  Okay, so they are kind of homemade, they are biscuit doughnuts.  I can literally finish off a whole can by myself if someone would let me.
23.  Naptime in mid-day.  You know that whole 'sleep when the baby sleeps' thing.  I've never done that and thought maybe now at the age of 18 months would be a great time to give it a try.
24.  I'm going to get something free off of Craigslist.  Who knows what, but it'll be fun looking ;)
25.  I will forgo some kind of craft project for the basement.  Maybe I'll find an old bench to paint or make some wall hangings.  We'll see.
26. Do something nice for a stranger.  Something out of the ordinary.
27.  Do one thing I have never done before.  Could be anything. 
28., 29., 30.,  31. I'm allowing myself these for indulgences that 'come up' through couponing or what not.  There's no telling what I'll end up with!
So there are my 31 things.  We'll see how they turn out!  What about you?  What things would you do to indulge yourself for 31 days?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Basement Work Has to Start!

SO - today we're cleaning out the thing!  I'm going through and repacking everything down there, seeing what we can live without, and hopefully selling a lot of it either through facebook or at a yard sale.  (I've got to make that extra money... I'm nervous about not working all summer.   We'll have to see what work I can get part time or something.)  
Then, work on our basement can begin!  I'm ready to it to have been done YESTERDAY!

Friday, April 23, 2010

And Yes, The Tree Did Fall

How appropriate as the title of my blog is, "If a Tree Were to Fall," would these pictures be, as trees, two to be exact, fell yesterday at the Gregg household.  It was how we had planned for them to fall though, by chainsaw and planned landing, instead of the chaotic landing promised by storm.
These two trees were once towering over our home here in town, unfortunately on the side of the house where both of our bedrooms live, and, unfortunately, storms in Southern Illinois tend to only come in the middle of the night.  So of course, during every storm since we've lived in this house, I've lost a great amount of sleep wondering what fate would befall us if one of those trees would 'be-fallin' on us in the middle of the night.  Storms did not make for good dreams.
I can sleep better now knowing no trees will break into our house in bad weather.
It's funny, though.  We had the trees taking down on Earthday.  People probably think we are the anti-Christ's of the tree-huggers.  I guess I'll plant some flowers or something to make up for it.  The tree-cutter guy said we'd have grass on that part of our house now, and grass is green, so look, I'm going green and didn't even know it ;)
And I'll answer my own question about the trees a'fallin'.  We heard them, oh did we ever hear them.  We heard the big rumbly truck all day, which was actually kind of soothing, weird, huh.  Then we heard the vroooooo, vrooooom of the chainsaw sporatically, along with a random loud THUD when big pieces of trunk were hitting the ground.  At one point I looked outside after the house shook from a big thud thinking the whole tree had to be down, and I was shocked and surprised to see it was only about a 3 foot section of trunk.  Trees are apparently pretty heavy.
Good for B though, he slept three hours through the festivities, with the big bucket truck a literal arms length from his window.  Yet, we can step on a creaky board in the middle of the night and he stands up in his crib.  Crazy.
 This last picture shows Bryton's window and it's proximity to the tree.  Now put a big truck in between the tree and the house.  Exactly.
Be looking for 'cleaned up' pictures.  I'm excited! 

I Went Coupon Crazy...

Two blogs in one day!  But I couldn't resist!  I had way too much fun couponing today.  Here's how I did:

- I had another $10 off of a $10 purchase coupon for Aeropostale in my email yesterday!  Those crazy people just keep sending them!  As long as they are sending them, I'll take them ;)  SO, this time at Aeropostale I spent exactly $2.25.  I bought a shirt for an undisclosed individual (I'm buying Christmas early), and I bought myself a pair of underwear that was on clearance 70% off to put the total over $10.  (I saved $34.40 off of original prices!)

So, so far my total is $2.25 for the day.

- I had a couple dollars leftover on a JC Penny gift card so I went in there to see what I could find.  B almost got a plain sweatshirt but I didn't see the point much of a plain sweatshirt so I found yet another pair of underwear for myself, and a JCPenny reusable shopping bag.  (I'm collecting them to start 'going green.'  So far I haven't spent any money buying them.  I've got them all free.  My total at JCPenny was $1.10.  

That makes my total $3.35 at this point.

- Next I hit up Bath and Body Works.  This one was the most expensive transaction.  I had a coupon for a travel size signature item with any purchase.  I purchased a hand soap for our house (in the scent island nectar or something like that, it's wonderful and they only have it in soaps and antibacterial sanitizers... booo) and I bought a travel size shower gel that will go in a mother's day basket to a particular grandmother.  Total = $5.34. 

My spending has now reached $8.69.

-Now, this one is the most fun, and, believe it or not, it's Walgreens.  (It could have been better, too, had I printed one extra coupon... bleh.)  Anyway, here's what I got:

Transaction 1:
1 Kotex U product on sale for $3.49. 
I had a $1 manufacturers coupon and I received $2.50 in register rewards.  I paid $2.76 out of pocket. 

Transaction 2:
3 Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotions on sale for $2.24 each
With the purchase of any three Aveeno products you got an Aveeno travel kit for free (9.99 value)
I bought a bag of gummy worms for .39 because I needed a 'filler' item.
I used 3 $1.00 off Aveeno coupons and the $2.50 register rewards from transaction 1 and got all of this for just $2.16!  Woo Hoo!  (I saved $18.84 on this transaction alone!)

Transaction 3:
I actually just bought another Kotex U product exactly like Transaction 1.  I earned the $2.50 in register rewards and have a good idea at what I'm going to spend them on.  So I spent $2.76 again at Walgreens.
My total at Walgreens all together today was $7.68.  BUT, I still have $2.50 in register rewards so I'm going to substract that... which makes it $5.18.  That makes my daily total:

$13.87!!  And that covered one shirt, two pairs of underwear, a reusable bag, one hand soap, one body wash, three aveeno daily moisturizers, one aveeno travel kit, two kotex u products and a bag of gummy worms!  Woo hoo!  Stay tuned for more! 

New Family Pictures

We are lucky enough to have an amazing friends who takes amazing pictures.  He's been around since the beginning for us.  He even took our wedding pictures... and it was that time again... so here are a few of my favorties.  If you are from around here you should check him out!  Jason Hill Photography! 
Needless to say, I'm looking for lots of coupons for prints right now because I'll be printing and gifting a LOT of these!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


One of these days I'll do a full blog devoted to the adventures of substitute teaching.  I've come to the conclusion that you almost have to be a certain breed of human being to do, and enjoy, this particular work.  For today, though, I'll leave you with a story:
So, yesterday I was substitute teaching in the elementary school.  First grade, to be exact.  I tend to read people pretty well.  I can 'peg' the 'troublemakers' right off the bat, usually, I can quickly figure out those who need extra help, those who don't need extra help, and those who know that they don't need extra help.  Like I said, I can read people. 
This particular story takes place in the afternoon, well after I've had this whole classroom of students all day.  By this point I've pretty much figured them out, at least the important teacher things that one would need to know for the day.  And it was reading time. 
There were several pages in their reading book they were reading, and I was calling on students to read a page at a time.  After each page the students would raise their hand for me to call on them to read.  Of all the students, one particular student urgently raised his hand each time. 
I'll be honest, I avoided him for awhile.  I knew which reading group he was in.  I'd had him at my desk once already that day with complications reading words the other kids breezed through.  I knew he'd have huge problems and, honestly, I didn't want that embarrassment for him.  But he kept raising his hand. 
I must interject at this point that next to this particular student sat another student.  He was in the 'other' reading group.  He had flown through all of his work all day.  He was well liked, well groomed, well mannered, and well studied.  Everything in him shouted it. 
Okay, back to the story.
Finally, I realized I was not going to avoid student a's urgent request to read.  So I found a short page, and I called on him.  One girl in the front row rolled her eyes.  Other students had already 'told' him the first word before he even had the chance to look at the page.  That urked me, at least give him a chance.  And you know me, I say everything, so I said that, "Guys, hush, it's not your turn to read, it's his.  Let him read."  And it grew quiet... as this student stumbled over every word slowly. 
But when I looked up, I saw this popular classmate leaning in behind him, waiting a few seconds for him to get each word and, if he couldnt, whispering it under his breath.  No one else in the class knew what was going on... but with the assistance of his classmate Student A read that page and he read it well.
But that's not the only noble deed that came from student B.  Student B offered to read next, and this particular student who had succeeded all day in class, had read with a breeze earlier, had flown through his math problems, well, he stumbled over his words, and he looked at Student A for the same help he had offered to him just before.  I was speechless.  I didn't know how to feel.  On one hand, frustrated.  Just because he doesn't do well doesn't mean you can't either.  That doesn't help you at all.  But on the other hand, joyful.  This first grade student was doing all he knew to do to help and feel with another classmate. 
All in all, it was a blessing for me to experience.   The blessing was in the care that one 1st grader felt for another. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pen to the 10 Wednesday - 10 Things I Wish I Would Have Known in HS

I know I've missed some Ptt10 Wednesdays.  I've been busy and am trying to get back on track!

I didn't particularly hate high school, but I didn't particularly love it either.  I mean, seriously, it's a time when your body is changing like crazy, your hormones are out of control, leading to some major mood swings, there is a ton of pressure regarding performance in school and in your social life.  Yet these are supposed to be the best times in our lives. If so, I didn't have much to look forward to after high school.  So here are the 10 things I wish I would have known:

1.)  Seriously, it may be trendy now, but you'll make fun of it, too, in five years.

2.)  Your acne is probably not as bad as you think it is.

3.)  Win or lose, the memories and lessons learned from playing the game are what really matter later on.  A state ring doesn't hurt though ;) And a state loss is much better learned from than a state win.

4.)  Everything really does change after High School.

5.)  Many people call themselves your friends and sell you out in an instant.  Your real friends may be those you'd never expect.

6.)  One bad grade on one test does NOT ruin the rest of your life.  Two bad grades won't either.

7.)  Ones value is not defined by their boyfriend / girlfriend, if they have a date to the dance, or a jersey to wear on Friday nights.  I took too much time to figure out me, and my confidence suffered.

8.) Find something you really believe in and stand hard for it.  You may feel as if you stand alone, but you'll gain respect for it.

9.)  The biggest impact made by a teacher may not be during lecture, it may be in passing in the hall.

10.)  These are NOT the best days of your life.  Talk to me after you get married or experience the birth of your first baby and you'll know what I mean. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This Weeks Menu Planning, and Menu Planning Debriefed

So I've talked a few times in my blogs about menu planning.  It is a discipline I stumbled upon myself in my first stint of this couponing thing, but it wouldn't have taken me long to see a lot about it.  It's on every couponing website at some point. 
BUT, it can seem tricky and overwhelming if you haven't done it before.
So here is, in short, what I do:
1.)  I check my pantry / fridge to see what I already have as far as meat, frozen veggies, and boxed dinners are concerned.
2.) I have a going shopping list of random things I know I'll need but I know I don't check for in step one.  Like this week, stick butter is on my running list.
3.)  I then create as many dinners out of those items I found in number one, using as many ingredients as I have in the house as I can.  (You'll see this below.)
4.) Lastly I look at sale ads (for me I check Kroger because that's where I shop.  If you shop at Walmart, look there), and I check my coupons to see what else I can add to my menu plan for the cheapest that week. 
Here is my menu plan for the next two weeks (we do two weeks, some people do one).  NOTE:  I don't plan what nights particularly we are having what... though if I have a product that could go bad I try to use that meal plan early.  You'll see.  My meals for the next 15 days are these:

1.  Sausage / fries (we have these two items already in the house.. its the kind of sausage you put on the grill.)
2. Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad and bread.  (only using 1/2 lb hamburger)  I just need salad for this meal.
3.  Hamburgers (out of the other 1/2 lb hamburger), pasta salad, fruit and chips.  I need the fruit, chips, and italian dressing for this one.  Not to mention hamburger buns.  I'll use this stuff later too, though.
4. Pork tenderloin on the grill, corn, bread, fruit.  I just need the fruit in this meal.
5.  BBQ from leftover tenderloin and onion rings.  Need the onion rings for this one.
6.  Macaroni Grill boxed dinner, salad.  Just need salad.
7.  Grilled Chicken breasts, grilling beans, corn.  I need another bag of corn.
8.  Biscuits, gravy, sausage, eggs, fruit.  Need the fruit and eggs.
9. Beef and Noodles, mashed potatoes, biscuits.  I have everything for this meal.
10.  Chicken casserole, peas, and bread.  I need peas for this one. 
11.  Hamburger helper, salad, bread.  I need the hamburger helper.  I chose this meal because I have a digital coupon and a paper coupon that I can stack to get the helper cheap and 3 packages of hamburger in the freezer.
12.  Sundays at our house have now been deemed "leftover or sandwich" suppers.
13.  Sunday #2 in that 15 day plan.
14. & 15. I allot these because we'll probably eat out twice in that two week span. 

SO - from that list, for dinners, I have to have:  2 salad mixes, hamburger buns, italian dressing, thousand island dressing (aaron's fave and we're having lots of salads), fruit, chips, onion rings, corn, eggs, peas, and hamburger helper. 

For lunches we'll do leftovers, sandwiches, chips, fruit, and yogurt.
Breakasts will include cinnamon rolls, cereal, yogurt, toast, or toaster strudels. 

Of these I'll purchase:  bread, lunch meat, hot dogs, hot dog buns, yogurt, and cereal.  I have everything else. 

And of course, we always need milk and juice.

So my actual 'shopping list' to feed us isn't huge this time.  So, I take the 'other' money in my grocery money to stock up on 'on sale' items that I have coupons for so that my next meal planning ends up like this one, with a lot of stuff already in my pantry and fridge. 
Hope this helps! 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Saving at Target

Well, I tried my hand at my first Target all out couponing experience yesterday.  I didn't do as great as I would have hoped, but I didn't do too bad either!  I did learn that apparently stores put out specific types of items on clearance on specific days of the week.  Then, apparently, all the other couponers go and but it out :)  I need to find those days! LoL.
Here's what I got:
Listed it is as follows:  A Febreeze room air freshner, a New Scrubbing Bubbles Sprayer, Scrubbing Bubbles Sprayer Refill, Finish Dishwashing Tablets, a 4 pack of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, A box of Turtles, Everyday mag by Rachael Ray (part of a gift, paid full price), Garnier Fructise Hair paste, Scrubbing Bubbles gel toilet cleansers, Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Wand Starter Kit, Scotch Brite kitchen wipes, Kandoo wipes, Garnier Fructise shampoo/conditioner, 2 benydryl bite sticks, caress body wash, softsoap body wash, and Clairol Preference Hair Color. 
I ended up saving almost exactly 50% with the coupons I had in my hand.  My total (after tax) was $42.70, and I saved $39.00.
Also, though, I received a $5.00 Target gift card AND had a mail in rebate for $5.  Both were for my scrubbing bubbles purchases. 
So, to include ALL coupons, my total was $32.70.  Not bad! 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Budgeting = Cheerful Giving

There were a lot of things I expected to come from this budgeting adventure we're on.  We're still working out all of the kinks that come up here and there, but the 'financial peace' (okay, the pun is kind of intended), that comes with knowing that we have bills taken care of when they get here is, well,  a huge weight off the shoulders of our family.  
Aside from this financial peace we've found we are being able to undertake projects we didn't think we'd be able to (the basement), we've been able to buy items we didn't expect to be able to afford, and, well, I've found a hobby, ah hem, addiction, that I really kind of enjoy.  It's made me feel like I do something worthwhile in our household.  It adds value to the little bit of income I do bring into our home, and that feels good. 
But being on a budget has done something else for me (I can only speak for myself).  It has allowed me to understand what it feels like to be a 'cheerful giver.'  Since I've been a Christian  have always tithed most of the time... and usually 10%.  There were always the times I just didn't know that I could go without those funds, or at least not all of those funds, so I did what I thought I could do.  
Well, the budget allows us to know what we can do, and we can do 10% as a tithe, and we can do more towards our church's building fund, on top of the World Vision child that we sponsor.  Being on a budget removes the doubt that we won't be able to make ends meet.  Being on a budget means the tithe and offering money is 'gone' before it is ever really there, which really, makes me cheerful to put it in the offering plate.  Today was our first fruits Sunday for our finances towards our building fund, and I actually teared up, joyfully, to put that check in the offering plate.  
It's amazing.  If we are good stewards with our finances, like God commands us to be, then we are more likely to be cheerful givers, which God also asks of us.  It's amazing how if we are obedient in one area it aids the obedience in another. 
That's all for tonight!

Proposal for a Teen Business

I worked at Taco Johns as a teenager.  Don't get me wrong, I still crave potato oles and my own special concoctions (it's interesting when I order at TJ's), and I have the expertise to make my own house dressing at home.  Ask me, it's easy and wonderful.  I did, however, spend a whole lot of Taco Tuesday's laaaate into the night cleaning up.  Lots of homework got pushed to the side, and, I unfortunately missed a bit of church here and there on Sundays.  The schedule wasn't beautiful.  
Now, I'm a parent and long past my TJ days.  I've had lots of different jobs and currently have lots of different needs.  One of those... babysitters. 
We are lucky enough to have amazing girls in our youth group who are wonderful sitters!  They have a lot of experience and are great with kids.  And, it never fails, we, as our last minute selves, are calling around a few hours before we 'get away' looking for a sitter.  And it all got me thinking... 
We need a babysitter's club in this town.  Here's my proposal:  (I've given this WAY too much thought)
- A group of teen girls (and boys?) willing to babysit.  
- They are certified in CPR / First Aid (a free class offered every year just to babysitters)
- They have a rate, whether hourly or per time or whatever.  I'm thinking, oh I don't know, $4 or $5 an hour with a minimum of $10.  (What girl wants to give up her night for you to be gone for one hour and pay her $5.  Not worth her time.)  I don't know about you, though, but sometimes I have no idea what to pay.  If you have more than one kid, maybe add $1.50 an hour.  (I told you I've thought about this a lot.) 
- The girls have loose schedules.  Okay, so they are hs students, hard to have a set schedule, but with a group of students 10 wide or so, you're bound to find someone available when you need them.  It's easier for us to make one phone call to one person who finds that available babysitter for you, though.  Maybe that "call to" person makes a % of the girl's sitting wages, for doing the booking.  And maybe that could rotate by month or something, so everyone has the chance at that extra income (and first dibs at babysitting jobs.)  
- And I like this one, of course.  How about a coupon system?  Even something as simple as a 'punch' card.  Use the babysitter's club 10 times and your next one is on us (4 hour maximum). 
I think in a town as small as ours they would thrive!  The ease of making one phone call, the certainty as to how much it cost, and getting to really know a good group of sitters is priceless!  
What do you all think?  

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Some New Deals

It's really sad when I have to look in my inbox to see what I have coming from items I've ordered this week.  I'm finding this couponing thing to allow us to have money to be able to get good deals, so every week seems like Christmas with all of the free or almost free stuff showing up at my house.  So, here's the scoop:
This week in my mail I received:
1.  This shirt from New York and Company.  I came upon a $10 off any purchase coupon, which made this shirt (on clearance for $7.48) free to my door.  
2.  I also received a Potty Training DVD from Huggies.
You can go Here to get yours!

3.  I also received my FREE photo book from Pixable!  This is going to be a "brag book" for Gammy for Mother's day!

This week I ordered:
1.  A glider from  Here was the deal I got on it. 
     I noticed the deal on my friend Brooke's handy blog Brooke's Bargains.  The Glider was on rollback for $50.  (And the reviews on it are great!)  Aaron and I have also been thinking about preordering the new Super Mario Galaxy 2 for the Wii, and in quest to make my Glider bargain better (you've gotta look or you'll never know!), I found that if you preorder this video game you received a $20 egift card for  Hardy har ;)  So, we have the video game preordered and this here rocker for right at $80! (I also almost purchased a crib from her website the next day!  You should check it out!) Also, you can score the video game deal here!
2.  I ordered a free Veggietale DVD here, and I paid only $2.99 to get it to my door.  This will probably make it into a shower gift basket before the summer's over.  Lots of babies coming!

3.  I have rocked my own socks off planning a baby shower for one of my BFF's, Shelly.  :)  I think she appreciates my bargain hunting so when her shower is over I'll list all of the awesome deals I've accumulated.  I'll put it this way... I've got three HUGE free deals this week that will cover the most expensive parts of shower planning!  Look for that blog in May! 

4.  I scored a Rachael Ray magazine subscription for one year for $3.99 for a birthday coming up.  Check out The Thrifty Couple to see how I pulled that off. 

5.  And lastly, this week, my Mother's Day this year is going to be accompanying Aaron to his IBSA golf outing and taking advantage of the Spa while he golfs.  I wanted to find the best deal to feel like I was getting my money's worth.  The spa is offering a card (a $20 purchase) that offers you 6 discounts: 25% off of your most expensive service, 30% off the next expensive, 35% off the next expensive, etc, all the way to 50% off.  You don't have to use the card all in the same day, but being that it's not totally close I'm making a whole day of it.  After services were booked my itinerary is a 50 minute full body massage, a facial, a spa french manicure and spa pedicure, with huge percentages off of all of my services!  I'm very excited, and very much looking forward to it! 

Well that was the big things this week!  I get so excited to tell you about them!
Check back soon for more, non-couponing blogs!

Friday, April 9, 2010

What's more frustrating than being sick?

Everyone in your immediate family being sick... for a long time.
Ugh, I think I've already blogged about this once, but seriously, I've had it up to here with sickness.  It seems like there have been just a scattering of days here and there since the end of FEBRUARY that we all three have been healthy at the same time.  And if there is anything worse than being sick yourself, it's someone you love being sick.  Especially a baby. 
First and foremost because you really care about them and don't want them to be in pain or to feel bad.
Second, because sometimes sickness means not only weary baby, but weary family.  Weary family means neglected relationships, and, well, you get the drift.
I hate... I repeat, HATE, going to the dentist, and I had a 4 hour appointment scheduled today at the University to have my teeth cleaned, x-rayed, etc.  And with B being sick again... thank you pollen, I was looking FORWARD to that appointment.  Yeah, seriously.  We need a break from the snots and fevers.  Pleeeeeaaasssse....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Remember the Spirit Is

 At the time when we celebrate Easter, giving thanks for the Resurrection of Christ and the forgiveness of sins, I celebrate also the Spirit that lives within us, provides us with gifts and wisdom.  This Spirit is the Jesus that lives with us, the Spirit who never leaves us, the Spirit who can change us.  On this Resurrection Sunday I'm thankful for all of the trinity, though I understand it little.  This is for the Spirit within me.  (And God and Jesus I suppose, since they are one ;) It's been a long time since I've written in poetic verse.  Rusty, but it felt good. 

When the days are weary, the goings tough,
When the world's unsteady, the tide is rough,
When all in all you've had enough,
Remember the Spirit is. 

When dreariness makes for weeping eyes,
And the world still feeds a wealth of lies,
And no one's there to sympathize,
Remember the Spirit is. 

When shadows cast upon the morn,
And perfect lives, like cloth are torn,
And burdens upon us all adorn,
Remember the Spirit is.

The Spirit is amidst our pain,
Amidst our chaos, amidst our shame,
To carry us and heal the lame,
Remember the Spirit is.

When the sun is warm upon our soul,
And in our joy, all aglow,
Where all beauty within us flow,
Remember the Spirit is. 

When lovely days didst now appear,
One canst contain the wealth of cheer,
When facing life with little fear,
Remember the Spirit is.

The Spirit is amidst it all,
In any trial, triumph, fall,
One need not even have to call,
Remember?  The Spirit is. 


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Girl's Retreat and Easter

Many of you know that the girl's retreat was the past two days.  Our group dwindled to 12 as of the time we left the parking lot, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed.  It's hard not to look at numbers sometimes, and we went from having more than 20 last year to having twelve this year.  I was slightly bummed. 
God made it obvious, though, that He was there to work specifically on the 12 of us who went.  We shared together, talked about our stories, how we are living them and who we are living for, we enjoyed each other and we deepened friendships. 
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the girls.  It was really a great time!  The Melting Pot was great.  Poor Linds had to eat like a rabbit thanks to her gluten allergy, so I don't know that she enjoyed it as much as she could have, but she said the chocolate made it worth it.  (And she got chick-fil-a later.  Thank God for gluten free fries!)
I find it to be no coincidence that our only time this year to have the girl's retreat is right before Easter.  What a great double dose of Jesus! 
We're excited about all of the normal Easter things, hunting eggs with B this year, I've got his Easter basket put together, having a nice Easter dinner with my family, etc.  More so, I'm excited that B will one day have the opportunity to have relationship with God through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.  If there's something to be excited about that is definitely it! 
So I pray that if you do the 'bunny' he brings lots of goodies and fun to your household, but I pray even more fervently that he would bring to you the He who so lovingly and sacrificially gave Himself for you. 
Happy Easter.