Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Personal Update

It's been awhile since I just updated on us... so here it is.

Let's see... Aaron's working hard this week.  It's VBS week, which is always difficult for him, missing all of his mornings to plan the same number of lessons he always does and his same Sunday morning worship service, not to mention all of the other 'desk work' he does during the week.  We always feel the stress on VBS week... next week will be nice for us to relax a couple of days and celebrate our anniversary.

Bryton is great!  He is such a delight at this stage.  (I hope he is at every stage ;)  He is finally getting some words out!  Of course those of you who know me know I freaked about this for a long time... waiting for the little guy to spit it out.  He had been right on the ball with all of his other milestones, but was dragging a little bit on this one.  The dr., after seeing him last, laughed at him and told me he was lazy.  Fine with me, lol.  But it seems like we're getting new words out everyday now.  Some consonants and blends are still giving him a time, but I've finally calmed down some.  His favorite word right now has to be daddy, which I'm convinced he says 9,483, 713 times each day.  He does know momma now too, so I'm good with that.  He also likes ball, bup (cup), baboon (balloon), spoon, shoe (he struggles with the sh but we know what he means), puppy, Zeke, kitty (since we visited the File's house last night), hi, and bye bye... to name a few.  He is even starting to distinguish between certain kinds of balls, namely footballs and basketballs.  (Basket is another one of his favorite words)  Unless things change, I see an athlete (or at least a wanna be athlete) in our future.

Me, well, most of you know I'm pregnant.  7 weeks and 4 days to be exact, and I'll be honest, I'm exhausted.  Sick and exhausted.  This pregnancy threw me through a loop, because I wasn't expecting at alllll to be feeling this way.  Bryton's pregnancy was a breeze.  No exhaustion, no nausea, no aches and pains... no real symptoms besides a growing belly and my swelling at the very end... and everything his pregnancy wasn't, well, this one is.  My friends tell me it has to be a girl because of the difference.  If my calculations are right, we should find that out about the end of October.  I don't know that I can wait that long.
I did have a little bit of light bleeding which resulted in getting some bloodwork done, a rhogam shot, and then an ultrasound, but everything checked out well.  Baby is growing right on schedule and had a heartbeat of 145.  My next appointment isn't until mid-August. 

We still have intentions of finishing our basement.  It's moving way slower than we once expected.  I think we both need a big jump-start.  We've really just not been working on it.  We are somewhat inexperienced at this home renovation thing, and so I don't really know that we have any idea what to do next.  It should be interesting to see what transpires there.

So anyway, that's us right now.  I'll be updating periodically, and of course will be couponing and sharing my heart.  Keep checking back. 


Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Didn't Use ONE Coupon!

Okay, so I've been posting lots and lots of posts about all the money I have saved (and you can save too) buying groceries, gifts etc.  In fact, I've been posting so many of those that I'm afraid people may be under the impression that I save 80% every time I shop... and that's far from being true.
I do strive for 50% at least off of big shopping trips, but, there are times we just need to get by for a few days and we do just that, we get by. 
So here is another way this 'couponing' / 'budgeting' thing saves me money.
Our 'budget' lasts us from paycheck to paycheck, so we are on a monthly budget broken down into bi-weekly increments.  If you're lost (because I can't seem to find a better way to word it), all you really need to know about that is this:  we have until Thursday to survive on our grocery budget before it gets replenished.  SO, I needed to have meals planned from today - Thursday, and I had approximately $25 left in grocery budget.  (I cut our budget way short these past two weeks to help pay for our anniversary expenses coming up.  I had my stockpile of food built up enough that I almost was able to cut my $125 (for two weeks) grocery budget in half and still be able to make it work. 
So, after going through my kitchen, finding out what I had, planning four meals dependent on what we had (and what this pregnant woman thinks she can eat), and comparing sales, I made my list and went to Kroger.  And this is what I bought to last us the next 4 days:
1/2 Gallon of 2%
1/2 Gallon of Vitamin D
A container of Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Dozen Large Eggs
French Bread from the bakery
Hamburger Buns
Sandwich Bread
I bought these things to make:
1.  Cheeseburgers (have the burgers in the freezer, cheese, and all I need for 1 of 10 different sides already in my stockpile.  this is why stocking up on sales is so important.)
2.  Homemade french toast, with homemade syrup, fruit, and bacon (I'm totally stoked about this supper meal.  I got the recipe from a woman on the road, and it's ammmmmaaaazin!) I have everything in my house for this except the bread, bacon and whipping cream.)
3.  Pot roast, potatoes and carrots.  (Have the pot roast in the freezer)
4.  Pizza night.  Yep, one of the .49 frozen tombstones I got from Kroger during their mega sale.  it's a cheap quick meal, especially on busy Wednesday nights.)

All in total, I spent $19.03 to complete our meals this week, and I didn't use one coupon!  (I did, however, still manage to save 24% somehow.  I bought the potatoes on managers special because I knew we'd use them all soon, and I think the milk was on sale... but I ended up saving almost $7.)   We have plenty for lunches for those days, even if they are grilled cheese, pizza rolls, pb&js, or frozen meals, and plenty for breakfast with frozen waffles, instant oatmeal, and like 4 different boxes of cereal.  (Or an egg or two if one so chooses.)
I will admit though... I have about $5 left in my grocery budget, and our new budget starts on Thursday... and Kroger is fitting to have one mean sale on Twinkies, and this pregnant girl could eat a twinkie, let me tell you.  So, instead of paying $3.99 a box for them now, I'm saving the craving for Wednesday and getting them for $1.88!  Wooooo hoooo!  It's the little things ;)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Almost Five Years Ago

It's not our anniversary yet, but it's getting close.  I love our anniversary.  I'm pretty sure I'm a hopeless romantic, and I'm pretty sure Aaron would probably agree with that statement. 

I always hear people say, it feels like only yesterday... and they mean it in a good way, like life has been so good with their spouse that it feels like only yesterday they married them.  You know, they still feel like newlyweds and all.  So, I guess, kind of in a sense, it does kind of feel like only yesterday.

But more than it feels like only yesterday... it doesn't.  With time comes growth, and God has grown us a lot in the five years we've been married.  We started off like any normal couple, but it didn't last that way long.  Less than a year after we were married we went on the road with Ken... and that, honestly, felt like an eternity.  I'm not going to lie.  Aaron and I learned a ton about each other.  I had to grow up and learn what it felt like to be loved even at the most wretched point I could become.  Even when I was unlovable... he loved me.  And I'd be lying if I said we felt like we were newlyweds then.  We didn't.  There were times where we felt a long, long, long way away from being newlyweds. 

Then getting off the road, and moving away, and having our hearts be far from where we were, and then having a baby, yes, it's safe to say we are probably no longer considered 'newlyweds.'  The world looks at that as if it's a bad thing, but you know what I think? 

I think that real marital success isn't the 'ooshy mooshy' newlywed feeling that is fleeting (though  nice from time to time), I don't even think it is the lasting from eon to eon.  No, lasting without loving is meaningless, and who wants to be in a meaningless relationship?  No, real marital success is living each day and learning from the experiences that you choose and the ones you don't.  It is making a choice despite all circumstances to love deeply.  It is seeing your spouse at their worst and knowing how to encourage them to be their best.  It's falling more and more in love with the friend who always has your back.  It's sometimes surviving in order to experience thriving. 

If love was only newlywed bliss, is that really love at all?  No.  Love surpasses feeling.  Love even surpasses knowledge.  Love for me is knowing that five years ago, when choosing the partner I'd keep for life,  had I known all that would transpire, all of the circumstances, all of the trials, and all of the wisdom, I could have found myself only more excited to rush down the aisle and say 'yes' to the man who loved me despite me... just like Jesus did for us so many years ago.  And that's really what love is.  Jesus. 

Would I change all of the experiences we've faced?  Absolutely not.  Even in the worst of the worst of them we found love.  Even when we felt alone and tired, we found strength.  Through all that our hearts have hurt from and leapt from, there has been wisdom.  And I've got to experience them all with my best friend.  That is love.  


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Only Time I'm Involved in Knitting...

Is when someone else is doing it inside of me...
So I've joined this online forum where a bunch of us women who are due in March have all gotten together to chat and share pregnancy together.  Overall it has been a pretty rewarding experience.  I'm seeing many women share what they are going through as far as symptoms, getting to experience a lot of highs of women who have heard that first heartbeat at their first ultrasound, and unfortunately have said good-bye to a lot of women who have lost that baby and left the forum.  It's been a great place to connect.
Today there was a post, though, that just killed me.  I'm trying not to see to judgmental, or to 'holier than thou', but one of the posts was a woman venting that being pregnant kind of freaked her out.  She talked about how weird it was that livers and kidneys and a heart were forming inside of her at this very moment.  I was shocked with how many people agreed with her.  I mean, I consider being able to carry a child, and allow God to knit that child together inside of you, as one of the greatest privileges this side of Heaven, all symptoms aside. 
I don't see livers and kidneys (though, thank God for those, as they'll make the fragile body of my baby function properly and work on it's own), I see ten little fingers and ten little toes, little eyes that will stare up at you someday and little lips that will make a smile.  I see little lungs that will make for a great cry, and a great belly laugh someday. 
Granted, I've had several more 'pregnancy' symptoms this time around, but I'm loving (I really can't say that with enough emphasis) experiencing the miracle that is going on inside of my body.  Psalm 139:13 says, "For you formed my inward parts, you knit me together in my mother's womb."  The way I see it, God is at work in my body, in a visible, believable, and eventually a tangible way.  There's nothing that freaks me out about it. 
I look forward to one day feeling that baby move around my belly, and another day to holding him / her in my arms, liver, kidneys and all.  It all comes together to make a baby... our baby. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Little Vent About Insurance to Ease the Stress

I'm understanding now why insurance companies do so well.  We pay astronomical premiums to rarely use the service, they bank the cash, make some pretty interest on it, and then pay much cheaper cost for the medical procedures than we actually do.
We've paid $150 a month extra on our health insurance since Bryton was born for maternity coverage.  So, in theory I've paid then approx. $3000 since B has been born.  Still out of pocket, after the birth of this baby, we could owe somewhere around $6500 between deductibles, coinsurance, and a nice little "extra" $1000 they tacked on the beginning of this year for labor and delivery (on top of coinsurance and the regular deductible.)  If I was paying what the insurance company is paying for these services, I may have been out a similar cost to not have had insurance, plus I could have invested the money myself.  (That is, if all is well this pregnancy.)
Don't get me wrong, health insurance definitely has it's place when things go really bad, but think of how much those companies are making off of basically healthy people like you and I who don't file claims very often.
Please don't misunderstand me.  I'm thoroughly excited to be pregnant and would pay 4 times more than that for a precious addition to the family... (and would do it again and again as well).  I just think there are problems in the system somewhere.  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pick Up that Snake

So, I'm still trying to get through the Bible before baby number 2 is born (I hope to give Baby this Bible someday), but I've only made it to Exodus Chapter 4.  I've got a ways to go.
But I've been thinking a lot about Moses lately.  The guy has good lineage, good faithful lineage, but you and I both know that faith has to be one's own adventure.  So in Exodus 4 Moses and God are chatting, God is giving Moses direction and Moses is asking a lot of questions like, "What if they don't believe me?"
This is where it gets intriguing to me.  God tells Moses to throw down his staff.  Moses did, and it turned into a snake.  Moses jumps back, obviously.  Then God says, "Stretch out your hand and grab it by the tail," and Moses does!  Did you catch that?  God didn't say, "Stretch out your hand, grab it by the tail, and it'll become a staff again," (which still wouldn't be very easy for me to do), no, He simply told Moses to grab it, and He did.  That's rockstar faith right there. 
And I'm going to go ahead and tell you, I would have had some great hesitation, after seeing that trick, with putting my hand inside my cloak. 
Hebrews says that faith is the evidence of things not seen, and it looks to me like Moses had that idea down pat at this point.  We aren't shown that Moses hesitated any when asked to perform open ended instructions.  God never told Moses the outcome, He just gave Him directions and Moses obeyed. 
What would it take for you and I to do that? 
I don't know... faith? 

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Saved 71% at Kroger

I wasn't going to put you through the pain of such a small picture, but I wanted you to know that Kroger has a great 'Buy 10 Participating Items Get $5 off' sale going at the moment.  I plan on taking advantage of this at least two, if not three, times this week.   This is what my cart looked like tonight:
4 - 64oz bottles of Welch's Grape Juice
3  - Cans of Red Gold Tomatoes
3 - Green Giant Steamers (frozen veggies)
1 - Personal Size Digornio Deep Dish Pizza - this item was not on sale (but wait until the coupon ;)
1 - Package of Lifesavers gummys (sweet and sour, my faaaavorite candy!) - this item was not on sale

Coupons I used:
3 - $1.00 off 1 welch's 100% Juice
1 - $.75 off 1 welch's 100% Juice
1 - .75 off 3 Red Gold Tomatoes
3 - .50 off 1 Green Giant Vegetables
1 - Get 1 Free Digornio Deep Dish Pizza

Total for all of the above items after sales and coupons:  $10.42!  I saved $25.34!
To find links for several of these coupons, plus more, visit southern saver's weekly Kroger write up here!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

An Impression vs. An Impact

I've been meaning to blog this since camp, but for some reason I've stared blankly at my computer screen several times and have forgotten all about it.  It's time it comes out.
At youth camp the worship leader, in speaking with us youth workers, told us, "I'm hoping we have the opportunity to make an impression on the kids this week, but it will be you guys that make the impact."  This got me thinking on a whole other level than what he intended it.  He was implying that he would make very shallow relationships with the kids for a week of their lives, and he would go on to his life and they would go on to theirs.  'We', being the youth workers, would go home to continue ministering to these kids, speaking into their lives, and loving them like Jesus.
And that's where I got thinking.  Still yet, Aaron and I are lucky to really get to spend 2.5 - 3.5 hours during an average week speaking into the lives of students.  The rest of the time they are at home or at school. 
That's where Bryton popped into my head. 
I pray fervently that God would save him, that He would place within B a desire for God that is unavoidable, the Bryton would find Him quickly, and would love Jesus all of the days of his life.  
I pray that there are many spiritual influences in his life;  Sunday school teachers, friends, our friends, children's ministry leaders (praying for one of those), family, etc.  I want Bryton to have these people who will make an impression on him.  Ultimately though, we are responsible for making the 'impact' on him.  We are responsible for walking the walk, not just talking the talk.  We are responsible for daily family Bible studies.  We are responsible for praying with him, for sharing our stories, for being transparent, and for loving Jesus in such a way that there is no way that Bryton (and his sibling) can't see it. 
It's us, his parents, that will make the impact.  It's God that does the work. 
I continue to pray for the salvation of both of my babies, and my desire is that when they are 18 I have few regrets that I, spiritually, could have done more. 
until next time

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Let's Talk About Elizabeth

Here's another of the minor Bible characters.  She's Zechariah's wife, John's mom, a relative of Mary.  You know, the Mary. 
We were studying Luke tonight in our Bible study with the youth, and I couldn't help but find some amazing character wrapped up in this fairly minor character.  The unveiling of Elizabeth's character starts in Luke 1:6.  The verse relates to she and her husband, Zechariah, describing them both as " righteous in God's sight, living without blame according to all the commandments and requirements of the Lord." 
Man, what a title to be given!  I mean, have you read the Old Testament and outlined all of the commandments and requirements?  I have, and I fail daily!  To be seen as righteous and faithful after a time where God hasn't spoken for almost 400 years, that is a faithfulness I can't comprehend. 
But it gets deeper.
Luke 1:7 says that Elizabeth and Zechariah were without children, and the text clearly states "Elizabeth could not conceive."  To understand the depth of this it is important to know that in Old Testament times (which is the last time God had spoke at this point), being unable to conceive children was not only a burden personally, but was looked down upon by society as a curse from God due to some sin in your life. 
So here is this couple, who we find out later is very old, who are called righteous and as living without blame, through many, many, many years of trying to conceive, and most devastatingly, the label that she is living in sin.
The worst thing you could do to me, especially when I'm really living for Jesus, is point your finger out me and say that I'm not.  I've been told before, "And you call yourself a Christian."  Talk about heart piercing.  But how does Elizabeth handle this?  She's faithful.  It's a faithfulness I can't understand. 
And as the angel Gabriel comes and visits her husband, telling him of the child that Elizabeth is going to carry, finds himself struck mute, and it's Elizabeth upon hearing Mary's greeting who breaks the silence of God exclaiming:  "You are the most blessed of women, and your child will be blessed.  How could this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me." 
To have the faithfulness of Elizabeth, through long trials and pointy fingers... that is perseverance. 

Check Out Amazon

 * This sale was supposed to last until July 16th and it seems that Amazon has ended it early.  It may be to overwhelming response.  You can still try this if you'd like, but make sure you look for the discount before finishing the transaction!*
Amazon is having a pretty sweet deal on Playskool toys today.  Not only are they all marked down, but with a $30 purchase of participating playskool items you get $10 off!  Also, the items qualify for free super saver shipping, regardless that your cost could go below $25 with the coupon.  I also used a $5.00 gift certificate I had ordered from Swagbucks a couple weeks ago, and I scored two toys for Bryton (either for Christmas or birthday) for $17.98 shipped to my door!  Here they are:
I would advise checking these deals out before the day is done!  The discount shows up right before making the transaction!  Make sure you check for it!

A Pregnancy Blog

So it's only been three days since I've found out I was pregnant, but I feel like I've known for some time.  About a week and a half ago I began feeling extremely tired, and I was having some pulling sensation in my abdomen.  (Note, none of this happened with B, aside from the biggest 'absence' being a clue with him, I had no clues.)  Fast forward to camp and all of a sudden dresses and clothing that had been fitting wonderfully a week or more before was suddenly tight, and my belly seemed 'unsuckable'.  It wasn't going anywhere for sure.  I even told Lindsay at camp, "If I'm not pregnant then I've gotta go on a diet.  This is ridiculous."  But who ever gets this bloated barely 4 weeks into pregnancy.  I mean, really?
I'm now having a couple other symptoms here and there, but nothing like nauseousness, which I'm happy about.  I didn't have any issues with that with Bryton so I'm hoping we are good to go on this one. 
I'm reaaaalllly trying not to rush this pregnancy.  I want to be able to absorb and enjoy every second of it if I can, but I'm remembering how nervous first trimesters make me.  I'm trying to just sit back and relax and enjoy it.  Hindering the enjoyment is this summer cold I've suddenly come down with.  It isn't bad by any means, just uncomfortable.  I'd love to be able to take any kind of medication I wanted to get feeling better, but I'm trying not to take anything this early on.  As weird as it sounds, I'm thankful for being able to appreciate the cold symptoms.  (But I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be happy when they are gone.) 
I'm really excited about this journey in our family, and am really looking forward to naming and bringing home another Gregg.  Aaron and I have already been working on names ;)  We knew when we found out what Bryton was that his name was Bryton.  I want to know going in to that ultrasound what Baby's name is going to be!  We have some time for that... approximately 4 months ;)
Until next time!
-a (and Baby)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lots to Catch Up On

It's been a LONG time since I've blogged, namely because I was at camp for 7 days, 3 of which I had no internet connection, and, I'm not going to lie, after going without it that long I had only a small desire to get on dutifully.  So I kind of took the week off.  It was nice and much needed!
Camp was good.  I can only speak from the perspective of the girl's, since I was, indeed, a female chaperone and not a male chaperone ;)  I must say, I think I had great talks with every girl that went.  I thoroughly enjoy them not only on a 'youth minister's wife' level, but even on a friend level.  Those girls are each near and dear to my heart for several different reasons, and each one is very special to me.  I wouldn't trade the time I was able to spend with them this week!
It has to be said, though, I must be getting old, because I was exhausted when I got home!  Whew, maybe it was all of those hills to climb, or staying up late, or getting up early, or who knows, maybe even pregnancy that had me so tired.  But I was, and still am a little, tiiiiired! 
I bet one phrase stuck out to you there, huh?  According to my pregnancy test this morning I am pregnant.  I actually have thought I was for some time, which is weird, because I never felt that with Bryton.  This time I've had several pulling and stretching sensations like I had with him between 10 - 15 weeks and forward.  I've also been unusually tired, and my clothes haven't been fitting right, which scares me to be honest.  It's a little early for that problem.  Don't get me wrong, I'd take these symptoms any day over vomiting and nauseousness! 
Still yet, though, taking the pregnancy test this morning, as much as I was expecting it, I had to make myself walk away from it and go pick out my clothes and come back in to reevaluate.  Finding out you are pregnant is the craziest thing ever.  I remember it with Bryton, too.  You don't completely feel like anything is going on with your body, and taking a test and it coming back positive makes you want more 'hard evidence'. 
With Bryton I used the tests that say "pregnant" and "not pregnant."  I should have done that again, because, apparently, in my head, a little plus sign is questionable.  I guess it'll be more real to me when I can hear a heartbeat at some point.  Being I'm only about 4 weeks in I've got a ways to go before that happens.   See it's even weird writing about this.  A good weird, none-the-less, but a hard to believe weird. 
So that being said, everyone keeps asking me what I want... a boy or a girl, and honestly I really have no preference at all this time.  With Bryton I wanted a boy, and I wanted a girl after him.  Now, I don't really care.  If it's a boy they'll be close enough to be friendly, if it's a girl I can dress her up and have that 'girl' time I'd never get with two boys.  Either way I'm totally content.  I just pray for a healthy baby.  I'm already petitioning the Lord for this baby's salvation, just as I did for, and still continue to do for Bryton. 
We're excited, and I'm already hitting up the baby name books ;)  Trying not to jump the gun too much, ready to get through this first trimester! (But not hurrying it... going to enjoy this pregnancy!)