Monday, January 26, 2009

How to beat cabin fever

It gets hard being all cooped up in the house in the winter. With our kids getting bigger, the house is starting to feel "cozier" especially in the winter when we can't utilize the outdoors as much. For Christmas this year we asked for a 3-month membership to the Y. We've gone as a family a few times to swim and I've taken Little Dude with me several times to play in the kids gym so I could go have some treadmill time.

Unfortunately, we can't be at the Y ALL the time when we have winter wiggles out to work out. So, one has to get creative when trying to keep themselves amused and entertained. Let me offer you some suggestions the next time YOU find yourself wondering how to beat the winter blues.

You could, climb in a clothes hamper and let your younger brother roll you all over the house...

Or you could "twirl like a tornado" for 20 minutes

Adventures in Couponing

One of my "goals" for the new year was to become more of a coupon/sale shopper. There are people, GOD LOVE THEM, who put A LOT of time into crafting this art. I've seen pictures of a big haul that they have gotten from Walgreen's or CVS for $7 and have been amazed. Now, I'm not looking to having an overflowing stock pile of toothpaste necessarily. Partly because I don't have the space and partly I don't have the time. BUT, I do want to be more conscientious on what and how I spend for our family on groceries and other everyday items. Maybe as time goes on, I'll get better at the fine art of "couponing". BABY" STEPS!!!!

I actually found myself giddy over my Walgreen's trip today!!!! My haul and out of pocket wasn't quit worthy of a photo because I was hoping to spend a little less out of pocket than I did. I DID however have about a 6% savings on my purchase with the over $23 I saved in coupons. (When I add up my savings, I don't add in the "advertised savings") Which, I thought for a rookie, wasn't too shabby.

I sat down yesterday with the add, clipped the coupons I would use and found a couple of manufacture coupons to add to the Walgreen's coupons. Walgreen's has what they call Register Rewards. I purchased 2 2-liters of Hawaiian Punch and 1 2-liter of Sunkist soda for a sale price of 3 for $4. THIS gave me $2 back in Register Rewards. I did my first transaction with the sale items that would earn me Register Rewards. My total in Register Rewards today was $6. Then I did a second transaction with the items that I had bought with Walgreen's coupons, Manufacture Coupons then added my $6 RR to the $10 RR from a previous trip to get to my final price.

Although I thought it seemed like it was all well planned and mapped out, I made a couple of mistakes...TWICE I had to go back and get the item that the coupon was actually for because I didn't read the sizes of products very carefully. Then I forgot to give them one of the coupons so I needed to wait for the manager to come and reimburse me. Thankfully they were patient with me!!!

Overall, as dorky as it may sound, I'm happy with the outcome of my trip. Maybe someday I'll have a trip which I think is worthy of a photo to post!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Food Glorious Food...Saving Money

It is RIDICULOUS how much money we can spend on groceries! RIDICULOUS!!!! We don't even have teenagers yet. There are a lot of reasons that I've realized WHY we spend what we spend. Some of the reasons are important to me and there are places that I know I can improve and MAYBE save a few dollars along the way.

I am a food snob. I like good food. I like as natural and fresh of foods as I can buy. I'm not going to chose the cheapest brand to save money if it tastes bad. I had the years when I did buy cheap food to survive....that was called college. Good food is something we have chosen to invest in because ultimately we are choosing to invest in our health.

I also prefer organic food. However, buying organic is EXPENSIVE so I've had to decide what is most important. Milk and meat and fruits and veggies whose skin we eat. Shopping farmers markets and growing your own garden is another way to get organic fruits and veggies. This past summer we did a little better planting the right amount of veggies and eating them. I only made it to the farmers market once last summer.

Wanting good, organic food makes saving money a little bit of a challenge. But I believe that there can still be a way to save some money along the way.

There ARE lots of GOOD quality store brand foods, I will buy these. I don't buy the pre-packaged or frozen foods, these are expensive and loaded with salt and fat. Planning my shopping and meals will keep me out of the store in between trips. This will save me money also. How many of us have gone to the store for "just one thing" and come home with several bags??

One of the things I'm REALLY going to try to do is be a better coupon/sale shopper this year. This all has to tie into my planning in order to work. I have set coupon boundaries. Only buy items that I will use and make sure it's really a good deal. Buying 5 of one item to save 50 cents is NOT a good deal to me. I also need to think outside of the box a little bit. Walgreen's seems to have GREAT deals and coupons.....last week I saved over $20 by using coupons!!

The other thing that will save me money is to check my cupboards before I shop. Don't buy things I already have and create my meals around ingredients that I have. This will be especially helpful as I do coupon shop and stock up on staple/pantry items.

This is an area in which I hope to improve on this year. I hope that I can find a balance between buying foods that are healthy and taste good and saving some money. I hope to be better about farmers markets and our garden. I will continue to look for ways to save and cut corners. I'll keep you updated if I come up with anything brilliant and if you have any suggestions, I'd LOVE to hear them!

Food Glorious Food...The Plan

I love food....who doesn't, eh?? As a mom I find myself spending a majority of time planning, shopping, putting away, preparing and cleaning up after FOOD! We are a family of five and four of us are BOYS!!! My Sweetie has a good sized appetite, The Boy can out eat me most nights (and I can eat!!!), BuhBuh is hit and miss still, and Little Dude eats ALL DAY LONG!!!! So, since we are snowed in today and probably froze in for another day or two I thought I'd do a little "blog series" on the different things I do as a mom to keep this family happy and fed and share what strategies I am trying this year so that as the appetites of the kids GROW, my money doesn't SHRINK!

The first thing I'm going to talk about is planning. I am a person who needs organization in order to function. Although I live in it daily, even organized chaos can drive me batty. I have learned (through failure!!) that the only way I can keep turning out meals in our kitchen and have things on hand for snacks is to have a PLAN! The days and or weeks where I don't have a plan are the weeks of extra trips to the store and lots of favors for The Sweetie to bring home take out. This is where we spend and lose precious extra dollars.

Coming up with things for dinner can be a daunting task for me. Before I do my plan I ask everyone if there is anything that they would like for dinner in the upcoming weeks. If I'm feeling stuck I will spend some time looking through my recipe box or through cook books for something new. I LOVE trying new recipes! I try to gather a list of several different ideas of things we can have for the upcoming 2 weeks.

Just before every pay day, I try to sit down with our family calendar and plan out our meals for the next couple of weeks; pay period to pay period works best for me rather than a monthly plan. I look over our calendar and see what we have coming up over the next couple of weeks and plan our evening meals accordingly. I try incorporate leftover nights into my plan as well. If kids are off of school or have a half day of school I try to have lunch items on hand also. I then jot down in pencil on the calendar what meals we will have each night. I use pencil because often times things change and I need to move things around! One thing I've learned running this family is to be flexible!!! Kids and life can be unpredictable. Take tonight for example. It's Wednesday and we always have dinner at Church on Wednesdays....but because school was canceled church is also now I need to be able to come up with something for dinner. I know that I have things on hand for a meal and I can just shift things around.

After I know what we are having and when, I spend some time planning out my grocery shopping trip. Because of where we live, the closest grocery store is 15-20 minutes away. To "run to the store" to "pick something up" takes a lot of time out of a day. Typically I will shop during the day when the bigger boys are in school. Little Dude HATES shopping, so when I can I go at night alone it is pure bliss. Shopping alone doesn't always work which is why having a shopping plan is MUST!!! Mostly my shopping plan consists of an organized shopping list. I have a pre-printed list that has items grouped into categories. I go through and highlight the items I need to make the meals that we are planning to have. There are even blank spots to fill in for the things not included on the list. This system isn't fool proof, I don't think I've ever gotten through the store with everything on my list in my cart. I always forget something!

This year I hope I can be more consistent with menu planning and grocery planning. Dinner time is so much easier when I do so. It helps me on days when it's been busy and I'm too tired to think and it makes it possible for me to try new things on days when I have extra time. I also need to make sure I plan for treats and snacks too. My Sweetie and Little Dude are grazers and The Boy and BuhBuh like to have something when they get off the bus and before bed. Planning my shopping trips helps to make them more efficient and hopefully one day I'll figure out a way to get through the store and home with EVERYTHING I need!!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Car Talk Part Two

This morning on the way to the bus...

BuhBuh: I want to paint my room black and whenever someone walks in I want 'dum dum dum dum da dum dum da dum....(key change) dum dum dum dum da dum dum da dum**' to start to play

**Darth Vadars march song

My Boy

Last night was The Boy's Winter concert at school. It was on the stage, under the lights in the auditorium and everything!!! He's in both choir and band this year...I was so proud of him last year when he told me he was going to stick with band and give choir a change. He was THE best dressed young man last night....

I've been working on old scrapbook pages of him and it amazes me how grown up he's beginning to look. Then I remember that yes, he is 12 and in middle school now, that's the way he's suppose to look. He's growing into a teenager with all the challenges and perks that comes with it and I have to continue to remind myself that at this point in his life I need to be his cheerleader and give him the support and encouragement he needs to make this transition. I need to step back and allow The Daddy to be more of the discipline enforcer and role model in his life. Not that I am relinquishing my mother duties, but I figure if I continue to mommy the baby, then it will be harder for him to grow into the man he is to become. I need to let him fall, and get back up on his own, I need to let him see the world through his eyes and decide the path that he wants to travel, I need to give him more opportunities to figure out his role in this family and among his peer and I need to encourage and be supportive of positive, healthy friendships and continue to nurture those friendships. He's an amazing kid with a sweet, soft heart. He longs to fit in, he doesn't understand the reasons kids act the way they do, he is different and he sees that. When kids at school tell him he'll never have a girlfriend, it just breaks his heart. Not that he wants one right now, just that his peers have so little faith in the him. I just hope and pray that the love and support we can give him here in this home and the awesome friendships that he does have will be enough and I hope and pray that there comes a time where he doesn't care that he isn't "part of the crowd" and learns to deeply appreciates the good friends he does have, no matter how many or how few. I want him to be comfortable in his own skin, and proud of who he is. I wish that other kids could see it, but it's their loss. What a privilege it is of mine to be his #1 fan and cheerleader and to be the one who gets see deep into his heart and see the boy that he is and have a glimpse of the man he will become....

A Bunch of Flakes

Yesterday was after school art day. Let me begin by saying my creativity is very limited. I often use Family Fun for some ideas and have a few neat ones but need some supplies. For yesterday I thought it would be fun to make some snowflakes. I thought we could trace some circles and cut them out for cutting/fine motor skills practice. Then I'd show the kids what to do from there. Here was my example to the kids of what to do...

I didn't think it was that bad. Next it was the boys turn to's one of The Boy's that we thought was neat....

And one of BuhBuh's...

Then The Daddy comes home and I showed him all our flakes and he said, hey let me do one. This was what he came up with....

I told him HE could do art next week! (show off!)

Car Talk

Driving to The Boy's music concert last night BuhBuh had some questions about divorce. Apparently kindergarten is showing him some of the harsh realities of life. I tried my best to assure him that mommy and daddy would NEVER get a divorce so he had nothing to worry about. But it was clear from the conversation that he had really been thinking about this.

BuhBuh: Well, if you ever don't like dad no more, you can have Little Dude, I'll live with dad and The Boy can be a foster....

Monday, January 05, 2009

A letter to George...

BuhBuh: I would like to write George Lucas a letter because I am his biggest fan.

Me: Oh, really??? What would you say to him?? 'Hi, how are you? What are you doing? How's the weather?'

BuhBuh: No, 'dats just small talk.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Goals for the New Year

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

In 2009 I will…

…establish and maintain a balance between the God who created me, the husband who swept me off my feet and the children who have melted my heart.

Priority Statement:
To be the servant God is calling me to be, the wife my husband deserves and the mother my children need.

I will continue to strengthen my relationship with God

1. Spend as much time WITH God as I do DOING for God
2. Establish and honor the a Sabbath day as a family
3. We will tithe both salary and commission in 2009
4. Continue with Bible Studies
5. Trust His path for my life

I will make family, friends and taking care of myself a priority

1. Create and maintain a marriage centered home
2. Plan once a month dates
3. Plan an overnight get away

1. Get kids more involved with household chores/projects.
2. Offer fun, learning opportunities after school, on days off and during the summer.
3. Come up with some team building projects for Matthew and Lucas to do together
4. Create opportunities for positive, relationship building, one on one time with each child
5. Step back more often and allow Chad to father his children and respect his fatherly choices/decisions for his children

Butterfield 5
1. Plan and take 2 camping trips this summer
2. Plan 1-2 FAMILY FUN NIGHTS a week (try new things, get creative)
3. Eat together at least 4 times a week

1. Send cards for birthday’s, anniversaries, thank you’s and thinking of you’s
2. Continue to make progress on Scrapbooks
3. Have lunch/dinner with Kathy once a month
4. Re-establish more regular playgroup meetings
5. Participate in Mom prayer group
6. Participate in Baby-sitting co-op with friends
7. Stay in touch with friends who I’ve recently re-connected with
8. Have family/friends over for dinner once a month

1. Begin the candidacy program for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church
2. Have a mommy get away twice a month (groceries, friends, etc)
3. Make time for a daily time of solitude
4. Keep Monday’s as free and open as possible
5. Allow more time for leisure reading both alone and with the kids
6. Give myself 30-40 minutes a day to take a shower and fix my hair and face (not really a goal as much as a reminder that this is something I should do every day! HA!)

I will set up an effective plan to manage my home and focus my mission

1. Reorganize and set up desk as an effective place to manage home and mission projects
2. Move Samuel upstairs
3. Finish up the little details in the living/dining room (lamps, curtains, pictures)
4. Decide on what to do with this house and stick with it!
5. Break home into weekly zones and accomplish 1-2 projects in that zone each week. (Week One: Kids Rooms; Week Two: Kitchen; Week Three: Bedroom; Week Four: Living/Dining/Bathroom; Week Five: Area of most need)
6. Menu plan and make shopping lists accordingly and keep a running list of other home items needed to cut down on extra trips to store and the purchase of other frivolous items.
7. Use salary pay checks for bills. Commission pay checks are for savings and special projects only…not to supplement the month due to overspending.
8. Become more of a sale/coupon shopper
9. Continue with newly adopted “green” habits and adopt new ones for the New Year.


To teach children/youth about God’s love for them and the awesome gift He gave us in His son Jesus Christ.

To live my life as an example and response to God’s grace

To reach out to those in greater need than myself

1. Prioritize my time to the Church that reflect my mission for 2009 while honoring my commitments to my family