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Showing posts from April, 2010

Kid Funny

Saturday as we were driving back from running errands, the kids were singing away in the back seat.

It went something like this....


Missy: "One - Two -Three: Rock and ROLL!"

Both: "Hark! The herald angels sing,..."




Of course, at the top of their lungs!

What more can I ask for?

Work Home and Family - Two Neat Ways to Combat Toy Overload

I was talking to a Kindergarten teacher yesterday and she told me a really neat thing!

One of the little girls in her class had a birthday recently and instead of having a party at home, brought presents to school for the class to open. The presents were for the kindergarten room and teacher! There were Lego's (pink and purple ones of course!), books, more furniture for the doll house, a CD player and art supplies.

The parents thought their child would get enough presents from friends so they asked family to buy things for the classroom and they bought for the classroom also. Their child had fun opening gifts and bringing cupcakes. And the classroom got some things that were 'missing', that had been used up or broken or are just nice to have!

I also talked recently to a friend who celebrates 'half birthdays' (i.e. birth date + six months) and instead of having a party where people bring gifts, she has the kids clean out their toys, picking some to donate and throw…

Goals - Why Become Debt Free?

I've heard a lot of people questioning the wisdom of being debt free lately. At Bible Study this weekend I made a comment that John and I are planning on being debt free by the time he is done with seminary so we can just go wherever God calls us and not have to be encumbered with the mortgage we have on the house here. There were so many expressions of shock and dismay and even one woman who said something along the lines of "Never gonna happen!"

I want to make it perfectly clear from the beginning that we do currently have a mortgage, a very small amount of credit card debt (that, God willing, will be gone this month!), and several self-loans from our personal savings. We do not have student loans or a car payment. I am not in any way looking down my nose at people who have debt. Believe me we've been there! Over $10,000 in credit card debt, $12,000 in student loans, and two car loans in addition to the mortgage.

Would we keep the mortgage if we weren't plan…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 25th

Okay, where on earth did April go? I can't believe that May will be here the end of the week. Uff da!

We did a stock up run this weekend for pantry staples since we were pretty much out of everything. I figure 4 months of mostly $20-30 (or less) per week for groceries is pretty darn good! And a little embarrassing, since I don't consider myself as having anything resembling a real stockpile of any kind. Sorry I didn't get that posted - it was a ridiculously busy weekend!

So this week I didn't really have to do a lot of figuring to decide what to make for dinner! Here's what we're having:

Sunday, April 25th:
Brunch: Waffles with strawberries and pecans
Dinner: Beef Roast with Carrots and Potatoes (leftovers from last week), Baking Powder Biscuits, Strawberry-Blackberry-Grape Salad

Monday, April 26th:
Breakfast: Cheerios
Dinner: Salmon, Rice, Lettuce Salad, Strawberry-Blackberry-Melon Salad

Tuesday, April 27th:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins and Orange…

Just When You Think They Don't Get It....

Passing on our Christian faith to our children is something that is a continuing challenge. They have done a fabulous job of memorizing things like the Lord's Prayer, Bible verses (short ones), and a variety of other things, such as not taking the Lord's name in vain, praying before eating so we say thank you for the bounty God has given us, etc.

Buddy has even really impressed several random people at church by knowing the Apostle's Creed, the Confession of Sins and several songs by heart! It's really funny when we sit behind someone we don't usually sit by and he starts saying one of those or singing along. They have to turn around and see who is this little boy, with his little boy voice, that's got the whole thing down!

But do they really get it?

Most of the time I'm not really sure.

I do a morning devotional with the children every morning while we eat breakfast and then we read a story or two or three (depending on how much time we have) from their Chi…

Work Home and Family - Doing what God Asks

These last few weeks have been seriously crazy busy. I have so many things that need to be done within the next 30 days, need to be done within this week, and should have been done a month ago! Not to mention all the things that we need to do on a daily basis like make meals, clean up messes, care for children, and routine cleaning in addition to personal care and sleep!

Whew!

No wonder I feel like I'm scaling a never-ending mountain!

Last Friday I had something else land on my plate - something that is important to me and that I can't ignore, but it left me feeling truly overwhelmed and completely intimidated.

After an impromptu lunch with my hubby at the cafeteria where he works, I went over to a pastor friend's office. I felt like my brain was playing pinball with all that I had to do, not to mention all the complexities of this new thing that had just landed in my lap.

Sometimes it just helps to be reminded of the basic thing:
Just do what God asks you to do and let go of…

Goal's Update - I Got the Job!

Remember last week, when I mentioned that I had been in for a job interview?

Well, I GOT THE JOB!

WHOO HOO!!!!

This fall I'll officially be university faculty!

Now I just have to graduate! :)

Seriously, I'm still coming down off the high from the interview, the following conversations and getting the confirmation. Not to mention the little fact that it's my dream job - exactly what I'm looking for, as in if I could write the job description this would be it! Just the right combination of teaching, research and course development. I'm ecstatic!

Now, I just have to finish everything for my dissertation. I have until May 2011 to actually complete the darn thing, but I really want to get it done in December so that I can concentrate on my teaching and everything else spring semester.

I also found out that most of my committee is going to be gone this summer so I have to get everything except the actual dissertation done by May 21. UGH. And I have 2 birthdays, mother…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 18th

We're heading full into spring here and I'm getting antsy so get some fresh veggies from the garden into the menu. Unfortunately, since we live in Minnesota, that will have to wait at least a few more weeks. We did get our seeds started, so it's only a matter of time! In the meantime, we get to enjoy a slightly wider variety of fruit than we have for a while. Strawberries in particular are a favorite around here and they're getting to be inexpensive, or at least relatively so. I love having my kids' eyes light up when they see the strawberries on the table!

So what's for dinner this week (and you can bet it includes at least a few strawberries!)?

Sunday, April 18:
Breakfast: Cold Cereal
Lunch: Waffles with Raspberry Sauce and Walnuts
Dinner: Fundraiser at Church

Monday, April 19:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Pork Stir Fry, Rice, Orange and Grapefruit Wedges
Desert for Guests: Strawberry-Yogurt Parfaits

Tuesday, April 20:
Breakfast: Oatmeal M…

These are a Few of My Favorite Things - Spring Flowers

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Isn't this lovely? This rhododendron is what I see out my kitchen window every morning right now. I love it! We recently got done with daffodils too.

I love spring.

And I especially love the flowers of spring. My irises that are in the protection of the house will be blooming soon, I have a lone tulip in my front flower bed waiting to bud (usually the bunnies get all of them, so this one has me pretty excited!) next to my Lily of the Valley, and then the lilacs will be out just in time for Mother's day.

Almost all of my plants are perennials and are gifts from others - friends, family - or they came with the house.

I have peonies from both sides of my family. The light pink and white grew originally on the farm that my great-great grandparents had when they immigrated from Switzerland in the 1860's. The bright pink one was brought to the farm my Dad grew up on by my Grandmother when she got married in 1929. The ruffle edge peach and yellow lilies belonged to my great gr…

Super Savings Saturday - $18.50 Grocery Budget

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Last week, I mentioned how I had $12 and change for groceries this week. Well, I had a pleasant surprise when I counted the change in my "groceries" envelope! I had enough change plus a wayward $1 that was floating around in my purse that I had $18.50 for groceries this week! Whoo hoo!
So, we got everything in the picture above (yes, I did find my camera last week - it was hiding in the car!). Store #1: Two Gallons of Store Brand Skim Milk: $1.98 each 5 lbs Russet Potatoes: $1.99 1 lb Strawberries: BOGO $3.49 Store #2: 4lb Navel Oranges: $2.50 Bananas: $0.39/lb = $1.01 Bagged Spinach: $2.49 1 Dozen large Store Brand Eggs: $1.58 1 Can Store Brand Diced Tomatoes: $0.55 Total Spent: $17.57 Not bad if I do say so myself! Next week is stock up week through with our $40/wk budget! We're running out of a few higher priced items but for this week, we will get through with this just fine. Check back Monday to see what we're eating. For more shopping deals, check out Money Saving Mom.

Super Savings Saturday - Garage Sale Gold!

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I have always believed Jen over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam that garage sale bargains on clothes can be found - really, really good ones too.

However....
Around here garage sales typically run Thursday and Friday, which means I don't get to go scoop them out, since I'm usually at work. I've gone to a few on Saturday than ran Thursday through Saturday and found that going to 10 garage sales to find one pair of overpriced boots for my son's big feet was not worth the time and energy. Yes, there are screaming deals to be had on Saturday, but not on anything we typically need (and many times even want!).
BUT....
Yesterday, I did manage to stop at a mega-sale that was held at a church around the corner from our house and I found these two beauties (sorry about the crummy quality - my tiny bedroom light fixture doesn't quite cut it with my average camera):

Skirt #1: Talbots Brand, lined wool, ankle-length wrap skirt with leather side buckle. Retail Price: Between $150 and…

Frugal Friday - One Thing That Makes Me Truly Rich

A few years ago, my job ended (the grant I was paid under ended and so did my job) and I went back to school.

I started during a summer session and that summer session and the fall were awesome. I didn't teach over the summer, just took one class and spent time in and on my home, and with my family and friends. I only taught one class in the fall, using my half tuition waver and my pay to pay the rest of that tuition. I took 3 classes, but I still had ample time to spend with my family and friends and get anything at home I wanted to done.

That spring semester was another story. I was teaching 3 classes and taking 3. I did have a full tuition waver, which allowed us to put my entire paycheck into savings for future tuition payments. John had plenty of overtime and that kind of thing but I started feeling 'poor.'

I had a conversation with John where I expressed how frustrated I was with the whole financial picture and how "poor" I felt we were. He asked if I rea…

Financial Goals Update for March 2010

As I wrote in my menu post, where on earth has March gone? And where is April going? I'm not ready for this...I have way to much to do before May gets here!

Anyway, I posted our top financial goals for 2010 earlier and we did make some progress in March. I had a job interview last week for a new position starting in August, so we'll see how that goes too. I'm trying to keep myself from being too hopeful but I keep thinking about how quickly we'll knock off our financial goals if I get that job. Then I keep telling myself not to count my chickens before they hatch! Isn't that the way it always goes?

So where are we at now that April is half way gone?

Remember, I listed the top 5 goals here - we actually have more! But here are the top five:

Memberships and Fees. 100% Funded! Whoohoo!Dates Out. 60% Funded.Lea's Summer and Fall Tuition. 38% FundedBuddy and Missy's School Tuition. 0% FundedBuddy and Missy's School Uniforms. 0% FundedYep, we knocked off …

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 11th

It seems like April is just flying by here! Wow! Where is that time going? And can I get some of it back please?

We had a busy weekend cleaning out the garage and working on schoolwork and with church activities. I did get a couple of hours in to spend outside doing some relaxing hand sewing and enjoying my children's laughter as they played on their new swing set (and yes, I did have to stop and push the swings a couple of times!). This week is just as busy as the weekend was, so John's going to be helping me out in the kitchen this week a bit.

We eat most of our meals outside in the spring, summer and fall so I'm enjoying the lovely weather we've been having.

So what will we be eating outside, weather permitting, this week?

Sunday, April 11:
Breakfast: Cheerios
Lunch: Pancakes with Strawberries and Blueberries
Dinner: Leftovers

Monday, April 12:
Breakfast: Cold Cereal
Dinner: Baked Chicken, Rice, Lettuce Salad, Apple-Banana-Melon Salad

Tuesday, April 13:
B…

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things - Spring Weather!

Spring has officially sprung here in the north country!

After several rather crisp, cool days that certainly felt more like fall than spring, we have landed in the realm of mid-to-upper 60's F for temperatures! It's wonderful!

I'm currently sitting at my patio table, typing on my computer and enjoying the warm sunshine and my children's laughter as they play on the new swing set. The kids are running barefoot and enjoying the soft new grass. They even picked a daffodil each for me! Next on the agenda, finding a vase of some sort for the flowers, bringing out some hand sewing and drinks for the children, and spending some time completing a project in the warm sunshine before making our noon meal for the day.

The bright yellow of the daffodils makes me happy.
The warm sunshine makes me happy.
My children really enjoying their new swing set makes me happy.

Our house is rather small, by US standards, and although it has many windows, I tend to feel rather couped up by the tim…

Super Savings Saturday - My $32 Budget

What a good week for deals!

Unfortunately, my camera is AWOL so I can't post a picture for you to admire.
Things are just so much more impressive when you have an accompanying photo.
*SIGH*

Anyway, I spent $32.31 and got a TON of stuff! Whoo hoo! I had $25 for this week's grocery budget and $20 for next week in the envelope, so that means I have $12.69 for this next week. Yes, I can do it! Here's what we got this week:

Store #1: Store Total: $4.08
2 64 oz Store Brand 100% Apple Juice

Store #2: Store Total: $11.79
2 lbs 93% lean ground beef: $4.99
2 20oz Gold-n-Plump Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: $6.99 - $0.75 - $0.75 = $5.49
2.27 lbs Bananas at $0.48/lb = $1.31

Store #3: Store Total: $16.44
Quaker Yellow Corn Meal: $1.85
Store Brand Oyster Crackers: $0.99
Store Brand Diced Tomatoes: $0.55
Tide Original 32 loads: $4.97 - $1.00 - $1.00 = $2.97
1 Very Large Cantaloupe: $1.99
0.77 lbs Plum Tomatoes @ $1.39/lb = $1.07
3lbs Jonathan Apples: $1.99
4lbs Oranges: $2.00
Store Brand 1 Doz Lar…

Frugal Friday - How Much Do You Really Need?

One of the things with bargain shopping and couponing is that it's really easy to mass a HUGE stockpile really quickly. Deodorant for $1 or less a stick? Buy 6! Pasta for $0.16 a box? Buy 20! Toothpaste for free? Buy the whole shelf's worth!

I did a lot of this when I started couponing. Especially the Johnson's Buddies Soaps, Toothpaste, Deodorant, and Laundry Detergent. Pasta is pretty close behind (I currently have 8 boxes in my pantry waiting to be used!). While it's easy for me to run a load to the food shelf or bring a bag to the food shelf drop box at church, non-food items get to be more of a problem since our local food shelf only takes food, formula and baby food and diapers.

I was reading some one's blog (I forget who - thankfully!) who had 57 tubes of toothpaste (full size ones no less) for their family of 2! Then they had 40 bars of soap. And a few other things like that. They were talking about giving some canned goods away before they expired…

Menu Plan Monday - Week of April 4th

Wow, has Easter week gotten off to a bang at our house! More about that later, but for now, we spent $16 on groceries this week on Saturday, plus another $3 on a 4lb bag of sugar. I realized after the fact that they had 4lb bags of sugar at Target this week for around $1.50, but I didn't figure that out until after I'd spent the $3. Oops. Oh well, we had $20 this week so that was okay.

So what are we eating? Here goes:

Sunday, April 4th, Easter Sunday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins, Fruit
Lunch: Strawberry Cream Braided Bread, Sausage, Pineapple and Oranges
Dinner: At a friend's house - bring whole wheat dinner rolls

Monday, April 5th:
Breakfast: Cereal
Dinner: Beef Stir Fry, Rice, Strawberry-Banana-Pineapple Salad

Tuesday, April 6th:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Pork Chops, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, Strawberry-Banana-Pineapple Salad
Bible Study Snack: Oatmeal Cookies, Popcorn

Wednesday, April 7th:
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Dinner: Vegetable S…

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things - The Grace of God

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Hallelujah!

Something so simple as a man dying on a cross over 2000 years ago changed my life.

I am still amazed that God would send his only son - his child - to die for me.
For me.

And for you too.

The knowledge that God's grace is sufficient - no matter what - is my comfort and my shelter. My refuge from the storm. My peace in troubled times. And the light that carries me on - no matter what.

I hope that you find the Lord if you haven't yet.
I hope that He carries you through the burdens and trials of your life.
I hope that you are in awe and wonder of the tremendous grace of our Heavenly Father.

Most of all, I hope that you have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope that you feel His unconditional and abounding love not only as something that you know, but something that is tangible - that you feel.
You are worth nothing less to Him.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Always.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Hallelujah! Happy E…

Super Savings Saturday - $16 Budget

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Nothing like stretching the budget to the edge! The approximately $16 I spent this week included scraping the bottom of my change purse! How about that?

We got deals too! I like that as well. Here's what we spent (subtracted amounts are coupons):

Store #1:
2 Cans Dole Pineapple Rings: $0.77x2 - $0.55 = $0.99
2 Cans Dole Mandarin Oranges: $0.77x2 - $0.55 = $0.99
1 Can S&W Black Beans: $0.79
1 lb Fresh Strawberries: $1.50

Total Spent Store #1: $4.27

Store #2:
2 Gallons Kemps Skim Milk: $3.99 x 2 = Free after catalinas from previous trip
1 12 ct Jimmy Dean Precooked Breakfast Sausage: $2.50 - $1.00 - $1.00 (double coupon) =
$0.50
4 lb Oranges: $3.49
2.2 lbs Bananas: 2.2 lbs x $0.48/lb = $1.06
2.15 lbs Sweet Potatoes: 2.15 lbs x $0.59/lb = $1.26
1 Can Value Choice Diced Tomatoes: $0.55
1 Bag Fresh Express Mixed Lettuce: $2.66
1 10pack Bic Disposable Ladies' Razors: $2.67 - $2.00 = $0.67
1 2pk Lint Traps: $1

Total Spent Store #2: $11.19

Total for both stores: $15.46

I look at …

Frugal Friday - Looking at the Big Picture

I've always loved shopping. For years we had 2 incomes and no children and no school expenses. It was easy to go out and mostly buy what we wanted. We ate dinner out regularly, treated my husband's younger siblings to new clothes and school supplies each fall, gave whenever our hearts thought we should, and picked up that CD, new clothes item or other treat here and there without thinking about it. Yes, we were truly blessed. Our expenses were low. Our incomes were good. And we even had automatic savings each month.

Then the kids came.

And so did daycare.

Then my job was eliminated.

Then I went back to school.

Then John went back to school.

Now we're sending the kids to school.

Finances keep getting tighter and tighter. And it's been harder and harder for us to just buy something. We have weigh the printer cartridge and kids shoes. We have to weigh light bulbs and car tires. We have to weigh a new screen door and the repairs on the clothes washer.

I really dislike it…

In the Refiner's Fire - Living God's Love

It has been really difficult to continue writing my story. The last 10 years haven't been easy or fun though they have had moments of both. In particular, the last 2 years have been extremely difficult to put on paper - both in terms of articulating what happened and in terms of my personal emotions as I write them. I am currently writing them piece by piece off line and will post them in order when they're ready.

In the meantime, I'm going to write about some less tangible things I've learned - particularly in the last year - about God, my faith, and my life and relationships.

Today I'm writing about something that is far more incredible to do than to say - Living God's Love.

Oh, we all think we do. We go to worship, we 'forgive' people who have hurt us - at least we say the words, and perhaps we even give of our time, money and talents. But the thing I've realized lately is that we rarely show the unconditional love that Christ did.

So many times…