Thursday, February 28, 2008

Family Driven Faith and Children Of Caesar

Just a glimpse of the video that shows why, whether you agree with it or not, if you are a Christian you need to be home schooling your children.

Voddie Baucham preaches what most parents too easily dismiss: whoever is teaching our children is also discipling them. While I have not had the privilege of seeing this DVD set, it is on my wishlist. While Amazon is no longer selling new copies, you can buy new copies directly from Mr. Baucham's site.

Mr. Baucham is also the author of Family Driven Faith. Also on my wishlist. But now that my beloved has heard Mr. Bauchman speak recently (more about that miracle tomorrow), we might just have the funds to purchase this book. :)

Swango - Online Clothes Swapping, and it's FREE to join! :)

Paula has invited you to get a free membership to, a website dedicated to people who enjoy swapping stylish, fashionable clothing with other like-minded people.

Swap for free with Paula by using this referral code:

When you use my referral code, we can swap for free FOR LIFE! :)

This site is GREAT! It is free to join. They have everything from baby and maternity to mens and womans as well as shoes and accessories! You get credits for what you swap (give) and pay credits for what you receive (give). And each transaction is only 99 cents. That is cheaper than the thrift store! (Man have those prices gotten high.)!! :)

A letter to AA

Dearest Darling AA,

We love to hear your prayers. And last night you blessed our hearts with yours. The library is giving away tickets to see Prince Caspian in the movie theater. But tickets are limited and we have to finish reading the book first. You LOVE Narnia and all the books. So we are reading through Prince Caspian chapters at a time to finish in time to get tickets.

Last night you prayed:
Lord, I really want to see the Prince Caspian movie. If you want me to go, I pray that we will be able to get tickets. And if you don't want me to go, that we won't get tickets.

Your prayer was longer, asking for health for all of us and for Mommy (who is pretty sick right now), but I don't remember much after that part of your prayer.

We pray that you will ALWAYS be so willing to follow the Lord and His will for your life. We pray that you will be accepting and joyful when God's answer is no, and not just praise Him when His answer is yes. We pray that you will continue to seek God's will in everything, no matter how small the matter seems. God wants you to follow His will in ALL areas of our lives.

You are such a blessing to us (as are all of you children). You are so loved and so wanted. And nothing you can do will make up stop loving you. Just as you can never be separated from the love of God, we agape you. And it is our deepest desire that you will continue and never stop walking in the love and service and will of God.

Agape, Your Loving Momma

Some Snippets From Our Homeschooling

First I have to share two links. BOTH are new to me today.

La Paz Home Learning is an AWESOME AWESOME site that you just must see! She has it going on! This is our dream goal - to reach this way of homeschooling. I used to be SO tense about homescholing and doing this and that that there was no time to ENJOY my children! I am almost there, but not quite yet.
HT: Homeschooling Is Life!

Which leads me to another article that is a MUST READ. A must print out and put it by the computer (or wherever you do you research for schooling).
Thoughts on Unschooling. For the highlights, check out the highlights and reassurance.

We are a VERY relaxed home schooling family.

We are working through Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons. So EE was doing her lesson while cuddling with me on the couch. Part of the lesson has the child read a "story." They follow the line and sound out the words and read the word. Well JJ came over and started pointing and following the lines and "reading." You could hear JJ babbling as his finger followed the line. It was adorably cute.

The Missing 13

I am not sure why but all (yes ALL) of my children have skipped the number 13 when counting to 20. The older two now can count properly to 20 (and higher), but our little MM (4 1/2) STILL misses 13.

So today I vowed to change that. She we started counting up to twelve. YEAH! We got there with no problems. Ok MM, the next number after twelve is THIRTEEN. What number? THIRTEEN! GOOD!

OK, let's count. 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9...10...11...12...13

And then I pounced on her with lots of tickles (something about her love language, she LOVES to be tickled, oh and she has the BEST laugh!). Then I held her in a tight bear hug and told her if she wanted to get out, she had to count to thirteen.

This went between tickling and her escaping for a few rounds. Sometimes she went from 12 to 14, but by the end of the "lesson," she was always counting to thirteen!! YIPPEE!!! I just LOVE homeschooling! We discovered a FUN way to remember thirteen!


While waiting in the doctor's office, MM (4 1/2yr) was playing with a quarter that I had given her. Where she got the other two quarters to play with, I have no idea. So with a total of three quarters and 45 minutes to kill (yes, our doctor likes to take her time), I decided it was a perfect time to teach MM about money.

I held out the quarter in front of me. "This is a quarter. A what?"
She giggled. "A quarter."

"It is worth twenty-five cents. How much is it worth?"
"Twenty-five cents."

I then put the quarter on my nose and she got to grab it off. Giggling like mad the whole time.

I repeated it for each quarter. After removing each quarter from my nose, she placed it in her little basket purse she had brought. I then would take the quarters from her basket and repeat the whole thing over and over and over again. She now knows what a quarter looks like and it's value.


SO even though AA has only 5 more lessons to complete the 100 Easy Lessons book, I am trying SO HARD not to force her to finish it. Right now she LOVES to read. And I just need to get it out of my head that she HAS to complete the lesson book. She is reading wonderfully well (although we could work a little bit on tonal inflection). :) There is FREEDOM in homeschooling the way YOU feel led to. And sometimes that means the the child reading a book counts as the reading lesson. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Have Diamond? Get Money!

Have Diamond? Get Money Back! Thanks to this blog writing that, we will be getting back over $100 on my diamond engagement ring!!! (Which I still proudly wear!) :)

Three things I am thankful for:
*how much my children love to learn
*how adorable my children are
*how kind and loving they can be to each other (when they want to be)

Feed The Birds .. Tuppence A Bag

Did you know that is one of Walt Disney's favorite songs? I must admit that I love it too. And it seems to be the sentiment of this blogger's wife. :)

Home Made Treats For Backyard Bird has some BEAUTIFUL pictures as well as recipes. And tells you how to feed the birds, even while on a budget. :) And I think it would be great for Charlotte Mason Nature Studies, nature notebooks, and well, gosh, who doesn't just love to sit and look at birds?

The Faith Of A Child

The other night we lost our dog. When we got home and she was gone, the girls were obviously very upset. They kept talking about the dog and wanting the dog. I told them that they only thing they could do was to pray.

And so they each went their own way to pray. Not a two minutes later EE came up to me and said "God told me where Sandi was. She's in a house."

Now I am thinking that EE, our little story teller, has gone a bit far this time. You don't say "God told me..." unless GOD TOLD YOU.

So I reprimanded her. "If the dog was in a house, someone would have called by now" I said. A few minutes go by. She looked across the street at a lit house. "I think that is the house Momma."

Now I know she has gone too far. The lady who lives across the street is a wonderful lady who definitely would have either called or brought our dog back by now.

This time, thankfully, I don't say anything.

Not five minutes later did that very neighbor show up with our dog. "Someone let her in my house."

Oh Lord, forgive me for not having the faith of a child and not having faith in her. And more importantly, thank you, not only for answering a little girl's prayer, but for speaking to her. Please let her be open to You all her days in all her ways. And allow her to always hear You.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesday Link Up: Homeschooling

LOVE THIS! Homeschooling On The Go

Where's George is an awesome and fun site where you can track your money. Where did that dollar bill come from? This was SO NEAT! It is not very well known yet, so the bill I entered was from the bank to us in just a year (LOL!). But I got it folded, so I know it belonged to others first. :)

Free Ebook - Education Is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life

Charlotte Mason Lecture

-=-=-=-=-(even though this originally posted this morning, since I have posted a lot today, I am moving it to the top for those who visit my blog specifically for the link ups shared on Tuesdays-=-=-=-=-
Three things I am thankful for:
*the internet - being able to search for info on things and alternative treatments that doctors don't tell you about
*(gosh this is hard today...)...the ability to laugh, even when you are sad and scared (see cow frog post below)
*the ability to bless others

When You Need A Laugh (and a prayer request)

Please pray for my husband.
If you know anything about Degenerative Disk Disorder, please comment with details and an email to contact you. It is greatly appreciated.

What possessed my husband to You Tube "Cow Frog" I will never know, but the result ended up giving us all some belly fulls of giggles:

Just for fun...

Check out these different ways to make lunch fun. My daughters really liked the penguin. :)

Dawn has tagged me for a meme! :) It has been a while since anyone tagged me. :)

Here are the Rules:
You must post the rules before you give your answers. You must list one fact about yourself for each letter of your middle name. Each fact must begin with that letter. If you don't have a middle name, just use your maiden name. After you've been tagged, post a new blog with your middle name and answers. At the end of your post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged and need to read your blog for details).

Well, for security reasons, I don't want to give out my middle name (or my maiden name). So I will break the rules a little bit and use my first name (which is actually more difficult than my middle name). :)

P-pride (yes, I struggle with this horrible sin, but the lack of comments on my blog helps keep me humble LOL!)

A-antsy (nope, can't keep still - even when sitting, I tap my toes or twiddle my thumbs)

U-understanding (I am thankful I remember what it was like to be a kid, so when my kids do something, sometimes I remember that I too used to enjoy doing the same thing)

L-loving (I love my family and my friends, and even those strangers I see in need)

A-aspiring (I am always striving to be more the woman whom God created me to be - a better wife, a better mother, a better woman who fears the Lord)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday's Three Things Finance

Three things I learned about finances this past week:

With some stores you can use a coupon on each item you buy even if you have a buy one get one (B1G1). I was able to buy two products, get one free, and use two manufactures coupons (one for each product). This made the products near free. Not every store will allow you to do this. Be sure to follow the rules of the store you are shopping at.

When you are shopping at your grocery store, be sure to use your member card. Skip a week or two before going back. They will think you have stopped shopping there. When you go back, you will usually get a coupon for a certain amount of dollars off your next visit. :) They want to keep you coming back. :) So planning and shopping every two or three weeks instead of every week might get you some extra dollars off your next visit. :)

Also, check with your local grocery stores. Our King Soopers mails me a monthly flyer with coupons for products that I am likely to buy (organic and natural). And there is usually a coupon for so many dollars off if my total is so much dollars (like my current one is $7 off any purchase of $70 or more). I also have coupons for organic produce (WOOHOO!) as well as Morning Star, Nature Made and organic eggs! (True, not something I learned THIS week, but relevant as most of this post is about grocery savings). :)

Three links to help you with your finances:

I just have to put a plug in again for Organic Grocery Deals (please use my username lvg4him when signing up). I have been exploring the site more and all I can say is WOW! I just signed up for a bunch of FREE SAMPLES for products I have always wanted to try (like Seventh Generation). I also have been exploring their coupon database. You can search for a brand you like (or need). I found two printable sites for coupons for Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes - $1 off 1. Right now Walmart is selling the cans for $1.16. So I am getting organic tomatoes for 16 cents a can! WOOHOO!!! :) This site is saving me so much money on organics and other natural products!! :) I am so excited! And to think, it is all FREE!!!!! :)

I mentioned earlier about Sense to Save's way of grocery shopping. Here is a site to help you with that. It is called Super Cook. List the ingredients you have on hand, and it will list recipes you can make. I pretended I had only two ingredients on hand. Chocolate and butter. And I was led to a recipe for !! It got some pretty good reviews! There were nine other recipes I could make immediately with just those two ingredients! :)

When Organics and Conventional Produce Prices Are The Same. For YEARS now, especially in the summer, even BEFORE I went to Farmer's Markets, I have been buying organic produce for the same price or LESS than conventional. FOR YEARS! So many people have the wrong mindset that just because it is organic means it has to cost more.

Three financial links for articles I have read recently:

Finding The Fun In Financial Planning

Book Review: Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide For Kids

Bankrate's 2008 Tax Guide

Three things I am thankful for:
*How willing JJ is to help out around the house (today he took his snotty tissues to the trash without even being asked)
*How wonderful the girls are with JJ. That boy is going to make one good and understanding husband (and father to girls) God willing
*How nice a handmade quilt looks in the sunshine

Sunday, February 24, 2008

If You Can't See This... Hello Nick! :)

I have sitemeter on my blog, which allows me to see where people who are visiting my blog are coming from (referring URL as well as city and server they are using). This is mostly for the safety of my family. I like being able to share pictures and the goings on in my day. And if someone is going to access my page, I have a right to know how they got here.

I mostly set up sitemeter on my blog to know what search words people were using to access my blog. If it was something inappropriate, I want to know, so I can change the wording to prevent my site from coming up in search engines for that phrase or those words.

Recently I have been getting hits on my site from an unknown source. Someone is preventing themselves from being known. And it was linked back to an adult site.

So my super genius beloved created a program that prevents them from accessing my page.

Unfortunately, it also prevents those who do not have JavaScript enabled from seeing my page as well. I might lose a few readers, but the safety of my family is more important.

If you have any questions about this, please let me know. I will be happy to talk to you.

So know that unknown user will enjoy being sent to Nick Jr instead of whatever he might have been up to here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Please Pray for my mom - Update

My mom is in the ER having difficulty breathing. She was given a shot and breathing treatments. I have no idea why or what is going on. That was all my sister said when she called me. If you do not hear from me in the next few days it is because I went to visit her in Texas.

Update: She was released last night and sent home even though she was not any better and was still having difficulty breathing.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Need, Have, Give and GIVE

OOOHHHHHH. I have been reading Meredith's Blog Like Merchant Ships for .. well almost a year now. She is a person whom I highly admire and respect. She has encouraged me (and hundreds of others from the hits she is getting on her blog daily) in so many areas of my life on so many levels. But in all the time I have been reading her blog, I have never seen her say this:

"Buy what I need, use what I have, give creatively and often."

WOW! I am printing this out to put on a card to carry with me in my purse. And I am printing out one to put somewhere in the house. I like this phrase much better than the "use it up, wear it out" phrase. Sometimes that phrase can make you feel like you are living during the depression (where I think it originated).

While I cannot find Scripture for it at the moment, I think that Meredith has included SUCH an important piece of the puzzle. I truly believe that God loves a cheerful giver. And not just when we give to Him, but when we give to others.

The 5-Minute Rule - when you want to be there but can't

I know that I cannot always be on top of my children to make sure they are cleaning. And whenever I am not right there with them, things almost always never seem to get done. I recently read about something that I have implemented that has really helped me and I will share it with you.

When your child is cleaning, check on them every 5 minutes. For every 5 minutes, they need to have completed 5 minutes worth of work. If you are unable to watch them or even check every five minutes, then set a timer and have them report to you what they have done and what they have left to do.

When I first implemented this, I thought it would be easy. If the child KNEW Mommy was watching her, she would do her job. However, since I had slacked off in training them, it did not work as I had imagined. SO I tweaked it a bit. After about an hour and her room was STILL not clean, I thought maybe she did not have some focus. So I gave her some focus.

Start with the floor. Everything should be off the floor in five minutes. I will be back to check. If she still needed direction, I would have said to take a trip around the floor. Start where you come in the door and walk all around the room like a big clock hand, cleaning up as you go along. When you end up back at the door, the floor should be cleaned. Five minutes later, move on to the next thing. Everything off her bed. The floor is clean, so do not put anything back on the floor. Then the closet. Finally, a recheck of the floor, in case any trash fell down. :)

With my littlest (4 1/2yr) I had to check on her every two minutes at first. Now, it is up to five (unless she has gotten a hold of gluten, then it is back to every 2 minutes). :)

OH and remembering to PRAISE throughout. What a good job you did finding all the little pieces of trash on the floor! What a wonderful job folding your clothes!

This has also really helped give ME some peace. I was getting so stressed out about them not following through. ESPECIALLY when I was not there to oversee them. I do of course go and check over every job. But now, when I feel I HAVE to be somewhere else doing something else, I can still take the breaks and check on my children.

Three things I am thankful for:
*having final taught myself to crochet. I am having so much fun MAKING things for the children and for my home.
*JJ is blowing his nose (perfect timing since all the kids are sick with runny noses)
*my beloved - he is my best friend and I am so in love with him!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Love Books, Love GoodReads!

I love books. But having very conservative Christian taste, it is sometimes hard to find good books,. Enter Goodreads.

Goodreads is amazing and fun and WOW WOW WOW!! This site has most every book you can get a hand on. It even has most all the titles from No Greater Joy.

You join Goodreads (it's free), and just search for some of your favorite books. Rate it and review it. Add friends who like the same books you do and find out titles for books that may become another favorite (but you might have missed out on). :)

Warning: if you like to read, this site can become addictive. I have already added several findings to my library to read list. :)
Frogpond Badge
BzzAngent: paulagmom

The $300 Temptation

I never realized how addicted to shopping I was until this pay period. My husband gets paid every two weeks, and every month we write up a budget for the two pay periods. At then end of a pay period, right before we get the new paycheck, we sit down and talk about how we did and any changes that might have to occur during the next pay period. It is a much shorter meeting than actually creating the budget for the month.

Well, at the last mini-meeting, we decided that we would pay off our Visa bill completely with this next pay period. When we budgeted, we would have to take out about $300 from our savings to do it. It hurt, but we knew that we would have to do it.

But God is faithful to those who are faithful to Him.
We received some extra money that we were not expecting (VISA rewards check, reimbursement for company bills, etc.). So not only did we NOT have to pull out, we had an abundance of almost $300! WOW!

And what was my first thought? Put it into savings? Put it towards the second mortgage? Nope, my first thought was "I can be happy and spend some money and not be as tight with finances." UGH! ICK!!!! It is the being tight with finances (and God's wonderful provision) that gave us that extra money. And my being careless with finances and overspending and buying things we did not need that was a major part of getting us into this mess. I guess that is why it is important to pay yourself first (i.e. put money into savings off the top of the check so you don't really see it as extra money you have.) I could not believe I thought that it would make me happy. Have I really been trying to find some happiness in things? I need to find my joy in the Lord.

So, I did take out a small amount ($10) to "blow" as Dave Ramsey would say. I went to the local Salvation Army. The entire store was be 50% off on Saturday, and boy did I make a killing! I got two HUGE bags of yarn for the girls to knit/crochet with. I got myself a luxurious robe that was made in Turkey. I got a Gap Kids robe for my oldest, and a Tommy Hillfigure dress for her too. I got a some books I had really been wanting - how to convert knitting to crochet and the You Can Do It book (which I had almost paid full price for when it first came out because I wanted it so bad). A few extras and all totaling up to over $45 dollars. I has also gotten yellow tags that were only 99 cents (not an additional 50% off, but hey, something that was normally $10 on sale for 99 cents, I could handle the no extra 50% off). :) All that for $5 and change! :)

I have also really been wanting some makeup. Mineral make up to be exact. Mineral make up is not only better for your skin, but it does not go bad after 6 months to a year like most all other make up does. Right now you can get JANE mineral make up for free or nearly free. AND because all the Valentine stuff is 75% off right now, the extra money I would have gotten paid (but they don't really pay you) was put towards some candy bracelets for the girls! The bracelets were like 12 cents each! :) So if I had not grabbed myself a heart box of chocolates (less than two dollars) and some scented candles for the bath (3 for $1.49), I would have gotten out of there without paying a thing. :)

The rest of the money? My beloved is finally able to buy the tax software he needs to be able to do our taxes. He is good too. He went to Best Buy because you could get a free movie (up to $20) with purchase. He brought an add which showed that a local store had it for $5 less. Best Buy does price matching. So he got it for $5 less AND a free movie. :) You go babe! All left over will debt snowflake into our second mortgage payment. :)

Three things I am thankful for:
*we paid off our VISA and did not have to pull out of savings to do it
*being able to honor God with our finances (take it from Crystal to pray about everything you spend money on - even the groceries and toiletries! :)
*Costco opened in my city this week!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday Link Up - Crafts

I found a BEAUTIFUL Rag Rug Tutorial.

It is never too early to start on Christmas presents for this year. Christmas will be here again before we know it. I have vowed to make everyone's presents this year. Which means making a plan and starting now. :) For your little girl's kitchen, this basket with fruits and veggies is a perfect addition! No plastic! No lead! No Made In China! :)

Cute Free Crochet Patterns

Not necessarily craft related, but hobby related:
This looked like a good blog. I got there from the Photo A Day 365 post. But if you check them out they got some great tips and tutorials for photography.

And perhaps the best post of the year, not craft related but a must must MUST read:
Paradise Lost

Monday, February 18, 2008

Oh NO You Did NOT!

My worst fear: a charge appeared on my credit card when I have been diligently NOT using my credit card at all this month.

Now me, being an all or nothing girl, immediately panicked. I recognized the store and with it being on a bad side of town, truly believed someone had stolen our credit card.

My husband, a whole lot more level headed than I am at times, told me to call the credit card company to ask about the charge.

So I called. Turned out that I had made the purchase over two months ago! Yep. Back in November, I made a purchase at that store. And evidently it did not clear at that time. And after a while, it was removed from the "pending" section of my online bill.

The credit card company told me that legally, a store has up to six months to claim the credit that is due to them. So instead of the charge showing up when it was supposed to (and when I had money to pay it off), it shows up at a time where I am not able to pay off my bill AND now that charge is accruing finance charges?!?!

I HATE CREDIT CARDS! Worse yet, I hate myself for bringing credit cards into our lives. My husband never ever wanted to have a credit card, and with nagging in the EARLIEST years of our marriage, he got one. I have learned my mistake. And now, sadly, we are paying for it.

Monday's Three Things Finance

Three things I learned about finances this past week:

I learned that if you hear that the rates are going to drop, it is best to take some money and put it into a CD for 6 or 12 months. The CD will lock the rate at the higher rate before the drop. You continue to earn at the higher rate.

In most stores you can "stack" coupons. That means that if you have a manufactures coupon (for something like Huggies Diapers) and then you have a store coupon (like a Target coupon for diapers), you can use BOTH coupons on one product.

When investing, you want to max out the 401K match at work, then max out your ROTH IRA (you can put in $5,000 per person this year). If you are a stay at home mom, you can and SHOULD have a ROTH IRA for yourself if your husband is working. Take advantage of this!

Three links to help you with your finances:

OH YEAH!!! A forum (Organic Grocery Deals) to discuss how to get great deals on organic products (meats, produce, canned good, baby products...OK just about EVERYTHING organic). There is even a forum to talk about organic gardening. Please use my username lvg4him when registering. It is free to join and find GREAT coupon deals for organics!!! :) WOOHOO!!! I have only been a member for a week, and I have already saved $6!!! WOOHOO!!!

IF YOU SELL THINGS USING PAYPAL TO RECEIVE PAYMENTS BEWARE! There is a post where a woman talks about Paypal forcing her to give a refund months after transaction. Be sure to read the comments. Not that it happens a whole lot, but the fact that it happens, and you are NOT as protected as you think, is scary.

16 Ways to save money by NOT being normal

Three financial links for articles I have read recently:

75 Frugal Hacks for Your Home

How To Save A Million Dollars At Any Age. I did want to point out that with all that I have been reading, people my age (in their 30's), because of inflation, will have to save 3.5 million. THE EARLIER YOU START THE EASIER IT IS! If we had started in our 20's when we were first married, we would only have to be putting in a couple hundred a month. Right now, we will have to put in over $1000 a month in order just to have 1 million.

12 Things I Learned by 42 That I Wish I Knew At 22 oh this is so true. Thankfully I am learning them NOW, but still ten years too late. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE start early. PLEASE!

GOOD DEAL ALERT and tip for stretching meat:
If you goto Organic Grocery Deals and go to the coupon resources and coupon generator, you will see the Target coupons for Morning Star $2 off one! Because we are 99% vegetarian, we use their meatless crumbles a LOT in place of meat.

When stretching meat (real or fake), we like to add shredded carrots to the mix. It gives it a meaty type feeling. This works especially well in chili and tacos and casseroles. The carrots kind of absorb the flavor of what you are cooking with. And carrots are MUCH cheaper than meat. :)

What we like to do for chili and tacos is add onion, frozen corn and shredded carrot to extend the meat. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Saturday Sweethearts: A Gift To Remember

A Gift To Remember
by Michael Webb

So you still don't know what to buy for that special occasion. Maybe it's your honey's 40th birthday or your 25th anniversary. Here is a sure fire hit.

It takes a few weeks or maybe even a few months of planning ahead, but the results will be no less than magical if you can pull it off. What I am speaking of is a "This Is Your Life" kind of gift. You will need to secretly obtain as many addresses and phone numbers of past and present friends, school mates, coworkers and family. Sneaking through stashes of old letters and address books is one way to obtain the contacts. A better and perhaps less obtrusive way is to recruit a close friend or relative of the honoree to help you with your mission.

Either in a phone call, email or letter ask the people you contact if they would please contribute something memorable toward the upcoming special occasion. It could be old photographs, a story, something from a scrapbook or just a note of congratulations. Also, ask them to pass the word along to anyone who may have known the person you will be honoring.

For secrecy you will need to have all the correspondence mailed to you at a location where it will not be seen by you-know-who. Have it mailed to your work address or maybe your coconspirator will agree to receive the mail. People are notorious about being procrastinators so it will probably be necessary to remind them a week or two before the event to get the information to you, pronto.

Once you have received all the interesting tidbits you will have to decide how to present them. You can do them in the world-famous "This Is Your Life" format with secret guests and a big production. What is more realistic would be providing a scrapbook filled with all the mementos and cards of congratulations. It you want something more dramatic like the "TIYL" format without all the work, you can read the letters and notes one by one, building up the suspense by not saying the contributor's name until the end. A nice photo album or scrapbook could be given so the honoree can put in all the pieces themselves.

If you know someone who is hard to shop for, this may just be the perfect gift for that momentous milestone in their life.

Remember, THESE ARE IDEAS FOR YOU (not your husband). YOU are to romance your husband! I was inspired to do these Saturday Sweethearts based on a book called Romancing Your Husband by Debra White Smith. PLEASE get a hold of this book and read it. It is a really good book and will really change your life. :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday's Fun: Stockpiling Day

The other day was such fun! The girls and I made two quiches (for the freezer) and a peach pie (freezer? are you kidding?) of which half was eaten and raved about. :)

The Quiches
I had gotten 4 dozen organic eggs at $1.50 each and they needed to be used and FAST. I had already boiled a dozen, and used a dozen in one nights dinner (breakfast tacos).

So I decided to try quiche. I have never made it before, but love it. I found a recipe for Caramelized Onion Quiche and made it. I did not have red onions, only yellow. So I did as someone did in the comments and used some brown sugar on the onions. OH they looked and smelled so good!! I used her recipe for the crust and I added an extra egg. Because of the cost of the cheese she recommended, I made one of the quiches with Swiss (the girls LOVED the holes in the cheese). :)

They cooked up so wonderfully well. They browned nicely, the crust did not burn, and they did not overflow! YUMMO!!!! Freezing was easy. After cooking, I put them uncovered (I did not know how to do this until after I read about it) until frozen, then wrapped in freezer paper and foil and put into a plastic freezer bag. They freeze for two months. I took pen and wrote date to use by as well as reheating directions (do not thaw, cook 20-25 minutes in a 350F preheated oven).

The only bad thing was it did take a LONG time. There is chilling the dough as well as putting it in the freezer for a bit. I was also sad it did not even use a dozen eggs up. But now I know that with that recipe, it will take THREE quiches to use up all those eggs. I wish I had made more crusts. I made all the crusts at once (even the peach pie double ones).

The Peach Pie:
I love All Recipes for recipes. The recipes are rated AND the comments have the BEST tips in them.

I used the most starred Peach Pie recipe and not only was it simple, it was GOOD! It was the perfect Valentine's day treat, and a great way to use up the organic peaches I had gotten and cut up and froze during the summer. I left the skins on, and you honestly could not tell a difference in the way the pie came out. YUMMO!!

I used the pie crust recipe from the onion quiche recipe above. But I added 1 1/2 tsp sugar (for more sweet). I used 1/4 cup COLD shortening (from Spectrum - not Crisco) and 4 TBSP frozen butter.

A little tip about butter. I cut a BUNCH of sticks into tablespoons and stick them in the freezer. It is a great way to keep the butter cold while making crusts (the colder the butter the better the crust). I keep a ziploc freezer bag of these in the fridge now, ever ready for making pie crusts! :)

With the pie, I did like the comments suggested and added 1 heaping Tablespoon cornstarch, used 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white, and though I am NOT a cinnamon person, added the touch of cinnamon suggested. WOW this pie came out GOOOD! And it did not boil over!!! The girls raved about it!

Our children learn by our example. So far, I have been a horrible example to them of cooking from scratch and stockpiling. This was a wonderful time to spend TOGETHER in not only baking, but stockpiling. They wondered why we were not eating the quiches right away. I got to explain about buying eggs on sale and making food for the future. :) So not only did we have a fun time together, I was able to pass on something important to my children. :) WOOHOO!!!

Three things I am thankful for:
*slippery soap in baby's hands
*the awe and wonder in JJ's eyes at slippery soap
*the giggles that filled our house for 20 minutes of soapy fun :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

Sharing God's love with the world....

The image is big enough to print if you want to give these out as Valentine's cards in school (click and save to your computer). :) And you are free to use the image on your blog as long as you give credit and provide a link to

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Abundance of Your Heart

So in continuing to think about what I want to accomplish in my life, being the ultimate craft mom is NOT it. And yet, how much time do I spend surfing the net finding cute and fun things to make with/for the children? The Bible says that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

But I also think that out of the abundance of your heart is where you spend most of your time. Do I spend more time with my kids, or on the computer? Do I spend more time searching for crafts, or learning about things that are really important to me? I am so lazy. I learn about things that are easy and fun rather than difficult and necessary.

Now please do not get me wrong. Remember this blog is really just my ramblings for me and for my children (when they grow up). I am not saying that I cannot spend my time on something I enjoy, like crafts. But if my ultimate goal is to be self-sufficient and live simply, spending 90% of my time on the computer searching for crafts and 10% on learning about how to live simply and frugally... I am not accomplishing the goal I have set for myself.

SO, I have decided to cut back even more on the blogs I read. I am going to create a folder in my feed reader for "blogs to read when I have time." The rest of the blogs that will be left in the main part of the reader will be the few that really help and encourage me in things that I really want to learn and pass on to my children. Along with those will be a few web pages/forums that have helped me and I know will continue to help me.

If I spend less time searching through fluff to find stuff that is not helping me to accomplish my goals, then I will have more time to read and search out the things that are important to me. Things like:
*reducing our utility bill (water, wastewater, electricity, gas)
*relying more on herbs and less on the doctor
*spending less money all around and actually building up a savings for when beloved retires/loses his job
*living frugally
*being more self-sufficent
*selling stuff on ebay and make more money than selling it in a garage sale

All that being said, this past weekend I had a wonderful time teaching EE to crochet (she can now do ch and sc, YEAH!!!!) and how to finger knit. She is so loving it, and it has been fun. I also created a dishcloth pattern that I have been using and LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!! So, see, there IS a balance. :)

Three things I am thankful for:
*EE enjoying crafts - it is good for her to learn to MAKE things rather than buy them, and to get joy in what you create
*Balance - I love spending time with my kids. I enjoy enjoying them. :) It is good to learn, and have them learn with me, but it is equally important to ENJOY each other. :)
*God's hand upon our family

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Saving Money on Groceries

I have always heard about creating a menu for the week and then going shopping. But recently I read about another way to grocery shop.

She creates a menu based on what she has in her pantry. THEN she plans her grocery shopping list based on sales and coupons. Stockpiling!! I LOVE the idea of this way of shopping!!!

She has a GREAT article you need to read if you buy groceries that will help you save money on groceries. You will NOT be disappointed!!!

Please check out BOTH links shared above. You will not be disappointed. I am going to start doing this and share how it affects our grocery spending. Since I go by weekly instead of monthly, I will start this next pay period. :) And I made a mistake in my Credit Card post. I actually spend $300 every two weeks, not monthly, on food. Click the link to see how much money we really could have saved not using our credit card. :)

Three things I am thankful for:
*finally getting my house in order
*AA reading to her sisters
*AA memorizing Bible verses on her own!!! :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Finance - What I Am Currently Reading - UPDATED

Meredith does it again. If you are not subscribed to her blog ... WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?!! Now if only I can find those second hand down comforters and at that price (or better)!! :) Great post on keeping warm at night. Well, ok, the link you follow is the great post. ;D And while there BE SURE to check out HER PODCASTS!! Oh Meredith, THANK YOU!!! :)

How To Haggle has some GREAT tips on haggling a price. This can work ANYWHERE! Garage sales, thrift stores, even higher end brand name stores!
HT: The Consumerist

$800 annual budget for a family of 4 is AMAZING! She takes $800 at the beginning of the year and that is her budget! I am just looking around and cannot tell if this is just for groceries (including toiletries and cleaning) or if it includes clothes and such too. OH this is so inspiring!!! (UPDATED - OH man this girl is SO NICE!! She takes time to answer questions you have in her comments!!! And she is NICE about it!! :) The budget is only for food and HBA, clothing and other items are not included. But still, GREAT GREAT SITE! I have read all the previous entries and comments.)
HT: Common Sense With Money

Three things I am thankful for:
*JJ loves to dance
*MM and EE doing somersaults in the living room
*AA is such a young lady and I am so proud of her

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Credit Cards COST YOU MORE MONEY - Updated

After reading the last post, and watching In Debt We Trust, and reading all the horror stories of credit cards (talks about one) I just wanted to share.

I know a lot of people say there is nothing wrong with credit cards, and I USED to agree.

However, it is estimated that people spend 20-30% more when they use a credit card than they would have if they paid cash. Even Crystal, who is very frugal and good with finances, admitted that even she overspent when not using cash.

I know that I truly believed my monthly grocery budget was $500. That is about what I was spending a month for our family of 6. And I thought I was doing well. Once we switched to cash, I am spending $300-$350! I am saving almost $200 A MONTH by using cash instead of a credit card.

Not only that, but credit card companies can raise your interest rate for no reason at all. Even on good customers who pay it off every month. And then some emergency happens (like your son being in the hospital for a month) and you have no emergency fund because you have always relied on credit cards, and now you are in debt because of some bad mistakes you made and have to pay an extra $300 bucks a month because now you are tying to play catch up.

Playing with credit cards is a dangerous game. And for us, it is not worth it anymore.

We had been good customers. Paying off on time and every month. But every now and then we had to pull out of savings a little bit here and there to pay it off fully, until this past January arrived and we realized that we had no more to pull out of savings to pay of the credit card. It happened so slowly and yet so FAST at the same time.

I truly believe that had we been paying cash instead of using credit cards, we would have had more than enough money in savings to pay of the emergency medical expenses that we have incurred.

$500 x 2(do this biweekly) x 12months = $12000
$300 x 2(do this biweekly) x 12months = $7200
Difference of $4800 that could have been gaining it's OWN interest for US (to the sum of $576) leaving us with an extra total of $5376 (and that is just in one year and JUST on GROCERIES!).

UPDATED: Be sure to read through the comments. Some good thoughts by Rebecca. Feel free to join in, but remember nothing that is not edifying will be published. You can disagree AND edify at the same time. :) Rebecca is a wonderful example of that.

Don't Be Afriad To ASK

Written at the beginning of Jan 2008

I am sad to say we have gone from a habit of saving, to a habit of spending, to a habit of living pay check by pay check and now, this month, we are finally in debt.

It was never even a possibility in our mind. We vowed we would NEVER be in debt. But bad spending habits snowballed, and then unexpected emergencies happened along with a major change in a child's diet, and some bad spending choices recently and here we are. A BUNCH in debt!

We have decided to become as serious about our vows concerning money as we are about our vows concerning marriage. We will have to pay finances charges on our credit card this month as we wait for a pay increase to help pay off the card next month. And we now have a loan that is needing to be pain on.

I have learned that it never hurts to ask. For a discount on something you want to buy, a late fee to be removed or waived, or even for something about your account to be changed.

I needed to buy a birthday gift for a friend and one for JJ (I know his birthday is not until May, but when there is a sale AND you have a coupon... welll...I had a coupon for $5 off a Polly Pocket item, and the Polly Pocket items were on sale for 30% off. There was also the PERFECT gift for Josiah, also on sale. I had only two dollars in change and went up to the front. I had an expired coupon of $10 cash. I asked if they would honor the $10 cash. They said yes. They would also honor the Polly POckets Coupon! So basically I got two BRAND NEW TOYS totaling almost $30 before sales for less than $2!!! KOHL's totally ROCKS!

We also had a late fee on our mortgage this month. I called and explained the situation and they removed the late fee! OF course this is a one time thing, but it saved us over $80!

I also needed our payment date for our credit card changed. Beloved gets paid on the 15th and we owe balance in full on the 14th. SOo I got to actually PICK the date I wanted to pay! It starts in two months! This will REALLY help on those months we are back to living paycheck to paycheck as we start getting our finances back in order.

Just some ramblings on cash I wrote at the beginning of the month that I found and thought I would share.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday's Fun: Pizza Movie Night or how to nev er pay to rent a movie again

Seems everyone has Pizza Movie Night on Friday night. LOL!!!

Unless it is a no TV week for us, we too have a pizza movie night on Fridays. Here is how you can save money AND have fun doing it.

Make your own pizza. We currently buy a pizza mix (a gluten free mix) to make pizza crusts (we REALLY like Namaste). But there are PLENTY of sites out there with directions on how to make your own pizza crust (especially if you are not doing the gluten free thing). :) I have not been able to make my own GF pizza crust from scratch yet. Allow the children to HELP make the crusts! Make it part of the night. :)

We allow the children to make their OWN pizzas. They get to put the sauce on, and we have toppings in little bowls on the table for them to add their own toppings.

Now for the movie part. Redbox is only $1 a night BUT they FREQUENTLY come out with free rental coupons! You can do a google search for REDBOX COUPON and almost always find one. :) You can also sign up with places like Blockbuster and get coupons for free rentals.

Our library also has movies. New releases are available first come first serve (called Rapid View) and you can check it out for three days!! This is how we got a hold of Meet The Robinsons, Miss Potter and several other movies. :) For those movies that are so popular we never seem to catch them in the Rapid View, we can put a hold on the movie and check it out for a week when it comes in (this is how we got a hold of In Debt We Trust, A Night At The Museum and others.)

And don't forget there is always borrowing from your neighbor. Maybe you have a movie they would really like to see and they have one you would really like to see. You can swap. :)

Doing these things, we have not paid for a movie rental in almost two years. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Knitting Birthday Party

As I mentioned before, my daughter (AA) learned how to knit.

So for her birthday party (I can hardly believe she is turning 8, where does the time GO?!?!?!), she has decided that she wants to have a knitting party! Instead of gifts, she is asking the moms to buy their daughters some beginning knitting supplies. My daughter is practicing really hard to learn how to TEACH knitting to the girls coming who do not know how to knit. Of course she only knows how to cast on and garter stitch, but right now, she is so highly motivated and excited. And soon she will be learning new stitches and making more and more!! :D

So we are going to have cake and tea and a knitting bee! :) I am so excited!!! :)
Three things I am thankful for:
*the pile of clutter we have - even though I am bummed that there is this HUGE pile of clutter and I want it WILL be gone. That is what the pile is. :)
*a husband who knows a LOT about computers :D I would be LOST without him!
*a husband who seeks after the Lord :D I would be lost without him!! :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Raising Children With Financial Peace

AA: (during a Dave Ramsey talk show) Momma, are we debt free?

Sadly, no honey.

AA: So we have debt?

Yes honey.

AA: Mommy, what does borrowing mean?

It means that if you want to buy a book that costs $5, but you only have $1 you goto the bank and ask to BORROW $4. And even though they give you $4, you have to pay them back (that is why it is called BORROWING) with what is called interest. Sometimes the interest is high. So you borrow $4 from the bank, but you have to pay them back $8. And if you don't pay them back in a certain amount of time, they can add more and more money that you have to give them back.

AA: Well if you had $8 you wouldn't have to do that, you could just buy the book.

That is right, but what if you don't have $8?

AA: You save up for it!

WOOHOO!!! Dave Ramsey is having an affect on our children. I think Dave Ramsey needs to have a show where parents can call in when their children are getting it and instead of screaming WE'RE DEBT FREE we can scream WE'RE CHANGING OUR FAMILY TREE!!!! :)

Three things I am thankful for:
*a daughter who strives to please us (and I pray that she will desire to please the Lord above all and not allow her desire to please to allow her to be used or for wrongdoing)
*the ability and desire to learn and to change
*pizza (they don't all have to be deep do they?) LOL!!! :) YUMMO!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tuesday Link Up: Electric Bill - reading this WILL save you money!

Did you know that some of your appliances use electricity EVEN WHEN TURNED OFF?!?!?! If you are going around the house making sure all lights are turned off to save money, you will also want to unplug some appliances! Studies estimate you can save 10% on your electric bill by unplugging appliances you are not using!

Check it out! They are called Vampire Appliances, because the SUCK electricity even when not on!

Check out this wonderfully done and easy to read chart on vampire appliances to see just what appliances in your house are sucking your money right out of your pocket! Then come back here and read one or two of the articles below.

Costs Consumers $3 BIllion a Year
How Many Vampires Exist In Your Home? - this is a GREAT science project to do!!! Not just for home schoolers!
Vampire Power
Cut Up to 10% of Your Electric Bill By Turning Off Vampire Appliances

What we are planning to do is putting all the appliances in our entertainment center (VCR, DVD, TV, Radio, and the little box thing that everything goes through) on a power strip that we can just turn off when we are done and on when we want to watch/listen. Yes, we will lose the presettings on everything. Do we care? Not really. I do not need a time on the VCR (we don't record anything), and I don't watch enough TV to need those preset channels. I can just enter in the channel I want (instead of flipping through, which is the whole purpose of the preset channels). And that computer and printer that are hardly used, those are going on a power strip too. :) Easy to cut power to and easy to restore power when we need to.

Three things I am thankful for:
*JJ is doing very well in therapy
*God's blessings, even though I am so undeserving
*Connecting with family :)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Jan 2008 Report

So how did we do for the month of Janurary?

We saved $30 on our utility bill! Only one week of that had us at 60 from 7pm to 7am. Before that we were doing 65 day and night. And we did have one week where it was at 68 (was my mom visiting). Near the end of the month we also turned off the gas fireplace and turned off the gas to it completely. I wonder how much you lose just having the pilot lit??

Also, the past week I have kept the thermostat at 60 all day instead of turning it up during the day. And you know what! I noticed that the house was getting up to 63-65 all by itself!!! :) That sun comes up and we let it in the house to warm us up, then when the sun goes away, we shut the blinds to keep the heat in. :)

And we kept to the budget! We even had money to pay off some of our credit card debt!!! :) We cut it nearly in half!

I was also able to get the activation fee dropped on our new cell phone service simply by asking. I simply called up customer service (they have more power than the people in the store) and said "I am a new customer after switching from Verizon, and was wondering if you would drop the activation fee as a way of saying welcome and thank you for choosing AT&T." They were more than happy to as a way to "get us off on the right foot." That saved us about $40. :)

We saved $80 this month that we normally would have just spent. And we stuck to the budget allowing us to pay off nearly half our credit card debt.

Three things I am thankful for:
*JJ running around saying "knock knock" because he has heard SO MANY knock knock jokes from his sisters - WAY cute!
*the girls finding humor in eyeballs. EVERYTHING ends with eyeballs around here lately - even the knock knock jokes.
knock knock - who's there - banana - banana who - banana with eyeballs
*rolling around on the floor with my children in laughter so wonderful and full that our checks hurt

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Saturday Sweethearts: My Frugal Valentine

I plan on giving him a bouquet of paper roses with a note inside each one telling him something different I love about him.

I also plan on making his favorite dessert. I will have to wait as we get closer to see if it is in the budget. :)

I am also going to at least make a nice dinner and have candles. There is no reason why the children should not be able to celebrate Valentine's day with us. I think it is important for them to participate and see how much Mommy and Daddy love each other. :)

The children are also each going to write a love letter to Daddy. :)

There are also some frugal (and not so frugal) ideas on Romancing Your Husband on this blog.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Frugal Family Fun: More Friday's Fun

So Being Frugal was talking about Frugal Family Fun, and there was so much to share, it turned into a blog entry instead of just a comment. LOL!!

I agree. We have a game night too (mentioned in the comments on her post). In fact we have something fun for every night of the week! And on this blog I try to post something family fun and frugal every Friday. And I have a lot of fun things listed in the Just For Fun section of my blog.

The girls LOVE board games! I also collect craft kits at thrift stores and garage sales. These are GREAT to pull out. Also, we have just recently started Saturday Morning Paintings. We all sit down at the table with paper and pencil and watercolors. I love seeing what the girls draw. We are hoping to do more with Charlotte Mason Nature Studies once it warms up.

We also do a lot of baking and cooking together. What a wonderful way to learn how to make your own bread (and have FUN with it too!).

My husband also takes the girls on library date nights. He will check out some fun book with them. A few months ago, he checked out some "how to draw" books and he and my daughter sat at the table at the library and just went through the books, picking out fun things to draw. My daughter STILL talks about it!

And who can forget You Tube? While there is some stuff on there that is NOT for kids, there are a lot of things that are. You can usually goto any Christian forum and find a thread about funny You Tube videos. There are a few on this blog (just goto the top of this blog and enter VIDEO into the search field - the great thing about Blogger is it will search only this blog). My girls and I have laughed so hard at other babies giggling, puppies talking and Human Tetris! :) Rocks In My Dryer asked for people to send in their favs. GREAT list with that link. :)

I hope this helps give you some ideas and I encourage you to check out the links for LOTS more! :)

Friday's Fun: NO TV week

Every so often, we turn off the TV for the whole week. The girls usually only watch videos, but sometimes I get caught up in a TV show. And hubby loves to watch videos. So all TV's went off (and no computer or video games).

And it was wonderful! I love how well my children receive the NO TV or video games weeks we have. They actually seem happy about it.

Day one was Monday, and immediately up came the checkers board. We were very blessed to get a HUGE cloth fabric board with the big pieces for 50 cents at a garage sale. There is just SOMETHING about this BIG over the small tiny one that really encourages them to play. I was told the same thing about chess. Something about the BIGNESS of it makes them WANT to play.

Every day the children were excited to play games WITH each other and with me. I was not once asked to watch TV. And I was amazed at how often they wanted to play WITH each other (compared to the TV watching weeks were they seem to want a lot more alone time). My MM (4 1/2 years old) actually BEAT ME at checkers! I gave her one king, and that was all it took. I played my best. I couldn't believe it! And that smile on her face afterwards was PRICELESS!!!

The Pearls say that if you are going to remove a negative influence (like TV or video games), give them a motivation to by providing something much more fun and interesting. We love games. And you can have a lot of fun with board games.

Three things I am thankful for:
a husband who is more understanding than I deserve
children who are more forgiving than I deserve
A God is is so good to me and blesses me beyond measure

TV or Not TV or maybe just Digital TV

Just another way to force us to buy something. On Feb 17, 2009 all over the air broadcasting will switch to digital broadcasting. That's not news as we have known for quite a while that it will happen.

Two things you need to know:

1- you do NOT NOT NOT NOT N_O_T have to buy a new TV that receives digital broad casting.

2 - you _MIGHT_ have to buy a converter box if you want to continue to watch TV.

HOWEVER, you do NOT have to pay full price for one. The Consumerist has a great article explaining things more in depth as well as a link to the coupon for your new converter box.

OK, so our TV is from 1992 LOL and will most likely need the digital converter. To me, I am thinking that this might be a wonderful way God is helping all those families who said they did not want to watch TV to actually NOT watch TV. :) Be careful what you wish for!! :)