Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Merry Frugal Christmas!

Did I get your attention with the words frugal and Christmas put together? I thought so! Have you guys heard of Swagbucks? If you haven't they are seriously awesome! I use it instead of google, and use it to get to my usual websites I go to everyday!

Anyways everyday you are guaranteed to win at least one swagbuck, but more than likely you'll earn more than that, it just depends on how often you use it. After you win 45 swagbucks, you can cash it in for a 5 dollar amazon gift card. And now as a special bonus for Christmas swagbucks is marking down the amount needed to redeem gift cards by a significant amount! You get three swagbucks just for signing up. There are Macy's gift cards, Barnes and Noble gift cards, Target gift cards, and Starbucks gift cards. I have been saving mine since July, and have began cashing them in for amazon cards. I will have at least 30 dollars in swagbucks to buy Christmas presents. It might not seem like much, but they really add up! And all you have to do is use it as a search engine.

Then after you redeem your swagbucks, you should get an account with ebates. Ebates is a website that allows you to get a certain percentage back on your online purchases. It's usually between 3-6 % back, but that's money going right back to you, and after you've earned $5.01, you'll be eligible to get your check. So if you are going to be doing any online shopping this holiday season, this would be a very wise website to order through.

These are two tips I have for stretching your Christmas budget a little further. You can sign up for both of these companies by clicking here for swagbucks and here for Ebates. You can also click the link for swagbucks on the side of this page. It doesn't cost anything, and it will save you a little bit of money this holiday season! Soon, you will probably begin to sound like my friends and I by saying things like, "How many swagbucks did you earn today?" or "I just won 10 swagbucks!"

*Disclaimer: When you sign up for these sites I will get credit for referring you if you click on the above links.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Like Father, Like Son?

Lately my little boy has been a little parrot. Everything Erik or I say, Jack says- which has caused us to really think before we speak at times! Everything Erik or I do, Jack wants to do. Anything from parenting his stuffed animals to sitting with his Bible, looking up at us when we ask him a question and going, "Hush," is in many ways mimicking the things we do. And just as an aside we do not hush Jack at home when we are reading our Bible, it stems from a Family Bible study we go to on Sunday nights where Jack has to sit quietly for an hour. Just to clarify.

So I suppose it should not have come as a huge surprise when Jack started coming up to me while I was making dinner, and wrapping himself around my leg and saying, "Hewwo Cwazy." That's Jack speak for, "Hello, Crazy." Yep, that's right, Erik oftentimes will come up to me while I'm making dinner and give me a kiss and say, "Hello, crazy." From the time we went on our third or fourth date, Erik has always affectionately called me crazy. And yes it is affectionately and yes there is a reason behind it, that I will spare you the details of at this time, lest you also think I'm crazy.

When Jack first started doing this I wasn't entirely sure how to handle it. I tried explaining to him that this is not a nice thing to say to others, but it was hard to reprimand him to sternly since he is usually nuzzled against my leg or resting his head on my shoulder when he does this. It also doesn't help matters that my husband thinks this is hilarious. When I was discussing this with Erik a few days ago, he reminded me that when Jack does this or when he does this, it isn't an insult in any way shape or form, in fact its the equivalent of being called honey or sweetie. At least in this house.

So if you see a little boy running around and he runs up to give you a hug and calls you crazy, please do not be insulted. Instead, think of it as if he just said, "Hey, sweetheart!" Because, after all, he is just mimicking the sweet moments he witnesses between his mommy and daddy.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Letter to my kiddos

Dear Jack, Anna, and Baby,

Jack, you are almost 28 months old! Which, since I never hear anyone describe their 2 year old in month terms anymore, I guess you are officially a big boy! You have one of the sweetest dispositions of any toddler I have ever been around. You are very friendly to just about everyone you meet and also very funny. You're such a good daddy to your "Froggie", even though sometimes just as any good daddy has to do, when you feel froggie has disobeyed, you must discipline him. But you are always quick to remind him you love him. Watching you interact with froggie can either give your daddy and I some encouragement with how we are raising you, or sometimes it convicts us to make sure we're watching our tone of voice with you!

Jack, you also love to listen to music! One of your favorite things to do is listen to Mighty to Save by Hillsong on You Tube. You are constantly requesting the " Cross Jesus song." There have even been times when you've been on the verge of throwing a fit because you couldn't listen to it as soon as you wanted, which I have to admit puts me in quite an awkward position because I'm not normally inclined to give into you when you're whining, but when you're whining and saying, "Please, sing song to Jesus!" I can't very well discourage that, now can I? You are also a good helper. You actually like to help Mommy put away dishes, you love to sort laundry, and you're pretty good about picking up your toys! You are also an awesome older brother to Anna. When she is crying, you'll oftentimes bring her a toy, give her a(rather forceful) hug and tell her not to cry. Not that there aren't times when you feel the need to parent her and say sternly," Anna, no fits. That's a no no!"

Anna, you are almost 15 months! You are still teeny tiny, and most people don't believe me when I say you're several months past being a 9 month old! But you are, and while you might be small, you are very sharp and are saying quite a few words already such as, Mama, Dada, Ball, Thank You, Bub, and No no(that's one you just picked up last night!)You're getting pretty close to walking, probably still have a month or two more before it becomes your primary transportation, but you get around really well. Everyone comments to me that they think you have the cutest little jibber jabber. Oftentimes you'll randomly point at something and have an entire conversation with us about it!

Your personality is what your daddy and I like to call all or nothing. There is rarely middle ground with you. I will say most of the time you are very happy and funny, but if you are tired, hungry, or just plain don't want to do something there is very little we can do about it except give you what you want. You are definently a mama's girl, though in the last month or so I think your daddy and I are now on equal footing with you, it's just I'm with you more. But when your daddy walks through the door at the end of the day you're the first one scrambling to get to his arms for a hug and kiss. With your big eyes and curly hair, I think it's safe to say that all the men in your life (Daddy and both your grandpa's) are wrapped around your finger.

You also love to play peek a boo with us, but you haven't quite figured out how to cover your eyes, oftentimes you cover your ears and then pop your arms open! You and Jack both love to play peek a boo in our curtains, and at night before bed you two will usually play that will chasing each other around our ottoman. For a long time you thought that Jack could do no wrong. If he'd take a toy from you, you'd laugh at him, as if to say, "Bubby can do no wrong!" However, now that you're a little older you definently love your Jack, but you certainly won't stand for it if Jack takes one of your toys!

Lastly, to my baby, I'm so excited to meet you in a few months! I can't wait to see how Jack and Anna take to you! Heck, I'm excited to find out what you are! You are very active, especially at night where you seemingly have endless dance parties. February will be here before we know it! I hope you're ready for the crazy family you're about to be born into!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

God doesn't need a Savings Account

It's probably no secret to anyone who reads this blog and certainly to anyone who knows me personally that currently my husband and I have nothing in savings. Do I think this is wise? No. Do I think this is irresponsible of us? No, in our particular season of life I do not think it is irresponsible of us to not have a savings account. Would it be nice? Absolutely. Would it be a lot less stressful if we did? Of course it would be! However, once again I am forced to remind myself that in this stage of life we are trying to survive, not pay off debt, put money in our children's college funds, or save for retirement.

You see, earlier this year my husband was laid off after several months of little or no work. We did have savings, unfortunately we did not have going on 12 months of living expenses in a savings account, so it was only a few months before our savings account was gone. When it appeared my husband had his job back, he broke his thumb, but since it didn't happen at work not only did we not have unemployment coming in, we also had no insurance. Making things a bit more interesting is the fact that during this time I unexpectedly found myself pregnant for the third time in less than two years! Just to make things a little more interesting, you should also know that our house has been sitting on the market for well over a year now.

However, even though these circumstances seem crazy and stressful, these were the events that God used to allow my husband to finally go back to college. Going back to college to complete a 2 year program that would make for a better life for us in the long run is something my husband and I have been wanting to happen for at least two years, but we were never sure how to make it work. And we certainly never foresaw that he would be going back to school before we sold our house. Thankfully, God has other plans. I don't pretend to understand why God hasn't provided a buyer for our home before allowing Erik to go back to college. In fact, there have been many times that I have cried out to the Lord and asked Him what's going on.

During this difficult season of life, it has been very easy for me to give into the temptation to grow anxious. There have been many times I have felt like a bad person when I read other peoples blogs about how financially savy they are, or talk to someone who seems to have it all together. I even hesitated to put on my blogs header the verse, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you," because I didn't want anyone reading this blog to think I was some sort of feel good Christian, someone who thinks that the only agenda God has is for us to be happy. Because I certainly am not. However, this verse has been one of my constant go to verses. Jesus promises that we NEVER have to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear, even the sparrows will have their needs met- how much more will we have our needs met? What a peace! What a blessing to know that God promises to never leave us or forsake us. As it says in Hebrews 13, we are not to love money, but instead be content with what we have, because He promises to NEVER leave us!

When I am tempted to grow weary and anxious, when I am tempted to think, "Ok, God, we only have this much left in checking, and this bill is due next week!" I am quickly reminded of Hebrews 13 and those verses in Matthew. God promises to meet our needs RIGHT NOW, so I'm constantly just reminding myself that obviously God isn't worried about it, and He knows what's best for us always, so I certainly don' t need to worry. Instead I can meditate on the principle that God is who He says He is, and in His lovingkindness has allowed us to have His Word to read, study, be comforted by, and encourage others with all for His Glory!

Obviously, I hope one day things will be different for us, though I am careful not to make an idol out of that hope, because I am certain each season brings its own unique trials and blessings. So for right now, I'm holding fast to the promise that even though all I see now is potentially worrisome situations, God is the only one who knows the future and the only One who truly knows what is best for us, and will give us the Grace to get through any situation.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Babies are Sleeping

"I seldom feel like an adventurer- standing in this kitchen, pouring cereal into bowls, refilling them, handing out paper towels when the inevitable cry come, 'Uh oh I spilled.' But sometimes at night the thought will strike me: There are {two} little people here, breathing sweetly in their beds, whose lives are for a moment in our hands. I might as well be at the controls of a moon shot, the mission is so grave and vast." taken from Domestic Affairs

No matter how the day goes with my littles. No matter how often I've grown frustrated with my childrens lack of obedience or felt like screaming because the monotony of my day gets to me. Every night- and I mean every night- before my husband and I go to bed, we sneak into Jack and Anna's bedroom, cover them back up, gently rub their backs, and maybe lean down to give them one last kiss. Nothing warms my mama heart more than seeing my sweet little girl peacefully sleeping sucking contetedly on her hands and seeing my silly son with one arm draped around his beloved stuffed frog and the other one protectively holding his stuffed Mickey Mouse(Yes he has two security objects!)

The quote I posted is so true. Some days it doesn't feel like I'm doing anything significant, in fact most days feel like an endless whirl wind of diaper changes, correction, and peanut butter jelly sandwiches. But when I truly put things in perspective, not only realizing that the time I have with my children is so short, but beginning to get my head around the fact that God has given us these little souls to train up for His Glory, I feel beyond blessed and humbled by this astronomical challenge that has been given to me. When I look back on my life and think about my plans I had back when I first started college, my life now doesn't seem all that important as compared to all the plans I had for myself. However when I remember that my husband and I are solely responsible for these little lives, absolutely nothing could be a greater mission.

Kissing my sweet children's sleepy faces and realizing I've been given the greatest job in the world? That is certainly a finer thing!

For more encouraging posts on the Finer things in Life check out Amy's blog!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Well we finally made it back to the grocery store, and I now have a menu in place for the week. It isn't too exciting since my brain cannot seem to remember what foods my family likes(see what a week off from cooking does to someone??!) However for this week, this is as good as it gets..nice simple meals..

Monday: Stromboli and Carrots

Tuesday: Chicken Legs, Chicken Soup(?), Bread

Wednesday: Bbq Chicken Pizza

Thursday: Breakfast- Biscuits and Gravy, Waffles

Friday: Tacos and Chips and Cheese

Saturday: Potato Cheese Soup and Whole Chicken

Breakfasts for us are usually fruit and cereal, with pancakes thrown in every once in awhile( Depends on how tired I am in the morning). Lunch is usually leftovers, Peanut Butter and Jelly with some fruit and crackers, or some soup. For Desserts this week I am planning on making a cheesecake, peanut butter pie, and possibly some pumpkin bread(My husband has a sweet tooth you wouldn't believe!!)

For more awesome menus, check out the Organizing Junkies Menu Plan Monday at http://orgjunkie.comhttp://s109.photobucket.com/albums/n75/Orgjunkie/?action=view&current=mpmhappy.jpg

Friday, November 6, 2009

Frugal Friday?...mmm not so much

Usually I consider myself to be a fairly frugal person. However, Friday was not a typical day for me. See, I have been sick all week and we were out of town last weekend so I had not been to the store in almost a week and a half. Which wouldn't have been so bad since I'm usually pretty good about keeping our house stocked with food, but that was not the case this week. Between my husband eating out almost every night this week and my kids only eating peanut butter and jelly for both lunch and dinner(I love that they are not old enough to ask for the fast food!) Everyone- including myself- was excited for me to hit the grocery store.

Friday was to be THE DAY. I was feeling better, it was gorgeous outside, and the sales looked really good for the week. I loaded up the kids, menu in hand, and I was ready to SHOP. On the way over to the store, our realtor called me wanting to know if someone could come look at our house that evening at 4 o'clock. It was 11:30 and I was about a half hour away from our house. I hadn't started shopping yet and since I had been sick all week our house was a disaster. My response to our real estate agent? "Of course they can!" I called my husband and told him of the plan and needless to say he was less than thrilled about the idea of his pregnant wife who was getting over the flu spending the day frantically cleaning. He decided he could come home early and help, but we still needed cleaning supplies and FOOD.

At the store I became one of those crazy mommies you see from time to time. I was muttering to myself, getting exasperated with my kids, and just throwing things I was pretty sure we needed into the grocery cart. In what was quite possibly the quickest shopping trip for a weeks worth of groceries and cleaning supplies, I awaited my total. I figured it would be around 30 dollars. All of it rang up to about 52 dollars, seven dollars over our weekly budget. To make matters worse when my husband asked that evening what I wanted to do about dinner I was faced with the realization that not only had I gone over our budget, but I hadn't bought actual ingredients to prepare dinner with. I ended making our families favorite Broccoli Cheese Soup- seriously the ONLY thing I had ingredients to make- and Erik ran out and got a rotisserie chicken from the store. Unfortunately, today I have to run back out and get the rest of the stuff I meant to get yesterday. Oh well. I guess there's always next week.


Lately I've been thinking a lot about being thankful for what I have. Perhaps it's the month of November what with Thanksgiving being at the end of the month and all, but I feel like it is more of a conviction. Unfortunately I tend to be one of those people who sees one prayer get answered, and then my mind quickly goes to, "Great, Lord. Ok so when are you going to answer my next prayer? Or how exactly are You going to work this situation out?" So recently I have been trying to meditate on all the good the Lord has done for me and my little family instead of worrying over when some of my bigger prayers that I haven't seen answered yet are going to be answered.

First, there's the obvious blessings, that I absolutely never want to take for granted, my husband and my children. My husband desires to take care of his family, lead his family, and he loves us very much. I'm thankful for my 2 year old's infectious giggle and my daughter's cuddly personality. I'm thankful they are healthy and safe. I'm thankful that the Lord has blessed us with another child on the way, even if it wasn't in our "plans" to have another baby quite this soon. I am thankful I can be home with them.

Then there is some of the more specific things I am thankful for. I'm thankful for feeling better after a week long illness. I'm thankful for bills being paid when we aren't always sure how exactly we are going to make ends meet. I'm thankful for God's Word and having the peace of knowing we are walking in His Will. I'm thankful that even when it seems like there just aren't enough hours in the day, the things that need to get done are accomplished. I'm so thankful for godly friends who desire to raise up their children in the Lord. I'm thankful my husband is able to go back to school after we have spent several years wondering what direction we should be heading.

Are things in my life perfect? Absolutely not. There are plenty of trials in my life that keep me clinging to Jesus with everything I have. We are waiting for our house to sell and for jobs to come available. I have a slightly high risk pregnancy that keeps us all anxious occasionally. I definently do not always react the way I should in many situations. But when I remember all the good- all the pleasant places the lines have fallen- that has been given to me I remember that anything that is given to me isn't because of anything good I have done, but because I have a Heavenly Father who loves and knows what's best for me. When I think of things that way what more could I possibly be thankful for?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my little corner of the internet! It is my desire that this will be a place for encouragement and laughter. I am a 20 something stay- at - home mom to Jack, who is 2(July 2007), Anna who is 1 (August 2008), and Baby number 3- who will be joining our family sometime in early February. I have been married for almost 4 wonderful years to my husband, Erik. Together, we desire to raise and train up our children to the Glory of God.

My husband is currently attending a local college, after 3 years of praying for direction on how to accomplish this, the Lord opened the doors to make it happen, although I will admit it wasn't necesesarily the plan we had made. However, His ways are ALWAYS better than ours, and we are holding onto that promise every day. Trust me, there will be plenty of posts in the near future about this crazy season of life we are in! So thanks for stopping by my little blog!

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