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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shopping Cheap

I am all about saving money wherever I can. I also am big on eating good and healthy food. So with grocery shopping, I have found a happy medium. Our budget for all essentials (including diapers and wipes, and dogfood) for a family of 5 + 2 dogs is $200 a week. Now, those of you who have a family my size knows that it takes some work to keep the cost down, especially when buying healthy foods to make delicious meals. First of all, we rarely eat out- I pack my husbands lunch every day. This of course cuts way back on money because it nearly always costs more to eat out than in. Second of all, I use coupons. I dont have a ton of spare time, so I use The Grocery Game. It only costs me a little over a dollar a week, and helps me save anywhere from $50-$100 a week. So, it's an investment well spent. I also buy a newspaper every week that has coupon inserts (I got a deal where I am only paying $1 a week for the paper).

Not going to lie, it takes some commitment. I spend about 1 hr a week cutting coupons and compiling my list, and 2 hours shopping. But to me, 3 hours a week is worth the $100 average I save. In essence, I get $300 (and many times much more than this) worth of food and essentials for my budgeted $200.

For those foods/essentials that don't usually have coupons, or those that are still cheaper by bulk even with coupons, I go to Costco. I usually end up buying Dogfood (only $25 a bag for really good quality vs. the $40 we were spending), diapers and wipes (ends up being the same as the best deal I have ever found on diapers with a coupon at regular store), cheese, sometimes meat,peanut butter, and printer ink.

I will try to post my next week's shopping experience to give examples on how these all work together to bring great savings!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I love Autumn

Autumn is so much fun with kids! I love doing arts, crafts, and of course, dressing up! Here are a few things we have been up to:

First, we decorated mini pumpkins, which was so much fun and added some sparkle to the house!

We also made some chocolate spiders:

You can read on how to do that here. The kids had so much fun making these! And it's also a great learning activity!

Next, Jayna had an "Alphabed Parade" at her school. She was suppposed to dress up as a character that starts with a Z. She wanted to dress up as a zebra. It was so much fun getting creative! We used clothes she already had, and I went to the store and bought black and white eye shadow, and some white nail polish. Here is what we created:

For Halloween, we are going to dress up as well! Even Jason and I! I can't wait to share those pictures. We are going out tonight to find the finishing touches! Jason is going to be Snake Eyes from GI Joe, I'm going to be Scarlett from GI Joe, Jayna is Snow White, Xander is a Transformer, and Sonja, of her own choosing, is going to be Alvin the Chipmunk! I hope all of you are having a great October, too!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It really IS a free gift

I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember, but this concept is new to me. I can't believe I have missed this all these years.

"For everyone has sinned (well, I knew that part); we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous.(W-O-W). He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins....people are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood." Romans 3:23-25.

That is just so amazing to me. We have newly been going to a church that emphasizes this concept. And, wow, that is such a blessing. It's so freeing. Yes, of course we want to live the best lives we can. But, when we mess up big time, God doesn't even count us as in the wrong! I can't get over that. I am so excited.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Afternoons and Evenings

After lunch, until noon, I am cleaning up the kitchen (this gets very old, very fast!)
12-1p.m.- kids have homeschool (all three of them!). Today, we made yummy cookies and the kids did their worksheets.

1-3- Sonja takes her nap, Jayna and Xander have quiet time, and I work on my College Courses (online). Fun-Fun-Fun!
3-4pm- KID TIME!!! We do crafts or play games. Today the kids painted
4-5:30- I get my butt to the gym. Staying in shape is really important to me
5:30-6:30- dinner (today was a delicious feast from Pioneer Woman. See it HERE! YUMMY!.
6:30-7- dishes. Fun. Not. Kids do their Chores
7-8- Family hour, family projects, etc.
8pm- kids go to bed

8-10- I'm finally off the clock!! Now I can work on my homemaking projects, or read, or just relax if I'm particularly drained!

My Mornings

Confession #1- I live and breathe for schedules. Although things happen that cause me to deviate from them probably once a week (Dr. appts, sick kids, husband having a day off), I try to stick to it as much as possible. It keeps me focused and in line. I believe that staying home with the kids is my "job" (although so much more), and just as people have routines and schedules at there job, so do I!

My schedule, as you can see from pen marks, I am always editing it.

Here is a glimpse of a typical morning in our home:

5:45 a.m.- I get myself out of bed before anyone else is awake (ideally!) and shower, get dressed, put on my makeup and actually feel like a woman. If I'm really lucky, I even blow dry and curl my hair.

My more detailed schedule. I have it in a plastic sheet protector and use an erasable marker. On here I write what's for dinner (which I have the week planned out on Microsoft OneNote, etc.)

6:15 a.m.- I make a pot of coffee, and sit down to have my quiet time. I love reading the Bible and learning about God.

6:45 a.m.- by this time, everyone is waking up. I fix breakfast (which as the picture shows, isn't usually grandious; Toaster waffles or cereal for kids, eggs and toast for me and hubby, ) Although sometimes we get adventurous and make colored pancakes! While everyone is eating, I'm usually cleaning up the kitchen and making my husband's lunch).

7:30- I help Jayna get ready for school and do her homework
8:10- The younger 2 load up on the stroller and Jayna gets on her bike, and we walk the 0.4 miles to school. Jayna loves kindergarten.

8:30- Start a load of laundry, and fold what's in the drier (yes, I leave clothes in the drier overnight. I'm bad)

9:00- Business and Office work. Self explanatory!

Sonja helps me with laundry.

Xander sits with me while I do QuickBooks.

10:30- younger kids bathed while I blog (I actually sit in the bathroom with my laptop and try not to get's quite comical, really).

11:15- pick up Jayna from school.
11:30- Lunch. Lunch ranges from leftovers from the night before to mac and cheese to sandwiches. Yes, Confession #2...I usually only cook 1 meal a day. And I'm okay with that.

And this is how my mornings fly by every day! Up next is the Afternoons!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Preschool Days

Preschool is so fun!! I have found such good ideas on the web for activities and crafts for the kids. They are loving it!

They have helped me cook, have done crafts, and done traditional worksheets as well.

Smoothie pops!

found these popsicle molds at a yardsale for $1!

Home Made Pizza Dough

They each had their own pizza to fix

Xander's pizza hat (was supposed to be a book cover )

Jayna's first book "What if we could only eat pizza"

Steamed Apples with Cinnamon

I very much enjoy our "preschool hour" as well as our "homemaking hour" that we have every day. It takes some planning (which has been a lot easier thanks to Microsoft OneNote and, of course, the internet and printer). I think that family time is first and foremost, but if we're learning while enjoying each other's comany, it's that much better!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Craft Time

I had to patch up my husband's favorite pair of jeans, so I set the children down to do a craft. I was having a hard time finding something for them to do that didn't require a lot of my help. So, I scoped out our recycle bin, and found a couple of square containers...perfect!

I grabbed some 2 sided mounting tape (didn't want them to have glue when I couldn't be right there overseeing!) and the box of popsicle sticks. They happily set to work making their boxes.

When they were finished putting the on popsicle sticks, I took the boxes out to the garage and spray painted them.

When the spray paint was dry, I let them decorate the boxes with stickers. They had a blast. Jayna uses her little box to hold crayons and pencils, Xander uses his to hold his sunglasses.

Oh, and my little "craft" turned out ok too! Jason was very pleased that he could wear his favorite jeans once again.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Bunch of Okies"

We had such a fun trip to Oklahoma to visit my dad and great aunt/great uncle. It's so beautiful there, and so different! The girls and I took a plane trip to Oklahoma City Thursday afternoon, and came back Monday afternoon. It was a short but sweet vacation!

The girls...getting ready to take off!!

Being out in the middle of nowhere (my aunt and uncle live on about 150 acres, give or take) was so refreshing, and I felt just a tad envious. But I quickly realized (ok, it took me a day or two after I got back), that being here in Arizona with family is a great life, too. Still, the ranch life tugs at my heart. Maybe someday we will be able to have some land, even if it's here in the Sunny State. Here are some pics that me and Jayna took of our time in Ada, Oklahoma.

Jayna loved riding this was my great uncle's brother's- over 50 years old! It still makes little kids smile!

The girls loved the cows (my aunt and uncle run a cow ranch). These calves just got weaned and were sent to the City on Sunday.

The next toy that they loved was the "Mule". We rode it around the country, and stopped at a pond or two to do some fishin' (Jayna had never caught a fish before this trip, and now she has caught 5!). Mama loved the Mule because it put grumpy babies to sleep!

Fishin' with Grandpa, and her first fish! (left) Very exciting evening.

"I got a FISH!!!!!!"

The sunsets were very beautiful! I just loved the scenery all together! The GREEN!! Wow, what a change from Phoenix! It was so relaxing and wholesome feeling!


On Saturday, we headed straight to the Amish festival of Ada! First, we watched them make the ice cream.........then, we ate the yummy goodness!!

Uh-Oh....Jayna found her new wish for her Santa list. these ponies were way too cute!

My Aunt Lois and Dad leading the way.

The Amish Festival was a neat site, but it was a little too hot and sunny to stay too long.

Sunday morning, we found this little creature in the middle of the road. We took him home, and let him go in my Dad's pond. Dad called me yesterday to say he's still around!

Sittin' on the front porch...we did a lot of was nice!

Sonja and me being silly, waiting for Grandpa and Jayna to get done fishing.

All in all, it was an amazing trip, but of course it is so good to be back home with Jason and Xander. I missed them!