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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Goals Update

  • Hang pictures on the walls. We got most stuff unpacked right away but I didn't hang anything up yet. Done!
  • Find a replacement camera and/or a smartphone (read more below). I ended up getting both. You can read more about that here.
  • Try 2 new Pinterest breakfast or muffins recipes. We tried these Whole Wheat Whatever Muffins (with cherries and cream cheese filling).
  • Try 2 different kinds of popsicles (I'm thinking chocolate pudding pops for sure!) We did watermelon strawberry pops with some leftover fruit from the fridge. They were simple but refreshing. And I kept forgetting to have the couple extras for snacks, so we didn't end up making the chocolate pudding ones yet.
  • Start the Unwired challenge. I've started reading the ebook, so I need to finish that and plan for my two week challenge. I finished reading the book right away, and was really pumped for this challenge.  And then I got my iPhone.  And now I spend very little time on the computer, except for when I'm uploading pictures or blogging, but I spend more time on my phone than I'd like (although still not as much as I was on the computer, so progress?).  I'm going to start setting my kitchen timer for those times when I am on there, though, so I can limit it that way.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cloth Diapers Don't Have To Be All Or Nothing

We have been a cloth diapering family for almost four years.  That doesn't mean that we don't get our share of disposable diapers, though - you can see some of Hannah's in the picture above.  What we do, which is working really well for us, is cloth diaper half time.

When we are at home, I try to keep both Hannah and Matthew in cloth diapers.  We have two dozen prefolds (the actual diaper part) and 6 covers in Matthew's size, so he almost never runs out before it's time to wash them.  We have two dozen prefolds in Hannah's size too, but with only 3 covers and a propensity for pooping, she goes through hers a lot faster.  (For those who don't know, you can reuse a cover with a new diaper insert when it's just wet, since you just wipe it off with the baby wipe and air dry, but the poop ones are messier and have to be thrown in the pail to wash.)

When we are out and about, we use disposable diapers.  It's just easier.  And at night? Disposables.  I could put in the effort to have a wet bag and cloth in the diaper bag, and figure out just how many extra layers Matthew needs at night to not leak (several), but it's just easier to do disposables sometimes. And that's okay.  It's a balance between the two that works for us.

I usually wash the diapers once or twice a week, depending on how often we've been home.  Even with the switch back to coin-operated laundry with this move, we're still only spending $2.50 on the equivalent of a standard jumbo package of diapers, which are normally around $9.00.  We use the cloth diapers often enough that they've more than paid for themselves in those savings.  I'm saving up my Swagbucks to get a few more small covers for Hannah so she doesn't get through them so fast, although she's almost to the point that she might fit into the middle size of diapers/covers that we have, which would be twice as many as the smalls.

Do we save money by cloth diapering half time? Yes.  Do we save sanity by using disposables sometimes? Absolutely.  Cloth diapers don't have to be all or nothing, but they're an awesome way to save money, protect the environment, and those little baby bums sure look cute!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Organizing Lego Directions

Jonah has really gotten into Legos lately, and we now have several sets.  The blocks are contained in one large bin and a couple smaller cases for specific sets, which is good enough for now.  I know once he gets more we'll need some sort of system for organizing them.  I really like the idea of doing them by colors.

The one part that wasn't working? The direction booklets.  They just got thrown in the bin with the blocks.  Pages were torn out, some were bent, and a few were ripped.  I knew if Jonah wanted to keep using them, we needed a new way to manage the booklets.
Enter the 3-ring binder.  I got this small binder with dividers as part of a label/organizing basket I won last year, and I never found a good use for it.  It wasn't the right size for any of my projects, and it was actually sitting in our donations tub.  It's the perfect size for the Lego directions!
I took 5 minutes to punch holes in the booklets, and used the dividers to separate the different booklets, although that's not really necessary as long as they're in order.  Now Jonah's directions are safe from getting destroyed in the block bin, and he can still easily find what he wants to build next! 

I'm linking this up to Organizing Junkie's August Organize It! Link Up Party.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fresh From The Garden...

With moving the past few summers, we haven't been able to have a garden of our own.  This year especially, however, we have been blessed with some of the extra produce from friends and church members.  My husband has been visiting all of the church members over the past few weeks, and we've gotten quite a bit.  Pictured above are some Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting made with a handful of beets, and a zucchini that will soon turn into some yummy zucchini bread.  (Please ignore my terrible frosting piping skills. I've been trying to get better at decorating for years - see my cakes for examples - and I just don't have the talent for it.)

We were given several bunches of fresh dill which is now drying in our dining room.

We've also had roasted baby red potatoes and onions, tossed in oil with salt, pepper, and fresh dill.

We enjoyed a mixture of wax beans and green beans fried up with bacon and onions.  There's not much better than onions fried up in bacon grease, let me tell you.

Most of these garden items can be paired with a cut of meat or another menu item we already had planned, and are a great fresh side to add to our meals.  I'm loving the random assortment of produce, and searching for recipes to try something new!  What's growing in your garden right now?

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Expectations can set you up for failure.

Today, I woke up expecting to be able to snooze for a few more minutes as I usually do while my husband gets up with the boys.  Hannah had other ideas.  I expected to be able to somewhat enjoy my coffee (which I brewed fresh at 8:00 a.m.) throughout the morning as I usually do.  I finished it just before we left for the park at 2:30 p.m.  When we got to the park, I expected the kids to run around while sat quietly at a table with Hannah and played on my phone.  We spent most of the time with me pushing them on the swings and negotiating who got to play with the sand shovel.  I am learning that a day with children rarely turns out quite as I expected.

And it's not just kids that throw me for a loop.  I have expectations of my husband too.  For example, I don't like the fan blowing directly on me.  Except for when I do.  He should move it because it's bothering me the way it is.

I get stressed out by the pile of dishes that take over the kitchen sink and part of the counter, and just seeing them puts me in a bad mood.  I want for them to get done, whether by me while he watches the baby, or by him while I sit with her.

But I haven't necessarily vocalized these things, and while it's possible that over the course of 6 years of marriage my husband may have picked up on them, to expect him to read my mind and know them intuitively isn't realistic.

These things happen differently than I had expected, and it bothers me.  I get annoyed. I end up in a bad mood, and if enough things happen that I didn't expect, I get angry. 

Expectations can set you up for failure.  But only if you let them.

I didn't expect to write this blog post with Hannah sitting on my lap kicking my arms, while her brothers play with cars and Legos and interrupt me with questions.  In an ideal world, it would have gotten done while they were all napping at the same time. 

Being a parent is teaching me to adapt.  To make the best of the situation at hand.  And I fail, constantly.  But I pick myself back up and try again.  When I focus on what I have accomplished, what did go as planned, and the little things that were even better because they didn't, then I'm okay.  It may not have been what I expected.  But it was a little piece of life that happened, and I want to enjoy it for what it was, not what it might have been.

Weekly Coupon Shopping

I was excited to try a few new apps on my iPhone with my coupon shopping this week: Cartwheel, iBotta, and some Target Mobile Coupons.  All worked very well, and I got everything pictured above for $6.25 (plus a $1.00 deposit back from iBotta)!

  • Annie's Bunnies: $2.79. Used $0.50/1 printable, and submitted for a $0.50 iBotta rebate = paid $2.29, get $0.50 rebate.
  • Evol Burrito: $2.49. Used $1.00/1 printable, and $1/1 frozen item (Target mobile coupon) = paid $0.49. I was going to use an iBotta rebate on this too, but it must have expired.
  • Van's Waffles: $2.50. Used $3/1 printable (take survey), which took off the full $3.00 = free plus $0.50 overage!
  • Edge Shave Gel: $2.44. Used $1/1 Target printable and 10% off Cartwheel coupon, then submitted for $0.50 iBotta rebate = paid $1.29, get $0.50 rebate.
  • 2 Schick Hydro Razors: $9.49 each. Used two $4/1 Target printables and two $4/1 printables (no longer available), plus 10% Cartwheel coupon = paid $0.94 each! These are my favorite razors.
  • 5 Bananas: $0.24 each. Used $1/1 fresh fruit Target mobile coupon = 5/$0.20!
  • Red Pepper: $1.19. Used $1/1 fresh veggie Target mobile coupon = $0.19!
  • Got $0.05 off for using my own bag.
  • Total spent: $6.25, got $1.00 iBotta rebate.
Here's a bit more about the apps I used:

Cartwheel: In case anyone was wondering, because I wasn't quite sure how this worked until I did it, the Cartwheel discount comes off after the Target coupons.  So for the razors, they were $9.49 each. The register took off the $4.00 Target coupon, bringing it down to $5.49, and the 10% came off of that ($0.55). And then the $4 manufacturer coupon came off, making them $0.94 each.

Mobile Coupons: For the mobile coupons, I have them saved to Passbook (an app that came preloaded on my iPhone), and I listed out the coupons on a piece of paper by date.  It's easier than trying to find which one belongs with which bar code at the register. This time all of my mobile coupons were under one bar code, so it was pretty easy, but if I ever use more than one at a time, then I know.

iBotta: This one is a bit more work, since you do the activities associated with the products ahead of time (take a poll, read a fact, etc.), and then once you purchase them you scan your receipt and the bar codes.  But it still only takes a few minutes, and it's pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weekly Coupon Shopping

Pick 'N Save
I went to Pick 'N Save on Saturday for another double double day, and did 2 transactions. For some reason, a couple of the juices and the butter from Transaction #2 ended up in the first picture.  Oh well!

Transaction #1:
  • 4 Kashi GoLean Crunch: on sale 4/$10.00. Used four $1/1 printables (doubled to $2/1) = paid $2/4, or $0.50 each!
  • Reese's Puffs Cereal: $2.50. Used $0.60/1 printable (doubled to $1.20/1) = paid $1.30, and I get a $0.50 SavingStar deposit back!
  • Tropicana Farmstand Juice: $2.99, save $2.00 on produce instantly.
  • 10 Mangoes: $3.99.
  • Celery: $0.99.
  • 10 Candy Bars: 10/$5 with ad coupon. Used two $0.50/2 Skittles/Starbursts (RP 06/02/13, doubled to $1/2) and three $0.50/2 Mars printables (doubled to $1/2) = 10 free!
  • Saved $0.25 for using my own bags.
  • Total before coupons: $38.83. Total after coupons: $8.63!
Transaction #2:
  • 4 Teddy Grahams: $1.99 each. Used two $1/2 printables (doubled to $2/2) = paid $3.96/4, or $0.98 each!
  • 2 Birdseye Frozen Green Beans: $1 each. Used $1/2 printable (doubled to $2/2) = 2 free!
  • 2 Larabars: $1 each. Used $1/2 printable (doubled to $2/2) = 2 free!
  • 2 Balance Bars: $1 each. Used $1/2 printable (doubled to $2/2) = 2 free!
  • 2 Welch's Juice: $2 each. Used $1/2 (RP 05/05/13, doubled to $2/2) = $2/2, or $1 each!
  • Frigo String Cheese: $2.48 with ad coupon. Used $0.75/1 (RP 06/02/13, doubled to $1.50/1) = paid $0.98!
  • 10 Yoplait Singles: 10/$5 with ad coupon. Used two $0.60/3 printables (doubled to $1.20/3) = paid $2.60/10, and got a $0.40 SavingStar deposit back!
  • Crystal Farms Butter: $1.98.
  • 2 International Delight Creamers: on clearance for $1.64 each. Used two $1/1 printables (doubled to $1.64 each) = 2 free! These were last-minute additions, and the coupons weren't supposed to be doubled, but the cashier had to manually enter them and she must not have realized I had already doubled 10 coupons (and I didn't either until later).
  • Total before coupons: $48.14. Total after coupons: $12.16!
Other Coupon Savings:
  • Walmart: Used $1.50/1 Mars Ice Cream Bars printable to get a 6-pack of Snickers Bars for $1.47. Used Free Belvita Breakfast Biscuits coupon from Facebook promotion to save $2.98.  Used two $3/1 Huggies printables to get 2 packs of diapers for $5.99 each. Used $1/1 Earthbound Farms product coupon from a mailer to get organic baby carrots for $0.28.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Menu Plan July 16-31

I meant to get this post up yesterday, but I was busier coming up with the menu and grocery shopping, so here it is today!

Tuesday, July 16
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: PB&J Sandwiches
Dinner: Black Bean Taco Salads

Wednesday, July 17
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Out for wings with church members
Dinner: Chicken Salads

Thursday, July 18
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Quesadillas
Dinner: BLTs, Fruit

Friday, July 19
Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Turkey Cheese Pinwheels
Dinner: Crockpot Ham & Scalloped Potatoes

Saturday, July 20
Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Area Pastors Picnic
Dinner: Ham & Green Bean Pasta

Sunday, July 21
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Dried Fruit & Nuts
Lunch: Eat Out (either McDonalds or Subway)
Dinner: Family Dinner - we're cooking Slow Cooker Jambalaya and Mini Corn Muffins

Monday,July 22
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: PB&J Sandwiches
Dinner: Homemade Macaroni & Cheese

Tuesday, July 23
Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches
Dinner: Crockpot Beef & Broccoli

Wednesday, July 24
Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Quesadillas
Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry

Thursday, July 25
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Turkey & Cheese Pinwheels
Dinner: Eggs, Bacon, & Toast

Friday, July 26
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: PB&J Sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

Saturday, July 27
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Hot Dogs
Dinner: Eat Out - not sure where yet, but it's our 6th anniversary!

Sunday, July 28
Breakfast: Muffins (not sure what kind)
Lunch: TBD
Dinner: Family Dinner

Monday, July 29
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas

Tuesday, July 30
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: PB&J Sandwiches
Dinner: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Wednesday, July 31
Breakfast: Eggs & Toast
Lunch: TBD
Dinner: Loaded Nachos (crockpot refried beans, black olives, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and who knows what else)

As always, breakfasts and lunches move around depending on what we end up doing each day, but dinners are pretty well set.  And I may (hopefully) substitute a few more interesting new breakfast recipes for some of the "cereal" days, but I haven't figured out which ones yet.  Stay tuned!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Camera or iPhone? Or...Both?

In this month's goals post, I mentioned the decision I was trying to make between getting a new camera or getting an iPhone.  Surprisingly enough, I ended up with both. 

About a week ago, we got a Canon Powershot SX500 on sale at Target for $100 off.  (We did splurge and get the 3-year "if anything happens to it, it gets fixed or replaced" plan, based on my previous history with 2 cameras dying for no apparent reason at about the 3 year mark).  The sale was at the right time, we had the money for it, and we had family in town that we see about once a year, with whom I wanted pictures.  It made sense.

Fast forward to later in the week.  My husband found out that the church where he is a pastor is going to start paying for his cell phone, since he uses it mostly for church-related things, and since his number is the one printed in all of the church ads and whatnot.  My Tracfone was almost out of minutes (again), so we discussed getting me a different phone.  We will be paying about $10 plus taxes more than what we were paying before for me to have the smartphone, which when you factor in the cost of the Tracfone minutes I was buying, is actually a pretty good deal.  It made sense.

So now I have both.  I love the quality of the pictures the camera takes, and even with the option to take pictures on the phone, I still prefer taking them with an actual camera.  With the phone, I like having all of my money-saving apps available to me, I like being able to check the weather with one touch of a button, and I like the ease of it (once I got past the learning curve). 

But. I don't like how easy it is to pick up the phone to check one quick thing and get distracted checking every little thing because I can, because it's there.  I have to work on limits.  Good thing I'm still planning on doing the Unwired challenge!  I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on this as time goes on, but for now, I think it's a good thing that I have both.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Weekly Coupon Shopping


  • 2 Huggies Jumbo Packs: $8.99 each. Used two $3/1 printables (no longer available) = paid $5.99 each.
  • 7 Simply Lemonade and 8 Simply Orange (1 of each pictured): 5/$5 (when you buy in increments of 5). Used $0.50/1 (July Walgreens booklet) = paid $0.50 each.
  • Total spent: $20.73

Friday, July 5, 2013

July Goals

I realized today that I didn't make an actual list of goals for this month, something I wanted to get back into.  It's true what they say about "mommy brain" after having kids. It's crazy.

  • Hang pictures on the walls. We got most stuff unpacked right away but I didn't hang anything up yet.
  • Find a replacement camera and/or a smartphone (read more below).
  • Start the Unwired challenge. I've started reading the ebook, so I need to finish that and plan for my two week challenge.
So here's my dilemma with the camera/smartphone. 

I have a nice camera. My camera, which we bought about 4 years ago before Jonah was born, has stopped turning on correctly.  It takes about 18 pushes of the on button to get it to turn on, and even then it sometimes shuts off.  So something with the wiring is wrong. 

I have a dumb phone.  I've purposely kept it that way, because I see people playing on their phones all the time, and I feel like I'm online a lot as it is, so I don't think it's necessarily smart to have access to everything all the time.  But. There have been many moments lately where I think, "That would be such a cute picture!" but by the time I get up, get the camera, and get it turned on, the moment has long since passed.  I haven't taken many pictures of Hannah because of the inconvenience, and I don't like that.

So I have to decide.  Get a smart phone, so I don't have to worry about counting minutes, and have the ability to take photos all the time, but possibly slip into spending too much time online? Or get a camera, but risk missing out on those moments anyways?  And all of that doesn't even take into consideration costs.  These are the things to figure out this month...stay tuned!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Weekly Coupon Shopping

I didn't do much shopping this week, but I did order some more coconut oil online.
  • Tropical Traditions: 2 quarts of Coconut Oil, normally $40.00 each.  On sale B1G1 free through today.  Total after shipping: $47.79. Used a $25.00 certificate from the referral program.  Paid the remaining $22.79 with Paypal money from Swagbucks.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are my referral links.  I will get credit if you sign up or order through my links.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Yell, Yell, Yell!

"I do not like this one so well.  All he does is yell yell yell!" --Dr. Suess, One Fish, Two Fish

Yelling.  This is something I have been struggling with lately in parenting.  Some days we get to bedtime, and I feel like I've spent my entire day yelling at Jonah and Matthew.  I hate that. 

There are moments when yelling is appropriate.  Like when the boys wake up from their naps, and I'm in the middle of feeding Hannah in the other room, I'll yell "Sure! Get out of bed!" or when we're walking and a car is coming, I'll raise my voice to say, "Move over to the side!" 

But then there are the other moments.  The "I'm tired.  Please hurry up!" moments.  The "I've told you this seven times already!" moments. The moments I immediately wish I could do over.  Because a lot of those moments, it's not really about the kids.  It's about me.  I recognize it, and I also recognize how difficult it is to overcome.

And the worst part, for me, is that Jonah is becoming a yeller.  When Matthew does something he doesn't like, or when we tell him to do something he doesn't want to do, he yells.  He screams.  And I see myself screaming at him for something earlier that day, and know that he's learning.  Maybe we'll unlearn this together.

I've been reading a lot about yelling lately in the online parenting world. 
  • I Like Your Nice Voice. (The Finer Things In Life) I am so positive that my kids could say this same thing to me, so I'm making an effort to use my "nice voice" more often and not my biting sarcasm or my angry yelling.
  • Confessions Of A Yelling Mom (Now Reformed). (Club 31 Women) " I’d say I’m a fairly soft-spoken person. But something seemed to have happened once I had small children. Yeah, it’s like something snapped! I became a yeller." Again, something that spoke right to my heart.  I didn't use to yell.
  • When Your Temper Scares You - Some Suggestions For Defusing. (Lisa Jo Baker) "There's no rage like the exhausted rage of motherhood." I've noticed that I've been yelling more in recent months.  The end of pregnancy, when I can barely move myself, let alone two toddlers.  The newborn days, when everything is a haze of feedings and diapers and no sleep.
  • What All Mamas (And Us) Need To Thrive This Summer. (A Holy Experience) "What do I want my children to remember — my joy in clean floors, made beds and ironed shirts — or my joy of the Lord?" That's what is most important.  Not whether things get done, or go as expected.
  • The Orange Rhino. Then there's this woman, who went an entire year without yelling at her kids.  Color me impressed. Here's her post 10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling At My Kids.
I can take a bit of comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one struggling.  And when I have my good moments, when I know that I could have easily slipped into yelling, but I didn't, I'm proud of myself.   I'm trying to have more of those moments, and less of the yelling, but it's hard.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Menu Plan July 1-15

My last menu plan worked out pretty well.  I liked having all 3 meals listed out, while still having the option to pick and choose breakfasts and lunches.  We did have cereal a few extra times instead of some of the other options, which I recognize is mostly because I'm lazy in the mornings.  And we ended up with a few meals to carry over into this menu plan, thanks to friends and family taking us out to eat a few times.  Score! Here's the plan for the first half of July:

Monday, July 1
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Macaroni & Cheese, Deli Sandwiches
Dinner: Sour Cream Beef Casserole

Tuesday, July 2
Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: Salads
Dinner: Crockpot Sausage and White Bean Stew, Cheesy Biscuits

Wednesday, July 3
Breakfast: Eggs & Bacon
Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches
Dinner: Leftover Sausage and White Bean Stew and Biscuits

Thursday, July 4
Breakfast: Orange Blueberry Muffins
Lunch: PB&J Picnic at the 4th of July Parade
Dinner: Hot Dogs and Brats

Friday, July 5
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches
Dinner: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

Saturday, July 6
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Dried Fruits and Nuts
Lunch: Veggie Minestrone Soup
Dinner: Taco Bar Dinner with my family

Sunday, July 7
Breakfast: Banana Bread
Lunch: TBD, but probably lunch out with my family
Dinner: Family Dinner (Jesse's sister is "hosting" - she works at Pizza Hut and it's Friends & Family night)

Monday, July 8
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: PB&J
Dinner: BLTs

Tuesday, July 9
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Peanut Butter and Bananas
Lunch: Turkey Sandwiches
Dinner: Baked Potatoes

Wednesday, July 10
Breakfast: Banana Bread
Lunch: Quesadillas
Dinner: Black Bean Burgers, Homemade Fries

Thursday, July 11
Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: Veggie Minestrone Soup (from the freezer from last week)
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas

Friday, July 12
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: TBD
Dinner: Chicken Sandwiches

Saturday, July 13
Breakfast: Oatmeal with Dried Fruits and Nuts
Lunch: PB&J
Dinner: Pizza with Chicken, Olives, and Mushrooms

Sunday, July 14
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Macaroni & Cheese
Dinner: Family Dinner

Monday, July 15
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Quesadillas
Dinner: Mexi Beans and Rice

I am linking this up to Organizing Junkie's weekly meal plan link-up.