Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring Bakers

I've completed my first Daring Bakers' Challenge!!! Take a look HERE over on my recipe blog!

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Words I Have Longed to Hear

"Nay go potty."

Not as in "Nathan needs to go potty" but as in "Nathan went potty."


He went to the potty, unzipped his pjs, pulled down the night-time diaper (which was dry), peed in the potty, pulled up the diaper, zipped up his pjs, and flushed. Then promptly came to tell me that he had gone. He probably would have washed his hands, too, if he could have reached the faucet!

YIPEEE!!! HORRAY!!! We are well on our way to fully potty-trained!!!

Here's how we did it... if you don't want to talk poop and pee, stop right now. :) Just sayin'...

I had intended on really hitting the training hard last summer, but he (and Witt) were diagnosed with Toddler's Diarrhea. I won't go into the details except to say - lots of diapers and it can last until they are around 4 years old (Nathan was 31 months then and is 38 months now). So, with the lack of control in that area we didn't really focus much on the toilet because... well, just because. :P

With improvement on his end (pun intended! HA!), I decided that Winter Break would be a good time to start the training while we were focusing on changing habits anyway. We removed the changing table from his room to make it harder to change diapers and making us put him on the potty more. Then we ditched the pull-ups (except at night) and I set the timer for every two hours during the day.

Every two hours we went to the potty. I always sat him on the potty in hopes of catching him at the right moment for #2, too. And we did... lots of times! In fact I think there were only four dirty accidents those two weeks.

Nathan has been in big boy underwear during the day since then. After talking with his preschool teachers, they agreed that I could send him to school in big boy underwear, too. He had an accident the first day I sent him in underwear, but he's been doing great ever since!!!

I've got 1 1/2 bags of pull-ups left. I think we'll finish out the 1/2 bag at night just to be on the safe side, although he's been dry every night for about a month now. The other bag is going to get exchanged for a 2T for Witt to grow into.

Not buying pull-ups is going to help the grocery budget, too!

I love this part of potty training! :)

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Too Busy for God?

I am definitely in the "noisy season" of my life with three boys ages 6, 3, and 1. :)

Unfortunately, I think I have used that as a bit of an excuse. I have recently been very open with my husband about my lack of personal study. I think it was good for him, too, as we have made a new goal of getting up before the kids to have our own time with God and with each other.

Honestly, we've only followed through with our goal a few times, but I can certainly tell the difference in my day when I've had my personal time with God. I really need to get more serious with it. I enjoy so much reading God's word... why is it so hard to get started again?!?

This past week, I have started reading "Created to be His Help Meet". I'm only one chapter in, but already love this book. (Thanks, 4 Fun Boys for the gift of this book!) I look forward to focusing on how to become a better helper to my husband and encouraging him as he leads our family.

I do, however, pray throughout the day. Especially when someone requests a prayer. I say a prayer RIGHT THEN and THERE because I might forget it later at my "scheduled" prayer time. This has made a huge difference for me and by having already said a prayer, I generally do remember to pray for the person again!

It doesn't matter where I am or how short the prayer may be... I just do it. I have felt the power of prayer and I know it works. Asking and allowing others to pray for us has been a HUGE blessing to me and I try to return that blessing when I can.

We pray with our boys every night before bedtime as well. At first it was just with Will and Nathan since they share a room. We'd tuck them in and then say a prayer, but it was becoming difficult to keep two little boys still and quiet. {grin} Jeff had a brilliant idea of kneeling at the bed to pray with them (which just warms my heart, btw!).

One night, we decided to have Witt join us and it didn't take him long to fall right in line. The next night when we said, "Ok, it's time to pray," he ran to the bed, kneeled down, clasped his little hands together, and bowed his head. It was the MOST PRECIOUS thing I have ever seen!

A few nights later, I attempted a picture before the prayer, and this was the best shot I got (Will is on the far right in blue pjs)... I'll be trying again for a better picture, but I think you get the idea for now. :)

I look forward to Living Simply Saturdays over at Keeper of the Home.

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Friday, January 23, 2009


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

2009 Grocery Budget

(VERY, VERY, LONG DETAILED POST... but I needed to clear my mind. Oh, and some of the subject matter may be considered "too much information", but hey... it's what's goin' on and it's my blog. {grin})


I mention in my 2009 Resolutions that I want to keep my weekly grocery bill under $125 (that's $25 per person each week). There are many frugal bloggers out there that are able to maintain a budget of around $15 per person each week or less... I think that's spectacular, but I'm just not there.

When I say "grocery" budget here is what I am including:

  • food and drink, obviously
  • diapers & wipes
  • cleaning supplies
  • OTC medications, vitamins, etc.
  • Paper/plastic products
  • personal hygiene items
I do a large amount of couponing, shop at Aldis, try to "work the drug stores", and shop several stores for their advertised and unadvertised sales. Finding discontinued items that I also have coupons for is a real find and quite exciting! :)

So, how is it that with all this work I still save such a "high" grocery bill in comparison? I've been racking this over and over in my brain and here are a few things I've come up with... call them excuses if you like, but these rationalizations make me feel better. :)

Rationalization #1: "Milk"

First of all, we can't buy regular cow's milk. Our dairy alternatives cost $5 - $7 a gallon. We go through 4 gallons a week on average, so $20 - $28 of our weekly budget immediately goes to "milk".

Now, you might be asking why I don't offer more juice, lemonade, tea, or even water. Well, last summer both Witt and Nathan were diagnosed with toddlers' diarreha. The basic BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) does nothing for this condition. The recommendation for this diarreha is to up their fat intake, push "milk", and remove all juices and clear liquids.

So, the two little boys only drink "milk". Will doesn't like "non-dairy milk" and prefers juice. He will drink one glass of "hot chocolate" in the morning and then purchases a carton of milk at school to go with his snack. To make sure he is getting enough calcium, I buy him the fortified orange juice... which obviously would not the cheapest juice available.

Rationalization #2: Diapers

In the beginning of the toddler's diarreha, Witt was averaging 9 - 13 dirty diapers a day and Nathan about 5 - 8. That is a lot of dirty diapers, folks. A LOT. It also put a huge damper on potty-training Nathan.

Witt is now down to 5 - 7 dirty diapers a day and I would venture to say that Nathan has almost outgrown it (usually happens by age 4). Still... that's lots of diapers. I do see that the diaper & wipes portion of our bill will be reduced, though, as Nathan is now 90% of the time in big boy underwear! Way to go, Nathan!!! :)

Rationalization #3: Nutrition

I have really been focusing more on nutrition lately - using more whole wheat, trying to buy more organics, and substituting more coconut oil for margarine. All three of these are more expensive alternatives.

The boys also love fruit and I keep plenty on hand not only for snacks, but for green smoothies as well (a healthy, but expensive breakfast).

Rationalization #4: We rarely eat out

While this is good for our pocketbook overall, it is the single area that makes it difficult for me to compare grocery budgets. If one family eats out more than mine, of course their grocery budget is going to be less, but their Eating Out Budget may be more. Not that it really matters what everyone else is doing, it's just interesting to compare. ;)

So because we eat out very little (like one lunch per week), we buy more groceries... making my budgeted amount a little more than a family's that eats out more.

Make sense??

Rationalization #5: The US Government says we're on the THRIFTY PLAN

Based on this 2008 chart (and if I've done my math correctly), we're considered thrifty. I don't know whether to be pleased with myself or saddened by the standards... but there is always room for improvement:

Improvement Objective #1: Paper/plastic Products

We no longer use paper plates at our house! Go us! :) Our paper towel consumption has also decreased to approximately two rolls a month... PLUS, I got some really pretty cloth napkins for Christmas that I want to start using at supper! *I'm so excited! Seriously!* However, I'm not willing to switch to cloth hankies instead of Puffs. I love my Puffs with lotion! :)

As for the plastics... I'm stuck on my zippered bags. I'm trying to use more washable containers, but I'm not about to start washing out bags. I'm just not. Unfortunately, zippered bags are not cheap... even at Aldi's.

The majority of the zippered bags go in Will's school lunch box. I'm really tempted to purchase a Bento laptop lunchbox, but the upfront cost is higher than I'm willing to pay right now as I think Will could accidentally throw away pieces of it. However... if I do purchase this, it would save money in the long run, so I'm still undecided.

The other plastic zipper bag "hog" is the freezer. I freeze a lot of stuff in bags. What do you use to freeze foods safely? I'm willing to find better/cheaper alternatives here.

Improvement Objective #2: Reduce Meat

While the younger boys do need more fat in their diets, upon more research I found that increasing bean intake is also helpful for their condition. I've been experimenting more with lentils. I made spaghetti with half the meat I usually do and also added cooked lentils to keep the texture more "bulky" like we like it. Everyone ate it, no one complained... Will even had two helpings. I also made taco soup the same way - half the meat, with lentils for extra bulk. It was great! I plan to continue to substitute lentils for ground meat in more recipes. Maybe one day I'll just be making lentil spaghetti! Baby steps, though ...

Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge gave a very helpful tip one day: When a recipe calls for 1 pound of meat, use only 3/4 pound. The difference in the meal itself is unnoticeable and it stretches 4 pounds of meat to 5 meals. Genius! I've been doing this easily with ground meat, but need to remember to take this to heart with chicken and other meats, too.

Luckily, we also have two deer in the freezer. This will help our meat bill tremendously!

Do you have any meat reducing secrets?

Improvement Objective #3: Only buy free or almost free personal hygiene products

Last year, I STOCKED UP! I hit CVS, Wags, and Riteaid almost weekly. I have enough shampoo, conditioner, Johnson's Buddies, and baby lotions to last me the rest of 2009. Seriously. To keep my stockpile up for 2010, I will only "purchase" these items if I can get them for free or less than $0.25.

I have a decent stockpile of razors for Jeff and myself. I really need to keep an eye out for these. I'm willing to spend $0.50 per razor.

There are a few items we are not willing to change brands on that rarely have coupons, so I really need to find a way around this one...

Now, with all this said, I still struggle with the following:

In the long run, is it cheaper to stock up and buy in bulk or is it cheaper to stay within your budget, buy for the week only and bypass some of the deals?

Buying in bulk adds more to the weekly budget, but *usually* has a lower unit price. However, if I decided that not going over my budget is more frugal, that means bypassing some good deals and possibly spending more overall.

For instance, just yesterday I was in need of something for Jeff that averages $7-$8 each. I found them on 1/2 price at Publix. They had 6 bottles and I bought them all because it won't expire before they get used and it is something that I've never seen coupons for and isn't a regular sales item. I'm pretty certain that purchase is going to put me over my $125 for the week, but I think it was a good deal in the end.

Does this make sense? I don't know if I'm explaining it well... What do you think and how do you handle this type of situation?

I'm going to make myself a little more accountable by placing my weekly spending on my sidebar. Feel free to chastise me when I overspend! :)

And if you're willing to share your family's grocery budget, I'd love to know!

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Do you think Peter looked like this when he began to sink?

Matthew 14:30
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"


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Saturday, January 17, 2009

So, I Got a New Camera...

So, what do ya think?

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Friday, January 16, 2009

The Weather Outside

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Haircut

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Witt's Words

Witt will be 20 months old next week! Wow... where has the time gone????

He's saying more and more these days. New words seem to be popping up every day - it's always exciting!

Here's the latest:

"Nay" - Nathan

"DOE!!!" - Door (when his brother's lock him out, he comes to tattle with a pointed finger and DOE!!!!!)

"PAY!!!" - You know your kids watch too much tv when the little one tells you the DVD is back at the menu and knows how to tell you to push "PAY" (play)

"Duh" - All done and signs it, too

"Muck" - milk


"Ack" - sock


"Gaaaah-t" - got it!

"Code" - cold

"My my" - mine

"Top" - stop (I usually hear this from him when I'm singing... LOL!)

"Pack pack" - back pack

"Tat" - hot

"Tat" - hat

"Bake" - blanket

"Kuh" - cup

"See All" - cereal

"Tuh" - stuck


"Buh" - book

Some funny things he does...

  • He runs away when I ask the question, "Who is stinky?"
  • He likes to play in the refrigerator. There was one day I was searching and searching for him and I finally found him almost completely in the fridge with the door only slightly cracked! We have since put a lock back on... he's not happy with that at all!
  • He likes to hide. He gets really quiet and we literally have to search for him (like the day I found him in the fridge). Not a peep from him until we find him. This is one of the places I found him last month:
  • He loves to fall. I mean literally fall flat. He'll run, stop, and fall forward. If he's a bed, he'll fall backward, too. I'm surprised he hasn't split his head open yet.
  • When he pitches a fit, I ask him if he needs to go to the corner. He promptly tells me "no" and then goes to sit in the corner anyway. LOL!
  • I hate this, but he loves to play in the toilet. Ack! Yuck! Gross! Especially with two older brothers that forget to flush sometimes. 'nuf said on that subject. :P
  • He likes to dance. Especially when we watch Signing Time and she sings the theme song.

Oh, and the kid is in serious need of a haircut; he's got a major "comb-over" goin' on with that long hair! LOL!

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I was a little leery of purchasing another dairy-free cookbook. I've got several, but find that I just like to convert standard recipes to dairy free instead of finding strange ingredients.

NoWhey,Mama wrote a positive review about this book and I began to think about it. Then I emailed her and asked her is she really liked it or "was she just sayin' she did". Isn't that just awful of me!?! I can't believe I did that!

Anyway, she reconfirmed that she liked it, so I ordered it for myself for Christmas (that another whole post in itself).

Let me just say, "I AM IMPRESSED WITH THIS BOOK!" I love it. I really, really do. The first part of the book is about making the transition to DF, the health benefits, etc. Then she goes into different substitutions and how to make your own at home - sometimes for pennies!

It's not all about DF, though. She takes into consideration some other allergies and of vegans. It is truly a comprehensive book that anyone could use. She discusses different oils, how they should be used... which "milks" taste best in different recipes... being frugal... and she does it with a sense of humor as a real person who's been there... done that.

We've been DF for a little over a year now and I have learned SO MUCH from this book in the last month. I truly wish I had the book when we first made the switch.

Let me just say that I haven't even made it to the recipe section yet and I'm recommending this book! I've perused a few recipes and look forward to trying them out, but the information in this book has been so useful and opened my eyes to other options.

If you are thinking about getting this book, I HIGHLY recommend it!

And right now you might be able to get it for FREE!! NoWhey,Mama is hosting a giveaway at her place this week for a free copy! If you don't win, however, you can always get it from the GoDairyFree site (among other places).

P.S. I wrote this review by my own free-will... I get nothing in return for it except knowing that I'm suggesting a really useful book to those on the path of Dairy-free living. Enjoy!

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