Friday, July 31, 2009

Welcome August!

We finished week #3 of our school year today. 15 down, 165 to go.... I am unusually preoccupied with the counting this year since it is our first year of reporting attendance..sorry!

It has been an extremely busy summer! The kids have been working on a musical at Graceland on Wednesday nights, Noah's t-ball was every Monday and Tuesday, and I had book club every other Monday night. Combine that with Corey practicing until very late on Wednesdays and *something* going on about every other Thursday and THAT made for a fun-FILLED summer that breezed by entirely too quickly!

Noah's t-ball has ended, and there are only a couple more weeks of practicing left for the musical. We have really enjoyed both of those things, but it will be nice to have dinner at home more than once a week for a while! Soccer will just be one weeknight and then games every Saturday, so hopefully that will keep us at home more.

So many of my friends are posting (on facebook) how sad they are that summer is gone. Well, I don't know where they live, but it is just now about to be August, so summer is FAR from gone here! In fact, it will be summer all the way until September 22nd and I am betting it will still feel like summer for a while beyond that point as well.

With all that being said....I have to say... Welcome August! Welcome to meals at home together and soccer season.

Welcome to another month of school and days of learning, playing, and just being.
I want to say another welcome to a dear friend of ours as well. Welcome HOME Andy! He got home yesterday from a 5 month deployment in Afghanistan, so I know he is enjoying his homecoming and we can't wait to see him soon! Head over to Bethany's blog to post a message to him if you want... I know I am so thankful and proud of him for what he has sacrificed!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

T-ball Season Comes to a Close....

Tonight was the last t-ball game for the summer! I can't believe how fast these two months have gone by! The team went to CiCi's together after the game to celebrate. Noah had a blast hanging out with his teammates and eating pizza.

Then, it was trophy time! The coaches handed out the trophies along with the name tags that marked their little bins at the games that they used to store their water/hats/gloves.

Noah was so very proud of his trophy. We were so proud of HIM! He did such a great job giving it his ALL at every game! What a great player!

Here he is with his friend, Joshua, with their trophies! Noah has this crazy fake smile thing going on and would you believe..... actually got worse with the second attempt after a plea to not fake smile?! ha ha. Still a cutie though! Congratulations Noah!

Next up: Soccer Season!!!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Making Money!

I haven't exactly been making THAT much money, but I have had great success with selling things online the past couple of weeks. It has kind of kept me busy from blogging actually. Between posting ads, responding, weighing, boxing, etc... AND homeschooling, ha ha! It was actually surprisingly easy to get set up on paypal and they make printing labels and shipping SO EASY when you go through them. It also helps to have access to Corey's work where I can get any size box I need, packing tape, filler, etc.

I am trying to make enough money to buy the other little things I have wanted to get for us for school. I found the art curriculum book I wanted, used, for a great price, so I am getting that soon. We also drove down to Blick Art Supplies and got many of the things we will need to do all the art projects for the year. We still have a few things to pick up, but we can do that locally.

We also went shopping for music books so I could start the kids piano lessons and OF COURSE I had to find something that looked SO FUN and easy to teach that I just HAVE TO HAVE! ha ha! AND of course, it is most expensive than just purchasing a $6 piano book. It is called "Music for Little Mozarts" and sounds just perfect! I have been looking and looking and looking AND LOOKING for the kit used online but haven't had much luck. I thought I had found it in the Cartersville area, used, two levels of complete sets for $50, but the lady had already sold it :(

I am going to give it a few days then look some more. You can click on the name up there to go to a page about it. The cheapest place I have been able to find it is on believe it or not! Anyway, it is an entire curriculum kit and I just love kits and I just love music and I know we would have so much fun with it together.

Ha, it is late and my vocabulary is not very creative but my mind is completely fogged over from reading classifieds postings tonight!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Elephant

Katie and Noah are memorizing poetry this year as part of their schooling.
The first selection was "The Elephant" and as you will hear,
it is a very sweet, short, and simple to memorize verse.
They made elephant masks to wear during their little presentation for Corey.
(we were out of gray paper so they got creative)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Laundry Soap 101

Overall, I am very pleased with my homemade laundry detergent! The process is way easier than baking bread, or sewing a pillow, or many other "homemade" things I have tried. I am NOT someone to do things the hard way...I mean, I buy bottled water and boxed cereal, so believe me, if this was too difficult I would NOT be saying I would ever do it again! But, it was TOTALLY easy and COMPLETELY worth it! I get my own detergent which only has ingredients that I put in there and it does its job well, so I have no complaints whatsoever! It seems that the "less" stuff a product has in it, the more expensive it is at the grocery this is truly a value!!!!

Here are the supplies I purchased for my soap making adventure. (Yes, Bethany, I purchased a bucket...they looked so shiny and pretty and clean!) I also purchased a box grater because believe it or not I didn't have one already! I had a flat grater that was always annoying to me to use because you had to hold it up and it was always slipping, so I don't really consider the grater a purchase just for the soap...I really needed it anyway. Other than that I got Borax, Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, a big box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda, and a 10 pack of Ivory.

My recipe:
1 bar of Ivory Soap, grated
1/2 Cup Borax
1/2 Cup Washing Soda (changing it to 1 full cup next time)
1/2 Cup Baking Soda
3 gallons of hot tap water
4 cups of simmering/boiling-ish water

I poured 2 gallons of hot water into a large stock pot and put on the stove on low/med low to keep it hottish. Then I filled my gallon jug once more and left it in the sink until time to use. This way I had all my bulk water ready when the time came.
Then, I heated the 4 cups of water to simmering state on the stove and then slowly added the grated Ivory soap and heated, stirred, heated, stirred, heated, stirred...until it was all dissolved.

You can see my clock on the stove in the background. I started heating the water about 6:40 and at 7:00 all the soap was dissolved and ready to pour. All the photos I saw had the water looking "dirtier" than mine with the soap mixed in, but mine was pretty clear.

Then, I poured all my prepared hot water (3 gallons) into the big 5 gallon bucket. I added the soap mixture from the stove, the Borax, Washing Soda, and Baking Soda. Most of the recipes I have read do not call for Baking Soda but I decided to add it because some of the recipes I read said that adding baking soda helps it to clean better and deodorize clothes more. Since I was not adding scented oils or anything for fragrance (you can do that, it is optional but we prefer no scents for skin sensitivity) I decided I could use the baking soda!
Anyway, you stir all that really well until it is all dissolved, slap on the lid, and you are done.

It took me about 40 minutes from the time I started getting my pots and ingredients out until the time I was totally finished. I can't believe how easy it was!!!!

I let mine sit overnight but I have heard you can use it right away if you need to. After it sits for a while it firms up some. I took an unbent wire hanger to stir mine before I scoop it out each time. It just hangs over the edge of the bucket with the lid on. I used 1 cup in my load I washed with it yesterday. It worked great! My clothes smell nice and clean and they feel fresh, no residue or anything.

I was told that you should wash an empty load first because it will clean out your washing machine really well and that could cause that first load to get yucky. I did do that.

I think the next time I make it I will use a full cup of washing soda in addition to the baking soda. Apparently the washing soda is what makes it lather up and I did noticed my load wasn't "bubbly" while in there, even though it worked fine, I just like for my soap to bubble, don't you? ha ha!

Aside from the bucket and grater, my supplies total cost about $12, which is enough to make at least 10 batches and it will make 12 batches if I just buy two more bars of Ivory. So, it cost me about $1.10 for my batch of detergent which I read that amount would be 52 cups of detergent, or 52 loads! That is over a month's worth of soap if I do a load per day! Talk about SAVINGS! 52 loads for about $1!!!!!!

I originally got my info from this website which does a break down of the cost and a washing test comparison! It is pretty interesting info.

I also got inspired by another friend's post about making laundry soap HERE.

Friday, July 17, 2009

3 Posts in One: A Word, School Transportation, and Recycling

Part One: A Word
The very next day after my plea for prayer and help, I got this word in our morning devotions. I felt it was a direct word on our situation..... And so... this is my hope for now. I especially love the wording of the verse: "Give thanks whatever happens." Not much else I can say except we will just wait and see and give thanks whatever happens...

And in case I didn't get went further....

And now for something completely different...Part Two: School Transportation

How did you get to school when you were a kid? Bus? Car? Walking?

How about sliding down on your backside and stomach? They totally crack me up every day!

They said it scratches their back and feels good... oh well, who long as they get there...

On to part three: Recycling. I posted a request a while back on a homeschool loop about wanting ideas for how to reuse old medicine/vitamin bottles. I have accumulated quite a few since we are very avid supplement takers! :)
They had various ideas such as storing craft supplies, pins, etc. They all sounded good but not useful for me because I don't accumulate things like that, I just have other containers or whatnot. ANYWAY...
We were doing our morning workout routine (that we now do regularly as a family and I counted down for educational time) and the kids desperately wanted to have hand weights to use.
Katie used two Barbies one day (not so great or useful) and canned foods were too bulky for them. Then it came to me:

These are small stones from some bags of decorative stones they got for Christmas one year. Yeah, they got stones for Christmas...and they LOVED them and played with them and cherished them... then they got put away in a bucket under the kitchen sink till further notice.
Turns out, combined with an old empty kids vitamin bottle, they made perfect, kid-sized hand weights!

Here they are doing some lifting for me so I can take a picture. I put about 5 stones in each one so they aren't really heavy, just enough to give some resistance when they exercise. They are loving it and I am loving having this down for school time because it is an even bigger motivator to not skip it! Katie is in such a better mood when we do our exercising and she enjoys it even more than Noah. He doesn't love doing it, but he does some of it.

Congratulations on being a part of my three posts in one day. Does that make me a little more green? ha!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Asking and Seeking

We are approaching this sign it seems and we won't have a chance to make a different choice once it is made.
Actually, life may make the choice for us,
so we will have to just have wisdom in what to do with it.

(For a couple of you reading this, it
isn't what you think it is.)
Please pray for us.

We need:
A Word.

Monday, July 13, 2009

1 Down, 179 To Go!

I promise this isn't what we did ALL morning, but I can't very well take a picture of myself with them! ha!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Addition!

This is the new view when you walk into our house! Notice anything different?!

Here is a little bit closer view.....

I haven't had daily access to a piano in 8 years! (since I got married)
I am SO thrilled!
We have this perfect little spot in the kitchen/dining area.
Hopefully it will be prove to be a safe spot, as it is partly over a return vent and I have read mixed reviews about seems that with it not being an "output" vent it should be okay.
We will keep a close eye and ear out for it.
This is a very special piano.
My mom's dad gave it to her when she was a little girl. He passed away when she was 13 years old. She learned on it, I learned on it, and now my kids will learn on it!
I am so thankful for Corey's brothers and our friend who helped them move it today. We have about 10 steps coming up our front porch but they got it moved pretty quickly and easily. We fed them some Zaxby's and homemade cherry walnut banana bread as thanks!

I have already been playing! It doens't seem to be too terribly out of tune really. Just a little in the upper notes. It is probably more out of tune than we can tell just from playing around a little, but I am so very excited to have it and I can't wait to get back in practice. I will also be using it to begin to teach Katie and Noah this year.

Now I have another kind of working out to add to my routine every day....
I will have to get back in shape if I plan to be a suitable teacher this year!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Getting Fit....Again.

I have worked out five days this week. I must admit I am very proud of myself! I am mostly using the same video that I have used in the past and I found that I still greatly enjoy this one. I am only doing about 2-3 sessions out of the 5, but hey, it's a start! And I am not even feeling the need to puke at the end! ha!

I am also using Netflix Instant Play to do some other workouts. We really enjoy this feature of Netflix. We can use our Xbox 360 to stream the instant play choices directly to our tv. This has been so handy for playing cartoons and movies for the kids and I just thought the other day to see if they had any choices for instant play workout videos.

This is what the instant queue looks like on the Xbox...this is not our actual queue though..just a photo I found.

Anyway, it turns out they did have some choices for instant play workouts. They aren't the best ones ever (HA!) but they do give a little variety and it is included with our subscription! Katie and Noah also enjoy doing the workouts with is quite amusing! They especially love Pilates (it is slow enough for them to keep up with!).

So..there ya go. I hope to continue doing so well with the working out. It really gives me a boost of energy for my day and everytime I get back to the routine I feel sad that it took me so long to get back on the bandwagon!

What about you? Do you subsribe to Netflix and use the instant play feature? Are you working out?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Coupon Tutor

Due to popular demand and several requests on facebook, I decided to create a post all about how I do my coupon shopping.
First of all, I buy two double bundles of the AJC every week. They sell these at random places and sometimes we have a hard time finding them if we wait too long on Sunday, but anyway, they sell two copies of the AJC bundled together for $2.50. We buy two so that is $5/week on papers.
Each week there are 1-3 coupon inserts. You can look at this blog post I found about how exactly I stack them and photos of the coupon inserts. She does her organizing differently than I do, but you might get an alternative idea you may like better! Here is how I organize my coupons:

It is a three ring binder with dividers and baseball card holder pages. I probably have about $20 total in the binder. BUT, it makes me actually use my coupons and stay on top of it. And with my monthly savings it has ABOVE AND BEYOND been compensated for. I have large dividers and sub-dividers. Yes, the first time I saw a binder like this I was completely amused and thought that the lady was a little over the top. BUT, I have since become that lady because who can argue getting $74 worth of groceries for $23?

I stack all my coupon flyers and cut them all at once the way the lady in that blog post stacks (though she doesn't cut). That way I don't have to cut that many times. Then I sort them and put them in the pockets. One pocket per coupon. Seems a little silly but when you start making your grocery list you will appreciate that you can just flip quickly to find that .75 cents off a box of cereal rather than going through your stack over and over and over to find them all. Same thing if you go in the grocery store to pick up something, you don't have to go through your entire coupon file to see if you have that coupon, you can just quickly flip to that section and see if you have something you can use. This is especially helpful if you don't have hours to spend at the grocery store or if you go with kids in tow!
I keep any coupon that I would use if it was free or almost free. You may think you are especially picky about deodorant or cereal or something like that, but if you could get it for FREE would you TRY it? Or donate it to charity?!
Here is the small coupon holder I take to the grocery store with me. It has fewer dividers. This is where I put the particular coupons I plan to use on this particular trip to the grocery store. This way I am not flipping through my coupon binder in the middle of the grocery store. BUT, I do still bring my binder with me just in case I find something that I didn't find online or just in case cause you never know! The little clear pocket in the front I use to put the coupons in when I actually put them in my cart when I see that I am really going to get them, so when I get to the front of the store I have them all ready and don't have to irritate people behind me in line by flipping and organizing, etc.

HERE is where I get all my info! This is a completely free website You create an account for free then you can login and see the weekly grocery ads and coupon lists.

This is the login page.
After you login there will be a section on the left (those blue bars) that says "Grocery Deals By State." Then you use the scroll down menu to find the Georgia choices: Kroger, Publix, and Winn Dixie. I must admit that Publix is where I get the most dramatic deals. I regularly get things for less than $1/each with their buy one get one free deals combined with coupons. Cereal, nuts, spaghetti sauce, etc. I love Publix and the key is to not buy ANYTHING there except the BOGO deals! ha ha!
After you select a store it will pop out in another window.

At the top right you can see the titles on the columns of the chart. It shows the coupon value (already doubled, so if it says $1 it could be $1 coupon or a .50 coupon that doubled), the number you have to buy, how much it is on sale for already at the grocery store, and the final price you will pay after the coupon. It also shows the % saved on that item from its original price.
I generally go down first and look at the percentages. If it is 50% or more I look to see what item it is and if it is something I would buy and use. Then, I write it down on my list and pull the coupon to put in my little black folder. I usually write down the item, the coupon amount, and how much it is supposed to be. It can happen that the particular store might not have the same deal or something and the info may be wrong, but that rarely happens. That is why I have that little section at the very front too, because sometimes I pull a coupon and end up not using it. Yeah, I have to refile it, but these savings are worth the effort!

Here is an example of something I recently bought. You will see "Newman's Own Salsa, BOGO" listed beside the date of 5-31 RP. That means it was in the Red Plum flyer on May 31st. This info is useful because there has been a rare occasion that I missed getting the paper and I know I probably don't have that coupon. OR this is useful for people who choose to do it the way the other poster I referenced do. They just file their coupons and cut the ones each week they want to take with them.
This is the right side of that item. The salsa had $1.00 coupon (actually it was a .50 doubled), was on sale at the BOGO price of $2 each, and the final price was $1 for a savings of 60%. I had two coupons for it so I bought two of them. This website also lists everything that the store has on sale, even if there are no coupons for it. So, when I am about to go shopping I can look on here also just to see what else I might need that is on sale like fresh meat or produce.

And that is how I do my coupon shopping! I am waiting for boneless skinless chicken to go on sale for $1.99/lb again soon because I have accumulated quite a few $1 off coupons for Tyson fresh chicken. When that happens I will buy as much as I can afford to spend and space to store so that I NEVER have to buy chicken for full price. I am still using chicken I bought last time it was on sale so I am not hurting but I do need to start stocking up.

One little known fact is that you can use TWO coupons for BOGO (Buy one get one free) items. Grocery stores almost always don't actually do it "buy one get one free" but they are individually priced for half price. Use a coupon for BOTH things and get an AWESOME price! Or, if you just have one coupon, just buy one and use your coupon!

I try to buy as many as I have coupons for just so I stock up and don't have to buy full price EVER!

When you first get started you still spend your regular amount or more because you are slowly stocking up and buying the "deals." After a while it gets to where you have enough coupons stockpiled that you MOSTLY buy things that are a great deal and only buy a few necessities each week.

I probably spend about 2-3 hours cutting coupons, pulling them each week, making my list, etc each week.

Last week I spent $102 and saved $189! That included my trips to the drug store to buy makeup and some other things that don't have to be bought often like razors, etc. This week on a regular trip to fill in some basic things and stock back up on produce I spent $103 and saved $50. Regardless of whether I am buying just the deals or stocking back up, I don't usually spend more than $100. MOST weeks we spend about $70. Not bad for a family of four table eaters (no babies) who most of the time eat 3 meals/day at home!
That is a huge improvement from spending about $140/week (more weeks we need "big" things) and running out of groceries about day 6 of the week. We are getting much more than we used to get for our money and I am absolutely not buying things we won't use or eat.

So there you go. That's how I do my coupon shopping. Hope you enjoyed and check out that website!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

School At Home

We are starting school Monday. I am so excited and refreshed and READY! Katie will be doing first grade and Noah will be doing Kindergarten. As I explained in an earlier post, yes it is the same "grade" they did last year, but the material is really a grade ahead by using Abeka. SO anyway..I spent all day today cleaning out our room and getting it all ready to begin Monday morning! Here is the view when you walk in....

Here is the area where my children will learn this year. From me, their mommy. The best teacher in the world! *smile* ha ha. Really though, who could know them better? This little carpet is going to be the launching point of all kinds of new discoveries...Noah learning to read, Katie improving her comprehension skills, both of them learning about God every single day and beginning their days with family prayer. I am just so excited I can't stand it!

Here is a view from the other corner of the room. I should have closed the door to get a better picture. I brought back a little wooden table this year, just for fun. Not really their work space, but more of a play spot. I also removed some of the bigger things like the HUGE white art cabinet/table and the kitchen playset and created a play area in the room right outside this one. I didn't take pictures, it is just a basement room with toys! ha ha!

Here is my most favorite spot in our classroom...the books! I love putting out new books based around the theme or season. Also, on the top of the bookshelf is my framed degree in Education from Shorter College. I am proud to have such a prominent spot to place it!

So, the countdown is on! 4 more days!
They are so excited also...Noah asked all day if we were going to have school today.
I think that is a great sign!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Eight Years

Today my wonderful crazy husband and I are celebrating eight years of marriage!
Happy Anniversary Corey!

It is so fun to be your wife, and I look forward to many more anniversaries together!

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Tree Like This One...

Have you ever sat under and looked up at tree like this one before? As I was doing that today I was thinking about many other very similar trees and similar weather days yet very different circumstances surrounding the occasion. Many different ages, stages, places, settings. I don't know, it just made me think and remember and it made me so thankful for the occasion that brought me under this tree on this very day of July 3rd, 2009.

Not too many years ago this week I was hastily putting together a wedding! If you have read the story on my blog before you know that Corey and I moved our wedding up and decided the weekend before July 7th that we were going to go ahead and get married! So, this week is a sentimental one for me even if not already because of the holiday. (Today is also the 90 day milestone in our Disney trip countdown, so you can click here to read more about that!)

This week, 8 years later, we are enjoying a sunny afternoon at the park with our two beautiful and sweet children! Here is Katie with her umbrella "to keep the sun away."

Our two kids, tree-hugging!

Goofing around...doing "absodutely nothing" (Katie's words)
That's Corey sitting under the tree.


Tonight, getting a ride on Daddy's back to their bedrooms for bedtime. Doesn't everyone have a picture like this? They have done this so many times, but I finally got a picture tonight. That's 111 pounds of cuteness on his back! (yeah, it only happens about once every couple of weeks! ha!)

Sweet day and priceless moments!