Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This weeks Growth Scan!

Yesterday was our monthly growth scan and we got some good news.

Emma: 2lbs 15oz ....She had the hiccups the entire time and we could actually see her hair moving in the fluid :)

Lacy: 2lbs 11oz...she was curled up in a tight little ball and kicked every time they tried to mess with her....guess she is like her mama don't mess with her while she is sleeping lol!

Lacy is still in the similar range with her sister which is very good. Because of her cord placement there is some worry that we could develop TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome)...basically one baby gets all the blood flow leaving the other twin to suffer. Since Lacy is holding her own though and keeping the difference to 4 oz each time she seems to be 100% healthy and doing well. They will continue to watch them with another growth scan in 4 weeks and bi-weekly ultrasounds to check the fluid levels (one of the first signs of a problem is if one baby develops more fluid than the other).

Here is the 29 week belly pic....

Twins Preperation

So we are trying to get everything prepared for the twins arrival in a few weeks and thought I would update you all on the preparations. We have almost everything we need for the twins arrival although we are still missing a few of the large items. The second crib, the second mattress, and the stroller are all still needed and I hope to be able to get them in December so we can have everything set up for the twins arrival in early January. We will also be moving in 2 weeks to a new larger house so we should be able to get it all set up before these little ones arrive.

Here are the swings we got off of Craigslist for a whopping $50 each (retail $150-200).This is the bedding Grandma got for the twins :) I will get a picture of the actual nursery up as soon as we get it all set up. We also got sage letters with ivory ribbons to spell out their names above there cribs :)And a picture of the new car seats we got for the new little ones...I couldn't resist getting matching ones in pink!

Last Thursday was my Mom's of Multiples meeting where we had a clothing swap. I was able to get a HUGE bag of baby clothes for FREE! Everything from preemie to 6-9 mths and the best part was that since it was from other twin mommies everything I got matched...they are adorable! I know I said I wasn't going to be one of "those" moms that would only dress there little ones in matching outfits and I won't do it all the time but they were such cute little outfits that I couldn't help myself!

Projects, Projects and more Projects

I am feeling very accomplished right now :) I have actually managed to get quite a few projects accomplished in the last few days, some Christmas related some just projects I have been neglecting.

Number one I am 90% done with all the homemade Christmas gifts I am making for our extended family. I would post pics and tell you all about them but then it would ruin the surprise for my family who read my blog....I do promise though after Christmas I will tell you all about what I made and a breakdown of how much it all cost (cause what is the point of a homemade Christmas if it breaks the bank in the process!?)

All our Christmas cards are addressed and the snowmen picture frames are all put together I will get some pics of them up once I get the energy to actually get up and find my camera ;P

Plus I am totally caught up on our scrapbooks! That is a major one for me since I still hadn't put in the pics from LAST CHRISTMAS! lol! I knew if I didn't get them done before the babies came it just wouldn't get done so I am very happy that I got them all caught up :)

I still need to finish the Christmas gifts for the men in my family and then get everything packed and shipped and then I should be caught up on all the projects that needed to be done before the babies come! It is getting close people!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meal Planning.....

So I admit I am usually a pretty organized person but since having children some things have just fallen by the wayside. A year ago when we started this journey I was shocked to see that we were spending $1,100 a month on groceries for just the 4 of us! Oh my! We have since been able to get it down to $500 and it has pretty much stuck there ever since. One of the things that has helped me a great deal with lowering our grocery budget was to meal plan for the month. Now that sounds easy enough but when you have tons of cookbooks and a recipe box FULL of recipes it is a little overwhelming...I mean where do you start? We always ended up having the same old thing week after week and let me tell you it was getting really old! I just didn't have the time to sit down and pull out all those recipes and search for something to make...who does?? So I came up with the binder idea.

I spent one whole afternoon going through every cookbook I had, all my recipe cards, and all those pages from magazines that we all tear out with the intention of cooking whatever it is but never do. Then I copied all the recipes out of the cookbooks, organized all the recipes based on type (Baking, main meal, side dish, condiments, etc.) and put them into page protectors and used dividers to separate them. Then I went through all the main meals and wrote them all out in pencil on a piece of plain paper, then slid that into the front of the binder. There you go a master list of everything your family loves all in one place and easy to find! When it is time to make up the meal plan for the week I just look at the cover of my binder and pick what I want to make and the recipes are right there at my finger tips. Plus is a meal turns out to not be as good as we thought it would (mainly magazine recipes) they are easy to remove and simply erase from the list.

By going through everything I have found recipes he loved that I haven't made since we were newlyweds! DH and I are both much happier with this arrangement! :)

New pregnancy Pics


Here are the much nagged for new pics ;P

This is my belly shot at 24 weeks.....yes I know I am really starting to pop!

Here we have Baby B's (Lacy) face. She is looking directly into the "camera"

Here is Baby A's (Emma) face...again she is looking directly into the "camera".

And this is the funniest one. That is Lacy curled up into a tight little ball. You see that blob on top of her head and arm? That would be Emma's butt. Poor little thing her sister is already making her defend herself! lol :)

Emma: 1lb 10oz
Lacy: 1lb 6oz

Garden update

I really have been busy with tons of projects I just haven't had the time or the energy leftover afterwards to get pics loaded here....but today I seem to be at loose ends with nothing to do so here I am :)

The garden is doing well I guess...it is hard since everything has to be in pots thanks to the African Snail attacks. I don't know why they will not bother anything on the patio but if I put it in the ground they attack like you wouldn't believe!

Lets see...

These are my tomato seedlings...yeah they are small but hey they are growing! lol :) There are 5 that sprouted and I am sure that will be plenty of tomatoes for us so I am happy with that. The half of the egg carton to the front of the pics is the bell pepper seeds I planted....what you don't see anything?? Well that would be because they never came up, still got to try that one again and figure out what I did wrong on that one.

And over we have our watermelon plants...the three pots to the left on the ground are the watermelons. They look pretty pathetic in this pic but they are actually growing really well. They have already bloomed so it will be interesting to see if I can keep them alive long enough to get some watermelons from them. Now just in my defence I didn't mean to start so many watermelon plants...I mean you saw what happened with the bell peppers! But they all came up and then they all thrived so I couldn't kill them! Looks like I am going to have watermelon coming out of my ears if all those blooms turn in to actual melons! Over on the right you see our Basil and flat leaf parsley. They are both doing great and growing like crazy :) Oh and that little pot on the shelf is Thyme...it is doing pretty pathetically but then I don't really use much thyme so I am not worried about it.

And lastly here is my Cilantro. It was doing really well then I tried it in full sun.....yeah it REALLY didn't like that! Back in the full shade and it is growing really well again.
OK that is a tour of my entire patio garden. Other than the bell peppers everything is growing well and doing what I want at the present moment.
Would like to get some onions in there as well but as you can see from the pics it is pretty full out there at the moment and I have no idea where I would put them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dinner Prices

So for a long time I have been reading blogs about frugal cooking and how to stretch a buck when it comes to dinner. I have often wondered how much these frugal dinners REALLY cost and how much of a savings you get from applying their principles. So being the ever "quirky" person that I am I sat down with my grocery receipts tonight and worked out exactly how much tonight's dinner cost.....

Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Romaine Salad:
$5.76 Whole Chicken
$1.02 Potatoes
$0.37 Butter
$0 Romaine (WIC)
$0 Condensed milk (WIC)

Total: $7.15

Not bad for a family of 4 :)

Now as you know one of the basic principles of frugal cooking is to stack recipes so that you use the leftovers from one meal in a totally different meal the next night. Using the leftovers from tonight's dinner I will be making a casserole for tomorrow nights dinner....

Chicken and Rice Casserole with potato cakes:
$0.84 Frozen Veggies
$1.39 Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
$0.50 Rice
$0.94 Cheddar Cheese
$0 Chicken (leftovers)
$0 Potatoes (leftovers)

Total: $3.67

Again REALLY not bad for a family of 4 especially since this meal will also serve as lunch for the next day.

Plus I have the bones and skin from the chicken cooking in the crockpot right now to make chicken stock....so I am also getting 4+ cups of chicken stock for "free".

Thanks to the Happy Housewife for both these recipes and teaching me how to cook a whole chicken in my crockpot. It was yummy and I will defiantly be doing it again!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Today is pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day. I know I will be lighting my 3 candles tonight.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Disposables, AIO's, or Pre-folds? What is cheaper???

I had always used disposables without thought to cloth diapering. I think the yuck factor and just plain uneducation on that matter worked against me on this topic. But when my youngest was about 12mths I discovered the world of AIO's (all in ones) and pocket diapers and I was sold! I love my AIO's and set out this time to cloth diaper the twins. Being the ever frugal person I am though I couldn't in good faith buy a bunch of AIO's without first doing the price comparison for all the different options out there.

So you lovely people are now going to be privy to my research :)

*Price breakdown for first 3 mths (changing the babies every 2 hours when fed)
DISPOSABLES: $254.40 (cheapest diaper brand made)
AIO's: $480 (birth to potty training)
PREFOLDS: $167.40 (diaper covers and Indian prefolds)

*Price breakdown for 3-6mths (changing babies every 4 hours when fed)
AIO's: $0
PREFOLDS: $47.70

*Price breakdown for 6-9mths (changing babies every 4 hours when fed)
AIO's: $0
PREFOLDS: $137.4

*Price breakdown for 9-12mths (changing babies every 4 hours when fed)
AIO's: $0

At 12 mths I could use the AIO's I already have so we shall stop the comparison here.

AIO's: $480.
PREFOLDS: $352.50

So you can see that disposables are almost double the amount of the AIO's while prefolds are the cheapest option. We shall be buying the prefolds this time around and learning all over again the quirks of cloth diapering :) For these comparisons I used www.cottonbabies.com for the prefold information and the local commissary for the disposable prices. For more info on the debate between cloth diapers and disposables please check out this site.

***Disclaimer: These numbers are based on diapering twins, and based on disposable pricing in my area. Prices will differ based on where you live so you will need to do your own comparison to see what works best for YOUR family***

Having twins on a budget...

Sounds like an oxymoron right? How can a person buy 2 of everything and not spend a complete fortune? Even more difficult in our situation since we got rid of everything under 9mths when we moved this last time. But it is possible and we are managing to do it so far.

First off I am playing a game with myself to see how much "stuff" I can get used. So far I have not bought anything new for the twins and am very proud of myself. Thanks to craigslist.com I have gotten 2 like new swings for $50 each (retail $200 each!) and three trash bags full of 0-3mth clothes :)

For a grand total of: $220 for everything so far.

Could I have done better well sure but concidering what I could have spent I think that is a pretty decent number considering we now have almost everything we need for the twins for the first 3mths.

We are missing some big ticket items:
*2 infant car seats ($120 for both). We could do without these and just use the convertible car seats we already have but I am going for convenience over thrift on this one. These will be bought new since you should never buy a used car seat unless you know the seller since you can not be sure it wasn't in an accident.
*Double Stroller ($98). Again we could use the double umbrella stroller we already have but I am going for one that the car seats will snap into for convenience. Also will probably be bought used unless I get lucky and stubble over one in the next few months.
*Cloth diapers. ($????) Not sure of the price on these since I am still doing some price comparisons on AIO's and pre-folds...another post to follow on this topic.
* 2 Bouncy seats ($30 for both) I have seen several of these listed on craigslist for $15 each. When I have the time to deal with arranging meetings and pick-ups I will be getting these used.

And that is it folks not to bad of a list! We will of course need to get clothes from 3-9 mths but I am not to worried about that at this time. I will continue to look on craigslist and see what comes available. It is so cool that you can get a whole trash bag FULL of like new clothes for $15! A frugal Mommy's dream come true!

20 week baby pics :)

As you can see things are moving right along over here! Lot of pics from my last big ultrasound :) Baby A was 14 oz and Baby B was 13 oz. Both are growing like little weeds and getting VERY active in there! This ultrasound confirmed that they are indeed identical girls, daddy is still dealing with being the only man in the house with 5 women.

Here is Baby A in profile....so cute!

And Baby B....again SO CUTE!

And then one of my favorite shots....4 little feet :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pregnancy Update

As you can see I had my first appointment in the twins clinic this morning and we got to have our first in depth ultrasound! Below is baby A waving at you :) and over on the left is baby B's butt! Lol, hopefully at my 20 week ultrasound they will give me some pictures of BOTH babies :) The Dr could only find one placenta so they are IDENTICAL and one baby was kind enough to let us see her "hoohaa" and they are GIRLS! I am over the moon right now! I was REALLY hoping for 2 little girls and I got my wish. Hubby and mother-in-law are not so thrilled but happy none the less, they were both hoping for boys. Both twins are the same size with the same amount of amniotic fluid (really important when dealing with identical twins) and are both healthy :) They are a little concerned about my blood pressure being high so I have to record it at home for a week and then go back in on Wednesday for a follow up appointment. Other than that we are as healthy as can be and the little ones are growing well! And here is my 16 week belly pic.....

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hubby got a new job!

For those of you who know my family I thought I would pass on the news that my Hubby got a new job in the Air Force, he is now the Commanders Assistant. He is still a Com/Nav specialist and will continue to be one in the future this is just a temporary position until our next PCS. I love it because he is at a desk all day now and very easy to find if I need him (very important when you are pregnant with twins and terrified of pre-term labor) he loves it because it is a change from the same thing he has been doing day after day for 5 years. Just thought I would share :)

What to do with all those bulk items?

I wondered this very thing when I was wandering down the huge isles at the bulk store. Where would I put all those tomatoes? How in the world was I going to find room for that huge container of ziploc bags? After all we live in military housing and the room available for storage is very limited especially in the kitchen. At the time I told myself well it is to good of a deal to pass on I will figure it out when I get home. Yeah, that can of 100oz of tomatoes doesn't get any smaller once you get it home! Now we use a lot of tomatoes but there was no way I could use this much tomato product in the 5 days it would take it to go bad once opened. My solution? To freeze it of course....but how?

I needed an option that wasn't going to use all my Tupperware and that wasn't going to take up my whole freezer. Plus I had all those Ziploc bags just sitting there....OK you know where I am going with this. I put one cup of tomato's in a sandwich bag and then layer the sandwich bags into a freezer bag lay flat in the freezer for 24hours till set and then "file" them standing up in the back of my freezer. Takes up very little space, the sandwich bags were really cheap and I can reuse the more expensive freezer bag as many times as I need to.

All well and good but what about all of those Ziploc bags, the 25lbs of flour, the huge container of animal crackers....the list goes on and on. There really wasn't any room in my pantry for all of these items but I needed them close to the kitchen for the ease of cooking or refilling containers. My solution was to buy a freestanding garage shelving unit and install it in my laundry room in an unused nook that was intended for a free standing freezer....Great vertical usage of space and since it is free standing I can take it with us every time we move with little drama.

Starting a Price Book

I have been toying with the idea of starting a price book over the last few days. Although it wasn't till a friend commented on my last entry about how hard it was to know what the prices of items where at 2 different stores that I really started thinking about how to put one together. A price book for those who don't haunt the frugal websites like I do is a book in which the normal prices of an item as well as the units are listed for all suppliers.

Take that can of green beans for example say it is normally $0.50 a can and I have this listed in my little book, then one day I see it has gone down to $0.40 but I don't buy because I know from my little book that the prices always go down even further at Thanksgiving and sure enough I am able to buy that can for $0.20! Now that is quite a savings that I wouldn't have gotten if I didn't have a price comparison book,

The same philosophy holds true for comparing competing stores prices, although it gets trickier when dealing with very different sizes of containers. Say I know that a can of diced tomatoes is $0.99 for 14.5oz at one store but $2.78 for 102oz at another store. Now just doing the rough math on this one it is clear where the better deal lays but what about those items that are right on the line? Say a 5lb bag of flour for $1.99 or the 25lb bag for $8.73. That one is a little harder to do in your head. Although if I had the normal prices of each type of flour recorded in my little book there could also be a cutoff column. A column that shows when the price of the 25lb bag is too high versus the 5lb bag. Say that 25lb bag of flour went up to $9.99 and the 5lb bag stayed the same? Well then I would know that it is not a good deal and time to walk away from that particular bulk purchase.

All of this gets very confusing and I am in no way saying it is fool proof, there are times when you know you are going to goof and spend a little more because you though you had a good deal. Luckily though I am talking goofs in the $0.72 range like the lemonade from the last post and not $5.00 goofs like I would have if I tried to buy my produce or dairy at a bulk store. Those things I have done some comparison shopping on in the past and know that the commissary is always cheaper on those items. The commissary in my opinion is almost always cheaper except in the situation of the HUGE containers of items that would normally have to be pared down into the smaller containers. In this case you are saving money only because the company selling them has to spend a lot less to package and handle the large containers over the smaller ones. It is only these products that I will even consider buying at a large box store such as Sam's.

Another example on the commissary versus Sam's.....The other day while at Sam's I took a look at their laundry soap. Amazingly it was the exact same size and brand that I buy on base except it was marked $20. while I am able to buy it on base for $11. Now that is why you have to know the base prices at each store!

Another great resource if shopping on base is www.militarylife.com once you register for the site you can see ALL the sales current sales at your local commissary without ever leaving your house! So if you know the base price of an item at the bulk store and the base price at the commissary but see that the commissary price is cheaper that week (again before you leave for your shopping trip) you can compare and see if the bulk purchase is still cheaper! Very cool! There is also a option for the commissary specials that are only on sale for a certain time frame, such as the buy 5 for $5 and such, again another great resource.

All of this takes a great deal of patience to work through and even more to keep it going. After all wouldn't it just be so much easier just to go to one store and get everything you need and say that was the best price you were able to get? Well yeah that is easier and I have been doing that for years, the problem is that my grocery bill was getting out of control. I am talking $1,000 a month! That is outrageous! Now with checking the prices and doing one bulk shopping trip a month I am down to $500 a month. That is a huge savings but I still think I could be doing better after all I hear many a tail of a family of 14 living off of $400 a month! Now I may not be THAT frugal or be that inventive when it comes to the shopping trips but I certainly think that if they can do it for 14 I should be able to spend the same amount with 4 people! Especially important since we have twins on the way and money is getting ready to become even tighter, better to tighten my belt now and put the extra money into savings than have to figure all this out with 2 newborns and no money!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sam's Club vs Commisary...where is the biggest savings?

I have read countless books and websites about how to cut your grocery budget and in many of these books they say that box stores like Sam's Club are a good buy for some things but to watch out because at times the price per unit is cheaper at a regular grocery store. Being the ever "quirky" wife that I am (Hubby's words not mine) I decided to actually sit down and do a unit per unit comparison on the things I normally buy at Sam's versus the prices at the Commissary. Now when I am walking down the isles at Sam's I do a rough comparison in my head at the prices and "knew"I was getting a good deal on these items but having never done the actual math I was a little nervous at seeing the actual numbers.

Today's trip to Sam's I bought:

102oz of Whole tomatoes
111oz of Canned Kidney beans
34qt of powdered Lemonade
192oz of Apple Juice
102.5oz of diced tomatoes
12lbs of Baking Soda
25lb of Bread Flour

Not everything I bought but those are the things on the list that I chose to do a comparison on. So after my trip to Sam's I went to the commissary to continue my shopping as I usually do but this time I wrote down the units and the cost of these items if bought there. Then using simple math I was able to calculate the savings/loss per item at Sam's Club.

Whole Tomatoes: $3.68 Saved
Canned Kidney Beans: $1.97 Saved
Powdered Lemonade: $0.72 LOST
Apple Juice: $0.83 Saved
Diced Tomatoes: $4.21 Saved
Baking Soda: $1.70 Saved
Bread Flour: $1.22 Saved

Now as you can see the cost per unit of the tomato products was a HUGE savings while some things like the apple juice were only so-so....and then there was the lemonade that was actually a loss. The lemonade actually surprised me quite a bit I really thought I was getting a deal there, just goes to show you that you really do have to read the units based on the prices. All in all this trip to Sam's saved me $12.89. Will I be shopping there again in the future you bet your bottom I will especially for the tomato products, though I think I will leave the lemonade to the lovely people over at the commissary!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How resourceful are you?

We all like to think that we are resourceful but it isn't always that way our lives turn out. For many of us in this "disposable society" it is just simpler to throw something away than to try and fix it or to reuse it in some way.

Take for example the dresser that was bought for our oldest daughter when she was a baby. Way back then we were poor....I am talking can't afford to buy groceries and pay the bills in the same month type of poor. But here we were expecting a baby what were we to do? Run to momma of course what would you do! My mother was generous enough to buy my little one an entire bedroom set, but even for her money was an impediment and we got the cheapest set the store carried. Little did we know the dresser and the crib would be in use for so many years to come :) Now almost 6 years later that dresser is still in use.....it is falling apart but it is still in use. It is made of MDF, pressed wood chips formed to make a "wood" sheet, and after lots of use you can imagine it is in a pretty bad state. We do have a wonderful (and expensive) dresser that we bought for our oldest when she moved up to a big girl bedroom set but when we moved the two girls in together there just wasn't room for it in the room so we reverted back to the "baby" dresser until they got a bigger room. We will be moving in a few months and the nice dresser will be moved back into their room and the baby dresser will again be a dresser for baby clothes, at least for a few more years. Now every 6 mths I go into the room armed with a hammer, screwdriver, and wood glue and I put the dresser back together again. And every 6 mths I think to myself why oh why don't I just go out and buy a new dresser? Why? Because I am resourceful enough to know that I can keep that dresser together for another few years and the only thing it will cost me is a wrenched back (every time never fail... you would think I would learn!). I could go out and buy another dresser but why? Because it will look better? Because it will cost me only money and not my time? I would like to think that I am teaching my daughters a lesson with that dresser, just because you can buy something new doesn't mean that it is necessarily the best option.

My next example is my bathroom floor....it is missing a rug. I *could* just go out and buy a new one but where is the resourcefulness in that? Instead it has been a year and a half and my floor is still bare. Not because I am lazy and don't want to spend the money or the time needed to fix the problem but because I am collecting old shirts and sheets to make a new rag rug for the floor. I know that it would be simpler and SO much faster to just buy one but where is the fun in that? Once the rug is finally completed and I place it on the floor there will be a sense of accomplishment that couldn't be felt with a store bought rug. Every time I see that rug I will know it may have taken me years to complete it but that I did in the end get it finished and there will be pride and love attached to that rug.

Some times the easy and the simple way is not always the best way. Sometimes it takes some time and some patience but in the end you do get a finished product that you can be proud of.

*Oh and if anyone has any old shirts they are going to throw away feel free to send them to me I need all the help I can get ;P

Friday, July 31, 2009

Giving the garden another try

I honestly don't know why I keep doing this to myself but I am on trial #3 with the garden. This time I have planted just tomatoes and green beans but the seeds were leftover from trial #1 so I won't be holding my breath! I just had all these seeds leftover so I thought what the heck I might as well plant them as throw them away....so we shall see! Like I said not to optimistic but at least that was the end of the veggie seeds so maybe if I try for a trial #4 at the new house I can start with some fresh seeds and maybe some different varieties. I will post some pics if anything makes it to start growing.....

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Been MIA

Sorry to my whole 2 readers that I have been MIA for the last 2 months. I have been feeling like poo and looking at the computer screen has a way of making me feel even worse. Good news though is that it has paid off and we are officially in the second trimester with twins :)

I am feeling MUCH better and have finally started to get back in the swing of things around here and am actually cooking again for the first time in 2 months. I hope to be back on here with some new posts about our frugal lifestyle soon, especially since I had to quit working due to this pregnancy.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Left Over" Pizza

No I am not blogging about old pizza in my fridge but rather my latest recipe. I don't know about you all but I always have leftover veggies in my fridge at the end of the week and I have no idea what I bought them for. A couple of months ago I was just so sick of trying to find ways to use these veggies when it suddenly hit me....PIZZA! You can put ANYTHING on a pizza and everyone will eat it! This weeks pizza has bell pepper, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, homemade sauce out of the freezer, leftover lunch meat, green onions, and tons of olives on my side. The crust is super simple, 3c. flour 1c. hot water, and 3/4tsp yeast....that's it! This huge pizza managed to survive for a whole 12 hrs before it was polished off, can't say the same thing if I had steamed up the veggies and served them with something else. Plus I got an entire meal out of things in my fridge that otherwise would have gone to waste.

Grocery Challenge Update!

As you may remember I have taken on the challenge of only shopping once every two weeks in the hopes of cutting back our grocery bill. I was sceptical at first because it sounded like a lot of work and I couldn't for the life of me see how it was going to save any money. I mean you are still eating 3-4 times a day and making the same things that you would have to begin with so how could this save anything? Well today was shopping day for my second 2 weeks on the program and I have to say that I am loving it! This last weekend it was SO nice not to have to worry about what to make the next week (I made up a calender of the entire months meals when I started) and to not have to brave the grocery store. So how did I do on the money front??

Weeks 1-2 Grocery Store: $170
Weeks 1-4 Sam's Club Bulk Shopping: $180
Weeks 3-4 Grocery Store: $190
Random odds and ends needed throughout: $50
TOTAL: $590 for one month

Usual total for one month shopping every week: $680

That makes a savings of.....$90! OK now that is nothing to sneeze at! This was my first month on the program and the trip to Sam's club is a every couple of months trip. I got things such as a 25lb bag of flour (will last about 3 mths), bulk trash bags (again about 3 mths), bulk Ziploc bags, HUGE container of animal crackers, bulk pop tarts, etc.

Next month our goal will be for a total spend of $400 giving us a savings of $280 a mth.....OK so I am officially on board with this program. Anyone game to try with me????

Family Game Night

We have recently implemented a no TV/computer/video game rule in our house. Not all the time cause come on I do need some cartoon timeouts to keep my sanity but we were getting WAY to obsessed with all the electronic "stuff" in our life. So we recently started having a set family time after dinner where there is nothing electronic allowed (well except for the radio). The girls mainly run around acting out different story lines such as Little Red Riding Hood or first day of school while Bry and I watch and clap. Then once the kiddos are in bed we brake out the Scrabble board and he does a great job of kicking my butt. I have won once or twice but for the most part I get my butt handed to me.

I really enjoy this time with my family without the outside influences of TV and games. I in theory would like to cut out the TV totally but I don't really see that happening over here. My goal for this month is to turn off the TV at lunch time and not turn it on again the rest of the day....a tall order when you have little ones. It is just so much easier when they are bored to pull out a DVD instead of finding a project for them to do or taking them to the playground when it is in the 90's. But I see my weakness and I am trying to address it. So what about you all? What fun things do you do as a family that doesn't include electronics?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Quote of the Month

Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered, but a maze of passages, through which we must seek our way, lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley.
But always, if we have faith, a door will open for us, not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but one that will ultimately prove good for us.
—A.J. Cronin

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Garden Update

Well I decided to plant a new garden again and try REALLY hard this time to water it! So far so good I actually have stuff sprouting! WOO HOO! I planted Spinach, Bell Peppers, Jalapenos, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Thyme, Parsley, Oregano, Chives, and Cilantro. I went out this morning to water everything and found that my spinach is actually sprouting already :) It helps that it has been overcast or raining here for the last week so I couldn't screw up to badly... we shall see how it goes over the next few weeks!

Baking Day

I try and set aside one day each week for my baking and since I didn't have to work today I figured I had best get it all over with today while I had the time. I made a few of the usual things like Banana Muffins for the girls and Bacon Biscuits for hubby. I wanted to make some bread for dinner tonight but I have some how worked my way through a 50lb bag of flour without realizing I was running out! Looks like I have a trip to Sam's club in my near future!

Way back as a newlywed I made these biscuits for Hubby and he has been asking for them ever since. I make them about once a month and it is a huge deal for him. They are a basic yeast roll with bacon, onions, thyme, and olives mixed in. They are super easy to make but they take so long that I hardly ever have the time to devote to them...in total 40min from start to oven! Lol that is probably partly because every time I make them I have a 5yr old "helper" I don't know why but she only wants to help in the kitchen when I am baking....maybe an inner pastry chef coming out in her? I can only hope :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spring Cleaning

OK ladies and gentlemen I am about to share my dirty little secret with you all....I have the messiest closets on the planet. I am terrible about throwing it in and thinking I will deal with this later, then it all piles up and I can't bring myself to start working on any of it. Well today I decided I had had enough and I was going to get it cleaned up.

Here is a picture of my laundry room storage area. This is where all bulk items are stored as well as my bread maker, mop, broom, and vacuum cleaner....you can see it is quite a state!
And here is the finished product....yes I know it doesn't look that different but it makes everything so much easier to find.

Now on to the REALLY messy part of my house...the garage storage area. This is where EVERYTHING goes. From holiday decorations, garden stuff, the kids outdoor play stuff, you get the idea. (yes I am horrified by this picture)

After 2 hours of cleaning and lots of "help" from the kiddos here is the after pic....

MUCH BETTER! I showed it to hubby and he said it was very nice "but lets see how long it stays this way" now he is not trying to be mean he just knows me! Lol, I am really going to try here folks to keep it this way. All the random holiday and baby stuff got taken upstairs to join the rest of the holiday and baby stuff I still have to work on that closet and I may put up a picture of that one as well once I get it finished.

Kitchen update

Well I finally worked up the nerve and decided to do my 2 weeks of grocery shopping this last weekend. I normally spend about $150 a week on groceries for a family of 4 plus daycare kiddos, so I was expecting to spend about $300 when shopping for 2 weeks at a time. I looked over my menu for the next two weeks and reviewed my inventory and then wrote out my shopping list for the week. It was a REALLY long list and my cart was REALLY full but once I rang it all up I almost fell over....drum roll please.....grand total of $180! Are you kidding me!?

Now I understand what everyone is talking about when they say you save a fortune by shopping once a month. Now I am not quite up to THAT level yet and I am smart enough to know that I am going to have to pick up an item or two over the next few weeks but I know that even with the odd item here and there it will be way less that $300. We shall see how it goes and I will give you all an update at the end of the two weeks when we have the final totals.

Part of this savings came from not using as much processed foods. This is taking some getting used to! My first issue is with using dried beans instead of canned. When you look at the price comparison it is SO much cheaper to buy the dried beans as well as being healthier (have you looked at the sodium content in a can of beans?!) but all the work to cook them before use is a pain in the rear! I have been working on dinner for over 3hrs now because I have to soak/cook the black beans before I can start the soup they go in. Now it is not like it is hard or anything but anyone who knows me knows that I forget everything that isn't right in front of me, so to remember 3hrs before dinner to start the beans is a real pain. I am going to start looking into soak/cooking the beans in a crock pot in the future. This is also an issue with making my own bread, I love doing it and it saves a fortune but remembering to make it with enough time for it to rise is another issue I am having. I have tried making bread for sandwiches in the past and it really doesn't work that well for us, no one uses it and it ends up getting thrown away. I decided to buy the sandwich bread and make the bread sticks/french bread/pizza crusts from scratch and that has been working really well for us.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Adventures in Hawaii

It has been a while since I added any pics to my blog and I thought you all might be interested in some of the stuff we have been up to over here. During the last week my parents were visiting and we had a ton of fun!

Here we are at the Paradise Cove luau. They had these lovely drinks called Lava Flows....yeah they were REALLY good!

We also went and spent some time at the Sea Life Park and Bry was able to get close enough to get this picture of one of the dolphins. They put on an incredible show everyone should go see this if they are ever in Hawaii!

Here we have daddy and Sara Beth checking out the penguins....

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Who knew there was a name for my style of home management? Just by luck I stumbled upon a homesteading website and was shocked to see that it described my life!

"Currently the term 'homesteading applies to anyone who is a limb of the back-to-the-land movement and who chooses to live a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle. While land is no longer freely available in most areas of the world, homesteading remains as a way of life. A new movement, called 'urban homesteading', can be viewed as a simple living lifestyle, incorporating small-scale agriculture, sustainable and permaculture gardening, and home food production and storage into suburban or city living."

I also found that many of the people who practice homesteading also use fertility acceptance and home school their kiddos. While I would love to home school I am wise enough to know that it isn't going to work for my children. As I am typing this Hailey is standing beside me asking "Is it time to go to school yet.." it is all she can talk about these days it is going to be a very long summer before she can start kindergarten! As for the fertility acceptance we are currently practicing this lifestyle and are trusting that God will provide not only the children but the ability to provide for them. This is a HUGE step of faith and while I have my moments of doubt I do truly believe that He will provide.

All this reading about people who have successful gardens has made me want to start working on my garden again! LOL! I do have several seed packs still out in the garage so I am thinking about planting them and trying again....not like I don't have the beds out there just waiting!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finally Taking on the Kitchen

I am a major procrastinator when it comes to my kitchen. Don't get me wrong I love to cook, but I am one of those people who will just go out and buy another jar of seasoning instead of searching my cupboards to see if I already have some. As you can guess I have cupboards that are way to full and tons of extras in there. Over the last few months we have been trying to "live off our pantry" so that we use some stuff up and save some money. This has been a really great thing for us and there were some weeks when I only spent $80 to feed all of us! Even though this has been going so well there was still one area of my kitchen that I was to scared to look at....the spice cabinet! AH! Well I finally went through it ALL the last few days and I worked up a written inventory of what I have.....OK no one needs 3 jars of coriander!!!!

So now that I have a written inventory of my pantry I need to do something with it right? Well I have been haunting the large family websites for ideas on how to feed a large family on a budget (yes I know I don't have a large family but if they can do it with 12 kids I can do it with 2!) and I have come up with some really good ideas. Not only do they have tons of recipes on there that are easy and nutritious they also have meal planning ideas and shopping tips. One of the ideas I have heard for a while now is to only shop once a month....yeah this is a little out there for me....I mean once a month???I am taking baby steps here people and I have worked up a menu for a month but only plan to shop every two weeks for a while to get the hang of it all.

Being that I have TONS of certain spices I took my inventory sheet out and then came up with recipes that will use them, as well as setting certain nights every week to the same dish (i.e. Mondays are spaghetti night). This in theory should save quite a bit of money since I can buy certain items in bulk and then actually use them (novel concept over here). Plus all the meals that I chose are simple to make with only a few ingredients.....no more buying 12 items for one dish! It will be interesting to see how this project works out. I know that at first I am either going to have way to much or way to little of certain items (milk, bread, etc) until I am able to gage the correct amounts per week so I know that I will be going to the store more than once every two weeks for a while but it shouldn't be that hard to figure out right? I will let you know.....

On another cooking related front by garden was a no go....I managed to get one cucumber plant to grow, one tomato plant, and 3 onions. My bell peppers are scrawny and not producing and my zucchini got ate by snails. I did manage to get some basil and flat leaf parsley to grow by bringing them into the kitchen where I can remember to water them. OK so world famous gardener I am not...but hey I tried! Not sure if I will try again....was a lot of money and work for nothing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting Back on the Wagon!

OK so I have taken some major hits over the last few months and I am trying to get back my sanity and my life. Today is day one back on my diet and I am determined that this is going to be my last time having to rededicate myself. I am done with feeling like a big ole tub of lard! So back to working out and eating healthy again. It is hard when you are trying to conceive because every month after I ovulate I keep thinking well I am probably pregnant so I don't need to lose any weight....then I won't be and I have lost 2 weeks, just to do it all over again the next month. But I know that I want to be active during my next pregnancy and eat healthily so this is really something that I need to keep doing no matter where I am in my cycle.

As you may or may not know I took the last month off of work to recover from the loss and to just give my body a break. This resulted in our emergency fund getting cleaned out and less being paid on our debts. So here I am back at square one all over again! I went back to work yesterday so we are on our way back to where we need to be. This has been a real wake-up call for me, we were supposed to be surviving on Bry's income for all our monthly needs and my income was supposed to be just paying off the debt. Once we cut out my income though it was clear that we were using some of my income for our monthly needs as well. I am looking at our monthly expenses seeing what we can cut out to get everything in balance again. This is going to be especially important since I am only working part-time right now and don't plan on going back to full time until at least August maybe later.

The thought pattern with all these changes is that my weight and my stress levels are affecting my ability to get pregnant and then stay pregnant. So by working on my weight and my health and cutting back on my working maybe this will result in a pregnancy that will make it.....we shall see!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Baby Number 3 in Heaven

Yes we lost another baby. This time I had a missed miscarriage, the baby stopped growing at 5 weeks but my body "forgot" to miscarry until I was almost to the second trimester. I can't even begin to say how hard that was to think that you have almost made it to the safe zone then to have everything ripped out from under you. Yeah it just sucked. Then to top it all off I had a incomplete miscarriage this time around and after 16 days of bleeding they went in and found that some tissue was stuck. Luckily they were able to remove everything without anesthesia and I was able to go home right afterwards.

I made the call today to start the miscarriage testing to try and find out why this is happening. We won't know anything for months since most of the tests have to be done over a period of time or timed just right with my cycle. We are taking the Dr's advice and taking a few months off from the baby making. We hope that by the time we get home from our trip back to the mainland in July all the tests will be in and we can start trying again.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Curbing my inner shopaholic

I love to shop....not just that I like to but it has gotten to a compulsion with me...I LOVE TO SHOP! I had a real wake up call about a year ago that shocked me into becoming more responsible with my spending, but even knowing that I still have to smack myself sometimes for buying needless things. Even though I have drastically reduced my shopping habit I still buy things without thinking about the long term effects on my debt repayment schedule. This week for example I have bought a number of things that I really didn't "need" but that I got anyways because....well...when I figure that one out I will let you know!

*Fetal Heart rate monitor $35
*Gender Predictor test $55
*Easter Dress for Sara (she had dresses she could have worn) $18
*Book $6

For a grand total of $114 in random spending for stuff that I really didn't need in the first place. Does this stop me from thinking about the next thing I could buy? No not for an instant. Take for example my DVD/VCR on Monday the remote died and I couldn't change the channels on the tv without getting up and manually doing it (Yes I know a real hardship but with morning sickness it got real old real fast). I changed the batteries and did some very colorful swearing while smacking the remote on the floor...surprisingly this didn't fix it. What is a frugal girl going to do....why buy a new remote of course and if I couldn't find one I was going to buy an all new DVD player. Yes I know not at all frugal but that little voice was screaming in my head "buy a new one!" Well after thinking and thinking about it I finally talked myself out of buying a new one and decided we would just live with having to get up and change the channel (I am a huge channel surfer so this was a big deal for me). After I made the decision not to buy a new one I started wondering why the stupid thing stopped working in the first place. After a little investigating I found that a certain button got pushed on the remote rendering it useless....press the button again and boom it works again! Now if I hadn't talked myself out of buying the new one I never would have found the solution to the problem. Just goes to show you that sometimes you have to investigate all the options before you run out to the store to buy a replacement.

Now I have a new challenge Bry did the vacuuming last night and tells me that there is something wrong with my 1yr old vacuum. The brush apparently is not spinning now even after he cleaned it off. So what does my inner voice scream "Go buy that $600 one that you have been wanting forever" but I have learned from my DVD player that that is not going to be the solution until I have tried everything else. So I am going to do whatever it takes including taking the darn thing apart if I have to before I will be convinced that I need a new one.

So apparently I have my compulsion for shopping semi under control, big items are out but I am still a sucker for the little items through out the week. Not sure how I am going to get that under control as well....baby steps I guess.

Friday, March 6, 2009

7 weeks and sick as a dog

They really are not kidding when they say that every pregnancy is different. With my first I was deathly ill and would be sick 9-10 times a day. With my second no morning sickness at all other than being a little tired I couldn't have told you I was pregnant. This time I am sick again but not to the extreme that I was with my oldest. Even though it is not as bad as it was with my oldest it still sucks and I am SO ready to get to my second trimester. Only 5 more weeks....keep telling me it will be here before I know it people cause it seems like an eternity!

False Economy anyone?

Here I was thinking I had hit the jackpot the last time I was at the store, turns out the old adage is true if it sounds to good to be true it is. I needed to get some shampoo and conditioner and instead of buying my usual products at $4 per bottle I decided to look around and see what better deals there were. I found a brand name product for $0.89 per bottle and thought SOLD! Yeah can we say false economy anyone? This stuff leaves my hair feeling worse than if I hadn't washed it at all and looking like a grease trap. I just want to throw the crap away and go get my usual bottle of shampoo and conditioner. So instead of saving myself $3.11 I ended up wasting $0.89 Lesson learned even if it is a brand name product at a cheap price watch out and defiantly try it out before you decide to stock up.....can you imagine if I had bought 4-5 bottles of the stuff then to find out that it didn't work for crap?!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bye Bye Emergency Fund

Well I just got an email from my college saying that the amount not covered by my student loan must be paid within the next 10 days. I am not happy about having to use my emergency fund but then that is what it is there for right? If I didn't have it I would be putting the balance on my credit card and paying out the butt with interest. But then again it is a big chunk of my debt that will be going bye bye as well so there is a bright side! So Bye Bye emergency fund it was nice knowing you....looks like I am back on the long road of saving again.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bry and the cat!

OK, so my hubby is NOT a cat person. Given the choice he would have gotten a dog in a heartbeat, but we have a super small backyard and we are constantly moving so he lowered himself to getting another cat. He loved my first cat and Fuji loved him the problem was we couldn't afford to spend $3,000 to bring him to England so he went to live with my parents in Kentucky. He has since become an outdoor cat and I have gone on to have 2 children which he HATES the last time we went to visit my parents he wouldn't even let me touch him. So in Kentucky he stayed and off to the Humane Society we went for a new cat. I brought Bry with me and he picked out a kitten that looks almost identical to Fuji and home we went. That was about 6 months ago and the kitten has NOT endeared herself to Bry, just the opposite in fact. She HATES him! She runs every time he comes in the room, will not let him pet her, and today added insult to injury and PEED on him! LOL! I can not wrap my head around this new insult...there he was peacefully sleeping away and wakes up to realize that the cat has peed on him! OMG I am laughing so hard I am having trouble typing! He woke up long enough to do some very colorful swearing, ripped the sheets off of the bed and got a new blanket and then went back to sleep. I am grateful that she likes me and waited till I was up to pee on him :D I am NOT looking forward to hearing him start bellowing when he wakes up for the day! No chance of getting him to clean out the cat box now! :(

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feeling MUCH better!

Well after my appointment on Monday I was not feeling to happy about the whole base OB procedures. I really wanted an ultrasound to tame my fears of another miscarriage. After realizing they wouldn't let me have an ultrasound I asked for a HCG level (the level of the baby's hormones in my blood) and they agreed even though it was not something they normally order. I just called and got my HCG levels back and they were 5,502! OMG those are WONDERFUL numbers! Now I am a little more relaxed about not getting an ultrasound or getting to have an appointment in general till 11 weeks. That is defiantly one healthy baby :D

Monday, February 23, 2009

First appointment....blah!

I had my first OB appointment this morning and it was a blah experience to say the least. They did a ton of blood work and took my history and then told me to come back in April! Now if I hadn't just had two miscarriages in the last few months that probably would have been fine, but I just had a miscarriage in January and I am NOT emotionally over it. I just need the reassurance that everything is OK and that the baby is growing and going to stick. No one seems to understand this though. My husband and mother are both of the mindset that what will happen will happen and I just need to relax and let it happen. Why can people not see that that option is the most painful option of all? To let my guard down and then have my heart ripped out again....I honestly don't think that I am strong enough to go through that all over again. By keeping my guard up I know that if I lose the baby it is still going to hurt but maybe just maybe I can shield myself from some of the pain. To start thinking about what this baby is...give him/her a name and start thinking about the nursery and the future and then to have it all ripped away from me while dealing with uncaring and unemotional Dr's I think that might just break me this time around.

I am going to enjoy the next few weeks and try not to think about anything other than the day I am currently in. I will be praying that I make it to April 3rd, but I will defiantly not be taking it as a given that I will ever make that appointment.

Taming my nerves

Tomorrow morning is my appointment with the OB clinic on base and I am working on managing my nerves. I know that I am still pregnant so that is one huge step forward for me. It will be interesting to see what they have to say in the morning. I am hoping that they will give me an ultrasound right away to date the pregnancy since I haven't had a period since this last miscarriage. I think that is what has me so nervous....what if there is something horrible on the ultrasound....this is the farthest I have gotten in a pregnancy since Sara. I am starting to let my guard down and get excited now I am just waiting for the rug to get ripped out from under me. I will let you know as soon as I know anything....lots of good thoughts people!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Maternity Shopping

There was a time not to long ago that when if I was told I needed an entire new wardrobe I would have been ecstatically headed out to the stores with my credit card firmly in my hand. Those days though are so far gone it never occurred to me to do so this time. One would think that since this is my third child I would already have quite the maternity wardrobe already formed, but sadly that is not the case. We recently PCSed from England to Hawaii and we were so worried about our household goods not making weight (especially since they were coming over on a plane and not a ship as usual) that we got rid of anything that we didn't absolutely need. That included all my maternity stuff as well as all the baby stuff Sara had outgrown so that would be from 0-12 mths. To many of you this may sound very extreme but when faced with the possibility of THOUSANDS of dollars in fees we were determined not to go over our weight!

Anyways all this rambling does have a point! Now that I am knocked up again I am faced with the fact that I have NO maternity stuff! So what is a newly frugal mama to do? Hit up eBay of course! I managed to get an entire wardrobe of maternity clothes including several pairs of jeans, shorts, capri's, belly band, dresses, and about 15 shirts for the grand total of $190 and that includes shipping! Now if you add all that up at retail costs of about $20 per item it would have cost me $400 without shipping costs! Not bad if I do say so myself :D

The Good Ideas and the What was I thinking moments

So I have been doing this frugal thing for a few months and I have had some really great finds and some that were a total waste of my time. I thought I would share my experiences so maybe I can save someone from a total waste of time and money.

Great Ideas:
*Homemade Laundry Soap. Cleans just as well as the pre-packaged stuff but for only a few bucks
* Homemade Dishwasher powder. Again works just as well and you can use some of the same stuff that you bought for the laundry soap.
* Homemade All-purpose spray. A little vinegar and water and bam there you go, cuts grease and dirt and is really cheap to make.
*Homemade floor cleaner. I used to buy the Clorox mop refills and that was getting really expensive, instead I use warm water and vinegar in the refill bottle and it works wonders with no vinegar smell.
* Dishrags instead of the Clorox pads on the mop. I just use the big dish towels on my mop, works wonders and since it is just vinegar in the mop no need to worry about washing the cloth with the other clothes.
*No more paper towels. Honestly I though this was going to be harder but I don't even notice there gone now.
*Cutting out all the pre-packaged meals. I thought this one would be harder as well but after the initial shock it was pretty easy to do, especially since there is always leftovers from dinner for lunch.
* Cutting the meat in our meals in half and going veggie a few nights a week. Bry is the only one to complain about this one, but since he isn't here for 75% of the dinners who cares! ;D
* Growing my own veggies. This one is taking FOREVER to come to fruition but when it does it will be wonderful. I plan on canning some of the stuff so that will really help out down the line.

What was I thinking?
* Homemade napkins for the dinning room table. Yeah this one was wonderful in theory but took forever to cut down the cloth and then it wasn't cotton but some other material so it wasn't absorbent at all. BIG waste of time!
*Making my own body care stuff. Again great in theory but all of the ingredients in the book I bought on the topic were really expensive and a royal pain to put together. Just buy the cheap stuff and call it a day.
*Homemade bread for the entire week, even bought a bread maker for this. Um, yeah I don't really have the time for this one....actually I don't think anyone does! I do make all of our specialty breads from scratch (French, pizza dough, etc) but when it comes to sandwiches we buy the cheapest loaf at the store and say good enough!
*Making my own cat litter. It wasn't hard and was almost free since I have tons of free newspapers delivered every week but it was SO time consuming I would have had to make 3-4 batches a week and then let them dry for a week or more before using. OK I love my cat but come on! We are back on the store bought stuff and couldn't be happier.
*Making my own diapers. I love my cloth diapers but making them is a pain in the rear and they were never as absorbent as the pre-made ones, plus after I bought all the stuff and paid for shipping it wasn't any cheaper! No thanks I will just buy mine!

OK so there is my list for now. I will be sure to add some more as we go along, if you have any to add feel free!

Garden Update

On another note my garden is doing really well and I am looking forward to cutting my grocery bill considerably when it is ready for a harvest. I have several cucumbers that are going to be ready really soon, and a TON of blooms. My parsley is actually growing and I have had it for a few weeks and have not managed to kill it yet so that is a good thing! Only one of the zucchini plants made it but it is blooming so that is something. I have 4 bell pepper plants that are still tiny but they are growing and 1 tomato plant that looks like it will start blooming soon. Only 4 onions came up but they are going strong and I am looking forward to harvesting them soon.

I want to replace the lost zucchini and onions but we are waiting till the end of March when we find out if Bry made OTS, if we are going to be moving it is just silly to plant stuff. As it is if he doesn't get the promotion we will be moving anyways to a bigger house since we are having a new baby but the timeframe on that one will depend on how packed the waiting list is.

Feeling Thankful

So I have spent a lot of time recently searching blogs related to family finances to try and get some ideas for how to temper our spending and I have to say that there is some very depressing things out there! I watch the news so I know that massive amounts of people are getting laid off and that there are record numbers of foreclosures I just have no personal experience with it so it is hard to relate to. I am so thankful that both of our jobs are rock solid and we do not have to worry about losing our jobs or our house. The military may be many things and I have had my moments when I wish he would get out and have a "normal" job but I am extremely thankful for it at this time in our economy. A set paycheck that will never go away, a free house, free medical/prescription (even if I do complain about it), free utilities, college funds for our kids (thanks to the Montgomery GI bill being transferable), and an unending supply of military kids for me to watch......yeah this is defiantly the only time since the war started that it pays to be in the military!

I also have to say that I am thankful that we have been slackers and have not invested very much in our retirement fund (TSP). We just upped our allotment to 10% (up from 5%) I figure stocks are cheap right now and we don't make very much to start with so there really isn't much of a risk for us so why not up our investment? I did move 40% to the G bill which is very little risk but left the rest in the L section which has its risk based on the amount of time till retirement, we still have 30yrs so it is a more aggressive fund. Hopefully when the tide starts to turn in the stockmarket we will get a nice little boost :D

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dave Ramsey and going debt free!

So I have decided to start working with the Dave Ramsey Steps for debt reduction. He has these baby steps that if you do them in order you will be out of debt and able to retire before you hit 80, so what the heck here it goes!

Baby step #1: $1,000 to start an emergency fund
OK, so I have over a $1,000 saved in a trip fund but my emergency fund is currently only $100.....so....yeah....need to start funding that again.

Baby step #2: Pay off all debt using the debt snowball
We have already paid off our credit card so that is one thing less on the list. I just went through and added up all of our debt and came to the grand total of $26,230. That includes a car loan, student loans, outstanding balance that student loan didn't cover, and yearly insurance on car and renters insurance. Other than that we are sitting pretty ;D So according to the snowball theory we are supposed to pay off the smallest debt first and then add that payment with the regular payment on the next biggest loan the next month and so on. Following this method we should pay off the insurance, the school bill, the student loan, and then the car loan. I would do this BUT right now I don't owe any interest on the student loan as long as it is paid off before the grace period ends and their is no interest on the insurance or the school bill. So to me it just makes more sense to pay off the student loan first before the interest kicks in then move on to the smaller bills that don't have any interest. So that is the plan, if we stick to the budget the student loan should be paid off in 3-4 months right before the grace period ends!

The rest of these steps will begin one at a time after the debt is paid off.
Baby Step #3: 3-4 months of expenses in savings
Baby Step #4: Invest 15% of household income into TSP
Baby Step #5: College Funding for kids
Baby Step# 6: Pay off home early
**Obviously don't have to worry about this one, I think I will change it to save for a down payment on a house! **
Baby Step #7: Build wealth and give! Invest in mutual funds and real estate

So that is the plan to get debt free, it has worked for so many other people that I am sure we will be there in no time at all! I will be sure to update as the months go by so I can keep track of how well we are doing!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Homeschooling is HARD!

OK, so she won't be 5 till May so it really isn't "homeschooling" yet and she does have ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) so that defiantly makes it harder. We are trying to give her a head start in kindergarten because we know she will need a little bit of a leg up compared to her peers. We are working on the alphabet and I have to say that I have found a new respect for kindergarten teachers! After the 100th time going over the letter A and then asking her what is this letter she looks at me like she has never seen it before and says "I don't know"! AAAHHH! All I could do was lay my head down and try not to cry! Now this is only with saying the letters name, she can point to the letter when I say it and write the letter if she has one to look at but she just can not say the name and it is driving me CRAZY! On the other hand she has her numbers down pat. She knows how to count to 15 and can circle the correct number compared to a picture with varying amounts of animals in it. I just can't wrap my brain around how her thought process works why can she do numbers so easy but letters throw her for a total loop? Please Lord don't let her be dyslexic as well as ASD I don't think that there is a teacher out there who would volunteer for that teaching experience! I have gotten some different homeschooling resources for her that should be here soon, I am hoping that a different approach will work better for her. On the bright side Sara should have one heck of a head start when she gets to kindergarden after hearing me go over and over and OVER the first 4 letters in the alphabet!

On a related note we are considering putting Hailey in a private school when she starts kindergarten, but that is only if we are able to get her a scholorship. Bry thinks it is unreal that we are worrying about a scholorship for our 4 yr old ;D I just think that the classes are so much smaller in private schools and she may have a better chance of keeping up with her peers if she is in a smaller classroom situation. I don't know we shall see how we do on the financial paperwork!

Our Budget Update

I am proud to say that after working VERY hard on our debt and budgeting like a mad woman we are officially out of credit card debt! WOO HOO! Doing a little happy dance over here! :D We still have another 2 months to go on my student loans and about another 12 months on the car loan (which still has another 3yrs before it would be paid if we stuck with the standard payment), but we are well on our way to now owing anyone anything but love :) We have started a savings account for our upcoming trip home in July and will soon be able to pay for the entire trip in cash, that is defiantly the first time that has happened! Plus with the new baby on the way I have worked out the total 1st year expenses and as soon as our trip fund is filled we will be moving the allotment to the baby fund. I have to thank the Duggar family for their very inspiring book that has taught me that it IS possible to live debt free no matter what the situation. If they can do it with 18 kids I can do it with 2! Looking forward to being 100% debt free!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's new with us...

I have been sitting here trying to think of what I have done this week that is worthy of a post and I can't really think of anything! Lets see for my going green goal....well....hmm....I am continuing to make my own cleaning supplies and am going to be making a batch of laundry soap tomorrow. I guess you could say that on this front I am holding steady, not really sure where to take it from here but I am sure it will come to me.

Last week was a wonderful week for my budget and I only spent $74 on groceries for the week and we managed not to eat out the entire week. This week I have spent $163 and they way I have been eating I wouldn't be surprised if that doesn't last 3 days. The majority of this weeks grocery bill went to buying fresh veggies and fruit so I am going to have to look at that for next week. Not really sure at this point how to balance nutrition and money but I am going to work on it so we shall see what I spend next week.

I am happy to say that I am still pregnant and doing well. I am STARVING all day and while I am also very sleepy I am actually waking myself up because I am so hungry! I have made the appointment for my blood test and will be going in on Monday to get the official conformation. I am scared of actually doing it but I know that this is going to be a sticky baby and I am going to have to face my fears and get on with it.

My garden is doing really well. The snails came back and had done some major damage to my zucchini but I think I caught it in time and they are going to survive. The cucumbers are growing like wildfire and the tomatoes are actually starting to look like tomato plants. The onions are still small but getting there, and I think I have 2 bell pepper plants but we will have to wait and see as they get larger.

OK, I think that is it from here. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I will keep you updated on all the new gossip from my end!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I'm a busy little bee over here!

Well all the festivities are over and I have to say I am glad. I need a break from all the hub-bub and drama for a while!

I am happy to say that my garden is actually growing and looking pretty healthy if I do say so myself :D My zucchini are taking off like you would not believe, as are my cucumbers. My onions and tomatoes just sprouted and are tiny but growing well. I think that the only thing left is the bell peppers and they are taking their sweet time to sprout, I am starting to wonder if they are ever going to come up! My strawberry actually has about 4-5 white berries on it so we shall see if I get to them before the birds do.

I just made the best homemade french bread for dinner, it was so soft and light that I ate about 1/2 of it! LOL! I am happy to say that I won a bread maker on eBay for quite the bargain. Now I know that a "real" crunch mama would continue to make bread by hand but I am a tried mama! With 6 kids in the house under the age of 5 I really don't have the time to do all the kneading and transferring that is needed to make bread from scratch every day. After all you can only rely on the supervisory skills of a 4yr old so much before a catastrophe occurs. So this is my compromise with myself. I will continue to save money by making bread at home I will just be doing it using the bread machine. I am very excited for it to get here!

I also received the cloth napkins I ordered off eBay yesterday and have started cutting them down into smaller sizes for use on our table. I have about 5 done so I am happy to say we are now through using paper napkins!

Kitty litter wise I have to admit I am a complete failure at making my own litter. It was easy to do and the kitty did use it but it just took so darn long to do it! So in the interest of saving myself a little time and energy I have gone back to pre-packaged litter....gasp! My compromise towards being green was that I am not using the clay litter or the crystals anymore, instead I am using the recycled newspaper. For $2.11 a week I am happy to have all the work done for me!

My next project is going to be finding a natural household odor neutralizer. With 2 kids that still wet the bed and lose used Goodnights (YUCK) plus a kitty box just down the hall this house is starting to smell very unattractive! Bry says he can't smell it but I think he just says that so he can get out of helping clean. I use baking soda and EO on the carpets but I need something that I can leave out all the time to absorb the smells on a daily basis. We shall see what I find.

I think that is all my latest news and drama. Hope you guys are having a wonderful weekend!

One Mama's Journey Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved Baby Blog Designed by Ipiet | All Image Presented by Tadpole's Notez