Saturday, December 31, 2011

Setting Goals

The last couple years I have decided not to come up with resolutions.  I rationalized this decision because "I don't need to set goals once a year just because someone else says I should."

This year I am breaking from my tradition of rebellion.  Today, I am going to let my readers know a few  goals I have decided to set recently.  I am not setting these goals because everyone sets goals for the new year.  I am merely sharing goals I've already come up with because I know myself and I know that if I don't put it on paper (and maybe more importantly let others know about it), that I'm less likely to achieve them.  So here goes:

  • I am going to make a concerted effort to read my Bible every day.  I've actually been doing this for a couple months, but like I said, putting it out there for others to see makes me more likely to complete it.  In fact, I'm hoping to finish reading the Bible one year from when I started it.
  • I am going to do a better job of facilitating my children's learning. 
  • I am going to master the art of grocery shopping in such a way that I spend as little as possible.
  • I am going to procrastinate less (especially as it relates to housework). 
  • I am going to be more consistent enforcing the rules with my children. 
  • I am going to exercise more.
Feel free to ask me how I'm doing with my goals on occasion.  Please help me achieve my goals.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Growing Up Too Fast

My kids have been known for their reluctance for going to church.  The last few weeks at church the kids have willingly walked into their class without any complaints.  In fact, my daughter has been eager to go to her class.  Neither of them has made any friends (at least they can't tell me the names of any), but they are enjoying the class and are learning things, so I am happy.

Last week when we went to pick up the kids from their class, the teacher gave us the "I want to talk to you look" as we were walking up.  All parents know that look.  I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Uh-oh!  Did one of them have an issue after we left?

We were actually told that our kids separated for a portion of the class (for the first time).  I guess, during part of the class, they separate into different groups based on their grade level.  The teacher asked my son what grade he was in (as the teacher said, "because he is SO smart that he didn't think he should be with the youngest group").  My son told the teacher he was in 3rd grade (for some reason my son remembers me telling him he's in 3rd grade).  If we were to base his grade on the standards the school system would use, he's in 2nd grade.  What I find interesting is that the teacher believed him!  I know he's tall for his age, and I know he's pretty smart, but for someone to believe he's one year older than he is...

It just means he's growing up WAY too fast!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Keeping CHRIST in Christmas

For the last few years, my husband and I have been trying to make sure our kids understand why we celebrate Christmas.  We've found it very difficult when we have to compete with all the gifts.  What we've been wanting to do is keep Christmas rather low-key in the gifts department giving them just a few smaller gifts and then saving the big gifts for what we call "Loot Day" (which we will celebrate on New Year's Day).  The idea behind Loot Day is to celebrate American commercialism (meaning let our kids still get gifts so they don't feel left out) while allowing us to keep Christmas about Jesus' birthday.  It also means we can take advantage of after-Christmas sales.  It's been very hard to pull this idea off because we've always been local to family who wanted to give gifts on Christmas.

Well, this year, we are not going to be near those family members, so we are going to try to separate Christmas and Loot Day.  I've been trying to go through an advent book with the kids to help solidify the Biblical meanings of Christmas and all that surrounds it, but I admit it's not a habit I'm used to so I've missed a few days.  I can happily say though that for the first time ever, my 5 year old daughter tells me that Christmas is about Jesus' birthday and not about getting presents.

We will still be giving gifts on Christmas; after all, Jesus was given gifts.  If you look into why Jesus was given gold, frankincense, and myrrh we learn that these were necessity items.  Therefore, my children will be receiving necessity items (clothes and maybe a couple books, but no toys) on Christmas.  All the fun stuff will be given on Loot Day. (Note to family: Do not call on Christmas expecting them to have opened your "fun" gift.  They will be opening any clothing items from family but no toys on Christmas.)

You may think we are crazy or you may love our idea.  I just wanted to let you all know in advance so that you are not surprised when I don't post pictures till New Years.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Penny Pinching

I'm going to appologize for the length of this posting.  I had no intention of it being this long, but I guess I'm more passionate about the topic than I though.

A couple weeks ago, I discovered that I had spent $900 during the month of November on groceries.  That is CRAZY!  Part of it is that we are still re-buying some staple items such as flour, and part of it is that I did some of my early December shopping in the last couple days of November, but still... that's just NUTS! 

I think the largest part of it, is that the price of things are going up and I just figured that all the increase in my weekly bills was because of that.  What I've recently discovered is that the problem is that I've moved.  This created two problems:  1. I was not aware of the coupon policies of my new stores.   I am now aware though  (FYI Virginian's, there is no store down here that double coupons - UGH!)  and 2.  I have not figured out which stores to buy what items from (For example in VA, I would get canned veggies from Wegman's because they were cheapest).  Some items I'm just willing to pay more for because they are better quality.  For example, I pretty much refuse to buy produce from the Wal-Mart.  What that meant is that I would shop at a more expensive store because I wanted their produce but would not think about how much more expensive their other foods are.

I have been shopping the sales flyers the last couple weeks and it's been saving me some money (I'm back around $100 - $125 a week).  I used to make my menu and then would just shop.  Now I make my menu based on what's on sale. 

After I realized how high our grocery bill was, we had a family meeting in which we talked about how we want to buy a house soon, and the more money we save the better the house.  I've also mentioned that we need money in order to be able to go on trips (like a cruise, Disney, etc).  We then discussed ways to save money and the 3 ways they can help is 1. Turning off lights when they leave a room, 2. Help Mommy save money on groceries by understanding when I say no to something or when I ask them to eat leftovers, and 3. By realizing we will be eating out less.

Talking to the kids and letting them know the situation has helped as well because there is now much less complaining when we have leftovers for dinner on occasion.  Not only does this make my life easier but it means we are not wasting money. 

There is one more thing I'm about to try to institute.  I've always thought that the most expensive part of my grocery bill besides meats was produce.  Therefore I didn't purchase them as snack foods.  I've read that fresh produce can actually cost less in the long run and I think I've finally realized exactly how that's true.  For example, my kids typically have a snack in the AM and in the PM.  What's been happening lately is that they have 2 snacks in the AM and 2 in the PM.  Why?  Because they are made of processed foods and aren't as filling.  SO.... after my kids finish off the granola bars, fruit snacks, etc that are in the house, we're going to switch to fruits and veggies as our snacks.  It's healthier, more filling, and I hope will prove to be less expensive. 

I made a local friend almost right after I moved to Florida and she recently went to a farm and came back and asked if I wanted anything from the massive stash she came back with.  I got a HUGE cabbage, 4 red peppers, and 4 tomatoes for $3.  I made cole slaw and barely scratched the surface of the cabbage.  If I don't even use any more of the cabbage, I spent less than if I'd gotten a bag of cole slaw mix.  But you know what?  I have plans for more of that cabbage.

And I also have plans on joining my friend on a future trip (she likes to go every week).  Maybe the next thing I try is to get my family to eat a vegetarian meal on occasion.  Wish me luck on that one.  :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ewwww.... Gross!!!

My kids LOVE the library.  As of late, my kids have been particularly interested in these 5" video players that our library has.  The library recently changed their policy on checking them out so they are now due back weekly.  I got my reminder email letting me know that they are due back tomorrow.

After returning from class today, we started to look for them.  After at least an hour without success finding one of the players, Jon started in the search as well.  The kids have been doing lots of things with paper (paper airplanes, paper mache, and creating animals using paper and tape) so we began by cleaning all of that.  We ended up with a kitchen trash bag full of papers that were no longer deemed worthy of keeping.  After that proved unfruitful, we started to look under furniture.

The amount of K'nex under the love seat was astonishing.  We then moved to the couch and found not only K'nex, but dog treats.  Umm... we don't have a dog.  Can you say, ewwww!  Before we moved into the house, the property management company had the house cleaned.  I guess they didn't move the couch.

Oh, about 3 hours after the kids and I began our search, the player was found... on the underside my daughter's mattress.  Not just under it, but between the mattress and the fitted sheet.  Exactly how that happened we don't know.

All I know is that after seeing what was left under that couch, I continued to vacuum the rest of the house (being sure to move as many pieces of furniture as possible).  I'm feeling much less grossed out now.  Tomorrow... bathrooms.   And my house will be completely clean.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Amazon

This year seems to be turning out to be an Amazon kind of Christmas, and I don't mean that I've been doing a lot of shopping on Amazon.  Don't get me wrong, I have done some, but I would have to say that 60 - 70 % of the gifts the kids are getting from family members are coming from Amazon.  I've found that to be good and bad:

  • I used Amazon to send links to family members of some of the things the kids wanted
  • I was able to catch a duplicate order (different family members just happened to order the same thing even though it was not specified - what are the odds?)
  • Unless told by family members, I don't know what to expect and when.  Trying to hide incoming packages can be a bit hard under these circumstances.
  • I feel like I've been wrapping for ages and I didn't even buy everything I'm wrapping!  I'm going to have to buy more wrapping paper so that I can finish everything too.
Amazon certainly has a large variety of items at a good price.  I'm seriously thinking of using them a little more next year to purchase gifts for the family.  I may spring for the gift wrap when available though. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Using the Off Switch

I don't know what it is, but today my son just does not seem to stop talking.  Since getting home from church he's been building with his K'nex (of course) and as he's doing so he is talking to the K'nex, giving me a play-by-play of what he's doing, and just filling any empty space with humming and chatter.

I told him that if he expect Mommy to listen to this all day, that I would overload.  He then asked me what that meant.  Being that my husband is an electrical engineer I told him that when an electrical circuit is overloaded, one of two things happen.  1.  It either turns off, or 2.  It explodes.

Being that he hasn't stopped talking since this conversation, I have opted for option 1.  I am now doing my best to tune him out (turning him off) so that I don't end up doing option 2.