Tuesday, August 26, 2008
So as promised, here is a list of ways to be frugal - probably all ways that you already know and/or use. But if there's something missing on the list, please let me know. I'm always in the market for a lower price.
1. www.thegrocerygame.com visit this site and read the instructions. it's simple: it gives you lists of grocery stores, in town, that are having sales (it gives you this knowledge earlier than the newspapers do and tells you about items on sale that aren't listed as on sale - aah, you didn't know that stores did that, huh? right. they do.). it also gives an extra list of coupons to help couple with your coupons - you can actually wind up purchasing things for free. it's a good way, if you have a big family (or growing family), to stockpile on items that you use regularly: canned food, toiletries, meat for freezing, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.
2.Shop at Sam's or Costco - again, work on stockpiling. Or, purchase items in bulk that you use more readily and need at a lower price. Such as diapers or milk or juice, etc. Be sure to know your grocery store prices - items at these stores aren't always less expensive.
3.www.freecycle.org Visit this site and learn how to get rid of your old stuff or get someone else's stuff - for free! it's a way for us all to recycle our old things: from light bulbs, plant pots, to washing machines and grills.
4.make your own baby food. (see previous posts and visit www.cuisinart.com or www.wholesomebabyfood.com for more info). it's easy, healthy, and saves the pocket book.
5.share. if you aren't having a baby for another couple of years, share your maternity clothes. chances are, by the time you have another baby, you wont' like the clothes that you wore in your previous pregnancy. so share your clothes with a friend. it saves them money - and more than likely, someone will be willing to share with you when/if you get pregnant again. share baby clothes - if you're done having babies, give your clothes away. i know it's emotionally difficult - but it's so appreciated. most of loralai's clothes that she's worn up until this point were given to us. we'll do the same with her clothes when we're done having babes.
6.Pre-plan meals. Try to think of meals that you want to cook for the week ahead or two weeks ahead - this will make grocery shopping more efficient. Keep a notebook listing meals that you and your family enjoy- then you can reference it when you're planning meals for the week. And after you cook a meal, use your leftovers. If your family doesn't like the same meal twice - use the leftovers creatively. Use salad leftovers in a taco salad or left over chicken in quesadillas, etc.
7.Rain water catch system - if you garden or have lots of plants that need watering, try purchasing a rain water catch system and let your run-off rainwater become the water you use to water your plants.
8.Store brand: shop the grocery store brand items They usually go on sale first and are normally less expensive than namebrand items and generally just as good.
9.Brown bag your lunch to work.
10.Don't play with your thermostat. Changing the temperature ups your utility bill. Keep it steady and save a little.
11.Furniture: if you aren't in the market for new, try shopping craigslist or if you can wait, try eBay.
12.Haircuts: if you just need a trim, you can go to the local beauty/hair cutting school: my sister-n-law did this and paid $9 for a haircut (tip included)
13.Massage, facials, pedicures, manicures: if you want to treat yourself, you don't have to pay full price if you go to the local school (Miller Motte in Wilmington) that teaches these skills: an hour massage runs around $30.
14.Movies: if you're a movie watcher, try Red Box movies for $1.00 each or NetFlix or Blockbuster online.
15.Yardsale it: if you don't use it, get rid of it. And if you need extra money, have a yardsale. And if you don't have enough stuff for your own, ask a friend to go in on one with you. And, shop other yardsales if you're in the need of something that you can re-purpose: like a mirror, or coffee table, etc.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
last weekend i was in raleigh with todd. we stayed with his family and went to one of my best friend's wedding party - reception - thing. she (second to the right in the white) had a destination wedding with her husband. just she and him. basically a deserted island scenario...doesn't sound so bad, does it? so we made our way to her party where all of her family and friends gathered to celebrate her marriage. it was precious. maribeth is beautiful. her husband is so sweet. he is answered prayer in so many ways. he cherishes her and it's a pleasure to see them together. they make you smile.
the night was such a treat. it was a rare occurrence of old friends getting together. all of us in the picture went to college together. and i grew up with the friend on the far right - kelly. she and i became friends sometime...i think around 10 years old...ago when we started playing softball together. and from there we saw each other every softball season and summer for the next 8 years. and when college came, we were roommates our freshman year. and when i got pregnant, it wasn't long after that kelly was calling to say that she was pregnant. and when loralai was born, she celebrated with me. and when jonah was born, at first we cried. he had a hard time in his first few days. i cried so many tears in prayer for kelly and jonah. but just like the Jonah that God talks about - that little babe hung tight to life and soon enough God was spitting him out of the belly of the whale. and when he did, he spit him out with life. lots of life. Jonah is precious. and what a sweet day it was when they went home with him.
getting to be with friends is always a reminder of love. it's a reminder that being present is important. i find myself wanting to soak up the conversation, to take in all of the laughs and to just sit back and enjoy the company. enjoy. in joy. to just be with them. to be present with them.
people used to say "you'll understand when you have kids." uggh. that used to hurt my heart so badly. i didn't want to be left out of a category capable of new love. i wasn't so much left out of it - i believe that we're all capable of love, boundless endless love that God gives to all of his followers through the unlimitless love that lives in us through the holy spirit. but i believe that i was missing something - the experience. the realness of that love. and now that i'm a mom, my love is different. and experiences are different. when i'm with loralai, there isn't a moment that i check out. i'm present, always. and sometimes i'm completely spent at the end of a day because i was trying to be conscious of every moment - never wanting to miss a second of her sweetness. but i want to be present because i adore her - i'm quite fond of this little life that's been given to us. she holds eye contact with me, keeps a serious face and then lets loose a big grin. it's that moment, a moment when i know she knows my love for her and she relaxes in it - and i can see in her eyes that she has no cares - it's that moment that makes me feel so alive. and as much as my heart is full with her, it's because of the new love i have for her that's given me a new understanding of God's love for me.
as much as the Father is God, so is Jesus and the Holy Spirit. and when Jesus died on the cross, he was dying for his children - because he is God. because we are God's creation - his children. his loves. and i understood the largeness of that sacrifice but i don't think i could comprehend the love that was that sacrifice. until we had loralai. and even now, my understanding is probably so small. but now when i think of loralai, there isn't an ounce of me that wouldn't ask God to take me, to torture me, to allow me to take on all of the pain in the world so that Loralai might be spared - or might be given grace. i would do it. i don't even have to question that decision. and i don't believe that that kind of love is natural - i believe that kind of love is love that only God gives...that only he can explain. and it was only when i became a mother - a parent - that i started to see God's perspective - a little bit - maybe just a tiny bit, even - and i started to see how real it is that he is ever-present and never ending. that in me, through my acceptance of Jesus's sacrifice, there will never be a moment that i am never loved or adored or protected. there will never be a moment that my Father won't be with me - he is ever present. his spirit is always urging me, talking to me, loving me, nurturing my heart, nudging me towards new decisions, guiding me and interceding when i've lost the words to pray.
i'm sure this is all swirly and probably not weaving together as i thought it might. but my point in all of this is to say that the gift of parenthood is far greater than i ever imagined it could have been. it's given me a perspective of love that is painfully beautiful. and now, when i'm in the presence of friends i look at them as babies - as God's babies. and i'm in awe. i see their sweet smiles, the beautiful color of their eyes, like maribeth's green eyes; the dimples in their cheeks or the special one up on the cheek bone of kelly's face, or the curly hair, or the near perfect skin like jordan's, or the adoring sense of humor and brown eyes that remind me of my baby's, like kate's; and i want to be present with them. i want to be still and loud and laugh and silent and listen and cry and clap - i want to just praise God, in the midst of their presence, at what a treasure it is to be able to delight in his babies...and what beautiful children he has created. each of them. each of us. his creation. i'm so thankful for friendship - for the babies that grow to be children and then women that i can call friends and that God first created, simply. simply for his pleasure. his joy.
congratulations to my sister, God's sweet girl, my best friend - maribeth. life just got a little sweeter when you married your nick.
Monday, August 18, 2008
i don't know where to begin this other than in a place of thanks. my heart is so full right now. i've read several blogs - that i'll have to blog about later to explain - that have directed my mind back to a place where it needed to be.
i look at these two pictures and i am so humbled. i want my life to be a reflection of God, so much. i want so badly to hold loralai and for her to know that pure love of our savior. i want her to be in the presence of Jesus whenever she's in the presence of me - which is a lot. i feel so blessed to be able to stay home with her. if you've never spent 8-10 hours of your day caring for a baby, then you've probably never forgotten to feed yourself because you were too busy feeding someoen else, or you've probably never had to hold your pee for longer than an hour because you kept putting off going to the bathroom because your baby was in the middle of showing you how she was working crawling and Lord knows you didn't want to miss a second of this amazing moment for the sake of pee, or you've probably never had the pleasure of pureed sweet potatos and green beans sneezed all over your face and the sneaky little smile that covered your babies face afterwards, or you've probably never felt so completely exhausted at the end of a day where you compare your efforts to a marathon runner, or you've probably never seen the excitement on your baby's face when she sees her daddy coming home and you realize that the look of excitement means two things: 1.she adores her daddy and 2.she actually recognizes his face, or you've probably never been faced with having to place your purpose in the arms of Jesus because for once in your life you don't work and the title of stay-at-home-mom, while amazing and big, will one day fade away and you realize now - while staying at home - that if you don't get your identity set in Jesus now, you never will. (wow that was a huge run-on sentence)
what i'm saying is that in my life, now more than ever, i need Jesus. and i think maybe i don't "need" Jesus more than i did before but i actually realize the need for Jesus in my life more than ever. does that make sense? i realize that my every move is watched - and recognized. but not just by Loralai. it's recognized by Todd, too.
so we got married. oh that was great. that day was so special. so precious. but after the wedding came life. and then we got pregnant in our first year of marriage. and then we had our sweet Loralai. and that day nearly topped our wedding day. but after her birth day came life. again. and when you have to live, i mean really live, you learn that life has to be lived every day. and each day can be different. and when you have a baby, life changes. at first we handled the change really well. but with sleepless nights and inexperience in figuring things out together, we fought. and sometimes the fights were pretty ugly.
but i have new eyes. todd and i have gone head to head lately and had some really good heart-to-hearts. and really it all comes down to a few things. one-we vowed to love each other and honor God in that promise, forever. two-we want loralai to be raised in a family that is healthy and that functions according to the ways of our God and not our world. and three-love never fails. it never gives up. so neither will we.
for a while i haven't seen the todd that i married. visually. when i look at him, he takes on different looks. how do i explain this? have you ever thought someone was handsome or pretty simply because of the confidence they have? or thought someone was ugly because you didn't like their attitude? ok, now you're with me. well that's how it's been. and it's not that todd is ugly. it's that my eyes weren't seeing. my eyes were seeing what i thought was todd. i've found it hard to make decisions and feel good about them - regarding Loralai. and mainly because i've been questioned and somewhat belittled for how i'm handling things. which, by the way, aren't bad - as i'm learning. they just might be different. i guess i'm a schedule freak. i knew i was like this work - i'm a creature of habit. and so, i created habits with loralai. i did it for her sanity and mine. so we have schedules. sleep schedules. and i honor them. she gets up, she eats, she plays, she naps at 9. we do that all over again and she naps again around 1 or 2. and then she goes to bed at 6:30. my heart has been so bruised by comments people have made about our decision to respect Loralai's sleep. and i started questioning myself and then i found myself super sensitive whenever Todd would suggest something...oh it's complicated. but in any case, my eyes are open now. and this is what i know: todd and i were the ones charged with raising our baby and so the only opinions that matter on raising our baby are todd's and God's.
but for a while i felt like it was just my opinion - i think because i was so much on the defense by what other people kept saying to me that i felt like a lone wolf. but i'm not a lone wolf. i'm a married wolf? ha. that's what my husband might say on days when i haven't slept well. i growl. i don't bite. ;) but i'm just thankful.
i've been praying so much lately. and i've had friends praying with me. i've been praying for new eyes. to be able to love my husband how God wants me to love him. to see todd with God's eyes. to be in love with him all over again. to let Todd lead. to trust Todd. to trust that God gave me Todd for good reasons; not for an eternity of misery. (todd is not miserable. let me just clarify. i say that "eternity of misery" because that's what satan plants in the hearts of wives so that marriages will dissolve.). i know that todd loves me. but i know that more than his love is the love that God has for me. and i know that God's intentions for my life aren't to live in doubt or regret but to live in freedom and peace and security.
and this weekend was a good reminder of that. i finally saw todd again. i mean really saw him. and when i looked in his eyes it was like looking into the eyes of my wedding todd, my labor partner todd - my best friend. my sweet and precious husband todd. my loralai's daddy todd. my forever todd.
God thank you for going before me and leading my way to Todd. and thank you for the renewing of my eyes so that after months of change i can see clearly again and i can love more fully. thank you for helping me to persevere when i felt attacked and for giving me your spirit so that i was always walking with you. so that i was never without you and was always fully equipped to love because of you, in spite of myself.
this world might be one Hell of a mess, but by God's grace i am humbly and incredibly blessed.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
ok, based on making my own food rather than buying Gerber food, I have figured out the following savings. also, i have to note something very obvious: taste. i taste all of the babyfood that i give loralai. and i've bought gerber food before i started making my own. it doesn't taste normal. it tastes canned, over cooked and pastey. and all of the veggies are dull in color. that tells me that no matter what the label on the back of the jar says, those packaged foods don't have near the amount of nutrients and vitamins that homemade steamed babyfood does.
5 ounces of Gerber baby food (two containers) costs $1.00.
3 sweet potatos costs $1.90 (rounding up to $2.00 to make difference easier) and made 21 ounces of baby food. Savings: $2.00+
1 butternut squash costs $1.58 (rounded down to $1.50 to make difference easier) and made 20 ounces of baby food. Savings: $2.50
1 sixteen ounce bag frozen green beans costs 96cent (rounded up to $1.00) and made 11 ounces of baby food. Savings: $1.00+
1 jar 25ounce unsweetened apple sauce costs 96cents (rounded up to $1.00). Savings: $4.00
Total savings based on Gerber pricing: $9.50
[that may not sound like a lot, but when you consider that i could be saving close to $20-30/month by making my own food - that adds up. hey, that money could be used for gas, for groceries, for date night, for dog food...0r, for processed babyfood.]
in my previous post, i told you that my friend (rachel) came over today with her little 9mo old, faith. so here are a few pictures from their visit. i think faith is just incredibly adorable.
just doin' a little thinkin'. hmm.ALSO - please continue to comment on the post asking for frugal advice. i want to post a list of everyone's money saving or resourceful ideas. thanks :)
so - what are your frugal tips? do you recycle, do you buy food on major sale (if so, where and when?), do you cook on sunday for the whole week? what are your tips? let's all share - and then i'll post. i think together we could make a lot of sense out of the rising prices. thanks :)
Monday, August 11, 2008
she's eating a lot. her tummy is telling me that she's getting plenty of nourishment - so are the rolls on her thighs. i love how squishy our little baby is. our little baby is getting big. when i nurse her, her legs hang off my lap and kick the bed or the side of the chair - her toes play games with each other. it's precious and yet somewhat distracting b/c she'll stop eating only to do her little eyebrow scowl simply b/c she can't figure out who is playing with her toes while she's eating. it's her. she's distracting herself from one left piggy to the right. such a silly little girl.
she squeals when i sit on the side of the bathtub and start drawing her bath water. and once in her bathtub - oh it's on. she kicks with some serious baby furry and squeals and laughs and makes noises inside her blue cup. we don't need toys - we only need our blue cup that magically echos baby sounds back at the baby. it's completely fascinating - apparently.
and we don't need toys to play with while we crawl. we just need outlets and lamp chords and carpet with weird shapes on it and hardwood floors to thumps toes on and doggy toes to touch and wonder about and pieces of dirt (lordy me, i vacuum a million times a week) to pick up and think about eating. ...when i was little we had a refigerator box (i'm assuming we had purchased a new refrigerator - that part was unimportant to me and i therefore don't remember anything except that we had the big box) and it lived in our backyard (for a week, or until it got rained on and mushed away or until one of our parents threw it away - i don't recall) and we lived inside of it. well we didn't "live" so much as we played every game we could imagine. i remember thinking that big box was THE coolest hideout ever. it's the un-toys that become the best toys.
...and she snuggles. our baby is a sweet little snuggler. she sticks her middle and ring finger in her mouth, starts to sucks, plops the head on your chest and gives whoever is looking at her the biggest puppy dog brown eyes. precious. and she's chewing on everything and hurting because of the two bottom teeth pushing through. oh the changes and the awe of life that is within her and about her that i could go on and on about. instead, just enjoy these few new pictures.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
12 She brings him good, not harm,
13 She selects wool and flax
14 She is like the merchant ships,
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
16 She considers a field and buys it;
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
20 She opens her arms to the poor
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
26 She speaks with wisdom,
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
29 "Many women do noble things,
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
i drove to greenville (hometown) friday night. i tried to time it so that loralai would sleep while i drove - you know, like settle in for the night in the car. right. bad idea. only she didn't let me know it was going to be a bad idea until about 15 minutes into the drive. that's when the crying started - 20 minutes later i breathed a sigh of relief when she fell asleep. but 45 minutes later when she woke up, i knew i was in for it b/c i still had an hour left in the trip. and there i was, alone with a crying baby. my baby. and there wasn't a thing in this world i could do. she was just p.o.'d that her mama had her in the car and not her crib. this baby love love loves to sleep in her crib. the car, not so much. but we made it to greenville - alive. and me, a little less sane.
todd went to the mountains to be w/ his family. his sister's getting married in november and this was the only weekend all of the men of the family could get together to do a bachelor weekend, of sorts. it was just a bummer that it happened to be the weekend that my brother's wife was being induced to have their baby - their third - a girl - finally! they have two little boys - precious. and this third little babe - oh, what a sweetie. she's so precious and just girlie girl girl. i think she's gonna look like her mama. time will tell.
our weekend and week ended up being really great - despite the start. loralai ended up settling in easily at her gigi's. and she started all sorts of new stuff: she loves food now - oh how she opens that trap wide like a little birdie. and now she doesn't reach for the spoon to push it away. now she reaches to bring it closer to her lips - or "yips" as my nephew wyatt would say. he's sure to tell me that his new little sister, carly, can't eat food yet b/c she just has yips and a tongue.
loralai is also really really loving her super cold teethers b/c she's growing her very first - very sharp - tooth. i can't even imagine what her smile is going to look like with teeth. i'm totally amazed at how fast i feel like she's growing. it seems like just yesterday all of her could fit in my two arms. and now it takes all of my two arms just to keep her above my waist. and, it's going to continue to take all of my arms and my legs and my energy to follow her while she crawls - b/c that's the next feat on her list of things to do. and she practiced hard while we were in greenville. she followed turner and wyatt anywhere they were - and then she went after maddie dog. she wasn't so sure about the whole moving baby thing. i think the dogs feel a little ripped off - i mean it was one thing that we brought home a crying baby who needed all of our attention. but at least the baby was out of their way - now their territory is the back bedroom - they hide back there and run for peace and quiet.
here are a few pictures of the past few days. it's been a good time. more writing later. for now - it's bedtime. yea i know - it's only 8:00, but this mama is pooped. (and oh yea - loralai slept on the way home today. wheew.)
Friday, August 1, 2008
i know the time of day when loralai starts in with her giggles. it's usually about 4:30 or 5p.m. ...she gets a major bout of the giggles that time of day. i call it her happy hour. it really is the best. it always gives me a new boost of energy to finish the day.
giggles from ashley dengler on Vimeo.