Update

Update on my pregnancy, baby is doing good as far as we know and I'm not having any more problems, just the usual "good" signs of pregnancy - fatigue and nausea! Thank you for the prayers and please keep praying that all will be well with me and the baby, thanks! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

12 Blessed Years of Marriage!

I cried for a while yesterday thinking of the past 12 years.  We have gone through some trials that maybe couples don't even experience until many years into their marriage.  I thought of the wonderful husband I have and his deep love for me.  Even though for the first part of our marriage, he had to endure watching me change with a disease that got worse each year, he never stopped loving me.  When maybe some men would have left or pushed me aside, he stood by side and helped me through it.  When we met and I shared with him all I had been through in my life, he comforted me and that is when I knew he was made for me.  God knew what kind of man I needed and I have no doubts that Nate is my true soul mate.  I couldn't have lived with a macho, king-of-the-house, egotistical, narcissistic man and God knew that!  I needed a compassionate, loving, understanding, a man of steel, yes, but also of velvet and Nate was all that wrapped up into one.

I believe in the mindset I had carried for so many years that I expected him to not want me eventually and to leave me.  It was almost as if I couldn't understand why someone would love me.  Years of abuse had broken down my spirit and it would take God years to repair it but he sent Nate to be that tool.  Through the toughest years of our marriage at the height of my disease, Nate never wavered in his love towards me.  He knew me and he knew that the disease was covering up the true me inside.

God healed me in 2007 and our marriage has only grown even stronger and has a strength that it seems that no trial could break.  When your marriage has been tested in all ways, through extreme circumstances and made it through, you realize that you have something rare in today's society.  You want to hold on to it, never let it go and nurture it, so it grows and never dwindles!  Ever since my healing, I was able to finally become that woman I had always wanted and strived to be.  I was able to love my husband and child properly and serve them in the ways I had wished I had been able to before.

It all taught me, not only that my marriage was a gift from God, but that without that disease, I may not have known it.  Without that disease, I may not have had the compassion on others I do now.  Without that disease, I may not even be whom I am today.  I may not have known how truly and dearly my husband loved me and that he would stick with me through sickness and health.  It made me love him more and let go of the fears of my past and increase my self-worth and lift my spirits.

None of this would have been possible, if not for God.  If not for God sending Nate by my way to invite me to church when I was 19, I may not have been saved and met the man God made for me.  Thank you Lord for your blessings on me and these past 12 years of love, learning and growing!  To my husband, I love you dearly and may I always be the wife you need.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

$100 a Month Grocery Challenge - Not Working!

I suppose if I wasn't pregnant this would be doable lol.  However, I've been unable to make my homemade snacks and goodies this past week because of various pregnancy-related issues and we ended up having to buy snacks and goodies.  I also couldn't stand to think of eating lasagna this weekend, so we ate out.  With my cravings and aversions, it just isn't working.  I think we have now spent $100 already and I will still have to buy milk, bananas and salad in another week and will go over too much.  Seeing how I went through about 3 - 1/2 gallons of milk in just a few days - pregnancy is not the time to cut back on groceries!

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

8-yr Old Making Freezer Jam

My daughter begged me to let her make the strawberry jam this time and I didn't think she was old enough yet to do the whole process, but she did it!  She picked off the stems, soaked them, rinsed, blended and added them to the sugar and pectin mixture and stirred.  I also thought that she couldn't pour them properly into the containers with the ladle without spilling them all over the sides but she sure showed me lol!  She did it almost perfectly!  Even though we only make jam twice a year, it is now her chore and one she loves doing.  I'm so glad that she is willing and enthusiastic about learning these things, it sure makes my job of teaching her that much easier.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

1st Grocery Trip - $100/Month Grocery Challenge

It is proving difficult to make this work as we needed so much this month as the fridge was almost bare.  Thankfully, I ran into some really good sales, one being the organic salad and spinach was B1G1 free!  That saved me $5.  I also saw that the organic strawberries were on sale 2 for $4, so instead of waiting till next month, I went ahead and dipped into my stockpile money and bought 6 pounds to make jam.  I also had to buy some tahini as ours had expired, to make hummus for the next 6 months.  The tahini is a stockpile item, so I won't need to purchase it again for another 6 months.

Here is what I bought that we needed:

2 bundles organic bananas - 3.72
Hummus (until I make some) - 3.99
Organic/non-gmo corn tortilla chips - 4.29
2lb. No hormone/no antibiotic cheddar cheese - 3.99
3 boxes of butter (no hormone/antibiotic) - 5.00
24-string cheese - 6.00
24 eggs - 4.00
1 gallon organic milk - 5.58
1 lb. organic spring salad mix - 4.99
1 lb. organic spinach - free!
2 lb. organic baby carrots - 3.58

Extras:

B1G1 free croutons - 1.99 (my daughter begged for these, she eats them as a snack)
Dave's Killer Bread; Sprouted wheat - 3.88 (I have to make my bread soon!)

Stockpile Items:

6lbs. organic strawberries - 12.00
1lb. Tahini - 6.99

So for totals, I spent $18.99 from stockpile budget and $51.01 in groceries.  I still have to buy milk, bananas and possibly eggs and salad before the end of the month, so that should be about $20.  I normally don't buy string cheese, but since being pregnant, I wanted to add in some more protein sources.

If I can't reach my average of $100 a month over 3 months, I may reach $120-130, that is still a savings from $150 that we were spending.  I will evaluate everything at the end of this cycle to see how it went, but so far, I'm over-budget for this month.  My goal was to spend $50 on groceries, but I spent $51.01 and then still have about $20 more to go by the end of the month.  That is $20 over budget.  However, if I can save $20 in freezer meals or my stockpile next month, I can make it all even out by the end of the 3-month period - so only time will tell!

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Flowers, Lilac Tree and Bird Feeder

The owner of our rental planted some shrubs and flowers years ago but they have been so small every spring/summer and haven't yielded much in the way of the "wow" factor.  This year they are bigger and they look great and the colors just pop!  Our old lilac tree in the backyard didn't bloom last year from what I remember and we thought it was dead.  I was surprised to see it in full bloom this year and the smell fills the backyard!  We also set up a bird feeder because a nearby tree has loads of tiny birds coming in and out of it and I would love to catch a glimpse of them closer.



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Baby Items Blessing

Some friends of ours blessed us with a lot of baby items they no longer had use for.  We gave them our elliptical that we will have no room for once the baby comes.  I'm so excited because we were going to have to buy a stroller/car seat and now we don't have too and the rest was just added bonuses!  Thank you Lord for the blessings!!



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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Stop Trying to Do it Without God!

This message is for homeschooling mothers but it could also apply to those who send their children to others to be taught.  I've heard a lot of complaints among Christian homeschoolers on how hard it is to homeschool and how things just aren't working out.  Some that have voiced that they knew that God called them to homeschool, have even out of desperation said they are thinking of putting their child into school.  Then, as I try to encourage or offer a word of advice, I'm given something like this: "Well, you are so different because you are organized and self-motivated."  No, I'm sorry that is not it, it isn't in anything that I am!

Upon asking about the Bible curriculum, I'm met with "Well, we don't have any and we don't really read the Bible everyday, we are just trying to get the other subjects done and I don't have TIME to add anything else."  Sorry God but could you just go away?  Can't you see I'm trying to homeschool my child and I don't have time to teach them about you.  After all, I'm protecting them from the public school system that leaves you out and I know you will bless my efforts.  Meanwhile, God is shaking his head as he sees the same "leaving God out" happening in the homes of Christian homeschoolers.

If you don't put God first in your homeschool ladies, you might as well pack it up, sell your curriculum and send them off somewhere to be schooled because you are wasting your time!  If Bible isn't important in your homeschool, then what are you teaching your children?  You sure aren't teaching them that God comes first and how important it is to know His Word!  I personally believe that Bible and prayer should come before other studies every morning.  I don't care if we don't even have time to get to math, as long as I taught my daughter God's Word that day - to me, that is what matters most!

I see the eyes of a girl looking into mine as I teach her about God and her eagerness to know more.  As I was teaching Katie the bible lesson a few weeks ago, she stopped me and said "Mommy, you are planting seeds."  I  was amazed and wondering what she meant.  She went on to tell me I was planting a seed in her and one day she would plant a seed by telling someone else about God or teaching her children.  My heart melted!

Mothers, go plant some seeds this week!  Realize that you are doing one of the highest callings in this world of being a mother and homeschooling your children!  If you try and grow your garden without seeds, you will end up with a bed full of weeds that come in to invade the empty space.  Don't let that empty space be in your children's hearts!  Fill it with God and His Word!!

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Friday, May 11, 2012

$100 a Month Grocery Challenge - Meal Plan

We are nearing the last month of freezer meals for dinners, so I don't have to plan those except for the weekend casseroles, which I do monthly.  I only purchase dinner meals on the 3rd month of my budget cycle, which you can read about here.  I decided to list my plan for breakfast, lunch, snacks and desserts and you can view our dinner meal selection here.

Breakfast
Oatmeal
Egg sandwich
Egg with toast
Pancakes
Scone with jam

Lunch
Bean burrito
PBJ sandwich
Egg salad sandwich

Snacks
Carrots and hummus
Almonds & Yogurt
Popcorn and cheese
Fruit, hard-boiled egg
Shake or smoothie
Pita bread brushed with olive oil
Chips with salsa or refried beans

Desserts
Granola bars
Coffee cakes
Oatmeal cookies
More to come.....

I'm still planning what my weekend casserole meals will be as those are the meals with meat.  We have been doing lasagna twice a month and chicken divan twice a month but we are all tiring of those.  I may try out a taco casserole and chicken enchiladas.

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How to Spend Only $100 a Month on Groceries

I wanted to explain how my budget system works with my meal plan.  With this system, I stockpile and buy enough to make dinner freezer meals for 3 months.  I spend small amounts on certain months and then a large amount the month I buy for my 3-month freezer cooking and keep my stockpile going, which will be next month in June.  It all averages out to $150 a month.  Let me explain:

Month 1 - spend $100
Month 2 - spend $100
Month 3 - freezer cooking shopping/stockpile, spend $250

Average costs of groceries over 3 months = $150 a month

So in order to make it on an average of $100 over 3 months, I will need it to work something like this:

Month 1 - spend $50
Month 2 - spend $50
Month 3 - freezer cooking shopping/stockpile, spend $200

Average costs of groceries over 3 months = $100 a month

I can't really cut down on my stockpile month too much, so that means that the other 2 months are pretty lean.  It is easy to do it on the $150 budget, but will be a challenge on this budget for sure.  I could do $75 for months 1 & 2 and then cut my month 3 down to $150 but I'm not sure I can get that month's food AND 3-months of dinner meals AND keep my stockpile up cutting it that low.  I will see how this month goes and go from there.  Once I get canning going next month, I can can soups, sauces and other things that will lower our budget even more.

The main way I save money is buy making homemade foods - this is not just meals, this is snacks, condiments, bread items and desserts.  Making homemade organic whole wheat bread, pita pockets, pizza dough and on and on is FAR cheaper than buying it from the store, and it tastes better!  This will require a LOT of work on my part but since I'm coming upon my second trimester, they say you get a burst of energy during this trimester and I'm counting on that.

I realized this was a 5-week month, so I'm trying to not do the bulk of my shopping until next week, so I can just purchase for 4 weeks.  I suppose you could call this eating-out-of-the-pantry week.  This also gave me more time to plan.

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First Baby Purchase!

My plan is to buy one big-ticket item each month with the house money I'm saving from my $100 a Month Grocery Challenge.  I have a list of things I know we will need as I used them a lot with Katie, and one of those was a pack-n-play.  I wasn't planning on buying anything yet, but I came upon this Eddie Bauer Complete Care Play-Yard with bassinet and changing table and loved it.  I then saw the price, it was on clearance!  It was also the last one.  I don't care for the plaid and burgundy, but the black was what I was looking for.


I love how the changing table folds down to the side when not in use and also the nightlight, vibrations and songs.  I plan on using the bassinet for the first 3 months before moving the baby to the crib.  I also plan on using the changing table those first few months.

*I also got awesome news, a friend is giving us a stroller/infant car seat combo set!  That is another big-ticket item off our list.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

$100 a Month Grocery Challenge

I'm doing a challenge of living on $100 this month.  This does not include toiletry items like toilet paper, toothpaste, etc., it is just grocery food items.  The reason I'm doing this is because we have spent SO much money on take-out, store-bought bread and convenience items since I was on bed rest for 5 days and also being sick during this pregnancy.  Then our car messed up twice, costing us about $1,500 to fix and it is already having another problem and then the medical bills that I have incurred through this horrific experience are piling on top of all this.  There is more, but those are the major reasons besides - hello, I'm pregnant and we have a baby coming lol.  That alone is expensive!

My new month doesn't start at the beginning of the month, it starts this week, that is just how the paycheck falls and when I get my house money.  This won't be extremely hard for me to manage because we already live off $150 a month with the occasional splurges.  I'm aiming to knock out the splurges and lower the food costs by $50 from what we spend now.  This will take more work for me as I will be whipping up more snacks homemade and get back to baking my bread, but I miss that and am so tired of the store-bought items that don't seem to fill you up!

I will be following some of the ideas from when we lived off $80 a month in 2008 here, with the exception of adding in a few meals of beef and chicken on the weekends.  The meat and cheese will be the most expensive items to purchase, since we buy them organic.  I'm planning everything today and tomorrow and part of Friday and then will do the shopping.  If time permits, I will post my meal plan soon!

My mom has tried to get me to can for years, and after getting tired of paying $2.50 for organic soup, I decided it is time to make my own and can it!  So, I will be starting that up hopefully in June and will try and post the process as I learn!

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

5 Meals for $5 Each for a Family of 5!

I came across this video on youtube and thought you all might benefit from some of these ideas.  Although it isn't organic, these are some great meal ideas.  This man has a family of 5 and each meal he shows is just $5 to make!

*The meals start at around 3:12


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