Sunday, November 30, 2008

Grace

Grace
A Novel
by: Richard Paul Evans
You can not go wrong with a book by Richard Paul Evans. I found his new book Grace at the library this week. It is a moving story about a young man and a girl whom he befriends. This is why I love reading, because of books like Grace. This book is heartbreaking, yet also hopeful. Look for this book at the library or add it to your Christmas list. Just have some tissues handy when you read it!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday Shopping

Desperate times call for desperate actions. Well, we are not really in desperate financial straits, but money is tight enough that it was worth it for me to venture out early Friday to snag some deals. My first item I wanted to get was at Toys R Us. Caleb saw the Lego Trade Federation MTT (Star Wars) a few weeks ago and asked for it. I told him I didn't think we would be able to get it because it cost $99. So when I saw that Toys R Us had it for $59, I knew that I needed to try for it. Toys R Us also had all Aqua Raiders Lego Sets for 50% off. I woke up Friday at 4:00, got dressed, and made it to Toys R Us at 4:30. The line reached all the way around to the back of the parking lot. I was pretty disappointed when I saw the line. I didn't think I would be able to get what I wanted. At 5:00 a.m. they opened the door and I made it in. I went straight to the big Star Wars display at the front of the store and there on the shelf was the Trade Federation set. I grabbed it and went to the Lego aisle. I found only two Aqua Raider sets left and I quickly grabbed one. I headed over to check out and I didn't have to wait in line at all. I purchased my Lego sets and made it to the car by 5:15 a.m. I couldn't believe how easy it was. A few things that helped me was that the Lego sets are in the front of the store, and that I wasn't getting any video games. The video game section was packed with people.

Feeling confidant I drove over to Walmart. Yes, Walmart. The Walmart here is always crowded, but I thought I should at least try. I drove around the back of the parking lot and parked near the automotive area, and walked around by the lawn and garden area. I went inside and grabbed a cart. My goal at Walmart was the Razor Freestyle 20" Bicycle and Helmet for $50. Caleb has needed a new bike for a while now and we wanted to get him one for Christmas. I also wanted to pick up the Hot Wheels Mega City Pack for $20 and the Play Doh Canister for $10. I turned right to head to the toys and I couldn't go anywhere. There were carts everywhere and no one was moving. I decided to ditch my cart and walk around the back of the health and beauty aisles. I made it to the lawn and garden section where all the bikes were. I saw about 15 Razor bikes (in boxes), but I had no cart. I walked around looking for a cart, but I couldn't find one. Then I saw a lady checking out in lawn and garden and she gave me her cart. I walked back over to the Razor bikes and now there were only about 5 left. I put one in the cart and got in the checkout line in lawn and garden. While in line, I noticed a pallet of the Hot Wheels toy down the main aisle. The lady behind me watched my cart and kept my place in line while I ran down there and grabbed one. I came back and was able to check out in about ten minutes. They had a worker letting us out of the lawn and garden entrance, so I didn't have to go back inside and fight the crowds. Walmart's electronic section looked really crazy- with people everywhere. I know that Walmart had some great prices on other items, but I didn't feel like fighting the crowd all through the store. I was happy with my two items. I did forget about the play doh, but that's okay.

I decided to try one more store. Our HEB Plus had a 12" boys bike on sale for $24.88 (regular price- $44.88). Luke needed a bike as well. He doesn't have a bike, he only has a tricycle and he has gotten good at pedaling it. So time for a bike. I pulled into HEB and walked in. It wasn't too crowded. I walked all around, but I couldn't find a bike anywhere. I saw three HEB workers standing together and I decided to go ask them where the bikes were. When I asked them, they said, "Right here." Behind them was a pallet of bikes, and they only had a few left of the size we wanted for Luke. I grabbed it and went to check out.

I headed home and made it to the house at 6:15 a.m. I had visited three stores and got five really good deals! I couldn't believe it. As my Dad would say, "It was the God factor."

Toys R Us
Lego Trade Federation MTT
Regular Price $99.99 Black Friday Price $59.99
Saved 40%

Lego Aqua Raiders Tiger Shark Attack
Regular Price $29.99 Black Friday Price $14.99
Saved 50%

Walmart
Razor Freestyle 20" Bike and Helmet
Price of similar bike at Toys R Us $79.99 w/out helmet
Black Friday Price $50.00
Saved over 38%

Hot Wheels Mega City Pack
3 city sets in 1 (one set usually runs $12 to $17)
Black Friday Price $20
Saved over 38%

HEB
Huffy 12" Boys Bike
Regular Price $44.88
Black Friday Price $24.88
Saved 44%

More fun with Cousins!












Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my family and friends- you are what I am most thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

For Julie

We have had some special visitors. Probably the boys favorite visitors. Grannie, PawPaw and Camryn and Kaylin have come for a quick visit. The girls are so much fun! We are having a great time. Today the kids played outside most of the day while PawPaw and Grannie helped us get some much needed hurricane repairs done around the house. Thanks so much Mom and Dad! You all are a blessing to us!












Saturday, November 22, 2008

Random Moments of Joy

On Thursday, the boys made a fun turkey craft. We traced their hands and feet and cut them out. We used the foot prints for the body of the turkey and glued the hands to the back of the turkey. Next year we can do another one and see how much the turkey has grown.




I love this huge smile on Caleb's face!


Aaron and Luke usually have cereal for breakfast. Friday morning we were out of milk so I decided to make biscuits and oatmeal. When I opened the bag of biscuits, I was delighted to find an extra one! 13 biscuits in the bag of 12! Bonus!





Next the oatmeal. I have made oatmeal one other time in my married life and Aaron could barely eat it- it was so bad. This wouldn't be such a big deal except that he always talks about when he was growing up his mom would make the best oatmeal. Well, I made the man his oatmeal and he liked it. In fact he ate two bowls of it! After 12 years of marriage, I can finally make oatmeal!


After breakfast, Luke proceeded to change halfway out of his pajamas. He loves these red shorts and would wear them every day if he could. And Luke loves any colored or patterned pair of socks. He picked out these socks to wear with his red shorts. When I saw him I just had to take a picture.








Then, Luke and Caleb decided to jump every time I took a picture.

The jumping moved to the couch.


These boys fill my life with joy!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

He's a Brown Belt

On Saturday Caleb had testing for his brown belt. Testing is a big deal. Caleb had to do the senior blue belt form, do his kicking and punching drills, and do free sparring. Testing is held at the local high school and one side of the gym is usually filled up with spectators. Around 15 instructors watch the kids and decide if they are going to pass or not.



Wednesday night was the awards ceremony and as you can see Caleb was awarded his brown belt. In the picture it looks black, but it is brown.
He has these belts left until black:
senior brown
red
senior red
and the goal- black.
We are proud of you Caleb! The black belt is getting closer!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saving money on Groceries

I am really trying to save money on groceries. The next year will be a challenging time for us and I have a goal to spend $150 a week on food, including groceries and eating out. I am not making it yet. Money Saving Mom spends only $40 a week on groceries for a family of four! I don't know how she does it, but I am trying to get there.

Here are some ways I am saving money:

1. Use Coupons. Kroger triples coupons up to .39 and doubles coupons up to .50. You may think this is not a big deal, but if you use coupons it adds up.

2. Sign up for E-coupons. I love these! Two sites shortcuts.com and cellfire.com offer e-coupons. You register your Kroger card and then load coupons to your card. Then when you purchase one of the items it comes off of the order and shows up on your receipt. And if you have a paper coupon you can use an e-coupon with it.

For example: shortcuts.com has an e-coupon for $.50 off of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. There was a coupon in Sunday's paper for $.35 off of Crescent Rolls. At my Kroger, Crescent Rolls were on sale for $1.50. With the triple coupon and the e-coupon, I made $.05 off of those Crescent Rolls.

There are even e-coupons for Kroger meat. I got a pound of Kroger ground beef for $.75, by using an e-coupon for it.

It is worth the time to sign up for e-coupons.

3. Make a meal plan. I do so much better when I have our meals all planned out. I keep my meal plan out on the counter. It is wonderful to already know in the morning what I will be cooking for dinner. I look at my Kroger ad and plan my meals around what is on sale. I used to just go to the store whenever I had a chance, without looking at the sale paper, and I didn't keep up with my coupons and basically threw money away.

4. Have a stockpile. I am trying to buy extra food when it is on sale and freeze it. Kroger a lot of times will put chicken breasts, pork chops, or even steak on sale but it is usually in the family pack size. I can usually divide the family pack up into two meals.

5. No wasting. This is the hard one for me. I am trying to waste no food. What does this mean? I am trying to not throw any food away in the garbage that we could have eaten. We save all leftovers and try to eat it up. I am trying to watch what fresh fruits and vegetables I have on hand and make sure I use or freeze them before they spoil. I am even saving the leftover veggies from our dinners to try and make a vegetable soup at the end of the week. I have a lot room to grow on this one.

6. Use the crockpot. Every Monday I have been using the crockpot. On Mondays the boys and I are worn out from our day at Co-op and I never feel like cooking. It is such a good feeling to walk in our door and smell our yummy food. This helps us with the temptation to say, "What are we going to eat?" And the answer being Sonic.

7. Eating out once a week. I just can't cook on Fridays. Fridays just don't seem like Fridays if I cook. :) Friday is our eating out day and we are trying to limit our eating out to only that night.

Here are some great resources to help you save money on groceries, too.

Money Saving Mom
My Penny Pile
$5 Dinners
A Year of Crockpotting
Thrifty Florida Mom
Five in the Potter's Hand This family of five's monthly food budget is $200!
The Full Table
Grocery Cart Challenge

Fall Family Night

Last night was our family night at Co-op. Caleb's art and history projects were on display. Then the kids performed "A Salute to Veterans". Caleb represented the Coast Guard.

One song the students sang was the Armed Forces Medley. All of the different branches of the military were represented by the kids. They came out and saluted during their song and the preschool class came out in vehicles matching the branch. Lukey was an army ambulance.

While the kids sang "Thank You Military" all of the veterans come up to the front and they were given medals that the kids had helped to make. It was so touching to see five and six year old kids presenting medals to our older veterans.

It was a great evening! Caleb and Luke did a great job!

















Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thanksgiving Books

Some of our favorite Thanksgiving books:

Fat Chance Thanksgiving by: Patricia Lakin
A girl wants to have a big Thanksgiving feast, but her mom says there is a fat chance of that happening.


This is the Turkey by: Abby Levine
This book will bring a smile to your face.


Franklin's Thanksgiving by: Paulette Bourgeois
Franklin's grandparents can't make it to his house for Thanksgiving, and he thinks he will not have any guests. But Franklin is in for a surprise on Thanksgiving.


Arthur's Thanksgiving by: Marc Brown
Arthur's class is putting on a Thanksgiving play and no one wants to be the turkey. What will Arthur do?
Molly's Pilgrim by: Barbara Cohen
As Molly nears her first Thanksgiving in America, she doesn't find much to be thankful for. But Molly soon gets help in finding a place for herself in America.


How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story by: Eve Bunting
A story about a family who is forced to flee their home, and when they arrive in America it is Thanksgiving.



The Squirrels' Thanksgiving by: Steven Kroll
This is one of our favorites. The squirrel family spends Thanksgiving with their aunt and uncle and cousins. When the cousins misbehave it almost ruins Thanksgiving.



Oh, What a Thanksgiving! by: Steven Kroll
We either got this book from Mom or from a garage sale. It is from 1988 and may be hard to find. We love it.
A boy is disappointed in his Thanksgiving and thinks it would have been much more exciting to be at the first Thanksgiving.


For more great Thanksgiving books visit Catherine's blog here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Favorite Things

I thought I would share with you some of my favorite things at the moment.

1. Pumpkin Egg Nog. I had never seen this before today. We bought some today and Luke and I both had some as soon as we got home.

2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society This book is well written, interesting, and original.


3. I am loving my crockpot lately. I have tomorrow's dinner ready to be put on in the morning. I love this cookbook, too.

4. 24 Season 5. I know we are a little behind. Some family members got Aaron and I hooked on 24. We are almost done with Season 5. I think it is the best season yet.

5. My new robe I got for $1 from a yard sale.



6. Masala Tea. A friend went to Africa, yes Africa, and brought this back for me. I love to drink it while wearing my cheetah robe.


7. And my most favorite. Brothers who want to sleep together tonight.