Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lots of Snow Days!

Today is Snow Day #2 - tomorrow's school has already been cancelled too! Even Tommie's work cancelled today, so we all had a chance to hang out at home together & play in the snow. Yesterday, we received a lot of freezing rain which created a sheet of ice, then it snowed a couple of inches on top of that. Everything outside is frozen and beautiful!

This was taken during the freezing rain portion of our weather...
We have spotlights that shine up at the front of our house. I thought this pic of our frozen rose bush was interesting - lit up by the spotlight...
The puppies don't seem to mind the cold at all. They will play in the snow for hours! And usually end up with snow mustaches... those Beagle noses just can't stay out of trouble!
The front of our house - I was taking this photo, thinking about how cold my feet were getting... then I looked down & realized I was standing in a huge puddle of freezing water that was along the curb. I couldn't tell where I was, because of all of the snow! Brrr...

Truman - playing his favorite game in the snow: FOOTBALL!

Our gates were all frozen shut, so we were trapped in the back yard...

Harrison & I decided to go sledding, so the rest of the family climbed over the fence to join us!
The boys enjoyed picking all of the icicles off of mailboxes & garbage cans throughout the neighborhood, starting spontaneous sword fights...Our mailbox had some really pretty icicles... The boys said it looked like a girl mailbox, because of the long "hair".We trekked across the bean field in search of the large hill you can see in the background. Sledding... here we come!

Unfortunately, there was a large creek in between us and the hill. It was too large for the boys to cross without getting very wet!So, we hiked all the way along the creek back to the road and back into our neighborhood. It was quite a long hike and by the time we were done, we decided to save sledding for another day!We saw a lot of frozen trees & bushes along the way...Some beautiful scenery...We returned home to throw the wet clothes into the dryer and sip on hot chocolate to warm up! We all love SNOW DAYS! Tomorrow... we'll search for the perfect sledding hill!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January Challenge: Update #4

Whew! Our final Sunday without eating out... We survived!! I still have to make it until next Saturday, but that will be a piece of cake! Yesterday, I did 30 Day cooking with a friend again, so that should make this week super-easy! I've got 28 meals in my freezer just waiting to be eaten. For lunch after church today, we ate lasagna. I stopped at Wal-Mart to get garlic bread (couldn't take up freezer space prior to cooking day) and fresh lettuce. My grade for our 4th Sunday without eating out: A- I cannot give myself an A, because of the stop at Wal-Mart. :)

I'm already trying to figure out what February's challenge will be. We need to stay on the saving money trend, so I'm thinking maybe a modified version of January's challenge... I'll keep you posted!

Baby Johnny

Last week, I had the opportunity to babysit my friend Natalie's new baby. He's about 1 month old in these pics. I love newborns. They are so warm & soft and sweet as can be! You have to savor the newborn stage as much as possible, because it doesn't last nearly long enough...

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Snow Day

Last Monday (I know... I'm a bit behind!), the boys had a day off from school. We had about 1-2 inches of snow, but the roads were really slick - so they got a day off! Franklin & Truman enjoyed playing around in the snow together...

Monday, January 19, 2009

January Challenge: Update #3

Well, this challenge seems to get easier & easier. I'm learning how to plan ahead & how to not give in to the temptation of ordering in or grabbing fast food when I'm in a pinch. Self-discipline is not one of my strong suits, so this really has been a challenge for me. I'm all set on coffee - McDonalds is trying to steal all Starbucks' business, so they sent me coupons for 8 (yep, EIGHT) FREE drinks. And, I still have about $16 on my Starbucks gift card. I don't think I'll be spending money on coffee anytime soon! Thanks, McD!

Sundays continue to be my biggest challenge. Yesterday, I was planning to make pot roast with veggies in the crock pot. Well, I got up and about around 8:30 a.m. and headed downstairs to put the roast into the crockpot... and I realized that I had thrown it into the freezer earlier in the week (since I have a tendency to buy meat & let it go bad before I cook it!). So, we needed to eat lunch in 4 hours and the meat was frozen. Nice! I thawed it most of the way in the microwave, then threw everything into the pot and turned it on high. Let me back up, while I was cutting the meat, I noticed that they had "tricked" me by making the meat on top look very lean, but the underside was about 1/4 inch thick fat. I had a heck of a time trying to even cut the meat. So, it should have been no surprise at 1:00 p.m. that the meat was not tender.

Anyway, we ended up eating Spaghetti-O's and chips for lunch. Then, after the boys' Cub Scout program at the Y ended, we ate our pot roast dinner (approximately 8:00 p.m.). After 4 hours in the crockpot on high and an additional 7 on low, the meat turned out fine. I mixed up some brown gravy and it was a pretty yummy dinner. I'm glad we waited to eat it until it was yum.

The grade I give myself for our 3rd Sunday without eating out: A-

One of these days, I'll figure out how to have a yummy home cooked meal immediately following church. Either that, or the challenge will end and I'll finally be free to pay someone else to cook a nice meal for us!! ha, ha

Tonight, I made a chicken pot pie - WITHOUT A RECIPE. If you know me (at all), you know this is nothing short of a miracle. I don't like to cook. I don't cook much (at least pre-January '09). And I certainly don't cook without a recipe. And every member of my family liked it!! Miracles never cease...

This Saturday brings another day of cooking with my friend, Paula! We're going to do the 30 Day cooking thing again... so this Sunday lunch should be the easiest yet, right?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

100 Day Celebration

Tomorrow is 100 Day for Truman's Kindergarten class. They were required to choose an item and use 100 of it to construct something or make a design out of it. For past 100 Day projects (for Franklin & Harrison), they were simply required to bring in 100 of an item. Constructing something required a bit more creativity. Truman insisted on using money. First, he wanted to use quarters... I said no. We finally settled on pennies. He counted out his 100 pennies, making 10 rows of 10 pennies. Then, we discussed what he wanted to build & how. He chose a house. It was really fun to build & I think it turned out pretty well in the end. I think it resembles a log cabin that someone dripped honey on... See for yourself!

Monday, January 12, 2009

January Challenge: Update #2

The challenge is going well so far. Yesterday, I almost caved. I had intended to run to the grocery store before church to pick up a side dish for lunch, but forgot all about it. Right before we went to church, I grabbed some fish & fruit salad out of the freezer. After church, I was feeling a little bummed about the fact that my kids hate the fish & I didn't have a lot to offer them to go along with it. (Part of my challenge of "being good" with our finances includes cutting back on the grocery budget, so our pantry was a little light. I had not shopped with Tommie's check from Friday yet.)

Anyway, our choices were to stop by Wal-Mart and grab some things (at 1:00 on Sunday afternoon with hungry kids in the car). Or, grab some fast food and go home to eat it (to save money from buying drinks). We were discussing which restaurant to get food from. And, Tommie said that he really didn't mind waiting in the car, if I wanted to run into Wal-Mart. I felt like a planning failure, but I knew I would be more upset with myself if I ruined the challenge because I didn't plan out lunch.

We stopped at Wal-Mart and ate a really nice meal at home. We had raspberry tilapia, bread, mac n cheese, and frozen fruit salad. Yippee!

I've got room for improvement, that's for sure!! So... the grade I give myself for the 2nd Sunday without eating out: B

I also sort-of cheated on Friday morning. (My friend Marsha says it wasn't really cheating...) We met at the Y to work out, then went to Starbucks for coffee (with my gift card). I had not eaten yet and get really shaky if I drink coffee and work out with no food in my tummy. So, I used my gift card to buy a slice of bread. Technically, it was not money out of our budget! However, it could have been avoided by grabbing a granola bar before I left the house.

Saturday evening was a victory! Tommie & the boys were going to the Monster Truck Rally and I was having people over to scrapbook. Instead of getting the house dirty by eating supper at home (after cleaning all day), they would have gotten fast food. I had an opportunity to eat at a restaurant with the girls ahead of time also. But NO! We prevailed and ate at home.

Accountability is good for the soul. I think I'm doing pretty well so far... Day 12 and I have not spent a dime out of our budget at a restaurant. :)

Monster Truck Rally

On Saturday evening, Tommie took the boys to a Monster Truck Rally. I had already invited friends over to scrapbook, so they had a boys' night out while I had a girl's night in. They had a great time!! Can you tell?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sunday, January 4, 2009

January Challenge: Update #1

Well, today was the first Sunday for as long as I can remember that we did not eat out after church. On the way home, Harrison demanded to know why we had to eat at home today. How do you explain crazy notions to a 7 year old? I grabbed a package of frozen soup out of the freezer this morning before I went to church (at 7:00 a.m.) and asked Tommie to throw it into the crockpot for me. No work necessary. Unfortunately, it was too frozen to cook thoroughly before we ate at 1:00 p.m. Bummer! So, we ate side dishes and lots of salad. I'll throw the soup into the oven on another day and cook it thoroughly before we eat it again!

Grade for my first Sunday without eating out: D

I'm also bummed because I didn't look at the calendar before I started out on this challenge. There are FIVE Sundays in January - NO FAIR! lol

This morning at church, the boys learned about resourcefulness. The definition they were given: "using what you have to get the job done". I suppose you could directly relate that to the concept of not eating out. Using what you have, rather than buying something else. Or utilizing the income that you have wisely. Somehow, I think this challenge will not be painless, but I do know that it is good for my family and I love a good challenge! I leave you with the verse the boys learned today:

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." ~Colossians 3:23

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Challenge

I loved the idea of my friend Stacy's 25 days of December challenge. By publicly proclaiming that I was going to do the challenge, I was held accountable to follow through. Now that the dust has settled from Christmas and the sale/purchase of our home, I'm feeling the pinch of our new income - bad! So, I'm trying to find ways to cut back. When Tommie & I discussed where all of our extra money went - he said "to the local eating establishments". As much as I don't like to admit that, it's true. We normally eat out every Sunday after church, but more & more often - we find ourselves grabbing a quick bite while running errands, or ordering in food when pinched for time. Plus, we enjoy ordering pizza at least every other week. Well, it adds up - FAST!

My new challenge for myself: not eating out for the entire month of January.

Can I do it? I'm not sure. But, I know that my chance of success is much greater simply by posting it on my blog.

Be sure to follow along with me as I struggle through an entire month of figuring out how to cook at home for every meal. I don't think that I've ever cooked a meal for after church. Ever. I'm not promising that we won't eat cereal or frozen meals - I just want to see how much money we can actually save by resisting the temptation to eat out. Frozen pizza (no matter what brand) is cheaper than ordering delivery. (By the way, my Starbucks gift card does not count against me! It's not cash out of my pocket!!) :)

Until February, goodbye Sonic Happy Hour, goodbye McDonalds with Truman, goodbye Sunday lunch, goodbye pizza delivery, goodbye mom's night out... I will miss you, but my checkbook will not!

(If you would like to join my challenge, please post a comment. I don't expect anyone in their right mind to join me, but who knows! I thought I'd throw it out there!!)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome 2009!

Now that the 1st day of a new month and a new year has dawned, I'm left pondering... quickly time passes.
...the resolutions that will not be made.
...what was accomplished in 2008.
...what hopes & dreams I have for 2009.
...that 12 years ago today, Tommie asked me to marry him. different life is on 1/1/09 as compared to 1/1/08. seemingly big decisions are dwarfed in the light of eternity.

I'm thankful to be who I am, where I am and with the people I am with. And, in my opinion, that's a pretty good way to start out the year! Every two or three weeks, I find myself searching for new resolve to kick bad habits and start new good habits... so there's no need to make a "new year" resolution. I simply need to resolve to not let a whole year go by without reassessing my habits and behaviors, goals and dreams!

Here are some pics of my boys from our New Year's Eve celebration at home. Franklin stayed up until around 11:00, but both Harrison & Truman made it until right after midnight!