Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Our poor sweet puppy...

You all know Hank, right?

Well, a few weeks ago our sweet darling puppy was reported to the County Animal Services... we all know how ferocious Hank is, right? Right. (No, he was actually reported for not being on a leash... in the entire 7 1/2 years we've lived in this neighborhood, nobody has ever minded... oh, well.) Don't worry... he's still ours...for days he had to be walked around on a leash...in his own yard (so he wouldn't go on his own daily walk around the neighborhood). But we ALL got tired of that. Imagine not being able to go to the bathroom in private!
So, we went out and bought a new wireless fence...but he has to wear the bad red collar (yes, the zapper colloar). In his head, he must be screaming about the whole deal! (As you see in the picture below)

We think he looks very handsome in his "red collar", but he would rather do without...the poor thing wasn't eating right for the first few days and he would walk around the house just sulking...but now he IS getting used to it. And he DOES seem to enjoy hanging out in the yard again...and getting to relieve himself in private again.
We just keep telling him, it's for his own good...We love you, Hanky- panky! It'll be okay.
~Ladybug

Oh! I think I forgot to mention that we now have a Wii! Come over and play with us some time!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

EX sings The Gospel Song

Enjoy! (For those of you who don't know the words:
Holy God, in love, became
Perfect Man to bear my blame
On the cross He took my sin
By His death I live again)
video

Saturday, February 21, 2009

For the Grandparents...

We love ya'll soooo much! Smooch!
video

Happy Birthday Dad!!

Yesterday was "Baba's" birthday. We love you!!
video

Friday, February 20, 2009

What happens...

...when the Elf gets ahold of the camera on a boring Saturday!



Monday, February 16, 2009

The How and Why of our Deal Shopping

My friend, Lisa, posed a nice question in the comment from the last post.
I love CBEHES...but I need to know if I should do Grocery Game or visit this site and do whatever it says. I really want to serve our family better in this area!

I wanted to post about this, as a few other people have asked questions.

I acutally like the Grocery Game and learned a lot from the Grocery Game myself (click here for info on GG), so to me, it can be worth the money it costs for the service (time = money, sometimes!). The reason I stopped GG, however, is because I figured out how to use those principles the way that best serves OUR family. Since we tend to avoid many processed foods (preferring fresh meats/produce and whole foods and we purchase some whole grains to mill to make our own baked goods), and lots of coupons are often for processed/convenience foods and cleaners upon cleaners, I needed to learn how to apply those money-saving principles for to the foods/things that WE use/like. The posts I read and audio messages I listened to from Moneysavingmom.com tended to speak more to the way our family eats and prefers to shop, so I gravitated that way...and away from GG. Plus, I loved the wise encouragement from a godly perspective offered up from Moneysavingmom.com.

Still, I gleaned what I could from GG (which does make coupon matching and "deal finding" simple for the time-conscience person). The key for me was to not rely on GG (or Moneysavingmom.com, for that matter) only, but to learn from it, and first and foremost, do what I learned from Moneysavingmom.com: i.e. plan our meals, stockpile on deals (coupons + sales or ECBs) and stay within our proposed grocery budget. One nice thing about Moneysavingmom.com - the blog - is that there are posts each week about the best deals that the blog author or other frugal shoppers have found at CVS, Walgreens as well as other fun deals that I'd not know about from GG. And one can find ideas for meal plans, recipes and other ideas. It costs nothing, so I just pop over there when I get on the computer to check email.

Once each week (as I would with GG), ususally on Sunday afternoons or evenings, I'll print out the best deals from CVS and Walgreens (and any other deals I want to know about), I consult the grocery sale flyers that I've saved and reviewed from Wednesdays, match up coupons with sale items and plan then my shopping trip/meals accordingly. Often the coupon or the sale is just not "good enough" and I'll skip it. I'm looking for the BEST deals I can find, for foods and toiletries that we need. Sometimes I'll pop out Sunday evening, with a daughter in tow to help/learn the ropes, to grab a deal or two at CVS, Walgreens and Winn Dixie (each store is within a mile of my house). It's a fun way to spend some time chatting with a daughter, all the while having fun getting great deals. Later, if there are deals that I want to snag at another store (that is not so close), I'l drop by one of those, often combining that trip with another errand. Jim's even been known to hit the grocery store armed with a sale flyer, coupons and a list of specific things to buy. He's out "that way" more than me and is willing to help.

Also, I now only use cash; when it's gone, it's gone, so I'm much stingier about what I spend.

Perhpas the best thing, and I've since discovered how key this is, the way I approach grocery shopping and meal planning or meal making has changed. Instead of thinking "what do I want to buy to cook (i.e. what sounds good??)?" I first think, "Let's see what's on sale or what might be a good deal at the store." I also take a quick inventory of what I've got already. THEN, I think, "hmmm...what can I make that's yummy from these ingredients." I try to plan my meals before I shop so that I'm keeping within our budgeting and health goals. OR, if I've not planned the meals yet (because I know I've got the makings of LOTS of stuff in the freezer/pantry/fridge because of great deals/sales/coupons/stockpiling) then when I go to the store I'll only purchase great deals. I don't buy anything retail price anymore unless I'm desperate for it (not like, OH, I NEED some ice cream-desperate! Rather we're out of milk-desperate!) We've not gone without anything yummy (or healthy, for that matter) AND we've tried some new things, which add to our repertoire of meals/snacks. We only buy fruit and veggies that are in season (or just on sale good), and we stock up and enjoy those then...when they're freshest, or at least most plentiful and cheap.

So the most prevelant "transformation of thinking" for me has been instead of looking to serve myself first (what do I want to buy/eat/use), I'm trying to be a better steward of what's available (looking to what God has provided for me...via what I have or what's on sale/good deal OR what to do without...) and to be grateful for that. Just as with all things, when I trust Him and His provision and I'm blessed beyond what I can imagine.

So, finally, to answer your question, I think GG is a good option to learn or begin to develop an eye for good prices, how to combine sales and coupons, but I'd not rely upon it. I still recommend even more (to help you transform the way you THINK) Supermarket Savings 101 at Moneysavingmom.com.

Saving money for your family takes time, and energy. But just like anything "worth it," it is an investment and it's one that my husband and I decided was best for us. I am grateful that I'm investing in something that is serving my husband and daughters and by God's grace, will continue to teach me to rely upon Him and His provision and to be grateful for His blessings.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Reformed

The other day, Joe (EX) bounded up to me, with "pack-pack" and Tiger (AKA "24") in tow, and said (okay, so she whined), "Mooooommmmmmmm. I wanna go shopping. We go to CB-eh-eS?" (Translation: CVS).

Hmmm...used to, when we left the house, it was, "We going to Wal-mark?"

It's official. We've both been reformed. We're "CB-eh-eS" junkies.



If you've not joined in the great shopping at CVS with ECBs, are you missin' the fun! I've been tackling not only CVS, but, by Gods grace, also our mountainous grocery/toiletry budget. By seeking God's help, revisiting sound wisdom (in the form of an e-course called Supermarket Savings 101, as well as some neat podcasts and articles on the sidebar) found over at Moneysavingmom.com, faithfully planning meals, clipping coupons, and planning my grocery/toiletry shopping according to what's on sale, our spending is down 33%. Now that's fun!

I highly recommend the e-course for young ladies (and old!). You'll be reminded of those common sense things you know serve you and your family, but also, you might be introduced to some neat ways you can save some money and have fun shopping in these lean times. I know I have enjoyed the inspiration!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

On your mark, get set....

Go!

Are you ready to run (or walk) the mini-Marathon? It's a whopping 2.62 miles, and it's Ladybug's creation.

Join us on Saturday, March 21st, rain or shine, for a fun, family event in beautiful Niceville. Registraion fee is $10 per runner/walker or max of $20 per family, and includes a nifty t-shirt for the individual (or two for the family), post-race refreshments, door prizes and awards. Or, if you don't care to have the t-shirt, the fee to enter is just $5. Registration forms will be sent out via email, or are available per your request.

Check out the original design of the "mini-Marathon" t-shirt on the sidebar.

How cool is that Ladybug????

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Have you seen...

my ipod? It looks something like this:



Can't find it. It's been gone since right around New Year's Day.

If you see one lying around, and it is with a cute little black pouch....that's the one that Ladybug knitted in which I could keep it.

Sigh.

It sure is boring on those bouts of jogging I've not been doing.

Sigh again.