Monday, January 24, 2011

Story of Us: Part 3

It was August 26, 2001. 

The day came sooner than I thought it would.  Oh, how nervous I was.  I wanted to be late.  I did NOT want to have to talk to "this guy" before I absolutely had to.  How was I going to handle this?  I took my sweet time getting ready for church.  Late. Late Late.  I needed to be late.  Really.

We drove slowly. I wasn't normal.  This couldn't be normal.  I was way to nervous about meeting this new email friend of mine.  Way to nervous.  It wasn't like we "met" on the internet.  We were set up for communication over the internet, but this was too weird for me.  Meeting some 24 year old guy.  He was too old for me.  I was sure he was a nice guy and all that, but 24-year-old's aren't looking to be friends with some girl who lives 200+ miles away from where he lived. Were they?

We drove into the parking lot.  There was his truck.  The only red F150 in the lot.  Oh my oh my!  He's here, I thought.  I was cool as a cucumber. Yeah right. Then, I walked into the church.  I had known he led singing, but I wasn't expecting him to be leading singing in my church.  But there he was.  Standing in the front of the church, song book in hand, singing.  Wow.  He sure can sing.

I'd forgotten that I was still wearing my sunglasses.  Gasp. There he was.  I couldn't breathe.  I couldn't move.  Oh my. I think my heart stopped for a second. I slipped my glasses up on top of my head.  He looked up at me, and our eyes met for the first time.  I'll never forget the look on his face in that moment.

He knew I'd walked in.  There was a little smile, and I sat down.  My life changed in that moment. I thought I knew how my life was going to play out.  I had plans.  I thought I knew what I wanted, but God began to change my heart that day.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Grocery Savings

Total before sales/coupons:  $55.73
Total after: $8.67
(Mascara, eye liner, blush, concealer, foundation, and 3 bottles of nail polish-Brands L'Oreal and Revlon)

Total before sales/coupons: $93.62
Total after: $44.43
(Stocked up on 4- Finish dish detergent, 6- Kleenex boxes, 13- canned veggies and tomatoes, apples, bananas, lettuce, peppers, 2- apple juices, 1- V8 Fusion juice, 1- grape jam, 2- cookie dough packs, 3- Ore Ida hashbrowns packs, 1 bag of tortilla chips, and 2- packs of cheese)

Total before sales/coupons: $27.29
Total after: $9.02
(Two large bottles of ketchup, Marvel Comic gummie vitamins, Disney Princess vitamins, Mac and Cheese, ID coffee creamer-16 oz., and 2 60ct boxes of Band-Aids)

Grand total: $176.64
Total Out of Pocket: $62.12
65% savings

I do not purchase items I do not use unless I know someone who can use an item I can purchase for free.

Please bear in mind that I still need to purchase nighttime diapers/pull-ups for my children who still need them, and I don't think anywhere can beat the Wal-Mart generic price this week.  And I will run by Kroger one more time to purchase 4 gallons of milk and pick up any markdowns at some point this week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Two Sets of Babies...and they're not babies anymore.

People, mainly strangers, tend to ask on a regular basis if all of my children are mine.  It used to bother me, but not anymore.  It is a rude question, to be sure, but it really doesn't bother me anymore.  They are such a blessing in our lives.  They are close in age, but with any age gap, there are advantages and disadvantages. 

 I love it because it's what we have.  I don't know any other age gap.  My boys are 18 months apart, and my girls are 16 months apart.  And the boys and girls are 26 months apart. 

There were days that all I wanted to do was sit down and cry with them, but there were/are also days when I realized what a blessing it is that they have one another.  (There are still days I want to lock myself in the bathroom and cry with an overwhelmed heart when I feel like I can't keep up.)   But they are all together.  They love each other.  They really do, and they act like it most of the time.

I'll tell you what I tell people.  I couldn't have planned it any better if I'd have tried.  And that is the truth.  I am thankful, and I love my children with the fierceness of a mama bear.  That is also the truth. 

Good days.  Bad days.  Busy days.  Boring days. And crazy days.  I am thankful to get the opportunity to be with them. I'm thankful to be able to be there.  Day in and day out.  I am thankful.  Truly.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside...but not in the refrigerator...

Saturday, our fridge was very obviously not working correctly.  The ice was melting out the door.  I froze everything that could be frozen and was able to rescue most of what we had that was costly...dairy, meat, etc.  Deron cleaned and worked and vaccuumed and worked and cleaned some more.  It is one large fridge, and it was tricky to clean and work with. 

Everything was working again.  Nice cold freezer producing ice and the fridge was nice and cold, too. It was such a blessing that he got it going again.  We were researching best refrigerators...which stores had the best can we stretch our dollar the furthest as we were going to be purchasing an expensive home appliance Sunday afternoon had it not begun to work.  We didn't know for sure it was working until Sunday morning.

Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon.  There was a puddle on the floor in front of the freezer door.  Our ice was melting.  Great.  I hadn't filled the freezer back from over the weekend, thank goodness.  But it was officially not working.  Everything was still cold since we hadn't been opening and shutting the door all day.  Saved what I could.

I called Deron to tell him.  He suspected it wouldn't last and was talking about it with some friends.  One of which said he had a fridge that worked fine in his garage.  We could have it if we came and picked it up.  Deron could come take a look, and if we wanted it, it was ours.  He called to tell me about it, and I told him that I didn't care what it looked like, if it worked.  What a blessing!

If Deron hadn't gotten ours going for a couple of days, we would have bought a new one Sunday.  We would have never known about this one from a friend.  We did not want to have to purchase a new one right now.  Later but not now.  I am very thankful.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Story of Us: Part 2

I can barely remember back so far, but Deron emailed me.  I remember thinking to myself, "We're just going to be friends."  {yeah, right} I had plans.  Grand plans that I knew were going to happen because I knew practically everything.  I had just graduated high school. So I was somewhat know, biggest when first hatched.  I'm so embarrassed at the know-it-all I was back then.

We emailed back and forth, and he tried desperately to get me to give him my phone number.  But there was no way I was giving my number out to some guy I didn't really know.  Thus, Deron was intrigued, and I was unwittingly playing hard to get.  I didn't know that's what I was doing.  I was just going to be friends with him.  Seriously.

But truth be told, I was intrigued, as well.  Why else would I continue emailing and checking my email a hundred times a day if I wasn't?  I didn't actually want to be intrigued.  I wanted to be indifferent to my new found friend.  But finally the day came when he asked if he could come meet me at my church.  "Whoa!"  Butterflies.  "What should I say?"  Of course he could drive the 200+ miles to meet me.  I suppose...

At church the two weeks before he was supposed to travel to meet me, I was chatting with the ladies about how Deron would be coming to meet me soon.

Then came several "ooooohhhhhs" and "aaaahhhhs."

"We are just friends," I said to them, completely convinced that this would be the case.  {because people who are "just" friends travel four plus hours to chat face to face for a little while. mmmhmmm)

"Sure you are.  You'll probably marry him..." came the prophetic response.

A few days before Deron was supposed to come, he had decided to back out since I, obiviously, was not interested.  He got on his computer, typed an email about how he wasn't going to be able to make it.  Then, he pressed send.

What? No internet connection. Riiiinnnggg. Back in the days of dial-up, a phone call had interrupted his connection.

It was his sister-in-law calling to tell him that she'd spoken with a lady from my church about how excited I was to meet him...{hahahaha} So he changed his mind and decided to make the trip after all...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Grocery Savings

Sales trip to Publix:
Before coupons/sales: $34.52
Total out of pocket: $9.50

We've been "snowed in"... sort of, and I haven't been to the store since Sunday.  I went by CVS on the way home from church, but both of our local stores were out of what I wanted to purchase.  If I can get out before the weekly sale is over, I will check again.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Days

Sunday night, the radar said we were supposed to be getting snow, and there was nothing... nothing... nothing.  Then, around 8:00 or 9:00, we heard it.  Snow and ice were coming down, and they were sticking immediately.  Deron's office has been closed for three days, but he's put in just as many hours from home as he puts in when he goes into the office. 
It snowed all night and into the morning hours.  We got almost eight inches!  And it was beautiful on Monday.  Now, it has mixed with our red, Georgia clay, and it's not as pretty.  Last year we got about six inches, but I don't know if I've ever seen so much snow.  It came up my leg when I stepped down into it.

We spent Monday having snowball fights, thawing out, making snow castles, thawing out, sliding down the snow, and thawing out.  I'm not made for this cold weather.  I've had enough of it. :-)  I did let the kids take off school Monday except for devotionals, but we did our school lessons yesterday. We made our own little sled of sorts, and it was so fun going down the hill in our front yard except for the ice layer on top of the snow.  It's almost razor-ish without mittens.

It was especially beautiful before we all tramped around in it.  And even with the tramping, the front yard is beautiful, but the backyard is where we send our dogs.  There's yellow snow everywhere...among other things.  And Beau acts like he wants to go out, and then, he takes one look at the icy deck and carries himself back into the garage.  Deron has had to pick him up and make him go out.

If you've been in our neighborhood, you know that we are technically snowed in.  Our roads are at a fairly steep incline, so we might could get out if there was an emergency, but we couldn't get back in.  I've seen a few idiots curious people sliding driving around our neighborhood and one guy on a motorcycle.  I saw one neighbor leave yesterday morning, and his vehicle hasn't come back.  The temperatures aren't supposed to get above freezing for a few more days, so even if some snow melts on the roads, it will turn back into ice overnight.  Dangerous.

I stay at home and homeschool my kids all the time and enjoy it, so the only thing that is difficult for me is not having the option to go anywhere.  We normally go to karate class, the library, the store, the bank, the post office...routine places, but places nonetheless.  We get out of the house, a little each week, and not being able to go anywhere is giving everyone cabin fever.  We are so spoiled, I must say... :-)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

3 ¾ cups flour
1 to1 ½ cups of sugar, depending on how sweet you like your muffins
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
2 eggs
 2 ¼ cups mashed bananas
1 cup yogurt
 1 cup oil
2 t. vanilla, optional
1 ½ cups chocolate chips and/or nuts

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine eggs, oil, yogurt, and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients until moistened. Fold in bananas and chocolate chips. Fill greased muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 2o minutes or until done.

I love this recipe because it is easily and unnoticeably “healthified” with whole wheat or oat flour and sucanat. I use plain or vanilla yogurt. If I use vanilla yogurt, I rarely put in the vanilla extract. You could probably use nuts in place of chocolate chips, but I never make them without the chocolate chips!  Another reason I love this recipe is that yogurt is often marked down to .99 or .89 as it nears expiration, and bananas are often marked down due to ripeness.  You can bake up several batches very inexpensively, and your children will thank you!  This is a definitely a winner.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

My Dearest Hannah,

I asked you if you were excited about your birthday coming up and you grinned from ear to ear and said, "Yes.  I'm just a little bit three now!  I'm almost four and I can't wait to be five!"  This is a big change from last year when you did not want a birthday.  At. All.  You preferred to ignore your big day and proceeded to burst into tears anytime someone wished you a happy day. 

I love to hear you chitter chatter away about any little thing that is in your mind.  One day, I'm sure I'll be glad not to have to guess what you're thinking.  You're rarely quiet,  but in a good way.  Sort of. 

Your personality has been peeking through as you've grown older this year.  You want to do school like your big brothers.  You want to read and will sit through reading lessons, and you want to write and will sit for me to teach you.  You enjoy learning, and soak up everything  like a sponge.  When we begin our school day, I often find you gathering sight word cards, pencils, and as many purple crayons as you can find.  You'll gather paper and go find somewhere to sit, quietly, to "do school."

You are crazy about getting together with other little girls for "girl parties," and since we got home from visiting your cousins, you and Grace have thrown countless tea parties.  You are very much a little girl who likes to do things by herself, and I love to watch you learn.  All of you kids like to get into the kitchen to help me cook, but you, my girl, take the cake!  If I ever forget to call you to come crack my eggs, I am in t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

You're tenderhearted and love your family.  And you still run to hug your brothers after their karate class because it's been 45 whole minutes since you got to be near them.  I've begun to find you and Ethan sitting together, and you're listening to one of his stories.  I've found you playing blocks with Daniel.  And I've found you playing Mommy with Grace.  You asked me if it would be okay if you married Daddy, and I told you I was already married to him but that we'd help you find a good man to marry.  Smiles and hugs.  You have a precious heart.  A sweet spirit about you.

Your shyness and rottenness only comes out when we get around people we don't spend a lot of time with. Thus...the look.  I promise...this look has got to go...It ain't becomin', sister.

This year, we got our hair cut together, and you had a great time.  Then, two weeks later, you cut the rest of it off and immediately wanted it back on your head and cried anytime someone told you how pretty it looked.  It was such a drastic change in appearance, but you are still a beautiful girl!  Just beautiful!  You remind me often that you want it to grow out, and I assure that it already is and that we always let mommy or the stylist cut our hair.  You nod emphatically, and then you go tell Grace that only mommy or the stylist are supposed to cut hair.  Mainly because Grace is the only one smaller than you that you can pass all your wisdom to. 

I'm so thankful to be your mother.  So thankful that God blessed me to have the opportunity to love you!


Friday, January 7, 2011

Story of Us: Part 1

On my old blog, I wrote something similar to what I will be writing, but I've lost much of those writings.  So I'll be starting this series anew.  This is more of a journaling for me, but I thought it'd be fun to share.

The Story of Us

It was June of 2001.

I graduated high school and had plans like any other high school senior. I thought I knew what I wanted out of life. I was going into Respiratory Therapy (which I would have hated). Seriously. I was going to get my Associate’s Degree and then be working in that field while I went to school for something else, also in the medical field. I don’t really know why I wanted to be in that field. I enjoy taking care of people, but other than that I certainly am not suited for it.

I continued to go about my business that summer which brought me to church one Sunday when my pastor’s granddaughter, a good friend of mine, and her new husband were there. Her husband was nine years older than her which was crazy to me! Such a big age gap. Wow. (Please note that they will have been married ten years this spring and have two beautiful girls!)

After church, she asked me if she could give Deron, her brother-in-law who was six years older than me, my email address. What was with all these big age gaps?!  Not wanting to hurt her feelings or her husband’s, I said, “Sure.” And thus changed my entire life…

Grocery Savings

After mostly taking off since Thanksgiving, I'm back to bargain/coupon shopping.  Here are my totals for this week.

Total before: $13.64
Total after: $1.65
$4 ECBs remaining

Total before: $19.15
Total after: $3.59

Total before: $124.25
Total after: $74.46

Grand total before: $157.04
and after: $79.70
Average of 50.7% savings

Not bad.This was a stocking trip, and I will only do little trips to get sale items and milk for the rest of January.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Goal: Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone

One of my goals this New Year is to step outside my comfort zone and try a few new-to-me things.

One of which is to really let my chillins in the kitchen with me. The “fun, memory making” mom in me wants to let loose and let them try their hand in there…within reason, of course! The “let’s get it done” mom in me wants to hurry through cooking by myself. It’s faster and easier and cleaner and faster and easier without all the extra hands. {sigh}

My mom gave me an awesome calendar for Christmas called Cooking with Kids. It has monthly recipes that give the children tasks during meal preparation. I get lost in what I want the kids to do because I think too far into the clean-up process. However, there are skills to be learned all over the kitchen for any age. Meal prep and clean up are life lessons that go hand in hand, and if my little chefs participate in one aspect, they shall participate in the other.

We’ll see how it goes…
(Photo by Erin O'Quinn!)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Grace- My Littlest Comedian

Grace is indeed the youngest child.  She's precious and pleasant for the most part...  But she has a comical side that's a mile wide.  She really hates the song "Amazing Grace."  So much so that I take her out of church whenever we sing it.  She assumes in her own little Grace-is-the-center-of-the-universe world that we must all be singing about her.  And I don't mean a little bit of dislike.  I mean this little girl will burst into tears.  Seriously.

On the way to Deron's folks house last weekend, the other rotten children in the van wanted to see her get all riled up, so they sang "Amazing Grace."  We stopped them of course, but the damage had been done.  Then, as everyone else hushed up, Grace began to sing "Amazing Hannah, Amazing Mommy, Amazing Daddy..." with a look on her face that asked us, "See?  How do you like it?"

Then, the other day, the kiddos and I were playing Twister.  It was pretty hilarious.  Daniel always chose to hit his circles as far away from each other as he could in order to be Mr. Funny Man.  His shirt was creeping up exposing his six year old tummy.  He was laughing, and Grace couldn't resist.  She ran over to tickle his little belly. No one actually told her it would be funny.  But I can't remember when I've laughed so hard with my little guys!

I just love her natural sense of humor.  She's a sweetie.

(Please note that these photos are courtesy of Erin O'Quinn.  Didn't she do a fabulous job?  I'll be posting all the pictures from her over the next few posts!)