Friday, June 26, 2009

Out with the old, In with the new

I've always used coupons. I can remember being barely old enough to use scissors, sitting in the floor clipping coupons for my mom on Sunday afternoons, then going down to my grandma's house and doing the same thing for her. I still do this on Sunday, only now I set aside coupons for Mom and mailing her what she uses. She in turn does the same for me. People at church even leave diaper coupons in Quinn's cubby in the nursery (thanks for those!!), and friends at work save me their whole coupon sections from the paper. I also pull coupons from the dispenser boxes in the aisles of the grocery store. I use websites like CouponBug.Com, and Coupons.Com to print coupons. Because of this, I have accumulated quite the stash of coupons.

So I've decided that my current way of keeping up with my coupons was not working for me anymore. Can you blame me?? Take a look at my coupon organizer, and see what I mean.

There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to what is going on in here. The only way you could say this is organized is that the coupons were in order by date. I kinda, sorta knew where certain coupons were based on date. For example, any Proctor and Gamble product (Pampers, Dawn, Cascade, etc) would be near the end of the month. Other than that, I would have to search through this humongous stack, hoping to find the right one. (And yes, that envelope does have several pockets, and no, I was not using all of them...just one!)
So after reading some coupon posts on MoneySavingMom and on Life As Mom, I decided it was time to re-organize.
I pretty much used the idea of MoneySavingMom as seen here. To make this coupon box, you need some small envelopes, some small index cards, and some sort of box. I used a leftover baby wipes box.
Basically what you need to do is tear off the flap of the envelope. Then take an index card and staple it to the inside. Also write the category of item on the index card as well. I discovered after I had stapled all the cards in that the lid of the box wouldn't shut, so I had to go back and trim the cards down. You may want to write the category just above the envelope and then trim the top of the card off.
Then I went through all my coupons and sorted them based on category. What did I use for categories? Well, if you go back up and click on the link of how Crystal (MoneySavingMom) did her box, I used many of her categories, as I thought she had broken them down really well. For example, she didn't just say "Cleaners". She had an envelope for all-purpose cleaners, bathrooms, furniture, glass, etc. I added some categories, took away some categories, and pretty much fit her list to our family's needs. Then I alphabetically organized all the envelopes. Then I organized the coupons in each envelope by date, so the most recent date is on top.
Now, my coupon box looks like this.

I am hoping this will resolve my coupon issues and will allow me to quickly find what I need.
If you do the "coupon thing", how do you organize your coupons?? If you don't coupon....tell me why! I can't imagine people not using coupons, but I know some do. Either way, I'd love to hear your methods!
For other Frugal Ideas, check out Frugal Friday hosted by Life As Mom.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

6 Years of Marriage

While the majority of the world celebrated Father's Day this past Sunday, Buddy and I also celebrated our six-year wedding anniversary! Now, I will admit to you, I did NOT pick June 21st as a wedding day due to it's close proximity to Father's Day in the hopes of only having to buy one gift.

I always wanted a June wedding day. After Buddy and I got engaged, I remember looking at a calendar one evening with my mom and grandmother. I remember reading out loud all the Saturdays in June, and said "June 21st, that has a nice ring to it." My grandmother pointed out that her parents (my great-grandparents) were also married that day! They were married for over 60 years before my great-grandmother passed away. If they had both been alive on the day of my wedding, they would have been married for 84 years! I later found out that Buddy also had a set of great-grandparents who got married on June 21st as well. When I told him all of this, we both decided that day was too special of a day for both of our families to not pick it for our wedding day. I even used a piece of my great-grandmother's jewelry as my "something old/something blue" was a brooch of blue stones set in a circle, which I pinned to the crinolins under the skirt of my dress.

Here are some pictures from my wedding day.

This picture was made BEFORE the wedding. All the guys had been on the front steps of the church having pictures made. All the girls had been in the sanctuary having pictures made. When both sets were done, we had Buddy stand outside the front door of the church, while I stood on the inside of the front door. All that separated us was the door. We held hands and smiled, knowing the next time we held hands, we would be about to say "I DO!"

This picture is during the Unity Candle part of the ceremony. Notice the picture was made right as our two candles became one! The church we are in is my home church, First Baptist Church of Gowensville. The guy on the far right is my former pastor. The flower girl is Buddy's niece, Mackenzie. ( I recently told you about her brother, Evan, here.) The blonde is a friend of mine from Clemson, and the other two girls are my cousins.

And here we are, after the ceremony. Who knew that one blind date in July of 1997 could lead to this....

Yes, I said blind date, and yes, I said 1997! We dated for almost six years before we got married, and now we've been married for six years. I can hardly believe that I've know Buddy almost half of my life. (And no, we did not go to highschool together.) Tune in on July 18th to hear the story of our first date!

Buddy, I am so glad that the Lord brought us together on that blind date all those years ago. It almost seems like yesterday. There are so many memories of us together that I can barely remember what my life was like before you became a part of it. We have graduated college together, moved states, bought our first home, and had our first child. I cannot wait to see what the future holds! I love you so much! 1-4-3!

Love Always,
Pookie :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Guess Who Came for Breakfast??

....Nana and Papa, that's who!! Buddy's parents got up super early on Saturday morning and drove 3 hours so they could take Quinn to breakfast! Isn't that sweet?? Out of the 8 grand kids, Quinn lives the closest. They like to go out to eat breakfast on Saturday mornings and they often see other grandparents there with their grand kids. Of course, Nana and Papa don't often get the chance to do this, since all the grand kids live in either NC (us and 3 others), VA (2) and OH (2). We were so proud to get to do this with them...and they didn't come empty-handed.

Quinn got a present of two books, a big ball, and an Old Navy Flag shirt. This is a tradition...all the grand kids get a shirt each year. Quinn's first one from last year finally fits! (The smallest size last year was an 18-mth, but we put it on him anyway.)

At breakfast, Quinn had a couple of firsts...his first time with ketchup....
....and using the straw for the first time....finally! :-)
After breakfast we went to a local park, where we discovered that Quinn still has no fear of slides.

He even went down the big tunnel slide by himself!

Playing wears a boy out, so as we walked through the gardens of the arboretum, Quinn took a ride on Papa's shoulders. You get a better view of things that way!

Just one shot of some of the beautiful flowers we saw. I love hydrangeas, and would love to have a bush of my own one day.

It was hot to be only 10 am, so when we saw this fountain, we couldn't resist letting Quinn take a few splashes.

Of course after all that fun, Quinn fell asleep in the car. We took him home for a nap and so Papa could rest. (He just had knee replacement surgery about two weeks ago!) While everyone rested, Buddy and I went to Walmart and bought Quinn his very own pool. After he woke up and we all had a bite to eat, we went out for a swim.

Quinn met the garden hose sprinkler for the first time. He wasn't quite sure what to think of it.

Life just doesn't get any better than this....(by the way, he is stomping, which we call "happy feet"!)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day.

Dear Buddy,

Today is your second Father's Day. I have enjoyed watching you with Quinn over these past 17 months. He loves you so much. You are such a great dad to him. I am enjoying watching your relationship as father and son grow. I love watching you two play together and I love watching your sweet moments too. Enjoy today. Quinn and I are so thankful for you! Thank you for your Godly example in our lives. We Love You!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Walgreens Paid Me!!

Walgreens paid me to take some items out of their store. How did that happen, you might ask? Well, let's just say I earned more money in Register Rewards than I spent.

Here's how I bought the items in the above picture.

Transaction #1: St. Ives body wash. $2.99
Had a $1.50 coupon, so that's 1.49, tax making it $1.69.
Earned $3 in Register Rewards on the St.Ives body wash.

Transaction #2: Suave Shampoo and Suave Conditioner. St. Ives body Wash.
Suave products were $1.99 each, buy one, get one 50% off.
$1.99 + $1.00 + $2.99
Had a $1.00/2 Suave coupon, and a $1.50 for St.Ives.
Total cost plus tax: 3.87.
Earned $3 in Register Rewards

All total, I spent $5.56. I earned $6.00 in Register Rewards that I can use between now and some time in July. I call that a sweet deal. Hopefully they will have a sale on diapers soon, and I can really maximize my savings.

Special shout-out to the cashier at Walgreens who deliberately rang up my purchases so she could save me some money! She actually said "Let's ring this up differently so that you can get a better deal!" WOW. Not often do you have a cashier so willing to help you score bargains.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I've just been SHREDDED

I first heard about the 30-day Shred here.

Then my blog friend Beth talked about here.

Then my 30th birthday brought me several gifts of money, so now I own The 30-Day Shred. Jillian Michaels, of Biggest Loser fame, is the instructor, and she is as hard on this DVD as she is on the show. She has also trained 6 of the 7 winners on the show, which is another reason I bought her workout instead of Bob.

This DVD is divided into three routines based on ability level. Each routine is broken into what Jillian calls circuits. You do 3 minutes of strength training with weights, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of abs. You do this 3 times, and combined with a short warm-up, and short cool-down, you have completed 20 minutes of working out.

And let me just feel every minute of it. I've done many workout tapes in my day, and up until now, Cindy Crawford's Shape Your Body was about the hardest I have ever done. I feel as tired after twenty minutes of Jillian's workout as I felt with forty-five minutes of Cindy's workout. And I only did Level One!!

I figure if this is a 30 day program, I'll do level one for 10 days, level two for ten days and level three for 10 days. That is, unless I find it super easy after five or six days. We will see. I'm not going to kill myself doing this by any means.

Not only do I have a little more time on my hands thanks to summer break from school, but I have a little bit of motivation. We hope to make a beach trip before summer is over, so I will have to buy a bathing suit. The other is that some of the teachers who did the school version of Biggest Loser have decided to do it over the summer. We weighed in on Monday, June 15th. We will weigh in again on our first day back, August 17th. The person who lost the most will win the money. We thought since on the show they go home for 6-8 weeks before the finale, we could "go home" for the summer and see how we do without our motivation as well.

I'll end this post with this final thought, in case any of you decide to try the Shred. In level one, you do a move called the "butt kick". And it does exactly what it says it will do....and the very next move you get to punch out all your aggression. By the end of the video I wanted to punch Jillian, but I feel so great right now.

Can't wait to see how Shredded I am in 30 days!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jesus Loves the Little Children

On Friday afternoon I got a phone call. Given the time of day, I assumed it was Buddy calling to say he was on his way home. Instead I heard the voice of one of my nephews, Evan.

(Ok...let me clarify. Technically this is Buddy's nephew, since he's the one with sisters, but I fit in with this family so well, that his dad says he has 4 daughters, not 3! And let me go ahead and say that there are 8 grandkids all together. Six of them are the "older" ones, with Quinn and his cousin David coming in seven years after the rest. Evan is the youngest of the six older ones.)

Here he is. Doesn't he look like a miniature Buddy?

So here's how the conversation went:

Me: Hello?
Evan: Hey, this is Evan. Is Uncle Buddy there? I wanted to tell you and him something.
Me: No, he's not home from work yet, but you can tell me anything you want.
Evan: I just wanted to tell you guys that I got saved last night!

What an awesome phone call! Of course, Uncle Buddy called him later on to get the good news for himself. Buddy's sister, Fran, told me that after she and her husband prayed with Evan, he said "I feel like a bunch of rocks have been lifted off my back!" I guess even an almost-9-year-old can carry the weight of sin.

Please pray for Evan as he begins his Christian walk. Pray for him to keep his childlike faith in the Lord as he grows up. Pray for his parents, Fran and Brian, and his older sister, Mackenzie, to continue to help him grow in his faith.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mockelet, anyone?

I thought I would share a meal idea that Buddy and I invented on Mother's Day. We've eaten it many times since and find it to be a quick, easy, and tasty idea for breakfast. (Or "breakfast for supper", if you prefer that.)

We call it "Mockelet"....pronounced like omelet. We call it Mockelet, because it is a "mock" omelet. And it is so easy to make.

Just prepare your eggs as if you were going to scramble them. I usually add a little bit of milk to make the eggs fluffy. Don't ask me's how Mama always made them.

Ok, so you've got your eggs ready to scramble. Now just add some chunks of ham and mix it all together. You may want some salt and pepper to taste. Now just scramble your eggs. When they are like you want them, turn them over one last time. While they are still in the pan, sprinkle some shredded cheese on to the top, until it just begins to melt.

Your Mockelet is ready, and it's that simple. To me, this tastes just like a ham and cheese omelet, but without all the fuss of trying to make an actual omelet. We usually make up some cheese grits to go with the Mockelet. This is a super-fast, super-yummy, super-quick meal for your family. Hope you enjoy it. could also make this with sausage!

Friday, June 12, 2009

School's Out For Summer!!

Whew....I never thought this day would come!


Don't get me wrong, I really love my job. I enjoy coming to work and teaching my students, but there is just something wonderful about that last day of school that certainly brings out the child in you! Some of you may be thinking, gosh, my kids got out of school a while ago. But you must remember, I teach public school. And also, thanks to this glorious day, we had 2 extra days of school to make up the real snow.

As I've mentioned before, I teach fifth grade, the last grade of elementary school. Yesterday we had their "graduation". We invited all the parents to the ceremony and a big crowd turned out. The kids marched in and you could just see parents' faces beaming with pride. The kids were called to the stage, just like at a real graduation, and received their "diploma", which was really just a certificate of completion of elementary school. Then we watched a PowerPoint slide show I created of all the students, with their kindergarten picture on one side and their fifth grade picture on the other. It's always a big hit with the kids, to see how they looked all those years ago.

Another fun thing we do for the students is at bus dismissal of the last day of school. All the teachers put on funny sunglasses and we carry noisemakers out to the buses. We use water soakers and throw water balloons. We pull streamers across the driveway for the buses to drive through. We spray Silly String at the bus windows. The kids absolutely LOVE it!! One year the local news station came out and filmed us!

So, I've got a few more hours of fun with my students and then I send them on their way to have a summer of memories before starting the huge world of MIDDLE SCHOOL. I have to work a few days next week to do report cards, clean the room, etc. Then Quinn and I get to do the summer version of "stay-at-home-mom". I can't wait!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

So Happy Together....AGAIN!!!!

This has been the best day....our little family is back together! For those of you who don't know me in real life, my husband has been working 3rd shift for the past six weeks. He was assigned this project, and Sunday night was his last night of this craziness! Woo Hoo!!!!

I have to admit now...I totally admire single mothers for all that they have to do, as that's what I felt like. A married "single mom". Buddy and I were basically shadows passing in the hallway. He would come home (hopefully) before Quinn and I left for school. He would be waking up when we would get home in the afternoon. Some days he didn't even get home until 8am. And some days he went in as early as 7pm. And, this was a 7-day-a-week project, so he didn't even have the weekends to recuperate.

I am so proud of him for making this sacrifice, considering what the alternatives could have been. Watching him switch from 'normal' hours to night shift hours was hard. Watching him lose 15-20 pounds was hard. (He's not a breakfast person, so he wouldn't eat supper with us when he first woke up. Some mornings he came home so tired he went straight to bed. So basically he lived on ham sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs and energy drinks.) Watching him miss out on time with us was hard. Watching Quinn, who couldn't understand why Daddy left at play time, was hard, too.

I've missed my husband over these past few weeks. It was a very tough time for all of us and I am so glad it is over. Here is a picture of us from our walk tonight. My neighbor took the picture for us, and that is our house in the background. (Notice the grass is cut...thanks to Buddy...who was actually eager to get back to yard work). (And also notice that I am wearing shorts that fit me 2 summers BEFORE Quinn was born...woo hoo!!)
I can't see me loving nobody but you, for all my life.
When you're with me, baby, the skies will be blue, for all my life.
Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
Lyrics by: The Turtles

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Hodge Family Update--May 2009

So the Hodges have gotten all settled in down in Costa Rica. Michael and Amanda have been attending Spanish classes, while the kids have been going to school, and their son Jarrett recently graduated from K-5 kindergarten. They have a new “pet”….a gecko who comes into their house pretty often. They have nicknamed him “Geico”. They are able to get a dose of English now and then when they go to the movies. Apparently in Costa Rica, the movies are released in English, with Spanish subtitles.

One thing I’ve never mentioned about Michael and Amanda is how beautifully they sing. I remember them doing many solos/duets at my church back home for the “special music”. Michael has joined the Praise Team for the weekly chapel for the Adult students. He is beginning to be able to sing in Spanish, too. Most recently he learned the praise song "We Fall Down". (As a side note, we sang this song on Sunday. I was covered in goosebumps the whole time, imagining that while we were singing the song in English, the Hodges could have been at their church singing the song in Spanish. Isn't it amazing to know that God can understand us, no matter what language we speak to Him in??)

The most important thing for this month was that they changed the name of their blog. After much prayer and the call of God to serve others, the Hodges have changed their blog to “Seeking2serve”. This is based on the verse Mark 10:45 “…but the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” So from now own you can catch the Hodge Family at their new blog here.

Prayer Requests:
1. Language Acquisition and retention.
2. Alexis and Jarrett as they go to “Spanish Camp”, their summer enrichment program
3. Opportunities to share Christ, even with limited Spanish knowledge
4. Laura, their next door neighbor, who is pregnant and due this summer. They do not indicate if she is Costa Rican or not, but I assume that she is. They are unaware of her spiritual condition.
5. They also request prayer for “a love for the people”.

Thanks for reading this month’s update. The Hodges are grateful for your prayers.