Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ribs, anyone?

Dillons had Sterling Silver Back Ribs on manager's special this week, and tonight we enjoyed a real down-home BBQ dinner. Baked potatoes with all the fixin's, steamed corn, and the sticky, gummy deliciousness of BBQ ribs. At least that's what all the boys in my family think.

Me, I'm not too fond of ribs, actually. Maybe it's how easy it is for me to imagine them as a rib cage on an animal. Maybe it's the mess. But regardless, Ethan ate mine, and then some.

I was fine with the baked potato, but that goes without saying. I've always been a potato lover, and sadly, they were the most difficult thing for me to give up when I did the South Beach Diet a few years back. Never again, I tell you! Never again.

So anyway, it was Ethan and Simon's first exposure to BBQ ribs, and I guess they like 'em!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


When we were in Chicago, we spent a little while with Dave's brother Bruce who works at the radio station at Moody Bible Institute. He treated us to some yummy Thai food for lunch...it was so good! Thanks, Bruce.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Stocking up

I started couponing last October, and at first, the whole thing seemed so overwhelming to me. All the clipping and organizing of the coupons, looking for the deals, finding time to shop (with kids???)... was it really worth it? I mean, I was shopping at Aldi and Walmart before Crystal introduced me to couponing, and we weren't spending that much on groceries and household products.

But I have come to really appreciate the quality we are able to afford now...nicer cuts of meat (marked down, of course!), name brand items, medications, fancy cleaning products, and the cushiest TP money can buy. :) You do not even want to know how thin the TP was that we were previously using. Ouch! I have always been a tightwad. It's just my methods that have changed.

We were shopping a week to 2 weeks at a time, and by the end of those 2 weeks, the pantry and fridge were almost completely bare, unless of course we had run to Dillons for a few things during that time and completely blown our budget.

I have slowly developed a habit of thinking ahead, buying non-perishables and things to freeze, when they cost significantly less than normal or the Aldi price. This enables our little grocery budget to stretch further than I ever thought imaginable. And then when I go shopping each week, I can spend part of my money on fresh produce and the rest on the deals to be had that particular week.

Here's one example of how to stock-up this week:

Dillons/Kroger stores are advertising a sale on certain Post cereals this week for 4/$10, and $4 is automatically taken off the receipt at the end, making them 4/$6. If you have coupons for $1 off 2, you can use 2 of these per transaction, making them 4/$4.

A friend of mine recently ran across this promo that Post is running at the same time, making this an even sweeter deal. If you buy 4 of the "Healthy Classics" (Shredded Wheat, Raisin Bran, and Bran Flakes), a $3.00 catalina will print after your receipt, which you can use on anything at Dillons. This essentially makes the boxes of cereal 4/$1 or $.25 each!!!

The best part about this is that you can roll the $3.00 catalinas and use them to purchase your next set of 4 boxes, so you will only spend a dollar plus tax on each subsequent transaction.

At $.25 a box, I can afford to stock up on these kinds of cereal!

The other huge benefit for us has been having an abundance of extra food and household products to share with others. We LOVE this part of couponing! Even though I don't necessarily need more shampoo right now, if it is free or pennies, I will always choose to buy it (provided I have the money in the budget) because we know so many people we can share it with. Not everyone has the time or ability to go to more than one store each week, so why not share some of the deals we are able to find? This can be a huge blessing to others. And of course we love having plenty of food for impromptu get-togethers and entertaining friends. We like our friends, what can we say? :)

I quit my very part-time job about a month ago, and so now I am officially a stay at home mom. And I have to say, couponing helps so much when you're living on one income! I never dreamed that I would be that lady in the line forking over a huge wad of paper to the teenage cashier. But you know, when I spend $14.00 and he tells me, "You've saved $59.46 in coupons and store sales," with a bewildered look on his face, I just have to smile. That was NOT going to be me. But the Lord has a way of doing that, stretching us a little sometimes, and I am very thankful.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Oh the joy

...when you realize that you can indeed slide down the metal pole into the cement shoe at the park. You didn't know you could do it, but when prompted by your mom (and you saw all the other kids doing it too...that was probably the REAL reason), you gave it a try. And lo and behold, you did it well!

And over, and over, and over again.

I love catching these *real* smiles, true joy all over your face.

Of carefree treks and sunny days

I've intended to post I don't know how many times recently, but time has gotten away from me. With all this wonderful autumn weather we're having, it's hard to stay indoors, don't you think?

We've made daily treks to the park, gone to the zoo, spent an afternoon riding the kiddie train, attended a few reading hours, and gone to MOPS. And when we are home, more often than not, the boys are either in our backyard or at the next door neighbor's. Now, having my children playing in some else's backyard (without me there!) is a real branch out for me. I can still see them from my kitchen window, but I can't hear their every word. :) Not sure how I feel about it yet, but I digress.

I was thinking today about how thankful I am for these preschool years with my boys. In a few short years our carefree schedule will give way to learning and studying. And as necessary as academics are, these uninterrupted days of play and exploration are so much sweeter. At least this momma's heart assumes so.

Ethan is not so sure, I think.

Ethan said to me today, "Mom, I can't read the words to this book!"

"That's why you are learning your letters, so that someday you can read the words in your book," I said.

"Ooooooooohhh," he said, mulling it over. And then he just poured over the words, like he could force himself to learn them.

It is coming. I know it is. He has such a drive to learn. But I want to hang onto these carefree days. Is that so wrong? :)

Today after nap time, I was cuddling Si on my lap. "I love you so much!" I said to him.
"I know," he said.

It was as clear as day.

Last night Dave said to Ethan, "Why don't you come help me take out the trash for your mom?"

"No thanks, Dad," said Ethan, stretching. "I think I'll just relax here on the couch for awhile."

We got a good laugh out of that one. Oh, and then of course Dave made him get off the couch. They do need to learn some responsiblity, if not advanced calculus yet.

We've obviously been enjoying our new camera. The boys are only young once. I want to remember what a day at the park was like when they were 3 and 1. In my free time in the evenings I've been pouring over these photography lessons that April told me about.

I have so much to learn!

Hope this finds you rejoicing in your family today. The boys and I read this verse this morning:

"So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever, we will show forth Your praise to all generations." Psalm 79:13