Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tips and Hints Tuesday - Little Hair Things

Wow, it's been a whole week since I've blogged. I've been really trying to cut back on the computer time and focus on the house a little more. The computer addiction really takes time away from my family. 

I've also been insanely busy - at work AND at home!

Last night I became FED UP with Hannah's hair tie collection. I had everything in a baby wipes container and it was a mess. I couldn't find anything. Plus, there were still infant head bands and barrettes that certainly don't fit in her hair any more. 

My sister gave me this Longaberger basket insert a while back and I've been wanting to use it for scrapbooking supplies but have never gotten around to it. I thought, that would be perfect for organizing hair stuff. (It's like a bead organizer.)

This isn't all of the hair stuff, I'm still finding more all over the house, but it's a fabulous start. I'm in love with it!! 

Well, after that, I became obsessed with getting her entire room organized!! And the insanity lasted until 9:00pm when Hannah just had to get to bed!

I finally cleared the junk off her dresser - above!

I moved 2 bins from her closet to an under the bed storage container (above)

Her closet may look like a mess, but I WISH I would have taken before pictures! Our closets are SO small.  It felt so good to clean it out.

So, after sharing ALL of this stuff with you, my tip for today is, if you have a little girl, you're likely to be over run with hair stuff  (hey - I have a lot too!). The bead containers are a great container to put them in so you don't go crazy searching for that matching barrette!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tips and Hints Tuesday - Research Before You Buy

When I want something...I want it now. I don't like to research or look into things, I just want a new one today!

Well, when our vacuum when out a couple weeks ago, I was annoyed. In our journey to become debt free, we're on the last leg and I feel like I'm being nickel and dimed. Our $800 car bill, lots of gifts to buy, and a broken vacuum.

I'm by no means a vacuum expert (except for knowing that Dysons ROCK). I do not have enough money for top of the line, and I can't really live without a vacuum much longer. We borrowed my mom's Dyson a couple times and tried to fight through our broken vacuum smoking and smelling like it was burning our carpet fibers.

Well, you know once you use a Dyson, nothing else will do!

Nonetheless, I've been searching for vacuums, and oddly enough, most vacuums SUCK - and not in a good way. I was so disappointed. I'd find one that looked good, go research reviews and 90% of the people hated them.

We decided to use the money we usually put towards our car fund to pay for the vacuum so we didn't have to hit our snowball - and it looked like the winner was going to be the Eureka Smart Boss (not to be confused with the Boss Smart which has bags - no thanks). It was $139 and would leave us with some extra cash leftover.

THEN, I found a 3 year old Dyson on craigslist. A canister vac, but she accepted $135 and I was supposed to pick it up today before the loser retracted. 

So, my mom called and makes me an offer. I always end up on the good side of her offers. She'll give us birthday money early in order to make up the difference so we can get a DYSON!!!!

The temptation was too much and after a few, "No you don't have to do that." comments, I asked when she could meet me at the store! Ha. I love you mom!

So we were able to use a Bed Bath & Beyond 20% coupon and got $80 off the $400 vacuum. We decided to go with the Dyson Yellow instead of the smaller Dyson Ball for a number of reasons.

It's still in the trunk of my car because Hannah is sleeping and I can't use it :( But maybe I'll get it and post a picture...she's up and I made her take the picture which is why it's a little crooked, but still perfect!

So again, the tip is, research before you buy...and only get a Dyson Vacuum!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Money Monday - Vacuums


We've been blessed the last 2 years for the most part and now I feel like things are nickel and dime-ing us on the end of our journey to become debt free.

We need a new stinking vacuum cleaner.

Since we drained our car fund when we bought the second car, got some money in there, had an $800 car repair - drained it again...and this month's deposit for our car fund is going to a new vacuum...but only $175 or so.

I desperately want a Dyson. They are so expensive, but I've been borrowing my mom's here and there and I will tell you, I'd love it like another child. Those things are amazing. Other vacuums don't even compare!

All the reports on the other vacuums are very...well...poopy.

The only one that seems to get good reviews, and has gotten the thumbs up from Consumer Reports (with a reasonable price tag) is the Eureka Smart Boss. I can't find it in stores. They only have the BOSS SMART which has a bag and that's not an option for me. It's somewhere in the nature of $140. I hate buying things off of the internet because, since we don't have a credit card anymore, I have to use my debit card online and I just don't love doing that - but I will.

I just heard from someone on Facebook that I CAN get a Dyson for under $200. On the black market? I don't know. Would that stop me?? Gosh...we'll cross that bridge when we come to it I guess. Ha.

I'll let you know what this Budget Buster ends up looking like...Who knows how long my carpet can take all this nonsense! 

Do any of you have inexpensive vacuums that you're happy with?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spiritual Sunday - Stress

Hannah has a bit of a cough this morning, so we're going to attempt to keep her with us upstairs during service. I have a feeling we'll be leaving early.

Today I'm thinking about stress. Stress and anxiety is not of God yet we all struggle with this. Sometimes, it helps me to remember that all this burden is NOT what he's intended for me. In fact, I believe the devil uses stress and anxiety to take our eyes off of God and our focus off of the goal; not to mention is makes us ill with a multitude of physical ailments. I feel like if I know my stress and anxiety is the devil trying to attack, I can fight, because I know God wants good for me.

He says in Matthew 11:28-30:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company wiht me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.

OH YES. That's The Message version and isn't it fabulous? Isn't it like Jesus is inviting you on some sort of resort-type vacation?? Free plane tickets, free food, safe sun. Ahhhh! How do we do it though? It seems like we have to be so disciplined to get to this point. Or, maybe that's what he's trying to tell us. "Just HANG OUT WITH ME. Don't waste your time TRYING TO GET TO HEAVEN...just come to me and chill out. I'm SO EASY to be around. You'll really feel relaxed when we're done spending time together." Is that what he's saying? (Just to be sure - those last set of quotes are my words.) It seems like that's what he's saying to me. 

"Just breathe me in. Feel my presence. I've got it all under control. You won't know what spa treatment hit you when I'm done with you."  - my words again

Ok God, I'll take it...or give it...or whatever...just help me receive what you have to offer.

Do any of you find it hard to grasp this concept as much as I do?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Scrumptious Saturday


Since my brother has been home I gained 1.5 in ONE DAY! Ok, so maybe that's not a huge deal to some of you, but I've been really working HARD!

My mother is a cooking MACHINE! We've had steaks, potatoes, chicken, ribs, dips, appetizers, desserts, FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD and MORE FOOD!

I really lost all willpower when the jelly belly jelly beans I've been craving ended up in a gallon jug on the kitchen table. 

(WARNING - the blue and white polka dotted ones are mint. Who the crap wants a MINT jelly bean?? I'm also not a fan of COFFEE, CINNAMON, or BUBBLE GUM. So, we had a separate dish to weed out the bad flavors)

In other news, we ran around everywhere today. Hannah loved pushing around her new doll stroller in all the stores we went to. A lady even bought her a toy because she was so cute. 

We've been looking for a vacuum because ours is DONE - Only, when you want a DYSON and you only have cash for a HOOVER...well, you're out of luck.

After that we went for more family time at my parents'. A lot of family was there and Hannah had a RUDE day. I was so mad when we came home. She can be the sweetest kid in the world, and other days, she's SO RUDE! GRRR! I get so mad. I let her have it.

Tonight she prayed. "GOD (very matter-of-factly) I promise I will be a good girl." I told her not to promise God because we always make mistakes. "God, I'm sorry I was a bad girl today. Help me to be kind to people. I WILL be a good girl." She's determined, so we'll see. Oh it's so hard to be a parent. Where's the chocolate??

Eat anything yummy this weekend??

(Tomorrow's Dora Live - we promised Hannah every kid's favorite - McDonalds!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Family Fridays

Ahh...I should be doing some work from home stuff today because I left early yesterday, but I just don't think I have it in me.

I didn't even exercise today. BUT, that's because I exercised for 2 hours yesterday and my body wants a break. :)

My brother is home from Texas and it's so nice. I miss him half way across the country! I wish Doreen would have been able to come with him to, but we'll get them both again in May.

So today, and yesterday, AND the rest of the weekend is family time! My mom made steaks yesterday, chicken piccata today and ribs tomorrow (which is why I worked out for the extra hour yesterday.)

My aunt and uncle and three cousins are coming over to my parents. My cousin Paula is 13 weeks pregnant and Hannah is VERY excited to see her. She said she can't wait! Hannah is incredibly OBSESSED with babies in bellies right now. She wants me to have one and she likes to pretend she has one :) She's also loving her baby dolls which I think is very cute!

We got to see my grandfather yesterday. He came over to make macaroni cake with my mom. It's a tradition and it's DELICIOUS. He's such an incredible guy. He's battling lymphoma and is doing well, but his final treatment was pretty hard on him. He's going to be 82 this year and he's a beast. You'd never guess it because he's got a chick on the side, he drives everywhere, goes on cruises, plays bocci, maintains a huge garden...you can't pin the man down! That's how my mom is...and I hope it's how I'll always be.

It was hard to seem him suffering the side effects of chemo though. It's poison, man! But, hopefully it let's him stay healthy. He's very fun to be around!

Sunday is DORA LIVE at Mellon Arena. We're SO EXCITED. Matt's sister Audra (GO AUDRA) got us grand central circle, 4th row back ON THE FLOOR! Hannah is going to LOVE IT! It'll be a good family weekend!

Do you have any family plans?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday - I have a list again!

Ahhh, I'm very tired today, but happy, so I'll take it (not that I have a choice).

Today I'm thankful that my brother is home.

I'm thankful for day 2 of a brightly shining sun.

I'm thankful for an AMAZING junior high service last night. Simply amazing. To see 33 junior high students on their knees, raising their hands, and worshipping our Almighty God gets me every time. These students have so much potential and they're inspiring and they're beautiful. I'm thankful for them. They make ME better. (Sorry parents, I know it's supposed to go the other way!)

Mostly today, and this week, I'm thankful for a special little girl I met. I can't get her out of my mind.

Two days ago, Hannah and I went to the park. They have a swing there for kids who need a little extra support. I've told Hannah she can't swing on it because it's for people who have a hard time swinging on the big kid swings.

Well, we always play at this park, but for the first time, we saw a little girl on the swing who needed its extra support. She was having SO MUCH FUN on this swing. Her mom would push her and she would squeal with delight. My guess is that she has cerebral palsy  but I really have no idea. It doesn't matter anyway - her legs didn't work well.

Hannah and I were two swings down playing "spider" on the swings. (Basically we were swinging together :) And she just watched this little girl having fun and even imitated her "WEEEE!" on our swing.  It was sweet.

Later I saw her mom (I'm assuming that's who she was) trying to navigate and climb up through the castle-like structure with her little girl. She guided this little one through the smallest of crawl spaces and up the stair. I was standing at the foot of the slide playing hide and seek with Hannah when I heard the girl's mother say,

"You can ask her when we get to the top of the slide."

Obviously she was talking about me because I was the only one there!

When they got to the top of the slide the little girl asked me,

"Will you catch me at the bottom of the slide?"

"I would LOVE to catch you!" I responded.

So her mother pushed her down the slide and I caught and lifted this beautiful and incredibly stiff bundle into my arms.

We stood there nose to nose as her mother climbed around to meet us.

"What's your name?" she asked.

"Melissa, what's yours?"


"That's a beautiful name! How old are you?"

"I'm nine. Will you catch me again?"

"Of course I will!"

By this time, Hannah has come to see what's happening...She'd been hiding a while and her mommy never came to find her...haha. Hannah said "I want to help catch her too!"

So Alexa went down the slide again and again I picked her up. She noticed Hannah and with that permanent and beautiful smile she asked,

"What's her name?"

"Her name is Hannah."


"Is it? Do you like Hannah Montana too?"

"Oh yes!"

Then her mother came over and I passed the little one to her - desperately wanting to spend more time with her. This little girl was the biggest ball of sunshine I've ever seen. She was so  beautiful, so sweet, so lovable.

Part of me wanted to ask God why - but I couldn't because this little one was filled with hope and joy. I felt SO HONORED to hold her in my arms albeit briefly.

I was grateful that Hannah saw her mommy talk to, play with, and touch someone who was a little bit different than her without batting and eyelash. I hope it was a lesson for her that she won't forget.

Lastly, I hope little Alexa felt extra special that day - even though I was the one who was truly blessed.

I know this story might sound dumb - or like I'm blowing something small up to be something big, but it's on my mind. It had a huge impact on me and I'm thankful for the experience.

We've been praying for her every night before bed! I'm so thankful to have met such a beautiful little angel.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wellness Wednesday - More Good Deodorant

I know I posted about this before but I've found another natural deodorant that you can buy in a regular store, has no scent, and in my opinion works BETTER than regular antiperspirant. It's salt based. 

I'm actually able to wear my shirts more than once. Maybe you all can do that anyway, but I can't stand the smell of stale deodorant on my shirts.

This stuff is awesome. It's called Crystal and it's number one in all the environmental and safety testing mumbo jumbo. 

It really is better for you. I think you can get it pretty much anywhere - like Walgreens and such. Don't ignore me...Why not get something that works BETTER than the bad stuff!

Item 2 on the agenda for wellness Wednesday is...I lost 4 pounds in the past week! I've been eating three meals, a snack AND dessert every day! How did I do it then? Well, I'm a HUGE eater with decent metabolism. I can eat more than the average dinosaur does in one day. So I eliminated second helpings, exercise 40-60 minutes a day and write down EVERYTHING I'm eating. It just works! I've lost weight every day! And - some days I eat 3 cookies for dessert!

Item 3 - Update on my health - I have none. I've been in between doctor's and nutritionist's visits. I'm praying for a fabulous report from both next time I go. I did have one possible pressure spike after a lack of enough sleep...and my digestive track is a little off, which I'm really trying to work on. I'll keep you posted. 

Item 4 - WHO COULDN'T have a wellness Wednesday on a day like today? In Pittsburgh it's 70 degrees and sunny! I don't know about you, but that makes a good mood for me. 

Hannah's calling me from her nap. Gotta run! No time to proof! Sorry for typos!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tips and Hints Tuesday - Eye Makeup

Since I quit wearing my contacts because of my eye issues, I almost NEVER wear eye makeup.

But, when I do - this is the best tip! 

I had some free samples of expensive eye makeup removers, but I kept wondering what chemicals I was putting practically INSIDE my eyes and it's SO expensive. I wouldn't buy it for myself on a regular basis.

Some of you might just let it wear off itself, scrub it with a wash cloth, or forego it altogether because of the hassle.

Well, here is ridiculously cheap and simple tip #1239506 for removing eye makeup.

VASALINE! You heard me right...good ole' petroleum  jelly.

Step 1: Dip clean finger in vasaline.
Step 2: close eyes
Step 3. smear vasaline over eyes lightly
Step 4: blindly fumble for a wad of toilet paper :) 
Step 5: wipe your eyes gently once or twice

Voila! It seriously gets all the gunk off AND you know it's safe! And you can get a giant generic tub for a BUCK! 

Enjoy :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Money Monday -Stretching Food

People ask me all the time how in the WORLD our grocery budget it so low...$200 per month or less for the 3 of us. That includes toiletries and random things like stamps.

Today I can give you one tip that has helped.

Tonight's dinner was the third and final meal we were able to eat on ONE POUND of taco meat. How is that possible? (Or, you're asking HOW CAN YOU EAT LEFTOVERS TWICE?? - I don't know..we just don't mind!)

Well, sometimes I'm not so sure. But one thing I can tell you is that one can of 67 cent refried beans and a can of black beans (of which there is still a half a can of each left) makes ALL the difference. 

Hannah and I had taco salads and Matt ate regular hard tacos. I got the bag of mixed greens for $1.50 per bag. That's a good filler. The refried beans and a little sour cream acts as dressing and the protein in the beans stretches the meat. You can also line taco shells with them as well. It's amazing how far it makes ground meat go. We had all the other toppings, cheese, sour cream, etc...and I made some home made corn muffins.

I figured out that total, the meal cost $12.50 for 3 dinners. That's $1.48 per person, per meal. Now THAT's impressive.

I think it's important to look for those fillers. Extra bread crumbs in meat loaf, rice in ANYTHING with ground meat. If you're looking to cut corners...add more of the cheap stuff and STOP thinking about having HUNKS of meat as part of your menu...Break it up...you can use less and it goes further.

It has also helped us to pre divide portions before we eat. One of us usually makes the plates all at once to make sure we all get enough :) 

And, since I've stopped eating seconds for health reasons, our food lasts longer and my waistline is smaller.

Happy stretching!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spiritual Sunday

Church today was really great. I think the message today was for me.

I've been having a rough week and I know I'm not the only one. I spend a lot of time questioning my actions when I know I've sought God's wisdom and prayed and read my Bible before taking any actions.

But I still second guess. I asked someone this week, how do you know if you're under attack and being persecuted for following God (which I can accept) or if you're being punished for making a wrong decision. I was told that God doesn't instill a spirit of fear, and he doesn't beat us over the head. If I sought his wisdom before I acted, then I can be confident that I'm not being punished.

This morning in church that was confirmed. Pastor David talked about how the devil can make you question God and what he says to you and how he feels about you. That's exactly how I'm feeling. He reminded us all of when what God said during the baptism of Jesus, before Jesus had even performed a miracle. "This is my Son, and with him I am well pleased." I think it's Matthew 3. God feels that way about us - before we even try to do one thing to please him.

It still stinks to feel like I'm feeling, but the message this morning reaffirmed to me that I made good decisions and I really needed that - and that God is pleased with me. I REALLY needed that!

He also tied this in to how we treat our kids. Is our love for them based on what they DO. Do they feel UNCONDITIONAL love from us. That hit home too, because I know I have very high expectations of Hannah, and I don't think God wants me to change that...but I am wondering, how much of my pride comes from her checking the box. I have to pay attention to that. I want her to know that I love her because she's my daughter - not because of anything she's done.

Unrelated news: there was an insanely cute baby girl in church today. A tiny one. I want one :) In due time I guess. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Scrumptious Saturday - Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


I HAVE THE RECIPE for THE BEST Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I ate 3 HUGE ones tonight!

Go here to enjoy!

My recommendations? 

Double the amount of chocolate chips.

Beat all the wet ingredients and sugar first on HIGH with an electric mixer for a few minutes. Stir in the rest of the ingredients by hand. They are fluffy and PERFECT! YUM.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Family Fridays

Oh! I'm so excited for today! Matt took the day off and we have lots to do!

My mom had surgery on her mouth this morning so I need to go check on her.

I have to get my routine blood work since I skipped it last month...oops!

We need to pick up some x-ray films and reports from Forbes Hospital because Matt is going to see an orthopedic doctor for his knees in April...FINALLY. I really hope he doesn't need surgery.

We have absolutely NO FOOD in the house, so the grocery store will be our next stop.

Matt needs to stop at the funeral home because someone from work lost her mother. So sad.

Then later, we're hanging out with friends. Should be a fun day (minus the funeral of course).

I sure hope Hannah holds up. She's not napped the past 2 days...and that does NOT spell F-U-N.
She's been asking a lot of interesting questions lately...and she keeps telling me she has a baby in her belly...and walks around with dolls and stuffed animals up her shirt. I think she wants a sibling. In due time!

Have a good day!

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm just thankful it's Thursday - the start of my weekend. Today is one of those days I really need to dig to remind myself to be thankful.

It's been a very difficult week and I'm glad it's over. I'm thankful that even through difficulty God speaks clearly and gives me the strength to manage in knowing I'm in his will.

I'm thankful Matty took off tomorrow! Now he can enjoy an early weekend with me and Hannah!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wellness Wednesday - Helping Along A Cold

Poor Hannah has been struggling with a NASTY cold. Poor thing. She hardly ever gets sick, so when she does, she gets totally babied! She loves it and totally milks it for all it's worth.

I'm praying I don't get this nasty cold. It's made it's way around everyone I know!

I don't know why no one listens to me when I give them this tip. I don't know if they don't BELIEVE me or what, but I promise you this works!

The next time you start to get a cold, go buy some pineapple juice and drink a bunch! You will instantly feel better, your cold will go away quicker and you WILL thank me.

Why is this some sort of miracle cold potion? It's not. It's actually pretty logical. Pineapple juice has twice the vitamin C that orange juice has and it's not as acidic - so it doesn't upset your stomach. It helps to clear away mucus so it's not resting on your voice box making your sore throat worse.

It's $2 - What do you have to lose besides your cold!

Other things we take a lot of when we're feeling sick: 3000-4000 mg of fish oil per day and garlic pills. Both boost your immune system!

Happy Wellness Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tips and Hints Tuesday - Dry Skin

If you're anything like me, your skin is flaking off this time of year. My hands are disgusting, my shins are ashy....hideous!

Today's tip is going to help you have smooth skin! I have such a hard time keeping up with this, but today I did it, and I'm going to try to keep it up! 

Next time you get out of the shower, towel dry and then put lotion on right away. Your skin soaks in moisturizer much more readily when your skin is still wet. You'll be much smoother. :)

Also, if your hands are severely dry, as you are going to bed - use plain old Vasaline (remember, I'm cheap!), coat your hands and pull a clean pair of white socks over them (I have an issue with white socks - I love them). When you wake up in the morning, you'll love how much better your skin feels.

Lastly - if you have some extra cash (I got a free sample and it's lasted forever) get Mary Kay's Satin Hands. I'm not a big fan of pyramid businesses, but I LOVE this product. It lives up to it's name! But, it's a luxury!

Enjoy your smooth skin!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Money Monday - A Waste Of Money

Well, it's been a crazy weekend - and an even CRAZIER Monday. I'm just too exhausted physically and emotional to "catch up" on blogs. I'm just going to start with today.

This weekend we purchased a "digital antenna" for our TV. As I've said before, we don't have cable but we do have a digital converter box. I've heard a lot of hype about digital antennas and thought purchasing one may increase the number of stations we receive, as well as the clarity of the stations we already have.

After hooking the one we purchase up to our television, I was furious! Our old rabbit ears worked MUCH BETTER than this new stinking waste of money! I then assumed they weren't digital even though we asked two different sales reps at Radio Shack and they both said they were. I just figured that you wouldn't have the "rabbit ear" type extensions  from them. I think some don't. I'm still kind of confused.

So I started researching them online, looking at reviews and such, and everyone is saying the same thing! They're a waste. Then I read that there's no difference in quality between a "digital" antenna and the rabbit ears we currently have. They use the same signal and receive them the same way, so there's virtually no difference in quality. 

Some stations are not running full signal yet, and won't until June when the switch is official. So, we should get even better reception then.

So we returned the waste of money that wasn't in the budget anyway and we're currently pretty satisfied with our metal and unsightly rabbit ears. 

Just an FYI out there for those (2) of you who still have rabbit ears like us! Save your money!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Family Fridays

Who says you have to spend money and go somewhere to have fun with your family? How about this warm spring day in Pittsburgh??!! I LOVED IT! 

First I woke up and went to a special "Bring-Your-Grown-Up-Friend-To-School" day with my little sweet Kylie girl. After we had LOTS of fun doing THAT we went and got Hannah Banana and went to Paradise Park for 2 hours. They have a huge sand volleyball court and the girls had a BLAST playing in there. How fun!!

Then after Matt came home, Han had a nap, and we ate dinner, we went outside and blew bubbles, played hide and seek/tag, and played in our turtle sand box. Now we're just chilling out watching Veggie Tales Jonah before bath time.

I needed an evening at home. I REALLY need to clean.

I talked to my brother tonight. I miss him! He's all the way in Houston, TX. We always have THE MOST animated and lively conversations about invigorating things....mainly, health insurance, life insurance, budgets, school loans, and becoming debt free. I know - It can be done!

He also told me he got to meet and chat with the head astronaut from Apollo 13. I guess that's the kinda stuff you get to do when you're a rocket scientist...but hey -- even rocket scientists need cool sisters.

I have a good family :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Ahhh...I always think I'm not going to have anything NEW to be thankful for. I'm thankful every day, but sometimes it's hard to think past the basics, right? But, it never takes me long-less than 30 seconds-to think of something. I love it!

Today I am thankful for the bright sun and the semi-warm temperatures. When I got home from work, Hannah wanted to stay outside - and she wanted to play in the sandbox. I just knew when I opened that thing, that there was going to be a mouse in there! Surprisingly, there wasn't a rodent in there and it stayed really clean over the winter. She also got to jump on our neighbor's trampoline with Sarah and was very satisfied with that! The fresh air does a body good!

I'm also thankful that, for the moment, whatever the noise my car is making, isn't going to cost me money.

I'm thankful that Matt's mom's friend Elaine has been healed from rheumatoid arthritis. She hasn't taken her medicine in four weeks and is feeling great. She's even seeing the nutritionist I've been going to and likes it. I'm grateful for miracles! It reminds me that they still happen!!

I'm thankful that my sweet husband took Hannah with him to the dealership so I could have some alone time. It was very nice, but I miss them and look forward to their return.

I'm thankful for my Audra, that she was born :) Happy Birthday!!

And, lastly, I'm thankful for homemade mac and cheese. YUM!

Gotta go! My babies are home!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wellness Wednesday - Another Update

For those of you who are curious...here's another update on my journey to rid myself of my auto-immune disease. I have true faith in God here :) Thank you so much for all of your care and concerns. Thank you for your words of encouragement. I love all of you and appreciate the blessing you've been in my life. What a joy it is to have support and love.

I started the detox program last week on Thursday. By Sunday I was violently ill. I will spare you the details - unless I see you in person :) but I'll leave it at telling you I was in the worst pain of my life...we're talking comparable to child birth here.

I called the nutritionist Monday who told me to stop taking everything and come in! She didn't charge me for the appointment, but I did pay $35 for a bottle of flora (good bacteria). She told me to take those for the day and nothing else and then start easing the other supplements back in one by one so my body can adjust a little better. 

She said that she thinks this is a good thing. It's working. My body is really forcing out all of the stuff that's been hurting me for the last 18 years...No one said this would be fun.

I'm frustrated that I have to take things slower, but optimistic about the possibilities. I'm contemplating trying to stick it out, but the pain is just unmanageable. I need my mother's pain tolerance! We'll get there though. I know it.

Not gonna lie - Sunday night felt like I was living a scene from The Exorcist...haha.

I'll keep you all posted!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tips and Hints Tuesday - Clean your sink, Make your bed.

Have you ever noticed - or maybe it's just me - that when the kitchen is clean, the whole house feels a little cleaner...and when your bed is made your bedroom seems cleaner?? It's so much easier to fall asleep in a made-bed with fresh sheets.

Start small. If the clutter in your house seems overwhelming, just do 2 things: 

Make your bed when you wake up, do the dishes before bed. Just two things if nothing else. 

It'll get you started on keeping things neat and you'll feel accomplished. I promise!


Money Monday - Budget Busters

Ok - Everyone is FREAKING out about the sky falling down. THE STOCK MARKET IS AT AN ALL TIME LOW --- (at least since the past 11 years anyway)...

Ok, it is scary - and every time I watch things on TV about it, I'm reminded of WHY I don't watch the news. 

Here's a little tidbit - It's all going to be okay. We're going to get through this economic downturn. I'm very thankful for God's blessings and our jobs during this time - and pray for all those who have been laid off to find ways to provide for their families.

That said, it's time to pinch some more pennies. Get the most out of your dollar.

Here are some ways to do that:

1. MAKE AND FOLLOW A BUDGET (*MOST STINKING IMPORTANT!*) You'll be so surprised where your money is going!

2. TURN YOUR THERMOSTAT DOWN! You'll survive, I promise. When we go to bed at night, I turn the thermostat down to 58 degrees and throw an extra blanket on my kid who INSISTS on sleeping in next to nothing. When you leave the house - turn it down. There are arguments about whether turning it up and down is worse than just leaving it up... I'm telling you: the last 2 gas bills of mine (we do the budget plan) have gone down. We're paying $20 less per month since we started doing this. The same goes for keeping your air conditioner set higher in the summer.

3. GET RID OF YOUR CABLE! Waaaaaah boo hoo. "We can't pay our bills but I'm just NOT willing to get rid of my Tivo!" Boo-HOO! If you can't feed your kids - get rid of your cable bill. You can survive with a digital converter box and antennae. I promise you can. We're still alive as living proof.

4. ELIMINATE PREPACKAGED FOODS - "I need to pack lunches and have snacks for my kids!" The Cheeze-Its in the big box taste the same as the ones in the little bags...and you can buy a box of ziplocks and throw some Cheeze-Its into them and you have your convenience food for so much less. String cheese is STINKING expensive. Your kid will feel the same if you give him or her a slice of American cheese from the deli and you'll shave dollars off of your budget. And heck - make your own granola cereal - seriously.

5. STOP BUYING DRINKS - not the alcoholic kind - well, those too - but stop buy sodas and tons of juices and teas...WATER and MILK. You'll get used to it. You can do this.

6. EEK - GET A SECOND JOB - I know what you're saying "No she di-int!" "But my husband's hours are irregular...I can't pay for daycare" etc. etc. etc. There are a ton of excuses, but if you want to get ahead you have to sacrifice. Maybe you feel like working at the grocery store is below you, but who's gonna be the smart one when you're paying off your debt in a floundering economy?

7. GET RID OF YOUR STUPID CAR PAYMENT! You can't afford it. If the total cost of your car is half your income or more - it's too much. So, if you're making $40,000 a year and you have payments on a $20,000 car (or 2 $10,000 cars) - It's killing you financially. Sell the car private sale for what kbb.com says it's worth. I know, you're upside down right? I'm getting to that...Get a small loan out for what you're short to pay off the loan and possibly and extra thousand to get a little around-town car and rid yourself of that $400+ car payment. 

"But I need a safe car to drive my kids in!" I did the same thing when Hannah was born. I needed a band new car with side airbags in the back!! But, seriously...this is a POOR excuse. We have since paid cash for 2 older small cars that are doing just fine...and guess who didn't complain about rising gas prices! Both of our cars get over 30 miles per gallon and run just fine. They even have over 100,000 miles on them *gasp!* What will people think?! You're poor!? WHO THE HECK CARES!?! 

I only say these things because we've done/are doing them. My husband worked long and varying hours in the city with three hours of travel time per day...He would then have the bus drop him off in front of the house - change his close - and spend the rest of the evening making pizzas until he got a main job that paid more. And you know what? - during that time of making less money - we were able to pay off $11,000 in debt in one year. Since then, we've paid off another $15,000 (8 months) and hope to pay the last $8,000 off by the end of summer. This is do-able. That's what I'm trying to tell you! But, you HAVE to be willing to sacrifice!

I'm going to stop there for tonight, because I'm sure some will find this post annoying. I'm okay with that - because I'm not talking about anything we haven't done! I want people to thrive and suceed...to know that there is life beyond debt...that you can make compound interest work for you :) I want you to be encouraged.

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