Monday, August 31, 2009

Taking The Challenge

Owlhaven has become one of my favorite blogs. Mary is taking the month of September to focus on spending as little as possible. Her family includes 9 adopted children from all over the world and she is going to try to spend only $75 each week for groceries. Of course, she's challenged the rest of us to step up and join her.

I've been trying to curtail the grocery budget for a while now, anyway, so I thought this might be fun. I've actually been doing pretty well the past few weeks, but I'm going to try to do even a little better for the next month.

Before we moved, I was in a habit of grocery shopping on Fridays, which I like. However, our routine is different now that we are in the new house and homeschooling. We've also taken on a different approach to budgeting, so the Friday thing just isn't going to work for now. That's ok.

We've decided to alot X amount of dollars per pay period for each of our expenditures, which includes groceries. We'll be paying with cash only. No debit cards. It's incredible the psychological effect cash has vs. the debit card, even though I know the "cash" is coming right out of my checking account when I use the card. I'm completely stingy with the greenbacks.

Doug got paid today, so I went grocery shopping for the week. Honestly, I wanted to spend less than $50. I didn't make it, but only overspent by about $8. That's still not bad and much better than what we've spent in the past. Here's what I got from Food 4 Less (I really hate the multi-store approach):

Not pictured: a gallon of milk

Gallon of milk - 2.78

Trix yogurt - 2.58 (I HATE this yogurt, but the kids go nuts for it. I'm thinking of making my own. We'll see.)

Coffee Creamer - 2.06 (I know I could live without it, but I really want to enjoy my new deck & need the creamer for the great coffee I'm going to have on these great mornings)

Honey Buns - 1.28 (Another splurge. Should've left these at the store)
Smart Chicken Breasts - 5.07 (Could've bought cheaper, but really would prefer organic. This is my compromise)

Cheerios - 2.68
Coffee - 2.98
Mushroom Soup - 1.24
Chicken broth - 2.87
Hot Dog Buns - .76
Apple Juice - 1.16
Green Beans - 2 @ .48
Sliced pineapple - .98
Alfredo Sauce - 2.98 (Jackson won't eat the red sauce.....what's a mom to do?)
Toilet paper - 4.78
Hot Dogs - .98 (Doug's choice for lunch. He doesn't seem to care about the nitrites...ugh)
Broccoli crowns - 4.11
Peaches - 2.21
Grapes - 2.12
Spinach - 1.98
Bag of onions - 1.38
Celery - .98
5# bulk carrots - 3.25
Baby carrots - 2.28 (Seems redundant, but the kids LOVE the baby carrots)
Raisins - 1.58


I went over the $50 goal, but considering I got a few extras I'm ok with that. I could've been under $50 if I'd left the coffee & creamer, yogurt, honey buns and made Jackson suffer with no alfredo. A few of these things will probably last into next week, so maybe I can make up for it then.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blogs For A Cause

As I've been reading several adoption blogs, I've come across several really cute ones designed by Blogs For A Cause. Nikki is offering a special for the month of September. You can read about it here.

I've been so inspired by young women like this who are dedicating their young lives to helping others! If I were without the responsibilities of my own kiddos, I would want to be like these gals. In fact, if I could figure out a way to do it now with my family, I would.

Check out what Katie is doing in Uganda here. Katie is amazing! She is only about 20 years old and has changed so many lives. She is the mother of 13 girls! 13!! And that's only what she does when she's home!

Sophie's story is incredible, too. It's here.

Renee is also in Uganda, feeding hundreds of people each week. One person - feeding hundreds. I want to be one person like that. Her blog is here.

I am SO blessed by an AMAZING, INCREDIBLE God!! I truly believe that He expects me to use it for His good, to bless others. Doug and I have both changed so much over the past year. We are so very different than we were even such a short time ago. We both believe that God has a purpose and plan for our marriage and for our family. It is our intention to live our lives differently than we ever have. I hope that will be evident to you as the days and weeks pass.

I am more excited about my God and my life than I have ever been and I am anxiously waiting and praying to see where He leads. I'm preparing for an adventure and I can't wait! Stay tuned!

Homeschool and Silver Dollar City

A few pics from SDC. I thought Harrison was looking at where the water came up out of the ground. Upon closer investigation, I found he was getting a drink!!

We took a trip to Silver Dollar City again with some friends this week and had a GREAT time! This is the perfect time of year to go, since everyone else has gone back to school. We rode almost all the rides and never had to wait. The weather was beautiful, too. It couldn't have been better.

We are enjoying homeschool and one of the biggest benefits to is that we are no longer tied down to someone else's schedule. We are enjoying a slower pace in life. We are able to do the extra things we want without being rushed in the evenings and on weekends trying to cram it all in.

It's also really neat to see how the little ones are already anxious to do what their big brother is doing. They both usually choose to sit at the table with Jackson and color or do their own "school work". If they aren't sitting up at the table, they are just below us in the floor playing with puzzles, blocks, K'Nex, looking at books, etc. They participate in activities that are appropriate, such as free reading and read aloud time. It's nothing much different than differentiated teaching in a classroom.

Jackson is doing a great job with his schoolwork. He is usually finished with language arts, math and reading long before lunch time. This gives us the rest of the day to do whatever we want. We haven't officially started science or social studies yet, but I'm positive we'll still be finished before noon even with those subjects added.

Because we have our afternoons free, we have plenty of time to get together with other kids for lots of activities and play time. Here is what a typical day looks like.

7:30 - 8:00 - Morning Jobs
Everyone wakes up and kids begin their Morning Jobs. Jackson and Carter have checklists under a wipe-off sleeve. They check off their jobs as they are finished with a dry erase marker. This includes eating breakfast and loading their dishes into the dishwasher.

8:30ish - Language Arts & Math
Breakfast is finished. Jackson stays at the table and begins writing in his journal. He also completes his handwriting practice and takes a spelling test (Sequential Spelling) each day. He completes a math lesson and a Shurley Grammar lesson.

10:00ish -Free time
He has several choices of activities he can do during this time. He has to do each of the activities once before he can repeat any activity. I actually have a chart that has the entire day scheduled into 30-minute blocks. He has several blocks of free time in the afternoon. Forcing him to use all his choices before doing one a second time keeps him from positioning himself in front of the TV or Wii all afternoon. He is allowed to watch PBS cartoons and play Wii, but must incorporate the other choices into the schedule as well.

10:30ish - Reading
He has one book each week that he practices for fluency. We are also reading a chapter book together called How To Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. He is a great decoder, so we are focusing on comprehension and fluency. If we have something else to do, we put reading off until the afternoon or early evening. As we get into science and social studies, we'll be incorporating lots on non-fiction, content related reading as well.

11:15ish - FINISHED!!

Our extra activities include:
  • Book Club at the Library Center, which meets every other Monday afternoon
  • CMA music class each Friday afternoon
  • Art class each Wednesday at the Springfield Art Museum
  • Classical Conversations from 9 - 3 every Tuesday
  • Royal Rangers on Wednesday evenings at Parkcrest Assembly of God
  • Children's Church on Sunday mornings and evenings
  • Junior Bible Quiz on Sunday afternoons
  • Regular trips to the YMCA to play
  • Anything else that comes up we want to do!
We are so blessed to have this opportunity! I'm so thankful.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Training Wheels For Carter!

Carter finally took off without his training wheels this morning! He's been riding really well for a long time. I tried to get him to take them off several months ago, but he was completely freaked out and wouldn't even really try. This morning, I left him with a friend while I went to an appointment. When I got back, an hour later, he was riding her kid's bike in her drive with no training wheels. He was SO proud! He said God was really proud of him, too!

We promptly went right home and took the training wheels off his own bike and he is already a pro!

The boys are growing and changing so fast. I adore them so much and have enjoyed them more than I ever thought possible. Being their mom and watching them grow is the very best part of my life. They are SO much fun!

Jackson Lost His Last Front Tooth!

Jackson lost his last front tooth over this past weekend. We were in West Plains when the big event took place. He lost the other one on top about a week ago after he got kicked in the face while we were swimming in the pool. That was a little dramatic, but he recovered and has a great story to tell. After that one came out, he started wiggling the other one. Once he realizes they are loose, he's pretty determined to get it out. The very first tooth he lost came out in just one afternoon!

He doesn't look completely toothless because the permanent teeth are already coming in. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if they would ever fall out or not. He's just starting second grade and most kids have lost their front teeth by now.

Braces, and maybe even more difficult dental work, are definately in his future. Unfortunately, it looks like he got some bad dental genes. He's missing a couple permanent teeth, which is going to mean some sort of reconstruction of current baby teeth or constructing new ones to implant where the permanent ones should be. And, the ones he has are already crowded. We'll deal with that later, though.

For now, he is happy to have blessed the tooth fairy with another gem for her collection.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I found this story on another blog I follow, Owlhaven. Praise and worship is such an important part of my life. I can't imagine life without music. This little girl, Gracyn Denbesten, has an amazing voice and an amazing testimony.

She was 9, I think, when she got sick and needed a heart transplant. You can read about her at her Caring Bridge site or at This video is of Gracyn and Kari Jobe singing one of my favorite praise and worship songs, Healer.

Kari Jobe is an amazing artist and has lots of incredible worship music available.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


These aren't our first tomatoes from the garden, but I think they are the largest we've had. This is the plate I put on the dinner table this evening. The orange was my favorite. It's an heirloom variety that I started from seed, called Orange Oxheart. It is one of the best tomatoes I've ever had, I think. It was almost completely "meat" with very few seeds compared to other varieties and sweet flavor. The red one is also an heirloom, Cherokee Purple. I purchased seeds from Baker Seed Company in Mansfield, MO.

The tomatoes have all done well, with the exception of a short infestation of tomato horn worms. They were disgusting and almost destroyed two of the four plants. I was diligent about checking them daily - sometimes more than once a day, to pull worms off and remove any egg sacs I found. I also used DM. I'm not sure what is was that actually worked, or if they just went away. Thankfully, though, the plants survived and we've been enjoying tomatoes for a few weeks now. I'm going to miss them when they are gone.

I'm already looking forward to next year's growing season. Since we've moved, we are going to have to do quite alot of work in the backyard to get it ready for planting. It will be fun to see how it progresses.

Quote of the Week

I love good quotes. They inspire me. I'm going to try to blog one every week or so that I really like. I found this one on another blog this evening.

"Live as if Christ died yesterday, rose this morning and is coming back tomorrow."
- Martin Luther

Saturday, August 15, 2009

TOMS Shoes - YouTube - TOMS and Podo

We are so blessed! Don't be surprised if you get a pair of TOMS shoes for your next present from me. When you buy one pair, you are really purchasing two. One pair for you and another for someone in need. Love it.

The hardest part is trying to decide which pair to buy!

TOMS Shoes - YouTube - TOMS and Podo

Shared via AddThis

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frugal Family Fun Blog

Hey, I just found this blog called Frugal Family Fun Blog and think I'm going to like it alot. Thought you might like it, too. She's doing a giveaway for some eco-friendly cleaning products, which I'd love to try. I'll let you know if I win!

Along the frugal line of thinking, I think I'd really like to try sewing. I don't have a machine and honestly, I'm not even sure what I'd make. It just looks like fun and I've seen some stuff that is so darn cute. I would like to maybe make some curtains and put the kids' names on their walls somehow. Don't know, though. Like I said, I don't have a machine. I think I'll start checking Craigs List. Maybe I could get a good deal.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

House Pictures

View of dining area from living room.

Living room. The door to the left goes out onto the covered deck. There is a window to the right of the fireplace and the ceilings are vaulted.

The kitchen. There is a large pantry just to the left, which separates the kitchen from the living room. There is also a door to the garage and the laundry to the left.

This is the playhouse in the backyard. We're going to put the slide in so that the boys can will slide off their deck.
The back of the house from the ground behind the pool. The yard is really sloped, which will be a project in the years to come.

The entryway. The frog isn't there any more, it belonged to the previous owner. We may re-do the pond/fountain and will add some colorful flowers next summer. The boys want fish. Not too sure about that yet.

The entryway and stairwell from the living room.
We still have a lot of things on the "To Do" list, but nothing is so important that it has to be done right away. We have already built a fence around the small deck that is attached to the pool. I do need to paint a bathroom and have plans of painting the boys' room and a wall in the kitchen. That will all get worked in as we can get it done, since school is starting.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Harrison and his great-grandma, Treva Hammond, when he was just home from the hospital.

Papa Rod with Carter and Harrison. Carter was 2 1/2 and Harrison was just a few months old. Carter had used a permanent marker and put "make-up" on.

Nana and Carter "camping" in her bedroom - and Sadee, too, of course. Carter has his favorite, the firetruck blankey. They're laying on a quilt that my great-grandma, Anne Tannehill, made.

Jackson and Doug's dad, Papa Lee.

I just read an article on another blog (here) about grandparents. It made me think of my own grandparents and my parents, who are now grandparenting my own sons. My sons and I are all very blessed.

I've been so blessed with wonderful grandparents of my own, that I adore and miss very much. They are such an important part of my life and who I have become. If I had a wish or two to be granted, one would definately be to have them back so they could see me now and meet their great- and great-great grandsons. I am fortunate to have one grandmother with me still, which I am so thankful for. I have great childhood memories of all of them. I can't imagine growing up without them.

Now, my sons are enjoying those same types of things with my parents. Because we live in different towns now, they have opportunities to spend days at a time with them, which is such a grand adventure for the boys. I know they are making memories they will treasure forever.

This past week, Jackson and Carter spent four nights with my mom and her husband, Jim. Nana and Papa Jim took them camping in St. James two nights. Some of the highlights were Carter falling off a merry-go-round, which he deemed "awesome". Jackson rode his bike into the river, where it got a good washing. Oh.. and at the end of one day, when Carter's legs were hurting (which they often do...that's another story), he came to Nana crying and said, "They hurt so bad that if you don't do something, I'm going to have to hop on one leg tomorrow." Well, I'm not sure Carter will remember that, but I don't think Nana is going to forget anytime soon.

Toward the end of last month, we spent a week in West Plains. The kids had a great time at Papa Rod's house riding four-wheelers and doing things that they can only do with Papa. Great-Grandma Hammond played catch with them in the shade under the walnut tree behind her store. They rode Uncle Homer's tractor and played in the loft of his barn.

We are so blessed. I can't imagine not having this family. I didn't ask for my place in this family and this time. I didn't earn them. God put me here, and I am so thankful. It's unfathomable to me, that there are people in this nation and all over the world who have no one. James 1:27 (NIV) says this:

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I hope that one day, God will look at my life and deem that my religion was pure. I am so blessed.

Quote of the Day

You don't really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around - and why his parents will always wave back.

- William D. Tammeus

Friday, August 7, 2009

Home Sweet Home

What a week! I am still tired and trying to recover from all the loading, unloading, unpacking and organizing. We've been in the new house a week now and we are very happy with our purchase. I still have a lot of organizing to do, although I think most everything is unpacked now.

As far as the house goes, it is the nicest home we've had. It's about 3500 sq. ft. of living space. The basement is finished, which is a huge blessing. My office, homeschool space, play area, family room, bathroom #3 and a huge storage room are all in the basement. The main level is pretty standard - 3 bedroom and 2 bathrooms. The living room is large and open to the dining area, which is off the kitchen. I have tons of cabinets and counter space, which I love. There is a huge pantry with room for our dry goods, cookbooks and small appliances. I even have a few cabinets that are still empty after everything has been put away. There is extra storage space all over the house, which is great. The only thing I don't like is that my washer and dryer are in a closet off the kitchen.

The back yard is pretty sloped, which isn't great, but the kids don't care. It has a nice above-ground pool they are pretty focused on. There is a playhouse, too, with a deck and some neat hiding places. There are three decks on the back of the house, which is nice and will hopefully be put to use for lots of BBQs and family gatherings.

There is still a ton of decorating to do. Since our basement is finished and so big, we put most of our "old" stuff down there. That means there are empty spaces upstairs that need to be filled. That's ok, though, I don't mind shopping! :) It will get finished over time and will be a fun treasure hunt.

My camera battery charger and card reader slipped through my fingers during the move. I've located the charger, but my card reader ended up at my Dad's house in West Plains. I'll post pictures of the house when I get the reader back, which will hopefully be over the weekend.