Monday, September 24, 2012

ALDI's vs. BJ's

Here is my first installment of Aldi's vs BJ's.  I went shopping last week and kept track of all the prices of things that I purchased at BJ's.  Then, I went to Aldi's with my notebook to write down the prices of comparable- non-name brand things from Aldi's.  I wanted to share my findings with you because- really who has time to do this kind of thing?  I know I don't, but I am a nut, and did it anyway.
Keep in mind that almost all the things at Aldi's are generic; you can't use coupons most of the time.  AT BJ's everything is name brand and, they will actually allow you to combine the BJ's coupons and the manufactures coupons for a double discount.
I will do this again with a different shopping list so you can get a feel for their prices on other things.
That being said, check out my spreadsheet to see who won.  NOTE: the highlighted boxes are the cheaper items.  Spreadsheet

Friday, September 21, 2012

Working on something helpful...

I am working on a list of items that we regularly buy (groceries we get every week).  I am pricing them between BJ's and Aldi's.  Some of the findings are surprising.....Keep your eyes open- I'll have a link to it soon.  This way you'll know what's worth the money to buy in bulk and what is not! This is for my friend Kara who asked me- "Is BJ's really cheaper?"- she's about to have a baby and I know she doesn't have time to research this herself.  I wanted to help her out and might as well pass along the info to you!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Give em what they want.

Raising kids is no easy task and there really aren't any manuals that come tailored specifically for your child.  The Bible has awesome guidance and helps us to know what traits are good and which are not.  So, I often find myself referring to it.

I know how it happens.  You're in a store and Sarah sees something she wants.  She starts to beg.  "Mommy please can I have that toy???? Please?"  You tell her no, because it was not a planned purchase.  Well, Sarah doesn't like that response in any way, shape, or form.  So, Sarah turns it up a notch.  The whole scene escalates till out of fear of looking like a bad mommy, you cave and give her what she wants.

The score: Sarah-1 Mommy-0.

This is a common scenario and it has happened to all of us.  Luckily, I read many books, talked to friends, watched parents, and learned that this is not a good strategy.  It may make that moment in time a little more comfortable- but it sets mommy and Sarah up for many more fights down the road.

Early on, I taught my kids that no matter how they beg, they're not going to get what they want (article coming soon- Toddler Prep).  They cannot and should not ask for things in the store.  If they want me to consider a purchase, they can ask me while I am making the list.

Once our oldest son understood the expectations, he passed it down to the younger ones. They saw his example and knew that mommy means what she says.

Our kids are not spoiled, as a result.  So far, all their clothes are hand me downs or from garage sales- they don't care- they haven't even noticed (plus in the area where we live you have really awesome neighborhood garage sales).    They think that going to Dunkin Donuts for an 99 cent ice cream is a big celebration. They think that going to the amusement park (the cheapest one I can find) for a day is a vacation.  Tent camping for a week every summer is the most exciting thing of all.  They get excited over things that other kids wouldn't.  Having 4 kids would completely break the bank if it weren't for their joy "in the small stuff."

The key is being persistent. Don't give up/in.  Ask God for help, if you're feeling like you can't do it.  He will carry you through.  And, if you fail- there is always tomorrow.

I am not saying you need to dress your kids in rags and deprive them of things.  Our children are given everything they need- and then some and LOTS of LOVE!  And isn't that the most important gift they can have?

While raising our kids, I constantly ask myself:  What kind of traits are important for them to have as adults?  Yes, I fail- we all do!  But, they are not going to be God-fearing, generous, kind, loving, strong, and confident by chance.  It is intentional hard work.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Spelling Elimination- Homeschool Helps

The spelling curriculum that we are using for our son is written by Abeka.  Abeka tends to be somewhat intense in their requirements- especially in spelling.  Our son (6th grade) has 35 spelling words a week and 15 of those are full fledged definition words.  I tried to figure out how to give him all the words yet not overwhelm him to the point of tears (I do not like to skip anything- so I had to think of something).

I decided that Mondays would be "Spelling Elimination" days.  On Monday, we take the new list and I quiz him.  Whatever words he gets right on the first try are no longer on his list for that week.  Why make a student study something they already know well?  His list is then made up of the words/definitions that he doesn't know.

He still ends up with approximately 7-9 spelling words and 10 definitions.  But, that's much better for his morale, confidence, and his time management.  He writes each word/definition 3x each in cursive (getting our cursive writing in) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Friday is his test.  I wish I could do creative things for his spelling but he truly is a repetition learner.

 But, anyway, I thought you might want to use this idea if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

IBS my foot!


I have struggled with my lower digestive system for a long time.  Back in college I had to have a colonoscopy because I went 10 days without "going".  I know - gross, but I am giving you a background history here.  In the interim years, I would have attacks that would cause pain- bloating, constipation....etc.  Well, for the past year, I have been fighting constant constipation and not much helps (I've tried a lot of things, believe me).  I had another colonoscopy done (normal results)- no celiac found, and I don't think I have a problem with lactose.  The doctors just called it IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndorme) and sent me on my way.

I saw a post on pinterest about lemon and cucumber water being a "natural detox".  I didn't really think that would do much so I ignored it.  Then a friend of mine had it for her guests at a birthday party and I loved how it tasted.  So, a couple of weeks later I made it for our company who was visiting out of town for the weekend.  I mentioned to our guests that it was supposedly a detox and I rolled my eyes to show my disbelief.

Well, the next morning one of my visitors said, "Holy Cow, you were right!"  Hmmm!  So wouldn't you know, it is.  For the past week, I've been drinking about 2 glasses a day and I feel wonderful.  Seriously- I feel great.  No more gas pain, bloating and everything else that goes along with it.  FYI- I also have been found to have Esophagitis and Gastritis so I am sure that played into some of the discomfort.

So how do you make lemon/cucmber water?  Take a gallon of water and add a half of a cumber (diced) and a whole lemon (diced).   Wash the the lemons and cucumbers first! And leave the rinds on.  I only drink two large glasses per day so The gallon lasts a couple of days- but the lemon slices and cucmber last 3 days in the fridge- so just refill the pitcher when it's low.  But, after 3 days, throw away the cucumber & lemon.

I am not sure if I am helping my gastritis or hurting because there is acid in lemons- I guess that remains to be seen. But, I had to find a solution to the uncomfortable state I was in.

I'll update you if there are changes, but it's been a week of feeling like a normal person again!

BTW- If you suffer from diarrhea- this will probably NOT help you!   here's a link to a site that give a recipe

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Teaching Children to Handle Money Wisely

I was never taught how to handle money.  Not really, or at least not that I can remember (sorry Mom and Dad).  I would be in tons of debt if it weren't for my Hubby and all the research he's done.  He's a planner.  I am not.  He budgets, I just follow his lead.

Kids often do not get training in how to handle money and we have seen the results of that.  Devastating results have occurred in our society.  And don't get me started on work ethic.

We certainly want a better financial upbringing for our children than either of us had.  We needed to put a plan into action.  Our children are 3, 5, 9, and 11.  We already had a summer chore chart (see link) in action for which, on completion, our children were paid.  This helped us to still have a somewhat clean house and a very FUN summer.

More importantly, our son who is 11 started making money in the neighborhood mowing lawns.  He has made well over $200 dollars doing this.  He is saving up for a tablet computer.  As soon as he started bringing home his money, we taught him to figure out the percentage he needed to save and the percentage he needed to give to church.  He put 30% aside for savings and 10% for church.  He can do whatever he wants with the other 60% (within reason- he's only 11).  We opened a savings account for him and we started dropping his 30% off to the bank.

Again, I believe there's a window of time (see link) in a child's life when this can be done easily and when it will be like PULLING teeth.  If you wait till their teens, it may be too late.  Because, "who do you think you are to tell me what to do with my own money?" would probably come out of their mouths all too easily.  And, our younger ones don't really "get it" yet.  So, for them we will wait a bit.

This savings plan will hopefully become so habitual that he will do this automatically as an adult.  Of course, there's a lot more that we need to teach him. But for now, this has been a good start.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Forced Organization

I haven't written in a while because I have been getting ready for an unexpected change in our lives/schedule.    I was asked to teach music at a local school- out of the blue.  This will definitely change our schedules, our day and the way we handle our everyday paperwork.

We will continue to home-school our 11 year old, send our two middle kids to private school, and chase after the 3 year old at home.  There will be lots of paper work to juggle.  I am not an organized person by nature, so this will be a stretch.

First, I had to find all the books, materials, paperwork...etc. for music teaching that I had set aside 11 years ago when I had my son.  I have to admit, it was so fun to go through all the stuff and see how much I stretched my students.  I saw cards that they wrote to me.  It was really nice to see!

This is what I ended up with.
We don't have an office on our first floor anywhere and we don't have too much shelf space.  So I was trying to figure out what to do with all this stuff.  I kept what I thought I needed and I reorganized all the shelves in the family room to accommodate it.

Our son has a room that is dedicated to just his homeschooling but it is downstairs and out of the central area of the home where I would need my materials.

There is a shelf dedicated to music books, handouts, portfolio, testing, concert planning.

This shelf is for music teaching materials and home school tests/quizzes

 the last shelf is for the wii paraphernalia and his binders that hold all of his graded work for all subjects and his Art books:

I then had to tackle the amount of paper coming into the house.  We have three kids in school, two in soccer, Hubby is leading a Lego Robotics club and an Awana club.  I am helping in Awana, teaching music at school and helping to lead worship at church 2 Sundays/month.  
So, needless to say, things are definitely crazy here.

This was my solution to tackle the papers coming in:

The top 3 bins are for our school age children, the bottom is  for hubby and I to share and the planner in front is the Brain of the house.  It's the go to place to see what's going on.

Please pray for us as we enter this new phase.  It'll be difficult to juggle all these things but they are all things where we feel called and we are blessed by them.  

Two Junk Drawers consolidated into 1!  With an electronics drawer.  See BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURES:



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Alone on Stage

Even though I have been singing in public my whole life, I still get nervous when singing a solo alone on stage.  I get cold, sweaty palms, shaky knees, and by the time I am done, I feel like I am going to pass out.  I know a lot, if not all, of this is normal.  But, it's still nerve wracking.

I was asked to sing today at a church in Ohio- where my in-laws live.  And, I really wanted things to be different this time.  The song is only for God's glory anyway- so why should I be nervous?

Instead of praying my normal prayer of, "God please help this go well and may You be praised."  I prayed that God would strip away all those things that make me feel like I am held back (article called HELD BACK).  I prayed that he would take away anything that makes me feel unsure of the GOD GIVEN talent He has given me and that He would be glorified and people would be blessed and be pointed straight to Him.

As you know, I have been struggling with feeling held back, not able, for some reason, to give things my all. Well, God answered my prayer.  I was not nervous one bit, and the song went very well.  It was truly better than anything I have done recently.

My prayers were answered.

My prayers for you are that you also would find those God given talents and use them to the best of your ability to encourage others and glorify God.  That you would not be held back in any way but move forward with the grace, blessing, and mercy of Jesus Christ the Lord.