Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Superlatives

Longest Checkout Lines: Target
Calmest Store: Kmart
Craziest Store: Toys R' Us
Overall Best Experience: Walmart
Craziest People In Line: Walmart

Stores where I struck out on some of the deals: Toys R' Us and Kmart
How many Kmarts I went to for the bike deal: 3 (still no bike)
Money Saved: $280
Worth it?: I'm still not sure.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm A Sucker for a Sweet Deal

I love a good Christmas card. I get excited about taping them to my doorway. I like the Christmas letter that lets you know what everyone is up to. And most of all I love the picture(s) that keep you apprised of how all of your family and friends are growing up who live long distances away.

Shutterfly has provided a great deal for bloggers. Basically after advertising them on your blog you are entitled to 50 free holiday cards. Paint me happy and call me crazy. It took not more than a moment for me to link on over to their site, see if there were any cards I loved, and start the easily navigated personalization of that card. Just a note, make sure you save your card along the way. We wouldn't want that hard work going to waste. Wondering which card I picked, well you may just have to wait until you receive yours in the mail in a couple of weeks. Here's a hint it includes a picture(s). If you're concerned your not on our family's mailing list, just send me an email with an address. With all this freeness, I am happy to be generous when all I am paying for is shipping and postage.

And because Shutterfly is so fantastically generous I expect cards from each of you too. Here is the link for you to start your shopping now. A girl has to be frugal in these economic times and Shutterfly really makes it easy and cute.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I Love...

I love little boys who sit patiently and cutely waiting in the store for me to finish up.I love buying 40 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken breast for $56.
I love that when we give each child 5 bullets, 16 of the total 20 hit the target.
I love that Travis is even better than the kids and a good teacher.
I love making gingerbread ornaments with Kody.
I love crepes. Especially these raspberry chocolate ones.
I love the cheetah Bella sculpted from salt clay.
I love the finished diorama that she created for her school project.

I love a good home improvement project. I love my friend who came over amidst her busy schedule to help me finish a project. Pictures to come.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just Another

So when 0 of 3 alarms typically set for a school day go off, it will lead to one manic Monday that started pretty crazily. What happened? Although my alarm was set I forgot I had changed it to another time for the weekend. And the two kids, well they just plain forgot. So when in my semi sleeping dream state, I think it's time to get up, I might just start listening instead of thinking, but my alarm hasn't gone off yet. And then later when I think in this same half lucid state, maybe your alarm hasn't gone off, but at least open your eyes and look at the clock it will come in handy to listen as I finally did. Because what should be a 6:30-6:40 wake up time quickly deteriorated to a 6:58 time. And when a bus comes at 7:15 that does not give you a lot of time. But with two fantastic kiddos and a flurried mess of activity anything can be accomplished at our house and so alas, my kids made the bus with breakfast, snacks, and homework all in hand. Kudos to me and the kids, I think this calls for some celebrating!

Friday, November 12, 2010

This and That

How I wish I could turn back time just a week or two and relive the cusp of changing leaves. Autumn is my favorite season and it always feels like the season passes too quickly and before I know it the leaves are already all on the ground exposing the bare branches.
But while sitting waiting for Issac to come out of Pre-K today, I looked up and saw this and just marveled at the beauty of the season. While Issac is at school, Kody and I have been engaging in one on one craft time what we like to call naked painting. When I look at this boy's total lack of hips and butt to hold up his pants I have to wonder where that came from because heavens knows, I have more than my fair share of junk in the trunk.
Last Saturday we went to Mt. Gretna Roller Rink for their school skate day. Although it was a total flop for a school activity, because next to no one showed up, our family had a blast and we actually taught the kids how to skate.
Bella actually got the whole gliding motion down and proved to be a good sport after an inital bout of crying and frustration at not being naturally good at everything. Travis broke out his skate dancing skills and made me fall in love with him all over again with his totally cute playfulness.
Kody started strong but was the first to be done. Issac, athlete that he is, took to it like a fish in water. Although not graceful or filled with gliding he fell done the least and engaged in a relay race. Wyatt handled as he does everything else, totally in stride. Since it was so empty I pulled the rink ref aside and had him show me how to skate backwards, a skill I had always envied from my own elementary and middle school days. By the end of the day I had even partially mastered the transition from front to back while skating, and back to front - which is suprisingly more complicated than the previous.
Also recently we had character dress up day at school. Unlike Halloween costumes and parades, after the fact they focus on storybook, fairy tale, and literary characters and dressing up - although there is some overlap. Issac wanted to be superman - see his full regala below. While the morning of Wyatt changed his mind and wanted to be a pig from the three little pigs. Twenty minutes, a glue gun, and my craft bin later I had fashioned him a pig nose and tail satisfiying his desires to be swine.
And last but not least as reward for my fabulous primary kids and their spectacular primary program singing, I made whoopie pies - 60 of them. Which is 120 little chocolate cake cookies. It was a mere "quintupling" of the original recipe. And as I baked that was what I thought about. What is that word? Four is quadrupling the recipe. What is five?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's All About Us

Recent photo session for family pictures was both nerveracking and fun.
I hoped we weren't the most annoying family to photograph. Our kids, despite what some think based on church behavior, can be quite wild.
But Laura, a friend and brilliant photographer, made the best of it and captured pure perfection -
our family having fun.
Although it was weeks ago, I'm just now posting because it took me forever to decide what I was printing, sending out in Christmas cards, etc...
Here are some of the not greatest ones that I am okay revealing ahead of time. If these are the not the best of the best ones imagine what the fantastic ones look like. I know, Laura really is brilliant and here is her new photography blog to prove it.(bliss - sigh!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Not So Manic Monday

What is the recipe for a not so manic Monday?
Well there is a long version and a short version!
The Long:
have someone clean up the house,
go to Weis to pick up more milk,
and do another load of dishes leftover from Sunday and having company over all before you wake up.
The Short:
marry Travis Whiting.
Man I got so lucky. I love this guy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Disease - I Think

It's something about that thin sheet of plastic on appliances and electronics that shouts to me, "do not touch". I know that most people remove it when they first get the item. I just can't do it. I recently did my washer and dryer, this set now almost 9 years old. My cell phone which is about four years old still has it on. And I have a certain 3 strike your out policy for ordering new phones. Well strike 1 and 2 have come with this phone, for malfunctions, and then this last week I went to retrieve it to find that one of the kids, I suspect Kody or Issac, was rough with my phone and cracked the LCD display. Now that I am getting a new phone can I remove the plastic piece on the verge of throwing it out. And as I sit her typing on my laptop I got for Mother's Day I see that all the plastic is fabulously intact around the monitor driving my friend absolutely nuts every time she uses it. I've tried to take it off twice, I just can't. My mother was the same way, covering her dryer with towels to preserve their newness. Perhaps it's a disease, if not, then I am just a freak.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fighting With the Joneses; Fighting With Me

If this post makes you think less of me, act like you've never read it:

Lately a lot of thoughts have been circling round my mind and all of them having to do with money. Am I obsessed? I think I could honestly say yes.

My first car was a $250 multicolored blue '86 Dodge Omni in college.
The car I am considering buying now a '07 Honda Civic.

My first house cost $132,000.
My house now cost, well let's just say considerably more.

Our income when we bought our first house was $36,000/yr.
Our income now, lets just say a little more.

Is this too much personal information? Possibly; but I use it to illustrate a point. I think it is safe to say that my standard of living is progressively getting better. But I also feel like there is pressure there too. I now live in a nice neighborhood and there are certain expectations. I don't think anyone here would appreciate me purchasing an '86 Dodge Omni with door handles that break off with some regularity, a muffler that could use fine tuning, and the battery's inability to hold a charge causing the need for semi-frequent jump starts. And quite frankly I don't have the desire to drive around drawing negative attention in that type of vehicle.

But I still have the desire to be a frugal, deal getting, penny pinching minx. And if that car runs great despite its aesthetic appearance, I still would want it. I still want to get the best possible deals on our family Christmas lists this year. I want to shout to everyone that this week I spent less than $101 on two week's worth of groceries for 6 people. I don't want to get a texting package when I don't think I need it, but am forced to consider it as my monthly bill is increasing due to others texting me, now making the texting plan a better deal after all. Can I tell people please do not text me? Call me, email me, facebook me - they are all free. And as my old phone is on the cusp of death do I go for a free standard flip phone that meets my needs or a PDA for free also, but where I must purchase a $20 multimedia package for a 2 year contract. When people look at me questioningly about the texting plan and the other very visible ways I try to save money I have to wonder - is it okay to explain that we live on half of our income due to taxes, saving for retirement, missions, and college for our kids, and donating the other half. And is it okay to be sad that I again will go another year without having my basement finished this year, because I refuse to go into debt at all minus my house. And is it okay to wonder if all this saving and frugality is sometimes pointless because of the total instability of our nation's financial future? And is my obsession with money of my own imposing helpful or hurtful?

Sometimes I just don't know.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Humbled By A Child

At the start of this year a paper arrived home via Bella's backpack. It was for WRE, a non-denominational Christian religious class that was offered to 3rd and 4th graders in the elementary school. Because it is a public school they cannot teach it in the school but instead bus the students over to our old middle school, now the town Rec Center. It was a permission slip to allow your child to attend this once a week class. I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand I am happy to see religion being revered and taught as openly as possible on the other I was nervous as to what they would be teaching. In the end if nothing else I thought it would be a good opportunity for Bella to hear a more broad perspective on Christianity and the Bible, and I hoped it would lead to many thought provoking conversations in our house.

It was last week as I returned home from somewhere, I can't remember now, and Bella sat at the kitchen counter talking to Travis. He had his scriptures flipped open. I could tell Bella had been asking questions. No big surprise, but I knew they must have been good ones for Travis to be searching his scriptures for references. For a while I listened and finally started to ask questions. What had the original question been? Travis and Bella quickly caught me up to speed. In WRE today they discussed the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent. They were discussing with the kids whether they thought the story was literal or figurative? And what evidence could support their opinions. Bella, now curious, had come home to inquire further about what we as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints knew. Already she has grasped the concept that because of the Book of Mormon and a living prophet we have more revelation and knowledge concerning Christian Doctrine than most religions. She wanted to know if our church knew whether the story was literal or figurative.

After discussing it more and going to the scriptures, Travis and I explained to her as best we could that this story like most of the Bible is made of up literal and figurative parts and that it was a tool that Jesus Christ used while he was alive and that Heavenly Father has been using since the beginning of time to teach people. It was used to teach people only what they were ready to learn and that the same story throughout life would take on many meanings as the people reading had learned more and understood more. We illustrated it was like with math at school. You couldn't teach someone to do algebra unless you taught them addition and subtraction and other more basic principles. Well this story was written so it could teach the most basic things as well as the really hard stuff all in one story.

We then told her that the more she studied the more she would learn about the story. And that more than anything after she studied if she prayed and asked Heavenly Father that he would teach her all the details that she wanted to know. She left to get ready for bed content and I left impressed with WRE and the influence it was having. And then it got better because Travis went up to tuck Bella in for bed for the night. Bella told Travis that she had prayed about Adam and Eve and she could feel Heavenly Father very close and he was happy that she was trying to learn about him and what was in the scriptures. And he told her that he would give her the answers if she continued to pray. She also wanted to know where in the Bible she could read the story to learn more. We showed her the sections in Genesis as well as in the Pearl of Great Price.

My heart was overflowing with tender feelings for a special daughter who exercised unlimited resources of faith. She had taken the simple council and teachings of the Lord and her parents and had tested them out. And as much as we promised her Heavenly Father would answer her prayers, he did. I can't help but think of her example and how it is so simple to just do those things the Lord asks of us. I am in awe of her maturity and blessed beyond belief to have her in my life. I feel closer to knowing my Father in Heaven as I am a mother, Bella as well as all of my kids teach me daily.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I Love....

being totally uninhibited and dancing the night away,
volunteering at the school, being room mom, and wearing ribbons in my hair,
Halloween, Halloween festivities, and all holidays,
going to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire with the family.beautiful fall days where my camera works and I get great pics,
making and eating yummy soup for cold days,
kids who no longer need hospitalized from croup,
Celtic music and dancing.
finding untapped skills and abilities within myself,
finding good deals and being cheap,
seeing my family happy and hearing good reports about my kids from others,
and date who work hard to earn good grades,
rewarding them with one on one parent time and bowling,
things that retain their sense of newness,
halloween trick or treating where all the kids are running from door to door.I love...LIFE!