Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January: Birthday's, Family, Fun Times

Abby on her 2nd Birthday having pancakes on the "special plate!"


 January flew by with two birthdays, our 9th anniversary and a lot of family visiting from out of state. It was crazy around here - but oh so fun! Here is our January in pictures, since they tell the tales much better than I  can in  words. Sorry for the blur, my camera settings were of and I was a little busy enjoying my life to spend much time photographing it. When I did download the pictures I noticed a setting on my camera was wrong.... oops!
Grandma Patti came to visit! Oh the fun! She watched the kids over our Anniversary so we could escape for a weekend away. Delightful! Thank you Patti!

Nana was over a lot with Great Nana. Oh how we miss Great Nana!

Uncle Howard and Papa from Seattle spent time with the kiddo's!

The boys loved using Papa as a jungle-gym!

Lots of time was spent outside getting rid of all that energy! Even Abby keeps up on her bike now!


Abby & Uncle Howard were especially close.

Drew decorated Abby's Birthday wrapping.

Abby on her special day and her Tutu from Aunt Sherri!

Cupcake Time!


Drew's Birthday - he turned 7!

Drew loved to make play-dough creatures.

Grandma Carol made Abby and the boys beautiful crocheted hats!

Pajama Day - kind of.....

Abby loves this hat!

Drew on his Birthday with her new hat from Grandma Carol!

Abby with one of her new hats, broken out in a rash from something she ate. Poor baby!

The boys received dog houses to paint from Mrs. Kelly - entertained them for hours!!!The puppies that go inside are so cute!

Gabers and his favorite airplane  from Christmas.

Sweet boy!

Abby giving Grandma Carol snails from the garden - her favorite past time.

Time to play at the park with Grandma Patti!
Cabella's with Papa Tractor.
It was a busy January. We're looking forward to getting back into a routine of sorts.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Inscriptions for Drew: You Are 7!

My darling Drew,

I can't believe you have turned 7 years old. What an inquisitive boy you have turned into this year. You are always asking the question "Why" with genuine interest. You love to learn new things and are always bounding around the house with fresh energy. It is hard for all of us to keep up with your fast pace most days. I am sure God has great plans for all that energy - I call it your "change the world" energy because that energy will be used to accomplish great things for the Lord someday.

You are in 1st grade, you love Science and experiments. You loved Math the first part of the year, but are now not too thrilled with it since the routine doesn't vary too much from day to day. You are learning to read! I'm so proud of all the hard work you are putting in.  You tell me all the time how much you dislike reading because it is "just so hard." Don't worry my son, the very art of reading is teaching you perseverance and self control. I know it is hard to work each  day on something you aren't too crazy about, but one day reading will come easy and it will take you on wonderful adventures! Keep up all the hard work my son - you are learning so much and I'm so proud of you.

Drew, you are a special little boy. You do not fit any mold - you are unique and very outside the box. You are a joy to talk and share ideas with. Your favorite past time is sitting on the couch and sharing life with your momma. You love to talk about your dreams and plans and your next experiment. You adore Lego's and can sit for hours putting sets of them together. Your favorite books are the Magic Tree House adventures. You loved listening to the Little House books this year, your favorite character is their bulldog Jack! Your favorite past time is climbing trees - whenever I can't find you, I just look up! You scare me all the time with how high  you climb.

This 7th year of life is going to bring great changes in your life - you are growing into a boy and we are training you to be more responsible and helpful around the house. I know that servant heart will be matured this year, you are working on learning to clean the bathrooms, empty the dish washer and load the washing machine. You already know how to vacuum downstairs which has been a huge help. While you are 7, you will finally begin to earn an allowance and have specific chores associated with those responsibilities. Drew, you are such a huge example to your brother and sister. They look up to you and do everything that you do.

I pray that this next year you will grow more in maturity and stature. I pray you will come to know and comprehend the grace of God and His sacrifice on the cross for your sins. I pray that this year you will come into the family of Christ - that the verse from Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord..." will become true and realized in your life. I pray that this year you will grow in self control and dependability. I see you struggling between growing into a boy and staying a child - turn to the Lord and ask Him for guidance and wisdom.

Drew - God made you so unique - you are sensitive and kind, gentle and honest. I love the boy that you are becoming. Just remember that the Lord is waiting to send the Holy Spirit to live in your heart and from that moment on you will never walk in your own strength again, but you will walk in the strength of the Lord who will give you great power to overcome sin.

Love,
Momma


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Eden

Only in Eden will I truly be satisfied. However, I'm not in Eden and I'm called to be "content in all circumstances," so today I spent a lot of time counting my blessings. I have so very many and the more I thanked God the more content I became. Unfortunately, I decided to have the boys clean out the van for me which turned into a 2 hour ordeal of the boys being distracted, not listening, not cleaning, and Abby falling out of the van and hitting her noggin. Poor baby will have a large goose egg in the morning. Daddy came home to the  rescue and miraculously the boys got to work without grumbling or complaining. I headed off for a stress relieving workout, a vegi taco and some quiet time to think and pray and finish a chapter in my book on the subject of praying over relinquishing.

I love how God draws me close and renews my spirit when I call on Him. I had a wonderful evening, reflecting on the messages He has been sending me about contentment, allowing and actually encouraging  my kiddo's to be average students. I need to bring more encouragement and less guilt. The purpose of schooling at home is to model and show my kids a Big God who has Big plans for their lives. I pray they would fall madly in love with Him and follow His plans and purposes for their futures. I'm building character & love for Jesus - all the rest is icing on the cake.

1022. Wonderful reunion with my M2M mentors and friends who share their lives and struggles.

1023. Blessed to be married and have a partner to do life with. A sweet friend that I know through M2M (not terrible well), lost her husband over Thanksgiving. She is my age with 3 children 7 months to 5 years old. She is one busy woman and is handling the loss of her husband with such grace. I am sure she isn't feeling graceful, but she encouraged me today by coming back to M2M and just letting us love on her.

1024. Praying over the boys and having them ask me to keep praying for them.

1025. Prayers for my littles  that penetrate my heart throughout the day.

1026. Resting with Gabe and having him sing me tons of silly songs while I stroked his back.

1027. Watching my husband read with his sons each night before bed. They are going through the goo and gore of the Old Testament via the  Brick Bible (comic style with Lego's as the characters).

1028. Abby running over to me at the park when a stranger looked at her and asked if her mommy was around.

1029. Drew climbing trees - his favorite past time. At the park he settled for the monkey  bars!

1030. Drew praying for me this morning " that  I would be slow to Anger and quick to listen."

1031. Time alone at my favorite little coffee shop with my "Phil Wickham" radio station on Pandora and a good book.

1032. Burning calories while memorizing my Fighter Verse for the week.

1033. Prayers of surrender - surrender for my plans and my desires and an invitation for God to write on my heart the desires of His heart.


“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”
Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Organic Grocery Budget

In an effort to be healthier and know what we're putting in our  bodies, we've been going green. Yes, the crazy coupon queen who always got a thrill with spending less and buying more is singing a different tune. We're going green and spending more money on groceries yet I would like to argue that we are still spending the same, if not less, and have more money set aside for future medical care and are much healthier. How is that possible - you ask?

Well, we went from a 375.00 per month grocery budget (2010) for  a family of 5, to a 500.00 per month grocery budget (7/2011-present). That is an increase of 125.00 which allows us to eat primarily organic!  We were spending 200.00 per month on co-pays and medication for the  family. We are now down to no medications. Sing Hallelujah!  I then took the 75.00 savings between grocery increases & medication/co-pays and are putting that, plus an additional 25.00 that I found in the budget due to the pre- tax savings, into our HSA.  Before our HSA, we were missing out on the pre-tax benefits for all our medical care - ouch!. Our HSA (Health Care Savings Account) will rolls over each month and follow us into retirement! We have an added incentive to being healthy!  Please note an HSA is different than a FSA (Flexible Spending Account), which  you must use in full each year.  An HSA uses pre-tax funds and you never lose what you don't use!

We also have some additional health savings which aren't calculated into this equation - I increased our family deductibles to 1,000 & 1,200 which we haven't tapped into because we're quite healthy, and I am saving 100.00 per month, we are also saving 120.00 per month on dental insurance and paying out of pocket for our teeth cleanings which don't cost us more than 400.00 per year for routine dental cleanings 2x per year.  That is a savings of 240.00 per month. That extra 240.00 goes into our long term savings account in the event we need to use our high deductible AND we already used the HSA in full. I love that!

So some have asked - how is it that you only spend 500.00 a month on Organic groceries for 5 people. This includes all paper products, diapers, pull ups, hygiene products, and anything else you would buy at a grocery store. I think 500.00 is a lot compared to  what I use to spend but still find it fun to make sure I stay within the budget. Here is my monthly breakdown on food based on where I shop:

    • 100.00 Azure Standard  Order Monthly
    • 30.00 Zaycon Foods  Order Bi-Annually all our Ground Beef & Chicken
    • 60.00 Costco
    • 50.00 Amazon
    • 18.00 Farm Fresh Eggs
    • 60.00 Texas Daily Harvest (2 gal Milk per week)
    • 75.00 Sprouts (Fruit/Vegi's/org Creamer)
    • 75.00 Kroger/Tom Thumb (various organic discounted items, milk for yogurt, almond milk for smoothies)
    • 25.00 Colleyville Farmers Market (Local, in season produce)
    • 8.00 Bread Store (Mrs Bayrd's for sandwhich bread 1.25 Ora-wheat bread day old 14 loaves every 2 Months)
Total: 501.00 Monthly
For the Azure Standard, Costco and Amazon purchases I allocate monthly for larger items, many I only order 1 to 2x per year. Here is a list of what I frequent each month at Azure Standard, their catalog is so large it is hard to know where to start!


Azure Monthly
Org Walla Walla Sweet Onions 3 lbs                 3.45

Fresh Org Fruit - apples/pears/peaches               15.00
Org Canned Pumpkin                 1.85
1 LB Sweet Cream Butter                 3.85
Org Sour Cream                  2.90
10 LBS Bulk Blackberries               20.35
Acai Frozen (4 PK)                 3.70
Org Yukon Potatoes 5 LBS                 6.00
Sappo Hill Soap Bar Soap, Oatmeal                 1.65
Biokleen                 3.60
Fresh Org Leeks 16 oz                 1.55
Biokleen Dish Liquid                 4.50
Sprouted Wheat Tortillas 13.2 oz                 2.45
Org Rapadura Cane Sugar 24 oz                 4.80
Amount Allocated for Bi-Annual Items               21.09

              96.74




Azure Standard  Bi - Annually


25 lbs Hard White Wheat Berries               12.90
2 oz ORG Peppermint Extract                 3.95
20 LBS Fuji Apples               17.00
ORG Relish (10 OZ)                 2.80
Oranges 10 lbs                 5.80
Whole Groats 5 lbs                 3.80
Organic Vanilla 4oz               11.15
Org Diaper Cream                 6.00
Northern Beans Organic 5 lbs                 6.30
Azure Org Popcorn 5 lbs                 5.00
Org Chocolate Syrup                 5.70
RAW Bulk cheddar 5 LB Block               26.00
White Wildflower Honey 2.2 lbs               20.15



            126.55
21.09 monthly




Costco Bulk Items

Fine Granulated Organic Sugar 10 lb.                 8.69
Honey for  Cooking                 8.50
Strawberry's Frozen 5 LBS                 6.99
Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Filippo Berio) 1.5ltr                  9.99
McCormick Organic Basil 2.85oz.                 2.79
Golden Organic Ground Flax 40oz. $8.89                 8.89
McCormick Organic Oregano 2.5oz. $3.49                 3.49
Peanut Butter Organic 2-28oz.                  8.59
Butter Organic 2lb. $6.99                 6.99
Strawberry Jam Organic 42oz. $6.99                 6.99
Texmati Brown Rice Organic 6lb                 9.39
Quinoa Organic 4lb.                 9.59
Frozen Wawona Organic Freestone Peaches 4lb $7.79                 7.79
Sugar in the Raw 6lb                 7.69
Vinegar (white) 1.3gal                  3.29
Baking Soda 13.5lb.                 5.39
Sabra Hummus  32oz                 5.99
Earthbound Organic Carrots, 10 lbs for                 6.29
Earthbound Organic spinach, 1 lb for                 3.99
Minced Garlic                 3.29
Frigo Cheese sticks 60 count                 9.59




Averages to 57.27 Monthly based on the amount of each item I buy annually.


 Amazon Buys 

 Charmin Ultra Strong, Mega Rolls, 4 Count Pack (Pack of 6) 24 Total Rolls                21.80
 Kids Krill Oil  17.08
 Seventh Generation Baby Diaper Stage 4 Super Jumbo Pack, 64-Count  15.99



Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 54-Ounce Containers (Pack of 2) 37.35
 Coombs Organic Maple Syrup 32 oz                20.00
 Seventh Generation Baby Wipes  9.51
 Bob's Red Mill Organic Oat Bran Hot Cereal, 18-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4)   9.59
 Mason Vitamins Healthy Kids Cod Liver Oil and Vitamin D, Tasty Chewable Orange Flavor, 100-Count, (Pack of 3)   7.65
 Seventh Generation Training Pants, 3T-4T, 22 Count (Pack of 4)  28.3





Averages to   47.37 Monthly










Here is a list of the items I've learned how to make myself:

* Vanilla extract is my next item to learn to make myself
 Laundry Soap 
 Yogurt 
 Salad Dressing 
 Snack foods: muffins, granola bars,
 Non sandwich breads
 Cleaners 
 Milled Wheat 
 Powdered Sugar

Happy Shopping!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Inscriptions for Abby: My Baby Turns 2

Dear Abby,
Today you are 2 years old -- our little fire cracker. You are more adventurous and determined that any baby I have  been blessed to care for. You ride this little red hovercraft thing all over the house and yard, flying around corners and moving those little feet as fast as they will kick. You are the most adorable little 24 pounder in the world and I'm a blessed Momma to call you mine. I can't believe you were only 4 lbs 6oz  at birth - you have grown so much! This year 2011 was your year. It was the year you learned to talk and walk and run and keep up with your  brothers. You spent this year healthy and flourished physically and emotionally. You learned to play and talk to us in your own little words - you love the words "shoes" and "Milk" and "Oh No!" A few other favorites are "Thank you" and "Max & Kitty" and of course the dreadful "no" which seems to be your answer to everything! You have mastered the fits in the pantry like all our other kids and I'm so blessed that your little tantrums are so very short lived! You are too content smiling and being happy - the only time you get upset is when we tell you "no" to more eating or won't let you sit at the table anymore.
One year ago you were mostly  bald and whined all the time.  You were crawling all over and slept a ton of your life away. You were sick much of the first year of your life and it just hurt mommy's heart to see you in pain. You had intestinal issues, ear infections, vomiting all the time, asthma, RSV and a pale face with sunken eyes - though you loved eating and smiling despite being sick! Now you are a flourishing little girl, always happy and not too sick! What a blessing this last year has  been for us.I delight seeing you healthy and not being confined to the house all the time. You are allergic to Eggs and Homogenized milk - but that doesn't seem to stop you much!

Abby @ 14 Months
Abby @ 15 Months - just getting ready to walk!
Today you are 24 pounds, you have long blond curly hair which you love to have up in pig tales. You love bows in your hair and insist on wearing hats too. What 2 year old keeps on hats? You do! You love to play outside and your favorite activity is sliding at the park or riding down the street on your red little scooter.You love to be girly, but play Nerf and Swords with your brothers. You love dropping little counting bears inside cups and then dumping them out and doing it all over again. Your attention span is getting longer, you can finally sit for 2-3 minutes and listen to a book! You still love to sleep and are so tired by 6:30 pm. You like to wake up between 8-9 am and take a 2- 3 hour nap in the middle of the day. You still love your "wubbies" at night and can't sleep without them. We are going to have to break that habit this year --- sorry! You have already started to tell me when your going in your diaper - I'm not ready for you to  be out of diapers!!
Abby 4th of July 2011 - She finally has hair!

My precious Abby, please know that your momma loves you so much. You bring such delight and smiles and giggles int our home. God has given you such a gift  - joy - always remember to smile despite the circumstances of life. Don't let the small stuff get you down. You are one determined little girl - I know that God will use that will to brings about true greatness. Always put the Lord first in your life and you will never be led astray. This year I've been praying 2 Peter 3:18 over you,  I pray that Abby will "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."



 Sweet Abby - You are dearly loved and prayed for. I'm so excited to see the many adventures God brings your way in 2012!

Love,
Momma

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What is in a title?

So I haven't had the urge to blog and haven't had the urge to come up with a snappy title either. Who needs titles!

So far in 2012 we've  celebrated a New year and 9 wonderful years of pure bliss ... wink. Yes, a pure marriage is one that goes through a lot of junk, enjoys the blissful moments of married life and just keeps reafirming the commitment. Joy is experienced along the way. I am so glad that marriage changes me, changes my selfishness into love and respect and kindness. I am glad that 9 years of marriage finds me to be a more soft person - though evidently still strong willed. John and I escaped for a weekend away, thank you Grandma!, and enjoyed hours upon uninterupted hours of talking and sharing and dreaming. It was just what our marriage needed - a little Red Bull! One thing that came out of our time was the fact that I am a strong willed wife. I was made that way by God and it provides us a lot of benefits, but it also produces some negative draws that I need to work on. I do find some rest in realizing for the first time in my life that I am very determined and typically get what I want - that sounds so bad! Getting what I want isn't all  bad - I wanted my dashing husband and I finally landed him, I wanted kids and look at my 3 beautiful sweeties! I also wanted a horse who taught me money management skills and tons of responsibility. Anyhow, the new year is off to a great start - 9 years of marriage sure goes by fast! Now I just need to reign in the not so glorious attributes of being strong willed.

On to the rest of life - we're still here, enjoying tons of company, still schooling and still working. Wow, life needs to settle down. I've been enjoying some creative organic cooking, baking homemade bread with my own milled wheat, growing my own herbs, and making Abby's eczema cream which doubles as a great moisturizer. I tried a No Poo rinse on my hair the other day - can't say I loved it but I can say I tried it! Our worms are still composting, dogs still shedding, kids still learning and John is back to school working.

My kids have been receiving some reality checks since Christmas. I actually made Drew sit for 15 minutes without moving last night because he was unable to sit still at dinner. He also had to vacuum the hwole house today because as we were exiting the farmers market his "wiggles" caused him to elbow 3 apples off their stand and onto the hard floor. Drew paid for the apples with my money and then earned the 2.00 back by vacuuming - I wonder if he will calm down next time?

Gabe has been awful lately, so I took him out on a date while Drew was in school. I must confess I deeply wanted to go home and work since I'm way behind, but when the Holy Spirit speaks, I obey. So we went out on a Mommy date and just spent the morning together. We played play dough, went out for "coffee" and he helped me pick out our fresh food at Sprouts. We went on a walk and enjoyed playing airplanes that loved to eat the "worms" I made out of play dough. . Then he had Grandma all to himself for 2 hours which he loved! Gabe is my quality time kid - he also struggles with anger and often feels jealous of others who can perform better than he can. He deeply wants to do school just like Drew but he is also just 4 and his attention span is still quite short. John and I are both spending extra time filling up his love tank with special responsibilities and dates. Gabe is the sweetest little boy and I pray that his recent outburst of anger will only draw him to a relationship with Jesus.

Here are some fun picture of what we were up to while off from school in December.
We celebrated Jesus, though Next year I vow to do Christmas differently.

Gingerbread Houses with Lots of candy eaten!

Yes, see the frosting, Drew ate it by the knife full.... yuck!

Yummy Houses and Candy!

We ... No the Boys, built a fort in the front yard on Christmas Eve,

Yes, we are the odd ducks in the neighborhood and yes I'm sure the HOA will be sending us a letter, despite John calling it a "bird house."

Kitty finally got a pink house and is so excited to see girl things in the house,

Abby finally has some girly things and tons of dolls!

The infamous helicopter...see the next picture to find out why it is called "infamous."

3 men, 1 kids toy, 1 almost ambulance call, thank you Howard for saving John's life!

Some candy did make it onto the house - though it all  went on after the kids were sick!

Papa came to visit!

We went to the park and burned off all the kids candy energy.

Uncle Howard and Abby kit it off!