Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Such a Tragedy

I have debated back and forth on whether or not to write this blog post for the past few days. I don't want to make this even the littlest bit about me, but I don't know how to accurately get my feelings across without including personal things.

In 1999, when two high school boys went into their school and killed and injured so many of their classmates, I was 16 and a sophomore.  Those kids that died were my age, and it was devastating.  I spent a lot of time learning about those kids and prayed a lot for their families, and the healing of the ones that made it through.  Over time, my thoughts have gone out less and less often to those families and kids, who are now grown ups, many with their own children.  I still view it as one of the saddest days in my life, even though as far as I know, I  have never met a single person who was in the school that day.

Friday, the unthinkable happened, and it was children the age of my child.  As I prayed for all the families, friends, and classmates going through this tragedy, I once again couldn't help but try to figure out why something like this would happen.  But there are no answers.  There are families torn apart.  Children who were taken too soon, and others that will have to live with the memories of seeing and hearing friends, classmates, and teachers killed.  The people in this community need all the thoughts and prayers we can send them.  And we need to remember, sadly, how short life can be.

As I learned that it was first graders that died, my mind's eyes automatically pictured sweet little innocent children that looked so much like the beautiful little six and seven year olds that I've come to love over the last year and a half.  As a very involved first grade parent in a small school (there are only 19 kids in our entire first grade this year),  I know every single child in first grade. I love every one of them.  I can't begin to imagine what it would feel like to lose even one of those precious children in such a terrible way.  My heart hurts more than words can express for all those who are grieving over loved ones, especially when they are grieving over so many lost loved ones at once.

Learning that teachers died trying to protect innocent children is heart breaking, but not surprising.  Teachers shouldn't ever have to die for our children, but it's no surprise to me that they are willing to do so.  I have no doubt that both of my son's teachers would be willing to die for "their kids."  It's so sad that it takes such a tragedy, but I hope that you remember not only to send up thoughts and prayers for those that are hurting because of this tragedy, but to hug your children a little tighter, and maybe offer a hug to your kids' teachers as well, and thank them for loving your children.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Buying Gift Cards For Christmas

My family tries to finish Christmas shopping early, and under budget, so we can take advantage of all the gift card deals available right now.  We also take my husband's checks from his second job (which usually go into savings) and use them to buy gift cards, and then add the money into our savings account, as we use the giftcards that we buy for ourselves.  We do something similar through out the year, by getting giftcards for places we shop a lot from our Smartypig savings account, and just using money out of our regular budget.  But close to Christmas the deals are even better and you can earn more free stuff just by buying giftcards to places you would shop anyway!  We do give a few of them away, and Elliott always receives one to shop and one to a restaurant of his choice for Christmas and his birthday, but most of them are just used for everyday purchases we would have made anyway.

Right now, mypoints has a special bonus offer, where you can buy 4 $25 giftcards, and receive a free $10 gift card.  The choices include CVS, KMart, Kohls, Panera, and Darden (Red Lobster and Olive Garden).

They also have several other choices for gift cards where you get bonus points, although the bonuses aren't as good.  They include many more choices, though.

Also, this is the perfect time of the year to buy restaurant gift cards.  When you order a Denny's $25 gift card, you receive a free $5 one as well.  Denny's does charge $1.95 shipping, but you are still saving $3.05.

At Ruby Tuesday when you buy a $50 gift card, you receive a free $15 bonus coupon that can be used between January 2 and February 28.

At Applebee's when you order $50 in digital gift cards, you get a free $10 digital gift card.  This only applies to digital cards, but even if you have someone on your list who doesn't use a computer much, you can print it out for them, and still take advantage of this deal!

At Taco Bell (this might vary by location, but it never hurts to ask!) when you buy a $20 gift card you get a free item off of the menu.

I'm sure there are plenty more of these deals, but these are the ones available in my area.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Black Friday Deals at JoAnn

My family and I went to Joann just a few minutes after they opened on Friday.  Elliott had been asleep in the car for a while by then, but woke up to go in and pick out new fabric.  They had Snuggle flannel fabric on sale for $1.74 a yard, and fleece for $2.99 a yard.  The fleece was part of a three day sale so we had a 25% coupon that worked on it, to make it just $2.25 a yard.  So we picked out several different patterns and got a few yards.  The line was long to get to the fabric counter, but it was moving fairly fast considering there were some people with upwards of 20 different kinds of fabric in their cart!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Walmart Black Friday Shopping

We started our black Friday shopping Thursday evening at Walmart.  My sister took Elliott to one side of the store, in the shopping cart, while my husband and I started on the other side, without a shopping cart.   My sister and Elliott were responsible for getting some of the bigger items on our list, like the Ninja blender and some bedding for Elliott, while my husband and I started in the movies.

The movie section is always so hectic on black Friday that I don't like taking Elliott over there until things have calmed down a little bit.  This year was no exception.  My husband and I each grabbed a few different DVD's and Blu Rays, and then went elsewhere to sort.  It turns out we both grabbed a copy of one movie, and my husband grabbed one that we already had. There were also a few that we decided weren't a good fit for us, so after my sister sorted through them a little while later, she went back over there and picked out a few more and found two of the ones we had been looking for, so it worked out great!  My family buys a bunch of movies.  We try to wait until they are on sale for the most part, so black Friday is one of our favorite days to shop for movies. 

How Was Your Thanksgiving?

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  This was my little sister's first big holiday away from home, but I think she and my mom both made it through ok. :)  My sister actually had to work 10 hours on Thursday and 8 more on Friday, so we ended up waiting until Saturday to do our Thanksgiving dinner at home.  It was a nice family day, without anything extra going on.  We have a lot to be thankful for, and it took Elliott quite a while to say the things he was thankful for, before he finally gave up, and said he was thankful for EVERYTHING! :)

We did quite a bit of shopping on Thursday night and Friday morning, and Elliott was a trooper.  He did sleep quite a bit in the car (my husband and sister went in by themselves to Best Buy and KMart, and my husband and I did Menards by ourselves), but he was pretty happy for the most part and didn't spend much time asking for stuff that wasn't on the list.  I'm actually going to post about a few of our deals today in separate posts.  But first I'm going to look some more at some Cyber Monday deals and see if I can finish up my shopping today!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Basement Remodel is Done!

This was supposed to be posted yesterday.  I'm not sure if it was my phone, or I just forgot to post it or what, but pretend the date says yesterday. ;)

I haven't been around much lately, but it is for a good reason.  I am typing this in our newly finished bedroom! I should have taken before pictures but I didn't think about it then.  I guess technically it isn't quite finished yet, since we still need to add the trim, but we are moved in and sleeping down here now.  Now I just have to finish cleaning our old bedroom so we can paint in there.  Then we will be doing some minor remodeling in Elliott's room and we will be finished, at least for a little while.

Elliott had a four day weekend for Veterans day and the opening of deer season. Then he ended up getting sick Monday night so he stayed home yesterday and today.  We made today a movie day and he seems to be feeling much better now.

Tomorrow I should be able to finish cleaning our old bedroom while my son is in school.   Then hopefully we can get it painted this weekend and have a week off for Thanksgiving.  This is the first time since my husband and I got married seven and a half years ago that we have had other family around for Thanksgiving.  I think it is going to be hard for my sister though.

I think she is looking forward to black Friday shopping with us though.  That is my husbands and my son's favorite shopping day.  We will do a combination of in store and online shopping again this year.  Hopefully we will finish our Christmas shopping then.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Veterans Day Restaurant Discounts 2012

As you all know, my husband is active duty Air Force.  Some years we take advantage of one of the discounts and some years we don't.  My husband and son both have a long weekend this year for Veteran's Day so I think we will be doing at least one of these!

Here are some of the best discounts for Veterans this year:


Veterans eat free with proof of service.  There will be a special menu with a list of several entrees to choose from.  This one takes place on Monday, November 12.  Some Olive Garden restaurants will also give out $10 giftcards to veterans for future visits.  Call your local restaurant and see if they are offering it!


Military Veterans and Active Duty Service Members will be able to eat free at any Applebee's in the US on Veteran's Day, which is Sunday, November 11.  There will be six entrees available from a special menu.  You must have proof of service.  Acceptable forms include a military ID, retired ID, Current LES, Veterans Organization Card, a photograph in uniform, or wearing a uniform in person.


Any person who has ever served in the United States Military can receive a free meal from 4 to 9 pm on Monday, November 12 in any Golden Corral nationwide. 


Show proof of military service and receive your choice from a menu of six meals on Sunday November 11.  This one is at participating locations only, so call ahead!

Other restaurants that have discounts at select locations include:
 T.G.I. Friday's
Texas Roadhouse
Krispy Kreme Doughnut

From what I've seen these discounts will vary by location, with some offering free meals, and others offering a certain percentage off.  Call ahead and see what your local establishment is offering.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes

We had parent teacher conferences with Elliott's teachers yesterday.  It's amazing how different it went than last year in kindergarten.  It seems that in kindergarten, Elliott was prone to cry, not listen, and talk too loud.  In first grade, one of his teachers said he was one of her best behaved!  She said he does tend to rush through things sometimes in an effort to get done as soon as his friends, but he's quick to listen and calm down if things get crazy.  His other teacher had nothing but good things to say as well.  They both said he is very bright, and good at everything he does.  He loves to draw and read, and goes through a lot more books than most of the kids do.  He ends up with more free time in class because one of his teachers lets him get started on some stuff while others are finishing up something else, so he's able to focus more closely on it.  He loves Science.

His scores are pretty much off the charts on reading.  His reading level is about that of an average 5th grader toward the end of the year (just an estimate since the test they give first graders only goes through 4th grade levels, and he surpassed those), and his reading comprehension is soundly in the 4th grade level.  Not bad for a six year old!

Math is still a little bit of a struggle for him, although he's still able to score in the 60th-80th percentile overall on math tests, and got an A for the first quarter.  It just takes him a little longer to get it done, and it frustrates him.  It seems that his best friend in his math and reading class, is fast at math, and it irritates Elliott that he gets done so much before him.  Then again, that same friend gets irritated by how much faster Elliott is at reading tasks.

Elliott liked school last year, but he LOVES it this year.  We are very happy over all with our school experience. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I am passionate about politics.  It's not something that many of my online only friends know about me.  I keep it pretty secret for a few different reasons.  The main one being that I don't want my husband to get in trouble. I've read several warnings this year (not directed at me) to be tasteful if we must discuss politics, but to try to keep a lid on it over all.  If we don't, it can hurt our spouses' careers.

I don't consider myself to really belong to either party, although I am technically registered with one.  Ironically I'm registered with the one that I have the least in common with, because it's also the one that I agree with most often on the things that I am most passionate about.  Next month I will be voting a nearly straight ticket, although there are 2 that I plan to vote for that don't belong to "my party," and I plan on voting opposite my party's platform on at least one specific policy that will be on my ballot.  I'm still researching another.

This year is a big election year for the United States, with the election of a president.  It's important to make an informed choice on who you want to run our country.  But please don't overlook the other issues and people you will be voting for next month.  In my state there is a lot of coverage over the US Senate race right now, and a lot of negative ads from both Heidi Heitkamp and Rick Berg.  My husband and I have done the research and are making an informed choice on who to vote for.  We've done the same thing for local elections, and the choices for governor as well as all of the issues on the ballot.

Please remember that it sometimes takes more than a quick internet search to find valid, true information, especially on lower levels of government.  And in some ways these politicians turn out to be the most important ones for YOU.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Car Shopping Again

I mentioned before that my sister got a new car on Tuesday.  The Cavalier that she had been driving for the last seven years finally died.  About two weeks ago she went out to start it after work, and it wouldn't crank at all.  My husband went down and looked at it and picked her up and told her the motor had most likely seized, so she needed to have it towed somewhere to get it looked at.  She got that done, and he was indeed right.  The motor had seized and with labor and everything, the cost was going to be close to $5000 to fix it.  This was a 2003 Cavalier that had already been totaled once (it's had a salvaged title since 2006 I believe), so she decided to just junk it, and we began our car buying journey.

The first few days she drove my husband's truck back and forth to work, and he took our car, while I took the van.  That couldn't be a long term solution, though, so we went down and looked at cars at nearly every dealership in town that first Saturday, since it happened to be Darla's Saturday off and Carl was off as well.  She really wanted a stick shift, but we had trouble finding one in her price range.  Finally we found a 2008 Hyundai Accent manual transmission with under 40,000 miles on it and it was in her price range!  She test drove it Saturday, came home and did some research, and we went back to get it last Tuesday.  She was really excited.

Fast forward to Saturday, and after driving it for less than 300 miles, the check engine light started flashing.  She was leaving work, and was getting ready to head home.  Carl, Elliott, and I were at the movie theater watching Frankenweenie.  As soon as our movie was over, we met her, and Carl discovered some pretty significant problems on her car, especially considering how few miles it had on it.  She had some time left on her bumper to bumper warranty, plus an extended car care warranty, but it was still very frustrating.  And she had to take my husband's truck to work again on Sunday.

Sunday night we car shopped online, and found a Toyota Carolla Matrix that was right in her price range.  It's older and has significantly more mileage but it's a Toyota, so will probably last longer (she has decided that my husband's 1998 Tacoma is the most reliable of our fleet, and it has almost 240000 miles on it).  We did the research and discovered it was most likely a good car, and to make it even better, it was at the dealership where she liked the sales guy the best.  We had to wait and see if the first dealership would go ahead and take the car back as part of it's 5 day guarantee, though, since it was technically up by the time she could get ahold of someone, even though the problems started during the first 5 days.  It was surprisingly easy to give it back, though.  So she is now the proud owner of a 2003 Matrix, with a brand new transmission and tires.  It's even a stick!

I'm really hoping that this turns out to be a great car.  I like it better than I liked the Accent, and Elliott does as well (he's going to be riding back and forth to school with her a lot starting next week when she starts teaching at his school).  We took a chance on it, by not taking my husband with us when we looked at it and test drove it yesterday (she bought it then as well), but based on what I've heard and experienced with that dealership and sales guy, I'm confident they wouldn't sell it to us with known problems.  My husband did check it out last night, and said we did good. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

50% Off Clearance Toys at KMart

Yesterday I spent most of the day in Minot.  My sister and I went straight from dropping Elliott off at school to a dealership in Minot so she could get a new car after her engine went out last week.  While we were waiting for finance approval we decided to do a little bit of Christmas shopping.  At Target we found a few things in the stationary department on clearance, but not much that we needed.  I bought a few scrapbooking stickers and one activity book for Elliott for Christmas (it was the Amazing SpiderMan and was half price).

After we got a call back saying they were ready for her to sign all the papers to pick up her new car, I decided it was already late enough in the day that I might as well not even go back home before going to pick Elliott up from school.  So we had lunch and then we headed to Kmart.  My sister works there, and had to be there about 15 minutes later anyway.  She mentioned that clearance toys were 50% off, which I hadn't even noticed in the ad.  So I went back to take a look.

I don't know about you guys, but it seems like Kmart is pretty hit or miss on clearance toy prices.  Yesterday they had a bunch!  Our Kmart has a pretty big section in the back for clearance, and most of the shelves were pretty well stocked!  I ended up buying things like Legos, Squinkies, and Barbies and got great deals on all of them.  I would post a picture of some of my favorite finds but my son would see and some of them are surprises. :)

This year seems to be shaping up to be pretty full of birthday parties.  He's already been invited to three, and another mom approached me the other day to ask if I could help chaperone a party at a pizza place for her son next month.  Last year there were four in February alone, so we haven't even hit the busy season!  I always let Elliott go to the parties if he wants to, so I definitely take advantage of big sales to get things that I know his friends are into at great prices.

We also use these sales to Christmas and birthday shop for Elliott and his cousins, as well as the children that we buy for at Christmas.  Yesterday I bought a big Squinkies amusement park toy (originally priced at almost $50, and I paid just over $20), several sets of Legos (orginally $14-38 each, I paid $6-15), and a few other things that need to remain a secret. :)

If you haven't already checked it out, I would encourage you to do so this week.  Also, even if your store has a clearance section for toys, check in the regular toy section as well, because sometimes they are mixed in, and you can score great deals where other people aren't looking.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What a Morning!

Today was one of those mornings where it felt like everything was going fine, and then suddenly it stopped!  We were up and around early enough, and Elliott even had time to sit at the table and eat his breakfast, as opposed to eating it on the way to school!  But then when I told him to find a jacket, there was meltdown, because he didn't actually hang any of them up yesterday when we were putting away laundry.  And then he couldn't find his backpack (which was actually right where it was supposed to be, only it was under the jacket that he couldn't find from Friday!).  And then I couldn't find the van keys!  Normally I would just grab to car keys and go anyway (there's a key to all three vehicles on both the keychains that have a remote attached), but today my husband was in the car, so my sister could use his truck, since her car bit the dust on Thursday.  It turns out she had grabbed my van keys because she wasn't paying any attention, and thought she had a different set of keys that has the key to the storage unit.  Luckily that unit is just about 2 blocks away, so when she got there and discovered she had the wrong keys, she was able to come back and hand them over before it made Elliott late for school.  I was still pretty irritated, though, since we were tearing the room apart and I had already called my husband at work, figuring he had taken my keys along with his (which has happened more times than he would probably admit to).

Anyway, I got Elliott to school on time.  His school encourages the children to play outside assuming it's not raining or snowing, or colder than like -20 or something.  So normally we get there about 20 minutes before school starts so he can play outside with his friends that ride the bus.  Today we were only about 10 minutes early, but his best friend had missed the bus and was pulling up just after us anyway, so it worked out!  Apparently it was a rough morning everywhere!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Christmas Planning

We usually start Christmas shopping as soon as Christmas is over the year before, and try to have at least 95% of it done by the end of November.  The only reason we wait that long is because we tend to do a lot of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping.

This year I'm having more trouble keeping things secret from Elliott.  He's an excellent reader and speller (he tests about 4 grade levels ahead in reading right now), so if he can FIND a list, he can definitely read it.  Plus with all the remodeling in the basement, we've temporarily lost 2 of our hiding spots. Add to that the fact that he now knows how to see what we've ordered on Amazon (my husband showed him, so he could see if he had already bought a game for the Kindle Fire), and we are having trouble this year.

One thing that we've done to keep secrets is order it through another website, with other things for him.  This works right now because we are always gone on Saturdays, so my sister is the one that checks the mail most of the time, and during the week it comes while he's in school.  If we order other stuff for him, the box that says Kohl's or wherever on the side doesn't arouse suspicion. :)  And it's already open when he gets home, so he doesn't see anything that comes out of the box!

Another thing we've done is order books through Scholastic.  We ended up ordering through my sister last month, and then my mom mailed them up here (which once again is no big deal, because packages from Nama frequently come anyway).  His teacher did send a note home telling us to just let her know if we wanted to keep anything that we order a secret from them, though, because she could keep them until we arranged a time to pick them up, closer to Christmas or birthdays.  If we order any more books we want to keep a secret, we will probably go that route.

We don't keep everything a secret, though.  We don't see any big deal with him knowing already that he's getting  certain Super Hero toys, or a specific Lego set.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Avengers on Sale

Well, I'm finally getting back into the swing of things. I tried to post this on Friday, but then I got too busy.  We're pet sitting right now, so in addition to trying to get caught up from last week I'm also busy with that.  The pets just live next door so it's not a big deal or anything.

I had planned on posting about a few deals last week, but they have since expired, and I just didn't feel up to it last week.  Sorry. 

This week one deal worth mentioning is the new Avengers movie.  It seems to be on sale everywhere, and there are a lot of freebies available depending on where you buy it.    I preordered our copy  a few weeks ago on Amazon.  We bought the 3D blu ray/blu ray/dvd combo pack, and it's now $24.99.  You can get the combo pack without the 3D blu ray for $19.99 and the DVD version for $16.99.  Those prices seem to be pretty standard when compared to brick and mortar stores as well.  So I guess the best way to decide where you want to buy is to see what extras come with it.  Amazon still might be your best bet if you are wanting to buy it for a gift and want it delivered to your door, though, especially if you live in a state where you don't have to pay tax on Amazon purchases.  As always shipping is free with a Prime membership, or a $25 purchase.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Strep Throat, Double Ear Infections and Pink Eye!

I started 2 blog posts this weekend and had planned on posting at least one of them yesterday.  Instead I spent the morning at the doctor's office, and the afternoon in bed. After picking my son up, I think I managed to stay awake until he went to bed, but I was probably actually asleep before he was, although that didn't last long.  I ended up on the reclining love seat most of the night, but did finally manage to get a little better sleep this morning after Elliott was taken to school.

It turns out that whatever my son brought home last week (he was home sick on Wednesday) mutated into strep and a double ear infection for me.  My husband also has pink eye!

So I'm sorry that I haven't been around much this week.  I'm hoping to be back on for a little while longer tomorrow, and back to my regular schedule by Thursday or Friday!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Great Deals at Old Navy!

This morning I realized that my son is in need of some new jeans.  The size 7 that he had on fit perfect length wise, so now I need to go through his dresser and laundry basket and pull out all the size 6.  That means that I had to go in search of a jeans sale and Old Navy didn't disappoint!

Old Navy jeans are just about the only jeans my son will wear now, because he loves the way they fit, and he became an especially big fan when his five year old fingers had trouble working a button through a button hole on other brands.  Old Navy jeans have a snap closure (that looks like a button) all the way up to a size 8.  Another thing we like about them is that they have an adjustable waistband.  My son is tall (the tallest kid in his class), and pretty thin, so an adjustable waistband is a must.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It Feels Great to Pay Cash!

My husband and I have been married for over 7 years.  When we got married, he had his wrecked S10 sitting in Missouri, and a Dodge Ram that was financed.  I had a Chevy Cavalier that was also financed.  When I was about 5 months pregnant with Elliott we decided we needed a 4 door car to make it easier to get him in and out.  We also had 2 dogs and knew we were getting ready to take possession of a cat that our neighbors didn't want anymore.  With all the traveling we do, we decided that the single cab Ram and the Cavalier would neither one work, so off we went to the dealership.  We traded in the truck (and were upside down by over $5,000!) on a brand new Malibu Maxx.  We gave my sister a small sum of money to make up the difference in what we owed and what the Cavalier was worth and she took over payments (the car and loan were both primary in my dad's name anyway, and he didn't want to do all the paperwork to just get a new loan anyway).  We just used the one car since we lived on base and both worked on base.  It was no big deal for one of us to get rides from someone else if we needed, and my husband even rode his bike a lot of times.

Fast forward to last year.  We had traded in the Malibu Maxx (which we still regret) on an Uplander to make traveling with three dogs, a child, two adults and a cat easier. We still only had one car, and my husband's unreliable truck, but knew that with Elliott starting school, we needed a second car.  We live approximately 17 miles from his school.  The bus is an option, but not one I wanted to use.  It was just too much time away, and since he really needs a lot of sleep, it would have cut too much into our family time.  So we bought a 2005 Impala, but still ended up financing part of it.

We've had that car for about 1.5 years now, and the Uplander for 4.5 years.  The Impala has started showing signs of a possible transmission problems, especially when it's hot out, so we decided to look around at cars.  After checking out dealerships, and seeing what the new cars were like, and what their prices were like, we decided to look at much older cars instead.  We had about $2200 saved for car repairs, because we knew that the transmission is a pretty regular problem on the Impala we have, and it hasn't been replaced yet (it's got around 120K miles on it).

After looking at a few different trucks under $3000 (we decided we could use part of our savings if we needed to), we were about to give up on getting my husband a truck like he wanted, and started looking at cars.  Then we found a 1998 Toyota Tacoma.  It has 232,000 miles on it, but it runs great and has been well taken care of.  We paid $1700 for it.  And really, even if it doesn't last that long, it's still a better investment than any other car we've ever bought.  We've ended up losing quite a bit more than $1700 on every other car we've had (like I said, on the Ram, we lost $5000 on it, not counting the year and a half that my husband had paid over $500 a month).  My husband has done just a few things to the Tacoma since he bought it, like changing spark plugs, and fixing the bumper.  He's also replaced the radio, but that's all been pretty cheap (he used the radio out of his S10).  He really likes it, and it feels great to not have a car payment on it!

My husband's "new" truck!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Disney Movie Deals at Amazon

Amazon has a promotion going on right now, where if you buy 2 Disney movies from a certain list, you save an additional $10.  We actually did this about 2 weeks ago, and spent less than $40 total for 2 Blu Ray/DVD combo packs.  I even live in a state that gets charged tax on Amazon orders.  The list of available movies is here.  This promotion goes through the end of the month, and includes several movies that have just been released from the vault, or have just recently been released on blu ray, as well as newer movies like Chimpanzee. 

The prices have changed a little since I ordered mine, but most of them are still right around $25 each, making the total about $40 if you don't get charged tax.

These could be great Christmas presents!  It's hard to find Disney Blu Ray/DVD combo packs cheaper than about $20 each. We love the combo packs so we have the DVD for in the car on long car rides, and the Blu Ray for when we watch at home. 

Cash VS Credit, Which Do You Use?

My husband and I are reworking our budget yet again right now, because he really wants a Sleep Number bed, but I'm not sure I want the extra payment.  Paying cash isn't even really an option right now, since we just bought a truck for my husband (and paid cash!!), and we're in the middle of the basement remodel.  We are going to have to buy a new bed soon, though.  Ours has two springs sticking out the side now, and no matter how many times my husband tries to fix it, they poke back through and end up ripping sheets.   Sheets are too expensive to replace every few weeks!

Anyway, when looking around for creative ideas of ways to cut our budget, I keep seeing people say that switching to cash is the easiest way to do it.  That doesn't work for my family.  We've tried it two or three times, and we usually end up spending MORE when we have cash, than when we don't.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Do You Do Superpoints?

Today I'm having a lot of luck on the Superpoints lucky button.  I hit 25 twice, 5 once, and 2 points 3 times, for a total of 66 points.  I only get 30 tries a day, since I don't have any referrals. 

If you aren't a member of Superpoints, I would suggest signing up.  It's a fairly slow earner if you don't have referrals, but it's super easy.  You just click the lucky button and see if you win anything.  I do it while I'm doing other stuff online, so it doesn't take up much time at all.   They offer all kinds of gift cards, and they start at a $5 giftcard for 600 points.  Even basic members can now cash out at 1000 points or more, while platinum can cash out at 500 points. 

Basic members (no referrals, or only 1) get 30 clicks a day, while gold (2-4 referrals) get 50 clicks and platinum (5+ friends) get 100 clicks a day.

I actually have two 25 point invites that I got today, if you are interested.  Just click the link, sign up, and validate your email address and you will get 25 points! 


Clearance School Supplies

School has been back in session here for about 2.5 weeks.  That means that a lot of back to school stuff is on clearance.  We bought most of Elliott's supplies before school started, but waited until the clearance sales to buy the stuff we just wanted, but didn't have to have.

Some of the best deals we've found were lunchboxes at 50% off (he takes his lunch everyday, so we got 2 new ones to add to the rotation of the ones he used in kindergarten, since he leaves them at school sometimes), and crayons at $.25 each.  The cheapest we found Crayola crayons before school started was $.40, so when we were able to get them for $.25 each, we grabbed a few boxes.  We choose names from the Christmas tree at Walmart or KMart every year, and always include a box of crayons and a coloring book or two if we choose children the right age. :)  Elliott often gets crayons for Christmas, too.

We also picked up a few more notebooks for $.16-25 each to use at home.  Elliott needed 2 for school this year, and that will probably last all year, or at least most of it, since he's only in first grade.

We also found some Lego school supplies on clearance.  Elliott is REALLY into Legos right now, so he actually used his own money to buy the pencil sharpener and pencils.  They were on clearance for a decent price, so I feel like he used his money wisely.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Saving Money on Vacation

My family took two vacations this summer.  And we paid for both with cash.  Our first vacation was to Missouri, where we are both from.  We stayed with my parents, so that saved us a bunch of money . Our second vacation was to Washington state, though, where we know no one.  We were still able to save a bunch of money.

Travel by car if it's cheaper.
We travel by car when we travel because we often take our two dogs.  We also live in the Minot, ND area, where it costs around $500 per person to fly anywhere.  It's MUCH cheaper to drive where we need to go, even counting stays in a hotel.  We also like the freedom to stop in various places.

Travel with others.
Even though we are only a family of three we own a minivan.  That means that we are often able to invite others on vacation with us.   In addition to having more fun with extended family, they can also help pay for gas and even hotel stays so we save money that way.  My sister lives with us now and was able to get off work to travel with us to Missouri.  When we went to Washington in July, we invited one of my other sisters and my aunt, and met my sister in law there.  We were able to rent a larger suite and saved a lot of money over paying for just a hotel room.  We stayed in a 2 bedroom suite in one area and a 4 bedroom beach house in the other.

Pack your own snacks and meals.
Another way we save money while traveling is to pack a cooler.  My family isn't necessarily big into sandwiches, but we also pack fresh fruits and easy to eat veggies, along with beef jerky, sunflower seeds, and trail mix.  Throw in some juice boxes, soda, and bottled water, and we are set!  We limit our eating out to once a day or less, and maybe one additional drink from a gas station (if they are cheap, like they often are in the summer), while we are on the road.  When we are at our destination we try to stick to the same limits on eating out, but if we are busy, we sometimes have to eat out twice in one day.  That works on a budget if you plan carefully.

Look for good deals.
Another way we saved money was to look on groupon and livingsocial for the area we knew we would be traveling.  We ended up getting vouchers for 2 different area restaurants this time, but there were other options as well, just none that we wanted to do this time.

Plan Ahead.
I always start planning for a vacation several months in advance.  In fact, we are already laying the groundwork for our family vacation next summer!  By planning ahead you can often find a great deal on lodging.  We ended up paying $125 a night for a 4 bedroom cottage just a few minutes from a beach on the Washington coast.  Just outside of Seattle, we got a 2 bedroom suite (with a pull out couch in the living room) in a decent hotel for just over $100 per night, by booking early and using an additional discount.  They even upgraded us for free!  If you are traveling with others, this can really save you money.  We had full kitchens in both units, so that made eating in much cheaper and more appealing.

Plan to relax.
We did a lot of things in Washington, but we made sure to leave some free time, to just sit on the beach and relax, or play games in our room.  That helped us recharge our batteries, and helped us save money.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How Do Moms With Big Families Do It?

I only have one son, who is six.  We have still been so busy this summer that I rarely have more than a few minutes a day to get online, so blogging has been nearly impossible.  I really admire Moms (especially who have more children!) who can make time for stuff online every day, or at least a few times a week without neglecting their children.

Summer is definitely my favorite time of year now that my son is in school.  I love all the fun stuff we get to do together, and I love being around him all the time.  This summer we have gone on two vacations, spent a day at the state fair, gone to the playground multiple times, and spent a lot of time just playing at home.  We're hoping for a weekend trip to Bismarck weekend after next to go to the zoo, since we didn't have time in Missouri and our zoo in Minot isn't open this year (because of the flooding last year).

School starts in just three short weeks here.  I'm not sure if I'll find more time online or not.  I plan on driving Elliott to and from school again this year, and that takes quite a while every day.

We're planning on finishing up our school shopping tomorrow.  I hope everyone is finding great deals!  If you are shopping for school clothes don't forget to look online for coupons and the best prices.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

My husband is off work today and tomorrow, so we are planning on spending a lot of time together as a family.  We're planning on going to see an air show and possibly the Amazing Spider-Man today, plus some fireworks tonight.  If we don't see Spider-Man today, it will definitely be in the plans for tomorrow.  Elliott has been counting down the days since they released the date.  He's been quick to inform me all week this week that we were missing it the first day it was in theaters because of Daddy's work.  Haha.

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys today and gets to celebrate America's Birthday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

One Busy Summer!

I'm not sure how so many bloggers manage to post everyday.  I know part of it is because I don't treat blogging like a real job, but I seem to have a terrible time finding the time necessary to blog.

We just got home from our first summer vacation over the weekend.  We went "home" to Missouri to celebrate my dad's 65th birthday.  Darla was able to get the time off to go with us, and we were there for about 2 weeks.  Since we stay with my parents, it was a pretty frugal vacation.  We did end up doing some shopping (although the fact that there were 3 adults, a child, and 2 dogs traveling together in a minivan meant we had to really watch what we bought so we would have room).  But overall we stuck to our budget pretty well.

It's always amazing going home and seeing how much things have changed in the area.  The growth in SW MO isn't nearly as fast as it is here, but since it had been almost a year since we had been there, there was still plenty of new stuff.  We didn't get to check out nearly as much of it as we had hoped, but that seems to always be the case.  We had planned on going to Kansas City, or at least Branson, but didn't have a chance.  The only touristy thing we really did was a trip to the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield. Haha.  It was actually the first time we had ever even taken Elliott there even though we had been meaning to for years.  He loved it there, and wants to go back every summer now. :)

Assuming my husband gets the leave he requested, we are only going to be home for about 2 more weeks before taking another vacation.  My husband just switched work centers, though, so we still aren't sure on his leave.  If it goes through, we leave for Washington in just over 2 weeks. We will be spending some time in Spokane, Seattle, and right on the beach.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kindergarten is Over!

My son is at school right now for his last day of kindergarten.  His graduation was yesterday, and he got to go home from that with us, so it was a really short day.   Monday was their field trip, so their last day of regular school with school work and everything was last week.  I can not believe that he's already done with kindergarten.  It seems like it just started!

In order to celebrate his graduation yesterday, we went out to eat and did a little shopping.  The Secret World of Arrietty was released on Blu-ray/DVD this week, so my son was really excited to get that.  Before it was in theaters, we saw the trailer several times, and he was so excited to see it in the movie theater.  Our theater even had posters up.  Then when opening weekend came, it never showed up.  My husband told him then that we would buy it as soon as it came out on Blu-ray, so we did just that.

We went to Hobby Lobby yesterday and got some scrapbooking stuff.  All of the scrapbooking paper is on sale for 50% off this week, along with the stickers by the Paper Studios.  We mainly only needed plain paper for Cricut cutting, but ended up choosing another pad of paper as well.  And Elliott chose some stickers for his kindergarten scrapbook.  It's no wonder my husband will only go there when I have a giftcard.  Haha.

I think summer vacation will be good for our budget.  Obviously the actual vacation part where we leave the state will  cost us quite a bit, but we are less than $300 from our savings goal for that.  Being out of school means we will spend a lot less on gas, since I drive Elliott back and forth to school, for a total of about 350 miles a week.  Elliott and I will make a lot more trips to do fun things than we do during the school year, but there's a playground within walking distance, and we have a decent size pool in our backyard, so those trips will be limited.  Our zoo isn't open this year (because of the flood last year) that limits what we will end up doing even more.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Summer Vacations

I know I haven't been around much this year.  We've made a few changes recently, and we are still adjusting.  We're just now getting fully adjusted to my sister living here, and she's been here since the end of January.  We're also doing a fair amount of remodeling and rearranging to make everyone more comfortable.

I can't believe it's already May.  My son has less than 3 weeks left of kindergarten!  Our summer is going to be really busy, too.  We're going "home" to Missouri next month for a big birthday party for my dad (he turned 65 yesterday, but since we live so far away, we decided to wait until June, when everyone can come).  I think we will be there about 2 weeks.  Then in July we're taking another vacation, to Washington state.  My little sister is going with us to Missouri, but she'll be staying here to take care of the pets in July.  One of my older sisters and one of my aunts are driving up here in July, and then going to Washington with us, though, so that should be a lot of fun.  My sister in law will also be flying into Seattle and spending a long weekend with us.  We're renting a beach side cottage, and getting a great deal on it, so the vacation will be pretty frugal. 

We had originally planned on skipping a family vacation this year, but ultimately decided to go ahead and do it for a variety of reasons.  My husband hasn't seen his sister for at least 2 years, and possibly even longer.  She was planning on coming up here, but with the remodel and everything, I was trying to figure out some way to make it work better and more comfortably for everyone.  It turns out that flying into Seattle, and then helping us pay for a few nights on the beach actually saves money over flying into North Dakota.  So it works out better for her.  Plus we've been wanting to visit Washington, and neither of us have ever been.  When I said something to my sister she said she wanted to go to Washington, too, so we invited her along.  And then invited my aunt as well.  We've already managed to save over half the money we need for vacation, either from online earnings, credit card cash back, or just money we didn't spend  on certain areas of our budget.  We should be able to save the rest of it pretty easily between now and July without dipping into the money that is supposed to go toward debt every month.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sickness Strikes Again

Elliott has been home sick from school for the last two days.  He woke up yesterday morning around 630, complaining that his throat hurt.  When I felt it, I realized he had a fever.  I took his temperature and it got up to 99.5 before he sneezed and dropped the thermometer.  I decided I didn't need to know the exact temperature, since that was enough to keep him home from school.  He started feeling better later in the day, and I thought he would end up back in school today, but today when my husband woke him up, he was running a fever and had a very whiny quality in his voice.  He's acting fine right now, and REALLY wants to go back to school tomorrow, so hopefully he still feels well enough tomorrow!  I'm also hoping no one else in the family gets sick.  Elliott has next Thursday and Friday off school and my sister has the day off Thursday as well, so the three of us are planning on going to Bismarck.

I've managed to do a surprising number of things at home over the last two days, even with Elliott home.  I worked out for over an hour yesterday, and just about 90 minutes today, while Elliott was snuggling the dogs and watching TV in my room.  I straightened up the living room and my bedroom today, and might tackle Elliott's later.

My sister has the day off today, and is grocery shopping right now.  Having her here has really helped us stick to our budget.  She works in Minot, so she usually has no problem running errands for us.  Since I'm not with her, I can't impulse shop, and it works. :)  We're under budget for this half of the month right now, so I should have some extra spending money when we go to Bismarck, plus have extra to put toward debt. :)  I have done a little more online shopping lately than usual, but it hasn't amounted to what I normally spend in stores.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Adapting and Finding My Perfect Day

So my husband found out on Friday that he's on swings this week, and possibly all month.  I really hope it's not all month, but we'll deal with it if is.  He's worked an off shift (3-11pm usually, but sometimes a random 12 hour shift instead) well over half of the school year already.  So he only sees Elliott for a few minutes in the morning and for a while on weekends, but it seems like there is ALWAYS something going on every weekend when he's on second shift.  When I say he sees Elliott for a few minutes, I mean that quite literally.  He rolls out of bed about 5 minutes before it's time for Elliott to go to school, and if he feels awake and alert enough takes him to school, otherwise those 5 minutes are it for the day.

I keep reminding myself that at least he gets those few minutes a day.  He's been home from a deployment for almost 16 months now, so will be eligible again in the very near future.  It just feels like he's missing so much, considering he IS here.  Elliott's in kindergarten this year, and hadn't had any formal education before this year, and had hardly even been away from me.  He's doing REALLY well and has grown a lot, especially in maturity.  I am so proud of him!

Having my evenings alone has it's advantages, though.  Like today I picked Elliott up from school and we came home and built a snowman.  After I got tired of playing outside we came inside, put away laundry, and decided what to have for dinner.  Elliott helped me with dinner, and then after his bath we got to snuggle in bed.  My husband called on his dinner break to say prayers with Elliott, and to tell him how much he loves him.  Then we snuggled some more while we read 6 or 7 books, before he went and got into his own bed, and I went to workout in the living room.

I just feel like there's so much more freedom when it's just Elliott and me at home.  We aren't usually in a hurry to get stuff done, and as long as we get a bath, teeth brushing, and prayers in by 730, the day is a success.  It's not that my husband is a bad dad or anything, he just doesn't like to do things like play outside very often, and he's asleep within minutes if Elliott tries to snuggle him in bed.  I definitely like it better when my husband's on days for a variety of reason, but it's nice to remember there is a silver lining in perfect days like today.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Financial Goals

Almost a year ago my family took a vacation to Disney World.  Everyone was excited about the vacation, so my husband and son helped me save money for the last few months before the vacation.  We paid close attention to what we spent money on, used lots of coupons, and enjoyed watching our vacation savings grow.  After the vacation, we tried to get back onto that track in an effort to get out of debt faster, but we just never made it stick.  My husband and I were talking about it, and decided that getting out of debt, just to be out of debt wasn't concrete enough for us, and especially not for Elliott.

So we've made new financial goals, that will hopefully help us to get out of debt faster, and enjoy a vacation along the way!  We are going to Missouri in early June anyway, to celebrate my dad's 65th birthday.  My husband's sister is supposed to fly out and see us while we are there, and my husband would really like to spend at least one day in a nearby theme park with her.  There's also a Legoland Discover Center that will be open in Kansas City by then, and since Elliott is really into legos right now, we thought we might try to do that as well.  Since it won't have been open very long, we'll have backup plans in place, but hopefully the Discovery Center will work out.

In order to do the fun things we want to do, we have to get rid of a set dollar amount of debt, and save in our vacation fund for the fun things.  We were going to take money out of our tax return to pay for the vacation, but I think it will work better if I work hard at paying off a specific debt, and then saving for the vacation, before moving on to focus heavily on the next debt.

We've actually already started planning for our next big vacation, too.  We're really hoping to do it next summer, but before we do that, we have to be debt free other than our mortgage, plus of course have the cash available for the vacation.  I think having set goals (including a set amount we need for the vacation) will help us stick to the budget much more closely than just saying "We want to be out of debt by next April."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Making the Routine Work

I got up with my husband this morning at 415.  He had squadron PT on base at 6, so I stayed home instead of going to the gym.  I prepared his lunch and pulled out some of the stuff I needed for my son's lunch as well.  Then I did a few things online that I needed to get done, and even found time to do some daily clicks on sites that I hadn't done much lately, all while my husband was getting ready for work. 

After my husband went to work, I worked out for about 40 minutes, before hitting the shower.  I then started a load of laundry, and started Elliott's breakfast.  After I got him up, I packed his lunch, helped him pack his backpack and fed him breakfast before hitting the door for school. 

When I arrived home from dropping Elliott off at school, I sorted the clothes that someone left in the dryer yesterday (I think it was my husband, but it might have been my sister), and started a second load.  I pulled out everything I need for dinner tonight, and came back upstairs.  It's only 1015, and I've already finished everything online that was on my goal sheet today, except this blog post.   I also straightened up the kitchen, and will be cleaning my bathrooms as soon as I finish this up.

I am REALLY tired, and think I need a nap (I was up until well past midnight last night).  I'm excited that I can take one guilt free, since I got so much done already.  I don't especially like mornings, but I really think I must be better at managing my time in the mornings, because I always seem to get more done if I get up early.

My goals for the rest of the school day include a nap, vacuuming, and working on my grocery list and gathering and sorting coupons.  After school it will be time to relax with Elliott until his dad gets home, and then it's dinner, baths, stories, etc.  I'll get my husband to bring up the laundry from the basement and put away ours tonight, too, and Elliott's tomorrow.  I'm hoping to make it into bed by 10 pm tonight, so I don't want to have too much to do after Elliott goes to bed.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Finding an Exercise Routine

My husband has recently set a goal to lose 40 lbs.  He would like to lose at least 25 lbs in the next 3 months.  That's good news for me and my weight loss journey, because it means it will be easier to eat healthy if it's something that everyone wants anyway (we're lucky and Elliott loves fruit and most veggies).  It also means that we can work on motivating each other to work out, stay on top of healthy eating, etc.  My sister would also like to lose some weight, but her motivation isn't as strong right now, but she's willing to go along with the healthy eating and everything.

So now that my sister lives with us and works an evening shift, I'll be heading out early in the morning to go to the gym with my husband twice a week.  We need to be on base by 545, so that I can work out for almost an hour and still get home in time to get Elliott ready for school.  That means I'll have to be up and out the door almost 2 hours earlier than I usually get up, so I'll have to get in bed earlier.  I think I can make that work, though.  My son is in bed by 730 every night, and most nights my husband is in bed by 930.  My sister doesn't get off work until 10, and I've been hanging out with her until after midnight, but I'm sure she'll be ok if I go to bed earlier (so I can be up by 445). 

In fact, I think that what will probably work the best for my exercise routine is if I go ahead and get up with my husband EVERY morning and work out at home after he heads out to do his exercise class twice a week.  Then I'll get 4-5 work outs in every week, and won't have to worry about when to squeeze them in.  It will also give me some time to get some stuff done online in the morning.  Even though I don't really consider myself to be a morning person, I have to admit that I'm usually more productive in the morning.  Hopefully I'll even find more time to blog this way. :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

February Goals Update

I've kind of fallen off of the healthy eating wagon since my sister got here.  It's always harder for me during the winter anyway.  I'm really trying to get back into it this week.  I don't plan on giving up ALL the not so healthy choices I can have (I'm gluten free, so that limits several choices right there).  But I'm hoping to do better about moderation.  Yesterday was a disaster.  We had burgers and doritos last night.  I didn't portion the doritos for everyone, so we ended up eating an entire bag!  There was some finger pointing on who was to blame, but the bottom line is that bag should have lasted an entire two weeks and was all gone in ONE sitting.  From now on, I'll portion stuff into individual bags or bowls before it leaves the kitchen and everyone else will have to deal with it, whether they like it or not. :)

Financially things are in decent order.  We didn't make quite as much progress as I would like toward debt this month, but anything is better than nothing.  My husband and I had a rare kid free date night, and we took Elliott to see Journey 2, but otherwise didn't spend too much extra.  Our budget includes entertainment money that was enough to cover those things. 

Me time is much easier to find when I'm home alone (or at least the only one awake).  My sister is going to be working an evening shift a lot, so I hope I'll still be able to find some time for me.  I've done some crafting this month, as well as reading 3 books.  I've also managed to find more time to work out than I thought I would.

Time Flies and I am Terrible at Blogging!

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I last blogged here.  Things have been incredibly hectic.  I really need to stop waiting until the last minute to do things!

My sister moved in with us at the very end of January.  We moved a bunch of stuff into the dinning room so she would have a place to put her stuff.  We planned on going through the stuff in the dining room right away and getting rid of some, and storing the rest.  It's mostly seasonal stuff and stuff that Elliott has outgrown.  Anyway, we still can't eat in the dining room.  We even bought a new dining room table, and haven't been able to use it yet. 

My son turned 6 this month!  He invited 22 kids to his party, but it snowed that day, so only 6 showed up.  It was still fun, though, and much easier to handle. :)  My husband ended up having to go to work before the party was over, so I'm kind of glad that we didn't have a bunch of kids.  It was a great group, though, and gave us time to play all the games I had planned, without getting bored waiting for a turn, etc.  Elliott was a little bit bummed that one of his best friends didn't show up, but he was out with an ear infection on Thursday and Friday (Elliott's party was Saturday), so we weren't really expecting him on Saturday anyway.

My sister had no trouble at all finding a job.  Both places she applied offered her a job, but she took the one with a less fixed schedule.  Like this week she works 9am-5pm today, and 2-10 pm the rest of the week.  She's been there a week, though, and likes it so far.  The pay is much better than her last job (but her last job was in southern MO where the cost of living is incredibly low).  She's suffering from sticker shock when she goes shopping, but otherwise seems to like living out in the middle of nowhere. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Goal Update

My family has been sick for the last two weeks.  Elliott was home sick from school three days last week, and my husband should have been home from work just about every day, but he was too stubborn to go to the doctor until late in the week (and the doctor DID tell him he should have been there sooner and shouldn't have been at work, so I was right).  This week I'm the only one holding on to the sickness, but I think I'm about to finally kick it.

One positive about being sick over the weekend?  We didn't go shopping.  We live in a pretty rural area, so shopping isn't something I regularly do on a whim.  I see people whine about having to drive "across town" and it takes "at least 20 minutes" to get there, and it makes me smile.  If I want to go anywhere to shop, it takes me more than 20 minutes to get there.  I can get to the BX and the commissary (grocery store) in about 25-30 minutes, and it's another 15 or more to Walmart, Target, KMart, the mall, etc.  It's one of the tradeoffs of living in a small town with a great school, affordable housing, and friendly neighbors I guess.

So reporting on my goals for the last two weeks...I've done great financially.  We haven't even cashed my husband's check from his part time job, and we still have over $80 in cash left, plus over $200 in the bank (aside from the minimum we keep in there for emergencies).  I probably will go get groceries this weekend, but I don't anticipate doing much more shopping than that, so I should be able to keep it pretty low.  I think we will need gas in both cars one more time this month.  That should be it for shopping for this month. Which still leaves me with more than enough to go out for Elliott's birthday, and buy all the stuff we still need to get for his birthday party.  We should still be able to make an extra payment toward debt, even though we're probably going to go slightly overboard on Elliott's party.

Health wise I've been too sick to do much exercising, but I've done a little bit.  I've lost weight, but there's a good chance I'll gain it back now that I'm not sick anymore, so I'm not going to count it.

Doing stuff I enjoy has been fun. I made all of Elliott's birthday party invitations on the Cricut.  We are doing a Toy Story party and we invited 22 kids.  The picture of Woody that Elliott chose had 7 or 8 layers, so it took quite a while to put all the invitations together, but it was fun.  We're also doing picture frames with the kids (with a picture of each child with Elliott in the frame), and I'm using the Cricut for that as well.  We're doing another game or two that I'm using the Cricut to create pieces, and I'm doing some decorations as well, so that's kept me pretty busy.  I'm really enjoying getting to use my Cricut, though, and learning more about it.  Elliott's party is in less than two weeks, so as soon as I finish up the stuff for the party, I'll be working on Thank You cards on the Cricut as well.  That means I haven't had time to do any scrapbook layouts, but all the party stuff has been tons of fun as well. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year, New Goals

I don't normally make a lot of New Year's Resolutions, but do take some time to look at my goal list and tweak it a little bit.  I do more of that in August, when my birthday rolls around and school starts.  So a lot of the goals I'm working on are from then.

Here's a list of the things I'm currently working on:

Focusing on my health.  I have had several relatively minor health issues for a while, but a lot of minor issues can create some problems.  I've been on a gluten free diet for just over a month, and it seems to be helping some.  I do plan on doing some other things for my health now, too, though.  The big one being actually sleeping more, and realizing that I don't really NEED to be busy doing something for 18-20 hours a day. :)

Getting rid of debt.  My husband got a huge increase in his BAH this year, plus a regular raise because he's been in the Air Force for 8 years now.  That gives us a pretty big chunk of extra money each month to put toward debt.

Saving for a basement remodel.  My little sister is moving in with us next month.  We are all very happy about that, but it means some rearranging and decluttering.  This spring/summer we are going to remodel our basement and put a big bedroom down there for us, along with an office.  That will give my sister my current bedroom, and make things more comfortable for everyone I'm sure. :)

Spending more time doing the things I like to do.  My husband gave me a Cricut for Christmas, and Elliott and I have been having so much fun with it!  We haven't actually used it yet for scrapbooking, but we have made a chore chart, thank you cards, and some fun stuff that Elliott just wanted.  I also just started working on Elliott's birthday party invitations on the Cricut, and we love the way they look. :)  I can't wait to use it on some scrapbook layouts. 

Lose some more weight.  This one goes along with the first goal of getting my health under control.  Due to a couple of the issues I do have, losing weight is hard.  I'm working on it, though. 

Spend lots of time doing fun stuff with Elliott.  I've had a lot more trouble adjusting to  kindergarten than Elliott has.  I really enjoy our time together in the evenings and on weekends.  We already do a lot of fun stuff together during those times, but I've noticed that some days it just seems like I have too many other things to get done.  We only have 3.5 hours from the time he gets home to the time he gets in bed  (and that has to include, dinner, bath, prayers and stories, etc), so I'm working on ignoring anything that he isn't helping me with during that time.

So those are my main goals for this year.  Only one of them has a real deadline (the money for the basement remodel needs to all be saved by summer so we can work on it then).   I'm hoping to make progress on all of them, though! :)

Vacation Countdown

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