Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Winning the Diet Game

I have had several people ask me about what I am eating while trying to lose weight, and I have been gathering my thoughts on this for the past few days.

It is certainly true that couponing doesn't exactly lend itself towards healthy eating if we are talking about fresh, clean food, but it is entirely possible to count calories while couponing.

Here's the deal. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in, simple as that. I have tried diet after diet after diet, and the only thing that works is to burn more calories than you take in. I have however, taken a little bit of dieting strategy from each diet that I have done, so I am going to try to break that down.

First of all, I am big believer in recording what you eat for the first few weeks of a diet. Let's say you are dieting for the long haul--and I highly recommend dieting for the long haul, but I will get to that in a minute--I think that for the first three weeks or so, you need to be meticulous about writing down what you eat. And I mean every. single. bite. Why? Because if you don't, it is very easy to have a bite here and there, and without even realizing it, the calories start to pile up. I also think that after three weeks, you can slack off a bit when it comes to recording everything because you have established the habit of not taking a bite here and there. You see? And I am not saying that you should never take a bite. If there is cake or cookies at work, for example, and you are dying to have one, then by all means have one, just be sure to write it down and adjust your calories accordingly. This leads me to my next bit of dieting advice--

Don't cut out any one food. I have tried this before--no potato chips or french fries or chocolate or whatever, and for me it always back fires. I love potato chips and french fries. Love them, and I think they can easily fit into a diet. Again, our focus is on how many calories you eat in the day, so if I choose to eat fries at Chick-fil-a on Monday, then I just eat a low calorie dinner and breakfast. In the past when I have totally cut something out, it back fires because I end up ordering the fries anyway, feeling like I blew it, throwing in the towel, and calling it quits on the diet. However, if I never tell myself that I can't have fries, then if I eat them, I just adjust the day's food schedule. Do you see? This applies to whatever your "weakness" is; mine just happens to be french fries (dipped in ranch dressing, in case you were wondering).

Okay, while I don't believe in cutting out particular foods, I do believe in being smart about your food choices. I tend to get hungry often. Like, I may eat breakfast at 8 am, and by 10 am, I am famished. So, over the years I have learned that it is much smarter for me to eat eggs and whole grain toast than a cereal bar for breakfast. Protein and whole grains (complex carbs) are going to stick with you much longer than simple carbs (cereal bar). An easy mistake to make is to think that all calories are equal, and they are not. In fact, I would rather initially eat more calories at breakfast (omelet vs. bagel), but have the breakfast last until lunch. At the end of the day, I will have actually eaten less calories by being smart about what calories I choose. Does that make sense?

Now, this leads me to dieting on a budget. As you all know, my main priority right now is saving money in every way that I can. This means that my food choices most often reflect price rather than health or calorie count. There have been times, like when I was still teaching, when I could make health or diet my priority over price. So, alter your decisions accordingly. When teaching, convenience also played a huge role. For example, I might only have thirty minutes (or less) for lunch, so I often bought frozen, microwaveable meals such as Kashi or Lean Cuisine. These usually filled me up for the most part without packing on the calories. Now that I am staying at home, those things rarely work their way into the weekly budget. I do like Lean Cuisine pizzas a lot, so I try to stock up when they are on sale and I have coupons, but for the most part it is much cheaper for me to buy a loaf of bread (on sale) and peanut butter and call it lunch. Peanut butter is a cheap protein, and it is especially good for you if you buy Natural Peanut butter, so you aren't getting any added sugar or other ingredients. I use this to make peanut butter toast (on whole grain bread) or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (on whole grain, using "all fruit" type jellies). Again, the diet secret is no big secret, I just figure out how many calories I can have each day, and I stick to those calories no matter what.

This is getting long, so let me throw in two other things, and I will wrap this up. I suggest aiming for 1/2 lb to 1 lb a week. In college, I gained about ten lbs during my freshman year (which is a lot of weight gain when you are only 5 feet tall), and I tried my hardest to lose that weight over the course of three years. I tried everything, but finally, the summer before my senior year of college I did weight watchers, and I lost maybe 1/2 lb a week, and some weeks passed with no weight loss. It probably took me six months to lose the ten pounds, but I have never gained it back (not counting pregnancy, of course). Even now, I don't carry around that extra 10 lbs. Slow weight loss is the best kind. Don't try to drastically reduce calories. IT WON'T WORK. You will only become obsessive and it will back fire, I promise. (I speak from experience.) Be realistic and stick to a healthy amount of calories, and take it slow. The weight will come off and stay off, but you have to be patient and consistent. Any questions? I love talking about this stuff, so feel free to ask away.

And remember, here is my favorite place for dieting information. At the Daily Plate you will find out how many calories you need to eat each day, and you can record your daily meals and exercise. It is a great tool for staying on track!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday--eating from the pantry and freezer edition

Monday—tutor at 5:00—dried pintos in crock pot, corn bread (take out chicken to defrost)
Tuesday—tutor from 4-5, cook meat during the day, make tacos (boneless chicken breasts)
Wednesday—tutor all night—corn chowder in crock pot, bread
Thursday—dinner on our own (AKA cereal night), tutoring and bible study (take out stew meat to defrost for fajitas)
Friday—tutor 3:30-4:30, cook meat during the day, fajitas (I think we are actually doing dinner with friends, so this meal may be moved to next week's menu)
Saturday—frozen pizza (take out chicken to defrost for lunch tomorrow)
Sunday Lunch—chicken, rice, veggies in the crock pot

Okay, we have fallen off the budget wagon this month due to trips home, Easter shoes for Ada, car trouble, eating out one too many times, and the list could go on and on and on. So...I am going to be spending a bare minimum at the grocery store over the next month. I am getting back on track with coupons, and I plan to really work the sales as much as possible. So...I planned this week's menu purely on what we already had on hand. I will be buying a few things from the Publix BOGO sales, but I haven't even been to the store for the week. I am seeing how long we can survive without my going. There are only two diet cokes left in the fridge, so we most likely won't survive for long. My tutoring has messed up my dinner plans one too many times, so I have tried to plan crock pot meals for the nights when I will be away from home during the dinner hour, hence the tutoring reminders beside each menu item. That is to help my crazy absent minded self remember what I need to do each day.

Here is what else is on the menu, and Here is where you will find hundreds more menu ideas.

Lunch--pb & j, leftovers, and whatever else I find after I scrounge around in the pantry and freezer

Breakfast--eggs (need to buy these), peanut butter toast, muffins

p.s. we are only 5 weeks away from the beach, and I am down three pounds. Woo-hoo. I am still dieting and tae-boing in full force, and the scale and I are battling it out. Most mornings the scale wins, but this morning I gained the upper hand. The scale has been hovering around one pound lost no matter how much I stuck to calories or tae-boed, but this morning it finally dropped. I was dancing around the house I was so excited!!

We also put Ada on the scale, and she weighed 21.5 pounds!! She has recently hit a growth spurt, and she finally surpassed the 20 pound mark, granted that is with a diaper and clothes on, but still. Usually full clothed, she barely reaches 20.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ada at 19 months. She's a Hoot.

Bed Head

Bath Time.

Cuddling with Dad.

Sharing her books with Cow.

Cow and Doggie "goggy" are recent favorites around our house. In addition to her "bankie," she nows sleeps with cow and doggy.

Ada loves working her farm animal puzzle. She likes to says the sounds of the animals as she works it.

Finally, Spring has arrived, and we can play outside.
Reading to her baby.
Feeding Elmo during bath time. "Melmo" is another favorite around here.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I'm Loving E-Bay

Are ya'll e-bayers?

I have an on again, off again relationship with E-bay, and right now we are on. I am on the look out for cute, inexpensive Spring/Summer clothes for Ada. Luckily, I have been given many hand-me-downs, so I just need a few fillers, and her wardrobe will be complete. I am a true Southern Girl, so I have a weakness for all things smocked, as well as big bows and applique. You know what I mean, right? Now, it's no secret that Scott and I are on a limited budget--a price we pay for me to stay at home with Ada. I don't want to sacrifice cuteness, though;) Here is where E-bay comes in. Just this week, I bid on, and won, an adorable Kelly's Kids summer outfit for 10.00 including shipping. I typically don't win anything on E-bay because I keep my price so low. I am not willing to pay more than I would pay at Target or Old Navy or a Consignment Sale, but sometimes I get lucky, and I am the winner. And the bonus is that I get a package in the mail, which makes it all the more great.

Well it hit me yesterday that I should be looking on E-bay for hair bows. Recently I bought Ada a new white bow, and it costs me a pretty penny. Six dollars is not much in the big scheme of things, but it adds up quickly if I want more than one bow, right? Well, here is the most exciting news of all. Yesterday I bid on and won 10 custom made bows for 10.00. That's right, I have 10 bows coming to me, and I am only paying 10.00 including shipping. Plus, I get to pick my colors. Scott didn't get quite as excited as I hoped that he would, but I don't think he understood what an amazing deal it was. I kept repeating to him, "10 bows for 10.00!!!" and he would stare at me blankly. I thought, that's okay, I'll just blog about it:)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rainy Thursday Afternoon

Here is my list of things that need to be done--Tae Bo, prepare dinner, fold and put away clothes, clean, clean, clean, clean, and I could repeat that word over and over and it would not suffice because this house is always a crazy mess.

What have I been doing? Oh, you know. Lying on the couch watching Gilmore Girls while the rain pours down outside my window.

Ada and I joined Ashley and Knox for brunch this morning--it was lovely. Eggs Benedict, sweet potato fries, and yummy fruit. Ada and Knox were a little moody, but Ashley and I blamed it on the weather. After enjoying tea, brunch, and conversation at Ashley's, I thought the perfect way to spend the afternoon would be lying on the couch while Ada slept. I can't really enjoy it, though, because that voice in my head is ticking off the things that I need to be doing.

So, off to do Tae Bo. How do you like to spend your rainy days?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stock Up Time at Old Navy

If you have children that can wear a size up to 24 months, hurry, hurry, hurry to Old Navy. All baby clothes up to 24 months are on sale for 5.00 this week. It's a fairly amazing deal. I have had my eye on this precious bubble suit for Ada, which was originally 20.00, but I got it for 5 yesterday. Combine this with the Tanger Outlet 20% off a single item coupons that were in this past Sunday's paper, and you have got yourself a deal. I plan to go back and buy a few more dresses and bubble suits using my coupons.

Tip--you can get the solid color pants and shirts at Target for the same price, not on sale. I suggest stocking up on items you can't get elsewhere.

Also, I know a few other moms have been looking for white sandals for the Spring/Summer season, and I spotted a pair at the Gap Outlet yesterday for less than 20. Which is a great deal compared to everywhere else. Again, you can use a 20% off coupon to get them for even less. That is definitely on my to-do list today.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ask the Reader: Swagbucks Update

I am back to talk about Swagbucks, and I will most likely talk about it a lot between now and August.

Here's the deal with Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a search engine which allows you to win points for doing things that you normally do--"googling," shopping, etc.

I have set Swagbucks as my homepage, and every time that I log on, I am automatically taken to my Swagbucks page, and I search from there, even if I know the address. For example, if I want to check my hotmail, I type the word hotmail into the search bar, rather than actually typing in the address. You see? The point is that the more I search the more points I win, and I can trade those points for great prizes such as amazon or Starbucks gift cards.

You can also win Swagbucks by referring friends. Here is where you come in. I am trying to win enough Swagbucks to buy Ada a wooden kitchen for her second birthday in August. So far I have earned 20.00 worth of Amazon gift cards, and I am well on my way to another 5.00. The kitchen costs 90.00 total (an amazing price for a wooden kitchen), so I am thinking that I can get this thing done by August. If you want to help me out, here is what you do. Sign up here. Set Swagbucks as your homepage, and use it in the same way that you would use Google. Each time that you win points, I will win points, so we both are working our way to free stuff from Amazon or Starbucks or even Target.

Who doesn't want a free coffee or book every now and then? That's what I thought;)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday afternoon

It's beautiful outside. Absolutely beautiful. This kind of weather is good for the soul, don't you think?

An exercise video inside my house was not going to cut it today. So...we loaded up the car (Scott, Ada, and me) and headed to the local high school track. Ada played, and Scott and I took turns running. I wanted to run three miles, but I only made it through two miles. I am seriously out of shape. It felt so stinkin' good to be outside in the sunshine getting some exercise, three miles or not.

Exercise and sunshine, it's a healing combination.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


It is Saturday night, and I am back from a "my cup overfloweth" kind of day. It was a day spent catching up with old friends, and it was such refreshment. I will talk more about that later, though.

It is Saturday night, Ada is in bed, and I have not done one iota of exercise today. Normally, I would be okay with skipping just one day, but because this is only day three of the diet, I am afraid that if I skip working out, I will lose my momentum, and this is not the time to lose momentum. So, I am telling you right now that I have to do tae bo tonight. I already logged it in my Daily Plate, and after a mexican lunch with friends I need to burn some calories. I tried my bathing suit on today, and these thighs have a ways to go before they are beach worthy. (let's be honest, I am not sure my thighs have ever been beach worthy or ever will be no matter how many hours of kickboxing I log).

So, I will report back tomorrow (or tonight) and tell you if I did tae bo or not. You, my blog friends, have to hold me accountable!!

Update: Tae Bo is done--woo hoo!!! Every five minutes I thought about quitting, but I didn't. I am exhausted, and my body is asking me to stop all the exercising, but I am so glad that I did it. Three days in a row, ya'll.

Botched Grocery Trip

That grocery trip did not go as planned. I made some serious rookie mistakes, and I am no rookie when it comes to couponing.

Here are my totals

Publix=32.13 oop
35.17 saved

Kroger=49.98 oop
53.91 saved

and at the Farmer's Market, I spent 7.82

So grand total=89.93
But I bought 179.00 worth of groceries.

Still, I wanted to stay below 40. Oops. It's okay. I have had tutoring hours in abundance, so we will work out the money spent over budget, but we hoped that we might reach the end of this month and actually have extra money. I have to really buckle down with the couponing, get organized, and stick to budget.

Here is where I messed up. I bought lipton organic green tea, thinking it was B1G1. It was not. So, I spent about 6.00 on that, when I planned to spend around 2.00 after sale and coupons. I forgot to take my sargento cheese coupons, and I forgot to use a 2.00 snuggle fabric softener coupon. What was I thinking, really?

I did get 2 packs of Huggies for less than 4.00 each after sales, paper coupons, and e-coupons, so that was the highlight of the trip. Anyway, I do plan to get it together and get the grocery budget back on track.

Saturday's Grocery Plan

It's 4 am. I can't sleep. Who knows why, really. I don't even have anything on my mind. I just woke up, and I couldn't go back to sleep, so I decided to get out of bed and be productive. I have loaded and started the dishwasher, and I have completely prepared for today's grocery shop. Plus, I have realized that I have a lot of coupon organizing that needs to be done. I have been going through coupon burn out, so I slacked off for a while. Now, as a result, I am drowning in coupon paraphernalia. So...this week I am getting things back in order.

The grocery trip is looking good. I am doing Publix and Kroger, and I am hoping to stay under 40.00.

Last night, Tutti and I went to the Dekalb Farmer's Market. It was my first time there, and it was amazing. I was a bit in awe, just taking it all in. I didn't plan to make any big purchases since it was my first time. I mainly wanted to see what options I had there. I did walk away with three bags of organic mixed greens for less than I could buy a bag of Fresh Express at Publix. (each was less, not all three together less) I also bought a pound of fresh asparagus, and Tutti shared some of her fresh dill with me. We are hoping to make the Farmer's Market a regular thing. Tutti is a serious health nut, and we both realize that couponing doesn't allow for a lot of "clean" eating, so we are hoping to supplement all of our money saving with trips to the Farmer's Market. Scott, and I are going to have a big salad for Sunday lunch, using my mixed greens with chicken on top (.79 lb for a whole chicken at Publix!!). I can't wait, and I am hoping for enough left over chicken that I can have more salad for lunch during the week. Perfect for my bathing suit diet, right?

Here is tomorrow's grocery plan. I'll let you know how it goes.


2 boxes of Raisin Bran
2 Boxes of Oatmeal to Go
2 boxes of Lipton tea bags (hoping for organic green tea)
2 4-packs of yoplait yogurt
2 containers of Lysol wipes
2 bottles of Spray n' wash stain remover
2 containers of grape tomatoes
1 pack of Keebler cookies
2 kashi frozen meals
1 whole chicken
1 snuggle fabric softener
1 pack of Angel Soft (no more free toilet paper at Kroger. I am in mourning)
1 pack of Sparkle paper towels


1/2 gallon of milk
10 stouffer's paninis (part of the buy 10, get 5.00 off promotion, and I have coupons)
8 scotch brite sponges (also part of the promotion)
2 sargento shredded cheeses
2 packs of Huggies (on sale for 9.99, 2 5.00 coupons, 4.99 EACH!!!!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome, First Day of Spring!!!

Let's all shout hallelujah that winter has passed and spring has come. Really. I have been craving sunshine for months now. Bring. it. on.

How did Ada and I celebrate? We loaded up the car and headed to Walgreens for some claritin. Claritin and I will be BFFs for the next couple of months. Pollen will not hold me hostage inside my house. I will medicine up and face the sunshine with gusto.

I put a bright pink outfit on Ada, watermelons and all. I placed a big white bow in her hair and pink crocs on her feet. We greet this season with open arms and a foggy head from all the medication. But that is okay. A foggy head does not prevent my face from feeling the sunshine beating down.

p.s. I also celebrated the first day of spring with a 1/2 lb lost. Thank you, Tae Bo. Thank you fresco menu at Taco Bell. Thank you jeans that are way too tight reminding me that I have let the pounds gather over the last few months, and it is way past time to nip it in the bud. I'll keep you posted. For now, Billy Blanks and I have a kickboxing date.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fun, low-cal, meal on the go

Okay, I am back, and I am done with Tae-bo. Woo-hoo!!! One day down. And the most shocking thing of all, Ada is still asleep. I can't believe it. So...I am quickly going to give you a diet meal idea.

Warning--I have millions of diet facts floating around inside my brain. I have been storing them up there for many years now. Because I haven't officially dieted since my wedding, I have never shared these tips on here. They might show up a lot over the next six weeks. If you thought I was obsessed with coupons, you "ain't seen nothing yet." I will try to contain myself.

Anyway...I have tried every diet under the sun, really, I have. And my favorite, most successful one is Weight Watchers. It is healthy, safe, and sort of fun. The same thing in me that likes the game of couponing, likes the game of dieting. With weight watchers, you get a certain amount of points for the day, and I love seeing how far I can stretch those points. Much like I stretch our grocery money each week. Well, weight watchers costs money, and though I have memorized a lot of point values, I haven't memorized them all, so I am going to do a modified version of weight watchers and count calories. I am using the site, The Daily Plate, to do this. It's a great way to record what you have eaten each day. You can enter your height and weight, choose a certain amount of weight to lose each week, and it will tell you how many calories you can have each day. Then if you work out for a certain amount of time, you enter that into your "plate," and you earn calories for the day. You see?

So...today is day one of counting the calories, and we had nothing to eat for lunch since we just got back into town yesterday, so I headed to Taco Bell for my favorite, low calorie meal. Tutti, who is a walking encyclopedia of healthy eating facts (I talk diet, she talks health), introduced me to the concept of Taco Bell as healthy. Here is what I ordered today--2 chicken soft tacos, fresco style, and an order of pinto beans--no cheese and no red sauce. The tacos have 170 calories each, and the beans have 100 calories. Not bad, right? And it is a very fresh tasting meal. Some people might be able to get away with eating only one taco for even fewer calories. I require a suprisingly large amount of food in order to prevent starvation;), so I ordered two tacos, but I am still coming in way under my day's allowance, thanks to tae bo!!!

Please, please, please, pass on any meal or dieting ideas. Really, that bathing suit is staring me in the face, and it's not pretty.

Still no time for blogging

I have so much I want to blog about, yet I don't have the time to do it. So, I am stopping by for a quick hello.

The beach is six weeks away, and I could not be more excited than I am. Really, Scott and I thinking we are looking more forward to this trip than we were honeymoon. We didn't know what we had that week of our honeymoon. We thought all of marriage would be like that--ha;) However, I am not looking forward to putting on a swim suit, or anything that shows my arms or legs for that matter because I am quite out of shape. Like, maybe the worst shape of my life? So...I am counting calories and committing to Tae Bo every. single. day. And then, maybe the bathing suit part of the beach trip won't be quite as painful. We'll see. Bathing suit season always catches me by surprise. I am all covered up in winter clothes, and then, boom, it's 70 degrees outside, and I am scrambling to get myself into some kind of shape.

So...on today's schedule, cleaning for bible study tonight, tae bo (which takes almost an hour!!!!!!), keeping up with Ada, tutoring, and the list could go on and on. I will be back in the next couple of days to talk about the grocery plan for the rest of the month.

Preview--Kashi frozen meals are B1G1 at Publix this week, just in time for operation I have to wear a bathing suit in six weeks. Those will make a nice treat at lunch time next week.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Home, Sweet Home

We are home, and we are so glad to be here.

When Ada saw Scott, she wrapped her tiny arms around his neck and held on tight. She didn't even flinch when I left to tutor, and she usually cries and clings to me. She was so glad to see her daddy. And I was glad to see him too. We don't like to be apart for long. Scott and I are not a super romantic couple, but we are tightly connected, and I lean on him. And he puts up with me;)

Other good news--I have cleaned out my google reader, and it now reads zero!! Yea.

I will be back tomorrow with pictures and updates and such, but I felt the need to say good night. The weekend is close, ya'll. Get excited.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

We're alive and kicking

First a comment on my google reader. How do I know that I am subscribed to waaaaaay too many blogs--I have over 500 unread posts. It's time to clean it out, don't you think?

Second, I am getting a full dose of infanthood over here in Alabama, and let me just say, it's all coming back to me. The endless crying, the lack of sleep, the frustration over not knowing exactly what your baby wants or needs. Let me also just say that I am not deterred in the least. Lord, please, let me be a mama again. This is what I think about those early months--months one through three to be exact, you just have to hold your nose, close your eyes, and jump, and just when you think you can't hold your breath any longer, you rise to the surface and you have survived. And your baby is smiling and cooing, and sleeping longer than two hours at a time. You do get there one day. Because on top of the crying (screaming may be a more appropriate term) I have also been reminded of the newborn smell and the way they stretch and curl their bodies when you pick them up, as if they are still tucked into the womb. And those fingers and toes. Oh man, I can't get enough. I repeat, Lord, please, let me be a mama again. And give me the grace to survive everyday of it, even the ones that feel unsurvivable.

In the mean time, Ada is still choosing to hit and scream and throw tantrums, but she and Ellie do seem to be getting along better than ever before, and I was about to die to pick her up today when we had only been apart for two nights. It's the paradox of motherhood--I desperately need a break, and then I am desperate to get back to her when we are apart. No matter how many times she hits me in the face (most definitely on purpose) she is still my precious girl, and we will figure this out and get to the other side--just like we figured out nursing and sleeping and living life during those first few months of her life. I suppose every stage will bring some thing that will cause me to cry out to God for grace and strength and wisdom. And I am so thankful that he has promised mercies that are new every morning.

Friday, March 13, 2009

From Alabama

Well, here I am, back in Alabama for a week, hoping to be of some help to Ann. Scott's parents picked Ada up today, and they will keep her until Sunday afternoon, so my hands are free.

We arrived yesterday evening around 5 pm. I planned to arrive midday yesterday, but I had a last minute parent-teacher conference to attend for one of my tutoring students. It's the first time that I have been in the halls of a school since becoming a full time mom, and I wanted to soak it in. It's just a fact--no matter the school, I feel at home there. I love walking down the hall while all the students are in class, and you can see in the windows--all the various types of learning that are taking place. I LOVE IT.

I have picked up a new tutoring student--a ninth grade boy, and finally, finally I am tutoring English. Before now I have done History or study skills or test prep, but I have not had an official English student yet. I have only been with him for a week, but Wednesday night I finally arrived home at 9:00 pm (I had been gone since 3:30), and Scott and I both noticed that I was incredibly energized rather than the exhausted that I usually feel. And we both hypothesize that it was due to the 90 minutes spent discussing Great Expectations that put the spring in my step. I asked my student what he is reading next, and he told me, Romeo and Juliet. I practically started salivating. I said, "Oh, I love Shakespeare," with much gusto, and he looked at me as if I was a bit crazy. But I don't mind. I'll take Shakespeare with a side of Chaucer, please.

Back to the matter at hand, though.

So after a rather nerve racking drive home--Ada spent much of the three hours screaming rather shrilly, we got to Scottsboro, and all went fairly well. I held a crying, tummy hurting Andrew, while Ann bathed Ellie and Ada, and then we switched so Ann could nurse him. And I even got Ada down with barely a whimper. However, at 10 pm, Ada decided to wake up along with Andrew, and give him a run for his money in the crying department. She was practically in hysterics, and she started asking for Ellie and Luke. I was like, sweetie, Ellie and Luke are not going to do you much good right now. I finally let her cry it out for a while--and by cry, I mean loud, hiccupy, can barely breath crying, but she finally fell asleep, and promptly woke up again a few hours later, and again and again throughout the night, until finally at 6 am, I threw in the towel and took her up to the playroom. The first couple of times she woke up, I was worried about sending her off with Scott's parents, but by 6 am, I have to say I was rather eager to get rid of her. Really, I am kidding;) I will be anxious to see how she does.

But, on that note, I should get back to Ann's house to see how she is faring. Poor little Andrew and that upset tummy. Bless his little heart.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I am back to talk a bit more about Swagbucks, my new favorite way to earn "freebies." You can go here to sign up for Swagbucks. I found out about this from my friend Jessica, who is attempting to pay for her son's first birthday present with amazon gift cards earned through swagbucks. I loved that idea, and now I am trying to earn enough Swagbucks for Ada's second birthday present. I have my eye on a very cute, wooden kitchen that would look great in her "big girl" room that she will most likely be moving into this summer. The kitchen is 90.00, and I have 10.00 in giftcards so far, but I am well on my way to another 5.00 gift card. I also signed Scott up for Swagbucks, so that he can start earning points as well. I think we might just make it happen. And if I don't end up getting enough for the kitchen, I will get a huge discount; I am already down to 80.00 for a wooden kitchen, which is a phenomenal price!

Here is how it works. I signed up for Swagbucks, downloaded the tool bar, made Swagbucks my homepage, and now anytime I do an internet search, I use Swagbucks rather than google or yahoo or any other site. Then, as you search, you will randomly "win" a point or two points or sometimes even ten points at a time. I always win at least one point a day, but I usually earn more than that. Then, as your points add up, you can trade them in for prizes. For example, it "costs" 45 swagbucks to get a 5.00 Amazon gift card. There are other ways to win, such as referring friends, or buying things online through their website, but the main way that you win is just by doing internet searches that you would be doing anyway. It really is a fabulous tool, and I love that it is yet another way that I can save our family money.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring is here in full force today, and it couldn't have arrived any sooner

It's coming, folks. My eyes are itching, my nose is running, and March has arrived. Pollen must be in the air. I am queen of the allergy world. I turn into a walking medicine cabinet when Spring arrives, and I even purposefully planned my wedding around allergy season so that my eyes wouldn't be swollen in the pictures. It can get fairly miserable.

When I was 11, and my school picture came back with one eye swollen shut (it was lovely), my mom took me to an allergy specialist. Then I spent my Jr. High years getting allergy shots once a week. To make things even more wonderful, we drove two boys from my grade to school every morning. Two rather attractive boys, even, and I had to go once a week to get my allergy shot--with them in the car. I was the coolest.

But then my body became immune to the shots, and my allergies came back. So now I just suffer through Spring, and I take three different kinds of medicines to get me through it. It was especially bad during the season when I was pregnant with Ada, and I was trying to avoid medicine. After sitting up all night barely able to breath, the doctor and I decided that oxygen was more important for Ada than my not taking the medicine;) All of that to say that I welcome Spring with mixed emotions.

Well, today, Ada and I spent a lot of time outdoors in hopes that it would help her to get some energy out, and possibly keep me from killing her. It was a bad morning, ya'll. She is getting feistier (sp?) by the day. Oh my, it was bad. I needed to run into Books a Million to pick up one thing. We are talking at the most ten minutes. Well, she wiggled out of my arms, and before I even knew what was happening, Ada was running full speed through Books a Million. I am, of course, chasing after her because all I can picture is book after book being pulled from the shelf. I finally, scoop her up, pay for my one item, and get her out of there, all while she is using all of her strength to try to get out of my arms. She HATES to be confined. This includes my arms, high chairs, grocery carts, strollers, and car seats.

So, we finally get out of Books a Million, purchase in hand, and it is time for me to load Ada into her car seat. This has become a battle we fight every single time I put her in the car seat!!! And it's starting to make me want to just sit at home and avoid the car all together. She is little, and she is quick, and before I know what is happening, she climbs over the car seat, and backs herself into the farthest corner of the car away from me. Can you picture this? There I stand outside the door, and her back is up against the other door, daring me to somehow get her into that car seat. I usually ending up climbing into the car, my rear end sticking out of the car for all the world to see, and I physically wrestle her and hold her down, while she screams and fights back, and I finally, finally get her buckled in. It's a mess, and I am almost at my wit's end.

Mom's who have gone before me, any advice for handling this strong willed child of mine?

Right now, I tend to stick to our "happy" places, which is anywhere that Ada can run free, so we welcome this 80 degree weather. It just might be the thing that saved our sanity today. I love her, but man, oh man, is she a challenge.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

So, now that my pantry is stocked, what do I plan to do with all of that food? Much of the frozen food will be consumed by Scott when Ada and I head to Alabama this coming weekend. Ada is going to spend a couple of nights with Scott's parents while I spend a few days helping Ann with her three little ones. I am dying to see Andrew. I haven't seen him since he was born, and it is killing me. I also want to see Ellie and Luke, of course, and I want to hang out with Ann. So, it's a win-win.

Until then, however, this is what we will be eating.

Saturday night--frozen pizza
Sunday Lunch--split Shane's Barbecue
Monday night--corn chowder and home made bread
Tuesday night--spaghetti, broccoli, and bread
Wednesday--bean soup in the crock pot and cornbread
Thursday--I head to Alabama, and Scott is left to fend for himself. I might put something together so that he will have something good to eat when he comes home to an empty house. We'll see how that goes.

Breakfast--eggs (Ada eats three!!! Isn't that crazy? She would eat more, but I don't let her), toast, yogurt, cereal

Lunch--lean cuisine pizzas, PB & J, leftovers

What are you eating this week? For ideas on what to cook, head over to Organizing Junkie.

Our Cupboards are Stocked and the Freezer is Overflowing

I spent a painful amount of money on groceries this week. Scott and I are re-thinking the way we do our budget each month. Instead of having a certain amount of money each week, we are using a certain amount each month (the amount stays the same; we are just distributing differently). This gives me a bit more freedom to stock up when the sales are especially good, or when the cupboards are getting a bit bare.

We have been living off our stockpile for a while now, only buying absolute necessities and fillers, and I was feeling the need to do a major grocery trip. That happened this weekend. Though I spent more than usual, I feel really good about the deals that I got, and I think that I can keep costs to a bare minimum for the rest of the month.

Here is the breakdown.

I started at Kroger because the Publix sales weren't that great

4 Lean Cuisine Pizzas
4 Stouffer's Paninis
2 packs of Activia Yogurt plus cereal
1 pack of Kroger flour
2 boxes of Pillsbury Toaster Strudel
1 bag of dried 16 bean soup
1 box of Kroger brand ranch dressing mix (3 packs in a box)
1 bag of Kroger brand cheddar
6 loaves of Pillsbury garlic bread
4 Freschetta Pizzas
1 loaf of Arnold whole grain sandwich bread
2 bags of Fritos corn chips (to go with Taco Soup)
1 bag of Kroger hashbrowns (for corn and potato chowder)
1 pack of Kroger taco seasoning
1 pack of Tyson split chicken breasts
2 cans of Kroger black beans
1 lb of ground beef
1 pack of stew meat (marked down for quick sale--I was super excited!!! We haven't had beef stew in AGES)
2 cans of Glory brand butter beans (I really love these, so I bought them just to have on hand)
2 cans of Kroger pinto beans
3 cans of Kroger corn

Total OOP=86.93
Total Saved=56.00

Obviously, the spending/saving ratio is not nearly as good as what it usually is at Publix, but Kroger was having a great frozen food sale, so I used this week to stock up on things that I normally don't buy.

Okay, so next I went to Walgreens for the AMAZING Huggies deal that is going on right now. If you haven't already, you need to print your 5.00 and 3.00 Huggies coupons and head to Walgreens.

So at Walgreens

2 packs of Huggies diapers @ 10.00 each
1 pack of Huggies wipes @6.00
2 Red Baron Pizzas @2.50 each
4 cases of Diet Coke @3.25 each

-1 5.00 Huggies cpn
-2 3.00 Huggies cpns
-1 1.00/2 Red Baron coupon
-1 2.00/4 Diet Coke coupon

Total OOP=32.36
Total Saved=30.91
AND I got back a total of 13.00 in Register Rewards
10.00 from spending 25.00 on Huggies
and 3.00 from buying 4 cases of Diet Coke. This is the best part of all. Publix allows you to use Walgreens Register Rewards at Publix, and I already had 10.00 worth of RR from buying eight trial size Dove Deodorants last week. This means, I went into my Publix trip with 23.00 worth of RRs on top of the coupons and BOGO deals.

Okay, final grocery trip, Publix

2 Ora Idea Steam in Mash Potatoes
2 Yo Crunch Yogurts
1 gallon of Publix Milk
3 cartons of strawberries
2 boxes of Chex Mix bars
2 bottles of Ken's Steak House Ranch Dressing
2 bags of Ruffles potato chips
1 box of Maxwell House coffee
1 jar of Jiff Peanut Butter
2 boxes of Banana Nut Cheerios
1 pack of Publix cookies (penny item)

Total OOP=8.18
Total Saved=61.91

Okay, so grand totals

Total Saved=148.82

I got 276. 29 worth of groceries for 127.47. I LOVE couponing. Our cupboards are stocked, our freezer is overflowing, and I am feeling good about the month's budget. Things are looking up, ya'll. (And the beach is only a couple of months away--woo-hoo!!!)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Favorites around our house

There is so much that I want to blog about that I feel overwhelmed, which is the story of my life.

Because I have about 30 minutes before I have to tutor (yes, on a Saturday night), I am just going to do a quick blog about what we are loving these days, and by we, I mean Ada.

That little chicken nugget (as we like to call her) pretty much rules the roost around her, so if she loves it, we all better love it, or at least make plans to get on board really quickly.

As I have mentioned before, Ada loves anything having to do with music. Her first favorite song was The Itsy Bitsy Spider, and even before she could talk she had certain motions that she would do when she wanted me to sing it. Since then we have added various other songs to her list of favorites including the ABCs, Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi (thank you, Scott), the Thomas the Train theme song, the Veggie Tale theme song, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and the list could go on and on.

She also loves to read. Loves it. I often catch her all by herself making up words to go along with the pictures in the book. A while ago, Scott's mom gave us some of Scott's old books, and those have become Ada's favorite ones of all. They are very short and simple books, and she has even memorized a few of the words in each one. (Scott and I have memorized all of the words--yikes! She never tires of reading the same books over and over and over).

Over time as I observed her ability to remember songs and stories even at her young age, I was convicted that she could already be "hiding God's word in her heart." As great as the words to itsy, bitsy spider are, I feel like scripture might benefit her just a tad more;). Another mom that I go to church with and who I am in bible study with came to my rescue. She made me a copy of the C.D. "Seeds of Courage." Do you know about it? If not, you need to know about it. It is a CD that takes straight scripture and puts it to music. It's great. I have only had the CD for a little over a week, and I have already memorized four new Bible Verses. Something about hearing the verses as songs, makes them so easy to memorize, and I am hoping they will have the same affect on Ada.

This brings me to the other thing that I am loving (and Ada will love it too when she gets her Easter basket). Swagbucks. Do you know about this? Through Swagbucks you can earn gift cards and other prizes just for doing things you normally do on the internet. For example, I set Swagbucks as my homepage, and I use it to do internet searches in much the same way that I would normally use google. I have only been using Swagbucks for about a month and I am one point away from earning a ten dollar gift card to Amazon. I am using that card to buy Ada a few books for her Easter basket, or perhaps the Seeds of Faith CD. I have big plans to own all the cds in that series.

So that is just a few of the things we are loving lately. What are some of your favorite things these days?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Checking In

I have been without Internet all week, which is the reason for my absence from the blog world. I have felt incredibly disconnected, but all is repaired, and I will be back soon to post on deals, Ada antics, and some long overdue pictures from a playdate we had last week. Stay tuned:)

Preview--I am not loving the Publix deals this week, are you? I may buy a couple of things, but I am certainly not using this week to stock up. AND I have been searching E-bay for .50 off one cottonelle coupons, and there are none to be found. Are the days of free toilet paper over? I do believe it may be true. It hurts my heart to actually pay for toilet paper.

The other reason for my absence--my tutoring hours have multiplied, which is a huge blessing, but it also creates a very tired me. I work, work, work all afternoon, and then I stumble into bed at night exhausted. The bank account will thank me, however, I am sure of it.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The week's menu plan

As I mentioned earlier, I am trying to simplify my meal planning by using a basic template each week. Here is what that will look like

Friday--something fun for dinner, most likely fast food with coupons I have found online that week
Saturday--pizza of some sort, homemade, frozen, or delivery based on the week's budget
Sunday Lunch--brunch
Monday Night--pasta
Tuesday Night--soup
Wednesday Night--new recipe
Thursday Night--crock pot

So...I am hoping that will make it easier to plan each week and to stockpile. We'll see. I am fairly flexible with my menu once the groceries are bought. I know what is planned for the week, and I often change it around based on what I am in the mood for that day.

Here is this week's menu, not really using the new template because I came up with it after I grocery shopped.

Friday Night--Taco Bell (coupons)
Saturday Night--Arby's (leftover money from Plato's Closet, and I didn't feel like cooking)
Sunday Lunch--Frozen meal from the freezer
Monday night--Spaghetti, bread, veggie from freezer
Tuesday night--black beans, rice, and sausage
Wednesday night--Chicken Parmesan, veggie from freezer
Thursday Night--black bean quesadillas

Lunch--sandwiches, chips, grapes, and leftovers
Breakfast--south beach bars, yogurt, toast, eggs

And if you need more menu ideas, check out organizing junkie.