Sunday, February 22, 2009

Howdie everyone!!!
Hope you had a great week.
Just a short post this week. Wanted to give the relatives a look at the birthday boy, and share my thrifty tip of the week.
We went from spring like weather, back to winter this week, but I am maintaining a positive attitude, it is still warmer than it was, and spring is officially Just a few weeks away. Already I am back to doing my long runs outside again with my running buddy Jami, and that really make me happy!!! Treadmill running is great for speed training, but it sucks for long runs!!! It gets so boring, when the scenery never changes.

My First Teenager!!!!
Well Jack and I have been parent's of a teenager for just over a week now.
Thomas however was kind to his mom. When I asked him what type of cake he wanted, he said, well a heart shape one mom like you always make BUT please mom no more pink icing, I want green!!!! so green he got, with green and blue candies to top it that he picked out.

This was the first year that instead of cashing the money from the relatives and getting him a gift with it to wrap and give from that relative, for the big day along with the rest of the cash, we gave him all the cash, and just a gift from us (a Tintin comic, and the Madagascar 2 movie). After several days of hard thinking he spent a bit of the money on lego and decided to put the rest of his money is his car account "sixteen is only three years away you know!!!!" (ugg I don't want to think of that)
No party this year, he spent his day, watching movies, eating mom's homemade pizza for dinner ,and we took him to his favorite buffet restuarant for lunch (Ryan's) where he ate more than his Dad!!!!
This week he got his first taste of teenage hood by going to the YMCA with his dad to get his student card, so he can now use all the big machines, and workout along side his dad. Thomas touched us both by thanking God for the YMCA outing that evening during prayers before dinner. Which lead Jack and I to agreeing to trying to get him and Jack there on a regular basis together. Who knows perhaps we will have another runner in the family!!!

This Weeks Thrifty Tip
Md's is one of my children's favorite places to eat (isn't that true of most children?). One of the best ways I have found to save money and enjoy a thrifty treat, is to buy the coupon packs that they print at ,Halloween, Christmas, valentine's and springtime, and sometimes even during the back to school time of the year. Each Pack has 12 coupons and cost just a $1 and are good for children 12 and under (Thomas was so upset that he can't use them anymore, and so was I).
For those of you that live in the area, these packs are available at the kokomo's Md's across from Menard's, or the one in the Kokomo Walmart. You can also get them at the Fort Wayne location just off 24 and 69, at the Jefferson point exit, and the Md's near the Fort Wayne Zoo also has them.
The treats for the Valentine's packs included, hamburgers, apple dippers or fries, milk or juice, ice-cream cones. These are great for snacks on the run, or to reduce the cost of a take out meal.
For instance running home from church today , I fed our entire family at Md's for $10.25. How did I do it? Well first, we did not pig out, and we took the meal home to round out and finish off with fruit! I got Aiden and Courtney to use a hamburger coupon each, Thomas and I split a 2 cheeseburger meal and I larged the fries and drink, Jack had a big Mac meal and I larged the fries and drink. We brought it all out and shared the fries between us, and the kids shared a can of coke, (Jack and I kept the drinks that came with the meals, I am still sipping the sweat tea two hours later) and as I said if they were still hungry I pointed them towards the fruit drawer in the fridge.
Do we do this all the time. No we do allow the children to sometimes pick whatever they want to eat, and there is no sharing of fries those days. But generally that is saved for vacations, birthdays and other celebrations. Seriously what mom needs another happy meal toy to trip on anyhow!!!! And do any of us need that many fries on our hips!!!! ( I once saw a visual demonstration on just how much fat and salt are in those fries believe me it made a huge impact on me!!! yuck talk about artery compacting) By sharing meals we fill our craving, but keep within our budget.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It has been a fun week, and a reflective week. Jack and I can hardly believe our journey into parenthood began over 13 years ago.
I hope you enjoy the pictures of our winter get-a-way and all the thrifty hints.
Me loosing to Aiden at the "lily pad" race
Mommy hood at its best
One thing I thank God for a lot is the fact that I am fit enough to really play with my children. I can bike with them, run with them, and even do Lily Pad races with them.
I love weeks like the one we just spent, where I am reminded over and over that I am blessed to be a mom. To share in the giggles, and the fun, to be hugged by them and to be loved by them.

Aiden hitting the waves in the wave pool with waves of up to 6 feet high
Me and Courtney doing water races!!!

Aiden getting ready to do the Lilly Pad race with his mama and win!!!!

Thomas doing the "lily pad" race

Me finishing the races!!!!
A few things I have learned about water parks
1. No matter how fit you are, expect to feel muscles ache that you never knew you had the next day
2. Getting water up your nose is 100% guaranteed
3. Children have no fear, but strangely you now do, so expect to scream, while you children laugh at you!!!
4. Swimming makes the whole crowd hungry so pack lots of food.
5. Swimming does strange things to blond hair that it never does to brunette, BUT brunette mother's out there with blond headed children do not fear, deep conditioner left on for an hour will save the day!!!

Enjoying the use of the "Hut" that Daddy surprised us by renting it for our full day at the Resort
Courtney Hitting the waves!!!

Aiden and Thomas heading out to seek adventure on one of the many water slides

The Hut we had for one day!!! Living the life of Luxury

Jack reading his book!!! I think he finished it all by the end of the day
Our Annual Winter Get A Way
For the past two winters our entire family has enjoyed two nights and three days at the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky Ohio. The year before that I sent Jack and the 2 boys there as a surprise vacation for just the boys. They loved it so much they begged for a return visit with Courtney and I, and so our annual trek, to Kalahari was born.
If you book early at you can get some excellent rates, especially mid-week in deep winter (that is the one of the joys of homeschooling you can organize your school year to vacation at off-season rates).
We had a great time, it was very relaxing, and the place is huge (see pictures of it on the website) and the kids are of course begging to go again next year.

Thrifty Tip of the Week!!!
How to Save $$$ at Target
Okay I know people with Super Targets near them can do far better than I can at taking advantage of all Target's deals. However the two closest to me are not Super Targets, but still I do pretty okay with finding great deals. Now a wiser and older woman, many years ago opened my eyes to Target's potential (Shannon you are older than me right???) anyways, she took this Target Virgin through the ropes one evening away from the hectic life of toddler and babyhood. I have been using her hints ever since and saving $$$. First get a cart, then go down the end of each of the aisle looking for clearance caps, also spy down the aisle itself for red clearance tabs. It really does not take a lot of time to do the store, I would say 15 minutes top, if you really get up a good pushing cart speed, (work those legs gals!!!!)
What is there to find??? Well this week, I got a over the toilet cabinet for the new house regular $60 got it for $15, and then a 5x7 rug for the boys new room regular price $90 I paid $50, later that week I was in a town with a Target again with my hubby when he spied a steal of a deal (yep Jack does target with me occasionally) we got two black leather parish chairs for the new desk in the home school room regular price $120 each we paid $34 each.
In the past I have also gotten sheet sets, toys, clothes, stationary, gifts, all for extremely low prices.
So next time you are at Target, grab a cart and stay on target and race the aisles!!! You won't regret it!!!!
This Weeks CVS steals
I just got back from CVS and all this cost me a grand total of $2.35. Thats about what you would pay for the toothpaste at walmart. And no I do not do the energy shots they were free with cash backs and I needed their total to use my $5 of $30 coupon and get the maximum ECB back, so that my out of pocket was as low as it could go!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

2 Weeks in a row!!!
This has not happened in a while. I managed to blog two weeks in a row. I was just dying to get up the new pictures of the kitchen. It is looking amazing. Enjoy the read, and have a great week. Think of me, by the next time I write I will be a mom of a teenager!!!! That went fast. It feels like just last week I brought that colicky bundle of love home!!!
Our kitchen is pretty much complete, and I have never been a bigger fan of my husband than now. It is totally the kitchen I had in my head all these years. I cannot wait to get over there and cook him a big pot or batch of something in it!!!
Jack applying the grout to the kitchen counters. We got this granite tile for a steal of a deal, before we were even finished taking the plaster off the walls, almost 2 years ago, it feels so good to see it where we have always wanted it.

Our little kitchen bar area. Just big enough for three stools one for each of our "little animals". The room you see beyond it is our homeschooling room that has the couch in it from the other pictures. Still got to paint that window yet!!! The trim will be white like the cabinets. Oh and the bar chairs are from Big Lots (read today's thrifty tip feature)

Lots Got Done, Lots to do

Jack had a really good two to three weeks of successes at the renovation home. He got project after project done with no hang ups. However late this week, he hit a very frustrating day that ended with two more walls for me to repaint, after he repairs them. Since that day, he has done only little things, wanting a stress break!!!
OH well we still got a lot more done, than what we created to repair.
Every time I go over to paint now, I get giddy with excitement. I completed the painting on the master bedroom except for 3 tiny pieces of trim work, Jack had overlooked and put in once I noticed they were missing.
I have just one more coat on the bottom trim around the floors of the other rooms upstairs and those few tiny pieces of missed trim and then I can head downstairs to the downstairs trim.
I am leaving the biggest project to last. The staircase, as I am painting the old stairs and the banister and figure, if I wait till Jack is all done his work, there will be less dust and no one will need to go up the stairs while they are drying.
We will need to repaint a few walls due to accidents from Jack, or from me, I think we are 50/50 for those now. But that should not take long, I think I will just wait till everything else is done, then invite a few gal friends over for a night of chatting and touch ups.

Look at the transformation!!!

If you go way back into my blog history you will find a picture of a ugly claw foot tub that had the biggest most hideous flowers painted on it in thick paint. We went back and forth several times over whether to save the tub or get a new one. Finally I went into Lowe's and discovered just how much tub, I could afford and said "I got to at least try". So I took the wisdom of a helpful older man and sprayed the thing down with oven cleaner, yep you read right oven cleaner. Then I took a scraper to it and scraped off layers upon layers of bad paint jobs.

Then Jack stepped in and sanded it with sand paper made for metal. Then he primed and painted it with Auto spray paint. He did the inside with a special enamel paint and then we got the fixtures off of eBay for a fraction of the cost of those at the hardware store.

The total cost to renovate the tub was 3 days of labour and $250 in fixtures and supplies. I think it was worth it, cause I could have barley been able to soak my big toe, in the tub I could have gotten for that price, and now I can soak my whole self!!! Bring on the bubbles, and the smelly candles!!! This momma is indulging in a good well deserved soak when we finally move in.!!!

This Weeks Thrifty Tip!!!
I love saving money, and I know some of you like hearing about it; others, well you can tell that you have gone to your happy place, some where deep inside. So I thought instead of chatting your ear off, I will leave a tip a week on my blog, and those of you that are interested can read about it. Those of you that aren't can scroll on by!!! This does not guarantee I won't talk about it, but it will give you a place to find the websites, that I told you about.
Today's thrifty tip is Big Lots!!! Its a great store in our area, that sells closeout groceries, to toys to clothes to furniture.
The prices for some things are not really all that cheap, but others are amazing. Our family goes there for all our socks and most of our underwear (yep, I just printed where I get my families undies ).
I also get a lot of educational computer software there for our kids homeschooling. Up till about grade three, my children finish off their school day with some time on the computer playing educational software and about 1/2 of it comes from Big Lots.
For our reno. home we have bought our drop clothes, paintbrushes, rollers and trays at Big lots for significantly less than the hardware stores (small word of advice though, don't use their painters tape, it takes the paint with it!!! I learned the hard way with that)
I have also found great deals on clothes, curtains, cleaning supplies and toys.
To save yourself even more money make sure you sign up for their Buzz Club, on line at , when you do you will get a 20% coupon of your next entire purchase, sent to your inbox. And you will get more of these 20% coupons randomly throughout the year. Jack and I just got one a few weeks ago, and we used it to buy our curtains (also a great deal even without the coupon) and lamps for the new home (ours here are on their last legs, our kids are hard on lamps) , snacks for our upcoming trip, a few small tools he needed, and a few things for the kitchen, and we saved ourselves almost $50 off our purchase.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I know I missed a Sunday an now it has been a month since I have written. We have been working hard on our Renovation home, and Jack has found someone who takes half his Saturday shift at the Hospital for him, so we can work a bit more on the Renovation home. It is really helping us get it done, but that means more time for me away from our current home, which means I got a little bit too behind on our currents homes needs to sit down and type. Its caught up again though, Courtney finally had a big learning growth spurt and can do a lot more of her school work independantly so that freed up some of my time to catch up laundry and such!!! She just sits near by for me to answer questions.
The TV alter all painted (Courtney insisted on hanging the Christmas stocking on it at Christmas time, even though we ended up dragging them to our current home, it was just too dusty over there to celebrate the big day)
My Very black and white kitchen. People think I am crazy with this much white in the kitchen. But I know myself, I don't tend to see dirt like other people so if something is white I see the dirt and therefore I clean the dirt more often!!! Plus whenever I look at home design mags. its always the white kitchens I salivate over!!! (guess what I got counter tops this week and a back splash Yeah!!!!)

Our study, we dragged over a couch and rug to make an area of the kids to sit and watch video's while we work. This room is just off the kitchen and will be our main school area, it now has a coffee table. Jack blew me away, we were at Big Lots one day and I showed him a table I liked and asked if he could make one like it for cheaper and with a shelf. Afterwards I was upstairs at the reno. painting when he calls me down and says hey, what size do you want that table?? in a little under 24 hours I had the coffee table I wanted!!! Thanks Honey Your the Best!!! I like it even better than the roses you picked up just because this week (and I love those a lot ) !!!
Our Reno!!
I know you are all asking, when!!! Or you are more like me and are casting a sarcastic comment my way whenever the word Renovation, comes up ( I love you sarcastic friends, you are like kinship to me). Well I can't say when cause I give up estimating, I apparently suck at it cause my first estimate was well over a year ago. But, I think we are now close to the end, Jack has about 3 larger projects and 3 smaller projects to do, and then he is going to help me finish up the painting, should be just the basement to paint with sealer paint, and a bit of trim and the stairs left on my list by then. Then wow, I can hardly even type the words WE WILL FINALLY MOVE IN.
I am so looking forward to it, we slept over there one night during the cold snap and could not believe what a difference new windows and good insulation make to a home, we were all finally cozy!!! The boys are totally looking forward to a dishwasher again, they are tired of hand washing. And I am looking forward to a bathroom door that locks (ours both broke) and to kitchen doors that stay shut, and a coat closet, and shoe cubbies, big open front porch, and lots of closet space, and a bathtub that is not about to fall thru. the ceiling, and no holes in the wall, and floors that don't give my children and I slivers and,................................ I could go on and on, what a blessing this has been to us.

Our science text book and the children's representation of the surface of the planet, mercury
My students working hard on their planet illustrations

Our exploding volcano from the planet Venus!!!
Science class at Huizinga Homeschool
This year I decided to try something different and do an all ages inclusive science curriculum and I must say it has been a hit with this mom and her three students. I myself am relearning all sorts of things about the planets I had forgotten and I am learning all sorts of new things too like the "Exploded Planet Hypothesis", very interesting.
Each lesson starts off with review questions, then I read to them about the new days planet, and the book is actually interesting, not boring and full of jargon even their mom couldn't understand. Then we have review questions about the reading, and then we do an experiment, followed by book work that is done according to their age, for instance Courtney being six does an illustration of the planet and an oral report to me that I help her write on her page, while Thomas 12 does a paragraph on the planet.
The series is by "Exploring Creation" and you can find it at each book is under $30 and is full of about a half years worth of work if you did science one morning a week, or a whole year of you do it ever other like we are (they have co-op science with other homeschoolers the other week).
My crew likes it so much I am thinking of doing a summer session of it, and doing a lesson each weekday morning. Summer weather would make it perfect for outside messy experiments!!!

Thomas does the Lobster Dance!!
Courtney had a blast with this PVC pipe, we were at this center for over half an hour.

My favorite, the blown glass exhibit, I see something new every time.

Aiden spends a lot of time each visit at this center playing with the plasitic pieces made to represent the diffrent pieces found in the blown glass sculpture that stands the three stores of the museum.

This picture below is of Courtney being a Mama to her dino eggs!!
The Price of Free!!!
About 2 weeks ago on Martin Luther King day, Jack and I took the kids to the Indianapolis Children's museum, one of their favorite places to spend a day. Jack actually dropped us off first and went off to find the Body Exhibit, in downtown Indianapolis that he really wanted to see while I went into the children's museum with the kids(he met up with us later). Now the great thing about the Indianapolis children museum is that it has free days , three times a year and one afternoon a month it is free as well. Usually free days are busy, but enjoyable, and our morning was, but I must say the afternoon was just chaotic even for this mom, who has a great talent of tuning out high volume children noise.
Still however, I will go back for more free days!! Cause they are bringing in a Lego exhibit, I know all three of my children will love. They all build Lego every day. Courtney of course makes cakes and designs shopping malls (what a girl!!!) while the boys make spaceships and weapons and robots.

Yeah, I know some of you are tired of my CVS adventures, but when I have a day like this I cannot help sharing!!! Thanks to a few suggestions at I was able to take away all this just shortly ago for less than the price of the Bounty paper towel at Wal-mart. I must admit it took me about 4 weeks to get the CVS thing down, but since doing so, we have been able to trim our grocery budget substantially, and even share the fruits of my labour with others. It only takes me 20 minutes of coupon clipping a week and another 10 minutes to look up the deals and perhaps max. of 15 to 20 in the actually store, so for under an hour each week I estimate I save my family well over a$100 a month, and I get the great joy of helping other families as well.