I remember when Gracia was still tiny my Mom telling me to enjoy every stage. She said each stage has its challenges and it’s highlights. It’s so true. Getting up at night (challenge) lots of cuddles (highlight). Getting into things (challenge), hearing little hands and knees following me around the house (highlight). Learning to talk and saying things that embarrass me (challenge) saying hilarious things (highlight).

And then there’s those people that seem to think there’s a certain age that is horrible. They may say “the terrible twos” or, “Wait till they start walking and getting into things,” or probably the most common, “Wait till their teenagers!!!” It gets old hearing all the negativity.

But honest to goodness I love this age! Little Dude is now 5, so we have 2 5 year olds in the house. It’s not always easy and I’m guilty of not always being patient, but I really do like this stage of life.

Little Dude, Gracia, Big Sis and Little Bro

What I love:

  • Seeing their faces as they learn. I never realized how rewarding teaching would be. To see them able to do something they couldn’t before is amazing! To see their little lips tightening and the occasional tongue peeking out as they concentrate with all their might on a coloring paper.

  • I love how we can talk to each other, and they have some very funny things to say. Little Dude has accidentally coined the words “fansome” (combination of fancy and handsome) and lunchaurant (restaurant). When we were talking about tornadoes the other day, he kept calling them tomatoes. :)
  • They’re so creative when they play. I love to hear them talk about being super heroes, or Laura and Pa from Little House on the Prairie. I love to see the creativity in their lego houses, even using shoes as something very vital to the house. To give them a box of basically trash and they transform it into a precious treasure box.

One of Little Dude's many creations!

  • I love their excitement. Whether it’s getting to paint, or a new pair of shoes, they get so excited about little things and it can be contagious.
  • I love to see their love. While they do argue with each other at times, other times their kindness melts my heart, sharing candy, helping each other “team fold” a blanket, building separate lego houses then connecting them together.
  • And you know what else? This is a wonderful age for them to learn about their heavenly Father. They love hearing the Bible stories filled with adventure and excitement. Seeing them understanding that God is all-powerful and beyond human strength is so incredibly amazing. And to hear them say that God will always love them no matter what they do. On the days I lose my patience, the days I complain and whine, I need to remember it’s all about them learning about Him.

Other bonuses of age 5 – Potty trained, sleep through the night, don’t need to be bottle or spoon fed, can pick up toys and buckle-up themselves (except when they decide they can’t).

  • The kids were invited to a superhero birthday party and I maybe, just maybe put off getting a gift until right before the party. I thought about mixing up some play dough, but didn’t have enough cream of tartar, then I remembered cloud dough, which I made once before. Get this, it only requires 2 ingredients, 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part conditioner (yes like the kind you put in your hair, I know it’s weird, but it works). We whipped some up last minute and the kids made some cards. So if you ever procrastinate like me, this recipe  is super quick, no cooking or anything.
  • I’ve been listening to lots of music. God’s truth blaring at me in music challenges and encourages me in so many ways, and I’m so grateful for it! Spotifiy is a great way to listen to all kinds of music for free, I use it almost daily.

 

Pantry in our travel trailer we lived in for 2 years.

 

 

  • Shopped my pantry before making my menu and grocery list. I usually do this mentally, but I find that when I actually go look and see what I have then write it down, I realize that I have more than I thought. Speaking of eating from the pantry, have you read Money Saving Mom’s Eat From the Pantry Post?
  • I get the Shutterfly emails about deals and took advantage of 24 address labels for free (just $3.16 for shipping and handling). However I didn’t put our address on them, but tweaked them so I can use them in as a gift idea.

  • I was at Wal-Mart multiple times this week (I know…that’s not frugal to go to the store multiple times a week). But when there I checked the meat department and found some reduced for quick sale meat! Oh how I love those beautiful yellow stickers!

 

Not so frugal - Drove all the way to town yesterday, then realized I didn’t have my purse with me and had to drive all the way back home and then back to town again….Moral of the story: Loosing your mind can cost you time and money.

What are some things you did this week to spend less money?

Amy 

I pick a theme every week for school and try to do at least one craft that week centered around it. A couple weeks ago we did cactuses…or cacti..or something, we didn’t cover how make “cactus” plural. :)

I was trying to think of what kind of craft to do, then it hit me how perfect toothpicks would be for cactus needles!

I simply cut out a cactus shape, cut the toothpicks in half, then cut out small pieces of tissue paper. The kids glued it together with the toothpicks being the needles and the tissue paper being the flowers.

I’m all about EASY crafts that don’t require a million craft supplies. If you get stuck for inspiration, like me, you can check out my homeschool craft ideas board.

Amy

 

Sometimes I wonder about this blog. I LOVE blogging. I enjoy the main topic of the blog: frugality. It’s all fun to me. But after reading a post about blogging, it got me thinking about my purpose statement. I have a purpose for being frugal* (hence the inspiration for my blog’s name), but what about my purpose for the blog? Sometimes if my blog views start declining, I feel like I have to make a post for the sake of getting more views. Or I have to pin my posts, link my posts, so on and so forth. But is blogging for the sake of getting views really worth my time?

There’s a million and one blogs about frugality out there and new ones being made constantly. I don’t really have anything original or new to offer. Pretty much everything I share you could find somewhere else on the blogosphere.

I don’t really make any money off the blog. The amount I’ve made on Amazon is so miniscule, it doesn’t even cover the hosting.

Is my purpose to form a reputation for myself? Cuz blogging is an easy way to do that, just post all the good stuff and don’t say anything about everything that goes terribly wrong.

Is my purpose just to have an outlet that I enjoy? I really do love it and hate the idea of stopping it.

So what is my purpose? Well…to bring honor and glory to God. (How’s that for broad and general?). Let me flesh it out more.

I want my blog to:

  • Encourage me in things like frugality and my walk with God, which it does. I find that the accountability I have in such a public place motivates me and typing things out really helps me form my thoughts and think things through (like I’m doing right now in this post).
  • Encourage others in frugality and their walks with God. I want to be able to give others practical ideas of how to spend less money, so it can be used on more important things. I also would love to be an advocate for those in need, whether it be kids who need loving families or people who haven’t had the opportunity tto hear about their Creator.

All that being said, I’m deciding to think more about my own post ideas. and ask myself 3 questions:

  1. Am I posting this to brag on myself or form a reputation for myself?
  2. Am I doing this when more important things need to be done? Gulp…this is a hard  one.
  3. Is this something that can benefit others in their walks with God? I believe that even things like how we spend our money and time is a result of our walks with God. So this doesn’t mean it has to be a devotional type post. God cares about every aspect of our lives.

Well…that really helped me think through some things. Do you blog? What’s your blog’s purpose?

* FYI – This really needs to be updated!

 

Amy 

  • Took another box of things to the consignment store. Our last box, plus one thing that was too big for the box, has earned us about $40! I’m sure this one won’t be as much, but I’m still excited to see how much we get. :)
  • I cleaned out my fridge. I feel like this is one of the biggest things that helps me waste less. When I go through the fridge I’m reminded of what still needs to be eaten and often end up freezing some things that I don’t think I’ll finish in time.
  • We bought a new (to us) car! Just $1500 for a Subaru Outback. This may need to be a post in and of itself.
  • About the car, we had to drive a few hours away to get it. That meant supper on the road. I’m always so tempted to just grab some fast food, or even if I do pack a meal, we often still buy some drinks and snacks at gas stations on trips, but I determined not to do that this time! Before heading to the store, I stopped by the consignment store to return a pair of  jeans. I got about $9 in cash back for returning the jeans and I thought it’d be a fun challenge to see if I could buy enough food (in combination with what food I already had at home) to use for our drive that night. Sure enough I was able to spend under $9 and we had wraps, homemade ice-coffee, cereal and raisins for our drive, and the only thing we bought at gas stations was gas! Savings – If we had eaten out and bought some snacks or drinks at a convenience store it could’ve easily totaled $25 and since I only spent $9 out of pocket that’s a savings of $16 (plus it was way healthier).

 

Homemade ice coffee

 

  • We keep a box with pieces of scrap paper for writing notes on or for the kids to color on, but they got all used up. So yesterday I cleaned out my card box and found a few envelopes that the flaps were stuck shut and some other miscellaneous pieces of paper to add to the scrap box. This cuts way back on our notebook purchases.

Your turn!! What are a few things you’ve done to spend less this week? I love hearing what you’ve been up to!

Amy 

I’ve actually been putting off writing a review of this book, not because it’s not good, but the opposite, it’s so good I don’t know what things to say and what to leave out!

Who would I recommend The Safe Child Book* to?

Parents, babysitters, daycare workers, kids ministry workers at churches, teachers, and basically anyone who ever comes in contact with or sees a child….so I guess pretty much everyone.

What are my favorite aspects of The Safe Child Book*?

I love how it teaches you, the adult, how to teach your kids safety. It talks about playing the “what if” game with the kids. They’re way more likely to remember how to respond in situations if they’ve acted it out rather than just been told what to do. It can also be a fun, non-scary way to learn safety. We’ve personally done lots of versions of the “what if” game with the kids, like:

  • Pretending a friend was asking them to jump on the bed and not let any adults know.
  • We acted out if a stranger comes to the house asking to use the phone or wanting them to open the door.
  • We’ve acted out someone (even someone they know) picking them up, saying that I had told them to get a ride with them (which I explained in real life if that were to ever happen I would PERSONALLY let the kids know, not send a message through someone else).
  • We’ve acted out them being tickled and not wanting to be tickled any more and asking the grownup to stop.

The book explains how kids need to not just say “no”, but if it continues they are allowed to say they’ll tell and even push the grown up away if necessary.

Does it really work?

Actually something came up recently with one of the kids, nothing serious, but it helped me see an area I needed to work on with them. The first time it happened they did not handle it the way we had done in the “what if” game, so I reviewed with them. It came up again a second time and when they told me about it, they said they had handled it just like our pretend scenario.

Some Statistics

The book quoted some hard to swallow stats that should motivate us as adults to take action in keeping kids safe:

  • 85-90% of sexual abuse happens with a person known to the child.
  • Approximately one-third of sexual abuse cases involve children six years of age or younger. (All the kids we’ve had in our home, birth and foster have been under 6, so this really stood out to me).
  • Ninety-five  percent of child abusers were themselves abused as children.

In Conclusion

The Safe Child Book* includes information on how to help your child be a difficult target, abusers often look for easy targets. It talks about how we as adults need to always be talking with kids to see  how their days have gone, that might give us clues if something is going on that shouldn’t be. One of the best preventions is teaching our kids to protect themselves and giving them the authority to even tell a grown up “no” and to help them feel comfortable with talking about anything to us without the fear of getting in trouble if they tell on an adult or another child.

Have any of you read this book before? What did (or didn’t) you like about it?

 

You may also be interested in The Swimsuit Lesson.

*Amazon affiliate links.


Amy

 

Then check out our other blog.

I meant to make this post Friday, but didn’t get around to it, sorry it’s a little late.

You know what I like about these kinds of posts? As I think of what things I’ll choose to share about, it reminds me that spending less money is not always something big and huge, but those little things we do day-in and day-out really do matter.

Cameron and I are opposites when it comes to money saving strategies. I thrive on the little things, like finding coins or cutting our meat with beans. But he’s the one who finds ways to save big, like living in a travel trailer, or spending lots of time researching cars before we buy one. But in the end both of our methods save. His saves big chunks of money every now and then, and my ways save just little bits, but it’s on a regular daily basis.

So if you’re feeling discouraged in your money saving goals, remember those little things you do, really can make a difference, and it’s really encouraging to write a few of them out, just as a reminder to yourself. And I love it when you share them here too, it makes my day and might give me some good ideas!

  • This brown dress was in perfect condition other than a button loop needing to be reattached, so after a quick fix, it’s perfectly wearable.
  • Speaking of sewing, Gracia got a hole in the seam of the other dress pictured above. She’s gotten her fair share of wear out of this dress, but I figured she could get just a little more use out of it, so I stitched it up.

  • I got a Shutterfly book finished today, just in time to use the coupon code for a free book!! Woo-hoo! They usually cost about $30, but I just had to pay for shipping and taxes.
  • We spent lots of time outdoors. The kids love playing outside with friends and what can I say… it’s FREE!
  • Oh, and even though I’m usually the one saving money in little areas, I think I’m wearing off on Cameron. The other day I noticed he had watered down his almost empty bottle of soap. :)

What have you done this week to save a buck or two?
Joy Focused Learning – See more at: http://www.joyfocusedlearning.com/search/label/Anything%20goes#sthash.PEKprUs5.dpuf

Amy

I’ve been told by a reader or two that they can’t do all of the things I mention on the blog to save money because of location or other factors. As I think of moving overseas in 10 months, I know that many of the things I do now, I won’t be able to do then, like get freebies in the mail, price-match, use coupons (although I rarely do anyways), and some of the foods that are cheap here might not be cheap there. While a lot of thrifty tips can only work for some, there are still underlying principles to frugal living that can apply no matter where you are or what your situation is.

Use Less

Whether it’s cutting back on the amount of shampoo you use, eating the right portions of foods, watering down your soap, or learning to use less water, simply using less can decrease your budget.

Use it All

I’m really trying to work on this area, particularly in food. Getting food eaten up before it goes bad…I know it’s a first world problem if I ever saw one. But also using up other things like all the soap and shampoo in the bottle, cuz after all there’s more in there than we realize.

Be Creative With What You Have

This can be done in a million and one ways. Maybe it’s making a wooden seat for an old tricycle that was available for free, or substituting sour cream for yogurt in a recipe, or who knows what. I’ve found that creating something using what I have is actually rather satisfying…extremely satisfying in fact! And it makes for more variety in life. The more experience I get in cooking with leftovers, the more my recipes change depending on what needs to get used up. And as you make things using what you have, you end up with stuff that’s unique.


Just Say No

We don’t have to buy everything in our path, sometimes the best way to save money isn’t to find the best price or come up with a cheaper alternative, sometimes it’s just to live without it. While this can sometimes feel the like a harder or less fun option, it’s often the simplest.

Be Content

And it all boils down to the heart…if we’re discontent and we’re trying to find happiness in earthly stuff, then we’re gonna feel like we’re cheating ourselves if we don’t buy everything that tempts us. I think if we (including myself) could get control over this one thing many of our spending problems would be fixed.

Amy 
Joy Focused Learning – See more at: http://www.joyfocusedlearning.com/search/label/Anything%20goes#sthash.PEKprUs5.dpuf

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a grocery/menu post. My grocery shopping was minimal this week. We have plenty of hamburger meat in the freezer so I didn’t need to buy any protein other than a bag of lentils, and we have a variety of things in the pantry. Plus a couple of the things on my list to buy were actually donated to our school making my grocery list even smaller.

I spent about $40 on food. I price matched a 3 lb. bag of onions for 79 cents, 2 8 oz. boxes of mushrooms for 99 cents/each, and 3 16 oz. bags of baby carrots for 69 cents/each.

Here’s our menu plan, which I’m sure I won’t follow exactly, cuz I never do:

Breakfasts: breakfast rice, oatmeal, eggs, toast, smoothies, breakfast burritos

Lunches: leftovers, burritos, quesadillas and sandwiches

Suppers:

Linked at Organized Junkie.

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