Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Prayer for Colic

For the first 3 months of Brielle's life I was exhausted. Brielle fought sleep, by simply not sleeping at all. It was a miracle when I finally did get her to sleep and I would sing prayers of thanksgiving. Once 10 PM hit, she was up and crying. I doubt I spent those first few months of her life sleeping next to my husband at all. Most of my sleeping was during her day time naps. She would seriously scream from 10 until early, early the next morning. The worst night was at Grandma's house where she screamed all night long, from 10 to 5 am.

When we relayed these details to our doctor she very pointedly exclaimed, "It sounds like she has a mild case of colic." Mild?! You call screaming all hours of the night mild?! I probably looked at her from dark ringed eyes and a scraggly hair do. I doubt my clothes even matched. I was running on nothing. I think back to those days as some of the most sleep deprived days of my life (not counting Greek week as a college freshman). I mean I was recovering from 2 surgery's, major iron deficiency and my doctor told me that the best recovery therapy was rest.

Haha. With a colicky newborn?!

So this morning when I read, "Prayer for Colic" out of my "Mommy Prayers" book by Tracy Mayor, I could totally relate.

Dear God, Have I offended you? I know I can be smug, what with my great husband, delightful toddler, and happy second pregnancy. Did I get too complacent or ungrateful? Because my new baby has colic, Lord, and at times it's so awful that if feels like nothing but a punishment from a vengeful God. Look at how my child is suffering! In a single day our happy, sleepy newborn turned into a howling, red-faced monster, and no matter what we try, we can't get him back. They say he's not in pain, God, but I'm not a fool. I can see with my eyes and feel with my heart that he's hurting. He's writhing and gasping and emitting that unmistakably ear-splitting colic cry for hours and hours on end. His big sister is angry and clingy and teary, and why shouldn't she be when there's not a moment of peace in the house from three in the afternoon till midnight, every single night? We've been to the pediatrician more times than I can count, and to every specialist in town. We've tried every feeding, holding, sleeping, and soothing trick in the book. I am clinging to the hope that this colic will very shortly end the same way it began - suddenly and without warning. Until then, Lord, please send us the strength and patience to somehow survive through these minutes and hours and days and weeks. You're our only hope, Lord. Thanks.

I think, had I read this 3 months ago, I would've cried. Now, I giggle as I relate to the feeling of desperation. I would have gratefully repeated the last line in bold, please give us strength and patience to survive! I laugh as I think of how I felt towards other mom's with newborns, holding their sleeping, not crying, baby and think, "Why can't my baby be like that?!" I don't ever remember my child sleeping peacefully in my arms, in her car seat, crib, swing, bouncy chair.... In fact, one night at Bible study a mom of three yelled over my screaming child, "Don't worry! Your next baby will be different, not all babies are like this!"

WHO SAID ANYTHING ABOUT ANOTHER BABY?!

I mean my first experience with giving birth was an emergency experience, 10 days later I almost died from postpartum hemorrhaging, and while I was supposed to be recovering from both of these experiences I'm a sleep deprived, sickly, weak mommy of a colicky newborn. Having more children was not on any thought spectrum of either my husband or myself.

If you're reading this, while experiencing a newborn with colic, do not worry. It does end as suddenly as it began. The moment you try one thing and it works that one time, the next time it won't. But do not lose heart, you will get through this! You will be a more patient, loving parent because of it and you will be able to look back at this portion of your life as a refining fire, where your only hope was literally in the Lord and his strength!

In the mean time, I'm praying for you and all sleep deprived mommy's out there, trying to recover from labor and delivery, that you find rest in God and love the little blessing He entrusted to you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

15-22 Weeks & Yup, MORE Firsts!

I cannot believe that my bean is already 5 months old! There is so much about this age that I absolutely love. She's becoming more animated during play time. She's giggling at things that she finds funny, like the puppies and sneezes. She's desperately trying to move, move, move! She's recognizing and thriving with her bedtime routine, which I honestly believe is her favorite time of the day because she gets to eat cereal, play in the bath, listen to daddy read a story, and rock with mommy. What's not to love? ;)

At 15-19 weeks Brielle...
  • ... began to show signs of separation anxiety. You might think I'm crazy, but the moment she even looked at someone else she'd burst into tears. If someone else held her, everyone knew she was upset about that. Big honkin' tears would stream down her face and it would take forever to convince her that everything was okay. As long as mommy or daddy held her, life was good. Going to the nursery at church without mom or dad was a bad idea. Someone else telling her how cute she was at the library during story hour didn't go so well. If someone else wanted to hold her at a basketball game, um, I had to decline. Life suddenly revolved very much around mommy and daddy, and mommy and daddy only.
  • ... rolled from her back to her tummy! She was officially on the move!
  • ... enjoys sitting in her high chair. She sits in it to play and eat.
  • ... followed intently along as books were read to her. It's pretty incredible. We noticed that she loved following along to the book "Crazy Farm" that's on my iPhone. If she's upset we put that book on for her to watch and she's instantly excited and all smiley (and I'm not exaggerating)! Still, after a bit she's ready to squirm on to the next thing.
  • ... tried cereal for the first time. She loved it and begged for more!
  • ... played at the park. She seemed to enjoy the swing and the slide!

Notice how Marley, our other baby, thought he HAD to join us... :)
At 20-22 weeks Brielle...
  • ... created new and fun sounds like, mmmmmmm and b-b-b-b (that also required bubbles and spit to produce effectively).
  • ... insists on standing, sitting, rolling. She does NOT want to be still!
  • She was facing the other direction under her activity "jungle gym" thing. She rolled and scooted herself closer to her toy basket!
  • ... laughs at mommy or daddy signing along to music. Apparently we have funny voices.
  • ... also laughs at the puppies. More so than at mommy and daddy. She watches her puppies like a hawk, they're so interesting!
  • ... found her feet in the bathtub and is now beginning to pull her socks off.
  • ... received a Valentine from daddy. It was so sweet and she loves her toy.
  • ... uses her hands to scoot... backwards!
  • ... copies daddy when he spits at her, greeeeeeeat!
All in all we have a very animated baby. When she's excited she bounces, when she's frustrated she clamps her fists and straightens her arms, when she talks, her arms are in motion and the spit is flying. I am so blessed to be her mommy! Thank you God for this wonderful, healthy, beautiful baby girl! (By the way, just LOOK at that round belly! It gets a lot of raspberries! :)

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Spicey Valentine!

My husband is a health nut. He's not overly crazy about sweets or junk food (the complete opposite of his wife!) and he eats all... the... time! His crossfit workouts are intense, and keeps his metabolism working very, very well. Finding healthy snacks has been good for both of us and has become a challenge I'm willing to take on, this one was (thankfully) not a flop.

Food is most definitely the way to this man's heart. So part of his Valentine was an edible treat. This is what I came up with and he seems to like them. He told me that I should definitely make these again, but "they should be spicey-ER!" Okey, dokey, note for next time: more Sriracha and Hot Pepper Flakes it is!

Spicey Almonds

Ingredients:
  • 2 Cups of Natural Almonds
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Curry Powder
  • Paprika
  • Hot Pepper Flakes
  • Sriracha Hot Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of Butter
Directions:
  1. Set a pan on medium heat. Pour the almonds (and NOTHING else) in the pan and let them heat up. Once warm, begin the timer for 6-8 minutes depending on how well roasted you like them. Stir occasionally.
  2. Once the almonds are roasted set them aside.
  3. Turn the heat to low.
  4. In the same pan, (I made the mistake of not letting the pan cool a tad before doing this, I strongly suggest you do or you will get spattered!) melt the butter and sriracha, I put in enough sriracha to cover the bottom of the pan. (It will seriously take seconds.)
  5. Pour the almonds in with the butter and sriracha.
  6. Sprinkle the almonds in garlic powder, onion powder, curry, paprika, and hot pepper flakes. This is to taste, which is why I gave no specific measurements.
  7. Stir until the almonds are well coated.
  8. Once coated spread the almonds on wax paper to cool.
Eat and enjoy!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

"How Tweet It Is" Baby Shower

I recently took over the task of throwing baby showers for all the expecting mothers in our church. I enjoyed throwing the first shower so much that I can't wait to begin working on the next one (Yes, our church is overflowing with BABIES and we LOVE it.)

I asked Laura, the mommy, to give me an idea of what little Reese's nursery looked like, and when she sent me a picture I immediately hit Pinterest to find ideas for her pink and green birdie theme. The IDEAS! There were so many of them and they were all so stinkin' cute!

Theme: "How Tweet It Is"

Color Scheme: Pink and Green

Theme Verse: Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

Food: Strawberry Cake Mix Cookies, Kiwi, Strawberries, Green Apples, Grapes, Guacamole Dip and Chips 

Beverage: Pink Lemonade 

Activities:
  • I read a story to Reese called, "The Story of Blue Wings" which was in a collection of short stories and poems by Ada M. Skinner and Eleanor L. Skinner. If you run across this book, "A Very Little Child's Book of Stories" get it. This was my favorite part of the baby shower. Perhaps that's the nerd in me, but it's such a cute, cute story of a little girl who mends a blue birds wing until he is able to fly away on his own, even though she has to let him go, they'll be forever friends.
  • Tweet Little Messages for Reese 
  • This cute little keepsake book was where the guests signed in and where the gifts were written down. In it there was a section for these little "tweets" where the guests wrote pieces of advice or well wishes and glued it in the book for Reese to read someday.
  • Late Night Tweets for Mommy
  • Each mom can totally relate to late night diaper changes and feeding - they're exhausting. How much better would it be if we had little messages on the diapers to make the experience just a little bit more enjoyable? That's what we did for mommy. We wrote little "tweets" on these late night diapers. Some of them were pretty creative and funny, like "Surprise inside!" or "This one's for Daddy!" Everyone had a lot of fun with this activity and wanted to write on more than one diaper!
  • Devotional: Our pastor's wife used the theme verse (Matthew 6:26) to talk about how Jesus taught us not to worry, because he has promised to take care of those whom He loves. I mean, look at the birds? He takes care of them, so He will take care of you too little Reese, and don't ever forget that! Lean on Him. Trust in Him. And you will find peace and hope.
  • "A Little Birdie Told Me" and other Idioms Game
    • I read these idioms out loud and the guests were to guess the meaning of each. The one who got the most was the winner! At first it was a silent game, but after awhile they had fun discussing the possible meaning and laughing at all the possibilities.
      • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (having something that is certain is better than taking a risk)
      • Mums the word (to keep quiet or say nothing)
      • Put the cat among the pigeons (to cause trouble)
      • Bird brain (stupid)
      • Feather in one's cap (Something to be proud of)
      • For the birds (not interesting, worthless)
      • In fine feather (good humor)
      • Lovely weather for the ducks (rainy)
      • dead duck (someone in a hopeless situation)
      • What's good for the goose is good for the gander (what's good for one person should be good for someone else)
Prizes:
  • I was surprised how many pink and green goodies Dollar General had! First of all the bags were an easy snag. They were $1 each with pink and green tissue paper. I grabbed pink aloe socks with pink and green nail polish as one prize, a pink Glade candle that smelled heavenly, individual pink lemonade packets with a pink cup and straw, and little pink buckets filled with Andes Chocolate Green mints.
  • "The Early Bird Catches the Worm" (The first person to arrive, got the first prize.)
  • The winner of the Idiom game also won a prize.
  • Lastly, under a few chairs there was a bird that said, "A Tweet For You!" Whoever was so lucky as to sit on one of those chairs also received a prize.
Decorations:
The Prizes with a feather wreath to hang in her nursery.
I had so much fun putting this together (okay, minus the time I was cursing the feather boa and hot glue gun) but the bird and the little flowers were so much fun and I LOVE how it turned out.
Above the fireplace I hung a clothesline filled with pink and green clothing, a birdie bib, and cute little socks. Birds were also hanging out on the clothes line... here's a close up of each of them that I cut out of felt, decorated and hot glued a clothes pin on the back...




Here are the centerpieces for the tables. It was so easy to find a stick, glue on a nest that I found at Hobby Lobby (2 for $3) and set my little birdies around it.

Close up of the table birdies that I made out of scrapbook paper and wire that I bent into "heart feet!"
Food Table...

I painted polka dots on the eggs, and didn't update my close up picture for some reason. :-/ It took me FOREVER to come up with a design that I actually liked for this frame. I created something, destroyed it, started over at least 3 times!

This frame has the theme verse on it, Matthew 6:26.

This frame was created to place a picture of Reese inside, after all, she is a tweety pie!

The sign says, "watch me grow" and was also created for a picture. I ordered the little bird house off of Amazon from a company called Miniature Gardening for $1.59! 
Invite: (There was only one person Laura needed an invite sent to that didn't go to our church, that was easy peasy! So I simply created one with the materials I already had!)

All in all it was a great time! I had fun putting it all together. I used Saturday afternoons when my hubby could take Brielle to work on it and used many nap times, and a few play times here and there on the off chance she was satisfied playing by herself. Thankfully, it was a no stress experience. I had a blast on the day it finally came together because it seemed like Laura, who this was all about in the first place, was enjoying herself. Hopefully, she liked everything and walked away with a smile.

I have to say it was all pretty "tweet" just like Laura's little Reese.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love


Happy Valentine's Day!

This morning I woke up to two Valentine's on the kitchen table. One for me. One for my daughter. Both from my wonderful husband. My husband also wrote as a P.S. on his little love note that I should answer the door to whoever so kindly knocks on it. Hmmmm... so excited to see what I'm getting!

So this morning I woke up feeling the love. I felt compelled, since today is a day we recognize as a day of love, to share how to love God, and how to show love to others. The Bible has A LOT to say about love. In fact, when I looked the word up in my Bible's concordance there's too many verses with the reference to the word love, loved, lovely, lover, lovers, loves, and loving to even want to count!

Some of the most popular verses in history revolve around the word love,
"For God so  loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
or in 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 where Paul defines what love is...
"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."
And verse 13,
"So now faith, hope and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
Still, my question about "how do I show God that I love Him above all else, on a daily basis?" rings through my brain. What does God expect from me as a Christian in showing love to others?

How I Show God how much I love Him!
Every day I evaluate my heart. Is God #1? Do I put others or things above him? What is the first thing I think about when I get out of bed? What is the first thing I do when I get up in the morning? Do I consult Him first with my problems or do I go to my family and friends? Do I talk to Him as much as I talk to my family and friends? When I go back and answer those questions it goes something like this:
  • Do I put others or things above Him? Ummm.... well crap. There are days when I tell my husband I love him more than God. I even tell my daughter I love her more than God. There are days when my focus revolves around my home and the things in it.
  • What is the first thing I think about when I get out of bed? Ummm... well crap. Today I laid in bed and used my iPhone to cruise through Hobby Lobby's purple items to prepare for a "Pretty in Purple" baby shower I'm hosting. Not that that's a bad thing, but should it be my first thing?
  • What is the first thing I do when I get up in the morning? Ummm... well crap. I try to get my lazy butt out of bed every morning before my daughter so that I can drink coffee, eat breakfast and spend time in His Word, but that doesn't always happen because I choose to sleep instead.
  • Do I consult Him first with my problems? Ummm... well crap. Usually I call my sisters, or my mom, and my dad (depending on the problem) and when Kyle comes home I unload. In all of that time do I sit down and pray about it first? Nope, not usually. Does that show faith in a God who has promised to take care of those who love him? Nope. Dang. It.
  • Do I talk to Him as much as I talk to my family and friends? Ummm... well crap. My sisters and I try to FaceTime every day. Girls always have something to talk about. I don't talk to God as often as I do my sisters.
  • Lastly, I ask myself a question my pastor asked us once and has been forever ingrained in my brain: "Given the choice between heaven and hell, everyone would choose heaven. Given the choice between heaven and earth, which would you choose?" Are my priorities for things of this earth, that I can't take with me? That will eventually be destroyed by moth or flame? Or are my priorities for the things of heaven? Where are my treasures? Jesus said... 
    "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and dust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21
    Am I focusing more on the things of this earth than on the glory of my God and Savior? That's my purpose here on earth, right? To give HIM glory? That's what He wants right? We are going to heaven to bask in HIS glory, every day! Am I keeping my eyes upwards, looking to those things? Or am I dwelling on my house, my husband, my child, more than HIM? When I find myself doing that (which is often) I picture myself walking with Him, holding His hand, talking, going for a horse ride, singing to Him, learning about HIM, drinking a glass of wine with Him. And when I do that, I CAN'T WAIT to get to heaven and live out eternity glorifying Him - being with Him! God calls this life a vapor, a mist, because it flies by, 150 years from now, am I going to look back and care about the things of this earth? Nope. Cause I'll be dead and the things of this earth will be left behind.
So even while I'm alive on this earth, keeping my focus on God and His instructions, praying to Him, worshiping Him through Psalms, through prayer, through music, telling Him that I love Him, filling my home with items to glorify HIM, telling my daughter about this wonderful God that loves her so much and not fearing tomorrow because of the hope that I have in HIM, is exactly how I show God how much I love Him.

By the way, do you know how often I give myself this evaluation? Daily.
Do you want to know how often I screw up? Daily.

How do I show love to others?
Everyone produces fruit. No, I'm not talking about apples, oranges, or bananas, I'm talking about how the state of our heart produces good works and good words. Our actions and the things that we say are a direct reflection of our heart. If our heart is focused on God's Word we produce good fruit. Paul wrote about the "marks of a good christian" in Romans 12:9-21, if you are truly a follower of Christ, you should...
"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."
And that's only part of it, but since this is about love, I'll focus on this one particular section. I like the Contemporary English Version of verse 10, "Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself." Honor others more than you do yourself. America teaches the exact opposite. Do what makes you happy. Do what's best for you. The Bible teaches us to value others more than yourself. Am I producing that kind of fruit? Nope. I'm a pretty selfish person. That confession is pretty sickening. The mark of a true Christian is selflessness, genuine selflessness. OUTDO others in your selfless service to your brothers and sisters.

How do I do that?
Well, read on... (Romans chapter 12, 13, 14, and 15)
  • Contribute to the needs of others.
  • Show hospitality.
  • Bless those who persectue you, do not curse them.
  • Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
  • Live in harmony with one another.
  • Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
  • Never be wise in your own sight.
  • Repay no one evil for evil.
  • Live peaceably with all.
  • Never avenge yourself, but leave it to the wrath of God.
  • If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
  • If your enemy is thirsty, give him something to drink.
  • Let every person be subject to the government. "For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." (Romans 13:1)
  • Submit to authority. (Your boss, your husband, your principal, TO GOD)
  • "Owe no one anything, except to love each other." (Romans 13:8)
  • Do not commit adultry.
  • Do not murder.
  • Do not steal.
  • Do not covet.
  • "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Romans 13:9)
  • No orgies. (Yes it actually says orgies.)
  • Do not walk in drunkeness.
  • Or sexuall immorality.
  • Do not quarrel.
  • Do not be jealous.
  • Do not pass judgement on one another. (Do not judge, there is only one judge.)
  • Do not cause another to stumble.
  • Bear with the failings of the weak, do not please yourself. (Romans 15:1)
  • Build up your neighbor.
  • Live in harmony with one another so together, with one voice, you may glorify Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
  • Be like Christ. Christ came to earth to be a servant. To serve others!
God is so many things and He says over and over again that He is Love. God is Love. He loves His people more than we could possibly understand. If Jesus Christ died on the cross, enduring that torture and pain, and most importantly taking on the wrath of God by becoming sin on our behalf, all because HE LOVES US, shouldn't I continue to live my life according to the love he has so generously poured out on us? God, please help me to do that! You are love, you understand love, you created love! Help me to show love to others as you show love to us. I love you, Lord! With all my heart, mind, and soul, I love you, and you alone.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Am I a Frugal Mommy?

I hate that word - frugal. Mostly because that means I have to deal with money, and I hate money. But it also means that I have to do the things I dislike most:
  • Less Shopping
  • Pinching Pennies
  • MATH (YUCK!)
When we were on two incomes, spending money on two adults and two dogs, frugality wasn't a HUGE priority for us. No, we didn't go and spend, spend, spend, but it wasn't a huge deal if I decided to go shopping at Hobby Lobby or Old Navy occasionally. Now that we're down to one budget, with doctor bills, two dogs, a baby, two adults with ginormous appetites (one with a high metabolism and the other breast feeding - you guess which belongs to who - haha), and the normal bills of living in our own home and two college graduates, we HAVE to watch what we spend.

When we decided I would be a stay-at-home mommy, I did a little bit of research and talked to other stay-at-home mom's and made a list of ways where I'd save more money: 12 Ways I Plan to be a Frugal Mommy. Well now that I've been doing these things for 4 months I wanted to go back and see if these things are actually making a difference. Here's what I found:
  1. Buy Papertowels vs. disinfectant wipes. (Not both) Well this was a major duh. Still, I'm finding that a pack of papertowels are expensive! I need to cut back on how many I use throughout the day and use more rags.
  2. Make my own bread.
    • I buy about 5 lbs of flour every 2 months which = approx. $3.50
    • I bought 16 oz of Saf-Instant Yeast which costs approx. $4.00. To make 2 loaves of bread requires 2 Tbsp of yeast, and I make about 2 loaves per week and a half (yes, we eat a lot of bread). 16 oz = almost 32 Tbsp, so this will last me a little over 2 months.
    • I buy 1 Gallon of vinegar, which is about $4.00. I use 1 Tbsp for every 2 loaves. 1 Gallon = 252 (ish) Tbsp. I also use this for cleaning, so I'll say I buy a gallon every 6 months.
    • I use a Tbsp of salt per 2 loaves of bread. 26 oz of salt = approx. 51 Tbsp. (and I use salt in other items as well) so one thing of salt could last me 2-4 months at least.
    • I also use a thing of butter every month (not just for bread) but I brush the top of the bread with it right after it comes out of the oven and I also coat the bread pans in it instead of using non-stick spray. One box of butter costs about $3 every month.
    • Overall I make about 4 loaves of bread every month. If I were to buy 4 loaves of bread at Wal-Mart, for example, I'd be spending nearly $10 every month. When I bought all the items I needed to make my easy, peasy bread recipe I spent approx. $16. Only 2 items I buy every month: flour and butter, which = approx. $6 (and I'd be buying those two items anyway because I use them for gobs of other stuff!)

      After all that nonsense, what's the overall conclusion?
    • Is it cheaper to make my own bread? YES!
    • Is it worth it? Um, have you ever had fresh bread? I'd say YES, YES, YES.
    • Plus when I look at the ingredient list of my homemade bread vs. the stuff I buy at the store, well, let's add another YES, YES, YES to that! What I make at home is ten times better for me than what I buy at the store.
    • So I'll continue to make my own bread. :)
  3. Ride my bike or walk. Well this has been helpful to me in more ways than I can count. Health wise - it's worth it. Gas prices are outrageous and even driving around town is expensive - so worth it. When it's cold - we bundle up. PLUS, we decided that we can survive on one vehicle, which means our insurance costs every month went down significantly. AND we sold my bug (which I'm a little sad about, sniff, sniff) but that's extra cash that we desperately needed.
    • Overall conclusion? This will continue. :)
  4. Buy in Bulk. Kyle is much better than I am at comparing prices, and what he has discovered is that the more bulk-y-er the item (hehe) the cheaper it typically is and the longer it lasts. What I've found most helpful in this area is: plan, plan, plan. I try to plan my meals 3-4 weeks at a time. It cuts down on what we buy and how often we drive to get it. Savings all around.
    • PLUS, my sister has recently discovered that it is cheaper to buy products through Wal-Mart online and have them shipped to you! If you spend $45 it's free shipping. They'll ship items such as toilet paper, toothpaste, deoderant, etc. etc. These are products you're going to buy anyway. If you don't live next to a Wal-Mart and have to spend the gas money to retrieve these items - well, it's cheaper to do it this way AND it saves you the hassle of dragging a child around a store that's usually a mad house! Um, well, well, well, worth it!
  5. Freeze our Milk. We discovered that buying milk in our small town grocery store is twice as much as buying it at a King Soopers or Wal-Mart, for example. When we go to the store to stock up we buy 2-4 gallons at a time, saving us tons. So this we will continue to do as well.
  6. No Boxed Cereal. First of all, yes, another duh, this is way cheaper and way better for you. Now that I've cut this from my diet I no longer want it. It's amazing how that happens! Instead I eat Malt-o-Meal or oatmeal, a piece of fruit, toast, or eggs. It's way better for me and way more fulfilling. Plus, I ocassionally make my own granola and it's super yummy as well!
  7. Make my own snacks. I buy almonds (which are kinda expensive) and fruit and vege's that are easy to snack on instead of chips, crackers, or cookies. If I do want cookies, for example, I make my own. I'm not even going to compare prices here, because, quite frankly, we don't have junk food in our house. It's all homemade or out of a garden. I'm not going to buy the processed crap. I feel so much better about our health when we stay out of those isles! So this is going to continue whether or not it's cheaper.
  8. Make my own baby food. The time is quickly approaching where my baby girl will be eating pureed fruits and vegetables! (WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?) I will make my own baby food no matter what. I looked at the ingredient list of some baby food out there and YIKES. I wanted to give her some apple sauce, for example, and the second ingredient was high fructose corn syrup. Nope. Won't be feeding her that. I'll take the time to make her food and KNOW what she's eating. Right now I'll be breast feeding her, slowly weening her until she's a year old (that's my goal). I can't even begin to tell you the savings and the overall benefits of doing this! It's better for HER and easier on our wallet. I pump every morning and freeze breast milk to use in her cereal. I want to have enough stashed up as time goes on so this can continue. Considering the cost of formula and individual baby food jars - this is so WORTH it and then some.
  9. Around the house use cloth diapers and rubber pants. Most people ask me, quite honestly, if this really saves money when you think of the immediate costs. Well, when I published my first blog about being a frugal mom, many, many mommies I know and trust offered hand-me-down rubber pants and well cleaned diapers. I was thrilled. Plus I registered for the items I needed. When people would ask me what I most needed I told them what I was doing and why, and asked for cloth diapers, cloth diapers, cloth diapers. The only thing I had to buy was a set of rubber pants in the 3-6 month range and diaper pins. Those are pretty cheap. I spent approx. $12 to get started (no kidding). The cloth diapers are foldable and can fit any size if you fold them to fit your child, so they'll last FOREVER. The "rubber pants" are kind of expensive at first costing about $1 per pant, but the savings is signficant. I buy about 9 at a time and that'll last me about 2 days (I use disposable at night because they hold more) I wash, hang dry, and re-use. So every 3 months I spend about $12. I have yet to spend anything on disposable diapers. I received size 1-3 diapers as gifts. I can guarantee you'll save by doing this. It's soooooo worth it if you're a stay at home mom.  
  10. Grow a Garden. I LOVE the outdoors. I LOVE being in the sun. But I do not have what you would call a green thumb. :-/ I killed a bamboo plant. Poor thing. So I'm learning all there is to learn about growing herbs indoors, what to plant and when and where, as well as composting. There's a lot to this thing. But I can tell you right now that I've enjoyed it all and can't wait for spring! Hehe. I know that growing corn, peas, green pepper, onion, potatoes, all the things we buy each month, will save us so much money! Plus I'll have the satisfaction of knowing I grew it - effectively! I just hope I can say that come harvesting time! Eeeeeeek! Wish me luck!
  11. Be a coupon-er! I'll be honest, I haven't been very good at this one. In fact, I'm terrible. I'll find a coupon, forget it, plan to use it next time, then find out it expired. Grrrrr... I know this will save us money, but I've GOT TO GET MYSELF ORGANIZED if I want to be effective on this one.
  12. No more zip-lock bags. Holy cow has this one ever been true. I have bought one box, one, in the last 4 months. I wash and re-use what I already have. I use the storage containers we already have (and we have a ton of 'em). It costs $3-$8 (depending on size and brand) per box of zip lock bags. Why spend that money? In the past I would've bought two bags (freezer size and sandwich size) spending almost $10 just in plastic bags! Then throw them away! First of all, that's not very environmentally friendly. Secondly, that's just plain wasteful and lazy. Save the earth! Save your wallet! Use storage containers!
The other ways that I've saved $$$ is...
  • Hang dry your laundry. I love, love, love the smell and feel of clothes fresh out of the dryer. But dog-gone-it our utility bill every month is crazy. I've got to cut down.
  • Open the blinds and use the light outside instead of flipping the light switch.
  • Turn things off and unplug when not in use.
  • Do not waste food. Lunch meals and Sunday meals are left overs. 'Nuff said.
  • Turn your heat down, layer up.
  • Make my own cleaning products, everything from laundry soap, to carpet cleaner, to windex can be homemade. I stock up on bleach, vinegar, lemon, baking soda, and borax. It's cheaper, better for you, versatile, and lasts much, much longer.
All these things seem like "penny pincher" ideas, but when you add it all up,  you're saving hundreds each year. You won't see the cost effectiveness right away, but doing small things, makes a big difference not only on your wallet, but on the environment, and your health. IT'S WORTH THE EXTRA WORK.