Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another look at Coupon Krazy


Today we had an interesting comment thrown our way during our shopping trip to Walgreens.  The ladies behind us were awed at my total bill as it went from owing over $25.00 down to only owing $1.28 after all of my coupons and register rewards.  Then one of the ladies chimed in that we were one of those "freaky couponers."


As I bit my tongue and smiled back at them, I realized that there was nothing wrong with using coupons and I was saving money for my family and wisely using the gifts from God given to our family.


As we got in the car to go home and we were talking about her comment, Anne said, "Mom, we should have offered to re-shop her purchase through the store with our coupons."    That's when it finally made sense - instead of getting irritated with those who think couponing is "freaky" or "out of the norm" - we could be helping them.  

Perhaps, somehow God will give us an outlet to be able to use our new talent to help others out so that we may "Bloom where we are planted." 

So, while we are NOT buying 72 bottles of mustard, we are saving large amounts of money and the greatest gift of all is  . . . .  the bonding that my girls and I are sharing on Friday evenings as we witness to those around us with our cheerful spirits and humble presence.  Our favorite register checkout lady is Ms. Deb at Rite Aid - she has such a sweet countenance about her and we always leave with a huge smile on our faces. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Life and goals. . .


Life just seems to keep on ticking by, even if I want it to slow down.  My days with two rambunctious toddlers and three older ones are always full of excitement.  One never knows what fun things they will get into next.  Georgie is a bundle of energy from morning until night, only briefly falling asleep in the afternoon for a couple of hours, giving us the much needed time to work through our afternoon school subjects.  He is so sweet though, and if you can corner him for a small amount of time, he will snuggle up on the sofa with one of his favorite truck books - this week's find at the library- two favorites by Peter Sis, Trucks, trucks, trucks and Dinosaur!

Dinosaur!Trucks Trucks Trucks Board Book


We are coming the end of our school year, winding down with the last few weeks of formal studies which leads us into summer and the unschooling fun that comes with just allowing children to learn on their own while they experience life.  It got me thinking about some goals that I want to accomplish this summer.   The plans of the heart are always good to have, even if the execution doesn't always transpire the way that we want it to.

Here are some goals I'd like to accomplish over the summer months:

1.     Memorize Scripture:  Each year, as a congregation, our church reads through the entire Bible, and I am sorry to admit that I have never read the Bible, cover to cover - I must humbly admit this - but my love of scripture is growing by leaps and bounds. . . I want to know the totality of scripture and be able to apply it at a moments notice.  I feel so compelled to complete this, not only for myself, but for my husband, for my family, and for my children.   So, while I am reading through the Bible, adding scripture memorization seems just natural.   So for now, I've started with Psalm 1 and I might just work my way through Psalms this summer.

2.    Enlarge our garden:   Last year our garden included 6 raised beds and this year we want to increase the size of the garden to include, not only two more additional raised beds, but also a large in ground area to plant some of the more invasive plants (ie. zucchini, brocolli, corn, peas, beans, squash) that tend to take up more area as they grow.  We realized quickly last year that our small garden was just a start and was by no means capable of feeding our family during the summer months and beyond.    This was coupled with the fact that the weather in Northern California tends to reflect a much shorter growing season, so we have to make the best of the time we have.

3.     Paint the porch and bench - this will have to take place when the weather turns warmer and less rainy of course.  I'm thinking a barn red for the bench and perhaps a dark brown for the porch - it would hide the chicken poop which if our ladies didn't hang out by the back door wouldn't be there, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  It is so sweet to look out the back door and see them all huddled close together, relaxing on the porch.  I think the trade off of having to sweep the porch each day is far less than the hassle of having them on the porch.

4.     Read two books for pleasure - It seems as if during the school year my free reading is so limited due to putting lesson plans together and reading for teaching our unit studies.  Some favorites on my list for the summer are. . . . War and Peace,  Life Management for Busy Women, Reliving the Passion, Seeing and Savioring Christ and the Dirty Life on Farming, Food and Love

5.     Save Money:  We have been bitten by the couponing bug and so far you can see our savings listed on the side bar.  We are having quite the challenge working with our limited supply of stores - with couponing it seems being in the country might be considered a penalty?  But, Anne and I are doing our best to overcome that obstacle and have had several compliments on our 6 lbs coupon binder! :)  Saving money is very high up on my list of contributing to our family's well being - ultimately, I would love to cut our grocery bill in half so that we could save for something special and maybe just a tad frivilous - not that we need a thing - God has blessed us immensely by providing everything we need . . . .but these might be fun to have  . . . . a vacation, Christmas gifts, a piano, carpet in our bedrooms.

Of course I want to continue reading and working through some math skills for each of the girls throughout the summer.   I'm so thankful that we are living our lives right here and now.  What is on your summer plans this  year?

And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bloom, right where you are planted

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "For everything you have missed, you have gained something else."


Spring has sprung in Northern California and it is so wonderful to watch in amazement.  The days are getting longer and the anticipation of planting our garden is mounting.  Which got me thinking about a quote I have often heard. . .


Mary Engelbreiht's quote, "Bloom where you are planted"


After being here in Northern California for the last year and a half and struggling with trying to "break into" a small, close-knit community, I think I understand the meaning of this quote just a little bit better. 

You see, God planted the gardens and I can imagine some of the plants blooming and wondering, "Why was I planted here?  God in His infinite wisdom knew why and where the plants would bloom the best, where they would be the most beneficial and serve the most purpose.  He didn't give them a choice to plant themselves in a location that "they" wanted. . . .  He chose for them.  Just like He chose to place us in Northern California, reasons unbeknownst to all of us, for better or worse. 

Every day I feel like I am constantly falling on my knees in prayer, asking God to forgive me for my struggle with discontentment and longing for something greater in life.  What I am beginning to realize is that God will show me the way. . . the reason that He wants our family here, the "why" behind our being planted.   He will take care of me, He will be my strong tower, my everlasting hope which I can stand upon.   It is what started me journaling my "1000 gifts" - the reasons for living and breathing - the God given purpose to my life.  I want to remember every day just how grateful I am and to fully be open to His ways in my life.   I pray when I get to that end I can look behind and see a deep, straight path, right to Jesus.
So for now, I may feel like I am missing something, but God knows I am gaining something even greater.  I will be content to wait out the reason that I've been called to "bloom" here, right where I've been planted.


Bloom, bloom where you're planted
You will find your way
Bloom, bloom, bloom where you're planted
You will have your day.

Look at the flowers, look at them growing
They never worry, they never work
Look at the way our Father clothes them
Each with beauty all its own
Each with beauty all its own

Some plant the seeds that others will water
But in all things, God give the growth
Come let Him garden the flowers within you
Come and discover some you've never known
Come and discover some you've never known
Look at the love that lies deep within you
Let yourself be! Let yourself be!
Look at the gifts you have been given
Let them go free! Let them go free!
Let them go free! Let them go free!

#200 - # 208

*    dirty spoons under the dining room table, babas, wanies and shirtless boy
*     chocolate frosting, chocolate cake and Lindsay who is now no longer in a car seat
*     playing trains with George late one Thursday evening after Bible Study
*     birthday girls during the month of March
*     "Dadda, Dadda, Where momma go?"  early in the morning coming from the crib
*     ice cream cakes and eight year old
*     birthdays and another year of serving God
*     talking to old friends early in the morning - so uplifting and just what I needed
*     quilting in bed late at night for new arriving babies amongst our friends


Friday, April 1, 2011

Couponing is not for the weary. . .

After watching the TLC episode of "Extreme Couponing" my daughter, Anne and I have teamed up our efforts to saving our family money by couponing again. 

We began in January by doing several things.  First, we set a budget as to how much we'd spend in groceries and personal care items.  That being said, we also decided that just because something was on sale, a great deal and that we had a coupon for the item,  if the family wasn't going to use the item, we wouldn't buy it.  We also said that we didn't want to be "extreme" in that we'd clear shelves and go overboard and end up with a year's suppy of toliet paper (which when I think about that with six girls in the house, might be near impossible to store up!)

So we  began searching blogs for other ladies who had traveled the coupon road before us, one in particular from the show, Joanie Demer, The Krazy Coupon Lady.  She offers coupon match-ups to the weekly sales fliers, tips for beginners and videos on how to shop.  While I haven't read her book, "Pick Another Check-Out Lane Honey," it sounds interesting.

Since, logistics and lack of shopping selections were going to be a battle for us to overcome, we decided to focus on Walgreens, CVS and Safeway.  We were not new to couponing - we had tried it in years past, but simply got overly burnt out on shopping at too many stores, missing those really "great sales" and having to go back in several times a week, and driving all over the city to the different stores.  So, we knew we needed a better "game plan" this time since CVS is a 30 minute drive north and Walgreens and Safeway are a 20 minute drive south.  I wish I could say that we've come up with a "fool proof" plan thus far, but we haven't - we are still stumbling through, but it has been fun to see some of the great deals we've found - even if we get overly excited over buying laundry detergent or toothpaste for almost nothing - have you ever seen the coupon dance??  Perhaps that should be my next post - a video of the coupon dance!

I thought I would show you a week worth of shopping for us and the amount of money that can be saved by simply spending a couple hours a week clipping coupons and printing them from the internet.



So, for the totals. . .  drum roll please. . . . .

Total Spent. . . * $86.92
Total Saved. . . * $219.93
Total of all Goods Purchased. . . . .* $306.85

(We forgot to take a picture of the items we got at Target which were two packages of Huggies diapers, two Suave Professionals products, and two Secret deodorant and four boxes of fruit snacks)

This gave us a 72% savings on all of the items and we purchased 100 items this week.  If you divide that by our cost, that is less than $.90 per item.  We are so blessed by these savings and some of these items we'll be enjoying for several months.