~my thoughts about life~

Monday, October 31, 2011

Better Late than Never

I love it when I get my daily posts out early in the morning.  But sometimes, on days like this, I can't find time to post until after 4 in the afternoon. 

You see, today was couponing day.  While it was technically my second week on this new, crazy journey, it was actually only my first full week.  A good friend, who just doesn't get it yet, came over this morning to learn from my vast, frugal knowledge.  We spent hours clipping, sorting, and studying ads.  I helped her determine which deals were good enough to splurge on and which needed to be passed over.  She had a $130 weekly budget.  I was determined to help her stay under budget but stockpile some necessities at the same time.  My budget was also about the same. 

Results were good!  My friend only went $3 over budget but scored $8 in savings on her next shopping trip!  Success!  I spent $197.19 (eek!).  Weekly specials and sales saved me a whopping $61.88 and I had $20.50 in coupons!  I also scored $12.00 in coupons toward my next shopping trip!  So I got almost $200 worth of groceries and toiletries for $102.81!  I was quite proud and grinned all the way to my car!

Ready for another deal?

Today after 6:00 PM, go into any Chipotle Mexican Restaurant dressed in a costume inspired by The Family Farm (think farmer, crop, animal, or farm implement) and you'll get a burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos for only $2.00!  You can't beat that deal, especially if you're an addict like me. 

We have choir practice tonight but I plan on taking the whole family to Chipotle afterward!  Yes, I will be wearing a cowboy hat to practice.  Laugh all you want, but I'll be enjoying a very cheap burrito for dinner!  I might just wear my boots.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Weigh-In Saturday

I worked hard this week and hoped to have better results today.  Yet, I am still pleased to report that I officially lost one pound! 

Yesterday, I had a bowl of cereal with skim milk for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and an apple for an afternoon snack. By dinnertime, I was starving and really enjoyed my meal!  I still have two pumpkin cupcakes in the fridge that I absolutely refuse to touch!  Yay for me!

Starting Weight: "112"
Week 2 Weight:  "111"

How did you do this week?  I want to hear results, whether good or bad.

Remember, I don't actually weigh 111.  That is an adjusted weight because I want to lose 11 more lbs.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Free eBook

I found this deal today and wanted to share it with you.  I'm not sure how long it will last so check it out soon!

You can receive the book One Imperfect Christmas for your Kindle for FREE on Amazon!  Read the book synopsis below.

Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she’s allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves—most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she’s one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit’s end. Nothing he’s done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa’s adolescent rebellion isn’t helping matters. As Daniel’s hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

There's nothing better than free!

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas cards?  I would love to get an early jump on it!  The most difficult part for me is getting a good photo of my family.  I love receiving cards from friends that include pictures.  When I get a generic, boxed card on which someone has simply signed their name, I get disappointed.  There is nothing quite like a personalized Christmas card!  I have been using personalized cards ever since Son #1 was born, 12 years ago.  I doubt I'll ever stop.

Each year, I display all the cards I've received around the central door frame in my home.  That's how my mother did it so that's how I do it.  Then after Christmas, I pitch the generic cards.  I cut out all the photos from the other cards and make a collage on my refrigerator.  I enjoy looking at it all year long.  When Christmas is over the next year, I'll redo the fridge.  I love it!

I recently saw a promotion for TinyPrints.com.  They offer the exact kind of cards I like to send out.  I'm a simple, plain person and don't like a lot of hoopla on my card.  I want my family to be the main focus.  So this is probably the style I like best- it's called Simple Class.  Knowing me, I'll end up using a black and white picture on the front of my card.  I had the best card last year....LOVED it!

This promotion is for 50 free holiday cards if you blog about it.  So that's what I'm doing!  If you would like to participate, fill out this form.

If you're not interested in the promotion but want to browse their card styles, you can do that by clicking here.

I will post a mock up of my card if and when I get it done!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Warning:  if you are taking part in my weight loss/healthy eating challenge, do not make these.  They are addictive.  I had to give the rest of mine away because I couldn't leave them alone.  Trust me.  Don't do it. 

Now, for everyone else, try these cupcakes!  They are divine!  They are great year round but even more perfect at this time of the year.  I was introduced to this recipe at a funeral years ago.  I often volunteered to help serve the funeral dinners at my church.  One woman would always bring this pumpkin cake.  It was so delicious and was the first dessert to disappear.  I broke down and asked her for the recipe and was surprised at how easy it is! 

My kids were eating the icing with a spoon.  (I didn't tell them there was cream cheese in it.)  It goes perfectly with many other cakes and desserts too.

Pumpkin Cake
2 C sugar
2 C flour
2 C pumpkin
2 t baking soda
½ t salt
2 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
1 C oil
4 eggs

Mix all ingredients well. Pour into a greased 9” x 13” pan. Bake at 350ยบ for 35-45 minutes.  (I baked my cupcakes for approximately 20 minutes.)
Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream together 1 lb. powdered sugar, 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 stick butter, and 2 t vanilla.

I'm linking up with JDaniel4's Mom and her Halloween Traditions!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Independence Day

We've been having days of Meltdowns and "I Do Its."  Today, when Baby Girl was ready to eat breakfast, her puzzle was spread out all over the table. I quickly picked up the large pieces and tossed them into the box.  "I pick up da puddle!"  Baby Girl proceeded to sulk on the floor for the next couple of minutes.  I had to take two pieces out of the box and place them back on the table for her to pick up.  She happily did it and moved on to breakfast.

She still sleeps in a crib.  It's partly because she's tiny and still fits fine, but mostly because we don't have the extra cash right now to purchase a new bed for her.  She loves her crib and enjoys climbing in and out of it by herself.  Occasionally at bedtime, I pick her up to give her a quick squeeze and then place her in the bed.  You would think the world is coming to an end!  I have to take her back out and allow her to climb in by herself.  "I Do It!"

Recently, she has started demanding to tie her own shoes.  The problem is, she certainly doesn't know how.  She pulls on the laces until the shoes become unlaced.  Only when she reaches her maximum point of frustration is when I can offer assistance.  I'm thrilled that she's independent (her sister still lets me do everything for her) but getting ready to go anywhere takes twice as much time.

Earlier this week, I was helping Big Sis get ready for school and noticed all was quiet downstairs.  When I checked on Baby Girl, she was sitting at the table having breakfast and reading the Target ad.  She made it herself.  She used a small prep bowl (my Home Ec teacher used to call them custard cups), filled it with cereal, and was using a giant soup spoon.  She was happy.

Big Sis still can't make her own breakfast.

I'm wondering what difficultites lie ahead as I try to raise this Monkey Girl.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I took my girls group "Booing" last night.  We filled five paper sacks with candy and treats.  My artistic assistant skillfully painted the word BOO on the bag along with a stencil of a pumpkin.  Adorable.  She tied them with black curly ribbon.  Inside, we included a picture of a friendly ghost with this poem:

The Halloween Phantom haunts you happily from now through Halloween,
And was delivered by a friend who was not seen.
The spirit of the neighborhood has come to wish you well,
Someone, somewhere, selected you to receive this happy spell.
You must display the Phantom on your door so all can spy
That you’re already haunted by this happy little guy.
Then fix 3 sacks with goodies like the one given to you,
Ring someone’s bell and leave a bag and make them happy too!
Happy Halloween!

I forgot to take a picture...these are last year's bags.

We picked five favorite families from the church as our victims.  In groups of five, the girls quietly approached each house.  They placed the bag on the porch, rang the bell, and bolted.  We were waiting down the street in a van with the lights off.  The funniest line of the night was from one of our Seniors who said, "I've got nervous pee!"  We had a great time and don't think we were ever seen.  This is a great tradition to begin in your neighborhood!

This week is Spirit Week at the kids' schools.  Of course, the themes aren't the same for both schools.  The boys had Crazy Hair Day and Big Sis had Crazy Sock Day, or so I thought.  She was all dressed and we were getting ready to walk out the door.  Suddenly, she noticed her planner said today was Team Shirt Day.  She's a girly-girl.  She doesn't have a team shirt.  So, into brother's closet we went.  We borrowed a college football jersey that is probably too small for him anyway.  She actually looked quite adorable in it with a red shirt underneath, a red bow, and gray striped leggings under her skirt.  Team Shirt Day actually triumphed over Crazy Sock Day.  It's all good.


I am now dreaming about coupons.  That can't be good.


We have some new friends that we've really enjoyed getting to know lately.  I've been promising to have them over for some time now but I haven't found the right opportunity.  First of all, I haven't been able to get my house clean enough.  For regular friends, it's fine.  But for new friends, I have to portray the image that I'm one of those good housekeepers.  (I'll hope they'll still like me when they find out I'm deceiving them.)  So, Friday night was the night.  We had a Fall Festival at church and I invited them over for dessert afterward.  I made two pumpkin pies (one for a pie contest that I did not win) and pumpkin cupcakes.  The house was not Company Clean but it was acceptable.  This family also has four kids so I knew they probably wouldn't judge too harshly. 

I wasn't quite prepared for the evening so I was running around doing things after they arrived.  (Actually, they had to bring me to my own home because Hubby disappeared without his phone but with my car keys.  I was stranded and super embarrassed.  If that guy wasn't so cute, he'd be out on his ear.)  I made a fresh pitcher of sweet tea and was placing it in the fridge.  Hubby had just removed the drawer that the pitcher sits in to clean it.  He did not put it back in properly.  When I set the pitcher down, the shelf collapsed and and entire gallon of sweet tea exploded in my kitchen.  It drenched me, all the way to my hair.  It trickled down into the lower living room.  It seeped through into the basement.  Imagine my sheer horror!  My new friend was on her hands and knees in my kitchen, cleaning up the spilled tea.  It became a sticky mess so I had to get a bucket and actually scrub the floor.  Let's hope they come back again.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Couponing - The Results

Well, I survived my first adventure in Extreme Couponing!  It wasn't very extreme this time but I'm looking forward to when it does become full-blown extreme!  I did have some good results and thought I'd share them with you.

First of all, I still spent about the same as I spend in a normal week.  But I got a lot of extra stuff that I'll stock pile.  Here are some deals I'm proud of:
  -Lipton Tea- Regularly $2.69, On Sale for $2.25, Scanned Coupon for $.60, Multiplied for $.60
   Final Price- $1.05 (60% off)

  -Froot Loops- Regularly $3.39, On Sale for $2.00, Scanned Coupon for $1.00
   Final Price- $1.00 (70% off)

  -Pillsbury Brownies- Regularly $2.39, Buy One Get 2 Free
   Final Price- $1.59/each (66% off)

At Store #1, I saved $25.13.  At Store #2, I saved $28.34.  Not a bad start, eh?

Also, I earned fuel perks at each store as well as $5.92 for my local school.

The results:  I'm going to continue on with this madness in hopes of getting better and better!


A while back, I mentioned that I would love to try my hand at Extreme Couponing.  I had never seen the show but planned to record a few episodes.  I also told some of my friends I was thinking of looking into it.  Everyone I talked to had pretty much the same response, "You don't want to do that."  Others said, "Unless you want to buy 40 bars of soap at one time, this isn't for you." 

I watched the show.  I loved the show.  I decided that I do want 40 bars of soap.  I envied the stockpile in their basements.  I totally don't see it as hoarding.  It's well organized, it consists of things they're going to use, and they saved a ton of money by doing it.  I've been suckered in.

I started researching.  I found some good blogs that give step-by-step instructions of how to begin.  I read informative websites and I found out the best places to print coupons.  After reading everything, I discovered that I've been doing a mild form of extreme couponing for years, I just haven't been using coupons.  One of the most important steps is to only buy what's on sale.  That's what I do.  I don't plan family meals based on what sounds good or what I've been craving.  I decide what to cook based on what's on sale.  For example, this week it's pork ribs and turkey breast.  My store receipt keeps a tally of  how much I've saved to date.  My total saved from coupons so far this year is only $28.53.  That's laughable.  Our grocery store has a food perks program that you build up by using their gas station.  With that program, I've saved $67.33.  Again, that's nothing.  But with weekly specials and sales, I've saved $617.61.  So you see what I mean- I've already been shopping the sales for years.  If I add coupons to this mix, I think I just might be able to do this.

One thing I will not be doing is buying things we don't use, even if it's free.  I don't believe in waste.  But I don't see any problem with having a stock of soap, deodorant, and paper towels.  We go through those things so quickly anyway and seem to always be running out.  It's amazing how fast our family of six goes through one of those giant packs of toilet paper (Baby Girl uses about 3 times the amount she should use).  Those packs cost $12.  I'm tired of paying that much money to clean my hind end!  If I can get it for cheap, I'm going to do it.

Monday is my shopping day.  I'm a scheduled girl!  So I'm starting today.  I know I won't gets results like the people on the show and I'm not expecting to.  I don't have a huge supply of coupons yet.  But I hope to save at least ten dollars.  Last week, I saved $11 with coupons.  That was huge for me!  I hope to increase my savings each week.  I'll let you know how it goes.  I will be shopping at two different stores.  Browsing through the ads, I found out that the store across town has much better specials this week.  I hate that store and don't know where anything is, but I guess I'll figure it out eventually.

So, wish me luck if you want.  Roll your eyes at me if you want.  I'm going to give this a serious go.  I found out this year that I can grow tomatoes, I can run 6 miles, and I can post almost daily on my own blog.  So I think I can do this too.  We'll see...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Weigh-In Saturday

OK, Skinnies...it's time to weigh in.  I'm not happy about doing this because I totally cheated this week.  In one day, I took a friend out for her birthday breakfast (Panera), my out-of-town family took me out for fried chicken for lunch, and Hubby treated me to Chipotle for dinner.  I'll allow each of you to slap me once with a ruler (or like item) for my misbehavior.  I really hope you all have better results than me! 

I want to say how tickled I was at how many of you are trying to make a "better you" by joining me in this effort!  Misery really does love company, doesn't it?  And please don't get frustrated if the weight is coming off slowly.  That probably means you're doing it right.  Just keep at it!

My results:
Starting Weight - "112"
1-Week Weight - Unfortunately, still "112."

You may all throw rotten tomatoes at me beginning NOW!  I vow to do much better next week!  Let's hear how all of you did!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Yes, I know I just began a discussion about eating healthier and losing weight.  Yes, I understand that several of you are working very hard to make a lifestyle change and you will be showing me up on my own blog.  But LOOK at this!

This was by far the best taco I've ever eaten in my life!  I made the tortilla from scratch, thanks to Grace & Gusto!  (I highly recommend trying out her recipe!)  The lettuce is from my garden and I used my own salsa (I'm out of fresh garden tomatoes.  Tear.)  Yes, there's fattening sour cream and lots of cheese on there but that's one of the reasons it was so stinkin' good! 

I am a little ashamed to admit that I'm going to be having the leftover taco for lunch today.  (Besides, the vegetable soup has made me so gassy lately!  TMI.)

That's all.  I just wanted to brag about my awesome dinner and confess that I'm not doing as well on my diet as you think I am.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Questioning Myself

I'm feeling guilty about something and I need you to let me know if I'm totally out of line.

There's this couple I know.  They've been dating about eight months, I believe, and they're getting married next weekend.  They met on the internet and he flew across the country to meet her.  He stayed there for six months and brought her back wearing an engagement ring.

This man is, frankly speaking, not all there.  Unfortunately, he was beaten as a child and suffered brain damage.  I can totally handle people with special needs.  In fact, I think I even have a certain patience for them.  But this guy is different.  He has a violent streak and he's not a small dude.  He has been known to pin his mother to the ground out of anger.  He has locked her in closets and bathrooms.  He once left the house in the middle of the night and ran up his (or maybe his mom's?) credit cards at a club.

So that's his back story.  Since I've met him, I can't say that he's stalked me.  But I feel very uncomfortable around him.  He likes to ask me lots of questions.  He kind of follows me around and he takes great interest in one of my hobbies.  It makes me nervous.  As a defense mechanism, I've been very stand-offish to him.  I feel that being overly nice would encourage him to like me more.  I'm not totally rude but I hope that my cold manner gives him a hint that I don't want a personal relationship with him. 

His fiancee' is a tiny little thing who also has special needs.  She's sharp intellectually but has some sort of handicap that I can't diagnose.  She has no idea what she's in store for.  In the short time they've known each other, it's likely that she's never seen his rage.  I feel so sorry for her because she's going to experience it sooner or later.

Practically no one showed up for this girl's bridal shower, including me.  My sister-in-law did, the one who just had a baby.  The bride asked my SIL to be in the wedding, even though she didn't know her name.  She said she was trying to meet new people and make friends.  My SIL was in shock and said yes.  Minutes later, she realized what she had done.  She returned to the girl, explained that she just had a baby and she was nursing.  There was no way she could be in the wedding but she would still like to be friends.

The guilt overwhelmed me.  This poor thing can't find people to be in her wedding.  Her family isn't even coming to the wedding.  A mutual friend said that the groom has a sister and several female cousins.  She told me that's plenty of bridesmaids and I have no need to feel guilty.  (This person also turned her down for legitimate reasons.)

Over the weekend, the mother approached my husband and asked if we were going to the wedding.  We totally weren't planning on it.  Hubby said he thinks we might be going out of town.  We do have actual plans for that day, but the plans aren't out of town.  I hate lying.  We're going to have to drive to another city that day just so I can sleep at night.

Am I a horrible person for avoiding this guy and for skipping his wedding?  Should I be more patient with him because of his disability?  Or am I just being smart by protecting myself?  I need your thoughts, cyberfriends!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Little Wishes

I wish for a day to stay in my pajamas all day, without being sick.  (Rain optional.)

I wish for all the socks to come out matched.

I wish for the ability to sleep in on Saturday.  (My internal clock has been waking me up at 6:45, no matter what the day.  Grrr...)

I wish for a good new book to read.

I wish Fall could last six months.

I wish I could experience the carefree life of a child one more time.

I wish I had a Diet Coke fountain machine in my house.

I wish there was an extra day in the weekend, between Saturday and Sunday.  We could call it Sunturday.

I wish Cheetos tasted like broccoli and broccoli tasted like Cheetos.

I wish the Marilyn Monroe type of body was still in style and supermodels were considered undernourished.

I wish there was a magic pill you could take (or give to your kids) that would instantly end a head cold.  (My kids are hacking right now.)

I wish I always knew how to make the right decisions instead of worrying about the inevitable.

Have you noticed how my wishes started out kind of small and grew greater throughout this post?  Hmmm...what's that about?

What are you wishing for today?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hard Habit to Break

I've been on my kids lately about forming bad habits.  Think about the habits you have every day in your life.  Some may be good habits, some may be bad.  My routine has become a habit.  I get up at the same time every day and do the same things over and over.  These things come naturally because I've done them so many times.  I looked up information on forming habits.  The results varied depending on the type of habit being formed.  That makes perfect sense because my boys formed a habit of throwing their clothes on the floor after the very first time they did it.  Now I can't get them to stop. 

I'm turning over a new leaf.  I am working harder to be a better housekeeper.  It's amazing- having a cleaner house puts me in a better, more relaxed mood.  I don't have to worry about someone stopping by unexpectedly.  When the house is clean, I don't constantly beat myself up about how messy it is.  All in all, I've just decided that keeping a clean house is a better thing for me.  I want to pass neatness on to my children.

How do children learn best?  Example.  Any education class will tell you that.  Well, my kids have a very strong example in their life- their father.  Guess what he does when he takes off  his clothes each day?  He doesn't throw them on the floor but he does find a place to stash them.  Typically, it's over the ironing board or across a chair in our room.  Occasionally, it's the bathroom floor.  It drives me nuts.  Getting him to change this habit at the age of 37 is going to be a lot more difficult than working with 10 and 12-year olds.

I have to start where it's fresh.  The Boys.  It's amazing how quickly their room can go from neat and tidy to tornado site.  Unreal.  A simple act like coming home from school can do it.  Two shirts, two pairs of jeans, four shoes (and sometimes socks), all go on the floor.  Two backpacks with books and papers falling out contribute to the devastation.  So, a matter of a minute and a half can change things considerably.

My mom always taught me as a kid that being neat is actually a higher form of laziness.  Doing little things along the way to keep your space clean saves you a lot of time and effort.  Cleaning an entire messy room from start to finish is so much more work.  I've tried to make that my mantra.  I'm a higher form of lazy.

I'm going to try a new tactic with the boys.  #2 is very logical so hopefully this approach works with him.  I'm going to time how long it takes them to throw a shirt on the floor.  Then I'm going to time how long it takes to hang that same shirt up.  The difference should be a matter of seconds.  Then I'm going to ask how long it takes them to clean up their whole room when it's messy.  I figure they'll go to the extreme and answer an hour.  Next, I'll sit down with a pencil and paper and put my math skills to test.  If it takes an average of six extra seconds to do things right, at the end of a week, you've spent so much time hanging up your clothes.  Hopefully that number will be far less than the hour they predict it takes to clean their entire room.  I'm going to try to stress the higher form of laziness point.  Think I have a chance???

What's one bad habit you would like to break?  Maybe it's something big like smoking.  Maybe it's something small like eating a snack before bedtime (Hello!).  Make a new habit.  Instead of turning to the snack cupboard in the evening, read the newspaper or clean up the dishes instead.  If you have a habit of logging on to Facebook twenty times a day, go to weather.com instead.  Check houses for sale in your neighborhood.  Make a change.  See how many days it takes for that old habit to be broken. 

I'm struggling right now with my eating habits, which you all know.  I've got to make a change.  Yesterday, I ate an apple instead of a dessert after lunch.  It wasn't that bad.  But I still have a long way to go.  (Confession:  I've been pretty bad lately.  Boo.)

Sorry this post is so New Year's Resolution-y!  But in that same spirit, let me know what one habit you would like to break.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just for Laughs

When I read this, I actually laughed out loud.  There was a time in my life when I would have done these things.  (Before I got old.)  Next time we go on vacation to a tall hotel, I might have to bring this list with me.

Annoying Things To Do On An Elevator
1.  Crack open your briefcase or handbag, peer inside and ask "Got enough air in there?"
2.  Stand silent and motionless in the corner facing the wall without getting off.
3.  When arriving at your floor, grunt and strain to yank the doors open, then act as if you're embarrassed when they open themselves.
4.  Greet everyone with a warm handshake and ask him or her to call you Admiral.
5.  Meow occasionally.
6.  Stare at another passenger for a while.  Then announce in horror:  "You're one of them!" - and back away slowly.
7.  Say DING at each floor.
8.  Say, "I wonder what all these do?" And push all the red buttons.
9.  Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.
10.  Stare, grinning at another passenger for a while, then announce:  "I have new socks on."
11.  When the elevator is silent, look around and ask:  "Is that your beeper?"
12.  Try to make personal calls on the emergency phone.
13.  Draw a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers:  "This is my personal space."
14.  When there's only one other person in the elevator, tap them on the shoulder, then pretend it wasn't you.
15.  Push the buttons and pretend they give you a shock.  Smile, and go back for more.
16.  Ask if you can push the button for other people but push the wrong ones.
17.  Hold the doors open and say you're waiting for your friend.  After a while, let the doors close and say, "Hi Greg, how's your day been?"
18.  Drop a pen and wail until someone reaches to help pick it up, then scream: "That's mine!"
19.  Bring a camera and take pictures of everyone in the lift.
20.  Pretend you're a flight attendant and review emergency procedures and exits with the passengers.
21.  Swat at flies that don't exist.
22.  Call out "Group hug" then enforce it.

I have to say, I think #10 is my favorite.  I couldn't do it without busting out laughing!

Anyone feel brave enough to try one (or several) of these today?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fatty Update

I am so thankful for those of you who are willing to jump on the Fat Wagon with me!  (Or maybe we're supposed to be jumping off the Fat Wagon???)  It makes it less horrible if someone is doing it with you.  I'm holding you guys accountable so you'd better not back out on me!

Let me first address one comment I received advising me to be careful.  I really appreciate the concern!  Nope, I'm nowhere close to an even hundred, I just thought that number would make an easy target weight without actually sharing my true weight (I won't even admit it to my husband).  If I hit my target weight, I would still be 7 lbs. heavier than I was at my wedding, and I wasn't even very skinny then.  I was truly skinny one time in life and I weighed 7 lbs. less then than I did at my wedding.  So, I'm far from being too skinny.  I just want to be thin.

Also, I understand what you mean about seeing a doctor.  Thin people develop tumors and whatnot that give them these huge bulges.  Mine is due to overeating.  It's as simple as that.  Why do Cheetos have to taste so good when they're so bad for you???

So here's what we're going to do.  Go ahead and set your target weight at 100.  If you want to lose 20 lbs., say that you weigh 120 now.  If you only need to lose 5, you weigh 105 right now.  Does that make sense?  If that's too confusing and you want to share your actual weight, more power to ya!  Or if you just want to record pounds lost, that's fine too (-6, etc.).

You can lose weight in whatever way works for you.  I think Weight Watchers has a great plan.  I am so against cabbage soup diets, applesauce diets, Adkins, and other crazy fads.  I believe in eating low fat, healthy foods.  I'm not against artificial sweeteners, but I don't use them in excess.  What works best for me is to eat a low fat breakfast, a low fat lunch, a reasonable dinner (my family won't eat diet food and I'm not cooking two separate dinners), and very limited snacks.  Also, I only drink tea in moderation.  If you want to see the rules I set up for myself, you can read this old post.

Weekly (or so), I'm going to ask you to report your weight change for that week.  I'm not setting a time goal but you're welcome to.  I would just like to get this weight off before Christmas.  (I will not be dieting Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day!)

Please comment with your starting "weights" here.  I'm 112.  See you soon, skinny ladies!

Friday, October 14, 2011

+ & -

+ Fall.  Enough said...it's glorious!

-  My car wouldn't start last night.  It's an '08.  I find that a bit ridiculous.  So now it's in the shop and I am transportationless.  Talk about having cabin fever!

+ Because my sexy mini-van is in the shop, I get to eat at Chipotle tonight (imagine that) when we pick it up after Hubby gets home tonight!

-  My Picasa Web Album is full.  I'm debating whether or not to pay to upgrade my storage space.  (I'm such a cheapskate.)

+ My home can almost be categorized as clean! We still have several piles around the house of things I don't really know what to do with. But you can see every floor in every room (well, I haven't checked the boys' room yet) without being in danger of tripping over large things.
- Keeping the house clean, the laundry caught up, the kids' homework checked, and putting good dinners on the table is a lot of work! I know you all know that, I just wanted to remind all of those people with housekeepers, butlers, maids, and nannies how the real world lives.

+ Hubby and the boys will be gone on a campout tonight and we have a girls night out! My dearest friend's daughter is turning 9 (I think) so we are celebrating with dinner at Panera, her choice.

- I think every weekend for the next month, at least, is completely scheduled. While it's nice to have things to do, I love having a few lazy weekends here and there.

+ We finally got Son #2's math class sorted out at school (long story).  His teacher called me last night and said she's very impressed with his math skills and wants to move him into the honors class.  When I explained that he was supposed to be in that class anyway, she was less than thrilled about how long we've been waiting.  She said she would handle it immediately because he has no business being in the class he's in.  They are even trying to begin an identified gifted math program for students like him.  The teacher said he is performing higher than the students who are in her honors class.  Let's just say, the boy did not get that from his mother!

-  I just realized how it makes me feel to admit that I can't help my son with his fifth grade math homework.  Bring me English, Spanish, or even Science and I'm your woman.  But math...not so much.

+ Son #1 just informed me that today is his half birthday.  He asked if I would take him out to get a donut.  I said he could have half of a donut since it's his half birthday.

What particular pluses and minuses fill your life right now?

-  Big Sis started throwing up this morning.
+ There was no school today so at least she doesn't have to miss a day.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fatty McButter Pants

This is how I feel right now.  A while back, I lost a total of 13 pounds and I was so proud of myself.  I looked great; I felt great.  I started running and felt even better.  Since I was working so hard training for my marathon leg, I justified that eating junk food was OK.  I'm working it off anyway, I thought.  Well, the marathon came and went.  I haven't run since.  But I've kept up my eating habits.  Let's do the Math:
Inactive Lifestyle + Junk Food = Spare Tire Belly
No, hat's not the way I want to live.

At our Boutique Night this week, I scored a few items.  What depressed me was the size I had to "shop" for.  And then, someone took a picture of me and my three helpers.  First of all, I looked like a giant since they're all 5'2" or under.  And secondly, I had this huge belly on me I wasn't aware existed.  People probably think I'm 4 months pregnant.  I'm happy with every other part of myself...it's just that GUT!  I'm tired of blaming it on the four kids I've given birth to along with the four C-Sections.

This would be the easy way out:

But unless I want to hold a telethon to raise the funds, this method is out.  So I'll have to resort to the old-fashioned weight loss plan.  It involves this:

And no snacks.  That's how I did it before and that's how I'll have to do it again.  Boo!

I've put back on 8 pounds (yikes).  Right now, my weight ends in the number 2.  (You must be crazy if you think I'll share the rest!)  Let's assume the first two numbers are 1 and 1 (which they are not).  I think I'd like to get down to an even hundred then.  Wondering if I can really lose 12 pounds????  It will take a lot of work and dedication.  I really wish I had one of these to help me along my way:
But again, I would need a telethon.

So, fellow fat complainers (you know who I'm talking to)...jump on the wagon with me!  I will try my best to encourage you if you suffer through this with me!  I'm starting today.  Who's in???

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shutterfly Coupons

When I received my most recent Shutterfly book in the mail, they included four coupons for my friends:
10% Off Everything and 5 Free Cards.
Good through November 17, 2011.

If anyone can use them, I will give the promo codes to the first four people who comment.  Enjoy!

Around The House

Finally, an update on all things accomplished last week.  It was a killer week, even though we ate out for breakfast, took a quick field trip to the zoo (hence the jellyfish pic), and of course indulged at Chipotle.

We did small tasks:  rehung the handrail (that has been in the garage for about two years, since I last painted the hallway), changed the water filters and furnace filter, broke and changed light bulbs, rearranged furniture, and a few other boring things.

We did big things like cleaning the carpet and back patio.  Wow, check out the results!  (Courtesy of Hubby's carpet and tile cleaning business.)

I painted our lower living room.  I was aiming for a caramel color and got burnt orange instead.  I was pretty nervous about it at first but I've already grown to love it.  Check out Before:

And After:

(They're both flash off pictures because I think they represent the actual colors better.)  We added the coffee table and lamp from the living room because they don't look right since we rearranged the furniture.  (Curtains were still being washed at the time of photo.)

I haven't hung anything on the walls yet because I'm not quite sure what I want to do.  I would like to display some of my photography.  I don't have any framed in the house, besides a few pictures of the kids.  So, what do you think?

Another big project was some landscaping and mum planting.  Here is a photo of my front bed:

We also planted two huge mums around our gas meter, which we're trying to disguise.  It sticks up about three feet right in the front of our yard.  We got a great deal:  mums and pumpkins all for $3.99 each!  The two tiny orange mums on the left side of the picture were marked down to fifty cents each.

So that's a little bit about how life looks around here.  Things are finally livable, although the house is not quite clean yet.  We haven't had any more rodent issues so hopefully we've eliminated them.  (I keep sanitizing the same areas over and over.  Yuk...still grossed out!)  We still haven't figured out how they entered. 

This beautiful Indian Summer is fading quickly and we'll soon be blanketed in snow.  Enjoy your Fall!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Black Monday

Every other Monday during the school year, I direct a group of 7th through 12th grade girls at my church.  I've talked about it before on here and thought it might be a good idea to share some of the activities we do from time to time.

Last night, we had Boutique Night and it was amazing!  For the last few weeks, I've been hitting up stylish women in the church to donate unwanted clothes, shoes, and accessories.  Most of them clean out their closets this time of year anyway.  The response I got blew me away!  I expected to receive 8 or 10 bags of clothes.  Each girl could probably walk away with 4 or 5 free items.  But my friends came through!  Four of us spent two hours sorting and setting up all the clothes.  Here is a picture of the result:

On the left is the accessory table.   We had purses, clutches, hats, and headbands.  Past that was a table of XS and S tops.  The tall rack was filled with shoes and scarves.  The next several shelves were skirts sorted by size, from 0 to 16.  The hanging rack you see in the middle is all size medium clothes.  The rack on the right has XS to S clothes on the left and L to XL clothes on the right.  Out of the camera's view is another table filled with M, L, and XL tops.  I am still in awe looking at this picture again!

We started off with all the girls sitting in the chairs.  We laid down some ground rules:  1.  No complaining or acting embarrassed about your size.  God made you the way you are and you need to be happy with yourself.  2.  Be courteous (which I knew they all would be).  3.  Take one accessory at a time so everyone has a chance to get something.  4.  Don't make a mess. 

I must say that they followed the rules very well.  I had a hard time getting them to sit still and pay attention.  Their eyes were wandering and they had difficulty focusing.  Wouldn't you???  Finally, I said, "Play Ball!"  They all jumped up and made a mad rush for the racks.  One girl said it reminded her of Black Friday.  So we started calling it Black Monday.

In the end, each girl took home approximately 2 shopping bags full of clothes.  A few of them took home full garbage bags.  We still had quite a bit left so I invited their mothers to browse when they came to pick them up.  One mom outlasted the rest.  She is an avid eBayer so I told her she could take some things to sell.  She ended up with 2 garbage bags and kept saying, "Are you sure?!?"  We loaded up the remainder in garbage bags and were about to load them up into my van.  Another youth leader who happened to stop by was still there.  She offered to take everything else to a resale shop and donate the profits to our group.  I was thrilled I didn't have to haul away all the bags on my own!

It was so much fun and it felt great to give back.  I was so exhausted when I got home and I'm still feeling it today.  I told all the girls to let me know whenever they wear something new to church.  What better feeling is there than getting new, free clothes?  Well, seeing 20 ecstatic girls running around giggling out of sheer happiness rates right up there.  This morning, I received this message:

Thanks for all your hard work last night. It was really fun! you guys are the coolest people on the planet! (: seriously! I love you guys. thanks again!
That made my day!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Benefit of the Doubt

I'm so far behind right now.  I planned on blogging about the many, many things we accomplished in the past week but don't have sufficient pictures yet to illustrate my words.  I have such a fun and interesting evening planned tonight...I'll have to tell you about that later.

Instead, I'll share with you something I experienced while we were on Workation.  One morning, we treated ourselves to breakfast at Cracker Barrel.  We were on our way to Lowe's for supplies and thick, crispy bacon was calling my name.  Parked beside the fireplace was a folded wheelchair.  On the back of the wheelchair was a cardboard sign with magic marker writing.  It said,

When I first saw the sign, I actually stopped in my tracks to read it.  I wanted to take a picture of it.  Then I realized I was just standing in the middle of the restaurant so I picked up my pace and joined Hubby at the table.  I immediately brought the wheelchair and the sign to his attention.  His words matched my thoughts- "Well, how can they afford to eat at Cracker Barrel then?"  We were both quite disgusted that these panhandlers didn't even try to hide the sign begging for money.  They were too busy enjoying a fancy, expensive breakfast.

Then guilt washed over me.  I was so quick to judge.  Perhaps a caring stranger gave these folks a Cracker Barrel gift card in lieu of cash.  I felt like a worm right then.  My grandfather, a former pastor, always kept McDonald's gift certificates in his office.  When a stranger would come into the church looking for a handout, my grandfather would give him the certificates.  As a child, I once asked him why.  He told me that if the person was truly hungry, this would feed him.  It also assured that he wouldn't use good money to make bad purchases.  This life lesson always stuck with me.  I was sure that this is what had happened with the Cracker Barrel beggars. 

I looked around the restaurant and quickly determined which people belonged to the wheelchair.  It was a couple in their 40s wearing lots of layers.  His hair was overgrown and he wore a beard.  The woman looked severely depressed and was not well kept.  The couple never spoke to one another.  I imagined the pain they were suffering as I watched them eating biscuits from the corner of my eye. 

I explained my epiphany to Hubby and expressed my guilt for judging too quickly.  He did not agree with me, however.  He was certain that the wheelchair and sign belonged to regular people who were out to make a buck off of the naive.  "Well," I said, "I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt." 

I continued to watch them from time to time, wondering if biscuits and coffee was going to be the staple of their meal.  They probably ordered one side of bacon to split between them to make their gift card last as long as possible.  I was wrong.

The server came out carrying a large tray full of plates.  Do you want to guess what they ordered?  Steak and eggs!  Asking for handouts, eating steak for breakfast....I was floored.  My guilt was replaced by anger.  There are so many people in the world who sincerely need help.  Then there are people like this who make it so that I won't trust anyone.  I've always been leery of giving donations to people holding signs.  Unfortunately, this is why.  If these people were truly hungry, they wouldn't have splurged on such an expensive breakfast.  I know I couldn't afford a breakfast like that.

What are your thoughts on this story?  Which side of the fence would have you been on?  And after seeing the steak and eggs, what would have you thought?  I'm curious to see how others see this.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Good Morning, Saturday

It's Saturday morning.  I stepped outside in pajamas and bare feet to capture how beautiful the morning is.  If I could choose any day's weather to be our regular climate, this would be it. 

I'm partly happy this busy week is over but saddened at the same time.  I have really enjoyed the time I've spent with Hubby and I feel very accomplished for all the things we got done.  I will post about them on Monday.

For now, I'll show you how my kitchen has looked for the past day:

This is how my dining room has looked:

Thankfully, it's because my living room looks like this:

Hubby has a carpet/tile cleaning business and this is the first time my carpet has ever been cleaned.  I know, it's like the shoemaker's children who are never shod.  This is the only room of carpet I have in the entire house.  Everything else is wood floors.

So, things are a little hectic around here right now and I feel guilty for blogging instead of cleaning up.  Seeing all this STUFF has made me realize how much stuff I actually have.  I'm taking a minimalist approach starting now.  Most of this junk will go down into the basement (which will irritate Hubby because he won't want it more cluttered), which will make my main living areas look so much nicer.  The thoughts of living rooms with only furniture in them makes me smile.

Enjoy your Saturday.  I hope it's as beautiful wherever you are as it is here!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My Work Week

Sorry no wonderfully creative or thought-provoking post today.  If you remember, I said this week was a "Workation" for us.  Well, it's Thursday and there hasn't been a whole lot of work going on yet.  Yesterday, we did this instead:

We have a very beautiful local zoo so I determined to take Baby Girl's 3 year pictures while we were there.  (1 month late.)  They did not turn out.  The lighting was too bright, which shadowed her face.  She was very distracted and wouldn't look at the camera long enough for me to snap pictures.  And I'm starting to wonder if maybe my lens is out of alignment.  I should have that checked....someday....

So today, the work began full force (after breakfast at Bob Evans).  We're moving in high gear now so I need to get back to work.  If Hubby sees me blogging....

Break time is over for now.  See ya tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Unwelcomed Visitor

We have a mouse in our house and I want to move away.
We have a mouse in our house who thinks he's here to stay.

He lives under the sink and there's droppings everywhere.
When I first saw the signs I received quite a scare.

I removed all the bottles, all the soaps and paper towels,
I disinfected and cleaned everywhere he lost his bowels.

Hubby bought a trap, the kind where you don't see
The mouse that you catch which makes a happy Me.

We set it before bed and I drifted off to sleep.
When we woke, I hurried in to the kitchen for a peek.

Sure enough, he's caught!  I'm glad for this to end!
But now I start to wonder if he came with a friend?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Newspapers and Coupons

We have a newspaper thief in our neighborhood.  We used to get our paper delivered right to our doorstop because we knew the delivery guy.  He tragically passed away a year or so ago so we have a new guy.  Now our paper gets delivered to our mailbox, which is at the bottom of our long, curvy, steep driveway.  It's a real pain to walk all the way down there to discover that our paper is missing.  We recently added a second Sunday paper (one local, one regional) and the dumb thieves take both. 

I was expressing my irritation about getting our paper stolen and someone mentioned to me that it was for our coupons!  That thought had never crossed my mind!  With all those extreme couponers out there, people are stealing Sunday papers for the coupons!  I find this totally despicable.  Hubby and my brother are ready to set up surveillance to catch these thugs.  More realistically, we have to get down there early to intercept our paper.

Discussing extreme couponing made me start thinking.  Sure, I clip coupons from time to time but I don't end up saving much.  I know there's an art to it and I just don't get it yet.  I've never watched the reality show and I haven't researched it at all.  But I think I might give it a try.  I know there's tons of resources out there, including blogs, so I might seek some out.  Do any of my loyal readers and cyber friends practice the art of couponing?  How much do you save on average?  How much time do you spend (weekly) clipping, printing, and saving coupons?  Has anyone else thought of trying out this trend?  I think I'll give it a serious go this week and share with your my thoughts.  I don't think I'll appear on any reality shows but I would be thrilled to save ten bucks.

Off I go on this coupon adventure!  (By the way, do you say "Q-pon" or "coo-pon?"  I'm a "Q-pon" girl.)

Monday, October 3, 2011


In mid-July, we had a new roof put on our house.  Ever since then, this shingle has been stuck in our Magnolia tree.  We've had big storms that have come through with very strong winds.  People have pointed out the old shingle in the tree.  But I kind of want to see how long it lasts.  Kind of weird, I know.


Son #2 was unloading the laundry from the dryer and called me to the basement to see the black marks inside.  "Oh, it's probably just scuffs from shoes or something else that we dried."  He shook his head, "No, it's not like that at all.  Come see."  This is what I found covering the entire inside of the dryer (it looks much worse in real life):

What in the world?  It looks like black soot from a fire.  But there is no trace, whatsoever, of a burning smell.  Unlike soot, this does not come off.  Using a Lysol wipe, I concentrated on an area half the size of a dollar bill.  It took about 2 minutes to get that area clean.  We cannot figure out how this mess occurred!  We carefully emptied the drum, looked around on the floor, and checked the pockets of each garment.  There was nothing to be found.  All I can figure is that a crayon got in with the wash.  Possibly, it completely disintegrated/melted in the dryer, hence no evidence.

OH- and here's what it did to the clothes!

I washed a few of our favorite items in this load but fortunately hung them out to air dry.  If it had messed up Baby Girl's new Naartjie dress, I think I would have cried.  I'm going to try some non-flammable Krud Kutter my dad gave me today.

How weird is that? 


Update on the dryer situation:
The Krud Kutter worked wonders!  It took me about an hour, with my head stuffed inside the dryer, to finish the job.  It doesn't look like new, but 75% of the black gunk came off.  A sample load of old towels proved my cleaning job to be sufficient.

Talking to Hubby that night, I said, "You know, it kind of looked like that grease crayon you use at work to write on boxes."  His eyes got large and he said, "Oooooohhhhh..."  So I took that as a confession.  Yep, it was the dad's fault, not any of the four children.  Good thing I love him!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Perfect Saturday

This was the exact kind of weekend I wanted.  It was cold, rainy, and yucky out so I wanted to be a little lazy.  I slept in until 8:30, which was so grand!  I lounged around in my pajamas and drank hot tea.  We finally got dressed around 10:00 and went out for a bit of shopping.  I bought these:

and this:

(Don't worry, I won't wear them together.)

We had lunch here

So you know I was happy about that.

I came home and made a huge pot of chili for the chilly day.  Then I did this:

while the kids did this:

In the evening, I shared my huge pot of chili with my parents, grandparents, brother and SIL, and aunt. 

So my October started off well.  How is yours so far?