Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Easter 2014: A Few Photos

Hoping that you and your family had a great time celebrating because Christ has risen!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Evangeline Grace: 6 Months Update

This picture was taken the first day we spent an extended period of time outside.  
As I sit writing this update sweet Evangeline is rolling and rolling all over the family room floor.  It will probably be just a few weeks and she will be full out crawling!  Ah!  I'm not sure that I am ready for the craziness that will entail.  :)  Time to buy a gate.  

This month Eva has reached 19 pounds 9 ounces and is getting long!  She has just about outgrown her 9 months clothes and is ready for 12 month clothing.

Eva is SUCH a Daddy's girl.  She will stop whatever she is doing and give him the biggest grin.
She laughs and giggles whenever he enters the room.  
To say that Evangeline is a delight to our family is an understatement.  We love her to pieces!  It really is hard to imagine life without her.  She loves playing especially with her brother or in the Johnny Jump Up.  At this point she can almost sit up on her own.  She can also scoot around.

It just doesn't seem possible that Evangeline is 6 months old!  Half a year-wow, how in the world does this happen so quickly!
Eli giving Eva her first bite
Elijah had a great time feeding Evangeline her first bite of food.  So far she has tasted applesauce and sweet potatoes but hasn't really been a fan of either one.  (I'm very relaxed when it comes to solids.)  We haven't tried any cereals at this point.  Our nursing relationship is wonderful and I have noticed a big change in her efficiency and also how often she wants to eat.  As you can tell by the rolls on her she is gaining well.  :)  Eva has entered the stage of being more distracted when she nurses.  It's hard to get frustrated with her when she just looks up and grins when I ask her to get down to business.
Easter Dress (minus the headband)
She definitely knows her name and will turn her head whenever someone says it.  Eva loves all of her little teething toys but we haven't seen any teeth yet.  She is also a great kisser!

We have been able to spend lots of time outside this past month.  Eva just loves it.  We have taken her hiking, for long walks, playing outside, planting seeds, enjoying family dinners outside, etc.  This month we also started doing back carries in the Ergo and Mei Tai.  Hooray!  (These are my favorite carriers once a baby gets a little heavy.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Eva's First Bite

 Eli has been asking for months when Evangeline could eat real food.  I told him we would wait until she was at least 6 months old.  The day she turned six months old he kept asking to feed her.  I told him we had to wait until she showed all of the signs of being ready which at 6 months old she just hadn't quite reached.  After she was able to sit up he could give Eva her first bite of real food.  So here are a few pictures of Eli feeding Eva (with help) her first bite of food (unsweetened applesauce I canned).  

Such a fun memory to watch Evangeline experience food for the first time!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

I sewed two Easter baskets for my kiddos.  I decided to make fabric baskets after seeing some on etsy for $30.  I liked the idea of a fabric basket being easier to store or the possibility of my kids actually using them throughout the year in their bedrooms.  For Eli's basket I used some Peltex stabilizer inside and for Eva's I just used fleece as a stabilizer.  I prefer the look of Eli's basket but Peltex is a little expensive.  I wouldn't mind trying plastic canvas next time.  I had all of the fabric in my stash.  Eli's fabric was a Michael Miller print I purchased at an estate sale and Eva's fabric was M'Liss from Hancock's.  These were super quick and easy to whip up!

No eating out for me last week!  The hubby was away at a conference for a couple of days so he did have to buy a few meals out.  I packed a lunch and snacks for him before he left.  He also stayed at a hotel that had a complimentary breakfast.  He saved lots of money by not staying at a hotel downtown and driving 10 minutes each morning.  At the conference he received 14 free books!  I plan on reading about 1/2 of the books he received.

The kiddos and I have been spending TONS of time outside! 
I took my son to our general dentist instead of the pediatric dentist near us which saved us about $60.  It's crazy how difference charges can be within twenty miles!  No cavities-yeah!

The kids and I met up with a friend at the local park.  We walked for a long time and had a lovely time catching up.  This was directly after our dentist appointment so I packed a picnic.  Unfortunately I forgot my fork to go along with my salad so I am planning on putting some spare utensils in the car.
The happy hubby and I had a wonderful time walking beside this creek.

The hubby and I went on a walking date while my sisters babysat for us.  We walked for 1.5 hours and had a wonderful time.

I breastfed and cloth diapered the baby all week!

I sold 6 books on amazon.

My grandmother sent the kids a package!  (Always an incredibly exciting thing at our house.)  She sent them each a bunny.  Eli's sings and dances.  I might or might not be sad when the battery runs out!  She also sent a suit for Elijah and a sweet dress for Evangeline.  I am SO glad because I hadn't even thought of Easter clothing yet.  I will be wearing a dress I already own and Brandon will be wearing his usual suit. It is funny how time changes.  I think I purchased a new Easter dress every single year up until about three years ago.

What frugal things did you do last week?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

Last week was Eva's first time spending a long period of time outside. 

It is finally warm enough to work on some yard work!  We planted loose leaf lettuce in our landscaping and yellow carrots in a pot.  I also dug up dirt along the side of our porch to plant sugar snap peas.  After we harvest the peas I will probably plant flowers in this area.  (Peas are a good natural fertilizer and should help the ground.)  I have thought about planting sunflowers in this area.  The ground is much lower than the porch in this area.  I thought it might be nice to have sunflowers popping up close to the porch fence.

I mended a dish rag. 

I donated items to charity and received a receipt for tax purposes.  I have a goal of getting rid of 40 bags in 40 days.  So far I have given away 14 bags of stuff to friends or charity.

We attended Flower Buds at our local extension office. This is a free program offered for children ages 3-5 to learn about gardening that meets once a month.  The kids have storytime, snacktime, spend time outside in the garden, and do an activity.  They also have a separate time for the mothers which is nice.  This month Eli planted a pansy in a container.  I also made a cookie mix in a jar.  I really enjoy going and once a month is the perfect amount of time for our family to commit to an activity!  

I sold six books on amazon this week.  I also listed 15 more.  Most of these books are duplicates from our seminary days or books Brandon does not plan on reading again.  I went through my book collection and gave away about 2 dozen last summer.  :)

I received free Jergens lotion and Garnier face wash in the mail.

My husband negotiated a wonderful discount at our new chiropractor.  This is a huge blessing!  I was in a car wreck in college and chiropractic care really is a quality of life issue for me.  I feel SO much better since I have begun treatment again.

I sewed a curtain for our back door.  It had a magnetic curtain rod on it when we moved in.  Somehow the curtain rod turned into a sword and we lost one part of it.  I purchased a dow rod for .50 and painted it white with acrylic paint I had on hand.  Then I whipped up a simple curtain using fabric I had on hand.  I may add tie backs in the future.  We live so close to our church that you can look into our kitchen from a couple of the rooms at the church!  Now I don't have to be fully dressed at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning for fear of someone getting a peek.  :)

We graduated from Financial Peace University!!  I plan on writing about this in a separate post but let me encourage you to sign up this year for a class in your area.

We didn't eat out at all!  Not even a snack for the happy hubby.  We usually eat out once a week but with prices increasing we just can't afford it as often.  I really want to finish paying off our medical bills from having Evangeline so we are trying to sock everything extra we have to paying those off.

I did pay off the entire bill owed to my ob/gyn this week!  Happy dance time!

What frugal things did you do last week?  For those of you who eat out less than we do, how did you transition to this?  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

March Reads

I really enjoyed reading a wide variety of books this past month.  I am looking forward to spending some time reading outdoors this month!  One of my favorite things to do is to stretch out on a blanket (and a pillow) while reading outside.  Does anyone else enjoy that?  Anyway here are the books I read in March:

The Outcast by Jolina Petersheim:  I really enjoyed this modern day retelling of The Scarlet Letter.  It was so easy to get lost in this book that I found it difficult to put down.  I usually don't enjoy re-reading fiction books for at least 10 years but I could definitely see myself reading this one again in a year.  Such a lovely book about love and forgiveness set in the Amish/Mennonite world.  Want to know something neat?  I actually know the author (and that isn't why I liked the book)!  We went to college together and let me tell you when I think of Jolina I just think sweetheart.  I am not a bit surprised that she wrote such a beautiful story.

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms by Gloria Furman.  When this book arrived I thought this was exactly what I need for this season of life!  This small book includes 11 chapters which help the reader to think about motherhood in a Gospel centered way.  I was SO encouraged throughout each chapter of this book.  Furman challenged the reader to stop getting frustrated when one of your children wakes up during your quiet time.  Instead she says to look at all of a mother's tasks throughout the day as worship.

When I became a mother I had been warned about the sleepless nights, what it might be like to become a parent, feedings, scheduling, cloth diapers, etc.  I was completely unprepared for how my "quiet time" life would change.  For years I had been incredibly blessed to spend long periods of time (think 1/2 hour to 1 hour) daily uninterrupted each morning learning about God, spending time in deep prayer, journaling, and believing that I was really growing in my walk with the Lord.  When I had my first child Eli it turned my whole quiet time world upside down.  He seemed to have (and still does have) a special gift for waking up before I was finished no matter what time of day (or night) I woke up.

Gloria Furman understands that which is what I found so refreshing about this book!  She doesn't provide a step by step plan for helping the reader to make life all about them.  What Furman does is point the reader to what they really need which is Christ.  No mother is ever going to be perfect but thankfully we have a Savior whose grace is sufficient to cover all of our sins and the "mommy guilt" that we all carry.  I cannot commend this book enough for those of you who long for Jesus while your hands are filled with little ones.  (Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book from Crossway in exchange for this review which did not have to be favorable.)

Growing Up Duggar: It's All About Relationships by Jana, Jill, Jessa, & Jinger Duggar: This book written by the four oldest Duggar girls is an interesting glimpse into their lives and what it is like to grow up in the Duggar family.  Honestly I felt like the book is really geared towards single ladies who are in their late teens/early twenties but I did enjoy the book.  I loved hearing more stories about their lives and it really made me think about how I hope to raise my own daughter.

The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk: Foreword by Martha Sears, RN by Lisa West and Lisa Marasco: I haven't had serious trouble with my milk supply but I do have friends that have.  I picked this book up out of sheer curiosity and a desire to encourage others.  I did have some issues with Evangeline the first week or so when she wasn't gaining weight as quickly as they would have liked so I am familiar with pumping and supplementation.  (If you have seen any pictures of Eva from the past 5 months you know she is gaining like a champ!)  This book was very thorough and seemed to address every issue that might be hindering one from making more milk.  If you are struggling with low milk I would recommend this book AND a visit to a lactation consultant or La Leche League Leader.

Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste by Bea Johnson: This book was all about the home and lifestyle of the Johnson who family who accumulates only 1 quart of garbage every 6 months.  I was intrigued after watching this video about their family.  While I don't believe that my family will ever completely embrace Zero Waste living, I was encouraged to do our part to: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot.  What do you think?  Could you ever see your family living a zero waste lifestyle?

Have you read any great books lately that you would like to recommend?  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Frugal Things I Did Last Week

Sweet Evangeline
This past week has been busy but filled with fun!  Here are a few of the things we did to save money last week:

My top frugal thing from last week was probably the shower that I threw a shower for my sister-in-law to be.  This was my first time ever throwing a shower and wow did I learn a lot.  :)  It was a lot of fun but also fairly time consuming.  I am really excited to welcome Amber into our family.  Thankfully I was able to borrow tons of beautiful silk flower decorations from a friend who used the same colors in her wedding.  I also borrowed tablecloths from 3 different people so I didn't have to purchase any.  We did use paper plates and napkins but everything else was reusable.  We used real silverware and mason jars.  I taught myself how to make a Cupcake Wedding Dress Cake by watching YouTube instead of purchasing an expensive cake from the bakery.  You can see more pictures and details for the shower here.

The Dessert Table at Amber's Shower is a good example of how having a nice party doesn't have to cost a fortune.  The silk flowers and silk white fabric in the vase was borrowed.  The vase I had on hand.  I purchased the cupcake tower from amazon months ago when it hit rock bottom.  There is a purple tablecloth underneath and a lace tablecloth on top-both of which were borrowed.  The cupcake wrappers were purchased on clearance at JoAnns.  The ribbon on the cupcake dress was purchased using a coupon.  :)  My mother purchased the napkins and paper plates.
A friend hosted a busy bag swap at her house.  I made Felt Cupcake Busy Bags.  I had all of the felt on hand so this didn't even cost anything out of pocket.  Each attendee took supplies to make enough busy bags for everyone in attendance and then we swapped at the end of the party.  It was so much fun and I love having new games and activities for Elijah. 

I passed on a bag of boy clothes and toys to a friend. 

I breastfed my baby all week. 

I planted more flowers, romaine lettuce, and sweet onion seeds in the float bed. 

I received a Staples rebate check.  We are depositing this into our account and sending the extra $ towards the bill for Evangeline's birth.  Our goal is to pay this off by the end of April if possible.  I have already negotiated large discounts on almost all of the bills relating to her birth so now we just need to pay them off! 

My mom gifted us with a huge bag of farm raised beef.  Such a treat! 

I ordered a free subscription to Horse and Rider from Mercury Magazines for my sister.

I sold 3 books on amazon for Brandon.  We recently went through our books and pulled out a pile to sell.  So far I have listed 20 of them and sold 5.  We have probably only made a couple of dollars but everything adds up! 

I received a calendar from Shutterfly that was free.  I did have to pay around $7 for shipping but the calendar is really nice!  (I had actually made the calendar in December and I couldn't get the coupon code to work at that time.)  It was fun to surprise Brandon with a "just because gift." 

I tagged along to a conference with the happy hubby.  We didn't have to pay for the conference or the hotel so this was a real treat! 

What frugal things did you do last week?