Family Photo Friday


Friday is here again! Let the good times roll! :-) And the month of April is coming to a close already. May is just around the corner... and all of the splendor of spring with it! Friday around here means the posting of family photos. Here are a few shots from our week.

This picture cracks me up. My son dumped ALL of the crayons onto the table. When it came time to pick them up, he insisted that he needed to go get his "crane" from the bathroom. I had no clue what he was talking about. He returns with a mini hair clip and starts to pick up the crayons one by one with the hair clip! Silly, silly boy!

Adopted Grandparents Greg and Ruth came by last weekend with some Easter gifts for the kids. One gift was a memory card game. When all the cards were punched out of the grids, we had 6 grids that looked like window panes. So my daughter and I drew pictures and used the grids to make them look like a neat window scene.

My son loves to be working alongside Daddy. Here he put his "car" up on the ramps, just as Daddy had done.

And here is the little man's lawnmower next to Daddy's big mower. Side by side. So cute.

My daughter made this Lego bridge with an American flag in it (see it - the blue area for the stars and the red and white stripes). Creative play.

This picture represents hours and hours of work for me this week. Stored in my basement are almost 100 of these Avon boxes, full of children's clothes. These clothes were stored at my mother-in-law's home until recently when I took over the storage. It is FINALLY time to do some serious sorting. This picture shows approximately 40 boxes, which is what is left after pulling out all stained/old/torn clothes (which was about 15 boxes worth). I also pulled out about 4 boxes of items that may be worth something at the consignment shop. No guarantee, but it's worth a try. I also pulled out 3 boxes of items that I want to keep for future children or foster children. All of what is left will attempt to be sold at a garage sale or craigslist sale to someone who can use them. These boxes represent ONLY the girls clothes from size infant through size 5! I haven't even began with the size 6 up through 16 or the boys clothes! But I am pleased with what's been accomplished so far... and it motivates me to continue on!

Happy weekend to one and all!

On Being Content


Contentment is a pearl of great price, and whoever procures it at the expense of ten thousand desires makes a wise and happy purchase. -John Balguy

Being content. What a struggle for all of us! To be content truly does cost ten thousand desires... to give them up, let them go, set expectations aside. To simply be content with what is, what we have, who we are.

Working on this one today!

Simplicity and Holidays

"Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful" - John Maeda



Like everyone else, I struggle to keep life simple. It takes intentionality to say no to busyness and yes to simplicity. Otherwise, the chaos tends to rule the day and keep us running from one thing to another and another and life is anything but simple.

This Easter season, like every one before it, came with lots of expectations. I tend to expect a lot out of myself, my children and lif
e in general around holidays. Somehow I slip into thinking that there are 48 hours in each day and I will have plenty of time to... make that Easter wreath I found in a magazine, do those special Easter crafts I wanted to do with my kids each day of holy week, enjoy special prayer time and read a special devotional book to supplement my Bible reading during the weeks leading up to Easter.

Then reality hits. We're sick. Our van breaks down. We're behind in homeschooling. I've over-committed to things at church.

But as I've gone through this cycle over the years, I n
ow can see the lesson behind it. And instead of going on a guilt trip, feeling like a lousy mom or wife because I can't fit all of the extras in, I have found a way to escape it.


Instead of adding something else to an already crowded day, I ask myself if I can find a way to do something we're already doing just a little bit differently, thus making it "special."

This year, we did very little to prepare for Easter. However, starting on Palm Sunday, we picked up the Bible and read about Jesus' last week on earth and discussed the events together. We did this around the table while we ate or on Sunday morning, I read it in the van while my husband drove us to church. It didn't take major amounts of time or advance planning. It only required me to find a Bible, turn to the end of the gospels and start reading aloud.

It was simple.

But it was also profound. We all enjoyed it. My daughter had some questions. At the end of it all, I too felt like I hadn't let the season pass without some extra reflection on the life and sacrifice of Christ.

One other thing we did was also very simple. My daughter and I made unleavened bread to enjoy on Thursday, as we discussed Jesus' last supper with his disciples.

This lesson of simplicity comes back to me many times a year, but especially at Christmas and Easter. My hopes soar. I would love to spend hours on grand projects centered around the holiday themes. Yet, my days are consistently too short to accomplish much more than the day-to-day. But to find one or maybe two small ways (yes, small - keep it small) to change our day-to-day routines into something special that my kids will remember and something that makes the time meaningful for me as well - this is the key for me. Always coming back to simplicity.

Easter Celebration


Easter. A special time of year. All mixed together we find...

Faith because Jesus is alive!

Food during our family gatherings

Fun like hunting for Easter eggs

Fashion and girls in pretty new dresses!

Trusting that you enjoyed your holiday weekend and remembered what Easter is all about!

We serve a Risen Savior!

Saving for College


We regularly set aside some funds for our kids' college education. One such administrator of a 529 Savings Plan that we have used College Advantage.

They currently offer a $25 bonus when you open a new account, with as little as a $25 initial investment. The offer is good through April 30th. Just click on the icon on the upper right of the homepage.

Every little bit helps!

Family Photo Friday


Friday is here once again. April is running away from us! As is my usual custom on Fridays, I have a few photos to share with you.

This is my daughter with the space shuttle model kit that she put together for her 4H Fair Project for this year. It's early, I know. But we were out and about, near Hobby Lobby, so we stopped in to find a kit. Once we brought it home, she was asking to do it immediately. So although the fair isn't until July, her project is done. She enjoyed it... maybe she'll do another model just because it was fun!

My daughter is in Girl Scouts. Here she is with her new vest and her pins - the ones on the right side - which she received last week during her "investiture" ceremony, as she became an official Girl Scout.

Our neighbor Sarah (age 13 now) always enjoys coming over and playing with my kids. And they love Sarah too!

My girl and me... she's growing up before my eyes! Happy Friday to one and all! And remember this Sunday is Resurrection Sunday! Jesus is alive!

Deals Around Town


It's a great week for deals around town, in preparation for Easter!

At CVS this week, I picked up everything shown in this picture for around $1 and these purchases generated $5 in Extra Care Bucks (like a CVS gift card to use on future purchases). That included: 2 gallons of skim milk, 3 cans of black olives (our family LOVES black olives, though they are only for an occasional treat), 1 bag of green Easter grass and 1 Paas egg-coloring kit.

At WalMart this week, I found dozens of deals and picked up multiple free items.

In this picture is everything that I picked up for free or better-than-free (meaning that I used a coupon that was for more than the purchase price but they took off the full amount of the coupon). Free Nivea body wash for men, free Nivea body was for women, 4 free Reach dental floss, 2 free Reach flossers, 1 free Degree trial-sized deoderent, 2 free packs of gum, 1 free pack of M&Ms, 1 free tube of Poligrip (not for our household use!), 1 free Purex 3-in-1 laundry package, 1 free coffee creamer and 5 free Similac ready-to-feed formula containers (will be donated to homeless shelter). All of it was completely free. Much of it was better than free. The Similac formula, for example, cost $3.84. I had a coupon for $5 off any Similac product. WalMart puts those coupons through for $5, so it's a bit like WalMart is paying me $1.16 to take that item out of their store! Amazing, I know! And totally legit! That $1.16 is called overage and you can use it to help you buy other items that do cost money. I used the overage to help me buy some fresh fruits and veggies and a few other grocery items that I didn't have coupons for.

All of the items in this picture were also from WalMart and cost less than $1 each after coupons. Colgate toothpaste, Taco Bell taco sauce, French's dijon mustard, McCormick black pepper, Ken's ranch dressing, Dole pineapple, 3 bags of Steamfresh veggies, 2 bags of shredded cheese, 2 bags of Kraft homestyle mac and cheese, 1 Viola skillet entree. Each item was anywhere from 18 cents to $1 after coupons - a great price for any of these brand-name products!

I love to watch my subtotal come down and down and down as the coupons are swiped. My total at WalMart went from $103 down to $40.20 (that included items not in these photos). It takes some advance planning to get such a deal, but it definitely pays off in the end!

Those are the best deals I found this week. My secret is to let others do most of the work for me. I check Money Saving Mom and a few other similar sites that list the store deals and match up the coupons for me. All I do is find those coupons (whether online or from the Sunday newspaper inserts) and take them to the store to make the purchases.

Another tip is that WalMart will price match any other current store ad. I knew that Walgreens had eggs on sale this week for $1.29 a dozen. WalMart's price was higher, so I asked them to price match and they did. I also knew that grapes were on sale at my local Kroger for 99 cents a pound, at least 50 cents less per pound that WalMart's price. So I asked them to price match Kroger and they did. That saved me a few dollars as well... just by knowing the deals at other stores and asking them to price match. And it saved me a trip to Walgreens for eggs and Kroger for grapes - got it all in one place at the lowest price.

Found any deals lately? I'd love to hear about them!

Works for Me Wednesday - Serving the Homeless


Last night we headed to the local homeless shelter to serve dinner, alongside our friends Josh and Christie.

This is seriously such a simple thing to do, yet we all enjoy it so much!

When we started this, over a year ago, we just showed up to serve on the day we had chosen. I had talked with the agency's volunteer coordinator to pick a day that they could use our help. Easy. Show up. Just do what the cook and other workers tell you to do.

After that first time, we told them that we would not only show up but wanted to also bring one part of the meal - usually the dessert. This means that both Christie and I bake tons of cookies to bring with us to serve.

Now we've taken a step further - we bring enough fruit to serve 100 people, along with the cookies and we show up to serve! We decided after last night, though, that we'd try to do even more next time, maybe by providing the vegetable dish too.

There is power in service. It is humbling. It is truly taking the nature of a servant. There is something so special about looking into the eyes of another human being who is hurting and at least for a moment helping meet their needs. To be a small part of the solution feels good and is simply the right thing to do. Not to mention that we always walk away with a new appreciation for all that we have. We are blessed with so much. Why? To be a blessing to others!

Without a doubt, the homeless shelter nearest to you would LOVE to have you volunteer every now and again to serve a meal! Right now, head to Google and put in the name of a local rescue mission. Find their website and contact information. Call them and ask to speak with their volunteer or meal coordinator. Ask them when the next available evening is to come and serve a meal. Schedule it. And do it! You'll be glad you did!

Serving the homeless - it works for me!

Homeschool: Girl Scouts and Origami


Last week our Girl Scout troop learned how to make Origami Cranes. In this picture, the girls are showing off their "tiaras." We named different steps in the process and at this stage our creations looked more like tiaras or crowns than cranes... but we were just two steps away from having finished cranes.

This craft was centered around the current disasters in Japan. When 9/11 happened, the Girl Scouts of Japan sent 1000 paper cranes to the Girl Scouts of America as a show of support during a difficult time. Now, the tables are turned and we want to show our support for Japan. The 1000 cranes are symbolic in Japan as a sign of support and well-wishing. Our troop is made up of Christians, so we didn't just make the cranes but also prayed for those suffering in Japan as well.

If you've never tried Origami... well, it's hard! There is special thin paper made from rice that makes the folding easier. However, there are still a dozen or so steps involved and keeping them straight is a challenge.

The combined efforts of all of the local Girl Scout troops made the local paper (you can read that article by clicking here).

Monday, Monday


It's Monday. I'm still reeling from lack of sleep and stress from the weekend.

For me, it all started Friday night. We got our son put to bed around 7 pm and were having a usual evening.

Then the phone rang. It was our foster agency asking if we would be willing to take in a sibling group of girls ages 6, 5, and 3. We said yes, absolutely yes! [By the way, these calls are always bittersweet. Yes, it means we can help out, to do what we have been trained and prepared to do. But it also means that children are in danger or hurting, which is always heart-breaking]

I prepared to pick up the girls from their school, about a 25 minute drive from our home. I took off, while my husband stayed home with our children (since our son was in bed already).

On my way there, our van died. It's old. We were told by a mechanic a few months ago that it was "on its last leg." Well, it died while I was in transit.

We do not own cell phones, so I walked to a nearby house and borrowed their phone to call my hubby. He called a neighbor to come watch our kids. He hopped in the car to come pick me up... but not before taking another call from our foster agency. This time they were calling to say that upon further investigation, the children are going to be staying with a friend of the family and not detained in foster care so we don't need to come. [By the way, we rejoice in the fact that the children can be kept together and be safe in an environment with friends of the family. This is the next best situation to them being at home with their parents.]

My hubby came and met me, filled me in on the situation and looked over the van. Yes, it was dead. He couldn't revive it. We pushed it to a legitimate parking spot on the side of the street and rode home together in our car. [By the way, after hearing that our van was about to die last fall, we purchased a super cheap, really old but running used car - for which we are now very thankful]

So the weekend that was already somewhat packed with activities and projects became even busier as we now shared a vehicle and shopped for a new van. [By the way, we are so thankful for a large tax refund we received this year and have been holding onto for the purchase of another van, when our van died]

That's where we find ourselves currently. Still sharing a vehicle. No used van has been found to purchase. We did get our van to a fix-it shop where they will look at it today. If it's a cheap fix, we can go with it. If not, we will not put much money into a van that we already know has some other major issues.

I'm tired. It was a much different weekend than what we had anticipated. But we are trusting that God is at work in this situation - both to work it out for our good and to grow Holy Spirit fruit in our lives. We're thankful that the van died when I was alone, as opposed to with 3 foster children I barely had met... or with my other 2 kids... or after dark... or in a worse part of town... or during our recent trip to Wisconsin... or any number of other things that would have been much worse!

As I recount all of this, I can so clearly see how God's hand has already been involved throughout this ordeal. He has prepared a second vehicle. He has given us wisdom to save up the tax refund money for a need such as we now have. He has protected and provided already. Thank You, Lord, for what You have done and will continue to do in this situation.

Over and out... zonked out! :-)

Deals Around Town


I made a quick trip to CVS this week. I picked up everything in this picture for 74 cents! I consider that to be a successful shopping trip!

*I Box of Contact Solution
*2 CVS Hand Sanitzer
*6 Mentos Gum
*1 Russell Stover Easter Egg
*1 Hershey Candy Bar

I had $10 in Extra Care Bucks (ECBs - like a gift card that can be used for future CVS purchases) when I entered the store. I also had a rain check for an item that was on sale last week but was sold out. I also had some free item coupons that I'd printed at home from last week when they were being super generous.

When I entered CVS, I went straight to the coupon printing machine. This is always my first stop in the store. Why? Because sometimes you can score a coupon like I did on this visit - $4 off a purchase of $20.

I made sure I bought just $20 worth of products (hence, the gum which was my filler item). Then I used the $4 off coupon. Then I handed over the other coupons I had which brought my total down to about $11. Then I gave them the $10 Extra Care Bucks and I only had to pay 74 cents! I also walked out of the store with $10 in Extra Care Bucks for a future purchase.

Can you see why I love CVS?!

Family Photo Friday


It's Friday once again! It's been a full week for us. We watched our little buddy Eli 3 days this week and were busy with errands and Girl Scouts on 2 other days. Our week flew by. This Sunday is Palm Sunday and then Easter will be on its heels.

Here's little Eli, happy as can be. He is walking very well now and eating some table food. He's 13 months old now.

My good friend Leah and her 3 children came over one morning this week. Here she is with her youngest son and with my son. Yes, Princess Leah is wearing a crown - the kids were playing dress up! :-)

As a brand-new brand-new Girl Scout, my daughter got her new vest and iron-on patches. She is officially inducted into the troop this morning and will receive a few more pins.
My 3-year-old son did a painting project this week, using washable paints and some leftover wood from one of Daddy's projects. I think this may have been his first time painting.

Last Sunday morning we made homemade cinnamon rolls to take to our church breakfast. Just thought the rolls looked so perfect, I wanted to grab a shot of them.

Spring finally arrived this week - bringing some warmer temps and budding flowers with it! These beautiful daffodils are blooming outside my kitchen window. I love spring flowers!

Happy Spring and Happy Friday to you!

Thankful Thursday


It really is the little things in life that we take for granted and don't realize how much we appreciate them until we have to live without them!

Take doing laundry, for instance.

When first married, my hubby and I lived in downtown Chicago in a very small one-bedroom apartment. Laundry facilities for the entire building were a few stories below us so we hauled our laundry (and a stack of quarters) there once a week.

When we then moved back to northern Indiana with our newborn baby girl, we were again in an apartment with no laundry facilities in our unit. However, we were now living closer to my husband's parents who graciously allowed us to do all of our laundry at their house. Bless my mother-in-law's heart, she washed, dried and folded most of it for us each week!

When we then purchased our first home, we had a "laundry room" but it was totally demolished during the major remodeling job of the kitchen and bathroom and laundry room. It was unfinished for almost 2 years (you can read about the remodel and see pictures here), during which time we continued to let my mother-in-law bless us! :-)

When we finally had laundry facilities in our own home, available to use 24 hours a day without inserting coins... I was ecstatic! I don't know if anyone was ever so excited to do laundry!

And that feeling has never really gone away. I actually enjoy doing laundry and seeing the pile of dirty clothes dwindle in size.

Sometimes when we do without something, we can more clearly see its value. Now I no longer take my washer or dryer for granted. Instead I am thankful that I have such conveniences because I well remember the inconvenience of not having them!

So today I am thankful for washers and dryers.

What are you most thankful for today?

Works for Me Wednesday - The Library


I know a place where you can go and find almost any book imaginable and take it home and read it at your leisure... for free! The only catch is that when you're finished, you have to return it for someone else to have the chance to enjoy it. Better still, these places exist in almost every city in America, so I can almost guarantee you have one nearby!

What is this magical place, this book-readers paradise?


We have gotten so much use out of our local library in recent weeks. My daughter is reading through the Boxcar Children series. She is reading them at the rate of one per day and there is no way that I could afford (or have to room to store) all of the books in the series. This is where the library comes in so handy! We can find the books ourselves on their shelves or I can put a book on hold from my home computer and it will be waiting for me to stop by to check it out. I'm working a few books ahead of my daughter currently, to have the next book she needs ready and waiting.

And my son, being 3, is not reading yet but loves to look at picture books or "I Spy" books or pop-up books. All of these are readily available in the children's section of the library, even categorized and labeled to make finding these types of books very easy.

And the absolute best benefit of all is that all of these wonderful books and resources are available to us for FREE (because public libraries are funded through public money - taxes).

So make use of it! The library exists for you!

The library - it works for me!

Homeschool: Girl Scouts


My daughter is now a Girl Scout.

I learned of a local homeschooling Girl Scout troop a few weeks ago. Knowing nothing about Girl Scouts (besides the fact that they sell delicious cookies), I began asking questions to learn more about what Girl Scouts do and
believe and who can join. We attended the next meeting of this local troop to see what that was like and meet some of the girls (and moms). It didn't take long for both my daughter and I to reach the same conclusion: this is something that she would enjoy and from which she would benefit.

To join now meant paying a pro-rated membership fee, as the usual membership covers September through May. It also meant that we just missed the selling of Girl Scout cookies, but we did join just in time for the girls' party to celebrate their cookie sales! This hardly seemed right, that my daughte
r's first Girl Scout event was a party to celebrate all of the hard work that the girls had put forth... when my daughter had done exactly NOTHING. But they insisted that we were welcome since we had now joined.

The party was last Friday and was a lot of fun. The troop leader put in hours and hours of time preparing and it showed. The kids really enjoyed themselves, as you can see from these pictures.

All the girls were dressed as fairies or princesses. Beautiful, just beautiful. And all of this delicious food too! The party was held inside a greenhouse, so it was 70 degrees with lush vegetation (making all of us forget the 40 degrees and drizzle that waited for us outside).

Here the girls are eating. My daughter is on the right side, looking at the camera.

For a craft, the girls had these huge teacup pots they used as planters for some small houseplants and lots of other "decorations" like acorns, feathers, mirrors, mushrooms (we'd made these the week before out of clay and then baked them to harden), silk butterflies, etc. This was a very neat idea that all of the kids enjoyed.

Enough about the party, though. Here's what I see as the benefits of my daughter joining Girl Scouts:
1) Many Girl Scout projects can be considered Art and/or Science, as it relates to homeschooling. Projects might involve studying the parts of a plant or studying constellations... and are laid out in a handbook that the girls work through in order to earn their "badge" of completion for that project. Since Art and Science are more difficult subjects for me to tackle, I like the idea of using the Girl Scout projects as part of our homeschooling curriculum in those areas.
2) The ideals of the Girl Scouts coincide with our family's ideals (you can read the Girl Scout promise and law here). These are the same values we're trying to instill in my daughter at home - integrity, friendship, courage, compassion, responsibility - so I see Girl Scouts as another way for her to hear that message.
3) My daughter is naturally shy and Girl Scouts will provide another way for her to enjoy friendships with other young ladies close to her age, in a supervised setting. I like the fact that the group is not only supervised but also is working together to accomplish something. This to me is very important - it's not just hanging out to have fun, but it's being together to do something together (learning together, serving the community together, etc).
4) Since this is a homeschooling troop, the meetings can take place during the day and that is a benefit for our family. Time in the evenings when my husband is home from work is valuable family time together. To be able to take part in Girl Scouts without cutting into that time together as a family is important to me. Daytime meetings also mean that siblings will be there, so my son is welcome to attend with us and play with the other young siblings (he'll be embarrassed by this later, but he will probably be considered an honorary Girl Scout :-))

So we are looking forward to what Girl Scouts has to offer and I'm sure I'll be posting more about it in the future.

Book Review: Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure

A few weeks back, I won a copy of the book Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure. Since the subtitle is: motivation for physical and spiritual fitness, it was appropriate that I read most of the book while jogging on the treadmill!

I enjoyed the personal stories that Candace shared. Some from her years of acting on Full House. Some from her family as she grew up. And many from her current life as a wife and mom.

But the bulk of the book is real-life encouragement for those of us trying to become more physically fit. As a committed Christian, Candace shares Bible verses to back up points she makes and she generally has a biblical worldview that comes through the words of the book. She also shared a favorite recipe at the end of each chapter, which is a practical way to encourage readers to try some healthier food options.

Candace shares many practical words of advice. She gave numerous examples of what accountability can look like. She devoted a chapter to helping us appreciate the life, health, body, spirit and mind God gave to us, regardless of whether we think we could shed a few pounds or be more disciplined. She focused on the need for follow-through when we've made up our mind to make changes - and listed out some ways to keep that momentum going when the going gets tough.

I appreciated the chapter that focused on self-discipline in all areas of life (from physical fitness to eating in moderation to a maintaining clutter-free home). This is an area of my life that God has been dealing with me on already, so that chapter confirmed what He was already speaking to me about.

I liked the fact that the book didn't just focus on the physical, but tied in the mental side of things, as well as the spiritual. In that way, the focus was more on the whole person and not just on weight loss or even just physical health.

I was challenged in some ways.

I was encouraged in many ways.

I admit this is the first fitness-type book I've ever read. And I probably would not have picked this one up except for the fact that I won it and it appeared on my doorstep! But I appreciated this book and would recommend it to anyone else on this trek towards physical fitness (not from an obsession-with-looking-good perspective, but rather a Biblical seeing-myself-as-God-sees-me perspective).

Two thumbs up for Reshaping It All!

Family Photo Friday


Friday is here once again. As always, I am posting some photos from our week.

My kids absolutely LOVE building blanket houses. Here is my son under the card table, prior to the blankets covering it (and him) completely.

Our weather has SLOWLY begun to be more spring-like. My daughter asked one day if she could spend "quiet time" (an hour or so of quiet, reading time each afternoon while little brother naps) outside. I agreed. Here she is, all bundled up but enjoying her Boxcar Children book.

My daughter enjoyed lots of time in the kitchen this week. Unfortunately I didn't snap any photos of her or her creations. Monday we made an apple pie, from scratch, together. Tuesday she and my husband made homemade caramel corn. Wednesday she found a recipe for Bananaberry Bread (banana bread with blueberries) and made it all by herself. On Thursday we dipped strawberries in melted white chocolate for a party we have on Friday. I've enjoyed her helpfulness and enthusiasm for being in the kitchen. I can only hope it continues!

Happy Friday to you!

More Deals Around Town


I made a trip to CVS yesterday and took home a bag full of deals!

For everything in the picture, I paid around $21 and got back $10 in Extra Care Bucks (ECBs - like a gift card to use on future purchases at CVS).

1 big box of diapers (this alone usually costs around $20)
1 Oral-B rechargeable toothbrush (I had a rain check from last year when this was deeply discounted and generated ECBs in return; this is usually priced around $35)
6 Dawn dish soaps (99 cents this week and I had coupons making it even less)
1 Crest mouth wash
2 Oral-B manual toothbrushes
1 Aussie shampoo
1 Herbal Essence hair gel
2 candy bars that failed to make it into the picture

How did I do it?
*Sales - check out the sales ad, even a few days in advance by signing up at
*Coupons - check out sites like for a list of the current week's sales and where to find coupons to make those sale prices even lower
*Using ECBs I'd already earned from a previous purchase to pay for these purchases, which generated new ECBs. This is called rolling and I try to keep my ECBs rolling as much as possible, to keep my actual out-of-pocket costs very low.
*CVS released a coupon this week for $5 off a $40 purchase, if you "like" them on Facebook. This coupon could be used in conjunction with others to make the grand total even less.

I have been taking a break from "the drug store game" and focusing more on other things. But the deals this week and the extra coupons I had available compelled me to make the trip. I'm glad I did. It feels good to get a great deal!

Foster Parenting - Log #9


It's been many months since I've written an update on our foster parenting situation. The reason: there is nothing to report.

I am as surprised by this as anyone.

When we were licensed last fall, we heard from many people that we would likely "have a placement before the ink on our license is dry." We were under the impression that there is quite a need for more foster parents and we would very likely be needed right away to take in a child or two.

Yet months have gone by with very little activity at all. We had one foster child in December, for only 2 weeks. Otherwise, we have had no calls at all. And it is not just us.

All of our county's foster parents received a letter last month stating that there has been a significant decrease in funding in the state of Indiana for foster parenting. The state Dept. of Child Services is to make every effort to keep children in their original home or to place them with relatives.

This is a difficult issue and I see both sides of it. On the one hand, I understand needing to balance the budget and make cuts wherever possible. It is more cost effective for the State to provide counseling and parenting classes and other helpful services to the families, while keeping the family together, than it is to pay for foster care for those children. As a strong proponent of living on a balanced budget, I can certain understand the need to cut costs and save money.

On the other hand, I suspect there will be children left in abusive or neglectful homes as a result of these budget cuts. I question if this is the best place to cut funds. I don't think it is, if even one child could end up staying in an abusive situation and dying as a result.

We are left with a lot of questions. Why did God have us become foster parents in the first place, if only to be licensed but sit idle as the State chooses to not use us? How long do we continue to maintain our license if this current situation continues? Is there some other way to advocate for children and orphans? Will this situation change with a different governor or congress in power?

Since I am in touch with many other foster parents across the United States, I marvel at the uniqueness of our situation. Most other foster parents are in high demand and here we sit for months without a call. It's confusing. It's frustrating. It's not at all the journey we expected to be on.

I'd feel differently if all of a sudden, parents were being better parents and there were simply no more children needing foster care because their home situations were fine. That would be wonderful - for there to be no need for foster parents at all. But instead I know that not all family situations are healthy... but whether kids will stay in those environments comes down to money and politics.

For now, there is nothing for us to do. We remain licensed until this fall, when it's time to renew. In the meantime, we are still taking some training classes to be able to renew when the time comes.

Right now, we're still feeling that God has a particular child or two out there that He will lead our way; that there is a reason He brought us this far.

So we wait.

Deals Around Town


Here are some FREE products we picked up at Kroger this week.

Kroger recently had a sale on Ronzoni pasta, for 49 cents per box. The shelves were bare so we got a rain-check, allowing us to come back any time in the next 30 days to pick up the pasta at that low price. To make the deal even sweeter, we had coupons for $1 off 2 Ronzoni pastas. So we bought 2 for 98 cents and used a coupon for $1 off - getting them completely free and even "making" money on the deal! I told my daughter that this is like the store paying us a few cents to take these items from them! We had enough coupons to get 8 boxes of pasta completely free (this is more pasta than we will go through in the near future, so we will donate many of these boxes to our church food pantry).

The Jello Temptations were also free. When introducing a new products, some companies will send out coupons to encourage folks to try the item for free. I had one of those coupons, thanks to (a site that sends out many coupons and sample products).

Got to love deals like these!

Have you found anything free lately? I'd love to hear about it.

Checking In: March Update

I'm a few days late, but wanted to give an update on my March progress towards my 2011 goals.

Spiritual Goal: Read through the Bible in one year. I'm 4 days behind in my reading, but will be caught up by week's end. One of the benefits of a yearly Bible reading plan is that you read parts of the Bible you otherwise might skip over (like the book of Leviticus!). This time through I've seen some things I've never noticed before. I LOVE that about the Bible - it's deep, yet the simplest mind can understand it. It's still living and active and speaking to us today... even from those parts we have found dry or dull before.

Physical Goal: Lower my cholesterol and become more physically fit. Now, I have to tell you that February was an awesome month, where I exercised 15 out of 28 days!
I'm ashamed to admit I was a slacker in March! I exercised only 8 times in 31 days. March was a month that included me being sick, my kids being sick, and being out of town for my grandmother's funeral for 5 days. So, I need to get back on the exercise bandwagon in April! I am encouraged and am making some progress, albeit slowly. I am confident that my cholesterol will be lowered (by how much, I don't know) when I have it checked again this summer. I do find that I feel better about myself and have a better outlook on life when I have exercised. It is becoming easier to fit into my routine too, which makes it feel more like "this is just something I do as part of my regular day" and less like it's optional.

Growth Goal: show self-control and avoid anger "blow ups." Success in this area is difficult to measure, but I do see progress. One of the ways I know this is getting better is the general tone or atmosphere in my home. You know how it is - Mom and Dad really set the tone in the home. They will determine if the home is a peaceful place or a place of conflict, strife and irritability. The more self-control I exhibit, the more peaceful my home is. And I have sensed a more peaceful environment lately, more comfortable and relaxed and less uptight and tense.

Two other things have happened recently that are areas of growth, though not necessarily ones I set goals to work on this year. I guess the Lord has other goals in mind for us sometimes! First, I was able to maintain my composure at my grandmother's funeral, while I read a special poem (it was the Hands Poem found here). This was no small thing. Although God has given me some abilities to speak and perform in public, it does not come easy. And to do so while feeling loss and grief is quite a challenge. But I am so glad that I said I would share. It meant a lot to me and I wanted to do it for my grandma's sake. I thank the Lord for seeing me through it and for the growth in this area that I see.

Secondly, I agreed in January to teach our young adult Sunday School class. I've taught Sunday School before, for both children and adults. The difference is that it has always been for a limited time. I always knew that I had to teach for 4 weeks or 10 weeks and then I was done. This time, I took on a class with no end date. I was it, unless someone else spoke up and wanted to teach. So I have been teaching each week, working through the book Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges. I think I'll write some posts in the future on some of the content of the book and class. It's gone well, I think, and I can see how God is using this teaching opportunity to teach me and grow me. Amazing how that works - the teacher being the one to learn the most!

So that is my update. Slowly I'm plodding along, inching ever closer to my goals. But at least I'm making forward movement! That encourages me to continue on and take the next step!

Here is my initial listing of my goals for 2011.

And here is my previous progress report.

Family Photo Friday


Friday is here and April is here. Another turn of the calendar. Days, weeks and months are just flying by.

As always on a Friday, here are some pictures from our week that I want to share with you.

A together shot of my kids. My daughter has lost her 4th tooth now, including the two top front teeth. So she has the hole in her teeth that makes saying "th" and "s" sounds difficult. Lots of fun.

Here is my son, playing around with a clown nose. It's on his finger, not his nose, though. :-) Silly boy!

It's still been quite cool this week, but my kids headed outside for some recess time anyway. Bikes and scooters have been brought down from the garage attic, though temps remain in the 40s and low 50s. Winter is still holding on this year...

My husband is so good about spending time with our kids when he gets home from work. Here he's playing catch with our daughter.

The Lord holds our days in His hands. None of us are promised our next breath. When my time is up, I want to be ready and I want to know I've lived a faithful life in obedience to my Lord. Praying the same for you!

Happy April to one and all!