Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Life24/7

Daddy's Little Helper


Snowy Fun at Dusk

Shop a lot, Spend a little

I like to save money.  This is good because, quite honestly, our budget relies on it.  I'm not the crazy coupon lady.  I don't want to be that person because as important as it is for me to save money, there are other things that are more important.  I like the place that budgeting and coupon clipping has in my life, and I don't intend on changing that any time soon.  

Although I do clip coupons and scour fliers and online websites for good deals, a big part of the way that I save money is simply by common sense.  I try to pay attention to when certain items go on sale and stock up at those times.  For instance, I know I can get great deals on office supplies in July and August at stores like Staples.  Another example is that frozen foods go on sale in many grocery stores in March.  Combine these good deals with a few coupons and you suddenly have a very good time to stock up on food items that will keep for a quite a while.

Another cost-effective fact that I've learned is that clothing clearance racks are at their fullest immediately after Christmas and at the end of the summer.  Think about it... Stores stock up for the busy Christmas season and then have to quickly unload what's left in order to make room for Spring/Summer lines of clothing.  Similarly, at the end of the summer, stores are quickly getting rid of all the bathing suits and sunglasses to make room for back to school and fall lines, soon followed by winter/Christmas (and getting earlier every year it seems...).  So if you're okay with being a season behind in your attire, right now is a great time to get some deals on clothing.  

Even though the stores are empty and many people are relieved to take a break from the shopping, you now know that for me January means clearance racks - and with the coming of my little girl this summer, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world of pink, purple and ruffles!  

So where have I shopped?  Well, I went to JCPenny and, well, let's just say the trip did not go as planned.  My precious little boy ended up having a huge meltdown in the store (a rare thing) and my husband took him to the car.  So, feeling pressed for time, I hurried to at least look through the maternity section since I was in desperate need of a pair of jeans.  The result was:

 $25 maternity jeans (a pretty good deal) - $14 from a gift card = $11 maternity jeans

Unfortunately I never made it to any other section in the store.  It happens.  Oh well.  

A few days later my mother-in-law and I went shopping at Kohl's and Carter's.  We hit the jackpot at Kohl's.  We found some incredible sales on baby, toddler, and maternity clothes.  I was also excited because (as a Kohl's card carrier... fyi, the only store card I have) I had a coupon for 30% my entire purchase!  Woohoo!  I won't list all of my good deals out because... well, this blog post would end up even longer than it already is... but here are a few items I purchased and their clearance price before my 30% off... 

Cute pink maternity sweater(orginally $56.00) = $5.40
2 Pairs of maternity shorts(originally $40 or >) = $9.40 total
 3 Piece dress outfit for Jadon(originally $56.00) = $11.00
Several infant shirts(originally $13.00) = $2.60 each
Girls dress(originally $34.00) = $10.20

Then another 30% off!  Wow!  It was exciting!  And our husbands (my husband and his father) were actually excited about our buying all of this stuff!  We made our purchase together (so that we could both get the 30% off) and ended up spending just under $100.

My actual Kohl's receipt from this trip with a total savings of $369.89!  Woohoo!!
 
We then went on to the Carter's store and found some more great deals.  I got 3 outfits and 3 pairs of no-scratch newborn mittens for under $24.  Lovin' me some good deals!  This little girl is going to be looking good!

This week I went to Target, but not with the intention of looking at clearance racks (but let's be real here... I have to at least look briefly at them!).  Jadon needed new dress pants, which I found.  But as I combed through some racks of clearance stuff I also found...

2 Infant shirts = $1.50 each
Ruffled skirt w/ leggings = $3.88

And this was the result of a quick look through two clearance racks.  Not bad.  It was not, however, the highlight of my trip to Target.  

When I first entered the section of toddler and baby clothing I noticed probably about 10 big boxes pretty much sitting in the middle of this department on a pallet... like they were just dropped there and forgotten.  My first thought?  Umm... okay.  Real nice.  Could they not put these where they are supposed to go?  Seriously?  Then I noticed a little red sign on top of one of the boxes that said, "Clearance 50%".  Those words are like magic to me.  It was all big baby items, so I immediately was thinking about whether I needed anything.  So, I looked down at the closest box to me and it was none other than a Baby Trend Sit & Stand DX.  For real?!  This is the type of stroller we've been thinking about purchasing for when the baby arrives.  The only thing is, we wouldn't even begin to be able to afford one brand new, so I had recently begun researching what they typically go for on Craig's List.  So, I called Andy to do some quick research online about this stroller to make sure it was definitely what we wanted (since all I had to look at was the box, which wasn't much help).  We concluded it was and I bought it!  

Came mostly assembled, and folds up very small.
So, it must have been a good deal, right?  Well, used strollers like this one were going on Craig's List for between $60 and $100 (the only one I saw for $60 did not appear to be in good condition at all).  Brand new you can typically expect to pay between $140 and $200.  I bought my brand new one for... (drum roll please...) $70!  Yup, I was pretty excited.  Annnnd, my awesome hubby put it together for me that night!  Why?  Well, I watch a one year old 3 days a week and it would be really ideal on nicer days to have a double stroller to go on walks.  Jadon does well walking while holding the side of the stroller, but his little legs are usually pretty tired by the time we are making our way home (especially if our walk has included a stop at the park).  




Assembled in 10 minutes!
So that's pretty much it for my shopping sprees this January.  I've spent enough (although not all that much) and have tons of stuff to go through.  

If you haven't done any clearance shopping this month there's still time.  I picked up a few clearance items at Christmas Tree Shops for 75% off (Christmas items I'll tuck away until next year.).  I've also heard that Old Navy has good clearance items, too.  Do some exploring and see what you can find!  Who knows?  You may just find that double stroller you needed but weren't looking right at your feet!  

~ Carrie ~ 
 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Joy to the Word, the Lord Has Come!

You may be checking the date of this post after reading the title.  Yes, this post was written on Wednesday, January 18, 2012.

When does Christmas end for you?  I know some people who take their tree and all the Christmas decorations down on Christmas day (after opening gifts, of course).  Then I know others who still have their Christmas tree up or just recently took it down (which, honestly, is a little concerning to me at this point if you have a real tree...).  

In my home, the Christmas tree usually comes down the first week in the New Year.  (We had no choice this year as our tree was completely dead.)  As far as other decorations, I limit what a put away to things that are strictly Christmas (for example, anything that says "Merry Christmas", has a picture of the nativity scene on it, or any other purely Christmas references).  This means that yes, I still have my lit garland decorating my house.  I have snowmen still resting on shelves and a big one on my front door.  I still have my "primitive" tree up, adorned with wintery ornaments.  Winter continues, even though Christmas is over (and even though we've had hardly a bit of snow).  

But this blog post is not about home decor... It's about something more important that my son has taught me since coming home from celebrating the holidays with our family.  

The process of taking the Christmas tree and all the Christmas decorations down was a bit difficult for him to understand (in fact, it was a little upsetting to him).  He didn't want the tree to go away, even though there were no more presents under it.  He liked looking at all the ornaments.  He didn't want the various nativity scenes to be packed away... He enjoyed playing with them and telling the Christmas story, in his own cute, unique way.  

As I attempted to explain to him why I was putting all these pretty things away.  Christmas is all done for this year.  Next year, we'll put them back up.  

I could practically see the wheels of his mind turning as he attempted to fully understand what I was telling him.  He seemed somewhat satisfied with my response and continued on with all that a 2 year old does to keep himself busy.  The next morning, after being awake for a bit, Jadon asked me where the Christmas tree went.  I responded with a typical mom response.  

"Jadon, what did Mommy say was going to happen to the tree."

He stopped and thought for a moment and then said, "Mommy and Daddy put it away until next Christmas... when Jesus comes back."


My heart melted (and the pregnancy hormones almost let loose with sobbing, but somehow I managed to contain myself).  This may seem to be an cute, innocent comment, but to me it was not only confirmation that he at least is beginning to understand the concept of why the birth of Jesus is so important; but it was also a reminder to me that even though the Christmas decorations are put away, we still need to remember the birth.  We need to remember not only the baby who was born in such humble fashion, but that baby who became a man and was killed in such a humiliating moment of history.  Why remember? Because he did it for me.  He did it for you


After all the decorations are packed away, adorn your heart with the love of Jesus.  When all the special Christmas programs and services have ended, continue celebrating the birth, life, death, and eventual second coming of Christ each day in prayer and in attitude.  Once the Christmas carols have stopped being sung in church and we've changed our playlists and Pandora stations, continue singing in your heart, "Joy to the World, the Lord has come!"  And don't forget the second verse, either!  

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

As Jadon was laying in his bed before falling asleep for his nap today, I heard him humming.  I listened, wondering what song was stuck in his head and recognized this very song, "Joy to the World".  Repeat the sounding joy.  Remember all that Jesus accomplished, from birth to death and beyond the grave.  And anticipate His return... next Christmas, according to Jadon.  

~ Carrie ~

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My 2012 To Do List

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I've always got a to do list going - whether it's written or mental.  I think Andy's blood pressure rises every time I say, "Hey, I was thinking..."  Well, maybe not, but it does make him nervous!  

With the new year here and the anticipation of our baby girl (yup, it's a girl!) arriving in June, I've had about a million projects running through my mind.  So, with that said, I thought I'd make my "official" list.

source
  • Paint main entryway/hallway, stairwell, and upstairs hallway (never been done since we moved in, so... white, flat paint that shows every ding my 2 year old and husband have put in it)
  • Actually finish decorating our bedroom (curtains, real nightstand(s), new/upcycled headboard - like this, only a different color)
  • Convert guest room to our baby girl's nursery (requires doing something to the badly water-damaged hardwood floors that had old, stained, wall-to-wall carpeting that we ripped up)
  • Replace the half fallen down fence in our backyard (since we live in a parsonage, this is pretty much out of my hands... but I'm really hoping it gets done this spring!)
  • Have a yard sale this spring (may sound crazy with a baby coming in early June, but this has to happen to create room for baby girl... I've been setting aside yard sale items for years now.)
  • Start a scrapbook for Jadon (I have nothing scrapbooked for him yet... and I have to at least have a good start on one before the baby comes)
  • Paint the trim and baseboard heat in areas of the house that we just didn't get to before we moved in
  • Make a growth chart (like this)
  • Rough sand and wax coat the kitchen island so that there is no more chipping paint
  • Paint the screen porch and replace/patch broken screen (wanted to get that done last year, but it didn't happen...)
  • Purchase a new/used patio set (We have a nice, big deck but no patio furniture except for a couple deck chairs... It's sad, really.)
  • Paint the deck (Ours is in desperate need of something.  My talented father-in-law did his last spring and it looks awesome!  Inspiring... hopefully.)
  • Re-work our built in shelves on either side of our fireplace to be a little more practical (like for storing books and DVDs in nice covered baskets, of course)

Well, I think that may be it for now.  This list is a little scary to me... especially since I'd like to see the majority of it completed by the time baby girl arrives.  I'm realistically optimistic - meaning, I know not all of it will get done, but hopefully enough will get done to keep me sane.  The next several months will no doubt be a whirlwind, but hopefully I'll be able to share a few "to do list" accomplishments with you.  Well, here's to making my list and checking off a few things soon!  

~ Carrie ~

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Give Them Grace

Amazon Link

I recently began reading a book that I received as a Christmas gift from my husband.  It's called Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson.  Like I said, I've just started the book (I'm on chapter 2), but from the very beginning I was captivated and felt compelled to share a portion of the forward to this book (which begins with a quote from Michael Horton's Christless Christianity).
"What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city?  Over half a century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio.  Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia (the city where Barnhouse pastored), all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other.  There would be no swearing.  The children would say, "yes, sir" and "No ma'am," and the churches would be full every Sunday... where Christ is not preached."
"This is scary - mainly because what Barnhouse describes is what most of us want for our children.  Jesus or no Jesus, we just want them to obey, be polite, not curse or look at pornography, get good jobs, marry a nice person, and not get caught up in the really bad stuff.

It may come as a surprise to you, but God wants much more for your children, and you should too.  God wants them to get the gospel.  And this means that parents are responsible to teach them about the drastic, uncontrollable nature of amazing grace."

I'm really excited to keep reading this book, and I'm sure I'll be posting again - at least once I'm finished to give a few final thoughts on the perspective on parenting that this book gives (which so far, I'm completely in agreement with).  Happy reading!  

~ Carrie