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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Bema Seat

The past two Sundays, one of the pastors at our church did an incredible monologue drama about The Bema Seat of Christ, a powerful picture of the judgment of believers.

Wait, the judgment of believers? But my sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, so I'm not going to be judged. . . am I?

The Bible speaks of two different judgments. Revelation 20:11-15 speaks of the Great White Throne Judgment, when the book of life is opened and all are judged for their deeds as either righteous or unrighteous. As Christians, we will escape this judgment because Christ's blood has covered over our unrighteous deeds and we are forgiven. If you have trusted Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, your name will be written in the book of life and you will be ushered into heaven. Believers do not have to fear the Great White Throne Judgment.

The Bema judgment, spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5:10 and 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, is nothing to fear, either. The purpose of this judgment is to give rewards based on our stewardship of the things God has given us (our time, talents, money, etc.), and whether we invested in things that will last for eternity.

The idea behind the drama is to remind us that we need to be living not for today, but for The Day. We need to live with an eternal perspective in our motives and actions. We need to care more about what Jesus thinks than about what others think. We need to invest in people for eternity. What a good reminder!

If you have some time, I'd encourage you to listen to Pete Briscoe's audio presentation (about an hour long, but SO worth it!) or read a transcript of the drama. I could only find a transcript of part 1, so you'd be left hanging, but if you only have a few minutes, you could get the idea.

You could also buy the book by Tim Stevenson or buy the audio or video of Pete Briscoe's presentation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Birthday Tradition

I've mentioned this before on my Birthday Freebies list, but I wanted to mention it again because it has become a fun tradition for the girls and me. When you sign your child up for the Toys R Us birthday club, they get a $3 off any $3 purchase gift card every year for their birthday (ages 2-10). So every year around each girl's birthday, she and I go alone into the store to pick out a special treasure with their gift card. They know it has to be something they can afford with the gift card, so we carefully comb through the store looking for something that is $5 or less, and it is such a thrill for them! Some things we have found in the past are bubbles, workbooks, glow-in-the-dark stars, a fun sprinkler, a cool pen and pencil set, stickers, and other treasures.

Once they've decided (I usually give them a few choices based on what we've found), we take it up to pay. Then I tell the cashier it is the child's birthday ask for a birthday balloon. The girls are always on cloud nine and can't wait to show their sisters and Daddy what they bought! We obviously see all sorts of other fun things, but I simply tell them that that item is too much and we don't have enough on the gift card to buy that today, so it's also a great lesson on self-control and stewardship, since they can't pick anything in the store.

If you'd like to sign up, do so at least 8 weeks before your child's birthday. Get more info here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cereal Stock-Up

Today's the day to stock up on cereal! Our local grocery store has their deal where you buy 6 boxes of General Mills cereal and get $10 off, plus a coupon towards free milk ($3.75). Print off some coupons and go get some free, nearly free, or better than free cereal! Here's my plan:

Buy 6 boxes of cereal (assume around $3.25 each) = $19.50 get $10 off = $9.50
Use 6 coupons for .75 off (5 will be doubled) = $8.25
Total OOP approximately $1.25 for 6 boxes plus get a coupon for $3.75 off milk!

The $3.75 milk coupon will take off the whole amount, even if your gallon of milk is $2.89, so make sure to either get more than one milk, or put some more items with the milk to get the whole coupon value. I haven't been to the store yet, so I'm not sure exactly how much each box costs, but even if they are $4 each, this is still a good deal. If they are $3 each, you'll be paid to buy cereal and milk! So go build your cereal stockpile!

*Note that you'll have to buy more items in order to get your coupons to double. The total before coupons has to be $25, and I'm pretty sure that has to be AFTER the $10 comes off.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pain is Good!

Ted's parents requested some hot sauce that Ted had bought for them many years ago. They couldn't quite remember the name, but Ted knew what the bottle looked like, thought it had something to do "pain" and "batch 37". Don't you love Google? It immediately popped up with the right one! The sauce is called "Pain is Good-Batch #37".

Ted was so excited to receive his bottle and dove right in. He likes to pour a couple of drops straight onto a chip. The girls think it's hilarious when Daddy gets a good burn and his eyes start watering or he slaps the table with a "Hoo-hoo! Oh, that's good!"

Here are some pictures of Ted and the girls imitating the guy on the bottle while Ted was enjoying some of his new hot sauce one night after dinner.

Hope added a picture of the hot sauce bottle and chips to her notebook menu and the girls had fun for several days putting pretend hot sauce on pretend chips and running around saying, "Hot! Hot!" They'd ask me if I wanted some chips with hot sauce -- "Sure, I'll take zero drops, please!"

I finally got brave enough to taste a *teeny* bit on a chip. Though I could barely taste the flavor of it, I could sure feel the burn! I ate all my lunch after that, and could still feel the burn, so I just can't imagine having more than that! No matter--more for him!

Because I had been brave enough to taste his hot sauce, Ted bravely took a bite of my homemade honey yogurt. He said it was good, but I don't think he's a believer quite yet. No matter--more for me and M! She LOVES my honey yogurt!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


The other day at lunch I told the girls I was making more yogurt and bread. They started talking about when they could learn how to make things in the kitchen. H decided she'd make the yogurt, G could load the breadmaker, M would mix the honey in the yogurt, and F could set the table (that one might have to wait awhile!). After they divided up the jobs (only in discussion, of course!), H, the oldest said, "We'll do all the jobs and then you can relax, Mommy!" Aahhh, what a day that will be! :-)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Free Boost Kid Essentials coupon ($14.99)

Go here to request a coupon for a free multipack of Boost Kid Essentials by Nestle. It is a new probiotic drink, lactose and gluten-free, that can be used to boost nutrition or as a meal replacement. Hurry, only the first 25,000 will get the coupon (valued up to $14.99)!
Thanks to Freebies 4 Mom!

Colgate Deal

If you have been able to take advantage of some of the Colgate deals lately, especially at CVS, save your receipts! If you buy $15 worth of Colgate products (which also includes SoftSoap, Palmolive, Speed Stick, and Irish Spring), send in your receipts and UPCs for a travel bag filled with samples and $25 worth of coupons! Go here to download the form.

And if you're wondering what to do with a stockpile of toothpaste, join my toothpaste project!

Thanks to Money Saving Mom!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Quaker Deal

This week I was so excited to go grocery shopping that I actually took all 4 kids with me. Crazy, I know! But my grocery store had Quaker products on sale for $2 each, which made my oatmeal free after my $1 coupons were doubled! But wait, it gets better! The store's flyer had a coupon for $3 off the purchase of any 5 Quaker products! I patiently waited until double coupon day, but I just didn't want to wait until after dinner to go shopping!

I must have been quite a sight! I had F in the infant carseat sitting in the main basket of the cart. M and G started out riding in the attached "car" in front of the cart, though it quickly became a game for M, G, and H to take turns getting in and out of the car. The bag with my coupon book was in the little seat in the back of the cart. After a few minutes, the girls shed their coats, which I piled on top of the "car". Where were the groceries going to go?

I did three transactions because I can only double 5 coupons per transaction, and also so that I could use 3 of the $3/5 store Quaker coupons. So I was carefully putting the groceries for one transaction under the cart, another set of groceries crammed on one side of F's carseat, and the last set crammed on the other side of her carseat. I was so proud of the girls, they did a great job while I tried to keep my coupons and transactions straight.

I was able to buy milk and plain yogurt to make more homemade yogurt, powdered chocolate mix to make more homemade hot chocolate, and black beans to make black bean soup. I got 9 boxes of oatmeal, 2 boxes of Oatmeal to Go, and 4 bottles of syrup for free, and the Activia yogurt was free as well! Gotta love double coupon day!!

When all was said and done, I spent $41.38 (though for 3 transactions, my sale total before coupons was over $78!), a 61% savings! I didn't mess up any of my coupons, my orders stayed separate even though the girls were helping me unload the cart onto the conveyor belt, and by the grace of God I didn't even get flustered! I even managed to stay under my weekly goal of $50, all in under an hour! All these things were a major success in my eyes, especially since I had the kids with me.

I just love couponing! It's such a rush! :-)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Soda Stock-Up at Walgreens

Thanks to a heads-up from Staci, I went to Walgreens and re-stocked Ted's stash of Mountain Dew for a great price! This week the advertised deal for Pepsi products was "buy 5/$15, get $5 RR", but on the display in front of the soda it also said, "Buy $20, get $10 RR". So, at $3 each, I bought seven 12 packs, for a total of $22.05 including tax. Sure enough, I got a $10 RR to use on a future purchase. So after RR, it's like I got the soda for $1.72 per 12 pack including tax, a GREAT deal for soda! Thanks again, Staci!
*Look for a rebate form near Pepsi displays. If you buy three Pepsi products and three Frito-Lay products in January, mail in for $15 in coupons.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Save on Eating Out with Kids

If you have children, you can save money on eating out by going on days when they have discounts for kids. This list was passed on to me and I've added some to it, but if you have more discounts you know about, please leave a comment! Be sure you call each place for details before you go because they may have changed their policy (and I didn't verify each one). Generally "kids eat free" means off the kids menu. Usually it is one kid's meal per adult entree, but some allow two per adult (like Perkins).

Solea Mexican Grill - kids eat free
Sergios - kids eat for $1.49
Ground Round - kid meals are .99
Good Company - kid meals are $1.25
O'Charleys - kids eat free
Grazies - kids pizza and drink for $2.50
Buffalo Wild Wings - kids eat for .99

HuHot - night kids eat for $1.00
Funset Blvd - get large pizza for med price & kids rides 2 for 1

Cinders Charcoal Grill - kid meals half price (4pm) & free Sundae
Atlanta Bread Company - kids eat free (after 4pm)
Perkins - kids eat free (after 5pm)
Texas Road House - kids get free balloons (no discount)
Red Robin - kids get free ice cream Sundae with their meal
Fazolis - kid meals are .99 and they have crafts available
Ponderosa - kids eat free (after 4pm)
Green Mill - kids eat free

Applebees - kid meals are .99
Tumbleweed - kids meals are .99
Sergios - kids eat for $1.49

Country Kitchen - kids eat free
Perkins - kids eat free after 5pm

We have also saved considerably in the past by switching our pizza night to a night other than Friday, because many places offer discounts on Mondays or Tuesdays, especially if you do carry-out instead of delivery.

Do you have any other tips for saving money in this area of your budget? Please help us all out and let us know!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Save Money on Eating Out

I love LOVE LOVE to eat out. It doesn't even have to be fancy, I just appreciate it when someone else cooks, so I'd eat out almost every day if I could! Unfortunately the budget doesn't allow for it, so last year we started using the envelope system for our monthly eating out. At the beginning of the month, I take out the allotted amount of cash for eating out (in tens) and put it in an envelope. Then when we go out to eat we grab a couple tens out of the envelope and put the change back. This has really caused us to reevaluate our eating out when we only have X amount of dollars left for the month. We also decide more carefully what we spend it on. I'd rather order water at a restaurant than pay $2 for a soda, when I can drink a much cheaper soda at home. We often eat dessert at home, too (though sometimes it is fun to splurge!). And when it's getting later in the month and money is dwindling, we might opt for 2 trips to Taco Bell over 1 trip to somewhere more expensive.

We usually buy an Entertainment book each year, but decided against it this year. So I was glad when I discovered that even if you haven't purchased an Entertainment book, you can still print off 3 coupons for free online! Go here and type in your email and zip code and you can choose 3 different coupons from your local Entertainment Book to print out and use--without paying a dime! They will send you an activation email, then log in and print your coupons! You have to print them within 2 weeks and then use them within 2 weeks of printing. It appears you can do this with more than one email address, if you want to spread out your savings.

I'm a reluctant convert, but I have to admit that menu planning has really saved us a lot of money on eating out, too. It used to come to the end of the day and I was fried and dinner wasn't ready so I'd ask (uh, beg!) hubby to pick something up on the way home. Now that I have a plan (that's flexible, mind you!), I'm not nearly as stressed and it's a lot easier to get dinner on the table.

And don't forget to sign up for Birthday Club Freebies so that you can enjoy free food on or around your birthday!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

More Yogurt!

Mmmm, we've really been enjoying my crockpot yogurt! Since no one got sick from the last batch (I wasn't worried, but some may be mildly concerned, or "wigged out", as the case may be!), I decided to make some more and tweak a few things in the recipe. This time I didn't stir in any dry milk (I forgot!), I used half 1% and half 2% milk, and I only let it sit for 13 hours. It still worked great! Because I was curious, here's some numbers:

32 oz Dannon plain yogurt = $2.77 (which yields 8 starters of 4 oz each = .35 per batch)
1 gallon of milk = $2.50 (which yields 2 batches of yogurt = $1.25 per batch)
1 batch equals 68 oz of yogurt = $1.75 (including estimated energy?), or .02 per oz!
The 32 oz Dannon plain = .08 per oz
Even when I get a 4 pk of Activia for .55 after doubled coupon, that is still .03 per oz.

So besides being yummy, it's even cost-efficient! And my yogurt only contains milk, yogurt cultures, and whatever I decide to add (like honey or fruit). No high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, or artificial colorings. And honestly, it's not hard. 10 minutes to boil, 10 minutes to cool, and then mix and let sit. I have a new favorite hobby! ;-)

Friday, January 9, 2009

No Perfect Mom Here

Warning: The following story contains "real mom" moments.
They're not very pretty.

This morning M had a potty accident on one of the covered dining room chairs (which also went onto the carpet). I asked her why she hadn't gone in the bathroom, then took her into the bathroom and stripped her bottom layers. After sitting her on the toilet, I grabbed the paper towels and started cleaning up. After the initial cleaning, I went to grab the cleaning solution and check on M in the bathroom. I hadn't lost my temper. Yet.

My mouth literally fell open. She was standing on the floor in a puddle of urine with a pile of poop between her legs. I lost it.

I dropped the bottle of solution and roll of paper towels and shouted at her. Why would she get off the toilet and go on the floor? I warned you, not pretty.

M started crying, I had to take a deep breath, then I got down on my knees (careful to avoid the puddle between her legs) and apologized. I hugged her and calmed her down while cleaning her up and putting her back on the toilet. I inwardly chastised myself for losing it with a 2 1/2 year old who is still potty training. It was an accident, and accidents happen. No, I don't understand the mind of a 2 year old who gets off the toilet and then goes on the floor, but I don't need to. I shouldn't have lost my temper.

After I finished cleaning up the bathroom, and then finished cleaning up the chair and carpet in the dining room, I called all the girls to me (since they had all witnessed it). I confessed to them that I shouldn't have yelled, that I wasn't showing self-control, and that I was wrong to shout. I said I was sorry and asked them to forgive me. They smiled and hugged me and we went on with our day.

I was tested to see if I was REALLY sorry when M had another accident not even 2 hours later. I had told her to go to the bathroom and go potty. She did go to the bathroom, but instead decided to get up on the stool and look at herself in the mirror, and then had an accident. I had to take a deep breath, but I didn't yell. I felt like she had disobeyed, but now that I think about it, she did follow my directions. She "went to the bathroom and went potty", just not on the toilet. I guess I'll have to be more specific next time.

God, I'm sorry for falling short and losing control. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for the chance to humble myself to my children, and for their forgiveness and love. Please help me to point these precious children to you, demonstrating to them that we all need your forgiveness, and that I, too, need to lean on you for help.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Crockpot Yogurt!

Yes, it's true! I made yogurt in my crockpot! I'm so excited! So are the girls. Ted's a little grossed out. He wouldn't even look at it this morning. I think the thought of letting warm milk sit out on the counter overnight did him in. He's missing out!

On our vacation we spent time at my parents' house. My mom has been making yogurt in her yogurt maker and had to slow down her consumption because she was eating up to 3 a day. I guess that's not good for your waistline. I truly didn't understand why she would eat 3 yogurts a day. I mean, I like yogurt, but I don't feel like I need to eat it all the time. What was the big deal?

Then we got there and she shared some of her yogurt with us. Ted and G liked it okay, but prefer the store-bought stuff, but H, M and I just LOVED Grammie's yogurt. We found ourselves sheepishly wanting 2-3 yogurts a day. Yup, it was that good.

My mom saw how much we were enjoying her yogurt (she had to make several batches!), so, being the loving mother she is, she offered to send her yogurt maker home with me. I appreciated her generosity, but declined, saying that I didn't want another appliance around (plus it wouldn't make NEARLY enough for our family! I'd have to be running it constantly!). Besides, I told her, The Crockpot Lady had made yogurt in her crockpot, and since I'm trying to use mine more, I thought I'd try it when we got home. (now that I knew what the big deal was about the homemade yogurt!)

After we got home, it was a flurry of holidays, and I finally got around to trying the recipe over the weekend. It didn't work. I was SO disappointed because I had my face fixed for some homemade yogurt. And I was super bummed that I had to dump 1/2 a gallon of milk down the drain. But I told myself that the experiment only cost about $1.30, and gave myself permission to try one more time.

I went back to the blog and, after looking over all the comments, decided to change a few things and try again.

This time it worked! And it is SO yummy! It tastes just like my mom's. . . mmmm! Here's what I did:

  • Pour 1/2 gallon of 2% milk into a pot on the stove. Add 1/2 cup dry milk. Stir occasionally until temperature reaches 190 degrees (to kill the bad bacteria in the milk since it'll be sitting out overnight, warm). This took probably 10 minutes.
  • Put the pot in a sink of warm water, then cooler water to bring the milk temp down to 105 degrees (so you don't kill the good bacteria in the yogurt). This took about 10 minutes.
  • While that's cooling, plug in your crockpot on low. In a bowl, mix one packet of Knox unflavored gelatin into 1/2 cup plain yogurt (this is your starter, with the good bacteria).
  • When the milk is cooled enough, pour into your crockpot, then stir in yogurt starter. Stir well and then cover and UNPLUG your crockpot. Wrap it in a beach towel and cover with a small blanket. I even added a warm water bottle in the layers of blankets. Tuck it in nice and cozy.
  • Leave it alone for many hours. Some said 5, my mom's takes like 24. I REALLY wanted this to work and have time to thicken up, so I left it for 18 hours and we woke up to have YUMMY yogurt for breakfast! H, M and I like to stir in about a tablespoon of honey. G had some after I stirred in honey and some strawberry jelly. H, M and I had honey yogurt again at lunch, but G opted for store-bought strawberry. Fine--more for us! :-)
Here's what I think I did wrong the first time: I used 1% milk, I didn't boil it, didn't add dry milk, used vanilla yogurt, I only wrapped it in one towel, so it was probably too cold, and I only let it sit for 8 hours. I ended up with a crockpot full of warm milk with a thin gelatinous layer at the bottom. Next time I make it I will try to use 1% milk again (since that's the milk I usually buy).

If you try it, please let me know if it worked for you and how you did it!

First Tooth

F got her first tooth today! I knew it would be coming any day now, since H and G both got theirs at 7 1/2 months as well. (I thought M did too, but when I looked at her baby book today, I guess her first tooth was at 9 months. Good thing I wrote it down!)

In other F news, she's been working on the sippy cup. She really liked chewing on this soft one, but it resulted in lots coming out but mostly dribbling and making a mess, so I never knew how much she was actually drinking. She's now learning how to actually suck on one with a little firmer top.

Her eyes are definitely changing to brown, though the process isn't complete. Oh well. I keep hoping for a child with Daddy's beautiful blues, but my dominant browns keep taking over!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy What?

Our dinner conversation last night:

H: What did the cow say to the horse? Happy Moo Year!
G: What did the glue say to the glue? Happy Glue Year!
T: What did the ENT say to his patient? Happy New Ear!
J: What did the frog say to the grasshopper? Hoppy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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