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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Easter 2012

Easter felt a little crazy this year! With three little ones the days are just flying by and the days leading up to Easter were no exception. We ended up doing a fun Easter egg hunt the weekend before Easter with our friends from church and their kids. It was a fun chaos of little people who did not even really know what they were looking for, which actually made it quite funny! My friend Jen who hosted the party provided each kiddo with a little basket to put all their eggs.

Then of course we had to attempt a group photo

 during which at some point Elise looks over and notices that Joie dropped a few eggs 

So she makes her way over

and proceeds to take them back to her spot
which I did not even notice because I was talking 
(thanks Catie for getting this all on camera..ha ha)

and poor Joie just realized what happened.
So after a re-distribution of the eggs everyone was happy again.

It was my first day back at work the Saturday before Easter and Russ had a cold
so our Easter Sunday was pretty low key

We let the girls have a few special things out of their baskets before church

attempted to get a picture of the girls and North all dressed up for church

this picture of Russ and North just melts my heart every time I see it! 

after church we spent the rest of the day relaxing as a family

the girls got balloons, sunglasses, a very small bag of candy :) 
purses and necklaces (which they got in the morning) 
Twas the Night Before Easter Veggie Tales DVD, and the books
Both books and the DVD did a great job of showing that while there are fun things associated with the holiday Easter (egg hunts, baskets of toys and candy, etc) 
what we are truly celebrating is the Lord's resurrection! 

We talk every holiday about what we want to try and incorporate into our personal family traditions
and I found some of these great ideas online for when the girls are older and can comprehend the concept of life and death a little more. 

1. Make Good Friday Cross Buns and talk about how the cross is a reminder of Jesus sacrifice for our sins

2. Make a mini resurrection garden to help illustrate the concept

3. Read the Easter story in the Bible on Friday evening
and first thing Easter morning

4. Read The Parable of the Lily and plant or buy a lily
(Lilly would especially love this! )

5. Take an Easter meal with someone who might spend it alone

Hope you had a great Easter! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Money Saving Ideas for Moms

Trust me, as a mom of two 2 year olds and newborn baby I don't always have the 
time or energy to look for ways to save money. But that being said I am also on a budget and love
to use our money on the things that we really love as a family, and I don't really love diapers or dryer sheets. 

I think you need to find a balance of what works for you. I know people that are down right scrappy when it comes to getting a great deal and people that just buy whatever they see with out even price comparison. I am somewhere in the middle of I want to save money, but I also don't want that to be my focus on life, or underlying every thought and conversation. 

So, these are some of the little things that I do to save money. 

1. Buy Generic Diapers, Wipes, Baby Wash, Baby Q tips, Formula, Baby Motrin, etc. We buy mostly Target Up and Up Brand. I have found their diapers and wipes to work better than Pampers or Huggies (and any other generic that I have tried) They have "club packs" where you can buy in bulk and save even more.
Example: Right now the girls are in Size 5 diapers. At Target Pampers size 5 diapers are 124 for $35.00
Up and Up size 5 diapers are 124 for 20.99. This alone is a savings of over $30.00/month since we buy at least two boxes a month. The difference is even greater in Size 1 diapers which is what North is wearing. 

2. Cutting Dryer Sheets in Half-Russ totally laughs at me for doing this but 1/2 sheet works the exact same as a whole sheet.

3. Make your own Fabric Softener-I use this recipe for Rosemary Mint Fabric Softener. If you are even more motivated there are also great recipes for making your own laundry detergent. I am not quite at that point yet and just by Up and Up laundry soap from Targett.

4. On a related note, I make most of my household cleaners. I use this recipe for a stainless steel cleaner for my appliances. I use baking soda and vinager to scrub my toilets, keep my drains clean, and clean my shower heads. I use white vinegar, hot water, and essential oils to mop my floors (this is also a great general surface cleaner) 

5. Making Freezer Meals- some people are amazing at this and make a months worth of meals. I normally just double or triple easy, go to meals for our family and freeze them in the portions we use.  These meals are normally chili, soups, shredded chicken for tacos, seasoned ground beef for tacos, loaves of garlic bread, pulled pork, etc.

(ok this is totally not my freezer..I could only dream to be this organized :) 

6. Make Your Own Iced Coffee-surf the web for tons of great DIY recipes for any of your favorite drinks! Since Starbucks charges almost $5.00 for any drink the savings here is huge.
Here is one great recipe from  Savory Sweet Life

7. Buying Clothes/Toys at Garage Sales- this is probally the biggest savings I have had since having kids. Since most clothes at garage sales are around $1.00 you are saving at least 90% of retail price. (even if you just get your kids play clothes at garage sales your saving is monumental over buying clothes retail that they are just going to get dirty) The same goes with great outdoor play toys, games, puzzles, etc

8. Shop Clearance at the end of each season for the next year- Since my girls have always been true to size since they were born this is fairly easy. At the end of each season I just buy ahead for the next year in the size that I estimate they will be. This gets easier as they get older and wear the same size longer. I normally do this for dress clothes, winter coats, hats, mittens, etc. I have found it hard to estimate what size shoes they will be so normally for shoes and boots I wait and buy just what they need in the size they are currently in.

9. Coupons- I am not a huge couponer, but I do find it an easy way to save money on some things. Most of the coupon that I get in the mail are for junk food or particular brand name cleaners that I would not normally buy.

Target does has coupons on their website that are easy to access and print (even on their generic products making them an even better deal) for paper products, baby items, and even toys (which is a great way to get a better deal on gifts for your chidlren or other kid's birthday parties)
(between the generic items and the coupons I normally save about $20.00 on my biweekly trip)

I also use  Coupons.com for free printable coupons. This is great for make up, the few cleaning products I do buy instead of make, and some grocery items. Pick and Save (which is our normal grocery store) doubles up to 5/$1.00 coupons twice a week. So this is a savings of $20.00 each week.

Walmart also price matches any ad, so I grab my Aldi, Pick and Save, and Piggly Wiggly ad and bring it with me to Walmart. If I see any item for less in the ads I just circle it in ad and when I check out they override the price with the ad price. This is a great way to save money with out driving to 3 different stores to save money. I usually save another $10.00-20.00 each week doing this.

10. Energy Savings-having moved into our home from an apartment last year made me really appreciate energy and water savings. We changed out all of our lightbulbs for energy efficient bulbs
This save an average of $6.00/bulb per year. Thinking we have 20-30 bulbs, over the course of a year the savings is significant.

A few other little things that save money

I work out at home vs buying a gym membership-walking is FREE! and my girls love to do 
crunches and jumping jacks with me on the floor

I wash all laundry (except bedsheets and towels) in cold water

Use apps in my phone such as Coupon Sherpa, Gas Buddy, and IGarageSale to find the best deals in the least amount of time. 

Although I never seem to qualify for them, alot of my friends participate in research studies on toddler food, diapers, etc and have earned up to $300.00/study. 

All in all, life is less about money (saving or spending) and more about serving others and living like Jesus.

I remind myself of this when I go too far in one direction or another! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thing One Thing Two Birthday Party

Ok this post is so overdue
We will pretend its in honor of the girls 2 1/2 year birthday
but really this was six months ago..
gasp..oh well..I was pregnant! 

So here are the party details

I bought Thing One and Thing Two shirts on ebay. I made the tutus out of red ribbon and tulle
 (I semi jokingly tell Russ that I am going to incorporate a tutu into every birthday party until the girls make me stop) 
And I took adult red and white striped knee socks from the dollar store and cut off the feet. 

I used Dr Seuss flash cards that I scored at a garage sale for 50 cents last summer, cut them on the diagonal and glued them to a ribbon. I added colored balloons

I had a table set up for gifts with some Dr Seuss books that we had and
the "Horton Hears a Hoo" elephant 

I found all of the Dr Seuss food ideas from people more creative than me online. 
We had green eggs (deviled eggs with green food coloring), and ham (ham and cheese sandwiches)
one fish, two fish (gold fish) pink ink drink (pink lemonade) oodles of  noodles (pasta salad) truffela fruits (fruit salad)  yertle turtles (caramel pretzel turtles), and thing one and thing two cupcakes 

napkins wrap printables from the Dr Seuss website 

Thing Three even came to the party! 

and thankfully it was a 70 degree day in October and all the kids just played outside

we just let the girls go barefoot, eat their cupcakes, and then 
just hosed them off at the end! 
It was such a fun day! 

The party favors were Dr Seuss reusable gift bags (from the $1.00 section at Target)
printable Dr Seuss coloring pages and crayons and colored popcorn in bags with this label. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

North Andrew

I knew that it would be a while until I was back to blogging (12 weeks isn't too bad considering I have 3 kids under 2 right now :) But, blogging is therapeutic for me and I hope fun for the kids to look back at some day to get a little view into what life was like when they were young! 
Hopefully North won't be too upset that its still titled 20 Fingers 20 Toes..

Speaking of.

We could not love this little pumpkin more. He made his grand entrance January 27,2012 at 8:47am

Hokey smokes..he's a big one! 
9lbs 11oz
Even Dr Amy had predicted him to be in the 8lb range..and she does this every day! 

(they round up)

And here he is..in all of his perfectness! 
(hey! don't stick out your tongue at mama..)

The first time I saw him...

And the next few were days filled with lots of snuggling, feeding, resting, and recovering

Grandma and Grandma Carol tried to show him to his sisters..
but they were much for interested in messing around with all of the 
hospital equipment than meeting their new brother

and finally all ready to go home and be a family of FIVE! 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spring Wreath

Even though its not spring yet, in fact its the dead of winter in Wisconsin,
I decided I needed to make a fun wreath for spring

I am pretty sure my time for wreath making will be gone
once baby numero three makes his appearance

I was inspired by this picture on Pinterest
(I saved the pictures but did not save the link so I am not sure who to credit for the idea) 

This is what I came up with

I used scrap fabric for the rosettes and wrapped an wreath form
in white yarn..added a little ribbon and some felt leaves..
and its perfect to brighten up these dreary cold days