Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Made It!

My goal for February was to spend $73.20 or less for groceries.  That’s $100 less than our monthly budget.  I am excited to report…I made it!  I actually came in slightly under plan at $72.58.  I was able to get $413 worth of product (food and toiletry/household items) for only $168.36, a savings of $244.64 or 59%.

We learned some lessons from our “Eating from the Pantry Challenge.”  I learned to eat some more simple meals, and also some creativity in the kitchen.  Self-control was also a valuable lesson learned.  We are planning for a normal month in March, but I have completed a monthly menu plan and grocery list, and I will be doing some freezer cooking also.  Hopefully this will help me to better utilize what I already have on hand so that I don’t have to purchase as much.

I was excited to be able to see the back of my freezer!  I have been keeping it so well stocked (not complaining…I feel very blessed) that things were getting lost in the shuffle.  Here are a couple of pictures of our freezer and refrigerator at the end of our challenge:

PICT0013  I had enough meat left over to make some decent meals in March.  I also have a bit of cheese, and two hot dog buns.  Yay!

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When Elaine sees the camera come out she thinks it’s all about taking pictures of her…and she’s usually right.  She wanted in on the picture action.  She didn’t appreciate the cold air so much!

PICT0015Just some butter, iced tea, spaghetti sauce, and apple sauce left!

While I’m on savings, here is my first great deal for March:

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I paid only tax on these items, a whopping 38 cents!  Two boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats (sooooo glad to get this, because we completely depleted our cereal stock last month), 4 cans tomato soup, a Pepsi 2-liter, a body wash, and some clearance candy.  Yay for CVS!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Freezer Cooking Day

One of the blogs I read daily (and it has helped me learn how to save a LOT of money) is MoneySavingMom.  Recently she has been “hosting” via the blogosphere a freezer cooking day each month.  As I was growing up my mom frequently did once-a-month-cooking (OAMC).  I know it can save time and money, but I didn’t think I had the freezer space to do it.

We have been “eating from the pantry” through the month of February and the result is a very empty refrigerator and almost empty freezer.  So I decided to try a freezer cooking day this month and see how it goes.

Here’s my plan:

We’ll see how it goes!  My plan is to shop on Monday, and cook on Tuesday.  I’m going to try cooking a whole chicken and shredding the meat for the Chicken Tetrazinni, and some other dishes throughout the month.  I’ve never done this before, but I’m sure it is cheaper than using chicken breasts!

Check out other recipe ideas, and freezer cooking tools and methods at MoneySavingMom!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Growing in Grace

During my devotions this morning I was reminded of this quote by Charles Spurgeon.  I thought I had published it here before, but I had to go digging through my documents to find it.

He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect

his fellow Christians to be anything more.

He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks

twenty thousand in his own case.

He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed

when he does not find it.”

~Charles Spurgeon

Have a blessed day!

Some random pictures…

Random pictures at random issues:

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I took these pics to send to my Grandma Paul…she gave Elaine this little outfit.  I loved her expressions!

Elaine 14 Weeks Favorite ToyWe refer to this toy as “Mr. Froggy.”  He makes crinkly noises and functions as a teether.  He has become Elaine’s favorite toy – she is quite mesmerized with him. 

Elaine 14 Weeks Favorite Toy

Elaine 14 Weeks Favorite Toy
Elaine playing with Mr. Froggy at naptime.

P.S. Today is my 28 month wedding anniversary.  Now I win because I said it before Ben did…this blog will publish before he is awake! (He takes great pride in the fact that 9 times out of 10 he remembers before I do!)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rough Night?

I really think Elaine is teething, or starting to.  I know I mentioned it before, and then the doctor said she didn’t think that was the case.  But I do…still…now…whatever.  She has started waking up in the night again, even with a late night dreamfeed.  Since last night was Wednesday and we had church, she went to bed at a later-than-normal time.  So she awoke at a later-than-normal time in the wee hours.  Like at 4 a.m. instead of 2 a.m. 

I heard Elaine crying and went in to get her.  She had worked herself up so much that instead of lying in the crib lengthwise, she had turned 90 degrees to be sideways.  And she had completely unswaddled and covered her face with her blanket, and she was trying desperately to move it.

When I aroused after 8 a.m. (a rare treat), I went to check on Elaine.  This is what I found.  She was dead to the world, sleeping with her mouth open. 

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So Elaine had a little bit of a rough night last night.  It threw off her whole day – nap times, eating schedule, and normally-pleasant disposition.  In fact they had to come and get me during my Bible Study because she started crying and screaming uncontrollably.  (I did feel a little surge of pride when the lady commented, “I told them we needed to get you because this child has never cried like this before!”).  At least she is usually well behaved! 

But Ben also had a rough night.  I committed the almost-unpardonable sin of homemaking…I ran out of tomato soup!  There are a few things that Ben likes me to have on hand.  Tuna, for variety in his lunch when he feels like it, Ritz crackers because he eats them on just about anything, and tomato soup because he really doesn’t eat any other kind of soup.  We were supposed to have pancakes, but that is the meal that Ben cooks (because…well – I confess.  I can’t make good pancakes.  Just ask Ben).  Since he had a long day, I switched meals for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  And when I went to the cupboard…gasp!  No tomato soup.  Ben sort-of forgave me when I found a can of broccoli cheddar, and when I reminded him that we are on a budget.

That's it for the Hamilton's.  Hope everyone else out there has a better night.  (We didn’t really have such a bad night…just a little bumpy).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Elaine Reads the Comics

I was going to save these pics for Wordless Wednesday, but then I got video to go with them, and I just couldn’t wait.  Daddy was taking care of Elaine while Mommy got ready for church.  I was finishing breakfast when I looked up to see this:

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See the little feet sticking out?  Elaine is reading the comics with Daddy!  So then I had to move and take this picture:

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Here are a couple of videos also:

Grampa Hamilton – I think she started to get upset because Daddy didn’t give her the Prince Valiant section.  What do you think?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Freebies

Harris Teeter doubled coupons up to $1.98 this week.  I scored quite a few freebies!

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The milk was on sale 2/$3 – I was really excited about this because it allowed me to buy extra milk and stay within my $73.20 food budget for the month.  I paid about 50 cents each for the Lysol wipes and the toilet cleaner.  I paid about 40 cents each for the Reynolds Foil.  All total the above was valued at $50 and I paid $8.48!  I went back for some more a couple days later…more crackers, another Frappuccino, and paper towels – all for free!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Brooklyn or Bust!

New York City after Graduation I blogged here about our desire to go and work as an Assistant Pastor to Pastor Jim Bickel of Bethel Baptist Fellowship in Brooklyn, New York.  We told Pastor Bickel that we would give him an answer by the end of February.  Yesterday – Wednesday, February 17, 2010 Ben came home and announced that we are going!  Here’s the story…

New York City has been in Ben’s heart for a long time.  We talked about starting a church in the City when we were still dating.  It has always been the long-term goal, unless God directed us differently.   In the fall of 2008 we stopped at Bethel for the morning service on our way home from Donny & Erika’s wedding.  We mentioned to Pastor Bickel that we were praying about New York City.

In the fall of 2009, Ben contacted Pastor Bickel by email to say that we were seriously considering New York City, and that Ben’s Hebrew class would conclude in the spring of 2010.  Ben asked if Pastor Bickel knew of a church in New York City thNew York City after Graduationat needed an assistant pastor.  Pastor Bickel replied that he had placed our family on his prayer list the year before (unbeknownst to us), and he had been praying for us regarding church planting in New York City.  He told us that he would be willing to pray with us about the possibility of coming to work at Bethel before starting a church.  Ben feels very comfortable with Pastor Bickel, he knows the ministry at Bethel, and this was a huge answer to prayer.

We began praying.  We visited Bethel in January, 2010.  At that time Pastor Bickel told us that the door was open – he wanted us to come to Bethel if God wanted us to come.  Another answer to prayer.

Ben wanted to spend some time, even a whole day, just praying about God’s Will for our family.  On February 1st we had a snow day…in Virginia Beach.  Ben spent the day in prayer.  Last week he was off on Tuesday because there was no eligible work for that day.  He spent the day in prayer and study.  We were both praying that God would close the door if it was not His Will. 

We sought counsel from several men in our church and that know the process of church planting, and New York City.  No one counseled us not to go, but several raised the idea of doing deputation and raising support before going. We prayed some more (and felt a New York City after Graduationlittle distracted…confused).  We know finances will be tough.  But we also know God will provide.  On Tuesday I asked Ben what he was thinking, knowing that our “deadline” was still over a week away.  He said, “I’ll tell you tomorrow.” 

Ben came home early yesterday from work.  Elaine was asleep.  I was scrapbooking and just finishing the movie Facing the Giants.  The theme of the movie could be summarized in the statement “What is impossible when God is on your side?”  When Ben walking in, he asked what I was thinking.  I replied, “You first.”  He said, “I think I’m going to email Pastor Bickel and tell him we’re coming.”

Ben had come to the conclusion that whether or not to do deputation was the how of going to NYC.  It did not answer should we go?  He felt like the Lord was calling us to go.  Now that we have that answer, we can consider the how

After church Ben called Pastor Bickel and told him we were coming.  Pastor Bickel wanted to know how we arrived at that decision.  So Ben told him the story.  Ben concluded by saying, “I can’t get this verse out of my head: ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me’ (Jonah 1:2).”  Pastor Bickel responded, “That is the same verse that God used to call me to New York City.” 

God is so good!  He just gave us that sweet confirmation and token for good, as if to say, “Yes, Ben.  You’re making the right decision.”

Pastor Bickel advised us to wait on deputation until we were ready to start a new church work.  We are now praying specifically for a job and a place to live.  Our lease here is up on May 30th, and it would be ideal to leave at that time.  We know that God will lead us!  Please pray with us about this need.

New York City after Graduation

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Girl is Growing!

Last week at the doctor Elaine weighed in at 11 pounds 1 ounce.  She is almost out of all of her 0-3 month clothing.  She is sleeping through the night…most of the time!  She loves to stand on her own legs and have Mommy or Daddy’s undivided attention.  And we do mean undivided!  Now she is Skyping Grandma & Grampa Hamilton, and reading her own mail! Take a peek…

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My Valentine card from Grandma Godby.  Just by chance…her bib says “Grandma Loves Me”

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Oops.  You didn’t see that Grandma.  She’s not bending your beautiful homemade card!

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I think she must be praying or something. 

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Sitting at the table while Mommy has breakfast…Mommy gave me a rattle because I was bored and letting her know it.

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Love that smile!!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Elaine’s New Portrait

Elaine 14 Weeks portrait daisy dress I had another coupon for the Picture People (they send me one every month) so I took Elaine to get another picture done today.  She is officially three months, or fourteen weeks – however you want to look at it.  We chose our free 8x10 and didn’t buy any other ones this time – Daddy will be pleased!  It is now hanging on the living room wall next to her newborn portraits.  To view the entire portrait session (for 60 days), click here.

Elaine 14 Weeks portrait daisy dress 

Does anybody remember what I blogged about before Elaine came along?  I can’t figure it out!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Elaine the Super Shopper

We did Kroger’s Mega Savings Event deal today.  Here’s what we got:

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3 Purex laundry soap (the kind that doesn’t build up residue on our cloth diapers, an extra bonus!); 6 Pillsbury Grands! biscuits; 3 pounds of hamburger; a family size Country Crock butter; a Coke 2-liter, and a Yoplait Fruit Smoothie.

Total: $4.95

The fruit smoothie was free, and I had coupons for everything else except the Coke (we’re having dinner guests tomorrow night), and I got $9 toward my next shopping trip.  Isn’t Elaine turning into a great shopper?  By the way do you like her tights?  They were another great deal – 98 cents on clearance!

While I’m posting about savings, I’ll itemize our coupon savings so far.  I started tracking on January 23rd.  We got $200.49 worth of product for $73.05 – a savings of $127.44!  For February so far we have purchased $205.76 worth of product for only $103.77 – a savings of $101.99!  Our year-to-date savings are $229.43.   I mentioned before that we are attempting to spend $73.20 or less on groceries this month.  So far we have spend $60.58, but we don’t have any shopping to do next week.  And we have meat in the freezer for next month!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First Mom-Inflicted Boo-boo

Okay.  I’m a klutz.  I know it.  But this one is pretty bad.  I was trying to clip Elaine’s nails.  I always put it off, because I don’t like doing it and she doesn’t like having it done.  But her nails were long.  Ben said, “You’re playing with fire.”  But I persisted.  I was down to the last nail…and I missed.  I clipped her finger instead.  It was bleeding.  She was crying. I felt terrible!  I had to put a band-aid on her thumb, but she seems to be okay now.  However, last night as she was crying herself to sleep, she was obviously very upset.  I went in to find blood spots dotting the sheet on the side where her hand would have been flailing.  Ben jokingly said that she cried so hard her blood pressure rose, and popped out her finger.  Poor baby.

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Wordless Wednesday

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pretty in Plaid

When I was pregnant I would stop by the thrift store and consignment store to see if there were any great deals on baby clothes.  I tried not to buy too much since we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl.  But there was one little dress that I just couldn’t resist.  Elaine is finally able to fit into it.  Since we were both wearing plaid today, we took some pictures before church.  You probably think I take too many pictures.  Ben has already pointed out that she will likely be the most photographed child we have.  But pictures are my thing, and I have to have something to post on this blog, right?

Elaine 13 Weeks plaid jumperYou can’t tell, but she her little tights are cable tights that someone gave me.  They are so cute!

Elaine 13 Weeks plaid jumper

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think I see Godby in Elaine in this picture.  There’s just something there…but I’ve never been good at knowing who a baby looks like!  No doubt about this though, she has Grandpa Godby’s lungs!

Elaine 13 Weeks plaid jumper So many facial expressions!

Elaine 13 Weeks plaid jumperThis reminds me of a picture that I’ve seen of myself as a baby, but I can’t remember which one.  Any insight Mom?

Elaine 13 Weeks plaid jumperOkay.  Picture time is over.  Notice the drool all over the front of her dress?  That was just from a couple of minutes.  I am soooooo grateful for bibs!  I think she might be starting to teethe.  She has started rejecting the paci (sometimes) in favor of her two fingers – the same two fingers I used to suck.  But she sticks them very far into her mouth and nearly gags herself.  And she drools.  And drools.  And drools.  And she’s a little cranky.  We’ll see – I’ve read that they can get symptoms a month before they cut teeth.  Maybe I’m just over-reacting.  (I’m new at this mommy thing you know).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Elaine Swimmin’ in the Tub

Elaine has not been enjoying bath time lately.  We tried bubbles, and no bubbles.  We tried a lot of water, and a little water.  We even tried the shower.  Yesterday Elaine discovered that she could splash and move around in the water, and she liked it.  We had another good bath time today.  Check it out!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Elaine is…THREE Months!!!

I can’t believe it!  It has already been three months since Elaine was born?  She was so happy and smiley today.  We took some pictures before she was whisked off to bed!  She was hammin’ it up for the camera, and having a jolly time showing off her tongue!

Elaine 3 Months Elaine 3 Months

Elaine 3 Months

My shirt says “Princess of the year.”

Elaine 3 Months“Mom!  Put the camera down!  I’m falling!  I can’t sit up by myself yet!”

 Elaine 3 Months

Elaine 3 Months

Elaine 3 Months

Elaine 3 Months
Ben calls this “the picture the Grandmas won’t like”!

Elaine 3 Months
“See my tongue?  Nice and long like Daddy and Auntie Meredith!”

Elaine 3 Months
“If you won’t give me my paci, I’ll suck my fingers!”

Elaine 3 Months 
“Goodbye now!  I’ll see you next time.  I gotta go get this drool off my lip!”