Friday, May 28, 2010

Unemployed

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…”
Romans 1:16 

“Unemployed.”  That has a sort of lovely ring to it.  Okay, maybe not.  How about “retired”? Today was Ben’s last day as an employee of Terminix.  While we are rejoicing to finally be done with pest control (at least for now), it also means that we are officially unemployed.  The company has not been a joy to work for, but Ben will miss the people.  I was invited to a surprise BBQ put on by the guys at the office today.

Everyone had chipped in for hamburgers, hotdogs, and the works.  Guys who are no longer with the company or working out of this office stopped by to say “goodbye” and “good luck” to Ben.  It meant a lot to him!  Of course, in typical guy style, no one had remembered to check the propane on the grill, so mid-way through cooking they had to go buy another bottle!   The former secretary, Tina, came over for the occasion also.  She was a big encouragement to us when we were new in the area.

Ben's last day at TerminixThe cake – Terminix style!  (Yes, they are plastic!)

Every Friday morning there is a meeting in the office.  Ben was asked if he wanted say a few words.  Like a typical preacher he did. Although he wanted to give a full fledged sermon he kept it short and simply gave God the glory for everything good in His life and explained why he was moving to Brooklyn. He wrote his new address upon the office white board and told people to give him a call any time they had a spiritual question or need.  He also wrote Romans 1:16 upon the board.

Ben's last day at Terminix
Trey (Ben’s office manager, former salesman, and a great guy); Jessie (office secretary); “Q”; Tina (former office secretary & Jessie’s sister); Chris Colley & daughter Courtney (they gave Elaine several newborn outfits); Ben; Greg (Ben trained him).

Ben's last day at TerminixThe same people, with Mike Richter added in the blue shirt.  He is a former employee who had moved to Hampton but drove down to say goodbye.  Several others couldn’t stay very long.

The card from the group said,
“We understand that you’re leaving to pursue new challenges, achieve Higher goals, and grow as a person.  But before you go, we wanted to say one thing…
Take us with you!”

It was the perfect card!  Several enclosed money, and we had a great afternoon.  Ben has only been employed with Terminix for almost three years, yet only one person has been a technician for longer.  Ben will be missed!

No Spend Month – the Final Update

This is our last day of no-spend-month.  We started out with $250 in cash to spend on everything except bills, tithe, medical, and moving 3rd-no-spend-monthexpenses.  I think we accidentally added a little money to it because I had some cash from selling items on Craigslist.  But we didn’t withdraw any extra money, and it is refreshing to say that we lived a whole month on around $250!

Here are some things that I learned:

  • I planned my trips better so that I used as little gas as possible.  I had gotten lazy in this area.
  • You can go out to run errands without getting a snack in the drive thru or a coffee at Starbucks (this is my #1 downfall!)
  • I used my bread machine to make bread for Ben’s lunches this month.  He said it was more filling, and I love the smell of bread baking.  It saved us about $20.
  • I used coupons to get about $100 in free groceries.  They were not the items that I would have put on my list, but it forced me to be creative and use what I had on hand.  We   had sandwiches on leftover hot dog buns.  We had celery and peanut butter instead of milk and cookies.  We had homemade tea instead of Crystal Light.  I had milk in my coffee instead of creamer.  It was the little things! 
  • I learned that I can make less for supper and we will still be satisfied, filled, and healthy.  I also discovered that we don’t have to eat meat at every meal!
  • I liked using cash to buy groceries because it kept me from getting that “one extra item” each time that would put me over my budget.
  • We cleaned out our freezer and Empty freezercupboards (which needed done anyway for the move).
  • I took advantage of great sales and coupons at CVS to actually make money that I can put towards toiletry items.
  • I tried to got as cheap as possible on moving expenses, even though it wasn’t included in no-spend-month.  I got free boxes on Craigslist, and newspaper from church friends and neighbors.

It’s been a good month.  Thanks for following along!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Sippy Cup Adventures, Part 1

Elaine 6 months upside down sippy cup We are trying to teach Elaine how to drink from a sippy cup.  She doesn’t take a bottle, and I thought this would provide an alternative means of hydration when I am not around, or when we are out and about.  She really likes to hold it and chew on the nipple because it is soft rubber and she’s teething.  But, as you can see, we have a long ways to go!  Good thing it doesn’t leak!

By the way…Elaine woke up yesterday morning with
HER FIRST TOOTH! 
It finally pushed through the surface on one side.  It’s still barely visible, but it is definitely there!  And according to Ben, she’s just not cute anymore!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Elaine the Acrobat

Here’s a new video of a trick that Ben likes to do with Elaine.  It’s the video that will make the grandmothers freak out!  (It’s okay, he hasn’t ever dropped her…yet)

Into Everything

I know that the last few posts have been Elaine all the way.  But, since we are packing to move everything is out of place in our home right now.  And thus Elaine is into everything.  So I just have too many pictures not to share them.  For my non-grandparent readers, sorry to bombard you with more pictures of Elaine!

Getting stuck in Mom’s Longaberger basket:

Elaine 6 months in Longaberger basket

Elaine 6 months in Longaberger basket

Discovering that Drawers Open:

Elaine 6 months playing in drawer
“Whoa.  I didn’t know it could do that!”

Elaine 6 months playing in drawer
“Does this one work too?”

Elaine 6 months playing in drawer “What’s inside?  Anything fun to play with?”

Elaine 6 months playing in drawer
“Okay.  If I look at you for a picture will you leave me alone so I can play?”

Monday, May 24, 2010

Computer Geek

Elaine is…well…she’s a baby.  Into everything.  Curious about everything.  Eats everything (except her green beans).  It’s very hard to do much at the computer without little fingers trying to touch the buttons too.  Or move the cursor with the mouse.  You get the idea.  So the other day I had this {brilliant} idea.  Why not let Elaine “touch” Daddy’s laptop (while it is turned off) so I could work on mine without interruption.  Elaine {loved} the idea.  Turned out to NOT a {brilliant} idea (I should have known)!  Good thing Daddy wasn’t home!

Elaine 6 Months Computer Geek “Wow Mom.  You mean I can play with this one?”

Elaine 6 Months Computer Geek 
“Do you think Daddy will notice I’ve been on here?  It’s only a few fingerprints!”

Elaine 6 Months Computer GeekI absolutely {love} this picture!  Future blogger right there.  Curved fingers and all!  (Of course she was scraping at the keys, and actually succeeded in removing the spacebar key from the key pad…it clips back on, or I would be a dead wifey right now!)

Elaine 6 Months Computer Geek
“Hello?  Grandma?  Anyone on Skype?  I’m here.  Look at me!”

Elaine 6 Months Computer Geek “Maybe if I just push this button right here.  Or all of these buttons together.  Hmmmm.”

Hint to Grandparents: Elaine wants a computer for her 1st birthday!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Linkage

“Saturday Linkage” is not going to be a weekly feature on my blog, but occasionally as I find interesting articles in the blogosphere I want to pass them on to you.

:: Do babies know the difference between good and evil at just 6 months old?  I found this article to be an interesting read.

:: New Pampers diapers under Federal investigation for causing chemical burns.  For all my mommy friends in the blogosphere!

:: We have homemade pizza every Friday night from this recipe.  (from Money Saving Mom).  Ben said it’s the best!

:: I used this tutorial to create a custom blog header in blogger this week (maybe you already know how to do that, but I had to learn.  I used Gimp software)

:: Money Saving Mom’s coupon database (you can search by expiration date & coupon source)

:: Coupon Tom coupon database by Jill Cataldo (you can search by items generically or brand specific – this is my favorite coupon database)

:: Modern hymnwriters Keith & Kristyn Getty from Ireland*.  Download sheet music for church or choir use at a reasonable cost.

*Let me explain that I do not support the performance practices of Keith & Kristyn Getty, and I do not listen to their CDs.  However, the lyrics to their songs (the ones I have used – I have not read every single hymn) are very doctrinally sound and the music is designed to be easily “performed” – whether by a choir, individual, or church congregation.  My favorite is “Power of the Cross”. (You may recognize some of these songs from Pettit or Galkin Evangelistic Team recordings!)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Worm and Laundry Thief

Elaine *loved* sitting in the big rocking chair and reading her book!  She’s wearing a Massachusetts shirt that is too big for her, but I couldn’t resist it on the clearance rack at Target, especially since Ben is from Mass.

pict0018

pict0016

 pict0013

This morning Elaine decided to help me with the diaper laundry.  She *loves* standing up anytime she can get a hold of anything.  Here’s how it went…

pict0021Who can resist a fluffy bum?

pict0022 
“Ah!  Someone is stealing our diapers!”

pict0023
“Caught ya!”

I love this next picture…just chillin’, relaxin’, standin’ up on her own, leaning against the laundry basket, grinnin’ up a storm…

pict0026
That’s my girl!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Princess Destructo

Elaine was up very early today, and we ignored her.  Apparently she decided to “create” her own fun by “destroying” the crib!  When Daddy went in to get her, the bumper was untied, she was twisted in the crib, and her foot was against the fold-down panel pushing it in and out.  She liked the “bump-bump, bump-bump” noise it makes.  She was extremely happy, so I went for the camera.  (I know…I have too many pictures already.  But who can resist?).  Elaine has learned to smile when I get the camera, but she was so incredibly excited over what she had done in the crib that she couldn’t hold still for a picture!  This is how it went…

Elaine 6 months destroyed crib“Are you sure you want to take my picture?”

Elaine 6 months destroyed crib“Wouldn’t you like to see Bunny instead?”

Elaine 6 months destroyed crib
“But it’s so exciting!  Look what I did!”

Elaine 6 months destroyed crib “Hmmm.  I wonder what’s underneath here?  Oh.  Just my toes.”

Elaine 6 months destroyed crib “Now what do I do with it?”

Elaine 6 months destroyed crib “Ahhh!  I’ve been caught!”

Elaine 6 months destroyed crib After a hard morning’s destruction, she just had to roll in the floor!

Until next time, this has been a presentation in the life of Princess Destructo.  I mean Elaine.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

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Our Prayer Card to Brooklyn

Would you like to keep up with us once we move to New York?  Just fill out our simple form by clicking the link below.  We will email the prayer letter and updates.  If you do not have email, you may give us your address and we will do our best to mail a hard copy to you!

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Our first prayer letter can be viewed here.

Wordless Wednesday – Elaine loves bananas!

Elaine 6 months eating banana (Sorry…forgot the flash)

Elaine 6 months eating banana

Elaine 6 months eating banana

Monday, May 17, 2010

Congratulations to Dan & Rachael Brown!

On May 15, 2010 we attended the wedding of Dan & Rachael Brown.  It was a beautiful outdoor wedding and the weather was just about perfect.  Elaine did much better than we expected.  Here are a few pictures…

Dan & Rachael Brown's Wedding
Mr. Hildebrant and Rachael preparing for the entrance of the bride

Dan & Rachael Brown's Wedding 
Pastor Brown and Dan awaiting the bride

Dan & Rachael Brown's Wedding
The bridesmaids

Dan & Rachael Brown's Wedding 
Entrance of the bride

Dan & Rachael Brown's Wedding 
Mr. & Mrs. Dan Brown!

Dan & Rachael Brown's WeddingBen, Elaine, & Andrea with the happy couple

Dan & Rachael Brown's Wedding
Elaine was super happy at the reception.  She especially enjoyed the bells that were on the table!

Dan & Rachael Brown's Wedding
The cake.  They both ended up with frosting all over!  (I’m so glad that Ben was nice to me in that regard!)

Dan & Rachael Brown's Wedding
:: Kiss ::

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fish on the Fire

This past school year I have been attending a Bible Study on the Gospel of John.  Last Thursday we completed the study with chapter 21.  In this chapter, following Simon Peter’s lead, the disciples return to their former life of fishing on the sea of Galilee rather than waiting for the Lord as instructed.  They fished all night and caught nothing.  At daybreak a “stranger” walking along the shore calls out to them and inquires about their catch.  Sadly they respond that they have no fish.  Then the “stranger” instructs them to cast their nets on the other side, and He tells them they will find fish.  At this instruction, and the catch of 153 fish that followed, the disciples realize that the stranger on shore is the resurrected Jesus.  When they arrive they hear His invitation, “Come and dine,” and they discover that He already has fish and bread on the fire.  They had obeyed His command to fish on the other side, and I think that it reminded them they were supposed to be fishers of men.  Jesus didn’t really need the fish they had caught because He already had their needs supplied when they arrived.

As I studied this chapter my heart was full and overwhelmed – much like the nets of the disciples when they hauled in 153 fish.  As I reflected on all that God has done in preparing the way for us to move to Brooklyn, I was amazed at the goodness of God.  You see He already has the fish on the fire, and we have not even arrived yet!  As we found confirmation of His call to Brooklyn, and obeyed in preparing to be “fishers of men” in that place, we have found that He has the meal prepared to meet our physical needs.  Let me share some of my “fish” with you!

Once we had the answer to our prayers and confirmation of God’s leading to work at Bethel Baptist Fellowship, the blessings began to pour out.  First, we sold our second vehicle for more money than we expected on the very first day that we had it listed for sale.  Then I prayed for a washing machine in my apartment, which is rare in Brooklyn.  God provided us an apartment complete with a washer!  This was a huge blessing and “token for good” in my life!  The apartment is offered at a low price for it’s location and size, and our landlords are Christian people.  These are things above and beyond all that we could ask or think!

I was able to sell some of our furniture and make a good amount of money on my “yard” sale.  When I needed boxes for packing, I asked the Lord to provide some and He did so – for FREE!  People at church have given us boxes.  Friends sent us money to help with moving expenses and their generosity will pay for the moving truck, gas, and tolls to get us to Brooklyn.  My parents have paid the deposit on our apartment so that we can save some of our money.  They are coming to help us move from Virginia Beach, and Ben’s family is coming down from Massachusetts to help us unload. 

When we went to Brooklyn to sign the lease this weekend, we were informed that we would have free – yes FREE – internet access in the apartment!  Then the church family at Bethel stocked our kitchen with all kinds of food staples and cleaning supplies. When the Bickel’s told us that they had some things for our apartment I didn’t know what they meant.  When I saw the boxes and bags that Ben unloaded from the car I was overwhelmed.  I can barely believe that God would even want to use me in Brooklyn, and then I see how He is opening the way for us, step by step.  “What is impossible when God is on your side?”

To summarize, let me borrow the words of Hannah from 1 Samuel 2, after God answered her prayer for a child.

“And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.”

Bethel Pounding Bethel Pounding Bethel PoundingThese pictures are just a few of the things provided to us by the generosity of our new church family.  They are pictured on top of my answer-to-prayer washing machine – blessings upon blessings!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

No Spend Month - Update

We are almost half way through our no-spend month experiment.  It has been so good for us to do this, even if we don’t make it at the end (but I’m thinkin’ we’re gonna make it!)3rd-no-spend-month

Started with: $250 
Spent: $158
Remaining: $92

Notes:

  • Freezer and cupboards are stocked, so only milk has to be purchased through the end of the month.
  • Last three days are moving days, and moving expenses don’t factor into no-spend month.
  • Trip to NYC this weekend is separate, so the gas and food are not paid for out of the $250.

Things we have done to save money so far:

  • Took advantage of triple coupons to get over $60 in free groceries
  • Filled a new prescription at Target to get a free $10 gift card
  • Won an iTunes gift card from MoneySavingMom. I used this to get a new Adventures in Odyssey for entertainment on our trip to New York City.
  • Garage sale: $130 income.  Used some to go out to eat for Mother’s Day (along with a gift certificate I had).
  • Earned two free Chick-fil-A meals for being a Facebook fan and completing a survey.
  • Free ice-cream coupon arrived in the mail
  • Two free movie rentals from RedBox using free codes
  • Free moving boxes from Craigslist
  • Won a free pizza coupon from a giveaway at The Deal Scoop
  • Sold furniture on Craigslist and put it aside to purchase the dresser we will need for our new apartment.
  • We are staying in our new apartment rather than rent a hotel during our trip to Brooklyn. (It seems like a no-brainer, but it took us a while to come up with this solution!)

Additionally, the Lord has blessed us in many ways as we prepare for our move.  Although he is working a new route, Ben is having a record month so far in income.  People at church have donated boxes.  My parents are coming to help us move.  Ben parents are giving us a set of matching bookshelves.  The hotel we need for moving day was given to us at a discounted rate (even though it is Memorial Day).  Money was given to us to help with moving expenses.  It is more than enough to cover the moving truck, gas, and tolls to get to Brooklyn.  God has truly been good to us in meeting our every need.  (Why are we always surprised at that?)