Friday, September 9, 2011

A Prayer Request - God Working His Plan

When I was in high school and college, I always enjoyed delivering Thanksgiving baskets with my church the Monday before Thanksgiving.  I have always loved missions, and this was a way for me to give back to my community.  Through the many years that I delivered the baskets, I met a lot of needy families, went to some unusual places for delivery, and traveled to many areas of the town that I was never allowed to be in before.  Many distinct images are stuck in my head from these experiences.  However, one image became a constant prayer request in my daily walk with God.  Words can never justify this experience, but here is a recap of that one time:

On this occasion, I was the driver for our group to deliver Thanksgiving baskets.  As I drove to the new spots, my delivery group (It probably consisted of David Watts and Kay Gibbs but I don't remember for sure.  We were like the three amigos on Thanksgiving Basket Day...haha!) always discussed how we were going to handle the next stop.  However, we always knew that anything could change this plan.  For this specific place, we had the address to the place, and we knew to expect a lot of children.  However, I was not exactly sure of where this place was located although I knew exactly where the street was.  After finally finding the place, we drove up to a pretty run-down trailer with the door wide open and children running everywhere.  I remember as I got out of the Jeep that a little girl ran up to me in only a diaper.  She could not talk, but she was very loving.  As we got the stuff out of the Jeep to deliver, the kids yelled for the adult.  (I cannot remember if it was their mom or grandmother, but I do remember a woman.)  We walked up on the porch to deliver the basket of goods.  The whole time I walked the little girl followed me.  As we got on the porch, a lady came out of the house.  I remember we talked a long time to the woman about God and inviting her and the family to church.  Before we left, she wanted us to put the basket in the house.  We typically did not try to go in houses, but with the door wide open and all the kids running around we decided that it was probably best that we did.  No words can describe the inside of that place!  My heart broke knowing that the kids outside were living here.  On top of kids, the inside was inhabited with cats.  We tried to quickly find a place to set the stuff and get out.  I was glad the woman did not come inside with us, because I am sure my face showed everything I was thinking and feeling.  Before we left, I remember we were able to say a prayer with the woman and invited her once more to church.  As we pulled out of the driveway, that same little girl stood on the porch just a waving.  I vowed on the way back into town to always remember this family in my prayers, and I have never forgotten about them especially that one little girl that stood out above all the others.

Well, back to present, like any school year teachers get their lists in the mail right before school starts back.  I got mine and only recognized two names off my list.  I always look forward to meeting new people and was excited about the first opportunity to meet my new students and their families on Curriculum Night.  Before the night began, I was told that I had a student that would have to be moved from my classroom, because she had recently been diagnosed with Autism and she would need extra assistance.  However, the move would not be happening until a couple weeks into school due to all the paperwork and so forth not coming in yet.  I was hesitant about this at first, but I pushed on like I always do.  When the girl and her family came to Curriculum Night, I immediately knew that I knew her from somewhere.  I just could not put my finger down on it at the time.  It drove me nuts the whole time I was talking to her mom that I knew I knew this girl from somewhere.

Well, the first week of school began and the little girl stayed in my room.  However, I received a letter stating that she would be moving from my room during the next week so she could receive the extra assistance.  The day I got the letter I realized that this girl was the little girl that I had met on that one Thanksgiving Basket Delivery Day many years ago.  To be positive, I went and asked a lady that had worked for the family if the family had once lived at this certain location.  The lady was astonished that I knew, she verified my speculations, and explained that they had gotten in a church and the church was helping them a little.  My heart melted as I realized that this little girl that I had been praying for for years was actually in my classroom.  I knew this had to be God's plan.

I went home that night and began praying to God to have his way in this situation.  I knew the plan was to move the girl from my room, but I truly believed that she had been put in my room for a reason.  After praying and talking with Kevin, I decided that I was going to ask if she could stay in my room for the year.  The next day I went to an administrator and asked if she could stay in my room.  I did not go into detail about the situation, because I knew if it was God's plan that it would all work itself out.  The administrator said that she was perfectly fine with her staying in my room since she knew that I would meet her special accommodations.  However, we would have to meet with the child's mother to see if this was OK with her.  I continued praying for the situation as I waited for the meeting, and I was content with anyway the solution went.  I was just still in view that it was God's plan for her to stay with me.  However, Kevin was still the only one that knew that this was the same little girl that I had prayed for over the years.

On the day of the meeting, I was not sure what to think.  Everyone was in agreement that the girl had came so far with me in so short of time that it was in the best interest of her to stay in my classroom.  However, I still needed the mom's approval which would be the deciding factor.  We (the new teacher for the child if she got moved and many others) met with the mother after school.  The options were told to the mother of what could be done for the child.  In hardly no time, she agreed that the girl should stay in my classroom!  I was so relieved, because I knew it was in God's plan since no one knew the history this little girl and I had.  The next day the little girl was excited to hear that she would be staying in my classroom.  However, I knew I just added a lot more to my plate of teaching.  I was not stressed though because I knew it was in God's will.

Prayer Requests:
With this little girl being in my room, comes a lot of work for me. 
Please pray that I will have the time throughout the day to devote to her.
Pray that she is able to make gains in a regular classroom.  (She has already, but continue to pray that she will continue.)
Pray that I will have the patience to work with her in areas that she needs help in.
Pray that the other boys and girls treat her with kindness.  (It is so sweet watching them volunteer to help her.  I am hoping this continues throughout the year.)
Pray that I am able to show the love of Jesus Christ to her and her family daily through my actions, doings, and expressions.
Pray for the girl's future. 
Pray that if I am to tell the family of our unique situation that I will know when the perfect time is.

The list could go on and on, but please pray for this little girl and me throughout the school year.  I know I just took on a huge task, but I am positive with God on my side I can make it work.  

"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." Philippians 2:13

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer 2011

Wow!  What a crazy summer!  I don't know where to begin.

As stated here I started Grad School this summer.  I have really enjoyed being back in school.  I guess the nerd side of me is coming out.  I took a class in June and am finishing a class from July.  So far so good.  I have A's in both classes.  I will take two more classes during the Fall term.

In June, I was asked to present at The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence's Summer Conference in Memphis.  Not only was I able to present, but I also was able to sit in some amazing sessions.  I really learned a lot from the two days.

Of course, Kevin and I made many trips to our house at the river over the summer.  We really enjoy going up on the weekends and relaxing while we are there.  We bought a boat back in the Fall so we got to enjoy it a lot this summer.

Kevin and I also celebrated our 1 year anniversary.  On the Friday before, we went and enjoyed dinner at Texas de Brazil in Memphis.  On the way there Kevin surprised me with the other band to my wedding ring.  I was so excited!  The following day we left for a week long "staycation" at our house at the river.  We enjoyed relaxing, finishing some projects on the house, and getting everything ready for the 4th of July.  It was nice to be rested up and ready for when others came up later in the week.  When we got back home in Brownsville, we enjoyed cutting into our wedding cake that had been in the freezer the past year.  It was actually really good too!

In July, Kevin went full force hauling and I prepared to go back to work.  I started the month off taking over the Varsity Football Cheerleading squad at our local high school along with a good friend.  The month was full of practices and camp.  I also attended a technology conference in Dyersburg and eCLASS inservice days at one of the local schools.  The rest of the time I worked on getting stuff ready for my classroom.

Our summer was truly busy, but I would not have it any other way.  I am excited about the upcoming school year and what it has in store.  Kevin is ready for the weather to cool down a bit and the cotton to start appearing.  We are taking life day by day.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bless the Broken Road

It's hard to believe that Kevin and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary last week.  (I'll have to write about the anniversary in another post.)  It seems like yesterday we were meeting for the first time uptown.  Even though we went our separate ways for many years, God had a bigger plan for us.  Years later I would be proposed to in the exact spot where I met Kevin years before. 


It seems like a fairy tale and I never would have thought we would be where we are today, but I thank God that he "blessed that broken road that led me straight to" him years later.  

This is the slideshow that played in our wedding:
video
Special thanks to Blair Simpson and Mike Castellaw for the music.

A look at some of our Big Day from a year ago:



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ABC - It's Easy as 1-2-3!

ABC - It's Easy as 1-2-3 is what I am singing (or praying) as I embark on my new journey - grad school.  I have been accepted into grad school to get my Master's degree in Educational Leadership through the University of Tennessee at Martin. 


This has been a huge work in progress that started back last year before the wedding.  I knew that I always wanted to further my education, but I just did not know when exactly a good time would be.  Well after the wedding, I decided that there really will not be the perfect time, but I just needed to go for it.  I started researching various schools and found that through UT Martin I could do all my work online which is great for a person with a jam packed schedule like me.

My first obstacle was the dreaded GRE.  I decided that I needed to make sure I could pass it before I went on with the application process.  I studied up on the format of the test and what to expect the night before the test.  Yes, the night before!  I am so thankful for Kevin leaving the house for awhile that night so I actually would sit down and read over the stuff.  I have never been much on studying for huge tests like the ACT, Praxis, etc.  I figured if I know the stuff I know it if not then I just won't know it.  That Saturday I journeyed to Lambuth University to take the test.  Let me just say that the GRE is not like any other test I have taken (or at least at Lambuth it was).  First, it is all on a computer. Second, you are on your own in a cubby with a camera behind you so a little lady can watch your every move in another room.  Third, you have to do a lot of writing.  (Thank goodness for teachers like Mr. Norvell who provided me with a good basis for writing.)  Fourth, when you submit your final test your scores come up on the computer for the part that wasn't writing.  Oh what terror that brought me!  What if I had done all that work for nothing!  I knew what I needed so I hit submit and I made above that score.  I was thrilled!  Then, I just had to wait on my writing scores to come in the mail.  I got those back, and I was excited to continue with the process.

I had all the items for my application file turned in to the university in January.  However, the college was waiting on a transcript from a school that I attended online for one class one summer during my college years.  In March when Martin had still not received the transcript, I began making phone calls and the college had lost my files in a change in servers and failed to notify me.  Thank goodness they were able to get a tech person to find it out in cyber space!  So we were waiting again for Martin to receive it.  Well May came around with the deadline quickly approaching and they had still not received it, I got on the phone again to see what the problem was this time.  The college mailed my transcript to Martin, TX.  Ahh!  I was so mad, because there was no way that a copy could get to UT Martin before the deadline.  Thank goodness for the gracious man on the other end of the phone who offered to call the school and explain that it was their fault and not mine that my transcript had not been received.  Martin was still not able to ensure me that I would get it since I technically missed the deadline, but they were going to try to persuade the panel to let me in.

Memorial Day weekend I got an unofficial e-mail from a lady from Martin saying that I had been accepted and to expect the letter in the mail the following week.  I finally got my letter on Thursday, began making phone calls to my advisor and such on Friday, and found out school started that Monday!  What a whirlwind it was trying to get everything set up for me to be prepared for my first class, but I was so thankful to be in the program.  So far, I actually love being back in school!  I am hoping that I will continue with this mindset through the whole program.  I'll be sure to update as the time passes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Three Years of Teaching

Wow!  I can't believe that I just finished my 3rd year teaching.  It seems like yesterday I was starting my first year.  So many things have occurred over the 3 years that I will never forget.  Here are some of those lasting impressions (good and bad) and some things that continue to live on: (Thank goodness I have pictures of lots of these things so I will never forget.)

- No lights on my very first day of teaching.
- Phone calls and letters in Spanish that I actually was able to understand. (Learning Spanish is a major Bucket List goal.)
- Annual Vocabulary Parade
- Tornado warning that lasted so long my students fell asleep
- 4 classrooms in 3 years - in the same grade and same school (Let's just say I don't have too much junk :))
- Starting Recycling (Fridays have become a memorable day every week with the kids doing Recycling.)
- Falling out of my chair during Small Group Reading Time (Yes, my kids know I'm clumsy!)
- Charlotte the Spider Scarecrow and Recycling Reggie Scarecrow (So much fun to do each year!)
- Classroom Olympics
- Leak causing a huge mess in the classroom (Yay! It's now fixed.)
- Top Toucan each week
- Stoufee (a huge doll from Children's Museum) falling over during a presentation
- Annual Grandparent's Day in the classroom
And the list could go on and on!





Most of all I will never forget the memories I have made with each student.  It is so fun getting to know the students at the beginning of each school year, but yet so hard to say good-bye at the end.  I learn so much about their home life, their feelings, and their families that I grow so attached to them.  I hope I always keep my passion for teaching for many years to come.  I couldn't imagine doing anything else!


This year I earned two more things to add to my list.  I earned tenure with Haywood County School and I earned my Professional Teaching License.  Two more things to mark off my goals for this year!  Now, it is on to planning and creating things to make next year successful.  I can't wait to see what the next school year holds, but I will never forget the past years.  They are what made me what I am today.

Here's a video that highlights some of the things we did this past year in Room 10:

video

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's for Dinner?

I have worked really hard to create a recipe book that contains some of my family's favorite recipes all in one place.  I began this project a few years ago as a Christmas present to my mom and aunt, but I never made myself one which was a big mistake.  Over the past few months, I have regretted it especially after I started planning weeks ahead of time and couponing.  Over Spring Break, I made myself sit down and make one.  (One of the items on my ever growing To Do Lists.)  What a help it has become in my daily routine!

If you read my post on couponing, you read how I have been planning my dinner plans in two week segments.  This not only prevents me from buying unnecessary items, but it also cuts down my grocery shopping to two times a month.  Well everytime I would sit down to plan it out, it would take forever (or at least it seemed like forever).  I would have to go through various cookbooks in search of my favorite recipes.  I needed them all in one place so I made my own cookbook.


This notebook contains some of my family's favorite recipes.  Each recipe I have typed to take up a half sheet of paper with two recipes per page.  The recipes are divided by category.  If I try a new recipe and I like it, I put a note in the back pocket to remind myself to add it to the collection.  If I happen to find a recipe that sounds good but I haven't had a chance to try, I place a note in the front pocket.

When it gets time to create my meal plans for the upcoming weeks, I can grab my notebook off the countertop and make a list from there.  This has helped so much!  As a bonus, when someone asks me for a recipe I already have it typed and on my computer where it's easy to print off or e-mail.

One more thing completed off my list of "When I was 25...". :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rise and Shine, Ready or Not!

At the beginning of the year, I took on a position teaching a tutorial class before-school.  Since I don't mind early mornings (once I get up), I thought this was a great opportunity for some extra money.  Little did I know that when the program ended for the year last Thursday that I would miss my before-school class each day.
My before-school class consisted of a small group (typically around 8 - 10) of students that needed a little extra boost to succeed in first grade.  They each came from various first grade classes and were from many different backgrounds.  I grew to love seeing them each morning and to hear what all happened from the day before. 

Each day, they would come to my classroom when the school first opened (7 o'clock).  I would be waiting on them to see how things were going, get them started on some flash cards or file folder games, and help them with any life problems. (Oh if you could only be a fly on the wall to hear about their problems sometimes.  It could be as minor as their jacket not unzipping and the students making fun of them or as major as a huge problem with another student.)  At around 7:15, once everyone had gotten to the classroom we would join together for some time to learn the skills for the week.  I would concentrate on what I knew they needed to know to do well in their class.  They were excited to work on the Promethean Board in my room since most of them do not have one in their own classroom.  After almost 30 minutes of reteaching/reviewing/introducing, I would walk the students to the cafeteria for breakfast.  This was where I said good-bye each day.

When I took this job on, I thought my position as their before-school teacher would stop there (when I dropped them off at the cafeteria for breakfast).  Oh was I wrong!  Many times throughout the day, the students would stop me in the hall when they saw me to tell me how they were doing.  Occasionally, I would have one come visit me in my classroom to show me their proud accomplishments on a paper.  In the afternoons during dismissal, one would even stop to give me a good-bye hug and to make sure I would be waiting on her first thing in the morning.  What a rewarding experience! 

The kids were disappointed last week when I told them that Thursday would be the last day for before-school.  I have to say I was a little disappointed too.  Now, it wasn't for the extra money, but it was because I was wanting to finish the year with these kids.  We had grown a bond together just like I do each year with my precious students in my regular classroom.  I explained to the students that they could stop by anytime to see me.  However, I wasn't sure if they really would especially early in the morning.

Wow was I wrong!  Yesterday morning (Monday morning and the first week without before-school), I was working in my room at 7 o'clock (I told you I like early mornings!) when a little boy from before-school walked in my room.  I explained to him that we didn't have class anymore, and he inreturn said that he knew this but he wanted to get a hug from me to get his day started off right and so that he would do good on his TCAP.  My heart broke!  Here was a kid who I struggled to get to come to me at first, because he thought it was punishment.  Now, he was wanting to come see me.  Well, he came again this morning and right behind him was a girl from before-school.  I thought she was coming because she saw him, but instead she was coming to say hi and to get a hug.  Here was a girl that barely spoke two words to me during class time.

I don't take the credits for this.  I primarily started this for the money, but God sure did have a different plan for me.  I will forever remember my first before-school class and each student in it.  I hope to keep track of them throughout the years and see how far they go.  I hope to be able to do this again next year if given the opportunity.  Please pray for these students as well as the ones that I have the great privilege to teach each day.  Please pray for me day to day to be the example they need in their lives, to say what God would want me to say, and to help them learn all they need to succeed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Falling in Love of Water?

In January, I read the book Made to Crave by Lysa Turkeurst.  Oh what a life changing moment that was for me! 

Right before I began to read the book, I had decided that I was going to take out all caffeine drinks and sweet tea from my everyday routine.  I have done this many times before, but I always had a criteria for it.  (Ex. - I'll drink whatever I want at a meal but only drink water any other time.  I'll drink water throughout the week and whatever I want on the weekends.  And the list goes on.)  My life revolved around going to Sonic at Happy Hour and getting a Large Sweet Tea to drink or walking during my planning time to the break room to get a Dr. Pepper out of the coke machine.  I knew this was not good for my health, and I wanted to do better.  Therefore, I decided at the beginning of January to only drink water.  I knew I would still have to leave in milk and orange juice for the mornings, but otherwise I wanted to only drink water.  I mean I could do this right?  I could always put Crystal Light in my water if the taste got old.  Oh, how I wish it was that easy!  Thank goodness that I began reading this book right after I decided to do all this.

Now everytime I crave a sweet tea to drink, I am able to take a moment to thank God for all he has done and reflect on my relationship with him.  It has not been easy, but with God's help and my loving husband I have been able to go over 3 months with water! 

My students have even gotten in on it and have become my accountability partners at school.  My new water bottle keeps up with how much I drink a day, and they are constantly coming to see what number it is on and pushing me to drink more.  I'm so glad that I am able to be a good example for them.

I'm not stopping at 3 months so check back to see how long I last!  I encourage you to read Made to Crave.  It is a great book that will change you!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Organization

One of my goals for this year was to get organized.  I know some of you are probably thinking how much more can you do.  I always have plans on getting even better at organization.  It is probably the only way I am able to do as much as I do in a week's time.  It is so nice to have things exactly where they go and ready whenever I need it. 

Well this week was Spring Break for our school system and Kevin was busy working, so we were not able to do anything together so my week mainly consisted of Spring Cleaning.  Although I am not completely done cleaning, I took on a challenge that I have been dreading since I moved in this house.  As most of you know, I bought my house to remodel it.  Here are some pictures if you missed out on that: (These are about a year old so some things have changed as we are constantly doing things to improve the house.)






Well, Kevin came back in the picture after the house was pretty much finished.  (It's a joke that he planned it that way, but that's not the truth.)  The hall closet/coat closet/whatever you want to call it had been the storage for all the tools and such as we worked on the house.  Well when Kevin and I got married, we pretty much let the closet go.  We never really cleaned it up from the mess that was in there from the remodeling.  We straightened it up every so often in order to store our coats and such in it, but nothing as to what it needed.  It was that closet that you hope no one ever opens the door to, because it is embarrasing.  It had nails, paint, tools, etc all in it.  Well I decided to tackle this nightmare over Spring Break.  I was determined to get it organized for once.  Here is what the closet looked like before:


I told you it was bad!  This closet so did not reflect me.  I know some of you are thinking it is just a closet, but if you know my personality this has driven me crazy since I moved in.  I would do the best I can to straighten it up in short amounts of time, but it needed a whole day devoted to cleaning, going through, and organizing the stuff.  Really it was stuff!  Well I have to say I am pretty proud of my new closet, and I will not be embarrased for anyone to open the door to this closet again.  Here is the finished product:


One step closer to better organization and accomplishing another goal from "When I Was 25"!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Couponing!

A lot of people have asked me to explain what I do to be successful at couponing.  First of all let me say a few things. I am no means a pro at this like some others. (If you have seen the show Extreme Couponing, you know what I mean.)  As most of you know, I do not have a lot of extra time so I try to make my couponing experience as hassle free as can be.  I also do not have a stockpile room or a pantry to say the least so we only buy what we need.  (Hopefully, one day I will have a pantry and maybe a freezer!) I only coupon in order to save money for something else down the road.  Plus it feels great to know you did it!  So here are things I did to get started: (I'll write more later about more things you can do.  Let's just get started.)

1)  Coupon Organizer - I guess you could say I am an organizing freak so it was vital that I have something to store my coupons before I get them.  I bought an organizer from a dollar store that works well for me and that will fit right into my purse.  I know my sister-in-law uses a big photo album so she can see all her coupons.  It is really whatever works for you.  I like easy access and the fact the coupons are organized.  My grocery coupons are organized into sections - New (for any coupons I have not had time to file), About to Expire (for those coupons that I see are about to expire but I don't want to use at that current time), Breakfast, Cooking, Snacks, Condiments, Fridge, Freezer, Bathroom, Cleaning, Around the House, Outdoors.  I, also, keep a small pair of scissors in this one so I always have some.

Recently, I have outgrown my coupon organizer due to other store coupons.  I bought a new coupon organizer (almost the same as the other).  In this organizer, I am keeping other store coupons.  I did have all my coupons and store rewards cards all in my first coupon organizer.  Here are the sections for that organizer - Kroger, Walgreens, Discount Stores, Local Diners, Fast Food, Restaurants, Local Stores, Clothing Stores, Houseware Stores, Hobby Stores, Other.  I am keeping any coupons, gift cards, and reward cards in here.


2) Finding the Coupons - Once you have a place for your coupons, it is time to start couponing.  Newspapers are a great place to find coupons.  I have a weekly subscription to the States Graphic where you can sometimes find coupons.  I,also, buy the Commercial Appeal every Sunday.  I take the coupons out and then give it to my dad to read.  (I only buy one, because that is efficient for the amount of coupons for Kevin and I, but I know some places say buy more than one.  I just don't see the need in this unless you have a huge family.)

There are many coupons blogs, websites, etc out there.  You have to find the one you like the most if you want to follow one.  (I would highly recommend having a separate e-mail account if you follow some.)  However, I do well not actually following one.  Here is where I find my coupons.  First of all I joined a point community called Mypoints.  Go here http://www.mypoints.com/.  Here you receive points for printing coupons which can be used for future gift cards. (I'll make another post soon about shopping online. :))  On Mypoints, I go to the post Deals - Grocery Coupons.  Here they have coupons from the sites coupons.com, smartsource.com, and cellfire.com.  Instead of going to each of these sites, I can just go to Mypoints, log on to my account, and get all my coupons here.  If you don't want to sign up for Mypoints, definitely go to these websites.  Cellfire loads coupons to your Kroger card which is becoming more popular. 

Another site that I sometimes check is Redplum.  http://www.redplum.com/  I have found that coupons overlap from one site to another so make sure you aren't printing the same ones over and over.  If you do to choose to go to Kroger (check previous post), make sure to go to kroger.com, register your Kroger card, and upload online coupons from their site as well. 

If you set up another e-mail, a great e-mail I get frequently is Free Coupon Alerts.  This e-mail keeps me up-to-date with new coupons that have come out.  You can sign up for it at http://www.freecouponalerts.com/

3) Understanding Coupons - Most coupons you print online especially from any of the online coupon databases expire within a month from printing.  At the end of the month, coupon databases typically change coupons up so I try to print what I need before the 1st of each month.  Most stores accept coupons that say Manufacturer's Coupon. Some stores double coupons all the time, some at certain times, and some not at all, make sure you know so you can save the most (I'll try to write more later about this.)  Make sure to give your coupons to the cashier before checking out.  There are many ways to find coupons, you just have to have the time. 

I hope this gets you started.  I have some more helpful insights into couponing if you would like to hear, but I really need to get back to Spring Cleaning (another goal of mine for being 25).  Remember my couponing experience all started with a goal.  It is where you take your goal in order to be successful. 

Elizabeth

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Living a More Frugal Life

One of my goals each month to see if I can save more money that the previous month.  The only thing is the money cannot come directly out of a paycheck, bank account, or so forth. (Though that is great to do!)  The money I save has to be something that I have done to work for in order to make my life more frugal.  Oh what a challenge this has been, but I think I am finally getting the hang of it.

Well March has arrived.  Tonight I sat down to see how much I saved in February.  I saved my highest amount of money so far!!! Almost $150!!! ($147.15 to be exact)  You may ask how do I do this?  It is done in many different ways, but let me tell you what was almost over half of my savings - savings on groceries!  Yes I have fallen a victim of extreme couponing.  Let me tell you it takes time which as most of you may know I don't have a lot of, but somehow I have fit it in my schedule.  However, that's not all that has helped me with my grocery shopping.  Here is what I have started to do:

1) I made a plan back in January to only go to the grocery store twice a month.  I was going once a week, and I dreaded it each and every time.  Now, I have started going around the 1st and 3rd weekends of each month. 

2) Before I take out for that not so fun trip, I sit down and plan enough meals for a two week time span.  I make sure to plan for some easy meals, crock pot meals, desserts, and so forth.  I try to make sure that some of the things that I plan to cook will have enough for leftovers, because that allows Kevin and I to use it as lunch for the next day. 

3) Once I have my meals, I create a list of all the things I need for the meals I have planned for, everyday necessities, and other wants.  Everything from the ingredient list for a recipe goes down, because I do not want to get ready to cook the meal and not have it.  I go through our refrigerator and cabinets in order to mark things off the list that I may already have. (I wish we had a stockpile room, pantry, or something, but I will have to live with my few cabinets for now.)  With my list I know how many eggs I need, how many cups of flour I will need, and so forth.  I can easily mark things off my list that I have enough of already in my kitchen.

4)  With my final list, I sit down and go through my coupons.  (I will have to write down all my couponing tips later, but I carry a small organizer in my purse that I sort my coupons in.)  I pull out the coupons that I know I will use or think I may use.  I make sure that if I have more than one coupon for the same item that I pull the one that has the closest expiration date to my shopping trip. 

5) After I have my coupons ready, I head out to the grocery store.  Here is where my most life changing event has taken place.  I have always bought groceries in Brownsville at Wal-Mart, but I realized a few months back that I can save so much more by going to Kroger.  So, I typically travel to Covington to there Kroger.  (I would love to support my hometown, but this has been my best choice for myself.)  Kroger not only doubles coupons, but they also allow you to save lots of money by using your Kroger Savings Card.  I, also, can concentrate more on my grocery shopping, because I am not constantly seeing people I know.  (I am Queen of spending more time talking to other people than shopping when going to the local Wal-Mart. Joys of being in a small town.)

6) While at Kroger, I almost 100% stick to my list.  I try not to stray from the list.  I took a lot of time to prepare that list, and I know that I will have everything I need if I go by it.  A big mistake is if you go to the store and think something is a good deal and buy it just because.  Don't buy it unless you have a plan for it!

This is how I have saved $100 this past month just in grocery shopping alone.  I cannot wait to see how much I can save next month.

Friday, February 11, 2011

When I Was 25...

Last Friday (February 4), I turned 25.  I know most people make New Year's Resolutions, but I had decided this year that I wanted to make goals for "When I Was 25..".  I mean I only turn 25 once, and I might as well make the most out of the year. 

One of the goals was to keep track of my progress over the year, and I thought this would be a great start to a blog.  So my first goal was to create a blog for our family.  That goal has been accomplished and has led you to here - Lovelace Landing.  Now comes the task of maintaining this blog.  I am really going to work on this.  Hopefully I will have lots of accomplishments to share throughout the year.  Please check back often to see what is going on "When I Was 25.." 

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