Want to raise generous kids???

If you want to build faith and character in your children, has some great Family Devotionals to get you started!


Groceries for a Family of 5 for Under $100 WITHOUT Clipping Coupons!!!

I am always working hard to trim my grocery budget because, lets face it, it is one of the only bills that I have very much control over from month-to-month.

In the last few months, I had been spending $130 on average every 10 days (down from $175 or so that I had been spending prior). During that time we had some unexpected medical bills and our car was totaled (hit from behind; everyone was safe, but the car was totaled).  So I had to do even better. I challenged myself to a $110 budget.  I brought along my oldest child for the trip and he was in on the challenge too!  When we got the receipt back for $80.10 my son high-fived me.  He didn’t even miss all the extras we left on the shelves to save all that dough!

As the title says, I do it without clipping coupons.  Good for you if you do clip coupons, but I have tried several times and they just don’t work for me.

Instead I work with a meal plan, shop sales, purchase very few to zero household products, and limit treats.  Also with very few exceptions my family drinks water.  Usually using these habits I stay around $130, but when I decided to really push it worked.  I will still give myself $110 to work with  in the future because I did have a few staples on hand but I hope I continue to have this kind of success.

For my $80.10 trip you may be wondering what I was able to get:

For breakfasts:



3 cartons of eggs (some will be for breakfast dinner)

Bread for toast

1 pint Blueberries

2 bags Frozen strawberries and bananas for smoothies


For lunches:

1 Watermelon

Turkey breast

Bread (4 loaves including breakfast)

Jar of peanut butter




Organic Carrots-I do not try to buy all organic because I can’t, but if the price is close I will splurge (also will use a few for one soup)

Pineapple fruit cups in 100% juice

Pear fruit cups in 100% juice

New york cheddar cheese (mom and dad eat snacks at night ;-))

Micro wave popcorn



Head of broccoli

1 lb Chicken breasts (boneless, skin-less)

2 lbs Ground turkey

Bag of onions

Mini Bell peppers (also for snacks)


Frozen Brussel sprouts

Blueberry pancake mix (for breakfast dinner)

Pint of blueberries (so yes that makes 2 pints)

Cheddar cheese (for taco night)

1 carton of vegetable stock

1 bag of frozen chicken tenderloins (about 2 lbs)

1 jar of tomato sauce-sometimes I make my own-not this time.  LOL

2 boxes of penne

Chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)

Corn on the cob

Iceberg lettuce

1 can of corn


Extra household:

Gallon slider zip bags for my daughter’s school



Tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream


A few items I already had on hand but may have bought: rice, beans, jelly, honey, coffee, tea, agave nectar, oil, vinegar, tortillas, and taco shells.

Here’s my receipt:



How I Feed My Family of 5 for Under $100 WITHOUT Clipping Coupons!!!

I will post my meal plan in the future.  🙂

No Discipline Seems Pleasant

As kids move from baby, to toddler, to big kid and on, one of our main jobs as parents is to equip them to fly out of the nest and build their  own.  We had kids pretty early into our marriage with the hopes of  having some time to ourselves again one day.

The day-to-day training of table-manners, kind speech, following directions, navigating the new technologies that are introduced by the second, not to mention enjoying our family can be taxing.

Just when I feel I have a discipline plan in place, my kids seem to adapt.  Maybe they get used to sitting quietly in time-out, they find something else to do while the rest of the family enjoys their dessert or whatever.

One way to keep the discipline relevant and creative is through life-consquences:  you break it, you buy it; you ignore the direction to wear a jacket, you feel cold; you track mud into the house, you clean it.


But sometimes it feels like the only one suffering from their behavior is me (and maybe my husband.)  Like when they break something they couldn’t afford anytime in the next 10 years, or when they are speaking in a whiny voice to get their way.  I know you parents know what I’m saying.

What creative discipline ideas have you tried?

How to Handle Summer Snacktime


Snack time is a VERY important part of the day for kids.

This summer I plan to use 30 minutes of the day for educational practice.  I am going to try to entice my kids to be excited about it with these colorful baskets and fun snacks.

They LOVE picking their own snacks, but I don’t want to be fixing them all day or running out of food two days after I go grocery shopping!


My plan is to have educational books, flash cards etc. in the baskets along with 5 (mostly) healthy snacks for the week.  Just 5!  So they can pick one each day to go with their “homework”.

Snacks will be things like fruit leathers, nuts, peanut butter crackers, applesauce and the occasional cookies.  My son detests nuts and peanut butter so his will be a little more repetitive than my girls’.




In the afternoon, I will do a something like carrots, grapes, or these pineapple popsicles.  (About 2 cups of pineapple and one cup of water pureed).


What healthy, inexpensive snacks do your kids enjoy?

Do you have plans for the summer? Help for parents who work from home

“Bees’ll buzz, kids’ll blow dandelion fuzz
And I’ll be doing whatever snow does
In summer
A drink in my hand, my snow up against the burning sand
Prob’ly getting gorgeously tanned
In summer”

Even Olaf the snowman is excited about summer!!!

Every home in America that has school-aged kids or teachers living in them is counting down the days until summer vacation.

As exciting as it is for everyone, it doesn’t take long until the whining begins,

“I’m bored!”  (In our family the use of the word “bored” is actually treated the same as profanity)

“What can I do?”

“I’m hungry!”

I truly believe my kids eat twice as much in the summer and I KNOW I do more dishes.

For parents who work from home, which my husband and I do, it can be even more difficult because your kids and all your friends and neighbors often think you are available to entertain.

Last summer I was geared up for being a perfect work-from-home mom.  I had centers, I had been collecting educational activities, I had my husband on board, I had created a daily schedule, and we even began practicing the schedule before the school-year ended.

But it was still hard!  There was a little too much bickering and I heard a little too much of the whining I was hoping to avoid.

I will do a few things differently this year:

1. Send them to camp (not for the whole summer but  4 weeks to space out the summer so we can appreciate each other when we are back together again.)

2. Use an adjustable daily schedule like this one I made


Adjustable Daily Summer Schedule

Last year I think our schedule was too rigid; if we had a change in the schedule I couldn’t communicate that as easily to the kids.  This new schedule has some firm spots (like resting time, mealtimes, and chores) but much more room to move things around for a rainy day, a playdate, etc.  I have a few more posters that I can swap out too!

(Here’s another blog with a great schedule idea:

3.  Utilize SOME paper plates (sorry environmentalists out there but I can only mentally handle doing dishes if its under 3 hours a day!!!)

4.  Be more realistic!  I’m sure this will not be perfect, but I will learn and tweak as I go.

What are your strategies for keeping summer fun, productive, and free of whining?

Crying Over a Cup of Tea


Every year on the Friday before Mother’s Day, my children’s preschool has a beautiful Mother’s Day  Tea and musical program.  I have been attending the tea for more than 5 years and I have grown to dread it!

Its adorable to see a two-year old sing “You Are My Sunshine” dressed up like a sun complete with yellow tutu and sunglass hair bow.  All of the children are totally cute with their clumsy little hand gestures and of course there’s always the unpredictability of young children going off script that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

But I always end up crying.  I don’t mean, I get a little teary-eyed.  I mean I cry until my nose is red and my face is swollen.

This has happened for the last three years.

For me, the adorable and sweet music that brings happy tears combined with the sadness that the tea party was something I used to attend with my mom is an emotional cocktail that I can’t completely handle.  My mind starts skipping through my memories of my mom directing children’s choirs and even preparing me for my first stage solo as a five-year old, and the emotion pushes me over every time.

This past year I was really concentrating on enjoying my tea, snapping a few pictures, and recording a couple of videos without all the tears.  (That’s usually how I handle difficult situations.  Mother’s Day, Christmas, mom’s birthday…I prepare myself in advance for the possibility of sadness and generally cruise through knowing she would want me to enjoy my life with my own kids.)

This year was supposed to be different, I was going to have a peaceful time.  But no!  I made a fatal error, I misread the invitation start time and instead of showing up at what I thought was twenty minutes early to get myself calm and ready, I showed up as my daughters class was walking on stage.  She got there just in time to go on without her pretty little costume.  I felt awful; guilty and embarrassed for messing up on the time and sad and emotional from all the sappy Mother’s Day songs.  I was such a mess I ran out crying leaving my purse behind.

I recovered by Mother’s Day, but after three painful years I have some great pictures and videos but I can honestly say, I have a love-hate relationship with that tea party!


5 Things that will Help Your Toddler Embrace Becoming a Big Brother or Sister

For some toddlers the addition of a new little brother or sister can be exciting.  For others, it can feel like an intruder.  And for mom and dad it can be overwhelming to watch your time divide even further.  Here are a few tips for a smooth transition:



There are so many ways you can help your older child look forward to his new little brother or sister through small, inexpensive gifts.

Make a Big Brother or Big Sister T-shirt together to wear to the hospital.

Take big brother to Build-a-Bear Workshop to make a special bear, bunny, or other friend for his new little sister.

Have a gift at the hospital to give big sister from her new sibling.

During the end of the pregnancy give a big-kid gift to your little guy to show he is not a baby anymore.  We gave this piggy-bank that emphasized responsibility to our son when his first sister was born:

money savvy piggy bank11

2-Read Together

Reading is a great tradition.  When I had my second child and was still in the hospital the first night, I did a full bedtime routine including reading a story to my toddler.  We read A Bad Case of Stripes.  He picked the book and brought it to the hospital to have me read.  It helped him know he was still important and his routines weren’t going to be disrupted by this invader.

Before the baby is born check out some of the great children’s stories available that give your child a little bit more of a concrete idea about what it will be like to have a new baby in the house.  I think we’ve read Berenstain Bears’ New Baby and The New Baby from The Little Critter Series at least fifty times each.


3-Special Plans for the First Weeks Home

For my kids, a new baby in the house has meant FUN, FUN, FUN!  In the months leading up to the birth, we lined up play-dates, grandparent fun days, pool days, library trips etc.  It was like summer camp!

4-Get Some Help

For most toddlers just a few minutes of your undivided attention will go a long way.  Get somebody who loves newborns as much as I do to hold your little bundle while you get down on the floor and build a block city or sip on some pretend tea out of a plastic cup with your older child.

5-Pray Together

I read a quote today that I loved by Alan Redpath:  “when God is at the center, self is destroyed,  and love begins to reign.”  Ultimately, we want our children not just to coexist and tolerate one another, but really love each other.  Get your little guy or girl to start praying for his new baby sister or brother.  Help him with the vocabulary to consider being a protector of the new baby, to think about how to serve you and his new baby sister or brother.  Allow your son or daughter to consider how amazing God is for creating this new being that you haven’t even met yet.  Toddlers are notorious for being selfish.  Help your son love his new sibling and that will be enough!

Congratulations on your new baby and on moving toward being outnumbered by your children!