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This year, we are doing electronic Christmas Cards. (Mainly because my apartment is in disarray, so we prioritized.) Next year we hope to be back to the good old fashioned kind. So here you are.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours.

This year our family has had many wonderful changes. No one really cares about what Jason and I are up to (though in case you are wondering it is mainly packing, tripping over boxes and toys and trying to maintain our sanity while completely enjoying our adorable little family)

Alexander has grown and changed so much since last year. He is such a fun lil Ham! We are noticing his personality to be very strong and wonderful. He is very concerned with tidiness (in his own little way). He makes sure our hats and coats are hung up, our dishes are in the kitchen etc. He loves to help with dishes and cooking and sweeping. He talks like crazy and is showing signs of being willing to potty train. But alas even at 19mos old he still despises sleeping. Naps, and bedtimes are still a struggle, but he is getting better. We love this little guy and everyday it seems he does something new to make us smile.

Kalea is pretty much the sweetest little girl you have ever met. She is such a joy of a baby.  We are very interested to see how her little personality will work out. She is very easy going and relaxed, but also very energetic. She loves loves loves her Johnny Jump up. and is about to crawl any day now. She will talk your ear off if you look at her. Ever so seriously telling you about her day. She lights up so easily and her smiles and giggles and eyes will light up the whole room.

After the New Year we will be moving to  a town away in our very own wonderful house. We greatly look forward to what 2011 will bring!

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There are few things that I love more than saving money. Except possibly (ok definitely) seeing my kids smiling and having fun! Enter : All Kids Stuff Sale. Pretty much the best thing ever for cheap thrifty parents.

It is basically a giant, amazingly organized garage sale, with some quality control. (They really don’t sell junk stuff) Priced somewhere between garage sales and chain re-sale shops (like Once upon a child). I have found that especially with baby/kids things getting something new is really overrated. The kids don’t use something long enough (in general) to make it worth the outrageous price that a lot of retailers put on the item simply because it is labeled “baby”. I went tonight and struck gold! Here is how I do it.

1. I sorted through all the kids clothes last week to see where they are lacking. (Alex only needs snow pants, Kalea some
more 6-9 or 9-12mo stuff. More on this later)
2. Jason and I talk about and compile a list of what we think the kids need, so I have a plan of attack going in.
3. I get there an hour before the doors open to the sale so I can get a front spot in the line.
4. First place I head is if I have any major items on my list (like a pack n play, stroller or crib.) This time my “big item” was outdoor toys.
5. If something even makes me think about it and it is a “big item” I grab the tag off of it (claiming it as mine, even if I can’t lug it around the whole sale) I can always put a purchase back.
6. I always go in with a budget and keep a running tally (roughly) in my head.
7. I re-evaluate all my purchases before I check out.
8. My general rule of thumb on pricing is : if I can’t make it cheaper, I will buy it. If I haven’t seen it cheaper I will buy it.

9. Unless there is a major clothing item (like a winter coat) I don’t purchase any clothes till Saturday. That is their half price day. There are soooooo many clothes that it is easier to even look for clothes when they have been kinda picked over.

So here is what I got last night:

All my finds

      

They will cook lots of yummy meals with this!

Some pretty cool inside toys.

Some pretty cool inside toys

Two wall hangings with matching bedroom set.

All in all I got : Play kitchen, lots of play food/dishes, outside swing, two baby dolls, baby basket, head bands for Kalea, play lawn mower, Little Tikes car, complete bedroom suite (including 2 twin quilts and 2 wall hangings), somewhere around 15 match box cars, somewhere around 10+ animal “action figures”

For a grand total of: $64.00.

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Today I am thinking about two messages. One our pastor delivered yesterday, the other from the ministry leaders conference my (wonderful and amazing) husband was at last week. One is about the heart being “deceitful above all things”. The other is about giving up your birth rite for a measly bowl of soup.

We all have a tendency to lie to ourselves. And even if we are “really good” Christians, our heart never gets rid of its desire to lie to us. Well, not lie exactly. Deceive. Which is a lot harder to detect. Because deceit has just enough truth in it to make it believable. (The serpent in the garden anyone?)

For instance, I can eat this cream stick today, I start my diet on Monday. I am deceiving myself, I am not going to diet on Monday, and even if I was that doesn’t mean I can gorge today! How about “I’ll tithe when I have more money, I can’t afford it now.” Really, when you have more money and a bigger house, more expensive car, larger credit card balances, THATS when you think you will tithe?

What’s worse is that when we are deceiving ourselves, we are giving up something great for simple bowl of soup. For those who may not be familiar with the story, in Genesis we learn about how Esau sold his birthrite, to his brother, for some immediate gratification of stew. He gave up God being the “God of Abraham Isaac and Esau” instead God is the “God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob”. Esau could have been the father of the entire nation of Israel, instead he sold that to his twin, for a bowl of soup. Its not even like he was starving, he could have just made it himself.

When I eat that cream stick today (because I’ll start my diet tomorrow), I am giving up feeling good about how I look. For 5 minutes of sugary pleasure and a stomach ache. When I choose not to tithe “because I can’t afford it” I am giving up the amazing blessings that God would pour out on me for stepping out on faith and giving back to him.

So here is what I am deceiving myself about. Please don’t think badly of me, but it is time I get honest.

I   am   a   poor   housekeeper.
Why? Because I am lazy and disorganized.

There I said it, it is out in the open now. I could say that its because Alex gets toys out everytime I turn around. Or that it is fall so the dog is shedding more. Or that our apartment is small and so it just seems messier. All of that might be true, but that has nothing to do with why my dishes are rarely caught up, or why there are baskets of clothes that need folded and put away. (Little bit of truth with a lie)

And what am I giving a clean house (and the peace and contentment and ability to “breath” that goes with it) for? An hour or two of TV or internet. See my apartment really isn’t all that big. I could clean it up really rather quickly if I just DID it. And I a m not even talking about giving up time playing and snuggling with my kids. (I wouldn’t give that up even for a clean house!) I’m talking about after they are fast asleep. You can ask Jason, I am a much pleasenter person when I have a clean house.

It will change though. Confession is the first step. I am not going to be perfect, but I am going to work on it. First thing I am going to do, is make a schedule for myself, and stick to it.

Now, these are both very powerful messages. Please don’t think I have trivialized them by applying them to my housekeeping skills. And please don’t think that this is the only area of my life to which they apply. This is merely the only area I am willing to share with everyone.

I challenge you, what are you deceiving yourself about? And what are you giving up for your “bowl of soup”?

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Kalea has started to sit… kinda. She has been sitting in  her Bumbo seat for a while now but in the last week or so she has started to semi sit unsupported. She sits on your lap really well. But if you put her on a blanket to sit she does what I call the “froggy sit”

Gotta love that one shoe look 😉 In all fairness in this picture she is resting against the couch.

She gets so proud of herself! She “sat” like this for  probably 5 minutes tonight

This picture looks worse than it actually is, he was showing me Kalea’s ears =)

Apparently Alex thought is little sister was a foot rest!

I know this probably isn’t a whole lot, but to me it seems early. Alex didn’t start froggy sitting until he was 5 mos! She just can’t wait to catch up with her big bro!

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I would do just about anything so see these two grin at me. And it is pretty easy to do, but they love to be tickled and chased and talked to and giggled. I captured a few  (or maybe a  million) on camera and thought I would share all (o.k. just some) of them with you!

This little sweet cheeks is so much fun, she can be fussing (though rarely does) and all I have to do is look at her and this is how she rewards me. =)

Aren’t her dimples just the most adorable thing ever??? (Its ok you don’t actually have to answer that)

This little silly man has started making his “cheese” grin. His eyes get all squinty and his little teeth just shine on through.  I pretty much <3 being a mom!

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When Alex was still really little and waking up every few hours at night, I had to do everything I could to stay awake while I nursed him. (I had yet to discover the wonderful side lying hold!) At the time we had cable, so I watched infomercials. I could give you all the stats on snuggies and knives, but one actually worked. I saw the Your Baby Can Read commercial. I really wanted to get them for Alex, but when we priced them, they were pretty expensive. I kept checking, and finally found some on e-bay. New, with all the DVD’s and some flash cards. It didn’t have all the bells and whistles, but the basic program was there. And a lot cheaper. So we got them.

Alex is the perfect example of a boy. He RARELY sits still, so the DVD’s up to this point haven’t really worked. But he loves the music and will actually sit still and watch most of the DVD (25 min)  nothing else holds his attention that long =) Alex likes to sit in his “big boy” rocker, and Kalea sits in her bumbo. They say that you can start the DVD’s at 3 mos. I know she probably won’t start “reading” for a long while, but hey it certainly won’t hurt! Tonight, Alex had to have his blanket, he kept readjusting it the whole time like he was trying to get comfy. It was really funny!

The way the program works is it shows a word on the screen, then shows an image associated with the word. They pair it with instructions for the kids to try and follow (Like wave to the babies) They teach animals and the appropriate noises. It is really pretty cool.

They also have songs in them and they put the lyrics up on the screen (like karaoke) Alex LOVES the music. I have a video of him but it apparently  can’t upload onto this site 🙁 But you can find the video here. Now I will warn you the graphics, and filmography are not really anything to write home about, but the kids love them and the program seems to work.

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Living the thrifty lifestyle isn’t always about the huge money saving things (like no cable/satellite TV)  Its about all the little things, that add up. Those mindless conveniences that we just purchase without even thinking about.

One of the “conveniences” We have eliminated in our home is paper towels. Went about the first 2 years of our marriage just purchasing paper towels as part of my normal shopping, mindlessly putting them in my cart. I would cost compare between brands and get the ones that are less expensive but that was about as far as it went.  Then I really took a look at it.

The CHEAP (as in thinner, poorer quality etc) paper towels were $1.00 a roll. I have a dog, a (wonderful and amazing) husband and an Alex. We make messes. There is not a day that goes by that we aren’t mopping things up. Or wiping children down. We used a LOT of paper towels, which does add up.  So we eliminated them.

I went to my local GW boutique and got 10lb of rags for $5. I use them to clean my bathroom, clean my floors, mop up spills (they are more absorbant anyway) and wipe down children =).

Is it any less convenient?  Nope. Here is my process:

I have 2 drawers of rags. One in my laundry room and one in my kitchen. At each end of the apartment. That way they are always conveniently located.

When I use a rag I hang it to dry (to prevent mildew until I wash) in laundry room then toss into a 5 gal bucket I got at my local bakery (it was free and had a lid. Just wash weekly.

$5 and I have all the spill clean up I will probably ever need.

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Wow… BORING I know that is what you are thinking. But I need some kind of an outlet for my inner nerd 🙂 So here is today’s Word of the Day.

Thrifty: (Merriam-Webster Online)

thriving by industry and frugality; given to or marked by economy and good management.

I seriously <3 that word. THRIVING by frugality.  Yep that’s what we do. We eliminate, get creative and have fun with our budget. We may not be rolling around tons of extra cash, but I would have to say that we are thriving. And on a much more limited budget than most I would guess.

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Jason’s family has a really neat tradition. Every child who is born in the family has his/her picture taken on their 3 month, 3 week and 3 day birthday. All of Jason’s aunt’s and uncles, his cousins and all his cousins kids take a picture on this day wearing the same outfit. (There is one for the girls and one for the boys). Today was Kalea’s 3-3-3. So we headed over to Grammies to take the pictures.

The little dress she is wearing is 66 years old and has had 18 of her relatives wear it on the same day of their lives. Pretty cool!

Here is Alex’s for comparison:

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