Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Homeschool = Success

If you ever have a chance to talk to Lily, it takes just a few minutes to realize that she is smart. She loves to learn! Since before her birth, the topic of education was discussed. Because of the area we live in the options are really limited. We are limited by the fact there is only one private school within a 20 minute drive. Personally, I don't feel that this school provides a good education and therefore it was never on our list of possibilities. Matt and I both agree that the public school are not the best but not the worst either. Homeschooling was the other option. We both are torn on this issue, but agree that neither feel we can provide an education better than the public schools and that socialization is just as important as the education. I don't want to offend anyone who has a different view but these are our thoughts after much discussion and pray. These fact together with our realization that Lily is very intelligent have been discussed many times at our house. I realized that you need to teach a child when they are ready to learn and feel that if you don't start when they are ready then you miss the opportunity. Lily was ready to learn at around age four. We have starting doing Preschool with her prior to Zach's birth. Kendall joined as she was ready probably around 18 months or so. Last spring, I started looking into options for Kindergarten for Lily. Because of her age she was not allowed to start public school until the fall of 2011. I talked to several people and discussed a little known fact that if a child attends a private school then when transitioning into public school they will be placed according to ability and grade complete at the private school. Homeschooling seemed like an option to give Lily the best start we could. I checked with the state on regulation for Homeschooling. North Carolina will not recognize a home school until the oldest student attending is at least 8 years old. So we had no assurance that by completing a year of homeschooling she will definitely be able to start public school as a First grader.

Matt has spend the majority of time this year providing the schooling. I have been responsible for developing the ideas and paperwork to complete on a daily basis. I chose not to purchase a curriculum because of the expenses as well as my feeling that I wanted her to go as far as she could in this first year. I did purchase several work books from the Educational story and used my own knowledge to try and guide the process. Teaching her to read was big on the agenda and I took a suggestion from a teacher and purchased "Teaching your child to read in 100 easy steps." Matt has used this and Lily is now officially a reader. Writing I taught using Handwriting without tears. Mainly this year has been practice as she already knew the correct formation of most of the upper and lower case letters. I have returned to the Educational story several times to purchase Math books. Currently in Math, she is adding and subtracting up to 20, telling time to the half hour and using money for simple things.

In February, I contacted the local school to find out if and how we could try and register Lily as a First grader. After several conversations, it was determined she would need to be tested. The principal arranged the test for Memorial Day 5/30. The testing occurred yesterday. Lily is officially a first grader in August! She was given the test that is completed by Kindergarten's at Davis Townsend. In reading, she scored at 98% fluency and 100% comprehension, in math she scored at 100%! We are pleased and excited to realize that we did what was best for Lily and hope that the foundation laid this year will serve her well into the future!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Coupon Blessing 5/29

I blogged about wanting to use coupons in a bigger/better way at our church to encourage donations. So this week, we were able to take a major step in the right directions. We did get envelopes in place at the welcome center and side entry table to collect any unwanted coupons. We did have coupons placed in both of these! I am so excited. Next, this morning Matt was able to type up a short deal that can be used at CVS this week to encourage donations. We are hoping that we are able to do this on a regular basis and that at least one other person will use it to help either save money or collect items to donate.

I have several objectives when putting this list together. 1. Out of pocket cost is less than $10. 2. The items purchased are ones that can be easily donated and needed at any time for most organizations that request donations. 3. The coupons required are easy to locate, for this reason I prefer not to use internet coupons but will stick to coupons from newspapers. Along the same lines, I am going to try to keep the coupons needed from the same month so that they will be easy to locate for most people. 4. I want to keep the list down to one store a week unless something is free at both locations and mets all the above criteria.

Matt is help out with this by working on the wording to ensure it is easy to understand and follow and with typing and sorting. He was also the one to come up with the name "Coupon Blessings"

So now here is the list for this week. I will add a suggestion here that were not on the list printed for church. If you break these down into 2 simple transactions then you reduce your out of pocket cost to $5 instead of $8 and you still have 2 ECB for next week. I am also planning to roll these weekly if possible.

CVS Pharmacy

Free Candy
Purchase 2 Mars candy singles.
Total is $1. plus tax
Earn 1 ECB

Cheap (but Good) Shampoo/ Conditioner
Purchase 2 Pantene 12.6 oz bottles for $3.48 each.
Use $3 off 2 coupon from the Proctor and Gamble insert of May 1st
Use 1 ECB from previous transaction
Total is around $3
Earn 2 ECB to use next week or on another item in the store you need.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

All My Children UPDATE

Amanda- With some (okay lots) of encouragement from us has decided to take the summer off from college. She passed her CNA test in April and is currently working as a home care provider and is suppose to start as needed at a Nursing Home 3rd shift next week. This should give her a chance to save up some money to make college much easier in the Fall. She is also continuing with her fire fighting classes. I am very proud of her for making it up in the mornings and to work on time on a regular basis.

Haley- Haley is finishing up her Sophmore year at high school. She currently is on the A-B honor roll with 2 Honors classes (chemistry and Civics). She decided that she wants to be in color guard next year so is working on that over the summer as well. Haley will spend the majority of her summer as a Junior Volunteer at the Hospital. She was one of 30 people chosen out of the 95 that applied. Way to go Haley.

Lily- Has officially completed home school for the year. She is currently reading simple books, working both addition and subtraction problems, telling time to the 15 minute and knows alot about money. We will continue to work on a more informal basis over the summer. On Monday, she will be tested to determine if she will enter school in First Grade or Kindergarten in the fall. Lily has also started cheering on a competition squad. She is a flyer. Lily enjoys stretch and is doing an awesome cartwheel and working on a back walk over!

Kendall- Kendall is growing by leaps and bounds. She is beginning to recognize colors, loves to sing and dance. She is wearing big girl panties all the time except nap and night. We are still having one or two accidents a week. I am so proud of the way she has learned to express what she wants and will pick things even if everyone else wants something different.

Zach- Is walking, beginning to put two word sentences together and is one of the most strong willed children in this house! He is a climber and a screamer. We are sure he is gaining weight and will no longer be going to Brenner's for weight check every 3 months. We are not certain about his allergies but are justing being careful at this point and will see in the future what is best for him.

Friday, May 27, 2011

$5 CVS Trip

I have to admit up front this is my 4th trip to CVS this week, and I will attempt to make another tommorow (Saturday) unless I get to busy. CVS has been running some really good sales this week, Diet Coke 12 pks are buy 3 get 1 free or 4 for $10. In addition Revlon nail polish is on sale for $4.99 with $4 ECB and a limit of 6. The red box is also printing out the same coupons all week of FREE Green Bag tag and $1 off 2 Crystal light.

I started with 4 ECB from a previous nail polish and 0.99ECB from previous purchase of gum.

My first transaction was for 1 pk of Dentyne gum, 1 bottle of Nail polish, 3 individual packs of Crystal Light. I used the red box coupons for Crystal Light along with a B2G1 free, $2 off color cosmetic revlon coupon. Total out of pocket 0.23 (tax) and earned 4 ECB from Polish and 0.99 from gum.

Second Transaction was 4 12pks of Diet Coke and 3 individual packs of Crystal Light. I used another Crystal Light (1.00off) along with a B2G1 free, 4 ECB from previous transaction and both $0.99 ECB from gum purchases. Total out of pocket $4.74 and I earned another ECB for using my Green Bag tag 4 times.

Total spent $4.97, saved $27.11 for a total of 85% or in reality I spent 0.10 a can on 4 packs of soda and the rest was free!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Disney Pictures

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- Group Disney Pic

These are all taken by photographers at Disney- we purchased the photo pass CD which was awesome!

Extreme Couponing

The new catch word seems to be "extreme". Everything is extreme these days from sales to prices to couponing. As I am trying to get my head around an idea this title/show keeps popping up.

First to be honest, I do watch the show and enjoy it most nights even to the point where I DVR it so I can skip the commerical or fall asleep. But while watching, I look at their shopping trips as not their "usual" trip but it fact their most successful trip every! If you listen most of the couponers on the show will say at least once "this is my biggest/best trip". In reality they spent months trying to put this trip together and on most occasions as I am learn get extra help from the stores or the producers. Now that I have established my thoughts on the show, how does it relate to me? or this idea I am talking about?
Second question/step- Yes, I have been called an extreme couponer. Yes, I plan specific trip to a store with a list in place and plan to purchase what is on sale. And YES, I have a stockpile. I started seriously couponing about a year ago as a way to save money so I could stay at home longer. Now, I am playing a game and couponing is my hobby. In the process, I have learned alot and we are actually enjoying a higher standard of living becuase of couponing.

Third- I want to share this idea with others and also use it to bring glory and honor to God's kingdom. So how can this work? I have blogged in the past about the deals I have gotten. I plan to continue to do this but I want to move it up to the next level. Over the past several weeks, I have been able to make several donation of soap,deodrant and toothpaste to different ministries at our church. With each donation, it seems that we still want to do more. Matt and I have been talking about how we can use couponing to make a difference. Now this is in hopes of getting the ball rolling!

The Goal: To accumulate a stockpile of items to be given away at our new church building to anyone who will take them.

I am hoping that I will be able to start collecting unused coupons from people in the church, develop list of free or items that can be purchased for less than $10, share this information with anyone and everyone I can get involved. I have already talked with a couple of people at church and we have made an announcement about bring in the unwanted coupons. I also have gotten at least 2 other people who are willing to go shopping. So the ball is rolling. Now comes my part, I am planning to develop a list on a monthly basis of things to donation that can be purchased at Walmart for $10 or less. Next on a weekly basis I am going to develop list that can be used locally to pick up free items to stockpile for this drive.

With all this being said, I guess it is official I am an extreme couponer and proud of it!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Disney Tidbits

I finally have time to write some more about our trip to Disney! I *think* I have Matt convinced to make the trip again in 2 years :) I personally think I want to go around Thanksgiving to that I can enjoy all the Christmas decorations. But time will tell.

Sunday after unloading all the crap from the van and running out to Publix while the little ones took a short but needed nap, we head to Disney for the first time. It was nice because everyone knew where we were going but still really didn't have a clue. Sunday we arrived around 4pm and stayed till around 10:30. This was the day that Zach and myself got to ride the most. Basically everything in Fanstyland we rode with a kid on a lap. My favorite was Peter Pan but Zach really liked "It's a small world." We ended up eating at a Pizza place, not good not bad just kind ok." The plan was to stay for the parade and it was pretty cool. We ended up getting back to the house around 11.

Monday or melt-down day as I am going to refer to it as was the most whiney and stressful of the whole trip. The reasons for this were pretty simple, we stuffed too much into one day and after the late night prior it was awful. I am glad we did it all because of the birthday we celebrated but in the future my lesson is learned. No early morning after late nights. So we arrived back on property at 8am. Kendall, Lily and Haley all had appointments at the Bippity, Boppity Boutique. We do have some great pictures from this and they all enjoyed themselves. Kendall had the most fun because her fairy godmother read her several stories. Honestly, I don't know if we will do this again, I will not schedule it without the girls asking specifically to do it. After finishing with the Boutique the girls meet the real Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. Lily really really really likes Rapunzel from Tangled and this was the last day of a special meet and greet where the kids got to dance with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider and color and have some really neat interaction. It was also very very long of a wait, 2 hours to be exact. Zach and I waited in line while everyone else went to Tommorowland. They rode the tea cups and enjoyed a show where Kendall got to be on TV with the Monster from Monsters Inc. The only problem was that because they did not realize it would take so long in the show they were within minutes of missing Rapunzel. Lily still says this is her favorite part of the trip so I don't regret waiting at all!
After finishing with Rapunzel it was off to Royal Table for lunch. This is definitely a thing to skip. The food was good but the interaction with the princess was really brief. So no matter what we wont be doing this again. Although I would not do it again it does have some of the sweetest memories. Zach was sooo tired by this point and off schedule that he had a all out melt down. I finally got him calmed down and started eating only to have Kendall climb up on my lap and cry. Both the kids were exhausted, but as Kendall was crying on my lap Snow White walked up behind me and she looks up smiles and says "Hi Snow White" Seriously like she talked to her on a regular basis. Kendall then got her picture made with all the princess and got in a much better mood. After lunch we watched a show outside. Lily keeps telling us it was the Blue show and then headed back to the house for a quiet evening. Unfortunately, we have no pictures from the Royal Table because Amanda accidental deleted all of hers and my camera didn't get used because of the melt downs.

Tuesday morning we slept in and headed to Disney about 9 am. On the way Kendall looks out the window and says "LOOK LOOK water is coming up." The neighborhood sprinklers were on. We take the kid to Disney World and she is more excited about the sprinklers than Snow White. Can anyone top that?

Tuesday was the day we spent at Epcot. The annual flower show was in full swing and we got to see some really pretty flowers. They had alot of the characters and all the princess in some of the shrubs. We met Tinker Bell this day as well. We decided to tour the countries for dinner and ending up eating ok Chinese. Our friends ate in Mexico and said it was horrible. Matt ended up eating in Germany and ranks that as one of his best meals. We only enjoyed about half the countries and walked quickly around the remaining ones just to get back to the van. I really enjoyed this day. So my plan is to post pictures from it on Wordless Wednesday. More stories to come as I have time to post!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wordless Wednesday-Garden

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Time Doesn't Stop

I have been really torn today, I knew I would have time to write a post tonight and realized that trying to get two written would probably be near impossible. So I needed to decide rather to talk about the past week and keep a record of what is going on or work on the post I want to make of alot of the stuff I want to remember from Disney. Then came the light bulb moment. My plan is to put together a Disney scrapbook, so I can make sure everything goes in there. So now I can just focus on keeping up to date here and if I get the chance then do a Disney post.

I have been working quite a bit this week, 32 hours to be exact. The only time I had off was Thursday afternoon but it was nice to be home to pick up Haley and get the kids up from nap. I did have to work really late of Friday. Next week should be easier with two half day planned off at the moment. I also have been slowly adding to our stockpile. I made a third trip to Harris Teeter on Sunday as well as a trip to CVS. Food Lion was a stop on Monday as well as Lowes. I also made a late night trip to use coupons on Friday night to Walmart. My sights are now set on a trip to Food Lion tonight for another great deal. We did not order Angel Food in April due to our vacation and I realized tonight that we are going to be running close on meat over the next two weeks but we are hopefully that we can at least make it 7 days til we can go to Costco.

After much talk and debate, we made the decision on Monday to attempt square foot gardening again the same size as last year. In addition we have joined a food co-op that will be providing a box of veggies starting the end of May til September. I hope to be able to use all these veggies in some form and start to freeze some. The other change we made this year was to purchase our plants instead of growing from seeds. I had attempted to start some seeds but only 2 lived through vacation. We made a quick trip to Lowes, Monday night and purchased cucumbers, watermelon, squash, snap peas, green peppers, banana peppers, pineapple sage, basil, cilantro as well as a couple of other herbs. The $72 cost for these will be a part of the grocery budget this month as well as the $200 for the food co-op. This is a major investment of approximately half of our grocery budget for the month but in the long run we hope it lowers our cost over the year. It is amazing at how well the plants are growing. I need to get a picture just to show how cool it looks already.
Tuesday was church, Wednesday cheerleading, Thursday night tutoring. We decided to spend most of the day Saturday outside. The weather was awesome 70 and sunny. We got the yard mowed and in presentable fashion. Added mulch to the playground and one of our flower beds, trimmed the bushes in the others and weeded. I am very pleased with the results. Hopefully in the next several weeks we get the rest of our back yard taken care of.
Today (Sunday) is Mother's Day. EVERYONE attended church today and then we all went to my brother's for lunch it was nice. I am so happy to be a mother and have decided that God's plan for my life is awesome!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

April In Review

April where did it go? DISNEY WORLD!
Hopefully more pictures and blog about that soon!

: 6 is the official number. Honestly, I had anticipated that I would be able to post at least a couple of blogs from vacation but instead we stay out and enjoyed the parks. I am hoping to hit my goal of 15 this month much of which will be pictures from Disney!
Devotions: I am trying but I still have not met consistently 3x a week with a higher goal of 5 times a week. This was better than blogging but I still have not found the established time to do this
Couponing/Grocery Budgeting: My grocery budget actually came in at $500 for the month but that did not include Disney food. I have been able to stock up with some items this past week with 3 trips to Harris Teeter for "Super Doubles" and a trip to Food Lion for stocking.
Financially: Disney enough said!
Weight- Haven't checked because of vacation,back to the real world in May!