1.28.2009

I Love Snow Days!

Remember that feeling from when you were a kid...when there were inches of snow on the ground, and you were just praying for that school was closed? Yeah, I still get that feeling! It's a HUGE perk when working as an educator. :) Anyway, my phone rang at 5:15 a.m. to say that school was closed today. I fell back to sleep as fast as I could because I don't care how old I get...I still love to sleep in whenever I can! Noah woke me up at 8 o' clock, and we started our day.
It seemed like the perfect opportunity to make him some more baby food since I bought all that delicious produce last night. I'll wait a bit before using the organic bananas so they have a chance to ripen a bit more. I made the pears first because they are so easy and quick. Five pears made two full trays of baby food. Then, I worked on the peaches. I checked http://wholesomebabyfood.com/ for an idea about how to make them.
First it said to take the peaches and cut an "X" into the skin. Then, I boiled them (X side down) in a large pan filled with one inch of water until they seemed soft.
I then put them in the sink in order to run cold water over them while I pulled the peels off. This was supposed to be easier than it was...the "X" was supposed to help. However, I found it really difficult and ended up using a peeler in the end.
I cut the fruit off the pit and threw the good stuff in the blender. I didn't even have to add any water because they had plenty of their own juices to help puree everything.
My final product: two trays of peaches for Noah! They will be yummy alone but also great for mixing with other fruit. For example, I can just take a frozen cube of pears and one of peaches, microwave them together, and mix. PERFECT!
While I was making the baby food, Ryan was busy for 1 1/2 hours shoveling our driveway! When he was done, he took Noah outside to play in the snow for the first time. It was so cute!! Of course, we were only out there for maybe 3 minutes, but we got some cute pictures to remember the event. Enjoy!


Getting on his snow suit (Thanks Aunt Kelli!)

Quick picture with Daddy and the snowy neighborhood

Noah sitting in the snow

Super Savings Tuesday!

I know we just had the most snow since 1999, but even a little snow wasn't going to stop me from doing my grocery shopping last night. Stores on the list: Marsh, Walgreens, CVS, Meijer, and Kroger. I made it to all but the last one! Fortunately, I was able to just carry out the bags of products I bought most of the time because the snow was getting deep. However, since I bought sode a lots of other things at Marsh, I had to push a cart through the snow...hilarious!! I honestly had to run in order to make my cart move.

Now I know what some of you might be thinking...are you really saving money when you are driving to 4 different stores. Fortunately for us, those stores are all within a one mile radius of our house. I made the trip in a total of two hours, and that was really due to driving b/c I was super fast in the stores...or at least I felt like I was. :)

So, here are some pictures of all of the items I bought:

All of the refridgerator and freezer items



All of the panty items plus soda

The list of items I bought includes: 2 twelve packs of Faygo Cream Soda, 4 boxes of assorted pasta, 4 boxes of pudding, 2 Dove deoderants, 2 bottles of Listerine, Reynolds Wrap foil, 2 cans of chicken noodle soup, Windex wipes (have a rebate to make these free), 2 containers of Lysol wipes, Colgate toothpaste, 2 bottles of Soft Scrub, 2 boxes of Corn Pops, Intuition Razor, Head and Shoulders Shampoo (to see if it will help get rid of Noah's cradle cap), Gillette Shampoo, Skintimate shaving gel, 3 jars of Beech Nut baby food, 2 boxes of Ritz Crackers, 2 packages of paper plates, Puffs tissues, Carefree pantiliners, 2 boxes of Beech Nut baby cereal (Rice and Oatmeal), CVS hand lotion, 2 HIP eye shadows, 2 packages of Ball Park hot dogs, eggs, Nestle break-n-bake cookies, Texas Toast, 2 packages of premium dog treats, organic bananas, 3 lbs of pears, and 2 lbs of peaches (all fruit is for Noah's baby food).

Are you ready for the grand totals?? Note that I did two separate purchases at both CVS and Walgreens to get the most out of my savings.

Stores /Money Spent/ Money Saved
Meijer /$11.29/ $10.37
Marsh /$24.68/ $28.79
CVS #1 /$15.30/ $8.30
CVS#2 /$3.30/ $15.46
Walgreens #1 /$18.25/ $11.68
Walgreens #2 /$0.93/ $16.63

Total Products Value: $164.78

Total Spent: $73.75 - I only paid 45% of the products' value

Total Saved: $91.23 (YIPPEEEE!!!) That is a 55% savings!!!

Plus, I have a raincheck for more Beech Nut baby food at Marsh because they were all sold out but the deal was 4/$1. I was told to always ask for rainchecks, and I'm glad I did! I also have a $4 in Extra Care Bucks from CVS to put toward my next purchase. Again, the idea is to buy things on sale and add coupons on top of those sales. My stockpile has begun, and it's looking really good!! I felt so good coming home last night and showing off all my deals to Ryan. I also learned a couple things. First, just because a store (at least the ones I went to) say 2/$5, that doesn't mean you can't just buy one item for $2.50. So, if I have a coupon for $1.50 off one item, and it is on sale 2/$5, I will just buy the one item, making it cost just $1. However, if my coupon is $2 off 2 items, I will go ahead and get both products. Also, when shopping at Walgreens and CVS, you can use multiple Register Rewards or Extra Care Bucks on your purchases. For example, I had a $4.50 RR and $2.00 RR and was able to use both at one time on my purchases. I still need to get out to Kroger today because they are having some great deals and today is the last day before their sales change. Wish me luck in our 10 inches of snow as I head out to Kroger later tonight!!!

1.26.2009

He's on the Move!

It's official! Noah crawled for the first time yesterday! He has been rocking on his knees for so long...probably since Christmas. He finally figured out how to move forward. Guess we just needed to find the right motivator...Kya's basket of dog bones! Enjoy the video of his second attempt at crawling! Don't you just love his bounce-n-slide way of crawling?? :)

video

Noah's First Birthday Party

What's a birthday party without Mickey Mouse balloons??

Noah meeting Baby Kayla for the first time

On Saturday night, Ryan, Noah, and I headed out the door for Noah's first birthday party for his little buddy, Jackson. Jackson's mom, Candace, watches Noah on Thursdays while I'm at work. With Noah's birthday less than 4 months away, I've definitely been thinking about how we're going to celebrate. I go back and forth between thinking "It's his first birthday...let's have a big party!" and "He's only 1 year old...we'll just have a party with family and maybe some close friends." So, when we pulled up to Candace's house and saw about 10-15 cars parked along the road, it definitely hit me that this was a BIG party! I am not even sure how many people were there, but I'm going to guess 30-40 including children. Of course, it wouldn't be a birthday party if Noah didn't end up covered in Pepsi! :) Yes, he grabbed Ryan's drink and spilled it all over the two of them. It was hilarious! We stuffed ourselves with hot dogs, cupcakes, chips, soda, and Baja burgers. Noah got Jackson a Dr. Seuss book and a stuffed animal...both from Kohls. I really like the idea of getting kids books and a small toy, and proceeds from the books and stuffed animals at Kohls supports health and educational opportunities for kids. For more information, look here. We had to leave the party at about 7:30 p.m. because Noah was getting sleepy. We loaded him up in his new big boy car seat...it's HUGE...and went home. Here are some pictures from the night...enjoy!
Noah and Mommy!

Candace and Jackson (with his faux hawk) surrounded by kids while opening presents

1.24.2009

I Love Saving Money!

Ever since before Noah was born, Ryan and I have been trying to get debt free minus our mortgage. Not only do we want to be debt free, but we are also trying to make sure that we are being good stewards of our money. Since God is the One who has blessed us with our jobs and income, we think it's important to make good choices with our money. So, we have just a little bit more to go to pay off the last of our debt, and we've been doing the envelope system for about 4 months now. The envelope system is when you decide how much money you are going to spend on groceries, entertainment, etc. each month and withdraw that amount of money in cash once per month. It has really helped us make better choices with our money...and not have any slow leaks (like spending lots of money to go out to eat all of the time). We've already been saving so much money by not buying formula and making all of Noah's baby food. I would guess that 95% of his clothes are gifts or hand-me-downs, so that is saving us a ton of money. I still buy Pampers because I think they are the best diapers in the world, though I am always on the look out for the best deal on them. I have lots of blogs that are helpful in my money-saving efforts:

http://babycheapskate.com
http://moneysavingmom.blogspot.com
http://moneysavingmethods.blogspot.com
http://momadvice.com/blog/labels/Freebies.htm
http://http://www.heyitsfree.net/
http://bargainshopperlady.com/

My friend Beckie is the goddess of spending wisely. She came over a couple weeks ago to give me her tutorial about how to save as much money grocery shopping. I really thought I had the hang of things...making a menu each week and only buying things that we needed for those meals. While I know I was saving money, I'm going to try Beckie's method for shopping. Rather than buy what you need at that very moment, Beckie's method is to buy things only when they are on sale...and when you can add coupons to the sales in order to get the best prices. Of course you can't always do that...for example with milk...but for most things it does work great. In one shopping trip to Walgreens, CVS (these have some of the very best deals I've noticed!), and Meijer, I spent $83 (I only had $90 left in my budget) and saved $55 with coupons and sale prices. Can you believe that??? I wish I had taken a picture of everything I bought. My favorite deal was getting five 12 packs of Pepsi products and 2 bags of Frito Lay products, which totalled $20 and getting $10 in register rewards at Walgreens. I turned around and bought paper towels and toilet paper and almost got them for free. I was so excited, I laid everything out on the counter and took Ryan on a tour of all our great deals. :) I should also mention that I did my shopping from 9-10:30 p.m. after Noah was in bed so I didn't have to worry about rushing back to feed him. The stores were empty (of course), so it was just me, my coupons, my calculator, and isles of products. :) Here are some really great websites to use:

http://www.thegrocerygame.com/ (I am going to sign up for this program this week - and if you decide to do it someday, say that I referred you!)
http://mommysnacks.blogspot.com/
http://www.couponmom.com/login.php

The Grocery Game basically does all of the work for you. You have to pay a small fee monthly (like $4 at most I think), and you can find out where to get the best deals on items. It’s a weekly list of the lowest-priced products at your supermarket matched with manufacturers’ coupons and specials -- advertised and unadvertised. They do all the hard work and research, and present it to you in a straightforward format. My friend Beckie showed me her list, and you wouldn't believe all of the free items you can get by using manufacturer coupons and store coupons/sales. It's pretty wild! You can even make money on many occasions. I'll let you know how it goes when I start. For now, I've just been looking at the weekly grocery ads and writing down everything I want to buy, trying to find coupons to match, etc. Needless to say, it's been a lot of work. I'm really looking forward to trying something more efficient!!

My favorite deal of the day is my new Kitchenaid Mixer! I finally bought one today after eyeing them for the past 2-3 years. The one that was perfect for me is originally $240. Kohls had a deal where I could buy the mixer for $199.99. If I went in today before 1 p.m., I could get an extra 15% off ($30). This brought the price to $169.99. I had a $15 dollar off coupon in my Zoobook. Plus, I signed up for Kohls emails and got to print a $5 off coupon. This brought the price to $149.99. PLUS...my mom got me a $50 gift card to Kohls for my birthday, bringing the grand total to $100!!! Not only that, but Kohls was also offering a $20 Kohls gift card by mail through one of their rebate programs. So, I technically spent $80 out of my pocket since I'm going to get a $20 gift card soon. I'm so excited because I love this mixer AND I got a great deal. These people behind me were watching the lady scanning all my coupons and gift cards, and they were like, "How much did you end up paying?" "That's incredible!" "You must be a super shopper!" It was funny...and it felt really good. :)

So what does this have to do with Noah, probably not a whole lot at the moment. I am hoping, though, that as he gets older, he makes responsible choices with his money, too. I hope that we are good role models for him in this way. I look forward to giving him an allowance each month for doing work around the house. I like the idea of it being monthly rather than weekly. :) Plus, I am excited to help him understand the importance of giving some of your money away. I think it will be neat to see him decide how to tithe his money...whether it's to purchase food for our church's food bank, buy gifts for children at Christmas, cancer research, homeless people, animal shelters, etc....it will be Noah giving some of what he has earned to other people or organizations that really need the money to get their needs met. I'm watching him now, bouncing in his Baby Einstein bouncer, and just thinking how beautiful he is and how much I love him. I really don't think life gets better than this.

1.13.2009

Noah's Playroom


After we took down the Christmas tree, we decided to make our front room into Noah's playroom. At first I thought I'd be sad for it to become a playroom. It's the first thing you see when you walk in our front door, and I really loved the way the room looked when we first decorated it. However, I really, really like the way it turned out! It's a safe place for Noah to play, and we have enough storage right now that toys aren't everywhere! I think it turned out really cute!

The toy to the left is the one that Dan and Kristen got him for Christmas

One of My Favorite Things

Before Noah was born, Ryan and I were having a conversation about what it would be like when Noah was in his crib and we were downstairs watching TV. How would we know he was ok if we couldn't see him? Sure, we would be able to hear him through the monitor, and yes, they do make monitors now with little TV sets where you can see the baby, too. However, I read some reviews on those, and they weren't that great. I am a pretty paranoid person, clinically even according to a personality assessment called the MMPI-2 that I took in grad school. :) Anyway, so I told Ryan that I would probably have to go up and down the stairs every 10 minutes just to know Noah was ok while he was in his crib. So, Ryan came up with a solution. He found a wireless video camera to install above Noah's crib so that we could see Noah on our 52" flat screen TV. GENIOUS! We have used the camera every single day since Noah was 2 weeks old, which is when he started sleeping in his crib. Here is a picture to show you why I love it so much. When Noah starts crying, we know why he is crying. Maybe he is just trying to fall asleep, or maybe his arm or leg is stuck outside of the crib. It has night vision and is truly the best thing ever!

Noah's First Christmas

Christmas this year was especially memorable now that Noah is here. I remember feeling Noah move inside me last Christmas, and it's wild to think that he is now so close to crawling. Time has just gone by so fast, and it's hard to believe that Noah will be 8 months old in a couple days. I know I tend to go on and on in my blogs, but that is mostly because I am turning this blog into a book for Noah to have when he gets older. It will have all of the pictures and stories from when I was pregnant and throughout his first year of life. I'm not sure I will keep writing after that point b/c it's just not something I make a lot of time for these days. As you can tell, I haven't written in almost a month. I got behind because there are so many different things I need to write about, so here we go!
Christmas for us began on Sunday, December 21st with my mom, Kent, my uncle Tom, and my grandparents. After an awesome church service on God's grace, Ryan, Noah, and I drove down to Martinsville where my mom and Kent live. We had lots of delicious appetizers and had a dirty Santa exchange. Noah got a Leap Frog Activity Table and a cute little outfit from his Nana and Grandpa Bauer. His great grandparents picked out a big stuffed dog for him (you'll see it in a picture later). I thought this gift was especially neat because they gave me a HUGE Nipper Dog (the RCA dog) when I was little. It's fun to think that even after they are in Heaven, Noah will have that big dog to remember them. By the way, Noah had so much fun opening his gifts! He would wave his arms and jump up and down while opening his gifts. It was really cute and unexpected for him to be so involved with opening them at his age! Ryan got a new saw and now won't have to borrow the neighbor's every times he needs one, and I got another Stephanie Meyer book (which I finished two days ago), some fun stuff to do my nails, and a Willow Tree figurine. It was a great day with our family!On Christmas Eve Eve, we were having some pretty terrible weather around Indy. We drove through the city, which was a good thing since 465 got shut down that evening, in order to get to Ryan's parents' house. Noah woke up with about 20 minutes to go in the car and began SCREAMING! I'm telling you, there is nothing so overwhelming as a screaming baby (not fussing - bloody murder screaming) while driving in bad weather. By the time we reached Ryan's parents' house, I just handed Noah over to his Mama and took a little break to unload the car and gather myself. :) We have a tradition that every Christmas Eve Eve, our family and Ryan's sister's family both stay with Ryan's parents (Noah's Mama and Papa). We had a delicious Christmas dinner and just hung out with each other. Noah put up a HUGE fight that night trying to go to bed. Typically, I rock him for a couple minutes and put him in his crib awake. I didn't want him to ever rely on me rocking him in order to get him to fall asleep. We wanted Noah to be able to soothe himself to sleep. Well, this particular night, he just SCREAMED and SCREAMED and SCREAMED! After about an hour of fighting us, he finally went to sleep. I was so exhausted! We woke up the next morning and opened gifts. It was really fun because Ryan and I picked out great gifts for Mady, Mikayla, and Micah, and we loved watching their faces as they opened their gifts. Mady got the Gourmet Cupcake Maker, Mikayla got an Easy Bake Oven, and Micah got this huge race car track set. They were so excited! Noah got a Baby Einstein book, a Polar Bear toy (shown in a picture below), and some money for his savings account. I feel like I'm forgetting something...but I hope not! Kelli's family picked out a little bongo drum toy for Noah, and Kelli also got Noah a Calvin and Hobbs book that has an entire collection of comics. She wrote Noah the sweetest letter inside the book about how Ryan used to love to read Calvin and Hobbs and would just laugh and laugh. It was a really thoughtful gift! Noah got tired about halfway through opening gifts and needed to take his morning nap. So after putting him down, we finished opening gifts and had breakfast. Awhile after that, Kelli's family had to go home to get ready for church, as their church has Christmas Eve services, and Joel works at the church. Ryan, Noah, Kya, and I headed home and just relaxed. I made some Christmas cookies with my awesome cookie press (thanks Kel!), and Noah and Ryan set out a few cookies and some milk for Santa. Then we put the little man to bed. We watched It's a Wonderful Life, a tradition that we started a few years ago, and then headed to bed ourselves.

On Christmas morning, we came downstairs, and Kya got to enjoy her presents first. Then, Noah opened his gifts! Santa brought him a nice toybox...that Santa sure knows what he's doing! He knew we needed somewhere to put all of those toys. :) Ryan and I also bought him a little Sit-to-Stand toy and a car wash toy that he'll someday get to play with in the bath tub. For now, he likes to play with it in his new play room.

Ryan and I also exchanged gifts. We really tried to be reasonable this year, as you could probably tell with Noah's gifts. One, we don't want Noah to ever lose sight of the importance of relationships over material things...as well as the true meaning of Christmas. Two, with my working part time this year, we wanted to make good choices with our money. So, anyway, Ryan and I exchanged gifts. I bought him a bunch of guitar stuff (a pedal, cleaner, strings, etc.), some DVDs, and a book about guitar pedals. He got me a new necklace with a cross pendant (something I've wanted for a long time but wouldn't buy myself), a recipe box and cards, and some freshwater pearl earrings. We had bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits for breakfast and just relaxed and spent the day at home. Ryan's parents came over later that evening to see what Noah got for Christmas and to spend the night. We stayed up really late just talking and laughing with a nice warm fire. It was a great way to end Christmas Day!

The next morning (Friday), we drove up to my Dad and Danette's (Noah's Grandpa and Grandma Till) house in South Whitley. After getting the Jeep unpacked, we hung out for awhile before making some oreo ball cupcakes for the weekend. They are a delicious little treat, and I really regret not taking any pictures for this blog. I was pretty proud of myself! :) That night, we met my cousins and their families at The Brownstone, a really cute Zionsville-like restaurant in my hometown. Noah fell asleep in the car on the way there and stayed asleep for about 30 minutes. It must have been just enough to keep him in a good mood because despite being out past his bedtime and being passed around from one relative to another, he never fussed, cried, or even frowned. He would just really study the person's face of whomever was holding him at the time. It was really cute! My cousin Maria picked out a cute book with Nursery Rhymes in it for Noah. He will really enjoy that as he gets older!

The next morning my brother and his wife Kristen came down to Dad and Danette's. We opened gifts and once again were completely spoiled. Ryan has been saving up for this thing called a Pod X3 Live for his guitar for months. He even went as far as selling some old stuff on Craigslist in order to have enough money to buy it. Well, little did he know that my dad bought it for him on Black Friday in order to get it for 15% off. Then, I was giving my dad some of the money Ryan had saved up in order to help purchase it. Anyway, he was SO excited to open that gift and had no idea! I love surprises!

They got me a beautiful coat from Victoria's Secret and a gift card to Von Maur. I really could use some new clothes!! :) My dad has been saying for years that all he wants for Christmas is World Peace. Well, Noah wasn't sure what to get his grandpa, so we told him that Grandpa just wants World Peace. Well, he must have misheard us because he ended up making my dad some "Whirled Peas" instead. As you can imagine, Noah has LOTS of peas these days!

Noah got a bunch of cute things like books, some onesies (Beatles and John Deere), some John Deere dishes, etc. and a savings bond from his Grandpa and Grandma. When we were opening gifts, Noah kept hitting this big gift next to him like he knew it was his. When we put it down in front of him to open, he just started moving his whole body, waving his arms around, and was looking directly from Dan and Kristen to his gift and back to them again. It was SO cute! They got him this big Fisher Price Cruise-and-Go toy (see picture below) that has all sorts of activities with which to play. He was so excited, we just laid him down on top of the box! After opening gifts, we had a wonderful lunch with everyone's favorites. We watched Elf because my Dad and Danette had never seen it before and then played with their Wii Fit the next day. We had such a great visit, and if my memory wasn't so bad, I would be able to remember more details about all the little things we did. :)

Well, that was Christmas this year. Again, most of these details are mostly for Noah as he gets older. We know he won't remember his first Christmas, but at least he'll be able to read about it. We hope you had a very Merry Christmas, too!!
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