3.28.2009

Noah The Boy

I love being a school psychologist! While it was really tough going back to work, being away from Noah, and dealing with all of the changes in special education law, I really am so fortunate to be in this job. One of my very favorite things about it is the fact that I still get to enjoy lots of breaks...the most recent one being Spring Break!!! Yesterday was my last day of work for an entire week. I'm really looking forward to time at home with Noah this week. Have I mentioned that my part time status was reapproved for next year? HOORAY! I am so lucky that they allow me to work 2 1/2 days per week. I can't imagine going back full time yet. I just feel so productive at both home and work. I know I would've have that great balance between the two like I do now if I had to work full time. I give HUGE props to all mothers who work full time!

Noah is having a pretty fussy day, which really never happens. He typically only cries when he is starting to get tired. We think it's because he is cutting 3 teeth right now. Two of his bottom teeth and his top left front tooth are in right now. He's cutting the other top front tooth, the tooth next to that one, and another tooth next to his bottom right one. Was that clear as mud? :) Anyway, I feel bad for my mom and her husband because they are watching him tonight so that we can go on a date. Hooray for us (but possibly rough for them)! Hopefully after getting a big nap this afternoon, Noah will wake up feeling happy again. Speaking of naps, he is finally taking just two naps on most occasions and is eating every 4 hours rather than every 3. It is nice!!! Our typical day looks like this:

8:00 a.m. Wake up and eat (Milk, oatmeal cereal, and fruit)
Play for 2 hours
10:00 a.m. Take first nap
Sleep for 2 hours
12:00 p.m. Wake up and eat (Milk, Vegetable, and Fruit)
Play for 2 hours
2:00 p.m. Take second nap
Sleep for 2 hours
4:00 p.m. Wake up and eat (Milk, Vegetable, Rice Cereal, and Fruit)
Play until bedtime between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m.
Sleep for 12 hours

THANK YOU BABYWISE!!!

Noah's vaccination schedule is a little different than the recommended schedule. I wrote about his shots from 2-7 months in a previous blog. Here is the schedule for his upcoming shots:

12 months: Prevnar (pneumococcal)
15 months: Varicella (Chicken Pox) & HiB
18 months: DTaP
24 months: Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)

I am so fortunate to work with such a great pediatrician! Dr. Gloyeske works at Southside Pediatrics in Indianapolis. I highly recommend him to anyone who needs a pediatrician in this area. Well, have a great weekend! I am so excited for a night on the town with my husband!




3.23.2009

We're Debt Free!!!

After 20 months of following Dave Ramsey's program and being committed to his "debt snowball" idea, Ryan and I are officially DEBT FREE!!! AHHH!!! Generally, people call into his radio program to scream "We're debt free!!" but I'm just going to use our blog to celebrate. It is a very exciting day in the Abell household. Within the past twenty months, we paid off our flat screen TV, Ryan's 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ryan's student loan from Hanover, my 2007 Honda CR-V, and my student loan from Indiana University (made the final payment this afternoon). The grand total was a little over $75,000!!! Now all we have left is our mortgage, and Ryan is going to talk to someone very soon about refinancing so that we can get a lower interest rate and put even more money toward our next steps.

You're probably wondering what those next steps are for us. Well, here are the Seven Baby Steps to Dave Ramsey's program:

1. $1,000 emergency fund
2. Pay off all debt with the debt snowball
3. 3 to 6 month emergency fund
4. Invest 15% of income in Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement plans
5. College funding (for Noah)
6. Pay off your home early
7. Build wealth and give

We have about 4 1/2 months worth of an emergency fund saved up as of now. This would allow us to keep our current lifestyle of satellite TV, cell phones, internet, entertainment money, personal money...basically, all the extras. We need about 1 1/2 more months worth to put into savings, and we'll be ready for Step 4.

This program has really changed our way of life. It has given us good directions and guidelines for our spending. God has blessed us in so many ways, and we are so grateful.

3.17.2009

Where to Put All of These Goodies

After reading that last blog, you are probably wondering where I am storing all of these goodies! Well, we were fortunate to buy a house that has LOTS of storage space in closets. Here is a picture of my pantry as of yesterday:

What you can't see is that I have two rows of cereal. I seriously think I have like 15 boxes of cereal, though I really never buy it unless I can pay under $1.50 per box...even then I tend to wait to buy it between 80 cents and $1.25. :) Below is my hallway closet with all of our bathroom goodies. Kotex tampons are expensive, so I did a huge stock up once when Meijer was having a deal. Who knows when I'll even use them because with breastfeeding Noah, I still haven't had a period since before I was pregnant. It has been glorious!!! Kleenex and Puffs tissue is always super cheap at CVS and Walgreens. The two purple containers are filled to the brim with more products (medicine, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.). Half of the shelf below the containers is filled with products for Noah. Many were gifts from baby showers, but I have also purchased many with The Grocery Game. That stuff is pricey otherwise! The rest of the shelf is full of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, make up, razors, shaving cream, etc.


Because I make all of Noah's baby food, and I also have a shelf for my back up supply of breastmilk, stocking up on frozen goods has been tough! Plus, I am in a freezer meal group with some friends from church. We trade meals each month, and it is a huge help for cooking meals during the week! Of course, those meals take up room, too. After buying pounds and pounds of chicken and beef two months ago and having very little room for it, I talked to Ryan about buying a deep freezer for our garage. After seeing how much we were saving by stocking up, how could he refuse. :) :) :)

So, Sears was having a deal to get 20% off their Kenmore freezers recently. Because shopping online is so much easier for me right now, I did browsing on their website. Then, I also used a website that I like to find a "promotional code" in order to save even more money. Lots of stores will have these codes floating around online for people to use when purchasing items online, so always google for them or use websites such as this one, this one , or that one. Anyway, back to my story. I found a code online to save an additional $25 off a $300 or more purchase, and it worked beautifully (sometimes the codes don't always work).

We ended up purchasing the Kenmore White 13 cu foot chest freezer. It's Energy Star Qualified, which means that the freezer is energy-efficient, saving you money on your utility bill by using less energy to do the same amount of work. Plus, it's better for the environment. It holds 448 pounds of food, and had a rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 by 9 reviewers. I couldn't be happier with it!




I love the dividers in the bottom to keep everything neat and organized (you know I love organizing!). Plus, the two baskets are a bonus to reach foods we will use often. In my side by side refrigerator/freezer, it's really hard to fit frozen pizza. I won't have any trouble now! :) I am excited about the prospect of buying quarter to half of a cow and organic poultry or pork in bulk. I need to check out the prices and learn more about it first. We will see! We may have a future blog on our hands.

The Grocery Game

I have been so excited to write this blog! I know I have mentioned The Grocery Game in previous blogs, but I wanted to dedicate this blog to giving you more details about how it works.

Ryan and I put $400 per month toward groceries. We use only cash for groceries, so once it's gone...we have to make do with what we have. Prior to using The Grocery Game method, I would make a menu at the beginning of the week and only buy what we needed for that week based on our menu and any other items that we needed. I found myself barely being able to stay below $400 per month while being able to get everything we needed.

Since I started using The Grocery Game (I'm just finishing my second month), I have MORE products than I could have imagined, and I'm still only spending $400. Because I have been able to stock up on so many products...you can see pictures in a second...I am going to lower our grocery budget to $350 next month. I think that within 2 more months, I will still be able to lower it even further to $300 easily.

So, what has shopping been like for me the past month? Well, I typically go shopping on Thursday evenings after I've worked and fed Noah, and I will go to 1-3 stores, CVS, Walgreens, and Meijer. If Kroger or Marsh (the latter is not part of The Grocery Game) are having good deals, I will go there on a separate day. All of these stores are within one mile of where I live, which is really fortunate for me! So, I'm not wasting lots of gas, and my trips from store to store are very quick. This past month, I went to 12 different stores, which is about 3 per week. Because my lists are fairly short at each place, it doesn't take long. I may come out of a store with 30 items, but rather than having 30 different items, I have maybe 10 items but 3 sets of each. You are buying multiple items (e.g., 5 packages of cresent rolls) because the store is having a good sale, and you have LOTS of coupons in order to get really low prices. Here are pictures of several of my shopping trips:

This was from a trip to Marsh. We heart Faygo cream soda...no caffiene!

This was from a combined trip to CVS and Walgreens. My favorite was the Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese for 99 cents...what a steal! Many of these items were free, though, which is always fun!

Here are my goods from another CVS and Walgreens trip. These are the only stores from where to buy batteries! They often have deals for 1.99 (final price after coupon).

This was maybe my favorite trip to Meijer ever! I got 12 cans of veggies, 9 boxes of cereal, 12+ packages of Pillsbury cresent rolls, Pillbury breadsticks, and Pillsbury french bread, 4 boxes of brownies, and others. Plus, you will see some fresh produce for Noah's baby food.

This was another trip to Meijer. The pizza rolls were only like 20 cents a piece after their deals and my coupons, though my 4 boxes of Pillsbury pie crusts was my favorite deal...10 cents a piece! You heard me correctly...it was the steal of the century!

A shopping trip to Walgreens while I waited for my prescriptions to be filled. All of the Garnier products were free...seriously.

Last but not least, this is my junk food trip to Kroger yesterday. They have deals for $5 off after you buy 10 eligible items. Well, when you have coupons for the ten items, plus Kroger doubles coupons under 50 cents, plus get the $5 off, you get lots of food for very little money!

Ok, so you get the point. Keep in mind that these pictures do not have every single product that I purchased because I forgot to take pictures sometimes, but it gives you a good idea about what my shopping trips look like and many of the items I did buy last month. The previous month I bought most of my beef and chicken to stock up, which is why there aren't pictures of those deals.

Are you ready to find out how much money I spent versus how much money I saved? Drum roll please.....

Total Value of Products: $867.41
Total Money Spent: $397.06
Total Money Saved: $470.35


This doesn't include the Extra Care Bucks (CVS), Register Rewards (Walgreens), and Rebate dollars (Walgreens) that I have toward future purchases next month.

Because we have stocked up to have enough toilet paper, batteries, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup, razors, shaving cream, baby care products, canned goods, cereal, the list goes on and on, I can now lower my grocery budget and stock up on more frozen products. :)

Have I gotten your attention on how you using The Grocery Game can really help you save hundreds of dollars a month? If so, keep reading! This method of shopping isn't for everyone. If you have very little extra time to devote to getting your coupons and lists organized...and to go shopping at least once a week, then this isn't probably for you. Like my friend Beckie said, if you have more money than time, then this way of shopping won't be worth it for you. However, if you do like to get great deals, want to save your family money, and have some extra time, keep reading!

The Grocery Game can be found at this website: http://thegrocerygame.com/. Your can get a $1 trial for a month. Then it will cost anywhere from $10 every 8 weeks for one grocery list (e.g., Kroger) and $5 for each additional list. I tried to talk myself out of spending money to save money (didn't I Beckie?), but when I started seeing how easily I was saving money, I had to sign up for another month. By saving about $470 this month, I have easily paid for the $25 it cost me to get 4 lists: Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, and Meijer. There is a Walmart list, but I never shop there, so I don't pay for that one. The Grocery Game basically matches up sales for various stores with coupons that you get in your Sunday paper...so you get rock bottom prices. You can read the "rules" on the website for more information. It is well worth it!!!

If you decide to give it a shot, I would really appreciate you using me as a referral. Just put in my email address as your referral: amykabell (at) gmail (dot) com. As much as I like to get free weeks (I'll get 12 free weeks for every 3 people who continue on past the trial period), I really do believe in the program and want my friends and family to save money, too! I am happy to answer any of your questions. If you learn about the reward programs (Walgreens = Register Rewards and Rebates; CVS = Extra Care Bucks), you'll be in good shape. Happy shopping!!!

Play Time

I love watching Noah in this stage! He is just exploring everything around him, and he's so darn quick, too. We had to put pillows at the bottom of the stairs because he hasn't quite figured out how to get down them gently, and he was starting to think it was a game to have us catch him. With the pillows there, he has a huge cushion when he takes a little tumble on his way back down the two stairs below his gate.

On Sunday, I was starting to feel a little cabin fever. I hadn't left the house since Thursday since I was sick. So, we went on a little trip to buy Noah some new Spring and Summer toys. We thought about buying a wagon because he would probably love riding around in one, but we decided to just wait. A jogging stroller is probably a more practical choice, so I'm going to check Craiglist to get a used one. A friend of ours has a baby who was born two days before Noah. He and his wife got their son a tunnel, and I guess he loves to crawl through his. So, we decided to get one for Noah, too. He LOVES it! Kya loves to run through it, too, which is really funny unless Noah is already making his way through when she decides to fun at the speed of lightning past him. Speaking of Kya, she and Noah are really starting to become good friends. Yesterday, Noah was sitting in his tunnel, and Kya was sitting right at the opening. She started to scratch her face in a really cute way, and Noah was CRACKING UP! He was seriously belly laughing at her. Then Noah kept handing her his toys and putting them in her mouth, which I had to then tell her to drop them. They were really interacting a lot. Kya will go in the tunnel, and Noah would laugh. Then Noah would go in the tunnel, and Kya would poke the outside of the tunnel. It was seriously too funny!

It was so beautiful when Ryan got off work, so we took Noah and Kya on a walk. Again, Noah was laughing at Kya walking around in front of him. Here is a cute picture of them at the end of our journey. Enjoy!

Bath Time

I love bath time for Noah! Ryan and I always give Noah a bath together, so it makes for fun family time. Here is a picture from Noah's second bath. He was probably 2 weeks old.

Don't you just love how swollen their little bellies are when they are first born? He was such a little snuggle bug. As you can see in the picture, Ryan had to hold Noah during his baths, or he would crumple down to the bottom of his little baby tub. Needless to say Ryan...I mean "we"...didn't pick a very good tub when we registered. :) (Seriously, I walked away for like 3 minutes to talk to a college friend who I bumped into at Babies R Us, and Ryan picked out the tub while I was gone). Anyway...it did make for a good excuse for us to have to give Noah a bath together.
Now that Noah is so big, probably 20 lbs. now, he has outgrown his baby bath tub. We tried to just put him in the tub by himself with Ryan there to support him, but Noah is just too wiggly right now. You can imagine trying to hold a wet, wiggly baby in place. It's like trying to hold melted butter! So, we invested in another safety item...Noah's new bath chair! It's so cute...he loves it...and it works great! It even has an elbow pad for the parents to use while lathering up their kid.

I think we got like 8 rubber duckies at our baby showers, and Noah loves all of them! I have a feeling he is going to love baths as he gets older. I know I did. My parents can vouch for me because I would take like 2 hour baths without any problem! I even had a Cabbage Patch doll that was built to go in the bathtub with me. Guess what I named him? RYAN! It's on video, so I can prove it. :)


Don't you just love his little curly top hair and sneaky little expression. I think he is plotting splashing us in this picture! I told Ryan this morning that I didn't think I could love Noah any more, but I totally do.

3.14.2009

Safety First

As you can imagine, now that Noah is able to get anywhere he wants to go, we are finally having to "baby proof" our house. While I was visiting my friend Jessica and her family, Ryan found Noah sitting three steps up on the stairs. Now that was definitely a first! Needless to say, we added a gate to the bottom on the stairs. Noah's new favorite game is climbing up the stairs, holding onto the gate, and jumping up and down with all his might. We're going to have to teach him how to get down because for now, he just kind of topples over when he wants to get down.

You wouldn't think that finding latches for your cabinets and drawers would be very difficult, but it really has been quite the adventure! First, we chose Babies R Us brand "Especially for Babies", and they just didn't work at all. Then, we went back to BRUs and thought, "Surely the Red Cross will make great latches." NOPE! Ryan was 3 for 3 in breaking off the heads of the screws. Now we have three screws (minus the heads) stuck in our cabinet. We just got a new store in Greenwood called Buy Buy Baby, and I think I'm in love! It's so clean and organized...and is associated with Bed, Bath, and Beyond. We got some Safety First latches there, and they work great. We also bought some of the kind (pictured below) for a little extra security for cabinets that have cleaning products.

I think we are officially "parents" now that our house looks like a baby gymnasium. :)

Once a Baby...Almost a Little Boy

Ok, following the theme of my last blog, does Noah look like a little boy in this picture or what? My cousin's wife Angie bought Noah this t-shirt recently, and although it's a little big on him, it was perfect for our Battle of the Bands event at church that Ryan helped to judge. Noah and I danced around while two different bands played and had a great time! He really likes to dance with me at home, too. When I hold him up and spin around in a circle, Noah will just laugh and kick his little legs like crazy! It's super cute!

Noah still takes 3 naps a day and sleeps 12 hours at night. It's glorious! I really would like for him to take two long naps, but he just seems to really need that third nap still. Fine by me! I have continued to make his baby food, which has been a lot of fun! I just bought some nectarines for him to try. I'm thinking about buying some eggplant soon, too. His awake time has stretched into being closer to the 2 hour mark, and he is just so busy! Noah will play with his toys for a bit and then realize that I'm nearby. He'll rush over to me as if he hasn't seen me in days...and then rush back off to play. Very cute! Here is a video to give you an idea what playtime is like for Noah.

video

Now can you understand why I haven't been blogging? :)

Almost 10 Months Old


One of the first times I found Noah standing in his crib.
I decoupaged his letters with fun scrapbooking paper. Aren't they cute?

How has a month passed already?? And more importantly, why haven't I been blogging this past month? Well, I have a very good explanation. Noah is on the move ALL of the time now! It's been a really fun month watching him become so quick, so much more coordinated, and so happy and proud of himself! People have asked me if I have felt sad that he isn't a tiny baby anymore, but I really haven't felt that way. Instead, I'm just so proud of him! I am so happy that he has figured out how to get from Point A to Point B. He really prefers to stand whenever possible, sliding across the furniture, baby gates, or walls. Before I know it, he'll be walking by himself! Ryan and I just keep saying to each other, "He's just getting so big!" Now that he's crawling, his little tummy is getting skinnier, and his once chubby baby hands are looking more like a little boy's hands. So cute! I'm going to post a series of blogs as I have some time today. What I thought was going to be a cold quickly turned into me losing my voice, getting a sore throat, etc., so Ryan is on baby duty, and I can catch up on blogs now that I'm feeling a little better. Stay tuned!

Does this picture have "I'm a stinker" written all over it or what?

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