Thursday, March 5, 2015

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Can you tell what Lamb 3 has been doing in his recent math lessons?

Yesterday was a very busy day with piano lessons and the first day of track practice. The Lambs fell into bed physically tired after practice. I was tired too as I exercised during the whole practice. A few minutes after prayers, Lamb 3 came to see me in tears.

Lamb 3: "Mama, why do I have to be the only one in our family with a birthday on an even numbered day?"
(I needed to do some fast thinking to answer that!)
Ewe: "Oh, that makes you special! You may be the only one that lives at our house, but both of your Grandpas and Aunt Hannah all have birthdays on even days too."

Another crisis was solved in our house and everyone could go to sleep.

*I'm thankful Lamb 3's birthday is on an even day and not on April 1!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Recent Budget Blessings

I watched my pennies very carefully during January and February. Recently we had a little relief in our finances. I'm praising God for these blessings.
1. We had a mess with one of the bills for one of Lamb 2's doctor visits from October 2013. Yesterday I received the refund I was expecting from the doctor. Our HSA reimbursed the rest of the visit. It's disgusting that it took over a year to straighten all this out, but I kept writing letters and it paid off finally.
2. Our church got a new treasurer last year and our HSA money was sent to our account, but somehow the wrong paperwork (or computer trail) went with it. So we weren't reimbursed anything from our HSA for several months even though we had several doctor bills last year. In January we finally began receiving HSA money again for 2015. In February we received the rest of the reimbursement for 2014 and also reimbursement for 2015 too. All but one doctor visit has been reimbursed by our HSA account. We have not been caught up on our HSA reimbursements since we moved here.
3. This is the month we receive our yearly Costco rebate. I'm glad it was $260 and embarrassed that we put that much money on our American Express last year. That is a lot of 1% to 3% spent. We pay it off each month so it turns out being free money to us minus the membership fee. I will be able to shop at Costco for free for the next several months if I watch my pennies while shopping there.
4. Ram finally took his old phone in so because he got reimbursed for that and because we watched our pennies so closely the last couple of months, our Visa bill was the lowest it has ever been. We charge almost everything on the American Express, but there are times that they don't take A.E. I don't know why our cell phone bill is still on our Visa, we should change that. But it was nice to have a low Visa bill for one month!
5. When we moved here we withdrew the Lamb's savings accounts from the MN bank. We never got around to opening new accounts for them. I finally opened up new savings accounts for them in December through L.C.E.F. Now that the budget isn't so tight, I added the amount they had in MN to their new savings accounts. I was glad to cross that off my to do list. They get 3.5% on the first $1000 invested. I will blog more about this great program later.
6. Because I bought something from Memoria Press last year I received a gift card from them at Christmas time so I purchased a Latin DVD for a few dollars plus shipping.
7. Ram did receive his Be Well reward for last year. It was not for the full amount but every little bit helps. I'm determined to get my full amount this year after not getting any last year. I've already begun working on this. We used his reward for some necessary items and a few treats too.
8. Because I'm caught up on paperwork, I have been able to find receipts when I need them. Recently one of our Lambs became allergic to a product he used and I had stocked up on it. I returned all the unopened packages and got a refund.
9. Ram won a massage and a coffee gift card at our church preschool auction. I bought $20 of raffle tickets so that was a pretty good deal. I won some doTerra at the silent auction. We will definitely use that plus it helped out our preschool.
10. February was rough for the grocery budget with Lent suppers, preschool fundraiser, stocking up for Lamb 1's birthday, preparing for company for Lamb 1's birthday, hosting treats after church one Sunday, buying Zaycon chicken, and stocking up for snacks for track practice days. I'm happy to report that I was $3 under budget including food tax. Plus ID is talking about dropping the grocery tax. March is going to be rough again, but I did it in February so I know I can do it!
11. We are blessed with good dental insurance so Lamb 2's chipped tooth and my 2 root canals were not nearly as bad as I expected. I did fine with ibuprofen and did not need to fill the prescription for pain meds so we saved $ there too.
12. I sent our info off to our tax lady so we'll see how those turn out and if those are a budget blessing too. I'm hoping all our medical miles and dollars help us on our taxes, but we just have to see.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Lamb 1 is sick

(Neighbor's names were removed from this sign Lamb 1 posted on the door.)
Today was supposed to be a very busy day. Lamb 2 and 3 were to go with Ram to our church supper. I was going to take Lamb 1 to Cub Scouts, leave Scouts early and sneak into church tonight. It was a special Cub Scouts tonight-dinner and skits and awards. We are disappointed to miss it.

About midnight last night Lamb 1 threw up. He had been complaining all day that his stomach was upset. I thought he had just eaten a lot differently the night before than we usually do-diet pop, more sweets, more fruit, and lots more gluten than we normally eat.

Then this morning he had diarrhea. He took a shower and I changed all his sheets including his mattress pad. I had a lot of laundry to do today. I cleaned their whole bathroom well.

So we sent notices to Cub Scouts that we would not be attending and Ram told the church ladies that we wouldn't be there tonight. Lamb 1 was very careful what he ate today-he did not want to repeat last night. The other two Lambs have a touch of this because their behavior has been terrible the last few days.

Lamb 1 posted this sign on the door and the neighbor boy still rang the doorbell this afternoon. Lamb 1 yelled at him, "Didn't you see the sign?" A salesman also came today but he did not ring the doorbell after seeing the sign, just left his literature.

I am really hoping that we can all get a good night's sleep and that I do not get this before my scheduled dental work tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Compliment?

We were invited to dinner with a family that has two children where the oldest is the same age as Lamb 3. I fed the Lambs peanut butter sandwiches before dinner for a couple of reasons.

1. Lamb 3 is picky and I wasn't sure he would eat very well at a stranger's house.
2. I didn't know when supper would be served and I didn't want starving Lambs while they were waiting.
3. I didn't want the Lambs to totally pig out and not leave food for everyone else to eat.

That ended up being good because it was awhile until we ate. Lamb 3 didn't really like it and ate very little besides bread and dessert. Lamb 1 and 2 totally pigged out when it was finally time to eat and also ate a lot of snacks before dinner. Even Ram was shocked how much fruit Lamb 1 ate before dinner.

As we were cleaning up the hostess said usually she prepares way too much food for company, but she made the perfect amount because there weren't many leftovers after dinner with us. I'm not sure if that was a compliment. The hostess seemed glad that we ate her food. I do know that life with three boys elementary school age is way different than when they were toddlers and completely different than families without boys. Although their toddler boy ate quite a lot too. No wonder why my grocery bill is so huge! I can only imagine when they are all teenagers...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Photo Deals

The lack of blog posts lately is because I have been working on some photo projects. In the last few weeks I have taken advantage of some photo deals at both Snapfish and Shutterfly. Creating these projects has taken a long time, but it has been so worth the time.

First I have to admit that I was a loyal Snapfish customer and never even tried Shutterfly until last month. I had trouble getting Snapfish's 100 free prints with their mobile app and after much effort trying to work it out with Snapfish I decided to give Shutterfly a try. I have all our digital pictures since 2003 uploaded to Snapfish so I'm not completely giving up Snapfish. They will still be the first place I go to make photo books, but probably not the first place I go to order prints.

Once I tried Shutterfly, it was amazing how many free/cheap deals came across my inbox that I had never even paid attention to before. Here is what I have created in the last month.
*Snapfish small photo book with our family pictures taken last August ($10 off coupon so book was just 2.99 plus shipping)
*Last summer I created a photo book for one of our former churches in MN that was having an anniversary. I sent the photo book to them but I never ordered copies for our family. I ordered two copies at 50% off. I thought this was a pretty good deal because it was half price off the whole book-usually their deals are buy two get one free but that only includes the first 20 pages. So this deal turned out to be buy one get one free. One copy is for our family and one copy is for one of the boys. I would like to eventually buy one more copy so all three of the boys can have one when they are older. I'll watch for another good deal to buy that third copy at another time.
*Because I spent enough money on those church photo books I got credit for a free 8x8 canvas. So I made a canvas with a picture of Ram and Ewe taken last August. I just paid for shipping. This was an incredible deal as they normally are $32.99. Snapfish is still running this deal until the end of February if you want to get a free canvas! (Note: Creating this canvas was more difficult than I expected, it is difficult to crop the picture to a square shape.)
*Then I began a project that I have wanted to do ever since we moved in this house. In our bedroom we have a table where I do my sewing and scrapbooking and Ram writes sermons when he is working from home. We never hung anything on the wall there because I had this idea in my mind. We already hung the free canvas in the middle of the wall. Then I began making collage posters. First I made one at Snapfish and with $5 coupon as Valentine's Day gift for customers it cost 3.99 plus shipping.
*Then I made two more collages at Shutterfly. I used a $20 off coupon from Kelloggs. I also purchased one 5x7 print so that my total would be over $20. I don't think I would have had to do this, but I wanted to make sure the deal worked. I paid 97 cents plus shipping for all that.
*I received 50 free prints for being a new Shutterfly customer, just paid shipping.
*I took Joyfully Thriving's advice and ordered 99 free prints, just paid shipping.

I still have two Shutterfly coupons left that I plan to use before they expire.
*Johnson and Johnson company gave a code for a free calendar at HealthyEssentials.com
*Joann Fabrics gave me a code for a free 16x20 print. I plan to use this to make a collage of our churches and parsonage in MN. They also gave a code for $20 off home decor, but I do not plan to use that code as $20 is not saving that much on those items that qualify.

These collages that I created have some of my favorite photos of the boys. I still have plans to make one more collage and then I will be caught up. I plan to hang these collages around the canvas of Ram and Ewe along with some 5x7's of our family too. I will be watching for more photo coupons to finish this project. I love the idea of having these favorite pictures by where I sew and scrapbook.

Pay attention to your e-mails from companies like Joann Fabrics and Kelloggs because you may just run across good deals like this! Also pay attention to the expiration dates on these deals or you will miss them. I try to quickly scan the daily e-mails from Joann and other companies and see if there are any deals like this before I delete them. Most e-mails end up deleted, but there are good codes once or twice a month that make it worth being on some of these e-mail lists.