Sunday, October 24, 2010

Great Grocery Challenge Update

Just thought you may all be wondering how we fared after our first official weekend on our family grocery challenge.  In the event you have no idea what I'm talking can read about it here.

Let's do a little comparing and contrasting.

The Old Melissa: Ran out of paper plates and bought more.
The New Melissa: Ran out of paper plates and used real plates except for breaking open a package of $0.38 soccer ball paper plates that I have about 10 packages of.

The Old Melissa:  Went to Hersheypark In the Dark and bought the kids overpriced hot cocoa.
The New Melissa: Went to Giant after Hersheypark in the Dark and bought a box of cocoa and a cheesecake (not sure if that is an improvement or not??).

The Old Melissa: Between running all the children from soccer to play practice we would hit the fast food drive-thru for lunch.
The New Melissa: Packed lunch and only bought a couple of fountain sodas at the drive-thru.

The Old Melissa: offered to bring a few friends home after soccer so a stop for pizza would make the most sense to serve to a group of hungry kiddos, especially after the crazy weekend I had.
The New Melissa: Grabbed some burgers and tator tots out of the freezer and cooked at home while the kids jumped on the trampoline.

The Old Melissa:  Would stop for milk and buns for above mentioned hamburgers and end up spending $43 on groceries we don't need.
The New Melissa: Sent The Husband to the store to purchase only buns and milk.

The Old Melissa: Find some reason to justify lunch out after church on Sunday because everyone is usually starving.
The New Melissa: Cooked some lean ground turkey to use as taco meat the night before so all I needed to do was heat it up and viola!  Lunch was served!

I think we are doing well and I am shocked at how much food we have left!  This time next week may be a little tougher since the choices are starting to dwindle and I am not certain I have ever lived for more than a few days without paper plates and bowls!

To be continued.....

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Great Grocery Challenge

The new challenge at our house is to cut down on our food bills.  I have become sort of a "food collector",  For some women, they buy a ton of shoes on sale.  Others, may purchase hundreds of flowers for their gardens.  I, however, collect chicken breast and microwave popcorn.  It's a sickness, so please don't judge me.

Last week, when looking through my stocked freezers (yes, I have 3) and cabinets with six open bags of cereal (not an exaggeration) I had a thought. 

I wonder how long we could live off the food already in the house?

So, my plan was set in motion.  I decided I would only purchase milk, half & half for coffee, eggs, bread and fruits/veggies until we used all the food already in the house.  I would purchase coffee and deli meats on an as needed basis (not stockpile it) since those were two necessities needed to avoid purchasing it outside of the home.  The girls have already been packing lunch for school about four times a week and not only were we saving a ton of money doing that, all of them have lost weight! I plan to use all these savings to pay cash for Christmas gifts this year for the kiddos. Or, new jeans for them since they are falling down.  Or, maybe just belts since the jeans are nice and new.....actually, I'm sure it will take a full year or two of packing lunches to pay for all their sports and activities!

I digress.

Update for week one....I already cheated a bit.

I had a coupon for candy and CVS had an in-store coupon and it was on sale, so I got a bunch to keep on hand.  #3 will need some to throw in the parade with the Girl Scouts and then her birthday is coming up (treat bags!).  C'mon, I got five bags of Hershey's and Mars candy for only $6.50!!  Then, I saw that Karn's had Turkey Hill ice cream on sale for $1.99 and I had $1 off coupons so how could I not go buy five half gallons when they were only $0.99 each?? I'm only human, people!!

So, I adjusted my little plan.  If it was about a $1 with a coupon, on sale and something we would really use, then I'm allowed to purchase it.

When revealing the plan to the kids, #1 asked if we were poor.

Little does she know, her mom is just playing a little mental game with herself.  And, hopefully, if I don't keep changing the rules, she may get a few Christmas gifts out of the deal.

All in all, this week (because I had already thrown in a trip to Costco) my food bill came to about 2/3 of what it usually is.  My goal is to cut it in half from now until the cabinets and freezers are empty.  Realistically, I think we can make it about a month.

On a positive note, while purchasing the Turkey Hill ice cream, out of habit I was going to grab something unhealthy from the bakery for breakfast and I stopped myself.  Nope, I can eat oatmeal in the morning.  Since there is probably enough in my pantry to feed a small island in the Bahamas.

To be continued....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"I Will Not Dissapear Without a Trace"

Here I go

And there's no turning back

My great adventure has begun

I may be small

But I've got giant plans

To shine as brightly as the sun

Nothing like a little show tune to inspire me. In the event you don't recognize it, the title and paragraph above are some of the lyrics to "Astonishing" from Little Women....the song that Jo sings after Laurie proposes and probably my favorite part of the musical. In the course of this four and a half minute song, Jo has an epiphany. It provokes me every time and you really need to hear the song, rather than just read the lyrics. You can hear the emotions build and as Jo reflects about herself, the result is a newfound determination. She is never the same after that. While her realization comes in discovering who she is, I'm anticipating some additional time discovering who He is.

Tomorrow, I have a date with God. One hour set aside, free from distraction to connect with His heart. A heart that is so filled with love for me that all the cares of the world grow dim in comparison. Some people may think spending an hour praying, worshiping and receiving God's promises for my life would be better spent doing something more practical. I could be working, volunteering or catching up on my giant laundry piles. However, my heart is eager and expectant to soak in His presence and as a result, all the other "practical" areas of life will find a proper place. After I receive all that He has for me, then I anxiously look forward to helping others seek out what our loving Father has in store for them. Destiny and dreams will be released and envisioned. We have been created for so much more than surviving and mediocrity!

You see, we need to believe we have been designed and destined to be astonishing! The great adventure has already begun.

Here is a link to the song....bare with the beginning, it gets better!

Sunday, October 10, 2010



1. Change or restore to a different or former position or state.

2. Change one's position or attitude 
Every once in awhile I look back on the previous weeks/months and see that my thought process is out of alignment.  I have had nothing to write about, no inspiration.  I wondered for awhile if I was done writing for good.  And, while I was at it, maybe just done dreaming in general.  I still remain focused and determined to complete my BA, but when asked what I'm going to do when I finish, I'm left with no answer to that question.  In fact, it only leaves me with more questions.  Can I possibly pursue a full-time career and still be the support that my family needs and deserves?  If I don't go to work full-time after I graduate how in the world will I be able to pay back my student loans?  Why do I have such a peace about going to school, yet I feel so restless about what I'm going to do after I graduate?  And, while I am in this odd stage of having kids that are helpful and becoming self-sufficient, they still need to be driven everywhere so much of the time that it reminds me of being just as worn out as when they crawled around the house in diapers. Only a box of Pampers costs much less than soccer cleats, softball registrations and homecoming dresses! It is a daily battle I find myself in, knowing that raising my kids is much more important than any career I could have, but knowing one day when they are grown (and, even now) I have my own desires and dreams to live out. 

So, when I take my eyes off of the big picture it brings me to this lonely place.  I needed a reminder that it isn't so much "what" I do, but "how" I do it.  But, even more important is that while I am in this place of uncertainty, weariness and frustration about things not going my way, my heavenly Father could not love me any more or any less.  It's time to stop hanging my head and doubting His promises. I have heard His gentle whisper to me over the last few weeks in my times of weariness.....patience.  That's it.  One word.  A word I believe can change the atmosphere around me.  Rather than allow my circumstances and obstacles to define me, I'll exercise patience with an understanding that it isn't about "arriving" at any particular destination.  I have a choice to take this journey with God going before me...I can be led gently, I can go kicking and screaming or I can ignore/forget His promises.

Therefore, I'm going to chill out a bit....plan better....yell less....write more just because I want to whether anyone else reads it or not.....take care of myself....and most of all, take the time each day to get to know God's heart a little bit more.  So when the storms come (and, they will come) attempting to knock me out of alignment with His word and my destiny, I will have an even deeper revelation of His never-ending love for me!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Parable of the Runaway Wiener Dog

If you didn't read part one of this story, you can click here

So, basically to make a long story short, my friend who came to help us look for Floppy is a marathon runner. After spotting Floppy in several different places, my friend saw her and began chasing after her.  After a few minutes of running, Floppy eventually laid down exhausted and my friend was able to scoop her up and carry her back to us.  She was covered in burrs and in need of a bath, but otherwise, she was fine.

It wasn't until the next day that I was really able to process it all.  Then, I felt like the Lord shared with me that many of us can act like Floppy did.  We get scared, so rather than run to, we run away from God.  Things in life change and in a panic we try to find our own way out and we leave the boundaries that God sets up for our own good.  But the wonderful thing about that situation is that He will relentlessly pursue us and search for us when we hide from Him.  And, when we finally grow weary and give up the fight, His loving arms pick us up and carry us back to safety.  Sometimes, we have to deal with the consequences of our bad choices, but He will lovingly clean us up and carefully pick off the "burrs" that try to stick to us. 

So, Floppy is settling in and has not tried to run away again.  I'm sure she misses her old family, but what I hope Floppy eventually realizes is that when God writes a new chapter it is always for the best.  And, maybe there is a lesson in that for us, too!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

We Could All Use Another Good Dog Story, Right?

Well.  Well. Well.

Be careful what you say since it has a way of coming back to you in an unexpected way!

Yesterday, as we prepared to pick up our new addition, Floppy, I mentioned to The Husband that we have always had a good dog story to tell.  I wondered out loud what "our story" about Floppy would be.  Oh my...

This weekend, we traded our two guinea pigs for five-year old Floppy, a long-haired dauschund from a sweet family that wasn't home enough to give Floppy a lot of attention, but were willing to help us by taking the piggies (since our girls were allergic to them).  The trade went smoothly, but it became obvious on the ten-minute ride back to our house that Floppy was clearly upset.  She was shaking and no longer wagging her tail.  The girls tried to comfort her and we all spoke sweetly to her.  By the time we got her out of the van and brought her inside, she was shaking so badly I was not sure what to do.  I held her for a bit and I thought maybe if we took her back outside in the grass she would calm down.  Since our Dobie was in the backyard, I decided to save her the final blow that would cause her heart attack by avoiding the 100-pound scary dog and took her in the front/side yard.  Yup.  The one. with. no. fence. around. it.

The Husband was just a few minutes away from leaving for his limo job...he had on his dress pants, white shirt and dress shoes, so he sort of lingered in the doorway as we went out.  As soon as I found a quiet spot far from the road, I gently set down Floppy, who exploded like a rocket and started running into the neighbors yard.  Through big poky trees.  I started jogging after her thinking to myself, how fast can she run on those stubby little legs?  Apparently, she can run faster than an out-of-shape forty year old mother of three who did not gracefully navigate the trees.  All of a sudden I find myself sprinting down the road yelling HELP!....then, I hear The Husband from behind asking me who I'm calling to help me (Uh....duh...Jesus or the police or the Dog Whisperer, ok Sweetie?  It's called panic, I'm quite good at yelling random ridiculous things like that.....).  The next thing I see is The Husband running down the road (the two of them were no longer in the grassy safety of yards) in his dress clothes.  To which I think for a split second, he looked like he was in a James Bond movie.  In the other half of that microsecond, I realize that we left #2 and #3 at the house hysterical, so I sprint (not really "sprint" anymore, since I was already battling a chest cold for a week.  I more or less jog/wheezed my way back home) and jumped in the van with the kids and half of my wits about me to drive after James Bond and the Wiener Dog (that title is being copyrighted for a future Brandon Hess movie, Brandon just doesn't know it yet).

I found The Husband a few blocks away in a field.  Not good.  I live in the country where there are many fields with knee high grass.  I realize that the only person Floppy will come to is the lady we got her from (whose house I had just left about fifteen minutes ago).  I went to grab my cell phone to call her and then realized it must have fallen out of my sweatshirt while I was running after Floppy.  I had to leave the search effort to go retrieve my phone...thinking to myself....WHO DOES THIS???  Who loses a dog less than three minutes of it bringing it home??  And, then loses her cell phone trying to catch the dog with little legs??? I do! I do!

Thankfully, we found the phone, I call the lady and she rushes over to the field with me  The Husband had to leave for work and on his way, was supposed to drop off #2 and a friend at play practice.  It's all a blur, but I parked in a place where I could have a good view of the fields because when you are actually in the fields, you can't see your own feet, much less a ten-pound dog that stands an inch or two off the ground.  All of a sudden, Floppy heard her previous owner call her and began running towards her in the field.  Then, The Husband shows up with my friend following him (who came to offer her help when she dropped her daughter off for play practice and learned of the incident).  All of a sudden, I'm looking out into the field and Floppy was gone again.  She changed her mind and ran away from her previous owner, who was trying frantically to call to her.

Here is where I have to tell you that #3 sat in the back of the van in tears praying through the entire ordeal.  I was praying, the Husband was praying and the girls were texting their friends and they were all praying.  Tune in tomorrow for the happy ending and The Parable of the Wiener Dog.....