Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Do You Ever Wonder Why?

Proverbs 3:5-6:
5.Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

I was thinking today, do you ever wonder why God brings the things he does into your life? His infinite wisdom joined me with my husband after a cry out to him in the night almost 9 years ago! It took time, but in his timing it was all perfect. In his timing he nudged me to read a book that turned me from a determined full time (sad) working mother with kids in daycare wondering why I got the leftovers of them every being a stay at home mom that homeschools! (The book was So..You're Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Welchel) Isn't God good? Isn't it amazing when you look at the details in life and see his hand guiding things with perfection and timing that is impeccable?!

Homeschooling is getting better finally. I am settled in being at home. Now I am in another stage of my life. Now I enter into the world of blogging on the tip of my fingers gliding in carefully and excitedly into this new world of creativity, sharing, tips, friendships and helpfulness that is hard to find even in the same neighborhood sometimes. Today I wondered why God stirred it in my heart recently to get back into blogging even though I created my account 3 years ago!

I have been learning a lot through my devotions and consistent search for God in my daily life. He shows me how he is there for the little and the big things. He isn't surprised by the things I do and has the grace to love me through each stumble, fall and worn path I attempt to step foot on again. Now in my searching for why recently it hit me...WHY am I here for such a time as this? A part of me would love to live in simpler times (although I DO love my internet access!) but times where kids in the neighborhood are not so scheduled that you have to schedule FREE time during the week to play! Times where you don't know the interior of your car better than the interior of your house! Times where you KNOW how to sit and play cards or board games without trying to remember what it was like when you were a kid. Maybe no one else is like that but I have spent most of my life working and my brain isn't good at turning off and hitting snooze or in this case "Relax". I have fun, I love to laugh and be around people but my trained instinct is to work when I see the availability to do so! Have you ever seen someone stack their dirty dishes at a restaurant to make it easier on the server? That was probably me, you should have waved and said Hi! :)

So here is the question, if I long for such old fashioned relaxed times, why did God see fit to put me here in this time? It actually brought me to tears to think about God's reasoning. He put me into the internet world to encourage, help, nurture and be a beam of light in the online world. He knows what he is doing and little by little I see the people he puts me into contact with to support, befriend, love and learn from. His wisdom astounds me! I see prayers answered through simple things, like remembering when I first moved from Kansas City to Wisconsin and longed for friends. Now I have friends in town, through my super friendly wonderful church that he specifically recommended and my online friends! As you go through each day, whether you know it or not, you can touch people's lives. So with that thought, what do they see? Happiness? Peace? Joy? Love? Fear? Negativity? Anxiousness?
I believe that God has done a huge work in me as I have learned to look up when I have questions instead of searching for my phone for someone to call...I call on him.

This is where I came up with prayerful driven life, because I have finally learned to quit steering and give God the wheel. I find that I have more peace in my life, I am learning to relax and not work every minute of the day. I feel his presence much easier when my mind isn't speeding through life 90 miles an hour.
Where do you turn in your time of need? Why do you think out of any other time God put you here now?
Share with us in a comment, what do you think?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Ultimate Blog Party 2009
The Ultimate Blog Party 2009 has started!
Welcome to my blog! My name is Sarah and I live in Wisconsin. I am super-amazingly-happily married with a blended family of 5 boys and my baby Kira (lab-dalmatian mix-she is a dog in case that wasn't clear). :)

I am fairly new to blogging as you will see from my archive list, but I have already made some wonderful friends and I am falling more and more in love with my blog time!
You will find through my blog that I am a Christian homeschooler, coupon-queen, edging my way into home decor, baking, recipe testing, doing things myself (gasp!), shopper, friend and all around fun girl (at least I think so!). I hope to make plenty of new friends through this party!

Some of my favorite blogs to read and friends I have made are here: nester, Maisy Report, project create a home, we are that family, money saving mom, little momma and company, katies nesting spot, bless our nest, shell in your pocket and BlueCastle. I could list numerous others, to see some of my other friends check out my followed blogs.

I hope to offer fun tidbits of sale, ideas, family updates, creativity and encouragement with my blog. I hope you will follow and become a part of a Prayerful Driven Life with me. I plan to have giveaways in the future as well! :)
As part of the excitement of this party are the prizes, here are the items I would love to win:
58 – Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer
Provided by: Moms Who Think
42 — 5 kajeet phones with $5 of airtime
Provided by: kajeet
(my boys would SO appreciate this win!!)
11 — Aromatherapy book and a sampler of therapeutic essential oils.Provided by: Jennifer at Oils For Wellness

1 — $100 gift certificate to either Pedal Cars and Retro or A Rocking Horse To Love
89 - $100 Gift Card to HomeGoods, #89 - Donated by HG Openhouse
Provided by: 5 Minutes for Mom
21 — $50 gift certificate to Target Stores
Provided by: Agoosa - Funny Name, Sound Advice
22 — $50 gift certificate to Target Stores
Provided by: Beginner Baby Blog
26 — $30 gift certificate to Target
Provided by: Little Miss Hannah - Our Fight Against Gaucher’s Disease

I would also like to win # 27, ,43, 44, 55, 69, 91, 102, 106, 118.
Thanks for stopping by!
Enjoy the Party!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life & Style Makeover Giveaway

This is HUGE! There is a fabulous makeover happening right now at project create a home. They are giving away A Life & Style Makeover...The winner will be able to choose three areas in their life that they need help on...And the Project Girls will magically help guide them to a new place and a new vision for their life...
I would love to win this makeover for so many reasons. I would love to truly have someone help me with design in my house, especially my rec room, it is a thrown together "wreck" alright! I don't have a color scheme and I struggle with vision most of the time for big picture outcomes. I never had much of the girlie touch, I am catching up in my 30's for a lot of lost time!

When I think about what they are offering, "a new vision for their life". What a statement! I have often thought that my past amazes me that I did so many various things in such a short time. The past 8 years I went from being a single (divorced) working mom of 1 to a working wife and mom to 5 boys, then to staying at home and homeschooling two of my children. Then other things changed, I actually starting to care about home decor, eating healthy, caring for the environment, making things at home and other things that were foreign to me just 5 short years ago!

My husband and I are dedicating this year to focusing on our debts and paying them off (you can read about the progress at our other blog here) and finally trying to live a life of freedom that will no longer be based on our paycheck to paycheck lifestyle! I would say that my lifestyle has changed drastically in the past few years! The vision is my next step! I have felt God's direction in many areas such as real estate deals, creating a "Safe House" for teen girls to come and stay, being tutored with schoolwork, learning how to cook and eat right and not have outside pressures telling them it is a waste of time! I would be so thankful to have the mentoring of other women to help me create, invest and picture the vision for my future and help me through some of these pillars up and coming in my life. What an amazing adventure!

Sunday Party - SURPRISE!

My husband's birthday is this coming Sunday but on a whim I decided to throw him a surprise party! I am amazed to say he was surprised and never suspected a thing! I was gone half the day on Saturday doing birthday errands and using gift cards at fabulous places as I posted. But then Sunday I drove separately to church telling him I was running late and didn't want him to be late in helping with sound for the worship team. I was 20 minutes LATE for church, but I was able to pick up his cookie cakes from Target that I phone ordered, along with the remaining food items I needed. The poor thing, he told me as soon as I sat down (at church) that he was worried I was in a car accident and was about to leave and retrace the drive from church to our house. He has said that numerous times since church yesterday. (What a precious man!)

We had some fabulous church family members come to the party filling our house with 17 extra people to enjoy the day with and play! We had bikes, the motorbike, Frisbees, our dog and just about every other toy you can think of strewn across our lawn with happy men and children playing all afternoon! (The women all stayed inside and talked happily with the kids outside entertained for the afternoon!)
It was a blessed event and the best part was seeing just how blessed and happy my husband felt through the whole thing!

He is 46 this year and it is hard for me to believe that it has been almost 7 years since we have been together. I am so thankful for this amazing man God joined me with for life...some days that doesn't seem like a long enough time to experience each day with him! :)
Happy Birthday Baby!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday Projects

Wow, I have been busy blogging today (three times) but also getting things done!
I went to Hobby Lobby and bought the fabric to recover our kitchen chairs. How many of you have had kitchen chairs that look like this after 5 kids and numerous spills...whoops sorry Mom!
But thankfully I was able to get the screwdriver persistence of my husband teamed with my new staple gun and we created this...

I am thrilled with the look of the "new" chairs! While shopping at Hobby Lobby I found a few other things that added some new charm to the house. First, I found this darling rabbit for 50% off--making him $4.50 and shockingly I also found the cabbage plate for $3 on clearance from $19.99 I think. So for $8.75 (I bought a bag of jelly beans too) I have a cute Easter display to use with my cloche! I couldn't believe it fit perfectly on there too!!!

I found this wreath 50% off as well, it was $25 but I am so fond of the nester's style with pheasant feathers I had to copy her! I used some greenery and a flower I had around the house to soften it a bit and also hot glued a little birds nest in it and clipped on another bird. I think it looks pretty for the front door. (Click on it to see the full thing.)

Here are some spring flowers with a pheasant touch to them I bought today. Finally some new spring touches in the house!

I also hit Express and bought two new swing cardigans and a cute black sweater, yes that's right...that is so me...I shop for spring and end up with white, black and pink at the most usually. I like color really, just not on me so much! LOL
It was quite an eventful day and I even worked in 2 hours on the phone to my grandma, making dinner for my family and cleaning the house! I will update more later! Have a great rest of the weekend!

Bedroom Colors...(Opinions welcome!)

We finalized on the fabrics we liked and want to use to make curtains in our bedroom. NOW I need some ideas on what style to make them. I will try to get pictures of my windows in my bedroom this weekend. They are 3 windows together making one large window in our room. I am hoping to do something like the 3/4 length of the olive/shimmery fabric but them do I use the beautiful decorated fabric for the last 1/2 on top or on bottom. My husband thinks bottom...

Take a look. Also, what color sticks out to you for the paint samples? I hope to be painting our room in another 10 days or so, so the time is creeping up on me to get this figured out! :) I added the pic with flash and without if it helps! :)
I am so excited to be planning this now!!! Yay! I will also be working on posting pics of our furniture too. I am hoping painting or staining will help it along as I don't have the budget to get a new bed, but my frame is black metal. Get those creative juices flowing!

An Official Boy Scout

I am thrilled to announce that my son officially crossed over the bridge to become a Boy Scout on Thursday. We are very proud of his accomplishment! He has been in Cub Scouts for about 5 years now! He also took 3rd place in his den for his Pinewood Derby Car! He seems so big all of a sudden!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Grocery Budget

I am realizing as I sit down my husband that I spend about $75-90/wk on groceries. I never paid much attention but now that I set double coupon Wednesdays as my day I go in with more purpose and less browsing!

I didn't do as well this week, I spent $92.23 and saved $47.28 but I was thrilled to add into those two gallons of free milk, some expensive salsa I decided to splurge on to try, two huge pork loins which will feed all of us two dinners, and round steaks for dinner this weekend! So while I didn't do the BEST with my savings this week, our freezer is steadily getting full every week from these meat sales I keep catching!

Take some time to sit down and actually accumulate what you spend even on those side trips to Walgreens, the grocery store, Target where you are picking up milk, etc. It definitely makes a difference when you keep track of things! I also highly recommend keeping receipts all year long so you can keep track and encourage yourself by discovering how much money you save couponing, following deals and sometimes just eating at home. I have yet to add up my receipts from last year, but in 2007 I saved over $10K! It makes it worth it to use one file folder of space to save your receipts and see how you do! :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Maple Sugaring Field Trip

What a great time we had on our field trip yesterday! Although it was threatening thunderstorms and raining nicely as we were leaving, we prayed for a great field trip. We met at our friends house, did the unusual and threw burgers and fries from McD's at the kids while we drove quickly to the environmental education center. :)

We learned so many interesting things! I never knew that while many states can have maple trees, we are part of the only region in the WORLD that can create syrup and sugar from the sap because it only runs when it is cold at night and mild-warm in the day. They said yesterday was the perfect kind of weather for sap to run. (We were blessed to have it completely stop raining until we got in the car to leave too!)

Here are some pictures from our field trip:
Putting in all the ingredients needed for photosynthesis:

Cleaning out the center of elderberry branch to create the "pith".

Drilling the hole...

Tasting the sap--it mostly tasted like water.

The pith and bucket are in place.

The "modern" Civil-War era stove they used to boil the sap.

Doing it Indian Style. Did you ever think about howthe Indians boiled sap to create sugar having no metal utensils? It never occurred to me! It was awesome to learn that they used rocks from under their fires and constantly stirred and rotated them. Not to mention that they made sugar, not typically syrup as much since they didn't have bottles to store it.

Here is "Grandma" of the Che-Po-Ta-Kay. She said that her house was blessed but she didn't know about what spirits we had around us, so she used a branch to cleanse evil spirits from coming in on our backs. More interesting stories surrounded the grandma of the tribe, she was the leader and had numerous ways of delegating her power. For instance, if the kids don't listen to what she tells them to do, they only get 1/2 of their drinking cup filled, another time gets it 1/4 of the way filled, the 3rd time she throws their stuff out of the house and they are out to survive on their own for life. (Hmm...maybe we are a little too easy on our kids huh?)

Here is the inside of their house and we learned about the Indians thermostat system, how the boys were traded at the age of 13 in exchange for another tribes boys to become husbands for the daughters, and felt all the furs of the animals and how they used every piece...never wasting!

The Colonial Upgrade to Maple Syrup/Sugaring.

Lastly, it was the children's job to carry the yoke with buckets of sap to the sugar house. Our friend's daughter earned her keep just as we were served plastic spoons filled with maple syrup! Yum!

Thanks for learning with us!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday Magic

Can that even go together? Who finds Mondays magical? Well, apparently today I did! It was one of those miraculous days where you get up and everything seems to just mesh! Do you know what I mean?

I woke up and the kids were in GREAT spirits! We immediately started with devotions, learning a memory verse, which flowed right into 6 subjects for my oldest son. He was done before lunch time today---that never happens! Not to mention laundry was going, dishes were washing, tea was brewing and the sun was shining in the window. It sounds like something an editor describes in a magazine that doesn't seem real. But I was here, it was real!! The schools in our district (elementary that is) get out at 1:45pm on Monday's, so it was perfect timing for the kids to be done and the house to be in order so they could spend the day outside! They rode bikes, scooters, the dog barked and chased them up and down the street for over an hour. Since it seemed so nice out (a whole 44 degrees!) I went out and tidied up the garage and used the blower to finally get the accumulating sand from the winter blown out to the street! Whew! That was a great chore off my list!!!

You know how one thing can lead into another...well having the garage cleaned out brought me in with a bag of hiking boots, shoes and other items I will need to throw on craigslist very soon! As I finished folding laundry, then bathed the now sandy, wet dog, and finished puttering around the house I realized...ding almost time for my husband to be headed home! Perfect time for his grubby wife to finally wave her white flag of surrender to workmanship and hit the shower! I finished as he got home and gave him a nice back massage as an encouragement to follow his promise and take me to Hobby Lobby to look at fabric. *grin*

He did take me! Yay! I was shocked to run up and down the home decor aisle to see that the empty cardboard roll of the fabric I wanted was propped up in the recycle bin..*sniff* Don't worry! They think they will get it back in by Thursday! But the excellent news is that my husband at first frowning at my adored choice for our bedroom saw it with the perfect fabric along side it and agreed he LOVED it too! Yay! Now to start working on ideas for making these curtains amazing! We were able to get a swatch of fabric from the fabric lady at Hobby Lobby and then head off to our next mission...

HOME DEPOT! Now that we were in love with the fabric selection this was easy, match up a color with the fabric! We found about 15 that we brought home and the cutest thing ever was created in my room. I couldn't find the swatches and yelled out to my husband just as I looked up and saw his favorite choice and my favorite choice side by side propped over our mirror with the swatches draped in front of them. Is that cute or what? I think *someone* is excited about their new room too! What do you think?

I will post pictures of the fabric when I can figure out how to take close ups the right way!

Nevertheless, it was a perfect day!!! Now I am tired and need to go to bed!
Have a great night!!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Blog Giveaways -I Won!!

I would like to take a moment to extend a BIG thank you for two big wins this past month! It was a great welcoming into the world of blogging!

First, I was so inspired by We Are That Family to hear about Kristen's idea about the Kissing Challenge which also coincided with her SWAK Valentine's Carnival.

I am excited to share that I WON! I received my book Better Love Now: Making Your Marriage a Lifelong Love Affair you can find it at amazon here. Thank you so much Kristen! I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and the book was the perfect win for me and my hubby! (You can check my older posts to see my winning post in honor of my husband) I would like to also say that the book is wonderful!! My husband and I are reading it together and so far we are really enjoying it!

My other win was from Amy at the maisy report.
Isn't she adorable?

She is so sweet and I honestly didn't think I had a chance of winning when I entered! I was surprised the next day to hear that I did!!! I won a $50 gift card of my choice, wow, you don't get something like that every day!!! Amy was very sweet and agreed to give me a Visa gift card which is perfect for my indecisive personality!! Now I can spread my gift to a few stores possibly! I thought it was also very nice of her to nudge me to get a manicure, go out to a restaurant I like, etc. It will go to great use and you must know when it is my money I am even stricter with spending it, so since I won this, I might still be using it 3 months from now! LOL
I can vouch for blog giveaways being worth your time! Plus I have already made some wonderful friends!!! Thank you both so much!!!
Amy is also starting a candy business...check out her blog...I told you she was sweet! :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Double Double Coupon Trouble

In thinking long and hard about what to add to today's WFMW post I thought of the numerous people that ask me for my "recipe for savings" methods.

So without further ado, here are my insider tips for coupon savings!
First, I do not mess with the Sunday paper--the news would ruin my savings as I would eat myself to 300lbs looking for comfort, plus I would only get 1 copy of the coupon that I *might* want! SO, I became a big fan of she ships pretty fast and I have purchased from her for about 6 years now! So, I will spend about $5-10 at a time on buying coupons but I get a feel for what will be on sale and stock up on great coupons---especially $1 coupons!

Wednesdays at our local grocery store is double coupon day! Yay! But there is a trick in there...I had to catch it for myself! They will only double 5 coupons and your purchase has to be $25 or more. The first few times I did this my mentality was doubling every coupon I had but only 5 of them doubled. Now what to do? Think it through!!! The following Wednesday I felt like Mrs. Einstein! I walked in and separated out orders in my cart per 5 double coupons and then extras to make up my $25 purchase. So maybe my first order has 4/$10 cereal I have 4-$1 coupons to use on them. Then I purchase say $5.50/8pack of yogurt and have a $1 coupon for that. Then I add in two gallons of milk, couple dozen eggs and maybe even something I found on clearance or that I don't (gasp!) have a coupon for! So then my total of say $26 it is then $16. Not bad. But more often than not matching it with the stores deals, I often spend around $10-18/order and save $15-20/order. This tip has saved people around here a ton of money because I share with everyone I know to separate the orders!

I hit the grocery store around 9:30pm after church on Wednesday nights, my husband gets the kids to bed and relaxes at home. I have the grocery store almost to myself so it is easier to think and plot out deals. I catch things while shopping many times. Another tip is that I have learned when I pray for wisdom while shopping I save a ton of money! God helps my mind put things together that I never thought of originally.

Also, if you take the time say on that Wednesday to look at the next week's ad, you have enough time to stock up on coupons for the big deals! Some of my favorites in the past have been $1 coupons off Steamers by Green Giant (I will eat a bag of broccoli for dinner many times, love them!) they sell for $1.69 but with my double coupon plot I would get them free! I literally had 30 bags at one point, I have eaten them all!! (They won't give overage at our store, so it would double to $.69 to make them free) Another favorite is still out there, $1 coupons for 1 bottle of V8 juice, another family favorite. I bought 12 bottles a week or so ago when they were on sale for $3/9 making them $1/bottle after coupon. You can't even buy an 8oz bottle at the store for that these days!!!

I hope these tips help you!!!