spending freeze/detox = staying home

Cozy, pajama days spent lazing about and watching the snow coming down (but not sticking). A baked bean recipe is in the crock pot for dinner. The only downside is we have no wood for a fire in the fireplace. Gah!

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Two week challenge

After the first crazy high, winter heating bill we turned the thermostat way down and layered up on clothing. I’m curious to see what difference it makes on the bill next month.

Look at everyone bundled up…

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Isaac seems to appreciate the “gaming mitts” I knit them all for Christmas the most. He wears them every day!

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In keeping with our 2012 financial goals, we have a TWO WEEK no spending challenge going on, starting today. It’s going to be tough! Some might think two weeks is nothing but this is without any preparation. I’m forcing myself to work with the “we-don’t-have-any-food” food.

We are kicking it off with a full tank of gas, 1.5 gallons of milk, leftover homemade pizza and a hearty amount of peasoup prepping in the crockpot. I have several bags of beans, a big container of rice, oats, lentils, masa harina, etc. We should do fine theoretically.

I’ll need to get past the lazy, Jason will need to get past the soda addiction and the kids will need to get past the picky eating. SCARY!

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Note for next Christmas

In my attempts to be financially fit this year I’m already thinking about Christmas 2012(!!!) and birthdays throughout the year. I saw so many handmade items that would have been wonderful and cost effective had I allowed myself the time.

With our attempts to limit the number of gifts the past few years, it still seems like they get a lot of plastic that gets assembled and set aside. This plastic is what they asked for, of course, but even they agree it is a short lived “high” and maybe they didn’t need this or that.

My friend Valerie mentioned a tradition of limiting kids to four gifts:

Something they want, something they need,

something to wear and something to read.

I love it! I did a web search and this practice comes up a lot. How did I miss this until now? What I like about it is the single “want” gift. It will make them think and be more selective in choosing. It will certainly help organize the shopping process.

If you think this seems Scrooge-like, trust me, the kids are not for want;) Christmas is for fun and the element of surprise.

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A little late…

Xander’s birthday was on the 7th and we had cake yesterday, on the 9th.

The boy is EIGHT years old!

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I spy with my little eye

I would not even have known this clutter was here if I didn’t take a picture of it. That is how sloppy our family room has gotten. I’m feeling a major PURGE coming on.

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Are you with me?

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puppies

Lotus sleeping and Simon trying to convince us he is asleep too;)

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Hello, 2012!

2012 goals are all about finances. Have I mentioned how much I love finances? I love reading about finances, paying bills, setting goals and stretching our dollar.

Jason and I were motivated by the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover book just after we married and eliminated all non-mortgage debt. We downsized to one car and have been living well on these principals ever since.

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However, we did get off track from our long term goal of eliminating mortgage debt and that is what the 2012 focus will be. The smaller mortgage is my first goal and I’ve already thrown my first “extra to principal” at it. Woot!

It’s going to be tough this time because we have four kids sharing our love for weekend trips, movies and dining out. I’m just going to have to be creative with saving money and still keeping the fun.

Goodbye, 2011. It was fun!

It was a fantastic year filled with:

First year with Lotus,

new niece and nephew,

lots of hikes and weekend tent and cabin trips,

Couchsurfing guests,

Sewing and (LOTS of) knitting,

and best of all, our EPIC cross-country road trip.

It was a fantastic year, spent savoring the moments with our kids. Life is good!

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A two-post day

All of our Christmas photos were taken with Jason’s Grandpa Irwin’s camera. He let us try it out and it is a nice little camera! It’s a Nikon Coolpix P500, basically a really nice point and shoot, with HD video and better-than-average lens.

This is auto mode with no flash. I noticed all of the pics I snapped here overexposed the right side of Xander’s face. Ideally, I’d want to be able to leave the flash off most of the time and not worry about manual settings when using a point and shoot, but I’m sure after a little reading and learning the camera settings better this issue wouldn’t be an issue.

It would be nice to have a light-weight camera like this and not worry about the lens changes of my heavy SLR or the grainy crap our regular point and shoot puts out. This might be a 2012 purchase!

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Same camera…Jason and Xander wind the yarn for a surprise project for a certain friend of mine. A certain friend who has shared so much of her wonderful pottery with us. I hope she likes blue!

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Christmas 2011 brings a new twist

After several Christmases with rough, sleepless nights, early wake-ups and an exhausted day, things went differently this year. This evening, right around 7:30 we all piled into the car to go to 7-11 and when we got home all the presents had been delivered!

Yay! We might as well open them now right?

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We bought a giant roll of two-sided wrapping paper from Costco in 2006 and have been almost exclusively using it since. After wrapping ALL of this year’s gifts we finally finished the roll. That is SEVEN Christmases on the same roll of paper. I confirmed this by looking back at Christmas tree photos on my blog back that far….yep, the same paper every year. Ha!

I hope Costco hasn’t gone cheapo with their wrapping paper because we’ll buy another for sure.

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Ah, the flurry of gift time…

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They each got “gaming (texting/podster/fingerless) mitts” hand-knit by mom.

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The loot, minus the sibling gifts that were under the downstairs tree waiting to be opened next.

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Jason got a fancy gaming keyboard. My gift wasn’t finished in time for Christmas but I’m super excited to get it when it is. It’s a custom, hand-made knitting needle organizer and matching knitting bag. It’s going to be gorgeous!

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It never seems like we get them that much stuff but then I see it all on the table like this. Crikey!

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Simon is our kid most effected (right now) by commercials. He had to have these Socker Boppers. I love how he really tried to lay into Jason. He’s still our little guy:)

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What a great Christmas! Now we can enjoy our night, sleep well, relax tomorrow while they play with their toys. I can leisurely make cookies for our dinner with friends. Change is good!