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Sunshine and Garden Dreams

It was 60 degrees yesterday and we met up at the park with my sister for lunch. I’m obsessed with this weather. Today, it has cooled off again and is cloudy. BUT, yesterday’s sunshine and warm weather left me feeling pretty uplifted.

Scott worked in the yard yesterday when he got home from work. The people who lived in this house before us had two really big dogs that tore up the yard and fence pretty badly. We rigged it to keep Rocci in, but a lot of spots need repaired. Scott worked on fixing the gate and cleaned up sticks/branches. He was measuring while we talked through and planned out our garden.

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Seed Savers Exchange

Almost 10 years of marriage later, and I still love dreaming with him.

Our house is on top of a hill, so finding a flat space in our yard for a garden is tricky. We have two areas that are flat, and both will see quite a bit of shade. Lucky for me, the man who owns the house next door was the horticulture teacher at our high school. I’m hoping to catch him one day and ask his opinion. It’s also super intimidating. What if I fail and everything dies? He will know that I’ve flunked life. (That was always his phrase when teaching.)

I really can’t wait to dig my hands in and get started. My chives from last year have already started growing again. I’ll have to bring them inside so they don’t freeze. We have a while more to wait before starting anything. the last frost of the year is still quite a ways out, and I don’t want everything to die. It gives us some time to figure out some fencing to keep the dog away from the garden.

I have a ton of wild flower seeds to plant, too.

I obviously can’t wait for spring. I’m so excited to fix up the yard and spend more time in the sunshine. I love watching everything come back to life after a long winter. It’s such an exciting time.

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On Mothering School Aged Kids

I have been thinking about this for a while. Where are all of the blogs for the moms with school aged kids? There are loads of baby and toddler blogs. There are loads of teenager blogs. Where are the elementary aged blogs at? Are we all just drowning and have no idea what we are doing? I don’t know what I’m doing. Give me two under two all day every day, and I can handle it. Give me three under 4.

Seven, Six, and Three? What am I doing? What year is it? Where am I?

I know that these ages are fun and exciting. I am so thankful that I had these girls so close together. They fight like cats and dogs, but they are also best friends. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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I love the independence that we are getting to enjoy. I can take the girls for a walk without chasing down all three of them. I still put Harper in a stroller most of the time because she is safer that way. People don’t slow down in this neighborhood.

Yesterday, I was telling the girls that we’d go for a walk when Scott got home from work. We had school outside because the weather was gorgeous. We ate lunch outside. We played outside. We were pretty much outdoors from 11 until dinner at 6.

We live within walking distance of a popcorn and candy shop. It’s fun to go in there and look around. It’s also complete chaos.

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We did let the girls pick out a lollipop or candy stick because life is too short to not get a cheap piece of candy during a spending freeze!

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stroller // snack tray

Chloe picked the bubble gum flavor. Addi picked the bacon flavored candy stick, and I really wanted to sneak a taste. ha! I got a picture of Harper without her knowing, and she yelled “MOMMY, YOU DIDN’T TAKE A PICTURE ME!” So, I had to stop and get this adorable gem.

This age is delightful. In the middle of the huge waves that knock me down, there is a lot of joy. This age is hard, too. But, if we focus on that, we are going to miss out on so much.

We took Addi to finally spend her birthday money and she picked out this cool hat (pictured above) and a notebook. Seeing her so thoughtfully add up the cost to see if her $4 would cover what she wanted was so fun. I’m also thankful that she picked something nice, and not junk that would end up in the garbage. I love seeing them learn and grow.

We couldn’t do simple things like this a few years ago without a lot more chaos and frustration. It’s so much nicer at this age to be able to just go whenever the weather is nice without much extra thought. Although, I know I’m crazy, I do miss packing a diaper bag for a baby and toddler.

I want to encourage you to look for the good. Every season of motherhood brings hard things with it. There are days (sometimes weeks and months) when you feel like there is such thick fog you may never get through it. Try to find 10 things today that you can be thankful for. It will help shift your mindset so much when you are looking for the GOOD instead of focusing on the hard.

Happy Tuesday, friends!! Don’t forget to go enter the giveaway for a pair of earrings!

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My Little Bend Giveaway

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Hey, hey! I have something super fun for your Monday! I have partnered up with my sister for a giveaway.

Amy writes over at My Little Bend and also has an etsy shop by the same name. She makes really fun leather earrings! Seriously, go check out her shop! Footballs and hearts? Come on!

Hear earrings are SO lightweight. Listen, I don’t wear dangly earrings. I wear tiny little studs because I can’t stand things weighing down my ears. I hate the feeling of something tugging on my earlobe. I used to feel like having my ears pierced was a waste. But, no more! I don’t notice these earrings. They are weightless.

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Sorry about that glasses glare. Goodness. These are the first pair that I got from her. This yellow is so versatile that it feels neutral.

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And these.. These are in the first picture of this post. They are M-I-N-E and I won’t share. haha!! These are the most neutral and fun, funky earrings. I love the petal shape. I love the color. I love them. I love them. I love them.

One of you will win a pair of your choice from the following:

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HA! I wanted to model the other earrings, but then I’d feel super weird giving you a prize that was in my ears. So, flat lay images it is. Seeing these earrings laying flat does not do them justice. They are stunning.

Enter through rafflecopter!! I will be double and triple checking to make sure that you followed the rules!!

 

Enter Giveaway Here

 

Good Luck!!!

ANOTHERSIGNATURE

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Go-To Meals for Dinner

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We all have those meals that are our go-tos. We know that our families love them. Who am I kidding, kids are never happy with the food they are made. I’ll put an asterisk by the meals my kids actually do like. We know they are delicious and easy.

Sometimes those go-to meals get stale though. We’ve used them 15 times in a month and need something new. So, I thought I’d share mine in case you are in a rut.

 

*Korean Beef

Quinoa Chili

Sloppy Joes

Chicken Divan  (I make a HUGE batch of this and eat the leftovers until I die.)

Meatloaf Muffins

*Balsalmic Glazed Meatballs

*Tacos – I make this seasoning mix.

*Spaghetti with meatless sauce (My mom taught me how to make sauce YEARS ago.)

*Brown Sugar & Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin

Baked Southwest Style Egg Rolls

*Grilled Burgers and hot dogs in the summer

*Breakfast for dinner

 

PLEASE tell me what your go-to meals are in the comments. I’m always on the hunt for good recipes. I’m also pretty good at substituting for things we can’t have, do don’t worry about allergies!

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7 Quick Takes

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1. Oh, the irony. I shared our cold care items yesterday, including what we use when the girls have colds. They were just fine.. and then… Addi started running a fever last night. I am praying that it’s just a random virus, and not the flu. I’m not taking her to get tested unless she seems like she needs to be seen. Right now she just has a fever and is sleepy.

2. This cast iron skillet is down to around $20 from $100 and has really great reviews. I have been wanting a cast iron skillet for quite some time now.

3. I’ve got another batch of elderberry syrup going since we’ve almost used up the last batch. I bought these elderberries and use this recipe. The shortage on elderberries this year has caused the price to increase a ton. I only paid $20 for my bag! Yikes!

4. I can’t wait for Spring. I am ready to play outside and start working on my garden. My seeds are on their way to me. I keep staring out the window and brainstorming. I have a ton of wildflower seeds that I can plant. I just really love the new life that comes with Spring.

5. Stasher bags  I have tried several brands of reusable storage bags. I hate how much waste we produce using baggies– especially if you pack a lunch every day. I like cut carrots into carrot sticks all at once and store them in the fridge in a baggie. These stasher bags can be put in the dishwasher, freezer, and OVEN. What on earth?! I also have these and these. I like them just fine and still recommend them as an affordable option. The Stasher brand quality is so much better and easier to use. If you care about that sort of thing, check them out!

6. I asked what homeschooling planner most moms like to use in one of the homeschool groups I’m a part of. Someone suggested this one. I really like it. Compared to the other suggestions, the price is great. Other suggestions were this and this, if you are curious as well.

7. I saved up gift cards to buy this Bible. It arrives today and I can’t wait to get it out and look at it. I’ve been wanting a study Bible for me, a woman. Not me, a wife. Not me, a mom. Just me. That may sound selfish, but I’ve realized that I can only give so much of me to my titles. I need to take care of me, too. I’ll let you know what I think!

 

Happy Friday Eve!

ANOTHERSIGNATURE

Uncategorized

Homeopathic Cold Care

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Scott and I have been down with colds.. really it feels more like a sinus infection. Whatever it is, it’s not fun. I am super grateful that we haven’t had the flu or strep throat. I thought I would share what we are using to help us feel better, along with some of the things that we will use if the girls catch it.

For us

1. Wedderspoon Manuka Honey Drops- I have found these to be the best cough drop. They aren’t medicinal tasting, which is really nice. They are made from honey, and each flavor has additional ingredients that are always great when you are sick. (ginger, eucalyptus, or lemon)  I know the price is high for these compared to brands like Halls, but you aren’t having to pop one after another, so I feel like it evens out.

2. SinuCare– This is really great for when you are majorly stuffed up. Fair warning, you will taste this throughout the day. It’s strong, but super effective!

3. Sovereign Silver- Some people use this as a natural antibiotic. I’m a new user, so I can’t speak on how effective it is in that regard. You can take a teaspoon per day to help boost immunity. Mine is a size that didn’t come with a dropper, so I bought a dropper bottle from Amazon. I put several drops under my tongue and hold it there for 30 seconds, then swallow. It doesn’t have any taste, so you don’t have to worry about that.

4. Zarbees Chest Rub– I rub this on my chest and feet every night. It works so well, and is way better than a petroleum based alternative. The lavender is nice for bedtime as well.

5. All of the oils– We use a roller of 20 drops of thieves and 10 drops of oregano topped off with a carrier oil each day. This helps boost our immune systems. We also diffuse thieves daily. RC is my favorite to diffuse at night because it really helps with a cough. You can also use it as a chest rub. Rosemary and Eucalyptus are also really great for helping support your respiratory system.

6. Zarbees cough syrup– I like Zarbees because its a more affordable natural brand. They also have a night time version if you need a little help getting to sleep.

7. Kombucha- Probiotics are so important. This bubbly probiotic drink is such a good way to get good probiotics. A lot of our overall health stems from the health of our gut. A daily probiotic is also SO important.

For the kids

1. Bioron Chestal honey cough syrup  This comes in a glass bottle, which I think is pretty awesome. I’m not a fan of plastic.

2. Bioron ColdCam   These are teeny tiny tablets that your children chew up like candy. They’ll think they are getting a treat.

3. Balm! Baby Chest Rub This stuff is amazing.  It’s the first chest rub I bought that wasn’t Vicks. I realized that I had been missing out for a long time. It is way more effective, and I love that they have a stick version now! Game changer when you are wrestling a baby or toddler with goop on your hands. Now you can rub it on like chapstick.

I am not a big fan of traditional medicine if it’s not necessary. Reading the side effects always used to make me scratch my head and wonder why it had to be that way. I started reading more about natural remedies, and have found that the natural and homeopathic ways of treating illnesses work so much better. I think most people are afraid to try it. Obviously, do your research and do what you feel comfortable with. If you are like me, and prefer homeopathic medicine, then I hope this list helps you out!

Are there any products that I am missing out on?

recipes, Uncategorized

Braided Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bread (Dairy Free)

Braided Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Bread

1 Cup warm almond milk (or any dairy alternative)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one packet)
3 large eggs (You can use flax eggs if you want to make this vegan)
1/2 cup softened Earth Balance spread (This)
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 cup Enjoy Life chips

1. Combine warm milk, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add yeast and let sit until frothy (approx. 5 minutes). You want your milk around 105-110 degrees so that it proofs well.
2. Add in the softened butter and 2 of the eggs and mix. Note: one egg will be saved to be brushed on the top before baking.
3. Gradually add in the flour 1 cup at a time. Add the last half cup and knead in the bowl until it’s incorporated. Turn dough out on a floured surface and kneed for 7 minutes.
4. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it. Let it rise in a warm place for one hour, or until doubled. (If you need to create a warm, draft free place, turn your oven one for one minute. Turn it off, and pace your covered dough inside.)
5. Split the dough into two balls. Kneed 1/2 cup of chips into each ball. Split each dough ball into three pieces and roll each into 12 inch long “snakes”. Braid three snakes together for each loaf. Make sure to pinch the ends and tuck them under to be sure it doesn’t come apart while baking.
Something I should have done differently is to make a looser braid so that the dough had room to expand while it was cooking.
6. Beat the remaining egg and brush the top of each loaf.
7. Cover the loafs and let rise for 30 minutes.
8. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees

 

I love these baking mats. NOTHING sticks to them!! If you bake a lot, I cannot recommend them enough.

Let me know what you think if you try it!

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family life, home, Ramblings, Uncategorized

My Big, Scary Dream

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While reading Girl Wash Your Face, Rachel challenged everyone to stop reading and write down a big, scary dream. I paused and started thinking. I felt like I should write down what a typical big dream would be. Should I want my blog to make me a six figure income? Should I want to become insta-famous? I know. I want to own a huge house and perfect cars. Those are all normal dreams for people my age, right?

Obviously, I would love for this blog to make an income. But, I don’t care about a six figure income.. I just want to contribute to my family while homeschooling. So, I started thinking about what my dream really is.

Then, it smacked me in the face.

I want to own a homestead. Not your typical dream life in 2018, but it is mine. It’s been mine for a while.

This is something that I’ve been studying about for quite some time. I have read books and pinned all of the pins on pinterest. I have subscribed to Youtube channels. I’ve been soaking in all of the knowledge that I can in my “free” time.

Will this big dream come true? I don’t know. Scott and I are on the same page that we would love to make it happen one day down the road. We would both love for our girls to grow up knowing the value of hard work. We’d love to go pick food for our dinner. Our real dream with a homestead is to be able to live a sustainable life where we don’t rely on a store nearly as much. We would know how our food is grown.

My parents owned 30 acres of land in Illinois for several years. When we first visited after they bought it, I thought “what on earth where they thinking?” Everything was so overgrown. The grass and weeds were up to my knees everywhere we went. But, I watched as it slowly became a beautiful piece of land. Just mowing the grass instantly transformed it. It was so beautiful that Scott and I ended up getting married there. It was peaceful out there. My mom and dad worked their rear ends off every weekend. It was really incredible to witness this overgrown place get transformed into a beautiful retreat. My mom had a garden. I loved it. Maybe that is where the little seed of my dream was planted.

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The definition of a homestead in the community is always different. Some say that you are only a homesteader if you live on land that you farm and are completely self sufficient. Others say that as long as you are making an EFFORT to be sustainable and live off of what you can grow or make, then you are a homemaker. I don’t know which is right.

What I do know is that we are going to plant a garden this year. We have a good sized yard, and are going to plant herbs, fruits, and vegetables that we frequently use. When I did container gardening last year, it was pretty successful. The herbs grew like crazy. I couldn’t use them fast enough, it seemed. Our plants moved with us from Oklahoma to Illinois. I think the move was a little hard on them, because they stopped growing as well. Maybe the shift in climate wasn’t good for them. Either way, I learned that my thumb is not completely black. I ordered some seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. This is why I chose them. There are more plants I hope to grow, so I’ll be checking out some of the other seed brands that Shaye Elliott recommended.

I am going to continue learning. I’m going to work with what I have, and “homestead” the best I can in suburbia.

I’ll continue making fresh bread from scratch. I’ll continue working on perfecting my sewing.. or at least making it acceptable. HAHA! I learned to crochet a few years ago and have been working on an infinity scarf. I want to learn the crafts that were just common knowledge in the past. Hopefully our garden will grow.

Our lives are so up the air. We are unsettled. We know that where we are is not where we will stay. Ministry has absolutely not been pulled off the table. This dream could be something silly on my heart that will never come to fruition. But, it is a dream that could easily go hand-in-hand with ministry one day.

Thanks for letting me share this dream of mine. I think we don’t always allow ourselves to have dreams.. though this really feels like a GOAL of ours more than a dream.

 

I’ll share some resources below and try to remember to update this list as I find more.

Books:

The Elliott Homestead   (this is my favorite book so far. She had a dream like me, and it has come true.)

The Backyard Homestead

The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner

 

Youtube Channels and Videos:

The Elliott Homestead Youtube channel

WildRoots Homestead Youtube Channel   (They have a vegan homestead!)

Time-lapse of building a homestead!   Super cool!

 

 

family life, homeschool, kids, Uncategorized

Why We Homeschool

One of the first questions that I get when people find out that we homeschool is “WHY?!” That is, after they say “I would never have the patience to do that.” (Spoiler alert: I AM NOT PATIENT.) I figured that a lot of people are curious about this, so I’ll just write it out here. I also know that many people think about homeschooling, so maybe this post will be helpful when it comes to listing the “pros” for choosing to homeschool.

1. Different learning styles– No two children learn exactly the same. My two oldest children learn in completely different ways. I am able to work with each child individually, and help them learn in a way that they understand. It really stretches me, as I learn a certain way and sometimes have to switch up how I teach. Learning isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. Some kids also aren’t ready to start school super early in the morning, so we are able to get a later start and have more clear minds and better focus. I can allow my child to fidget in their seat (or stand), as long as the work is getting done, without disturbing other classmates.

2. Customizable education- One of my children struggles with phonics. I actually decided to pull back and have her start with a grade below for her phonics class so that she wasn’t getting drug along. If she were held back in an entire grade, she would be bored to tears because she excels at all of the other subjects. If we don’t like a certain subject in the curriculum we have chosen, we can pick something else that works better for us. Being able to mix and match for your children’s needs is a huge help, and probably one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling. They could also be bumped up a grade in a certain subject without being overwhelmed in others.

3. Freedom- We are not bound to a strict schedule. We don’t take snow days off. We can take warm weather days off and enjoy a “sun” day. We can travel at a different time of year than just June/July when most people are traveling. We can take school work with us when we travel if it is needed. Sickness happens. Sometimes, sickness knocks you down for a week or more. Our kids aren’t left behind in the dust; we are able to pause and pick back up when everyone is back to feeling great. Thankfully this year, we have only had one instance of sickness that made us take time off from school. When we lived in Oklahoma, there was constant major sickness that would have caused the kids to be in trouble with the school for missing so much.

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4. Our values are reinforced- We get to decide when and how our kids learn about sex, drugs, etc. I just heard a statistic that made me sick. The AVERAGE age that kids start sexting is TEN. What. on. earth. TEN! Kids have found crazy ways of getting high that they think are perfectly harmless. I don’t want my kids robbed of their innocence. I’m not going to bury their heads in the sand and hope that they never ever learn about these things. That is stupid. But, I want them to learn about sex from us. I don’t want them learning from the peers who heard about it from their big brother/sister. I want them to learn about it all in a healthy way. (For the record, teaching that sex is evil is also NOT healthy..) Girls are developing eating disorders as early as 9. Suicides are happening at an absurdly young age. How do these kids even know what this is? How do they know how to go through with it? I don’t understand.

5. Life skills are taught- There are only so many hours in a day in schools. Classrooms are overcrowded, and teachers have a LOT on their plate. Test scores have to be high for schools to receive “enough” funding. (I use enough loosely, because no school receives enough funding.) Kids are coming out of school knowing how to take a test, but lacking any real life skills. How many of you learned to do your taxes, grow a garden, or write a check? A lot of kids don’t even know how to do their own laundry when they graduate. With homeschooling, I am able to teach the typical educational classes along with really important life skills that will help them be a successful adult. Test taking doesn’t help you with a darn thing.

6. Time- Our school day is shorter than the traditional school day. We don’t have to line up single file and spend 15 minutes each time on bathroom breaks. We are able to work through the material at our pace, not getting bored of a concept that is understood or rushing through one that is not. My kids get enough time to eat their entire lunch. There is just a lot more time for everything that is important.

7. Socialization- Wait? Did I just write that a BENEFIT of homeschooling is socialization? But, my kids don’t know how. Aren’t homeschoolers freaks that don’t know how to socialize? Let me just say that I went to public school my whole life, and I am super socially awkward.. so that clearly is a silly argument. HA! My kids socialize with EVERYONE! They aren’t afraid to say hello to a grown up in the grocery store. They know how to play with and encourage kids younger than themselves. They make friends everywhere they go. The neighborhood kids are always ringing the doorbell wanting to play. When we go to the park, they are instantly friends with whomever is there. If the park is empty, they are disappointed that they don’t have friends to play with. The biggest misconception about homeschooling is that kids won’t know how to socialize. Homeschooled kids know how to socialize with everyone; they just aren’t forced to associate with certain people.

 

These are just some of the biggest reasons why we chose to homeschool. I know that I will receive a lot of criticism– why, I will never understand. I will never understand why people act like my decision affects their lives.

Homeschooling is not easy. It takes up a lot of MY time, as I am planning for each day and putting things together for the lessons. It is frustrating when you feel like you have explained a concept every way possible, and your child is still not grasping it. Have you ever TAUGHT  child to read? My goodness. It’s hard. This is my fourth year of homeschooling. There are days I want to quit. But, then I ask myself why I started this in the first place. Homeschooling wins in my mind. Hands down. It is something that I have spent a lot of time praying about; since my babies were born. It is not something that I just dove into head first without really looking at the options and thinking it through

If you homeschool, why did you choose to do so? What are the biggest misconceptions that you have found people to have about homeschooling? Or, if you don’t homeschool, what are some misconceptions that you have about homeschooled kids? What comes to your mind first when someone says their kids are homeschooled?

 

**I also want to say that there are so many curriculums that offer videos. Your child can get a private school education from the comfort of your own home. Many curriculum choices have an accredited option, so college is much easier. There are SO many misconceptions about homeschooling that cause many people to not go through with it, even though it is their desire.**

 

I feel like I also have to say that this is also not meant to be an attack on public schools. I have so many friends that are phenomenal teachers and I have so much respect for them. They do an amazing job. Schools ARE underfunded and programs are getting cut constantly. That is NOT the teachers’ fault. They do the best they can with what they have, and are spending a lot of money out of their own pockets to make sure they can give their students a great education. So, please, if you are a teacher, know that I love and respect you a ton.

Uncategorized

Spending Freeze- Week 2

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Scott brought me a cherry coke. I don’t feel one ounce of regret for that. Sipping cherry coke is something that settles my stomach when I feel nauseous. I think it was just a lot of stress, but last week I didn’t feel great. I was hardly eating and feeling blah. I was so thankful when Scott walked in with a cherry coke one day.

Week two has been a little tricky, and we haven’t fully succeeded. I have a couple of gift cards from a rebate that I had set aside for this month. Over the weekend, we had a winter storm. Nothing major, but enough to keep us inside. I put the gift card on my amazon account, and we rented My Little Pony: The Movie. It ended up not charging the gift card. Womp. The girls were entertained and quiet for a couple of hours, which was SO welcomed. I did use the gift card to buy some batteries for our smoke detectors since one needs replaced. (Gift cards are totally allowed during a spending freeze as long as you don’t go above them.)

I also went to Kroger to pick up some freebies. (If you don’t have the Kroger app, you are missing out!) Evidently I didn’t pick the right things on all of them, so I had to pay a little bit. Again, nothing major, but still frustrating. I could have told them I didn’t want them, but it was all things that we would use. (A sports drink will be awesome if someone gets a stomach bug..or I start running again.) Plus, I’d feel like a jerk telling them I made a mistake, so they have to go put all of my junk back. My fault.

Last night was the bigger fail. The meat for dinner was completely frozen when I went to cook it for tacos. I don’t like microwaving ground turkey because it turns rubbery and NASTY, so I was trying to think of something that I could make easily. Fast food sounded really good to Scott. He hasn’t been feeling super awesome, so if something sounded good to him, I told him to go for it. It was kind of nice to have a treat and not have to clean up dishes after dinner. A loss for the freeze, but win for me. haha!

Week two wasn’t totally successful, but we have still saved so much more than we typically do. We’ve put more into savings. We have something there if an emergency comes up, which helps us breathe easier. So, I call that a win, even with the shortcomings. The nice thing is, there are no spending police that are going to come out and smack or knuckles with a ruler if we make a mistake. But, it has made us so much more mindful.

We are halfway there. Let’s see if we can be more successful in week three!

ANOTHERSIGNATURE