My Oldest

He's growing up so fast. I love how he is so thoughtful and helpful. And it's nice to have such a great four year old helper. He's eager to please and loves to work. He has a great imagination and he's always leading his brother on all kinds of adventures.

It's so funny, I can't even imagine what he'll be like when he is 8 or 12. The oldest, we've noticed, is the one you always think is so big, until their sibling reaches their age and you realize that they were actually very little and you just didn't see it. I don't want to take this preschool age for granted. He's precious.

Christmas Pictures 2007

Here are a few pictures from our Christmas holiday. We had a wonderful Christmas and the boys really had fun this year!

Here we are on Christmas Eve at the inlaws.

Before the opening of presents at our house on Christmas morning...

Isabella got to open her gifts first- here she is on her adorable rocking butterfly from her grandparents.

Here is Noah opening one of the only things he asked for this year- a Bible of his own.

Elijah opening presents. He waited very patiently for his turn. He's third in line now! :) And this was his fifth Christmas! It's unbelievable how time flies!

The boys looking at their train table they got from their Granna.

And surprise! they even got bikes from their Papaw.

They got so many gifts that we had to put up some of their presents for later! I was very excited to get a new camera for Christmas too- we have so many pictures already. I can't wait to post some of my favorites! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Since my husband is off until next week, it is likely that posting will still be sporadic- I hope to get back to a more normal posting schedule next week! :)

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a very lovely day!

Freebie of the Day- 8x10 at Walgreen's Today Only

I've already ordered mine! Free pictures are always good, and they make excellent gifts as well!


Walgreen's Photo Center is offering a Free 8 x 10 Photo Print on Fri, Dec 21. Use code VERYNICE at checkout. Pick-up in store or have shipped (shipping charges apply). Thanks jurassic.

Learn How It Works

Click Here to get started

  • Code must be entered at time of checkout to apply discount.
  • Does not apply toward taxes or shipping charges.
  • Offer valid online only.
  • Order must be placed by logged-in customer by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on December 21, 2007 to qualify.
  • Timing will be determined by Walgreens server clock.
  • Only one 8x10 print is permitted for in-store pickup per customer.

Frugal Confession- We Walked Out of a Restaurant

Today's frugal confession: we walked out of a restaurant after being seated.

Freebie of the Day-Lamination Pouches & Binding Covers

Get a free sample of laminating pouches and binding kits from GBC here. If you don't have a company or title, just type "none."

Two Things Meme

I got this from a friend so I thought I'd post it for fun:


Two Names You Go By

1. Mandy
2. Red

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now:

1. green t-shirt
2. nike wind shorts I inherited from my little brother when he outgrew them over 10 years ago

Two Things You Would Want (or have) in a Relationship:

1. honesty
2. common interests

Two of Your Favorite Things to do:

1. Research
2. fit in my skinny jeans :)

Two Things You Want Very Badly At The Moment:

1. a full time maid and cook! :P
2. a hot bath

Things you did Last Night:

1. Finished up Christmas shopping
2. ate McAlister’s with my family

Two things you ate today:

1. Baked Chicken
2. Red Potatoes

Two people you Last Talked To On The Phone:

1. My hubby
2. my brother

Two Things you're doing tomorrow:

1. Gift delivering
2. exercising

Two longest car rides:

1. North Texas to Colorado
2. North Texas to Amarillo, TX

Two Favorite Holidays

1. Christmas
2. Christmas Eve

Two Favorite (non-alcoholic) Beverages:

1. Dr. Pepper
2. Mocha Frappucino

Two Things About Me you may not have known:

1. My hands are the exact size of my mother’s and my maternal grandmother's hands
2. I really enjoy pregnancy and labor/delivery/newborns

Two other jobs I have had in my life:

1. Bank Teller
2. Waitress

Two of my Favorite Foods:

1. Freebird’s chicken burrito bowl
2. Chicken tortilla soup

Two places I'd rather be right now:

1. Manhattan
2. Colorado

It's One of Those Days...

Today is one of those days where everything feels like too much! :)

The baby is not herself today- I think she has gotten whatever has been going around here with the sore throat and stomach cramps. She was fine this morning, but when she was awake after her nap this afternoon she became very fussy and inconsolable. She wouldn't take the pacifier or even stop crying when I bounced and rocked her. I gave her Tylenol finally and swaddled her and she finally stopped crying to fall asleep and is still sleeping in my lap right now.

While she was trying to nap earlier we had a huge bathroom incident where my 4 year old didn't quite make it in time to the bathroom. I had to clean that up right before my lunch was ready... life as a mom is really tough on days like this. Cleaning up poop is not my thing.

And just as I sat down to eat lunch the 2 year old comes in crying because he fell outside and then the baby wakes up crying... and suddenly I am just very tired and praying for patience. I can't wait til 5:09 when my husband walks in the door. I think tomorrow will be a better day.

Freebie of the Day- Garnier Fructis 2 in 1 Shampoo

Get a free sample of Garnier Fructis 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner here. I use the non-2-in-1 Garnier Fructis and it works well with curly hair!

Walgreen's Coupon Today Only

Get a $5 off $20 coupon good today only (Dec. 18th, 2007) at Walgreen's. If nothing else, it's 25% off diapers and milk!

The Party's Over....

Tonight we threw a little dinner for a few of my husband's coworkers. We are just now sitting down after putting the kids to bed. Since we didn't throw big birthday parties for the kids this year, I think I forgot how much work goes into hosting get-togethers! :) I love doing it though!

Tonight we had Taco Soup, cornbread, chips and dips and desserts. Everyone brought something too- yummy desserts and mandarin orange salad. I had a recipe for Taco Soup that we tried out last week and it was good again in a larger quantity. I will have to post the recipe- I got it from a friend who made it for us, and it makes really good, flavorful soup. The dinner went over well I think, and what's even more rare- since the food was already made when everyone got here I felt like I got to enjoy our company more than usual! I am usually so busy fixing food that I don't get to visit much. It was so much nicer to enjoy the evening.

We had to buy a foldable table which was an unexpected cost, but I think it will be a good thing- we have our family come over on holidays for dinner and occasional birthday parties. I am glad we went ahead and bought it before Christmas dinner. It has a lifetime guarantee, so maybe we will still have it when the grandkids all come over in 25 years!

Now I am off to soak in a hot bath and get to bed. Clean up will wait 'til tomorrow! :)

Freecycle Finds

A couple of weeks ago, I got this for free on freecycle! It's a Pentax 35mm SLR and two lenses, a leather bag, light meter, flash and filters. I was very excited to get this! We might eBay the camera and accessories and keep the bag and light meter, I am not sure. The camera goes for $25-50 on eBay. Very fun! I love freecycle!

Freebie of the Day- California Raisins 2008 Calendar

Get a free 2008 calendar from California Raisins with recipes included! While supplies last! :)

Check out more frugal tips at Crystal's blog!

Freebie of the Day- Send a Postcard to Our Troops

Pick a postcard and Xerox will print it out and send it to the troops overseas for you! Very neat way to support those serving and protecting our country!

Portraits- Will More Expensive Mean Better?

We went and got our annual portraits done yesterday. Portraits are something I feel enormously guilty about purchasing for some reason. I hate spending money on them. We only get them once per year, and in the past we had them taken at Walmart. I think part of the reason I hate paying for them is that they were so poorly done there. I have so much trouble just trying to get the person to center my children in the picture. I think they train them to get the baby's attention and push the button- it doesn't matter where they are in the frame!

That's why I get very upset every year when I pay $30 for my off-centered pictures. I dread the whole thing. This year, I decided to get them done at JcPenney rather than Walmart- I was hoping they would be that much better- and I had a coupon which would make it only slightly more expensive than Walmart's bargain package and few extra sheets we normally buy.

When we got there yesterday, the lady called us in front of an earlier appointment and we rushed in there for less than 10 minutes and we were done. I am afraid to get the portraits back. I felt bad asking the lady to retake the pictures again and again but I can tell on the monitor that I don't like them. I got my three small children all dressed up and clean and bought special clothes and I am paying a lot for these pictures- shouldn't I at least get one pose I like?

I ended up getting a portrait club membership because it was the same price as the sitting fee. It supposedly saves you a sitting fee on everyone for two years, which would make getting future portraits much cheaper.

The problem is, I think I just spent $47 on pictures that I am going to hate- and that is very scary to me. I just really hope the portraits turn out better than they looked on the monitor. We are going to pick them up the Saturday before Christmas.

Next year, I am seriously considering saving up money to buy some used studio lighting equipment and taking the pictures myself. At least I know the photographer would spend more than 10 minutes on my children- and I wouldn't have to worry about their clothes getting ruined on the trip there! ;)

Frugal Confession- I Didn't Price Shop

This week's frugal confession- I didn't bother to price shop for my "bargain."

Freebie of the Day- Old El Paso Seasoning and Recipe Booklet

Sign up for the Dinner Made Easy newsletter and receive a free packet of Old El Paso Hot and Spicy Seasoning and a recipe booklet.

Update and To-do List

We had a good weekend- it felt like it went by very quickly. With all the Christmas shopping and getting ready for parties and decorating we are actually pretty busy! :)

Saturday we got painting supplies and my husband got the boy's room ready to repaint. Sunday afternoon he and the boys painted while Isabella and I went shopping at the mall. We picked up a few Christmas gifts there and then we met my husband in town to join our small group at our favorite restaurant.

Sunday night we got to hear one of the neatest presentations on the Star of Bethelehem. It was presented by Rick Larson, a professor at Texas A&M. He presented evidence of the Star of Bethlehem that announced the coming of Jesus, as well as some really awesome proof of other Scriptures that are found in the sky. I can't wait to see the video they made. Here is his website:

Yesterday I took care of some important insurance problems. It seems like insurance is getting worse and worse every year about turning down every claim you have. I have spent several hours on the phone with them since Isabella's birth trying to get each problem resolved. I am so thankful to have insurance though- I would much rather spend hours on the phone than have no phone calls to make, just a big bill to pay. Dave Ramsey always says that the number one reason for bankruptcy is not credit cards- it's medical bills.

Last night we went to pick up a gift for this evening's event. I had picked something out last week but I changed my mind, so we had to make a quick trip to a couple of stores to find just the right gift. It's a surprise party, which should be fun!

Tomorrow I am taking the kids to get their annual Christmas portraits done, Friday night I have a bridal shower to attend and Saturday night we are hosting a casual Christmas party for my husband's co-workers.

To get all of this done I need to:
Get the boy's clothes together for tomorrow
Make a grocery list
Finish the boys room decorations
Go grocery shopping
Paint the front door (we've had the paint for 1 1/2 years but never did it!)
Make a dessert for bridal shower
Return two items to different stores
Mop the floor

Add in exercising, cleaning, and life's regular duties with three small children and I am in for one very busy week! ;)

Freebie of the Day- CVS brand Tissues

Get a free box of CVS brand Facial tissues! Coupon expires 12-16-07.

CVS Deals 12/3/07

We really needed diapers and paper towels this week, so I was excited to get all of this for $4 ECB's and .15. I traded $26.99 in ECB's for $23 in ECB's.

Tide Naturals
5 Bags Cough Drops
2 Oasis Dry Mouth Sprays
2 Incredifull Covergirl Lipsticks
8 pack Bounty paper towels

Freebie of the Day- 6 oz. Bag Purina Cat Chow Naturals

Get a free 6 ounce bag of Naturals by Purina Cat Chow.

Freebie of the Day- Lipton Iced Tea to Go

Get a free sample of Lipton's Iced Tea to Go. We've bought these for my husband before to replace soft drinks, and he really liked it! Just click on the green tab "Get Sample" on the bottom right of the image.

I am a Bag Lady

My not-so-frugal confession this week: I am a Bag Lady. Stop by and leave your frugal or not-so-frugal confession in the comments or post about it on your blog and leave a link. I'd love to hear from you!

Freebie of the Day- "You Are Special" Audiobook by Max Lucado

Get a free download of "You Are Special" by Max Lucado from Chick-fil-a and Crossway.

Life without Rotel and Velveeta

Okay, I didn't write a works for me Wednesday because of today's theme, "what do you fix when you don't have a plan and you've only got three things in your pantry." I didn't write anything, because either we go out to eat (which happens far too often!) or I throw together baked potatoes with rotel, reduced fat velveeta and sour cream. My husband and I both really love Rotel dip, but I am afraid to even look at Velveeta's ingredient list.

That's why I laughed when I read what Shannon, the Works for Me Wednesday hostess, posted today:

I Am Trying To Imagine the Horror of Life Without Rotel

Several of you asked, in the comments section below, what Rotel is.

And I wept for you.

(For those of you who disdain the Velveeta, I don't EVEN want to hear it. Velveeta haters baffle me. That is some fine stuff.).

I feel a little bit better. I am not alone in my love for very quick and easy meals based on Rotel and Velveeta. I still can't bring myself to read the ingredients though. ;)

Freebie of the Day- Reusable Plastic Shopping Bag

Get a free reusable plastic shopping bag and a coupon for $1 off from Rice Select. I love the idea of not having to throw away plastic bags. (Although I did find a tutorial on fusing plastic bags!)

Some of my Old Favorites

I was looking for a specific picture on our server the other day and found these pictures I took in 2004. I just love taking pictures- it's so much fun to try to capture the beautiful things God made for us. The bright colors, the arrangement of the petals- God is so amazing! He has defined beauty itself.
Looking at these old pictures makes me want to go outside and take more- I guess it's been a while since I took any outdoor pictures.

Spice Up Your Chicken

I love chicken breast. A few years ago I saw and smelled a chicken truck on the way to Tyson and I almost stopped eating chicken altogether. Luckily I got over that problem by refusing to eat bone-in chicken. Now I am slowly dealing with my aversion to bone-in meats, but I still only buy chicken breast fillets.

Neurotic meat-eating history aside, I do love my chicken these days, especially when I season it with my all-time favorite chicken rub- Durkee's Grill Creations St. Louis Chicken and Rib Rub. It takes regular chicken and makes it into the best chicken you've ever tasted. You can let it marinade in it, but I usually just rub it on just before I cook.

It tastes great on the grill, in the oven, and even in the pressure cooker. I love this stuff! It doesn't have a distinct taste like Mexican or Cajun and it can go with pretty much any type of food you serve. Wal-Mart sells a small container for about $3 and it will last a few months at our house. If you serve chicken, especially alone, you should definitely try this seasoning!

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy's Recipes!

Freebie of the Day- Opti-free Replenish Contact Lens Solution

Get your free sample of Opti-free Replenish Contact Lens Solution here. This would be perfect to keep in your purse and refill it for daily use or to keep in a travel pack.

Window Shopping in a Grocery Store

We went to Central Market this weekend. I love to go there and just look! I have never seen so many varieties of the same foods. They sell mostly organic foods and all-natural products. It was so much fun to browse the store. It is laid out more like a market place rather than a traditional grocery store with soft lighting, twisting paths and colorful arrangements of items, and they have a large portion of the store dedicated to fresh products like flowers, fruits and vegetables, and meats of every kind.

In the seafood section, we pointed out each variety to the boys. We got to octopus salad and the meat man jokingly asked if the boys would like to try it. Of course, he expected the boys to say no, but they said yes! The man asked if they really wanted some, and they did, so he handed me a sample. I gave them a good bite of octopus and Elijah ate it- and liked it! Noah took a bite but didn't finish it. I can just imagine us saying to Elijah at dinnertime now- "If you can eat octopus, you can eat your vegetables!"

We did pick up a couple of things there- a quart of Promised Land Chocolate milk (it's like drinking ice cream!) for my husband, and a quart of Mrs. Meyers natural aromatherapeutic cleaner in Lavender. It smells really great, and it's non-toxic.

I wish that we had a Central Market in our town- it's really a relaxing place to grocery shop, and their prices were actually very comparable to a traditional store. Maybe it's a good thing- the more pleasant the store, the more likely I would be to linger and buy! ;)

Black Friday 2007 CVS Deals

I can honestly say, until this year I had never shopped a Black Friday sale at a drugstore! I went at 11:30 on Wednesday night to get all the goods so I could check out at midnight, when the sale began. I really overestimated the crowd though- I was the ONLY person in CVS! :) The manager on duty thought I was crazy when I asked for their Black Friday ad. She had no idea of any sale beginning on Thanksgiving Day. She went to find their store copy of the ad and let me look through it. I already had my list and coupons ready. I got every single free deal in the ad! I guess being a night owl finally paid off! ;)

I made $18 and got all of this for free! It was very exciting! I even drank the free green tea energy drink before our 5k run 8 hours later!

Check out more fabulous finds over at MoneySavingMom!