About Me

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Nebraska, United States
A would-be stay at home mom working full-time as a teacher. I teach at my old Highschool, working side-by-side with my own teachers. I blog to keep the Texan grandparents updated and chronicle our life for future reference. (In other words, I don't have a real baby-book or diary.) Comments make my day. Thanks for stopping by! kimlepper at gmail.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm One of THOSE People Now

This past Christmas, while at the In-Laws in Texas- I saw a show called "Extreme Couponing." From what I can tell, it's quite popular, as anyone who I mention my new hobby to, they refer to this same show.

After watching this show, I was quite enthralled- if they can save hundreds, there's no reason I can't try this myself! Originally I didn't do the couponing thing for a few reasons:

1) Since I buy all of my cleaning/personal care items from Shaklee, I didn't really think there would be any good coupons for the stuff I buy

2) I really like getting fresh stuff- preferably organic- and there really aren't any coupons out there for that

3) Usually the off brand is cheaper anyway, but I really am picky about certain brands.

4) (and this was more of an excuse than anything) Samantha is on a dairy-free diet and Jeremy a low/no fiber diet. This makes for a very specialized grocery list- and specialized generally doesn't have an "off brand".

But then I realized- If I just watch for deals and coupons on the stuff we do buy, surely I'd be able to save us some money.

And my newest hobby was born.

A hobby that actually saves us money- by which I do not feel guilty for spending so much time on it (like knitting- oh, how I miss you).

I was very excited, decided to sign up for the Sunday paper and maybe do some dumpster diving when I take the recycling.

And then I talked to Julie. Julie informed me that her weekly grocery budget was half of what we have. My jaw was on the floor. We generally went over our weekly budget. How in the world could they survive on half of what we use?!

She opened my eyes to two new ways of thought:
1) Add/Coupon matching
2) Adjusting your grocery shopping to a stock-pile method, vs a weekly "needs" method

I, myself, do not do the match-ups. I've found a couple gals that do the work for me.
Long story short, we've cut our grocery/toiletries bill from $120+a week to $60-$80 a week.

That's roughly $200 a month! When you are living on rice and beans, that's a nice little chunk to add to your debt snowball.

Now, I spend around 3 hrs a week clipping coupons, checking blogs for deals and making a list/shopping plan. I originally made my own coupon binder that I carried in a plastic bag:


But was recently blessed with a much nicer (and less annoying) coupon binder for my birthday that I L.O.V.E

(Coupon Clutch on the left)

I'm still a novice and learning a great deal, and certainly have not made money off my endeavors yet, but I'm getting pretty darn close.

One of my "early" trips- don't remember the exact amount, but it was under $15 for all of this...pretty sure it was $10. Anyway, I was proud, so I took a picture.

Another proud moment- spent $5.78 at CVS

For those of you who think that using coupons really can't save you that much...

And my favorite endeavor thus far:


Yep- that reads FREE!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stepah




Sam's "step-ah" allows her access to all chairs, couches, counters and even the sink (when a chair is pushed in the right position)


Nothing is safe...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Toddler Activities-- aka Mommy Sanity

Recently (like during our 24 hr blizzards) I've tried really hard to do activities that
a) encourage independent play
b) involve little to no technology
c) are free

Here's what I've come up with:

Water play

I swear Sam was a fish in another life. When she had colic it was the only thing that guaranteed a few minutes of peace. She constantly asks to "wash hands" and loooooves taking a bath.


Items needed:
Towels
Heavy pot
Warm water
various spoons, cups and containers
constant supervision

This activity is something I like to do when I just need to sit (read SICK) or am cooking. She plays with this until we stop her- like when she's blue from the water being too cold.

Toy rotation

Needed:
Toys child has lost interest in
Boxes
Time

Ok, so this isn't a novel idea, but I've been meaning to do it for a while and it's worked out very well. Sam's shelf and toy basket are virtually empty as we speak. My new rule is, if she can't see/reach every single item at a quick glance, then there are too many items and they need to be stored away. So I boxed everything into 5 big boxes and every Wednesday we rotate new toys in. Today was the first day of a swap. It went something like this:

Sam: "Ahhhhh! Mommy! Ahhh--ooo, blocks."

Egg Carton Play

Needed:
Egg carton
crayons/spoons/clothes pins


Turn the egg carton upside down, stick the items listed though each "mound" and let the child go to town!
I got this idea from this book (now ordered as I didn't like sharing it with others at the library anymore).

Lid match-up

Needed:
Various items with a lid

I've been collecting anything with a screw top lid. I clean them out, let them dry, and when I feel I have enough I lay them out on the floor with the lids on their own pile.
Obviously, if your child still likes to put everything in their mouth, you might want to skip this activity.

Run

Needed:
Child with too much energy



I basically get Sam all excited to go run and touch something and come back. When she runs away and comes back I get all excited. By the third time her excitement pretty much carries itself and she continues until she's worn out. If you have a large area, encourage them to run around a large object (like a table). The circular pattern keeps them going, as they really don't know where the "end" is.

Edible Play dough

Needed:
Edible Play dough recipe with items you have on hand
Things to poke/play with dough

I made this around snack time one day. Sam got confused at first because I gave her a few forks to play with, but eventually got the idea when I showed her how she can make designs and roll it. I "caught" her tasting it a few times when my back was turned. She gave me the wide-eyed "I don't have anything in my mouth!" look. I couldn't help but laugh and told her she needed to play with it too.

Cereal Necklace

Needed:
string
cheerios


Ok, so this isn't really an activity per-say, but it does keep the child occupied for a while and is a very portable snack. Basically, string cheerios into a necklace, put it on the child and let them go to town! Sam specifically asked for "cereal neck" tonight when I asked her what she'd like for a snack.

Music

Needed:
Music

There is something to be said for the saying "Music soothes the savage beast". I can't tell you how many times Sam is being extra clingy and I realize we haven't listened to any music in a while. Even though she is telling me "NO!" while I'm putting it in, by the second song she is spinning, bouncing and playing. I highly recommend interactive music- stuff that tells you to do something like "clap" or "stomp" or "roll over".

What do you do to keep the little ones entertained?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Suey!

Here Sam Sam Sam Sam!

video

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chasing Confessions

So a few months ago I wanted to go to Confession. I looked up the times and planned on going on a Saturday before work.

Then I flat out forgot. Grrr.

So I tried again- was going to go at 5pm, meet a student at Church at 5:30 and take her to my place to tutor.

I arrived at Church to find out Confessions started at 5:30-- plus the student arrived at 5:15. ARG!

So then I planned for it again. Wednesday after work.

This time I remembered! I went out to the car- and it wouldn't start. I had to laugh. Seriously? Isn't a third time a charm? AAHHH!!

After adding "loss of patience" to the list, I finally did make it. It was a little anti-climatic in the end because of the priest being a little to "efficient" in my opinion, but worth it nonetheless.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fly on the Wall

Me: Oo! I need to take out the I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M for my birthday cake!

Sam (running to the kitchen ahead of me): Ice cream?! Ice cream! ICE CREAM!





Ruh Roh...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

1 O'Clock 2 O'Clock 3 O'Clock Rock...

Until recently Samantha has been a handful during the day. She would rarely play by herself and most of the day was of her following me around asking me to hold her and me telling her to go play.

Cue epiphany.

While in Ohio, Samantha had no problem playing for at least 20 minutes either by herself or with Audra. I realized a big difference between Jen's day and a typical day at our place- even though they might not go anywhere, they had a daily routine.

I know, I know. It took me almost 2 years to realize my child might thrive on a routine.

So I splurged, spent ten dollars at Hobby Lobby, and came up with this one night:



The first column has clocks that really serve no purpose other than to refer to a general part of the day.

The second are things that we will do (and in order that we will do them).

The third column is where we put the pieces of felt after we've completed an activity.

The final column has the day of the week, places we go and activities that she can choose to do.


A close up of places we go regularly during the week. Notice some are hand written- I've been adding as the days go on.

The first day went amazingly well. She caught on immediately and loved it! Whenever she'd get whiny and ask me to hold her I'd take her by the hand and say, "Let's go look at the schedule!" If it said "Play" we played. If it said "snack" we snacked. If it said "books" we read books.

Playing with daddy because the schedule said so

Now, obviously I don't think my child was listening to marker written on felt. What really happened, is that the schedule forced me and Jeremy to plan out the day, rather than have one or two things that needed to be done- and just do whatever in between.

After a few weeks I stopped doing it for myself and kept doing it for Jer. He loved it because it reminded him of when she might need a snack, and gave him ideas of different things to do with her while I'm at work.

I have to admit that the schedule is still sitting from last Wednesday...I think we've finally made a habit of a good routine that we don't need the visual reminder anymore. But let me tell you- it has given us amazing results!

A new sight at our house- Sam playing by herself!

Score one for genius mom moment!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Itsy Bitsy Baby...

...Is still under the limit

But we DID finally hit the 21 lb mark!



Ram Sam Sam

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Lil Sister

Lilypie Third Birthday tickers

Genevieve

Lilypie First Birthday tickers