Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy 2012!!

It's hard to believe 2011 is over!!! We had a fantastic Christmas and had several days off to spend with our family. The kids ended up loving Santa after several exposures. However, on the Tuesday after Christmas, when the snow finally fell, Matthew asked, "Is Santa coming tonight?" I think he missed his delivery 2 days prior.

Even with all the fun of the season, Matthew started to understand the true reason for the season. We were having Christmas with my mom's side of the family and my Aunt Janet asked the kids why we celebrated Christmas. Matthew's hand shot up in the air and Ryan and I braced ourselves as we figured he would say something about getting a "Spitting Robot" (which was the only thing he ever asked for from Santa). Instead, he said, "Because it's Baby Jesus' birthday." YAY!! Small victory!!

Ella is talking more and more. In fact, I am pretty sure she has more to say than I do which is a pretty scary thought. She loves taking care of her babies and playing with her dollhouse. She certainly has an ornery streak which we are still trying to figure out where it came from. My mom told me the other day that she was pretty sure we will likely hear from the principal about Ella!! We are certainly blessed to have the opportunity to parent these little blessings.

The rest of the Peppler gang (mom & dad) are doing great! We are entertained by our children, loved by our families, cared for by our friends, and treasured by our God. Our hope is that we live in such a way that God is glad he gave this life to people who are enjoying the gift!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lots of changes...

There have been lots of changes around here since my last post:

1. Ella turned 2 years old!! We had her party a couple weeks ago. I can hardly believe we have a 2 and 3 year old in our house now! Matthew and Ella are very good friends and enjoy playing together most of the time. They are learning very quickly how to be partners in crime when it comes to doing exactly what mommy and daddy tell them not to. Needless to say, we are getting an education every day in real life parenting.

2. I have a new job. In September I resigned my position with Dupont Hospital and started working for Visiting Nurse Hospice. I am so happy with the change and am getting to use my degree each and everyday. I am working a few more hours with this job, but we are fortunate to still have my mom watching our kids so it works out great! I am amazed at how many people say, "Oh, how do you like that?" in a tone that certainly implies that there is no way someone could like this line of work. I am learning everyday what a privilege it is to walk with patients and families through this journey. There are some days that are more difficult than others, but I am blessed by the work I am doing.

3. Our Christmas shopping is DONE. In fact, it has been pretty much done since October 1st. We are getting very excited for the holidays around our house and are looking forward to experiencing the thrill of Christmas through the eyes of our children.

We hope each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a blessed holiday season. We are certainly a family blessed!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thankful Thursdays

Today, I am thankful for...

1. Food coloring. A long shot turned into a sure thing. On Tuesday at work I was thinking about what we could do to help teach Matthew how to use the potty. I was thinking about how much he likes colors. He is very into mixing colors and remembering what 2 colors change into (e.g., red and yellow make orange, blue and red make purple). It hit me! Maybe we could use food coloring in the toilet to make Matthew more interested in it. I know it seems gross, but hey, after our last potty training adventure, I was willing to try just about anything. It has worked like a charm. NO ACCIDENTS! 2 1/2 days and we are off and running. I am not about to think that we are completely out of the woods, but this experience has almost been pleasanet (I mean, as pleasant as mixing pee into multiple colors can be).
2. An opportunity tomorrow. More on this later.
3. Another opportunity to teach at Huntington University this semester. I am almost done with all the preparations. I am looking forward to having the same students again this semester!!
4. Great weather. We have had some great days lately! Loving playing outside!
5. Fix n freeze meals. Our church started this new program last month and we have 9 meals in our freezer ready to eat! Tonight we had crescent roll pizza! It was fantastic, especially since Mommy had no prep time today to make it!

Have a great week!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where has the time gone?

Our little boy turned 3 this week! We had a pirate-themed party and Matthew received beautiful gifts from our family. Thank you to all who made his birthday special for him!

Three years ago today we brought our baby home from the hospital. He was so little and cried most of the first night. I remember wondering if life would ever be the same. The easy answer was NO!! Life is so much better than it was 3 years ago!!! I have 2 beautiful babies who I adore, and while we struggle with all the regular toddler craziness (x2) everyday; I am so thankful for this journey.
Our neighbor girl who babysits for us was over tonight. She was showing me her new clothes for the start of high school and I just kind of paused and thought about how in the blink of an eye we are going to be shipping these kids off to high school and wonder where the time went. It was in that moment that I thanked God for the simple struggles we face everyday: sharing (or lack thereof), eating (err, dropping food on the floor), and bedtime (the nightly ritual of Ella trying everything she can think of to get out of going to bed and Matthew coming downstairs about 20 minutes after we put him to bed to tell us he wants something to eat). I know our struggles will get more complex as the years pass, but today it made me thankful for where we are on the journey right now.

Ryan's family

Jamie's family


Can't imagine loving 3 faces anymore!

I am blessed!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Potty Training Mission Accomplished!

Well, we completed the 3-day potty training program at 5:12 PM this evening by putting a diaper back on our little boy. He pranced around all day and never once completely emptied his bladder on the potty. He did not even act like the same child. He hadn't had a BM since before we began on Wednesday morning and after a little consultation with my mom and my neighbor, we decided to abort the mission. Why is this post entitled mission accomplished you might ask? Well, we did accomplish what we set out to do. We did stick with the program for 3 days. We did encourage our children to tell us when they had to go potty. We did reward them for successes. But, in the end, we realized they are just not ready. Mommy and Daddy are very ready to be done with diapers, but we're going to put the potty chairs away for now and revisit this mission a little later down the road. Are we disappointed? Maybe a little, but we're more relieved that our kids can get back to being kids and we can get back to enjoying life alongside them.

Potty Training Day #3

Mission aborted, well almost. This morning, I decided that part of the problem was that I can't be in 2 places at once. Trying to tail 2 kids for the past couple days has been a full-time job and every time one got out of my sight, they had an accident. I finally realized this morning that I think we would be more effective if we tried to train 1 at a time. So, I put a pull-up on Ella, still encouraging her to tell Mommy if she had to pee or poop on the potty. She excitedly exclaimed, "Biaper!" and proceeded to fill the diaper within about 10 minutes. All my attention turned to Matthew. CONFESSION: I made peach tea and filled his sippy cup with it to make it all but impossible for him to hold it in any longer. He drank 2 cups full and was obviously miserable. Part of the training says that accidents are a good thing because they catch on faster of what not to do. Well, he still was prancing around and didn't want to sit on the potty until after he started going in his pants. He is no longer scared to sit on the potty, but he just doesn't want to. We managed several trips to the potty this morning with results. He is down for his nap now and Mommy is trying to regroup. It is weird to me that he cries when he pees on the potty despite our encouragement. Not sure what that is about. This morning I tried a couple times just putting him on the potty, offering encouragement, and leavng the bathroom until he called for me. We will see where this goes. We are committed to keeping him out of diapers if we can, but we also have to be able to leave the house at some point in the next 6 months!! Will update tonight! Hope you're having a great day!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Potty Training Day #2 - Evening update

Post-nap: Matthew = Dry, Ella = Wet.

If you're keeping track, Matthew has not gone on the potty at all today (or in his pants). I can tell he is absolutely miserable, but the poor thing just dances around and cries when we take him to the potty. He has a couple dribbles before dinnertime and a small amount on the potty, but nothing major.

Ella starts to go in her pants (#2) and I get her to the potty before she finishes!! I don't think she went on the potty again at all for the rest of today. Several accidents. Wondering if she is just not ready. Trying to stick with it, but she doesn't seem to be catching on.

6 PM I left for a meeting at church and Daddy was quite frustrated when I got home. Many dribbles from Matthew and Ella went several times in her pants.

8 PM Ella to bed. Matthew to the potty as it is obvious he has to still go. Offer Matthew the opportunity to watch Mickey Mouse if he empties his bladder in the potty. He does! Happy with the small victory. Watched Mouse and went to bed.

Tomorrow: Candy for each successful potty!!!

Potty Training Day #2 - Naptime update

Well, we are to naptime of day #2 and I am still curious as to whether this will really work by end of day tomorrow.

7 AM Matthew wakes up, comes out of his room and appears to be dry. But, once we investigated a little closer, it appears he peed in his bed right before he got up! Stinker!

7:15 AM Ella wakes up dry!!

8 AM Ella has accident #1, but runs to the bathroom instead of just peeing on the floor.

10 AM Ella has accident #2.


12:30 PM Matthew sits on potty for first time today, but no results.

12:35 PM Both kids to bed. Keep in mind Matthew has not pottied since he got up this morning! Should be an interesting find after naptime today!!!

I would say we have made definite progress since yesterday morning! Ella was peeing tiny little bits every 30 minutes and now we are going every couple hours and no accidents in between. Matthew hasn't cried today about it and even sang a song this morning about wearing big boy pants!! More later...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Potty Training Day #1

Well, we started off on a potty training adventure today! When Ella was born we kind of joked about waiting to potty train Matthew until Ella was old enough. Well, that is exactly what we have done. Matthew had absolutely no interest up until this point and Ella seemed ready. We had several friends try the tips at www.3daypottytraining.com with much success so we decided to try it x 2! Today was day #1.

Side note: Before today, I would have definitely said that Ella would do better at this than Matthew.

8 AM: Matthew and Ella were both up and I had my potty training manual in hand and my game face on. Matthew had a BM before we began, so I was kind of relieved about that. We "threw away" our diapers and put on big boy/girl pants. Matthew put up the biggest fight with getting into his pants. Once we accomplished this feat, he was pretty good all morning (1 accident and no pees on the potty). Ella loved her big girl pants and even liked sitting on the potty. She always seemed to pee as soon as we got her off the potty (not sure about that, will be consulting my manual to see if I am doing something wrong).

1 PM: Naptime. No one went on the potty before naptime. I was certain we would have 2 wet beds when everyone got up.

2:30 PM: Ella woke up. I rushed in to find a dry bed. Took her to the potty and she sat happily for a few minutes. No pee. Once she got off, she flooded the bathroom floor. Matthew woke up shortly thereafter. The last time he had gone was at 10:30 this morning, so I knew he had to go. He repeatedly started to cry and each time we would rush back to the potty for him to only dribble in the potty (he received a reward each time even for a few drops).

4 PM Finally, a breakthrough... Matthew went more than a few drops twice on the potty. I knew he had more in there, but each time he went he cried, so I wasn't going to really push him over the edge. Not to mention, Mommy had used up just about all the encouragment she had for the day.

4:30 PM Daddy's home to join in the fun!

5 PM Matthew peed on the potty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! For real, a load!

The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful, except for Ella peeing on Ryan's leg TWICE!!! :) Baths, added a second mattress pad and sheet to each bed, Mommy got away for a run, nighttime ritual + potty, off to bed with big boy/girl pants on. Now, Daddy is running.

All in all, I would say today was par for the course. I did not expect to be done potty training in 1 day and I am still hopeful we can make great progress by day 3!!! I will try to update each day for those who are in the same boat as us!!!

Have a great night!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More pics

One of my co-workers gave us this swing to add to our swingset! Matthew loves it and continues to request to go, "High as the ball" instead of "Highest of all!"

"High" or "Ing me!"

Old Settler's Day fun with cousins!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fun with Photos

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DIY Deck

Ryan and I decided we wanted to add an exit off the back of our house this summer. We started by putting a 10 foot door/window unit in and then added a deck. It took about 3 weekends, but has already been worth it! We love it! We had lots of little helpers and big helpers, too! We can't wait to host several parties this summer!

The finished product!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Mommy in Me

I have some friends who are welcoming their 4th child into the world tomorrow. WOW!! This Mommy is impressed at the thought of raising 4 kids. Some days my 2 give me all I can handle. But, as I think about them bringing another life into the world, I am so thankful. You see, these people were my supervisors when I worked at Camp Adventure in college. This couple modeled what it is to have a real, authentic relationship with Jesus and with each other. They showed hundreds of teenagers what it meant to yearn for Jesus. I have not seen them for years. I keep up with them through their blog and Facebook updates. One thing I know for certain: They are modeling that same love and grace for their kids that they modeled for me so many years ago. I am so excited for this new little life that will be joining their family. God has already blessed this little bundle with amazing parents!! I hope I model the same grace for my kids that they modeled for me. Congratulations Scott & Deanna! Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus in my life!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mardi Gras Masquerade

The table.

Ryan & I hosted a prom dinner for 15 incredible youth on Saturday night. We had such a great time creating a dinner that reflected the Mardi Gras prom theme. We think the kids had a good time, but regardless, we had fun hosting this festive party!

The whole gang! Didn't they look fantastic?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Easter 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Insanity Day 1

Well, Ryan and I have started a new journey. For the next 60 days we will be taking the Insanity challenge. For those who don't know, Insanity is an intense workout program. We purchased the program on Ebay a few weeks ago and started our first workout at 6 AM this morning (someone told us that people who work out in the morning are more likely to stick with it). At 6:06 AM I was walking down the basement steps and stepping into 43 minutes of Insanity!!! The first day we were supposed to complete the Fit Test. The idea is that you fail miserably and then at the end of the 60 days you can see how much progress you've made. Well, we decided to forgo the fit test because we already both know we are out of shape. I didn't feel like having a test that early in the morning anyway. To say that the warmup was a challenge would be an understatement. We were both huffing and puffing before the first water break! We survived the workout and are both feeling pretty good tonight. We are sore around our waists which probably has something to do with all the times we went from standing to push-ups. While I won't be updating on this daily, I hope to blog about once a week. I am hopeful that by day 30 or so we will be seeing some results. If anyone feels like going insane with us, 6 AM everyday except Mondays at the Peppler's is time for Insanity!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Our private beach!

Little toes in the sand!!

Well, almost paradise! Ryan built the kids a huge sandbox on Satuday! They LOVE it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thankful Thursdays Times Thirty!!

Today is Ryan's 30th birthday! So, I thought in place of Thankful Thursdays I would post 30 reasons why I am thankful for my husband. 1. He loves Jesus. 2. He puts up with me. 3. He is a fantastic Daddy. 4. He works hard for our family. 5. He is older than me. 6. He makes me laugh. 7. He is thoughtful. 8. He gets excited about little things. 9. He has a great family. 10. He is older than me. 11. He can handle the kids. 12. He helps around the house. 13. He puts his interests on hold for his family. 14. He is easily entertained. 15. He is older than me. 16. He is smart. 17. He has a sense of humor. 18. He rarely loses his cool. 19. He understands me. 20. He is older than me. 21. He is silly. 22. He is handy. 23. He is ambitious. 24. He leads our family. 25. He is older than me. 26. He cares deeply. 27. He teaches our kids life lessons. 28. He is discerning. 29. He loves us. 30. He is 5 months and 5 days older than me!!!! Happy Birthday, Ryan! I love you!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thankful Thursdays (in pictures):

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thankful Thursdays

Wow! It's really been quite awhile since I posted anything on Thankful Thursdays, but I thought I would jump back in!

Today, I am thankful for...

1. Temper tantrums. Now, don't ask me this in the midst of the fit itself, but I am glad that my children are growing and developing on schedule and with that comes some fits. We have at least 1 minor meltdown everyday and sometimes a major meltdown thrown into the mix. I am most thankful when these little tantrums happen at home so we don't have to display our wonderful toddlerisms in front of an audience, but regardless I am grateful my children have thoughts and feelings they feel comfortable displaying for us.

2. A wonderful husband who is a great parenting partner. He is great at jumping in and helping or taking over when Mommy is running low on patience. Our kids LOVE their Daddy!!!

3. My job. There are days when I am frustrated by my job and all it entails, but I am grateful to have a job and work with a great group of people! Makes going to work so much better!

4. Coupons. We have been somewhat hesitant to use coupons here because we don't want to get in the habit of buying it just because it is on coupon. But, somewhat cautiously we started clipping coupons a few weeks ago and loading them on our Kroger card, and last Friday was our first attempt with having a coupon for almost everything we purchased. We saved > 40% at the grocery store last week using coupons. We only bought what we needed for the next 2 weeks' meals and snacks. Tonight, we were running low on snacks and cereal, so Ryan went to the grocery and bought 14 boxes of General Mills cereal, Nature Valley granola bars, Golden Grahams snack bars, 2 boxes of Weight Watcher frozen treats, 1 Jello Temptations desserts, and bananas for around $35. It was a 50% savings!!! If you're in the mood for cereal, we've gotcha covered. We are getting ready to purchase a better organizational method for our coupons, but we are excited about the savings.

5. Spring! Hallelujah!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

You know you're the parent of 2 toddlers when...

1. Your couch cushions are used more for fort building than for sitting.

2. Your vacuum has permanent residence beside the dinner table.

3. You can't tape your favorite show because the DVR is full of Dora and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

4. You don't even worry about your daughter eating most of her meal off the floor.

5. You go on drives 1/2 hour before you have to be somewhere because both kids are strapped in for the entire ride.

6. You look forward to trips to the grocery because your spouse watches both kids while you shop.

7. You can sing "Jesus Loves Me" forward, backward and in your sleep.

8. Your conversations with other parents revolve around potty training, nap time, and timeouts.

9. You sympathize with another parent in the grocery store who is struggling with their toddler because you know it could easily be you.

10. You have given your child a cookie for eating 2 bites of dinner.

11. Your vocabulary has changed from, "When I am a parent I will never" to "I'm so glad someone else's child does that."

12. You think it might just be easier to stay in diapers until they are 5.

13. You spend all day at work thinking about the hugs and kisses that await you in your first 5 minutes at home.

14. You pack a bag full of games, books, snacks, and drinks to make it through one hour of church.

15. You worry less about messes and more about memories.

16. You can't imagine life without these precious babies.

17. Your childrens' smiles are like Christmas every morning.

18. Punishing your child has made you cry.

19. You look forward to nights out with just your spouse even though you spend the entire time talking about your kids.

20. You have learned how to choose your battles.

Most of all, you know you are doubly blessed and wouldn't change a thing!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do you ever get bent out of shape?

Do you ever get bent out of shape? I mean seriously, do you ever REALLY get bent out of shape? Occasionally, I read something that makes my skin crawl and I can't help but respond. Occasionally, I fly off the handle when I should have just held on and kept my mouth shut. Occasionally, I let my emotions take over and blow a situation WAAAAY out of proportion. It's not like I want to get bent out of shape, but sometimes it isn't in my DNA to just sit back and take it. For example, there are moments when I am at work and an email comes across my desk and it completely changes the mood of the day. Or, when we have had a really great day at home until Ella dumps the remote control car remote into the fish bowl. Or, perhaps when we are out somewhere and my kiddos decide to be toddlers and someone offers us unsolicited advice. Yes, these things happen pretty much everyday. Most days I am controlled. Most days I smile and nod and move on. Most days I don't give these things a second thought. MOST days I can handle it. And then it happens. Who knows if it is because it is the 5th such email that day or the 10th person to tell me my children aren't perfect, but once in awhile I bark back. Once in awhile, I tell the lady on the back row of church who tells me that my 2 year old son would be happier in the nursery to "Bug off!" Maybe it's the Mommy in me. Maybe it's my personality. Maybe it's my time of the month. Maybe it's because I am a woman. While some of these situations are not my brightest moments, I don't think I would have it any other way. There is something to be said for defending yourself, your spouse, your kids, your job. There is something important about knowing when right is right and wrong is wrong. I hope I am not the only one who occasionally gets bent out of shape; who sometimes gets on a soapbox about something I believe in; who once in awhile takes a stand for what is right. I hope you're having the kind of day that is filled with flowers and frills; but just in case you're not, I hope you have the strength to take a stand!

By the way, I had this entire post almost finished and hit a button that deleted everything. You want to talk about getting bent out of shape!!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Deja Vu

Thursday night I was struggling to get Ella's PJs on after bathtime when it struck me. On that very day, Ella was exactly the same age Matthew was on the day she was born. Hello flashback!! I shared this with Ryan and we both kind of laughed and breathed a bit of relief that we weren't adding another baby to the mix at this stage. While we both would agree that Ella benefited from having an older brother to teach her the tricks of the trade eariler, we both LOVE having our kids this close together. We struggle everyday with sharing, juggling our time between them, choosing our battles; but we love that they are already good friends. They are concerned about each other. They laugh at each other and play well together. We love that they already conspire against us and go in opposite directions when we are trying to accomplish anything. We hope they grow up to be best friends.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Weekend Away

Last weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time away. I was invited by a friend to come to "Scrap Camp." The camp took place at Camp Crosley in North Webster, IN. I worked for several summers at Camp Adventure and attended different camps all the way through high school, so camping is in my genes. I left on Friday night after class and headed up to camp. The whole purpose of the weekend was to provide an opportunity for busy women to take a step away and catch up on a creative outlet. The weekend was fantastic! I was able to get caught up on all of our family scrapbooks and spend time with some amazing women. But, the best part of the weekend: breathing deeply.

Breathing deeply?

Yes. From the moment I stepped out of my vehicle on Friday afternoon until I packed up shop on Sunday morning, I was breathing deeply. Breathing in the crisp, cool air. Soaking up the stories and lives of the other women there. Enjoying every minute, down to the weak, cold shower after only 3 hours sleep. Staying up late because we were having too much fun to go to bed. Pausing out on the deck to take in the beautiful view of the icy lake. Laughing so hard I cried. Being responsible only for myself for the first time in 3+ years.

Don't get me wrong... I love being a wife/mommy. I could hardly wait to get back home to my kids and scoop them up and love on them. But, the deep breaths I was able to take on my time away were refreshing. Enlightening. Uplifting. I was reminded to take time everyday to breathe deeply, to take a moment and step back, to put life in perspective. I came home renewed and refreshed, ready to play, ready to love, ready to live deeply.

I am so grateful that I have a husband who recognizes how important these moments are for me. I am so thankful I can take some time for me and not be made to feel guilty about it before, during, or afterward. I hope all of you have the opportunity to breathe deeply. Not next year. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right now. In the midst of your chaos. Take a moment... Breathe.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Deals of the week!!

So, last Saturday we started our biannual tradition of stocking the kids' closets for next year. We have been doing this twice a year since Matthew was born. We buy the clothes on clearance at the end of a season for the next season and save tons of money. We have typically been able to spend around $150-$200 total out of pocket and have clothes for both kids for the entire season. I realize I could spend most of the summer attending garage sales and maybe save a little money, but I have found that when I find a good sale, I typically can do just as well in one stop. My parents give the kids gift cards for their birthdays and Christmas for clothes, so we typically save those for this purpose and wait for a coupon before we hit the stores. Here is what we were able to accomplish this week:

1. We had $140 in gift cards to Kohl's. We also had a 15% off coupon and for every $50 spent we received $10 Kohl's cash. So, last Saturday morning in the mini blizzard we headed out to shop. We purchased 14 shirts, 1 outfit, and 8 pairs of pants for Ella and 8 shirts, 1 sweatshirt, and 4 pairs of pants for Matthew. We also purchased 2 puzzles for the little helpers we had with us and a frame for my dad's birthday gift. Our total bill was $157.23. After our gift cards were applied, we paid $17.23. We also received $20 in Kohl's cash since our total was $140+ before tax. Tonight, we returned to Kohl's and spent our $20 in Kohl's cash by purchasing 1 shirt and 1 sweater for Matthew and 1 pair of pants for Ella. We ended up paying $4.55 after the Kohl's cash was applied.

2. I had earned $30 in rewards from Gap over Christmas. Yesterday, I ordered 2 shirts, 1 sweatshirt, and 1 pair of jeans for Matthew and 1 dress and 4 pairs of shoes for Ella. I ended up spending around $20 after the rewards and received free shipping!!!

So, we have quite a good start on clothing for Matthew and Ella for next winter for around $40. I realize we really spent more than that, but by taking advantage of clearance merchandise, coupons, gift cards, and rewards, we have been able to put our money to the best possible use!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Papa!

Dad's birthday was Sunday. Each year we try to take some type of picture with the kids and NAPA gear. This year, the parents got in on the action! Happy Birthday, Dad! We love you!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One more for Keepin it Real...

I forgot this one yesterday: Sunday mornings are probably the most stressful morning of the week at the Peppler household. There never seems to be enough time to get everyone ready and out the door, but when we get to church, it's all smiles and we act like the All American Family!!! We're only fooling ourselves!!!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Ok, first batch of applesauce complete. I just followed a recipe on the internet I could find and then added marshmallows as a starting point to see. Original recipe:

8 apples cored, peeled, and chopped
1/2 c sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 1/2 cups water
Bring to boil and let cook for 15-20 minutes or until apples are tender. This is where I added a couple handfuls of marshmallows to let them melt. Once cooled, put in blender and puree.

I think the next time I will amend this recipe as follows:

8 apples (I used red ones)
NO sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1 1/2 cups water
Several handfuls of marshmallows
Cook the same.

The first batch tastes really good, but is a little sweet and cinnamony for me. I think taking the sugar away and maybe adding a few more marshmallows will give it the good Grandma flavor!

A little perspective...

I read on a friend's blog today about keeping it real. Thanks, Deanna! So, in the spirit of keeping it real and being authentic, I am going to take a few moments to present to you... the truth:

My husband is currently folding laundry in the laundry room while I am blogging and checking my email (did I mention he does almost all the laundry at our house)??

My dining room floor is littered with Ella's leftovers and we are having company over for dinner tonight.

My goal everyday is for my children to nap for at least 2 hours (definitely more for Mommy than for them).

We were in Warsaw this morning and stopped at the gas station on the way home in the unexpected white out. Instead of spending the gas card we received for Christmas on gas, we bought 2 fountain pops and gummy worms instead!

I ran 3 times this week, but I also ate a dozen cookies one day.

My daughter has my temperment, but don't tell anyone I admitted it!

I often pretend I am asleep on Saturday mornings when our kids wake up before 7, so Ryan gets up with them.

I am teaching a 3 hour lecture this semester and as much as I like to hear myself talk, I am exhausted at the end of the 3 hours!!!

And the one Truth that is more important than any of the rest is that I am a child of God, saved by grace, and nada without Him.

So, that's the truth for today. Happy shoveling!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Month of Saving Update

We made our second batch of laundry detergent yesterday and the Ivory soap dissolves much better. We, of course, had nothing to compare the first batch to, but the second batch is much smoother. Again, we did not add any kind of essential oil mainly because I do not have any. The Ivory soap is also much easier to grate. The funny thing is, right before we started using the homemade detergent we actually had just purchased detergent from the store and we have't used it. I guess we'll keep it on hand just in case we run out!!! I did a little more accurate figuring on the detergent and with a coupon for the Ivory, I figure the entire 3 gallons of detergent cost between 80-90 cents. We probably had enough left to finish out the month, but we went ahead and made the next batch. We also have been putting two 1/2 cups of detergent in each load, more out of habit than necessity. We do BIG loads of laundry at our house.

We are getting ready to make some homemade applesauce. I wish I had my Grandma Pease's recipe. I think she added marshmallows to it and was it ever YUMMY!!! Matthew keeps asking for applesauce and with the blizzard, we haven't left the house since Tuesday, so I am going to try making it on my own! We will see how it goes!

We are also almost out of dishwasher detergent here, so we might try the recipe I read where you extend powder detergent by adding 1/2 as much baking soda. I will let you know how that goes.

Hope you're enjoying the snow! We are enjoying time inside mostly with brief excursions out to play! We have fantastic neighbors who love to play with our kids (at least they seem to be excited when we come out). They are so great with them and Matthew and Ella love playing together! We are so grateful for Samina and Hammad! Enjoy your day!

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Month of Saving - Last Day

While I must admit, I have been slacking on these posts the last couple days. I also was just looking back over them and noticed that after today, I will have had 25 posts already in 2011. If we post just one more time this year, we will have made it to as many posts as we had in all of 2010. It is the final day of January, so today is the last day I will be putting daily updates on here for awhile. I still have lots of money-saving ideas, but we are going to stick with our current plan for the forseeable future and then maybe add a few more ideas in here and there as we go. So, thank you to those who have been reading along on our journey. I hope maybe you gained an idea or this sparked a thought on how you might save money in your life. What we have found is that our life is really not that different, but our ability to affect the lives of others is what is different. Truthfully, we were not really living beyond our means, but we were also not doing a good job of living within our means. We spent money because there was money in the bank and while it was fun, we realized in the end it wasn't the direction we wanted to go. So, today, my tip is simple: Stick with your gameplan!!!! Whether you are saving for a new car, new house, great trip, college, or some other goal altogether, stay true to the course and have fun along the way. Try to think of ways you can save a few dollars a month and you'll be amazed at how quickly the savings start adding up!!! Who knows, maybe if I get really ambitious, I will do another month focusing on another area of our lives!!! Until then, Happy Saving!!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 22

Well, let me say first, I totally take back my money saving tip from yesterday! Today, when we got home from church, Ella started her typical pre-lunch routine of unloading our towel drawer. At least once a day she unloads this drawer, as well as the tupperware drawer located directly below it. It drives me nuts as I am usually stepping on something when I enter the kitchen. Well, today her unloading paid off!!! Yesterday, we tore our house apart looking for Ryan's W-2. I had it earlier this week, but somewhere along the road misplaced it. We even went through the trash and recycle cans looking for it! I finally gave up last night and just decided we would have to call and pay to get another one (totally against my money-saving nature this month). Well, as Ella was flinging towels around the room, the W-2, as well as some other tax papers we needed came flying out! Hallelujah!!!
Today's tip: Forget what I said yesterday or better yet, don't put the W-2 statements in the towel drawer! Back to real money-saving ideas tomorrow!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 21 in Pictures

Today's tip: Save money, invest in cabinet locks!!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 20

I am married to a Mr. Fix-it! When it comes to saving money, he comes in very handy! Today, our money saving tip is to try and fix things on your own. A few weeks ago our garbage disposal broke (I think one of the pebbles from the fish tank went down the drain - oops!). I used to just call the repair man without giving it a second thought. However, in the spirit of saving money, Ryan said, "I think I can handle it." So, Ryan and Matthew purchased, uninstalled the broken one, and reinstalled a new one in less than an hour. We have adopted a new way of doing things around here... try to fix it ourselves or at least research what is involved in fixing it before we hire it done. If you don't happen to be married to a Mr. Fix-it, try it yourself or find a friend who is. I have found being able to do research on the internet about how to fix something makes many jobs we used to pay for much more doable. It's amazing the money we can save by doing regular maintenance and repairs on our own. Matthew even enjoys jumping in the fixing fun!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 19

Today, I have been thinking of all the sacrifices my husband makes to take care of our family. There are so many things he does to make sure we have everything we need, but one of the sacrifices he makes is driving a vehicle that is paid off!!! Ryan drives a 1999 Ford Explorer that was actually given to us a few years ago. At that time, he was driving 1991 Ford Explorer, so it was quite an upgrade!!! While I am sure he would like to have a nicer vehicle, he also realizes that not having another car payment is better for our family. So, today, our money saving tip is to save for big purchases and PAY CASH! I know that is easier said than done, but it really is an attainable goal. Awhile back, my uncle went to purchase a used car. Now, he probably has enough money to purchase a brand new car with cash, but that's not the point. He walked into the dealership with $8000 in his pocket. I don't remember all the details, but he was able to walk out with a car that was priced well over $8000 initially because he had the cash in his pocket. Most places aren't going to let you walk out the door if you're making a big purchase and willing to pay cash, not to mention paying cash allows you to save all the interest of a car payment. I work with a man whose family needed to purchase a new refrigerator. They saved all their change for one year (now, that's a lot of change), but they were able to buy their brand new refrigerator with the money they saved!!! Whether it's a car or an appliance or some other purchase, saving at least a big chunk of it ahead of time saves you money in the long run. I am looking forward to being able to buy Ryan a "new to us" vehicle one of these days, but we are hoping to pay cash when that day comes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 18

Today, it's all about celebrating!! One of the things we like to do around here is celebrate milestones. Whether we pay off a large debt or meet a goal or deadline we have set, we celebrate our accomplishments. Now, of course, I would not suggest the celebration be so extravagant that you end up with more debt than you paid off, I do think these little mini celebrations are fantastic motivators. We do things like: find a cheap hotel on priceline and go away for the evening or weekend, plan an outing to a fun family place like the Children's Museum in Indianapolis, or go out to dinner at a nice restaurant.

I seem to be bombarded recently with reading things like, "You only live once, so do anything you want in moderation" and "If it feels good, do it" and "Go big or go home" type advertisements and advice. I am sure part of my sensitivity to this is that we are focused on trying to save money and this mentality really doesn't fit that lifestyle. While I agree that we are only going to live once, I also believe our ability to make a difference in the lives of our children, family, community, and world will be more greatly impacted if we focus less on the instant gratification lifestyle our society seems to flaunt and be more conscious of how and where we spend our resources.

So, today we are looking forward to our next celebration ~ it may not be wine and roses all the time, but the celebration is just as sweet!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 17

Well, I would be pretty surprised if anyone is still reading this by now, but because I am a creature of habit and quite anal about finishing something I start, I will continue with the daily posts until the end of the month.


I can tell the money is burning a hole in your pocket already! Today, Ryan and I are evaluating where we donate/give to charity. A few years ago, we started tithing to our church during a time in our marriage where we were deep in debt. We have shared this story on occasion with people in our church, but today I am stepping out of my comfort zone a tad and sharing it with... the world. When we got married we purchased a home that we wanted to make some serious changes to before we moved in. We pretty much started from the studs in most of the rooms, along the way accumululating serious balances on our credit cards. Everyone was willing to give us credit, and we pretty much took them up on their offers. Soon, we were around $30,000 in debt. Ryan listened to Howard Dayton's Money Map program on the radio and ordered a brochure leading us through the steps to financial freedom.
Malachai 3:10 says, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."
One of the first decisions we made as we started the journey of getting out from under this financial burden was that we would start tithing to our church. At the time, we occasionally dropped a $20 in the offering plate but figured the church would surely understand that we were a young married couple and we just didn't have any more to spare~the old people could give the big bucks! Well, as backward as it seemed to us at the time, we decided to, for the first time in our marriage, really trust that if we were faithful with our finances that God would supply. We set up our checking account to automatically deduct our tithe and send it to the church each week. I could write a novel on all that transpired in the next year, from making huge payments on credit cards, to receiving a check in the mail at the end for the exact amount we had left to pay; but the moral of the story is: We trusted God with our finances and in less than 1 year our credit card debt was paid off!!!! While we didn't start tithing anticipating to be prosperous, we firmly believe that we were able to pay down our debt because we trusted that God would supply and we were faithful stewards with what He gave. That's it! For us, part of saving money is giving back to the God who has given so freely to us. Case closed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 16

Tonight for supper we had burritos. One thing I love about cooking is that we rarely have to buy meat at the store. We buy almost all of our meat in bulk. We eat buffalo at our house (similar to ground beef) and it is fabulous to go out to the freezer whenever we need some meat and it is already there waiting. The investment in our deep freezer has been well worth the cost. We have also noticed that there are many meals that we do not eat an entire 9x13 casserole, so we have started dividing the casserole in half and freezing the second half. It is great to be able to pull it out the next time and save all the prep time, not to mention we aren't wasting the leftovers. We also often cook large quantities of ground buffalo, chicken, turkey or pork on the weekends and divide them into freezer bags for use later in the week. Today, saving money is just that simple... it also will save you time in the long run. Make your regular meal and if you don't usually eat the entire casserole, freeze the other half. After a long day at work or a full day of caring for kids or taking care of the house, it is nice to have supper ready to go, just pop it in the oven and voila!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 15

It's hard to believe we are halfway through the month of saving already! Besides some people thinking we are Amish and a few skeptics, we have been enjoying the challenge! Today, as I was thinking about saving money, I started to think of all the reasons why we don't save money. One of the main reasons I think we have done a somewhat poor job at this until recently is a sense of entitlement. No, nothing I am sure any of the rest of you deal with, but for me, I often catch myself saying things like:

"I work part-time, so therefore I can afford to go through the drive thru instead of cooking at home."
"My kids have been on my last nerve today, so I should go buy myself something nice to make up for it."
"My husband had to work late this week, so I can justify spending extra money at the mall since he will be making more."
"My favorite store is having a sale, so I should spend more and get more."

You get the point.

I often catch myself making excuses like this for what I buy. Recently, I have been asking myself, "Do we really need it?" While it may be a good price, or I might have had a rough day at work, or we might have a little leftover at the end of the month, do WE really need it? Do we REALLY need it? Do we really NEED it? Do we really need IT? This simple question has changed the way I do things over the last couple weeks! While I am sure we will still be splurging from time to time, we are trying to put an end to the entitlement mentality. If saving money really isn't your issue, maybe the entitlement idea flows over into another area of your life.... whatever it is... take a minute to think, "Do I REALLY NEED IT?

Have a great week!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 14

Today, we went to the bulk food store in Shipshewana. My parents had been there recently and one of my best friends lives near there, so we thought we would check it out. They have TONS of baking items, as well as regular groceries. We bought powdered sugar, Haitian vanilla (the best vanilla on the planet... I was so excited to find), nacho cheese, some dip mixes, and several other items. When we got home, we made 2 loaves of bread, 36 dinner rolls, 2 large bags of egg noodles, and an angel food cake from scratch. YUM!! The rolls are in the freezer, we made paninis tonight with the bread, the noodles are in the freezer, and the angel food cake... well, it's in my tummy!!! Last night, we also made a drastic change in our family room... the TV is gone! GASP! OK, before you start throwing tomatoes at me or something, we still have a TV and this really wasn't about saving money. For awhile now, we have noticed that our children are both glued to the television if it is on. One of the first words out of Matthew's mouth in the mornings is, "Let's watch Mouse." We were getting frustrated that they were always wanting to watch one of their favorites shows and it also let us off the hook in terms of being creative and playing with them. So, we got rid of it! We moved it to our bedroom (thank you, Uncle Kyle), so for the first time since we got married, we have a working television in our bedroom. I really think it will become a dust collector in there, but I am not sure Ryan was ready to move it too far away just yet. We had a great day playing with our kids and they never asked to watch the TV one time!!! Not to mention, I got to rearrange my family room and I LOVE the new set-up! Jason: If you're reading this, we were able to get the leather chair we thought would sell with the house out of the basement last night! It looks great in my family room!
Today, when I thought about saving money, I thought of our flexible spending account. I realize not everyone has this option with their health insurance plan at work, but if you do... TAKE ADVANTAGE!! We have 2 sick kiddos right now, and while we typically enjoy fairly good health around here, we do have occasional illnesses or doctor visits. The flexible spending account is pre-tax contributions from your paycheck that can be used for healthcare expenses throughout the year (read the fine print to make sure you know what is eligible under your specific plan). For example, I am getting a crown on Wednesday and the $450 (puke) that are not covered under my insurance from work, I can pay for with my FSA. While I realize I am still paying for the crown, I did not have to "budget" for it in our monthly expenses. In fact, I was supposed to have the crown in December and called to reschedule it so that I could take advantage of the funds once my FSA reset in January. We are very fortunate to have my mom watching our kids for us, but I believe there is some type of contribution like this for childcare expenses as well if that pertains to you. If you work, make sure you know the benefits your employer provides for you... many employers have deals with cell phone companies, gyms, or other vendors that provide nice discounts or incentives to their employees. One of the incentives from Ryan's health insurance is a 10% discount on a zoo pass!!! I've begun to realize that often there are discounts available and I just didn't know or failed to ask.
Have a great weekend!

If you're really worried about our children's deprivation from television, we do have a TV in the basement that I am sure we will be using from time to time!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 13

Fridays at the Peppler house are date night! Ever since Matthew was born, our kids have gone to Ryan's parents for a couple hours every Friday night! We are very fortunate to have this built-in childcare, but today, as I thought about saving money, date night came to mind. It is often difficult for parents of young children to afford date night, let alone the childcare to make it happen. Today's idea is to swap childcare with friends for date night. It is so good for couples to have alone time over dinner, or just a few hours to reconnect over coffee, or in our case recently, to come home and bake (last Friday we made 2 loaves of bread, a recipe of noodles, and a chocolate trifle). Regardless of what date night entails, the time together is what's important. Volunteering to watch your friends' children one evening in exchange for the same gesture in return, will not only gain your children some social time, but also allow you some downtime. If you happen to be in a season of life where you do not have young children but are capable of caring for 1 or 2 little ones, volunteer to host a young couple's children for an evening out for mom and dad. If you happen to be a single parent, I would imagine a night out is doubly important. Finding someone you can trust with your kids so you can get away and reconnect with friends or just take care of yourself, makes for better relationships with your children once you return home. Ryan and I are usually completely refreshed after just a couple hours away and recharged for the weekend. If you can save the cost of childcare by swapping sitting services with your friends or family, you can enjoy date night even more because it is saving money!!!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 12

Well, today we are looking at energy savings. As I typed that sentence, I realized I left the light on in the dining room after breakfast and had to get up and go turn it off (great start!!!). Yesterday, I received our REMC bill and on it, it said to check out their Energy Advisor on their website, http://www.nremc.com/. Once there, I was able to click on an Energy Savings tool where I put in our home information (most of which it already recognized). I could even put in the dates of when our furnace and appliances were purchased and then it calculated where we could save money in our home. Now, I realize we will have to potentially spend some money to upgrade the specific areas, but it just might be worth it in the long run. One area that it said we could save over $300 per year was in upgrading our water heater. When we purchased our home, our water heater was over 16 years old. It has just not made it on the upgrade list up to this point, but it might be something we need to consider. The other area of major savings for our home is in light usage. There are simple things that we can do to save energy in this area... turn the lights off when not in use, turn off the closet lights (night lights) in the kids' rooms during the day, unplug appliances or lights when they are not in use or not used at all. In our kitchen/dining room, we could potentially have 7 lights turned on at one time (one of which is a chandelier, not to mention all the appliances). There are times when I walk in the kitchen and at least half of them are on and no one is in sight. We are going to try to save some energy at our house and see how it goes!!! It will be interesting to see the difference in our meter reading next month!

I think the website said you could also have an Energy Advisor come to your house and do a more complete inspection... I am sure that would not be complimentary!!!

Happy saving!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 11

One of the things we have recently stopped doing is buying fountain beverages. While we both like them better than drinking out of a can or bottle, we also realize how much we were spending on fountain pop everyday. The closest drive thru for us to get a beverage is Taco Bell, and at least 4 times a week we ordered an XL diet and XL root beer totaling $4.04. That's almost $850 every year in just pop! If we purchase cases of pop for $6.00 a case or less, that's 25 cents per can. We might drink 1-2 pops on average per day, so we are easily saving $650-$700 every year on pop consumption. While I still occasionally crave a fountain beverage, I am willing to mostly do without them if it means saving money. We have also found that since we are not buying fountain pop, we are drinking less pop and more water. Double win!!

Update: We have been pretty good about not using paper towel around here for the last week. The first major change we have seen is that our garbage can is usually full to the brim each week, and this week we had at least 1/3 of the can empty when we took it to the curb!

Hope you're having a great week!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 10

Today, I wanted to write about splurging and indulging. While these 2 ideas are a far cry from most money-saving ventures, I think they are important if we are going to be successful with this little experiment! For every family, there are some costs that are non-negotiable. I am not talking about a mortgage or car payment. I mean, there are some costs, that although they may be unnecessary, they are worth it for that particular family. For us, one of our indulgences is the use of the Culligan man. We have a well at our house and if the salt tank runs out of salt, the iron in the water starts to stain clothes. From experience, we know that we are just not good at filling up that tank. Not to mention, we spent more money every month buying salt than the Culligan costs us when he comes! OK, maybe that isn't an indulgence, but the next one is: Creme Brulee creamer. We are addicted to it at our house. Last week, I tried to take a half-empty bottle of creamer and add skim milk to fill it back up to try and save money. Let me tell you, we could tell the difference. Ryan told me that the creamer is where he draws the line on saving money! We don't go to coffee shops for coffee, we don't drink expensive coffee (Hello 55 cent coupon Ryan found attached to the Folgers yesterday at the store), so this little splurge is totally worth it for us. Now, if someone can figure out a way to make Creme Brulee less fattening and still taste the same, then we might have another go at it! I really think these simple indulgences are important for us. While we don't spend tons of money on either one, they are enough motivation to keep at it when saving money doesn't seem like fun anymore!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 9

Today, is a household cleaner kind of day. While I work 10+ hours on Mondays and rarely have the energy to do much except manage to get supper on the table, baths, books, and a little play, I like to imagine I have spent the day cleaning my house and try to escape the utter chaos of my family room at the end of the day! Last week I made some household cleaners to try. While I do not often purchase household cleaners, it is something I really do not like to buy. It seems they always end up on my list at the same time and make my grocery bill $15-$20 more just because I have 3-5 cleaning supplies on the list. The first thing I have learned is that vinegar is a fabulous cleaner! Let me be the first to say that I HATE the smell of vinegar. We have used it to clean our coffee pot and I think the smell of hot vinegar has singed my nose hairs into submission. The smell bothers me much less now than it used to. The first cleaner I made was a wood cleaner.
Wood Cleaner:
1/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
1-2 drops lemon oil (I did not have lemon oil so I added some lemon juice. The juice did not kill the vinegar smell as I imagine the oil might)
Mix and place in spray bottle. Use 100% cotton cloth to dust.
** I really did like this cleaner. We eat at our dining room table every night which is wood and I have a hard time keeping it clean and shiny. This cleaner really did get it clean and left it with a nice shine (not sticky at all). I could smell the vinegar while I was cleaning, but it went away as soon as it dried. The best part of this recipe is that it is made with ingredients I almost always have on hand and they are kid-safe!! With 2 little helpers at my feet most of the time, it is reassuring to know they are not going to be harmed if mommy happens to leave the cleaner out unattended.
The second cleaner I made was an all-purpose cleaner.
All-Purpose Cleaner:
1 t. Borax
1/2 t. washing soda
2 T. vinegar
1/2 t. vegetable oil based liquid soap
2 c. very HOT water
Combine all ingredients and shake until mixed.
Did you notice that the first 2 ingredients in this cleaner are also used in the laundry soap we discussed on Day 1? While this little mixture probably cost me about 10 cents to make, it does a great job cleaning the counters and smells good with the addition of the scented liquid soap. With the washing soda and Borax, this one does need to be kept out of reach for little ones!

I borrowed a book called "Clean & Green" from a friend who is much more advanced in her saving mentality. This book is where these ideas came from, but I am sure there are plenty of other great ideas on the internet you can try if your heart desires.

One more thing: I forgot to mention that we added vinegar to our jet dry reservoir in the dishwasher and it works like a charm! Pennies compared with a couple dollars for Jet Dry!!! LOVE it!

I keep forgetting, sorry for all the additions... we also use baking soda to clean our stovetop. We have a ceramic cooktop which we cannot keep clean. We were spending tons of money on the cleaner the manufacturer sells to try to get it clean. Recently, we discovered baking soda works better and with much less effort!!! Really wanted to trade in the ceramic cooktop until we found this little trick!

Side note for Grandma Kessie: We made your noodles on Friday and made beef and noodles with them tonight for dinner tomorrow! They are fabulous!!!!!!!!! Can't wait to eat them tomorrow!

Tomorrow's topic: Splurging and indulging!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 8

We have one week of saving under our belt. Let me tell you that really the difference is in our mindset. Our day-to-day living is virtually unchanged. So, today we are focusing on being optimistic. While this has no direct savings, we are finding that as we try new things and experiment with new ideas, it really helps to be optimistic about their outcome. So many people who we have spoken with over the last week have said things like, "I just don't know how you have time to do this." Well, truthfully, one week ago I might have joined them in their thinking. I work 2 part-time jobs and sell Mary Kay on the side. Not to mention, I have 2 small children and a husband who occasionally require some attention. But, after 1 week of being open to change and being positive about the possibility of saving more money, my response has become, "How can you not take time to at least consider how you might save money?" Think about all the ways your family might make a greater impact on the world if you had the means to do so. I can't wait to see what exciting changes we can make this week to not only better our household, but potentially better our world!!! Stay tuned!!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 7

Today we are cleaning up and clearing out. Ryan and I are fortunate to have a 20'x12' storage room in our basement. While this is a blessing when it comes to putting things away, we also find it a catch-all when we are trying to clean up. This month, in the spirit of saving, we have been trying to clean up and clear out. While my storage room is fairly organized (we built approximately 120 running feet of shelf space that accommodates rubbermaid tubs. Each tub is numbered and the contents of each tub are recorded on a spreadsheet), we often place things in there that do not belong. We also use a portion of the room for storing items we just don't use anymore. Hence, the point of this post:

If you haven't used something in 6 months or haven't worn it for the season it is generally used for, get rid of it. Sell it, put it on ebay, Craig's list, have a garage sale, donate it to Goodwill, give it to a charity or friend who can use it. My sister and I have a garage sale twice per year. Recently, we have been getting rid of the baby clothes/gear that we just don't use anymore. It is a great way to make a little money and clear out some space. This year at the garage sale we had in April we started out with 21 tubs of baby stuff and sold everything except a couple tubs full. One rule we have with the garage sales is: What goes out does not come back in. If I didn't need it on Thursday when the garage sale started, I don't need it on Saturday when the sale is over. We typically donate any leftovers to Goodwill or some other charity. Recently, I even sold my first item on Ebay. I had a Dell PDA that I was told I would need for grad school. Let me tell you, it was probably the most wasted $300 ever spent on something I NEVER used. Confession: I did break the previously stated rule on this one, but my intention of bringing it back in after the garage sale was not to keep it, but sell it. 4 months later, I finally got around to listing it on Ebay. After 7 days and a 99 cent reserve as the initial listing which I thought was a tremendous mistake, I sold the PDA for over $90. Considering PDAs are pretty much going by the wayside with the emergence of the smartphone, iPod touch, iPad, etc., I felt the money I received was much better than allowing it to collect dust in the desk drawer and go completely obsolete. What do you have sitting around your house that you simply do not need or use anymore? Is there someone out there who could put it to use and you can be left with less clutter and perhaps even a little $$ in the bank?

By the way, I made 2 more loaves of bread after a somewhat disappointing first try and it is DELICIOUS! Ryan and I made paninis with it for lunch today! YUM! Persistence pays off!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 6

Today's entry is not really a new concept for us, but something that has made a huge difference in our day-to-day spending. We use a budget. I have every monthly expense on a spreadsheet that we track and watch pretty intently. Now, of course, during several seasons of our marriage, there have been times when we have been more focused on this than others. The last 2 years have probably been the most lax, as we have been spending time learning how to be parents and less time worrying about where every dollar goes. As we are learning about parenting, however, we are realizing that part of being parents is modeling good money habits. I have spent the better part of naptime this week reviewing our budget. I got on a website with a loan calculator and started figuring out how we can pay off our debt more quickly. As we have reviewed our finances and discussed ways to cut costs, we have come up with 3 goals for our financial future:

Short-term goal:
Pay off our van in 2011 (2 years ahead of schedule)
Medium-term goal:
Pay off all student loans in 2012 (8 years ahead of schedule)
Long-term goal:
Pay off our house by 2016 (7.5 years ahead of schedule)

While we realize unexpected expenses arise, and we cannot be certain what the future holds, we can be diligent in putting extra money each month toward our student loans, mortgage, and any other outstanding debt we might have. It is pretty incredible if you look at an amoritization table with any of your outstanding debt and compare the savings in interest when you pay something off ahead of schedule. While writing the check for the same amount every month is easier and takes less planning and thought, I prefer to pay the banks and other financial institutions less interest and save the difference. If you're interested in seeing how much you can save, simply google "loan calculator" and have some fun!!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 5

Today has been quite a productive day at the Peppler household! I made homemade bread (great flavor, a little dense), made my own dusting spray and managed to dust most of the main living area, and made an all purpose cleaner for the counters which I really like!!! I plan to discuss homemade cleaners a little more later in the month, but for today, our money saving tip is: Do your own photo editing!!!

Last year, we spent $270 on sitting fees for 3 photo sessions (plus the cost of prints). While we really loved all the photos we received from these sessions, we also noticed that our children are not really themselves during these wonderful little outings. We purchased an SLR camera back in July (since our previous camera somehow ended up floating in Daddy's glass of water), and we decided to start trying to crop and edit some of our own photos. For the holidays, we had 3 more photo sessions with different portions of our families and we were able to create some beautiful Christmas gifts for the cost of the prints alone. We utilize http://www.picnik.com/ to edit our photos. We are considering upgrading for a small fee each year but currently only use the free editing tools. I am sure professionals can tell the difference, but the cost savings is phenomenal. We have also been told to try http://www.gimp.com/ for photo editing but have not done so yet.

So, let's say that the 3 additional photo sessions at Christmastime would have cost us around the same amount as the first 3 sessions last year. We would have paid $540 for only the cost of the sessions (no prints included). This year we are going to try it on our own. While this may take a tad more patience on the part of Mommy and Daddy when trying to get the perfect shot, we also realize the cost savings for us. If we can manage to get 3 year and 2 year photos of Matthew and Ella and maybe a family picture here and there, we will likely save over $500 this year on pictures!

Edited for FREE on Picnik!!!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Month of Saving Day 4

Today is kind of a no-brainer, but something we have not been good at recently. It is really two-fold:
1. Make what you can from scratch. While this takes more time on the front end than preparing something out of a box, it is usually better tasting and better for you on the flipside. It's amazing how many things I usually have the ingredients for in the cabinet that I either never use or just don't want to take the time to prepare myself. We delivered some homemade cookies over the weekend and the feedback we received from a man whose wife cooks primarily out of a box was, "It's probably a good thing my wife doesn't know how to make these." Cookies are not the only thing we are making from scratch around here... pie crusts, noodles (Grandma Kessie I need your recipe), cakes, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, bread, etc. Flour has many more uses than a box mix of any kind. I am not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, but with some patience and a little creativity, we have had some pretty stellar meals around here recently!
2. Eat leftovers. I used to be the queen of not eating leftovers. For some reason, I felt it just wasn't necessary, so we didn't do it. We wasted WAY too much food. I am embarrassed to admit this, but we probably threw away more than we were eating at home. Due to the "NO EATING OUT" commitment I talked about on Day 1, we have had no choice but to eat leftovers. Man, some things leftover are FABULOUS!!! Lasagna, chili, pot pie, white chili, to name a few. Last night we had a turkey pot pie, and today, we finished it at lunchtime. It was stinking delicious!

So, while I can't put a concrete number on the savings we will incure by making food from scratch and by eating leftovers, I would say it is safe to say that for every homemade meal and every meal where we are eating leftovers, we are saving ourselves a meal out. Cha-ching!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another exciting experiment!