Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our 30 Days of Nothing

About a month ago in one of my blog hopping moods I came across a blog that talked about a 30 day challenge. This family did "30 days of Nothing". They drastically cut back their spending and only purchased things that were absolute necessities for 30 days. They did this experiment to see how much they could actually live without. Different families joined in at different degrees. Some just didn't eat out or go to movies or dye their hair for the month. Others went deeper and cut grocery budgets in half or fourths. Another blog I was inspired by was this blog. They donated all the money they saved for the month to a charity.

So instead of coming up with New Year's resolutions that we know we won't keep we have decided to embark on this challenge for the entire month of January. We are going to halt all spending unless we deem it an absolute necessity. Necessity for me means RX, utilities and gas. We will not be going out to eat, no renting movies, no shopping, no $1 ice-cream cones. Our goal is to use $1.00 per day to get groceries if we need them. Thankfully I have a freezer full of food and a pantry full of canned fruit and veggies. This will be a huge step for me since I typically budget $500 a month to feed my family of 6 and I have a difficult time staying under that. This will be a good way for me to clean out my stock pile of food and all the meat and fish in my freezer. I can start fresh when the challenge is over.

Aside form cutting the grocery budget to $1 a day the kids and Will and I sat down and came up with a number of other ways to reduce our spending. We are willing to try all of them and see how it goes. Some of these ideas are things that we already try to do on a daily basis, and some of them are going to be difficult for us to implement. Some are just common sense. Here is the list we have come up with. If you think of any other ways to save please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

Turn music, TV, radio and lights off when leaving the room.
Lower our heat to 65 at night and 67 during the day. (Right now it is 69 all the time)
Each person gets 1 bath towel per week.
Keep wearing clothes till dirty (with the exception of socks and underwear, those must be changed daily)
If cold wear sweatshirts, slippers, or use blankets.
Put blankets over windows to keep cold out.
Use draft stoppers in front of doors.
Make sure to close doors tightly when coming in from outside.
Open garage doors at a minimum. (Our garage is heated)
Know what you want before opening the fridge or freezer.
7 minute showers.
Only flush toilet when necessary.
5 gallon buckets in shower to use to flush the toilets.
Multiple errand running into one trip.
1 cup to drink out of in 1 week. Reduce dishes.
Turn heat cycle off dishwasher, allow to air dry.
Don't leave water running while brushing your teeth.

When we explained the challenge to the boys Tony was very excited and came up with a lot of the ideas above. Jake on the other hand is not too happy about it. Will thinks it shouldn't be a problem. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I am already feeling the urge to spend to stock up on the things I will need for the month ahead, knowing that I can't buy anything. I think this experiment will be very exciting yet extremely challenging. I already consider myself pretty frugal, but I must admit if I want something I typically go get it. I will be blogging each day of this challenge to let everyone know how we are doing. Wish us luck and feel free to join in on this adventure!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Last night Will and I got to baby sit our friends baby. It has been a little while since I got to snuggle a baby and I must admit it felt pretty nice! He was such a good baby and Brodie and Drew were in heaven playing with him. They kept wanting to lay with him and hold his hand. Brodie even went as far as sharing his beloved bear and pillow with him.

This morning I got ALL my Christmas decorations down. Tony and Drew helped take ornaments off the tree. Tony and I even got the tree out of its stand and out the door without any problems. Now it looks pretty empty in here. I am glad to have a little more room though.

Yesterday I stopped at Fareway and was delighted to see that they had their bagged bananas. They usually throw all the brown bananas in a bag and slap a .99 sticker on them. I LOVE when they do this. I bought 4 bags. The boys and I peeled bananas for half an hour and got them all bagged up into Ziplocks. Actually I guess Drew did most of the peeling. Brodie was convinved he was going to eat his whole bag and got through about 2 1/2 bananas before quitting. Now I have 10 frozen bags of bananas. I can make 2 loaves of bread or 2 pans of muffins from each bag! I think I am set for awhile!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Pictures...

There are so many to share but here are a few of my favorite ones...

This shirt was a gift from my husband.

Our crazy cat opening his own gifts!

The madness of Christmas morning.

Sorting through the stockings.

The family gift from Santa that the boys were just positive was a Wii, only to find an air popcorn popper inside.

Our dinner table Christmas Eve.

My moms house Christmas morning.

Our four boys in front of the fireplace at Grandma and Grandpa Bryan's house Christmas night.

The whole family enjoying Grandpas new gift to the boys...Rock Band World Tour.

Grandma Mary rocking out on the baby guitar!

How many boys does it take to put together a LEGO set?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

And the winner is...

The winner of the cookie decorating was the poka dot gingerbread person. For all of you who think you had the cookies figured out, see if you were right.


A lot of people thought the poka dot bikini was Wills idea. Nope, I get the credit for that one! Thanks to all who voted.

We had a wonderful Christmas. We are still celebrating the holiday here in Colo with Will's parents and sister. We have been here since Christmas night eating, playing games and just being lazy. Hope everyone enjoyed their holiday. I will get some pictures up when we return home.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snow Day

Who needs a sled?

This is what we did this morning. Since the temperature finally got above zero we ventured out for a bit. I think it took longer to get everyone's hats, snowpants, boots, and gloves on then the actual time spent outside. I figured out I need to get some new gloves for the kids. MITTENS actually because trying to put fingers in the actual glove holes are impossible to comprehend when you are 2 and 3 years old.
I am happy to say that last night Will and I got some power wrapping in and I have almost everything done. We wrapped till 12:30 this morning. Just a few odds and ends to wrap today hopefully. This will be the first year that we are not up late Christmas Eve frantically wrapping and getting ready! I am happy for that.

You can feel the excitement around here. The 3 older boys tell me everyday how many days are left until Christmas. I am excited because for the first time ever we are celebrating Christmas Eve by spending the evening quietly at home and having a fancy dinner for the 6 of us. Our last real splurge before January 1 hits and we are haulting our frivolous spending.

Will did go back into the Dr. yesterday for his knee. He is still unable to bend it real well. He definitely can not handle stairs yet. The doctor is pretty confident that it is only a terrible bruise of the bones and it will take a couple weeks to heal. I hope he is right.

We didn't have a whole lot of picture moments yesterday. Most of the day was just cleaning and hanging out. Here is a picture of Brodie holding a piece of toast that he bit into the shape of the letter A. He was so proud of himself!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Cookies

We spent the morning decorating cookies. The kids ended up getting bored and left Will and I to finish the decorating. It turned into a competition as to who had the coolest looking cookie! There was so many to do at the end I was just happy to slap some frosting on and call it good.

Of course Brodie and Drew had their own bowl of frosting. Not much got onto the cookie.

Our next project to get done today is to finish some ornaments we made and get some wrapping done! Tonight we are going to just relax and hang out before Will has to go back to work tomorrow. Hope everyone had a great weekend and stayed warm.

The Elves

The boys got a nice surprise the other morning. The elves had visited our house and left them each a Christmas book in return for their Christmas list.

This is a tradition we have adopted since I met Will. The elves visited him and his sister when they were little each year prior to Christmas. You put your Christmas wish list on the fridge and wait. One night the elves come while you are sleeping, take your list and leave you a Christmas book.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Break

Well the kids are officially on winter break. 1 day early due to the bad weather we received yesterday. Now it's time for me to figure out what we are all going to do while we are home together for the next couple weeks! I have a few things up my sleeve.

Will's knee is still pretty sore. He worked from home yesterday and wasn't able to elevate it properly so he paid for it later. It was pretty swollen. He is able to put a little more pressure on it now so that is good. Hopefully it is going to heal on it's own.

Everyone here is getting excited for Christmas. Hard to believe it is only 6 days away. Projects here are almost done. Wrapping...just getting started! I still have a little baking to do. Hoping to get that done today since I will have extra hands to help me.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Things have been a little hectic around here lately. I have been busy taking care of my crippled husband who fell while snowboarding with Jake. He injured his knee pretty bad. I took him to the doctor yesterday who took an x-ray. There isn't anything broken thankfully. We are waiting for the swelling to go down before we do anything further. If it isn't better by Monday he has an apt. to go back in and possibly set up an MRI. For now he is to keep it elevated with ice on it and Ibuprofen. I will let everyone know how he is doing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yesterday was Jake's jazz band performance at Capitol Square in downtown Des Moines. They did really well. I love listening to them play. My sister-in-law came down and we picked up Will from work, and my dad was also there. Here are some pics. Jake is in the back row between the two Santa hats. The tree was in the center of the Square.

I got some Christmas baking done yesterday. I quickly froze some of the cookies so that little hands (and big ones) wouldn't eat them all. I went with Tony to his piano/drum lesson and was impressed by how much he has learned about the drums in so little time. He still insists he wants to play the saxophone when he gets into band next year. Time will tell. While I was gone Will helped Jake look up some recipes online for our dinner. Jake ended up making his own rub for our porkchops and he also made sweet potato fries. I had to leave the room while he was cutting the potatoes but he did a really great job. It was all really good. He was pretty proud of himself and thinks he wants to keep cooking dinner!

Monday, December 15, 2008

We had a nice weekend. Not very productive but sometimes that is ok. The one project I wanted to get done didn't. Our water heater. It needs drained. We are living on very little hot water and I don't like that. Hopefully we can do that tonight and hopefully that will solve our problem.

I did however get a large Christmas project done! Yeah. I wish I could post it but its a gift. I also got about 7 gifts wrapped last night. It felt good to get started on that.

Yesterday the younger 3 kids and I made Christmas ornaments out of Bakers Clay. We ended up having to make more than I was expecting cause I messed up the ingredients. I thought each kid could make one for the tree but we ended up making about 20! So, we may turn those into Christmas gifts! Now all we have to do is paint them and tie a sting on. Pretty cool. I think I have one of these from when I was in preschool that I made. Crazy. Here is a picture of Tony putting them into the oven. Like the new hair? Much better.

After the baking we had a jam session. The kids played drums and danced around the house. Drew is really getting into music and has some pretty funny moves!

Lastly, this is Jakes 3-D bug that he had to make for Science class. Isn't it cool? He did a really good job. I wanted to take his picture with it but he wasn't going for it so I just got the bug. I should get some pics of him today as he has his first jazz band performance downtown. I am excited to go to that. He is feeling a bit under the weather this morning so hopefully he makes it. I'll post about it later. Stay warm.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wow, only 12 days till Christmas. Time is flying. I have almost everything ready. Just need to finish a few projects, figure out 2 more people on our list, buy Jakes big gift and then...wrap it all. Hopefully I can get some of that accomplished this weekend.

I went to the Scholastic book fair on Thursday. My sister always sends me the invite in the email, and my SIL went this year and found such great deals that I had to check it out. It was way larger than I expected. Next time I need to take a list of what we already have and find an afternoon to just browse. All my boys love books so I could have spent hours and tons of money but I got what I thought I needed (ok, well we didn't need anything, it was what I wanted). I got some great books for the little boys all at 1/2 off. Books that we rent from the library every couple months. I haven't given them any. I am trying to figure out how to do that. Some might be in their stockings others might wait till Easter. The best bargain of the day though was this. I love this calendar. I get one every year and my entire life is on it. It has a column for everyone and I just write everyones schedule on it. If it isn't on the calendar it isn't happening. I live by this calendar. How much was it you ask? $1.00! I didn't know that until I checked out. Now if I could only find the planner in one of these for that cheap!

Friday was a non-eventful day. The kids and I were pretty lazy actually. Drew had his ENT apt. for his 6 month check of his ears. Everything looked great. We took Tony to get a haircut (I'll post his picture later), ran and picked up a few movies for the weekend and hung out at home. I am working at my moms shop today so Will is home with the guys. Hopefully everything is still in tact when I return home this evening! Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Well this will be short and sweet as my little darlings are up already at 6:00am. I don't enjoy mornings like this when they get up so early. It makes for a loooong morning. Jake is up and getting ready for jazz band too so our house is buzzing.

We had family night last night. We watched Charlie Brown Christmas and ate Christmas Tree rice crispie treats. Super easy just use tree cut outs and sprinkle with colored balls. The kids thought I was clever!

Also I thought I would share some crafts we have done around here. Seems like there has been a lot. I have kinda stopped focusing so much on a letter and I am just letting the kids craft for awhile. There is so many things to do this time of season.

Here are some wreaths we made. I cut the middle out of a paper plate, let the kids paint it green and then glue small red balls on it. They also made these trees using different strips of paper.

These trees were done last week when the kids has a 2-hour delay. Tony, Brodie and Drew all decorated a tree with stickers, glitter glue and markers. I just cut the trees from construction paper. My house is covered with artwork!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Our Christmas tree.

We had fun decorating last night. We watched the movie Elf while eating dinner then took a break long enough to play some Christmas music and decorate the tree. Then we finished our movie. It was a little crazy decorating. Everyone has their own box of ornaments so they were all diving in at once and pulling stuff out. Brodie just wanted to unwrap everything and toss it on the floor. Drew tried very patiently to put things on the tree but just couldn't get them to stay on. Jake was the first one done hanging all his ornaments in the back of the tree. And Tony took his time and reminisced about each and every single ornament and showed them to me.

This was our attempt at a nice photo op with the four boys. This was our best picture taken.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Here She Is!!

Our Tree!

This is when we brought it home.

The unveiling.
Before we went to bed.
This morning. I love it!

I love real Christmas trees. The house smells so wonderful now! We weren't sure how this one would look since it was all bundled up when we found it. But it is perfect. Hopefully tonight we can decorate. I will add a picture once it is finished. Now, it feels like Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

OK, so I am giving up on going out and cutting our own tree down this year. Between the weather being in the single digits and the snow storm coming I am afraid if I wait much longer then it will be Christmas! I was bummed last night when I ran to Walmart and saw 4 different vans with trees tied to the roofs! Also, all the lights and seeing every one's tree in the window makes me long for one even more. I think we are just going to break down and go pick one out at Menards. I hate to do it cause I was really looking forward to taking the kids out and cutting one but it is just too cold to have them all out trampling through the snow. Maybe next year...

This weekend was busy. I worked the open house at my moms shop all weekend. Will and all the boys went up to Colo Saturday and stayed the night. I stayed here and got tons of stuff done while they were gone. I got almost all of my gifts made. I still have one large gift left and a few details on some others. I got all the gifts sorted and gone through. I got my freezer and my stash of food downstairs all organized and inventoried ( I know, I am a nerd, it just makes it so much easier), I got laundry done, and the most important thing...I got my oven cleaned! Yeah! I haven't been able to use it since Thanksgiving because I spilled so bad in it and every time we turned it on it smelled horrible and just smoked! We don't have an automatic cleaner so I ended up having to spray it 3 times and scrub it by hand. What a pain. It's not perfect but it is functional again!

Drew climbed into bed with me at 4am this morning. He tossed and turned forever, went back to his room, came back to my room and finally fell asleep next to me at 5:30am. Go figure once it was time for me to get up. Some how it doesn't seem fair he is laying here snoring while I type this!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas is in less than 3 weeks. Are you ready :) I have shopped 2 nights this week and am happy to report that as for buying items I am about 85% done. I still have a few gifts that I need to make and 2 people I am really having a hard time thinking of something good to make or give them. I really try hard to think of something that the person would like but some people can be so difficult to buy for! Anyway, I think I am doing good and hopefully this weekend I can get everything I have gotten laid out and ready to wrap! Of course we haven't gotten our tree yet but that is ok. I really can't put any presents under the tree for fear of the fits I would encounter of a 2, 3, 10 and 12-year-old not being able to open them!

Well I am off for now since my darlings are awake. Hopefully I can post more later. Have a great day.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I have been battling a persistent migraine the last couple days. 3 days in less than a week I have had one. It is really annoying me at this point. I did get a new sample from the doctor and I believe it is working. Finally something that has given me some relief. Anyone who suffers from migraines now how horrible they can be. Everyone else seems to be happy and healthy here. Knock on wood. I am hoping for a good winter without illness this year. Last year was not nice to us.

The last couple days we have been pretty quiet. With the snow falling and me not feeling well I haven't left the house much. Tuesday night we all did head up to Colo for a Pampered Chef party hosted by my MIL. Yesterday the kids and I did some baking. We made 2 loaves of banana bread. 1 to freeze and 1 to eat. I have gotten quite the freezer of food going. I am preparing ourselves for the "30 Days of Nothing" we are going to start in January. More details on that later!

The little guys and I read some books about snowmen yesterday and then did this fun project. We glued cotton balls to card stock snowmen that I cut out. It was funny to
watch Drew because he had glue all over his fingers so the cotton was sticking to them. Brodie on the other hand is so careful not to get glue anywhere on him or he runs to grab a wash clothe! I guess I should be happy he doesn't like to get dirty or least for now he doesn't.