Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sick Day

The little boy and I spent a day together last week.  He was sick with a stomach bug and I was more than happy to stay home with him.  He spent the day on the couch, and I spent the day doing chores around the house and baking.  I made two loaves of bread and a batch of cookies.  He couldn't really eat any of it that day, but he enjoyed it the next day when he was feeling better.  I enjoyed the day at home.  I also enjoyed being with my sick boy because I knew that he would soon be better.  I have a student at school that is battling a brain tumor and will not live much longer.  His family will not have the chance for him to get better.  I thought and prayed for them today while I was home with my boy.  I can't imaging the pain they are going through.  

This weekend finds us going to honor band try outs and to the Nutcracker.  I have one more class that I have to attend on Thursday night thenmy current school.. I am done for the semester.  I am so ready and so burned out. It is also my last week at   I have mixed emotions.  I am sad to be leaving the school that I know and love, but I am looking forward to finishing school and student teaching.  This has been a long time coming and I am so ready. Then next year I will be working.  Hopefully at my current school. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

This semester

This semester is almost over.  I can't believe that I am going to student teach next semester and then I will be a classroom teacher.  Never before have I had to step out in faith than now.  Not only am I students teaching in a school that I know nothing about, i'n a grade I know nothing about (Kindergarten) but I can't work this semester.  I have to give it up to God and put faith in him.

I also have some other news.  The big girl is getting married.

It was a sweet proposal.  They are a little young to me, but they are grounded and will learn alot together.  Fun wedding times ahead.

I am getting the final Christmas presents together.  I try to get done early so that I can enjoy the holiday.  We like to make cookies and crafts, have people over, and go look at lights.  Then we can enjoy Christmas.

I am going to go back and share all of my shopping trips with you.  In an effort to keep costs low I am going to track all expenses for the next few months.  I think we are often surprise by how much of it flies away.  We have been trying to cut expenses.  We have changed car insurance and homeowners, cut off the satellite and moved to just netflix and I have been trying to shop more at Aldi and Dollar Tree for all of our needs.

I try to buy as much used as I can.  I do not like consumerism.  I am often shocked at how much people buy and throw away.  We do often buy new shoes, sock, underwear, and personal items.  I do have to buy most of our pants new.  The kids are so skinny that it is hard to find pant to fit.  I wait for a good sale then buy several.  I am short and need a petite size and they are hard to find used also, but we try.  I only buy quality used stuff.  Consignment stores are great and so are thrift stores.  There are so many options for buying used that I could go on for a long time.

Well, I have to get some things done before bed.  I will post the shopping trip and menu this week.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Fall Break

We are on fall break around here.  We have the whole week off of school and I only have to go to class on Monday night. The professor for my Tuesday night class said that if we got all of our work into her by last Tuesday night and she checked it off, then we didn't have to come this week.  I spent all day Sunday getting everything done so that I didn't have to go this week. Yeah me!

So we are going camping (in the camper) on Wednesday and coming back on Saturday.  The kids want to go shopping tomorrow at the outlets for some boot and long sleeve shirts.  I told them that we could if we could find some bargains or some buy on get one free deals.  I also need to go shopping for the camping trip and for the week after.  I don't want to have to go to a store while we are camping and I don't want to have to go out when we get back.

We are going on a picnic after church today. We are having such nice weather that I feel like we need to enjoy it.  I just love being around my kids and husband.  Some people say that they don't enjoy the teen years, but I really do.  I think this is my favorite stage yet.  They all have such interesting personalities.  I guess that none of mine give attitude or lip about stuff so that also helps with the enjoyment!

Well it is church day and I have to finish getting ready!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Weekend Happenings

Friday  night had us at the local high school football game.  The little girl plays in the high school band, so every Friday night in the fall is football.  My little nephew met us and watched the game.  He had a great time with the little boy.  The other picture is of the middle girl getting her driver's licence.  The real one that you can drive by yourself.  She did great on her test and I know that she will be a responsible driver.

The above pictures are of my shopping this week.  The first is a quick trip to Sams, the second is a quick trip to Wal-Mart and then the last is my trip to Aldi.  I spent about $70 at Aldi and $45 at Sams, which is under my $150;00 a week so I feel good about the trips.  I think Wal Mart ran me about $30, but some of that was the insoles for my shoes.  I have heel pain without good insole and that and the bubble bath would go into my household budget of about $250 a month so I am good there also.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Feast or Famine

I feel like when you have your own business, often times there becomes a feast or famine mode.  There are times when you have several jobs come in and feel really good about your fiances, and   then there are times that you are having to wait and there is little cash money.  That is where we are this week with the grocery budget.  We are waiting on payment on a few of Steven's big jobs, so we are tight right now.  It is ok though.  We can pay all of our bills, we just have to wait on a few of our wants and the cooking will be a little more creative this week.  This is why I love to stock the pantry with extras and eat that when we are tight. This is what I am thinking about making this week:

Monday:  Crock pot chili
I will use dried beans and ground deer meat that we have on hand.  I also have cans of tomatoes on hand and all of the seasoning.  This meal will be no additional money this week unless I buy some frito type chips to eat with it.  We also like to put cheese and sour cream in it, but I have that on hand also.

Tuesday :  Cream cheese chicken in the crock pot.

I have to have crock pot on Monday and Tuesday because I have class on those nights.  This meal requires chicken, cream of chicken soup, itialian dressing mix and cream cheese and pasta.  I will need the cream cheese and dressing mix.

Wednesday:  Sloppy Joes and oven fries.  Ashley usually cooks on Wednesday.  She gets home earlier from class and everyone is running out the door for church.  All I need for this is sloppy joe seasoning.  I might buy a new bag of potatoes.  The ones I have are looking a little yucky.

Thursday:  We almost always have soccer, so I want something that everyone can serve themselves, so I usually make a casserole or soup.  This week I am making chicken broccoli cheese casserole.  I already have the chicken, broccoli. cream of chicken soup, sour cream and crackers.  I will serve with a salad, so all I need are some salad makings.  I might get some more sour cream just to be sure.

Friday:  Away game for football.  We might go to the game.  If we do I will pick up a little ceasars pizza for us to eat before the game.  That way we are not spending money on concessions.

I didn't include Saturday because I really just grill some meat and make a salad.  I never know who will be here so I don't do much.  I also try to make some quick bread like banana or pumpkin bread for breakfast or snack and some wheat bread to have with dinner.  Sundays is always hamburgers and hotdogs and either homemade fries or chips.  It depends on how late church goes.

Everyone eats eggs or bagels or cereal for breakfast.  I have all of that on hand except I may need more bagels.

Lunches are packed sandwiches, fruit, chips and crackers.  I do need chips and crackers and fruit.  I have sandwich meat and pbj.

So you see, I am going to shop this week, but not for much.  We will have plenty to round out the week and no one will be hungry or crazy.  Next weekend we can make a Sams run and stock up for camping. Yeah for fall break coming in one more week.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Weekend shopping plans

Yeah we made it to the weekend.  I had to work all week for the first time in seven weeks. It is always hard to get back into the swing of things.  I need to shop for some things to round out our menu for the week and some things for the kids to take to lunch.  They normally take a sandwich, something crunchy, and some kind of fruit or veggies.  I take the same thing.  Sometimes I take leftovers if I am going to have a place to heat it up and a place to keep it cold.  Right now I am floating throughout the school system, so unless I am at my home school, then I will pack a sandwich or salad.

So here is what I am shopping for:


Trash bags
laundry detergent
sliced cheese
shredded cheese
flour tortillas
individual bags of chips
small Gatorade
small bottles of water
bag of apples
bag of some other fruit
salmon for the grill
individual bags of chips

Local Freshway;

Chicken breasts
Ground beef


sour cream
dog food

I will let you know how the shopping turns out and how much I spent.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Back to work

Why do we have to start school so early in Georgia?  I really shouldn't complain.  I had five weeks off (really seven but I worked summer school) and most jobs get none.  As my kids have gotten older, summers are a little more relaxed.  All of the older ones are working and the younger ones just like to have friends over or go on little outings.  I don't have to entertain anymore. I can work on my own projects uninterrupted. So this was a good summer.

I am only working for half of the year so that I can student teach and I am working as a full time sub.  Something different but not bad.  I try to take everything in stride which is hard for me.  I worry about stuff in the future, but I really only need to take it one day at a time.  God's got this.

I guess I am getting ready for work.  I have to leave in a bit.  Hopefully today will be interesting.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Best kind of day

Today for me was one of the best kind of days.  It was one of those days where you really don't have to be anywhere in particular and everyone is home to give a helping hand.  I had already grocery shopped earlier in the week, so I did not have much to do today.  That left me time to get my hair cut, delegate house cleaning chores, and get my laundry caught up.  I also did some baking in anticipation of the upcoming week.  I got much done, but it was at a relaxed pace and was ever so enjoyable.

I was going to share with you what I did for dinner on Thursday and Friday.  I like to do what I call bouncing meals.  That is, out of one meal I can create another.  On Thursday we had chicken fried rice and on Friday we had chicken, broccoli, and cheese casserole.  When I cooked the rice for the fried rice, I made extra for the casserole.

I have a rice cooker and this is with three cups of brown rice.  I buy it in bulk from Sams and store it in a food grade container.  I used 2/3 of this for our fried rice and the rest for the casserole.

I then cooked enough chicken for both recipes.

I just cooked it in a cast iron skillet with onions until it is done.  I used half for the fried rice and half for the casserole. 

For fried rice you can used whatever veggies you have on hand.  I used carrots, onion, frozen peas, peppers, zucchini, and broccoli.  When I prepared the broccoli I cooked enough for both recipes.

I then cooked my veggies in a big pot with olive oil and soy sauce.  When the veggies started to get crisp I added the rice and more soy sauce.  I also added two eggs and cooked them in the middle until done.  I didn't get any other pictures of the rice, but here is one in the container when we were putting away leftovers.

For the casserole I mixed the rice, chicken, and broccoli with a cup of mayo, a cup of sour cream, cheese, and a can of cream of chicken soup.  Spread it in a baking dish and top with Ritz crackers and a little butter.  I baked some homemade wheat bread to go with it.

Here is my bread and some apple muffins I made.  They are whole wheat and sugar free.  The kids gave them a thumbs up.

These are both low cost meals that are easy to prepare and healthy.  The casserole could be made healthier, but this is what my family likes.  


Several people have asked me for my recipe for canning salsa.  Every year I try to can enough salsa to last my family until the next year.  Sometimes I do well and others not so much.  I also like to have it on hand for a last minute snack to bring somewhere (such as church or a last minute invite).  I keep bags of tortilla chips on hand from Aldi, so it is a cheap and easy snack.

I normally start with either a bunch of homegrown tomatoes or a box from the farmers market.  We have been so busy and it has been so hot here that we did not plant any tomatoes this year, so I bought a box from a farm down the road from us.  I would guess that this is about 20 pounds, but I am not quite sure.

I then peal the tomatoes and cut them into quarters.  To peal them I boil them in water for three minutes and them put them in ice water.  The skins then just slip off.   After they are cut into quarters I pulse them through a food processor.  I leave them kind of chunky.

I then start to add my veggies.  This is what I like to add:

4-5 pounds of onion (I like sweet onions)
4 bell peppers
6 jalapeno peppers (I remove the membranes and the seeds but you can leave them if you like it hot)
8 cloves garlic
several banana peppers
1 bunch of cilantro

I run all of this through my food processor to get it chopped

This is my big kitchen bowl full of veggies.  I then add the spices and the other ingredients:

1 cup of vinegar
1/4 cup of salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
juice of about 6 limes

This is what I do because we don't like it very spicy.  If you want it to have more kick add red pepper or cayenne  pepper to it.  There are really not any rules except that you have to add the lime or some lemon juice for acidity.  If you can items without enough acidity it may spoil and that would be a shame after all of this work.

I also like to add about three large cans of tomato paste just to thicken it up and sometimes I will sometimes add some canning pectin.  It just depends on how thick the salsa is and how thick you like it.

I then cook it on the stove for about an hour on a low simmer.  I had to put this into two large pots.  The last half I vented the lid so that some of the liquid could come off.  How much liquid you have will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are, so this may not be necessary.  I then used my immersion blender and blended it up a little.  I still left it fairly chunky because that is how we like it.

I then fill the jars and process them in a water bath for 15 minutes.  I like to use pint size jars for my family but I ran low on jars and I did use a few quart jars.  If your family is smaller or doesn't eat as much in one sitting you may want to use 1/2 pint jars.

I think finished canning goods are a lovely sight!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Grocery Shopping

I see many people on the internet posting pictures of what they bought at the grocery store and what they cooked for dinner,  For some reason this fascinates me, so I thought I would show my own version.  I shopped at Aldi and Sams to round out the edges.  During the school year I only make it to Aldi once a month, but in the summer I have more time.  During this trip I spent $96 at Aldi and $44 at Sams.

I got the sausage and chicken at Sams along with the white cheese dip. This is what I cooked this week:

Monday:  Sausage casserole and salad
Tuesday:  Fried rice and eggrolls
Wednesday:  Sausage and biscuits with fruit
Thursday:  Chicken Fajitas and chips with cheese dip
Friday:  Spaghetti in the crock-pot.
Saturday:  Ribs, raman noodles, green beans
Sunday:  Hamburgers and chips.

Sausage casserole is an easy dish that includes browned sausage, cooked rice, green peppers and onions, cream of chicken soup and cheese.  I made homemade cream of chicken soup and we already had shredded cheese in the freezer and bulk rice.

For the fried rice I used leftover rice from Monday and added veggies and cooked chicken.  I added soy sauce and a few fried eggs.  There is not really any recipe.

On Wednesday I made homemade biscuits and used the rest of the sausage.  This was quick for running out to church.

The chicken fajitas are just grilled seasoned chicken and I sauteed some peppers and onions.  I made homemade guacamole with the avocados.

On Friday I put some spaghetti in the crock-pot before I left to take some of the kids to meet my parents at the beach.  This trip was three hours each way so I knew that I would not want to cook when I got home, so the crock-pot comes to the rescue.

The ribs were in the freezer from the last weekend. It was the small boy's request for his birthday but everyone got busy last weekend and we didn't cook them.

There are a couple of things that I think you should know.  My grocery budget along with household goods is $600.00 a month.  I try to come in under budget each month.  Every week I take $150.00 out of the bank and I use cash.  Right now I am shopping once a week, but during the school year I shop once a month and have a couple of side trips.  During my once a month shopping I will spend about $400 at once and then use $50 a week for more milk and fresh stuff.  The only thing bad about the once a month shopping is that it takes the whole day to do the shopping and the putting away.  As a result, I like to do that shopping trip during a school holiday or a long weekend.

I plan my menu and shopping list every week on Friday and then shop on Saturday or lately I have been waiting until Monday.  You got to love summer!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Officially on Summer Break

I finished the last day of summer school and now I am officially on summer break!  Summer school was not a bad deal and now I will have a little extra money to buy the big girl a new air compressor for her car!  I was planning on spending that money at the beach, but it may be needed to help fund our emergency account.  You see, I try to keep $1000 in an emergency account for unexpected emergencies.  I had just built it back up because we had to pay for some other car repairs and then the air went out on the car. Now I know air in the car is not a necessity, but I want the middle girl to drive this car and it is crazy hot here 6 months out of the year, so fix the air it is.

We have been doing VBS (vacation bible school) this week.  The only bad thing about it is that it is not over until 9:00 and after clean up we are not getting home until 10:00 and not into bed until 11:00.  Too late for me to have to get up for work the next day.  But it is only for a week and the kids are having fun and learning about Jesus.

This is a shot of how many we have at VBS.  We usually have over 200 children and right now we have 160 volunteers.  This is pretty good for a church of around 500.

So since I don't have to work today and the littlest girl brought a friend over, I told the younger two that we would go see Finding Dory.

Not exactly frugal, but fun.  I feel like we have to mix the two, fugal and fun.  We don't want to sit at home all the time, but at the same time we have to use our resources well.  Going to an afternoon movie every once in a while is great fun.  We don't go to the movies very often so it is a good treat!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Doing Summer

Well, we are in full swing of summer and everyone is busy.  The big boy, big girl, and middle girl are all working.  The girls are babysitting and teaching swimming lessons and the big boy is working with my hubby.  The great thing is that all of the kids are working for themselves and are self-employed.  I love to see the kids working for themselves and learning about money and life.  I am working summer school for two weeks.  It is only actually 8 days and three of the days is full of testing.  I am working mostly as the runner between the schools and the teachers.  It is good pay and not too bad, so it works for us.  It will be vacation money.

With everyone being at home, the one thing that we have to have lots of is food.  So, I will spend a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon getting some food together for the week.  When you have a large family, a box of cookies only lasts one sitting and will run about $3.00.  My kids snack on mostly homemade foods or fruits and veggies.  Below is a picture of what I make this weekend.  I made granola, cinnamon rolls, granola bars, whole wheat bread, and a pound cake.
I also made some yogurt to go with the granola.  .Yogurt is easy to make and cheap.  You don't have to have a yogurt maker.  I made mine in a cooler until I got the yogurt maker.

A good money saver is buying the oats and making your own granola.  I buy my oats in bulk, but you don't have to.  Just buying the large container from the grocery store is a money saver.  Here is my recipe:

6 Cups of Oats
3/4 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of honey
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat the oil and honey on the stove until hot.  Pour the oil mixture over the oats, and add vanilla, salt and cinnamon.  Spread the granola on a pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Let the granola cool and move to a container.  I like my granola clumpy, so I spread mine out in the pan and press it down before I bake it.  Make sure you have parchment paper or a silpat on the pan because the granola will stick to the pan and be hard to remove.

While you have all of your ingredients out for granola, make granola bars.  Mix 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup of honey, and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  Cook it on the stove until bubbles.  Mix with 2 cups of oats and 2 cups of cereal (I use Cheerios or rice cereal).  It is yummy and easy.    

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Going back to school as a working adult

I got the crazy idea two years ago to go back to school and get my teaching certificate.  I have been working for the last six years as a special education para pro (assistant).  I enjoy my work and would like to get paid more and be able to make more decisions in the student's education.  So I decided to get certified.  

I found a program at Mercer University that caters to working adults.  The classes are only one night a week and last 8 weeks.  You normally take 2 classes at a time and take one or two in the summer.  The schedule is doable, but not easy.  There are several things that make going back to school doable for me.  Everyone is different, so your list may be different from mine.

1.  Your family has to be on board.  I told my family that I would be gone two nights a week and that they would have to pitch in, and they agreed.  My children are also teens and tweens so this made it easier.  If my children were young or babies this would be much harder.

2.  I relied on the slow cooker.

I don't know any other way to cook and not be home.  I would get it started in the morning, and add pasta, rice, or a salad to dinner before I left.  There are some great recipes on the internet.

3.  I did much of my cleaning with wipes.

This is not very frugal, but they come in bulk from Sams and they clean a bathroom pretty quick.  I also bought swiffer refills for my floors.

4.  I grocery shopped in bulk once a month.  I would spent about half a Saturday or a school holiday and I would go to Aldi and Sams and stock up.  I would then do a quick shop in-between.

5.  I shopped online.  I ordered gifts and clothing online.  It was faster and easier than going to a store.  

These are just a few tips.  I am sure that I will come across more as time goes on.  Luckily, I only have one more year to go.  I am so excited to start teaching really soon!

Frugal Birthday Cupcakes

My kids have been at church camp all week.  Yesterday was Ashley's birthday and today is Evan's birthday.  The youth pastor said that we could bring cupcakes to celebrate.  I could have bought cupcakes at the grocery store, but when I checked the prices for four dozen cupcakes (that is how many I needed) I was floored.  It would have cost me about $40 to get that many already made.  So if you know me I was not going to pay that much so I made my own.
I got out my Bosch mixer and I just mixed two boxes of cake mix and did the recipe on the box except I used milk instead of water and added an extra egg.  I did both mixes at once since the Bosch has such a large capacity.  After that I mixed up homemade icing.  Ashley had asked for blue.  I needed enough for 48 cupcakes, but that wasn't a problem in the Bosch either.
The recipe for the icing is your standard buttercream icing, which is one stick of butter, a little milk, 1 tsp vanilla and about five cups of powered sugar.  Because I was going to take these to a pool party and we were going to be outside, I used half buttered flavored Crisco.  I didn't want it to melt.  

I think they turned out fine and it only took me about an hour and 1/2 from start to finish. I will give you my break down on the cost.  The cake mix was $1.25 each, so  $2.50 for the mix.  The liners were $1.00.  I buy powdered sugar in bulk from Sams for around $1.00 a pound and I used 2 pounds.  The Crisco ran about $1.25 for the amount I used.  I buy butter for $10.00 for 4 pounds and I only used one stick, which is about $.60.  I already had the blue coloring.  So for less than $7.00 I was able to supply plenty of birthday cupcakes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Easy, simple, and cheap meals that feed a crowd.

It is summer.  I have everyone here which is great but expensive.  All of a sudden I have 5 teens eating here three meals a day plus all of that snacking.  The older kids have jobs and are in and out and the younger ones have a constant flow of friends over and numerous trips on outings, I try to feed the seven of us dinners that cost less than $10.00.  Our budget for groceries is $600 a month, but I try to come in under budget as much a possible.  Here is a meal that we eat often. Everyone loves it and it is cheap!  It is tacos with all of the fixings.

The main reason that tacos are so cheap for us is that we deer hunt and grind most of the meat ourselves.  So instead of ground beef we use ground venison for tacos.  I also can my own salsa in the summer from home grown tomatoes or tomatoes from the farmers market.  So all I have to by are the taco shells, cheese, lettuce, sour cream and any other fixings that we want.  I buy taco shells at Aldi for $1.00 a box ( we use two), sour cream from Aldi for $1.19, cheese from Sams Club for $12.00 for five pounds (so we spent about $2.00 for the tacos), and we buy lettuce from Sams for three dollars for six heads of romaine (so about .50 for the lettuce).  The seasoning we buy in bulk, but it can't be more than .50.  So I calculate that for less than $7.00 our whole family can eat tacos.  

In this picture are some grapes that were going to go bad, so we put them out.  We will sometimes buy a $2.00 bag of chips and eat them with the salsa or buy some avocados if they are on sale and make some guacamole.  Yummy!

This meal will feed us and a few extras if needed.  We usually have some flour tortillas around that I can get out if need be.  So you see, you can feed a big family for cheap and they will eat it.  I will try to include some other money saving meals throughout the summer.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

End of the year awards

Well the school year is winding down.  Everyone is getting awards.  Here is Evan getting his for A and B honor roll.
Then we had Tyler graduate from the youth home.

Now here is Natalie getting top five percent of the sophomore class.

My kids are really smart and work hard at their school work, but that is not what I am interested in.  I want these kids to love God and be servants of him.  I also want them to be good people and love their fellow man.  If they can accomplish this, then that is an accomplishment to me.  So far my kids are doing pretty well.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Favorite Kind of Friday Night

This is my favorite kind of Friday night.  It is so relaxing.  We picked up a take and bake pizza from Wal-Mart (Yeah, no cooking) and watched a movie off of Netflix.  We watched the movie Unconditional.

I liked it.  It is PG 13 for some violence, but it is a Christian movie and has an uplifting ending.  We popped popcorn and made flavored coffee so life is good.
Tomorrow I am going grocery shopping early.  I do hate to go on Saturday, but I really don't have any other day. I do wish I could work part time and have a day during the week to shop, but I don't.  I get so spoiled in the summer.  I love having the stores all to myself to shop.  Tomorrow is Aldi and Sams (maybe) and the bakery outlet.  I will also hit Kroger up for some sales if there are any good ones.  I am working to trim the grocery budget so I have to shop smart.
Well, I have some bananas that I want to slice and put in the oven and then put some laundry away.  I do love my new dryer, but it does make it so that I have to put more clothes away more often.  I will post my shopping trip if I get a chance.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Year

We made it through the new year mostly unscathed.  Christmas was enjoyable.  My mom and dad came over and so did my sister and her family.  I love having little kids here at Christmas.  I did not like the excess of presents for the little kids.  I know that they are little and all, but I like for children to have a few quality toys and learning and art supplies, but not toys to excess.  I know my kids had too many toys and if I had to do it again they would not have plastic junk, just a few high quality toys.  Oh well, not my battle.

We also had a large group from the church over for new years.  This year we decided to shoot off fire works and our black lab got in the way.  He ran up and picked up a lit rocket and was killed.  Yes we were careful with the kids, but never imagined that the dog would do that.  The kids were a little sad and so were we. 

So school has started back and we are having a full we this week.  Back to college for me too.  I like it except for the late nights.  I prefer to stay home by the fire.

Here are a few pictures from the girls mission trip.  So proud of them!