Saturday, August 27, 2011

Beach Trip 2011

I'm sure all of you have been dying to know what we've been up to for the past 2 weeks. Well friends, life has been just grand. We just got back from a week long beach trip to Destin. It was the best. Great weather, great family time, great food and drink--what else does anyone need? We headed down to the beach last Saturday, a couple hours later than planned due to a slight health scare from David. Luckily, it was nothing more than inflamed gallstones. Praise the Lord for good health. I think we are all guilty of taking our good health for granted, but that's another post for another day.

So, we headed down to Destin last week and met up with DeeDee and Graga, Gammy and Grandpa at our condo. We weren't quite sure what to expect from Ella, given that the last time she was on the beach, she wanted no part of the sand. So, in an effort to head off any potential sand freak outs, about 3 weeks prior to our trip, I began telling Ella that when we got to the beach, she could go tt in the ocean. You would have thought I told her Santa had brought her everything on her wish list. She was so excited. A little too excited in that everyone she talked to, the first words out of her mouth were "when I go to beach, I can go potty in the ocean". I was a little scared in that I didn't want to undo potty training. Thankfully, we are still good to go in that area.

The trip was perfect. Ella loved the beach and the sand, but there were still a few times we had to carry her because she didn't like the "owie" sand. Finley, absolutely hated the sand. Like, she would freak out every time her chubby little toes came in contact with it. So, she spent a lot of time on towels, in the tube on water (LOVED it), and basically, anywhere but the sand. Ella loved looking for crabs at night too. She loved her floaties, boogie boards, and tube. And, she LOVED that fact that our beach rental had its very own elevator. Every time we needed to go up or down stairs, we took the elevator. Finley had a great week too and is so close to walking, she can almost taste it. Once we discovered she hated the sand, we thought that might be the catalyst to get her going, but it didn't happen. She can stand on her own and do enough squats to make David jealous, but she's just not too sure about taking some steps on her own. She will sneak in a couple and I suspect it will be about a week until she's off for the races. She has however, mastered the art of blowing kisses and it makes me want to eat her every time she does it.

We started a tradition on our last trip that each couple has to cook one night, complete with an appetizer, main course, side, dessert, and the most important--a signature drink. I'm happy to report that we continued our tradition again this trip. We ate like kings the whole week and I came away with lots of new recipes with stuff I've never even heard of. Like wheat berries. They are so good thanks to DeeDee and Graga. And, I'm now a big fan of anything made in a Mongolian hotpot thanks to Gammy and Grandpa.

It was a great trip and David and I are beyond blessed to have the parents and in-laws that we do and way beyond blessed that they get along so well with each other. You all are so special to us and know that we appreciate all the stuff you do for us and our girls. Thank you all for a fun, special, and memorable vacation.


***This is my beach PSA for parents with kids. The next time you go to the beach, be sure to pack your baby powder. This stuff does miracles in getting sand off hands, feet, bellies--anywhere really. I was super skeptical about it at first, but you just sprinkle a little bit of it on the sandy area, rub it in, and say bye bye to sand. It literally falls off. Trust me, you will be amazed too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Coupon Update

I mentioned in my last post that I recently took a coupon "class" from my friend Leslie. She totally gets the system and knows how to work it. I have to admit that I've become a little obsessed, ok a lot, in clipping coupons and saving money. I've never been so excited to get a paper in my entire life than I was on Sunday morning. I even bought a big expandable file to try and keep everything organized. David told me I was going a little overboard with things when caught me clipping coupons at 5:30 on Friday morning and every conversation I had with friends this weekend revolved around couponing. I know. I'm a nerd. He's been making fun of me ever since.

This weekend I attempted to put all the stuff I learned to use. So, for my first trip I went to CVS. I spent a total of $60 (but $15 of that was a gift card so that doesn't really count right), I saved $20, got a free $10 gas card, and $3 back in extra CVS cash, and another $4 store coupon. And yes, it was all stuff we needed like diapers, pet treats and Diet Coke. Not too bad for a a first timer.

My second attempt was at Publix yesterday afternoon. I spent a total of $125 and saved $30. I got really excited when I checked out and I actually had a stack of coupons to hand to the cashier. It was so much fun. Yes, I know this confirms my nerd status. We normally spend around $125-$150 per week on groceries (crazy!), so I wasn't too impressed with my savings, but I guess it wasn't too bad for my first go around. I've found that it's really hard for me to resist buying something simply because I have a coupon. I don't want to save a lot of money, but wind up spending twice as much as I normally do on stuff I don't need.

Does anyone else out there coupon? If so, what are your favorite coupon websites or overall easy money saving strategies?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Check-Up, Coupons, and a Movie

We had Finley's 1 year check up on Wednesday. The doctor was pleased with how everything looked and most importantly, she's healthy and happy. Except for when she got her shots. It wasn't pretty, but she was fine about 2 minutes after. Ella went with us and it was quite a challenge to listen to the doctor while holding and tired and fussy 1 year old and trying to keep a 3 year old quiet. Sometimes I think a 3rd arm would come in handy. Anyways, our sweet baby weighed in at 21.5 lbs (55th percentile), 29.5 inches (75th percentile).

One of my friends, Leslie, in our Sunday School class is a master couponer. Like, really really really good at it. But, she's not one of those scary "extreme couponers" you see on TV. Her house isn't stuffed full of BBQ sauces and Mallox. She's way organized and really knows how the system works. Luckily for us, she decided to share her wealth of knowledge with us at a gathering this week. She's kind of like the coupon Yoda. I learned so much from her! She said she saves around $60 a week on groceries. If I could even do half of that, I would be over the moon excited. It's going to take some leg work, but I can't wait until the coupons come out tomorrow. She also told us about an amazing website, www.southernsavers.com. If you haven't ever checked it out, you for sure need to. I also learned from Leslie that some grocery stores, automatically double coupons up to 50 cents. And she said that one should never pay for toothpaste and cleaning supplies because you can basically get them for free depending on the deals, coupons, and circulars. It's like a whole new world and I can't wait to get started. I think there was even mention of a competition among all my friends that were there as to who can save the most money each week. I'm all about a competition so look out ladies.

And last but not least, I saw The Help last night with some girlfriends. It's right up there with "Steel Magnolias" and "When Harry Met Sally". It's one of the best movies I've ever seen so go see it!!! Even if you haven't read the book, go see it. And then read the book after. You will laugh and cry so hard and want to hug your friends, babies, mom (in-law too) once it's over. It gets 5 stars from this movie critic.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Broken Record

We've been having some what I've been told is normal toddler behavior around here. Seriously, if I had a $1, scratch that, if I had 10 cents, for every time I've had to repeat myself lately, we'd have enough money for Ella and Finley to go to college and each get a PhD. I mean, I don't know if I'm not talking loud enough or if Ella is good at tuning me out, but I have to repeat myself or ask her to do the same thing over and over again. Last week Ella went to bed without supper one night, her bath the next night, and then her prized popsicle the next night all because she didn't do what we asked of her. The night she went without a bath was also the night she got a spanking, one of her first, and she quickly told me "mommy, that hurt me". I think it's beginning to click with her in that when I ask her to do something, I expect her to do the first time or she gets in trouble. I also tell her every morning that she better put on her listening ears for the day. And then it's really cute because she pretends to put on actual ears. To her credit, she's getting much better (thank the Lord) because now when I ask her to do something, she usually does it right away and then tells me "see mommy, I listen to you". Here's an example of when she did not listen so well:

Me: "Ella, it's time to pick up your toys. I want to pick up all your balls and put them in their bin".

Ella: "Ok mommy".

After I finish cleaning up after dinner, I go back into her playroom and find her sitting on the couch, trying to turn the bin over with her foot and not picking up her toys.

Me: "Ella, what are you doing"?

Ella: "Not picking up my toys".

Now, I know this is probably one of those things where you had to be there to fully appreciate the humor, but I near about died when she said this.

And then speaking of humor, a few weeks ago, David found Ella putting 2 plastic toy balls down her "pahn-ties". David asked her what she was doing and she said, "look daddy, I'm a boy". She's so smart.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Good News and a Year in Review


Awesome news...baby Frances made it through surgery and everything looks good. God is good. You can read all about this precious baby on the "McCalley Family" blog.


Since we just celebrated a full year of Finley being with us, I thought I would share some pictures of the past year. Keep in mind that she screamed for the first 6-7 months of her life and there is 1 picture that truly captures how not happy she was.
























Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Prayers

Good Morning Friends! As you are reading this, I ask you to please say a special prayer for sweet baby Frances. She has a big surgery tomorrow and I know prayers are appreciated. You can read about precious baby Frances by clicking on the "McCalley Family" link under the Blogs We Like Section. Sending lots of good thoughts and prayers your way (and to your family as well) sweet baby!