Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Finally a new post! We have been super busy since Don became the pastor at Faith Lutheran. It seems like life has just been go, go, go for several months now. But we know that this is to be expected for a new pastor in a new position and we know things will slow down a little after Christmas and Advent are over. The people at Faith have been wonderful to him and our family. We've had several babysitters so we can go out for the evening, people sometimes sit with the kids and me during worship, we've been blessed to be invited to share meals and/or dessert and playdates with various members at their homes as well. We are so very blessed!

I've been attending MOPS at a nearby church and serving as a volunteer Field Leader/Community Coach for MOPS International. I have attended a few LWML meetings, spend lots of time driving kiddos to school and try to make it to the gym a couple times a week. I've been trying to cook healthier for our family...meaning I've cut out a lot of processed foods and am trying to cook more from scratch, using more whole grains, etc. To that end, I've been doing most of my grocery shopping from WinCo. Most of their prices are lower than other grocery stores (especially the produce) and I'm able to buy so many items in bulk for waaaayyy cheaper than any other way. I can get organic oatmeal for $0.97/pound (no more flavored packets), popcorn (no more microwave), nuts (yay! Healthy, but usually so expensive), cereal, rice, other whole grains, herbs & spices, and sooo many more. I love that I can start my shopping trip with a long list, hit the produce section, the bulk foods section, then get eggs, dairy and meat (all of which is called "shopping the perimeter") and by then, all that's usually left on my list is pasta, canned beans, and bread.

Total: less than $8

So far, this has helped keep our grocery budget to a manageable level, but I'd like to bring it down even more. I just learned about an e-book called
"2012 Family Guide to Groceries under $250 a Month" and I can't wait to see what ideas it will have. I'll be sure to check back in and let you know how it goes!

Hannah is 7 1/2 and still loves arts and crafts. She started Girl Scouts this year and has been enjoying her meetings and activities so far - their first badge will be a painting badge!  Her leader is a member of our church and it's been a great way to meet more friends. Hannah is in 2nd grade and loving it. She is starting to multiply and is reading lots of chapter books - she has over 1,000 recorded minutes of reading time so far this school year. For those of you who are familiar with Accelerated Reader (AR), her initial goal for the first trimester was 3 points. She earned 15. And that's probably all we need to say about her. :-)
Hannah with an art project

Preschool field trip
Bethie is in a Pre-K class at Faith. She has already lost 5 teeth and began reading a few months ago. Preschool is helping her be a little more outgoing, be more comfortable speaking in front of other people, and all that playing on the playground is helping her develop her gross motor skills. It's been a fun transformation to watch.

Noah's 2nd birthday
Noah is 2 1/2 and grows more physical each day. He loves going to Kids Club at the gym where he can run, climb, and play. He loves cars, trucks, and diggers, but it seems like his true, deep passion is for the drums. Literally everything in our house is/will be/has been a drum. He drums with wooden chopsticks mostly, but anything stick-like will become a drum stick sooner or later. He has discovered the drum set at church and as soon as church is over he makes a beeline for them and begins pounding if I'm not fast enough to catch him. Many people at church have said that he really has some rhythm, so we're guessing that drum lessons (and a soundproof room?) are in our future.

Merry Christmas to each of our friends and family. I pray that the season finds you celebrating the birth of Christ and joyfully anticipating His second coming. God's blessings,
--The Rays