10 Goals For This Week (& I think I’m *finally* getting over jet lag!)

10 Goals

Whew! I had no idea that jet lag would hit me like it did when I got home. I have slept so, so much since I got back from South Africa!

I’m usually someone who can push through, if need be, when I’m tired. But jet lag has been a powerful force to be reckoned with! The first few days, I slept much more than I was awake. And now I’m finding that I can usually barely keep my eyes open after 7:30 p.m. at night!

The last few nights, as I’ve started dozing off so early, Silas will come up and shake me and say, “Mom, please don’t go to sleep again!”

Jesse and the kids have been incredibly kind to let me catch up on rest and they’ve done most of the cleaning, cooking, and laundry while I’ve been mostly a walking zombie. :)

Gratefully, the 8-hour time difference in South Africa has worked some in my favor because my body has adjusted to going to bed really early (7:30 to 8:30 p.m.) and getting up really early (I’m waking up — without an alarm clock! — at 2:30 to 3:30 a.m.) I had hoped to get back on a good early to bed/early to rise schedule in 2015 and this sure kick-started that habit!!

After taking the last five days mostly “off” from my normal responsibilities, I’m feeling mostly all rested and energetic and ready to jump back into the swing of things around here.

My goals for this week:

Marriage/Mothering/Homemaking Goals

1. Continue on with our Morning Time routine. Read aloud for at least 20 minutes every day.

2. Write a love note to Jesse.

3. Finally get our Christmas thank you’s mailed (can I plead the fact that I was in South Africa for the lateness of these??)

4. Clean out the refrigerator. Get caught back up on laundry.

5. Take Kathrynne on a special one-on-one outing for her birthday.

Personal Goals

6. Exercise at least 4 times (I’m trying out these BeFit in 30 workouts + doing a little jogging/running.)

7. Finish at least two books.

8. Knit a Cosy Posy Ear Warmer.

9. Try two new Trim Healthy Mama recipes: Sugar Free Hot Chocolate Mousse and Fancy Grilled Cheese on Coconut Flatbread.

Business Goals

10. Finish my first round of book edits.

How did you do on last week’s goals? What are your goals for this week? I’d love to have you share your progress on last week’s goals and your goals for this coming week in the comments. Of, if you’ve blogged about it, leave your direct link below. Let’s cheer each other on to live purposeful and productive lives! You can download a free customizable weekly goal-planning sheet here.


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20 Ways to Raise a Baby on a Budget

Young pregnant woman sitting on sofa and holding blue baby shoes in room

Guest post by Sarah of Saving Money Never Goes Out of Style

When most parents find out they are expecting, they are so excited; but after that, comes the panic.

You wonder how you will be able to afford a baby, with all that he or she needs, and not go bankrupt doing so. The good news is that you can rest easy.

As a now-single SAHM, it’s important for me to raise my kids on a budget. Thankfully, there are many ways to achieve this. Here are 20 ideas:

20 Ways to Raise a Baby on a Budget

1. Breastfeed if you can. Formula is extremely expensive, and while there are programs out there to help you pay for it and coupons galore, breastfeeding is the cheapest option for most people.

2. Borrow a breast-pump. If you choose to breast feed, the pump can often cost more than you can afford. Look for programs in your area that allow you to borrow them.

3. Make your own wipes. Baby wipes can add up and making your own just takes a few minutes.

4. Use cloth diapers. The initial investment may seem steep, but the savings will add up very quickly. {For some creative ways to save money on cloth diapers, check out this post on How to Cloth Diaper for Practically Free.}

5. Make your own baby food. It’s better for baby, anyway, and it’s so simple.

6. Trade babysitting time. Instead of pay for a sitter, trade babysitting time with other parents.

7. Buy used clothing. Babies grow so fast in the first year or two that it makes more sense to do so. Also, skip shoes. They don’t need them until they walk, anyway!

8. Keep baby in a bassinet with you the first few months. This will give you time to save for setting up a nursery!

9. Create your nursery with a budget in mind. Don’t spend too much on building your own nursery. You can find many things gently used in this area as well.

10. Ask for freebies. Companies love to give new parents freebies. Just do a quick hunt online and don’t forget to also ask your child’s pediatrician for some, too.

11. Buy items that convert. There are many things (from beds to car seats) that convert as the child grows. They may seem costly at first, but they save you money down the road when it comes time to replace things.

12. Use coupons. Diapers, formula, wipes, and even baby furniture can be bought with coupons, Just sign up on the manufacturer’s websites and they will usually flood you with them.

13. Keep your baby’s products simple. Babies have sensitive skin, it’s true. However, you don’t need to spend all your money on special baby products when you can use simple, natural things like coconut oil, Aloe Vera, unscented lotions, and so on.

14. Have a friend be your photographer. Many new parents spend so much money on baby pictures and newborn photos. You can take some lovely ones right at home with just a little practice and some good lighting. If you do go pro, sign up for newsletters to places like Sears and JcPenney’s as they have a lot of promotions that cost as little as $10 in and out the door.

15. Make your own baby-wearing wrap. This can often be done even if you don’t know how to sew. Baby wraps can by costly, but making your own doesn’t have to be.

16. Change your mind. The culture we have here is very consumer driven. One of the biggest targets is new moms and dads. Be aware of this and you may find that you spend less.

17. If you need new, shop at discount stores. Places like Burlington Coat Factory, TJ Maxx, or Tuesday Morning offer an entire section that is devoted to department store baby products. These items are 20-60% off the prices at other stores.

18. Skip bibs. Instead buy shirts that are too big for your child. They can be washed easier and they grow into them for messy toddler play later.

19. Borrow things you don’t need for long. If the item is something you only need for a couple of months, such as a baby bath, neck rest for the car seat or Moses basket, see if you know anyone you can borrow it from.

20. Get creative. Sometimes, we can avoid buying something if we get creative. Just think of things you have around the house and see if they will double for what you need them for. {Note from Crystal: Here is my list of the only 6 things I think you truly need for your baby.}

Raising a baby does not have to put you into dire straits. With a little creative thinking, you can save a lot of money!

What ideas would you add to this list? Do you agree with everything on this list?

Sarah is a stay-at-home mom of two wonderful children with a mission to prove that you don’t have to have a lot of money to live a quality life. Sarah loves encouraging others through her blog: Saving Money Never Goes Out of Style.

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A Peek Into Our Week: A new homeschooling routine, fort-building, celebrating our 12th anniversary, and She Reads Truth

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After a few weeks of Christmas break, traveling, and sickness, we were back to homeschooling and a regular schedule this week. And I was shocked at how well the week went.

Usually, easing back into a routine after a few weeks off is hard. But this week everything felt so smooth and calm.

I really attribute it to the grace of God, giving the kids a clear picture of how our tweaked schedule was going to look, getting them excited about how we had changed things up a little bit, writing out a to-do list for each child every day (they loved this and were highly motivated by it), and instituting Morning Time as part of our homeschooling schedule.

They loved Morning Time so much that they asked if we could please do it on Saturday, too! I am so grateful for this excitement and new life breathed into our homeschooling and am hoping this momentum continues! Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 9.01.11 PM

I am loving the She Reads Truth John study this month. Jesse surprised me with the Yearly Membership to She Reads Truth as my Christmas gift and I can’t tell you how thrilled I was!

These studies have challenged me, encouraged me, and inspired me to dig deep into God’s Word. If you are looking for a great Bible study/devotion, definitely check it out. You can get the daily Scripture reading/devotional for free online and just use a notebook to record what you’re learning/studying/praying.

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We also started using The Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner this week. I’m divvying up the daily chores amongst myself and the kids and that seems to be working well.

I’m curious to see if this is a good fit for us long-term… we’re committed to try it out for a few months to see how it goes!

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I’ve been doing a LOT of reading recently. It’s been so soul-filling for me to get back to making reading a regular part of my every day after a few months of not being so intentional about it. And I’m just loving the variety of books I’m reading.

You can see what I read last week and what I’m reading this week here.

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12 years ago today, I married my childhood sweetheart. We were full of big dreams, completely idealistic, and incredibly naive.

We’ve experienced a lot, moved a lot, failed a lot, fought a lot, and grown a lot in these last 12 years. While the years and struggles have made us quite a bit more realistic about life (and maybe a wee bit cynical!), two things haven’t changed: we’re more madly in love than the day we got married and we still want to spend our lives doing all we can to make a difference in this world.

Only God knows what the next 12 years will hold, but we are grateful to be following a God who is always faithful and never changing.

{Thank you, Jesse, for the beautiful anniversary flowers, thank you for 12 amazing (and eventful!) years, and thank you for loving me and believing in me — even on those many days when it’s the last thing I’ve deserved. I love you with all of my heart!}
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Today’s frugal fun: Fort-building in the dining room. We don’t have a table in there yet, so I’m happy to see the area be put to good use!

The kids had a blast setting it up with me and then had popcorn and watched a movie in their tent so Jesse and I could enjoy an at-home anniversary date!

How was YOUR week? Anything exciting or interesting happen? Tell us about it in the comments.

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DIY Experiment: A quick fix for scratched hardwood floors

A quick fix for scratched hardwood floors

When I saw this post on an Easy Fix for Scratched Hardwood Floors, I knew I had to try it. Our floors in our rental are very scratched up and I’ve been on a mission ever since we moved to figure out ways to improve how they look.

I bought some of the Howard Restor-A-Finish on Amazon with my Swagbucks credit and was excited to try it out this week.

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I chose a spot that was pretty bad but also in a fairly inconspicuous place. See above for the scratches before I tried Restor-a-Finish on them.

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And here is how they look after using Restor-a-Finish on them. I can’t tell that much of a difference up close, but I think it looks somewhat better from a distance.

I think this would work even better on wood with darker finish. I also would recommend starting out pouring on less of the Restor-a-Finish to make sure you’re happy with the results in a small area before you dump a bunch on a larger area. :)

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve scratched hardwood floors? Did you try an do-it-yourself projects this week? If so, how did they turn out for you?

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