Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I heart Comforts for Baby

Ok first of all, that baby is DAMN cute. Not as cute as mine, but still. And my "Official BzzGuide" pamphlet has been sitting on my bulletin board for a few weeks with that cute face staring at me. Finally, a BzzCampaign that I can blog about and I keep putting it off. But no more! I'm on a blogging kick and since it's easier to Bzz about stuff you love, and use anyway, I need to get this post done and published.
Second of all (cause I have to have a second, if I have a first, right Mike?) being a Bzz Agent rocks. Don't know what that is? Well head on over to BzzAgent and check it out. I'm so glad I did 2 years ago and I've been in some AMAZING campaigns. But probably my favorite ones are anything that has to do with Kroger. So in a nutshell, become a BzzAgent, fill out some surveys that take like 5 min to do and before long you'll be invited to a campaign where they send you FREE stuff to try. Then you just need to talk about it. And it's way easier to do when you get to try stuff you already love.
Like Comforts for Baby. I stumbled upon them when Mercy was a baby. It's basically Kroger's store-brand. It's affordable and they WORK. Having three kids means I know diapers. And wipes. And all the other baby stuff you have to have. Truthfully, I'd rather cloth diaper. The older I get (and the more kids I have) the more "granola" I become, but Mike doesn't want to deal with shakin' out poops into the potty, so disposable diapers it is.
Grace had Pampers...and some Huggies. And maybe Luvs. I can't remember, she's almost 7 for cryin' out loud. But the point is, we've tried them all. And guess what. Huggies leak. Every time. Blow-out city. Pampers are great for newborns. The Swaddlers are awesome. Take em' or leave em'. Huggies wipes are the best. Well....were the best. Until I tried Comforts.
Hands-down - I will never buy a name-brand diaper or wipe again. There is no need. Well, except for Newborn size. Comforts doesn't have a newborn size (Ahem, Kroger...please get on this!)
Comforts diapers are affordable, effective and I feel good knowing I don't have blow-outs of both the diaper variety and wallet. The wipes have 2 different types that compare to either Pampers or Huggies. Personally, I like the thicker wipe, which is more like Huggies.
They also have a boatload of package sizes. Since we're nowhere near potty-training Bethany, I usually buy the box of diapers which has about 150 diapers. She's in size 3 right now, but we put her to sleep in size 4 since there's more absorbency.

Mercy is about 95% potty trained. She does pretty well during the day, but does wet the bed at night. Comfort's Training Pants come to our rescue. I love that she can pull them on easily and they are SUPER absorbent for those nights when she's had too much to drink before bed. And the design is pretty cute too.
The wipes also have a ton of packaging options. We usually buy 1 or 2 refillable bins and then the refill packs. If you buy the larger boxes, the refill packs are re-sealable so we can stash one in the car, or stroller, without the huge bin or worrying about them drying out.
Another thing I love about the diapers & wipes: they're usually on sale. The large boxes of diapers are around $20 each (15 cents a diaper), and I get coupons that I can either load to my Smith's card or paper coupons to hand in. Perks of constantly shopping at Smith's. The other day when I shopped, the wipes were on sale for 2 for $9 for packs of 216 wipes. That's 2 cents a wipe. And we use wipes for more than just the baby's bottom. They clean hands, faces, etc.
We also bought Comforts formula when I had to quit breastfeeding. We preferred the Sensitivity formula because it was low-lactose and didn't have soy. We kept Bethany on it until she was 1 and then gradually switched to whole milk.

Another thing we loved for Bethany was the food. I wish they had a line of jarred baby food. They don't, but they do have the snacks that compare to Gerber. Everything from crunchers to puffed rice snacks. These were one of Bethany's favorites:

And Mercy's. And Grace's. And the dog's if we weren't watching.

So long story short: COMFORTS ROCKS! Honestly. The only thing I'd change is the little lightening bug all over the diaper. They used to be all white with the little design on the top but changed it. It's not that bad, and definitely not a deal-breaker. But if Bethany is in a light colored outfit (like for Easter), the design shows through. I've mentioned it on Comforts FB page and it's really not THAT big of a deal, just something I noticed.

But really, this campaign is my favorite (and it's the second time I've been in a Comforts for Baby campaign!) And I tell everyone I can about Comforts (I've even stopped people in the store who looked like they were comparing them). And I've given out diapers from my purse to friends who had never tried them. And probably embarrassed my kids and husband in the process. Oops :)

#GotItFree - Diapers, Wipes & Lotion were free because I'm a BzzAgent. Rest of the stuff I paid money for cause I love Comforts for Baby!

I received these products for free to try and review because I'm a BzzAgent.
P.S. - See that blue sippy cup on the left. That's a Comforts for Baby sippy cup. From the last Comforts campaign I did. It's Mercy's FAVORITE cup. And she can't say "sippy cup" so it's really her blue "Yippy Tup". Which reminds me, Bethy is entering sippy cup phase so we'll have to go buy some more!


Visiting Family & Friends

Remember when I posted that I was going to head to Lehi when I noticed that my tires were shot. 

This is why I was heading to Lehi:

Sweet, baby James. My friend Jade had him on October 4th. He was 6 lbs 14 oz and 19" long. Congrats to her!! Oh, just looking at him gets my baby-hunger growing. But I need to be realistic.

This is his big sister Maddison. Love the outfit kiddo! :)

Jade lives in Lehi which is about a 2 hour drive from Logan, so we don't get to see her often. :( But I'm super excited that she had a healthy pregnancy and baby. Other than some slight blood-pressure issues. But both mom and kids are doing great.
Grace does pretty good as a big sister. Even to someone not related to her. Mercy...well, she's special.

He feel asleep in my arms. Oh I miss those days. But then I remember that everyone at my house is currently sleeping through the night....ya sleep is good.

Bethy had fun destroying someone else's house.

She wants a brother. Ahem, Mike??

On the way home, we made a stop at Mike's grandma's house. We haven't been to visit her in a long time. Meaning, she hasn't seen Bethany yet. And since it was her birthday (October 17th - day after our anniversary, so I'll never forget), I thought it would make a nice surprise to visit.

Great-Grandma Hedy. And Bethany. Bethany wasn't so sure.
Mercy was just relaxing. She'd only been to Great-grandma's one other time. As a baby.

Trying to get the kids to pose with grandma was easier said than done.

Best one we could get.
It was a nice visit and I'm glad we got to see her and get some pics. We'll try and go down and visit again, but it seems like life is just too busy, all the time.

Happy Birthday Mercy Jo

Sunday, October 20th was Mercy's 3rd birthday. I can't believe she's 3 already. Time is going by too, too fast. 

We only do "big" parties for birthdays number 1, 5, 10, etc. Not every one. So this was just our family and Mike's dad. We had church in the morning and then Grace had CCD and then we all just ate dinner and presents and cake. Here's a photo story of the evening.

Waiting for presents. Happy Birthday kiddo!

Normal photo op for the girls. Sillies.

I swear she constant thinks she's adopted. 

Opening gift from Grampa

CARD! Mercy was way more excited about cards than presents. In fact, she's been carrying cards around the house, and to daycare, ever since her birthday. She said she wants birthday cards for Christmas. 

Opening gift from Grammy & Pappy.

And another card! WOOT!

Yelling at Grace cause Grace wanted to help her read the card. 

Screw the present. She had a card!

Holding it up for everyone to see.

Finally to the present.

Wooden "paper dolls"

Her own Barbie from Mom & Dad

We interrupt this birthday for a call from someone (Maybe Grammy & Pappy, I can't remember) to sing happy birthday.

Candy Land from Mom & Dad

She wanted a pink cake. That was all the direction she gave me. I think it turned out pretty good!

Singing to the birthday girl

Making a wish


Oh and I made the cake "ombre". I did cheat and use a box mix and pre-made icing. The icing was gross. Ugh. But everyone liked it!

Happy Birthday to my sweet Mercy Jo!
Now we enter the wonderful 3 year old phase. And I'm totally not being serious. Three-year-olds are the devil. Wish us luck. 

Wednesday Weigh In

Or not.

My days of the week are all screwed up. I forgot to weigh in this morning, but I know it wasn't going to be pretty. I've been binging a lot lately. And went to Arctic Circle last night for milk shakes. Oops! So I'm skipping that today and focusing on other BzzAgent. I've been slacking there.

But this is what I know for weight this week. I'm down 4 lbs from last month, so I'm calling that a success, even if I'm up from last week.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday Mayhem....on Tuesday

Crazy weekend, but a good one. Got some pumpkins, did the Pumpkin Walk. Put the truck on and SOLD IT! More on that in a sec.

This week is Halloween week. Fun, fun, fun!!

Monday: Pizza (supposed to be chicken nuggets and butter noodles, but had a change of plans)
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday
Wednesday: Grill cheese & tomato soup
Thursday: Homemade pizza
Friday: shopping so we'll figure it out then
Saturday: See above
Sunday: Ditto

Only thing we really have going on is Halloween. Grace has a parade at school, and then we'll probably go Trick or Treat downtown. And then around the neighborhood. Grace is going to be a vampire, Mercy is going to be a Candy Corn Witch and Bethy is going to be a bee.

Ok, so the truck.

This all started because my car needed some new tires. Safety inspection is due in November before I re-register it. And the other day, before I was heading down to Lehi, I noticed some metal framing poking out of my tires. Not good. Figured it wouldn't be the best idea to drive on that. So took it in to a local place and they told me I needed 4 new tires. One of my rear tires had a screw in it as well. Boo. And both front tires were bad cause my alignment was messed up. So left the car and the little kids and I walked down to the library.

When we got back, they told me my brakes were shot too. Probably shouldn't drive on them. And it wouldn't pass inspection. So added on the cost of new front brakes. And rotors. Needless to say, $830 later, I was driving away with new tires and brakes and a heavy, sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach. Our emergency fund was now gone. Nothing. Empty. And when I sat down to balance the checkbook that day, we were back in the same place we were before. Out of money.

I'm so sick of living week to week. I'm so sick of watching the money we work so hard for, go to pay for our stupidity from when we were younger. We used to have 2 paid for cars. But we also had credit card debt. Then we got the bright idea to get new cars. I can honestly say, we will never have a car payment again. When we get a new car, we'll save up the money and pay for it. In cash.

So, back to the truck. I looked into, which I had heard about on Dave Ramsey. They offered us an amount that would pay off the loan and leave us with a little extra to buy a beater car. But I felt like we could get more. So on a whim, Mike put the car up on Within 5 minutes, someone had texted him asking details. Next thing you know, the guy says he'll be up the next day to check it out. He had offered $500 less than our listing price, and we just wanted it  gone with a little extra, so it was a good offer.

Then the next morning a kid called Mike offering us $500 more than our listing price. So Mike called the first guy to let him know. Turns out that guy was a car dealer. He wasn't too happy, but Mike said "sorry!" and met with the other kid. We ended up selling it for $500 less than asking because we got an inspection on it and it did need some work.

We are now $6500 LESS in debt. O.M.G. This feels crazy. And we have some cars we want to look at that we saw on for less than $2000. That we will pay cash for. Cold, hard, cash.

And after a long discussion, we're taking some money out of savings to pay off the hospital bills. We'll be down to just a line of credit and student loans by November. And without a truck payment (and subsequent registration due in Dec) and hospital bills, we'll have an extra $500 a month to throw at the line of credit. Which I hope to have paid off by my birthday. Then, all that will be left will be the student loans. It might take us a year or two to pay that off, but that's peanuts compared to the 30 years that it would take if we paid minimum payments the entire time.

Wow, I feel.....amazing. And we're not even debt free yet!

We went from not having money for Christmas to having almost $10,000 less debt and extra money to make sure the kids have a good Christmas (more on that in a later post).

And there's the possibility of Christmas bonuses from work that we've heard about (and gotten in the past) but don't want to count on, so if they go through, then we're even better off.

I'm SOOOOOO glad that we're finally on track, and on the same page, and getting our financial lives under control. It's gunna be a good week!!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday Weigh-In

It's blurry, but I wanted a pic that didn't include the weight of the phone as well. Down 35 lbs!!! So many random comments from people who come into my work and never really talk to me. Must be doing something right!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Monday Mayhem

.... on Tuesday.

Yesterday was a LONG day.

Today may be another.



But good weekend. I'll post later. Mercy is 3!!!

Food for this week:

Monday: Chicken Nuggets and leftovers
Tuesday: Loaded Baked Potato Soup in Bread Bowls
Wednesday: Grilled Chicken, veggies & bakers
Thursday: Frozen Chicken Alfredo meal w/Grands biscuits
Friday: Chicken Pot Pie
Saturday: BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches, chips, veggies & ranch dip
Sunday: BBQ Pork Enchiladas

Rest of this week: need to get new tires on the Impala. Need to make a St. Helen costume for Grace for CCD, groceries, budget for November..... lots.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

4,733,280 minutes

That's how long I've been Mrs. Dicus.

Or 78,888 hours.

283,996,800 seconds.

3287 days.

9 years.

And I have loved every moment.

Happy anniversary to my wonderful husband, Mike. I love you more today than when I said "I do".

Wednesday Weigh-in

Thirty-three pounds. 33!!!! That's crazy. I'm not in un-charted teritory. I haven't weighed this little in about...well 9 years! I remember weighing myself before my wedding and I was 133 lbs. I'm now 4 lbs away from that. And today is our 9 year anniversary (a different post on that later). But this feels good. Oh yes, it does.

Only downside is I'm out of ACE till maybe this weekend. So I just need to do this on my own. 7 lbs to go till I reach my true goal and I think I can do that before the year is over.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Mayhem

Ok last week was not crazy. Other than my stupid banking moment where I freaked out, thinking I hadn't scheduled a truck payment, so I scheduled one to come out. And it did. And I already had scheduled one. So we made 2 truck payments this month. Which normally is cool and helps drop the payment and it was almost all applied to principle....but...instacare also cashed a check that they weren't supposed to cash. And I had to make an IHC payment for an ER visit for Mercy (same day as instacare visit which is why instacare wasn't supposed to cash the check.) That doc made it be a "no-charge" visit.  Not sure why they decided to cash it 2 weeks later, but they did. And now we have a credit on the account and they're going to send me a check, but probably not till next week.

**Side Note** - So at the end of September, Mercy was jumping on the couch and long story short, ended up needing some stitches. In a very sensitive area. Instacare sent us to the ER so she could be sedated when stitches were put in, instead of just a local anesthetic. She's one tough cookie. When they put in the IV, she just looked at the nurse was then said "I got a bandaid!" But now we have that payment (no insurance...not till Oct 31). Thankfully we have a zero interest payment plan, but we had to break it up into 4 payments and I had to make the first payment that day. Which wasn't planned in the budget. 

My little Mercy and Titus. She found him and dragged him to the couch. 

So Friday was a long day and my checking account was mad at me, but thankfully we have still have a little in our emergency fund. And thankfully both of us get paid on Friday. Hooray!! But the downside is we have no money for a grocery shopping trip this week until our checks go in. I had about $20 from tips this weekend so we could get some essentials: milk, bread, etc. So here's our meal plan....

Monday: Grilled Cheese & french fries
Tuesday: Spaghetti & meatballs
Wednesday: Enchiladas with slow-cooker refried beans (never made them, hope they don't suck!)
Thursday: ..... ugh? Good question? Maybe leftovers. Maybe grilled chicken? It's on sale this week.
Friday: My parents will be here, and my mom promised Mike a "home cooked meal" so I'm leaving that up to her.
Saturday: this point we'll have money, so I'll get something then. Maybe loaded baked potato soup in bread bowls?
Sunday: Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Here's what adds on to that.

Monday: Parent Teacher Conference at 3:00. I'm teaching a SMART card class at 5:00 if anyone shows and I hope someone shows. Plus I'm working from 10-8 so busy, busy, busy.
Tuesday: I work 10-8 AND our owner is here. AND our compliance officer from the DABC will be at work to make sure we're complying and since I teach the SMART card class, there's no excuses for us not to be complying. And it's a half day at school for Grace, but thankfully Mike is picking her up.
Wednesday: Our 9 year anniversary! Wow, 9 years! What are we doing? Hanging out at home with our kids and eating enchiladas. Nice. And I'm having coffee with a friend in the morning. I need to see if coming to my house is an option. No school today, so Grace will be home all day.
Thursday: The plan is to go visit Jade and baby James. I do need to try and grocery shop in the morning. My payday is Friday, but my direct deposit goes through a day early, usually. Hooray! It's also Mike's Grandma's birthday and I might try and visit her. We haven't seen her for a while. Maybe 2 years. She's never seen Bethany. It might be nice to surprise her and let her see her great-grandkids. But it just depends on how crazy I feel after driving 2 hours to Lehi that morning.
That night my parents will roll in from hunting. Not sure on what time they'll be here, but looking forward to it.
Friday: No school again (fall break) and since my parents will be here, and since I have to work from 11-9, they're going to spend the day with my kids! Hooray! The kids are stoked to have Grammy & Pappy babysit and I'm stoked to not have to worry about daycare that day.
Saturday - I'm closing and thankfully Mike's not on call so hopefully he has a relaxing day at home.
Sunday - Mercy's Birthday! She'll be 3. OMG, she'll be 3!!! I gotta make a pink cake. That's what she wants. Pink. And mac 'n cheese cause that's what she wants all the time. I'm not working, which is nice, and after church, we just plan on spending the day with our little Mercy!

Phew. Long, long week. And now it's time to start it, so wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Paleo Lemon Artichoke Chicken

Mike went though a paleo phase for a bit and we found some good recipes. But the phase didn't last long. This, however, was one of the recipes we stumbled across and it's good. I mean G.O.O.D. Everyone likes it and it's actually pretty simple. I'm adapting it for the crockpot cause slow-cooker meals work way better for our family. 

I took a whole chicken (very affordable and easy to cook) and added a can of artichoke hearts, 1/4 cup capers, 1 medium onion chopped up and the juice of 2 lemons. It's in the slow-cooker on low for 7 hours and should be ready when Mike gets home from work. He'll probably cook up some rice or potatoes to go with it. You're supposed to add bacon at the end, but we don't have any, so this time around, it's going to be bacon-less. Sad. But still good.

Like I said, Mike found this in a paleo cookbook. This one to be exact:

He has the online version, but it's also available on Amazon. The entire recipe took less than 10 minutes to put together and adding the lemon juice after the onions means you can get rid of the onion smell on your hands :)

Wednesday Weigh In

Yup, down 2 lbs! And I'm getting to the point where I need a belt again. My pants fit great for 20 min and then they stretch out too much. That's a pretty cool feeling,

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday Mayhem

Start of a new week. Things are getting crazy. Well, this week is actually pretty calm. Looking at our schedule and not much going on, other than school and work.

But some exciting stuff happened this past weekend! My dear friend, Jade, had her baby boy! He came into this world on Friday, October 4th at 7:30ish pm. He was 6 lbs 14 oz and 19.5" long. And his name is James Robert. Beautiful! I probably won't be able to go visit until next week and I can't wait to see him, and her! Maddison's very excited to have a new baby brother.

I am also now officially a Eucharistic Minister at church. I read the schedule wrong and thought I didn't start until next weekend, but that was good cause I couldn't psych myself out. I'm going to post more about that later.

Also, had a "fun" conversation about population growth and stuff with a grumpy old lady at work last night. There will be a post about that, too. And I will be ranting. A lot.

But here's what's up for the week:

Monday - Breakfast
Tuesday - Broccoli & Beef in the slow cooker. One of Grace's favorites!
Wednesday - Lemon & Artichoke chicken (also in the slow cooker and this is paleo!)
Thursday - Mini burgers (maybe on the grill), potato salad & baked beans
Friday - Bacon Mac 'n Cheese
Saturday - Leftovers or Sandwiches or Chicken Nuggets
Sunday - Chili & Cornbread

Have a good one!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Restarting Day 1

So this is with me holding the iPad. The first time I stepped on, it said 141.3. Then it was 140.something. Either way, it's pretty good. I bought new jeans yesterday. I am now proudly wearing a size 10! I haven't done that in years. And a lot of people have been commenting on how good I look. It's funny, because I don't feel like I've been very diligent with dieting for the last few weeks. Work has been stressful, home-life stressful, money stressful. So that was good to hear.

So today, October 2, I'm going to re-start my diet. I'm going to restart ACE (I haven't taken it in about 2 weeks) and I'm going to lose those last 10 lbs or so. And I'm going to make it so next time I shop for jeans, I'm wearing a size 8!

And I'm going to try and blog a little more. And stay on budget. And save up for Christmas. And do a bunch more stuff. But mostly, enjoy my kids while they're still kids.

Old El Paso

Ever have one of those nights were you just don't know what to make for dinner? We do. All the time. And we even meal plan for the entire week. Sometimes it just feels like we're in a recipe rut and we need something to shake us out of it. I was recently invited to participate in the Old El Paso BzzCampaign from BzzAgent. I receive two Old El Paso cooking sauces (Roasted Tomato and Chile & Roasted Garlic) as well as a container of Stand & Stuff soft flour tortillas.

First thing that stuck out to me was the Box Tops For Education! We clip and save those for my daughter's school. I love finding products that have them and truth be told, I'm more inclined to chose those products verses other brands.

BOX TOPS! Score!

Then I stuck them all in my pantry and completely forgot I had them. Oops! One night a week or so ago, I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I think I had chicken enchiladas on the menu for the night. I'm more of a "make it yourself" kind of girl and I don't usually buy prepared rice mixes or enchilada sauce. I'd rather make my own. And that night I was not in the mood to make enchilada sauce. A quick glance in the pantry and I saw the cooking sauce. And then another glance in my fridge and I had some anaheim peppers from our Bountiful Basket and I knew that enchilada night had turned into fajita night.

Yes it was really 7:00 pm. It was one of "those" nights.

The chicken cooked in no time and and I added the peppers and some onions. Then the Roasted Tomato Cooking Sauce. It instantly smelled amazing. The fragrant roasted tomatoes along with garlic and chiles filled my kitchen and suddenly my kids were more interested in dinner than in TV.

I make my own spanish rice with a recipe that I found on Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity. It's found here. I added some of the cooking sauce to the rice and it turned out delicious.

Then, of course, we served our fajitas in the Stand & Stuff flour tortillas. It's a cool concept. I liked that I could add everything to my fajita without making a huge mess. Then when you eat it, you have to squish it together so really, a regular tortilla works just as well.

The verdict: I loved it. Mike loved it. They said the chicken was too spicy so they didn't eat very much. But they did eat all the sour cream off the top. Will I get them again? Possibly, if there's a good deal. Who knows, maybe the good eater (Bethy) will like them when she's old enough to figure them out. 

**I received these products for free to try and review because I'm a BzzAgent**