Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Farm in "Chunky" Mississippi

We ventured to the Pumpkin Farm here is the sprawling metropolis of Meridian to get pumpkins for our family to either carve or paint (Bonnie does not like to carve them because she says it hurts the pumpkins- I know she is a crunchy tree hugger, what can I say she was born in California). Well we got there and discovered that they had a few activities for the kids to do (hay maze, train ride, punkin chunkin, petting zoo) so in true Dill spirit we decided to do it all and make a day of it. The petting zoo was eeehh..., the corn maze was fun it was one of those you can only make right turns so naturally Bonnie and Daddum figured it out in about 30 seconds and the train ride was laughable because Daddum got suckered into riding with the kids and the train was quite small in size...big man in a little train much?? It was freezing the day we went and yet today it is humid and uncomfortable as I type this post out--yay to living in the South/Gulf Coast/Humidity USA!! All in all it was a blast and at the Farm there were vendors so naturally Mama and Daddum gravitated towards the home made habanero salsa; needless to say we bought three Ball canning jars of Home made salsa and all but half of one is left. What can I say we are some spicy folks around here..Clyde andDaddum polished one jar between the 2 of them!!! Enjoy the pics and feel the good family times coming thru the computer at your face...its kinda like least we think so!!

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
--1 John 4:7,8

Becoming a better Family Manager

So as the "family manager" (which I think is a lame title because I feel like Daddum and I make decisions as a unit) of my clan I have come to realize through great family (like MY mama) and great friends (all my TTM girls and military girlfriends) that there were changes that needed to be made. First and foremost, the grocery budget- OUT OF CONTROL!! I think back to what we were spending 6 months ago and I shudder at the amount of money we were just throwing away because I was too dumb (for lack of a better word!!) to use the magic "free" money that came to my house every Sunday----COUPONS!!!

Daddum had a friend who's wife had this website that showcased her frugal lifestyle (and gave out lots of tips to newbs) and out of sheer curiosity I started to e-creep on it and read about her money saving ways. At first I thought it was a hoax, this lady had to be lying--there was no way she could get all these things and spend little to no money. To say I was envious is a HUGE understatement, I was flat out green with ENVY!!! She has a family of 9 and spent in a month darn near what I spent every 2 weeks on my family of 4. Unbelievable right?? So I started to test the waters, I bought one newspaper on Sunday and was a total brand snob and clipped 5 coupons used them at the Commissary and was pleased. But my savings were but a drop in the pond of I started "swaggin" coupon blogs, coupon sites, pretty much anything to do with the coupons. And I educated myself, and it took time and I tried different stores, and different tactics and then BLAM!!! I went on my first "shop" to my favorite store on the PLANET---PUBLIX and I used my new coupon knowledge and Mrs. C's tips and I DID IT!!! I spent $6.00 on over $40.00 worth of groceries!!! Daddum went with me to be moral support, and as we were walking out I ALMOST CRIED!!! I was sooo excited...and sooo totally hooked!!!

I developed a set of blogs that I checked daily and became active followers on. My fave blog hands down, no questions asked is The Thrifty Mama!!!
I met an excellent set of friends, learned sooo much and gained more knowledge about coupons i.e., buy multiples copies of the paper, Internet printables, trades, ebay, overage, CVS (I heart CVS), living green and all natural (still working on that but getting lots better!!). Between the blogs, calling customer service at 5 different grocery/drug stores (to find out their coupon policy), trial and error, prayer and pure luck I developed my couponing ways. I initially set a goal for our clan, cut grocery budget in half and try to stockpile enough daily necessities for a full 12 months. This included soap, shampoo, toothpaste, razors, (I know expensive right?) air freshener, tp..etc. First, I had to let go of brand loyalty, I know I know everyone loves that brand of face wash or shampoo or bread but lemme tell you....GET OVER IT!!! Second, it takes work so be ready to dig and get serious...I've said it before and I will say it again...its not for the faint of heart and this is definitely a situation where you get from it what you put into it...soo WORK HARD AND SUCK IT UP!! Third, it takes may save $10-40 or better the first few weeks but it will be a few weeks before you really start to see the difference its making in both your stockpile and your overall budget. At least that's what it took me, maybe you will fare better than I did. Now it has been almost six months and I am UBER pleased to say that our grocery budget is now a third of what it once was!!! Not to mention that our stockpile is HUGE!!! It is not uncommon for me to spend $3-$5 on a grocery trip and although I tend to have piles (small ones) of coupon inserts in the living room, desk, or van (sorry Daddum I am working on getting & KEEPING them all together) and I lug a huge 3 inch coupon binder with me EVERYWHERE (you never know when you will catch a great clearance, hidden sale for a penny in for a pound right?). It works, coupons work! And a hidden plus since we (and I say we because it takes a effort on ALL our parts, and no one but me likes to be in the grocery store for 2 hours...thanks FAMS FOR PUTTIN UP WITH ME!!) starting couponing we have been able to do 2 things which I love..First, we eat probably 50 times better than we ever had, we eat about 50% or more organic, all natural and yay because really who likes preservatives. Second, we try so many new and "expensive" products that cooking and meal planning I think (and if you ask Daddum his opinion may differ) has become sooo much easier because we are rarely bored with what's in our pantry.

So in closing and I blog this paragraph with total seriousness: couponing has changed my life. It has changed the way I shop, the way I look at the money and most importantly how much I value my role as a stay at home parent/wife. I felt like it was my duty to make Daddum's hard earned funds stretch as far as they could, and through these means I have been able to do that, and I am getting better at it everyday. My job is in this home and I feel that this is where my calling is to be forever. Through this whole process I have learned alot about myself, my household, and my family..I hope I can take this new found knowledge and run with it...I feel like the success in my role of "home manager" depends on it. So wish me luck...extreme couponing calls my name and I need to check my blogs before I hit the hay. It's a healthy addiction I swear and its my new way of life now....YAY TO COUPONS...YAY TO SAVING MONEY!!!

"The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support the ultimate career. "
C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


treadmill cartoon Pictures, Images and Photos

Soo within the past week I have started to exercise regularly. And while its no joy, sadly I am not one of those people who enjoys working out...I think it is making a difference. I am not going to get any swimsuit models jobs just yet, I feel like I have more energy, more calm and I am gaining a huge sense of accomplishment everyday from doing something constructive for myself. I think as a parent, military wife and extreme coupon-er sometimes I forget to take time just for me, doing something that will have lasting positive effects for me- and only ME. Not for Daddum and not for the kids, just me.

Now exercise is healthy and I am not going to drone on about how we all need to do it, endorphins releasing, blah blah blah...we know that. But I feel good about myself after doing it...really good!! And I am fortunate enough to be married to a wonderful man who belts out encouraging and motivating sentiments me when I am elliptical-ing (and struggling for oxygen!). So he is definitely playing a major part of my success. And I have a goal in this, I would like to get back to my pre-second baby weight (which I am not going to divulge..a lady never weighs and tells!!) so that I can hopefully (with the help of JC) get pregnant all over again and expand the Dill clan. I think I have a long road ahead of me, and I would like to eventually work some Yoga into my routine (I do enjoy a lil Crunch Yoga Body Sculpt with Bethany from time to time...) and some pound-age to lose but hopefully THIS time I am in this for the long haul and I can keep my eye on the prize. If anyone has any tips for staying motivated or any good beginning Yoga/Tai Chi DVD's I would love to hear them!! I am fa sho nuff a fitness newb and I honestly need all the help I can get. Here's to rawwkkinn the workouts and burning the calories!!

"He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything."

Arabian Proverb

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shameless self promotion

So for my first post I thought I would go with a little self promotion. This is a video the myself and two other flight students put together for Primary Flight Training at Whiting Field in Milton, FL. This is the first "flying" phase of training on the road to becoming a Naval Aviator.

Primary Flight Training

This should give all of you out there in the blogosphere some idea of what my job is all about. We obviously like to work hard and play hard, and the job itself is a lot of fun. So this is what consumes the majority of my time. Studying, briefing, flying, de-briefing, rinse and repeat. I hope you enjoyed it. I plan to post more as my training progresses, and as anything else pops into my mind that I feel others would care to hear about.

"Bonnie & Clyde"

I decided (as the Mama) that this first post is going to be about the reason we do it all. The children. They are the reason for everything...from the commissioning to flight school to laundry to dinner at the table, (NOT on the couch like the parents want too!!). They truly are the light of our lives and our reason for getting up and coming home everyday. Soo here are our two wonderful blessings abridged versions..otherwise I could go on all day. Proud Mama and all that.

"Bonnie"...ohh what to say...Bonnie is Bonnie. When Daddum and Mama found out there was going to be a parents to a "Bonnie" we were soo excited quickly followed by totally terrified. We were going to be young parents (pregnant at 20 and 21), and we married young so we kind of knew what we were getting ourselves into, however "Our Plan" was to not start a family until we were 25. Haahh! Who knew? But the day she graced us with her arrival (after a very long and arduous labor) it was as if my whole life had been spent on a dark planet and suddenly I had found my sun.
As Bonnie grew she learned to talk early, walked late and was a girly diva even back then; her favorite color is pink and she loves all things High School Musical. She is so intelligent its frightening-just like her Daddum, and I feel like in another year I am going to run out of things to teach her. Her easygoing and loving personality makes me so proud to be her parent because she is just such a great kid. With her long curly locks, (that by the way we have noo idea where they come from) and big smile she has this amazing ability to just light up the room with her presence and her fun nature naturally draws friends to her everywhere she goes. Bonnie is cautious and methodical in most things but haphazard and a little tornado when it comes to others...she takes comfort in organization but excels in chaos as well. She makes me feel like as a Mama I am doing everything right and that even on my worst day it can't be all that bad because I created and nurtured such an amazing person so I am doing something productive with myself. She puts the Parents in our place, more often than we like to admit, with her infallible logic and she has this boundless love for her family, friends and random animals.
Bonnie has faith as a 5 year old that I think most adults couldn't cultivate, its comforting as her Mama that when she feels herself "frweeeakin" (she has trouble saying her r's) out or just because, she prays. And more often lately she is expressing a desire to become more educated on the Bible and see all the "cool stories"(her words, not mine) in there. Recently Bonnie has been expressing her distaste about being a little kid because she wants to grow up already and be big so she could stay up late (7:30pm bedtime) with Mama and Daddum. She wants to be a dentist, artist or gymnastics person when she grows up but then in the same breath she says she wants to be our lil "Poohks" forever. She is 100% girl in everything she does- I think the girl would wear pink from head to toe everyday if she had the wardrobe to support it. Bonnie cries at sad parts in movies and at the first site of blood. She believes that eating meat is not kind and she will only eat shrimp if we MAKE her. So she is about 80% vegetarian, much to my disbelief because both Parents could eat a steak for breakfast!! She is always preaching to the Parents about living green, recycling, and not making waste.
As far as her role as a big sister she puts Mama to shame (sorry Matt and Cynthia, I was a snarky older sister and I know it), she LOVES her brother and although she puts up a fight when we ask them to play together five minutes into it she going full boar having a blast. She is his protector, defender and buddy all day long. In short "Bonnie" is a superstar and a total joy in our life. How we got soo lucky to have such an excellent daughter I will never know but I am sure glad she picked us to be her Parents. LOVE YOU LOTS BONNIE!!!

Oh my, (heavy sigh) "Clyde" where do I even begin? When the Parents decided to have another baby it was more for "Bonnie's" sake because she was sooo lonely as a 2 year old and all she wanted was a friend. We got pregnant right away and we were so much more relaxed second time around for the new baby parenting that was looming ahead and I have a theory that Clyde knew this and was more laid back in (and out) utero. He came fast (well not super fast but faster than the 26 hours it took his sister) in the ungodly morning hours, water broke, hospital, baby in arms by 9:35am. He was a bruiser at over 8lbs who he had his Mama workin and he still does!! If Bonnie is the yin then Clyde is the yang. He is reckless, fearless and so brave that as his Mama its terrifying.
From the beginning Clyde was always relaxed, he was the baby that other mothers were in disbelief of because he was always asleep or not bothered by loud activity. Clyde eats like a horse, loves fruit, noodles and juice (although the latter is a MAJOR treat because RED DYE #40** is trying to kill me...he wants to peel paint after drinking it!!). So we have 2 vegetarians in the house unless we are eating eggs because I think both kids could polish off a dozen between them. Clyde was an early teether, (yay to nursing moms with a baby that has a mouthful of teeth!!--NOT!!) a late walker as well and a total pleasure to be around. When the Parents found out we were having a boy we were in total shock. I felt like I only knew how to parent a girl and boys were like banshees...wild, smelly and eager to eat anything that moved. Well that description is not too far off and I have learned to just back off and let him push his bravery to the limit. He is 100% boy because at times I wonder how he gets to be soo smelly, how poop got there, and hmmm, where did that bruise/blood/bump/gaping hole gushing bodily fluids come from.
At a full 2 years now he makes us laugh everyday with his crazy antics and stubborn nature. He likes Micheal Jackson (old Micheal not new Micheal) songs and does this amazing dance move where he pooches out his lower lip and sways back and forth. Mama has recently coined the idea that "Clyde" exhibits mischievous charm...he is soo adorable when he know he is going to be in trouble that you can't help but be melted by that big smile and those big brown eyes. When asked what he did and he knows he did wrong he will say with a twinkle in his eye.."nuummm nnuummm" (translation=NO NO). Needless to say he gets away with some things that we would have probably skinned the first kid over, although to Bonnie's credit I would never have had to worry about her coloring particular "private" parts of her body with magic marker-yes true story..we have the pictures to prove it! He potty trained early (well we don't think so but according to the vast majority of parents out there he is like a potty training prodigy-HA..if only they knew Mama wanted him out of diapers earlier than he was!)
In the Spirit of St.Louis Clyde is a die hard Cardinals baseball fan. Everything with a STL Cardinal on it is greeted with cheers of "DDaarrddnnuuls EEHH!!" and his FATHER has diluted his mind to be beyond excited at the sight of motorcycles, airplanes and baseball!!! Clyde's favorite outfit usually consists of one his 5 STL Cardinals shirts and pants and then the beloved Crocs. The boy hates shoes in all forms and Crocs were the only compromise the Parents could come to so that the child did not walk around barefoot everywhere...banshee remember?? Clyde is really developing and changing as a kid, he loves being read too and in the past few weeks he had decided for himself that he is over sitting in a high chair and wants to sit at the table like a "Did boy" (translation= Big Boy). Boys require a different technique of parenting and as I hone that skill set all I can say is that I have high hopes for us as the Parents that we can do as well with him as we do with Bonnie. Clyde you add so much joy to our family and we could not have imagined our lives without you in it!!! LOVE YOU LOTS CLYDE!!

**Thanks Jenn for the Red Dye #40 tip...Clyde is officially allowed to only drink organic red dye #40 free juice. Talk about hyper!! : )

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. ~Rabindranath Tagore

Hi and Welcome!!!

After much debate and indecision the Dills have decided to start a blah-g. We feel like our life is in a real state of flux right now and what better way to combat the anxiety and stress that comes along with that than to BLOG ABOUT IT!!! So for our stats: Family of four (and always looking to expand!!) Daddum-the Navy pilot, Mama-homemaker extraordinaire (or so we like to think!!!) and wife, "Bonnie" girly, sweet and uber intelligent kindergartner, "Clyde" 2 year old brave boy who is just discovering all the parts of his body (translation-potty trained and curious!) gravity and personal limits, and Shooter the Mutt- smelly, dumb but a total doll who is very lovable and won our heart from the first gaze of those big brown eyes. This blah-g will be a mix of both Daddum and Mama posts, frugalista finds (courtesy of Mama), family adventures, spiritual growth and learning, not to mention ongoing Navy flight school updates (by way of Daddum himself). So sit back enjoy the ride and welcome to the chaos, love and good times that only the Dills can bring!!!