Saturday, January 17, 2015

The kind hearts...

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John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…”

In the past few weeks since the babies were born we were overwhelmed by the kindness and compassion of those around us. So many reached out to lend a hand and a hug, to support, to help with the kids, to not let us starve... Some of you we've never even met in person, but you kept us in your thoughts and prayers, you sent us cards and generous gifts and other tokens of love and care.

Our hearts were and are so full of gratitude. At the beginning of this week I received a very special gift that left me in awe and brought tears to my eyes - beautiful handmade quilts:

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Every stitch was sewn with love by someone who quietly followed our journey on this blog and kept us in her prayers - a reader and new friend Nancy. I cannot begin to comprehend how many hours of hard work were put into creating them (you all know that I'm not a quilter but I'm always amazed by those of you who are and your talent).

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 And matryoshkis?? Isn't it so thoughtful? My 4-year old thinks so too - he constantly tries to steal that quilt because matryoshka might just be his most favorite toy:) They will be loved and cherished for many-many years.

Thank you again, Nancy! You truly touched our hearts!

I only wish I could pass along all the kindness and generosity that was sent our way but this life is not long enough to do so...

And now I'm getting all mushy :) I better head out to bed. In the meantime, check out the backs of the quilts. Aren't they just so much fun?? Love love love them!

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Have a good night, my lovelies...

Yours truly,

Friday, January 16, 2015

They grow up too fast...

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Well, not really :) But, honestly, it's hard to believe it's been two months already since I gave birth to the little ones. And even though the time still goes slow, they definitely grow in leaps. Here's the proof:

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That was his take home outfit. Crazy, huh?

So yeah, the twinkies turned two months on Wednesday (so 9 weeks today). And had their doctor's appointment. Both of them grew about 3.5-4 inches. She now weighs 10.13 lbs - pretty much doubles her birth weight!! And he's even bigger at 11.1 lbs. It feels a little weird and slightly sad to pack away all those little outfits for good.

And it's yet to get easier but they are definitely a lot more delightful to be around :)

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And if you are curious about this gorgeous quilt they are laying on, then come back tomorrow and I'll tell you all about it :)

And how was your week? :)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Food waste and a menu, week 1/12-1/18, and a self-imposed mini-challenge

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Ha, better late than never, right?

I know, I was planning on posting about our food waste and meal ideas starting from the beginning of the month, and here we are, almost half way through January... Oh well, I'm still a new Mom and I will milk this excuse until they are in college as long as I can :)

I did plan our menu the past few weeks, I just didn't blog about it :) I do not do the assigned days like I used to. We'll be keeping it flexible for a while. Also, on the days that are especially hard, we might grab a pizza or Subway, and I'm fine with that. My sanity is worth more :) But we try to keep this expense low. In January we budgeted no more than $100 for eating out. Since we don't really go out, I think it's doable.

I also finally finished organizing the refrigerator, and the damage was less than I thought. I threw away a couple of eggs and some lunch meat that have been in our fridge... well, I'm not going to tell you how long it's been :) Let's just say, they were way past their prime time...

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 We also had a couple of freezer burned cucumbers but I have a suspicion that they were already "damaged" when I got them from the store. I didn't know they were bad until I was about to use them in a salad.

And so far our menu looks like this:

Plov, green salad, homemade smoothies (using up fruit from the freezer)
Cabbage and bean soup, rolls
Sweet potato puffs (from the freezer), cutlets, slaw
Sausage and tomato pasta bake (my sis made for us), steamed broccoli, grapes
Stuffed peppers (from the freezer)
Breakfast for dinner

Since we have almost everything on hand, I decided to challenge myself to spend no more than $25 on groceries. That will basically limit us to some produce, bread, milk and, maybe, a box of cereal for the kids because we are running low and after a long night with the babies, cereal is my new best friend...

And what meals are you planning for your family this week?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

January 2015 goals

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As I mentioned in my last post, this year I'm fully intending to create monthly goals and post them here on the blog. Since it's already the 4th of the month, I think it's time to start rolling, right?

My January goals are pretty simple and can be summed up as "coming back". Coming back from "stork mode" to frugal living and pinching our pennies again:

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1. Pay off all the medical bills. Hopefully, we can be done with it finally!

2. Create a budget and actually use it. We never actually stopped budgeting, even during the very first weeks after the babies were born. But somehow by mid-month we would completely forget about it. By posting here, I hope, I'll start being more accountable yet again :)

3. Make at least $100. Yep, I'm back to work already. What can I say, formula is expensive! Luckily my job is extremely flexible and I can do what works for us. I think, $100 is pretty doable under the circumstances (I made $140 in January) but I'm not going to push myself too much just yet.

4. Start meal planning and tracking food waste again. Yet another thing that I've been slacking on for obvious reasons. We've been extremely blessed with so many friends, neighbors, Church members who brought us delicious dinners. You might remember that I also filled our freezer with yummy meals and we actually still have a few left. We will be finishing them up in the next few weeks. But all of that lead to some food waste, mostly leftovers that we just couldn't finish before it went bad. Now that our fridge is pretty bare, food waste shouldn't be much of a problem :)

5. Check our credit scores. No explanation needed, I guess :)

6. Start working on "for sale" list. As part of my decluttering goal, I also want to sell a few things. I will wait for a little bit to start listing because time is still very unpredictable but it's not going to hurt to start planning. 

7. Buy a couch!

And these are our boring but necessary frugal goals and attempts (minus the couch :). Here's for a good January, my friends!!

Are you working on any special goals this month?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Our 2015 goals

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As I mentioned yesterday, I have a few lofty goals I'm planning on working on in 2015. As you might've already noticed I'm a little OCD and like to have everything under control. Well, few things throw you for a loop more than having a child. Multiply it by two, and I'm amazed that my hair is not all grey yet. But there is always something optimistic about the beginning of a new year! And even though my first and most important goal is to survive the first year with twins while still being a somewhat decent mother/wife to my other 3 boys, I want to challenge myself and all of us to achieve a few other things because, well, that's what I always do. So here it goes:

1. Find some "me" time once in a while. 

Now that we became an instant family of 6, it's even harder to find time for myself beyond brushing teeth in the morning (or in the afternoon... don't tell me it never happened to you...). I want to challenge myself to carve a few minutes every week to nap (haha...), relax, ponder, read Scriptures, listen to the music, read a book and whatever else might help me to stay sane and not lose it on everybody in a one mile radius. The emotional imbalance I had to deal with the first few weeks postpartum kind of scared me. I had baby blues before but this time things were more intense. I'm in a way better place right now but it's still hard when you are always exhausted and sleep-deprived, so a few minutes for myself, I know, will make a huge difference. And yes, it does include blogging. I really missed this little blog and all of you, guys! I'm not sure how often I will be able to post or visit your pages, especially in the first few months of this year but it will get easier and I'll be back more and more often very soon.

It also includes taking care of my body. I've lost everything I gained while pregnant and then another 8 lbs but I'm nowhere near where I want to be yet. And it's not even about the extra pouch in my mid-section. I want to be stronger and healthier too. I'm really looking forward to the time when I can start exercising more regularly.

2. Organize and declutter.

What's new under the sun? It seems like I always have something to organize and get rid of here. But with the birth of our babies, all 1800 sq. feet of the house shrunk even more. With four children, having house under control is a must. As usual, I want to challenge myself to get rid of 365 things but, honestly, it's not about the number. Even if I can only eliminate 140 things but have the house in a more usable stage than it is right now by the end of the year, I'll be one happy girl.

3.Beef up our savings after paying off all of the medical bills and some other expenses. 

We are yet to get all of the bills in but we know approximately how much we will owe. After paying off that and making another upcoming big purchase (more on this later), we will do our best to get our finances under control again. Ideally I want to save at least another month worth of expenses plus start working on a replacement car fund. Our sedan that my husband drives is 9 years old and has more than 140000 miles on it. Granted, we had very few major repairs done to it so far and we hope it will last us many-many more years but we don't want to be caught by surprise because DH uses it to travel for work every single day.

Another thing we want to start working on are "sinking funds". I'm not a hard-core Dave Ramsey's fan but I have huge respect for the man. One of the things he's really big about is to be prepared not just for emergencies but for everyday things too. The "sinking funds" are when you set aside money every month for the things you will definitely buy/do/use throughout the year like haircuts, clothes, car expenses (tires, maintenance, inspection etc.), vacations, Birthdays and so on. Basically, you estimate how much whatever you need will cost and then divide it by 12 months. I think it's a wonderful idea. One of our biggest expenses every year are medical bills. I want to be sure that we will have at least deductibles for all of us in savings at all times separate from our regular savings. I will be working on other sinking funds too.

4.Cash flow a few home projects

We also have a few projects planned that we, hopefully, will be working on throughout 2015. First and foremost, we want to finish our guest room aka the room for my parents. I don't know when they will be able to visit again with my Mom's health (she's doing great but is yet to receive her transplant. Hopefully, by the end of January but I'm not keeping my hopes too high because they delayed it before due not being able to get a certain medication for her. It seems like it should arrive very soon but, again it wouldn't be the first time...) but I want the room to be ready. Plus, who knows, maybe somebody else would want to visit a family with two newborn twins and to have fun staying up all night "parting" with us? :)

The other "big" project is to re-do our laundry room closet. It's just not functional right now with the amount of laundry I do every week. We want to keep it under $500. And last but not least is our master bedroom. As it often happens, the room for parents is the last to get tackled in the house but, I think, it's time. I've been collecting bits and pieces for it for the past two years and I can't wait to finally get them out of the garage and actually use them.

And, of course, there will be other small things we will be working on but these are the three big areas that we will be planning and saving for in advance. Oh, and we will be buying a new couch very soon (the big expense) but I'll share all the details about it another time.

5. Create goals every month and blog about them.

Nothing helps me to stay on track more than when I feel accountable about what I'm doing. Every time I posted goals on this blog before, you, guys, and your encouragement helped me to stay in check and persevere.  Thank you for still reading my ramblings even after I pretty much abandoned this blog for a few months, and I hope you'll have a few words of encouragement for me again.

And here it goes, my yearly goals. I told you they are pretty lofty! But hey, how can we get better if we don't push ourselves a little bit, right?

And what are your goals/resolutions/aspirations for 2015?

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