Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Life Lately with Baby Prez

Dear Baby Prez,

I have gotten so behind on your updates!  So, we are skipping ahead to now.  You just turned 20 months old, and I am amazed every day at how much you are growing and learning!

Here are some updates on our life lately.

Such a good helper with yard work!

Your milestones these days are definitely more cognitive skills than motor skills, but that's because you are already a pro at running like a crazy kid around the house, screaming at the top of your lungs, going down the slide, and so on.  One really cute new thing that you've been working on for the last few months is jumping.  You have finally figured out how to jump up and down, but it is a production every single time.  And you don't just jump up and down in place, you jump from one spot on the floor to another one a few feet away.  It's incredibly adorable.  Mostly, you jump when you are in a good mood and excited about something.  You are also trying to figure out how to jump off of inanimate objects like boxes, mommy or daddy, the end of your slide, and anything and everything else that will get you up off the ground a few inches.

Parade Fun at Oklahoma State's Homecoming last Fall!

Mommy was worried a few months ago because you weren't saying very many words, but I had nothing to worry about!

Your Words are:

Mom or Mama
Banana (nay-nay)
Vroom vroom
Choo choo
Rharr (or some sort of dinosaur/lion growl)
Water (wah-wah)
Bye bye
Night night

You're also forming some multiple word phrases like "sit down" and "I want more", and you love to motion for people to come with you into another room or to sit down next to you.  The expression you use when you are trying to convince someone to do what you want them to do is priceless.  One of these days, I'll be quick enough to get a picture of it!

At your 18 month checkup, your were:

20 pounds 9 ounces 
29 inches tall.



Like a Gazelle

"My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor, 
if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, 
you have been trapped by what you said, 
ensnared by the words of your mouth.  
So do this, my son, to free yourself, 
since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands: 

Go—to the point of exhaustion— and give your neighbor no rest!  
Allow no sleep to your eyes, 
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, 
like a bird from the snare of the fowler."

Proverbs 6:1-5 (NIV)

Gazelle Intensity

Some days God's voice is so very clear.

Today is one of those days.

As you may now know, Alexander the Great and I have really been impacted by the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class that we are taking at our church.  Two weeks ago, we talked about becoming debt free, and these verses from Proverbs were quoted by Dave Ramsey during the class.  

Today, my husband was reading from his Bible in One Year Plan by Nicky and Pippa Gumbel, and Proverbs 6:1-5 was part of the reading selection.  How appropriate since tonight will be our 7th Financial Peace University class.  God is working in our lives!  

So far, we have been on-track for our budget for February, but there have been a few things that have come up at the end of the month that could waylay our budget big time.  I think we really needed the reminder today that we need to be gazelles when it comes to our finances.

We have talked a lot about the gazelle-like intensity that Dave Ramsey talks about, and I think the Biblical basis of it make a lot of difference to me.  There are so many things that we think about as frowned upon by God, but rarely do we think of debt as such a thing.  It amazed me when we heard these verses for the first time.  God wants us to have gazelle-like intensity when it comes to paying off our debts.  

In a week or so, I'll be posting about the first month of our Mission to Financial Freedom, where we stand, and our plans for next month.  I've got some crazy ideas up my sleeve to be like a gazelle.  What kind of crazy gazelle schemes have you used?

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Harvey Ever After Featured

Wow!  What a great week for Harvey Ever After.  I am so excited to share that two of the posts here on the blog were featured by fellow bloggers!  Two features in one week is definitely a record.  I think I've only been feature two other times before this ever, so this week doubled my feature exposure.

Thanks to Candice at Momma Wondering for featuring my post, Five Reasons to Find Financial Freedom, this week for the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party.  I'm so glad that you found the post inspiring.  I have found so much inspiration and motivation from other bloggers as we begin our mission to financial freedom, and I so want to share that with others.

Creative K Kids

And thanks to F. Dean and Rosilind at F. Dean Hackett - Foundational for feature my post, Reasons I Love My Husband, this week for the brand new Tell It to Me Tuesdays party.  I think it's so important to provide affirmations like this in relationship, especially marriages.  I'm thrilled that others were interested in the topic as well.  

And on a side note, I won some amazing jewelry from another blogger's giveaway at The Scarlett Thread!  What a great week so far!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Our Weekly Paleo-ish Menu {February 22nd}

Our Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday - Leftovers for Lunch

Dinner @ HOME Group - Making Chicken Fried Rice to take

Monday - Salmon with Collards and Cantaloupe

Tuesday - Chicken and Apple Sausages with Mac N Cheese

Wednesday Chicken Pad Sew Ew

Thursday - Chili

Friday - Paleo Italian Mushroom Bake with Salad

Saturday - Grain-Free Nacho Pot Pie

Sunday - Leftovers for Lunch

Dinner @ HOME Group

Lunchbox Ideas - Lettuce wraps, egg salad, quiche cups, salads

Find previous meal plans here.
**Linking up at I'm an Organizing Junkie for Meal Plan Monday**

This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, February 20, 2015

weekly wallet wins {week 8/52}

Thanks for joining us on our Mission to Financial Freedom!  Over the past week, I've been able to find some fantastic Weekly Wallet Wins to help keep our spending down, stockpile up, and budget on track!

saving money on weekly wallet wins

For the Little Ones

23 Clothing Items = $2.14
     My favorite used kids' clothes store has their clearance on sale right now -- 10 items for $1.  It's seriously almost like free clothes.  I got a bunch of clothes awhile back when it was priced at twenty-five cents per item, but this is even better despite the smaller selection.  I may have to go back and pick up a few more things tomorrow.  It breaks down like this:  Little Miss Harvey - 19 items (3 two-piece outfits, X shirts/onsies, X pants), Baby Prez - 2 shirts, Miss Coco - 1 pants.  

CVS Deal on 2 Packages of Huggies Diapers + 2 Huggies Wipes = $10.50
     CVS Sale: 2 Huggies Jumbo Packs for $18
     Spend $20, Get $5 ExtraBucks

Transaction 1:
     1 Jumbo Pack Huggies Snug & Dry $9
     used online coupon: $2 off Huggies diapers
     1 Huggies Wipes $3
     used online coupon: $.50 off Huggies wipes
     used $2/10 Huggies purchase CVS coupon
     used $4 ExtraBucks from last week
= $9 + 3 - $2 - $.50 - $2 - $4 = $3.50

Transaction 2: 
     1 Jumbo Pack Huggies Pull-Ups $9
     used online coupon: $2.50 off Pull-Ups
     1 Huggies Wipes $3
     used online coupon: $.50 off Huggies wipes
     used $2/10 Huggies purchase CVS coupon

= $9 + 3 - $2.50 - $.50 - $2 = $7
Received $5 Extra Bucks

Total Spent on Diapers & Wipes = $10.50 or $2.63 per item
Saved $21.06 off regular price, 67% savings

For Mommy

Maternity Clothes = $30
     I've been dreading getting out my maternity clothes because, well, some of them are just ugly.  So instead of spending insane amounts of money at Motherhood Maternity (even though they have the cutest clothes), I checked out Craigslist and found the nicest person who was selling a three big lots maternity clothes lots.  She let me pick through and pick out what I wanted, and I found a few pairs of dress pants and leggings and 10 or so tops!  I think I averaged close to $2 per item!

CVS Deal on 2 boxes of Natural Instincts Hair Dye = $4.34
     CVS Sale: 2 boxes for $12
     used 2 online coupons: $1.50 off per box
     used $5 Extrabucks from diaper transactions above
= $12 - $3 - $5 + tax = $4.34 or $2.17 per box!

For Our Tummies

14 lbs Bananas = $.26/lb
    Last Friday, I paired a HyVee one-day sale with a Saving Star deal AND a Checkout51 deal.

1 bite-sized Ben & Jerry's = $0.00
    Last Friday, I also took advantage of the Saving Star weekend 100% back deal!

    This Friday (today), I will be taking advantage of a sale at HyVee combined with this week's healthy Saving Star deal (20% back on broccoli).  I can't wait to find out what the weekend deal will be for 100% back.

XXL Pizza = $3
   Last weekend, Miss Coco wasn't sure where she wanted to eat for her birthday dinner, but she wanted something spicy, so we ended up ordering a spicy chicken pizza, which is a local specialty at Lazarri's in downtown Lincoln.  When we arrived to pick up the pizza, the employees had not even begun to make it yet...they just forgot that they were supposed to be making pizza, apparently.  Despite the mistake and having to wait for them to make the pizza, we then got a huge discount and paid $3 instead of about $23!  $3 to feed 5 people...that's my kind of meal!

Extra Income

Ebates.com Check = $7.55
     I just started using Ebates over Christmas for my online shopping.  The first quarterly check came in this week!  I love that Ebates is free, and that I can get real cash back!

New Tutoring Clients = $?.??
     My husbands tutoring business is really growing this month, so he has more tutors and more students than ever before.  I don't have exact tallies on how much extra money he will bring in beyond what we budgeted, but I'm excited to put that extra money towards our debt snowball fun.  \

Extra Teaching = $?.??
     In my department, we just had a professor leave unexpectedly for what we think will be the rest of the semester, so I'm taking over one of his classes and will paid over $1,000 more each month than usual.  However, I don't know when I will actually start seeing the paycheck

Did you have any wallet wins this week?

Read more about our Mission to Financial Freedom HERE.

Follow Elise Harvey {Harvey Ever After}'s board Money Matters on Pinterest.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

February Mid-Month Budget Check-In

As you probably know by now, Alexander the Great and I are working hard to adhere to the Dave Ramsey plan.  Especially when it comes to budgeting.  We are on a mission to financial freedom!

February was our first month to go all out on budgeting.  We've had budgets on-and-off for the past three years or so, and I've had budgets since undergrad, BUT....sticking to the budget is another story.  Now that we've made it our mission to find financial peace, I want to start sharing more with you about that journey.

It's mid-February and there are some areas we've done really well in and others that we haven't done as well in, so let's have a look.

We have many of our bills already set up to automatically debit from our checking account, which is very convenient and helps cut down and save money on potential late fees in case we get a check in the mail a day late.  Our automatic debits include: utilities (gas and electric), internet, cell phones, car insurance, tithe, and even rent.

For our variable expenses (i.e. expenses that are not the exact same amount every month), we are working to move towards using cash as much as possible.  Yes, cash envelopes, just like Dave Ramsey recommends.

Here's where we stand (not including automatic debit items and a few other budget items:

Mid-month Budget Update
By the way, I love Mint.com for keeping track of our budget!

Not shown here is also our budgeted savings/debt snowball goal of at least $1,000.  And putting $1,000 into a savings/debt snowball fund is a big deal for us, honestly.  We've budgeted and been cheap, but never really quantified a savings goal before.  And like many people, sometimes I would look at things and wondered where I had gone wrong that month.  

I wasn't completely crazy about going the Dave Ramsey way.  Don't get me wrong; he certainly has some extremely good advice, there were just a few things I wasn't sure about.  (Like cash envelopes.)  Well, we have 10 days left in the month, and I think that we just might come in under budget.  Groceries are going to be tight, but thanks to a customer service error last weekend, we scored an extra extra large pizza for only $3 that fed 5 people!  So, we will have plenty of extra in our restaurant envelope if I need to adjust for groceries.  

So far, I would have to say that we are on track towards finding financial peace.  You can read more about why we wanted to take control of our finances in my prior post.  

I hope you'll stick with me as we continue to muddle through our mission to financial freedom!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Our Weekly Paleo-ish Menu {February 15th}

Our Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday - Breakfast Burritos for Lunch

Dinner @ HOME Group

Monday - Chicken Broccoli Braid with Salad

Tuesday - Crockpot Paleo Chicken and Kale Soup

Wednesday - Salmon with Collards and Cantaloupe

Thursday - Sweet Potato Crusted Quiche

Friday - Chicken Pad Sew Ew

Saturday - 7 Spice Roast on Paleo Sandwich Rolls with Apples Slices and Carrots

Sunday - Leftovers

Dinner @ HOME Group

Lunchbox Ideas - Lettuce wraps, egg salad, quiche cups, salads

Find previous meal plans here.
**Linking up at I'm an Organizing Junkie for Meal Plan Monday**

This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

5 Reasons to Find Financial Peace

Alexander the Great and I recently decided to participate in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class offered by our local church, Horizons Community Church.  (I have to give my awesome church a shout-out here!)

But, Why?

It's honestly a good question.  I have always thought that I do a pretty good job of managing my (now, our) money.  Nevertheless, I could be better at it, right?  Well, here are our 5 reasons to find financial peace: 

1. We are getting ready for major life transitions.  

Over the summer we will have: 

New baby, 
New jobs, 
New city (and state), and 
New house (that we buy, hopefully)

We want to have our finances in order before we move, so that we can get through the transitions without stressing over money.  

2.  We have debt. 

No mortgage (yet)
No credit card debt (just monthly expenses that get paid in full EVERY month)
But, plenty of student loan debt

We want to not only pay off the student loan debt "on time", but we also want to get ahead of the game and pay it off early...very early.

3.  We have goals, but wanted a plan to reach them. 

Our goals include: 

Adopting children
Buying land and establishing a permaculture farm
Retirement (duh!)

All of these goals, plus the others not listed here, require money to start out with at the very least.  Alexander the Great and I want to accomplish our goals before retirement age.

4. We have seen the success of our friends who have taken the class. 

We have seen friends who have taken the class improved not only their financial position, but also their marriages, relationships with children, and overall well-being.

5. We wanted to implement God's Word in the financial part of our lives. 

Last, but certainly not least, I love the idea that God actually has given us instructions and tools for managing money, and that's what Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University is all about.  

There are many reasons to take Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class, but these are our top reasons for enrolling.  You can start to implement the ideas from Financial Peace University by reading some of Dave Ramsey's books like Total Money Makeover and Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money, but I the class has been even better than reading the books alone.  

I hope you will stick with us and follow our mission to find financial peace.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lincoln Local: Cheap Bananas @ Hyvee (2/13 ONLY!)

I will definitely be at Hyvee tomorrow!  This week, I was able to get all of our groceries for our weekly meal plan for $10 under budget!  Since we are new Dave Ramsey converts, I am making a huge effort to find cheap Paleo meals so that we can stay on or under budget for food.  It has definitely been a challenge to cut out processed foods (**read -- cheap foods**) and stay on budget.  Staying under budget this week paid off because now I can still make a Hyvee run tomorrow for bananas!!  Add the deals from my favorite couponing apps, and it will be even cheaper!

Hyvee Bananas (February 13th ONLY): $.33
= $.26 per pound

If you have the Checkout 51 app, you can get another $.25 off (not per pound, just a straight $.25).  Both Saving Star and Checkout 51 make deposits into your account, which you can cash out at a certain threshold.  Saving Star has a $5 minimum for cashing out, and Checkout 51 has a $20 minimum for cashing out.

**This post may contain affiliate links.**

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dave Ramsey Products @ 66% Off!

I've mentioned previously that Alexander the Great and I have been taking the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course at our local church.  It has been phenomenal so far...I will be adding more posts soon about our experiences as we attempt to implement the Dave Ramsey system.

With that said, I want to share with you that if you are interested in getting started with the Dave Ramsey plan, you can get a great deal today on The Starter Special at DaveRamsey.com; this kit is only $42 today as compared to the $125 regular price.  (This is not an affiliate link, I just love the products and want to share!)
Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Deal
The Starter Special includes two of Dave Ramsey's amazing books on gaining financial peace and managing money God's way as well as the starter envelope system (awesome!), audio lessions, a DVD lesson, and two ebooks on budgeting and using the envelope system.  If I didn't already own all of these things, I would definitely be buying the kit today.

I can't wait to share more about our adventures as Dave Ramsey converts very soon!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Our Weekly Paleo-ish Menu {February 8th}

Our Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday - Leftovers for Lunch

Dinner @ HOME Group

Monday - Paleo Italian Mushroom Bake with Asparagus

Tuesday - Meatball Bites with Spaghetti Squash

Wednesday - Veggie Stir Fry with Wild Rice

Thursday - Homemade Pepperoni Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

Friday - Naked Breakfast Burritos

Saturday - Out for Miss CoCo's Birthday!

Sunday - Chicken Broccoli Braid

Dinner @ HOME Group

Lunchbox Ideas - Lettuce wraps, egg salad, quiche cups, salads

Find previous meal plans here.
**Linking up at I'm an Organizing Junkie for Meal Plan Monday**

This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately

Books I've Been Reading Lately

When Mercy Rains by Kim Vogel Sawyer1. When Mercy Rains by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Review coming soon on this one.  I read this last fall when it came out, and it was fantastic, so I'm reading it again!

Jesus Calling Devotional by Sarah Young2.  Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

This is my current devotional; my mom gave it to me last year, and I did not read it consistently at all, but I am trying to read it every day this year!  I love it so far!

You may seen me mention Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University in another post, but if you haven't, here it is.  The hubby and I are taking the class at our amazing church, and this is the book that goes along with the class.  It has been really eye opening so far!  I'd highly recommend it!

Thicker than Blood by C.J. Darlington4.  Thicker than Blood by C.J. Darlington

I found the Kindle edition of this book for FREE on Amazon.  One of my favorite things to do when I need a new book is to peruse the Top 100 Free Books in the Kindle Store!  This was a great Christian fiction novel about two sisters and their reconciliation.

I love reading, but I really don't have time to do much of it these days.  I try to sneak in a few minutes here and there when I am waiting in the car or wake up early (which rarely happens) or when I am in the kitchen waiting for water to boil.  But nevertheless, here's what I've been reading lately!  All great books as far as I'm concerned!

**This post contains affiliate links.**

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Our Weekly Paleo-ish Menu {February 1st}

Our Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday - Chicken Fried Rice

Dinner @ HOME Group

Monday - Naked Breakfast Burritos

Tuesday - Grilled Chicken Shawarma with Israeli Salad

Wednesday - Chicken Salad with Tomatoes, Spinach, & Cottage Cheese

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Salmon, Collard Greens, & Asparagus

Saturday - Kitchen Sink Frittata

Sunday - Leftovers for Lunch

Dinner @ HOME Group

Lunchbox Ideas - Lettuce wraps, egg salad, quiche cups, salads

Find previous meal plans here.
**Linking up at I'm an Organizing Junkie for Meal Plan Monday**

This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sticking to the Budget when it's the Last Week of the Month

It's not easy sticking to a budget.  In fact, more often than not, by the end of the month, I find that I haven't been able to stick with it.  "We're over the food budget, but we're out of milk."  So, I run to the store and get milk...along with a few other items, of course.

With the New Year, however, comes resolutions and such.  One of ours is to not just make a budget every month, not just pay off the credit card in full every month, but to get our family in a better financial position and to create better financial habits.  Especially by the time we move this summer.  

I'm already a nerdy couponer, so making a budget is fun for me.  But like I said, sticking to the budget is often hard.

Three weeks ago, we started Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University course at our amazing church.  Total Money Makeover, here we come!  We are excited for February because we already have our budget put together, and we are feeling good about what we can start accomplishing when it comes to paying off student loans, adding to our savings for a down payment on a house, etc.  

But this last week of January has been a struggle.  We're talking rice and beans.  Except that rice and beans aren't Paleo.  We've had some big expenses that while we knew were coming, are still big expenses.  We were already over on our food budget for the month, which I mostly attribute to the adjustment to the Paleo diet.  (Meat and produce can get expensive!)  So I made a menu based on what we had in the pantry already to keep expenses down for the week.  And I knew that no one in our house would be in any way excited about the menu for the week - cabbage soup, chicken marinara with zucchini noodles, leftovers, boring sack lunches, etc.  But I stuck to the menu.  But even sticking to the menu doesn't work when you can't predict how many eggs your husband and kids are going to eat and how far the leftovers will stretch.  

So, skip to yesterday, Saturday, January 31st.  Our fridge was bare with the exception of a few leftovers from the night before, fruit, and condiments.  No milk, no eggs.  Just bare.  But I was determined not to even set foot in the grocery store.  So we made oatmeal for breakfast, but without the customary milk.  And we finished off the leftovers for lunch.  And then it was dinnertime.  Uh oh.  

But instead of panicking, I checked the fridge again, checked the freezer, and realized that we had just enough ingredients to make chicken fried rice.  Rice, 4 chicken thighs, a few fresh carrots, a head of broccoli, some frozen veggies...that's it.  Plus just barely enough teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, etc.  (We used the ends of about 4 different bottles of sauces to get enough to cover the rice.)  

We made it!  It would have been easy to say, "We've already failed this month, let's just stop trying until next month."  It would have been so easy to swipe the credit card at the grocery store or a restaurant to get us through to the next month's budget.  But instead, we used what we had on hand to get through the end of the month.  And I have to say, I'm so proud of us - my husband and I.  It feels great to start February this way.  

Happy Sunday everyone!

**This post contains affiliate links.**