The Blessing Calendar

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It is so AMAZING to see where God is working! However, we are a forgetful people and tend to forget God’s miracles! This has been a problem for men since “the Israelites did not remember the LORD their God who had delivered them from the power of the enemies around them.” Judges 8:34

However we have been told to always remember God and to tell our children and grandchildren about His goodness and faithfulness.

“Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.” Deuteronomy 4:9

Our family started a Blessing Calendar this year. We simply got a calendar and write things on it AFTER they happen.

Our calendar includes mundane things that normally go on the calendar, such as doctors appointments and birthdays. But it also includes things that happened to us, such as days we were sick, births, and family game night.

At the top of the calendar we write out longer messages that demonstrate God moving in our lives and speaking to us.

Our hope is that in the future we can pull out old calendars and be able to remember how God has worked in our lives in the past!

*Please note that for the privacy of our family members and friends we pray for, all names and events listed on this calendar are completely fictional! Any resemblance to real world people and events is completely coincidental.

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Which Grocery Store is the Cheapest?

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I am a math nerd! I sing the quadratic formula to my kids as a lullaby, we watch Donald in Mathmagicland about once per week, and I love creating spreadsheets for everything.

So, perhaps my favorite aspect of couponing is creating a price comparison sheet. Here is my step-by-step process and the results of comparing prices at four stores!

Creating a Price Comparison Sheet

The first step in creating a price comparison sheet is selecting items that you want to compare. I like to pick 20-30 items that you commonly purchase from various categories (household items, dry goods, produce, meat, frozen, and dairy).

Once you have your list of items, go to each store that you usually shop at and write down the quantity and price of each item on your list. If you plan on using this spreadsheet as a guide weekly, try to record the price of the item when it is not on sale. This way, when you find an ad or coupon for $.50 off, you can look at your spreadsheet and calculate the price.

I recorded the sale price because it helps me get an overall picture of the cost at each store since some of the stores I was comparing have “everyday low prices” and others run frequent sales.

Once you get home, it’s time to create a spreadsheet!

It is important that you are comparing similar sizes. And since this is not always possible, I like to calculate price per unit. For example, 96 diapers at store one cost $18.99, 108 at store two cost $19.77, and 168 at store three cost $34.98. The cost per diaper is $.20, $.18, and $.21 at each store respectively.

If you are a math nerd like me, you may want to go a step further and find the “overall value.” To find the overall value, we must multiply the cost per unit by a standard quantity. If we choose a standard quantity of 96 diapers then the “cost” at each store is $18.99, $17.57, and $19.99.

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Using a Price Comparison Sheet

Comparing price per unit for each item allows you to see what type of items are best to buy at each store. If one store is best for dry goods, household items, and frozen you can shop there one time per month (or every few months if you are good at planning and have the storage space). Then you can shop at the best store for produce, meat and dairy products weekly.

When I was a super-couponer, I would take my price comparison sheet to the store weekly and make any updates necessary.  Now I only update about once per year.

It is also important to note that price is not the only factor to consider. Store convenience, product selection, and product quality are all important to me. Others factors you may consider when choosing a grocery store are customer service, carry out service, payment types accepted, ability to use coupons, membership fees (such as a Sam’s Membership), and online ordering.PriceComparison2

My Findings

Based on a list of twenty five items at four stores (Kroger, Walmart, Sam’s, and Aldi), I discovered that every store is cheaper on at least one item. I discovered that, overall, Aldi is the best to shop at! However, their meat department was higher than every other store.

I purchase dairy and produce on a weekly basis. Aldi and Walmart were within twenty cents of one another in these two areas, so I would probably choose Aldi over Walmart simply due to the fact that they seem to have better quality produce.

I purchase frozen foods, meat, dry goods, and household items as needed on a monthly basis. So, I can make one trip to Sam’s and/or Walmart each month to get the items that are cheapest there.

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*This post was not intended to tell you which store will be cheapest for your family. It was merely showing you how to choose the store that will be cheapest for your family. Your family may eat totally different foods than mine, so please compare items that are on your typical grocery list. Also, item prices may vary among locations.

Screen Time and the Young Child

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids take in an average of SEVEN hours of media time a day!

At the same time, the AAP advises that children and teens should only engage in one to two hours of “high-quality content” entertainment media per day. Furthermore, children under two should not engage in television or other forms of entertainment media at all because of their rapidly developing brain.

These guidelines come from scientific research, showing that “excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.”

We are living in a world where young children are getting their own smartphones, restaurants are placing gaming devices on tables, and daycare centers and schools use television as a part of routine instructional time. Avoiding entertainment media is impossible, and also not recommended. Instead, parents should establish clear boundaries on screen time for their children.

Setting time limits on media usage is a great place to start; however, quality is just as critical as quantity when it comes to screen time.  So, what is “high-quality?” A “high-quality” form of entertainment media emulates real-world social interactions, introduces educational concepts, and/or requires active participation on the part of the viewer.

Beware of some so-called educational games that are not considered “high-quality” because they are passive in nature and do not involve any engagement on your child’s part.  Some “non-educational” games, such as role playing games, encourage creativity and may be preferable to mindless entertainment such as Candy Crush. Facetime with Grandma can be considered quality media time because it emulates a real world social interaction.

This is not to say that the occasional mind numbing game should not be allowed. Just as you should try to get your child to choose healthier food options, you should try to get your child to choose higher quality entertainment when possible.

When it comes to choosing appropriate media, I ADORE Common Sense Media reviews. Their movie reviews analyze content based on positive messages, positive role models, violence, sex, language, consumerism, and drinking, drugs & smoking. They review app content based on ease of play, violence & scariness, sexy stuff, language, consumerism, and drinking, drugs, & smoking. Each category is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 and includes an in depth analysis of each category. There is even a section called “Families can talk about…” for each review that allows parents to make the most of media time.

When engaging in media with your child, make sure to have a dialogue with them about the media. Talk about central themes, characters, and scenarios from movies and television shows. Discuss strategies and educational content from apps and games. By taking an active part in your child’s media usage, you are extending the educational value of their screen time.

Free Printable: Number Concept Cards

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Number skills can be learned by children as young as two! Start by teaching the numbers 1-3 and build up to twenty by the time your child completes 4 year old Kindergarten.

Print these number concept cards double sided on card stock. Cut out each individual card. Then they can be used in multiple ways:

Number Recognition: Have your child identify the numbers.

Number Counting: Have your child count the number of objects on the card.

Number Order: Have your child arrange the numbers (or objects) in order.

Download my Free Number Concept Cards.

Scripture Cards

Scripture Cards

I love 3×5 index cards because they have so many uses!

One of their best uses is making Scripture Flash Cards.

Simply write a verse on one side and the reference for that verse on the opposite side. When you are writing out the verse, take a moment to determine what the key words are and color code them in a way that makes sense to you.

For example, I on one side I write “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.” On the other side I write “Genesis 1:27.”

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My color coding on this card is blue for the word “male,” pink for the word “female,” and purple for the five references to God.

I can then punch a hole in the top right corner of my cards and attach them to a binder ring to keep them together.

This little “book” of cards will fit perfectly in my purse, diaper bag, or car console for scripture on the go.