"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, May 30, 2011

This weekend we celebrated two momentous events. We traveled from Lexington to Boiling Springs twice for both but it was well worth it. Two hundred miles, 4 car hours, and 1 ear infection later, we are revealing in what these weekend events meant to our little family! Both events were for some very special people (the 2nd I'll post in a bit)!
The first being my niece, Courtney's, graduation. She is the class of two-oh-one-one! Her ceremony was perfect from the speeches down to the singing. One charge from her principal that has stayed in my mind since Friday night is "Seniors, the world has enough average in it". This charge reminds me of my niece because in my mind she is the fartherest from average. She's beautiful, talented (academically and musically), she's God fearing, has a great work ethic, surpasses anyone I know for volunteer hours, loves the special olympics, spent many school lunches helping in the special ed classes in her high school, raised money and then rebuilt a playground for a community home in her local community. The list goes on and on but this is just a glimpse of what her heart holds and what she's about. My C sure does have great examples in her big cousins and boy do I love them (our big C and K). It was pretty special seeing all of her academic achievements and accomplishments come to this very special day! She is headed to Clemson next year and has earned half of her tuition in scholarships. She is among many a Palmetto Fellow. I'm very proud of our big C!

Friday, May 27, 2011

My little one is becoming such a big girl!

Trying to get what she really wants off the counter!
She is mostly successful!

I'm needing to get this girl some girly dress up
clothes! She's playing with a smushed plastic fireman's hat!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

First Grade team at WKES!
Back Row: Melissa, Jo Ann, Emily, Danika
Front Row: Jennifer, Jenny, & Natasha

As many of you know I don't do very well with goodbyes. I don't like change. Change is not invited into my "realm" very friendly. I don't know if its because of the new that will be made from the change that I don't like or if I'm just happy with the way things are (content) and therefore there would be no need for something different. Sometimes, however, I have to accept change. Change is inevitable in many aspects all throughout life. I'm getting better with change when it does happen, however it's a slow process.
I will be experiencing "change" again very soon. The pretty friend in the yellow dress is my teacher friend, Jenny, and she's decided to move back home to be closer to family. Jenny will be teaching in a new school and of course she'll make new teacher friends and will continue to be the best teacher that she is, but as for this team, we'll miss her. I have many fond memories of Jenny that stems back to when she was a student teacher at WKES. I sat in on her interview and couldn't wait for her to be apart of our team! We'll miss her creativity during planning. We'll miss her playing her guitar while singing popular Christmas songs with her children on our school's morning news show in December. We'll miss her drawing all of the cutesy things for each of us for our classrooms (the K-W-L flower), etc. We'll miss her fabulous ideas, her vibrateness, her energy, and her personality. We'll miss her this summer during our team's weekly Tuesday lunch dates. I think that you are getting the idea of how special this friend is to me as well as to all of my team members. We are a close knit team. We are family away from our families. We work well together. We are all professional and personal friends. So as you can see, come June 3rd, I'm going to be a mess (maybe more than a mess). I can't imagine Baldwin's Busy Bees not being the classroom name on the door of room 412 at WKES.
Jenny will always be our friend. I will defintely miss Jenny and I wish her much success at her new school and with her new home in Beaufort! 
I will now be adding a new change: more phone calls, frequent emails, and more chatting to her on FB!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On Monday I went to my 1st offical Southern Savers Coupon Workshop! It was exciting and fun! I've been to a previous coupon workshop that was held by a well versed couponer and saver and she's gotten amazing deals for pennies and made this whole saving seem easy, but I wanted to hear it all from Jenny, herself. I've found within recent months that this whole couponing/saving is more like a science or an art!
I'm ready for this new challenge of trying to figure out how to spend less while getting more!
So here's my previous "thinkings" and current beliefs about all the spiel on couponing and saving!

Thoughts/Beliefs/Actions before Southern Savers:
1. Shopped at walmart for every item that I needed from food to toiletries.
2. Then shopped at walmart using ad comparisons (saved on some things).
3. Continued to shop at walmart but began using
ad comparisons and coupons (began to save
between 33% and 50% on everything that we needed).
Recently got $90+ dollars in toiletries plus
8 food items for $47.00!
4. Previous Thought: Why use a .50 coupon when
I was already spending $70.00?
5. Never bought a Sunday newspaper unless
someone I knew was in the engagement/bridal
section (even though I grew up having the
newspaper delivered daily to our house).
6. Made grocery lists based on weekly needs.

Now I know/Attempting:
1. To buy/subscribe to the Sunday State Newspaper
2. Subscribe to several magazines like All You for even
more coupons (2 sub. are better)
3. How to organize my coupons the accordian style. Check!
4. Make grocery list based on sales of items
that are at their rock bottom prices.
5. How to calculate the rock bottom price for items.
6. When I shop for rock bottom price items I need to
purchase a six week supply. When starting out I
need to purchase a week's supply of need it now items.
7. I understand coupon barcodes.
8. I know how ECB and Rewards work at two different drugstores.
9. I'm learning scenarios! Divide buggy items
into 4 piles (one in each corner), 1st pile, use ECB
that will pay for this pile, get 2nd ECB bucks from
1st transaction and buy 2nd pile, then use ECB
from 2nd pile to buy 3rd, then use ECB from 3rd pile
to buy 4th)...then Go Home!
10. Items in ads are not at rock bottom prices, usually.
Some, maybe!
11. Knows the following acronyms and what
they mean: OOP, WYB, RP, SS,
12. How to buy a BOGO with a BOGO coupon
and to only shop BOGO at drugstores.
13. National Brands are cheaper if used with
coupons (stacking) than with house brands.
14. Learn to like what's on sale. This is a biggie!
I'm sure that all the food items that I like aren't
going to be on sale!
15. That the "certain TV show" is bogus and
where's the food in their all 12 buggies? All I can see
is that there are 30 tubes of lipstick, 30 Pepsi's,
and a lot of rolaids!

Confusions or rather Time Constraints:
1. Kraft Dressing 14 to 16 oz, BOGO $3.19
   -$1/2 Kraft Salad Dressings 16-oz. Target Web Coupon
   -$0.55/1 Kraft Dressing (IE) Rolling Printable (FF)
   -$1/2 Kraft Salad Dressing 5/15/2011 RP Insert
     (exp 6/12/2011)
   -$1 off produce wyb 2 Kraft Dressing Tearpad
    As low as 5¢ per item with all the coupons
    if you’re buying produce anyway

The above doesn't really confuse me at all. I understand the acronyms the coupon value and where to find the coupon. What boggles my mind is that if I want this salad dressing for .05 cents I'm going to have to print off some coupons (possibly downloads...I'm not all about downloading anything like this to my computer...when it was tried once on my computer viruses like crazy were found and it was from a trusted site (luckily the viruses didn't "attach" my hard drive). If I don't already have the tearpad coupon that it mentions, I have to search for it in the grocery store and unless I go by myself I won't have the time to seach for it and what if they don't have it. And if I'm expected to already have the coupon from the tearpad..well that's a whole different story. What if I didn't walk down the dressing aisle to know that it even existed in the first place!
So playing out this item in hopes of gaining + money (overage) to pay for my produce, meat, and milk is now out of the cards and I have to do a lot of reconfiguring to stay within my initial budget for the grocery trip. Who has the time nor the energy? I am a teacher mommy and so how I spend my time is very important. So I'm not sure that I'm ever going to get this item for .05 cents. I'd be happy if I saved using the $1 coupon from the RP insert.
This all sounds exhausting but I know one person that has gotten $200.00+ groceries from Publix and only spent $8 and some change (the presenter from the 1st coupon workshop that I attended). She's been doing SS for about two years and chooses to shop at Publix and CVS. She is by the way a stay at home mommy!
I have a lot of questions about this whole SS process, but it will eventually unfold itself and I'll be well on my way to saving! Would love to hear your thoughts and feelings so please share!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Busy, busy! That's what we were this weekend! On Saturday C and I headed to the zoo! She loved it and couldn't wait to see the elephants and the giraffes! It was hot and it was busy but we had a lot of fun! We can't wait to go back!

Gross, I know! She thought that she could get very
close to those chickens "at the farm"! She loves the
chickens that are "at the farm" that's "at the zoo"!

After our zoo adventure we headed to C's Aunt Missi's
4-0 birthday party!

Alana reading to C! These two were so adorable

Friday, May 20, 2011

A few weeks ago this beauty queen had
her senior prom...

she shared her evening with her BFF's...

and her good friend John!

This crew had too much fun!

This sweet Courtney will be graduating in a few weeks
from high school and is Clemson bound!

This little beauty queen enjoyed
the big cousin's preprom festivities!
She so adores her big C!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This little girl can be...
demanding, strong-willed, sassy,
determined, grumpy, spiteful, sneaky,
 shy, and sometimes a bit challenging!

While she is all of those things
this little girl is also...
sweet, funny, silly, happy, smart,
delightful, easy going, loving...

hilarious, full-of-life, energetic,
bright, cheerful, dazzling, fearless,
thoughtful, joyous, pleasant,
& charming!

And at the end of the day, no matter what, we're blessed
beyond measure...

because she is ours!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Here's more Mother's Day pictures! Here's the Leviner grandchildren playing a game of softball before the cookout! They were great sports and loved playing the game. There were lots of hits, homeruns, laughs, and "big kids"!

Silas waiting to bat and Chrisitan waiting to catch!

Even Scoot got a run! Just like a pro!

Christian at bat!

The "big kid" I was telling you about! He doesn't
miss a beat when playing with his nieces and nephews!


Granddaddy as pitcher!


Franklin pushing Line! He was just the sweetest
to his littlest cousin. He's a dollbaby!

Here they are again! He was such a big helper to her!

The Leviners on Mother's Day!

Monday, May 09, 2011

This was the 3rd Mother's Day for me and I so enjoyed spending it with little Caroline! This year she could actually wish me a "Happy Mother's Day" and when she did (after Sam whispered for her to tell me) it was the absolute sweetest moment. I love being that little girl's mommy and I'm very blessed to have her as my daughter!
Our day was fun, blessed, and to add, very bittersweet. About six weeks ago Sam lost his childhood best friend, Gerald, in a work related accident. As Sam was pondering what "we" could or would do for Mother's Day he finally decided that he wanted to go to his home church in Orangeburg and sit beside Ms. Debra (Gerald's mother) for the Mother's Day church service. When Sam hugged and then handed Ms. Debra the bouquet of flowers there wasn't a dry eye around. It was a very sweet moment, one that as a mother myself I'll never forget.
It was our hope that Ms. Debra know that we love her and even though she's not physically our mother she has been in many ways a "Mother" to us, especially Sam. I can remember several instances where she showed me the kind of love that only a mother can give. One being when Sam and I broke up in our dating relationship and she comforted me in my teenage sadness (I remember her telling me to "pray for him", meaning Sam, how sweet)! I remember going on a particular church teen trip with Sam and I got pink eye for the very first time. Gerald's parents were chaperones and it was Ms. Debra that waited with me in the Dr.'s office for the diagnosis of "stink eye" (as Sam called it) and she was the one that for every couple of hours for days would put those awful yellow drops into my eyes all while knowing how contagious pink eye really is. I have many many more stories about Ms. Debra and Sam has countless. 
During the loss of her only child I can't imagine the depth of sadness that she and her husband have felt. I have seen sadness just like this when my parents lost my sister, Heather, and it's just heartbreaking. I do know that Ms. Debra has faith and grace. Faith that is as deep as the ocean and grace that can only be given by God. Even in her dark moments I saw a woman that was strong and courageous and wow what an example. The Lord doesn't promise that we won't have difficult times or hard moments but He does promise the sunshine. I love you, Ms. Debra and yes Happy Mother's Day from all of your children!
I will always remember Gerald. He made a very special day happen for Sam and me, Easter Sunday, March 31, 1997. This was the day that Gerald introduced Sam to me. I can remember that day like it was yesterday. I made a promise to Ms. Debra that everytime we celebrate that anniversary, or our wedding anniversary, or even Caroline's birthday that I would always remember that one day in which her son forever changed our lives. Not a day has gone by that we don't talk about him or remember some very funny story that he was part of. He was real, fun, and full of life and we are so thankful for all the memories past, present, and future. He'll never be forgotten.

Gerald walking his mother, Ms. Debra, to her
seat on our wedding day, June 24, 2006.

Sam and his brother, (the one that God let him choose) Gerald.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

I love seeing my little girl this giddy! This little girl loves getting all sandy! Sandboxes are a big hit at our house and Ms. Leah's! I think she could spend hours scooping and making sand piles. After all this much fun, I don't know how there could be any sand left for the next sandbox visit because sand finds the tiniest places to hide like in shoe soles, diapers, hair, socks, etc. It somehow seems to have found a permanent home in her bathtub and on our bed and couch, nevertheless, she loves it and I love all the fun!

C also loves all things soft! She loves this monogrammed towel that she got from her friend Jack for her birthday! When I gave it to her she wrapped herself in it and began "reading" Jack's card! She just looks so sweet with it all wrapped around her and from this photo I think she's really liking it too!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Easter this year was exciting! Not only did we celebrate Christ being risen, but this Easter had several firsts for Miss C! She helped daddy dye her Easter eggs on Saturday and on Sunday she had her very first Easter egg hunt. She had an absolute ball! She loved hunting for the eggs and her little face just lit up when she found one. She wasn't very happy when we had to go inside and get cleaned up! The dye on the eggs began to come off because the eggs began to "sweat" due to it being warm outside. She however loved eating her pretty eggs for a snack (she didn't like the yellow part at first, but then later as she tried a few more, she loved it...I still don't "love it")!

Dying eggs with daddy!

C on her first egg hunt!

I found another!

Counting my eggs in my basket!

C's egg treasure!