Friday, April 30, 2010

Mexican Cupcakes(or Fun Taco Cups)

What you Need !

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg.  (1-1/4 oz.) TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Taco Seasoning Mix
1 can (10 oz.) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/2 cup  KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Make It!

HEAT oven to 400°F. Cook meat with seasoning mix as directed on package.
PRESS biscuits onto bottoms and up sides of 10 muffin cups; fill with meat mixture.
BAKE 15 min. Sprinkle with cheese; bake 2 to 3 min. or until melted.

I copied this straight from the Kraft Foods website.  I used the brands I had on hand.  I think I made this for around $4 and we had leftovers for Clayton and me to have lunch the next day.  It's really easy and very tasty.  You should deffo try it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Our lives changed forever one year ago today.  At 11:47am if you want to be exact.  We felt like the floor had given way beneath our feet.  Nothing has been the same since.  We had to tell the world and that may have been as difficult as telling ourselves.  But here we are 1 year later.  Completely changed.  Healing.  Learning that life goes on even as one earthly life ends.  We are different people because of the past year.  We've aged but not necessarily matured.  Life and therefore every single precious day, now has more value.  Little laughs and crocodile tears from cute little red heads now have much more value.  Life's sad days are even more sad, but we've found more hope than we ever imagined possible.  The funny things that each day brings are 1,000 times more funny(and we really do enjoy a good laugh in our family).  We have found our genuine smile again.  We have found love that we never knew possible from our family, our friends, ourselves, and most importantly from ous Savior.  We know without a doubt that His peace passes all understanding.  We know that our Father hurts when one of His children hurts and He also heals His child.  He has proved more sufficient than we knew possible.

Today marks 1 year since we learned that Johanna had Trisomy 18. It was a thought incomprehensible to us at the time but 1 year later it's part of our new kind of normal.  I've been asked if I could have a healthy 6 month old Johanna would I change our circumstances and the events of the last year.  And I can finally honestly say NO.  To take away Johanna's Trisomy 18 would be to take away who she is.  God created her fearfully and wonderfully.  So No I wouldn't change her extra chromosomes.  I wouldn't change one thing about Clayton and I wouldn't change one thing about Johanna.

I journal every day.  It's usually short(but not always sweet).  And my journal entries are usually more of my brief written prayers.  Writing makes my thoughts more concrete and it also gives them a permanent place to dwell.  Last night as I was journaling I looked back to last April and I read through the uncertainty. 

April 27, 2009
Thank you for all of your blessings today.  Thank you for keeping the baby alive and for allowing the baby to be otherwise healthy.  Thank you for putting your hand on the baby and keeping it safe.  Please touch the results of the CVS(Chorionic Villus Sampling).  Help us to accept those results with grace and wisdom. Thank you for this baby and for what we are learning every day.  It's my desire for the fluid to dissolve no matter the ultimate chromosomal outcome.  Thank you for your blessings.

April 28, 2009
Thank you for a great and resftul day.  Thank you for our children and for all the joy that they bring to our lives.  Thank you for  the privilege to raise and love another person in this way.  Please provide calm and peace tomorrow as you have your will and way.  Thank you for what you are doing and how you are working.

April 29, 2009(later in the evening after we received the CVS results)
Thank you for loving me.  Please help us to trust completely in you.  Please put your hand on Johanna and have your way in her life.  Thank you for allowing us to be her parents.

April 30, 2009
Thank you for a great day.  Thank you for providing peace and comfort.  Thank you for protecting Johanna thus far.  I want to be able to hold her before you take her to be with you.  Thank you for choosing us to be her parents.

I don't know how I wrote those things on those days.  It's amazing how God gives us exactly what we need when we need it.  I've seen that so many times in the last year.

This is the way we choose to remember Johanna.  Not sick or unhealthy.  But fearfully and wonderfully made.  Made in God's image and exactly how He planned her to be. 

"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:  marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." 
Psalm 139:14

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Day in the Life(Pictorial Version)

A healthy and wholesome breakfast of chocolate milk and toast

Clayton got new jammies.  I was detagging.

I have no clue what he's doing but it looked cute.

Practice makes progress, because I am a long way from perfect.

Gag!!!  This was load 1 out of 6.

I also had lunch with a friend today, but I forgot to take my camera.  You would have loved a picture of my Taco Salad I'm sure.

Coupons.  And you can see a little boy reading a book about tractors in the background.

Dinner.  This was a totally random meal I found by accident that was fantastic.  They were called Taco Cups but Chad and I renamed them Mexican Cupcakes.  I think that makes them even more strange.

Emma(or Marley) did this to my favorite flip flops.  I only wore them EVERY SINGLE DAY!  And yes they were in the closet with the door shut.  I don't know how she got them, but she did.

I spent a lot of my day here clicking away getting ready for Saturday.  And a 1 to 2 hour presentation on genetics I get to give in 2 weeks.  Seriously??  What am I going to say for 2 hours about genetics?  But it's a great opportunity to share our story about God's Grace and providence to a completely secular group.
And finally a lengthy game of Monopoly with the hubs.  He won because I ran out of money and refused to sell off any property.  And it was after midnight.  I was tired.

That was our day.  There was so much more that happens in any given day.  

But the best moment of the day was when Chad was giving Clayton his bath.  I was again at the computer working on my speeches for Saturday.  From our table you can see in Clayton's room and our bathroom.  And since our house is tiny you can hear everything from everywhere.  Totally out of the blue I hear "Your bath water is not hot, it just feels that way."  I thought I would fall out of my chair.  In fact it's funny right now.  And then as if this is completely normal conversation in our house I hear "Stop drinking your bath water.  I said stop.  Spit it out now."  I guess this is completely normal conversation with a 2 year old.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday(in bullet form)

  • Mom and my SIL went to the E(xtraordinary)Women Conference in Greenville, SC over the weekend.  It was a lot of fun.  Jeremy Camp and Matthew West were both in concert during the event and they were fantastic.  There were a lot of great speakers that were challenging and motivating.  We laughed and cried.  It was the perfect female event.
  • I earned my man card(a joke between my SIL and me) yesterday.  I helped Chad take down a fence.  If you remember from last week that I loathe yard work.  And that includes fence work.  But I like to think that I never shy away from a challenge.  Chad asked if I would be willing to help him and I said "sure sounds like fun".  It was fun.  I have a blister on my thumb....tear.
  • I have two speaking engagements for Saturday.  Yeah two on one day.  Exciting.  I have a new dress for them.  Equally exciting.  I get to talk about storms and women.  I'm not an expert on either but I am a woman and I've been through storms.
  • Lunch with my friend today.  Yummy!
  • Laundry awaits.

Friday, April 23, 2010

How I Met My Hubby(and a few other things)

Show Us Your Life with Kelly's Korner

I think I shall link up with Kelly today and tell ya'll how I met the hubs.  And then a few other things later on in the post.

Chad and I met at church many year ago.  I think I was about 13(I think but don't hold me to that).  Anyway I kinda thought he was strange and a little odd.  You gotta remember that Chad is 100% country and I am 100% not country.  He wears boots and I wear sparkly completely useless flip flops.  That's just how we roll.  Anyway I grew up in church.  Chad did not.  His family was not faithful to church until they started going to the church we attended when he was a teenager.  After sometime his family recommitted their relationship with the Lord and became faithful to the church and to the Lord(which really is more important that faithfulness to the church, just sayin').

I was really young so I still didn't pay much attention to Chad.  But little by little this hard core country boy began to catch my eye.  And when I say country I really do mean it.  Back in the day Chad was a blue ribbon rodeo star(calf roping and horsemanship), worked on a commercial hog farm, lived on a commercial poultry farm(can we say GROSS!!), and can fix about anything with a diesel engine.  He's still trying to teach me the difference between donkeys and mules.  Don't judge.  I don't remember how things progressed but shortly after I turned 16 we went on our first date.  We saw the worst movie ever "The Truman Show".  It's a funny story now though. 

We dated(which mainly meant the movies or Friday and Saturday  night dinners at my house) for about a year and then we broke up.  I still maintain that it's all Chad's fault.  But for some reason he says it's mine.  I'll never believe that.  We didn't so much as speak for a year and a half.  But then one day we went to McDonald's(very romantic I know) and it was like nothing had changed.  That was in March and we were married in October.  I was 19 and he was 20.  Getting married that young without a doubt has its challenges.  But God has worked wonders in our lives and our relationship and kept us together, faithful to each other, and faithful to Him.

Our lives are interesting that's for sure.  We are incredibly busy and wouldn't have it any other way.  We joke and say that God gave us the life we never knew we wanted.  And every word of that is true.  This is the condensed version for sure.  Maybe one day I'll give ya'll the rest of the story(ie what God purposed independently in our hearts that year and a half that we wouldn't speak to each other).

A few more things(bullet style):
  • Leaving for another Ladies Conference in a few hours with Mom and my SIL.  I'm excited and can't wait for the fun that you have by being around all ladies.
  • My dad's BDay was this week.  Happy BDay Daddy!!  Now I need your help for a gift for the man that has everything.  Seriously some help would be nice.  I can't let my brother show me up.
  • I turned Clayton's room into a big boy room yesterday.  I cleaned out all of his baby toys and took down some of his baby decorations.  He now has a truck and tractor room.  Besides Veggie Tales(and I am NOT decorating his room with Bob the Tomato) trucks and tractors are his most favorite thing in the world.  And they are his most prized possession.  He room is all "trucked" out now.  He walked in his room last night and said "Wow".  Too cute and worth all day sorting the plastic toy mountain.
  • And last but certainly not least.  Johanna would have been 6 months old today.  I can say that today without tears but not without emotion.  My heart still breaks for what I don't have and for what I feel like I'm missing.  But that also means she's been with Christ for 6 months.  And it's all been part of one eternal day for her.  Miss ya JoJo.  See ya soon.
Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

To Love Their Husbands Tuesday

I do love my hubby.  I really do.  He's fantastic to me.  He takes care of Clayton and me.  And always makes me feel like his special princess.  Chad has put up with a lot in the last year and it hasn't all been good.  There have been a lot(and I do mean a lot) of ups and downs and Chad has helped me through all of that stuff.

So how do I show him that I love him?  Probably in a lot of the same ways that ya'll do.  I do the laundry and clean the house(sort of).  But yesterday I lugged limbs around the yard.  I loathe(hate, detest, despise, etc.) yardwork.  I'm allergic(not highly but just enough to be annoying) to most seasonal pollens and grass that is either being mowed or has just been mowed.  Chad does all the yardwork for our family.  We have almost 2 acres of complete grass so there's a lot of work to do.  Anyway, Chad wanted to trim(or chop down completely) some of the bushy looking things in our yard.  I volunteered to haul them away while he tinkered with the lawn mower.  I did it and have a blister on my thumb to prove it.  He was happy that the yard is less bushy.  I was happy to helps the hubs.

That's what I did yesterday to let my husband know he is very special to me.

Monday, April 19, 2010


This week will begin a number of "1 year since" for us.  In some ways it's hard to believe it's been a year since our world turned upside down.  But on the other hand we're still getting used to the facts and statistics(for lack of a better word) that are now included in our life.

  • April 21st = 1 year since we first found out that something wasn't "normal" about our baby
  • April 27th = 1 year since we first saw the perinatologist and began testing for abnormalities
  • April 29th = 1 year since we said hello to Johanna for the first time and began our lengthy goodbye(or better put, see ya later) to her
Our lives are compeltely different than they were this time last year.  They are different for the better(yes I mean that honestly and compeltely).  It's been a year I would have never chosen to go through but a year I would do again.  Even for 63 short minutes I would do it all again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Shameless Plug

What:     Youth Revival
When:    Saturday April 17th @ 7pm, Dinner at 5:30pm
Where:   Calvary Baptist Church Lenoir, NC(this is where we are privileged to serve and minister)
Who:      Pastor Keith Bowman of Bright Light Baptist Church Statesville, NC will be bringing the message for the evening. 


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Vision, Humor, Trees, Glasses, and Sharks

Today I saw:

  • An adult wearing pajamas in public.  This really irritates Chad and very very few things irritate Chad.  We're talking full on flannel PJ's with tennis shoes and a ratty t-shirt.  Gotta love living in the country.  Does this happen to ya'll city folks?
  • And adult male with a tattoo on his forehead.  It was like a sun thing in the middle of his forehead with some kind of crazy swirly thing on each side of his face.  It was very strange.  Clayton didn't quite know what to make of the situation.  It's not like you see that every single day.  He just kinda stared at the guy and then gave him the evil eye.
  • Mattie(Dad's dog) standing on a glass coffee table.  Somehow she got on the table by accident and then she couldn't figure out how to get down.
  • A hefty sized lady wearing a belly shirt while I registered for summer classes.  I think my warped sense of humor is gonna love going back to school.
  • A five star chef cooking bologna on a stick.  And I happen to think this is brilliant and he should be awarded the Nobel Prize for putting a stick on bologna and then deep frying it.
It has been a most fascinating day.  I'm thankful that God has given me the gift of sight and also the gift of humor.  And yes I do believe God intends for us to have a little joy in our life.

Tomorrow Clayton and I are gonna go with Tram to the eye doctor and help her pick out new glasses.  And then, drumroll please, we're going to a hands-on science museum type place in our area.  They have fish and sharks and stingrays and things that live in trees and a hands on area for preschoolers(and appartenly run-on sentences).  Tomorrow evening we have our monthy ladies group meeting.

And then..............

The hubs will be home late tomorrow evening.  YAY!!!!!  It's been nice to sleep in the middle of the bed.  Well I may or may not do that anyway, but this week nobody has made me move.  But I'm ready to have him home so our lives can get back to their abnormally normal state.

Good night peeps.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Clayton and I survived our first night alone. Actually we enjoyed ourselves immensely.  He got to play outside after dinner for 2 hours.  We played trucks and tractors and ball.  And then rode the horse with Uncle Andrew(Chad's brother) and our almost nephew Zach(it's a way long but wonderful story, and hopefully he'll be completely ours before long).  Clayton loves Zach.  Zach is 6 and I kinda thought he would get aggravated by a 2 year old following him around all googly eyed, but he doesn't.  Then while Clayton ate a snack with Mawmaw I taught Zach the finer points of football.  But I told him I would only teach him if he would be an Alabama fan.  We didn't succeed at our first(and only) play.  Nick Saban would have been disappointed at our blocking.  But in all fairness my blocker was outweighed by 200 pounds and outnumbered by about 20 years.  Andrew was the entire opposite team.

I started a new Bible Study last night and I LOVED IT.  It's a 365 day walk through the women of the Bible.  It started oddly enough with Eve.  Imagine that right.  And the approach was so different than I imagined.  Usually Eve is seen as this evil, insubbordinate, disrespectful, and headstrong woman.  And all of that is true.  But she was also a broken woman.  And because she became broken God used her in an amazing way and taught her amazing lessons and theological principles(don't I sound smart).  Eve was broken by her sin and its consequences.  Of course she had all the consequences we normally think of.  But for herself she had to pay the consequences in the lives of her sons.  One son was murdered and the other son was the murderer.  I'm pretty sure that was a rough day.  But then God restored her and gave her another son, Seth.  And from reading the scriptures we find that Eve had something a lot of us(I fit in this category too) never achieve.  She had VICTORY.  She knew the battle was the Lord's and not ours.  She knew that even though the snake would bruise the heel of her offspring her offspring would eventually crush the head of the snake(obviously paraphrased).  I think Eve had mommy and wife guilt and life guilt like we all do.  But she could live about that guilt because she remembered that God had already given her the VICTORY. 

And you can too.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I've Got The Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down In My Heart

I had a post by this title schedule to run bright and early Friday morning.  But apparently Blogger freaked out and decided not to run it.  And then as that post described I would be away from my precious lappy for the weekend so I had no way(or time) to fix it.  And then I somehow broke my Facebook account from my phone and the world felt like it was tilting sideways.

Anyway all that was to say that the ladies of our church went to the Women of Joy conference in Pigeon Forge, TN for the weekend.  It was wonderful, fun, silly, joyful, worshipful and oodles more.  I decided at the last minute not to take my laptop so I could live in the moment and really enjoy all that the weekend had to offer and not feel like I needed to check email, blogs, or anything else.  I can FB from my Blackberry and since I mainly use FB for people I know in real life I like having that connection.  But then I somehow killed FB on the BBerry on the drive up the mountain.  I don't know how that happened but I was exceedingly mournful.  Thankfully my SIL took her mini lappy(to harvest her Farmville crops if you must know(this has brought me much joy this weekend)) and I swiped it momentarily to fix my FB account.  And then all was right in the world again. 

So that's where I've been.  Now Chad has headed to Louisville, KY for a pastor's conference.  This is his first conference and he is way excited.  Clayton and I are gonna hang around the house, register(and pay GAG!!) for summer classes, visit our local science museum for some hands on fun, and just do our thing.  He's currently roaming the house in a new pair of lime green flip flops.  CUTE!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shameless Plug

Shameless Plug Time:

Youth Revival:     Saturday April 17th at 7pm, Dinner to be served at 5:30pm
Where:                Calvary Baptist Church, Lenoir NC
Preacher:             Pastor Keith Bowman:  Pastor of Bright Light Baptist Church in Statesville, NC

We want YOU!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Emma = Marley

If you've seen the movie "Marley and Me" then you know that they call Marley the "worst dog ever" among a collection of other things.  Well Chad and I have decided that Emma(or simply dog if you're a certain 2 year old red head) could be the next Marley.

  • She chews on everything.  Including the old door hangers still left on our door facings.  Our house had about a bazillion(that's a technical term) doors in it when we bought it.  So we took them all down but for some reason we haven't removed the hingey hangy things.  When we painted the door facings we(and I mean me) painted the hingey hangy things too.  She's completed chewed off all of the paint on each and every one of the door facings.
  • She is teaching Clayton how to bark.  They have recently been spotted barking at people that are walking down the sidewalk across the street.  And yes when I say they, I do mean both of them are barking.
  • She has been a house dog since she was just a few weeks old and she is just now starting to get the concept of using the grass to do her 'biz and not using the tile or hardwoods.
  • She has a taste for leather.  She has chewed up, in to tee tiny little pieces, one of Chad's belts(brand new) and a pair of really awesome nude colored dressy heels that I found at Goodwill for $3.  I was so excited about these shoes because they were something totally new and different for me.  I couldn't decide whether or not to wear them on Easter and at the very last minute decided to wear my black standbys and tossed the nude sandals on the bed.  Mistake!!!  There were tiny pieces of leather all over our bed.  Lesson learned.
  • We've recently given her a little more rope and are letting her stay our of her crate while we are gone and at night.  This works well most of the time.  But occasionally she decides that Clayton needs to be awake at 6am(or earlier).  She will either jump in his bed or stand at his bedroom door and bark at him until he gets up.  Then you hear the two of them roaming around the house.  It would be very cute and funny if it wasn't so very early.
But our Marley dog does go to bed with me every night.  She snuggles up beside of me and stays with me until Chad makes her leave.  She curls up with me on the couch if I fall asleep there(more often than not I do fall asleep on the couch).  While I was infirmed and calling for death(that's a joke, maybe) Emma didn't leave my side.  She hugged the porcelain throne with me and then curled up next to me when I eventually stumbled back to bed.  She also doesn't lick like a lot of dogs.  She will put her nose up next to you or even on you but she never licks.  And she likes to talk.  If she's not getting the attention she thinks she deserves then she will strike up a conversation.  I think she's a keeper.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

So Maybe It Wasn't a Better Day After All

In yesterday's post I mentioned that Monday was a better day than Sunday.  I was wrong.  That was before.......

Clayton woke up doing great and kept down his toast and juice.  He had horrendous diarrhea but I expected that and we just dealt with it.  Midmorning everything took a turn for the worst.  Last week I mentioned that it had been 14 or so years since I had been afflicted with a stomach virus.  And I also mentioned that I hoped it would be another 14 years, if ever, that I woul dhave another one.  Well it wasn't.  It was more like 10 days.  I most definitely did "catch" it again.  And this time it was so very much worse than the first time around.  This has been the absolute worst virus I can ever remember having.  Chad wasn't home when I first got sick so I had to call him and ask him to come home.  There is no caring for a 2 year old when you're sleeping beside the toilet yourself.

Things are marginally better this morning.  I'm home alone and resting the day away.  And I'm gonna try to degerm the house.  I hope your family stays safe and healthy.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Our Easter 2010

You know by now that our family does nothing the easy way.  And Easter was no different.  I love Easter Sunday.  It's such a special day for everyone, but especially for those of us that are God's children.  I don't know how Easter is done where you live but here in the south we do it up right.  Every one is in their finest duds.  And a lot of people have new kicks for Easter.  Then after church it's time for family functions and traditions.  And our family is no exception.  Except yesterday was the exception(and I think I win the prize for using exception an exceptional amount in one sentence).

Normal and wonderful Sunday morning.  Clayton went to sleep during church which is kinda unusual for him but not unheard of.  And considering that he was awakened by Emma(the dog) around 6 am yesterday morning I expected him to sleep through service.  Clayton woke up as we were leaving to head to Chad's parents for the afternoon.  And then the unthinkable happened.

Clayton became the next victim to the stomach virus that Chad and I(and my parents) last weekend.  And if you have a toddler then you know(as I learned today) there is no way to direct or predict when....uhm...."ruminate" is coming.  So I just let it happen right there in the pew. 

So all of our Easter plans were canceled.  The three of us holed up at our house for the afternoon.  Chad went back to church for communion during our PM service.  I hated to miss communion again.  I missed it last time because Clayton was sick.  Clayton and I stayed home and watched, "Marley and Me", "Shark Tale", "Open Season", and oodles of Veggie Tales.  A random assortment of moomees(movies for ya'll that don't speak Clayton).

So I have no pictures of Clayton in his really awesome Easter duds.  They had to be laundered as soon as we got home.  As did my Easter clothes and his car seat cover.  Chad and I did decide that a sick child would be a great abstinence lesson for teenagers.  Don't give them those mechanical baby doll things.  Instead just let them take care of a sick baby for 24 hours.  But that's just a theory.

Today's a better day.  We're on the BRAT(Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast) diet today.  I think the little man is feeling much better.  We're gonna reschedule all of his Easter plans and traditions for later in the week.  I know Easter isn't about all the traditions associated with it.  But those traditions give Chad and me another opportunity to teach Clayton about our Savior and His amazing love.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen

"He is not here:  for he is risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where the Lord lay."  Matthew 28:6

Friday, April 2, 2010

On This Day........

No silly words.  No lists or ramblings.  Only Praise!

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  
Isaiah 53:5

But there is so much more......................................................

Thursday, April 1, 2010

How I Do What I Do

I've had some questions, comments, concerns, blah, blah, blah sent my way about coupons.  I find this quite hilarious.  I am no guru.  That is for sure.  I make mistakes every single time those automatic doors slide out of the way at the grocery store.  But I'm learning.  And we've(and by we I mean me) seriously slashed our grocery budget in the last 2 1/2 months.  It's a lot of fun.  A lot of time and energy.  I don't do most of the really hard leg work myself.  I let some else do that for me.

  • Organization.  I have discovered this is the absolute most important component to couponing.  Knowing what you have and how to use it help me more than anything.  I use the 3 ring binder approach for storing my Q's(that's what we're gonna call 'em for here on out).  You can google coupon binder and you will find that you can purchase these pre-made from various places for a tidy sum.  Think upwards of $40 or more.  I simply bought a binder I liked with a zipper(that seemed important to me because I'm a tad bit clumsy), tab dividers, and baseball card holders.  I had $21 in the Q binder.  That's a savings of 50%.  
  • Consistency.  You either have to do it or not.  There is no straddling the fence in the Q world.  If you're gonna do it,then go all the way.  Completely rethink your spending lifestyle.  That's what we had to do to make it work.  I consistently buy 3 Sunday papers every week.  It's important to buy the largest paper that circulates in your area.  For us that's the Charlotte Observer.  Our local paper is like comparing the Walmart circular to the Sears and Roebuck catalog.  Why do I buy 3 papers for a family of 3?  The secret to Q's is striking while the iron is hot.  You want to purchase the item at it's rock bottom price and then use your Q on top of that.  If you can get mustard for .25 then why not get 3 mustards for .25 and stock up for a while.  Then when you need it you don't have to go to the store and pay $2.25.
  • Time.  Qing does take a lot of time.  It takes time to clip, organize, weed through, plan your shopping list, and even shopping takes extra time.  I have discovered it's easier to do when I can go without Clayton.  But that rarely happens.  After attempting to ingest raw chicken and tortilla shells all in one trip I decided to try those goofy looking kiddy friendly buggies.  They are a pain to drive(I may or may not have toppled over a partial display of Ritz Crackers) but a life saver for Qing.
  • Humor.  Enjoy your adventures.  Mom and I have some crazy stories.  Especially about trying to figure out Glade Candles at Christmas.  I kindly requested that Chad stop at a different store(because it was more convenient) than where the best deal was so he could help me figure out exactly which candle was on sale.  He groaned but I saved $$$$$.
  • Help.  Don't try this game alone.  Either learn the ropes with someone, use the web, or get yourself a Q mentor.  Just get help or you will get frustrated.  Mom and I work together to find the best deals.  I also use a variety of websites.  Southern Savers is my favorite.  But I do have links on the right sidebar.
Think of Qing as a game.  It's a challenge to pay the least amount possible for any given product. You will make mistakes and that's OK.  Learn from the mistake and move one.

When I was made to be unemployed I self imposed a grocery budget of $200/month.  In addition to food that amount also includes diapers, wipes, cleaning products, and toiletries.  The first month I hit it dead on.  Month #2 I went $6 over.  And for March I was $24 over.  But Harris Teeter was running Triple Coupon so I had to hit that up as many times as possible.  I did reduce my April grocery budget by $24 to compensate for the overages in March. 

I hope this helps. 

Happy Qing!!