Thursday, June 20, 2013

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Monday, June 10, 2013

How I Save Big At

I work to save $$, so when I shop, I look for how to save the most. Tonight I shared with someone in an online group one way I save on purchases I make shopping online. Since I had it all written out, I thought I ought to go ahead and share it here as well. 

Vitacost is the site I purchase vitamins, food and personal care products from the most. I make an order about every month or so...they usually have what I want, I can get free shipping, usually get it cheaper than in most stores, and never have to leave my house. I jump through a few hoops to get what I want, but honestly, it is more of a process to write about it than for me to do it now that I have this system in place for me to use. I took a few pics to show you exactly how to do what I I do.

First, I became a member at I save 4% per order at Vitacost by going through the ShopAtHome site to make my purchases. I get mailed a check when my total savings reaches the $20 mark. It is not a gimmick, it really works. I have saved almost $300 in the 2 or 3 years I have been doing this. Vitacost is not the only site I save on through ShopAtHome. The other day, I renewed my Norton protection, but went through ShopAtHome to do it. I saved $20 by using a coupon from the site and another $11 from the cash back savings!!!

When you sign up, if you use my email in the referral, we both get a $5 credit to our accounts. If for some reason it doesn't show up, let me know and I will contact them, or you can. They will definitely make it right. My email is

Here is how to sign up for account, in pictures...

First, go to,...

Fill in your info and my email, which is

Once you log in to your account, you should see a $5 credit to your account in the upper right hand corner. If you don't see it, you can still get it, but will have to contact customer service and let them know that the system didn't credit you. This usually only happens if you use one of the social sites to set up your account...

When you are ready to place an order, go to, and search for the site you want to make a purchase from. 

Click the 'Shop Now' button. 

You will be taken to the site to shop. It will usually open up in a new tab. 

Just shop as usual, and then place your order. Usually within 1-3 days, you will see a credit show up in your ShopAtHome account.

Also, on your first Vitacost order, you can get a $10 off credit when you sign up for an account using my link. I get a credit as well...and if you tell other friends using your link, you can get more $10 credits.

Here are a few quick pics showing how to get $10 credit at

On the next screen, fill in my email,

Click on the green, "Unlock Your Deal" button...

Now fill in your info,

That's it! You will get a discount code to use on your order!

I also got an extra discount at vitacost the other day by shopping on my iPad. They sent me a promotional email letting me know that I could get a discount for a short time by using my ipad to shop on their mobile site. I went to, clicked through to Vitacost, clicked through to the mobile site, shopped, then checked out. I got ShopAtHome credits and a coupon code from Vitacost to use on my next order. So, watch your emails! 


I hope this was helpful to you. If you found this tutorial to be helpful, or if you have any other great tips to share for saving money online, please leave me a comment below! I love comments and love learning about great ways to save!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Do You Want To Be A Butterfly Or A Freak?

This is from the book, "48 Days To The Work You Love," by Dan Miller. This quote is found on page 24- 25. I really liked this. I hope it ministers to you like it did me....

"The man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He watched the butterfly for several hours as a struggle to force its body through that little hole. Then it seems to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it could go no further. So the man decided to help the butterfly. He slipped off the remaining bit of the cooking. The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small shriveled wings. The man expected that the wings would enlarge and expand to support the body, which would contract in time, but neither happened. Instead the butterfly spent the rest of his life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never flew. What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon was God's way of forcing fluid from the butterfly's body into its wings, so that it could fly once  free from the cocoon. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need. If God allowed us to Go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us we would not be as strong and we could never fly!"

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mind Mapping

EROP Mind Map

I am sure much of the world  already knows about the wonders of mind mapping.

I didn't.

I can't tell you how excited I am to learn about this amazing tool.

Did I mention I was excited?

If you are unfamiliar with mind mapping, like I was, it is, in a nutshell, a method of laying out data in a non-linear way so you can see large amounts of data at a glance. It is essentially a picture of data organized much like your brain organizes it, through connections.

Mind mapping can be used in many ways to help you mange data.

You can use it to take notes, organize a project, communicate a plan, organize a  brainstorming session, organize a presentation or speech, memorize information, etc, etc.

As Tony Buzan, who is responsible for popularizing the term, 'mind mapping', said, it is a "tool of geniuses." It is a method that has shown up in the journals and work of great minds of the past such as Leonardo DaVinci and others. A mind map is a way to put things down on paper in a way that is much closer to how your brain actually thinks, with makes it easier to get it down as well as easier to sort through the data. It is esp great for visual learners, although I think it can work very well for the other learning styles as well.

You can use a pen and paper, a white board, or software designed for the purpose. They can be elaborate or simple.

Since stumbling onto the concept of mind maps and learning a bit on how to use them last week, it has been amazing how this simple tool has impacted my life.

So far, I have used mind maps to:
Create accurate pictures of the long range and short range to-do lists that float around in my head. The stuff that would normally require flipping here and there in my planner to write down, is all on one page in my notebook. I can easily add to it at any moment. I look at and think, "Wow. THAT'S why I have felt like I had a lot to do and it was so complicated...." Now I can see it, and am hopeful to actually make progress, because I can a plan, not just a list.

Create and then communicate plans of action on how life needs to happen and function in a season that is frankly, hard to function in right now. I may be the only mom who has this issue, but I very often find myself feeling like I am the only one that sees the plan. In many ways, I am. I have said many times, "I wish I could show them the picture in my head so they could understand!"  I have tried to follow the great advice of other moms and get the info out where they can see it in form of charts, schedules, etc. This had had some measure of success, but has been a bit of a struggle to get people excited about. And it never really communicated the real picture in my head. This past week, I did it. I drew a picture of how things need to happen right now in our home and why. They got it. It was great for all of us. (The picture at the top of this post is from our first home managing mind map.)

Take notes on short research projects and webinars.Haven't used the mapping for this a whole lot yet, but am excited about the potential I see for it. I have always been a terrible note taker. I predict mind mapping will be a simple and yet massive tool to help me take better notes in any setting and hopefully retain the info better.

Map a passage of Scripture. This was fun, and really made me think through the passage. When you are reading and mapping the connections that are laid out in the text, there is a richness that emerges. I am looking forward to learning more about using mind maps for Bible study.

Here are a few things I found to be helpful in learning about mind maps.

Google- Google "mind maps" "mind mapping" "how to mind map" "mind mapping uses" Blogs, websites and videos galore will pop up.
YouTube- YouTube was a great resource for me in learning about this. Esp as a visual learner, seeing it done was, well, worth a thousand words. Put the same searches into a YouTube search box. The results that mention Tony Buzan are esp helpful. This site has a gallery of mind maps that show some of the more elaborate  types of mind maps you can create.

Do you mind map? I would love to hear how you use mind mapping or other visual aids to help you organize your brain! Leave me a comment!


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Another Water Saver

Here another little water saving device that def is worth a look.

It is a  simple little device that screws onto the bathroom faucet. Turn on the faucet handles to the desired pressure and temp and you are set to save water. Simply push your hands into the little lever hanging from the faucet and water flows from the faucet until you move your hand, letting the lever swing back into place, stopping the flow of water. There are more than one type of this device and a variety of colors.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a video...(Hmm. How many words is a video worth...?)

Cool, huh?

Here is one place to get this type.
Smart Faucet

I also found another type of these nifty devices. You can find it here.
Danco Instant Off

Do you know of another type off instant off adapter?  Or another water saving idea? Leave me a link or tell me about it in the comments below!

Nichola http//

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Water Saving Ideas

I recently learned about some simple tricks to save $$ and water where a toilet is concerned. While I don't consider myself a  "greenie," I do like being responsible with my money. Simple ways to do that appeal to me.

The bathroom is an area of the house that uses a ton of water. Esp the toilet. It is in nearly constant use at my house. That means gallons of water down the drain with each flush, which equals $$ down the drain. Below are two ideas I think are pretty cool ideas for saving water in the bathroom.

The first water saving trick I learned about is a dual flush conversion kit. You can pay big $$ to buy a dual flush toilet, or just turn your existing toilet into a dual flush. With as many as I have using  the pot every day, it just makes sense to be able to use less water for light use, more water for heavier loads. =)
Here is a video explaining the can just watch about half the video as it repeat itself once. There is no talking, just some text and self explaining pics. It is about 1 min...

You can purchase several kits to convert your toilet, here is a good deal I found on what seems to be a quality model.

Another thing I was fascinated to learn about is a toilet sink. Evidently, Japan has been doing this for a number of years. It is such a simple way to save and reuse water with no extra effort. It also looks  like a great way to promote hygiene in the bathroom, when you flush the toilet, the water turns on, just stick your hands under the flow of clean water and wash up. You don't even have to turn the faucet off when you are done since it turns off automatically. The ultimate no-touch, automated sink!

Here is a video...

Here is a link to the site that sells the sink to fit on the back of the toilet tank...

I just really love this idea, even though it is a pricey. But it dosen't have to be.

Here is what one guy did... it won't embed but is worth a watch. The link below will open the video in a new window.

And another one.. (Rayna loved dancing to the music on this one =)

I am hoping in the near future to be able to implement these simple ways to reduce our water usage. My kids are excited about them, too. =)
Okay, so that was my show and tell project for today. =D Thanks for watching.

What are some things you do to save water in the bathroom, or any room of the house? If you have any tips to share, please comment! I would love to hear your ideas.

Nichola http//

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Welcome, Randal Carbon Steel!

Randall Carbon Steel Files was born at 4:30 am on Jan 4, 2013 at home, my second HBAC baby. He was 9 lbs 7 oz and 20 1/2" long and had been 41 weeks and 1 day in gestation. He was my shortest labor to date, only 4 hrs long.

Here is the story of his birth, copied from my baby blog.

Warning: Loong and a bit graphic. It is a birth story. At the end is a really cute story about my youngest kids, if you want to skip to the end and read that, feel free.=) )

On Jan 4, 2013 at 12:30 am, I finally went into real labor. =)
Intense labor.
Hard labor.
It was def a zero to sixty kind of experience.
David and I were lying in bed, talking a bit, about to drift off to sleep. I had been having contractions all evening, about like the ones I had been having for the past 2 weeks. Not worth mentioning or paying attention to.
I had felt like I might be getting closer that evening. I had passed some gas and had some bowel movements that were different. Earlier that day, actually the 3rd, I had gone to the chiropractor. I had had an adjustment to hopefully get things lined up and help the baby come down.
He came down after I got done shopping, got home, got everything put away, supper made, the kids in bed, etc.
While we were lying there, a contraction gripped me and was powerfully intense. David asked me in the baby was pushing or putting pressure, and all I could do was moan and then as it was easing up tell him it was a huge contraction. Another one hit, and as I listened to myself, I was shocked to find that I sounded like I was about ready to push the baby out. It felt like I was nearing that place.
I told David that we had better call Carol. Now.
I called. Voice mail. I left a message and hung up. I sent her a text. In just a minute or so, she called me. A contraction hit just as I answered the phone. I couldn’t talk, so David took over and told her that the contractions had hit really hard right off. She said, “Oh, no. I am on my way. I am grabbing my purse and heading out the door.” Click.
I was not able to help David get ready at all. Standing felt the best, but I was afraid to stand. The last time Carol had checked things, the baby’s head was not straight but a bit cocked and not hard against the cervix. While I was pretty sure he had straighten out, I didn’t know for sure that he was in the right position. If my water broke, I didn’t want to run the risk of another prolapsed cord. So I labored for the 2 1/2 hrs  took for Carol to get there mostly on my all fours. Mostly. I did some standing and swaying. I just had to. And the more I did, the more I realized that this baby had to be close to being born.
I had a lot of pain in my lower back. About the time Carol got there, it had intensified.
We had run out of propane that evening. I had hoped to be able to labor in the shower, nice hot water on my back. But had to release that to the Lord.
I had directed David to stick a pot of water on the wood stove to heat with some wash clothes in it. When Carol got here, it was nearly hot. Within a short time, she was putting hot rags on my back and pressing down hard on my lower back. It was awesome and just what I needed to help me get through that pain. I was making it, but oh, did that help.
Carol checked me. I was fully dilated and effaced all but a small lip. My water hadn’t broken yet, and Carol said that when it did, I would have the baby very soon. I couldn’t believe it. I had only been in labor about 3 hrs and I was nearly ready to have the baby!
I continued to labor, squatting, standing, going to the bathroom, etc.
About 20 min or so before he was born, I was standing in front of the stove and said I wanted to pray  again for the baby to turn and to not be born posterior. David began praying, and I felt the pain in my back leave. Carol said to me, “He just moved, didn’t he?! I saw your belly move!” He had moved and was no longer posterior.
Standing felt so good, I joked with David and Carol that I was going to call this my African birth. Standing and swaying my hips while praying loudly in tongues was just the way I wanted to labor. As did hanging onto David and letting him hold me, dead weight, through a few contractions.
Suddenly, I felt an enormous pressure toward my rectum. I had to push, but it felt so big. I was on my knees, head on the mattresses, pushing when my water broke. I could see that it was dark. I began praying over the baby. Carol checked him, he was fine, heartbeat was 130. I pushed a little more, and then wanted to turn around. I turned, leaning my elbows on the mattress behind me. I was really pushing now. I knew that I may be sore later, but felt like I needed to get the baby out, now. David and Carol were scrambling, trying to get in a good position to catch the baby and to get my legs in a good position to have him. I wasn’t fighting them, but couldn’t really move my legs either. I just pushed. I ended up lying nearly flat of my back as I pushed him out, but I was holding myself up with my legs on the floor and my arms supporting myself on the mattresses. David told me he could see the head, dark hair, he said. I was glad to know I was making progress. I kept pushing. Then, he was out! I was so overjoyed. David had caught him and he put him up on my stomach. I held onto him, just so happy that I wasn’t even able to open my eyes and look at him for a minute. Just feeling him on me was amazing.
We were lying tummy to tummy. Randall raised his little head up and was trying to look at me through vernix caked eyes. It was the cutest thing I have ever seen. Little puffy eyes blinking at me, little hands groping, hearing him breathe and snort.
David went to see if any of the kids were awake. He came back and reported that Keilah and Sarah were awake and had heard me have the baby. David told them to come on out, so they got to come out before Randall was even 5 min old.
The girls made us a snack platter with summer sausage, cheese ball, crackers and grapes. It was perfect.
Jakin got up after the placenta was delivered. He was very pleased to see the baby.
 Randall was born with a TON of verix. My midwife told us she had never seen that much vernix at a birth. It was soo thick. Usually the later a baby is, the less vernix there is. Randal was 41 weeks and 1 day. While I know my dates are totally accurate, he was def not a 'late' baby. The placenta was also not old. He was just right on time for him. =)

Okay, here is the promised story. =D

While I was in labor with Randall, it began to snow and by the time he was born, there was a beautiful blanket of snow. There was no wind as it fell, so it stacked up on the trees evenly and seemed to be the prettiest snow we had ever seen.

After Keliah, Jakin and Sarah had eaten a snack and gotten dressed, they headed out into the snow to play a bit before it melted. The sun was barely up when they headed out the door.

Carol laid down and took a small nap on our love seat. I had labored in the living room and had a couple mattresses stacked up to lie on. I was sitting/reclining on them when Travis came out. I was feeding Randall under a blanket. There was a table next to me where we had laid some birth supplies and our snack tray.

Travis came out, bleary-eyed and awake but still in a bit of a sleep haze.

He came over to where David and I were sitting, not seeing Carol sleeping on the loveseat.

 "Good morning," I said.

"Good morning," he said, as he started to climb into my lap for his morning hug as usual. I gently stopped him and was about to tell him about the baby when he saw the bulb ear syringe, used to suck gook out of the baby's nose, lying on the table next to me. Picking it up before I had time to say anything he said,

"What is this?!"

"It's for sucking junk out of a baby's nose."


I thought that might help him to realize what had happened while he was asleep. But he didn't seem to connect the dots in his haze.

"Travis, I have something to show you," I said as I pulled back the blanket covering the nursing baby.

He stared. A slight scowl was on his face as he said in a shocked voice, "Whose baby is THAT?!"

I did not laugh. I promise. It was a miracle from the Lord that I did not.

"It's YOUR baby," I said.

A huge smile replaced the puzzled scowl, delight spread over his now glowing face and he laughed as he said, "Ahha, ha, ha, HA!!!"

It was hilarious and soo sweet.

Then David told Travis we had another surprise for him.

"What is it?" he said.

"Go look out the window."

Travis went to the window. "Snow!!!" Then after a small moment, he said, "Uh oh, Daddy. Carol left her car here. She forgot to take it."

David didn't laugh, but I don't know how. "No, she didn't forget it. Carol is still here."

Travis whirled from the window, that puzzled frown back on his face and amazement in his voice.


"On the couch."

Travis came out from behind the stove, which had blocked his view of the couch as he stood at the window, walked over to the loveseat and grinning ear to ear smiled at Carol, sleeping on his couch. He couldn't have been happier to see her sleeping there. He looked very pleased, like she was an awesome Christmas present lying there. It was hilarious and cute all over again, and we couldn't even laugh about it!

 A few minutes later, Rayna woke up. She came out, sleepy and ready for her morning hug. Right before she got to me, as I was saying, "Good morning, Rayna," she spotted that bulb syringe on the table.

"What 'dat?", picking it up and looking it over. The baby was back under the blanket, so she didn't see him, just the amazing bulb syringe. =)

"It's for getting the yucky out of a baby's nose"


"Rayna, we have a surprise for you. Look!"

I opened the blanket and showed her the baby. As she started smiling, before she or I could say anything,

Travis loudly and joyfully told her, in case she didn't know, "It's YOUR baby, Rayna! It's YOUR baby!"

Then David told Rayna to look out the window.

She saw the winter masterpiece that had fallen from the sky. She had never seen snow before.

"What is it?" asked David.

In a awed whisper Rayna answered, "Pretty!" She was just mesmerized looking at the snow.

"Yes, it is pretty," I said. "Do you know what it is called?"

"Neah." (Rayna's version of 'yeah')

"What is it called?

"Pretty!" breathed the little awe-struck lady.

I think snow will always remind us of that amazingly cute moment. =D

Nichola http//