Sunday, August 23, 2009

Homefront happenings

Well here I am, slacking off again! Well, not right now, as I'm finally blogging again. But I'll admit that other things have definitely taken priority these past few weeks! I've been busy with Familia meetings, errands, dance classes, church, you name it! Rita took her first ever dance class this past Thursday! It was such a joy to see her look up to her teacher in awe and learn how to tap and ballet herself across the room. As I watched her, I remembered fondly my dancing days as a little girl. Such great memories! Unfortunately she's currently screaming and throwing a fit in her bedroom, not wanting to go to sleep, but I digress . . .

Ellie and I spent some quality time together this afternoon while David took Rita to Lowe's to get some new lights for her "princess" aquarium. I read stories to Ellie - well, until she got bored with them, that is (which wasn't long). Then she explained to me how her toys worked and insisted on listening to the baby in my tummy (AS IF!!!) with her toy stethoscope. Hee hee.

Joshua now has two teeth as of a few days ago! He's also sitting up on his own. I can't believe how fast he's growing! I love having a little boy; he is so precious to me! And it's just as much fun going through all the stages with the third baby as it is with the first.

Our fall is going to be really busy! We're starting kindergarten (homeschooling) with Rita after Labor Day. It should be an adventure! Homeschooling is something I've always wanted to do, and I can't wait to get started. I've been using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with Rita since June and she can now read entire sentences by sounding out the words. We'll be continuing with that book and then using Five in a Row for reading when we finish it. We'll also be doing math, handwriting and religion.

Also, this week Rita will be starting with a K4J club, which should be fun.
We'll be continuing with our children's adoration hour at a local parish once a week as well. The kids and I really love being able to make a weekly holy hour, and it's nice to get out of the house too. And I'll be starting Familia!
We've already had our first planning meeting and I am really excited about it and looking forward to learning more about my faith and how I can better pass it on to my children.

In other news, David's grandmother passed away this past Monday of a brain tumor. We were able to attend the funeral Friday and spend time with his family afterward. It's sad for me because both of my grandmothers are gone, and now both of his are too. His grandmother was sort of like a grandmother to me too, and I even called her "Grandma." We will love her and miss her always, and cherish many fond memories of her in our hearts. Rest in peace, Gladys.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Grocery Trip and Garage Sale

My total for grocery shopping Saturday morning was $87.90. That included a few of things that were not on my list initially, that I remembered we were out of at the last minute - oatmeal and orange juice. And I also got some lunchmeat because it was on sale.

My sister in law Robin and I had a garage sale this weekend, Thurs-Sat. It was pretty successful, and we ended up making over $500 between everyone, thanks to some extra things that her parents and our inlaws, and another sister in law (Melinda) sent our way. So I came home almost $200 richer!

Here are some before and after pics:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My System

I thought I'd blog about my "system" as far as meal planning/grocery list making/shopping goes. Over the years I've continued to perfect my system and it is still a work in progress. But I'd like to share what I've done with it so far. It is a long and tedious process, which some may think is way too much work, but my goal is to save money so I'm willing to put in some extra time if it means that we will stay within our food budget. I budget $500 a month for our family of five - my husband and I, a four year old and two year old who eat like teenagers, and a nursing infant who, while not yet eating solids, weighs 20 lbs at 4 months of age and causes his mother to have a voracious appetite. For July I only spent $492, which is an incredible accomplishment for me, so I was rather proud.

Every Friday night I write out my meal plans for the coming week (starting with Saturday and ending with Friday) and make my grocery list. Then I do my shopping on Saturday mornings while David is home with the kids.

Step 1: Coupons. I have a coupon holder where my coupons are organized by category. I go through these, throw out the expired ones, and look to see which ones are going to expire in the next week. I set those aside and then see if there are any sales where I can use them to actually save money (vs. buying the store brand or a cheaper brand, or nothing), which leads me to step 2.

Step 2: Store circulars. I gather the store circulars for the week and look through them for good deals. If one of my children has made them into a paper airplane, it's ok because they can also be found online.

Step 3: Inventory. I look through my freezers, refrigerators and pantry to find things that can be used in meals, and I write them down. For example, last week I found a ton of chicken about to hit its use-by date on clearance, and I bought all ~10 packages and froze them. This week's list looks like this:

dry beans
pearled Barley
lasagna noodles
bowtie pasta
chicken broth
Italian dressing
frozen corn
frozen chicken
frozen pork chops
frozen stew meat

Step 4: Meal Plans. Using the coupons, store circulars, and inventory list as my guide, I write out a meal plan for the week, keeping in mind anything we may have going on in the evenings during the week. For example, this Tuesday evening we are going to a play, so dinner will probably need to be something in the crockpot so that dinner prep doesn't make our getting ready to leave the house even more rushed. Also, I'm now doing meal plans for breakfast and lunch as well, although I'm a lot more flexible with those than I am with dinner.

So this is my meal plan for this week:

Sat: B - eggs and toast
L - lunch at Robin's house
D - Beef and Barley Soup with Beans

Sun: B - eggs and pancakes
L - chicken bowtie pasta salad
D - sandwiches

Mon: B - oatmeal
L - leftovers
D - Papa John's night (lg pizza for $5.99!), salad

Tues: B - oatmeal
L - egg salad sandwiches
D - Busy Day Italian Chicken (in crockpot), salad

Weds: B - oatmeal
L - egg salad sandwiches
D - Potato soup in crockpot

Thurs: B - oatmeal
L - Leftovers
D - Pork chops, mixed veggies, rice

Fri: B - oatmeal
L - Leftovers or sandwiches
D - Cheesy vegetable chowder and homemade bread

Snacks this week: homemade peanut butter cookies, homemade muffins, homemade granola bars, homemade pomegranate popsicles

And here is my grocery list for tomorrow:

Plums (on sale)
Green grapes (on sale)
Other cheap fresh fruit
7 Roma tomatoes (usually the cheapest kind per lb)
2 avocados
3 onions
Pomegranate juice
Coffee (free with coupon)
Veggie broth
Beef broth
Parmesean cheese
8 oz can crushed pineapple
Chocolate chips
2 cans evaporated milk
3-4 gallons of milk (depending on the dates; on sale)
cottage cheese
Frozen cherries

I'll report back with the total amount I spend!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A New Start

Well, I've decided to revive my blog. I really love writing, and if some of my friends who have as many or more children than I do can blog, so can I! I'm going to start with a goal of blogging every Friday and Sunday at a minimum. If I'm able to do it more often, then it will be a pleasant surprise. As most of you know, since my last (and first) blog post, we have moved to a new city and had a thrid child, Joshua, who is now 4 months. Things are still wild and crazy at our house, but we're adjusting! Sometimes (ok, most times) the laundry doesn't get folded the same day it gets washed, and the trash can may be overflowing before it gets emptied, but we have the three biggest blessings any married couple could ask for!

My sister in law Robin has also revived her blog, so I am using her as inspiration. She suggested that I post my weekly meal plans here, as she is doing. For right now we are only doing meal plans for supper, so here is my plan for this week:

Mon. 7/27 - Crockpot roast with carrots and potatoes, salad
Tues 7/28 - Honey mustard chicken, mixed veggies, diced potatoes
Weds 7/29 - Pizza, salad
Thurs 7/30 - Busy day Italian Chicken, salad
Fri 7/31 - Crockpot potato soup with lentils
Sat - go shopping!

Friday, December 14, 2007

One crazy day!

I've decided to start this blog mostly to chronicle my adventures with my children. My daughters, Rita, 2.5 years old, and Elizabeth, 9 months, are most definitely a tremendous blessing to my husband and myself and we are incredibly thankful for them. But sometimes they take us places we don't really want to go . . .

This is how my day went yesterday:

11 AM - left the house to go into the city (45 minute drive) to get proofs from portrait session yesterday. I was assured by the photographer that they would be ready by 11:00 today so that we could pick out our Christmas card picture and design.

11:45 - We get there and they aren't ready. "Amber" at the front desk tells me they probably won't be ready today. I'm mad that I have made the drive for that sole purpose and wasted gas, but I don't say anything to her. Says she will call me when they are ready. I ask if we can use the restroom (since we had a 45 min drive home ahead of us). No, there's a portrait session going on in the back where the restroom is, so we can't. Fine, I didn't have to go that badly anyway. Apparently Rita did. We walk out and I'm treated to a 10 minute screaming-bloody-murder-tantrum from Rita about how she wants to go potty in the store. I hope Amber heard it too.

12:00 - We pull up at Chick Fil A after I manage to, by some miracle, find ~$7 in change in my purse. I figure we can eat lunch and Rita can play in the indoor playground and chill out a little. I ask her if she wants to go in and go potty and she says no. I know that means she has already peed her pants. I get her in the front seat and change her clothes.

12:10 - We go in, and go to the bathroom. I answer my cell phone (David calling) with my underwear and pants around my ankles while Ellie plays on the filthy floor and Rita disassembles the sanitary napkin disposal bin. I inform him we aren't having any more children.

12:15 - We order, sit down (the nice man who took our order carried our food to the table). Rita eats three of her four chicken strips. I eat half of my wrap and am about to tackle the other half when Rita shoves the tray across the table announcing she's done, and knocks my wrap on the floor.

12:30 - I sit and watch the kids play in the play area and sip my water while my stomach continues to growl. I change a poopy diaper on the floor.

1 PM - We leave, and I get to hear two more toddler tantrums on the way home, all the while shaking from stress. I eat a bag of chocolate chips found in the diaper bag.

WAIT. It gets much better.

1:45 PM - We arrive home. I take Rita inside. I hang up my keys and put down the diaper bag and my purse. I go out to the car to get Ellie. I come back and Rita has locked me out of the house. I cannot convince her to open the door. I call David at work who comes and lets me in the house 20 minutes later. Rita, meanwhile, poops her pants and takes my Tucks pads that were setting on the bathroom counter and scatters them all over the bathroom floor, doing a little wall-cleaning with them too. Nothing like a little witch hazel to freshen things up.

Oh, and while David was on his way to rescue me, Amber called and said the proofs were ready.
It's just been one of those days . . .

Then today (Friday), adventures at the grocery store:

Back into the city we went this morning to look at the proofs and order the Christmas cards. I got two calls from the hospital this morning, begging me to work. Too bad I couldn't! They were even offering bonuses, so I know they must have been short-staffed pretty badly.

We got to the portrait studio and this time Amber had my pictures ready. She was very nice, and everything went pretty well, except for Rita un-doing her pigtails and yelling "Get my hairtie! Get my hairtie!" while she waited for me to finish looking at the pictures. We ordered the cards and left. Yesterday I had vowed that I would leave there and come directly home, but I had managed to come up with a grocery list last night, and I wanted to avoid having to stop at the store tomorrow night on my way home from work, so I couldn't resist going by HEB.

So we get into the store and head immediately to the bathroom near the produce section. That's the only restroom there that I am aware of. I had the girls in the cart since the front part is a double seater and that is the easiest way for me to get us all into the bathroom and avoid having Ellie on the floor. Just before we got there, a woman at the last table in the dining area got up with an infant on her hip and carrying a clean diaper and a pack of baby wipes cut into the women's restroom about a half a second ahead of me. So I stood outside and waited with the cart while Rita climbed back and forth between the front seat and the main area of the cart. After several minutes, the other mother emerges from the restroom. We enter and the overwhelming smell of - well- you know - takes over. But that's ok; I'm a nurse and I can deal with it. I have Rita use the potty and get back into the cart while Ellie eats my grocery list. I inform Rita that she must sit in the front part of the cart while I shop. Upon attemting to strap her in, I find no way to enforce that, unfortunately, as the safety strap is broken. (It usually is, no matter which cart I pick or what store I happen to be at.) So we begin shopping. Produce area and cheese section are a-ok. Fast forward to the baking aisle. We get sugar and flour and some other things. I finally find the powdered sugar I need at the end of the aisle. I pick up the top bag and white powder begins to fly everywhere. All over me, my cart, my kids, and most especially the floor. The bag was ripped open in the middle before I ever even picked it up. Nice. I pulled out of the aisle and off to the side to clean up and brush it off of my hands and clothes. As I'm doing this, a middle-aged woman rolls by, gushing over the girls and says to me, "That's a beautiful baby boy you've got there."

"She's a girl," I called after her, becoming upset. I guess some people dress their baby boys in purple pants, a pink shirt, pink socks, and a mint green sweater with pink and purple snowflakes on them, but I'm not one of them!

Proceed to the feminine care aisle, where I peruse the tampons. Apparently yeast infections are something to be feared this time of year, as I had to wait for a couple of rounds of women before me to vacate that area before I could get some Monistat for myself. I shouldn't be surprised after spending the last two weeks with an abcessed tooth and being pumped full of three different kinds of antibiotics.

We got to the checkout line and I had to battle Rita trying to put gum and various types of candies into the cart for me to buy her. I know inquiring minds want to know, so you'll be happy to hear that I did inform the cashier of the powdered sugar fiasco so it could be cleaned up. I would hate for someone else to have to clean all of it off of their black turtleneck sweater and dark jeans!

As we were leaving I discovered that there is another restroom in the front of the store. Good to know.