Friday, October 31, 2008
When they were tiny, they were both pumpkins one year. So cute! One year N dressed up as a doctor and C as a skeleton. Another year they were both St. George. And last year, C was Peter Pan, N was Captain Hook and L was Tinkerbell.
I haven't decided if I will even dress L up tomorrow night. Her Tinkerbell costume should fit again this year, or I think I have the pumpkin outfit in the closet. Hopefully DH won't have any evening calls so he can walk them around the neighborhood while I hand out candy.
I let the boys choose the candy we'd give out this year. They chose Airheads and Sour Patch Kids. I don't know if I really gave birth to these kids or not. LOL!
I never really liked Halloween. I was always scared as a kid when people dressed up creepy or their houses were creepy. The candy was nice, but candy was never in short supply for me -- my great aunts always had candy for me, and my maternal grandparents had an entire drawer full of candy for the grandkids. I'm not a prankster, so that was never an appeal. I'm just ambivalent -- but my boys enjoy the holiday, so I do what I can to make it special for them.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I was already limiting trips, consolidating trips, and had seriously cut back on get-togethers with friends who lived far away when gas prices creeped up to $2.50/gallon a couple years ago. DH had no choice but to drive for work, so I did my best to further limit our trips around town when prices broke $3/gallon.
I filled up yesterday for $2.62/gallon. This is a welcome relief, but gas prices stayed high long enough to force companies to increase their prices on things like groceries. While gas prices are dropping, those other prices will remain high. Companies will use the money they're saving on transportation to pad their profit margins, and help them through these current tough economic times.
Don't get me wrong -- I'm glad gas prices are dropping again. But, with the quick rise and drop of the gas prices, it makes me wonder what forces really were behind the price increase. Was it greed? Dishonesty? Both? It seems that much of our current economic woes can be traced back to the greed and dishonesty of a ridiculously large group of people in our country.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
- I didn't finish all my articles, but was able to get an extension for the couple I wasn't able to finish.
- Party goods shopped for and purchased!
- I didn't work on the proposals or the query. That was a self-imposed deadline, and I realize now it was not very realistic.
- Class successfully prepped by 10PM last night. C woke up at 3:30 puking. I had to get up at 6 to be on time. I was on time, and I had a great class. You couldn't have known I hadn't been in front of a classroom for 8 years! It felt great, and I can't wait for another class to be offered to me.
- I got the house clean in time for the party.
- The party was a great success. We hosted 24 kids and 8 adults stayed throughout the party. It was hectic, but fun! This was the 5th year in a row I've hosted a kid Halloween party, and I admit that I'm wondering if that might have been the last for a while.
- The pumpkin patch happened. It was hot this year (mid 90's) and sunny and I confess I was feeling miserable. Nate was also under the weather, but insisted he wanted to go. This is another family tradition, so we didn't want to miss. I really hope next year a cold front blows through.
- We skipped football this weekend. Nate wasn't feeling well, and I was overwhelmed with all that still needed to be done for the party. We won't miss again this season.
- My wonderful DH fixed the PC laptop in plenty of time for my massive prep session Sunday afternoon / evening.
- I'm still behind on laundry. Argh. Even more behind today since I was gone all day teaching. Oh, well.
- Kids were all fed and cared for all weekend.
- Husband was cared for and told how much I appreciated him.
- Dog was fed, cared for, and is actually spending more time in the house because DH realizes it's up to him to make it happen. I have no problem with the feeding and the walking, but was overwhelmed with the housebreaking . . . DH has taken that over when he's home. I love how we work as a team!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
- 14 articles to write between now and tomorrow night.
- 1 Halloween party to shop for and execute on Saturday.
- 2 proposals and one query to complete and get out by Monday.
- 1 class to prep for in a software I haven't looked at in almost 10 years to teach on Monday.
- 1 pumpkin patch visit to happen on Sunday.
- 1 house to clean before the party on Saturday.
- 2 boys to football Saturday morning.
- 5 loads of laundry to catch up and get current
- 1 PC laptop to repair so that I can prep for that class mentioned above. Have I mentioned how much I love my macbook? I'll never go back . . . well, except to prep for classes apparently. Hopefully DH can help with this one.
- 3 children to feed and care for.
- 1 husband to love and care for.
- 1 dog to feed and keep out of the house.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
Plus, it's less than $30.00 at Wal-Mart. The graphics aren't fancy, but I think it's a neat idea. Head over to her site and try to win one! And check out her other posts -- she always has great deals posted.
This past week I have been scouring our expenses for things to drop and decided to drop the variety tier from our cable account to save $5/month. $5 isn't much, but it can pay for a gallon and 1/2 of gas these days. Or it can be added to a savings account. The main point is that little savings do add up!
I also looked at increasing our car insurance deductibles, but decided against that. We already have high deductibles as it is, and increasing them more would only be prudent if I had the cash to set aside to pay the higher deductible. I can work towards that, but I won't do it until I have the cash set aside.
DH doesn't realize it, but I have decreased our bottled water expense in the last few months. I know that many people would argue that we shouldn't have bottled water at all, since tap water is perfectly safe. I know that's true, but DH lived in Milwaukee during the time when cryptospiridium was released into the general drinking supply. He was infected and was severely ill. A young child he knew was also infected and almost died. Hundreds of thousands of people fell ill and many died during that outbreak. As a result, he won't drink tap water. We have 5 gallon jugs delivered to the house. In the past, we have made all beverages using bottled water. Lately, I've been using tap water for iced tea and kool-aid. Since we drink 3 quarts of iced tea most days, it has added up to a significant drop in our use of bottled water.
We don't use paper plates or bowls. Now, we DID use a lot of paper plates and bowls when I was pregnant and in the first few months after L's birth. They are convenient and easy to clean up, but they're expensive and add to the landfills. I did have to wean myself slowly off the paper dishes, but we're back to using plates that have to be washed. We have been since L was about 6 months old, but I still find myself reaching for a stash when the kitchen is clean and the kids have to eat again. What I should do is get back to teaching the boys to wash dishes!
Sometimes I feel that there isn't another corner I can cut, but with careful scrutiny I keep finding them. Some expenses creep into our lives and stick just because we don't give them a second thought. I try to review things with an unbiased eye regularly to see where a few more dollars can be saved.
Have you recently cut an expense that you realized was redundant or unnecessary? Share in the comments, please!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Until today, when I suddenly had hundreds of new posts in bloglines. I guess there had been some issues with updating and now they're fixed. Yea! Sorry to anyone I haven't visited in a while, but I didn't realize you updated :(
I love bloglines because I can see when a new post has been made and I don't have to click - click - click through to check for new posts. Well, usually that's true.
Now to find the time to catch up.
On Friday, I picked 6 medium sized Granny Smith apples from the fruit bowl and cracked open the kit. The boys were so excited! I dumped out the bag of caramels and told them to unwrap them all and put them in the big glass bowl. They were suddenly much less excited.
I think it took them 45 minutes to unwrap the caramels. I wrote an article in the time it took them to unwrap all the candy! When it was finally done, I added a little milk and microwaved the caramels and milk. I pulled the stems from the apples and inserted the sticks.
When the caramel was melted, I swirled the apples around and covered them mostly. The kit also came with candy decorations, so the boys had fun putting gummy worms, sprinkles and candy corn on the apples. We let the apples cool a bit, and then I asked if they wanted one.
Colin refused to even try one. Nate tried one and I think he took maybe 3 bites.
I like them. I'm the only one. I don't think we'll make caramel apples next year. LOL!
(I would have included pictures but I'm having issues with iPhoto at the moment.)
Thursday, October 16, 2008
DH found out that his commission rates were being cut again. I know things are tough all over, but it was a blow since we have been struggling as it is. Most people don't realize how tough it is to work for commission, and personally I'm frustrated with the number of people who waste his time. That's another post I've been thinking about, though -- how a "free" estimate really isn't "free." Changing careers isn't an option for him - and I worry for his health if he moves back into the service side.
I found out that one of the writing gigs I was really excited about decided to slash their rates by 2/3. What was a great opportunity suddenly became a waste of time.
DH got information about health insurance rates yesterday. Our insurance costs will increase just over $1200 next year. We'll be paying almost $8000 towards our family's health insurance (which doesn't include dental, vision, disability, or life). It is good health insurance, but I'll be honest when I say that I haven't used it as much as I probably should because the co-pays were too much to take out of our budget. I still have the orders for my diabetes testing sitting here. I finally got the orders last month (16 months after L was born) and I haven't yet gone in. I'm afraid that they'll discover that I do have diabetes and then there's all the expense of that. DH is supposed to be taking a medication that is $50/month that we haven't filled in over 3 months now. We have health insurance - but can't afford to use it. I make sure the kids are taken care of, and we fill C's prescriptions regularly. I admit, it scares me.
The training position I was so excited about doesn't appear to be able to offer me any days. I have one day lined up in the next few weeks. I'm not sure if it's a reflection that she's slow, or if it's a reflection on the fact that I asked to only be scheduled on 2 specific days. I'm afraid that if I don't start using the care I lined up for Wednesdays, I'll lose it (well, actually, I'm sure of it because that was what I was told after mass on Sunday.)
BUT . . .
I was referred to some other work by someone and it looks like there will be opportunity there. This was such a kind gesture and I'm very grateful!
DH has some side jobs lined up in the next couple months that will give us a cushion.
I'm still looking, eager and willing to put in the time to do whatever is necessary to build my income. I never really stopped looking, because I knew that things could dry up quickly. I've been regularly applying and looking for opportunities.
I'm doing my best to keep my heart and mind open to all the different possibilities that may be awaiting us. I hope to look back in a year and see how everything happened just as it was supposed to in order to help us reach wherever we may be next year. I'm trying not to listen to the news and avoid discouragement.
I'm going to keep moving forward and doing the best that I can. It's a cliche, but it's the best I can do. My family deserves no less.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
As part of this tour, I was able to try out their bathroom spray and their concentrated cleaner in addition to the all purpose cleaner and dish soap that I reviewed earlier. The new products work just as great as I expected, and I will definintely continue using them.
If you visit their website - 30 Days to Natural - you'll have the opportunity to plant a daisy, watch some videos of other moms who took the pledge to go green in their homes, and be able to sign up for daily email tips. I have really enjoyed watching the videos and learning more about the moms they chose for the video campaign.
I am always looking for ways to reduce waste and live more naturally, so I appreciated the daily email tips. We use canvas and reusable bags on a regular basis when shopping already, and I do try to stay as natural as possible with cleaning products. I admit that we haven't done much farmer market shopping, but I would if there was one close by. The tips that are sent are useful and thought-provoking.
This campaign also came at a great time for me as this is traditionally the season we do a thorough house cleaning. Most people do a "spring" cleaning, but we usually do a "fall" cleaning because this is the time of year we can start opening our windows and spending more time outdoors. It feels good to be doing so much cleaning without the harsh smell and harsh effects of chemicals.
Check out their website! I bet you'll learn something new!
Monday, October 13, 2008
I shop at multiple stores. I realize I'm lucky that I can do this, but we have 4 major grocery stores within 5 miles of our home. The grocery ads are usually in the mailbox on Tuesdays, and the sales start on Wednesdays. I look through the ads, noting the good sales, and start making my list. I start my list by listing the different stores, and putting down the sale items.
Then, I plan our meals for the week. I confess that sometimes it's completely in my head and other times I fill out a chart that has spaces for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks. Things go much better when I plan it out that way, but I just can't always think of all those meals in one sitting.
Once I plan the meals, I add to the list other things we need that aren't on sale.
So, where do I buy the things not on sale? That's where my price book comes in handy. I keep an Excel spreadsheet that lists a number of items I usually purchase. I track the item, the price, the store it was purchased in, the date and the unit price. This way, I'm able to look at see that Store A offers the best deal usually on flour. I'll break up the shopping between the stores I'm visiting.
I also use coupons. I know most people either hate coupons, or love coupons. Many of the local stores offer double coupons, so I can usually save a dollar on different items. I only cut coupons for things I buy, which means that I usually don't have very many coupons. The few dollars I save, though, are worth it to me!
I think the number one savings tool is my price book. It allows me to know what a good deal is, and gives me the knowledge so I can stock up when an item is at a great price.
How do YOU save money at the grocery store?
Sunday, October 12, 2008
So, apparently, since I use my Kitchenaid mixer, I don't make anything homemade. This strikes me so funny, especially since I don't use mixes for anything -- I make cookies, pancakes, waffles, bread and cakes from scratch.
Even tonight, when C was happily munching on fresh-baked, home made, honey wheat bread, he said "Hmm, have you ever made this before?" I said "This is my fall back bread. You've eaten it a hundred times." But, he just didn't remember the last time I made it (which was probably last winter. I don't bake during the summer very much, if at all.)
I guess it's all in the perception of things. Last winter was a very long time ago for an almost 8 year old boy! And, homemade means hand-mixed. LOL!
Friday, October 10, 2008
C has discovered Calvin and Hobbes and has spent many hours giggling and laughing out loud over their antics.
If you're familiar with the cartoon, Calvin & Hobbes (his stuffed tiger) dress up in his father's clothes to appear taller/older.
This get-up got many laughs from everyone in our home ;)
I didn't realize that local schools are on a fall break! The zoo was PACKED, which was understandable since it was a beautiful day. It was unusual for us, though, since we rarely attend on weekends or holidays and usually have the zoo pretty much to ourselves. It gave me another item in the "plus" column for homeschooling.
We didn't see much today, between the crowds and the frequent stops so my friend could nurse her 6 week old, and walking slowly for her 2yo who wasn't in a stroller. And, then my camera battery died, so I only got this shot of the javelina. (Javelinas are STINKY, just in case you didn't know. Their scent is very attractive to each other, but is not very attractive to humans! You know when you're hiking out in the desert and there are javelinas near because you can't miss their scent.)
My friend's new baby is deliciously adorable, but I'm content with my family. I didn't feel those longings and urges for another when I held her today -- I was just happy to hold her and thrilled for my friend. I know I may have those longings again, but it was a little surprise to me that I didn't even consider that I'd want another. As always, we'll see what's in store for us!
I stayed up past 1AM last night getting caught up so I had nothing due today, and then every time I fell asleep L cried out and woke me. I think she's getting a couple molars because she keeps pushing her tongue against the side of her mouth and she's been sleeping very restlessly. She doesn't wake up enough to want to be taken out of her bed, but just enough to wake me up. Usually I fall back asleep easily, but sleep has been elusive the last few weeks.
I start another freelance assignment next week, and I think I'm going to step back a little and let things settle before seeking more work. I'll still keep my eyes open, but I won't spend as much time looking as I have been. I need our routine to settle in a little bit before I try to add more to my plate.
I made a frozen pizza for dinner tonight, and both boys said "It's okay - but Dad's is MUCH better!" I have to remember to tell him that when he gets home tonight. They love when their dad makes homemade pizza! Colin said that his is better because he uses less sauce and more cheese.
The boys start a flag football league tomorrow. C really wanted to play basketball, and N really wanted to play soccer -- but I could fit the flag football league into our schedule and our budget. It should be fun to watch!
B is a couple hours away today for work, so he won't be home until midnight. The kids have all been fed and bathed and the boys are watching a dvd at the moment. L wants me to read to her (she loves touchy/feely books this week) so I'm going to shut down for the night. I'm hoping to tuck them in and get a nice, hot bath for myself! I've been on the computer enough this week :)
Thursday, October 09, 2008
The boys have been wonderful about schooling these days and have stepped up to the plate with playing with their sister and keeping an eye on her so I can work. I'm creating new routines to help streamline our lives and making it easier to incorporate changes.
It's an exciting time in our lives. I'm embracing the changes.
And tomorrow we're headed to the zoo!
Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2008-10-09 17:18:30 UTC
Thanks to random.org, the 2 winners for the Yoplait Kids Giveaway are: Sharla & Jen L! Congratulations to you both!!
Thanks to everyone for playing! I hope you enjoy your prize packs!
If you didn't win, don't forget to visit Yoplait and print your $1.50 coupon!
Thanks again to Yoplait for making this giveaway possible!
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Scroll down a few, or just click HERE to enter the giveaway for a Yoplait giftpack! I'll draw the winner tomorrow morning, so you have until midnight tonight to enter!
Do NOT comment on this post to enter the giveaway -- I'm drawing from the comments on the original post. Thanks! and Good Luck!
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
The boys and I sat down with the ballot and I read them all the propositions on the ballot and we discussed the pros and cons of each one. We also talked briefly about the different candidates and their platforms and why I chose the ones I did.
The boys watched me fill in the arrows, seal the envelope, and sign my name to the front. I talked to them about polling places and election day, as well as my reasons for voting by mail. I believe that voting is an important part of a citizen's life and I take the responsibility seriously.
I know that watching me fill out my ballot at the kitchen table may not be as powerful as coming with me to a polling place, but I also know that consistency is the key. As the kids watch me do it for every election, I hope the importance of the act shines through. Voting through the mail ensures that I vote in every election -- illness, sick kids, broken cars aside -- nothing can stop me from voting!
Monday, October 06, 2008
I try to live frugally out of necessity. DH works a job that pays him 100% commission. That means no base salary, just a percentage of the sales he makes. Not knowing how much money he'll earn each month can be scary and overwhelming. It requires careful planning to ensure our basics are paid for each month and I confess we don't always meet that goal.
DH owned his own company when I met him, so I got exposed to this lifestyle early in our relationship. It was different than my own experience, since my parents have always held steady jobs, with consistent pay. I also held hourly or salary positions before meeting him. After we met, however, I found myself starting my own small business, then joining him in what became ours. Now I'm mostly a SAHM managing our resources.
We have had some very good years financially, and some very lean years. With the current state of the economy, we're in (what I expect to be) the middle of lean years again. I've started working on a part-time basis, and DH is picking up side jobs when he can to help balance our budget.
I plan to use this weekly post to share different things I'm doing to live frugally and hopefully give my readers some ideas and tips to help their families. Next Monday, I'll talk about meal planning and grocery shopping!
Friday, October 03, 2008
When the box arrived, I found not only a bottle of the Spot Shot, but also a piece of carpet, a bottle of chocolate, a couple paintbrushes, a bottle of ammonia and a white rag. Hmmm, maybe they thought I didn't have any stains of my own to work with?
It was fun to test using their supplies, and now you don't have to see my carpets!
When I came back, I sprayed Spot Shot liberally on the stain and continued blotting with the cloth. I had to spray twice, but with more blotting and a little rubbing, the stain was gone! Even this morning when I looked at the carpet, there was no stain. Success!!
Spot Shot is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and safe for children. Plus, it works. I had to try it out on some old stains on my carpet and I was pleasantly surprised with how it made them disappear and left a fresh odor. This product will have a permanent spot under my kitchen sink (when it's not being used!)
Thanks to Mom Central and wd40 for letting me try this out!
Thursday, October 02, 2008
1. Were you married at the time?
2. What were your reactions when you found out you were pregnant/approved?
3. How old were you?
4. How did you find out you were pregnant?
I thought I had a bladder infection and went to the doctor. He did a urine test and told me that it was clear. Then he did a physical exam and said "Well, when you're pregnant you do pee a lot." I said "I'm not pregnant!" He felt around some more and said "I'm pretty sure you are. I'd guess about 6 months." He went to run a pregnancy test on my urine and I sat there and read a book, expecting him to come back and say "Well, you're not pregnant, so it must be cancer."
Umm, he came back and said "Yep, you're pregnant. Ask them to schedule you an ultrasound at the front desk and I'd find an OB if I were you."
The next day, I had an ultrasound, which dated me at 28 weeks! 12 weeks to the day I found out, C was born.
5. Who did you tell first?
My husband, who was in as much shock as I was.
6. Did you want to find out the sex?
At that point, I felt like I needed to know everything possible!
7. Due date/Expected arrival date:
November 18, 2000
8. Did you deliver/meet your child early or late?
Just a couple days early -- November 14
9. Did you have morning sickness/anxiety?
No. I did have heartburn, but passed it off as getting older. I did have headaches, but I've had those all my life in cycles. I was extra tired for a while, but passed it off as changing jobs and the stress involved. I did go a little crazy during the early months, but that was just passed off as I don't know what. Looking back, I can see how irrational I was about some things (I quit my job and let my boss pretty much beg me to stay; I was overly emotional -- there were just some things that weren't normal.)
10. What did you crave?
watermelon and potatoes and crushed ice
11. Who irritated you the most?
One man in our office -- I still cringe when I think of him.
12. What was your first child’s sex?
13. How many pounds did you gain throughout the pregnancy?
10 maybe? I regularly lose weight during my first 2 trimesters and gain some in the last (which I know now after 4 pregnancies)
14. Did you have any complications during your pregnancy.
15. Where did you give birth?
16. How many hours were you in labour?
17. Who drove you to the hospital?
18. Who watched/went with you?
My husband was with me the whole time.
19. Was it vaginal or c-section?
emergency c-section. My water broke and we went to the hospital. I wasn't having contractions, so they started pitocin after a couple hours. THEN the contractions started! I had an epidural in the early afternoon, but it still hurt quite a bit. I just thought it was supposed to continue to hurt. I was dilated, and pushing for almost 3 hours before I started running a fever and the baby's heart decelerated and it was decided I had to have a c-section. After I was cut, it was found that the umbilical cord was knotted and too short to ever have let him come down far enough to be born.
20. Did you take medicine to ease the pain/self medicate to calm your nerves?
I had an epidural, which didn't work. Turned out the needle was in the wrong place the entire time I had it - until about 20 minutes before my c-section when they figured it out. I was almost put under for the c-section, but they fixed it just in time.
21. How much did your child weigh?
8 lbs, something (is it terrible I don't remember?)
22. What did you name him/her?
You know I never spell out my kids' names! His first name starts with C and is an old (as in VERY old) nickname for Nicholas. It is Gaelic, and I honored my Gaelic/Irish heritage with it. DH also wanted it to start with a "C" because he thought "CJ" would be a cute nickname. (We've NEVER called him CJ since he was born. oh, well.)
His middle name is Jeremiah. I wanted to name him Jeremiah for his first name, but didn't like Jerry and was afraid that would end up his nickname. I chose Jeremiah for the verse in Jeremiah "Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:4)" It just seemed appropriate since I was pregnant for so long without knowing.
23. How old is your first child today?
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Did you know these facts about Yoplait Kids' Yogurt?
- Yoplait Kids™ yogurt offers a delicious and nutritious, creamy texture and taste. Yoplait Kids yogurt cups and yogurt drinks have Omega-3 DHA*, which is an important nutrient that supports brain growth during early childhood development stages.
- Provides 16 mg of naturally sourced Omega-3 DHA* per serving
- Excellent source of calcium
- No artificial sweeteners or flavors
- Good source of vitamins A and D
- With protein
- 25 percent less sugar than the leading kid’s yogurtI know I feel good having my kids eat yogurt regularly!
I was excited when I was recently contacted and asked if I wanted to host a Yoplait giveaway! I have two prize packs to give away -- both containing a coupon for free yogurt, an insulated travel bag and a BrainQuest game.
Yoplait also has a $1.50 off coupon available for download for all my readers (except for those living in CA, ID, NV, NJ, ND and TN. Due to state laws, the coupon is not valid in those states.)
To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment with a valid email address. You can share your kids' favorite snack, or just say "hey!" The winners will be drawn next Thursday, October 9 -- so enter by midnight, October 8, 2008. I'll use random.org to choose a winner.
** Just a note! Comments are moderated, so don't worry if you don't see your comment show up right away. I approve them a few times a day, so it will be there soon! Thanks for playing! **
edited on 10/9/08: ** This post is closed for comments! The winners have been notified. Thanks for playing! **