Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Switching the Clothes - The Reality

I, by no means, start at 8 am and finish X amount of time later. I have a preschooler and a toddler! I pick up a box of clothes in time to hear "I'm hungry" (even though we just cleaned up breakfast). So, I put down the box and attend the hunger, then I go back to the box, in time to see Gator climbing the new boxes in the living room. I take her down, explain that we don't climb boxes...try to get her playing with some toys, turn back to box one...Baby Gilr wants me to look at the Winnie-the-Pooh puzzel that she has finished all by herself (for the millionth time)...before I can get back to box one...I smell something foul from Gator...go to change her diaper...get to box one...I get it opened this time, but pull nothing from it, Gator is rolling around the floor rubbing her eyes...NAP TIME...go lay Gator in her bed...get back to the opened box one...Bbay Girl asks for a banana (who can say no to healthy snacks!)...get the banana..."not like a monkey Mama, I want to eat it cut up"...return to kitchen to fix Mama's mistake...always offer snack whole, it is easier to cut a banana that is whole, than trying to make a cut up banana whole! (Again, learned it the hard way)...now panic sets in...Gator will only sleep 20 mins at best, but she will also sleep for 2 hours..and I know not which she will do from day to day...I want to make progress on the clothes! So I dig in and start emptying clothes, moving from baox to box as quickly and qietly as possible...once Baby Girl realsizes that I am doing something she will need something or she will want to help, as happy as I am that she likes to have a "job" it slows me down to slower than snail pace! And I know as soon as Gator wakes up she will be hungry, so what will be for lunch??? Leftovers, yes, leftovers...wait did Daddy take the leftovers for lunch? put clothes down and check fridge...good leftovers are there!! Back to clothes...wait did I pull out something fro supper? put clothes down...head to kitchen to take inventory...looks like frozen pizza tonight....back to clothes...was that Gator??? No, Baby Girl has gone to watch some cartoons in Mama's room...good, I can blow through some boxes before Gator wakes up....did I turn on the dishwasher after I loaded it last night? put clothes down, and go check...nope, start dishwasher....head back to clothes...augh, I hear Gator...go get her from her bed and get lunch warmed up...offer food to Baby Girl...she's not hungry, all that snacking while Gator was sleeping...get Gator started, turn back to clothes and boxes so that I can get some done while Gator is contained in her high chair....Mama just wants to sit and take a break...no rest for the weary...must get these clothes at least switched out of the boxes, maybe not back into the closet, but at least as neat as possible so that when Daddy gets home from a long day of fighting crime that he doesn't want to lock me up for leaving a mountain of clothes for him to relax in while I am at dance...Gator is done...let her down...and she goes right for the clothes and starts pulling the piles down...she smiles, great, it is now a game to her....I get her attention diverted...but she is quickly climbing up the boxes and the sofa...ok, enough for today...lets sit and play...glance at clock...nope, time to pack snacks for dance classes (Baby Girl and Gator spend 2 hours at the dance studio while I teach...and it is right through supper time), lunch bag packed, Gator smells again, change that....head to the bedroom to get Mama dressed for dance class..pick out clothes for Gator and get her dressed, find dance clothes for Baby Girl and get her dressed...why is Gator crying? Where is her milk sip, where did the brush go?? Mama starts yelling...Mama takes a deep breath...brush is found, milk is found, and shoes are on, bags picked up, head to the car...

Sigh, maybe I will get all the closets all changed over before summer really gets here (we don't get much spring weather here in the south...but lots of summer!!!)

Sorry, no pictures...just think boxes, clothes, EVERYWHERE!!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Just Made Potatoe Chips?!?!?

I have been doing things very differently lately...like trying to use what is in the house instead of saying "nothing to eat" and running to the grocery store.

Baby Girl wanted some chips...I had none on hand...

but I did have potatoes, a deep fryer, and a whole bunch of seasonings.

Gator was napping and I started slicing...and frying, and sprinkling, and well...I am no commercial chip maker, but they weren't bad...and I am sure I will get the hang of it...

for something that we do not eat often...because chips are so expensive...it wasn't bad...and I used what I had on hand...and Baby Girl said they were so yummy mommy!!!

Tried anything new lately??

Monday, April 4, 2011

Changing of the Closets

I change the girls' closet, and mine as well, from Spring/Summer to Fall/Winter, and back again. It is a good way to check on hand me downs, on sizes, on clothes that are needed and on what can be given away. Plus, I just do not have space for all of their clothes!

This is no easy task! But it is necessary. I have learned a few things to help make the switch a little easier, less dreaded.

Whenever I get clothes...whether it is a gift, a few items off clearance or a consignment sale, or a large batch of hand-me-downs...I always sort by size...which are then stored in empty diaper boxes, labeled by size. That is step one and a very important step...I learned that step the hard way...to change Baby Girl's closet the first few times it took me DAYS and DAYS and DAYS...then I got smart and had a clothing sort day with my sisters while I was pregnant with Gator!

Then step two - decide when to make the switch...the "last frost" day is estimated as March 15th...so I shoot for that as my switch date...and in the fall its around October. I pull out every box out of the closet. I stack boxes all over the living room. I try to keep the boxes I haven't dealt with yet on one side and then move them to the other side of the room as I deal with them, so that as I am interrupted (and I will be interrupted) I will know which boxes are finished and which need to be gone through. I will also empty all the clothes off the hanging rack in the closet.

Step three - decide what sizes will be used this season...make a choice, stick with it. Baby Girl has a small waist...summer she tends to where a smaller size because length is a non-issue. Gator, I will give a bigger range since I am not sure how her growth spurts are affecting her yet. But stick with that size...if it is cute, but not in the sizes you've choosen...pack it in the correct box...move on...make this easy!

Step four - pick a box and start taking out the clothes that are going back into the closet for that season. I make two piles...one for Baby Girl and one for Gator. Continue until all boxes have been gone through in the sizes that were chosen in step 3...look at tag move on.

Step five - take clothes that are going into storage and pack away according to size (VERY IMPORTANT!) I always just want to get my living room back from the clothes, but I know that if I don't pack according to size I will hate myself in 6 months!

Step six - put boxes back into closet. Hang clothes.

Step seven - sit and enjoy a cup of coffee...or your beverage of choice.

Wow! Didn't realize how many steps there were!! I guess that is why it takes me awhile to actually finish! I do keep 2 empty bins in the bottom of the girls closet year round...one is for clothes that are outgrown during the season, the other is for clothes that were for the last season and were in the wash cycle while the switch was being made. When it is time to switch again, I will sort those 2 boxes by size and repeat the whole process. And of course, Murphy's Law...I began the switch and the next day it went below freezing during the night!

Keep watching and I will post what those steps look like in action!!!

CVS trip 3/8/11

Yikes! I was so rushed last night...dance pictures, raining, CVS out of one of my planned ECBs builders, multiple trips to unload car, supper time...needless to say I forgot to take a picture of the trip...and this was a good one! I had a transaction that had a $0.00 subtotal....I just had to pay tax...I was so excited! And ready to plan next weeks trip, milk and coke products on sale!  Can't wait!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Why Clutter is NOT Cool

As I prepare to do our taxes...which by the way I have been trying to do since all my 1099 and W-2 came in week ago...I have to gather all the receipts and such...and it is just a task I dread...actually doing the taxes doesn't bother me.

I have a basket that I toss all the "I have got to get to that soon" papers in...it is piled about a foot and a half higher than the basket.

I spent Gator's nap going through this said basket....trash...taxes...coupons...get to that soon...

After I had my 4 piles, I put away said piles. As I was going through the coupons, I wanted to KICK myself...no they weren't expired...but I had some that I could have used on my last trip to CVS...are you kidding me?? I could have saved $2 more!! Augh!

And in my world of little income, that $2 is a LOT of money...one outfit from a consignment sale, or nearly a gallon of milk, or a pack of cheese, or some sale meat, or 2 packs of frozen veggies, or ... I have to stop...

So, get to your getting to box and get rid of the clutter!!! Let us know what you find!!! I know you will be amazed!

And, no, I still haven't gotten to the taxes, and no, I haven't gotten rid of the clutter...ah, the chaos we call life!

Monday, March 28, 2011

CVS Trip 3/1/11

Getting pretty good at this "game"...but I know I have so much more to learn. Here is a picture of my trip from a few weeks ago...(getting better with coupons, still along way to go with blogging!!!)

Today I had 5 transactions....in 8 minates at the register...so not too bad....and I let someone behind me go ahead (this keeps other cutomers and the cashier happy...good gaming ettiquette).

  • Transaction #1 - saved $1.35, OOP (out of pocket) - $5.77 
  • Transaction #2 - saved $6.15, OOP - $1.06
  • Transaction #3 - saved $22.57, OOP - $25.13
  • Transaction #4 - saved $21.37, OOP - $8.93
  • Transaction #5 - saved $10.05, OOP - $0.89
I am only buying things that I would normally buy, that have Extra Bucks attached so that I can roll then to the next transaction. I did match up some coupons from the past few Sunday's papers. I don't have a printer, so I don't use printable coupons. So, that being said I might have been able to do better...but my goal is to save money...not necessarily get all the EB (Extra Bucks) in the store.

I did scan for coupons at the CVS coupon machine...none would have helped me on this trip so I am putting them into the coupon envelope for possible use later.

I have found that, my hubby goes through about 5 2 liters in a week, we use 9 rolls of the good toliet paper in about 25 days...which will make planning easier for future trips...I want to save money remember!?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stormy Times

True southern weather...two weeks ago so much snow we can't function...then a week of really nice spring weather...then up at midnight running to the basement to take cover from a possible tornado...just to wake up to much cooler weather, and a downed tree...

Here's how it happened...

We had a long night at the dance studio with pictures. We get home. I get the girls to bed really easy (should have known). I put a few things away, and head to bed myself. It was a windy night, but on our hill...this is not uncommon.

Dear hubby has been having some troubles sleeping lately....first a stomach virus, then a cough...so he was up watching some tv. The winds REALLY started to pick up, so he checked the local news...and sure enough our area was under a Tornado Warning.

Hubby comes and wakes me up, fills me in on the weather. I go into "Get Ready for a Tornado Mode". Let me mention here that I DO. NOT. LIKE. STORMS...I am overcome with so much fear I cannot calm myself...I shake and my heart beats so bad I think it is going to burst...every storm, every time.

Here is "Get Ready for a Tornado":
  • Panic, breathe, put on shoes
  • Panic, breathe, get Gator's milk and diapers and place next to basement door
  • Panic, breathe, get coat on
  • Panic, breathe, get Gator's car seat (sometimes she is easy to contain during a storm if she's buckled in...and in my mind she is safer!)
  • Panic, breathe, get shoes for the girls and place in box with diapers and milk
  • Panic, breathe, get pillows and blankets off my bed and place by basement door
  • Panic, breathe, check the local news
As soon as Mr. Weather Man says, about a minute until the possible tornado is in my small town...Hubby decides to get the girls. In seconds, we are all in the basement..with the dogs who are sooooo happy to see the girls....with the girls who are bewildered to be out of bed (I mentioned it was midnight right??) and in no mood to play with the dogs!

We sit and wait and listen. Man do I hate those moments....the winds whipping around the house...bangs and bumps of unknown origin...the waiting to hear the house fall in on itself...my heart beating so hard in my ears...I try not to listen....I sit and rock Baby Girl....praying over and over...Please, Lord, keep us safe...

and until last night I never realized that I have always said "keep us safe". I don't pray that the storm leaves us with an untouched home or anything like that...I just want to get through the storm as safe as possible....another personal Whoa moment.

So, the winds subside, the satellite service is back, and Mr. Weather Man is telling us that it is safe to return the girls to bed. Which was way easier than I thought it would be...Baby Girl just wanted to know why we got her out of bed. (I just told her that the Weather Man said it was safer in the basement...I try not to transfer my fears to the girls)

We get the girls snuggled back into bed, I close my eyes...and then I jump out of bed!! Around 3 am, the worst noise I have ever heard in my life threw me from my bed...CHAINSAWS! Apparently a very large tree had fallen during the storm and was blocking the street...I am glad that the town or county or whoever felt so good that they wanted to be sure that everyone could get to work and school....but really? 3 am?? and this tree fell, blocking the road, right in front of our house...it sounded as if they were cutting the tree in my bedroom!

ok, so it doesn't look as big in the picture...I zoomed in and left off the top...but this tree is large!

My prayer quickly changed to..."Please don't let Gator wake up, please don't let Gator wake up"

She didn't wake up and they soon finished, and quiet returned to our little home...and I fell asleep, not to wake until the usual morning Gator wake up call.

What Stormy Times have you been going through?

I Got a Comment!

Yeah!! I am official! I had a comment ( a few weeks ago) from someone I know only from the blog world...that is sooooooo exciting! And people said I would be bored after I stopped working outside the home (But really when have I done that???)

I wish I could explain this feeling...

People want to read what I say and seemed to enjoy what they read...I am making an impact on people's life...wow, that's a lot of responsibility....but still its fun!

Not only did I get a comment, but she left more info on Yummy Yogurt tips...that I found helpful...this is great!

So, when you get a chance swing on over to Simply CVS and check it out...

I can't believe I waited so long to jump into all of this...blogging, home schooling (well, still in limbo)...now if only I could get a little better at time management and money management then I would be really great!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I am so Glad I Began CVSing When I Did!

The second week of CVS sales and ECB deals were way more confusing to me than the first week! If I had started this week I think I may have become a bit discouraged. I had a good time saving on milk and diapers my first week playing this game. I am going to be studying and looking and figuring so that I can LOVE CVSing this week too!

(Be sure to check out the new button on the side of my blog if you think you may want to start or continue CVSing as well...)

I studied, I asked, and I am in love!! I have a small stockpile of toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, and body wash. I am still using all my Extra Care Bucks at the end of my trip, so I haven't mastered the whole rolling Bucks from week to week....but I am still getting things we use, for less than I would have if I bought them as I needed them. Bringing home over 40 items for under $40 is an amazing feeling...especially when milk, diapers, and allergy medicine are among the item I bring home!

I had someone say to me that they don't play the Drugstore Game because the drugstores do not have things that they use. Ok, I thought this, too. In the beginning. Until I took some time, sat down with the paper, and looked. I don't wear a lot of make-up...so when there is an Extra Buck deal with make up, I just turn the page! But I use toilet paper, and can I just say that I have noticed that the name brand (bought on sale, with a coupon, and earned Extra Care Bucks) has lasted a lot longer than the cheap-o toilet paper that I use to buy when we were desperate?!

My challenge to you...locate a drug store near your house...scan their sale paper, grab some coupons, check out the internet...and jump in. Why spend more on anything than you have to??? I think you will be surprised at what you have been missing! I have name brand items in my house! Who knew?!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Evolution of Cooking

Living with my parents
  • browning the hamburger meat for mom
  • complaining "not that again"
Living in the dorm
  • swiping a food card in the Cafeteria
  • swiping a credit card at a Restaurant
Living in an apartment off campus
  • swiping a food card in the Cafeteria
  • Microwave
Living in an apartment post college
  • calling Mom to figure how to make more than things that come in a box
  • going to Mom's for supper
Living as Husband and Wife 1st year
  • call Mom for more recipes, buy cookbooks
  • give up and head to the restaurant or Mom's
Living as Husband and Wife with Kids
  • anything that cooks in less time than a meltdown can occur
  • checking labels and prices, trying to get the healthiest for the cheapest amount of money
  • Calling Mom with the latest successful meal to share the recipe with her
  • hearing "Not that again!"
What was your evolution like???

Monday, March 21, 2011

CVS Tips

  • CVS has a coupon machine near the door...scan your card and a coupon will printout. I received a $5 off $25 purchase...which I will save (at least until 3/8/11, when it expires). What I was not aware of at the time...you can keep scanning your card until the screen says that you have gotten all your coupons...DOH! I will return and keep scanning...hopefully I can get even more savings next week!
  • One of coupons I got from the machine was a $1.00 Kellogg's cereal. I will use cereal as a snack at times...and CVS has cereal single servings for $1.00. Guess what I did!? I used the coupons to get some single serve cereals for the girls...for free! What a great idea! Use the large coupons that do not specify a size and get the smaller/cheaper size for MORE savings...who knew! I am always looking for more ways to save...and Baby Girl likes the "treat".
  • Coke was on sale 3/$3...for 2 liters...and if you spent $15 you got back $5 ECB...I couldn't decide how to make $15 with the items that were included...until I saw someone say that they were going to get 15 2 liters. At first, I was "what??? 15 2 liters? That is insane!" But second thought, we drink Coke and we pay more than $1...so why not stock up? I stock up on milk, why not? Savings are savings!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Does Gator do all Day?

I have been looking over some of my posts and they seem very Baby Girl oriented...and I was sad as a Mama...what about Gator???

Well, Gator starts her day between 5am and 7am...I do my best to try to get her to "rest" until 8am, but that is a rare occurrence.

Then she will eat breakfast...a couple eggs, or oatmeal, or a bunch of pancakes (she LOVES pancakes...I try to hide fruit and other good for you stuff in the pancake when I can)...she will then mess around the house and play area for a bit...climbing what she can, waking up sister, getting into the bathroom...the normal 13 month old stuff.

Then between 9am and 10am I'll put her in her bed and she will take a nap...anywhere from 15 min to 2 1/2 hours....she really is very UNpredictable...

After her long nap she will have lunch...then she will play more with her sister...I try to have out a different basket of toys so she can empty the bag or basket...she really likes to empty things...

Then it is usually time for us to get ready for whatever afternoon, outside the house activity we have going on...Mama works 3 days, we have dance classes, we run errands, or we go visit Mimi.

and that my friends is a day in the life of Gator....

when we get home from our activity...Gator fusses until supper, then she will eat supper...then we let her play with Daddy for a bit...

Then its change, get ready for bed, and off she goes....to dreamland...unfortunately for Gator or me depending on how you look at it...that only means a few hours until we have to settle her back down, repeat process every few hours until I give in at 7 or 8am and let her up to begin the day again.

During her play times, I do try to get down with her and read and play and focus some one on one time with her...mostly she likes to fuss or ride my hip...or climb the dishwasher...or the chairs, or her sister....we should have called her Monkey...not Gator!!! Maybe I will fill you in one day on how that did come about!!! Its funny and it really fits her!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cookie Cutters aren't Just for Cookies!

I got a 101 cookie cutter set for Christmas a few years ago...with high expectations...I was going to bake cookies, make crafts, cut sandwiches...you know the basic Super Mom stuff...

I haven't used them yet...until...

We had grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch while doing the letter Rr and I used the "R" cutter to change Baby Girl's sandwich into a letter "R". Which of course, threw Baby Girl for a loop. I cut sandwiches two ways, squares or triangles, nothing more, nothing less.

While working on letter Pp, I had Baby Girl separate the cutters into Piles...shapes, letters, and numbers (which in itself is a bit challenging for Baby Girl...she uses the words "numbers" and "letters" interchangeably).

Once she had the piles, I had her separate them into sub-piles...by color, size, line the numbers up in order, the letters in order...

Who knew....you don't have to raid the nearest store of all the educational toys....just go look for ideas and then go home and look at what you already have...many ideas are hiding in the cabinet!!!

By the way, one of Gator's favorite toys are the empty yogurt, butter, sour cream, and other plastic tubs that I keep in one cabinet that she can open. She'll open the cabinet, pull out all the plastic containers...play with them in the floor...and the latest...just sit in the cabinet.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Math Skills

Baby Girl got math flash cards for Christmas. Addition and Subtraction. She has been eager to get them out and play with them. Not sure how she would understand them, I was a little concerned with her frustration level. We began with her just reading the numbers. She knew there was more to it, so she was quickly asking what else you are supposed to do with them.

So, a few weeks later, I had her sit on the floor and use her blocks to count out each number and add them together. What made things fianlly "Click" for her though was counting it out with her fingers...the fingers, not the blocks, who knew! I haven't seen her pull out the cards lately, but when she goes back to them, I'll try some other counters...maybe beads and string...let her string the math together!! No rush, she's not even 4, so I am just laying the foundations...at her speed!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

CVS Winnings!!

I was getting ready to start playing the Drug Store Game...

I did my research...

I read the "rules"...
I picked CVS as my drug store of choice. (The main reason was that I have one close by, and another reason was it seemed like I understood their program the best, their website answers a lot of questions)

I armed myself with my reusable bags (You can purchase a "Green Tag" that they will scan for you on each trip and on the 4th trip you get $1 in Extra Bucks), my sale flyer, and my price notebook (I have been keeping a running list of the price of the items I purchase the most...and where I purchased it...that way I can keep up with what is a good deal and what is not on any sales I may come across in my shopping).

I enter CVS and fill out the form for a CVS rewards card..and I hit the aisles.

I purchased:
  • pack of diapers - on sale for $8.99 with $2 extra bucks
  • small pack of Mini Cadbury Eggs - on sale for $0.75 with $0.75 extra bucks
  • I planned to get the Colgate toothpaste, but it was out so I got a raincheck for 2...they were on sale for $2.99 with $2.00 extra bucks....the raincheck doesn't expire!!
  • I also got 2 cans of Tuna for $0.88 each.
I had no coupons this time so my total was around $13.00 and I had $2.75 in Extra Bucks

My 2nd transaction was:
  • 1 gallon Barber's Milk on sale for $3.19 minus my Extra Bucks from the previous transaction.
Now, if you are new to this, please remain seated... I got my gallon of milk for $0.70 TAX INCLUDED!!!!

I am sold and I will be eagerly waiting for next weeks sale paper. I know there are folks out there that get as many Extra Bucks as they can find, on as many items as possible, and whatnot...but I am happy with my 1st trip and I am happy with the diapers and milk for under $15 dollars...plus the other odds and ends...let me know about your trip to the store???

Monday, March 7, 2011

Playtime at Our House

For all the folks who think I have been bragging about all the great and wonderful things going on over at our house...here's a quick peak at more of the reality of our house. Don't do it, but if you look closely at all our pictures I have laundry piling up (clean or dirty...take your pick), clutter to put away, toys to be stepped over or on...and notice the girls are almost always in PJs...we may eat good and strive to spend zero money(though we are far from this goal...budgets are a constant battle), and I put a big focus on educational toys...I am just a normal person, who is a mom. I hate cleaning, getting up early (though my kids do), and at the end of the day I have more left on the "To Do" list than crossed off.
 An empty laundry basket became a fun toy for a long time.

Playing with Gator's clock.

Teaching Gator how to take care of the baby.

Gator's favorite thing to do, empty things.

Baby Girl loves to color, but we have to do that up high, out of Gator's reach.

So, there you have a glimpse into the daily happenings around here! Next time Baby Girl stomps off because I said no or Gator screams because she can and is refusing to sleep...I will try to remember to grab the camera...those moments happen here too!

Have a great day!

Friday, March 4, 2011

March Sensory Bin

My first month using the sensory bin idea has been a success. My we have come a long way from the tub on the head picture from the first use!

Baby Girl is showing you how she lined up and counted the red stars! (There were 10, by the way)

I mentioned the other day, to Baby Girl, that I would be changing the bin to a March theme soon. Baby Girl was not happy about it...I am sure she will change her tune after I make the switch, but it was nice to know that she enjoyed the imagination bin, as she called it. I loved that a box of random items got a lot of play time...and it seemed like every time the girls would dig into it, they did something different with the items....Gator really enjoyed the bead garland...and Baby Girl liked the flower petals...I also enjoyed that they seemed to play together and get a long nicely together with the same group of items and it worked for both developmental stages...I am so glad I came across the idea over at Totally Tots!!

So, now it is onto our March Bin...green of course!

I basically went around the house and grabbed what I already had on hand that was green....some blocks, rings, flower pots, scrap material, and a few things I picked up at the Dollar store when Christmas stuff was on sale for 90% off. I will place it out and see how it goes. My prediction - Baby Girl will be confused about where did the pink and red stuff go? She is very opposed to change...we are working on this.

Hop on over to Totally Tots for other bin ideas and themes. Right now I am staying very basic and going with what I have on hand. I am looking at the "random items" on clearance racks a little differently nowadays....I am in no way wanting to spend any major bucks on any items right now. Money was tight before the latest gas hikes...but I don't want to let these days at home get too ho-hum either.

Just by putting some random objects in a plastic tub, my girls have looked at the items in a new way, and "forcing" them to get creative. Baby Girl likes to know what she is "supposed" to do...the rules of the game and what not...my rules with the bins are as follows:
  1. You may do whatever you would like with the items in the bin...as long as it is safe. (i.e. no wrapping garland around Gator's neck)
  2. You may play with the bin as long or as short as you'd like
  3. When you are finished playing ready to play with something else, you must put all items back into the bin (yes, I changed "finished" because anyone who knows a preschooler...they are never finished with a toy, they will be back, and it is still a struggle work in progress)
  4. You may play with the bin whenever you'd like as long as the rules are followed
I know, for not having many rules about the bin, I sure have a lot of rules!! Ah, aren't you glad you don't have such a wishy-washy mama??

Any great ideas on how you spice up the toys and such that you already have on hand so that your kids play with them?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pp is for Peace

Well, we've moved on over to the letter Pp. We have already had a picnic in the yard, we've done puzzles, made our Pp prayer lists, and thought about our projects.

We plan to make Peanutty Banana Bread for Mr. Paul, wrap a pretty present of popcorn for Mrs. Paula...

Other Pp activities we will try to get to

  • Lacing letter Pp (as long as I get to the Dollar Tree to get the letters I want)
  • Push Pin letter Pp (Baby Girl seems to like filling the letters with construction paper better)

  • Make a Puzzle out of one of Baby Girl's drawings
  • Trace Patterns
  • Read If You Give a Pig A pancake
  • Make Pencil Pals
  • Talk about Patient and Peace
  • Work on Pattern using a Muffin Pan
  • Hidden P color sheet
  • Piles

  • Make Pretty Place mats
  • Make a paper orchard
  • Make Puppets
  • Make a Pillow "pet"
  • make a Picture Frame
I know...wow...what a list!!! I may or may not get to it all. But you make your goals...right? Some days Baby Girl wants activity after activity. Other days, she sticks with one and doesn't care to move on. Some of the activities depend on whether I will be able to get to the prep work.

I do a lot of the "worksheet" stuff myself...I find printables on line and then copy them by hand....I don't have a printer at home and its just a bunch cheaper than going to my parents house to print.

I'll let you know what we get to and how it turned out!!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Coupon Game

For the past 2 years I have been mainly shopping at Wal-store....due to being pregnant and tired I stuck with one store. Then having an infant drinking formula and wearing diapers that I found at a cheaper price by going with the store brand...I didn't want to look at store fliers and do much price comparing from store to store...Now I did compare prices from store to store when Baby Girl was a baby (and even before children). Baby Girl was a better shopper that Gator...going to more than one store during a shopping trip was not near the pain that I think it may be now...

I have been studying the rules for the Drug Store Game...and I think now that formula is off our grocery list, I am going to jump back onto the coupon bandwagon....In my studying I have found this website...it is really good...lots and lots of great ideas...remember start small. Her website and blog is amazing, but I feel small compared to all the information that she has there.

I have decided to start with CVS...some of the reasons being is that it is the only drug store less than 30 miles from our house. I have read the flyer this week, and I have made my list, I will look for coupons in the Sunday Paper, and I will be ready to hit the store. Right now, without coupons, I am looking at getting about $16 worth of items...including diapers...and earning back about $8 in Extra Bucks...I am excited just thinking about it!

Then step two will be to take those Extra Bucks and get some more items on sale...I can't wait. I have heard the best way to start this coupon thing is to
  1. Pick one grocery store and one drug store
  2. stick with it for about 3 months before deciding if it is for you
  3. make a system work for you, not the other way....envelopes, binders...you know you best
Well, I am off to find some coupons and start this adventure...

Let me know, do you play the game? How do you play? Got any extra tips for others?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Popsicles and Gator

I bought some Popsicles a few weeks ago when Baby Girl was feeling under the weather. I never got around to letting her have any of them back then. Lately, she has been having one a night after supper as "bessert" (dessert)...good thing I got the ones made with real fruit juice.

Abby wanted the Popsicle from her sister...so I let her try it...oh my, how funny...she kept coming back for more...

Notice Gator in the background...upset because she wants the Popsicle!

"Hmmmm, cold....yummy?"

Fortunately for us, Baby Girl LOVES to share....sometimes to a fault....she will gladly share her Popsicles with Gator.

We did find out the other day that we shouldn't share suckers from the bank with Gator. Gator realized that she likes those too...and she figured out if she clamps her teeth shut on the stick, Baby Girl cannot get the sucker back. So, needless to say, we are trying to keep Popsicles and suckers out of Gator's sight for now. (I know, what a mean Mama I am....remember my kids eat really good for them food....treats are not really an option in the house....they only know healthy! My plan is to keep it that way for awhile.)

Monday, February 28, 2011

How We Eat and Shop on a Tight Budget

The past few weeks we have been on an even tighter food budget than ever...due to less income thanks to the snow storms. We have depleted our frozen meat selection and continue to eat mainly fresh or frozen veggies. So, with virtually no money to spend ,what have we been eating?? Not Ramen Noodles as you may be thinking...we have eaten some really yummy and tasty meals!

Breakfast continues to be either oatmeal, eggs, pancakes, or yogurt. I buy the plain Quick Oats and microwave as needed...adding extract or cinnamon or Sprinkles to ad taste and variety. Eggs, I buy in 18 or larger packs...and I microwave in one-cup prep bowls-cup prep bowls...I cut in the bowl and wa-la I have easy scrambled eggs. I sometimes sneak in some baby rice cereal for added nutrition. Pancakes are my most labor intensive meal...I buy the just add water mix from the Wal-store..their brand. I make about 8 pancakes at a time and the girls will eat them all...any leftovers get a layer of peanut butter as a snack later in the day. Of course, I keep yogurt, bought in the large container on hand...sometimes plain, sometimes vanilla, sometimes peach...if its plain I add fruit or flavors depending on what I have on hand.

Lunch is either leftovers, or cheese and deli meat, or yogurt or PBJ. Sometimes grilled cheese. Baby Girl eats lunch while Gator is napping. Gator eats when she gets up. Gator usually has veggies...either ones that I have steamed and frozen at an earlier time...or straight from the frozen veggie bag.

Yes, That is broccoli...and she asks for it...begs for it!!

Supper has been Spinach and Cheese Manicotti, Chili Mac, Beef Fried Rice, Moroccan Stew, Chili, Chicken Cacatorri, Shepherd's Pie, Pronto Pasta and Sausage, Turkey Tetrazzini...wow! Hubby has been happy and full...Baby Girl says during every meal...Mama this supper is dood (good)!

I have been taking inventory of freezer and pantry first. Then I grab a cookbook...I find 4-5 recipes that have most of the items already in my freezer or pantry. Then I list the rest of the items that I need...and I don't look and look and look. I open the cookbook and the first recipe that I have the majority of the items I write down and move on to the next...don't make this step hard. I also place a maker in the cookbook so next week I can easily find the recipe that goes with the ingredients.

I made a large batch of chicken broth a few weeks ago with some chicken I found on sale...so I won't need to buy any for awhile...and we had Chicken Caccatorri with the chicken that night. I bought all the veggies I needed in the freezer section (way cheaper than in individual cans...and seems to be lasting longer) During the spring/summer, I like to buy fresh and freeze for later.

I try to only buy meat that has the markdown due to sell-by date...I freeze large packs of meats into smaller bags when I get home...that way I can pull out what I need as I need it...and this is also why I meal plan with what is in the freezer. It is hard for me to watch the sale fliers...and if I only buy markdown meat...I don't know what they will have before hand.

I only take cash to the store...and lately it has been $20-$30...I keep a running tally of the items in my cart..i.e. I grab milk and put in cart...I mark milk off the list...and I add 4 tally marks to the total tally on the side of my list. (I try to round everything up to account for tax) Once I get the items that we HAVE to have...milk, diapers...then I go to the next most needed items, etc until I hit my total that I have in hand. Then we head to the check out...even if there are items left on the list...this is also why I get the MOST IMPORTANT items first!

It takes me a little more time, because I do tend to zig zag the store. I only go to the items that I need and are on our list. No cruising the aisles....go right to what we need and move on...

So, maybe the recipe calls for pork...but I have beef...I'll swap. Maybe the recipe calls for peas and carrots...I may only have one or the other...I leave one out....I do make those adjustments as the week progresses...but this is what has been working for us.

Today I am working near and Aldi...and we NEED milk...I am going to venture into the store I have been wanting to go to forever to try to save more money...the closet Aldi is 30 miles from our house, so it is not a usual suspect on our errands route. I am all about saving money, but gas is high too...so while I may pay a little more for my milk...I save on the gas...adjustments have to be made!!

How do you save? Meal plan? Budget? Any tips to share?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oh my Gosh! A Tip that Worked!

Today I decided to try another tip! And low and behold...it worked!

I heard about this great time saving tip....do your prep for dinner before time for dinner. Well, me being me, thought really how much time can that save if I am still doing the prep work???

Gator was taking a good nap...Baby Girl was occupied and fed...and I was seeing what we had for dinner. I needed to know what meat to take out of the freezer. I found my recipe...I pulled out the meat...I took out the items that were needed and could stay on the counter the rest of the day. This is normal and I do this part often.

I emptied the dishwasher, loaded it, started it, got dressed....and Gator was still napping and Baby Girl was still occupied and fed. I had time on my hands. I got out the carrots and onions and peppers and peas...and I peeled and chopped and (yes cheap plug) I put into prep bowls. And I placed in the fridge. Now when I get home from going to Baby Girl's dance class, all I will have to do is cut the meat, and throw everything into the  pan...we're having Beef Fried Rice by the way...

And I still had some time before Gator woke up...

Have you tried any great tips that you were unsure that they would work, but now you swear by them???

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Great Find

I dropped the girls off early the other day. I HAD to get my nails done. I needed to feel human again.

I finished early and was feeling good about myself. Feeling pretty and human looking. My nail place is next to a Thrift Store. I had some time before I had to go to work.

I went in and started looking around. I looked at the shoes...nothing for either girl. I looked at pants for Baby Girl...she looks like she's waiting on a flood, and it appears that the cold weather is going to stay around for awhile...yet there was nothing that I liked/fit in my budget. I went to see if there was anything I could add to up coming Sensory Bins...again struck out. So I went to see if there were any books I could add to our collection. I am doing this Letter Themed loose version of homeschool right now and though we have a lot of books, I don't have a variety of letter in the titles...again not much.

Just as I was about to Thank God that I was able to not spend any money and leave, I saw a Daily Devotions book, for kids ages 3-6. It was in GREAT condition and it was $1.99. It was from 1997, but really God's Word is God's Word, and its cost new in 1997 was $16.99...I was so HAPPY!

And Baby Girl is really enjoyng the short one page bible reading and prayer. She even asks for it when she wakes up. Never say never, and never pass a thrift store without stopping.

Have you found any great thrifty finds lately?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rr is for Rejoice

Baby Girl has finished another project. I have to say this learning our letters endeavor is going very well. She really gets into thinking of people for our prayer lists. She likes to sit and work on her writing skills. She prefers gluing construction paper pieces in the block letters to the push pin letters and she can't wait to make a "project" for her chosen person.

This week we did a rainbow. First I had her separate fruit loop type cereal into color piles. Then I wrote our Bible verse for Rr on a piece of construction paper. Then I drew lines for her to trace with glue. I put on colored loop on each line to give her the start of the pattern and off she went...it was great...she is so into and intense when she is concentrating on coloring and the such (she has almost always colored inside the lines)

Then later that night she gave her Rockin Reward and Rainbow to her Mrs. Robin...lots of hugs and smiles.

I can't wait to see what we will to for Pp.

Yes, I am jumping around the alphabet...Baby Girl is really set in her orders and ways...so I am shaking it up a little to show her that though order is really nice it is ok to go out of order at times as well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vv is for Victory

Still working on our letter Vv.

So far we have talked about Vv, and victory, and the people we know that have a name that starts with Vv.

We did Push Pin Letters. I wrote the uppercase and lowercase Vv on a piece of construction paper and let Baby Girl use a push pin to poke holes in the paper. We did this while Gator took a nap to ensure that Gator would not get the pin. Also, be sure to place the paper on a piece of cardboard or on the carpet to keep your tables safe. (we did this in the living room) After the sun had set, we took the Push Pin Letters and turned off the lights, grabbed a flashlight and projected our letter on the ceiling and walls. Baby Girl thought this was the coolest thing ever.

Today, we picked someone from our Vv prayer list and made Vanilla pudding for them. I just used some mix that I had in the cabinet, but I did find a homemade recipe over at Heavenly Homemakers. I put the pudding in a cleaned out yogurt container. I took a piece of construction paper, wrote our Bible verse on it and let Baby Girl decorate the paper. We attached the paper to the outside of the container. I placed a note on top letter our gift recipient about our project. Now all that is left is to deliver our gift!

After we made the pudding and decorated the container, we read a bit from our Kids Daily Devotional. What a great day!

Vv is for Victory!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yummy Yogurt

My girls eat really well. They love yogurt. All flavors, all kinds. This makes me happy. My kids can eat gallons of the stuff. At about $4 for a "large" container of yogurt, this can get costly.

Last summer I can across a post on one of my favorite blogs about making your own yogurt. I thought, wouldn't that be great??? Then the doubter in me worried about would it really save me any cash, or would it just be another thing that I add to my day with no good things as an outcome??

Well, that was last summer. I have had to compromise on yogurt purchases...some weeks we can, some weeks we can't. Have I mentioned how tight money is in our house??

I came across the yogurt thought again, and I did more searching online...one of my favorite past times...(what did I do before search engines??) And I found a crock pot blog, and there was a yogurt recipe you make in your crock pot...yes, I am listening (reading) and well, at the end of her post she had a breakdown of the savings in her area and her costs!

So, in yet another attempt at saving money, I am going to attempt to make my own yogurt. And I will let you know how it all comes out!!! (Soon I hope)

What have you done to impact your budget/save some cash?

(Another thought was to look into making our own pasta, but really, at about $1 a box, I can't ok the thought to ferment in my mind, yet)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Adult Birthdays

Well, I celebrated my 30th birthday, again. I am willing to be 30 for awhile...I am not willing to be 31, 32, 33, 34,etc. I will turn 40 one day...I am ok with that.

Now, I am not holding onto 30 because I am sad about getting older. I by no means want to go back to the young and dumb days. I had my fun, I learned, I lived, I moved on. The only things that I want from the younger days, I have...my hubby, well and memories and friends.

So, why do I have such a hard time with birthdays? I really love birthdays. I mean I love it. I got breakfast in bed...french toast made by Daddy and Baby Girl. I got to sleep in. Daddy attended to Gator so I could sleep. I got to eat with my family at a very yummy restaurant. I got to try everyone's dessert. I got lots of leftovers, so I didn't have to cook supper. What could be better?

Anyone else struggling with birthdays...do you want to go back to a certain age?  Are you good with your age? Are you looking forward to a certain age?

Birthdays change at some point. Children look forward to their birthday as if the day will never come. Adults feel like they just finished cleaning up the mess from their last birthday and the next one has already come back around.

Until next year...when I turn 30, again.

More Snow???!!!!

NOTE *** I wrote this at the beginning of February, just haven't gotten around to posting it.

Are you kidding me! More snow in our forcast?!??!?! I live in an area that literally shuts down when there is snow and/or ice...see the 1st blog entry...

Last week, dear Hubby called and said get the girls and get home...the ice is getting bad and they are closing bridges, etc. I looked outside and well, no ice yet. So I finished what I was doing, then left to go get the girls. The ice had started, and there are lots of hills between where I was and where I needed to get to in order to get the girls. It took me almost an hour...it should have not taken more than 30-40 mins.

I get the girls and turn north to head to our house. Hubby calls again and says, no way no how...go back to your mom's. The bridge before our house was impassable. Are you kidding me???

Needless to say we stayed at Mimi's house...

I can't afford any more snow. When we are stuck at home (or Mimi's as the case may be), and roads are closed I can't get to work, if I don't teach a dance class I don't get paid, if Daddy cannot get off our hill and he doesn't fight crime, he doesn't get paid. Well, the defeicit that this is creating in our budget is getting to the point of OUT OF CONTROL....

I dislike snow for so many reasons, and I really can't wait for Spring to hurry up and get here...

Snow? Love it, like it? what's the call?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Prayer Lists

Borrowed another idea from a homeschooling mom that I found online...

We started with the letter Vv...and we started our prayer lists.

Baby Girl didn't quite get the idea of praying for people we know that begin with a V...but we made a prayer list, put it on our wall and talked about Victory, and finding victory with Jesus..so I felt good...and even after dealing with the water company, and the phone company, and the bank (all about added fees) I felt really calm after our prayer moment and bible time...

I like to do this from time to time, but I now feel and see first hand what I really need to strive for every day...it takes 5 min and its soooooooooooooo good for the soul (and sanity)!

What you done to keep you centered and calm lately?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More Grocery Winnings

As mentioned earlier in my blog, we had some snow here in the south...and we were unable to get out of our driveway...so dear hubby was unable to get to work. We live on hubby's overtime...so not getting to work led to no overtime, I had no income that week as well...well, as you can imagine...it has led us into a very very very very tight budget (which we usually only have to deal with during the summer...when I work little to none) However, Mother Hubbard opened the cupboard and well...not much.

**Cheap Plug** I grabbed  a recipe card collection that brags about $2 servings...I took a quick inventory of what was in the fridge and the cabinet (which was REALLY quick). I grabbed the shopping list from the recipe card collection...again didn't take long...and took $50...and off the the store we went...after some compromising on chicken breasts, finding zero deals on meat, and skipping the fresh produce for frozen (yikes, I had just gotten really good at perimeter shopping!!)...I was out of the store with enough food for at least the next week,..and real food (well, frozen veggies)...and I got diapers!! Yeah me!

Had any great moments of savings?

Friday, February 18, 2011

From A to Z!

Baby Girl has always liked sitting in your lap "writing". She makes her own grocery lists. She takes her "notes" during a meeting. And on and on.

Then she started wanting you to spell the words so she could "write" them. Then she wanted you to write the word for her. When she started asking how to write each letter I knew it was time. I got her some workbooks from the local Wal-store. She was so excited. She will ask for her "homework" nearly everyday! (She calls it her "homework...I did not start that!)

So, we started. Page 1, prewriting skills. Page 10, Letter A...then B...then C, etc. I would "let" her do a letter or two a day. I didn't want her to get too frustrated, I want her to enjoy learning. Plus, I don't want to put too much pressure on her. After a few too many letters, I can get a bit frustrated. So in an attempt to keep Mama and Baby Girl happy...I set a limit.

Well, we finsihed. A through Z. All capitals. My Baby Girl is growing up.

Now comes the lower case letters...and they are really throwing her mind for a loop. That darn b and d...ugh! But we will set a limit. I tell her repeatedly, as long as you try your best. And really isn't that what is important. Try your best...and if it doesn't work one way, try another...really let the frustrations go...

So, what you accomplished lately? From A-Z, one step at a time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Blog Confessions

ok, so I get an idea for a post...

I write it down...somewhere...never to be seen again.

I turn on the computer from time to  time and just add title after title as I brainstorm....

then during a quiet moment...I go back and fill in the rest...edit some...then get this...I publish a post...wow....did you like that look into my secret world???

It's also a time saver tip...I don't just sit and think up great interesting posts then blog away....I have kids, I have a husband, I have a household to run, I have jobs to get to, well, I have things I have to do...like feed the cat. Did I feed the cat today?

What are your secret time savers....you know the things that look all perfect to the outside world, but really you have a secret tip that you do so people think its perfect....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

We all have them, sometimes we even hide them...guilty pleasures...we strive to be perfect parents amidst the rubble of Little People and mismatched puzzle pieces...

But after 8pm, I tiptoe into the kitchen, and eat....chocolate or chips and dip...and I have them hidden in a cabinet that only adults know about...I keep the kids snacks waaaaaay across the kitchen in an entirely different cabinet...the kids' healthy snacks!

At least once a week, when Daddy is home...I sneak off into my bedroom...and shower...a real shower, with hot water, and no peeking out the shower curtain to make sure kids are still visible and not hurting themselves. A real LONG shower, not those short get the soap off you before a child is hanging from a fan shower...

And at least once a month, I drop the girls off somewhere with Mimi or an Aunt or Daddy, and I...get my nails done...and no I don't skimp on just a manicure...I get acrylic nails...I get a <gasp> fill-in!!! And I get my french manicure airbrushed on...the 1 hour to myself is amazing...its worth the 1 hour and 15 min I have to work to pay for it...I can feel human, and <gasp> un-mommy like....(I hate feet, so I skip the pedi)

So there you have it...underneath my tough, I got it together, perfect Mama exterior...hides a woman who hides junk food from her kids (only to eat it after everyone is in bed), takes a long hot shower, and gets her nails done.....really? if those brief moments help me hold it together, than guilty as charged...I am going to keep it up!!

Ok, I spilled, now whats your guilty pleasure???

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Apologies

As I mentioned in the beginning...I am not very computer advanced...and I am trying to learn as I blog...so I am changing things often trying to find what works and what doesn't, etc...which this may be the hardest on my readers...which at this moment may not be many...and hopefully one day I will have more readers...and really, I'm sorry...I am trying things out, swapping things around, all the while I am trying to not be a perfectionist...I am just going trial and error...cause isn't that what life is really all about...just get off the couch and do something? The dishes won't wash themselves, the kids won't teach themselves, and by-gosh the blog won't blog itself...here I am reading all these great blogs about great moms who have breakfast done and kids perfectly groomed before noon, and well, I love reading them thinking maybe one day...but I know there are more moms out there like me...flying by the seat of our pants, hoping the milk hasn't gone bad and there is at least one diaper in the 20 lb diaper bag...and gosh darn it I want the world to know about it...and I am struggling figuring it all out, but hang in there with me and the blog will work itself out, Baby Girl will stop whining and Gator will stop screaming, at least long enough the blow the dust off the cracker before they eat it, and at least you can have a good chuckle with me as I dab at the coffee stain on the carpet...

Bible Moment

While reading from the children's bible the other night with Baby Girl, I had a 'whoa' moment. We were reading the story about the children and Jesus..."let the children come to me"....well, in our watered down kiddie version...in plain words...it said that Jesus said he was not too busy for the children to come to Him....

Wow. I had to stop for a moment. How many times just this week have I said "Girls please go play Mama is too busy right now."? Wow. I had a very prayerful night over that one. Now when I start to say that I am too busy, I need to think...can I stop for a moment and read a story, play a game, get that hug...whatever it may be...

My challenge....next time I am about to say I am too busy right now...put the children first. They are the reason I stay home. They are the reason I am a mom...not the computer, the phone, the cleaning, whatever it is that is making me "too busy"...

Are you up for the challenge?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Baby Fashionistas?

Ok, I have never been a SLAVE to fashion, but I always tried to look nice and sort of be in style. Then I got married...as long as Hubby was happy I looked good, right? I have never turned down hand me downs...and I always said yes to the hand me downs from my more Fashionista type friends...

Then kids...and add in the fact that I spend more of my life in PJs and dance clothes (glorified PJs on some days!)

Well, Baby Girl has almost always had a bow in her hair that matched her outfit that well, was very stylish! The more oohs and ahhs I got when in public...the better mommy I am, right??? Then Gator came along...well, her personal style is a little different that Baby Girl's...but I do manage to get a bow or two in her hair during the week and I always try to match the girls...at least in the same color scheme (way easier to spot your child from across the grocery store, since they managed to escape from the buggy, when they are in the same color).

Again, the more oohs and ahhs I can recieve from strangers...the higher my mommy-confidence goes. Now I know your are picturing well groomed children in sweet matching white outfits with bright big blue bows in their perfectly combed hair, being pushed in a buggy by a woman with the same adult version outfit on, perfect nails, hair and make-up...matching shoes and handbag...ok. You. Are. Wrong. (By the way, does that exist in a world without Nannies and salaries without muliple commas? If so, share your secret please!)

Reality: Children are cute, and wearing very stylish (hand me down/consignment sale) clothes, rather matchy (for safety reasons), with cute hair bows (as long as Gator hasn't pulled hers and Baby Girl's out).

Reality: Mama...wearing the jeans(either bought many moons ago or handme downs) that are the cleanest that she could find (or the only ones she can find, sprayed with frebreeze) with a nearly clean shirt....hopefully her right shoe matches her left shoe...hair is always up...ponytail, bun, clip....anything to make it appear cleaner than it is....make-up??? are you nuts? I am still trying to remember if I had time to brush my teeth...ok wait, if medicated chapstick counts as perfect make-up, then yes, perfect make-up.

Oh, Lord forbid, the entire family has to be somewhere, looking nice and put together...I start getting us all ready days in advance!!!

I know I am not the only one. I may be the only one willing to admit it. It's the truth...as long as the kids are cute and put together...people in public nearly always comment on the kids, interact with the kids...nobody really looks at Mama...and its ok, since its not the prettiest sight to be had. (maybe people aren't looking becasue they are praying you won't notice their right and left shoe don't match!)

To all the Mommies out there...hang in there...it's the best job, it's the toughest job, and it is the most worthwhile job that I have ever had...hang in there, we're in this together!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Mama = Happy Baby and Toddler

It sounds so simple. Stay calm and the kids will stay calm. Talk nicely and the kids will talk nicely. All things that I strive for daily. If Mama stays on track and in control the day will also stay on track and in control...simple right??

Then why is reality so much different??? (Obviously, today is going smooth if I am finding time to blog, but on those other days...)

There are many days that start with such potential...the sun is shining, the kids are smiling...Mama got to the bathroom before noon!! Clothes are neat and folded nicely in drawers, Dishes are cleaned and placed in cabinets...food is warm and yummy..."things to do list" is empty (at least things are getting marked off)...

Then the day of Potential begins to melt away in exploding poopy diapers, 3 year old sass ("I NEVER get to sit in your lap!), the wrong snacks flying across the room, dirty clothes piling high near the wash machine, Mount Dishes replaces the kitchen sink, 1 year old walks around with bottle of hand soap hanging out of her mouth, 3 year old cries because said 1 year won't play with her/won't stop playing with her, great educational toys being strewn across the floor and being stepped on, toddler chairs being flipped by 1 year old (while she was standing in it), hair pulling, lots of crying and foot stomping...okay okay...the last two were Mama...but still, didn't it all start out to be the day that would define me as  a great mom??

When does it happen? Why does it happen? When does Mama stop uttering "Lord, Love is Patient, Love is Kind" and start screaming "If you cry one more time, I am going to lose my cool!!!"?  (Which haven't I already lost control of the day at that point???)

Have you figured it out??? What? When? Where? Who? How? (Though I think the "How?" in question here is "How to avoid meltdowns and/or gain back the control.")

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I never...

Baby Girls latest misuse of the english language is making me crazy! (her misusage is usually very entertaining and humorous!)

"Mama,I never get a cookie after supper!" (Almost always a dessert of some sort is offered, she usually doesn't eat much of the junk food variety)

"Mama, I never get to go see Mimi!" (We see Mimi at least once a week, and most weeks more than that!!!)

"Mama, I never get to help you!" (She always gets to do something as long as it is safe for her to help...no using my knives to chop the veggies!)

Oh, this list goes on....and it makes me mad...really mad. She doesn't understand what "never"means, but it still makes me mad...because I try so hard to balance keeping her happy and keeping her safe. Plus, isn't the sassy, "You never let me do anything" phase supposed to start in the teens? Not preschool?

I never, I never, I never....I'll be glad when this phase is over!

What phase were you most glad to see gone?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Getting Ready for a Cooking Show

In 2003, I wanted something to do while Daddy was at work. He worked night and evening shifts up until about 4 years ago. But I didn't want to spend money. So I started as a Pampered Chef consultant. I am a pure hobbiest, much to the dismay of my Director. Anywho, that's the back story.

I had a show in January. I love Cooking Shows...I have so much fun getting ready for them. I love picking a recipe. I love finding the tips and "jokes" that will fill the time while the food cooks. I really do love Cooking Shows.

I don't love worrying that I am going to mess up. I don't love worrying that people won't have fun. I don't love people thinking I am pushing them to buy. (I really do just want everyone to have fun!)

I love that Baby Girl LOVES helping Mama get ready for the "chef parties". I love how Baby Girl knows the name of my products and what they do. I love that she can be a part of one of my many jobs. I love that I can use it as a learning tool...because what parent doesn't love to teach their children about life. I love helping her learn how to cook. I love that she likes to help Mama get the grocery shopping done for the "chef party". I love that she calls it my "chef parties". It's great.

It's hard to make a 3 year old understand (at least my 3 year old....she has a long attention span) that we sometimes have to stop packing for a show when Gator needs to eat or a diaper change or a nap. Baby Girl just doesn't get it. She thinks that I am not finishing it or won't go back to it. I guess in her eyes, if I am not packing she can't help, and if she can't help, Mama doesn't love her. Hey, mommies who work outside the home fulltime don't have the market cornered on "Mommy Guilt". She gets upset and says "I never get to help you!"

I have been doing this since 2003, so I have really streamlined what I do, and I have more shows under my belt, so I am a faster packer. Sorry Baby Girl!! Mama loves you!!!

shameless plug alert!!! Here's my website if you're interested www.PamperedChef.biz/JenniPennington

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Toys are Winning...

I asked Santa to bring me some things to help me get the toys that runneth over organized (should I mention that I rarely buy toys...in fact most all toys are Birthday and Christmas Toys from family and friends)...and Santa helped out...but...

I still  feel like I am lost in an overflowing sea of toys...

Anyone else swimming toys...I have purged! I don't buy! I swear they are bunnies and multiply while I sleep!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February Sensory Bin

I have always made sure that Baby Girl has plenty of toys that give her opportunities to learn. She has always been interested in learning. I have looked into homeschooling, and I have come across some great sites!!

One site I came across talks about Sensory Bins. (Totally Tots...see button...) My goal for February is to get a little more schooling into our homeschooling...I mean she is only 3...but on the other hand she is 3 and needs to start some formal leaning. (More about that on another day)

I brought out the Sensory Bin I have made for February, well in process of making, I really need to get some hearts and stuff, any who....first thing that happened...

In their defense...we are new to the tub concept!! I guess we can file this under, the boxes get more play time at Christmas than the toy!!

Well, I will keep you updated on our journey into education.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Park Day!

Only in the south will you find Daddies out hunting the last weekend of January, and Mommies and kids picnicing at the park...did I mention it is the last weekend in January that we are doing this?

The girls and I got up this morning and were greeted with sunshine and warm weather...getting near the 70s today!! So, I figured let's head to the park...and that's just what we did.

We put on our jeans and our long sleeved t-shirts (just in case the wind was chilly) and headed to the park. Baby Girl played on all the playground equipment and Gator tried relentlessly to eat the pea gravel. Two long hours later, I called Baby Girl over to a picnic table and we had a quick lunch. I packed up a VERY tired Gator and we made the short trip back home.

As I drug our weary bodies up the front walk, I laughed to myself...only in the South. I hope the girls had a good time, and take a long nap. The next park day may be far in the future...it is the South, and who knows we have snow again that keeps us frozen inside the house!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Food Budget, Oxymoron?

For months, ok years, we have been trying hard to lower the amount of money we spend...on everything. Who isn't???

I have been focusing on trying to deal with the food bill. Step one - We stopped eating out at sit down resturants. Step two - then we stopped eating as much fast food. Now it is a rare treat (though I tend to pay for it in more ways than just with money)

When you "give up" eating out, you have other options - not eating or cooking. Ok, so not eating is really not an option I'd choose. I love food!! It's yummy!!! I have always enjoyed cooking. So I began focusing on finding the cheaper convinence foods. I only had a few recipes that I knew well and could get ready in a short amount of time. I was still spending more than I would have liked on food and only getting a few bags of groceries, not exactly the plan. I took to the internet for help. I have been trying all sorts of tips that I have come across. Keeping the ideas that work for me and tossing the ones that don't.

Some of the ideas that I have tried are:
  • shop only the perimeter of the store (produce, dairy, meat)
  • cook from scratch
  • have a meatless night
  • have a leftover night
  • take inventory
  • meal plan
  • keep the kitchen clean (surpresses the urge to throw in the towel and go out to eat)
  • keep a food price diary
  • coupons
  • price match
  • use it, don't toss it
These are just a few of the ideas that I have been trying or tossing...you'll have to keep checking in to see the outcomes and more ideas.

What are some things you do in your kitchen to cut down on food costs??

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Homemade Baby Food

One of the things we did differently with Gator vs Baby Girl was that I made her baby food. In a hopes to save some money, I tried my hand at it. And the fact that Gator had ZERO interest in baby food, we were willing to try anything!. We figured, try it and save - YEAH! Try it and bomb - at least we tried.

I hit the produce section. I got a pound of every fruit and vegetable that seemed good for a baby. Then I got to the task of slicing, dicing, steaming, processing, and freezing. Yes, I did large batches and froze them in ice cube trays and stored in freezer bags.

At the end of the day I was tired. Baby Girl felt like a grown up (she LOVED holding the button on the food processsor...she's such a great big sister). And Gator ate it! Really ate it. In fact, she loved the homemade baby food! And I loved it!! I could get $20 of produce for her and make nearly a months worth of baby food. I could never have gotten $20 of jarred baby food to last almost a month. I even added rice cereal to the veggies and meats, and oatmeal to the fruits. I had all of her nutritional needs covered!!

Here's a site that helped me with ideas for good veggies and fruits.
Then came the day that Gator needed more finger food than baby food. I was sad. I had enjoyed my cooking days with Baby Girl. I enjoyed watching Baby Girl wanting to help make Baby Sister's food. She really LOVED it.

I still make Gator's toddler food, somewhat. She eats pretty much anything we do now. As long as she can pick it up with her fingers, she'll eat it. And I know my days of making "her" food are numbered. (Yes, I know, I'll be cooking for her for many years to come...but its not baby food!)

I never thought (A) I would enjoy making baby food as much as I did (B) I would miss it so much.

Anyone else have a similar moment/event as a parent?

What do you miss the most as they grow, that you didn't even think you'd enjoy in the first place?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reading Dr. Seuss

Have you ever read a Dr. Seuss book?

Have you ever read a Dr. Seuss book to a preschooler? again and again?

Then you know that there is something that happens to your speech and thought patterns for quite some time afterwards. And if you are not aware of what I speak...go read a Dr. Seuss book. Three will produce the best results. It can be the same book three times in a row or three different Dr. Seuss stories...and then check your email, read your bank statement...it doesn't matter...you'll be reading and thinking in Dr. Seusslish!!!

Did you try it?? What happened?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gator's 1st Birthday!

Even with being snowed in for 6 days, we managed to pull off Gator's 1st birthday party! It was great...a lot less stressful than the last 1st birthday party I planned. I guess that is what happens when you do almost exactly the same thing!

Baby Girl helped me decorate, make and decorate the cakes. Daddy made steak strips. Mimi and Paw Paw were gracious enough to allow us to have the party at there house...good thing that was the paln all along since our driveway still had LOTS of ice on it and was still undrivable!!

Gator let her big sister open her cards and help with the presents...hopefully Baby Girl will be as nice to let her sister help in June! Gator got bunches of clothes, puzzles, toys, and of course jewelry. I think my girls have more than I do!!

I was well prepared for Gator to attack the cake and make a HUGE mess...but in true Gator fashion she did what she wanted to do...not what Mama was expecting! She didn't seem to like the texture of the icing on her fingers...she did like the taste though. I guess it is genetic...Baby Girl wouldn't even put her hands in her cake! She had to have a fork in order to eat it.

We did have one shocking moment. Gator went straight for the candle...and by candle I mean flame...good thing it got blown out right as she touched it. She didn't cry, but the pout was too cute. I hope someone caught it with the camera!

We have managed to get the gifts unpacked and seems like Baby Girl enjoys playing with Gator's toys. Maybe Gator will get a chance to play with them after sister tries them all out. At least Baby Girl is "reading" the books to Gator.

As I find some more pockets of time I will add some pictures...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Well, I've Done It Now!!

For months I have been looking into blogging...and I decided that since my car is stuck at the bottom of the ice covered driveway...today was the day! I officially have a blog...not too shabby for someone who needs help using the remote for the t.v.!

It is really hard to pick a title and all the other things that go into this relatively simple art called blogging...it is going to be on the web forever...no pressure, huh?  As if life wasn't pressure enough!

I hope to let others into a snapshot of the life of a working stay at home mom, struggling to keep everyone happy, everyone fed, everyone sane, everyone getting along, everyone headed in the right direction...so there it is the goals of my blog...could they be anymore less than concrete!?!

I have no set schedule for posting yet...heck I am still learning the lingo and getting set up...plus I am pretty fly by the seat of my pants...as long as I have a list! (Anyone else that?? You are not alone!!) I guess I will get around what I have in store for you so check in often!

So, what do you think of the 1st official post???