Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mommy Help! Part 4

Freezer Prep Day
After completing the last step of preping the meals for the freezer I am exhausted. I symathize with women in the old days who had laundry Monday, bread Tuesday, and so forth. It's no wonder many women back then did not deal with obesity like we do today.
I spent the whole day in the kitchen cutting ingrediants, sautaing portions, mixing up breads and so forth. I had my list and I had everything writen in the best order, acording to the items that I could do at one time, or the methods and ingrediants needed. I all went very smoothly I must say. But God my feet hurt so bad when I finally got to sit down for dinner!
Then some how I managed to get a second wind, maybe it was the beer I decided to drink that took the edge off my painful feet. I got up and painted some more of my front room walls going under a major face lift right now.
If you decide to plan out your meals, budget, shop and then prep ingrediants for the freezer I highly recommend that you do it over three different days. The freezer day wore me out!
Now next month I plan to try and do 30 days of planning instead of two weeks. I think it will make my life much eaier.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Mommy Help! Part 3

Shopping Day
Yesterday I did my shopping. It took me about three hours for that as well. I ended up not changing my list much. I just took some of the premade frozen items like the hot pockets off of the list for lunches, instead me and the two at home will eat left overs for lunch. That'll work well.
Actually shopping day took me more than three hours. I was three hours physically in the stores, but I also spent another two hours before that shopping the adds.
The one list I used to create my shopping list allows me to put in the meal name and then in the different categories (dairy, meat, bread, etc) put in the ingredient and the amount. At the bottom of each column one row tells me how much I need of that ingredient for all recipes, then the next row I put in how much I have on hand, the last row calculates the difference. Then it creates a prepopulated list for each category that tells me how much I need. I really liked this list because every thing was broken down by department. So I took this list along.
But I still had one more list to create. The one with all the sales. I have another list that I have created myself. I created it in excel. It's pretty simple, but if anyone wants a copy just email me. Most of you know that Wal Mart, at least here, will match any competitors ad. So I have created a spread sheet where I list all items I need at the store, the next column I put the quantity I need, following that is (if needed) the store where I find the item on sale, the next column I put the sale amount or what I think the item will cost (anymore I'm getting pretty good at it), then the next column is a sum format that calculates the cost my how many I need to give me a total for that item. This column is helpful because when I get to the store I can also see what I budgeted for that items, and make adjustments if necessary. Many times I over budget on several items and a little under on another, so it tends to balance out that way. Then at the bottom is a final total so I have an idea how much I will be spending before I even get to the store.
Yesterday was the best I had ever done. Because of the first list that allowed me to write down every single ingredient and compare to what I have on hand I had a complete list, with nothing left out. Usually I would go to the store and remember items that I forgot to write down or I would get home and not have an ingredient and have to go back later.
So the first total I shared with you before was about $370. Way over the budget. I only had about $300 to spend. So right off to took off items I could do with out. I didn't make much difference, but some. Then I shopped the ads and created my ad match spread sheet. My new total was $353. So I went with it. I knew there were many items that I was over estimating because I didn't want a false sense of my budget.
So first was the Trading Company. I can't stand the so called fresh meats at Wal Mart. So I went and got the beef and chicken on my list. Also they have a better price (since no one else had an ad for milk) on their two packs of milk so I got milk, and they had a sale on a good whole wheat bread that I got there. My total there was right at $53.
Next was Wal Mart. I stopped and made a note on my list that I was $53 over to start with and had already spent that much. So I needed to keep my shopping at Wal Mart to under $250. So out came the calculator and pen. First I started with the more expensive items. I knew in order to make this work I would need bowls, freezer bags, and more seal a meal bags for everything I am going to prep and put in the freezer. Another problem with planning ahead and buying for two weeks is the fresh vegetables that go bad. So I will be preparing and freezing everything I can today which hopefully will make things easier for the next two weeks as well. Anyway to I found a large box of container for $10 and my seal a meal freezer bags for $19. Then there was Laundry detergent on the list. It was on sale for less than $17, usually it's more than $18! and then my husbands 3 cubes of Pepsi, again on sale for $5.99. Oh and don't forget the stinkin' diapers, generic brand for less than $11. So already I was just under $80. But I knew this was the bulk of my shopping cost.
Then I started getting everything else on my list. Yes I'm so cheap that I asked a very help (very rare at Wal Mart) Nathan in dairy to go back and look for their mild Cheddar for $4.76 that they were out of on the shelf. He came back and said they didn't have anymore. Then I showed him that it was almost $2 more for their mild of the same size. He picked up the mild and handed to me and told me to tell the cashier to match it and that Nathan said! That was the first time I had that happen. Thanks, Nathan. By the time I got to the register I had only three items to match. Sometimes I have about a dozen. But they seemed to be on top of the adds. Because when I left the house I had almost two dozen items from ads. It may seem like a lot of work, and sometimes feels like a waste of time, but on those days when they are not on top of the ads I really can save a lot of money.
Here's the kicker. I wrote my check for $250 and some change, and I was able to get everything on my final list. Most of my over estimating was in spices. You never know when you will be able to get the spices you need for fifty cents or $3. I had a long list of spices. This really was a major restocking of my pantry because I had done so poorly in my planning before that I didn't buy the stuff we could use for a long time and wasted our money on things that went fast.
Now I'm stocked and ready to start preping the food for the freezer, which will be my task today. So I will let you know how many misadventures I have in the kitchen today.
I don't' recommend doing all of this in one day. You will wear yourself out so bad. To keep your sanity and wits about you make this a three day adventure, menu and shopping list first day, shopping second day and then freezer and meal prep the third day.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Dumpsters and Grades

Some how I was never aware that dumpsters and school grades had anything in common. That was until yesterday.

My son came home very excited. He came running down the stairs to my office say "Mom! Guess What!"

"Yes son, what?"

"I got an 80% on my math test!"

"That's great! I'm proud of you!"

"Hey Mom? "


"What is an 80%?"

"I believe that would be a B"

As he is running up the stairs to get his homework finished I hear "YES! I KNEW I COULD PULL MY GRADES OUT OF THE DUMPSTER!!!!"

Hmmmm. That's a new one to me. I couldn't help but let loose a laugh. I was glad that he was already upstairs so I didn't embarase him. Then of course his dad and I had another laugh that night as we were discussing the days events before falling asleep.

My Newsletter

I'm trying something new. Please send this to your friends and share with other people. I am going to start a newsletter. I will be based on both of my blogs. So the subject matter will range from Genealogy, history, digital scrapbooking to stay at home parents, parenting, family and many other topics.

It will be a great way for you to get my blog material on a regular basis with out always having to visit my blogs.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mommy Help! Part 2

Well I got my menu and shopping list finished yesterday. I've done a menu and shopping list for two weeks worth. My husband gets paid every two weeks, so that's when I do my shopping.

The planning the menu process went rather smoothly, though it is time consuming. I think I spent about three hours on a two week menu. But I know as I do this more often it will be a faster process for me.

I my previous post I listed several sites to use for this process. I think I used almost everyone of them, and tried out the forms. I'm still trying to decide which forms are more efficient. I'll let you know that later.

After I was happy with the menu and decided that it fit my family I created my shopping list, and estimated the cost of the items I needed. At the bottom of the list I about had a heart attach when I saw the cost! $370 for two weeks of groceries! Now I know why I go over my grocery budget so much. Looking back I spend about $700-$800 a month in groceries, but I budget for only $500-$600 a month. See a problem with my math. This planning tells me something. I spend more because I make a hundred trips to the store and don't plan meals that fit my allowable budget. So I need to rework my menu to fit my budget. Back to the drawing board. Argh!

This is a good things though. If I can learn to plan in advance what we are going to eat and plan it to fit my budget, then I can accomplish a couple things. First I take the guess work out of "what are we having for dinner tonight?" I won't find myself opening the fridge and cabinet 20 times before I come up with something. Second, hopefully, I can get my grocery spending to fit the budget I can afford to allow for us. Though I got to admit that will be the biggest challenge. It is hard to feed a family of five on only $550, give or take, each month. Especially when I still buy diapers for Jamie and lots of Pepsi's that I can't get my husband off of.

If anyone has got any advice for shopping on about $550 a month for a family of five I could sure use the advice. I'll let you know how it comes out after I revisit the drawing board.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mommy Help!

First I am still trying to form that group of Stay/Work at home Moms and Dads. I'm sure they are feeling the same as me; the need for adult conversation at least once a week. I've also joined a few groups of Moms and Dads online for support and great ideas.

I am a pretty well organized mom. I have calendars, schedules, budgets and so forth, but there has always been one very week area for me, COOKING! I hate always hated cooking and especially planning a meal. I enjoy baking from scratch, its the cooking a meal that gets me. Well yesterday I discovered some very helpful website and tools thanks to some other mommies in the support groups. These website and tools are great for ALL PARRENTS WORKING OR STAYING AT HOME!

So in my website favorites I created a file that says MOMMY HELP! Then I bookmarked most of these sites in it to use later. I've got to make the groceries I have right now last until the end of the week, but on Friday I will be planning out our menus and grocery list so I will let you know how helpful these website were for me. But for now you can check them out too.

By the way I've been both the Working mom and the Stay at home mom, so believe me I know these websites are useful for both. I sure wish I had known about them when I was a working mom. I can't tell you how many times I came home so exhausted and couldn't figure out anything I wanted to cook, even though I had a pantry full of food, and instead went and got fast food. It's no wonder this country struggles with obesity. Our mothers are over worked, stretched thin and under appreciated. And that goes for Working and Stay at home moms alike! Oh and yes Dads too.

So I hope you find these sites helpful and useful.

MENUS 4 MOMS This site looks like my favorite so far. This site sends out a weekly menu for you to use to plan out your meals for the next week and your grocery list. Also you get a daily reminder with useful tips and ideas of things to do that day to keep your home organized and together. I have subscribed for this one!

30 Day Gourmet If you like to take one or two days a month and cook many meals to freeze and then quickly rewarm for the month, this is the site for you. Many useful ideas, tips and helps on cooking and freezing meals for the month. As well as menus for this.

Mainly Mom Another fabulous website! This one has more than menus and meal planning templates, which are under RESOURCES. This one also covers budgeting on one income! My current project. This mom has done the same thing I did. She was a working mom with a career. She realized that the daycare values were not hers and the it wasn't right that her girls were eating more meals in the car than at home. I know how she feels. Though I miss the work place I have the peace of mind knowing that my children are better for me being home, even if that mean we have to do with out the things we want once in a while.

Saving Dinner You can use this site to get the free meals every month, but you can also subscribe to this for meals planned especially for your family. This is really great if you have picky eaters, someone with diabetes, food allergies and such in the family. This is the site for custom made planning for meals.

The Recipe Link Want many choices to choose from for each day of the week? This is a great site. With many recipes and meal ideas for each day of the week. You just choose the ones from the list that work for you and create your own meal plan from there. Recipes for every thing on the list, so if your not much of a cook this will be very useful. Even the most simplest recipes are listed.

I hope this is helpful to all parents our there looking for a little help in the food area. Here are some things to keep in mind. When you plan meals for your family you will save money and time, you will eat healthy, and I bet some of you will loose weight when this brings you to the table instead of eating your meals from the fast food chains.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Hockey, The Spokane Chiefs

I am so exhausted today from lack of sleep that I won't catch up on now that the kids are back home. But I thought I'd share my experience with all of you on the hockey game we were treated to last night.

A couple very dear friends of ours wanted to treat us to a hockey game. They are so into the game it's unbelievable. They always have season tickets. So this weekend the couple knew they wouldn't have his son so they wanted to take us instead.

We agreed and made arrangements for our kids in order to be with out them for the night. Mind you that isn't easy for us to do. We rarely, if we are lucky maybe three time a year, leave the kids with my parents in order to get away and have some fun. When we decided to be parents we agreed to do just that. We don't try to pawn our kids off on other people so we can go to the bars, movies, games and other adult things. So this was going to be a very rare treat. So we made the best of it.

Since we weren't going to have the kids, (And by the way Grandma and Grandpa were more than happy to take them. They enjoy it once in a while, just not all the time) we made plans to meet this couple early in the evening in Spokane and go out to dinner since this was going to be a later than normal game. So we went to the Olive Garden, downtown, where we waited more than and hour for a table. When we finally had enough of that we went and waited and snag the first table someone got up from in the bar. We barely left there in time to get to the game.

We get to the Spokane Arena, and I always knew the Spokane Chiefs were a big deal around here, but I didn't realize how so until I get in there and in the concession area it's wall to wall bodies trying to navigate to their sections, the concession stands, and other places. There are lines a mile long to get anything including drawing money out of the ATM. It was amazing.

Then we get into our section and get seated. The game got started a little late, which wasn't that big of a deal since we barely got there. So they go through their opening ceremonies and all. I got my camera out to take photos and before the lights came back on from the opening ceremonies for the game to begin I was approached and told by security that there were no cameras allowed unless you had a permit. That as far as I'm concerned that's a bunch of crap. I simply wanted to chronicle my experience (maybe put a few in my scrapbooks to share with the kids). but oh well, so I only managed to get a few dark pictures before I had to put it away.

The game began and like I suspected it gets brutal. No surprise there. It was actually fun to watch. Though it was disappointing that they lost last night on my first visit to see them.

But it was at the end that all the excitement began. They were down by a couple points. I swear someone gave these boys the green light because there was about a half dozen fights in the last couple minutes of the game. These boys were just wailing on each other. I couldn't believe it. What was even more amazing the officials just stood there with them and let them keep going at it. They would only break up the fights when they got each other down on the ground. I was just amazed.

Lets just say I'm still not a hockey fan, but it was an awesome experience. Yesterday we also registered our oldest son for the Post Falls Little League. Now that I can't wait for it to start because I'll be a fan of any sport my children are in!

Good Luck Spokane Chiefs. It was an amazing experience, but it's just not my sport to watch. I don't think I could even ever let my boys play the sport.

So anyway we went back to our friends house for a little while and visit more. We didn't get home till about 1:30 in the morning. I'm usually sacked out by then.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The "Naked" Phase and Potting Training

Sometimes I look back at the end of my day and wonder how I remained sane. I am having a lot of fun with Jamie right now. She likes to strip. Not exactly the career path I want for her.

Just after breakfast this morning she had her clothes off and was in her room getting another pair of big girl panties out of her drawer. I'm proud of her that she is trying. Of course it helps that she hates diapers. But I can't say I look forward to cleaning up her accidents, which happen daily. I'll be glad when she gets a hang of getting to the potty in time. Later this morning she brought me another pair to change into and I got to putting on her pants and she was already crying and pulling them down. We no sooner got her underwear on and she peed in them. I hate potty training, so to say the least I'll be glad when it is over.

Keeping clothes on her I don't worry about much right now because she seems to have an easier time with potty training if all she has on is a pair of underwear. So yesterday I didn't make a big deal of it when that's all she wanted to wear. That was until I went into her brothers room where they were playing and she is standing on the bunk ladder buck naked. I asked "what on earth are you doing little lady," Since Jamie doesn't say much that's audible yet, her brother answers "we are having a naked party." Now where do they get such ideas, but I was relieved to find he was still fully clothed. I wanted to laugh, but instead I picked her up and said "I don't think so." Justin must have thought it was funny because he just laughed.

Nap time is also a pain now that she is two. I have to continually go in and check on her, because I usually find her going through her drawers finding another outfit. If she doesn't fall asleep quickly then you can bet there will be about five different outfits scattered on the ground, and a new one cockeyed on her.

I guess it's all part of the learning, but I don't know how I'm staying sane. With the boys I wasn't home 24/7 for this phase. I have to form a group of other moms and dads in this area so we can help each other out by just getting out of the house!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Calling all Stay/Work at Home Moms/Dads

I have been searching for a group of stay or work at home moms and dads in this area. There are many groups out there that have formed, but I can't find any here in the Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene, ID area. If any one knows of a group already in existence then please let me know.

If there is no group, then lets consider making one. I would like to find other moms and dads in this area that stay at home with their children, even if they work from home.

I always thought I would be the working mom, but as many of you know the birth of my third child changed that for me. I could no longer afford daycare and I physically couldn't keep doing everything any longer. Now I miss the adult contact.

So here is what I would like to do. Join a group of stay/work at home moms/dads in this area or start one. Please write back and let me know what you think or if you are interested.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Secret

Need I say more. Here I was going to do a post about the Secret. But guess what Oprah beet me to it. Oprah on the Secret, the law of attraction.

I friend sent me the video, The Secret. I watched and I have been watching my life change ever since. Basically the secret is the law of attraction. We attract into our life what we think, feel, and act upon. For example: if we are constantly thinking about debt, feeling depressed or down about our debt, talking about it constantly, we are only attracting more debt. If however we begin to think about financial freedom, allow ourselves to feel like we are financially free, start implementing a process to obtain financial freedom and focus on that financial freedom then we will begin to attract financial freedom! That is one thing that I am working on now, and it is working. I now for the first time in years have a small savings account. It's not much but I will watch it grow.

Apply that process to everything in your life. Stop thinking about what you don't want because that will only bring more of what you don't want. Instead focus on, think about, feel and begin the process toward what you do want and it will begin to happen for you.

This is amazing stuff! You have got to watch it and make it a part of your life!

My Bad, Lost Emails

Well my daughter and I are setting here at home trying to pass the afternoon. Dad and the boys went to the Monter Jam at the Spokane Arena this afternoon. They aren't home yet, so I don't know how it went. But knowing my boys and their toys they will have loved the show and the time spent with just Dad.

I've been taking advantage of the time with out any of them under foot and with Jamie down for a nap, well she's up now, to clean up my files and especially hours of purging emails.

I never realized how many emails I have saved that I don't even need, or the worst part how many I don't think I ever responded to. But I made sure to respond tonight. It's never too late as they say. I even told one of them that I get emails in all day long. I am like a hound dog on a bird trail somtimes when I am making discoveries on my ancestors. I simply flag the email with all intentions of getting back to the person. But sometimes those emails get buried under all the others I get.

We all have days, weeks, and even months like that. Where everything is coming at us and we can only catch and deal with a few pieces. My last few months have been insane. Between writing a couple books for our family on our ancestors, applying to teach digital scrapbooking and storybooking at NIC, promoting my business Untangled Family Roots/Heritage Makers, my genealogy research, and not to forget the kids, my hubby and the house, well let's just say I haven't caught and dealt with everything on a timely manner. My Bad!

I now finally have a professional website up at, Untangled Family Roots. It still needs some work, but it feels good to finally have that professional presence for my business. Things are starting to happen! I know I will soon have some parties the way I am going.

Now I can't wait till the boys get back and find out if Dad only took pictures of the trucks or if he took a few of the boys too, and if I'm lucking maybe one of him.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Please and Thank You

Today in our busy lives it seems we have forgotten how to use three very simple word. We have forgotten to have manners. We live in a society that has this impression that they are entitled and no one sees the importance of a Thank You.

Well, I have tried to teach my children that they are not entitled and that a Thank You can make a person's day. We say Please and Thank You as if they are second nature.

When was the last time that you said thank you to a cashier, waitress, or receptionist? If you can't remeber the last time, then you should be ashamed of yourself. Many people work in positions of service. They are often paid minimum wages. Yet most will great you with a smile and say thank you for coming in. You are no more entitiled to a thank you then they are, but simply telling them thank you for helping you may make their day brighter. They may even give you better service the next time you visit.

When was the last time you asked you waiter if he/she could please bring you something? If you didn't say please with your request, then shame on you! Here is a story that made me thank of the importance of my please that I didn't even realize. Most of you know I do genealogy research on my family. Early in my research I was looking for informaiton on my great grandfather. I already had the dates on my grandfather, so I was moving ahead. I posted a queary on a genealogy message board. "Please help....." A wonderful genteman came across my post and responded. He said that he had found the obituary of my grandfather, would I like a copy? I wrote him back telling him thank you very much and that I would love a copy since I didn't have one. A few weeks later I got an envelope in the mail from the man with a copy of the obituary. I emailed him to let him know I got it and to thank him. I also asked if there was any genealogy research that he could use some help with please let me know. He wrote back to say that no he doesn't do genealogy research. He simply does work with old archived newspapers and saw my request. He says he rarly ever responds to a request, but because I asked please he couldn't ignore it and was happy that he could give me something of my grandfather that I didn't have. In other word "Please" will get you closer to your goal then making a demand!

I didn't realize until yesterday that it has become such an important part in our family that my two year old surpised me. I was having a not so good day yesterday. With errarnds to run and a bank account issue to deal with and blister on my feet, I was about exhausted. At about 1:30 yesterday I finally gave up and went back home to feed the kids.

When we headed back out later my daughter grabbed up her doll and teddy. I didn't think anything of it until we were on our way across town to the next bank I needed to go to. Jamie kept dropping her doll and was fussing to reach it. It was where I could reach it easy enough so I picked it up and handed it back to her. She said "Thank you, Mommy!" with a big smile on her face. I had to make myself consentrate on my driving because what I really wanted to do was grab her up and give her a good squeeze. I had been repeating those words to her when appropriate, but it wasn't till then that I realized she got it.

She turned my whole day around. When I got to the bank I was in a great mood and everything started working out! And that leads me to another post for another day. Look forward to my post on the Secret of life. The law of attraction.

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