Monday, December 14, 2009

Busy busy busy!

I really haven't been ignoring my blog. Really. I just got a part-time gig to see us through the holidays. I'm working at a major big box store for the holidays, which requires me to be up at 3am and at work by 4am. That doesn't leave me much time for blogging out my thoughts. But I'll be back!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

You look maaahvelous!

She found my mascara. Thank goodness it wasn't waterproof.

Look at all the LEGOs!

We got an odd telephone call from our pediatrician's office a few days ago. It went like this:

Caller: Hi, this is Cindy from Dr. V--'s office. I'm not calling about an appointment or anything.
Me: Um, okay...
Caller: Actually, Dr. V-- asked me to call. You see, she's got some LEGOs that she needs to get rid of, and she didn't want to throw them away. She asked me, "Who is that family with all those boys and one girl?' (At this point I'm thinking, "All those boys? There are only three!" but I digress...) so, here I am, calling you. Would you like the LEGOs?
Me: SURE! Can we pick them up on Monday?
Caller: Absolutely. I'll pass the word to Dr. V-- to bring them in.

Hubby went with me to pick up the LEGOs. Can I just say, "WOW!" It took two nurses to carry the box!

The boys were thrilled - thrilled! - at all the new LEGOs. Lots of minifigures, base plates, and motorized kits. Aren't we lucky? (And you can bet that Adam's language arts assignment the next day was writing a nice thank-you note to his doctor!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wags trip, week of 9/27-10/3

Out of pocket = $29.49 + tax
Saved = $205.97

I shopped at three different stores, so I didn't clean any one store out - because that's just rude. So here's what we got:
18 Chapstick *
18 Halls cough drops *
9 Herbal Essence mousse *
4 Herbal Essence shampoo *
4 Herbal Essence conditioner *
2 Fusion razors **
2 packages of Emergen-C *
2 Vaseline lotions **
1 package Dentek floss picks
Fillers (to bring transactions positive - Wags doesn't give back overages):
2 combs
5 Bazooka gum
2 Kit-Kats
1 package yogurt-covered raisins
3 Halloween plastic cups
1 Mentos
3 Trident (expensive way to keep kids busy while ringing up 20+ transactions)
19 pencils

* = free after Register Rewards + coupons
** = money maker

The stockpile is replenished, not that it was really wanting. : D
Now I'm on the hunt for free deodorant. We're down to about 9 in the stockpile.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

They grow up so fast...

They grow up so fast. *sigh*

Adam and Luke mastered riding without training wheels this week. (Adam was finally motivated by watching his brother do it. Now he loves his bike, instead of having to be dragged outdoors to have fun.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trio of tips

See the frugality in the above picture? No? Well, look closer:

1. Unplug appliances when not in use! You can see the "unplugged" plug of my kitchen radio/CD player. Do I really need it to be plugged in all the time? Of course not. Why not pull the plug, so that I'm not paying for the digital clock to be on? (After all, I have multiple clocks in my kitchen already. Who needs one more?)

2. As a mom, I love portable snacks. But buying individual sized everything gets expensive. One of my solutions is to buy ONE package of individual servings, and refill the containers. In this case, raisins. I reuse my little boxes, refilling them from the big container. This reduces my per-ounce cost, but I still get the advantage of portability.

3. Canning - okay, sure, not rocket science there. But I preserve my own garden produce (in this picture, yummy salsa), and I got my canning jars for free by asking around. Put the word out when you're on the hunt for something. You never know when someone will be glad to pass their junk (your treasure) on to you!

Check out more thrifty tips at Life as Mom.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Haircut

Preschooler + scissors + sister with pigtails = very angry mommy

Joey thought it would be a good idea to cut Grace's hair. I was not pleased.

Neither was Gracie, when I took her to the kiddie salon for the "fix."

No, not even the balloon made her happy.

Now she has a funky (and not in a good way) looking shag 'do. I guess I should be thankful that it's not Christmas or Easter picture time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Say hello...

To my little friend! This praying mantis has been hanging out on my clothesline for about 3 days. Hubby got a picture of him, perched on a clothespin. (The mantis was perched. Not Hubby.)

I have put him down in the garden several times - mantises (mantii?) are supposed to be helpful insects, eating the "bad" garden bugs. But my little friend won't stay put. He likes the clothesline. Who am I to argue? Maybe some nasty little bugs are trying to make off with my capri pants...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Taste of pioneer life

This picture was taken yesterday, when we lost power due to some wicked thunderstorms. I feel like I should read Little House on the Prairie to the kids, now. We needed the camping lantern just to see our lunch! (We had just gotten home from the library, so the kids were gathered around the lantern reading books and eating peanuts while I made our no-cook lunch.)

Walgreens & CVS this week

Total spent = $8.61
Total saved = $63.68

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Before & After

Stockpile, before:

And after:

Tomatos, before:

And after:

The garden, before:

And after:

Bread, before:

And after: (see? They are dark!)

So even though I am on an endless gerbil wheel of laundry, dishes, housekeeping, and child-herding, I am making progress.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You win some, and you lose some

I bought some yummy Starbucks frappuccinos at Walgreens this past week, courtesy of a sale + coupons. After I drank my first frap, I noticed how pretty the bottle is. See?

It looks like a miniature old-fashioned milk jug. I wanted to keep it, because it's pretty. But I wanted to USE it, not just keep it around, taking up space. I tried putting pens in it, but the mouth is too narrow, and the glass is too tall. Jelly jars work better for pen storage. Then I tried using it as a vase for a couple of flowers:

Fuzzy picture and my poor photographic skills notwithstanding, that didn't work, either. So I have three of these little bottles hanging out in my stockpile space, waiting for a use. Ideas?

Joey's shoes

Just here to post some pictures of Joey's shoes. They're ugly. And he loves them.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Waste not, want not

My children will not eat the heels of a loaf of bread. Occasionally I get creative when making PB&J, and I face the heel inward, tricking the little monsters into eating their sandwiches. But those little people are crafty, and I'm afraid they'll catch on to my scheme, so I have taken to collecting bread heels in my freezer. I can't bear to throw perfectly good food away. (And because I know you're going to ask, I don't eat sandwiches at lunch, I eat leftovers. No heels for me, either.)

Eventually, all this saving leads me here (and keep in mind this is about half of what I had in the freezer):

What to do? Hubby gave me the idea of making croutons! (Forgive the picture below. I was holding a wiggly toddler.) I stacked my heels about 2 or 3 high on a cutting board, and sliced through them with a pizza cutter, making crouton-sized squares. Then I spread out the croutons on a wire rack and let them get a little hard & stale. (That's an important step, if you like crunchy croutons!) I had to wait a couple of hours.

Next, I put the stale bread cubes in a bowl, poured some free (after sale & coupons) dressing on them, lidded the bowl, and shook like mad! (The kids got a kick out of that!)

After putting my cubes on a cookie sheet, I baked them in the oven at 350 for about 10-12 minutes, opening the oven a couple of times to turn the cubes, preventing burning. After letting them cool, I stored them in an airtight (garage sale find) container. Now I have "free" croutons to go with my garden cukes and tomatos that are coming in right now. I confess that I was a little puzzled about the color of my croutons - they're darker than the store-bought kind. But then I slapped my forehead - aha! - we only eat whole wheat bread! Of course my croutons are darker!

Below, you can see Joey holding the freezer bag full of bread crumbs we made from the other half of the heels. I just threw the rest of my bread in a food processor and gave it a quick buzz. "Free" breading for recipes!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

A new point of view

I wanted to share a picture that Adam took on Banana Bread Morning. It's of a tiny shelf above our kitchen sink, that holds a statue of the Blessed Virgin and a couple of holy cards. You never know what your children notice in your household... things that you may take for granted. Things you may see so often that you don't really notice anymore.

It's a little reminder to me to guard my thoughts lest they become words that I'd rather my children didn't hear. If I want to cultivate good virtues in my children, I must first master them in myself. Patience, kindness, meekness, humility.

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time there was a thrifty mom who thought, instead of composting or throwing away her over-ripe bananas, it would be a good idea to make banana bread out of them. Since it was a nice day outside, and there was no need for air conditioning, she thought it was a splendid undertaking, and set out, immediately, to, well, undertake it!

As she pulled out ingredients for her yummy treat, her children, being the bloodhounds that they are, discovered what fun their mother was about to have in the kitchen, and decided that they, too must be a part! So their mother, having nothing but warm and loving feelings for her children, and knowing that they were culinary geniuses who never make kitchen messes, welcomed their help without reservation.

And then I woke up.

It is a struggle for me to watch a mess being made. Don't get me wrong - I have no trouble cooking or baking with one child. That's (pun intended) a piece of cake. But when all four help at the same time - I really have to turn my patience on to full. But I take a deep breath and remind myself that we're creating more than banana bread - we're creating memories. Whew. Okay. I can do this!

Look at the pride on Luke's face as he helps teach his sister how to stir! How could I squash that? His pride is much more important to me than a little spilled flour.

Look at Gracie being a "big girl" and getting the bread pan for Mommy! (No, safety police, the oven and stovetop are NOT on. Good grief, give me some credit, would ya?)

I won't tell you how many times the little stirring hands dropped the spoon in the batter, or how many times I fished it out.

I had to find jobs for everyone, of course. Joey mashed bananas and used the butter wrappers to grease the baking pans.

And Adam took the pictures. I think he did a pretty good job. At least as good as I would have done! (No, we don't always bake shirtless.)

Voila! Two ready-to-bake loaves of banana bread. I would love to show you the finished product, but if I had paused to take a picture before slicing, my children would have eaten my arm.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I scream, you scream...

Sweetie, your Daddy may be able to fix anything, but you'll need a stain stick for that shirt.


We braved the very wet weather (which, this week, turned to very hot weather) to go camping. Cheap vacation!

Here is Hubby setting up the tent that we call The Habitrail. We got it a few years ago, and it's been a great investment. It consists of one, large central tent connected by tubes to two smaller auxiliary tents. The boys sleep in one small tent, we stow our gear in one small tent, and Hubby, Gracie, and I sleep in the big tent on an air mattress.

This is the only hike we took over the weekend. I should mention here that the state park in which we camped only had one hiking trail. Boo, hiss! But isn't the covered bridge cool?

Here is Adam, during one of the few times he wasn't whining during the weekend. Notice in the background the Rubbermaid totes into which our "neighbors" had packed all of their camping gear. Can you see the labels on the totes? Be still my heart! Hubby spent the weekend coveting their speedboat, and I spent the weekend coveting their Rubbermaid totes!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Garage sale scores!

Today I hit a great neighborhood garage sale and scored! I'm sorry that I have no pictures to share, but I had to put all the clothes away before the kids scattered them all, and of course, the toys are now strewn about the boys' room.

I took $20 from the ATM this morning, and came home with $3. Here is a list of what I bought with my $17:

  • 6 long-sleeved shirts for Luke
  • 2 short-sleeved tees for Adam
  • 1 long-sleeved tee for Adam
  • 1 pair of shorts for Adam
  • 2 heavy sweatshirts for Adam
  • 1 stocking cap (winter) for Luke
  • 1 sweater for me
  • 1 shirt for me
  • 2 Rescue Hero action figures
  • a bucket of Magnetix action figures
  • a tub of Legos
  • 6 bangle bracelets for Gracie
  • 2 play sheilds
  • 2 play swords
  • 3 books for Adam
  • 2 Transformer action figures
  • 1 wire basket for my bathroom
  • 1 winter coat for Adam
  • 1 Bullseye and Woody toy for Luke
  • 1 big Magna-Doodle
I think I did pretty well, don't you? I still wish I would've picked up that Easy Bake oven for $2, though...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer's here

Summer is here, but has been so darn RAINY that we haven't gotten to do much outside. But we're making the best of things. 

We signed up for the summer reading program at our library. 

Peaches are in season (ie, cheap) and I picked some up at the grocery. See the yummy peach cobbler?

And we finally got the garden in the ground.  (See how wet it is? I need an ark!)