Saturday, January 31, 2009

A little drawing from Luke

Luke and Adam love to draw. Their favorite subjects are Lego mini figures and Star Wars characters. Here is Luke's latest creation: 

Do you get who it is? He spelled the first name on his own, and asked my help for the last name. What an artiste!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Finally! Real snow!

I am just GIDDY about this snow! Sure, I can't get my car out of the garage, but the snow is just beautiful. Here are some pics of the kids enjoying themselves. We've been making a lot of snow angels (okay, not really, because the snow is a bit too deep for that), and drinking our fair share of hot chocolate. Enjoy the pictures! 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Trio of (frugal) tips

Why do people buy chip clips at the grocery store? At my store, I can buy three chip clips for $2. Or I can buy a bag of 50 clothespins for $2. Sure, I have to actually fold my bag down twice before putting a clothespin on my bag to close it, but I think the savings is worth it. 

This is a little bread tab, that keeps bread fresh. I save many of mine. Recently, Hubby reconfigured all the wires behind our entertainment center, and he used our tabs to label the cords (DVD, TV, etc.) It made it much easier to keep tabs (pun intended) on what each cord was for! 

I saw the cutest little bath toy holder at Target last year: it's a frog, made of plastic. When cleaning up after a bath, a parent can just scoop with this big frog and pick up all the bath toys, where they can drip-dry until needed next time. Personally, I don't need a $30 frog just to hold some squirty ducks and a few cups and squirt bottles. I just used a mesh bag from a bag of oranges. (Ahem. You'll note the free shampoos & conditioner in the photo. Can you believe people actually pay for shampoo?! I love coupons!) 

So, what little frugal tips do you have for me?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Two little things...

This is something I never did with my first child. But hey, it was her birthday, and I needed to do the dishes. I didn't have time to pick out matching pants, so she's wearing yellow with pink. By the time you're on your fourth child, you kinda chill out about your kids being in perfectly matched clothes all the time. (You thought I was talking about the frosting, didn't you?) 

Yes, that's a hospital bracelet on Joey's wrist. He went to bed, like normal, at about 8:30. At 10:30, he was awake and SCREAMING; his belly was distended, he couldn't sit or bend. Hubby and I tried to console him, but to no avail. We called our ped's after-hours line, and they advised us to take Joey to the ER, based on his abdominal distention. By midnight, we were in triage, and by the time we saw a doctor at 2am, Joey was fine, all on his own. He just needed to pass a little (a lot of) gas. 

The moral of my story? Kids will humble you. Just when you think you have all the answers and you've got a pretty good bead on things, they throw you a curve ball. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pride goeth before the flu...

Remember in my clothesline post, when I said I rarely get truly behind on laundry? Well, I've been playing catch-up, because a nasty stomach bug is making its way through my house. I've been washing a LOT of bedding, pajamas, and towels. (Oh, and kitchen rugs. Yuck.) Luke had it, then Joey, now Adam has it. (I suspect Gracie has a touch of it, but she's not had quite the same symptoms as the boys. I'll spare you the details.) 

This is really NOT the best week for this to happen, as we're just getting back into school after Christmas Break, and Hubby is interviewing for jobs, studying for his networking certification, and working part-time waiting tables. (Is there ever really a good week for flu?) I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed, and I just want our days to settle into a predictable pattern again. Oh well - at least the pantry is stocked from all my recent uber-couponing. 

Normally, our days have a routine. The boys and I are comfortable with it, and it helps keep things running smoothly. The older two boys have their chores, I have mine, we know generally how the day is going to progress. For myself, I have a schedule in my head of what housework gets done on what day, so I'm not running around trying to clean the entire house in one day. It works like this: Monday - kitchen, Tuesday - bathroom, Wednesday - living room, Thursday - bathroom, Friday - bedrooms, Saturday - bathroom. Yes, I clean my ONE bathroom three times a week. I have three boys, remember? 

Laundry is done every day. Luke throws it downstairs, and I sort it into baskets. I know the size of my "sorting" baskets: each basket is equal to one load of laundry. When a basket is full, its contents get thrown in the wash. As per my frugal nature, I only wash full loads. I usually do 2 or 3 loads a day, which is about all my clotheslines can handle. Each load is hung, and when clothes dry, they are folded and put into a basket, dependent on which room they're going in. When the clean-clothes basket is full, I put that basket (room) of laundry away. (So I don't put laundry away every day.) Luke's other chore is folding napkins and kitchen towels, and putting them away. 

Adam vacuums every day. Our house is mostly hardwoods, but we do have area rugs and a German Shepherd. So vacuuming our little space is important. I also bring all our socks to Adam to match and put away. Holey socks go to the rag box, which is used to clean up unmentionable messes (we've used a lot of those this week); unmatched socks go to the mismatch box, where they await their long lost mates! About once every two weeks, we take out the mismatch box and match up socks that have turned up. It's a system that works for us. 

That's a little peek into our housekeeping routine around here. It keeps things running smoothly in our little space. I just wish this stomach bug would pass so that I can get back to my routine! Bleh! 

Monday, January 5, 2009

Novena to St. Joseph

I found this novena over at Catholic Fire. If you'd like to join me, I'll be starting tomorrow. 

Prayer to St. Joseph for Workers

Joseph, by the work of your hands and the sweat of your brow, you supported Jesus and Mary, and had the Son of God as your fellow worker. Teach me to work as you did, with patience and perseverance, for God and for those whom God has given me to support. Teach me to see in my fellow workers the Christ who desires to be in them, that I may always be charitable and forbearing towards all. Grant me to look upon work with the eyes of faith, so that I shall recognize in it my share in God's own creative activity and in Christ's work of our redemption, and so take pride in it. When it is pleasant and productive, remind me to give thanks to God for it. And when it is burdensome, teach me to offer it to God, in reparation for my sins and the sins of the world. 

O good father Joseph! I beg you, by all your sufferings, sorrows, and joys, to obtain for me what I ask: for profitable, steady work for Loni's husband, so that he can support his family and provide for their needs. 

Obtain for all those who have asked for my prayers, everything that is useful to them in the plan of God. Be near to me in my last moments, that I may eternally sing the praises of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Amen. 

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be) 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A rainy Sunday

And here's what we did with our afternoon. The boys (Hubby included) got out the Legos and built a starship. We *heart* Legos! 

My Walgreens score

Here's what I got today at Walgreens: 
3 Garnier Fructis shampoos
3 Garnier Fructis conditioners
2 boxes Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil
2 Christmas potholders
3 packages gift tags
1 package ornament hooks
1 package toothbrush travel cases
1 barrette
1 bottle of Softsoap handsoap
1 bottle Palmolive dishwashing liquid
3 packages of pencil erasers

Total purchases, before coupons = $52.09
Total purchases, after coupons = $2.96

Do you really need me to convince you to start couponing? 

Friday, January 2, 2009

The lesson I'm learning

Hubby's still without the perfect job: the one that has affordable benefits for all of us, the one that has predictable hours and a predictable paycheck. It's been nearly 6 months. And it's been hard.

I keep telling myself that there's a lesson to be learned here, and that I'm missing it. Maybe it's my own need to do something that makes me feel like I need to be learning a lesson. It's been hard for me to not be in control, or at least have some sense of control, of our economic future. Yes, we still have an income; yes, we're making ends meet; yes, I'm exercising every frugal muscle I have (even if I have made a few stupid mistakes here & there.) But it's the lack of security that's wearing on me. It's the "not knowing" that wakes me up at 2am. Sorry, I'm rambling.

The lessons that I am learning are not easy, at least for me. I'm learning to trust. God has provided for us. Our pantry is stocked. The bills are paid. We're not behind (yet) on anything. Who was it that said that fear is the opposite of love? That phrase seems to be popping up everywhere in front of me these days. (That was for You, God. You can cut it out, now.) So I'm trying, trying, to trust. And for a super-mega-ultra control freak like me, that's unbelievably hard. But I'm trying.

I've learned to accept help. Again, that's hard. Meals, money, job leads, a car to use, an shoulder to cry on (thanks Fr. Pondo!)- all hard for me to accept. I'm a very guarded person. I don't like to be vulnerable in any way. I am very comfortable in my emotional armor, and I like being an island unto myself. So for me to accept help from people is monumental. (And for those of you who have helped, please know how much I appreciate your kindness! I am so thankful for all of you!)

So there you have it. My heart on my sleeve. Send up a prayer or two for me if you can spare them. Hubby has a couple of job leads for positions that would start at the end of January (yes, God, it's hilarious that you're trying to teach me patience now, too!) so I think that I'll be starting a novena to St. Joseph the Worker, soon. Maybe I'll post it, and if you want to join in, you can.