Tuesday, December 7, 2010

CnC: Thrifty Christmas

I asked a while ago if you like what I blog about or want me to blog about other things.  Someone specifically asked for Christmas ideas.

Let's see what I can come up with...

Baked Goodies.  Anything special from your kitchen will go over very well. 
  • From my kitchen, I'll be serving up some White Chocolate Fudge.  Personally, I spring for Trader Joe's Mint Jo Jos to put in there. 
  • I also like to make Homemade Marshmallows and Hot Chocolate.  I use a snowflake shaped cookie cutter to make my marshmallows extra special. 
  • I have a couple of special cookie recipes too:  Bailey's Chocolate Chip Cookies, Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate Chips and Craisins (or Cherry Craisins), Sugar Cookies with a pinch of nutmeg finished with a glaze made with rum extract makes plain sugar cookies taste like Egg Nog.   
  • I like to give my Nanny's Fruitcake as a gift too.  The recipe is a family secret. 
Crafty Goodies.  I tried doing a few things last year and I found that I don't have the space and the patience to make things as nice as I'd like, but here are a couple of ideas...
  • Marble Magnets are useful and thoughtful.
  • T-Shirt Bags made from t-shirts purcheased Goodwill for $2 or less are fun and creative.  I found that duct tape can be expensive.  I even bought iron-on vinyl to line them and make them water proof. 
  • Covered Journals - I take plain composition books and cover them with scrapbooking paper.  If you're like me and bought composition books in August or September when they were on sale with school supplies and you use left over scrapbooking materials, this could cost less than $1. 
  • Personal Care Items - You can make cleansers and scrubs and such with stuff that is already in your kitchen.  This website has some great ideas. 
Cheap Goodies.  This year, I'm clipping coupons and picking out some inexpensive stuff...
  • For kids: Free Travel Games are always fun and inexpensive, little girls would like Crayola Pixies stuff, and you can't go wrong with Lifesaver Story Books are on sale at Target for $2.33 and you can print coupons.  Print them twice and get 6 gifts for $8!
  • For adults:  Find a few coupon blogs you like and watch for deals on things like razors and chocolate.  I find The Krazy Coupon Lady's website easy to use.  There are tabs for stores you might be looking for.  This week, you can get free Snickers Nutcrackers at Walgreeens and 99 cent Hersheys Pot of Gold boxes at RiteAid.  Last week, I picked up two free razor sets.
  • For fun:  Nail polish and eye shaddow is almost always Buy One Get Second for 50% off or something.  You can use coupons on both items so you can get some fun feminine stuff in case Mommy's stocking is "overlooked" by "Santa". 
At the end of the day, we give gifts because the Greatest Gift, Jesus - God's own Son, was given to us.  It's not a competition for the biggest and the best.  So I think it really is the thought that counts.  That being said, presentation can make an inexpensive gift much more thoughtful... at least you took the time to make it pretty.  I like to make up pretty little gift boxes or bags or baskets with personal touches or an ornament. Find cute “fillers” (tea towels, candles, coffee mugs, etc..) at the Dollar Store or at drug stores like Walgreens and RiteAid.  I try to make up a few extras as hostess gifts or exchangables or teacher gifts.

At preschool alone, Seth has three teachers in the classroom, one administrator, and one speech therapist; he also has a second speech therapist.  Each kiddo is in a different class at MOPS that have at least three workers.   At minimum, I have to come up with EIGHTEEN teacher gifts.  At the rate I'm going,  And I really would like to be able to gather up enough stuff for the Garbage Men and our Mail Carrier.  We also have three sets of siblings and spouses, seven and a half nieces, three nephews, four parents, and one grandparent.  We have to be creative ... and it has to be small enough to fit in a USPS Flat Rate Box

"But CnC, how do you have the time and energy?"
"Fret not, Dear Reader, I don't.  I use artifical stimulants like caffeine and sugar to multiply my time."

.

Friday, December 3, 2010

RANT: Healthcare

This is such a controversial topic that I really don't want to get into it too deep. 

We lost our Health Insurance when my husband was laid off in 2008.  We took the gamble that as healthy young(ish) adults we would not need health insurance.  We opted to pay out of pocket for any services we may need.  (Don't even get me started on how much cheaper it is to use a midwife and a birthcenter instead of a doctor and a hospital.)  And today, I needed to go to the doctor... for the first time in 3+ years (other than maternity stuff). 

How do you decide where to go when you don't have a list of doctors set forth by your insurance?  Personally, I went to the doctor I went to before bcause they have a cash discount.  I got a 33% discount because I paid cash (or they take credit) on the day of service.  Yes, I even use coupons at the doctor's office.

Now, I have a prescription in my hot little hand.  Because I'm the one paying, I searched Wal-Mart's $4 generic list.  Nope.  I searched Target's $4 generic list.  Nope.  I searched Walgreen's $10 generic list.  Nope.  I searched RiteAid's $9 generic list.  Voila.  I already love RiteAid and the rockin' deals I got today so this is not so difficult.  I'll probably go ahead and get 90 days for $16... yep, another $11 coupon without clipping a thing.  I just wish they had one of their $25 new prescription coupons right now.  Shucks.

When I had insurance, I didn't think twice about it brand name meds were $15, generics were $10.  I think I was part of the healthcare problem.   
  • Do you think about how your healthcare dollars are spent? 
  • Would it benefit your family to pocket your employer's contribution and purchase a higher deductible plan on your own and just pay cash for simple office visits (out of FSA funds, even)?
  • Would the cost of healthcare decrease if there was competition?  (Dr A gives a 33% discount, Dr B doesn't, etc...)
Once the dust settles and our elected officials come up with a better plan... one that wouldn't fine my family $2400 for two uninsured adults, we'll buy catastrophic insurance with a high deductible for the whole crew.  One that covers annual checkups and well-child schtuff with little or no out of pocket cost to us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time

The best reward of being a Stay at Home Mom is the tabula rasa that is our children.  They are blank slates when it comes to Christmas (and other holiday) traditions.  That means, I am their primary source of information and all things wonderful about Christmas (Kyle too, but he's working). 

My mom often confesses that she wasn't very intentional with us as children.  It's not like I hold that against her.  Hardly!  I have very fond memories of Christmas morning and beautiful trees and making wrapping paper from potatoes and ink stamps.  I still love Pillsbury's Orange Icing cinnamon rolls from a can (I have 4 of them in my fridge right now), and The Night Before Christmas is on the reading list for the night before Christmas. 

But it's my turn now and I'd like to add some new traditions.  One tradition we never participated in as a family (or if we did, I don't remember it) was the Advent Calendar.   We started this last year at our house and I love it!  As the Wikipedia article states there's really no right or wrong way to do it: light candles, eat candy, read a story, whatever!  I have envelopes numbered 1 to 24 and each day we do a Christmas-centered activity.  We can make cookies, go to a tree lighting, celebrate Grandma and Grandpa's arrival, celebrate Nana's arrival, make Fruit Loop garland, etc...  I have a friend who just made her Advent Calendar out of favor boxes and she put small toys and chocolate in them.  Beautiful!  I might steal that for next year.
Oh!  I think I'll give the kids their Christmas PJ's now so we can wear them as much as possible.  I just hope they don't expect to wear them every night.  I can't guarantee that the laundry will always be caught up.   
Additionally... last year, after Christmas our neighbor gave us 3 store-bought Advent Calendars.  They were 1 cent each at Trader Joe's and they don't expire until February 2011!  So guess what!  I just put them in the Christmas storage box and brought them out with all of the other goodies. 
Mental note:  Go buy advent calendars after Christmas at Trader Joe's.  Double check the expiration.
Here's my plan this year:  each day once they all wake up from naps, we will open our calendar of chocolate and read part of the Christmas story from Luke or a book about Christmas.  Then, we'll open our Activity Advent and do our Christmas activity.  Today, I think we'll color Christmas pictures (since I don't think I can wrap their PJs before they wake up from naps).  Tomorrow, we might make coffee filter snowflakes or sugar cookies.  Saturday, there's a parade in Enumclaw 10 minutes from our house and a snow park.  You get the idea.




I do still have my Activity Advent Calendar from last year.   I made envelopes (more or less like this)from pretty paper that I got from my very own Stampin' Up rep, Cynthia Maloney.  I totally cheat and do whatever activity I'm in the mood for.  I put the slip of paper in while they're sleeping (shhh don't tell them).  I'm in the process of making a list so that I'm sure to have something to do each day. 

My hope is that they will have fond childhood memories as I do.  Life gets so unnecessarily busy and we all get so easily distracted.  Maybe my children will remember The Most Wonderful Time of the Year AND the reason for it, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, AND making edible garland ... more than they remember frustrating trips to the grocery store and nap time wars.  I hope this is the stuff I remember about them being little not so much the mounds of laundry, constant exhaustion, and crumbs everywhere.

Friday, November 26, 2010

CnC: Tales from the Black

... Black Friday, that is.

You know I can't miss a bargain.  It's physically painful for me to resist a smokin' hot deal.  But I used tremendous self control, people.  It's a fun story...

Thanksgiving Night...
7:30 pm: We returned home from a delightful evening with friends and put the kids in bed
8:30 pm: I got on my computer to check my Couponaire FB Pals, lo and behold, Coupon Connections NW (probably my favorite coupon blogger because she's always posting something and she has this chat feature I've used several times) had posted that Safeway had a deal on gift cards.  BRILLIANT!  Spend $150 on gift cards and receive $15 OYNO (on your next order).  Since a $300 TV from Target was at the top of my list, I decided to do 2 - $150 gift card transactions and I received 2 - $15 off my next $50 purchase at Safeway.  SWEET!  I earned 10% on my TV before I even got it. 
9:00 pm: Gift card purchase at Safeway transaction one, no problem.
9:01 pm: Gift card purchase at Safeway transaction two, problem.
9:02 pm: Angry Shopper calls husband to complain.  Husband does not answer... goes straight to voice mail.
9:10 pm: Angry Shopper arrives home and Husband immediately sees displeasure from Angry Shopper and doesn't even have to ask.  Husband promptly did payroll... as a small business owner, payroll = transfer from one account to another at the same bank.  It's instant.  It's beautiful.  It was a minor oversight.
9:30 pm: Make a list.  Check it twice.  Double check all sales just in case morning goes well and Angry Shopper (now Too Excited to Sleep Shopper) can hit more than one store.  Find TV on the store map so I can get in, get it, and get out.
10:30 pm: Set coffee pot to start at 2:45am.  Set alarm to go off at 3am for 3:15am departure.
11:00 pm: Ready-to-Sleep Shopper and Husband retire for the evening.
11:15 pm: Baby awakes, clearly disrespecting Just-Fallen-Asleep Shopper.  "Doesn't he know I only get 4 hours of sleep tonight?" 
11:45 pm: Sleeping Shopper is peacefully dreaming of long lines and friendly chat.

Black Friday Morning...
2:50 am: Groggy Shopper's eyes are open.  It's time to shop.
3:00 am: Alarm goes off but Dressed-and-Ready (with previous day's make-up) Shopper is already pouring coffee.
3:05 am:  Departure.
3:30 am:  Arrive at Safeway to purchase second set of $150 Target gift cards.  Success.  Friendly chat with cashier who can tell Wide-Eyed Shopper is crazy.
3:35 am:  Arrive at Target parking lot.  Geared-Up Shopper is surprised to see that there are parking places in the parking lot. 
3:36 am:  Geared-Up Shopper finds the end of the line... the full length of the front of the store and starting to wrap around the side.  By the time the doors opened, there were over 300 people waiting to get in.
4:01 am:  The front of the store finally in sight and there are still shopping carts available.  Elbows out, Geared-Up Shopper is comin' through.
4:01:30 am:  The 40" Westinghouse TV for $289 is GONE.
4:02 am:  Low Blood Sugar Shopper said to employee in red, "The ad should note if there are only going to be 25 TVs at that price.  I bought gift cards, what am I supposed to do now?"  Cart abandoned.
4:05 am:  Pissy Shopper headed to Home section for $3 hand mixer (because Betty Crocker-wannabe's smells funny when I use it).
4:06 am:  Pissy Shopper decides to abandon hand mixer because the line is too long because Wal-Mart might be a more profitable venture.
4:07 am:  Pissy Shopper saw red-shirted manager near the entrance.  I explained that I had purchased gift cards and Safeway won't take them back.  Since they ran out of my TV in less than 10 minutes, could Target refund my gift card money?  She said, "No.  But let me see if we have a substitute."
4:07 am:  Mindy, my Black Friday Angel, radioed to the back and found FIVE more 40" Westinghouse TVs.  She led me to the back and then helped me carry my new TV to the front of the store. 
4:10 am:  Mindy, my Angel, even showed me that the pharmacy had checkers and I didn't have to stand in line for all of eternity.
4:12 am:  Elated Shopper realized that my abandoned hand mixer was only 20 yards away (straight shot, no obstructions) and I asked Coveting Shopper to watch my TV while I went to get it.  She did.
4:16 am:  Pharmacy Checker rang up my purchase and gave me my $10 gift card... not one, not two, but three gift cards!!!  Super Elated Shopper thought that the $10 gift card with $100 purchase was only on the first $100... imagine my joy!?!?!  With my $30 at Safeway and my $30 at Target, that's 20% back on my purchase!
4:20 am:  Super Elated Shopper drags TV (remember, I abandoned my cart) to the front of the store to wait for a cart to come free.
4:25 am:  Super Helpful Employee #... I-lost-count helped me load my TV on a flatbed cart and take it to my car parked in Timbuktu AND load it.
4:26 am:  Super Elated Shopper vows to be a lifetime Target shopper.  LOVE Target and Friendly Employees.  They kept referring to me as a Guest.  LOVE Target.

Black Friday Continued...
(ending there would've been fun and fine... but why stop when you're ahead?)
4:35 am:  Super Elated Shopper realizes that WalMart list is a possibility.  WalMart opened at midnight for non-electronic purchases.  The mad rush was hours ago and the electronic rush doesn't begin for another 25 minutes.  Since Target and WalMart are in close proximity... let's do this... again.
4:37 am:  Super Elated Shopper found a parking place within sight of the front door. 
4:44 am:  Super Elated Shopper already found main item  - a stylish, black, $10 crockpot to replace my orange flowery 1975 crockpot.  Realizing that the lines are nonexistent at the front, I went to purchase the other items on my list... where is my list?  List is nowhere to be found.  Wander Shopper finds red boxes to pilfer through.  Slippers $3.50 - yes!  DVD $1.88 - yes! 
4:55 am:  Wander Shopper walked straight to the front of the line, checked out and barely escaped with my life before the 5am electronics rush.
4:57 am:  Powerful Shopper arrives at Fred Meyer for ESSENTIAL $39 wall-mount mechanism for new TV. 
5:00 am:  Powerful Shopper thought the doors opened at 6 am and I would get a good nap, but NO... I can be home before the kids wake up.
5:05 am:  Powerful Shopper found wall-mount mechanism, but got trapped in electronics because the aisles were too small for cart. 
5:06 am:  Mildly Frustrated Shopper abandoned cart and carried heavy wall-mount mechanism out of electronics to continue shopping.
5:08 am:  Oooh, half price socks.
5:20 am:  Shopper-With-Sore-Arms found another cart.
5:30 am:  Conquerer Shopper leaves Fred Meyer with stocking stuffers, 1/2 price socks, a pair of shoes, and wall-mount.  I am Shopper, hear me ... unsnap my wallet.
5:35 am:  Satisfied Overspender heads home and sees 24 hour breakfast establishments full of patrons and daydreams about the day when daughters will be required to go shopping with CnC followed by a high-protein, high-fat breakfast.  "Elbows out girls, this ain't no tea party."
6:05 am:  Satisfied Overspender hides the goods while everyone is still snug in their beds... I had too much coffee to go back to bed and I like to blog. 

Had I not bought the gift cards at Safeway, I wouldn't have asked the manager what to do.  It all worked out in the end.  Is it possible that God had His hand in my little shopping adventure?  Why not?  His eye is on the sparrow.

The End
(except that I will be going to Walgreen's sometime today to buy wrapping paper.  Buy one, get two.)

"Wait, CnC, you bought something impulsively?"
"No, Dear Reader, I did not.  It's called embellishment.  I am not an impulsive buyer.  Only one item was not on my list (I think), the shoes."

Friday, November 12, 2010

CnC: Dinner for dimes...

Last week at Albertson's they had 93/7 Ground Turkey BOGO.  I got two 20 oz packages for $4.99. 

A few months ago, I bought canned black beans for 50 cents (Fred Meyer has this price regularly).

I also found canned roasted tomatoes with garlic at Grocery Outlet  for 50 cents.

On Monday, I bought Imagine Chicken Broth at QFC for 50 cents (on sale with a coupon).


Today... I made this recipe for Turkey and Black Bean Chili.  Do you remember how I said to thin out the soup so you can feed more people?  I doubled the recipe on everything except the meat and I added chicken broth.   


borrowed picture: http://www.recipetips.com/recipe-cards/t--1727/turkey-and-black-bean-chili.asp

This huge pot of chili cost me around $7 (2.50 turkey + 1 beans + 2 tomatoes + .50 green chilies instead of green peppers + .50 broth + onions and spices*). 

Now, if this was just lunch, that's an expensive lunch.  However, this pot of chili will feed my family of 6 lunch today, dinner today, and there will still be leftovers to put in old peanut butter jars to go into the freezer for the next time we're sick and can't cook.  (And if we weren't still sick, we'd share some with the neighbors, or one of you, Dear Readers)  This is at least 4 meals for $7... that's $1.75 per meal or 35 cents per person per meal (since Joel doesn't really count).  Even on sale with a coupon, a "good" can of soup is 70 cents and doesn't taste nearly as good as what is simmering on my cooktop right now. 


*There are some odd spices in this one that make this chili particularly yummy.  I buy them at WinCo in bulk so they're cheaper than dirt (if you've ever priced silica sand you know what I mean ;) ). 

.

Monday, November 8, 2010

CNC: Look, honey, 80%!

Do not read this post if you have an addictive personality.

I went shopping this morning at QFC.  And you read right, I saved 80%.  No joke, boys and girls, I spent $43.62 but I SAVED $178.38... $125.98 in store savings and $52.40 in coupons.  Or, you could say that I spent $0.61 per item!!!

I could've done better, but I LOVE Tully's coffee and I like to have decaf around in the winter when I want coffee at 8pm with my 49 cent Milano cookies.

And, yes, I only paid 49 cents for Double Chocolate Milano Cookies...
that may or may not last the day.

I could go through the list of savings of every coupon I clipped and printed, but I'll spare you that boredom.  I'll tell you how I did it. 

  1. I had two windows open one for clipping one for printables. (I'm a serial multi-tasker.  I heart windows.) 
  2. I looked through the QFC circular and found items I use (not need right now, not items on my current meal plan, rather... items that I have used in the past and will likely use again, items I use in general).  Example: Pepperidge Farm Cookies. 
  3. I looked, there were coupons I could clip out of my 10-10-10 SS (that's October 10th Super Saver). 
  4. AND there are printable coupons on the Pepperidge Farm website. 
  5. I clipped. 
  6. I printed. 
  7. And I scoured the ad for more items I would use at my house...

Ronzoni Pasta... print (free - 50 cents)
Hormel... print and clip (25 cents ea).
Jello... clip (50 cents ea).
Reynolds... print (1.50 ea).
Pringles... clip (60 cents ea).
Imagine Broth... clip (50 cents ea). 

(those are final prices, not coupons, Dear Reader!!!)

You get the idea. I will never make another shopping list without doing this.  You don't even have to buy the newspaper (or dumpster dive like I do) to get clippable coupons when you've got The Krazy Coupon Lady's printable database and Hot Coupon World's *mostly* comprehensive database and then you can order coupons you need from a clipping service like Manufacturers Coupons. 

You may ask, "But, CnC, how do you find the time?"

Dear Reader, fret not, my children are fed and clothed, my bathroom is not *too* gross.  But I also make time to save my family money.  I sincerely want to be generous.  When I can buy four cans of chili for the same price I could buy one at regular price, I can buy my one and give the other three away without making a dent in my budget

I can help someone. 

But what if I cut my grocery budget in half and I can still give stuff away?  That's pretty cool. 

Besides, I'm a stay at home mom,
it's in my job description ;). 

.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Life's Rhythm

Life definitely has a rhythm, right?  Most of us have a daily routine... alarm goes off, hit snooze three times, get up, start the coffee, get the kids breakfast, husband off to work, play/clean/blog/facebook/school/errants, lunch, naps, play/clean/blog/facebook/dinner, husband comes home, dinner as a family, family time, kids go to bed, watch tv, and then go to bed.  We sleep (with and without interruptions) then we start all over again.

It's not too bad. 
It's relatively predictable. 
It's comfortable.


But what if life's rhythm has too many upbeats?  For non-musicians, this could sound like an okay proposition.  Upbeats are good, right?

Not exactly. 

For musicians and the musically inclined, please tell me you know what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about NO DOWNBEATS, nothing to follow, no place to catch up.  Have you ever tried to tap your foot with no down beats?  Not one. 

My life is as such.  There are no downbeats.  There is nothing predictable except the unpredictable. 
Sure, you can find comfort in the predictability of laundry.  There will be laundry and lots of it, but the unpredictability of whether or not it will get done AND folded AND put away is maddening... for me.  Even if it does get washed, dried, folded and put away... there's more within the hour.

There is predictability in the regular schedule of meals.  But then, you get one kiddo having a growth spurt and you reside in the kitchen for days shoveling carrots and peanut butter sandwiches into a bottomless pit.  Since that's not enough, you have to hide boxes of cereal and make fruit inaccessible so they don't scavenge when you're FBing or clipping coupons. 

There is predictability in schedules.  But having a schedule does not mean that getting small children dressed and out the door is fun.  And what if someone gets sick?  That halts and rearranges everything.  Suddenly, I'm wiping down doorknobs and washing sheets and pleading with God in Heaven that they all don't get the puke virus that leads to diarrhea. 

Throw in a down economy (upbeat), Holidays that make you homesick (upbeat), a season in life where meaningful friendships are harder to find (upbeat), and a house that's too small (upbeat).... I get twitchy.  I'm hard to live with.  My husband agrees. 

Upbeats do add variety to a piece of music.  It can be interesting and fun and surprising... but it will make you CRAZY if there isn't something that you can tap your foot to. 

Not having any downbeats in life is like...

an itchy tag all the time

constant white noise that is just a little bit too loud. 

an unlocatable stench somewhere in the refrigerator. 

the train has left the station and I'm running to catch up.

.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New Soap

I make foamy soap.  I bought foaming soap a long time ago... years ago at this point.  When it's empty, I put in about 1/2 inch of soap at the bottom and slowly fill the rest with water.  Then I replace the top and shake it until it's evenly dispersed. 

Then I wash my hands with light foamy soap.  I love foamy soap.

Do you know what I love more than foamy soap?  My NEW foamy soap that smells like cherry and vanilla.  It makes me happy when I wash my hands.  I smell my hands after I use it because I love it.  Because it's dilluted, it's not so strongly scented that I can smell it for hours, but for the 5 minutes after I wash my hands, I feel refreshed. 

If you're wondering where you, too, can buy cherry vanilla soap.  It's just Softsoap brand in a small container.  It was $1 each but I used a coupon too so I got it for $0.65.  I like it a lot. 

the end.
.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

RANT: On a Mission

I have a new mission in life to educate the uninformed.  The Couponus Ignoramous species is my top priority.

I am on this mission because of some comments received at QFC while I was "purchasing" some free hummus:
Snarky Cashier Lady (aka Couponus Ignoramous): "The coupon isn't working because people want stuff for free." 
Clara's Internal Running Commentary: "Au contraire, Missy Prissy, it ain't free.  I paid for those coupons... 8 cents each online!  This is 8 cent hummus, thank you very much plus shipping and sales tax."
Clara's Shoulda Coulda Woulda Response: "Actually, Ma'am, your employer will be reimbursed the face value of that coupon.  Manufacturers want me to try their product and I am doing just that." 
Clara's Actual Response (still good): "Usually the stores and manufacturers don't line up their sales so that I can get product for free, but it's my lucky day." 
The comments came from a cashier who, apparently, doesn't realize that RETAILERS ARE REIMBURSED BY THE MANUFACTURERS. 

It's true.  Manufacturer coupons tell the retailer exactly what to do.  Mail this coupon to this address and receive back the face value of the coupon and sometimes it's the face value PLUS a small handling fee of 8 cents, in most cases.  The resources spent mailing umpteen coupons to umpteen manufacturers is, I believe, a small price for retailers to pay for the privilege of a couponers presence in their store.  More stores would have more business from people like me and my fellow couponaires (that's Clara-ese for couponer extraordinaire) if they would just be nice.

After all, even couponers run out of milk and bread.  Even couponers fall prey to over priced impulse buys.

PS... CnC tells me that you can still order coupons from Manufacturers Coupons.  Today they're only 5 cents and they'll mail them tomorrow and you should have them by Tuesday so you can make it in to QFC to get your free-except-for-the-five-cent-coupon-you-ordered-online hummus.

.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Do you ever...?

look at the clock and realize, you haven't eaten in 4 hours (which is a huge feat since you're nursing)?

park in a fire zone because it's raining, and risking a ticket to walk only 20 yards in the rain with 4 small children rather than 100 yards in the rain with 4 small children seems reasonable? 

go to the bathroom and surmize that you probably haven't been in there since first thing in the morning because you haven't had time?

cook a meal and not have a chance to eat it?

cook two meals in the same day and not have a chance to eat either of them?

use earplugs so that "crying it out" doesn't make you "cry it out" too?

realize that the mailman didn't deliver today's grocery circulars because someone parked in front of your mail box and heaven forbid the mailman expend a little effort to do his job?

spend your time blogging rather than putting your kids back to bed for their naps?

Well... if you answered "YES" to any of these,
congratulations, you're a Mom.

If you answered "YES" to all of these,
and they all happened today,
join me in a muffled scream.

There... that's better.

.

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Enlightening Tale

Once upon a time, my husband replaced a lightbulb above my kitchen sink.  I'm not even sure how long it had been out, but the replacement of said bulb was very... illuminating.

We have a white cast iron sink.  It's lovely.  It's lovely in the dark.  It was quite frightening in the light.  Don't worry, Dear Reader, Comet cleaned it right up.  What Comet couldn't handle, an Oxygen Bleach (not Oxiclean, but the same stuff) soak took care of. 

I like powdered Comet.  My mom used it.  I use it.  I bought it on sale with a coupon at Walgreens a few weeks ago... a small can for only 50 cents.  I put one can under the sink in my bathroom, one can under the sink in my kitchen.  And when I grow up and get a bigger house, there will be a can of Comet near every sink and every toilet.  My children will know how to use it.  My sinks and toilets shall shine in the light. 

The moral of the story is: don't replace burned out light bulbs.   

The End.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Perpendicular Surfaces

I don't know about you, but I don't mind it when horizontal surfaces are dirty.  Floors are walked on, counters are placed upon, desks are cluttered, and even ledges collect dust.  That's normal.  That's okay. 

But how can dirt get on a Vertical Surface???

I am downright grossed out by vertical surfaces being dirty.  A dirty wall or door jam, window or screen... it MUST be cleaned.  Until it is clean, it is all I see. 

Today, the sun is shining.  Lo and behold... look at the walls around my dining room table.

The kitchen is put on hold. 

The laundry can wait.

The bathroom isn't that bad. 

However, the milk drops that ran down my walls... they shall die the death of a Woolite and water solution.  They shall be evicted. 

Child Lock

They put them on appliances for a reason.  My front loading washer is just a little too tempting to little fingers.  It's at eye-level and it makes a pretty dinging noise.  Plus, they're at the age they want to be helpful.  Unfortunately, when they push the buttons, I have to start the load all over again with new soap and everything not knowing where in the cycle it is. 

Please do not misunderstand.  I love my front loader.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  However, I can't seem to remember to put the child lock on. 



Did Korynne get in trouble for trying to put her accident soaked pants in the washing machine?  Well... No, of course not.  At our house, we try to make a distinction between childhood curiosity and childish mannerisms (buttons at eye level, a laptop left on the end table, spilled milk, water all over the bathroom, etc...) vs.  disobediance and defiance (fit throwing, destructive behavior, violence toward another child, "No", etc...).

Being willfully naughty is a punishable offence.  Being a precocious child is not. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Self-Discipline

It is NOT one of my strong suits.  There are, obviously, things that need to get done and things that I'd like to get done.

Twice in the last 5 days, my wonderful, charming, funny, handsome husband has cleaned my kitchen.  Once, he even cooked dinner.
Aside on MY Kitchen:  I call it my kitchen because it's HIS yard, my room, etc... Whoever is primarily responsible for it get's to use the personal pronoun.  It's also why they're HIS children... when they're misbehaving. 
Anyway, it bothers me that he did it.  Was I tired because I worked my tail off the rest of the day and just didn't get to it?  Or was I tired because I looked up 2 dozen coupon blogs and matched up my own coupon deals (lovin' Fred Meyer this week, btw)?  Or was I tired because I worked on silly Halloween costumes during naptime (they're so cute, though)? 

Chances are, I shouldn't be blogging.  I should be starting a load of laundry or cleaning the bathroom, I should be unloading the dishwasher or wiping off the table.  THEN, when I'm done, I can clip those coupons for FREE Kotex liners and Wet Ones.  Maybe knowing I have something free to look forward to will give me that extra little motivation!  Maybe... FREE can't wait!?!?!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

To or not to...?

You know you're special if you get it from me.  MOPS gets it.  Church on Sunday gets it.  If I see you in those settings, please be advised, not everyone gets it. 

But Fred Meyer, you are not worth the trouble.  Costco, you haven't got what it takes.  And Toddler Time... as if!?!?!

Play dates with friends don't even get it.  It's not that I don't love my friends whose children entertain and are entertained by my children.  I love my friends.  But, it's a lot of work to put it on and then take it off at night before bed.

My husband gets it... on special occasions.  Not on an average Tuesday, but special events or date night call for it.  He says I don't need it... so cute, so naive. 

There is one group of people though who may or may not get it.  You throw me for a loop, you working Moms and friends of mine without children.  You have it and so should I... I'm the weird one for leaving the house without it at all.  I don't want you to think that Stay at Home Moms let themselves go... we just prioritize things differently, that's all. 
So why would I do more for non-Moms and working Moms than Stay at Home Moms? 

Good question.

To or not to... MASCARA?  That, in case you were wondering, is the question.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Going Post..

partum.

It's like going Postal... which isn't funny considering what happened in Kentucky today.  Please forgive my irreverance.  But it can be serious.  A friend calls it, "Going Postpartum"... as if you go there on purpose.

But it happens to many of us... One in ten pregnancies end in PPD, to quote one statistic.  Chances are, if you know ten ladies who've had a baby, at least one of them has dealt with it to some extent.

This is not to be confused with Post Partum Blues.  Those first few weeks are a roller coaster.  Sleep deprivation is a huge contributing factor.  It's normal to be a little off your game after another human being emerges from your body.  I read that 50% of women deal with that. 

What I'm talking about though can last for months.  "They" say to talk to your doctor after two weeks of persistent symptoms.

Personally, I took medication after #2 arrived.  I was adjusting to life with a 13 month old non-walker and a newborn who didn't much like to sleep.  We had just purchased and renovated our 100 year old house, but we still had a long way to go.  We didn't have many friends living near our new home and no family nearby.  It was really hard.  We also had some marital issues.  Among other things, I was having pretty nasty panic attacks.  At about 4 months post partum, I got help.  I went on some antidepressants so I could get a handle on some of that.  It helped.  I do not regret it.  I came off the meds after #3 was conceived.
I also read that the symptomps peak around 3 or 4 months postpartum.  So a word to the wise: if it's bad at 1 month postpartum, if it's affecting relationships at 2 months postpartum, GET HELP... the storm hasn't even started yet. 

This is only the second time in four children that I've made it to six months post partum without being pregnant.  Let me tell you, I feel like a new woman.  I feel normal again... aside from PMS.  I can honestly say that 2 months ago, it was really really really hard.  Difficult circumstances seemed insumountable, loneliness was deep, I was constantly tired, I was rarely happy... it was yucky. 

But I just passed the six month mark.  I'm not pregnant and I feel great.  I feel so much better than I did two months ago that I'm willing to blog about it.  I will say that looking back, I'm glad I didn't go on meds this time.  They sort of mess with me more than I wish they did  I'm glad I was able to hang on until I got out of the hormonal funk.   

Remember the broken olive oil that I talked about.  Yep, two months postpartum.  At three monts post partum, you'll recall I talked very vaguely about difficult circumstances at our house... I was actually in tears.  At four months postpartum, I started getting weepy about Seth going to school.    In hindsight, I can attribute so much of that to a bout with PPD.  Then again, if I was still feeling not-so-much-like-me, I would figure out a way to intervene... mostly for the sake of my husband and my children :). 

However, to get medical help or not to get medical help is a very personal decision and one that should not be made lightly.  If you're concerned, talk to your doctor or midwife.  Check in with them often.  Do not let the symptoms persist and wreak havoc in your life.   

It should be a joyful time celebrating a new life, God's blessing to your family, a little miracle in your arms. 

And, yes, I believe that God answers the prayers of a sad Mommy too.  I prayed and I believe he heard me. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

CnC: The Ethics of Cheap

As cheap as I am, my integrity is worth
far more than that $1 off coupon. 
Aside on ethics:  I took a business ethics class at a small Christian college a decade or so ago and I almost got booed out of the class because I think corporations should help impoverished nations with some of their challenges.  For instance, drug manufacturers could make life-saving medicines for malaria and other preventable and/or curable diseases available at little or no cost to residents of tropical areas.  They can even provide HIV/AIDS medicines to prolong life as long as possible so that entier societies don't suffer.  I was called a bleeding heart liberal. (Bleeding heart, can you believe that?)

So it shocked me to no end that I was actually the right-most member of K-9, the 9th group of Peace Corps Volunteers to go to Kyrgyzstan.  The Peace Corps doesn't attract many Republicans because they're all out making money, right?

Thankfully, time has balanced me out.  Now, I would say that I'm a social conservative, a fiscal moderate, and a butter liberal... that really is the only thing I'm truly liberal with: BUTTER.  I aspire to be more liberal with forgiveness and love, but I am still learning.
Anyway, I know that corporations are out there to make money.  So, when the Albertson's ad has a General Mills promotion for $5 off of a $20 purchase after manufacturer coupons, I *begrudgingly* stick to the rules. 

I also try to obey all coupon rules like "Limit one coupon per transaction"  or "Limit one coupon per specified item(s) purchased" even though the cashier and the system might let me stack.  I realized today after I ordered more coupons that I broke a rule a few months ago... Sorry WinCo.  Sorry Ortega.  I'll plead ignorance this time and pledge do right in the future.  (Do you think I should call WinCo and try to explain it?  Or call Ortega and make sure they reimburse WinCo?  I'm considering it.)

So today I went and "bought" 3 bottles of Gain dish liquid.  It was .89 but then it was free with coupon.  FREE!  I didn't need dish liquid because I just bought some a few weeks ago when Costco had a coupon.  But to my great joy, I just realized that I haven't opened the new bottle yet!  I'm going to return it.  Because it is an unopened bottle, I have no qualms about getting my money back even though I know Costco has one of the best return policies EVER and would take it back regardless. 

I read a good article about this a few weeks ago.  Take a look at her take on it.  That is my new favorite coupon blog.  Check out her Stockpile price point list too!

I'm pretty sure Dave Hasz would be proud.  UGJ!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

There are many recipes available on the World Wide Web.  I suppose I like mine best because it's the only one I've tried.  After researching just a few minutes though, I might update mine a little... I'll let you know soon because I'm almost out.  I might also make stronger detergent so I can avoid making detergent as often. 

Do you have any idea how much laundry four children create?

The way I figure, it takes me less time and significantly less energy to make my own detergent at home in my jammies than to .... get dressed, get everyone else dressed, get out the door, get into the car, get out of the car, get into the carts (yes, cart-s, plural), get into the store, avoid an incident at the store, get out of the store, get out of the carts, get into the car, get out of the car, and get into the house.

I always have the ingredients on hand to make more detergent day or night.  And one of these days I'll make detergent because it's the most economical way to go, and I want to be thrifty.  But for now, I have to because it's the most economical way to go, and I cannot be anything other than CHEAP.



Ingredients:
  • Fels Naptha - it's a bar of soap.  It cost $1.26 when I bought it at Fred Meyer many moons ago, but I most recently purchased it at WinCo for $1.05.  $0.21 goes a  long way at my house!
  • Washing Soda - it's on the detergent aisle at your store.  I've seen it most places detergent is sold.  It comes in a yellow box and has the Arm and Hammer logo on it.  It is NOT baking soda.  It's washing soda.
  • Borax - they changed the packaging lately... it looks late 70s/early 80s now to me. 



Directions:
  • Using my last commercial container of detergent (2 gallons), I fill the container up with water from the tap almost all the way leaving a little "head space" as they say in the canning world.  
  • Then pour about 1/2 the water into my big stock pot.
  • I shred 1/4 of my Fels Naptha bar (I score it to know when to stop shredding.  See picture.) and over a medium heat, melt the soap shreds into the water.  (I don't hang around for this process because it takes a few minutes and I turn my venthood on high to do it because I think it has a strong smell during this phase.) 
  • I use a wisk to make sure it's thoroghly combined/melted.
  • Then, I add my Borax (1/8 c) and my Washing Soda (1/4c) and make sure they're dissolved too.*
  • Then, I pour in the remaining half of the water in my container into the pot and heat it all warm up.
  • Finally, I let it cool slowly and wisk while it's cooling then it doesn't gel as badly.
  • Pour it back into the container once it's cool several hours later (though I do use it 1/2 a cup at a time if I'm out).
*I found a recipe just now that calls for glycerin.  I'm wondering if it acts as an emulsifier and prevents gelatenating (my new word). 

Laundry Day
When I do the laundry, I add the same amount of detergent I would if I were using the commercial stuff.  I also add about 1/4 cup of baking soda to the detergent bin and then I put some vinegar in as softener.  Of course, just like it did in 7th grade, baking soda + vinegar = foam so look out.  I don't mix mine.

Stains
I do pre-treat stains with Shout or Spray n Wash or whatever I have, but I will be attempting to make my own stain remover soon so stay tuned. 

I have been using this in my HE machine for over a year and it works like a charm.  I buy vinegar and baking soda at Costco.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Confessions of a...

couponaholic.

I have more Coupon Gurus on my Facebook status feed than friends these days.  This could mean two things: a) my real friends have other things to do than update their status or b) I like coupons more than my friends whose posts I've hidden because I hate having to weed through them to get to the coupon updates (shame on me).

Either way... I have a problem. 

For instance, I saw a post on my Facebook feed that ConAgra has a rebate out.  If you buy $10 of their product, circle the amount on your receipts, and mail them in with the rebate form, they will send you a $25 coupon booklet. 



I looked at the products they listed and I am quite certain that I have not bought any Chef Boyardee or Snack Packs since July 7 (the beginning of the rebate period) .  In fact, I've only bought Chef Boyardee once and my kids wouldn't eat it.  So... why have I spent valuable brain power trying to figure out how on earth I can spend $10 on these products to get a $25 coupon booklet for products I don't buy anyway

I told you I was a couponaholic.

Blogging about Blogging (a sin, I understand)

I like writing.  I like it too much.  I sometimes blog while my children are crying in another room because I'm selfish and I like to do what I like to do.  Just now, I found the mess that Jenna made with the Cheerios I left out... natural consequences for me, I suppose.

Here's the thing...

I could blog about saving money, but those blogs are a dime a dozen... on sale and with a coupon, they're free. 

I could blog about parenting, but my oldest child is only 4 and the proof is in the pudding... my pudding is still in the ingredients phase.  I have no teenagers yet.  You can't trust my advice.

I could blog about my faith, but I don't want you to think poorly of Jesus because of my *frequent* hypocrisy.  Then again, that's why I need Him... every hour. 

I could blog about being homemaker, but my bathroom is dirty and my kitchen doesn't smell of fresh baked goodies. 

I could blog about home organization, but you obviously haven't seen my crawl space/could-potentially-be-a-basement/mayhem... ICK! 

I could blog about being a wife, but I rarely make my husband lunch and I tend to be very selfish in that relationship too.

I suppose the only thing unique about me is my experiences with four small children in a small house with a small budget.  I can tell some funny stories, I suppose... like Last Night's Stomach Virus, Part Deux: Korynne and the Water Glass (Rated GR for Gag Reflex... not for the faint at stomach). 
So... why am I blogging?  Good question.  Am I talking to myself?  What do you want me to blog about?  Then again, if no one responds, I'll get the hint. 
My detergent recipe is coming, Liz ;).  It will likely be in the form of a link. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

CnC: Ways I Save

So, you know I coupon.  But did you know...

I make my own laundry detergent for around a penny/load.

I make my own ranch salad dressing mix that I make salad dressing and vegetable dip with.

I make my own foamy soap.

I make my own pancake syrup.

I put leftover soup in old peanut butter jars and freeze them... it tastes way better than canned soup.

I can (hopefully) make four halloween costumes for less than $10.

And I can make an empty cereal box useful.


One of these days, I'll make my new magazine holders pretty (or get my children to do it), but it's not that important to me.

That's why they call me "Charming and Cheap."

Couponing Research

I feel like I have a bit of a renewed purpose with my couponing and shopping.  I get wild hairs quite frequently, actually.  But here's why this time...

First of all, couponing requires brain cells.  Since I have a severe case of Mommy Brain, exercising my gray matter really makes me feel normal.

Secondly, I want to be a good steward of what I have.  I don't have much (materially speaking) right now, but I firmly believe that someone who is "...faithful in a very little is also faithful in much" (Luke 16:10).  I want to be ready for a future season of plenty.

Thirdly, I really want to be in a position to give to those in need.

I found this link to help me hone in a little on when I should stock up and when I should keep looking.  That particular website teaches the how-to of couponing pretty well.  I knew I was paying too much for Dish Detergent!

While I'm pretty good at couponing already, I've got a lot to learn.  I'll try to take you, Dear Reader, along on my journey so that you can learn with me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Coupon High

The total for my shopping trip this morning was $9.93.  Yes, that picture is of everything I bought!!!

10 Phili Cream Cheese (2 - $5/5 Kraft*) - YES!  There are two stacks of 4... can someone say CHEESECAKE!
2 boxes of Wheat Thins ($1/2 printable)
2 Dryers Ice Cream ($1/2 All You)
3 Wheat Thin Stix (3 - $1/1 Coupons I found at Safeway last week)
3 Fuze ($1/2 All You & $0.50/1 peelie at the store)

Final Price:
10 Phili Cream Cheese = FREE*
2 boxes of Wheat Thins = $1.49 ea
2 Dryers Ice Cream = $1.99 ea
3 Wheat Thin Stix = $0.99 ea
3 Fuze = FREE

OR you could say that I paid less than $0.50 per item. 

Any way you slice it, I saved 82%. SWEET!!!

*Thankfully, there was a lady in front of me doing the exact same thing and the checker wanted to work with both of us.  He called a manager over to get it done.  This was at the Maple Valley QFC.  They had a lot on the shelf and an end cap too full of the 8 oz bricks. 

This deal is part of their buy 10 get $5 off.  Look in the circular to see items you buy and match it up with printable coupons, coupons you've been stashing, etc... 

Also, the All You magazine is available at WalMart ($2.49 ea) or by mail-in subscription ($1.94 ea).  But... I saw yesterday that you can get them for $1 each AND support a school!  Just follow this Link and follow her instructions.  I'm seriously considering it since you get your money's worth with just one coupon in each magazine.  Plus, there are some really fun recipes I'd like to try and other money saving tips.  Then again, I may have some Swagbucks and I'll just order from Amazon.

My Goal
Lest we forget why this is so much fun (it really is a bit of a rush to "steal" TEN cream cheeses), I have a goal.  Granted, I love saving my family money just to say, "I saved my family money."  But, really, when I grow up (ahem), I want to have a shelf system in the garage I don't yet have full of items.  I want a couple more refrigerators and/or freezers to fill with yummy goodness.  WHY?  So I can give it away.  If I'm dilligent and can provide for my family for pennies on the dollar, why can't I throw in an extra hand soap for my neighbor who just lost a job?  A package of diapers for a single mom who has to deal with lawyer fees?  A week of groceries for a family in need of a more practical love?  In times like these, people could really use the help.  I want to be that help. 

Feedback:
Do you coupon?  Why do you coupon?  How much money do you save your family?  Why are you saving money?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Who do I resemble today?

I just inhaled a bowl of lentil soup and I'm cowering in the laundry room/office waiting for my bloodsugar to get back to normal levels before I go put my children down for their naps... again.

Am I more like...
a) The Little Engine?  "I think I can, I think I can" but I really don't want to.
b) Chicken Little?  "The sky is falling," call Daddy for moral support or just wait for reinforcements because he's on his way home for lunch.
c) The Apostle Paul?  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," let's do this.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

RANT: That Mom

I can't do it... I really don't want to.

I think they're gone for the day anyway so I can wait until tomorrow.  Besides, I'm busy.

I've never wanted to be that Mom.  I don't want to picket.  I don't want to hire a lawyer.  However, I really want the school to stop giving Seth sugar!

Exhibit A:



That was Christmas morning after 3 cinnamon rolls ... the cinnamon rolls weren't frosted!

Maybe you didn't believe me when I said in I Don't Have Good Kids that I don't give my kids sugar.  Really, I don't sweeten their yogurt or oatmeal.  We only bake cookies every 3 or 4 months at which time they each get 1.  They do get a cookie at the grocery store if I dare take them with me... once a month.  So aside from birthday parties, really, they don't eat sugar.  Cheerios and Kix have about 3 grams of sugar per serving.  That's what they get.  Milk has lactose (also a sugar) so that's enough for their little bodies.  They only get juice at their friends' houses, and I don't even put J on their PB&Js!!!

However, my son is in preschool.  They feed him lunch.  Two weeks ago he came home with something all over his shirt.  I smelled it.  Lo and behold, it was SYRUP.  The lunch menu said that they had French toast sticks... FOR LUNCH.  Last week, he came home with chocolate all over his face.  The menu said they had brownies. 

Why do they get dessert with lunch at the age of FOUR?
That's setting them up for a lifetime of bad eating habits. 
I know because I'm 31 and I'm still trying to break some bad habits!

I hoped that Seth's increased activity in the afternoons was due to his excitement.  After all, riding the bus and hanging out with his buddies sans Mommy at age 4 is a pretty big deal.  But I've come to the conclusion that his hyperactivity when he gets home from school is inexorably linked to school lunches. 

Today, he told me they had juice.
(Why I oughta.)

If you think I'm employing hyperbole (which is encouraged on my blog), then you come hang out in my 900 square foot house with four children four and under.  You get Seth off of the bus when he's amped up on sugar and throw in a little "Seth's home" excitement.  You manage the pure mayhem while nursing the 6 month old.  Then, you try to put them all down for naps while your bloodsugar crashes and the phone rings.  I dare you.  I double dog dare you. 

No takers?

I didn't think so.

I'll be giving someone the what-for sooner than later.  I'm going to wait though.  Right now, I would be complaining for selfish reasons... because I don't have the energy to keep up.  Until I'm just "calling this to their attention" "for the sake of the teachers and bus drivers" and in order to "foster a better learning environment," I'll keep my big mouth shut. 

I knew I would be that Mom... that's why I really want to homeschool.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Family of Families

Are you a hopeful person?  I am.  That's got upsides, like a generally optimistic outlook, and embarrassing consequences, like two failed home businesses.  One of which was when I attempted to sell Halon Fire Extinguishers... let's just say that I'm a much better Internet researcher now than I was then. 

Anyway...

I get my hopes up.  I want to believe things people tell me.  So when the pastor yesterday talked about our church, a group of people following Jesus, becoming more and more like "A Family of Families."  It made me cry.  I thought about all of the times in the last 4 years since our first child was born that I desperately wanted to live near my family.  I need help and the closest family we have is my in-laws who are in and out of town because they are RVers. 

So I started imagining what it would look like to be in A Family of Families

I'd like to be the 50's Housewife of the Family in the kitchen baking and serving up yummy meals surrounded by perfectly dressed children and a clean house.  I'd like my calendar to be full... 4 of 7 nights with guests or being a guest works for me.  I'd like to help if someone is sick or just had a baby.  And yes, I'd wear an apron to do it all. 

Then reality set in. 

What if it's like in-laws?   

Please don't misunderstand, my in-laws are amazing people.  I sincerely love them.  And yet, they're still in-laws.  For example, their version of helping isn't necessarily what I consider helpful.  So, instead of Holidays being relaxing times of rejoicing together, I have panic attacks... really, I had a panic attack last fall because my husband invited his parents for dinner last minute without consulting me.  It took me an hour to come inside and I had to go to the store to buy bread to go with the cold dinner because I couldn't think of a better excuse for being unable to just share a meal.

That's the problem.  I desperately want to be in A Family of Families, but it takes a while before in-laws are as close as your own parents and siblings.  I'm sure everyone's experience is different, but as for me, I don't know how to really let people in.  I don't mind if folks see me with my make-up on and a smile (sometimes fake, mostly real) on Sunday mornings.  But if someone stops by on Monday afternoon (like today), I might have a problem if they were to see me lash out at my kids for not napping or that I'm completely overwhelmed with my life and that I'm running on "E". 

My Family might see all of me
instead of the version of me I allow them to see. 

Instead of getting to be the Betty Crocker of the Family, it's more likely that I'd be the crazy aunt.  You know me, Auntie Momma Drama, the volatile one who drinks too much.  I'm much more likely to blubber on the phone saying, "I've got groceries to put away, a dirty house, laundry out my ears, an obligation tonight, 4 children who won't nap, another obligation tomorrow morning, out-of-town guests early tomorrow afternoon, and the recession didn't end last June... HELP."  (BTW, "help" is pronounced "heh-yulp"... it's a two syllable word where I come from.)

What scares me, too, is that I can't control the help My Family of Families would offer.  I'm sure someone would offer to come do my laundry while I manage my children, but then they'd see my underwear.  I'm sure someone else would offer to take my kids, but my kids might jump on the couches or scream about a toy... my children are loud.  Maybe someone would offer to bring dinner so I have one less thing.  And then, the worst could happen: someone might just say, "Stop blogging and get busy."  No matter what they offer, I hate asking for help... remember, I don't want anyone to see all of me

I wish I knew what to expect so I could either sign up and get my hands dirty - or - run for the hills.  But I have no bloomin' idea what A Family of Families looks like in practice.

Then again, I'm hopeful... maybe The Family won't always be in-laws. 



I'd love some feedback:  Are you in A Family of Families?  Who are you in that Family?  (Remember, I'm the crazy aunt.)  Are you looking for a Family?  Or are you as apprehensive as I am?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Work in Progress

I've said it, you've probably said it: "I'm a work in progress."

I'm a piece of work, a lot of days.

Maybe I'm more like an area roped off with yellow tape filled with workers in hazmat suits... that's a project. 


I wish I were the Sistine Chapel... I know it's not finished, but at least it's beautiful.



It's more likely that I'm a particularly tough piece of clay... Isaiah 64:8
But now, O LORD,you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
While I have aspirations of becoming a beautiful vessel worthy of fine flowers and prime placement, I'm feelin' like an ashtray.  Like a 4th grader's art project with some serious defects.  *sigh*
But hey, you can use an ashtray.

 

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Broken Plate

Maybe I'm just a little slow on the uptake.  Maybe my bachelor's degree didn't actually give me any common sense.  Maybe my ideal world just doesn't exist.

I feel overwhelmed a lot of days.  I mean, come on... I have four children four and under.  I've been mistaken for some kind of Supermom.  Please let me dispel that myth once and for all:  Do Supermoms raise their voices?  Hide in the bathroom with the fan on?  Call their husbands in tears two or three times a week?  Well, if they do, sure I'll go pick up my uniform from the cleaner's.  Um, no. 

I always admire the Mommas that always have clean houses, home cooked meals, pretty blogs, Gap Models instead of children, and a smile to boot.  I aspire to be like her (she's a myth, by the way)... I want shiny floors, homemade whole wheat bread, a cupcake blog, children whose shoes are on the right feet, and at least a shower.  But I don't always get what I want. 

So this hit me the other day after I let my son watch Blue's Clues after he got home from preschool.  I told my husband because I was so excited by this revelation:

When my patience runs short
and my to-do list is long,
my kids can watch TV.
(told you I was slow)

I know many of you have lived by this principle for years.  I, however, am eating my words when I type that.  I never wanted to be the Mommy who sits my children in front of the television (or computer at our house) because I don't want to interact with them.  On the contrary, I love my children and I wish I had the energy to keep up.  Instead, I find myself losing it because
I can't keep that many plates spinning. 



So the plate that hit the floor is the TV.  I let it fall because I don't want them to be afraid of me and my little tirades.  I don't want them to remember Mommy being mad... or, sometimes, sad. 

So while the little ones sleep, the big kids can sometimes watch Kipper or Pingu or Blue on Netflix because Watch Instantly is the best invention EVER.  And, there are no commercials so my kids aren't demanding Rescue Heroes, Pop Tarts, or Disneyland.   

I'm sure more plates will fall ... like how I'm a little particular about what we eat and the cleanliness of my home.  Then again maybe, I'll actually pick up a few more plates along the way once someone at my house can tie their own shoes, cross the street unaccompanied, or make a PB (no J) sandwich.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Great Debate (or at least one of them)

*sigh*

I hate to admit this, but maybe my honesty will give others permission to be honest as well.



These M&M's have been in the bottom of my purse since Tuesday.  They were a welcoming gift from my Discussion Group Leader at MOPS.  They were in a cute little paper box and the box came open trapping these delicious morsels in the debris-filled seam at the bottom of my purse next to a *clean* diaper and a toy for my youngest. 

sadness ensued

And then... the great debate:

 Do I or do I not eat the M&M's? 

It's now Sunday and I haven't decided yet.  They won't melt. But are they "clean" enough to eat... if I blow them off.

My choices are:

a) clean out my purse, throw them away *sniffle*, then, thoroughly clean the lining of my purse/diaper bag so that if this ever happens again there will be no debate... no chocolate shall ever meet ill-fate again.

b) gather the chocolaty-goodness, inspect them for specks of foreign matter, eat them, and not feel a shred of guilt... no chocolate should ever go to waste.

c) show my small children what happened... at least someone will enjoy the chocolate. Then, thoroughly clean the lining of my purse/diaper bag so that if this ever happens again there will be no debate... that's MY chocolate, dammit.

We shall see...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Parenting Math

No one said anything yesterday.  Didn't you know it was an important day at our house?  I'll never forget September 17, 2005.  I wrote it down in several waiting rooms.  I looked at calendars to verify.  I can't believe it's been that long...

It was the first day of my last period when I got pregnant with Seth. 

Now, please forgive me if you're not my target audience.  Single men and men without children don't know how important that day is.  It is the day you use to calculate the baby's due date.  It's a big deal.  And I'm sorry if I just grossed anyone out.

Since then, I've been pregnant, breastfeeding, or pregnant & breastfeeding without a break.  That means that I've been eating for two or three for
FIVE YEARS STRAIGHT.

So if you don't know whether to congratulate me or give me condolences, I understand. 

Now for the Math:
  • We had four babies in less than four years. 
  • We've changed no less than 8,175 diapers and we usually have 2 in diapers (we only had 3 in diapers for 7 months). 
  • We've done about 1,000 loads of laundry. 
  • By themselves, our children have consumed over 200 gallons of milk, over 2,000 bananas, and at least 100 DOZEN eggs.  
  • We've received and handed down hundreds of articles of clothing every size from 0 to 6 years for every gender... including hermaphrodites.
  • We've kissed hundreds of boo-boos. 
  • We've cleaned up dozens of cups of spilled milk. 
  • We've caught at least 15 viruses. 
  • We've stepped on at least 10 matchbox cars. 
  • And we've destroyed the interior of two vehicles. 

But, we've only swallowed one foreign object
and fished one turd out of the bathtub. 
Not bad. 



I can count all of the stuff that sort of sucks about being a parent.



However, I cannot put a value (numerically or monetarily) on the joy our children bring to our 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 900 square foot house. 

Seth has a great sense of humor,
Korynne says cute things,
Jenna gets punchy when she's sleepy,
and Joel is just a happy kind of guy.

So, please, congratulate me.  I've been blessed with FOUR CHILDREN. 

Four children who look at me adoringly, who giggle when I tickle them, who ask me to tuck them in, who give me unsolicited kisses, and who grow up so fast I might miss it.  Just this week:

Seth started school and rides the bus, 
Korynne learned to buckle herself in the car, 
Jenna moved to a "big girl" bed, 
and Joel got his first tooth and is up like he's going to crawl.



 Please,

Don't tell me I have my hands full...
because my hands are full and I can't smack you upside the head for stating the obvious. 

Don't tell me I'm busy...
I already do that math and I don't have time to tell you how busy I really am. 

Don't look at me as though I don't know what causes this...
I most certainly do ;).   

Children are a blessing
and a gift from the LORD.
Having a lot of children
to take care of you
in your old age
is like a warrior
with a lot of arrows.
The more you have,
the better off you will be,
because they will protect you
when your enemies attack
with arguments.
Psalm 127:3-5



Thursday, September 16, 2010

CnC's Kids' Room Puzzle

In a small house, furniture placement is almost as particular as a 1000 piece puzzle.  Some items just don't fit.  Others just need to be turned the right way.

Before:


You can see that we have a bookcase, a crib, a bunk bed and a chest of drawers/changing table.

After:


You see that we have a bookcase, a toddler bed, a loft bed, a pack 'n' play, another toddler bed, and the same chest of drawers/changing table.


This gives us a little more play area on the floor and sleeping arrangements for four. 

Here's how it's done...

Crib - $60 purchased over 4 years ago.  It is a drop side crib and can no longer be sold.  It will now become a garden trellis.

Bunk Bed - $35 Value Village steal of a deal (regularly $150 new at Ikea) plus $10 in missing hardware purchased 2 years ago.

Twin Mattress was a gift from my mom.

Crib Mattress came with the crib.

New (to us) Pair of Toddler Beds: $10... for the pair.

New (to us) Loft Bed: $40.

Second Crib Mattress was given to us a few months ago.  We stored it in the crib for a while (see picture).

Tomorrow morning, a lady is going to come pick up the bunk bed.  She's going to pay us $90.

Let's do that math...
Price of the old set: 60 + 35 + 10 = $105
Price for the "new" set: 10 + 40 = $50
Refund for the old set: $90
Total spent in 4 years: $65
Fitting 4 small children in the same room: Priceless (plus a Garden Trellis and reigning Championn of Cheap... bonus!)


Each kiddo has a Nana blanket.