Friday, October 24, 2008

Weekly Shopping---Saved $36.61

I needed to work at decreasing my stockpile so this week, I decided to take a break from major deal shopping. I did go into Family Fare for a WIC run along with picking up a few of the 3 day deals and doing my "look" through the Manager's Special meat racks.

Well here is the breakdown of shopping trip...

1st Transaction:
  • 4 bags candy $6.08

  • 3lb bag apples $2.99

  • 1 gallon apple cider $2.88

  • 1.96lb B/S chicken breasts $3.51

  • 1.87lb B/S chicken breasts $3.35

  • 1.24lb ground chuck $2.77

  • 1.17lb ground chuck $2.61

  • 1.43lb ground chuck $3.19

  • 1.15lb ground chuck $2.57

Total: $29.95
Savings Total: $26.53

2nd Transaction:
  • 4 bags candy $4.08
Total: $4.08 minus $3.50 bottle refund = 58 cents!!!
Savings Total: $9.08(that doesn't include the bottle refund!)

GRAND TOTAL SAVINGS: $36.61(not including using the bottle refund)

For more savings stories head over to MoneySavingMom's Super Saturday Savings and Becentsable's Centsable Saving Stories.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Our Community Service Day!

We have a friend from church who works for a local rehabiliation hospital in their "Motion Analysis Center". He emailed us along with many other friends to see if we would be willing to help him and his co-workers with their "walking study". They are in the process of implementing a new protocol for studying the walking patterns of disabled patients. However, before they can begin using this clinically, they needed to collect walking data on 50 or more “normal” kids without any known disability or walking issues using this new protocol. This data will be averaged by age and, for the next decade or more, will serve as the comparison data against which their patients’ walking patterns will be compared.

So Wednesday, my three older boys had the privelege of being part of this study that will probably help thousands of disabled children and young people in their quest to walk like a "normal human being"!

When we got there...the boys had their weight and height taken along with measurements of their hips and legs. They had a series of about 50 little reflective spheres stuck on various spots of the body(mostly on their feet and legs) and then they had to walk 10-15 times back and forth a 10-meter walkway while ten state-of-the-art, high-speed video cameras recorded the motion of the markers on to a computer. When the boys were all done they could "see" how they walked on the computer. On the computer all that could be seen was "dots" from the reflective spheres.

My younger ones were too young for the study but the friend allowed them to also have the spheres stuck to them and let them dance on the "walkway" while it was recorded so that they could "see" themselves on the computer as well.

All total it took us about an hour and a half total out of our day for them to get through the study! It made my "momma heart" proud that the boys were willing to do this for the sake of others!

New Menu Planning System??

So I have been working through the October"Fall into Cooking" challenge that the ladies over at Happy to be at Home are doing as part of their End 08 Great Challenge. And I must say that I needed this challenge to help me get out my "cooking rut"!

Anyway, when they first introduced this month's challenge, Kate provided links to pdfs of a blank grocery list and monthly menu plan. I looked at them with great interest and wondered if I could use either of them instead of what I was using for my current system.

After looking at the grocery list in more depth, I realized that it would not be of benefit to me because I would have to be changing lots of different items on it. So I am keeping with using my current master grocery list.

However, the blank monthly menu plan really intrigued me, so I printed one off and thought to myself that this month I would work at developing a whole month's menu. Well, after about 5 days of the form sitting blank on my desk, I started my "quest" of filling out the monthly menu. I got one week done and then life happened and reality set in! Who was I kidding that I could do a monthly menu and actually stick to the whole thing when I have more than myself to think about when making a menu.

I wanted so desperately wanted to use this little form/sheet but it was looking like there was no hope! It really did look like it would work better in my "record keeping of meals" rather than trying to fill in a blank calendar and only have dinner meals recorded.

So I kept the form on my desk and thought some more as to how I could use the sheet while my planned meals for the week got moved around, or scratched or eaten.

Finally after taking some time to think, I have figured out what I am going to do with the sheet! I am going to leave it on my desk and use it as I figure out the week's menu. This way I have the previous week's meals on the same sheet and I can see what meals we had and what we didn't so far in a month's time so I can work at making a variety of meals rather than the same ol' thing week after week! If I find a new recipe to try I can plug it in on a day in the coming weeks right on the monthly menu sheet, so that the new recipe doesn't get forgotten!

So now instead of having several sheets of previous weekly menus, plus a master grocery list, plus my master menu suggestion lists(see left side bar for the lists), plus a list of "new recipes"'; I can have just this one sheet plus my freezer/pantry inventory sheet plus my blog opened to make my menus each week!

This should make for quicker and easier planning for me in the months ahead!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Parenting Series--ABCs Christian Parenting--Part 5

As I continue with the parenting series, I am finding that the further in the alphabet I go the more convicting the letter becomes and this week is no exception!

EXERCISE self control when you're angry, committing your feelings to the Lord rather than using them against your child.

Has your child ever done something that makes you mad? Not just really mad but so mad you can not believe they did that and more mad! You feel so much anger that you yell? Scream? Lose your temper? Anger is a natural emotion, and it is also a powerful and possibly dangerous if we don't use self control or "rule" over the anger.

I found this story by Sean E. Brotherson(click on the name to go to the complete article) that I thought had some great insight on parenting in anger...

Many years ago my father formulated a simple and symbolic definition of parenting in anger that has dramatically shaped my understanding of this concept. He calls it “puffer fish parenting.”

One night when I was growing up our family was sitting around the dinner table and having a discussion. My older brother, who at age twelve had read nearly every book in the house and could remember almost every detail, got into a discussion with my dad and the rest of us about the Indian chief Crazy Horse. My dad started telling us about the history of Crazy Horse and his experiences and how he died. Pretty soon my brother raised his hand and said, “Dad, that’s wrong!” Somehow dad took exception to being stopped and corrected in that manner, and he let my brother know somewhat angrily and pretty clearly that he was out of line. As he explained it to me once, he said, “I got upset and started to climb all over that poor boy’s heart and soul.” Then Mom got involved, and we all got involved, and well, my family isn’t known for its quiet demeanor. What had started as an angry response had soon become a total uproar.

Well, Dad stepped out back and tried to calm his mind and emotions, and there overhead saw the blazing stars of the distant Milky Way galaxy and then considered his own status at that moment. He realized then how absolutely insignificant he was in relationship to God above, and yet knew that God loved and cared for him. And then he knew that his anger had been wrong and he needed to make it right with his son. And he did.

As an ecologist, my father spends much time observing the natural world and has a unique capacity for drawing lessons of life from the things that he sees among plants, animals, and the patterns of nature. Later as he thought about this experience he happened to be visiting a marine science center and there saw a fish tank that contained a unique fish called a puffer fish. A puffer fish is a fairly small, almost square fish that looks innocent until it is threatened in its environment by any predator or anything that seems to be a threat or a surprise. Then it changes! The puffer fish has the capacity to immediately puff up and take on a lot of air so that it blows up to almost four or five times its original size. The idea seems to be that if you blow up quickly and act really big and threatening then you can scare away or intimidate or control what it is that has disturbed you or threatened you. It’s a bluffing mechanism. It’s meant to discourage or control others. It also happens to be a pretty common parenting technique. And my father has taught me that when you parent by intimidation or with anger that you are practicing what he now calls “puffer fish parenting.”

How many of us have practiced puffer fish parenting? Let’s think of a few examples:

“I cannot believe you did that! I’m sick of it! If you ever do that again I will beat you within an inch of your life!”

“You did what?! You’ll never drive again! I’ll never let you behind the wheel of that car again, you irresponsible twit!”

“If you touch that again, you’re going to get it! I mean it, I will break every bone in your body!”

“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. A thousand times!”

“Get to your room! You are going to be grounded for a year, young lady!”

“Just wait until your father gets home! You’re going to wish you’d never been born!”

OUCH! Does this really hit home for me! I find myself doing this more often and I realize that I need to work at changing my ways(hopefully it isn't too late!)with my children. I need to step back, calm down, pray, rule over my anger and not be so self-centered. I need to take a more pro-active response rather than a reactive!

What kind of Godly example to our children are we being with our angry outbursts? Are we controlling our anger or are we letting anger rule us?

And now for some advice that I need to take to heart myself...for those times when anger wants to rule over you...Take the time to step away, calm down, and pray before lovingly talking and explaining to your child why you are so angry and why you have to discipline them(if need be.)

Uses for Plain Yogurt

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased TWO-32 oz plain yogurt on manager's markdown with good intentions of using them in my baking and cooking!

Well so far...

I have used 1/2 of a container in making smoothies when my #3 ds left the freezer door open and I had 3lbs of fruit that started to thaw needing to be used soon!

Now tonight, after years of using just butter or margarine with milk in my mashed potatoes, I have now gone to a new to me way of doing them. I used the plain yogurt in the mashed potatoes!! I have used sour cream in the past few months too and my family has commented at how much creamier and thicker the potatoes looked and tasted.

Tonight no one didn't know any different, I didn't have any fresh sour cream so I used the yogurt(without telling anyone because hubby doesn't like yogurt at all!) and the potatoes were inhaled!

Now to use the yogurt in brownies or in cookies or in coffee cakes! Oh I think the options are endless!

What are some of the ways YOU use plain yogurt?? I would love to get more ideas for using yogurt in foods!

Works for Me Wednesday--Tackling Mt. Laundry!

When my family consisted of just dh and I, it was sooo easy to just do one laundry day a week! One day was devoted to the whole chore of getting the laundry washed, dried, folded and put away. It wasn't an unsurmountable task because it was just four loads(1 dark, 1 white/lights, 1 towels, and 1 sheets). As we have had children, I have noticed that the mountain was turning into mountains!! Having just one laundry day has come to a screeching halt! It was just getting too overwhelming to go into the laundry room and think that I will get it all done in one day! If I tried to do that I usually would get sidetracked doing something else and never find my way back into that room to even begin the laundry process.

So now what I have done with Mount Laundry is divided and conquered! We live in a 3 bedroom house so each room has its own laundry "basket"(I use plastic milk crates) for dirty laundry. Each day it is the responsibility of my 4yo to collect the dirty laundry from each of the rooms into the big hamper. Then I bring it down to the laundry room and sort it into two baskets. If it is a laundry day then I use the washer as another "basket" so that a load can be started.

My laundry schedule is something like this....

Monday--do two loads of laundry
Wednesday--do two loads of laundry
Friday--do two loads of laundry
Saturday--do all remaining laundry(usually ends up being 4-5 loads!)

On laundry days, I start a load at the beginning of the day, by lunch time one load is ready to be folded. Around lunch time, I start the second load of the day, so that by 4pm I am totally done with laundry for the day. I try not to do any laundry after 4pm on laundry days so that I can concentrate on getting dinner ready and the house picked up before dh comes home from work.

Saturday is my day to wash towels, sheets, cleaning rags and any other laundry that didn't make it thru during the week. This is basically my "catch up" day!! During the winter months, the bed sheets only get changed every other week so that helps in not having mountains to do every Saturday, and it also helps with the wear and tear on the sheets.

Now that the laundry is all washed and dried, it needs to be folded and put away! I have a "laundry folding table" that has 5 small plastic baskets from the dollar store for each of my kids. I fold the laundry on there. The kids' clothes get put into their respective basket and they are responsible for taking care of it! Whenever they come to me and say "I don't have any socks!". My response is, "Have you taken care of your basket?". More times than not, they will find a full basket and socks are in there for them.

Usually the rest of the folded laundry is up to me to take care of it. However, I am working at training them to help take care of the rest of the items that end up folded on the table so that the table is stacked with clothes ALL week long! I am also training my older boys to work the wash machine and dryer!

So this is my way of doing laundry. It is what has worked best for me with my family of seven. Sometimes I wonder if I could do it a better way! Hummm...wonder what I could change?!

So what is your system? Is there something you would change about how you do laundry? Do you find yourself buried in mountains of laundry?

To find out what works for others, head over to Shannon's blog today!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday

The ladies over at Happy to be at Home are doing an End 08 Challenge and this month's focus is "Fall into Cooking". Well their focus for this week is streamlining meal prep & kitchen work so it fits well with Tammy's Recipes Kitchen Tip Tuesdays that I thought I would "kill two birds with one stone" or in this instance do two posts in one!

I wanted to take the time to write a few ideas to add to Kate's excellent post!

So without further ado, more ways(in no particular order) to streamline work in the kitchen...
  1. For your meals, keep it simple! For instance, if you want to go from lots of store bought ready made items to making everything from scratch, start by doing one thing for a meal from scratch each week and work your way up to everything everyday. Don't be too hard on yourself though if you get to where you are giving your family only one or two "from scratch" meals each week for months because it takes time to get to a point of cooking everything from scratch.(I am still getting there myself!) Also, I don't think your family is looking for "restaurant style" meals every day!

  2. Put leftovers in single serving containers and date them. For me it makes it easier when I put hubby's lunch together in the mornings because I can pull the oldest leftover to put in his lunch. Also if I end up with more than one single serving leftover of the meal I know that I can offer it for a "potluck lunch" with the kids during the week. Or that extra single serving gets put in the freezer for a later in the month lunch for hubby or for those weeks when there isn't any leftovers to be eaten.

  3. Plan ahead times to work in the kitchen. When I do my menu planning, I make notes to myself as to what needs to be done before the given day. This way, I make time/plan time to work in the kitchen sometime before I want something for a certain meal. This has helped a lot with efficiency in my kitchen...when the oven is on there is more than just that night's dinner cooking!

  4. Plan ahead with a purpose! From grocery shopping to meal planning to prepping food to preparing the food...planning ahead is important! I can not just aimlessly walk into the kitchen and expect to accomplish anything without having a plan and purpose. I have tried the aimless walk too many times to count and nothing gets done completely just alot of loose ends which means more time in the kitchen. I make sure that I do my grocery shopping on days where I have time to take care of the 20 lbs plus of meat that I am going to need to put it into meal size servings and into the freezer or it will go bad.

  5. Maximize the use of your "modern day servants". If you are going to be using the oven make sure that you have something other than just dinner cooking! Use your crockpot on those busy days where "take-out" would end up being an option.

  6. One final note...Start small because life happens! Whether it be cooking everything from scratch to trying to tackle freezer meals to even just menu planning, take baby steps and work up to what works best for your family!

For other kitchen tips, head over to Tammy's Recipes!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Singing Sunday

Today is the Day
by Lincoln Brewster

I`m casting my cares aside
I`m leaving my past behind
I`m setting my heart and mind on You

I`m reaching my hand to Yours
Believing there`s so much more
Knowing that all You have in store for me is good
Is good

Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
And I won`t worry about tomorrow
I`m trusting in what You say
Today is the day
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Today is the day
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh

I putting my fears aside
I`m leaving my doubts behind
I`m giving my hopes and dreams to You

I`m reaching my hands to Yours
Believing there`s so much more
Knowing that all You have in store for me is good
Is good

Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
And I won`t worry about tomorrow
I`m trusting in what You say
Today is the day
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh
Today is the day
Oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh

I will stand upon Your truth.
(I will stand upon Your truth)
And all my days I`ll live for You
(And all my days I`ll live...)

Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
And I won`t worry about tomorrow
I`m giving you my fears and sorrows
Where you lead me I will follow
I'm trusting in what you say