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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Frugal Friday

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My new best friend is my new search engine. I used to do all my internet searches through Google. And it worked fine and took me where I wanted to go. Well, three weeks ago I heard about Swagbucks, which is another search engine but with a bonus! You sign up with them and download their search engine toolbar. Every so often when you do a search through the toolbar you win a "swagbuck" or two. I usually win one or two a day just by doing a few searches that I usually do. Once you accumulate enough swag money you buy something through their store. There are many prizes to choose from but the two that interest me the most are the $5 Amazon gift card for 45 swagbucks or the $20 Target gift card which is 220 swagbucks. And the gift cards do come so they really do make good on their rewards.

You can earn more points by getting your friends and family to sign up under you. Whenever they win a swagbuck, you win one (up to their first 100). That is how I went from 30 swagbucks to now 133 swagbucks in a little over a week after telling several people about it.

I am excited about this because it is free money! Really, I did searches everyday anyway but now I am getting rewards for using a certain search bar. I can use these gift cards for Christmas presents, birthday gifts, or just regular household items that I need. I shop at Amazon and Target anyway so these gift cards will really come in handy. And from my math, I assume that I will be able to get at least an average of $10 in gift cards a month with my swagbucks so that equals to at least $120 a year...all for doing what I did to begin with. And if Amazon and Target don't excite you there are several more options for prizes. Click on the banner below to find out more!

Search & Win

Would you like to join in on this Frugal Friday blog carnival? Just grab my button on the right and post it in your Frugal Friday post, or just link back to this site somewhere in your post. Then come back here and leave a comment in the comment section so that we can all visit your blog and learn more frugal tips!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do Mothers Get To Take Vacations?

You know how every so often you hear someone say "I NEED a vacation!" Maybe you even say it yourself and imagine a deserted island where you can lay in the sun with a nice juicy novel and, well, relax. I've been known to say it even. And now I get my wish! Next week we will be departing for a week long vacation to visit my husband's side of the family in Ohio. This is our first real vacation since having children, if you don't count the overnight trip we made a couple years back to a zoo a few hours away. And it's a long overdue trip, as we haven't ventured back there since moving three states away 7 years ago.

But I'm tired just thinking about my "vacation". I have many plans to get things in order before leaving so that we can return from our trip to a clean house and just zonk out for a few days. I keep making lists in my head of what we will need to pack and what we must not forget to bring. I dread thinking about spending ten hours in the van with three small children who are not used to traveling anywhere over an hour away. I'm nervous about farming our pets out to people while we are gone and especially nervous about the puppy who is still working on housebreaking and the dog which is much like Houdini and escapes the house whenever possible. I hate to think of how crabby the kids will probably be trying to adjust to a week away from home and sleeping in strange beds and just the disruption of their daily schedule. I imagine them whining and clinging a lot...to me. You see, hubby is looking forward to this trip (as he rightly should be - he misses his family) and doesn't even seem to be thinking of all that could go wrong.

And this, my friends, is where women and men are totally different. Men roll with the punches and take it as it comes and women prepare for the worst. We plan, organize, and think everything through to the last detail. We are the ones who have to remember to stop the mail while on vacation, remember to pack that extra package of diapers and not forget the wipes, decide how many pairs of underwear and sets of clothing we need to bring for each and every member of the family. Don't forget the toothbrushes and toothpaste. Remember the special blanket the kids like to sleep with. Make sure a fun goodie bag is packed for the van ride. Hostess gifts? Check. And the list goes on. So far, the plans leading up to the "vacation" have not been very relaxing.

But, while I am preparing for the worst, I am also hoping for the best. I keep reminding myself that for a whole week I won't have to be cleaning my house, or doing piles of laundry, or making three square meals a day and countless snacks. My mother-in-law is a great hostess and makes elaborate meals and entertains the children. We will get to see family and friends who we haven't seen for years. The kids will get to meet aunts and uncles and cousins that they have never met before. My husband will get to show off his children to many family members that have never met any of them before. So there is a silver lining.

But the question still remains...is there such a thing as an actual vacation when you are a mother? Because it seems to be quite stressful just preparing for one!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Christmas in...October?!

With all the Christmas talk over at my mom's blog http://www.marypotterkenyon.wordpress.com it has gotten me to think about my own Christmas stash. I may have learned from my mom that you don't start thinking about Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving (known by many as Black Friday) but rather the day after Christmas. Yes, that is right, it gives you 364 days to prepare for next Christmas! I buy all my wrapping paper and Christmas cards when they have 75% off Christmas items and stash them away for the next year. I would cringe if I was forced to buy those products at full retail price when I know just how cheap they go soon after the holidays.

And while I am trying to take a lot of the holiday focus off of gifts and more on family, traditions, and you know...the real reason for Christmas!... I do try to find a little special something for everyone in my family. With so many brothers, sisters, and children of my own the list can be daunting at times. Which is why it is great to think ahead. This year I was finished shopping for one of my sisters in June when I hit a good sale at the mall, combined with a few little things I found on clearance here and there. I have most of my mom's gifts already bought, and one thing for each of my brothers already. It pays to think ahead and buy those perfect gifts that you run across and stash them away. Then you don't have to rush about in December and pay full price for just a gift that has no meaning and was bought at the last minute. My six year old has a big 'ole dollhouse from Melissa & Doug coming her way that I bought last year at over a 50% savings. With the adorable little wooden dolls and furniture that comes with it I am sure I (oops...I mean she) will spend hours upon hours playing with it. So with many of my Christmas gifts already bought I will not be rushing around in December stressing over that perfect gift that I must find. Instead I will be decorating the house, baking goodies, and spending time enjoying the holiday season. Because for me my favorite part of the holidays is not the actual day of Christmas, but rather the month leading up to it when everything seems so magical and wonderful.

Do you shop ahead of time or do you enjoy the rush of the holiday shopping? And are you one of those brave people who venture out on Black Friday? I love to read your comments!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Look What Was Delivered Today...

If you go back to my Wednesday post and read through the comments you will notice that some commenters were confused and thought my hubby got me those flowers, instead of realizing it was the TOPS group that gave me the bouquet. I see now that I wasn't clear in my post. I happened to casually bring up those comments to my husband and he read through them and that was that.

So was I ever surprised today when the floral delivery van pulled up and there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers...sent by my husband! I don't know if your comments guilted him into it or if he just never realized how much I love a fresh bouquet of flowers but boy do I feel special this month - three bouquets of flowers in ONE month! And one made extra special because it was from my husband!

These pictures just don't do it justice but they give you a glimpse of the beauty that is now adorning my hall table!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Frugal Friday

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Are you a bookworm that balks at paying full price for a book? Do you love to collect books but have an empty wallet? I want to let you in on a little secret, Paperback Swap http://www.paperbackswap.com is one of the easiest ways to get a book that you have been wanting without paying full price. It is so easy too! When you sign up you post 10 or more books of your own that you no longer want. Members will order your books and all you do is mail them off. Once your book is received (or if you print your own postage...once it is printed) you earn a credit for your book. You can then use your credit to purchase any book you want through their site. So for the cost of postage you are able to get a different book! I have been doing this for four years and have only lost one book in the mail, which proves the members are all honest and that this site works!
My biggest tip is to start a wishlist on there and once those titles become available you get first dibs (depending on if you are first on the list or not). I have gotten several favorite books this way, one of the most recent being "Home Comforts" which sells for over $30! It is not only paperbacks at that site either, hardcovers and books on tape are also listed. And one of the best ways to get more credit is to pick up books at thrift stores or garage sales for 25 cents and post them for other members to order, or else just go through your overflowing bookshelves and declutter books you no longer want. Not only do you get books you have been wanting but it is also fun to open your mailbox on those days that the books arrive!
There is also Swap A CD which my husband loves and Swap A DVD which we haven't joined yet. If you do decide to sign up with Paperback Swap (and you won't be sorry you did!) please use my e-mail address as your referral babys_mama1 "at" yahoo .com Let me know what you think about that site if you do join!

Do you want to join the Frugal Friday blog carnival? Steal my button at the right of the screen and post it with your Frugal Friday post, or just link back to here. Then come back here and add your website to the Mclinky below so we can check out your frugal tip of the week!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flowers twice in one month?!

I love fresh flowers. My hubby has given me flowers maybe three times in our eight years of marriage so I don't count on him showering me with fresh flower bouquets on a whim. But I have been blessed by receiving two bouquets of flowers just this month! One was when I bought our van, details can be found in a post I did at the end of September. The other was just this past Tuesday when I met my goal at TOPS and became a KOPS. The bouquet is beautiful and makes me smile every time I see it.

TOPS is a weight loss support group that stands for Taking Off Pounds Sensibly. While I never had a lot of weight to loose after the birth of my third child last year I had a little baby weight that I hoped to get off. And I am not good at loosing weight because I just love to eat. I love food of all kinds and sweets and treats and goodies. I realized that I would benefit from having support and having to weigh in weekly. So I joined our local TOPS chapter, which happens to meet right down the street from my house. Every Tuesday night we weigh in and then have a small meeting afterwards. The women there are so encouraging and there are so many helpful hints and tips that they share at the meeting. It does encourage you to try to loose weight if you know you have to face the scale each week and it feels wonderful to be able to say "I lost this week!" at the meeting. And if you gain they don't scorn you but instead encourage you. It works! In the past year I have lost 30 pounds and just recently reached my goal weight (set by me and my doctor) and became a member of KOPS (Keeping Off Pounds Sensibly). And that was why I was awarded a beautiful bouquet of flowers at the last meeting.

Losing weight is a lifestlye change. Too many people go on diets and loose a bunch of weight and then crash and gain it all back. It just is not realistic to limit your food intake so much for the rest of your life, which is why diets just do not work. TOPS tends to work because they teach you to make lifestyle changes that you can keep for the rest of your life. You can lose the weight you want and then keep it off with a few different lifestyle changes. For me it was making sure I took the time to exercise and also cut out a lot of the sweets and fatty foods in my life. I am not deprived, I am just aware. Instead of eating out of the bag of chips I will put some in a bowl so I am aware of how much I am eating and am done when my bowl is empty...not when the bag is empty! Instead of eating a sugary snack I will snack on an apple or eat some fresh vegetables and dip. Little changes like that make a big difference.

If you have been trying to loose weight or are interested in finding your local TOPS group check out http://www.TOPS.org

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Not Me! Monday

I did not continue to go back to our new gas station in town because they had more grand opening specials last week. How can you pass up 50 cent brats, free soda fountain drinks, and more? Since I certainly do not need all that junk I certainly did not go almost every day last week and make those grand opening specials our lunch. I especially did not get excited today when I saw the new advertisement and saw a free coupon for a gallon of ice cream and free iced coffee. Not me!

I did not fall asleep today while putting the toddler down for a nap. I did not wake up ten minutes later thinking "I wonder what the other two kids are doing?" and then decide I was comfy, warm, and still tired and fall back to sleep. An hour later I come downstairs to find that one child had fallen asleep and the other was watching tv.

I did not stick my baby in the bathtub two days in a row after taking his diaper off because it was too messy for me to attempt cleaning him with just baby wipes. I did not splash him clean with water instead. I did not then let him play in the tub (in clean water) while I sat and read a book for 15 minutes. Because if I had stuck him in the tub and had some extra moments while he was busy I would have cleaned the whole bathroom and washed down the floor because it surely needed it. So no way did I waste that time reading.

I did not get mad at my husband after he cleaned out the whole garden for me. I did not ask him, quite loudly, with that tone in my voice why he pulled my strawberry plants out along with the wilted vegetable plants. Because I would have realized that he was just trying to be helpful and just didn't realize that strawberry plants come back year after year and that you don't pull them out by the roots. I certainly did not roll my eyes and sigh and walk out of the house angry.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Snapshots

This little guy really needs no introduction. He is the one who is always on the go, you know, the energizer baby. He seems to have reached the stage of terrible twos a bit early this week and has been screaming and throwing a fit whenever he doesn't get his way. Maybe it has been because he is teething. But of course this active, on the go, never stops baby can not just stop at four front teeth, he had to grow an extra one. That's right...he saw the pediatric dentist last week and it is true that he is growing an extra tooth in the front so he now has five teeth on the bottom in between the canine teeth. The dentist said that he has the room for that extra one so they won't do anything special, just check his x-rays when he is older to see if he has an extra adult tooth as well. It's a relief, but a little strange as well. But my strange child is also a cutie, just look at his face when I caught him trying to sneak up the stairs...

And this is little Weezy, playing outside in the nice warm sunshine today. We have had a beautiful weekend after almost two weeks of gloomy cold days. We spent plenty of time outside today and I got the whole front yard raked while the kids played on the swing set and the dogs pranced around in the grass.
It was a wonderful weekend but went much too quickly. Tomorrow is the start of another week and here we are already into the middle of October. Enjoy the rest of your Autumn as Winter will be here much too soon!

A Review Blog

Today I started a review blog of products that I have tried and enjoyed. I think that it is important to tell other people when you enjoy a product because the best type of advertising is word of mouth. Some of my favorite products are things that other people have recommended to me. From simple things like a favorite shampoo, nice brand of kids clothing that holds up well, vacuum that actually picks up, mops that work wonders, and so on. Several times a week I will list product reviews of things that I love and use myself. So go check it out! http://www.mamaknowsthebest.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 16, 2009

Frugal Friday

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Can you feed your family for $75 a week? This has been my goal all summer, to feed the five of us for $75 a week. This means all food we prepare at home. Occasionally we will go out to eat but that comes from our entertainment money, not our food budget. And hubby likes to get lunch at work so spends $2 a day for that, so that brings it up to $85 a week. But my goal at the grocery store each week is $75. Sometimes I spend a little more and sometimes a little less. The worst times are when I don't write out a detailed menu and shopping list and spend way too much at the store, which just reinforces my thoughts that one must stick to a budget and shop carefully in order not to waste money at the grocery store.

The grocery budget is one of the only areas that we can control. We don't have cell phone bills, cable, or other luxeries that we can cut out. We can't control the mortgage, car insurance, life insurance, or phone bill. It is hard to bring the gas and electric bills down even further so that leaves us with trying to save money in the food department. $75 a week for a family of five gives us about $2 each a day to spend on food, or $15 each a week. It is do-able. And I'd like to see if I can get it even lower.

Casseroles and soups are one of the easiest ways to do this. They typically give us leftovers so end up as two meals or more. And they are an excellent way to get the family to eat their vegetables, although I don't have too much of a hard time with that as the children are not too picky. Pasta dishes are another way to stretch the food budget. Spaghetti, lasagna, cavitini, goulish, manicotti, and more are all dishes that are filling and that we all enjoy. Supper is our large meal of the day so typically the most expensive, maybe averaging out to about $6 for the whole meal.

Lunch is more simple. Leftovers, sandwiches, cheese and crackers, macaroni, or other easy foods. Things we have one hand that are easy to put together. Add a little fruit, a vegetable, and a glass of milk and call it complete.

Breakfast is either oatmeal, Cocoa Wheats (much like cream of wheat), toast, or cereal that we get on sale. Occasionally I will make a brunch on weekends. All those foods are inexpensive, healthy, and filling.

The only way to stick to a budget is to actually sit down and make one. Figure out what you spend on groceries weekly and try to shave off $10 or $20 of that total. Then sit down and make a detailed menu for the week and a detailed shopping list. Stick to your list at the store. It may take a few weeks to see how fesible the budget is that you first wrote out and you can tweek it a little, either cutting it down even further or adding a little extra if you didn't make the cut in the previous weeks. Then you have a base plan of what your family needs to spend weekly and you can stick to it with some creative shopping. Future Frugal Friday postings will deal with saving money at the grocery store and stockpiling.

Do you want to have your own Frugal Friday blog carnival on your blog and share your frugal tips? Steal my frugal button on the right of this blog and post it with your post, also linking back to this site. Then add your link with the Mcklinky below so we can all visit your site!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Confessions of Mommyhood

I took a shower with a cowboy and army guy today.

Please believe me when I say that upon waking up this morning I had no intention of jumping in the shower with a cowboy and army guy. It wasn't even on my mind. Really, what was I supposed to do when I turned around once in the shower and realized that they were there? Kick them out, when they were there first? Besides, they had already seen it all when I first walked in the shower and seemed quite content to just stay quiet and watch so I went ahead and finished my shower with them. It was a hot and steamy shower, but only because it was cold in the house and the warmth quickly fogged up the room.

My husband can't really blame me though, I mean, maybe he even knew that they were in there. Maybe he saw them in there last night and said nothing. Didn't even usher them out of the bathroom but instead left them lying in wait for his innocent, unsuspecting wife. I really blame my son on this one. He is the one always inviting these guys into the house. It's all his fault! I had to take a photo to share this experience with you...

And it wasn't until a little while later that I realized I was showering with two more army guys. What an exciting morning!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Guess What?

Ever since I was a nanny down in Florida for a few months over nine years ago I have been wanting an English Bulldog. I fell in love with the one they had, 'Nana', and just always said I would have one someday. But anyone who has looked for one knows how unbelievably expensive they are. I never wanted to get a dog from a breeder because I just don't support breeding when there are so many unwanted animals in shelters. But after having my name on wishlists and checking petfinder for over a year and seeing nothing (bulldogs just rarely come into shelters) I did start to look at breeders websites. Not because I wanted to buy one (I can't afford that much!) but because I loved looking at puppy pictures.

Fast forward to the other evening when I ran across the website of a breeder who lives fairly close to us. I e-mailed asking if they ever sold the older dogs after breeding age had passed (this happens often in kennels) and was told no but that they had a puppy that they were willing to let go for cheap, if we were willing to come pick her up. And I mean cheap...like actually in my price range cheap. I never wanted a show dog or one for breeding so this would work out perfectly. And while I would like to say that I adopted her from the humane society I do want to point out that in this case I doubt I would ever find a bulldog at the pound. They truly are rarely seen in shelters and the rescues are too far from us to even consider getting one from.

So we now are the owner of a third dog. A "little too much", as hubby says, but come on...I've always wanted a bully! This little girl is an Olde English Bulldog, which means she should have less health problems than a regular English Bulldog. The Oldes are a bit taller and don't have as many breathing or eye issues. Her tail isn't docked so she looks a little more like a pitbull at this point but who can resist the face of a bulldog? She isn't named yet so I'm open to suggestions! Update: Puppy has been named Weezy.

This photo is where she is wrapped up in a blanket for her nap, thanks to Jacob.

And here I unwrapped her for her debut. I'm sure more photos will surface of her when she is awake soon. She is such a sweetie and all the kids are having a blast with her.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Yesterday while cleaning out the kids closet upstairs I did not find a box of Jacob's hand-me-downs that I had almost forgotten about. I did not dig through it to find half the box full of 18-24 month items for Joe. Because Joe already has a dresser that is overflowing so that would mean that he now has even more clothes to add to the already too full dresser. Plus, I am so organized when it comes to the clothing storage system that there is no way I could forget about a whole box of clothing. Not me!

When Joe got ahold of my camera and misplaced it I did not scour the house looking for it only to decide he must have thrown it in the garbage (his new favorite game is to throw everything away). I did not ask hubby to look in the icky garbage bag only to find the camera had fallen behind my desk, right after hubby got to the very bottom of the first garbage bag. Now my checkbook has gone missing (at the hands of the toddler, of course) and I'm not wondering if I should ask hubby to look through the garbage again.

I did not go to the new gas station grand opening almost every day last week just because they were giving away free hot cocoa and coffee and had cheap glazed donuts. Really, I don't need those things even if they are free and so of course I didn't do that.

I did not come downstairs from putting Joe down for his nap to find my other two children gone. I did not call outside for a minute before realizing I should call up my parents who live down the street to see if they were down there. I did not breathe a sigh of relief when I was told that "Yes, they are here" and then actually let them stay there for a few hours so that I could have some time to myself. Because any child that disappears down the street without asking permission must be punished immediately so that they won't do it again, not allowed to stay there and play and have fun just so mama can have a moment alone. That would be foolish and set a bad example!

And finally, I did not stay in my pajamas all day yesterday because they were warm and comfy. I did not figure that since it was cold out and I was missing church anyway that there was no point in getting dressed for the day. That doesn't sound like something I would do at all!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Week Reviewed

It has been a busy week. Actually, my life is just plain busy, period. While I may "just" be a stay-at-home mama I do not lay on the couch watching soaps and eating bon-bons. As a matter of fact, in the last week I have only had the time to watch one and a half hours of television. In a whole week. And I'm fine with that because tv rots the brain anyhow and this whole summer I have probably spent a total of five or ten hours watching television, if that. But what gets me is that so many still think that mothers at home have so much extra free time. That we are bored or have nothing to do. I'm not going to compare working mothers to stay-at-home ones because both jobs are hard but I do want to say that I bet the working mothers get to go potty at work all by themselves or eat lunch alone sometimes. Just saying.

So anyway, this past week has been full of appointments. Dentist appointments for all three kids and just one ended up having her first cavity. Vet appointment for Buddy for his shots to be updated. Eye appointment for Ben who happened to get a piece of metal in his eye. Speech therapy for Jacob who is still going twice a week due to delayed speech.

The errands never stop either. Run to the post office to pick up stamps and mail a package to the winner of the contest here on the blog. Go grocery shopping. Run to Wal-Mart to pick up Ben's antibiotic drops for his eye and grab a package of diapers and a box of kleenex. Drop an ad for our van off at the newspaper office. Drop books off at the library. Run a check to the bank.

And the chores. Please don't get me started on the chores. Washing bedding for the second time in a week due to a child's accident (we won't name names), finishing up going through all the fall clothing and switching everything around in the dressers and closets, laundry that is never ending, dishes that won't stop getting dirty, floors that never stay picked up for longer than a minute, bums that need wiping or changing, food that needs to be prepared, phone calls that need to be made, animals that need to be fed, floors needing to be mopped, spills needing to be cleaned, school needing to be taught.

And all that is done with three little ones trailing along. Peace and quiet is a rare event in this house. A moment to relax is even rarer. Quality time spent with hubby is almost non-existent due to never being alone. Being a stay-at-home mama does not give you more time, more peace, more relaxation. It also doesn't give you a paycheck. But it does give you a reward far more valuable than time or money.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Meet the Pets

Animals are a big part of our family. We have more pets than children and some we have had longer than we have had our children. Growing up I was only able to have the odd hamster or rabbit and I always said that when I grew up I would have tons of real pets...you know, pets that aren't locked in little glass cages and try to bite you when you pick them up.

This giant is Dixie. She is part German Shepherd and part Saint Bernard. We've had her since she was just seven weeks old and here she is seven and a half years later. She is a big girl at 120 pounds but a real sweetheart. She is so patient with the children and puts up with anything, except the vacuum cleaner.

This little guy is Buddy, a purebred Pomeranian. We adopted him from the Humane Society this past spring. He is the typical little yippy dog but we put up with it due to his sweet personality. Becca especially loves him and drags him around everywhere. He chooses a different bed each night to sleep in. I highly recommend adopting a shelter pet and that will be the only place we ever go to again to get a pet.

This strange looking creature is Buttons. Okay, she is a beautiful cat (*cough*) but has been through the ringer. We have had her since she was a small kitten and now she is seven years old. She only has three legs as one of her legs was caught in a trap when we lived on the farm and it had to be amputated. He eye was injured in another incident so she only has partial eyesight in one eye. But she is just a grand cat when it comes to personality. Loves to cuddle and is a "mommy" to the children. Before getting fixed she had a couple litters of kittens but after getting fixed she fell in love with our kids. I noticed this especially last year when I brought Joe home from the hospital. She ran over to him and smelled him all over and then started licking his hair. When I would put him down on the ground for tummy time she would lay right next to him and occasionally groom him and meow. She did this everyday, every time he was on his tummy, until he got old enough to crawl away. She now steers clear of Joe because he is in the tail pulling stage but loves to cuddle with Becca and Jacob, especially in the morning when they just wake up and are zoning out on the couch.

And this scruffy looking guy (the cat, not the baby) is Bandit. Not a very good photo but the only one I could find of him. We have had him the longest, and he is the least personable of all the animals. Pretty much a loner and only affectionate when he chooses to be, which equals to about an hour a year. We got him after seeing a free kitten sign in someones yard and he was dug out of an old junked car in the backyard. Not exactly the perfect place to get a kitten but we have had him for eight years now and he is as healthy as can be.
Do you have any pets? If so, what are they like? If not, do you want one or dis-like animals to a degree? Please do tell!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Frugal Friday

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As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm fairly cheap. Some call it living on a shoestring, some call it "creative with money", and others call it being frugal. Most of the time I just call it cheap, but for the sake of being politically correct I will call it frugal from now on. Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I am very frugal.

So today is the start of my Frugal Friday postings. Each week I will pick a topic on how I save money or what little tricks are up my sleeves when it comes to getting by on less. As a family of five living off one income (and not a big income, at that) I want to point out that it really can be done. It takes some sacrifice to raise a family on one income but it is possible. And even if you don't have to watch every penny, even if you live on a very comfortable salary, it is always nice to save a dollar here or there or use less energy, gas, water, or waste to help the environment. Despite what some may want you to think, being frugal is not being tacky. I am glad that the "Be Green" movement is coming back. I am glad that it is now the 'cool' thing to buy smaller vehicles, live in a smaller space, and use less of the earths materials. While it isn't 'cool' in all circles, it is a trend I hope to see continue.

Is there anything in particular that you would like to see me address? My first frugal posting will be next week! And feel free to grab my button on the right and have your own Frugal Friday, linking it back to my site!

Writer's Block

I'm really not the type to get writer's block, at least not for very long, but this week has been so very hectic that my brain is fried and I just can't think about a post that would be interesting, much less actually make sense. With tons of errands and appointments this week and the dreary weather I am just tired and have zero energy. I need a sunshiny day to perk me up and give me a zap of energy so that I can get everything done on my to-do list (ha, ha - like a mother's list is ever done!).

Tomorrow is the start of the weekend though and with hubby here at home things seem to go much more smoothly. The odds are just against me when it is three kids against one parent, adding another to the mix makes it a much more fair game. This weekend will probably be spent getting caught up on projects around the house and trying to find a spare moment in which to relax. What are your weekend plans?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How Do I Love Thee?

Have you ever found a gadget that seems to make your life easier? I definitely have a few and need to tell you about one that I especially love. See the potatoes on the plate below? See how they look different?

These potatoes are made by using a potato ricer, which I bought at Target for around $10. Just boil potatoes, stick them in the ricer, and squeeze the handle down and you have pieces of riced potatoes, better known as "potato worms" in this family. The potatoes look like little worms and because of this the children gobble them up and ask for more. And because of the light and fluffy texture my husband and I gobble them up. The potato ricer just makes the potatoes taste better...really!

My children aren't typically picky when it comes to food (take notice of the brussel sprouts on the plate, which they love) but anything that encourages them to eat more of a healthy food is a winner in my eyes. Sometimes one must get creative in the kitchen in order to get healthy food into a child's tummy. So my potato worms are my creative way to get the kids to shovel those potatoes in. Similar to when I was a child and my mother wanted to get me to eat chicken livers so she wrapped them in bacon and baked them. Thinking I wouldn't notice what was in the bacon she set a plate before me, only to notice later that I peeled off all the bacon and left the livers on the plate. You win some and lose some. The ricer is a real winner.

As an update to my healthier eating I wanted to let everyone know that in the past two weeks of healthy eating (besides Sunday, which was a birthday feast!) I have lost three and a half pounds. It does make a difference not only in how I feel when I cut out sugar and unhealthy junk, but also in how I look. I'm actually not trying to loose weight as I am at a weight that I like and am trying to maintain but I guess it never hurts to loose a couple more pounds. And when you loose weight by changing your lifestyle it will typically stay off, as opposed to a diet which almost never works and just results in you gaining and loosing the same weight over and over.

It's sunny out this morning and may even reach 60 degrees today, before plummeting to the low 40's for the rest of the week. So I think after school the kids and I will take a long stroll around the neighborhood and enjoy this weather. They need to get their energy out anyway as they have been stuck inside the past couple rainy days and have been climbing the walls. And driving me crazy. So I think it will be a very long walk today. Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tag, You're It!

I was tagged by my blogging friend Tina at www.itmaybeacrazylifebutitisourlife.blogspot.com I am supposed to write seven things about myself that you may or may not know. So here it goes...

1. In my 27 years of living I have lived in about 18 houses. I say "about" because we have moved so much that I am not sure of the exact number. I'm pretty close to the right number though.

2. I went to parochial and public school and graduated as a homeschooler. So I know what all three are about.

3. While I live in town I am a farmgirl at heart. I would love nothing more than to supply most of our food from the land, have a cow to milk, chickens to feed us, and be away from city life. But for now I am content to do what I can with our small yard and basic cooking and simple living.

4. I'm cheap. Like really cheap. I shop sales and do without a lot. I guess that is how we can afford to live on one income in a two income world.

5. I love my family with all my heart. They ground me and make me who I am. I would do anything for my husband and kids and put them before myself at all times. I think that is the way it has to be to be to make a happy family.

6. I got married when I was 18.

7. I have some guilty pleasures. One of them is watching "Desperate Housewives". I know it's trash...and that is why it is a guilty pleasure!

Care to leave one of your interesting tidbits in the comments section? I'd love to learn more about my readers!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not Me! Monday

I did not skip brushing the kids teeth two days in a row. I did not do that because I lost their toothbrushes and couldn't find them no matter how hard I looked and then forgot to buy new ones when I was at the store.

I did not go to a pizza buffet yesterday to celebrate my daughter's birthday and overeat. I am eating healthy now so I would never load up on pizza, cactus bread, loaded mashed potatoes with gravy, and corn swimming in butter. I especially did not skip the salad bar altogether and stick only to the unhealthy fried greasy foods. Not me!

I did not return home from said pizza buffet to slice a huge piece of store bought birthday cake (gasp!) for myself. Greasy food and sugary sweetness?! Not me! And I would never actually buy a birthday cake because we all know I am Martha Stewart's twin and bake all my own cakes.

I did not tell hubby that "we" needed to take the air conditioners out of the windows and put in storage only to sit down and watch him take them out, put them away, and put the screens back in the windows all by himself. How rude that would have been!

I did not buy a bag of licorice and dislike the taste and announce "this stuff tastes gross" only to continue eating it until it was almost gone. That sounds like something only a pig would do! So I definitely did not do that!

Please make me feel better by telling me one of your "Not Me! Moments".

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday!!

It really does seem just like yesterday that my little girl was born and here she is turning 6 today!

What's really strange though is that I am the mother of a six year old. I remember when I was six years old and my mom was about the same age I am now. And I thought she was old. Hmm...wonder what that makes me now?!
Happy birthday Rebecca! We love you to pieces!

And the Winner is...

The winner of the giveaway is...Brooke! Who happens to be the very first entry! Please e-mail me (contact info -------------------->) to claim your prize! Congratulations to Brooke and happy 5th week anniversary to this blog!

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

In celebration of this blog's 5 week anniversary on Sunday I am hosting a giveaway! Just leave a comment below telling me one of your favorite things and you will be entered to win everything pictured below, which are some of my favorite things. It includes: One issue of MaryJane's Farm Magazine, one box of LANG notecards, two bars of handcrafted soap (not by me, I'm not that crafty!), and one tube of Burt's Bees lip balm. Only one entry per person, please, and the deadline is noon on Sunday (the 4th). Winner will be drawn by my daughter, who happens to turn 6 years old on the same day.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy October! Wait...October?!

Really, is it possible that it is October? Like in, the tenth month of the year? Like, summer is officially over, autumn is already started, and here it is feeling somewhat like winter?! Well, I changed the calendar pages today, started writing October on my letters and checks, and people are proclaiming that it is indeed October so that must be right.

But by golly, this whole year has been going so quickly. And I haven't even been doing anything important, besides raising three kids, running a home, and trying for the wife of the year award (okay, that last part is a lie, but I do try my best...most days). It is truly amazing how you can be so immersed in just the daily aspects of life that the days and months just fly by.

Do you remember when you were a child and you measured time by how many months until school was out, or how many weeks until your birthday, or how many days until Christmas? And the time would just drag on and it seemed to take forever to get where you wanted to be? I can tell you that feeling stops the moment you become an adult. All of a sudden time goes super fast and you want to savor the days before Christmas because there is so much to prepare for. Or you need weeks before a birthday party in order to get it all right. And yet the special day sneaks up on you and it is here before you know it. I really think that there are like separate time zones for adults and kids, where kid's have 24 hours in a day and we adults seem to just have 12 hours. I see no other way to explain it.

Wishing you all a lovely, beautiful, joy filled month of October!


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