Friday, December 31, 2010

This Mom's Top 10

With a new year just hours away (and the family quietly watching a movie!) I have a moment to reflect on all the best parts of 2010 for our family.

10. Getting rid of disposables. (napkins, paper towels, diapers, wipes, sandwich bags)
9. Researching schooling options and making educated choices to suit all the kids (#s 1-3).

8. Watching Kid #1 gain confidence in himself as he explores team sports.

7. Watching kid #2 blossom.  She works so hard!

6. Homeschooling kid #3 (most days).
5. Hubby's pride in providing a deer for the freezer.
4. Getting better at this blogging thing.  (A goal to improve in 2011!)
3. Family movie night, family game night, Little House on the Prairie night.
2. Experiencing pregnancy (perhaps for the last time).

1. The arrival of kid #4.

Here's to a wonderful 2011!  Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From us to you!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Kid #3's Christmas Eve Breakfast

Every year for the past couple kid #3 and I have created the "Monkey Bread" breakfast that I adapted from a Pillsbury recipe I found.  It works great with  little helpers.

We call it :

Kid #3's Monkey Bread Breakfast

2 packages of Pillsbury refrigerator MINI Cinnamon rolls
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 bundt pan greased

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Separate the mini rolls and roll each one in the sugar then put in the pan.  Fill the entire pan all the way around with the 2 packages of rolls.
Bake in oven for 20-25 or until golden brown.  Place plate over the top of the pan and flip.
Frost warm bread with the packaged frosting and serve.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Motivated Moms 2011 Planner now available

Last July, I purchased the Motivated Moms planner for half the year at a discount.  While I didn't get into the routine of using it every week, I love the idea of having a plan for each week.  For $8 you can print off a to do list for all of 2011.  As luck would have it, there is now an app for that!  For $9.99 you can download and app to your iPhone or ipod touch.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mailing Lists

In another effort to curb my household spending I have removed myself from most of the email mailing lists I was on.  It was a last ditch effort, especially as the holiday sales started (in October).  I would see a "great deal" and feel compelled to visit the site.  Now the only way I am reminded to check the sites out is to actually need something.  So Good-Bye, William Sonoma, Pottery Barn, L.L. Bean, Lands End and Hanna Andersson.  If I need something, I'll let you know!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What Is A Mom To Do

It is that time of year, the days are short and the weather is cold.  If your house is like mine there are children looking for things to do.  Oh sure, Lego sets and play kitchens might buy you a little time, but I have compiled a short list of things you can try the next time your kids shout, "I'm bored".  These items will be long on fun and short on money.

1. Take a hike -  Bundle up and get outside for a walk.  Tell your child you are going to look for all the things that are different in your neighborhood or the park this time of year.  Pack a snack and some hot cocoa in a thermos.  We love this book: I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature

2. Go sledding - Much like #1, this is a ton of fun and great exercise.  After all the fresh air maybe they will nap.

3. Go to the library - Most local libraries are full of activities.  Catch a drop-in activity or browse the shelves yourself.  The bonus, you can leave there with a whole bag of things to do when you get home.

4. Cook something - Go through your cookbooks with your kids and pick something.  It is a great way to get them to try something new and have fun too.  We like this cookbook: FamilyFun: Cooking with Kids.

5. Family game night (or day) - Get out those checkers, Monopoly or a deck of cards.  Turn off the T.V. and see who sinks the Battleship.

6. Have a picnic inside - Kids love to pretend.  Pretend winter is over and you are having a special picnic lunch.  Spread a blanket on the floor and serve lunch there.

In all the years I have lived in Michigan I have come to realize that winter comes every year whether I am ready or not.  With these activities I can make those crazy days with bored kids a bit easier.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This Mom Recommends...

No Whine with Dinner I LOVE the Meal Makeover Moms.  I "like" them on Facebook, subscribe to their podcasts, and now I have their cookbook.  This is their second book called No Whine with Dinner.  It has 150 recipes that your family will actually eat!  It also includes 50 tips for getting kids to try foods.  I am proud to say that they selected a tip I suggested (Tip #16 in the book!).  My kids were so excited to see their names in the book although they mentioned that we needed to call The Moms and add kid #4 to the list! 

For fun, I will be trying and reviewing the recipes in this book in January.  The kids and I are ready to get started.  There are several gluten free options.  For the ones that aren't I will make substitiutions.   I will post our adventures throughout the month.  I am going to let each child pick 2 recipes and I will choose 4.  That will be 10 recipes total.  Stay tuned to see what we think!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wrapping up the week(s)

I added the (s) because it has been a couple of weeks since my last wrap up. 

Mom: In addition to wiping everything off with disinfecting wipes, I have been working on getting the clutter contained and organizing the house.  Kid #4's bed arrived along with a dresser and that has pretty much filled the room and is forcing us to stay organized.  There isn't room for much else.  The big girls have drawers under their bed and the next time I am at Target I will get a under the bed storage container for the crib. 

I have been looking through some cookbooks.  I am in a bit of a dinner rut.  I am hoping to get energized with meal planning this week.  Even though it is easier in the long run, I haven't had the time to do the prep up front. Recipe ideas would be appreciated. 

We are getting the house ready for Christmas.  Each child has their own Advent calendar as well as our wreath at dinner.  Decorating is happening in earnest this weekend.

I am reading the A Little House Christmas Treasury: Festive Holiday Stories to the kids at bedtime. 

Kid #1: He has been busy with third grade homework.  He receives a packet every Friday that is due the following Thursday.  He has been doing a good job planning his time.  Basketball season started today.  In addition to religious education, Cub Scouts, and piano lessons, he is one busy kid.  We are also doing some projects at home (but not as many as I had hoped!).  He recently found books by Mike Lupica.  They are sports themed.  Million-Dollar Throw is the one he picked up at the book fair.  They are right up his alley.

Kid #2: A wheelchair she can drive herself has been ordered!  I will devote a whole post to that as soon as it arrives.  It is our hope it gives her the independence she desires.  She has also been really talking up a storm.  She seems so much more engaged in what is going on around her.  She is doing something new almost every day.  We had an evaluation at Therapeutic Riding last week.  She has done hippotherapy (horseback riding) before.  We are eager to do it again.  She loves it.  We hope to start this spring.  As far as schooling, we are doing lots of folder games, tray work and art projects.  She is a busy kid too.  She is a Daisy scout, attends religious education and music therapy. 

Kid #3: We have been struggling with homeschooling lately.  She hasn't been feeling well and neither have I.  In addition, I have been so busy getting "work" done and she has been coming along.  Now that the learning room is taking shape we will be planning to get back on the plan next week.  We are doing letter H and writing numbers.  This is not to say she has not been doing anything.  She is the resident queen of art projects, is always writing up a storm (spelling the names of our family members and pets), has been in the dress up box every day and does the afternoon school with her sister.  She is only 4 years old!!

Kid #4:  She didn't get the horrible cough that made its way through our house.  Thank God!  She is now sleeping with her sisters and sometimes 5 or 6 hours a night!   A couple nights ago she rolled over.  The other kids were so excited!  She will be 4 months old this week.  I can't believe she has been here that long.

I am linking up with Jen's blog.  Click here to see what others are doing.

Budget Update

More ebay items: $105.00
Resale Shop: $60.00
Couponing: $33.75

Total this Update: $198.75
Year to Date: $5476.68

Friday, December 3, 2010

This Moment

No words just a picture of a moment I want to remember.  For more moments visit SouleMama.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Little House on the Prairie Night

At our house, Friday night is Little House on the Prairie night.  I purchased Little House on the Prairie Season One about 2 months ago.  We all look forward to Friday nights so we can share a special snack (buttered popcorn, movie snacks, graham crackers and Nutella) and watch one episode.  It is the night I look forward to all week.  My kids ask throughout the week if it is "Little House" night.  This show has so many lessons, history and wholesome entertainment.  We put Season Two on our Christmas list.  I hope we get it!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pardon the interruption.....

...A horrible cold/cough/sinus thing has been hanging around our house and most specifically with me for the last 3 weeks.  I have lacked motivation or energy to do much blogging.  Add to that the kids are not sleeping well and hubby being gone a few nights, you get the idea right???

I will be back in a week or so to begin Advent and the new year with a plan.  Until then rest assured that I am working on something.  I hope to have some real work done.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I will be cooking with my kids this year.  I am thrilled. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu

Since making the decision to stay home for Thanksgiving we have been discussing what we are going to do to make the day special.  We have a "family feast" every New Year's, so the kids know the drill.  They are expecting turkey, mashed potatoes (and gravy) and cranberries.  My husband likes the canned stuff, so we are getting that too.  I found a recipe for gluten free green bean casserole and my kids love squash.  I want to make some gluten free biscuits (cheesy ones, says Kid #1).  We will have a complete menu together in a few days.  We are also going to get the table decorated and ready.  If I trace one more hand turkey...

Most importantly, we are talking about what we are thankful for, really talking about it.  I think the kids are sometimes surprise at what my husband and I are thankful for at the end of the day.  Things like Kid #1's drawing, having everyone together at the end of the day are really what matter most.  I really want to spend the day together giving thanks, having fun, and cooking and eating together.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Budget Update

We have made a few sacrifices for the sake of the budget since I last updated the budget.  I am still not buying formula (7 more weeks X $20 = $140).  I will soon see a return on the cloth diapering and wipes.  I also sold the small gDiapers on eBay and made a little of the expense back.

 I have also posted some other items on eBay and Craig's List.  My "profit" has been $285.  I have other items listed and continue to go through drawers, closets and plastic totes to find other things we had to have, but now don't use.  I had a love affair with collectible baskets when I had dispensable income and now am slowly listing those on eBay.  I also thought my daughters needed a "playdress" in every color and have sold a few of those (I did save some of those for #4!  They are too cute, but not cheap!)

I have saved $83 in coupons since my last post.  I also have cut back on the number of trips to the grocery store.  We are making due with what we have and avoiding the extra that goes in the cart.  We have opted out on Thai food (a savings of $40) once and have eaten homemade pizza twice (a savings of $35).

The most difficult change was that we cancelled an annual family holiday trip.  The kids were disappointed, but are now looking forward to planning the weekend at home.  The cost of lodging has been inching up over the last couple of years.  We had been spending money on a large buffet dinner, all other meals out, a trip to the Christmas store, quarters for video games and the outlet mall.  When I sat down and did a rough estimate, the cost was around $900!!!!  I couldn't believe it!  The kids know we are on a plan and I promised them we reach our goal - a goal they have helped plan - it will be worth it!!!

Savings since last update: $1483
Savings to date: $5277.93!!!!  I made it to $5,000.  I will keep track through December and then January 1st I will begin a new budget challenge.  Next year $5,000 more.  This will be tougher because I can't count the cable downgrade, vacation cancelling, etc.  What else can I sell on eBay?

Friday, November 12, 2010

This Moment

This is a moment, without words, I want to take time, savor and remember!!  For more visit Soulemama.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wrapping up the Week

Kid #1 says there are fewer pictures of him, so I am adding one with this post. 

Mom:  I am happy to say I got a few organizational things done this week.  I straightened and organized the front coat closet.  I took inventory and ordered winter boots for #1 and #3 (#2 can wear a pair we already have!).  I also took all the 0-3 month clothes out of the girls' room and replaced them with all the 3-6 months.  I also am beginning to formulate a plan for the Christmas card.  I didn't do one last year and need to get one together soon. 

Kid #1: He spent the beginning of the week preparing for the Space Derby for Cub Scouts.  He is finishing up Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and was excited to see Sam Bradford on the cover of Clubhouse magazine (From Focus on the Family).  He and my husband went to the state capitol for a field trip.  They also went to a Michigan history Museum.  When they returned, my husband told me he had a new insight about my desire to homeschool full time.  (Hooray!!) 

Kid #2:  We have been doing some tray work.  She is also trying out a wheelchair she can drive herself.  Hopefully, that decision will be made next week.  She is also talking a bit more and pulling herself up to standing everywhere.

Kid #3: She was a bit under the weather this week.  She had a horrible cold and was less than interested in official schooling, so we took a bit of a break.  That is the best part of homeschooling is that we didn't miss a thing!!

Kid #4: She has moved into the next size (as mentioned above) and is staying wake for longer portions of the day.  She smiles so sweetly. 

I am hoping to get a few more things organized this week: the learning room/office, the basement, and the kitchen.  I also hope to get the Christmas Folder together and be closer to figuring out the holidays.  I also want to get the lessons planned through the end of the year. 

I am linking to

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Packing a Shoebox

At my son's last Cub Scout meeting a member of a local church came to discuss Operation Christmas Child.  This is a great program where you and your child fill a shoe box with trinkets and toys, wrap it (box and lid separately) and then drop it off at a local drop off center.  The boxes are sent to countries all over the world.  It is the first or only gift a child gets each year.  For a $7 donation along with the box, you can track your box and will know where it goes.  We were told that if we write a letter the child might write back.  We are going to do one box together as a family and the kids might have a fund raiser or two (lemonade stand, or something) to fund raise to fill their own boxes next year.  Go to this website for more information.  We have to have our box filled by November 21, so if you are interested you need to act soon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Target Practice

Let me first say, weapons make me nervous.  We have always had a "no weapons" policy at our house.  My husband and I feel that guns, knives, bows and arrows are tools and once the kids were old enough he'd teach them how to use them.

Kid #1 was introduced to archery and BB guns in Cub Scouts.  He was hooked! (And my husband was thrilled!) 

Recently on a trip to my parents' house in northern Michigan the kids had the wide open space to shoot target practice.  Everyone got in the act.

I am not sure how many shots hit the target, but it was a wonderful way for the kids to spend a fall afternoon with their dad!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wrapping Up the Week

Here is a glimpse of the week we have had here.

I also did get some clothes sorting this week, but more needs to be done and I need to make a list of what to buy.  That and the learning room are my goals this week.  I printed off the pages for my Christmas notebook and have begun planning that (in my head!).  Thanks, Jen.

We baked and frosted pumpkin cookies and frosted GF cupcakes(baked ahead).

Kid #1: He gave up on Percy Jackson.  I did think it was a bit much for him, but I let the decision be his.  He returned it at the library for Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  A bit more entertaining to an eight year old.  He also did a bit of work in the Rosary notebook and earned some belt loops for Cub Scouts.

Kid #2: She had her first Daisy Scout meeting this week.  I am the leader and it was just a parent/organizational meeting, but I think it will be fun for both of us.  She had PT and music this week and spent sometime working on the Rosary book.  She selected Franklin's Halloween at the Library.

Kid #3: She learned the Our Father this week!  It was G week.  She had music and swimming this week.  She worked in the Rosary book.   She decorated pumpkins for her grandparents.  She has been reading Halloween books like crazy.

Kid #4: She is growing so quickly.  Her pile of new/used cloth diapers arrived.  They are in great condition and came at a great price.

I am linking at Forever, For Always, No Matter What.  Check out what others did this week!

Friday, October 29, 2010

This Moment

This is a moment in time to remember...For more see Soulemama.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How to Stretch a Jar of Sauce

 I don't like to buy the "cheap stuff" when I comes to pasta sauce, but I am often too busy to make my own.  I have started slow cooking my own semi-homemade sauce in an attempt to stretch the family budget.

In the slow cooker I start with ground meat (This time it is buffalo from our CSA, but I have used grass fed beef, venison or turkey) and cook it right in the slow cooker.  Once it is done I add one jar of sauce, one can of diced tomatoes, one can of tomato sauce, minced onion, a pinch or two of garlic powder and veggies on hand. (Today I had sliced mushrooms, but I have used diced green pepper, carrot, or real onion if I have one.)  This cooks all day and when I am ready I just boil the pasta and serve.  I priced the whole dish out and here is how it breaks down for us:

1 jar organic pasta sauce $2.99 (with coupon)
1 can organic diced tomatoes $1.19 (on the closeout - they changed the label)
1 can organic tomato sauce $1.10 (by the case at Costco)
Leftover mushrooms $1.49

This $6.77 added to $3.00 worth of pasta (including a small batch of GF) and $.89 reduced Italian bread feeds our family for $10.66 and that includes lunch for hubby and Kid #1 the next day!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rosary Workbook

When wrapping up my week last week I mentioned that we were working in our Rosary workbook.  I ordered 3 of these books through Pflaum, a company I saw advertised in a Cathecist magazine at church.  I have used several of there publications and have found them fun for the children and inexpensive for the family budget.  I had begun quiet thought about the Rosary and listened to The Catholics Next Door podcast and they have recommended praying the Rosary as a family.  My hesitation was I wasn't comfortable enough with how exactly to do it.  I knew all the prayers and (most of) the mysteries, but didn't want to do it "wrong". 

When I left for the hospital to deliver Kid #4 I got in the car (contractions and all) and realized I had forgotten my Rosary.  When I ran back in the house, Kid #1 ask me what I had forgotten.  He just received a Rosary for his First Communition and said, "when you get home can you teach me to use mine, too!"  I knew I was being called to figure it out.

Since October is the Month of the Rosary I decided we would learn together.  I ordered these books as a starter.  I have to say, it is a bit advanced for Kids #2 and #3, but each does what they can and Kid #1 LOVES helping them.

I must say I am having lots of fun and we are all learning a lot. 

Our goal - One decade a night and one whole Rosary a week.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Wrapping up the week

This week I have tried to set in place a plan of attack.  The kid #4 is sleeping a bit more predictably, so it is easier to plan to get things done.  She is also engaging herself in a few toys which makes things a bit easier.

Mom's week: I am still reading The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body, and Soul and caught up on a few magazines that had been cluttering my bedside table.  I also am making the seasonal and size clothing exchanges.  I have started a pile in the basement and will be researching when the next Mom to Mom sale is in the area.  A complete inventory of winter needs will happen next week.  I am also drawn to the idea of a family closet.  I am not sure how it would work here, but I could use the extra room!

Kid #1:  He is continuing to read Percy Jackson and has been working on his religious medal for Cub Scouts.  We have started doing a workbook together about the Holy Rosary.  I hope to post the details and pictures next week.

Kid #2:  No seizures this week!!  She checked out Brown Bear, Brown Bear at the library.  She loves all of those books.  She can approximate the words as she "reads" that book.  She will look at it over and over.  I see an Eric Carle unit in our future.  Because of the pattern, Kid #3, not a reader yet, will sit and "read" it to her.  Kid #2 loves it, Kid #3 loves being a reader, and I only have to read it 20 times a day instead of 40!  Also, a new, trial wheelchair arrived this week.  Hopefully she will learn to "drive" it herself.  One more step on her road to independence.  She is also doing a Rosary workbook in her own way.

Kid #3: F is the letter of the week.  We continued counting - everything, including Rosary beads - and in Spanish too with help from Kid #1.  Halloween is on her mind.  We have made pumpkins, bats, witch hats and spiders.  We also attending a parent/child group this week together.  She helped decorate pumpkin cookies for a party Friday night.  She is working on a Rosary workbook too!

Kid #4:  As I mentioned her naps are more predictable.  She is also really starting to become aware of her surroundings.  This week I bought her a mirror and got out a few bright rattles for her to stare at.  She is sucking her thumb!  I might hate that later, but it is SO cute now. 

My goals for next week are more progress on the basement and kitchen, a least 3 blog posts, develop a winter clothes inventory and HALLOWEEN celebrations.   We will see how I do!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

This Moment

A moment in time to remember.  For more visit SouleMama.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wrapping Up the Week

I am going to take a stab at wrapping up our progress each week.  I got inspired by my friend Jen. (Check out her blog.  It is amazing!)

My List: This week I made a new recipe that I have wanted to try.  I made chicken and reviews were mixed.  I need to make it a bit spicier for my husband.  I will try it one more time with a few changes before I post the the crock pot, super easy!

I am reading The Handbook for Catholic Moms and have been catching up on the chapters in The Portable Pediatrician that directly relate to kid #4.

Kid #1: We are working on a few Cub Scout items as well as practicing cursive writing.  He also is quite an artist, so he spends a fair amount of time drawing. He finished the book Alvin Ho and has started the first Percy Jackson.  Together we are reading The Magician's Nephew.  He is quite the reader.  During piano lessons, he mastered 2 songs on the first try!!

Kid #2: At physical therapy this week she continued to work on walking.  She is really coming along.  She also experienced a couple of seizures this week, which threw our week for a bit of a loop.   We did dough and painting as part of our Tray Work.  The Halloween books came out of storage this week, so we have been reading Dora's Halloween and Curious George's Halloween all week.

Kid #3: This is E week, a letter dear to her heart!  We did come printing practice and 1 to 1 counting this week.  She does the tray work with #2 and did a few other art projects.  She and #1 are making a comic together.  She LOVES Little House (like her mom!) and has been reading Sugar Snow (My First Little House) and A Little Prairie House (Little House).  No swimming this week, but she, Kid #4 and I went to a pumpkin patch with a play group we belong to.

Kid #4: She had a 2 month checkup and is a big, healthy baby (Thank you, God).  She also has begun to sleep 5-6 hours a night!!!!  At the pumpkin patch, she went on her first hayride.
Looks excited, huh?