Tuesday, January 29, 2013


We have been experiencing quite the Minnesota winter this year!!!  Temps ranging from -20 to 45 within a day!  Thunder, lighting, snow, rain, ice - all in the same day.  Sunday morning, hubby took a couple movies back to the library for me, then went to the grocery store to pick up a few things before the weather got too bad....

It was worse than he thought. 

I was sitting in the recliner, and I heard this terrible screeching sound.  Beau looked out the window and told me "Daddy's stuck!"  I went to look, and sure enough, he had the tires spinning on our GMC Safari and wasn't making any progress up the driveway until he slid to the grass.  When I went out with some ice melt, he told me that was his second trip up the driveway.  The first trip up, he parked the van.  It then slid down the driveway and into the road - in park! Scary stuff!!  I was ice skating across the grass, the driveway, and the sidewalk.  (Of course, in normal Minnesota fashion, school was only 2 hours late on Monday.)

Garland and Christmas lights on our front railing - coated in ice
Our front yard - completely covered in ice!

The kids and I hung out in the house while hubby worked on stuff in the addition.  I'm happy to report that we have drywall up!  All the walls are about half covered so far.  It's looking like a real house!!

I don't know why I didn't think about it before, but I finally decided to make homemade pudding pops.  I had bought a large pack of craft sticks (300 or so) for $1.  I also has small paper cups from an interesting attempt at making Jello shots (no one told me I had to add WATER with the alcohol!) so I figured, why not?  In the cupboards I found both chocolate and vanilla - great combo, right?

2 boxes made 15 pudding pops if the glasses are filled most of the way.  I've learned that Scrappy likes them, but can't finish a whole one.  Next time I'll need to make some half size.  Beau liked them so much, she asked if I could make them for when she needs to take treats for Girl Scouts, which will also make them her birthday treats.  We're going to try some combinations of chocolate and banana also.  One thing I did notice is they didn't freeze very well in our fridge-freezer.  When we put them in the chest freezer, they froze solid.

Today Beau had a little bit of embarassment at school today.  She split her pants right up the front.  Who knows how she did it - she's not even sure.  I have been warning her that her jeans seem to be looking a little small lately, even though she thinks they fit.  I took her a pair of pants, then went shopping at my favorite consignment store after school.  I find it almost impossible to buy her most clothing without her with me trying them on.  I think she tried on 8-10 pairs of jeans today before she found one that fit.  She had been wearing 12s and 14s, but none of those she tried on fit.  They were too big or too small.  I found some 'Junior' sized and figured, why not?  Turns out, she fits a 'Junior' size 4!  I let her get 2 pairs.  They were marked with white tags - which happen to be the 50% off tags for this month.  Scrappy wanted to check some stuff out for him too.  I usually browse for upcoming sizes for him while we're there.  Unfortunately there weren't any jeans in the next size for him, but he did score 3 new pairs of jammies on the $1 rack.  My grand total for Beau's 2 pairs of (name brand) jeans and Scrappy's 3 pairs of jammies: $0.62.  The rest was paid for with the credit we earned from consigning the kids' outgrown clothes.  I had also asked about buttons since I will be needing them for some upcoming projects.  She didn't have any, but said to ask every time I come in.  She did suggest I contact our local tailor shop.  Turns out, they have a bunch of them from past projects and will part with them!  I asked how much they'd be and was told it depends on how many I want.  A few would be free.  I asked for a couple dozen and was told $1, maybe $2.  A lot better than the store's rates!  And all I had to do was ask.

And now to leave with something cute.  This is a little project that I started - and almost completed - tonight.  I didn't cut the button holes because I don't have a button for it yet and don't want to cut it too big...  I'm hoping the recipient really likes it!!

My first scrapwork apron :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

On the Mend

I broke down and went to the chiropractor yesterday.  As my luck would have it, the one I usually use is on vacation all week, so I had to try a different one.  One phone call later and I was on my way in.  Of course there is the mandatory stack of paperwork.  I don't know why they need me to repeat my address, phone number, and employment information on every single page... but 10 minutes later I was done with it.  He asked what work I've had in the past and what treatments have worked.  He did ultrasound therapy combined with an electric current therapy.  It. Was. Amazing.

Until he told me to roll over.

I had instant tears when I tried moving.  When I finally got situated, he did the first adjustment.  Then I very carefully - and tearfully - rolled to my other side so he could do another adjustment.  After that I just laid on my back for a few minutes while I caught my breath.  The pain literally knocked the wind out of me.  The doc was hopeful, though, because he said he felt and heard my back move.  I'd still have a bit of pain for a couple days, but he assured me it would be better.

Today I actually managed to walk more than a few steps without almost collapsing from pain!  I was actually able to get out of bed without tremendous effort also!  I felt well enough that I went to my TOPS meeting.  I was quite worried that, with the lack of activity this week, I would have gained.  I was almost ecstatic to find out I actually lost half a pound.  That really made my day!!

But my joy was short lived.

I picked Scrappy up from the sitter and came home.  We had 1 hour to make and eat lunch before we had to leave for preschool.  We ended up not going to preschool.  Again.  We had leftovers.  Scrappy picked what he wanted, then refused to eat any of it.  When I asked him to at least try a few bite, he began fake-coughing and gagging, then yelling that his throat hurt and his head hurt and said he was choking.  It turned into an all-out temper tantrum by the time he was done.  I was about ready to have my own tantrum after about 15 minutes of it!

About half an hour into the tantrum, he finally wore himself out and fell asleep.  I let him sleep until we had to get ready to pick Beau up from school.  Unfortunately the tantrum picked up right where it had left off.

It was just one of those days where I had to remind myself: I chose to stay home with the kids.  And I love being a mom!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A World of Pain!!

I spent some time over the long weekend doing some of what I wanted to do and some of what I had to do.  Some cooking, some cleaning.  I got my sewing machine out and started on a quilt project.  I'm determined this year to make many of the Christmas presents for my family, especially since we have such a large family.  It can get quite expensive buying gift for everyone!!  In case any of them happen to read this, I can't say what I'm making 

When I woke up Sunday morning, my back was pretty sore.  I attributed it to spending a couple hours sewing on Saturday.  As the day wore on, my back pain got worse and worse.  By the time Girl Scouts was done, I was having trouble standing up straight.  By Sunday night, it was literally difficult to breathe at times because of the pain. I took one of my flexeril (was prescribed it for muscle spasms in my back) and an 800 mg ibuprofen (also given the last time I was having severe back pain).  I used the last of the muscle rub too...  It was excruciating to even attempt to roll over in bed!!

Monday it was even worse :(  I went to take a shower, thinking the pain might diminish.  WRONG!!  I had debated staying home, but I had plans to do one last batch of canning with my Opa, and the meat wasn't going to keep much longer without processing.  At least I could do most of the work sitting!!  (We ended up doing 2 batches - 18 pints in the first, 16 in the second - that's a lot of food!!)

Today I kept Beau home from school because her head was hurting.  Scrappy stayed home with a mild fever.  And I was chair-bound from the pain of my back - still!  After my hubby got home, I finally figured out that since we don't have a heating pad, I can just make one.  I have a sewing machine and plenty of rice.  BEST. FEELING. EVER.  I honestly don't know  why I didn't do it sooner!!!  It is soooo soothing.  I really hope this alleviates the pain, since I can't really afford a trip to the doctor (and wouldn't want to with all the flu going around) and going to the chiropractor will require multiple trips.  It would also hurt like crazy!! 

I'm going to relax with my heating pad for a while now and see if this does the trick.  I feel bogged down since I haven't been able to exercise or go walking like this... we'll see....

Friday, January 18, 2013

Starting the Long Weekend

I've always known I'm not a morning person (really, I think mornings should start about 10 am!!) but it seems this week has been a bit worse than regular weeks.  I had thought the changes that I made would be helping the situation.  I'm still going to bed around my normal time - between 10 and 11 most nights - but in the morning I just can't seem to find enough energy to get much of anything done.  Most days I've been doing a workout of some kind, whether it is going to the gym, doing my Wii Fit (Free Step is my FAVORITE if you can't tell!), or I've also been going walking with my Opa. 

But I'm still having a really hard time sleeping.  I wake up several times at night, then in the morning I don't have any energy until around 10 or 11 and usually end up dozing off in my recliner :(  I'm tempted to talk to my doc about if I can take anything to help me sleep - just for a little while.  I'd prefer home remedies, but none of those have been working so far either.

My daughter has a 4 day weekend from school.  We've been getting a lot done today -the first day off.  The kids insisted on making me 'breakfast in bed' except I don't eat breakfast - I usually have a breakfast shake, so that's what they made for me :)  Then, being the nice mommy I am, I put them to work.

I have started an allowance system for the kids, but they have to earn the money, and they can only earn $0.50 each per day.  For Beau, she can do things like help with laundry, take out the garbage, do all her homework with out us nagging her to do it, put dishes away, and take care of the recycling.  For Scrappy, he can earn his by practicing writing his letters, doing quiet reading with me or daddy through 2 books, clean up his toys, and put the silverware away.  I give them what they've earned for the day and they each have a jar to put it in. 

Once a week, the kids have Payday and can take their money out of the jar and divide it up.  Each one has a Save, Donate, and Spend envelope.  Scrappy doesn't earn as much as Beau, so his percentages are 30, 10, and 60.  Beau is a little older and is also working on earning money through helping other people also.  I gave her a little more leeway and let her determine her amounts.  She chose 50, 10, and 40.  When they have enough in their Save envelopes, we will go to the bank to buy savings bonds.  They can choose where they would like to donate their money to.  Beau wants to donate her to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation when we do our annual Great Strides walk.  Scrappy, on the other hand, wants to use his to buy items for our local Humane Society.  (His current ambition is to be a vet.)  The kids can choose what to spend their money on, but they must discuss with us first.  Scrappy had gotten a LeapsterGS from Nana and Papa for Christmas, so he is saving for some new games for it, particularly SpongeBob.  Beau really doesn't have a goal set for hers.  She has mentioned maybe a new game for our Wii system or gift cards for her Nook that Nana and Papa got for her.

Today the kids got a little extra since I kept them busy.  We cleaned the kitchen and started on the catch-all mess in the dining room.  I let them watch a movie for a little while during lunch before we went to the store.  The lady looked at me funny since all I bought was chicken.  I couldn't turn down $0.89/lb for quarters and $1.68/lb for boneless, skinless breasts.  The breasts are for Opa and the quarters are for us.  I cooked the quarters in my roaster for a couple hours this afternoon, then the kids helped to separate the meat from the skins and bones.  That is going to be cooking overnight and part of tomorrow to concentrate it, then will go into the fridge until Monday when we do our next batch of canning.  I decided I just want to do pints since I can do either 7 quarts or 18 pints in a batch.  Easy math.  Besides, a quart of meat is too much to use at one time.

An update on my efforts:

- On my attempt at frugality:  I've been sticking with it!  I really think the meal planning is paying off.  We have NOT been eating out and all of our dinners are done at a decent time

- On my weight loss:  I am down another 1 1/2 pounds this week - yay!!  Keeping busy, walking, and no fast food has really paid off!

The kids wanted pizza tonight, so I made it work in the plan.  We had some pizza crust mixes in the cupboard, so we made pepperoni and mushroom.  I suppose it would be easiest to make a couple big pizzas, but the kids like having their own pizzas.  As a result, we end up making 4 pizzas each time.  But that's ok because everyone gets exactly what they'll eat.  Next time I'm going to try to make bread machine pizza crust.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Making Progress - and trying my hand at frugality (one piece at a time!)

It's been a busy - but productive - week here!!  The kids have been keeping me running (as usual) and I've been keeping myself running!  I've also been doing great with sticking to my resolutions!!!

At my weigh-in on Thursday at TOPS, I was down a full 3 1/2 pounds!!!!  That is about half of what I had gained in the previous 2 months!!!  Honestly, there have been no gimmicks or fad diets or anything like that.  I have a couple of friends who are also on the weight loss journey, but are doing it by taking a lot of medications.  They are losing weight, but I worry about how they will do when they stop taking the medications.

What has been working for me?  Two things, really:

1) I have been writing everything I have to eat and drink (other than water) down.  I'm not tracking quantities or calories or anything like that.  But I think just being aware of what I'm eating helps.

2) Exercise.  I've been doing something almost ever day.  I went walking with my Opa a few times.  Otherwise I have been doing my Wii Fit Step again, for at least a half an hour.  Usually while watching some show of choice, like Grey's Anatomy or something else.

I have been trying to find ways to save money for our family still.  I will be posting various things that I have been doing and how it has helped with our family.  My current projects include:

1) Finding a recipe and making homemade bread that my family likes (after some experimentation, I found my husband likes the recipe for white bread in the Betty Crocker cookbook.  I use my bread machine to make the dough, but bake it in the oven.  He didn't understand why I do that until I explained how the machine leaves a hole in the bottom.  Awesome news on the bread machine - scored it BRAND NEW a the Salvation Army for only $10!!)

2) I have been making homemade laundry soap for over a year now.  (I actually made 2 batches so I always would have some ready.  The recipe I use takes 24 hours until it's ready.  When one bucket is empty, I use the other bucket until it's about half empty, then make another batch in the empty bucket.  I like the leeway it gives me.)  I figure for each 65-load batch I make, I'm saving about $11.20 over buying scent-free, dye-free Tide and getting just as good results, if not better.  If I have a particularly soiled load of laundry, I just set my washer to "heavy duty" and that takes care of it! 

3) Finding more low cost/free entertainment for the kids.  Home Depot offers a free kids' workshop on the first Saturday of each month.  Last Saturday, Beau had to go to make a bird house for Girl Scouts, so I figured why not take Scrappy?  It was free, would teach them skills about using tools and following directions, and would keep them happily occupied for a while. I don't know why we didn't do this earlier!!  But we didn't paint them until today, and they did that at home.... (I had a bit of a headache when we were at HD, and it only got worse with all the pounding!)

She was getting a little frustrated cuz a few nails were bending.

He was so proud - all Mommy did was hold the boards and he pounded
the nails himself(and my fingers a few times!)

They like a LOT of color!

We also got a free night of BINGO last night.  Beau's school had a family night event of Burger BINGO.  

My boys at BINGO

Each person in a family gets a card to play, and each family gets one raffle ticket to start.  For your first BINGO, a family wins a complete meal (hamburgers, buns, ketchup, jello mix, apple slices, 5# bag of potatoes, can of pork and beans, and a half dozen mini Hershey's bars).  After that, a family wins additional raffle tickets.  At the end of the night, they draw for various MOA tickets and for Tiger (school) shirts.  We only won the meal, but that's just fine since they only gave out 100 of them!! (I was the mean mom who told my kids we weren't paying $1 for each slice of pizza and ice cream because we had leftovers at home.  But honestly, our family eats out waaay too much).

4) Starting a price book.  Heather highly recommends it on her site, and has proven over and over again how useful they can be. (Per her recommendation, I checked out and am enjoying a money-savings book also.  I had to get it through inter-library loan, so I have been trying to track down my own.  I found a copy online today in good shape, and should hopefully have it in about a week or so!! I will post more on the book later!)

5) I've successfully learned how to can meat and stock!!!  Found out what I was missing too - it can ONLY be done safely with a pressure cooker.  I managed it - with the help of my Opa!

Meat and stock before sealing.

I'm also keeping a list of all the books I'm reading too.  If someone were to take a look at my Kindle, they would probably laugh.  I admit, I'm a self-help-book junkie!  I'm always reading on ways to help with time management or organization or weight loss or almost anything else you could think of.  I will periodically post my take on the books I'm reading, especially if they are something I find useful!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

There are NO Excuses!!!

It's a decision I need to make! 

NO excuses!

It's easy to find a million reason why I didn't eat healthy today, why I didn't get any exercise today, why I didn't get this, that, or the other done.

I had a 2 day migraine over the weekend.

I donated blood last week. 
We went shopping late one evening last week. 
We ate out. 
I've been good so I deserve a treat. 
It's post baby weight. 
It's my thyroid's fault. 
It's my antidepressants.
I can't get to the gym cuz I don't have someone to watch the kids/there's no school and preschool.

Excuses can't be the reason anymore.  I always seem to find time to watch certain shows on TV or find time to read.  So I need to make the change myself.  I need to push myself because I know I can do it if I try. 

Sometimes I just need a little push to help me. 

Sometimes I just need a swift kick in the rear.

Tonight I was watching The Biggest Loser.  (I had given up on it before because of all the game play and voting people off or getting immunities and not earning them.... and now eliminations have been because they didn't do the work/lose the weight.)  I liked how they brought kids on the show too.  I got the new batteries out and loaded up my Wii remote and my Fit board.  Did half an hour of step while watching TV.

The best part?

Scrappy got his step stool out and was doing it right along with me.

Can't be a much better influence than that on the kids, huh?

I think I'm going to reward myself now... with a nice hot shower :)  (and both kids sleeping!!)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Back to TOPS!

So far so good with the new year!!  I have been working pretty hard on sticking to my resolutions.  Even though I haven't made it to the gym yet this year (Scrappy is still on winter break from school) I have managed to be a bit more active just here at home.  I have been making quite a bit of progress on my sorting and purging project also.  My kitchen is slowly but surely coming to order.  I'll post pictures once I get closer to being done with it.  I've been very persistent with keeping my counter tops cleaned off and getting dishes washed, which was usually something I would procrastinate on.

Yesterday I went back to TOPS for the first time in over 2 months.  I must say, in spite of everything that has happened since last time I was there, including my miscarriage the beginning of November, I'm happy to report I gained only 6 1/2 pounds where I had thought it was more like 10 or so.  I have also been recording EVERYTHING I have had to eat since Jan 1.  I'm still working on my plan to attend as many meetings as possible this year for TOPS.  We talked about officer positions, and I am the #1 choice for President.  However, I have a dilemma.  I no longer have child care for Scrappy.  My friend who had been babysitting for me has a full time job now so she can no longer watch him.  So now the search is on for a morning sitter.  I'm really hoping to get this figured out soon!!!

I'm kind of lacking in the energy department today.  I was told to "take it easy" for the next 24 hours because I donated blood last night.  My husband went with and tried donating for the first time, but unfortunately his blood pressure was a little too high, so he was rejected.  We ended up picking up supper on the way home since it took longer than we had planned.  We ended up eating out the night before too because we spent a couple hours trying to find new snowpants  and winter coats for the kids.  (Normally I pick up new coats for them in early spring when they are on clearance, but their coats were still big, so I didn't get them new ones.  Of course, they had growth spurts now and their stuff is too small :/  But their new stuff should fit this year and next too since they're each a size too big....)  Over the weekend, I need to be sure to cook healthy and plan out meals for next week.  Realistically, we could have had leftovers, but we decided dinner out was just easier (though not healthier).

I'm having some trouble explaining why we need to eat healthy to my daughter.  Beau, like most kids, would prefer chips and fries at every meal.  We got into an argument about breakfast this morning.  She asked what was for breakfast since we had muffins the last 2 mornings.  I told her there are leftover muffins, granola bars, cereal, or toast.  Of course, instead of having a granola bar, she wanted one of Scrappy's high calorie/high fat bars for breakfast.  Then she decided that if she couldn't have one, either could he.  Which started the argument about who is the parent in the house.  Hubby and I then explained to her - again - why Scrappy needs high calorie and high fat foods and she doesn't.  She is a little overweight already - not enough to be concerned about, especially since she's only 9 - but I don't want her to have to go through a lot of what I did dealing with weight problems.  If she can learn healthy eating habits now, it will help her in the long run.  I've been trying really hard to set a good example, including passing on junk food, limiting sweets, planning healthy meals, and being active.  I really don't know what else I can do to help her more....