Thursday, January 30, 2014

Menu Planning Meets Monthly Shopping

If you've read my blog for any length of time I am sure that you have heard me prattle on and on about how we work on a monthly grocery shopping system.  I love it.  LOVE it!  We've done this for years now but now that God has blessed us with a deep freezer I am loving it even more.  

The gist of it is that we live in a city surrounded by Amish land so once a month we drive around to smaller country shops run by cute amish families and stock up on groceries...some are salvage stores, some are local butcher shops, some are dented can type places.  There I can fill my fridge and freezer with some real beauties of bargains!  Seriously, we pray before (as) we go...that God will bless us with what we need.  That God will provide for us (and our budget!) through these trips.  And he always does.  But buying in bulk sometimes eludes me from meal planning.  I generally find myself buying general types of ingredients and then later on trying to piece together what I have to make meals.  It seems to work super, fabulously well the first part of the month but leaves me with large gaps of missing ingredients for recipes the last part of the month.  


The farthest away place we go takes about 45 minutes on the interstate, so it does take some time and gas, but if you are getting a lot like we do then it is definitely worth the trip.  Here are some of my all time favorite finds: 

5 pounds of Starbucks whole bean coffee for $14.97
King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat flour, 5 pounds, for $1.99
Fage case of 12 blueberry yogurts for $1.99
32 ounces of Chobani vanilla yogurt for $0.50 

And the list goes on and on!  

Well anyway, I love my bargains but my problem has been the difference that falls between shopping at these places and my meal plans.  For example, I've made a menu plan with something like clam chowder, but when I get to my said bargain stores, I can't find any of the ingredients I need.  So then I buy some of the ingredients, get home and discover though that I don't have all of the I am forced to shop our local grocery store where I pay two to three times more than I should on ingredients, thus cutting into my savings.  

So this week, rather than be daring and inventive with my meal planning, I decided to stick with meals containing ingredients I already have on hand or what I know, know, know is at our discount stores.  This way I will be able to plan good food ahead of time so I can be on top of my menus and save lots of money.  

To get ideas for meals I asked my dear friends on facebook, am perusing pinterest, and am going through the stack of magazines I have on hand.  I am going through to plan what I am going to serve for the entire month...breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day of the month.  With only 28 days in February I figure this is a good month to start my new system :)  

Wish me luck as I tackle menu planning.  And I'd love to know if any of you have any pointers for planning meals or maybe some of you have some amazing recipes to share :)  

Look for my next post as I list what I am planning on making :)  
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Music and Munchies...there's nothing sweeter

 This morning Emma had a cough so I kept her in bed to take it easy.  I know it was just a little cough...she didn't have a fever or anything (well I guess she did have a touch of a stuffy nose) but to tell you the God's honest truth I am terrified of any of my children getting H1N1 and dying.  I know that sounds extreme but, show up with a little cough and I am putting you in bed.  Just be warned :)
 Anyway, I had a doctor's appointment this afternoon so cough or no cough, the kids had to go to their art classes.  Before we left though we stopped to have a little jam session...Emma on the electric guitar and Cal on the drums.  They got really hot and heavy into it when I went out to warm up the car. When I came back in you would have thought they were acoustically torturing something :)
 two, three, four...In case your noticing, yes I still have the price tag on our drums...don't judge  :)
 And Emma on the guitar..strumming away on the stand, silly girl.  She had to squeeze in next to all of the cookies we are selling for Girl Scouts :)

Anyway, as mentioned earlier I had a doctor's appointment.  It was my annual exam..."the lady one" as my husband says :)  I hate those appointments, don't you?  I have no earthly reason why but the week coming  up to it I am terrified for no apparent reason. I think I am always scared they are going to find breast cancer or ovarian cancer, or tell me I have a week to live.  Something awful like that.  But no lumps were found and no one said "ewww" when the sheet was lifted so I think up to this point I am in the clear :)

In honor of that I picked the little goofies up from art and then proceeded to snuggle up with a chocolate piece, a giant cup of coffee, and a teachers catalog.  A successful appointment calls for a little celebration right?  And besides they might call tomorrow with news of the death outcome so I'd guess I'd better enjoy things while I can, right?  :)

Seize the day, folks, seize the day!
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Monday, January 20, 2014

I Called a Break!

This morning has not been easy for us.

In fact, it's been down right rough.

Except for the fact that I did find that I managed to not yell and scream and rant and rave on and on.  Well, at least not very much.

Instead I sent them to their rooms to rest for a bit.

If I'm honest with myself and with the littles, the truth is that it's not just them, it's me too.

Last week I worked out (which I'll proudly tell you I do every week) but this time I did some zumba.  With weights which was the new part for me.  It was hard but the hard part was that when I awoke the next morning I could barely move.  I think I had done something to my back.  Well, I know I did something to my back, what it was that I did remains a mystery.  Anyway, what basically laid me on the couch all last week also affected our house and the chores and everything else.

And so while I awoke with a great feeling back this morning I also came downstairs to what looked like some type of extreme cleaning reality tv. challenge.

And so it was with this knowledge of me sifting through everything and coming to the bottom of what was bothering me that I knew what I had to do.  After several pep talks with myself on how homeschooling isn't always about what's in the books I paused school to have a talk with the kids.  And to explain that we are now going to clean everything...together.

At least that was the plan.  But seriously, what kid wants to clean the entire day?  So I sent the kiddos outside to play in the snow while I had a mad dash around the house, tidying things up.

After lunch it was a lot better.  I think sometimes you have to relax the rules in homeschooling to get through the day.  School at home doesn't have to be like school in the classroom.  The kids learn and thrive outside and getting to be able to move about and not be strapped to their desk all day with their Mommy School Marm hovering over them.

Plus, there's always tomorrow, Lord willing :)

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Just Another Manic Monday...

Well it's 8:30 here on Monday morning and the kiddos are still sleeping.  Yes I know I should wake them up, but if they are sleeping their little bodies must need the rest, right?  I'm going with that...

As I struggle to wake them up I thought I would give a little update on what we were up to last week and still are :)  
 This is Frank.  He's our new tape dispenser.  Cute, right?
 This is our my method of sharpening all of the oodles of pencils we go through.  I think it might be time to invest in an electric pencil sharpener.
 Last week when we had the snow bonanze come through we were treated to an ice show on our windows.  So beautiful to see God's patterns and designs in our lives.
 This was one of those weeks that we didn't get through as much as we should have.  So I'm trying really hard to not freak out about it like I usually do.
 Emma's cursive.   While it's still a little too up and down for cursive, she is doing amazing with it!!!  I had oodles and oodles of people ask me how she does with this so I thought I'd give an update!  Here she is writing out her spelling words.  
 After we read our history lesson I will often have Emma narrate it back to me, I'll write it out and then she copies it.  Which is what we had done here.  I love her interpretation of the 95 theses of Martin Luther.  "You don't have to do a bunch of funny stuff to have God love you."  Amen sister!
Emma's Math!  Grrr!  This girl is phenomenal at math but HATES doing it.  It definitely is a weird combination but I'm happy she is good at it.

Hope you all have a Happy Monday!!!! :)

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Birthday Letter to Cal

This is a letter I wrote to our son for his sixth birthday.  Hopefully I'm not the only Momma who's dealt with these feelings and someone can relate to me.  Love y'all.

Dear Baby Bear:

Today you turn 6 years old.  While it is so very, very hard for me to look back and see how fleeting our moments of your youth have been, I can also look back on them with such a warm pride in my heart.  For as many obstacles we have faced together, I know there are so many more moments of success you will experience as you get older and spread your wings to fly.

When you were teeny, tiny you would never let me hold you.  It was so hard on me as your Momma to not have a snuggling button who wanted to be with me all the time.  I had no idea then that that would be just the beginning of the things to come.  The challenges we would face together, the triumphs we would soar through...small ones that in the world's eye wouldn't even matter.

Not having a snuggly baby forced me to discover how God made you how He wanted you, not how I envisioned you to be.  In truth, You have been the biggest obstacle in my lifetime.  And in that, you have been the biggest blessing in my lifetime.  And so it is with tears in my eyes that I want to thank you.  I hope you can one day look back on this letter and read how what was a struggle to you helped me to be a better person, Christian, and hopefully Mother.  And I have you to thank.

Thank you for teaching me the many, many ways to love.  Snuggling was how I knew to love a baby.  When that wasn't meant to be I sought other ways.  You liked to be held away from my body so we could look at things together.  Experiencing the sunrise outside your window together was how you wanted affection.  Me just being with you in the same room was enough for you to know I loved you.  I was here for you.  And I wasn't going anywhere.

Thank you for teaching me that someone can know love even though they can't show it.  When you were three years old you told me for the first time that you loved me.  The tears flowed and I couldn't stop them...didn't want to stop them.  And as much as those words meant to me, we both knew before that that you loved me.  You taught me that I don't need to hear those words to know in my heart how someone feels about me.

Thank you for making me question God.  I know that sounds strange but it is profoundly true.  When we first found out you were Autistic my whole world came down.  Literally.  I couldn't get out of bed.  I had family members telling me ways it was my fault.  I had people telling me over and over that "God gives special kids to special mothers" and I thought it was crap.  Pure garbage. I just remember thinking "why me God?" Why?  I questioned why God would want me to be your Mom, how on earth he could ever find me qualified.  How anyone could ever think I could do this.  Your Daddy reminded me that there is nothing wrong with you, only different.  And I slowly began to see how I need to align my view of you to God's, not try to force God's creation into a box I've designed with my worldly, sinner hands.

Thank you for drawing out my inner hidden passion.  I can still remember the stinging words of hearing you being called a retard.  Of seeing kids not want to play with you on the playground and the tears in yours eyes as you ran to me confused and sad. Of being called  a maniac by a friend and your deep hurt you hid inside you.  And to this day I still have that passion, that fire in my heart to fight for you.  To be your advocate, your friend, your protector from bullies, big or small, in this world that can be so cruel.  You were the first one to draw that spark out of me.  To "Mommy Honey Badger" someone because they accosted my child.  You showed me what I am capable of.  What I can be capable of.  What we can be capable of.  What anyone with a voice and a passion and a cause worth fighting for can be capable of.

Thank you for teaching me that you really are better than everyone else.  You may not be able to understand to not stand on the couch but you're the only one I've ever met that can still experience pure joy from standing on a couch every day for three years.  You don't know how to filter what you say but you are also incapable of telling me a lie.  You don't like evil.  You protect your sister.  You think it's funny to yell.  You're smarter than anyone else I've ever met.  You are faster than anyone else.  And whatever you decide in your mind you can do, you do.  I've never met anyone with the will and determination you have.  Thank you for teaching me that my way doesn't have to be the right way.  That there are 6 to 11 ways to come to the same conclusion.

Thank you for forgiving me.  For that time I faked leaving you at the tennis courts to prove a lesson.  For the time I threw all of your toys away.  For me telling you I was angry at you for calling me a jerk.  I've messed up in some pretty big ways when it has come to being your Mommy.  Please know as you read this that I am one messed up, saved only by the grace of God sinner.  I don't do everything right.  Not even close.  And anytime I've hurt you, I've sobbed and cried and beat myself up continuously over it.  And I've tried to apologize every time I've screwed up.  Please know I love you more than words will ever be able to express.  You are a part of me and I am a part of you.

Thank you for now enjoying the snuggles.  For begging me to hold you every night:  For fulfilling what God knew I needed...another snuggling guy to hold and nuzzle.  It may have taken you 5 years to get there but now you snuggle and it is you, and it is me, and it is perfect.

I end this now to go and build you cupcakes and a daniel tiger trolley, and to go celebrate everything that is you and what makes you just so incredible.  I love you Baby Bear.  Now and forever I will be your Momma.  Ugga-Mugga, sweet prince.

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Winter Break is Through...

 Well hello y'all!  Hope you all have had a pleasant Christmas break!  We had a nice recess of three weeks and starting tomorrow we are back in the thick of things!  Well, some of us are!  With the snowstorm we have received Nicholas received work that his office is closed tomorrow!  Woohoo for having Daddy home, even if he does have to work from here.  But we are thankful to have him to ourselves for one more day!
 We did some sledding during break.  We are so blessed by our neighborhood. The charm, the neighbors, the parties, but also a sledding hill right in our neighborhood!  How lucky!

 We've also been guzzling chocolate.  Not really, but seriously, how silly is this girl?  She cracks me up with her randomness of grabbing a bottle of syrup and fake drinking it that I just had to click away.
 I love this evergreen outside of my kitchen window and the beauty it evokes when it is snow-capped.  This was this morning so we only had about 6 inches.  Now we have about 16 inches...yikes!
And here is our classroom, all ready for us to start back up.  Well, everything's ready except for the "January" header for our calendar is missing.  You haven't seen it, have you?  Anywhere?  No?  Darn.  I am so glad I pushed myself to get some lesson plans done and cleaning underway before Christmas so our classroom would be all ready and waiting.  Tonight I came up here to finish things up, found there's not really anything to do and was able to jot down this lovely, albeit boring, blog post.

Well that is all that we have been up to here. I hope you are warm and snuggly wherever you are tonight and all is well in your home and heart.

Happy Mondays tomorrow, to all! xo
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