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Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I got these...

When I bought this...

All these years buying used cars from private sellers or small dealerships I was missing out on the "special treatment" that larger dealerships give you. I didn't realize I could enjoy Starbucks coffee, popcorn, and cookies while watching a big screen television while all our paperwork was being done. I didn't realize that along with the final handshake I would also be receiving a bouquet of flowers! Nice!

Seriously, we didn't intend to spend so much on a vehicle but really liked this one after test driving it. We didn't expect to spend twice what our original budget was for a vehicle. But I am glad that we were able to get something a little more reliable than what our current van is and that while we weren't able to pay all cash we will have this thing paid off in about five months. And the kids aren't complaining about the DVD player that it has...just need to figure out how to work the sound on it.

This is the first Toyota we have owned. I've only heard good things about them but would love to hear if any of you have owned a Toyota and how you would rate them!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Last week was a blur of activity. It seems this is when my true "not me" moments tend to shine. Enjoy, at my expense!

I did not spend over $100 at the city wide garage sales. Granted, I bought bags of quality clothing for my children and two digital cameras but I would never spend all I made at my garage sale and then some. I certainly did not find such good items that I decided to go to more the next day and spend even more money. That doesn't sound like me at all!

I did not fall behind on laundry and find a stinky moldy sock and toddler pajama top at the very bottom of the hamper. Apparently they were put in the hamper while wet and soon forgotten as laundry piled on top. I did not throw those two items away. Because as everyone knows I finish my laundry every single day and would never ever let the bottom of the hamper go unchecked. Not me!

I did not spend all weekend refinishing the dining room floor with hubby. I did not neglect every single other household chore because of that. I did not expend all my energy trying to keep the children from the dining room, only to fail every so often. I did not pick a stain color that ended up being much darker than planned. I did not forget to test a small patch to make sure that was the color I wanted instead of just slathering it on only to find out later it was much darker. But if I had done that I assume I would just tell everyone it's too late now and we will learn to live with it. That the flaws that show through add character to the floor. Nope, not me, I did not do any of that!

I did not let me toddler "drive" and my other two play in the trunk of the car while I was cleaning it out. Isn't it somewhat dangerous to let kids play in the trunk? I thought so, so that is why I certainly did not let my children do that just to keep them quiet and out of the way.

What are some of your Not Me! Moments from last week?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Do You Freecycle?

Today while organizing the playroom and putting together wire cubes that I bought at a garage sale for $3 I was reminded of the website Freecycle (found at freecycle.org) as I tried to decide what to do with our old wooden shelf we no longer needed. Freecycle is an e-mail group where members post their unwanted items or items that are needed. The best part is that it is free to join and all items that are posted are free for the hauling. It is a wonderful way to reuse and recycle items that are no longer needed by you but are useful for someone else.

I haven't found a whole lot through our local freecycle group; I think all I've gotten from there is a twin size trundle bed and a toddler bed, but I have given away a lot of things and it is great to be able to post an item and have it picked up. You can really find anything listed there on any given day; from a puppy or kitten to extra garden produce to bags of clothing. You are able to post anything that you think other members would find useful and I have been known to post an old washing machine, lawn mower, couch, chair, toys, vacuum cleaners, and charcoal grill. All those were picked up. Tomorrow I will be posting that wooden shelf, along with some pots and pans I no longer need. And when those are taken that means I do not have to haul them somewhere myself and I know they are going to someone who can use them. What an easy concept! I encourage you to look up your area freecycle and see what they have to offer, or see what YOU have to offer!

Friday, September 25, 2009

This, That, and the Other Thing

Random thoughts are often swarming through my brain. That means I am either insane (many would probably agree) or just always interrupted and therefore never able to complete a train of thought. For now I think we will pretend it is the latter.

Today we have arisen to a gloomy and rainy day. The two oldest are still asleep so Joe and I are enjoying the quiet of the house. Joe has come down with a cold and was quite fussy last night so we are running on a low tank of energy already this morning. We have already feasted on a breakfast of watermelon and bagels. Already, on day four of a healthier diet I have noticed a difference in how I feel. Little changes are making a big difference.

My mom, all the kids, and I went to some city-wide garage sales yesterday. We ended up finding a lot and while I spent too much money my children are set with clothes for this year and most of next years clothes as well. I love buying ahead so I don't have to rush out and buy each season when a new one arrives. Does anyone else dread the big season clothes change twice yearly? I love going through the clothes and seeing what I have set aside but I hate washing it all and trying to organize the dressers and closets when we are in between a season. Right now I still have all the kids summer clothing out in their dressers as we are still having warm weather but am also trying to fit more jeans and long sleeved shirts in their dressers for those in between cooler days and all I can say is that the dressers are a mess right now. I will be happy when I can put most of the summer things away and organize the fall and winter clothing. It is difficult being in charge of three completely different wardrobes!

On the topic of changing with the seasons...the much cooler weather will be here soon. I am trying to get us out and about as much as possible to enjoy the nice weather before we are stuck inside most of the time. I love the beauty of Autumn but it seems to be gone in a flash and then the long winters set in. For now, we are enjoying the beauty and have been blessed with beautiful weather for almost a whole month. Joe loves being outside at all times...

It seems I struck a nerve with a few people with my last post. As though passing your own morals and values down to your children is not possible without "brainwashing" them. Some seem to think that morals and values are a thing of the past and old-fashioned. That you can't possibly live in the real world and believe these things. That I've lost touch with reality. I very much live in the real world and am exposed to unmoral things daily, that does not mean that I need to be a part of those activities. Once again, there is a very big difference in being exposed to wrong activities and participating in them. And that is where the learning experience comes in. You can either point out to your children what you believe and why you believe it and hope that they see your point or you can let other people push their own values (or lack of them) onto your children. Because children learn from somewhere. Yes, ultimately, they will decide for themselves and have their own beliefs but they have to have a starting point. A solid foundation is the best to build upon. And that responsibility rests in the parents solely...not the schools, government, peers, or anyone else. Any comments or questions on this discussion can be e-mailed to me or left in the comment section and I will respond in a further post if necessary. I feel strongly on this topic and don't mind sticking up for it.

And now to continue on my random way and get things ready for school, start some laundry, hop in the shower, vacuum, and all the other random things that exist for a homemaker and mother.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What's Up With That?!

Have you ever just looked around yourself at the crazy world and just thought "What's up with that?!" Have you ever wondered what someone was thinking (or why they weren't thinking) when they chose to do what they did? Have you ever wondered what it will be like in ten or twenty years when it is so bad now?

What am I talking about? The morals and values of today. How scary it is that they are sliding further and further away from Christian thinking and into a whatever feels good mentality. It makes me sad, it makes me mad, and it makes me scared for my own children and what they will have to face when they get older. Whether it is the casual talk of abortions and birth control, the in-in-your-face-everyone-is-doing-it-so-it's-perfectly-okay stance of pre-marital sex and living together, or the drinking and party scene that gets you no where but is oh so popular. It's scary!

I will be the first to admit it, I am a sinner. I am no better than anyone else. Everyone sins and makes mistakes and who am I to judge? I have asked myself that question many times in the last year or so. I do not want to be judgemental but I also want my children to know between right and wrong. Because there is a right and wrong in every situation. And then I realized that there is a difference between judging a person and judging a behavior. There are things that as Christians we are told not to do. They are called the Ten Commandments for a reason, not the ten suggestions. And while everyone messes up sometimes that doesn't mean we are to okay those actions. We really can love a person and not judge them while at the same time know that their actions and behavior was wrong.

And that realization is what makes me even more confident that I can teach my children my views, morals, and values without them feeling like they can never come to me if they messed up or chose a different path. Because doing something wrong does not make someone a bad person. But explaining that wrong into a right doesn't work to make you a good person either. You can't say I did x, y, z because... and make it okay in the eyes of God. (For example, someone can't say it is okay to cheat on their spouse because their spouse cheated on them...your actions are just as wrong either way.)

So while the world continues to slide further into the gutter and many actions will still be beyond me to comprehend or even begin to understand I do know that there are ways to teach, guide, and nurture my own children to the right path while not teaching them to be judgemental of people.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Healthful Eating

I have a confession to make. This may come as a surprise to you. You may be speechless after hearing what I have to say. You may run to your closet screaming only to hide and sob after reading the next sentence.

I have been relying on packaged food much too heavily the past few months.


Okay, I feel better after getting that off my chest. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting that you have a problem in the first place. But is packaged food a problem? I think that it is. I go in spurts where I feed my family very wholesome and natural foods and then fall back into the pre-packaged slump. And I notice a difference in our energy, mood, and overall health by the diet that we consume. Coincidence? I think not.

Our diets, on a whole, have become something similar to a science fiction novel. Do you think that even just 100 years ago people would imagine that we would be drinking bubbly soda sugar from a can or bright orange cheese puffs? That sugar and fat would outweigh our consumption of fruits and vegetables? That most of what we eat doesn't even count as nutrition? It's scary, really, and I think our diets are the main reason we are facing such scary numbers on diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses.

But back to my confession and the fact that I have been straying from healthful eating back to the boxed items. It's so easy just to grab a frozen item and throw it in the oven, or open a can of spaghettio o's and dump it in a bowl for lunch. When the going gets tough in our house we tend to get lazy and look for quick fixes. But our health suffers from it. I notice that I am much more tired lately and much of it has to be due to the excess of unhealthy foods. If I am not supplying my body with nutritious food it is going to crash at some point. The kids seem to be more hyper and moody, probably due to the extra sugar. Soda has become a staple in the house and I notice right after lunch (when I allow myself a can of soda) I get a burst of energy and then come crashing down. I just don't feel my best.

So my goal is to get back on track with our eating. It all comes down to little changes at a time but already after a day of going back to the real stuff (you know, food that is actually food!) I feel better. Normal. I'm curious, now that I am even more aware of our eating habits, to see how our body and attitudes change over the next few days and weeks as we start supplying our bodies with nutrition and not just stuff. I am glad that my children are not too picky and are opening to trying most foods. One thing that I will need to avoid is taking my hubby to the grocery store, he is one of the worst in the family when it comes to junk food and sugary snacks (sorry honey, was that a secret to keep?). But even he knows that we all feel better when our eating is on track. So here is to day two of healthy eating once again!

Do any of you have a favorite healthy recipe or snack that you care to share? I will post recipes, ideas, and hints (as well as updates) in the following weeks. First tip of this journey is that when your toddler is hungry and you give him a bowl of blackberries for a snack make sure he does not sneak away from the table with his bowl and smash all the berries on the living room carpet. Let's just say that it takes a LONG time to clean up a mess like that.

Does anyone care to join me on my journey of healthful eating, or vow to just give up one of your vices this week?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy First Day of Autumn!

Today dawned much like the first day of Autumn would be expected to; it was cool, rainy, and cloudy. The rain stopped mid morning and with hyper (and crabby) little ones I decided to get some of our energy out by having us all take a walk.

It started out well, until Joe decided to take a detour towards the street. We called him back and this time around he came when called.

He stayed on track after we stopped and got a play phone from Grandma.

This guy seemed to whine throughout the whole walk. Here he is telling us for the umpteenth time NOT to walk on the cracks in the sidewalk.

He stayed grouchy the whole way, that is, until right before we reached home and he found a stick that soon became a sword.

It seems funny how our walks often turn out this way. One child straying from the set path, one grouchy, and another one who has to go potty, or wants to stop somewhere in the middle, or...
That's life with children though. I was more than ready to head home after just two blocks since the bugs are out in full force today.

I hope you all have a beautiful start to your Autumn!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Once again, I am here to spill some of my mommy secrets. Those skeletons in the closet that no "good mama" would dare tell a soul. Those things that we don't do (*cough*) on occasion or let slip by just to keep ourselves sane.

I did not let my daughter leave the house without brushing her hair. I wasn't in a rush and I realize how her hair looks all ratty without it being brushed so would never let her be seen in public like this. I especially wouldn't let her go out in public several times like this because even in the mad dash that ensues before running out the door with three little ones I always have the time to brush everyone's hair.

The other day when it was extremely loud downstairs and my nerves were frazzled I did not tell my husband that I needed to go put a basket of clean clothes away only to go into our bedroom and lay down on the bed for some piece of quiet. You all know me and know that I would never make myself seem busy when I was instead taking a break.

I did not tell my son at the store that the toys he picked out were not for sale and that we would have to put them back. I did not tell him that we would get them next time we were shopping there, knowing full well that this was a thrift store and that they would certainly not be there next time because 1. we only go to that store once a month and 2. the toys have a fast turnover rate there. I would never do that! Not Me!

And I surely did not put my toddler in a pile of leaves to get a cute photo only to have him scream when I covered his legs up. I did not go ahead and take the photo before rescuing him from the scary crunchy leaves. Do you think I'm that kind of mama?! Not me!

I did not get the whim after hearing about a friend who just redid her playroom floor to pull up the carpet in the dining room to see a half finished wood floor. I did not get this whim on a Sunday evening and spend half the night pulling staples and mopping the floor while hubby did the trim work. I now do not have a floor that has TONS of work that needs to be done. (But on a side note, I do already like the wood floor better than the carpet that was on the floor that we did not do. Confused yet?) I always plan things ahead of time and would never start a project in the middle of the evening at the end of a weekend. Never ever!

And will you all now please share one of your Not Me! moments so that I don't look like the only bad mother out there?! :)

I'm Tukered Out!

This photo shows what I wish I could be doing right now. I took it sometime this summer after a full day of playing outside and running around. Rarely, rarely, rarely will all my children be asleep at the same time during the day since Becca long ago gave up naps and Jacob only naps a few times a week so I was surprised when I came downstairs from putting Joe down for his nap and saw the other two passed out on the couch. I just had to take a photo to prove that it actually happened, plus it was cute and sweet how they fell asleep together.

As I mentioned before, I wish I was sleeping right now. I wish I was relaxing. I wish I didn't have a care in the world and was able to just pass out for an hour or two. Can you tell that I am tired? It has been an extremely busy week, mainly away from home, which means that I still have much to do at home. It is crazy when I let things pile up and this past week everything has piled up. Laundry, dishes, picking up, deep cleaning, organizing, grocery shopping, and more all need to be done. I've started the day off on a good foot and have already crossed a lot off my to-do list but there is still a lot needing to be done. It will probably take me several days to get back to my regular order of chaos.

But even though I am tired and overwhelmed I will take the time to take a walk this afternoon with the family and enjoy some moments of peace. Enjoy some moments of laughter, little feet stomping on the sidewalk, little people stopping to look at an acorn or a bug, and walking along side my hubby. Those are the moments that count.

P.S. I am working on the format of this blog and would appreciate it if you could take the survey on the right hand side of this page. Thanks!

Friday, September 18, 2009

He Just Keeps Going...

...and going...

...and going.

Yes, my little energizer baby has now learned how to climb on top of the washing machine. He climbs into the hamper, uses his feet to cling to the sides of the hamper and climbs upon the top of the washer. Imagine my surprise the first time I found him way up there! So, for now the hamper is moved away from the washing machine and if worst comes to worst we will just keep the laundry room door closed. This boy is making me tired!
And speaking of tired, this is day two of the garage sale at my parent's house. I am at home while Joe (you know, the energizer baby) takes his nap and will go back this afternoon. We have had beautiful weather for the sale and a good turn out so far. I didn't have a whole lot this time around but have already sold a good majority of my things so am glad I will not have to lug a lot home. We sold the whole box of toys that we brought so I am thrilled about that - our playroom is organized and should hopefully stay fairly clean with all the odds and ends out of there. My dad will mainly be watching the sale tomorrow so I will just go later in the morning and help take everything down. I love getting rid of things we no longer need, clearing the house of clutter, and making money at the same time!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fellowship...How Sweet the Sound

This morning the kids and I went to a coffee/lunch with some women from church. This is the second one I have been to and it is such a joy to get together with women who have so much in common. And just getting together with other women is satisfying; especially other women who are also mothers (though many of them have grown children) and knowing that they understand. Understand when my baby is climbing on a chair or my daughter spills a glass of water. Understand when my son whines because he is uncomfortable with so many new people around or when my baby throws a piece of cookie on the floor. No dirty looks or deep sighs or eye rolls. It is a comforting feeling being around others who just get it.

That understanding is not common, especially these days when motherhood is not a high calling, when often times it is frowned upon or stated as "just a mother". When being a mother just isn't enough. I think many of us can at least recall a time or two when we, as mothers out and about with our children, have been frowned upon just for being...well...out and about. As though we have the plague and should stay at home until our children are older. Whether it is a stranger at the grocery store giving you the evil eye because your child is overtired and fussing (while they loudly share their current life events on the phone giving everyone within 15 feet an earful) or the librarian (no, not you, Angie!) in the children's section of the library acting like how dare you bring children to this children's section of the library". It's uncomfortable. Because in reality we are doing nothing wrong and have every right to be where everyone else has a right to be. It is just how society has been trained to view mothers and their children.

I can't tell you how many times I wish we could zoom back about 70 years in history, when mothers were valued for the job (yes, it is a real job, one of the most important ones there is) they had. But do not be fooled, because for every five of those eye rolls or sighs you see and hear there is one of those precious gems folded in. You know, those young cashiers who ooh and aah
over your gorgeous baby. Or those gentlemen who joke with your kids. Or those wonderful old ladies who stop their stroll through the grocery store to have a chat; no, a real conversation, in the middle of the aisle. The ones who praise your children for being on their best behavior, who stand there and tell you about their days of raising a houseful of young ones and how busy they were but how they were the best days of their life. The ones that tell you to really enjoy these days of having small ones at home because they grow up much too quickly. As they walk away they pat each of your children on the head and continue slowly down the aisle. And you stand there in awe and realise that there are still women who understand.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Good Morning Sunshine!

Today is the third week of sunshine and blue skies here in the Midwest. That is quite rare for us in September and all I can say is that I love it! I love that the kids can enjoy the outdoors and that the weather isn't too hot or too cold and that the sun has been shining on us for three weeks in a row. Blissful!

Yesterday the kids decided to set up their own picnic in the front yard. It was funny to see the food that Becca decided to serve for a snack. She gave Joe his baby puff snacks. She decided that Jacob and herself would eat an apple, saltine crackers, and have a bottle of water for a drink. They actually sat still for awhile and enjoyed their snacks.

Then it was off for a walk around the neighborhood. Do I need to say again how much I love this weather?!

It was great reading some of your mommy confessions yesterday; glad to see that I am not alone when it comes to some of the things I DON'T do *cough, cough*! I hope that you all enjoy your last week of summer and that your weather is as beautiful as ours has been.

And on a completely different note, will you all keep my father in your prayers? After a bout with oral cancer three years ago he has needed another biospy of his throat this week due to some changes on the CT scan. While the doctor is hopeful that it is not cancer it is still scary to have a need for another biospy. Please pray!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not Me! Monday

The blog carnival "Not Me Monday!" was started by My Charming Kids. We are supposed to post what, we, as perfect mothers would never do (but have done!). It's a good way to air some of our dirty laundry and prove we are just human! So here goes...

I did not give my 16 month old some Pepsi in his sippy cup just to keep him from crying since that is what he wanted and I just needed some quiet. What mother would give a baby highly caffeinated soda? Not me!

I did not notice after stepping out of the shower and putting on capris that I forgot to shave my legs. I did not stick my legs back into the tub and only shave up to the knee. Not me!

I did not throw away a pair of the kids muddy shorts because I didn't even want to attempt to get them clean. Who would do that? Not me!

I did not open the refrigerator door to see that a yogurt container leaked all over and promptly shut it again to save the mess for later. Not me!

I did not feed my children Poptarts for breakfast two days in a row. I know that they are "supposed" to be breakfast food as Kelloggs would like us to think but we all know they are just loaded with sugar. I know a "good" mother would never feed her children poptarts for breakfast so you can all rest assured that I did not feed my own precious children those sugary devil treats for two mornings straight. Not me!

Do you have any mommy confessions? I'd love to hear some of yours, at least to make myself feel a little better!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Saturday Snapshots

I wanted to take some photos of the kids while they were sitting in the living room together so nicely. I ran to get my camera and kneeled down to get a good shot and instead I got...

So then I tell Becca to hold her little brother and all act happy, but this is how that turned out...

So I let the little energizer baby run away and shot a picture of just the two eldest instead.

Maybe our family Christmas photo will have to be taken while Joe is sleeping, otherwise I have no idea how we will get him to sit still for a photo!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Like a Hamster on a Wheel

Growing up we were never allowed the typical pets, such as a cat or a dog. But we had many small rodents...gerbils, a guinea pig, and hamsters. I remember watching the hamsters get their exercise by running on their wheel much of the day and now I feel exactly like I am doing the same. The wheel spins and you feel like you are getting somewhere, until you look back and notice that you haven't moved one bit. That is how cleaning goes in this house.

I pick up, put away, and vacuum and by the time I move onto the next room the kids are busy at work making the clean room as messy as they can. I wash loads of laundry, fold it and put it away and by the end of the day the hamper is filled with dirty clothes and towels. I wash dishes and pans only to have the sink filled with dirty ones a few hours later. It is exhausting and I can go around in circles and do this all day and still seem to not get anywhere.

I have been working on the two oldest and making them help out around the house more. Becca has even started doing dishes once in awhile and is often found helping me fold laundry. Even Joe helps pick up his toys at times. So I hope that as my children get older my work load at home will lessen a bit. Does anyone have any good tips on what chores are good for what age group?

(My three love bugs looking just as innocent as can be.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Do Mothers Get a Vacation?

I don't think mothers ever get a full vacation but so far the past few days have been pretty relaxing (for the most part). My hubby has had a few days off from work and won't have to go back until Monday so we have been taking it easy and just enjoying life. I find that with two adults home it makes things 100% easier during the day and much more relaxing.

Yesterday we decided to head out early to some city wide garage sales that were in a nearby town. After driving the 20 miles to get there and stopping to get gas hubby sees that anti-freeze is leaking out underneath the van. So our plans were canceled right then and we came straight home. I wasn't too disappointed as I had picked up the paper and saw only a few garage sale listings, nothing like the 40+ sales they have in the summer during city wide sales. After arriving home hubby determined that we didn't lose a whole lot of anti-freeze and it has probably been doing that for awhile. But it looks like a van repair is in order and we already have a $550 estimate on the repair. Grr! I did go to some garage sales in the evening with my mom and sisters and enjoyed shopping child-free, but didn't find a darn thing!

But this morning dawned bright and clear (okay, not clear since it was foggy). Hubby and I decided to head out to garage sales again and see if we could find any good deals. The first several sales were not very good but I managed to hit one sale that had several boys items and another that had good quality girls clothing. My best find was a small table (I think called a hall table). I had been wanting one and almost bought one new for $80 a few months ago but decided not to. I'm glad I waited because this one was just $5! It needs a new coat of paint and some drawer pulls but you can't beat that price. I will post pictures of it sometime soon. We then went out to one of our favorite family restaurants and enjoyed a nice brunch.

As I said, it hasn't been a full vacation though. My point is proven as I now have to head to the kitchen to make supper (salmon patties for the adults and chicken fries for the children along with salad and breadsticks) , get some laundry going, clean off the table, and all the other activities that keeps life running smoothly. If only I had a maid and a nanny some days!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Princess

May I introduce you to my daughter, Rebecca. The eldest of three and the only girl. She is our princess.

She is also a handful! Her recent adventure was deciding to cut her own hair. I tried for days to hide the shorter pieces but decided to get it cut today. They blended it in as well as they could and while it still isn't perfect it is much better than it was and they were able to keep much of the length still there. It could have been worse. She also has been cutting the dog's hair, which he doesn't seem to mind, but I do. These two are inseparable, and also both sporting shorter hair styles this season.

But look at that sweet face! Short or long hair, she's still a princess!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Busy Labor Day

I hope you all are enjoying a relaxing Labor Day. Here it has turned out to be perfect weather and a day for getting things done. Hubby has been working in the yard and getting a few small projects done around the place. I'm busy doing my usual routine of cleaning, putting food on the table, and dealing with children who constantly need one thing or another. But it has been nice. While Joe (you know, the Energizer Baby) took his afternoon nap I decided to leave him with hubby and take the other two children with me for a quick visit to my Grandma's house. It was wonderful to actually get to sit down and visit for a few hours and see several relatives as well. Now I am off to make some hot dogs for supper and then we will probably go for an evening stroll. I will leave you with a photo of the visitor that entertained the children the other day...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Don't You Love Free?

Living in a small town means that if we want to go to some "real stores" we have to travel about an hour away, which we typically do once or twice a month. Today we decided to take advantage of the 20% off Labor Day sale at Half Price Books so decided to make it a full day of shopping. Let me tell you that trying to shop, much less browse, at a bookstore with three little ones (especially the Energizer Baby) is pretty much impossible. Hubby was able to look through some of the shelves while I occupied the children in the children's section. If I was child-less for a few hours I think that bookstore would be the place I would run to and just spend hours looking around in. Maybe in 30 years, right?!

Then we headed to a thrift store and a consignment shop but we spent less than five minutes in either one because my precious Joe (the Energizer Baby) would not stay still and I really did not have the patience today to deal with a squirming child. Some women may dream longingly about taking a vacation to Paris or a ring worth 50K but I just dream about having an hour alone to shop! Again, maybe in 30 years!

We headed to Target after our first three-store flop and I was able to score some items free by combining manufacturers coupons with their store coupons. It has been awhile since I have been able to plan ahead and organize some good deals so at least I scored at one store. I was able to get the dog food free, Rice Krispies free, was paid 40 cents for every two packages of pens I bought, was paid $1 for each razor I bought, and was paid 30 cents for the Bounce Dryer Bar (which I have been curious to try). Along with some other items I bought with coupons I saved $56 and only spent $43. If only the cashier wouldn't have been so coupon clueless and questioned every little one I would have walked out of that store walking on cloud nine.

Our last stop was a Sara Lee Bread outlet where I was able to stock up on their Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Bagels which I love, for just $1 each. Also grabbed a few loaves of bread to stick in the freezer.

(The alien arm seen in this photo is actually Joe (the Energizer Baby) who is also known as the bottomless pit and is trying to make a grab for his bagels.)

I love to shop (okay, maybe not so much with kids) but especially love it when everything is cheap or free! In future posts I will highlight some of my favorite couponing moments or what I get free with refunding.

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Tough Guy

This is my Jacob. Busy at work building his village for the day.

These guys are ready for their search and rescue mission. Or is it search and destroy?

Either way, he looks pretty proud of his display.

My little tough guy, always in camouflage with his weapons or busy with his army toys. Seriously, this kid is all boy and is constantly building, running, climbing, or setting up his toys to make elaborate scenes. I never know what he will think of next.

But in the end he is just my sweet little boy. We'll just keep that our little secret though!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

3 Kids = Lots of Clothes

Having three small children means that we also need to keep three small bodies clothed. It could get expensive. But it hasn't so far. With the surplus of thrift stores, consignment shops, garage sales, Ebay, and awesome clearance closeouts I am able to keep my children well dressed for a fraction of what most mamas spend on just one child's wardrobe. It takes a little shopping around and often shopping out of season and a year or two in advance but having a bin or closet full of clothes to go to instead of running to the department stores with each change of season is well worth it.

For example, yesterday and today I went to several garage sales and returned home with a pile of clothing for my five year old and several outfits for my toddler for close to $20, which is what the price of one of the Gymboree outfits I bought my daughter would have cost new. The best part is that I am often able to sell the clothing (at a consignment shop or garage sale) after my children outgrow it for more than what I paid in the first place so their cost of clothing, in the end, is virtually zero.

(Some clothing I bought at a recent garage sale)

Some tips for keeping your little ones in designer clothes on a limited budget are:

*Shop garage sales and try to get there around the time they open. The good stuff goes quickly, sometimes within a matter of minutes if someone starts grabbing up all of one size. Search the paper each week to see the garage sale listings in your area. City-wide garage sales are often advertised a week or two in advance and are the best way to hit several sales in certain areas.

*Search your local consignment and thrift stores. Learn when they have their clearance sales and get there early.

*Watch for online sales. Often websites will have fantastic sales on out of season clothing. Search for online codes or free shipping codes to get an even better deal. Sign up for their e-mails to get first notice of their clearance sales.

*Buy a year or two in advance. If you see a cute outfit for your child that is a size or two too big buy it and put it away for when it will fit them. I store up to two years ahead.

*Use storage totes or an empty closet to organize clothing by size and sex. Label everything properly...there's nothing more frustrating than finding a pile of clothing that you had put away for your child that you forgot about and is already too small.

*Keep your clothing in good condition and try selling all outgrown clothing at a garage sale or ask your consignment shop what their consigning terms are. You can often make your money back when you bring in clean designer clothing in the newer styles.

It doesn't have to cost a fortune to keep your children in clothes!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What Do You Do All Day?

I'm sure we have all seen this joke a time or two but I just had to post it. This is what I do all day!

A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard. The door of his wife's car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog. Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing. In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.

He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened. He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door. As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls. As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel.

She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went. He looked at her bewildered and asked, 'What happened here today?' She again smiled and answered, 'You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world I do all day?' 'Yes,' was his incredulous reply. She answered, 'Well, today I didn't do it.'

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Bountiful Harvest

As I turned the calendar page today to yet another month I realized that soon we will be in another season, which means that our garden will start to slow down and finally stop producing anything at all. But for now we are still enjoying some of the bounty of our small raised beds and benefiting from our own homegrown organic vegetables. My children love to eat the tomatoes just by biting into them like you would a big juicy apple and our cucumbers are eaten as fast as we pick them. The bell peppers should be ready within the next few days and the pole beans will soon be ready as well since we got a late start on planting those.

With the way the economy is and the price of food (especially fresh organic foods) it only makes sense to set aside a small plot of space and grow a vegetable or two for your own family. Even in town with a small space it is possible to grow enough to drastically notice a reduction in your grocery bill during the summer months. When we are forced to cook what we have on hand; such as more salads, BLT's, and tacos you become more creative in the kitchen and learn to not rely so heavily on the grocery store and running there whenever you need one or two items.

I found the best advantage of having our own garden though to be that the kids are more willing to try new things if they are the ones that planted it and helped tend to it. My four and five year old help me dig up the warm spring soil and plant the seeds. They checked the garden daily and ran to tell me when they saw the tender shoots emerge from the ground. They helped water it and then reaped the rewards when the fruits of their labor were ripe. That, I think, is the most effective way in teaching a child to enjoy healthy eating.


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