Wednesday, December 28, 2011

a glimpse into our school life

I have a friend who does a fabulous job of posting all these pictures of what she does with her kids in homeschool each month.  She always has a post full of projects and field trips and summaries of what they've been up to.  I've thought about doing a post like that, but you can probably tell that I haven't.  Heck, I never even posted the summary of our kindergarten year that I meant to back in August (oops.  We had a good kindergarten year, by the way, and first grade is going well too). 

Still, I can start now, right?  No time like the present.  I don't promise to be as organized and with it as Merry is.  But hopefully I'll get a few things here and there posted that will give you an idea of what's going on around here.  :) 

These pictures are from November.  I drew an outline of Sarah's body, and she cut out pictures of internal organs to glue in the appropriate places.  Then she drew an outline of Natalie's body and just drew a face on it for fun.  :) 

By the way, if you noticed the art kit in the photos from Christmas day, Sarah is super excited about using those supplies with a Thomas Kincaid drawing curriculum that I bought.  :)

Christmas Day

The last of the holiday pictures...maybe eventually I'll figure out where the computer stashed my school pictures!  :-p 


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve

picture this...

I had some pictures from school and such I was going to post here, but the computer seems to have eaten them.  So until then, here's some Christmas photos.  Enjoy!  These are from Friday, December 23, at my grandmother's house.  I'm going to post Christmas Eve pictures in a separate post.  :)

Monday, December 26, 2011

nothing to say...

I've not updated in so long that it feels like I should have something monumental to say in order to break the silence.  I don't, really.  I just figured the only way to start blogging again is just to start.  End the writer's block by just writing something

We've had a good Advent season and a lovely Christmas.  Some highlights were doing an Advent devotional and singing sacred Christmas songs with the girls, attending a Hanukkah workshop, having Nelson's parents visit (that's still going on), a family dinner with my parents, aunt and uncle, and grandmother on Christmas Eve eve, the Christmas Eve service at church, and Christmas Eve dinner with my parents. 

We watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special more than once, and Sarah fell in love with "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."  We used my hymnal to sing songs together during our school devotional time, and one night she pulled it out on her own to sing songs.  She went with the children during our Christmas Eve service but later regretted it when she heard we had sung her favorite one.

I do have pictures to post later; right now it's a bit late in the evening and I need to clean the kitchen.  I do plan to update more regularly from now on though.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to post a few pictures of our holiday fun, plus a few other photos that have been hanging out on the camera forever. 

I signed up for a free "blogging class" that I found, so hopefully I'll be able to improve things around here and at my other blog.  We''ll see.

Until next, I hope everyone had a merry Christmas.  Now that we are in the twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany, I wish you ladies dancing and lords a-leaping and all that jazz.  ;)  I also wish you a happy New Year!  I'm working on my goals for 2012 and breaking them down into weekly tasks, so I'll be posting more about that later. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Natalie says

Posts using this title used to chronicle Natalie's growing vocabulary.  Making a list of words would be ridiculous at this point.  Go get a dictionary; those are the words she can say.  ;)  Still, it makes a good title for this post, which is just about the funny things she's said today. 

It started when she asked to use the bathroom earlier today.  As she sat on the potty, she proudly proclaimed, "I got the pee out of my bottom!" 

Later, we were watching an episode of Good Eats.  Alton was cooking with lobster.  At first, the lobsters kind of freaked her out.  Strange, since she and Sarah love to visit the lobster tank at the grocery store.  Later on, however, she announced, "I like lobsters!  Lobsters are good eats!"  Maybe one day she'll actually get to taste lobster and find out if that's actually true.  :) 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

more pictures (halloween)

In addition to trick-or-treating on the night of Halloween itself, Sarah and Natalie got to don their costumes and attend a "fall festival" at a local church on Wednesday, October 26.  Most of these pictures are from that rather than Halloween itself.  The costumes are the same though, so it all works out.  :)

To avoid any possible confusion, Natalie is Snow White, and Sarah is Tinkerbell.  And look--Natalie finally figured out how to smile for the camera!  Also, check out Sarah's missing teeth. 

Bonus pictures: my co-teacher at our homeschool co-op gifted us with a Winnie the Pooh costume the day after Halloween.  Natalie is in love with it.  She won't get dressed today; she just wants to wear Pooh.  It's too big for her, but that doesn't keep her from being enamored with it.

Happy belated Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

a couple of pictures

On Saturday, we ate at Olive Garden with my parents and grandmother then followed up with a visit to the mall.  It was a lovely day; Olive Garden is a very rare treat for us.  Natalie chattered happily with our server (she even told him he was a "good boy" for bringing her spaghetti).  Olive Garden's pumpkin cheesecake is heaven on a plate; I have GOT to learn how to make that.  Wow.  Sarah loved bungee jumping at the mall.

My dad also visited a photo booth with the girls.  It was the kind that "sketches" your picture.  This will let some of you who have been asking for pictures see the gap in Sarah's mouth where she has lost two teeth.  Enjoy.

P.S. I'm really irritated that spell check is griping about the word "Sarah's".  What the heck is up with that?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

culinary success

I have a waffle recipe that I love.  It started out as a recipe from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but I tweaked it and made it even more amazing.  :)  I have a pumpkin waffle recipe that is also very good.  However, I don't make it nearly as often.  For one thing, I don't always have pumpkin on hand.  The main reason, however, is that the first recipe is an overnight yeast recipe.  I mix up the batter the night before and cook the waffles in the morning.  The pumpkin waffle recipe is a normal, quick bread-type batter.  Frankly, I am not a morning person.  I do not have any desire first thing in the morning to be mixing waffle batter.  So we usually only have the pumpkin waffles when I am doing breakfast-for-supper.

In an email conversation with my sister-in-law, I got the idea for combing the two recipes.  But then a wonderful friend gifted me with a bagful of sweet potatoes.  I remembered that Alton Brown (my Food Network hero) did a sweet potato waffle recipe.  It too was a quick bread type recipe, but I decided to do my experiment in recipe combining.

It worked!  We had sweet potato waffles this morning, and they were GOOD.  I am so pleased.

Alton Brown peels and steams his sweet potatoes to get the mash he needs.  I simply baked them at 425 until they were soft and the skin came off SO easily; I just pulled and off it came.  I really think this is way easier than Brown's method.  Plus I love when sweet potatoes bake long enough to caramelize.  I cooked up a bunch at once and stowed the orange mash in the fridge; I have plenty left for other recipes. 

So here is my sweet potato waffle recipe.  I hope you enjoy!

2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar (I may have used a little more; I didn't measure very well)
1 package dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
A heavy shake of cinnamon (yeah, I'm terrible at measuring; sorry)
A tiny sprinkle of clove and ground ginger
A slightly heavier shake of allspice (more than the clove and ginger, less than the cinnamon)
I meant to add freshly grated nutmeg, but I forgot.  I will do it next time.
1/2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup buttermilk (this adds such a depth of flavor; it is fabulous)
2 eggs
1 cup mashed sweet potato

Combine your dry ingredients in one bowl.  Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then mix the two thoroughly.  I did it by hand, but I really recommend an electric mixer.  Cover and refrigerate batter overnight.  In the morning, remove from the fridge and give it a stir.  Cook according to your waffle iron's directions.  I got about 10 waffles; your mileage may vary. 

This post is linked to The Nourishing Gourmet and The Grocery Cart Challenge.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

a messy dog

We were browsing a bookstore last night when Natalie came across a calendar.  This particular calendar was full of dog photos.  The cover showed a picture of a boxer. 

In case you need a reminder, this is what a boxer looks like:

Upon seeing the boxer, Natalie laughingly proclaimed, "That doggie's been eating chocolate!" 

I suppose it was a logical mistake.  After all, this is what Natalie looks like after eating chocolate:

I see the resemblance, don't you?  :) 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

the results are in...

I confessed that over the last several months I had not been putting a whole lot of effort into the whole grocery shopping thing.  I wasn't really planning or thinking or anything.  I totaled up our spending in August and vowed to attempt to start improving in September. 

My "grocery budget" is pretty much everything.  It includes diapers, toiletries, food, any eating out, etc.  I admit that Amazon gift cards that I accumulate from both Swagbucks and surveys are helpful to my grocery budget; in September I was able to get 702 Pamper baby wipes for free from Amazon and two bottles of Natalie's Burt's Bees baby soap for only $2.82 out of pocket.  Mostly, though, the improvement from August to September happened just because I started thinking and trying again. 

I didn't use any "guerrilla" shopping techniques during September.  I stuck mostly with Food City and Wal-Mart rather than stalking sales and matching coupons at various places around town.  I may try to start adding those more advanced systems to my repertoire in the next few months.  I can't promise that I will ever drop our budget to the point of "internet fame" like my frugal-living blogger heroes.  I just want to make the best use possible of the resources we have available. 

Anyway, our total spending for everything food-and-grocery-related in August was $566.83.  This averages to about $142 per week for our family of four.  You can tell I wasn't making too much of an effort this month!  :-p 

September's total spending was $432.21, an average of approximately $108 per week.  I dropped the total grocery bill $134.62 from August to September.  Since all I really did was return to thinking and planning, I don't think that's too bad of a start.  In October, I intend to use My Grocery Deals to start utilizing the sales at various stores.  I will use what coupons I can/have.  Eventually I'm going to start figuring how serious frugalistas do the whole CVS game.  I'm not there yet.  My eventual goal is to lower our spending to $60-80 per week.  I would like to go lower, but I'm not sure that I can pull that off.  We'll see how meeting the first goal goes.  Baby steps, right?  ;) 

If you want to share your favorite tips for shaving money off of your grocery bills, I'm all ears! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

Well, maybe not.  Sarah received a chestnut at our homeschool co-op yesterday, and she was very eager to try it.  I'm not sure it lived up to its hype though.  We still have part of a chestnut sitting on my kitchen counter.  Sarah said its flavor was "very strong."  That might mean a lot of different things, but I think the fact that the chestnut is sitting on the counter half-eaten speaks for itself. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

once upon a dream

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to write.  My preference is fiction; even as a child I wanted to create stories.  I started making up my own "episodes" for TV shows I enjoyed.  (I have since learned that this is called "fan fiction", and there is a ton of it out on the Internet.  If you have a favorite TV show or movie, look on Fan to see if they have it there.  I've read many stories on that site for shows I love.  Some are amazingly good.  Some are abysmally horrible.  Most are somewhere in between.) 

But I digress.  The point is I started to make up stories.  At first, I used a tape recorder and "dictated" my tales.  Then I moved on to completely original fiction and writing on paper.  Later still (much, much later!), I switched to writing on the computer. 

I was probably in about third or fourth grade when I announced to my parents that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.  God bless them, they never once told me what a completely unreasonable, outlandish dream that was.  They honestly seemed to believe that I would someday "make it."  I don't know that I ever told them how much I appreciated the fact that they didn't shoot me down, so here is public acknowledgement and a great big thanks.

I have by no means "made it" now.  But in the last few days, two things happened.  One, a random stranger emailed me about how much he liked this blog and how well-written he thought it was.  He wants to advertise here.  I have not decided whether to accept his offer, but I am incredibly flattered nonetheless. 

The second thing is by far the cooler.  On Money Saving Mom's blog, she mentioned a company called Textbroker International.  I applied and sent in a writing sample.  I received the highest rating possible for a first-time review.  I applied for my first assignment.  The client bought my article, no revisions necessary.  I am now officially a "paid" writer.  Don't get me wrong: I got paid very, very little for this article.  But I got paid.  I can't even begin to describe how excited I am about that.  I can now browse other assignments at Textbroker...and continue to get paid for them.  I feel like I am finally starting to fulfill the dream I had as a kid.  It feels pretty good.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

necessity is the mother of invention

I have been starting my days most mornings with exercise.  At the moment, I am using various Leslie Sansone workout videos.  One day I am sure I will be ready for harder workouts, but not today.  Sarah and Natalie often like to do the workout with me, Sarah especially.  However, the workout I did this morning uses a prop--a "walk belt" (resistance bands attached to a belt that is worn around the waist).

Sarah really wanted to be able to do the portions of the video that utilized the belt/bands.  I only have one though.  She could have just done the arm motions without the bands, but that's not really Sarah.  She wasn't about to give up so easily.  Instead she created her own "walk belt."

She took a long red ribbon and tied it around her waist.  The ribbon was long enough that even after being tied like a belt two long strings still hung loose, giving her her "bands."  She still wanted handles though (my bands have handles), so she tied Natalie's flip-flops to the ends of the ribbons.  Voila!  Handles.

Natalie was less than pleased to have her flip-flops doubling as handles, but she acquiesced.  Sarah was thrilled to have her own "walk belt."  Sure, her ribbons weren't actually providing any resistance, unlike the rubber tubing of the real belt.  She didn't know that, nor did she care.  Heck, I don't care.  It was a creative solution to her problem.

You can see the walk belt (plus the videos I used this morning) here.   The bands don't provide the highest level of resistance, but they do ramp up a walk pretty well.  They've also held up well over the years; I've had them for quite a long time now. 

The link is an affiliate link. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

snatching victory from the jaws of defeat

Okay, so the title isn't totally accurate...more like snatching just-a-plain-old-defeat from the jaws of we-got-completely-stomped-on-and-crushed-defeat.  Still, I'll take it. 

On Cinco de Mayo, I tried unsuccessfully to make tortillas.  They didn't turn out well at all, and I wrecked the kitchen.  What a mess to clean up! 

Last week, I was really trying hard to skip grocery shopping and just use what we had on hand.  On Thursday, pickings were starting to get a bit slim, but I did have the ingredients to make black bean burritos.  Well, I mostly had the ingredients.  I didn't have tortillas.  So I took a deep breath and tried that whole making tortillas at home thing again. 

It's funny; I can make breads of all description.  I can even concoct a pretty decent pie crust.  I can make pizza dough.  But I can NOT make tortillas.  Not even a little bit. 

The "dough" for the tortillas (that I was supposed to knead for five minutes) never actually became dough.  I followed the directions exactly as to proportion of ingredients called for, but all I got was glop.  You could stir it, but it wasn't going to knead. 

So I began adding more flour.  And more.  And more.  Finally I gave up.  Sarah and Natalie stirred the batter-like goo for awhile.  Natalie smeared it around the kitchen, then tasted it and declared it "good."  I stashed it in the fridge so I didn't have to see it mocking me.

Apparently hanging out in the chill chest did improve the tortilla makings a bit.  Sunday afternoon I pulled the stuff back out.  It still wouldn't cooperate enough to roll it out into nice thin little rounds, but I did manage to get it into nice, not-so-thin amorphous blobs.  I cooked them, and I made the black bean mixture.  The darn things are too thick to be tortillas, so I told the girls they were tamales.  They ate them and declared them good.

That's something, right?  I can sort of claim a victory here?  Or at least say I staved off total defeat?

I think I'm buying tortillas in the store from now on.  It saves my sanity and makes my kitchen easier to clean. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

happy birthday to me!

Okay, so it's not my birthday yet.  And what I'm posting about isn't really a birthday present.  But it feels like one! 

If you've ever looked at my blog roll, you'll see Stephanie O'Dea's Crockpot 365 blog.  If you have never visited her site, you should.  Every crockpot recipe you could want is there (including several yummy coffee-shop recipes--a great way to get a Starbucks fix at home!), and I love Stephanie's humor and writing style.  (If you need a chuckle, read the posts labelled "flops.")  But Stephanie also gives homemaking/organization tips at Totally Together.  She's written a book by the same name.  Earlier this week, she did a giveaway of this book. 

I have entered who knows how many giveaways in my online years.  Some of them, I really, really wanted to win...but I've never won one (that's the case for most people, right?  "Many will enter, but few will win, blah, blah").  Well...until now!  I won a F*R*E*E copy of Stephanie's book!  I like free, and I like Stephanie, and goodness knows I need help with organization.  (I told my SIL that God was hinting at me, letting me win this!).  So I'm calling it a birthday present to myself, and I'm excited to get it.  Once I've had a chance to read it, I'll share my thoughts and insights. 

Oh, and speaking of blog recommendations, if you've never checked out my other blog, I invite you to do so.  You might find an interesting article or bit of advice there (I really like the article on how eating your veggies can give you a natural tan!).  Truth be known, I have a third blog, but I don't update it very often.  Maybe I need to consolidate.  (And yes, I realize that I didn't include the link to Blog #3.  Perhaps some other time).  :) 

I'm going to wrap up now.  We were in the waiting period of a science experiment, but the timer is beeping now, so I'm off to do more school! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

a sticky situation

I was going to post my menu plan on Monday (because I did actually do it), but you know what?  I've already altered it.  We ate leftovers Monday, and tonight we're eating something completely off-the-list.  (My roast didn't defrost, so I needed a Plan B.  It was actually comical--I started two other things before settling on the quiche we actually ate.  I also now have a head start on tomorrow's meal, so I guess that's good). 

I did go to the grocery store yesterday, and I spent $63.08.  This is an improvement over the last month, so I'll take it.  :) 

I do have a funny story from today, although I am somewhat reticent to post it here.  It's kind of embarrassing, but honestly it's too funny not to share!  So red-faced and all, here goes (if you're especially sensitive, stop reading here). 

Natalie got into the bathroom cabinet this morning.  She got into my stash of pads.  She tore open several, removed the backing to reveal the sticky strip, and stuck them to the toilet seat.  Oy!  They stick really well to porcelain, if you're interested.

She and Sarah are both also decorated (clothes, skin) in marker ink from art time today, but that's pretty normal.  :)  Hopefully my laundry skills will be able to rescue the clothing! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

no more mop and bucket

I have a Shark steam mop that I use to clean our floors.  I got it with my Christmas money (, I'm one of those weird people who enjoys getting things like household appliances for Christmas.  If you get inspired to buy me a blender, let me know!).  I like the convenience of the steam mop.  I like the fact that I don't have to mess with mop solution (I hate the smell of cleaning chemicals anyway.  Water is cheap and has no smell).  I like the fact that I can wash and reuse the mop pads, as opposed to the Swiffer where you have to keep purchasing new ones.  I like that it's lightweight and easy to use. 

But you know what my very favorite thing about the steam mop is?   Sarah loves it.  She asks to be allowed to mop.  Who ever heard of a kid begging to clean the floors?  My floor has been mopped more frequently since acquiring this mop than ever before.  I think it's been steam-mopped three times just since last night.

Today some sticky lemonade got spilled.  We all clean up our own messes around here, so Sarah got towels to sop up the liquid, then immediately got the steam mop to take care of the sticky.  It took about two minutes, tops.  Or it would have...if Sarah hadn't asked to mop the rest of the floor while she was at it!  Who am I to turn down a kid who is that excited to mop?  (By the way, Natalie likes the mop too.  She has a harder time maneuvering it, but she likes it.)

Maybe you should get one of these, huh?  It's kid--approved!  :)  (Yes, it's an affiliate link, but please take this post in the spirit it's intended; I just think it's cute the girls like the mop so much.  I'm not really trying to do a "hard sell."  Of course, if you DO happen to need a mop right now, it wouldn't hurt my feelings if you bought it through my link!)  ;) 

Euro-Pro Shark S3101 Electric Steam MopEuro-Pro Shark S3101 Electric Steam Mop

Monday, August 22, 2011


In a conversation with my SIL, I mentioned that I was menu planning today.  She asked if I was going to post my menus.  It's been awhile since I posted menus or grocery shopping results.  It's been awhile since I've even thought about menu planning or trying to save on the grocery budget.  My spending in this area shows this, unfortunately. 

Truth be known, I haven't felt overly great over the past few months and I haven't done much of anything.  The house, the blog, the budget, etc. have all shown the effects of this.  But I am slowly getting back on track and "back in the game."  So I'm going to go back to the beginning and start again.  I've had successes already; my exercise program has become more consistent the last couple of weeks.  I'm putting the house back in order.  And I know how much I spent on food in August so far so that I can begin to work toward lowering that amount in the weeks and months to come (and no, I'm not telling the amount.  It's embarrassing). 

However, I'm hopeful.  There's plenty of room for improvement here!  :) 

I haven't really assigned specific days to any of these meals; I was just trying to get down ideas of what I could make with what I have.  And some of the meals listed might not get made this week at all; I was giving myself some options and some wiggle room, so there are a few extras here to choose from. 

Pumpkin waffles
Cereal and milk
pumpkin pie oatmeal

Cheesy chicken and rice (thanks, Tara!)
Barbecue chicken pasta bake (thanks again, Tara!)--this one's iffy--not sure I have all the ingredients
Pasta carbonara
lentil tacos
burgers and fries
potato soup or taco soup
beef, black bean, and Spanish rice burritos or black bean burritos
macaroni and cheese

Saturday, August 13, 2011

a few Easter pics

In keeping with the previous post's theme of keeping promises, I seem to recall promising awhile back to post Easter pictures (okay, it was a LONG while back!).  Better late than never, right?

Please ignore me and just enjoy the girls in all of their Easter finery!

Sarah and Natalie had a great time coloring eggs with my dad. 

keeping a promise

I hate pictures of myself.  I'm not a big fan of taking pictures either (hence the lack of pictures on this blog), but at least being behind the camera keeps me from having to be in front of one.  Some people are photogenic; I don't happen to be one of them.

A few weeks ago, I got my hair cut.  It was the first time in about two years I have been able to get a cut, so quite a few inches got chopped.  With that much needing to go, I did a donation to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths.  I've been enjoying my much shorter, easier-to-deal-with hair.  Happily, I've gotten lots of compliments on the new look as well. 

My long-distance relatives want to see my new look though.  Nelson obligingly snapped a photo.  I really don't like the picture much, but I sort of promised that I would show my mother-in-law and sister-in-law the results of my trip to the salon. it is.  Terrible picture, but it will give you the idea anyway. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

a fun-festing we will go...

It's Fun Fest here in Kingsport, so activities abound.  We visited Netherland Inn Saturday (a historic site in town).  After church Sunday, we toured Allendale Mansion then visited Farm Fest.  I had never been to Farm Fest before, but we had a blast!  Sarah was able to play a dulcimer, wash clothes on a washboard, play in hay, string beans, core apples, and more.  We will definitely make it a point to return next year. 

Today we visited Fun Fest's "Kid Central."  There were plenty of carnival-type games, and we also got to see a magic show.  We may return later in the week for some of the other shows and activities there. 

If I really get my act together, I'll try to get some pictures of our activities throughout the week and post them here.  We'll see how that goes.  ;)

Monday, July 11, 2011

long time, no blog

I've noticed something; the longer that I go without posting, the harder it is to start back.  Inertia even affects blogging, I guess.  An object at rests tends to stay at rest, and a post unwritten seems to stay unwritten. 

Of course, once I get in a good groove, I tend to update regularly.  So here's hoping that Karen gets her groove back with this post. 

Nelson's parents are visiting.  Last week we went to the local Splash Pad and to Warriors' Path park to play on the Boundless Playground there (the name of the playground is Darrell's Dream.  Since Nelson's dad is named Darrell, this was an appropriate place to visit!).  Saturday we visited Bays Mountain.  We saw wolves (Sarah's favorite), deer (including several babies), owls, bobcats, and several varieties of fish. 

Today I did the mundane task of grocery shopping.  At least it should have been mundane.  Unfortunately, it ended up being something of an embarrassing trial.  I got my groceries, got to the checkout, and handed the clerk my frequent shopper card.  I even had my coupons ready to go.  But then I opened my wallet and realized that my debit card wasn't in it!  I had to have the cashier void out the order (thankfully she was quite gracious) and call home for Nelson to come rescue me.  He came, paid for the groceries, and all's well that ends well.  It was very embarrassing at the time though!  (And I have since located the missing debit card). 

Friday, May 6, 2011

cinco de mayo

I had hoped that today I would be posting about my fabulous Mexican feast from yesterday. However, it didn't quite live up to expectation. I attempted to make homemade tortillas, and it was a pretty big fail. Sarah liked them (God bless my wonderfully non-picky child), but they made a horrific mess, frustrated the daylight out of me, and generally just weren't very good. I think buying tortillas is a perfectly reasonable option. I liked last year's Cinco de Mayo (at a restaurant, with live music) MUCH better.

On a different note, since I "told" on Natalie's bad behavior, I'll be fair and tell the good stuff too.  Every day, school begins with prayer, Bible, and a book to help children learn parts of the Westminster shorter catechism.  Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God Natalie is present during all this, and apparently a little bit of it is "sticking."  She frequently tells us, "God cares me!" or "God cares you!"  And last night while she was in the tub Nelson overheard, "Pray Mommy, pray Daddy, pray God, amen."  So there is a silver lining--and a pretty big one at that.  :)

(Again, the link is an affiliate link).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

someone is two...

...very, VERY two! Miss Natalie is turning into an outright mess.

Tonight she dumped water out of the bathtub. When Nelson firmly told her that water was supposed to stay in the tub, she adorably exclaimed, "I sorry!" "No, you're not," Nelson retorted. "I know!" Natalie answered cheerfully.

"For Pete's sake," Nelson muttered to himself as he cleaned the mess she had made. "Pete's sake!" Natalie echoed.

Yesterday was the real kicker, though. She had dumped Sarah's math flash cards all over the living room floor. I told her to clean them up. She said no. I told her she could clean them up, or sit in time-out. She said, "Make me."

I'll admit to being a bit taken aback (where'd she learn that one, anyway?), but that didn't keep from responding. I swatted her diapered bottom and put her in the play pen. She wailed in outrage. But after she was down to the last few sobs, I asked if she was ready to clean up the cards. "Yes," she replied.

The funny thing is, even though "Make me" is a horribly disrespectful thing to say, she sounded so unbelievably cute saying it! I didn't let her know that of course, but she did. I think my mother is right, and God makes kids cute so you don't kill them.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Easter and birthdays

I promised myself I wouldn't post this first story until I had the pictures to go with it. But here I am, doing it anyway. Oops. (I do have good news for a certain SIL of mine--our church is doing photo directories, and guess who's being dragged off to do a family portrait? Guess who's not really looking forward to this? I may call in dead. But that's another post.)

Anyway, we DID take pictures of the girls in their Easter dresses. Natalie wouldn't do a picture without me in it. Since I haven't quite figured out how to photo-shop myself out of the pictures, I guess I'll show up too when I get them on here. No, that isn't why they aren't up least not consciously. :-p

We went to my parents' house for supper on Easter Sunday. As we were leaving, I tried to get Natalie to say, "Bye! Happy Easter!" With all the enthusiasm in the world, she exclaimed, "Bye, Easter!" She did this several times. Even in the car going home, as we talked with Nelson's mom, Natalie kept happily proclaiming, "Bye, Easter!"

Fast forward to this morning. It is Nelson's birthday. I told the girls to tell him happy birthday. Natalie immediately and cheerfully came out with "Happy Easter!" NOW she gets it right! On the wrong occasion!

I'll try to get the pictures on here soon. Until then, bye Easter and happy birthday and all that. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

believing in the unseen

Sarah and I have been reading C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia together as part of school.  We are currently on Book 4 (I go by the original order, not the new one), The Silver Chair.  It contains one of the best descriptions of faith I have ever read.  Lewis just knocks it out of the park with this one.  The scene is the evil witch attempting to convince the heroes that Narnia is mere make-believe that they have conjured up, not real at all.  Aslan is also a figment of their imaginations.  Here is Puddleglum's response:

"...I won't deny any of what you've said.  But there's one more thing to be said, even so.  Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all these things--trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself.  Suppose we have.  Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important that the real ones.  Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world.  Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.  And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it.  We're just babies making up a game, if you're right.  But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow.  That's why I'm going to stand by the play world.  I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it.  I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.  So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland.  Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."

There are many who would claim that Christianity is a myth, a child's fairy tale.  When you are facing discouragement and despair, when you are hearing the witch whispering in your ear and you are starting to believe her, when this "black pit of a kingdom" seems to be all there is, remember Puddleglum's words.  It is worth it to live as a Narnian and to follow Aslan.  The child's make-believe completely trumps the real world every time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

spice girl

I've already posted about Natalie getting into the pantry and getting a mouthful of cloves.  At Christmas,  while I was attempting to make fruitcake, she poured out the entire bottle of vanilla extract.  Well, today we had another venture into spice world. 

I was making cinnamon toast for breakfast.  In an effort to "healthy it up" a bit, I used honey instead of white sugar.  I was mixing the butter, cinnamon, and honey together in a bowl so I could spread it on the slices of bread.  Natalie (who had already snitched a bite of bread) got a hold of the cinnamon...and dumped most of it on said piece of bread. 

Oh, what a mess.  I managed to get most of it cleaned up and even got most of it scraped off of the bread.  But it was still the most cinnamon-y bread you have EVER seen.  There was a TON of cinnamon on that bread.

Natalie loved it.  She devoured every last bite.  We joked that she's a new Spice Girl.  Nelson jokingly dubbed her "Bratty Spice."  I think maybe Mischief Spice would work. 

goals, part 1

So I totaled up our grocery store expenditures from March 1 through yesterday, to see how we're doing. Frankly, there's plenty of room for growth!  I am reading all of Money Saving Mom's posts about shopping at CVS to try to learn how to score toiletries for free, because I do include toiletries and diapers and such in my grocery budget.  So learning to reduce my costs on those items leaves more room for food!

Some things that HAVE gone well this past month: I discovered Amazon's Subscribe and Save program.  I am absolutely thrilled with the deals I got on Luvs diapers, Pampers baby wipes, and Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 15-Ounce Tubs (Pack of 2). Angel Food Ministries continues to be a huge help to our efforts to keep our grocery bill in check.  Our local farmers' market starts up in May, and my fabulous SIL has inspired me to check it out.  I'm definitely excited about that.  I have a rain check to score a great deal on whole wheat pasta at Kroger as soon as they restock.
Our downfall?  We eat out way. Too. Much.  When I am tired, when my head hurts, when I don't feel good, that ends up being an easy (but expensive!) option!  My husband is far too understanding and sweet for our own good!  I'm trying to come up with better back-up plans.  This is going to be absolutely crucial for us.

I am also using a book I got for Christmas to develop a "migraine wellness plan." I'll post more about that  as I get the kinks worked out.  However, if you happen to be a fellow headache sufferer, the book is The Migraine Brain: Your Breakthrough Guide to Fewer Headaches, Better Health.

I read on another blog that the USDA or some other such group estimates that a family of four will spend $500 a month if they are following a "thrifty" plan.  If I understand correctly, this is JUST the cost of food at home--I don't think it includes toiletries or eating out.  I am pleased to say we spend WAY less that that.

I did have a "creative cuisinery" moment yesterday that I am quite proud of.  I needed to go grocery shopping, but it just didn't happen.  So I was frantically searching for something we could have for supper.  I had no flour, no milk, none of my usual go-to items.  But I found a recipe for "Kusherie" in my More-With-Less Cookbook (World Community Cookbook) (highly recommend it, by the way).  It's an Egyptian lentils and rice dish.  It turned out great (Sarah especially loved it). So there's hope that I can improve as time goes on.

For the record, we spent $279 total on groceries, diapers, toiletries, etc. from Mar. 1 through Apr. 7.  That averages out to about $69.75 per week.  I would actually be very pleased with that total if it weren't for the eating out that we did on top of it!  So here's to making improvements next month.

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, the links are affiliate links.  If you click the link and end up purchasing the item, I will receive a small kickback.  And lest you think that I'm suddenly going to start cluttering up the blog with affiliate links, never fear.  I will only link to things I really and truly love, and it will be rare.  This is probably the only time you will see three links in one post; I was mainly trying to get things set up and make sure it was working properly.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

a recipe

A couple of months ago our Angel Food order contained a bag of black-eyed peas.  I had never eaten black-eyed peas, let alone cooked them.  I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do with them, but I started prowling the Internet looking for recipes. 

I finally decided that I would try black-eyed pea and lentil soup.  I used this recipe as a starting point, but if you know me you know I didn't follow that recipe exactly!  I used the crockpot to cook my soup in, I used homemade chicken stock instead of water and bouillon, and I subbed onion powder for the onion.  I didn't have any diced tomatoes, so I used a jar of my grandmother's home canned tomatoes.  And we topped our soup with cheese.

The soup wasn't too bad, but if I make it again I will definitely make some changes.  It needs more flavor.  I think I'd add more cumin, some fresh garlic, and...bacon.  We really thought bacon would help it.  I'm not sure what it says about us that we take a perfectly healthy recipe of legume soup and want to add bacon--probably nothing good.

I'm considering hoppin' john or Texas caviar to use up the rest of the black-eyed peas.  If you don't know what those are, Google it.  Or, if you're smart do a Swagbucks search

I know I haven't posted shopping reports and menus much lately.  I'm going to total up what I've spent the last couple of months and see how I did.  That way I can evaluate how I'm doing, what's working, and what needs to change.  I'm quite certain there will be plenty of things that need to change!  I know I haven't done as well as I would have liked.  But seeing where I am will help me make a plan to where I want to be. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

a little link luv

Check out this article by my dad (it may be the first in a series; I'm not sure).  Anyway, it's about Bible study, so check it out!

pumpkin chronicles?

Yesterday was Day of the Pumpkin at the Butterworth house!  It was kind of like Thanksgiving in March!

It started with pumpkin pie oatmeal for breakfast.  Sarah woke up with a slight sore throat, and this oatmeal is not only jam-packed with nutrition, but I figured the hot cereal would soothe as well.  (I add a little bit of maple syrup to the recipe; the girls and I love it!)

But the pumpkin oatmeal only uses part of a can of pumpkin puree.  So I thought an afternoon treat was in order--pumpkin spice lattes!  Oh, the girls went gaga over this.  I drank most of it, but both of them loved what I let them drink (I used vanilla almond milk so that Natalie could partake.  Boy, was she thrilled with her special drink!).

But I still had leftover pumpkin!  And I'll be honest--I really didn't want to cook supper last night.  Ever have one of those nights where you just don't want to?  I didn't have a good excuse--just wasn't in the mood.  But we have to eat, and since I hadn't had the foresight to defrost something it was looking like boxed mac and cheese was going to have to do it.  :-p  (Thankfully I got a SLAMMING deal on Annie's at Kroger last week!)

But I got to thinking.  Sometimes I can convince Nelson to make omelets when we do breakfast-for-supper.  And since I had pumpkin puree, I could make pumpkin waffles!  Yummy!

So that was how one can of pumpkin fed us three times yesterday.  We may all turn orange.  Won't we look like dedicated UT fans then?  ;) 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

the logic of children

I have a pen that I absolutely love, a silver Cross pen.  It is beautiful and feminine, and I really enjoying writing with it.  I use it to make notes, plan school lessons, jot recipes, and so forth, but its most common function comes as I write in my daily planner.  I am one of those people who is completely lost without a detailed plan for my day. 

Natalie got a hold of my beloved pen last week.  Naturally, she lost it.  Every time I asked where my pen was, she would say, "Where it go?" and "Find it!"  She found part of it (yes, she took it apart).  But she could not remember where she had put the other half.  I had seen her with near the recliner in the living room, so I dug around in it and moved it to look underneath.  No luck.  I looked under the couch.  Nope.  After scouring the whole living room, I still had no clue where my pen was. 

I spent much of the week planning my days with a pen of Sarah's.  She was less than thrilled about this turn of events, and I couldn't claim to be crazy about it either.  I didn't want to be using her pen anymore than she wanted to lend it to me; I wanted my pen back.  But Natalie had no clue where she had stashed it.

I finally found the pen a couple of days ago--in a location so logical, it should have been the one of the first places I looked!  My planner has a back pocket for stashing receipts or notes or whatever.  I was digging out an old receipt that I'd stowed there and lo and behold, there was my pen.  Why on earth hadn't it occurred to me that Natalie would put the darn thing back with my planner?

I am reminded of a similar incident from when Sarah was about Natalie's age.  We lived in an apartment, and Sarah liked to help me taking clothing out of the dryer.  This particular dryer had the lint filter in the door, not up on top.  So when the dryer door was opened, the filter was well within Sarah's reach. 

Well, one day she took off with the lint filter and hid it.  We looked and looked, but could not find it anywhere.  Nelson finally went to a parts store and purchased a new filter; I had to be able to use the dryer.  Months later, as I was cleaning the not-so-new-anymore lint filter, I noticed something down in the now empty compartment.  I pulled it out and yep, you guessed it, it was the original lint filter.  It was mangled beyond words from being shoved down so far into the door, but it had been pretty much where it should have been all along. 

So the moral of the story is that if your child loses something, you'll probably find it "hiding in plain sight" in a perfectly reasonable, logical place. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

the innocence of children

I have already mentioned several times how much we love The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Natalie even will ask, "Watch Dyke?"  The other day we watched an episode from the series titled "That's My Boy??"  For those unfamiliar with the show, this is one of its most well-known and well-remembered episodes.  It contains a scene which made the list of "100 Most Memorable TV Moments" put together by TV Land and TV Guide several years ago.

The story is told as a flashback.  Rob (Van Dyke's character) remembers the birth of his son Ritchie and the early days after bringing him home from the hospital.  Through a series of events, Rob becomes convinced that there has been a mix-up and he and his wife have brought home the wrong baby.  He believes that they have the baby of the Peters  family, and that the Peters likewise have baby boy Petrie.

Rob finally talks with Mr. Peters on the phone and arranges for him to come by the house.  Mr. and Mrs. Peters arrive at the Petrie house...and it turns out that they are an African-American couple.  The studio audience laughed so long at this big reveal that the film crew had to stop the cameras for a few minutes to let the commotion die down.  And even though this was the 1960s, it was not the black couple who were looking foolish in the scene; Rob was the one who appeared to be the dolt.  In fact, Mr. Peters is clearly depicted as the one with the upper hand: when Rob stammers, "Why didn't you tell me on the phone?" Mr. Peters retorts, "And miss the expression on your face?" 

And yes, there is a point to all this.  As I started with, we viewed this episode the other day.  Sarah thoroughly enjoyed the show...but she didn't get the punchline.  At all.  And the more I thought about it, the more completely cool I think this is. 

Sarah has noticed differences in skin color on occasion; once or twice she has even commented or asked questions about it.  But I realized after watching this episode with her that she had attached absolutely no significance whatsoever to it.  At the episode's end, she laughingly said, "Rob got the wrong baby!"  I told her that no, he just thought he did.  Her expression changed to one of frowning confusion.  It really hadn't occurred to her that the arrival of an African-American couple meant that a mix-up of the babies was nigh near impossible.  

How wonderfully color-blind my Sarah is.  I pray she always stays that way. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

menu plan...Tuesday?

So I kind of skipped Menu Plan Monday.  The funny thing is, I DID plan my menus...I did it Sunday evening.  But I never got it posted yesterday...the day just kind of got away from me.  But anyway, here is part of what we're going to be eating this week.  I actually planned more meals than I will need; I like to have options.

Oh, and Nelson spent $15.43 at Ingles Sunday night.  He got necessary things like tortillas and oxygen bleach...and chips.  Okay, so THOSE weren't necessary.  We probably needed milk more.  Oops.

Cold cereal and milk (had this Monday)
Cinnamon raisin toast (this was today's meal, using leftover bread from last night)
Baked oatmeal (this often gets us two meals)
Doughnuts (these are a gift from my parents most weeks and make for a fun Saturday breakfast.  Back-up plan is leftover waffles).

Leftovers or tortilla wraps/quesadillas

Taco soup and cinnamon raisin bread
Omelets and blueberry-lemon muffins
Hamburgers, potatoes, and applesauce
Black bean burritos, veggies
Dinner with my parents
Potato soup, bread
Baked pasta, veggies, bread

A quick note about taco soup: this is becoming a family favorite!  I had read about it on the Internet for ages, but I couldn't find a version of it that I could eat.  A friend of mine finally gave me her recipe, and we have been enjoying it since.  Sarah raves about it when we eat it. 

The cinnamon raisin bread is another winner.  It's a new recipe, but it is sooooo good.  And it makes wonderful toast in the mornings.  :) 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

music baby

In January, Sarah and Natalie started a weekly Kindermusik class.  They are both having a GREAT time.  For Sarah, returning to Kindermusik is like reuniting with an old friend.   For Natalie, however, it's her first Kindermusik experience, and it's been delightful to watch.  She loves the instruments and the games and especially the songs!  

Part of the take-home materials are CDs of the songs from class.  Both girls love to listen to the CDs in the car.  Now that we've been in the class for a few weeks, Natalie is becoming more familiar with the music and is starting to sing along...which is both precious and hilarious.  

One of the songs on the CD is "Skinnamarink."  The lyrics are:

Skinnamarink-a-doo I love you
Skinnamarink-a-doo I love you
I love you in the morning and in the afternoon
I love you in the evening and underneath the moon
Skinnamarink-a-doo I love you.

Or as Natalie sings it, "Dink, dink, wuv you!"

Then there's the song "Toodala."  This was one of Natalie's initial favorites.  It's a nonsense song, with simple lyrics: 

Mighty pretty motion, toodala
Toodala, toodala.
Mighty pretty motion, toodala
Toodala-la lady.

From the very first time that she heard the song, Natalie sang along, "Too-de-wa."  In fact, even as I type this, she is singing “Too-de-wa” into a toy headset.

The last song that I really enjoy listening to her attempts at singing is the good-bye number at the end of class. Those lyrics are:

Sing your way through the week
Sing and sway cheek to cheek
Sing and play, every day
Sing, sing, sing

Good-bye to sisters,
Good-bye to brothers,
Good-bye to grown-ups,
Sing good-bye.

Of course, Natalie's version is simply “Sing, sing, bye.” 

I would love to get a recording of her versions of the music sometime, but I don't know if I'll be able to do that.  She tends to not perform on command.  ;)  But hopefully "recording" it here will at least preserve the memory.  She's awfully cute to hear!   

Saturday, March 5, 2011

it's not easy being pink...

Back in January, Sarah came down with pink eye in both eyes.  We tried to be extra careful as we treated her so that no one else would get it  We were successful, and once Sarah was better, we were done with pink eye. 

In the last couple of weeks, we've all come down with colds.  It's been a humdinger of a cold, and no one is recovering very quickly.  I've been especially worried about Natalie.  Colds have a tendency to turn into ear infections for her.  For awhile last year, she was getting an ear infection every 2-3 months.  It has been about 9 months since her last one, so we had definitely broken the pattern.  Still, the cold was making me edgy...especially when she started screaming one night.

I took her to the doctor (our pediatrician is now in a new office, which is very nice--and closer to our house!).  Natalie didn't have an ear infection, but she did have an infection in her throat...and pink eye. 

Putting eye drops into Sarah's eyes when she had pink eye wasn't a picnic, but it was doable.  Putting eye drops into Natalie's eye, however, has been darn near impossible.  It is a battle each and every time, and it takes both me and Nelson to get the eye drops in.  I will be glad when it is over, and I hope we can keep it from spreading to anyone else again. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

a conversation transcribed

For breakfast this morning, Natalie ate a piece of cinnamon swirl raisin bread with butter.  She ate the butter off first, which led to the following conversation.

Natalie: More butter.
Me: Where's the butter you had?
Natalie (looking around and lifting her hands in a shrug): Butter...where?
Me: Yes, where did it go?
Natalie (a repeat, almost exactly, of her above response)
Me: Where is the butter?
Natalie: Butter car!
Me (laughing): The butter went in the car?
Natalie: Yes.
Me: The butter isn't supposed to go in the car.  It's supposed to go in your tummy!
Natalie: Oh.  Cute! 
Me (still laughing): Eat your bread.
Natalie: Eat supper!

Sooo...if you happen to see any butter driving around in a car today, please send it back to us.  Apparently it's Natalie's escaped butter from breakfast (or supper, according to her!) 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

a picture

Yesterday at the mall my dad took Sarah and Natalie into one of those photo booths that creates a sketch.  Here are the results.  :)

exciting news!

I am thrilled beyond words to be typing up this blog post.  I held off writing until I felt sure, but it's been long enough that I feel confident.  :) 

Sarah was diagnosed with acid reflux when she was three months old.  She has been on daily medication ever since.  She started on Zantac, and as she got older we kept having to increase the dose.  The doctor assured us that most babies outgrew reflux before they reached toddlerhood, but Sarah was still on Zantac when she was four.  In fact, by that time we had pretty much maxed out the dosage possible.  And still her reflux wasn't really under control.  So the doctor switched her to Prevacid.

Unfortunately, the switch to Prevacid came during one of the tightest financial periods we have ever had.  The prescription Prevacid Solu-tabs cost more than the Zantac syrup, and Sarah had to have it.  My SIL kept encouraging me to take Sarah to a chiropractor, but we couldn't afford to do so.  There were times when I had to fill only seven or ten days' worth of the prescription at a time; thankfully the pharmacy was always very accommodating.

Then last January, Prevacid went over the counter.  Now instead of $116 for a 30-day prescription, I could pay $25 for a 42-day supply!  They were of course capsules instead of Solu-tabs, but I taught Sarah how to swallow them and we were good to go.  Sometimes we could even find coupons.  Then last month we found that Amazon had 42-day supplies for only $16--even better!

But now we have the BEST news of all!  After six years of praying and hoping and struggling to come up with the needed medicine--Sarah finally doesn't need it anymore!  She has been without Prevacid for over TWO WEEKS now.  No stmachaches, no churning, no reflux.

After six years of daily medicines, six years of worrying about the effects of this over the course of a lifetime, six years of scrambling to pay for it, to say that we are thrilled by this turn of events is an understatement.  We are rejoicing and praising God.  We are truly grateful for Sarah's healing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

menu plans and mosaics

Well, remember when I said that having a migraine made me feel more like plucking out my eyeballs than cooking?  Well, it doesn't make me feel like planning to cook either.  And that boxed mac and cheese came in very handy Monday evening.

So Menu Plan Monday didn't happen, and I'm just winging it this week.  Thankfully, we have enough on hand that winging it is easy.  :)  Last night we had pork, green beans, and cinnamon raisin bread.  Tonight it's a chicken and rice dish.

In other news, Sarah has this "mosaic" art set.  She loves creating "masterpieces" with it.  The box promises that it is a "mess-free" activity.

The box lies.  Either the creator of this activity never met a child, or I simply have a very unique and talented daughter.  There are little adhesive mosaic pieces all over the house--on the furniture, the floor, our clothes, Natalie's hair, etc.

The pictures do look pretty when she's finished though.  :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

grocery shopping report

Okay, back to the attempts to lower our food bill by remaining accountable.  One of my goals for 2011 is really attacking the grocery budget and getting it as low as I can.  I don't have any illusions of getting to $40 per week like some of the Internet legends; I have too many food sensitivities, and I have a kid in diapers!  I am going to start with a goal of $80 per week and see if I can eventually get it down to $60 per week.  We'll see how it goes.  Food coupons don't tend to be very useful to me, but I'm going to try to use more toiletry coupons and try to score freebies like Money Saving Mom does.  :)

So here is what we bought this week.  I now have a fully stocked freezer and pantry and will attempt to post a menu plan on Monday for how we intend to use all this bounty.

I placed an order with Angel Food Ministries and paid $35.48 for it.  We received in our "Bread of Life" box yesterday:

2 lbs. hamburger steaks
2 lbs. chicken breast filets (boneless, skinless)
1 macaroni and beef frozen entree
1 lb. ground beef
1 boneless pork chops
1 lb. smoked sausage
1 lb. frozen corn
1 lb. frozen green beans
1 lb. frozen sugar snap peas and carrots
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 lb. kidney beans
1 packet chili seasoning mix
8 oz. box Jiffy biscuit mix
10 envelopes instant oatmeal
32 oz. 2% milk
1 dozen eggs
8 oz. box Jiffy chocolate chip cookie mix

I also did a quick Food City run earlier in the week.  I spent $34.94 and purchased:

2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 gallon of Silk Pure Almond milk
2 packages of tortillas
1 lb. black beans
2 Valu Time boxes macaroni and cheese
1 box of Valu Time Honey Nut Oat cereal
4 packets Valu Time drink mix (cherry, orange, grape, and strawberry)
1 lb. Land o Frost honey ham sandwich meat
1 4 oz. tube Crest toothpaste (used coupon)
2.55 lbs. bananas
5 lbs. red potatoes

I spent a total of $70.42 between Angel Food and the grocery store.  With what I got and what I already had on hand, I think I can feed us very well for at least a couple of weeks.  I'm going to see how far I can stretch our supplies, although we may need personal products next week.  :)

Oh, and just to reassure my foodie friends: I do normally make homemade macaroni and cheese.  But I find it helpful to have a couple of convenience foods on hand for nights when I have a killer migraine and feel more like pulling my eyeballs out than cooking.  And there are not many convenience foods I can eat.  But I CAN eat the $0.25 boxes of store brand mac and cheese.  So they make a good emergency back-up meal.  As for the faux Cheerios, Natalie likes to snack on them.  Sarah requested the Kool-Aid knock-offs as a special treat.  Since they were on sale for $0.12 apiece, I obliged her.  :)

This post is linked to Money Saving Mom.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I thought that since we were home (leaving my parents with a smelly guest room and Natalie's perfume-y clothes) and since Natalie had a good scrub in the tub last night, I was done with headache-inducing odor.  But no.  We are having a wee bit of spring-like weather, and as I got Natalie ready to go outside, I caught the overpowering whiff of Oscar de la Renta again.  I couldn't figure out where it was coming from.  She was wearing clean clothes!  She'd had a bath! 

Then I was coming from her shoes


curiosity killed the cat...

Or in this case, the perfume bottle.  And my head.  And I think my dad's head.  And possibly an outfit and maybe even some carpet.

Oh, boy.  :-p

Fridays usually find us at my parents' house.  We all look forward to the weekly visit.  Sarah and Natalie especially enjoy playing with the children my mother cares for.  Since my parents added a new bedroom and bathroom to the house, the kids often play in the old bedroom, which is basically a guest room now.

My mom still keeps some things in that old bedroom though--including her perfume collection.  She has this pretty stand with glass shelves that holds all of her bottles of fragrance.  It sits next to a dresser in a part of the room that the kids don't use.  The little girl who is Natalie's age showed fascination with the perfumes, but Mom had taught her that it was off-limits, so it wasn't really an issue.

Natalie isn't there five days a week like Emma is though, and she hadn't quite gotten that whole "off-limits" memo yet.

Natalie wondered over to my dad early yesterday afternoon proclaiming, "Wet!"  Dad noticed that the front of her shirt and pants were indeed very wet.  He figured she had leaked through her diaper.  I picked her up to go change her and quickly realized that she was sporting a smell that was decidedly NOT diaper-ish.

Upon examination of the bedroom, several scattered bottles of perfume were discovered.  A bottle of Oscar de la Renta was emptied completely.  There was a large, fragrant spot on the carpet.  Natalie and the room both reeked.  Perfume is great in small quantities, but there was nothing small about this.

My head hurt from the fumes, and my mother is still working on trying to get the smell out of Natalie's clothes.  I don't know HOW she'll get the room de-odorized.

This is not usually what one means when one tells of a "stinky mishap" a child has had!

Natalie also managed to mark my dad's footstool with a Sharpie and close herself into the bathroom in an attempt to squirt soap everywhere.  She had a GREAT day!

Monday, January 17, 2011

biker babes

I think both girls have a future as biker chicks.

Remember this post?  Sarah hopped on the back of a child's motorized vehicle without hesitation.

It turns out she also has an obsession with tattoos.  Temporary tattoos, thankfully.  But she's passing it on to Natalie.

With some of her Christmas money, Sarah got some temporary tattoos at Wal-Mart.  She was super excited about this.  She could not wait to apply the tattoos to "make [herself] beautiful."  The pack included things like rainbows and butterflies and flowers.

She's been tattooing the whole household.  Natalie loves it.

Every time Natalie pulls up a sleeve or otherwise sees one of the tattoos Sarah has bestowed on her, she enthusiastically proclaims, "NICE!"  She can say tattoo too.  It sounds kind of like TAT-too, or sometimes TAT-tow.  When she discovered some her tattoos were coming off, she woefully held up her now unadorned arm and said, "Want TAT-too?"

As long as the tattoos stay temporary, I think we'll be okay.  :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 top ten

Choosing your Top 10 favorite blogs is HARD.  I like so many of them, and they're all my favorites!  But here is my best effort...for today, anyway.  Tomorrow I might have a whole different list!  :-p

10. Doctor Who fan series--review I'm not stupid; I know that no one cared about this post except for me.  But I was so excited to have been asked to review this series.  It was like I was a kid in elementary school again, and I got picked for the team.

9. A Few More Pictures  I love this post because of the multi-generational photos.  We don't get to see Nelson's side of the family nearly often enough, and so these pictures are precious.

8. Ponderings and Reflections A little deeper than my normal anecdotes-about-the-children fare.

7. A Few Random Photos Some sweet pictures of everyday stuff.

6. Got Yo?  I love how babies mispronounce words as they are first learning to talk.  I also loved that Natalie has already figured out that her frozen treats are different from the rest of us.  So this post wins on two counts.  Well, I confess to liking the title too; I thought it was rather clever.

5. I Can't Believe... A sweet story of Natalie trying to imitate her big sister.

4. I wish... One of those daily updates of things I will want to remember one day...with a humorous twist at the end.  :)

3. A Great New Skill... I thought Sarah's logic was sound, even if her results weren't exactly correct. 

2. I Have Seen a Vision of the Future.  I'm not sure the story was as hilarious in print as it was in person.  But watching it happen was one of THE funniest things I have ever seen.

1. Natalie's First Birthday.  How could this not be my favorite of 2010?