Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Last night, the husband and I took the kids to Temple Square in Salt Lake City to see the light display.  We had a "discussion" on the last time we went.  I knew we went 2 years ago, but The Rock and VOD both told me I was wrong, that it was 3 years ago.

Proof that I'm awesome.


I may not have the best memory, but there is no way Little Man was that big at 5 months old.  That coat is a 2T.  The Santa outfit he has on under it is 18-24 months and baby girl wore it last night!  That picture was taken 2 years ago.  And I was newly pregnant with Baby Girl.  (We didn't go the year he was 5 months old because he was a preemie and susceptible to lung problems and we didn't go last year either, because our family did not fit in the vehicle we had.)

After that "discussion", we walked through the square.  The Rock wanted to see the nativity -- a recording reads the story of our Savior's birth, plays some hymns, and words from our prophet.  I was terribly disoriented because we entered the square from a different direction than I ever have before.  So I followed The Rock, as he carried our little girl.  VOD and LM stayed with me mostly.  When we got to the area where the nativity was set up, the light from the star was shining down on baby Jesus and the choir was singing. 

I started sniffling as we neared Him.  The Spirit filled my soul with joy -- to know that we were seeking our Savior as a family, on Christmas Eve, the night before His birth, was a powerful witness.  We had not rested until we found Him.  

In our lives as Christians, we are to continually seek after Him and follow Him, obeying His commandments and following His example.  We are all human, and we are going to sin.  He knew this and gave us the Atonement so we can all repent and come back to His presence.  But if we persevere, not resting until we find Him, no matter how disoriented we might get, we will return to Him.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, whether you are Christian or not.  Happy holidays to those of you with other beliefs.  The holiday season is a season of joy and love, no matter what your religion, creed, race, gender, orientation, or financial status.  I hope you've all found joy and love and peace this year, as I did last night in the lights of Temple Square.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy 18 months baby girl!

In our church, the meetings last 3 hours on Sunday.  First is the Sacrament meeting, where we take the sacrament and hear talks and sing hymns.  Second is Sunday School, and third the men and women separate into different classes.  Children stay together in age groups, but have two different classes called Primary.  There's the basic rundown.

Infants under 18 months stay with their parents.  This means from the time they are mobile, parents often miss their meetings because they are all over the place.  At 18 months, they go into the nursery during the second two meetings but stay with their parents during Sacrament meeting.

When Little Man was old enough for nurser, he refused to go in.  He cried and screamed and would only stay if I went in with him.  But I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with Baby Girl, tired, nauseated ... it was HARD.  He didn't start going to nursery until we moved 18 months ago.  He loved nursery from the minute we started going to this ward (congregation), and only had a problem staying in there one time.

He's still in nursery until January 1.

Baby Girl turned 18 months last week, but the boiler in our building was broken, so they canceled everything but Sacrament meeting.  So today, they got to go to nursery together.  She ran in and got to playing, and he sat down and did the big kid activities.  It was so cute to peek in and see them running around together.  I'm a bit sad it's only going to be the one time, since next week we only have Sacrament meeting because it's Christmas, and Little Man then goes into Primary the next week.  It's bittersweet to see them getting bigger.

On the other hand, I'm excited because for the first time in 3-1./2 years, I got to pee by myself at church.

In case I don't get back to blogging this week, Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Halfway through December ...

Most of the holiday shopping was done a few months ago.  The baking is just beginning.

Which is why the kids got chocolate chip cookies for lunch today.

Well.  Part of the reason.

Yesterday at church, one of the sisters who comes to visit me monthly said they wanted to come over today.  I started panicking.

Every weekend, our house seems to get trashed.  Every room, top to bottom, every flat surface, even vertical surfaces at times... just STUFF everywhere.  I'm a culprit, I know, but when VOD and The Rock are home, the mess multiplies.  So Mondays are my "catch up" days.

Today, Baby Girl had a checkup first thing.  And I was supposed to go to La Leche League.

I couldn't clean it all up last night; I haven't clipped my coupons in two months (bag over head), and the piles of inserts were threatening to take over the dining room.  So I guess in a way I did clean a bit, because I got through about 80% of the inserts last night and put all the trash in the recycling box.

So, we went to the doctor.  Baby Girl managed to leak through her diaper and soak her pants; she never does this, so I don't always have a spare pair of pants in the van.  The decision was made for me -- no LLL meeting today, just went straight home after the doctor.  (She's growing, thriving, communicating, and he has no concerns even though she likes to eat pencil erasers and glitter.)

Tried for an HOUR to get her down for her nap.  She started punching me halfway through that, so I got up and left and she hid in the corner and pooped.  Oh.  Change the diaper (4th change by 10:45 a.m.) and try for the nap again.  Phone rings.  Preschooler making noise and jumping on us.  The next half hour was a struggle, but she did go to sleep, so I started cleaning.  And worked super fast.

It is not spotless.  The dishes haven't been done.  The table is still cluttered.  But all the junk is off the living room floor and out of the hallway.  Vacuuming has been done.  Coats are about to be hung up.  I ate lunch while the cookies baked, and then gave the kids cookies and milk for lunch.  Hush.

I now have 4 laundry baskets full of laundry to put away, plus the washer and dryer are full and there are three loads of laundry to still put in, and I do need to do the dishes and clear my crafting stuff away, but you know what?  We are miles ahead of where we were a few months ago.  You can sit on the couch.  You can GET to the couch.  You can walk down the hall without tripping on anything.  You can get to my son's bed without leaping over piles of his sister's stuff.  (the same cannot be said for the sister's bed because her stuff is on the floor, but at least it's migrated to her own room.)

And I realized that even though I get stressed out about various things, I'm miles ahead of where I was a year ago, because my postpartum depression is better.  On a bad day, I still have to take my herbs and chill by myself for a little while, but I can DO that now without worrying myself nearly to death over it.  My husband understands that I WILL clean up messes, and if it's something he wants, he'd better put it away himself before I get to it.  The kids are learning to clean up after themselves, too, and I'm making progress on my research project.

If I think about where I was a year ago, I cry.  Because I was in bad shape emotionally and was not enjoying life.  Even though I still have days where I cry, we still have money problems, the kids are still rambunctious and wear me out, and I am tired more often than not, I am enjoying my life now.  I can see a light at the end of the tunnel and am hopeful that things will continue to improve.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this:  Everyone has times that are bad.  Everyone does.  If someone says they've never had a struggle or trial, they are lying.  But eventually, you get through it and things are so much better on the other side.  So if you're in the throes of a depression, or just a rough spot in life, keep plugging away.because it WILL get better.

And you might decide that some days, it's not so bad to give the kids chocolate chip cookies for lunch.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Clean your microwave!

Sadly, my microwave doesn't get cleaned very often. Confession: I don't think I've cleaned it since we moved in (July 2010) until today!  It was funk nasty, but it didn't occur to me to take a before picture. Just trust me. It was bad.

So, how did I go from nasty to this in less than 3 minutes, with no chemicals or scrubbing?


Answer: I filled a mug 3/4 with plain tap water and nuked it for 5 minutes. The mess wipes right out, in under 3 minutes (obviously the 3 minutes doesn't include the steam time).

Thanks to the random sister at church years ago who taught me this trick.  Wish I could remember who you are right now!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Happy holidays!

Hello dear readers!

Thanksgiving was a bust at our house: the stomach flu came for a visit.  YAY!

Little Mister woke up at 5 puking, and VOD started around 8.  I felt fine and so did The Rock, so I cooked anyway.  We didn't go anywhere and just had a chill day at home in between puke episodes.  The Rock and I had dinner around 2 ... and I started feeling sick around 4.

I don't know if I'll ever eat dressing again.

But!  The Rock!  He was off for the long weekend and helped clean up after the kids and me and was loving and kind and helpful.  It was awesome!

A few days later, I was feeling much better and cleaning the kitchen and I realized something.  Even though I didn't do my routine for several days and there was stuff EVERYWHERE (because, let's face it, even though The Rock had a decent weekend didn't mean he turned into a neat freak), it took less time to clean up the kitchen after Thanksgiving than it did a year ago.  Because it was already CLEAN, just cluttered.  Crazy.

One thing I discovered I love about my kitchen is that the counter top is so big, nice and wide, that it makes a great cutting surface -- more than big enough for my cutting mat and rotary cutter and lots of fabric.

This means I've been crafting and not doing homework, but I'm working on my research paper finally.  Woohoo!  Hoping to get it done by 12/15 so I can enjoy Christmas with the family.

Assuming the stomach flu stays far, far away.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fish tacos ... er, burritos?

We have to try this with real fish and not frozen fish sticks someday, but they hit the spot where I keep my craving for Del Taco fish tacos.  Only these were better.  Really.  I just used what I had on hand because I realized at 4:15 I had nothing thawed to make for dinner. 

Fish sticks (8 per burrito)

Flour tortillas
Mayonnaise (about 1/2 c)
Dill pickle relish (about 1-1/2 Tbs)
Sweet pickle relish (about 1 Tbs of the juice only and about 1 tsp of the relish)
Tomatoes (2 large romas)
Shredded broccoli slaw (about 1/2 c)
Chopped green onions (about 2 Tbs)
Juice from one lime (I actually used about 2 Tbs of grapefruit juice because I was out of limes and had a grapefruit)
Tabasco sauce to taste

Prepare fish sticks according to package directions.  While baking, combine mayo, dill relish, and sweet relish.  Adjust these according to taste -- it was much too salty without the sweet relish, but too much sweet relish could be gross.  Let sit while you prepare the pico.  Chop the tomatoes, give the shredded broccoli slaw a rough chop, throw in the green onions, and the citrus juice.  Mix it up and add a couple shakes of Tabasco sauce. 

When the fish is done, lay out one tortilla.  Spread about 1 Tbs of tartar sauce down the center of the tortilla and top with about 2 Tbs of the pico.  Add 8 fish sticks to the center, from the top to about 1/3 of the way from the bottom.  Roll up and give to your skeptical husband, who thought it would taste weird but immediately upon finishing the first, asked for another.

*number of servings is entirely up to you and how many fish sticks you cook.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Being Sick is the Pits

Baby Girl got sick with a stomach thing a couple weeks ago.  Then last week, she got a cold that turned into an ear infection last weekend.  While fighting that, Little Man got the stomach bug.  I ended up with both the cold and the stomach bug at the same time.  We still went trick or treating on Halloween -- Little Man lost his Spiderman costume so we bought a crayon costume.  I then found the Spiderman one, but he has refused to wear it.  O.o  Baby Girl was a bumble bee and VOD was a Sorceres.  If I wasn't so lame, I'd post pics.

In other news, after passing my science final, I've been trying to come up with a research paper topic.  I am drawing a total blank.  Starting to think maybe I should do a paper on the benefits of modern day cloth diapers, because that's about all I can come up with.  Or why offshoring is a very.bad.thing.  Not just in general, but specifically when dealing with medical and financial records.

I've been stressing about everything (school, Christmas, life in general), so I took a little time off school.  During the last two weeks, I've finished a pair of woolen pants for a sweet toddler -- they will be getting to him just in time for the cold season.  I've cleaned up some long-neglected areas of the house, so that's awesome.  I've also re-read Harry Potter #1, book #2 in the Sadie and Carter Kane series by Rick Riordan, made 10 Christmas ornaments for a swap, gotten 90% of the Christmas shopping done (not anywhere close to the crafting done though), and have been the caregiver for the husband's latest crashes, which were triggered by an anti-anxiety medication. 

The Rock is now on an antidepressant that is making a world of difference in his attitude, behavior, and mood.  His mood stabilizer had stabilized him pretty well, but in a depressive state.  So time for a new medication, but the anxiety med was the wrong thing.  We're hoping this is the right thing -- The last few days, it's almost like the guy I fell in love with showed back up at my house.  I have still loved The Rock, but it's been a hard few years, and the fun dude hasn't been around much.  He seems to be back and for that I'm thankful, and hope he sticks around.

VOD's grades dropped slightly the last week or two of volleyball, but they were all A's and B's.  She's been pretty helpful around the house too, and I'm grateful she still likes me.

Finishing up an order for baby owl hats and some more swap stuff this weekend, and then on to the research paper. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

I got roses today, from a much younger man

My sister, mom, and dad watched my two littles this morning while I took my science final (which I passed!).  When I pulled up at lunchtime with bags of food and some drinks, my son ran up to me holding a beautiful red rose he'd picked and said, "Mom!  I have a flower for you!"  He handed it to me, I inhaled the sweet fragrance and thanked him.  He showed me the beautiful pink rose he'd picked for himself and we went inside and ate lunch.  He kept saying, "Mom!  You missed me?"  It was really sweet, and baby girl held onto me like it had been forever since she'd seen me.

I would post pictures, but when we got back to our van to go home, he couldn't find his pink rose and asked if he could have my red one back.  I couldn't deny such an innocent request.  He fell asleep in the van, clutching the poor flower, and when we got home, he smashed it under his little body while he slept on the couch.

As soon as he woke up, he handed the now-wilted rose back to me ... it's sitting her, flat, next to my computer.  A sweet gesture from a sweet boy who missed his mama today.

I hope I remember how sweet he really is the next time he throws something at the baby or hits me in frustration for being told no!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Yay Friday!

So it's Friday.  Night.  I've done 4 workouts this week (skipped last night) and I'm starting to feel better.  I'm getting my eating under control and haven't had a Pepsi in a WEEK. 

Tonight's workout was a video I bought when VOD was Bitty's age.  I LOVE that workout.  I always forget how great I feel afterward, all sweaty and gross and empowered.  Love the endorphins!   It was never a super popular workout video like Jillian's or Tae Bo, but I tell ya ... every time I do it, I feel it. 

After I got done, I sat down and started thinking to myself ... I've been fighting my weight for my whole life, but I got serious about it when VOD was small and I lost 40-ish pounds.  I gained them back.  Lost most of them again right before I met The Rock.  I gained them back and they brought friends.  And here I am, slightly smaller than my heaviest un-pregnant weight ... and disgusted with myself. 

Working out is FUN!  I like it.  It's a boost to my confidence, my strength, my mood, my ability to cope.  I like myself more when I'm working out regularly and eating healthier.  Why on earth do I keep forgetting and going back to eating junk and not working out?  WHY??? 

I think I need to figure that out before I "forget" again, because apparently that's what's keeping me fat and unhealthy.  I know I'm a stress eater, an emotional eater.  And I need to create new habits and new neural pathways in my brain so that when I'm stressed, I get moving instead of eating.  But that can't be the only WHY. 

My plan for this week is to explore that and the motivation/inspiration side of things.  Because I think if I can figure myself out that way, I'll be well on my way to health and healing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Motivation

So, readers, I want to know what motivates you.  What inspires you to create, make changes, or just inspires you period. 

Is it sad that I haven't been as motivated as I want to be to lose weight?  Not until some friends started a little competition involving money.  Now I'm exercising and eating better, though I know it's a long shot and I'm definitely not the best at this.  But still.  It's motivating me. 

I need some inner motivation, because this thing is only a month and I don't want to backslide at all.  Hm.

While the day is still nice, I'm taking Little Mister and Baby Girl to the park -- I drove the kids to school, fed the little ones, got The Rock off to school, changed the dishwasher, changed the laundry (twice), took the trash out, swept the kitchen, and vacuumed the living room.  I think I've earned a break.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I wish we had a video camera

Or that VOD hadn't taken my camera on her field trip.  (I know.  I'm just hoping they both come back intact -- the girl and the camera.)

Baby girl was having a nap earlier and I sat down with Little Mister at the table to work on my chores list (updates coming soon).  He was doing "homework" -- coloring pictures and bossing me around.  He asked me to draw a letter though I can't remember which one ... and I drew a different one that I didn't know he knew.  He said, "No, that's a B!"  So I started asking him what all the letters are.


I went completely out of alphabet order, writing them down (sideways so they were right side up to him, but that's why they were a little wonky).  He got confused on J and E, calling E a phone (hence the picture of a phone in pink), but then he got them.  He knew ALL the letters.

I was so proud, I let him boss me around drawing other pictures too.  

I never claimed to be an artist.

I can't tell you the last time we worked on letters.  It's been months.  But he was paying a LOT of attention to Super Why this week when he saw that it was on Netflix.  Maybe TV isn't all evil after all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

An Overnight Field Trip

VOD is going on an overnight field trip tomorrow.  It's actually for two nights.  We went through the packing list last night and I went to the store today to get what we didn't have. 

I didn't buy sunscreen or bug spray when they were on sale over the summer.  Things were so tight and we had decided not to go camping and we still had some sunscreen, so I just didn't.  I had to buy both today.  In addition to a couple of new bras.  Ha.  (That might embarrass her.  I wonder if I should edit...)  And some makeup remover cloths.  Because I need the Cetaphil and she can't just take the whole bottle but she would if I didn't stop her.  Ahem.  Oh, and I had to get some lunch stuff for her to take.

With couponing and signing up for free samples, we already had shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, extra deodorant, feminine hygiene products, snacks, paper, pencils, etc.  So we had almost everything. 

She is very excited and I'm just glad I still had a valid coupon for the sunscreen and lunch meat, etc.  Still debating on loaning her my camera ...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Friday!

We have been super busy all week:  Two volleyball games (different days), VOD's dentist appointment for fillings, and yesterday we went to Hyz's house to say goodbye.  VOD was supposed to go to school but she called me saying she had a headache.  I didn't take her home because I was already on the road.  I "made" her go say goodbye too.

I first met Hyz online 9 years ago (I think).  We were both single moms of one and had an instant bond.  She was my first friend when I moved to Utah.  Our kids became friends too.  We decided to be roommates and, even though things were rough at times, we managed to stay friends through it.  We are still good friends and see each other a couple of times a year because we live an hour away from each other.  She got remarried to a good guy a couple years ago and has a cute little baby and ...

I'm going to miss her.  Them.  VOD is going to, too, and she was sad she didn't get to see Hyz's son yesterday.  *sigh*

After 4 days in a row of being gone for several hours every day, the littles were just ready for a down day.  Neither of them would go to bed on time last night, lots of terrorizing, and both of them looked at me with tired eyes this morning and I decided today is a down day.  We are staying home and chilling, and I am getting caught up on homework and housework.  We've been gone so much, home just long enough to make messes but not long enough to really get cleaned up.  The house has definitely taken a hit.

So while the littles were eating breakfast and watching a movie, I did the dishes once, wiped off the part of the counter that we can see, swept, mopped, took the trash out of every room, tidied up my room, and cleared off more of the kitchen counter.  I scrubbed the toilet, cleaned the mirror and sink and counter, and cleaned the floor around and behind the toilet.  I've started two loads of laundry and folded and put away two others.  Dug through the freezer and pulled something out to make dinner for The Rock because the kids and I are going to some school thing this evening (though thankfully it should only be an hour or so and not 5 or 6!).  There is more to do, and I know that doesn't sound like a "down" day, but it's 10:15 and the house looks much better.  I won't feel guilt about doing my homework later, and can handle that during naps.

And now I get to cuddle and nurse my sweet and sassy baby girl.  Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's not a happy thing

To be forced to see yourself in someone else's eyes.

I'm talking literal here, not figurative.

At WGU, you take tests at home with online proctoring via a webcam, OR you can go to one of their approved testing sites and take it there.

I did mine last night via webcam.  (that sounds slightly dirty.)

As I was setting up the camera, I kept thinking, "Do I really have that many chins?  That many rolls?  When did my belly get THAT big?  Who is that fat woman sitting in my chair?"  I mean, I know it's me, it's my face, but I had somehow managed to convince myself that it wasn't that bad.  That I wasn't that big.  That I'm not the fat woman sitting in my chair.  Living my life.

I guess the good news is that I'm more aware of myself now.  I'd started to track my calories and have been trying to exercise and cutting out junk.  I didn't manage to exercise yesterday, but I'm not beating myself up for that.  Just moving on today.

When I went back to livestrong on Sunday, they redid my estimated caloric intake and it's  no surprise why I wasn't losing before -- the calories I was supposed to be consuming were 550 over what livestrong says now.

As of this morning, I've lost 5 pounds since Monday.

5 of the 8 I put on since last December.

That gain is not really surprising either.

What IS surprising is that I'm still going over those calories and still losing weight.  I've been working on it more every day and yesterday I was close.  And I wasn't super hungry at all.  Which also surprises me.

I do deserve to feel better about myself and be the woman I know is hiding under all this flab.  I now have a buddy to report to (though I've slacked on that too, grrr).  I'm taking this a day at a time and being patient with myself.  And by next term's first final, I won't have quite so many rolls or chins when I go to plug in that camera.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm an idiot.

Saturday night, I was feeling under the weather.  The littles have a cold that has been going on for a while and they were miserable and kindly shared it with me.  So, I went to the store to get some OJ, Sprite (because they weren't keeping anything else down), and some OTC feel better drugs.  And we were out of printer ink and both of us needed it for school, so I picked that up too.

When we got home, The Rock was leaving for work, the littles were ready for bed, and I just sort of ... forgot.  VOD put all the fridge stuff into the fridge (good girl) but that's as far as my mind went.

Until Monday.

I'm obviously feeling better and didn't end up taking any drugs, because it took until about 11 a.m. Monday for me to realize I had no idea where the drugs or ink were.  Since VOD was at school, I checked the car again, tore apart the house, and came to the conclusion that either it got thrown away (and the garbage truck just left), OR I'd left it at the store.

It was $85 total.

I almost threw up.

I called the store and got disconnected, so I went in and talked to the gal at the customer service desk.  She said usually they will just give you whatever you've left behind, but since it was high ticket items, she had to get management involved.  Awesome.

Manager disappeared with my receipt, which I was glad was handed to me and not put in the missing bag of stuff.  She reviewed the security tape and guess what?

Little Mister turned the bag holder around after the cashier had turned it to me, and we all missed the fact that I left that very expensive bag of stuff sitting there.

So I was able to run through the store and get all my missing things, but wow ... for about 5 minutes there, I felt like a criminal.  or like they were judging me to be very dishonest.  Ugh.

p.s.  Little Mister is SO grounded.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Oh goodness

I pulled out an (old) VHS of Denise Austin's abs workout this morning, after running the carpool and vacuuming crackers up off the living room floor.  I really wanted to do a little workout and see if I could start off my week right.  Little Man asked me what I was doing and I told him I was going to work on my tummy, then asked him if he wanted to help me with my tummy.  He pulled up my shirt and said he was helping.

So we put the video in and Baby Girl decided she HAD TO NURSE right that second.  Off to nurse.

Of course, this time she had to nurse a LONG time instead of just a quick drink, so 30 minutes later, I put the video back on.

Grabbed the towel, laid down, and started the workout with Little Man on my left and Baby Girl running around the house.  She hid in a corner the first two minutes (of the 10 minute video) and then ran over and patted my face, blowing snot bubbles out one nostril and suddenly, I could smell her.  I knew why she hid in the corner.

Little Miss Stinky Poopy Pants ran off, so I did more of the video.  Little Man jumped up and ran away yelling, "I hafta go potty!"  "Hey!  Shut the door so the baby doesn't get in the potty too!"  He did.  Then he came back but left the door open.  "Run run run and shut the door!"  He ran back and shut it, then laid down on the floor right.next.to.me.  So close that when I rolled back after doing a crunch, he was under me.

I think I was halfway through the video at this point.

Little Miss Stinky Poopy Pants came back and patted my face a bit more, then grabbed my boob while I was trying to do a crunch.  After I laid back down, she climbed on my tummy and sat there while I was supposed to be doing lower body crunches.

Did I mention she was really REALLY stinky?

Little Man decided to sit on me too, and about this time Denise said it was time to stretch.  So we did.  Sort of.  And then I changed the stinky bottom.  But Little Helpful Dude decided he needed to wipe her butt too.  I managed to convince him that handing me the wipes one at a time was helpful instead, and then after we finished, he put the ones we didn't use away while I was washing my hands.

And that, my friends, is why I had tried to work out at the gym.  But they melt down when I'm gone for an hour every day and VOD and The Rock both can't cope with the hysteria and all hell breaks loose when I get home, so I shall persevere and continue to try to work out with little ones sitting on me, grabbing my boobs, and sticking their stinky butts in my face.

I hope tomorrow's planned cardio sculpting workout doesn't end up with all of us in tears.  Or worse.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

woohoo!

My first final is coming up on Tuesday.  It's for a health class, which I scored 86% on the pre-assessment, so I've just been reviewing stuff since Friday night and will get it knocked out Tuesday night.  The Rock rearranged his work schedule so he can take care of the kids if they wake up while I'm testing.

I had intended to study yesterday while Little Mister was getting his cavities filled, but uh, VOD "accidentally" left my homework home.  I got very frustrated.  I yelled.  But she watched the kids in the afternoon so I could work a bit.  Love her.

So, since Friday night, there has been a lot of fitness stuff going through my mind.  I've been in denial so long about how much I eat and what I'm eating and it has to stop.  I have to fix this.  So I started tracking my caloric intake again today, on livestrong.com, and am getting the videos and DVDs back out of the closet so they are in my face more ... so hopefully I'll get cracking on that, too.

VOD has her second volleyball game tomorrow after school.  I'm driving.  They actually do 3 games, which are about an hour each, so with travel time, we'll be gone about 4 hours.  She will be gone about 12, from the time we leave in the morning.  I'd better get my homework done before the games because I think it'll be too noisy to focus, even if we remember to take it with us, and I'll probably fall asleep with the baby after we get home.  Wish us luck!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Science may kill me

At WGU, you pace yourself in your classes and always have a mentor or two (or three) available to help if needed.  This science class is supposedly "basic" but I haven't been in school since 1997 or thereabouts, and it is kicking my butt.

I have until 10/31 to get through it.  At least, that's the deadline my mentor and I agreed on.  Actually, scratch that.  After taking the preassessment, he thinks I should be able to finish and pass the final by the end of the month.  But I'm taking notes and studying and reading and looking through my notes and doing the chapter reviews and ... oh my stars I'm still on the first module (group of assignments).

There are things I wish I'd done differently as far as school goes -- back when learning was easy for me and I could ace classes without a second thought, I wish I hadn't taken that for granted and had still worked and learned and gotten through college.  On the other hand, my life might not be the same it is today and I really do love The Rock and the kids and now that I know I need to work in school, I'm not taking anything for granted anymore.  Doing school around a husband, kids, housework, etc., is definitely not easy, but I really am grateful for the opportunity.

The Rock's bipolar is a bit unstable at the moment, so he's been needing more time and attention, which makes less time for my homework.  He's doing really well in his math and English classes, but the Portuguese is a struggle for him.  That's the one I can't help with.  I pointed out that being married to me is sort of like living with an English tutor, so he can get help whenever he needs it.  So he's meeting with a Portuguese tutor at school and will be scheduling regular appointments with him.  Baby Girl is teething and/or sick and pretty miserable so she's been up and crying a lot, but I still managed to get through a chapter last night.  Little Mister is busy busy busy and likes playing Angry Birds on my computer, so sometimes I let him play while I read my notes or do the housework.  VOD ... is gone a lot.  Volleyball is taking up a LOT of time and we decided she can't really do drama and volleyball because she would never sleep or do her own homework, so this year is just volleyball and next year is just drama.

OHHHH!  Gosh!  I got the BEST compliment yesterday! Actually, two of them.  Captain (an online friend) came over for a visit and lunch.  She lives about an hour away and had never been to my house.  She came in and sat down, looking around and smiled.  I asked what she was thinking.  She said, "I like your house.  I'm comfortable here."  SCORE!  That means the cleaning is doing something and the rearranging is making the house comfortable, too.  AND!  My 6yo niece came to play and she has previously told me just how messy my house is.  Yesterday, she said, "Wow!  It's really clean in here!"  Warm fuzzies all over.  I'm feeling much better about my role as a wife and mother and how I'm fulfilling it these days.  Guess the system I'm working with is helping.

Now, if only I could get the "exercise" box on my list checked off every day ... Baby steps, right?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bacon!!!

When I was pregnant with VOD, I craved bacon.  I ate like a pound in one day.  And have never loved it since.  Oh sure, I've eaten it a time or two, but didn't LOVE it.

And when I was pregnant with baby girl, The Rock made krab "legs" wrapped in bacon.

And they made me sicker than sick.

Like I haven't wanted bacon at all since then.  Two years ago.

My folks brought us some a while ago and it was the first time I'd enjoyed it.  It was pretty good stuff.  Then, Friday, I went to this local butcher to get some ground beef (which is super lean and tastes like steak) and a couple of roasts, and when we got out of the car ... I could smell the bacon curing.  And I had to buy some.

I cooked about half of it for the family for breakfast yesterday morning.

It.Was.Awesome.

The Rock loved it too -- it is actually MEAT and not just grease and gross.

And then?  I decided to spread the delicious bacon love in the dinner I made for the in-laws last night. This is obviously a splurge dish, but wow ...

You're welcome.

Creamy Bacon Chicken and Rice

6 c rice
2 slices good bacon (seriously, get the good stuff)
1 onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 c cauliflower, finely chopped (so your kids and menfolk won't know it's there, but you can add more or use larger pieces if desired)
3 cooked and shredded chicken breasts
1-1/2 c chicken stock
1-1/2 packages cream cheese

Cook the rice your preferred method.  Fry the bacon and remove from pan.  Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook in the drippings until onion is translucent.  Add the cauliflower and cook about 5 minutes.  Dice the bacon and put back in the pan, along with the chicken stock.  Simmer until cauliflower is soft, then add chicken and cream cheese and heat thoroughly.  Serve over the cooked rice and moan with delight.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It's been a long week

Last weekend, DisGrace told me that her mother-in-law had stopped eating.  She's 85 and has dementia and we all kind of figured she was saying it's time.

She passed on Monday.

She was such a sweet lady.  I first met Vera when I was 16.  DisGrace and Dunka Darren (LM's name for him) were newly engagged and there was a family reunion in Hairyzona over Thanksgiving break that year.  I had a school dance I insisted on attending, so DisGrace and Dunka Darren said they'd take me down with them the next day.  We stopped in St. George and had dinner with Vera and Theron, Dunka Darren's dad.  I remember just visiting with them and being completely disgusted by the starburst-swapping going on while Dunka Darren was driving down the freeway.  Ew.  Gag.

Thankfully, Dunka Darren has been in our lives ever since. 
 So has Vera.

Even more thankfully, I haven't been forced to witness any more starburst swapping.



VOD has called her Gramma Vera for her whole life.  We visited her with and without DisGrace and the kids.  We took dinner to her on several occasions.  Saw her at the care center where she's been living the last few years.  And she and Theron stayed with my folks for a while when they moved up here years ago.  Theron died in 1999.  We're all happy for them that they are reunited.

Tuesday, Hyzenth told me she's moving to Montana.  She is one of the few local friends I get to hang out with on occasion, and now she's going away.  What the what?  *cry* 

Late Wednesday night, a gay man was beaten up by at least 3 attackers in the tri-town area we grew up in.  Oh yeah.  I know him.  He is one of the kindest people you could ever meet.  I'm pretty sure most people know that beating up anyone for being different is just plain wrong.  There were no witnesses.  Three men ganged up on him around 12:45 a.m. as he took the trash out at his place of work.  One of his co-workers found him a few hours later.  These attackers may think they have gotten away with something, but God knows who they are and what they did.  They will pay eventually.

The Rock has been having a bipolar episode all week related to school and me starting school and being stressed out.  And the baby isn't sleeping so well with all the bedroom rearranging we've been doing and it's still not done and we had to tackle the living room instead of finishing because she kept turning off the surge protector to the Xbox ... VOD woke up yelling at everyone and put me in a tizzy, too.  And then Bitty got her car seat all sticky this morning so I had to change them all around and the new one my mom gave us is different and harder to install and by the time I got it in, I was a sweaty mess and my eye makeup was smeared down to my chin.

So I was worn out and emotional and completely bonkers by the time we got out the door to get to Vera's funeral.  I didn't have time to shower and change and get fresh makeup on, just had to wipe off the smears and go.  Good thing I'd showered earlier.  While I was wrestling the car seats, Little Mister dumped bubbles all over his corduroy pants and I asked VOD to get him a clean pair of pants, and I didn't notice until we were on our way to the church that she put sweat pants on him.

SWEAT PANTS.

So not appropriate for a funeral.  GRRRR.

We finally made it and sat down, but Little Mister was running circles around me and asked to go see DisGrace.  When she reached out for a hug, he screamed, "NO!" and ran away.  I hauled him out to the foyer and stayed out there with him. VOD and KC kept Bitty for a while.

He was being SO frustrating.  SO three.  SO boy.  Running around, full of energy, being disobedient, when I just wanted him to sit still and STOP for 5 minutes so I could cope.  I finally just sat on the floor, cleaned up the markers he'd uncapped and thrown everywhere, and stayed where I was, trying not to be hysterical or mean or cry. 

He looked at my face and this, "Oh, Mommy," look came over his.  He very calmly turned around and sat his little self down on my crossed legs.  And we snuggled for about 3 minutes.  I breathed in his little boy scent, and that made him laugh.  I ran my fingers through his hair (which is finally growing back after we buzzed him early in the summer), and that made him laugh more.  I squeezed him with my arms and kissed his cheek and breathed him in again, and we both laughed. 

The rest of the day wasn't super easy, but I wasn't as bad off as I'd started.  As hard as those days can be and as rough as this week has been, times like that really do make it all worth it. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I love that kid!

Little Mister makes me laugh every day.  Yesterday's awesomeness was at dinner at DisGrace's.  He said the blessing and said, "Please bless the food. I don't like it. Amen."

She said he's never allowed to say the blessing at her house again.

As hard as some days are with him, he is a good kid and fun to be around most of the time. 



Tonight we went to the Brazilian Festival at The Gateway Center in Salt Lake City, UT.  He was so cute and we all had fun.  I just love him.  And the rest of my family, but today was a Little Mister love day.




And here are the rest of us.





Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Friday, September 2, 2011

THE INTER-FREAKING-NET

Oh the horror!  The guy showed up an hour early yesterday, right at noon.  I'm just glad I was dressed and had a bra on.

He couldn't figure out the mess of cables back there.  Alyssa, my landlady, said it's been a mess since before they bought the place and she tried to help him figure it out too, but he accidentally cut their internet and cable when he turned off ours.  We had to call her ISP and they came over and all worked together and got us both up and running. 

He was here for FOUR HOURS.

One of the issues we are facing is that we are outgrowing this little apartment faster than we can even comprehend.  Little Mister is a terror trying to get to sleep, so co-sleeping with him isn't working, and Bitty, well, she's not sleeping because he's not.  So I told The Rock if we were changing internet, we were going to change rooms around this weekend because it isn't working and he's not home at bedtime to deal with it all.  

So the internet went in the master bedroom, where the kids sleep with me.  They didn't get their naps and they were mean and cranky and I had a horrible headache.  After the guy left, Little Mister had a little nap.  Bitty had one as he was leaving, but Little Mister woke her up and the rest of the day she was a grouch.

I had a little nap, thanks to VOD taking Bitty and Little Mister.  My headache lessened, so I tried to connect the router to the modem through my laptop and it disabled my wireless internet.  And didn't fix it.  And I couldn't get it to recognize the wireless key was ON.  So I gave up for a while.

I put Bitty to bed and she zonked out by 7:30.  When The Rock left for work, stressing because he didn't have internet and has homework due today, I figured I'd better set up the router through The Rock's computer so he could do his homework.  His computer was in another room (the one he's been sleeping in for the last year), which meant I needed to move two dressers, a TV, a set of wooden portable stairs, a chair, and a desk to get it set up in the correct place so we could get the modem and router hooked up right.  It was 8:30 by the time I started this little project.  And the kids kept screaming at me that the XBOX wasn't hooking up to the internet so they couldn't watch Netflix. 

Dude.  I know.

I disassembled the computer and moved it, the TV, stairs, chair, and the dressers without incident.

The Rock's desk got stuck in the doorway. 

VOD and I couldn't figure out how to get it out of there.  We knew The Rock had just maneuvered it through the door, but we couldn't do it.  She was stuck in the room and started having a panic attack.

I had to take the top off the desk, so I had to find the tools to do so, but managed it and the panic attack stopped.  We carried the pieces to the other room separately, then reattached the top to the legs.

By this time, Little Mister had woken up Bitty and she would not go back to sleep.  So I put LM to bed in the bedroom and took her into the living room, where VOD had opened the hide-a-bed (hoping LM would have fallen asleep but no such luck).  Bitty finally fell asleep on the hide-a-bed and LM was asleep in the bed, so I finished the router mess.  Except my computer still wasn't recognizing that the wireless connection was even on. 

At 10:49 last night, I finally got both computers connected to the internet and logged in to my first class.  I did two sections of it before my eyes started blurring and burning and I started dozing in the chair.  I shut everything down, scooted Little Mister back to his side of the bed, grabbed Bitty out of the hide-a-bed, and we all fell asleep.

The Rock came home early from work an hour later.  Fortunately?  He didn't wake me up.  He was stressed a bit because he couldn't find his medication, but he took it this morning.  Thankfully.

He told me that he was sad I had to handle all of this last night on my own, but I am GLAD I did it when he was gone.  He can be just as distracting as the kids when I'm trying to do something, asking questions and telling me I'm doing it wrong.  <gr> 

At least the HARD part is done now.  All we have to do is clean up the messes in the other two rooms and move belongings around. 

OH, and the financial aid came through finally, so we're both less stressed.  He is buying the rest of his books today and I've paid almost all the bills that are due.  Still have to pay the rent and get a few groceries, but I'm not too worried about that.  There's plenty for it (thank God!). 

Nap time!  Off to feed the boy and hopefully get them both down for a nap before 2, which is when I have a conference call for school.  YAY!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My last day of "freedom"

One would think I would have had something more fun planned for today than housework and hanging out with my kids, but I'm a mom!  That's what we did today.

Tomorrow, I start my first online class and I have a phone call with my new student mentor.  And I also apparently have an appointment with a different internet provider -- The Rock wants something faster.  Ok then.

VOD (a.k.a. Runner Girl) is at school from 8 to 4:30 every day.  She's having fun with volleyball but she's worn out.  Then she comes home around 5, practices, eats dinner, does homework, and off to bed.  It's busy.

The littles are just all over the place.  Much playing, yelling, tackling, tickling, jabbering, laughing, and I wish more napping.  Ha.

This has been a hard week because The Rock's financial aid hasn't come in yet and we have rent and car payment due.  And my financial aid won't come through until mid October.  The Rock is stressing over it but things are better now that he has most of his books and online access to his math class.  He's turned in his first assignments and is feeling more confident that things will be OK.

As I've been couponing, I've tried to stock up on basics and everything else.  We got a bunch of pasta for free (sale+coupon) a while ago, but a lot of it was tricolor and we found out The Rock is allergic to spinach.  So it's a no go. And we used up the rest of what I got.  But I haven't seen a fabulous sale and can't go get any pasta or anything right now.  We have been eating a lot of rice lately but I wanted something different and we can't do potatoes. 

I started rummaging through my pantry tonight trying to find something to do for dinner and a big bucket in the back caught my eye.  I have a few -- flour, sugar, rice, and this one, which I knew was there but couldn't remember what I'd put in it.  Something told me just to open it and look.  I found spaghetti, macaroni, and various dry beans.  I've been cooking a pound of dry beans every week, and we just make bean/rice/protein bowls for quick lunches or whatever.  And now I have a few more to choose from.

I'm very grateful that I listened to that little voice that told me to look there, and that I've been catching sales here and there on this sort of stuff.  I've felt drawn to starting school but also to striving to save money and make things work on a limited income.  Even though things aren't as smooth sailing as I'd like with school and The Rock's bipolar, little blessings like this let me know that we are going to be OK through it all and that God is watching over us.  He is guiding even seemingly small choices like buying a couple of extra packages of pasta and stashing them for a rainy day.

So my last day of "freedom" has been a good one after all.  And for that, I'm thankful.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's time for a vote!

So after the first practice, Runner Girl decided cross country wasn't actually what she wanted to do this year. 

She tried out for volleyball instead.

And made the team.

Which means she actually hit a ball and didn't hide from it or run away screaming, like she used to do.

Some of the benefits she pointed out:
*It's inside!
*It's air conditioned!
*I have less of a chance of twisting my ankle.
*There's a drinking fountain if I get thirsty!
*IT'S FUNNER!

She also mentioned her cousin, who was in cross country with her last year.  Sort of.  They were screwy with the rules, so he ran in the practices but not in the races.  It sort of sucked.  Anyway.  He made the volleyball team, too, so they're doing it together.  And drama tryouts are Monday, which he's going to try out for as well.

So I guess she's not Runner Girl this year.  I think I'm changing her name to Drama Princess. 

Or Volley Girl.

VOTE!  Or give me a different name and if I like it better, I'll use it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Make Good Choices!"

When Runner Girl was younger, she used to love the movie Freaky Friday.  We watched it a lot.  Early in the movie, before the switch, the mom drops the daughter off to school and calls out the window, "Bye honey!  Make good choices!"   Teenage daughter is appropriately embarrassed and walks quickly away from the car.

The last couple years, I started doing the same thing.  Not entirely to embarrass her, though that's an added bonus.  But to remind her of who she is. 

We are LDS (Mormons) and believe we came to this earth to learn to make good choices and return to our Heavenly Father.  In the Book of Mormon, there is a verse that talks about how making good choices will help you live a good life.  The reverse is also true:  Bad choices make no one happy.  Even if you're not of our faith, it holds true. 

So, last year I reminded her almost every day to make good choices.  I said it yesterday and again this morning.  And today she rolled her eyes and told me I was SO annoying sometimes.  Then Little Mister called out from the back seat, "Bye honey!  Make good choices!"

That wasn't the best though.

We've been carpooling with DisGrace and when I dropped off her daughter at the high school, he called out, "BYE KAMMA!!!  Make good choices!" 

I hope he remembers that when he's their ages, and even if he doesn't, I'm going to remind him.  Every day.  To make good choices.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wow, that was rotten

Afternoons are THE worst possible time for appointments for our family, so I try really hard to schedule things for mornings.  We run errands in the mornings and then come home, have lunch, and do naps.  That's just the way things function the best for our family. 

When I called The Rock's doctor for a medication checkup and FMLA forms (which we have to do every 6 months), the receptionist told me he's only coming in at 1 these days.  Well crap.  We took the 2:30 appointment and cringed, knowing it would be a bad day.

On top of lack of naps for the littles, we had my niece today because her parents and my parents were at a funeral for a long-time family friend.  Now, I would have gone except we know that funerals are bad news with my kids.  I brave them for certain members of MY family, but I'm not going to subject other people to their busyness at a funeral!

So we loaded up 3 tired kids and off we went to the doctor.  We were in the car for almost an hour before we got there because of traffic and an emergency potty stop and stuff, so we were a few minutes late.  We had gone to the store earlier in the day, so they were sick of being in the car and being cooped up so I was letting them run around a bit.  They weren't screaming or making horrible screech noises, just being very good, a bit busy, and, after about 45 minutes, they were getting a bit loud, though it was still quiet for my kids.

One of the receptionists came over and told us to hush them up.  "We have elderly patients," she said.  Well really?  If we hadn't had to WAIT so freaking long, we wouldn't have had a problem! 

Now, I know my kids are busy and active, but keeping them waiting for an hour?  And expecting perfect silence?  IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS.  One of the old ladies kept telling Little Mister to be quiet.  HE WAS BEING QUIET.  FOR HIM.

We left 15 minutes later without seeing the doc but did get our co-pay refunded.  The other receptionist said it was another doctor sharing the exam rooms with ours that backed him up so much.  Well, our doctor has been there longer but ... he's not really a doctor.  He's a PA.  So he and his patients get shafted by all the doctors in the office.

On our way home, we talked about never going back to the office.  We both felt like we'd been treated unfairly and, frankly, if not for the fact that The Rock has never had a primary care doctor and actually likes this PA so much he's gone to him for 5 years, I wouldn't ever go back.  I've been a patient there for 9 years. It's a family practice; I really didn't think one age group was more important than anyone else before, but apparently, keeping grouchy old people happy is more important than keeping bipolar patients sane.

After talking it all out, we realized that he needs his FMLA paperwork ASAP and he needs blood work for his followup, and we know it'll take a while to get into anyone new, so I suggested that I call and see if they'd just do that and not make an appointment.  The Rock reluctantly agreed. 

I dropped him off at home and went to trade kids back with DisGrace.  I called the office and actually found out his PA is really there in the mornings, just not today.  I grabbed an appointment for Friday and said, "now, I might have to call and cancel, but that depends on my husband."  She said that was fine and put us down for the appointment. 

While I was on the phone with her, I missed a call.  From the PA.  He left a message that he was calling to apologize for getting so backed up and wasting OUR time.  He said he'd try to call again later and asked if I would please talk with him and let him know if there was anything he could do for me/us.

And THAT is the reason we see him.  The rest of his office sucks, but his call made me cry and The Rock said he'd go to the appointment on Friday.  Just because he called.

The first day of school!

I would pretend to be sad, but I'm not.  We love the school where Runner Girl will be attending and the littles need the structure that the school year brings.  And this year, because there are other changes afoot in the house, there is a lot to look forward to.  I've been anticipating the first day of school for weeks.  It was yesterday.  And I missed posting.  haha.

The new coach for the school held a meeting Monday for the cross country kids.  We may not have been as consistent as we'd planned over the summer, but at least she DID run some.  Hopefully the surgery and the continued training help her speed a bit.  Day one of band was Monday as well, which was something else she's looking forward to, but she'd locked her oboe in her locker and couldn't open it again.  Oops.  We've been working on her learning to read music and play the oboe the last couple of weeks.  Things were super busy all weekend though, and I'm not sure what she did with that.  I need to start having lessons with her once a week from here on out, but hopefully when she goes to play this week, she doesn't forget everything she's learned!

Over the weekend, after the raspberry picking adventure, we went to the Mod Bod's parking lot sale and got Runner Girl a couple of camis to wear under her (too short) uniform shirts.  They were too short last year too, as in, they showed her belly when she raised her hands.  But they fit around!  And the next size up was ginormous!  Still is.  So camis and tanks are the name of the game for the moment.  We did miss the ward campout.  We were on our way up the canyon when Little Mister said he was too tired and begged to go home.  Poor kid.

We picked up our produce on Saturday morning and got some good deals at Walgreens (free + $2 money maker on fish oil, thanks so much!, plus some cheap disposable diapers to keep on hand for our times when I haven't done the cloth laundry), and then ... well ... the littles and I had THE BEST NAP.  We haven't all been able to nap together for a while, but we did on Friday AND Saturday.  After naps I got a message from The Rock's co-worker's wife and finally called her back after The Rock got back from shooting (with other co-workers).  We went over for dinner -- 30 minutes notice, I made dessert and a broccoli/rice casserole.  She was impressed.  HA!  Literally two of the easiest dishes ever created.  We had a lot of fun and went home just in time for bed.

So Sunday rolled around and the kids and I got to church late because Little Mister was up in the night screaming and woke everybody up.  During Sunday school, Bitty and I turned off the light in the mother's room and she finally nursed and went to sleep.  I apparently zonked out too, and when I woke up an hour later to someone else coming in and saying, "I need to change a poopy diaper, can I turn on the lights?"  I looked around and saw another mom in there *who wasn't there when I passed out*.  They were both from the other congregation that meets in our building, so I didn't know them and was a bit embarrassed, but they both assured me they wished they were sleeping too!!!  HA!

So I went out in the hall.  There were only 20 minutes left of the meetings, so rather than wrestle the hyper toddler, I sat and let Bitty run around and chatted with a friend.  I knew she ran a daycare, but I didn't know details.  She *only* does daycare for teachers.  I told her to put me on her list for 3 years from now because I'll need her!  We talked about that a bit and then church was over.

Days like that start to make me wonder why I go at all.  I didn't get to partake of the Sacrament or hear the talks (sermon) or anything, and then I slept.  But I know I'm setting a good example for the kids and it helps us feel the Spirit at home when we are obedient.  And that's very important.  After church, The Rock woke up and came out and talked about spiritual things with Runner Girl and me.  It was a good discussion.  He may not be the most active member of our church, but he still does have his testimony and still tries to be obedient to the Lord's commandments, for which I'm grateful.

In the busyness of the weekend, the housework fell by the wayside.  I am starting to revamp my lists -- we need the kitchen mopped more than once a week, for example -- and Saturdays are going to be too busy to be the catch up day anymore.  So I'll rework things a bit, especially as we get into the school year for all of us.  Another thing I'm putting on my list this week is to get exercising again -- not at the gym, but with a DVD either first thing in the morning or during naps.  The kids, husband, and I all need me to have those endorphins.  And I'm going to start tracking my caloric intake again because something has to give.  EVEN if I can't lose weight while nursing, all of these things will help me feel better and get healthier. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

YAY!!! It's Friday!!!

It's the last Friday before school starts.  I had thought about taking the kids to the cheap theater to see Kung Fu Panda 2, but then?  A friend mentioned this U-pick raspberry farm not terribly far from our house.  It's not a huge operation and runs entirely on an honor system.  You go, pick your raspberries, weigh them, and put your $ into a locked, mounted box next to the scale. 

Hello.  The raspberries are only $2.50 per pound! 

We strapped Bitty on my back and off we went into the bees and brambles.  Little Mister "helped" me and picked some not ripe ones but eventually figured out that he only should find red ones.  He also kept trying to eat them and then would remind himself, "Hafta pay first!"  and put them in the container.  Runner Girl picked the most by far.



We got there at 9 and picked for just over an hour and got 3-1/2 pounds.  It was a perfect day for it:  Not very hot, not cold, not crowded at all.  It drizzled a bit, but that just made it so we could stay a little longer without hearing Little Man complain that it's "too hot!" The kids ate a bunch on the way home from the patch.  It was a great morning to spend with the kids before school starts.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our "new" car

Fitting a family of five into a PT Cruiser, when two of the five are in ginormous car seats, is no easy feat.  Runner Girl has gotten too tall and too "mature" to ride between two car seats.  It got to the point that she couldn't buckle her seat belt.  So I went shopping online and found an older used minivan.  Showed it to The Rock and he said, "Let's go buy it!  Right now!"  HA! 

We went the next day.

It was still there.



The van is big enough to hold our entire family, including Small Fry if she came for a visit.  And we'd still have one spare seat belt. 

Little Mister says he loves the "big car" and likes that he can get in and out himself. 

Or maybe he just loves the DVD player. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Schooling

As I mentioned last week, I'm starting college very soon.  So is The Rock.  And Runner Girl is in 7th grade this year.  Small Fry is almost 15 and in her sophomore year of high school (at least, that's where she should be from last time we talked about it ...)  With a 3 year old and a 1 year old, our lives are busy and full.

So why on earth would both parents decide NOW is the time to go to college?

Well.  The Rock has been talking about going to college since we met and he finally found something he wants to do.  He's working on an associates in international business and we'll go from there.  But first he has to catch up his math and English because his high school principal told him to drop out of school.  For real.  He did eventually get his GED but his math is still shaky and his English, though improved from when we met, isn't the best.

So there's that.  There's also the fact that his job is difficult and demanding and a very physical job and we both know he can't do it forever.  Not to mention his bipolar ... makes things even more of a challenge.  And his company has been struggling with the recession.  Between cutting hours and days and his bipolar causing him to miss time, we've had a lot of financial struggles the past couple of years as well, to the point that we qualify for Pell grants for the first time since we got married.  We looked at each other about 6 weeks ago and said, "Hey, nothing is EVER going to change for our family if we don't do something different."  So he applied, was admitted, and is going to college in couple of weeks.  There has been a lot of paperwork and several trips to the school, but we are almost ready.

Right after we started getting The Rock sorted out, a friend mentioned an online university, WGU.  I looked into it, evaluated my options, prayed, felt peaceful about it, so decided to go for it.  I'll be studying interdisciplinary studies, which is fancy talk for elementary education.  I will be a certified K-8 teacher when all is said and done.

This first term is scary.  When he did school the first year we were married, things were not good.  The Rock's bipolar was totally out of control and his wife was rather crazy and insecure.  Depression set in for both of us.  So we're crossing our fingers that, now that we've weathered a few more storms together, things will go better even if it's still hard and stressful.  Pell grants will cover almost all tuition and books for him, and we will do loans.  We really have to get through it and make different choices or we're always going to feel boxed in and helpless.  And that's not a great feeling to have.

Having long-term plans and goals and making active progress on them is new for us.  Well.  At least it's different than we've been able to do in the last few years.  We're both feeling more hopeful for the future, even amongst the fear and worry.  Trying to let go and let God handle it isn't easy, but we are working on it.  And knowing we have Him in our corner is an amazing thing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Couponing!

All right friends.  Coupons can be tricky, but once you learn how to do it, it becomes second nature.  To best utilize your coupons, match them with sales in your area so you're getting a discounted price, then use the coupon on top of it.  There's a link at the bottom of this post which might be beneficial.

So where do you find coupons?  In the Sunday newspaper and online, mostly.  Our local paper has 3 or 4 sources for coupons, and online there are many more.  I only print online coupons in black and white (saves $) and have never had a problem redeeming them.  We get 4 copies of our local paper every Sunday, which means I get 4 of every coupon.  I only pay $17 every month, and it's a rare week when I don't save at least that in coupons.  It's usually double or more.  A lot of newspapers have similar deals, though some limit subscriptions to 2 per household.  The ones that limit to 2 per household are around $1/week.

To cut them, I stack my inserts.  First I lay one down on the floor in front of me and open the front page, then lay another one on top of the single left sheet, then open it and lay another one on that open left sheet.  Like this:


I then stack up the same pages and cut them out.  But I don't trim them very close because sometimes they shift while cutting, and my Red Plum inserts are often printed screwy and don't line up.  I've wrecked several coupons in the Red Plum inserts lately by just chopping and not paying attention.  Urgh.

Other sources of coupons:  Some stores have little machines that print more coupons at the register.  They are called "catalinas" and some stores call them different things.  Rite-Aid (up rewards, I think), CVS, Walgreens (register rewards), Smith's, Albertsons, and others.  I usually take advantage of Wags and Smith's and only discuss theirs because they are what I use.

How do you file all of these coupons?  I used to use a box.  I'd write the date I received each packet on the front and then I'd put them in the box.  I'd cut out coupons as I needed them, based on my grocery list for the week.  But I found that things wouldn't always be on the shelf when I got to the store and I'd have to reevaluate, which was harder to do when I didn't have all the coupons with me.  Or I'd find something on clearance and know I had a coupon for it at home, but no idea where.  So I started a binder.  Binder systems are not new at all.  I just hadn't converted yet.  But I had this cool binder from when I was in college -- it has a small zipper pocket inside which is the perfect size for my coupon scissors, slots for pens, a couple of big pockets in the front and back, is big enough to hold tons of coupons, and the whole thing zips shut!  I bought some baseball card holders (with swagbucks converted to amazon gift cards; they were almost free), and I started filing my coupons.  I was going nuts with all the disorganization, so I had to think about how it would work for ME to have them filed.



I added a zipper pocket that Kiddo got from school -- it has two zipper sections and the front is see through.  (you can see it on the right of the binder.)  Behind that insert is a sheet protector.  I pull all the coupons I'm going to use for a particular shopping trip and put them with my list inside the sheet protector.  As we go through a store, I'll gather the coupons I'm going to use in that see through zippered pocket.  If I can't find something I'd already pulled a coupon out for, I'll put it in the other section to refile. 

After that sheet protector, I have a baseball card page for store loyalty cards, gift cards, etc.  And behind that are about 100 pages of coupons.



I have them sorted into 3 main categories:  Food, health and beauty, and household.  Each category has several subcategories.  Each subcategory began with one page devoted to it -- I used colored paper (one color for each main category), a sharpie, and packing tape, and made tabs to label each section.  As I filed coupons, some of them required more pages, and I just stuck them behind the tab.  Here are my subcategories.

FOOD:  Baking, beverages, candy/snacks, canned/prepared, cereal, condiments, dairy/fridge, frozen, meats/deli, pasta/rice, produce, and misc. 

HEALTH AND BEAUTY:   Baby, body wash, cosmetics/facial care, dental care, deodorant, eye care, feminine hygiene, fiber/antacids, hair care, lotions, pain relievers, razors, sunscreen/sanitizers, supplements.

HOUSEHOLD:  Batteries, bug sprays, canning, cleansers, dishes, laundry, office supplies, paper goods. 

Can you really save money with coupons?  Last week, Walgreens had Keri lotion on sale for 5.99.  A few weeks ago, there were $2 off coupons in the paper, which makes the lotion 3.99.  Wags printed $5 register rewards when you bought a lotion.  You are reading that right:  They PAID me $1 for every bottle of lotion I purchased.  For real.  Because I had those coupons!  I then used those rewards to pay for other things that Wags had on sale, like crayons, toilet paper, school supplies, L'Oreal cosmetics (which had their own coupon, sale, and RR!), etc.  They had Cottonelle toilet paper on sale for $4 for 12 rolls and I had 75 cent coupons, which made them $3.25.  Score, sign me up, buy two and pay $1.50 and tax and your $4 + $1.50 bought a nice lotion and 2 big packages of toilet paper!  The TP is usually $5 and the lotion?  7.99 or something.  So for the price of one package of TP, I got two plus a lotion.  Saving a bundle there, and if the lotion doesn't work for me?  I have a few to give away as gifts.  I also bought several mascaras and won't have to buy that again for a year.  Again, use them in combination with sale items, and you will save money. 

A word of caution:  Stick to YOUR budget.  You cannot score every deal and still stick to your budget.  It's not possible.  So figure out what is best for YOU and YOUR family that week/month and get to it.  People will suggest things, like the pork coupons last week.  I had no idea they existed until someone told me so, which is when I printed them because we do eat pork.  It's up to you whether to use those suggestions or do something else for you that week.  But because we were running low on proteins, I decided to go get the pork.  If something else like that happened this week?  I wouldn't go get it.  We don't need it and have no room for it in the freezers.

I keep a notebook behind the coupons and track my spending in there.  I write down all the bills we have for the month, our expected income, when I should pay them, and I write down everything I spend on gas, groceries, bills, tithing.  Everything.  It's not fool proof but it helps me stick to the budget.

Items of note:
*Coupons are only good for what's printed on them.  Not something else made by the same manufacturer.  Not something similar made by a different manufacturer.  Not something completely unrelated.  Manufacturers reimburse the store, but if you redeem a coupon for something other than the printed item, the manufacturer can and will refuse the claim by the store.  I've screwed up and gotten the wrong thing; it happens.  But just be mindful because it IS like stealing from the store and/or the manufacturer!

*There are a few different kinds of coupons.  Stores print coupons.  They are called store coupons or vendor coupons.  They can usually be stacked with manufacturers coupons, which are what come in your paper and can be printed online at various websites.  You cannot stack two manufacturers coupons, however. Wags prints a little coupon booklet every month; they state they are manufacturers coupons, but most Walgreens stores treat them as store coupons because they don't carry a remittance address.  Rewards/catalinas that are "good for X off your next purchase" can be used with store AND manufacturers coupons coupons. Here's a good explanation on that.

*Walmart in Utah County doubles coupons every Tuesday because they are competing with a local store, Ridley's.  Up to 50 cents, they double.  Between 50 cents and 99 cents, they will bump it to a dollar.  People can be very selfish and clear the shelves, so just keep your cool and be kind.  There are people lining up around 5 to 7 p.m. on MONDAY night to be first in line to pay for their 5 carts of double coupon stuff at midnight.  I went in once at 11 p.m. and didn't get home until well after 2 a.m.   I will not go Monday night ever again, even if I miss out on stuff.  I try to go around 8 a.m. because Walmart has restocked some stuff and it's not usually that busy then.

*I warn people who get behind me that I might be a while as I have coupons.  I did that when we were on WIC too.  People usually appreciate the fair warning and will thank you and move on, rather than stand behind you and make snide remarks.  If they decide to stay in that line, the snide remarks fall squarely on them.

*You can price match at Walmart for just about anything, but please be honest.  Lying about price matches serves no one.  It's not worth sacrificing your integrity for a few dollars.  If you are price matching produce, they have to be sold the same way (pound for pound or item for item).  You can price match meat and dairy as well.  Bear in mind that you can only price match listed sale price, not a price after a register reward/catalina.

So that is what is working for us these days.  Feel free to ask questions!

*linkies*
http://thekrazycouponlady.com/
http://passionforsavings.com/
http://www.grocerysmarts.com/

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Cooking!

So when I got home Friday with umpteen pounds of pork ribs, I had to decide what to do with it all.  First, I put the ground chicken directly in the freezer, reserving one package and the ground beef for a meat loaf which I made a little bit later that day.  Then I looked to see what I could use for marinades and that determined what I did with some of it.

I put two full packages of ribs in the crock pot to cook with some balsamic vinegar and soy sauce and a few other things, and just cooked it until it was shreddable.  I added liquid smoke to that, making it more like kalua pork.  I later put that into a few different containers in the fridge.  We already had chicken, rice, and beans in the fridge, so there are some great items in there for burritos, nachos, salads, and other meals.  Sunday, we took some of the shredded pork to my in-laws for their dinner.  I mixed in BBQ sauce and made rolls for sandwiches.  We had the same thing plus fruit from the produce basket for our dinner.

Anyway.  While those ribs were cooking, I took my other 4 packages of ribs and the chicken legs and started dividing up into other containers/freezer bags.

I found a balsamic vinaigrette dressing which works well for marinade, some bbq sauce, and made an asian style marinade.  Split the chicken legs in two bags and two of the pork packages into two, so I had 6 bags to mix meat and marinade in.  I put 1/2 c marinade to about 1-1/2 pounds of meat, sealed the bags, squished them around, and put them flat in the freezer.  I made two BBQ pork, one asian pork, one asian chicken, one vinaigrette pork, and one vinaigrette chicken.  When I'm ready to cook them, I will thaw them and stick them in the crock pot or bake them in the oven or cook on the stove, depending on my mood.  I also made 3 bags of plain ribs out of the remaining 2 packages.  That took about 15 minutes total, to start 11+ dinners (including the ribs in the crockpot, which fed us for more than one meal AND four more adults for dinner)!!!

When I made the meatloaf later on Friday, I mixed equal parts ground chicken and beef, then froze the remaining beef in 2 separate packages.  We only ate half of the meatloaf, so I made a lunch for The Rock and put the rest in the fridge. He ate the rest when he got home from work Sunday.  Not too bad for about $4 of meat -- dinner for all of us and two lunches for The Rock!

I picked up the produce Saturday and made menus last night using whatever sides we have on hand, what came in the basket, and the meats that are in the freezer.  I also cut out all the coupons in my circulars on Sunday.  More on that tomorrow.

I shop case sales and look for the best prices on rice, flour, sugar, oats, dried beans, and just about everything else as far as staples go, so before I run very low I stock up.

This week, I will choose a baking day -- muffins and rolls to freeze for quick breakfasts, maybe some pancakes or waffles, bread because we're out, and maybe some pizza crust.  I like pizza.  Yum.

We have a chest freezer in the garage, and are looking at getting another so we can buy 1/4 beef next spring. Beef prices are so expensive right now!  We haven't been eating much, but man I could go for a good steak.  Buying it by the quarter is a lot of money at once, but it's a set price per pound, meaning it's ALL 2.39/pound (or whatever), including steaks and pricier roasts.  If you have the space, it can definitely save you some money!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Shopping

So ... here's how we do our food budget.  It does take time, but I'm on the go most days anyway.  Some things are just a quick run in for one thing, so while this looks like it's horribly time consuming, it's really not.

Monday, I usually run to Walgreens for a few of their great deals -- anything that's free or super cheap, I will usually get if it's something we can or will use.  Also Monday, I pay for a produce co-op online (bountifulbaskets.org) and pick it up on Saturday mornings.  It takes just a couple minutes on Monday to pay and about 15 to pick up, depending on how busy it is.  We get a lot of fruits and veggies, but it's all random.  We often run out of fruit before the next Saturday because we eat more fruit than veggies, so we've figured out that when I go couponing on Tuesdays, I need to grab some from Walmart (price matching the best prices from whatever grocery store) OR price match the produce sale at Buy-Low on Wednesday or Thursday. 

Tuesday, the local Walmarts double coupons up to a dollar, so I go there for whatever is free or cheap.  In our state, there were milk coupons (only available to use if you live in Utah or Idaho) for 75 cents off a gallon.  My printer was wonky, but I did manage to print 3 coupons (2 from one computer and one from the other), and got three gallons of milk for $1.38 each.  I grabbed a couple other things as I ran through the store and only spent $8.  That's pretty normal for me. 

A friend of mine called me a couple days later to see if I was going to our local grocery store's meat sale.  Yes, yes indeed.  See, Buy-Low has amazing prices on different meats every Friday and Saturday, and Wednesday and Thursday they do produce sales.  So she went to Walmart and price matched the produce and grabbed some for me.  She gave me some $ and I went to the meat sale today and got the meat she wanted.  I also picked up some stuff for my mom.  There was a pork rib coupon online (that expired today) for $2 off two pounds or more, and their ribs were $1.79 per pound.  They were packages of 2.5 to 4 pounds.  I had 6 coupons and mom had 4, so we got a LOT of meat for not much money.

Since the husband gets paid on Friday, I do the meat run and other shopping on Friday.  Sometimes I go to Walmart and price match, but other times I just go to a local store.  But first?  I check grocerysmarts.com for my area and see which stores have the best coupon deals for what we need, OR what we will need coming up.

This week, I just stayed at Buy-Low and got:
17 pounds of pork ribs (approximately)
11 pounds ground chicken
3 pounds boneless skinless chicken legs
3 pounds ground beef
2 pounds cheese
4 boxes fruit snacks
2 boxes fruit rollups
2 boxes cereal (I stocked up on cereal at Smith's a little while ago so didn't get lots)
4 packages cookie mix
2 boxes granola bars
4 boxes toaster strudel
1 bag bugles
1 bag chex mix
1 box of 100 poxiples (how my son says popsicles)
green onions

I spent $80.22 out of pocket for all of that and saved about $30 just in coupons -- I have no idea how much I saved on the meat.  My produce from my friend was only $1.50 for 6 nectarines and 6 pears, so not too bad at all.

Stay tuned for Monday:  The Cooking!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Chores

I don't remember what all the gal had on her chart and my house is so unorganized, I can't find the handout.  <insert hysterical laughter>

BUT I decided the following things had to happen every day (whether *I* do them or someone else does):
*Breakfast
*Lunch
*Dinner (which I try to have ready by 2:30 when the husband needs to sleep before work)
*Dishes (including pots/pans and sharp knives)
*Wipe down the countertops, stove, and sink
*Kitchen trash out
*Sweep the kitchen
*Wash diapers (yes, I use cloth diapers)
*Two loads of laundry (besides diapers)
*Toys put away in the living room
*Exercise

I also have "Wipe off dining room table" next to the stove, sink, etc., but I have to find it first.  Just like I had to find the counters.

These are the other things I decided had to be done regularly, but not every day.  More like once or twice a week.
*Trash out of bath/living room
*Toilet
*Floor in front of and next to toilet (a 3yo boy requires this done almost every day though)
*Tub/shower
*Bathroom sink
*Bathroom counter
*Wash towels (kitchen and bath)
*MOP the kitchen
*Scrub the grout in the kitchen/hall/bath
*Vacuum living room
*Vacuum hall
*Tidy bedrooms
*Trash out of bedrooms
*Vacuum bedrooms
*Wash off a shelf in the fridge (doing 4 shelves one at a time means that doing this task once a week will get the fridge cleaned throughout a month, lol)
*Menu planning
*Grocery shopping
*Double coupon Tuesdays at Walmart
*Clean out and out from under couches (it's amazing how much crap we lose in/under them!)

Truth be told, *most* of the chores are done by me.  Runner Girl does her fair share.  Little Mister helps me with laundry and cleaning up his toys.  The Rock ... I didn't assign anything regularly to him but he does help when I ask. 

Now, because I know I do coupon Tuesday at Walmart and it can take a LONG time, even though I'm not doing all of my grocery shopping on Tuesdays, I made Tuesdays a fairly light day for chores.  I also try to schedule all doctor/dentist appointments for Mondays, so that's not a super heavy day either. So I just fit the chores in and around our lives.

I started making a final category of chores but I haven't implemented them.  They are things that need done on occasion, but not even weekly. 
*Clean out from under stove (again with the losing things)
*Clean out from under and behind fridge
*Reorganize a cupboard or closet or pantry
*Baseboards/walls (obvious fingerprints, cust/ cobwebs, etc.)

I made a master list and assigned everyone (except The Rock and the baby) some chores.  The last two days, I've made a little list for Runner Girl and one for me and we cross things off as we do them throughout the day.  Little Mister follows me around to do his. 

So that's that!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Holy Carp, It's August!

OK, first things first!  WHO MISSED ME????

I kid.  Sort of. 

We've been fairly busy this summer with life in general, and some things have changed while others have not.  I'm still not exercising consistently, but we have gotten Runner Girl doing some running almost every week at least.  The Rock has lost about 60 pounds in the last few months and is looking dang good.  He's feeling better too, which is important.  Bitty is walking and running all over the place, and Little Mister?  He potty trained in late May/early June, is night dry, and did soccer camp last week and had a blast.  We've had a few birthdays, too, meaning I now have a 12 year old, 3 year old, and 1 year old.  The Rock and Small Fry's birthdays are later in the fall.

My depression is better under control with my herbs.  The husband has drugs for his.  And he and I are both starting college in the coming weeks.  I had intended to go last fall, but the postpartum depression was killing me (almost literally), so I put it off.  I managed to find an online university that is fully accredited, comparable in cost to our local university (which is where the husband will be going), and will be starting there so I can still be the at-home parent while I earn my degree.  But this has all made me nervous that our world is going to fall apart again.

Last week, I went to a midweek thing at church where they were teaching couponing and home organization.  I missed the couponing part (but that's OK) because I had to leave early, but I did hear the part about home organization and cleaning.  See, my depression has this vicious cycle.  I feel unorganized and messy, and I get lazy and beat myself up, and I eat.  So I get fatter, less organized, messier, meaner to myself, and I eat.  And it just keeps going. 

The sister who shared her struggle with keeping her home in order had some great advice.  It wasn't exactly new, but the way she presented it spoke to me, and I've made a lot of headway in the house.  I've tried other systems and they overwhelm me.  But her advice was simple:  Decide what needs to be done on a regular basis, decide who is going to do it, and decide to keep doing it and keep going. 

That's it.  No timers.  No real schedules.  Nothing has to get done at a certain time every day.  She also said that, aside from a small daily list, only give yourself one or two things to do every day so that you will keep going.  So I made a chart with days and chores and names of who does what and what needs to be done daily, but it's not complicated at all.  And my depression?  Better.  The house?  Better.  Eating?  Better.  The husband?  Better!

This afternoon, I noticed that our thermostat had quit working.  Now, ordinarily, I would have been a bit embarrassed to tell the landlord because I would be entirely too embarrassed about the state of our house.  No matter how much I felt like I was cleaning, the house was still a wreck, and his sweet wife keeps their house pretty immaculate.  Granted, ours wasn't perfect and I have piles of stuff still in the dining room to put away and some things on the counter, but we'd gotten a lot of it caught up in the last week. So when I noticed the thermostat had no readout and I was pretty warm, I went up to tell him what was up, and on the inside, I wasn't panicked at all.  I didn't run back into my place to shove things in bedrooms or scour the kitchen.  The floor was mopped last night so the tile was clean (though I haven't gotten to the grout yet), fingerprints and smudges had been washed off the fridge and pantry doors last night, we've caught up on laundry, and Kiddo had cleaned up and vacuumed the hallway this morning. We'd just had an early dinner so there were some dishes around though not many.  The living room wasn't even bad because I'd folded and put away laundry and Kiddo had cleaned up the toys and trash.  So he came down and fixed the A/C and installed a bannister in the front stairs and I wasn't completely mortified!!

This gives me hope!  HOPE!  That I can keep the house better.  That I can put a stop to the vicious cycle of self sabotage.  That I can get rid of this weight and break the bad habits I've had for years and create new, good habits.  Because really?  I miss me.  And I want ME back.