Tuesday, June 29, 2010

my confession for a $57 grocery bill

as requested by Kaitlin.

There are two HUGE reasons why I was able to buy our groceries for so little this week:
#1 - I've been cloth diapering a lot more lately and so I don't need any disposable diapers, saving around $10.  (I buy Luvs.)
#2 - Last week I had extra money and stocked up on formula, saving $14 this week.  (I buy the Kroger soy brand.)

Going over my receipt I purchases 43 items, and the only name brands were parchment paper (Reynolds was the only brand available), Post cereal ($1 a box after store sale + coupon), Hallmark cards (coupon), Dial soap (only kind Trav will use), Angel Bath Tissue (sale), Starkiss Tuna (sale + coupon), Marzetti dried cranberries (sale and the cheaper brand).

Everything else was store brand or fresh produce (peaches, strawberries, corn on the cob). 

Buying store brands saves a ton of money, especially because Kroger usually discounts their store brands for their members (meaning I have a little card that they scan.)  I'm pretty sure that when I signed up for the membership card I also marked to receive coupons.  They mail us a packet of coupons 6-8 times a year.  Some are from the manufacturer but some are based on my shopping - those are very valuable.  I've gotten bread, Nestle chocolate chips and tortilla chips for free several times because of the personalized coupons.

The other thing that is just as important as buying store brands is prioritizing.  If I would have needed formula we wouldn't have gotten the peaches, parchment paper, cranberries, and some crackers I bought for the kids.

Having a garden has saved us money.  I also ration milk:  Trav, Lydia and I each get only 1/2 gallon a week.  I make bigger dinners so we can eat leftovers for lunch (this is especially easy and inexpensive to do with pasta).  We don't buy really nice bread (it's $1 a loaf) but my hope is to someday get a craigslist bread machine and fix that.  We rarely buy pre-made food.  Even frozen pizzas are a rarity around here anymore.  The only thing I buy in the frozen food section is veggies and the occasional ice cream treat.

Also, I have done some comparing and it seems that for the products I buy, I spend less at Kroger.  Often people think I'm crazy for shopping at Kroger over Wal-Mart on such a tight budget, but I honestly save more at Kroger than at Wal-Mart.  However, I'm pretty sure that's not true for everyone.

Lastly, I go to the store with cash and a list.  I stick to both and I use my phone's calculator to make sure I'm not going over my allotted amount of money.

So there ya go, Kaitlin.  I hope you can use an idea or two!  :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

small success

Yes, I know Faith and Family does Small Successes on Thursdays, but I wanted to share these today!

1 - I saw my midwife on Saturday.  With 11 weeks to go, I have gained 13.5 lbs and have good blood pressure, glucose and protein levels.  YAY!

2 - My kids play together so well.  Right now they're chasing each other, squealing and laughing with delight.  Lydia frequently delights her brother with peek-a-boo, tickling him and being silly to make him laugh.  Of course it doesn't happen all the time, but when it does Trav and I enjoy and appreciate it.

3 - I taught Lydia "Jesus Loves Me".  It's so cute when she sings.  :)

4 - I bought all our groceries for $57 this week and with coupons and my Kroger card I saved over $21!  That's the best I've done in a looooong time!

Okay, friends.  Thanks for letting me brag a little. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol 8)

Our garden continues to produce.  I'm thinking the snap peas (above) are almost done, probably because I should have staked them.  The green beans are loaded!

Bennet may be too cute for his own good. 
This is him eagerly anticipating his bath. 

Lydia has started to really "mother" her brother.  She likes to hold him, give him his bottle, and quiet him when he cries with "sssshh"s.  It's really sweet.  It makes her feel like she's helping (which she often is!) and because he adores his big sister he loves the attention.

Okay, this is just a cute picture of my kids playing together in the nursery. 

Earlier this week we went to the Niabi Zoo near the Quad Cities.  The kids and I went with Travis' mom, sister, aunt, cousin, and grandma.  Bennet was the only male in the bunch and he did a good time holding his own.  The day was hot, and there were few benches and air conditioned buildings, but it was a lot of fun and everything was very reasonably priced. 

Old Settlers Days are here, folks, the quintessential small town fair.  There's rides, games, live entertainment and most importantly, fair food.  The best part for me was the St. Mary's food tent's homemade pies.  And they really are homemade.  Every day a bunch of Catholic women make pie crusts from scratch, fill them with rhubarb, apples, peaches, and other fruits, bake 'em, and then sell them for $2 a slice.  Delicious.
The best part for my daughter was riding on the race track ride, over and over again.

Update on the upstairs renovation: 
Trav has finished building the closets in the 3 bedrooms.  He has also run wire to them all.  The installation is next to go in, then the walls and ceilings.  (!!!!)
I am super excited about the size of my new walk-in closet.
I'm also excited about this back door being gone, along with the rickety stairs and deck.
Oh yeah, it'll be nice to be rid of the toilet and shower stall, too. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

maybe this is why God let me have children

Some nights I look back over my days with a great deal of shame.  Let's take, for instance, Tuesday.  Most of the day went really well:  play group, folded laundry, dishes done, visited with Mom, talked to some friends on the phone.  And then during nap time both of my kids were sleeping and this was exactly what I wanted.  Some quiet time to myself to check my email without Bennet or Lydia grabbing at the laptop, or my leg, or my arm, or my hair.  To sit without anyone on my person.  Ahhhh..

And then Lydia woke up.  I held her so she'd go back to sleep but then she wouldn't let me put her down.  Every time I tried to lay her back down she'd cry and cry and cling to me.  This drove me over the edge and I yelled at her to go to sleep and leave me alone.

She then gave me that look.  The one where she's afraid and sad and confused, and she just wants her mommy to hold her, but her mommy is the one making her feel that way.  So she just cries a little harder.  Hopefully you don't know what I'm talking about.

It is the worst feeling I have experienced. 

And then I am reminded of what another mom shared once.  She told the story of snapping at her son one day in the car.  Her son began to cry and said, "Don't yell at me, Mommy.  It hurts my feelings."

She then said, "My mother has her defense mechanisms; my husband has learned to protect himself against my words and moods, but my son has nothing.  Sometimes I wonder if maybe this is why God has let me have the one son I have - so I can see how I really treat people."

I have thought about that comment so many times over the months since she first shared it.  I don't freak out at everyone the way I do my kids, but I do loose my patience, jump to conclusions, make snap (usually harsh) judgements, grumble, and become easily frustrated.  Often I find myself wanting to walk away from people who are annoying or frustrating me because I just don't want to take the time to see their side, understand their point, show a little compassion and mercy.  It is very similar to me yelling at my child to "just leave me alone."

In all of these interactions with people I know that it is not only from them that I am withholding charity, but Christ Himself.  The Judgement of the Nations in Matthew 25 is very powerful for me, and I know that many times I am a goat instead of a sheep.  Goats go to Hell - but not this one.  I've still got some filing down to do on my horns, but I fully intend to not spend an eternity away from my God.

"God will give you for eternity what you love the most.  If it's Him, you go to Heaven."  Fr. Larry Richards

I believe that in my vocation of motherhood God is asking me to love Him in a special way through my kids.  So sometimes that just might mean sacrificing my body and personal space to snuggle with a napping girl who craves my presence when I just don't want to.

I'd like to thank my friend, J, for giving me permission to retell her story.

Friday, June 18, 2010

7 Quick Takes (vol 7ish)

When it comes to scary / suspenseful movies I am a wuss.  Like the movie Frequency gave me nightmares because women were attacked.  Travis wants me to watch Shutter Island.  I think he's nuts.  I am already tightly wound; I don't do suspense.

Just to further illustrate what a wuss I am when it comes to scary movies, there are scenes from commercials that are burned in my mind.  I see them often and they freak me out.  And these are just commercials. 

Today I had the best chocolate chip cookie EVER
I have tried Toll House, Mrs. Fields, various recipes reccommended by friends.  None of them can compare with what I had today.  I shouldn't be surprised that it came from PBS's America's Test Kitchen Cookbook.  My sister in law made them and they were literally amazing.  Amazing.  Oh my goodness.  (I got the recipe, too!)

After reading Jen's 7 Quick Takes, I would just like to say that I think it's great that she can talk about David Sedaris and I'm on a Boat while also talking about a retreat at a monestary.  It makes me feel better about myself and some of the things I like.  Because some of the things I like I hide from various Catholic women I know. 

Do yourself a favor and watch this video.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my husband's hands.  They're strong all year round, but with the summer's remodeling projects they've become heavily cauloused, tanned, and covered with injuries.  Often they're dirty.  When he gives me a back rub it's a massage and and a back-scratching combo. 
His hands bear the the marks of hard work, and more importantly, hard work that he's doing for the sake of his family.  Travis spends hours in the heat and dust ripping out, cleaning up, cutting, hammering, fixing - wearing down and toughing up his hands, so that our family can benefit from the sweat equity in our home.  He doesn't grumble; he just works hard.
To me, they are the hands of a man.
I love his hands, because I love what they symbolize.

I would like to wish a Happy Father's Day to my father-in-law and dad, to my grandfathers, and especially - to my husband. 
Travis, you are an awesome father and a blessing in our lives.  We love you.
*Not that any of these men actually read my blog.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

a request for advice from experienced parents

Recently I've been wondering about 2 things, and I'd love to hear what other families have done to make their lives run more smoothly.  Please post a comment or direct me to an article / blog post that outlines what works for your family.  Thank you!

#1 Laundry:  How do you do it?  I can wash and dry, but folding and putting away seem to be my kryptonite.  How many loads a day are tackled?  How often do you wash towels and linens?  Do you incorporate your spouse and kids?  If so, how?

#2  Daily Schedule:  Is there a set flow for your days?  (Right now we get up whenever, watch some PBS Kids while breakfast is served and everyone gets dressed.  Morning nap for Bennet usually happens, an errand is usually run or a friend is visited.  Then there's lunch, another nap for Bennet and the rest is pretty smudgey until dinner and bedtime.)  I'd like to have some more structured time.  More specifically, I'd like to have set times for chores, reading, arts/crafts/flashcards (learning kinda stuff), and prayer that go along with our nap times and errands.  I have no idea what this should look like for a 2 yr old, and I want this to be fun and helpful - not stressful!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks again!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol 6)

I didn't get the job.
This is what I had prayed for - that God would make it clear to me if He wanted me there or not.
But I still feel the twinge of failure that calls for sweet things and iced chai.  (Really it calls for rum and coke but that will have to wait a few more months.)

Recently I watched the movie Frost/Nixon.  It was really interesting and I encourage you to check it out.  I know it wasn't 100% accurate, but it still gave me a good sense of what went on with President Nixon.

My husband and kids have been gone since Wednesday and I've been enjoying the time to myself.  I've slowly cleaned the house, spent time with friends, worked on the next Behold Conference and loved the way the bathroom and kitchen have stayed clean!  I even got my dining room tablecloth out!

I would like to say 2 things about the oil spill:  #1 Remember Apollo 13?  Three men in space and not enough air, so the engineers at NASA - in a matter of hours - created a filter out of tape, a tube sock and other basics.  The filter worked and astronauts lived.  Why don't we give those engineers a call?
#2  There are more than 2,000 people who belong to Facebook groups about how the oil spill has ruined their summer.  I think I may be more upset with them than the oil industry, BP or our government.

Number 4 was originally a lot stronger but then I went to Mass today and felt like I needed to be a little more respectful.  Today is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - where we celebrate how much God loves us.  The priest kept talking about it, God's amazing love, and I realized that the people in our government, at BP, and on Facebook are all dearly loved by God and so I shouldn't call them names.  I can be mad at them, but I shouldn't call them names.  Or use swear words.  And after about 8 rewrites I accomplished both of those things.

Baby #4 update:  this pregnancy has been going really well.  Because of Bennet's birth size (10lb 11oz) and my current weight, my midwife and I want to take care that I don't develop gestational diabetes.  While I have still been enjoying fruit pops and ice cream cones, I've tried to eat lots of healthy food, too.  At 27 weeks I've only gained 15lbs and after 2 days of finger-pricking glucose testing I can proudly say that my blood sugar is under control and I am gestational diabetes free!


This is our garden and I am in love with it.  Last weekend Travis hoed the entire thing, a process that took hours.  Today I hoed a few little weeds and then planted a tomato plant, cilantro and mint.  I'm not sure how the herbs will do but I'm hopeful about the tomato. 
Please also note our compost.  I love our compost.

***  I know that I am posting this on Saturday, but hubby got home right as I was beginning #7 and he told me I needed to shower quickly and get ready to go.  He surprised me with Cold Stone and Robin Hood.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

why we wear our Sunday best

Before my husband I married he wore a nice shirt and jeans to Sunday Mass, unless he was serving as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, in which case he wore dress pants.

However, after the "I do"s I asked and encouraged - let's be honest - told him to never wear shorts or jeans to Sunday Mass again. 

My mom raised me to dress up for Church, and once I was old enough to think for myself I realized that God is definitely worth the effort to look nice.  My dress clothes show that Mass is something special, an hour that is holy and set apart from the normal, and they are a sign of respect for the King of Heaven and Earth.  If President Obama invited me for supper at his house I wouldn't show up in my jean shorts and t-shirt, nor do I when I dine at God's house.

I like what Rachel Campos-Duffy (you know, from The Real World) said:
Sometimes I'll hear people say, "God doesn't care what I wear." Or, "God only cares that I come." True enough. But faith and religion, in my view, is also about my response to God. God is not "lucky" that I showed up. I'm privileged to be invited. And the time and effort I put into bringing my family to His home freshly scrubbed, combed, and neatly dressed is part of my gift to Him. My God died on the cross for me. Dressing up to worship Him is the least I can do.
You can read her entire article here.

Of course, I will also say that dress clothes should still be modest clothes.  I'll sometimes see teenage men in tight polos, showing off their muscles, and girls with skirts so short and shirts so low I feel bad for the priest.  Dressing nicely isn't about showing off our bodies, it's about accentuating them in a modest way.

in need of your daily dose of cute?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Hey folks,

Tomorrow (Thursday) at 9am I have an interview for a 2 day a week secretary job at a near-by Catholic school.  Please pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the discussions and make it perfectly clear whether or not the job should be mine. 

The job would help fill the income gap we're experiencing now that our boarder has moved out and we no longer have his rent and utilities coming in every month.  It could also possibly give us a tuition waiver for their 3 yr old pre k program, which Lydia would be eligible for in Fall 2011.  And, lastly, I think it might be a lot of fun.

I appreciate your prayers and support!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Yep, two years ago yesterday my sweetie pie was washed clean of original sin and brought into covenant with God, officially become His daughter and a member of the Roman Catholic Church. In short - she was Baptised!
We celebrated by going to the zoo with some friends. (Let's not talk about the disgusting amount of junk food I ate for lunch.)

After a good long nap for the kids, the family had dinner with Lydia's beloved godmother, who brought her three more pearls in honor of the day. We then completed the celebration by heading over to the Dairy Barn for ice cream cones.
It was a fun, beautiful day.
All praise and thanksgiving to God for the wonderful gift He has given our family in Lydia, and for the gift of salvation He has given us through His Son and Sacraments!
So what about you? Do you and your family celebrate the anniversary of Baptisms? If so, how? I'd love to hear some great ideas if you've got any.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

whack job

If you've ever commented here before then (hopefully) you've read the following message:

Anonymous comments will only be published if they are nice, or maybe not at all. Because I say so.

I'm pretty sure I put this rule into effect once some anonymous boy called me a monster.  (Here's a blogging tip:  never post about your decision to do something to your son that Jews typically do 8 days after birth.  I dare not even type the word - it starts with "c" - because I am certain there are people who have Google alerts set up when the word is typed.  If you do blog about it, be warned that strangers from all over the world will contact you telling you that it's their mission to stop the practice.  Other strangers will just be mean and ineffective.)

So.... back to the original point of this post...  Recently someone left a simple comment on my post about needing a birthday cake.  It read, "You're a whack job."

Now, I didn't publish this comment because #1 it was anonymous and #2 it was mean.  But really it was funny.  My first reaction was to laugh, my second to think, "You have no idea, buddy." 

I'm not sure if the person thinks I'm crazy because I do home births - which I allude to in the post - or because I have a special cake just for me on my kids' birthdays.  Travis thinks it's because I used a picture of a cake with a frosting-made, shirtless Tom Selleck.  If he's right, then I would have to say that Alicia Policia, the creator of the cake, is the real whack job, although I think she's brilliant.

In the end I think this blog just reaffirms that while some people like me a great deal, there are many people who wouldn't touch me with a 10.5 foot pole.

Friday, June 4, 2010

it has begun

The kitchen before

the kitchen during

the kitchen after

the bedroom before

the landing before
(landing, as in top of stairs, small wall, bathroom, front door area)

the landing after
(the stairs have been boarded up so it's one big floor and the wall was ripped out.  you can see into the bedroom - it's gutted down to the mortar and slats stuff.)

bathroom before

bathroom after

 view from the living room before
the view into the living room after
(the living room was ripped out and redone 2 summers ago, therefore it is currently storing various pieces of salvaged cabinetry, a chair, the oven, a dresser, and the bathroom sink.)
waiting for the burn pile

free shower stall
- needs a good cleaning.