Wednesday, March 28, 2012


It's been a stressful couple of weeks, financially speaking.  With gas prices over $4.00 and Ben driving 120+ miles each day, a huge chunk of the weekly paycheck is going straight into the car.  And we've had some un-budgeted-for spending by both of us that has sort of thrown a wrench in things. 

After setting aside a certain amount for bill paying and building the savings, allotting enough for gas money to get Ben to work, and covering our overspending, I've only been left with about $30 to get groceries the last few weeks. 

It wasn't a big deal at first.  Our pantry is ample.  I had some meat in the freezer from previous sales.  I spent what little cash we had on fresh produce and milk.  We ate pretty much like we always do. 

But then this week rolled around.  And boy was I stressed out.  I'm used to having excess food in the freezer.  I like having wiggle room in my meal plan.  My children are growing, as evidenced by the continually shrinking amount of leftovers I have to send in Ben's lunch.  I'm used to having leeway, so that if we do have a low budget week it really doesn't affect us. 

But suddenly it was effecting us.

I worried about everyone having enough to eat, but at the same time I started limiting serving sizes and how many glasses of milk each child could have in a day.  I worried about what my in-laws would think when they come to visit this weekend. I wondered how many meatless meals I could get away with serving in one week.  I was way outside my comfort zone and I didn't know what to do about it.

And just as suddenly we have been blessed again and again this week. 

My sister-in-law gave us a bag of chicken that her girls refused to eat.  A good friend dropped off a huge bag of name-brand, barely used clothes for Anna.  My mom watched the little kids for me one day and not only fed them snacks and lunch, but she fed me lunch too.  One of Ben's coworkers sent home enough Chinese take-out to make a yummy meal for me and and the two little kids. 

They're all little things, but they have made a huge, huge difference to me.  I'm still struggling knowing that the freezer and pantry aren't filled to capacity, but I'm trying to remember that what we need will be provided.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mid-Lenten Update

Although my kids were not super excited about plan to give up a dessert each day for Lent they have come around wonderfully. 

The first week there was whining after each meal.  But once we brought our rice bowl home from church something clicked with my oldest son.  I explained that by not eating dessert so often we would have extra money that we could put in the rice bowl to share with others who couldn't always buy food for the main part of their meals. 

Nick looked like a lightbulb had gone off.  "Oh, is that what we're going to do?"  And just like that, he was on board.  And since he was going along with it, the other two followed.

Today at lunch he wanted to have dessert and I reminded him that we wouldn't be able to have any for dinner.  He said that was okay with him, then looked at his sister and asked if she wanted to have dessert with lunch.  When she nodded he asked his brother the same thing.  He also agreed.  Sometimes Nick impresses me with his ability to work with his siblings. 

I'm rather disappointed in myself this Lenten season.  The sacrifices I had decided to make were not concrete, and honestly, not really that much of a sacrifice for me.  But last night I felt a pull to say a Rosary.  I can't remember the last time I did so, but it was before we moved into this house, so we're talking the better part of a year. 

I prayed and I could feel that it was good.  And very badly needed.  I may be several weeks late in getting into the true Lenten spirit, but I'm taking the better-late-than-never stance this time around.  I now have a concrete plan of how I want to honor the season. 

(I'm not going into detail on these plans for a reason.  Scripture tells us we shouldn't act like we're fasting, while we're fasting...we don't celebrate Lent for show.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sunshine and Wind

I hung my laundry on the line today.  I could tell I'd been using the dryer all winter because it took me forever to get it all hung up.  So long, in fact, that by the time I'd filled the lines, the first clothes I'd hung were already dry. 

It wasn't just my slow speed though.  It was warm--79 degrees--and windy.  I had a Little House on the Prairie moment while I was working.  There are no houses behind us, only fields, and a mile or so away some trees.  With the wind blowing my hair and whipping the clothes around, with the shadows of the clouds moving over the ground as they covered and uncovered the sun, looking across the empty land, I felt a little bit like Laura Ingles.  And I liked it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Menu Plan for March 11

We're back to our normal meal schedule this week. 


blueberry muffins
scrambled eggs and toast x2
cream of wheat
chocolate chip muffins
cold cereal
leftover baked oatmeal


cheese and crackers, hard boiled eggs and raw veggies
leftover white chili and anadama bread
vegetarian tacos (leftover from last Friday)
baked oatmeal and fruit
chicken salads with bread
tomato soup and grilled cheese
quesadillas and fruit


homemade pizza and apple slices
pork chops, parmesean potato wedges, and green beans
turkey, mashed potatoes, and corn
pulled pork sandwiches, oven fries
spaghetti and garlic bread
spinach articoke pasta bake (new recipe that probably only I will like)
hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and raw veggies

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Menu Plan--March 4

I'm behind on posting this, but I did actually have it written Saturday night.  Ben's on spring break this week, so he'll be having lunch with us before he heads in to work.  Except for the weekend, when he's drillling and won't be home until dinner.  So here's our big meals for the week, whatever time they may occur.

Sunday--Pizza (I was planning on homemade, but we took a trip to the museum and didn't get home in time to get it done.  Yea for take out!)

Monday--Pulled pork sandwiches, oven fries, grapes

Tuesday--Baked chicken, twice-baked potatoes, tossed salad, corn

Wednesday--Ham, macaroni and cheese, peas

Thursday--chicken and biscuits

Friday--pancakes, fruit

Saturday--White chicken chili, anadama bread, fruit

Goals for March

It's time to start working on my next set of goals.  Here are the two I've picked for this month, along with my plans for making them happen.

The Big Project:
I want to paint Anna's room.  The same wallboard that is in our family room (which used to be a dining room) is in her room.  They used the extra pieces to cover the plaster lathe in the bedroom, so it's certainly better than it could be.  But it's not very pretty for a little girl's room.  I'm going to paint over it so it will still be textured, but hopefully the walls will stop competing with all of her cute pictures and things and be more of a backdrop. 

I already have the paint, I just need to find the time to get it done.  I actually had plans (i.e. Grandma said she'd babysit) last Friday, but we ended up having a snowday, so I skipped the painting plans and attempted to build a snowman instead.  (The snowman never did get a head, but that's a whole other story.)  Ben has some time off in the mornings this coming week, so it's possible that I could paint one morning while he amused the kids, but more likely I will wait until Grandma and Grandpa get back from vacation and send the kids over there for a morning.  I think it would be less stressful for everyone (except maybe Grandma).

New Habit to Form:
Here's the old New Year's resolution standby:  start exercising.  The thing is, I really need to do this.  And I really want to do this.  It's just a matter of actually DOING it. 

So I've decided to start small until it works it's way into my daily routine.  I mean really small.  My goal for right now is five minutes a day of stretching, yoga, or kickboxing.  Last night I stretched for five minutes before bed.  This morning I did five minutes of sun salutations before I got in the shower.  So far, so good.  I really think (hope) that once I get started I will want to do more and by the end of the month I'll be up to 15 minutes morning and evening.  But I'll call it a success if I'm still at it, even if it's still just five minutes a day.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review of February's Goals

Instead of making "New Year's Resolutions" this year, I came up with a couple of lists of things that I wanted to accomplish.  One list was of fairly large projects that I would have to find time for over several days/weeks.  The other list was of habits I wanted to develop.  I decided that I would tackle one thing from each list each month.  My hope was that by doing bit by bit I could make permanent changes to my daily habits and not be overwhelmed by my large projects.

February's Big Project:

For the month of February I chose balancing the checkbook as my large project.  Now for a more organized person, this would take 15 minutes.  I used to be one of those people.  Then I had three children.  I hadn't balanced the checkbook since December of 2010. 

I mostly accomplished this goal.  I went through all our bank statements, adding transactions I had missed originally and correcting a couple that were entered in twice.  I have not technically balanced the checkbook, as I am waiting for my next bank statement so I can actually have it all up to date.  But, since I am now in the general ballpark of what my bank says I have, I'm calling it good enough for now.

February's Habit:

The habit I chose to develop this month was to write regularly in journals I keep for each of the kids.  Even when my oldest was a baby, I found it hard to keep his baby book updated, and I couldn't find the "right" spot for so many of the things I wanted to remember.  So I bought a cute little notebook for each of them, and when they do or say something memorable I jot it down.  In theory.  In reality I can go for months at a time without writing anything for anyone.  And thus was born February's habit.

I started out thinking I'd write in one book each night Monday through Wednesday and then which ever I felt like Thursday nights, since those are the nights I'm home alone in the evenings.  After about a week and a half I saw that wasn't going to work.  Some nights I just didn't have anything I special I wanted to document, and I didn't my journals to turn into reports of what we did each day.  The rest of the month I took a few minutes to reflect at the end of the day and wrote in who's ever book I felt like.  Some nights I wrote in all three, other nights I didn't write anything.  But at the end of each week, each child had at least one memorable thing recorded in each of their books.  I'm happy with that and I am planning to continue it in this way.  I've found that I've been a lot more aware of the new things the kids are doing and that is an added bonus.

Bonus habit:

I bought a roll of dental floss.  And I've been using it almost every night.  As someone who does not enjoy flossing, I am quite proud of this accomplishment, so I had to add it.