Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's never too early to shop for Christmas!

Toys R Us are having a nice sale this week on DS games - 2/$40 for certain DS games. My older two boys each got a DS for Christmas this past year. I know they will be thrilled with a new game for Christmas next year. I am planning a trip to Toys R Us this week to pick up 2 games. Planning ahead for Christmas definitely makes it less stressful and hectic. Each month, I set aside a certain amount of money specifically for Christmas. If I see a great deal on something that I know my kids will love, I have the cash to spend. I have always shopped ahead for Christmas but this is the first year I will also be putting money aside each month. Hopefully this will keep me from overspending and overbuying!

Kmart Deal

Kmart currently has a great deal on Kellogg's select cereals, 12oz - 20 oz, for $1.88. Plus, Kellogg's is running a deal where you get a free gallon of milk if you buy a certain number of Kellogg's products. I went there the other day and got 5 boxes of Frosted Flakes for $1.88 plus I got two coupons for a free gallon of milk. Five boxes of cereal and 2 gallons of milk for a total of $10.15? Not bad even if the cereal will only last a week, maybe 10 days, in my house!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Working Mama Monday

Morning Routines

I love having a morning routine! It helps save me time and aggravation. My kids do better with a routine and I think they like knowing what they are expected to be doing or what they have to do next. During the week we have a very strict morning routine given the early hour we all have to be up and out of the house by. Our routine works because both my husband and myself stick to it every morning.
During the weekdays we get up in shifts - my husband, my youngest son and myself are up first and I am out of the house, with my youngest son, by 630. The second shift is my husband and the other two boys. He gets them up, dressed, fed, and on the bus before he leaves for work. Each kids know he has to get dressed before he comes downstairs. Each child chooses between two or three breakfast choices. The older two know they have to eat all of their breakfast before they are allowed to have 10 minutes of Wii or DS. Sometimes they have a bit of homework left over that they have to complete before they can do anything fun. The older two boys have to get their backpacks (put take home folders in it) and lunch on their way out to wait for the bus. My youngest son knows he has to get dressed, eat breakfast, use the bathroom, get his shoes and coat on and then we leave. Being four years old, this set routine keeps him focused and cooperative(usually).

On the weekends we really have no set routine. But I have noticed we have more behavior issues and sibling fighting on weekends compared to weekday mornings. I am going to have to institute a weekend morning routine!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week in Review

This past week has been the second of two very busy hectic weeks. I am happy it is over and we are that much closer to our Spring Break. I didn't do a lot of cooking or cleaning or organizing or really much of anything these past two weeks. We did have our annual St. Patrick's Day party last weekend and I did obviously cook for that but no extra cooking. We have been eating very simple meals here this week, pasta, pancakes, etc. I even took the kids to McDonalds twice in the last two weeks! I haven't done that in quite a while!
As for shopping, I did get a great deal on cereal at Price Chopper this week - 4boxes of cereal for $6 plus I had 2 $1 off 2 boxes coupons. That brought the price to a dollar a box for the four boxes I bought. Nice but... there is only less than half a box left! Kmart has cereal on sale this week for $1.88 a box so I am going to go stock up again. I am seriously thinking about not buying any more cereal since it is expensive and we go through so much.
I am also planning a Toys R Us run this week. They have DS game on sale - 2/$40. I will buy 2 and put them away for Christmas. It is never too early to start Christmas shopping if you get some good deals!
Have a Happy Week!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Home Improvements

My husband and I have must have gotten struck by Spring Cleaning Fever. We have started or at least purchased a few home improvements this weekend. We are in the process of sealing our living room hardwood floors. Some areas of our living room floor are down to bare wood - all of the sealant has been worn away. We really don't have the extra money to have the floors professionally redone. We decided to just add the sealant in order to improve the look of the floor (it definitely is shiny!) and to protect it until we have money to have them redone.
We also decided to rip up the carpet in our sunroom and lay down wood flooring. Our dog will have accidents every once in awhile in that room and I don't want the dog urine to soak through the the ply wood beneath the carpet. My husband bought the flooring to install and hopefully we will have it done by the end of this coming weekend. We used the money from our House Maintenance envelope to purchase the flooring and it felt great to be able to use cash for it!
I am also itching to paint that room as well as our bedroom. I did spend one day during our winter break cleaning the walls in our bedroom so it is all set to be painted. I still have to decide on a color for our sunroom - I am leaning towards a cream or little green since we have left over paint form other projects. We are planning on painting our bedroom a light brown with an even lighter brown trim. I then need to figure out wall treatments for both rooms. I will definitely post pictures when we finish these projects!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Working Mama Mondays


Maybe of us have many many unwanted, unnecessary items hanging around. I know we have our share and then some of items that are taking up space. I wanted to unload some of these items but don't want to have a garage sale. Garage sales take a lot of time and effort to have and I don't have any extra time or energy to have one. Enter Craigslist. Without leaving the comfort of my home, I sold three items this weekend - a floor length mirror, a wooden train table, and a booster chair. I love Craigslist!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Working Mama Monday

Bulk Cooking

I want my family to eat healthy and nourishing foods. I am trying to cut back on the amount of pre-packaged and processed foods. But...I am a working mama with little time to spend preparing each and every meal from scratch. Enter Bulk Cooking or as other people call it Once A Month Cooking, Freezer Cooking, etc.
The concept is simple, spend one to two days a month cooking meals ahead of time and then freezing them to use throughout the month. Voila, the two 8 hour days spent in the kitchen buys you time throughout the month.

Except... I don't have 1-2 days a month to spend just on cooking. Devoting this amount of time each month to just cooking does not work for me, my family, and our schedule. I have tried modified versions of Bulk Cooking and I do believe it is a great time saver but at this point in my life, I can't pull it off. So, I have have experimented ways to save time in the kitchen and still feed my family healthy foods.

The best variation I found that works for me and my family is what is often referred to as Batch Cooking. Each time you prepare a meal or even a single food item, double, triple the recipe. Freeze the extras for the future. I do this with pancakes all the time. I also have done this with baked goods like cookies, muffins, and breads. If you are making meatballs for dinner, make a ton! Make 2 pans of lasagna, freeze the second pan. Even if you aren't making an extra meal, little steps can save time in the future. If you are chopping onions for one meal, chop a bunch and freeze the extras.

I have found a few extra minutes, here and there, help those days or nights when you are pressed for time.

Friday, March 5, 2010


I been slowing trying to wean my family off paper towels. We have a stash of old cloth diapers that we use but there are days when we whip through them in no time. I really didn't want to go out and buy new towels just to use as rags. A few weeks back my husband cleaned out his t-shirt drawer and he had a very large pile of t-shirts that either were stained or just didn't fit right. I am donating the ones that aren't stained and I cut up the stained ones to use as rags. I cut off the neck opening and sleeves and then cut each shirt in half. I donated the scraps to an agency that I know recycles rags. I now have a new stash of rags to use and I didn't have to spend a dime.
For more frugal ideas, check out Life As Mom.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Working Mama Mondays

Getting Help

Working and having three boys can can me busy. Add the fact that my husband teaches a college course one night a week, one of my sons' plays soccer in the fall and spring, one son plays t-ball, and both of my older sons are in Cub Scouts. Plus I am the den leader for my younger son's den. Put all of that together makes for a very busy house. Thankfully, my husband and I are both on the same page about a lot of things. We did have a house cleaner come in once a month to do the big cleaning jobs but we stopped that a few months ago in an effort to tighten our finances and start paying down debt. It was a sad day for me! Given that all of the housework, errands, and everyday clutter was still there, I felt a bit overwhelmed. Well, I quickly cheered myself up by telling myself I hadn't had a house cleaner for all that long and I had been able to get it all done before.
Except, now there are three boys instead of one or two AND we have a much bigger house.
It was time for everyone to step up to the plate. My husband and I take on certain jobs, he is in charge of doing the laundry(thank god for that!), I fold the laundry and everyone puts their own laundry away. One of us makes dinner, the other cleans up the kitchen. My husband is great about starting the dishwasher each night before he goes up to bed.
The children have their own responsibilities that are appropriate for their age. They definitely give us trouble when it comes time to do their chores but they are getting better. Each kid is in charge of their rooms, putting laundry away, picking up toys and toys, making beds, etc. They do these on the weekends. Some weekends they fly through this other weekends there are lots of excuses and even tears. But, as I said before, they are getting better.
There is still room to improve for all of us but the biggest lesson I have learned is everyone could use some help. I am lucky that my husband shares half of the housework and child rearing. I really don't think I would be as organized and on top of things if my husband wasn't as good as he is about doing his share. Love that man!