Sunday, November 28, 2010

Please be patient!

It's been a bit crazy around here, but I wanted to assure everyone that we are still very much alive.

We have been dealing with a birthday, everyone home all day for an entire week due to Thanksgiving, me finding various ways to injure myself, prepping everyone in the family for the possibility of a move and I started working a nice little holiday job.

Initially, we were hoping to move over the Christmas holiday, but now we're to the point of hoping the move happens by Spring Break. I'm trying to be cautiously optimistic. It's a good thing that things are taking so long because it's giving The Boy more time to get used to the idea. He is very reluctant to move. He has responsibilities at church that he takes very seriously. If we move, there will be no other boys in his age group to take on these duties. He wants us to wait until he is 14 to move. He turns 14 in March. At the rate things are going, he may get his wish.

As to the holiday job, I am doing the Santa photos at the mall again. I really love this job. The mall I worked at before decided to take the Santa photos using one of the portrait places at the mall instead of contracting with a holiday event company, so that left me out of a job. I took last year off since Little Miss was so small. This year I'm at a new mall, much busier and I'm not the manager! That's really a good thing because I just enjoy taking pictures with no responsibilities beyond that. It doesn't seem like being the manager is that big of a deal, but it's a lot more than just making the parents happy. Been There, Done That...Got the T-shirt ... donated it to charity. Nope, I'll just stick to snapping unflattering pictures of screaming children and collecting outrageous amounts of money for them.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cupcake Fail

I'm no Martha. That was painfully obvious on this month's Martha Stewart Cupcake challenge. We were to make the turkey cupcakes.

We made them using One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes. This is Leelee's favorite cupcake recipe so far. I also like it because it's easy.

Go ahead, take a look at what they were supposed to look like. Then quickly come back and see mine....



Try not to laugh.


There is one big advantage of cupcakes this ugly...you have absolutely no remorse for eating them. In fact, by eating them, you are putting them out of their misery. Ugly cakes taste better than pretty cakes because there is no guilt involved. You don't feel like you are ruining some work of art.

Hopefully, we'll have better luck next month.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fun on a budget

People often ask how it is possible to feed a large family on the cheap or even do "normal" things like going to the movies when you have a large family. The secret is careful planning and savings.

Meal Planning is key to making it work on a budget for any family size. With meal planning, you know what you're going to eat and when. This should minimize those trips to the grocery store wondering what the heck you're going to feed the family.

Shopping with a List, making sure you have everything you need for the week, and keeping the grocery trips to the minimum are crucial. How many times have you gone in to the store for "just one thing" and left with a full cart? I try to avoid certain stores like the plague. I know if I walk in to WalMart, I will magically find no less than $50 worth of merchandise, even if I go in for toilet paper. The other store that is quickly becoming the bane of my financial existence is DollarTree. It's $10 every single time. I have to limit myself to once or twice a month.

Couponing works. It took me a long time to be convinced of this one. Even if you cook from scratch you can find coupons for yeast, sugars, whole grain pastas, meats, produce, etc. The best deals, I've found, are at the drug store for health and beauty products. Never pay for tooth paste. It's usually free between coupons and rebates. Just don't get too attached to certain brands.

Speaking of REBATES and PROMOTIONS, this is how we manage to do the fun stuff. When you combine the coupons with other promotions, you can really score. This summer, we managed to take all the kids (except The Boy) to see Toy Story 3 and eat snacks at the theater, thanks to several different promotions. At the theater, I paid an additional $2.50 because the movie was in 3D. The promotions were for things our family was purchasing anyway, such as upgrading our DVD movies to BluRay, cereal and snacks! In fact, we just got six tickets and more concession cash to a movie for next weekend. We're taking Leelee and some friends for her birthday. Again, not costing a thing.

Find FREE local ACTIVITIES. Our community center has a free mother's morning out program three days a week. There are several museums suitable for children in our community that are also free. This holiday season, we'll be having fun at the state Christmas Tree Lighting, Holiday Parade, Interfaith Nativity Exhibit, it's all about finding out what's in your area.

By saving in some areas, it allows us to have fun in other areas. It took me several months to save enough cereal codes (and I even begged from friends and family!) The kids really appreciate the hard work involved when we go anywhere. It makes the time all the more special, I think.

Most of the time, we do stay home and have our own fun. The kids have put on their own carnivals, mini-Olympics, and plays. Their favorite thing to do, however, is FAMILY GAME NIGHT. To be honest, it's one of my favorites, too.

I also started doing SWAGBUCKS. I'm earning one $5 gift card for amazon every week, on average. Not too bad for searching for random things. If you want to sign up, check out the referral widget on this page!

I'm curious to hear what other tips are out there for maximizing the fun without breaking the bank!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kitty Troubles

Josie adopted us a little more than a year ago. She integrated very well in to our family after she sneaked her children in to our home. We found new homes for her babies and then fixed the baby problem permanently. Josie has been a wonderful and patient cat.

With the cooler weather, Josie has decided she likes being outside. When she wants out, she jumps up on the backdoor, literally hanging from the window until someone lets her out. After she's had her fun, she will stare at us through the back door (still hanging by her paws) til we let her in.

I've never met a cat quite like Josie.

She has decided D is her human. She will sit on him and groom him like one of her kittens. D's siblings tend to think this is funny since D is *not* a cat person. Like most cats, Josie completely ignores those who love her and focuses her attention on the one person around that tolerates her existence. It's like the cat takes it as a personal challenge: Resistance is futile. I will assimilate you. You will serve me, puny human.

I do like to give Josie a special treat in the form of a can of cat food. She really appreciates me on those days and won't give me the evil eye like she normally does.

The last day or so, I've smelled the most horrendous smell, like something is dying. Josie likes to leave me special treats, like dead lizards. Somehow, I don't think a can of cat food really compares with the dead lizard, but Josie is proud of the carcasses she leaves near my shoes. Perhaps its some sort of peace offering. She recognizes that I do run things around here. D is merely her underling. I, however, deserve some sort of respectful disdain.

The lizards don't typically stink, so I was perplexed on what it could be. No one else in the house could smell anything. No one ever does.

I searched high and low. When I got low the smell got worse. I was certain I was going to find some dead rotting corpse gift. That was almost better than what I did find. One of the cans of soft cat food had been punctured and slowly was rotting. Go ahead and throw up, I give you permission.

I spent the better part of the afternoon trying to find some sort of scent combination to get rid of the stench.

Josie was also the center of trouble around 2 in the morning. D and I were roused from a very peaceful sleep by the sound of someone breaking in to our home!

CRASH.

Then the cat sounded like someone stepped on her and was trying to strangle her. D and bolted out of the room to figure out what was going on as the wailing continued, followed by a SLAM in the girls' room.

Josie was carrying on like she was under attack, trying to ram herself into the window. Was it possible the cat had finally lost her mind?

Nope. She is just insanely territorial. Perched on the other side of the window with a smug look was another cat, taunting Josie with that "You can't catch me, neener neener" look.

We had to physically remove Josie from the girls' room and shut the door. Josie spent the next 20 minutes prowling the house and looking out every window making sure the other cat wasn't there.

Maybe we ought to invest in one of those Beware of Cat signs!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ten Tips for New Moms

It's a bit sad for me to be moving out of the baby stage, but I do have some tips for new moms. Twittermoms is sponsoring a program with Lysol to give tips to new moms. I really miss the baby stage. I love newborns. They are so snuggly. And they need you. And they don't talk back. And when you put them down, they are exactly where you left them.

Having had six kids, I would like to pass on some tips to other new moms welcoming home baby.

1. Don't do too much. It's really easy to fall into the supermom trap. The hormones are flying high and you no longer fill like a Macy's Thanksgiving Parade balloon. But the best thing you can do is stay in bed and let everyone do everything. It's ok! Take time to recover physically.

2. Sleep when the baby sleeps. This tip you hear all the time, but it's true. Baby's sleep schedule is crazy. Avoid the temptation to get "caught up" on things when baby is sleeping. Your body will thank you for it.

3. If someone asks if she can do anything, be specific on your needs. A good friend will be more than happy to help wash floors if you need it!

4. Consider a Post Partum Doula. A Post Partum Doula is like a maid for after you have the baby. She does the things you can't ask your mom or mother-in-law to do. She makes you take care of yourself. I had one after the birth of my third child and it was by far the best recovery. She took my older kids to the park, scrubbed my floors, brought me food. It was great!

5. Know what is normal for a nursing baby. One common concern among new moms is knowing what's normal when baby eats. A newborn's stomach is the size of a marble and will grow over time. It is absolutely NORMAL for a baby to want to nurse every hour! The more you nurse the baby, the more milk you make. Every single bottle offered to the baby will impact your supply.

6. Input equals Output. If you are concerned about whether or not baby is eating enough, pay attention to how many wet and poopy diapers. Baby is eating enough if there are 6-8 wet diapers a day. Babies also typically wet when they poop.

7. Be specific with your partner. A lot of dads are clueless. They couldn't do anything during the pregnancy and now that the baby's here, they are scared. The only thing that seems to help baby is being with mom. So dad's job continues to be taking care of mom. But, you need to be specific with what you need. Is it the trash? the dishes? Men aren't mind readers and are fixers. If they see you and baby getting frustrated with nursing, they are going to say use formula because it's an instant fix. it's something the dad knows will solve the problem. If this isn't an option you want to consider, make sure it's known in advance. Get a panic plan in place.

8. Be true to your heart. If it feels wrong for you, then it's probably wrong. This is your baby! Trust your heart not what the "experts" say. you are your baby's best advocate!

9. You don't have to please everyone. Say no to unwanted visitors. Say no to unwanted tasks. Get in the habit now of saying NO. People will be upset but that is their issue, not yours!

10. Remember the Yard Stick. Imagine your child's life is a yard stick. Each year of life is marked by one inch on the stick. See how small that first year of life is? And those tiny marks are each month! This newborn, needy, sleepless time is just a blip. It will be gone. I know how hard it is getting through the days that feel like they will drag on forever without sleep. But it really is gone so fast.

I can't emphasize how important the Yard Stick is. My oldest child was born at 4 lbs 1 oz. He spent 3 weeks in the NICU. It felt like it would never end. So many of his stages felt like they would never end. But now, The Boy is 4 inches taller than me. He's in the 8th grade. He doesn't need me as much as he did back then!

These moments when baby needs you and only you are so precious and fleeting. Cherish them.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Lysol® Wee Wisdom blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

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