Monday, March 12, 2018

Meal Plan

So something happens when you decide that you are not buying any meat until either the meat you order arrives or you use up every last bit of meat left in the freezer. What happens is the teen boy discovers the place on the fridge to write down food that we are out of and should add to the grocery list and writes in really big letters "MEAT." He was a bit disappointed to learn that I have no plans to buy more meat until we use up what we have.

M: baked oatmeal (B), BBQ chicken (D)
T: yogurt and granola (B), taco soup (D)
W: cereal (B), leftovers (D)
T: egg sandwiches (B), pulled pork (D)
F: oatmeal (B), stuffed shells (D)

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Meal Plan

We are still working on cleaning out the freezers. This is testing my creativity a bit more than usual because we have the cuts of meat left that we aren't as crazy about or that are just a bit harder to use.  I am also doing my best to not buy anymore meat until what is currently in the house is gone.  So if you have any creative uses for pork hocks, I'd love to hear them.

S: cereal (B), leftovers (L), spaghetti (D)
M: eggs and toast (B), sandwiches (L), short ribs (D)
T: baked oatmeal (B), leftovers (L), hot dogs (D)
W: egg and cheese sandwiches (B), pbj (L), honey glazed chicken (D)
T: cereal (B), soup (L), leftovers (D)
F: oatmeal (B), tuna melts (L), spinach tortellini soup (D)
S: French toast (B), leftovers (L) pizza (D)

Saturday, March 3, 2018

For the Boy Moms Out There

Today was one of those days where I had planned on mostly staying home all day. Doing not much but relaxing while waiting for the rest of the snow on the driveway to melt away because a 15 passenger van vs snow and ice on a gravel driveway is just not always fun.  But I quickly discovered we were completely out of chicken food and the birds must be fed so my plans changed. As I was walking out the door, I was informed of a few more items that we were also completely out of that just could not wait until payday in another 10 days. This does make me wonder why no one else can write down on the fridge when we are low on items but I digress.

So after the feed store, I headed off to the grocery store. Alone without any children, the grocery store suddenly becomes a lot more interesting than it would be otherwise and I find myself wandering aisles, wasting some time, and enjoying the relative quiet.

While wandering, I overheard a few parents having one of those discussions. The oh my gosh, it is so hard having x number of kids. One Mom piped up with "And I have all boys so that just makes it worse." As a mom to 8 boys, this is what I wanted to say:

I get it. Being a mom to a bunch of boys is hard. Oh so hard when they are little. They are a huge ball of energy and often never stop moving. Jumping off stairs and bouncing on the couch.  Climbing trees and finding every single mud puddle in a 10 mile radius. They are loud. Oh so loud that it can drive you to distraction. The nerf guns that have darts flying by your head with uncanny accuracy followed by a chorus of "But I was aiming for my brother, not you." And the smell. When you have more than one boy sharing a room, it has a way of developing what we lovingly call the boy funk around here. And those appetites. Where do they put all that food? And the growth spurts and holes in the knees of every single pair of pants they own and so many holes in their sneakers from using their feet as brakes on their bikes. Holes you are likely to not notice until the day they can't find their dress shoes and thus wear their sneakers to church.

I get it. It's hard. Wonderful but sometimes oh so hard. But then one day it changes. It changes because we aren't just raising boys. We are raising men.

Men who can help and take care of things on their own. I now have 4 boys who are much older. 2 are actually adults now. How the heck did that happen? I can't remember the last time I had to clear the snow off the van. In the winter, I almost never have to pump gas. I never shovel the driveway or mow the lawn. They can change the oil and change tires. They can pull a car out of a ditch or rescue me when the van is stuck in the driveway AGAIN. (Not like this happened this morning when I put the van into a snow bank at the end of the driveway or anything.)

One of them has a gift with building things and has made his own tool bench without plans using only scrap lumber. He's building shelves in the garage to help keep everything off the ground.  He still manages to leave tools all over the yard but he's starting to get a little better now that he has his own set.

Raising a handful of boys is not easy. Society certainly does not help us in this challenge anymore. There is very little real guidance provided for these young men as they try to navigate what being a man truly means.

They still eat a ton. They still grow like weeds. They still love to get messy and obsess over things that have no meaning to me. But they have become such a tremendous blessing now that they are older. So just hang in there. And remember that they don't stay this little forever.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Walmart Grocery Pick-up: Is It Worth It?

Ok, let's be real for a minute here. There are some days when going into the grocery store is just the last thing you want to do. Especially Walmart. I don't know about your experiences but it seems like any time we attempt to shop at Walmart, we spend at least 10 minutes standing in the darn check out lane. No matter what day, what time, or what lane you get in. There is no such thing as a quick exit from Walmart.

Grocery shopping with 3, 4, 5, or more kids? Not always fun. Grocery shopping when you have 20 other errands to run or sick kids or a super tight budget? None of these things are fun. Avoiding the hassles are all reasons I like using Walmart Grocery Pick-Up Service.

This service is super simple. You create an account on the Walmart website, go to the Walmart Grocery section and browse the items available at your local store. Prices do vary by location so if you have more than one store close by, you might want to compare prices.  Add your groceries to your cart, pick a day and time to pick-up your order, and check out as normal. If you realize you have forgotten an item, you have time to add things to your order before pick up.

The day your order is scheduled for delivery, you will receive an email telling you when it is ready. You can also sign up for texts but I just never have my phone on or the ringer is turned off because we were in church or something so for me, emails are better.  You drive up to the pick up location at your local store, call to tell them you are there, and they bring your order out to your car and load it for you.

So what is there NOT to like? At the current moment, they do not accept coupons or gift cards with this service.  There is a minimum order requirement so you can't use the service just for the cold medicine and ginger ale you need for the sick kid at home. But the minimum order is only $30 so it is fairly easy to reach. 

What else is there to like? You can earn a $10 referral credit for each friend you refer, up to $100 in a year. Here's my referral link, if you are so inclined. If you place your first order using that link, I will receive a credit so thanks! If you place your first order using a referral link, you also receive a discount off your first order. In order to use the referral credits, you need to place a $50 order before any discounts. Again, not too terribly hard to reach.  And if you are on a tight budget, you can track your order due and tell exactly what you will need to pay before you check out. This certainly is more convenient than doing your grocery shopping with a calculator in hand.  You can also place your order and have someone else pick it up. This means my husband can pick up the groceries on his way home from work and save us extra time and gas money.

Give it a try. Anything to make life run a little smoother is welcome around here.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Meal Plan

We are in working on emptying the freezers right now. Cleaning them out and using up the last of our beef and pork from last year. This means we are down to all the odds and ends that are not likely to get cooked quickly during the year and a few items that I found on sale. It is time to get a little creative with the last few roasts and and make room in the freezers for our meat order this year. I have an order of ground beef coming from a local farm this week sometime and I also managed to get an incredible deal on boneless skinless chicken breasts through Zaycon Fresh a few weeks ago (under $1/lb for a 40 lb case) and will pick that up near the end of March. Our normal order of beef and pork is usually ready in March or April so I'm hoping to have the freezers ready by then.  With the money allocated for future purchases (of mostly locally sourced, ethically raised, organic free-range meat), the current grocery budget is a bit tight to encourage us to stick to the plan and use up what we have. 

S: donuts after Mass (B). schnitzel and spaetzle (D)
M: eggs and toast (B), leftovers (D)
T: bagels, fruit (B), spicy chicken soup and cheddar muffins (D)
W: egg sandwiches (B), sweet n sour pork (D)
T: baked oatmeal (B), steak and cheese sandwiches (D)
F: breakfast potluck (B), rice bowls (D)
S: cereal (B), pizza night (D)

What's on Your Reading List?

I don't know about you but I tend to go through times when I am not reading a darn thing followed by times when I am reading 2, 3, or 4 books at a time. Right now finds me smack dab in the later of the two. So here's my list. What's on yours?

The Baker's Secret. I recently finished this one and loved it. It is set in a coastal village in the Normandy region of France during WWII. A village which witnesses the storming of the beaches after several years of occupation. This one is full of real characters and gives a realistic picture of life for the villagers left behind to live through the occupation.
The Three Things Divorced Catholics Need to Know. This is a short book that gives a brief yet thorough look at the most important things divorced Catholics need to know in order to reconcile the faith as a Catholic with the realities of a marriage that has ended.  This one is a must read not only for divorced Catholics but also for anyone who works in marriage ministry in any fashion in the Church.

My Lenten Journey 2018.  I'm working my way through this one when I remember. It is exactly what it sounds like: a journal for Lent that provides inspirational quotes as well as space to keep track of who you are praying for and your Lenten sacrifices. Perfect for the busy Mom who just needs a quick spiritual shot to recharge.
The Girl Who Survived. This is a read aloud book with Abby and Gabe. It is a a true story about a young girl named Bronia who survived the Holocaust and was one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz. I love that this book is not too intense for younger readers so I don't have to chase little people out of the room but it is also not a sugar coated story either.
Hidden Figures. I took this one with me to karate today to start but got kind of distracted by the karate class. That tends to happen sometimes. But I have a copy of the movie waiting to be watched and I have a rule about not watching the movie until I read the book. Although I must say I've been interested in reading this one for a while anyway.
A Philadelphia Catholic in King James's Court. Kieran is reading this on for a basic apologetics course. This fictional story follows a Catholic teen boy and his family after the death of his father causes them to move closer to family for support. The relatives they are living near are decidedly anti-Catholic and make it their mission to attempt to convert this boy away from his faith.  Instead they are met with a child who is solidly grounded in his faith and able to easily refute all of their arguments. I had Bryan read this book in high school as well and am rereading it now so I can keep up with Kieran's homework assignments. This book is a must read for high schoolers.

The Diary of Anne Frank. The three high schoolers (and Abby) will be attending this play in March so they are covering the book before we go. I'm reading along with them because it is so much easier to keep up with the assignments when the book is fresh in my mind as well.

What's on your list that I should read in the future?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A Pantry Challenge

I am attempting to end the year with a pantry challenge. We have an abundance of extras in the house and need to budget for a new car for Alan so it seemed the perfect time. Even with 3 birthdays in December.

So we are heading into week 2 of our pantry challenge and I am hoping to keep it going through the new year. I will still plan to buy the special Christmas extras but I likely won't go searching for anything extra to add this year.  We have so much but it is easy to forget how blessed we are when stress starts getting to you. So I sat down and came up with a meal plan that takes us up to December 23. I'll reevaluate the freezers at that point and see how much further we want to go.

M: cranberry bread and fruit (B), chicken parmesan casserole (D)
T: Kieran's birthday, his choices include breakfast burritos, pizza pockets, and chicken enchiladas
W: St. Nicholas Day so breakfast will include a heavy dose of candy along with yogurt, granola, and apple butter (B), tacos (D)
T: breakfast casserole (B), BBQ chicken (D)
F: bagels, fruit (B), potato soup, rolls (D)
S: cereal (B), pizza (D)

So other than filling the kids up with loads of chocolate, what are your favorite ways to celebrate St. Nicholas Day?