Monday, October 28, 2013

If You Give a Man a Fish

Ok, I saw yet another comment from someone today talking about how it makes no sense to tell people not to feed the animals in the park because they'll become dependent on the help when we are feeding people with food stamps and I will admit, it irked me. Again.  Because that is the most freaking ridiculous comparison ever.  So prepare yourself for a bit of my opinion here. And, no, you don't have to like it.

Yes, foodstamps (or SNAP as it is appropriately known now) are a necessary thing in our society. Necessary. Because we, the people, have stopped doing our duty. Our duty as a Christian, as a human person, as a being to make sure that we look out for those less fortunate than ourselves. Food stamps came into being because churches, families, and extended support networks stopped doing their God given jobs of helping out those less fortunate than themselves. Because those with money started getting an attitude and a holier than thou mindset and started saying well, just go get a job you lazy bum. Ok, how about you hire them then? If you think it is always a matter of just getting another job, you hire them. Oh, wait, you can't provide the income to hire someone. But wait, you just said all they had to do was quit being lazy and go get a job.  Um, it just doesn't work that way. Jobs, in case you haven't noticed, are not just laying around for anyone to just go get. And, yes, there are cases where a person simply cannot afford to get a job.  A single mother who has left an abusive relationship with 3 young children likely cannot afford the daycare necessary for her children if she just took any old job. A parent with a medically fragile child who's life would be put in danger if they were put in a daycare setting simply cannot just go get any old job. Yes, there are special cases.

And if you are going to attack food stamps, why don't you attack medicaid and disability and social security and a host of other programs? They are all entitlement programs designed by the government years ago to pick up the slack that we the people stopped picking up ourselves.  And they are all equally taken advantage of by the minority of people who are just truly not interested in improving their situation.

Yes, at one point Alan and I found ourselves in a situation where we qualified for food stamps when we were first married. When the funding for his government job disappeared. When our family was unable to truly help. When they said "We've paid into these programs for years. Please go apply for the help you need." And we did. But see there was a loop hole. Yes, we were in college. Tuition already paid. No refunds available. If you were in college even if you were independent students (as married students would be), you could not receive food stamps unless you were working 20 hours a week. I was, Alan was not. Our case worker said if we got divorced, I would qualify for emergency food stamps (when they give them to you immediately) but in order to get them while married, we needed proof that both of us were working at least 20 hours a week.  Yes, this was a humbling experience as indeed it should be. It is not fun to go to all 3 of your employers and ask them to sign paperwork stating how many hours you are working and explaining why you need it. It should not be fun or easy to apply for or receive said benefits. In the end, we did not qualify because we felt the whole marriage thing was more important.  We did, however, qualify for the WIC program. But here's the kicker. No one in the food stamp office ever suggested to us that we go apply. No one ever told us hey, here's another option. It took talking to someone I worked with to get the information. So for several months Alan would often not eat or we'd wrack up debt on the credit card to get food.  When Alan was finally able to find a job, he lost it when he came to the hospital with me when Bryan was born. Yes, that is a shortened version of a long story but the truth is simply that it's not always as easy as just applying for a stinking job.

What I have found in the past few years is that it is often those who have the least who are most willing to reach out and help others. It is those who are often in the greatest need who often say nothing about needing help. Many people have been too shamed by stigmas and attitudes of their friends and family members to reach out for that help when they are in need and truly rightfully qualify. I've heard so many people pass judgment on those receiving assistance who never take the time to talk to those getting it. They never ask how someone got there or what they are doing to get out of the situation. They never bother to bring over a little extra to help a family in need out.  Maybe they contribute to a food drive once a year but do so begrudgingly with a mumble under their breath about how so-and-so should just go get a job.

Yes, we still live on a very tight budget. No, we are not poor. No, our tight budget has nothing to do with having 10 children. Yes, we still qualify for WIC. Yes, we consider ourselves blessed. Yes, we feel the entitlement programs need to be reformed. No, we feel the reform should never come at the expense of feeding children who have parents who have made poor decisions. Yes, we still donate to food pantries and bring food over when someone is ill or just when we have extra and think maybe someone else could benefit. Yes, we've been blessed by the generosity of family, friends, and strangers over the years.  Yes, we've learned a lot more about how to successfully feed our family on a budget since getting married than we ever knew when we first got married.  Yes, it is our goal to make sure our children have this knowledge before they leave home so they are way more prepared than we were. Yes, we've packed holiday food packages with scouts and churches. Yes, we've even received one once. Yes, we are blessed beyond measure right now with what we have. But, no, I will not say that if you give a person food stamps you will make them dependent. Some will become ungrateful and expect more.  But so many more will be incredibly grateful for the help. For the ability to care for their family. For the dignity that a decent meal provides. Please don't judge these people.  Vote for reform but then reach out and help that family down the street or in your church or at the grocery store that you can tell just needs it. Because God did not give you extra so you can sock it away in a bank. He gave you that extra so you could share it.

Anyway, that is my rant for the day. Quit complaining about those on food stamps unless you are willing to help more of them out yourself. Vote for reform but don't take your frustrations out on those on the programs themselves because they are just as worthy of being treated with dignity as you are. And just like you might sometimes buy your child a juice box or a soda or a box of cookies, they sometimes might do the same thing. Or, oh my goodness, buy a steak for dinner for a birthday. Because even if you are poor, you still might want to eat something other than beans and rice every single day if you had the option.

And on that note, one wonderful resource for learning how to stretch your food dollars and still eat real food can be found here. She just started a realistic food stamp challenge for 2013. Not the fake ones politicians and noteworthy figures pretend to do every so often.  Awesome realistic ideas and thoughts to share with those living on a tight food budget.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Meal Plan

I really need to reorganize the freezers again. And get someone out to fix the alarm on the big freezer.  I'll be happier when I have a list of what is in there again and when we can always be certain that the door is shut properly. Sometimes when folks pull things out of the freezer for me, drawers don't get shut all the way or the latch is popped up a bit and the door doesn't quite shut completely.  The alarm used to alert us when that happened but it needs to be repaired.  On a positive note, Liam and Alan fixed the washing machine last weekend and fixed the dishwasher this weekend.  Next week we hope to have the funds to order the part to fix the upstairs/inside dryer because having to use the outside dryer all the time is a bit annoying when it's kind of cold.  I know, 1st world problems.  We are truly blessed.

S: FFY (B), spicy chicken soup (D)
M: bagels and yogurt (B), baked pasta for the kids while Mom and Dad will have steak after they go to bed (D)
T: pumpkin baked oatmeal (B), meatloaf muffins (D)
W: eggs (B), molasses rum chicken (D)
T: pancake sausage muffins (B), leftovers/sandwiches and I'm sure lots of candy (D)
F: cereal (B), chips and bean dip, carrots, celery (D)
S: FFY (B), pizza night (D)

The Cat

Part of living near so much farm land is an annual invasion of creatures this time of year. Small unwanted creatures that are seeking a warm place to stay.  This summer we've also dealt with new unwanted creatures in the house.  The snakes living under the front steps had babies. The babies keep coming into the basement. When the city water line was connected to the house, this somehow gave the outside frogs access to the basement. Don't ask me how because I'm not sure. I only know when I am standing in the basement hallway and I see a male frog and a female frog I start to think bad thoughts regarding the reproduction rates of said creatures.  I'm against using chemical poisons, believe the glue boards are rather inhumane, and don't relish the idea of a small child getting a finger caught in a snap trap so we've decided to add a natural predator to the mix.

We adopted an outside barn cat this week.  Heavy emphasis on the outside part.  With Sean's allergies and asthma, having a cat in the house is not a possibility. And after dealing with a pet cat growing up who used to pee in my closet, I have no desire to allow said creatures in my home either.  Positive: the cat was free. She's an older black cat and apparently no one likes to adopt either older cats or black ones.  She seems to not at all be overwhelmed by the children or the dogs.  Her name is Jaeda but Alan says she will become just The Cat because an outside cat in this are is likely to be taken down by a coyote eventually and the children should not get attached.  My only hope is she will take out a few snakes, frogs, and mice before that happens.  She is living in the garage for a few days while she adapts to her new digs and then we will let her out and hope she does not just run off.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tweaking a Recipe

We found this recipe for teriyaki beef. It was super simple. I mean 3 ingredients tossed into the crockpot pretty much screams simple.  But it was too sweet by the time we'd adjusted for feeding more folks so I had to do some tweaking the next time we made it.

I am finding that often when I am looking for thrifty frugal recipes, my ideas of inexpensive are vastly different than other peoples.  No, it's not frugal to put out 6 or 7 items for dinner in hopes that every child finds something they like. No, it's not frugal to allow kids to toss plates of food and go make a sandwich because they didn't like what was served. And, no, it's not frugal to allow larger portions of meat even if you are "a growing boy" or something.  Some of what is cheap for me is based on how I've been able to acquire food recently. The stuff grown at the farm was paid for in labor. The stuff purchased from the day old table at the produce stand was inexpensive. The marked down meat cuts costs. The organic grass-fed local meat, well that stuff is frugal in the sense that it is healthier for you than traditionally raised meat and will hopefully lead to fewer medical bills. It's all about balance and priorities.  I prioritize organic beef and pork right now, hormone free dairy because we can't afford organic yet, our own eggs when the birds are laying, and organic produce when we can afford it.

Anyway, I started with that simple recipe. I added a pound of carrots (less than $1), 5 medium onions (free from the farm), and a quart sized bag of sliced bell peppers (maybe 50 cents since some were from the farm, some were from the produce stand but it was about 3 bell peppers).  I stuck with 1 can of pineapple and 1 jar of sauce. Yes, it would be super awesome if you made your own sauce. I haven't gotten there yet so I buy with coupons and do my best to watch ingredient lists.  I used about a 3 pound roast for the meat. Served it over rice and it fed 12 with enough leftovers for 1 lunch the next day.

Any frugal ideas I'm missing? Please share because I am always looking for that one more hint to cut costs just a tad more.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Just a Short Note

Although you'd think on some level this shouldn't need to be said, I feel the need to say it anyway because folks are often weird in their expectations.  Please understand that over the next few weeks I simply may not be available, around, in the best of moods. No, we don't feel the need to paint on a happy face and pretend for folks. No, flowers won't make the heart ache any better because frankly nothing else quite sucks the way watching flowers die does in a case like this.  No, telling me you are so happy that someone else in heaven gets to spend time with my daughter does not help because seriously, how would it? Telling to be grateful and take it as the message it was and just stop having kids already only makes me think ill thoughts about you. So just please understand that I reserve the right to be sullen and moody and miserable and not take phone calls for a while.  So thanks for understanding.

a.k.a. Genius

Step into the shoes of one Gabe Carpenter as he navigates the daily challenges of life as a seventh grader in the book a.k.a. Genius.  Gabe is your typical 7th grade boy dealing with the normal challenges of life: an annoying sister, a locker that won't open, parents who don't quite understand him, changing social status at school, and that ever annoying lunch room.

Years after being released from the confines of a school environment, I felt all of the insecurities of life in school rushing back at me as I read this book.  Being one of those lucky people who attended 4 schools between 7th and 12th grade, I remember well that constant fear of will I fit in, will everything work out, and for goodness sake who on earth will I sit with at lunch.  The shifting sands as all of the other kids are trying to determine where they stand in the pecking order so the folks who were your friends yesterday suddenly won't speak to you today. I will honestly say that I've not read a young adult book recently that so accurately captured that struggle every kid deals with while navigating the halls junior high.  Or am I dating myself by even calling it that anymore?

After reading the book myself, I handed it to one of my sons to read.  He loved the book as well. His favorite character in the book was Linc, best friend of Gabe Carpenter.  I do believe he said he enjoyed his sense of humor.

Although this book does have a typical cheesy everything is perfect eventually ending, I did find it otherwise an enjoyable read. Gabe doesn't ever figure everything out or get his act completely together but does eventually start to come to terms with being ok with the person God has created him to be. In a library full of empty preteen literary suggestions, this one stands out in my mind as a positive yet realistic choice for young readers.  A welcome change from the current popular offerings out there.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on a.k.a. Genius. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Today's To-Do List

I can just tell I will need accountability so here is a public to-do list.  There is a lot to do and not quite enough time so let's see how today goes.

Wash parents' laundry.
Fold/put away said laundry.
Fold two other loads of laundry.
Can apple butter
Can apple sauce
Put another round of apples in the dehydrator
Make apple pie filling
Make 4 loaves of apple bread  (ended up with 3 loaves but we'll call it good)
Make apple peanut butter bars
Buy milk and vacuum bags and baking powder because we are apparently out
Return bottles/cans to the store
Deposit checks (yes, still)
Sign boys up for Merit Badge University (yes, still)
School with Gabe
School with Abby
School with Katie and Liam
Make dinner
Write book review
Take older boys to karate
Send a coupon to a friend
Load dishwasher
Make yogurt

I know there is more that I am forgetting. Yes, the older children will be doing school work as well but they are a bit more independent so I'm hoping they can mostly manage on their own. Wish me luck. I am hoping this takes care of most of the apples but it probably won't.  Anyone need any apples?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

How the Weekend Panned Out

So far this weekend Alan fixed the bunk beds (for the cost of a wooden dowel), Liam and Alan fixed the washing machine (got the part for free because I had Amazon gift cards banked), barn roof has been repaired, loft added to so there was ample space for the hay, 44 bales of hay have been put away, a manger was built in the barn for the hay (yup, I thought that was a little silly but what the heck).  The sheep were moved so they are now eating down the overgrown garden area so we can start fresh in the spring. 5 packages of chicken have been turned into 2 meals of peanut satay, 4 bags of uncooked chicken for crockpot meals, 3 large bags of shredded chicken for casseroles, one bag of shredded chicken for soup, and 6 bags of shredded chicken for pizza. Yes, we do love BBQ chicken and chicken wing pizza around here. 4 quarts of pears were canned and there were enough leftover for a Gabe sized snack. Apple butter is in the crockpot, applesauce is currently cooking on the stove, the dehydrator is doing it's magic on a batch of apples. We made apple crisp for dessert. The walnuts have been separated to be processed by the boys later this week.  Another batch of popcorn has been set aside to dry. The part we need to fix the dishwasher has been ordered so hopefully that can be fixed by the end of the week. We dropped by the cemetery to see if any progress has actually been made on the gravestone but no such luck. They apparently work very, very slowly. Sigh.

Haircuts for the boys are currently in progress downstairs.  Good thing, too, because they were all looking rather shaggy and I was getting tempted to shave a few heads. I still need to get the boys signed up for merit badge university and get my book review written. It was a wonderful book. Tomorrow will hopefully be filled with more apple processing, school work, writing that book review, and baking with a few more of those apples.  Maybe next weekend we'll be able to start putting some of the older popcorn away.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Meal Plan

Ok, I still have not processed all of that produce because after a run to SAMS where I just might have found boneless/skinless chicken breast for $1.50/lb, I bought about 30 lbs of it and came home to process that. Also picked up some more popcorn.  Then I took a nap while Alan and Liam fixed the washer.  Apparently this cold is kicking my butt more than I thought. So here's the meal plan with a few minor tweaks based on bread store sales.

S: cereal and yogurt (B), pot roast (D)
M: yogurt and cranberry bread (B), spanish rice and corn bread (D)
T: bagels with cream cheese (B), beef teriyaki because it did not get made last week (D)
W: oatmeal (B), spaghetti (D)
T: eggs in toast (B), chicken soup (D)
F: crockpot breakfast casserole (B), macaroni and cheese (D)
S: biscuits and gravy, apples (B), pizza night (D)

Weekend Plans

We have tons of plans for the weekend and I'm just hoping we get them all done. I have a book review that I need to work on. We're getting 40 some odd bales of hay delivered in the next hour. The washing machine needs to be repaired. The bunk beds were repaired last night. The kids and I were invited to pick some free apples, pears, and walnuts yesterday so I have a bunch of those to process. I'm going to just can the pear and dehydrate a bunch of the apples. Not sure what to do with all of them yet because we brought home way more than I was planning on. I've given some away and may try to give more away. I have to go pick up more popcorn and get that ready to dry. I need to remember to turn the scanner on and deposit some checks. You'd think remembering to do it from home would be easy.  The boys need to be signed up for Merit Badge University. We are attempting to clean up the yard before the weather turns. At least some of us are, some of the kids are still making weird contraptions involving headstones, strollers, and milk jugs. My meal plan is already done so hopefully after a quick run to the bread store, I can get to work on the produce.  Because there are certainly worse things in life to think about than having extra produce. Like that fact that there are still no plans in place to pay the reserve units for their drill time earlier this month. Because everyone loves to work for free. Can you hear the sarcasm? Because if not, you need to turn your sarcasm meter on. :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


No, not the Boy Scout kind. Although if you'd like to buy any of that, I have 3
boys who would just love to take your order. The real kind, growing in fields. Not sure if we picked enough so I might take a few kids back tomorrow to get a bit more.

I've learned many things about my kids this year.
One is that they know much more about where their food actually comes from than I ever did. Another is that for the most part, I have a crew of very hard workers.  There are a couple of kids who like to go hide or mope or pout anytime they are asked to do any work, ever. But we're working on them.

I did try to get pictures of the older boys but they were rather elusive among the corn.

Now the corn must be allowed to dry for a week or two before we remove it from the cobs. Yes, you can leave it on but since we usually use an air popper, that just won't work for us.

Karate Belts are not Just for Karate

Raising God First Kids in Me First World

Did you ever find yourself really looking forward to a book only to be entirely let down once you actually finished it? I finally got around to reading Raising God First Kids in a Me First World by Barbara Curtis. I know I kept putting it off because it was the last book she wrote before she died and I felt like once I finished the book, I would be closing the book on a source I had become used to looking to for wisdom. I always loved that Barbara was so real and honest in sharing about her life.  You could always feel the love she had for her family and yet she never held back from sharing some of the painful stuff. The real nitty gritty stuff that helps you relate to someone and maybe, just maybe makes you feel like you aren't such a failure at this parenting thing after all because someone else is dealing with less than perfect stuff, too. Let's be honest here: there simply are not many truly large family bloggers who are sharing the less than perfect stuff with the world.

Yesterday I finally sat down during karate class to finish the book.  And although you could feel the love she had for her children and just knew she put so much of her heart into the book, I have to say there was nothing new in the book for me at all. Or much concrete advice to be honest. There were lots of stories about her children but no real suggestions.  So I guess I'm feeling a bit disappointed.

It is wonderful to see that she felt such closeness to her high school and adult children. I don't think many parents feel that connection. I doubt many kids feel that connection. And it was obvious she poured her heart into the book in her last few months. But I have to call it more of a final memoir than a parenting book.  Wonderful stories of a wonderful family, but not quite a parenting book.

And, yes, I do still miss reading the stories she would share with her readers every week.

Our Sunday

The older two boys spent the weekend at a Eucharistic retreat and had an awesome time. I'm hoping maybe we can convince a few more folks to go with them next year.  After picking them up, we spent the afternoon with some friends. There is one rule when it comes to visiting this particular family: your children will leave soaking wet. It is just part and parcel of visiting this family.  Seemed to happen in Florida (granted the kids were almost always in the pool) and it seems to happen here.  Yes, half of the kids spent part of the time on the lake but even the kids who were dry after getting out of the boat ended up soaked before we left for home.

Everyone had a wonderful time and it truly makes me wish we lived just a little bit closer so we could see each other more often.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Meal Plan

S: cheese danish because there was this awesome sale at the breadstore (B), clean out the fridge (D)
M: yogurt (B), cajun bean soup and corn bread (D)
T: waffles (B) king ranch chicken casserole because I needed a creative way to use up two opened packages of taco shells (D)
W: egg sandwiches (B), bean and cheese quesadillas (D)
T: yogurt and muffins (B), beef teriyaki (D)
F: pumpkin baked oatmeal (B), tuna macaroni salad and deviled eggs (D)
S: bacon, eggs, and toast (B), pizza night (D)

Snacks for the week will be yogurt, all things pumpkin, fruit, string cheese. I'm taking a break from planning lunches since I'm finding I really need to keep them open for using up leftovers.

Eggs! Finally!

The bungle twins (as Alan has been known to call Katie and Liam) finally found a small stash of eggs hiding behind a pile of wood near the barn. Thank goodness because I was getting very close to putting a few of the chickens into the soup pot because they quite frankly have not been earning their keep. We got them as chicks in March and they really should have been laying at least for the past month, maybe more.  Granted, part of the delay was that some of the children so loathe the feed the chickens chore that they would just wander the yard and come inside and lie about having actually fed and watered the chickens.  Yes, I have stubborn children.
Normally the chickens will not lay much during the winter but since we will have sheep and possibly lambs in the barn this winter, we'll be heating it more than usual so I'm hoping that will help them lay just a bit more than usual.  I'm not usually a proponent of encouraging or forcing chickens to lay outside of their normal cycle but I'm hoping to get a few extra eggs out of the ladies this year.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

We visited a pumpkin patch with some friends yesterday. We took a nice long tractor ride, got lost in a corn maze (yes, it took a while to get out), played in a corn box, had cider and donuts, picked pumpkins, and just in general had a good time. I managed to not get a picture of all the kids together because they were too busy hanging out with their friends.

Please forgive the entirely unimaginative photo bomb and just enjoy the pictures.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Winter Pantry Stock Up

The canning list on the side bar has been replaced by a winter pantry stock up list.  One of the ways to feed the family on a budget is to pay attention to exactly when different staples go on sale and buy as much as you can when they are at their lowest prices.  This time of year is when I try to stock up on all the baking basics we will need during the year. Flour, sugar, chocolate chips, cake mixes as well as other seasonal products will be making their way into our pantry over the next few months.

Purging Goals

In the last few weeks, we've donated 3 trunk loads full of clothes and such. And the dog who is "not" having seizures (according to the vet) had I think 2 seizures in the playroom which then necessitated purging about half the contents of the playroom.  I'm honestly at the point where I truly think the playroom could stand to still loose another 50% of it's contents but I'm trying to not completely freak the kids out.  It just might happen before Christmas though.

Anyway, while I am still in the mood to purge, I thought I would post a few goals to keep me cleaning the house out over the next month. Hopefully some accountability will keep me motivated. I'm sure it would work better with pictures but I'm not quite in that mood at the moment.

1. purge bookshelves: this one is hard for me because we have lived in placed with pathetic libraries but I have to admit we have too much which means we can't always find the books we need when we are looking.

2. clean out the shoe closet: just plain needed and this will include tackling the mound of shoes in the storage room and the shoes the girls have in their room.

3. convince Alan to maybe get rid of a few things in his closet: because you just don't purge your husband's stuff yourself unless maybe he goes on a 6 month business trip and at that point, I don't think anyone would blame you.

4. rearrange/clean out the master bedroom: because it is just plain needed.

Long term we'd love to work on turning part of the garage into a mud room of sorts, especially with winter coming soon so we can cut down on the snow and mud tracked into the house and the boots and snow gear that end up tossed all over the house.

So wish me luck. Please.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Meal Plan

S: waffles (B), Katie's birthday dinner (D)
M: yogurt and muffins (B), potato soup (D)
T: pumpkin baked oatmeal (B), oven chicken tacos (D)
W: eggs in toast (B), pasta of some sort (D)
T: cereal (B), crock pot enchilada casserole (D)
F: breakfast casserole (B), tuna of some sort (D)
S: cinnamon rolls (B), pizza (D)

Fire Safety at Home Depot

October is fire safety month so it's fairly easy to find free stuff at the fire stations.  This is also the month when the Home Depot kids' workshop turns into a fire safety workshop. This month there was a fire truck for the kids to explore, several police cars for the kids to climb in (Liam pointed out that the criminals ride in the back behind the screen and found the weapons hanging up behind the front seat), free LEGO kits, hats, pencils, stickers, snacks, a raffle, and a fire plane to build.
The sirens on the police car kept going off in the store, the sirens on the fire truck kept going off outside the store.  It was kiddie heaven. While holding a nail for Gabe at one point he tells me as serious as can be "I'll try not to hurt you, Mom."  Good thinking, kid.  Of course, I forgot my camera but thank you to the Gates police and fire departments for coming out and letting the kids play. They had a blast.

Happy Birthday Katie!

Miss Kathleen turned 9 yesterday.  Which means Alan has officially been in the Air Force for 9 and 1/2 years and I've been driving the big green van for 9 years. 9 years ago the roof of the house suffered damage from a hurricane and Alan flipped out insisting  I pack up the kids and evacuate for the only hurricane out of the 4 that hit us that year that was a big fat nothing. Yes, it was a momentous year that year. (Have I ever mentioned that those months before and right after Katie was born were, um, super fun for me to manage alone.)

Alan insisted we call Katie Kathleen at first. I spent 2 months telling everyone her name was Kathleen. Then he came home and said nope, she's a Katie.  Funny how those things happen.
This year we went to the waterpark to celebrate on Monday (because that is the cheap ticket day right now). I have pictures but  they are on the other computer which is fighting with me right now so they'll have to wait. Dad had to work out of town yesterday and all weekend so we'll have to put off her birthday dinner until our schedules collide somehow.  Katie made her own birthday cake yesterday and let Robert help her. I felt a tad guilty until Alan pointed out that she wanted to do it herself so it's not like she was forced to because no one else would make one.
Happy birthday little lady. Hope you had a wonderful day.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Stocking the Pantry on a Budget

A well stocked pantry is supposed to save you money. It won't do that if you are paying full price for everything. So you do need to know prices and know when things are on sale. You do need to learn how to properly store goods long term. But you also need to learn when and how to use coupons and store sales. Today I managed to spend $7.82 and save $17.99. For that $7.82, I bought 2 packages of diapers to donate, 2 cans of tomato sauce, 2 jars of spaghetti sauce,  a 6 pack of organic yogurt smoothies, and $2.60 of candy for the birthday girl. The yogurt was free (coupon direct from the manufacturer) and the tomato sauce was free.  Each package of diapers cost $1.86 with tax and the spaghetti sauce was 79 cents each.  Definitely cheaper than full price. Which means I can afford to provide for our family, donate to food banks/pregnancy centers, and splurge on things like coffee, beer, soda, ice cream, and treats for the kids every so often which truly makes a big difference around here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Fences

I must admit that every time the sheep run through their fence, that wonderful quote from Jurassic Park pops into my head: "Even Nedry knew better than to mess with the Raptor fences."  And I chuckle just little bit. But I'm weird like that.

Shepherds to the Rescue

Are you looking for adventure books for your younger readers? Something engaging but not full of fluff? The book Shepherds to the Rescue fits this bill perfectly.

Shepherds to the Rescue is the first in a series of books that follows the adventures of siblings Caleb, Hannah, and Noah as they travel back in time to experience the time of Jesus.

I was pleased to find that the book does not focus exclusively on telling bible stories, but instead focused much of the time on learning about how everyone lived during the time of Jesus. This book introduced you to the life led by a young shepherd boy named Benjamin.  As Caleb, Hannah, and Noah spend time with Benjamin, they learn of the differences between their lives and Benjamin's.  They follow this young boy as he cares for his sheep, help him defend the animals from an attack, and witness his love for the sheep as the boy fears one of them has been lost. They also hear the story of Jesus' birth from those who experienced it first hand.

Shepherds to the Rescue is a wonderful book for early elementary readers that will get then interested and teach them about the life of Jesus with a slightly different perspective than normal. This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Gospel Time Trekkers:Shepherds to the Rescue Vol.1. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papalYear of Faith.