Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Using Amazon to Save Your Budget

It is no secret that I have managed to become rather skilled at finding new ways to save our family money in as many ways as possible. It is one of those things that goes along with living on a budget and raising a large family. And, no, budget is not a bad word nor does it mean we are poor. It just means we live on a budget, something that used to be considered a good and responsible thing.

Most people realize by now that Amazon Prime provides you with some wonderful benefits. We use it for streaming tv shows and movies, free kindle books, free music, and free 2 day shipping. Our college kids also have used their own free college prime memberships. Not necessarily because they need to but because that way they can get away with watching things on their computers that we don't allow them to watch around the younger children. Yes, we are fairly strict about what the younger children can watch and what the older ones are allowed to expose the younger ones to while at home.

Two other services that Amazon offers that I use on a regular basis to pinch pennies are Amazon Mom and Amazon Subscribe and Save. The Amazon Mom program provides you with 20% orders of diapers and baby food. combining this program (free to join) with other sales allows me to get some killer deals on baby products. In recent months I've been able to buy cases of diapers for around $15. Yes, cases of diapers. We do use primarily cloth diapers but there are times when it is nice to have a back up. The prices are also low enough to allow regular donations to a pregnancy center or low income Mom in your life.  Now that Charlie is actually able to eat real food, I've started watching the prices on baby food. Using Amazon Mom to buy baby food and getting 20% allows me to get cases of organic baby food for less than conventional prices. Yes, using coupons at the grocery store can sometimes be cheaper but this option saves me from going out of the house and delivers more at one time. And I do realize that skipping baby food is even cheaper but for right now, Charlie cannot eat the stuff I would normally feed a baby her age since her mouth is still healing.

Subscribe and Save is another program I've started using recently. To get the most out of this program, you have to order 5 different items each month. With an order of 5 items, you get 15% off every item. Combing this 15%, free shipping, and sale prices allows me to find some incredible deals. Not every item will be worth ordering but if you keep track of prices, you can find some good deals. Typical items that I order each month are deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and dishwashing detergent. The orders change every month since I cancel the recurrent orders as soon as the box arrives. In recent months, I've found great deals on oatmeal, pasta, baby shampoo, and cereal.

Everything is shipped directly to our door which is rather convenient.And the kids get giant boxes to play in. I do think that is their favorite part.  Even if you aren't looking for savings, if you are dealing with an illness or a time when you can't get to the store regularly, Amazon can make your life so much easier when used properly.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Meal Plan

breakfast options for the week are yogurt, bagels, eggs, cereal or oatmeal

snack options are fruit, popcorn, animal crackers, string cheese or fruit leather

M: grilled cheese, fruit (L), pulled pork over baked potatoes, veggies (D)
T: bean and cheese quesadillas, fruit (L), chili with corn bread (D)
W: corn dog muffins (L), pasta with meat sauce, salad (D)
T: leftovers (L), spicy chicken soup with cheddar muffins (D)
F tuna sandwiches, fruit (L), spinach tortellini soup, rolls (D)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Congratulations Robert!

Robert celebrated his first confession tonight. He said it went rather well other than being a bit scared because he did not know the priest. Next up is his First Communion in December.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Meal Plan

Breakfast options for the week are bagels, frozen pancakes/waffles, yogurt and granola, or eggs and toast. All served with fruit.

Lunch options are sandwiches or leftovers. Burritos if I'm able to convince one of the children to help me make a batch for the freezer.

Dinners for the week:
S: beef teriyaki over rice
M: tacos
T: buffalo chicken and potato casserole
W: cheeseburger soup
T: leftovers
F: fish
S: not sure yet

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Surgery Update

Charlie had her second surgery on Thursday. She came home on Friday and is doing relatively ok. Given that the surgery was in her mouth and you need to use your mouth to eat, she will likely have a very painful recovery. I see lots of snuggle time in her future.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Meal Plan

Breakfast options for the week are eggs, cereal, and oatmeal, all served with fruit.

Lunches for the week are sandwiches, quesadillas, or leftovers.

Snack options for the week are fruit, baby carrots and cucumbers, fruit leather, string cheese, or popcorn.

Dinners planned for the week:
M: chili and corn bread
T: chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole
W: pasta, salad
T: crockpot beef stew, rolls
F: fish, vegetables

Just Had to Share

Sharing this because it is an incredibly important message that I've noticed several adults in my children's lives do not seem to understand. I do not care if you are a parent, grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend. You never have the right to insist that anyone has to hug you or kiss you or anything of the sort. Teaching children that they have to hug or kiss you because you are a relative or a friend and you say so puts them at risk and tells them to ignore their natural instincts and warning signs. And trust me when I say I am now at the point of pulling out the mean Mom the next time I see someone demand that my kids have to hug or kiss them just because of who they are. This was something I was always forced to do with relatives growing up and it always made me uncomfortable. Like skin crawling uncomfortable but I was never given a choice. I can no longer stand by and watch the same thing happen to my kids. The first thing we tell them is so and so is coming to visit and you do not have to hug or kiss them if you don't want to. Then so and so shows up and demands the kids hug or kiss them anyway. I have failed my kids by not speaking up loudly enough when I can see they are uncomfortable but it is high time that changes.

School This Year

**I was going to put pictures in but then, well, that will take too long right now. Maybe I'll add them later. Maybe not.**

School has been in full swing for a while now around here. We took a long look at our schedule and demands on our time this year and decided to try something a little different. All of the kids are actually enrolled in a full service provider this year. Which is different but given that we had so many surgeries and such things to work around this year, I thought it might make things easier. So what are we actually using this year?

Ellie is in Kindergarten this year. She is doing Seton K this year. We are not far enough into the program yet for me to have figured out how they teach reading with Seton but hopefully it will be easy enough.

Robert is in 2nd grade. He is also enrolled with Seton. Admittedly, he has a little bit of catch up work to do before we can jump into the program completely because last year was just as hectic as this one will likely be but he's doing rather well.

Gabe is in 4th grade and is also doing Seton. The only substitution we have made is that he is using Teaching Textbooks 4 and 5 instead of their math. It is just so much easier for me to have math on the computer for the older ages so I don't get behind on grading it. Grading 7 different levels of math every single day is a huge pain. Seriously.

Abby is in 5th grade with Queen of Heaven Academy. At the 5th grade level, the school does not offer every class necessary for a full load so she is also doing other things as well. Her history, English, religion, and reading are with Queen of Heaven. Everything else is a mix of stuff thrown together at home. She is using handwriting, science, and health from Seton. Art will be from CHC. For math she is also using Teaching Textbooks 5. For music, she is taking piano lessons and The Story of the Orchestra. Chances are that Gabe will sit in on some of the art and music with her. She also has a basic map skills book.

Katie and Liam are in 8th grade with Queen of Heaven. Everything other than health, art, and music are covered with them. For health, they are using a course from Accelerated Christian Education. Music will be studying a couple of composers.They aren't doing art this year since they covered it last year but I am hoping to also add in a typing program for them. Submitting all of their work online is a wee bit more of a challenge without proper typing skills.

Kieran is in 9th grade with Queen of Heaven Academy. He is also enrolled in a typing course through Seton Homestudy. Not only because he needs the typing skills but because NY State has different requirements than QHA does for graduation and we must follow NY rules. And, well, there are a few classes Mom thinks all the kids should take no matter what so even with full enrollment in a set program, there are a few things I will add on each year.

Sean received notice from the school district that he is done with high school (a year early) so even though he is currently enrolled in a dual-enrollment program at college, we are counting this as his first year of college. Hopefully he will get all of his regular enrollment and financial aid paperwork in before next semester so we won't have to pay for the next semester. I do have to say that switching our older kids to college classes for the last 2 years of high school was the best decision for us. Let's face it. Most of the end of high school is a huge gigantic waste of time. All of those early college classes can be taken for high school credit anyway so why waste your time and money. Admittedly, I do NOT believe that everyone needs to go to college. That is a huge lie we have been selling people causing them to graduate with way too much debt, entering into a job market that is no longer there. But that is a story for another day. I still prefer to not have the kids waste their time with 4 years of traditional high school when there are so many other, better options out there.

We have found both positives and negatives to our current arrangement. The biggest positive is that the older children have someone else to answer to regarding their work. This has given them a challenge that they needed. However, we have found a huge negative to be the school schedule with Queen of Heaven. The kids all have live on-line classes M-TH. They cannot miss these classes for much of anything. Even a doctor's appointment is considered an unexcused absence. Their teachers, however, are able to cancel classes for almost anything. The double standard is frustrating, to say the least. We are also no longer able to attend field trips or sign the kids up for extra curricular activities they are interested in during the day or even attend daily Mass. We were unable to take any time off as a family when Alan returned because it would be unexcused. And obviously, we can't have anyone visit during the school day because that just won't work at all for any reason. In other words, we have lost the very flexibility that we love about homeschooling. So I am completely on the fence regarding staying with Queen of Heaven after this year. We will have to see how things continue to work out.