Saturday, January 31, 2009

Amie's meme

Okay, I don't think she intended it to be a meme, but there was no way I could answer all her questions in the tiny space that is the comment box. You know, because I didn't want to monopolize her blog space like that.

So because I love you Amie and I also need something to write about here it is:

1. What do you listen to in the car? Talk Radio/music Radio/CD or nothing. Does anybody actually prefer silence in their car? We listen to Dora and Friends Animal Jamboree because if we don't we have to listen to a very hysterical, high-pitched "I wan Doe-wah" over and over.

2. Do you have an Ipod? If so, what's the last thing you loaded on it? I do have an ipod. I love my ipod. But the last time I loaded anything onto it was in May before we moved. Even though the itunes store is loaded onto my laptop, I can't buy songs for some reason. And of course everyone bought me an itunes giftcard for Christmas. I can't remember the last song I loaded, but I think it was Daughter from Knocked Up

3.Do you have a Facebook page? Am I your friend? I am addicted to Facebook. I love chatting throughout the day with friends I haven't seen in twenty ten years. Amie and I are friends. Do you wanna be friends too?

4. What's the best book you read last year? Did I read a book last year? You know I did read the new Stephen King book and it was good but I can't remember the name of it. I also read all of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books and I loved them. Does that make me hopelessly immature?

5. What's the best movie you watched last year? Dan in Real Life. It rates up there in my all time top ten. I loved that movie.

6. Do you buy music online? Well, I did when my itunes store was working.

7. What is one brand you are loyal to? Johnson and Johnson. I like all their baby soaps, shampoos, etc. I even use them myself. I don't think the generic brands smell as good. I also only use Pampers diapers. They are more expensive than I'd like to pay but anything else gives my kids diaper rash.

8. Did you watch Lost last week? If so, what did you think? Lost continues to confuse me, but I enjoyed it because I'd missed it. I miss Charlie. And Claire. And I want to know what the heck is up with Locke and why he died under a different name. Or is he really dead?

9. What do you hope to accomplish in 2009? I hope to spend more time with my kids each day.

10. M&Ms or Skittles? They used to make a crispy M&Ms that I loved but I haven't seen them for a while, so without those I'd have to say Skittles. Sour Skittles.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This is Why I Didn't Want a Dog

I've been reading the book Marley and Me. I wanted to take my kids to see the movie, but a friend warned me about the sad, I-should've-figured-that ending. Still, though, the trailers reminded me of our early days with our sweet Lab and I just wanted to see what it was all about it. So I got the book at the library. Three weeks ago.

I couldn't put the book down during the first few chapters. I'd tell my husband about things puppy Marley did that were surprisingly identical to things puppy Ezra did, so much so I figured the author must have had a secret spy camera aimed directly on our old Eighth Street house and was stealing all of our good material. Seriously. I could've written that book. And it would be ME being paid exorbitantly for the film rights.

Marley couldn't sleep his first night home, neither could Ezra. Marley's person gave up and brought him into his bedroom. So did we. Marley was terrified of thunderstorms, so is Ezra. Marley stood watch over the newborn babies. Ditto Ez. I could go on and on. It was fun reading the reminders of the little things I'd forgotten (or chosen to forget) after three tiny children invaded our lives bumping our big black baby back down to family dog status.

Toward the end of the book, Marley's family moves (We did too!). They begin to notice his gray hairs (yep) and maybe, just maybe, he's not hearing and seeing them as well as he used to (hmmmm). Then they start having to let him out in the middle of the night to relieve himself and helping up steps.

That's where I stopped reading. I can't read anymore. Oh, it'd be quick and easy to finish, there's only a few pages left. But I can't read anymore.

A few weeks ago, Ezra tripped going over a curb. Last weekend, he started having accidents in "his room" at night. The first time I attributed it to a random accident. The second time I figured it was unavoidable after gorging himself on all the wasted birthday hot dogs he swiped from the garbage cans. I mean, it could be that, right? He was fine for a couple of days, whining loudly enough to wake us a couple of nights to send him out and do his business, but last night he broke free. In more ways than one. Sigh.

But he's okay! My sister's dog has needed a midnight walk since she was a puppy. This is normal. He's young. He's only ten! For three more weeks.

I see him peering at me from the back door. Freezing his poor pampered tushy off in the 36 degree weather under a huge sign telling me DO! NOT! BRING! EZRA! IN! HE! IS! INCONTINENT! and he looks fine. He's smiling even. Smiling that sweet little Lab smile to convince me how cute he'll be inside lying at our feet. And I want him at my feet. I need him at my feet. But I am banned.

The book tells me I only have about twenty pages left. The vet told us this summer that, WOW!, he's lived long for a full-bred dog. TEN! We're so lucky.

And we have been lucky. For all of Ezra's mischief, he's been a good a faithful companion. He still barks to warn me of a random children climbing onto counters. He barks when the kids swing too high. He gets between the kids and strangers on walks and leers at them menacingly, at least until they pet him. But the hard truth is he's old. He's almost eleven. He has a hard time standing sometimes. He has cataracts. He barks at random phantoms. He's apparently become incontinent. He's become an old dog.

I don't think I can bring myself to read those last twenty pages. I just don't think I want to know what comes next. For now, aside from the obvious hygiene issues, he seems to be doing pretty well. He can still fetch the Frisbee and catch it most of the time. He still wags himself silly when the kids just speak to him. But I know he's not getting any younger.

My heart hurts thinking about it, but I still have twenty more pages.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Adam!

January 23, 2005

The day I learned there was room in my heart for the love of two children.

Adam on the day he was born....

On his first birthday.....

On his second birthday.....

On his third birthday.....

And a few days before his fourth birthday....

My heart will always be full of love for my baby big boy Adam.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Good Recipe

Pork chops were on sale this week. $1.79 a pound for boneless loin chops. I usually put them in the crock pot with some vegetables, but I forgot to do that yesterday so I searched on one of my favorite sites,, and found a good and easy one that doesn't have to be prepared ten hours ahead.

And since ya'll might have pork chops on sale at your stores this week too, I will share it with you. Here's the original recipe.

And here's what I did with it.

Brown Sugar Chops

6 boneless pork chops
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons margarine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey

I sprayed a baking dish with non-stick spray and salt and peppered each side of the pork chops before placing them in the pan. I zapped all the other ingredients in the microwave and combined them well and then poured the mixture over each chop. I placed the pork chops in a preheated 350 degree oven covered with foil for 45 minutes. I took the foil off and sprinkled a little more brown sugar on top of each chop and cooked them another ten minutes and then a few minutes under the broiler to crisp the sugary crust.

There were no leftovers.

Even the picky ones licked their plate clean.

And with some cheap sweet potatoes the entire meal cost $4.25.

I'm glad I bought two packages.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy MLK Day!

I have a dream.

A dream to finally make my New Year's resolutions.

Can they still be called New Year's resolutions on January 19? Maybe I'll call them MLK Day Resolutions. And maybe one of my resolutions should be to do things in a timely manner. You know, like blog posts and thank you notes.

*Reminder: Get on those thank you notes*

Let's revisit last year shall we?

Okay, five out of fourteen is.....okay.

Our grocery bill continues to decline, I no longer go to Target for fun, I think I can honestly say I have a couple of real-life, come over and have a play date friends, we MOVED (halle-fricking-lujah!), and I do say a little prayer before I crawl out of bed each morning giving thanks for these sweet little creatures I call my own. You know, before they can do something to tick me off.

I honestly wasn't going to make any resolutions this year. I laughed in the face of all those people interviewed by the third string CNN reporters on New Years Eve. Who really keeps resolutions? Why do we do these things just to feel badly about them later? Why can't we better our lives every day instead of January 1? Huh? Who invented the resolution?

But old habits die hard. Can't teach an old dog new tricks. The urge to purge and organize and take control of my life hit hard before the tree ever made it back to the attic (which was yesterday, btw. See, not timely).

So, without further ado, my 2009 New Year's MLK Day Resolutions:

I will no longer yell I know. I say this every year. I always wanted to be one of those moms who could get her kid's attention and compliance with a soft pat on the shoulder, but I didn't receive those children. Or that husband. I am surrounded by yellers and I have fallen into that trap. I vow to end this once and for all and teach them all that we can accomplish things at lower decibels. I trained a class of loud third graders to pipe down by whispering to them for a week. I'm going to try it at home. Heaven help me.

I will no longer swear Yeah, yeah. I say this every year, too. I have gotten better. I no longer call the school drop-off line cutters dumb asses under my breath. They now go by ding-dongs, but it hasn't helped their rude road rage. But last week when I dropped a can of Dora soup on bare toe, my daughter said sh*t for the rest of the day. Very well. At the Christian school. So, I've got to get better. Wish me luck.

I will take more pictures I have TWO cameras and I really don't have many pictures from 2008 compared to other years. Maybe that's because we spent so much time packing, moving, unpacking, and evacuating for hurricanes, but really now, I need more pictures. I'll need them to remember my life when I'm senile in a nursing home. I also need to take more video. I can't remember the last time we dug the camcorder out. Was it Elizabeth's birthday? And by birthday I mean her actual birth day. I must get Adam saying lego-lo and Elizabeth saying Doe-wah before they stop.

I will feed my kids a healthy diet I try to limit artificial colors and preservatives and go all natural as much as possible, but it's hard to do that and stay within our budget. It's easy to see why there is so much obesity and poor health in high poverty areas. Healthy foods are usually pretty expensive. There's no way I can go completely organic or totally Feingold or we'd be broke. I can, however, serve more fruits and vegetables and offer healthier snacks. It's a start. Less sugar will help too.

I will comment on everyone's blogs at least once a week I love Google Reader, but it's made me lazy. It's so easy to read, chuckle, make a mental note to go back and comment, and then move on to the next in line. And then I'll get busy with my day and never go back. And I do remember all the awards I need to post. I am grateful for them, really, I just need to post them. Someday. Last year was a bad commenting/posting year for me. I got wwaayy behind when we moved and never quite dug myself out of it. I know I need to show the love more and I'll try to do better, but at the same time....

I will limit my computer time Really. I need to. I will log on with the intentions of checking my mail and my Facebook notifications and then look over and realize I've left my kids vegging in front of the tube for an hour. I heart my blogs. And Facebook. And I really love to play Word Twist and Scavenger Hunt and Webkinz. They are my fix, my nicotine, but I didn't become a stay home mom to play on the computer all day. So my plan is to log on for that half hour the kids are enjoying Dora in the morning and after they're in bed for the night. I might need prayers for this one. And this brings me to the one that's most important to me....

I will spend more quality time with ALL my kids Oh, I spend TONS of time with these kids. I'm never away from them. Shoot, sometimes I have two of them curled up in bed with me at night. We run errands together. We eat meals together. They play toys right beside me while I scrub bathrooms and cook meals. We just don't always spend time together. Last week while the rest of the country was just trying to stay warm, the kids and I walked to the creek. We threw rocks and picked weeds flowers and ate a picnic lunch outside. And then we did it again the next day. I did not bring my computer with me. I left dishes in the sink and toys on the floor. Leaving a dirty house did not ultimately kill the perfectionist me. We had fun. I got lots of kisses those days. I want to do more with the littles while they're still at home with me all day. And I want to find time to do more with Jacob, too. I can have a spotless house when they've left home.

Which reminds me that Dora has become Wonder Pets and I need to get off now. Jacob is home today so we can all walk to the creek together. Shoot, I might even get ambitious and leash up the dog.

2009 will be a good year.

Because look at all I already have:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

So....Here's Part Two

Now, where was I?

Oh, yeah. 1995 with a stack of coupons.

Fast forward fourteen-ish years.

I still use the coupons. Now, though, I'm better at it. This is how I do it:

I clip the coupons from the Sunday newspaper. I save the grocery ads from Thursday's junk mail packet. On Monday of every week, after we've dropped Jacob from school, eaten our little breakfast, and turned on Dora/Diego, I get to work. I pore through the ads from the two grocery stores nearest me. I circle all the things on sale that our family will eat. I then go through the pantry, fridge, and freezer and see what might go with those things to make a meal. For example, chicken breasts are currently $1.77 a pound at my fancy grocery store. I have carrots, onions, and a slow cooker seasoning packet for chicken my mom gave me. I can have slow cooker chicken one day this week, I just need to add potatoes to my list as the packet calls for them. One meal down.

I plan four, sometimes five, meals a week. One meal is always soup. Everyone here loves soup and most of my recipes make enough to freeze what's leftover for another meal. So I'll go through the soup section of the recipe box and see what I can make with the things on sale in the ad. Two meals down.

I do the same thing with the remaining meals.

On the days I don't plan a meal, we eat leftovers or sandwiches (from whatever lunchmeat's on sale). And at least one night a week, usually Saturday, we have Yoyo night. Yoyo. You're On Your Own. Everybody just chooses something from the pantry/fridge he wants to eat. It's usually cereal.

Then I use the ads and the recipes to make a list for each store. I prefer the fancy grocery store because they have a better selection, it's cleaner, and overall their prices are cheaper. But. They only take my coupons at face value. The other grocery store, the one that's a pain to get into, a pain to drive out of, and organized very confusingly, they double/triple coupons.

Then I attempt to match sale items to coupons. Like just recently the other store had frozen dinner rolls on sale for $1.99. I never buy them even though I love them because they are regularly $3.48. I had a 50 cent coupon that was doubled so I paid 99 cents for them. And they were delicious with our Christmas dinner.

Some weeks I'll go to both stores. Most of the time I choose the one I can get the bigger deals. At the end of a month I will always make a trip to the other store to use my expiring coupons. If I can get a good deal, like almost free, I'll buy it and use it to stock my pantry.

So here are my grocery "secrets":

1. I buy mostly on sale items. The only things I regularly buy not on sale is milk, bread, and bananas.

2. We eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. We just don't know which ones we're going to be eating until the ads come out. I only buy produce that's on sale. And usually less than a dollar a pound. The fancy store had a Buddha's hand that smelled awesome and would've been a great conversation piece, but even on sale it was $12.99 a pound. I'll pass. Give me those oranges for 89 cents please.

3. If meat is on sale, like the chicken this week, I'll pick up two and freeze the second one. This is much easier to do now that we have our old refrigerator in the garage and more freezer space.

4. My store has a clearance bin where they toss items that have gotten a little damaged or someone's opened it. Every week I can get real Poptarts there for less than a dollar. The husband doesn't care if his poptarts come in a dented box. He also doesn't seem to care that they aren't always cherry anymore. I also find lots of cereal and cat food there. Two dollars for 22 cans of cat food is much better than ten dollars for 24 cans.

5. Oh, how could I forget? Store brand is good. Store brand is cheaper. There are only a few things I've found that are better in name brand. Whole berry cranberry sauce is one. Crescent rolls are another.

So that's pretty much it. You can do the same thing with The Grocery Game. They already match the sales and coupons for you so you only really have to figure out what you want to buy. I would sign up for it, but I save more money doing it myself. They charge a fee.

I think I might make this a weekly post because I have tons of other little things I do to stretch out our grocery dollar. If I posted them all now it would take up the entire page.

Do you have a money saving tip? Do tell! Post it on your own blog and leave a link or post a comment. The more money I can save means one more year of private school or stay-at-home mommyness for me, so I'm all ears!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


So officially it was yesterday. I am always the last to receive pertinent information.

I know you're out there.

Post a comment already.

Join our little love fest.

I won't bite.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


You wanna know my grocery secrets, do you?

You wanna know how I feed my family of five on under four hundred bucks a month?

Lots and lots of practice.

Seriously, though. I'll start at the beginning. Are you sitting down?

Once upon a time before I was married or had children, I lived completely alone, just me and my cat, teaching elementary school children by day and vegging out on a comfy air mattress watching that new-fangled Friends sitcom by night. It was 1994 and it was the first time I'd ever lived alone. It was also the first time I was totally financially alone. I had a good job. I made pretty good money for a teacher, but alas, I had a new car payment, a new adjustable rate mortgage, and I liked to shake my early-twenty-something booty on the dance floor every weekend at a cool bar that required a hefty cover charge (five bucks, but, really! Five bucks?). I also liked air conditioning and being able to dry my hair in the morning and who knew THAT cost so much money?? Well, my dad because he reminded us daily for over eighteen years, but it had never been more apparent than the moment my first electricity bill arrived.

Man, I thought I was rich when I tore open those fold here and tear strips on my first "real" paycheck. 888.50. Oh. My. Gawd. I deposited $600 of it for my mortgage payment ($600 bucks?) and cashed the rest on the way to the fancy mall and blew it in one afternoon. I still have the blueberry Yankee Candle that was, oh, so necessary at that time. Boy that smell really takes me back.....

Oh, well, anyway, yada, yada, I was rich or so I thought and then realized, hey, I don't have any money left after I pay all these bills and staying home on a Friday night just wasn't an option and I couldn't drink beer on my friend's alimony payment forever.

So something had to give.

I wasn't that hungry back then so the groceries were the first to go. That and my work required physical showed my cholesterol to be 238 which, apparently, is pretty crazy for a 24ish year old. The first thing I did was give up meat. I ate only fruits and vegetables. I checked the cholesterol on every label and subsequently gave up many of the tasty and expensive snacks I so enjoyed. I kicked the soda habit that had been dragging me down for years. I began drinking tap water. In an old Mountaineer bottle. All day. You know, because this was before the bottled water craze began, you know, because I am OLD. I never did have my cholesterol rechecked, but I felt better. And I had a little more money in the pocketbook.

And then. Then my friend quit receiving alimony and introduced me to coupons.

Cue the trumpets and fanfare because, ALL HAIL THE COUPONS!

OMG! How did I NOT know about these things before?

1995. The year Andria learned how to shop.

To be continued........

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

You say it's January?

It's still Christmas at our house.

Really. The tree is still up. The stockings still hung by the chimney with care. The Christmas photos just now loaded onto the computer.

I know you're probably all holidayed out, but here's our Christmas recap. In pictures.

Jacob loved the Optimus Prime that Adam bought for him. Poor Adam, though, didn't quite understand that once he opened it, it didn't immediately return back to him.

We let the kids open their gifts from one another on Christmas Eve morning. We take them shopping separately, give them ten bucks and let them pick out for their siblings. Amazing how much they love the matchbox cars and crayons that might otherwise get pushed aside by the bigger things on Christmas morning.

We went to church on Christmas Eve. Elizabeth had to have somewhere to wear the fancy dress I couldn't pass up. You can see that the fancy headband lasted all of two minutes.

And this would've been the best. picture. ever. Think I could just pencil some eyeballs in there?

The only night of the year my boys go to bed quietly, happily, and willingly.

Elizabeth. Not so much.

I know this was Jacob's only Christmas wish, but really Santa, do you know just how many of those teeny weeny pieces are covering his floor at this moment? 799. They hurt when you step on them.

That baby sure was a big hit.

Until the Bumblebee was located.

Just let us open the presents already!

My mom gave Jacob a Nintendo DS, he asked for one, but knowing he'd probably figure out what it was, she wrapped it inside a shoe box.

Pretend there is a picture of him with the most sour look on his face because my camera never would snap for that one. It was classic. I know you shouldn't laugh at your kids, but it was truly funny. "SHOES! I didn't want SHOES!" Good times.

Adam, for the record, was happy to get shoes. Of course they were Optimus Prime shoes.

And that's about it. I refused to be a slave to the camera this year and just enjoyed the moments.

The kids probably got half of what they've received in previous years which was nicer because they were able to actually PLAY with everything. No toys left in boxes or poor misfit toys unloved in a corner. One nice thing about being poor this year.

Only 353 more days until we do it again!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

I'm Back!

And this is why Ipods were invented.


So much fun.