Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Netflix junkie

I recently joined Netflix. Actually, this past Monday, to be exact. I had entered a drawing on a blog for a free month-long trial period and won. And then found out my brother is a subscriber and gets those deals to pass on all the time. Still, free is free so I signed up yesterday. Within 20 minutes, we have 26 dvd's in our queue and 2 in our "instant watch" section. I love netflix. We should be getting 3 movies to watch in the mail tomorrow and I can't wait. How exciting!

We've really gotten into renting movies lately so this is right up our alley. We were renting from our library (which is free) or from Redbox (only a $1) so I don't know that netflix will save us money. But (and this is HUGE) - we don't have to leave our house! And there is no due date!

They have a great selection. There was one movie in particular that I was curious to see if they had. I heard about it a couple of years ago but couldn't find it anywhere. Not only do they have it, it's an "instant watch" online so I can watch it whenever I want! I'll let you know what it is after I watch it and see if it's any good. :)

I found out there is this thing you can buy called a Roku that connects to your wireless connection and then you can watch anything on Netflix on your tv instead of your laptop. Very cool. Not because I hate watching movies on this screen - it's not that bad. But trying to have two people watch a movie on this screen is difficult - someone always has a glare or funny shadow on the screen. My speakers are not very loud and when I watch a movie on here, I can't check email, which drives me crazy. I think Roku will be going on my Christmas list.

I think when our trial month is over, we'll be signing up.

Giving up

I'm giving up the idea of only shopping once or twice a month. I feel like I miss out on too many deals and my money is spent too quickly. Both times this month I've ran out and I can't figure out where all that extra food is. It doesn't seem like we're eating more or needing more things. So I'm going back to my regular way for now. I'm going to continue doing the weekly meal plan and see how it goes. I might try the "shop for a month" idea again at some point. I've been reading some books about freezer cooking and think I'd like to try that sometime, too. Set aside a day to cook a bunch of meals and have those in the freezer. Maybe a mix of both ideas.

Next month will be a bit different. We're going on vacation for a week and my parents have provided for our meals for the most part. Then later in the month we'll be going home for Thanksgiving. We're also not putting as much extra into savings so we can start our Christmas shopping. I was debating about whether to put less in the grocery budget since we'll be consuming less food but I think I'm going to put the regular amount in there so I can stock up. Or even just finish without going over. It'd be nice for a change. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's for dinner?

I had good intentions, honestly I did. I wrote out some meal plans for the next couple of weeks and even filled out some lunch ideas. Then Saturday evening, Tori had a fever and just laid around. That meant we wouldn't be going to the potluck dinner at our church on Sunday, which meant I needed to fix a meal here. Sunday evening, Brendan and I started coming down with it. Monday, Tori was up and running, which gave me hope for the next day because I was pretty wiped out all day Monday. I did have the presence of mind to take out ground beef and Josh made tacos for supper that night. The meal plan said sloppy joes but I didn't have hamburger buns yet.

Then Rachel started coming down with it on Monday night. Tuesday night was supposed to be tacos, but since we had just had that on Monday and still didn't have hamburger buns (hard to get to the store this week between illness and football practice), I tried a recipe for chicken pot pie for the first time. I really liked it and it was very easy to put together. Tori was less than thrilled but that happens so often, it doesn't even phase me anymore.

Then I received an email informing us that our church program on Wednesday night was cancelled because of school cancellations due to illness. This meant that there would be no dinner at the church.

So, here it is, Wednesday afternoon, and I still don't know what's for dinner. I took out chicken from the freezer but don't know what I"ll do with it. Need inspiration to strike soon . . .

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pigtails!

Rachel's hair has gotten quite long recently. I put it up in pigtails the other day and she just loved swinging it around. Already a head-banger!
video

Monday, October 19, 2009

What happened to the days of flag football?

When did he go from this . . .

to this?

Brendan is #16. He likes to wear his long baseball socks with a red stripe on the side - very handy for locating him on the field. I can always find him on the line-up, but once the play starts going, I usually lose him. I have a hard time following football!

He's really enjoyed his first year of tackle football. Josh wasn't sure if he'd like it - thought maybe it'd be too aggressive for him. I was hoping he was right. He wasn't. Brendan's only complaint is that he wants the ball more, even though that means lots of guys trying to crush him to the ground.

One thing I have noticed since he started playing is that he's more affectionate to me. It might be coincidence. Or maybe the fact that he's playing a more grown-up sport and getting to let out some aggression has helped him realize he can still get hugs from his mom. Either way I hope it lasts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Family time

I was cleaning out our game cupboard today. I do this periodically, probably 3 times a year. We have these huge cupboards in our dining room that hold a lot but they're very deep and high so storage isn't always practical. The game boxes get stacked up and we end up with about 4 piles stacked 10 games high. I'm not joking. Then one child wants the game 2nd from the bottom and guess what happens? I should probably clean this out every other week, but whatever.

I realized that we have a lot of really fun games! Josh and I used to play games a lot. I'm not sure when that stopped. I know we haven't played much since the twins were born but it might have stopped before that. No sense blaming them for everything. :)

It might have stopped when he kept winning at Sequence and I got really, really annoyed. I am a fairly good loser. I have had lots of practice at it. But when you just can't win, no matter how many times you play the stupid game, it gets frustrating.

At any rate, the games have started me thinking about our family time or lack thereof. I'm with the kids during the day and do school and life lessons with them. Then when Josh gets home, I tend to check out. Whether it's just mentally or physically, I retreat and let him take over the parenting. He tends to be more physcial with the kids and will play sports outside or wrestle on the living room floor. I sit and watch while knitting or typing an email or reading a book. There aren't many times that we all do something together unless it's eating out or a family shopping trip.

I want to start changing that. I'm going to organize the entertainment center so more games can fit in there since we tend to play on the living room floor. I'm also going to say that no video or computer games can be played after 5 unless you are playing with someone. I'd like to designate a family game night but things come up and schedules get changed so I don't know how effective that would be. Maybe I can schedule a few on the calendar when I plan meals and see how our month is looking.

My oldest is 9. His time here at home could possibly be half over. I just really feel the need to make the most of these years before they are all gone. I've been watching lots of home videos lately and I think it's making me realize how quickly the time has gone by. I just want to hold on a little more tightly now. Just for a little while.

And yet more budgeting talk

Sorry for all the budgeting talk but it's a big part of my life right now.

We're making good progress though. I really do feel we're on the right track and have a good plan in place.

The menu plan needs some work. I actually went over-budget with my cool menu plan. I'm really not sure how that happened but will work on it some more.

I also realized that when you don't at least pencil in a lunch menu, you end up having sandwiches. A lot. So, I will be planning lunches and suppers this next time. I'm still working on the new plan. I've been asking my family what they think are "1-month meals" (meals to just have once a month) or "2-month meals" (meals worthy enough to have twice a month).

Here's hoping this next one will go better!

Monday, October 12, 2009

My goal as a parent

I've been thinking about my goals as a parent - what do I want to teach my kids and what do I hope is the end result? That will play a part in decisions I make now. I also second-guess myself often (think I've mentioned that before) and sometimes wonder if homeschooling really is the best for them. I have no doubt that it's what I want to do but also don't want to hinder them in any way.

I am fairly certain they won't be hindered academically. That is not a real concern. They may not always be doing what their peers are doing but I also believe in going slower when needed so that things sink in and make sense before moving ahead to new material. I also don't believe in frustrating them but want them to be challenged - this can be difficult to navigate. Sometimes there are tears and I realize I've been pushing too hard. Sometimes I realize I'm being too much of a "mom" and not enough of a "teacher" and need to push harder. Overall, I think they are doing very well academically and who else would want them to succeed in education more than me? It's not about getting A's or being able to spout off answers - it's about really knowing the material and being able to apply it. And it's very difficult to be able to assess that in a classroom.

I was thinking today about their ability to face new situations. Sometimes it seems like we just spend our time at home or at church with the same group of people. Then I remembered how eager Brendan was to go to baseball camp (4 days - from 9 until 3) and he didn't know a single person there! I was never like that. I realized that Tori has taken a class in gymnastics, ballet and played basketball and didn't know anyone there but it's never held her back. And I realized that they're going to be okay. They go into new situations with confidance and determination and it makes me so proud.

Our job as parents is not to smother, but to guide and protect and give them the chance to assert some independence. This could be getting on a bus and going to school all day. Maybe it's playing sports and taking classes with kids who are not playground peers. Or it could mean taking on more responsibility at home and having more chores to do. The end result is the same - we want to nudge our kids from the nest when it's time, little by little allowing them to stretch their wings and test themselves, standing by if they crash and cheering them to try again. It truly is the best job in the world.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Not even close . . .

As I mentioned last week, I made out a meal plan and grocery list for this pay period. My goals were to spend less money, enjoy cooking more, and shop less. I am enjoying cooking more - I love having the meals planned out. I know before I said that I rebelled against meal plans (and that could still happen - it's fairly early) but I also think it helped that I looked at our calendar and tried to plan according to what was going on. I was so relieved yesterday to see sloppy joes on the plan for today. So simple!

I am also shopping less and just have to watch our milk, cereal and fruit supply. No big deal.

But as far as spending less money? Not even close. I have a couple theories about this.
1. We were running low on a lot of things and now that we're shopping at Sam's again (oh, happy day!), I'll be able to stock up and will eventually get ahead and then I'll see some savings.
2. I wasn't spending more than necessary before. This will be a little sad because I'd like to reduce our grocery budget without changing how and what we eat.
3. I bought too many groceries for 15 days.

Maybe it will be a combination of the three. I won't know for sure until after a couple more attempts. I can see where #3 could be true. Yesterday I had planned to make bami but Josh, Brendan and Tori ended up being gone during supper so I just fixed leftovers for Rachel, Owen and I. So I have an extra meal to stick in somewhere.

It's definitely something I want to continue doing. I like having a plan for meals and a detailed list when I go shopping. It allows me time to focus on other things, like what to post about next!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hello, Sam's Club

Today we visited an old friend thatI haven't seen for awhile. We renewed our membership at Sam's Club. Oh, it was so good to go back.

I knew I'd have to be careful, going there on a budget. I planned my list carefully and only took cash, which turned out to be a very wise move. There are so many good deals there that it would be easy to get a couple cartfuls right now. But instead I picked the few things that we really needed or that seemed to be the best buy and wrote down prices of the rest. And spent just $2 less than what I had taken in. :)

I look forward to many more visits.